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5 People You Need to Be Friends With

Church is dismissed and the rustling starts. Do you quietly sneak out the back doors of the sanctuary? Or do you stick around, finding ways to soak up the richness of the diversity of the body of Christ?

“For we were all baptized by one Spirit so as to form one body,” Paul reminds us (1 Corinthians 12:13a). As members of the body of Christ, we need one another (1 Corinthians 12:21-26).

Even so, we don’t always remember to interact with those different from us. Maybe it is time to reach out and see what wonders God will work in their lives and ours.

 

1. Get to know people in need

“Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.” (James 1:27)

Part of our calling as Christians is to care for those in need—be it financial, physical, emotional, or spiritual. We can start by looking over the church prayer list, or remembering to ask, “how can I pray for you?” in conversations. Perhaps we can be a prayer partner for someone who is struggling at their new job, or offer to accompany someone to their medical appointments.

More important than a one-time offer of help, is the willingness to walk faithfully with our brother or sister in Christ, journeying together through what ups and downs may come our way.

 

 

2. Invest in the little ones

Jesus told his arguing disciples, “Whoever welcomes this little child in my name welcomes me” (Luke 9:48).

Do we welcome the children who come to our church? Do we even know their names? Or do we consider them noisy nuisances that need to be shuffled off to Sunday school so they don’t get in the way?

Maybe we could learn the names of two or three children at church, look out for them to say “hi” on Sundays, and ask how their week went.

As we build these relationships and get to know their families, we may even offer to take the children on a Saturday outing. And perhaps one day, we may be privileged to hear them share how God has worked in their hearts.

 

 

3. Relate to the elderly

“Gray hair is a crown of splendor; it is attained in the way of righteousness.” (Proverbs 16:31)

It is often easier to surround ourselves with peers than to reach across age divides and befriend someone our parents’ or grandparents’ age. Try asking questions about their faith journey, or even what things were like when they were young.

For us, their rich experiences can offer us a surprising perspective. For older people, it can be meaningful to have a younger friend, especially if they don’t have family close by.

 

 

4. Connect with the family-less

“God sets the lonely in families” (Psalm 68:6), and one of the ways He does so is through the church.

For those of us in a family—whether we live with parents, are married, or are raising children of our own—let’s invite others into our home.

Is anyone here on their own for work? Are there any students far from home? Do we have any single friends, young or old? Let’s invite them over for a family dinner. Get together for holidays. Ask them to join family outings.

While there can be wonderful freedom and flexibility for those living on their own, it’s important to be remembered and invited to the family table. It’s a simple way to ensure that everyone in the body is cared for.

 

 

5. Plug into growing families

“From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.” (Ephesians 4:16)

Whether you’re single, an empty nester, or married without children, it would be worthwhile getting to know a growing family. To parents, you might be able to offer a sympathetic ear and supporting prayers on those days when they’re going through challenges. To children, your strengths and passions can inspire and encourage them in unique ways.

In addition to getting involved with family ministries, we can start striking up conversations with families after church, or sitting by them during fellowship gatherings and potlucks.

 

God brought together diverse brothers and sisters to be a part of His church. We’re missing out if we only hang out with people like us. Let’s step out and begin building relationships with more of our brothers and sisters. We will find that they can enrich our lives in ways we never expected!

7 Practical Ways to Be a Light in Your Workplace

We spend most of our day at work. If we’re going to be good witnesses for Christ, “being a light in our workplace” would be a natural place to start, wouldn’t it?

But sometimes that sounds a lot more feasible on a Sunday after an encouraging sermon, than it does after several days in an exhausting or abrasively unchristian work environment.

So how can we go on displaying good works that would make our coworkers want to turn and glorify God (Matthew 5:16)? While daunting, it’s not impossible. Let’s take a look at seven practical ways we can bring the light of Christ to our workplace!

 

1. Affirm – Tell others that what they do matters

It’s easy to recognize laziness or incompetence in other people that causes more work for us. But how often do we go out of our way to recognize the positive impact of another person’s work?

Did your boss provide you with helpful feedback on a project? Have you noticed any strengths in the trainee you’ve been working with? Do you have a certain coworker you can rely on for clear, organized work?

Let’s learn to pick up on small details that we can recognize and affirm in others in order to encourage and lift them up!

 

2. Admit – Own up when you’ve made a mistake

Especially in our workplace, it can be tempting to cover up our mistakes. But instead of working to advance our own careers, let’s humbly own our mistakes, and work hard to reduce any potential negative impact of them.

By doing this, we have the opportunity to promote Christlike humility (and not ourselves).

 

3. Apologize – Use your shortcomings to point others to Christ

We’ve all had that day when work makes us feel like pulling our hair out. In these moments of feeling overwhelmed by the demands of work or frustration at other’s actions, we’re prone to lose our patience or speak carelessly.

