Come To The Table

I have recently been hearing this song on the radio and it strikes a chord deep inside – Remember He came for the sick and sinful – of which I am one. So come join me at His table I look forward to seeing you there.

“Come To The Table”

We all start on the outside
The outside looking in
This is where grace begins
We were hungry, we were thirsty
With nothing left to give
Oh the shape that we were in
Just when all hope seemed lost
Love opened the door for us

He said come to the table
Come join the sinners who have been redeemed
Take your place beside the Savior
Sit down and be set free
Come to the table

Come meet this motley crew of misfits
These liars and these thiefs
There’s no one unwelcome here
So that sin and shame that you brought with you
You can leave it at the door
Let mercy draw you near

Come to the table
Come join the sinners who have been redeemed
Take your place beside the Savior
Sit down and be set free
Come to the table
Come to the table

To the thief and to the doubter
To the hero and the coward
To the prisoner and the soldier
To the young and to the older
All who hunger, all who thirst
All the last and all the first
All the paupers and the princes
All who fail you’ve been forgiven
All who dream and all who suffer
All who loved and lost another
All the chained and all the free
All who follow, all who lead
Anyone who’s been let down
All the lost you have been found
All who have been labeled right or wrong
To everyone who hears this song

Ooh
Come to the table
Come join the sinners you have been redeemed
Take your place beside the Savior
Sit down and be set free
Oooh
Sit down and be set free
Come to the table
Come to the table
Just sit down and rest a while
Just sit down and rest a while
Come to the table

Credit for song to Sidewalk Prophets

Sibling Relationships

Well, we’ve talked about friends and spouses and neighbors so it seems to me the time has come to talk about relationships with siblings.  Let’s face it, these can be fraught.  Sibling rivalry goes all the way back to Cain and Abel — and it didn’t end well.  There are a host of other dysfunctional siblings in the Bible — Joseph and his brothers (pride, jealousy), Jacob and Esau (deceit, favoritism), Mary and Martha (resentment, anger).  Nobody knows us better than our siblings;  they can push our buttons and return us so quickly to childish behavior and feelings;  they can also empathize with us in ways nobody else can.  They grew up with us in the same environment;  they competed with us for love and attention;  they understand our strengths and weaknesses.

My husband and I should be experts on sibling relationships — he comes from a family of 5, I grew up in a family of 7.  We used to say that when our kids were little, they had so many aunts and uncles that any adult who showed up regularly around the house was automatically assumed to be one!

When you come from a large family you learn that common DNA shows up in very different combinations.  We’re not all alike.  We have different talents, interests and even personalities.  We’re closer to some siblings than others — maybe based on age or temperament.  Somehow, though, we all feel the family connection and it’s comforting to be part of a group.  For better or worse, our siblings are our “tribe.”  The Greek word for family love is “storge” and it means a kind of rough and tumble, daily love which is not at all romantic or idealistic.  It’s a realistic love that has learned how to rub along together, despite all the mundane irritations and differences.

It strikes me that relationships within our congregation are a lot like that.  After all, aren’t we called to be brothers and sisters in Christ?  Don’t we have the same parent (our Father in Heaven?)  The same older brother as an example (Jesus)?  There are great temptations as we work together to become angry, resentful or prideful.  There are members we feel close to and others we can’t understand at all.  We may sometimes want to walk away from the “family.”  In the end, however, isn’t it a blessing to be part of the church body?  They know us, accept us, and love us through thick and thin (and even when they don’t like us very much). We have things in common that we can’t deny and don’t want to live without.

So today I’m giving thanks for all my sibs, biological and spiritual.  Life is better as part of the tribe.  I’d like some of our other authors to weigh in on the topic of brothers and sisters.

“…treat the younger men like brothers, ….younger women like sisters, in all purity.”  1 Timothy 5:1-2

Jesus, Our Friend

“No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing;  but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father, I have made known to you.”  John 15:15

Joseph Scriven, author of the hymn “What a Friend We Have in Jesus” lived a rather tragic life.  He immigrated to Canada in 1845 following the sudden death of his fiancée.  He fell in love again, and this time his intended contracted tuberculosis and also died before they could be married.  Joseph poured himself into ministry and charity work, living a simple life.  This story is written about him:

“Until a short time before his death, it was not known that he had a poetic gift.  A neighbor, sitting up with him in his illness, happened upon a manuscript copy of “What a Friend We Have In Jesus.”  Reading it with delight, and questioning Mr. Scriven about it, he said that he had composed it for his mother, to comfort her in a time of special sorrow, not intending that anyone else should see it.  Some time later, when another neighbor asked him if it was true he composed the hymn, his reply was, ‘The Lord and I did it between us.'”

