Saturday, May 31, 2014

The Friendly Community

A generous friend is moving and wondered if I knew anyone who could use a computer table she could not fit in her new but smaller home. I had been looking for a desk for crafts for a family who lost everything in the tornado, so it was an answered prayer. When I arrived to pick it up, she also offered a lovely chair and ottoman, which I happily accepted. With more of a load than I could accommodate at home, I headed to the office for a storage spot. 

Since the lawn and garden stores were so close, a quick stop seemed in order. It was a little unusual but every customer at the garden center chatted with me. One lady asked my opinion about a plant, another wondered what I was planting, another had suggestions for hardy plants for a planter. Someone else wanted to know what I would do with my ferns in winter, and that led to a discussion with several more people about greenhouses.  

At first, I thought it was because I was so dirty after weed eating this morning. "Maybe I look like I know what I'm doing," I thought. When a lovely woman followed me into the checkout with my cart to ask the owners if the plants in my basket were perennials, I was pretty sure it had nothing to do with grubbiness.  

At my next stop, I had parked but was not yet out of the truck when I heard knocking. I glanced around to see a nice woman pecking at the passenger window. I lowered it to hear what she was saying. "What kind of roses are those? Where did you get them? How long will they bloom? How much were they?" She was full of questions and as friendly as could be. I happily answered all her questions, but she left me wondering again what had promoted this change in the citizenry. 

It's common for people I know to greet me (of course), but these were complete strangers who treated me like a friend. I've thought about the experience all afternoon, wondering what caused such nice behavior, and have decided that perhaps it was the tornado. There is something about shared suffering and shared grief that draws us closer and unifies us. The tragedy is that it takes a disaster to open us to others in this way. 9/11 did it, at least for a while. We were one nation under God, and we were united. I saw this same openness after Katrina, as well. Once again, with the recent tornado, we have been met with adversity, it has brought out the best in us, and we have emerged as better people than we were. I like it. I enjoyed visiting with all those lovely strangers today, and I hope it lasts this time. Let's try hard to hold on to this new found kindness.  

As you go your way through this next week, make an effort to greet every person you meet. Do not hesitate to smile at strangers. Don't fail to offer a helping hand. You never know. Some people, according to Scripture, have entertained angels unaware. How cool is that? Start smiling and don't stop. 

Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by this some have entertained angels without knowing it. (Hebrews 13:2 NASB)

Creating a Servant Heart (Luke 7:36)

Now one of the Pharisees was requesting Him to dine with him, and He entered the Pharisee's house and reclined at the table. (Luke 7:36 NASB)

We are stepping back a verse because we missed a point that only became clear this morning. 

Jesus and the Pharisees were at odds almost from the beginning of His ministry. In fact, they would be the very ones who orchestrated his arrest, conviction, and crucifixion. The Pharisees were His mortal enemies. Despite all that, Jesus was not their mortal enemy. When a Pharisee invited Him to share a meal in his home, Jesus accepted. Why did He willingly go into the "enemy camp"? There are likely many reasons, but we will look at two today. 

Going into this man's home gave Jesus proximity to the Pharisee in the one place he was most likely to be at ease and let down his guard. It allowed Jesus to have a longer interaction, and to speak truth over a meal so that it might be, in a way, more palatable. It created less drama in their conversation, because there was less of a watching, listening crowd at hand. It gave the Pharisee an opportunity to relax and listen with his heart rather than to listen while preparing a public rebuttal. 

The second reason was that being a guest allowed the Pharisee to be the host, a position requiring him to provide for the needs and comfort of his guests. Allowing the Pharisee to serve Him put the Pharisee in the unexpected position of having to honor Jesus as his guest. When Jesus accepted the dinner invitation, he allowed the Pharisee to, in a way, serve Him.  

When we willingly serve others, it changes us in very positive ways. There is considerable research being done on the value of altruism. Jesus understood what we are only beginning to see. It truly is better to give than to receive. Allowing this man to serve Him brought the man one step closer to understanding our Servant Lord. When we serve others, we too become a little more like Jesus, who, though He was God's only Son, thought nothing of washing the feet of His disciples just before He laid down His life for them. 

In what ways are you serving others? How are you being a servant to those outside our immediate circle of family and friends? Do you have a servant heart? Do you have the kind of servant heart that is not only willing to serve but is also actively serving others?

