Tuesday, September 25, 2012

A Reformer or Rogue (Part 4)

What is the difference between EMERGING leaders and ESTABLISHED leaders?  Proven leadership.

There's something to be said about STABILITY and CREDIBILITY.  However, those very things can create generational tension for younger leaders who are bursting with new ideas and have a different view of ORGANIZATIONAL allegiance and RELATIONAL loyalty. 

What RELATIONSHIP means to my father's generation and my daughters generation can mean two different things. 

The younger generation CRAVES a father/son covering.  They are not interested in mere institutional independence...they are interested in living and dying for a CAUSE.  

They will die for a MAN...but not for an institution. The younger generation of ministers aren't merely seeking for leadership they're seeking for MENTORS to assist them with RESOURCES regarding CHURCH GROWTH MANAGEMENT and RELATIONAL NETWORKING.

Perhaps the key for organizational growth or should we say SURVIVAL is to harness the enthusiasm of our youth through the channels of RELATIONAL MENTORING regardless of the umbrella/affiliation used.

The future of our fellowship is both COLORFUL and without GENDER BIAS.  If we are to have any hope of connecting the dots and seeing GENERATIONAL IMPACT catapulted from the launchpad of APOSTOLIC REFORMATION (true father/son principle) then we cannot shove OLD SCHOOL politics and positional agendas down their throats or we'll strangle the last drop of energy out of them...and what then?

We must intentionally EMBRACE
RELEASE the next generation.

The Scriptures reveal to us that Apostles and Elders were not necessarily chosen because of their age, but because of the favor of the Spirit on them.  I believe we must have BOTH EMERGING and ESTABLISHED leadership at the helm...IF we are to avoid becoming STAGNANT and STALEMATED.

The future is bright...It is conceivable to me that a return to the values that launched the Pentecostal movement  is certain. Our roots still resonate with a passion for church planting, world missions and raising up new leaders!  We are MORE than a preachers union or an institution of self preservation.

We have a PURPOSE and a PLACE in this end time KINGDOM ASSIGNMENT!  To achieve it, we must not only RECOGNIZE where we are but we must be willing to use this knowledge to make the SHIFT.

I'm committed to see a REBIRTH in missions and church planting as well as the RISE of a generation that values RELATIONSHIP over structure.

"One generation shall praise thy works to another, and shall declare thy mighty acts." Psalms 145:4

Monday, September 24, 2012

The Christian Discount? (Part 1)

When is it appropriate to ask for a discount? 

Suppose, you're an entrepreneur with a strong work ethic and a reputable business...you get a call from a fellow church member requesting your services.  After you give your estimate, the fellow church member asks "What's my Christian discount?"

The question seems to suggest that they feel entitled to get an even cheaper price than they've been told...simply because they are a fellow Christian.

Question: How do they know that the price isn't already discounted?

After more thought, perhaps the business owner should be extra cautious BEFORE they enter into any business dealings with fellow church members.  

We all have to make a living and we are all looking for a good deal.  I like getting a deal as much as the next guy, but I also like blessing those who help me.  So, if at all possible, perhaps I should consider giving MORE to my fellow Christian (Business) brother/sister rather than trying to get them to discount their price.

Of course, that may not always be possible, but imagine if we all did this...our community would be a better place.


God's blessings can't be "gotten" by us TAKING them by our own initiative, but rather they should be RECEIVED when they appear.

John 3:27 "John answer and said, A man can receive nothing, except it be given him from heaven."

A gift can only be received if it is given.  If it is taken, then it really isn't a gift in the first place. For example, if a child takes a $20 bill out of his father's wallet, it is a much different thing than if the father gave the child a $20 gift - or even the same $20 bill for that matter.  Because the child took the $20, he also stole his father's ability to give it to him and lost the opportunity for it to be received.


The discount isn't the issue for me...it's the sense of "entitlement."  I guess that's what really irks me about people who feel they "deserve" a discount.  The same spirit is in many churches today.  "What's the church going to do for me?"