I hope you enjoy this hymn, as I always have, and use it as an opportunity to meditate on the wonderful gift we have:  friendship with Christ.

The Power of Words

“A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.”  Proverbs 15:1

Words can hurt, humiliate and anger;  or they can encourage, soothe and inspire.  Our words should be used carefully because they can make or break a relationship.  Once spoken, they can’t be called back or changed.

I thought I would tell you a true story about how someone I know used his words wisely.  His name is Gary.  He and his family moved from Kansas to Maryland and began attending our church.  Our daughters became friends with his daughters, and soon our families were spending a good deal of time together.

After they had been in Maryland for a while, Gary and his family moved to a house that was divided into two apartments.  The first day they lived there, Gary saw his new neighbor drive up, so he went out to introduce himself.  Well, imagine his surprise when the first words out of this fellow’s mouth were curses, and his basic message was “leave me alone, I have no interest in you!”  How would you respond to that?  I’m pretty sure I would just cringe and creep away, hoping to avoid this person forever!  I think plenty of other people would be angry and tell that jerk exactly what they thought of his rude behavior.  Neither response would lead to any kind of neighborly relationship at all.

Can you guess what Gary said?  “Gee, you must have had an awful day to be acting like this.”  He and his neighbor actually became friends, or at least friendly.  His gentle and caring answer turned away wrath.  This situation taught me a lot about the power of words and the value not speaking impulsively (of course, I don’t always manage to do it.)

Here’s something the Bible says about our speech:

“I tell you, on the day of judgement men will render account for every careless word they utter;  for by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.”  Matthew 12:36-37

That’s a pretty sobering thought. You can not only end a relationship with harsh words,  you can help someone out and at the same time put them down and criticize them.  Do you love others with your words as well as your deeds?

 

It’s All About Relationships

I remember when our daughters were little, my husband used to tell them, “people are more important than things.”  This lesson usually came about as a way to explain why we need to share with others, behave courteously, keep our promises, etc… Guess what, when you look at the Bible, both New and Old Testaments, our Heavenly Father teaches this, too.

For example, the Ten Commandments are all about relationships.  The first group of commandments tell us what our relationship with God should be like:

  1. Don’t put other Gods before the true God
  2. Don’t make or worship idols (in case you think this doesn’t apply in modern times think about how we can idolize our possessions, our public standing, our money or even our family).
  3. Don’t take God’s name in vain
  4. Keep the Sabbath appropriately

Basically respect God and give Him the proper place in your life.

Then we come to the question of how we must treat other people:

  1. Honor your parents
  2. Don’t commit murder
  3. Don’t commit adultery
  4. Don’t steal
  5. Don’t tell lies about your neighbor (and remember, everyone is your neighbor)
  6. Don’t envy and desire what rightfully belongs to another

In other words, we are not to harm others, even with words or thoughts.  We are to respect and honor relationships with our parents, spouse, and everyone else who comes into our life.

In the New Testament, Jesus reinforces the Commandments and takes them a step further when He says:

“You shall love the Lord with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.  This is the great and first commandment.  And a second is like it, You shall love your neighbor as yourself.  On these two commandments depend all the law and all the prophets.”  Matthew 22:37-40

According to Jesus we are not only to respect God and people.  We are not only to do no harm.  We are to love them.  It all comes back to relationships, and it all comes back to love.

Biblical Relationship Advice

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Paul, Barnabas & Timothy

Maybe you’re wondering what these three names have in common, or how I’m going to write one post that deals with these very different men.  Well, here goes.  I once read that every Christian needs three kinds of people to help them mature in their faith.  They need a Paul,  a Barnabas and a Timothy.

Your Paul is a person who mentors you;  someone who is older, or who has been a Christian longer and can guide you in making wise decisions.  For many years my Paul was my Pastor.  We met regularly and talked about what I was studying, my prayer life and ways I could serve.  He always encouraged me to stretch a little and gave me suggestions.

“Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ.”  1 Corinthians 11:1

Your Barnabas is a spiritual friend and equal;  a person who walks by your side.  I’ve blogged about my friend, Nancy.  She has filled this role for me for many years now.  My reunion group sisters fall into this category as well.  These are the people who listen to me, pray for me, and support me.

“Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another.”  Proverbs 27:17

A Timothy is somebody you can teach.  I hope that my daughters and my granddaughter feel they have learned something about being a Christian from my example, imperfect as it is.  I actually think of myself as a rather “teachy” person, and I love nothing more than passing on whatever knowledge and understanding I have to others.  I see the Lutheran Ladies Connection as just one opportunity to do this.

“Only take heed, and keep your soul diligently, lest you forget the things which your eyes have seen, lest they depart from your heart all the days of your life;  make them known to your children and your children’s children …” Deuteronomy 4:9-10

How about you?  Do you have at least one Paul, Barnabas and Timothy?

Blest Be the Tie That Binds

Perhaps you think of this as a hymn about marriage.  In researching, however, I found that it really speaks of the love between a Pastor and his congregation.  It was written by John Fawcett, who was born in 1740 in Yorkshire, England.  As a young tailor’s apprentice he became a Christian, and was often asked to speak at the Baptist church he attended.  When he was 25 and newly wed, he was asked to pastor a small church in Wainsgate.  The parish was quite poor, and often John and his wife were paid in potatoes and other produce.  It was hard to make ends meet.  After seven years at Wainsgate, he received a call from a larger, more prestigious congregation, able to pay him a much higher salary.  The family packed up to leave, but in the end, his wife, Mary said she didn’t see how they could leave the people who had come to mean so much to them.  John wrote this hymn as an expression of that love.

Graceful Relationships

Sarah’s post on symbiosis told us that relationships are a two way street.  If we want our relationships to survive and thrive, we have to extend a little grace — that’s a word we Lutherans like to use, which basically means getting something you didn’t earn and don’t deserve.  There are times in every relationship when we have to be willing to put aside our own needs and sacrifice for the other.  There’s a great “how to” section in the 13th chapter of 1 Corinthians.  You’ve probably heard this many times, but have you really thought about it?

“Love is patient and kind”

Am I patient with my friend, even when she forgets my birthday?  Or goes on and on about her favorite topic (which doesn’t interest me)? Am I kind and willing to listen to her problems, even on the days I’m tired and really don’t want to talk at all?

“love is not jealous or boastful.”

Am I sincerely happy for my brother when he gets a promotion while I am struggling financially?  Can I congratulate him without bringing up my latest success?

“it (love) is not arrogant or rude”

Am I respectful and courteous to the people who serve me at the restaurant, the bank, the grocery store?  Do I ask how their day is going?  Or do I ignore them in my rush to get on with my other errands?

“Love does not insist on its own way”

Do I give my husband and children a say in our family life and daily routines?  Or do I expect them to go along with my preferences?

“it (love) is not irritable or resentful”

Am I understanding when my co-worker needs extra time off?  Or do I feel put upon and angry?

“it (love) does not rejoice in the wrong, but rejoices in the right.  Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.”

Do I try to put the best interpretation on the behavior of others?  Am I will to forgive them when they’re wrong and keep encouraging and believing in them?  Or do I give up and walk away?

In all our relationships, the greatest asset is love.  Use it daily.

 

Improve Your Health, Make a Friend

God did not make us to be alone.  Studies bear this out (not a surprise.)  Here are some of the ways that relationships help to make and keep us healthy.

What are the benefits of friendships?

Good friends are good for your health. Friends can help you celebrate good times and provide support during bad times. Friends prevent loneliness and give you a chance to offer needed companionship, too. Friends can also:

  • Increase your sense of belonging and purpose
  • Boost your happiness and reduce your stress
  • Improve your self-confidence and self-worth
  • Help you cope with traumas, such as divorce, serious illness, job loss or the death of a loved one
  • Encourage you to change or avoid unhealthy lifestyle habits, such as excessive drinking or lack of exercise

Friends also play a significant role in promoting your overall health. Adults with strong social support have a reduced risk of many significant health problems, including depression, high blood pressure and an unhealthy body mass index (BMI). Studies have even found that older adults with a rich social life are likely to live longer than their peers with fewer connections.