The Power of One: Become an Influencer

The Power of One

Media, in various forms, grabs attention and influences masses. God chooses the power of one, one person willing and available to step forward as His voice, His representation, and His reflection upon those around us. Have you experienced the power of one? Are you that one for others?

Moses lost his value and worth somewhere between Pharoah’s palace and the back side of the desert. When God called him to lead Israel out of Egypt, he saw only his inadequacy. But Moses’ brother Aaron came, willing to walk the journey with him. Only with his brother’s assistance did Moses agree to carry out God’s initiative (Exodus 3-4).

In her barrenness, Hannah appears to be the only one praying for a son. The power of one praying mother resulted in one praying son, Samuel, who listened to God’s voice and motivated an entire nation to love and serve God (1 Samuel 1-3).

One young woman, Esther, inspired by her brave uncle Mordecai, risked her life and pleaded for the redemption of her nation. The power of one resulted in many lives being saved (Esther 4-5).

God used a shepherd, a despised housewife, and an orphan girl to move in influence beyond all expectation. None of them realized the potential difference they would make. They aren’t alone. Biblical accounts of the power of one dot the pages from Genesis to Revelation.

Electric Power

One Man Sharpens Another

“Iron sharpens iron, and one person sharpens another.”
Proverbs 27:17

This familiar proverb speaks within the context of friendship. The Hebrew word for “another” means, friend, companion, or fellow.” I’ve heard people explain this verse as being like iron put to a whetstone, forcefully and abrasively grinding away at another’s dull edge. But the proverb more accurately speaks of the positive influence we have upon each other through living life in community.

People are being impacted by the way we live our normal everyday lives. How we deal with difficult situations, our attitudes, our values, and our choice of priorities affects others.

The caretaker-custodian of a church we previously attended was an retired elderly gentleman. He sang as he cleaned bathrooms, corridors, and sanctuary. He warmly greeted everyone who came through the doors of the little church. Often, after a few minutes in his presence, people no longer desired to meet with the pastor. His love for Jesus spilled over to everyone. He went from business to business in our small town, encouraging and praying for employers and employees. He travelled weekly to a smaller community holding services and praying for the handful of attendees. This humble man impacted multiple lives for the Kingdom of God. Through him, I, and many others, witnessed the power of one.

One Light

Though Heaven records this man’s influence of faith, few on Earth know his name. In some ways, he resembled Philip:

“Philip went down to a city in Samaria and proclaimed the Messiah there . . . so there was great joy in that city.”
Acts 8:4-8

The power of one ripples through towns, cities, and regions.

Looking For One More

Jesus said,

” . . . If a man owns a hundred sheep, and one of them wanders away, will he not leave the ninety-nine on the hills and go to look for the one that wandered off? And if he finds it, truly I tell you, he is happier about that one sheep than about the ninety-nine that did not wander off. In the same way your Father in heaven is not willing that any of these little ones should perish.”
Matthew 18:12-14

Wind Prayer

One Lamb Found!

“I grew up in New Age, discipled in meditating, automatic handwriting, and Ouija boards. I saw demons, heard things in our home, and was afraid of the dark.

During a retreat in Grade 12, I sat on my bed doing homework. I noticed my roommate reading a Bible. “Do you really believe that stuff?” I asked. That opened the door for her to share her faith.

We developed a weird friendship, debating spirituality. She was the only Christian open to talking to me. I looked for mistakes, wanting to find flaws in the Bible.

That year, she developed cancer. I regularly visited my “born again” friend, often finding her reading the Bible. “I’ve been praying or you,” she said one day. I didn’t understand how she could be so happy while extremely sick. There became less and less of her as she became more and more ill, but she had light, joy, and peace about her. What I didn’t know was that she and her whole family were praying for me, even during their trials.

She recovered, and we both went on to university. It took four more years for me to come to the Lord. I wrestled with understanding Jesus and what He did on the cross. In my final year of university, when I should have been the happiest, I was suicidal and depressed. Finally, I lay on the floor praying, calling out to God, accepting Him.

I casually told my friend and couldn’t understand why she jumped around beaming with excitement. God answered the prayers that she and her family had been praying for six years.”

This testimony tells how one young person experienced the power of one!

The Unknown Ones

Most people know Billy Graham’s impact on 2.2 billion people with the Gospel. Few know about Edward Kimball.

Edward taught a ruckus Sunday School class of teenage boys. Concerned about their eternal destiny, He visited a shoe store where one of his students worked to lead him to Jesus. That young man, Dwight L. Moody, affected thousands with the Gospel, including Wilbur Chapman. Chapman became an evangelist leading thousands to Christ, one of whom was Billy Sunday. Billy Sunday led Mordecai Ham to faith. Ham held his own street meetings and crusades, where a young man named Billy Frank received Jesus Christ as his Savior. Billy Frank is better known to us as Billy Graham. Every one of these powerful men of God trace their faith and ministry to a single faithful Sunday School teacher, Edward Kimball. Did Edward realize the power of one? Or did Edward simply love well where God planted him?

Lightning Power

Do you know who brought the Apostle Peter to Jesus? We continuously find him introducing someone else to Jesus.

” . . . ‘Look, the Lamb of God!’ When the two disciples heard him say this, they followed Jesus . . . and saw where he was staying, and they spent that day with him . . . Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, was one of the two who heard what John had said, and who had followed Jesus. The first thing Andrew did was to find his brother Simon and tell Him, ‘We have found the Messiah’ (that is, the Christ). And he brought him to Jesus . . . ”
John 1:35-42

I will never be a “Peter,” but like Edward Kimball and Andrew, I can bring people to meet Jesus. The impact and influence of the power of one unknown, unacclaimed, unacknowledged, everyday you and me cannot be unestimated.

Thankful for the One

My heart overflows with gratitude for the ones who guided me into the Kingdom of God. I look forward to meeting each one in Heaven. The camp counselor who led me through the sinner’s prayer while kneeling beside a steel-framed bunk on the cold concrete floor. Those who didn’t give up but continued to pray as this lost sheep wandered far from the fold. Others who patiently discipled this over-confident, zealous, fire-cracker toward the steadfast path of humble faith. They applauded my stumbling efforts and over-looked my blundering mistakes. Many have gone on to Glory. I wish I could publicly name you, but can’t.

Power

Saul of Tarsus posed the greatest threat to the early church. Saul, the assassinator and persecutor! Heading toward Damascus, Jesus brought his devilish mission to an abrupt end, leaving him blind on the road. One man risked reaching out.

