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Posts tagged ‘Encouraging Friends’

Encouraging and Supporting Your Friends

FriendsToday’s Bible study looks at only four brief verses from Proverbs. But like all of the adages found throughout this wisdom-filled book, these tersely crafted verses are jam-packed with powerful, practical, and timeless insights.

And in keeping with this week’s theme, the insights go straight to the heart and soul of what it means to be someone who seeks to bring out the best in his friends. So, dig into these four short verses and then put them to work in your friendships.

Interact with God’s Word:  Proverbs 27:5-6, 9, 17

  1. When have you been grateful for a friend’s “open rebuke” (v. 5)? Why was this rebuke helpful to you?
  2. How does a wound from a “sincere friend” (v. 6) differ from a wound from an insincere friend?
  3. Why are wounds from a “sincere friend” better than “kisses from an enemy”?
  4. When was a time “heartfelt counsel” (v. 9) kept you from making a mistake or gave you the courage to do what was right?
  5. Who is a friend you could “sharpen” (v. 17) through an encouraging word, a piece of timely advice, or a loving rebuke?
  6. Take time to memorize one or two of the verses from this week’s study.

Spend Time in Prayer:  Thank God for friends who offer you encouragement and who seek to bring out the best in you; ask God to guide you and give you wisdom as you seek to encourage and challenge your own friends to greater godliness.

Proverbs 27:5-6, 9, 17

5 An open rebuke
is better than hidden love!

6 Wounds from a sincere friend
are better than many kisses from an enemy.

9 The heartfelt counsel of a friend
is as sweet as perfume and incense.

17 As iron sharpens iron,
so a friend sharpens a friend.

Prayer for the Week: Dear Father, show me how to best encourage and challenge my friends to deeper faith; show me how to support them during their struggles.

 

 

Encouraging and Supporting Your Friends – We Need Each Other

FriendsKey Bible Verse: I close my letter with these last words: Be joyful. Grow to maturity. Encourage each other. Live in harmony and peace. Then the God of love and peace will be with you. 2 Corinthians 13:11

Bonus Reading: Romans 15:4-6

Mark (not his real name) took the courageous step of joining a church group that encourages men who want to grow out of destructive patterns. I had been urging him to take advantage of this group.

When he did so, I told him how my respect for him had risen. But as I looked with the eyes of God, I saw a shadow in his face, a touch of discouragement, even a hint of fear. He needed some encouragement.

“But you know,” I added, “when you read the classics, they stress how once a believer begins taking God more seriously, Satan is likely to unleash his most fierce temptations against that person.”

The relief that flooded Mark’s face was immediate. “Thank you for sharing that,” he said. “It helps me understand what’s been going on.”

Just hours before I talked to Mark, two of my friends had spoken to me, ministering God’s presence and wisdom. If they hadn’t lifted me up, I don’t know if I would have been available to encourage Mark. True transformation is a community effort. We need each other.

—Gary Thomas in The Beautiful Fight

My Response: Who is a friend I need to thank for being there to encourage me?

Adapted from The Beautiful Fight (Zondervan, 2007) .

Thought to Apply: A true friend never gets in your way unless you happen to be going down.—Arnold Glasgow (writer, humorist)

Prayer for the Week: Dear Father, show me how to best encourage and challenge my friends to deeper faith; show me how to support them during their struggles.

 

 

Encouraging and Supporting Your Friends – Get Real, Go Deep

FriendsKey Bible Verse: Gently encourage the stragglers, and reach out for the exhausted, pulling them to their feet. Be patient with each person, attentive to individual needs.  – 1 Thessalonians 5:14, The message

Bonus Reading: 1 Thessalonians 3:2-3

If you were to share with a trusted friend that you struggle with watching television shows you know you shouldn’t, your friend could react in a number of ways. The reaction you receive will most likely reveal the depth of your friend’s commitment to you.

Your friend could say to you, “Well, just turn off the TV and pray about it.” In this case, your friend probably can’t really relate to your problem, but he thinks telling you this will help. He might be truly concerned, however, even though he doesn’t really understand. Or he may simply practice doling out spiritual-sounding advice.

On the other hand, imagine the difference if that friend makes a committed effort to help you. Think how you’ll feel if your friend says, “Let’s talk about your problem some more. Why do you think you’re having this struggle? Let’s pray about this together.”

The two of you spend some time talking over the struggle you’re experiencing—and then you spend some more time beside each other in prayer. Your friend is committed to helping you—as long as it takes—until you get through this problem. Now that’s a committed friendship.

—David Wardell and Jeff Leever in Daily Disciples

My Response: How can I best demonstrate empathy toward a struggling friend?

Thought to Apply: We are born helpless. … We need others physically, emotionally, intellectually; we need them if we are to know anything, even ourselves.—C. S. Lewis(British scholar, Christian writer)

Adapted from Daily Disciples (Promise, 2001)

Prayer for the Week: Dear Father, show me how to best encourage and challenge my friends to deeper faith; show me how to support them during their struggles.

 

 

Encouraging and Supporting Your Friends – Was It Worth It?

FriendsKey Bible Verse: When we get together, I want to encourage you in your faith, but I also want to be encouraged by yours.   – Romans 1:12

Bonus Reading: Philemon 7

To encourage the guys in a Bible study I recently led, I telephoned each of them every week, asking how things were going and how I could pray for them. One of the men was reticent on the phone, often answering my general questions with one or two words. Our typical conversation lasted for only a minute or two.

Was he uncomfortable talking with me? I wondered after each call. Was I annoying him with my repeated phone calls? Did he not even like me? Perhaps I should just stop calling him.

Before making any decisions, though, I needed some expert advice. I talked to my wife.

“I wouldn’t give up,” she said. “Those calls probably mean more to him than you think.”

I took my wife’s advice and called that man again. As usual, he shared little and offered no prayer requests. As I began to wrap up another uncomfortable conversation, he said something that stunned me.

“Jon,” he said, “I just want you to know that I really appreciate your calls. It’s encouraging to hear a friendly voice every week.”

With tears forming in my eyes, I thanked him for his kind words. I hung up the phone and looked forward to calling him the following week.

—Jonathan Wakefield

My Response: How do I react when guys don’t seem to respond positively to my attempts to reach out and encourage them?

Thought to Apply:Q: How can you tell if a person needs encouragement? A: If they are breathing.”—Truett Cathy (founder of Chick-fil-A)

Prayer for the Week: Dear Father, show me how to best encourage and challenge my friends to deeper faith; show me how to support them during their struggles.

 

 

Encouraging and Supporting Your Friends – Training Partners

FriendsKey Bible Verse: If one person falls, the other can reach out and help. But someone who falls alone is in real trouble.  – Ecclesiastes 4:10

Bonus Reading: Proverbs 27:6, 9, 17

For a runner, there is nothing as wearing or as boring as a solo workout. The workout seems endless. For this reason, I always appreciated having training partners. When I ran with them, I was stretched, pulled, and extended beyond what I thought I could do. That’s the benefit of having quality training partners. They push and press us to better performances.

To me friendships are life’s training partners; they push and press us through everyday life. Henry Van Dyke once wrote that the mark of a friend is that he makes you wish to be at your best while you are with him. Good friends, like good personal training partners, pull us forward. They make us better. They stretch us.

Good friends challenge us when they see blind spots in our lives. Poor friends have the exact opposite effect—they drag us down. That’s why I believe friends are such a critical component to a successful life and are to be chosen wisely. It does matter who we hang out with.

Proverbs 13:20 reads: “He who walks with wise men will be wise. But the companion of fools will be destroyed” (NKJV). Let us be wise people in the company that we keep and the friends that we make.

