Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Staying Knit Together

Community is so incredibly valuable these days.  It's such a precious find. Do you have a group of people in your life that you can lean on, learn from, help out, confide in, pray with, encourage, motivate and/or be motivated by?
So many times in my adult life (during and after college) I have had to make a choice about what amount of time in my daily living will be set apart for spending time with friends.  I know that time with people that are friends is super important to my success in my work life, my family life and in my life-life. ha!
What amount of time each day do you allow yourself to spend with friends....those who will naturally invest in you-encouragement and quality time.....and those in whom you will naturally invest encouragement and quality time?  Its important---whether you are a keep things to myself kinda gal or a share my thoughts with anyone and everyone kinda gal.  Both types of gals NEED community to thrive.  More than money, recognition, fame, etc., having a community of folks that care about you and check in on you is one of the richest things on this planet.  I don't have much wealth AT ALL (in American standards), but I am RICH with a community of people I care about and who care about me. My community is my church and other peers in my town. It is full of folks who care for me and my family.  Only a small few of that group are really close friends, but my church as a whole is a HUGE blessing to me and my family. We can go out into our "work" week (funny saying that as a minister to college students) with confidence that there is a group of folks all over our city who "have our backs".....who will be there for us when times get tough/when times are fantastic.

The next thought on this is that we can't just sit at home and wait for a community of people to come to us.  We must continue pressing in to the world we live in.  We must be willing to get "dirty" so to say; get involved in the lives of those we work with, go to church with, etc.  Community comes to us when we open up our hearts and minds to serving the people in our world of influence.  When we decide each day to invest God's love and kindness into the lives of people in our work place, and in our family's sphere of influence.  We cannot just sit and wait.  The world is waiting for hope. And hope comes many times through kindness and friendship.

We can be the friend someone needs, thus promoting hope to rise up in them. And if you are a believer in Jesus, you can share the story of God's love for the world, in your own creative way, to the people in your sphere of influence and they will hear of the greatest hope there ever is or ever will be. JESUS.

Community comes with sacrifice, too.  We can't live this American dream and have true genuine community. The American dream is all about YOU. But if an American wants true community, that person needs to be focused on others and not on themselves as the center of everything---sacrificing their own desires for the better-ment of others. (this isn't the case at all times of the day, everyday, but you know what I mean.) The me centered mentality is very difficult to thrive in a true community of folks.

The ideal solution to this epidemic problematic thinking (American Dream-"have it your way") is to believe Jesus as Savior and Lord and love Him with all of your mind, heart, body and soul.  Since He is God of all things and the Creator of each person's hearts and desires, Jesus is the key to having the dream life....to having a great community around us.  Sacrificing OUR wants and dreams for the joy of others will ultimately bring us joy, too, because we will be living like the One who gave His life for us on the cross--sacrificed His title of King of kings and Lord of lords. He, Christ Jesus, earns all rights of the greatest fame and fan-club of all time.

Stay knit together with people in your community that the Lord has or is giving you. As usually spoken on this blog: Get real, woman!  Live honestly with those in your sphere of influence.  Watch how barriers will fall between people because they see your honesty....your integrity...your genuine life that shines out of you.  Watch how many gals will flock to you because they've never known someone to be as open about life/joy and struggle, pain and death. They.....we all long for truth....real-ness in our world. (yeah, yeah,....I know my grammar STINKS. sorry.)   So, it's okay to show pain, share hurts and burdens with others. It's a super fabulous way to live.....risking your true identity being known by other human beings.  Yikes!  haha!  Be the woman who the Creator made you to be.  Be free and embrace community.

Veritas, Pulchritudo et Amor: The King's Table

Veritas, Pulchritudo et Amor: The King's Table: 2 Samuel 9:1-8 1 David asked, "Is there anyone still left of the house of Saul to whom I can show kindness for Jonathan's sake?" 2 Now ...

Friendship Is Not Rocket Science

So, I have been noticing a trend in the conversations I am having lately with my college students and my peers at church or in town. We've been casually conversing about how in our culture there is a high expectation for everyone to be able to be a good friend, but very few people actually live out the very expectation they have for every one else.  Which the phrase good friend is a bit of a redundancy to me. A friend....a true friend is good.  And once again, to me a bad friend.....well, is not technically a friend if he/she is bad at it. (My opinions....obviously) We in this culture seem to still get steamed about someone neglecting us, talking about us behind our backs, deceiving us and mooching off us WHEN simultaneously we many times are completely unaware that we behave very similarly toward others.  It's this strange problem. The right desire for the culture to have---healthy friendships, but not many folks are actually attempting to make that desire a reality.  If you want true friends, you have to be a true friend.

