Archive for July, 2012


 

And the Scripture was fulfilled which says, “And Abraham believed God,

and it was reckoned to him as righteousness,” and he was called the friend of God.

(James 2:23)

After the institutions of marriage and the family, friendship is the most honored human relationship in which we can participate. The book of Proverbs, in fact, provides us with a brief “doctrine of friendship,” we might say. Understanding is compared to “an intimate friend,” indicating the positive nature of human friendship. (Pro. 7:4) The love of a true friend is constant. (17:17; 18:24) There is such a thing as false friendship that is based on some perceived personal advantage. (19:4, 6) Graciousness attracts important friends. (22:11) Even the painful counsel of a true friend is a great benefit. (27:6, 9) The bonds of friendship are to be preserved. (27:10)

There is little doubt that most people could point to at least one or two people they consider close friends. In some cases, we have those we identify as lifelong friends. I have such a lifelong friend. We met in college in the late 70’s. We rarely see one another, but our relationship has remained strong over the years. As described in Proverbs, I have experienced many of the positive aspects of such a friendship. Therefore, I am truly thankful for the blessing of friendship.

For most of my adult life, I have not been one to cultivate friendships. Until the past few years, I tended to let the ministry stand in the way of personal relationships (the one wonderful exception is my wife). But, as just indicated, I now have a number of men who I consider good friends and most of these relationships have formed in the midst of my service in the Church. Some of these men have been fellow-officers and some have been brothers in Christ who stepped up to offer support in a time of crisis. One thing I can now say with full confidence is that I am far better off as a Christian man with these friends in my life. I enjoy their company and look forward to seeing them after a period of separation.

The significance of friendship is implied in the verse I selected for this devotional: “And the Scripture was fulfilled which says, “And Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness,” and he was called the friend of God.” (James 2:23) Friendship was chosen to describe the nature of Abraham’s association with God. This fact adds dignity to friendship. It is not a relationship to be taken for granted, nor should it be easily wounded or dissolved. This might require the extension of patience and forgiveness beyond the ordinary, but when the benefits of friendship are understood, we realize that such relationships are worth the extra effort.

Lately, I’ve gone out of my way to let my friends know how much I appreciate them and how genuinely helpful they have been in my life. Take a moment and think of one of your close friends. Perhaps you will want to do the same.

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NOTE: All Saints Parish Church is sending a Missions Team to the Colville Reservation next week. This team has traveled to the Reservation annually for many years. This team has shown the mercy of Christ in various ways. All that they do expresses aspects of the gospel. Our new congregation is glad to keep this tradition alive.

Charge to the Colville Mission Team

July 15, 2012

Almost exactly one year ago today, I was in the pulpit for the first time in four weeks having just returned from vacation. As it turned out, that was my last Sunday at Westminster Presbyterian Church; it was not, I’m very happy to say, the last time I would deliver a charge to our faithful Colville Missions Team.

Here we are, 12 months later, and we have a team prepared to return to a ministry that has a history of faithfulness and hard work. In my opinion, this ministry has endured a critical test of character and commitment. In His wisdom, God often ordains such experiences for those ministries that are destined to endure and produce fruit. The Colville project falls into this category.

I want to commend the members of this year’s team for your willingness to return to this labor of love and mercy. I also want to commend this congregation for your steadfast support of this ministry. Many things have vied for our attention this past year, but we have remained committed to an effort that means a lot to people most of us will never meet. Things that might appear almost inconsequential to some, things like a wood shed or a painted house, are of tremendous value to those who receive the attention of our Missions Team.

And I believe this pleases God. It pleases God to see His people go forth to a challenging circumstance that will require a lot of hard work, but offer nothing in terms of tangible reward. This is Christ-like behavior. This is Christian love.

This is what Paul had in mind when he wrote: “Love endures all things.” (1 Cor. 13:7) As a team, you will face challenges during your time on the reservation, but you will endure. You may have uncomfortable moments due to the events of this past year, but you will endure. You will be tired and your body may ache, but you will endure. You will endure because you are serving in the name of Christ and you are serving for His glory and to bring His compassion to the people of the reservation.

It’s an interesting truth that we find extra strength, increased vitality, and an enhanced ability to carry on when we are in the act of being Christ to some in need. Selfless labor invigorates us and we find that we can go further and do more than we ever thought.

My charge to this team is simple: Go forth in the love of God and do what you have done so many times before. Take Christ to Colville and exhibit Him to the people as you build and paint and cleanup. And trust Him to bring fruit from your humble efforts according to what pleases Him. Let’s pray.

All Saints Weekly Devotional

Volume 1 Number 22

July 6, 2012

Confessing the Goodness of God

From Pastor Bordwine

“Though He slay me, I will hope in Him.”

(Job 13:15)

As many of you know, on this past Monday evening I was admitted to the hospital after experiencing severe pain in my abdomen. From the beginning, the doctors were primarily concerned about a potential heart issue. The next day, an angiogram was performed which showed that my arteries were completely clear. Whatever the cause of my symptoms, it was not my heart.

I related this bit of information to a friend who dropped by the house for a visit the day after I returned home. I told him how grateful I was for God’s display of goodness in the results of that procedure. My friend immediately said: “But God would still have been just as good even if the report had been the opposite.” That comment startled me for a moment, but I quickly realized the beautiful truth just expressed by my brother. My perception of the goodness of God could not rest upon the report from my cardiologist.

The goodness of God is of His essence. It is God’s nature to be good and do good in everything. And it is impossible for God not to be and do good in everything. Therefore, had the results of my angiogram have indicated that my death was imminent, I could still have confessed that God was good. In such a situation, I would have to accept the truth that what sounded like devastating news to my ears was, in fact, an outcome ordained by a God of goodness. And I would then need to call upon Him for the grace to receive and rejoice in the kind of report no person ever wants to hear.

God most certainly showed love to me and my family by equipping me with a strong and healthy heart. But we must understand that God’s “reputation” for being good does not rest upon our estimation of the character or consequences of what He ordains. If God gives me life, He is good; if God ends my earthly life at this moment, He is good. God’s works do not determine the character of His nature, His nature determines the character of His works. God is good by nature; therefore, all of His works must be good as well.

The verse above expresses this truth in a magnificent way. Most of us know the story of Job. His suffering was beyond comprehension. His misery was compounded by friends who were sure that Job was being punished for sin. In his agony, Job pleaded his case of innocence, but his acquaintances were unmoved and continued to heap blame and guilt upon him. Nevertheless, as he wrestled with that incredibly harsh and intensely discouraging situation, Job maintained his conviction regarding the nature of God.

“Even if God takes my life in the midst of this horrible circumstance and even if my friends walk away satisfied that they have rightly diagnosed the cause of my suffering,” Job declared, “my trust in God’s essential goodness and righteousness will remain.” That is the confession of a man who truly knew God. Job was able to persevere through the most severe trial of his life without accusing God of wrongdoing because he knew and that such an complaint would be absurd.

How is it with you right now? Has God appointed a frightening and seemingly overwhelming trial for you? If so, fortify yourself with the sure knowledge of the essential and unchanging character of God. Confess His goodness even in the midst of your pain. Declare God’s trustworthiness even if you cannot see the end of your ordeal. While there are many things we cannot know during our trials, we can always find a measure of peace in the truth of the abiding goodness of God.