Wednesday, October 28, 2009

What is a REAL friend?

Thank-you God for Friends....

Who care for me, just because I'm me.

Who affirm me, who say "yes" to me when so many say "no".

Who let me feel safe with them.

Who let me know that they accept me and love me no matter what!

Who refuse to judge me when others are so quick to.

Who listen to me, really listen to me.

Who let me share the joy of an accomplishment with them.

Who share in my losses and my failures.

Who let me see their genuine concern and pain for me in times of trouble.

Who teach me how to laugh and how to cry.

Who teach me how to feel passionately about life and faith.

Who by their openness and vulnerability and honestly encourage me to shed my masks and false images.

Who make me feel special and valuable.

Who make me feel gifted and loved.

Thank - you Lord for friends like that.

This devotional is adapted from a devotional found in the "Daylight Devotional Bible" copyright 1998 by Zondervan.

A REAL friend always loves us.
A REAL friend sticks by us no matter what.
A REAL friend always brings out the best in us.
A REAL friend always tells the truth. Even if it hurts.
A REAL friend is interested in what interests us.

Discovery Church Sermon on a Real Friend

 Did you know that it is a sign of immaturity if you think you don't need a friend? I have been immature for years. You see, I have been hurt before by people I thought were my friends. I have opened up to those whom I now know, were only acquaintances and not an Intimate friend, and I was hurt. So, I kept my distance for many years. Acquaintances do not really care about your well being. Acquaintances can be superficial and your contact with them is intermittent. You can not build a close relationship if you do not put in the time.

1) Acquaintances - Intermittent contact, superficial
2) Casual Friend - Common Interests, ask more questions
3) Close Friend - Similar Life goals, ask harder questions
4) Intimate Friend - Share a deep commitment in mutual values, free to encourage, someone you trust.

I now know the difference and I chose my friends wisely, because a friend, spouse included, impacts our lives on a daily basis.  Life is really tough if you have no intimate friends. Remember, Jesus had 12 of them.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Trusting God Amid Rejection

  "They don't want our food!" Krista came up to me last thursday afternoon. We had just spent the morning making Mac 'n cheese and chili for a family where the husband lost his job and the wife was laid off. They didn't want help? They didn't need help? They were allergic to the food? Who knows?
  It was in the back of my mind, when we started this new direction, that one day we may come across rejection. We see what God has done in our own lives and in turn we wish to share that with others. It feels good helping.... But when rejection actually materialized.......I just know, that I felt uncomfortable. Some may take rejection as an insult and refuse to help anyone else.
" Here I am trying to help.... and they don't want it! I could have spent my time doing something else... What a waste of time!"  It hurts, when others don't accept the love (in action) you wish to give and it does hurt your ego. But, it's not about me. Is it? It's not about my feelings or my time and resources. Jesus actually commands his followers to help others.

John 21:15-17
When they finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter, "Simon son of John, do you love me?"
He answered, "Yes, Lord, you know that I love you."
Jesus said, "Feed my lambs."
Again Jesus said, "Simon son of John, do you love me?"
He answered, "Yes, Lord, you know that I love you."
Jesus said, "Take care of my sheep."
A third time he said, "Simon son of John, do you love me?"
Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, "Do you love me?" Peter said, "Lord, you know everything, you know that I love you!"
He said to him, "Feed my sheep."

  On the eve of his Lords death, Peter rejected Christ three times before the rooster crowed. As they sat there around the camp fire a few weeks later, Jesus didn't ask Peter the same question three times because the man was hard of hearing. It was for emphasis. Jesus was saying, "Pay attention here.... this is important! Take care of my people, help them, love them, feed them."

John 10:4
 When he brings out his own sheep, he goes before them; and the sheep follow him.

