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Living in the Light

 

 

Filtering by Tag: fellowship

Called Together

Jessalyn Hutto

...called to be saints together with all those who in every place call upon the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, both their Lord and ours...
— 1 Corinthians 1:2

Strangely, the idea of living in community with other believers can be both exciting and frightening for Christians. On the one hand, we long for people to understand us, to care for us, and to faithfully walk with us through the highs and lows of life. We enjoy true, good friendships and long for our churches to feel more like families than social clubs. 

On the other hand, we bristle at the thought of people getting involved in our messes.

We want them to be a part of our lives, but only up to a certain point. Certainly, we don't want them to know our weaknesses, see our faults, or - heaven forbid - be the ones to kindly point them out to us.

We want good friends, but in our minds "good friends" are those who think highly of us, who will further our cause, and who will meet our needs.

We don't typically go out of our way to find people who need us. We don't make a point of spending time with those people whose personalities grate against our own. We don't naturally seek to build bridges between strange (to us) cultures and our own.

Rather, we naturally search for a group of people who look like us, sound like us, and behave like us, and then enjoy our artificial "unity" as we worship, learn about, and serve the Lord in ways that we are all comfortable with.

We like this group of friends who are just like us, partly because we all have a similar understanding of what the boundaries are.

Yes, we've all politely decided that our friendships should go "deep," but not quite to the point where the digging hurts. When it begins to hurt and things get awkward, we will all kindly pull back a little until time has had a chance to fill in the wound.

Or we'll just find other friends who don't require so much work.

We long for something bigger - something that resembles the sweetness of genuine fellowship and unity between believers in the Bible - and yet, we find it difficult to abandon the "safe" boundaries we've set between us and the rest of our brethren.

We have lives to live, after all! We've got to work, take care of our families, and make time for ourselves... it seems all but impossible to add the needs and struggles of our church family into the mix. Going out of our way to know and understand and love people who are different than us as well? 

Well that's just above and beyond!

What is the cure for this?

How can I push my soul into a deeper and harder form of friendship - a fellowship between believers that relies upon the gospel of Jesus rather than a similar skin tone, a comparable income, or shared interests? How can I remove the self-serving motivations I have for friendships and replace them with a Christ-like love that dies for others.

I must reorient myself.

Every day.

Because every single day I wake up thinking that the world revolves around me when it revolves around the Son.

I must challenge my mind to see all of life through the one great story that has been unfolding throughout history - the story that causes all creation and all people from all nations to glorify and magnify the holy Christ.

I must see myself as one tiny, blessed player in God's perfect and marvelous plan - a player who has been carefully set in this time and in this place to serve him and glorify him in specific ways, and with specific people.

I must see myself as one who has been called out of the darkness and into the light. 

And in the light, I see a vast multitude of blood-drenched saints surrounding me. 

Yes, on every side there are people from all nations, all cities, all neighborhoods, all backgrounds, all ethnicities, all incomes, and with all different kinds of personalities, talents, and shortcomings who have likewise been called out of their former ways and into Christ's holiness. People who don't deserve God's love anymore than I do, but who have been given the gift of grace.

All around me are my brothers and sisters - we are all adopted siblings who've been made a part of God's family.

I see that in choosing each of us for himself, he has chosen each of us for one another.

With this mindset, I cannot look at another believer and be ambivalent to them. I must be concerned for them, I must love them, I must care about their well-being because they are united to my Savior, and thus they are united to me.

We are a part of one body, and no one has ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it.

All of us, are called to live in this unifying reality together.

We were not merely saved into a personal relationship with Jesus. No we were saved into so much more!

We're not meant to enjoy and serve Christ in isolation. We're not meant to struggle and toil alone. We're not meant to fight this epic battle of faith as lone, terrified soldiers, but as a part of a mighty, Holy Spirit-empowered army!

We've been saved to experience the glories of true communion - Communion with God and communion with my fellow man. A communion that is free from the barriers of sin and guilt and shame.

Hallelujah! 

As we see other Christians in our cities, in our churches, or on the news, let us not see them merely as people who've made a similar mental assent to Jesus' gospel, but as family members whom we are eternally bound to through the precious blood of our Savior.


Father, will you grant me the humility and the courage and the diligence to step out of my comfort zone and enjoy the glorious family you have adopted me into. Would you give me a genuine love for all the brethren - the same love that you have had for your Son since eternity past and the same love that he so graciously spilled out upon us at the cross. Help me to do the hard work of cultivating the seeds of friendship, so that I might enjoy the fruit of heavenly fellowships that are ripe with the Spirit's blessings.

In Christ's name, Amen

 

How Can You Help A Friend Who Miscarries?

Jessalyn Hutto

Since the release of Inheritance of Tears, my life has been quite a whirlwind. Very little of the craziness, however, has been a result of the book! In truth, there have been many days over the past two months that I've completely forgotten that something as wonderfully exciting as publishing a book, has taken place. Regular life--the joys and insanity of caring for a household of 6--has been more than enough to occupy my time, thoughts and energy.

And so, as reviews for the book have started to filter in, I've been in a constant state of wonder at God's willingness to use me to serve the church in this way. I'm so happy to see Inheritance of Tears being well-received and pray that it will bear much fruit as it falls into the hands of women who need it. 

I'd like to send out a huge "Thank You!" to every single person who has shared about this book. I'm hopeful that your kind efforts will lead to many women being encouraged in their darkest hours.

