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Christian Living

Do You Have Friends or Acquaintances?

Strive to Build Meaningful Connections with Those Around You

We know many more people on a casual level then we do in a deeper, more meaningful way. We can distinguish between them as acquaintances versus friends. Think of concentric circles, with yourself in the center. The innermost circle contains your friends, and the next circle out holds all your acquaintances.

We should seek to move people from the status of acquaintance to the position of friend. Here are some areas to consider.

Friends or Acquaintances on Social Media?

Depending on the platform, social media has various designations for those we associate with. This includes friends, followers, and connections. The label of friends, however, is a misnomer. At best our social media associations overflow with acquaintances, but many don’t even rise to that level.

We would be in error to look at our social media numbers and assume these people are all our friends. They are not. At best, only a handful qualify for the status of friendship. This is not to say that true friendship can’t occur online, but it’s rare and fleeting.

Friends or Acquaintances at Work?

Whether we labor with others or function remotely from home, we form connections with those we work with. Some of these relationships rise to the level of friendship, or so it seems. But the true test of these associations occurs when one person changes jobs. Those connections that prevail apart from work are true friendships.

This doesn’t mean that we don’t have friends at work. It just means that those friendships are situational, and once the situation changes usually the bond does too.

Friends or Acquaintances in Our Community?

How many people do you know who live around you? Our neighbors should, at the very least, be acquaintances. Turning these acquaintances into friendships is a wise pursuit. We need friends within our community.

Friends or Acquaintances at Church?

For those who regularly attend church services, or are involved in their programs, this is an ideal place to connect with people, especially those with like-minded spiritual perspectives. Yet too often our interactions don’t rise above the acquaintance level to become friends. And I’ve talked with many people who have never even formed acquaintances at church. This may be on them, or it may be the church’s culture. Either way it’s not good.

We should strive to develop meaningful friendships in our spiritual communities. Then we can travel together on our faith journey. As Scripture says, iron sharpens iron (Proverbs 27:17).

Friends or Acquaintances in Our Family?

A final consideration is our own family. Do our familial relationships qualify as friends or acquaintances? The relatives we only see at rare family gatherings qualify as acquaintances. Yet as we invest in our family, we can turn our biological bonds into meaningful friendships.

What Does the Bible Say?

As you might expect, the word acquaintances doesn’t receive much coverage in Scripture. Only once does it occur, and this comes from Job when he laments that “He has alienated my family from me; my acquaintances are completely estranged from me” (Job 19:13, NIV).

The word friend occurs much more often, hundreds of times. Here are some key verses about friendship:

We should choose our closest friends with care, keeping in mind these key verses in the Bible. Click To Tweet

Moving Forward

Many people mistake acquaintances for friends, but we should distinguish between the two. Though connection begins at the level of acquaintance, true community arises among friends. We should strive to move acquaintances into the level of friendships. And we should choose our closest friends with care, keeping in mind these key verses in the Bible about friendships.

May our friendships be deep and meaningful, with Jesus in the center.

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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Bible Insights

Women in the Bible: Rahab

Learn about Rahab

Rahab is a prostitute who two spies stay with when they scope out Jericho. We don’t know if they seek her for her services, or if they merely want to get out of public view.

When the king of Jericho commands Rahab to turn the men over to him, she commits treason. She hides the men and lies to the king. she tells him that they already left, but she doesn’t know where they went.

Rahab knows God favors Israel and will give the city to them. So in exchange for her protecting the spies, she asks for the safety of her family when they raze the city. In her list of who’s included as family, she mentions parents and siblings, but not a husband or any children.

After securing their promise of protection, she helps the spies escape.

Later, Joshua confirms Rahab and her family will be spared when they take the city, while the rest of the city will be destroyed. She then lives with the Israelites.

Rahab in the New Testament

In the New Testament, Matthew reveals Rahab is one of Jesus’ direct ancestors and the great-great grandmother of King David (Matthew 1:5). She is honored as only one of four women mentioned in Jesus’ family tree.

Further, the book of Hebrews affirms her as a person of faith, one of only two women included in its impressive list (Hebrews 11:31).

Finally, James confirms she is righteous because of her actions in hiding and protecting the two spies (James 2:25).

While our reaction may be to judge this woman for her profession, God sees her differently, as a righteous woman of faith, rewarding her accordingly.

[Read through the Bible with us this year. Today’s reading is Joshua 4-6 and today’s post is on Joshua 6:17.]

Get your copy of Women of the Bible, available in e-book, paperback, hardcover, and audiobook.

