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The Value of Friends

I read this quite a while ago and found it very meaningful.  I appreciate how Noel Piper shared how the lack of deep friendships affected her and how being forced to make friends benefitted her.

An Appetizer for the Feast

by Noël Piper

Go ahead. Ask me what would make me happiest if I had a totally free day. I’d tell you that during such a dream day I’d be by myself, probably with a book. Right at the front of my personality assessment is a capital that means “introvert.” It could also stand for “I want to be alone—a lot.”

Over the years, when my husband and I have tried to untangle some of the snarls in my life, sometimes he’s ventured to ask, “Noël, don’t you think it might help to have some women around you to offer other perspectives and to pray for you and maybe give some helpful suggestions?”

I knew he must be right because King Solomon said the same thing, and his wisdom was so phenomenal it left the Queen of Sheba breathless (1 Kings 10:1–13). His writings in the Bible are even called Wisdom Literature. So I thought it probably would be wise for me to pay attention when Solomon says in Ecclesiastes 4:9–10a that it’s good to have friends because they support each other: “Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow.”

In fact, Solomon goes on to say we’re in trouble if we don’t have friends: “Woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up!” (4:10b). He says friends watch out for each other’s needs: “If two lie together, they keep warm, but how can one keep warm alone?” (4:11). And friends share their strength against adversity: “Though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him — a threefold cord is not quickly broken” (4:12).

So my mouth said to my husband, “That’s a wise idea.” But my heart cringed at the thought of letting people close enough to poke around in my weaknesses, my mistakes, my faults, and my inadequacies. I decided that I needed to get my life sorted out, then I could include friends — someday, when I could be a giver instead of a taker. “I ought to be able to manage all this,” I thought.

….  Continue


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Spaghetti Dinner

Folks around here will be itching to get out and about by Saturday.  Snow is still on the ground in much of North Alabama.  It doesn’t look any different here at my house since it did Sunday night except that the snow has melted from the metal roof due to the house heat.  We have also had snow flurries every morning since Monday which has added a new dusting each day.  The amount we would typically call a snow storm by itself.

Anyway if you are somewhat local (local is relative since some people are driving from an hour away like us) here is a thought for Saturday night.

Spaghetti Dinner

Hi, everyone!!! My family is having a Spaghetti Dinner to help raise these last funds needed to complete both our boys’ adoptions. We would love to invite you!

The dinner will be Saturday, January 15th at 5:30 PM at Bethel Baptist in Snead (about a mile east of the crossroads on the left of HWY 278–much thanks to Bethel Baptist for allowing us to use their facilities!). The price of each plate is $6 and includes spaghetti, bread, dessert, and drink. Also, there will be a Silent Auction at the dinner!

Please consider making plans to attend (and inviting everyone you know ;-)! What a great way to enjoy dinner without the cooking and clean up AND BE PART OF THE HANDS AND FEET THAT HELP BRING 2 ORPHANS TO THEIR FOREVER HOME!!!

(We are so thankful to be 100% funded for one adoption and about 35% funded for the other son’s adoption. God is amazing!!!)

Supper, Christian Fellowship, and helping in adoption expenses – what could be a better use of your time and money. :)


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Health Is Not Contagious… – Friends

Previously when we were in a church with separate Sunday School and children’s activities, we had to limit the interaction of our children with others due to the poor example set by the other children.  I know that is mighty judgmental of us and we should be “ashamed” for putting what is best for our children above other children, blah, blah, blah….  I’ve heard the arguments all before.

I have also been told that we should be more willing to have our children socialize in the loose children’s groups such as can be found in many churches.  You know the average class of one teacher and 10 plus students of varying backgrounds and family life.  We’ve been told “That these children need to be around obedient children so they can set a good example for them.”  That sounds well and good except that is not how life works.  It actually works in reverse, the obedient children learn from the more disobedient children more often than not.

Now don’t get me wrong, believe me I know how truly disobedient and sinfully selfish my children are.  We work on that daily.  But in the overall scheme they are more obedient than the average child even though we have a long way to go.  This also doesn’t mean my children can only be around “perfect” children – like those actually exist!  But the goal is for a parent to be available to supervise the children’s interaction with others so that problems can be dealt with immediately.  If you know my children you would realize they aren’t lacking for socialization nor are they shy and withdrawn.  But I do strive to supervise their interactions with others especially foolish children.

