Steve Macchia Blog

The Year of Friendship: With God, Others and Self – part 3

friendship-day-sms

“The Year of Friendship: With God, Others and Self” – part 3

My wife and I recently spent an evening with friends we’ve known for nearly four decades. Such friends are pure gold; rare gems; and a joy to know. We’ve seen each other through the highest highs and the lowest lows. We’ve come alongside each other during times of grief and suffering as well as accomplishment and celebration. We’ve strongly urged one another on toward love and good deeds and we’ve quietly forgiven one another with grace and kindness. We know we’re far short of perfection and we’ve learned to laugh about our quirks and idiosyncrasies.

In short, we’ve experienced true friendship.  And it’s been good for our souls, life-giving for others, and honoring to God.

To allow friendships to become anything other than honorable and grace-filled is to squander the work of God in our midst. The Kingdom of God is to be built up and expanded through the shared work of the Church, a community of like-minded and like-hearted friends. Not all of them BFF’s (best friends forever), but men and women, young and old, of all ethnicities and colors, who are on a worthy pursuit of friendship with God, one another and deep within ourselves. To treat one another in any lesser fashion is to miss one of life’s greatest gifts!

Today, are you a blessing and a joy to those who surround you as friends of Jesus who are befriending others in Jesus’ name? How do your initiatives and responses to your friends make Jesus smile?

Consider prayerfully the following phrases as you reflect on your friendships and audit their health…

The love of a friend is the best gift of all.

The presence of a friend is the balm for your weary soul.

The listening ear of a friend fosters the abundance of life.

The grace of a friend emulates the arms and voice of God.

Friends love at all times.

Friends rejoice when you rejoice.

Friends weep when you weep.

Friends warn you of pending troubles.

Friends graciously forgive you.

Friends inspire you to greatness.

Friends encourage your best self.

Friends share your joy and gift you with joy.

Friends laugh with and never at you.

Friends urge you onward and forward.

Friends never ridicule, shame or blame you.

Friends never desert you but always defend you.

Friends never purposefully harm you.

Friends pray for you.

Friends pray with you.

Friends always point you back to Jesus.

 

Behold Jesus, the One who calls you his beloved friend. Believe the priority of loving friendship for all of life. Belong to the community of friends of Jesus who delight in bearing fruit that lasts. Become renewed by the gifts of friendship received and offered in Jesus’ name.



Categories: Uncategorized Comments Off

The Year of Friendship: With God, Others and Self – part 2

The Year of Friendship: With God, Others and Self

friendship-day-sms

On the heels of our most recent blizzard, the first day post-storm was sunny and beautiful, but the weather people called it a day of “inconsequential sunshine.” I’m sure what they meant was that the sunshine would not affect the temperatures in any consequential way, but I couldn’t help but wonder, “When is sunshine ever inconsequential?” I love the sunshine, even on a cold day in January.

Two days later the inconsequential nature of sunshine hit home…literally. We were now days into the post-blizzard “bomb” affect of accumulated snow that was stagnant in the frigid below zero temps. The sun was shining but there was indeed no melting…except in our kitchen, through one of our light fixtures, when the drips began in earnest. This was a result of massive ice dams in the back (north) side of the house, the “pond” had formed under the snow packed roof in between the outside cold and the inside warmth of our home, and now the water was seeping in where it was free to roam.

That’s when I began praying for “consequential sunshine” to return once more…with temps getting back above freezing, thank you very much. Only then will the drips end and the ice dams melt; tackling the problem long term will have to wait until spring.

Unlike the sunshine, there is never a time when friendship with Jesus is inconsequential. His love is unconditional, extravagant, and always consequential. Especially when the storms of life appear, wreak havoc, and compound our lives with disappointment. It’s only our friendship with Jesus that keeps us sane, helps us recover, empowers us to be restored, and fosters the renewal we all long for each day.

In John 15, Jesus says it clearly, “Remain in me, as I also remain in you…as the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. My command is this: love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends…I no longer call you servants. Instead, I have called you friends.”

Spiritual friendship with our brothers and sisters in Christ begins with the quality of friendship we enjoy with Jesus. They go hand in glove; one impacts the other. They are both consequential. What is the state of your friendship with Jesus? In what way do you want to foster greater depth and intimacy with your friend Jesus? Perhaps it might be best to jumpstart that conversation by considering how best to remain in Jesus, as he remains in you.

Some ideas to consider:  join Jesus in the biblical text, noticing how Jesus reaches out to his followers as you read the Gospels; or, invite Jesus to make himself known to you in the quietness of your prayer closet and throughout your day of serving others; or, simply press the pause button and open your journal to record the ways Jesus has initiated friendship toward you over the years.  Jesus wants to be your #1 spiritual friend…in fact, as your Savior and Lord, Teacher and King, his friendship with you is tied to every other aspect of his affection for you as the God of all creation.

