Friendship Famine

I came across an article today discussing the lack of friends among men. Friends really are hard to come by, especially for men. I understand for many their spouse is their best friend. I know that’s true for me, but should our life mate our only friend? Think about this. If you wanted a friend to join you for a movie or a football game, who would you call? I normally bring my grandkids to events that my best friend, my wife, isn’t interested in. That’s great, but it does show a problem. We should all have folks our own age and stage of life that we can spend time with and who are uniquely suited to understand what we might be going through. That’s something that’s greatly lacking these days.

Perhaps you’ve heard the mantra of friendship evangelism. Make a friend. Be a Friend. Bring a friend to Christ. Our friendship famine can’t be good for evangelism. Have you successfully shared the gospel with anyone in the last year? Certainly the best chance we have for evangelism is with those who consider us friends. It’s not a good sign that most of us have less than a handful of friends.

It seems, therefore, for our own well-being and for the sake of the gospel, we need to  be more intentional about forming friendships. How do we do that? If we can agree that a friend is someone we enjoy spending time with, it seems we should identify the characteristics of the people we enjoy being with and then display those characteristics ourselves.

I think these are the chief characteristics of real friends:

When you are with a true friend, there is undistracted presence. When you’re with a friend you head isn’t somewhere else.  Yet, it’s not all about him or you. There is mutual interest in each other’s lives. There is more than interest there is the ability to understand what each other is feeling and going through. There is the honesty and vulnerability that comes with real humility. Friends can laugh at each other and themselves.

What to increase your circle of friends? Look for someone you can be a friend to first. That’s where it must begin.

 

 

 

Petty Troubles

Got a little something in your life that isn’t perfect? Think you have problems? Consider:

Your job is a pain. Do you realize how many living right here in Acadiana would love to have a job, any job?

Your spouse is a pain. Do you realize how many would give anything to hold their spouse of decades just one more time?

Your kids are a pain.  I’m just one person you know who has lost a child. Just shut up.

Don’t know what to have for supper.  Millions won’t be eating tonight and haven’t had much to eat all day.

Concerned this is no longer a Christian nation.  Chances are you won’t be killed for your faith today. Not everyone is so lucky. The murder of Christians is now epidemic in many countries.  Besides if you were put on trial for being a Christian, would there be enough evidence to convict you?

Those fall allergies are kicking in. Do you have cancer? Is your life expectancy less than a year? Are you in the hospital?

Can’t seem to lose that excess weight? See “Don’t know what to have for supper” above.

The government is too liberal.  How many government benefits are you enjoying? 

The government is too conservative. How many poor folks are you helping?

Being a Christian is just too hard.  Most people will go to sleep tonight uncertain of where they will spend eternity.

I’m so bored. Read the above list again.

Have a nice weekend.

 

 

 

I need a Miracle

As Christians, we often get to the point at which we just cry out, “God, I need a miracle.” It might be helpful to remember that’s just what God is waiting to hear. Think about it. We are crying out because we don’t know what else to do. We are crying out because we have reached the end of ourselves. We are crying out because we need something SUPERnatural to fix whatever problem we are having.

That’s just where God wants us. Doesn’t it take floods and hurricanes and planes hitting buildings for folks to turn to God? We really think we can handle most of the problems of life. We can handle the bumps pretty well. It’s the mountains that we can’t move.

That’s not how it should be. If we are relying on Him for the everyday stuff, maybe we wouldn’t have to have crises and tragedies to get us to pick up our prayer lines and give Him a call. As parents we  all know about just hearing from our kids when they need something. Wouldn’t we like to hear from them when things are great in their lives and they are just wondering what we are up to?

God’s the same way. He wants us to want to spend time with Him. Occasionally, wouldn’t He like to hear, “I don’t really need anything big. Just wanted to hear your voice and spend some time with you.”

The good news is that it’s okay to cry out when things aren’t great. He probably let things get this way just so we would turn to Him. He’s already working all things together for our good. I’m not saying He made the mess we’re in. It’s probably something our mistakes, laziness or dumbness created. He’s just got the power, the love and the want to move that mountain. He’s just waiting to hear from us.

Father of Lies

“You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies” (John 8:44).

Every Christian knows that Satan is a liar and the father of lies. We just don’t always remember what that means.

His lips are moving.  We need to remember that the father of lies is talking. He may speak through just about anyone or just whisper in our heads. Those words that pierce or harm might be his. The ones that cause fear to rise are almost surely his. We need to constantly be alert for his lies. They could be coming from anywhere.

