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How Friendships Form
Mar 22, 2017
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A true friend is a great blessing.

Someone who “gets” you.

Someone who knows your weaknesses and failures, and loves you anyway.

Someone who is easy to be around.

Someone who enjoys the same activities and conversations. 

Perhaps Proverbs captures it best: A friend loves at all times. (17.17)

And in Christian friendship, we have an added benefit of being able to have our faith challenged and grown in a unique way. C. S. Lewis speaks of the God-agenda behind friendship in his book, The Four Loves:

“…friendship is not a reward for our discriminating and good taste in finding one another out. It is the instrument by which God reveals to each of us the beauties of others.”

God uses Christ-honouring friendship to spur us on in our faith. We are better people, better followers, if we have Jesus-loving friends in our lives.

But friendship is not limited to Christians. Non-believers seek and and form deep friendships as well. Recently, I was struck by a new testament friendship that was formed by two unlikely candidates—actually, two former enemies.

And in this case, it is disdain for Jesus, rather than love for Him, that seems to be a powerful glue. Take a look:

And Herod with his soldiers, after treating Him with contempt and mocking Him, dressed Him in a gorgeous robe and sent Him back to Pilate. Now Herod and Pilate became friends with one another that very day; for before they had been enemies with each other. 

Isn’t that interesting? Previous enemies became friends, because they realised they both shared contempt for Jesus.

Jesus has that kind of power with people. He can bond friends together closer than you ever dreamed, and he can force unlikely enemies to be bonded over their shared “disdain” for faith.

Your common love of Jesus will bond you close, and for non-believers, they will be bound close to others who share a similar lack of love for Jesus.

It’s why Jesus tells us to be “equally yoked” in marriage (only date/marry another Christian).

It’s why Jesus says His presence will divide families, “two against three and three against two”. (Luke 12.52)

Faith can really unite and faith can deeply divide.

Understanding the power of friendship makes this statement from Jesus even more powerful:

No longer do I call you slaves, for the slave does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends. John 15.15

I am a friend of Jesus, and if you have trusted in Christ as your Saviour, then you are his friend too. And that friendship will be powerful to transform us and unite us in amazing ways.

Let’s prioritise our Christ-honouring friendships and allow God to use them to grow our faith deeper.

Blog

The Cure for Weariness
Mar 17, 2017
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Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Galatians 6:9

Mr and Mrs C weren’t easy to love. At 87 years old, Mr C frequently beat his wife, leaving her black and blue and bitter. For her part, 76-year-old Mrs C was venomous in her self-pity, spewing out nastiness every time she opened her mouth. Somehow, God placed this horribly broken couple in front of us, and Nelson and I became their ‘family counsellors.’ We regularly visited them in their home, took them out for meals and attempted to mediate between them on behalf of their children, who had moved way beyond their wits’ end long before.

Over time, we thought of many reasons to stop going to see them. They lived far from us. We had so many other commitments. We had no training in dealing with people like this. Nothing we did or said was making any difference anyway. It was so tempting to back away and let this family figure things out for themselves. Yet as we prayed for Mr and Mrs C, we knew that God wasn’t interested in our excuses. Someone needed to let this family know how much God loved them, and He had chosen us.

Over the next year, Mr and Mrs C became part of our lives. God led us to a church near their home and they reluctantly agreed to go with us. Eventually, they started to go even when we couldn’t take them. Some ladies from the church began to visit them at home and during one of those visits, Mrs C prayed to accept Jesus as her Saviour. Less than 18 months after we first met them, Mrs C passed away. We helped plan her funeral service, where her whole family had the chance to hear the gospel.

What if, when God put this couple in front of us, we had said, “No way”? Or what if we had given up? How thankful we are that God allowed us to see the harvest of this one soul. When weariness creeps in, as it so often does, we remember Mrs C and thank God for the harvest yet to come.

Let us let God cure our weariness by:

  • Thanking God that He is almighty and does not change in loving and chasing after us.
  • Asking God to help us not make excuses when He sends people to us; to choose to trust Him to have strength, perseverance and love from Him to see us through the giving up moments. 

