Family Probs (part one) | Sinking Ships 13

Have you noticed that we tend to hurt those closest to us most? We also tend to be hurt by those closes to us. Why? There is a certain vulnerability that comes with closeness. One of the more challenging areas to maintain peace is within our family. Sometimes it’s easy to love our family. Other times they make it very difficult.

Israel’s most famous King was a man named David. He had a close relationship with God, led Israel to many incredible victories and was promised by God to always remain on the throne, and ultimately through his family line came Jesus. However, his life didn’t start off so grand. In fact, David seemed almost like an afterthought in his family.

A prophet named Samuel had been tasked by God to anoint a new king for the nation of Israel. He went to the house of Jesse and instructed him to bring out all of his sons so he could anoint one of them to be the next king. Pretty big deal right?! Jesse follows his instructions and Samuel goes down the line, looking at each son. Some strong, handsome and likely would have made a great King, but with each son, Samuel passed by. They were not to be the King. Samuel went through every single son and finally asked, “do you have any other sons?”

Jesse replies, “Well, there’s the runt out tending the sheep.” David wasn’t even invited, there was no possibility in Jesse’s mind that his son David would be the next king. Some Biblical commentators suggest that 1 Samuel 16:11 is best translated as, “The worthless one.” It is clear David’s father did not have a high opinion of David.

Imagine growing up in that kind of environment and how it would affect you. Some of you don’t have to imagine, you can relate. You feel like you don’t matter in your home. Perhaps parents or family members even tell you as much. This is hard to overcome, but not impossible! David overcame the negativity in his family by engaging in his relationship with God. David knew God loved him and he wrote many great songs and prayers found in the book of psalms that reveal his closeness to God.

THINK ABOUT THIS:

  1. Who are the negative voices in your life? What do they say?
  2. Recognize that they are lies. When God looks at you He sees his child, whom He specifically created and gave purpose.  When you hear those negative voices, remember God loves you.

PRAY: Father, show me today how You see me. Help me to feel Your love and rest in the promise of who You are today.

SCRIPTURE READING:

Ephesians 6:1-3 (NLT) Children, obey your parents because you belong to the Lord, for this is the right thing to do. “Honor your father and mother.” This is the first commandment with a promise: If you honor your father and mother, “things will go well for you, and you will have a long life on the earth.”

1 Samuel 16:1-13 (MSG) God addressed Samuel: “So, how long are you going to mope over Saul? You know I’ve rejected him as king over Israel. Fill your flask with anointing oil and get going. I’m sending you to Jesse of Bethlehem. I’ve spotted the very king I want among his sons.”

2-3 “I can’t do that,” said Samuel. “Saul will hear about it and kill me.”

God said, “Take a heifer with you and announce, ‘I’ve come to lead you in worship of God, with this heifer as a sacrifice.’ Make sure Jesse gets invited. I’ll let you know what to do next. I’ll point out the one you are to anoint.”

Samuel did what God told him. When he arrived at Bethlehem, the town fathers greeted him, but apprehensively. “Is there something wrong?”

“Nothing’s wrong. I’ve come to sacrifice this heifer and lead you in the worship of God. Prepare yourselves, be consecrated, and join me in worship.” He made sure Jesse and his sons were also consecrated and called to worship.

When they arrived, Samuel took one look at Eliab and thought, “Here he is! God’s anointed!”

But God told Samuel, “Looks aren’t everything. Don’t be impressed with his looks and stature. I’ve already eliminated him. God judges persons differently than humans do. Men and women look at the face; God looks into the heart.”

Jesse then called up Abinadab and presented him to Samuel. Samuel said, “This man isn’t God’s choice either.”

Next Jesse presented Shammah. Samuel said, “No, this man isn’t either.”

10 Jesse presented his seven sons to Samuel. Samuel was blunt with Jesse, “Godhasn’t chosen any of these.”

11 Then he asked Jesse, “Is this it? Are there no more sons?”

“Well, yes, there’s the runt. But he’s out tending the sheep.”

Samuel ordered Jesse, “Go get him. We’re not moving from this spot until he’s here.”

12 Jesse sent for him. He was brought in, the very picture of health—bright-eyed, good-looking.

God said, “Up on your feet! Anoint him! This is the one.”

13 Samuel took his flask of oil and anointed him, with his brothers standing around watching. The Spirit of God entered David like a rush of wind, God vitally empowering him for the rest of his life.

Psalm 139:13-18 (NLT) [A psalm of David]
You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body
    and knit me together in my mother’s womb.
14 Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex!

    Your workmanship is marvelous—how well I know it.
15 You watched me as I was being formed in utter seclusion,

    as I was woven together in the dark of the womb.
16 You saw me before I was born.

