Friday, May 28, 2010
This Week’s Verse: John 15:13, “Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.”(NIV)
Growing up in Marshall, I had the same friends from kindergarten all the way through high school. After parting from Marshall for several years to pursue a degree and start a family, Clint and I made the hard decision to move back home and raise our family in the town we both grew up in. I was excited. I had history in Marshall—friends—and we would just pick right up where we left off. Or so I thought.
Truth was, these girls were still all my friends, but we had grown apart. We were still (mostly) the same people, with the same characteristics, yet we had all changed. I was devastated. I never thought I would live in my hometown and be struggling to make a connection with anyone.
For a couple of years, I prayed to find my "best" friend again. I prayed and prayed that I wouldn’t feel so lonely and would regain that bond of friendship that every woman needs in her life. And, like I have said recently, “If you ask, He will give!” My, has the Lord provided friends for me! And not just one best friend, but many good friends that I lean on for support!
I have the Tell-it-like-it-is friend for when I am contemplating doing something un-Christian or un-lady like. Boy, does she ever set me straight—yet in a way I could never get mad! I have the Phone-call friend, who is only a phone call away. If I need something, she has got my back! I have the Praying friends who through the click of a mouse are praying for me all day, all week, or all month if I need. Lord knows I can’t live without these women in my life.
I have the I-never-thought-we-would-be-friends friend who has shocked me with her kindness. I have the Testimony friend who from sharing her testimony with me has helped me begin to understand and share mine. I have the Please-don’t-talk-to-me-about-religion friend whom I adore dearly and who, one day, might decide that my life is just as enticing as hers!
Even though these friends are all different, I know they are just like the friends of the paralytic in Mark 2:1-5. Jesus had entered a town called Capernaum. So many people had heard about Jesus being there, they quickly surrounded him and the home he was preaching in. Meanwhile, four friends carried with them their friend, a paralytic, on a mat to go listen to Jesus preach (or maybe even catch a glimpse of him). Since the crowd was so large, they decided to cut a hole (yes, cut a hole) in the roof, and lower their friend down on his mat straight to Jesus. When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, "Son, your sins are forgiven."
Notice, Jesus doesn’t say when he saw “his” faith; he said “their” faith. This man’s friends had so much faith and belief in not only Jesus, but also their friend—and that is why he stood up and walked right out into the crowd! Talk about some awesome friends! And that’s what the Lord has provided me with—some really cool, awesome friends!
Dear Lord, thank you for who you have chosen to place in my life. Thank you for such wonderful friends. Please help me to be just as good a friend to them, as they are to me. In your Son’s name I pray, Amen.
Has the Lord placed another woman on your heart lately? He might just be telling you to talk to her, and get to know her. That first phone call might be a bit scary, but once it is out of the way, the rest are much easier!
Job 2:11, “When Job's three friends heard about all the troubles that had come upon him, they set out from their homes and met together by agreement to go and sympathize with him and comfort him.”(NIV)
1 John 4:7, “Dear friends, let us continue to love one another, for love comes from God. Anyone who loves is a child of God and knows God.”(NLT)
Matthew 21:22, “And whatever things you ask in prayer, believing, you will receive.”(NKJV)
Friday, May 21, 2010
This Week's Verse: Proverbs 22:6, "Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it."(NASB)
The other morning, my kids and I witnessed a beautiful occurrence. Out of our window, we watched as a mom and dad bird taught their babies how to fly. The little ones were perched around the lattice on our deck. Mom and Dad flew back and forth from there to a nearby arbor and retaining wall, trying to coax the little fuzz-heads to follow suit.
Sure enough, with their parents' attentive chirping (bird-language encouragement?), the little ones took flight one by one. Short little “fly-jumps” turned to bolder, longer flights. The parents were there during the whole process.
Boy, if that scenario isn't ripe for life application, I don't know what is!
I felt a lump form in my throat as I thought about how soon my own little lovies will be flying our coop, leaving our nest empty. I wondered if Mom and Dad Bird had such a bitter-sweet feeling or if instinct simply spurred them to start preparing for their next brood. I smiled, imagining them offering up little birdie prayers of protection over their young. Regardless, they set an awesome parental example of preparing our own young to launch into adulthood.
From the time our kids are helpless newborns, we begin a gradual process of equipping them little by little to become independent. They start moving themselves, feeding themselves, expressing themselves, dressing themselves, asserting themselves, eventually transporting themselves, and finally, even paying for themselves! We exert a little less control with each milestone and relinquish more control to them as they prove worthy.
Then one day they're ready to take flight. And we pray like crazy that everything they've been taught has taken root and that they'll follow after God. That while they taste independence for the first time, they still depend on God. We pray that the wings we've given them will take them far, but that they experience the fulfilled promise in Isaiah 40:31: "But those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint"(NIV).
May that be true for them. And may that be true for us as we continue to soar to new heights on the winds of God's grace and power. As illustrated by the bird family that blessed my kids and me, the best training tool is leading by example.
Lord, how we thank You for giving us wings to take flight--for Your constant presence that give us the confidence to even attempt such a thing! Equip us to impart that same tender-loving presence with our children and that they take flight knowing it's You who allows them to soar. In Jesus' Name.Application: In what ways are you preparing your brood to take flight? Consider maturity in all its areas, including physical, emotional, psychological, and especially spiritual. In what ways can you lead by example?
