Friends By Choice

The phone rang and a voice said, “Are you Lavon Hightower?” This was the beginning of a renewed friendship.

Not long after that, our 40-year high school reunion took place and some of us reestablished our friendships. Before that, those of us who lived here in Vinita were friends, in passing. We were always cordial when we bumped into each other, but we didn’t make time to get together.

My classmates and I shared common experiences.  We all had the same teachers, the same assignments, the same ball teams. We lived through the turbulent 1960s, with assassination of President Kennedy, the Space Program, the Vietnam conflict. At graduation our lives took different turns.

My friendships now with some of my former classmates go beyond common experiences of growing up in the same town and attending the same school. It is more than mutual life experiences of growing up in the 1960s.

Now we make time to get together for lunch and get caught up on what is happening in our lives. We make an effort to meet when sometimes it isn’t convenient.

Then we were friends because of circumstances, but now we are friends by choice.

Abraham is called “friend of God” three times in the Bible. Abraham built an altar to God in Hebron. That name came from the Hebrew root word, ‘chabar’ pronounced khaw-bar meaning couple together, have fellowship with, join together, league and usually interpreted as “friend.”

Abraham and God had nothing in common. God had everything. Abraham had nothing, except what God had given him. They only had a covenant, a league, a pact, a deal.

God offered Abraham a deal, “Leave your country and your family and follow me, and I will make you a great nation.” Abraham took God at His word and left home, not knowing where he was going. Abraham’s descendants became a great nation, Israel.

.James 2: 23 KJV, “Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness: and he was called the Friend of God.”

God chose Abraham, and then Abraham chose God. Friends by choice.

Building an Altar

The dearest place on earth to my heart for many years was the old wooden altar where I asked Jesus to be my Savior when I was 7 years old. And I frequently knelt there in that same tear-stained spot at my end of the altar to meet my Lord in prayer.

Years later, at a different altar, I rededicated my life to Jesus and then put my 3-year-old son on the altar to dedicate him to the Lord. That same altar was where I was married the second time and where I dedicated my daughter when she was two weeks old. I found my place there at the end of that altar too, where I shed many tears in prayer over the years.

Abraham built an altar at Bethel, which means “House of God,” in Genesis 12. Then he built an altar in Hebron, which means “Friend of God.”

Abraham’s last altar was on Mount Moriah, where Abraham made the ultimate sacrifice, his only son Isaac, but God stopped the sacrifice and provided a ram caught in the thicket to take Isaac’s place. This was symbolic of God providing His own sacrifice, His only Son Jesus.

Abraham named that altar Jehovahjireh, “God, my provider.”

From Bethel the “House of God,” to Hebron “Friend of God,” to Jehovah Jireh “God my Provider,” the names he gave the altars suggest he was getting closer to God as he traveled on  his journey.

Can you point back to the altar where you gave your heart to Jesus? In your journey through life, have you moved from worshiping at the House of God, to being a friend of God, to knowing that God is your Provider?

Hebrews 10:19, 22 NKJV, “Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, ….let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith.”

God always hears our prayers, no matter the position of our bodies, as long as our hearts are knelt in prayer before Him.

Abundance of Things

One of my New Year’s Resolutions is to simplify.

Lately I have been trying really hard to get rid of stuff. It is an ongoing battle, a struggle to keep what is necessary and let go of things that I don’t need, I don’t love, don’t fit, that don’t make me smile when I look at them.

I have a closet full of clothes, drawers full of stuff, cabinets full, pantry full, linen closet full. I have books and magazines everywhere, in bookshelves, in the bathroom, on the coffee table. I have 5 sets of dishes, 3 sets still packed away from our move 6 years ago.

I decluttered my clothes closet last year. When I unpacked my winter things this fall, most don’t fit, some never did. Most are outdated and a few in need of repair. The struggle right now in the dead of winter is to mix and match the clothes I can wear so I can make it through this season without spending money on clothes.

 One thing I have had to buy this winter is shoes. A woman must have shoes. I have lots of shoes, some of which don’t fit and never have but “aren’t these so cute?” Some of them need to be discarded but “I might wear them in the garden next spring.”

