Gesunde Beziehungen - Healthy Bonding
(From a postcard one of us got from a lady friend)
Was ist Bonding?
Bonding ist die Fähigkeit, eine emotionale. sehr tiefgehende Bindung mit einer anderen Person einzugehen. Wenn zwei Menschen eine Bindung zueinander haben, teilen sie ihre innersten Gedanken, Träume und tiefsten Gefühle miteinander - ohne jede Furcht, vom anderen zurückgewiesen zu werden.
Nur wenn wir unsere eigenen Gefühle - unser Innerstes - mit jemanden ohne Furcht vor Ablehnung oder Verurteilung teilen können und uns auch unserer Emotionen bewusst sind, sind wir auch in der Lage, die Liebe, die Jesus uns jeden Tag gibt, an andere weiter zu geben. Wir sind nur ein glaubhaftes Zeugnis als Christen, wenn wir das, was wir weitergeben, tatsächlich empfinden.
Was unser homosexuelles Problem angeht: Sex ist ja immer nur ein Ausdruck von einem tiefer liegenden, legitimen Bedürfnis nach gleichgeschlechtlicher Nähe und Wärme, das in der Kindheit selten gestillt wurde. Wenn dieses Bedürfnis auf gesunde Weise befriedigt wird, lernen wir auch, mit unser Sexualität umzugehen und unsere heterosexuelle Identität wieder zu finden.
Bonding ist die also Fähigkeit, eine emotionale Bindung zu einem anderen Menschen aufzubauen. In einer derartigen Bindung teilen zwei Menschen ihre tiefsten Gedanken, Gefühle und Träume miteinander ? ohne dabei befürchten zu müssen, vom anderen zurück gewiesen zu werden. Bonding heißt letztlich aber auch, in Verbindung mit Gott, mit anderen und mit sich selbst zu treten.
Check-Up: Gibt es Menschen in unserem Leben, mit denen uns ein tiefes Band verbindet?
Kontrollfrage (etwa eines Therapeuten): "Wen könnte ich anrufen, der mir sagen könnte, wie du dich in den letzten Wochen gefühlt hast?
- Bonding ist eine der wesentlichen Grundlagen der menschlichen Existenz.
- Es ist ein Grundbedürfnis des Menschen.
- Gott hat uns mit einem Hunger nach Beziehungen geschaffen - Beziehungen zu ihm und zu unseren Mitmenschen.
- Ohne solide Beziehungen zu Gott und unseren Mitmenschen sind wir in ernsthaften psychologischen und emotionalen Problemen gefangen. Unsere Seele wird krank. Wir sind wie ein Zweig, der vom Weinstock abgeschnitten wurde.
? Legitime Bedürfnisse auf gesunde Art und Weise befriedigen.
? Alte Denk- und Verhaltensmuster durchbrechen.
? Sich selbst als ?Mann? ? als einer unter vielen begreifen.
? ?Iron sharpens iron? ? nur ein anderer Mann kann einen Mann aus dir machen.
? Entmystifizierung der Männlichkeit.
? Männer auf gesunde Art und Weise lieben lernen.
? Männer als das lieben lernen, was sie sind (und nicht nur, wenn sie sexuell ansprechend sind). Das Herz und das Wesen eines Mannes erkennen.
? In einem Mann nicht ein Objekt zur Befriedigung der eigenen sexuellen und emotionalen Bedürfnisse sehen.
? Sich gegenseitig Rechenschaft ablegen und helfen, als Christen zu wachsen.
Never take someone for granted
Hold every person close to your heart
Because you might wake up one day
And realize that you've lost a diamond
While you were too busy collecting stones.
Healthy Male Bonding - gesunde männliche Beziehungen - aber mit wem?
Als selbst Betroffener und aufgrund meiner jahrelangen Erfahrung kann ich diese These so nicht unterstützen. Aus jedem Wort liest man da den heterosexuellen Fachmann heraus, der es zwar gut meint, aber im Grunde keine Ahnung hat, was da in den Menschen vor sich geht.
Das System der gesunden männlichen Beziehungen muss man abgestuft betrachten. So verallgemeinert wie oben taugt es nicht viel. Im Grunde kommt jeder Mann in Frage, der mich meinem Ziel näher bringt - in unterschiedlicher emotionaler Form. Das kann der Trainingspartner im Fitnessstudio, der Arbeitskollege oder der Kumpel im Kegelclub sein. Also lockere Beziehungen, die einem aber einen gesunden Umgang mit der eigenen Männlcihkeit sowie mit anderen Männern beibringen.
Was sich in der Praxis unter Betroffenen gezeigt hat, ist eine gesunde Mischung. Heterosexuelle Männer sind als "Vorbilder" absolut notwendig. Wirklich öffnen wird sich ein schwuler Mann auf dem Weg der Heilung aber nur einem anderen "Ex-Gay", also einem Bruder mit denselben Problemen. Warum? Weil der weiß, was in ihm vor sich geht. Spricht man mit einem heterosexuellen Mann, merkt man sehr schnell, dass man an seine Grenzen kommt. Der weiß schlichtweg nicht, wovon man redet. Die inneren Kämpfe kann der nicht mal ansatzweise nachvollziehen. Ebensowenig das Bedürfnis, das hier befriedigt wird und warum es genau so befriedigt wird.
Zwei Männer mit gleichgeschlechtlichen Neigungen können die Männlichkeit nicht entmystifizieren? Sagt wer? So etwas kann nur von einem Außenstehenden kommen. Einer der beiden sollte natürlich in der Heilung schon weiter vorangeschritten sein, da sonst die Partnerschaft erhebliche Probleme mit sich bringen kann. Dann aber - im Verbund mit anderen - heterosexuellen - gesunden männlichen Beziehungen ist diese Verbindung unschlagbar. Ebenso Selbsthilfegruppen nach dem Konzept von Homosexuals Anonymous. In einer Gruppe heterosexueller Männer würde sich ein Betroffener mit Sicherheit nicht so öffnen wie in einer Gruppe mit Betroffenen. Warum? Weil ihm sehr wohl bewusst ist, dass Heteros im Grunde keine Ahnung haben, was in ihm los ist. Gleichwohl sie unentbehrlich für ihn sind.
Wir empfehlen Herrn Nicolosi, dessen Arbeit wir außerordentlich schätzen und die wir als Grundlage für unsere Therapie mitverwenden, deshalb, seine Theorien ab und zu mal mit Ex-Gays zu diskutieren, um vielleicht gerade dadurch neue Erkenntnisse für seine hervorragende Arbeit zu bekommen.
Ich habe ja versucht, mit anderen Männern gesunde Beziehungen einzugehen, aber ich finde niemanden!
Manchmal müssen wir einfach nur unsere Sichtweise ändern - weg von der Vorstellung von Mann, die wir im Kopf haben und hin zu dem Man, den Gott für uns vorgesehen hat. Der ist vielleicht überhaupt nicht so, wie wir uns das gedacht haben.
In unserer homosexuellen Zeit haben wir Männer "abgecheckt". In Sekundenbruchteilen haben wir entschieden, ob ein Mann in unser Muster passt - oder durch's Netz fällt. Dann haben wir ihn keines Blickes mehr gewürdigt. Irgendwie lebt dieses Denkmuster in uns weiter.
Bete um Weisheit und Führung! Lass' Gott entscheiden, wer zu dir passt! Sei offen für andere Menschen und versuche sie so zu sehen, wie Gott sie sieht! Versuche, in ihr Herz zu sehen - unabhängig davon, wie sie aussehen!
"Don't be misled: 'Bad company corrupts good character'" (1 Corinthians 15:33, NIV).
The first connection every child has is with mother. It starts in the womb and as the newborn child is in his or her mother's arms (and especially on her
breasts) that connection or bonding is reinforced. Unfortunately, the child who doesn't have healthy bonding in those early years is being programmed for life-long problems unless he goes through recovery. If the child feels no bonding at all he can die.
Connection and bonding in loving relationships are essential for our entire lifetime. We cannot live healthily without them. As counselors tell us, we
cannot not be bonded. Thus, if we are not bonded in healthy ways to healthy people, we will be bonded in unhealthy ways. For example, some people stay in very unhealthy and toxic relationships for fear of being isolated and not connected to someone. Others, if not bonded to people, may be bonded to their work, gambling, drugs, alcohol, sex, or material possessions and so on.
Healthy bonding needs to be a priority of every individual and should be available in every family and every church. If you can't find it there, look for a
healthy church where you can find it, and get connected in an open, honest, support group. Or find it with some open, non-judgmental healthy friends. If necessary, find it in a recovery or twelve-step group. Healthy bonding and connection to healthy people is essential for healthy, wholesome, and meaningful living.
As the Bible reminds us, the company we keep affects our life.
Suggested prayer: "Dear God, please help me to find at least one safe soul-brother/sister with whom I can be totally open and honest, connected, and bonded in a healthy way, and in so doing help me to stay connected and bonded to you. Thank you for hearing and answering my prayer. Gratefully, in Jesus' name, amen."
Es dürfte schwer sein, dann noch sexuelle Gefühle für sie zu haben...
What is healthy male bonding?
1) "Changes That Heal"
both by Dr. Henry Cloud (not about ssa, but about that subject in general).
"Desires in Conflict" by Joe Dallas (that's especially about ssa) and "I Hate Witnessing" by Dick Innes.
You should really read them.
There are different types of healthy male bondings. You can have some sort of healthy male bondings (not so deep) with church brothers, guys at the gym, at work, at some club or organization you belong to, simple buddies - whatever.
Those are male relationships that should help you become the man you want to be. Good, Christian hetero men that somehow serve as a role model for you and show you what it means to be to be a man. A real man. A good man.
That's what we all have to learn, as we missed that part in childhood.
Then there is real healthy male bonding. That goes somewhat deeper. You find a man that you can really get close with on an emotional basis - in a healthy way. That can be one of the guys from up above or even an ex-gay that is further ahead in recovery.
The plan is to fill that legitimate need for male love in a healthy way.
Both of you guys will really open up there and show your innermost feelings. Confess everything that is going on inside of you. Share your deepest thoughts.