“In Damascus there was a disciple named Ananias. The Lord called to him in a vision, ‘Ananias!’ “Yes, Lord,’ he answered. The Lord told him,Go to the house of Judas on Straight Street and ask for a man from Tarsus named Saul, for he is praying . . . ‘”
Acts 9:10-11

Though afraid, Ananias responded to God’s call. Placing his hands on Saul, he prayed. Through the power of one relatively unknown faithful follower, Jesus healed Saul of blindness and filled him with the Holy Spirit as a bonus.

It was also through the power of one other that Saul gained traction in the Christian community. Do you know his name? The one who stood in the gap while the Jews plotted Saul’s death and Christians cowered in fear?

Barnabas took him and brought him to the apostles.”
Acts 9:27

The Silent One

Often the power of one goes unnoticed, as they applaud the achievements of others, hide behind the curtain of obscurity, and diligently perform menial tasks. They remain the silent ones, without podiums, credentials, or microphones. Yet this chosen multitude impacts billions! Their influence in eternal destinies receives the highest heavenly accolades seldom, if ever, echoed on Earth. And with that, they are pleased!

The Power of One

I encourage you to think about, and if possible, thank your “one,” remembering who stood with you when you were alone, comforted you when you felt broken, encouraged you when you wanted to give up, and sacrificed to meet your need despite their personal pain. Remember again the one who prayed, who shared their faith, and who walked beside you.

Let’s thank God for the power of one.

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Superhero? Stash the Cape and Walk with Humility

Walk in Humility

Do I stash the cape or keep it? It’s fun designing characters for a children’s book. Artists and authors often use attributes they see within themselves or others for character development. Though super heros in flowing capes make great comic heros, they are hard to live with in daily life.

Recently, everything coming my way (videos, sermons, personal studies) focuses on the element of humility — an attribute I possess too little of! As much as I desire less pride and more humility, achieving that goal often requires time and effort.

Paul wrote to the Philippians,

“Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of others.”
Philippians 2:3-4

Zap

These wise words establish godly perspective. In both artistry and life, perspective is everything. How we position ourselves in relationships determines how vibrant those relationships become.

Looking Down

When artists portray a character struggling or defeated, they view the image from a high angle looking down. The reader will automatically perceive the character as being fearful or shy. Even slight variations, like a hand turned upward, give the subject a subordinate position.

For most people, deliberately assuming this lower position creates internal struggle. For most people, only rarely do we willingly desire to appear inferior to others.

Superhero

Jesus noticed this propensity to choose the best seats, highest places, and honored positions. In Luke 14, He tells His followers,

“When someone invites you to a wedding feast, do not take the place of honor . . . take the lowest place . . . “
Luke 14:8-11

Sooner or later, self-promotion ultimately leads to humiliation! Most of us consider ourselves too cultured and dignified for such brash behavior. But I honestly need to ask myself a few straight questions: How willing am I to seek advice? How readily do I receive correction, especially if it is from someone not in authority? Do I ask others for help or do I find my own way?

For me, these are all difficult. I would far rather be the teacher than the student or the one who provides than the one receiving. Most of us gladly halt what we are doing to help others, but stutter when asking for similar assistance.

Boom

For relationships to grow and mature, they must be reciprocal. Lopsided one-upmanship disappears when we let go of pride and perfection, offering permission to stash the cape. Reciprocal means giving and receiving — a willingness to take the lower position.

Eye to Eye

I hope many genuine relationships fill your life. Paul says,

“Therefore if you have any encouragement for being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind.”
Philippians 2:1-2

The strongest relationships I enjoy are those “united with Christ.” Though natural families form incredible bonds, spiritual ones become even stronger. When our natural family also becomes our spiritual family, we possess the best of both.

Hero

What propels relationships grounded in Christ? The first two attributes Paul mentions are the comfort of Christ’s love and sharing in the Spirit. To know how loved we are, despite our weaknesses and failures, releases us to love others — not as superiors but equals. Eye to eye! The Spirit dwelling within us, leads us into a fuller re-presentation of Christ in the world.

We can stash the cape, leaving any superhero facade behind. Walking on a common level, we experience tenderness and compassion, similar mindsets, and mutual love for each other.

Looking Up

Every picture book or movie presents a hero by looking from what is called the “worm” view. With a few artistic strokes the hero looms large, powerful, and independent within the scope of their surroundings.

A child running through the yard with fabric flowing off their shoulder’s announcing the world will soon be delivered, brings smiles from adult onlookers. Unfortunately, many of us carry our imaginary capes into adulthood, viewing ourselves with superhero status: superior and strong.

Pow! Bang!

We pull invisible capes from who-knows-where and masquerade as someone significant. Oh, don’t worry, we maintain our “Christianese” behind the polished mask of false humility.

Jesus’ words echo in my heart as a warning,

“The greatest among you will be your servant. For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”
Matthew 23:11-23

Scripture gives no room for “might” or “maybe.” They will be! Experience has taught me, the sooner I choose the low position and look up, the better for everyone!

One Hero

When I’m willing to stash my cape, refusing to pretend super Christian status, I clearly see the real Hero — the only Hero, the true Hero worth looking to. What made Him so heroic? He lowered Himself lower than I could imagine, becoming nothing, so we could become everything He designed us to be.

” . . . he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death — even death on a cross!” Philippians 2:7-8

Jesus became Superhero #1, for all time, for all people. He didn’t just stash a phony cape; He left Heaven, descended from the highest place of glory and power, to become like us — dust. Talk about a giant step downward!

Kapow!

Only when we see our glorified Lord will we fully understand how low He came. And the result? He snatched a dying world from eternal hell, trampled the head of that slimy serpent, and declared victory over every oppressive dis-ease the enemy once unleashed.

“Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”
Philippians 2:9-11

Stash the Cape

Jesus set the ultimate example, showing us how to restore relationship. The One who could have come like most comic strip heros, looking down on the world, didn’t! He could have dominated, intimidated, and controlled, but He wouldn’t.

Jesus came — looked humanity in the eye and walked at our level. He allowed people to pay His way, wash His feet, and serve Him, without feeling demeaned. Jesus also lifted people (demon possessed, adulterous, wicked, sketchy, diseased, contaminated people) from low positions. Each time, He demonstrated honor and value.

Stash the Cape

So why do we struggle to stash the cape, to show our flaws, and be real with each other? Why do we obstinately refuse the low road?

Jesus chose a different way.

“Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God;”
John 13:3

Because Jesus KNEW — understood completely His identity in the Father and His ministry — He was secure. The same possibility is true for us! Insecurity causes us to reach for superficial capes and earthly titles. Insecurity motivates us to look down on some, compare ourselves with ourselves, and desire the accolades of others. Security allows us to stash the cape and relate honestly.

