“STORIES FROM THE BROKEN”

There is nothing that thrills me any more than seeing people that have been broken and hurt become healed by the hand of God. It’s incredible to watch them transform from having their heads down to seeing them lift it with a renewed joy. I’ve seen them walk in the church discouraged, with no direction whatsoever; then, after a while, through the power of God and the love of God’s people, a transformation begins to take place. Seeing that happen is one of the greatest joys I get to experience as a pastor. That’s marvelous healing and restoration.

As much as that excites me; when I hear a few of their stories of how they got in that condition, it upsets me. You see, many of them have been hurt by other people. Sometimes it’s a church member, then, amazingly enough, a pastor or minister has caused it. Brothers and sisters, I don’t understand this. No matter what a person does or how disappointing they’re actions might be, no one should ever be ok with willfully causing someone hurt. Even if someone makes a mistake, nowhere in the Bible does it give anyone a right to hurt someone intentionally. That is not the Spirit of God.

As pastors, there are times the Bible tells us we have to reprove and rebuke, but there is a difference between that and hurting someone. Something is wrong when a pastor or a church member can justify such actions. If somebody messes up, deal with it and move on. Their failure shouldn’t be the talk of church members at the next gathering. I know people that suffer from real problems, but they can’t get healed from the main problem because now they’re suffering from people that have added hurt to the original issue. If you can’t speak words of healing, the best thing you can do is keep quiet; and that’s putting it nicely.

Healing follows kindness. We can’t restore what we’re not willing to forgive. Jesus said, “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.” There isn’t one of us that is perfect. That includes all of us pastors. It’s a sad day when mercy is missing from our message and actions. It’s taking me several years and a lot of criticism, but I am so glad to be the pastor of a church that loves everyone and shows mercy to all. From our stage to the parking lot are a group of mess-ups, misfits, and imperfect people. But I can promise you this; they can recognize someone broken and hurting when they walk through our doors. You know why? Because they remember when it was them.

Do you want to be like Jesus? Go looking for the one lost sheep that needs to come home. Promote healing, not hurt. Be a restorer, not a divider. Remember, Jesus said, “By this shall all men know that you are my disciples; IF YOU HAVE LOVE ONE FOR ANOTHER.”

“REAL FRIENDS”

This morning, I woke up with two words on my mind. The first word is real. That word means genuine, factual, and authentic. When you have something that is real, you know it’s not a copy or something artificial. Real is something significant, because there are a lot of things that appear to be authentic, but are counterfeit. Have you ever purchased something at a retail store and hand them a large bill? They will take that bill, hold it up to the light, and also mark on it with a special pen. The reason why is because counterfeit money not only is common, but criminals have gotten very good at producing look a-likes. I’m sure you’ve heard the term, keep it real. That means, speak the truth, give me facts, and not some made-up story that has not been authenticated.

The second word on my mind is friends. What is a friend? The dictionary says it’s someone that you like a lot and share a strong bond of mutual affection. In my opinion, it’s someone that loves you at all times and is always there for you. They do not compete with you, but they are loyal through good times and bad. A friend doesn’t use your back like a dartboard, because you can trust them whether you’re with them or not. Honestly, I think it takes years of living to define friendship truly.

Put the two words together, and it’s “REAL FRIENDS.” I noticed this morning when I started searching for definitions of a friend; I saw not only the word friend but also, good friends, true friends, and best friends. What’s interesting to me, is the word friend in itself is so powerful, why would you need to put something in front of it? Can it not stand by itself? The problem with friendship is kind of like the same problem retailers have with money. There is so much counterfeit currency; you have to put it through a process to make sure it’s real. Yes, real, genuine, factual, and authentic.

After fifty years of living on this earth, I can assuredly tell anyone that you need real friends. You see, it takes a while to authenticate real relationships and filter out the fake. Seasonal friends will drain you. Counterfeit friends will steal your joy; fake friends can cause you to doubt the existence of a real one. Some will walk away from you at the first sign of a storm, while others might wait until the storm gets bad. No matter when they leave you, if they can walk away, then you only lost what you thought you had. You didn’t realize you were spending counterfeit money, and the light just revealed it.

I wish I had time to write more on this subject, but let me close by saying this. As you face real problems, you’re going to need real friends, or maybe just one real friend to get through it. Blessed are they who have real friends.