Alien Friendships

As Peter wraps up his letter, he reminds us of his purpose in writing to us aliens and strangers

    • encouraging you = speaking encouraging words to your heart.  
    • testifying that this is the truth = speaking thoughtful words to your head. 

But Peter also says that he wrote this letter “with the help of Silas”—some translations even say “by Silas”—indicating that Peter needed someone to come alongside him with words of encouragement and strength, as much as he needed to deliver those words to fellow Christians. 

Peter mentions three people that were alongside him. These folks are instructive for us too:

  1. Silas 

Peter called Silas a faithful brother. The Greek word he uses for brother is adelphos, a word which usually meant someone who shared the same parents. But Peter modifies this to mean a Christian brother whose heartbeat with the love of Jesus the way his did; someone who shared the same Heavenly Father.  

Silas was a recognized church leader and a companion of Paul (Act 15:22, 30-32, 40). He had quite an extensive and impressive resume, and he also had the full endorsement for such notable people as James, Paul, and Peter. 

  1. She who is in Babylon

Babylon is a code word almost universally agreed to be Rome, but there is some debate as to whom the “she” is. Some think this is the church-in-exile in Rome, and some think this is Peter’s wife (Matthew 8:14; 1 Corinthians 9:5). 

Whether the church or Peter’s wife, they/she are anonymous servants of God, but never for a moment forgotten by God, nor is their reward going to be lacking (Matthew 6:1, 4). 

  1. Mark

Peter calls Mark my son. Again, he takes a word that originally meant “my offspring” and changes it to mean Mark was his protegé. 

Mark had traveled with Paul, then left Paul mid-journey, and was eventually reconciled to Paul (Acts 13:5, 13; 15:36-41; Colossians 4:10; 2 Timothy 4:11). 

Mark listened to and recorded Peter’s accounts of Christ’s earthly ministry and wrote the first Gospel that was produced. His Gospel became one of the main reference documents that Matthew and Luke referred to in writing their Gospels. 

Here’s the point—There are no dispensable people in the Church! 

You may be like Silas with many talents and an impressive resume and references. Or you may be like the “she” who is an anonymous helper to others. Or you may even by like Mark who made mistakes but was given a second chance to make good on your commitment. 

You need a Silas, a she, and a Mark in your life. And you just may need to be one of those to someone else. 

“You can deceive yourself with beautiful thoughts about loving God. You must prove your love to God by your love to your brother; that is the one standard by which God will judge your love to Him. If the love of God is in your heart you will love your brother.” —Andrew Murray 

So let me ask you to consider something vital: Are you remaining faithful to your Christian family? 

Saturday In The Proverbs—The Blessings Of Integrity (Proverbs 19)

[Each chapter in the Book of Proverbs contains thoughts that fit into a theme; they are not just random thoughts gathered together. In this “Saturday In The Proverbs” series, I will share a theme that I see in each chapter. But the cool thing about God’s Word is that you may see an entirely different theme. That’s great! If you do, I would love for you to share it in the comments below.]

…integrity… (Proverbs 19:1).

Integrity is wholeness—it brings its own blessings because a person of integrity…

  • …is wise (vv. 1, 8, 20, 27)
  • …doesn’t fall into the haste-makes-waste trap (v. 2)
  • …is at peace with God (v. 3)
  • …knows true friendship (vv. 4, 6, 7, 19)
  • …is never punished for lying (vv. 5, 9, 28, 29)
  • …gets promoted to leadership (v. 10)
  • …preserves relationships (vv. 11, 12, 13, 14, 25, 26)
  • …is satisfied with his work (vv. 15, 23, 24)
  • …guards his soul (v. 16)
  • …serves others without an agenda (v. 17)
  • …disciplines only in love (vv. 18, 25)
  • …walks in God’s ways (vv. 21, 23)
  • …is kind to others (v. 22)

“With integrity you can experience freedom. Not only are you less likely to be enslaved by the stress that comes from bad choices, debt, deceptiveness, and other negative character issues, but you are free to influence others and add value to them in an incredible way.” —John Maxwell

How true: Integrity = Freedom to live a satisfying life!

