Born to be With You

In answer to today’s Daily Post, yes I have a best friend. He has so many good qualities. Let’s start with creativity: The day I was born, my friend saw the commotion. He heard the clatter of trolley wheels down hospital corridors. As people peeped through the window at us and dreamed of the future, my friend knew only one of us would make it, and looked for a way to communicate with me. He knows everything – every twist and turn in life, every struggle inside my fickle heart. Do I really love my friend … or only me, and will I always put my friend first above myself?

 

As I grow and learn, as I cry over big and small things, I know my friend suffered more than my biggest let-down – felt more vulnerable than me at my most afraid. And as I laugh with the friends I’ve been given, as I marvel at things I’ve done that I thought I could never do, I know it’s nothing compared to the joy where my friend is.

 

His name is Jesus, and He’s in heaven, where He’s gone to fix up a place for you and me. He saw and heard the day you were born, too. When you hurt, you can think of Him: People tried to stone Him; His family thought He was off His trolley; before He went to the cross He was blindfolded, slapped in the face and asked who hit Him – vulnerability, and we can’t imagine His pain on the cross as His shoulders were yanked backwards, and hands nailed behind Him so He was almost on all-fours. He went through all that to identify with you in your suffering, and any contentment you’ve felt in this world is just a taste of what’s to come in eternity.

 

I know lots of people have heard about Jesus, but if reading this does something in your heart – if there’s a connection you haven’t felt before, I’d really encourage you to talk to God about it. There’s so much more to Him than stories on a page. Jesus rose from the dead; He’s alive in heaven, and He wants to be your best friend.

The Big 3s

Today’s Daily Post asks us to search our hearts for the big 3s:  First, 3 things we believe to be true.  I believe Jesus really did hang on a cross and was crucified for me.  I believe Jesus rose from the dead, and I believe forgiveness is possible.  As Corrie Ten Boom said:  “Jesus died for that man.  Could I ask for anything more?”  Without Jesus’ example, without the forgiveness He showed to us all, it would be impossible for us to really forgive those who wrong us.  I’m glad that because of Jesus, we can live the life He wants us to live.

 

And the other big 3:  Things we believe to be false.  I firmly believe evolution is false.  At best it reduces God, our Creator, to one who doesn’t have the power to create the whole world in 6 days.  At worst, it questions whether He exists at all.  I really encourage you when looking for a church to find a Bible-believing one, which holds to the truth that we didn’t evolve from monkeys; God formed us in our mothers’ wombs.

 

I also believe we can’t find security in any person, or thing, on this earth.  When I look at myself, I know at times I’ve fallen short.  I haven’t lived up to others’ expectations and certainly not my own.  I’ve messed up, as have we all.  Money spends and people fail, but God is eternal and trustworthy.

 

So, one more falsehood, and it would be this:  The devaluing of people.  I overheard a conversation earlier, that didn’t sit well with me.  An elderly person needed a lift and the woman told her husband:  “D is coming with me to collect C, so that he can do it as well eventually, and share the responsibility.”  It made me sad for that poor man – that he doesn’t have a friend who finds it a pleasure to take him places.  I hope and pray that when I get to eighty years old, I’m not just a name on a rota.  I’d really rather stay at home than have someone take me somewhere out of a sense of duty.  It made me want to sing the praises of Community Action, a charity which provides transport for elderly people and treats them with such respect.  Perhaps you’re in your eighties reading this blog; perhaps you just feel you’re a burden, but that is totally false.  God formed you in your mother’s womb, however many years ago that was.  He loves to spend time with you!  Jesus died so that you could be close to God, and He could be close to you.  If you’re still here, it means He’s not finished with you yet!  The world would be a much better place if we all did what Jesus said, and loved one another as He’s loved us.

Wield Those Drivers

No, I’m not talking about golf clubs, though there is a similarity.

The other week, a lady told me I had so much to give to the church (those we worship with on a Sunday).  I’m on the worship-team and sing upfront every couple of weeks, but she said:  “I meant the wisdom.”  Wisdom?  I don’t have a responsible, highly-paid job, or a young family who need my input.  I feel like lots of people have had steep learning curves and therefore are wise because of them.

But people’s encouragement, their compliments really, can be like a driver is to that golf ball:  They can launch something inside you.  In my case, it reaffirmed that yes, I do have something worthwhile to say (and who doesn’t need that reassurance).  I’m grateful that through this blog and the Facebook-groups I’m in, I can share my thoughts with the world.

Of course, the tongue can have the opposite effect.  People’s fears and doubts can be like seeds if you let them, causing fear and doubt to sprout in your own heart.  Please, use your words to motivate people, and drive them towards being all they were made to be.

Build Your City

“Do good things for the city where I sent you as captives.  Pray to the Lord for the city where you are living, because if good things happen in the city, good things will happen to you also” (Jeremiah 29:7).

Today’s Daily Post asks what do we like most, and least, about the place where we live?  What’s its biggest problem and how would we tackle it?

As well as my parents and some of my closest friends being nearby, one of the best things about the place where I live is its beauty.  We have a range of hills here, the highest of which has an easy tarmac path from a car-park right to the top, and I absolutely love being on those hills in the sunshine.  The only drawback is the number of dogs likely to be running loose up there.

Our biggest problem?  Well, I hear that in the area where I go to church, one in three households live in poverty.  I personally help to tackle this by involvement with my local food bank, but as a church, with those people right on our doorstep, I’m sure we could do a whole lot more.  Obstacles like lack of transport or unemployment aren’t so easy to solve, but if we can’t get paid work, we can find other ways to make use of our time.

