Called to Encourage

Called to Encourage

Yesterday my close friend and I gathered in my living room amidst toys, empty juice boxes, and unfolded (but clean!) laundry. We buzzed with excitement despite the mess as we shared what God has been teaching us this week through Scripture, prayer, and everyday life. Hopes lifted up, tears shed, hearts humbled in prayer. Like that, an hour and a half flew by and it was time for her to leave, even though we could have kept going for hours. After I closed the door behind her,  reality hit once again. My circumstances hadn’t changed one iota, but my outlook was re-energized and refocused.

But be filled by the Spirit: speaking to one another in psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, singing and making music with your heart to the Lord, giving thanks always for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, submitting to one another in the fear of Christ.

Ephesians 5:18 – 21

God has recently put a strong desire on my heart for committed fellowship. And it’s no coincidence how God brings people into your path because it turns out, I’m not the only one feeling this way. He had stirred up a desire in some of my closest friends in Christ who are also faithfully seeking after God’s will. 

Having received this confirmation, I immediately set to work creating a manifesto for the group. In my vision, these sisters would be privileged and committed in the Spirit to sharing, encouraging, rebuking, and praying for one another. An accountability group, of sorts.

Now, I know that this may sound a little extreme. Like something only people with serious addictions have. To be honest, it’s not that far off the mark; technically we believers do have serious addictions to rebelling against God. The need for commitment to community and fellowship is written all over the Bible:

Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.

1 Thessalonians 5:11

Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.

James 5:16

Fellowship and accountability is not only portrayed as wise, it is for safety, it is for love, and it is for the good of the whole community. We realize that life happens and circumstances change so this won’t last forever. However, in our desire to remain faithful to the very end we will do what it takes to stay vigilant in faith and not stumble.

This is what I imagine Heaven will be like – an eternal meeting of souls that love Jesus, overflowing with hope and uncontained zeal for his Word. While Heaven is going to be an indescribable experience, we luckily have the chance to enjoy a taste of it here on Earth.

Reflection

  • Read Ecclesiastes 4:9-12
  • What would it look like to start an accountability group within your circle?

Put it into practice

Feeling challenged to gather some pals and start doing the same thing? Please download the Accountability Group Manifesto below and make it your own, as the Spirit leads. And then tell me in the comments how it goes!

Seeking God: When scoffers scoff

Seeking God: When scoffers scoff

Read: Psalm 129:1-8, Isaiah 53:2-3

Christ: Who has believed our message? And to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed? I don’t come with clanging cymbals and flashing lights. Only those with discerning eye of faith can see Me in truth and Spirit. As my disciples you will not be treated with respect by everyone. You’ll encounter some persecution from time to time because no one likes to be told to loosen their grip on the world. Even so, do not let this upset or discourage you because I’m the only one whose opinion matters and I’m the one who holds your hand through everything.

they have greatly oppressed me from my youth, but they have not gained the victory over me.jpg

Think: Jesus said “The student is not above the teacher, but everyone who is fully trained will be like their teacher” (Luke 6:40). Have I ever been mocked for following Jesus? How did I react? Sometimes the way we react by instinct does not match the way we want to react. Take a moment to pray for the next time we are persecuted. Ask the Holy Spirit to strengthen your resolve.

Pray: Jesus, you came to save the poor and weak in faith, not the ones who think they have it all together. We can see your beauty and glory. Help us to remain strong in our faith when it is challenged. We pray that seeds would be sown in these encounters. Amen.

Just hit send

Just hit send

Does anyone else do this?
You take forever writing an email because you keep doing more editing than actual writing, and then once hitting send, you immediately open up your sent mail and read and reread the same email you just spent 3 hours on, poring over it, rereading it aloud to yourself, and continuing to pick it to death and kicking yourself for errors found only after the fact. Something has to hit you over the head with a proverbial brick to snap you out of your reverie and continue on with the next task. (What was the next task again?)

This is typically how I compose and send emails at work, which admittedly is a huge time waster and not company-friendly. But it’s not just at work, I’ve always done this all my life. (If my manager is reading this, don’t worry, I’m truly trying to break the habit.) Outside of work and other administrative-type emails, I mostly write random encouraging emails to all kinds of people. bloggers i’m inspired by, family members, and friends I don’t keep in touch with often. I don’t keep a schedule of correspondence, I just do it when it occurs to me. It’s a bit of a fun hobby: I go through my list of contacts in my phone, and keep scrolling until a name screams out to me in my heart. Then I try to think of something that might make their day.

However, it’s that maddening email-editing craze that often slows or completely stops this spirit-guided process to encourage someone else. It’s a kind of fear I’ve only recently thought to take notice of. Throughout my intense editing session, I’m half listening to these foreign whispers. What will they think of me? Is this weird? Yeah, this is weird. No one ever emails me like this. They probably won’t even respond.

Sometimes I end up scrapping the entire email and not sending anything. That person continues on in their day, with no idea I’ve spent so much time trying to reach out to him or her. Like a light under a basket, no one ever benefits. And it’s obvious what is behind it all — Fear.