Those bondings should of course last a lifetime. They are extremely healthy and spped up recovery like nothing else, as you really work on the roots of same-sex attraction then. At the beginning it is somewhat embarrassing, but that soon is over and you feel so great. Finally you have somebody to talk to. To relate to. Somebody that REALLY knows and understands you. And loves you in a healthy way.
Those bondings might enable you to have a solid and sound marriage for example, as you work on your problems in there - something you cannot do with your wife.
Of course this is a big responsability for both of you then. You know the other guy and he knows you like none else and you won't be able to hide anything from him anymore. That is a good thing, too, because you can't lie anymore or hide your true feelings and intentions. But of course both of you should help each other to grow in the Lord then and not turn each other on.
A healthy relationship should always be a reflection of the love for the Lord. The Lord has to be number one in every relationship whatsoever. If He is not - forget it.
You should not push such a relationship, however. But you should become more open with guys that you think might be good for that job. Maybe they are waitng for that, too.
Some of the guys in HA are doing that. Even among each other. So do I.
It wasn't till I started doing that that I really worked on my ssa.
And it sure feels so great.
I feel loved - and totally safe and secure with it. Somebody really cares for me - without any bad intentions but help me grow as a Christian man. And so do I as to him.
Gefahren beim Bonding
- Sexuelle Versuchungen: Welche Reize (Personen/Sachen) gibt es in deiner Umgebung? Wie kannst du sie reduzieren?
?Ein Christ ist jemand, der Jesus als den Christus erkennt, den Sohn des lebendigen Gottes, als Gott, der sich in Menschengestalt zeigt, der uns liebt und für unsere Erlösung stirbt; und der diesen fleischgewordenen Gott so liebt, dass er gezwungen ist, den Willen von Christus zur Regel für seinen Gehorsam zu machen und den Ruhm von Christus zum Ziel seines Lebens.? (Charles Hodge, Commentary on the Second Epistle to the Corinthians)
Ein Glaube, der keine praktischen Auswirkungen hat, ist kein Glaube mehr, sondern Fantasie.? (Stephen Brown, If God Is in Charge)
In uns allen gibt es eine Sehnsucht nach der fehlerlosen Harmonie des Gartens Eden. ?Wir sehnen uns nach Harmonie in unserer Umgebung wie in unseren Beziehungen ? zu uns selbst, zu anderen und zu Gott (...) Diese Suche ? die Vollkommenheit der ursprünglichen Schöpfung wiederherzustellen ? kann von Vorteil für uns sein. Wir finden oft Befriedigung im Verfolgen von schwierigen Zielen. Arbeitsprozesse sowie Prozesse, die Selbstdisziplin und menschliche Beziehungen umfassen, können sehr lohnenswert sein. Wir müssen uns aber darüber im Klaren sein, dass wir in diesem Leben nur eine nicht-perfekte Annäherung an Gottes Perfektion wiederherstellen können.? (Richard Walters, Escape the Trap)
HOME WORK FOR BONDING
1) What efforts have you made in the past to bond with others?
2) What has happened in your past to make you realize that you need relationship?
3) What can you do to help new relationships to form?
(See also: Henry Cloud: "Changes That Heal")
A friend will not complain when the other has taken more than his share, or if you are late.
A friend is a friend when we share the love of God as He would want us to. A friend endures criticism, endures harsh words,
"A friend is a friend to a friend indeed when a friend is a friend to a friend in need."
It takes time to develop a true friendship. Generally it does not happen overnight. It takes truth and trust and faithfulness to be a friend. It takes patience.
When I think of what a friend should be like, this song by Michael W. Smith about nails it on the head. I want friends who would think of me in the same manner. and I them
andre ha-3 moderator
Nicolosi would tell you now that the worst bonding you could get would be with an active homosexual, followed by an ex-gay, an unattractive heterosexual and finally (number 1) an attractive heterosexual.
Because he thinks that once you lern to bond with him in a healthy way, you break the mystery that surrounds good-loking heterosexuals and see yourself as one of the guys.
Though I admit there is some truth in that from a psychological point of view, we have to remember that Nicolosi is NOT a homoexual. He is a brilliant psychologist with ample experience in therapy, but basically he does not know what he is talking about. Hard but true.
(However, I strongly recommend his books!).
What to do?
In our homosexual time, we learned to categorize men. In a second we checked if they were acceptable according to our pattern or not so. Then we'd not even look at them or talk to them.
Now in therapy we somehow try to follow that scheme and bond only with those who attract us.
Who have what we'd like to have and who are what we'd like to be.
From my own experience, I'd say this:
1) Forget about schemes and categories. Forget about your image of the "perfect guy" to bond with or how you should do that.
2) Start praying. Sounds like a cliche, but it's true: surrender it to Him. Ask Him to bring somebody into your life. And remember: that somebody might be totally not what you expected!!
3) Get together a good mixture: guys you're just hanging out with, doe sports with or work with, guys you're bonding with on a deeper level, church brothers, heterosexuals (because they know where you're heading to), ex-gays (because they know EXACTLY how you feel), whatever. And make sure you accept those the Lord sends into your life - learn to see them as the Lord sees them: as your brothers in Christ. Not as good-looking fellas.
4) Make sure in every relationship Jesus is number 1. The whole package will give you full satisfaction, because it meets all of your legitimate needs for healthy male love and affection.
God bless you,
Harvest House Publishers (Juli 2003)
Changes That Heal: How to Understand the Past to Ensure a Healthier Future von Henry Cloud
Zondervan Publishing Company (Januar 1997)
From Bondage to Bonding: Escaping Codependency, Embracing Biblical Love von Nancy Groom
ACW Press (Juni 1997)
Taschenbuch / Sprache Englisch
> I am in another online group called xxx. Its a group of about > 100 members. I have been posting to that group some. There are a lot of > non be
> livers in that group and a few of them have really started opening up to me about the anger they feel toward society for not meeting their male
> relationship needs and in turn helping diminish their SSA urges. Again personal anger being there as a factor of life they are unwilling to let go of for some reason.
> How would you reply to someone who has has a negative situation with accountability partners and fellow church members not following through
> with stuff.
> One thing I was thinking was to talk about un forgiveness and how much God has forgiven us if we only accept it. This group is expecting more than
> the textbook church answer thou on anger Im thinking.
> Thought It might be helpful to get some feedback from you all before I go typing a bunch of stuff. I have a great opportunity to share my faith Im
> thinking at this point.
> Many blessings,\
there is no easy answer to that.
Sometimes we have our perfect image of how a perfect man to bond with should look like - and are surprised that such a person does not exist.
Also at times we forget that a friend is not here to fulfill our personall needs. A friendship is a mutual thing where we have to invest just as much and that takes a lot of time to grow.
I would never go into a friendship with any sort of expectation. Prayerfully follow the Lord's guidance. With some men you will only have easy-going relationships (like working out or something like that). Others will grow into really deep friendships. You never know.
Also in our gay time we learned to develop patterns. You stand in a gay bar and check men in a second - if they fit your pattern, you dig them. If not, you don't even talk to them. Now in our recovery, we still keep that pattern. A friend has to look like we think he should. Instead we should follow the Lord's guidance. He will lead us to new friends - that might not at all fit our "pattern", but be the friends He wants us to have.
And also with reference to our gay past we tend to develop emotional dependencies. We don't have friendships with two equal partners but kind of hold on to a man in the sense of we think that our personal happiness depends on him. Not so! If a man feels we act like a little boy or something towards him, he runs to the hills. Or like a man would act that is in love with another man and expects that he should feel the same way. That is not healthy and men know that.
So even if it is a hard thing to do, we have to let go of our anger and give it over to the Lord and follow His guidance. We are a new creation now - and that includes our new friendships. It is hard to accept that, but that eternal self-pity ("nobody loves me/understands me, no friend ever stays with me") will get us nowhere on the long run.
Hope that helps.
A young man, 19 y/o, asked for help with healthy male friendships.
One of the guys in the group responded with this valuable advice. He
gave permission to use it on other posts.
Here it is. . .
A few years ago, a therapist I was working with gave me some really
coaching on making friends that pretty much matches up with what you
saying. I'm no expert, but the teaching this therapist did for me has
of the most powerful change factors in my life.
One point he explained to me that seemed to unlock a lot of the
mystery for me
was around how men connect with each other. SSA men seem to feel and
the need for male attention, acceptance, warmth, etc. Maybe it's
missed out on it at key stages in our development. In any case, we
have a real
hunger for it that is near the surface, and we want to connect with
men in ways
that address those needs in very direct ways, and with an intensity
how much we feel the need.
Non-ssa men have the same needs. They often don't feel them so near
because they may have had them met more fully during their
through normal relationships over time. But they have the same need.
So how do they connect? Men connect around a third object. There is
something neutral and emotionally safe that they can be interested in
could be sports, could be cars, could be watching the game, could be
out, could be hunting, could be anything. In the course of doing
things together, they open up to the bonding, sharing, getting to
other, giving/getting attention, and over time even a lot of physical
in very safe, non-sexual ways (back slapping, chest banging, even
approrpiate ways and at appropriate moments . . .).
My therapist helped me start to find opportunities to identify
a "third object"
to connect with other guys on, and to step out of my comfort zone and
What I've learned:
All men really do feel those needs.
Almost any "third object" will do, just as long as both men are
The opening up process is slow. Guys test to see what's safe, who
they want to
be safe with, and they take their time. You have to find a pace both
Not all guys will open up at the same speed.
The opening up happens naturally when it's safe.
I need to have several friendships and "third objects" going on all
the time. I
need real, solid friendships that grow naturally, not co-dependent,
I need to build these activities into my daily routine, not wait
until I feel an
I can have lots of friends.
Friendships that don't naturally grow deep tend to just fade (i.e. no
"break up" scenes).
Starting new friendships regularly by finding new interests and men
to engage in
them with should be a constant process.
Only a few friendships will go to really deep, intimate friendships -
they do, they are very rewarding for all the men involved.
Helathy friendhips between men with each other don't create any
This is an imporant topic in our healing. I'm very intersted to hear
you all have learned about buidling real friendships with non-ssa
men - it's a
key to really feeling like a man among men.