Saturday In The Proverbs—Sowing & Reaping (Proverbs 17)

[Each chapter in the Book of Proverbs contains thoughts that fit into a theme; they are not just random thoughts gathered together. In this “Saturday In The Proverbs” series, I will share a theme that I see in each chapter. But the cool thing about God’s Word is that you may see an entirely different theme. That’s great! If you do, I would love for you to share it in the comments below.]

A wise servant will rule over a son who causes shame… (Proverbs 17:2).

There are inevitable outcomes for our attitudes and (in)actions. Or said another way: We always reap what we sow.

Not dealing with confrontation correctly → → Strife (v. 1)

Wise work ethic → → Leadership rewards (v. 2)

Allowing God to refine you → → A pure heart (v. 3)

Listening to lies and slander → → Punished by God (v. 4)

Mocking the less fortunate → → Punished by God (v. 5)

Living well → → Leaving a legacy for my children (v. 6)

Truthful, uplifting speech → → Being treated like a prince (v. 7)

Lies and loose lips → → Being treated like a fool (v. 7)

Giving gifts to others → → Favor with others (v. 8)

Forgiving and forgetting an offense → → Cementing a friendship (v. 9)

Telling others about an offense → → Losing a friendship (v. 9)

Rebuking a wise man → → Gaining wisdom (v. 10)

Rebuking a fool → → Getting rebuked myself (v. 10)

Rebellion → → Repaid with cruelty (v. 11)

Trade folly with a fool → → Get mauled (v. 12)

Repay good with evil → → Get stuck with evil (v. 13)

Keep picking a fight → → Open a world of hurt (v. 14)

Justify the wicked or condemn the just → → Displace God (vv. 15, 26)

Give wisdom to a fool → → Get burned (v. 16)

Love your friends → → Have help in difficult times (v. 17)

Make a bad deal → → Get stuck with it for a long time (v. 18)

Love sin and promoting yourself → → Watch it all crash down (v. 19)

Look for deceit → → Fall into evil (v. 20)

Don’t discipline your children → → No joy (vv. 21, 25)

Be happy → → Make others happy (v. 22)

Be sad → → Cause rotten feelings in others (v. 22)

Accept a bribe → → Pervert justice (v. 23) and displease God (v. 15)

Keep focused on the here-and-now → → Get wisdom for there-and-then (v. 24)

Use words sparingly → → Bring calm (v. 27)

Stay silent when you have nothing good to say → → Be thought of as wise (v. 28)

If you don’t like what you’re reaping in your life, check what you’re sowing. 

10 Quotes From “Life Wisdom From Billy Graham”

I love the wisdom that was constantly flowing from Billy Graham! Before you read these quotes, check out my review of Life Wisdom From Billy Graham by clicking here.

“God will not reject a heart that’s broken and sorry for sin. He’s not waiting to condemn you, to judge you. He’s waiting to kiss you and say, ‘I love you.’” 

“Comfort and prosperity have never enriched the world as much as adversity has.” 

“God measures people by the small dimensions of humility and not by the bigness of their achievements or the size of their capabilities.” 

“In God’s economy, a person must go down into the valley of grief before he or she can scale the heights of spiritual glory…. One must come to the end of ‘self’ before one can really begin to live.” 

“Everybody needs some friends around him who will say, ‘You are wrong!’ And that includes me. I really value the friendship of people who will just tell it to me like it is, even though I may try to defend my position for a while.” 

“Racial prejudice, anti-Semitism, or hatred of anyone with different beliefs has no place in the human mind or heart. I urge all people to examine themselves and renew their own hearts before God. Only the supernatural love of God through changed lives can solve the problems that we face in our world.” 

“All of us in Christian ministry need to live and work with integrity. By integrity, I mean the moral value that makes people the same on the inside as they are on the outside—with no discrepancy between what they say and what they do, between their walk and their talk.” 

