Cherish

 

A Wikimedia Commons Image
A Wikimedia Commons Image

Cherish, it’s an old word. We don’t hear it much any more, other than at Weddings. Sadly, in some marriages, that’s the last time the word is ever used, and one of the few times its modeled. It means to protect, or care, for someone lovingly.

It’s a concept that we should practice everyday of the year, but how much more so than at Christmas? Loved ones who make you smile, hearts that beat as one, and friends that are there for each other. We should cherish them.

I love words, whether as a student of God’s Word, or as a writer, they amaze me. One of the synonyms of cherish is foster. That word means to encourage or promote the development of something good. If cherishing doesn’t come easy to you, you can foster it, this just takes practice. Anyone can define love in another’s life, if we will.

When an orphan is placed with a foster family, it can be awkward. The uncomfortableness can be as thick as, well eggnog. There is a level of mistrust, a feeling of what do you want frome me, over time that can fade. If the foster parents cherish the child, they’ll work towards making them feel loved.

Who in our lives do we value? Is it a family member that you once argued with, but couldn’t live without? Perhaps it’s s friend that you’ve kept at arms length, but who you always want within an arm’s reach. Maybe it’s a coworker, or someone desperately in need of being valued, or cherish.

That’s really what this old word is about, valuing those who are priceless to us. We put our money in banks, and our phones in cases, but what protective layer do we wrap our loved ones in? Find those you care about today, and show them you love them.

You don’t have to stand in Wal-Mart holding a banner singing their praises, that would be awkward. Though it’s used in them, cherish isn’t about the ceremony, it’s about the relationship. It can be as simple as a smile, a cup of coffee, and a conversation.

Sure it may be old school, or retro, but you let them know you cherish them. We should cherish our loved ones, at Christmas when we celebrate how He cherished us enough to be born. Each of us though should cherish as Christ did, and does, by showing it 365 days of the year.

Better Than Neverland

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Ecclesiastes 7:8
Better is the end of a thing than the beginning thereof: and the patient in spirit is better than the proud in spirit.

A few hours earlier, the peacock network aired a live version of Peter Pan. You’re familiar with the story, and the famous tag line, “I won’t grow up.” It seemed to me that our problem isn’t with growing up, it’s with growing old. Upon further thought, essentially, we fear endings, or landings if you will.

It is appropriate that Peter Pan’s home is called Neverland, because we really seem to hope to never land. Endings scare us, they haunt our dreams. When in reality, if we’ve met Jesus, they shouldn’t.

Revelation 1:8
8 I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, saith the Lord, which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty.

He alters the state of time, by inserting the present after mentioning both the beginning and the ending. The Lord Jesus further stretches our vision by placing the past, after both the future and the present. He finally wraps it up by giving us a new future to look too.

What does all this mean? It means that, with Jesus, in our present, our past doesn’t define us. It, and our future bow to His will, not our mistakes! He is The Almighty, and will silence all voices that seek to stop us. Isaiah said it like this.

Isaiah 9:6-7
6 For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.
7 Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this.

Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end…” In other words, there will be no stopping of our future. We fear an end because of the finality we attach to it. Jesus promised to eliminate that. He doesn’t only promise us life without end, He promises it in spite of endings.

The word end occurs in The Bible 291 times. However in the KJV, the word ending appears once, this stopped me in my tracks. In other places He says I Am the beginning and the end, but here, the ending.

The Greek word for both end and ending is Telos. They also used the same word for purpose or goal. Christ is our purpose. He is our goal, and The One we hope to stand beside of past the ending of all things. We do not seek Heaven, we seek The Creator of the Heavens.

The boy in green tights seeks to take people to a place where they’ll never reach their full potential. If all followed this idea, growth would completely die. No grown ups would mean no parents, which would mean no children. Those dreams of, “when I grow up”, would never be fulfilled. We don’t want Neverland, we seek something better than Neverland.

Jesus promised us that something better. One of the meanings of ending is eternal. He promised us, not the avoidance of something, but the completion of it. The Lord Jesus also promised that our every journey would have purpose. He was saying that each of us is important. We all can make a difference.

John 11:25-26
25 Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live:
26 And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die. Believest thou this?

