We Are Not Like Them by Christine Pride and Jo Piazza– Book Review

I’m choosing to review this book, not because it is Christian, but because it is important. It describes a situation that is tragic — a black teenager is shot and killed by two policemen. He doesn’t hear their calls to stop because he is wearing ear buds, as he reaches into his pocket for his cell phone, they assume the worst and respond with deadly force. The story is told from the point of view of two protagonists — the black journalist who is assigned to cover the shooting, and her best friend –the wife of one of the policemen. (this book also has two authors, one white and one black) Both sides of the question are presented honestly. The real difficulty, it seems, is a failure to communicate difficult feelings, feelings that are hard to accept and understand. Bringing them into the open is key to resolving issues around race in our society today.

We Are Not Like Them: A Novel by [Christine Pride, Jo Piazza]

Will these two women be able to remain friends? The question is left unanswered, but they are trying. Is there an outcome to this kind of situation that will satisfy everyone? Probably not. One thing is clear — race is an issue that must be brought into the light and discussed, and the only possible solution is a very Christian virtue — love.

There are discussion questions at the end, and this would make an excellent book club read.

VERDICT: 5 STARS. Excellent and thought-provoking. It’s a new book that you can probably check out of your local library.

For more book reviews see:

,Transcendent Kingdom by Yaa Gyasi–Book Review

A Couple of Good Books

Grace by William Kent Krueger–Book Review

Walking With Jesus–Devotion #10

Greater love hath no man than this that he lay down his life for a friend.” John 15:13

How many of us would follow through with the above Bible verse? Would you give up your life for another person?

Someone once said, “It is a good thing to be rich, and a good thing to be strong: but it is a better thing to be loved by many friends.” Did you ever want someone to be your best friend? You tried everything, but they did not want to have you for their friend. And that hurts. But, wait a minute, don’t we all have one very best friend that we sometimes forget about? Someone who will stick closer to you than a brother? That someone is Jesus.

There are “fair-weather” friends. Maybe someone in school who knows you are a good student. They may want you to be their “friend” if you give them your homework paper. But later it turns out that they will have nothing to do with you. They are like the honey bees sipping the nectar of your generosity only to leave you high and dry. They associate with you only for a while as long as you give them what they want. But as soon as something happens to you and you need their help, they can’t be bothered.

Do you remember the song, “What a Friend We Have in Jesus”? (Story Behind the Song: What a friend we have in Jesus!). Look it up in the Lutheran Worship hymnal, it’s #516. What comforting words are in those three verses. Whatever we need, that need will be supplied by our friend, Jesus. But we must trust in Him always.

Although you may live in a very small house or in the finest of mansions, you can be wealthy with friends. You can know the friend of all people. You can tell others about Him.

For more posts about friendship see:

Make a Friend, Be a Friend, Bring your friend to Christ

Jesus, Our Friend

Friends in the Lord

Two Are Better Than One

The phrase that stands out for me in Chapter 4 of Ecclesiastes is “two are better than one.”  Ecclesiastes 4:9.  To get the entire idea you must read further:

Two are better than one,
because they have a good return for their labor:
10 If either of them falls down,
one can help the other up.
But pity anyone who falls
and has no one to help them up.
11 Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm.
But how can one keep warm alone?
12 Though one may be overpowered,
two can defend themselves.
A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.”  Ecclesiastes 4:9-12

Of course, this is a section of Scripture often read at marriages.  Having just celebrated my 49th anniversary, I certainly agree that life has been better with a companion to walk and stand with me, to help me up when I feel weak or discouraged.

However, I think it also appeals to me because teamwork is one of my core values (see L. A. T. C. H. On To Your Core Values). I’ve seen T-E-A-M used as an acronym to say “together everyone accomplishes more.”  I truly enjoy working with a group, and  I’ve completed projects with other people that I would never have considered doing on my own.  Genesis tells us:

“The LORD God also said, “It is not good for the man to be alone….”Genesis 2:18

We were created to be in relationship with others — and with God!  That’s the reason “a cord of three strands is not quickly broken.”  God strengthens any relationship He joins.  In fact, without God, our ties to one another quickly fall apart.  Only with God’s help can we remain forgiving, self-sacrificing, and loving.

