A Guide for Reducing Anxiety


Do you worry about your place in life, in this world, in the body of Christ?

Do you worry about whether you’re in the right career or on a high-enough rung on the ladder?

Do you worry about being single or whether your future is bright or bleak?

In other words, do you worry if you’re living out God’s will for your life or if you’re missing out?

God wants you NOT to worry! There are two categories in life that you can allocate everything to: Things you cannot control, and things you can control.

Let God take care of the things you cannot control

Focus on the things you CAN control, and let God take care of the rest. In doing so, you are exercising your faith and trust in God! You are opening yourself up to see how God takes care of you every day with the things that you cannot influence, whether you are worrying about them or not. Luke 12:22-26 says:

"Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; or about your body, what you will wear. For life is more than food, and the body more than clothes. Consider the ravens: They do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them. And how much more valuable you are than birds! Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to your life? Since you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest?"

This passage offers assurance that no living creature is insignificant to God, least of all his beloved people! What are you worrying about today? Practice giving God “the rest” by offering your worries in prayer and disallowing those thoughts to come back so that you can focus on the specific tasks you can control.

Prepare for the things you can control

The Bible provides great direction on the ways you can conduct your life that contribute towards a positive future; these are things you can control. Discipline your mind, your thoughts, and your heart to put yourself in place to receive God’s blessing when it’s ready for you. 1 Peter 5:6-7 advises:

"Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you."

Philippians 4:8-9 is a fantastic passage that actually teaches you how to discipline your thoughts and actions:

"Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you."

God wants you to be the kind of person marked by self-control, peace, patience, and kindness. You may not be able to control the timing of certain events in your life, but you can control your attitude and actions. Leave the rest to God.

Pray for peace and guidance

If you focus on the things you cannot control, you will be filled with stress and anxiety because you aren’t meant to control every aspect of your life. Live with faith that God is good and He wants the best for you like a father, and that he will bring the next good thing into your life. The serenity prayer can help you to start a conversation with God in which you take measurable steps to trust in Him:

God, give us grace to accept with serenity

the things that cannot be changed,

Courage to change the things

which should be changed,

and the Wisdom to distinguish

the one from the other.


Living one day at a time,

Enjoying one moment at a time,

Accepting hardship as a pathway to peace,

Taking, as Jesus did,

This sinful world as it is,

Not as I would have it,

Trusting that You will make all things right,

If I surrender to Your will,

So that I may be reasonably happy in this life,

And supremely happy with You forever in the next.


13 Ways to Volunteer in Boston this Holiday Season


The good news of Jesus transforms every aspect of our lives. It changes our hearts to generously serve God and others. At Renewal, we believe that we should actively work to make Boston a better place for all of its residents. We want to dream about what Boston could be at its best, then work together to bring that to reality.

This holiday season, we invite you to serve and love the city through volunteering. There is no shortage of research in psychology that outlines the benefits of volunteerism to one’s character, emotional maturity, and happiness. Below are 13 serving opportunities available in and around Boston. Grab your friend, family, pet, or running shoes and get involved in these one-time or ongoing needs.

The first opportunity we’re excited to share is the Christmas Festival that Renewal is hosting for the families at Mary Ellen McCormack housing development on Sunday 12/17 at 3pm. There will be festive games, hot chocolate, Christmas music, ugly sweaters and other things merry and bright! We’re hoping to see over 100 smiling faces and invite you to be part of that! For more details, email us at RenewalConnect@gmail.com.

  1. CraftBoston Holiday 2017

    December 13-17  |   Hynes Convention Center

    The Society of Arts + Crafts

    Volunteers Needed: Set-Up/Take-Down; Registration/Ticket Sales; Preview Party Assistance; Greeter; Booth Sitter; Postcards & Marketing

    Support the nation’s oldest craft nonprofit! This event hosts craft artists from all around the country. Guests meet and interact with the artists who make handmade goods using centuries-old skills in mediums like ceramics, fiber, glass, metal, and wood.

    Link to Volunteer!



    December 16  |  Boston

    Emmanuel Music

    Volunteers Needed: Ushers; Greeters; Ticketers; Concessions

    Volunteer during this performance which traces the events of the Christmas season from the birth of Jesus to the arrival and worship of the Magi. Volunteers are needed until intermission, and are invited to stay for the performance. Food will be provided.

    Link to Volunteer!

  3. 2017 Somerville Jingle Bell 5K Run

    December 17  |   Davis Square

    Somerville Striders Athletic Club

    Volunteers Needed: Race-Day Support; Unwrapped Toy or Gift Card to Donate

    Volunteer on Race Day to be part of an exciting and energetic event! Races are among the most popular types of events to volunteer for, thanks in part to the social and friendly atmosphere!

    Contact Paul Collyer for information about volunteering: BAEvents@aol.com

  4. Level Ground Mixed Martial Arts

    Ongoing Dates  |   Jamaica Plain, Remote

    Committed Long-Term Volunteering Opportunities

    Volunteers Needed: Marketing; Finance; Fundraising; Grant Writing; Website Development or Maintenance; Graphic Design

    Level Ground is a nonprofit that helps urban youth develop the skills to set and reach goals through the discipline of mixed martial arts. It primarily serves young adults between the ages of 14 - 24 who are exposed to a disproportionate level of violence, poverty, and lack of access to education. Volunteers are needed to help with the tasks of building and growing the presence of the organization in Boston!

