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Love Your Enemies

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In 2018, a horrible accident occurred in Dallas, Texas. Amber Guyger, a Dallas police officer, was given ten years in prison. Amber fatally killed Botham Jean, an innocent man, as he sat in his apartment eating ice cream when she entered an apartment mistakenly thinking it was her apartment. Instead, she entered the man’s apartment, who lived one floor down from her. If Botham’s family had a right to hate this woman, it would be understandable.

Luke 6:27-38 (New American Standard Bible) tells how people are to love their enemies and do good to those who curse and mistreat others. These verses mirror Matthew 5:43-48, where Jesus says, “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.”Along with being told whom one is supposed to love, the Bible states how to love these purported enemies. In outlining Luke 6:27-38, a person can see how Jesus wants His children to act toward their enemies. This passage unfolds from start to finish by giving instructions on loving enemies, how to act toward them, and the results of acting in a godly fashion toward foes.

  • Loving one’s enemies (Luke 6:27-28)
  • Handling physical abuse and giving to those who ask (Luke 6:29-30)
  • Treating people equally (Luke 6:31)
  • Crediting, loving, and lending (Luke 32-34)
  • Loving one’s enemies and being merciful (Luke 6:35-36)
  • Giving, condemning, and pardoning others (Luke 6:37)
  • Measuring others (Luke 6:38)

However, one must ask, “Who is the enemy mankind is supposed to love?” In the Bible, three enemies, also called foes or adversaries, can be seen—the world, the flesh, and Satan. This paper will discuss each verse in Luke 6:27-38, emphasizing loving one’s enemy and what responsibilities believers have in dealing with enemies Biblically.


One must look at the historical-cultural context of Luke to gain a complete understanding of the Book of Luke, Luke as a man, and the audience he addressed. Through the eyes of Luke, one gains a better understanding and perspective of his writings.

In The New Testament in Antiquities by Gary M. Burge and Gene L. Green, the authors discuss the relationship between The Gospel of Luke and The Book of Acts as a “two-volume” set with many overlapping themes. Luke’s main emphasis revolves around salvation, which he deems is for both Jews and Gentiles. Most scholars believe that Luke was penned in Rome between 60-61 A.D., and most also agree that he was the author of this book. Luke is a cultured, organized writer, also known as the beloved physician, whose sources come from eyewitnesses and multiple servants.

Luke wrote much of this Gospel about how individuals are either in need or how they conduct themselves through God’s Spirit. This Gospel can be seen in some of Luke’s most famous stories, i.e., the great catch of fish on the Lake of Gennesaret, the parable of the good Samaritan, Jesus, and the robbers as they were dying on their crosses.

Luke wrote his Gospel from Rome. Readers of Luke should know that many believe Luke was an early gentile convert to Christianity. Who’s Who in the New Testament states, “He became the loyal and indefatigable secretary, doctor, and companion of the Apostle Paul.” Luke accompanied Paul on his second and third missionary journeys and his fourth and final missionary journeys, which are not mentioned in Acts. Luke traveled the Aegean from Troas in Asia Minor to Philippi in Greece . . .then he accompanied Paul on his final journey from Caesarea, the seat of the procurator of Judea, all the way to Rome. There he loyally remained with Paul throughout his captivity. From Luke’s writing style, one can observe that Luke was a sophisticated and knowledgeable man whose writings in Luke became one of the three synoptic gospels, along with Matthew and Mark. Luke’s writing shows a more generous spirit to the Roman authorities than the Gospel of Matthew and John did.

Luke’s gospel was written to Theophilus, a man of high status who shared it with people everywhere. John Martin notes that Theophilus (lit., lover of God) was a common name during the first century. Luke wrote this gospel to Theophilus to show him the reality of Jesus Christ. From the 1st century to this present age anyone can receive Jesus. Many of the intended audience in early Christianity (Jews and Gentiles) were ready to learn truths about relating to people—including how to love their enemies.

Although there is debate on the literary genre of Luke, it appears that it is a combination of both history and biography The author of this paper believes it was written more from a historical perspective. Luke’s objective in writing this book comes first when he unveils his purpose—emphasizing the “fulfillment of God’s plan.” The writing style is simple to understand and his logical organization becomes evident as one reads from Jesus’ birth to ending with Jesus’ crucifixion, resurrection, and ascension, always emphasizing salvation in every personal situation he finds himself in such as in Luke 17:19 and Luke 7:49-50. The casual reader may not notice that in the latter part of the book, Luke shifts from third person to first person in the latter part of the book. This shift is known as the “we” section of the book. Many scholars believe this could have been written when Luke accompanied Paul face to face.

