Peace in the Storm

As I write this I have been in touch with a number of leaders and believers in a number of countries. Countries where the COVID-19 virus has hit and hit hard. Church buildings are closed. Various limits have been set as to size of groups that can meet. People are shut-in and on lockdown and have trouble adjusting. Others are needing to learn new skills to connect with people electronically. There seems to be a steep learning curve for many who are not use to being home, being alone, and unable to go out for coffee whenever they want to. Everyone, regardless of where they live, is experiencing major adjustments in their lifestyle. 

We might say that we are all living in a storm which hit suddenly and unexpectedly. And, we were not really all that prepared. 

As I listen, relate, write, connect, text … I note a sense of panic and deep concern in the hearts of those I speak with. Christians and non-Christians alike. It seems that life has changed so drastically and so quickly that they are scrambling to adjust and change their lifestyle to fit the new norm. They are working to keep the 2 meter social distance. They are lining up at grocery stores waiting their turn to get in the door. They are only able to buy a coffee by drive-through. Doctor’s appointments are by phone and not in person. They can’t visit loved ones in hospital or in jail. The norm is no longer normal. And, no one can tell them when it will all end; if it will all end. It is uncertain when life will go back to normal or even if it will. And, if it does, what will the new normal look like?

Of course, I have personally faced a number of changes. I can no longer travel and so that eliminates the majority of my income. Our local church can’t meet so my ability to fellowship is seriously limited. I can’t visit people in hospitals or even shut-ins. The list of changes and adjustments in my life and ministry is almost endless.

But, I am working to see the positive. I am having many more opportunities to tell people about Jesus as they are open to spiritual discussions. I have more time to read and write. I have great office computers and technology enabling me to stay in touch with people around the world. I am home more and both my wife and my dog are appreciating that a lot. I can shop at special senior hours (7:00a in the morning). I am catching up on things around the house that have been neglected for years. And, I am heathy.

I am taking the opportunity to examine my life and my ministry and placing new value on some things and lesser value on others. I am taking advantage of the extra time at home to determine new priorities and how things will change for me and for the ministry as the restrictions on life are lifted. I am taking time to do a “spiritual inventory” and get closer to the Lord.

In spite of being in the age category (with underlying medical concerns) that needs to be extremely careful I have no anxiety or worry or even concern. As I mentioned, I have lost the majority of my income as I cannot travel to work (minister) and even that does not rattle me. I gave my life to the Lord in 1976 and since that day He has been in control and I have trusted Him with the details of daily life, including my financial well-being. I have allowed Him to guide and direct, care and protect, and I look to Him as the Source of all that I need. I have learned to rest in Him and walk in the ‘perfect peace’ that only He can supply. 

So, as I listen to the panic; hear the concerns; sense the worry and anxiety in the hearts and lives of those I relate to; as I hear the issues and circumstances people are facing because of the virus; I can only suggest that Jesus is the answer in all of this. I know that sounds simple or even simplistic but it’s true. He is God and God is still in control. And, nothing that is happening has surprised Him. But, most of all when you put your life into the hands of Jesus He gives us a supernatural peace that passes all human logic and understanding. 

“I leave the gift of peace with you—my peace. Not the kind of fragile peace given by the world, but my perfect peace. Don’t yield to fear or be troubled in your hearts—instead, be courageous!” (John 14:27 TPT)

And, I would add, this is a great time to be bold and tell others about Jesus. 

I Recently Turned 73…

So 12 days ago I turned 73. Really I just became a day older but the world sadly does not celebrate days but years. So, it was time to celebrate turning 73. I hate being the center of attention. I don’t need another gift – something to read, dust, wear, or take care of. I am trying to travel lighter and purge myself from unneeded and unnecessary personal belonging. And, a party is not something an introvert looks forward to. I look at the specific birth day and think “This too shall pass.” Of course, this year with COVID-19 it was a quiet celebration. Just my wife and I and some terrific smelling (and tasting) homemade soups (chicken rice and beef vegetable). 