If you have a spouse, a dear friend, a helpful co-worker, a cherished sibling, give thanks!  Two are always better than one!

For more on the book of Ecclesiastes see:

A Time to Die

Hoping for Something New?

God Moments in Ecclesiastes

 

Friendship Promises – Book Review

Founded in 2009, (in)Courage is a community that supports thousands of women daily. This book in their library is meant to be given as a gift.

The presentation is very feminine. The pink cloth exterior lettered in the gold script makes for a beautiful presentation. It is very elegant and makes a thoughtful gift for any friend that is also meaningful.

The book showcases reflections, biblical scripture, and has amazing graphics. The book’s premise is that it is a promise between the gifter and giftee to promote encouragement, authenticity, a promise to be present for each other and to be rooted in Christ.

I give this book 4 stars

You may purchase this book at the link below:

https://www.lifeway.com/en/product/friendship-promises-P005809898

I have received a free copy of this book in return for an honest and fair review – Disclaimer pursuant to FTC 16 CFR Part 255

Make a Friend, Be a Friend, Bring your friend to Christ

My recent post, The Rub, made me think about a song we often use on Via de Cristo retreat weekends — “Shake a Friend’s Hand.”  Part of the weekend message is that we influence people for Christ only when we are willing to become a friend.  We have to rub against them in a tangible way.  This song is a childish one that is often used on Saturday evening when we’ve all become tired and a bit silly.  However, it expresses the theme well.  Enjoy it and become childish in a good way, by accepting everyone you meet as a possible friend.

Loving Motivation

“But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.”  II Timothy 3:14-15

This was the epistle reading in church last Sunday, and the words I highlighted jumped out for me.  It made me think about all the people who’ve taught me about the faith.  What was their motivation to do so?

For many people, learning starts at home at a young age.  Maybe your mother sings hymns, you sit beside your father in the pew, your grandparents give you a Bible or read the Bible to you.  Studies have revealed that when someone is asked this question: “who had the greatest influence on my faith?”, the most frequent answer is “my mother.”  Surely this teaching is motivated by the love called “storge,”  family love, duty, affection.  This love may have its’ ups and downs, but it never stops caring.  Many parents want their children to know about God because they love them in this way. Paul’s acolyte, Timothy, learned in this way because Paul says to him:

I am reminded of your sincere faith, a faith that dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice and now, I am sure, dwells in you as well.”  II Timothy 1:5

Growing in faith can be part of married life also.  “Eros” is a love which desires closeness and union.  How can we be fully one, if we are not both one in Christ?  This kind of love will create a natural desire to share in everything, to teach the other to love Christ as they do.  Peter says:

“Likewise, wives, be subject to your own husbands, so that even if some do not obey the word, they may be won without a word by the conduct of their wives…”  1 Peter 3:1

Then there are our friends.  With them we share “philea” or brotherly love.  In Via de Cristo there is a saying, “make a friend, be a friend, bring a friend to Christ.”  Most people who are unchurched, come to worship for the first time because a friend invited them.  Because we love our friends, we want them to share in the joy of fellowship with Christ.  We invite them to do the things that have been most meaningful in our own faith walk.

Finally, there are loads of people who share Christ simply because they love everyone as He did.  Dedicated Sunday School teachers, youth leaders, pastors, choir directors and others.  This is agape love, with no motive except to serve and edify others.

So it seems to me that some sort of love is the motive behind all Christian teaching.  No wonder the Bible says “God is love.  How would we learn about His love, how would we begin to experience it, without the love of others who spread it?  Think about the many people from whom you have learned.  Give thanks for their love.

 

 

Improve Your Health, Make a Friend

God did not make us to be alone.  Studies bear this out (not a surprise.)  Here are some of the ways that relationships help to make and keep us healthy.

What are the benefits of friendships?

