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Newsletter  -  Wednesday, March 25, 2009

And to my beloved son/daughter, I leave my most prized possession…

Numerous real-life dramas, books and movies are based on the contents of one’s will and the recipients there of. The tension rises as everyone waits to hear what he or she will receive and the value of their inheritance.

When my nana passed away a few years ago, the diamond ring she left me was not the treasure I held dear. You see, I was Nana’s girl so the items that invoked the memories of our relationship were the precious possessions I sought. The red stool I stood on as a child to brush my teeth when I spent the night at Nana and Papa’s and the chipped green bowl I ate my cereal out of when we had breakfast together are happily mine now.

What I truly cherished most from Nana’s belongings were two old games, “Yahtzee” and “Aggravation”. During spring break, summer vacation and long weekends I would spend as much time at Nana’s as I could. We would put up her card table and play “Yahtzee” for hours at a time. Why was this game so important to me? Because those hours of rolling dice and counting points were filled with laughter and honest talk. No subject was off limits. I couldn’t wait until we sat down to that table; hours flew by and I gained so much wisdom. We really knew each other and loved each other. Relationship happened.

And the “Aggravation” game? Well, that was a game my nana and papa played regularly with their best friends, Dude and Lil Best. Nana kept all the scorecards with the dates of each game. The two couples got together at least twice a week to play “Aggravation” and I smile when I see my name added to the foursome because I remember all the times I got to play with them. Witnessing this incredible, real, wonderful relationship between my grandparents and their friends gave me another example of real love.

During Jesus’ last moments with His disciples, He laid out His last will and testament for their lives. Knowing that soon He would be taken to His death, Jesus implores those who are listening to do His will so that they can qualify to be recipients of His will. Let’s look at how He shares this in John 15:9-17:

9. As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love.  (See last month’s newsletter for more about remaining in Jesus.)

10. If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father's commands and remain in His love.

11. I have told you this so that My joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.

12. My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.

13. Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his 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 to go and bear fruit --fruit that will last. Then the Father will give you whatever you ask in My name.

17. This is My command: Love each other.

In this busy, high-tech age of texting, email, and HDTV, our relationships have become exceedingly shallow. We often settle for small talk three minutes before or after a church gathering and call it friendship. We chatter about nothing around the water cooler at work. Some people even settle for false relationships through the Internet. Are we closing ourselves off from being transparent whilst floating in the sea of false intimacy where we call our acquaintances our friends? In a land that has cheapened the word “love”, we have set aside true sacrificial love and assigned that name to our warm, fuzzy, happy feelings. No wonder depression, suicide, pornography, substance abuse, and bitterness plagues not only the people of the world, but the church. We are lonely and have missed out on having the inheritance of joy Jesus left us because we haven’t obeyed His command: Love each other.

I recently went to a baby shower in which all the women worked in various areas of a church nursery. Except for chatter about the kids’ church, it was a quiet shower. I don’t attend that church, so even I contributed very little. It was obvious, though, that these women had never taken the time to build a relationship outside the Sunday service. Where is the love?

“Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.” For us that doesn’t mean a physical death but rather to lay down the things that make up our lives…the busy schedule, the “to do list”, etc. and take time to invest in real friendships.

Let’s be real, yes, I am speaking to myself too. We stack our weeks so tightly with work, school, sports and dance classes for the kids, church programs, church Bible studies, favorite TV shows, computer Internet searches and more. We can make a million excuses as to why we don’t have time for real relationship building, but what does it gain us…exhaustion and loneliness. I had someone agree that we had to get our families together for dinner but between work, the kids’ sports and church meetings she only had Friday nights and that was their family night. She told me that we could get together in about four months. We never got together. As for our children, we teach them about building relationships when we include them as we build with others. Our “family nights and days” usually included many college-aged kids and friends hanging out at our home eating meals, drinking coffee and playing “Kings in the Corner”. Our kids loved being a part of these weekly gatherings.

Let’s make a decision to let go of some of our busyness and embrace sacrificial love for others. Love is a choice and a process that takes effort and time. One’s home doesn’t need to be immaculate or a showplace to have someone over for coffee or a meal. If you are insecure about making hotdogs or soup and sandwiches, go out to eat or have coffee. Meet regularly in a fun setting that allows the free flow of conversation. Those of you who are mentors and leaders should be doing this regularly with those you lead. Through relationship, not lecture, those you mentor will grow.

Jesus felt so strongly that we truly invest ourselves in sacrificial loving relationships that He commanded us twice within six verses. Take some time to search the New Testament see how this command is echoed throughout. Here are just a few places to start:

John 13: 34-35
Romans 12:10
Romans 13:8
Galatians 5
1 John

So, what are you doing that can be laid down, even for just a season, so you can receive Jesus’ inheritance of joy? What can you lay down so that you can pick up the love of a friend? I am going to end this with the lyrics of a familiar song about true friendship:

When you’re weary, feeling small
When tears are in your eyes, I will dry them all
I’m on your side when times get rough
And friends just can’t be found

Like a bridge over troubled water
I will lay me down.
Like a bridge over troubled water
I will lay me down.




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