Thursday, May 28, 2009

Friendship...The Pillar of Understanding

Oops! I almost forgot to post this last entry in our series on Friendship - perhaps I should title it..."From Pillar to Post"!

Listen, I have just spent the most lovely afternoon with some of my most favorite women on the face of this planet and I am still basking in the blessing of it all - I will let you know all about it on Tuesday, but until then, let's be about finishing up our series on Friendship.

This will, in all probability, be the shortest post in the series and yet it is really quite profound in its inworking and outworking. Understanding in any friendship is simply - knowing others. And while this particular Pillar of Friendship takes the longest to develop and there being definitely no short-cuts - the length of time does vary from friend to friend.

Understanding flows naturally out of intimacy - understanding requires communication, and at the risk of sounding redundant...understanding requires communication for the sole purpose of gaining greater understanding.

You have perhaps heard it said that intimacy can be defined as IN-TO-ME-SEE...this can be enormously frightening for many people and may suggest the reason why so many have surrounded themselves with a vast array of acquaintances and very few, if any, truly intimate friends. Remember Jesus, and how out of the twelve He had chosen three; these three were to be witnesses of many intimate moments with Jesus, not the least being His time of great distress and grief.

I have so much to say on this, but to keep it short, think about this...have you an intimate friend that you are able to take your "game face" down in front of? If not, why not? Are there parts of yourself that you deem as "unLOVEly"? Of course the best place to begin intimacy is closest to home...knowing yourself well. Asking the hard questions regarding your own self before the Lord, letting Him shine His Light on those areas of your heart that you have been trying to hide from God, yourself and others. Girls, this takes time...LITERAL time. Listen, there is a reason that one of the Names of Jesus is Wonderful Counselor! As long as we live on the face of this earth, we are in desperate need of Divine Counselling and God knows it! With professional earthly counselling, you book your date and time and pay your ridiculously enormous fee. With God, the debt of fee has been paid for at the cross and your Divine Counselling session has been booked - any day, any time, you can boldly (did I just say boldly? yep, I did) walk in! This time with God is not a quick 5 minutes in and out - this Counselling Session takes LITERAL time...take that time sweetheart, take it - it has been paid and booked just for you - take an hour, and let God minister to you by His Holy Spirit, to the deepest recesses of your soul. Believe me, once you have experienced the love and cleansing work of the Lord in your own life and soul, you will find it much easier and be more free to develop intimacy with others.

Understanding in intimate friendships only comes when your "game face" is still in the bathroom drawer! When you pour into your friendships...let them see who you are, not who you think they want to see. This will give them permission to relax and open up to you as well, giving you an opportunity to encourage and contribute and minister into their lives. We just have to keep this thing real, authentic - otherwise we fall into William Shakespeare's take on it, "...all the world is a stage and all the men and women merely players...".

As we ask the Lord to give us wisdom in the choosing of our most intimate of friends, let's not be about looking for perfection, many will come as diamonds in the rough...for heaven's sake, when we get to really know God and really know ourselves and live this thing out minus the game face, we certainly begin walking humbly with our Lord - and we cease to look for perfection in others or ourselves! Let's know our God and ourselves well, being strong in the Lord and willing to pour ourselves into the lives of others for Him. Let's also be ready and willing to receive and be ministered to as well, as our particular gardens fragrantly bloom in all their beauty and vast array!

Not the definitive word by any means...but hoping that you were somehow blessed, encouraged and leaning a little closer into your Lord,

And the Winner is...

Congratulations Angie! I hope that you enjoy your little pillow and that it will be a reminder and encouragement to you of all that you have learned and experienced throughout this past year as you studied the book of John and drew closer to your Lord and Savior...
What a sheer delight and pleasure it has been having you in our class - you have been a blessing to each one of us and we treasure you as our sister and friend,
with much love and appreciation,

Wednesday, May 27, 2009


Well, my little project is completed! Because I will not be posting on Friday, Saturday or Sunday, the drawing for the Vintage 'Believe' Cushion will be held tomorrow morning...remember, your name goes into the teacup with every comment you leave.
I was thinking the other day how I would have loved to have made a cushion for everyone that was a part of our year long study in the book of John...thus the little lavender sachets were created for every one of you!