    Every day of my life was recorded in your book.
Every moment was laid out

    before a single day had passed.
17 How precious are your thoughts about me, O God.

    They cannot be numbered!
18 I can’t even count them;

    they outnumber the grains of sand!
And when I wake up,

    you are still with me!

 

A Biblical Approach To Conflict (part two) | Sinking Ships 12

Take A Friend

Conflict resolution doesn’t always go the way you had hoped. Sometimes communication breaks down and the conversation you had hoped would end the dispute fails its purpose. It’s not time to give up yet, but rather gather support. You want to find a friend who can help you settle the matter. Ideally, this is someone who witnessed the initial conflict. If no such friend is available then someone who unbias and cares for each member of the conflict. You don’t want it to turn into an attack against the other person. Our end goal isn’t to be right, but to find resolution. Having a friend who has no stake in the conflict can be a great asset.

Go To Leadership

Should that still not settle the matter it’s time to go to a higher authority. For us as Christians, church leadership is an excellent source to help bring a Godly perspective. With each step, you are slowly widening the circle in the hope of loving restoration. By going to a higher authority, hopefully, it is enough for all people involved to recognize any wrong they have done, and also that they are loved and to come to full reconciliation.

Let Them Go

Unfortunately, there is always the possibility that at this point resolution has still not come. The other person has refused to yield their opinion, and clearly want to part in solving the issue at hand. At this point, you have done everything you can do and it’s time to let them go. You can continue to pray for them, but you can’t let your life be consumed by this conflict. You need to forgive and release the burden for your own benefit. That’s why I love the wording in Romans 12:18 in the NIV that says, “As far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.” You can’t control other people. Peace is a two way street. If you’ve done your part then you can rest easy knowing you’ve done all you can.

THINK ABOUT THIS:

  1. How is this approach to conflict different than the way you would naturally go about it?
  2. Which part of the Biblical process we laid out is the most challenging for you?
  3. What steps will you take next time you have conflict?

PRAY: Lord, I pray that there are no conflicts in my life today, but if there are please give me the wisdom to handle them in a way that brings honor to Your name

SCRIPTURE READING:

Matthew 18:15-17 (NLT) 15 “If your brother or sister sins, go and point out their fault, just between the two of you. If they listen to you, you have won them over. 16 But if they will not listen, take one or two others along, so that ‘every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.’ 17 If they still refuse to listen, tell it to the church; and if they refuse to listen even to the church, treat them as you would a pagan or a tax collector.

Colossians 3:1-17 (NLT) Since you have been raised to new life with Christ, set your sights on the realities of heaven, where Christ sits in the place of honor at God’s right hand.Think about the things of heaven, not the things of earth. For you died to this life, and your real life is hidden with Christ in God. And when Christ, who is youra]”> life, is revealed to the whole world, you will share in all his glory.

So put to death the sinful, earthly things lurking within you. Have nothing to do with sexual immorality, impurity, lust, and evil desires. Don’t be greedy, for a greedy person is an idolater, worshiping the things of this world. Because of these sins, the anger of God is coming. You used to do these things when your life was still part of this world. But now is the time to get rid of anger, rage, malicious behavior, slander, and dirty language. Don’t lie to each other, for you have stripped off your old sinful nature and all its wicked deeds. 10 Put on your new nature, and be renewed as you learn to know your Creator and become like him. 11 In this new life, it doesn’t matter if you are a Jew or a Gentile, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbaric, uncivilized, slave, or free. Christ is all that matters, and he lives in all of us.

12 Since God chose you to be the holy people he loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience.13 Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others. 14 Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony. 15 And let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts. For as members of one body you are called to live in peace. And always be thankful.

16 Let the message about Christ, in all its richness, fill your lives. Teach and counsel each other with all the wisdom he gives. Sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs to God with thankful hearts. 17 And whatever you do or say, do it as a representative of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through him to God the Father.

A Biblical Approach To Conflict (part one) | Sinking Ships 11

It’s happened. Conflict.

Disagreement. Hurt.

Perhaps tempers flared.

Or maybe you just feel deflated, walking around in disbelief.

“How could they say that? Why would they do that? Do they even care? I thought they were my friend!”

Conflict may be unavoidable, but finding a healthy resolution to a conflict is easy to avoid. Conflict hurts us and facing the conflict means facing the possibility of more hurt. However, it is worth the risk to follow God’s advice of living at peace with everyone. When resolution and reconciliation can be achieved, it is beautiful and freeing, as if a weight is lifted off your shoulders.

I believe the Bible provides some pretty clear guidelines to help us navigate the murky waters of disagreement. We will look at two today and three tomorrow.

