Are They A Great Friend? (Single & Following Jesus Part XI)

I believe in the power of friendship. Jesus is the friend who sticks closer than a brother. He modeled and models genuine friendship.

Our culture places romance before friendship. I believe this is a crucial mistake. Hormones falter, chemistry can fade, attraction can waiver, yet friendship is a building block that can grow over time.

A friend seeks to give and love, not take and consume. A true friend is loyal. A true friend wants the best for you. A godly friend wants God’s best for you, this means they do not want to lead you into sin or moral compromise.

What is your relationship foundation?

Every engineer (that’s my trade) is taught the foundation is important. The focus is to be on what will hold together your structure. If the foundation is cracked or unstable, your building will not survive the test of time nor weather the storms. Your structure will crumble when the storms come or come down over time due to the impact of gravity.

The foundation matters.

Just as former President Clinton stated, “It’s the economy stupid!” I say to every unmarried person, “Make friendship your firm foundation.

Over the years I have seen people marry because they both loved Jesus and they were smitten (caught up in emotions/hormones). Yet love for Jesus and fading hormones could not save their Titanic marriage. They were not great friends, nor did they cultivate trust, service, nor seek to investigate compatibility. They followed their attraction instead of building a foundation of friendship.

Does this mean checking all romance at the door until you are great friends? Some say yes, some say no. I simply ask, “Is this person you are pursuing or pursuing you a great friend to you? Would you want them as just a friend?

I believe it’s vital to move past hormones to think of building a life with someone. Does this person genuinely care about you as a person, not just what they gain by connection with you? Do they possess characteristics you would want in life partner? Can you trust them? Is there anything that looks like Jesus coming from them to you?

I knew a man who attended church regularly tell me he only told women what he thought they wanted to hear to take advantage of them. He used women. He pretended to be someone he wasn’t. He went to church on Sunday and praised and spent his weekend nights taking advantage of vulnerable women who took his statement of , “I am a Christian,” to mean giving themselves away would lead to marriage.

He did not marry any of those women. He took their innocence, feasted on their being gullible, and continued his life as a predator. I found out what he was doing, confronted him and well, he did not change until years later. Grace, by the way, is not a license to sin of hurt people. Sin leads to death.

His actions were of the devil though he professed Jesus. Look at the fruit of someone’s life. If they claim Jesus yet try to get you to sin, they are not following Jesus, nor are they your friend. This man was grossly selfish and not being a friend to God nor anyone else.

Look deeper than skin deep

Marriage is more than physical intimacy. It is building a life with someone. Who better than a great friend who loves God, genuinely loves you, wants the best for you, you desire the best for them, they are trustworthy/full of integrity, and there is attraction? If the butterflies or looks fade, you still have a strong foundation.

I have had a few associates who’s spouses committed adultery. Their cheating spouse’s excuse was, “My spouse was not doing it for me anymore. My physical needs were not being met,” or “I met someone who excites me and pleases me physically or emotionally.”

If someone chooses you just based on their physical attraction or selfish reasons, you can not be certain if you are injured, your looks fade, you fail to meet their expectations, etc…they will not jump ship for something they deem better, more appealing, that will meet their needs.

Lust is grossly selfish and looking to be pleased. Love is unselfish and sacrificial. A true friend who loves you will not cheat nor seek to abandon you because they found someone better. Someone just in it for the butterflies, will follow the butterflies.

Scripture says this about friendship:

Proverbs 22:11

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

Proverbs 20:6

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

Proverbs 18:24

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

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)

Proverbs 27:17

As iron sharpens iron, so a friend sharpens a friend. (NLT)

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)

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 model of friendship in the Bible is marked by unselfish, radical, pure, compassionate, loyal, faithful, mutually invested love.

EXAMPLES OF GOOD FRIENDS IN THE BIBLE (source thoughtco.com)

David and Jonathan (1 Samuel 18:1-3, 20:17, 42; 2 Samuel 1:26)

King 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)

Someone told me a story of a man that impressed me. He told his future wife, “Do not marry me if I am not going to add value to your life.” What a beautiful token of love and friendship. Love seeks to add value. Love seeks to be a friend. Love is who God is. Is the person you are pursuing or pursuing you a great friend to God and to you? If you take away, “She’s smoking hot,” or “He’s dreamy,” what do you have? If you look at the two of your lives, can you be great friends? If not, caution. How they treat you during dating or courting is an indication of your future. Normally efforts lower after marriage not ramp up; people tend to put their best foot forward before they say “I do.”