Looking forward to seeing you girls, poolside tomorrow afternoon at Angie and Marnie's!

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

A Stitch in Time...

That old saying "A stitch in time, saves nine", is an old English idiom that basically means "if something needs done, do it now, because it will only get worse if you put it off, like a hole in clothing." Well, I am stitching up a storm today because for some reason this girl thought that she had all the time in the world for this particular little project. I need it to be completed by Thursday and because my Wednesday is taken up, today is the day...

Hm-m-m...I wonder if you can guess what it might be!

Monday, May 25, 2009

Friendship...The Pillar of Respect

Beautiful Monday to you- isn't this weather just glorious? I am hoping that the cheeriness of it is putting a little spring into your step and blessing you as you begin another brand new week.

Today, we are continuing the theme of Friendship that we began last week, looking at the third Pillar of Friendship - Respect. Respect can often be the most neglected aspect in any friendship, simply due to over-familiarity and lack of consideration - and although we are specifically speaking of intimate friendships here, we can, (sadly) actually see this form of neglect quite often played out in marriages.

Respect means "to honour, to esteem, to show consideration for". To "honour" a friend means that we "give place" to them - finding a way of relating to and enjoying them that gives them place. When the Pillar of Respect is neglected, it most often occurs because we have our own needs primarily in mind - of course, this attitude of the heart may never be actually voiced as such, but it does speak loudly through our actions. Sometimes it occurs through simple exuberance of spirit, we are excited about something and just have to call our friend and tell her! There is nothing quite like a sister to enter into our joy with us! I have done this on many occasions, so I am not telling you something that I am so far above I can't relate...with my personality, it is something that I just have to keep an eye on - being mindful in my friendships -thoughtfully considering my sisters and being respectful of their time and their commitments; being purposeful in not becoming a drain on their time, or energies - or simply just bursting in on them at inopportune times! Now I am all for spontaneity, it adds the zest to life - but if inconsideration of others begins to characterize your attitudes in has become a problem.

If we purposely set out to treasure our friendships as valuable, we will tenderly care for them; honouring their place in our life and showing consideration for them in a variety of ways - this can be through thoughtful gifts or acts of service, cards of appreciation, a bouquet of flowers, or a phone call just to let them know that we are thinking of them.... All given for no other reason but that your friend is a valuable treasure that you appreciate, esteem and give value to in your life and that you delight in honouring them, "giving them place".

Now, having said all that there is one thing to keep in mind here and that is that how we respect and honour ourselves will often translate into how we respect others. I touched on this in a comment I made on the May 19th entry, "Friendship, A Lovely Garden", where I wrote, "...because the foundation of any thriving garden is good soil, one thing that I have learned to do over the years in preparation to receive those that the Lord brings into my life is based on Matthew 22:37-40. Loving God with all my heart, soul, strength and mind and loving others as myself. Here's the thing...I have had to learn to love myself! Not introspective, naval gazing, but honoring the woman that God has created me to be, learning to be gracious towards myself. Girls, I have by no means arrived...this is a definite discipline that I fail at constantly, but God is gracious towards me...He is my example in this! If we will do this simple thing we will find ourselves truly honoring others as the people God created them to be and extending grace to them..."

There have been times in my life where I would never have spoken to another human being the way that I spoke (self talk...a whole other series!) to myself, times when I paid no heed to how tired I was or how overwhelmed I had become, when I was not gracious towards myself by simply honouring how God created me. This was just plain unhealthy, and that was in relationship with myself for heaven's sake!

The blessing of healthy friendship with others is what we see in Acts 28:10, where we see Paul, after landing on the island of Malta, enjoying the "extraordinary kindness" of the islanders, and after spending a number of days with them, blessing them and being blessed in return, he writes in v.10, "and they also honoured us with many marks of respect; and when we were setting sail, they supplied us with all we needed." This is respect in the best possible light. The blessing was on both sides.

I pray that your most intimate of friendships holds this precious two-fold blessing.

