Monday, April 16, 2012

A True BFF (best friend forever!)

       The last picture I have of Roberta is of her sitting next to Mom on the bed, drinking tea and making comments on Wheel of Fortune. Mom was in her final days of cancer and unresponsive, but Roberta just kept talking and loving on her just the same.  What a beautiful picture of true friendship. Of course a friend like that isn't made overnight. Theirs was started as young married women in a Sunday School class and was forged through childbirth, heartaches, trips and activities, hours of chats over cups of tea, and countless phone conversations. They were a rather unlikely pair - Roberta was laid back and slow-moving, while Mom was quick and decisive. Roberta loved lingering while Mom was methodical...and that made for a few minor bumps in the road, mostly due to those differences in personality, but there was never a single thought of abandoning their bond. They instinctively lived by the quote that says, "We lived in a time when if something was broken you fixed it, rather than replacing it." They were heart sisters.
       The beauty of true friendship has been expressed so eloquently through the years but I have always loved the Bible's definition...Proverbs 17:17 says "A friend loves at all times and is born, as a brother, for times of adversity." True friends are there. That's all. It doesn't matter what circumstances or situations are occurring, whether there it's a time of feasting or famine. It can be a time filled with joy and celebration or sorrow and deep anguish. The true friend doesn't moralize, judge, critique, or rationalize...a true friend knows there will be time for "many words" later. They are just there...with love, support, comfort, and maybe chocolate chip cookies! They don't always know an answer and don't try to find one. They know that hugs in silence and a loving hand to hold are sometimes the only things necessary. Reciprocation is never thought about either because both of them know in their hearts that on another day the switch will come! Life is just like that!
       The classic passage in John 15:13 really says it all..."No one has or shows greater & stronger affection than this, to lay down and give up his own life for that of his friend's."  Though you mostly hear this verse quoted in relation to the ultimate sacrifice, the million little sacrifices made in the name of friendship are a reality as well. True friends lay aside their rights, needs, wants, & desires if necessary in order to be there for a friend. Sometimes it means rearranging life for an hour, a day, or a season in order to come along's not easy and can be very inconvenient, but there is nothing that's too great a burden or sacrifice because the underlying love demands nothing less.
       Both of my parents were blessed with that type of friends, and in their final days the comfort they received was irreplaceable. Roberta is now in her final stages and although the friends that would be there with her have all gone on ahead, I know that in her heart she feels their comfort because she knows they're waiting, watching, and anticipating that happy day when she will reunite with them and their circle of true friends will again be complete,... but this time they will be together for all eternity!!
      I am blessed to have my own circle of friends like that...and I hope you do too! This side of heaven, it's one of God's greatest gifts!!

Sunday, April 8, 2012

A Chance to Change It Up...

Easter is a wonderful and important time for Christians. It is the pivotal point, the change, for so many different things. When Christ came to earth and ministered in human form, He was constantly requiring people to examine what they were doing and why. He reinforced the importance of change from the traditions and status quo of men to the new way of looking at life and the change that would then occur.
Christ’s life, mission, & eventual death on the cross demanded changes:
-from dead traditions kept out of a life of spiritual service motivated by love
-from rote memorization and heart-felt spiritual sacrifices of praise & worship
-from living under the penalty of the living in the freedom of grace & restoration
-from slavery to human passions & a life of Spirit-inspired sacrifice & fruitfulness
-from ritualistic & tiresome love-inspired labor which is infused with a passion to please God
-from selfishness…to selflessness
-from spiritual unending spiritual life
-from the curse & consequences of the reality of forgiveness & redemption
-from the old human new birth & new life!

Easter is the time for evaluation, examination & change. It’s time to renew or begin your Christian walk, forgetting what’s behind and pressing on to find out what God desires, and what He has equipped you to do & to be. It’s time to leave your unfulfilled dreams at the Cross and find new possibilities and the many opportunities that He has prepared just for you. It’s a fresh start, a blank slate, a new beginning. It’s resurrection power walked out in our daily lives as we release our rights in favor of embracing God’s plan in which He gives us our heart’s desires and “more than we could ask for or think of” as we walk with Him.
This Easter, make the choice, take the chance, and change it up. You will be blessed beyond your wildest dreams! It’s His Promise!

Monday, April 2, 2012

From Cheering to Jeering

"Blessed be the Name of the Lord." The crowds lining the streets of Jerusalem were shouting and cheering as Jesus passed by. They were honoring Him by throwing down their coats for Him to ride over and were waving palm branches. It was a joy-filled day of adoration and expectation...and then the bubble burst. Jesus was not the one whose mission would rid them of their Roman oppressors. He upset the temple priests by overthrowing tables, criticizing their methods and motives, & insulting them. He disappointed His disciples when He taught them about servant hood rather than rebellion. He allowed Himself to be arrested and even healed one of the enemy soldiers. He refused to answer His critics, stood as a silent sheep when accused, & even His closest friends abandoned Him. No wonder the crowds turned against Him and called for the release of a murderer instead! Jesus was definitely not the messiah the crowds had been waiting for...or was He?

God often comes into our lives in unexpected ways. We think He should do certain things, or has to be a certain way. We even have the audacity to quote verses at Him to show Him what He has to do.We put Him into the box of our own limited understanding and when He doesn't fit, we get disillusioned or disinterested. We turn away in anger or disgust, refusing to adjust our vision to His higher ways. We close our minds to the truth, holding on to our own perceptions and willful ignorance. We release the murderer in our lives, the enemy of our souls, who is determined to do all he can to destroy us but pretends to be our angel of light. He leads us down the path to destruction and we blindly follow, choosing to believe the lies rather than open our minds to God's gentle nudging and constant invitation to return & follow Him. We close our eyes to the eternal plan & reject His sovereignty, living for our own here and now! We want what we want when we want it!

Do you see it? The crowds are a picture of us, of me. We love God when He shows up when, how, and where we want. We whine, cry, complain, and get mad when He chooses to do something different. We let our short-sightedness lead us rather than following after the Good Shepherd who has the best plan, knows the pitfalls, & loves us enough that He laid down His life for us, His wayward sheep. We need to get back into His fold and allow His vision, wisdom, desires, and plan to become ours. After all, we were bought at a tremendous price - we aren't our own anymore.

This week, as Easter approaches and we think of the Lord's great sacrifice for us, examine your heart and repent of any wayward thoughts you have toward God. Reset your focus to follow Him, no matter where He leads, whether it is a predictable or unexpected path.  He will bless your life and you will be thankful that you chose to follow Him.