Friendship Is . . .

. . . a community - not an event.

Over the years, I have heard people say, "I thought they were my friend!"  But upon further investigation, it wasn't so much of a friendship as it was an agreement.  You know the kind, "Scratch my back, and I'll scratch yours."  This "give and take" type of friendship can work until someone asks too much, then (poof) the agreement is terminated.

Friendship is something of value.  You give, expecting nothing in return.  There is no need for "give and take" because it is and never was required.

The value of this friendship is so high that you will give it all in return for nothing.

John 15:13 13 Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.

Jesus gave His all because He is your friend.  I know that seems odd.  But He is.  He did everything so He could do something for you.

If you practice this "friendship with value" principle, you already know that there are some people who don't get it.  You're their friend, yet they still treat your friendship with the "scratch my back, and I'll scratch yours" mentality.  They insist on giving back to you everything to do something for them.  Be patient.  There will come a day when you can give something they could never repay.  Then they will see your pure heart.

Jesus did this.  Most people think that Jesus wants to manipulate you and your life so He can get something He needs.  (I laughed out loud at that.)  God owns everything, including everything you own.  He doesn't require you. He wants you.  His grace, his unmerited, unearned favor, is given freely.  You cannot deserve it, but you can ask for it.  He freely gives His forgiveness to those who genuinely repent, turn away from their sin, desire never to return to it again.

Jesus is your friend.

PRAY:  Dear Jesus, thank you for being my friend.  AMEN  

Acquaintances vs. Friends

A colleague of mine once said, "The longer you are in the ministry, you will have more acquaintances and fewer friends."

At the time, I couldn't understand what he meant.  But 20 years later, his words are ringing more accurate than ever.

Proverbs 18:24 A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.

Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up! Again, if two lie together, they keep warm, but how can one keep warm alone? And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him—a threefold cord is not quickly broken.

John 15:13 Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.

Proverbs 27:17 Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another.

Proverbs 17:17 A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.

1 Thessalonians 5:11 Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.

I think that the Bible has a lot to say about friendship, don't you?

But we are a culture that doesn't have time to be a friend.  Marriages grow distant, families grow apart, and friendships are few and far between.

But friendship is what the Gospel is built on.  Let me break it down a little.

1 Peter 4:9 Show hospitality to one another without grumbling.

Hospitality is more than being friendly and polite.  It was built on the idea that "community" was of higher value than "individuality."  What we did together mattered, but what we did individually was impossible without the support and help of others.  This is a founding principle of the church.  It's how the early Apostles and leaders instructed the church to operate.  That's because the early Church Fathers didn't see an organization; they saw family, community, and unity of faith together.

A church cannot be a church when its people practice individuality of faith and abandon their community of faith.   You cannot care if you're not a friend.

PRAY:  Dear Jesus, help me to be a friend to my church and allow my church to be a friend to me.  AMEN

Are You Exhausted?

Exhausted! Four days of District Council and I can say, “I’m exhausted.” Why, you ask? Was it the late nights or Orlando traffic? Nope, it was the bed. Nothing bad about it. I just couldn’t get a good nights sleep in it.

Song of Songs 2:15 Catch for us the foxes, the little foxes that ruin the vineyards, our vineyards that are in bloom.

Someone once said, “The Devil is in the details.”   There is some truth to that statement.  The simplest of things can do a great amount of damage.  But giving full attention to everything 24/7 is exhausting.  

What can you do?  

Know your priorities.  Know what is most important and work hard to keep it that way.  

To many priorities?  Time to unload some baggage.  If you cannot do everything that you need to do. 
Automate (like auto withdrawal or deposit.). 
Template (create a simple system that keeps your work load to a minimum.) 
Eliminate (would anyone notice if you stopped do it?  No?  Then stop it.) 
Delegate (give it to someone who will enjoy doing it.) 

Agreed, there are some things that are out of your control.  Like what kind of mattress you sleep on when out of town.  But a good nights sleep tonight will fix this.  What is happening in your life right now that continues to drain your energy, but you do nothing about?  

Prioritize things in your spiritual life and you will begin to see things priorities in every other aspect.  Pray and ask Jesus to help you.  

PRAY:  Dear Jesus, help me to get my life in order.  I’m tired of being sick and tired.  AMEN. 

When God Shows Up

Last night was Missions Night at District Council.  There we heard about a great need that is half way around the world.  Pastors being persecuted for their faith.  Great opposition to the Good News that you and I can embrace everyday. 

God showed up and moved graciously, powerfully and beautifully in the lives of people.  It reminded me of the verse in Psalm 51:17 The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise. 

 I also noticed was who else showed up.  

A complaining spirit that flowed from hearts of people who were ungrateful. 
A doubting spirit who questioned what was really happening. 
A arrogant spirit that said it was better than others. 
A ambitious spirit that said the ends justify the means as long as you get the results your looking for. 

None of this changed God’s plan.  He showed up in a big way to those who were there to worship Him, celebrate Him and embrace Him.  They walked away with love, zeal and hope.  

What spirit are you operating in today?  Yours or God’s?

PRAY: Dear Jesus, may I walk with you today and may my heart be like Your’s.  AMEN. 

Don't Forget

So we are staying in a house outside Orlando for District Council.  (Way cheaper than a hotel and you get Eric to cook breakfast.) We go to turn on the TV and the previous family who rented this house left their Netflix signed in.  (Lesson for the day: Never leave without signing out your Netflix.  People go creeping on your watched list later.)  So we figured out that it was mom, dad, and two young kids.  Then we signed their account out for them.

Deut 8:11 - 20 11 Make sure you don't forget God, your God, by not keeping his commandments, his rules and regulations that I command you today . . . 14 make sure you don't become so full of yourself and your things that you forget God, your God, the God who delivered you from Egyptian slavery; 15 the God who led you through that huge and fearsome wilderness, those desolate, arid badlands crawling with fiery snakes and scorpions; the God who gave you water gushing from hard rock; 16 the God who gave you manna to eat in the wilderness, something your ancestors had never heard of, in order to give you a taste of the hard life, to test you so that you would be prepared to live well in the days ahead of you.  (MSG)

When we forget our history, we are doomed to fall back into it.  God rewrites your future when you give it to Him.  He reshapes your hopes and dreams.  But don't forget His Word, to pray and to love others as He has loved us.

When we forget the sin, He brought us out of and the doom we so deserved, we become arrogant.

17 If you start thinking to yourselves, "I did all this. And all by myself. I'm rich. It's all mine!" - 18 well, think again. Remember that God, your God, gave you the strength to produce all this wealth so as to confirm the covenant that he promised to your ancestors - as it is today. 

With all the knowledge and wisdom we can accumulate, even at the end of our life, we still don't have enough to save us.  Don't forget. We need Jesus.

PRAY:  Dear Jesus, I need You, Oh, I need You, every hour I need You.  AMEN

It's Really Late

Got up early and drove to Orlando to attend the PFDC District Council.  Drove through a lot, I mean a lot, of love bugs.  Finally got to our destination with just enough time to take a shower, go to service, enjoy the after party, and get some supplies.  It's 11:41 at night and I'm exhausted.

But there was a song they sang in the worship service that I would like to share with you.  Take some time to listen to this and remember these words all day long.  Play it a few times while getting ready for your day.  Hum the tune all day long!  OUR GOD REIGNS!

PRAY:  Dear Jesus, YOU REIGN!  Amen