Saturday, May 19, 2012

The True Nature of Friendship

A friend loveth at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.  –Proverbs  17:17

I recall a number of years ago when the Internet was getting popular and everyone was starting to send and receive emails.  All of a sudden we were connecting and reconnecting with friends, family, co-workers, and acquaintances.  These days, however, plain old email does seem a little boring, right?  I mean, we now have Facebook, blogging, texting, Skype (Internet on-screen phone calling), and Google messenger to name a few.  However, I cannot help but smile when I reflect on the time when email was so new and exciting.

During this early experience with the Internet, I was able to reconnect with a family who had been members of a church in another state where I had been the pastor.  Once I received my former church member’s email address I excitedly sat down and sent him a detailed message bringing him up to date on all that was going on with my family and ministry.  I told him about my family, what our sons all were doing, what was going on in Andrea’s life, and how the Lord was blessing our ministry.  I even told him about the puppy we had adopted.  A few days later, there was a message in my email inbox from my friend.  I eagerly opened it and read the following: “Dan: My old friend.  -Doug”

That was it.  Somehow I thought Doug might have taken the time to provide a little more detail as to what was going on in his life, yet he seemed content to simply acknowledge me as an old friend.  I have to admit I felt a little slighted.  I thought, “Come on, Doug; you can do better than that!  This is 1998 – we are on the Internet here!  Give me a few details.”  However, as I read the message I thought of what a sincere man my old friend is and how when it comes to electronic communication he is indeed a man of few words.  I contented myself with the knowledge that Doug considered me an old friend. 

The Word of God says that a friend loves us at all times.  Even though my friend did not have a great amount to share in his brief email, what he did say spoke volumes.  He thought of me as a friend.  I honestly have no doubt that even these years later were I to call him with a favor he would do anything in his power to help.  He is that kind of faithful friend.  Have you considered that a true friend does not have to say it, but expresses friendship through actions, trust, and deeds?  This is the test of true friendship; the test is not in words, but in the way they are always there for us when we need them. 

I am sad to say that in recent years I have lost touch with my friend Doug.  I am thinking of tracking down his email address and saying hello and bringing him up to date on all that has been going on in my life these recent years.  On the other hand, I might just make it much more succinct and say something like this:

My old friend.

I am sure that would do just fine.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Beware of Distractions and Obsessions

47 Whosoever cometh to me, and heareth my sayings, and doeth them, I will shew you to whom he is like: 48 He is like a man which built an house, and digged deep, and laid the foundation on a rock: and when the flood arose, the stream beat vehemently upon that house, and could not shake it: for it was founded upon a rock.  –Luke 6:47, 48

If I told you that people do the strangest things you would not surprised.  People often behave in odd, strange, and eccentric ways.  We all have our little habits, right?  Personally, I cannot go to bed at night unless I have flossed and brushed my teeth.  In addition, I almost never leave the house in the morning without shaving.  Okay, I realize my behavior does not rise to the level of odd as millions of people probably practice similar daily rituals.
However, what about something that becomes an obsession?  Just how far will people take a desire or pursuit?  I have a relative who decorated the den of his house entirely with the colors and insignias of the Cleveland Browns football team.  The room positively blazes in orange and brown and one wall is covered with a giant representation of the team helmet.  Everything in the room, from the furniture to the lamps to the carpet and pictures on the wall is dedicated to his team.  Of course, there is a large TV screen on which the games are watched every Sunday during the season.  My relative’s wife seems perfectly willing to indulge her husband’s obsession with the Browns.  What a wonderfully patient young woman.

You may think my relative’s obsession is something, but it pales in comparison to Mr. Ron Wade of Longview, Texas.  Mr. Wade has spent over $250,000.00 turning a room of his house into an exact replica of the Oval Office of the White House.  Have a look for yourself.  

 Not too shabby, I must say.  It truly does look like the Oval Office.  One news source said it took him two and a half years to design and eight months to build.  Mr. Wade stated that his is a “healthy obsession.”1

Consider the words of Jesus concerning the foundation of our lives.  The Lord said that when we build our lives upon Him we are building upon the solid rock, which will withstand the test of time.  It’s easy to get off track and become caught up in all sorts of distractions, worries, and yes – obsessions.  There is nothing wrong with a hobby as these can be relaxing and enjoyable.  However, anything which takes us away from our focus, which is a life dedicated to Christ, should be brought under control before it consumes us.  The Lord is always willing to help us remove from our lives anything that becomes a hindrance to a Spirit-filled and Spirit-directed life.  By the power of the Holy Spirit, those parts of our lives that keep us from the abundant in Christ are brought under control.  Remember that Christ is greater than any problem, or obsession, we will ever face. 

Resolve to build your life on the solid rock of Jesus Christ.  You will not regret it, for your life will be rooted, grounded, and firmly established.  With Jesus as the foundation we have power to overcome anything that hinders.  Stand firm on the Lord, and go forward in faith.