Now, I am off to pick me up some dining room chairs - I'll let you know how I make out!

Friday, May 22, 2009

Friendship...The Pillar of Faithfulness

While we Thursday Morning Bible Study girls are still basking in the after glow of yesterday's gathering, it is a good time to think upon yesterday's posting of the Pillar of Love - that good soil which is foundational in establishing the health of any friendship. Today, we are looking at the second pillar, that which supports and strengthens the growth and bloom of friendship. Proverbs 27:6 says that, "Faithful are the wounds of a friend, but deceitful are the kisses of an enemy."

Faithful is what we are looking at in this verse...throughout Scripture we see that God Himself is faithful and that this attribute characterizes those who belong to Him. The true spirit of friendship is faithfulness. Faithfulness is loyalty and trustworthiness (we will look a little closer at these two in a moment); faithfulness fosters growth and health in our relationships, and while it has many enjoyable and pleasing out workings, there will be times when faithfulness will require us to confront a friend (or to be confronted by a friend ourselves). This is never easy, and it carries with it the potential of wounding or hurting a friend, however, the risk of "wounding" our friend in order to make the way smooth for God's highest good in their life is one that we should be willing to take, just as we also need to learn to treasure those that God places in our life, that risk wounding us for God's highest good.

It does not always need to be a confrontation about sin, it could be something as simple as coming alongside a girlfriend that is struggling with her diet and is just about to order that cheesecake for heaven sake! But when it comes to those deeper issues of our faith, we just plain need to be sisters that sharpen one another, there is just too much at risk - sin will take you further than you ever intended to go, keep you longer than you ever intended to stay, and cost you more than you ever intended to pay. Wounding a friend is always worth the risk.

Faithfulness is not supporting your friends regardless of their behaviour - that is enabling. Faithfulness is lovingly coming alongside a weak or weakened sister, not to expose, but to shed light and to foster a safe place for confession, repentance and healing and new growth.

Of course, there will be times when your friends will make contrary choices, even after being lovingly confronted. As heartbreaking as this is to witness, for our own spiritual health, we must not allow the "works" or "actions" of those who choose to walk away from God and His truth to "cling" to us. The intention should always be to speak truth into and over the situation, not to implicate ourselves in any way with the sin or to become entangled in an unhealthy alliance.

This would be the "weeding out" that we talked about earlier in, "Friendship...A Lovely Garden." However difficult this may be, we have to remember that those who have been carried away by their own appetites (see James 1:13-15) have the distinct ability to reproduce (see 1 Corinthians 6:6) at an alarming rate and will ultimately choke out the life of other healthy plantings. Faithfulness can continue through praying for them...but with some, there does come a time when close proximity can be dangerous.

Which brings us to loyalty. Loyalty is one of the qualities of is one of the greatest strengths of any friendship. This quality of loyalty, which grows out of faithfulness, is seen beautifully depicted in the life of Jonathan in 1 Samuel 18:1-6. Jonathan remained loyal to his friend David in spite of his father's anger and the fact that his loyalty to David would affect his own royal standing in the future. Jonathon took the risk! He could see the hand of God upon David and aligned himself with the purposes of God in David's life.

Loyalty in our friendships is important, but we need to be aware of the dangers of loyalties that have become misguided or misdirected. In order to avoid this, there is a need for perimeters for the greater allegiances in our life. For instance...

No relationship should ever distract us from our relationship with God or the purpose that God has built into our lives. Nor should a friendship ever pull us away from our marriage or family or detrimentally affect other friendships.

Another caution needs to be addressed as well, regarding loyalty - there is always the danger of falling into the trap of nursing people's wounds instead of actively working towards helping them become healed and whole! Many want to be accepted just as they are, an open, festering wound, rather than to grow and heal and learn new behaviours. NEVER build friendships upon the shaky foundation of wounds, and worse yet, common wounds! This can only perpetuate unhealthy thinking and unhealthy example.

We must be committed to building our most intimate of friendships according to the highest common denominator, the Word of God and His purposes for us. Be that friend that encourages and inspires her girlfriends on in the Lord, that they might aspire to reach their full potential in Christ. And require this quality in those that you draw closest to you as well.

