Tag Archive for Fellowship

Real Life, Honest, Christianity

One of the things God has used to grow my relationship with Him the most over the years is other Christians. My mom used to tell me that I was a people person. I thrive on relationships with others. Connecting with others and getting to know the real them, I love it.

And God has used that in my life in some major ways.

Most notably, is that He has used the honesty of others to help me grow in Him. 

The first time a Christian woman admitted to me that she didn’t have it all together, a huge burden was lifted. Granted, she wasn’t just any Christian woman, she was like super mom in my eyes. She was our pastor’s daughter-in-law, super fit, and a stay-at-home-mom who was part of the worship team and an international missionary. I’m telling you, she was everything a good Christian should be, and she knew her Bible inside and out.

And then she confessed that she struggled with depression. That she questioned her faith because of an overwhelming feeling of worthlessness.

Another time the woman who hosted our Bible study confessed that her house wasn’t always as clean as we saw it each week. In fact, she said if we showed up unannounced at any other time during the week, that it would be a wreck. Again, a huge burden was lifted.

Not because I rejoiced in their struggles, but because it made me realize that struggling was okay. That it was okay to be less than perfect.

This morning on Instagram, I posted a picture of my less-than-tidy quiet time assortment.

A photo posted by Heather Hart (@heather.hart) on

But it didn’t really show the big picture.

Under my Bible study bar, we keep the girls roller skates, a couple of plants that haven’t found new homes since we remodeled last spring, the kids backpacks (even a couple of empty ones that they aren’t using right now), and currently, my Bible study bag that I got out this morning and forgot to put away.

Not shown in the picture is my pile of books, pencil caddy, and papers for the day’s planning session. So even my untidy picture was tidier than reality.Life is messy. Being a Christian doesn't change that.

It also didn’t show that I took the kids to school in some scrubs, because I don’t usually shower until mid-morning – you know, after my quiet time and workout session (the workout session I don’t always get to that is).

The point is, it’s easy to wear a mask and only let outsiders see what you want them to see.

It’s easy to portrait yourself as having it all together to those who don’t really know you.

But what a shame it is when we do that.

 

When we put ourselves on pedestals that we don’t belong on in the first place, it can cause others to think less of themselves because they aren’t as good as us.

As Christian women, it’s easy to do that, I don’t think any of us do it on purpose. I truly believe that most of us have a heart for Christ and are trying to show other women how to live for Him, but we need to know that God doesn’t expect perfection.

Yes, Jesus told us to, “Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect” (Matthew 5:48). But I think that perfection comes less from our works, and more from our faith.

We will never be perfect this side of heaven, “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23) but “he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus” (Philippians 1:6). 

If someone tells you that they never sin, then they are deceiving themselves–and you. For 1 John 1:8 says, If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.”

How much better would our lives be if we were honest about our struggles?

We all have them.

We all struggle with something.

1 Corinthians 10:13 tells us that, “No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind.” How great would it be to have other Christian women come alongside of us and let us know that we are not alone.

Let’s face it, sometimes we need a flesh and blood woman of God to confirm what Scripture has already promised. It’s easy to feel like no one would ever understand what we are going through. It’s easy to convince ourselves that no one else fails the way we do. That no one struggles the way we do.

But they do.

“Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.” 

~ James 5:16

If you were honest, what is one thing you struggle with that you think other Christian women have rose above?

I’ll go first, then you can share your answer in the comments below.

I already mentioned that it was a huge relief when I found out other Christian women struggled with depression and house cleaning. Those two are big for me.

However, I would love to know if other Christian women struggle with balancing their priorities. I know God needs to be first in my life. I know my biggest ministry needs to be to my family. But fleshing that out with the responsibilities and commitments I have, can sometimes pose a struggle for me. I’m getting better, but I still stumble and fall. I make the wrong choices on the best way to spend my time. And when I look at other Christian women, they appear to always make the right choices. Being amazing parents and wives, serving God, cleaning their homes, and working to support their families.

I know I only see the outside, so tell me, does anyone else struggle with balancing priorities and responsibilities?

 (Don’t forget to share your own struggles in the comments!)

 

{Update}

Hey Y’all! I just wanted to share a few quick updates with you today to let you know what we’ve been up to.