We look at Christ’s promise and think it means life after death. In reality, it means life, before, during, and beyond death. He promised us life, and abundant life. God’s focus wasn’t on death, but eternal life.

What’s the difference? He stood at the grave of Lazarus unintimidated by death’s attack. In fact He knew it before Lazarus wasn’t even sick. He stood at the grave, ignoring death, and commanding Lazarus to live.

In Christ’s Ministry, when He raised the dead, He never rebuked death. He simply commanded for the person to live. The only time He spoke to death, was to mock it after His resurrection. He was saying that only He determines the ending. Our endings are not determined by the limits of our world.

It’s not pixie dust to believe in a Creator that has brought us through all the trials that we’ve faced! We’re not tied to a wire, harnessing man made ideas. We do not hope for a land of make believe.

Christians stand in faith, with our eyes raised towards The Maker of all things, believing for something far greater. Our song is not the impossible rant against fulfillment and purpose. Our song is that of The Resurrected Lamb, who has proven His claims.

In short, we can take comfort in this on opening night. When the music plays, and the trumpet sounds, the voice we hear won’t spend time saying what He won’t do. His voice, that clear matchless voice will say, “Come Up Higher”, or to put it in the context of this post … “You Can Fly! You Can Fly! You Can Fly!”

1 Thessalonians 4:16-18
16 For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first:
17 Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.
18 Wherefore comfort one another with these words.

The Sea Horse: The Explosion

Boarding The Sea Swallow
Boarding The Sea Swallow

The Sea Horse was trapped in the vault, smoke was feeling the room. The explosive was set to go off in five minutes. His ribs were aching. High Society had set a trap in his latest robbery.

“This time, you’re future is what I’m taking. I can’t have you getting in my way.” Those were ?the villain’s words as he shut the door. “Now, I know why you broke your mo. I needed to know why you broke your pattern. Now, you need to know why I chose the name, The Sea Horse!”

The hero’s bright yellow head mask and cape began to glow. The hero head butted the floor below him. Outside, High Society heard two explosions, two minutes a part. “Why two?” He asked, staring at the vault.

“Simple, you caused one, I caused the other.” The Sea Horse’s bola whip wrapped around Society’s leg, dropping him to the floor. He used his laser boot to burn the whip around him. The two traded blows. Each getting an idea of what the other had.

Finally ten minutes later, High Society broke off. Flying away through the rubble of a bank window. He escaped with a broken leg. The Sea Horse disappearing underground with broken ribs, among other things.

The two of them had each gotten an assessment of the other’s fighting styles. Neither had gotten what they wanted. High Society wanted a dead opponent, The Sea Horse had hoped for an incarcerated one. Still, they both would know what they were facing in their next fight.

High Society smiled on his way home, he had at least gotten a cool million from it. The Sea Horse laughed as he emerged from the sewer into the water and his Sea Swallow. He had gotten something much better, a tracker on the underside of High Society’s flying tank.

Mentoring Like Jesus

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Alfred was an out of work architect who set out to build a board game. The result was Scrabble. Perhaps your familiar with the board, the tiles, and the rules. The man who invented it, had been trained to translate his vision from a drawing to concrete, glass, and stone.

As I write this, one of my mentors sets a chair away. He’s preparing for a message. I began to think of how his words, and God’s Word through him, has shaped my life. It is more though, than just what or how he has said it, but also when he said it.

I’ve been playing a lot of Words With Friends lately, and I know the difference that a well timed triple word square can make. It isn’t only about the weight of the word, it’s knowing how to maximize its potential. A good Mentor will do just that.

The question I have today is, are you and I good Mentors? I can truly say that I am who I am because of the influences of great leaders. My hope is that we can influence others, as helpfully as others have impacted us.

The path to do this, doesn’t involve power, prestige, or position. It’s about pure motives. The men and women in my life never desired to have power over me, they simply wanted to pour into me. What they unselfishly placed inside me has helped to sustain me through the hardest trials of my life.

Am I doing the same thing? Am I seeking to bless them, or impress them? If my concern centers around me, then I’ll never make the type of impact that others have made on me. If, instead, our focus is the welfare of those we care for, we can’t help but add value to their lives.

