Category Archives: Uncategorized

Community, Jesus was about the whole community

There are people making the case that Christians need to pull out of the world.

I do understand their case. The world can spiritually damage even destroy people. It is too easy to be corrupted by the world. To be sure, just as a physically wounded person can’t be expected to run a marathon, maybe those who are spiritually debilitated need to stay within protection.

But that can’t be the case for most of us and certainly wasn’t the case for Jesus.

In his book “Life Together” pp 27-28 Dietrich Bonhoeffer makes the case: “Jesus Christ lived in the midst of his enemies…So Christians, too, belong not in the seclusion of a cloistered life but in the midst of enemies. There they find their mission, their work. “To rule is to be in the midst of your enemies. And whoever will not suffer this does not want to be part of the rule of Christ; such a person wants to be among friends and sit among the roses and lilies, not with the bad people but the religious people. O you blasphemers and betrayers of Christ! If Christ had done what you are doing, who would ever have been saved?’ (Luther).’Though I scattered them among the nations, yet in far countries they shall remember me’ (Zech 10:9) According to God’s will, the Christian church is a scattered people, scattered like seed ‘to all the kingdoms of the earth’ (Deut 28:25) That is the curse and its promise. God’s people must live in distant lands among the unbelievers, but they will be the seed of the kingdom of God in all the world.”

5 Steps to Become a Prayer Warrior

5 Steps to Become a Prayer Warrior

Heather Adams

| Contributing Writer


8 Mar

5 Steps to Become a Prayer Warrior

The title “prayer warrior” describes a Christian who has a strong affinity for and gifting in this area. Though all believers are called to pray, certain people turn to God more quickly and confidently in response to the ups and the downs of life. And they are willing to ask for others as well as themselves.

I’ve been blessed to know several prayer warriors in churches I’ve attended over the years. Each of them made lifting up praises and concerns a priority and a habit that was as natural as breathing. They all ended up doing a unique kind of ministry in and beyond the church walls.

What Does it Mean to Be a Prayer Warrior?

The word “warrior” usually conjures up an image of someone in a military uniform of some type, whether armor or fatigues. We picture them carrying offensive and defensive weapons. And we assume the person has been trained in fighting and hopefully in strategic thinking as well.

It might not seem like this image could be associated with prayer. But the Apostle Paul dedicated a section of his letter to the Ephesians to this analogy. He wanted us as followers of Christ to understand that we are indeed engaged in a war.

“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand” (Ephesians 6:10-13).

Paul goes on to list the pieces of armor and the weapons we have in Christ to overcome the enemy’s attacks. Then he finishes with an appeal for us to use prayer as a way to gain victory in battle.

Characteristics of a Prayer Warrior

The prayer warriors that I have known share a few similar traits:

– They are worshipful, seeking to glorify the Lord.

– They are God-centered, focused on His greatness and mercy.

– They are empathetic, able to meet and accept people where they are.

– They are persevering, determined to repeatedly lift up requests.

– They are loving, wanting to help bring about God’s will for others.

I’ve also noticed a mindset that these warriors tend to have:

They are alert and ready, being sensitive to needs and acting quickly.

“And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people” (Ephesians 6:18).

They trust in God’s goodness, lifting up requests knowing He always answers.

“This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of him” (1 John 5:14-15).

They submit to God, calling on Him with a sense of awe and expectation.

“Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective” (James 5:16).

Prayer Warriors in the Bible

King David

“Answer me when I call to you, my righteous God” (Psalm 4:1).

King Jehoshaphat

“Our God, will you not judge them? For we have no power to face this vast army that is attacking us. We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you” (2 Chronicles 20:12).


“You who are my Comforter in sorrow, my heart is faint within me. Listen to the cry of my people from a land far away: ‘Is the Lord not in Zion? Is her King no longer there?’” (Jeremiah 8:18-19).


“Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed” (Mark 1:35).


“…we constantly pray for you, that our God may make you worthy of his calling, and that by his power he may bring to fruition your every desire for goodness and your every deed prompted by faith. We pray this so that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you, and you in him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ” (2 Corinthians 1:11-12).

5 Ways to Become a Prayer Warrior

God may be calling you to become more of a prayer warrior in your church or family. Ask Him to confirm that in your heart. Let Him change your spirit and shift your attitudes to align with Him. Then, be obedient to do your part in the process:

1. Have More of a Hunger for God

“‘Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know’” (Jeremiah 33:3).

Warriors I’ve known absolutely love being in God’s Word and seek to be in His presence daily. They want to gain knowledge of Scripture to be able to speak it in their prayers. And they base their confidence partly on their own experiences with the Lord.

2. Have a Greater Desire to Be Used by God

“Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful” (Colossians 4:2).

I’ve seen people who were natural prayer warriors, and people who in time grew into the role. But all of them started with a love of prayer, and an eagerness to serve God. They didn’t have to know everything – they just had a stirring in their spirit to follow the Lord’s call.

3. Seek More of God’s Holy Spirit

“In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans” (Romans 8:26).