Matthew 6:26, "Look at the birds. They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, for your heavenly Father feeds them. And aren’t you far more valuable to him than they are?"(NLT)
Psalm 124:7, "We've flown free from their fangs, free of their traps, free as a bird. Their grip is broken; we're free as a bird in flight."(MSG)
Isaiah 54:13, "I will teach all your children,and they will enjoy great peace."(NLT)
Friday, May 14, 2010
This Week's Verse: Deuteronomy 13:4, “Serve only the LORD your God and fear him alone. Obey his commands, listen to his voice, and cling to him.”(NLT)
Cleave, adhere, stick. In a word? Cling.
We usually perceive "clingy" as something negative, right? I know I hate it when my clothes are clingy; I tend to want to distance myself when people are too clingy; and I've even scolded our dog when she follows not more than six inches behind me when she's uneasy. Ugh! It kinda gets on my nerves, this clingy business.
It's frustrating, isn't it? You want to be there, and honestly, as wives, mothers, daughters, sisters, girlfriends, and women in general--you know, the "nurturers"--we feel the enormous expectation to meet everyone's needs. Then if we fall short we feel guilty because it's just not humanly possible to be everything for everybody. Or sometimes even a few somebodies.
But you know what I find liberating? We were never designed to be! There is only One who can be everything to everybody and this week's verse is clear about Who is truly cling-worthy.
Are we to work faithfully on His behalf? Absolutely. Reach out to help? Of course. Are we to carry others' burdens? Without question.
But we also have to recognize our limitations and maybe even remind others--the cling-ons--that anytime they seek fulfillment solely from mere humans, they'll come up unsatisfied. People aren't perfect. But thank God, He is.
I once heard a quote that said something like, "If I was a perfect mom, my kids wouldn't need God." Pithy, yes, but there's a kernal of truth there. And you could substitute relationships within the sentence: If I was a perfect friend, my friend wouldn't need God. If I was a perfect wife, my husband wouldn't need God. Sure, they'd still need Him, but it's less likely they'd see their need for Him if their needs were met with a "perfect" friend or wife! Why cling when life is grand?
Please understand, the above is not a cop-out of our Christian duty to love one another well. In fact, it increases our own need to cling. When that guilt at falling short kicks in, or emptiness or loneliness or numbness or simply a desire for change, we are in turn propelled to someone for strength, encouragement, or answers. It's definitely okay to reach out to those you love and respect. But be sure above all else you're reaching out to grab hold of God. He invites you to cling to Him. He desires it.
And when you cling, when you truly hold on tightly with both hands, following Him closely, and talking constantly to Him, everything else fades.
Feeling a little clingy?
Father God, thank you that you not only allow us to cling to You, but that you invite it--even command it! Help us to shift any excessive clinginess to people whole-heartedly to You. We want to cleave and adhere to You. In Jesus' Name.
Do you see yourself as a clingy person? How do you react when someone has been clingy with you? Praise God for being the only perfect One to cling to.
Psalm 63:8, "My soul clings to you; your right hand upholds me."(NIV)
Romans 12:9, "Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good."(NIV)
1 Timothy 1:19, "Cling to your faith in Christ, and keep your conscience clear. For some people have deliberately violated their consciences; as a result, their faith has been shipwrecked."(NLT)
Friday, May 7, 2010
This Week’s Verse: Exodus 20:12 "Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the LORD your God is giving you." (NIV)
There is a magnet I gave my mom on Mother’s Day several years ago. It reads: "Mothers and daughters are closest, when daughters become mothers"(author unknown). On March 31, 2002, I became a mom. It was then that I first understood my mother. What I had perceived as overbearing, overprotective, bossy and old-fashioned was really just intelligence, love, and nurture. What a change of attitude!
Moms just place extraordinary value to another’s heart. It’s a mom who can kiss a boo-boo and make it all better. It’s a mom who secretly cries as her little one runs off to kindergarten. It’s a mom who is your biggest fan even when you sit the bench! Now, don’t get me wrong--dads are great too. But a mom is undeniably special.
Genesis 2:20-22 states, “So the man (Adam) gave names to all the livestock, the birds of the air and all the beasts of the field. But for Adam no suitable helper was found. So the LORD God caused the man to fall into a deep sleep; and while he was sleeping, he took one of the man's ribs and closed up the place with flesh. Then the LORD God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man.”
If God made man in his image, and then woman came from man, that means women (me, you, your mom, your sister, your daughter) are in the image of God! And notice how woman wasn't taken from his foot (to be stepped on), or his head (to do his thinking for him), but from his side to work in tandem with him raising God's next crop of kids. How incredibly splendid is that!
Mother’s Day is one particular day a year to honor moms! This year, celebrate Mother’s Day knowing we are created in God's image. Our daughters and sons are created in His image! To me, knowing and understanding that is priceless! God made moms because booboos always need kissed, and bedtime stories always need told. But, He also made moms to complete the family. And, I couldn’t think of a better thing to celebrate!
Lord, thank you for moms. Enough said. Amen!
Enjoy these quotes regarding Mothers. Let them resonate as you celebrate that precious maternal relationship:
--Some are kissing mothers and some are scolding mothers, but it is love just the same. ~Pearl S. Buck
--The older I get, the more I see the power of that young woman, my mother. ~Sharon Olds
--When you are a mother, you are never really alone in your thoughts. A mother always has to think twice, once for herself and once for her child. ~Sophia Loren
--A mother is a person who seeing there are only four pieces of pie for five people, promptly announces she never did care for pie. ~Tenneva Jordan
Psalm 139:13, "For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother's womb." (NIV)
Matthew 12:50, "Anyone who does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother!"(NLT)
Ephesians 5:31, "For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh."(NKJV)