Monthly Archives: February 2016

Three Essential Qualities for Deeper Friendships

I recently began thinking about people in my life with which I spend quality time. As a pastor, I am always with lots of different people, but there are a few that I have noticed I am around more consistently. As I reflected on those people and relationships, it made me look at why I enjoy being around them so much. You would think it is because we are of the same age bracket, life stage, personality, and have common interests, but that is not the case with all of them. Yes, there are a few that I am very much alike, but there are some that are very different than me.

As I began to evaluate my “inner circle” of friends, I realized that what made me close to these individuals was not common interests or personality, or even age or life stage. What makes me want to be around these people is their character. In light of that, I discovered three qualities that my closest friends possess that make we want to have deeper and more meaningful friendships with them:

First, my closest friends enjoy talking about deeper things. Yes, we chit chat about life and have fun together, but there is a bond that causes us to talk more deeply. Everyone needs people in their life like this, but men especially need these kinds of deeper relationships with other men. For many guys, the extent of their friendships generally revolves around surface issues, and therefore they never experience the joy of true Christian brotherhood. Deeper friendships are formed when you open yourself up and learn how to talk about the more important things of life. My core friends make me want to be a better Christian, husband, father, and all-around person, and for that, I am immensely grateful!

Second, my closest friends have an eternal perspective. This might be the single most important quality I look for in people with which I want to develop a deeper friendship. Now, throughout my life, there have been people I have spent time with that often have petty issues they want to address from a temporal perspective. Approaching life like this tends to make people negative and spending time with such people is draining. Interestingly, I discuss both major and minor issues with my closest friends all the time, but we discuss them with an eternal perspective. My best friends are positive, hopeful, joyful encouragers. Do not get me wrong, we differ at times and sometimes differ greatly, but what keeps us close is the foundation of our friendship, which is a real relationship with Jesus Christ, causing us to think eternally. I love spending time with these men, because I know they are seeing things with the bigger picture in mind. This is a true blessing.

There are other things I could mention, but the final thing is that my closest friends live in a world of reality, not theory. Who would you rather go to battle with: Someone who has read about war, or someone who has actually been to war? I want to be with the guy who has been to war. There is nothing more frustrating to me than people who love to diagnose problems, but offer no solution to fix them. Anyone can identify an issue, but very few are willing to do whatever is necessary to fix it. I love being around problem-solvers. I love being around people who think outside the box and work creatively to accomplish a task. I often say that my favorite people in the world are those who are self-motivated, people who take initiative. My closest friends do not need me to motivate them. When we get together, we motivate each other just by being together. Every time I leave, I am refreshed and encouraged. Those kinds of friendships are absolutely irreplaceable.

Why did I share all this with you? Because we always need to be thinking about the kind of friend we are and the deeper friendships we want to develop. If you struggle to have meaningful friendships, take some time and do a little self-evaluation. Make sure you are willing to be the kind of friend you are looking for in others. Often times, the problem is not with others, it is with us. Ask the Lord to help you see your blind spots and weaknesses, and then work to be the kind of person that is helpful to others. I believe that healthy people attract healthy friends. Look back at the things I have mentioned above and ask: Am I just a surface person, or do I enjoy thinking and talking about meaningful things; do I approach this temporary life with an eternal perspective; and do I live in a real world, where I seek to be a part of the solution instead of the problem? This week, seek to be a good friend and choose your closest friends wisely.

This is how we change the world…

I think most people would agree that the world is not in good shape. All you have to do is turn on the television to see all the depravity running rampant in the world. What we are seeing is what happens when sin rules in the human heart. Evil is a result of the condition of the heart, and when the heart is controlled by sin, wickedness will follow.

The question then arises, “How do we change the world?” Someone might say, “With all the evil happening, is there any hope?” The answer to that is absolutely. As Jesus said in John 16:33, “In this world you WILL have trouble, but take heart, I have overcome the world.” The only way to overcome evil is with the life-altering, heart-transforming power of the Gospel. Sin can only be removed by the grace and forgiveness that comes through Jesus Christ. In short, the world needs Jesus!

