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Posts Tagged ‘encouragement’

I am awaiting surgery to have yet another hip replacement. My most recent replacement (2014) has recently failed and broken pieces are protruding into my pelvis. There is concern that an artery could be poked so I am on crutches and waiting for ‘the call’ to go into hospital.

Since I am not going to be able to minister in traditional ways as a pastor’s wife (such as having group Bible studies at the church) I will be writing posts to share things God is teaching me. God commands the older women to teach the younger in Titus 2. There are many things I am still learning or have learned the hard way over the years. By God’s grace, and with His leading, I hope to encourage you in your walk with God. I am calling these posts Titus 2 Thoughts. I will be posting these on my blog, PurpleGrandma.com. Please sign up to receive these in your e-mail feed if you are interested in receiving these directly.

I wrote the following recently with ministry women in mind, but the principles apply to us all. Do what God has given you to do for now. Do it with all your heart. Do it as unto the Lord. Do not always be wishing you could be in a different place doing different things than what God has allowed for now.

I would appreciate your prayers for both the surgery and the writing.

As a young ministry wife and mother of five small children, I often felt dissatisfied with all the maintenance work that fell to me just to keep our family functioning. This was not what I had envisioned as ministry efforts! Cooking, cleaning, laundry, and, in the years that we homeschooled, teaching, wore me out and consumed most of my days. Yes, I taught Sunday School, held ladies’ Bible studies, organized ladies’ retreats, showed hospitality to travelers and church families, and helped with many details of our church plant, but I was exhausted, miserable, and felt that God could not possibly want His workers to be occupied with what I thought of as busy work. If I could just hurry through my responsibilities surrounding my family, then I would have more time to ‘do ministry work.’

God in His wonderful sovereignty allowed me to became ill. No one could accurately diagnose what was wrong with me. I grew weaker and could do less and less of the things I thought would please God. I could barely get out of bed, much less teach or evangelize. What must He think of me? I felt my limited service and the continuous encumbrance of mundane matters meant I wasn’t doing my job and so God must be sighing with displeasure at my deficiencies.

I struggled from my bed one Wednesday night to prepare for the mid-week service held in our home. Bud was teaching through Romans. He opened the Scriptures and began reading chapter 8,“There is therefore now no condemnation to them who are in Christ Jesus.”  The words pierced my struggling soul like an arrow from my Maker. ‘No condemnation.’ Years ago I had accepted His sacrifice as payment for my sins and understood now that I was positionally without sin – without condemnation because of the work of Christ on my behalf. There was absolutely nothing I could do to make God love me any more or any less than He already did. I was ‘accepted in the beloved’ and had ‘peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ!’

Soon after God allowed me to see that the most important ministry I had was with my children. We only have one opportunity to rear them for the Lord. No retakes on childrearing! If, by God’s grace, we could point these five little sinners to Christ, if we could proffer them God’s Word and embody authentic humility, grace, and forgiveness, this would be ministry work just as important as any other.

Sometimes I am amazed that our five children are all from the same parents. Such a diversity of personalities, abilities, and interests! It grieved my soul that I never worked to get along with my sister, and I was determined to teach my children to prefer one another in love. There are so many biblical principles that must be followed to foster this in a family. Every conflict, every argument, every disagreement provided an opportunity to grow in sanctification. Love bears, believes, hopes, and endures all things. Don’t let the sun go down on your wrath.  Be quick to listen but slow to speak and slow to wrath. In love prefer one another. A soft answer turns away wrath. As a man thinks in his heart, so is he. By God’s grace, a regular application of Scriptures and spiritual principles over many years has worked in the lives of our children so that each loves God and they all love each other. And as adults, they all love and serve the body of Christ.

Ministry work may not look like you expect it to. Allow God to direct your life of service and praise Him for every opportunity He allows for you to serve Him.

 

 

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Louise shaved headI’ve entitled these updates about Louise and her battle with cancer ‘Loving Louise’ to help our church family and others praying for her know better how to love and help Louise as she deals with cancer.

Aggressive treatment

Louise began chemo last Monday.  She is taking a powerful once-a-week oral treatment, two weeks on, one week off.  She will be evaluated after this first round to see if she is tolerating the drug and if it is helping.  The doctors want to be aggressive with her treatment so surgery is a possibility if the chemo seems to have no effect.

There goes the hair!

Last week Louise shaved her head in anticipation of the hair loss she was told was “98% sure” would happen.  Imagine her delight when three ladies from the church chose to shave their heads with her in a gesture of solidarity and support for all Louise is going through.  They even had a head-shaving party of sorts where they sang hymns and quoted scriptures and thanked God for His goodness.

