Thank! Encourage! Build-up!

Encourage

Do you have somebody in your life who encourages you and who cheers you on?

In my last post, we learned a little bit about the baptism of Jesus. We remembered the day when Jesus was baptized, when the Holy Spirit touched Him and when God called Jesus “beloved.” We reflected upon our own baptisms remembering the fact that God has touched us in the very same way. We are loved. We are precious. God has created US and has sent US into the world to make it a better place.

And now, as we read John 1:29-42, we find another interesting story.

We read that Jesus was walking along a road one day and that John the Baptizer shouted, “Look! This is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” and, after that, John talked about what happened on the day of Jesus’ baptism. And then, John does the same thing again! It’s almost as if John the Baptizer is trying to tell people that Jesus is doing something important. John is announcing to the entire world that Jesus has been filled with the Holy Spirit, and that Jesus has been sent into the world with a special mission and purpose to fulfill.

Now let’s stop right there and think about what’s happening….

I suspect that Jesus didn’t really need John’s affirmations as He moved forward in life and ministry, but I don’t really know that. But I do know that, as WE travel through life, we all need people who thank us, who encourage us and who remind us that we’re doing God’s work. We are doing something important that’s changing lives….

You might be serving in a position of leadership at a church, or you might be helping to pack boxes at a food pantry. You might be a teacher. You might be an engineer. You may be a stay-at-home mother or father. Or, you may be one of those people who is always at work behind the curtain, so that things run smoothly in front of the curtain. You may be a parent, or a grandparent or another type of caregiver who is helping a young person to grow toward adulthood or an older person who’s slowly approaching death. You may be a musician. You may be an administrator. You may be…. You get the point.

God is at work in your life, but what God calls us to do can sometimes be both exhausting and discouraging. We’re all human, right…? We may even have times in our lives when we experience something called “compassion fatigue” that can deeply affect how we feel, and how we think about life and about what we’re doing. And that’s why we need people who thank us and encourage us and build us up as we continue to do what we’re doing.

We all like to be thanked when we’ve done something, don’t we? We all have times in our lives when we need to be reminded that we’re doing something important. We all have times in life and ministry when we need to be reminded that what we’re doing is God’s work with our very own hands.

And so, here’s what I’d like you to carry with you this week….

  1. Listen to me…. Thank you! I know that life can be challenging, but I want you to know that, even if nobody else is saying it, you’re doing something important. God wants you to know that you’re loved and that you’re precious. And God also wants you to know that, when you do what you believe you’re being called to do by God, you are doing something that’s changing lives and helping our world to be a much better place for us all. Thank you!
  2. ¬†And now watch this…. Other people are experiencing exactly what you experience. They’re fighting on the front line beside you. They’re trying their best to live and to do what they believe God wants them to be doing in a crazy world. And, sometimes, they also need to hear the very same words that I just addressed to you…

Be like John the Baptizer in the coming days. Look for the face of Jesus in the people who are around you and examine the many ways that people are doing what they think God wants them to do. Thank them. Encourage them. Build them up, and help them see that they’re doing something important as they invest their time and lives in other people.

Click Here for This Week’s Message

 

Read Through the Bible – Week 29

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Welcome back to “Read Through the Bible”

I want to begin, this week, by congratulating you. Many people tell me that they would like to read through the Bible, but many of those same people tell me that they’ve never done it for one reason or another. Reading through the entire Bible can seem to be a big and unmanageable task, but even large and unmanageable tasks can be accomplished by taking small, consistent steps forward on a daily basis. And I’m hoping that this weekly “Read Through the Bible” addition to my blog has helped you to develop a daily pattern of taking time to read God’s Word and to think about what God’s saying to you.

I’ve always found it hard to read the book of Proverbs.