Honestly, I don't have any problem negotiating prices with a contractor...but It just doesn't sit well with me when people seem to think they deserve a discount based on the fact that they are a Christian.

I assume that if I've called a fellow believer to give me an estimate, for work that I need done, they probably already have a reputation of being honest, efficient, fair and skilled.  More than likely, they are going to be more than fair towards me and they may even lose money because the job may become more involved than anticipated.

When speaking with business owners, you have no idea how many people tell them "will you cut me a break in price because I'm your (fill in the blank) friend, cousin, neighbor, co-worker, old classmate, etc."  Some business owners have had to stop doing work for some people because it causes hard feelings when they don't give them a bigger discount than they already are.

Friend, let's be fair in our dealings with all people.  Christian or non-Christian.  If we are the customer, let's not play the "ask for a discount" game in an attempt to take advantage of someone's good nature.  If we are a business owner, let's treat our clients fair and consider...

Galatians 6:10 "As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith."

If you would like more information about our Kingdom Builders Ministry, a ministry for business entrepreneurs, contact Eric Merkel at kingdombuilders@bfwc.net

Friday, September 21, 2012

A Reformer or Rogue? (Part 3)

RELATIONAL ACCOUNTABILITY continues to be a buzz phrase within denominations and those seeking authentic relational connection with like minded leaders.

Perhaps our best ORGANIZATIONAL efforts have grown beyond our capacity to relationally connect leaders with grass-roots ministers.

With the increase of DISCONNECTION it is not a shock that there is a CRY for RELATIONAL RESPONSIBILITY.  Words like mentors, coaching, brotherhood, father/son...keep surfacing which suggests to me that there is a deep desire for TRUSTED RELATIONSHIPS.

Jesus operated in the principle of 1, 3, 12, 70 and Multitude.  He had three inner-circle friends that He took with Him nearly everywhere He went.  If we are to operate in the same, then those who are closest to us, more than likely, will KNOW us, our FEELINGS, our STRUGGLES and even our FAILINGS.

This is where we see a rise of smaller NETWORKS that are not bound by the constraints of denominational affiliation (i.e., doctrinal statements or a structure of leadership and control.) but rather bound by FUNCTION. (i.e., healthy congregational ministry and church planting.)

Every leader understands the need to have people over them.  That is a given.  But there is also the need for HORIZONTAL ACCOUNTABILITY which provides an opportunity to voluntarily submit yourself to your peers.

Accountability is not guaranteed by any certain relationship since the relationship itself does not have the ability to hold us accountable.  We must MAKE ourselves accountable.  Unless one willingly submits to another, the VULNERABILITY of a renegade life remains.  

Transparency, openness, honesty and the like can never be imposed; rather, they come from a sense of the fear of the Lord.

Perhaps some of our leading denominational pastors can best serve their fellowships by combining the RESOURCES provided by the denomination with the FLEXIBILITY and SPECIALIZATION they can tailor to the needs of a certain group.

If we are to become RELATIONALLY CONNECTED then how awesome would it be if that connection took place with people who carry a similarity of values and passion?

Some networks may best serve leaders who have a passion for racial reconciliation or a passion for generational bridging, etc. 

The bottom line is that when we are committed to advancing HIS KINGDOM...then we may even step into the arena of a CROSS-DENOMINATIONAL effort...where we are training leaders of ANY STRIPE!

I don't believe I am alone in my thinking.  There is a growing openness for ENTREPRENEURIAL CHURCH PLANTING, APOSTOLIC LEADERSHIP and the cultivation of RELATIONSHIPS beyond boundary lines.

Let's keep it simple.  The Gospel message isn't about building buildings, deeds and titles, positions and salaries, careers and control or even top heavy infrastructures.  The Gospel message is SIMPLE and our purpose and actions must reflect the same.