Pray

Before you do anything else take some time to talk to God. Search your own heart. Have you done anything to contribute to this conflict or is the other person fully to blame? You should always search for wrongs in your life before attempting to help another with wrongs in theirs. If you’ve done something wrong, ask for forgiveness and keep that in mind when you go to resolve the conflict. Pray for the other person involved. We want resolution because we love about the other person and want to continue to help each other in our pursuit of God. Praying for someone changes your heart toward them and softens your approach.

Go To Them

Go to them directly. This is important. Don’t go to a bunch of your friends and talk about them, complain about them or gossip about them. Doing so stirs up negativity in you and gives them a bad reputation to your friends. Going to them directly shows you care about them. Approach them calmly and simply ask if you can talk. Assure them you care about the relationship and want to work to make things right. If you’ve done something wrong, confess your part in the conflict.

When the time comes to confront their role in the conflict, don’t simply accuse them of all they’ve done wrong. Calmly explain what happened from your perspective and how what it did made you feel. Give them time to explain any misunderstandings that there may have been. Rarely does a friend or family member set out to maliciously hurt you, more often than not we have misunderstood what they meant. Giving space to clear up misunderstandings goes a long way toward resolution.

Many times this kind of direct conversation is enough to resolve the conflict. If it is not, then move on to the next step.

THINK ABOUT THIS:

  1. When disagreement happens is prayer your first move? Do you search to take responsibility for your part or place all the blame on the other person?
  2. Do you find it easier to talk to someone or about them? Think about past experiences and evaluate if any good ever came from talking about someone. How would you feel if someone was talking about you?

PRAY: Lord, give me the wisdom to come to You first when conflicts arise. Also give me the courage to go directly to the person, rather than others.

SCRIPTURE READING:

Matthew 7:3 (NLT) And why worry about a speck in your friend’s eye when you have a log in your own?

Matthew 18:15-20 (NLT) 15 “If your brother or sister sins, go and point out their fault, just between the two of you. If they listen to you, you have won them over. 16 But if they will not listen, take one or two others along, so that ‘every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.’ 17 If they still refuse to listen, tell it to the church; and if they refuse to listen even to the church, treat them as you would a pagan or a tax collector.

18 “Truly I tell you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.

19 “Again, truly I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything they ask for, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. 20 For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.”

1 Peter 4:8 (NLT) Most important of all, continue to show deep love for each other, for love covers a multitude of sins.

Colossians 3:13 (NLT) Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others.

Into The Beast | Sinking Ships 10

One word was all it took for your insides to turn to fire. Your face became hard, jaw clenched, your eyes narrowed as anger flooded your veins. Or maybe that’s never happened to you. I’m guessing if you have other people in your life that at some point they have made you angry, and vice versa. Today we begin to dive into the messy beast we call conflict.

Conflict is unavoidable, yet we are NOT naturally skilled at handling conflict. We are naturally stubborn, and unyielding in our desire to have our way. The problem in most conflicts is that we each want to be right, but instead of acknowledging that, we tear into the other person and sink another ship. We should engage in conflict with the intention of living at peace, rather than winning. Even though we might disagree,  we must put people over our preferences. We must forgive, not because they deserve it, but because it is good for us.

We need each other. We need strong, non-superficial relationships. If we want those relationships, we MUST learn how to handle conflict. It doesn’t have to destroy relationships, but if we let anger drive us that is exactly what will happen. In my experience, there are three typical and unhealthy responses to this kind of anger and conflict.

IGNORE IT.

Instead of engaging in conflict, some people simply ignore it and pretend as if it never happened. This can leave the other person a bit confused, and hurt. Feeling as if you don’t care. The biggest problem is that ignoring a conflict will never resolve it. It will just stay buried under the surface until the next conflict arises and is even more volatile due to unresolved past conflict.

WITHDRAW.

When some get angry, they withdraw. They completely pull away from the source of anger. In their mind, they are protecting themselves, but ultimately they hurt themselves in two key ways. 1.) Anger doesn’t go away just because you walk away. It is still there and will rise again the moment a similar situation happens in another friendship. 2.) They are losing a potentially valuable relationship, more if it becomes a pattern.

ATTACK.

This is the most obvious response to conflict. When someone makes us angry, we go on the offensive. Some directly go at their perceived opponent in heated debate. Some are more subtle, talking behind their back, spreading rumors, trying to pull others onto their side. A relational war often ends in tears and ship that is damaged beyond repair.

There is, of course, another approach to healthy conflict. A Biblical approach. We will talk about it tomorrow.

THINK ABOUT THIS:

  1. When conflict comes, how do you typically approach it?
  2. How do you think conflict would change if we put other people over our desire to be right?

PRAY: God, help me to learn how to handle conflict in a way that honors You and doesn’t result in losing friendships.

