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The Power of Friendships

August 31st, 2018

Friday, August 31, 2018

Friends Influence Who You Become.

“As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.” Proverbs 27:17 NIV.

My thoughts and comments today are about,

“The Power of Friendships.”

I said farewell to a dear friend. I have said too many farewells too many times. His suffering is over and for that, I am thankful. But the continued loss of his company and our conversations is painful to me. In that void, I find my thoughts today are about how friends shape one’s life. You are more the product of the people around you than you might realize. You give an awesome power of influence to each person invited into your life.

Friends with whom you spend time ultimately shape your opinions, values, choices, and activities. The Bible says, “As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.” Proverbs 27:17 NIV. Relationships impact your life’s direction, whether or not you mean them to do so. For better or worse, the friends you choose influence who you become. Think about that for a moment.

Friends are the people you choose to spend time with, and whose opinions really matter to you. By their friendship, they are allowed influence. Who are significant people in your life, whose voice and counsel you always regard? Are they Godly influences pointing you to Jesus and God’s Word, urging you to be better than you would have been, and lovingly requiring that you be better? That’s the kind of friends you need

My favorite story of a friend’s influence is David and Jonathan. Jonathan is the King’s son in Jerusalem, heir to Israel’s throne and groomed to reign. David is a teen, just a shepherd’s son from Bethlehem, apparently with no royal ambitions. After King Saul’s death, God sent the prophet Samuel to his humble home to anoint a new King. Read 1 Samuel 16:1-13. David soon found himself chosen by God to lead a nation, when all he had led was his father’s few sheep.

Can you imagine the insecurities David must have felt, or the questions he had? Why? How? Why me? He would never make that journey successfully without others to encourage and help. You don’t have to make your personal journey alone. In fact, you shouldn’t try.

God brought Jonathan into David’s life. In Jonathan’s heart, God put an understanding of God’s calling and anointing for David to be king, and a love for David that provided an influential friendship that would groom David to rule. See 1 Samuel 18:1-4. Their lives were bound together in covenant love (1 Samuel 20:16), reaching even to the next generation. See 2 Samuel 9:1-13. David would not have reached his potential if not for the influence of Samuel, a person of authority who recognized David’s anointing, or Jonathan, a true friend who embraced David’s Godly destiny, and Nathan, a courageous prophet who spoke Godly correction and counsel to David. Those kinds of Godly friends are essential to your life.

Don, my dearest of friends since I was sixteen, once reminded me of an occasion when I had said to him, “Thank you for not letting me be what I would have been without you.” I do not remember saying that, but I hope I did. Because of the years we had spent together, I am different – my life, family, and ministry better – than would be true otherwise. And that is true of far more friends than him alone. God must have known how much I would need to be surrounded with such friends of Godly influence.

More than any one person, my wife and best friend, my mother and father’s loving examples, spiritual “fathers and brothers” sharing their lives with me, staff pastors serving alongside, and gracious families in the churches we served, are influences touching my life still today. Friendships are for mutual benefit and ultimately for God’s purposes. Choose them wisely; avoid those that might be detrimental rather than beneficial. Be wary of those who would subtly change you as neither God nor you intended.

Today, I pray for you to seek and welcome Godly and influential friendships.

Christian Communications 2018-212

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Friendships and Fingerprints

March 16th, 2016

A man who has friends must himself be friendly.” Proverbs 18:24 NKJV.

From others’ fingerprints on my soul, I am a better man.

My reflections and comments are about, “friendships and fingerprints.”

Family and friendships are what make you and I who we have become, and are still becoming. “As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.” Proverbs 27:17 NIV. The exchange of ideas and experiences develop what we believe and influence how we behave. Few things in life, if anything, are as valuable as family and friends. New friendships are invigorating – so much to discover, so many new adventures together, so many new memories to create. But for me, enduring friendships are invaluable and irreplaceable. Each friendship has its unique patina from weathering the interactions of life together.

The quality of your friendships begins with you. The Bible explains, A man who has friends must himself be friendly but there is a friend who remains closer than a brother.” Proverbs 18:24 NKJV. You will have innumerable acquaintances that are for a season in your life but place high value on acquaintances who become friends. Don’t mistake acquaintances for friends. Invest in both; be grateful for both, but learn to distinguish the difference. Friendships require time and attention to mature.

My life is richer, our family stronger, and our ministry graced by the spectrum of friendships God ordained and provided. Those friendships are comprised of some friends older in wisdom and years, some younger and welcoming fellowship and mentoring, and some of similar age and life experience. From each I have something to receive and learn, and to each I have something to give and teach. Friendships leave fingerprints.

A friend eloquently wrote, “Without [friendships] I would hollow out like a good log that has laid on its side too long. Friendship has weighted my life with relational ballast. Like the texture of a wood floor it wears well under my feet everyday whether I know it or not.” (Old Friends, Dennis Gallaher) My lifelong friend, Don, recalled my saying to him, “Thank you for not letting me be who I would have become without your friendship.” To all my friends I owe a similar debt of gratitude. From others’ fingerprints on my soul, I am a better man. None of us are self-made. For better or worse, you are fashioned by the quality of people whose counsel you welcome, whose influence you embrace, and whose friendship you treasure.

