When Trust in a Friend is Lost
Friday, September 30, 2011
When Trust in a Friend is Lost
By Rocky Fleming
“For it is not an enemy who taunts me— then I could bear it; it is not an adversary who deals insolently with me—then I could hide from him. But it is you, a man, my equal, my companion, my familiar friend. We used to take sweet counsel together; within God's house we walked in the throng.” Psalms 55:12-14
In Ecclesiastes 4:9 we read that two are better than one, for if one of them falls,the friend who hasn't fallen is there to lift his brother up. We lift our brother up in many ways, such as physically, emotionally and spiritually. Sometimes he can't see through his tears or anger or hurt, and it will cause him to make bad choices. He needs us during this time to be his perspective, and keep him from making rash decisions he would regret. Simply put, we are there when he needs us. It is a beautiful support structure God creates for His man with a friend, and it needs to be guarded and nurtured, for the enemy will try to disrupt it. However, there are times when Satan will try to create division within a friendship. It is a strategic work of his to do this, for in doing so,he weakens the strength that this friendship provides each man. It takes two to protect this relationship.Sometimes, contention continues, even though one friend does all he can to keep it healthy. When this happens, we must rely onour friendship with Christ. Though we feel the needto walk away from a friend who has hurt us, we reallyneed to “be Christ” to this man, in hopes that he will return.
In the passage above,David, the author, is having to deal with a friendship challenge of whichI speak. Undoubtedly,it was a close relationship. These are the worst kind of breaks to work through, for there are deep emotions involved. I can't list all the specifics of what causes strife between friends. Most of the time,the biggest challenge comes because of some sort of betrayal that occurred. I say “some sort,” for there are many kinds. Whether it is an outright scheming plot against a friend to hurt him deeply or a betrayal of confidence, the root cause is still the same. It is a betrayal of trust, and trust is the sacred tie that binds a friendship together. Once trust has been violated, it is hard to recover what is lost in a friendship. Therefore, it is essential that trust be restored if possible, or the friendship will decay before your eyes.
What does it mean to “be Christ” to a friend in whom you have lost? The answer is simple. It is answered by asking,“How has Christ has been Christ to me?” Christ has been Christ to me by washing my dirty feet of sin and corruption. He has not asked me to earn Hisreward of forgiveness. He has not demanded that I clean up my life first before He will love me. He has seen me betray Him by my attitude and ungodly behavior. I am totally guilty of being forgiven by him of the great debt I have to Him, only to figuratively fall on one who has a small sin against me and demand justice. I am so grateful that I am not treated by Christ the way I treat others, or else I would be in desperate shape. However,He is not impressed with me simply recognizing my guilt. A sincere case of recognition of sin is a good start, but it changes nothing. He is delighted when I “am Christ” to a man who,in my mind,doesn't deserve my forgiveness. He is delighted when I can look beyond it, and seek to delight Him over my own sense of fairness, because it is the way He has treated me. Yes, when loss of trust in a friend occurs it is a hard thing to “be Christ” to him. But it brings delight to Christ.
What about the trust issue? Doesn't it require work on both parties to get it back? Certainly it does. But it has to start with one man who is willing to see things through Christ's perspective, and usually,it is the one who was offended. If the offender isn't willing to do the same, hopefully,he eventually will because of the powerful prayers of his friend who continues to hold his friend up before the Lord. You see, this is where Ecclesiastes 4:9 is applied to the one who has fallen and is lifted up by the other. I tell you, this is something a natural man cannot do on his own, for emotions will misguide us all the time. Instead, it requires a man led by the Spirit of God to “be Christ” to his friend during a time like this. It is hard, but it can be done, and the rewards are worth it.
That's the good news for which we all hope. Do all you can do to save a friendship that has been wounded. However,sometimes, even though we do all we can do in “being Christ” to a friend, it doesn't always work out. I would like to say that all my friendships have been restored once trust has been violated. The truth is some have not, for I could not find the trust needed for it to sustain. Regrettably, some friendships simply faded away, and there was no way to salvage them. Sometimes,a friendship is more detrimental to our spiritual and emotional health than it is beneficial. When it comes to this point, consider the greater good. When a damaged friendship becomes a breeding ground of contention that leads to sin, then get away from it. Don't think you must stay with a friendship that tempts you to sin in your anger. Your friendship with Christ and being at peace with Him is far more important than staying loyal to a man.