SCRIPTURE READING:

Luke 17:1 (NKJV) Then He [Jesus] said to the disciples, “It is impossible that no offenses should come, but woe to him through whom they do come!

Romans 12:18 (NIV) If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.

Romans 12:9-21 (NLT) Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them. Hate what is wrong. Hold tightly to what is good. 10 Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other. 11 Never be lazy, but work hard and serve the Lord enthusiastically. 12 Rejoice in our confident hope. Be patient in trouble, and keep on praying. 13 When God’s people are in need, be ready to help them. Always be eager to practice hospitality.

14 Bless those who persecute you. Don’t curse them; pray that God will bless them. 15 Be happy with those who are happy, and weep with those who weep.16 Live in harmony with each other. Don’t be too proud to enjoy the company of ordinary people. And don’t think you know it all!

17 Never pay back evil with more evil. Do things in such a way that everyone can see you are honorable. 18 Do all that you can to live in peace with everyone.

19 Dear friends, never take revenge. Leave that to the righteous anger of God. For the Scriptures say,

“I will take revenge;
    I will pay them back,”
    says the Lord.

20 Instead,

“If your enemies are hungry, feed them.
    If they are thirsty, give them something to drink.
In doing this, you will heap
    burning coals of shame on their heads.”

21 Don’t let evil conquer you, but conquer evil by doing good.

2 Timothy 2:20-26 (NLT) In a wealthy home some utensils are made of gold and silver, and some are made of wood and clay. The expensive utensils are used for special occasions, and the cheap ones are for everyday use. 21 If you keep yourself pure, you will be a special utensil for honorable use. Your life will be clean, and you will be ready for the Master to use you for every good work.

22 Run from anything that stimulates youthful lusts. Instead, pursue righteous living, faithfulness, love, and peace. Enjoy the companionship of those who call on the Lord with pure hearts.

23 Again I say, don’t get involved in foolish, ignorant arguments that only start fights. 24 A servant of the Lord must not quarrel but must be kind to everyone, be able to teach, and be patient with difficult people. 25 Gently instruct those who oppose the truth. Perhaps God will change those people’s hearts, and they will learn the truth. 26 Then they will come to their senses and escape from the devil’s trap. For they have been held captive by him to do whatever he wants.

 

Be a Friend (part two) | Sinking Ships 09

If you’re going to be a friend, you might as well be a good friend. Yes, being a good friend is a great way to stay a friend. So what does it mean to be a good friend?

Don’t always put yourself first.

Friendship is not only about you and what others can do for you. You have something to offer them as well. When we always insist on our own way, when we are selfish, we show the other person that they don’t matter. Some times we must set aside our preferences and instead put a friend before ourselves.

Encourage others.

You know how every now and then you just really need someone to tell you that you’re doing a good job or that your hair doesn’t look the result of a nuclear explosion? Your friends could use a little of that too. Compliment people, pay attention to when the smile of a friend isn’t as bright as it usually is. Look for opportunities to encourage people. Look for positive things to point out. People are rarely mad when we say nice things to them.

Motivate people.

What is your friend working towards? Are they creative, into drawing or writing? Are they struggling with a class? Ask about it. Motivate them to keep working hard, to keep pursuing their dreams. When we feel like giving up, sometimes a simple word of motivation from a friend is enough to keep moving forward. Be that strength for your friends.

Spend time with people.

A good friend is a friend who you spend time with. We think getting older means having more free time, but it actually means have less. Much less. Spending time with our friends is a choice we have to make, not just empty time, but quality time. When you prioritize a friend in need when you could be doing something else, it means a lot.

Tell them about Jesus.

In our hearts, we want to show the world the hope and love found in Jesus! If we care about our friends at all, then we pray they find salvation in Jesus so they might spend eternity with us in Heaven, rather than eternally separated from God in Hell. Too often we resort to an argument to convince them of the truth and rarely is it effective. It is through relationship that we show people the character and nature of Jesus. How we love people is a representation to them of how God loves them.

THINK ABOUT THIS: 

  1. What does the way you treat your friends say about Jesus?
  2. Think about ways you can encourage or motivate your friends this week. How can you be a good friend?

PRAY: Lord, today show me creative ways that I can show Your love to the people in my life. Help me to represent You well in everything I do, every conversation I have, everywhere I am.

SCRIPTURE READING:

Hebrews 10:19-23 (NLT) And so, dear brothers and sisters, we can boldly enter heaven’s Most Holy Place because of the blood of Jesus. 20 By his death, Jesus opened a new and life-giving way through the curtain into the Most Holy Place. 21 And since we have a great High Priest who rules over God’s house, 22 let us go right into the presence of God with sincere hearts fully trusting him. For our guilty consciences have been sprinkled with Christ’s blood to make us clean, and our bodies have been washed with pure water.