Even if we find a network of HORIZONTAL camaraderie we must still retain VERTICAL accountability to a spiritual father or mother.

There are too many people out there doing their own thing.  Everyone needs APOSTOLIC OVERSIGHT.  But remember...accountability is voluntary, and you can avoid it whether you're in a denomination or an apostolic network.

More to come...

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

7 Things I Want To Say About Profit and Loss

"And when his disciples heard of it, they came and took up his corpse, and laid it in a tomb." Mark 6:29

Imagine how Jesus must have felt when his cousin, John the Baptist, was imprisoned and executed.   

Perhaps you can relate to Jesus.  You too have a relative who may have been put in jail wrongfully or even rightfully...however, while incarcerated they were treated unfairly and even suffered terribly and there was nothing you could do about it.

Your heart is broken.  Your spirit is crushed.  Imagine how Jesus felt when he heard that John was beheaded.

Jesus loved John.  In fact, He spoke highly of him which spoke of the special bond between them.

  • Matthew 11:11 "...Among them that are born of women there hath not risen a greater than John the Baptist..."

Jesus learns of John's death and He gets into a boat by himself and retreats to a solitary place.
  • Sometimes you just want to be alone.
  • Sometimes you just need time to deal with the pain.
  • Sometimes you just need time to heal your broken heart.
  • Sometimes you just have to breathe.
  • Sometimes you don't have the words.

Jesus had little time to mourn.  The crowds came and even in His time of grief for His fallen brother, Jesus had compassion on the crowd and began to teach.

He wasn't callous.  He wasn't uncaring.  He simply had to move on with His mission.  In fact, although it was painful to lose John, He knew the part that John played in His story.

Jesus' heart was broken, but His compassion
for the
and the importance
of His mission pushed Him on.

What an example!

QUESTION:  Can you or will you continue to lead, to move ahead and focus on the future mission even in the face of a loss?

Perhaps God has allowed it because He knows you can't have ADDITION until He performs an  EXTRACTION
  • A few years ago, a gentlemen shared his story...that his wife of twenty years decided she wanted a divorce.  A few days later his employer, of twenty five years, eliminated his position.  A few days after that he was in his doctor's office and was told he might have cancer.  
  • He was broken.  He said that he felt the weight of the world crashing in on him.  He was dealing with the pain of rejection and wondered if it would ever end.

Friend, relationships, work and health absorb our time, energy, memories and hopes.  Ever had a fulfilling relationship turn to ashes?  Maybe you've excelled at work then a new or insensitive boss decides your services are no longer wanted or affordable.  Or perhaps your health falters.  Your parent or best friend dies suddenly of a heart attack or perishes in an auto wreck.

What do you feel?  Shock?  Grief?  Anger?  Desires for revenge or justice?  Discouragement and depression?  How do you cope with the loss, and how can you start over again?

I don't have all the answers...however, may I suggest...
  1. Don't ignore the pain.  Go ahead and grieve the loss.  Take time to reflect on the loss.  Cry. Ask questions of yourself, others and God.  You cannot ignore it...you have to experience it.
  2. Ask for help.  God has placed some amazing friends in your life.  Good friends will stay close.  Fellowship with them - eat together, watch football games together, see a movie together.  You can even get help from a trusted counselor.  The bottom line...don't try to handle the loss alone.
  3. Guard your heart.  Watch your vulnerabilities. It's tempting to enter new relationships when you're at risk.  It's good to learn from others who are also processing their pain.  However, be cautious that you don't open a door of temptation just because you're feeling lonely.
  4. Look for a glimmer of hope.  Perhaps losing that job was the best thing for you.  Now you can go back to school and better your education.  A new opportunity is on the horizon.
  5. Cherish the good times.  When you recall the fun times you've shared with others it will help you adjust to your loss.  Be grateful.  But don't become enmeshed in past memories.
  6. Turn the page. You will grieve.  But there will come a time when you will turn the page.
  7. Go back to your roots.  God loves you so much!  He will give you inner peace, assurance, forgiveness and strength to adapt to difficulties.  Life will throw you curve balls, but always remember - you have a close Friend who has promised to never leave you!
Jesus...what an example to us on how to deal with loss and move forward.

