Friday, November 20, 2009

My 'Bestest' Friend

In recent days, what I thought was some email spam actually was an invitation to my 40 year high school reunion (40 years! Is that even possible?). As I began to make the necessary contact to be included in that event I began to think about the years gone by and I was reminded of the value of friends. Friends are those who you do things with who know who you really are. Some of my high school friends know of some escapades we were involved in back in the '60s. Friends later made dinner just for us-the dishes we like best. For some it was very late night coffee and chit chat. I've seen friends make some very bad decisions and break my heart as well as others around them.

I've seen friends abandon and be abandoned. While we call all of those different categories "friends," in actuality, most of these are acquantances to whom we happen to get rather close. True friends are those who know more about you than anybody and still love you. They are those who don't gauge the level of friendship by performance. When you stop and think about true friends, we all have very few. In fact, I have heard it said that if you have more friends than you can count on one hand you are in a very small minority.

So I began to think about my "friends." Now don't get me wrong, I am very thankful for even those who are friends during a season. You know, those peope with whom you develop a close relationship while you live in a place for a while. You have a lot in common and enjoy doing things together. In the broad sense, they are friends but not in the refined sense.

Many talk about their "best friend;" some talk about their "many" best friends; others talk about their "new" best friend. Comediene and former Miss North Carolina, Jeannie Robertson, refers to her "bestest" friend. Of course, everybody wants friends and even at least one best or bestest friend.

So I began to think of my true friends. While I do count myself blessed, I know that in reality, I have few and that would most likely be true of you as well. My very best friend on this earth is one of whom I actually requested their friendship. We actually made a public declaration of our friendship for each other and have stayed true friends for over 35 years. Yes, my very best friend is my lovely wife, Zannie. She is the one person on this earth who can tell me things no one else can and I still come back for more. She makes me so mad sometimes I could chew nails (not those on my fingers either) and I know I do the same to her. But friendship gets beyond the frustrations of life, forgives, and moves on because we love each other. This kind of friendship hurts when the other hurts and never wishes anything but the best for the other.

And while she is my best friend, I do have a "bestest"friend as well. Few know what that is like. You may or at least I hope you do. He actually wanted to be my friend far longer than I had wanted to be his. He had attempted a relationship even when I had "far better" things to do than be his friend. I know that there were times when I deeply hurt him; not intenting to do so but not caring that I had either.

His attempts went unheeded for many years but finally on October 21, 1985 (my best friend Zannie's birthday), I accepted the continual offer of true freindship from my bestest friend, Jesus Christ. The Bible even refers to Him as a "friend who sticks closer than a brother (Proverbs 18:24).

As I most certainly do look forward to seeing some of my high school buddies and friends, renewing old relationships, and reminiscing about old times, my desire is that they too, have a bestest Friend who sticks closer than a brother. He is a Friend who will never let you down, who will never leave nor forsake. He knows your heart even better than either you or your best friend. His love lasts forever. He wants to have a friendship with everyone but gives everyone the choice to reject if they so choose.

As this blog post ends, let me ask you to examine your friendships and ask, "Do you have Jesus as your bestest Friend, too?" It's just a thought for today.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

What's Your Viewpoint?

Last weekend we had a great missions conference at our church. It was much shorter than in the past but equally effective, if not more so. There was an outpouring of financial commitments, far more people signing up for mission trips, and in general, sort of a "this is normal" attitude about the whole thing. I know such an attitude is unusual for many churches but I have discovered that as my walk with the Lord matures my viewpoint changes. I pray that what actually is happening is that I am seeing things more through Christ's eyes and less through my own.

I found a video that challenged me but at the same time opened my eyes to a whole new concept of "local"missions. It shouldn't; it's one of those "Duh" moments. It shows the difference between attractional evangelism (bringing people to church) and incarnational evangelilsm (bringing Christ to the culture). It takes a little over 9 minutes. See how it will affect you.

This is just something for you and me to think about today.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Things Have Changed

I got into a conversation with a group the other day as we were reminscing about the good ole days. As we talked and shared memories of days gone by, we were all reminded that we tend to remember what we want to from those days. I remember when we got an indoor bathroom. For those of you who have never experienced it, there is nothing glamorous about an outhouse in the middle of the night in February. Actually there is nothing glamorous about an outhouse in the daytime either in any month for that matter. Picking cotton by hand (thankfully a one time experience for me), cleaning out the hog barn, three channels on TV on a good day (two most of the time). So many other things I, and probably you, could mention in addition to these. Things have changed!

Have they ever! I am so glad that even though from year to year as technology advances, conveniences abound, and politics get weirder and weirder there are a few things that remain constant.

The salvation that the apostle Paul received on the road to Damascus is the same salvation I received in 1985 and that hopefully you have received at some point in yoru life. The peace that comes today from belonging to Christ is the same peace that the first century martyrs possessed as they were tortured and burned alive. The joy that comes from leading a loved one into a personal relationship with Jesus Christ is as sweet today as it was on a ship crossing the Atlantic for so many who escaped persecution for their faith in England. And the Savior who made it all possible is the "same yesterday, today, and forever" (Hebrews 13:8).

It's fun to think back and reflect on the good memories but there will be a day when all these days will be forgotten forever because there will be nothing to compare with the "days" of eternity with Him. I am greatful for memories but I am more greatful for the promises that lie ahead. That's just a thought for today.