A Band of Brothers

Fully human, Jesus (in his 100% humanity) needed support from friends He could trust.

On the evening before Jesus was crucified, Luke records Jesus’ transparency, saying to his disciples, “I have earnestly desired to eat this Passover meal with you before I suffer.” Later, during the meal, Jesus looked at them and said, “You are those who have stayed with me in my trials,…” (22:15, 28)

Commenting on this passage, John MacArthur, writes, “Christ’s entire life and ministry were *filled* will temptations, hardships, sorrows, and agonies.”

Do you have friends like this? Thank God Almighty, I do.

O God, thank you today for placing in my life a “band of brothers (and sisters)” on whom I can call at a moment’s notice and know, with no semblance of doubt, they would be there to hold me up.

Soli Deo Gloria, Nick

All He Did Was Invite Me to Church

For 30 years, I’ve been sharing my story with teenagers of how “a boy who grew up in a violent, alcoholic home wound up serving the Lord in full-time, vocational ministry.” The story always includes the following:

1. A friend of mine invited me to go to church with him.
2. The people at his church were the most loving people I’d ever met. That church was the embodiment of love. I wanted to live there.
3. After watching how much hope, truth, and purpose Christ was giving to me and everyone around me, I told my Youth Pastor (Jim Hardwicke) I felt like God was calling me to surrender my life to Him in ministry – whatever that may look like.
4. On July 15, 1980, at Youth Camp, I surrendered my life to the gospel ministry. My Music Pastor (Bob Griffin) told me, “Nick, if you can be happy doing anything else, God’s not called you.”
5. I can honestly say, even after 30 years, I don’t believe I could be truly happy doing anything else.

That entire story began with an invitation from a friend who loved me enough to invite me to go to church with him. That friend, who lived directly across the street from me, was Curtis Simpson. I mention his name every single time I tell this story because Jesus started this story by using the simple, loving invitation of Curtis. I always finish my story by telling students, “You never know the impact a simple invitation to church may have on a person. For me – it set in motion a lifetime of adventure with the risen Christ.”

I haven’t seen Curtis since 2000. This afternoon, guess who dropped by to see me. The mountain of a man in the photo here is my friend & brother, Curtis Simpson. I’ll never be able to thank him enough for inviting me to go to church with him.  nw

curt & nick

You’re a Star! The Movie is “Facebook”. Your role is the Loser.

EVERY PARENT should read this. And then have your teenaged child read it. Although, most teens will say, “It’s not that bad,” I side with the author. It is that bad, writes psychiatrist, Dr. Keith Ablow. (Just ask the teen to give up all social media for an extended period of time and watch their reaction.) Here’s an excerpt, followed by the link:

“A young woman saying “no” to the prom used to be a disappointment you shared with your best buddies. If you lacked self-control or decency, you might call her a name. A young woman saying “no” these days is a social media event that your whole school or several schools might know about. It is an injury not to your healthy ego, but to the thin-walled, explosive blimp of an ego you developed by posting hundreds of photos of yourself on Facebook and Tweeting out your whereabouts to “followers” and thinking you were an incredible combatant—a virtual knight with supernatural powers—on Wartune.”

“Being turned down doesn’t just mean seeing the girl you like at the dance with some other guy; it means getting her Tweets about how happy she supposedly is, seeing her posts about the big night she had and hearing how she Snapchatted all her friends a picture of her corsage. You aren’t just the boy who she turned down; you’re the actor she unwittingly cast in the feature film called Facebook—and you got the role of loser.”

“I have said it before and will say it, again, here: Cocaine is nothing as a toxic force, compared to Facebook and other techno-teen drugs. It isn’t even a contest.”


You’ve Got a Friend in Me

“Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work: If one falls down, his friend can help him up. But pity the [one] who falls and has no one to help him up!” (Ecclesiastes 4:9-10, nlt)

Solomon was a lonely man with few friends when he wrote the verses cited above. He was the richest man in the world. But, as life moved along, he was learning that there was little on earth as valuable as a true friend.

Woody needed Buzz. Shaggy needed Scooby. Spongebob needs Patrick (sort of). And Chuck Noland (Tom Hanks) needed “Wilson” in the movie, “Castaway.” Sure, each of these examples is from pop culture. But, consider these examples as proof-positive that even the secular world gives credit to what King Solomon wrote some 3000 years ago: we need each other.

Woody & Buzz

Where would we be without close, trusted friends? I had a man tell me once as we discussed this topic, “I don’t have any close friends.” My heart hurt for him.

Developing this level of friendship requires somewhat of a paradox. In order to enjoy safety you must first make yourself vulnerable. It’s also work. It requires effort. It’s the old ever-so-true adage: “In order to have friends, you must first be friendly.” Pastor/Author, Doug Fields, wrote, “You can log hours and years with someone without allowing anyone to understand your secret aches, longings, hopes, dreams and fears. You can be surrounded with friends who are essentially strangers. [Should you choose to remain distant and guarded, not allowing access to your inner self from the outside world], you’ll be choosing a kind of inner loneliness for the rest of your life.”

When we do find true friends, what we receive is a gift from God on many levels. Author, George Eliot, once wrote, “Oh, the inexpressible comfort of feeling safe with a person; having neither to weigh thoughts nor measure words, but to pour them all out, just as they are, chaff and grain together, knowing that a faithful hand will take and sift them, keep what is worth keeping, and then, with the breath of kindness, blow the rest away.”

Thank God for our friends.

Because, as Piglet says, “It’s much more friendly with two.”

Soli Deo Gloria, Nick