5 Ways To Do Christ-centered Friendship

Title: 5 Ways To Do Christ-Centered Friendship
Artwork by: YMI X Barbs Jenjaroentham (@barbsiegraphy)
Description: 
We are made for friendships. True friends are with us in the midst of our difficulties, intercede for us when we are too worn down to pray for ourselves, and gently point us in the correct direction when we end up straying too far from the path. Building intentional friendships, especially one that is modeled after Christ, requires the sacrifice and investment of time, and can sometimes seem a little inconvenient. But despite its costs, it is worth sowing into friendships that will last the mile. How deep does your friendship go? Follow us as we look at what makes for a Christ-centered friendship.

 

Let us try initiating deeper conversations that matter with our friends. We could go beyond the generic, “How are you?”, and instead ask our friends about how their spiritual lives or their quiet time with God is going. Sincere questions like these can bring about a deeper bond as we encourage each other in our spiritual lives. Scripture says we are not to look out after our own interest, but also the interests of each other (Philippians 2:4), and conversations like these allow us to do just that.

 

Be a friend who is willing to offer practical help. Too often it is easier to text a sick friend, “Get well soon. Rest up”, but wouldn’t it be lovelier if we showed up with a food parcel for our friends to see them through the week?  It isn’t always easy to find the time in our busy schedules to add in an hour or two to visit a sick friend, or to sacrifice our weekend to help a friend move house. But actions speak louder than words, and nothing says we care more than putting in some elbow grease to help a friend out. Scripture says two are better than one, because if one of them falls down, the other can help them up (Ecclesiastes 4:9-10).

 

We are constantly encouraged to “follow our hearts” in whatever we choose to pursue. But what happens if the direction chosen is leading us, or our friends, down a destructive path? In times like these, would we be brave enough to gently steer our friends back on the right path with the gospel? Similarly, would we be open to taking advice from friends who are concerned about our welfare, even though it may be uncomfortable? Scripture says the wounds of a friend can be trusted, but an enemy multiplies kisses (Proverbs 27:6). Receiving and giving advice may not always be comfortable, but true friends will always have each other’s best interest at heart.

 

Friendship requires honesty, but too often we have found ways to skirt around issues that are troubling us. It is also easier to pretend things are going 100% well when in truth it isn’t. Perhaps the fear of being seen as “less-than” have compelled us to hold back from telling the whole truth in the presence of our friends, or perhaps we are afraid our stories will get repeated elsewhere. However, friendships that are genuine, honest, and open allow us to share our vulnerabilities without worries. Let us actively work on cultivating friendships like these, where we can come together with our shortcomings, hold each other accountable, and remember each other in prayer (James 5:16).

 

Sometimes it can feel like we don’t quite know how to respond to our friends’ situation. Maybe we haven’t gone through what they are experiencing, or we do not want to say the wrong thing that would further hurt them. Words may fail us, but we can pray alongside our friend, who might be too worn out to pray on their own. Ultimately, we know that none of us can solve each other’s problems, and prayer acknowledges we have a God who is able to do far more than we ask or think (Ephesians 3:20).

Follow The True Shepherd’s Voice

Just as the sheep know the voice of the Good Shepherd and follow only Him, will we also choose to hear the voice of Jesus and follow Him?

10 Steps To A Rejuvenated YOU

Title: 10 Steps To A Rejuvenated YOU
Artwork by: YMI
Description: 
We are often told we are what we eat. In a bid to rid our body of the excess burgers and fried noodles that we have been consuming, most of us would have tried a new diet or weight-loss fad to cleanse our bodies, often with little or no success. But just as important as it is to look after our physical bodies, we must also look at nourishing our soul, mind, and heart. With that in mind, we’ve put together 10 nourishing tips to rejuvenate our selves!

