Posts filed under ‘Personal Reflections’

Bad Company, Good Company

Part of last week’s L3 Journal reading was 1 Corinthians 5.  In thinking about last Sunday’s challenge to our high school graduates, I was reflecting especially vv. 9-13:  “But now, I am writing you that you must not associate with anyone who calls himself a brother but is sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater, or a slanderer, or a drunkard, or a swindler, with such a man, do not even eat…God will judge those outside. ‘Expel the wicked man among you.’ ”

In this passage, Paul refers to an earlier letter to the Corinthian church that we do not have.  Here, Paul refers to his previous admonition to be careful of keeping company with ungodly people, but he clarifies that he intended “ungodly believers,” not unsaved people. He says we have to associate with worldly people for a very practical reason: it would be impossible to do that without removing ourselves completely from the world.  There is also a spiritual reason: associating  with immoral people in the world is the only way we can have a positive witness with them for Christ.   His admonition in verse 13 is a quote from Deuteronomy 13:5.

He then goes on to list six examples of the kinds of behavior that disqualify our close friendships with unspiritual Christians.  His command here is in line with his warning in 1 Corinthians 15:33:  “Bad company corrupts good character.”

You and I need to be discerning in our relationships.  The clear implication of both Paul’s words in Galatians 6:1 (to “restore [a fallen brother] gently, but watch yourself, or you will also be tempted”) and Jesus’ words in Matthew 18 is that we will and must challenge fellow believers regarding sinful behavior but not become close friends with them.  As I explained Sunday, it is much easier to pull someone DOWN than to pull someone UP. The key here is balance.

Let’s pray that God will help us to have the proper balance between rubbing shoulders with believers who need to be gently confronted on one hand, and becoming too closely aligned with them to the point they are negative influences on us on the other. Our balance with lost people is similar:  God’s goal for us is to NOT write off unbelievers as “hopeless,” but to see them through the eyes of Christ, befriend them, value them, and develop relationships with them that are pleasing to God in order to show genuine concern for them and to build bridges to them for Christ.  May God help us to do just that!

Calvin Kelly


May 24, 2011 at 8:59 pm Leave a comment

Praying for Your Kids

As part of my message on “How to Raise the Perfect Child” Sunday, I shared about Jason Meredith’s mother’s prayer for her kids found three months after her death in 1999.  Mrs. Meredith had attended a conference on praying parents in 1986 and had prayed daily for her three children from a tattered piece of paper folded neatly in her Bible. Here are those “Twelve Ways to Pray for Your Children:”

  1. To know Christ as Savior and Lord early in life (Psalm 63:1 and 2 Timothy 3:15)
  2. To have a hatred for sin (Psalm 97:10)
  3. To be caught whenever they are guilty of sin (Psalm 119:71)
  4. To be protected from the evil one in each area of their lives – emotional, physical, spiritual, intellectual, relational  (John 17:15 and Romans 12:21)
  5. To have a responsible attitude in all their interpersonal relationships (Daniel 6:3 and Romans 14:17-19)
  6. To respect those in authority over them (Romans 13:1)
  7. To desire the right kind of friends and to be protected from the wrong kind of friends (Proverbs 1:10-11)
  8. To be kept from marrying wrongly and to marry according to God’s will (2 Corinthians 6:14-17)
  9. To, along with their spouse, be kept morally pure before and during marriage (2 Corinthians 7:1)
  10. To totally submit to God in all areas of their lives and to actively resist Satan in all circumstances  (James 4:7-8 and 1 Peter 5:8-9)
  11. To be single-hearted and willing to be “sold out” to Jesus Christ (Romans 12:1-2)
  12. To be be surrounded by a “hedge of protection” so that they will not find wrong places and that wrong people cannot find them (Hosea 2:6)


I pray that these suggestions be the foundation for a vibrant prayer pattern for your children of any age.

