Thursday, August 14, 2014

Is Jesus Your Best Friend...Or Just An Acquaintance?

      Do you have a best friend?  I do.  My best friend (besides my husband...and my daughter) is Robyn.  I have known her for 38 years.  She's in Arizona, and I'm in Indiana. So, needless to say, we don't see each other very much.  In fact, for 17 years we had lost track of one another, and it wasn't until I found her in a phone book while in the Phoenix airport nine years ago, that we reconnected.  Now I look forward to her emails and her phone calls--even messages/comments she puts on Facebook!  It makes me feel closer to her.  And that's important, because she's my best friend.
      During my quiet time recently, I started thinking about the difference between best friends and acquaintances.  Then I realized that for some Christians, Jesus is more of an acquaintance than a best friend. They know Him as their Savior, and they call on Him from time to time, but that's about it.  I speak from experience.  For many years, I would have to say that Jesus was more of an acquaintance to me than a best friend. But for several years now, I can honestly say that He truly has been my best friend.
      This has led me to make several observations, determining the difference between a "best friend" and an "acquaintance."  As you read the following observations, insert the name of your best friend.  Then, insert "Jesus" in place of "best friend." This may help you discover whether or not He truly is your best friend.
  1. There is a noticeable difference between how you feel in the presence of an acquaintance and how you feel when you're around your best friend.
  2. Best friends share the deepest things in their hearts with one another, while acquaintances stay on the "safe" superficial level.
  3. You look forward to the time you get to spend with your best friend; whereas, there is no joyful anticipation when thinking about spending time with an acquaintance.
  4. You purposely set aside time to spend with your best friend, and know that you can call him/her "on a whim." Not so true with an acquaintance.
  5. You want to share your happiness, or your pain, with your best friend more than with anybody else, because you know that he/she will be totally focused on you and will be there for you.
  6. You know your best friend so well, that you can count on knowing how he/she would think or respond in certain situations, and know that you can trust his/her counsel.
      When you meet someone for the first time, they are not immediately your best friend.  It takes time to cultivate a friendship, and even more time to develop a close one.  This is true of our relationship with Jesus. It takes time and effort to get to know Him, but it is time well-spent, and the rewards are amazing...

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Straw, Sticks and Bricks

      One Sunday morning, I heard a sermon preached on this children’s story.  Interesting topic, I thought, but as I listened to the point being made, I realized that this story could teach us some important spiritual lessons.
      God tells us in His Word that He has given us all things that pertain to life and godliness (2 Peter 1:3-4).  We must realize, therefore, that we cannot go through this life with little or no effort on our part, because we have an enemy who is looking, at every turn, for the opportunity to destroy us.  And we cannot become so comfortable with our lives the way they are, that we become complacent in our thinking, for at any moment our lives could drastically change…
      My husband had been working at the same job for most of his adult life.  With his seniority, we felt that his job would be stable and secure until he decided to retire in about 5-8 years.  Then, after almost 26 years of service, he was informed that his plant would be closing and moving to Mexico within one year’s time!  With the economy the way it was, our first reaction could have been one of fear.  But we chose faith instead, because we know upon Whom we have built our foundation, and we believe in His promises!  His Word tells us over and over that He will take care of us, if we put our trust in Him.   We never know what tomorrow will hold, but we know that our future is in His hands.  My husband has since been laid off from his job, but God has been faithful to provide for all of our needs.
      Upon what foundation is your life built?  Your job?  Your marriage?  Your finances?  The problem with building your life upon these things is that they may not last.  The only foundation that will last is the one that is built on Jesus Christ, the Solid Rock.

Straw, Sticks and Bricks

A story is told of the three little pigs,
Who one day set out on their own.
They each built a house: one of straw, one of sticks,
And the third was with bricks hard as stone.

The pigs who built houses of sticks and of straw
Weren’t prepared for the danger ahead.
It came up to their door; then with nowhere to hide
When their houses collapsed, they both fled.

For the houses they built had no substance or strength;
When adversity came, all was lost.
They used what they had just so they could get by,
But they never considered the cost.

The wise pig, who had built his house out of bricks,
Made sure a foundation was laid.
He knew he was safe in a structure so strong,
So that nothing could made him afraid.

When the enemy huffed and he puffed at his house,
His fierceness just faded away.
So up on the roof to the chimney he went
To enter a different way.

But lo and behold! The wise pig was prepared,
For he’d already started a fire.
Descending the chimney, the wolf felt the heat,
And the consequences were dire.

When the enemy tries to encroach on your life,
Make sure your foundation is strong.
With a life built on Jesus, the Solid Rock,
The enemy will not stay around long.

If you find that the enemy tries to persist,
Here’s something else I have learned:
When he’s up against Jesus, he’s playing with fire,
And that’s the worst way to get burned!

(The reflection and poem are an excerpt from Lisa's book, My Heart Makes Its Home in a Faraway Land, available through and

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

My Chains Are Gone; I've Been Set Free!