The night before my birthday I got a request from further west in Canada. A phone call near 11:00p in the evening. My time to read and unwind. I start early in the morning in my study, spend 6 to 8 hours in my office afterwards and then I shut down. You know, “you have a ministry, get a life.” Well, I don’t answer calls after 9:30p so it went to my message system. It was a call from a total stranger looking for a prophetic word. We don’t give prophetic words by text, email, internet, or by phone. If we did it would occupy half of every working day there are that many requests.

I eventually wrote back that we only gave prophetic words at public services where they can be judged by local elders and pastors. Got a text back immediately. “Call me” it said. I said, “No.” I don’t even know who this person is and they have not left their name in any of the contacts. They were not even polite in their messages. Suggested that they needed to find a local church and seek help there. Well, then came a request for prayer … about God haters and… Well, you get the picture. 

These kinds of requests – some normal and some out of this world – come more often than you think. They come as a result of having a Christian ministry web site in both English and Russian. I understand people’s needs and that some people have experienced major trauma earlier in life and may be going through difficult situations even currently. And, I certainly don’t ever want to be cold towards people with life issues. But, I am not the answer to everyone’s problems. I cannot meet every need that comes my way. I cannot instantly fix things that took years to break down. I don’t have the time nor the interest in giving everyone a prophetic word who needs one – which is everyone, I suspect. And, prophetic words do not solve problems. Often they create more issues that need to be dealt with (Ask Joseph – his story is in the Book of Genesis).

Over the years I have been somewhat careful to stay within the calling God has on my life at this point of time. That is not as easy as it sounds because there are so many needs to be met and ministry opportunities offered. It is never easy, at least for me, to say no. 

Most days I can say that I am in the center of His will for my life. The calling has changed over the years and the way ministry is accomplished has most certainly changed. And, I have been very sensitive to the leading of the Holy Spirit throughout my ministry. I try to maintain the focus that I am working for an audience of One – God. Which means I don’t please everyone and have no motivation to meet a need simply because there is a need.

The focus on my ministry has been narrowing over the years. Partly because of words the Lord has prophetically spoken. Partly because I can’t do at 70+ what I use to do at 30+. And, in the past much of the help I offered was, in my opinion, a waste of time because most people really didn’t want to change and move on. The didn’t want help they wanted sympathy. Other times I just wasted time and ended up feeling used and abused. Now, at 73 years of age, I want to narrow the focus so that I invest my time and no longer waste or just spend time ministering. The wise use of my time is to invest it and not just waste it or spend it. Time is precious.

To properly invest what remaining time I have on the planet I need to narrow the focus of my ministry. Not easy to do with all the needs people and churches have. Not easy because often I could help and know what to do. Not easy because I love people and want the best for them. Not easy because after 50+ years of ministry I have seen a lot and could help many from going off track in their walk with the Lord.

But the only thing that matters is what the Lord is asking me to accomplish for Him at this point in my life. He has not left me guessing or wondering. He has been very direct in speaking to me, guiding me and directing me. Some changes have already been implemented. There are other changes that I am ready to make but need to know it is the right time to do so. God’s will is not a mystery. As I start a new year of life and ministry I am excited to be alive and in God’s will for my life. The greatest challenges still lie ahead. 

So, what is God’s calling on your life and what is it He is leading you to do? And how does He want you to do it?

Peter the apostle wrote:

“Therefore, brothers, be all the more diligent to make your calling and election sure…”    2 Peter 1:10a ESV

What’s The Question?

A note from a pastor I recently read…

Something just happened that made me stop and think. I was sitting in my office, typing away, when Package Delivery Guy dropped off a package. (I know his name but I’m guarding his anonymity). I like this guy a lot. I see him often, and he’s really cool, but he just said something that makes my skin crawl.

Package Delivery Guy told me, “I finally found me a good church.” (This is after several years of church hopping and shopping.) “All the other ones didn’t meet my needs, but this one does.”

Why would I shutter at that statement? Think about it. I’ve heard it hundreds of times: I’m looking for a church that meets me needs.

Can you admit for a moment how incredibly unbiblical that statement is? When did we, as Christ followers, start to think that the Church exists for us? When did we forget that we are the church? And that we’re here for the world?

Here’s our problem … Christians have become spiritual consumers – observers, not participants

Here’s the solution … Stop observing and get in the game. Reach out. Use your gifts. Give recklessly. Serve passionately. Make a difference!