23 Let us hold tightly without wavering to the hope we affirm, for God can be trusted to keep his promise. 24-25 (TPT) Discover creative ways to encourage others and to motivate them toward acts of compassion, doing beautiful works as expressions of love. 25 This is not the time to pull away and neglect meeting together, as some have formed the habit of doing, because we need each other! In fact, we should come together even more frequently, eager to encourage and urge each other onward as we anticipate that day dawning.

Colossians 4:5-6 (NLT) Live wisely among those who are not believers, and make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be gracious and attractive so that you will have the right response for everyone.

2 Corinthians 5:14-20 (NLT) Since we believe that Christ died for all, we also believe that we have all died to our old life. 15 He died for everyone so that those who receive his new life will no longer live for themselves. Instead, they will live for Christ, who died and was raised for them.

16 So we have stopped evaluating others from a human point of view. At one time we thought of Christ merely from a human point of view. How differently we know him now! 17 This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!

18 And all of this is a gift from God, who brought us back to himself through Christ. And God has given us this task of reconciling people to him. 19 For God was in Christ, reconciling the world to himself, no longer counting people’s sins against them. And he gave us this wonderful message of reconciliation. 20 So we are Christ’s ambassadors; God is making his appeal through us. We speak for Christ when we plead, “Come back to God!” 21 For God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin,[e] so that we could be made right with God through Christ.

Be a Friend (part one) | Sinking Ships 08

You ever wish you had more friends? Me too. I’ve often been told, “The best way to get friends is to be a friend.” This is true. You’d be surprised at how many people feel the exact same way as you, wishing someone would come talk to them and be their friend. Some people seem to be natural initiators, they will talk to anyone and are instinctively friendly. For the rest of us, we have to learn how to do that.

So how do you learn to be a friend? Smile and introduce yourself to people. Don’t worry about if they will like you or not, assume they’re your friend and be friendly. Most people will respond to you the way you act towards them. If they seem friendly, take the next step and ask them to hang out. If they don’t seem friendly, that’s ok too! You won’t be friends with everyone.

Now, do you want just another shallow friendship or do you want to have a deeper friendship that is real, authentic and has a level of depth? With some friends, this happens naturally. With most, especially guys, things tend to remain surface level. So how do you go deeper? You do it on purpose. If you want your friendship to go deeper, you have to be intentional in how you approach conversation.

Be present.

When you’re spending time with someone, be there. Be fully there. Meaning, don’t be on your phone and trying to talk. It doesn’t feel good to hang out with someone who would rather talk to people who aren’t there. Put away your phone, put it on silent and don’t look at it. This shows that you value the person you’re spending time with. When you’re talking, actually look them in the eye and show that you’re really listening.

Ask questions.

Specifically, ask deeper questions. Show genuine interest in the other person by asking about their family and their childhood. Ask them when they were the happiest, or when they felt the most hurt. Ask them what their thoughts are on God. Ask about the biggest struggle their facing at the moment. Rarely will conversation go deeper on its own. If you want deeper friendships, you will need to take the initiative to ask deeper, thoughtful, meaningful questions.

THINK ABOUT THIS: 

  1. How can you be more intentional in conversations with your friends?
  2. Who in your life could you be friends with, with a little intentionality and courage?

PRAY: God, help me to be a friend to people. Give me the courage to ask deeper questions, to really be interested in people and to love them the way You love me.

SCRIPTURE READING:

John 15:1-17 (NLT) “I am the true grapevine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch of mine that doesn’t produce fruit, and he prunes the branches that do bear fruit so they will produce even more. You have already been pruned and purified by the message I have given you. Remain in me, and I will remain in you. For a branch cannot produce fruit if it is severed from the vine, and you cannot be fruitful unless you remain in me.

“Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing. Anyone who does not remain in me is thrown away like a useless branch and withers. Such branches are gathered into a pile to be burned. But if you remain in me and my words remain in you, you may ask for anything you want, and it will be granted!When you produce much fruit, you are my true disciples. This brings great glory to my Father.

“I have loved you even as the Father has loved me. Remain in my love. 10 When you obey my commandments, you remain in my love, just as I obey my Father’s commandments and remain in his love. 11 I have told you these things so that you will be filled with my joy. Yes, your joy will overflow! 12 This is my commandment: Love each other in the same way I have loved you. 13 There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. 14 You are my friends if you do what I command. 15 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. 16 You didn’t choose me. I chose you. I appointed you to go and produce lasting fruit, so that the Father will give you whatever you ask for, using my name.17 This is my command: Love each other.