Determine not to compromise your own commitment or example to line up with an other's poor thinking or poor will ultimately only condone their behaviour and leave you in a weakened state. Live in such a way that your life is an example to those around you of what a woman of God should look like...not perfect, let's keep this thing real girls! - but taking responsibility for your own growth in the Lord. Our role as a faithful friend is to help others accept responsibility for changing and growing in order to become all that God has called them to be.

Proverbs 18:24 states that, "...a man of many friends will come to ruin, but there is a friend that sticks closer than a brother." Throughout our lives, we will be placed in the midst of many others...we need to understand the differences between "acquaintances" and "friends". Trying to be friends with everyone will ultimately dilute our ability to be a good friend to anyone, and let's be honest, just plain wear us out! When it comes to our loyalties, we need to make Kingdom choices.

Before I completely wear you sweet things out, there is just one more attribute of faithfulness that we need to look at - trustworthiness.

Trustworthiness, stands side by side with loyalty as another one of the qualities of faithfulness. This is a very fragile and critical area, because once trust has been violated it is hard to get back. One question that is beneficial in asking ourselves is, "Am I a trustworthy woman?" Many times, if we are not, we do not believe it to be true of others either, which leads to distrust in relationships and that just makes things messy and inauthentic. Trustworthiness is seen in the life of a woman that mirrors consistency and perseverance in her faith - more than ever before, we sisters need to be seeing this thing in one another, and experiencing this for ourselves. An acquaintance of yours today may become an intimate sister friend of yours tomorrow, simply by seeing the quality of trustworthiness displayed in your conduct today!

God is looking for women whose hearts are completely His - and when He finds these women, He strongly supports them!

"For the eyes of the Lord move to and fro throughout the earth that He may strongly support those whose heart is completely His." 2 Chronicles 16:9

And the most beautiful thing is that those He considers faithful - He strengthens and puts into service!

"I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has strengthened me, because He considered me faithful, putting me into service." 1 Timothy 1:12

Love and faithfulness...the first two pillars of any strong friendship - Monday we will look at the Pillar of Respect, until then have a wonder-full weekend!

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Some Flowers in My Garden

Here are some of the lovely flowers that God has placed in my particular garden! This morning was our last session in our year long study in the book of John - what a wonderful gathering it was! Our study began at 9:30 a.m. and we were completed by noon, but that was not the end of our morning together...while I kept Marnie busy (we were in the ladies room...for heaven's sake, I didn't know where else to take the girl that sounded legitimate!), Angie and the girls were like a whirlwind getting the room ready to celebrate Marnie's 40th birthday.

I think that the girl was surprised! Angie had planned a "Garden Theme", and the cake that had been made just fit in perfectly with the decor of the table.

Angie had set the table with lovely checkered green and white table clothes, garden themed place mats and gold cutlery. There were baby pink begonias all down the middle of the table wrapped in sunny yellow napkins and each girl had the pleasure of taking one home...

Angie prepared the food and it was spectacular, this girl has the ability to do 20 things at one time and do them all she is with a pot of soup in hand and flowers in the other - and this after she had to jump in her car and run home because she had forgotten her homework, witnessed a three truck collision on the way and noticed that her gas light was on - what a morning!

Edna prepared a fruit platter that was just amazing...I will never look at fruit the same way again! I have told her that she could have her own little business in minutes if she so desired and it would be a smash hit...

As Angie would say...just click to ENLARGE and enjoy visually the bounty that we enjoyed this afternoon...

Let's eat girls!

There were gifts as well...
At each place setting there was this sweet little package - a handmade dish clothe with a Lindor chocolate attached to the ribbon (my husband made short work of that when I arrived home...the chocolate, not the ribbon!), inside was a little package of Forget-Me-Not seeds and a bookmark with the Beatitudes written upon it...
Edna had prepared a basket full of handmade bookmarks, with a little chocolate tucked inside the patterned envelope sleeve and a little ribbon strung through the I surrounded by creative women or what! Mine has already found itself a little home on my bookshelf...thank you Edna!