The Frame

Every artist or illustrator considers how to “frame” their characters. Wide angle, or close-up? Left, right, or center? Through reading Daniel, God reminded me of the “frame” I need to walk in humility.

A dream disturbed King Nebuchadnezzar. He called in all his astrologers, magicians, enchanters and sorcerers — his full arsenal of dream interpreters — demanding they both tell him the dream and interpret it. They panicked, “You’re asking the impossible! No one on earth can do what the king asks!” (Daniel 2) True story!

Daniel quickly solicits the prayer support of his friends. As a result, God reveals both the dream and meaning. When he approaches the king with the answer, Daniel clearly says, “God in heaven reveals mysteries. It isn’t about me or my wisdom. I’m no better than anyone else, but God wants you to know and understand.” (Dan 2:28-30)

Daniel showed complete humility. He responded to situations by taking the low road, seeking the help of his comrades, claiming no credit for himself and desiring the good of others.

Supermom

That’s our frame for humility. God exalted — first, last, and middle. Others honored as better than ourselves.

So when you see the evidence of pride (no matter how subtle) in my strut, carried in my continence, or waffled in my words, I give you permission to tell me plainly, “Stash the cape, girl! Be real!” Please help me swap my phony cape for the legitimate cloak of humility.

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Thankful for Friends — The Friendly and the Not-So-Friendly

I’m thankful for friends I’ve brushed shoulders with briefly and those I’ve walked beside a long time — the friendly and the not-so-friendly. Their diversity amazes me! Who but God could connect my life with theirs.

Have you heard it said, “It isn’t what you know but who you know that counts?” Both the what and the who are important, but I’m holding closer to the who, than to the what.

If I sat down and made a list of those who have positively impacted my life, the page would be long and the pen without ink. I’m sure you would discover the same. To be known sometimes feels risky and perhaps even dangerous.

Several years ago, our son skidded off the icy road onto a frozen river. Someone seeing his predicament stopped to observe and help if necessary. “You’re a Ward, aren’t you?” he asked with a grin. As our son put the vehicle into four-wheel-drive and pressed the accelerator to mount the river bank, he wished to be unknown rather than known.

I’ve had more than my share of embarrassing moments as well.

The Friendly Friend

“Perfume and incense bring joy to the heart, and the pleasantness of a friend spring from their heartfelt advice.”
Proverbs 9:9

I hope your basket is full of friends you can turn to for “heartfelt advice” — those who stand with you no matter what you’re going through. Even if sometimes their words are directive or corrective.

“Better is open rebuke than hidden love. Wounds from a friend can be trusted, but an enemy multiplies kisses.”
Proverbs 9:6

Close Friends

Many times loyal friends loved me enough to instruct, even if it was with painful words. Their truth simultaneously stung and healed. Their correction brought me back on course, showed a better way, and challenged me to dig-deep and not give up on myself, God’s calling, or others.

Unfriendly Friends

We’ve all experienced those who have wounded us.

“If an enemy were insulting me, I could endure it; if a foe were rising against me, I could hide. But it is you, a man like myself, my companion, my close friend.”
Psalms 55:12-13

No wound goes as deep as the wounds of betrayal, whether intentional or unintentional, from those we’ve trusted. The psalmist David knew the pain, so did Joseph. Sold into slavery and imprisonment for fifteen years, he had ample time to think about how his own brothers sold him out.

Friends Help

Yet, he said,

You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.
Genesis 50:20

When those who should have been his protectors turned unfriendly, Joseph recognized the sovereignty of God. He leaned heavily into God’s plan and trusted His sufficiency. Through forgiveness, he counted even unfriendly friends as part of God’s infinitely wonderful purpose.

Job showed another example of genuine friendship, in spite of harsh treatment in his most vulnerable hour

“After Job had prayed for his friends, the LORD restored his fortunes and gave him twice as much as he had before.”
Job 42:10

Only after praying for those who wounded him did God release a double blessing.

Good Friends

Becoming a good friend doesn’t happen accidently. Friendship costs! The “art” of friendship developed slowly for me. As a child, I preferred the company of animals over people and solitude above crowds. Trust came gradually.

Friendship

I honestly wanted friends, but severely stumbled in my efforts to become a good friend. Friendship requires loving at all times (Prov 17:17), living sacrificially (John 15:13), dedication (Ruth 1:16,17), helping, forgiving (Col 3:13), patience and kindness (1 Cor 13:4).

The Best Friend

Several years ago, my very young granddaughter walked beside her mother down the street of a small city. A homeless man silently approached and passed them. With sadness in her voice, she softly said, “He doesn’t have a family.” Her little heart recognized the absence of loving support in the face of a stranger.

Even children sense that God has designed our lives to thrive in healthy interaction with others. For too many, such luxury remains absent.

Jesus made this remarkable statement,

“My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command. I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you.”
John 15:12-15

Jesus, God incarnate, chose to call us His “friend!” Not because we are worthy of such favor, but because of His love and grace. His incredible gift of friendship gives us the ability to befriend others with similar love and grace.

Best Friend

How amazing is that?

Whether you’re surrounded by many or few friends, don’t dismay. Jesus calls you friend! No other friendship compares to His; He will never leave you or do you harm; He sticks close, never abandoning or disappointing. You can fully trust Him.

“One who has unreliable friends soon comes to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.”
Proverbs 18:24

That “closer than a brother” Friend is none other than Jesus Christ.

Friends Protect

Jesus, a Friend to All

If you’ve never experienced the closeness of His friendship, my heart aches with understanding for you. Today, in the quietness of where you are, ask Him to come, not just to be your Friend, but your help, source and strength for all you need. Take this moment to turn toward Him, surrendering your life to Him completely. There’s no magic formula — just sincerity of heart.

To get to know Him more, download a Bible app for your phone or begin to read a standard hard copy, starting in the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke or John. By reading these portions of Bible, describing the life of Jesus on earth, you will discover more fully what an amazing Friend He is to all.

Blessings, my friends, I’m thankful you share your life with me.

Speak Blessing, not Cursing! Love is a Verb!

Paul boldly challenges the Roman Church, and us, to “speak blessing, not cursing.” All of us, from every generation, need the reminder that love without action is not love at all. Love is a verb!

Though many themes ebb and flow through his writing to the Roman church, personally none pierces my heart more than the theme of grace. The study of this epistle a few years ago reformed my thinking and rearranged my heart to love in a new way.

Love is a verb, not a thought or emotional response.  As a new Christian, I prayed, “Lord teach me to love.” I knew as clearly then, as I do now, that love requires a breaking of my self-centered, self-righteous, independent motivations. God alone gives the ability to love in a genuine, transforming way.

Grace and love flow outward to the deserving and undeserving.