He’s really good at it. We all know some really bad liars. Satan isn’t one of those. He’s a really good liar. Lying is his native tongue. We all speak easily in the language we were born into. A good lie sounds like truth. It has an “element” of truth. When Satan lies, it won’t be obvious we are being lied to.

He Probes Prejudice. A good liar takes advantage of our prejudices. For example, if we don’t like a person, we are more than willing to believe a lie told about him. A good liar will take advantage of our insecurities and fears. If we aren’t secure in a relationship, he will take advantage. If we aren’t confident of our place in Christ, we will buy his lies of unforgiveness, works, and insecurity.

True Facts. False Conclusion. Sometimes this expert in deceit will take a fact and bring us to outlandish conclusions. We cough. It’s lung cancer. We have days to live. We receive an unexpected bill. I’ll never be able to pay it. I’m going bankrupt. We see two friends talking. They are talking about us. They are conspiring against us. We have no friends we can trust.

Lie Detector. The most reliable lie detector is the word of God. It’s one of many reasons we should be familiar with it. If we carry the word of God around in our hearts, a lie from Satan will be more easily detected. It just won’t seem right. Satan goes about seeking to steal and destroy. He wants to steal our joy. If we are grounded in the Word, we know that our joy is based on our status as children of God not circumstances. Satan will attempt to magnify our negative circumstances and distort the good in our lives. With our lie detector, we know circumstances are secondary. If we are secure in our relationship with the Lord, our joy is theft proof.

Satan, you’re a liar and a lot more than your pants are on fire.

Untitled

At Amana on Sunday we were blessed to have a visit from T. G. Koshy the founder of Faith Theological Seminary in India. It was interesting to hear what a man of God from a very different culture had to say to an American congregation. Here are the highlights:

  1. Pray for the President. Christians, particularly recently, have become outdone with politics and particularly the politics of our President. It’s clear that Christians are not a favored class in our culture these days. While our lives are based on following a God of power, we often underestimate the power of our God to change lives. Life changing is what our God is all about. It’s so easy to forget that we struggle not against flesh and blood but spiritual forces. We need to pray for our leaders, especially when we disagree with their actions. A man of God from another culture can see that need with a clarity that those of us who are involved lack. Bro. Koshy has also seen our God of power work miraculous changes.
  2. Focus on the spiritual, not the material. India is a very “spiritual” country. Sometimes the spiritual is dark there, but Brother Koshy is very familiar with the spiritual. He would, of course, quickly notice in this country how truly material we are as a society. It’s easy to put the spiritual aside because material issues are so much “in our face.” It’s the spiritual that’s eternal. How easily we forget.
  3. God operates in the trouble, the fire, the Lion’s Den. I don’t know about you, but I spend a lot of energy trying to stay out of trouble and complaining when I fail, instead of realizing that it’s in trouble that God works. Brother Koshy could easily see just how much trouble this country is really in. Instead of despair and panic, he counsels confidence, hope and faith in a God who specializes working in the fires, furnaces and Lion’s dens that we find ourselves in.
  4. God is ready to demonstrate that He is God. The discussion goes full circle, returning to our God of power. Sure God will emerge victorious in the end. We need to remember He is ready to show himself as in powerful control now, when there is a still an opportunity for lives to be changed and souls to be saved.

Brother Koshy, thanks for your faithful service and your timely word from the Lord.

 

The Tyranny Of Habit

We are under the power of our habits. Our lives are a conglomerate of repetitive acts. When we rise and go to bed, what we eat, where we work, if and where we go to church; all are not the result of independent thought but are just habit. Habits are fine if they are wisely chosen and personally developed. Most of our habits just happened. Is it any wonder that we find life boring, predictable and unexciting?

Our habits are not even original. They are formed by copying what we see others do. I’m not talking about others we admire, just others that we see from afar on television or in movies. We all seem to dress, talk and act alike. Sure we differ greatly on political or philosophical matters, but that’s just because we are copying the ideas and talking points of different groups of “leaders.”

We claim to be “followers” of Christ. Let’s check that out. What were the “habits” of Jesus? He had, such as, the habit of going off alone and spending time with His father. This habit was so unusual that it is repeatedly noted by the writers of the gospels. Most of what he did wasn’t copied from anyone. He owned nothing and had no place to lay his head. He hung around with the most notorious sinners, slammed the hypocrisy of church leadership, and chose his disciples from the least “qualified” men around. He wasn’t governed by artificial rules but by the mind and heart of his Father.

We need to mimic the habits of Jesus. We need to check in constantly with the Father for direction and strength. We need to develop life patterns, habits, based on God’s direction and stop copying, and worrying about what the world is doing. God created us as unique beings. Our habits need to reflect who we are in Christ and not who the world would like us to be.