If they are a horrible friend during dating or courting, why anticipate a great friend after you marry?

We do not change people. God loves perfectly and we still have crazy acting people walking the earth. We are not greater than God. Also if the goal is to change people, they are our projects-not the objects of our love. Love is a gift we give out of the overflow of our hearts, not a tool to mold people into who we want them to be.

Papa God, help us to be a great friend to you and others. May we add value. May we be wise with who we choose to date, court, let into our hearts. May our lives overflow with your goodness, love, peace, joy, hope, integrity, passion, compassion, and insight. May the choices we make be fueled by wisdom. May we love ourselves enough to say no to bad friends, poor relationship choices. In Jesus powerful name, amen.

Love in Christ,

Erin L. Lamb

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Breaking Cycles of Dysfunction in Relationships (Single and Following Jesus Series Part IX)

Have you been in a cycle of repeated bad relationships or you see your friends in those same dysfunctional relationships? Today is a day of breaking free.

I have asked the same questions about friendships or casual relationships, “Why is this type of person attracted to me? They have no qualities that match up.” That may seem harsh yet let me give some examples for clarity.

My nature is encouraging, supportive, and I pursue kindness. I want to see you win. I will be the most vocal cheerleader for you.

I wondered why those who were negative, critical, mean spirited, unsupportive, and hateful were drawn to me and why they turned their negativity on me.

I am going to tell you why. Are you ready?

1. Opposites Sometimes Do Attract.

You may be giving and attract a taker. You may be kind and attract someone rude. It is not always true that we attract who we are. You may be loving and attract someone critical, rude, mean.

2. Poor Boundaries.

People treat us the way we let them treat us. Some see meekness (strength under control) as weakness. If we do not set a boundary, “You may not treat me that way, you may not talk to me that way, no this is not okay,” then we invite disrespect. It’s a conversation that must start early, not months into the relationship.

I had a lady tell me once (long ago), “I know no matter how bad I treat you, you will always be there for me.” I thought to myself, “What kind of crazy have I signed up for.”

Loving someone does not mean you let them treat you poorly. That is called enabling. It is a form of codependency. Some think God is this way. He is not. His love does not change. He is not cheering when we misbehave. God sets boundaries-“If you do this, this is the result.” God allows natural consequences. He does not remove every consequence this side of heaven.

So with this lady, I pulled back from being her default when she had no boyfriend, the person who answered her calls in crisis. I removed myself from being a doormat under the umbrella of false love.

More examples:

I have an associate who is negative. This person loves to complain and focus on what is wrong. It drains me. I told the person this week, “I would love when we talk for it to be about something positive, goals, good things. What’s going right? There is enough crazy in the world, let’s be the change we wish to see.” I set a boundary. Please keep your constant complaining in your yard. Do I love this person, yes. Do I want to listen to hours of doom, gloom, negativity, gossip, he said/she said…no. I am not a garbage can.

I had a gentleman pursuing me who always wanted to wait until the last minute to set dates. I told him I would appreciate advance notice (not all the time-yet it was considerate to give others notice); texting me Friday afternoon to meet Friday night is a no go for constant meet ups. I set a boundary. He did not listen. So often he’d texted on Friday or Saturday afternoon and I was busy.

My female friend said it was a game to see if I was seeing other people. I am an adult. I only play games with actual children. Some may have thought that was cute. I did not. Maybe if we were a couple and had been dating awhile, yet not for someone I do not know well this was a no go and setting dates signifies value. Yes, be spontaneous…Also take the time to plan something. Gentlemen say, “I would love to see you Friday night, do you have plans?” That conversation happens before Friday. I am not clearing every weekend hoping a guy messages me. I have things to do.

If you make yourself so available to everyone, they will treat you like you have no value. If you do not value your time, value yourself, why should they? I am not saying play hard to get nor play games. I am saying if you do not respect and value your own time, others will not either.

