home > Pastor’s Desk > 2023 > December 8th > What a Friend We Have

Do you like meeting new people and forming new friendships? Some people do. Some don’t. Those that do are usually the ones you see in a social setting (such as a party) who, if they see someone on their own, they feel they should be the one to go over to that person and have a conversation with them. Such people are naturally friendly and seem to make friends quite easily. They find starting conversations with others easier than most and seem to somehow have the knack of making people feel at ease. But these people are rare. In fact, good friends are hard to find these days. However, they may now become less rare if everyone who is unfriendly or friendless reads this short article and discovers how to become a good or even better friend.    

A man who has friends must [first] himself be friendly,
But there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.
Proverbs 18:24 NKJV

THE QUALITIES OF A FRIEND

Friends come in different shapes, sizes, ages, and either sex. A friend is someone who knows you and perhaps despite what they know about you they still like you. A friend invests their time, talent, interests, efforts, in getting to know you and along the way they are prepared to help you where they can. They know where you live. They know the date of your birthday. They know where you grew up. They know what book you’re reading at the moment. They know what makes you happy or upset. They share your heartaches and celebrate your triumphs. Importantly, some friends are for seasons that don’t last. Perhaps with this in mind the Sage wrote that family members rather than friends is where we seek and find lasting support:

A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.
Proverbs 17:17

But because families are often scattered beyond their hometown these days, the wisdom of the Sage found in Proverbs 27:10 should also be appreciated.

 

THE ACTS OF A FRIEND 

Friends have limits. Despite the infinite number of internet memes that declare a true friend will always be there for you the reality is they can’t and probably shouldn’t be. Sure, they may be able to be with you in an emergency moment of crisis, but often times even those moments will be restricted by time, distance, and convenience. Your friends have jobs, families, and appointments to keep that may make it impracticable if not impossible for them to “always be there for you”. More reasonably, a good friend will usually make time to spend time with you. Over time they will have got to know you. This proper use of together-time builds trust and allows trust to grow. This kind of friendship trust enables you to hear hard truths from them about your traits that others might find unacceptable. A friend tells the truth to their friend. A friend can look you in the eye and tell you what you need to hear even though you don’t want to hear it. A friend can open a curtain to parts of your soul that you have not made visible to others. Yet too few people ever experience this kind of deep friendship.

He who loves purity of heart, and whose speech is gracious, will have the king as his friend.
Proverbs 22:11

FINDING A GOOD TRUE FRIEND

The average person who lives in a community (unless they are one who lives on a desert island, or deserted island, or by themselves on a dessert island 🙂 ) will generally have up to sixty to seventy-or-so acquaintances. These are people they would wave to and probably have some idea about their name. The average person in that community would also probably have just a handful of people who would be their friends. And statistically maybe just one of those friends would be a close friend. However, it seems to be a modern phenomena that a growing number of people across all ages are experiencing loneliness from having no friend. So I have a few suggestions to solve this friendless (deadly) crisis.

¶ Know your sheep by name; carefully attend to your flocks;
Proverbs 27:23

 

FRIENDLY AS THE STEP TOWARD FRIENDSHIP

If you would have a friend, first show yourself to be friendly. Talk with people. Listen to people. Remember people’s names (when someone introduces themself to you, repeat their name back to them in your response. “Hi, my name is Slabodan.” “Hi Slabodan. Nice to meet you. My name is Annabel-Natasha.”). The next time you meet them, ask them a follow-up question based on your previous meeting. (“How did you go with that job interview?”) Show interest in them with questions. Share your interests. If you haven’t got any — get some! Be interesting! (‘Interesting people have lots of interests.’) In fact, common interests is often a magnet that attracts people  into a friendship. Note how interesting these young men, Daniel and his three friends, must have been based on Daniel 1:4 – (i) well groomed and well dressed; (ii) highly educated; (iii) hungry to learn; (iv) dignified and polite; and (v) fluent in foreign languages and cultures.

    1. Talk with people you don’t know.
    2. Listen to the stories of people you’re getting to know.
    3. Remember people’s names.
    4. Follow up on information you gained about someone the next time you meet.
    5. Explore what interests a person has.
    6. Share your interests with the person you have just met – make yourself interesting.
    7. Get out your comfort zone every now and again and try something for the first time.  When was the last time you tried something for the first time?

The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Look at him! A glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’ Yet wisdom is justified by her deeds.
Matthew 11:19

 

YOU HAVE A FRIEND REQUEST

The message of the Gospel is really good news for anyone craving a true friend. The Gospel presents Jesus as the True Friend who “sticks closer than a brother”.

A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.
Proverbs 18:24

I’m a very shy person. As anyone who was at my last birthday party could testify, I am not a party-animal. Yet when I read the Gospels though I meet a Jesus who loved to be around ordinary people. He loved parties. If the producers of the Chosen are correct, Jesus loved to eat, drink and dance at parties with His friends.  

And while Jesus was GOD-in-the-flesh; the Lord of Heaven and Earth;, He told His disciples that above all, He was their friend.

No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from My Father I have made known to you.
John 15:15

Jesus is now coronated as the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, yet He wants to be your friend. You may feel like you are a nobody. (You and me both.) While we maybe no-bodies, we can know Somebody who knows everybody who calls us His friend – if we have accepted His Friend Request. Will you? 

Your Pastor,

Andrew

Let me know what you think below in the comment section and feel free to share this someone who might benefit from this Pastor’s Desk.

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Follow Me AS I FOLLOW JESUS

We all walk a path in life that is set before us. We start with very little experience and knowledge about the purpose of our life and the world beyond us. All of humanity experiences joy, wisdom, strength, weakness, suffering and hardship, especially those who are “contending for the faith”. Knowing Jesus is a very special part of this life journey.

