What HE calls me…

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I’ve been called some nasty names behind my back because of my love for Jesus. And no, it’s not “religion” (gag); it’s LOVE in relationship. Well, short and sweet today, here’s what God has told me HE calls me (and HIS Word is true, faithful, loving, Righteous, Holy, alive and active, strong!):

you will be called by a new name
    that the mouth of the Lord will bestow.
You will be a crown of splendor in the Lord’s hand,
    a royal diadem in the hand of your God.
No longer will they call you Deserted,
    or name your land Desolate.
But you will be called Hephzibah,[a]
    and your land Beulah[b];
for the Lord will take delight in you,
    and your land will be married.
As a young man marries a young woman,
    so will your Builder marry you;
as a bridegroom rejoices over his bride,
    so will your God rejoice over you….The Lord has made proclamation
    to the ends of the earth:
“Say to Daughter Zion,
    ‘See, your Savior comes!
See, his reward is with him,
    and his recompense accompanies him.’”
12 They will be called the Holy People,
    the Redeemed of the Lord;
and you will be called Sought After,
    the City No Longer Deserted.   
Isaiah 62: 3-5, 12 NIV

They will be called oaks of righteousness,
    a planting of the Lord
    for the display of his splendor.

They will rebuild the ancient ruins
    and restore the places long devastated;
they will renew the ruined cities
    that have been devastated for generations.
Strangers will shepherd your flocks;
    foreigners will work your fields and vineyards.
And you will be called priests of the Lord,
    you will be named ministers of our God.
You will feed on the wealth of nations,
    and in their riches you will boast.

Instead of your shame
    you will receive a double portion,
and instead of disgrace
    you will rejoice in your inheritance.
And so you will inherit a double portion in your land,
    and everlasting joy will be yours.

8 “For I, the Lord, love justice;    I hate robbery and wrongdoing.In my faithfulness I will reward my people    and make an everlasting covenant with them.9 Their descendants will be known among the nations    and their offspring among the peoples.All who see them will acknowledge    that they are a people the Lord has blessed.” Isaiah 61: 3-9
You are altogether beautiful, my darling;    there is no flaw in you. Song of Songs 4:7 NIV
From the ends of the earth I call to you,    I call as my heart grows faint;    lead me to the rock that is higher than I.3 For you have been my refuge,    a strong tower against the foe.4 I long to dwell in your tent forever    and take refuge in the shelter of your wings.[b]5 For you, God, have heard my vows;    you have given me the heritage of those who fear your name.Psalm 61: 2-5 NIV
My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. 13 Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. 14 You are my friends if you do what I command. 15 I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. 16 You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit-fruit that will last-and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you. 17 This is my command: Love each other. John 15: 12-17 NIV
And these words aren’t just for me; they’re for everyone who calls  Jesus/Yeshua  Savior, Redeemer, Lord, God, King, Lion of Judah, Lamb of God, Friend
Now HIS question to YOU is, are YOU a friend TO Him? Does anybody know it?  Can anybody see it? Have you – here comes the ”scary” challenge to “church people” – TOLD anybody (yes with your words so they don’t  just think you’re a nice person) who HE is to you (including why JESUS IN you MAKES you “nicer” than you could be by yourself!!!!) and who HE could be and wants to be to them? Do other people know you’re free to bless them – even the ones who call you names – because Jesus says you’re HIS, delighted in and chosen?
We love to sing “What a friend we have in Jesus,” so how about loving to sing ”What friend I am to Jesus, all his greatness/goodness/mercy to proclaim! What  privilege to carry out His love to praise His name!”
Just sayin’……. myself included, maybe today we should all get OFF our “…BUT…” ’s  and live like HE matters!

 

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I Want (to be like) Candy

Rear view of three young female friends at music festival

This title is from an old song by the Strangeloves in 1965. The lyrics for the first verse are:

I Want Candy
By The Strangeloves
I know a girl who’s soft and sweet
She’s so fine, she can’t be beat
Got everything that I desire
Sets the summer sun on fire
I want Candy, I want Candy

I know a woman named Candy. Nobody would give her a second look. Yes, she has long flowing hair, but there her resemblance to the girl on the beach in 1965 ends. Strangely enough, I know this Candy is infinitely more beautiful than the Candy of the Bo-Diddly beat, and if I could have a heart half as caring and kind as hers, I’d be glad, because Candy’s self-less self-giving love humbles me.

I met her one morning at church in our women’s ministry: long hair stringing straight down, carrying extra pounds, some teeth broken, wearing glasses, shorter than my 5’5″, not well-educated, completely ingenuous and genuine, from somewhere around the hills of West Virginia, a woman who used the phrase “I might could …” betraying her humble roots. There I was, the morning speaker for the message, table discussion leader, former National Merit Scholar, blessed with a good education, born in the Midwest where yes, my extended family used the term “red up” to mean clean the table, but I’d never said that in my life. Candy was the kind of person that some shy away from in order to not be considered as simple and “un-cool” as she. We shared wearing glasses and we shared loving Jesus. I might have been delivering the morning message, but I had a lot to learn from Candy.

We’d talk when we met in the lobby at church, but I never called her or went to lunch with her. Some days she needed a ride to the women’s meetings, and I’d pick her up and return her home. There I was, doing my “good Christian duty.” Oh, was I about to be set straight! Candy volunteered with the “Friendship Class” at our church, a Sunday School class for the developmentally disabled, including quite a few adults with Down’s Syndrome. She loved those people with such respect and compassion that I began to marvel at the heart in this woman.

Candy talked with real admiration about comments some of the class members made on Sunday mornings. She was always ready to serve in women’s  ministry, too, helping set and clear tables, giving hugs to anyone who would accept one. She beamed when she and the other class leaders led the Friendship Class onto the stage at church to sing in our Sunday morning services. They always got a standing ovation! Some Sundays they put on skits, and there was hardly a dry eye in the house. Several of those childlike young people also helped usher on Sunday mornings, and why not? Weren’t they fully vested Christians too? Didn’t they merit a chance to use their gifts to serve? Didn’t Jesus count them worthy of shedding his blood and enduring the whip and the cross that they could know how deeply, desperately, relentlessly God loves them?

Candy cried with me when my husband left me and the rug got pulled out from under all I’d cherished and believed – with no recrimination, no condemnation, no “What didn’t you do right?” She simply loved from that genuine, kind, simply good, simply Christlike  heart of hers, and I was grateful. I needed her friendship more than she ever needed a car ride from me.

But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” 1 Samuel 16:7 NIV

Brothers and sisters, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. God chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him. It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God—that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption. 31 Therefore, as it is written: “Let the one who boasts boast in the Lord.” 1 Corinthians 1:26-31 NIV

So, rightly humbled and blessed and honored to call her my friend – I Want (to be like) Candy, a woman soft-hearted and sweet, fine as gold refined in the fire with a heart few others could claim to approximate. Yes, Candy does have something I desire very much: to love with the selfless, caring, joyfully appreciating and others-validating heart of Jesus. Candy, I respect, honor, admire, and love you, my teacher and my friend!

A “…BUT…” to move:  God, I am so quick to judge and compare people based on outward appearances or superficial qualities before I even take  a few minutes to see who they are in character and heart. Help me, Father, to see the good in ___________________________ today and give me an opportunity to tell __________________________________ how much I value him/her. Keep my eyes open for others who need to know how truly wonderful they are, and give me eyes to see below the surface and honor as you do what you’ve placed inside them. And Lord, when I feel I don’t measure up to the standards others set for me, help me to be gracious and to remember that you dance over me with singing. (Zeph 3:17)