Clear Intensions

Honesty is the best policy. Always be clear in your intensions when interacting with others.

Dining table

I am reminded of when some people I met in passing, a couple, invited me to visit their home for the afternoon. I had recently moved into the neighborhood. I had not started my new job and had not met anyone in town yet. They were friendly people and wanted to extend their friendship to me. I accepted the invitation to spend the afternoon with them. We had a great time. We shared appetizers and enjoyed a very fine bottle of wine. At some point, I glanced down at my watch and noticed it was approaching 5:00 P.M. In my mind, that meant it would soon be dinnertime, and I felt I should leave so the couple could start preparing dinner.

I thanked them for a beautiful time, and just as I was standing, the wife
said, “No, please, sit. Stay a while longer.”

“Oh, thank you,” I said, “It’s almost dinnertime, and I really should be going.”

“No, please,” the husband said, “Join us for dinner.” And, the husband looked at his wife for confirmation.

The wife confirmed with a resounding, “Yes. Please stay.” She continued, “I have a nice beef stew cooking in the crockpot, and I already made cornbread for dinner, so there is plenty of food for all of us.”

With that, we moved into the dining room. The husband graciously pulled out a chair for me to sit and he poured a glass of wine for me to enjoy while he and his wife went into the kitchen to prepare dinner.

But here is where the story gets sticky.

I overheard the wife ask her husband, “Why is she still here?”

To which her husband replied, “Well, you invited her, dear.”

“She’s eating up all of our food!” The wife made it sound like I was an uninvited guest.

At that point, it was a little bit awkward for me. After hearing the couple’s conversation, I wanted to change my mind about dinner, but before I could say anything, the husband entered the dining room and set out the dining wear. Following him, the wife arrived with a tray that held a large serving bowl of the beef stew. She retreated back to the kitchen and then returned with a little basket of cornbread. The husband said grace. Afterward, I served myself a small portion of stew and half a serving of cornbread. After all, I didn’t want to eat up all of their food.

Can you imagine what was going on in my head during that meal? I sat wondering where I might have misunderstood the wife’s invitation. I asked myself whether she genuinely invited me to dinner or pretended to be polite in asking, and I should have been polite in declining the offer.

Before I could take my last bite of food, the husband proceeded to pour another glass of wine, but I opted for a glass of water instead. I was preparing for my exit and did not want to be rude by leaving a freshly poured glass of wine, and much worse, eating and leaving too quickly, as social norms dictate that we should not eat and run. Nevertheless, the tension in my head was mounting. I could not wait any longer to get out of that house. And so, by social principles, I probably egressed too soon because after taking a couple of sips of water, I rudely glanced down at my watch, made up some phony excuse for leaving, stood up, and tried to sound as gracious as I could as I headed toward the front door to leave.

Where am I going with this story?

I think I am telling this story to say that confusion sets in, and feelings get hurt when we are not clear with our intentions. When unambiguously this couple invited me to dinner, they actually wanted me to leave. When I made a motion to go, they should have allowed me to leave. Instead, they encouraged me to overstay my welcome. I do not believe they intended for me to overhear their little kitchen conversation, and I do not think they intended to hurt me. I think their ultimate goal was to make me feel like they were overly hospitable entertainers. On the other hand, I should have been mindful of their time and left when I felt my time was up.

Let your yes be yes

The bible teaches us much about being forthright and sincere. It teaches us
that we should refrain from lying or being deceitful.

The Lord asks us to live a life of honesty when dealing with our spouses,
children, workmates, neighbors, in essence, all people with which we come in contact.

Scriptures about being forthright

The following scriptures are from the New International Version (NIV) unless otherwise stated.

Proverbs 24:26
26 An honest answer is like a kiss on the lips.

Matthew 5:37
37 “Simply let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No,’ be ‘No’; anything beyond this comes from the evil one.

1 John 3:18
18 Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth.

Proverbs 6:16-19
16 There are six things the Lord hates, seven that are detestable to him:
17 haughty eyes, a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood, 18 a heart that devises wicked schemes, feet that are quick to rush into evil, 19 a false witness who pours out lies and a man who stirs up dissension among brothers.

Matthew 7:16
16 By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles?

Ecclesiastes 7:20-22 (Good News Translation)
20 There is no one on earth who does what is right all the time and never makes a mistake. 21 Don’t pay attention to everything people say—you may hear your servant insulting you, 22 and you know yourself that you have insulted other people many times.

Keep it real

It is a fact that none of us are perfect. We quickly and easily slip into sin, sometimes before we are even aware of it. We all sin, and, thankfully, we are saved by the great, forever grace of God.