Leaders cannot give in to their feelings
of grief and discouragement because
they set the
atmosphere for their followers.

Losses are inevitable but their damage can be MINIMIZED or MAXIMIZED by our response.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Still in Love

Beverly and I want to invite you to attend this year's "I want To Be Married 4 Life" Marriage Conference on October 5-7, 2012 in Indianapolis.

This year's conference will be filled with lots of encouragement, life lessons and laughs that are sure to impact your marriage in a positive way.

Joining us this year are Pastor's Eddie & Karen Jones from Christian Life Center in Rolla, MO. You will love their heart and the passion they bring concerning marriage!  Join us for the entire weekend and take advantage of this life changing conference!

While we've been preparing for this conference, my heart has been warmly reminded of the love Beverly and I share for one another.  God has blessed us with 21 years of marriage.  Officially, we've been married longer than the length of time we spent living with our parents.  We were so young, poor and naive.  But we were in love and determined to make it work...no matter what.

God has greatly blessed us with incredible examples for our marriage through the example of our parents.  Early on, we faced our struggles just like every couple does but we stood firm upon the foundation of the Word of God and the relationships of strong marriages that surrounded us.

Today, we recognize what life have given us while anticipating what God has in store for us next.  Because of what Beverly and I have experienced along the way, our love has transcended the explainable.  It has moved to a place where our souls simply exist together because of the investments already made.

It is in this place where I know I still love my wife.  It is here where I still feel the warmth of the comforting love of God that surrounds us.  Although love's flame can be fragile at times, it will never be extinguished.  I'm certain my last breath will be shared with Beverly.

Here are just some of the reasons why I love my wife...

  • Beverly has a heart for God and for His people.  Her love and compassion for others compels me to love deeper and go the extra mile.
  • Her quiet confidence is as bright as her beauty.
  • She stands firm for her convictions and loves unconditionally.
  • She keeps her heart open for anyone that is hurting and when she holds my hand I don't want her to ever let go.
  • I miss her when we're apart.  She is my best friend.
  • She loves football and knows how to interpret the call on the field.
  • She loves me and takes good care of me...even when I continually leave my socks on the floor.
  • She gives her best, even sacrificially, for her family.
  • She knows how to encourage each one of us...and she can help me find my smile when it's missing.
  • She brings me sweet teas even when I don't ask.
  • She has a spirit that refuses to give up.
  • Beverly has seen me in the morning and still gives me a kiss.
  • She keeps a clean house and works circles around most.
  • She is romantic and loving and has a quick wit at the same time.
  • She loves me.
Perhaps you can make a list for your spouse today.  Think of all the reasons you love your spouse and then thank the Lord for His many blessings in your life.

A Reformer or Rogue? (Part 2)

In the quest for KINGDOM GROWTH, often leadership styles are misunderstood.  

When visionary leadership seeks a style of ministry that is "uncommon" it will often run counter to the "common" embraced by the majority.

However, when fruit "remains" then there is an undeniable validity that begins to shift the paradigm to a broader view of Kingdom expansion.

When this happens, it is only natural to begin to feel the pressure from the coming shift and inevitable reformation.  

As a grassroots pastor, I'm committed to being part of the "solution" and not the "problem."  It is my hope, that the upcoming generation will use their influence to ignite institutional change rather than denominational departure.

The more we study the New Testament, the more we are compelled to deal with reformation within our ranks.  Rebuilding the structure of what we have known will eventually push us to the place where our congregational democracy is exchanged for apostolic protocol.  

