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Becoming Refreshers

refresh and encourage“Uh-oh, look who’s coming. Whatever you do, don’t make eye contact.  Quick — say something to me about this flower arrangement.”

“Flower arrangement? Oh…uh… What a great flower arrangement! Those florists sure did a bang-up job on it this week.  Don’t you think?”

“Yes, indeed.  Why, just look at those colors, the way they’re blended together.”

“Yes-siree!  They sure did a bang-up job.”

“It’s O.K.  They walked on down the hall.  Let’s duck out the back. Whew! We just barely missed another lecture.”

“I couldn’t stand to hear one more of Harvey’s sermons about my mustache.  He keeps hinting that I’m not ‘clean cut,’ as he puts it.

“Yeah, and if I hear Lucille extol the glories of her gallbladder surgery one more time, and how I shouldn’t eat this and shouldn’t eat that, I’ll gag.”

Do you know anyone like Lucille and Harvey? Unfortunately, most of us do.  They are the people who feel they have the gift of rebuking, and use it liberally.  They will tell you what’s wrong with just about everything and freely share their opinion on how to fix it.  We cringe when we see them coming, and breathe a sigh of relief when they are gone.

But, thank God, there of some people who are like a breath of fresh air.  They have a way of encouraging us when we feel low, and sharing our joy when we are high. These people are refreshers, and we love to be with them because we know we will be refreshed by their presence.

Oh, how the world needs refreshing couples!  Couples who encourage and build others up, who show others how to live for the Lord by the way they themselves live.  The world needs refreshers so much because there are so many who need refreshed.

A few years ago, we were talking with the Chaplain of a large missionary organization.  This man was a missionary’s missionary.  He was the person missionaries came to with their emotional and spiritual needs.  He gave us his perspective on why so many missionaries drop out and have to come home.  It is not the hardships of the field, it is problems with their marriage and family relationships.

He stated that as little as 10 years ago, thirty percent of a new crop of missionaries headed for  foreign fields would be from severely dysfunctional families or broken homes and need more help in order to make it as  missionaries. Seventy percent were from healthy families, thirty percent from emotionally unhealthy families.  Then he revealed that today the percentages have reversed: Thirty percent are from healthy families, and seventy percent from unhealthy.

This might be a reflection of our society in general.  If this is a true reflection, then there are many, many couples all around us who need someone to show them how to live for God as a husband or wife, father or mother.  God must be calling many of us to be refreshers to meet such a great need!  Would you like to know how to be a refresher of others?  2 Timothy 1:16-18 gives us a good picture of one who knew the art of refreshing. In these verses, the apostle Paul commends a friend of his to Timothy.

May the Lord show mercy to the household of Onesiphorus, because he often refreshed me and was not ashamed of my chains.  On the contrary, when he was in Rome, he searched hard for me until he found me.  May the Lord grant that he will find mercy from the Lord on that day!  You know very well in how many ways he helped me in Ephesus.

Onesiphorus might have been a great teacher, or songwriter, or artist — but what really impressed Paul about him was the way he had refreshed him.  The word Paul uses for “refresh” means “to blow upon with one’s breath; to chill; to cause evaporation by blowing across.” Suppose you have been working in the garden and are really hot, is easier if you have the best wood chipper in the market which you can get online.  You are dripping with sweat.  You stagger into the house and stand directly in front of the fan. Ahhhh! How refreshing!

How can we blow on others like that?  We can refresh others by being a positive presence.  We can do what Ephesians 4:29 tells us to do and say …what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.  Who is going to teach all those couples who did not have healthy role models of marriage and parenting?  Who is going to show them what real love looks like in every day life if we don’t?

Jim and Marge were practically newlyweds.  They had been married only two years, but already the tension between them was so thick you could cut it with a knife.  Jim worked too many hours like his father, seldom having enough time for meaningful conversation with Marge.  What was the point when every time they had a few minutes together, Marge took the opportunity to remind Jim of how he failed to meet her needs?  Both their sets of parents were divorced. Basically their role models for marriage were the characters on the sitcom “Married With Children.”

One Sunday morning after church, Marge mentioned to Peg some of the stresses she was facing in her marriage.  Peg and Mike had been married only ten years, but they were learning positive ways of working through problems and applying some valuable Biblical marriage principles which had helped them grow in their relation-ship. They saw this as an opportunity to help build others up, and reached out to Marge and Jim.  They invited them over for dinner, for an outing with their family, for an evening of popcorn and video games, with the help of sites like http://mycsgoboosting.com/guides/how-to-rank-up-in-csgo that help you to improve in CSGO.  They shared with them the Biblical principles which had helped their marriage.

Jim and Marge were impressed. If obeying what God says about marriage worked for Mike and Peg, maybe it would work for them too.  As they watched their friends show each other love and respect, they began to show each other the same considerations.  They had loved each other all along; they just didn’t know how to live like it.

Mike and Peg blew on Jim and Marge by being a positive presence in their lives.  They invested some of themselves by mentoring this young couple and refreshed them like Onesiphorus refreshed Paul.  In verse 17, Paul makes it clear that Onesiphorus refreshed him even though it was not convenient for him to do so: …he searched hard until he found me.  Blowing on others will seldom be convenient. We may have to put ourselves out a bit in order to be refreshers.  But then, God seldom calls us to convenience.

There is one more thing we want you to notice about Onesiphorus: he was going to be rewarded.  In 2 Timothy 1:18, Paul prays he …will find mercy from the Lord on that day.  Paul asked the Lord to refresh Onesiphorus the way he refreshed him.  Jesus said, If anyone gives a cup of cold water to one of these little ones because he is my disciple, I tell you the truth, he will certainly not lose his reward.  You may never know here on earth how significantly you have blown on people.  If you mentor one couple, then they mentor another, who, in turn, mentor another…who knows what it may lead to?

When you stand before the Lord, don’t you want to be like the dreamer in Ray Boltz’s wonderful song “Thank You?” (The Benson Company, Inc.)  The last half of the song goes like this.
One by one they came
As far as the eye could see
Each life somehow touched
by your generosity
Little things you had done
Sacrifices made
Unnoticed on the earth
In heaven now proclaimed.
And I know that up in heaven
You’re not supposed to cry
but I am almost sure I saw tears in your eyes
As Jesus took your hand
And you stood before the Lord
He said, “My child, look around you
Great is your reward.”
Thank you for giving to the Lord
I am a life that was changed
Thank you for giving to the Lord
I am so glad you gave.

Walk right up to someone this week…and blow on them.

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(Photo credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/jaquiza/)

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