We missed the girls that were unable to be with us...but hope to see you next week around the pool at our Summer Wind-up! By the way...Marnie got a present too - after all it was her birthday! I was going to show you a picture of it - but there is a history attached and in order to protect the innocent I'm not sayin' any more (it was re-gifted)...OK, that's all your getting from me!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Friendship...The Pillar of Love

The people that we invite and welcome into our lives have a significant impact on both our relationship with God and with others. Our intimate relationships also have a direct impact upon our future.

Proverbs 27:17 tells us that "Iron sharpens iron, so one (woman) sharpens another." The reality is this...if your very closest and most intimate of friends, the people that you do life with, are all rough and ragged stones, in all probability you will become dull and ultimately be rendered unable to make them in any way, sharp. Just like in a garden, if most of your plants are weeds, then even the best and hardiest of plants will be crowded out, the life choked right out of them.

Among many other things, I believe that there are four critical pillars that need to be in place in order to ensure strong and healthy friendships. As we go through and look at these pillars over the next few days, remember that every healthy relationship must start with a healthy YOU! Spiritual health enables us to see rightly and with greater wisdom and discernment. Learn how to evaluate your friendships and relationships in the light of these four pillars - seek out those who display these qualities and welcome them into your intimate circle.
Love is the good soil that is so foundational to the health and vitality of your garden of friendships - it is into love that each flower and plant will be placed.
1 Corinthians 13 is a wonderful chapter that gives an in-depth look into what this good soil of love is composed of - the nutrients that will ultimately feed our relationships.
In verse 1-3 we see that talking about wonderful gardening and having knowledge of wonderful gardens and plants, and even sacrificing ourselves on behalf of our gardens will profit us absolutely nothing without love. It is just talk and works - but void of the vital, life giving nutrient of love.
In verse 4-7 we see what love is and what love isn't. We see the qualities or the "nutrients" that produce the good soil of love and also those elements that must be removed in order to keep the soil of love pure. The soil of love must be rich in those qualities that ensure that we have a "profitable" garden of friendships.
Love is patient
.... Love is not jealous
Love is kind
.... Love does not brag
Love rejoices with the truth
.... Love is not arrogant
Love bears all things
.... Love does not act unbecomingly
Love believes all things
....Love does not seek its own
Love hopes all things
.... Love does not provoke
Love endures all things
....Love does not take into account a wrong suffered
....Love does not rejoice in unrighteousness

The good soil of love covers. It is a place where our roots can grow deep, where we feel safe and secure, love seeks to cover, not expose. There is always room to grow and thrive in love - love invites us in, even when we feel like we don't deserve it; love is a place where we know that our heart is safe. These are the qualities that we need to look for in the soil of love in our own gardens, these qualities are vital in order to show ourselves friendly to others, so that we can pour into their lives the goodness of God and in turn recieve the blessing of being ministered to as we allow others to pour their fragrance into our lives as well. Remember, just as others will bless and bloom in the rich, fertile soil of your will you in theirs!

Verse 8 tells us that "love never fails" - this is God's own promise to us. It is crucial that we make a sober assessment of ourselves before God in the light of these good soil requirements - asking Him to create in us a pure heart and renewing a right spirit within us that we may be filled to overflowing with the attributes of the Holy Spirit, so that our friendships, our relationships in life would be planted, rooted in the good nutritious foundation of His soil of love.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Friendship...A Lovely Garden

God has quite often used the garden to speak to me of deeper truths, and because I think in pictures, I believe that this particular picture that God has blessed me with, has deepened my understanding of friendship through the years.

The friendships in our lives have the potential of creating a lovely fragrant garden...however, there are certain responsibilities that every gardener must undertake in order to ensure that her garden flourishes.

The foundation of any thriving garden is good soil. It is so vital that we allow God to prepare our hearts for those plantings that He Himself brings into our lives - this preparation is ongoing, it is the process of getting to know God and ourselves, well. (In the comment section at the end of this posting, I will share one of the things that I have personally learned in this "good soil" preparation process...I am hoping that you will also share yours as well so that we can all share the fragrance of wisdom from one another!) Once this foundation of good soil has been laid, plenty of water and sunshine will be required, along with the knowledge of what kind of plants will do well, and where.

