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SERMON: Improve Your Relationships

No one is an island. We all need friendships. Make up your mind with whom you can find fellowship and devote yourself to them regardless of feelings, setbacks or circumstances. How can we survive life's setbacks without the affirming fellowship, support and mutual protections from our friends. A man once asked Henry Ford, "Who is your best friend? Ford said, "Your best friend is he or she who helps you bring out of yourself the best of that which is in you."

The best friendships require time, patience, love, energy, forgiveness, and honesty. Most of all, deep friendships require vulnerable involvement for the good of others.

Despite differences between people
they can collectively commit themselves
to the accomplishment of God's greater
goals for the good of all concerned.

Often, these investments are beyond the limit that some people are willing to pay so they forfeit some of life's best advantages. The people who have been graced with true friendship know its costs and its worth.

A suffering Job wrote, "A despairing man should have the devotion of his friends." When you are hurting nothing comforts one like a good friend. Often in the blackness of some bewildering trial, unable to discern God's purposes, alone and without the protection of friends, we are tempted to question His goodness. Some even wonder whether there is a God; and if there is, whether He cares for us.

We who believe know that the almighty, eternal Creator has revealed Himself as a loving Father, and that He infinitely cares for us. "A friend is someone who walks in to help when everybody else seems to desert us." Here are ways to improve any relationship:

1. Mutual Goals - Discuss how you can synergistically work together toward a mutually agreed upon goal. Paul writes, "My purpose is that they may be encouraged in heart and united in love, so that they may have the full riches of complete understanding, in order that they may know the mystery of God, namely Christ. In whom are hidden all the treasurers of wisdom and knowledge." (Col. 2:2,3)

2. Mutual Interests - Work together on areas of shared concerns. Shared hobbies and leisure time activities can act as a bridge for enhancing interpersonal communications.

3. Mutual Experiences - Find areas of lifestyle that you share in common with others. These opportunities can help break down many barriers of distrust.

4. Mutual Understandings - Find areas that you can agree upon together before finding areas that you cannot come to any consensus.

5. Mutual Trust - Develop confidence in one another's word by proving your reliability, endurance, and willingness to overlook a fault.

6. Mutual Commitments - Despite differences between people they can collectively commit themselves to the accomplishment of God's greater goals for the good of all concerned.

7. Mutual Destiny - Emphasize similar heavenly destinations in our heavenly home. Paul writes, "After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever." (I Thes. 4:17,18)

8. Mutual Sharing - By distributing to others as they have need one can cement friendships. "All the believers were together and had everything in common. Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need." (Acts 2:44,45) Share your love, time, energy, efforts and encouragements with others to bolster them when they are in need.

9. Mutual Teaching - Getting together on a regular base to help teach each other about personal defeats and triumphs, will bond you together as friends

10. Mutual Battles With Common Opponents - By recognizing common opponents to the advancement of a good life you will gain greater reliance and appreciation for your friends Paul wrote, "Make my joy complete by being of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose... striving together for the faith of the gospel." (Phil. 2:2-15)

Remember, the people who have been graced with true friendship know its costs and its worth.

Adapted from a sermon by Paul Fritz as posted on www.SermonCentral.com


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

An AMAZING Bargain !

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

A while back the government estimated the cost of raising a child from birth to 18 and came up with $222,360 for a middle income family. Talk about sticker shock! That doesn't even touch college tuition. But $222,360 isn't so bad if you break it down. It translates into:

* $12,353.33 a year,

* $1029.44 a month, or

* $237.57 a week.

* That's a mere $33.93 a day!

* Just over a dollar forty an hour.

Still, you might think the best financial advice is don't have children if you want to be "rich." Actually, it is just the opposite.

What do you get for your $222,360?

* Naming rights. First, middle, and last!

* Glimpses of God every day.

* Giggles under the covers every night.

* More love than your heart can hold.

* Butterfly kisses and Velcro hugs.

* Endless wonder over rocks, ants, clouds, and warm cookies.

* A hand to hold, usually covered with jelly or chocolate.

* A partner for blowing bubbles and flying kites.

* Someone to laugh yourself silly with, no matter what the boss said or how your stocks performed that day.



For $222,360, you never have to grow up. You get to:

* finger-paint,

* carve pumpkins,

* play hide-and-seek,

* catch lightning bugs, and

* never stop believing in Santa Claus.



You have an excuse to keep:

* reading the Adventures of Piglet and Pooh! ,

* watching Saturday morning cartoons,

* going to Disney movies, and

* wishing on stars.



* You get to frame rainbows, hearts, and flowers under refrigerator magnets and collect spray painted noodle wreaths for Christmas, hand prints set in clay for Mother's Day, and cards with backward letters for Father's Day.



For $222,360, there is no greater bang for your buck. You get to be a hero just for:

* retrieving a Frisbee off the garage roof,

* taking the training wheels off a bike,

* removing a splinter,

* filling a wading pool,

* coaxing a wad of gum out of bangs, and coaching a baseball team that never wins but always gets treated to ice cream regardless.



You get a front row seat to history to witness the:

* first step,

* first word,

* first bra,

* first date, and

* first time behind the wheel.



You get to be immortal. You get another branch added to your family tree, and if you're lucky, a long list of limbs in your obituary called grandchildren and great grandchildren. You get an education in psychology, nursing, criminal justice,communications, and human sexuality that no college can match.

In the eyes of a child, you rank right up there under God. You have all the power to heal a boo-boo, scare away the monsters under the bed, patch a broken heart, police a slumber party, ground them forever, and love them without limits, so, one day they will like you, love without counting the cost. That is quite a deal for the price !

Love and enjoy your children and grandchildren !

Is the purpose of life to be happy ?---or is it to be useful, responsible, compassionate ?---above all to matter, to count, to stand for something, to have made some difference that you lived at all ?

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"Consistency is the foundation of virtue."

Francis Bacon

"I want to be all used up when I die."

George Bernard Shaw

"I thank fate for having made me born poor. Poverty taught me the true value of the gifts useful to life."

Anatole France

"Next to religion, let your care be to promote justice."

Francis Bacon

"When tillage begins, other arts follow. The farmers, therefore, are the founders of human civilization."

Daniel Webster

"It is essential to know that to be a happy person, a happy family, a happy society, it is very crucial to have a good heart. World peace must develop from inner peace. Peace is not just the absence of violence, but the manifestation of human compassion"

Dalai Lama

"The successful person is one who had the chance and took it."

Roger Babson

"The simple act of paying positive attention to people has a great deal to do with productivity."

Thomas J. Peters

"There is nothing that war has ever achieved we could not better achieve without it."

Havelock Ellis

"Anything in life that we don't accept will simply make trouble for us until we make peace with it."

Shakti Gawain



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