Archive | Friendship RSS feed for this section

What in the World is a ‘Faithful Wound’?

28 Jul

I feel like I need a paraphrase of Proverbs 17:17 today.

“A friend loves at all times, and a sister is born for the days when you are craving every unhealthy food in history!”

I joke that I don’t need a personal trainer (OK, maybe I do), but I just need someone who loves me who will shadow me and slap every unhealthy food out of my hand.*

My husband jokes, “I’M not going to be that friend. I know better!”

I laugh, but that would be love, right?

Actually, that kind of friend really does love you. (And my husband has challenged my choices from time to time.)

Good, loving friends really do speak the truth and challenge you to confront the lies you’re believing, or the rabbit trails you’re chasing, or the foolishness you’re letting reign in your heart and life.

God-honoring friends encourage you to be wise and not indulge in anything that will harm you or prevent you from becoming the person God created you to be. They are wise counselors and we can trust their advice.

“The righteous is a guide to his neighbor.”

A good friend might “wound”* us with their advice, but they don’t wound us to hurt us.

Faithful are the wounds of a friend [who corrects out of love and concern]….” (Prov. 27:6a AMP)

Faithful wounds.

The kind of wounds that come because a friend simply wants what is best for us and wants God to heal us of any sinful and harmful behaviors and addictions. 

It’s like the pain of setting a bone that’s out of joint. Sometimes there has to be some pain before we can heal.

There are times a friend will wisely overlook something in our lives, and that is grace in action.

But there are other times friends will lovingly confront us. And that is also grace in action. 

A true friendship is never threatened by disagreement or even misunderstanding that might come in times of loving confrontation. That kind of friend knows there is some accountability involved in a true, loving friendship.

Do you have a friend who is willing to love you enough to challenge you when you wander off the path of righteousness or are about to make a foolish choice?

If so, praise God for that friend. You desperately need her!

– Dawn

* Note: I’m not talking about any kind of abuse here. Just the “love-tap” of friendship’s wounds … much like the way we tap a baby’s hand and shout “NO” when the baby reaches for something that will cause harm.

Graphic adapted, courtesy of silviarita-Pixabay

Free to Be Friends

29 Jan

The world has some funny ideas about friendships:

  • Never let your friends feel lonely; disturb them all the time.BestFriendsForever_LOLwithGod_freedigitalphotos
  • True friends never get tired of hearing your “drama.”
  • A friend is the one who fetches your “I think I’m going to be sick” bucket. A GREAT friend will hold it for you.
  • “It’s one of the blessings of old friends that you can afford to be stupid with them.” (Ralph Waldo Emerson)
  • We are all mature … until a friend brings out some bubble wrap!
  • We’ll be friends until we are old and senile, and then we’ll be NEW friends.
  • “There is nothing better than a friend – unless it is a friend with chocolate.” (Linda Grayson)

The truth is, God made us for relationships. And friends are a special gift.

I’ve been thinking about friendships for a long time now. I’ve seen “friends come and friends go” (Proverbs 18:24a, The Msg), and I don’t like that so much. So I’ve been trying to figure out how to make lasting friends in my unique circumstances.

To be honest, I was waiting for people at church to want to be good friends with me, to reach out with the connection rather me than seeking them out. I don’t think I’m alone.

Many people in the church struggle with making good, strong friendships. They find it challenging, frustrating, even discouraging. Like me, maybe they don’t want to admit they have that struggle, because they think, “Am I so unlovable?” or “What’s wrong with me?” Maybe it’s because we’re basically selfish. (OK, TOTALLY selfish.)

Others think “making friends” should be simple or easy, just because we’re Christians. Oh, we have so much to learn about creating strong, biblical friendships.

And what is a biblical friendship? 

Book_TheCompanyWeKeep_CruciformPressIn his book The Company We Keep: In Search of Biblical Friendship, Jonathan Holmes, the Pastor of Counseling at Parkside Church in Cleveland, Ohio, says:

“Biblical friendship exists when two or more people, bound together by a common faith in Jesus Christ, pursue Him and His kingdom with intentionality and vulnerability.”

It goes beyond typical “Christian fellowship” to something deeper and more personal. Biblical friendship adds “depth, refinement, and detail through active investment in one another’s lives,” Holmes says.

But it’s even more than that!

“Rather than serving as an end in itself, biblical friendship serves primarily to bring glory to Christ, who brought us into friendship with the Father.”

Wow. That’s going to be a revelation for some Christians who think friendships only exist for our personal enjoyment and comfort!