Mankind prefers rather to

crush and control,
condemn and judge,
manipulate and intimidate,
strong over the weak,
healthy over the sick,
wealthy over the poor.

This ungodly propensity exists in every culture — Christian and non-Christian. Paul calls for an intentional turn-around in these natural tendencies, no matter how justified we may feel.

Transformation

Transformation starts from the inside infiltrating attitudes, words and actions. Paul sets the defining tone of love and grace in action.

“Let the inner movement of your heart
always be to love one another,
and never play the role of an actor wearing a mask.
Despise evil and embrace everything that is good and virtuous.
Be devoted to tenderly loving your
fellow believers as members of one family.
Try to outdo yourselves in respect and honor of one another.”
Romans 12:9-10

“Lord, teach me to love,” remains a key prayer decades later. Why? Love is tough!

I once read Neigel Bigpond’s story:

“My mother was sick in the hospital, and I went to visit her one day. When she opened her eyes, she looked at me and said, “Nin-zo-de-tow-yoot.”

“What does that mean?” I asked.

“It means I love you,” she replied.

“I love you, too.”

My mother responded, “No son, you don’t understand. Our Yuchi word for “I love you” is not like English… “Nin-zo-de-tow-yoot” means, “You are like a river that brings me life, and without you I cannot exist.”

That’s loving like God. Surrendering to Him so completely that others “are like a river that brings life and without them we know we cannot exist.” Quite frankly, God is asking for the impossible.

The Key

God knows I can’t! I know it, too! So He gave us the key to loving fully.

” Be enthusiastic to serve the Lord,
keeping your passion toward him boiling hot!
Radiate with the glow of the Holy Spirit and
let him fill you with excitement as you serve him.”
Romans 12:11

Love comes from God through the Holy Spirit. God is love — strong, unmasked, raw, pure. Only in passionate, “boiling hot,” relationship with Him will that love be evident in any of us. The dissipating of love in any dimension should drive us to our knees, “Lord, set us ablaze! Holy Spirit burn in us!”

Love is a verb! Active and powerful!

Circle of Love

Paul identifies the elements found within the larger sphere of love.

“Let this hope burst forth within you,
releasing a continual joy.
Don’t give up in a time of trouble,
but commune with God at all times.
Take a constant interest in the needs of God’s beloved people
and respond by helping them.
And eagerly welcome people as guests into your home.”
Romans 12:12-13

Another version says, patient in affliction and faithful in prayer.” Love hangs in there faithfully praying. At the same time, a season of withdrawing from gross dysfunction or severe abuse may be absolutely necessary.

I have helped people recede from unhealthy relationships, giving individuals time to regain personal health and wholeness. The goal of the separation isn’t to harm, but rather to restore.

Unbroken fellowship with God remains essential for individual and corporate relational health. In Him, we regain godly perspective and the ability to love genuinely and radically.

“Freedom is not the license to do whatever we want;
freedom is the choice to love.”
– Danny Silk

Love is a Blessing

I cannot imagine a life without love — either the pure joy of loving others or experiencing being known and loved. Love is a blessing, a grace gift from heaven.

“Speak blessing, not cursing,
over those who reject and persecute you.”
Romans 12:14

The things that come from our mouths disclose the reality within our hearts. When communication becomes judgmental and negative, we can be sure we have a serious heart condition.

Words are indicators and predictors!

The words of our mouth create the highway of our future — whether the way of blessing or cursing.

When David became an object of cursing and scorn, he appealed to God for help and strength. He gives a warning to his mockers.

“He wore cursing as his garment;
it entered into his body like water,
into his bones like oil.”
Psalm 109:18

Negative talk about others deeply affects our own health — spiritually and physically, individually and corporately. How important to speak blessing!

Bless Actively

Just like love is a verb, so is blessing. Blessing goes far beyond the words of our mouths spilling out through active care for others. Paul lays down concrete ways to demonstrate a heart that releases blessing.

Celebrate with those who celebrate,
and weep with those who grieve.
Live happily together in a spirit of harmony,
and be as mindful of another’s worth as you are your own.
Don’t live with a lofty mind-set,
thinking you are too important to serve others
but be willing to do menial tasks and
identify with those who are humble minded.”
Romans 12:15-16

Paul calls for a sensitivity, wisdom and humility to mark our relationships. Every word challenges me! Every action is to be focused on the needs of others:

promoting others when we would rather be promoted,
serving from a state of fatigue and personal need,
setting aside personal agendas to elevate those around us.

Love is a verb – selfless and fearless!

Conquering Love

Love conquers with blessing. God’s instruction through Paul becomes even more difficult:

“Never hold a grudge or try to get even,
but plan your life around the noblest way to benefit others.
Do your best to live as everybody’s friend
If your enemy is hungry, buy him lunch!…
Never let evil defeat you, but defeat evil with good.”
Romans 12:17-21

This is where I often feel overwhelmed. I hear within these lines a call to Christian extremism showing extreme love and compassion to our most oppressive enemies and most aggressive persecutors.

“Through the power of Christ’s blood,
we can exchange such things as curses for blessings;
guilt for purity; sickness for health;
lack for provision; sorrow for joy;
slavery for freedom; and death for eternal life.”
– C. & R. Wagner

How? In Christ and Christ alone! Unless the fire of Holy Spirit burns intensely within us, we will miss this incredible opportunity to live, love and bless. “Set us ablaze, Lord, and start with me.”

Trust is the Greatest Compliment We Give Each Other

Trust is the greatest compliment we can give each other. Trust securely glues every kind of relationship we experience together: parent and child, husband and wife, teacher and student, friend to friend, leader and disciple, employer to employee. We know the security of trust when it is present. Yet, trust is difficult to define. 

Every newborn baby comes explicitly trusting others to care selflessly for its needs. Yet, broken trust requires extra measures of responsibility, grace and time to restore.  

Love, honour, servanthood, and humility are just a few of the non-optional attributes we owe to each other. But not trust! In fact, Jesus didn’t trust everyone!

“Now while he was in Jerusalem
at the Passover Festival,
many people saw the signs
he was performing and believed in his name.
But Jesus would not entrust himself to them,
for he knew all people.”
John 2:23-24

What is this valuable asset, we call trust, in relationships? What allows trust to thrive? How can trust be restored once broken?

Five key elements must exist to create trust: empathy, motivation, ability, character, and history. 

Empathy

The dictionary defines empathy as an “ability to understand and share the feelings of another”. Far too often, our need to be understood exceeds our desire to truly understand others. 

“Do nothing out of selfish ambition
or vain conceit.
Rather, in humility
value others above yourselves,
not looking to your own interests
but each of you to the interests of the others.”
Philippians 2:3-4

Instinctively, we sense when people are more concerned with themselves than with others. Developing positive communication skills, including listening well, has been a process for me. We can learn to hear beyond people’s words to their hearts.

