Friday, May 24, 2013

Workshop Spring 2013 Week 8: The Spirit of Community

What is community?  Who is your community?

I know it sounds like a simple question but this is actually a good time to put pencil to paper.   Draw the picture to the left on a blank piece of paper with you at the center.   Now begin adding dots with names above those dots at a distance from you in the center relative to how much you trust them and how emotionally close they are to you.  Also consider how close they are to each other: if they are also emotionally close to each other, place those dots closer to each other on the page but still relative to you.   Spend about 10 minutes populating your piece of paper.  And then lastly, draw lines between each person and you, and indicate with arrows whether that relationship is one in which you primarily give, receive, or have a healthy give-and-take.  Be honest with yourself.  No one else is going to see your paper unless you show them.

Step back and observe your community; this is a snapshot of who is in your life now.   Are they scattered all over the paper?  How many people are on your paper?  Are there people in the inner circle?   Are they all in the inner circle?   Is there a balance of giving and receiving across your community?    Are there lots of people who draw your energy?  Are you spending a lot of time and energy maintaining too many relationships?  Who is not on your page but in your life?  There are no right answers for everyone and no perfect pictures, but this does give us a view into our real support community.  

Jesus provides a stunning model of healthy community.    He had an inner circle of three people (of his twelve disciples) that he walked closer with than the others, Peter, and James and John, the two sons of Zebedee (Mark 5:7, Matthew 17:1).  These are the ones he invited with him to pray in the Garden of Gethsemane (Matthew 26:37).    There were also the other nine disciples, all twelve of whom went with Him from place to place and who he sent out to other places to share the good news and heal the sick (Luke 9:1-2).   We know he had a few other close and trusted friends such as Mary, Martha and Lazarus where he could relax and be refreshed by their company (Luke 10:38-42) but he did not see them all the time.  And then there were his various other friends, supporters and acquaintances.

All relationships require commitment, testing, trials and an investment of time over time.   As humans, we only have the capacity to really go deeper with one, or perhaps a few, but we can be richly blessed by and be a blessing to those who are in our other circles.  You can always take steps to make your community more vibrant, balanced or supportive.     Are there people that you believe God wants you to work toward deeper connection with?  Or, on the other hand, are there people that you believe He wants you to create healthy distance from?  Trusting people who are not trustworthy is not wise (Proverbs 2:12-16).  What is one thing you can do today to begin the journey in deepening trusted relationships or releasing unhealthy people in your community?

If you are viewing this through the RSS email feed, please know you can find additional information such as previous Posts, Question of the Week and a Bible Verse of the Week at our home site of   

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Workshop Spring 2013 Week 7: Now That We Know

Jesus knew that the time had come for him to leave this world and go to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he now showed them the full extent of his love. Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God; so he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist. After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples' feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him.       John 13:1-5

Was Jesus teaching us what we should do to be good?  Or was he showing us the path to healing in our grief – what we need to do to get well?   Could it be that the path to a life that is rich lies in finding feet to wash?
Spend some time this week reflecting on the following:
  1. How has my loss changed me? Are there some positive elements of those changes?
  2. What do I know now that I didn’t know then (before my loss)?  
  3. What one thing could I do right now that I would not have known to do before or not been able to do before?
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future”.     Jeremiah 29:11

If you are viewing this through the RSS email feed, please know you can find additional information such as previous Posts, Question of the Week and a Bible Verse of the Week at our home site of   

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Workshop Spring 2013 Week 6: Reflections on Heaven

While books about Heaven are interesting, the best book and only definitive authority on the subject is the Word of God.  To help you get started, consider exploring one or all of these means of going deeper with God.

1.  Consider doing a “word search” with the word “Heaven” in your bible or on and read every verse where the word is used.  Then, pick a favorite passage and read it daily for a week.  Meditate on it.  Pray through it.  If there is something you don’t understand, dialogue with God about it – ask Him!

2.  Find a trusted Bible Study on Heaven from our Seeds bookstore and go through it alone or with a friend.
3.  Listen to the song, “I Can Only Imagine” by MercyMe and try to picture what it might be like.  Why wait, listen right now!   Or listen to the song, “Deep Enough to Dream” by Chris Rice and do the same, imagine!

If you are viewing this through the RSS email feed, please know you can find additional information such as previous Posts, Question of the Week and a Bible Verse of the Week at our home site of

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Workshop 2013 Spring Week 5: Pathways to Joy

" is a mystery because it can happen anywhere, anytime, even under the most unpromising  circumstances, even in the midst of suffering, with tears in its eyes. Even nailed to a tree.”   Frederick Buechner

Joy is a little like riding a bike after neglecting it for years.  No matter how much time or sadness has passed, no matter how many tears we’ve cried, joy is something we never really lose our capacity for.  We smile through our tears, we dance with a limp, we feel it welling up right through our sorrow.  Unexpected joy is a drink of cold water for our souls, a glimpse of beauty in a desert, a sound no symphony could capture.

Pay attention. Without invitation, joy is sneaking into your life.  It comes to heal.  It reminds you and me that there is more to being human than pain.  There are funny babies and puppies. There are soothing sunsets and emerging spring life . . . nests and nestlings, woods of color and newness of life.

And there is a God who loves you.  A God who delights in you.  A God who finds great joy in you.  A God who sneaks joy back into your life.

That slipped-in-laughter, that well-of-joy is a promise.  It shows us that we have not lost our capacity for abundant life.  In time, we will find ourselves back on the bicycle, wind in our hair, head thrown back, laughing again with a capacity we never knew before we experienced grief.

Pay attention. Joy is a mystery.