—Jim Ryun in The Courage to Run

My Response: How am I encouraging and challenging my friends? How are my friends encouraging and challenging me?

Adapted from The Courage to Run (Regal, 2006)

Prayer for the Week: Dear Father, show me how to best encourage and challenge my friends to deeper faith; show me how to support them during their struggles.

 

 

 

Encouraging and Supporting Your Friends – Push Each Other to the Top

FriendsWho Said It … Max Lucado

Max Lucado grew up in west Texas and pretty much partied his way through high school—giving little attention to God. But then he encountered Jesus through a required Bible course at Abilene Christian University.

Today, this best-selling Christian author has sold more than 65 million books—including Bible studies, commentaries, devotionals, and books for kids. Max regularly preaches his down-home, story-driven sermons from the pulpit of San Antonio’s Oak Hills Church.

What He Said … Push Each Other to the Top

Every Thursday during a Young Life summer camp, four hundred students make the fourteen-thousand-foot climb up Colorado’s Mount Chrysolite. Several Young Life leaders and I walk with them.

On a recent trip, somewhere around the number four thousand, Matthew decided to call it quits. I coaxed him, begged him, negotiated a plan with him: thirty steps of walking, sixty seconds of resting. Finally we stood within a thousand feet of the peek. But the last stretch of the trail rose up as straight as a fireman’s ladder.

We got serious. Two guys came up beside Matt, each taking an arm. I pushed from the rear. We all but dragged Matt past the timberline and to the awesome view at the top.

That’s when we heard the applause. Four hundred campers on the crest of Mount Chrysolite gave Matt a standing ovation. As I slumped down to rest, a thought steamrolled my way: There it is, Max, a perfect picture of my plan. Do all you can to push each other to the top. Was this a message from God? Well, it does sound like something he’d say.

Adapted from The Cure for the Common Life (Thomas Nelson, 2006)

Prayer for the Week: Dear Father, show me how to best encourage and challenge my friends to deeper faith; show me how to support them during their struggles.

 

 

Encouraging and Supporting Your Friends – Supportive Friends

Supportive Friends 3Today’s Bible passage looks at only four brief verses from Proverbs.  But like all of the adages found throughout this wisdom-filled book, these tersely crafted verses are jam-packed with powerful, practical, and timeless insights.

And in keeping with this week’s theme, the insights go straight to the heart and soul of what it means to be someone who seeks to bring out the best in his friends.

So, dig into these four short verses and then put them to work in your friendships.

Interact with God’s Word:

Proverbs 27: 5-6, 9, 17

1.      When have you been grateful for a friend’s “open rebuke” (v. 5)?  Why was this rebuke helpful to you?

2.      How does a wound from a “sincere friend” (v. 6) differ from a wound from an insincere friend?

3.      Why are wounds from a “sincere friend” better than “kisses from an enemy”?

4.      When was a time “heartfelt counsel” (v. 9) kept you from making a mistake or gave you the courage to do what was right?

5.      Who is a friend you could “sharpen” (v. 17) through an encouraging word, a piece of timely advice, or a loving rebuke?

6.      Take time to memorize one or two of the verses from this week’s study.

 

Spend Time in Prayer:

Thank God for friends who offer you encouragement and who seek to bring out the best in you; ask God to guide you and give you wisdom as you seek to encourage and challenge your own friends to greater godliness.

 

Proverbs 27: 5-6, 9, 17:

5 An open rebuke
is better than hidden love!

6 Wounds from a sincere friend
are better than many kisses from an enemy.

9 The heartfelt counsel of a friend
is as sweet as perfume and incense.

17 As iron sharpens iron,
so a friend sharpens a friend.

 

 

 

Encouraging and Supporting Your Friends – We Need Each Other

Supportive Friends 2Key Bible Verse: I close my letter with these last words: Be joyful. Grow to maturity. Encourage each other. Live in harmony and peace. Then the God of love and peace will be with you.   2 Corinthians 13:11

Bonus Reading:  Romans 15: 4-6

Mark (not his real name) took the courageous step of joining a church group that encourages men who want to grow out of destructive patterns.