That all sounds fine and good, but how do we get the Gospel to a world that desperately needs it? The answer? God’s church, His people, must awaken and see the privilege and responsibility of taking Jesus to the world. The problem is two-fold: 1. Many Christians do not feel the burden to share the Gospel, and 2. Many Christians have never been trained to share the Gospel. The church must address these two issues if there will ever be change.

When it comes to feeling a burden for unbelievers, this begins with a heart change. Pastors and teachers of the Scripture must teach to penetrate the heart. Actions will never change if the heart does not change first. For a burden to be felt for the lost, Christians must get their hearts right with God. A Christian should love what God loves, and we know that God loves the people of the world!

Once a Christian’s heart is right, what should follow next is a passion to take the Gospel to others. Jesus said in Matthew 28, “Go into the all world and make disciples of all nations…teaching them all that I have commanded.” In other words, the way we change the world comes through people investing their lives in others for the explicit purpose of introducing them to Christ. 2 Timothy 2:2 says, “And the things you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses, these entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.” Mature Christians need to disciple younger Christians so that they can lead people to Christ and begin teaching them to teach others. This is how we change the world…one life at a time! Simply put, we need disciples who make other disciples!

If you are a Christian, do you feel a burden for those who are not Christians? Do you feel a responsibility to pour your life into younger Christians? If no, why? If yes, look around and see who God has placed in your life and begin investing in them. Show Jesus with your life and share Jesus with your lips. This world will only change as Christians seek to make a difference in it, and that happens one person at a time. Together, we can change the world.

Tomorrow at FBC Newcastle, we will talk about this very thing and call one another to get busy making disciples! Join us on Sunday, February 14 at 8:15 or 11am if you can!

Soli Deo Gloria

The cry of the Protestant Reformation in the 1500’s was “Soli Deo Gloria!” This Latin phrase is translated “The Glory of God alone” and is a declaration that all of life is about glorifying God.

I recently preached a sermon entitled, The Deliberate Life for the Glory of God. If there is anything a Christian should be deliberate about, it is God’s glory. But, what does that really mean? How do we live for the glory of God?

When the Bible talks about glory, it is talking about the splendor, worth, and renown of God. God is inherently glorious. This means that God is not dependent on anyone or anything to make Him glorious. He is glorious in and of Himself because He is God and there is no other. Bringing glory to God is simply recognizing who God is and declaring His worth and value above all other things. This should be the heartbeat of every Christian.

There are three things every person must consider if they want to start living for the glory of God.

First, to begin living for the glory of God, a person must understand the greatness of God. We will never desire to glorify God if we are unsure of what He deserves. Glorifying God requires recognizing the awesomeness of God. As the Psalmist said in Psalm 113, “The Lord is high above all nations, and His glory above the heavens! Who is like the Lord our God, who is seated on high?” The reality is that there is none like God. There are none who can compare to Him. God has no rival or equal! He is God and He reigns over all things. A Christian must understand the greatness of God if he wants to bring God the glory He deserves!

Second, to begin living for the glory of God, a person must die to the glory of self. Once we recognize how great God is, that causes us to understand how sinful we are. There is no way anyone will ever live for the glory of God, if they still desire to bring glory to themselves. As Jesus said, “If anyone wishes to follow Me, he must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow Me!” Death to self comes by seeing yourself in light of who God is. The first step toward God is with a step away from self. God shares His glory with no one, and anyone who wants to make much of God, must first die to themselves. Psalm 115:1 says, “Not to us, not to us, but to Your name be glory.”

Finally, to begin living for the glory of God, a person must live with a focus on eternal things. The apostle Paul said it best in Colossians 3:1-2, “If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.” The only way to live effectively on earth is to have a mindset on eternal things. How can a person expect to glorify God if their heart and mind is set on things that do not please God? The answer is, “They can’t.” We must deliberately set our minds on things above if we expect to bring glory to God.

This year, remember that a deliberate life begins with a changed heart and a changed heart brings a deliberate life. There is absolutely nothing greater than living for the glory of God. 1 Corinthians 10:31 says, “Whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” My friends, may that be true of every one of us, and may our lives clearly declare “Soli Deo Gloria!”

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