Training Wheels

Many or most of us are living under a “stay-at-home” order and are “social distancing” from extended family and friends during this horrible Covid-19 pandemic. It’s certainly a different way of life than what we consider normal. Sometimes the walls of our homes can seem to close in on us and we can get irritable, depressed and scared. Isn’t it a blessing though that it’s happening during spring when we can see the new growth of our lawns and the beauty of spring flowers? Where I live it has been sunny several days this week. I have been able to sit on my front porch and speak or wave to neighbors walking, riding bikes or jogging past.IMG_3781 Yesterday while I was again on my front porch reading a book, I heard quite a commotion down the street. A little boy was learning to ride his bike without training wheels. There was much emotion and encouragement being shouted his way as his Mom walked alongside him with her hands on his back, encouraging him. His Dad was shouting that he was doing great and that he could do it! Many times, they went back and forth, shouting encouragement. Then, he tried it on his own. You should have heard the exclamations of joy! I wanted to clap and shout myself, but I was several houses down and I didn’t want to scare him off balance. It was pure joy to see and hear that family enjoying this newfound freedom in their young son. He had been “training” on his bike for some time and was now ready to go it alone, without the crutch of training wheels.

This morning as I woke up and was praying, God reminded me of yesterday’s experience. He showed me that this little boy’s training wheels are like when we are learning God’s Word.hebrews-5-11-14 We need others to teach us. We need others to go alongside us as we learn about God and His plan for our lives. But, just as this little boy finally wanted to move forward to a 2-wheeler, we, too must move forward in our faith walk.

We can become lazy in our Christian walk and let others do the work for us. We can sit in church every Sunday and listen to a lesson and then go about our week without putting it into practice. We can pray about things we want to see God do without quieting ourselves, reading His Word and listening for His answer. We can think about the scriptures we know without searching them again for new nuggets of truth that the Holy Spirit will give us.

Now is a difficult time in our nation and world. We can’t gather in large groups. We can’t hug each other for encouragement. It is the perfect opportunity to seek God ourselves.2-timothy-3-16-17 It is the perfect time for us to draw closer to God. It is the perfect time to increase our prayer life. It is the perfect time for us to reach out to others with a phone call or note of encouragement. It is the perfect time for God to get our attention. Will we listen? Will we take off our “training wheels” and ride along with God on our own. After all, no one can take us with them to heaven and we can’t drag another along with us. It’s a personal walk of faith. We all need each other for sure but we go to heaven on our own. Are you allowing God to train you?2-wheeler Are you willing to take the risk and lose those crutches you might have been using and ride forward with God? It will be so exciting! We will feel like shouting for joy as we draw closer to Him! God promises it will be worth the risk. Go for it! Let Go and Let God!

True Fulfilling Fellowship {3.5.18}

Fellowship is mentioned 94 times in the Bible (NIV version)

Old Testament – 85 times, except for Psalm 55:14, each time refers to a fellowship offering

New Testament – 9 times, relational with each other, fellow believers and with God – 1 John 1:3-7 ”We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard, so that you also may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son, Jesus Christ. We write this to make your joy complete. This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. If we claim to have fellowship with him yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live by the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.”

I quite often fall asleep talking to God. Likewise, I usually wake up and tell Him good morning before getting out of bed. However, while that’s a good thing I’m the one doing all the talking. When God wants to get my attention, He usually does it in the middle of the night. It’s dark and quiet. Nothing is going on to distract me from listening. Last night was one of those nights. I woke up about 2:30 a.m. Wide awake. Then God started taking me through my day yesterday and all that led up to that day. While it may seem insignificant to many, to me it was an “a-ha” moment yesterday in our Sunday school class. And, in the middle of the night God gave me a glimpse of what He has been doing in and with us for the past couple of years (maybe 3, I haven’t kept track). Yes, sometimes it takes time.

The word He kept giving me was “fellowship”. Of course, I had my own idea of what that meant. Getting together with others in a social setting. Usually food is involved or some type of activity. Something (sporting event, concert, charity) or some person (birthday party, anniversary) is usually the center of attention or the reason for the gathering.

  • Wikipedia: NOUN: friendly association, especially with people who share one’s interests:

fellowship growthHowever, God showed me what true, fulfilling fellowship looks like. In true fellowship, God is the gracious host, guest of honor and center of attention. All focus is on Him and we share together for His glory.

  • Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary: Bond of common purpose and devotion that binds Christians to one another and to Christ.

Several years ago, I was part of a Bible study group that met one evening a week. It was a really good group and we enjoyed the studies. However, it was hard for some to come to an evening meeting. So, we decided to move it to a Sunday school class instead. Of course, we now had only one hour instead of one and a half so it might take more than one week to complete a lesson. But, that was ok. Our group started out small but has grown over the years to more than double it’s original size. That’s a good thing but the really good thing is how we have all grown together in the process. We decided to give ourselves a name “Ladies Learning Together”. We knew that we were all on the same path (narrow road) and none of us had all the answers. We were literally learning together. We knew that God would teach us through His word. What I don’t think we realized though was how much God would grow us through our fellowship in these classes. He has a plan for us and He had some work to do in us before His plan could be revealed and implemented. God showed me last night what true fellowship means. It is the learning and growing together while openly sharing our lives with one another. We truly love one another and we have allowed ourselves to be vulnerable and transparent, not only before God but with each other. When we humbled ourselves and looked to each other’s best interest rather than just our own, then…God could work in us. We have shared sorrows and blessings, heartaches and joy, ups and downs. We have encouraged each other and when necessary, held each other accountable to God’s Word. But, God really got a hold of us when we started to pray. He led a lady in our church to begin a prayer team ministry. Then, he led our class to study and participate in prayer (we actually did three Bible studies on prayer and I would recommend them all – “War Room”, “Battle Plan of Prayer and “Fervent”). We just finished a study titled “Called and Accountable”. That one was really eye opening, personal and pointed. We learned a lot about ourselves and grew in our understanding of God’s call on our lives and the consequences of not obeying His call. One important thing we learned was that a “call” does not necessarily mean a call to pastor, go on the mission field, something high profile or what we might deem important. It could mean the encounter with someone at the grocery that God orchestrated so we could encourage them. It might mean the encounter with a neighbor who is cranky and just needs a friend. When we allow God to open our eyes, the opportunities are always there. We just need to see them and seize them.

Okay, now to what really got me excited… As our class is getting ready to begin a new study, we realized that we had a financial need – a DVD player and projector. We have a couple of them at our church but others need them as well and we can’t hog one every week. So, we brainstormed ideas on how to raise the money. We came up with some good ideas but that’s not the exciting part. The exciting part is that we are dreaming big (our God is able) and are now brainstorming what we can do with the extra money we raise by serving our community. communityWe have so many ideas that we ran out of time before we could post them all on the chalkboard. That’s what God showed me in the middle of last night. He has been preparing us these past few years to be ready and willing to go forth and share His message and His love with others. Joining together with like minds, in unity, we can now make a difference together in our community. It’s exciting and I think it’s going to be contagious! I can’t wait to see what God has in store for us. It’s such a humble honor and blessing to serve Him, especially with my “fellowship partners”.

Thanks for allowing me to ramble on. I’m still excited and I want to encourage you to persevere. Sometimes, like with us, it takes time. True fellowship comes with like-minded people truly sharing life and all its ups and downs together with Christ in the center. What a joy it is to get together with friends not just for food and social events, but to share what Christ is doing in our lives. That’s the most exciting fellowship there is aside from the personal relationship with Christ.

Who might we encounter today that needs a touch from Christ’s love – through us?