Tag Archives: friend

Friendly Father

We never pray enough. I write and preach so often about prayer because the Spirit continues to show me that we never pray enough. I know I’m guilty of not praying enough. I consider Brother Lawrence and how he would talk to God during the day. It was so natural. Why do I, why do we, pray so unnaturally? Why do we get so caught up with trying to pray properly, instead of simply investing in our relationship with Jesus? Why do we find prayer awkward? Why do we push off prayer? It doesn’t make any sense.

The Bible tells us that God is our Father. He is the one and only Father. We can cry out to Him, “Abba Father,” just like Jesus. This is like crying out “Daddy.” But instead we put up walls. We don’t approach Him like a Father. Do we not see Him as a Father? Do we have “daddy issues” that keep us from understanding the role of a father?

The Bible also tells us that God is our friend. Our friend. Now that is hard to consider. A friend is someone you can talk to about anything. A friend is someone you can speak freely with and just have fun. You don’t hold back with your friends.

If you can grasp that God is your Father and God is your friend—that He is your friendly Father—then you are a ready for what is necessary for your relationship with God. To do life with God, you need to speak with your friendly Father. You need to open up to Him, to approach continually through the day, to include Him in your life. Speak to Him when you rise. Speak to Him as you brush your teeth. Speak to Him as you have your meal. Speak to Him as you drive your car. Speak to Him while at work. Speak freely. No need for “art” and “thou.” You can honor Him as holy as you speak freely. He wants your heart, not a fake and stuffy presentation. He wants a relationship with YOU. The real you. Pray today to your friendly Father.

“I no longer call you slaves, because a master doesn’t confide in his slaves. Now you are my friends, since I have told you everything the Father told me.” – John 15:15 [NLT]

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Come Again

In Proverbs 3, we read that we are not to send our neighbor away when they are in need and we have the means to fulfill the need. The word neighbor actually is “rea,” which means friend or companion. When we have with us the solution, we should not tell the person to leave and return the following day. It seems like a very easy thing to do; however, it is not always seamless.

Why do we postpone helping when we can help? Many times it is because of greed, laziness, or disregard. We don’t like to admit it, but these reasons often are at the root of the denial. We don’t want to let go of something we worked hard to earn. We really do not feel like using the extra effort to lend a hand. At times we feel disregard for the person, and helping out is the last thing on the mind.

We always have to use good discernment when helping, so that our assistance is not enabling a person. However, we usually find ourselves in a situation when we can be the hands and feet of Christ, and it is a true need we can handle. We are blessed to be a blessing. Keep praying. Keep your hands and heart open. Don’t tell your friend to go away for a day when it is quite possible that you crossed paths this very moment to bless them and point them to Christ.

“Do not say to your neighbor, ‘Go, and come again, tomorrow I will give it’—when you have it with you.” – Proverbs 3:28 [ESV]

The Lost Bottle

When I was a young girl I had a favorite Barbie doll. It was a Barbie and the Rockers doll. I was so upset when we moved and it was lost. I had tried hard to find it but never could relocate my favorite doll. This morning as I walked Max we passed a house for sale with a toy baby bottle in the grass. We actually pass by that home each morning and saw the owners moving out so my mind wandered and I thought what if a poor child lost the baby bottle for her doll

It’s frustrating when we lose things. Even as we get older and dolls and toys are not are favorite things, we get irritated when things are misplaced or even lost. But there are some things we cannot lose—there is One who we cannot lose. When you receive the Holy Spirit, when you accept Jesus Christ into your life and are baptized and receive God in you, He is always with you. Always.

There’s no, God “come down on us.” He’s in us. You do not have to ask for His presence. You have His presence. You may need to ask for Him to help you to feel His presence, to listen, to know He’s there. It is also not a situation where we can ask God to give us more of Him. He has already given us ALL of Him. The problem is we are often so full of ourselves that we are not focused on Him. Dying to self involves more of Him and less of you. It doesn’t mean you lose yourself—you gain your true self, who you were meant to be in life. Today remember that you cannot lose Him. You can only lose the opportunity to know and have a relationship with Him if you are too full of yourself.

