Wednesday, February 25, 2009

The Power of Encouragement

There is nothing like getting an encouragement card, note, or letter. When something like this is received, it can really pick you up, no matter how down you are. Because of this I have files where I save the notes and cards that are given to me. I have been keeping these files for at least 15 years now. Sometimes when I am feeling a little down, I will pull out some of these cards and read them. It doesn't take long for me to be smiling and feeling better.
In Hebrews 3:13 we read: "But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called Today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin's deceitfulness." We are challenged to be encouragers; to encourage each other every day! Why? Because without encouragement, life will beat us down, and we will be deceived into thinking that we aren't good, or talented, or good looking, or wanted, or loved. We will doubt our abilities, and our hearts will become hard.
An encourager is actually like a heater, where you are able to warm someone up. You are able to take their cold, hard, heart, and bless it so that they are on fire for life, on fire for God, on fire to live a wonderful life. Encouragement is powerful. Encouragement can change lives. I hope you will join with me and find ways to be an encourager each and every day!

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

To Be Blessed

I'm sure you have heard people say, "I am so blessed." But what does it mean to be blessed; what does it feel to be blessed? Is it a warm fuzzy feeling? Is it like eating homemade pie? Is it like sitting in front of a fireplace on a colder winter's day?
I came across some sentiments of blessing that might give some insight:
May the blessing of the rain be on you—
the soft sweet rain.
May it fall upon your spirit
so that all the little flowers may spring up...

May the good earth be soft under you
when you rest upon it,
and may it rest easy over you when,
at the last, you lay out under it...

Dear Lord,
Give me a few friends

who will love me for what I am,
and keep ever burning
before my vagrant steps
the kindly light of hope...
And though I come not within sight
of the castle of my dreams,
teach me to be thankful for life...

In these sentiments we see that blessings come in the form of rain, soft earth, good friends, and a thankfulness for life even if all the dreams are not reached. But is that all that there is to blessing? A little rain, and some good friends? Or is there more?
I venture to say that there is more. I believe in a God who wants to lavish blessing upon His children as a parent lavishes gifts on their child. In Proverbs 10:6 we are told: "Blessings crown the head of the righteous..." The Bible tells us that the righteous are those who put their faith in Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord. Those who are in Christ are blessed; blessed in many ways. Blessed in love, as they are filled with the love of God. Blessed in forgiveness, because in Christ all our sins are forgiven. Blessed in joy, because we can know that God will work all things out for the good to those who love the Lord. Blessed in peace, as God helps us to not worry. And on and on it goes. God gives us one blessing after another!
And what does this blessing feel like? It feels like HOPE. What I mean by this is that because we know that God blesses us, we have hope at all times and in all circumstances. No matter what is happening, we know there is hope to find blessing in the midst of it. No matter what mistakes we make, we know that there is hope for redemption, reconciliation, and correction. And it feels like SECURITY. WE can be secure in our knowledge that God is there to care for us, and protect us, and hold us. This is what it feels to be blessed when you know Jesus.
I hope you know Jesus. If you don't, you can by asking Him to forgive you of your sins, and tell Him you want to give Him your life. When you do this, you will be blessed every day of your life!

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Jesus is Coming

Think about a time you invited someone over to your house, maybe even for dinner. As the time approached you were excited about them coming, but you were also concerned about having everything ready; the table set, the pot roast prepared, the house clean, getting yourself dressed, etc. It was a joyous, but nerve racking time.
I think the idea of Jesus coming is a similar experience. We are excited at this idea. When Jesus returns it will mean we will get to see him face to face. When Jesus comes we will get to experience His presence. When Jesus comes we will get to ask Him all of our questions. When Jesus comes we will get to learn so much more than we know now!
But, on the other side, we are a little anxious. Am I ready for Jesus to come? Do I have my house in order? I don't mean our literal house, I mean our mind, body, and spirit (the temple of God). Am I ready for Jesus to return? Are you?
This puts the challenge to me; to us. It causes me to reflect on how I am living my life. Will Jesus be please with who I am? With how I am treating others? With the ministry I am doing? And as I think about this I can overall say that I am doing pretty well. Of course there is always room for improvement.
And this area of improvement is exactly what I need to focus on. I want to let this blog challenge me to lift before me the areas where I fall short. Not as a judgment against me, but as an opportunity to be reminded of who God wants me to be. And I hope this blog prods your thinking to do the same.
Tell me what you think.

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Learning from our Mistakes

From the time we are born to the time that we die, we will makes mistakes. If you think about it, more often than not, the way we learn is by making mistakes. I remember when I was first learning to play the saxophone. My poor parents had to listen to me make mistake after mistake. Being that a saxophone is made out of metal, it is loud, but it also has a reed, so it is squeaky. Each time I would make a mistake, it would remind me of how I needed to improve and what I needed to work on.
The challenge with making mistakes, is to not let them get us frustrated. This is a real possibility in life. We can either let our mistakes cause us to get frustrated (so much so that sometimes we might want to quit), or they can lead us to determinedly work harder and get better, stronger, or more capable.
Too often we don't learn from our mistakes, only to make those same mistakes again. It would be nice if we had a big mauve eraser that could erase our mistakes away. But this is not reality. The better route is to learn from our mistakes. to ask the important questions that will help us grow and progress so that we might know what God wants us to know and live as God calls us to live!
When I would practice my saxophone, once I made a mistake, I would stop, go back to that place, and work it over slowly again and again until I got it right. This can be a good lesson for life. When the mistake is made, go over it again and again until you figure out how to do it right. If you were unforgiving, then go to the person and forgive them. If you struggle to forgive them, pray about it day after day until God puts forgiveness in your heart for them.
Don't let your mistakes get the best of you. Let them be your teacher. In this way you will become all that God wants you to be.