How To Make Good Friends: A True Friend Will Bring Out The Best In You

Oil and perfume make the heart glad, and the sweetness of a friend comes from his earnest counsel. (Proverbs 27:9 ESV)

There is something pleasant about what I like to call, “smell good.” There is cologne, perfume, and body spray all designed to get you smelling good. Then there are air fresheners, scentsy pots, candles, etc. all designed to get a room or a space to smell good. My favorite is coffee. I have an automatic coffee pot that goes off in the morning and part of waking up is noise of the grinder and the smell of Starbucks brewing in the kitchen. Those aromas are welcoming scents. You smile because the room is pleasant to be in, the person next to you smells like flowers or a forest, and you know you are about to get a cup of coffee.

A good friend is like that. You smile when you see them, because you know that you are about to get good advice from them. They know you. They know what your goals in life are. They know what you need. When you are confused and don’t know what to do… they remind you of who you are.  When you are scared because you don’t think you will do well or are good enough, they remind you about what you have already overcome.

advice on friendship

Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another. (Proverbs 27:17 ESV)

You probably don’t know much about ancient metallurgy so I’ll help you out here. You used to use something iron to sharpen iron. By scraping two swords together for example it made both sharper… it didn’t make them duller. That’s how a good friendship works. You bring out the best in each other. You share what you’ve read in your quiet time and it challenges the other one to get serious about their quiet time. They share about an encounter they had at school where they got to share the gospel and you start looking for ways to share at your school.

The coolest thing I ever got to see was there was a youth group who went to about 12 different schools who decided that their first group of friends was going to be each other. This was difficult since they didn’t see each other every day at school.  So one would have a birthday party and they would invite the whole youth group! It was hard to tell what was a birthday party and what was a youth group activity. This group challenged one another to read their bibles and study the word. They raked widow’s yards, they hung out at each other’s houses after church. They went to camp together and mission trips together and then they went their separate ways. Some went to college, some went to work, all but one not only go to church, but are leaders in their church in some way. One is a music minister, a couple are youth ministers, one is a Christian counselor, Several are teachers and coaches, some are on the mission field, some are nurses that do medical mission trips every year…

They’ve all moved on in their life and friendships have changed as is the course of things, but when they run into each other and when they do get together there is so much joy and laughter. There isn’t a bunch of regret.

Recently I ran across a guy I knew several years ago and he couldn’t look me in the eye. He had done something terrible in the past to hurt someone I love. He didn’t know if I knew or not (I knew). As soon as he saw me you could see the shame cover his face. He still lives with the regret today. I bet if he could take back that moment, he would. He made a very clear choice in the 6th grade about what type of friends he would have and as a result he ended up in something worse than a “kitten killing” type situation that really has caused a lot of damage in his own life and in the lives of others.

The question is, what will you do? What type of friends will you put on that first level?

 

Everybody hurts sometimes (Ecclesiastes 7)

Sometimes a little pain is good for us. Don’t get me wrong. I don’t think we should pursue pain, just that maybe pain gets a bad rap sometimes. When I touch a hot stove, it’s the pain that tells me not to keep touching the stove or I’ll burn my hand off. When I work out or run after a long time of keeping my muscles dormant, it’s the pain that tells me they are growing (no pain, no gain). The emotional risk of trying something new reminds me that I’m not growing if I’m not out of my comfort zone.

In Ecclesiastes 7:1-15 Solomon is answering the question posed in Ecclesiastes 6:12, “what is good.” Suprisingly pain makes the list.

So you may be having a rough day. Maybe even a rough week. Don’t be quick to say,”woe is me.” be patient and wait for the end (Ecclesiastes 7:8-9). You may find out that the pain was worth it. Don’t judge a situation just because it’s difficult or it’s full of adversity. See what happens. A fool worries about the “what if’s” in life. A wise man deals with the “What is.” sometimes it takes a little while to know what you are dealing with.