Love those whom others reject, even those who aren’t like us – especially those who aren’t like us. Love not only nonbelievers, but also “second-class Christians.” Jesus did; so should we.

The Church is not here for us. We are the Church, and we are here for the world. When I ask church people to serve somewhere, I often receive a polite, “I’ll pray about it, Pastor.” (Which generally means, “Oh, crap. I don’t want to do that, but I’ll say something spiritual that may buy me time to plan my excuse.”)

I love the story about the guy who waited patiently in line to greet his pastor one Sunday after the sermon. “Pastor,” this eager, sincere Christ followers said, “I have only one thing to tell you. My answer is yes. Now, what’s the question?”

The pastor looked at him, confused, and smiling awkwardly, fell back upon the pastor’s safety net: “God bless you.” The pastor politely brushed the man off and turned to greet the next parishioner.

The next week, the same guy waited in line and repeated the same words. “Pastor, my answer is yes. Now, what’s the question?”

The pastor pondered this enigma. Wanting to get to the bottom of it, he invited the young man to lunch. Over a midweek meal, the young man once again blurted out the intriguing mantra: “Pastor, my answer is yes. Now, what’s the question?”

Finally overcome with curiosity, the pastor asked, “Can you please tell me what you mean by that?”

The young man smiled and, with passion, began, “Pastor, I was hooked on everything bad, about to lose my family, sliding down a slippery slope toward certain destruction. Then Jesus intervened.” Tears welled up in his eyes. “Because of what Jesus did for me, my answer to you in yes. You are my pastor, and I’ll do whatever you need.

“If you want me to rock babies, I’ll rock babies. If you want me to usher, I’ll usher. If you want me to mow the churchyard, I’ll be there at 6:00 a.m. every Saturday. My answer to you will always be yes. Now, what’s the question.?”

When it comes to your church (assuming you have one), what’s your answer? Is it, I’ll pray about it, while you look for an escape? Or is it …

Yes?

All Good Things

The Bible states that “Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above” (James 1:17)

One of the great deceptions of our time is the idea that ‘goodness’ and ‘good things’ exist on their own, without origin, aside and apart from God. Or worse, that goodness somehow originates in human beings. Practical goodness … common goodness … all goodness comes to be taken for granted.

All of this is a lie according to God’s Word. The truth is that God is the source of all goodness and good things. 

NLT: “Whatever is good and perfect is a gift coming down to us from God our Father, who created all the lights in the heavens.”

TPT: “Every gift God freely gives us is good and perfect, streaming down from the Father of lights, who shines from the heavens with no hidden shadow or darkness and is never subject to change.”

However, when the lie is believed, then people dissociate good from God and often fail to see Him as good. Not only that, those same people associate with God all that goes wrong in the world, which further obscures the truth that God is good and all good things come from Him.

When you separate good from God, you take away the awareness of God’s goodness and humankind’s need to thank, honour, revere, and worship Him. The opposite happens when we connect good with God: we want to thank, honour, and worship Him!

So, in the midst of everyday life, we need to see what God is doing. Jesus says to Nicodemus in John, chapter 3, that when we are born again we can ‘;see’ the Kingdom. Thus we can see what God is doing as it is His Kingdom. But we need to open our spiritual eyes and ears (heart eyes and ears) so that we can determine the ‘good things’ that God is doing while still facing the reality of day-to-day life and all the situations and circumstances we face. 

I have been thinking about this as I rearrange almost my entire life because of the Coronavirus or Covid-19 as it has come to be known. As one who travels to minister and who earns a living travelling I am now working from home and thus the flow of income has dwindled substantially. So, I am learning to see the ‘good’ and the ‘goodness’ that God is pouring out in the midst of this world-wide shutdown and the slowing down of my ministry currently.

There’s a story in the Old Testament where a servant of the prophet Elisha was seeing – with his physical eyes – all the opposition forces that were gathered against Israel in battle. But this man was completely unaware of what he could not see – all of God’s protective forces surrounding them.

Elisha prayed that his servant’s eyes would be opened so that he could see God’s favour in the legions of angels that were protecting them in the middle of this high-pressure situation (see 2 Kings 6:17).

There’s something that happens in our hearts and minds when we go from HEARING that God is good to actually SEEING God’s goodness!