I honestly have to ask myself, “Do I listen well?” So far, the response is “Not good enough!” I am learning, albeit slowly, how to listen with more than my ears. 

Often words mask the real message of the heart. Will I look into people’s eyes and honour their unspoken longing — taking the risk, though messy and uncomfortable? Will I focus on their circumstances, their struggles, and their needs?

“Nobody cares how much you know
until they know how much you care.”
– Theodore Roosevelt

Motivation

Motivation, the reason why someone acts or behaves in a certain way, usually conceals itself in wounded caverns of the soul. We may be ignorant of our own “real” motivation behind our words or actions. 

Dr. Henry Cloud says, “Whenever we meet someone — especially a stranger but also a friend, a boss we see every day, or even a family member — we unconsciously scan the face, read the body language, and assess the tone of voice to determine whether the person is with us or against us. It is just what humans do.” 

“But I, the Lord, search all hearts
and examine secret motives.
I give all people their due rewards,
according to what their actions deserve.”
Jeremiah 17:10

By allowing God to search our hearts, we become people others can trust. The only way to effectively invest in the lives of others, championing their causes and helping them to succeed, is through pure motives.

When someone has “dropped the ball”, failing us in some way, will vengeance cloud our vision of them? Do we value them and the relationship enough to seek restoration? Will we stand by them until they walk strong again?

Restoring trust is the greatest compliment we can offer. Trust says, “I want you to succeed.”

Ability

It is amazing to me, how Jesus drew His incompetent disciples into ever increasing levels of ability. They floundered and fought. Yet Jesus trusted them enough (after only three years of training) to launch the Christian Church off their backs. Astounding!

Ability unlocks trust.
Trust empowers ability.

We often chose people for positions of trust based on credentials, certification or even the recommendation of others. Jesus chose The Twelve in a different way.

“One of those days
Jesus went out to a mountainside to pray,
and spent the night praying to God.
When morning came,
he called his disciples to him
and chose twelve of them,
whom he also designated apostles.”
Luke 6:12-13

Would any of us have chosen to trust this team? Would we have considered any of them upper level leadership? As Jesus sought the wisdom of God, He saw in each of them potential. 

Relationships require trusting the ability of others to bring what is needed into the situation. Trust says, “This is no gamble! I know that you can do it. You will do well.”

Trust is the greatest compliment we can offer someone who questions their own ability.

Character

Character resembles the steel structure in a skyscraper. It is the invisible strength that sustains a person through time and adversity. As fire forms steel, suffering molds godly character.

“Not only so but we also
glory in our suffering,
because we know that suffering
produces perseverance;
perseverance, character; and character, hope.”
Romans 5:3-4

Character includes far more than the moral aspects required to be trustworthy. Trust grows best among those 

who are optimistic,
know how to persevere through trial,
refuse to act impulsively or defensively,
are unstoppable by fear,
secure and tenacious.

People with these attributes possess character mature enough to trust.

“Character inspires others to trust them.”
– Dr. Henry Cloud

History

Past successes and failures historically map our lives. Paul and Barnabas, after much prayer and fasting, were sent off to preach the gospel. I’m not sure anyone was at fault, but soon we see the team divided over John Mark. 

“They had such a sharp disagreement
that they parted company.
Barnabas took Mark and sailed for Cyprus,
but Paul chose Silas and left,
commended by the believers
to the grace of the Lord.”
Acts 15:39-41

Paul’s impression of John Mark was clouded by previous experience — “history.” Mark once deserted him “in the work.” Barnabas, the Son of Encouragement, embraced Mark in spite of past failure. Paul refused to trust again.

 

Later, Paul considered him a valuable brother. Obviously something changed, either in Paul’s heart or in Mark’s attitude.

“The best predictor of the future is the past,
unless there is something new.”
– Dr. Henry Cloud

Broken trust necessitates change before it can be restored — often on the part of both parties. Such restoration develops over time, forming a new history. Trust is the greatest compliment we can extend to each other. It is the confidence to say, “I believe in you!”

Only One

Trust varies depending on the relationship. God is the only One we can completely trust all the time.

“Trust in him at all times, you people;
pour out your hearts to him,
for God is our refuge.”
Psalms 62:8

For people, trust is a work in progress through grace and vulnerability. 

Though we might struggle to move past times of broken trust, it is far more beneficial to focus on how we can become trustworthy ourselves. Let’s allow God to reveal our empathy and inner motivation. May we increase in our ability to facilitate trust with strength of character. Then, over the duration of our lives, we will develop a “history” of trust.

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Recommended Read:
Dr. Henry Cloud – “The Power of the Other” 

 

The Friendship Model – David & Jonathan

Most of my life has been lived in a rural farming community where friendships run deep and long. When my husband and I sensed God was moving us to the city, we had many questions. Now looking back, my heart is overflowing with gratitude for the new friendships developed. David & Jonathan form a godly model of mutual friendship.

In the last few weeks, one of my best friends has taken flight and headed south permanently. It is an opportunity I don’t want her to miss. However, my heart is filled with a mixture of joy and sadness, longing and releasing, holding on to friendship while letting go.

Friendship is walking together through life!

Friendships are as varied as the people forming the relationship, each a unique blend of the personal and corporate individuality.

Friendship Loves

Think about your closest friend. Where did you meet? What were the surrounding circumstances? Your friendship probably didn’t begin like Jonathan’s meeting of David.

David had just finished slaying Goliath, the harassing giant. The proof was his head tucked not so neatly under David’s arm. How is that for an image?

King Saul had just called David in for a personal interview. As soon as “Dad” was done, prince Jonathan introduces himself,

“Jonathan became one in spirit with David,
and he loved him as himself.”
I Samuel 18:1

Why such an instant connect between David and Jonathan? Jonathan, too, was a proven mighty warrior. As Jonathan looked at this half boy, not quite man, full of godly audacity, he loved him.

Jonathan loved David’s faith-filled reliance on God. He loved is courage, wit and agility. Jonathan loved David deeply and fully. There was an instant connection!

Friendship takes time to develop!

The strength of the cord within friendship is love – a love beyond self!

“Jonathan made a covenant with David
because he loved him as himself.”
1 Samuel 18:3

Friendship is Generous

There were some aspects of this friendship that may seem logical, but not all. Friendship gives generously!

Jonathan was so committed to David, he willingly surrendered everything.

Jonathan took off the robe he was wearing
and gave it to David, along with his tunic,
and even his sword, his bow and his belt.”
1 Samuel 18:4

Every symbol of sonship and royalty, Jonathan gave freely to his friend. In this one act, they became equals. Every instrument of self-advancement, self-protection and self-preservation was yielded.