Recently, I've had the wonderful opportunity to answer some very practical questions regarding miscarriage and how to lovingly serve those who are mourning the loss of their children.

At this time, there are two separate interviews (more to come!) that I would like to share with you. I  hope you find them helpful as you seek to minister to those who are suffering...

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Never Let Her Grieve or Rejoice Alone

Jessalyn Hutto

I sat across from my friend, with tears in my eyes, and offered her the same council I had received so many years before: “Take things slowly and understand that being around other pregnant moms may bring up difficult emotions; don’t feel guilty about declining some baby shower invitations for a little while if they’re too painful for you to attend; you are grieving and it is okay to acknowledge that grief...”

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Why Our Children Need the Church

Jessalyn Hutto

In this quarter’s issue of Credo Magazine, I had the opportunity to share a little bit about the importance of the church to our children. Here’s a snippet from that article:

“Through regular interactions with teachers, parents, mentors, and pastors, our children are given the opportunity to observe the powerful, sanctifying hand of God in the lives of other Christians. Through the ordinance of baptism our children are able to watch as men and women confess their belief in the gospel of Jesus Christ and commit to living their lives in obedience to him. They gaze in wonder as these believers are plunged into the baptismal and brought back up to the joyful celebration of the congregation, symbolizing their death and resurrection with Christ. In the same way, as the communion plate is passed and the wine and bread are consumed by the members of the body, our children witness the centrality of the gospel to every believer’s life. They are beckoned to come and taste of the Lord’s goodness for themselves—to receive the gospel of grace being proclaimed.”

To Read the Full Article, Click Here.

Will You Be Happy With Her?

Jessalyn Hutto

There was a time when a positive pregnancy test meant unhindered joy and excitement and we simply couldn’t wait to tell our family and friends the wonderful news. Unfortunately, that time for us was short lived. In fact, it ended as quickly as our first pregnancy did. When we lost our first baby, pregnancy suddenly mutated from a thrilling, dreamlike experience to a battle for joy, peace, and trust in the Lord’s sovereignty.

Each time we found out we were pregnant, the joy of a new life growing within me was also mingled with the painful reality of how quickly that new life could slip away. My husband and I have had to offer up each new baby to the Lord, trusting in his good and holy will, and praying for his peace which surpasses all understanding...

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Q&A with Trillia Newbell

Jessalyn Hutto

Q: Why do you feel that diversity is so crucial to the body of Christ?

A: I think diversity is important because Scripture screams of a gospel that is for all nations. I don’t think that a church that is not diverse is necessarily doing something wrong. I want to make that clear. What I do think is that this is a matter of the heart and relationships. The pursuit of diversity is really about loving your neighbor as yourself...

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How to Help A Woman Who Miscarries

Jessalyn Hutto

A common suffering that afflicts women in their childbearing years is the loss of a baby in the womb. Shocking statistical realities are not needed in order to witness the incredible rate of women who go through miscarriages all around us. This is especially true in the church where children are treasured and pregnancies abound! Chances are, if you are in your 20′s and 30′s and regularly fellowship with other young married couples, you have been witness to the sorrows a woman faces when her pregnancy is abruptly ended and the dream of a future bundle of joy is stripped from her–that is, if you haven’t experienced this tragedy yourself.

Sometimes it can be difficult to know how to minister to a sister-in-Christ who is going through a trial you have never experienced. Often the fear of saying the wrong thing or hurting her feelings with a thoughtless action can keep you from reaching out to her when she needs it the most. As the body of Christ, however, it is our responsibility to take up one another’s burdens and to diligently seek to encourage those around us who are suffering...

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Admonishing One Another Through Song

Jessalyn Hutto

I stood close to my dear friend who was broken in spirit and who’s heart was brimming with pain. Her eyes held an ocean of tears, an ocean she had already cried and another who’s waves had only begun to stir. We stood together in the gathering of believers and began to sing a song of joy and hope, a song about our Savior. I sang the words to her, full of hope for her future, and she sang the words to me, full of the experienced, sustaining grace of God. As our voices rose to heaven in united praise of the One in whom we have our being, our hearts united in love for one another and our fellowship with the Savior was real, authentic, unhindered by embarrassment or pride. We were singing the Gospel to each other. We were learning from each other. We were ministering to each other.

We exert a great deal of effort to forget those around us as we sing in church so that we can sing without feeling embarrassed or prideful. We want to be able to sing only for the Lord and focus our hearts on him alone. Yet, could we not do this much easier in the comfort of our home, in our very own private prayer closets? God, in his wisdom, commands us to come together and encourage one another through the uniting of our voices. Rather than drifting off into our own personal worship experiences we must remember that there are brothers and sisters in Christ who need to hear the words we are singing, who need to be taught and admonished by our worship. We must also remember that the testimony of believers worshiping the Lord around us is meant to fuel and excite our own worship and knowledge of the Lord as well.

“Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.” Colossians 3:16 ESV

“The New Testament Christians gathered in large part to strengthen each other fro the purpose of glorifying God in their daily lives. Hebrews 10:24-25 exhorts us about “not neglecting to meet together” so we can “stir up one another to love and good works.” We’re to be “encouraging one another… When we sing, we’re “teaching and admonishi9ng one another” (Colossians 3:16). To express that reality, I’ll often open my eyes and look out at the congregation as I sing certain lines. I want to remind myself and the church that we’re affirming truth together.” -Worship Matters by Bob Kauflin