“The social needs of man call for our urgent attention, but we believe that ultimately, these needs can be met only in and through the gospel. Man’s basic need is to be born from above—to be converted to Christ. Man must be changed. Man’s biggest problem is man himself.” 

“In a world of greed, where materialistic values often take first place, pleasure has become a god—and a great premium is placed on cleverness—our greatest need is moral integrity.” 

“Government will never be better than the men and women who have given their lives to it.” 

What’s The Best That Could Happen?

I’ve had a good friend recommend a musical artist to me and I haven’t enjoyed the music.

I’ve had a good friend take me to a restaurant I haven’t liked.

I’ve had a good friend tell me how wonderful a certain movie was, and I thought it was a dud.

And I’m sure some of my good friends could say the same thing about my recommendations.

But you know what? All of these folks are still my friends.

I’ve never had one person say to me, “Your restaurant suggestion was awful. I’m unfriending you on Facebook and blocking your number from my phone. I never want to see or hear from you again!”

Yet sometimes I think church-going Christians feel like this might happen if they invite a friend to come to their church.

Seriously?!

Let’s consider the odds—

  • How likely is it that if you invite a friend to church and they say “no” that they are also going to say, “Get out of my life forever”?
  • If they do accept your invitation, but find that your church wasn’t a good fit for them, how likely is it that they’re going to say, “We can never hang out again”?

I think you would agree with me that both of these responses are highly unlikely!

But consider the other side—what if you invite them to your church and they say “yes”? What if after attending your church they like it? And what if by attending your church they enter into a personal relationship with Jesus?

If that happens, you’ve changed the course of their eternal destiny! 

Instead of focusing on the worst-case scenarios (which seem highly unlikely), we should be focusing on the best-case scenario!

If you’re still uneasy about inviting someone to your church, or even trying to have a conversation with them about your personal faith, here is a simple phrase to consider: Come and see.

Invite them to come and see your lifestyle that seeks to glorify Jesus (see Matthew 5:16). Let them see that you live your life like Jesus: doing good (Acts 10:38).

Invite them to come and see the Creator behind the creation (see Psalm 66:5). Whenever there is a discussion about the weather, or nature, or a medical science breakthrough, ask them, “Have you ever thought that if there is such a beautiful design there must also be an intelligent Designer?”

Christian, you have the best news ever! Don’t keep it to yourself. Invite those around you to come and see what a personal relationship with Jesus Christ is all about. Who knows? You may be a part of changing someone’s eternal destiny.

5 Quotes From “Praying For Muslims”

Sobhi Malek put together an extremely helpful guide for praying for Muslims. Each week has a prayer, but there are also several helpful insights which Sobhi shares. Here are a few of those insights.

“This warfare is not against people of any religion or affiliation. Christ, who died for all human beings, instructed us to love our neighbors. Rather, this war is against the evil powers which control people and hinder them from seeing the light of the Gospel of Christ (Ephesians 6:12). In other words, we are warring against satan who ‘has blinded the minds of unbelievers.’ His goal is to keep people from seeing ‘the light of the Gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God’ (2 Corinthians 4:4). When we pray and ask others to pray, this does not mean that we feel superior. We do not think we are better than Muslims or any other people.  Rather, we believe we are fallen human beings like all others, but we have been saved by God’s grace.”

“When Muslims say, ‘In the name of God the merciful, the compassionate,’ all Muslims and many Christians do not know that this is taken from the Bible. This phrase demonstrates the early influence of Judaism and Christianity on Muhammad. Here are some occurrences of this combination in the Bible: compassionate and gracious (Exodus 34:6, NIV); compassionate and merciful (Psalm 86:15, GW; 103:8, NLT; James 5:11, GW); merciful and tender (Luke 1:78, TEV).”