In life when I’m missing the good, it affects my outlook and even my spiritual equilibrium. Some days the good in life is obvious; on other days it hides itself in the routine, complexity, tragedy, and hardship of living. Back-to-back days of hidden goodness certainly can distort my view. They lower the level of my faith and can open the door to discouragement. All because of what I’m not seeing.

So I have taken up daily praying that God would allow me to see and hear and know His goodness. And, I am taking the time to slow down and allow God time and space to show me His goodness…remind me, once again, just how good He really is. 

Love Builds Up

A weekend blog which I don’t normally post … based in 1 Corinthians 11…what is known as “the love chapter”

Love builds up…

I saw them tearing a building down,

A group of men in a busy town,

With hefty blow and lusty yell, 

They swung with zest,

And a side wall fell.

Asked of the foreman,

“Are these men skilled?”

The kind you would hire if you had to build?”

He look at me, and laughed, “No, indeed!

Unskilled labor is all I need.

Why, they can wreck in a day or two,

What it has taken builders years to do.”

I asked myself, as I went my way,

Which of these roles have I tried to play?

Am I a builder with rule and square,

Measuring and constructing with skill and care?

Or am I the wrecker who walks the town,

Content with the business of tearing down?

Author Unknown

The Right Thing To Do!

Many of us grew up with a ‘negative’ faith: Don’t do this or that; don’t say this or that; don’t visit that place or think that thought. In other words, we don’t want to create sin or fall into sin. But if our focus is on consistently not doing something, at the end of our life all we have done is … nothing. We may have been faithful but have we really been fruitful? We’ll have been like dead people walking with nothing to show for our time on the earth.

A corpse doesn’t ”sin.” But does a corpse display the glory of God? Is a corpse fruitful – accomplishing the basic commands of the Lord to His followers and thus to the Church? Of course not. Jesus defined fruitfulness as being a necessary part of faithfulness. And, fruitfulness comes out of intentional obedience to the things the Lord has commanded.

Luke 13:6-8 “Then Jesus told them this parable: “There was a man who planted a fig tree in his orchard. But when he came to gather fruit from his tree he found none, for it was barren and had no fruit. So he said to his gardener, ‘For the last three years I’ve come to gather figs from my tree but it remains fruitless. What a waste! Go ahead and cut it down!’

“But the gardener said, ‘Sir, we should leave it one more year. Let me fertilize and cultivate it, then let’s see if it will produce fruit.’”

We have made Jesus Lord of our lives. This means we are to obey everything He has commanded us to do (Matthew 28:20). If life is about obeying and, as a result, accomplishing a very particular task, the “obedience” and the “right thing to do” (James 4:17) must mean accomplishing that one particular task – seeking first the Kingdom, bearing fruit in His Name, and in the words of Titus 3:14, being devoted “to doing what is good.”

Is I send an employee to a gas station to fill the gas tank of a company car and they return to the office saying, “I had a great conversation with Skip. I washed the windshield. I picked up some litter in the parking lot. And I even brought back donuts for the entire office” but he didn’t fill the gas tank, has he really been obedient? He may have done some good and noble things, but those other things got in the way of the first thing.

Worse, if he added, “And you should be proud of me because I didn’t steal from anyone, run over anyone, gossip about anyone, or lie to anyone.”

Fine, but did you fill the gas tank?” That’s why you were sent out. 

We are a people with a mission. A people on a mission. And, that mission is not simply to avoid the wrong things. That mission is to seek first the Kingdom and do all that the King has commanded us to do. His generic commands to the Church, His people. And, His specific commands to each unique believer. Anything or anyone that keeps us from fulfilling the mission is a danger to our being fruitful and thus obeying the Lord. 

We should not focus on our own safety, comfort, or security. The purpose of life is not to protect our joy, our peace, our reputation, or even our sanity even though these are all good things. The Christian life is primarily about protecting our mission, avoiding things and people who distract us and cause our focus to be on other things. Jesus has commanded that we live life that are fruitful for His cause.

