True Friendship

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Throughout most of my life, I have wondered how many true friends I really have. It’s easy for people to say, “I’m praying for you” or “I think of you even when I don’t write,” but I always wondered if that were really the case (although I am guilty of thinking of people more than I write as well).

Lately, I have realized that I do have a few close friends, and I sometimes wonder why since many seem to have none.

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

I used to interpret this in terms of dying, but that is not the only way to lay down a life. I have been blessed lately by friends who are willing to serve me, going far and above the call of duty, and I’ve decided nothing says friendship like that does. I am very blessed to have a family that loves me and does so much for me but I’m not sure how to handle it when others do those same things for me. At the same time, I’m very grateful when they do.

I am also thankful for friends who text and email me just to see how I’m doing. This takes a bit of time and thought on my friends’ part so speaks “care” to me as well.

And last but not least are the friends I know who pray for me frequently. I know this is often what gets me through life. Without this, I’m convinced my struggles would be greater so I do not take this for granted.

True friendship can be measured in different ways. What means a lot to me may not mean a lot to you but the point is that the world is in need of people who really care. Christians should radiate love to everyone around them.

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Christians should be trustworthy, not given to gossip or slander. Too often, people suffer in silence because they don’t know who to trust, and the fact is they may not have anyone to trust. This is so sad.

You are called to be a Light in a dark world. Part of being that Light is being different. The only one you should be comparing yourself to is Christ. He epitomized love and care and compassion, and He wanted His children to extend that same love, care, and compassion to others. Instead, we tend to focus on ourselves and our needs that we forget about those who could use a kind, comforting word.

If you have a true friend in your life, someone you can lean on in your times of trial, who will pray with you when you need it and never make you feel like a burden, take time to tell that friend how thankful you are to have them in your life, and be sure to pray for them in return.

If there are people that God has put in your life to be a friend to, be faithful to be that true friend that points them to Jesus and shows them His love. After all, you may be the only true friend they ever have.

Willing to Be Broken

It seems no matter how long I walk with the Lord, there are things that are difficult for me to accept or understand. Especially when my body is under attack, I don’t handle it well. And yet I know that my God does all things well.

Not long ago, I realized that I had fallen into the trap that so many in ministry do: that of being too busy serving God to have a lot of time for Him. This bothered me and I determined to do better. After all, I can’t do what I do without His help. Well, God granted that desire, just not how I would have chosen and, honestly, I’ve struggled with it.

I don’t know why I still fight God sometimes. In my heart, I know His way is best but my mind does not always want to accept it. I hate limitations. But right now God is using these limitations that I despise to draw me closer to Him. I’ve needed this time but it took God intervening, mercifully helping me to slow down and acknowledge Him and allow Him to direct my paths.

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The fact is that, even in the valley, God is good. Our job as His children is to be still and know that He is God. He desires to be exalted in our lives and will do whatever He needs to do to accomplish that. I, for one, am thankful. I don’t want to get so far away from my Savior that I don’t realize I’ve strayed.

I’m not through my valley yet but I am learning to rest in the fact that I am where He wants me for a (hopefully short) season.

No one likes being broken. Our pride rebels at the first sign of weakness or not getting our way. And yet Scripture tells us that a broken heart He will not despise (Psalm 51:17). If I want to please Him, I must have a put away all haughtiness and stubbornness and be willing to be broken for Him.

I don’t know what all God is doing in my life right now, but I know whatever He does will be for my good and His glory. I pray I come through this stronger than ever before. And that is my prayer for you as well.

Christians are not always strong. We need God to make it through this life. Storms come. Trials bombard. But we still serve a loving God. He is right there with arms outstretched waiting to comfort and hold and wipe away your tears. All you have to do is ask.

Reach Out

A friend and I were talking recently, and it seems like a lot of people have a hard time truly getting close to others. Maybe they would consider themselves having close friends but, when it comes to deep conversations about spiritual things or what is going on in their lives, they feel uncomfortable. Maybe they are afraid of losing that friendship or maybe they were raised in a home where “what goes on in the home stays in the home.” There is a place for that, but I feel like there are a lot of lonely people because of this mindset.

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Several years ago, I found myself saying, “I don’t need more surface friends; I have plenty of those.” I was looking for friends I could be real with, who would bear with me if I wasn’t always “up.” Looking at my life now, I realize God answered the cry of my heart. I have many friends where the extent of our relationship is catching up periodically and praying for each other as God brings them to mind. But I also have some that I believe truly love and care for me and who would do anything for me if they were capable of doing so. These are friends who will take time to listen to me when I’m up and when I’m down. On the days that I can only cry, they are there to encourage me and make sure I’m OK. This is priceless to me.

I realize not everyone has this, and many are afraid to be real because they don’t want to risk rejection. I understand this but I also know we live in a world that is longing for love. You don’t know when you might reach out to that person who will walk with you in good times and bad.