Luke, an investigative and orderly writer, created an easy-to-follow line of thinking. This continuity is seen in Luke 6:27-38 when he goes from loving one’s enemies to doing good to those who hate you. Luke informs people how Jesus wants them to act from loving enemies to not judging others. These verses involve how to treat people, including those who are an enemy. The Beatitudes, which are a basis for the blessings and woes of living precede this section and create a natural flow into how to act toward others. The verses following Luke 6:27-28 are a beautiful display of Jesus’ illustrating how one should live through a parable along with statements and questions teaching believers how to live, i.e., understanding that a pupil is not above their teachers, a good man out of good treasure brings what is good. As one ponders how to treat their enemies, one should consider their heart and desire to follow the principles outlined in the Bible.


Luke’s Sermon on the Plain and Matthew’s Sermon on the Mount are similar.  In each sermon, Luke 6:27-38 and Matthew 5:43-48, one verse has been debated and examined over the years. This debate revolves around the command to love one another and how loving neighbors and enemies should be conducted. William Barclay says, while both pericopes start with “a series of beatitudes, there are differences between the versions of Matthew and Luke, but this one thing is clear—they are a series of bombshells” on how Jesus wants believers in Him to act. Barclay notes these debated sermons use different verbiage than a typical person of those days would talk.

Some scholars do not include verses 37 and 38 in their content analysis. This paper includes these verses to complete the flow and thought of this section. While many verses in the Bible discuss principles of love and loving one’s enemies, this paper points men and women to Jesus’ way to love both neighbors and enemies.

The general population shows an interest in the topics of love, hate, and enemies. It is evident because of what appears in grocery stores. Most checkout lines are filled with publications enticing readers to understand why they hate each other, such as

  • “My Neighbor, My Enemy” (New York Time­s)
  • “Hate in America” (Time Magazine)
  • “It’s a Thin Line between Love and Hate” (Psychology Today)
  • “And They Will Know We are Christians by our Hate” (The Christian Post)
  • “The Secret to Loving Your Enemies” (Today’s Christian Women)

When people read the Bible addressing love, hate, and enemies, understanding the Christian definition of certain words will help.

Table 1: Definitions—Luke 26:27-38

Word Definition Bible Verse Reference (NASB) Strong’s Concordance Reference Number
love To care for Luke 6:27,32, 35 25
enemies Adversary, foe, one who dislikes or hates another and seeks to harm another Luke 6: 1, 35 2190
hate Detest Luke 6:1 3404
“do good” [to exhibit] a fine moral character Luke 6:1, 33 2573
reward Recompense for good or evil, most often it suggests a benefit or favorable compensation 35 3635

As one delves into the so-called Golden Rule verses, it is helpful to fully understand what Luke 6:27-28 is saying as they are imperative in grasping verses 29-38, which follow. In Luke 6:27-28, there are four instructions for believers to follow:

  • Love your enemies,
  • Be good to those who hate you,
  • Bless those who curse you, and
  • Pray for those who mistreat you.

There has been debate on the actual meaning of what “love one’s enemy” means. The word here means the agape kind of love, distinguishing it from passionate love and love for only those who love them back! William Barclay describes this kind of love as “an active feeling of benevolence toward the other person; it means that no matter what that person does to us we will never allow ourselves to desire anything but his highest good, and we will deliberately and of set purpose go out of our way to be good and kind to him.” Enemies today are viewed as people who want to hurt or betray—they may even gossip or tell lies about us, still as believers, and with the power of the Holy Spirit, one can trust in God’s ability for mankind to love with this agape kind of love. Moving beyond these two verses, there are two more Biblical verses that continue to train Christians on how to act.

People are innately inclined to hate their enemies because of their sinful nature, which originated in the story of Adam and Eve. Despite this, Jesus continues to give more instructions on how to treat enemies in Luke 6:29-30. Jesus tells us that “whoever hits you on the cheek, offer him the other cheek, and whoever takes away your coat, do not withhold your shirt from him either.” Jesus does not want us to pick and choose who we are to love even if there is physical violence—in this case, the turning the other cheek reference. Leon Morris says that cheek is siagon, which means, “a punch to the side of the jaw rather than a light slap on the face.”As one would expect, most people would want to fight back, but Jesus tells believers to turn the other cheek and accept the same treatment again. Warren Wiersbe says it is our inner disposition that the glory of God is seeking.