The regular maintenance of pruning, dead-heading, weeding and fertilizing will require personal time, energy, money and commitment; yet, one thing will continue to hold centre court, and that will be your enjoyment of your garden, and the sharing of it with others. It will become a continual source of beauty and refreshment to you, full of surprises and a constant source of inspiration.

The garden of our friendships are composed of many different kinds of flowers - there are perennials - these are the friends that are "tried and true", they remain a constant fixture in our gardens year after year. They faithfully bloom at exactly the right time, giving beauty to the overall garden of our lives.

There are annuals - these are the friendly plantings that are a part of our gardens for only a season. They will come and give a burst of colour to shaded areas of the garden, they will highlight walkways and tend to bring out the very best of our gardens, providing exactly what is needed for a particular season of time.

There are weeds - these are the undesired, harmful plants. They are invasive and have the unpleasant ability of sinking their roots in deep, crowding out and choking out the life of the other plants in our gardens. Weeds tend to be deceptive in their infancy, looking like a younger perennial or annual. However, as they grow they show themselves for what they are and are easily spotted.

I believe that gardens are important to God - after all, didn't He choose to place the first man and woman in a garden? Spiritual life died in a garden, God Himself walked in that Garden in the cool of the day, Jesus was buried in a tomb in a garden, and was resurrected in a garden overcoming the spiritual death that was once lost there, and He now shares the abundance of that Life with those who will believe.

As our gardens of friendship flourish and grow, there will be the happy task of sharing our abundance with others...which only enlarges the beauty of our overall garden, which I believe, brings great pleasure to God, Who after all is the Vinedresser (John 15:1).

Yes, God quite often uses the garden to speak to me of deeper truths, and I thank Him for the blessing of each lovely flower and planting that He has placed in my particular life's garden.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Friendship...Further Still

I was thinking that perhaps over the next few days I would post a few thoughts taken primarily from my teaching notes prepared for a class that I gave in early 2008 on the topic of friendship...although it is by no means exhaustive in its scope, I do hope that what you do read will somehow be a blessing, and an encouragement to you. So-o-o, I'm supposin' that this could be considered the first installment!

The words friendship and fellowship are found quite often throughout Scripture and are actually the Old Testament they both come from the same Hebrew transliterated word "COWD" meaning: "a couch, a cushion, a pillow, a friendly conversation among friends". Being very visual and also being particularly partial to cushions and pillows, this paints a beautiful picture to me of the ease and comfortability that true friendship brings.

A few years ago I had been reading a book that contained these lines...

"Oh, the comfort - the inexpressible comfort of feeling safe with a person, having neither to weigh thoughts nor measure words, but pouring them all right out, just as they are, chaff and grain together, certain that a faithful hand will take and sift them, keep what is worth keeping, and then with the breath of kindness, blow the rest away.
Dinah Craik, 1859

Let's be honest, life, even at its best, can be hard - my prayer is that in my friendships, in my fellowships, others may find in me a 'soft place' to land, where they will "neither have to weigh thoughts nor measure their words", but will instead find kindness and faithfulness.

In the New Testament, the Greek transliteration of fellowship is FILIOA meaning: "two fellows in a boat". The Greek translation of friendship is KOINONIA meaning: "fellowship, association, community, communion, joint participation, intimacy."

No matter how we look at it, friendships, in all their various shapes and sizes, are an interaction between us and others that profoundly impact our lives.

While Jesus was on earth, there were relational circles in which He moved and lived - there would have been His relationship with His earthly family...father, mother, brothers, sisters...then His extended family of aunts, uncles, cousins...then His friends, then His acquaintances and then those that came across His path each day...and of course, at the centre would have been His relationship with His Heavenly Father.