Fear of embarrassing mistakes, either in content or grammar.
Fear of being embarrassed
Fear I wont be taken seriously
Fear that I’ll be taken too serious (This happens quite a bit, thanks to my annoying habit of quoting obscure lines from my favorite TV shows that no one gets)
Fear I’ll be ignored
Fear of being annoying

Because communication through the written word is hard. It’s a difficult art to master, at least for me. When you have to convey anything that will have an effect on the recipient, it’s a big responsibility. Like when I’m trying to tell someone to do something without telling them to do it. It takes nuance, carefully worded sentences, and sensitivity to the reader and their particular environment. Our words have so much power. That’s why the Bible is chock-full of wisdom concerning the careful use of our tongues. They truly have the power of life and death.

That being said, there’s a point at which you just have to let go and hit send. Wanted or not, there it goes. It can be scary, depending on the message. Be it a resume, break in a long silence between friends, or a hard word of truth that must be spoken. Sending an email out there is like sending a vulnerable extension of yourself into the unknown. But unlike the lamp which sits indefinitely under the basket, we must get these messages out before the opportunity is gone. Funny how in order to encourage someone, we often must take the first step of courage.

For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.

2 Timothy 1:7

Is there someone on your heart today? Maybe reach out and send that email or text of encouragement, whatever it might be. We have no idea the journey our words will take, but if God’s spirit is behind it, there’s no doubt that they will soar on, accomplishing His will.

Not an email person? Here are some other ideas for brightening up someone’s day:

  • Send an E-card (sort of dorky but sweet) Dayspring has a great ecard selection
  • Leave a message on social media site of choice
  • Can’t go wrong with a quick text
  • Post an old picture and tag your friend with a couple of nice words
  • Go way old school and pick up the phone
  • Go even older-school and (if you can) arrange a hang out session in person

Thanks for reading! Let me know in the comments below how you like to let someone know you’re thinking of them.

xo, Molly

 

Sunday worship: Are you a dancer or a statue?


raised-hand-during-worshipThere are two kinds of people in the Church – those who dance all around with arms raised to Heaven, and those who stand still awkwardly.

And let’s just get one thing straight — I’m totally awkward!

Although I’d like to defend myself somehow by saying, “I just don’t feel like worshiping that way”, or ” I truly worship in my heart”, I actually learned today that God wants us to worship him both in Spirit and in Truth (John 4:24). AKA. Internally AND externally.

We are commanded to love the Lord with all our heart, all our mind, all our strength. Add to that our whole body.

One of my favorite stories about King David is this one from 2 Samuel chapter 6. After having been stolen for a time, the Ark of the Covenant was finally on its way back to its home in Jerusalem. [The Ark was an ornate chest, designed by God Himself, in which to keep the sacred tablets which contained the 10 commandments. People died on the spot by just touching the Ark with an unclean heart — serious stuff!)

As the ark of the Lord was entering the City of David, Michal daughter of Saul watched from a window [David’s first wife, daughter of Saul, not a believer]. And when she saw King David leaping and dancing before the Lord, she despised him in her heart.

To anyone looking in from the outside of the faith, David was making a complete fool of himself. Michal thought he was being undignified and she hated him for his enthusiasm. When he got him, she scolded him for his display:

When David returned home to bless his household, Michal daughter of Saul came out to meet him and said, “How the king of Israel has distinguished himself today, going around half-naked in full view of the slave girls of his servants as any vulgar fellow would!”

But David didn’t care – he was so concentrated on God’s mightiness and love, he couldn’t care less about how the world was seeing him. He replied:

“It was before the Lord, who chose me rather than your father or anyone from his house when he appointed me ruler over the Lord’s people Israel—I will celebrate before the Lord. 22 I will become even more undignified than this, and I will be humiliated in my own eyes. But by these slave girls you spoke of, I will be held in honor.”

When I’m worshiping, I often don’t “go all out” in my worship style, simply because I’m only thinking of what others are going to say behind my back. It’s time to decide who we are worshiping here: God or man.

God LOVES it when we worship him in our hearts and minds, as well as externally with shouts of joy and loud clanging cymbals. He loves when we clap, dance, bow, kneel, shout, raise our hands. It honors him but it also is good for us. 

Look at Psalm 150, a virtual instruction manual of who, what, why, when, and how to praise and worship God.

1 Praise the Lord!

Praise God in his sanctuary;

   praise him in his mighty heaven!

2 Praise him for his mighty works;

   praise his unequaled greatness!

3 Praise him with a blast of the ram’s horn;

   praise him with the lyre and harp!

4 Praise him with the tambourine and dancing;

   praise him with strings and flutes!

5 Praise him with a clash of cymbals;

   praise him with loud clanging cymbals.

6 Let everything that breathes sing praises to the Lord!

Praise the Lord!

Too many times, our relationship with him is about what he does for me only – God help me, save me, please work a miracle for me. We forget that it’s a love relationship and it has to go 2 ways. Psalm 57 says “My heart O God is steadfast. I will sing, awake my soul…” We are danger when our souls go to sleep.

Worship is what wakes us up! He sees us asleep and grabs our hands to lead us to his wonderful plans and future for us. God tells us not to look back – take the step of faith and I’ll protect you, I’ll give you grace, come with me. How can we not worship a God so great?

In worship and awe,

Molly

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