Friends are Friends Forever

 

In the late 1980s Michael W. Smith and Amy Grant had a hit song that stated:

“Friends are friends forever, if the Lord is Lord of them; And a Friend will not say never, and the welcome will not end.”

It sounds corny but I have found that it could not be more true.

As I get older I find that I don’t have as many close friends as I used to. I have golf buddies and fantasy sports buddies, colleagues that are close, but the ones I feel closest to are the old friends. Those ties from years past can be the strongest.

The most traumatic time in my life was when I was 13, and I lost my mother to cancer. I have spoken about this often on this blog and on other venues, but here I have a different take, on the aftermath.

The loss of my mother left me devastated and I always look back at that as a dark time in my life, it changed everything.

In the last year of her life you could track her health and my grades on the same line. I went from being a straight-A student to ditching class because I hadn’t finished my project. The following spring I quit playing baseball for the first time in eight years.

A few years back, on the anniversary of my Mom’s death, I was speaking to my group at The Grove Men’s Bible study. I was bemoaning her loss and how my life had changed, and one of the men spoke up.

He said, “Your grades went into the tank, you quit sports, so substance abuse was probably next, right?” He was surprised when I said, “No.”

He is a retired police officer and had spend a great deal of time working with kids in juvenile hall. He said that better than 90 percent of their stories started just like mine; loss of a parent or loved one, bad grades, quitting things they loved; which led to alcohol, smoking, drugs; which led to criminal activity, then violent crimes; which always led to imprisonment or death.

He asked, “So how did you manage to avoid the tail end of that story?”

I answered with, “God’s grace.” And he followed with, “How did that manifest itself?”

I thought about it and answered, “I had people who loved me and weren’t going to let that happen. Particularly a good group of friends.”

I said, “I don’t know if they ever had an intervention meeting where they asked each other ‘what are we going to do about Brian?’ But each of them did their thing and kept me going, propped me up until I got my legs under me again.”

He asked if I was still friends with those people. I was thankful that I could say yes. Brad, Rob, Kristi, Andrea, Tonya, I am still in touch with all of them. I went to all of their weddings, and know the names of their kids. We have been spread out over the years, but when we meet up it is just like old times.

After I lost my mother I was pretty much a functioning zombie. I went around doing stuff, but was numb inside. I quit caring about everything I used to love, and became very apathetic about life.

They made sure I stayed involved and didn’t drop out of life. They showed me love when I needed it, whether I deserved it or not, as well as patience when I would resist. There were others who helped along the way, parents, teachers, etc., but this core group were the best.

I am forever in their debt. And there isn’t anything I would not do for them in a time of need. I can only hope to repay them for their kindness and loyalty.

John 15:13 says, “Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” I take that to heart.

As we move around in life those true friendships can be some of the only certainty we find. I’m glad I still have mine.

 

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Love is …

As I sat and listened to Cal Baptist University’s Dr. Chris Morgan speak on I Corinthians 13 at the Grove on Sunday, I was reminded on why this is quite possibly my favorite Bible passage.

It speaks about Love, what Love is, what Love isn’t. About how we may have other spiritual gifts at our disposal, but without Love they mean nothing.

As the world seems to be spiraling out of control, the hatemongers on both sides chipping away at our moral foundation and widening the divide between us, I can’t help but think we could all use a little more love.

From the start of the passage Paul talks about all of the spiritual gifts the people were praising themselves for, and reminds them how useless that is without Love.

 If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.”

” If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing.”

Jesus tells us that if we have Faith the size of a mustard seed, it can move mountains. Paul follows it up by telling us that even that kind of Faith means nothing without Love.

The next part you tend to hear at weddings, but former Grove Men’s leader Mike Barnes turned it on its head and set it in a new perspective for me.

He said to read the passage, then read it again and replace the word Love with your name. As followers of Christ we should be showing His Love in our everyday lives.

So take a look, and then insert your name into it.

4) Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.

5) It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.

6) Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.

7) It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

8) Love never fails.

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4) Brian is patient, Brian is kind. Brian does not envy, Brian does not boast, Brian is not proud.

5)  Brian does not dishonor others, Brian is not self-seeking, Brian is not easily angered, Brian keeps no record of wrongs.

6) Brian does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.

7) Brian always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

8)  Brian never fails.

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So how did you do? Definitely some hits, but some misses for sure.

If someone were to take a look at your life, just how close are you following the Word of God? How good of an example are you setting for others?

In a time when the world is rapidly filling with hate from all sides, we, as Christians, should be showing there is another way to live.

And remember the phrase, “They shall know us by our Love.”

 

1 Corinthians 13 (NIV)

13 If I speak in the tongues[a] of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast,[b] but do not have love, I gain nothing.

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10 but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears. 11 When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. 12 For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.

13 And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.

The Difference Between Life and Death: A Tale of Two Seas

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Happy & Sad (Photo credit: Swamibu)

Have you ever wondered why two people, when facing the same difficulties, can react so differently?

Some are the picture of hopelessness.  They have a perpetual black cloud following them everywhere, and doom seems imminent, no matter the size of the problem.

But others who face the same circumstances are not only hopeful, they are joyful.  To look at their countenance you would think they lead a perfectly blessed life.

I’ve often wondered, “What makes the difference?”  And who knew the answer could be found in geography?

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