Even the most seasoned Christians find themselves not knowing what or how to pray on occasion. Warriors rely on the Holy Spirit to lead them. Even when they do have something in mind to lift up, they have the wisdom to ask the Spirit to join with them.

4. Feel a Greater Sense of Concern for Others

“Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God” (1 John 4:7).

Prayers are impactful when they are motivated by love. True warriors approach every request with care and respect. And they see the value in lifting up needs, whether they know the person being prayed for or not.

5. Learn How to Rely More on God for Strength and Endurance

“I can do all this through him who gives me strength” (Philippians 4:13).

A former pastor used to call prayer one of the “front line ministries” of our church. Those who become warriors learn quickly that it is both satisfying and demanding. So, to avoid burnout, they acknowledge God as the source for their ability and energy to do the work, and lean on Him rather than themselves.

God calls us to see prayer as a powerful tool – a way to relate with our Heavenly Father, a way to express our need for Him, a way to show the Lord devotion and trust, and as a tangible way to support others.

In addition, prayer warriors learn how to use prayer as an effective weapon in spiritual warfare. They make a lifestyle of turning to God, lifting up requests, waiting in expectation.

“Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer” (Romans 12:12).

Related articles
How to Pray Through the Armor of God
Did You Know Jesus is Praying for You?
How Can We Embrace the Power of Prayer?

Photo credit: ©Getty Images/Lemon_tm

Heather Adams is an author, speaker, and singer living in Connecticut. Heather’s passion is to equip and encourage believers to seek more of God’s truth and to experience more of His joy each day. Her book, Bow Down: The Heart of a True Worshipper is a practical, 30-day devotional about worship based on the writings of King David. Heather’s blog, Worship Walk Ministries, offers weekly Scripture passages and insights to ponder. A native New Englander, Heather is settling into her home in the South, trying out local foods and watching for the alligators that live nearby! You can connect with her on her website:

Our church life supports the lesser things in our life

This is an article by Michelle Sanchez, she is a professor at Harvard Divinity School, in Cambridge, Ma. She had a particularly difficult year. During that time she became the musician of her small Christian church. She relates how that experience during difficult times, also during normal times does so much to help us remember that while things in our life are important, our relationship to Christ’s church is the center of our life and stability in the chaos of the world, by maintaining our relationship with Jesus and His people:

…The increasingly common logic that sees things in terms of monetization and productivity renders church either grotesque or quaint. But I would wager against this logic that church continues to matter because it is the place of habits par excellence. In church, people read the same stories over and over again, say the same words over and over again, sing the same songs over and over again, with many of the same people, week in and week out for years, even decades.

…I appreciate it precisely for this relative oddity. I appreciate church for just how hard it is to live in a high- pressure professional setting and to give a clear account of why it is that I ‘still go”. Maybe because the incongruity embodied in all those people who are so different from me but who nonetheless get up and go there, too serves as a standing reminder both of how fragile all the ‘important’ things are and of what might remain when that fragility reveals itself…

…One might have expected that my church attendance would have taken a dive during this time; [a number of personal family crisis] I might have expected as much. After all, I’m not required to go. I don’t get paid, and it does nothing o advance my career. It’s not particularly recreational, nor is it relaxing in any ordinary sense. I very well might have been tempted to skip out on church during those troubled months, except for one fact: that August, right before the fateful 2014-2015 academic year began, the longtime pianist at my church moved away and left a vacancy…

…I grew up playing the piano in church. It’s a routine I know well; I know all the sons inside and out,…

…In many ways, though, it was precisely that additional ‘job’ that saved my sanity during such a hard year. There were so many weeks that it would have been tempting just to sleep in nor to spend those hours on Sunday with Netflix, in order to simply rest. But I couldn’t, because I had to be there. There had to be music. And in subtle ways that I didn’t appreciate at the time, being in that space meant being surrounded by loved ones, by people who shared certain habits but whose lives and struggles were also drastically different from my own. Being in that simple sanctuary every week, under the arched ceiling, before the cross, surrounded by the hum of friendly chaos, furnished me with a broader and more robust sense of self by de-centering my own central importance. When I played that music, my body became a conduit through which the bonds between all of the people gathered there – young and old, poor and less poor,…grew stronger as we sang together. While I wasn’t fully aware of it at the time the experience of sharing music with others turned out to be what I needed most during a time when everything else felt uncertain and shaky…

Living in the world as it is, no one has to go looking for pressures. They will find us. Demands and aspirations compete not only for our time, but also for our claims to identity; they ask us to be authentic, unique, innovative. As I navigate the opportunities, expectations, and challenges that confront me in my daily life, somehow church, with all of its flaws, stands out like Mark’s voice making me conscious that it’s all the things in between, all the habits taken for granted, that most fundamentally shape who we are. What I needed most in my hardest year was paradoxically, to be needed…”

I would submit whatever gift, in addition to music, will certainly give the same fulfillment. Our service in the church strengthens us to deal with the rigors of our other vocations. When we forget the church, we lost a significant support system in our life. – Jim Driskell

Harvard Divinity Bulletin Summer Autumn 2016 pp 13, 14, 15

Eleven Signs You Are Becoming a Church Consumer Instead of a Committed Church Member

by Thom S. Rainer
Founder & CEO

I am a church member. I teach a small group in my church. I occasionally preach when my pastor is out. I give to the church faithfully. I have been involved in other ministries in the church over the years.

