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THE GIFT OF FRIENDSHIP (PROVERBS AND PARABLES # 9)

 

I think back to those first moments of a new friendship, when my heart flutters like a school girl, for I have the sense that God is intertwining my heart with a kindred spirit friend.

That’s how it was with Ann. We were having coffee together for the first time. She was telling me her story, how she had read T. S. Eliot’s “Hollow Men” in college and didn’t want a hollow life.

I told her I’d read John Donne’s “Death be Not Proud,” and wondered how he could be so unafraid of death.

We smiled at each other, warmth welling up from hearts full of Him.

Then we talked about the topic that was huge in the seventies: feminism. I asked her where she stood as a Christian. She said, “I’m somewhere between Marabel Morgan and Letha Scanzoni.”

I sat there, still grinning, not just because Marabel Morgan and Letha Scanzoni were as far as the east is from the west, but because she, like me, had read them both!  I knew then — this was the beginning of a sweet sweet friendship.

cslewisWe were giddy with excitement, like the characters in Wallace Stegner’s exquisite novel on friendship: Crossing to Safety,  which is based on the actual friendship he and his wife had with another couple.

crossing-to-safety

Larry is watching a friendship develop between his wife and Charity, and describes their exhilaration as akin to the behavior of “twins separated in infancy and now revealed to one another by some birthmark or other perepetia.” I laughed out loud — for that is how we as women can be — friendship means so much to us.

Since I have already told the story of how Sylvia, Ann’s long-time friend, moved to town and of the insecurities I had (because of relational idolatry), I won’t tell it again — though it is in The Friendships of Women. But suffice it to say that Ann, Sylvia, and I have been blessed with thirty-six years of friendship. We get together every year at my cabin. They are my soul sisters. I will love them forever.

Sylvia, Dee, and Ann
Sylvia, Dee, and Ann

 They have been bringing me lovely gifts, some of which I have managed to lose or break, and I have told them just to bring themselves — that is all the gift I need. They have said they would but they keep breaking their word! They have given me permission to show this little video of a time when they presented me with a gift, though Sylvia said, “I wish we weren’t quite so chirpy in it!” (I told them sounding like a chirpy bird was better than sounding like an old crow, which I certainly do.) Yet I show it to demonstrate the great gift of friendship, and “the good,” as Proverbs says, “a friend can do.” The joy on their faces in giving me joy is so precious to me, it is the love of a three fold cord.

 

 I am aware that some of you may think, How I wish I had this kind of friendship. We can pray for you to find it, but I also want you to see, and will focus on this next week (with a video of Laura-Dancer, Susan, and Chris) how God has given us a gift of friendship right here on this blog! It is amazing to me that we can experience this three-fold cord on the internet, but we are, and we want to not take it for granted but consider how to be wise with it.

 

 This week we will do Proverbs 17 and 18, and next week 19 and 20. All focusing on friendship. On a personal note, a talk I gave on Idol Lies is scheduled to be played this coming Friday on Focus on the Family and I’d so covet your prayers for that!

 

 

Sunday Icebreaker:

1. What stood out to you from the above and why?

Monday-Wednesday Bible Study

To prepare your heart, watch this:

www.youtube.com/watch?v=gcYFtihSg_8

Blest be the tie that binds
Our hearts in Christian love;
The fellowship of kindred minds
Is like to that above.
Before our Father’s throne,
We pour our ardent prayers;
Our fears, our hopes, our aims are one,
Our comforts, and our cares.
We share our mutual woes,
Our mutual burdens bear;
And often for each other flows
The sympathizing tear.
When we asunder part,
It gives us inward pain;
But we shall still be joined in heart,
And hope to meet again.

2. As you reflect on the lyrics to the above song, answer:

A. How are our friendships as sisters in Christ different than friendships in the world?

B. What lyric is particularly meaningful to you from “Blest Be The Tie” and why?

3. Read Proverbs 17 in one sitting and comment on any verses that quicken you.

4. What do you think Proverbs 17:9 means and how does it relate to friendship?

In the study we are doing at our church, one remark stood out to me. “When you are with someone, talk about them and not about others.” In endeavoring to do that, it is helping me have more encouraging and uplifting conversations.

Friend loves at all times12296-10032014-Proverbs-17-17-friend-loves-brother-born-adversity-social

5. Keller has an interesting take on the above, though I have always read it differently — so I’ll be interested in your take. I see them as similar statements — that both a true friend and a brother should endeavor not to let you down when you really need them. Keller sees a contrast, that friends will truly love you at all times, but a brother will be there for you, even if he doesn’t particularly enjoy being with you. Thoughts? 

6. Read Proverbs 18 in one sitting and share any verses that quicken you and why.  

7. What principle does Proverbs 18:1-2 teach?

Ellen Davis comments “The price of abandoning community is more than personal loneliness or lack of fulfillment. It is anarchy, personal chaos that eventually and perhaps inevitably becomes open hostility toward others.”

8. Comment on the above

9. Proverbs 18:24 is obviously difficult to translate, for the translations are quite different. Three quite literal translations (ESV, NAS, and Holman) are all similar to the below:

what-is-a-friend-6-728


A. What is the danger in having too many “companions” do you think?

B. What do you think it means when it describes a true friend as one “who sticks closer than a brother?”

We are going to look at this proverb in more detail next week, as we discuss the difference between “fair-weather” friends and true friends, and look at our own hearts.

10. Why shouldn’t we be so shocked when a loved one does slip and let us down? What can that also teach us? 

just-one-wish-23-728

Thursday-Friday Free Keller Sermon on Friendship

Friendship

12. Share your notes and comments on the above.

Saturday:

13. What is your take-a-way and why?

 

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247 comments

  1. Oh I LOVE the video clip–Dee, your voice. Every time I hear it–it is so full of real joy and warmth, it just overflows onto the listener–that’s one of His gifts to you, the filling of His spirit in your voice and words!
     
    I’m also just thanking Him again for the friends He has blessed me with–both here, and in “real life”. He has granted many close friends at different seasons, but as I look, I see the older I get, the more depth there is in those friendships. Two dear friends I am thinking of now, we get together to talk and pray, and every time it feels like a taste of heaven, I never want it to end. I have shared things with them that others might judge, but with them there is trust. I know that rather than judge me, they sincerely pray. It is a gift I prayed long for, not just friends to laugh with–but ones that challenge me, ones I can trust with anything, and they will point me back to Him. I thank Him alone for it. 

    1. That is a gift, Lizzy.  I do feel I have friends here, as well, and you are one of them (in a huge way!)  “In-person” I currently only have one friend who I feel is a “kindred spirit” at this point in my life and I treasure her but would love to have at least one more.  My younger brother was also a kindred spirit but he went to the Lord 4 years ago today (I knew the date was coming but actually just realized it was today as I typed this!)  

      1. Mary, I didn’t know that you lost a brother. I’m sorry to hear about it. I know that anniversaries are hard. Four years so short, yet a lifetime…

  2. 1. What stood out to you from the above and why?Some of you may think ‘How I wish I had this kind of friendship. ‘” Yup. I am not good at friendship. I do not make friends easily (I am personable and welcoming, I think, but friends is another thing). I have also had many reject me but He is showing me to just be a friend, bless others, and He is enough for the rest. He has taught me (through a very painful situation last year) that I was making friendships an idol, clinging tightly and turning to friends before Christ. It happened so subtly…. But I am grateful for His hand teaching me, even in painful situations.
     
    I would be wrong if I did not give thanks for the 2 friends He has blessed me with but circumstances and miles severely limit my fellowship with them, but I know they are gifts.

    1. Jill-I appreciate your honesty too, and agree with Dee that I think we all can relate in some way, especially to the pain of disappointment in friendship. Several years ago, I had to break away from a friend, because I knew it was not a healthy friendship–and it was painful for a long time. But, she later thanked me for bringing some of both our unhealthy patterns to light, and now, years later, I can reflect on the times that were blessed by Him and am thankful for what He gave and what He taught me through it, even though it was only for a season. 

  3. oh Dee! You are SO RIGHT about friendship it “means so much to us”…..friends can be sickenly sweet to those who struggle with making and keeping friends too. I think you were also so poignant to bring up Ann’s friend moving into town and throwing off the friendship. How we have all (probably) had that “threes a crowd” feeling at least once in our lives. 
     