A CERTAIN GOD

We can be reasonably certain about many things. In fact, without this certainty about life, none of us could function. We can be certain that tonight the sun will ‘set’. Tomorrow the sun will ‘rise’. After the February 28th it will be February 29th. This year there will be international unrest and much political instability in many parts of the world. In the coming months global warming will be identified by politicians as the source of floods and wildfires. Several high profile international celebrities will die this year. Archaeologists will make a discovery that will require some aspects of history to be rewritten. And you will certainly have one of the most memorable moments in your life in the coming days. You see, there are clearly some things we can be quite certain about. However, there are some aspects about our future that we cannot be certain about, yet in those moments we can be certain about what we should do.

LOW COST LIVING

Turn on any TV or radio news lately and there’s bound to be a story about the current “cost of living crisis”. We all feel it. Initially most people accepted the widespread price-rises were caused by 2020-21 pandemic lockdowns. But whatever the reasons for the rapid price hikes over the past two years, every time we go to the supermarket we feel it again. While governments are striving to curb the impact of this cost of living crisis, there remains a way to enjoy low cost living. The key to this is recognising that the most valuable things in life are literally priceless. The path to enjoying low-cost living is to be found in Christ, and what He taught — and it begins with treasure.

How To Know Jesus Better

It’s a scary thought to realise that the Jesus we have been told about and worship may not really be known to us at all. We can ‘know’ about someone or something, but not really know them. In Christian circles it’s often referred to as head knowledge not heart knowledge.

Knowing Christ Better

As a church, this year’s theme is coming closer to Christ by getting to know Him better. I feel that I am “the least qualified person” to tell anyone how this is done — but someone else has already claimed this distinction – the apostle Paul. After decades of hearing directly from Christ, seeing extraordinary miracles, being taken to heaven temporarily, planting churches across the Roman Empire, he could still say I would give anything to really know Christ – even if it meant suffering like He did! (Phil. 3:7-10). Therefore, I could say: If you do this or that, you will then know Christ better – but in my view, it’s not as easy as that! How we develop our relationship with Christ is shaped by several factors including our personality, our life experiences, our physical health and fitness, and our relationships with others (especially our parents and particularly our father). In fact, I believe that there is a relationship between how we have learned to build relationships with others (and notably how we have learned to relate to those who are closest to us) and how we then proceed to have a relationship with God. Even though I have expressed my lack of qualifications in telling anyone how to have a closer relationship with Christ, I still can, like one hungry beggar to another hungry beggar, offer you a few of the morsels of food that I’ve been able to find.

SOME PEOPLE HAVE AMAZING BUTS

I know of several people with amazing buts. There’s Jo’, Mo’, Sam, Esther, Jerry, and others. Each of these people were gifted by God with an amazing but that changed there life and the course of human history. Sometimes these gifts came with a …then, or …God, or …the LORD. When it comes to the size of things, a but is a relatively small thing (in Greek it can be just two letters: de) but it can have huge implications and enormously great blessings for multitudes. I hope to show you how this was the case with each of the people I have chosen as samples, and then show you how God is your God of buts.

OPEN

What does the word ‘open’ mean to you? Like language itself, it is like any word in which the meaning only comes from the context in which it is used. I can think of at least 12 different understandings of this word, some of which I will point out, most I will not, and one that I focus on because it is prophetically important for where we are at as a church at this crucial time.

ONE THING I HAVE TO SAY

​I’m always amazed at the really cool events I’d organised for my kids to experience, so that they might have happy memories – but now they don’t remember it except the random comment someone made in the car trip on the way there or what snack was eaten. Conversely, if you make a mistake, well that one is remembered! Once I drove Andrew’s car and just lightly hit something so it ended up with an annoying 2cm scratch. The mistake is (still) there in full view to anyone who looks. Is Andrew going to remember this above the years of my devotion to him? (Not likely, but some people do remember the wrong for way too long!) If you had the choice, what one thing would you want to be remembered for? What one thing would you want your family to remember? It’s not often going to be the thing you have in mind.

‘Famous last words’ comes from the hope that you’ll be remembered for them. If you were given the privilege of being able to articulate as the important thing to say, to be remembered by all, what would it be? Would it be a reflection on your love toward someone? Would it be a directive on how to have the best life? Would it be that you wished you had done something? Someone once mused, ‘would your dying words be that you’d wished you’d spent just one more day in the office’? (Not likely.)

AT THE END OF THIS YEAR I WILL RECOUNT 12 WONDERFUL THINGS (An Explication of Psalm 9)

This is my last end-of-year Pastor’s Desk post. When the head of our Live-stream ministry, Sari, asked me what I was thankful for this year, my immediate answer was obvious and predictable. But since then, I have considered that I also have eleven other things for which I am grateful to GOD for. In this last ever end-of-year Pastor’s Desk please indulge as I share my heartfelt thanks to God and for those God has used to bless me this year.

HE WAS BORN A KING

The king who reigned over Judea when Jesus was born was Herod the Great. Herod had no legitimate claim to the throne of Israel. He was from an Idumean noble family who supported the Roman occupation of Palestine. As a reward he was appointed by the Roman Senate as the King of Judea. Despite his attempts to curry favour with the Jews, including several major public works programs (including completing the temple reconstruction) he was still largely unpopular among the Jews. Little wonder then that when the Magi arrived in Jerusalem with their large retinue and requested to view the birth of the prophesied King of the Jews, Herod was emotionally threatened by this revelation. Herod immediately ordered an enquiry from the chief priests and religious scribes.