Being dishonest is a sin.

That couple who invited me to stay for dinner should have been forthright and clear in their intentions. If they did not want me to stay for dinner, they should not have invited me. And, truthfully, I should have been more honest too. I should have just gone home like I wanted to. My inner voice told me to leave, and if I had been honest with myself, if I had been honest about how I truly felt, then goodwill would have served all.

I will try harder to listen to my inner voice, which frequently when the voice speaks for good, how amazing it is that it tends to be the voice of God.

My dear friends, for a life filled with goodness and peace, it is wise to stay real, stay honest, and stay in the word of God.

Always remember that when you fall short of your goal to live upright, our God is a loving and forgiving God. Take your shortcomings to the Lord. Ask Him for forgiveness, and God will give you forgiveness without hesitation. And just like that, your inequities are wiped away, and you are as good as new.

May you walk in righteousness, knowing you serve the most powerful and mighty God of the world. 

Who Do You Love?

Who do you love?

If you knew your life on earth was coming to an end and if you only had one thing you were allowed to share to one person on earth, who would that person be and what would you share?

I don’t often think of this question because it is somewhat morbid, but recent events in my life have made me aware that there might come a time in my life when I may only have a moment to share my final words with the one I very deeply care about.

I thought about it a lot today and decided that to the love of my life I would say, “I love you. I love you like I have never loved before.”

Friends, this person who I love so deeply has shown me what true love is.

I love how this person looks at me with admiration, as if I am the most important person in the world, without judgment, without condemnation. I want to spend the rest of my life with this person. Forever could never come too soon. I do not even know if it makes sense, forever never coming too soon. It doesn’t matter. What matters is that I am in love with someone who I want to spend eternity with. Today, tomorrow, forever!

Our love is undeniable, unquenchable, and it cannot be undone.

Friends, what I have described here is a love that I have with someone on earth, and the truth of the matter is that this is the same kind of love that I have for my Heavenly Father and it is the same kind of love that our Heavenly Father has for us.

The Love of Our Father

Scripture is the word, and the word is truth. My friends, I hope that the following scriptures bring forth the knowledge of the love our Father has for you. I hope as you read these scriptures that you come to understand how much you are loved by God in heaven and by the brothers and sisters in Christ that He has placed in your life to love you on earth.

We are saved from our sins. Jesus loves us so much He suffered and died on the cross for us.

Ephesians 2:4-7
But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ – by grace you have been saved – and raised up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.

1 John 4:7-8
Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.

Romans 5:2-5
Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.

We do not have to earn God’s love. God demonstrated His love by His sacrifice of Jesus who died on the cross for us. We do not have to work toward being loved by God. He gives it to us freely.

God’s love is steadfast and unchanging. It comforts us. It is revealed to us through Jesus Christ, It is poured into us through the Holy Spirit. It compels us to love one another as brothers and sisters in Christ.

There is no end to this kind of love. When you have it, you know it, and there is no way you will ever let it end.

Who Do You Love?

As I have asked myself this question, I ask you the same: Who do you love, and what would you say to that person if you had only a moment in time to say it to them?

Well then… go say it to them now while you have the chance.

The Gift of Love

Our Father gives us a gift of love that we can share with someone until we meet Him in Heaven. This kind of love is indescribable. It is a kind of love that is only a smidgen of the measure of the love waiting for us in heaven. You will know it when you receive it and when you receive it you will never want to let it go.

My hope to you, friends, is that you find this kind of love with someone. And when you do find this kind of love, my hope is that you would share this love with others so that they too may feel, through you, an amazingly beautiful kind of unending love.

Today’s Video: Only You Can Love Me This Way

While not a worship song, per se, today’s video speaks to the kind of love we receive from our Heavenly Father. Friends, no one loves us like our Father. His love is deep and lasts for an eternity. May you be loved by the Father in Heaven and may you also have someone on earth who loves you in a way that is worthy of your love in return.

Song Title: Only You Can Love Me This Way
Copyrights: 2009 Capitol Records Nashville
Written by: Steve McEwan and John Reid
Performed by: Keith Urban

Love can be never-ending.

What Are Friends For?

Friends are for love.

My journey in love continues and each day I learn more about love than ever before. First, the realization that God loves me through anything and everything I do. Whether I am good or bad, He still loves me. That kind of unconditional love astounds me, yet it comforts me to know that no matter what I do in life, I will be loved forever. As stated in Romans 8:38-39, no one or nothing can separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord!

Now these three remain: faith, hope, and love. But the greatest of these is love.

1Corinthians 13:13

Out of everything we can hope for in life, God says that the greatest gift is love.