    Finally, I wondered when you were going to use our video! Hope I’m not too “chirpy” 🙂

    1. oh yes, Laura–the “threes a crowd” feeling–UGH, just reading it brings a turn in my stomach 😉

      1. OH YES!!!!! I CAN’T WAIT TO SEE THE VIDEO! :))) 

      2. It was a sweet time!

    2. Laura Dancer-lol! You are not being too chirpy and even if you are-that is great! Be chirpy-we love you anyway! :)))

  4. 1. What stood out to you from the above and why?
    My heart was full when I saw the video of Ann and Sylvia!  
    After writing and re-writing basically what Lizzy posted for I SO identify with her-I erased it. I have two face to face friends I trust and who lift me up! I also have Dee and Lizzy who are two of my dearest friends. I can be myself and trust both of them with the deeper things in my heart- I know they WILL pray for me AND TELL ME THE TRUTH-challenge me and point me to Him-yet also laugh with me-and I love their transparency with me-AND their GRACE extended to me when I mess up. They aren’t phony and don’t put on fronts. I love that even when our ugly is out there we still stick closer than brothers. We are friends who can laugh at ourselves too-not taking ourselves too seriously. Can I just ditto what Lizzy said above? 🙂  
     
     
     

    1. Oh what a gift you are to me dear friend, you are truly a blessing and SISTER to me! Always think of the Twila song when I think of you: 
      You are a true friend pointing me to Him, Lifting my downcast eyes , Turning my wondering gaze to the sky, Proving your love again, you are a true friend”
      so thankful for you

      1. I’m replying to myself because the above was to Rebecca and I forgot to say your name 😉 and…Diane just asked about the box to check to subscribe to comments, so I was testing to see if it came up, but you’re right, it’s missing-?

      2. I LOVE that song!  (clear we are both Twila Paris fans. ) 😀  Used to listen to her all the time in the 80s and 90’s and recently started again when I’m on the treadmill.  

  5. B. What lyric is particularly meaningful to you from “Blest Be The Tie” and why?
     
    “We share our mutual woes,Our mutual burdens bear;And often for each other flowsThe sympathizing tear.”
     
    makes me tear up reading this. My “best” (I kinda don’t like saying that) friend and I have been through so much in our long friendship. She is more like a sister to me. Her name is also Laura. No judgment from her, only support and truth which hurts sometimes. But, I know we love each other so it’s okay.

  6. My first experience with Dee was to read her “Friendships of Women”. My best friend and I read it just as we were getting to know each other and realizing that our friendship was something very special and intense and wanted to do it “right”. We have been through many good times as well as difficulties together, including her moving 2,000 miles away 15 years ago, where she still lives today. I knew I had met a kindred spirit (a woman who wanted to truly know me, be there for me in the long haul, who would encourage me and would challenge me in the Lord) and I knew then, also, that Dee was a special godly Christian woman for writing such a book. 

  7. I’m just wondering where the box is to check if you want to receive emails this week. It isn’t there when I post my comments.

  8. 1. What stood out to you from the above and why?
     
    Wow – 36 years of friendship! That is truly a blessing, and I loved to hear the story of how Dee and Ann’s friendship unfolded. And yes, I wish I had this kind of friendship, face-to-face. I did have a friend who was the rare one that I could share anything with, and she could do the same with me. We were friends for 14 years, but she just kind of moved on from me…I was the one trying to maintain the friendship and it became apparent she wasn’t interested anymore. I don’t have anyone who, for example, I could call in the middle of the night if I really needed something. I do have a couple of friends with whom I get together with every 2 or 3 months; we enjoy our visits and talk about things, but still they aren’t friends that I can go to a very deep level with.
     
    I’m looking forward to seeing the video next week…I just can’t explain how uncanny it was that when I met women from this blog in person, it just seemed like we’d been friends forever…it was truly rare and special.

    1. Susan, you may call me in the middle of the night anytime! I agree with you that when we met it did seem as if we had always known each other. Weird, huh? You really made me feel the calmness that surrounds you 🙂 I felt like all would be “right” when I was with you!

    2. Susan! You should know I welcome your middle-of-the-night calls too! 😉 I hate the hurt you endured with your old friend–but I see how even that pain just adds to your beauty. You have not let it make you bitter, but instead, you have a heart of compassion like few people I know. You are a dear treasure to me. 

  9. 1. What stood out to you from the above and why?     Well!  The video of Ann and Sylvia is very fun for me to see.  A few of you know, that I attended church with Ann and Sylvia for almost 8 years.  We’ve been gone from there for 28 years now and I have maybe only seen them once or twice since.  (My husband, however, is a consultant for a counseling clinic where Ann works, so he saw her recently.)  I didn’t think they sounded ‘chirpy’!  I think they have hardly changed at all.  I remember with gratitude, how Ann helped me one evening, when I was close to the end of my rope. I had 3 preschoolers, husband living away as he moved to take a new job before I was able to move,  middle child with serious health needs, anticipating nervously, moving and starting over.  I still remember her looking me in the eye and telling me something straight up that I never forgot.  I also STILL have a scrap of notebook paper on which Ann wrote 5 things down for me to remember.  It’s in one of my Bibles that I don’t use every day, but every time I pick it up, it’s still there and makes me smile.   
     
    Also, Dee’s description of the excitement of connecting with someone and knowing a friendship is born.  I can think of a couple of examples from my past that were just like that.  Fast connections and the excitement of feeling like a giddy school girl when they happened.  Other friendships emerge over time and you look back and wonder how you ever got through life without that person.   And yet, there may never have been that one quick connecting moment.  I can think of a couple examples of those too.    
     
    I have been praying for connections in our new church.  And I also heard my husband pray that for the first time aloud a couple weeks ago.  In our former church, we have friends we love dearly and who have done life together with us for almost 3 decades and yet, we have never felt so clearly like we are doing God’s will by going to this new church.  And that’s a big loss, in that we just don’t have the natural times each week of seeing our long time friends.  But I also know that those who are truly close, will not let this divide us.   When I pray for connections at our new church, it’s with hopeful anticipation because God has answered our heart’s cry for a compatible place to worship so ‘above and beyond what we asked or thought’  so we must trust Him for friendships to emerge in our new church too.

    1. Wanda, how neat that you know Ann and Sylvia…a small world, indeed! Praying for those new connections for you and your husband at church!

  10. 2. As you reflect on the lyrics to the above song, answer:
    We sing this at church (this version), and it has always been my personal “theme song” for this blog family here! All the words fit so well the fellowship we share. There’s a sweet story of the man who wrote it–John Fawcett, was a poor man who was often asked to preach in a poor church in England. His usual “pay” was in crops, so he and his wife planned to take a position at a larger Church in London. But as they were all packed and about to leave, his wife said she couldn’t bear to leave the fellowship of the small, poor church. So they stayed the rest of their lives, and he wrote this hymn for that church. Today, at my church, we were comissioning a man to go into East Asia and he sobbed as he said good bye, because of what a family our Church was to him. I thought of this blog post—of the amazing gift God chooses to give us, the BOND we share as believers—it is truly unlike anything else.There is a void that Christian friendship can fill, that is unique to believers. It is like how I think of flowers, He didn’t have to give such a gift, but He did, just because He loves us that much and He wants us to feel it. He wants us to be here for each other, to physically be His hands when we hold one another up, to be His feet when we serve. It is an awesome privilege. So thankful. 
     

    1. THANKS! for sharing the back story.  I was actually about to go look it up and then saw your post!   I felt this bond at church today too.  The high school kids who went to a national church youth conference shared testimonies from that week.  Since we’re new, we didn’t know any of the students personally but felt that fast bond with being a part of that body and those who have had such a role in their lives.  We have had that role with others, but it was refreshing to feel that tie even for those we didn’t know personally.  All ONE is Christ’s body.  

    2. Lizzy, we sang a shortened version of this song at the end of every church service when I was a kid. It holds a special memory for me. I love this version that Sara Groves sings too!

  11. “Bless be the tie that binds our hearts in Christian love” is a special phrase for me. I have a dear friend for 50 years who was a college roommate for awhile. We dreamed about our future when we would marry and have children! We have never lived close to one another, but we have kept close and our families had vacations together for a time. She is like a sister that I never had. Yes, our bond in Christ drew us together and our concern for each other has grown our relationship. We will soon be together again for a short visit. It is a treasure.
    Another treasure was to find a friend while I cared for my Mother who had a similar time with her Dad. It has been an enriching relationship in which we talk on the phone about once monthly and pray for each other’s needs. We live at a distance from each other now. Yet our faith and hope in Christ and our shared stories have united us.
    These friendships are so satisfying as I have many lonely times, with no siblings and grown children far away. God is always close and guides me. I also feel a kinship with all the blog sisters!

    1. Shirley I believe you are in MA correct? You are close distance to me. I would love to meet you sometime. Hoping to meet up with Laura real soon!

      1. I think we should have a northeast meet up sometime…..Jackie lives in Baltimore which is about 8 hours from me. We could drive 4 and she could as well. That would put us in NYC and I could take you guys to hear Tim Keller speak!!! I have seen him several times. Think about that ladies! ROADTRIP 🙂

        1. Wow, Laura!   Hearing you brainstorm a NE gathering gives me a smile this morning.  I hope that you are able to do that!  Throwing in a morning at Redeemer Presbyterian is quite a bonus 🙂   

        2. Northeasters, I live in Canada, in New Brunswick, just east of Maine. I wish somehow I could meet up with you as well. However, I probably live too far east. It would take several hours driving just to get through Maine.

