Nothing seems to repel us like suffering. Indeed, if we had our way, we’d entirely skip the whole crucifixion thing & leap straight to resurrection.
Maybe that’s why Peter, James & John slept in Gethsemane when Jesus told them to watch & pray, while He travailed in prayer with sweat like drops of blood. I would likely chose to sleep as well rather than watch my Invincible Hero suffer & appear frail & unraveled.
But here’s the best kept secret: there’s tremendous intimacy potential in sharing with suffering. While we follow & admire strength, nothing connects us with someone more than seeing & even sharing in weakness & pain. Some of my best friends have been through the most abysmal experiences with me – we’ve shared in suffering & the bond between us from those experiences has been immensely strengthened.
In Holy Week, today is Maunday Thursday. This is the day when Jesus shared the last supper with His disciples, washed their feet & travailed in Gethsemane. Jesus understands suffering & wants to connect deeply with us, not only in resurrection life, but also in struggles & suffering – the fellowship of suffering: Philippians 3:10-11
Do you have mindless habits? All of us have things that we do without giving much thought to them, such as brushing our teeth, driving home, morning routines, etc. It can be really helpful to have these kind of routines, but sometimes they’re counterproductive.
For example, in Luke 10, Martha & Mary had Jesus come to their house for dinner. Based on Martha’s behavior in other stories in the Gospels, it seems like she fell into the routine of cooking, serving & being busy with getting stuff done. All of these things aren’t inherently wicked, but if we allow our routines to sabotage our fellowship with Jesus, then they become more of a hindrance than a help.
Let’s always remember that Jesus said in Matthew 6:33 to seek His kingdom first & we’ll have what we need! Let’s be sure our routines reinforce our intimacy with Jesus rather than distract us in mindless disconnect 🙂
Presently, I have the honor of speaking at the Bible School Andrew Womack has, Charis Bible College and what an honor this is for me! I love many things about getting to minister here, but one of absolute favorite things is the fellowship & conversations around the Bible and about the Holy Spirit!
This makes me realize that God has set up our lives for communion & fellowship with others who follow Jesus.
Sometimes this can get tricky from various struggles: misunderstandings, conflicts, dysfunctions, misaligned purposes, etc.
With that being said, let’s be clear that God fully intends for us to keep fellowship with other believers. Consider Acts 2:42, “They were continually devoting themselves to the apostles’ teaching & to fellowship, to the breaking of bread & to prayer.”
Be sure to keep your fellowship with other followers of Jesus as a high priority in your life!
“Eat My flesh and drink My blood.” As we come into the Easter season (a little early for my Orthodox friends), we are often reminded of these words of Jesus at the Last Supper.
This statement about eating Jesus’ flesh and drinking His blood has raised many questions over the centuries:
Was Jesus anti-vegan or opposed to a vegetarian lifestyle?
Was this Jesus’ way of promoting a gluten-free lifestyle, emphasizing the consumption of meat & blood?
Was Jesus advocating a type of divine cannibalism?
As you read these questions & probably think of a few more, please don’t think that I’ve suddenly lost the plot & become obsessed with some new type of eating lifestyle. My goal with this post is to raise your awareness that we are coming into Holy Week, when we celebrate Jesus’ death & resurrection, around Jesus’ central words at the Last Supper, with His closest followers.
From my point of veiw, Jesus’ words about eating His flesh & drinking His blood show us in a really powerful way that Jesus love for us runs so deep that He invites us to not only revel in His strength & resurrection, but also to fellowship with Him in His suffering, pain & death – Phil 3:10. Let’s fully enjoy all of Who Jesus is during this Easter season!
I started coming to China more than 25 years ago & I totally love this place & the people even more! China is wonderful in lots of different ways – rich history, very cool people, great food, diverse cultures & much more.
But let me encourage you that wherever you are at, God is present & eager to have fellowship with you. I believe with all of my heart that God made you for the purpose of enjoying your company in all places: whether you’re
*at home in the routines of daily living,
*in a really difficult season of life,
*swamped with an ocean of demands & responsibilities,
*going into a busy weekend
*enjoying China ,)
I’m learning some cool things with God lately & right up front please know that I’m all about knowing God & having an increasingly deeper & deeper relationship with God. With these things in mind, I’m really dialed into prayer & being with God as well as working on different ways & modes of being with God. So this morning I had some nice prayer time with God – good stillness & connecting. But for me it can be tricky to keep that “level” of fellowship in the contexts of the many demands that I have on any given day. So I was talking with God about this challenge & i felt God speak to me that our fellowship doesn’t have to decrease throughout the various activities of the day – it just changes. The morning stillness gets to be adjusted to a more conversational context – chatting about what’s happening & even maintaining a continuous stream of dialogue. Don’t let your relationship with God get boxed into suffocating expectations. God has lots of ways, methods & strategies for connecting with us & we get to say whole heartedly, “YES!!!!”