Solomon was known for His wisdom and offered wise counsel about friendship, “The righteous should choose his friends carefully, for the way of the wicked leads them astray . . A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity . . The pleasantness of one’s friend springs from his earnest counsel. Do not forsake your friend and the friend of your father.” Proverbs 12:26 NKJV/17:17 NIV/27:9-10 NIV.

Today, I pray for you to value the gift of those God sovereignly places in your life.

(You can read more of Dennis Gallaher’s comments on Old Friends at: ActLikeMenBlog.Com)

Christian Communications 2016 www.facebook.com/everydaylife.allenrandolph

 

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Friends

October 23rd, 2015

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

The wise person knows where and from whom they will receive help and healing.

My thoughts and comments today are about “friends.”

Maybe you would recognize the theme song of Cheers, a television program popular from 1982-1993. “Making your way in the world today, takes everything you’ve got; Taking a break from all your worries, sure would help a lot. Wouldn’t you like to get away? Sometimes you want to go, where everybody knows your name, and they’re always glad you came; You want to be where you can see, our troubles are all the same; you want to be where everybody knows your name.” The odd lot of likable characters found a sense of family and friendship in the iconic Boston Pub.

When life feels increasingly bewildering and unfriendly, you will seek the company of others, “Where everybody knows your name, and they’re always glad you came.” When you need refuge while you sort out life, where do you go? Some choose a busy, noisy place to drown out their own thoughts and concerns. Others like a quiet place alone where they can reflect and consider. But all seem to appreciate the reassuring company of people who welcome them whatever the time or trouble. See Proverbs 27:17 NIV.

Luke reports a time soon after Pentecost when Peter and John were brought before the prevailing, religious authorities and threatened to cease their bold declaration of the deity and resurrection of Jesus. Read Acts 4:1-21 NKJV. This was a threat of no small concern. “When they further threatened them, they let them go . . and being let go, they went to their own companions.” Acts 4:23/31 NKJV. Their response was to seek out the company of friends.

What is your immediate response when you find yourself in unfamiliar, uncomfortable, or unsafe situations? Gordon MacDonald authored, “Restoring Your Spiritual Passion,” a book of spiritual influence in my life. He proposed that every person needs three things when confusion or conflict comes and your joy of life wanes: (1) a map marking safe places where you find out who God is, (2) a calendar reserving still times when you can hear what God says, and (3) the names of special friends who encourage you to obey what God asks. “A friend loves at all times, and is born, as is a brother, for adversity.” Proverbs 17:17 AMP.

But let me be clear, it’s not just any friends. The company with which Jesus’ followers gathered were people of like faith – friends filled with the Spirit of God (Acts 4:31), friends of one heart and soul (Acts 4:32), and friends who were selfless, even sacrificial (Acts 4:32). Similarly, en route to imprisonment at Rome, Paul was thankful for friends, “The brothers and sisters in Rome had heard we were coming, and they came to meet us at the Forum on the Appian Way. Others joined us at The Three Taverns. When Paul saw them, he thanked God and took courage.” Acts 28:15 NLT.

Friends include you in their lives. Jesus elevated the stature and privilege of friendship when He said, “I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you.” John 15:15 NIV. Those kinds of friends continue to restore and strengthen my faith every day.

Today, I pray for you to have valued and reliable friends for the best and worst of times.

Christian Communications 10137
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Fellow Travelers

May 1st, 2015

“A [person] that has friends must themselves be friendly.” Proverbs 18:24 NKJV.

Life is best in the company of family and friends.

My thoughts and comments today are about “fellow travelers.”

Life is a journey; don’t travel alone. In your journey, joy and satisfaction are found in the company of fellow travelers. Life is most satisfying when lived in the strengthening context of healthy relationships. Healthy relationships are meant to be learned among family and friends. Those relationships are meant to complement each other, never compete or conflict. For a richness of life, you will need both family and friends. Life will still be life with good times and bad; that’s exactly why meaningful relationships are important.

Solomon wisely observed, “Friends love through all kinds of weather, and families stick together in all kinds of trouble.” Proverbs 17:17 MSG. Family and friends will share both your joys and difficulties. In the company of others, each enjoyment is multiplied and every difficulty is divided. “When others are happy, be happy with them. If they are sad, share their sorrow. Live in harmony with each other . . enjoy the company of ordinary people.” Romans 12:15-16 NLT.

In the Garden of Eden at the origin of life, God established a principle. Having filled the heavens with birds, the seas with fish, and the fields with animals of all kinds, God created man. Then God asserted, “It is not good that man should be alone.” Genesis 2:18. But that principle extends beyond the marital relationship. Its truth speaks to the aloneness in which people are otherwise tempted to live. You are never your best without the company and contribution of the right people.

Life is best in the company of fellow travelers. “As iron sharpens iron, so a man sharpens the countenance of his friend.” Proverbs 27:17. That is true when family and friendships function in love, evidenced through mutual care and service, and compatible with Godly values. Family and friends are meant to be complementary, contributing and completing what God anticipates for your life.