When I’m reading through the book of Proverbs, it’s almost like I’m being blasted with a whole bunch of different and unrelated ideas at the same time. A single chapter of the book of Proverbs can present dozens of different ideas. This week, our reading from the book of Proverbs will speak about: false scales, wealth, living a good life, the righteous being delivered from trouble, spreading false information about others, our need to have worthy counselors, posting a bond for others, gracious women and violent men, crooked hearts, etc. I could go on and on and on….

But, one proverb that stands-out to me says: “Whoever belittles his neighbor lacks sense, but the man of understanding remains silent. Whoever goes about slandering reveals secrets, but he who is trustworthy in spirit keeps a thing covered.” (Proverbs 11:12-13)

Friendships are often marked by the sharing of secrets. Friends talk with us about things that are happening in their lives that they don’t want to share with other people. Friends sometimes tell us about painful experiences in their pasts, or about the very, real battles that they’re facing right now. And the question always is: “What do I do with information that friends share with me?”

Private information can become the topic of gossip – and it can be used to destroy the reputations of other people. Private information that friends share with us can be freely spread during conversations that should probably never happen, or it can be kept “covered” as Proverbs 11:13 suggests. And that’s something we need to think about when friends share private information believing that we’ll keep private information private.

And so, this week, as we continue our journey through the book of Proverbs, I’d like to challenge you to think about what you do when your friends and family members share private information with you. Do you spread what you’ve learned, or do you keep what you’ve learned buried deep in your heart? Do you share what you’ve been told through gossip as soon as you have a chance, or do you carry the private information that’s been entrusted to you by a person who trusts you both “covered” and “unrevealed”?

Here’s this week’s readings:

Sunday: Colossians 3-4 – Monday: Leviticus 16-18 – Tuesday: 2 Kings 11-15 – Wednesday: Psalms 84-86 – Thursday: Proverbs 11-12 – Friday: Ezekiel 31-36 – Saturday: Luke 21-22

The Gift of One Another

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Tomorrow is St. Valentine’s Day!

I’ll be stopping at the Hallmark store on my way home from work today. My wife told me that she’s already purchased some special treats that she’ll prepare for tomorrow night’s dinner, and I’m looking forward to a quiet night at home. The relationships that we share with other people are important, aren’t they? Whether we are married or not – we all have people who are important to us, and who share our joys and sorrows.

Did you know that relationships with others are a gift of God that are created to satisfy one of the deepest longings in the human soul? In the Beginning, God created rivers and birds and beasts and trees. The Bible tells us that God created ADAM from the dust of the earth and that God filled ADAM with “spirit” – the “breath of life.” And then, there was a great, big parade. The Bible tells us that God marched elephants, tigers, bears, zebras, giraffes, pygmy goats, chipmunks and even some raccoons in front of ADAM; and God asked ADAM to give each of them a name. And God did that because God was hoping that ADAM would be so delighted with one of the animals that it would become his “partner.” But it didn’t happen – and a great, gray sadness came over the earth.

It is not good that the man should be alone,” God said. (Genesis 2:18) God knew that “it is not good” for any of us to travel through life alone. And so, God decided to give all of us the “gift of other people” who celebrate the best moments in our lives, and who hold us in their arms and bear us up when life gets tough. God decided to give all of us the precious “gift of other people” because God knows that we all need to feel a sense of connection to something other than ourselves.

But, it’s not always easy to live with those “other people,” is it? We, sometimes, take each other for granted and argue about things that aren’t really important. Many of us bury our faces in our Smartphone these days – while time that we can never get back trickles away.

In this week’s message, “The Gift of One Another”, we’re called to think about that – and we’re invited to explore what “real love” looks like in human relationships. We’re going to explore what it means to share life with other people that God has brought into our lives to become members of our “team.”

I wish you many blessings as you celebrate St. Valentine’s Day tomorrow. And I hope that you’ll all take some time, tomorrow, to think about the relationships you share with ALL of the people that God’s brought into your life. It is not good for any of us to travel through life alone – and that’s why God gives us “The Gift of One Another” in order to satisfy one of the deepest longings in our soul.

Blessings!