The unity of genuine friendship embodies preferring another above yourself.

Friendship Defends

Increasing unpredictable and emotionally unstable, Saul planned to kill David. Such reasoning was beyond Jonathan’s ability to comprehend. To protect David, Jonathan stepped into the dangerous gap.

“Why should he be put to death?
What has he done?” Jonathan asked his father.”
1 Samuel 20:32

Friends grow together!

Saul hurled the spear intended to kill David at his own son! Jonathan bore the brunt force of his father’s unleashed anger. His father was beyond reason!

“…They kissed each other and wept together
but David wept the most.
Jonathan said to David, “Go in peace,
for we have sworn friendship with each other
in the name of the LORD..”
1 Samuel 20:41-42

What a beautiful illustration demonstrating the sacrifice between friends.

Friendship Strengthens

For fifteen years, David was on the run from Saul’s deadly intent.

“…Day after day Saul searched for him…”
1 Samuel 23:14

How do we help a friend is in distress? You know the kind! The day after day, relentless, nagging, intruding, no-hope-in-sight kind of trial!

I love this part of the story! Saul with his hundreds of expert warriors, trackers, and interrogators could not find David, but  friendship does. How far did Jonathan go to find his friend? How many caves did he search?

Friends stand together!

He ultimately went to the Desert of Ziph where David was hiding. Ziph means “melting”. Jonathan knew that his friend was in need. Perhaps faith was melting! Maybe courage was melting! The heat of the desert melts resolve, purpose and even divine calling.

“…Saul had come out to take his life.”
I Samuel 23:15

The enemy is always out to destroy, but friendship speaks life!

Friendship Encourages

The investments of friendship yields in multiplied measure. Friendship seeks to draw others into the fullness of all God has for them.

“Jonathan went to David at Horesh
and helped him find strength in God…
My father will not lay a hand on you.
You will be king over Israel…”
1 Samuel 23:16-17

Kingship should have been Jonathan’s portion, yet he reinforced the God call on David’s life. He reminded him of Samuel’s anointing and prophecy of kingship. Jonathan helped David look beyond the cave back to the palace. Beyond the tangled present to divine future!

Each time these two meet, we read:

“The two of them made a covenant before the LORD.”
1 Samuel 23:18

Friendship endures through the seasons!

Friendship went beyond mutual satisfaction or personal gratification to life-long commitment.

Friendship Endures

You are probably familiar with the rest of the story. Saul and Jonathan died in battle. David did become king. However, David grieved the loss of his friend – a grief that would not be solaced.

“David asked, ‘Is there anyone still left
of the house of Saul
to whom I can show kindness
for Jonathan’s sake.’ ”
2 Samuel 9:1

“Yes, Mephibosheth!” was the response.

David quickly had Jonathan’s crippled son brought to him. He restored his inheritance of land and provision. David also gave Jonathan’s grown son a place at his own table. In other words, David took Mephibosheth as his own son.

Though Jonathan was no longer alive, David found a way to honour and show love to his friend. Friendship endures even into generations!

Relationship’s Key

It is the context of friendship that sustains all viable relationships. Friendship is the unbroken cord holding fast personal relationships of parent and child, peer to peer, and husband with wife. It is the bridge often spanning generations, ethnicity, status, and gender.

The greatest context of friendship ever is God reaching down to humanity.

I no longer call you servants,
because a servant does not know his master’s business.
Instead, I have called you friends,
for everything that I learned from my Father
I have made known to you
.”
John 15:15

Don’t miss it! Jesus, the Lord of all calls us friend.

This brings me to my knees in humble disbelief and incomprehensible joy!

The covenant example of friendship between David and Jonathan is an image of the enduring friendship we have in Christ. We are as unworthy as the shepherd boy receiving the princes garments. He took the violent swing of death over our lives on the cross.

In our own desert of “melting”, Christ comes with the word of strength and encouragement, “you are My friend.”

With arms stretched wide, Jesus extends to us the profound simplicity and unparalleled favour of friendship! What a blessing to offer it back to Him in return.

 

 

 

Building Community – The Purpose and Power of Connections

How do we genuinely comprehend the magnitude of God’s intention for networks of friendship, bonds of community, and genuine alliances of faith? Whenever I write about community, I am walking on foreign soil! I am like an explorer mapping freshly discovered territory with the intention of others following and traversing similar terrain into healthy community relationships.

Jesus The Example

For my answers I must turn to Jesus Christ. No other human exemplified both the purpose and power of connections as Jesus. Jesus remains the benchmark of excellence! He chose his followers from the most unlike candidates who were

at times highfalutin and oft cantankerous,
more than a little rag-tag mixed with a pinch of upper crust,
self-centered and self-promoting.

Creating unity in community!

How did he solidify in these men unparalleled power-filled connection that would be reproduced through generations in spite of the unending assaults of government, church and society?

“He appointed twelve that they might be with him
and that he might send them out to preach”
Mark 3:14

I realize any group, large or small, must be built on two strong legs in order to not only walk out faith, but have the capacity to run the race Christ has established. The first is love and the second is honour. Without both of these pillars, our journey together will be crippled and distorted.

The entire purpose and power of connections is based on these two ingredients: love and honour. Yet in multiple meetings with recognized leaders, few mention either!

Love

When asked what the greatest of commandments was, Jesus minced no words!

“… ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart
and with all your soul and with all your mind
This is the first and greatest commandment.
And the second is like it:
Love your neighbour as yourself’
All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”
Matthew 22:36-40

A community of love and honour!

Paul would later dissect truth further in his letter to the Corinthians. He clarifies that without love, regardless of supernatural gifts and abilities, “I am nothing…I gain nothing”!

Any endeavour at building community without love is void and impotent.

I’m not talking about the here today and gone tomorrow shadow of  love, the touchy-feely, ooey-gooey imposter of love, or the make me “look good”, “feel good”, self-seeking mutation of love.

In true community love flows from the heart of the Father permeating every activity, conversation, discipleship, and connection. It bears repeating, without it we are nothing; we gain nothing!

Honour

When love is genuine, honour will also be sincere.

Pay to all what is owed to them:
taxes to whom taxes are owed, revenue to whom revenue is owed,
respect to whom respect is owed,
honor to whom honor is owed.”
Romans 13:7

Paul is writing concerning how to treat those in authority. Christ always went beyond the letter of the law manifesting the heart of truth. 

Community extends honour to all!

If the purpose of honour is to give merit, distinction or worth on the basis only of rank or status, it is a faint shadow of God’s intention, contradicting Christ’s example.