But I sometimes start acting like a church consumer instead of a committed church member. Instead of focusing on others as 1 Corinthians 12 and 13 clearly demonstrate, I start acting like the church is supposed to serve me. I want to get my needs met. I want things a certain way for my family and me. My unholy trinity is me, myself, and I.

Tracking My Own Attitude and Behavior

Recently, I’ve started tracking my own attitude by going through a series of signs that my commitment to my church is not what it should be. Here are eleven signs that I am becoming a church consumer instead of a committed church member.

You know you are becoming a church consumer when:

  1. Your worship attendance becomes optional.
  2. You replace in-person attendance with digital attendance (though I fully understand that some people are unable to attend in-person).
  3. Your attendance to a small group is declining, or you stop attending completely.
  4. Your attitude toward your church is more critical.
  5. Your giving declines or stops.
  6. You critique sermons instead of listening prayerfully.
  7. You see church as a place to meet your needs instead of your meeting the needs of others.
  8. You move readily to another church when your needs are not met.
  9. You get frustrated at what other church members aren’t doing.
  10. You don’t pray for your church regularly.
  11. You don’t share the gospel.

Church Consumers Are Not Biblical

The local church is the dominant topic in the Bible after the resurrection and ascension of Jesus. Indeed, the entirety of the New Testament, from Acts 2 to Revelation 3, is either about the local church or written in the context of the local church.

The local church is God’s plan A, and he didn’t leave us a plan B.

I am a church member.

Sometimes I need to be reminded to act and think like one.

Awake not woke Noelle Merig on how the culture undermines masculinity

Sexual revolution has encouraged women to engage in what they don’t want so they have become calloused, have felt used and not cared for.

Has encouraged men to become licentious to become weak, leads to abuse of others for their own pleasure, which leads to evidence of smashing the patriarchy. criticized for their abuse, even though they’ve been told to be concerned with their pleasure including abusing others most who are defenseless. So we condemn men as a whole, supposedly rejecting true masculinity will get us out of this crisis, they’ve eradicated what true masculinity is.. Aquinas said “to be emasculated is to be a slave to pleasure to the point where you’re no longer willing to suffer.” To be a real man there is the same connection between suffering and masculinity that society needs and men need. This is a spiritual battle and has to be so resisted. Woke tries to be confusing, to simply trick. This is a lie and the response has to be to call out the lie and solely responding with truth. We have told a generation of people who cast blame on others for their circumstances and blaming others only exacerbates their problems, not solving them.

Every revolutionary wants to target the father. This is deeply spiritual, that authority of a father “a good father is not there to control them, but to empower them to lead their lives independently. A good father is gentle, but also strong. We’ve corrupted the image of the father in order to undermine our perception of The Father … Fathers are to be more like God the Father

A lot of people who are just parroting a script, that it is a thin ideology.

Leadership Institute Franciscan University of Steubenville

Ceremony in the Divine Service Marie Greenway March 22, 2022

Ceremony in the Divine Service

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Divine Service Featured

Ceremonial Church Interior Wittenberg

“I was raised Catholic, but, I dunno. Mass is just … well, it’s so much ceremony.

This was overheard at a recent get-together. You may have heard a similar sentiment directed at the Lutheran Divine Service and its faithful use of liturgy. It seems that ceremony can be a bit of a deterrent to some, especially in our casual culture. But I would argue that it is the very ceremony of the Divine Service that beckons and invites those outside the Church in.

After all, many things in life involve ceremony, especially that other thing that is taking over our Sundays—sports.

Sports and Ceremony

There is a routine and structure to a sports game, especially in professional leagues. Each game involves a closely followed set of rules. Every player has a position, and gestures are carefully used to signal plays, pitches, or even fouls. Teams wear particular clothing in particular colors, and their jerseys even change depending on where they are playing. There is a specific structure to the beginning of each game, such as a coin toss or ceremonial first pitch. Frequently, music plays an important role too, like the national anthem, players’ walk-up songs, and the ubiquitous seventh-inning-stretch performance of “Take Me Out to the Ball Game.”

All these things are widely accepted and celebrated. Yet there are those who balk at the ceremony in the Divine Service, which also prizes physical position, employs gestures to help communicate, utilizes specific clothing in specific colors at different times of the year, follows a special opening structure, enlists music, and involves a closely followed, traditional set of rules.

Ceremony Gives Meaning

But maybe you are one who doesn’t care much for sports. In that case, consider all the other everyday things that involve ceremony. Families find traditional structures during holidays, daily meals typically involve a set order, and even a morning routine involves a certain amount of ceremony. Ceremony gives structure and order to the things we do in our life. Although ceremonial actions are not essential to life in the same way water or oxygen may be, they give meaning to life. We would not survive long without meaning.

