Making this world a better place – more redeemed – one friend at a time (#PhotoFriday)

 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. You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you. This is my command: Love each other.

John 15:15-17
– Naomi with Lindsay and Johnny this summer

I think the best image from today’s “Photo Friday” collection has to be the one of our newly-engaged niece, Lindsay and her fiancé, Johnny, talking over lunch with Rebekah.

Lindsay is the only child of Rebekah’s brother Joe and his wife, Cheryl. She will also be the first of what we call, “TheFive.2″ to be married. Rebekah and her siblings had 10 children between them; the first five (Reed, Andrew, Micah, Naomi, and Faith), followed by a gap of several years before “TheFive.2” came along (Jordan, Lindsay, Seth, Jared, Sarah).

This is thrilling in many ways. Mostly because we love our nieces and nephews; and then because it will have been six years since the last wedding (Micah and Jeanette Get Married, 2017), and ten since pretty much the entire family showed up (Andrew to Alicia – back in 2013).

Micah and Jeanette’s wedding was absolutely one of my favorites, but very private (only five of us there, including the bride and groom). So the prospect of a huge family celebration come March 2023 is very exciting.

In this photograph, Lindsay and Johnny are asking Rebekah to be the preacher/officiant at their nuptials.

Johnny is a prodigiously fine young man, and Lindsay is one of the most exceptional young people I know. Rebekah and I could not be any happier.

The puppies:

The next two images represent the puppies we love so much. Geoffrey, just a week out from turning two, and Max. They both have the same “Yes, we know how cute we are” approach to life. I am not sure that either one of them could be any more adorable. Although I’m certain they are both up for the challenge.

Margie:

Next up, Margie. Margie cannot be even minimally covered in a “Photo-Friday” paragraph. She is probably book length.

However, since the day God nudged the (then) young Naval officer off Bayou Boulevard and into the parking lot at Trinity Presbyterian Church; to the day she was, I believe, Rebekah’s first adult baptism; to the countless hours she spent loving on our children at Maul-Hall-Pensacola; to many epic rendezvous in places such as Montreat, Tampa, Yorkshire, and Minnesota… Margie continues to be an important character in the ongoing “Book of Maul.”

Still doing some ZOOM:

Finally, and talking of friends, I grabbed this photo Thursday morning while talking with my good friend, Bernie.

Bernie and his late wife Cynthia were a hugely important part of the Sunday morning class I taught (or, rather, facilitated) at Wake Forest Presbyterian Church for many years.

– talking with Bernie via ZOOM

A couple of years ago, Cynthia passed away on Easter Sunday – see “Goodbye to another faithful witness….” – and then Bernie moved to Alabama to be with his children. We missed our long chats over coffee in Wake Forest, so we make the time, every once in a while, to grab a mug and talk via ZOOM.

The story this photograph tells is one of commitment, and of doing what it takes to keep relationships alive.

I don’t know about you, but it is increasingly obvious to me that one of the most subtle and damaging tricks of The Enemy is that of using the Internet to isolate people, rather than bringing the world together.

So I consider the beauty of a ZOOM call with my friend Bernie not only a statement of faith in humanity, but a reminder – for those who will listen – that the most important work we can do to protect the promise of America, going forward, is to build and maintain real friendships.

“I have called you friends,” Jesus said. And I don’t think there is much more that’s any more important than that, if we want to join the Lord in saving this fragmented and deeply troubled world…. – DEREK

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