     Most of us have heard or sung the old familiar hymn, "Amazing Grace."  But there is an additional chorus now that has been attached to it, which caught my attention this morning.  As I heard the phrase:  "My chains are gone; I've been set free," I started thinking about chains.  In Charles Dickens' "A Christmas Carol," it speaks of Jacob Marley wearing chains as he appears as a ghost to Ebenezer Scrooge.  Marley tells Scrooge that he is now wearing the chains that he forged in life, because of the decisions he made that were self-serving.  He was warning Scrooge not to make the same mistakes he made, so that he wouldn't succumb to the same fate.
     When we don't allow the Lord to have control of our lives, or communicate with Him in prayer, it's so easy to be weighed down by invisible chains.  Throughout the day, the enemy uses our weaknesses and our fears to forge these chains.  We don't even realize the chains are there, until we take our eyes off of our circumstances and turn them back to the Lord.  Once our focus is on Him, He has the ability to open our eyes to the chains that have been trying to subjugate us.
     The Lord has been showing me one way of breaking those chains:  by giving thanks in every circumstance.  Yes, it's based on Scripture:  " everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you" (1 Thessalonians 5:18). Giving thanks won't necessarily change our circumstances, but it will change our perspective.  And with every prayer of thanks we utter, a chain link will break!  Let me give you a couple of examples...
     Our car wash business has been running for 14 months now.  Even though the Lord provides every week what we need for our employees' payroll, sometimes it cuts a little too close for comfort.  This can bring stress, which can lead to fear.  Then the enemy can use that fear to forge another chain link.  This morning, as I was writing the paychecks, I thanked the Lord that we have good employees.  Just then, I felt the peace that comes with the breaking of that chain link!  Then, I thought about the medical bills that I have to pay monthly, and I thanked the Lord that there were medical resources that were there to help me last December when I was hospitalized (not to mention in 2006 when I had a ruptured appendix, sepsis and pneumonia). Again, I felt a chain link break!
     Life is going to take us through a lot of uneasy situations. We just have to know how to deal with them. How we view (and handle) those situations will determine if we live a life of freedom, or if we live in bondage to our circumstances by the chains of the enemy. Whenever the stress of a situation starts to bring bondage to your life, take that moment to give God thanks.  Giving thanks to the Lord will break one chain link at a time. And when the chains are finally gone, you will be free!  "Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed."  (John 8:36 NKJV)

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

"And My God Shall Supply All Your Need..."

     This morning, as I was getting ready for work, the thought came into my mind... It sure would be nice if I had a new...  I stopped short when I realized that it wasn't something that I really needed (or had the money for); it just would have been nice to have.  Sound familiar?  Immediately, the Lord reminded me of so many of the things I already have that I could be grateful for.  Funny how the desire for something you don't really need goes away when your mind turns in that direction.  It's like opening a treasure chest you forgot you had, only to discover that it is full of the Father's "good and perfect gifts," that He's consistently given to you through the years!
     When I start to think about what I really do need, and then wonder where the money is going to come from, it's so easy for fear to subtly enter my thoughts.  That's why I have found it is so vital to constantly "wait upon the Lord" (Isaiah 40:31)--or, as my pastor would say, "eagerly expect"--and keep my eyes fixed on Him (Isaiah 26:3).  Fear is dissolved when He quietly reminds me of all the times He has provided for me; even when, at times, it was at the last minute.
     As this song says... I don't deserve His kindness.  None of us do.  But that's who He is.  And I am grateful...

No Greater Love

I know I don't deserve His kindness;
I know I don't deserve His love.
I know, without a shadow of a doubt,
It was His sacrifice upon the cross
That turned my life around.
And I've never been more grateful
Than I am now...

Every good and perfect gift comes from the Father;
Every blessing comes directly from His hand.
Every answer that I see
Proves again His love for me,
Even when the answer's not what I had planned.
Every need He has fulfilled through Christ my Savior,
By His grace and mercy from above.
He'll supply all of my needs--
Far beyond what I can see.
There is no greater love... no greater love!

L. Wimberly

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Life Isn’t Fair, But God is Good

     The longer I live, the more I realize that I don't understand life.  We go through life believing that it should always be good and that we shouldn't have to go through one struggle after another.  But that's not the way life is.  Even Job, who experienced more loss than any of us will ever have to face, said in Job 2:10:  "Shall we indeed accept good from God, and shall we not accept adversity?" 
     Have you ever heard a child say, "That's not fair!"  I have, on more than one occasion, responded to that remark:  "Life isn't fair."  We were never promised in the Bible that our life on this earth would be fair.  In fact, we are told just the opposite... "In the world you will have tribulation..." (John 16:33)  But Jesus goes on to say in the same verse: "These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace..." and "...but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world."  Jesus was preparing us, and He was reassuring us.  The key is to keep the reality of life in perspective and to trust God with every aspect of it.  
     I wrote this poem two years ago for one of our teenage boys in foster care.  It was written in a moment of frustration on my part, but sometimes that is when the truth is the most revealed.  Life is constantly changing, but God never changes (James 1:17)!  And His Word reminds us that though life may not seem fair at times, God is always good!