The ceremony of the Divine Service shows how important it is. It sets it apart from everything else we see in life. In this way, the ceremony of the Divine Service is actually a great welcome to those from the outside. It says to them, come in, you will find something different here. If the Divine Service only took its cues from the rest of the current culture, there would be no point in it. Instead, it offers people something different from their normal lives. It shows them that it has a significance they can only find in the Church. Arthur A. Just Jr. writes in Heaven on Earth: The Gifts of Christ in the Divine Service:

Our worship must immediately proclaim to our unbelieving neighbors that something is happening in the liturgy that happens nowhere else in all of creation. God, who is everywhere, chooses to locate Himself in the liturgy in Word and Sacraments.” (p. 26)

God is giving us His greatest gift in the Word and Sacrament; the ceremony of the Divine Service proclaims that.

Different Levels of Ceremony

That’s not to say that everyone will appreciate extravagant ceremony. In fact, while some Lutheran churches are very “high church,” many Lutheran churches have a little less ceremony. This reflects the make-up of the congregation—perhaps it is smaller and has fewer resources to conduct all the bells and whistles highly ceremonial churches use; perhaps the people themselves are a community that appreciates a more toned-down, but still reverent, approach. Whatever the case may be, ceremony can still be shown even if it is not with great extravagance.

Due reverence is important, and guiding people to that due reverence with a certain amount of ceremony is beneficial for the congregation. Forcing a high level of ceremony on every congregation is not. Some people may find a church’s high level of affectation in its ceremony disingenuous. Perhaps this is what the woman who spoke the opening sentence perceived in the Roman Catholic mass, although it is a messy thing to consider what is beautiful reverence and what is pretension.

Ceremony Shows What We Think Is Important

Ultimately, though, ceremony is necessary because it shows that something important is happening. If we take the Divine Service seriously, we will naturally appreciate the ceremony—and this in turn will show our neighbors what we deem important, namely, the gift of Jesus Christ’s salvation. Just continues in Heaven on Earth:

Our neighbor from the highways and byways must see that no more important business is being carried out in the world than the business transacted in the liturgy proclaimed for the life of the world. If our liturgy does not express this, then we cannot expect our visiting neighbors to return to our liturgy. If they do not see a world made new in Jesus Christ in the gifts of salvation, then they will not desire to enter into catechesis that prepares them to receive the justifying gifts of Christ in Baptism and to celebrate a world made new in Christ in the Eucharist. (pp. 26-27)

Ceremony can turn off those who are not used to it, but it is only through ceremony that we show these same people that there is something worthwhile happening when we participate in the Divine Service. More than our morning coffee routine, more than our family Thanksgiving dinner, more than even the Super Bowl, we are receiving the only gift that offers us eternal salvation.

Quotations from Heaven on Earth: The Gifts of Christ in the Divine Service © 2008 Arthur A. Just Jr., published by Concordia Publishing House.

Learn more about the Divine Service with the authoritative English translation of Friedrich Lochner’s The Chief Divine Service.

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Divine Service Featured

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Marie Greenway

Marie Greenway has worked and volunteered as a church musician since childhood. She graduated from Hillsdale College with a degree in music and was formerly the music teacher at Immanuel Lutheran School in Alexandria, Virginia. 

Causing discord among Christians, goes back to the beginning.

C.F.W. Walther was, effectively, the first president of the Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod. From pretty much the beginning of when the church arrived from Germany they faced “discord”. Sometimes people are all about what they want and think, no matter how ill-advised or just not knowing what they’re doing. To a current pastor it’s assuring to know it’s not just me but goes back to those who were the leaders and movers.

I do have one quick observation. Quite often you have people who chose to cause this discord. They have no idea of what they’re doing or talking about. They’ve never discussed any concerns with anyone, they simply shoot from the lip about their opinion, then let the debris fall where it may. Generally it’s people who really have no experience working in an organization or a team environment. They’ve always been about themselves and feel no need to change. I will say this much, I really wonder what they think they are accomplishing. Further I have to fear for them when they are standing in the judgment, how is Jesus going to see their attempt at trying to undermine His church or one of His ministers. I’m certainly not saying ministers are infallible. However, you better know what you’re talking about, and be prepared for genuine work in terms of bringing about and implementing change. Creating discord and trying to undermine a ministry is not going to be well received when you are in the presence of the Lord for judgment.

I’ve posted another blog where the author is describing the Scriptural discussion on causing discord and trying to undermine a ministry.