When a cold but sunny day appears on your horizon, it’s never inconsequential. Your friendship with Jesus will always bring meaning and hope, health and strength to even the darkest hour.

Behold Jesus, the One who calls you his beloved friend. Believe the priority of loving friendship for all of life. Belong to the community of friends of Jesus who delight in bearing fruit that lasts. Become renewed by the gifts of friendship received and offered in Jesus’ name.

 

 



Categories: Uncategorized Comments Off

2018: The Year of…

2018: The Year of…

I’m deeply concerned about the diminution of a very important word. It’s been absconded by social media. It’s been destroyed by politics and the media. It’s been lost in our closed-off neighborhoods. It’s absent in many business settings. It’s missing in far too many Christian ministry and church circles.  It’s simply gone in too many places and it needs to be recovered once more.

The word I’m referring to isn’t just a word, it’s a defining concept for relationships of all stripes: for families, churches, communities, businesses, and our wider world. It’s more than six letters combined to form the word, it’s actually central to the core of our being and the meaningful state of our souls. It impacts our walk with God, our self-awareness, our interactions with others, our community involvement, and our service to others. It’s beyond ourselves but it’s also about ourselves.

The word I’m referring to is “friendship” and in 2018 I’d like to invite you to join me in reclaiming the word in a fresh, new, life-giving way. It belongs to us as spiritual men and women, young and old, and it’s key to our walk with God. In fact, Jesus calls us “friends” and invites us to be “friends” with one another and who, when we bear fruit together, bear fruit that lasts.

Without being friends, we may in fact produce fruit, but not necessarily fruit that endures. When we treat each other as “servants” without first being “friends” we may have a functional relationship that works toward goals, objectives, and numbers, but without being “friends”first and foremost our collective efforts may be evidenced solely for prideful reasons. We certainly don’t readily admit that our efforts are toward self-defining ends, but without friendship with God and one another we may in fact lose the greatest opportunity of all: bearing fruit that lasts!

In John 15, Jesus makes it clear: abide in him as he abides in us…receive his loving friendship…love one another as friends…bear fruit that lasts. It’s not very complicated; it’s actually crystal clear. And yet, as I’ve experienced personally and have observed in so many other venues, the concept of friendship can far too easily be relegated off to the periphery, or it can be completely ignored, and then powering over others gets undue center stage. Spiritual leaders pay close attention to the strength, health, and oneness of their team of friends.

And so, I hereby wish to declare 2018 “The Year of Friendship: With God, Others, and Self” and invite you to make the same declaration. It will be good for your soul, your relationship with God, and your delight to be spiritually healthy  friends with other friends of Jesus who seek to love one another and bear lasting fruit for the Kingdom.

Over the coming weeks I will be devoting my blog to the subject of spiritual friendship…friendship that’s different from others who claim friendship but who do so without God in the center. However, when God is given his rightful place among friends of Jesus, there is a marked difference…one that the world and yes, even the Christian community, needs now more than ever.

Join me in this pilgrimage; invite others to join us too; and let’s see how God informs our hearts, minds, souls, and our friendships accordingly. Let’s make 2018 “The Year of Friendship!”

At the outset…as you reflect on your role as “friend” ask yourself this question: How do my initiatives and responses to my friends make Jesus smile? We will return to this question often in the coming weeks.

Behold Jesus, the One who calls you his beloved friend. Believe the priority of loving friendship for all of life. Belong to the community of friends of Jesus who delight in bearing fruit that lasts. Become renewed by the gifts of friendship received and offered in Jesus’ name.



Categories: Uncategorized Comments Off

A New Year’s Prayer

 

NewYearsEve-670x242

A New Year’s Prayer

By Stephen A. Macchia

Throughout the New Year 2018, may the Lord grant you the courage and strength to…

Dream more
Complain less
Listen more
Talk less
Love more
Argue less

Forgive more

Divide less

Hope more

Fear less
Relax more
Worry less

Help more

Harm less

Believe more

Doubt less
Play more
Work less
Focus more
Distract less
Pray more
Fret less
Sing more
Shout less
Be more
Strive less
Give more
Take less
Live more
Stress less
Rest more
Hurry less
Read more
Noise less
Trust more
Control less

And, may the Lord bless and protect you,

may the Lord’s face radiate with joy because of you;

may he be gracious to you, show you his favor, and give you his peace,

and may you open-heartedly receive and open-handedly offer to all who cross your path the loving gift of friendship and grace,

granted generously to you from the Triune God, the Almighty Father, the Beloved Son Jesus, and the Empowering Holy Spirit,

throughout each day of 2018 and forevermore. Amen.

