Let me bring others to their new heart.

Help me to be a jolt for the heart or a pronouncer of the dead or to share my own hospital journey . . Whatever will bring people to long for a new heart from You, Most High Exalted GOD.

"Reaching" by Joel Montes

“Wake up, sleeper,

rise from the dead,

and Christ will shine on you.” (Ephesians 5:14b)

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Photograph “Reaching” by Joel Montes, profile on http://www.flickr.com/photos/joelmontes/with/4229957797/

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Published in: on November 30, 2013 at 8:55 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Having the Right Perspective

Having the Right Perspective.

The “Ordinary Miraculous”

“The greatest miracles of your life are taking place and you don’t even know it . . Don’t be addicted to adrenaline.”

Pastor John, on the ordinary miraculous

A soul awakened to Christ, a heart on fire, a tongue alight, a mortally wounded sin nature: to seek mercy rather than vengeance, relinquish a vice, forgive a grudge, choose a painful good rather than a pleasurable bad, throw away an old habit, be a servant, offer a sacrifice freely given . . these are the miracles Christ purchased for us most of all.  We need to see these with new eyes . . new eyes He can give us.

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! (2 Corinthians 5:17, NIV)

Published in: on January 10, 2013 at 7:14 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Kicking the helmet

The quest has fallen into almost total disaster.

The fellowship of 9, allied to bring the essence of evil (the one ring) to the heart of Mordor to destroy it, had shattered.

The leader, Gandalf, had fallen in an underground mine just when it had looked as though he’d won his fight with the balrog demon.  The once honorable Boromir had become overcome by evil, and, in desiring to steal the ring for himself, caused the ringbearer to flee.  And Boromir had died trying to make right what he’d done wrong–bringing the fellowship down to 7.

The rest of the fellowship had crumbled.  Aragorn, the new leader, was an unlikely choice.  He was heir to the throne of Gondor, but wanted nothing to do with any kingdom.  He was a ranger, a fugitive from Sauron’s eye, and he wanted to stay that way.

And what of the others?  Legolas and Gimli, feuding elf and dwarf, had a history of racial distrust between them.  Two of the hobbits, Merry and Pippin, had been captured by the enemy and kidnapped to who-knows-what end.  And the other two, Frodo the ringbearer and his gardener–both hobbits and as such the smallest of the peoples of Middle Earth–had escaped into Mordor with the one ring that could destroy the entire world.

So the quest has fallen into almost total disaster.  The fellowship is split up and the plan is unraveling.  Aragorn has no idea how to bring the fellowship back together, or if there is any hope that naive and timid Frodo–oh, yes, and his gardener, as if that could matter-can possibly outwit Sauron, sneak past droves of orcs, elude the nazgul, and survive in the wastelands of Mordor to complete the quest.

Aragorn–with dwarf and elf with him–struggles to catch up with the uruk-hai who have captured Merry and Pippin.  Aragorn refuses to stop to eat or even sleep.

Just when they’ve narrowed the gap and it looks as if they might catch up, they learn that the entire band of uruk-hai was killed the night before by a band of men.

They rush to the sight of the battle and find it abysmal: carcasses piled high for burning, and the head of an uruk-hai on a stake to mark the death scene.

On the smoldering death pile, they find a belt of one of the hobbits.

In a rage of frustration, Aragorn yells and kicks a helmet from the pile.  In that moment, it looks as if the whole quest was worthless.  There’s no way Merry and Pippin are alive.  Boromir’s brave death was useless.  It doesn’t even matter if the elf and dwarf get along.  And what chance does Frodo and his dim-witted gardener have to make it through the fierce iron gates of Mordor, anyway?

. . Anyone who knows how the story ends can smile here.  Merry and Pippin have actually escaped into the forest and met up with Gandalf, who did not die from the fall but fought the balrog and won.  Boromir’s change of heart did matter.  Legolas and Gimli are becoming lifelong friends.  Frodo’s “dim-witted gardener” will rescue him from a spider so monstrous it could frighten away an uruk-hai.  Aragorn will draw Sauron’s eye to himself so that Frodo can slip past the enemy without notice.  The ring will be destroyed.  The quest will be completed . .

But when Aragorn kicks the helmet, he doesn’t know any of that.  He, like us, lives in the present.  He doesn’t have foresight or any such gift.  All he sees is the frustration of seemingly bad luck and the anger of personal failure.