        3. Laura a road trip would be fun and I would love to meet Jackie:) I would love to meet all the ladies on the blog:) 

      2. Yes. Liz, I live in Western Ma. Send me your email address- mine is salhodges@russellma.net
        It would be great to have a northeast meet up, Laura, but NYC is off limits for me driving. I lived there when I was young, but truly avoid it now I am an elder…..
        And Maryland is a great destination but I seldom get there even with my son living nearby!

  12. A. How are our friendships as sisters in Christ different than friendships in the world?
    The first word that comes to mind is: trust. Not only do I trust my Christian friends not to gossip about me or act in envy or jealousy towards me, but I trust them to the Lord. I don’t have to take things so personally. If a friend seems less chatty or “off”, I don’t have to assume it’s my fault! I can ask to be sure, but also pray and trust it to the Lord. And when we do hurt one another, I know too we will both pray and speak honestly, directly about it—there’s no guessing or that uneasy fearfulness. I think too there is an assurance , a peace that I know the Lord has them, and THEY know He has them–they are not looking to me to fill them up or fix their problems…they are seeking Him for the real healing, and I am just an instrument He uses to encourage and walk alongside. We are all wounded and needy, but we can only receive healing from the true Physician—it isn’t the job for the rest of us, and it’s too much for me to expect that of my friends, and way too much for me to try to be it. But when we’re both getting filled from Him first, then when one of us does fall down, we just help one another back up and point back to Him. 
     

    1. This is so beautiful, Lizzy.   Trusting them and trusting them TO the Lord.  Both are so important and defining.  I love your point about being able to be honest and not have that uneasy fearfulness.   I had this very thing happen this summer with my closest friend here.  She confronted me about something I said and we were able to so honestly clear it up.  Knowing that I had hurt her feelings, hurt me.  Once I honestly apologized, the whole matter was completely gone.    I also love your statement, that ‘they are not looking to me to fix their problems but seeing Him for the real healing…..’   That gives us such freedom in love.  And it is so reciprocal as we all have problems that need fixing.   So we encourage each other by supporting one another in prayer and love.  Often, with non Christian friends, I feel more like I have to be the fixer because they may come to me, when they don’t have the Lord to go to.  Relationships can be unbalanced in that way.  And this last sentence is SO good:  
       

       But when we’re both getting filled from Him first, then when one of us does fall down, we just help one another back up and point back to Him. 

      1. Wanda–I love your example–exactly what I’m talking about–that kind of trust that you can work through misunderstandings and hurt feelings! And I’m glad you understood my heart here, because I love for friends to come to me with burdens and needs, and to be able to pray with them, for them–but there is also something freeing about a mature Christian friend who knows her true Source of help isn’t me (thankfully, for her sake!) But yes, your example is it–this “believing the best” instead of assuming the worst of intentions, and being able to be honest. How incredible though that you were able to hear the truth and be humble and gracious–that is such a great model for me. I had a situation like that years ago–I was hurting a friend with my “busy-ness” and had no idea. It was HARD to hear, but looking back I am so thankful she was honest and loved me enough to help me see my weakness and give me a chance to repent and grow. Iron sharpening iron type friends–a treasure for sure. 

        1. Lizzy and Wanda-loved this: “but there is also something freeing about a mature Christian friend who knows her true Source of help isn’t me (thankfully, for her sake!) ” it is true!

  13. 2. As you reflect on the lyrics to the above song, answer:
    A. How are our friendships as sisters in Christ different than friendships in the world?   With sisters in Christ, we can share what is of deepest value and importance to us.  It’s hard to express the depth of the emotions of life if the person you are speaking to doesn’t track spiritually.  When we go through the deepest, darkest valleys of this life, we can share our innermost struggles yet practice trust in a Living God.  So different than trying to connect on that emotional level with someone who has a generic spirituality. Even within Christian circles, not with everyone, do we have the heart felt camaraderie that we may have with one or two who know us best. 
     
    B. What lyric is particularly meaningful to you from “Blest Be The Tie” and why?
     
    I have two very vivid memories of this hymn.  One was when I was in high school, babysitting pretty late at night for a cousin’s kids.  The kids were long asleep, the ‘late night movie’ was over (in those days, TV actually had an end time for the day!) and I was still there.  It was quiet and I remember thinking of a guy I knew who was in trouble with the law (and still is to this day) and I was really afraid for him.  I just thought about how he was headed in such a terrible direction of self destructive behavior.  I don’t know why he was the one who came to mind, but I remember weeping because there would be friends who we would never see again when this life ended.  For a 16 year old, that was a very profound thought.   My other memory is from the stage play, ‘Our Town’.  Moving scene in the cemetery when the characters sing this song over and over and over.    My future brother in law (sister’s boyfriend at the time) had the male lead in a high school near by and we watched the play several times.  So really, it was in high school that this song first impacted me.   It’s the last stanza about being parted, having inward pain but being joined again that tore at my heart when I thought about never seeing someone again after they died without Christ.    Yet, that same stanza gives me unparalleled hope and peace when I think of the loved ones I know who are now with the Lord.      I love each stanza though.  They touch on so much.  Kindred hearts, sharing our deepest pains, fears, hopes and sympathizing with tears, comforting each other and praying ardently for one another.  I’m not sure our bond in the Lord and the fellowship of this blog could be stated any better than this hymn does. 
     
     

  14. 2. As you reflect on the lyrics to the above song, answer:
     
    A. How are our friendships as sisters in Christ different than friendships in the world?
     
    The fellowship of kindred minds is like to that above…I immediately thought of a chapter in the book written by Charles and Janet Morris, “Saving a Life”, which they wrote after the death of their son from a drug overdose. I read this book after the death of my nephew and it helped me immensely, and I never forgot what they wrote about two of their dear friends who shared their faith and came alongside of them during their grief:
     
    “We’d been experiencing the other world, where Jesus is considered irrelevant to most of life, and everything operates according to what can be seen. It’s a hopeless, deluded place, but their faith woke us up so we could drink in the morning again…We were trying to explain why it was so wonderful for them to be there. We said it was like Paul writing to the believers in Rome telling them he couldn’t wait to see them and be mutually strengthened by each other’s faith…The refreshing rains of believing friends fell on our dry hearts…Courage, it turns out, comes from being together with believers.”
     
    There is just something different about fellowship/friendship with believers. You don’t necessarily talk about the Lord in every sentence, but you can talk about the things that really matter. Your friendship with a believer is built on something solid – Christ, The Solid Rock. When conversation turns to the spiritual, they get what you’re saying…it’s wonderful.
     
    B. What lyric is particularly meaningful to you from “Blest Be the Tie” and why?
     
    I think I sort of answered that in A…it’s that “fellowship of kindred minds” that is so awesome. Like John writing so excitedly about wanting to include others into their fellowship, and their fellowship was also with the Father and His Son. When I’m hurting, I want another believer to come alongside me; I find hope and encouragement with one who is like-minded…real hope, not cliches.

    1. You said it well here, Susan: The refreshing rains of believing friends fell on our dry hearts…Courage, it turns out, comes from being together with believers.” There is just something different about fellowship/friendship with believers. You don’t necessarily talk about the Lord in every sentence, but you can talk about the things that really matter. Your friendship with a believer is built on something solid – Christ, The Solid Rock. When conversation turns to the spiritual, they get what you’re saying…it’s wonderful.
      Thank you.

    2. Susan,  I’m so glad you shared this excerpt and reminded me again, of this book.  As I’ve said before, the message I heard from the Morris’ when you shared a link, was a game changer for me when I was struggling so much with guilt over my children’s rejection of the Lord.  And I’m so grateful that you pointed me to their talk.  Adding this book, also to my ever growing list!

  15. Sunday Icebreaker:
    1.   What stood out to you from the above and why?
    Friendship-one of my very favorite topics in the whole wide world! I laughed when I read the words giddy excitement, warmth welling up, What? You, too? I thought I was the only one. Very same words I would describe my best friendships on this earth.
     I appreciate also the mention of the number 36 years in terms of friendship that Dee has with Ann and Sylvia. Through the years, God has gifted me with friends but none has the like of  twins separated in infancy and now revealed to one another by some birthmark or other perepetia, than my friends named Debbie and Julie. Deb has been a friend for 27 years and Julie for 22.

  16. I have been so blessed to have some rich friendships. I loved hearing your story of meeting your friend Dee. I so wish my husband could have a close friend he could share with. I know Men do friendships differently but my heart is saddened that they could not share the way women do. Well at least I do not think they do.  