Good friends are good for your health. Friends can help you celebrate good times and provide support during bad times. Friends prevent loneliness and give you a chance to offer needed companionship, too. Friends can also:

  • Increase your sense of belonging and purpose
  • Boost your happiness and reduce your stress
  • Improve your self-confidence and self-worth
  • Help you cope with traumas, such as divorce, serious illness, job loss or the death of a loved one
  • Encourage you to change or avoid unhealthy lifestyle habits, such as excessive drinking or lack of exercise

Friends also play a significant role in promoting your overall health. Adults with strong social support have a reduced risk of many significant health problems, including depression, high blood pressure and an unhealthy body mass index (BMI). Studies have even found that older adults with a rich social life are likely to live longer than their peers with fewer connections.

Iron Sharp

This article was originally published in The Lutheran Ambassador and also reprinted with permission in The Lutheran Digest.

The book of Proverbs tells us:

A friend loves at all times.”

It’s hard to imagine who wouldn’t want that kind of acceptance, isn’t it?  Yet recent studies reveal that 25 percent of Americans have no close friends at all;  another 19 percent have only one confidante (usually their spouse);  and that these unfortunate trends have been increasing over the past 20 years.

A good friend can be an important element in our spiritual life and development.  Now, by good friend I don’t mean the kind of friendly acquaintance with whom we share some common interests or activities.  A true soul friend knows us and accepts us as we really are.  We are honest and vulnerable with them.  We trust them to hear our confessions and keep our confidences.  They love us no matter what, and they always point us toward Jesus.

David found such a friend in Jonathan, who “helped him find strength in God.” (1 Samuel 23:16).  One author says, these are the friends who make us “run hard after God.”

I have been blessed by a number of spiritual friendships, including a long-lasting relationship with my college roommate, Nancy.  We don’t see each other very often because we are busy people who no longer share a room or go to classes together.  We stay in touch by writing letters and sending emails.  Once or twice a year, we meet at a church about midway between our homes.

We bring our lunch and eat together.  We pray.  We share our experiences.  We talk openly about our families, our problems, our joys and our struggles.  Nancy rarely tells me what she thinks I should do,  Instead she asks me to consider what God would have me do.

“As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.” Proverbs 27:17

Nancy sharpens my awareness of God.  Meeting with her and writing to her becomes a spiritual practice, a life-giving activity that helps me notice how God is working in my life.

Some spiritual friendships, like my friendship with Nancy, just seem to evolve and deepen over time.  When this happens, it’s a bit of God’s grace.  Give thanks if you already have this blessing!  However, we can also be intentional in our pursuit of sould friends.

If you do not have such a friend, pray about it and see who God brings across your path.  You might start by asking someone you know and trust to become a prayer partner.  Meet regularly, share concerns, pray with each other and for each other.  You will be amazed to find your friendship drawing you closer to your true self, closer to other Christians, and closer to God.

Friends in the Lord

We sang this song in church recently for some members who are moving.  They’ve belonged to St. Paul’s for fifty years!  This is a good reminder that relationships rooted n Christ never end.

The Threefold Cord

“Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil.  For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow.  But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up! Again, if two lie together, they will keep warm, but how can one keep warm alone?  And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him — a threefold cord is not quickly broken.”  Ecclesiastes 4:9-12

Something is drawing me back to Ecclesiastes, the book that Leslie blogged extensively about last month. The verses above have been used to describe the unions of both marriage and friendship. When we go back to the very beginning, God said,

“It is not good that the man should be alone;  I will make him a helper fit for him.”  Genesis 2:18

According to the author of Ecclesiastes we’re meant to live in relationship, in union with others.  With a friend or a mate, life is easier, safer and more comfortable. We will be happier and accomplish more. But did you notice anything else?  In every relationship there must be a third component — that’s God.  God is the glue that holds every human union together.  Without Him, we’re bound to eventually break apart on the rocks of our own selfishness and sin.  It’s the third strand in the cord that keeps them going.

So, we don’t need to just have a relationship with God, we need to make God a part of every relationship in our life.  Peace, joy, patience, kindness, love, self-control–no union survives without them, and we can’t manufacture them on our own.  They’re gifts of the Holy Spirit.  So as Charles Spurgeon once said, “Let the lion out of the cage.”  Don’t keep God penned up except for Sunday mornings–let Him into your marriage, your friendships, your workplace, your family.  Let Him transform all those relationships.