 



Categories: Uncategorized Comments Off

Happy Christmas To All!

IMG_2617[1]

Happy Christmas to all!

Christmas day is traditionally known as the beginning of “the twelve days of Christmas” concluding on January 6, which is called Epiphany. During the 12 days of Christmas, we join the chorus of Christ followers in commemoration of those who so faithfully loved Jesus the Messiah.

On December 26 we remember Saint Stephen, who was one of the early Church’s first deacons and a forerunner of expressing the love of Christ through generosity to the poor. On this day we give leftovers to the poor, as described in the popular Christmas carol, “Good King Wenceslas.” Stephen was also the first martyr, giving witness to the love of Christ by the sacrifice of his own life.

On December 27 we remember St. John the Evangelist, the one who gave witness to the Incarnation through his profound gospel message, “The Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us” (John 1:14). On the 28th of December we recall the children who were murdered spitefully by Herod in the feast of the Holy Innocents, dying so unjustly and at such an early age.  In their suffering we are awakened to the myriad ways human suffering has occurred in our broken world and throughout history. In their suffering we renew our hope in the coming of Christ to relieve suffering and grant mercy to those in need.

Finally, on January 6 the season of Christmas comes to an end…with the oft-forgotten festival of Epiphany. On this day we primarily commemorate the visit of the Magi with their gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh; we also celebrate the baptism of Jesus; and, we remember his first miracle of turning water into wine. The season of Advent has ushered in the celebrations of Christmastide, which comes to a glorious conclusion at Epiphany.

From there we turn our attention to the life and teachings of Jesus. We recommit ourselves once more to faithful living and loving and learning. We acknowledge the Incarnation of Jesus, we celebrate his coming into this world and into our hearts, and we lean fully into what it means to live fully committed to his teachings as ones who are lovingly redeemed and continuously transformed.

In Jesus the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us…we behold his glory and we proclaim it to a lost and needy world. Thanks be to God!

Happy Christmastide to you and yours – may you…Behold the fulfilled promises of Almighty God ~ Believe the Gospel proclamation of Good News in the incarnate Jesus ~ Belong to those who anticipate the coming Messiah with joyful celebration ~ Become a faithful disciple who waits, watches, and wonders with Spirit-filled anticipation once more!



Categories: Uncategorized Comments Off

25 Fulfilled Promises of Christmas – #25

25 Fulfilled Promises of Christmas:

Advent Reflections for those who Wait, Watch, and Wonder Once More

Compiled and composed by Stephen A. Macchia

IMG_2617[1]

Promise #25 – the Messiah has come to us as Jesus, the Name Above All Names (Luke 2: 1-20).  The birth narrative is a miraculous glimpse into the coming of Messiah Jesus into this world. Born in a humble manger, with Mary and Joseph by his side, he brings with him good news of great joy for all the people. Today is the day the Messiah comes as a baby, and is  surrounded by a great company of the heavenly host. The angels song is very simply, “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.” The shepherd’s song is also filled with glory and praise. But Mary treasures the moment, pondering this new reality in her heart. On this Christmas Day, how are you cherishing the miraculous gift of the Incarnate Christ-child, our loving Messiah Jesus?

Merry Christmas, and may you and yours…Behold the fulfilled promises of Almighty God ~ Believe the Gospel proclamation of Good News in the incarnate Jesus ~ Belong to those who anticipate the coming Messiah with joyful celebration ~ Become a faithful disciple who waits, watches, and wonders with Spirit-filled anticipation once more!

 



Categories: Uncategorized Comments Off

25 Fulfilled Promises of Christmas – #24

25 Fulfilled Promises of Christmas:

Advent Reflections for those who Wait, Watch, and Wonder Once More

Compiled and composed by Stephen A. Macchia

IMG_2617[1]

Promise #24 – the Messiah’s coming will be reason to praise, for salvation has arrived (Luke 1: 68-79).  Zechariah’s song reveals the heart of a godly father toward his loved ones. He praises the heavenly Father for unleashing his presence, power and peace over all who serve him. He praises the God of Israel for his work of redemption, salvation, holiness and righteousness. He recalls the promise of God to rescue his people from the hand of their enemies. And, he recounts the ways his son John would prepare for Messiah Jesus to forgive sins and guide the feet of his beloved into the pathway of peace. It’s a remarkable song of praise. As your heart swells with Christmas joy, for what intangible gifts are you most grateful today?