“But in fact, it is best for you that I go away, because if I don’t, the Advocate won’t come. If I do go away, then I will send him to you.” – John 16:7 [NLT]

When God Steps In

I have seen a lot of images lately that say, “When God steps in, miracles happen.” The images and phrase are actually borrowed from bestselling author Neale Donald Walsch, who wrote a book with that title. I agree that miracles happen. Miracles happen every single day. Much of the time they go unnoticed because people are unaware of the presence of God. As we become more aware of His presence in the world and in our own lives, when we become more certain that our days are written beforehand and He is in control, when we believe in Him and become aware that He has a great plan for our lives and He is always with us, we tend to notice the miracles more often. On numerous occasions I wondered what it would be like to sit on the outside and look at all of the miracles as they occurred like in a flashback video sequence and see all of the things I missed. I am sure I have missed 99% of what God has poured out for me.

Our God is always with us. He promised us that He would not leave us—He would not forsake us. Jesus promised us the Comforter —the Holy Spirit—so that we were able to have God with us always. No matter where we are and no matter what we are doing, we are with God. Some people might understand the saying “God steps in” to mean that there are moments when He steps out. He never steps out on us.

Miracles happen every day. Each one of us is a miracle. I don’t challenge you to sit back and imagine your own flashback video sequence depicting the miracles of God in your own life, but I do encourage you to be more aware of how God is moving in your life. To become more aware, you need to be intentional with your relationship with God. Prayer. Daily Bible Reading. Journaling. Worship. Being part of a church community. These things will help you to be more aware of God’s presence in your life and they will help you to grow in Christ. When you become more aware of God moving in your life, suddenly life as you know it changes. You finally realize that you, yes you, are not alone. God is with you every step of the way, and He is fixing to do some mighty work in your life in you and through you. Embrace Him. He’s already embraced you.

“If you love me, show it by doing what I’ve told you. I will talk to the Father, and he’ll provide you another Friend so that you will always have someone with you. This Friend is the Spirit of Truth. The godless world can’t take him in because it doesn’t have eyes to see him, doesn’t know what to look for. But you know him already because he has been staying with you, and will even be in you!”  – John 14:15-17 [MSG]

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A Brother is Born

Everyone needs a friend. A few good friends can make a huge difference in your life. But are your friends loyal? That’s always something we only find out when we are knee deep in trouble. There are those friends who say they are friends when the going is good. When everything is going well, they are your friends. But you see your true friends when the times get tough.

When you have to move and it’s raining, your true friends are out there helping you as their sneakers are getting soggy. When you lost your job and won’t get your next check for a few weeks, the true friend is there with some food to help you along, not pretending you don’t exist till you are back to work. The true friend gives you a ride from the inspection place when you drop off your car, rather than let you walk in the dark at the wee hours of the morning, because they are concerned for your safety.

You might have a lot of friends. But when times are tough, the number may be fewer than you thought. I have found that to be very true in my own life. People are very quick to turn their backs and pretend nothing is happening. But a “brother is born to help in the time of need.” There are those God has placed in your life who are true friends—like family. Thank God for those true friends and ask Him to help you be one of those true friends, “a friend (who) is always loyal.”

“A friend is always loyal, and a brother is born to help in time of need.” – Proverbs 17:17 [NLT]

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Faith Over Flaws

weallhaveflaws its our faith that mattersEvery one of us makes mistakes; every one of us is flawed. I know I can fill pages and pages of paper listing mistakes I’ve made if I took the time. Nonetheless, it is important to remember that God can use us no matter how flawed we are or how long the mistake list. God made us out of dirt—there’s no doubt He can work with whatever mess we’ve made to be used for His glory.

Look at Abraham. He was called a friend because of his great faith. He was promised blessing, land, and to be a great nation because of his great faith. But he was flawed. He lied about his wife being his sister twice. He did not wait for God’s plan for Isaac to unfold either. Yet, God used him and he became a father of many nations.

Stop looking at what you did wrong, the missteps you took, the mistakes you have made. Walk forward in faith and allow God to turn your mess into something beautiful for His glory. We all have flaws. It’s our faith that matters.

“And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.” – Hebrews 11:6 [NIV]

How Many People Does It Take to Change a Light Bulb?

How many people does it take to change a light bulb? Many people have heard this question asked as part of a joke. This morning I entered the kitchen and realized that it was a bit darker than usual. I looked to where the light usually comes from and noticed that there was a bulb in some cylindrical thing and it was out. I had no clue how to change this bulb or even where I could purchase a replacement bulb. Two months ago, I did not even know that under-the-cabinet lights existed.