Regarding accepting a strike from an enemy, Wiersbe says, “we must have the wisdom to know when to turn the other cheek and when to claim our right. Christian love must exercise discernment.” In this illustration and in the example where Jesus tells of not withholding one’s shirt if it is taken away, verse 30 says to give to everyone who asks and not demand it back. The ethics behind these two verses revolve around the ability to do good—TO EVERYONE!

It is a complex concept to understand that we are to love everyone and give to everyone regardless of how one feels. But, in Luke 31, Jesus tells us that people are to treat others the way they want to be treated. But, how can hurt brothers and sisters treat others with love and kindness? It is impossible without the Holy Spirit helping Christians to show Christ’s humility.

Robert H. Gundry shares how Jesus mingled and socialized with all sorts of people. As in ancient times, people today mingle and socialize with all types of people. Wherever Christians are, and whatever sort of people they encounter, Jesus tells us to treat each other with the same kind of treatment one wishes to receive themselves. Romans 12:10 says, “Be devoted to one another in brotherly love; give preference to one another in honor.” Regarding a more inwardly way to act, Philippians 2:3 says, “Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind, let each of you regard one another as more important than himself.” It takes God’s Holy Spirit to love the way Jesus did.

Jesus did not want or demand credit for his works; He followed the Lord’s path established for him in humility and with integrity. In Luke 6:32-4, one question is asked in all three verses. Jesus asks, “What credit is that to you?”

Many serve to obtain accolades for their service to the Lord. Christ is more concerned with the character of our heart than He is that people receive congratulations, fist bumps, or flattery for service. These accolades are in the following verses.

And if you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. And if you lend [with interest] to those from whom you expect to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, in order to receive back the same amount (Luke 6:32-4).

First, it does not take much to love a mother, father, son, or daughter. Second, it does not take much to love those who love us. And last, it does not take much to lend to those who will pay us back. But, from Jesus’ perspective, it is better to love one’s neighbor, love those who hate, and help others without knowing if they will pay back a loan or not. If one only does their works and service to be seen, they are doing nothing more than a sinner would do. David Guzik says, “Though we will have enemies, yet we are to respond to them in love, trusting that God will protect our cause and destroy are enemies in the best way possible, by transforming them into our friends.”

As Luke 6 progresses, Luke tells us in verses 35 and 36 that believers are to love enemies and be merciful toward them. Regarding loving neighbors, much is written about the ways to resolve hate. They are:

  • Use conflict resolution techniques
  • Kill someone with kindness
  • Come to a healthy comprise, and
  • Create boundaries between each other.

The Bible wants people to initiate love towards enemies, first with a clean heart, before the four actions afore-mentioned above. In Psalm 51:10, King David addresses God desiring a clean heart. Believers in Christ should start by cleansing themselves as David did in the referenced psalm. “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.” After loving someone with a clean heart, believers are better equipped to show mercy to others. Author Andrew Herbert mentions one can extend mercy to others only when they have received sympathy, compassion, and forgiveness themselves, but “we do not have what it takes, but Jesus does, so we come to Him in brokenness and humility, hungering to be filled with what only He can give.”

Not judging and giving to others conclude this pericope in Luke 6:37-38. The Bible is ready to address judging others. Jesus clarifies in verse 37 what believers will gain. Christians should not judge or condemn others, believing that when they follow His instructions, they will gain. Leon Morris says the verse is not clear on whether it means gain in this present judgment or the future judgment of God or both. He states, “If we are harsh with our judgments on other people we generally find that they return the compliment and we ourselves are widely rewarded.”


When Christ and His Holy Spirit work significantly to where individuals understand the need to forgive and love our enemies, the fruit of the spirit of love becomes evident by giving of oneself. Because the Lord has given of Himself, those who have turned their life over to Christ through the forgiveness of sin and repentance can love their enemies; thus, being a reflection of Jesus Christ.

Luke 6:27 tells believers to love enemies. The Bible commands individuals to do that, but it is not easy. As ambassadors of the Lord, the desire to love like Jesus is there, but when one is offended, hurt, gossiped about, and betrayed, the human heart does not think of kindness as one’s first choice of action. Learning to love and not to hate is a process. Sometimes it is slow and lengthy, but the process to become more as Christ must commence in obedience to the Lord’s command. When facing hate, the following points will help people from all age groups to acknowledge their hate and move towards love.