(used with permission)
The Cross (Part II)
“A sculptor does not use a ‘manicure set’ to reduce the crude, unshapely marble into a thing of beauty. The saw, the hammer and the chisel are crude tools, but without them the rough stone must remain forever formless and unbeautiful. To do His supreme work of grace within you, God will take from your heart everything you love most. Everything you trust in will go from you. Piles of ashes will lie where your most trusted treasures used to be!”
A. W. Tozer (quoted in “The Heart of Texas”)
“Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.”
Matt. 16:24 KJV
“See, I have refined you, though not as silver; I have tested you in the furnace of affliction.”
Isaiah 48:10 (New International Version, ©2010)
When we come back to Christ and let Him change our ways, many of us experience some sort of “spiritual high”. You want to give your whole life to Jesus. All your life seems to be around Jesus, ministry, Church and the like from now on. You feel great and give testimony wherever people would want to have you. You just can’t wait to tell everybody about our Lord and Savior.
Most of all you kind of expect that everyone would congratulate you for changing your ways and that you’d be happy and blessed from now on. That life would go easy street.
Soon you realize that things are not so simple. People gossip behind your back or attack you, get mad at you, criticize you, maybe even hurt you or insult you.
You might be able to deal with that. They killed the prophets and nailed the Son of God onto the cross, so why should it be any different for His disciples?
What you might not expect, is that things might get a lot worse than that.
“If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me”
Matthew 16:24 KJV
What about if God wants you to carry a different sort of cross?
Many of us have never experienced true love in their lives. You can go through life some time without, but on the long run, you might start to yearn for what you cannot have.
Your same-sex attractions might still be very much alive in you. Sure, you could live with a woman, but deep feelings you can only imagine for a man. Yes, you know there is no way you can go there as a Christian. You might have been hurt badly in the past and the lack of love you felt for all of your life made you shut your heart for anybody. You try to protect it like this, but all you do is to build your own prison.
And then maybe you get to know someone and start to bond with him on a deeper level. At some point you might realize that you feel for him way beyond what would be acceptable. You struggle like never before. On the one side you know that as a Christian there is no way you can go for that kind of relationship (if God is not the center of it, the other side is. Besides, if you really care for someone, you want the best for him – and the best is what is best in God’s eyes). On the other side your heart yearns for him so much it hurts. Not just sexually – you want to be with him, live with him, feel him and feel his heart as well.
Also the fact that he might meet a woman someday and marry her brings unspeakable panic upon you. Again you would be alone! Maybe he is already married which makes things worse. In your heart an emotional roller coaster starts that drives you crazy and brings you close to desperation. There is no way you can deal with the situation anymore. You realize that you might be alone and lonely for the rest of your life – cut off from what you need most: true love. At least, this is how you see things.
Many times have I heard similar stories. Many times have I witnessed the pain of those who told them.
Someday it dawned to me that sometimes God takes away from you what you love most. He allows tremendous pain to come upon you and gives you a cross that is way beyond what you could ever carry. A cross that He wants you to carry for the rest of your life – day by day. Pain and fear like you have never experienced it so far in your entire life – and that maybe every single day for the rest of your days. He asks everything of you – even more than you can give.
There is nothing you can do about it. No Christian counselor can help you there. It is as if someone puts a 300-pound weight on your chest in the gym. You know that there is no way you can lift it up and also that it will crush you. If somebody told you a smart advice now like you should get healthy food, you’d realize the futility of it in an instant. Much the same with your feelings now.
The dramatic consequences of this will hit you like a truck. Your body might start shaking with sobs. A life without love, alone, and in addition to that a real cross to carry on a daily basis!
Yet it is now that God wants a decision from you in that situation. Would you still love Him then. Would you still be on His side. Would you accept that cross.
Look up to the cross now if you have one at home. Tell Him that you will still love Him then. It will be extremely painful, but it will also be your chance to give Him your all – without holding anything back and in spite of knowing that this is way beyond what you can imagine to carry.
Jesus died for you and now you will accept that cross as well - even though you cannot imagine standing that inner pain. You might have been through something like that once and been traumatized big time. Now it might go deeper than ever before. It took you years to open up your heart and let someone in again. Your heart is completely defenseless right now and you could not take another blow like that ever again.
Sounds familiar to some of you? I am sure it does.
Yet God wants a decision. He wants you to come to a point were you realize the reality and the drama of the cross. He wants you to realize that it is not a question if you break down under that cross, but when. He wants you to hit rock bottom and admit that you have no power anymore. Your inner pain is way beyond what you can stand. You are terribly scared and also lonely like never before.
Will you still love Him now.
Will you accept His cross.
Will you take it on your shoulders every day - even though you know what pain will come upon you.
Will you love Him enough to accept His cross. Will you put Him before everything else – including your tremendous fear.
Will you give Him a firm YES. Will you tell Him you accept His cross – your cross -, but you really need His help for that. You need Him with you in this as there is no way you can carry that cross by yourself. Are you willing to trust Him just enough to put that cross on your shoulders every day – for the rest of your life if that’s what He asks of you. You might feel that your heart will break and deepest sadness will take over, but you will do it anyway. You take part in His passion and unite your sufferings with His. You show Him ultimate love – without holding anything back. You put Him first in everything. Really everything.
Each and every day you will carry your cross again - until are with Him and hear those words:
Well done, good and faithful servant, enter in.
“Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted.”
Matt. 5:4 KJV
“1 In you, LORD, I have taken refuge;
let me never be put to shame;
deliver me in your righteousness.
2 Turn your ear to me,
come quickly to my rescue;
be my rock of refuge,
a strong fortress to save me.
3 Since you are my rock and my fortress,
for the sake of your name lead and guide me.
4 Keep me free from the trap that is set for me,
for you are my refuge.
5 Into your hands I commit my spirit;
deliver me, LORD, my faithful God.”
Psalm 31:1-5. (New International Version, ©2010)
Godly Male Friendships
indeed, may we all trust and ask of God for godly male friendships, and most of all also the friendship with Jesus our lord cos He is the friend of all friends and the masculine one from whom we all men derive our identities and even our being is in Him.
Truly, i too face the challenge of handling male friendships..Same Sex Attractions had bound and hooked me since age 12 and caused lots of damage in terms of my identity forming and also being able to bond with other guys. Fears then came in as an added fetter and i , in having no resources before knowing our lord, resorted to detachment and isolation. I didn't know of any other way to cope and had no one to talk about my attractions which were assaulting me with the onslaught of puberty and all. It was very tough, especially when i am also a sensitive person and just sensed things acutely and perceived almost all other things through the grid of the unacceptability of my same gender attractions and also the self condemnation and hatred that comes from the compulsive masturbation and fantasies. It all came crashing down when i had depression during college years and further isolated into myself, which as i reflect now , could have been the chief factors triggering the depression.
i then went into the army for 2 and half years at 17 and was naively and ignorantly touched on inappropriately by a platoon sergeant for around 2 months. I kinda wasn't even sure what it meant , much less to recognise it as a form of molest. i knew i hated it but yet didn't know what to do about it, cos the sergeant also cajoled and said lots of lies and deceiving words and also some kinda power aggression, that no one would believe me even if reported. From then on, i started to unconsciously handle friendships with other camp mates in sensual ways, which some of them were glad to do anyway, although there was no sex, but inappropriate physical touching and all.
From then on, it hindered my bonding even more with guys , as i was also shy and fearful. Things only began to be changed when Jesus came into my life at age 21 when i was in university, and received Him as my saviour and lord with campus crusade for christ ministry. God then saw it fit to grant me a male mentor and discipler who is now a church pastor, and who is very serious in his walk with God and had helped me through those tumultous years as a youth and young adult. It was rather dark as i struggled with also the remnants of depressive episodes and condemnation, cos the attractions were not fixed instantly, and also with attractions to my discipler. God seemed genuinely intent to touch my life when i realised i could even share my attractions to him with him and pray through them, and later in a support group setting.
guessed i'd shared alot again but that i had been in the process of building friendships and my identity since then and still doing now, though at a different level each time. I thank God for His grace and strength in seeing me through those difficult years, even when many times things seemed so dark and hopeless. : )
(used with permission)
What a Friend We Have in Jesus!
I am well fond of re-iterating this saying:
A friend is a friend to a friend indeed
when a friend is a friend to a friend in need.
As I pondered this thought tonight, I was reminded of the hymn What a friend We have in Jesus.
What better friend have we than Jesus. Many a so called friend will turn on you when things do not go their way, or when things become too difficult, when those in power become too overwhelming. Many of these so called friends will turn tail and run, and turn you in, and report you to authorities without just cause. Very few are there that will give their lives to save yours, to protect you against any and all evil and or dangers.
Few there are who will give their lives to save and protect. Even them who they do not know.
Only Jesus, stands among and beyond those who are above and beyond, the closeness of what it is to be known as a true and close friend. Only Jesus will give His life for the unworthy, the unjust, the selfish, the greedy, the thief, the sexual immoral, the liars, etc.
What A Friend We Have In Jesus Hymn
What a friend we have in Jesus,
all our sins and griefs to bear!
What a privilege to carry
everything to God in prayer!
O what peace we often forfeit,
O what needless pain we bear,
all because we do not carry
everything to God in prayer.
Have we trials and temptations?
Is there trouble anywhere?
We should never be discouraged;
take it to the Lord in prayer.
Can we find a friend so faithful
who will all our sorrows share?
Jesus knows our every weakness;
take it to the Lord in prayer.
Are we weak and heavy laden,
cumbered with a load of care?
Precious Savior, still our refuge;
take it to the Lord in prayer.
Do thy friends despise, forsake thee?
Take it to the Lord in prayer!
In his arms he'll take and shield thee;
thou wilt find a solace there.
(Text: Joseph M. Scriven, 1820-1886. Music: Charles C. Converse, 1832-1918)
Will you, my friends, though not as close a friend am I to you as our Lord and Saviour, lean upon Him, trust in His everlasting arms. Will you not allow Him to carry all your burdens, cares and worries upon His His own shoulders.
Will you not allow:
Him to be a Friend indeed
to a friend in need.
He is that friend whom is closer and more true to His Word than any other whom you have ever known.