Place God at the center. Would God want me treated this way? If not, why are you allowing it? How much time do I need to invest in this relationship? How much of my heart can they steward well? God knows.

If you have poor or low boundaries, then you will find disorder and dysfunction and poor treatment.

3. Quick to Trust and Dismissing Relational Red Flags.

I consider myself trustworthy. Therefore, I give people the benefit of the doubt. I have learned to pay attention. Watch people. Watch how they treat people. Watch how they talk about others. Do they tell everyone else’s business? They are not trustworthy with your business. Do they only show up when they need something? You are most likely a convenience. Do you make all the effort? You are in a one sided relationship. If they destroy others, do not think they will not do it to you.

Many times red flags are ignored under the, “I am a loving Christian.” Okay, be a loving Christian with wisdom. Wisdom says, “Bad company corrupts good character.” Wisdom says, “How can two be joined unless they agree?” Wisdom says, “Do not make partners with an angry person.” These are all in the Bible right along with love your neighbor. You can love someone without dating them, being close friends, being business or ministry partners, or marrying them.

One of my favorite quotes by Maya Angelou is as follows, “When people show you who they are, believe them.” Unless they want to change or God changes them, that is what you are dealing with in a partner or friend.

4. You Are Pulling All the Relational Weight

I love giving. I love giving with no expectation of return. Yet there is wisdom required in giving as well. Too much time spent together, too much closeness without commitment, too much investment without any investment back is a set up for dysfunction.

Jesus loves perfectly and in exchange for our freedom He gave His life. When we enter into covenant, God asks for our life. Please understand God is not just giving, giving, giving and expecting nothing. He asks for our entire lives. It’s a bigger commitment than an earthly marriage.

This thought that selfless giving is to lead to one sided relationships is not covenant love. Relationships were designed to be give and take. If one person is doing all the work, it’s not love. Both people are to pursue the best interests of the other.

I have seen overgiving lead to abuse; it attracts narcissists and abusive people. Why? They thrive on taking. Selfless givers with no boundaries are easy targets.

A person who loves you will want to bless you too.

I have met so many people angry because they trusted too quickly, fell in love with the idea of someone, ignored red flags, and were burned poorly in a relationship. If you pay attention, people show you who they are. Their mouth speaks what their heart is full of and their actions, if you watch closely, manifest their heart and how they feel about you.

Placing God at the center can save us loads of heartache.

God help me to choose the right associates, friends, confidants, mate. Help me to set godly boundaries and respect those of others. I want to be the best friend I can be to someone and want that in return. Help me to not only be a blessing, but to cease settling for less than what you would offer. Break every cycle of dysfunction in my life and relationships. The common denominator is me. Show me what I am allowing or the poor or low boundaries. Help me to stay centered in you and have the best relationships possible. God help me to be healthy in my soul and attract and maintain relationships with healthy people. Jesus break cycles of dysfunction and it starts with me. Change me so I guard my heart and live out of wisdom and love! In Jesus powerful name.

Put Prayer On It (Single & Following Jesus Part VI)

Can two people walk together without agreeing on the direction?~Amos 3:3.

This was my devotion yesterday on Facebook, yet thought it may bless singles here. Here is the link to my author site if you wish to connect there Erin Lamb Author Page. I post devotions, encouraging words almost daily.

Before you date, court, pursue a business deal, say yes, sign up for that ministry thing, ask God before connecting/partnering with other people. God sees the heart and true motivation.

One of my favorite prayers is, "God show me who this person really is."

It's easy for people to smile, do the Christian nice thing (some are not even nice), or go along when there is something they want. Yet God sees the heart. God sees the core of us, even the things we do not see.

I give people about a year before I truly let my guard down and during that time I pray, "God do I need to be connected to this person? Please reveal their heart." Sometimes what flows out of them during that year is unloving, unkind, grossly selfish, etc…I thank God for the reveal. I am simply watching and assessing how they treat me and other people. Someone who is kind to those they deem important and rude to those they do not feel are important is not a kind person.

I love all, trust few, and am close friends with few. Why? My inner circle is reserved for people who genuinely care about me and treat me and others with respect, honor, dignity.

Our actions are always screaming over our words. Our words reveal our heart. Sometimes people are nice to everyone else and hateful to me. Why? I ask God to reveal their heart. God goes, "Here, this is what you are dealing with, you decide how to proceed."

I love all people, I am not friends or partners with all people. Some, I love and the information in my life is guarded from them. Why? They are not trustworthy. The Bible says, "You will know a tree by it's fruit." It is wisdom to seek God over friendships, dating, partnership, business, and even ministry. How can two be joined together lest they agree?

A Tree and It's Fruit

"Beware of the false prophets, [teachers] who come to you dressed as sheep [appearing gentle and innocent], but inwardly are ravenous wolves. By their fruit you will recognize them [that is, by their contrived doctrine and self-focus]. Do people pick grapes from thorn bushes or figs from thistles? Even so, every healthy tree bears good fruit, but the unhealthy tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Therefore, by their fruit you will recognize them [as false prophets],~Jesus (Matthew 7:15-20).

My core values are:

  1. Love, respect, honor of all people not just those deemed important.
  2. Build people up instead of tear them down.
  3. Represent (re present) Jesus to those around me; reveal the Fathers heart.
  4. Honesty and integrity.
  5. Seeking to do no harm to anyone.
  6. Caring about others.
  7. Releasing who lives inside (Holy Spirit)

Connection with likeminded people brings forth greater fruit. It helps us to grow stronger. Those who build us up in love are so beneficial. Those who repeadily tear us down are not. Sometimes our mental, emotional, and physical health is compromised due to our associations and friendships.

Papa God, guard our hearts and lives from sheep in wolves clothing. Protect us from linking arms with those who do not love well or seek our harm. Help us to walk in wisdom, love, peace, and joy. You know who is best to be a part of our lives and who is not. Protect us from the wrong associations, the wrong friendships, the wrong partnerships. Help us to be connected to those who will love us like Jesus. Bring in the right friends, associates, partners. Give us eyes that examine fruit, not judge, yet see fruit. In Jesus powerful name, amen.

Love in Christ,

Erin Lamb

Who Said You’re Not Beautiful? (Killing Insecurity Part 2)

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For you created my inmost being;

you knit me together in my mother’s womb.

I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;

your works are wonderful,

I know that full well.

My frame was not hidden from you

when I was made in the secret place,

when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.

Your eyes saw my unformed body;

all the days ordained for me were written in your book

before one of them came to be.

How precious to me are your thoughts,God!

How vast is the sum of them!

Were I to count them,

they would outnumber the grains of sand—

when I awake, I am still with you,~Psalm 139:14-18.

I started us out with Psalm 139. The Bible tells us that we were God’s idea. We are fearfully and wonderfully made. He is the beholder. So, if God calls us beautiful, why don’t more people feel empowered, beautiful, and valuable? There are so many reasons why we (humans) feel less than what God says. Let’s investigate some of the reasons why and seek to combat them.

1. The voice of man over the voice of God.

Children are not born believing they are ugly, unwanted, or not valuable. I have spent quite some time with children and if their parents encouraged and loved them, they are quite confident. They believe they are invincible. Some may be shy, but children don’t have a concept of beauty or what is considered ugly until someone tells them. There are some biological forces at work with attraction (we are more apt to be attracted to someone with certain symmetry and shapes), but for the most part we are told from childhood on up what we are to value and what we are not. Children who are labeled as cute are told, “He/she is so cute! So adorable!” Children are very perceptive. They can see what is considered valuable and what is not.

Our society works diligently to tell the world what is beautiful and valuable. Turn on the TV, look through a magazine…Marketing is designed to tell us what we need to do in order to be more beautiful or valuable. Here are some examples, “Get rid of those wrinkles, whiten those teeth, flatten those abs, build those muscles, look like this person, do this and you will be the most loved, liked, and happy person in the world.

The Problem: Allowing people (including ourselves) to define what is valuable or beautiful. Valuing the opinions of man over the opinion of God.

The Solution: Allowing God to define what is valuable or beautiful. God cannot lie. Meditating on His words, living in His acceptance, and professing His words ourselves.