 

The Big Oofs of Friendship (part five) | Sinking Ships 07

SHIP SINKER #10: Intentional Sinking

We did it! We made it to the final oof of friendship. I’m so proud of you for continuing your journey of daily devotion to the Lord. I pray that you are learning a lot and growing closer to the Lord. Don’t stop now!

The final of our top ten ship sinkers is intentional sinking! Sometimes a ship has lived past its usefulness and it is better for it to sink. This is called scuttling. They might sink a ship to prevent it from being captured, or to restrict navigation, or maybe even to create an artificial reef for divers, or finally to alter the flow of a river.

I think this is profound because friendships absolutely do alter the course of our lives. I grew up hearing, “show me your friends and I’ll show you your future.” The relationships we choose, determine how we will be influenced. Make no mistake, we are constantly being influenced by the people in our lives. Our opinions, style, speech, and thought patterns shift depending upon what we see and hear.

When we choose to spend time with friends are making unwise choices, rather than the choice to honor God, we are choosing to be influenced in that direction. I know you’re skeptical. You’ve had friends like that before and it didn’t affect you that much. This is the danger: influence happens slowly. Show me two people who have been friends for years and I will show you people who likely dress similarly, listen to similar music, watch the same tv shows. use the same expressions, the list goes on and on. That’s because influence doesn’t happen over a day, a week, or even a month. However, the longer we are around something or someone the greater influence they have over us.

We must choose our friends wisely. When we identify a friend who might be influencing us in. a way that is harmful to our life, or our walk with God we have to make the tough decision. Sometimes we need to distance ourselves from negative influences. It can be painful, but nothing compared to the pain of continuing down a path that leads away from making wise choices having moral character, doing well in school, and pursuing God.

THINK ABOUT THIS: 

  1. Take stock today. What are some ways your friends influence you?
  2. Are there any friendships that might need to be sunk?

PRAY: Lord, help me to choose wise friends that will lead me where You want me in life.

SCRIPTURE READING:

Proverbs 13:20 (NLT) Walk with the wise and become wise; associate with fools and get in trouble.

Proverbs 13:20 (MSG) Become wise by walking with the wise; hang out with fools and watch your life fall to pieces.

Proverbs 12:26 (NLT) The godly give good advice to their friends; the wicked lead them astray.

1 Corinthians 15:33 (TPT) So stop fooling yourselves! Evil companions will corrupt good morals and character.

Proverbs 27:5-6 (NLT) An open rebuke is better than hidden love! Wounds from a sincere friend are better than many kisses from an enemy.

Philippians 4:4-9 (NLT) Always be full of joy in the Lord. I say it again—rejoice! Let everyone see that you are considerate in all you do. Remember, the Lord is coming soon.

Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.

And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. Keep putting into practice all you learned and received from me—everything you heard from me and saw me doing. Then the God of peace will be with you.

The Big Oofs of Friendship (part four) | Sinking Ships 06

SHIP SINKER #8: Fire & Explosion

Fire is cool! Until it invades our personal life. Yes, there will be difficult, sometimes painful times. These moments of eruption put friendship to the test. This trial by fire will often reveal who your true friends are. Some people are only in it for the fun, laughter and good times. When things get too real, or difficult, they are nowhere to be found. Pay attention to the ones who are there during hard times. These are your true friends.

This is also a great time to evaluate how you treat people when they are hurting, or going through a hard time. Do you offer them support? Do you listen to them? Do you pray for them? Are you a friend who is only there for fun or are you a real friend?

SHIP SINKER #9: Equipment Failure

Sometimes in life things break down. Unfortunately, in relationships the number one thing that breaks down is communication. When people don’t communicate well, conflict erupts or is never dealt with and relationships crash and burn. We have to learn how to communicate clearly and consistently. Clearly because often what we hear is not what they are trying to say. Consistently because we are quick to get offended and want to bail out. Often in our anger, we just want to avoid the other person.

We should be quick to listen and slow to get angry! This means setting aside our own ideas and preferences for the moment and genuinely listening to the other person, seeking to understand what they are saying. Hopefully, they will do the same for you. Good communication takes work, but I can assure you it is always worth the effort and will save many of your relationships.

THINK ABOUT THIS: 

  1. What kind of friend are you? When someone is going through a tough time, do you support them or keep your distance?
  2. What are some ways miscommunication happens in friendships?
  3. How are you as a listener? Do you take the time to really hear what they say without getting offended?

PRAY: Father, I know there will be hard moments in life, please bring true friends into my life and help me to be that friend for someone else. Teach me to really listen to people and to communicate well with my friends and family.

