Tag Archives: church community

‘Tis So Sweet: To Trust Him More

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image courtesy of Stuart Miles / freedigitalphotos.net

Jesus, Jesus, how I trust Him!
How I’ve proved Him o’er and o’er
Jesus, Jesus, precious Jesus!
Oh, for grace to trust Him more!

-Tis So Sweet to Trust In Jesus,  Louisa M. R. Stead

I haven’t talked about it a lot here on my blog, but one of the most amazing parts of my move last year has been my church. I switched campuses a few months ago (same church, different campus location), and for the first time in a long time, I really feel like I’m where I’m supposed to be. Not only do I feel myself growing more spiritually than I have in the last 10 years, but it’s really one of those things where I feel like I fit. Not because everyone is like me, but because we are all so unique and crazy and wonderfully made–it’s truly a blessing to be in a church that is charismatic and I don’t have to “hide” my gifts or attend elsewhere to get my fill. Every single week at church, I am filled in more ways than I can count.

One of the biggest blessings has been the prayer ministry at my church. I have known that I am an intercessor for many years, but I was never in a church environment where that call was supported and grown. Yes, at past churches I have prayed with other people and prayed for other people, but here, the call to intercession is celebrated and many women are a part of my life who stoke the fires of prayer in me.

In fact, I knew this was going to be the right campus for me when the first Sunday I attended, a beautiful sister came up to me during the church greeting time, pulled me into a warm embrace, and said very boldly to me, “You are an intercessor. You are called to it. You need to be doing it more.” I was surprised–not at what she said, but at her boldness. And though I initially fought it, I knew from that one interaction that this was the church campus for me.

So I was incredibly excited when that sister and others organized a prayer night for the women of our campus in August. I did not attend expecting anything of myself, only that I would experience the Lord’s presence. I received that and so much more.

As the ladies prayed over me, one of our praying sisters and a friend of mine spoke several prophetic truths over my life…truths that have done more to increase my faith and trust in the Lord than anything before. I hate to say it, but I haven’t been someone who has had a lot of trust in the Lord. I have claimed to have it, but I have found it so difficult to trust in Him despite His repeated attempts to show me that He is completely trustworthy. After this prayer night, though, God’s grace has proven faithful once again as He has grown me so much in the area of trusting Him.

This new blog series is going to highlight many of the things that my beautiful sister prophesied over me and their subsequent impact on my life and trust in the Lord. I’m so excited to share with you these amazing, life-changing truths. And I am excited as I continue to grow in my trust and dependency on my Lord. It truly is so sweet.

 

 

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The Struggle Is Real: Community Calls

I had attended church my entire life. I had known Christian community—I had close friends in college, I had worked in the church forever…and yet I was still struggling with issues related to a pornography addiction I had years earlier. I knew that to get the healing I needed, I had to find true, authentic community. And I knew I couldn’t find that on Facebook, Twitter, or social media. Instead, I had to step away from the computer and boldly into a place where I could find the face-to-face accountability that I needed to move forward out of addiction.

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image courtesy of Stuart Miles / freedigitalphotos.net

These days, it is easy to “find” community online—to say that we are talking to others, relating to others, and being honest with others because we are connecting with others through social media. But putting all my “junk” into an online forum, staying behind a computer screen, and remaining anonymous and “unknown” were not the things that helped me find health and healing. Instead, I began attending Celebrate Recovery at a local church, where I joined a small group step study designed for intimate community and intricate healing.

Here are three reasons why it’s important for women who are struggling with pornography and sexual addiction to find real, face-to-face community with other believers:

  • Community breeds vulnerability. You’ve noticed it yourself: you’re not likely to confess yourself to a bunch of strangers (unless it’s online). You build trust and relationships by spending time with others—and you have to do that to build community. In person, you want to find someone who you know well and can trust with your deepest darkest secrets. This is one reason the Bible encourages us to not give up meeting together (Hebrews 10:24-25). Spending quality time with other believers regularly is an important step in dealing with our struggles.
  • Vulnerability leads to confession. The more time you spend with others, the more you will want to share with them. As I went through my Celebrate Recovery step study, I began to trust the women who were there. At the beginning, it was hard to “go first” in sharing our secrets and pain—there is always some hesitation in going first or sharing at all. But by the end of our ten months together, we were freely sharing all of our struggles with each other. So don’t just find community, allow yourselves to be vulnerable in your community—because this will breed an authentic atmosphere where confession flows freely.
  • Confession brings healing. Upon graduating from our step study program, we wrote notes of encouragement for each of our study members. One of my study members wrote to me, “You shared your struggles with brutal honesty—and that is why the healing is so strong.” I have kept that in mind as I’ve continued to share my struggles and pain with my Christian community. Confession always leads to healing; how much we confess will determine the amount of healing we experience. I have quoted James 5:16 many times on my blog, but here it is again, because it is such an important verse: “Confess your sins to one another and pray for each other, so that you may be healed.” The Bible is right: true healing requires confession.

Finding community and staying in community can be difficult because any community contains sinful humans. But the Bible encourages us to stay in community with others—not just because it teaches us to love others more, but because of the healing we can receive in the process. Authentic, Christian community is calling you: will you answer?

How has being in community helped you to be more authentic about your struggles?