“There are many teachings in Islam that we, believers in Christ, can use as bridges to help Muslims draw near to and enter the Kingdom of God. The Qur’an states that God created Adam and Eve, that He sent the flood but rescued Noah, that He spoke to Abraham, that He gave the Torah (Pentateuch) to Moses, that He sent Jesus who was born of a virgin. All these narratives, common to both Muslims and Christians, can be used as bridges to bring Muslims closer to the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. This does not mean that all the details of these stories in Islam are in full agreement with the biblical accounts, but they can work as starting points. It is also rewarding to establish friendships with Muslims as you seek to share with them the Gospel of Christ. Friends trust each other, depend on each other and desire each other’s wellbeing. Building bridges of common narratives and friendship pays dividends.”

“The Qur’an, Islam’s holy book, is a collection of jumbled statements and stories in a random arrangement. Most of its stories are fractured and lack consistency. Subjects and themes are not connected. So fractured are narratives in the Qur’an that only one story has a clear beginning, middle, and end: the story of Joseph. All the other stories pick up in the middle, or else they are never carried to their conclusion. The Qur’an admits that satan sometimes intervened and gave Muhammad ‘inspiration.’ It also states that Muhammad forgot some parts of it. Several chapters start with meaningless three-letter words such as alr, alm, etc. Even great quranic interpreters cannot find a meaning for such words. In one place the Qur’an states that no changes occurred in its text, and in another it says changes to it indeed took place.”

“In the past few decades, millions of Muslims have migrated to the West. Some seek jobs, others pursue freedom and a better living, and still others hope to conquer the West by converting Westerners to Islam or by sheer reproduction and numerical growth! I personally take this migration to mean the Lord wants to help the Church win large numbers of Muslims to Christ by bringing them to her doorstep.”

Next week I will share a few of the prayers Sobhi leads us in each week. I would also recommend that you check out my review of Praying For Muslims.

10 Quotes From “As Kingfishers Catch Fire”

As Kingfishers Catch Fire is a collection of 49 sermons from Eugene Peterson. Check out my full book review by clicking here. Below are a few quotes that caught my attention.

“The Christian life is the lifelong practice of attending to the details of congruence—congruence between ends and means, congruence between what we do and the way we do it, congruence between what is written in Scripture and our living out what is written, congruence between a ship and its prow, congruence between preaching and living, congruence between the sermon and what is lived in both preacher and congregation, the congruence of the Word made flesh in Jesus with what is lived in our flesh.”

“Science and religion are opposites, the way your thumb and forefinger are opposites: if you are going to get a grip on things, you need them both.”

“Friendship is not a way of accomplishing something but a way of being with another in which we become more authentically ourselves.”

“Naming an event a miracle doesn’t mean we can’t understand it. It means we can’t anticipate it. It means we can’t reproduce it. We cannot control it. There is more going on then we can comprehend.”

“There are people today who mistakenly look at those [Ten] Commandments as restrictive, not realizing that for those who first heard them—and for those who hear them still, in faith—they provide for and preserve the values of the free life. The reality and truth of God is protected from commercialization and manipulation. Human life is honored. The dignity of work is protected. Close personal relationships are preserved. Truth is respected. Each of the commands articulates a reality and a value that protects a free life.”

“Aaron made a god, a golden calf. At that moment Aaron quit being their pastor and became their accomplice. There are some people who are always looking for a religion that makes no demands and offers only rewards, a religion that dazzles and entertains, a religion in which there is no waiting and no emptiness. And they can usually find someone like Aaron who will help them make it up, some sort of golden calf religion.”

“Acts of love cannot be canned and then used off the shelf. Every act of love requires creative and personal giving, responding, and serving appropriate to—context specific to—both the person doing the loving and the person being loved.”

“Our habit is to talk about God, not to Him. We love discussing God. The psalms resist these discussions. They are not provided to teach us about God but to train us in responding to Him.”

“The Christian life is not, in the first place, something we do. It consists of the healthy and mature formation of our lives by the Spirit, the Holy Spirit. Christian living goes off the rails badly when it is conceived as a program or routine that we engage in or skills that we master.”

“In prayer we do not act. God does. In prayer we do not develop a technology that sets the gears and pulleys of miracle in motion. We participate in God’s action. ‘Not my will but Yours.’”

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