He could have, at that moment, disappeared back into the wilderness and become a mysterious ranger again.  Or he could have even fallen on his own sword.  He could have kicked more helmets or cursed his friends or just laid down to rest after days of traveling without sleep.

But instead, he pauses, just for a second, and he notices something he did not notice before.

A slight slope in the ground in the shape of a hobbit.

Realizing one of the hobbits lay on that exact spot, he begins to do something he hadn’t been dreaming of doing when he kicked the helmet.  He begins to search again.

And this time, he does not stop at the burn pile.  He tracks the path the two hobbits took.  And he discovers that the path leads him to the brink of a forest.

And on goes the quest that, only a few moments before, he’d just about given up on when he kicked the helmet.

.          .          .          .          .          .          .          .

We all have times in our lives where we feel like kicking the helmet.  Times where it feels like evil is just going to win, and there is nothing we can do about it.  Times where our lives feel worthless and useless.  Times where we want to throw our hands up in despair and give up.

But at that very moment, there is always, always a trail that leads us to Christ.

The question is not whether or not it is there, but whether or not we will look for it.

The difference between hope and despair is that hope looks for the trail . . despair is too busy kicking at the rubble of something dead.

In all times, there is a way that leads to Christ.  And it isn’t clues that only a ranger could pick up.  The way that leads to Christ is unmissable.  It’s at the foot of a cross.

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. (1 Peter 1:3-5, NIV)

The Gift of God

I got to see the little girl I sponsor through Compassion in Guatemala last week, Helen.  I was surprised to find that Helen is very much like I was as a kid.  She pulled me around like a tugboat and we went up and down the bouncy house slide (nearly) a trillion times.  She crawled through every possible space of the play centers, whether they were intended to be crawled through or not–again, reminding me of myself–hid underneath the ball pit to spring up in surprise, wanted to win every single goal in air hockey, climbed the wrong way up the slide, nibbled on her lunch so she could have more time to play, kicked the soccer ball about 30 degrees off from the goal–so hard that our translator had to keep fetching it–and hit people with the ping pong ball as much as she hit the other side of the net.  She was like a bazooka of confetti.

But at gift-giving time, she dissolved into a shy, stiff statuesque little girl.  From time to time, she would give a faint, “Gracias.”  It was as if the gifts scared her.  And I think that’s pretty close to the truth.

I gave her an American girl doll, Hello Kitty backpack, candy necklace, and Beanie Baby in the morning.  We sat at a table.  Helen replied by giving me all the barrettes out of her hair.

In the afternoon, I gave her a rolling suitcase with pencils & colored pencils, shampoo, little toys, a jump rope, stickers, Hello Kitty t-shirts, hair brushes, a mirror, a little Hello Kitty playset, soap, a game, kids’ jewelery, and lots of hair bows, ties, barrettes, and some soft headbands.  I could never have gotten all these things without my mom, who sprung for most of it.  I knew this might be the only time I ever get to see Helen in this life.

Helen didn’t have any more barrettes to give me.  In fact, she didn’t have anything left to give me.  She didn’t have a necklace or bracelets.  Her little coat wouldn’t have fit me.  She’d given all she’d had away.  She became almost frozen in intimidation.  Grandma did most of the thanking.  Helen looked at me intently, but never asked any questions about the gifts, and never said anything but the perfunctory, “Gracias.”  In short, she was overwhelmed.

The one thing she did do in the gift giving time was one of the sweetest moments of the entire day–in fact, for me I think it was actually the very sweetest.  I was sitting on the bench and she was sitting on the bench, and there was a gap in between us.  With no translation needed, Helen patted the bench right beside her.  I slid over closer.

It was just exactly what I wanted her to offer.

I could not have imagined a more perfect analogy from my life for how we are to respond to the gifts of God (although it is an imperfect analogy in the sense that I actually did very little for Helen).

If you are a believer in Jesus, you have for sure and certain felt overwhelmed at some point by the gifts of God.  The gifts get bigger and more overwhelming the longer we know Him.  We find things in the suitcase He’s packed for us like grace, peace, forgiveness, restoration, redemption, freedom, endurance, patience, intimacy, thoughtfulness, protection, and love.  It seems like way more than we can handle.