Today, pray that we and our loved ones would have servant hearts that recognize and meet the needs around us. Pray, too,  that our service would draw us closer to Jesus and make us more like Him. 
Here's the link to last might's post by Mamie the apprentice wonder puppy on trouble with dancing.

Friday, May 30, 2014

Friday Night with Friends: Dancing Like a Ballerina by Mamie Hollis

Our Friday Night with Friends guest blogger is Mamie Hollis, apprentice wonder puppy. This is only her second or third time to write, so be sure to encourage her! Enjoy!  
My name is Mamie Hollis and I am just a lil' puppy dog. My mama 'dopted me a bunch of whiles ago, but I don' know how long because I'm just a puppy still. I have a sister named Maggie, who is a Wonder Dog. When I came to live here, no one really 'splained about this Wonder Dog thing. That was not really good, because I found out after I got 'dopted that I am gonna be a 'prentice wonder puppy. Oops sorry. Mama said I am an apprentice wonder puppy. Who even knows what a word that big means? Puppies do not. 

My mama, who is very nice and is trying to teach me so many things, said an apprentice wonder puppy is s'posed to learn to do all the things a Wonder Dog can do. I said, "Mama, you can't mean it! I'm so little! Maggie is twice as big as me!" My mama said, "Mamie, dear, size has nothing to do with learning.  You can learn as much as you want to learn, and Maggie and I will help you."  Well, it dint really seem like I had much choice about this.  

At first, Maggie was really, really grumpy about me. I don' really think she liked me much. I gave her lots and lots of licks and kisses, but it did not help. My mama tole me to pray to Jesus and He would help. I got all my friends to talk to Him, too. We kept on asking Jesus to help and He did. He helped Maggie be nice but He' helped me too! 

It's very hard not to do licks and kisses when you are a lil' puppy. We love licks and kisses! I don't think Maggie likes licks and kisses much, though, at least not from me. Maggie wouldn't even look at me at first, but I think she likes me now.   No kissing though. That makes me sad. I love licking and kissing! And hopping. I love love love hopping. 

Maggie tole me one day, "Mamie, you are not a rabbit. Quit hopping!" I love hopping, so I didn't quit, but I did have to quit hopping on Maggie. She won't 'prentice me at all if I hop on her.

Oh, dear, I forgot what I was telling you about! Oh yes. I was gonna tell you about dancing like a ballerina. 

Maggie the Wonder Dog (and big sister of Mamie the 'prentice) knows so many things. I love to watch her dance like a ballerina. She's so pretty. Sometimes she wears a frilly dress and dances.  I don't have a frilly dress yet. Mama said you can't have a frilly dress if you are going to eat it.  

I have been wanting to learn how to dance like a ballerina, too. I have been watching Maggie and practicing really hard. My mama keeps saying, "Sit, Mamie" and "Stay, Mamie" and "Shake, Mamie". I don' wanna sit or stay or shake. I wanna dance. I keep telling my mama but it doesn't help. Last night, Mama and Maggie were helping me with 'prentice class. Mama would give a command and Maggie would do it. Then it would be my turn. I thought I'd s'prise them. Every time my mama gave me one of them command things (sorry, those commands), I'd dance like a ballerina. Maggie looked at me and rolled her eyes! Can you believe it?

Dancing like a ballerina did not go over very well. My mama would not give me a treat for dancing like a ballerina! She said the only treat she was giving was if I did exactly what she said. She's really big on this 'bedience stuff. She says that God expects us to do what He says, and we don't get a blessing for substituting something else. Even if it's cute like dancing like a ballerina. I think God would  like my dancing. My mama said, "Sure He would. But you still need to do what you are told!" 

I guess I might not try dancing at 'prentice class tonight. Anyway, I hafta do a "learn something lesson".

Here it is: 
Don't dance when you are s'posed to shake and stay. 

My mama said I might need to do a clearer lesson, so here we go again:

Dancing is nice, but you still have to obey. 