It isn’t about impressing them, nor is it about propelling them towards our idea of their future. It’s about equipping them to become what God has intended for them to be. In Scrabble, you never know what word the other players will connect to yours. Even The Divine Creator isn’t going to force His children to step into His hope for them.

He will reveal their potential, and supply the tools to get there. The Lord Will provide the opportunity, but it’s our choice if we’ll listen. The reason we listen to Him, and others, is we know they truly love us. They have proven that their only goal is our well being.

Have we truly reflected this same love in those we know? The difference between interacting and impacting is investment without seeking a personal return. Once we commit wholeheartedly to serving them, our viewpoint shifts much higher.

We go from pointing to where we expect them to arrive, to strengthening them for the trip they were called to make. Too often I’ve forgotten, the destination doesn’t produce the result, the journey does. May we provide them with words of inspiration along the way.

If we can do this, then what we say, how we say it, the skill of our words, all that means nothing. What means something is this, we seek to build, not their future, but their well being. Our desire to influence will then take it’s cue from where all good things originate.

John 13:34-35
34 A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another.
35 By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.

The object of a Christian is to be like Jesus. The Lord knew this, but instead of focusing His Earthly Ministry on this, He focused on loving people. He sought to friend them, in order to free them, even though that meant Calvary.

If we wish to impact others, the only word we must concern ourselves with, is the word servant. If we seek to serve, and serve unselfishly, then we will make a difference in every life we touch.

Not Rejecting, But Neglecting

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He sits alone, hoping that one of the children will at least call. Many times they do, but their conversation begins with I need this. I wonder how many times the thoughts come to mind, “I was there for them when … And now they don’t even speak.”

I’m not referring to a relative per say, although, too often He is a forgotten Father. “At least some will visit at Christmas, it’s the only time they stop by. Even then, they act like they can’t wait to leave.” In much of our lives we are guilty, not of rejecting God, but neglecting Him.

This isn’t a post to condemn but more to confess. We take for granted His goodness, but we say we’re thankful. When is the last time that we woke up in the middle of the night and the thought of prayer entered our mind? Sadly, it probably coincides with the last bout of fever or crisis.

This time of year, which is my favorite, we have lights that twinkle, stars that point to Him, and language about Jesus. My question is this, “How often do we talk to Him?” Other than a dried up two minute prayer, or a wonderful corporate service, when was our last quality conversation with The Master?

Isaiah 29:13
13 Wherefore the Lord said, Forasmuch as this people draw near me with their mouth, and with their lips do honour me, but have removed their heart far from me, and their fear toward me is taught by the precept of men:

One of the definitions of removed is recede. It doesn’t happen over night. Like a river washing away a bank, over time the cares of this life attempt to erode our connection with Him. Perhaps not our relationship completely, but our intimacy. That closeness that beats with the same heartbeat as our Savior.

It may surprise you to know that this verse lead up to a prophecy of The Messiah at the end of this chapter. He talks of Jesus rescuing His people. Yes He mentions the opening of the blinded eye, but in a different way than you might think.

Isaiah 29:18
And in that day shall the deaf hear the words of the book, and the eyes of the blind shall see out of obscurity, and out of darkness.

The word obscurity here is defined, among other things, as spiritual un-receptivity. In other words, Jesus came not only to heal the human eye, but to quicken our vision. He wanted to rescue us, not only from sin in the form of wrongdoing, but also sin in the sense of separation from Him.

Matthew 15:8-9
8 This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me.
9 But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.

He quotes this Scripture, in Matthew 15:8, when rebuking the Pharisees. He withstood them, not for not talking about God, but for what they had turned serving God into. They had taught the people that serving God was more about traditions than about a personal connection with God. The Pharisees had turned a relationship with Him into something very dry.

Let us not be guilty of the same thing in our personal walk with Jesus. I want my Lord to expect to hear my voice everyday, but to also expect for me to listen in return. I don’t want to only visit on the holidays, or “hospital” days.

We have Service two days out of the week, and I need them both, but we should seek more. Our pursuit of Jesus must be more than a one time experience, or even a frequent visit. It should be a daily chasing of His will, His heart, and His voice in our lives.

So we end by returning to our first paragraph, when was our last personal talk with Jesus? Not so much to tell Him about all our troubles, but to say thank you. When’s the last time that our question to Him wasn’t about asking for anything, but seeing how He was?