We are enlisted in a great cause and called to do great things for Jesus. We don’t have time to be distracted by clever or even wounded people who soak up all our energy and efforts in any other cause. There are many worthy things we can embrace and accomplish but are they seriously a part of the cause, the Kingdom? We must keep our eyes on the Kingdom, seeking it first and foremost. Many times we pour ourselves out on people and things that keep us from this one cause and primary focus. Pouring ourselves out on ‘other things’ is spiritually like trying to wash rain. It’s a waste of time that keeps us from more fruitful endeavours. 

We are saved to be fruitful as we seek first the Kingdom. We are saved to bear fruit, good fruit. Our story from Luke 13 ends with this verse … “If it doesn’t bear fruit by next year, we’ll cut it down.’” (Luke 13:9). 

That is a comment worth thinking deeply about.

Your Kingdom work does matter. You need to know this, feel this, live this, to be rightfully protected from people and things that try to distract you and take your focus off of the Kingdom. You may not be widely recognized as God’s worker, but just as wars are won through the secret sacrifices of unknown soldiers, so God’s Kingdom is built on the backs of quiet and faithful servants. What you do for the Kingdom matters. 

It is time to do the right thing – not just any thing or even everything. The right thing!

Good Friday and COVID-19

Regardless of COVID-19 we are celebrating God’s grace and goodness this Easter weekend. We are saved by grace through the death and resurrection of Jesus. And, that message can quickly become lost in the midst of the massive changes we are experiencing in our every-day life.
 
A story to bring home the importance of Easter and the grace and goodness of God …
 
A man dies and goes to heaven and, of course, Peter meets him at the pearly gates.
 
“Here’s how it works,” Peter says. “You need one hundred points to make it into heaven. You tell me all the good things you’ve done, and I give you a certain number of points for each item, depending on how good it was. When you reach one hundred points, you get in.”
 
“Okay,” the man say, “I was married to the same woman for 50 years and never cheated on her, even in my heart.”
 
“That’s wonderful,” says St. Peter. “That’s worth three points!”
 
“Three points?” the guy says, sounding a little disappointed.
 
“Well, I attended church all my life and supported its ministry with my tithes and service.”
 
“Terrific!” says St. Peter. “That’s worth two points.”
 
“Two points? Golly. How about this: I started a soup kitchen in my city and worked in a shelter for homeless veterans.”
 
“Fantastic, that’s good for one more point,” Peter says.
 
“One point!” the man cried. “At this rate the only way I will get into heaven is by the grace of God!”
 
Peter says, “Come on in!”
 
This is what Good Friday and Easter are all about. Everything else is of little value. Stay focused….

One Of My Favourite Preachers

Often in the ministry I have worked to help people come to a point of faith. Not only faith in God and His Son, Jesus. But, faith in the accuracy and need for God’s Word, the Bible today. When speaking to many who are not believers they see little purpose or value in reading God’s Word and simply regard it as antiquated and irrelevant. As I look back on the many years I have believed the Bible and lived according to God’s Word, I have reached the point where I would no longer entertain people’s discussion (alright – arguments) about the Bible. I would simply challenge them to actually read it. If they do rise to the challenge and read it with an open mind I am convinced God will show them that His Word is very valuable for life today on planet Earth.

To move forward in faith believers and non-believers alike need to understand and accept that the Word is true and very applicable to today. And, to reach that point they need to engage with the Word and let it do its work in their lives. 

Sidlow Baxter wrote: “To my own mind, the most satisfying proof that the Bible is divinely inspired are not those which one ‘reads up’ in volumes of religious evidences or Christian apologetics, but those which we discover for ourselves in our own study of the Book. To the prayerful explorer the Bible has its own way of revealing its internal credentials.”

That miracle – of the Word of God convincing its reader that it is God’s Word and is active and alive working in hearts that are open and minds that are inquisitive. That miracle of the Word working happened once to a young man called G. Campbell Morgan (one of my favourite preachers to read (1863 to 1945). He had grown up in a Christian home, never questioning that the Bible was the Word of God. But in college, his faith was severely challenged and he began to entertain doubts. “The whole intellectual world was under the mastery of the physical scientists, and of a materialistic and rationalistic philosophy,” he later said. “There came a moment when I was sure of nothing.”

