5 Marks Of A Great Friend

5-signs-of-a-good-friendLast week, we looked at what the Bible says about fools. Specifically, we examined 7 foolish character traits the define someone as a bad friend. (Click here to read that post) But the question remains, “What kind of friend should our kids have? What does a good friend look like?” Let’s take a look at how the Bible describes the wise (i.e. those gals and guys that will prove to be faithful friends). A great friend will:

1.    Love God

If a person is truly wise, they will love God, the source of all wisdom. As Proverbs 2:6 says,

For the Lord gives wisdom; from his mouth come knowledge and understanding.

A good friend must cherish the things of God. They must love God’s word, his church, and his people. A good friend will always seek to obey God. As Proverbs 1:7 famously says, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction.”

2.     Respect Their Parents

A wise child will value their parents’ advice and counsel (Prov. 4:1,5).  They listen when their parents offer them practical, biblical wisdom about dating, school, work, money, and friends. And because they listen to their parents, wise kids avoid many disastrous decisions. They bring both their mother and their father great joy. As Proverbs 23:24 says,

The father of the righteous will greatly rejoice; he who fathers a wise son will be glad in him.

Wise kids value their parents.

3.     Speak Well

A wise child does not speak all the time (Prov. 29:9). Their Facebook, Twitter, and Snapchat can lay dormant for a few hours. They don’t feel the need to comment on everything thing their friends, parents, and teachers say. And when they do speak, they add to the conversation. Their words are kind, loving, and thoughtful. As a result, they often win people over to their point-of-view (Prov. 16:23).

The tongue of the wise commends knowledge, but the mouths of fools pour out. – Proverbs 15:2)

4.    Be Humble

How do you know if a child is humble? Try correcting them. Try to help them with the swing, complete their homework, or to stop sinning. A humble, wise kid will listen to you and value your input (Prov. 9:9). They will say, “Show me more!” The fool will say “No thanks; I got this old man” (Prov. 12:15). If anything the fool will try to teach you how to coach, teach, or discipline better. As the Scriptures say,

Do not reprove a scoffer, or he will hate you; reprove a wise man, and he will love you. – Proverbs 12:2.

Let’s encourage our kids to befriend people who can accept criticism.

5.    Promote Peace

A wise, good friend makes friends where ever she goes. Instead of stirring up arguments and drama, a wise friend brings peace and harmony (Prov. 12:18; 29:8).  In addition to bringing peace with their lips, wise friends keep their friends out of trouble. They encourage their friends to complete their homework, to tell the truth, and to honor their parents (Prov. 13:14). As Proverbs 24:3 says,

By wisdom a house is built, and by understanding it is established;

Let’s encourage our kids to value wise and understanding friends.
As the first point makes clear, to be a good friend one must be a believer. This is not to say that friendships with unbelievers are sinful, misguided, or meaningless. But the best and most meaningful friendships occur within the body of Christ. No one can be a good, wise friend apart from Christ since all wisdom comes from him.  Are we ready to help our kids find good friends?

5 Ways To Pray For Your Church

Nothing in ministry happens by chance. God works. He builds his church. If we want to see our church grow, we must be humbly dependent on God. We must pray. Below, I our 5 great ways to pray for our church and ministries.

1. Pray For Unity:

Friends, unity is supernatural. Churches are made up of people like you and like me. old man prayingI.e, Churches are made up of sinners. This means that every day we worship together, we teach Sunday school, and lead a bible study there is an opportunity for conflict. “Did you see what she was wearing; why didn’t Bob talk to me; do you think is upset about my Facebook post; how dare you correct my child?” It’s easy to let these thoughts fester. It’s easy to get offended and then to have fights in the church. It’s easy to destroy God’s house from within. This is why so much of the new testament is focused on relationships, on loving one another. We have to work at it. Notice what Paul says in Philippians 1:27

Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving side by side for the faith of the gospel.”

When the gospel takes hold of our lives it should produce unity and peace. Pray for God to work. Pray for God to give us humble hearts that are quick to ask for forgiveness and that are quick to defer to others. Pray for God to give us unity.

2. Pray For your Pastor and leaders:

Hebrews 13:18 says, “Pray for us, for we are sure that we have a good conscience, desiring to conduct ourselves honorably in all thing.” Paul regularly asked for prayer. We need to pray for our leaders’ holiness, for their relationships with their families and for them to have opportunity to reach the lost.

3. Pray for Wisdom:

Psalm 119:18 says, “Open my eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of your law.” To fully understand the word of the God, we have to apply it to our lives. Sure, we can understand the Bible on our by going to school and getting a degree. We can know what it says. But we can’t live it out on our own. We need the help of the Holy Spirit. We can’t be changed by ourselves. Pray for God to open our eyes to his word. To fully understand it and to apply it, we need God’s help.

