Tag Archives: friendship

Like Yesterday’s Ragdoll

All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags; we all shrivel up like a leaf, and like the wind our sins sweep us away.  Isaiah 64:6

Not so many years ago, my daughter had for herself a sweet little orange-striped kitty.  Had she been a boy, it would have been a real-life version of Calvin & Hobbes.  Classic adventures and discoveries every inch of her existence and countless moments of conversation and questions with answers.  It was beyond all else the most unique bond in our home.  Without “Two-Sides” (that was kitty’s name), going to sleep was impossible as was going to grandma’s or heading out on vacation.  Two-Sides went with us everywhere.

But as the days checked off the calendar and the whiskers on Two-Sides disappeared, the love my daughter had for her was still ever strong.  It was not a love of youthfulness or beauty, for Two-Sides had grown quite ragged.  Instead, the love my daughter loved Two-Sides with was a love that made Two-Sides beautiful.

It is not very different with me (and you)!  To God we are all rag dolls.  But we were not created ragged, for when God finished what He had fashioned in His own image He said with His own breath, “It is good!”  He loves me (and you) and that does not change over time!

But over time, we have all become like rag dolls, so crooked from sin and guilt that it would only feel similarly familiar to be discarded, forgotten, left to my own demise.  But no!  God changed everything because of His love for me!  Thank God my identity is not found in my raggedness, but instead in Christ who took my raggedness to the cross!

John Ortberg wrote in his book Love Beyond Reason:

“There is such a love, a love that creates value in what is loved.  There is a love that turns rag dolls into priceless treasures.  There is a love that fastens itself onto ragged little creatures, for reasons that no one could ever quite figure out, and makes them precious and valued beyond calculation.  This is a love beyond reason.  This is the love of God.  This is the love with which God loves you and me.”

by: Mark Cruver

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Filed under Blessings, Faith, Life, Love, Truth

Passive Attentive

Dear Lord Jesus, I can think of many things in my life, both past and present, that by definition fall into the category:  destructive.  Whether it be patterns of negative behavior or attitudes from the flesh, I know I have what it takes to single-handedly make a mess of everything.  This is no surprise to you.  I’m so thankful you are a God of restoration!

However, the sealing off of negative thoughts and inconclusive moments in my world have been conduits of passive aggressive behavior in my relationships.  You have spoken to me this morning as clear as the sun is shining and answered my prayer.

Awareness of your presence and the familiar tone of your voice are but refreshments to my weary mind and aching heart.  I am guilty of being passive attentive to your Spirit within me and when I neglect to listen, my doer listens to other things.  I hurt, others hurt, I no longer trust, others cannot trust — it’s not your plan.

I know I need to listen to you in all things, becoming actively attentive to your Spirit within.  Remind me of the power I have in you!  In your precious and Holy name, Jesus Christ, Amen!

We love because he first loved us.  If anyone says, I love God,” yet hates his brother, he is a liar.  For anyone who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen.  I John 4:19-20

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Letter From Christ

Not that we are competent in ourselves to claim any thing for ourselves, but our competence comes from God.   II Corinthians 3:5

Throughout the last ten months the only handwritten letters I’ve received in the mail have been penned from the hand of my own mother.  Her encouragement, her every day happenings in her garden and around the house, her concerned tone and undeniable firmness, all of which is sealed by her hand.  What a treasure to have!  There’s truly nothing greater than getting a hand-written letter from someone.  It spells love, it communicates the rawness of care and the loyalty of belonging.  It’s value is unmeasurable!

We see this level of value and importance in the working world as well.  Whether it’s in finding a job or applying for school, letters play a vital role.  They endorse!  With a letter people become validated, affirmed and creditable.  And having it written, perhaps even formally prepared, it’s sealed by the author and too, is valuable.

But what if?  What if Christ wrote a letter for me?  What if He sat down and penned a letter about me — what He thought, what He sees in me, what His day was like, what dangers may lie ahead for me, what concerns He has for me, what He really thinks about me?  Oh, Lord Jesus, to have and to hold such a letter would send me to my knees, shaking like a leaf.  It would bring such confidence and assurance knowing those things.  I would read it over and over again.