In the morning of our lives, God opens a backpack and we find ourselves with lungs that breathe, a heart that beats, fingers that touch, a mouth that laughs.  We see a world around us, first through our mother’s cradling arms–the mother God especially gave us–and then through our toddling legs, and then streaming by us as we run through open fields.  We pet kitty cats and wade in oceans and stare at the sun at sunset until our parents tell us not to.  We gawk at zoo animals and wonder at earthworms and nearly faint the first time we see a train.  All around us is God’s wonder–and we don’t know how to respond.

We try to respond with our talents, our gifts.  We might not be giving them to God, but we are giving them in response to what we see around us.  We paint galaxies on heavy canvas and try to sell them for big dollars.  That will somehow pay back the cosmic blessing we got the first time we saw a star.  We write novels on relationships.  That will somehow pay back the feeling we got the first time we blew a kiss at someone we had a crush for.  We produce movies made from footage of rainforests.  That will somehow pay back the excitement of watching a leopard prowl its way through the underbrush for the first time.

But we never even get close.  We never can pay it back.  We see this world of wonder around us–yes, with suffering from sin, but let us not forget the overwhelming gifts from God–and we wonder, What can I do in reaction to all this?  We could earn 10’s on a diving board to bring a gold medal home for our country.  We could bake the best apple pie anyone ever tasted.  We could find the perfect sofa to match our living room, the best composition ever written for the feeling you get when you stand on the edge of a canyon, the keenest photograph of a father penguin shielding an egg.  But it still wouldn’t be enough.

And then the afternoon comes, and God comes up to us with a rolling suitcase.  And we think, What on earth is this?

He opens up His suitcase and we see, for the first time, the love of Christ.  It hits us like tropical sunlight in Antarctica or a sea in the middle of a desert or an underground hideaway on a volcanic mountain.  It is overwhelming, it is beyond human understanding, it seems, in actuality, insane.  Insane that God would care enough about us to give His Son for us.  Insane that He would be willing to forgive all our sins, every single one.  Insane that He would ask to be our Father.

The feeling is something like being drowned in grace.  Some swim away screaming, spitting out mouthfuls of grace as they make their escape.  Others float carefully on the surface, keeping away from the grace that would change them if they ever went under.  And then there are those who plunge in, drinking down lung fulls of grace, choking on love, suffocating on mercy.

It is a crazy feeling.  And when you’ve experienced it, when you realize you’re forgiven, you’re loved, that God is giving you gift after gift from His eternal Kingdom, and most of all, when you understand that Christ wants to live in your heart and protect you from Hell . .

You know there is nothing you can ever, ever do to pay it back.  You have nothing left to give.  You spent your barrettes–your talents, your gifts–just celebrating creation.  But what is this?  How can you ever repay God’s Son?

I can’t.  I know I can’t.

And so I pat the seat next to me for God to come closer.

God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. (Ephesians 2:18, NLT)

For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 6:23, NLT)

God is here, too.

It’s not my habit to blog at 2:34 a.m.

I haven’t been ‘up to par’, as the saying goes, for a few weeks.  Allergy season hit early and hard this year.  I’ve had something that’s become more than just allergies.  I woke up tonight with a thunderstorm and a handful of hymn:

Take my life and let it be

Consecrated, Lord, to Thee.

I woke up sweaty and, frankly, scared.  My heart began to beat fast.  I don’t like not feeling my best.  I don’t like lingering colds.  I don’t like crackling thunder in the dark.  I am afraid of the bright beams of lightning that shoot through my high window.

Here in the night, I think of all the failures God knows only so well.  My mind can even stray into all the things I have wanted to accomplish by this time in my life–and not achieved.  I think of what I want to do, and not feeling good, it seems like a gloomy forecast on my picnic of goals.

But in this hour, in this fear, it was as though God had woken me up for time with him.

Like a friend waking me up to share a depth of honesty in conversation that cannot be brought out any other time, God has woken me up to remember, in this night, how dependent I am on Him, and how dependable He is for me.  He is the Rock on which I lean, the cove of forgiveness from the storms of my guilt, the oasis of purpose in the center of a meaningless desert.  He is the God who allowed my father’s body to deteriorate into a corpse, and He is the God who pulled me up by the hand from a valley of depression I was not seeking to climb from.  He is the same God.

