Source: That’s Amazing!
There is an epidemic of loneliness out there. However, this provides us with a great opportunity to serve people, because one of the most effective ways to take Jesus into the world is to simply be a friend to a person who needs one. “But our too-pagan, too-Christian paradox presents some interesting problems when applied to our friendships.”
#1 – Many Christians Don’t Even Have “Pagan” Friends:
Many of those who are “too Christian” have never felt it important enough to take the time to “nurture friendships with ‘pagans’ because they have spent so much time hanging out with other Christians.”
#2 – Many Christians Become Friends With “Pagans” Only In An Attempt To Convert Them:
Evangelistic zeal can be good, but when it becomes our only goal in developing friendships, too often we view people as targets for our efforts instead of relating to them as fellow human beings created by God. “We are embarrassingly capable of becoming ministry machines, clustering people into categories and then intentionally organizing our time with them to accomplish our purposes.” A calculating and manipulating evangelistically driven Christian usually does not make a very good friend at all.
#3 – Many Christians Have No Influence On Their “Pagan” Friends:
While being too intentionally specific is probably worse than not having any “pagan” friends, what is even worse is the Christian with many “pagan” friends who has no spiritual influence on them at all. Many believers have “friendships with pagan friends who know nothing of our spiritual convictions” because we feel that portion of our lives, our relationship with God, is a personal, private thing. Like a turtle, we retreat into our shell. We have adopted a ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ mentality regarding our faith. But, we must remember, some day “we will give an accounting for our silence with our friends.”
So, if that’s the negative what is the positive in regards to being a true friend and remedying this epidemic of loneliness we see all around us?
Being A True Friend:
An authentic friend lets a relationship develop naturally out of daily conversations, activities and interests. God will either lead you to new friends or He will lead them to you, and you don’t have use or develop any kind of strategy for it to happen. There is no need to try and force it.
So, how are you going to recognize it when it happens? One dictionary defines a friend as ‘a person you know, like, and trust.’ A real friend is one you can depend on.
Real friends are there when you are struggling or in trouble, or when you just need an uplifting world. They are there for you during the good times and they stay by your side during the bad times. A true friend accepts the person even in times when they need to show disapproval of their bad decisions or actions. Staying by someone’s side even when you think they are going down a foolish, misguided path is an important component of true friendship. Friendships that are “conditioned on approval are [far] less durable than friendships ‘for better or for worse.”
Let me close this up with a few final thoughts:
If you really do want to be more effective in bringing Jesus into your world, then one of the best places to start is to just be the kind of friend that Jesus was and is. Ask your self this, ‘is, and was, Jesus a friend to sinners?’ Absolutely. He walked with them, talked with them, partied with them, and taught them. Jesus is the lover of souls. There is a huge difference between someone who is only interested in “winning souls,” and someone who truly loves your soul. Like Jesus, we need to be lovers of souls.
by Jeff Hagan, (ThD), Dmin
I should start off by saying that believing there will be a resurrection of Antichrist is derived from a completely wooden, literalistic (not literal) interpretation of Revelation 13. However, there is a major problem with this. Revelation 13 also states that the Beast had “seven heads,” only one of which “appears” or “seems” to have been fatally wounded. Also, the Beast is said to have “ten horns,” look like a “leopard,” have feet like a “bear,” and a “mouth” like a “lion.” Why apply wooden literalism for the portion used to defend resurrection of Antichrist but not to these other descriptions found in Revelation 13?
In addition, believing in a resurrection of Antichrist demeans and dilutes the resurrection and deity of Jesus Christ. Christ’s resurrection was unique in the entirety of human history. Only He had the power to surrender His life and raise it up again, and by doing so demonstrate He is indeed God incarnate. Let us be reminded of the resurrected Christ’s own words in Revelation 1:17-18, “I am the First and the Last. I am the Living One; I was dead, and behold I am alive for ever! And I hold the keys to death and Hades.” To think that Antichrist can do what Christ did is an immense theological error and crosses the line into blasphemy. If Antichrist could rise from the dead Christianity would lose the foundation for believing Christ’s resurrection validated His claims of deity.
