Some believe it is not what you know but who you know.
Do you know the LORD God?
“It happened after this that the people of Moab with the people of Ammon, and others with them besides the Ammonites, came to battle against Jehoshaphat. Then some came and told Jehoshaphat, saying, ‘A great multitude is coming against you from beyond the sea, from Syria; and they are in Hazazon Tamar’ (which is En Gedi). And Jehoshaphat feared, and set himself to seek the Lord, and proclaimed a fast throughout all Judah. So Judah gathered together to ask help from the Lord; and from all the cities of Judah they came to seek the Lord.
Then Jehoshaphat stood in the assembly of Judah and Jerusalem, in the house of the Lord, before the new court, and said: ‘O Lord God of our fathers, are You not God in heaven, and do You not rule over all the kingdoms of the nations, and in Your hand is there not power and might, so that no one is able to withstand You? Are You not our God, who drove out the inhabitants of this land before Your people Israel, and gave it to the descendants of Abraham Your friend forever?And they dwell in it, and have built You a sanctuary in it for Your name, saying,‘If disaster comes upon us—sword, judgment, pestilence, or famine—we will stand before this temple and in Your presence (for Your name is in this temple), and cry out to You in our affliction, and You will hear and save (2 Chronicles 20:1-9 NKJV).”
How old is too old, too set in our ways? Advancing in years does seem a detriment to seeking radical change. Yet, we can start anew at any age. Let me introduce a man I refer to only as ‘Sam.’ When we first met, he was, I would guess in his mid sixties and retired from the military. He had not retired from life.
Sam busied himself with farming, a well-stocked fishpond, and a woodworking shop. His wife would be retiring soon and they decided to begin a small business in preparation. He opened a gift shop, where in addition to mail order items; he would offer his wife’s ceramics. Already friends, he hired me to serve as clerk (and coffee maker). It was in a small town strip mall.
The manager of the shops was the wife of a local pastor. Conversation came easy for Sam. Conversion had not. His wife was a dedicated Christian and had prayed for his salvation for many years. My husband and I were concerned about him; the always-cheerful strip mall manager was as well. Much to our surprise, Sam made a ‘John Deere’ decision.
The Lord had been tugging at his heart. One day, when working atop his tractor he detoured from the field to a highway and drove to town to talk with the husband-pastor of the manager we had both come to love. Sam got right with his maker and made Jesus his Savior and Lord. We witnessed his water baptism and his change of heart.
Sam, along with his wife, now abides forever with the Lord in heaven. His ‘John Deere’ detour and decision proved he was not too old for transformation.[Romans 10:9-13]
When was the last time you ran a support systems check? Each time a private plane operator prepares to board their plane, they first do a full round of examination, followed by a verbal “Check!” Any counselor worth his or her salt will recommend a strong support system to patients. I need people I can trust in times of crisis.
“Love is always supportive, loyal, hopeful, and trusting. Love never fails (1 Corinthians 13:7-8 CEV)!” I know my family and friends form an invisible support system creating a barrier against discouragement. Through thick and thin, sunshine and rain, rejoicing or sorrow…I face each tomorrow, supported by loved ones.
As a writer, I get emotional each time I hear narratives of Laura Ingalls and JohnBoy Walton. Their descriptive entries into journals are like music to my ears. Through my imagination, I share Christmas on Walton’s Mountain and Walnut Grove. I learn the real meaning of Christmas.
The number of gifts, their sizes or the price tags does not measure a Merry Christmas. With Laura and John Boy, I discover joy in relationships and find warmth and security in a place called home. Their gifts were meager; yet, they treasured a wealth of family experiences.
Not all have the wealth of Magi. They offered their treasures to the newborn King. “Then they opened their treasures and presented Him with gifts: gold, frankincense, and myrrh (Matthew 2:11b HCS).” If you have faith, family and friends, you know the real meaning of Christmas.
I did not recall The Threepenny Opera, but it birthed the song Mack the Knife which became a popular recording for Louis Armstrong and a #1 hit record for Bobby Darin in 1959. I sang along to lyrics with little thought to the meaning of the song. Today, the title is a springboard to someone I knew and loved.
Mac the Sword, Reverend Mac Forbes served the Lord as a dedicated pastor up until the time of his death, wielding the word of God as a tool of testimony. “And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God (Ephesians 6:17 NAS).” He stood upon the bedrock authority of God’s infallible word as he humbly filled the pulpit answering God’s calling to preach Jesus crucified, buried and resurrected.
Brother Mac loved his Lord and shared that love with those he met as freely as the forgiveness of sin he had received. His warm smile and Alabama southern drawl had a way of soothing a soul and stirring a hungry heart. Mac stood on his convictions and saw potential in young men in his midst. Through his influence and mentoring, Alabama has a group characterized as Mac’s preacher boys, who carry on in his footsteps.
He once served in Pioneer Missions work in New York State, not very far from my birthplace and we shared a love for the people in the central New York State rural areas. He told the story of leaving that productive work following a heart attack, returning to Alabama with his wife and children to ease his beloved’s concerns. Part of his heart remained in the Empire State…
“Mac, I’ll never forget you and hope to be worthy of our Lord as I live by the power of the sword.”
“For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart (Hebrews 4:12 NAS).”
Growing up, I lived in a small country neighborhood in upstate New York. In nice weather, most children would be outside playing. Many families then were larger than now, and it did not take long to get a crowd together for games or exploring. There were five children in our family, six across the road, twelve in the house on the corner, and a number more in our close-knit community.