We were not meant to be alone. Sure, there are times that God brings us through deserted valleys to draw us closer to Him, but many times we are there because of our own decisions and our unwillingness to trust. I know because I’ve been there.

God is obviously the best friend you could have and the most important friend to go to in time of trouble. However, if you do not have someone in your life that will encourage you and pray with and for you when these times come, ask God to show you who may be willing to be that person in your life. Is there anyone you have a burden for that you could reach out to and be that kind of friend for them? It could be a neighbor, a relative, someone at church … whoever it is, follow God’s leading and trust Him to bless.

How Necessary is Experience?

We live in a society where people won’t receive advice from those who haven’t “walked in their shoes.” The older I get, the more I realize that experience is not always necessary.

Whether I have been married or not, I know how husbands and wives are to treat each other. Whether or not I ever have children, I know a few things about what works and what doesn’t work in raising children. I also realize that all children are different, so what works for one may not work for another. Basic principles can be the same though.

The Bible has clear guidelines as to how a person is to live. It really doesn’t matter what I would do if I were going through your circumstances. There is still a right way to handle a situation and a wrong way.

I believe part of the reason people get defensive is that they do not want to be judged for bad decisions they are making. If you are living in any way contrary to the Word of God, you are judged already. No one should be unwilling to receive input, regardless of the source.

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For many years, I have periodically counseled people on marriage, parenting, and other issues. I often felt unqualified, but people needed help so I prayed and asked God for wisdom. Between Scripture and things I have learned from reading, praying, and watching others, I believe God used me during those times.

Too many times, people use excuses to do what they want to do. They are not interested in what the Bible says; they want to do what feels good in the moment. Because of this, children are hurt by parents divorcing. Selfishness reigns so that there is constant heartache and strife. God gave instructions for a reason. He loves His children and desires them to live a peaceful, holy life that He can bless. There is a reason that he condemns greed, envy, unforgiveness, hatred, etc. Those things cause us to do things that we will live to regret … if we live long enough.

Maybe I haven’t gone through what you are going through, but I know we serve a loving God. I know that His plan for you is good and not evil … IF you follow His ways.

Christian Adoptive Homeschoolers

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I would appreciate prayer over a serious matter. As many of our readers know, my wife and I were privileged to adopt two little ones into our home about 7 years ago. Since then, I have long lamented that there is little in the way of Biblical resources for how to handle many situations that arise due to adopting a child or two or more into the family.  I was encouraged by a friend to begin finding a forum that could be used to compile resources that would help Christian families.

We have begun with a Facebook group and one day hope to expand it into a regular blog and more as the Lord directs. Prayers are appreciated for this new endeavor. There will be opposition to some of the solutions we will strive to present, but our foremost goal is to glorify God in all things. There are also blessings as this is obviously something that seems to be needed and addressed. In less than 2 days, we already have over 60 people who have asked to join the group.

The group is being built as a means of support for Biblical families who have been blessed by God to be able to adopt a child or children or who are looking to do so. It is also for those families and friends who are actively supporting those who are or who have adopted.

Finally, while there are unique challenges to adopting children, a primary purpose of this group is to provide Biblical answers to those challenges in many different areas including special needs, discipline, and education.

Thank you for your prayers.

 

Not Everyone Can Be The Mouth

Not Everyone Can Be The Mouth

This article contains an excerpt that was taking from my book, Apocity: The Greatest Omission which can now be downloaded for free.
This portion of the book is emphasizing the true meaning behind 1 Corinthians 12, and how this passage cannot be used as means to say that  evangelism is the “mouth” of the body, and therefore, seeing that we have differing roles/gifts, not everyone can be the mouth. Sadly, there are variations to this excuse.


The idea that not everyone can be a consistent witness because they are not “the mouth” is also wrongly pulled out of 1 Corinthians 12. I have actually heard men (more often pastors and teachers within the congregation) say “not everyone can be the mouth.” In other words, we are
not all gifted with the gift of evangelism, and the mouth is the metaphor they use to describe those that do have it. Once again, this is urban legend, and I will clear up this confusion.

When you look at 1 Corinthians 12, right from the get go, in verse 1 Paul clearly says, “now concerning spiritual gifts.” This is a good clue that Paul is about to clarify some things for the Corinthian church. This issue with spiritual gifts and the divisions within the church was one of the reasons Paul wrote 1 Corinthians in the first place. In verse 4 he mentions how there are “diversities of the gifts” that come from the same Spirit. Verse 11 reveals how the Spirit passes out gifts as He wills (This challenges those who think that you have to speak in tongues as proof that you have received the baptism of the Holy Spirit. See Chapter 5). Then, in verse 12, Paul begins to emphasize the unity of the body not only because we are all partakers of His Spirit through salvation (v13), but also because of how the diversity of the members affect the unity of that body. In other words, Paul is trying to give us an illustration that even though there are different gifts within the body of Christ, these divisions of gifts do not mean we are divided as a body. We are unified together by the Spirit, who distributes these gifts, and one gift is not more important than the other in the grand plan of the Church. Are you following? If not, this next part may be harder for you to grasp.