Smells and nausea

What is Louise experiencing right now?  As pastor mentioned on Sunday, Louise is very sensitive to smells.  We can show her love by avoiding scented lotions, cologne, and grooming products when we know we’ll be around her.  Garlic breath, chewing gum scents, coffee breath, and most other strong smells can also evoke the gag reflex.  Louise has little to no appetite and is having trouble keeping down the miniscule portions she can eat.  Let’s not add to her troubles by carelessly triggering this problem with strong odors.

Louise is also sleeping a great deal, and when she is awake finds she is weak and unable to tend to regular household tasks.  She has been blessed by friends and family helping with cooking and cleaning.

Keep the notes of encouragement coming!

Many of you have called her and sent cards, text messages or facebook notes.  Louise is grateful for them all but is not always able to individually thank you for each expression.  Don’t take it personally if she is unable to acknowledge your note.  It’s a blessing to do things like this as unto the Lord without expecting any recognition for it.

Currently dealing with…

Louise’s dizziness makes it hard to lie down and get up without help.  Going up or down the stairs can be a major victory in her day.  She appreciates your continued prayers as she battles dizziness, fatigue, nausea, and weakness.

Struggling to always be thankful

Even the strongest Christian can struggle to always be thankful in difficult circumstances.  Louise is so utterly transparent in her reactions to what God has allowed in her life.  She has moments when she pours her heart out to God, telling Him she wants to be thankful in this trial, but not knowing how to.  She mentioned she has begun to understand more clearly that this cancer, as with all diseases, is a result of a sin-cursed world.

The gift of life

Louise was born very prematurely – about 4-1/2 months into her mother’s pregnancy.  Her family was told that if she survived, she would be a vegetable.  Not only did she survive, she thrived.  Those of you who have met Louise know she is intelligent, vibrant, and personable.  Though visually impaired, Louise is an eager reader, and allows very little to slow her down or discourage her.  Her take on this battle with cancer?  “I was supposed to die or be a vegetable at birth.  God has given me 29 wonderful years thus far, and I am so thankful for that gift.  I know that God is allowing this current struggle with cancer for my good and His glory.”

Praying and helping

So, dear church family, there are still many unknowns as Louise and Brian wage this battle against cancer.  Please continue to pray for wisdom, healing, effective treatment, strength, courage, decrease in nausea, and energy.  Keep the cards, notes, calls and other expressions of love coming.  If Louise is unable to chat with you because she is too weak, she’ll let you know.  If you want to help with meals or cleaning or errands, check with Michelle P and she will let you know what is needed and when.

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This book review was recently presented to the pastors’ wives in correlation with the session on Encouragement at the National Church Planters’ Conference in Mentor Ohio, sponsored by ARCH Ministries.  These sessions were adapted from my ladies’ Sunday School series on Biblical Womanhood created for Meadowlands Baptist Church of Edmonton.

The short book Luther and His Katie by Dolina MacCuish gives us a wonderful example of the encouragement a pastor’s wife can be to her husband.  With just short chapters and only 125 pages, this little gem of a book is worth adding to your library.

The first chapters give a brief overview of Luther’s rise to prominence as his studies and experiences enlightened him concerning the false claims of Romanism.  Joining in his renunciation of unbiblical practices were many priests and nuns, one of whom was Catherine von Bora.  Luther felt responsible to marry off these liberated nuns, finally taking Catherine as his own wife.  Though not a love match at first, Luther grew to deeply love and depend on his wife.

God used Catherine, whom Luther affectionately called Katie, to encourage, strengthen, and even protect Luther from illness and harm.  She was an industrious worker, thrifty and graced with good business sense.  Their home was regularly filled with students, clerics, and friends, providing the challenge of housekeeping and hospitality for the Luthers.  Luther’s reckless generosity was counterbalanced by Katie’s careful household planning and management so that he occasionally referred to her as “my Lord Katie.”

Luther’s commendation of his dear wife summarizes the tone of the book.  “Next to God’s Word, the world has no more precious treasure than holy matrimony.  God’s best gift is a pious, cheerful, God-fearing wife, with whom you may live peacefully, to whom you may entrust your goods, your body, and life.”

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This session was recently presented to the pastors’ wives at the National Church Planters’ Conference in Mentor Ohio, sponsored by ARCH Ministries.  These sessions were adapted from my ladies’ Sunday School series on Biblical Womanhood created for Meadowlands Baptist Church of Edmonton.

Encouragement

What is encouragement? 