Today, I hear a cry from growing leaders who long for the RELATIONAL CONNECTIVITY of authentic apostolic fathers.  Fathers who will lead them past the veil of religious politics and self-preservation to the place of resource and affirmation.

Fathers need sons...and sons need fathers.  Visionary leaders need to remain connected to their covering (denominational leaders, etc.) even when differences of opinions or tensions exist.  Open dialogue and humility will keep the doors of communication open and allow for continued reform.

I believe our denominational fellowship desires to advance the cause of Christ and truly embraces the work of the Holy Spirit.  I also believe that the leadership in place is prepared to do anything possible to raise up men and women who will hear God's voice and obey.

Not every visionary leader is called to fit in the same fellowship...and that's alright.  But overall, anyone who is considering making a departure from any covering should exercise caution and seek open counsel from identifiable fathers.  Of course, with any departure, when you leave a place, don't trash it...bless it.

More to come... 

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Right Place, Right Time

Something exciting happened to me this past Saturday.  I was getting breakfast for my family at McDonald's.  I didn't realize that this particular McDonald's was celebrating their Grand Re-Opening.  The manager said to me, "You are one of the first 100 customers today and we are giving you a year's worth of Egg McMuffins!"

I was in the RIGHT PLACE at the RIGHT TIME.

I immediately thought about the Burger King I passed up, which was closer to the house, and was glad I made the choice to drive a little further.

I've seen this happen to people. They just always seem to be in the right place at the right time.  It may be a choice parking spot at the mall or they just happen to step into situations where they get blessed at the right time.

What do you call that? Some might say it's LUCK and others would say it's DIVINE INTERVENTION.  Think about that.  Personally, as a Believer, I don't believe in luck.  I believe in GOD'S TIMING.

God knows your need today.  He knows when, where, how and by whom your needs are to be met.

Ecclesiastes 3:11 tells us, "He has made everything beautiful in its time..."

I don't know about you...but I want to be found in God's TIME.  Look at this passage...

Ecclesiastes 9:11-12 "I returned and saw under the sun that - the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, nor bread to the wise, nor riches to men of understanding, nor favor to men of skill; but TIME and chance happen to them all.  For man also does not know his TIME: like fish taken in a cruel net, like birds caught in a snare, so the sons of men are snared in an evil TIME, when it falls suddenly upon them."

Read this again slowly...
  • "The race is not to the swift" 
    • The race isn't always won by the fastest person.
  • "Nor the battle to the strong." 
    • The battle isn't always won by the strongest person.
  • "Nor bread to the wise, nor riches to men of understanding." 
    • Solomon said that men of understanding are not the only ones who gain riches.
  • "Nor favor to men of skill; but time and chance happen to them all." 
    • Solomon is telling us that those who are better, wiser and stronger don't win the war, don't win the race, don't get the riches and don't win the favor.  BUT THOSE who are in the RIGHT PLACE at the RIGHT TIME win the race and enjoy favor and success!
Only God can put you in the right place at the right time!  
  • Self-effort won't do it.
  • Studying more won't do it.
  • Working harder won't do it.
  • Strategy won't do it.
  • Who you "know" won't do it.
There are also people who find themselves in the WRONG PLACE at the WRONG TIME.  Verse 12 says "They get caught in a net and they don't even know why."
  • Everything goes wrong.
  • They are constantly caught up in evil circumstances.
But being in the RIGHT PLACE at the RIGHT TIME will put you in alignment to receive the BLESSINGS, FAVOR and PROVISIONS of God!

Saturday, September 8, 2012

A Reformer or Rogue? (Part 1)

At what point do we need a REFORMATION in the church?  When I say "church" I'm not necessarily referring to a particular denomination or independent group.  However, I am referring to any group that has the resemblance of an organized structure.

To REFORM something, in essence, means: to bring about a change in something in order to improve it.

  • Do we need to improve the way we are conducting ministry in the church, as it pertains to our function of the father/son model and Apostolic covering?