One more thing, we see in the Bible that Satan can copy, or mimic, the work of Christ by the use of “all kinds of COUNTERFEIT miracles, signs and wonders” (2 Thess. 2:9, emphasis mine), but he cannot perform actual miracles, signs and wonders such as those Jesus did. To think he can is to attribute far too much power to an already defeated foe.
But sadly, millions of believers have bought into this lie causing much unnecessary confusion, as can be evidenced, in part, by the popularity of the Left Behind fictional book series.
(c) Jeffrey D. Hagan. All rights reserved.
STOP JUDGING AND START ENGAGING
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We Christians MUST stop judging people. We cannot isolate ourselves from the world and expect to reach it with the good news of Jesus at the same time.
No one can keep from coming into contact with people, ideas, and influences in society that have the potential to corrupt us. This does bring about a bit of a dilemna for believers on a day to day basis: How should those who follow Christ respond when put in an environment that embraces sin, dismisses injustice, or invites (or at least tolerates) immoral behavior?
Michael Metzger, as quoted in Gabe Lyon’s The Next Christians (p. 75) has said, “When confronted with the corruption of our world – Christians ought to be provoked to engage, not offended and withdrawn.”
He makes a great point because the tendency is for believers to separate themselves from “sinful people and activities.” In an attempt to dedicate themselves to God, they end up creating a sort of safe-haven which winds up causing them to neglect the very people God has called them to love. There is no transformation, encouragement or missional relationships occuring when this happens.
Jesus continually fellowshipped with the outcasts of society. He put Himself in the middle of their sins and showed them nothing but unconditional love. And who is it that judged Him for doing so? Who is it that criticized Him for doing this? It was the self-righteous religious leaders, the Pharisees.
Sinners loved Jesus. They followed him from town to town. They wanted to be with Him, to be near Him. He spent a lot of time meeting their friends and families, sharing meals with them, accepting tokens of appreciation from them, and conversing with them regularly. Jesus genuinely and authentically loved them.
A man named Zaccheus was a Jewish tax collector who worked for the Romans. As most tax collectors of his time, he would regularly steal money from what he collected and he got quite wealthy doing so. While his wealth increased, others struggled. Zaccheus had become a corrupt traitor to the Jews. To them he was the scum of the earth. But guess how Jesus responded? He wasn’t offended by Zaccheus’ ways, instead, He invited Himself over to Zaccheus’ house for dinner. An act of acceptance and friendship was demonstrated by Jesus to one who many considered to be the “chief of sinners” (Luke 19).
“Or take the woman at the well (Jn. 4). There were several reasons for a Jewish rabbi like Jesus to avoid her:
She was a woman (strike one; Jewish rabbis did not converse with women when alone), she was a
Samaritan (strike two; Jews hated Samaritans), and she was sexually promiscuous (strike three; now
explanation needed). But Jesus engaged her” (Lyons, Gabe. The Next Christians, p. 77).
There are many other examples that could be cited, but the point is that it doesn’t appear Jesus cared how those who were considered the religious elite viewed these people. Jesus continued to engage them time and time again despite the judgment He received.
We cannot be afraid to engage with our culture for fear of getting our hands dirty. Sharing the love of Christ with others is much more effective when it is done by actions as opposed to words. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying we should compromise the truth in any way, shape or form. What I’m saying is we need to share this truth in a way that is going to build people up and not tear them down.
The Obscene Clone
A pastor’s church was getting far too large for him to handle all of the duties required of him so he made a clone of himself. All was going very well, he could be in two hospitals at the same time praying for sick people, attend two different meetings at the same time, this was his answer for his busy life.
Suddenly, something went wrong with the genetics of the clone. The genes went crazy and the cloned preacher’s personality changed. He started flirting with all of the women, even making passes at them; cussing at drivers who cut him off in traffic; and making obscene gestures to people. Obviously, this concerned the pastor so he and the clone took off and went to the Space Needle in Seattle, ate lunch in the restaurant there, and enjoyed the view from the lookout deck.