Walther offers his observations on his experience with those who are just about creating discord:

“Unfortunately, there are far too many people who think that if they did not instigate discord and especially if the offender does not take the first step toward reconciliation, then it is not their fault if they cannot live in peace with the offender. If they are obvious non-Christians, they rejoice when it does not go well for their offender. They watch for a suitable opportunity when they can repay him the injustice he did them. If they are not Christians who carefully guard themselves, they often allow a bitter root to grow up in their heart against their offender, from which bitter fruits are produced. This is especially true if they have been insulted by a Christian. It is usually the case that careless Christians can no longer, from their hearts, pray for their offender all his temporal and spiritual needs. They are no longer able to rejoice with him, to speak to him in a friendly manner, and to do good to him. Such Christians are of the opinion that only their offender bears responsibility for the discord.

But what does Saint Paul say in today’s reading? [Romans 12: 16-21]’Live in harmony with one another.’ “Therefore,’ repay no one evil for evil.” We see fro this that even is a person has not provided the first occasion for discord, if he lets the offense that he has suffered at the hands of his neighbor serve as an excuse for not loving him as before and for not being friendly to him in deeds and words, that person has not done “so far as it depends on you” to live in peace with all men.

In the concluding words of our text, the apostle makes two points. First, he says, ‘Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God; for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,’ says the Lord.” If the Christian wants to be peace-loving in God’s eyes, he dare not repay his offender with the least evil, even if the offense was ever so great and grievous. Either the offense is not worth the strife, or else it earns God’s wrath and punishment. In the event that the offense deserves the latter, the Christian must give way to God’s wrath. He must not take the least bit of revenge himself, seizing God’s office and thus hindering Him by taking vengeance on the evil by himself. A Christian must value peace and harmony so highly that he will suffer considerable harm if he thereby purchase peace and harmony.

Yet even this is not enough. Saint Paul demands still more. He says: ‘To the contrary, ‘if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.’ Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” If a Christian wants to be peace-loving in God’s eyes, he must repay evil with good. The darker and more sullen the offender is against him, the more friendly the Christian must show himself toward his offender. He must not become tired of heaping coals of fire on his antagonist’s head, overwhelming him with love and benefits to the extent that he is finally conquered by that love, moved to give up his wrath and prompted to love the person he offended.

Oh, if only all Christians would do all they can to live in peace with their neighbors, then peace would bloom in all hearts, in homes and in families, in cities and in congregations, throughout the world.”

I have to admit, I did kind of smirk at Walther’s comment that one shouldn’t tire of heaping coals on his antagonist’s head. I know, I’m bad. If I was one of those people who always seems to have a problem, always seems to be trying to undermine, they better check on how they are being the problem and how Jesus is going to judge that. Do you really want to say, “well Jesus I undermined that ministry because I didn’t like the pastor”. Do you really want to imagine how that’s going to be received?

You need to do something about loneliness, especially your own!

This article is certainly a commentary on life today. One really sad comment, from a GenXer, “I find I’ve become fussier as I’ve gotten older. My time feels more precious,”. This is from someone who is 42-57 years old. Ya Grandpa, I think you’re still a little young to think like that. This writer: “Friendship takes too much time away from my own thoughts, time in life, is limited, I don’t want to spend my time building relationships beyond my family.” Sorry but that whole paragraph is a rationalizing crock. I understand “time” and yes it takes time for friends, but the time I take with those people who are important to me as friends gives me such a huge lift. And I am very blessed to have friends who are great people. I have found as a church pastor how lonely people are, they chose to be isolated most of their lives, now in their older years they are alone. I did a funeral for an elderly woman, had gone to the church I now pastor, never met her, or knew about her. A niece who did the funeral planning and who lived way out of state and one other person were at the funeral or acknowledged her passing. I am noticing this a lot at funerals, covid not withstanding. I would accept that the article is true, that lack of friends results in damaging physical stress. But I also find a lot of people elderly people and otherwise, all age groups, who have no one to check on them, have never made relationships in their life, but they then expect people to ply them with support in their time of need. We are there to support each other, especially as Christians, for those in our churches. If you’re going to have the attitude that you are so self-involved as the previous writer, I hope you’re not going to expect people to rush to you in your time of need. There probably will be people to help you and they probably will be Christians, but obsession with self is going to make you a very lonely, bitter, sad person and let’s face it, there are too many of those people around now, and I would say the number of them will only increase. This article ends with a “need someone call this number”. I would suggest find a good, Bible teaching church near you and call them. I would suggest a Lutheran Missouri Synod to assure you are receiving genuine, solid Scripture teaching. Sunday, April 11, 2021Why is it so hard to make friends? In a year when so many viruses have been exposed, researchers keep returning to one in particular: the epidemic of loneliness. It’s the twist of the knife behind so many societal ills, from depression to addiction to violence, and as damaging as smoking 15 cigarettes a day. One study found nearly 36 percent of Americans felt it was “hard” or “very hard” to make friendships. Today we diagnose the roots of loneliness and search for solutions. And should you ever need a friend, you have one in me — write anytime.
Nick Fouriezos, Senior Editor