We see Jesus not just honouring people with title or position, but the lowly, despised, rejected, outcast members of His society. Honour is based not on social hierarchy, but the divine attribute and worth of being God’s image bearers.

When the heart of community is honour, it infiltrates every aspect of that community elevating each member. It is impossible to truly honour God without recognizing

  His likeness in every individual
and excellence in their personal uniqueness,
seeing purpose in His divine impartation
and gifts to His children,
while acknowledging His brilliance in every life.

By honouring the one, we honour the whole. In the honour of individuals, we honour the community.

Power of Community

The synergy of love and honour united this unlikely group of The Twelve into an undeniable re-presentation of Christ on earth.

If we believe that community is for the purpose of evangelism, we begin to treat people like a number on a list. If the attempt is keeping people from walking out the revolving back door of the church, community becomes a camouflaged prison of co-dependence. It is dangerous and deceptive to tag community’s primary purpose as discipleship. We cannot succumb to creating robotic reproductions full of knowledge and void of purpose.

Community - a fellowship of worth and purpose!

On the other hand, if every community is a fellowship of love and honour, each individual develops a sense of worth and purpose in their divine existence and calling.

People naturally encouraged and drawn into intimate relationship with Jesus
directly flows out of community.
The soil of community facilitates restoration and healing.
The wandering ones find a sense belonging.
Vibrant community environments release and develop gifts and abilities.

The united power of love and honour creates the fertile soil out which The Twelve became a hundred and the hundred became thousands, multiplying into a diverse and dominant worldwide movement unified for the glory of God.

Now that is genuine community!

“For everything comes from him and exists by his power
and is intended for his glory.
All glory to him forever!
Amen.”
Romans 11:36

Building community for the glory of Christ!

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Further Reading:

Friendship – Embracing Unity While Valuing Diversity

Lovelessness! Choosing to Love More!

Learning to Love More

To the statement, “I couldn’t care less!”, Mother Teresa responded, “I couldn’t care more!” To love is to serve especially when lovelessness surrounds us.

Several years ago our granddaughter, then around 3 years old, was walking down the street of a small city with her mother. Approaching them was a homeless man. Gently she pulled on her mother’s arm and softly said, “He has no family.”

She intrinsically sensed his deepest need. Without being able to articulate it, her 3 year old heart saw him uncovered, unprotected, unloved and without dignity or place of belonging. Already she knew that family, true family, is a place of love and value.

Family Love

[bctt tweet=”We look but don’t see! We see without wanting to look! ” username=”MAWardAuthor”]

Why did she at only three so clearly see what we as adults miss? “He needs a family! He needs love!”

We look but don’t see!
We see without wanting to look!
(Mother Teresa)

Lovelessness

“But anyone who hates another brother or sister
is still living and walking in darkness.
Such a person does not know the way to go,
having been blinded by the darkness.”
I John 2:11

Hatred to me is a very strong word. However, the literal translation of this word here is actually “to love less“. If I love anyone less, God equates it to hatred.

Why? In loving less, I become willfully “blinded” to the needs of others. I have opportunity daily to love more or to to love less!

Broken Love

Wedges in relationship are evidence of lovelessness:

Divorce says, “I love you less.”
“I am afraid to love” we whisper to the aborted.
Churches split because of lovelessness;
family feuds linger for generations in loving less.
Gossip, slander and complaining announce it!
Pride, prejudice and jealously demonstrate it!

Loving More!

Just the other day, a small group of young adults picked up a pan-handler, bought him a meal, gave him a ride, loved on him and prayed for him. For them, it was a natural act affirming value and worth to someone.

They loved more!

Love Lives Here

Another group of people I know have given themselves to consistently love and care for drug addicts, gang members, prostitutes and children in the inner city. They give more than a warm drink, food and a safe environment. Warm socks and jackets come with the hugs, prayer and genuine concern. Their motto? “Love lives here!”

They love more!

I recently met a young girl who cares deeply for inner city children who don’t have a safe place to go after school. She is spear-heading a ministry giving them food, loving and validating them, while teaching them bible verses and songs. Though she is little more than a child herself, she leads in tangibly loving about a hundred children in her area.

She loves more!

I also know a couple of grandmothers who are putting their hearts and feet in difficult places. They book a spot at porn conventions to “interpret dreams” as a way to love and pray for prostitutes, pimps and johns.

They love more!

Prayer

I haven’t mentioned yet those who:

  • foster children to make sure each child feels loved and wanted
  • risk they lives in volatile nations
  • go on medical missions, build orphanages and schools
  • jump into the lion’s mouth of domestic violence, abuse and brokenness bringing love and restoration

These love more!

You and Me

Though the dis-ease of love-less-ness is obvious all around us, you and I can make a difference. We have an ability to turn the tide, one person at a time!

I was recently told every person will influence approximately 20,000 people through their life, either directly and indirectly. Our choices determine what that influence will look like?

“The King will reply,
‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these
brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.'”
Matthew 25:40

Jesus considers His own brother or sister the “least of these.”

Many today have set their hearts to love “the one” in front of them. In so doing they have transformed nations! They recognize the face of Jesus in every person, seeing each as a person worthy of love and dignity.

Each one I touch with love will have a greater freedom to love others. With prayer, my little effort is a seed where more love may some day grow.

Colour it Love

Let us pick up the brush of faith and colour our world with love. By choosing today to have our eyes open to love, lovelessness can be broken in our midst!

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The Grace of God – The River of God’s Grace is Wide!

The golden thread of grace flows through scripture like a river wide and deep, sometimes gently moving, often in a torrent. All touched by the river live!

“God saved you by his grace when you believed.
And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God.”
Ephesians 2:8

A wise man reminded me that people “in the ditch” will argue contentiously. When it comes to grace, there has been much ditch walking and arguing.

One shouts, “It is the Holy Spirit who convicts and deals with sin. Stand back! Let the Him move!”

Responses stream in opposition, “We have an opportunity to show grace, while dealing with sin.”

Grace Along the Road

Neither ditch walker is willing to extend tangible grace to the other. The more we platform on a topic, it is usually an indication we ourselves are struggling in that area! God must be wanting to go deeper in my understanding of grace at this moment.

Sadly and with regret I remember that I have participated in such argumentative behaviour, dividing and wounding relationships.  I have had much to learn about grace over the years; much more remains to master.

Grace defenders often stand on Matthew 7:1-5. The passage actually speaks of judging rather than grace;

Do not judge, or you too will be judged.
For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged,
and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.
Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in  your brother’s eye
and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?
How can  you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’
when all the time there is a plank in your own eye?
You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye,
and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.” 