While the clone was looking out at the skyline of the city through a mounted telescope, the pastor pushed him over the side and that was the end of the clone. When the pastor went to leave the lobby of the Space Needle there was a large crowd that had gathered. As the pastor tried to make his way through, the police stopped him and placed him under arrest.
“Under arrest?” the pastor asked, “What’s the charge?”
The officer replied, “For making an obscene clone fall.”
(Original source unknown)
One Sunday morning the pastor noticed little Billy was staring up at the large plaque that hung in the foyer of the church. The young boy of eight had been staring at the plaque for quite a while, so the pastor walked up and stood next to him and gazed up at the plaque with him and quietly said, “Good morning son.”
“Good morning pastor,” Billy replied without taking his eyes off of the plaque. “Sir, what is this?” he asked.
“Well son, these are all the people who have died in the service. It’s in memory of them,” replied the pastor. Soberly, they stood together staring up at the large plaque.
Little Billy’s voice broke the silence when he asked quietly, “Which one sir, the 9:00 am or the 10:30 am?”
(Original source unknown)
Give Me a Break
An atheist was spending a quiet day fishing when all of the sudden his boat was attacked by the Loch Ness monster. In one easy flip, the beast tossed him and his boat high up in the air. Then, the monster opened its mouth to swallow them both whole.
As the atheist flipped head over heels in the air, he cried out, “Oh, my God! Help me!”
Immediately the scene of this vicious attack froze in place, and as the atheist hung in mid-air a loud, booming voice came down from the heavens and said, “I thought you didn’t believe in Me!”
“Come on God, give me a break!” the man begged. “Two minutes ago I didn’t believe in the Loch Ness monster either!”
(Original source unknown)
One Last Wish
There was a bus full of only ugly people, very ugly people, driving along the highway when it crashed into an oncoming semi-truck and everyone inside died. When they go up to meet their Maker, because of the tremendous grief they had experienced, He decided to grant them one wish each before they entered into Heaven.
They’re all lined up and God asked the first one what their wish was. “I want to be gorgeous” she said. So, God snaps His fingers and she was beautiful. The second one in line heard this and said, “ I want to be gorgeous too.” Another snap of God’s fingers and the wish was granted.
This went on for a while with each one asking to be gorgeous, but when God got halfway down the line, the very last guy in line started laughing. When there were only ten people left, this guy was laughing even harder, when there was only five people left he was laughing so hard he was rolling around on the floor.
Finally, God reached this last guy and asked him what his wish was. The guy eventually calms down enough to answer and says, “Make them all ugly again.”
(Original source unknown)
7 TIPS FOR HUSBANDS IN THE BEDROOM
Make sure you shower before a bedroom session with your wife. I promise they will appreciate it. Make sure you clean your “equipment.” Brush your teeth as well, you want to keep that breath fresh for her as much as for yourself. Also, shave your face. However your wife likes your face: smooth, stubble, or full beard, trim your facial hair to her desires.
Romans 12:1, “Therefore, I urge you brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God – this is your spiritual act of worship (NIV).
Did you catch that? Preparing yourself hygienically for your spouse is, in part, a spiritual act of worship to God. Of course worship is made up of much more than that, but it certainly includes that. By keeping yourself physically clean and refreshed, for you and your spouse, you are also performing a “spiritual act of worship” to God. You are taking care of the body God gave you.
Two: Don’t be a selfish lover
Place your focus on your wife. This should be done outside of the bedroom as well, but it is particularly important in the bedroom. Do not take the lazy way out, do not just do the minimal amount possible. And, do not just roll over and fall asleep once you have completed your “task.” Be sure your wife has also completed her “task,” or is at least satisfied with the experience.
1 Corinthians 13:4-7, “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres” (NIV).
The point is, true love is characterized by generosity, which seeks to give and not take for oneself, which makes it the very opposite of selfishness.