who is hurting, and why1. Challenges Across GenerationsLoneliness is so serious that both Japan and Britain have named “ministers of loneliness” in recent years. Former British Prime Minister Theresa May launched the position because more than 9 million Britons reported often or always feeling lonely (with 4 million of them being over 50 ). The U.K. isn’t alone. A study of older adults in 11 high-income countries showed high levels of social isolation in France (31 percent), Australia (25 percent) and the United States (21 percent). And counterintuitively, seniors aren’t bearing the brunt of this: Over a third of Americans reported “serious loneliness” in a recent Harvard survey, including 51 percent of mothers with young children and 61 percent of young adults aged 18 to 25. A number of organizations have been formed to combat loneliness by connecting old and young, with older netizens serving as remote pen pals, homework helpers and mentors.
2. Our FindingsNearly half. That’s the portion of more than 300 OZY readers who said this week in a survey that making friends is “hard.” Only 30 percent said it was “easy.” The challenge of making friends has gotten harder with age, the majority said. Some of that challenge is self-inflicted: “I find I’ve become fussier as I’ve gotten older. My time feels more precious,” one Gen Xer said. But, for others, finding the outlets for forging friendships is the hard part. “Creating new friendships requires new settings, and as I age I find my willingness to experience new things dwindles,” said another Gen Xer. “This, combined with a lack of trust in people earned by difficult experience have made me less willing to take a chance on others,” the reader explained.
3. HikikomoriIn Japan, the term hikikomori — combining the verb hiki, to “withdraw,” and komori, to be inside — is used to describe Japanese youth, mostly men, who isolate themselves from society. It first gained attention in the ’90s, when an economic recession led to career setbacks throughout Japan. With the world’s fastest-aging population, coupled with a loneliness epidemic among seniors, Japan’s insurance companies offer landlords packages to cover missed rents from tenants who die alone at home. A cottage industry has emerged in response to the hikikomori, from a $2,800 holographic pop star turned companion to rent-a-sister services in which women help hikikomori rejoin society by dragging them out of their bedrooms for $250 a session. That may seem strange … although if it is, then so is spending $2,500 to get a Cameo callout from Caitlyn Jenner.
4. Lacking LanguageYou can’t imagine what you can’t say, so perhaps the friendship problem relates to a lack of the right words. English, the most commonly spoken language in the world, for example, has only one word for love. But the ancient Greeks had six, including philia, or deep friendship. Still, that’s no match for Sanskrit, which has 96, many of which examine the nuances of platonic love. The Mandarin word yuánfèn, 缘分, refers to a relationship ordained by fate or destiny. In other words, one between kindred souls. What new words would you create to signify loving friendship? Email us your thoughts here.

5. ‘Intimacy’ for HireThe booming boyfriends-for-rent business is throwing Chinese helicopter parents off the scent. Young Chinese women, facing intense pressure to couple up in their 20s, enlist men to play the part for needed occasions. One Alibaba blogger recounted the $264 (roughly 1,500 yuan) per day experience, which came with undivided attention but barred “dodgy” physical contact. Still, such services — and the parental pressure necessitating them — force women to perform dog-and-pony shows that could underscore rampant loneliness. In the United States, cuddling is now commoditized by Cuddle Comfort, an app that brings physical contact to your door the way Uber Eats brings burgers and wings.
6. InsomniacsFor those who struggle with sleep — an ailment that increased during COVID — the bias toward daytime social activity can feel too real. Alone with their thoughts at night, people are increasingly turning toward more manufactured connections. The Sleep With Me podcast began with host Drew Ackerman playing “your boring drunk friend,” as he put it, to help lull listeners to sleep. More recently, the TikTok user @mackickinback amassed more than 1 million followers posting videos of her reading bedtime stories and wishing people a good night in soothing ways. She’s a college student who previously posted kink-normalizing content, and perhaps it says something about loneliness that she left social media in recent months to preserve her mental health.
7. On the MoveMillennials and Gen Z experience higher rates of anxiety than Gen X and baby boomers, an anxiousness that manifests in social settings as much as in educational or career environments. Social mobility plays a role too: A 2015 survey by friendship app Patook found that more than half of those who had spent less than five years in a place found it difficult to find friends, while it was much easier for those who stayed in place longer. Millennials are moving more than past generations, although more of the workforce across all ages is mobile. Many OZY readers suggest recent moves for jobs or to retire had left them socially unmoored: “I moved to a different state after retirement to be physically closer to my son,” one said. “Most of the people my age have lived here their entire adult lives and have lifelong friends. It is difficult to feel like I fit in.”
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SHOP NOWwhat has changed
1. PrioritiesIn 1977, the majority of college students placed friends above family, religion or work as key to a meaningful life in interviews conducted by the psychologist Eric Klinger. Four decades later, in 2017, Americans placed family (69%), career (34%), money (23%) and faith (20%) above friendship (19%). “Friendships are hard to maintain with so many competing demands on my time,” said one OZY reader and parent of 11-year-old twins who also works and volunteers, and whose closest friends are half a continent away. “We stay in touch by phone and with infrequent visits.”
2. TechnologyA friend recently told me he felt there were two ages of the internet: when he had it in his pocket, and when he didn’t. The smartphone has changed our relationships, keeping us connected every moment of every day — but perhaps not as meaningfully connected, as research and anecdotes suggest that social media interactions provide only a mirage of connectivity. There are real benefits, with people finding new online communities around shared hobbies, such as cooking or birding. Knowing that your childhood or college friends are only a click away may have also shifted the risk vs. reward equation of making new friends. “I think social media has made it harder to have real friends not just for people my age but for people of all ages,” said one boomer in our survey. “Social media has created a situation where someone could have 400 friends on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram and be totally lonely.”
3. Neighborly NormsWith your social needs partially met, albeit unsatisfactorily, by digital relationships, is it worth suffering through the awkwardness of speaking to strangers to become friends with people in your new neighborhood? Many Americans say it’s not, as 66 percent reported they don’t know their neighbors in one survey (an especially odd fact, given that most people settle in neighborhoods with people who share their partisan beliefs ). People in the Midwest are most likely to know their neighbors, with 36 percent saying they consider them as friends, which may also be tied to the fact that Midwesterners are the most likely to stay in their hometowns.

