Winning with Dignity and Honor

“Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord.”1

It’s rather depressing how the news media thrives on presenting negative news because that’s what sells—or at least that’s what we’re led to believe. But as Michael Josephson suggested in an issue of Character Counts, “let’s stop thinking about the handful of ex-college coaches who were fired for dishonorable conduct and the one sportsman who belittled his profession and destroyed his own good name (and possibly his promising career) through illicit sexual behavior—and remind ourselves of the noble side of sports.

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Are Deeds a Better Sign of Love Than Words?

Article by John Piper

The same apostle who said, “Let us not love in word or tongue, but in deed and in truth” (1 John 3:18), also recorded Jesus saying, “These things I speak . . . that they may have my joy fulfilled in themselves” (John 17:13), and, “The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life” (John 6:63).

If the “speaking” of Jesus imparts joy, and the “words” of Jesus give spiritual life, then surely such speaking is love.

It has always troubled me that 1 John 3:18 could be taken to imply that what we do with our mouths is a less real or less frequent form of love than what we do with our hands. “Little children, let us not love in word or tongue but in deed and in truth.” It seems to me that we have practical and biblical reasons for saying that the muscle of the tongue is more frequently the instrument of true love than any other muscle of the body.

So let’s step back and see what John is saying in 1 John 3:18 and what the wider witness of Scripture is. Notice the context, the structure of his words, and what other witnesses say.

1. The Context


Triune Love

Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. he who does not love does not know God, for God is love. 1 John 4:7-8 (NKJV)

The prominent Roman Catholic theologian, Hans urs von Balthasar, was once asked why there was a need to believe in the Trinity. His answer was simple: “It is thanks to the Trinity that we can know that God is love.” But how does the Trinity allow us to know that? I think that 1 John 4:8 suggests an answer.

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How to Make Your Church Feel Smaller Than It Is…and Why You Should

How to Make Your Church Feel Smaller Than It Is…and Why You Should

Today’s post is a guest post adapted from my good friend Rich Birch’s brand new book, Unreasonable Churches: 10 Churches Who Zagged When Others Zigged and Saw More Impact Because of It, for which I had the privilege of writing the forward. 

Paul Lawrence worked on the assembly line at the Hyundai plant in Montgomery, Alabama. As he watched a YouTube video on his phone about basic tennis lessons during one of his breaks, another worker, Jamal Henry, overheard the video and sat down across from him.

“Sounds like you’re a tennis player,” Jamal said with a smile. Paul looked up from his phone with a grunt. “Well, I don’t know that I would say that. But tennis is my thing. I’m trying to be more active, you know.” The two men introduced themselves and Jamal invited his coworker to come check out the group he played tennis with every Tuesday night.

Paul was soon playing every week with Jamal’s tennis group, and he also accepted Jamal’s invitation to come with him to church.

What began in a factory break room would be completed in the last place Paul ever expected to go—an “unreasonable church”—a massive church of 38,000 and growing, yes, but also a church that knows how to bring people together through small groups of all shapes and interests.

Many churches have small groups, but they are typically pre-set types initiated by the leadership, and while these groups can reach many…they don’t reach all.

What if we’ve been managing small groups in our congregations completely wrong? What if there was another way that was even more effective?

Whatever your church size is at the moment, here are three reasons why you might want to try a new approach to small groups in your own congregation.

1. People Learn Best When They Work and Play Together

Most small groups meet in churches on Sunday mornings, or on weeknights in a home, focused on Bible study. There’s no doubt studying God’s Word is extremely important, but something special occurs when we combine our desire for pursuing a closer relationship with God with our desire for a relationship with others.

Though it may seem like a pretty hands-off way to train new leaders, this way of learning within the context of playing and working together is not new. Jesus practiced this leadership method often.

Think about the original 12 disciples Jesus chose; despite lacking the background, education and vocational aptitude for the huge enterprise they would undertake, Jesus devoted himself to them. He spent time with that small motley group of men, young and uneducated, on a daily basis. Then, after His death and resurrection, He left them with a commission to “go and make disciples of all nations.”

These “group leaders” received only a mere three years of training before they began leading their own “groups,” and most of it occurred over meals and while traveling. But these very first small groups were catalysts that changed the world, with the Holy Spirit as their “coach” along the way.

The very day after Jesus was baptized, John the Baptizer saw Jesus and said to His disciples, “Look, the Lamb of God!” (John 1:35, NIV). When two of John’s disciples heard this, they followed Jesus, who invited them to “come…and you will see” (John 1:39).

This is what Jamal did with Paul Lawrence; he invited him to “come and see.”

When Paul first attended the “Drop Shots Tennis Group,” he connected with people who put God first in their lives—not tennis—and his life changed forever.


5 Biblical Principles for Becoming a Better Friend

5 Biblical Principles For Becoming A Better Friend

How many friends do you have?

I guess your answer to that question will vary depending on how you define a friend. We have best friends, good friends, old friends, family friends, Facebook friends and everything in between!

Friends are a wonderful thing. They make us laugh and lift our spirit with their presence. Our most memorable moments happen in their company. During difficult days, they surround us with love and support.

But no matter how many friends you have and how many moments you’ve shared, everyone reading this post shares one thing in common: We have never had, and have never been, a perfect friend.

By that, I simply mean that our friendships are never absent of disappointment. In some way, whether significant or insignificant, our friends have failed us, and we have failed our friends.

Think about it. While some of your deepest joys are the result of friends, so are your most painful hurts. There are nights with them that you never want to end, and then there are days when you wish you could live in isolation.

Friendship is an integral part of the human existence, and we all have been shaped significantly by relationships that are full of both bliss and sorrow.


It’s important to know why God designed friendship and what he has to say about it. Through his Word, he has given us an accurate lens that will keep us from being naïve but also prevent us from becoming cynical.

Here are a few guiding principles about friends that should help keep your relationships healthy:

Friendships are intended

In Genesis 2:18, God says that it is not good for man to be alone. This statement is broader than just marriage and applies to God’s design for all humanity. The word “helper” used to describe Eve doesn’t define her as a co-worker, but a companion. God created us live with companions because he is a social God, living in community within the Trinity as Father, Son and Spirit.

There are benefits that come naturally from these friendships. Having a companion for everyday life is a beautiful one. Having someone to comfort you during tough times is another (Job 2:11). Honest friends who will call you to repent is a third of many more (Proverbs 27:6).

Christians, we need to seek out and immerse ourselves in community. While the “lone wolf” mentality is often applauded in our society, it is very dangerous and lonely to live in isolation. Don’t cut yourself off from people, because you’re cutting yourself off from your original intended design.

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3 Ways to make friends of enemies

“The best way to destroy an enemy is to turn him into a friend.”

– F.F. Bruce


We are reminded by the Apostle Paul that Jesus died for us while we were still ungodly, wicked sinners who were His natural enemies (Rom 5:6-10), so we should do nothing less than to do good to those who hate us and do bad to us. We are not to take revenge, but rather, “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you” (Matt 5:44). There is nothing about loving them if they deserve it, because none of us do. We’re simply told to do our enemies good, even if they treat us badly.

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We’re All In This Together: Encourage and Build Up Each Other – Ministry Videos