It took me quite some time to remove the old bulb. Then I went over to my laptop and started to search for the numbers I found on the bulb. I got a lot of information, but I had to sift through things to make sure it was the correct information. Then it was off to the store and I was so confused when I found all of the different types of bulbs in the lighting supply aisle. There were so many bulbs that looked like the exact same bulb. I had to take the old bulb out and make comparisons. I had to read paperwork. I had to take my time to make the right choice. When I got to the cash register, I told the cashier that I was so nervous to install the bulbs. She could tell that I was in need of a confidence boost and she let me know that I would get the job done, and she even gave me some pointers. She was right!

We are often faced with situations that are new, things that are more grueling and more important than a simple light bulb. We are called to do things that are challenging. We are given work that seems nearly impossible. Some situations overwhelm us if we let them.

What do you do when you have your own light bulb to change? Your light bulb could be anything. You do the same thing you do with anything that comes your way in life.

Things to remember:

* Do not hide from the situation.
Hiding from the situation will not make it go away. Remember that you are a child of God (Galatians 3:26). God can do more than you ever could imagine (Ephesians 3:20). If God is for you, what can be against you? (Romans 8:31). Many times, you will find that the situation is a great test of faith which can result in spiritual growth that will help you to one day be complete (James 1:2-4).

* Take it one step at a time. There is usually no need to rush a situation. When Jesus was ministering on earth, notice that He wasn’t rushing around healing and feeding. He took steps. He took time. He left us an example of great patience and self-control. If we practice this behaviors, we are more likely to be successful. Remember that “the steps of a man are established by the LORD, and He delights in his way” (Psalm 37:23 NASB).

* Prepare yourself. Do the research. Read. Learn. Grow. Even when I was changing the light bulb, God’s Word was in my head and heart. Spending time in His Word helps to provide us with what we need when we are facing tough situations. Seek Him for guidance. His Word provides instruction and encouragement (Romans 15:4).

* Do not be afraid to ask for help. Don’t let your pride get in the way. God wants us to be part of a community. We each have our own part to play. We each have different talents, different specialties. We are all given the command to love one another. Sometimes we do the giving, sometimes we do the receiving. We should always seek help from Him. But remember, there are times that we need to ask others for some assistance. People do not always know what is going on in your life and they cannot read your mind. Luke 11 gives us instruction on how to pray as it also tells us of a friend who helps another. The friend is knocking on the door and announcing the need. Sometimes we are the helping friend, sometimes we are the knocking friend.

* Surround yourself with positive people. Positive people will be encouraging. Positive people share, love, and can see the good in things. Proverbs 11:9 states, “With his mouth the godless man destroys his neighbor.” Words are powerful and if you are surrounded by negative people, in time it will start to become your way of life. Proverbs 17:22 says that “a joyful heart is good medicine” (NASB). When you are facing tough situations, it is wonderful to have some “good medicine” from some positive people.

Finally, show yourself some grace. God thinks you are worth it!

Reclining with Christ

    I have told so many people that I have an inability to relax. I always try to keep myself busy, partly because I like to be productive, and partly because I really never learned how to relax. Even so, I see relaxation as a sleeping child or a cute, little puppy curled up in a ball. In my eyes, relaxation is peace.

    In John 12, Mary anoints Jesus. But if we look only at the anointing, we can miss something that barely sticks out in the text. Verse 2 states, “So they made Him a supper there, and Martha was serving; but Lazarus was one of those reclining at the table with Him” (NASB). Reclining is something one does when relaxing. Some of us sit in a reclining chair and put our feet up. I imagine sitting by the ocean reclining or reclining in a hammock. How peaceful?

    At this point in Lazarus’ life, why was he reclining? Yes he was dead not so long ago, and yet brought back to life. But now he had people seeking his life. The chief priests were planning how to have him killed (verse 10). Would you be reclining? I would probably be trying to figure out how to make a fast getaway via whatever mode of transportation was fastest.

    Perhaps Lazarus was reclining because he was at peace. He saw first hand the power of God. He was as low as death, and then as high as resurrected. He also knew he had a friend in Jesus. As believers of Christ, we have a friend in Jesus. Although our situation and pressures may be different, we have the ability to recline at the table with Christ. Don’t forget to recline with Christ.

