friendship

BLESS: Serve

Image Jesus reminds us that real, everyday life can be summarized as love for God and for neighbor. God in his wisdom and providence has put the particular people around us that he intends for us to care for. And while there is something familiar about this notion of loving people, we've learned as a church that all of us struggle to go about this task with clarity and confidence.

So with the notion that principles are strengthened by sound practice, we are learning to live out the principle of loving our neighbor by implementing a practice we call BLESS:

As you pray for, listen to and eat with the people that God has put around you, opportunities to serve will present themselves. I find at least two categories of opportunities - 1) those where your particular set of skills come in handy and 2) those where you're capable of meeting a real need, even if it's not something that you're great at or particularly enjoy. So if you bake, maybe once a month you make an extra batch of cookies and take it to your neighbor or the office. Or when your friend's basement is flooded, you show up and run a dry-vac for an hour.

Speaking of, I absolutely blew a great opportunity to help a friend over the weekend with his flooded basement. We spent some time together Saturday afternoon and I met him at his house. We had over 3 inches of rain in 36 hours in Athens and when I got there, his basement was flooded. He told me then that he'd end up coming home and cleaning up and after we came back he mentioned it again. Now I don't think he was looking for my help and the thought didn't cross my mind to stick around and help...until the next morning.

Here's one of the takeaways I had from that: the more often you live out this rhythm, the more naturally you'll act on it. So if you're new to BLESS, you'll probably have a few forehead-slapping moments when you miss some chances to love people well. Don't give up, ask God to help you see the world through his eyes and to provide what you need to serve people well.

TomorrowSharing God's Story

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BLESS - Listen and Eat

Image Jesus reminds us that real, everyday life can be summarized as love for God and for neighbor. God in his wisdom and providence has put the particular people around us that he intends for us to care for. And while there is something familiar about this notion of loving people, we've learned as a church that all of us struggle to go about this task with clarity and confidence.

So with the notion that principles are strengthened by sound practice, we are learning to live out the principle of loving our neighbor by implementing a practice we call BLESS:

I have a list of people around me that I pray for and that's as far as it gets, most often because I don't have a lot of opportunity for relational contact (i.e., my barista at Starbucks on Wednesday, the checkout guy at Publix who seems to really enjoy his work).

But I am finding that I usually have the opportunity to take things one step further by asking questions and Listening to what people have to say. I may not know everything about Joe the Barber but I know something. I know that one of my neighbors is struggling with an aging mother. Slowing down and asking questions that go beyond a perfunctory 'how are you' go a long way in reminding people that they matter. Don't underestimate the small ways that God's kingdom breaks through.

The next step you might take is to Eat - grabbing a meal or a drink with someone that you're getting to know. We're getting a bit down the funnel now: I pray for a lot of people and take time to ask questions and listen when I can; it's when there's a sense of connection that I'm willing to see if someone wants to take the time to talk more over a meal, coffee, drinks after work. I find this is usually a place to continue conversations we've already started in an environment that's comfortable and affords more time. Sometimes the conversation turns to things that are explicitly spiritual; most of the time we're still talking about common interests and/or everyday life. If God's kingdom infiltrates every sphere of life, your conversation about sports or politics or class projects or your kids' schedules counts. Congratulations on caring enough about your friend to carve out time to love them like Jesus!

Again, I find this to be a pattern of life for our relationships with both Christians and non-Christians. It brings intentionality to all of our relationships and as someone who struggles with stereotypical evangelism, this makes it possible to believe that God can use me to help people get close to Jesus.

Next Week - Serving and Sharing

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Jesus-Centered Friendship

We don’t do this very often, but today we want to forward you on to a blog post by Justin Holcomb, a pastor from Mars Hill Church in Seattle (Mark Driscoll lead pastor). This was posted on The Resurgence blog, an organization committed to equpping leaders that are affiliated with the Acts 29 Network our church is a part of.

Holcomb’s post is about friendship. Since friendship is a part of our every day lives, this is an important subject that we don’t always take a lot of time to consider. We think of being a good friend as coming second-nature. Holcomb shares musings from Augustine and reminds us that Jesus Himself is our ultimate model of being a friend. Click the image to follow the link to his post!

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