Group Bible Study Guides

Most of you know that I write the Bible study guides for the ladies’ Bible study at my church. You can now download the study sheets for free here on our website. Find out what studies are available here: https://www.paulandheatherhart.com/bible-study/   I’ll be adding more later, so keep an eye out and spread the word.

Book Review Program

Reviews are a huge part of getting books in front of new readers. If you have a blog and are interested in reviewing books for us, you can sign up for our Book Blogger Review Program and be the first to read any new books we write here: https://www.paulandheatherhart.com/books-by-hart-blogger-book-review-program/

DVD Giveaway

We are also giving away a DVD on our website for Teen Guys. It’s for the movie Ragamuffin. It’s about the life of Rich Mullins, and honestly, it has some really great insights on the condition of your heart. It prompted me to do some more research on the Ragamuffin Gospel. I was actually amazed to find people tearing apart Brennan Manning (the one who coined the term) for being a sinner. That’s the whole point of the Ragamuffin Gospel.

Manning believed that the one question God would ask us when we get to heaven is, “Did you believe I loved you?” He believed there were only two responses to that question:

  1. “Yes, Lord. I did believe that and I tried to shape my life around that belief.”
  2. “No, God, I didn’t. Because ______.”

Do you truly believe that God loves you – the way you are right now today? Not that He will love you only if you do xyz, or whatever, but just because you are who He made you? This has been a recurring theme of messages that I’ve heard lately. Any way, it was an awesome, thought provoking movie and I highly recommend it. You can enter to win your copy here: http://findyourtruestrength.com/do-you-have-the-faith-of-a-ragamuffin/

What’s Next?

I’m working on a new Ladies’ Bible study through Revelation, outlining a novel, and planning to launch a newsletter to make it easier to post updates such as this and stay connected with everyone among other things.

What about you? What have you been up to this summer?

Love Expressed

I’m reading an amazing book by Chris Hodges. It’s called, “Fresh Air” (you can pick up a copy from Amazon.com here). Today’s chapter was called, “God’s Love Language” (chapter 8), and this post is based off of what I learned in that chapter.

– – – – –

I love my God. He’s awesome. However, I haven’t often thought about how I love Him or even how He wants to be loved. There are different kinds of love. There’s love like you love a pair of shoes, love like you love a friend, brotherly love, passionate love that you feel for your spouse. In the Bible, there’s an entire chapter about Agape love. Agape love is an all encompassing love – It goes past friendship to a deep, heart-felt love. Agape love is a love that elevates. It’s true love. And that’s how God wants us to love Him… but how do we express that love?

“We must remember that we don’t worship for our benefit but for God’s.”

 

– Chris Hodges

The Bible tells us a lot about how God wants us to express our love for Him. His love language is one of praise and admiration. He loves it when we praise Him – that’s what makes Him feel loved.

Chris Hodges wrote about David being a man after God’s own heart. When David wrote the Pslams, He wrote them to praise God – He was expressing his love in the way God wanted to hear it. He praised Him through singing, dancing, playing music, shouting, lifting their hands, craving His presence, and living his lives for Him.

This was the man after God’s own heart, his would be a great example to follow. Check out these verses:

Psalm 34:1 (and 52:9) – “I will extol the Lord at all times; his praise will always be on my lips.”

Psalm 68:4 – “Sing to God, sing in praise of his name, extol him who rides on the clouds; rejoice before him—his name is the Lord.”

Psalm 70:4 – “But may all who seek you rejoice and be glad in you; may those who long for your saving help always say, ‘The Lord is great!'”

Psalm 16:8 – “I keep my eyes always on the Lord.”

Psalm 71:14 – “As for me, I will always have hope; I will praise you more and more.”

Psalm 95:2 – “Let us come before him with thanksgiving and extol him with music and song.”

Psalm 26:3 – “for I have always been mindful of your unfailing love and have lived in reliance on your faithfulness.”

Psalm 109:30 – “With my mouth I will greatly extol the Lord; in the great throng of worshipers I will praise him.”

Psalm 111:1 – “Praise the Lord. I will extol the Lord with all my heart in the council of the upright and in the assembly.”

Psalm 115:17-18 –  “It is not the dead who praise the Lord, those who go down to the place of silence; it is we who extol the Lord, both now and forevermore.”

Psalm 117 – “Praise the Lord, all you nations; extol him, all you peoples. For great is his love toward us, and the faithfulness of the Lord endures forever. Praise the Lord.”

Psalm 145:10 – “All your works praise you, Lord; your faithful people extol you.”

Expressing our love through praise and worship shouldn’t just happen on Sunday mornings, it should be  a way of life.

In Proverbs 8 after recounting how God created the world, Solomon wrote, “Then I was constantly at his side. I was filled with delight day after day, rejoicing always in his presence, rejoicing in his whole world and delighting in mankind” (30-31). Praising God during everyday life was a recurring theme throughout the old testament. But praising God didn’t end when Jesus came, it allowed us to love Him more personally – to draw near to Him(Hebrews 10:19-22). To praise Him as a Savior as well as a Creator. The apostle Paul said to: “Praise the Lord, all you Gentiles; let all the peoples extol him” (Romans 15:11).

These great men of the Bible really got it. They actively expressed their love for God. I can’t imagine going a day without actively loving my husband. Sometimes I run to give him a hug when he first gets home from work. Other times I sit back and just marvel at how amazing it is that he loves me. But it’s always an active love.

All too often, my love for God doesn’t pour out of me that way. I love Him the way I love my brothers. I really do love them… but that doesn’t mean I think about them every day. I think about them on occasion, and even have pictures of them around my house, but I rarely call them or go visit them. I would be crushed if they ever stopped loving me in return or if anything ever happened to them, but (living three states away) they aren’t an active part of my life. I don’t actively love them.

Obviously we can’t love everyone in our lives with an active love every single day, but God wants to be our number one. He wants us to love Him with all that we are with that active love. He wants us to think about Him constantly, talk to Him about our days. “Pray continually,” the apostle Paul wrote to the church in Thessalonians (1 Thessalonians 5:17).

God wants us to actively love Him. And His love language is the language of praise. Have you praised Him yet today?

 

“Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise—the fruit of lips that openly profess his name.”
– Hebrews 13:15

{Behind the Book} Blessings from Above

Relationships with other Christian women have helped me grow in my walk with God more than anything else I can remember. When Christian women come together – God is there (Matthew 18:20). He can do amazing things when we get together.

Proverbs 27:17 says that Iron sharpens Iron – Christian women do that for each other.

I’ve been blessed with multiple women throughout my life that have poured into me, and I’ve learned that we can all learn from each other – it’s never been one-sided. God uses us to sharpen one another.

Every Christian woman can be a blessing to another Christian woman – and whether we realize it or not, we all need each other. Most recently God has blessed me with a wonderful group of Christian women who leave the business of their lives every Monday morning to study God’s Word with me. We’re currently working our way through the beatitudes (Matthew 5:1-12) and I’ve learned so much.

Blessings

God has taken me from an elementary understanding of His blessings and blown me away. He has challenged me to dig deeper – both into His Word and into my heart. I’ve learned that the biggest blessing anyone could ever hope for is the truth that is found in the Gospel. To know we are sinners in need of a Savior. To know who Christ is and what He has done for us. To know that He rose from the grave and is preparing a place for us to spend eternity. How could I ever ask for more?

My favorite part of this study has been the fellowship with the other women. I’m an introvert and talking face-to-face has never been one of my strong suits, but these women have befriended me, loved me and encouraged me. They build me up and help me grow – and I love being able to witness the changes God is making in them as well.

These precious ladies have shared my study outlines with other women and churches and encouraged me to pursue publishing it as a book. So that’s what I’m doing. I’m taking the study sheets I’ve written for them, expounding on them, and will be publishing the study later on this month.

Blessings-from-above-cover

“Blessings from Above” will include 8 study chapters – one for each of the beatitudes, as well as an introduction and conclusion (all based on our 10 week study). It’s my prayer that it helps Christian women to deepen their understanding of God’s Word and open their eyes to the blessings He has already bestowed upon them. Most of all, I pray that God can use this book to encourage them.

Stay tuned for more information about “Blessings from Above” coming soon.

— Update —

“Blessings from Above” is now available on Amazon.com.

Click here to get your copy