    Contact Ali Fuller about volunteering: ali.levelgroundmma@gmail.com

  5. Youth Enrichment Services (YES)

    Ongoing Dates  |   Boston, Metro Boston

    Committed Long-Term Volunteering Opportunities

    Volunteers Needed: Track & Field Coaches; Career Mentors; Professional Committee Members; Gala Planning Committee Members

    YES provides affordable and impactful sports-based youth development and leadership programming, reaching low-to-moderate income children and teens in Dorchester, Roxbury, and Mattapan. If you’re seeking an opportunity to positively and personally impact lives, consider these adult volunteer opportunities!

    Link to Volunteer!

  6. Enroot Education

    Ongoing Dates  |   Cambridge, Somerville

    Committed Long-Term Volunteering Opportunities

    Volunteers Needed: Mentors; Tutors; Career Mentors

    Enroot empowers students to achieve academic, career, and personal success through inspiring out-of-school experiences. Students attend Cambridge Rindge & Latin School (CRLS) or Somerville High School (SHS) and are immigrants to the US. Many are from low-income families. Most are the first in their family to consider going to college. Mentors meet with their mentee once a week for 1-2 hours and receive training.

    Link to Volunteer!

  7. East Boston Neighborhood Health Center (EBNHC)

    Ongoing Dates  |   Cambridge, Somerville

    Committed Long-Term Volunteering Opportunities

    Volunteers Needed: Cleaning, Sorting, and Distributing Produce

    EBNHC is looking for individuals and groups to help distribute bags of fresh vegetables and bread to members of the community. Distributions are the third Friday of the month and volunteers are needed between 12:45 pm and 2:30 pm. Volunteers will sort and clean produce and help pack bags. All volunteers receive a bag of produce to take home.

    Link to Volunteer!

  8. Budget Buddies

    Ongoing Dates  |   Chelmsford, Haverhill

    Committed Long-Term Volunteering Opportunities

    Volunteers Needed: Financial Mentor; Grant research; Fundraising and other special events; Community outreach; Child care; Marketing and Communications

    Budget Buddies helps low-income women become more economically self-sufficient and transform their lives by teaching them core money-management skills and pairing them with personal financial coaches. An hour a week of your time can start a woman in your community on the road to financial independence! As a volunteer coach, you’ll provide ongoing, one-to-one support for your client. Sign up for an informational meeting to learn more.

    Link to Volunteer!

  9. FriendshipWorks

    Ongoing Dates  |   Boston, Greater Boston Area

    Committed Long-Term Volunteering Opportunities

    Volunteers Needed: Friendly Visiting; Medical Escorts; Friendly Helping; PetPals; MusicWorks

    A most rewarding experience, you can volunteer to be matched with ongoing or one-time assistance to an elder in need! Visit an elder for conversation, music appreciation, assist with small tasks, or a pet visit! Time and company are wonderful gifts to give this holiday season.

    Link to Volunteer!

  10. Boston Chinatown Neighborhood Center

    Ongoing Dates  |   Boston, Quincy

    Committed Long-Term Volunteering Opportunities

    Volunteers needed: Program Volunteer; Early Education Volunteer; Special Events and Communications; Tutor for Children or Adults; College Access Mentor; Art Center Volunteer

    BCNC helps families through child enrichment programs, education and workforce initiatives, and community engagement. Volunteer to support your neighbors to reach their goals and become successful in Boston!

    Link to Volunteer!

  11. YMCA of Greater Boston

    Ongoing Dates  |   Boston, 

    Committed Long-Term Volunteering Opportunities

    Volunteers Needed: Job Training; International Learning Center; Housing Community; Summer Food Program; Financial Assistance

    Volunteer alongside Boston’s business professionals, industry leaders, retired individuals, college students, and many others to help individuals learn the skills they need to gain employment or other resources. Many volunteer opportunities are done over the phone or via email, and other opportunities take place in the Boston office.

    Link to Volunteer!

  12. Big Sister Association of Boston

    Ongoing Dates  |   Boston, Metro Boston

    Committed Long-Term Volunteering Opportunities

    Volunteers Needed: Mentors

    Join the sisterhood of more than 2,400 women who are getting #Girls2Great! Being a Big Sister is about being present, not perfect. It's about developing a rewarding friendship with a girl based on having fun, learning, and growing together.

    Link to Volunteer!


Are You Man Enough for God?


How do you measure strength as a man, and where do you draw the line between balancing it and misusing it? Abuse strength and you’re projecting a macho persona to fulfill your own agenda. Lack in strength and you become so passive that it becomes a weakness where you refuse to take responsibility or lead in the way God calls you.

If you’re trying to walk the path to become a true and Godly man, you need to find this balance. In that just-right point on the spectrum, you can realize God’s purpose in you. The bible teaches you to balance physical strength with courage, and to allow God’s spirit to strengthen you through your weaknesses. 