Word has it He actually has such a letter!  He has made this letter — and it’s ME!  I am a letter from Christ Himself!  And with this letter comes full assurance of who I am, full confidence in who I am, full wisdom in knowing who I am, able to rest in the truth that the Spirit of the One who lives in me gives me all strength and power to face the raging storms and pelting hail that can so easily destroy.   That in my weakness He is the strength that sustains me when I wait in the ravines of life.

Thank you Lord Jesus for writing my life!  Thank you for your daily Word that tells me what you think of me, what your days are like, what concerns you have and how much you love me!  The fact that you have taken the time to sit down, give immense thought in scripting my story and in crimson red, pen a letter — me — is beyond the greatest of any love man can describe!

Are we beginning to commend ourselves again?  Or do we need, like some people, letters of recommendation to you or from you?  You yourselves are our letter, written on everybody. You show that you are a letter from Christ, the result of our ministry, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts.  II Corinthians 3:1-3

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In The Face Of Impossibility

“Jesus replied, ‘What is impossible with men is possible with God.'”  Luke 18:27

Certainly reading the scripture invokes the thoughts of the impossible becoming possible.  Story after story, from Noah to Jonah, from Adam to Moses, from Esther to Sarah, from David to the blind man.  But no story captivates the trust, the belief in the impossible more than Mary, the mother of Jesus.  It is a riveting moment of wonder, curiosity and faith.  Mary had no clue how the impossible would become possible. Why might that be?  Because all things impossible by man is beyond possible by God.  Mary simply had to trust that despite what appeared unlikely, through He who promised would become a reality.

“‘How will this be,’ Mary asked the angel, ‘since I am a virgin?’  The angel answered, ‘The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most high will overshadow you.  So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God.  Even Elizabeth you relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be unable to conceive is in her sixth month.  For no word from God will ever fail.’ ‘I am the Lord’s servant,’ Mary answered. ‘May your word to me be fulfilled.’  Then the angel left her.”  Luke 1:34-38

I find myself asking as did Mary . . . “How will this be?”  I doubt and question the nature of things, events and circumstances in my own life where and when it appears impossible.  But I know you are seated on the throne today and I know that you have made promises.  Promises to keep me and sustain me, to give me strength when I am no longer able to keep my step, to give me wisdom when I don’t know the answers, to provide when all is gone, to love when love is unrecognized, to embrace me when a heart is long unheld.

Lord Jesus, remind me of these promises.  It is your will I seek and your sustaining grace that I consume.  Remind me often that despite my flaws, I am free, so very free and whole!

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Hide And Seek

By Ken Boa

Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the Lord God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the Lord God among the trees of the garden. But the Lord God called to the man, “Where are you?” – Genesis 3:8-9 NIV

Everyone has experienced the cycle of sin and shame. It’s a dreadful place to be, a box canyon with three sides going straight up. We enter by way of sin, and wouldn’t dare to look for a way out since we don’t think we deserve it (and we don’t). And if we hear the sound of someone passing by, we can’t even call out for help. To do so would presume that the person wants to help us (adding presumption to our sins). We know no one could want to help one such as us (which is not true, but it is what we think). And so we hide in our canyon of shame.

There is only one way out of our shame, but we often can’t see it. The way out is to simply say what we have done—confess it to God—so that we may receive his forgiveness which is always available. And yet we are usually too ashamed to lift up our eyes, much less our voice, to him. So what does he do to get us to speak? He seeks us out. In our moment of need, when we are hiding from him, he comes looking for us—and he speaks first. Without our even knowing it, he changes our confession to a conversation.

God did this first with Adam and Eve. In the perfect Garden of Eden, the first couple sinned. Hearing God approaching in the garden, they ran and hide themselves among the trees. Did God see them? Yes. Did he know what they had done? Of course. Was he gently willing to allow them to tell him in their own words rather than accusing them directly and deepening their shame? That’s exactly what he did. By rhetorically calling out, “Where are you?” God drew Adam out from his hiding place. Seeing the patience of God, Adam released himself from shame by confessing his sin to God.

Is your identity today “Ashamed”? It need not be. Know that God is walking in your garden seeking a conversation that leads to confession, and freedom. If you lift your eyes, you will see him. If you lift your voice, he will hear you. He seeks you for only one reason: To find you and set you free.