Love = Action

Jesus went out into the world and acted out love. He wants us to move into action. Yes, there will be rejection. But, do we allow the fear of a kick in the teeth or a cold shoulder, hold us back from the amazing things we could do?
"At first, I felt really uncomfortable," the woman explained to Krista, "I was concerned at what my children were saying to their friends about our family." Fear of what other's would think, fear that other people were talking about them.
"This is not a group of gossip, "Krista told her, "Just a group of women that want to give back to the community and be the hands and feet of Christ." In the end, the family did accept our gift of food for the blessing and grace in which it was given.
God can use you to change other peoples lives. Actively loving people and reaching out and do it on purpose is something we need to do everyday. We need to make the decision to be a part of that change and to trust God amid the rejection.

 God put each fresh morning, each new change of life, into our hands as a gift to see what we will do with it. What are you going to do with your gift?

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

What kind of light bulb are you?

Matthew 5:14-16

You are the light that gives light to the world. A city that is built on a hill cannot be hidden. And people don't hide a light under a bowl. They put it on a lamp stand so the light shines for all the people in the house. In the same way, you should be a light for other people. Live so that they will see the good things you do and will praise your Father in heaven.

 What kind of light am I? 
After reading this passage last night I began to wonder... What type of illumination do I give off? 50 watts? 100 watts? Am I a dim bulb that flickers on and off because I'm barely attached? Am I a light that burns out quickly because of a short circuit? Or am I an econo bulb that lasts a long time? (and saves energy!) Am I a colourful Christmas light bulb that's only used on the Holidays? Or am I a grow light that helps seeds grow?
 Truthfully, I think I've been a bit of each at one time or another in my life. But what I hope to one day accomplish is to be a long lasting grow light for everyday use. A light that draws people to the love of God. A light to warm them up, so they have strength to make it through a few more cold days. A light to make the plant grow and have strong roots... so they intern, can sow seeds of love and become another long lasting grow light. So let me ask you....
What kind of light are you?

Friday, October 9, 2009

Pride: a Company of Lions

PRIDE:  a quality or state of being proud; inordinate self esteem: Conceit; a reasonable or justifiable self-respect; delight or elation arising from some act, possession, or relationship; proud or disdainful behavior or treatment: Disdain; a ostentatious display; a source of pride: the best in a group or class; a company of lions; a showy or impressive group.

 My husband and I were talking about the 'Zuki' the other day.  He had just put in the new transmission and a strange sound was coming from our 1995 Suzuki side kick, a rattling noise that just didn't seem right. I had told him to call Steve, a fellow 4x4 gentleman, who so kindly offered to do the transmission with him a week ago. Steve had a pulley system built in his carport.  My husband did not wish to feel indebted to anyone, so there he was, with a 80lb transmission on his chest lifting it up with his knees and me trying to hurry up and put the bolts in before it landed on my husbands chest and squished him.
 "No pressure... just hurry up okay? This thing is heavy." he gasped through clenched teeth. I could not understand why he refused a friends help. Help that would have made the change much easier on him.

INDEBTED: Owing money, owing gratitude or recognition to another: Beholden.

"If the tables were turned and you were on the receiving end of 'Deeds for Needs', how would you
feel? " my husband was trying to help me understand what he felt.
 "I would probably say' No Thank you' and send them on their way". I had to answer truthfully," I am nobody's charity case."
 " See!" he answered.
 "Yeah, but I'm not alone. I have children to feed and clothe.... So in the end I would have to swallow my pride and accept the help as gracefully as possible." I returned. He grunted.
 "I still wouldn't want to owe anyone anything." Self sufficiency! The less you can rely on another, the better. That's the name of the game, for him, for me and for many others. Human beings are unreliable, we've got a bad rap! History proves that. People are unreliable but God is not. Thank-goodness for that.

 "Each one of us has a body with many parts, and these parts all have different uses. In the same way, we are many, but in Christ we are all one body. Each one is a part of that body, and each part belongs to all the other parts. We all have different gifts, each of which came because of the grace God gave us. The person who has the gift of prophecy should use that gift in agreement with the faith. Anyone who has the gift of serving should serve. Anyone who has the gift of teaching should teach. Whoever has the gift of encouraging others should encourage. Whoever has the gift of giving to others should give freely. Anyone who has the gift of being a leader should try hard when he leads. Whoever has the gift of showing mercy to others should do so with joy. Your love must be real...."
Romans 12:4-9

 "So all those times you have stopped along side of the road and helped someone change a tire or drive them to a town..... You didn't expect anything in return for those 'goodwill deeds'.... did you?" I asked my husband.
 "Of course not!" he replied.
 "You are not the only nice person in the world who can do something nice for someone without expecting anything in return... you know?" I roared.
"Hrmmmppphh." was his reply.