I had been urging him to take advantage of this group. When he did so, I told him how my respect for him had risen. But as I looked with the eyes of God, I saw a shadow in his face, a touch of discouragement, even a hint of fear. He needed some encouragement.

“But you know,” I added, “when you read the classics, they stress how once a believer begins taking God more seriously, Satan is likely to unleash his most fierce temptations against that person.”

The relief that flooded Mark’s face was immediate. “Thank you for sharing that,” he said. “It helps me understand what’s been going on.”

Just hours before I talked to Mark, two of my friends had spoken to me, ministering God’s presence and wisdom.  If they hadn’t lifted me up, I don’t know if I would have been available to encourage Mark.  True transformation is a community effort.  We need each other.

Gary Thomas in The Beautiful Fight

 

My Response: Who is a friend I need to thank for being there to encourage me?

Adapted from The Beautiful Fight (Zondervan, 2007

Thought to Apply: A true friend never gets in your way unless you happen to be going down. —Arnold Glasgow (writer, humorist)

 

 

Prayer for the Week:  Dear Father, show me how to best encourage and challenge my friends to deeper faith; show me how to support them during their struggles.

 

 

 

Encouraging and Supporting Your Friends – Get Real, Go Deep

Supportive FriendsKey Bible Verse: Gently encourage the stragglers, and reach out for the exhausted, pulling them to their feet.  Be patient with each person, attentive to individual needs.  – 1 Thessalonians 5:14, The Message

Bonus Reading:  1 Thessalonians 3:2-3

If you were to share with a trusted friend that you struggle with watching television shows you know you shouldn’t, your friend could react in a number of ways.  The reaction you receive will most likely reveal the depth of your friend’s commitment to you.

Your friend could say to you, “Well, just turn off the TV and pray about it.”  In this case, your friend probably can’t really relate to your problem, but he thinks telling you this will help.  He might be truly concerned, however, even though he doesn’t really understand.  Or he may simply practice doling out spiritual-sounding advice.

On the other hand, imagine the difference if that friend makes a committed effort to help you.  Think how you’ll feel if your friend says, “Let’s talk about your problem some more.  Why do you think you’re having this struggle?  Let’s pray about this together.”  The two of you spend some time talking over the struggle you’re experiencing—and then you spend some more time beside each other in prayer.  Your friend is committed to helping you—as long as it takes—until you get through this problem.  Now that’s a committed friendship.

David Wardell and Jeff Leever in Daily Disciples

 

My Response: How can I best demonstrate empathy toward a struggling friend?

 

Thought to Apply: We are born helpless. … We need others physically, emotionally, intellectually; we need them if we are to know anything, even ourselves.—C. S. Lewis(British scholar, Christian writer)

Adapted from Daily Disciples (Promise, 2001)

 

 

Prayer for the Week:  Dear Father, show me how to best encourage and challenge my friends to deeper faith; show me how to support them during their struggles.

 

 

Encouraging and Supporting Your Friends – Was It Worth It?

EncouraementKey Bible Verse:  When we get together, I want to encourage you in your faith, but I also want to be encouraged by yours.  Romans 1:12

Bonus Reading:  Philemon 1:7

To encourage the guys in a Bible study I recently led, I telephoned each of them every week, asking how things were going and how I could pray for them.

One of the men was reticent on the phone, often answering my general questions with one or two words.  Our typical conversation lasted for only a minute or two.

Was he uncomfortable talking with me?  I wondered after each call.  Was I annoying him with my repeated phone calls?  Did he not even like me?  Perhaps I should just stop calling him.

Before making any decisions, though, I needed some expert advice.  I talked to my wife.

“I wouldn’t give up,” she said.  “Those calls probably mean more to him than you think.”