The essence of the argument beside the road of grace, isn’t grace. Rather, it is a fear of judgment.

Plank

A plank is nothing to take lightly! A plank in the eye would be clearly visible to others and completely blinding to one possessing it. Rough and unfinished, it quickly inflicts splinters on anyone who would come close enough to touch it.

Plank Wood

The number of “planks” pulled from these eyes of mine is innumerable. Some have been so enormous it has taken a troop of brave comrades to remove them with and for me.

Jesus clearly commands each of us to take full responsibility for our “stuff”, our planks!

 “…first take the plank out of your own eye…”

Whatever I have in my life that is

hindering my vision,
damaging my relationships,
potentially hurting others,
discrediting my witness,
or discolouring my integrity
I must get rid of it!

Jesus doesn’t stop there!

Sawdust

Sawdust

Sawdust is not clearly visible. Yet the damage of sawdust can be severe! Not only will it produce irritation, tearing and inflammation of the mucous membranes, sawdust can also cause infection potentially progressing to the brain.

Unlike my planks that have taken a team of heavy lifters to remove, dealing with sawdust requires close contact.

By using a mirror or even magnifying glass, in good lighting, one must look on every surface and behind the eyelids themselves. Drenching the eye with exorbitant amounts of water may be necessary. For someone to help me, they need to get into my face and look intently for any offensive particle, before removing it with clear vision, a steady hand and great care.

God’s Grace

Grace is necessary in the removal of both plank and dust. I need God’s grace working in me and through others to remove the planks from my life. God’s grace is also necessary to remove tiny but painful things. Large or small, in me or others, both can and will cause irreparable damage unless removed.

Jesus invites us all to the way of grace. United we make an unbeatable team! Because our gifts are different, grace also will flow differently through each of us.

In the Holy Spirit, some demonstrate grace by praying, supporting, blessing, and encouraging the frail along the way. Others, through the Spirit, are vital in getting into comfort zones and shining the light on truth, while gently and with wisdom stepping into lives at a level many would dare never enter.

Grace Team

On God’s team, grace flows freely through each one, creating a safe atmosphere of hope and promise for those around us. It is a rainbow of diversity in action that only God could have initiated. His grace allows us to appreciate every diverse form.

In Progress

John Newton said, “I am not what I ought to be. I am not what I wish to be. I am not what I hope to be. But by the grace of God, I am not what I was.” He wrote the infamous hymn:

Amazing grace, how sweet the sound,
that saved a wretch like me.
I once was lost, but now am found,
Was blind but now I see.”

God's Grace

“But by the grace of God I am what I am,
and his grace to me was not without effect.
No, I worked harder than all of them–
yet not I, but the grace of God that was with me.”
I Corinthians 15:10

God’s grace is actively at work, transforming lives and destinies. What joy to watch and be involved in this work of His doing!

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Further Reading: Grace Notes – The Extras that Matter! Supporting the Melody!

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Friendship – Embracing Unity While Valuing Diversity

Friendship

As years pass quickly by, I find myself appreciate more and more those who join me in life. Friendship combines the complexity and uniqueness of two into a unifying momentum.

Two people are better off than one,
for they can help each other succeed.”
Ecclesiastes 4:9

Getting “two people” to work in harmony can be challenging. (I speak from experience!) However, when two people are desiring to help each other succeed, a synergy and unity blends and energizes.

A true friend loves and makes sacrifices for the sake of the other.

Quote for the today, “There is no harmony when everyone sings the same note.” I have an appreciation for music, rhythm and harmony, especially when instruments or voices resound in perfect pitch and tempo. Friendship is like that!

Harmony

The distinctiveness of each individual adds colour and variety. Differences in personalities, motivations, gifts, and even weaknesses brings strength and beauty to the combined sum.

Two Heads are Better Than One

Have you heard the proverb, “Two heads are better than one”? A scientific study did verify the point, but only if both participants were confident and competent in being able to communicate their ideas and views.

It is helpful to gain advice from someone who is willing and able to express themselves clearly. Otherwise, the study continues to state, two people can create a deficient!

“…true wisdom has two sides…”
Job 11:6

Friendship is one channel to speak wisdom and insight into my life; it gives opportunity for me to also reciprocate.

A true friend defends and builds godly character.

Finding Truth

“But if you are unsuccessful,
take one or two others with you and go back again,
so that everything you say may be confirmed by two or three witnesses.”
Matthew 18:16

In the bible, two is the smallest number to verify truth. A charge could not be laid against anyone without at least two witnesses. Truth was established on the testimony of two or more.

Diversity Union

It is often helpful to bounce ideas off of or share vision with someone you trust. Friends can help us set realistic goals. Godly friendships help to ground us. They also provide an atmosphere to soar.

I can’t tell you how many times a friend has spoken a word of encouragement that gave me the energy to keep going. Equally, there have been times when a friends perspective has enabled me to see things I was missing, internally and externally.

A true friend delights in truth.

Commitment of Friendship

I am blessed with relationships that have endured decades

through varying levels of maturity
separation of countries or even continents
sharing joys and accomplishments
amid tragedies and pain
always strengthening
never ending…

Joined Together

When God is included in our friendships, there is a supernatural element of connectivity and strength.

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

A true friend is always loyal.

God is Present

Having a friend who will pray with and for you is invaluable.

“For where two or three gather together as my followers,
I am there among them.”
Matthew 18:20

Two people who love and follow Jesus create an atmosphere that invites the Holy One, the I AM, to influence and occupy the relationship. Two plus God defines indescribable unity and potential.

The prayer support of those around me is of great value. My deepest friends are those I share faith with. We rejoice together in victories, weep together in difficulties, contend together in weakness, and stand together in injustice.

True friends share faith perspective.

Equals

Just as the influence of others can be positive, it can also have negative impact.

“Don’t team up with those who are unbelievers.
How can righteousness be a partner with wickedness?
How can light live with darkness?”
2 Corinthians 6:14

Differences

I’ve also experienced many friendships where moral standards have been vastly different. However, one’s points of closest connectivity are of the greatest benefit when we share common faith and eternal perspective.

Those in my most intimate group of confidants and supports are those equal in vision and focus.

Can two people walk together without agreeing
on the direction?”
Amos 3:3

A true friend walks with you.

Friendship

An African proverb says,

“If you want to fast, go alone; if you want to go far, go together.”

Jesus illustrated the dynamics well of friendship. Though multitudes followed him, and many were called disciples of Jesus, He hand-picked twelve to spend concentrated time with. Out of those twelve there were three that were especially close to Him — the insider.

Let’s stick together for the long haul!

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More on Relationships:

3 Relationships We All Need and The Reasons Why

My Call to Action – Living and Communing Authentic Relationships