We say that He is the God who gives and takes away, and it is true, but it can be confusing to hear that without knowing the LORD.  He is the God who can take away our health, our pride, our lusts, our dreams, our depression, our shame, and our pain.  But He is never the God who takes away our love for Him or the treasure of His Son.  He does not snatch salvation away just when we open our hand to receive the living Bread; He does not take away our choice to love Him forever.  He gives us, and only us, that choice.

Max Lucado points out in He Chose the Nails that we complain about what God hasn’t given us the choice over–where we were born, what we would look like, our family, our talents, etc.  But we rarely realize what He has given us choice over: our eternal destiny.  It is a gift God never takes away as long as we have breath in our body.  And after death, it is not ultimately God who has taken away our choice; it is the nature of death–the final blow of sin in this world–which we chose for ourselves in a life of sin, that brings us to the other side of eternity to face Him.  Had we never sinned, there would be no closure to our time to choose Him.

But we are, all of us, on a schedule of death from our sin.  We all have a daily planner in front of us.  For any one of us who have lived long enough to read this blog, it is much thicker than the ones you can buy at the office supply stores.  The first part of our planner is already filled with the notes of everything we have ever done, handwritten by the choices we have made.  There are events written in–events that have happened to us, events that are happening to us, and events that will happen to us.  Flipping through the planner, there are blank pages, too–the pages that represent how much time we have left.  Some of us may have pages and pages to flip through.  Others of us might be astonished at the thin edge of paper separating us from the next world.  And for a few people tonight, there are no more pages.  The coroner is writing their name on the death certificate, even now.

For the Christian, our planner is filled marks.  God has scratched through every sin we have ever committed with permanent marker.  The sins simply can’t be read through the wide marks of forgiveness.  God has even highlighted any good we have done through His Son, not forgetting a single choice we made for His Kingdom.

This is the God I serve.  The God who can work even at 3:07 a.m., even when I have a cold, even in a life such as mine.

Take my life and let it be

Consecrated, Lord, to Thee.

What sweetness in the unfathomable truth:

God is here, too.

God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.

(Psalm 46:1b, ESV)

Published in: on May 30, 2012 at 3:24 am  Leave a Comment  
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You came

You came and had no place to lay Your head so I would have a place to lay mine.

“Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.” (Matthew 8:20b, ESV)

“Come to me, all of you who are weary and loaded down with burdens, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28, ISV)

Published in: on April 2, 2012 at 9:10 pm  Leave a Comment  
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If I can have your attention, please.

Stopped at a stoplight, I had my mind off listening to Beautiful, Beautiful by Francesca Battistelli when I began to notice the passenger in the van next to me.  It was hard not to notice him.  He was rocking out to music.

I didn’t think he would appreciate being watched, so I returned to staring ahead.  However, it was hard not to pay attention.  He began head banging.  I wondered what exactly was going on.  Was he trying to get my attention, or just being really silly?  I turned to see.  He wasn’t looking my direction, and I went back to staring ahead, convinced (with relief) he was simply rocking out.

But as the stoplight unceasingly stayed red, I became convinced this was not the case.  He stopped whacking his head around long enough to–I thought–gauge if I was looking.  Then he continued.

I decided to give one last look.  This time, when I looked at him, he stopped head banging and looked straight at me.  He was probably a teenager, or in his early twenties.  He gave me this cocky look of Aha, you noticed me, which, as I gazed at him, turned quickly to realization that I was, actually, looking at him.  He hadn’t planned to this point and the smile faded as his eyes widened, understanding for the first time that he had just set himself up for an extreme crash and burn if I was not amused.

I realized that my look of nonamusement (which was really just me trying to figure out what on earth was going on) was about one second away from extremely embarrassing him.  I smiled in an attempt to look sage, kind, and a tad bit motherly.

He appreciated it.  He seemed very proud of himself.  And, as (at last) the light changed and both our vehicles moved forward (mine intentionally slower), he stuck his arms out the window and began headbanging again.

It might be easy to make fun of him, but I don’t want to.  He was just a kid, trying to get attention.  I remember going through a stage where I would wave at random people to see if they would wave back.  Loneliness, wanting attention–I get it.

Instead, I prayed for this attention-hungry kid.  And almost immediately, God brought something else to my mind: how very much all of us are like this boy.

We may not all throw our heads around to get attention, but we all want attention desperately.  And who do we want it from more than anything else?  God.

And we do some pretty unusual things to try to get it from Him.