Our friendships are not intended by God to be just for us. They are primarily for Him! To bring Him glory.

Holmes explains some mistaken ideas for biblical friendship–basically any kind of relationship we pursue to gain personally. These mistaken ideas, he says, are no different from the world’s concept of friendship.

A “personal gain” relationship isn’t necessarily wrong, on one level; but the point is, God made us for so much more!

Holmes then describes the “four marks” of biblical friendship (constancy, candor, carefulness and counsel).

But I’ve got to tell you, it was his basic premise that grabbed my heart.

The scriptures tell us we are to do ALL things to the glory of God (I Corinthians 10:31b). I’m not sure why I never included “making friends” in that mandate.

Once we get that concept firmly in place in our thinking, the typical scriptures about making friends (or building any close relationship) make even more sense.

But the motivation of biblical friends will be something more. We will do these things in order to bring honor to the One we love most of all.

One thing is for sure, Jesus is the sinner’s closest, dearest friend. He loves us and sacrificed His life for us, calls us into friendship with Himself, and teaches us how to be His friend (John 15:12-15).

“The One in whom the fullness of God dwells calls you and me friends,” Holmes writes. … Jesus, through His death on the cross, be-friends us so we can now go and be friends with others.”

In Him, we are free to be create powerful friendships.

Biblical friendships.

God-glorifying friendships!

Do you struggle making friends? Does knowing God wants us to build friendships that will glorify Him motivate you to seek out a different kind of relationship?

 – Dawn

* Jonathan Holmes, The Company We Keep: In Search of Biblical Friendship, Cruciform Press, 2014.

Graphic: Image courtesy of Serge Bertasius Photography at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

Avoiding the “Bad Boys”

17 Oct

On Pinterest I read some funny descriptions of “Bad Boys.” They’re supposedly guys who:

  • turn right when their GPS says turn left.ReformBadBoy_LOLwithGod
  • don’t look both ways when they cross the street.
  • go to bed two minutes past their regular bedtime.
  • eject their USB without “safely removing.”
  • press the handicapped button that opens doors … and they’re not handicapped.

Now these are not real bad boys. Real bad boys, my grandpa said, “Drink and chew and go with girls who do.”

I know many in the general culture would disagree with me, but:

I believe women want a courageous, adventurous, wise and visionary man with integrity and a kind, generous heart—a good (even godly) man—not a wicked one. 

A possible exception to this is the woman who is foolish, undiscerning or wicked herself!

Just watch a woman who marries a “bad boy.” In time, she’ll try to reform him!

We don’t have to go to the culture to find bad boys. There are plenty of bad boys in the Bible too.

To name only a few: Cain – the first murderer (Genesis 4:1-8); Korah and his company and their sinful rebellion (Numbers 16); Abimelech‘s conspiracy and mass murder (Judges 9:1-5); and King Herod (Mark 6:14-28).

The Bible warns us to stay away from “evil companions”—bad company that corrupts our character (1 Corinthians 15:33). The “companion of fools” will eventually suffer harm (Proverbs 13:20).

Here are descriptions of typical bad boys:

Psalm 1:1-4 – wicked, sinning, mocking God and godly people

Psalm 26:4-5 – liars, hypocrites, evildoers

Proverbs 16:29 – violent

Proverb s 22:24-25 – angry, wrathful

Proverbs 28:7 – a glutton

1 Corinthians 5:11 – sexually immoral, greedy, idolatrous, a reviler, drunkard, swindler

2 Timothy 3:1-5Last Days traits:But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people.”

Women, do yourself a favor. Avoid the “bad boys” like the plague.

They will only bring you down.

And guys, I’d encourage you to avoid the “bad girls,” no matter how pretty and seductive they seem. (Read: Proverbs 9:13, 5:6, 7:11, 21:9, 19 for some characteristics of the “bad girl.”) Proverbs 6:27 is especially telling regarding a relationship with an immoral woman – “Can a man scoop fire into his lap without his clothes being burned?”

Christians, we need wisdom in choosing our companions. Remember: the fear of the Lord (an understanding of who He is and what He expects) is the beginning of wisdom (Proverbs 9:10).

Stop equating “bad boy” and “bad girl” with something desirable. Stop seeing “good” as boring and a waste of time. That’s the enemy’s lie!

Instead, understand the consequences of your choices and surround yourself with people who have character, people who love and cherish life and embrace life-building goals.  

Who are your “companions” in life? Are they bringing you down or building you up?

– Dawn

Graphic adapted, Image courtesy of graur razvan ionut at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

%d bloggers like this: