Be Encouraged

 

ApplauseI have often been the recipient of encouragement. Encouragement inspires me. Encouragement motivates me. Encouragement gives me great confidence.  I believe encouragement has help build me into who I am today. Encouragement is a simple concept that has profound effects for years to come. When I reflect on the encouragement that has been given to me over the years and the effect it’s had on me, I can’t help but become an encourager to others.

The Hebrew writer speaks to this word as well. We must encourage one another in our walk with the Lord. There are times it’s obvious that a person is getting to a bad place, but other times, the deceitful heart is masked by good deeds and kind words. I must pay careful attention to my heart as I live out my faith. Check this out…

12 Watch out, brothers and sisters, so that there won’t be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God. 13 But encourage each other daily, while it is still called today, so that none of you is hardened by sin’s deception. 14 For we have become participants in Christ if we hold firmly until the end the reality that we had at the start. (Hebrews 3:12-14 CSB)

I believe encouragement must be honest. It can’t be shallow and empty. Encouragement can call someone out of sin. Encouragement can help prevent someone from surrendering to sin. I also believe that I must encourage often. Giving away genuine encouragement also blesses my heart because my attention is taken off me. If I’m not very careful, I can make everything in my life revolve around me – that’s very dangerous and very self-centered. Encouragement is about the other person and it’s a huge gift that I can give with both words and action.

When I started journaling about my journey in the Word several years ago, it started coming alive to me. I would find myself recalling what I had read throughout the day. At some point, I felt called (nudged) by the Lord to share my thoughts publically. When He tells me to stop, I’ll do that too. I have been encouraged by being an encourager. I want my life to be about Him and not about me. I want the actions and activities of my life to point to Him and Who He is, instead of me. I want to make Him famous – not become famous myself.

If I could offer one word of encouragement to anyone who desires to know Him it would be – please find time in your busy life to read His Word and talk to Him about it. He longs for relationship with His kids. I remember hearing a phrase that I think came from Mother Teresa many years ago: “If you’re too busy to pray, you are simply too busy.” I’m adding to that, if I’m too busy to read, meditate and pray over His Word then I’m too busy. I believe studying the Word of God builds eternal thoughts and dreams. I’m taking out of my self-centered world and I start seeing the world as The Lord sees it. Encouragement from the Word of God has changed every part of my life.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Endurance

 

EnduranceI sometimes have “endurance issues”. I get to the place that I feel like I can’t go on. I recently heard a great podcast from Ramsey Solutions EntreLeadership by Mel Robbins called: “5 Seconds to a Better Life & Business”. Mel talks about denying my feelings the leadership in my life. I have a to make decisions with my brain and keep my feelings in check.  When I’m riding my bike on the Carrollton Greenbelt and I reach a formidable hill, I must push through the burn to make it up the hill. The think is, each time I push through and endure, I’m getting stronger.

The Apostle Paul gives some final instructions to the church at Thessalonica about staying strong and enduring. Check this out…

But the Lord is faithful; he will strengthen and guard you from the evil one. We have confidence in the Lord about you, that you are doing and will continue to do what we command. May the Lord direct your hearts to God’s love and Christ’s endurance.

13 But as for you, brothers and sisters, do not grow weary in doing good. (2 Thessalonians 3:3-5,13 CSB)

I often need encouragement to endure. I love having someone spur me on the push through the “quitting points” aka, the pain and endure to the end. If endurance were easy, everyone would endure, but as it is, there are fewer and fewer who stay strong and tough when things get hard. Quitting is easy, endurance is hard.

I am learning that quitting comes often when I listen to my feelings. My feelings are so fickle and selfish. I must use the power of my will and my mind to decide what I’m going to do and how I’m going to face struggles and keep my feelings on the sidelines. I don’t ever “feel” like getting out of bed early in the morning. I don’t “feel” like doing hard work, but I must. I haven’t met many people who “feel” like dieting, but we must control our appetites.

The Lord is faithful and present when I’m pushing hard to endure. He uses tough times and hard experiences to build me. Making good choices is hard work but He is a lot of help. I choose endurance over laziness. I choose to veto my feelings and endure.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Be Encouraged

 

Series of hand gesturesI like the word encouragement. It has that important word “courage” right in the center of it. The word “encourage” means to inspire a spirit of confidence and courage in another. I believe encourage carries hope with it a well. I love people who encourage me and inspire me. I find encouragement in friendship. I find encouragement in corporate worship at church as well as the messages from our Pastor. I find encouragement from my family and they continue to grow as adults. Encouragement can be found all over the place. I must be careful because the nemesis of encouragement is discouragement and he doesn’t give up easily. When I’m discouraged, I see everything differently. I can sink into despair. This can happen easily when being criticized and complained about. This negative force can take the wind out of my soul. I must guard against discouragement by digging deep inside my heart and knowing who I am and Whose I am.  I must return to the roots of my character and disciplines. Check this out…

I want their hearts to be encouraged and joined together in love, so that they may have all the riches of complete understanding and have the knowledge of God’s mystery—Christ. In him are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.

So then, just as you have received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in him, being rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, and overflowing with gratitude. (Colossians 2:2-3;6-7 CSB)

There are lots of “Negative Nellies & Nelsons” in life who put others down trying to make themselves seem big. Be clearly aware of their presence and their tactics. There are also “Positive Petes & Paulas” all around. I want to lean into the positives and learn from the negatives, but I want to be encouraged and live a life of encouragement. I want to grow in my positive outlook on life.

