Thursday, March 12, 2009

Friends who love me and encourage my path

Continuing through Lent... "All this I have told you so that you will not go astray..." - Jesus (John 16:1)

Yesterday evening my "Mens Room " Bible study group changed our typical routine, and we invited a handful of other guys to join us for dinner. Several of my "Most Excellent Dudes" are involved in hunger programs and we wanted to raise both awareness and dollars for our congregation's hunger initiatives while at the same time exposing some additional men to our Bible-study.

After we gathered and said the blessing I made the guys go out to the church parking lot. There my friend, Gerard, handed out paper bags (stuffed with simple sandwiches and fruit) and bottled water from the back of his car - just like he does when he meets homeless folk in the various places they hang out around town. We then shared a powerful time together, talking about the deep impact hunger ministries have on those privileged to participate.

The call to discipleship, our deliberate and purposeful decision to follow Jesus, necessarily includes acts of mercy and kindness. In fact, the more time we spend in the presence of the Master, the more our fundamental life-style will incorporate Christ-likeness. Then, as we listen more attentively to God's voice, specific acts of mercy and kindness will give way to a lives functionally defined by those qualities. Instead of topical, the nature of Jesus will be systemic.

Most of the Bible verses we're using during these 40 days of Lent are from John's account of "The Last Supper." Jesus seems concerned that his friends still don't quite "get" what he is saying. "All this I have told you so that you will not go astray," Jesus points out, as if he wants to hammer some of his essential teachings one more time.

That's one reason I am committed to my Wednesday Men's Room Bible study. God works powerfully and compellingly through my brothers. These are men unafraid to hold one-another accountable (Well, some of them are a teensy-bit resistant to transparency beyond a certain threshold), and they understand the value of prayer-support and encouragement during the week.

It's a kind of Wednesday grounding. Yesterday comprised one of those occasions where there was no equivocation regarding how important we are to one another.

It is my prayer that each one of us engage the friendship of other believers - people who love God in the way that they love you. Then we can love them back, grow in faith, and serve God more faithfully in this hurting world.

PRAYER. Ditto the last line. Amen

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