What’s the biggest problem in your neighbourhood?  Maybe you could play a part in tackling it.  When God’s people went as prisoners to Babylon, God used someone called Jeremiah to encourage them to pray for the land where they lived, and to do good in it.  It’s wise for us to get involved in the place where we are.  Otherwise, we’ll only have ourselves to blame if things go downhill.  As a Christian, being ‘Set apart’ isn’t necessarily about distance; it’s about living life with a purpose different from that of the world around us.  Giving a percentage of our money to God instead of keeping it all for ourselves is being set apart.

Do you know one other thing I like about this place?  Just like Jeremiah said to the Israelites in Babylon, it’s temporary.  We won’t always have to live in this troubled world.  In our hearts we can look forward to our heavenly home, where our Father will love us and keep us safe forever.

The Languages of Angels

Speech/language/words.  This week’s prompt from Kirsten gives me an excuse to tell you something I’ve just picked up on.  A bit of background:  I’ve read “The Five Love-Languages” before.  I didn’t see anything wrong with a single person reading a book about marriage, because I thought the lessons I learnt from it could be helpful in other relationships, such as friendships.  The author obviously agrees because he’s now written editions specifically for men, single adults and parents.  I haven’t read those, but the book “God Speaks Your Love-Language:  How to Feel and Reflect God’s Love” intrigued me.  I thought:  How can we express our love to God in the language of physical touch, when He’s not physically present with us?  So I read the book, and the small-group study guide at the end pointed me to 1 Corinthians 13:

“I may speak in different languages of people or even angels” (verse 1).  I wondered:  If God speaks our love-language, is it possible that angels speak the five love-languages, too?  Suddenly, into my mind came these examples.

* * *

Words of Affirmation:  These were spoken to Gideon.  “The Lord is with you, mighty warrior!” (Judges 6:12).  The angel Gabriel also used them when he visited Mary.  “Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favour with God” (Luke 1:30).

Quality Time:  In Genesis 18:1-22, angels spent quality time with Abraham before their visit to Sodom.  He even washed their feet and gave them a meal!

Gifts:  In 1 Kings 19:5-8, an angel came to Elijah with gifts of bread and water at a time when he was weak and tired.

Acts of Service:  Hebrews tells us that angels are serving spirits, and they served Jesus in the wilderness when He’d finished being tempted by the devil.  In one of my favourite books, “Appointment in Jerusalem”, an angel carries Lydia’s toddler to safety.

Physical Touch:  In the garden at Gethsemane, an angel strengthened Jesus.  In my other favourite book, “The Shaming of the Strong”, an angel calms five-year-old Amelia when she’s lost in a storm.  An angel appeared to two of my friends when they were struggling financially.

* * *

Can you think of Biblical or modern-day examples of angels speaking the five love-languages – words of affirmation, quality time, gifts, acts of service, or physical touch?  Have you ever thought which of these makes you, or someone close to you, feel most loved?

Pancakes and Lent

She doesn’t know she’s prompted a blog-post, but this is a comment written yesterday by a very nice, very cheerful person.  “I’m glad I’m not religious and can enjoy pancakes tomorrow as well if I choose to!”  It made me think that one thing I hate is the way history and tradition have got mixed up with Christianity.

I’m in the UK and I don’t think Shrove Tuesday happens in many other countries, so let me explain my understanding of it.  With Lent beginning on Ash Wednesday, the season of preparation for Easter and identifying with Jesus in His suffering, traditionally, Shrove Tuesday was when you made pancakes to use up all your left-overs so there was no more rich, luxurious food in the house.  Shriven (Shrove) is a word that has to do with confessing your sins and being stripped of them.

But are pancakes a sin?  Erm, no.  I enjoy pancakes, and I’m happy to eat them all year, not just on a Tuesday nearly 7 weeks before Easter.

I don’t know whether you’re a Christian who sincerely observes Lent.  Maybe you choose to give up something important to you as a way of honouring Jesus’ suffering.  If you do, that’s lovely.  Surely what’s more important though is to give up anything that would distance us from God (maybe anger, or complaining), and that can be an all-year-round thing – not just for 40 days in the run-up to Easter.

For the first time this year, I’m doing something meaningful for Lent.  Along-with a group of women on Facebook, I’m studying a book with the very clever title “Holey, Wholly, Holy”.  You can join us if you like.

I really hope that you too have a meaningful Lent … pancakes or no pancakes!

A Small Thing that Makes a Difference is …

Holley has asked us to write this week about a small thing that makes a difference.  There are many, but if I had to pick one, here’s my choice.  A small thing that makes a difference is … your support.  How you give that support will vary, depending on who you are.  I listened to a conversation just a couple of days ago.  One lady put away her mobile phone and another asked:  “Somebody chasing you?”

“Oh, my daughter.  They keep in-touch every day.”

“That’s nice,” the other lady said.  “My son doesn’t keep in-touch every day.  I’m lucky if I get one call a week.”  Those kind of conversations encourage me to stay close to my family, when the world around us promotes self-sufficiency.  I think keeping in contact with your parents is a great way to honour them.

I’ve also read a book recently about God speaking our love-language, which focuses on expressing love in five main ways.  If touch is your language, you might give hugs to show your support.  If you’re more inclined to serve, you might visit people or help them around the house.

Maybe you speak up for the welfare of animals, or maybe you sponsor a child, giving not only financial, but emotional and spiritual support too, through your letters and prayers.  Mother Teresa said:  “The poor need the work of our hands, the love of our hearts”, and your letters can combine both those.

How do you like to support people?