Proverbs 13:20 (ESV) Whoever walks with the wise becomes wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm.

I like the warning J.C. Ryle gives young men about friends.  We as parents need to heed whom we allow our children to befriend.

Never make an intimate friend of anyone who is not a friend of God.

Understand me, I do not speak of acquaintances.  I do not mean that you ought to have nothing to do with anyone but true Christians.  To take such a line is neither possible nor desirable in this world.  Christianity requires no man to be discourteous.

But I do advise you to be very careful in your choice of friends.  Do not open all your heart to a man merely because he is clever, agreeable, good-natured, and kind.  These things are all very well in their way, but they are not everything.  Never be satisfied with the friendship of any one who will not be useful to your soul.

Believe me, the importance of this advice cannot be overrated.  There is no telling the harm that is done by associating with godless companions and friends.  The devil has few better helps in ruining a man’s soul.   Grant him this help, and he cares little for all the armor with which you may be armed against him.  Good education, early habits of morality, sermons, books, all, he knows well, will avail you little, if you will only cling to ungodly friends.  You may resist many open temptations, refuse many plain snares; but once you take up a bad companion, and he is content.  That awful chapter which describes Amnon’s wicked conduct about Tamar, almost begins with these words, “Now Amnon had a friend, a very shrewd man” (2 Samuel 13:3).

You must remember, we are all creatures of imitation: precept may teach us, but it is example that draws us.  There is that in us all, that we are always disposed to catch the ways of those with whom we live; and the more we like them, the stronger does the disposition grow.  Without our being aware of it, they influence our tastes and opinions; we gradually give up what they dislike, and take up what they like, in order to become closer friends with them.  And, worst of all, we catch their ways in things that are wrong far quicker than in things that are right.  Health, unhappily, is not contagious, but disease is.  It is far more easy to catch a chill than to impart a warmth; and to make each other’s religion dwindle away, than grow and prosper.

Young men, I ask you to take these things to heart.  Before you let any one become your constant companion, before you get into the habit of telling him everything, and going to him with all your troubles and all your pleasures–before you do this, just think of what I have been saying; ask yourself, “Will this be a useful friendship to me or not?”

“Bad company” does indeed “corrupt good character” (1 Corinthians 15:33).  I wish that text were written in the hearts of all young men.  Good friends are among our greatest blessings; they may keep us away from much evil, remind us of our course, speak an appropriate word at the right time, draw us upward, and draw us on.  But a bad friend is a burden, a weight continually dragging, us down, and chaining us to earth.  Keep company with an unsaved man, and it is more than probable you will in the end become like him.  That is the general consequence of all such friendships.  The good go down to the bad, and the bad do not come up to the good.  The world’s proverb is only too correct: “Clothes and company tell true tales about character.”  “Show me who a man lives with and I will show you what he is.”

I dwell upon this point, because it has more to do with your prospects in life than first appears.  If you ever marry, it is more than probable you will choose a wife from among your circle of friends or their acquaintances.  If Jehoshaphat’s son Jehoram had not formed a friendship with Ahab’s family, he would most likely not have married Ahab’s daughter.  And who can estimate the importance of a right choice in marriage?  It is a step which, according, to the old saying, “either makes a man or ruins him.”  Your happiness in both lives may depend on it.  Your wife must either help your soul or harm it.  She will either fan the flame of Christianity in your heart, or throw cold water upon it, and make it burn low.  She will either be, wings or handcuffs, an encouragement or an hindrance to your Christianity, according to her character.  He that finds a good wife does indeed “finds a good thing;” so if you have the desire to find one, be very careful how you choose your friends.

Do you ask me what kind of friends you should choose?   Choose friends who will benefit your soul, friends whom you can really respect, friends whom you would like to have near you on your deathbed, friends who love the Bible, and are not afraid to speak to you about it, friends that you would not be ashamed of having at the coming of Christ, and the day of judgment.  Follow the example that David sets for you: he says, “I am a friend to all who fear you, to all who follow your precepts” (Psalm 119:63).  Remember the words of Solomon: “He who walks with the wise grows wise, but a companion of fools suffers harm” (Proverbs 13:20).  But depend on it, bad company in this life,  is the sure way to procure worse company in the life to come.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

J.C. Ryle - Thoughts for Young Men



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Time Is Urgent

There are several warnings in the Bible to take seriously the urgency of the gospel and the shortness of time. None of us know how long we have or how long those we meet may have. Just yesterday reading in our little county newspaper, I happened to notice that there were two 22 year olds and a 21 year old all listed as having died in the last couple of days. That was very unusual for so many so young. Why those young people died I do not know? But I do know that everyone that knew them are getting a fresh sense of how short the time is.