If a day comes when you must make the decision to be loyal to a friend or loyal to Christ, release the friendship and allow God to bring it back if He desires. Remember, just because there are fractured feelings, it is important to continue “being Christ” by the way you handle your words and your old friend's reputation. This is a time the enemy will have a heyday with you and your friend's life. Make sure Christ is honored, even to the end. If malice toward an ex-friend remains, sin will remain also. Do not allow it, for nothing is worth the hindrance this causes in your friendship with Christ. Whether your friendship is restored or not, let all you say and do still honor the remembrance of the friendship you once had, and your King will be delighted.
Category: Influencer's Weekly Devotionals
Influencers Weekly Devotional
Thursday, September 22, 2011
Miracles in your own Backyard
By Bryan Craig
“But He answered, ‘You give them something to eat.’”
In Mark, Chapter 6, we read an account of where Jesus sent the 12 disciples on a mission trip. He had been teaching them and feeding them for quite some time, but it seems it was time for them to put the teaching into action. He sends them out, 2 by 2, because he knows we all need a “wing man”, and he gives them specific instructions. Jesus creates a sense of adventure, as he tells them to take nothing with them on their journey. He implies that everything they need will be provided. It sounds like a great premise for a reality TV show, like the Great Race. It reminds me of times I’ve gone on a mission trip to a foreign country. Whereas I normally overpack when I travel, when I go on a mission trip, I’m not too worried about what I’m going to wear, and I tend to take the bare minimum. There is also a great anticipation that the Lord is going to show up and do the miraculous. In Mark 6:12, we read that the disciples drove out demons and healed many sick people. When I’ve been on mission trips, I’ve seen sick people healed and I’m sure many demons were forced to flee, as we brought the Light of Christ into some dark areas.
Later in verse 30, the apostles get back together with Jesus, and there is a buzz in the air. They are so excited to tell him about their journey, and it seems to be a big celebration. Jesus, the Master, cuts through the excitement and tells them they need some rest. As always, Jesus plans to teach them another important lesson. The disciples go away to a remote place with Jesus, and they want to continue talking about all their spiritual successes on their journey. However, there are many hungry people who find them. These people are hungry, both spiritually and physically. Jesus sees their need, and He has compassion for them. The disciples, who just came back from a ministry trip where they were looking for people to serve, are now oblivious to the needs of the people back home. They actually want Jesus to send the people away. They use the excuse that the people need to go get something to eat.
Jesus, in his stern, yet loving, way, looks straight at them, and says, “You give them something to eat.” He lays the burden of the people squarely on the shoulders of his fired-up men, fresh off their miraculous journey. Unfortunately, these men have suddenly lost their spiritual fervor, as they see the situation as impossible. Jesus patiently asks them, “How many loaves do you have…Go and see.” They gather 5 loaves of bread and 2 fish, and Jesus multiplies it to feed 5000 people. I’m sure the disciples stood there in embarrassed amazement. Jesus never stopped loving, and He never stopped teaching.
In this Journey with our Lord, He will send us on some tremendous missions, where we will be used by Him to do some miraculous things. However, most of the work He will do through us is back home, right where He has placed us. There are needs right around us that Jesus sees, which we may be ignoring or to which we are oblivious. However, as we spend time with Jesus, He will open our eyes to see the needs. We may be looking around for someone else to meet the need, but Jesus is saying, “You meet the need.” When we start stammering around, making excuses, He says, “What do you have that can meet this need?” What spiritual gifts, what experiences, what resources, what talents do you possess that may be able to meet this need. Bring them to Jesus, as little as they may seem, and let Him multiply them into a solution which will fully satisfy this need. We should expect the miraculous every day, in every way, not just on mission trips, church services, Bible studies and special events. Be careful or you might miss opportunities that God is giving you, right where you are.