  • Are we locked into old wine skins and antiquated systems that are hindering our ability to plant churches, lead with autonomy, network with likeminded leaders and experience relational Kingdom growth?

  • Where is the BRIDGE of relationship that affords creativity and connection?

  • Why does there seem to be suspicion and frowns from colleagues, when new models of ministry are discovered and found to be functional, healthy and life giving?

I am of the persuasion that when ministry and mission are hampered by dysfunctional tensions resulting from out of balance and out of touch mindsets...it's time to consider whether our incompatibilities can be reconciled in time or does there need to be a jettison in affiliation.

Likeminded leaders want to partner
with likeminded leaders.

I'm committed to RELATIONSHIPS more than RITUALS and REGULATIONS.  What attracts me to my particular fellowship is the COVENANT relationships I'm afforded.  I'm not going anywhere...I'm all in.  

However, there have been times when ridiculous tensions have left me drained and in a brief moment of aggravation, I've considered saying "hasta la vista baby!"  I've learned that a HUMBLE ATTITUDE combined with the common goals of church planting, kingdom advancement, relational connection and leadership development have served to bring unity when the potential for discord was clearly evident. 

It is my responsibility to do the best I can to work with ALL PEOPLE.  God didn't call me to be at war...He called me to walk in GRACE, LOVE and DIGNITY...steering clear from all areas of strife.

I'm persuaded that God is raising up INNOVATIVE PASTORS and LEADERS who aren't running from their denominational fellowships...but are committed to staying and allowing REFORMATION and RELATIONSHIP the time needed to turn the tide!

For denominational transformation to take place, a close look at the health and factors that have caused separation must be examined to discover where REFORM is still needed.

More to come...

Monday, September 3, 2012

12 Things About Friendship

The older I get the more I realize the value of friendship.  I love meeting new people and developing those friendships.  However, I've come to realize that it's less important for me to have MORE friends and more important for me to have REAL ONES.

The Scriptures tell us that "a man that hath friends, shows himself friendly." (Proverbs 18:24)

I'm not sure who said it, but I remember hearing that LIFE is kind of like a party.  You invite a lot of people, some leave early, some stay all night, some laugh with you, some laugh at you and some show up really late.  But in the end, after the fun, there are a few who stay to help you clan up the mess.  And most of the time, they aren't even the ones who made the mess. These people are your REAL FRIENDS in life.  They are the ones who probably matter the most. 

Do you need some real friends?  Then throw a party and see who shows up!  No, seriously - the truth is we simply need to BE A FRIEND and we'll end up with some great friends in our life.

1. Friends face life together.  Anyone who really knows you and loves you will be able to identify with what you're going through.  They are able to discern the pain in your eyes when everyone else sees the smile on your face.  A real friend will help you face the problems of life. 

  • A friend loves at all times, and is born, as is a brother, for adversity.  Proverbs 17:17

2. Friends give from a caring heart.
 Sadly, many people choose friends based on what they can GET from the other person rather than what they can GIVE.  We all want to be around someone who will make us feel good.  However, the only way a REAL RELATIONSHIP will last and bring us long-term joy is when we approach our relationships as a place we go to GIVE and not just a place we go to TAKE.  It's not wrong to take something from a relationship as long as both friends are practicing "give & take."

  • No one has greater love [no one has show stronger affection] than to lay down (give up) his own life for his friends. John 15:13 

3. Friends spend time together.
 We can't live in the virtual world of facebook, twiiter, etc., and expect social media time to establish a REAL RELATIONSHIP.  Real relationships require FACE TIME...NOT facebook!  If you have to fight for a spot in someone's schedule than perhaps there's no room for you in their life.  Never force someone to make a space in their life for you, because if they truly care about you, they will create one for you.

  • The man of many friends [a friend of all the world] will prove himself a bad friend, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother. Proverbs 18:24

4. Friends share open communication.
The only way a friendship will last is if it has great communication.  You have to be able to "talk it out" rather than keep it "bottled up."  Real relationships allow for open communication about real feelings.