Last night was one of the coolest evenings I’ve had in several years. Our church joined with 2 other churches to have a worship might with all 3 congregations. There were lots of things I thoroughly loved about the evening & probably my top favorite things are:
*unity – Jesus prayed when He was on earth that our Father would make us one like He & the Father are one. Experiencing some of the unity that Jesus prayed for was magnificent!
*worship versus performance – I totally loved getting to participate with my heart, soul, body & emotions to lift up Jesus, rather than sitting & watching excellent & skilled musicians make beautiful music
*fellowship – there’s nothing that can compete with genuine spiritual fellowship & communion with brothers & sisters in Christ – such rich heart food
What a great honor to lift up Jesus with other whole hearted believers!!
I have this eating trick that’s kind of stupid, but it works for me: whatever I like the least is what I eat first & whatever I like the best, I save for the last, so that I have something to look forward to. There’s a whole psyche that lies behind this strategy, but that’s a story for another day ,)
My point is that I have a plan that helps me to look forward to something that I enjoy. Maybe this is why God created mankind last when God created the world. Perhaps God waits with eager anticipation to get to be with us – waiting for those moments when we turn our attention to God and give some of our time and presence to our Creator. I have this strong conviction that the fundamental purpose that God created us is to have fellowship with God. With this in mind, the fellowship we get to have is sacred, relished and wholly pleasing to the Father, Son and Holy Spirit (that’s alot of pleasure!!). God looks forward to getting to be with you today 🙂
I’m currently sitting with my husband & 3 kids at like 9:30pm in the LA airport waiting for our flight to Cambodia. I haven’t travelled a my kids internationally for many years & it’s interesting to watch how they each deal with the diversity of travel in very unique ways. Makes me appreciate how cool God is with us on this journey of life.
I find that God is immensely patient, extravagantly kind, continually generous & infinitely loving. When I watch, listen & wait for God, I find that my life becomes increasingly full of Divine & this is where I find Life 🙂
I have a friend who lives in Denver, but used to live in Arizona 15 years ago. She’s a very nice friend & our kids get to play together from time to time, but I’ve noticed that whenever we have any types of longer conversations that she always talks about how much she misses Arizona, about her friends & church there, about the great food, etc. Our conversations make me wonder if she has ever really moved to Denver in her thinking. The reason I find this to be disturbing is I don’t think she is living “here & now.” Some people live in the past, some live for the future, some live in different locations, but neglect to be present.
One of the things that makes this such a tragedy is that Jesus is present with us “here & now” and at any given moment, we can have some very rich & fulfilling communion with Jesus, listening & watching for His presence in the context of our daily living. Please don’t miss being with Jesus in your daily living, but dreaming about being somewhere else in time or space 🙂
I always want my fellowship with Jesus to be getting deeper & more vibrant. Some days my fellowship with Him seems to be deeper & more vibrant than others. But I’m reminded about my relationships in my husband. We most certainly have a good marriage, but there are lots of days where we just live together doing the daily routines and maintainence of family life. We talk about the daily schedule for our family, our responsibilities, etc. Just because every day in our marriage doesn’t have indescribable bliss and euphoria doesn’t mean that we’re not close or that we don’t have a good marriage. Quite the contrary.
I think this is also true w our relationship with Jesus. I think that some of the greatest fellowship & intimacy can come through including Him throughout the entirety of each day. Jesus loves to be an integral part of our daily living – hence, daily fellowship 🙂
Well, I have to make a confession – I tried to snowboard on a sprained ankle. I thought I had recovered enough to enjoy some riding w my family, but alas, I was sorely mistaken, in the literal sense. So unfortunately, my choices were to be in pain all day, slow down my family who would have to wait for me all the time & risk further injury or sit on the sidelines while my family enjoyed a great day of skiing. Grrrrrrrr. At this point in my life, I don’t see the X Games in my future, but I do have to be up to speed for some upcoming Saving Moses travel. So I opted for the sideline view of a beautiful mountain.