Two Visitors For Christmas

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He sat by the fireside, watching the flames dance across the logs.  The kindling crackeled as he sipped his cocoa.  His Wife filled up his cup as he tried not to sneeze into her hand.  Nick had caught his cold over Scotland, it was an extremely cold trip this year.

She kissed him on the head, poured herself a cup, and sat down beside him in her easy chair.  “You’ve got to wear ear muffs from now on.”  “But then I can’t hear the reindeer.”  She laughed at this.  “You don’t need to hear them, you know what they’re going to do.  They need to hear you.  You just don’t want to wear them.”

Now it was his turn to laugh. “You’re right, but you have me wearing three layers of red and white from head to toe now.”  She smiled back, and he sighed.  He knew that next year, he would have an additional item to his wardrobe.  “They’ll need to be green, too much red otherwise.”  She said.

He nodded and they set for a few moments without a sound.  “Wendell called, they invited us to supper tomorrow.”  Santa sneezed, “I hope she fixes ice drop soup.  I think the hot chicken broth would help with this cold.”  “You and your Head Elf.  The two of you will talk business the entire night.  He wants you to approve new sleigh designs.”  

Santa shook his head. “He just retrofitted it last year.” “You know Wendell, his exact quote was, ‘If we can improve the sleigh, we can shave a minute off the trip.'” “He says that every December 25, of course he’s usually right.”

“Anything special happen this year?” Santa’s eyes twinkled, “Yes.  I stopped at the home of the Edmond family.  You remember Lucian and Joshua?  One is seven, and the other is six.  A week ago, Lucian had been very sick.  Joshua told his Mom that he wanted his brother to get better by Christmas.  He said that if Lucian slept with Toggles, his stuffed Penguin every night, he would get better.”

Mrs. Claus smiled. “I remember.  The elves said that he prayed every night for his brother.  They said that Lucian got better Christmas Eve.”  “He did, but yesterday Joshua started getting sick.  Their Mother told Joshua that she would have to wash Toggles before giving him back so they wouldn’t pass germs around.”

Mrs. Claus remembered how easily her kids would catch something from the other when they were young.  Now they were grown with children of their own. “Last night, right before I left, Wendell came rushing in.  Toggles had been damaged in the washing machine.  He was worn out, it was Joshua’s first gift I ever gave him.  I placed it in his nursery when he was a baby.”

“I didn’t think you made that one anymore?”  “We didn’t, not for at least three years now.  Wendell had made two of them by hand.  He almost didn’t get them to me in time, I was already in the sleigh.”  “Two of them?”  “Yes, he said Lucian gladly gave his Mother Joshua’s toy back, but they could tell he was a little sad to see it go.”  

“So they each got a new Toggles?”  “Yes, but that wasn’t the special part.  When I got there, both boys were asleep, but near Joshua’s bed was every stuffed animal that Lucian owned.  He wanted his brother to be better by Christmas.  I’m afraid that you know that’s beyond my power to give.”

Mrs. Claus nodded as he continued. “Lucian had also knelt by his brother’s bedside that night when he gave him the stuffed animals.  He ask God that his brother be better by Christmas morning, and he believed with all his heart that he would.  I could tell when I got there that I wasn’t the only one in the room.”

“There was a stillness, A peace had filled the room.  As I placed the Penguins by the boy’s beds, I felt Joshua’s head. His fever had broke.  This morning the boys each got a far better gift than a stuffed Penguin.”  

The two toymaker’s sat, holding hands by the fire, reflecting on God’s goodness and the joy they were blessed to share.  Santa drifted off to sleep, and Anna caught his empty cup before it toppled out of his hand.  Once again, she kissed his forehead, and said her own prayer.  She prayed that his cold too would pass on Christmas.  

When Santa awoke from his nap, he stretched, smiled, and joined Mrs. Claus and the family for their own Christmas celebration.  There was laughter, smiles, and yes, even Ho Ho Ho’s, but no sneezes, or fever to ruin the day. 

Merry Christmas to all of you from all of us @ PruittWrites.com.  May your stockings be filled with cheer, your tree with at least one special present for each of you, but above all else, may your hearts be filled with God’s love this Christmas.