(Happy Birthday, Tom! And thanks!)
Some of you who read this know our dear friend Tom Webb, along with his wife JJ, and their children William and Erin. In fact, you may be on our mailing list because Tom referred you to us. So the following will sound familiar and not at all unexpected to you.
Tom and I met more than 20 years ago, when he owned an ice cream shop in our city. I say we "met" then, but the truth of the matter is that from the first moment of our acquaintance, we felt like we had known each other all our lives. To this day, we both think that we must have had some contact at a previous time in our lives, but if so, neither of us have figured out when that might have been. Regardless, our friendship has been one of the great blessings of my life, and no matter when it began, I rejoice that because of our Lord Jesus Christ, it will be eternal!
Tom and JJ moved to Tennessee almost 12 years ago, where Tom ministers as a Biblical counselor in a medical practice, and JJ serves as a gifted homemaker for her husband and children (William and Erin, by the way, are my buddies, and great blessings also!). When our friends moved all those years ago, Tom and I agreed to stay in close touch. Friends often make such commitments, of course, but quite often the realization does not match the resolution. That has not been the case with Tom and me, thanks to the Lord, and to my dear friend. For all these years, Tom has called me nearly every Monday and Thursday on the way to work, and despite the distance in proximity, our friendship and brotherhood in Christ remains as close and blessed as ever. You may recall reading about our stay with Tom, JJ, William, and Erin back in October, and while we don't make it to Tennessee as often as we'd like, we still enjoy times of face to face fellowship.
I share all this because Tom's dedication to our friendship through the phone calls serves as a vivid expression of God's calling to His trusting children that we "walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us" (Ephesians 5:2). Note the Apostle Paul's admonition that we "walk" in the love of Christ. This requires an active devotion on our part, in response to God's working in our hearts "to will and to do of His good pleasure" (Ephesians 2:13). Resolution is not enough in relationship. Action must accompany intention, even as the Apostle John commanded, "Let us not love in word, neither in tongue, but in deed and in truth" (I John 3:18). Certainly we seek the Lord's leading and wisdom, but we do so in expectation that practice will follow prayer as the devotion of the heart conducts the direction of the feet. I'm so grateful that Tom's engaged and active consistency in our friendship has helped to further the gift of our bond in Christ and the blessedness of His presence in our friendship.
The Lord Jesus is "the Word… made flesh" (John 1:14). As His Spirit dwells and walks in us, we will experience the inward reality of our Lord's presence become the "made flesh" expression revealed in the earthly realities of our lives. The love of God for us becomes the love of God in us through Christ, and subsequently, the love of God personally and practically manifested by us in devotion to our Lord and to people. My dear friend and brother Tom has long exemplified this blessed truth to me, encouraging and challenging me to walk in the same grace and truth. I'm glad now to pass such an example on to you, and may our Lord lead us all to walk in His "made flesh" love.
"If we love one another, God dwelleth in us, and His love is perfected in us."
(I John 4:12)
Weekly Memory Verse
Surely one shall say, in the Lord have I righteousness and strength. Even to Him shall men come, and that that are incensed against Him shall be ashamed."