Here’s the great part of this stupid injury – each of my kids took a turn to hang out with me so I’d not be alone. Just so you know, I have no problem being alone, but to have solo quality time with each of my kids is nothing less than sublime bliss. Maybe when we are forced to slow down, it helps us to appreciate what is so vital in all of our lives – relationships. This is a unique perspective on what Paul said in Philippians 3 – I want to know Christ and the fellowship of His suffering, along with the power of His resurrection. We often follow strength, but some of the best fellowship can occur around hardship, suffering & difficulty. Selah
My daughter & I were talking this morning about being wholly present & what this means. I explained to her the contrasting view of being partially present or having our attention fragmented. I explained that the opposite of being wholly present was when she might be trying to get my attention or ask a question at the same time that my 1 son is asking for a snack & the other is giving me a giant bear hug, with the phone ringing, my husband walking in the door asking what’s for dinner & the door bell ringing. When all of that is happening, my attention is fragmented & I’m not wholly present with my daughter & her question to me. She totally understood the fragmented attention thing.
I explained, however, that even though humans have very limited capacities to be wholly present with each other, God has no such limitations. Indeed, the Trinity is always wholly present with us & what brings great delight to the Trinity is when we are wholly present with God. In my journey so far, I’ve found that I need God’s help to be wholly present with God. Nevertheless, it gives me great pleasure to be wholly present with God throughout each day – the fellowship that is available to us is nothing less than total euphoria because in God’s presence is fullness of joy. Taste & see my friend, that God is truly good 🙂
A few years ago, I had to privilege of taking my kids to Berlin when Reece & I were doing some ministry there. It was a really cool experience for all of us. Before we left, I did some educational work with my kids about the modern history of Berlin, including the Berlin Wall, Cold War, Communism, etc. We went to the library & checked out books on these topics, we watched interviews with people who had lived there & we even saw a cool Nat’l Geog special about the development of the Berlin Wall over the decades of its existence. I loved getting to do all of this educational leg work with my kids because I knew that when we arrived in the city, we’d be able to visit many sites that they had read about, we’d be able to go to the Berlin wall & visit East Berlin & get to 1st hand interact with the material we’d learned about – it was a SUPER COOL experience. I remember doing this kind of thing as a kid when my parents took me to the Pyramids in Egypt.
So here’s my point with this – I think God uses the same kinds of teaching techniques. I find that many times, He gives me the schooling I need in the Bible to help me walk out what I’ll be exploring, learning and experiencing in life. The other day in my prayer time, I was hesitant to leave & enter the demands of the day because I was having such great fellowship with God. Nevertheless, I felt God encourage me that I wasn’t really leaving our fellowship, but rather we were merely changing the contexts – from the “classroom” of our quiet time to the application of daily living. Hopefully, after reading this, you also will recognize that our fellowship with God doesn’t have to “end”, but instead it just expands to include more areas of our life 🙂
I’m pretty turned on with Jesus – He makes my heart palpitate & captivates my attention. I love to have fellowship with Him, be around Him, recognize His work, listen for His whispers, think about His preferences . . . . I’m simply & happily absorbed by Him.
But here’s the fun part of my relationship with Jesus – it takes place not only in my quiet & private prayer time with Him, but I’m experiencing & aware of Him, more and more, throughout my day. This is interesting because my days have such tremendous diversity. On any given day, I might be studying for a sermon, cooking some experimental dish, trying to settle a conflict (among my kids, in a misunderstanding at work, . . . . ), trying to develop my video editing skills, talking about helping starving babies in Angola, getting on a plane to go minister somewhere, getting makeup put on for TV taping, wearing an orange safety vest for my crossing guard fun, . . . . . . . What I’m finding to be so magnificent is that I get to experience & interact with Jesus in all of these contexts & even more. I used to get frustrated about my relationship with Jesus because it seemed very limited & one dimensional – almost like I couldn’t seem to export Him from my prayer time into the daily living.
Of late, I haven’t had this struggle. I’m sensing Jesus throughout my days & the fellowship with Him is rich beyond description. Please check out Psalms 25 & consider reading it slowly, with some reflection 🙂
Since returning from Ethiopia, God’s voice & presence has been absolutely spectacular & riveting to me. What I deeply love & crave is His voice & presence in my daily living – watching the kids, getting school supplies, cooking, driving, hanging out, . . . . Coming home has been a dynamic experience in relation to God.
Something that I deeply treasure is that my sleep schedule is off, so I get up pretty early & consequently have these spectacular times of fellowship w Him that are far better than any sleep I would want or need. I love when He says, “He wakens my ear to listen as one being taught” in Is 50:4. I was made for ongoing fellowship w my Maker – what a beautiful groove in which to live.