We also move and live within relational circles, many of the people in these circles we don't get to choose, and yet there are those that we do get to select and invite into our lives...these are the ones that we are going to be looking at over the next few days. (By the way, speaking of circles, when I was a young girl I memorized this poem, "...he drew a circle that shut me out, a heretic, a rebel, a thing to flout...but love and I had the wit to win...we drew a circle that took him in." I had no idea that one day I would think upon those words in the context of Jesus, coming into a world that for the most part, shut Him out, but love... well, didn't God so love the world that He sent His only begotten Son, that whosoever should believe in Him would not perish but have eternal life? God Himself drew a Circle around this girl that took her in and gave her Life!), but I digress....

From all those that Jesus knew, He chose for Himself twelve; from those twelve there were three that He selected to enter into an even deeper intimacy with Himself. Although there were specific Kingdom purposes in the selection of Peter, James and John from out of the twelve, we can learn from the principles laid out in Scripture as to the choosing and selecting of our own intimate friends.
In the books of Matthew, Luke and John we see Jesus at the beginning of His public ministry, inviting others to follow Him, some of those who did follow Him then in turn invited others. This particular relational circle was beginning to become quite large and encompass many! Yet in Mark 3:13-14 we see something so interesting...
"...and He (Jesus) went up on the mountain and summoned those whom He Himself wanted, and they came to Him. And He appointed twelve, so that they would be with Him...

So out of the many, Jesus chose twelve whom He Himself wanted. This particular circle was now becoming smaller and more intimate.

Then in Matthew 17:1 Jesus then took from these twelve...three.

"...Jesus took with Him, Peter and James and John his brother, and led them up on a high mountain by themselves."

It was here, on this mountain, that they were to experience a revelation, an intimate unveiling of Jesus that they were to keep in confidence and tell no one about until Jesus Himself had risen from the dead (Matt 17:9).

We see these three being chosen also in Mark 5:37 and Luke 8:51 when Jesus was going to the house of the synagogue official, we read..."and He allowed no one to accompany (enter) with Him, except Peter and James and John the brother of James..."

In Matthew 26:26-35, after all the disciples had partaken of the cup and the bread at the Passover meal, Jesus and His twelve went out to the Mount of Olives, in v. 36-39, when they had reached Gethsemane, Jesus said to all His disciples, "Sit here while I go over there and pray. And He took with Him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and began to be grieved and distressed..."

The two sons of Zebedee were James and John, so here, along with Peter, we see these three again being chosen from out of the twelve. Chosen to be with Jesus during a time that He was grieved and distressed. Jesus said to these three, "My soul is deeply grieved, to the point of death; remain here and keep watch with Me."

From Jesus' invitation, many came - yet out of the many, He selected for Himself twelve and then out of the twelve, an even more intimate three. This is a vital and healthy principle that we should incorporate into our own lives as well. That out of our many friendships and acquaintances, out of all those that we do life with, that we have those intimate few that are witnesses not only to our grieving and distress, but to our joys and delights as well, those who come alongside us to encourage and "remain and keep watch". Having said that however, we need to see something else.

v.39 "...And He went a little beyond them, and fell on His face and prayed..."

Friendship is ordained by God, we were never meant to do life alone and isolated. We need our intimate friends, especially during those hard times of life, those that are witnesses to the anguish of our hearts and who can "remain and keep watch" with us. However, there is that point where they must remain and keep watch, and where we must go "a little beyond them"...further still; further still to the place where we meet with God alone, where we fall on our face before Him and allow God to be our most intimate of Friends, beyond all other; the Centre and the Original Circle that begins and ends with only One.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

A Lovely Surprise

Yesterday, I had a rather lovely surprise - my dear friend, along with her husband, dropped by for an unexpected visit. As I was hanging my newly washed and pressed drapes in the bedroom, I heard the doorbell chime and knowing that my husband was close by, and that he would answer, I continued with my project. As soon as I heard her voice I knew who it was, dropping everything I dashed down the hall as she made her way up the stairs with a lovely bouquet of flowers and a card tucked in among the blooms. With a big grin she announced, "Happy Anniversary!"

"Oh!, thankyou!", I exclaimed, as I proceeded to both recieve the flowers and give her a hug.
We had a lovely visit - and by the way...the surprise wasn't the unexpected visit, it's just that our wedding anniversary isn't until next month!

