Encouragement. It literally means to put courage into people. But how does that happen?
At the most basic level you can encourage someone by cheering them on. For those who are simply tired, this is helpful. And it’s pretty easy to encourage someone to not give up by simply telling them to keep going. Cheerleaders and the people who hold cups of water on the sides of marathons fall into this category.
But at a certain point a different kind of encouragement is needed. This isn’t point where I’ve simply become tired in doing something I know how to do. This is where I’ve never done the thing that I’m trying and it seems hard. Maybe I’ve never seen anyone else do the thing I’m trying and it looks impossible. Cheerleaders and uninvested spectators can warm your heart but aren’t super helpful at this stage.
What’s needed here is a different kind of encouragement: Someone who has traveled this path (or a similar one) and tells you that what you are attempting is possible. It’s happened before. I’ve seen it happen. You can do this. This is the mountain climber above you that is shouting down from the top that you can make it, too.
It’s not even so important that the person gives you advice about how to do things. That’s helpful. But just the simple fact that a person has been where you are and done what you are attempting is enough to add courage to the human heart.
What becomes essential, then, for this higher level of encouragement, is for you to be farther down a path than the next person in order to encourage them. And what this means for all of us, friends, is that we shouldn’t be content just to remain where we are, but find more ways for us to push boundaries in our lives. It becomes critical to step out in the areas we are called to in our lives and let our light shine.
It imparts courage to others.
And then in all of the places where we’ve got experience, we turn and encourage those who have less. It’s important for them. It’s also important for us.
“But encourage one another day after day, as long as it is still called ‘Today’….” (Hebrews 3:13).
Some things just get better with age. “The Wayback Machine” posts occur at the end of every month and reference the best posts of that month in years past. My hope is to provide a good jumping on point for readers who have never been to Pursuing Glory.
Discouragement hits believers and causes them to be confused about the things that are real and important. This post is me reminding myself (and my readers) about the realities that are important to fight for even when things are discouraging. If you want a window into my soul when I’m fighting to stay in the game this is a post you want to check out.
Pretty much this blog is exactly what the title describes. I’m an avid blog reader, so I thought I would share with my readers what blogs I most enjoy. Most of these blogs still exist in one form or another and for the most part I would still recommend, if I were to write this post again it would be much different. I also have unsubscribed from one of the blogs on this list, too. I guess we all make mistakes, huh?
This post describes my journey to north-eastern Iowa to meet with other believers who were having more of a regional house church gathering. This was my first attempt at meeting other believers who God has called into a similar lifestyle as us. God also showed me some important insights into the nature of God’s Kingdom and transitioning into simple church realities.
This was a post that recounts a conversation I had with E.J. about who the desert fathers were and why they are important today. More than anything, it’s a primer into why the devotional practices of silence, solitute, and prayer are essential for the church in this hour.
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[Editor’s note: It is my full intent to finish chronicling and posting my Thirty Days to Greater Fruitfulness Posts. They will be coming shortly. This post is an exercise in returning to blogging.]
Monday I had an encounter with one of my 50,000 coaches. Today my coach was Steve Russell. If you’ve ever lived in Cedar Rapids and been a believer over the last 10 or 15 years, you’ve probably been impacted by Steve one way or another. I first met Steve in the late 90’s when he was helping me get up the courage to start my first cell group. While I don’t know Steve well, ever since that first day we met, I’ve always known he’s been for me and more importantly for the Kingdom.
So Monday, when he was standing in my front yard, it was no surprise that he was encouraging me. What surprised me was the content of the conversation.
I was telling Steve a little bit about what was going on with our house church. The conversation turned to what he was doing. Steve has been in transition for a couple of years now. But he looked at me with his patent Steve Russell smile and said, “You guys are doing what I always wanted to do when I grew up.” I quickly replied telling him that was funny because I thought he was doing what I wanted to do when I grow up. And then Steve said something profound. “”It’s amazing what a you can see from an arm’s length away, isn’t it?”
That statement stuck with me and it’s both an encouragement to me where I’m at and a challenge to you where you are. I need to be able to see what I can’t because I’m too close. I need to be able to look at my life sometimes “from an arm’s length away.” What about your life and the work of God in it are you not rejoicing in because you’re too close? What does God, the angels, and everyone else around you celebrate, but you look on with despair? Not everything is done, nor will it be until Christ returns. But can you get outside of yourself and see the work of the Spirit in your own life? And can you alert others to what God is doing in theirs? Maybe you can be one of someone else’s 50,000 coaches today.
Lately there’s been plenty of chances to be discouraged about things going on around me. So I thought I would share a few things that have kept me pursuing Jesus in the midst of disappointment.
First, there’s Paul:
I tell you this, brothers: flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed. For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality. When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written:
‘Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is your victory?
O death, where is your sting?’
The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain. (1 Corinthians 15:50-58)
And then…there’s Rita:
The encouragement from Jesus to me that I’m passing on to you is to be faithful and fulfill your calling in the midst of all the obstacles. God is faithful and the struggle for the age to come is worth the price paid here.