I took my wife’s advice and called that man again.  As usual, he shared little and offered no prayer requests.  As I began to wrap up another uncomfortable conversation, he said something that stunned me.

“Jon,” he said, “I just want you to know that I really appreciate your calls.  It’s encouraging to hear a friendly voice every week.”

With tears forming in my eyes, I thanked him for his kind words.  I hung up the phone and looked forward to calling him the following week.

—Jonathan Wakefield

 

My Response: How do I react when guys don’t seem to respond positively to my attempts to reach out and encourage them?

 

Thought to Apply:Q: How can you tell if a person needs encouragement? A: If they are breathing.” —Truett Cathy (founder of Chick-fil-A)

 

 

Prayer for the Week:  Dear Father, show me how to best encourage and challenge my friends to deeper faith; show me how to support them during their struggles.

 

 

 

Encouraging and Supporting Your Friends – A Team of Huggers

Hugging SportsmenKey Bible Verse:  Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works.   Hebrews 10:24

Bonus Reading:  Acts 4:36, 11:22-24

Coach Peacock’s team had just won a state championship.  They were celebrating in the locker room, and Coach was hugging his players right and left.

As the congratulations continued, the coach noticed one player in particular sitting alone on a bench, watching him.  Coach Peacock knew that the young man’s parents were divorced and also that his dad was an alcoholic who never attended any of his son’s games.  So he walked over to the player and asked if he was okay.  The young man responded, “Yes, Coach, but I was just wondering … could I have another hug?”

The experience was a milestone in Coach’s life, leading him on a campaign to become a “team of huggers.”  Starting with the coaching staff, Coach Peacock wouldn’t settle for a wimpy hug.  It had to be a “bear hug.”  Soon, the coaches began sharing hugs with their players.

Most of us would agree that hugs encourage us and remind us that someone cares about us.  Of course, there are many ways to encourage others.  Hebrews 10:24 says that we are to consider how to stimulate and encourage one another to good deeds.

Let’s consider all the ways that we might encourage our fellow coaches, teachers, players, family members, and neighbors.

—Bill Burnett in Heart of a Coach

 

My Response: How do I feel about hugging my guy friends? Why do I feel this way?

 

Thought to Apply: There are high spots in all of our lives and most of them have come about through encouragement from someone else.—George M. Adams (writer)

Adapted from Heart of a Coach (Regal, 2005)

 

 

Prayer for the Week:  Dear Father, show me how to best encourage and challenge my friends to deeper faith; show me how to support them during their struggles.

 

 

 

Encouraging and Supporting Your Friends – Training Partners

Training PartnersKey Bible Verse:  If one person falls, the other can reach out and help.  But someone who falls alone is in real trouble.  Ecclesiastes 4:10

Bonus Reading:  Proverbs 27: 6, 9, 17

For a runner, there is nothing as wearing or as boring as a solo workout.  The workout seems endless.

For this reason, I always appreciated having training partners.  When I ran with them, I was stretched, pulled, and extended beyond what I thought I could do.  That’s the benefit of having quality training partners.  They push and press us to better performances.

To me friendships are life’s training partners; they push and press us through everyday life.  Henry Van Dyke once wrote that the mark of a friend is that he makes you wish to be at your best while you are with him.

Good friends, like good personal training partners, pull us forward.  They make us better.  They stretch us.  Good friends challenge us when they see blind spots in our lives.

Poor friends have the exact opposite effect—they drag us down.

That’s why I believe friends are such a critical component to a successful life and are to be chosen wisely.  It does matter who we hang out with.

Proverbs 13:20 reads: “He who walks with wise men will be wise.  But the companion of fools will be destroyed” (NKJV).  Let us be wise people in the company that we keep and the friends that we make.

—Jim Ryun in The Courage to Run

 

My Response: How am I encouraging and challenging my friends?  How are my friends encouraging and challenging me?