Throughout this holy season, may you and yours…Behold the fulfilled promises of Almighty God ~ Believe the Gospel proclamation of Good News in the incarnate Jesus ~ Belong to those who anticipate the coming Messiah with joyful celebration ~ Become a faithful disciple who waits, watches, and wonders with Spirit-filled anticipation once more!

 

 



Categories: Uncategorized Comments Off

25 Fulfilled Promises of Christmas – #23

25 Fulfilled Promises of Christmas:

Advent Reflections for those who Wait, Watch, and Wonder Once More

Compiled and composed by Stephen A. Macchia

IMG_2617[1]

Promise #23 – the Messiah’s coming will be hopeful, prayerful and expectant (Luke 1: 46-55). Mary’s song of praise is a prayerful response to the Lord’s favor upon her life. Her willingness to serve God in the fulfillment of this miraculous promise is indicative of her heart. She is hopeful and expectant and she glorifies the Lord with mindfulness of his abundant blessing. She shouts for joy in the mercy extended to her as he so faithfully has done for generations. She acknowledges the many ways God has remembered his promises and has lifted the humble, filled the hungry, and blessed the ones who extol his praise. As Christmas Day approaches, how are you rejoicing in God, the generously merciful lover of your soul?

Throughout this holy season, may you and yours…Behold the fulfilled promises of Almighty God ~ Believe the Gospel proclamation of Good News in the incarnate Jesus ~ Belong to those who anticipate the coming Messiah with joyful celebration ~ Become a faithful disciple who waits, watches, and wonders with Spirit-filled anticipation once more!

 



Categories: Uncategorized Comments Off

25 Fulfilled Promises of Christmas – #22

25 Fulfilled Promises of Christmas:

Advent Reflections for those who Wait, Watch, and Wonder Once More

Compiled and composed by Stephen A. Macchia

IMG_2617[1]

Promise #22 – the Messiah will be called Emmanuel, God with us (various texts). The promise of the Messiah spans the Old Testament and the fulfillment is laced throughout the Gospels and the New Testament. The focus of the promise is Emmanuel, God is with us…he always has been, is today, and will be forever with us. Not only that, he’s for us. He has our very best interests always in his heart and mind. As we wait, watch and wonder this Advent season, our embrace of the Incarnate Christ child becomes more resolute. On this 22nd day of December, recall the many ways God has been preparing all generations for the coming of Messiah.

O come, O come, Emmanuel (Isa. 7:14)!

Rod of Jesse (Isa. 11:1), free us from Satan’s tyranny victoriously;

Dayspring (Isa. 9:2), disperse gloomy clouds with cheers on high;

Key of David (Isa. 22:22), open wide the path to our heavenly home;

Lord of Might (Isa. 33:22), hold firmly the Law in majesty and awe;

Wisdom from on high (Isa. 11:2,3), invite order on the way to knowledge;

Desire of nations (Haggai 2:7), bind all people in one heart and mind.

Our hymn of praise exalts the heavens and blankets the earth.

O come, O come, Emmanuel…your prophets foretold the truth.

Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace;

Emmanuel has come, is with us now, and will come again once more!

Throughout this holy season, may you and yours…Behold the fulfilled promises of Almighty God ~ Believe the Gospel proclamation of Good News in the incarnate Jesus ~ Belong to those who anticipate the coming Messiah with joyful celebration ~ Become a faithful disciple who waits, watches, and wonders with Spirit-filled anticipation once more!

 



Categories: Uncategorized Comments Off

25 Fulfilled Promises of Christmas – #21

25 Fulfilled Promises of Christmas:

Advent Reflections for those who Wait, Watch, and Wonder Once More

Compiled and composed by Stephen A. Macchia

IMG_2617[1]

Promise #21 – the Messiah will be born in Bethlehem (Micah 5:2 and Matthew 2: 1-6). Bethlehem, the least of the clans of Judah, would become the birthplace of the Messiah Jesus. He would come to earth and declare the significance of the least, the lost, the lonely, the forgotten, the abandoned, and the ridiculed. It’s no surprise that God would choose such a humble setting for the Savior and Redeemer to be delivered to this world. We often overlook the “least of these” whether in one’s family lineage, home town, ethnicity, socio-economic background, or in any number of specific heritage markers. God chose the least of the least and he did so on purpose and in fulfillment of his promise. How will you choose to come alongside the “least of these” in your sphere of influence today?

Throughout this holy season, may you and yours…Behold the fulfilled promises of Almighty God ~ Believe the Gospel proclamation of Good News in the incarnate Jesus ~ Belong to those who anticipate the coming Messiah with joyful celebration ~ Become a faithful disciple who waits, watches, and wonders with Spirit-filled anticipation once more!



Categories: Uncategorized Comments Off