Life Isn’t Fair, But God is Good

I know that you say that life isn’t fair,
But whoever said life was a game?
You fight and you struggle with each passing day,
Always looking for someone to blame.

But whoever said that life would be fair?
Is it something you think you deserve?
For just when you think everything’s going well,
That’s the time life has thrown you a curve.

God never promised that life would be fair.
In fact, He said there would be pain.
For we are subject to this present world,
Where sin and injustice reign.

But God’s promised that He would be here with us,
Helping us through one day at a time.
He’s given us power to conquer this world,
By renewing and transforming our minds.

For when we believe we deserve so much more,
That’s a lie that the enemy brings.
We can’t let our hearts make their home in this world,
But set them on higher things.

I pray someday you’ll say that though life wasn’t fair,
You’ve regarded your life as you should.
And the wisdom you’ve gained will tell you one thing:
That through it all, God has been good.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Does Life Ever Overwhelm You?

     Sometimes it's easy to become overwhelmed with the cares of life.  This can apply to relationships or finances or even relationships because of finances.  Man may make up rules to suit him and then change them on a whim, but God remains constant.  He is constant in His love for us, constant in providing for us, constant in keeping the rules (laws) and promises He wrote thousands of years ago.  That's why the Bible is living and active.  It never changes.  So when we are overwhelmed by what's going on today in our lives, we can go to the Source, our living God, who already sees what is ahead of us today.  Holding on to the God who created us can give us the security and peace we need to get through this day. That is why Isaiah (26:3-4) says of the Lord, "You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You. Trust in the Lord forever, for in YAH, the Lord, is everlasting strength." (NKJV)  The trust our Father expects from us is the kind of trust that comes naturally to a little child toward his parent.
     I saw that kind of trust on the face of my 21 month-old granddaughter this past weekend. She knew, when her mother asked her what she wanted for lunch, that she would be fed. She didn't see the food, but she knew that her mother would feed her.  It never occurred to her to be afraid that she wouldn't get to eat, because her mother has consistently given her what she needs day after day.  If we really think about it, God does the same thing for us.
     King David said in Psalm 37:25-26, "I have been young, and now am old; yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his descendants begging bread.  He is ever merciful, and lends.  And his descendants are blessed." (NKJV)  I am learning to hold onto these verses. The problem that we as adults have is that we over-think things.  We (sometimes subconsciously) convince ourselves that God is not paying attention to our need.  Or we are in a hurry for God to answer, so we can feel more secure.  But what about the next time and the time after that?
     The answer lies in trusting the Lord in every situation and standing on His promises. Numbers 23:19 says, "God is not a man, that He should lie."  He always keeps His promises. If you are overwhelmed or stressed, read His Word.  If you don't look at what He has promised through Scripture, don't be surprised if the stress stays.  In my quiet time this morning, the Lord reminded me that in His presence is "fullness of joy" (Psalm 16:11).  Since feeling overwhelmed and having fullness of joy cannot occupy the same space, I choose fullness of joy.  
     Which will you choose?


Friday, June 20, 2014

What Would We Do If We Didn't Have the Bible?

What would we do if we didn't have the Bible?
      Have you ever thought about that?  If the Word of God has spoken to you at any time (which, in my case, is every day), where would you be right now if you didn't have it to turn to?  Does it help you in your decision-making?  ("In all your ways, acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths." Proverbs 3:6) Does it help you find peace when you're going through a tough situation?  ("No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it." 1 Corinthians 10:13)  Is it the reason you are alive today?  For me, the answer would be "yes."
      Back when I was 21 years old, I had a "baby's" understanding of the Bible.  In fact, there was a particular verse in 1 Corinthians 3 that, through my misinterpretation of it, kept me from taking my own life. My life had fallen apart when my boyfriend of 2 years (and whom I thought I would marry) broke up with me.  I was beyond devastated.  I felt like I couldn't go on living.  Then this Scripture that I had read led me to believe that if I destroyed this temple (my body), God would destroy me (my soul), and I would spend eternity in Hell.  That's what stopped me.  Scripture had broken through to a mind that had become almost despondent.  Isn't it great that God can use our limited understanding of the Bible and make it turn out for our good?  But what if I hadn't had the Bible to turn to?
      That brings me to my point...
      How well do you know Scripture?  If your Bible was taken away, how much would you remember about what you have read?  It is not beyond the bounds of reality that one day the Bible could be banned. Each day we are getting closer to the Day of the Lord.  And with the way the world is heading, our Bibles might actually be taken away from us.  This is not something to be taken lightly.  It has already happened in other parts of the world, and it could very well happen here someday.
      I remember the mid-70's, when Bibles were being smuggled into Russia.  I would hear stories about what price Christians had to pay for their faith.  One man said that when they got hold of a Bible, they tore out the pages, giving each believer one page. Each person committed to memory the front and back of that page of Scripture, in case the page was found and taken away.  That way if there were no written pages left, they would still be able to accurately share the Word of God with each other.  Are you ready to be that radical?  If so, what are you doing today to get to know God's Word better and hide it in your heart? It's something to seriously think about--not just for you, but for the generation to come..