Archives For Encourage

Perspective Matters

September 15, 2017 — Leave a comment

Have you ever considered that the way we view ourselves impacts how we use the gifts we have received?  Secondly, have you ever considered that the way we view other people would impact how we serve them—or how we ignore or use them?

If we are truly seeking to love God with our whole being and to love others like ourselves, we need to wrestle with these two questions.

Copyright: Mattz90 DepositPhoto ID: 50713175

I have to admit; I wasn’t planning to write a post here today.  But, after reading two allegedly unrelated blog posts from friends in a Facebook group, the wheels started turning.  I knew I just had to share something here.

I have always been amazed at the power of self-deception.  So when I saw the title of K L Greenwalt ‘s article, I couldn’t help but click to read “Why You Can’t Trust How You See Yourself.”  She shared a personal story with a big lesson. Continue Reading…

Up till now, I’ve been trying to help us understand the need for encouragement in our day. In Part 1, we explored the impact of a culture that focuses on the negative. In Part 2, we considered the impact of fear-based marketing tactics. We could continue to explore the reasons people need to be encouraged. But, I’d like to shift the focus to the positive.

A little encouragement can make a big difference. You can even start small.

Encouragement tip #1: Validate Existence!

Some people have been so abused or neglected by so many people, that just saying hello will make a difference in their day.

For example, the movie musical, Chicago, has a sad-sack character, Amos Hart, who exemplifies this. His big solo reveals the depth of his self-esteem crisis…

John C. Reilly as Amos Hart. Photo: https://www.facebook.com/ChicagoMovie

John C. Reilly as Amos Hart.
Photo: https://www.facebook.com/ChicagoMovie

And even without clucking like a hen
everyone gets noticed, now and then,
Unless, of course, that personage should be
Invisible, inconsequential me!

Cellophane
Mister Cellophane
Should have been my name!!!!
Mister cellophane
’cause you can look right through me
Walk right by me
And never know I’m there!

Now, his character is written to be somewhat likable and largely pathetic at the same time. John C. Reilly does a masterful job at portraying this. As if the lines above don’t paint enough of a picture, when the lawyer (played by Richard Gere) suggests Amos should divorce his wife, Amos rises to his feet and shouts, “I’ll divorce her!” Then he catches himself and says, “She probably won’t even notice.”

Continue Reading…

What comes to mind when you hear the term, The Battle Is the Lord’s?  or The Battle Belongs to the Lord?

Does the military imagery trouble you? Are you OK with the military imagery but troubled that our part seems to be too passive?

Image by 3dconceptsman DepositPhotos #19467907

Do you ask yourself, if the battle belongs to the Lord, then what do l DO?  Do I just sit here and do nothing?  Well, sometimes the answer is yes.  Other times, the answer might be different.

Be Still

When the Israelites were rescued out of slavery in Egypt, God was setting a trap for their captors that would include rescuing His chosen people while punishing their captors but His own people couldn’t see past the obstacle in front of them.

When they saw the vast Red Sea before them, they complained to Moses that they should never have left Egypt. Continue Reading…

Be Kind: We’re All in a Battle.

My first two posts on Encourage and Equip were designed to lay a foundation for why we need encouragers so much in our day (Why Pt. 1, Why Pt. 2).  However, there is one area I really wanted to write about because it is so critical. But, I wasn’t sure people were ready to receive the message. I wasn’t quite sure how to communicate the message clearly without sounding like an alarmist, a religious nut or fanatic.

At the very core of my being, my heart cries out that the reason we need to encourage people is that we are all in a battle.  Most people don’t even realize it.  Those who are aware of the battle tend to underestimate the opposition–It’s much more than a pillow fight!

The Foundation

At the heart of my thinking on encouragement Continue Reading…

I had the honor of guest blogging on the Defying Shadows website today as part of their #Fearless365 series. I was able to share some personal reflections on Luke 5:10 and part of my own testimony as I related to Jesus inviting Simon Peter to a career upgrade.  The following originally appeared at https://defyingshadows.com/2017/03/03/fearless365-luke-510/.