The end. By Mamie Hollis, apprentice wonder puppy

Welcoming Sinners (Luke 7:37)

And there was a woman in the city who was a sinner; and when she learned that He was reclining at the table in the Pharisee's house, she brought an alabaster vial of perfume, (Luke 7:37 NASB)

Several times recently, the question of allowing people who are perceived to be sinners into the church has come up in conversation. Every time, our discussions have focused on two facts. The first, of course, is that we are all sinners saved by grace and forgiven by the boundless mercy of God. Every sin is heinous to God. Remember that Adam and Eve's disobedience with the fruit resulted in expulsion from the garden. We are the ones that consider our own sin as somehow less terrible than that of others. I have never found a sin scale in Scripture. 

The second point in this ongoing discussion is that Jesus was known as the Friend to Sinners and spent time and enjoyed meals with many people who were considered the dregs of society. Heaven is full of sinners saved by grace. Take Moses and King David for example. Nowhere in Scripture do we see Jesus saying a sinner is too sinful to come to Him. God loves sinners, and so should we. He has not appointed us to be gatekeepers. We are called to be sowers and harvesters. 

With all this said, there is an astounding bit of information included in this little verse that directly relates to this issue. "There was a woman who was a sinner." The Greek word translated as was is eimi. This is a verb that comes from the root word that is in the "first person singular present indicative mood". According to, "when the present is used with the indicative mood it denotes present time".  As I understand it, was here indicates ongoing activity. In other words, she had been a sinner and still was a sinner. 

It may seem shocking, but it's true. With one single word, the answer to the question of exclusion is answered. No. Everyone is welcome at the foot of the cross, and, as a result, everyone should be welcome to come to Jesus. It is the Holy Spirit's job to convict. Only God can change a sinful heart. What better place to encounter the Most High God than in a church service where we have gathered to worship Him? That is why we are there, isn't it? 

This woman was a sinner, but she was welcome at the feet of Jesus. 

We will soon see that she came to Him with many tears and much weeping. I suspect the time spent at His feet changed her life forever. What would have happened to her, however, if she had been refused access to Jesus? What would have happened to us if we had been refused access to Jesus?  That transition time between the stirrings of conviction and the transformation of a sinner saved by grace may be difficult to watch, but it is a crucial time and one that needs considerable care and prayer. 

Today, rejoice that the Most High God has poured out His mercy and grace on us and our loved ones, no matter the faults, and is even now working to transform us and make us new. 

Thursday, May 29, 2014

The sinner woman (Luke 7:37)

And there was a woman in the city who was a sinner; and when she learned that He was reclining at the table in the Pharisee's house, she brought an alabaster vial of perfume, (Luke 7:37 NASB)

There was a woman...who was a sinner." This woman is commonly perceived to be  a prostitute, and she may well be, but that is not what the Scripture says here. The word translated as sinner is hamartōlos, and is a verb that means "to miss the mark." It is used to mean both one who has strayed "from the paths of righteousness" as well as one who has sinned against God (the fallen state of man).  It would, then, be accurate to say "There was a woman who was a sinner, just as I am a sinner."  It looks a little different that way, doesn't it? 

Whatever her sin, whether it was prostitution, adultery, gossip, or unforgiveness, she had become known as the woman who had continued to sin. The description of her as a sinner implies that, whatever the sin, it had been a regular part of her life, at least until she met Jesus. How horrible that must have been! Even after trusting Christ, she was still haunted by her past. 

I cannot imagine how painful it would be to constantly be described by the things I did before I was transformed by Christ. Can you? What if people described you as "that woman who will not forgive" or "that man who is always angry"? Remembering who we were before Christ saved us helps us to keep in mind that great mercy He has demonstrated to us. At the same time, when we give our burden of sin to Christ, it is His alone, and should not be used like a ball and chain to hinder us for the rest of our lives. 

For this woman, who likely knew exactly what people said about her, their gossip meant nothing in comparison to the great gift of forgiveness that Christ had given. She had been transformed by grace and the gratitude she felt knew no bounds. Are we as cognizant of that mercy and grace demonstrated to us, as grateful as this woman? We should be. 

She was a sinner, just like us. We should be extravagantly grateful, just like her. 

Pray today that our hearts would be so full of gratitude for the gifts of forgiveness and transformation that it spills over into every part of lives and is apparent to all, especially those we love the most. 
Link to last might's post is here:

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Sealed with a handshake

There are few things I dread and despise more than house renovations. The language of construction coupled with the dust and disarray of construction have defeated me numerous times before. Alas, that most dreaded day has arrived once again.