At the university in which my husband and I serve in ministry, I overhear girls chatting about this, that and the other with their peers/friends as they walk the sidewalks around me on the way to class or home or to their cars.  It shocks me to hear the superiority in their voices about their friends.  So many young ladies on our campus seem to think that the world owes them....in friendship....in a better job....in a better grade.....in a better boyfriend.  It's like they are just sitting around being waited on and the world just is never good enough for their standards.  Who is teaching them to grow up to be 18-23 years old and not even loosely grasping the idea that life is for giving, not for taking?  The phrase, "It goes both ways" is missing many times in the lifestyles of the youth of this culture.  Who started this wicked trend in our nation that so many young people have today that they shouldn't answer to anyone and that character doesn't matter as much as status and money?  Did no one teach them as children these past 18-23 years that status and money come to people with character?....Whether that be good or bad character is the difference for sure, but character is STILL a huge factor in the world of promotion, acceptance, leadership, servitude, blessing AND defeat.

What has happened??  I feel as though the church is about the only set of people who are seeking, even if just a little bit, to train young people and children the importance of character....honesty, trust, love, faithfulness, sacrifice, devotion, etc.  My church is doing very well to promote this truth of true friendship, but I am curious how many other churches are doing the same. I am weekly talking with my college students (those that are in our Christian student organization at the university) about how they can show or exemplify to their peers (classmates), their roommates, their dorm-mates.....maybe even their professors what real friendship looks like. Especially since it seems to be SO rare in these days to find faithful people.....faithful friends. I am frequently encouraging my college girls to rise up and be the example. I am proud of them for doing so.....taking the challenge.  We need more young ladies and young women to do the same. We cannot wait around and expect someone else to communicate and/or exemplify these things to our culture....to the future leaders of our world. It is up to us. The task is ours.

Real friendship is sacrificial, devoted (faithful), honest, admonishing, hopeful, sometimes blunt, loving, strong, giving, gracious, patient and grateful. It is so much more than the things I just listed, but you get the point....right? When one calls another person their friend, I believe that one means to profess that they see that person is able to fulfill the role of a true friend or he/she has seen those qualities of friendship in action....lived out.

We must not stand by and allow the next generation of people in our culture to grow up from infancy, then arrive at the college level or young adulthood completely unaware, untrained in what it means to be a true friend. It is a HUGE foundational building block for all kinds of other social skills......and societal stability.  If we have a whole society filled with narcissistic or leechlike people, we cannot stand as a culture....as a nation. Sacrifice, honor, forgiveness, second chance, hope, perseverance, faithfulness need to be in our culture (starting with our family and friendships) or we will be won over by another culture who is able to work together.  "Pride comes before a fall." -Proverbs

Every person is born into this world with nothing and in need of everything. As we grow up, we learn how to do things for ourselves, but we realize at a very early age the joy in doing things for others, in helping others. I have a toddler.....I know this.......because I see it all the time with my son and all his little toddler friends.  It's not like learning what it means and what it is to have good character are so difficult to acquire. Friendship is not rocket science. Little children know and desire the continued joy of giving to and helping others.  We need to learn a lesson from them and be true friends to those people God has given us, BUT with the wisdom and mature discernment of an adult to know who to trust as a friend.

Ultimately, though, the LORD---the God of all creation, commands us who are His people to love one another. It is not a suggestion for God's people. It is a command.  And since we, His people, also have God's Holy Spirit in us (for those of us who call on the name of the LORD Jesus as our Savior) to help us love one another. The need for divine intervention in loving others is still as vital as it ever was. We, in this culture, have not "arrived".  We still need the mighty power of God to live a true friendship out.  But thanks be to God, He is faithful, sacrificial, the most honorable, forgiving, second chance giver, our Hope, perseverant and mighty in power.....and He never slumbers nor sleeps.

Let us start new in our daily lives.....choosing this day forward to be women of truth who seek to be the best kind of friends to those whom God has placed in our lives.  Choosing this day, let us seek to find our joy in giving, serving and edifying one another......and not for our own glory.
I pray for me personally, that God would be made much of in my heart, mind and actions....in my friendships.  And I dare you to pray the same.....to pursue that attitude with me.
Get real, woman!  Be a true friend.  RISE UP AND SHINE LIKE THE MOON! Reflect THE Light, who is Christ Jesus the LORD.
Blessings to you,