After we both roared with laughter, my dear friend made it quite clear, that when my anniversary does finally arrive, I'm not to be expecting another bouquet of flowers and a card! gotta love 'em!

Thursday, May 14, 2009

I've Been Floored!

Well, after weeks of preparing our home to recieve the new hardwood floors, we are finally seeing some of the rooms come back together again! My "Little Room", where I do all my Bible Study preparation, had the carpeting ripped up only to find tile beneath that had been glued down with some kind of tar like substance, my poor husband!

He spent long hours, late into the evening, getting those tiles off. While he was doing that, I was on staple removal duty! Do you have any idea how many staples are used to secure carpet underlay...ALOT! This was how I spent Mother's Day afternoon and I was as happy as a more staple removed and closer to the goal!

The "Little Room" has been, for the most part, put back together...what a luxury to be able to sit at my desk and have the room to spread out and work! So... here are a few pictures of the "Little Room" and the new floors...and yep, I am sending this to you from my desk by the window, and the sun has decided to show its lovely self and bless me by streaming in!

Now, I'm off to sort through the other rooms in preparation for the downstairs flooring to be installed on Tuesday...(sigh), and the beat goes on...

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Go Be That Woman!

Mothers...the one thing we all have in common is...we all have one! Mothers come in all shapes, sizes and nationalities...some are good, some are bad, some are indifferent. Biological motherhood is not a given to all women...some cannot, some will not, some simply long to be. Some mothers are ready and some mothers are ill-prepared.

This weekend we will be celebrating Mother's Day, not the day, but the women each one of us have come through. For many of us, this will simply be a time to remember...for others of us, it will be a time to make phone calls, send flowers, buy gifts, write out cards, perhaps take our mothers out for brunch or dinner. We will probably find that our attempts to communicate our love will seem so little, but to a mom...well, a little is HUGE!
Mother's Day can also be a time to honor those women who did not give birth to us physically, but who have loved us and poured into our lives as if we were their own.
In Exodus 20:12 we are told to "Honor our father and mother...", of course the original intention was not just one day a year, but every day! This word honor carries with it the meaning of 'giving place to'. We are to give our mothers 'place' in our lives, we can do this in a variety of ways, and yet there are some that have mothers, that to give physical place to them would be unsafe and can still 'honor' your mother and give place to her by thoughtfully and faithfully praying for her.
I think it is telling that the original meaning of the word "mother" is... "a point of departure or division; one who gives birth to; one who gives rise to".
From the moment that a mother gives birth to her child she herself, has begun the journey of learning to let them go. Birth itself is twofold, the birth of a new life...and the birth of a new mom! Once the "departure or division" has occurred through birth, next comes the mother's responsibility of "giving rise" to that child. Needless to say, mothers need the wisdom of God in the "rising" or "raising" of their children!
We women can all be mothers, in the sense that we can all, pour into the lives of those around us...we can give "birth to" and "give rise" to many. Has there been a woman, perhaps your own mother, who has poured into your life that, which has given you rise? Then tell her, share with others and pass the blessing along! Today, give thanks to the woman or women that have given birth to and continue to give rise to you, and perhaps be determined to be that woman, to another...someone whom God has placed in your circle of influence...pouring into their lives all that the Lord has poured into you!

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Just Breathe...

I had such an enjoyable day yesterday! I packed a light lunch and took the ferry across the river to visit one of my favorite little "villages"; I spent the day going in and out of its lovely shops, went to the library and took out some gardening magazines, spent some time at the park, breathing in the fresh air of Spring, writing in my journal and listening to the birds chirping their little hearts out and thinking about Life...
Girls, after almost a year together studying the book of John, with only three weeks left, we draw to the climax of the purpose of the book...
"Therefore many other signs Jesus also performed in the presence of the disciples, which are not written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing you may have life in His name." (John 20:30-31)
As we begin to bring our study in the book of John to a close, let's remember the purpose that lies beyond the cross and allow all that we have learned and recieved to be lived out in the reality of our everyday lives...
our very Breath
our Voice
our Song
our Life.


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