Peace of My Heart

An encouraging voice to drown out the noise

~The Fellowship Factor~ June 23, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — Valerie Rutledge @ 9:49 am
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

I don’t know about the rest of you, but this weekend was one for the books for the Rutledge fam!  And to think, we almost said no to it all.

As most of you know or could likely presume, extended vacations for our family of 7 are not in our coupon-clipping, discount-rack-shopping budget!  This is a fact that has oftentimes depressed and frustrated me.  Rather than let our restrictions keep us down, we have committed to make the best of the moments we do have this summer.  Even so, when my momma suggested we drive the hour and a half to her place then the additional 3  hours to the beach for the day, I was apprehensive.  My old self started calculating gas cost and trying to decide if it was worth it for just a few hours of sand & sun.  When I thought of how much we all love the ocean and the possibility that we’d go another summer without seeing it, I stopped calculating and started packing for our day trip.  With early mornings and long drives, the sour faces had me thinking we’d made the wrong decision.  But once we got there & buried our toes in the hot sand & felt the spray of saltwater on our tired faces, something miraculous happened….we ALL enjoyed the day.  No one complained about the PB sandwiches we ate out of the back of the car instead of heading to a restaurant for lunch.  Not a huff was heard about having to wash their hair in cold, outdoor showers or changing in cramped, sandy dressing rooms before hitting the road again.  We even managed to leave without both of the boy’s shoes & no one had a meltdown….self included! Everyone was simply thankful for the 5 hours of family fun.

Yesterday we had a cookout with friends that we had planned a couple weeks ago.  As you might imagine we were all a bit worn from our quick trip not to mention the fact that 2 of our 7 had turned a lovely shade of red thanks to fair skin & poor application of sunscreen.  On the short drive over, the grumbles and snarling faces had me on edge about how the afternoon was going to pan out.  I was working on my excuse to leave early because obviously time with friends wasn’t a good call.  But once we got there and the slip-n-slide came out, all the attitudes disappeared and we stayed well into the evening.

I’m sharing our weekend with you for one reason.  So many times we neglect the fellowship portion of our faith.  We are all so busy with our own lives that we feel there is no room for activities with “outsiders.”  When our schedules become overbooked, the first thing to go are the extras we’ve planned with friends.  This is unfortunate as time spent with family & friends is refreshing and brings encouragement to our weary souls.  We are designed to need one another yet we are quick to rely on our independence when life gets crazy.  Maybe what we all need is to swap out time spent worrying over how to solve our problems for a little more time around a campfire with good friends, gooey marshmallows & stories that make you laugh until you cry.  Or maybe you need an impromptu drive to your favorite spot to remind you what life is truly about.

IMG_274055045358028IMG_274184356515255

 

 

 

 

“And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near.”

Hebrews 10:25

group slip n slide

 

~No Service…Sad Day~ December 8, 2013

4.1.1I normally do not post on the weekends, especially Sunday, but I am making an exception today.  Our church services have been cancelled due to inclement weather and I am sad.  Not only because I was already up and showered so now fully awake but because I truly believe the words of Hebrews 10, verses 24 & 25:

“Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works.  And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near.”

Obviously today it would have been hazardous for us to do so and the decision was made to close the building so meeting together isn’t an option.  Oftentimes though, individuals make the decision to skip out on this vital part of their Christian walk for reasons of their own.

There are four main components to our time together every Sunday that I feel validate the importance of doing so.  I realize that all of these things can be done outside of church or even alone.  But there is something special about coming to the Lord’s house every week that cannot be duplicated anywhere else.

1.  Fellowship:  Face to face interaction with other believers can work wonders for one’s soul.  You can see the compassion in someone’s eyes, feel the warmth from their embrace and find strength through their companionship.  You can’t experience these things during a phone call or email. So in a time where people find it easier to text, even while standing in the same room, this time together is irreplaceable.

2.  Worship:  My favorite.  There are no words for the closeness I feel to the Father when singing praises to his name.  As a member of our praise team, my heart wants to explode when I can look out on our congregation and see my brothers & sisters lifting their voices to God with joy and thanksgiving.  More than that, are the times when you see someone come in looking downcast, their faces hardened by the burdens they carry.  Then the Lord grips their hurts through the words of a song and you can see that barrier fall away as their countenance changes…beautiful.  So let us sing to the Lord, for he has done glorious things; let this be known to all the world.

3.  Bible Study:  For our church, we are incredibly blessed with a pastor who takes the Word and teaches us how to live it out today.  He doesn’t simply rattle off verse after verse from the KJV of the Bible and say amen, he gives us examples of life application that are down to earth and relatable for all.  Teaching of the Scripture is a crucial part of service for we know that all Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of Godmay be thoroughly equipped for every good work.

4.  Prayer:  While this can and should be done at other places and times, the Bible clearly states that where two or three gathered in the name of the Lord, He is there among them.  We have been given a gift in prayer, that we may submit our needs to God with the promise that he hears each and every one.  When gathered together in the altar, with hands laid on those seeking prayer, we are expressing love and solidarity to the one hurting the most.  And in doing so, fulfilling the law of Christ by bearing one another’s burdens.

These are the reasons why I am missing my church family today.  They strengthen me, encourage me and fill me heart with joy.  I consider myself truly blessed to be a part of a community that honors the Lord and offers a place of refuge for his people.

I pray that each one of you are blessed to have the same on this Lord’s day.  Don’t try to convince yourself that you don’t need to attend church…we are made to be together so that one man’s strength can complement another man’s weakness.  Take advantage of the community that God has designed for us while here on this earth.  You will be amazed at the benefits you will reap from a solid church family.