About 7 years ago, we met two special kids who were orphans, James and Jamisha. They were 7 and 8 years old. Their Dad had died when they were toddlers, and their Mom had just died of a brain aneurism. The only family member who could take care of them was a 20 year-old half brother. My wife and I became involved with these kids, and we felt God tugging at our heart to consider bringing them into our home. We had 3 daughters at the time, in a 3 bedroom house. We just couldn’t see how we could do this, and so, we didn’t. We chose to become mentors to them, picking them up for the weekend occasionally, taking them to church, providing for needs. We watched as they were moved around to different living situations with ex-girlfriends of their two half-brothers, sleeping on couches or floors, never really having a home. Meanwhile, I went on on several mission trips, led many Journey Groups, prayed for many people, and was used by God in many ways. Yet, Jesus says to me, “What about James and Jamisha?”
A month ago, we heard that James and Jamisha didn’t have anywhere to go. No one really wanted to take care of them. They are now 15 and 16, with only a few years left of high school. We couldn’t believe that no one was stepping up to meet this need. Jesus was saying, “You give them something to eat.” But now we have four daughters in our same 3-bedroom house, and we’re still trying to recover financially from the recession of the past 2 years, and we don’t know what this might do to our family dynamic, and we didn’t know if there would be a safety issue. The Lord gently reminded us of all the different experiences He had taken us through which prepared us for this. He called us to trust Him with the details and the provision.
James and Jamisha are now a part of our family, and we see miracles every day. We get to feel the special love He has for orphans and for “sheep who are without a shepherd.” We feel His pleasure as we meet the needs right around us, which He is helping us meet. We are living by faith like never before. Our girls are getting to be a part of this ministry, learning to surrender their lives to God’s greater purposes. There is work involved. Just as Jesus had the disciples distribute the baskets of food and serve them like waiters, we have had a long list of things to do. There are physical, emotional and spiritual needs, all of which have long been unmet. We are tackling these, with God’s help, one basket of bread at a time.
For the disciples, this miraculous lesson took place during one meal. However, the spiritual value lasts a lifetime. We pray, that as we meet this need of two of God’s children, He will multiply this blessing over and over again into thousands of lives. Look around your life and ask Jesus to show you someone who is hungry or something which needs to be done. He has a mission for you, right where you are. If you answer the call, you will see the miraculous!
Category: Influencer's Weekly Devotionals
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Influencers Weekly Devotional
Monday, September 12, 2011
Abide with ME
The Blessing of Being Last
Scripture: "But many who [now] are first will be last [then], and many who [now] are last will be first [then]." Matthew 19:30 - Amplified Bible
Several years ago, I experienced firsthand a personal application of the above referenced scripture, and as with many other "learning experiences" the Lord has exposed me to in my life, I didn't like it at all. In fact, I was ticked. Now understand, this experience wasn't earth shaking or even inconvenient to me. It didn't hurt any of my loved ones or myself. It didn't cost me anything, except for some pride that needed removing. What did come from this experience started a change in my life that helped me understand that a blessing can be found in being last, if I am willing to look at the experience through God's perspective. Maybe this insight will help a reader see what he may be experiencing by having a new perspective. Be encouraged when I repeat what I said, "There is a blessing to be found in being last, if you will look for it." Before I connect my intro with finding the blessing, allow me to give you some background information:
When I grew into adulthood, I took with me a few flaws in my thinking. It happens to a lot of men who feel they must prove something to someone, or maybe even to themselves. It is likely wounds of the past, or impoverishment, or being shamed by peers that creates the condition and produces a wounded man who, in turn, wounds others. It could be a multitude of things that make him feel he needs to push to the front for recognition and win at all costs. For this man, there is a strong desire for the applause of man, and self-condemnation when a mistake is made. The life of this guy is fertile ground for the Accuser to distract and discourage. This man can adopt a perspective whereby he must be in charge of his success and be "top gun" in everything, or else, he becomes a loser. Of course, this man has reinforcement for his flawed perspective from everything the world represents. As an example, have you ever heard of a movie called "Low Gun" instead of Top Gun, or a motivational speaker title his book, "Success by Being Last" instead of "Success by Intimidation?" Of course you have not, for it would have no appeal to an audience. However, there was a great teacher Who taught a different way of achieving success. He doesn't get much press by the world's way of thinking, even though He is the Author of Life. With me, there were many years that I bought into the world system and lived by the perspective that I needed to be first and declared winner in all my endeavors. I wanted this recognition, and I needed this recognition. However, I didn't always get it, and when I did not, the Accuser would do his thing, which was to convince me that I was a loser. God helped me break out of this perceived need in my life, by making me last. This is where my story begins.