One of the upstairs showers has a rusted pan. Well, that might not be the right term, but it leaks and the entire thing has to be replaced. Tiles have to be removed, the leaking pan replaced along with a myriad of additional mysterious things, and new tiles installed. Because the vintage floor tiles match the vintage shower tiles, but not the new shower tiles, they will also need to be replaced.  

After struggling with the decision to proceed for a shameful amount of time, I have hired a builder and he has brought me a tile man who can do the shower. Tonight the tile man came to price the project. I liked him. There was something about the quiet way he met my eye when we were introduced that inspired confidence. 

I showed him the project, listened as he explained what would need to be done, and held my breath as he did a quick calculation. The price was right and we moved to a discussion of the timetable. "I can start tomorrow, he said. "I have another job that starts next week, but I will completely finish this job before I start that one." This man was speaking my language! I smiled and said, "Agreed. What time will you be here tomorrow?" He reached out his hand and said, "I will be here at 8:00," and smiled. The deal was sealed. 

I cannot remember the last time I made a business deal that was sealed with a word and a handshake. I make verbal contracts all the time, but there was something about the handshake that sealed the deal quite nicely. It told me that this was a man of his word and I could count on him to do what he said. 

A man of his word. Isn't that a wonderful description? I'd like that to be how people describe me, wouldn't you? It's simple really. 
Say what you mean. 
Mean what you say. 
Do what you promise. 

This man looked  me in the eye, shook my hand, and said, "It will take me eight days to do the work in the shower, one more day for the floor." By June 11th, I should have a new shower and floor. If he really means what he said, I will. I'm counting on it. 

Say what you mean. 
Mean what you say. 
Do what you promise.

It's a good way to do business. It's a good way to live, too. 

Dinner at the Pharisee's House

Now one of the Pharisees was requesting Him to dine with him, and He entered the Pharisee's house and reclined at the table. (Luke 7:36 NASB)

A similar event is related in all four gospels. In the other three, it is said to have occurred in Bethany and, in Matthew and Mark, it is said to have occurred at the home of Simon the leper. It is frequently presumed that this was the same event, but Scripture does not tell us that. It is sufficient to understand that it happened in the house of a Pharisee. 

There were Pharisees who accepted Christ as the Messiah but, for the most part, they vigorously opposed Him. We know (v. 39) that this particularly Pharisee was one who did not even accept Him as a prophet. Why did this Pharisee invite Jesus to his home for a meal? Perhaps he was interested in learning more. Perhaps he simply thought Jesus would be an entertaining guest who would stimulate a lively and thought-provoking discussion around the dinner table. 

We don't know the reason Jesus accepted the invitation, but it certainly provided a contrast to the Pharisees' accusations that He ate with tax collectors and sinners. It was certainly true, but this passage shows that He also ate with Pharisees. Scripture gives many examples of Jesus accepting invitations to homes for meals, but we do not see Him refusing anyone. When someone invited Him into their home, He went. Rich or poor, believer or unbeliever, Jesus made no distinction. He was always ready for an opportunity to share the gospel. 

Are we as ready to share Christ with anyone who is willing to hear? Are we a friend to those who are different from us, or do we spend time only with "church people" or those whose skin color, financial resources, and lifestyle preferences are the same as ours? If we want to be like Jesus, we must also be willing to spend time with those with whom Christ spent time. 


Since Christ spent time with everyone, that should be our guiding rule. No one excluded. All welcomed. 

Pray today that we would be welcoming and open to all those God brings our way.  Pray, too, that they and our loved ones would feel warmly received, despite their questions, their uncertainty, and their doubts. 
Link to last night's post is here:

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

The Missing Nigerian Girls

Several days ago (5/7/14), I wrote about the more than 200 Nigerian schoolgirls that had been abducted by a terrorist group, and asked you to join in prayer that the girls be found and released. Praise God, He has answered the first part of that prayer. The girls have reportedly been found, but (according to news reports today) they are not in a place where the Nigerian military can rescue them without getting them killed. I have no idea what that means, but there are some things I do know. 

God is omniscient. He is all knowing and He knows both where those girls are and how to get them out. 

God is omnipotent. He has unlimited power. He can handle getting the girls out without getting them hurt. 