He has promised that He will never forsake nor leave you. That means, that no matter what ever your situation, no matter what ever you are going through, no matter whatever your ups or downs, no matter whatever your stature in life, He is always there as a friend, the very closest friend that you will ever have, be there to help you through and be your strength, your strong shoulder, your all in all.
If you are drowning in sorrow, in pain, in strife or whatever, He is there, He will be your shoulder to cry on, you help in trouble. He has given His life for you to see you through any and all trials and tribulations.
None is a greater friend than Jesus, nor will there ever be. Trust in Him to be your friend through each and every situation, whether good or bad, whether through joys or sorrow.
Whom are you trusting to be your true and trustful friend?
Whom is Jesus to you?
What a friend we have in Jesus!
We determined to mature in our relationships with men and women,
learning the meaning of a partnership of equals,
seeking neither dominance over people
nor servile dependency on them.
"Homosexuality is an attempt to achieve human contact and to break through stark isolation." [Charles Socarides, Homosexuality, p. 159] It is an inappropriate attempt to meet real needs (please review Can Homosexuals Change?).
There are appropriate ways to get these needs met. Dr. Lillian B. Rubin notes, "The burgeoning field of adult development contradicts earlier theories that identity formation is a one-time, all-or-nothing affair that is crystallized in early childhood and determined by the nature of family relations. Rather, most modern theorists now understand the formation of a personal identity as a lifetime process to which our varied experiences in the social world, as well as the family, make their contributions.... It is friends who provide a reference outside the family against which to measure and judge ourselves; who help us during passages that require our separation and individuation; who support us as we adapt to new roles and new rules; who heal the hurts and make good the deficits of other relationships in our lives..." [Lillian Rubin, Just Friends, p. 11-13]
Healthy friendships are vital to true recovery. As Dr. Moberly states, "...Deep friendships ....are central, and indeed essential, to the solution of the problem of homosexuality." [Homosexuality: A New Christian Ethic, p. 32]
When some of us heard this, we felt a deep sense of despair. We thought, "I've never been able to sustain a close friendship! Does this mean there is no hope for me?" It does not! Friendship is a skill to be developed. Step 12 tells us how!
We begin by acknowledging that this is an area in which we need to mature. We must recognize and put off those self-defeating ways of thinking and acting that have kept us from true friend- ships and real freedom.
Most of us suffered deficits in our childhood relationship with our same-sex parent. This made it difficult to relate well with same-sex friends from our earliest years. During puberty, when sexual feelings became intense, many of us pulled within ourselves and hid. We may have tried to appear outwardly normal and may even have succeeded in concealing our inner turmoil, but we felt somehow outsiders who were not truly accepted by others.
Some of us had character defects which put people off but which we did not know how to cor- rect. We sometimes tried to "buy" friends through sexual activity. We felt we had nothing else to offer that could make anyone want a friendship with us. Feeling we could never be loved for ourselves, we looked on sex as a way to get a hold on others and compel them to want us.
We tried to find love through sex but instead experienced rejection and disappointment. Unre- solved problems within ourselves and within those with whom we tried to relate sabotaged our dreams. Our unmet love needs drove us to reach out--often unwisely, usually inappropriately. Our unhealed childhood wounds forced us to pull back--fearing the pain of another hurt.
Dr. Stanley Willis II notes, "...Most homosexual contacts....when closely examined...are often part of a complex psychodynamic system which, despite appearances to the contrary, is actually designed to avoid being emotionally bound or committed to another person. Too often the homosexual courtship...plays out an old sterile drama, compulsively repeated, which...reveals itself to be basically nothing more than a minuet of approach and avoidance.... Mere orgasm ...becomes the limited aim of the relationship. The partner is often treated as an expendable object to be quickly replaced or discarded." [Understanding and Counseling the Male Homosexual, p. 9]
Such experiences bring an even greater fear of being hurt. "The direction of the search shifts toward an attempt to find sexual intimacy without any emotional involvement.... But the deeper needs for real security and love are never really satisfied. There is an endless dissatisfaction which either heightens the urgent desire to make still further homosexual contacts or aggravates the undercurrent of loneliness and despair." [ibid., p. 141]
Having realized the futility of such a pattern and being determined to seek true friendships instead of sexual activity, we begin by reaching out to persons of the same sex. "An attachment to the same sex is not wrong, indeed it is precisely the right thing for meeting same-sex deficits. What is improper is the eroticization of the friendship." [Elizabeth Moberly, Homosexuality: A New Christian Ethic, p. 20]
Having learned that the erotic short-cut was really a dead-end, we set out to do the hard work necessary to have healthy friendships. We sought relationships founded on Jesus Christ, sus- tained by healthy doses of time and effort, and containing elements of love, deep sharing, self-sacrifice, encouragement, stimulation, spiritual challenge, loyalty, and plain, old-fashioned fun. [Jerry and Mary White, Friends and Friendship, p. 9-31]
It takes time to meet long-neglected needs and to heal deep wounds, but, as this takes place through the medium of healthy same-sex friendships, we can begin to reach out to persons of the other sex. "Heterosexuality is the ability to relate to both sexes...as a psychologically complete member of one's own sex." [Elizabeth Moberly, Homosexuality: A New Christian Ethic, p. 22] At first we begin with simple friendship, but over time romantic and even erotic feelings may come and we can proceed step-by-step toward marriage, if that is God's calling for us.
In all of this we can profit from the experience of friends in our HA chapter and from the guidance of a knowledgeable counselor. We will seek God's will and remember, "He that believeth shall not make haste" (Isaiah 28:16). We need not rush or feel any sense of anxiety. We are not trying to prove anything to anyone but are only seeking to grow up into Christ in all things (Ephesians 4:15). We know that to try something before God has readied us is to risk hurt to others and disappointment for ourselves. "Therefore I will look unto the Lord: I will wait for the God of my salvation: my God will hear me" (Micah 7:7).
In the process of developing healthy friendships, we must try to avoid two traps which under- mine wholesome relationships: dominance (or control) and servile dependency.
Control is a real issue for many of us. Because we have been hurt as children, we feel a strong need to take charge of our world so we can protect ourselves from further injury. When we were young, our parent's problems and our environment were inflicted on us. We felt we had to find some way to turn that around.
While that may have been a helpful, even necessary, strategy when we were children, it hinders our capacity for friendship now that we are adults. Because we are so afraid we will lose con- trol of our lives if we are not in charge, people find us controlling, self-centered, rigid, and lacking in spontaneity.
A person with this need to control "is like an actor who wants to run the whole show; is forever trying to arrange the lights, the ballet, the scenery and the rest of the players in his own way.... What usually happens? The show doesn't come off very well.... He decides to exert himself more. He becomes...still more demanding or gracious, as the case may be. Still the play does not suit him. Admitting he may be somewhat at fault, he is sure that other people are more to blame. He becomes angry, indignant, self-pitying. What is his basic trouble? Is he not really a self-seeker even when trying to be kind? Is he not a victim of the delusion that he can wrest satisfaction and happiness out of this world if he only manages well? Is it not evident to all the rest of the players that these are the things he wants? And do not his actions make each of them wish to retaliate, snatching all they can get from the show?" [Alcoholics Anonymous, p. 60-61]
This determination to control springs from a fear to trust that we learned early in life. Because of the hurt we felt in our relationship with our same-sex parent, we put up walls to protect our- selves. We have kept these walls in place ever since.
"We non-trusters look at life and people as unsafe. We need to be in control, to make sure things turn out right. If we trust someone else, then we may not be able to guarantee the future. We might be abandoned, rejected or exploited by them. Therefore, it is easier for us to skip to another surface relationship...where we are not expected to be open, vulnerable or trusting. In surface relationships, we can maintain our power position." [Jim Conway, Adult Children of Legal or Emotional Divorce, p. 96]
We all used various means to maintain that power position. Some of us tried anger, pouting, sulking. We found that people got tired of walking on egg shells around us and turned to more congenial company.
Some of us determined to be self-sufficient. We refused to let others help us because we were overly fearful of obligation or dependency. Since we made people feel we had no need of them, they went on to others who helped them feel good about themselves by receiving as well as giving.
Others of us used weakness and neediness to gain the upper hand. We got pity, but no friend- ship. We used guilt or any other means we knew to manipulate people into giving us what we needed, to keep them from hurting us, and to get them to do what we wanted. This left them feeling used and angry. Then we wondered why we were alone.
"Healthy relationships are not power struggles. They involve give and take, and shared respon-sibility." [Janet Woititz, Struggle For Intimacy, p. 51]
"Control is an illusion.... We cannot control anyone's behaviors. We cannot (and have no business trying to) control anyone's emotions, mind, or choices. We cannot control the outcome of events. We cannot control life. Some of us can barely control ourselves.
"People ultimately do what they want to do... If doesn't matter if they're wrong and we're right. If doesn't matter if they're hurting themselves. It doesn't matter that we could help them if they'd only listen to...us....
"We cannot change people.... We can sometimes do things that increase the probability that people will want to change, but we can't even guarantee...that.... The only person you can... change is yourself. The only person that it is your business to control is yourself.
"Detach. Surrender.... You don't have to stop caring or loving. You don't have to tolerate abuse. You don't have to abandon constructive, problem-solving methods.... Make any deci- sions you need to make to take care of yourself, but don't make them to control other people.... Deal with your feelings. Face your fears about losing control. Gain control of yourself and your responsibilities." [Melody Beattie, Codependent No More, p. 74-75]
"Ultimately, we cannot control life, so the more we try to control it, the more out of control we feel.... We slowly find that one of the most powerful and healing acts is giving up our need to be always in control.... In this context, the word 'surrender' does not mean to 'give up'...in the military sense of losing a war. Rather, we mean that one who surrenders wins the struggle of trying to control, and ameliorates most of the resultant needless suffering... This becomes an ongoing process in life, not a goal to be achieved only once." [Charles Whitfield, Healing the Child Within, p. 68-69]
The desire to control or dominate is really a desire to play God. He is the One who should be sovereign. Many of us didn't want to take God's place. We wanted someone else to take His place in our lives. Our problem was "servile dependency."
There is an appropriate depending on others. We all need people we can trust; people we can, at times, be a child with; people on whom we can, on occasion, lean and with whom we can laugh. We all need to know that others will be there for us if needed. "No man is an island." It is not this dependency, but "servile dependency", against which our step warns.