"But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong." (ESV)

 2 Corinthians 12:9-10          

Having the courage to hold back in the face of difficult situations and not exerting force will allow you to balance and build strength within yourself and understand that certain circumstances are not for you to control or handle.

When you reach the point in life where you’re planning for or raising a family, you want to be aware of the type of person you are modeling for your son or daughter. Embracing the strength God gave you to serve other people gives you the opportunity to model the way of Jesus.

Jesus used his strength with compassion to serve, love, and care for people in his life. We want our boys and girls to grow up respecting one another, serving others, and fulfilling God’s purpose for them, too.

(Photo by Mubariz Mehdizadeh on Unsplash)


Why Self-Discovery isn't Enough for Your Single Life

In Sunday's sermon I mentioned that the dominant narrative around the purpose of singleness is self-discovery. People think of singleness as a time to discover their sexuality, personality, and preferences. This in turn helps them to pick a partner they are compatible with, which in turn will help them to stay married. I also mentioned that I think this is inadequate for 3 reasons (but I only told you one of those reasons). So here are all three reasons I think the self-discovery narrative is inadequate.

[Just a quick note that the sermon itself makes clear that I do not believe the purpose of singleness is marriage-preparation, but this post engages that cultural idea directly, thus is concerned with that one aspect of singleness.]

First, the absolute worst way to prepare to spend the rest of your life confined in a small space with another sinner you have vowed never to leave is to spend a decade focusing on yourself. The exact opposite is true; the best way to prepare for marriage is to spend your life in an others-focused way, considering their wants, needs, and desires as more significant than your own. Self-discovery is a good thing, it's just a wholly inadequate way to prepare you for the kind of radically other-focused existence that marriage requires.

Second, I reject that knowing yourself translates to your ability to pick a healthy partner. The logic goes that when you know yourself you are able to pick someone who is "right" for you, but I don't think you can know another person well enough to make that kind of decision with any sort of accuracy. Knowing yourself may increase your odds of picking a healthy partner, but I maintain that marriage partner picking is fundamentally a crap-shoot. 

Finally, I reject that picking a mate with whom you are compatible will lead to a healthy marriage. I believe that compatibility is a myth that we tell ourselves to buttress our increasingly selfish notions that we will find someone who will not require us to change. So if we can find the "perfectly compatible" person then marriage will require nothing of us but to just be ourselves. Sound too good to be true? It is. 

Marriage requires you to change, it requires you to be radically other-focused, and it requires you to adjust to the fact that you picked the wrong person because eventually we are all the wrong person. The success of your marriage might be beyond your control if your spouse decides to leave, but so far as it depends on you, marriage succeeds to the degree that you spend your singleness learning commitment to difficult ideals, faithfulness in little things, self-sacrifice, and self-knowledge (to the degree that self-knowledge pushes you to change and grow). Self-discovery is a good thing, it just can't deliver everything it promises in our modern age of singleness.

Trusting God Through Grief

 Photo by  Ben White  on  Unsplash

Photo by Ben White on Unsplash

 The 3 wise men weren't there when Jesus was born. 

In my mind, there they are gifts in hand with the shepherds, and angels, and Mary and Joseph, and the animals. And of course that's how I picture it because that's literally every nativity scene that's ever been created. But the Bible records that they came 2 years after Jesus was born (Matthew 2:16). And when they visited Joseph and Mary and gave their gifts they went home another way because they were "warned in a dream not to return to Herod."

When Herod (who was the current king over the Jews) heard that there was a future king of the Jews born in Bethlehem he did what any king would do who is rational and completely a-moral. He killed every child 2 years old and under to make sure that no one would ever displace him or his sons from the throne.

I'm thinking about those families without baby boys. Which parents woke to the horror of losing their boy? Which families lost two sons in the same day? Who lived with lifelong guilt over having only baby girls, or a 3 year old boy? Who wondered,-although they knew they shouldn't even care-if their 2 year old daughter would be able to find a husband years from now?

And I'm thinking about God, who knew that sending his Son into the world would be not only costly for the Son and the Father, but costly for those families as well. The blessing that came out of Bethlehem certainly didn't feel like a blessing to those families, certainly not initially. Did the town of Bethlehem make this connection between the coming of Jesus and the genocide of their children (at the hand of Herod) later when Jesus began to minister? Did this make faith difficult for them?

Now two thousand years removed we can say, that is a sure tragedy but look what came out of it. Surely the salvation of people from every nation, the kingship of Jesus, the establishing of the church, was worth the cost. But oh what faith it takes to believe in the love of the Father when you are experiencing the stone of grief hung round your neck.

God often allows more than we think he should. But our faith rests in this promise: God's work ultimately does overcome the heinousness of sin, the sting of death, and the work of Satan in our world. The work of God in our lifetime may cause Satan to crack his whip in defiance. We may feel the sting of Satan, Sin, and Death most acutely in this world. But take heart, He has overcome the world.

"Weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes with the morning."
Psalm 30:5