  17. 1.  Yesterday the thing that stood out to me most was a question…how on earth does Dee read so many books AND manage this blog, tour the world with speaking engagements, keep up with her family and friends, and a prison ministry, write books, etc…??? Does the woman not sleep???!!!  =)
    Today, the more spiritual thing that stood out to me is that if we, humans enjoy seeing delight when we give someone a gift, how much God must delight when we express such joy to Him for the gifts He gives us.  I had never thought of it that way before.  I always knew He liked a grateful heart, but never thought about how it brings Him such joy.
     

    1. mary–love this dear friend ” how much God must delight when we express such joy to Him for the gifts He gives us”

    2. Such a good question, Mary!!!   I had a similar thought.  I love to read and read a lot, but I am sooo slow at finishing a book.  I also didn’t read, outside of doing a Bible study, when I had kids in my household as I couldn’t find a minute.  Dee inspires me with the titles she shares.  I would like to read the novel she featured here, and will add it to my stack of 30 or so I have waiting for me!    And that’s just the reading part of your comment.   The writing, the traveling, the speaking, the ministry, the time with friends, family and neighbors.  I stand amazed as well!  Beyond all of that, she takes time to personally interact with us here.  We love you, Dee!  

  18. 2. As you reflect on the lyrics to the above song, answer:
     
    A. How are our friendships as sisters in Christ different than friendships in the world?
     
    Well, friendships where both parties have faith in Christ have commonality; a foundation with which they may base their lives. The Word is SO deep it’s no wonder that the bible is the most sold book in the world every year! When two (as Dee says in the opening) have a common thread, the friendship is special; a bond that won’t be broken easily. Having a Christian bond is very special because there is a third party involved…..Jesus. He is near and gives us perspective when we need Him. Other “regular” friendships don’t have this.

    1. I love this, Laura:  
       

      Having a Christian bond is very special because there is a third party involved…..Jesus. He is near and gives us perspective when we need Him.

  19. 2. As you reflect on the lyrics to the above song, answer:
    A. How are our friendships as sisters in Christ different than friendships in the world?   Oh so different that I can’t even say I have ever had any really close non-Christian friends.  I love them dearly, but even with other Believers, we all view life through a different set of clouded lenses and some are clouded in very different ways than others (hence all the different denominations, I guess, looking at life and Scripture through a different lens/filter) but with non-Christians, they are basically blind until the Holy Spirit does His enlightening work.  Thankfully Jesus came to give sight to the blind!  We, as Believers can enjoy such sweet fellowship because He has opened our eyes to see real life, what really matters.  Not the futile, dead stuff that we remain subjected to in this world that is passing away, but the “invisible” that is all around us, the eternal.  And the more closely we walk with Him and grown in Him, the closer we get to each other as well (when two people are moving in the same direction, naturally they end up closer than were they started. )
    B. What lyric is particularly meaningful to you from “Blest Be The Tie” and why?  The one about how when we part here on earth, we know that it is not the end.  This is the anniversary of my younger brother’s death 4 years ago today and now, with my own diagnosis (and I think of you, Dee, with regard to your precious husband) it means we don’t have to grieve the way the world does when someone dies because we know it is only for a short time that we are separated from them…to be again united for all of eternity with a perfect unity, like we have never yet experienced this side of heaven.  An eternity filled with nothing but “kindred spirits” of every nation, tribe, and tongue!!!   And, of course, all united before His throne!!!  (and the capacity to enjoy all of that!  Now we are really limited in how man close friends we can even keep up with.)

    1. Mary, I love your thoughts particularly the one that says believers can enjoy such sweet fellowship because He has opened our eyes to see real life, what really matters.
      I also appreciate your mentioning about your brother. I so miss my sister, Grace. She died June 4 but it seems like it has been forever. To be reminded that I will see her again and be united for all eternity with a perfect unity…now that is some consolation!

      1. Ernema, I’m so sorry for the recent loss of your sister, Grace. I am sorry that I must have missed hearing about your loss here on the blog…I believe this is your sister who had cancer? Praying for you this morning, for His comfort to come to you as you miss her so much.

    2. another good answer, Mary.   Sweet peace to you, dear friend, as you honor the memory of your brother.   I forgot that your loss was that recent.  You so, hit the nail on the head when you shared about having the common understanding of real life; the eternal, the invisible.   I paused at your last sentence.  Here, we are limited as to how many close friends we can even keep up with.   I struggle with that often.  Not that they are all close friends, but I know SO many people and someone is always in a serious crisis or even having a great joy in their lives and before I can acknowledge one person’s experience, my heart is pulled toward another.  Truly, we can’t keep up with every one here.  
       
      A woman who was a big part of my teenage years, as we were in the same youth group, recently passed away.  Her older sister said that, as she was with her choking back tears and trying to tell her how much she meant to her,  this woman, in a weak, dying voice said,  ‘We have all of eternity to talk about that’,  giving her sister left behind, reassurance and encouragement.    Truly is an amazing bond to know we will be together forever!

      1. Oh Wanda, I LVOE this! “ ‘We have all of eternity to talk about that’,  giving her sister left behind, reassurance and encouragement.  ”  How precious that she was able to get those words of comfort out to her sister, while she was letting go of this life.

  20. 2. As you reflect on the lyrics to the above song, answer:
    A. How are our friendships as sisters in Christ different than friendships in the world?
    What is beautiful is that we are together weaved in the Trinity-we have kindred spirits in Him because He is living in us. I think back to when Elizabeth Heard Mary’s greeting the baby in her womb lept and the Holy Spirit filled her-she was filled with joy. It is the Holy Spirit-the dance in us when we are together like the dance of the Trinity. Our fears, hopes, aims, comforts and cares are one for He is in the center of all of them and together we bring them to His throne-It is dancing with the Trinity in that beautiful dance of His Love. We AUTHENTICALLY bear one another’s burdens-we really care about one another so much so that we are willing to go out of our comfort zone and suffer with the other who is suffering. 
     
    The contrast with friendships of the world is that He isn’t in the other person so what happens is it gets stuck at a certain level and never goes into the deeper beauty of fellowship that God designed us for with Him in the center. 
     
    B. What lyric is particularly meaningful to you from “Blest Be The Tie” and why?
    And often for each other flows The sympathizing tear.  This Love is amazing for it is His Love-unlike the world where they may shed a tear but then will judge, or will tell us to stop whining and pick ourself up by our bootstraps. I have had times of tears with my my close believing friends where I literally felt their burdens, or they felt mine. I know when I feel theirs it is like a knife digging inside and I labor over them in the night in prayer. I have also experienced this with believers far away whom I don’t even know-and that is Him-the dance we are together in. Recently I found out a pastor I loved-one of my absolute favorites-fell. But what hurt was how satan tempted both he and his wife and now they are facing disaster in their marriage and in his ministry-how easy we can stumble to satans lies if we don’t have those deep committed friendships where we can be transparent and truly loved and warned when needed like Nathan warned David but not judged. How hard that must be for those on the front lines-to find friends they can trust with issues and temptations like this. My heart aches for them so I am praying. 

    1. Rebecca, I love your analogy of Elizabeth and Mary! Perfect example 🙂 I wish I could remember to think of biblical connections when I am answering these questions. Unfortunately it’s not my first “go-to” but should be. I will try to remember that from now on. It is helpful.

      1. Me too.   I agree with Laura.  Your scripture analogies run deep,  Rebecca.   I also, have lots of ‘stories’ and experiences that emerge when answering questions, but the next level, to think more deeply on the whole of scripture isn’t the first thing that comes to my heart.  

  21. 3. Read Proverbs 17 in one sitting and comment on any verses that quicken you.
    “The beginning of strife is like letting out water, so quit before the quarrel breaks out.
     
    Even a fool who keeps silent is considered wise; when he closes his lips, he is deemed intelligent.”
    ‭‭Proverbs‬ ‭17:14, 28‬ ‭ESV‬‬
     
    Verse 14 stands out because I seem to have always lived in a house where people can’t seem to “get along” very well. I think once you are exposed to arguing, it becomes a bad
    habit. I have tried to change that over the years, but it is difficult at times.

    Verse 28 is useful! Sometimes I can have brain “blips” and what comes out of my mouth is nonsense! I have learned to shut my mouth and think twice before I speak, but oh! how long it has taken to know this 🙁

    1. Laura, me too! Brain “blips”-I have to remember this. Psalm 39:1 I said, “I will watch my ways and keep my tongue from sin; I will put a muzzle on my mouth while in the presence of the wicked.”

    2. Laura-I have to admit while I was excited everyone here was getting together when Dee spoke, I so wanted to be there with you all too-AND get to meet you! Online we can get certain angles of a picture of each other but in real life face to face we get so much more of the picture. 