Some people throw themselves into a rebellion against God to try to get His attention.  Others scream at Him.  Others make fun of Him.  Others try to do good stuff to please Him.  And still others just give up.

But is it really this hard to get God’s attention?  Is He really not very interested in us?  Does He leave His cell phone off most of the time?  Does He block our calls?

God gives us incredibly interesting analogies for Himself that I would never pick if I was God.  One is a Father.  A Father?   Sometimes we don’t think too much about it, but it’s only because we’re not thinking from a heavenly perspective!  The best I can come to understanding how strange this must seem to the angels is something like this:

Suppose that a President walked into a maximum security prison and said, “Who would like to come with me and be my child?”  Would that make headlines?  Might he be removed from office?

One of the many good newses about God is that there is no one higher than Him, and He doesn’t take votes, so nobody can remove Him from office.  But if they could, I guarantee you they would.  The Pharisees would have first dibs.  God’s love seemed crazy to them–that God would want to adopt sinners?  They were angry enough to plot to kill Him.

Here’s another mind-blogging analogy about God.  He describes Himself as a Shepherd.  Have you ever had the opportunity to take care of squirrels?  I haven’t.  But I can kinda imagine what it would be like.  Would you volunteer for the job of overseeing a thousand squirrels–free squirrels who are not caged?  I wouldn’t dare.

But God dares to oversee us.  Not only does He oversee us, but He gives us free choice to follow Him or not.  Sometimes when I think of a Shepherd, I think of quiet sheep grazing on pasture hills.  But is this really how we are?  No way.  We are like wild squirrels running hither and thither.  Only by God’s great love do we have the chance to be shepherded.  It wasn’t a job anybody else wanted to take on–accept for Satan, who wanted to devour us whole.  God steps up as Shepherd–Shepherd!–to lead the way to Heaven for us.  Incredible.

And then there’s when God describes Himself as the Bridegroom of the church.  Just like a man becomes vulnerable to win the heart of a woman, so Jesus became vulnerable to win our hearts [1].

A man might become vulnerable to win the heart of a woman he loves–but would he become vulnerable for a woman of no regard with nothing to offer who has sold herself to anyone who would buy her?  But this is the story of God, revealed through the Old and New Testament.

With a God like this, it doesn’t seem like it would be hard to get His attention.  So why does it seem like it’s so hard?

Why doesn’t God write messages in the sky for us?  Why doesn’t He usually talk to people in an audible voice?  Why doesn’t He create youtube videos from Heaven to send to us, so that we might know we have His attention?

The problem with this is, though, it supposes that God hasn’t tried to get our attention in the most powerful way possible–and He has.

I am convinced that if the death of God on a cross and His resurrection from the grave won’t get people’s attention, then nothing will . . except for eternal judgment, at which point it is too late to believe [2].

God has let us know–unmistakably, irrevocably–that He cares about us.  But He has not violated our opportunity to have faith.  If He gave us all the proofs we ask for, we would have no faith.  By Biblical definition:

Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see. (Hebrews 11:1, NIV)

And the Bible makes it clear: the way to God is through faith in Jesus Christ and what He has done for us on the cross.

For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. (Ephesians 2:8-9, NASB)

So, while we’re trying to get God’s attention, we’re missing the fact that God has taken the greatest possible effort to get our attention.

There’s one last name God uses to describe Himself that we’ll talk about here: Advocate.

Jesus is described as our Advocate.

My dear children, I am writing this to you so that you will not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate who pleads our case before the Father. He is Jesus Christ, the one who is truly righteous. (1 John 2:1, NLT)

I know people who have tried to get me into trouble, but rarely people who have tried to get me out of trouble.  Those are true friends.  But people who can actually pay for my trouble?  I don’t have any friends like that, except one.  That’s Jesus.

There is no one in all the world who could ever make themselves as  approachable as Jesus.  Jesus opens His arms to us at the cross.  We never need to be attention-seeking again.  We have all the love we could possibly need–and more–in our Advocate, Jesus Christ.  He died so we could receive the attention we desperately seek from God, rather than permanent separation.

We don’t have to do crazy things or try to be worthy to get God’s attention.

God is trying to get ours.

My heart has heard you say, “Come and talk with me.” And my heart responds, “LORD, I am coming.” (Psalm 27:8, NLT)

[1] Concept from Wild at Heart by John Eldridge and other authors who have described this phenomena.