“And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” – Philippians 4:7 [NASB]

Music & A Friend

When I was a little girl, I can remember sneaking over to my parent’s secret stash of records (yes records). I would pull the record out of the cover, and delicately place it on the spindle. As I got older, I was given a radio and tape player combo. It was one of my prized possessions, and every moment I had, I would sit and listen to the radio and record clips to playback later. My favorite artist at that time was Amy Grant. “Father’s Eyes” was my all-time favorite.

I never lost this passion for music. Though I am not blessed with a voice that moves people to tears (unless tears of pain), I simply cannot get enough of music. It is the same way with God’s Word. I can read the Bible over and over again, and it’s never enough. I have this undying thirst to quench.

I always tell people that faith and music was what I had going for me as a child. Oddly enough, I can look back on the past year and see that most of this year was focused on God, His Word, and music. I have dabbled in music and video editing, participated in music promotions, and even written some music. But as I messed around in the world of music, my heart was still with my Best Friend.

The great thing is that although my singing is not appealing to many, God loves to hear me sing; He loves to hear us all sing. This might be a bit surprising to some people who feel that we must walk before God in a conservative manner, pretending to be something we are not. I’m sorry, but who wears a tie that is that straight? Who stands so perfectly? No one.

God doesn’t want a show; He wants our heart. You can give Him that wearing flip-flops and a stained shirt. Our best isn’t the most expensive outfit we have in our closet, nor is it what society has labeled at the top of the list. Our best is all of us, our whole being. And before you ask, no, you cannot haggle to get a different deal with a more fair percentage. This percentage is perfectly fair.

Yesterday was a tough day for me. I started to get the sense of being overwhelmed. This feeling didn’t last very long. I could feel it coming, and I acted quickly. When storms come your way, when things seem to pile up, or when you just need a moment to breathe, where do you go?  What do you do? Do you take a walk? I do at times. Do you call a friend? I do at times. Do you take a nap? There are times I only wish I could. Yesterday, I wanted to scream. I wanted to stomp on the floor like a little child who did not get her way; however, I didn’t.

When we don’t get what we want, when things are not what we planned, we can’t act like a 2-year-old and think it will get better. We need to understand that God has better things planned that our human minds cannot even fathom. We also need to keep ourselves in check. Even when things seem so bad, I just turn my head to the left or the right, and I see someone who has it worse. We all have something we are going through– it is how we react to the situation(s) that show our true colors. Whether we like to admit it or not, we are all very blessed.

So when I felt myself getting overwhelmed, I put on my own private jam session. I don’t have the records to sneak, nor do I have my old radio and tape player combo. Today we have iTunes. Click, click, and there it is with no skipping and no stopping. And as the music began, I looked upward and sang. I sang loud. Yes, God doesn’t need us to sing loud, but I wanted to let Him know that I wanted nothing more than to sing to Him at that very moment. I wanted to thank Him for everything. I have so much to be thankful for, so much that I could sing praises 24 hours a day and it wouldn’t be enough.

Psalm 150, the Psalm of Praise, comes to mind. Verse 6 says, “Let everything that has breath praise the Lord” [NASB].

 

Rambling about friends & love… go figure.

So a friend got me writing this blog. If she was just a friend I wouldn’t have even listened. I’m sure the “just a friend” is a bit confusing. You see, I’ve found that people tend to typecast their friends. We have our general friends. The general friends are those who we work with, go to school with, etc. We have our dozen or so close friends. These friends we let in a bit more into the secret realm of our lives. These friends know a good deal about you, and could probably answer a handful of topical question about you. Then there are the few inner circle friends who are more like family These friends have gotten through all the walls you’ve put up, ran around the block a few times, and can say what you are thinking before you even say it. Now in recent years, we have also developed a friendship which I call a social networking friend. I know, weird, right?

In observing the situation, I have to bring up something strange. All my life, I have had three. Three is a good number. Three inner disciples: Peter, James, John. Three strikes before you’re out. Three family members (that’s what I have and so I’m biased and had to insert that here). And I always would stare up at the sky, look at the stars, and find my favorite constellation. Now don’t worry, I’m not going to get all planetarium happy with you. I’m not all smarty-pants with constellations. I just know where Orion the Hunter is because he has that awesome belt, with three stars. I would always seek him out, and think of my three stars in my life. Anyhow, this got me wondering about friendship, about closeness, with regard to Jesus.