 

and so were James and John, the sons of Zebedee, Simon’s partners. Then Jesus said to Simon, “Don’t be afraid; from now on you will fish for people.”

Luke 5:10

I can empathize with Simon Peter. When Jesus spoke the words, “Don’t be afraid”, he knew that the Holy Spirit was at work in Simon’s heart.

Exhausted after a long night of commercial fishing with nothing to show for his efforts, Simon agreed to let Jesus use his boat as a platform to address the gathered crowd on the shore. Simon continued to wash his nets while listening to the master teacher at work. When Jesus finished, he told Simon to go out into deep water and let down the nets for a catch. The experienced fisherman surely knew it would be fruitless to expect to catch fish in the heat of the day. But, something inside compelled him to follow the teacher’s suggestion.

I can imagine Simon’s shock as the image of his formerly empty nets contrasts with the nets that were now so full that he had to call to his partners to help bring in the catch. Continue Reading…

Happy Thanksgiving

November 25, 2015

I have so much to be grateful for.  Sometimes, it’s so easy to take our blessings for granted.

I pray that our hearts would overflow with thanksgiving for the many ways that God has blessed us.

Johnson Oatman, the hymn writer, urged us to count our blessings and to name them one by one.  I have listed some of mine below.  How about you?  Care to share in the comments some of your blessings?

Depositphotos_54943239_500w4Webl

I am especially grateful for:

  • making it through another year.
  • the chance to finish and publish a book–with the help of many friends and family.
  • my family and the chance to be together to celebrate God, life, and each other.
  • friends (both from
  • the chance to serve as an Intentional Transitional Minister and help prepare a church for their next Senior Pastor.
  • the chance to serve as a Marketing Coordinator for by design ministries.
  • opportunities to write or teach knowing that God might choose to bless someone through my ministry.
  • the prospects of what God has in store for the next twelve months.
  • YOU.  Thank you for reading, liking, and sharing posts, tweets and status updates throughout the year.

Photo credit:  DepositPhotos.com 54943239 by PixelsAway

I have two questions for you.

  1. Do you have a safe place?
    A judgement-free zone.  A place where you can feel free to share what’s on your mind without worrying that people will be so scandalized they’ll never talk to you again.
  2. Do you have a stretching place that challenges you?
    A mediocrity-free zone. A place that inspires you and motivates you to be better.

We need both. We need a place where we can be accepted as we are AND a place where we can be challenged to be more than we ever thought we could be. We need a place that can handle the worst in us AND a place that brings out the best in us.

We call it “a safe place” or “a stretching place”, but really the “place” is secondary to the relationships that happen there. The people are what makes the place scary or safe–discouraging or encouraging.

BigStockPhoto.com 65273749 Leungchopan

BigStockPhoto.com 65273749 Leungchopan

A Great Example

As Christ-followers, we have the greatest example of this concept.  God saved us by grace while we were still in sin and had nothing to offer him.  He knew who we were and that we were incapable of pleasing him in our own strength.  But he choose to love, save and even adopt us into his family.  We were accepted and adopted as we were.  THEN, God sets out to help build us into a new creation to display his glory to the world.  Consider these three examples. Continue Reading…

So, on Monday, I shared how much I enjoyed Easter Sunday.  What I didn’t mention was that I was a little surprised.  You see, I can be one of those people who tend to think we shouldn’t need a “special day” every year to celebrate something that we should be celebrating every day.  Do we really have to wait till Thanksgiving Day to be grateful?  Do we have to wait for Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, etc to show our favorite people how much we care about them?  Shouldn’t we be mindful every day of the amazing fact that God, the Son left His place in heaven to take the human form–even a newborn infant, a suffering servant, a crucified sin-bearer, and a risen savior?