  • Pray with passion.
  • Pray for the offender. Pray for yourself.
  • Pray to be a forgiving person.
  • Repent if needed.
  • Pray for an attitude change.
  • Trust deeply in God for a resolution.
  • Trust the Holy Spirit for an understanding of the incident or developing angst.
  • Put oneself in the offender’s shoes and seek perspective.
  • Ask God to address any issues springing from both parties.
  • Plead for forgiveness. Sometimes this means addressing the person or organization involved. Sometimes not.
  • Read Bible verses on love, hate, bitterness, cruelty, offenses, and behavior of believers.
  • Recognize that God may be using this incident for good.
  • Understanding making boundaries or moving on might be His solution.
  • Keep praying with passion.


Returning to the 2018 accident in Dallas, Texas, where Amber Guyger fatally killed Botham Jean, an innocent man, as he sat in his apartment eating ice cream. Guyger was sentenced to a ten-year sentence. On the witness stand during sentencing, Brandt Jean, the victim’s eighteen-year-old brother, turned to Guyger, and said, “I know if you go to God and ask him, he will forgive you.” Botham’s family had every right to hate Guyger. However, in an act of kindness, the victim’s brother Brandt continued to speak directly to Guyger. He said, ‘I love you like anyone else,’ and later hugged her in the courtroom before being led to her ten-year prison sentence by the bailiff. That is loving one’s enemy in action! The conclusion reached in Luke 6:27-38 is that God commands believers to love one’s enemies, and by following and obeying God’s Biblical instructions, it is possible to live in a godly fashion toward foes.

God Bless,


Dear Lord, Please let us rest in Your peace indwelt by the Holy Spirit. Let us look at all people with love and acceptance, even those who have hurt us terribly. Pour Your holy power upon us to live a life of forgiveness, acceptance, and reconciliation–no matter what it might be. You love us. You hear our prayers and cries. You want to help us through all the attitudes and difficulties we face. I call upon You to touch my heart. Give me a heart of love. Let my soul be like Your soul. Transform me into Your image. In Christ, I pray.

This article may not be reproduced except for written permission from the author. For the full annotated paper and bibliography, please contact me through the comment section of this article. [This paper was written for a college, academic, research class by Patti Greene.]

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Do Actions Speak Louder Than Words?

Do Actions Speak Louder Than Words?

by Patti Greene, Greene Pastures by Patti

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Have you ever tried to share your Christian beliefs with someone, and feel you couldn’t get through to them—no matter what you say? They adamantly refuse to hear anything about God or religion. Their callousness might be foreign to you, and even scare you to the point of being fearful of ever talking to them again.

It happens all the time. We may be genuinely interested in a person’s spiritual well-being, and it breaks our heart when we are ignored, criticized, or made fun of for our beliefs just because we try to talk to them about God.

Many reasons abound as to why some people do not have an interest in hearing about God. Maybe it is because they don’t see us living out the Christian life. Maybe it is because they have encountered negative experiences within the church or with Christians. Or, maybe, it is because they have made a conscious decision to avoid all conversations about God or the Bible.

Many times, our mere words cannot express our feelings, thoughts, and beliefs as well as our actions can. If you find your talking gets you nowhere, God may be leading you to switch over to using actions instead of words to show your love to others.

God Uses Our Actions

God used Ezekiel in a “different way” to fulfill his calling in the beginning of his ministry.

In the first half of the Old Testament Book of Ezekiel, we see Ezekiel using actions solely (instead of words) to convey God’s message to the people. The Israelite exiles in Babylon became so desensitized and hard-hearted they would not listen to the word of God being proclaimed by the true prophets. So God commanded Ezekiel to take a different approach—an action approach.

God was so serious about using Ezekiel’s actions to communicate His words that He shut Ezekiel’s mouth for a period of seven years, allowing Ezekiel to speak only when and what he was commanded.

Instead of talking, Ezekiel was called to use what author Warren Wiersbe calls “action sermons”. The people had been warned verbally about their sinful behavior over and over to no avail. But now it was time for actions to take over. Many times, our actions can be what causes people to listen to us.

In Ezekiel 4, God commanded Ezekiel to: write on brick, put up an iron wall, prepare food, and to lay on both his left and right side to show what He wanted to get across to the exiles who had become isolated and distant from God.

Ezekiel sketched a map of Jerusalem on a brick and began playing soldier with the brick to show the House of Israel that the city of Jerusalem would be seized by the Babylonian army. He was then commanded by God to lie on the ground on his left side facing his brick for 390 days and then 40 days on his right side. Many commentaries use these mathematical calculations to show the years of Israel’s past sins and the years that Israel spent in the wilderness with Moses.

This kind of symbolism continues as Ezekiel continues acting out the horror and devastation of what was to come to Jerusalem. Later, the Lord asked Ezekiel to mix 3 different grains and 2 vegetables together to make bread. Scarcity of food was upcoming and Ezekiel was called to caution the people what was to come upon Jerusalem. The people had been warned of their heresy and separation from God with words before, but now God has chosen Ezekiel to use symbols and actions to show His disgust with their disobedience.

