We Saved You a Seat is written by Lisa-Jo Baker and we are leading this as a Bible Cafe™ study. We are studying the theme of friendship while exploring the joys and challenges of relationships with others. As we discussed in our online Bible study, we are learning biblical principles related to friendship, hospitality, vulnerability, and community. Come join us!

The title, “We Saved You a Seat,” suggests the invitation and inclusiveness of the study, emphasizing the idea that there is always room for one more person at the table. The book encourages participants to embrace the value of authentic connections and provides practical insights and discussion questions to facilitate group conversations.

Each week in our online Bible study, we have the opportunity to discuss three friendship challenges with our Bible Cafe™ community. In our Bible study, I discovered that I want to offer ENCOURAGEMENT to the women around me, so I’m going to have to make INTENTIONAL time to text, send cards, and call them. I need to visit them if they are nearby.

Since we started this study, my friendships are blooming! Especially with my neighbors who are close enough for a hot cup of coffee or homemade ice cream on the patio.

After reading a companion book called “The Turquoise Table” I told my husband we need to make our home an “Embassy for the Holy Spirit” and I asked him to put a table in the front yard. We compromised…we will put a table on our “party deck” which you can see from the front yard and add a staircase to the deck so anyone can come up and sip coffee or tea with us.

As you recall in our Bible study this week, we learned about “perfectly curated” images and lifestyles. How can we be more vulnerable in our “real” lives? As a family rule, I never post images of my kids or husband online. So that means I post my dogs, garden, books, or latte photos. And these are snapshots of my life. To be more real online, we simply need to be who God made us to be. Share our hobbies. Tell our stories.

And…Let’s be very clear: Being vulnerable is not giving you permission to GOSSIP, or diminish a family member or friend because you’re “being real.” Guard your mouth and words so you speak life.

For introverts like me, vulnerability can feel awkward because we are constantly judged or misunderstood. When I put my words (and heart) online, someone is not seeing what Jesus sees and forms a biased opinion about me.

Because my confidence is in Christ- not people- I have learned not to care about the critical spirit and I allow myself to be free in Christ and His love for me. -Christine Abraham

On a scale from 1 to 5 with 5 being the highest, everyone begins at a 3 on the friendship scale. I trust them and expect them to have mutual respect and mutual vulnerability. A few of them move up to my level 5 on the scale as we get to know each other more and more.

Jesus had 12 apostles, and 3 moved into his level 5 circle. Two of His friends betrayed him. Like Jesus, I still love the betrayers in my friendship life but no longer allow them access to my deepest heart.

As we talked about fences, hedges, and protection last week, we remember how some people need the outer fence, and some are allowed into the inner fence of your heart.

I see friendships as a garden and so God has planted a beautiful garden into my life and heart. It is my job to sow and tend to the garden. Sometimes if we pull weeds from the garden, we will lose a few good flowers too. For example, when our church of 12,000 split into two churches after a leadership disagreement, the friends who left my church small group eventually disappeared from my life. They followed the new church and pastor and disconnected from the original church.

Martha and Mary went to Jesus with their disappointment the first time Lazarus died. Where do you go when you feel disappointed? I used to go to food- sweets- to keep my mouth silent from speaking about disappointments. And I gained weight. Now I go to Jesus with my emotions. I pray in the garden, for two hours daily! And I have learned that you can’t eat food with dirt and weeds in your hands. Back to Eden!!

Bible Cafers love like Jesus, speak like Jesus, and KNOW Jesus. -Christine Abraham

Lisa-Jo Baker writes, “We’ve been groomed by our culture to present a flawless version of ourselves to the people around us.” How do you feel about your online biography, so far? Actually, I’m fine with my online biography because it is not a flawless story. I am me.

Be yourself and share Christ in you. I’ll see you in our Zoom groups or online small groups next week.

Be Blessed!

Christine Abraham writes for the Bible Cafe™ community. Learn about living by the Fruit of the Spirit as you enjoy her online Bible studies. Join Christine at the Bible Cafe™ University for weekly Bible teaching.