      1. I was sad you couldn’t make it too. I am jealous that others may get to meet without me….SO HUMAN! I am the kind of person who will take the adventure and go if I can possibly make it. So, now I’m trying to figure out how to get to SC AND CANADA!!   Ha! My husband really puts up with me. He is awesome in that department.

  22. 1. What stood out to you from the above and why?
    What sweet friendship Ann, Dee, and Sylvia share. 
    The statement “How I wish I had this kind of friendship.”  I have had dear friends for what seems like “seasons.” We are good friends, confidants for a while but then the relationship through changes in circumstances (e.g., job change, changing time commitments, moves) moves to a different level, more acquaintance-like.  There have been some friendships where the effort has been rather one-sided and after a while I let the relationship go. 
    This week’s subject matter again is timely.
    I am grateful for the friendships that have evolved in this bible study sisterhood.

    1. And we are SO grateful you are here, Nanci!    It excites me to know that you and I are not THAT far apart geographically and have some places in common.  Hoping we can meet in person, sometime too.   I was so encouraged when you told me that you had no doubt that it will happen 🙂 

    2. Nanci–I relate much with you about the “seasons” of friendships. And I had to start seeing it just as you said, as for a “season”. I am so far from where I grew up, I didn’t keep up with old childhood or even high school friends (except my husband!)…and speaking of high school, college even, I think I really struggled to trust girls. My best friends were my husband & his buddies because they were SO much easier to get along with–much less drama 😉 I feel like it’s only been recent years the Lord has started to teach me more about friendships, how much to share, and what to look for…and yet in a lot of ways it’s so much harder at this stage…sorry I spieled here! but I will pray for you now for the Lord to bring friends you can trust, who encourage and love you well. I’m so thankful you are here Nanci. AND I hope you & Wanda connect in person!! I’d jump at the chance to meet either/both of you…so you COULD all come to SC…just a thought 😉

      1. Lizzy,  just an aside here.  The son of my closest friend here (same friend I wrote about earlier) is heading to Columbia, SC for grad school in a couple weeks.  They are driving him out there.  Wonder if maybe she and I need to take a road trip to visit him sometime while he’s there  🙂 and see you too, of course.   Dreaming here……..

        1. oooh WANDA!!! I honestly re-read this 3x because it’s 6 am. and I’m making sure I’m not dreaming! Would LOVE to meet you in Columbia!!!! It’s just over an hour from me, we were there just a few weeks ago–oh my goodness, I’m praying for that! 🙂

    3. Ladies, you are such dears…thank you for the encouragement and love…I’m not sure what is going on these days with me, I have been feeling so fragile, kind of lost in the world…I hate being vulnerable, could that be what the Lord is calling me to do and these feelings merely discomfort in change?

      1. nanci, just reading this and probably missed other important words here. I just want you to know I am praying for your inner peace today.

      2. Praying for you now and as I go about my mundane chores today, Nanci.  I can relate to those non specific, fragile feelings.  May you find your strength ‘in quietness and confidence’ and feel His hand on your day and week.   May he give perfect peace to you as your mind is steadfast on Him.  (Isaiah 26:3)

        1. Wanda that was the very same scripture a dear friend of mine called and left me a voice mail with today. I love to send random text messages to friends with scripture or to let them know I am thinking of them or a quick prayer. Her message to me so blessed me it encouraged me to do more. Also love the written notes. I have been slacking in that area lately. Feeling it a bit more difficult to do a bit more wrapped up in my own world. Need a different focus and that scripture is perfect. 

      3. oh Nanci–I haven’t had much time here today but just saw this. I am praying for you now. The Lord has been doing something similar, maybe, in me–I feel, like you said, extra fragile–but at the same time, He is gently holding me and saying ‘this is how I want you, weak, dependent on me’–I have had moments lately of feeling not strong enough to stand in my usual self-reliant ways…and then I hear that Voice again that I only need enough strength to fall at His feet. Praying you feel Him holding you closer than ever through this, and that you will be strengthened by Him. For His strength is perfect in our weakness 🙂

      4. Nanci I think there is something in the air:) i can so relate to this post your wrote about feeling fragile and vulnerable. I pray the Lord draws you close during this time. I know I need that too. 

      5. Dear ladies, you bless me so…thank you. 

  23. A. How are our friendships as sisters in Christ different than friendships in the world?
    Just like our FB blog, friendships as sisters in Christ has an openness that transcends space and time. There is a connectivity that comes from being one in Christ (the fellowship of kindred minds is like to that above).  What a small picture of the Trinity’s fellowship and something exciting to look forward to! On the other hand, I find friendships in the world as often on a superficial level. There is a hesitancy to go deepand share from the heart.
    B. What lyric is particularly meaningful to you from “Blest Be The Tie” and why?
    All of it but if I were to choose it would be these:
    Before our Father’s throne,We pour our ardent prayers;Our fears, our hopes, our aims are one,Our comforts, and our cares.
    I have found that my closest ties are with those who pray with me and whose aims are one; that is to seek God’s will in whatever we are praying for.

    1. ‘transcends space and time’    That is priceless, Bing!  What a good way to define our fellowship that ‘is like to that above’.  

    2. Ernema that was the line that struck me as well and for the same reason:)

  24. 1. What stood out to you from the above and why?
     
     
    I loved the video! It is neat that you thought to record the moment. I thought your voices were lovely 🙂 I thought too, how glad I am that I do have a face to face friend who has been an answer to prayer. And that I would like more deep spiritual friends. It seems hard to cultivate the sort of friendships I long for. It makes me look forward to heaven.

    1. Chris, It’s good to see you this morning.  I can’t remember if it was here or on the facebook page that you shared about traveling with your daughter in law to Las Vegas, helping them move.  Have you made the trip?  How did it go?  Have been praying for you.  

  25. (warning-mushy post) I’m surprised by how much it is blessing me to think on the gifts He’s given in friendship, especially through this blog. My “in real life” friends don’t quite get it, but thankfully my husband is a big Dee fan and gives full weight to the beauty of the friendships I have here. Every Sunday on the way to Church, he says “read me Dee”–the blog post. He knows Laura is a liturgical dancer and Diane, a pastors’ wife in Canada. He asks about Wanda’s kids’ foster camp, and knows Susan, Rebecca, and Chris–who I started here with, are counted among my closest, dearest friends. He knows Renee is the “brainy one” and Jackie, Nanci and Nila are rich in depth…we prayed as a family for Bing’s sister Grace, and pray regularly for Mary E.’s healing…I’ll stop so I don’t forget any of you, and don’t fear I’m sharing “secrets”–I’m saying all this just to say he knows how rich my life is because of the wisdom I glean from EACH of you. He asks about you because I share what you teach me–because you really mean that much to me.  He’s seen it change me over the years–Dee’s gospel-centered teaching, and this fellowship. You are all, truly, closer than my biological sisters to me, and I am so thankful. 
     

    1. That is some beautiful mush right there, Lizzy! So warmed my heart reading this! Love how you see these friends as more than just online friends, but they clearly have take a space in that big, beautiful heart of yours. 

    2. This is heartwarming, Lizzy…really!

    3. Lizzy, so sweet. We are having such a blessed time sharing a little with each other here on this blog. How wonderful heaven will be when we all get to meet face to face and have eternity to get to know each other. 

      1. Diane I was not able to respond above but I am having a strong urge to do a bit of traveling and the trip thru Maine may be possible:) I would need a pass port and would have to figure something out for our 14 year old dog who really keeps me staying close to home. He is on 4-5 hour time schedules and I do not have the heart to kennel him. May not be anytime soon but someday I will do that. I was totally blessed to meet Laura dancer last night and that was only a half hour ride as we met in between. So enjoyed that and it was a breath of fresh air in the midst of some pretty heavy days lately.

        1. Liz, I am just seeing this now about you possibly coming thru Maine and needing a passport. Did you mean you may come to Canada? That would be GREAT! Canada’s Atlantic Provinces are beautiful at any season, but especially in the Fall when the maple trees turn red. I’d love to host you or Laura (and anyone else here on the blog)! (I hear you on an aging dog. I understand that your trip may not be soon! I’ll try not to get my hopes up just yet.)

        2. Diane yes I was talking about coming to Canada. Future trip! Something to look forward to. Could not respond to your post and had to respond to mine.

    4. That’s all so sweet, Lizzy!   Your husband must be such a dear too, to take such an interest.   My husband and my best friend hear a lot of references to ‘the blog’ as well and ‘know’ who some of you are also.  “And I think to myself…..’what a wonderful world’ ”     (couldn’t resist when Louie Armstrong’s song just popped into my head here)  

    5. lizzy, you are so funny! my husband knows the blog means a lot to me, but doesn’t really know much more….you are sweet to include us in your family! He knows I pray for you and you for me. I think he appreciates those prayers too. I wish I were driving to Georgia this week instead of flying…..I would come to see you! I usually drive through the western part of the state and, of course, fill my gas tank right before I hit the Georgia line,  near Anderson, with the cheapest gas (usually) in the country! I love your state and governor (she’s my fav gov).