Whether our coworkers thought it significant or not, we can apologize for our short tempers, ask forgiveness where necessary, and most importantly, clarify the kind, gentle and patient character we are called to display.

 

4. Appreciate – Talk about things you are thankful for

Complaining is one of the easiest conversation starters. But we can vocalize our thankfulness instead!

Maybe we have one good friend at work, or an opportunity to get involved in a new project. We can be thankful for the work skills we’re developing that will be useful later in life!

In practice, thankfulness will contribute to a more positive work environment, and it’ll also help us train our minds to count as well as thank God for the blessings we have.

 

5. Assist – Offer your personal time to help a coworker

When five o’clock rolls around, many of us couldn’t be more thrilled to both mentally and physically check out of work.

But it can be really impactful to consider using some of that precious non-work time to serve the people we work with every day. Whether it’s offering to help a coworker move into a new home, or bringing a meal to someone recovering from surgery, let’s show God’s love to our coworkers by serving them with our time whenever we can!

 

6. Accompany – Find creative ways to build relationships

There are plenty of work-friendly and appropriate ways to be more social with our coworkers. Invite them to a sports game, or organize a work-friendly baby shower for a soon-to-be parent! Perhaps a new restaurant nearby could inspire lunch with coworkers.

Making time to socialize with our coworkers creates space to build more than surface deep relationships, which is the best springboard for us to share the gospel with them.

 

7. Advocate – Take prayer for your coworkers seriously

It’s easy to forget that our coworkers have their own personal lives and struggles. We can look around even a small office, and know that plenty are struggling with some combination of infidelity, addiction, family conflict, or depression. It’s often not visible.

So, let’s take prayer for our coworkers seriously. As we pray for God to help them, we can remember that the greatest help they can know is God Himself. In the same spirit that Jesus prayed for those who persecuted Him, let’s look at those around us, and pray diligently that they may come to know God (Luke 23:34).

 

If we think about it, our coworkers are some of the people we have the most opportunity to share the gospel with, or display Christ-like character to. So let’s enter our workplaces with a renewed sense of intentionality to share Jesus’ light in all that we do!

5 Ways to Refuel When You’re Drained

Do you ever feel drained? Overwhelmed by life, but with no energy to deal with any of it? Do you have days when even brushing your teeth before bed feels like a challenge?

You’re not alone. We all have these moments. Even God’s prophets had low points! Elijah, one of the prophets in the Old Testament, came to such a low point that he even asked God to take his life (1 Kings 19:4).

So how do we keep going when we’re running on empty? Check out these tips to help you push through those moments!

 

1. Stop: Acknowledge that You’re Burned Out

The first thing Elijah did was acknowledge he was burned out. In fact, he was so fed up with everything that he told God he wanted to die. “He came to a broom bush, sat down under it and prayed that he might die. ‘I have had enough, Lord,’ he said. ‘Take my life; I am no better than my ancestors’” (1 Kings 19:4).

We are human. There is only so much we can do. Feelings of tiredness and weariness are a part of our existence in this  broken world. Ignoring this does not do us any good. Let’s take a tip from Elijah’s complete honesty, and acknowledge that sometimes, we just can’t do it all. Only when we recognize we have a problem, can we begin to deal with it.

 

2. Sleep: Get Enough Rest

After telling God how he felt, Elijah promptly “lay down under the bush and fell asleep” (1 Kings 19:5).

While we might be able to stay up late one or two nights to get things finished, at some point, we need to prioritize sleep for our minds and bodies.

When God created the universe, He set in motion a rhythm of work and rest (Genesis 1:5, 2:2). We are created to work, and we are created to rest. There is no guilt in getting the sleep that we need—the sleep that God created us to need. And let’s be honest, the work that we do when we’re well-rested is usually of a better quality than otherwise!

3. Eat: Nourish Your Body

In the middle of Elijah’s nap, “an angel touched him and said, ‘Get up and eat’” (1 Kings 19:5).

Eating and drinking is no small matter. In fact, it is of such importance that God sent a heavenly messenger to remind Elijah and even prepared bread and water for him (1 Kings 19:6)!

God created us as physical beings, and that is a good and beautiful thing (Genesis 1:31). As physical beings, we need physical nourishment. So maybe now is a good time to treat ourselves to a nice big breakfast, a lovely afternoon tea, or a pleasant picnic. Getting the nourishment we need can go a long way in re-energizing us.

 

4. Seek: Draw Strength from God

After his meal, Elijah took another nap and ate another meal. And then, he “traveled forty days and forty nights until he reached Horeb, the mountain of God” (1 Kings 19:8).