Blog

A Blessed Day
Mar 04, 2017
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O Lord, you have searched me and known me! You know when I sit down and when I rise up; you discern my thoughts from afar. You search out my path and my lying down and are acquainted with all my ways. Even before a word is on my tongue, behold, O Lord, you know it altogether. Psalm 139:1-4  

The sign on the wall that declared “Prepared 22,020,096 Ways!” over a picture of a luscious cheeseburger with hash brown potatoes and a salad definitely got my attention as I waited for my Waffle House coffee. I have been in the U.S. visiting our son’s family with their beautiful new baby girl and one of my first stops was this favourite diner.

I let my mind ponder the amazing claim on the wall. The menu offered grilled potatoes with nine different variations: “scattered, smothered, covered, chunked, diced, peppered, capped, topped and country style.” I supposed that somehow, there really could be millions of combinations, but figuring out that conundrum gave me a headache, so I accepted the statement.

And, in that moment, I was drawn closer to God. He knows all the ways of all the people on the planet, whether I can figure this out with my human knowledge or not! And while He may or may not care how we order our food at a restaurant, the fact is that He knows everything there is to know about each one of us, with the 22,020,096 or more variations that exist in all seven billion plus of us. He is all-knowing! And I accept this.

Besides the fact that He is present everywhere and all-powerful, I find His knowledge of me as a mere mortal incredibly comforting. Individually unique, in all our ways; whether we find ourselves sitting to consider an action, standing up to do something, resting, eating, sleeping, speaking, listening, thinking the most intimate thoughts, avoiding the most painful truths, crying our hearts out, or imploring Him for mercy; God knows us. The Psalmist declares that God “is acquainted with all our ways.” We can bet our lives on this.

As I paid my cheque to leave the Waffle House, the waitress smiled, “Have a blessed day!”

I replied, “Thank you! I already am!”

Let us celebrate a blessed day by:

  • Praising God for His amazing ways: blessings, grace, protection, provision, guidance, wisdom, and most of all His love as demonstrated through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
  • Praying for God to show Himself in the insignificant everyday aspects of life as well as in the grand and magnificent things. Ask Him to give you a heart to know and love Him.

Blog

Share Your Story: Chrissy Arnold
Feb 28, 2017
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Chrissy has been in Hong Kong as an architect since 2011. When she was 13, she heard God telling her how much He loves her and has since been living out her life for God’s calling. She began to suddenly have a heart for China and was given opportunities to move there. She found her way to Hong Kong and Island ECC’s Ark Dragonboat Team, where God showed her how the body of Christ works and how His people cooperate with the Holy Spirit to bring about His kingdom.

Blog

Vanishing Truth
Feb 22, 2017
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It’s hard to know what—or who—to believe these days. It’s hard to find someone or some source that will tell the direct, non-sugar-coated, untampered truth.

If you don’t believe me, maybe you will believe the Oxford Dictionary. I recently learned that their Word of the Year 2016 is post-truth, which is ‘an adjective defined as “relating to or denoting circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief.”’ 

In the relatively short span of one year, it is now widely understood to mean that truth itself has not only become secondary to other appeals, but even irrelevant.

The Bible predicted days like this. Paul warns Timothy that, ‘the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths.’ (1 Timothy 4:3-4)

It seems now more than ever, we need the comfort of God’s eternal, unchanging Word.

Psalm 117:2: For His lovingkindness is great toward us, and the truth of the LORD is everlasting.

Psalm 119:160: The sum of your word is truth, and every one of your righteous rules endures forever.

Isaiah 40:8: The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God stands forever. 

Mark 13:31: Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will not pass away.

These verses simply describe the enduring nature of God’s word. There is so much more of Scripture that tells of hope, reassurance, provision, blessing, mercy, grace, forgiveness, and on and on.

We hold the precious gift of eternal truths in our hands and we have promises that never change. As the lyrics of the classic hymn say, “On Christ the solid rock I stand / All other ground is sinking sand.” After warning Timothy of the dire signs of the age, Paul tells him to “do the work of an evangelist,” in other words to share the rock solid good news about Jesus in a time where truth is on a slippery slope. 

What Bible verse has been the most comforting, life-changing, or reassuring to you?

Pray that you will have a chance through words, actions, or silent witness to reveal words of life with someone in this post-truth age.

 

 

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