 

Breathe in the delicious scent of a favorite body scrub. Feel fresh skin emerging as we work the scrub all over our bodies. Like our skin, our mind needs a good cleanse every now and then. We scrub our bodies to cleanse it from the dirt and grime we have accumulated over the day. Likewise, our minds might have absorbed negative thoughts or ideas that are detrimental to us that we need to scrub out. 

Let us take the time to gently cleanse our minds and mouths, so our words and meditations will be acceptable to God (Psalm 19:14). Once done, fill our minds up with thoughts that are noble and right, pure and lovely, excellent and praiseworthy (Philippians 4:8)

 

“I have been so busy,” is probably the most common expression we hear. Whether it is waking up early for a gym session, or working late into the night, most of us equate being busy with being productive. But soon, the stresses of frantically rushing from one appointment to another leave us perpetually tired and burned out. Fortunately, God knows how important rest is for us, and like a gentle shepherd, he invites us to lie down in green pastures, to rest beside the still waters, as he restores our soul (Psalm 23:1-4). Go on, it is time to put your feet up. 

 

Cold water, fresh juices, iced drinks. Water is essential to everyday living, and without it, we would shrivel up and become dehydrated. Likewise, staying hydrated in God’s word is just as important. Without His words, our spiritual lives will dry up. 

We are to soak in His words, drink deeply from the Bible, so that we will be like a tree that is firmly planted by the stream of water, which yields its fruit in its season, and whose leaf does not wither (Psalm 1:3). Doesn’t that sound simply refreshing?  

 

“I am not as good as her at sports”, “s/he is better looking than I am”, “I never have anything cool to say unlike him/her”. Whether we know it or not, we often find ourselves comparing our looks, gifts, or athleticism to our peers. Before we know it, we have spiraled into a pit of self-doubt and self-pity, thinking God has short changed us in every department. 

Instead of letting these thoughts rule our minds, let us “take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ” (Corinthians 10:3-5)”. Let us also take the time to remind ourselves that we are Christ’s “workmanship, created to do the good works He has prepared for us to do” (Ephesians 2:10)

 

For some, opting for a plate of fried chicken instead of a bowl of salad is hands down the easiest option. But eating too many fried chickens could have an adverse effect on our health. Likewise, choosing to nourish our soul with God’s words may seem like a dull alternative when we can spend it on streaming videos. However, reading daily devotions and spending time in prayer allows us to taste and see how good He is (Psalm 34:8). 

Feasting on His promises allows us to be filled with joy and peace, abounding in all hope (Romans 15:13). This is important for when life gets hard, and when we cannot see an end to our troubles, we can rely on His promises to get us through the tough times. Start nourishing your soul now!

 

Leading an active lifestyle is more than just eating the right foods, or thinking positive thoughts. Hitting the gym to build strong muscles are also part of a healthy lifestyle. But don’t just stop at the gym. Let your spiritual life be a fitspo for the people around you. 

Actively seek God in your youth (Ecclesiastes 12:1). Seek Him with all your heart, not straying from His commands (Psalm 119:10). Keep in step with God each day, turning from evil (Psalm 34:14). As we earnestly seek God, we will find ourselves transformed more and more into Christ-likeness.

 

OK, just one more look,” you promise yourself. “I will turn away from my phone after this.” A good 30-minutes fly before you turn away from your phone. Next minute, your phone tells you that your screen time has gone up by 40%. Now is a good time to get off the grid, and instead tune into God.

Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed (Luke 5:16). While this doesn’t mean we have to move to remote places to pray, why not lock your phone away in a drawer for an hour, while you pray or read your Bible? He can be found when we seek Him with all our hearts (Jeremiah 29:13), so let us update our spiritual life by spending time with Him. The fulfilment we get from spending time with God will last longer than any social media status update.

 

Laying on your couch as you binge the latest Netflix obsession can be tempting. But why not trade your home slippers with your sneakers, grab a friend or two, and go for a refreshing wander to a nearby park? If you are hitting the great outdoors, take the time to admire the lush surrounds. Use the time to praise God for the wonder and the beauty of his creations. 

