3/30/2014

What Is a Friend?


I am guilty of using the word “friend” like a tic, trivializing it. Maybe many of us are.

We refer to someone we have met a few times, or get in touch with also a few times, as “my friend,” but is she really?  Does she even consider you her friend?

Will she take a bullet for you, if necessary?
Will she drop everything to come to your rescue?   
Will she give you her most treasured possession?
Does she pray for you as often as she prays for herself?
Will/do you do all of the above for her? 

If the answer is “yes” to all, then, indeed, she is a friend. And so are you.   

Tall order. But that is how friendship is, as demonstrated to us in the Bible—between Jonathan (the son of then current king, Saul) and the would-be king, David.

When Saul wanted to kill David, Jonathan tried to avert it by speaking to his father. Then he did something more—he alerted David about his father’s plan so David could flee. "And it came to pass, when he had made an end of speaking unto Saul, that the soul of Jonathan was knit with the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as his own soul." (Samuel 18:1)

Jonathan also gave David five things:

His robe, which symbolized his stature as prince and heir apparent. He gave it up for David.

His garments, which symbolized all the honors, battles, and credits he had won. He passed them on to David.

His sword, which was one of only two swords among the Israelites. One was owned by king Saul himself. Jonathan gave David even his self-defense.

His bow, which was Jonathan's most prized possession. He bequeathed them to David.

His girdle, which held his sword, his bow, and his garments. He gave David everything he ever owned.

The Bible says that Jesus is the offspring of David. If Jonathan could give all to David, how much more should we give Him, our King, the greatest Friend we could ever have, He who is called the son of David? 

Can we give Jesus our all? Our robe, our garments, our sword, our bow, and our girdle?

Tall order? He gave His all to us on the cross. Grace happened there. It continues to happen every day of and for our lives. It is happening now.

Photo credit

3/26/2014

Lazy


“The first word you can find in this word-search puzzle describes you." This  message was posted by someone on his FB wall.      
 
The first word I found was “lazy.” 

I should have simply shrugged it off because it describes exactly what I try not to be. According to my friends, I am "forever spinning," "antsy," "restless,"  "always on a green light," "impatient," etc.

Maybe they are right. As soon as I wake up in the morning I need to do something or I feel like a dead duck, dishonoring the loving God Who created me. I don't even take naps, unless I am strapped to the bed sick or recuperating from an illness, which is is where I am at the moment.

I believe that "lazy" has no place in the dictionary. It shouldn't even be there. How can anyone be content sitting around (or sleeping) and doing nothing?  I think it is unconscionable to waste the abundance of grace that is given to us for our free use to lead productive lives. 

The Bible is strewn with verses on what happens to sluggards and sloth. My favorites are those that speak of the four small wonders on earth, Proverbs 30: 24-28 (MSG):  

“There are four small creatures, wisest of the wise they are—

“ants—frail as they are, get plenty of food in for the winter; marmots—vulnerable as they are, manage to arrange for rock-solid homes; locusts—leaderless insects, yet they strip the field like an army regiment; lizards—easy enough to catch, but they sneak past vigilant palace guards.”


All four tiny creatures—ants, marmots, locusts, and lizards—are anything but lazy.

Unfortunately, some bigger beings can’t be the same. Laziness, stay away!  

3/24/2014

Dear Heavenly Father


Your grace has been more than enough for my daily needs, with some overflow for those that I want. Now, you have even shown me what this means, “I have need of nothing.”

As our Jehovah Jireh, you provide your children everything. Including coming home after three days in the hospital with a debilitating ailment that came like a dark night and went with your healing.  In Psalm 34:10 (NKJV), you said, “The young lions lack and suffer hunger; But those who seek the LORD shall not lack any good thing.”

Thank you making me see another sunrise and more in the days to come. It wasn't my appointed time to see you face-to-face.

Thank you for loved ones, friends and faith family in church whom you have called to uphold me in prayers.  

Thank you for our Pastor who has ministered to me about your power through a text message.

Thank you for the efficient caregiver you gave me in the person of my husband, who saw to all my physical needs.

Thank you for my sons who have shown their concern while I was imprisoned in tubes on a hospital bed.

Thank you for Ate Vi who took care of our home for me while we were away.

Thank you for the time to study your word and for speaking to me through a book sent by a nephew in Singapore. It was my reading staple.
 
Thank you for my two doctors and all the medical practitioners in the hospital (both in the emergency room and in room 411) who were at my beck and call.