When you look at the metaphor that Paul uses for the body, he repeatedly gives us clues as to what he is trying to get across to the Corinthian church. In verse 15 he says, “If the foot should say, ‘Because I am not a hand, I am not of the body,’ is it therefore not of the body” (Emphasis added). He asks the same questions concerning another body part in verse 16. Verse 21 he says, “And the eye cannot say to the hand, ‘I have no need of you;’ nor again the head to the feet, ‘I have no need of you.’” Once again, Paul seems to be hinting at something here, and in verse 22 he gets to his point: “… those members of the body which seem to be weaker are necessary.” So basically Paul is trying to say that every member of the body is “necessary” no matter what gift, no matter what background (v13), and no matter how weak one seems to be (v23-24). Paul has said all this so that we realize that everyone within the body should need one another and that we should benefit from each other’s gifts, strengths, weakness, and backgrounds (v25). I might have been very general with my exegesis of this text but my purpose is not to get to the small details (that would be a whole other chapter), but to make some observations that I believe will squash this idea that evangelism is a gift, specifically here, “the mouth.”

If you are one to believe that not everyone can be the mouth (insinuating the mouth being a spiritual gift), or you have heard this from someone and think it is a valid statement, then here are some points to consider. 1) Where in this chapter does it specifically mention evangelism? The urban legend that evangelism is a gift still applies here too, not just Ephesians 4. Also, if you are saying that not everyone
can be the mouth, then you have to show me from 1 Corinthians 12 how believing this is in any way a “get out of witnessing free” card, because that is not Paul’s intent in this particular chapter of Corinthians. 2) Paul did not mean for this chapter to be used as a cop out to not preach the gospel. If you remember what I said in the previous paragraph, Paul’s main concern was unity. There seemed to be divisions in the church for various reasons, and the insinuation that Paul gives in numerous verses is that some believed that there were others that were not needed, or that they were not a part of the body because they seemed weaker or less honorable. There might be more background to this, but the main point is that Paul was more specifically targeting the need for everyone within the body and for every spiritual gift, rather than just emphasizing certain ones over the other. 3) Where does “not being the mouth” come into this metaphor? If you read this chapter carefully, when Paul used the metaphor of the body it wasn’t for us to figure out which body part we are (or think we are), it was to help us understand the importance of unity within a human body and relate that to the body of Christ. This was his main point! It is so absurd when I hear people call this person a foot, or that person the hand, or evangelism the mouth. This is not what Paul is saying! 4) When was the last time you did something without all body parts involved? If evangelism is the mouth, does that mean I don’t use my hands or my feet to preach? The Bible talks about feet being beautiful for preaching the gospel (Romans 10:15), so does this mean not everyone can be the feet either? Do I need someone who is the arms carry me to my corner to pass out tracts because I am not gifted in doing it myself? I am being very caustic for a reason. I have become so sorrowfully burdened about these vain attempts to explain away our responsibility to preach that it has caused me great spiritual distress to see professing believers continually making urban legends, like not being a mouth, a popular excuse. The nature of these excuses call into question the salvation of many who call themselves believers (a topic we will explore in the next chapter).

I can understand that there are persons within the body who are skilled in certain areas in which others are not. For instance, there are men and women who fly missionaries to their destination for the glory of God. These saints risk their lives to fly over dangerous areas to do  amazing things for God. Here is my question though: Just because they metaphorically can be the arms that carry missionaries where they need to go, does that remove their responsibility to preach to the lost themselves? Just because my primary job is “an arm” (I don’t actually believe that, just proving a point) does that mean I don’t have a mouth? If anything, anyone who is supporting evangelism efforts would see the importance of evangelism and would feel the obligation to preach themselves. This example goes for those who mow lawns for the church, who do the finances, those who usher, teenagers in youth group, deacons, pastors, and the list goes on! Your primary duty within the local church includes evangelism. Evangelism is not a secondary duty; it is the indivisible infrastructure of your calling as a Christian!

At this point, I feel it is necessary to say this. As I previously said in Chapter 2, I understand that the roles that God has given within the local church are for us to be perfected and conform to the image of Christ. I am not blind to the reality of our weakness, nor do I think that each
person’s gifting is unimportant. I know that pastors have a part, deacons, leaders, congregations, members, etc.; all play an important part in the whole of the universal church of Christ. What the revelation of Scripture seems to imply, however, is that none of that infringes upon our call to be faithful in our witness. None of it! There is no such gift of evangelism and there are no Scriptures that we can use to justify this position. If we refuse to accept this reality, then gross apocity among many local churches will continue. And I do not know about how you, reader, may feel about it, but I think God is weary of it.

 

-Until we go home