 In Luke 12:15 NKJV, Jesus said, “Take heed and beware of covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of things he possesses.” My possessions do not determine who I am. My life is more than what name brand of clothing I wear and the designer purse I carry.

Have you ever thought that hoarding stuff is a form of greed or covetousness? Yes, that was a staggering thought to me too. I guess it is time to start giving more of it away.

No wonder Jesus said it is more blessed to give than to receive. Acts 20:35

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Baby Jesus in the Manger



I lost baby Jesus this Christmas. I am pretty sure He was in the nativity set when I packed Him away last year, but I guess now, since the porcelain china baby-in-a-manger wasn’t there, I must has mislaid Him when I took down the Christmas tree.

Almost two years ago, during the summer,  some heavy furniture and boxes were placed in front of the shelves in our garage. Last Christmas my husband had to climb over stuff to get to my Christmas boxes, therefore we used the 3-foot pre-lit tree and I actually bought a new set of Christmas balls to decorate with and Christmas stockings.

Until 6 years ago I didn’t have a fireplace to hang the stockings from. Somewhere in the garage is a box with my hand-crocheted stockings from when the kids were very small.

So this year my nativity set is on the buffet with the 3-foot Christmas tree with a fake snow tree skirt with sparkles. There is Mary and Joseph, a sheep, and 4 wise men.

Yes, four. All of them have a gold-colored box in their hands, so they must be wise men, the kings from the East. Actually the Bible doesn’t tell us how many wise men or kings or astronomers there were in the caravan that came to Bethlehem. In fact, the Bible says they came to a house and not to the stable, so they didn’t come on the night of Jesus’ birth either.

And watching over my nativity set on the buffet with the missing baby Jesus is a crocheted angels, twice as tall as the wise men.

But no baby Jesus, so I will probably have to buy a new nativity scene next year. That one was cheap anyway and doesn’t have much sentimental meaning to me.

I don’t really need a ceramic Jesus anyway. I have Him in my heart.

The Real Christmas Story

Mary held baby Jesus in Her arms moments after His birth and looked into the eyes of God’s Son. She washed the effects of his natural childbirth from His face and wrapped Him in swaddling clothes she had brought along on her journey just for that purpose.

Jesus was born as a real, live, breathing, flesh-and-blood baby. Mary had to change His diaper. He learned to push up, then roll over, sit up, stand, then walk just like any other baby.

He went to school in the synagogue, and learned to read and write from the scribes. He faithfully attended synagogue and worshiped Jehovah God of the Israelites, the One Who was His Father. He went up with his parents to Jerusalem to sacrifice and worship when He was 12, as was the custom of that day, and discussed the Torah with the doctors of religion where He shocked them by His grasp of Biblical concepts and memory of scriptures.

Jesus was different from anyone who had been born before. He did not have the original sin of Adam residing in his body, since He was born of a virgin mother by the power of the Holy Spirit of God, with no earthly father to transfer the original sin to Him.

All other people are born with the original sin of Adam in our bodies, passed down from our fathers. At a certain point in our life, called by some the age of accountability, we recognize the difference between right and wrong, and inevitably we sin and fall just as Adam and Eve did.

Jesus laid aside all His glory in Heaven and was born on earth as a man.

Philippians 2:5 NIV, “Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made Himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness and being found in appearance as a man He humbled Himself and became obedient to death, even death on a cross.”

God became man, Jesus Christ, so that all men by His death and resurrection could be reconciled to God.

This is the real Christmas story, the greatest story ever told.

An Angel and a Young Girl

A young girl was visited by an angel of the Lord one night and told that, even though she was not married, she would conceive and give birth to a son, who would be the Son of God.

She was a simple peasant girl, probably in her early teens, raised by devout Jewish parents to believe that God’s Word is true. She was probably taught the prophecy that said, “A virgin will conceive and bring forth the Son of God,” and in her daily prayers she probably asked God to let her be the mother of Messiah. Her mother taught her to be obedient and believe the word, because when the angel told her that she would become the mother of the Son of God, she simply asked how it would happen.

There was no question in her mind that what the angel said was true. She said, “Let it be to me according to your word.” Because she agreed with the Word of God spoken by the angel, it came to pass like the angel said.

When was the last time you agreed with the Word of God? When you do, you’ll see His plan fulfilled in your life.