"Servile" means "like that of slaves....; slavish, cringing....not free." [Webster's New Universal Unabridged Dictionary, p. 1659] "Servile dependency"--that clinging which cries, "Please don't leave me; I'll do anything!" is really just another addiction.
"When a person goes to another with the aim of filling a void in himself, the relationship quickly becomes the center of his or her life. It offers him a solace that contrasts sharply with what he finds everywhere else, so he returns to it more and more, until he needs it to get through each day of his otherwise stressful and unpleasant existence. When a constant exposure to something is necessary in order to make life bearable, an addiction has been brought about, however romantic the trappings. The ever-present danger of withdrawal creates an ever-present craving." [Stanton Peele with Archie Brodsky, Love and Addiction, p. 70]
"...Dependency may appear to be love because it is a force that causes people to fiercely attach themselves to one another. But in actuality it is not love; it is a form of antilove. It has its genesis in a parental failure to love and it perpetuates the failure. It seeks to receive rather than to give. It nourishes infantilism rather than growth. It works to trap and constrict rather than to liberate. Ultimately it destroys rather than builds people." [M. Scott Peck, The Road Less Traveled, p. 105]
Servile dependency destroys friendships as well. As the dependent person clings to his or her friend, expecting them to meet all his or her needs (an impossible task for any human being), the other individual begins to feel overwhelmed, smothered. They draw back. The dependent feels alarm and seeks to grab hold more tightly. So the relationship continues until the tensions blow it apart and both parties limp away deeply wounded.
To avoid servile dependency, be certain to maintain a healthy relationship with your heavenly Father. There are some needs only He can meet. He has determined that other needs are to be met through people. Don't look to only one friend to meet those needs, but try to develop three to five close friendships. Aim to divide your time equally among these friends so you will not become overly dependent on one person. Thus you can work toward that "partnership of equals" which our step encourages.
"Some of us have known only surface relationships. We have felt isolated and lonely, and have covered up our hurts and fears with humor, success, withdrawal, or with any number of other defense mechanisms. Some of us have had relationships in which we have been smothered, con-demned, manipulated, hurt and angry. We in turn have often treated others in the same way... The Lord created us as relational beings. It is His design that we find true meaning in life through the context of rich relationships.... Our relational needs are genuine. We need both a relationship with God and relationships with others if we are to become strong, healthy, loving people." [Robert McGee, Pat Springle and Jim Craddock, Your Parents and You, p. 61]
"Ideally, any relationship is going to be one in which there is a mutual sharing of nourishment. This may not be totally balanced...because each of you will go through differing seasons of need, but over a period of time the nourishment should be mutual. It is important...to ask, 'Is this relationship committed only to the needs of one person?' It is very easy for some of us to agree to friendships that are essentially lopsided." [Rich Buhler, New Choices, New Boundar- ies, p. 106-107] Such friendships do not meet our deficits or heal our wounds and thus do not promote recovery.
Carefully applying the principles in Step 12 will help us avoid these pitfalls and find the rich rewards and wonderful freedom that healthy relationships were meant to bring.
1. Are friendships really important?
II Samuel 1:25-27
Some have tried to argue from this passage that David and Jonathan had a homosexual relation- ship. The following considerations show that this is an impossible view.
First, both David and Jonathan were clearly heterosexual. David's heterosexuality was so intense it led him to violate God's law that a king should not take many wives (compare Deuter- onomy 17:14-17 and I Chronicles 3:1-9). Heterosexual passion led to the great sin of his life --adultery with Bathsheba (II Samuel 11:1-12:14). Jonathan was married and had at least one child (I Samuel 20:12-15, 42; II Samuel 4:4). One can hardly think of two less likely candidates for a homosexual love affair!
Second, had such a relationship existed, David would have hidden it rather than proclaimed it. The Mosaic law demanded death as the penalty for homosexual activity (Leviticus 20:13). For David to suggest that he and Jonathan had engaged in sexual acts would have been tantamount to asking to be stoned! The fact that David publicly announced his love for Jonathan shows he did not for one moment think anyone would believe he was referring to a homosexual relation- ship. The fact that his hearers made no move to execute him shows they did not think he was referring to homosexual activity either.
Actually, to interpret this passage to mean that David and Jonathan were sexually involved is to miss the very point David is making. David is not contrasting two kinds of sexual relation- ship (heterosexual as opposed to homosexual) but is contrasting sexual love with friendship. David thoroughly enjoyed sex, but, as much as he delighted in the love of women, the blessing of his friendship with Jonathan far outstripped any sexual love he had ever known!
It is tragic that some have never known any closeness that did not involve sex. "...The estate of male friendship--indeed, of nearly all human relationships--is sufficiently sunk that mere sex remains at the center of people's imaginations. The only moving human relationships that people seem able to conjure up are erotic ones." [Stuart Miller, Men and Friendship, p. 3] "Those who cannot conceive Friendship as a substantive love but only as a disguise or elabora-tion of Eros betray the fact that they have never had a Friend." [C. S. Lewis, The Four Loves, p. 91]
"A 'human loner' is a contradiction in terms. The existence of a human in isolation from others is like a plant trying to survive without sunlight or water." [John Powell and Loretta Brady, Will the Real Me Please Stand Up?, p. 9-10]
"A lack of human contacts is always painful. People need intimacy, warmth, a sense of worth, and frequent confirmation of their identities." [Suzanne Gordon, Lonely in America, p. 31]
"We need others...if we are to know anything, even ourselves." [C. S. Lewis, The Four Loves, p. 12]
"The proverb...expresses the gain of mutual counsel...in clear, well-defined thoughts. Two minds...acting on each other become more acute." [E. H. Plumptre, "The Book of Proverbs," The Bible Commentary IV, p. 604]
"When problems arise..., other family members are too caught up in the situation to provide necessary help and counsel. The church as a whole is too large and impersonal. The small group? Well, there are some things you simply don't feel free to share with them. They might not understand. But a friend who understands, who listens, who accepts, who cares? That relationship is beyond price. We all...need at least one friend with whom we can be wholly ourselves, wholly honest, wholly accepted." [Joseph Cooke, Celebration of Grace, p. 205]
"Possibly also in the simile of the iron lies a reminder of the discipline which friendship gives to character, a discipline...not always unaccompanied by pain. Friends 'rub each other's angles down,' and sometimes the friction is...distressing to both... The blades are sharpened by a few imperceptible filings being ground off each of their edges. The use of friendship depends very largely on its frankness, just as its sweetness depends on mutual consideration." [R. F. Horton, "The Book of Proverbs," The Expositor's Bible III, p. 405]
"We must be involved with other people, one at the very minimum, but hopefully more than one. At all times in our lives, we must have at least one person who cares for us and whom we care for... If we do not have this person, we will not be able to fulfill our basic needs.... One characteristic is essential in the other person: he must be in touch with reality himself and able to fulfill his own needs within the world." [William Glasser, Reality Therapy, p. 7]
"In the heart of our friend we see our own character reflected just as gazing into a still pool we see the reflection of our own face. It is in the frank and sympathetic intercourse of friendship that we really get to know ourselves, and to realize what is in us. We unfold to one another, we discover our similarities and mark our differences. Points which remained unobserved in our own hearts are immediately detected and understood when we see them also in our friends.... We hardly guess what a fund of happy humor is in us until we are encouraged to display it by observing how its flashes light up the face we love. Our capacities of sympathy and tenderness remain undeveloped until we wish eagerly to comfort our friend in sudden sorrow. In a true friendship we find that we are living a life which is doubled in all its faculties of enjoyment and of service; we quite shudder to think what cold, apathetic, undeveloped creatures we should have been but for that genial touch which enfolded us, and warmed our hearts into genuine feeling while it brought our minds into active play." [R. F. Horton, "The Book of Proverbs," The Expositor's Bible III, p. 405]
"Friendship is the greatest of worldly goods. Certainly to me it is the chief happiness of life. If I had to give a piece of advice to a young man about a place to live, I think I should say, 'Sacrifice almost everything to live where you can be near your friends.'" [The Letters of C. S. Lewis to Arthur Greeves (1914-1963), p. 477]
2. Should one be careful in choosing one's friends?
"Wisdom in Scripture is far more than intelligence.... A wise person is one who has skill in living based upon his reverential trust in God and acquired by learning and applying God's Word to daily life." [Gary Inrig, Quality Friendship, p. 125]
When Scripture warns against the fool, "the title is not a judgment on his mental capacity, but on his spiritual attitude. Some of history's most brilliant men intellectually have been what Proverbs would call fools. The chief characteristic of such a man is rebellion against God's person and truth (1:7).... A related Hebrew word means 'confidence,' and it captures the supreme characteristic of the fool: his confidence in himself, not in God.... Not only will he destroy himself (1:32), he will also destroy his friends (13:20).' [idem.]
"The next best thing to being wise oneself is to live in a circle of those who are." [C. S. Lewis, Selected Literary Essays, p. 99]
"The quality of a relationship is in direct ratio to the quality of the selves entering into that relationship." [Thomas Howard, His, (February 1977), p. 18]
I Corinthians 15:33
"'Stop deceiving yourselves' (or 'allowing yourselves to be misled.').... The delusion is spelled out in...an epigram from Menander's Thais, 'Bad company corrupts good character'.... Keeping company with evil companions can have a corrosive influence on one's own attitudes and behav- ior." [Gordon Fee, "The First Epistle to the Corinthians," The New International Commentary on the New Testament, p. 773]
"A Dutch proverb says, 'He that lives with cripples learns to limp;' and the Spanish, 'He that goes with wolves learns to howl.' We have a homely English proverb, 'He that lies down with dogs shall rise up with fleas'..." [Gray and Adams Bible Commentary II, p. 824]
3. What character defects should one beware of when choosing a friend?
"I have seen...all sorts of people converted--great blasphemers, pleasure-seekers, thieves, drunkards, unchaste persons, and hardened reprobates. But rarely have I seen a man converted who has been a thorough-paced liar. The heart which is crammed with craft and treachery seems as if it had passed out of the reach of grace." [C. H. Spurgeon, Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit XXVII, (1881), p. 113-114]
"Pride, in the religious sense, is the attitude of autonomy, of self-determination, of independence of God." [J. C. P. Cockerton in Gathered Gold, p. 249]
The man who rebels against God when he does not get his way will also turn against you when you cross his will. He will also be likely to turn on you unless you join him in his rebellion against the Lord.
