FULLY ALIVE!

Your life will be as bright as the noonday sun. Job 11:17


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Words and Friends

Remember when you worked up a sweat pulling weeds, so you drank a Coke which made you feel so happy and gay that you forgot about your chores resulting in a smack on the bottom from your momma?  Well, those words – weed, Coke, gay and smack – all have different meanings nowadays.  That’s what happens with a lot of words.  They don’t mean what they used to.

Even the word friend has taken on new layers and levels of meaning.  For a long time friend has meant a person whom one knows and with whom one has a bond of mutual affection or a member of the Religious Society of Friends.  Those have been two long-standing, widely-accepted definitions.  Then along came Facebook and talk about friending and unfriending people, many of whom never really knew each other much less shared any bonds of mutual affection.

But Jesus is our Friend. (John 15:15)  Our true friend.  Our unchanging friend.  Our friend through good times and bad.  Our friend who never walks away.  Our friend who sticks closer than a brother.  Our friend who not only would but did lay down His life for us. (John 15:13)

Jesus is not just a friend; He is our best friend.

He accepts us unconditionally.  We can come to Him just as we are with our sin baggage. (Romans 5:8)

He listens to us.  We can share whatever is on our heart and troubling our minds – doubts, questions, tears, joys.  (1 John 5:14-15)

He is always available, and He never abandons us.  He never sleeps or slumbers (Psalm 121:4) and never takes a break (Matthew 28:20b)

He navigates life with us – ALL of life.  The good, the bad, the ugly.  (Hebrews 13:15 b, Deuteronomy 31:6, 1 Chronicles 28:20)

Isn’t this what we want in a friend – acceptance, listening ear, availability, support and encouragement?

Jesus began calling His disciples friends rather than servants because He had entrusted them with everything He had heard from His Father (John 15:15).  Can we truthfully say that we are His friends? Do we trust Him as he has entrusted us?  An Our Daily Bread author asked, “Do we listen to Him? Or do we only want Him to listen to us? Do we want to know what’s on His heart? Or do we only want to tell Him what’s on ours?”

Friendship is a two-way street.  To be a friend of Jesus, we need to accept Him (as our personal Savior and Lord), listen to Him (hear what He wants us to know and do), be available (submit and surrender to His will), support and encourage (the building of His kingdom by sharing His Gospel to bring others into friendship with Him).

As a child my parents used to tell us that “to have a friend you must be a friend” – their variation of Proverbs 18:24.  Like about 99% of what my parents taught us, that is true.  To have Jesus as our friend, we must be His.  And what a friend we have in Jesus!

You might enjoy this history of the hymn, What a Friend We Have in Jesus, and these renditions of the song:

 

 

 


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Window Shopping

It was almost a ritual.  Sunday School followed by morning worship that lasted most of the day (so I never understood why they called it morning worship) then home to a dinner that my mom had actually prepared just after breakfast, a nap for dad and then a short drive into town just as the sun was setting to go window shopping!

Those of you under the age of 50 probably have never heard of window shopping – looking at the goods displayed in shop windows, especially without intending to buy anything. If you have heard of it, your probably can’t understand it. Well, think of it like shopping online. You put a lot of stuff into your cart, but you never check out! Researchers (yes, someone actually studied window shopping) say that there are great benefits from window shopping – exercise, relieved stress and raised aspirations are just a few, not to mention you save money!

For us, it was a great family time. It was almost a kind of “date night” for mom and dad as they walked along whispering to each other, gazing into the windows of the furniture store, reminiscing about old times and making plans for their future – and ours. For my sister and I, it was a time of dreaming. Our favorite window gave a gaze into the local 5 and dime. As we grew, our interests shifted to the clothing stores. Sometimes we would stop for ice cream and enjoy our cones and sandwiches as we walked, talked and “shopped,” our imaginations running wild.

That’s what window shopping is really about – letting your imagination run wild. You imagine all the things that you could have, the life you could live. Imagination can be a good thing. And not. Especially when it comes to living the Christian life. We were not meant to live a life of imagining what could be, what we might have. John 10:10 teaches us that Christ came that we might have an abundant life, here and in the hereafter.

When you window shop you never go into the store, you never try on the goods, you don’t even get to touch them. You simply watch from a distance, separated by that pane of glass and separated from the joy of touching, holding, knowing, having. When we window shop God’s word, we read of all that He has promised – rest, power, strength, peace, victory, life eternal! (Matthew 11:28-29; Isaiah 40:29-31, Proverbs 1:33; John 14:27, Romans 8:37-39), but we separate ourselves from possessing these gifts and knowing the full joy of them. Just as we cannot really imagine owning some of the possessions behind the glass of the store windows, we tell ourselves that we cannot really receive God’s blessings. For certain, we don’t deserve His love.

We look with our human eyes and think with our human thoughts, so it is difficult for us to comprehend. God does not love us because we are lovable or because we deserve His love. Our hearts are innately deceitful and wicked (Jeremiah 17:9). We are evil and we do evil (Romans 3:10-12). But it is not just God’s nature to love; He is love, true love, not the sappy movies and Valentine’s Day kind of love but agape love, love that sacrifices, and He chooses to lavish His love on those who need it the most, those who least deserve it, those who rebel even against Him (1 John 4:10; John 6:44; Romans 5:8).

Unlike the cold panes of glass that separate us from the stores’ goods, God invites us to come – come drink, come eat, come live (Isaiah 55:1-2). Don’t let Satan trick you into thinking you are unworthy. He will have you forever on the outside looking in, nose pressed against the glass, desiring what you think is beyond you. Come. Come into God’s covenant. Come into His love (Isaiah 55:1-3).