Adapted from The Courage to Run (Regal, 2006)

 

 

Prayer for the Week:  Dear Father, show me how to best encourage and challenge my friends to deeper faith; show me how to support them during their struggles.

 

 

 

Encouraging and Supporting Your Friends – Push Each Other to the Top

Mountain ClimbersWho Said It … Max Lucado

Max Lucado grew up in west Texas and pretty much partied his way through high school—giving little attention to God.  But then he encountered Jesus through a required Bible course at Abilene Christian University.

Today, this best-selling Christian author has sold more than 65 million books—including Bible studies, commentaries, devotionals, and books for kids.

Max regularly preaches his down-home, story-driven sermons from the pulpit of San Antonio’s Oak Hills Church.

What He Said … Push Each Other to the Top

Every Thursday during a Young Life summer camp, four hundred students make the fourteen-thousand-foot climb up Colorado’s Mount Chrysolite.  Several Young Life leaders and I walk with them.

On a recent trip, somewhere around the number four thousand, Matthew decided to call it quits.  I coaxed him, begged him, negotiated a plan with him: thirty steps of walking, sixty seconds of resting.

Finally we stood within a thousand feet of the peek.  But the last stretch of the trail rose up as straight as a fireman’s ladder.

We got serious.  Two guys came up beside Matt, each taking an arm.  I pushed from the rear.  We all but dragged Matt past the timberline and to the awesome view at the top.

That’s when we heard the applause.  Four hundred campers on the crest of Mount Chrysolite gave Matt a standing ovation.  As I slumped down to rest, a thought steamrolled my way: There it is, Max, a perfect picture of my plan.  Do all you can to push each other to the top.  Was this a message from God?  Well, it does sound like something he’d say.

Adapted from The Cure for the Common Life (Thomas Nelson, 2006

 

Prayer for the Week:  Dear Father, show me how to best encourage and challenge my friends to deeper faith; show me how to support them during their struggles.

 

 

Encouraging and Supporting Your Friends

FriendsToday’s Bible study looks at only four brief verses from Proverbs. But like all of the adages found throughout this wisdom-filled book, these tersely crafted verses are jam-packed with powerful, practical, and timeless insights.

And in keeping with this week’s theme, the insights go straight to the heart and soul of what it means to be someone who seeks to bring out the best in his friends. So, dig into these four short verses and then put them to work in your friendships.

Interact with God’s Word:  Proverbs 27:5-6, 9, 17

  1. When have you been grateful for a friend’s “open rebuke” (v. 5)? Why was this rebuke helpful to you?
  2. How does a wound from a “sincere friend” (v. 6) differ from a wound from an insincere friend?
  3. Why are wounds from a “sincere friend” better than “kisses from an enemy”?
  4. When was a time “heartfelt counsel” (v. 9) kept you from making a mistake or gave you the courage to do what was right?
  5. Who is a friend you could “sharpen” (v. 17) through an encouraging word, a piece of timely advice, or a loving rebuke?
  6. Take time to memorize one or two of the verses from this week’s study.

Spend Time in Prayer:  Thank God for friends who offer you encouragement and who seek to bring out the best in you; ask God to guide you and give you wisdom as you seek to encourage and challenge your own friends to greater godliness.

Proverbs 27:5-6, 9, 17

5 An open rebuke
is better than hidden love!

6 Wounds from a sincere friend
are better than many kisses from an enemy.

9 The heartfelt counsel of a friend
is as sweet as perfume and incense.

17 As iron sharpens iron,
so a friend sharpens a friend.

Prayer for the Week: Dear Father, show me how to best encourage and challenge my friends to deeper faith; show me how to support them during their struggles.