The definition of encourage from wordnetweb.princeton.edu/perl/webwn is:  the expression of approval and support; boost: the act of giving hope or support to someone; the feeling of being encouraged

Biblical encouragement is modeled in the person of the Holy Ghost.  The Greek word translated encourage (parakaleo) means to come along side of as a helper and is sometimes translated in the KJV as comfort, exhort or encourage. For our purposes we will define it:   to receive consolation, be comforted; to encourage, strengthen

How do we find encouragement when we are discouraged?

Through God’s character – God is sovereign and cares for His own

  • God is always with us
    • Joshua 1:9 ~ for the LORD thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest.
    • 2 Chronicles 20:17 ~ for the LORD will be with you
    • Deuteronomy 31:8 ~ And the LORD, he it is that doth go before thee; he will be with thee, he will not fail thee, neither forsake thee:
  • God is almighty and is the source of all help and encouragement
    • Psalm 42:5, 11; Psalm 43:5 ~ hope thou in God: for I shall yet praise him, who is my God.
    • Isaiah 41:10 ~ Fear thou not, for I am with thee: be not dismayed, for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.
  • God acts on behalf of His children
    • 2 Corinthians 7:6 ~ God…comforteth those that are cast down
    • Psalm 107:6 ~ he delivered them
    • Psalm 107:13, 19 ~ he saved them
    • Psalm 118:5 ~ the LORD answered me
    • Psalm 120:1 ~ he heard me.

Through Prayer – God delights to hear the prayers of His own

  • God will hear and answer the prayers of His children
    • Psalm 4:3 ~ the LORD will hear when I call unto him
    • Jeremiah 33:3 ~ Call unto me, and I will answer thee
    • Psalm 138:3 ~ In the day when I cried (prayed) thou answeredst me, and strengthenedst me with strength in my soul.

Through spiritual instruction – God provides help for hungry souls

  • God gives pastor and teachers
    • Jeremiah 3:15 ~ And I will give you pastors according to mine heart, which shall feed you with knowledge and understanding.
    • Ephesians 4:11-12 ~ And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ
  • God provides local churches
    • Hebrews 10:2 5 ~ Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting (encouraging) one another
    • 1 Corinthians  4:17 ~ For this cause have I sent unto you Timotheus, who is my beloved son, and faithful in the Lord, who shall bring you into remembrance of my ways which be in Christ, as I teach everywhere in every church.
  • God brings other believers into our lives to encourage us
    • Believers are to encourage one another spiritually ~ Isaiah 35:3; 1 Thessalonians 5:14
    • Believers are to encourage one another in the truths of the faith ~ 1 Thessalonians 5:11
    • Older women teach the younger women ~ Titus 2:3 -4
    • Take care what voices you listen to!
    • Understand that you are not the only one who has ever been in this situation. ~ 1 Corinthians 10:13 There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.
    • Bear one another’s burdens

Through Christian fellowship – fellowship highlights, strengthens and helps build our family ties in Christ

  • “Communication is essential for encouragement to occur.  We have to talk about God’s hand in our lives and our experiences.”[1]
    • Paul was encouraged to hear of the Corinthians’ experiences ~ 2 Corinthians 7:7
    • The encouraged can let the encourager know his ministry was a blessing ~ 1 Corinthians 16:18
    • “Your testimony of God’s faithfulness may be all a person needs to give them the determination to persevere through the trials they are facing right now.” [2]
      • Paul sent Tychicus to encourage the Colossians
      • Paul sent Timothy to encourage the Thessalonians

Through Spiritual Input – right responses are the result of biblically sound input

  • Spiritual Thoughts
    • Songs, hymns, spiritual songs read or sing the words to encouraging, biblically sound spiritual music
    • Read God-honoring literature
    • Listen to doctrinally sound preaching
    • Study and meditate on God’s Word, especially the Psalms

Which Biblical figures encouraged others?

Spiritually

  • Priscilla by her spiritual service ~ 1 Corinthians 16:19
  • Rebecca by her obedience to God’s leading ~ Genesis 24
  • God Himself encourages us ~ Philippians 2:1; Romans 15:5
  • The Word of God encourages us ~ Acts 15:31
  • Scriptures give hope ~ Romans 15:4
  • Barnabas encouraged the believers ~ Acts 4:36; 11:23
  • Paul and Silas encouraged the believers ~ Acts 16:40
  • Believers are to encourage one another by faithful church attendance ~ Hebrews 10:25