Several years ago, I was playing a golf tournament at a Christian men's conference. It was supposed to be a "hit and giggle" thing. But there is no such thing as that for a guy who takes his golf as serious as I did back then. No, it required that I win it, or do what I could to make it happen. It was a four ball tournament, and I was put with a group of men who were just slightly less motivated than me to win and be recognized. Like me, they really worked on their game. As a group competing with the other groups, we knew we had a good chance of winning the tournament, for there were some guys who had never picked up a club. On the golf course, these beginners were hitting humiliating shots, except they didn't seem to mind. At the time, I couldn't understand this way of thinking. If it had been me hitting those shots, I would have been throwing a golf club or looking for someone to throw in the pond.
As was expected, my group and I won the tournament. After dinner that night, the awards were presented. Undoubtedly, the tournament had some great sponsors, for the prizes were way out there. My team was drooling over what we would get as a prize for coming in first. However, when it came to getting our prize, the devilish golf committee who ran the tournament decided to apply the principle that the last will be first in getting a prize, and this is where I got ticked. This meant that every team who finished behind us would walk to the tables first and pick any prize they wanted, starting with the men who shot a round of 200. When my group and I finally got to the table, all the great prizes were picked over. I was even the last guy on my team to the table of prizes, or should I say, "prize." When I finally got to the table to get my reward for finishing first, (or was it last?), the only thing left on the table was a book. It was a book that no one, including myself, had ever heard of. Most guys don't read anyway, especially a book two inches thick. So, they left it for the guy who came last, which was me. I smiled and took the book. I could still be some kind of winner out of this I thought, by looking like a Christian servant even though I wanted to strangle the golf committee. You know when people know you're faking happiness over anger? They won't make eye contact with you. When I returned to my table with book in hand, this was the case. Nobody would look me in the eye. It was best that they didn't.
Later in the evening, a friend came up to me and asked me if I knew about the book in my hand. I kinda suspected he might have been the inspiration for the first shall be last fiasco. Still smiling my "servant leader" fake smile, I answered him that I had not, while thinking in my mind, "You mean the book I'm looking for a trash can to deposit it in?" He said, "It is a new book by Eugene Peterson. He wrote it so Christians could understand how to read scripture in modern day language. It's called The Message."
That day in 1993 was the first time I heard of this book and put my hand on The Message. It was not the last time, as this interpretation of scripture has blessed me many times over the last 18 years when I've read from it. The greatest blessing that came to me from this experience was beginning to understand how a blessing from God can surface from the experience of being last, rather than first. It has taught me to not fear being last, for being last has nothing to do with being a winner or loser. It has nothing to do with self-worth or needing to be recognized or to be appreciated by God. In fact, it has given me freedom from my own need of approval to help someone who needs to be encouraged, by putting them ahead of myself and really serving them as Christ does. I didn't think so at the time, but those duffers who shot 200 were also used by God to teach me that even though they were last in man's way of thinking, they were first in God's economy. They were last in deserving a prize, but they were first to get the best ones, which is the way God generally does things with His grace. Based on the golf score, I was first in deserving the best prize, and most men, including myself at the time, would think I was cheated. At first, I thought I was cheated and got the worst prize. Since then, I have come to understand I was given the best prize on the table. I was given a book that helped me understand what was missing in the practical application of scripture to my life. But I was also given a gift found in simply being last. The prize found from this position has helped me come to understand how God blesses the humble man, and there is no prize this world can give me that could come remotely close to the blessings God bestows on a humble man in whom He delights. In God's economy, being last is the path to His heart, and that place is the best of all Treasures. So, do not fear being last. It will lead to the greater blessing.
Category: Influencer's Weekly Devotionals
Links & Resources
Influencers- Bakersfield, CA
Influencers-Bayside Church, Northern California
Oswald Chambers, "My Utmost for His Highest"
Tulsa Men of Christ
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