Choose friends that strengthen your desire and resolve for what’s right and best. Choose friends faithful for a lifetime, not just the moment. Jesus told about a father and his wayward son. See Luke 15:11-24. The younger son’s heart turned away from his father and home, when he sought the company of the wrong friends. The Bible warns, “Don’t be deceived, evil company corrupts good habits.” 1 Corinthians 15:33. You will become like those with whom you admire or associate.

Reviewing my life, I have enjoyed the graces of God and graciousness of others – born with a Christian heritage of Godly parents and grandparents, blessed with a Godly, loving wife and family, and blessed with uplifting companions God placed alongside. In such company, I find sufficient strength and manifold joys. I am a better man, husband, father, friend, and follower of Jesus because of those willing to share their journey.

While reading this, I trust you are considering, “How can I have friends like that?” I suggest you consider, “How can I be a friend like that?” In gratitude, I purpose to contribute into others’ lives as God, family, and friends have generously contributed to mine. Friendship is your response to seeing God present in another’s life and adding your applause to the process. It’s simple really, “A [person] that has friends must themselves be friendly.” Proverbs 18:24.

Today, I pray for you that your journey is joined by those who inspire you to be your best.

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Connections

March 13th, 2015

“A man who has friends must himself be friendly.” Proverbs 18:24 NKJV.

When shared with a friend, sorrows are divided but joys are multiplied.

My thoughts and comments today are about “connections.”

ED pix connecting

Life can be lonelier than it’s meant to be. Loneliness results from a lack of meaningful and mutual connections with others. You can feel lonely in the company of a crowd but loved in the companionship of a friend. Godly companionship is nurturing to the soul in good times and nurses the wounds in difficulties. “As iron sharpens iron, so a man sharpens the countenance of his friend.” Proverbs 27:17.

The Bible tells the story of Naomi. Read Ruth 1:1-22 NIV. In a famine, Elimelech and Naomi, with their two sons left Bethlehem for Moab seeking a better life. Elimelech died and their sons married Moabite wives, Ruth and Orpah. Within 10 years, both sons died, leaving their Moabite wives as widows. Tragedy left Naomi and her daughters-in-law with a shared sorrow. As often happens, in their common dilemma they discovered a shared life. In Jesus’ parable about the lost sheep and the lost coin, each story concludes with these words, “When he has found it, He calls together his friends and neighbors saying, ‘Rejoice with me.’” Luke 15:6-7. When shared with a friend, sorrows are divided but joys are multiplied.

Longing to return home to Bethlehem after her tragic loss in Moab, Naomi urged Ruth and Orpah to remain in Moab. But Ruth voiced her sense of Godly connection with Naomi. What began as incidental became personal and mutual. In their shared experience, God connected their hearts in a way they could not have anticipated. Ruth’s response to Naomi was definitive, “Where you go, I will go; where you stay, I will stay; your people will be my people, and your God my God; where you die, I will die.” Ruth 1:16-17 NIV. Their destiny became linked in Godly ways of mutual affirmation and blessing. Godly connections are engendered by recognition that God’s purposes envelop a common future. I love the providential occasion of their return to Bethlehem, “They came at the beginning of the barley harvest.” Ruth 1:22. Naomi left for Moab in a famine but in the loving benevolence of God they returned from Moab at the time of harvest. Maybe your harvest is just ahead also.

“A man who has friends must himself be friendly.” Proverbs 18:24. Ruth affirmed her conviction and personal commitment, in the most practical way. In Ruth’s words are relevant truths about mutual connections. (1) Connection requires proximity and priority of time. “Where you go, I will go; where you stay I will stay.” Self-absorption and busyness minimize meaningful connection. Make time to be together purposefully and take the importance of that seriously. (2) Connection includes room for others. “Your people will be my people.” Exclusiveness and possessiveness diminishes the life God means to flow freely. (3) Connections occur when God is at the center. “Your God will be my God.” Connections require a bond with spiritual orientation and purpose. (4) Connections require significant commitment. “Where you die, I will die.” Friendships can grow and deepen over a lifetime; stay committed to them. Value and protect meaningful connections where God is directing and blessing.

I am privileged to enjoy such friendships, and hope that I can be such a friend. Though there must be some things enjoyed in common, they are usually not the more superficial things you might think, such as age, social status, or personality. I cherish friendships with people both older and younger, of diverse personalities from mine, of both modest means and wealth, and of varied experiences and interests. But there is one very important thing that we share in common that strengthens the life connection we enjoy – our common faith and commitment to Jesus. Lasting connections will have a spiritual commonality with people on a journey whose destination is as yours.

I love the providential timing of Naomi’s return to Bethlehem, “They came at the beginning of the barley harvest.” Ruth 1:22. Naomi left for Moab in a famine but in the benevolence of God they returned from Moab at the time of harvest. Maybe your harvest is just ahead also.

Today, my prayer for you is that you provide others the company you enjoy.

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