SCRIPTURE READING:

Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 (NLT) For everything there is a season,
a time for every activity under heaven.
A time to be born and a time to die.
A time to plant and a time to harvest.
A time to kill and a time to heal.
A time to tear down and a time to build up.
A time to cry and a time to laugh.
A time to grieve and a time to dance.
A time to scatter stones and a time to gather stones.
A time to embrace and a time to turn away.
A time to search and a time to quit searching.
A time to keep and a time to throw away.
A time to tear and a time to mend.
A time to be quiet and a time to speak.
A time to love and a time to hate.
A time for war and a time for peace.

Proverbs 17:17 (MSG) Friends love through all kinds of weather, and families stick together in all kinds of trouble.

Ecclesiastes 4:7-12 (NLT) I observed yet another example of something meaningless under the sun. This is the case of a man who is all alone, without a child or a brother, yet who works hard to gain as much wealth as he can. But then he asks himself, “Who am I working for? Why am I giving up so much pleasure now?” It is all so meaningless and depressing.

Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed. 10 If one person falls, the other can reach out and help. But someone who falls alone is in real trouble. 11 Likewise, two people lying close together can keep each other warm. But how can one be warm alone? 12 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.

James 4:11 (TPT)  Dear friends, as part of God’s family, never speak against another family member, for when you slander a brother or sister you violate God’s law of love. And your duty is not to make yourself a judge of the law of love by saying that it doesn’t apply to you, but your duty is to obey it!

James 1:19 (NLT) Understand this, my dear brothers and sisters: You must all be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry.

1 Peter 5:8-11 (TPT) Be well balanced and always alert, because your enemy, the devil, roams around incessantly, like a roaring lion looking for its prey to devour. Take a decisive stand against him and resist his every attack with strong, vigorous faith. For you know that your believing brothers and sisters around the world are experiencing the same kinds of troubles you endure. 10 And then, after your brief suffering, the God of all loving grace, who has called you to share in his eternal glory in Christ, will personally and powerfully restore you and make you stronger than ever. Yes, he will set you firmly in place and build you up. 11 And he has all the power needed to do this—forever! Amen.

 

The Big Oofs of Friendship (part three) | Sinking Ships 05

SHIP SINKER #6: EFFECTS OF AGE

Age is another ship sinker that is all too common. Especially once we graduate high school and enter adulthood, heading our separate ways, people naturally drift apart. A lot of friendships you have now will be gone five years from now. Take stock of which friendships you consider most important. If you want those to last you have to be intentional about staying in contact. The best thing you can do right now is to make an effort to take those relationships deeper. The more superficial the relationships, the quicker it will dissolve, but the friends you’ve gone through life with are far more likely to endure the test of time.

SHIP SINKER #7: IMPROPER OPERATION

Most things in life are designed with a specific use. If you use it in a way it was not created for then it won’t work very long. Imagine using your phone as a hammer. Some of you just got anxiety because you know it wouldn’t work very long being used that way. You’re imagining the cracked screen and the panic when it suddenly won’t turn on. In the same way, our relationships have a design and when used improperly, they sink.

I had a friend once who would message me to hang out a couple times a month. Except that the invitation almost always started with, “Could you help me with…” Of course, I love helping and I was happy to do it. However, after a while, it started to feel like if I wasn’t able to help this dude out, the invitations to hang out would disappear. I felt used. I don’t think that was his intention, but I felt like the relationship only continued because of what I could offer him. I just wanted to be accepted for me.

An improper use of friendship occurs whenever someone is taking advantage of the other or perhaps has a wrong expectation of the other. Sometimes one person expects more of the other than they are willing to give. Friendships should be mutually beneficial and without condition. Some warning signs would be if you’re always giving and not getting anything in return. Or vice versa, if you’re always asking for something, but never giving. Certainly avoid any situation if the phrase, “You’re my friend as long as you…

THINK ABOUT THIS: 

  1. Which of your friends add the most value to your life? How can you take them beyond the superficial?
  2. Are any of your friendships out of balance? Do you give more than you take or take more than you give?
  3. Do you have any conditions on the people you are friends with?

PRAY: Lord, show me which of my friendships I should take deeper. Help me to be a good friend and help me to develop healthy friendships with others.

SCRIPTURE READING:

Colossians 3:12-14 (MSG) So, chosen by God for this new life of love, dress in the wardrobe God picked out for you: compassion, kindness, humility, quiet strength, discipline. Be even-tempered, content with second place, quick to forgive an offense. Forgive as quickly and completely as the Master forgave you. And regardless of what else you put on, wear love. It’s your basic, all-purpose garment. Never be without it.

James 4:1-12 (NLT) What is causing the quarrels and fights among you? Don’t they come from the evil desires at war within you? You want what you don’t have, so you scheme and kill to get it. You are jealous of what others have, but you can’t get it, so you fight and wage war to take it away from them. Yet you don’t have what you want because you don’t ask God for it. And even when you ask, you don’t get it because your motives are all wrong—you want only what will give you pleasure.

You adulterers! Don’t you realize that friendship with the world makes you an enemy of God? I say it again: If you want to be a friend of the world, you make yourself an enemy of God. Do you think the Scriptures have no meaning? They say that God is passionate that the spirit he has placed within us should be faithful to him. And he gives grace generously. As the Scriptures say,

“God opposes the proud
    but gives grace to the humble.”

So humble yourselves before God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.Come close to God, and God will come close to you. Wash your hands, you sinners; purify your hearts, for your loyalty is divided between God and the world.Let there be tears for what you have done. Let there be sorrow and deep grief. Let there be sadness instead of laughter, and gloom instead of joy. 10 Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up in honor.

11 Don’t speak evil against each other, dear brothers and sisters. If you criticize and judge each other, then you are criticizing and judging God’s law. But your job is to obey the law, not to judge whether it applies to you. 12 God alone, who gave the law, is the Judge. He alone has the power to save or to destroy. So what right do you have to judge your neighbor?

 

The Big Oofs of Friendship (part two) | Sinking Ships 04

SHIP SINKER #3: Navigational Errors

Many of your current friendships exist because of proximity. You grew up with them, or you’re around them every day at school. Because of the time spent together, you discovered similar interests. You will remain friends as long as those interests align and you are traveling in the same direction. These friendships begin to sink as differing interests emerge. Some friends become more interested in sports, while you might be more interested in drama. Naturally, you begin to drift.

One important key when determining who we should allow to become our CLOSE friends is their relationship with Jesus. We know that our friends will influence us with their interests. I’ve seen many young people let their relationship with God fall away because they were more interested in impressing their non-christian friends than impressing God. If the direction you are hoping to go in life is toward a deeper relationship with God, then it is essential that those closest to you are going the same direction.  This doesn’t mean we don’t have friendships with non-Christians, only that we guard who has the greatest influence in our lives.

SHIP SINKER #4: Weather

Storms sink ships. In relationships, I have found the storms most deadly are emotional storms. As we get older our range of emotions increase and intensify. We don’t always know what we’re feeling or how to handle it. We must be careful as we are learning to navigate these new waters. If we are not, in moments of emotional uproar we can say or do things that damage and sometimes even destroy our friendships.

SHIP SINKER #5: Warfare

In video games, there is something incredibly fun about lining ships up with my cannons and aiming to sink the enemy vessel. In relationships, this isn’t as much fun, yet conflict and disagreements are unavoidable. Just so you know, we are not naturally skilled at handling and resolving conflict. It takes time, patience and understanding to work through conflict in a way that doesn’t create more hurt and anger. We will take a deeper look at conflict later in our Sinking Ships series

THINK ABOUT THIS: 

  1. Think about where you want to go in life. Where do you want your relationship with God to be next year? Look at your current friends, do they want the same thing for their lives?
  2. Think about the people you admire the most. Are these people you spend time with? If not, why not?

PRAY: Lord, lead me into friendships that will help me grow closer to you and help me influence my friends in the same way.

SCRIPTURE READING:

Proverbs 13:20 (TPT) If you want to grow in wisdom, spend time with the wise. Walk with the wicked and you’ll eventually become just like them.

Proverbs 18:24 (MSG) Friends come and friends go, but a true friend sticks by you like family.

Colossians 1:17 (NLT) Since you have been raised to new life with Christ, set your sights on the realities of heaven, where Christ sits in the place of honor at God’s right hand.Think about the things of heaven, not the things of earth. For you died to this life, and your real life is hidden with Christ in God. And when Christ, who is your[a]life, is revealed to the whole world, you will share in all his glory.

So put to death the sinful, earthly things lurking within you. Have nothing to do with sexual immorality, impurity, lust, and evil desires. Don’t be greedy, for a greedy person is an idolater, worshiping the things of this world. Because of these sins, the anger of God is coming.[b] You used to do these things when your life was still part of this world. But now is the time to get rid of anger, rage, malicious behavior, slander, and dirty language. Don’t lie to each other, for you have stripped off your old sinful nature and all its wicked deeds. 10 Put on your new nature, and be renewed as you learn to know your Creator and become like him. 11 In this new life, it doesn’t matter if you are a Jew or a Gentile,[c] circumcised or uncircumcised, barbaric, uncivilized,[d] slave, or free. Christ is all that matters, and he lives in all of us.

12 Since God chose you to be the holy people he loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience.13 Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others. 14 Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony. 15 And let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts. For as members of one body you are called to live in peace. And always be thankful.

16 Let the message about Christ, in all its richness, fill your lives. Teach and counsel each other with all the wisdom he gives. Sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs to God with thankful hearts. 17 And whatever you do or say, do it as a representative of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through him to God the Father.