Physically

  • Dorcas encouraged poor women by making them clothes ~ Acts 9:36-43
  • Lydia by her hospitality ~ Philippians 1:1-10
  • Martha by her hospitality ~ Luke 10:38-41
  • Abigail encouraged (and appeased) by her courage and wisdom ~ 1 Samuel 25:1-42
  • Joanna by her financial support of God’s work ~ Luke 8:1-3
  • Susanna by ministering to spiritual leaders ~ Luke 8:2-3
  • Shunammite woman by providing for Elisha ~ 2 Kings 4 

Emotionally

  • Sarah encouraged by her submission to her husband ~ 1 Peter 3:6
  • Ruth encouraged by her deference to Naomi ~ book of Ruth
  • Esther encouraged by speaking on behalf of her condemned people ~ book of Esther
  • Children of Israel encouraged Joshua ~ Deuteronomy 1:38; 2:28
  • David encouraged himself in the Lord his God ~ 1 Samuel 30:6
  • God comforts (encourages) us so that we can encourage others ~ 2 Corinthians 1:4
  • God encourages (comforts) the afflicted ~ Psalm 10:17
  • Believers are to build each other up with encouraging speech ~ Ephesians 4:29

What are some practical ways we can encourage our spouse, children, church family, friends, leaders, co-workers, and those God brings across our path?

Line our thinking up with Scripture.

  • Are we Eeyore Christians?
    • Think on things that are true ~ Philippians 4:8
    • Encourage one another daily ~ Hebrews 3:13 
    • Let us therefore follow after the things which make for peace, and things wherewith one may edify another ~ Romans 14:19

Think about being an encouragement.

  • If God uses something in your life to encourage you, it’s likely it will encourage others also.
  • Ask God to bring someone to your attention and look for ways to encourage that person.
  • Place your focus on others.  Observe those around you.  Notice what they do that is positive and thank them for it.

Practice encouraging behavior.

  • In the church
    • Acknowledge faithful ministries (pastor, SS teacher, deacon, janitor, choir director, events planner, meal coordinator, etc.) with a verbal thanks or note of appreciation.
    • Encourage others by your faithful attendance to as many services as you are able to attend. ~ Hebrews 10:25
    • Participate in some ministry (choir, cleaning, meals, class helper, office volunteer, etc.)
    • Make an effort to develop relationships in the church – don’t complain that others are not reaching out to you when you are not reaching out to others.
    • Take questions and problems to the correct authority.
  • In the Christian community
    • When someone has illness, has experienced a death, or is in an emergency situation, be specific about your offer to help.  (Not, “Is there anything I can do,” but, I’d like to make you a meal, or drive you to the funeral home, or sit with you after surgery.)
    • For a sick friend, a new mother, someone who has just moved – make a meal.
    • For a tired young mother or a new mom or a young couple who may not have much money to hire help, offer babysitting.
    • Foster Christian fellowship (get to know your family in Christ) by inviting someone over or inviting someone out.  It does not have to be fancy!
    • Share a skill / gift with another believer – cleaning, yard work, repairs, baking, sewing, painting, etc.
    • Write notes of commendation or appreciation when someone has blessed you
    • Send a Card, e-mail, note, e-card to someone who is sick, sad, burdened, or going through a trial
    • Phone to check on those you know are suffering
    • Pray for others when you learn of their burden / situation
    • Rejoice with those who rejoice / weep with those who weep.  Sometimes the most encouraging thing you can do is sit with someone who is suffering and cry with them.
    • Give a small gift to someone as an encouragement
  • In the home or in the extended family
    • Express appreciation for the work of your spouse or co-workers or team members
    • Be available when needed. ~ Colossians 4:8
    • Give a word of praise or share a verse that has blessed you
    • Be a good listener – patient, eye contact, nod head, ask questions, don’t jump in with your experiences unless asked
    • Pay a genuine compliment
    • Be genuinely kind
    • Ladies ask other ladies if they need a hug.

Look around you in this room, in this church, in your family, in your neighborhood, at your work.  All around you are people who have needs, struggles, discouragements of which we are unaware.  Even the most “together” person may be dealing with issues that could be helped with a kind word, encouraging smile or offer of help.  May God grant us the spiritual wisdom and maturity to a church family that is continually growing in our ability to practice the ministry of encouragement toward each other.

Bibliography

Lockyer, Herbert.  All the Women of the Bible.  Grand Rapids, MI:  Zondervan Books, no date.

Encouraging One Another, Women of Faith Study Guide Series.  Nashville, TN:  Nelson Impact, 2004.

http://www.dougbrittonbooks.com


[1] Encouraging One Another; Women of Faith Study Guide Series,  (Nashville, TN:  Nelson Impact, 2004) p. 44

[2] Ibid, p. 45

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This session was recently presented to the pastors’ wives at the National Church Planters’ Conference in Mentor Ohio, sponsored by ARCH Ministries.  These sessions were adapted from my ladies’ Sunday School series on Biblical Womanhood created for Meadowlands Baptist Church of Edmonton.