Now you son of man, get yourself a brick, place it before you and inscribe a city on it, Jerusalem. Then lay siege against it, build a siege wall, raise up a ramp, pitch camps and place battering rams against it all around. Then get yourself an iron plate and set it up as an iron wall between you and the city, and set your face toward it so that it is under siege, and besiege it. This is a sign to the house of Israel. “As for you, lie down on your left side and lay the iniquity of the house of Israel on it; you shall bear their iniquity for the number of days that you lie on it. For I have assigned you a number of days corresponding to the years of their iniquity, three hundred and ninety days; thus you shall bear the iniquity of the house of Israel. When you have completed these, you shall lie down a second time, but on your right side and bear the iniquity of the house of Judah; I have assigned it to you for forty days, a day for each year. Then you shall set your face toward the siege of Jerusalem with your arm bared and prophesy against it. Now behold, I will put ropes on you so that you cannot turn from one side to the other until you have completed the days of your siege. “But as for you, take wheat, barley, beans, lentils, millet and spelt, put them in one vessel and make them into bread for yourself; you shall eat it according to the number of the days that you lie on your side, three hundred and ninety days (Ezekiel 4:1-9).

Have you ever thought maybe we have talked too much—sometimes until we are blue in our collective face—trying to get God’s message into the hearts of our friends, family or acquaintances?

Maybe it is time to try “action sermons!”

Through our actions sermons, people may see something different in us that will lead to a discussion on our faith. We may even be privileged to share in the joy of their salvation.

While God uses our actions, He is also quite capable and willing to use our speech and words to convey His intended will and plans.

God Uses Our Words

But, God also uses words. Later on in the Book of Ezekiel, God opened Ezekiel’s mouth so he could be a verbal witness in declaring the future prophecies of Jerusalem.

While God may not call us to do weird and strange “action” things like he called Ezekiel to do when he prophesized the unfortunate events awaiting Jerusalem, He may call us to show God’s love to others through a kind word, a meal, a note, or a smile. So I am not saying we should never use words to minister.

Writer Will Maule says it best in his recent article titled “22 Things Christians Need to Stop Doing…Now!”

He states, “It’s just as important to represent Jesus by how we live, but someone can’t respond to the Good News without hearing it . . . and they can’t hear it if no one opens their mouths (Matt 10:27, Romans 10:14-15).” ¹

In my life, I have come to believe that unless what we say agrees with what we do, what we say is meaningless to most people.

God Uses Our Actions and Words

In an ongoing survey, people were asked if people were known by their actions or their words. The result was that 57% believe people are known by their actions and 43% believe that actions do not speak louder than words. ²

This discrepancy leans more to the belief that actions speak louder than words. The Bible is full of verses that discuss the importance of our actions. For example:

But these verses do not overpower the fact that God also uses our speech to minister, guide, encourage, and love others. Without the powerful words of Old Testament prophets, the people would not know God’s laws and His plans. Without the convicting words from the New Testament apostles, people would not know the plan of salvation and sanctification.

Be Obedient

Be open this week to His will in all you DO and SAY. Don’t be afraid to step out and do something “different” if you feel God impressing you to do so. If your motives are right, and it ends up not what God had in mind, He will fix it and make it right. Sometimes we need to step out of our comfort zone to grow, mature, and be obedient, whether in our words or actions. Being obedient to whatever God impresses upon us to do is the key. Both words and actions are important!

God Bless,


Patti Greene, Member Inspirational Writers Alive

Bible Verses:

Therefore, prepare your minds for action, keep sober in spirit, fix your hope completely on the grace to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. 1 Peter 1:3

Jesus answered them, “I told you, and you do not believe; the works that I do in My Father’s name, these testify of Me. John 10:25

Pleasant words are a honeycomb, Sweet to the soul and healing to the bones. Proverbs 16:24


Dear Lord, thank you for the opportunities You give me to share my life with others. Give me wisdom and understanding regarding the best way to approach people with Your truths. You are a God I can trust to lead me in the paths of righteousness. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.

¹ Maule, Will. “22 Things Christians Need to Stop Doing…Now!” Hello Christian. http://hellochristian.com. Accessed 17 Feb 2017.

² “Do actions speak louder than words?” The Premier Online Debate Website. Debate.org. N.p., 21 Feb. 2017. Web. 21 Feb. 2017 <http://www.debate.org/>.