That was an era when it was fashionable to launch attacks on the veracity of Scripture. The new crowd hired out great lecture and concert halls across England for the purpose of attacking the authority of the Bible. Armed with their intellectual artillery, the army of skeptics troubled the young Morgan. He studied every book he could find – for and against the Bible, for and against Christianity – until his mind was reeling with arguments and counter-arguments.

He finally heaved a sigh, gathered up all the volumes, and locked them in a cupboard. He then walked to a bookshop and purchased a brand-new Bible. He had decided it was time to let the venerable old Book speak for itself. The young Morgan believed that if the Bible was truly divinely inspired, and if he would simply read it with an open mind, then the Book would do its own convicting. So he opened it’s covers and began to read.

The Bible spoke to him with eloquence and authority. The unity of the sixty-six inspired books, the many literary forms gathered across time, and the depth of the message itself – all these elements of the Bible experience overwhelmed him. The clear power and presence of God could be encountered here! “That Bible found me,” he later said. After that year, 1883, he was a devoted student of the Scriptures for the balance of his life. And a great preacher.

Our cynical culture would like you to believe that the Christian life is a mindless thing, built around an ordinary book that is a dusty grab bag of mythology. It’s all so much emotion, they claim, so much self-deception. According to the stereotype, you check your mind at the door when you take up Christianity, and smart folks should stay away.

Now for the truth of the matter: the Word of God is the most rational, accurate, well-documented book of literature in the history of the world. It requires our God-given intellect to even begin the life-long process of embracing the many dimensions of profound teaching. Great thinkers throughout the ages have discovered just that: Sir Isaac Newton, who gave us our basic laws of physics; Blaise Pascal, world-class mathematician and scientist; Sir Francis Bacon, who introduced the scientific method; Michael Faraday, foundational pioneer of chemistry and electromagnetism. And today, to give one example of many, there is Professor Henry F. Schaefer, one of the most distinguished physical scientists in the world, a five-time nominee for the Nobel Peace Prize, and a devout follower of Jesus Christ. 

Here is what many of those men would tell you: if it requires faith to be a Christian, how much more faith does it require to dismiss this amazing, timeless book call the Bible? People today say the age of miracles is over, and that they’ve never seen one. But if you own a Bible, you hold a living miracle in your hands.

Reaching Your God-Given Potential – Part Three

We have been looking at the need for decent and mature friends in our individual journey of life. These are the three types of friends everyone needs to reach their God-given potential…

    • A friend to challenge you and bring out your best
    • A friend to help you find strength in God and grow in your faith
    • A friend to tell you the truth, especially when you don’t want to hear it

We have looked briefly at the friend who will challenge you and help to bring the best you to the surface and forefront. And, a friend to help you find strength in God and grow in your faith. The third type of friend that we must have is one who will tell us the truth – the whole truth, God’s truth, the truth that brings a reality check. And the more successful you become, the more you need this person in your life and, oddly, the harder they are to find.

King David discovered this the hard way. During the season when kings were suppose to be at war, David decided to stay home rather than go to battle. One night he was out on his rooftop when he saw his neighbour’s wife, Bathsheba, bathing outside her house. His selfish lusts spoke louder than his wisdom, so the king sent someone to bring the woman to him. What’s interesting is that whomever King David sent to get Bathsheba had to know that she was married to Uriah, one of David’s closest friends and one of Israel’s greatest war heroes. But since the messenger was on the king’s payroll (and he might have been afraid of losing more than just his job), the guy did exactly as he was told. He summoned the woman to the king’s palace. And if you don’t know the story well. One thing led to another, and Bathsheba ended up pregnant.

Recognizing that this could become a scandal, David tried to get control of the situation. He called he husband home, figuring Uriah would sleep with his wife and then assume the baby was his. But when Uriah refused to enjoy intimacy with his wife while his men were still on the battlefield, David changed his tactics. He issued the order to move his friend to the front line where he was sure to be killed. And he was.

Unfortunately, everyone in the king’s court was too afraid to tell David the truth. So God sent a man who cared enough to help David see the way back to the right path. The prophet Nathan met with David and told him a story that went something like this. “Once upon a time there were two men. One was very rich and the other was very poor. The rich guy had an unlimited number of sheep and wealth. The poor guy had almost nothing and only one lamb, who was almost like a pet to him and his family. When the rich man had a guest come to town, he took the poor man’s lamb and had it butchered for a meal.”