Calvin Kelly

May 22, 2011 at 12:15 pm Leave a comment

A Tribute to a Friend

My life-long friend, Richard Harvey, died April 27,2011, of complications associated with a self-inflicted gunshot wound.  This blog post, with minor edits, is a tribute I paid to him at his memorial service on April 29:

There are few people in my life with whom I go as deep and for as long as I do with Richard Harvey.  I remember when I first met Richard at First Baptist Church in Yazoo City, Mississippi, where his family had moved from Vicksburg.  We were in the same grade in elementary school and he and I quickly became fast friends.  Richard was my closest friend through high school and on into college, and was a groomsman in my wedding.

As kids, we spent the night at each other’s houses, ate with each other’s families, and tried the patience of our mothers and teenage sisters.  When Richard talked “chicken Calvin” into holding a cardboard fluorescent light box over the barrel of his pellet gun while he shot it, I truly thought he had shot my finger off when the pellet grazed it.  He laughed hysterically when I burst toward his house from the field in back, shouting, “Mrs. Harvey!  Mrs. Harvey!”  I never got a straight answer to the question as to whether or not he intended to scare me like that, though it was obvious Richard wasn’t very concerned about my injury.

As freshmen roommates, it was Richard who taught me how to keep my shirt from pulling up out of the back of my pants.  The secret? Tuck your T-shirt into your underwear and then pull your outer shirt over the underwear and then tuck into your pants! It was a trick he said his father had taught him. My first fashion lesson at Mississippi State, courtesy of Richard Harvey.

As residents of Hightower Dorm, we had most of our first-year classes together.  Since my parents would not let me have a car at school my first year, Richard would drive us both across campus to our freshman philosophy class at the Animal Husbandry Building in his red Buick Skylark.  One day when we drove up to class, our Doonesbury-like hippie professor noticed Richard’s tag on the front of his car, which said, “Jesus is the Answer.”  As we walked into the large auditorium before class began, the teacher sarcastically asked Richard, “If Jesus is the answer, what’s the question?”  “Life,” Richard said with a smile and a bounce in his step. Even after 40 years, my memory of Richard’s unashamed proclamation of his faith strikes me as the summation of his life. Through numerous ups and downs of life, relationships, and career, Richard maintained that faith in Christ until he crossed over into the other side of eternity.

Richard and I had a lot in common.  We both came from large families: I was the youngest of four children, and until the births of his younger brothers, Thomas and John, Richard was too.  Our mothers were both active in church circles, our fathers successful businessmen. In fact, Richard and I often even liked the same girls in high school. The difference was that Richard always got the girl, though he had a certain penchant for robbing the cradle. I’m talking about pretty girls, the kind that made me wonder what he had that I didn’t.  After all, I was taller than he was, and … I was, well, taller than he was.  The truth is, Richard was a natural charmer, and I was an introverted wallflower. I can see him today, walking with his characteristic bounce, mischievous smile, and almost white-blond hair.

That hair had some unique challenges.  One Sunday night at church after Richard had gone swimming earlier that afternoon at the local country club, his hair was a lime-like green color from the over-chlorinated water of the pool.   Did it bother Richard?  Not on your life.

He and I sang in the same youth choir, poked at Mr. Prather and Mrs. Henley together, roomed together on the same mission trips, and occasionally smoked the same Swisher Sweet cigars with our friends, Bobby and Chuck.  Though we didn’t start at the same time, he and I overlapped as students at the same seminary, served churches in the same city of Montgomery, Alabama, shared each other’s deepest secrets, and often talked of serving on the staff of the same church.

Though careers, family, time, and distance separated us in recent years, Richard did a better job of keeping up with me than I did with him.  He and Jeanne drove down to Birmingham for our daughter’s wedding a few years ago. When we exchanged emails, it was always at his initiative.  I loved reading of his successful career and his big dreams.

He was a survivor and seemed to always bounce back from adversity. He fought the same demons we all do, but with a greater feistiness and with more victories than most of us.  He will always have my respect, admiration, and loyalty as his friend.  Today, as he rests in the arms of his Savior, Richard embodies the promise from Isaiah 40:  “Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength.  They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.”

Richard, like all of us frail humans, may have stumbled, but today he soars!

Calvin Kelly

May 1, 2011 at 7:35 pm Leave a comment

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