God’s Promise to You: “When you hide, I see you and will seek you out.”

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Responding in Love

“. . . but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or clanging cymbal.”  I Corinthians 13:1

Responding in love has got to be one of the most difficult things to do consistently in relationships.  It’s a challenge, at best, to keep the heart and mouth in tune with what the mind knows about responding in love.  Paul says that our voices sound like the reverberating gong if our words are not flowing from a heart and life of love.  That’s irritating!

It goes back to John 15:5 really.  Where Jesus states that He is the vine and we are the branches.  Without the vine the branches have no life.  The branches are part of the vine — the vine flows through them!  Taking that analogy a step further one can visualize the relationship between Christ who lives in and through us and what we look like apart from Him.  So, if He is flowing through us, a fruit of that relationship would be the love we respond in.  Wow!  A true fruit of the Spirit!

But what gets in the way of that love from flowing from within when faced with oppositional moments in my life?  It’s my pride!  Pride acts as a clamp, cutting off the flow of love in and through any relationship.

I’m learning that pride is bigger than I have ever given it credit.  Larger than life itself, pride has become the thing in me I’m facing more and more each day.  It’s the difference between my agenda and God’s agenda.  It’s the difference between what I want and what others want.  It’s the difference between what I think I should do and what God wants me to do.  It’s the difference between the why I do things and the how I do things.

Pride = Self-Motive(Agenda+Arrogance)

whereas

Love = God-Motive(Sacrifice+Submission)

. . . . things that make you go, hmmmmm!

God, I want to respond in Your love — every time!!!  I want to start every conversation with Your intent, Your motive in mind — to the core of my heart!  I want to sacrifice whatever it is I want for what You want.  I want to submit to Your agenda, Your plan for the greater good in others — not myself!  Relationships are not about me — ever!  My pride gets in the way of that so often.  Continue to refine my heart, my mind and those things I choose to do each day — remind me of Your grace, Your mercy and Your LOVE!

“It always protects, always trusts, always hope, always perseveres!”  I Corinthians 13:7

by:  Mark Cruver

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Best Friends For Life And Eternity

“My command is this:  Love each other as I have loved you.  Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.  You are my friends if you do what I command.”  John 15:12-14

Last night I was reminded of what friendship is all about when I realized it was the greatest thing that ever came out of Zephyrhills Jr. High School in 1982.  In my opinion, never before this time nor since then, do I believe anything as great as this has ever come from this place.  An introduction between two 12 year old boys on the first day of science class.  A friendship, nurtured through time and tested with life’s most challenging events — death of family, marriage, abandonment, accomplishments and failures, betrayal and family crisis to only name a few.

I’ve thought about what life might be like without friends.  It’s pretty quiet to say the least.  No one to share life with or rejoice in victory.  No one that cheers and no one that listens.  A true place of isolation.  It reminds me of how I thought Wall-E must have felt (even though he was a robot) — but even he had a pet roach!

So I cherish my friend!  I am unable to express in words what his friendship really means to me.  But it pales in comparison to the worth of friendship my Father has of me!  As much as I value the one thing that has stood the test of time on earth, it too will pass.  My joy in this earthly friendship is knowing our lives will extend into eternity — into the presence of Christ — an eternal existence far more indescribable and greater than anything on earth.

So long as I’m still on this earth, everyday I am able to live in that heaven.  I experience the essence of what Christ intended in our relationships through the gift of this friendship He orchestrated.  His blessings, through friendship, is a reflection of His character living out in me and through Him, I am able to live in peace and joy of knowing the nature and future of our friendship.

It is merely a taste of the friendship the Father, through His Son, has for me!  Christ commanded us to Love one another as (He) has loved (us).  This is how we are to relate with one another and an example of Christ THROUGH you!  Our love — true love — is only possible THROUGH Him!  And when we do!  When we trust in His love towards our friends, He then says, “you are my friend!”

What?  Christ is my friend?  I have always understood Christ as my Teacher, Christ as His Son, Christ as my Sacrifice, Christ as my Life, Christ as my Comfort, Christ as my Rock, Christ as my Deliverer …. but friend?

How blessed I am to have a friend on earth that reminds me of what Christ means when He says He too is my friend!

by:  Mark Cruver

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