Never abandon a friend— either yours or your father’s. When disaster strikes, you won’t have to ask your brother for assistance. It’s better to go to a neighbor than to a brother who lives far away.

~Proverbs 27:10, NLT


“If a man does not make new friends as he advances in life, he will find himself alone. A wise man keeps his friendships in good repair.”

I graduated college, got married and left home all in the same year, actually within a three month period in the fall of 1971. One of my big concerns during those days when I struggled with God’s call to the ministry was leaving my family behind. Looking back I chuckle but at the time, I thought I was making a huge sacrifice. All my siblings were fortunate to live within 5 minutes of my mother and daddy. When I left home, I had no idea how God would replace my family but He graciously gave us a mother figure in every church and every community. We have only one church mother still living on this earth and her name is Wanda and she lives in New Orleans. We have gained friends with every move. At Salem Springs we became friends with Griggs Rose and wife Joyce along with others. In New Orleans, it was Grady and Wanda McClendon. We were in Scott County Mississippi only 18 months and yet we made life long friends with the Sessums family. We were in Cherokee just over four years and yet we have many friends in that small town. Here in Danville, we feel as though we are rich in friends.

Verse above became dear to me several years ago. Kenneth Narrell had been my friend before moving to Craze Road but while I was there, the verse took on new meaning. Kenneth was both friend and neighbor and to me closer than a brother. I shared things with him that I never shared with either of my brothers. Not that they would not listen, but they were too far away. I don’t grade that well in a lot of areas but I put a high premium on loyalty to friends. I’ve been in some tight spots and I took notes. A true friend with stand beside you when your name is being slandered and you character impugned. When the going gets tough, those who are worried about their own reputation will head for cover. I had a deacon tell me once, “Don’t worry Bro. Jack, we are behind you, way behind you.” Fortunately for me, he was kidding, he happened to be one of the few who had the courage to stand behind me. I’ve never carried a grudge toward those who lacked the courage to stand against the odds because loyalty is a rare commodity and most people lack the character to be a true friend. We humans are weak in this area but thank God for those who do have this ability to stick close when the storms of life assail.

Hey, I’m still making friends. I have a new friend that is the age of my children. We communicate so much via the I-phone and text that Big Mama is jealous. My friend and I think so much a like that is is almost frightening. His heart beats closer to mine than anyone I know. He has a heavy burden right now and I am helping him bear up under it. That is what friends are for! Big Mama says that both of us are crazy but what does she know?

I want you to pray for my first cousin Karen Emerick. She had to be incubated yesterday while she was in the Cath Lab. I’m not sure if it was heart failure or lung but she had to be incubated and now she is in CCU1 on 6th floor. Karen is 59 with two children and three grands. Pray too for her faithful husband David who was visibly shaken by all that happened. Providently, God had me at the right place at the right time. Karen needs a triple by pass but she has a severe lung problem. We think that one of her lungs is filled with fluid. They are trying to reduce the fluid so she can withstand the surgery. For all you Mississippi State fans, David’s father was a professor there. David grew up in Starkville and graduated at State. My friends in Mississippi are State fans. GO BULLDOGS! The only time I don’t pull for them is when they play BAMA. I must confess, my State friends betrayed me during the championship game, they took Big Mama and Georgia’s side. There exact words were: “You win all the time. It is time for someone else to win.” Hey, I don’t have a problem with winning.

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