We did not have the luxury of cell phones, beepers or even walkie-talkies. When we wanted someone, we just yelled out his or her name. A McIntosh apple orchard behind our house gave children fun opportunities to climb trees, pick apples, and explore. I remember our secret call to others, Kee-aw-kee, come to me!
Friends or siblings would come running when that message filled the air. A few years ago, while watching an old Lassie show rerun, I heard Timmy and his neighborhood friend use the same phrase while playing together. I guess that may be where we picked it up. I did some quick internet searching to see if it is an Indian translation for come to me, but I did not locate my answer. I guess I’ll settle for an unsolved mystery with my childhood memories. When the Lord calls us, we don’t need a secret message from Him. “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow Me (John 10:27 NAS).” Here I come!
It was said of Abraham that he was a friend of God. What a marvelous statement about any person Think about what all friendship involves.
My best friend is my husband of 55 years. He knows more about me than any other living soul. Yet he still loves me, warts and all. He knows where I keep the coffee cups and the spoons. He knows where to put the dirty laundry. He knows that I snore. That is because we abide together. He knows my joys and my sorrows. He knows simple things; like I like to eat sandwiches of anything. These are probably things about me that others do not know…or care. We can spend hours together never uttering a word and then suddenly both say the same thing simultaneously.
There are other friends in my life who know secrets from my heart. We have laughed and cried together over events for many years. They, too, know my joys and sorrows. I may call on them at anytime for a cup of coffee, a visit, a prayer. We have even prayed over the telephone together as I cry and they pray. There are those who have given me little gifts (for no reason other than love) at no eventful time. They leave a small package on the seat of my car, or on my doorknob at home. What a friend!
Beloved, we all have such a friend. (Not one with skin on as the little boy is noted for saying). But we have a friend who loves to abide with us. What a privilege to abide with the Living God! He would like to walk with us in our garden as He did with Adam. He would love to call us friend as He did Abraham. Perhaps He would like to know us as a “child after His Own Heart” as He did King David. He already knows your our intimate secrets; but He would like to reveal some of His secrets to us.
Our Father wants to hear from us about the secret things of our hearts…our joys, our sorrows, our desires. He wants to know the simple things like our concerns over our children’s grades in schools, what can I do to stretch my time as a wife and mother or grandmother? He listens to our frustrations and our victories (say, Father, did You know my husband got a raise today; my child made an A in math. WOW) He can know these things from us because we choose to abide with Him. Abiding indicates quality time spent together.
He already leaves little gifts for us all over the place. What was that special hug from my child or that smile from my baby if it wasn’t a Gift from God? Who do we think arranges for those A’s in life and those raises that come unexpectedly? What was that beautiful day of sunshine shedding its light over the ountryside? What was that refreshing rain cooling off the parched land? What is that “Peace that passes all understanding” in a time of trial? Where’d that come from anyway?
We can spend much time together…never saying a word, just listening; and all of a sudden the Heavenly Father, the Creator of the Universe, speaks to my heart revealing His Heart and His plans for me. He reassures me of His love. He gives me glimpses of His secrets.
Dear Heart, Friends love to be together and to share. The mark of a true friend is their availability to us when we need, and their undying friendship regardless of our faults. We have such a Friend…and What a Friend He is. Enjoy Him
“Dearest Father, What a Friend we have in You all ‘because of what Christ has done in dying for our sins…making us friends of God’. (Psalm 5:11 Living Bible) Help us to take every advantage of that friendship by abiding in You and Your Word. ‘I come to the Garden alone; while the dew is still on the roses.’ Amen”
As children our surroundings seem bigger than life. Things tower above us. My memories hold many of those shadowy giants. Each time I have the opportunity to return to my old neighborhood it’s such a revelation, to see how small everything actually is. I’m surprised to see the houses and especially our front yard.
A very special old house stood at the head of the road. It had been the home place of my Dad, his parents, and older brothers. Dad grew up there, when it served as a working farm. He told me stories of Grandma fixing big meals for them and their hired hands. In my earliest memories I visited Grandma and Grandpa in the big old house. Shortly after, they moved from there to live with my aunt and uncle in a smaller house on the corner. The old house featured very large rooms, both upstairs and down, and wonderful porches. An open porch wrapped all around the front and one side of the house. A big screened sun porch faced the highway from upstairs.
If this were the end of my attraction to this big house it would still be special, but the story continues. My best childhood friend made the old house her home on a couple of occasions. Her family owned the local gas station and at times she lived in a smaller home at the side of the service station. The years she spent in the big house were exciting. We played in the large closets and slept on the sun porch during hot summer nights. Her parents even transformed an old hen house into a playhouse. Together we walked the long upstairs hallway. The long stairs felt the pitter-patter of our feet.
Years passed and new owners turned the structure into an apartment house. I would visit the newest occupants in this strangely familiar setting. Under new paint and paneling, there stood that same old home place. I married and moved out of the state. During returning trips to visit my parents I felt the warmth of that old house again. My younger sister married and lived in one of the apartments with her husband and little boy. My feet again walked the floors of this historic house.
My latest update on the big old house brings sadness. On vacation last summer we drove through my old stomping ground. When we viewed the house it almost took my breath away. Signs indicated it might be close to destruction. It looked very much like homes all across America, neglected, run down, and no longer safe. So, the next time I drive through that area I am prepared to see a vacant lot, or maybe a newly constructed house. Things change and people change, but they can’t take away my memories. We have all heard the expression, if those walls could talk… I wonder what stories that old house could have shared. Maybe it would reveal stories of my Dad’s childhood pranks and laughter, or secrets of two school girl chums.