Three: Disrobe her gently
This is a great act of intimacy and romance, but remember that women’s clothes are usually not cheap, so take it slow and easy. This also helps build up to, or heighten, the experience.
Colossians 3:19, “Husbands love your wives and be gentle with them” (CEV).
It is obvious this passage is not speaking directly to disrobing one’s wife, but it is instructing husbands to be gentle with their wives in every aspect. Being gentle with the wife in the bedroom would definitely fall into that category.
Four: Don’t neglect foreplay
Foreplay is significant in developing intimacy and is especially important for women. Sexual intimacy takes place long before you enter the bedroom. Compliment her, be affectionate with her, treat her like a lady, perform random acts of kindness throughout the day, and show your affection with physical touch during the day.
Ephesians 5:25, 28, “Husbands love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her… In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives… He who loves his wife loves himself” (NIV).
We can show love for ourselves, as we should, by setting aside our desires and meeting the desires of our wives. In loving our wives sacrificially, we show love for ourselves.
Erwin R. McManus wrote about love and intimacy in his book, Soul Cravings: “We are most alive when we find it, most devastated when we lose it, most empty when we give up on it, most inhuman when we betray it, and most passionate when we pursue it.”
Five: Communicate openly
Be gentle in your communication with your wife, and be respectful of her feelings. Be open and honest with her. Ask her what she likes and what she dislikes. Establish the proper mood by speaking the appropriate words. Compliment her. Do not just compliment her to “gain points,” compliment her because you mean it. Women love compliments and they deserve to be complimented. Make sure in your communication with your wife that you keep in mind James 1:19, “Know this my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow tospeak, slow to anger;” (ESV).
Proverbs 16:24, “Pleasant words are like a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones” (NET).
Six: Put all of your focus on your wife
Give her your full attention. Turn of the TV, turn off the sound on your cell and place it somewhere you cannot see it, turn off the computer, turn off the ringer to the house phone (and do not answer it if you forget to do so), basically…remove any and all possible distractions. Put all of your energy and focus on your wife. Compliment her body, tell her specific things you enjoy about her appearance. Many women struggle with their self-image, it is comforting for her to know you appreciate her appearance. Give her praise and show her she is valued and is the center of your life.
Proverbs 31:10-12, 25-26, 28, “A wife of noble character who can find? She is worth farmorethan rubies. Her husband has full confidence in her and lacks nothing of value [because he has her].Shebrings him good and not harm all the days of her life…She isclothed with strength and dignity;she can laugh at the days to come. She speaks withwisdom and faithful instruction is on hertongue…Her children arise and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her:” (NIV).
Seven: Don’t destroy the ending
Once you have achieved the ending portion of your physical satisfaction (if you know what I mean), do not ruin it for her. Do not just jump right out of bed the moment the “activity” is over. This can often times cause your wife to feel as though she is just a vessel meant for your pleasure. Lay there with her, cuddle with her, let her know you care about her much deeper than just your intimate physical encounters. Respect her feelings.
A couple of reminders from 1 Corinthians 13 (which was listed above under tip number two) is appropriate also to reinforce this seventh point.
1 Corinthians 13:4-5, “Love is patient, love is kind…it is not self-seeking…”.
In closing, here are a few more passages that give guidance to husbands on how to properly treat their wives:
Ephesians 5:25, “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gavehimself up for her” (NIV).
Christ loved the church so much that He sacrificed Himself for her, husbands should be willing to do the same for their wives. Husbands, sacrifice yourselves, your time, your needs and your desires for your wife. Also, Christ’s love for His church had no limits, keep that in mind.
1 Peter 3:7a, “Husbands, in the same way be considerate as you live with your wives, andtreat them with respect…” (NIV).
1 Corinthians 7:3a, 4b, 5a, “The husband should fulfill his marital duty to his wife…thehusband’s body does not belong to him alone but also to his wife. Do not deprive eachother…”.
May God bless the believers marriage in all areas, including in the bedroom.
By Rev. Jeff Hagan, (ThD), MA, MCC
Copyright 2013 Jeffrey D. Hagan. All rights reserved.