Sep 1, 2011

Three Types of Friendship

A great mentor once told me I should strive to have three types of friendships: playmates, peers, and personal confidantes.
Playmates are those you just have fun with – the friends you get a pedicure with on a Saturday afternoon or laugh with on a girls’ night out.

Peers are coworkers, ministry partners, other moms, etc. with whom you can share the good, the bad, and the ugly; knowing they will understand because they are experiencing it too. 

Personal confidantes are the hardest friends to find. These women are friends you can “throw up” on. They will not only clean up the mess, but they’ll never tell anyone you were sick. Make sure personal confidantes are trustworthy. Pray for discernment and direction in finding them.

How are you doing with your friendships – what types of friends are missing in your life? Pray that God will bring you the friendships you need right now and that you will be a friend someone else needs.


The Invisible Hand

Acts 12:3-10 (AMP), Matthew 16:19 (AMP), 1 Thessalonians 5:17 (AMP)
    Once James had been murdered, Herod’s religious Jewish contingent was thrilled with his initiative and applauded him. Suddenly he saw an easy way to gain favor with a party that had always given him such opposition. Acts 12:3 amp says, “When he [Herod] saw that it was pleasing to the Jews, he proceeded further and arrested Peter also….”
This time things would be very different. The tragedy of James’ death had shaken the believers to the core and all potluck dinners were cancelled…it was time to pray. The Scripture is careful to preface the story of Peter’s deliverance with the following statement: “…[Fervent] prayer was made without ceasing of the church unto God for him” (Acts 12:5). This statement is very significant, because the writer of Acts is trying to show us that the miraculous deliverance to follow would be a direct result of those fervent and persistent prayers that were offered up by the believers.
It was the last night of Passover week and Peter was chained between two menacing soldiers. This was to be his last night on earth, for in the morning he would be executed as James had been just a few days earlier. But the Bible says that “suddenly” a light from Heaven illuminated that gloomy prison house as an angel of the Lord appeared in his cell. He smacked Peter on the side and said, “Get up quickly!” An interesting fact is found in Acts 12:7. It tells us that Peter’s chains, “fell off from his hands!” Notice that it does not say that the angel broke the chains off Peter’s hands, but simply that they fell off.
The angel said to Peter, “Put your clothes on and follow me.” They walked past the first set of guards who didn’t notice him. They walked past the second set of guards who also seemed oblivious to his escape. Then they approached the most obstructive barrier of all – a huge iron gate that separated the prison from the street. This gate was designed to protect the outside world from the dangerous criminals it confined. It was an obstacle that seemed totally insurmountable, but Peter was not worried…he thought it was just a dream anyway.
   You will notice that verse 10 says that when they reached the gate, it “opened to them of his own accord: and they went out, and passed on through one street….” Only then did the angel vanish, and suddenly Peter realized that it was not a vision. He had actually been delivered!
Can you see the theme that is emerging here? In the story, every obstacle, every barrier, and every obstruction is completely impotent. The chains fell from Peter’s hands, the guards could not see him escaping, and finally the iron door opened and the most amazing part is that all of this seems to have happened almost by itself. Although a mighty angel is sent to escort Peter out of the prison, the angel does not touch the chains, the guards, or the doors…they seem to be impacted by an invisible hand.
We see very clearly from what is emphasized in verse 5 that it is because of the prayers of the saints that all this is happening. “…[Fervent] prayer was made without ceasing of the church unto God for him.” The prayers of the believers were the power that loosed the chains, removed the obstructions,and opened even the most impenetrable doors.
   It was Peter to whom Jesus said, “And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven” (Matthew 16:19).
Oh, my friends, if we had any idea of the incredible power that is available to us through prayer, I think we would find it so easy to heed Paul’s prompting to “pray without ceasing” (I Thessalonians 5:17).

The Fear Of Life's Final Moment

   This is the promise of Christ: “Don’t let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, and trust also in me. There is more than enough room in my Father’s home. If this were not so, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you? When everything is ready, I will come and get you, so that you will always be with me where I am” ( John 14:1–3 NLT).
He promised, not just an afterlife, but a better life.
We Westerners might miss the wedding images, but you can bet your sweet chuppah that Jesus’ listeners didn’t. This was a groom-to-bride promise. Upon receiving the permission of both families, the groom returned to the home of his father and built a home for his bride. He “prepared a place.”
By promising to do the same for us, Jesus elevates funerals to the same hope level as weddings. From his perspective the trip to the cemetery and the walk down the aisle warrant identical excitement.
Weddings are great news! So, says Jesus, are burials. Both celebrate a new era, name, and home. In both the groom walks the bride away on his arm. Jesus is your coming groom. “I will come and get you . . . ” He will meet you at the altar. Your final glimpse of life will trigger your first glimpse of him.
But how can we be sure he will keep this pledge? Do we have any guarantee that his words are more than empty poetry or vain superstition?
   Dare we set our hope and hearts in the hands of a small-town Jewish carpenter? The answer rests in the Jerusalem graveyard. If Jesus’ tomb is empty, then his promise is not. Leave it to the apostle Paul to reduce the logic to a single sentence: “There is an order to this resurrection: Christ was raised as the first of the harvest; then all who belong to Christ will be raised when he comes back” (1 Cor. 15:23 NLT).
Paul was writing to Corinthian Christians, people who had been schooled in the Greek philosophy of a shadowy afterlife. Someone was convincing them that corpses couldn’t be raised, neither theirs nor Christ’s. The apostle couldn’t bear such a thought. “Let me go over the Message with you one final time” (1 Cor. 15:1 MSG). With the insistence of an attorney in closing arguments, he reviewed the facts: “[ Jesus] was raised from death on the third day . . . he presented himself alive to Peter . . . his closest followers . . . more than five hundred of his followers . . . James . . . the rest of those he commissioned . . . and . . . finally . . . to me” (1 Cor. 15:4–8 MSG).
Line up the witnesses, he offered. Call them out one by one. Let each person who saw the resurrected Christ say so. Better pack a lunch and clear your calendar, for more than five hundred testifiers are willing to speak up.
  Do you see Paul’s logic? If one person claimed a post-cross encounter with Christ, disregard it. If a dozen people offered depositions, chalk it up to mob hysteria. But fifty people? A hundred? Three hundred? When one testimony expands to hundreds, disbelief becomes belief. Paul knew, not handfuls, but hundreds of eyewitnesses. Peter. James. John. The followers, the gathering of five hundred disciples, and Paul himself. They saw Jesus. They saw him physically.
They saw him factually. They didn’t see a phantom or experience a sentiment. Grave eulogies often include such phrases as “She’ll live on forever in my heart.” Jesus’ followers weren’t saying this. They saw Jesus “in the flesh.” When he appeared to the disciples, he assured them, “It is I myself!” (Luke 24:39 NIV).
Five hundred witnesses left a still-resounding testimony: it’s safe to die.
So let’s die with faith. Let’s allow the resurrection to sink into the fibers of our hearts and define the way we look at the grave. Let it “free those who were like slaves all their lives because of their fear of death” (Heb. 2:15 NCV).