Ephesians 5:15-17

15 Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise,
16 making the best use of the time, because the days are evil.
17 Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.
ESV

Colossians 4:5 Conduct yourselves wisely toward outsiders, making the best use of the time. ESV

Psalms 90:12 So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom. ESV

The story of Lazarus and The Rich Man illustrates the urgency of the gospel and the punishment of judgment. Luke 16:19 – 31. Notice now that The Rich Man sees the importance of the gospel and wants to warn others.

Luke 16:27-28

27 And he said, ‘Then I beg you, father, to send him to my father’s house—
28 for I have five brothers —so that he may warn them, lest they also come into this place of torment.’
ESV

Luke 12:4-5

4 “I tell you, my friends, do not fear those who kill the body, and after that have nothing more that they can do.
5 But I will warn you whom to fear: fear him who, after he has killed, has authority to cast into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him
! ESV

The Holy Spirit will convict another of their sins and separation from God. Yet, we are to be obedient.

John 16:7-11

7 Nevertheless, I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you.
8 And when he comes, he will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment:
9 concerning sin, because they do not believe in me;
10 concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father, and you will see me no longer;
11 concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged.
ESV

Our obedience requires us to be urgent in sharing the gospel message.

If sinners will be damned, at least let them leap to hell over our bodies. And if they will perish, let them perish with our arms around their knees, imploring them to stay. If hell must be filled, at least let it be filled in the teeth of our exertions, and let not one go there unwarned and unprayed for.” C.H. Spurgeon.

If we take the punishment of sin seriously then we will warn others seriously. If you see a neighbor’s house on fire, you do not wait until a convenient time to go warn them! You warn them with urgency.

There is a price we must pay for not warning others of the judgment to come.

Ezekiel 3:18-19

18 If I say to the wicked, ‘You shall surely die,’ and you give him no warning, nor speak to warn the wicked from his wicked way, in order to save his life, that wicked person shall die for his iniquity, but his blood I will require at your hand.
19 But if you warn the wicked, and he does not turn from his wickedness, or from his wicked way, he shall die for his iniquity, but you will have delivered your soul.
ESV

If the truth were told, often our failure to share the gospel is not for love for our neighbor and the fear of offending them, but it is for a greater love for ourselves and the fear of our being rejected.

When we let our love for the Lord be our guide then we will share the gospel with any and everyone just as He commands.

How seriously do you take the gospel? Is it a matter of life and death?



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Dangerous Friendships

In the study I’ve done lately about friendships, the Bible has repeatedly warned about friendships with the world.

The tragic news about the Governor of South Carolina serves as warning to those who flaunt the Bible’s warnings. Even if your friend is not of the opposite sex, the world cannot help but try to pull believers deeper into sin.

Governor Sanford who claims to be a Christian has shown that friendship with the world is dangerous. The things that he has been quoted as saying prove the point very clearly.

He quotes 1 Corinthians 13 in emails to his mistress. He says his mistress loves him like his mother did “unconditional love.”

Governor Sanford has a friend counseling him who has very wise words for all who will listen.

Culbertson told the AP he believes that “everybody’s vulnerable, and there are no boundaries on darkness.” He does not dine alone with other women and keeps his office door open when he has a female visitor.

He says he has counseled many men “who have fallen in the position that Mark’s in.”

Everybody starts with the same exact story: ‘We got to be friends. We started talking. I didn’t mean for anything to happen,‘” he says. “That’s exactly where a sin begins.”

Did you notice that ‘We got to be friends. We started talking. I didn’t mean for anything to happen,’” he says. “That’s exactly where a sin begins.”

This applies to much more than affairs, it applies to all our relationships. It is real easy to be friends with the world and soon cross lines that you never would have thought possible.

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Friendships – Bad Company Ruining Good Morals or Iron Sharpening Iron?

We need to be careful of how we relate to the world and unbelievers. Although we are called to share the gospel, we are still warned repeatedly about how we are to use caution when we interact with the world. If we are not careful, unbelieving worldly people will lead us astray.

