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Believing Makes Being Together Even Better

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Love from the center of who you are; don’t fake it. Run for dear life from evil; hold on for dear life to good. Be good friends who love deeply; practice playing second fiddle… Get along with each other; don’t be stuck-up. Make friends.” Romans 12:9-10 (MSG)

As I opened up this first chapter in section 4, I became so giddy thinking about how friendship is one of my favorite subjects on the planet. I’ve had seasons where friendships have been bountiful and beautiful, and I’ve had seasons of friendship drought. These were seasons of longing and loneliness. When you don’t have any close relationships for a season, it makes you appreciate the seasons of bountiful, life-giving relationships in life.

I love how Debbie talks about how she is your friend, even if she’s never met you. This was always my motto in life. Show me any human, and I’ll be their friend if they’ll have me, even some who didn’t want to be my friend at first, I’ll work hard to be their friend.

“God designed us to need and want to have life-giving and faith-strengthening relationships with other girls. He wants us to be embracing of one another, encouraging, supportive, kind, loving, and thinking about the needs of others over ourselves.”

Have you ever met another female and thought, “I think we should be friends!” There’s just something about them that draws you in and you just know you’re destined to be friends. That’s how Jesus sees us. How God dreamt us and said, “She’s mine!” That’s how He wants us to be with every girl we meet.

I love how Debbie lists a few aspects of friendship to help us out. I want to spend a little time here, because friendship is designed by God and so important.

Friends are all different. We should not have a “prequalifing list” of what our friends should be or look like. They are uniquely them and you are uniquely you. Love each other for who you each are.

The quality of friendship is not determined by the length of time you’ve known someone.  Have you ever met someone and instantly clicked and became so close that you couldn’t imagine how they just came into your life? They were placed in your life at just the right time for a season you are entering or exiting.

Friendship is not determined by proximity and closeness. Some of my dearest friends do not live near me. Some are hundreds of miles away. Distance should not disqualify a friendship from flourishing.

Friendships can vary in length of time & Sometimes friends have to go. I’ll lump these two together. Have you ever had someone in your life that’s become a permanent fixture of friendship? This may not always be the best kind of friendship. If your past needs to stay in the forgiven, grace-covered past, then those friendships from the past may need to stay there as well. You can’t drag anyone into the role God is calling you to play. They have their own, and maybe those paths will intertwine, but you also need to be ready to walk if not.

Friends have power. What kind of influence is a friendship having? Are they speaking life into you and your marriage? Are they loving you and supporting you through each new season or are they taking and not giving? Are they tearing you/your spouse down? Evaluate!

Friendships will come in varying levels of closeness and intimacy, and that’s ok. “Surround yourself with those who are on the same mission as you.” You can be a friend to all, but your closest friendships need to be life-giving and faith-strengthening. There were two friendships that I recently had to evaluate. They were very dear to me, but I realized that the friendships were no longer valued by the other parties, and our paths in life were not heading in the same direction. I needed their friendships in different seasons of my life, but those relationships are no longer life-giving in this season of my life.

Friendship is made, it doesn’t magically happen. “I personally believe that cultivating friendships is as simple as surrounding yourself with girls who are striving to love and honor God just like you and then making an effort to be kind and friendly to them.”

I love that Debbie’s leaves the chapter on friendships and moves to making connections.

“Connections are beautiful opportunities just waiting to happen.”

I love how she ties taking time to make connections to the story of Zacchaeus and Jesus. “[He] stopped to take time and connect with this man in his path who was waiting to be seen… His joyful and enthusiastic response seems to reveal something very important. Even though Zacchaeus may have appeared to be hiding, even though he had a terrible reputation and could have felt unworthy or ashamed to be seen, it is obvious that he desperately wanted to meet Jesus. And he was excited that Jesus had stopped to connect with him.”

This made me think about the ministry of Donna Engvall. She goes down to the track and strip clubs of New Orleans to bring Jesus’ love to women in prostitution and to dancers, loving on each one of them. She stops and makes purposeful connections to these women so that they know, even if for a moment, that they are seen, loved, and remembered. So many of us turn our noses up to these women and call them names or think lowly of them, just as the people did to Zacchaeus, but Jesus never did. He went to his house to fellowship with him, and because of His actions, Zacchaeus and his whole family came to know Jesus and we’re saved. How beautiful?! If Jesus had not t taken the time to love on the one whom everyone else deemed evil and unworthy, then they all would have remained lost. Don’t you just love Jesus and His heart for all? We should really take notes on how to love like Him.

I’m going to move right into chapter 15 from here. I hope you’re still reading along, I’m almost finished!

“What matters most is not where you have been but where you are going.”

This chapter is all about the church, not just the physical building that we can attend services in, but the Church as the body of Christ. She gives many examples of the people who have begun to attend their home church and their stories of how they came to be there.

I know that for many people, the church represents a lot of hurt, so I’ll briefly touch on that. I’ve been in church my whole life, and I can understand the saying that “there’s no hurt like church hurt.” It’s so easy to give everything you have only to become burnt out and discouraged. It’s so easy to put those in leadership positions on pedestals only to have that pedestal come crumbling down as you realize they are humans and make mistakes. It’s easy to see people’s social media pages and be taken aback by them, and then see them walk into church and be loved on and accepted while you feel rejected. My mom always said that if your excuse not to attend church is because of the people there, then you were not attending for the right reasons in the first place. We are all human. We have to look past human nature and pull all our Jesus out to not be a place of judgment but a body of love.

Church is a beautiful thing. It’s a place where believers can gather together to learn about God, spend time fellowshipping with fellow Jesus lovers, and a place where we can feel united in the Spirit as one.

“It should be the happiest place on earth, overflowing with joy, resounding with the sounds of laughter and singing, and full of happy people doing life together and making Jesus famous through their connected, unified lives. A place that says to everyone who comes inside, ‘Welcome home- you belong here!’

If you’re reading that, and that does not sound like your church, then I encourage you to find a church that does fit that description. If you need a suggestion, reach out and we can help you get plugged in to one!

Be a bringer. Be a person who reaches out to others and invites them to church. Be the Jesus to someone as we are the Body of Christ walking on two legs. Love on each other as the Church.

-Noel

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