[2] Inspired by a powerful statement my pastor made in a sermon.

Published in: on March 24, 2012 at 8:40 pm  Leave a Comment  
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One More Chance

Then Jesus told this story: “A man planted a fig tree in his garden and came again and again to see if there was any fruit on it, but he was always disappointed. Finally, he said to his gardener, ‘I’ve waited three years, and there hasn’t been a single fig! Cut it down. It’s just taking up space in the garden.’

“The gardener answered, ‘Sir, give it one more chance. Leave it another year, and I’ll give it special attention and plenty of fertilizer. If we get figs next year, fine. If not, then you can cut it down.’” (Luke 13:6-8, NLT)

________________________________________________

Photograph by Ian W. Scott, profile on http://www.flickr.com/people/ian-w-scott/

Photograph is under Creative Commons License.

See Copyright Page for Bible translation information.

 

How to Have 548 Friends on Facebook

I was going to title this “How to Have 542 Friends on Facebook”.  I am proud to say that, since the idea for this blog, I have 6 more people to brag about.

Many of you may be wondering, “How can I be so popular?  How can I have so many friends?”  Others of you, like my grandmother, for example, who has 863 friends, may already have clicked out of this blog.  (By the way, I’m not making that up.  Except, since she is my grandmother, she won’t exit my blog without actually reading it.  I don’t think.  Right?  You’re still there, right, Grandma?)

For anyone who might still be reading because they have less than 548 friends or because they simply feel sorry for me, I’d like to point out the tips I have used to build a successful facebook empire.

  • Friend friends of friends.  Try to choose people whose faces look kind, so they will feel bad about rejecting your invitation, or people who look absent-minded, so that they’ll probably accept your friend request without even thinking about it.
  • Go after friends of friends of friends.  Don’t ask petty questions like, “Do I know this person?  Could they be a well-known bank robber?” but instead “How likely will they be to turn me into the facebook police if I friend them and they figure out we don’t actually know each other?”
  • Find celebrities.  They like facebook numbers, too.  (This is kinda like the birds that clean the alligators’ teeth.  The alligators tolerate it because they don’t have to buy dental insurance.)
  • Make it your job to hunt down the long lost friends and relatives of other people.  They’ll be so grateful they’ll want to be your friends.
  • At church, bring a clipboard and sign-up sheet and ask everyone to write their full name as it appears on facebook.
  • Follow a vaccuum salesman around.
  • I’m about out of tips.  If you need more, you might check with my grandmother.

There was a time in my life when I was lonely, lonely, lonely.

And now I love my 548 facebook friends.

I love friends.

But there’s one friend who is galaxies above.  A friend who loves me whether I have 548 friends or 863 friends or 0 other friends.  A friend who loved me long before there was even a facebook, as a matter of fact.  A friend who loved me even back when I was a teenager so lonely I posted on internet Beanie Baby forums to feel like I could be a part of something and belong.

A friend who loved me enough to give His life to make a way back to Him, when I’d been the one who’d ended our communication.  A friend who never disappoints me, never betrays me, never lies to me, never tricks me, and never breaks His promises to me.  A friend who never abuses me, never misuses me, and never refuses to love me, even when I don’t deserve it (which, you know, is always).

A friend who gives to me, forgives me, restores me, and resurrects me.

My friend, Jesus Christ.

Unlike my other friends, Jesus loved me when I was unlovable.  When I was the one who turned away, Jesus gave His life to give me a way back to Him.

I would trade all 548 of my facebook friends for Jesus Christ in a New York minute, not because I don’t care about them, but because Jesus is the key to loving anyone.  And through Him, I am able to be a friend to others—not just a friend who clicks a button—but a friend who loves, cares, and gives.  As any of my friends can tell you, I’m far, far from the perfect friend.  But I know the perfect Friend, and it’s in sharing this mysterious, incredible, divine Friendship that I become a true friend to others.

There was a time, there really was a time, when I thought my value was in how many friends I had or at least how much they loved me.

But now I see my value is in the Friend, and He’s not giving me up.

And if He won’t give me up—the person who looked for love in Beanie Baby forums—believe me when I tell you, He won’t give you up, either.  But He won’t force you to be His friend–that’s not friendship.  You must want to give Him your heart.  And if you ever do give Him your heart, you will find there is nothing so beautiful as His.

there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother. (Proverbs 18:24b, ESV)