Sometimes the good times fool us. We think we have it made. I’ve found that it is the hard times that shape us and really make us who we are.

Again. We don’t need to seek hard things. If your suffering because of a toothe ache… Go to the dentist. You have the power to change that. Of your suffering because of your sinfulness, repent and make amends. If you have no power to change the suffering in your life, then embrace it and know that God can cause something good can come out of it.

The second part of this chapter reminds us that we can’t know everything. We need to be humble and trust God.

When Church Hurts: Forgiving the People Who Have Hurt Me the Most

Earlier I shared a post in a series about how I became a follower of Jesus Christ.  One of those posts dealt briefly with a series of events that have marked my life beyond all others.  I shared about how my father had a stroke and was subsequently asked for his resignation as pastor.  This series of events occurred when I was 14 years old and still impact me to this day.

My initial response was rebellion and hatred.  For years I was bitter and clung to a hatred of the church in general and this church in particular.  It was a poison in my soul.  It wasn’t until years later that I would look back at this series of events and say with Joseph, “You meant it for evil, but God meant it for good” (Genesis 50:20). And with the Apostle Paul, “For we Know that He (God) works all things together for our good” (Romans 8:28).

The transition took place when I found a way to forgive this church and trust God to remove the bitterness from my heart.  In theological circles they debate this matter of forgiveness like its optional.  Some say that we have a right to hold on to unforgiveness until someone repents of their sin against us.  This is a position that I used to justify my greedy and unforgiving heart.

Then it happened.  I was confronted with the simple text of scripture.  Matthew 6:14-15 tell us that if we don’t forgive others as God has forgiven us, we won’t be forgiven. Some debate that God doesn’t forgive us until we repent of sin, but they miss the bigger picture.  My repentance doesn’t merit God’s forgiveness.  God’s forgiveness was purchased for me through Jesus Christ who died on the cross for my sin. God the offended, made the peace-offering.  As the offender all I had to do was receive the terms of forgiveness. I needed to agree with God that I was a sinner, turn from my sin and follow Jesus (repentance).

So now, if I was to forgive others as I have been forgiven I needed to be the one who would make the peace-offering.  That is what God did for me.  That is what the king did for the servant at the beginning of the parable in Matthew 18:23-35 when he realized the servant couldn’t pay.  He assumed the debt.  That is what the servant is guilty of not doing with his fellow servant.

So one day I made my way back to the church where it all happened. I sat in the back wondering how one goes about forgiving a church and wrestling with what to do. Then they did something peculiar.  They opened the door for the people in the congregation to share what the church had meant to them. I was resistant.  I had a burning inside that I had to get up and share.  Finally it seemed like they were closing the door for people to share and I awkwardly sprang to my feet and began the slow walk to the front.

By now the eyes of the congregation were on me.  They knew who I was.  I imagine they were all wondering at what I was about to say.  Some gave me an ice-cold glare.  Others had a sympathetic smile.  Still others looked on with a puzzled look on their face.  And I shared, “This church hurt me.  Several years ago, you hurt my father and you hurt my family.  You have left wounds on me that cut deep.  I carry scars and nightmares to this day because of what happened here.  But today I have come not to curse you, but to bless you.  I forgive you! I forgive you all for everything!

At this point tears were gushing from my eyes and knowing we were at the end of the service, I asked to close in prayer.  I put my hands on their pastor and began to offer a prayer for blessing upon him, his family, and the ministry of the church.

Later that night I found out from the pastor and other that the church had begun a process of repenting of their past sins.  I was blessed to have the pastor pray and offer a blessing over me.  Today I pray for that church on a regular basis asking God to move in them.

Given my past it is somewhat ironic that God would call me into the ministry.  Since then I have been blessed to serve with two really great congregations (one for over ten years) and alongside two great pastors.

  • When Church People do Bad Things
  • 3 Things you should know before you Judge your Friends
  • Forgiveness
  • My Story: A Trial that Proves a Faulty Faith (part 2)
  • 7 Steps of a Unified Group