Jesus had the Twelve. They were all close. Yes the infamous Judas wasn’t such a great friend; however, the disciples are a small sized group that spent a lot of time with Jesus. To me, this is similar to our friendships with our close friends. These are the friends we see possibly for coffee or dinner at least once a month. These may be a select few from high school or college, and from work, or possibly some neighbors. Perhaps there are even a few who came into the pack via other friends from the group. Anyway you look at it, you and them have a bond. Going further is the three. Jesus had His inner circle, which were the disciples he spent the most time with training and preparing to spread the Message and the found the church. We usually have 1-3 closer friends. Some people call them best friends, and those who are into abbreviating may even say B.F.F.L. (best friends for life). Maybe these friends grew up with you, and have seen you through learning how to ride a bike to marriage. These friends know most everything about you. Sometimes they know more about you that you can remember about yourself. These are the friends that help you hold it together during the rough times, know exactly how to make you laugh at any occasion, and are always there no matter what.

Then we get to these general friends and the social networking friends, which seriously has changed the layout of friendship. The general friends you talk to quite frequently, sometimes simply to appear polite, and sometimes because you do genuinely like the person. At times, the reason these general friends aren’t more close friends is because life is busy and you haven’t the time. Perhaps you have trust issues and don’t yet want to let them get any closer at the moment. These are the people you see nearly every day at work, school, or around the neighborhood. You talk to them, you know about their lives to a degree, and if they won the lottery, you would immediately say you were their best friend (okay, maybe not everyone would, but you know some would).  Things have changed though with this social networking friends concept. We have let our general friends invade the secret domain. We have allowed people we barely know to gain access to our personal information. Sometimes it’s a birthday and some family photos, but at times we air our dirty laundry.

I have seen friends on my Facebook page talk about marital problems, their child’s mental health disorders, late night parties that got way out of hand, and so much more. I have seen people in a light I never wanted to see. For example, you would think a certain friend was kind and caring, but then they would use their Facebook status as a means to attack people personally.

This whole social networking friendship got me thinking about how we are to love everyone. We are told to love God and to love one another. Facebook could be great for that sharing of love. I’m not making some crazy reference to the like button which everyone feels the need to click to be recognized. I was actually thinking our next presidential election, we should just have a Facebook page set up, and then have a post for each candidate. You could click “like” on the candidate you chose as you are eating a Pop Tart, drinking some coffee, and watching the news while still wearing your pajamas. No, I don’t think that’s the way to run things, I’m just making a point that people can get a bit like happy on Facebook. I think sometimes people don’t even know what they are even liking. What I am trying to point out is that with Facebook we can reach a lot of people. Rather than having our three or our twelve, rather than touching just our general friends we see here and there, we have a large number of friends we can communicate, and at such a quick rate of time.

Some of my Facebook friends post prayer requests. It’s interesting to see how great a response is for those requests. It’s a great thing, supporting other Christians during their burdens. We are supposed to be there for each other, and help bear each others burdens. It’s written that two is better than one. Sadly, I find most people I know use Facebook more for being nosey, for playing addictive games, for having “me moments,” and for sharing photos and events with family. I would love to see more support. I would love to see more sharing of love. There will be times when I know a friend is a little down, or perhaps the person writes something that gives that impression. When I see this, I respond. You cannot imagine how many people are so thankful for those few seconds you gave them, and more importantly the love you showed.

Life is busy. Sometimes I think we need to slow down a little and look around us. If we are at a family function or out with friends, why do we all have our cell phones in hand, clicking away at the keys instead of talking to each other? And when we have to be in front of a computer, and we travel over to Facebook, why can we spend hours harvesting crops for a farm that’s not even real, and yet we cannot send a quick message to a friend we know is going through a rough time. Maybe you think you don’t have the words, but honestly, there are no perfect words. Even so, God gives us the right words. Just ask. Be the vessel today. Share a moment of your time, and you could make someone’s day. You never know how far the smallest, simplest gesture can reach. It all starts with love. Remember God is love. Show some love.