True Friends

Listen to the podcast of this post by clicking on the player below, and you can also subscribe on AppleSpotify, or Audible. 

Wounds from a sincere friend are better than many kisses from an enemy (Proverbs 27:6 NLT). 

Proverbs 27 may have more wisdom about our friends than any other chapter in this book. But sprinkled throughout the entire book of Proverbs is outstanding wisdom about our closest relationships. Allow me to share just a few observations with you.

(Click here to see all of the verses I reference below.)

In a previous post where I noted the conjunctions “but” and “and,” I see this—The righteous choose their friends carefully, BUT the way of the wicked leads them astray (12:26). Righteous friends keep me on the right path. 

Friends love me through my worst moments (17:17) because they have committed to stick closer than a brother to me (18:24).

I must be careful not to make friends with a hot-tempered person (22:24), and to be cautious of people who want to be friends with me only for what I can give them (19:4). 

My true friends will wound me in love to help me become the best that God intended me to be (27:5-6, 9, 17), so I must never forsake these friends (27:10). 

False friends will gossip to me and about me, but my true friends will guard my secrets and guard my reputation (16:28; 17:9). 

In order to have true friends, I first have to be a true friend.

In my book Shepherd Leadership: The Metrics That Really Matter, I noted how true friends will help us go farther and avoid the stumbles that could cut short our leadership influence. 

David was the gold standard for every king of Israel who followed him. Numerous times throughout the history of Israel, we will see a note that a certain king either followed God like David, or turned from God unlike David. Yet there exists a wart on David’s portrait: an adulterous affair with the wife of a man in his inner circle, and then subsequent lies and a murder to cover up the affair. “The thing David had done displeased the Lord” (see 2 Samuel 11). 

But I’d like to turn your attention to when this affair occurred: “In the spring, at the time when kings go off to war…David remained in Jerusalem” (2 Samuel 11:1). He was without his usual comrades. The men who knew David best, who could probably sense if something was amiss, weren’t around to warn him. When David tried to find out the identity of the bathing beauty on the roof next door to his palace, an unnamed attendant tried to remind him, “Isn’t that Bathsheba, the wife of Uriah?” but David dismissed him. 

Elijah was arguably the most forceful and fearless prophet in Israel’s history. Not only did he stand up to the evil kings of Israel, but he spoke out against the kings of surrounding nations, too. In answer to Elijah’s prayer, God brought a drought on the land, and again in answer to Elijah’s prayer, God sent rain. Elijah challenged the 450 prophets of the god Baal and the 400 prophets of the goddess Asherah to a duel to the death, which ended up in a decisive victory for Yahweh. Yet, shortly after this massive victory, Elijah was depressed to the point that he wanted to die. 

What led to Elijah’s depression? Something very similar to David’s slide into adultery: He was alone. Elijah ran away from Queen Jezebel’s death threat, left his servant behind, and proceeded all by himself into the desert. It was when he was without a comrade that he prayed to God, “I’ve had enough. Take my life” (see 2 Kings 17–19). 

And what about Peter? He boldly claimed his loyalty to Jesus, even to the point of wielding a sword at the guards who came to arrest his Master. But when Peter was alone, after the other disciples fled, he denied three times that he knew Jesus (Matthew 26:33, 51, 69–75). 

God designed us to be in relationship with others. His statement to Adam in some of the earliest words of the Bible—“It is not good for you to be alone”—are words for us still today. —from the chapter “Going Farther” 

We need true, God-fearing friends close to us. Ask God to bring those friends around you, and ask the Holy Spirit to make you into that kind of friend for those He does bring around you. 

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Think On This…

Here’s the seed thought for this episode of Think On This

The first to speak in court sounds right—until the cross-examination begins. (Proverbs 18:17 NLT)

Think on this: What if we cross-examined what we heard before we accepted it as fact or repeated it to someone else?

Poetry Saturday—If

If you can keep your head when all about you   
    Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,   
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
    But make allowance for their doubting too;   
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
    Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,
    And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise:

If you can dream—and not make dreams your master;   
    If you can think—and not make thoughts your aim;   
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
    And treat those two impostors just the same;   
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
    Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
    And stoop and build ’em up with worn-out tools:

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
    And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
    And never breathe a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
    To serve your turn long after they are gone,   
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
    Except the Will which says to them: ‘Hold on!’