Even those that claim to believe in Jesus Christ can lead us astray if they are living like the world and listening to the world’s message.

Psalms 1:1-2
1 Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers;
2 but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night
. ESV

1 Corinthians 15:33 Do not be deceived: “Bad company ruins good morals.” ESV

Proverbs 4:14-15
14 Do not enter the path of the wicked, and do not walk in the way of the evil.
15 Avoid it; do not go on it; turn away from it and pass on.
ESV

Job 21:16,18 The counsel of the wicked is far from me. … That they are like straw before the wind, and like chaff that the storm carries away? ESV

Proverbs 1:10 My son, if sinners entice you, do not consent. ESV

Psalms 26:4-5
4 I do not sit with men of falsehood, nor do I consort with hypocrites.
5 I hate the assembly of evildoers, and I will not sit with the wicked
. ESV

Psalms 119:47-48
47 for I find my delight in your commandments, which I love.
48 I will lift up my hands toward your commandments, which I love, and I will meditate on your statutes.
ESV

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

John 17:14 I have given them your word, and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. ESV

James 1:27 Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world. ESV

This Iron sharpens Iron post was talking about how our Christian friends are to encourage us in our walk with the Lord.

“In the Word of God: If either of us are taking on a worldly view or just taking on the “acceptable” view on a topic and not using the Scripture as a guide, it’s not really iron sharpening iron. We’re just having a heated discussion.”

Proverbs 27:17 Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another. ESV
Proverbs 27:6 Faithful are the wounds of a friend; profuse are the kisses of an enemy. ESV

Hebrews 3:13-14
13 But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called “today,” that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.
14 For we share in Christ, if indeed we hold our original confidence firm to the end
. ESV

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

Colossians 3:16-17
16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.
17 And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him
. ESV

We can’t have serious discussions of this type with a nonbeliever because we are not using the same guide, God’s Word. Even if a nonbeliever quotes Scripture, you can be sure they will often quote it out of context or without looking at all of Scripture, such as ignoring other verses.

We are to share the gospel and make disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Mark 16:15-16
15 And he said to them, “Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation.
16 Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.
ESV

Matthew 28:19-20
19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,
20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
ESV

But while we are going about sharing the gospel we must be sure to not become stained by the world.

James 1:27 Religion that is pure and undefiled
before God, the Father, is this:
to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and
to keep oneself unstained from the world. ESV

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Jesus’ Friends and Enemies – Which Are You?

Whom does Jesus call His Friends?

Jesus calls Lazarus His friend.

John 11:11 After saying these things, he said to them, “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep, but I go to awaken him.” ESV

Abraham was called God’s friend.

James 2:23 Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness”—and he was called a friend of God. ESV

We are the friends of Jesus if we are obedient to His commands.

John 15:13-15

13 Greater love has no one than this, that someone lays down his life for his friends.

14 You are my friends if you do what I command you.

15 No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you. ESV

 

Thus Jesus was not the friend of those in disobedience. Jesus was accused of being the friend of sinners, gluttons, and drunkards by the Pharisees.  Although all people are sinners only repentant, obedient sinners are Jesus’ friend.  Jesus did associate with with unrepentant sinners but they were not His friends.

Notice Jesus was also accused of being a glutton and a drunkard by the Pharisees.

Matthew 11:19 The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Look at him! A glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’ Yet wisdom is justified by her deeds.” ESV

Luke 7:34 The Son of Man has come eating and drinking, and you say, ‘Look at him! A glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’ ESV 
Friendship with the world is condemned because then you become an enemy of God.

James 4:4 You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. ESV

Philippians 3:17-19

17 Brothers, join in imitating me, and keep your eyes on those who walk according to the example you have in us.

18 For many, of whom I have often told you and now tell you even with tears, walk as enemies of the cross of Christ.

19 Their end is destruction, their god is their belly, and they glory in their shame, with minds set on earthly things. ESV
What are we to do when another is an enemy of Jesus.  We are to pray for them, love them and share the truth of the gospel with them.

Luke 6:34 But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, for he is kind to the ungrateful and the evil. ESV

An unbeliever is an “enemy of God” so were we until God called us. We show unbelievers the same Mercy and Grace the Lord showed to us in His calling us.

Romans 5:10-11

10 For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life.

11 More than that, we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation. ESV

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