Thank you for the hospital accommodations (that try to rival a hotel’s) and for the staff who all gave me a nod of warm welcome.

Thank you for making me glimpse yet once again, with clearer lenses, what Paul said in Romans 8:32, “He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?”

As I recover my strength, thank you for enabling me, these few minutes, to write this prayer-blog.

Amen.

3/18/2014

All the Same?


People/acquaintances of a different faith would often say to me, “We all believe in God, so we are all the same.” 

I'd get stymied, unable to explain what I believed in, because time was short and I didn’t know how to distill the many differences. 

Up until I stumbled upon the five solae/solas. And now I can explain my faith with five fingers in five minutes.
I believe in:

1. Christ alone (solus Christus)

Only Jesus can be a mediator between God and man.  By giving His life as a ransom for my sins, I have a chance to live forever in heaven. All I need is receive Him in my heart as my only Savior. John 14:6 (NLT),  ". . . I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me."

2. Grace alone (sola gratia)

Only by the grace of Jesus could I be saved. By myself, my abilities, my skills, and my good works, I could never merit salvation even if I kept trying. Ephesians 2:8, “God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can't take credit for this; it is a gift from God.”  

3. Faith alone (sola fide

Salvation is a free gift to all who accept it by faith. Hebrews 11:1, "Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen."

4. Scripture alone (sola scriptura)

The Bible alone is my source of divine revelation, my source of authority and truth. 2 Timothy 3:16, “All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right.”

5. Glory to God alone (Soli Deo Gloria)

Because salvation is of God and has been accomplished by God, we must live our entire lives for His glory alone. Self-esteem and self-importance are not alternatives to the gospel of Christ. 1 Corinthians 10:31, “So whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.”

“So is your faith the same as mine?” I ask after my five minutes.

The answer I usually get is silence. I fill in those silences in my books. Because I think I can write better than I can talk.

3/14/2014

International Women's Day


A friend of mine, M, a Zonta club president, wrote me a note ending with a big "please?" and I caved in. It was an invitation to speak at a district (18 Zonta clubs) gathering to celebrate International Women's Day.

Wearing red lipstick and armed with my laptop, a flash drive, and a hard copy of my talk, "The Power of Lipstick," I entered the hallowed halls of the clubhouse that was the venue, and I was dazzled by a bevy of influential women, all leaders in their fields, sporting power clothes in the Zonta color, yellow.  

And my knees turned into jello.

What could I tell them that they haven't heard before? This is the perfumed set that travels the world, debates hot issues, breaks new ground, and advances women's status worldwide.

I did the only thing I know how to do: not talk, but tell stories. Stories of strong women of faith who so inspired me (and continue to influence my life) that I wrote about them in my books.  While preparing my speech, I realized that I have been writing about empowered women for some time and in so doing, I am also an advocate for the majority of women who are underprivileged, with only my computer in my little workroom. 

Despite my ammo that day, or because I am not a techie, my slide presentation freaked out on me. But I had one tool left—grace. When everything fails, it enables me to come through. And these photos tell the story of that successful yellow rose day.  

To say the event was beautiful would be diminishing its significance.  It was how it was meant to be: a perfect International Women's Day.  

To every woman—wearing lipstick or not—reading this post, celebrate! Like any Zonta woman, you can make a difference right where you are, with what you're doing, if you do it with excellence and gratitude.   


3/10/2014

Signs of the Times


When our pastor posted this on his FB wall I was appalled:

Then I read this article on BBC News, and I was even more appalled.   

A survey done for the Bible Society in the UK, based on a poll of 800 children aged eight to 15 and about 1,100 parents, found almost three in 10 young people were unaware that the story of Jesus’ birth came from the Bible.

3/06/2014

Ridiculous Pink


Since when did pink become ridiculous?

Since last week, when I bought this pair of walking shoes.

No offense to pink, it is a beautiful color, it is the color of many lovely flowers, butterflies, and other wonders of creation, but when someone my age wears it, well . . .  you may finish that sentence.

3/02/2014

Three Phone Calls from Heaven


If I were in Coldwater, Michigan, I’d have received three calls from heaven—from my dad, mom, and son Adrian, in that order. They would have said what people living in Jesus’ home would say, “We are happy.”

In Mitch Albom’s latest novel, “The First Phone Call from Heaven,” which happens in a fictitious place called Coldwater, telephones ring—and each of those calls come from heaven with this joyous message, “Everything is good here.”