"When you find a man disposed to flatter yourselves, and to ridicule and vilify the absent--suspect him; beware of him; make no confidential communications to him.... The probability is, that in the very next place to which he goes, you yourself may be the subject of his ill-natured sarcasms, and the very persons he has to you been reviling, the subjects of his flattery." [Ralph Wardlaw, Lectures on the Book of Proverbs II, p. 360]
"Though we must be civil to all, yet we must be careful whom we...contact a familiarity with.... A man who is easily provoked, touchy, and...who, when he is in a passion, cares not what he says or does...is not fit to be a friend..., for he will be ever and anon angry with us and that will be our trouble, and he will expect that we should, like him, be angry with others, and that will be our sin.... Those we go with we are apt to grow like." [Matthew Henry, Commentary on the Whole Bible III, p. 907]
"We are inclined to look upon bad temper as a very human weakness....and yet the Bible again and again returns to condemn it as one of the most destructive elements in human nature.... No form of vice, not worldliness, not greed of gold, not drunkenness itself, does more to unChrist- ianize society than evil temper. For embittering life, for breaking up communities,...for devastating homes, for withering up men and women..., in short, for sheer gratuitous misery-provoking power, this influence stands alone." [Henry Drummond, The Greatest Thing in the World and Other Addresses, p. 17-18]
"There is no little truth in the saying, that we either are like our friends..., or will soon be." [Ralph Wardlaw, Lectures on the Book of Proverbs III, p. 62]
"...The word 'fear,'....expresses the general idea of reverence,--or holding in awe. God is to be feared...supremely; kings subordinately." [Ralph Wardlaw, Lectures on the Book of Proverbs III, p. 124]
"The people described as 'given to change' are...people who are rebellious and disloyal." [Gary Inrig, Quality Friendship, p. 132]
"To be given to change;...to alter for the sake of altering; to be weary of the old, and captiv-ated with the new, however untried...--is a fearful hazard." [Charles Bridges, An Exposition of Proverbs, p. 456]
The Hebrew word translated "riotous" or "glutton" "describes any form of free-spending self-indulgence..." [Gary Inrig, Quality Friendship, p. 132]
"Those that are companions of riotous men...will certainly be drawn from keeping the law of God...to transgress it..." [Matthew Henry, Commentary on the Whole Bible III, p. 953]
"Does this mean that I can just write off people like that and have nothing to do with them? Who will reach them if I ignore them? The answer is given through the first half of Proverbs 13:20, which teaches a far more positive truth: 'He who walks with wise men will be wise.' If my closest and most significant friendships are with those committed to God's wisdom, I will be building upon a solid base as I reach out to others." [Gary Inrig, Quality Friendship, p. 133-134]
4. What qualities should one look for in a prospective friend?
"True happiness consists not in the multitude of friends, but in their worth and choice." [Ben Johnson in To Be a Friend, p. 13]
"The fear of the Lord is a brief description of true religion. It is a...hearty submission to our heavenly Father. It consists...in a holy reverence of God....accompanied by a child-like trust in Him, which leads to loving obedience, tender submission, and lowly adoration." [C. H. Spurgeon, Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit XXXVI, (1890), p. 338]
"If you think yourself above criticism, you are not worth it." [Derek Kidner, "Proverbs," The Tyndale Old Testament Commentaries, p. 95]
"...When the soul is filled with chaff there is no room left for wheat." [C. H. Spurgeon, Metro- politan Tabernacle Pulpit XXI, (1875), p. 294]
"The greatest happiness of life is the conviction that we are loved, loved for ourselves, or rather loved in spite of ourselves." [Victor Hugo in To Be a Friend, p. 27]
"Every man should have a fair-sized cemetery in which to bury the faults of his friends." [Henry Ward Beecher in ibid., p. 19]
"When two friends part they should lock up each other's secrets and exchange keys." [Diogenes in ibid., p. 10]
"Be slow to fall into friendship; but when thou art in, continue firm and constant." [Socrates in David Smith, Men Without Friends, p. 103]
"We are all in the same boat in a stormy sea, and we owe each other a terrible loyalty." [G. K. Chesterton in Inspiring Quotations Contemporary & Classical, p. 97]
"Let me have the strength and the courage to love my friends!" [Pindar's Prayer in Stuart Miller, Men and Friendship, p. 198]
"Faults are thick when love is thin," [James Howell in Inspiring Quotations Contemporary & Classical, p. 98]
"Be true to your word, your work, and your friend." [Henry David Thoreau in To Be a Friend, p. 50]
"He that ceaseth to be a friend never was a good one." [H. G. Bohn in idem.]
5. What qualities should one develop to be a good friend?
"...Let each so enter into the feelings and desires of the other as to be of one mind with him. This loving concord cannot exist where the mind is set on 'high things,' such as rank, wealth, honor." [E. H. Gifford, "Romans," The Bible Commentary IX, p. 209]
"Instead of 'minding high things,' they are....to be ready to perform the humblest offices...; remembering that their Lord washed the disciples' feet, and, in so doing, had given them an example that they should do to one another what He had done to all (John 13:1-17)." [John Brown, Analytical Exposition of the Epistle of Paul the Apostle to the Romans, p. 471]
"You remember the schoolboy's definition of a friend: 'A friend is someone who knows all about you and still likes you." [William Barclay, Daily Celebration, p. 208]
"Who seeks a faultless friend remains friendless." [Turkish proverb in The Crown Treasury of Relevant Quotations, p. 308]
"William James, the influential psychologist of the early 1900s, said, 'The deepest principle of man is the craving to be appreciated.'" [David Smith, Men Without Friends, p. 154]
"When a friend is in trouble, don't annoy him by asking if there is anything you can do. Think up something appropriate and do it." [E. W. Howe in The Crown Treasury of Relevant Quotations, p. 305]
"Evil" or "corrupt" "here is sapros, a word used of rotten...fruit. When applied to rotten talk, whether this is dishonest, unkind or vulgar, we may be sure that in some way it hurts the hearers. Instead, we are to use our unique gift of speech constructively, for edifying, that is to build people up and not damage or destroy them..." [John Stott, God's New Society, p. 188]
"When seven-year-old David Wilson was asked to define love, he said: "Two friends playing together. And love is when you like to play when he wants to and you may not want to." [The Crown Treasury of Relevant Quotations, p. 308]
Rebecca West learned "there was a definite process by which one made people into friends, and it involved talking to them and listening to them for hours at a time." [The Crown Treasury of Relevant Quotations, p. 307]
"...Very seldom do you come across someone who really listens to you. To really listen, someone must love you in some way. Friendship is, first and foremost, an ear." [Ferrucccio, Count of Chiaramonte, in Stuart Miller, Men and Friendship, p. 109]
"The porcupine, whom we must handle gloved,
may be respected, but is never loved."
[Arthur Guiterman in David Smith, Men Without Friends, p. 86]
I John 4:7
"The root of our word friend is the Old English freon, which means 'to love.' Loving in the biblical sense means to give fully by concentrating on the needs...of the one loved. If either friend concentrates only on himself, the friendship will weaken and die. One person cannot bear the entire responsibility for the loving maintenance of a friendship." [Jerry and Mary White, Friends and Friendship, p. 91-92]
"As much as anything else, friendship is the inner habit of holding someone who is neither spouse nor relative, nor teacher, nor lover, in your heart." [Stuart Miller, Men and Friendship, p. 8]
"The only way to have a friend is to be one." [Ralph Waldo Emerson in The Treasure of Friendship, p. 10]
6. Does the course of true friendship always run smoothly?
"...If you are interested in...friendship, you have to avoid thinking it will be straightforward, easy, fast, or painless. Almost everywhere I looked, I found friendship dead, the very idea not taken seriously.... To revive true friendship...(requires) tough persistence, struggle, and... knowledge..." [Stuart Miller, Men and Friendship, p. 58]
"We call that person who has lost his father an orphan; and a widower that man who has lost his wife. And that man who has known the immense unhappiness of losing a friend, by what name do we call him? Here every language holds its peace in impotence." [Joseph Roux in The Crown Treasury of Relevant Quotations, p. 309]
"A friendship is a delicate growth; and even when it has become robust, it can easily be blighted. The results of years may be lost in a few days.... A difficulty with a chance acquaintance is easily removed;...and even if we separate we have no deep resentment. But a difference between true friends may quickly become irreparable.... The resentment springs from a sense of abused confidence and injured love." [R. F. Horton, "The Book of Proverbs," The Expositor's Bible III, p. 405-406]
"...Can a broken friendship ever be healed? Of course. Eventually, fortified cities do fall and barred gates do open, but only after much time and energy is expended." [Jerry and Mary White, Friends and Friendship, p. 101-102]
"A man, Sir, should keep his friendships in constant repair." [Samuel Johnson in The Treasure of Friendship, p. 53]
"Faithful are the reproofs of a friend, though, for the present they are painful as wounds. It is a sign that our friends are faithful indeed if, in love to our souls, they will not suffer sin upon us, nor let us alone in it. The physician's care is to cure the patient's disease, not to please his palate." [Matthew Henry, Commentary on the Whole Bible III, p. 947]
"Paul and Barnabas parted company, men who had known each other for ten years, and had... served together for about six..., nor did they part...agreeably. What was the trouble? John Mark. This young man had gone with Paul and Barnabas on the first missionary journey.... When the party reached Perga in Pamphylia,...'John...returned to Jerusalem'.... Luke's ' withdrew' and 'went not with them to the work' denote decided blame.... When Paul pro- posed a second journey, Barnabas, a cousin of Mark's (Colossians iv.10 R.V.), suggested that he should again accompany them. Paul...would not have it, and there was a sharp contention.... Which of these two good and great men was right...? Paul was intense and Barnabas was kind, and each carried his virtue beyond...virtue. There are times when the Barnabas-like should be severe, and there are times when the Paul-like should be tender." [W. Graham Scroggie, The Acts of the Apostles, p. 117-119]
"This conflict is one of the most remarkable and important events in all Church History. We see St. Peter and St. Paul in open antagonism: the rebuke coming from St. Paul, and the blame resting on St. Peter, and this on a question very seriously affecting Christian faith and conduct in all future ages." [J. S. Howson, "Galatians," The Bible Commentary IX, p. 505]
To imply "that the Israelite by virtue of his legal observances stood in a higher position than 'sinners of the Gentiles' was to stultify the doctrine of the cross, to make Christ's death... gratuitous... Peter's error, pushed to its logical consequences, involved the overthrow of the Gospel." [G. G. Findlay, "The Epistle to the Galatians," The Expositor's Bible V, p. 846]
"We have every reason to believe that...Peter...freely acknowledged his error and honored his reprover. Both the Epistles that bear his name...testify to the high value which their author set upon the teaching of 'our beloved brother Paul.'" [ibid., p. 847]
"Let us be certain that a man is to be blamed before we withstand him; and when we do so, let it be to his face." [John Brown, An Exposition of the Epistle to the Galatians, p. 84]