But, then I get a day like this past Sunday.  Even though I do try to be mindful of all we have because of Jesus, somehow it all came into an even sharper focus this past Easter.

Photo Credit:  http://www.bigstockphoto.com/image-1444495 by McIninch

Photo Credit: http://www.bigstockphoto.com/image-1444495 by McIninch

On the family and fun side, two of my kids were able to come home for Easter dinner and brought a good friend from Gordon College.  I even made a quick dash to the local CVS to pick up the usual bunnies and chocolate eggs.  Even at my ripe old age, I can still remember waking up in my single-digit years and seeing the kitchen table filled with goodies.  OK, so I do realize we are talking about a spiritual holiday, but family fun is good, too.

On the spiritual side, I began to ponder anew on the wonders of the resurrection and what that can mean and should mean in my daily life. Continue Reading…

I really enjoyed yesterday.  It was Easter Sunday–a day that can embody all the best of faith and family. Plus, the weather was great. Two of my three kids were able to come back home and enjoy a great dinner together with an extra friend.  It was just a really good day.   Church was very nice.  Somehow songs about the resurrection took on a whole new significance.

He didn't stay on the cross.  Because He Lives, I can...

istockphoto.com 9332062

The pastor referred to Dr. Tony Campolo and his, now classic, sermon.  My daughter wasn’t aware of the message so it gave me an excuse to look it up so I could send her a link.  It is truly a great message. Toward the end, Tony shared his memories of preaching at a “preach off” at an African-American church.  One of the preachers did a 90 minutes focused on one phrase.  He would describe the followers of Christ in various stages of despair seeing Jesus on the cross.  Then the pastor would say, but they didn’t know.  “It’s Friday but Sunday’s a comin'”.

It also made me remember the opening line of a sermon I heard about this time over thirty years ago.  “The problem with many Christians is that they are living on the wrong side of Easter.”

You see, before the resurrection, it’s a little easier to understand how some people can tend to give up hope. I can’t really imagine what that first Good Friday must have felt like.  Not knowing what would occur in two short days, it’s understandable that they would feel that all was lost.

However, the sadder truth, is that so often knowing what already did happen on the first Resurrection Day, we can fall into old patterns of despair and disillusionment or just distraction and drifting through life.

I woke up this morning thinking about both of those older sermons and reminded myself that even though it is Monday, Sunday’s not coming.  It already came.  I don’t need to wait for the power of the resurrection in my life, I need to live in it. Continue Reading…

So often, we attend church services all scrubbed up and looking our best.  On the outside, we probably look like we have it all together and life is just one giant juicy peach.  For some of us, that might represent reality for the moment.  For so many others, that perception is just a thin veneer covering over a myriad of hurts, struggles, challenges, confusion and doubts. Not that we are deliberately hiding things. We may not want to bother others with our problems.  We may just enjoy a break from dwelling on them.  Regardless of how together people might seem, most likely, they still need some word of encouragement because walking by faith is challenging and increasingly challenged.

 

Classic image of a boy with his angellic self on one shoulder and his demonic self on the other shoulder.

Walking by Faith

The Christ-follower lives by faith.  “Without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists… (Hebrews 11:6 NIV)”  The Apostle John wrote his Gospel so we would believe. Paul tells us, “The path we walk is charted by faith, not by what we see with our eyes.” (2 Corinthians 5:7 VOICE)

We place our confidence, our faith, in an unseen Creator God whose ways and very nature amaze and confound the wisest among us.  However, by his grace, he has revealed enough about himself for us to trust him for the aspects we don’t yet understand.  That is the very essence of walking by faith.  It is not a blind faith that hopes (with fingers crossed) that we have made a good choice.  Based on the evidence and experiences we have already evaluated, we make a conscious choice to trust God for the rest.  Faith is central to our walk, but so often…

Walking by Faith is Challenging

Even John the Baptist had second thoughts about Jesus–whom he had baptized and declared Continue Reading…