  "In Him there was life, and that life was the light of all people."
John 1:4

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Too Busy

 "How are you?" 
"Busy......I'm just too busy." seems to be the response (or something like it) the majority of us reply. What makes us so busy? What makes us too hectic to help a friend? 
 There have been moments in my life where the hustle and bustle of life consumed me. The chaos overwhelming. Especially, if you are a young mother working full-time. Between work and family you have no extra time to 'help' those not close to your immediate family unit. I know, I've been there. 
 "That which does not kill you makes you stronger." I've heard that many times. In some ways it is true. I'm not dead yet at 43. I couldn't have done it on my own. If I singularly relied on my own devices, I would have been buried long ago, or in a mental institution. But, you see, I had a slow cooker. One of the few appliances that actually does make your life easier. Throw all the ingredients in the pot at sunrise and by sundown your meal is done, and you didn't even have to stir. I suppose if you really needed to stir, you could have. My point is, I needed help. 
 I have been a working mom for 11 years now and let me tell you the beginning was tough. There were moments in the early hours of daybreak before work, when I looked at my children sleeping and I touched their little heads and gently kissed their foreheads and cried, because I knew that I wouldn't be seeing them again until supper time. That thought alone made me sick inside, and there were days that I couldn't go to work due to the overwhelming guilt at leaving my children, and I was just leaving them with my husband .... I didn't have daycare. 
 " It's okay. I can handle it." my husband murmured and lay back against the pillow.
"She has a fever... she's crying?" there I stood at the doorway of our bedroom with my boots and coat on at 5:30 am and my beloved was not moving to get out of bed to take care of his child. If I didn't leave within the next 5 minutes I was going to be late for my commuter train into the city. He eventually did get out of bed. 
 "I'm the one that should be looking after her!" I sobbed, in the rain, as I ran to catch the train. The guilt eating a huge hole inside of me. Men don't have the compassionate instincts a female does. They weren't born with it...WE WERE! How dare I leave? But, I did, because a two income family is the norm now a days. We need two incomes just to survive.  Either my husband got a second job or I continued to work. No other options were available. How does a working Mom survive? God, family, friends, and a slow cooker!
 A relationship with God filled me with the daily strength I needed. Fellowship with family and friends secured that relationship and provided a sanctuary to express emotions in a safe environment and well, I've already explained the attributes of a slow cooker. All of the above have been invaluable to my health and sanity. 
  “I’m doing the Alpha course at my home. Come for coffee this Thursday?” my neighbour Krista persuaded. “Kids welcome.” My eldest daughter had already started school, but I still had 3 year old at home.
 “I’ll let you know.” I replied. Just that morning I had ripped up a ‘Our Daily Bread’ leaflet and thrown it away; angry at the idiot who put my name on their mailing list. “Christianity? Been there, done that,” Was my attitude. Only dim-witted human beings believe in such things. Then I read:
“Great spirits have always encountered violent opposition from mediocre minds.” I read this quote from Albert Einstein and I literally felt a slap in the face. I was a mediocre mind. What had I just done to that leaflet? What was I feeling about Christians for crying out loud? The following day I accepted the coffee invitation. I dared myself that I wouldn’t get brain washed by these Christians. I wasn’t going to be a mediocre mind either. That was  5 years ago and the beginning of our coffee group and I never looked back. 
 Our coffee group started with inner reflections to help ourselves, to lift each other up after a "busy" week. This year we changed the direction a little bit. Not inner but outer reflections. To give back to the community. To help and strengthen others. To make this world a little bit better.

John 14:12
" I tell you the truth, whoever believes in me will do the same things that I do. Those who believe will do even greater things than these......"