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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Christian Living

Praying for My Children

Pray for Family and Friends

Ever since our daughter was born, I knew I should pray for her, as well as for her brother, when he came along. I did pray for them—when I thought of it—which wasn’t very often. I felt guilty for not doing what I knew I should do. And when I did pray, my prayers were always the same. My words repeated. They felt stale. When it came to praying for our children, I was stuck in a rut.

Praying for Our Children

When the oldest was in middle school, her youth group leader gave us a handout. Titled “Things I Pray for My Children,” it listed twenty-three items to guide our prayers. I began praying one item each day. At the end of twenty-three days (or a little bit longer if I missed a day) I started the list over and prayed through it again, making one request each day.

The prayer list empowered me to pray for our children. I no longer felt guilty about neglecting this aspect of their spiritual development.

After a few years, however, the list had grown stale. Though I continued to pray, I began to struggle. About that time, I came across another list, a prayer card: “31 Biblical Virtues to Pray for Your Kids.” This one had thirty-one suggestions, one for each day of a thirty-one-day month. Though both lists had similarities, no items were an exact duplicate. I now had thirty-one new ideas to guide my prayers.

On the months with thirty-one days, I used the thirty-one-day list. On the other months, I used the twenty-three-item list. And when I had run out of items for those months, I went off the list and came up with my own things to pray for our kids.

Praying for Their Friends

As they got older, I added their best friends to the list too. I did this because their friends were emerging as a bigger influence in their lives than their mom and me. I wanted their friends to be godly influences, so I prayed for them.

When they started dating, I prayed for those they were dating. One dated a lot and the other not so much. In college, I added their roommates.

Though the makeup of the list changed over time, the two people I consistently prayed for were our kids. Because I prayed for the people they were dating, their future spouses received years of prayer before they were engaged, even before they met.

These simple prayers, offered daily, one prayer at a time, were huge.

Simple prayers for our children and their friends, offered daily, one prayer at a time, will make a huge difference. Click To Tweet

Praying for Grandchildren

After they were married and the prospect of grandchildren became more realistic, I took a step of faith and began praying for their future children, my future grandchildren. Using the same two prayer lists to guide me, I prayed for God’s blessing on what would be.

As each grandchild was born, my prayers for them became more real. Having invested years of prayers before their arrival served to deepen my love for them.

Praying for Great Grandchildren and Great, Great Grandchildren

Along this journey of praying for my children and grandchildren, God prompted me to an even grander calling. He told me to pray for my future great-grandchildren and great-great-grandchildren. This was hard to do at first because that reality resides so far in the future. And though it’s realistic that I may someday see and hold great-grandchildren, it will only be by God’s grace that I live long enough to welcome great-great-grandchildren.

Praying for Future Generations

The story doesn’t end there, however. Praying for the next four generations of my descendants wasn’t enough. God prompted me to pray for the next ten. It was hard to get my mind around this, but I’ve faithfully prayed for them, as a group, ever since.

Then one day as I prayed, I misspoke. Instead of praying for the next ten generations, I said “twelve” in error. But before I could correct myself, God assured me that twelve is the number I should use going forward.

Interestingly, twelve is a recurring number in the Bible: twelve tribes in the Old Testament and twelve disciples in the New Testament, symbolically connecting the two parts of God’s Word.

In addition, twelve pops up often in the books of Moses (twelve pillars, twelve stones, twelve loaves of bread, twelve oxen, twelve silver plates, twelve silver bowls, twelve gold dishes, twelve bulls, twelve rams, twelve lambs, twelve goats, and twelve staffs), as well as in the future-focused prophecy of Revelation (twelve stars, twelve gates, twelve angels, twelve foundations, twelve apostles, twelve pearls, and twelve crops of fruit).

And for me, twelve generations.

Beyond twelve, I know that at some point God will up the number to one hundred. That’s heady stuff, but when the time comes, I’ll embrace the challenge, full of faith that he will answer these prayers for our descendants for hundreds of years to come.

Yet one thing remains. As I pray for our grandchildren and future great-grandchildren and the generations that follow, I continue to pray for our children every day.

And I’ll never stop.

[Update: This is an excerpt from my book Bridging the Sacred-Secular Divide. I have now taken the bold step of praying for all future generations of my offspring, through to the end of time.]

Do you like this post? Want to read more? Check out Peter’s book, Bridging the Sacred-Secular Divide: Discovering the Spirituality of Every Day Life, available wherever books are sold.

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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Personal Posts

How Observant Are You?