In addition to seeing to our physical needs, we must also check our spiritual needs. After all, who can give us direction when we are lost (Matthew 7:7)? Make us strong when we are weak (Isaiah 40:29)? Give us grace that is sufficient in any circumstance (2 Corinthians 12:9)?

When we are tired, worn out, and drained, let us carve out a quiet place and come before God. Let us tell Him our troubles, knowing that He listens and cares. Let us ask Him for strength, because though it might be too much for us to handle, it is never too much for God.

 

5. Walk: Find Companions for Your Journey

One reason Elijah felt so discouraged was because he felt like he was the only one still following God (1 Kings 19:14). But God comforted him, and revealed that there were still 7,000 in Israel who had not bowed to false gods.

Like Elijah, we are not alone. God has placed us among brothers and sisters. We can reach out and ask others to partner with us to do the things we feel too tired to. At the very least, we can tell our brothers and sisters in Christ, “I’m tired. Can you walk with me for a bit?”

As we reach out to friends and talk things through, we realize that we’re not in this alone. Others have had similar experiences, and they’re willing to walk with us. They get it.

 

When we feel drained, it can be hard to set aside time for proper sleep, good meals, and meeting with God and with friends. But how encouraging it is to read from the story of Elijah that even the prophets need to meet these basic, fundamental needs of life! Let us take that first step, and set aside time to recharge. May these refresh and refuel us  for tomorrow.

5 Ways to Refocus Your Thought Life

Do you find it hard to take control of your thought life? Are you often besieged with negative thoughts, or find yourself constantly battling fears?

Paul wrote to the Philippians church, saying, “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things” (Philippians 4:8-9). Sounds great, doesn’t it? But where do we even start?

Here are five quick pointers that can help us refocus our thought lives:


 

1. Purge the Bad Stuff

First things first. Is there anything we need to purge? Are there any TV shows, movies, songs, or novels that are drawing us into sinful thinking? While there is nothing inherently wrong with enjoying these things, let’s heed Paul’s warning, “‘I have the right to do anything,’ you say—but not everything is beneficial” (1 Corinthians 10:23).

We are easily tempted into envy, lust, comparison or even addiction. Is there something in your life right now that takes advantage of that weakness? If so, take a break from it. Not watching the next episode or missing the season finale of a TV show will not kill you. Instead, we can give that time to God and ask Him to work in our hearts.


 

2. Fill Up on What Is Beautiful

Once we’ve purged the bad stuff, it’s time to find something else to fill our time and our thoughts. We can look for things which are beautiful, which speak to our emotions and imaginations in meaningful ways. The very act of wonder and inspiration is a gift from God. He is the first creator of beauty (Ecclesiastes 3:11).

Because of that, we can find things that portray what is true, noble, right, pure all around us. Let’s look for stories, songs, and art that inspire us and point our hearts to God!


 

3. Fill Up on What Is True

Just as our imaginations and emotions need to be filled with good art, our intellect needs to engage with knowledge and truth. We can do this by learning more about the world around us, as well as the One who created it all.

Have you ever wondered how heavy a cloud might be? Did you know that the moon completes a full rotation on its axis at exactly the same speed that it completes a rotation around the earth? That means we only ever see the same side of the moon from earth. Did you ever realize that peanut flowers blossom above ground, but the nuts grow in the dirt? There are so many tiny, unthinkable details God has put into place!

This world reveals God’s splendid handiwork (Psalm 19), and exercising our intellect and learning more about our world can lead us to a deepening awe of the Creator.


 

4. Fill Up on What Is Good

More important than feeding our imaginations and our intellect, we need to focus on our spiritual needs. In refocusing our thought life, what can be more important than turning our focus back to our relationship with God?

The best place to start is by simply reading the Bible, and seeking to understand it. That will really help us focus on who God is. Can you write out a list of His attributes? God is loving (1 John 4:8), always present (Hebrews 13:5-6), knows all things (Psalm 139:2), always in control (Matthew 10:29-31) . . . What else can you think of?

Now take a good look at that list, and ask yourself, how has God’s nature been apparent in your life recently? How has He shown His presence in your circumstances? In what ways has He reminded you of His love? Once we really start looking, we will be sure to find God’s fingerprints all over our lives.

Selectively digging into books and articles written by well-respected Christians may also challenge us to a deeper understanding of foundational truths.


 

5. Fill up on good conversations

Finally, one great way to refocus our thought life is to get in some great conversations with brothers and sisters in Christ. To jumpstart conversations, try asking questions such as, “What has God been doing in your life lately?” or, “What have you been learning in your Bible reading recently?” It’s exciting seeing how other people are connecting with God, and often, this inspires us in our own relationship with God as well.

Surely, hearing about God has been at work in the life of our friends is more interesting than debating over the fate of fictional characters or indulging in idle talk? So, even in the small details of our days, let’s make a point to dwell on things which are excellent!