God is omnipresent. He is everywhere, including wherever those terrorists are holding those girls. 

Once again, we need to intensify our prayer efforts. (Feel free to refer back to the previous post for that guide as well.)

1) Pray that our Omniscient Father will reveal how to safely rescue the girls to those who can perform the rescue. Pray, too, that it would be done in such a way that God would be glorified. 

2) Pray that our Omnipotent Father would  bring the girls out without harm to the girls or to the Rescuers. Pray, too, that the ravages of their abduction would be quickly healed and that there would be no long-lasting sequelae from their captivity. 

3) Pray that our Omnipresent Lord would reveal Himself to the girls (and to the captors, for that matter) and that they would be strengthened and filled with peace. Pray especially for those girls who are reported to have renounced Christianity and converted to Islam and for those who have been forced to marry terrorists. 

Guns and swords may be needed in the fight to bring these girls safely home, but this is at its root, a battle against evil that must first be fought on our knees. Scripture is clear on this. 

For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.

With all prayer and petition pray at all times in the Spirit, and with this in view, be on the alert with all perseverance and petition for all the saints, (Ephesians 6:12, 18 NASB)

Pray, dear ones. More than two hundred schoolgirls are in harm's way and someone must wage war against the evil that holds them. Please help. 

Children of Wisdom

Yet wisdom is vindicated by all her children." (Luke 7:35 NASB)

The Greek word here translated as "children" is teknon.  According to, when used metaphorically, as it is here, it means "of anything who depends upon it, is possessed by a desire or affection for it, is addicted to it". This is an odd phrase with an important truth. We become a child of wisdom when it is an overriding desire of our life, when we are so possessed by our desire for wisdom that it, rather than riches or the approval of man, becomes the goal of our lives. 

When we are most interested in finding truth and gaining wisdom, rather than defining wisdom based on our own desires or whims, it changes us. The acquisition of godly wisdom bears such fruit in our lives that the difference is apparent to those around us. The righteousness of godly wisdom is proved by the lives of those who gain it. 

This is not the person who thinks they are wise, much like the men to whom Jesus was speaking. This is referring to those gentle, humble souls who, like John, have such a passion for truth that they will risk anything, including their lives, to defend the truth. Jesus knew that John was imprisoned, and would eventually be beheaded, because of his passion for speaking God's truth. 

What is truth?  Jesus was very clear about it. "I am truth," He said. (John 14:6) If we want to pursue wisdom, the ability to understand and implement truth in our lives, we must seek that truth in Christ alone. 

It all comes back to passion. To be wise, we must be passionate about truth, about the truth in Christ, and we must allow it to change and mold us into the kind of people who demonstrate truth by their very existence. The question, then, is about what are we passionate? The wisdom of Christ or our own desires? What evidence of wisdom is apparent in our lives?

Today, pray that we and our loved ones would desire godly wisdom more than anything the world offers and that we would pursue truth with all the passion we can muster. 
Link to last might's post:

Monday, May 26, 2014

How free do we want to be?

My neighbor and I were sitting on the patio and "chewing the fat", dogs lazily draped across us.  He had just heard about "the ice melting" and was concerned about what we needed to do to fix it.  In open-mouthed astonishment that he had never heard of global warming before, there was nothing I could think of to add.  With more responsibility than I can say grace over now, I certainly can't tackle that problem.  

He moved on to the topic of the senatorial race and the pictures of Senator Cochran's wife that were recently published.  I can't see who benefited from that, but I can see who was hurt by it.  That's as much as I had to offer on that subject.  

Conversation meandered through several other topics in the news before he decided he needed to get going.  As he was leaving, he summed things up.  "I guess everyone just loves bad news," he said.  I didn't argue with him, but I'm not sure he's right.

Perhaps the problem is not that people love bad news.  Perhaps the problem is that we do not love good news.  The best news of all is that Jesus died and rose again to set us free from the hold sin has on us. Maybe the root problem is that we like sinning (at least for the moment we are doing it) and don't really want to stop. 

Jesus said, "So if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed." (John 8:36) As we in the United States pause to remember those who have died to secure our freedom, we need to answer one very important question.  

How free do we want to be?