  • Oil and perfume rejoice the heart; so does the sweetness of a friends counsel that comes from the heart. Proverbs 27:9

5. Friends love you for who you are.
 Acceptance is very important in any relationship.  Trying to change a person never works.  People know when they are not accepted in their entirety - and it hurts.  A real friend is someone who truly knows you and loves you just the same.  Don't change so people will like you.  Be yourself and the right people will love the real you.  If you feel like changing something about your friend, ask yourself what change you can make in yourself instead.

  • As iron sharpens iron, so a man sharpens the countenance of his friend. Proverbs 27:17

6. Friends find middle ground.
Real friends meet in the middle.  Even if there's a disagreement, they work out a solution that works for both.  Friendship is all about being willing to find middle ground rather than a need for the other person to change or completely give in.

  • If a fellow believer hurts you, go and tell him - work it out between the two of you.  If he listens, you've made a friend. Matthew 18:15

7. Friends believe in you.
 We all need someone in our life that will believe in us and be willing to show it through their words and deeds.  Regardless of your upbringing - functional or dysfunctional - studies show that if you grew up having someone in your life that believed in you - you are more likely to be happy and successful.  Believing in someone can extend to supporting their dreams, passions and hobbies.  Believing in them will also trigger participating with them, cheering for them and being a voice of encouragement.  Even if you never achieve a certain goal, just knowing that someone believes in you will push you forward towards that goal.

  • Without good direction, people lose their way; the more wise counsel you follow, the better your chances. Proverbs 11:14 

8. Friends love you when you're unlovely.
 No one is happy all the time.  A friend will have a realistic expectation of you.  A friend will understand when you need space or just an ear to listen. They understand the parameters of the relationships and will seek to give you extra grace when you aren't being very graceful.  

  • Love bears up under anything and everything that comes, is ever ready to believe the best of every person, its hopes and fadeless under all circumstances, and it endures everything [without weakening]. 1 Corinthians 13:7 

9. Friends will listen to what you're really saying.  
People don't need lots of advice, they need a listening ear and some positive reinforcement.  Most of the time, when we share our heart with a friend, we aren't looking for an answer, we're looking for an outlet to think out loud, breathe and even explore ideas in a safe environment.  Giving a person a voice, and showing them that their words matter, will have a long-lasting impact on them.

  • Understand [this], my beloved brethren. Let every man be quick to hear [a ready listener], slow to speak, slow to take offense and to get angry. James 1:19

10. Friends seek to honor one another.
 Everyday we have the opportunity to make our relationships sweeter and deeper by making small gestures to show our appreciation and affection.  A simple smile can change someone's day.  Kindness and gratitude matters.  It's all too easy to take someone for granted - it's very important (in any relationship) that we notice all the wonderful things people do and then let them know that they are appreciated.

  • Love one another with brotherly affection [as members of one family], giving precedence and showing honor to one another. Romans 12:10

11. Friends keep their word.  
Our word means everything.  If we say we're going to do something...then we need to DO IT.  If we say we're going to be somewhere...then BE THERE.  If we can't, won't and don't then DON'T LIE!  Real friends keep promises and tell the truth upfront.

  • But he who keeps (treasures) His Word [who bears in mind His precepts, who observes His message in its entirety], truly in him has the love of and for God been perfect (completed, reached maturity).  By this we may perceive (know, recognize, and be sure) that we are in Him: 1 John 2:5

12. Friends stick around like a bad penny.
 The reality of friendships today is that there are some people who will only be there for you as long as you have something they need.  When you no longer serve a purpose to them, they will leave.  The good news is, if you tough it out, you'll eventually weed these people out of your life and be left with some great people you can count on.  We rarely lose friends, we just gradually figure out who our real ones are.

  • Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification. Romans 14:19