Edited by E. Johnson; Image Permission from J. Morisho 2-18-2017. Bible Verses from NASB.

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Answer Me: Developing a Heart for Prayer (A Devotional Prayer Journal) by Patti Greene, click here

A 90-day devotional prayer journal for all ages; This informative and how-to book on prayer is for seekers, new believers, and mature believers. It encourages a commitment and devotion to the art of prayer. Learn how God reveals himself through Bible study and prayer. ISBN: 978-1512760453 (Paperback) $11.95 on Amazon.

Awaken Me: Growing Deeper in Bible Study and Prayer (A Devotional Prayer Journal) by Patti Greene, click here

A 365-day devotional prayer journal for in-depth Bible study; Fun words or phrases from the Old and New Testaments! Perfect for mature believers. ISBN: 978-1490893181 (Paperback) $27.95 on Amazon.

Anchor Me: Laying a Foundation in Bible Study and Prayer (A Devotional Prayer Journal) by Patti Greene, click here

A 181-day devotional prayer journal for growing individuals; The Bible and social issues. Perfect for new believers. Comes with a group study guide. ISBN: 978-1490893174 (Paperback) $19.95 on Amazon.

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Glorious Friendship

Glorious Friendship

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Have you ever received a GLORIOUS email or letter from a friend? I love it when I get either a beautiful letter (snail mail type letter) or a touching email from a friend.

One Saturday morning, I received an early morning email from a friend saying she had the day free if we wanted to get together. I had told her there was something the Lord wanted me to talk to her about. Understandably, she perceived it as something she did not want to hear. In fact, she said, “Let’s get it over with!”

Even so, plans were made. My husband was going to be gone. She came over and as I usually do when I am with this friend, I make a list of everything we need to cover to be sure we don’t miss any vitally important conversational topics. Yes, I am a list maker — mainly because I don’t want to forget anything I want to talk about.

My friend came. Sitting on my two couches was not intimate enough, so we ended up on the floor leaning against a couch, chatting, sharing family pictures on my computer, and going through the list. She was pleasantly surprised that what I wanted to share with her was not what she was expecting to hear, but she was willing to come expecting a Word from God through me. She did get a Word from God, but not the one she was dreading me to share with her.

We laughed; we were serious; we ate chocolate cake and drank hot “British” tea. We hugged. We parted.

After an entire afternoon of chatting, laughing, and catching up with my friend, the next day I received the following email from her.

Thanks a million for yesterday, ’twas an awesome mother-daughter roll up-your-sleeves and sit on the floor fun day catching up & chowing down a great chocolate cake. We should have one more before you hop home for Christmas. Enjoy a lovely week.

That is what friends are for. To share, to encourage, to love, to give, to receive, to laugh, to be serious with, and to have fun with.

Make time for your friends. Enjoy those times with your friends and be grateful for them. And, if you don’t have friends like that, I pray that you will be able to have the courage to invite someone to share life with you.

In God’s goodness, I turned to my Bible reading plan today. And, guess what? My reading was about the deep friendship David and Jonathan embraced in the Old Testament. As I read 1 Samuel 18-20, I gleaned some dynamic traits found in true friendship.

Characteristics of a Good Friend

  1. The souls of friends are knit together; 1 Samuel 18:1
  2. Friends love each other like themselves. 1 Samuel 18:3
  3. Friends are generous towards each other. 1 Samuel 18:4
  4. Friends delight in each other. 1 Samuel 19: 1-4
  5. Friends protect each other from harm. 1 Samuel 20:9
  6. Friends help each other discern what is best [for each other] and then share it with them. 1 Samuel 20:12-31a
  7. Friends desire to spend time together. 1 Samuel 20:13b
  8. Anticipate through the course of a close friendship, others may be jealous of the friendship. 1 Samuel 18:6-16

Bible Verses:

And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us. And if we know that he hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests that we have asked of him. Colossians 3:12-14

Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. John 15:13

Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. 10 For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up! Ecclesiastes 4:9-10

A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother. Proverbs 18:24


O Gracious Heavenly Father, I need a real friend — someone I can share my feelings, my past, and my future desires with. I am asking you to give me that kind of friend. I need someone who I can email, call, and visit with without judging me. Let me be the kind of friend I need to be to the friends you bestow upon me. God, you are all-powerful. I know you can move friends around the world just for me if you want to. I love you and I am waiting for the blessings of friendship. In Jesus’ Holy Name. Amen.

God Bless.


