One Sentence, A Lot of Truth

Here is one sentence worth thinking about, pausing, and then creating some space for some friends:

Rushed relationships are rarely real relationships. Sarah Bessey

Rather than me talking about that, why don’t you call someone or plan to get together with someone who matters to you. Give yourself some time to actually be friends.

Strong Start: Friendships, Family, and the Direction of Your Life

friendship-1483251-640x455On Sunday we opened up the book of Proverbs to learn about friendships. Friendships are these things that are all around us, that I think we end up taking for granted so often. But this is something that not only do we need to change, that Solomon would argue we must change to have a full life.

So we jumped in looking at various different sayings of Solomon pulling out three key points:

  • Friendship can matter more than family
  • Friendship will determine the quality and direction of your life
  • Friendship based on deep trust is all that matters

So first we looked at how friendship can matter more than family. This is something pretty shocking to say; not only in our day but in Solomon’s day and age. Because in his day and age you had no health insurance, crop insurance, or retirement. Your insurance or safety net was your family. Family was obligated to help in a time of crisis.

And this is actually why Solomon says that friendship can matter even more than family. He writes, “there are “friends” who destroy each other, but a real friend sticks closer than a brother”. (Proverbs 18:24). Friends can stick closer than family.

And Solomon’s point is that any relationship built on chosen love, rather than obligation will be stronger and better. And this is just true. He’s not saying family doesn’t matter, but that friendship can run deeper than just family relations. Any relationship (family based or not) built on love, and choice will always beat any relationship based on obligation. And this is why we need to invest in our friendships and why they matter because they are formed by love and not by obligation.

Secondly, we learned that friendships determine the quality and direction of our lives. Solomon writes this, “Walk with the wise and become wise, for a companion of fools suffers harm” and this is true. That the people we are close to rub off on us for good or for bad. This is another reason that we need to choose our friends carefully, and invest in them wisely. We choose our friends, but once our friends have been chosen they will choose our destiny. This is why we need to continue to see and raise the importance of the value of our friendships.

And also, but not least, Solomon reminded us that if our friendships are not based on deep trust that they aren’t really friendships. That if someone lies to us and laughs it off, they are worse than a destructive killer (Proverbs 26:18-19). That a true friend will not let us walk into difficulty but will warn us (Proverbs 27:5-6). That true friends provide heartfelt care and counsel, not just what we want to hear.

So on Sunday from these three general themes: friendships matter more than family, friendship determines the quality and direction of our lives and true friends are built on trust; we came to our main theme. Our  main idea was simple but needed: We need to choose and invest in good friendships.

We need to choose and invest in good friendships.

If we want to have a strong start we will not regret investing in good friendships, and key relationships. We will never regret strengthening our relationships, and distancing away from difficult ones.

So we gave a challenge to choose and invest in good relationships. To seek out good ones and to cultivate them. No relationship just “starts” and becomes amazing without work and effort. Friendships require cultivation to be forged. So we challenged one another to actually put the effort in. To put the time into the good relationships built on trust, and limit the ones that cause harm. To seek out good friends and invest in them with our lives.

One thing is sure if we want to have a great 2016, a strong start, it won’t happen with poor, nonexistent, or shallow relationships. A great year starts with great friendships, so start investing in them today.

The Chinese have a proverb, “The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now.”

The best time to invest in friendships was 20 years ago. The second best time is now. 

Sermon Notes:

Big IdeaWe need to choose and invest in good friendships

Teaching Points:

  • Three challenges: Serve weekly, connect with God daily, journey with 2 others
  • “Is it wise” is always a better question than “is it wrong”
  • Friendships are more important than family
  • Relationships built on love beat relationships built on obligation every time
  • Friendships determine the quality and direction of our lives
  • We choose our friends, but once our friends have been chosen they will choose our destiny
  • True friends are honest and trustworthy friends
  • We need to choose good friends
  • We need to invest in good friends
  • Friendships are not “found” but forged and cultivated
  • Friendship is born at that moment when one man says to another: “What! You too? I thought that no one but myself. C.S. Lewis
  • Friendship is unnecessary, like philosophy, like art…. It has no survival value; rather it is one of those things which give value to survival. C.S. Lewis
  • The best time to invest in friendships was 20 years ago. The second best time is now. Chinese Proverb

Adult Discussion Questions:

What stuck out to you from the sermon? What was challenging to you? What was new? Had you thought about friendship being more important than family before? What do you think of that? How have you seen it be true that friendships determine the quality and direction of our lives? Who are your closest friends? Are they trustworthy and honest? Who should you be investing in? And how can you be better investing in them?