7. Should I try to dominate my friends?
"Why were the ten displeased...? Because they also wanted place and power.... Jesus teaches that to serve is to reign.... We are great not as we get, but as we give, not by being lords, but by being servants, not by wearing crowns, but by bearing crosses, and by washing feet." [W. Graham Scroggie, The Gospel of Mark, p. 189, 191]
"True greatness...does not mean dominance, but service." [James Denney, The Death of Christ, p. 27]
"The descent to hell is easy, and those who begin by worshipping power soon worship evil." [C. S. Lewis, The Allegory of Love, p. 188]
"Human beings hunger for power. German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche argued...that 'the will to power' is the basic human drive.... To be free from all limitations, to transcend the proscriptions of society and God, and to shrug off responsibility for others if such responsibility interferes with personal goals is, according to Nietzsche, what every person naturally craves....
"While I am diametrically opposed to Nietzsche's atheistic beliefs, I appreciate his honest appraisal of things.... Strangely, what this enemy of Christianity says about human nature is very much in harmony with what the Bible teaches.... Nietzsche clearly saw the hunger for power as anti-Christian. Consequently, he declared that Christianity should be abolished.... He knew that Christ's call to servanthood and humility precludes all power games... In short, to be coercive and Christian at the same time is impossible. Christianity is a religion for people who acknowledge their weakness and want to make love the foundation of their lives." [Anthony Campolo, Jr., The Power Delusion, p. 9-11]
"It is not within our power to change people. If they don't change themselves, change will never take place. We can love people, pray for them, offer suggestions, and even confront them. But we cannot change them. The more we try to change people, the worse our relation- ships will become.... The best way to help people change...is to give them freedom.... Of course there is risk involved... That person...might abuse his liberty and make a mess of his life. But...it is his life. And...we cannot live his life for him. Even if he falls flat on his face, that failure in itself may be what it takes to set the change process into motion." [Judson Edwards, What They Never Told Us About How To Get Along With Each Other, p. 82-83]
"Christians often have more problems with needing control than others.... Some even delude themselves into thinking they can control grace...., forgetting that grace is a pure gift. No one can manipulate God into giving. He's too wonderful for such games! Flesh wars against grace because it knows no humility." [Alexander De Jong, Alcoholism and Codependency, p. 111-112]
"...Bearing the infirmities of the weak requires that we...not...'please ourselves,' i. e. indulge our own will and pleasure..., but rather 'let each of us please his neighbor,' conciliate him by forbearance and loving sympathy..." [E. H. Gifford, "Romans," The Bible Commentary IX, p. 222]
"But the command 'to please' has its limits. These are indicated by the end to be sought--'For good to edification'.... When men can be both pleased and profited, it is very right they should be pleased. But it often happens that the two things are utterly incompatible. Even good men cannot always be pleased and profited at the same time. To please, you must sometimes do what would injure them; and to profit..., you must do what is likely to offend them." [John Brown, Analytical Exposition of the Epistle of Paul the Apostle to the Romans, p. 545-546]
When such a choice is thrust upon us, the Bible clearly teaches that we are to do what God says is genuinely in the other's best interest even if he is thereby displeased.
I Corinthians 9:19-22
"To be 'as one without the law' does not mean to be 'lawless.'... For Paul the language 'being under (or "keeping") the law' has to do with being Jewish in a national-cultural-religious sense; but as a new man in Christ he also expects the Spirit to empower him (as well as all of God's new people) to live out the ethics of the new age, which are the 'commands of God' (7:19) now written on hearts of flesh (cf. Ezek. 36:26-27)." [Gordon Fee, "The First Epistle to the Corinthians," The New International Commentary on the New Testament, p. 430]
"The greatest pleasure of a dog is that you may make a fool of yourself with him, and not only will he not scold you, but he will make a fool of himself too." [Samuel Butler in The Portable Curmudgeon, p. 87]
8. Should I be dependent on a friend in a servile way?
There is a great difference between trusting people and trusting in people. While the Bible urges us to love others with a love that "believeth all things" (I Corinthians 13:7; review the material on "FAITH in others" in the index), it warns us not to give people the absolute dependency that should be God's alone.
"Let us not trust in the men of this world, for they are broken reeds.... There is no depending on their wisdom to advise us, their power to act for us, their good-will to us, no, nor upon their promises, in comparison with God, nor otherwise than in subordination to him." [Matthew Henry, Commentary on the Whole Bible, III, p. 467]
"Men are...far too apt to depend upon the great ones of earth and forget the Great One above; and this...is the fruitful source of disappointment." [C. H. Spurgeon, The Treasury of David VII, p. 401]
"...Safe as it seems, the security of emotional dependency is like the Chinese water torture. In the beginning, it doesn't hurt, and it can even seem pleasant; but in the end, its cumulative effect is to generate a pain that floods over all other sensations." [William Crisman, The Opposite of Everything Is True, p. 178]
"All God's giants have been weak men who did great things for God because they reckoned on God being with them." [J. Hudson Taylor in Gathered Gold, p. 96]
9. Whose friendship should I be most careful to cultivate?
II Chronicles 20:7
"God, being perfect, has capacity for perfect friendship." [A. W. Tozer, That Incredible Christian, p. 120]
"To know Christ, serve Christ, follow Christ, obey Christ..., fight Christ's battles, all this is no small matter. But for sinful men and women like ourselves to be called 'friends of Christ,' is something...our...minds can hardly grasp... The King of kings and Lord of lords not only pities and saves all them that believe in Him, but actually calls them His 'friends.'... Why should we be afraid to pour out all our hearts...? Certainly our great Master...will never for- sake His 'friends.' Poor and unworthy as we are, He will...stand by us and keep us to the end. David never forgot Jonathan, and the Son of David will never forget His people. None so rich, so strong, so independent, so well...provided for, as the man of whom Christ says, 'This is my friend'!" [J. C. Ryle, "John," Expository Thoughts on the Gospels II, p. 346-347]
"...Worldliness is the enthronement of something other than God as the supreme object of man's interests and affections." [R. V. G. Tasker, "World," The New Bible Dictionary, p. 1339]
Men and women who say they belong to Christ but give their hearts to the world are charged with adultery because they are being unfaithful to their Lord.
I John 2:15-17
"To love the world as it is is the...love...which is 'the enemy of God', because it means I am the friend of the system of things which does not take God into account. We are to love the world in the way God loves it, and be ready to spend and be spent until the wrong and evil are removed from it." [Oswald Chambers, Biblical Ethics, p. 33]
"There were two boys in the Taylor family. The older said he must make a name for the family, and so turned his face toward Parliament and fame. The younger decided to give his life to the service of Christ, and so turned his face toward China... Hudson Taylor, the missionary, died, beloved and known on every continent. 'But when I looked in the Encyclo- pedia to see what the other son had done...I found these words, "The brother of Hudson Taylor."'" [Merv Rosell, Driftwood, p. 15]
"Build your nest on no tree here; for ye see God hath sold the forest to death; and every tree whereupon we would rest is ready to be cut down to the end that we may fly...up and build upon the Rock (Jesus)." [Samuel Rutherford in The Expositor's Dictionary of Texts II, p. 952]
"The love of creatures is deceptive and unstable; the love of Jesus is faithful and enduring. Whoever clings to any creature will fall with its falling; but he who holds to Jesus shall stand firm for ever. Love Him, therefore, and keep Him as your friend; for when all others desert you, He will not abandon you, nor allow you to perish at the last." [Thomas a Kempis, The Imitation of Christ, p. 75]
MY EXPERIENCE WORKING STEP 12
When a book titled Lonely All the Time came to my attention, I winced. That sounded like the story of my life!
I never felt that my father loved me nor was I emotionally open with my mother or brothers. Since my father worked for the U.S. Public Health Service, our family moved about once every two years until I was an adult. I'd just begin to get to know someone and it was time to say goodbye. That meant no close friends. I never learned the knack of intimacy at home or else- where.
When I became conscious of homosexual feelings, I grew afraid of intimacy. To be close was to risk being found out, so I withdrew further into my shell and the loneliness became even more acute. Defensive detachment was my pattern of relating until I lost everything and started to rebuild my life from the ground up.
I had to learn a whole new way of relating. I had always been willing to help others but never learned how to let myself be known and vulnerable so that I could be loved. I knew how to be a friend but had never allowed others to befriend me. I was frightened!
My counselor suggested that I write out what I was looking for in a friend. Having journaled that, I read several books on friendship to "get the lay of the land." Then, I launched out.
I found several friends in my HA chapter. I also found several friends among heterosexual men in church. I reached out to one man who struggled with drug addiction. That friendship was very difficult because of his repeated relapses. I found a very supportive friend in a young attorney. He has moved out of the area, but we are still in touch. I reached out to another man who was going through a painful divorce. He also became a good friend.
The course of these friendships has not always been smooth. I was much too sensitive to any perceived rejection. For example, I was supposed to get together with one friend but he called to cancel because he had to let a repairman into his home. He said maybe we could visit the next day. Fine. But he did not come. I felt some anxiety. When next I saw him I asked when we could get together. He said he'd get in touch with me, but did not. Several times over the next two weeks I asked him to let me know when would be a good time to meet. He said he would, but set no date and did not call. So, I decided that he did not want me for a friend and, hurt and angry, resumed my habit of defensive detachment. I made up my mind to write him off as a lost cause!
