According to some Christian outlooks we were made for another world. Perhaps, rather, we were made for this world to recreate, reclaim, redeem, and renew unto God's future aspiration by the power of His Spirit. - R.E. Slater
Secularization theory has been massively falsified. We don't live in an age of secularity. We live in an age of explosive, pervasive religiosity... an age of religious pluralism. - Peter L. Berger
Exploring the edge of life and faith in a post-everything world. - Todd Littleton
I don't need another reason to believe, your love is all around for me to see. – anon
Thou art our need; and in giving us more of thyself thou givest us all. - Khalil Gibran, Prayer XXIII
Be careful what you pretend to be. You become what you pretend to be. - Kurt Vonnegut
Religious beliefs, far from being primary, are often shaped and adjusted by our social goals. - Jim Forest
People, even more than things, need to be restored, renewed, revived, reclaimed, and redeemed; never throw out anyone. – anon
Certainly God's love has made fools of us all. - R.E. Slater
An apocalyptic Christian faith doesn't wait for Jesus to come, but for Jesus to become in our midst. - R.E. Slater
Christian belief in God begins with the cross and resurrection of Jesus, not with rational apologetics. - Eberhard Jüngel, Jürgen Moltmann
Our knowledge of God is through the 'I-Thou' encounter, not in finding God at the end of a syllogism or argument. There is a grave danger in any Christian treatment of God as an object. The God of Jesus Christ and Scripture is irreducibly subject and never made as an object, a force, a power, or a principle that can be manipulated. - Emil Brunner
Ehyeh Asher Ehyeh means "I will be that who I have yet to become." - God (Ex 3.14)
Our job is to love others without stopping to inquire whether or not they are worthy. - Thomas Merton
The church is God's world-changing social experiment of bringing unlikes and differents to the Eucharist/Communion table to share life with one another as a new kind of family. When this happens we show to the world what love, justice, peace, reconciliation, and life together is designed by God to be. The church is God's show-and-tell for the world to see how God wants us to live as a blended, global, polypluralistic family united with one will, by one Lord, and baptized by one Spirit. – anon
The cross that is planted at the heart of the history of the world cannot be uprooted. - Jacques Ellul
The Unity in whose loving presence the universe unfolds is inside each person as a call to welcome the stranger, protect animals and the earth, respect the dignity of each person, think new thoughts, and help bring about ecological civilizations. - John Cobb & Farhan A. Shah
If you board the wrong train it is of no use running along the corridors of the train in the other direction. - Dietrich Bonhoeffer
God's justice is restorative rather than punitive; His discipline is merciful rather than punishing; His power is made perfect in weakness; and His grace is sufficient for all. – anon
Our little [biblical] systems have their day; they have their day and cease to be. They are but broken lights of Thee, and Thou, O God art more than they. - Alfred Lord Tennyson

Sunday, January 15, 2012

The Blessings of Christian Friendships


Celebrating a Marriage

Very recently friends came to visit as they do twice, sometime three times a year, at one another's homes, all in good humor and fun, to share personal stories of families, past people we had known, new discoveries made, and especially their walk with God. The most curious thing about this group is that it holds within it a nucleus of those who have been life-long friends since our early college days AND have been involved in some form of Christian service since graduation. Some of which are public and held in high regard in the cities, towns, and Lakeshore communities that we live, if not nationally and globally for one of the members of our group involved with a children's adoption group.

When we get together I always like to hear how our friends have been blessed in their ministries and how God has been using them when filtered through their unique personalities that can be goofy and outrageously funny one moment and deeply somber the next. These are friends whom we have grown old with and have been with us since the collegiate days of youth when we were first single-and-unmarried at a local Christian university - one that I attended late in my college experience when transferring from a state university. My wife, on the other hand, had also attended the same campus but not while I was there, and had met this same set of friends a couple of years earlier in her freshman and sophomore years. Later, she and I met each other in a non-church setting years afterwards and eventually discovered the coincidences of our experiences.

Unlike our own experience, others in our college fellowship group had actually met their spouses directly through college itself, or within church ministries connected to the campus. Moreover, many then went on into Christian ministries so that we fondly call ourselves the "Cornerstone group" after the school we've attended and which held such a significant impact upon our faith, our ministries, and our lives personally, maritally, and vocationally.

Through the years we have developed life-long friendships that have remained steady and been a blessing to each of us in a Christian tradition that has interplayed itself within our lives, and bisected our hearts and thoughts in very significant, and deeply personal, ways. As the years have passed we have played competitive sports against each other on hot dusty softball fields in the heat of summer. Gone on hunting trips with each other in Michigan's lost northern woods. Camped together on a few occasions in the early days of our children's youths. Worked together. Prayed together. Witnessed each other's joy and delight at the birth and raising of beloved newborns through to the teen years and onwards to joyous marriages many years later. Listened and shared all the nuances of insight that come with raising children, living with spouses, and the trials and joys of family life. During the last several years we have shared the care given to aging parents that have eventual passed away within the safe keeping of their children's sorrow and love. Or, in my case, the suicidal passing of a brother suffering from untreated bipolar disorder, and my dad's subsequent heart attacks that came shortly thereafter as a result of the tragic loss of his son, now coupled with his additional personal burden of Parkinson's that slowly is consuming his body.

