Wednesday, 4 March 2009

Being Friends

One of the main reasons for going to the USA when I did was so that I could attend a Conference in Virginia Beach called Global Friends. This was an invitation-only gathering of friends. I was invited by Mike Berry. Mike and I have been friends for nearly 20 years. In many ways we are quite different. We have different personalities. We differ on some points of doctrine. We have a different approach to involvementin sport. At times, I find Mike too abrupt and almost offensive. He can be too way too impatient. But I really really like Mike. He's a good friend. On my last trip I got to know Mike even better. I literally shared times of tears and laughter with Mike. Because of Mike's ministry gift, he scares most people. He is, as you've heard me say many times, one of the wierdest guys I know.

Mike has taught me a lot. He knows a lot things and a lot of people. In fact, Mike knows so many people it's almost unbelievable - literally! Many people have thought that Mike was just wishfully name-dropping. But the Global Friends Conference in Virginia Beach changed all that for many people. Some of the biggest names in American Christianity, who Mike has often referred to as friends, were present at this Conference as his friends. Mike really does know how to make friends - and keep friends.
When I was being shown his church's facilities and his God-given vision for it, he shared some of the most amazing plans with me. These plans will have global impact because Mike is looking at making new friends with political leaders in nations right now hostile to America and Christianity. Mike literally wants to help world leaders to become friends, bring international wars to an end, and facilitate world peace between hostile nations. He sees friendship as the key.

Mike has spent the last few decades learning how to do this. He knows that real friendship must endure offences and misunderstandings. He knows that friendship is maintained by consistent communication. Mike knows what makes his friends tick. He knows how to help them. I'm living proof of this. He has taken the time to find this out. But he expects nothing in return. In fact, Mike tells his friends that he's not interested in "transactional" friendship. He's not just a friend because you can do something for him (that would be a "transactional friendship".) He will put his hand deeper into his pocket than anybody I know in order to help a friend.

When Mike came to our church last year, he brought a friend (Luc). Luc is now my friend. When Mike spoke to us, he spoke on friendship.

I wonder if we can learn to be better friends? The principles of good frienship are found in Romans 12:9-21. This is our emphasis in the Bible Study Groups and our Sunday nights. May God help us to not only be a friendly church but a church of friends.
Rom. 15:7 Therefore welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God.


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