 

 

Encouraging and Supporting Your Friends – We Need Each Other

FriendsKey Bible Verse: I close my letter with these last words: Be joyful. Grow to maturity. Encourage each other. Live in harmony and peace. Then the God of love and peace will be with you. 2 Corinthians 13:11

Bonus Reading: Romans 15:4-6

Mark (not his real name) took the courageous step of joining a church group that encourages men who want to grow out of destructive patterns. I had been urging him to take advantage of this group.

When he did so, I told him how my respect for him had risen. But as I looked with the eyes of God, I saw a shadow in his face, a touch of discouragement, even a hint of fear. He needed some encouragement.

“But you know,” I added, “when you read the classics, they stress how once a believer begins taking God more seriously, Satan is likely to unleash his most fierce temptations against that person.”

The relief that flooded Mark’s face was immediate. “Thank you for sharing that,” he said. “It helps me understand what’s been going on.”

Just hours before I talked to Mark, two of my friends had spoken to me, ministering God’s presence and wisdom. If they hadn’t lifted me up, I don’t know if I would have been available to encourage Mark. True transformation is a community effort. We need each other.

—Gary Thomas in The Beautiful Fight

My Response: Who is a friend I need to thank for being there to encourage me?

Adapted from The Beautiful Fight (Zondervan, 2007) .

Thought to Apply: A true friend never gets in your way unless you happen to be going down.—Arnold Glasgow (writer, humorist)

Prayer for the Week: Dear Father, show me how to best encourage and challenge my friends to deeper faith; show me how to support them during their struggles.

 

 

Encouraging and Supporting Your Friends – Get Real, Go Deep

FriendsKey Bible Verse: Gently encourage the stragglers, and reach out for the exhausted, pulling them to their feet. Be patient with each person, attentive to individual needs.  – 1 Thessalonians 5:14, The message

Bonus Reading: 1 Thessalonians 3:2-3

If you were to share with a trusted friend that you struggle with watching television shows you know you shouldn’t, your friend could react in a number of ways. The reaction you receive will most likely reveal the depth of your friend’s commitment to you.

Your friend could say to you, “Well, just turn off the TV and pray about it.” In this case, your friend probably can’t really relate to your problem, but he thinks telling you this will help. He might be truly concerned, however, even though he doesn’t really understand. Or he may simply practice doling out spiritual-sounding advice.

On the other hand, imagine the difference if that friend makes a committed effort to help you. Think how you’ll feel if your friend says, “Let’s talk about your problem some more. Why do you think you’re having this struggle? Let’s pray about this together.”

The two of you spend some time talking over the struggle you’re experiencing—and then you spend some more time beside each other in prayer. Your friend is committed to helping you—as long as it takes—until you get through this problem. Now that’s a committed friendship.

—David Wardell and Jeff Leever in Daily Disciples

My Response: How can I best demonstrate empathy toward a struggling friend?

Thought to Apply: We are born helpless. … We need others physically, emotionally, intellectually; we need them if we are to know anything, even ourselves.—C. S. Lewis(British scholar, Christian writer)

Adapted from Daily Disciples (Promise, 2001)

Prayer for the Week: Dear Father, show me how to best encourage and challenge my friends to deeper faith; show me how to support them during their struggles.

 

 

Encouraging and Supporting Your Friends – Was It Worth It?

FriendsKey Bible Verse: When we get together, I want to encourage you in your faith, but I also want to be encouraged by yours.   – Romans 1:12

Bonus Reading: Philemon 7

To encourage the guys in a Bible study I recently led, I telephoned each of them every week, asking how things were going and how I could pray for them. One of the men was reticent on the phone, often answering my general questions with one or two words. Our typical conversation lasted for only a minute or two.

Was he uncomfortable talking with me? I wondered after each call. Was I annoying him with my repeated phone calls? Did he not even like me? Perhaps I should just stop calling him.

Before making any decisions, though, I needed some expert advice. I talked to my wife.

“I wouldn’t give up,” she said. “Those calls probably mean more to him than you think.”