4. Strained BudgetsIn Speaking of Friendship, women’s studies experts Mary Strong and Helen Gouldner describe middle-class adults as having “friendship budgets” — the time they can allot to new friends after taking work, families and prior friends into account. Surging inequality has only added stress to that limited budget, as childcare prices have skyrocketed and more couples both work to meet rising costs. Plus, people making less and paying more means less expendable income to engage in old forms of making friends — a trend calcified by COVID-19, as more than 40 percent of people who spent money on movies, event tickets or at bars now say they plan to spend less on those activities.
READ MORE ON OZYreap the benefits of a sustainable closet
One of the easiest ways to go green? Start at home with your closet and focus on quality classics built to last — that’s just part of why we love Cariuma. Made with sustainable materials, these fashionable shoes will help you shop consciously without sacrificing style. Get $15 off a pair with code OZY15 now!
BUY NOWruminations on friendship1. Ball w/o YouThe rapper 21 Savage examines a failed friendship in this 2018 track, rapping that he prefers loyalty, the action, over love, the emotion: “You can love or hate me and still have my back,” he sings. “I would have went to war with the world on your call. Thought you had my back, you let me fall.” The Atlanta-raised Grammy Award winner emphasizes friendship over romance, while underscoring the little things that define a relationship, such as shooting hoops, with his tragic refrain: “Now I gotta ball without you.”
2. What About Your Friends?The TLC classic was written by Lisa “Left Eye” Lopes and Dallas Austin early on, previewing the empowering style — somehow combining edgy and playful effortlessly — that would help launch the ’90s band into becoming one of the bestselling American girl groups of all time. The third single on their debut album reflects on friendships tested as their circumstances change. The song suggests fame and fortune won’t rock real relationships, and despite going bankrupt in 1995 and then dormant in the early aughts, the band indeed mounted a comeback together — although without Lopes, who died in a 2002 car accident.
3. I Am a Meme Now — and So Are YouTim Kreider writes about the surreal experience of having his words — “If we want the rewards of being loved, we have to submit to the mortifying ordeal of being known” — taken out of context and made into a massively popular Gen Z meme. His reflections, particularly that such emotional intimacy seemed to convey a “greater-than-normal horror of human interaction peculiar to internet generations,” are worth considering in relation to elusive friendships.