Discussion Questions / Responses for Young Families

Talk to your kids about the importance of friendship and how it determines our quality of life. Ask them who their best friends are? And ask them are they wise friends? Do they make good choices? Help them to think through making the best friends.

Challenge for the Week: Choose to invest in friendships this year.

Families aren’t born, but built.

10378542_10154825254920643_1753291384688482808_nIn the past two weeks, in my family we’ve had two deaths, and two funerals in a week. I lost my grandma, and my wife lost her grandfather.

I use that language in a specific way of “lost” in a specific sense. We, of course, haven’t actually “lost” them, as if we don’t know where they are. Both of them are with Jesus without a shadow of doubt. But their being with Jesus is a “loss” for us because we love and miss them.

And as I think about them both I’ve come to realize something important that they both lived out. Both my grandma, and Krista’s grandfather lived in a way that was unique. They both realized that family isn’t something you are born into, family is something you build.

Think about that for a moment, because it’s true, but it’s something we forget.

Families aren’t born, but built.

And both my grandma and Krista’s grandfather got this. They invested in their families, they welcomed new people into the family, and toiled at building a family that lasts and matters. And as I look upon their legacy, I’m reminded that they have a legacy because they built into their families. They didn’t just talk about love, or take family for granted, they invested in it, fostered in it, and created it. And I think this matters.

So I’ve been thinking a lot about my own life in relation to this. Am I building my family, or taking it for granted? Am I investing in my relationships, or coasting? Because building a family takes effort, it takes time, and it will last beyond a life-time if you do it well.

There are many things that push and pull for our attention: deadlines, obligations, and expectations. But what I’ve been reminded of these past few weeks is that what really matters is building family and friendships. Deadlines, work, and obligations will come and go, but family and friendships can last for lifetimes if we build them well.

So my challenge to all of you is simple: build family and friendships well. Because as grandpa always said, “listen to the wisdom of those older”. And some of the wisdom I’ve learned from both my grandma, and Krista’s grandpa is that family is built, not something you are just born into.

Where I Saw Jesus This Week…

This week I was sitting in my office writing a sermon.I heard a faint knock on my door and in walked a youth from our church. She had made this for me.

She gave it to me as a gift to say thank you for being her pastor. We chatted briefly and she left. As I was reflecting on this small and simple gift ~ it struck me how profound it was. Here was someone thanking me for being their pastor. But all  I could think of is how thankful I am that I get to be her pastor.

So this week I found Jesus in a small and simple act. But those are the acts that are often the most meaningful. Mother Theresa said famously “Do small things with great love”. And this is what this youth did. A small act, but an incredibly meaningful and encouraging act.

So this week don’t focus on doing something huge for someone. Do something small, meaningful, but make it full of great love and demonstrate Jesus to others.

This picture is now hanging in my office. Luckily I have a huge empty space on my wall where I could put it up. And this picture makes that space feel a bit fuller. And the amazing thing is that it did the same for me in my life. It made my life feel a lot fuller…

A Little Joy on a Monday…

So on Sunday we talked about joy. And this video gives me a lot of joy so I thought I’d share it. It helps that I’m in it, but when kids laugh so hard they can’t stand how can you not have a little joy?

The thing that struck me is that so often joy isn’t dependent on what you are doing but who you are with. Here with Hudson what matters is that we’re playing together. The who matters more than the what.

So spend a moment and think about who gives you joy in your life. Is it a friend, family member, or even God himself? Then plan sometime to be with them this week. It probably doesn’t matter so much what you do, but that you do it together.

And if you don’t know what to do…may I suggest hitting a ball with your head?