Scripture says let everything that has breath praise God (Psalm 150:6), and it is through God that all things were made (John 1:3). As you gaze at the skies, remember that the heavens declare the glory of God, and the skies proclaim the work of His hands (Psalm 19:1)

 

Ah, who does not love a good chatter? Sometimes when we’re feeling overwhelmed, one of the best things we can do is to talk through our emotions instead of bottling them up inside. Talking about our situation with a trusted friend allows us to see a situation clearer, or gives us a new perspective on things. 

We are not made to shoulder our burdens alone. Scripture says two are better than one because if either one of them falls down, one can help the other (Ecclesiastes 4:9-12). We are to carry each other’s burdens (Galatians 6:2), so let us take every opportunity to spur each other on toward love and good deeds (Hebrews 10:24) 

 

The joys of throwing out our old pre-loved items can be a freeing experience. Decluttering your wardrobe or house to make way for new things can be super exciting. Similarly, now that we are in Christ, we should put off our old selves, so that we can put on “the clothes of righteousness and holiness” (Ephesians 4:20-24). God’s grace allows us fresh starts in our lives. There is no time like today to start afresh!

 

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A Path Carved By God

Title: A Path Carved By God
Artwork by: Patsy Shaw (@shawmuchart)
Description: 
We often find ourselves looking for peace and security in the wrong areas. We believe that if we could just get the right job, earn the right income, or find the right spouse, then all will go well with our lives.  We are drawn to these desires because we think they will satisfy us, but it is only when we yield our desires to God, and allow Him to etch out His path for our lives, that we can truly enjoy a life of lasting satisfaction. 

I chose to express my journey through linoleum block printing because it’s the perfect medium to convey what a life of following Jesus looks like. Once I carve out the linoleum block, the piece takes on a new form and is forever transformed. In the same way, once God calls us to Himself, His gospel changes not just one small aspect of our lives, but every area of our lives. We might not know exactly what the final image looks like, but He knows what image He has in mind, and with every carve that He makes in our lives, we can trust that it will lead to something beautiful that displays His glory.

 

We make decisions on a daily basissome bigger than others. When my time at Penn State University drew to an end, I found myself at a forked road. I had a one-way ticket to the Philippines, where I grew up. There, a luxurious life of medical school, weekend shopping sprees, unlimited TV shows, and every material comfort my heart wanted awaited me. Or I could stay in the US without knowing what my next step would be.

Even though it seemed logical for me to head home, in my heart, I sensed God had something very different for me.

 

All my life, I thought I wanted to become a doctor just like my parents, but deep down I knew there were other reasons behind my ambition: I wanted to prove to other people that I could do it, and I wanted to earn as much as I could so I could accumulate even more luxuries.

However, all this changed when I was in college. It was here that I experienced what it was like to be part of a church community that loved God and people well, and I was drawn to them. They taught me all about God’s grace—God’s unmerited love for us even though we have done nothing to deserve it, and were instrumental in teaching me and building my faith. Now that I had discovered a community that is so rich in love and grace, my old life at the other end of the Pacific began to pale in comparison.

 

As I considered the options before me, I was faced with a lot of uncertainty. While I had a set path carved out for me back home, I had no idea where I would work or live if I remained where I was. I was afraid of these uncertainties, but I was even more afraid of losing God and the richness I had found within the church community here. 

Dealing with these uncertainties meant that I had to depend on God every step of the way. And He proved Himself faithful by providing me with a job in Philadelphia, a church, and great roommates. I may live in a small house, and my heart aches for my family occasionally, but I can say that God has made my life far richer than I could have ever imagined.

 

I was searching for peace and security in my old life. But along the way, I found a treasure that far outweighs my earthly desiresthe joy of belonging to His Kingdom. Matthew 13:44 says, “The Kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and covered up. Then in his joy, he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field”. Like the man who has found the hidden treasure, I “sold” my old life so I could buy the fieldcontinuing to live life with my church community.