4. Pray For Salvation:

John 6:63 says, “It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh is no help at all. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life.” If we want to see someone “get saved,” then we need to invite God to work. We can’t save anybody. I don’t care how cool your games were, how fun your lock-ins are, or how techy your service will be. We will save no one. Rather, we need to apply to the God from whom nothing is impossible.

5. Pray For God To Work:

“Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us,” (Eph. 3:20). The reason I get stressed when kids’ ministry workers quit, when events flop, and when new programs take forever to launch is that I miss this truth. I often think it’s up to me. For a ministry to grow, I have to be smart, creative, and cool. But that’s not the case. God’s working. He can do way more than we expect. God is not a little idol in a closet somewhere. He is the ruler of the universe. He moves planets and starts. And he can do more than all our tiny brains could ever imagine. I can’t tell you how many times God has provided, blessed events, and grown new programs simply through prayer. Time and time again, God has gone ahead of my phone calls and has already begun drawing people to teach, lead and serve.  Let’s pray to the God of the universe. And then let’s expect him to work. 

When The Helicopter Crashes

Five Parenting TruthsThe recent news story of two kids (ten and six) walking to and from a park located near a mile from their Maryland home, has me and many other Americans rethinking their parenting. Are we too hands off? Will our kids get kidnaped by strange men in white vans? Or are we (like the Meitiv’s think) flying our parenting helicopters too low? And in the process of hovering, are we sucking our kids’ creativity, personality, and social skills right out of their souls? What’s the balance? Will child’s services be knocking on our door soon? Did our parenting helicopter just crash?

Although each parent’s specific approach to parenting will fluctuate within each community and each family, I have found the five biblical principles below to be a helpful matrix for evaluating my parenting style. None of us will be perfect parents, but through Christ we can be godly parents. We can keep flying. So here we go, Five Parenting Truths to Remember:

Five Truths

  • First, the world is fallen. According to the Bible, nature is groaning with pain (Rom 8:22). It’s inherently broken.  Consequently, we will watch our kids will fall out of trees, get stung by bees, and will be scared of tornados. Physical pain and suffering has been transfused into the universe’s DNA. Regardless of how close we hover, our kids will still get sick. We cannot eliminate all pain. Only Christ can do that, and he will. Until that time, we should try to protect our kids from harmful situations and comfort them when they do suffer.
  • Second, our kids are sinners (Ps 51:5). Regardless of how low we fly or of how much scientific room we allow them, kids will make bad and foolish choices from time to time. As a kid, the cost reward analysis always led me (even when offered cash for a clean dental bill of health) to believe that the joy of excessive candy consumption was well worth a few painful cavities. We need to be careful not to provoke our children through our words, and actions. If we give a preschooler Mountain Dew at 9:30 PM and then tell her to go to bed a 10:00 PM, we’ve all but tilled and fertilized the ground for disastrous night. But as we parent our kids, we will encounter all kinds of difficult and unpleasant things. Our kids’ sins don’t necessarily mean we failed as parents or that the Jones’ view of parenting is superior.     
  • Third, we are not God (Is. 55:8). We cannot and will not ever be able to perfectly protect our kids or anticipate their every need. We cannot ensure their continual happiness and contentment. We should lovingly  and sacrificially care for them. And when struggles come their way, we help them think through things biblically. But God does the rest. He cares for their souls. He provides both us and our kids with all that we need on this earth (Ps 50:10). If God hasn’t given you the money to buy junior an Xbox 360, he may be disappointed, but he is not doomed to a life of crime. Comfort, peace, safety, clothing, and food are all things the ultimately come from above. God will provide.  
  • Fourth, God gives us reasonable expectations.  Past generations may have believed that failing to give your kids everything they wanted meant you were a neglectful parent. But God doesn’t. He tells us to prepare them for life and to point them to Jesus (Eph. 6:4). With much prayer, we can do this. We can teach them how to manage budget and the importance of obeying God. We can’t keep them from giving into foolish desires or from thinking that standing in swing with no hands is a good idea. But we can point them to the God of all wisdom.
  • Fifth, God gives wisdom. We are not alone! We serve the God of all wisdom. He created parents as a reflection of his character.  Since God is the ultimately and perfect parent, he can teach us how to care for children. If we seek him through prayer and scripture, he will gives us the insights we need to loving care for our kids, regardless of their issues. Notice what James says, “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him” (James 1:5). Regardless of how ridiculous we feel, God will freely give us wisdom when we ask. God doesn’t judge us by the family down the street. 

Whether you hover or fly a few thousand feet above, we all can parent with hope because we know the creator of the world. We can fly straight to the throne of grace!