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,   
    Or walk with Kings—nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
    If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
    With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,   
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,   
    And—which is more—you’ll be a Man, my son! —Rudyard Kipling

12 Quotes From “Love Like That”

Dr. Les Parrott dives into the loving life of Jesus and takes us with him to discover the five was Jesus loved. Check out my full book review by clicking here, and then enjoy some of the quotes I especially liked. 

“The great hindrance to true enjoyment is our willingness to settle for pitiful pleasures.” 

“What keeps us from being mindful? I can answer this question with one word: agendas. … Every one of us has the capacity to set aside our self-interest, temporarily. We have the ability at any time to press the pause button on what we want. … That’s the moment we become mindful.” 

“Loving like Jesus is not efficient. It takes time away from our own agenda-driven pace.” 

“Jesus was shockingly accessible to anyone who felt undesirable or unwanted—lepers, Gentiles, tax collectors, the poor and persecuted, pagans and sinners. He wasn’t like other ‘holy men’ in Judea. His fellow rabbis operated on the principles of exclusion and isolation.” 

“If you want to love like Jesus, you can’t limit your love to people who deserve it.” 

“God is happy to give unconditional acceptance and unmerited grace to all who will receive it.” 

“We can’t give grace to others when we are aren’t receiving it ourselves. When we’re busy earning acceptance from God, we start to think everyone else should earn it too. Judgmentalism creeps in. Self-righteousness appears. … When we aren’t cognizant of God’s unconditional acceptance in our own lives, we can’t give it to others.” 

“If you want to love like Jesus, you can’t shy away from what you know is right and true. You can’t remain silent just to go unnoticed. Loving like Jesus is not for the chickenhearted. It requires a fierce commitment to being authentic. It requires a bold commitment to being a truth-teller. … No one accused Jesus of being a pushover—or winsome.” 

“Self-giving is selfishness in reverse. It is not concerned with benefits, and it expects nothing in return. … It comes down to motive. You can be a giver and still expect something in return. … True self-giving is offering the best of who you are to others, and it comes with no strings attached.” 

“The long and short of it is that we love like Jesus when we allow Jesus to love through us. It’s not about our effort. We are not trying to imitate Jesus. It’s an inside job. It’s about being a channel for His love.” 

“Loving like Jesus isn’t achieved as much as it is received.” 

“The word intuition comes from the Latin word intueri, which is roughly translated as meaning ‘to contemplate.’ You see, our intuition stems from what we are considering, what we are sensitive to or attuned to do. … So, if you want to hear from God, you’ve got to slow down enough to clear your head and be attuned to His Spirit. That’s when the sacred gift of God’s whisper is heard—when you become accustomed to His voice.” 

I’ll be sharing more quotes from Love Like That soon, so stay tuned! Updatenew quotes are posted here.

Poetry Saturday―Don’t You?

Edmund Vance CookeWhen the plan which I have, to grow suddenly rich
Grows weary of leg and drops into the ditch,
And scheme follows scheme
Like the web of a dream
To glamour and glimmer and shimmer and seem,…
Only seem;
And then, when the world looks unfadably blue,
If my rival sails by
With his head in the sky,
And sings “How is business?” Why, what do I do?
Well, I claim that I aim to be honest and true,
But I sometimes lie. Don’t you?

When something at home is decidedly wrong,
When somebody sings a false note in the song,
Too low or too high,
And, you hardly know why,
But it wrangles and jangles and runs all awry,…
Aye, awry!
And then, at the moment when things are askew,
Some cousin sails in
With a face all a-grin,
And a “Do I intrude? Oh, I see that I do!”
Well, then, though I aim to be honest and true,
Still I sometimes lie. Don’t you?

When a man whom I need has some foible or fad,
Not very commendable, not very bad;
Perhaps it’s his daughter,
And some one has taught her
To daub up an “oil” or to streak up a “water”!
And her grass is green green and her sky is blue blue,
But her father, with pride,
In a stagey aside
Asks my “candid opinion.” Then what do I do?
Well, I claim that I aim to be honest and true,
But I sometimes lie. Don’t you? —Edmund Vance Cooke

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