When David heard this story, he was beside himself with anger. David ranted, “As surely as the LORD lives, the man who did this must die! He must pay for that lamb four times over, because he did such a thing and had no pity” (2 Samuel 12:5-6). Fortunately, Nathan loved David enough to tell him the truth. “Then Nathan said to David, ‘You are the man’” (2 Samuel 12:7). That was enough to jolt king David out of his denial and bring him to his knees in repentance before God. 

Many people around us tell us the things we want to hear, rather than helping us to see the truth. And the more successful we become, the more difficult it is to find people who have our best interests at heart. That’s one reason we must connect with people who love us enough to be blatantly honest. In other words, a true friend. 

David’s son Solomon wisely said, “An open rebuke is better than hidden love! Wounds from a sincere friend are better than many kisses from an enemy (Proverbs 27:5-6 NLT). 

When was the last time a friend loved you enough to give you an open rebuke? Has someone loved you enough to offer helpful correction? If not, you might be missing one or two very important relationships that could help you grow, thrive, and succeed. Everyone needs people in their lives who will candidly tell them the truth. Maybe you need to connect with someone who’s willing to show you what you need to see so you can become the person you’re suppose to be.

Winding up the three blogs…

Which kind of friend do you need most in your life right now? Someone who helps you be better? Someone who helps you draw closer to God? Or someone who tells you the truth about yourself?

Is one person’s name popping into your head right now? Someone you could consider getting to know better and sharing your need for this kind of connection? If not, ask God to provide the right person at the right time, that friend who can help you grow closer to Him and to make decisions leading you in a divine direction.

Reaching Your God-Given Potential – Part Two

We started looking at the need for decent and mature friends in our individual journey of life. These are the three types of friends everyone needs to reach their God-given potential…

      • A friend to challenge you and bring out your best
      • A friend to help you find strength in God and grow in your faith
      • A friend to tell you the truth, especially when you don’t want to hear it

We looked last time at the friend who will challenge you and help to bring the best you to the surface and forefront. Let’s look today at a friend to help you find strength in God and grow in your faith.

This second friend can help you find strength beyond yourself in the midst of temptation and weakness. Jesus as Samuel helped David see that God wanted to do more in his life than he ever imagined, a guy named Jonathan helped David find strength in God when he needed it most. David was chosen to be the next king, but God didn’t promote him to the throne immediately. God still had a lot to do before He replaced Saul with David. First, David became a war hero winning the hearts of thousands. David was so effective on the battlefield that women danced in the streets singing, “Saul has slain his thousands, and David his tens of thousands” (1 Samuel 18:7). You can just imagine how jealous that made an already insecure king. Feeling threatened by David’s rising popularity, King Saul plotted to take his life. David was forced to flee to the mountains to hide from the raging monarch’s posse.

There, in David’s darkest moments, God sent him an unlikely friend to help him find spiritual strength. King Saul’s own son Jonathan recognized the error in his father’s ways and stood faithfully by his friend David. Here’s how Samuel describes the courageous show of support: 

“While David was at Horesh in the Desert of Ziph, he learned that Saul had come out to take his life. And Saul’s son Jonathan went to David at Horesh and helped him find strength in God.”

I love that simple phrase, which describes so clearly one of the key ways Jonathan served David: he “helped him find strength in God.” There may not be a more valuable gesture one friend can make to another than pointing them toward God, encouraging them to seek His power, loving them toward God’s unending strength.

This friend is someone who will listen and care. Not always giving you the answers you are seeking for. But, there to listen and have your back as you struggle through the issues that you face in life. They are not an ‘answer man.’ They are not there as ‘Mr. Fix-it.” They are there to listen, to care, and to help you see what God is doing and where He is taking you in the situation you are facing and the current spot in the journey that you are on.  

This friend will be praying for you and with you. They will be a safe place for you to recover, refocus, and regroup. They don’t judge. They simply love, support, and encourage you.

So, who helps you find strength in God? If you don’t have anyone, it’s time for you to connect with someone who can help. God already has that person ready for you. It’s not a sign of weakness to ask for help., It’s a sign of wisdom.