    6. I will always remember your encouragement and “sunflower” name for me. You are a wonderful Blog friend, you pay such close attention and really strive to be a friend to all on here! knowing that another women understands the “issues” I have with my daughter and is not going to judge is a gift!

      1. OH SUNFLOWER CYNDI! I saw one of those giant ones recently and always think of you! I’m having a “parenting moment” right now that I’m sure you could relate to!…and just came on here for a quick glance to refresh my soul–and there you are, what a blessing! 😉 And love that you love your daughters’ company so much…that’s an inspiring dream n to me!

        1. Feel free to fb message me for moral support! 

    7. Lizzy, your heart is so dear…love to you, sister…so thankful for the blessing of your presence.

  26. I have been incredibly blessed with amazing friends throughout my life. I was introduced to Christ my Saviour by a friend at the age of 13. I’ve been nurtured spiritually by many friends. They’ve been my family when my own family did not support me. I have a couple friends whom I know “stick closer than a brother.” Theyll be there even when I don’t want them to be there! In the last 3 years I’ve gotten to know a dear friend whom I’ve connected with more deeply than I ever couldVE imagined, one who desires to search the deeper things of God with me. We’ve found healing through walking through some really tough things together. BUT..something we’ve had to be so careful with, and I am still learning about, is to not depend on her, or have her depend on me. We connect so well it would be easy for me to go to her before God. And I have done that, and learned hard lessons through it. Theres also been the feeling that since I have such an amazing friendship with her, what (and who) more do I need? The Holy Spirit convicted me of this, reminded me that I have never wanted to be one who is not available to others. It has been my prayer for years to become more and more selfless. Now I’m 2,000 miles away and a bit lost, but I have peace. I also have no fear of losing my friendships back home…so long as we seek Him first, I do believe the friendships only deepen..from my experience. 

    1. oh Susie–this is beautiful–you covered so much…so much wisdom here! Love too that a friend led you to Christ at 13, and how the Lord has surrounded you with fellowship amidst the terrible pain in your own family story–love your testimony. And I have to add, you are one of those “newbies” that instantly feels like part of the fellowship and like you’ve always been here…I’ve noticed that though whenever someone comes (and stays past that first post!)…I think it’s evident He brings each of us to this fellowship, because we all really fit, like “family” in the sweetest sense. So thankful you are here, sister…and praying now for that next friend He has for you in your new location 🙂

    2. Susie…..I’m very glad that you have joined us.    I remember how deeply I struggled when we moved many years ago.   I cried day and night and my phone never rang.  It was LONG before cell phones or internet and long distance calls were far more expensive than we could afford.   I have never been so lonely and sad any other time in my life.  It is wonderful that you are jumping in here and have such a balanced attitude even though you’re so far from familiar people in your life.  And I do believe that you will maintain those old friendships and will also gain some new ones.  It’s so GOOD to be able to be a cyber family here also!

      1. Wanda, thank you so very much. Your words mean a lot. I’m always encouraged when I know someone else has been there. That sounds like a really tough time you went through.. I’m still able to communicate with people back home. It is hard to describe with words what the last few months have been like…but I can tell you have been there so I don’t really need to explain. It is a difficult season I’m walking through, some days I’m not sure if I can take another step. Some valleys are deeper and darker, but the the Lord is a gentle Shepherd and I want nothing more than to go where He leads me…

  27. B. What lyric is particularly meaningful to you from “Blest Be The Tie” and why?
    I love this hymn, and always love the part about sharing each other’s burdens and “sympathizing tear”, but honestly something different struck me this time. It’s the “tie”. Thinking about the weight of that “tie”—it is His blood, the gospel, His forgiveness for all of my past, present, future sins. It is the wooing of our Father who loved us so much He sent Christ to rescue me. This “tie” is a grace-filled, glorious, beautiful thing—and it just struck me anew the weight of what actually “ties” us all together….
     

    1. Dee–Earlier today I had a feeling it was something like that or you were sick–thankful you’re well, will pray for repairs!

    2. Glad to know you’re okay, Dee!

    3. Oh….poor Dee Dee.    And that is meant most sincerely!  But so glad that you’re friends came running.   Praying for recovery and that the damage can be repaired without terrible distraction.  Wish we could all come running and help too!

    4. saw that pic! that is why I hopped on here reall quick, I am so glad I did, this is a great lesson and Im glad im not going to miss it! POOR DEE DEE 🙁

    5. Glad you are okay Dee. I saw the blackest skies I have ever seen driving home last night and then found out a father and daughter were killed in a storm up North when a tent collapsed that had hundreds of people under it. 32 more were injured. 

  28. The “tie” is exactly what strikes me too, Lizzy. It’s hard to wrap my head around it. When I think of my years before knowing Christ, I shared a tie/bond with a dear friend who also was not a believer. We shared a fear of death and some evil things happening around us. There was comfort in knowing we were afraid together, though the circumstances were out of our control. When I became a Christian she freaked out at me cuz she no longer had someone to be afraid with..and wasn’t willing to accept this newfound hope at the time. That tie was broken and slowly we went separate ways. This tie that believers share is one that is much deeper and one with much hope. Regardless of the unique circumstances or even where we’re at, physically or spiritually, this tie knows no bounds and yet it’s such a strong bind.. Like you said Lizzy, the gospel, the blood of Christ, the Holy Spirit, ties us believers together. I have wondered what went through the writers mind and heart as this song unfolded.. The mysteries and wonders of God are so great I’m not sure I could really find the words to weave it  into such a beautiful song:) 

    1. Susie–this is a great point too though–there is a bond or “tie” that bind unbelievers too–but “blessed” is the one that ties us! I like the comparison–one is a suffocation tie, the other binds us to Him…and with HOPE like you said!

      1. thank you for summing it up so well, Lizzy! 

        1. This is a sweet way to think about these lyrics that I think will stay with me, thank you Susie & Lizzy!
           

  29. 2. A. How are our friendships as sisters in Christ different than friendships in the world?
    Those friendships are laced with truth, love, and grace.  Conversation and companionship have the underpinning of a foundation in the Lord. 
     
    B. What lyric is particularly meaningful to you from “Blest Be The Tie” and why?
    I looked at this yesterday and pondered.  Today it seems quite clear that the lyric that I find very meaningful is the beginning one, “blest be the tie that binds our Christian hearts in love”.  Why?…it brings to mind the unity of Jesus; we are all one in Him despite differences.  It is the kind of love relationship that is unfathomable in a worldly sense; it is the perfect mix of truth, love, mercy, and grace…unity of heart and mind. Lovely…

  30. 4. What do you think Proverbs 17:9 means and how does it relate to friendship?
     
    Okay, I read 5 different versions of this and finally got to the one I understood! From the amplified bible:
     
    “He who covers and forgives an offense seeks love, but he who repeats or harps on a matter separates even close friends.”
    ‭‭Proverbs‬ ‭17:9‬ ‭AMP‬‬
     
    I think it means that when we mess up in a friendship, the friends are to forgive and forget, otherwise bringing it back up over and over will damage the friendship.

  31. 3. Read Proverbs 17 in one sitting and comment on any verses that quicken you.
     
    17:1 Better a dry crust with peace and quiet than a house full of feasting with strife – a powerful word picture here. What pleasure is there in a good meal if there is dissension between those at the table? And I’ve experienced that…it’s not a good time.
     
    17:3 The crucible for silver and the furnace for gold, but the Lord tests the heart – this implies that the testing of the Lord is a refining, a burning away of things in my heart that don’t belong there.
     
    17:6 Children’s children are a crown to the aged, and parents are the pride of their children – I know how much pleasure the grandchildren bring to my parents, how much they love spending time with them.
     
    17:9 He who covers over an offense promotes love – it is possible to have so much nit-picking in a marriage (dirty socks lying on the floor) but choosing not to gripe and complain does promote love. When I was first married, I also would often complain to my mom about my husband…thankfully I have learned through God’s Word that isn’t a good thing to do. I still get tempted in this, though not to complain to my mom, but maybe to my sister or a friend. I’ve learned it’s best to talk to God about it! Then He can redirect me to look at myself:))
     
    4. What do you think Proverbs 17:9 means and how does it relate to friendship?
     
    In any friendship, there will be times when an “offense”, or difference, happens. It’s best to speak to that friend privately and talk it through. If I have problem with friend A, and instead of talking to her I tell friend B about it, then friend B may begin to see friend A differently because she may take my side against friend A. If friend A finds out I talked about her to friend B, she’ll be upset. …but whoever repeats the matter separates close friends. But I think that we, as women, can be so prone to this! This is a warning to think before you speak.