I took my wife’s advice and called that man again. As usual, he shared little and offered no prayer requests. As I began to wrap up another uncomfortable conversation, he said something that stunned me.

“Jon,” he said, “I just want you to know that I really appreciate your calls. It’s encouraging to hear a friendly voice every week.”

With tears forming in my eyes, I thanked him for his kind words. I hung up the phone and looked forward to calling him the following week.

—Jonathan Wakefield

My Response: How do I react when guys don’t seem to respond positively to my attempts to reach out and encourage them?

Thought to Apply:Q: How can you tell if a person needs encouragement? A: If they are breathing.”—Truett Cathy (founder of Chick-fil-A)

Prayer for the Week: Dear Father, show me how to best encourage and challenge my friends to deeper faith; show me how to support them during their struggles.

 

 

Encouraging and Supporting Your Friends – Training Partners

FriendsKey Bible Verse: If one person falls, the other can reach out and help. But someone who falls alone is in real trouble.  – Ecclesiastes 4:10

Bonus Reading: Proverbs 27:6, 9, 17

For a runner, there is nothing as wearing or as boring as a solo workout. The workout seems endless. For this reason, I always appreciated having training partners. When I ran with them, I was stretched, pulled, and extended beyond what I thought I could do. That’s the benefit of having quality training partners. They push and press us to better performances.

To me friendships are life’s training partners; they push and press us through everyday life. Henry Van Dyke once wrote that the mark of a friend is that he makes you wish to be at your best while you are with him. Good friends, like good personal training partners, pull us forward. They make us better. They stretch us.

Good friends challenge us when they see blind spots in our lives. Poor friends have the exact opposite effect—they drag us down. That’s why I believe friends are such a critical component to a successful life and are to be chosen wisely. It does matter who we hang out with.

Proverbs 13:20 reads: “He who walks with wise men will be wise. But the companion of fools will be destroyed” (NKJV). Let us be wise people in the company that we keep and the friends that we make.

—Jim Ryun in The Courage to Run

My Response: How am I encouraging and challenging my friends? How are my friends encouraging and challenging me?

Adapted from The Courage to Run (Regal, 2006)

Prayer for the Week: Dear Father, show me how to best encourage and challenge my friends to deeper faith; show me how to support them during their struggles.

 

 

 

Encouraging and Supporting Your Friends – Push Each Other to the Top

FriendsWho Said It … Max Lucado

Max Lucado grew up in west Texas and pretty much partied his way through high school—giving little attention to God. But then he encountered Jesus through a required Bible course at Abilene Christian University.

Today, this best-selling Christian author has sold more than 65 million books—including Bible studies, commentaries, devotionals, and books for kids. Max regularly preaches his down-home, story-driven sermons from the pulpit of San Antonio’s Oak Hills Church.

What He Said … Push Each Other to the Top

Every Thursday during a Young Life summer camp, four hundred students make the fourteen-thousand-foot climb up Colorado’s Mount Chrysolite. Several Young Life leaders and I walk with them.

On a recent trip, somewhere around the number four thousand, Matthew decided to call it quits. I coaxed him, begged him, negotiated a plan with him: thirty steps of walking, sixty seconds of resting. Finally we stood within a thousand feet of the peek. But the last stretch of the trail rose up as straight as a fireman’s ladder.

We got serious. Two guys came up beside Matt, each taking an arm. I pushed from the rear. We all but dragged Matt past the timberline and to the awesome view at the top.

That’s when we heard the applause. Four hundred campers on the crest of Mount Chrysolite gave Matt a standing ovation. As I slumped down to rest, a thought steamrolled my way: There it is, Max, a perfect picture of my plan. Do all you can to push each other to the top. Was this a message from God? Well, it does sound like something he’d say.

Adapted from The Cure for the Common Life (Thomas Nelson, 2006)

Prayer for the Week: Dear Father, show me how to best encourage and challenge my friends to deeper faith; show me how to support them during their struggles.