Friday, 28 March 2014

Pick Your Friends Wisely

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

It is a reasonably well known fact that most men do not have a close personal friend, i.e. a confidant, someone he can and does share even the most inner thoughts and concerns.  As a general rule this is not a problem for women.

So the message to men is seek out a Godly man to whom you can relate.  Ideally this man may be more spiritually mature than you.  Hopefully it is someone you can trust and admire.  This must be someone to whom you are willing to be accountable, willing to be transparent with and willing to listen to as he speaks into your life.  As a man, actually as a human being, you will face the storms of adversity which are much easier to weather with a supportive, encouraging friend.

The message to women is somewhat different.  Many of you have close friends.  Many of you are in Bible studies.  Most often a woman has one or more intimate friends with whom they can share their feelings and from whom they can seek advice and friendship.  If I were to write nothing else not only would this be a short, boring blog but one could go away with the impression that the women have it all together (which they might) and the men are loners and recluses who are in need of camaraderie.

Here’s the problem ladies – not all of your friends are friends.  Some of them talk behind your back, some of them give you bad advice based on their own insecurities or personal circumstances.  I know of several women who attend a particular Bible study who have been supported in their desire to leave their husbands.  This is not Godly counsel, particularly when those giving the advice don’t have all the information.  A lot depends on the specifics of the situation.  The Bible only gives two legitimate reasons for leaving one’s husband and even in those cases Scripture prefers reconciliation.  Certainly in the case of abuse a separation is mandatory.  Having a “jerk” for a husband is not grounds for divorce.

Regardless of your gender, if the advice you are getting does not align with Scripture don’t pay attention to it.

Lastly DO NOT seek a confidant of the opposite sex, regardless of how Godly they may be.  Many an affair has started with a man and a woman commiserating over the condition of their marriages.

Wednesday, 26 March 2014

Enabling Versus Helping

One day the younger son came to his father and said, “Father, eventually I’m going to inherit my share of your estate. Rather than waiting until you die, I want you to give me my share now.” And so the father liquidated assets and divided them. 13 A few days passed and this younger son gathered all his wealth and set off on a journey to a distant land. Once there he wasted everything he owned on wild living. Luke 15:12-13  The Voice

It is easy to get confused between helping, enabling and being a people pleaser.  My initial read of today’s verses sounded much like enabling.  Surely the father of the prodigal son was wise enough to know that his son was not going to take his share of the estate and invest it in Starbucks, Microsoft and Chipotle Mexican Grille.  Sure enough the son squandered his portion of the estate, competed with the pigs for something to eat, and finally returned home having been humiliated.

Obviously the son had a propensity to enjoy the finer things in life which I’m sure did not allude his father.  To provide for his son to indulge his fantasies seemed like the wrong thing to me.  This would be what I would consider enabling his son’s pseudo addiction.

Upon closer examination of the passage, with the help of others who are more astute than I, it appears that the father was a learned man of God who calculated the cost of liquidating some of his assets in the hopes that his son would learn a very valuable lesson.  In which case the father was helping his son to grow up by allowing him to suffer the consequences of his irresponsible actions.  That would be termed helping.

The father in this passage represents our Father.  The son represents you and me.  God is much too smart to be duped into enabling His children.  He also doesn’t need to be a people pleaser, acting in a way that earns Him favor with His sheep.  Instead God want his sheep to learn from their mistakes, suffer the appropriate consequences, and return home to their loving Father.  

Most of my life I have been a people pleaser and in a way I thought that was a good thing.  Then I heard a pastor say that people pleasing is a sin, for the primary reason that it is self-centeredness, i.e. because the only reason for trying to please everyone was is to be accepted and liked.

The point is that we each need to distinguish which motive is driving our actions.  The loving response is to help the other individual to seek God’s will for their life.

Monday, 24 March 2014

What Will It Take?

“Immediately the boy's father exclaimed, "I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!" Mark 9:24

I really get exasperated with myself at times.  Sadly in my early years as a Christian I was fairly oblivious to God’s working in my life.  I know He was, I just don’t remember acknowledging it very often.  As I’ve matured, a nicer way of saying gotten much older, I’ve tended to be keenly aware of the times God is intervening in my life, and yet…  And yet what?  Granted my experiences haven’t been the equivalent of seeing a burning bush; or living through ten horrific plagues; or seeing a large body of water part but God has done some incredible things in my life.  So what will He have to do to make His presence so indelibly etched in my mind that I quit fretting when something isn’t going according to my time table?

Within the last three weeks we have put our home on the market.  Is there any doubt in my mind that the Lord is omniscient, i.e. He knows we want to sell our home?  Is there a doubt that He is omnipotent, i.e. there is nothing He can’t do, including bringing a buyer to our door?  Is there a doubt that He is omnipresent, i.e. He is in the here and now and well aware of our situation?  NO doubt!

Okay then why am I obsessing daily when we don’t get a call from our realtor with an offer?  This is a little like the Biblical “I do believe Lord, help me overcome my unbelief.” 

Bottom line it is all about me.  My desire to bring closure to this uncertainty.  My desire to quit living in our home as though we weren’t living in our home.   Now you might come to the conclusion that the One who is omniscient and omnipotent, not to mention all loving may have a better insight as to the perfect time when the home should sell, for how much and to whom.

My guess is that you are either going through something right now or you will be going through something which will challenge your patience.  You too will assume that you know best, that God should answer your prayer based on your time table.  Most likely He won’t!

I think it is called trust and faith and after all isn’t that what we as believers are called to exhibit?