    1. I love & identify with your thoughts on this Susan“He who covers over an offense promotes love”

  32. Just read a little further in the above, and I agree, this stands out to me, too: “When you are with someone, talk about them and not about others.” I remember a couple of years ago as I was reading through Genesis, and I don’t even remember the passage, but I believe it was in Joseph’s story, that I wrote out sort of a prayer/talk with the Lord that morning about being convicted that in my relationship with one person, one thing we had in common was to talk about another person, and I did not have a heart to really pray for the person we gossiped about and wasn’t seeking what was best for them, but only using their mistakes as topics of conversation with the other and as a way to bond us together…it wasn’t right. It fed my approval idol. Such a good and timely reminder again today.

  33. WARNING..THIS IS ME VENTING AND PROCESSING. I underlined the stuff that is Bible study related 🙂
    This was such a timely time for me to hop back on here. My summer has been SO CRAZY! It was supposed to be a time to refresh and renew and instead I have had 3 ER visits, a basement leaked and ruined a lot of keepsakes from my childhood, Ellie has had VB almost every day, and babysitting jobs (she does not drive yet, today she takes her test) I have 2 students in my ministry that are in great mental health crisis, and one is pressing charges against a father who abused her since she was 7. I am speaking at a conference this weekend, leading a womens group on tuesdays that I had to prepare for,….I say all this to say this I HAVE NO TIME FOR FRIENDS! I really really really want to, and I do have one that has come over a few times this summer to watch the kids swim which has been a breath of fresh air.
    a walk with a kindred spirit, a talk at the park, a few sweet stolen moments
    I once had a friend tell me that she did not want to be my project, she wanted to be my friend, I used to think it was my responsibility to make everyone in my world happy! I have fired myself form that job!
     
     I now understand my introverted husband much better! I find myself going to bed at 10 with a house FULL of people (last night there were 7 watching a movie at 10 when i went to bed) just to reboot and getting up at 7 to have a min. to myself (this morning one of them was up and waiting for me cuz she needed to talk before she went to work at 8)
     
    If I can  choose to spend time with anyone it is my oldest daughters. I would way rather spend a day with Abby or Ellie then anyone else in the world. Im wondering if that is wrong? I just really like them and its fun to be with them. Time is just such a factor. If I have free moments I will chose my husband or my grown daughter over a “friend” Is it just my stage of life? It feels like ALL my friends that I used to hang out with when the kids were little are now so busy with jobs, grown kids, and highschoolers that they dont have time for “hanging out” together either.

    1. Cyndi, just reading everything you’re involved in makes me tired!! You have a full plate, flowing over, for sure. I see the same dilemma in getting together with friends, and I have a couple of friends who are in their 60’s and their children are grown and married, and they are still so busy that we have to schedule a month in advance just to get together. It seems that being busy is a way of life in our society today. I so fondly remember my years at home with my parents, and my mom did not work outside of the home, and she had many friends, and several really good friends. Every week, at least once or twice a week, she and a friend, or two, would be at the kitchen table over a pot of coffee, visiting. Or, in the summer months, some of the women neighbors would walk over and visit on the front porch in the evenings. I knew few moms who had jobs outside of the home; my sisters and I weren’t involved in lots of activities and my mom didn’t spend all her time chauffering us around; we walked to school and my mom, though she was always there for me, didn’t make her children her social life. Things are just different today, and I’m not sure it’s all for the better.

      1. not for the best at all! even when my kids were little i was able to do a lot more visiting! I know what you mean about having to plan a month in advance…sigh…

    2. I agree with Dee Cyndi, cherish that bond with your daughters, they may not always be physically close to you. I love spending time with my grown sons, I so miss when they lived at home. Having just retuned from moving one of them over 2,000 from home I feel this deeply today…enjoy your girls!

    1. Dee, can I get to you via email? I am SO happy again to see how God is your husband and covers you so! LOVE to hear of how everyone came running and you are okay. Thank you Lord for protecting Dee, for how over and over again you are a kind and protective husband to her. Thank you.

    2. Dee, I was praying for you yesterday morning during my walk…not being able to “see” the storm damage or know exactly what kind of help you needed/need, but prayed for the Lord to send help and surround you with those who love and care!

  34. Keller sees a contrast, that friends will truly love you at all times, but a brother will be there for you, even if he doesn’t particularly enjoy being with you. Thoughts? 
     
    So, I am trying to do as others and think of a biblical example to answer this question before I just give my standard “Laura” story. The only “friends” that come to mind first are those of Job. They did stand by him, albeit with wrong advice. But, did Job have siblings who were there? I remember his wife telling him to give it up (so supportive), but I don’t remember siblings. 
     
    I suppose the prodigal son story might be a good example? The friends came to the fathers party, and the older son hung back. did he ever concede? I can’t remember that either. Getting so old…..
     
    Anyway, my thoughts…..my sister and I aren’t too close. We are very different people; not much in common. We are there for each other when we need to be. We don’t just talk to talk. I would never call her at 2 in the morning! I am planning to install my parents headstone at their grave this weekend and I believe my siblings are probably “all set” with me and my shanigans with this whole ordeal. They don’t seem to see it as I do. I feel like I am honoring my parents, and my sister doesn’t think it matters. My brother is less vocal about his feelings, but I suspect he wants it over since I made the plans and took it all over. I don’t blame him here. I can be determined and sometimes forget others :/
     
    My best friend though, that’s another story! She and I talk several times a week and have very meaningful conversations. We live a great distance apart and don’t get to see each other very often. We have a lot in common, including our faith. I would call her anytime at all. So to answer the question, yes, I agree with Keller. Friends are always there, and siblings are when they have to be.

    1. Laura, I like your “Laura stories”! I think you are doing a beautiful thing to honor your parents with a headstone, and even if you’re the only one who really finds it meaningful, you give honor to them for the wonderful parents they were to you and you are doing what is good in the sight of God, who tells us to honor our mother and our father. Praying for safe travels for you! Are you taking Sarah along with you?

      1. thanks Susan! I do have Sarah here 🙂

  35. 3. Read Proverbs 17 in one sitting and comment on any verses that quicken you.
    27: The one who has knowledge uses words with restraint, and whoever has understanding is even-tempered. This verse quickened me, a wonderful verse to memorize.  I could be mistaken but I think this is an encouragement to us in our encounters with others who disagree with us? This is someone who speaks but is very careful about what she says. I guess pondering and discerning before speaking to another person. 
     
    I think the Gospel so permeates her that instead of having an angry disposition she has a kind disposition and is kind to someone else who disagrees even though she knows the truth. She is confident God has this, and she knows she too is like the other person had it not been for God giving her understanding and Grace-His Kindness so majestically displayed on the cross! So His Love restrains them from being angry and compells her to love and I think back to Song of Songs-the fruit in the vineyard in bloom..Her furit is flowering with His love and kindness. The second part of the verse says she is ‘even tempered’..she is obviously a person not given to anger and has a calm demeanor.
     
     
    4. What do you think Proverbs 17:9 means and how does it relate to friendship?
    I could be wrong but I think it is a contrast between a friend who truly forgives an offense-Above all, keep fervent in your love for one another, because love covers a multitude of sins.- as opposed to a friend who keeps bringing up the offense. It is when we aren’t secure in His Love that we find it hard to overlook an offense and believe me we are prone to this and are also prone to be the one offending the other. We need Grace from our friends. Love gives Grace and  freedom to fail and room to grow. If we are secure in His Love for us-yet while we were sinners Christ died for us-then we will show our friends more Grace and forgiveness and just love them anyway. Our friendships will blossom and our friends won’t run away from us. 🙂
     
    -I apologize that this is so long..I don’t have time to edit.
     

    1. Rebecca, thank you for pulling this particular verse out of Proverbs 17, and for your good explanation. I am now pondering has knowledge and understanding of what? As you said, it is the gospel, and knowing that you are loved by Him and that He has this…that must be what can help us be even-tempered and use restraint with our words. And yes, to realize that we are a sinner just like the other person we may disagree with. Oh…I can think back to a family gathering where my sister said something mean to me and I reacted with a hot temper, which isn’t like me to do, but it was a “knee jerk” reaction and I was later sorry for it because it just escalated and ruined the whole day. Even when I tried to apologize she wouldn’t accept my apology.

      1. Oh Susan, it is SO difficult to restrain when someone says something mean to you-we all do that! Hopefully you don’t feel bad because really you did the right thing in apologizing to her…the ball then is in her court. I hate though that you were hurt-you are such a sweet and gentle soul!! I just love you.
        This morning I am seeing the reason this verse popped out at me is because God knows the inner workings of my heart in regard to handling others who disagree with me in certain areas-at this season in my life it is in regard to scriptural issues-those some refuse to see like Jesus being in the center of Song of Songs…It used to be political areas-OH I WAS A MESS!! BUT HE RESCUED ME. 🙂 Now I can struggle inwardly with believers who are legalistic and won’t budge. Just a few days ago I was talking to a friend of 30 years and she read into something another friend loved about Ann Voskamps book-the sexual METAPHOR part. To put it short-she TOTALLY misunderstood the metaphor and took it as this friend believes in having sex with God-oh my!! She took it literally no matter how this friend explained it to her. So instead of holding my tongue I jumped in and started defending my friend-with passion, telling her what the metaphor meant, but it didn’t matter-I was slamming seeds into concrete. I can get SO frustrated inwardly with that for when the truth is right there-IT IS A METAPHOR-yet they hold to their thinking probably telling others what they think that person meant giving a false picture of that person..It has to grieve God.  Even though maintained a calm disposition, inwardly I was fuming, so my calm disposition was really pasted on fruit in that moment!!  SO I need to have immersed myself so in Him daily that He changes me more that that calmness is on the inside too for it is HE who opens eyes, not me! Who knows, I most likely would have felt like she did a long time ago had He not so graciously opened my eyes! 🙂
         
        Again-Susan, this is scattered a bit but I have to go take Jake to the orthodontist! 🙂 

      2. Susan, I understand what you are saying.  Ill words were communicated between a family member and I 16 months ago; neither she nor I have apologized since that time and it remains unresolved.  We recently had a family gathering where we avoided each other with “silent treatment” on both our parts…very awkward.  I have been feeling prompted to make the first move and apologize…so many things from last week’s study and this week’s study are direct hits in moving me to action.  As Rebecca said, if a sincere and genuine apology is given, then that is all I can do and we will see where it goes from there.

        1. Oh Nanci, 16 months is a long time…praying the Lord will show you what should be your first step!

  36.   Sun- Makes my heart so happy to see a long time friendship! 
    2. It is nice because you have the same goals and so much in common when you are both believers and it’s neat to think your friendship will extend past this side of heaven.
    3. Love vs 17. How easy it can be to love when they are loving you but to be a friend when it is hard or maybe feels one sided that’s true friendship. I think we let our feelings get hurt to easily. 
    4. I think it might be talking about gossip. Love the quote about talking about the people you are with not those who aren’t there. How easy it is to get caught up in the sin of gossip.

  37. 1.   Read Proverbs 17 in one sitting and comment on any verses that quicken you.
    V. 9 …whoever repeats the matter separates close friends. I have seen this play out in my life and others close to me and the hurt it brought was heartbreaking. I am thankful to God for redeeming situations and bringing out the good.
     
    2.   What do you think Proverbs 17:9 means and how does it relate to friendship?
    Whoever would foster love covers over an offense,     but whoever repeats the matter separates close friends.

    I had difficulty putting my thoughts into words so I looked up Matthew Henry’s commentary and I like what he said here: “The way to preserve peace among relations and neighbours is to make the best of every thing, not to take notice of what has been said or done against them when it is not at all necessary to their safety, nor to take notice of what has been said or done against ourselves, but to excuse both, and put the best construction upon them. “It was an oversight; therefore overlook it. It was done through forgetfulness; therefore forget it. It perhaps made nothing of you; do you make nothing of it.” 2. The ripping up of faults is the ripping out of love, and nothing tends more to the separating of friends, and setting them at variance, than the repeating of matters that have been in variance; for they commonly lose nothing in the repetition, but the things themselves are aggravated and the passions about them revived and exasperated. The best method of peace is by an amnesty or act of oblivion.”

     

     

     
     

      1. Your comment, Dee brought a wide smile on my face yesterday. Especially since I had a “bug” that made me visit the bathroom several times. My husband was gone for 2 days. God knew I needed an encouraging word.

        1. i smiled too Bing!

        2. I smiled too 🙂

  38. My favorite line in the song was “Before our Fathers throne we pour our ardent prayers” I have to say the majority of the time I spend with friends is walking and praying (prayer walking) or visiting over a cup of tea or coffee and more prayer. There is such a bond in that.

  39. 5. A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity. I looked up Matthew Henry’s commentary:
     
    No change of outward circumstances should abate our affection for our friends or relatives. But no friend, except Christ, deserves unlimited confidence. In Him this text did receive, and still receives its most glorious fulfilment.
     
    Honestly, I used to think this verse meant that often your friends are closer to you than a brother or sister, that “born for adversity” meant you might not get along with your brother or sister! I do see in Henry’s commentary that Jesus, our Brother, was truly born for adversity…He came to take on all the things we couldn’t handle on our own, and still lives and is with us in times of joy and adversity.

    1. This picture of the verse pointing to Jesus, our Brother, by Matthew Henry, is lovely. thanks for sharing it, Susan.

  40. 6, prov. 18:21
    the tongue has the power of life and death….
    .prov. 18:12 
    before his downfall a mans heart is proud but humility comes before honor…
    these two stood out to me because often our tongue gets out of control when our pride is out of control. If we are insecure and trying to prove how smart we are our tongue brings death but humble people are willing to speak love and support and kindness into peoples lives. I think that often insecurity is the same coin but opposite side of pride. they come from the same place….the place of needing to feel good about who we are in our own merit rather then resting in who we are under GOD. 

    1. Yes, cyndi. I agree that insecurity is the same coin but opposite side of pride — needing to feel good about who we are in our own merit. Good insight.

    2. “willing to speak love and support and kindness into peoples lives”I long to grow in this…

  41.  
    6. Read Proverbs 18 in one sitting and share any verses that quicken you and why.   
     
    “The one who states his case first seems right, until the other comes and examines him.”
    ‭‭Proverbs‬ ‭18:17‬ ‭ESV‬‬
     
    I try to see others’ sides in conflicting situations, sometimes almost to a fault. At times, I am convicted by their ideas and change my mind! I call that growth 🙂  I think it’s a good thing to educate yourself and make decisions based on that education.
     
    7. What principle does Proverbs 18:1-2 teach?
     
    “Whoever isolates himself seeks his own desire; he breaks out against all sound judgment. A fool takes no pleasure in understanding, but only in expressing his opinion.”
    ‭‭Proverbs‬ ‭18:1-2‬ ‭ESV‬‬
     
    I think when you are focused entirely on yourself you lose perspective. When I was younger and less spiritual, I realized this (somehow) and would say to myself that I needed to “get out of myself” and look for others to help. When I would do this, my troubles seemed to be lessened at least somewhat. 
     
    The second verse reminds me to “walk a mile in another’s shoes,” because I tend to think I have the only good idea!

  42. 3. Read Proverbs 17 in one sitting and comment on any verses that quicken you.  MANY.  But I’ll highlight these.   17:5 He who mocks the poor shows contempt for their maker… The more I read the Word, the more I see that caring for the poor, seeking justice for the poor is a prolific theme in Scripture. There is FAR more teaching about this than on many other issues that seem to dominate many circles of Christian thought. But do we really pause to realize that if we don’t care for those among us, we are showing contempt for the Lord? I guess that’s what Jesus meant when He said, whatever you do for the least of these, you do for Me.
     
    17: 14:  Starting a quarrel is compared to causing a hole in the dam.  Advice is to drop the matter before it breaks out.  Ouch.  That’s a hard one for me to follow.  Mostly, with my husband.  When I was newly married, I had a friend tell me something that had been told to her. ‘Sometimes, you just have to let things roll off like water on a duck’s back’.   Believe it or not, once in awhile, I actually do pause and think of that statement, over 3 decades later.  And when I do, the outcomes are generally better. 
     
    17:15:   Acquitting the guilty and condemning the innocent—the Lord detests them both.  Self explanatory, but powerful.
     
     
    17:27:  A man of knowledge uses words with restraint, and a man of understanding is even-tempered.   Reading this, immediately puts in my mind a picture of a pastor/long time family friend I know.  (Renee knows him too as he was one of our teachers at Bible School).  It is said of him, that he “doesn’t say a lot.  But when he does, it’s worth hearing.”  Being quiet and contemplative is a quality I admire and for good reason.  The old adage attributed to Augustine?  never say anything unless it improves the silence  OR preach always and if necessary use words comes to mind here too.

  43. 4. What do you think Proverbs 17:9 means and how does it relate to friendship?
    Proverbs 17:9 is telling us to be forgiving rather than unforgiving, to not allow grudges that will spawn bitterness and resentment.  In the context of friendship, it is understanding that each of us are individuals with strengths and weaknesses, we are bound to offend or let our friend down at some time and be in need of forgiveness.  Someone mentioned in a previous comment…thinking the best of our friend rather than the worst.  As we appreciate the grace of forgiveness, we too should provide grace.