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Good Seed, Good Ground

Good Seed, Good Ground

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By Ellsworth Johnson, Guest Blogger for Greene Pastures

I remember my first airplane flight. I was seven years old and we were flying from New York City to Tampa, Florida to visit my grandparents. It was raining at departure time and overcast horizon-to-horizon, so I expected the drizzle to continue for the entire ride.

Imagine my surprise, though, as we penetrated the cloud layer after takeoff, and the sun was shining in a clear bright blue sky! The clouds were actually below us now, which is not how I was used to thinking of them — can you get out and walk on them?

Other, deeper questions came to my inquisitive young mind: Is God up here somewhere? Where is Jesus, all the angels, and everyone else? Is this part of heaven?

Doubts about God and religion had already set in by then. If heaven is directly above our house, which I believed emphatically that it was, is it also above my next-door neighbor’s house, too? What about across the house street, in the next town, in California, or a hut in Timbuktu? I knew the Earth was a ball… heaven couldn’t really be above everywhere at the same time . . . could it?

Somewhat less whimsical is the case of Steve Jobs, the prodigious, brilliant and ultra-rich Apple co-founder who died in 2011. The story goes that young Steve asked his local priest one day why God allowed such widespread suffering in the world if He is truly a God of Love. Alas, the priest miserably failed this fairly basic pop quiz by not having a solid ready answer of any kind to the question, and Steve’s faith was busted irretrievably to the point where he went off and eventually became a Buddhist.

I, on the other hand, was still being raised Catholic. Why? Because my mother, the driving force for such matters in our home, attended St. Therese, a Catholic church near our house. I learned, many years later, that this critical choice of faith owed to the sound theological reason that the services, without exception, were always exactly 45 minutes in length.

Every Sunday morning Mom would announce that it was time for her, my brother Dwayne and me to leave for Mass. On the infrequent occasions I objected, my father, invariably planted in front of the television set in his burnt-orange upholstered chair would jump up, point his finger at the door and start shouting words of reprimand for what seemed like an eternity. Oddly, I can never remember anything he said, less so any of it ever making sense. When he was done, he returned to his football or basketball game (depending on the season) as if nothing had happened.

For some reason, he never had to go with us. This, too, struck me as odd. If God wanted the three of us to go to church on Sunday, didn’t He want my father to go, too?

Maybe the TV was his own special form of worship.

Time and years went by, and this Sunday ritual was joined when I was 12 by Christian Children’s Doctrine (CCD) classes. These classes met at St. Therese on Tuesday nights. They were taught by one of the nuns, and went from 7:30 to 9:00, consisting entirely of a lecture on some obscure religious point. Few children in the class took it seriously: I sat in the back each week and passed the time with these two cut-ups who joked and fantasized about how I was really a bullfighter, and other such nonsense.

Ultimately, CCD was for me, a waste of time. I felt bad for the nun who led it: she was so sincere in what she was doing and yet, like my father’s Sunday diatribes (and unlike the bullfighter goofing), absolutely none of the substance of her words survived.

I endured it for grades 7 and 8; for ninth graders, however, CCD was no longer held at the church, but now instead at a local parishioner’s house. Apparently that change was too inconvenient for my mother, so, miraculously, I no longer had to go.

Many decades later, the real reason for the class’ ineffectiveness was unearthed: their messages were never reinforced at home.

Upon returning to my house after class each week I was never, not once in two years, asked about what we did or what I learned, let alone discuss it in any depth. Did they, my parents, even *know* this stuff already? Did they care? Was it important? Certainly nothing about the Catholic way of life was identified or practiced in the way we lived. Its doctrine was not reflected outside the church walls.

Another failure. More doubt.

Ritual Sunday Mass continued, though, all the way to the end of high school. Four days after graduation I was on a plane to Boston to begin a summer program at MIT. I was in college now, presumably in charge of my own affairs, and the first thing to go: no more church! It was forced on me throughout my childhood, never explained, its precepts ignored at home, and now I was finally free to drop it.

It would take fifteen years, a brain aneurysm and one man’s persistent faith to bring me back to Christ. And he did it simply by doing what no one had done up to that point.

He put the pieces together so that they made sense.

Plus, it was OK not to know, and to ask questions.

I was in my hospital bed at Scripps Memorial Hospital in San Diego on that day in November 1992 and my friend Bob had come to visit me there. Four weeks earlier a blood vessel in my head popped and I was suddenly inches from death’s door. I had recovered to a pretty good extent, but I still needed surgery to finally repair the rupture. That surgery was scheduled for the following morning.

In the month I had been there, my mother had come to see me four times; on the other hand, this was Bob’s fifth visit. And this time, he brought his Bible.