I have spoken these things to you so that My joy may be in you and your joy may be complete. This is My command: Love one another as I have loved you. No one has greater love than this, that someone would lay down his life for his friends. You are My friends if you do what I command you. I do not call you slaves anymore, because a slave doesn’t know what his master is doing. I have called you friends, because I have made known to you everything I have heard from My Father.

John 15:12-15

As I get closer to God, I discover the love my Father has for me and the importance of love to be found in friendship. I discover that God considers me His friend. How cool is that? God is my friend and I am a friend of God!

What are friends for?

As I search in the bible for verses that explain what it means to have friends, I have come to the realization that we are designed to have friends and we are ordered to be good friends to others.

Proverbs 17:17
A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for a difficult time.

Ecclesiastes 4:9-10
Two are better than one because they have a good reward for their efforts. For if either falls, his companion can lift him up; but pity the one who falls without another to lift him up.

Proverbs 18:24
A man with many friends may be harmed, but there is a friend who stays closer than a brother.

Proverbs 27:5-6
Better an open reprimand than concealed love. The wounds of a friend are trustworthy, but the kisses of an enemy are excessive.

Blessed by Friendship
My dear guests, I must share that I have been blessed with God’s greatest gift of all… the gift of love and not just any kind of love, but the love of a true friend who is someone I cherish, someone I can say that I would go to the ends of the earth with, someone I can share my life with, someone who doesn’t judge me, someone who sees me and all my flaws and loves me just the same.

This friend of mine is a confidant, for sure. At the same time, I trust my friend to offer counsel when it is needed.   

I can run to my friend in all things –  to share joyous times, as well as to cry in times of sorrow and know that my friend will lift me up and carry me though whatever I am suffering.

The greatest gift you will ever receive in life is the love of our most High and Gracious God. His love is undeniable and His love lasts a lifetime and beyond. And, in His love for us, He grants us with the love that can be found in friendship, a valuable gift to be shared with others during our lifetime on earth.

It is my hope and prayer that you would be blessed this day in God’s love and that you would find a friend on earth to love and to be loved into eternity.

Today’s Video
That’s What Friends Are For, performed by Dionne Warwick and friends Gladys Knight, Elton John, and Stevie Wonder.

This song captured my heart, particularly the chorus which speaks to a basic component of friendship.

Keep smiling, keep shining
Knowing you can always count on me, for sure
That’s what friends are for
In good times and bad times
I’ll be on your side forever more
That’s what friends are for

How Much Are You Loved?

Imagine how much God loves you!

As we come to the end of the year, many of us are taking a look at the things we have accomplished, relationships past and present, the good times, the bad times, the highs, and the lows. And, while reflecting, we bring out what I like to call our life calculators, determining in one moment how successful we have been all year. We are needlessly hard on ourselves, judging ourselves for no reason.

Honestly, sometimes, no matter what we do, life just happens! Some of it will be good and some of it will be challenging. Sometimes we will come out ahead and sometimes we will fall behind. In the end, with the Lord’s help we endure.

Whatever is happening in our life, no matter how we are feeling at any moment, when we need a pick-me-up, we need to call upon the Lord. He will be there for us. There is no greater feeling than the love that comes from our Father. And, when we feel lonely, when we feel unloved, and when we call upon the Lord, He will meet us wherever we are, wrapping His majestic arms around us, showing us His mighty and never ending love.

This year, as you contemplate how much you matter in this world; remember you are loved to no end.

With the Lord, there is always hope for a future filled with love.

For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Romans 8:37-39

Song: How Much
Released: 2009
Video Performance by: Mandisa

The Gift of Friends

Friends for Life!

Life is filled with trials, tribulations, and a whole lot of stuff that can bring us down and as scripture shows, we cannot live a fulfilling life without friends.

God asks us to have good friends who can help guide us through this life on earth.

Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.

Galatians 6:2

This year, I have had the great fortune of re-discovering a friend who I have known since high school. We have rekindled a friendship flame that the Lord started some 49 years ago. Guided by the Lord, we lift each other up in prayer and we love each other in the spiritual manner in which the Lord blesses among friends.

Sweet friendships refresh the soul and awaken our hearts with joy, for good friends are like the anointing oil that yields the fragrant incense of God’s presence.

Proverbs 27:9-11 The Passion Translation (TPT)

I encourage you to keep close contact with your friends and also to make a re-connection with an old friend. When you engage in developing a lifelong friendship, you will be amazingly rewarded by the kind of love that sustains your life and builds your hope for the future.

Faithful friends are the gifts of love that last a lifetime.