Do we want to merely be free to do whatever we want, or do we want to be free of sin's enticement and hold on us?  Perhaps it is not the hold of sin but the consequences of sin we hope to avoid.  The only way to be free from the consequences of sin, however, is to be free of our passion for sin.  That freedom cannot be bought with guns or grenades.  That freedom can only be bought with the blood of Jesus.  

How free do you want to be? 

Rejecting Passion (Luke 7:33-35)

For John the Baptist has come eating no bread and drinking no wine, and you say, 'He has a demon!' The Son of Man has come eating and drinking, and you say, 'Behold, a gluttonous man and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!' Yet wisdom is vindicated by all her children." (Luke 7:33-35 NASB)

Jesus had just chastised the men for their bully attitudes. They wanted to make the rules, but Jesus was having none of that. God is the Rule-Maker, and that's the way it is going to stay, He seemed to say. In these verses, He took it one step further. They didn't just have a bully heart, those men had a judgmental, critical spirit. Nothing suited them. 

When John the Baptizer came as a passionate yet humble, self-sacrificing man who was committed to fasting and the Word of God, he was criticized as one with a demon. He didn't wear fancy clothes so they accused him of being insane. When Jesus came as a Friend to Sinners, generous and kind to all, committed to loving all and bringing them to the Father, He was criticized as a glutton, a drunkard, and a low-life who spent time with the lowest in society. 

Neither man's approach to life suited them. These men were not crusading against a little fasting or a little wine. Today, they might be the ones who advocate "moderation in all things".  Moderation has its place, but they weren't really in favor of moderation, they were against passion.  They did not want to see the passion for God that filled John and Jesus, partly because it brought their lack of passion into sharp focus. This business of loving God with all our heart, soul, and mind requires passion. It requires a reckless kind of love that will do anything for the object of our affection. No sacrifice is too great, no task is too small for the one who loves God with this kind of passion. 

Is that how we love our Lord? Is that the kind of passion you have for the things of Christ? 

Today, pray that we and our loved ones will be filled with the no-holding-back passion for God that purifies and fill us with joy.  

Sunday, May 25, 2014

A Bunch of Big Bully-Babies (Luke 7:32)

They are like children who sit in the market place and call to one another, and they say, 'We played the flute for you, and you did not dance; we sang a dirge, and you did not weep.' (Luke 7:32 NASB)

Jesus told the Jewish leaders that they were a bunch a big bully-babies. Well, that's not exactly the terminology, but it conveys the idea. He said that they were like children who were trying to make other children do what they wanted or expected. They played the flute but their friends would not dance. They played a dirge and they would not weep. They were only satisfied when they had made the other children do exactly what they said. They were angry and pouty when they didn't get their way. 

These difficult children were not interested in taking turns or playing together. They did not want to be equal with the other children. They were only interested in being the boss and getting their way. They were also interested in demeaning the other children. They wanted to say, "Dance!" and see the others dance on command like a puppet whose strings were being pulled. 

Choosing your own actions was not part of their plan. They wanted to tell people what to do and get instant and complete obedience. Because these men were rich and powerful, they had managed to do just that. Until they encountered Jesus. 

Encountering Jesus must have been one of the most exasperating experiences of their lives. When they tried to tell Him what to do, He just went right on doing what He was sent to do. He was the rule-maker, and He was going by the rules He and His father had made, not a bunch of jumbled add-on rules these men had concocted. They couldn't control God. They tried, but failed miserably. 

We cannot control God either, although sometimes we try. We don't always want to do things His way, do we?  A few months ago, I heard someone say to a person whose church had a ministry for the homeless, "I hope you keep doing that, because we sure don't want them at our church!" What??? There was something about "Love your neighbor as yourself" that she had seriously missed. 

Jesus didn't just love the homeless, the adulterers, the thieves, and "riff-raff", He ate with them, spent time with them, and brought them to the Father. He has gone back to heaven and is preparing a place for them. If we plan to spend eternity in heaven with Jesus, we should also be planning to spend eternity with a bunch of sinners who have been saved by grace, because that is exactly who will be there. We may exclude those we don't like now, but in eternity, Jesus will make the rules, and there will be none of our exclusions then. God will decide. 

Pray today that we will be willing to follow Jesus rather than insist on trying to tell God what to do. Pray, too, that our loved ones will see the wide-open arms of Jesus and will choose to move close to The One who will always be the Friend of Sinners. 
Link to last might's post: