For it is by grace you have been saved...

Monday, June 25, 2007

The Value of a Friend

Back in the mid 80’s I was pretty sick of one song in particular. Working at our college radio station, the most requested song was probably Michael W. Smith’s “Friends.” People were singing it at graduations, people would call in and request it to be dedicated to a friend, on and on. Don’t get me wrong; I hold no ill will toward Mr. Smith; I just got sick of the song.

In fact, my radio partner, David King, and I came up with the bright idea of speeding up the turntable (younger readers can ask their parents) and we told people it was the Chipmunk version of the song, just to add some variety. Ironically, some started calling in and even requesting that! (I’m sure we broke several copyright laws or something on that one, and I’m hoping the statute of limitations has run out on that particular crime; if not, it was David’s idea!)

Anyway, those college days and the message of that song were both called to mind recently. My good friend Rodney Albert wrote on his blog of the continuing decent our alma mater has taken into the depths of liberalism, relativism, and about a dozen other –isms (you can read about it here if you want more details). And, bless his heart, he mentions our friendship as one of the few positive results of his time there.

I have to admit I nearly got a bit teary-eyed when I read that. No sarcasm here: I went to college as a new Christian, and God used Rodney’s sage advice (read browbeating arguments) to keep me from falling down into the pit of the neo-orthodox/liberal theology that was being presented into the classroom. He is more than just a friend; he is a mentor, role-model, and brother.

But the whole thing has made me think. How much appreciation do I truly show for the friends God has placed in my life? Sadly, I’ve lost touch with many people whom God used to bring me to His Son. Tina Cantrell, the girl I went to church for in the first place. David Brown, the friend who sat me down at camp and presented God’s truth to me. I haven’t heard from either in years. Not a very good friend, am I?

I’ve even fallen out of touch with Scott Johnson, who was best man at my wedding . . . talk about pathetic (me, that is). Bob Lay roomed with me for three years in college (talk about cruel and unusual punishment!) and likewise stood up for me at my wedding. We occasionally email and send Christmas cards, but is that being a real friend?

I’ve done better with some like Rodney; we try to keep up with each other (if nothing else we read each other’s blogs!). Cheryl and I try to keep tabs on Joey and Jeri Rodgers who adopted a newlywed couple far from home at Southwestern Seminary. But even there, we’ve slipped.

I know those reading this don’t know these people (assuming anyone is even reading this). But I needed to mention the names again, anyway. And I need to take the time to get back in touch; to let them know that God used them for His glory in my life; to tell them I appreciate them, even if I haven’t shown it.

Those familiar proverbs come to mind (all ESV):

Proverbs 17:17 - A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.

Proverbs 18:24 - A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.

Proverbs 27:9 - Oil and perfume make the heart glad, and the sweetness of a friend comes from his earnest counsel.
We ought to appreciate our friends more. We ought to spend time on our knees thanking God for them; they put up with us after all. And we ought to take time to let them know it. I’m going to try to do a better job of that.

And I might just go home and cue up an old Michael W. Smith record!

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Some Flag Day Thoughts

A we proudly fly our flags on this Flag Day, remember these words from Francis Scott Key, author of our national anthem…

The patriot who feels himself in the service of God, who acknowledges Him in all his ways, has the promise of Almighty direction, and will find His Word in his greatest darkness, ‘a lantern to his feet and a lamp unto his paths.’ He will therefore seek to establish for his country in the eyes of the world, such a character as shall make her not unworthy of the name of a Christian nation…
As well as stanza four of our National Anthem itself:
O! thus be it ever when free men shall stand
Between their loved home and the war’s desolation;
Blest with vict’ry and peace, may the Heav’n-rescued land
Praise the Pow’r that hath made and preserved us a nation!
Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just;
And this be our motto, “In God is our trust!”
And the star spangled banner in triumph shall wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave!