Encouragement

An Enduring Faith

I just had to share this post, from my good friend Charles. He has given me permission to repost this inspiring story of faith, hope and love…

549869_10200807855348065_337195721_nOn March 17th 2013, my wife Sandra completed her 7th LA Marathon. This year she had the honor of being chosen by the ALS Organization Orange County Chapter to represent them. Sandra was diagnosed with ALS (Lou Gehrig’s Disease) in October 2010. It’s fatal with no cure. Most people die within 3-5 years of diagnosis.

Just six weeks prior she was hospitalized for three weeks with pneumonia, and her ALS condition had progressed to a point where she had to ultimately get a PEG feeding tube put into her stomach for her survival. She was down to 90 lbs and was extremely weak. Her body and neck severely atrophied. In complete faith and reliance on the Lord, we and countless others (friends, family, church, caregivers and many others) prayed for her to be able to physically withstand the race. God answered. She had a smile on the entire race and amazingly endured the whole event. Absolutely amazing.

Yesterday, God taught me and Sandra a little something about faith and hope. When we step off the “cliff of fear and doubt” in complete faith that the Lord will catch us…He does. There is hope in the Lord Jesus Christ Almighty. There is nothing He can’t do. Nothing. All glory to Him.

Sandra crossed the finish line yesterday in the supportive arms of the Lord. He was cradling her the whole time; it was clear as day. Thank you Lord Jesus for being in mine and Sandra’s lives.

To God be the glory!

Why Should I Belong?

A glimpse into Week # 5 of our Why? series curriculum…

If we understand that our purpose in life is to glorify God and that we are gifted to serve the body of Christ, then logically we’re going to commit to a body of believers. However, the reality is that many of us still live in isolation. We wonder if we truly have anything to offer the body of Christ. We ask ourselves, “Will I be accepted?” We wonder if we really have anything to offer. Yet, the very thing we fear is the thing we need the most. God did not call us to live in isolation, but in community with one another. Because we cannot see God, we need to see and experience God through his people.

In Acts 2: 42 – 47, Luke portrays the lives of the early disciples worshiping and learning about God together, sharing meals and their possessions while caring for each other. They witnessed miracles done in Jesus’ name and were filled with awe at what God was doing in their lives as they lived in community with fellow believers and invited others to follow Christ with them.

God is love and because of that, he treasures relationships. His very nature is relational, and therefore he identifies himself in very relational terms: Father, Son, and Spirit. In fact, God Himself exists in community, and gives us the perfect pattern for how life is meant to be lived in relationship with one another.

Here’s Pastor Doyle’s response to the question…

God Uses Imperfect People

Think God can’t or won’t use you? Well, you’re in good company! If you think about it, there are many reasons why God shouldn’t have called you, or me, or anyone else for that matter. But God doesn’t wait until we’re perfect to use us! In fact, the Scriptures are full of the stories of men and women, who in spite of their greed, lust, impulsiveness and imperfections, where used greatly by God to fulfill His purposes. Here’s a few examples, from the Bible’s who’s who:

Abraham lied
Sarah laughed at God’s promises
Moses stuttered
David’s armor didn’t fit
John Mark was rejected by Paul
Timothy had ulcers
Hosea’s wife was a prostitute
Amos’ only training was in the school of fig-tree pruning
Jacob was a liar
David had an affair
Solomon was too rich
Jesus was too poor
Abraham was too old
David was too young
Peter was afraid of death
Lazarus was dead
John was self-righteous
Naomi was a widow
Paul was a murderer, so was Moses
Jonah ran from God
Miriam was a gossip
Gideon and Thomas both doubted
Jeremiah was depressed and suicidal
Elijah was burned out
John the Baptist was a loudmouth
Martha was a worry-wort
Noah got drunk
Did I mention Moses had a short fuse? So did Peter, Paul and lots of folks!

Satan will tell you, “You’re not worthy!” But Jesus says, “So what? I AM.” Satan will tempt us to look back and sees our mistakes. But God looks back and sees the Cross. God doesn’t call the equipped, He equips the called. So say “yes” to God and watch him do something amazing in you and through you today!

Encouraging Others

We can uplift and affirm one another in a variety of ways. Here are eight ways to consider…

1. Speaking – Proverbs 16:24 says, “Pleasant words are … sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.” The number of ways we can encourage one another through our speech is almost limitless. One pastor friend never leaves a conversation without saying one positive thing to the person he’s talking to.

2. Writing –  The New Testament epistles are proof of the power of written communication. Sometimes a short note to someone who’s discouraged can mean so much. Think creatively. For example, there’s a staff member on our team that randomly leaves encouraging notes on people’s desks. It’s his way of saying, “I appreciate you.”

3. Being Present –  “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted,” says Psalm 34:18. Sometimes God asks us simply to be with others in person on his behalf. I have learned that you don’t have to say much. In fact, sometimes it’s better to say nothing. Our presence itself can be a deeply encouraging gift.

4. Touching – Jesus often touched people. Scientists are just starting to document the positive effects of touch, which God has known about all along. From a light touch on the forearm to a tight hug, these gestures encourage others wordlessly and are best expressed by those who have the love language of touch.

5. Praying –  The Apostle Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians 1:11, “You help us by your prayers.” Everyone can have this ministry. My wife Jennifer has this gift of encouragement. She’s a prayer warrior! My friend Jason, also asks the question, “How can I pray for you?” on his Facebook wall each week. What a great way to encourage someone by praying for them.

6. Showing Hospitality – “Practice hospitality,” says Romans 12:13. I recently attended a mixed small group leaders appreciation event for our leaders at SCG, hosted by our Mixed Groups Coordinators Jeff & Pam! It was in the small touches of decor, food and entertainment that they communicated that they appreciated their leaders.

7. Giving –  Proverbs 22:9 states that, “A generous man will himself be blessed.” God wants his people to share their lives with others—their time, their money, their possessions. Any of these can be used creatively to encourage others.

8. Helping – Common jobs and chores—housework, shuttling a friend to the airport, baby-sitting—are so appreciated in the ministry of encouragement. “Whatever you do,” says Colossians 3:23, “work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men.”

So, what’s your encouragement style? And while we’re talking about it, thanks for taking time to read and interact with my blog. Your comments, Facebook likes and shared links are always appreciated.

A Tribute to My Mom This Mother’s Day

For Mother’s Day, I rewrote a popular poem, to say thanks to my mom for all that she’s done for me…

When you thought I wasn’t looking, I saw you feed and care for all the stray pets I brought home, and I learned that it was good to be kind.

When you thought I wasn’t looking, I saw you make my favorite meal for me, and I learned that it’s the little things in life that matter the most.

When you thought I wasn’t looking, I saw you take care of our house and everything in it (perhaps a little obsessively) and I learned how to take care of the things that I’m blessed with in this world.

When you thought I wasn’t looking, I saw how you handled your responsibilities, even when you didn’t feel like it and I learned what it meant to be responsible in life.

When you thought I wasn’t looking, I saw tears come from your eyes and I learned that sometimes things hurt, but that it’s okay to cry.

When you thought I wasn’t looking, I felt you kiss me goodnight and I experienced first hand what it was like to be loved.

When you thought I wasn’t looking, I saw how proud you were of me as you talked to your friends and it motivated me to be everything that I could be.

When you thought I wasn’t looking, I saw you playing Santa Claus one Christmas Eve night and I saw in your face the reality of Jesus’ words,”It is more blessed to give than to receive.”

When you thought I wasn’t looking, I looked at you and wanted to say “Thanks for all the things I saw you do, even though you thought I wasn’t looking.”

Yes, when you thought I wasn’t looking, I learned a lot of life’s lessons that I needed to know, in order to become the man I am today. So thanks mom for being you, even when you thought I wasn’t looking!

I love you mom!

Happy Mother’s Day to you and to all the wonderful moms who make this world a better place!

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