I remember years ago after I prepared my house to be painted. One of the tasks was to remove the street numbers from the house, allowing for both home and numbers to be easily painted.

The street numbers were above the garage door and easily viewable from the street. They weren’t always there, however. Initially, they were above the front door, but as the trees in the yard grew, the numbers became increasingly obscured. So one day I moved them from the front door to the garage door.

When our daughter came home, she inquired, “Didn’t the numbers used to be over the front door?”

When our son came home, he plainly asked, “When do you move the numbers?”

My bride made no such query and when the topic arose, she seriously asked, “We have numbers on our house?”

Do you like this post? Want to read more? Check out Peter’s book, Bridging the Sacred-Secular Divide: Discovering the Spirituality of Every Day Life, available wherever books are sold.

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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52 Churches

Reflecting on Church #3: Pain is Real; Handle it Honestly

With our journey of visiting fifty-two churches over, I can reflect more on the complete experience. Today, I’ll add to my thoughts about Church #3.

This church set a fine example in how they confronted tragedy in an honest way. I’m encouraged to see the church function as a church should, grieving together and supporting each other. In the days after our visit, I prayed for this congregation, their pastor, and the family in the midst of heartbreak.

On a personal level, I wanted to return to experience a normal service, but after a while, I realized this wasn’t necessary. I’d already seen them for who they are, not from a typical Sunday but from a remarkable one.

52 Churches, by Peter DeHaan

Their character emerged out of calamity, shining as a bright beacon of hope, pointing us to God.

My memories of this church are bittersweet and the lesson they modeled is profound. More churches need to deal with pain in a forthright manner, not glossing over it, ignoring it, or wallowing in it, but by being real.

[See my reflections about Church #1, Church #2, or Church #4.]

Get your copy of 52 Churches and The 52 Churches Workbook today, available in e-book, paperback, and hardcover.

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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Personal Posts

An Engaging Situation

Candy and I have two children; she reminds me that she always wanted four. Years ago, her wish had come true. No, we were not expecting—get that thought out of your mind right now. And we were not adopting, either. We were doing this the easy way: our kids were getting married!

Laura and Chris got engaged spring of 2007 and a summer wedding was in the works. Dan popped the question; Kelli said, “Yes.” Neither of these betrothals was unexpected and we couldn’t be happier.

As I shared the news of Laura’s engagement to those who didn’t know Chris, I often received curious queries:

“What do you think?” they asked with careful caution. “I think it’s great,” this beaming dad replied.

“Well, do you like him?” they probed a bit deeper. “Most definitely,” declared the father of the bride.

“So, then you’re okay with this?” They’re becoming assured, but sought confirmation. “They’re a great match,” I testified, “and I couldn’t be happier.”

Now, with another engagement in the works, I expected the same sort of questions from those who don’t know Kelli. Happily, my answers will be the same.

Do you like this post? Want to read more? Check out Peter’s book, Bridging the Sacred-Secular Divide: Discovering the Spirituality of Every Day Life, available wherever books are sold.

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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Personal Posts

The Box

Several years ago, Chris, our soon to be in son-in-law (at that time), was quietly amused by many of the things that he witnessed in our home. A prime source for his merriment was our flexible usage of the word “box.”

In our vernacular, box can be virtually any device that is electronic in nature:

  • The answering machine was the box.
  • The garage door opener was the box.
  • The VCR was the box.
  • The DVD player was the box.
  • The DVR (digital video recorder) was the box.
  • Each of our 5 remotes was the box. (We needed all 5, because the universal remote was actually only semi-universal.)

I want to give full and deserving credit to my wife for initiating and propagating this simple, yet curious naming custom. Yet, to be sure, I had easily and unknowingly adopted her minimalist identification convention.

Strangely, there was seldom any confusion as to which particular box is being referenced at a given time or situation.

Sometimes, my bride was able to skillfully use “the box” twice in the same sentence, but referencing two different entities, as in:

“I need the box (universal remote) if I am to turn on the box (DVR).”

Yet with all of our boxes, we seem to get along just fine—and give Chris a reason to smile.

Do you like this post? Want to read more? Check out Peter’s book, Bridging the Sacred-Secular Divide: Discovering the Spirituality of Every Day Life, available wherever books are sold.

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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52 Churches

Anticipating a New Minister (Visiting Church #43)

We walk into the church and receive an engaging welcome, as two greeters celebrate our presence. “If you’d only come in a couple weeks,” they playfully jest, “you’d be able to meet our new minister.”