In this frame of mind I went to an HA meeting where a member shared his pain in a friendship with a man who was manic depressive. Whenever the man entered his depressive cycle, he became angry and took his frustrations out on the HA member, causing him much suffering. Still, he said he was determined to continue to be the man's friend, no matter what, because, he said, "We are not called by Christ to protect ourselves, but to love."
I got a glimpse of how self-centered my pain was making me and determined to go to my friend and tell him how I felt. I went to his home at once, before I lost my courage. I began by asking him to forgive me because I had been "correctly cool" to him the last time we met. I explained my feelings and closed by telling him I really wanted us to be friends, if he was willing.
He was beautiful! He apologized for not getting back to me, explaining that he had been depressed and withdraws from people when he felt that way--something I could understand only too well. So our friendship was back on track.
I wrote in my journal, "I need to be more willing to risk rejection as I openly share my needs with others. I will at times experience pain in this process, but the alternative is to be alone and easy prey for the old longings." I was learning.
And I'm still learning. There is so much to make up for, but it pays such rich dividends! I'd been in recovery a little over two years when I started traveling for HA. I spent two weeks in California leading an HA Training Seminar and visiting several chapters. I had a wonderful time, everyone was friendly, but, after about ten days, I began waking up with vivid homosexual fantasies. These were not something that came after awakening, but were there immediately--my first conscious thoughts. While I did not think there was any danger that I would act out, the fantasies did trouble me. After four or five days at home with friends, they ceased.
About eighteen months later, I was in Canada for seventeen days. This time there were no fantasies. My level of temptation remained just as it was at home--not altogether non-existent, but not something against which I have to struggle much or of which I am usually even aware.
Further, I was struck by the closeness and deep affection I felt for several of the men and women I met. A few years earlier I had no such feelings of trust and openness with anyone--not even my family. Even the year before I experienced this only with close friends. Now I was enjoying a feeling of caring and being cared for with people I had just met. Having unmet emotional needs from childhood met through healthy friendships enabled me to more easily and quickly form wholesome attachments. Thus the difference in my two trips.
And so I continue to rejoice in the growing wholeness I am experiencing and to reach forth for even better things that lie ahead. I thank God for those needs He meets directly. I thank Him for the needs He meets through others.
HOW YOU CAN WORK STEP 12
1) Listen to the tapes Friends and Friendship and What Is Love? under "STEP 12" on the "HA Book Ministry" list. Read Experience, Strength and Hope up to Step 13. Finish the book your step coach recommended to help you with Steps 8-14 and ask him to recommend a book listed under Step 12 on the "HA Book Ministry" list you can begin reading. Continue to work in your workbook. Journal what you learn from all this and share your findings with your step coach.
2) Journal the story of one of your friendships that went sour. In light of what you have learned from Step 12, write what you might do differently if faced with the same problems now. Discuss what you have written with your step coach.
3) List five people you have contact with who might be good candidates for friendship. Journal what you have in common with each and how you might approach building a friendship. Discuss this with your step coach, try to reach out to several of these people, and report to your step coach weekly on your progress and any problems you may be having.
4) Memorize one of the verses you found helpful in this chapter.
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.
This glorious hope revives
Our courage by the way,
While each in expectation lives,
And longs to see the day.
From sorrow, toil and pain,
And sin we shall be free;
And perfect love and friendship reign
(Source: LORD, SET ME FREE! A Workbook on the Fourteen Steps. Homosexuals Anonymous Fellowship Services)
After a while, they came to a high, white stone wall that looked like fine marble. At the top of a long hill, it was broken by a tall arch topped by a golden letter "H" that glowed in the sunlight. Standing before it, he saw a magnificent gate in the arch that looked like mother-of-pearl, and the street that led to the gate looked like gold.
He rode toward the gate, and as he got closer, he saw a man at a desk to one side. Parched and tired out by his journey, he called out;
'Excuse me, where are we?'
'This is Heaven, sir,' the man answered.
'Wow! Would you happen to have some water?' the man asked.
'Of course, sir. Come right in, and I'll have some ice water brought right up.'
As the gate began to open, the cowboy asked;
'Can I bring my partners, too?'
'I'm sorry, sir, but we don't accept pets.'
The cowboy thought for a moment, then turned back to the road and continued riding, his dog trotting by his side.
After another long ride, at the top of another hill, he came to a dirt road leading through a ranch gate that looked as if it had never been closed. As he approached the gate, he saw a man inside, leaning against a tree and reading a book.
'Excuse me,' he called to the man. 'Do you have any water?'
'Sure, there's a pump right over there. Help yourself.'
'How about my friends here?' the traveler gestured to the dog and his horse.
'Of course! They look thirsty, too,' said the man.
The trio went through the gate, and sure enough, there was an old-fashioned hand pump with buckets beside it. The traveler filled a cup and the buckets with wonderfully cool water and took a long drink, as did his horse and dog.
When they were full, he walked back to the man who was still standing by the tree;
'What do you call this place?' the traveler asked.
'This is Heaven,' he answered.
'That's confusing,' the traveler said. 'The man down the road said that was Heaven, too.'
'Oh, you mean the place with the glitzy, gold street and fake pearly gates? That's hell.'
'Doesn't it make you angry when they use your name like that?'
'Not at all. Actually, we're happy they screen out the folks who would leave their best friends behind...'
Likewise we need to seek out real true intimate friends who will accept us as we are and whom we can count on to know they will be there for us at all times. Friends whom we can share our most personal thoughts and struggles with. Never give up the search for real friends, and when you find one, hang on to him/her with all you got.
Yes, He is also our great friend , and He wants to be there for us to lead us through dark times, through crooked paths and heal and restore us to become one like Him.
God has not forsaken us! (A reply to an email from an online-group member)
Though I am not personally familiar with these books, I am certainly familiar with Job. Yes, at times it does seem like God has forsaken us, though He tells that, " ...be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee." Heb. 13:5 (King James Version)
Life all rounds seems like it is out of control. And in reality to my way of thinking it is. The power of the prince of the air, Satan seems to be getting more and more in control of things, yet he does as much as God gives him leash. But we also know this, God is in control and he is letting man to see that his ways are not best when left to his own devices and ways. We, on a personal level have tried to go life on our own way, leaving God out of the picture and living life our own way against His laws. So, as with any action, there is always a consequence. We are suffering from our own actions.
However, as dire as that sounds, that is not the end of the story. God is in control, and He will have the last say and His way promises us eternal life with the groanings and moanings of the earth which are suffering the consequences of sin, to come to and end. The end of the book of Revelation describes earth made anew, with sin wiped out, Satan bound so he can no longer influence the world, and where every tear will be wiped away never to be shed ever again.
This is where faith comes in. Faith is hard, for certain. We always want something we can see, we can grasp a hold of. But with God, that is not what faith is. Faith is as Michael Card sings:
Galatians 3; Romans 3:22
"To hear with my heart
To see with my soul
To be guided by a hand I cannot hold
To trust in a way I cannot see
That's what faith must be."
We need to let Him, trust Him and wait beyond at times what seems beyond human measure. Unfortunately we live in a McDonald's fast paced, want now world. We want and expect God to deliver what we want right now. That is not the way He is. We cannot of course understand His ways and why He allows to wait and to suffer sometimes so much. Our ways and His ways are far apart. But if we look at what He says in scripture and look at His creation, and stop, look and listen to Him, then we begin to understand in small measure whom He is, why He makes us to wait on His timing.
You are fretting over lack of friends. Could it be you have those friends already and do not realize it. God places people in our lives to be there in His place often to be one to whom we listen to His word, to whom we receive comfort, to whom we have a shoulder to cry on, to whom will listen to our cries.
Friends do not happen overnight. It takes time to develop a friendship Look how long it took you to become His friend. He was always there for you waiting for you to come along, and in time you did. And as said recently, true friends are hard to find. Friends unfortunately do not measure up to what we would like them to be. Friends will lie and deceive us, whereas God never does. He is always faithful and true.
This world without God would never be a world. It cannot of itself become something. Something cannot develop out of nothing unless God speaks it into existence. Anything else, evolution etc. is nothing more than lies from Satan. He will use and has used the same arguments over the centuries to deceive us and to try to make us believe that God is dead. Today he is using the media and books to try and deceive us with the likes of The Da Vinci Codes and The Judas We Never Knew. These are not new lies. They are the same lies he has used since the beginning, but dressed in a different package. If he can make people to believe that the scriptures have even one lie, then everything else is the scriptures cannot be trusted as truth neither.
When Adam and Eve were in the Garden, he did not use outward lies to deceive them, he told them half truths, and planted doubt in their minds as to what God said by twisting the words of God around so that it sounded like God actually said something else. And this has always been his main tact to deceive people since the beginning.
So, if you are having doubts about God, and what he says, stop and consider where these ideas are coming from. They are not from your own mind, but thoughts planted there by Satan himself to deceive you, so that he can cause you to turn away from God and throw your life away.
But, if you truly were once saved, then nothing, nothing at all can ever take your salvation away.
"For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come,
Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord."
Rom. 8:38-39 (King James Version)
Though you may have doubts at times, and we all do, you can never, ever lose your salvation. Though you may turn your back on God, He will not turn His back on you. Though you may return to a life of sin, you may lose some rewards prepared for you, you will still never see hell.
Be assured my friend, God loves you with an immeasurable amount of love that we can never fathom. Though He may seem at times to have forsaken you, be sure He has not.
As the poem "Footprints in the Sand" tells us, it is at those times when we least thought that He was there, that He was lifting us up.
So, my friend and friends, and to me as well, for I also lately have felt discouraged, remember that no matter what, though you may be going through tough times, though you may be discouraged, though you may think that God is turning His back on you and you feel like throwing in the towel, He is always there for you and it is not He who casts doubts and fears and bad thoughts in your mind, but it is the enemy, the prince of the air who wills to destroy you. Face Him, who loves you so much that "... he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life." John 3:16 (King James Version)
"Lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh." Luke 21:28 (King James Version)