It’s not easy to combat all the voices coming at us. From the time we are young there are voices attacking our identity. There is rejection from peers, negative words spoken over us, we are bombarded with images of people we are told are the most beautiful, successful, and valuable people in the world. We are told humility is self-deprecation (thinking we are nothing) which is simply another form of pride (valuing our opinion over God’s). We can’t go one day without being told what we can do to become more valuable, acceptable, beautiful. The truth is-we are already beautiful and valuable!

Prayer:

Father I ask for lies we believe about ourselves to be revealed, renounced, uprooted, and demolished. Replace every lie with Your truth. Help us to have Your thoughts as our thoughts. Protect our eyes from being fixed on the world’s standards and may they we permanently fixed on You!

2. Comparison.

I read this somewhere and it stuck with me, “Comparison is the thief of joy!” We become discontent when we compare ourselves to others. As humans we are taught to compare. “Which one of these is not like the other?” And when we are finished picking out what’s different, we were taught to discard the one that was different. When I was a kid, being tan with full features wasn’t glorified. I was teased in school for looking different from other kids. Now being tan/brown is celebrated. Women pay to have their eyes lifted to be wider and lips filled with collagen to be fuller. If I compare who I am to other people, I will never celebrate who God made me to be. God did not make us all to look the same or have the same gift combinations for a reason. He values diversity and every person has a special role in His Kingdom. It would be boring if we were all the same. We must accept and value who we are and what we have in order to have contentment and joy. No trying to keep up with the Joneses…or envying or being jealous of them either. We all have tremendous value, something to offer, and the love of an amazing Father!

Closing Thoughts:

You are fearfully and wonderfully made. You were God’s idea. No matter what anyone else says about you, you have tremendous value and worth. You were worth dying for. Jesus paid the highest price to redeem mankind. The value of something is determined by how much someone is willing to pay for it. God paid the highest price. I encourage you (I will do it too) to recited the verses of Psalm 139. Chew on, meditate on God’s word. And when those voices rise up and say, “You are not enough, not beautiful enough, not smart enough, not talented enough, not good enough,”…you and I can say, “I am who God says I am! I am a child of the King. He paid the highest price for me because He values me. I am made in His image. I am beautiful! In Him I am enough.

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Jewel in His Crown (Identity in Christ Part 1)

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The LORD their God will save them on that day as the flock of his people. They will sparkle in His land like jewels in a crown, Zech 9:16

Do you know how valuable you are? Do you? The value or worth of something is determined by how much someone is willing to pay for it. God thought you were worth dying for. Jesus paid the ultimate price for you. So that you could live life abundantly. He paid the highest price for you. And He would do it again to save you, rescue you, free you, and be your friend.

I believe so many of the problems in the world are rooted in a lack of people knowing who they are and how valuable they are. From the time we exit the womb the world has these expectations for us. Some people define their worth by their beauty, some by their relationship or status (married vs. single), some by their wealth, their friends, who they know, their academic achievements, or their ability to perform (talents, skills). Bottom line. None of those things make a person more valuable than another. Looks will fade, money can be lost, friends may leave or move, relationships can be lost, someone will come along and out shine you. There will always be someone who does it better than we can. But there is only one of us.

God’s love isn’t blanket love. You know what blanket love is right, “I love everyone, the end.” God’s love is specific to each individual person. He is the reason we are valuable. You are alive today because God wanted you to be. You are alive today because God’s love is the force that holds the universe together. He is in all things and all things came from Him. You were made in the image of God. Set apart to be holy, royal, a gem in His crown. You are not less than or better than. You are equal to those around you, all made in His image. All deeply loved.

You are a gem, hand-cut, designed as a master original. You are not to be compared to anyone. Your worth isn’t in what you look like, what you have, or what you do. Your worth has already been deemed priceless by the King of the Universe. Live in that love. Live from that place. Know that your true identity is in Christ. It’s not about you and what you do. It’s not about what others think of you or even what you think of yourself. It’s about God and what He longs to do through you. No need for jealousy in the Kingdom. No need for comparisons, striving, or low self-esteem. God doesn’t make junk, and His resources are unlimited. He loves you. God makes priceless gems and puts them on display for all the world to see His splendor! You are deeply loved, today and forever!