Of course, I already knew the broad strokes, like who God and Jesus are, and about sin, heaven and hell. I also had the standard Catholic outlook on the after-life, which included Purgatory, and the mystical notion of needing to be somehow “good enough” in order to get into heaven.

What was missing were the details of how they were all related.

And, of course, everything else.

We talked for half an hour. My lifetime of lingering questions had all been answered, the wrong information had been righted, and for the first time I had a correct Biblical view of things. “Great,” I declared. “What do I do now?”

Bob said that I needed to believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, that He came to earth, lived a sinless life, died for our sins, rose on the third day and now sits at the right hand of the Father.

I looked at him and declared triumphantly: “I can do that!”

But he that received seed into the good ground is he that heareth the word, and understandeth it; which also beareth fruit, and bringeth forth, some an hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty.

Matthew 13:23

From there, the rest is history. As a result of the surgery the next day, I made a complete 100% recovery from my aneurysm utterly baffling my doctors. After leaving Scripps I quickly joined a Baptist church in San Diego and became a voracious student of the Bible and the Christian life. A month after getting out of the hospital, I was baptized correctly through full immersion in water — though I’m sure the sprinkling I received as a baby was cute.

Eight years later, with the arrival of the new millennium, I met the woman God had picked out for me and took her to wife. We were blessed in March 2005 by the arrival of our son Joshua. At Joshua’s baby dedication, where we gave him back to the Lord, a surprise guest showed up at the last minute:  my friend Bob, who had confronted me with the Word a decade and a half earlier in my hospital bed (evidently, I was “sick” spiritually too, as well as physically). He appeared on the scene with his wife just as the ceremony got underway.

And . . . I started going to church again every Sunday, the difference this time being that it was something I chose to do, because I wanted the knowledge that it brought… plus, it was the right thing to do. It made sense, and the spiritual reasons for doing so are far more real and compelling than the “because I said so” dictates of yore.

When the Man from Apple left this Earth, what I took to be that still small voice announced matter-of-factly one day out of the blue: “Steve Jobs is in hell, and will be there forever.” Pretty rough, to be sure, but if he remained a Buddhist and never accepted Christ while he was alive, is that not the expected outcome? His billions, his tech-savvy and his reputation (all God’s gifts, by the way!) ultimately could not save him from a Christ-less eternity.

I thank God for bringing Bob into my hospital room that day to share the Word. The time and place were right for me to receive it, take it in, and for it to blossom. If he had not stepped out on faith and done that, if something had gone wrong on the operating table the next day and I died in an unsaved state, I am positive I would have ended up joining Apple’s co-founder in his grim post-mortal experience.

As Christians, our lives continue to be on roller coasters, but with God along for the ride they stay on track, no matter how fast or slow we go, no matter how high the peaks or low the valleys.

The cloud-piercing experience was not the only important revelation to my young mind on that first flight day.

I learned also that the states in America, in fact, do not have their names written on them in giant letters which you can read from the sky.

-Ellsworth Johnson, a retired software engineer and math teacher. He lives in Katy, Texas with his wife Sonja and son Joshua. He is waiting expectantly to see what God, in His sovereignty and grace, has in store for the next phase of his life.

The policy of Greene Pastures is to respect the views of Christian denominations in its writing. However, essay references to denominations have been kept in Good Seed, Good Ground for author credibility and honesty in sharing an autobiographical story.

Bible Verses:

He put another parable before them, saying, “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a man who sowed good seed in his field, but while his men were sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat and went away. So when the plants came up and bore grain, then the weeds appeared also. And the servants of the master of the house came and said to him, ‘Master, did you not sow good seed in your field? How then does it have weeds?’ He said to them, ‘An enemy has done this.’ So the servants said to him, ‘Then do you want us to go and gather them?’ But he said, ‘No, lest in gathering the weeds you root up the wheat along with them. Let both grow together until the harvest, and at harvest time I will tell the reapers, Gather the weeds first and bind them in bundles to be burned, but gather the wheat into my barn.’” Matthew 13:24-30

Now therefore in the sight of all Israel, the assembly of the Lord, and in the hearing of our God, observe and seek out all the commandments of the Lord your God, that you may possess this good land and leave it for an inheritance to your children after you forever. 1 Chronicles 28:8


Dear Lord, as I come to you this day, I ask you to let me hear and understand your Holy Word. Allow me to heed your holy words and apply them to my life. Give me wisdom in using the gifts and fruits you bestow upon me. Make me an instrument of your love. Allow my faith to share Jesus with those I encounter as your Holy Spirit is preparing them to accept you as Lord and Savior. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.

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