They’re most excited about her arrival, anxious for her time as their shepherd to begin. I tease that we could leave and come back later. They assume I’m joking, but to be safe, they urge us to stay today—and then come back in two weeks.

52 Churches, by Peter DeHaan

We head into the sanctuary and soon another member approaches. After greeting and exchanging names, he shares with enthusiasm that in a couple weeks their new minister will arrive. He oozes excitement, unable to contain his glee.

As more conversations unfold, we learn their new leader is a recent seminary grad and this will be her first church. She’s in her late twenties. Even before her arrival, she’s pumping fresh life into this mostly older congregation.

Her ordination occurred yesterday, but in order to fulfill an existing commitment, it will be a couple more weeks before she can actually join them.

Today’s guest speaker celebrates yesterday’s ordination and the impending arrival of their new minister. Before we leave, several more people reiterate this news. There’s a collective anticipation over her arrival.

This church welcomes us well: before the service, after the service, and during the official greeting time within the service. They excel at this and are among the best we’ve encountered on our journey. But my key impression is the anticipation they have for their new minister.

I pray for their success; may all go well. Perhaps when our journey is over, we can make a return visit.

[Read about Church #42 and Church #44, start at the beginning of our journey, or learn more about Church #43.]

Get your copy of 52 Churches and The 52 Churches Workbook today, available in e-book, paperback, and hardcover.

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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Personal Posts

No Power Means No Heat

I remember years ago, I was wrapping things up and ready to start a blog entry when the power went out. This was peculiar as there were no storms and it was not windy—the two prime reasons for us to lose power.

Our power outages were usually a few seconds to a couple of minutes, so I kept working for a while (I had a small UPS for my computer). When power wasn’t restored quickly, I began an orderly shutdown.

Once I turned the monitors off, I was in the dark. By the time I felt my way to the main floor, my bride had found and turned on a battery powered-lantern. We used it as a reading lamp for a couple of hours, hoping for the quick return of electricity. Alas, it did not happen.

Although we had gas heat, electricity is required for the thermostat to function, to ignite the pilot, and to power the blower fan. No power means no heat. The weather forecast was for a low of zero (it actually hit 5 below), so I knew that a prolonged outage, would mean a cold house.

I piled more blankets on the bed, put on extra clothes, including a hoody, and climbed in bed. Snuggled up in my cocoon, I pulled the hood over my head, with only my face exposed. It reminded me of camping out as a kid.

My thoughts returned to those good times and I happily drifted off to sleep.

My sleep was short-lived as the power was restored a half-hour later. I got up and did a cursory check to make sure things were okay—and to turn off the couple of lights whose switches we had mistakenly left on when we lost power.

I also checked the temperature. In the two and a half hours without power, the temperature had dropped 5 degrees. At that rate, had power remained off, it would have been quite cold by morning.

Thankfully, the power did come back, saving us from that experience.

Do you like this post? Want to read more? Check out Peter’s book, Bridging the Sacred-Secular Divide: Discovering the Spirituality of Every Day Life, available wherever books are sold.

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

Categories
Personal Posts

Checkmate

Years ago my son Dan was on spring break from college and challenged me to a game of chess. Although I hadn’t played in several years, I readily accepted. It had been a while for Dan, too, so I figured we would be equally rusty.

After making a series of errors in the first game, I realized two things: I was not as patient a player as I used to be and Dan was much more thorough and thoughtful; he was making excellent moves. I lost the first game—and then two more. I didn’t ever recall losing three games in a row.

With increased resolve and a commitment to focus, I started the fourth game strong. But after establishing a superior position, my play became haphazard and I dug myself into a hole.

Its conclusion would have produced exciting commentary for chess aficionados, but I will spare you the details.

In short, Dan offered an intriguing gambit and I went for it. Though he played his endgame without fault, somehow I emerged victoriously. Garnering one win out of four, however, was not the outcome I expected.

Though I hate to lose, I am proud of how well Dan played. His academic focus on his engineering studies had served him well, developing his mental acuity and increasing his logical thinking. I am so pleased.

I, on the other hand, was dismayed at my difficulty in concentrating and propensity for the quick versus quality moves. The culprit, I fear, is years of trying to multitask (which is really only an illusion). Now, when I try to stop multitasking, I can’t.

Rarely can I concentrate on a single chore without spurious thoughts impeding my focus.

And my chess game is among the victims.

Do you like this post? Want to read more? Check out Peter’s book, Bridging the Sacred-Secular Divide: Discovering the Spirituality of Every Day Life, available wherever books are sold.

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.