4. Both Sides NowThe Joni Mitchell tune is an old ode to love, but lost in its more famous lines is a dissection of the war time wages on friendships. “But now old friends are acting strange. They shake their heads, they say I’ve changed,” the Canadian artist sings. Life stages change relationships. Her resolution “that something’s lost, but something’s gained, in living every day” quells some of the existential angst.
5. When Harry Met SallyThe 1989 Nora Ephron romantic comedy debates whether men and women can be friends but is really a reflection on the essence of friendship itself — from the two eponymous characters to the close friends who guide them through a dozen formative years. “Anyway, it’s about old friends,” as Sally says in the film’s climactic scene, while “Auld Lang Syne” plays on.
attempts to connect
1. Acti-FriendsThe Black Lives Matter protests in the wake of George Floyd’s death led to mass gatherings of people united in their fight against racial injustice … which is why it’s not surprising many of those activists formed friendships born from that experience. Job losses led to extra free time for many Americans, who responded by volunteering in record amounts in 2020, with the American Red Cross alone seeing a 20 percent jump in new volunteer applications. Nonprofit websites that foster friendship abound, such as the U.K.-based Samaritans, which offers phone services for those in distress, and the India-founded Granny Cloud, which helps “granny” volunteers conduct virtual classes with underprivileged youth worldwide.
2. Better Social MediaTinder feels heartless, Yik Yak quickly descended into hate speech, Reddit is too often misogynistic. Is there a safe space on the internet for genuine friendship that also bridges the generational divide? Apps have emerged promising better vibes, from Librex, which seeks to promote “authentic conversations and discourse,” to Unmasked, an anonymous app fostering conversations around mental health. Still to be determined? Clubhouse, which has seen sexism and racism but has also prompted unfettered conversations for pro-democracy activists worldwide, particularly in Hong Kong and Taiwan.
READ MORE ON OZY3. The Critical Role of DnDThe massively popular YouTube show “Critical Role” documents a bunch of voice actor friends who play Dungeons & Dragons each week. Their program exploded into a stand-alone media brand after raising more than $11 million in 45 days on Kickstarter in 2019. And as DnD groups split up during the pandemic, either due to shutdowns or members moving away, players increasingly shifted online. Virtual DnD platforms such as provided a crucial lifeline, as did other online versions of popular games such as Settlers of Cataan and Pandemic, helping friends stay in touch even as in-person interactions were limited.
4. Shared MelodiesWhen an Italian living in London heard his neighbor play the piano through their shared wall, he left a note asking if they could play “My Heart Will Go On” at a specific time. Without knowing anything about each other, the pair began playing a duet at 2 p.m. each weekend. Finally, after weeks, the duo met: Giorgio Lo Porto and Emil, a 78-year-old Polish man who was living there temporarily after losing his wife to COVID in December. They played one last duet, Beethoven’s “Moonlight Sonata,” before Emil moved out in February. The story has a tearful ending, as Lo Porto shared in mid-March that he had gotten word that Emil had passed, “and now he is reunited with his wife.” It serves as a reminder of the way music can treat loneliness, and connections can be made without saying a single word.
5. Robots and Virtual RealityPeople often think of artificial intelligence and virtual reality as the province of youngsters. But the real market should be baby boomers who, while perhaps lacking some technical proficiencies, could benefit most from connectivity tech. That’s why the AARP has invested in VR programs like Alcove, which uses an Oculus headset to stream a living room that can help generations of families play board games or watch movies together across borders. Newer, friendlier robots are pioneering senior care, cheerily reminding elders to take their medicine and checking in on their emotional well-being — not to mention robot pets! The market could be lucrative, with baby boomers reporting more disposable income and twice as much median income as millennials in 2019.
READ MORE ON OZY6. Need Someone to Talk to?If you are suffering from feelings of isolation and loneliness in the United States, text the Crisis Text Line at 741741 to be connected with a trained crisis counselor.

Who are the patron saints of each military branch?

Be sure to ask these saints to protect your friends and family serving in the military!

Did you know that there are quite a few saints associated with the military? Some saints are general military patrons, some are specific to a branch, and some have even gained associations with a particular job within the military.

St. Michael the Archangel is patron of the military in general. Being an archangel, he is particularly honored by the Air Force and airborne divisions of the ground troops. Army paratroopers of the 82nd Airborne Division in Fort Bragg, NC, complete the “St. Michael’s Jump” every year in honor of their patron saint.


St. Sebastian, a Roman soldier, was particularly courageous, tough, and hard to kill. This Christian soldier became a captain in the Praetorian Guard, the emperor’s personal bodyguard. When Emperor Diocletian discovered Sebastian’s faith, he ordered him to be pierced with arrows, but incredibly, this didn’t kill him! Sebastian returned to challenge the Emperor for his cruelty to the Christians, at which point he was cudgeled to death.

St. Maurice was a Roman soldier from Egypt who eventually led the entire Theban Legion. He and his men were all Christians, and were martyred together when they refused to worship the Roman gods. St. Maurice is particularly honored by infantry units.

Servant of God Emil Kapaun was a U.S. Army chaplain who gave his life in the service of his fellow-soldiers when they were captured by Chinese forces in the Korean War. He died in a prison camp in 1951 and was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor. His body was identified just this year and returned to his home state of Kansas.

Other soldier saints include St. Martin of Tours—whose feast just happens to be today!St. Joan of Arc, St. George, St. Ignatius of Loyola, and St. John of Capistrano.

Marine Corps

The virgin-martyr St. Barbara is the patroness of both Army and Marine artillerymen. Her own father martyred her out of hatred for her Christian faith, and legend says that lightning struck him as divine punishment—hence the connection to artillery.

Another Medal of Honor recipient, Servant of God Vincent Capodanno, was a Marine chaplain who was killed in action in the Vietnam War. Stay tuned for a future Get Fed on his story!

Air Force

St. Joseph of Cupertino is a patron saint of aviators because of his habit of levitating during prayer! Our Lady of Loreto is also the patroness of aviation and air travelers, since it is said that the Holy House of Loreto—the Holy Family’s home—was carried by angels to Italy.


St. Brendan the Navigator was a 5th-6th century Irish monk who traveled by sea to spread the Faith and monasticism in other lands. He is the hero of the early medieval legend The Voyage of St. Brendan, in which he and his companions embark on an epic sea adventure to find a promised land of the saints.

These are just a few of the great saints who take care of our men and women in the military. The Catholic Company has many gifts geared to service members, such as this St. Michael medal that comes with the insignia of any military branch. We also have a wide selection of saints’ medals if your servicemember has a particular patron. Perfect Christmas gifts! Order yours today!