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Friends are Friends Forever

Many years ago a Michael W. Smith song revolutionized the idea of “friends” when he trumped it with the presence of the Lord.  If you add God to something it doesn’t immediately make it “holy”, but when God’s Word is the stimulus for it, it does.  Friendship is an amazing thing.  I have counted many people friends through the years and have seen some of those friendships wain because of distance, different interests, or whatever.  In remembering some of my friends from past years, I remember people who have contributed to the ministry of the Lord in my life.  They are friends that have shown generosity as friends in the Lord.  Those friendships were all different, but all beneficial to the work of the Lord.  A person who doesn’t understand that giving that comes from Godly friendships would say, “well, you sure benefited from their gifts!”  That’s true, but not in a selfish way, but as one who is receiving a generous gift as from God.  2 Corinthians 9:7 says, “each one must do just as he has purposed in his heart, not grudgingly, or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.”  In other words, if I’ve got to talk you into to it, you probably shouldn’t do it. My friendships have helped me be the benefactor and receiver of gifts that could only come from true friends.  I have just a few examples of those who have felt the compulsion to give to the ministry of God through my life listed below.  They gave out of what they had…..Running to give, to be a contributor to the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Generous Ministry Friendships

They are people who when they find out you have a need,  take it upon themselves to help.  I remember Ward Franz, who was helping with our youth ministry  (he is now a congressman in the state of Missouri) who knew I needed a certain keyboard to further the opportunity for ministry in the church I was serving.  I had been leading youth in worship and leading youth to lead in worship and the keyboard I had was very inadequate.  Ward came up to me expecting no pats on the back and said, “buy that keyboard.”  It surprised me, but it didn’t shock me.   Ward was the type of guy who loved to give and was capable of it.  I bought that keyboard and used it until it wore out many years later.  Most people don’t know this, but almost every time anyone accepted Christ when I led in worship, I would touch that keyboard and thank God for Ward’s generosity.  A gift given by a “friend.”

Generous Lasting Friendships

It has been a calling on my life for years to minister in a bigger way to students and adults through music and the word.  I have tried many times to fund and start this ministry but could never get it off the ground.  While I was in North Carolina Andra met a lady on the beach one day and that friendship started another dear friendship between two couples that I know still exists today.  Kent and Mary Ann Phillips came into our lives and showed a quick conviction for ministry that astounded me.  They immediately became very interested in helping me continue to move toward the  ministry God had laid on my heart, and they barely knew us.  They openly pursued contributing to the formation of that ministry and took us a step further toward it by helping us purchase some equipment for it.  The keyboard I lead worship with today and the guitar my daughter leads worship with in her church are because of their generosity.  I remember them almost every day as I continue to serve our Lord.  Wow!  Quick friends, good friends.  Friends who give out of what they have because they believe, really believe that God’s hand is on my life and that I am impacting souls for the kingdom.  I will never forget their generosity and their belief showed through their help.  Great Friends..

Generous Quick Friendships

I have been able to experience this quick friendship giving myself.  We had a band in at a church where I was serving and I had a certain keyboard that was fairly dear to my heart in my office.  The keyboard player for that band saw it and commented on it, saying “he had been wanting that same keyboard for awhile.”  They stayed at our home and we hit it off and I could tell he was really trying to serve the Lord with his talents.  When it came time for them to leave he commented about that keyboard again.  I felt like God was saying, “give it to him because he needs it.”  As they were backing out of our drive I went back in and got the keyboard and took it to him. He was shocked and said, “I can’t afford that keyboard.”  I said, “you don’t have to, it’s your’s.”  A quick friendship and a ministry encouragement for the giver and the receiver.  It felt better to give than to receive….really.  Anyone that knows me, knows I like to get things that I need. It’s even better to put those things in someone else’s hands that have a need.  Some of these I have mentioned have made a much bigger impact than they can ever understand, but I consider them “friends in the Lord.”  Not because they gave, but because I got to be a part of their obedience to the Lord.

God calls all of us to give to others out of the manifold grace of God  1 Peter 4:10 says, “as each one has received a special gift, employ it in serving one another as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.” You probably remember that scripture.  It follows the verse that says, “he who sows sparingly, will reap sparingly.”  Now that’s a lesson on giving in one verse.

Generous Life Friendships

The last one I want to mention is my close friend Michael O’Brien.  I had Michael at a youth event one summer and we became close friends for life.  I have since had him come and share his talent in every church I have served in.  Sometimes more than once at a church.  Why?  I know his heart for serving.  Also, it contributes to the ministry of the Lord through His life. That connection made us even closer friends.  He doesn’t even live around me, but we keep in contact, and to this day have a very current friendship that both of us rely on.  Michael is a wonderful Christian Man, a great singer, and a very talented writer, but his greatest attribute is his love of the Lord and the desire to be a true friend.  That part comes from God.  When you have a friend like Michael, you want to check on them, and pray for them, and do anything you can to help them.  That is the kind of friend Michael is to me.  He is my closest friend at this point in my life and we share deep hurts and joys that I know I would not share easily with others.  He is someone I can depend on.  He will not judge.  He will not fade away. He will not hold back advice I need to hear. (even when it’s tough) He is a true friend.  I try to be the same to him.  This is a LIfe Friendship.

Family Friendships

Of course, family is another tier up from friends for me.  Family, my kids and their spouses hold an interest for me that goes way beyond friendship.  I confide in my children and they have learned that dad is pretty transparent when it comes to them.  I want them to be the same with me.  Even though we are family, we are brothers and sisters in Christ.  How much more so should be our desire to help each other.  I just don’t get the family idea that “when they’re gone, they’re gone.”  Our American impression of what family is cannot supersede the Biblical standard for family.  I mean, they are family…  Paul didn’t have the luxury of family as we know it today. He didn’t get the Father’s Day thing. Why?  They didn’t have Father’s Day!!  He didn’t get to lead worship with his children like I am able to do from time to time. He didn’t get to call on a cell phone or facetime with family or friends.  Not the same technology.  When he spent time with his friends, it was special.  May it be our desire to guard our friendships and family relationships and keep them special as well. I need to always realize how fortunate I am to have family in such close contact as I minister.  A result of this type of family is the fact  that all of my children and their spouses have hearts to serve the Lord.  That is another prayer answered for me as a parent.

Friends are friends forever.  Michael W. Smith penned those words to his wife, but the message applies to all friendships.  I hope I never take these relationships for granted and if I can ever be able to give in their times of need, I will do it.  Why?  That’s just what friends do!

In 2 Timothy 4:9-18 Paul is reflecting on past relationships and he is remembering those who weren’t very good friends and those who were good friends.  Even though they had some disagreements in the past, he still asked Timothy to pick up Mark.  Paul said, “he is useful to me for service.”  Everything Paul did came back to the ministry.  Everything he received, he used it for the ministry.  Why?  Because he was CALLED.  His friends knew this and contributed gladly because they knew his heart.  HE contributed greatly to them by equipping them for “every good work.”  He cheerfully gave of himself as a living example of the Christ he served.  May that be our heart’s cry my friend!!  Friends for eternity…

The Pilgrimage continues….

David Warren

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