 

Session 3 – Discouragement

Discouragement is something that most of us face in our lives.  As Christians we know we should trust in the Lord and we believe what God says in 1 Corinthians 10:13 “There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it,” but yet we succumb at times to discouragement.

Let’s define our terms.  What is discouragement?  The Free Dictionary (www.thefreedictionary.com ) says discourage is “1. To deprive of confidence, hope, or spirit; 2. To hamper by discouraging; deter: 3. To try to prevent by expressing disapproval or raising objections. Another definition is: derailment; feeling of despair in the face of obstacles (www.english-test.net) while a third defines discourage:  1. To deprive of the will to persist in something; 2. To oppose by expressing disapproval (www.dictionary.reference.com)  For our purposes we will define discouragement this way:  to leave one without hope, to feel emotionally deflated or without confidence; to be dispirited.

For years he was forced to live a renegade life, eking out an existence in caves and tents, residing in neighboring countries which were at war with his nation.  What heinous crime had he committed causing him to live such a life?  Unflinching faith.  As a youth David so loved and defended his God that he stood alone in battle against the mocking champion giant Goliath, with unwavering faith that God would guide him to defend His holy name.  David grew into a mighty warrior, known for his skill in battle and wisdom as a leader.  The prophet Samuel made it clear that the Kingdom of Israel would be taken from the disobedient Saul and given to David, and Saul was jealous and angry because of it.  For a while the two lived in uneasy harmony until Saul attempted to take David’s life.  So David fled and hid from Saul, gathering an army of warriors and mighty men to himself over time.

As his army grew it became more difficult to move the men and their families from place to place.  In the providence of God David helped the Philistines defeat some common enemies and the godless Philistine King Achish rewarded David and his men by giving them the city of Ziklag to live in.  David’s army fought alongside the Philistine armies to defeat many foes, but then the day came when the Philistines were to do battle with Israel.  David did not want to war against his brethren and God caused the distrust and suspicions of some Philistine officers to keep David from joining the conflict.  The Israeli army was sent back to Ziklag.

It took them three days to return home.  As they topped the hill overlooking Ziklag they were stunned by a horrible sight.  The city had been burned and was in ruins.  No signs of life met them.  The Amalekites had raided Ziklag, burned the city, and taken captive all of the women and children.  Tired from their strenuous battles and weary from traveling the men mourned and wept.  Some ranted and in their distress blamed David and threatened to kill him.  Exhausted, displaced, and facing disgruntled men, David was discouraged.

The Bible uses several words to describe discouragement. What does the Bible have to say to those who grow discouraged?

Cast Down

  • Psalm 42:5 Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted in me? hope thou in God…
  • 2 Corinthians 7:6 God…comforteth those that are cast down

Dismayed

  • Deuteronomy 31:8 And the LORD, he it is that doth go before thee; he will be with thee, he will not fail thee, neither forsake thee: fear not, neither be dismayed.
  • Joshua 1:9 Have not I commanded thee? Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the LORD thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest.
  • Isaiah 41:10 Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.

Distress

  • Psalm 107:6 Then they cried unto the LORD in their trouble, and he delivered them out of their distresses.
  • Psalm 107:13 Then they cried unto the LORD in their trouble, and he saved them out of their distresses.
  • 2 Corinthians 4:8 We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair;
  • 1Thessalonians 3:7 Therefore, brethren, we were comforted over you in all our affliction and distress by your faith:
Our story of David at Ziklag does not end with David being discouraged.  I Samuel 30:6 tells us that “David encouraged himself in the LORD his God.”  In his darkest moment David looked to God for direction, help, and hope.  The chapter goes on to tell us how David did not rush out to reclaim his family and goods, but first sought the mind of God.  The natural man might look at circumstances like these and quit or despair or blame others or grow bitter.  Instead David threw himself on the mercy and wisdom of the One who knows and controls all.  David encouraged himself in the Lord, HIS God. 

Matthew Henry comments on this:

 “Those that have taken the Lord for their God may take encouragement from their relation to him in the worst of times. It is the duty and interest of all good people, whatever happens, to encourage themselves in God as their Lord and their God, assuring themselves that he can and will bring light out of darkness, peace out of trouble, and good out of evil… It was David’s practice, and he had the comfort of it, ‘What time I am afraid I will trust in thee’. When he was at his wits’ end he was not at his faith’s end.”

The flip side of this will be presented in Session 4: Encouragement

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