Through these difficult times my friends have kept me company in the car as I have driven to my next client appointment all the while listening to their ministry on the radio. Or have blessed my wife and I in church as they have preached from the pulpit warm messages of God's love and grace - and then gladly witnessed both husband and wife warmly greeting each of their parishioners afterwards. And because of another friend's involvement in the guidance of a global Christian agency, Compassion International, my own daughter supports an impoverished child from Africa named Joseph who writes to us every several months of his life's experiences, trials and joys.

It has been a unique group and one that has become latent with close friendships and godly support as I reflect on the many blessings that God has brought to us through those early days of unformed college friendships. And with that I wish to give thanks and encouragement to each-and-every reader here that pursues one another in the strength and lifelong joys that can come with obtaining a steady fellowship group given to caring for one another while serving the Lord together from whatever corner of the earth that we live and worship. Praise God for godly friendships "strong-and-wise" brought into our meager lives to behold and share God's glories!

R.E. Slater
January 15, 2012

Cornerstone University Campus - http://www.cornerstone.edu/edu_home.aspx?id=531
Distance Learning Online Education - http://online.cornerstone.edu/


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Friendship Verses

"When we consider the blessings of God—the gifts that add beauty and joy to our lives, that enable us to keep going through stretches of boredom and even sufferingfriendship is very near the top."
—Donald W. McCullough, Mastering Personal Growth

Friendship Bible Verses
This collection of friendship Bible verses celebrates the blessings of God in the gift of true friendship.

True and Lasting Friendship Can Occur Suddenly
1 Samuel 18:1–3
After David had finished talking with Saul, he met Jonathan, the king’s son. There was an immediate bond between them, for Jonathan loved David. From that day on Saul kept David with him and wouldn't let him return home. And Jonathan made a solemn pact with David, because he loved him as he loved himself. (NLT)

Proverbs 12:26
(NLT)

Gossip Separates Best Friends

Proverbs 16:28
A troublemaker plants seeds of strife; gossip separates the best of friends. (NLT)

Loyal Friends Love Through Difficult Times

Proverbs 17:17
A friend is always loyal, and a brother is born to help in time of need.NLT)

Faithful Friends are a Rare Treasure

Proverbs 18:24
There are “friends” who destroy each other, but a real friend sticks closer than a brother.(NLT)

Reliable Friends are Hard to Find

Proverbs 20:6
Many will say they are loyal friends, but who can find one who is truly reliable?(NLT)

Purity and Integrity Gain the Friendship of Kings

Proverbs 22:11
Whoever loves a pure heart and gracious speech will have the king as a friend.(NLT)

The Wrong Friends Can Have a Negative Influence

Proverbs 22:24–25
Don’t befriend angry people or associate with hot-tempered people, or you will learn to be like them and endanger your soul.(NLT)

Sincere Friends Speak the Truth in Love, Even When it Hurts

Proverbs 27:5-6
An open rebuke is better than hidden love! Wounds from a sincere friend are better than many kisses from an enemy. (NLT)

Counsel from a Friend is Pleasing

Proverbs 27:9
The heartfelt counsel of a friend is as sweet as perfume and incense. (NLT)

Friends Shape and Sharpen One Another

Proverbs 27:17
As iron sharpens iron, so a friend sharpens a friend. (NLT)

True Friends Strengthen and Help Each Other

Ecclesiastes 4:9–12
Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed. If one person falls, the other can reach out and help. But someone who falls alone is in real trouble. Likewise, two people lying close together can keep each other warm. But how can one be warm alone? A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer. Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken. (NLT)

Friendship is Marked by Sacrifice

John 15:13–15
There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command. I no longer call you slaves, because a master doesn't confide in his slaves. Now you are my friends, since I have told you everything the Father told me. (NLT)

The Lord is a Friend to the Godly

Proverbs 3:32
Such wicked people are detestable to the LORD, but he offers his friendship to the godly. (NLT)

Believers Enjoy Friendship with God

Romans 5:10
For since our friendship with God was restored by the death of his Son while we were still his enemies, we will certainly be saved through the life of his Son. (NLT)

Friendship with the World Makes You an Enemy of God

James 4:4
You adulterers! Don’t you realize that friendship with the world makes you an enemy of God? I say it again: If you want to be a friend of the world, you make yourself an enemy of God. (NLT)

Examples of Good Friends in the Bible

David and Jonathan (1 Samuel 18:1-3, 20:17, 42; 2 Samuel 1:26)
David and Abiathar (1 Samuel 22:23)
David and Nahash (2 Samuel 10:2)
David and Hushai (2 Samuel 15:32–37)
Elijah and Elisha (2 Kings 2:2)
Job's Friends (Job 2:11)
Ruth and Naomi (Ruth 1:16-17)
Paul’s Ministry Friends (Romans 16:3-5; 2 Corinthians 2:12-13; Philippians 2:25; Colossians 4:7, 14; 2 Timothy 1:2-4; 1 Philemon)

Bible Verses by Topic (Index)

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