I think the key to encouragement for me is found in the last part of verse 7:

-rooted in Him

– built up in Him

– established in the faith

– return to what I was taught

– overflowing with gratitude

I have been praying that the Lord continue to help me grow in gratitude. A grateful heart pushes out the hateful heart. A grateful heart grows from gratitude while an ungrateful heart wallows in misery. A grateful heart also pushes out fear and worry and welcomes faith and trust inside.

I’m encouraged by the Word of God. I’m encouraged by the Lord as I walk with Him each day. I need to seek Him all day every day!

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Maturity

happy and motivated old people 3dOne of these days I feel like I will grow up. I have officially been placed on the AARP mailing list and that makes me feel old. There are some days when I feel old, yet I’m a good 20 years younger than others who consider themselves old. Being old and mature is somewhat a state of mind. It is interesting to see how some people age more quickly than others. I used to subscribe to the theory of a friend of mine that says, “since I’m a bit overweight, my skin is stretched out and I look younger than I am”. I watched a television documentary on ESPN about the rivalry between the Boston Celtics and Los Angeles Lakers and the players on those teams were 30 years older and some looked quite different. I realize that as I enter the AARP stage of life that I will look “mature” even if I’m not.

Paul gives some final words of encouragement to the church at Corinth in his last letter to them. Check this out…

11 Finally, brothers and sisters, rejoice. Become mature, be encouraged, be of the same mind, be at peace, and the God of love and peace will be with you. (2 Corinthians 13:11 CSB)

I’ve certainly met people who are older, but are not mature. They are whiny and self-centered to the point that I don’t enjoy being around them. I’ve also met other older people who are kind and gracious, realizing that life doesn’t revolve around them. They have learned to love deeply and help others along the way.

Here are a few other characteristics of mature people:

Control their tongue

Show patience with others

Encourage others, especially younger people

Accepting their role in the lives of others

Self-less love

Peace makers

Trusted confidant

Consistently kind

Faithful

Honest

I could make a long list, but I’ll stop there. I want to grow old with grace and truth at the top of mind. I want to be an “old person” that younger people will enjoy being around. I won’t take myself so seriously. I want to finish this life strong with my walk with the Lord obvious to those who live, work and fellowship with me.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Surround

Smiling manI have believed for many years that a wise leader will surround themselves with wise people. It could be argued that if a smart man surrounded himself with idiots, he would then become one. I do believe that our environment has influence upon us, maybe not to that extreme!

When I’m watching TV and the police surround the place where the perpetrator is, you know it’s just about over, unless he had an escape route planned via tunnel. At night when I set the alarm system of my home, I feel like I’m surrounded with some level of protection. I would probably feel a lot safer, if I had secret service level of protection. The Psalmist writes about the Lord’s protection. Check this out…

Those who trust in the Lord are like Mount Zion,
    which cannot be shaken but endures forever.
As the mountains surround Jerusalem,
    so the Lord surrounds his people
    both now and for evermore. (Psalm 125:1-2 NIV)

I feel safe surrounded by the Lord.

I feel protected surrounded by the Lord.

I feel loved surrounded by the Lord.

The Lord’s surround protection works in two ways. He protects me from enemies coming in to attack and He prompts me when I’m stepping outside His protection.

I’m also part of Southern Hills Christian Church and I feel a level of protection from my fellow followers of the Lord. I find encouragement in these surroundings. I find inspiration from my brothers and sister in the Lord. I was also reminded of a passage in Hebrews. Check this out…

1 Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy that was set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. (Hebrews 12:1-3 NIV)

I’m surrounded by the Presence of God.

I’m surrounded by the People of God.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Celebrate!

I love celebrations for the most part. I don’t really like when my opponent gets to celebrate a victory over me. I do like to celebrate wins and victories. I don’t like to celebrate in such a way that it rubs someone else’s face in it. I really like celebration where there’s lots of “winners” and we celebrate together. Celebrations are much more fun when there is lots of others to share it with.

The people of Judah who had returned after 70 years of exile were about to celebrate. They had repaired and rebuilt the broken down wall of Jerusalem. They had repaired and restored the temple. They did all of this in record time and with opposition on all sides. The time had finally come to celebrate and dedicate the wall. Check this out…

27 At the dedication of the wall of Jerusalem, the Levites were sought out from where they lived and were brought to Jerusalem to celebrate joyfully the dedication with songs of thanksgiving and with the music of cymbals, harps and lyres. 28 The musicians also were brought together from the region around Jerusalem – from the villages of the Netophathites, 29 from Beth Gilgal, and from the area of Geba and Azmaveth, for the musicians had built villages for themselves around Jerusalem. 30 When the priests and Levites had purified themselves ceremonially, they purified the people, the gates and the wall. (Nehemiah 12:27-30 NIV)

I love the atmosphere of celebration. The people recognized God’s role in their life and the life of their city. They made the celebration meaningful by inviting others to participate from the region. They had music and singing which are two important elements for celebration. When I think of celebration music, I can’t help but think of Kool & The Gang and their song: “Celebration”.

The Lord loves celebrations. I think He relishes my wins over the enemy. I believe there’s a serious celebration in heaven when someone surrenders his or her heart to the Lord for the first time. I also believe there’s a celebration when a person who once believed repents & returns home to the Lord.

I think celebration is a chocked full of encouragement and fun. I think when we celebrate the little moments it brings even greater joy to the big moments.

I’ve celebrated friendship.

I’ve celebrated marriages.

I’ve celebrated first homes.

I’ve celebrated the arrival of babies.

I’ve celebrated baptisms.

I’ve celebrated the sale of a house.
I’ve celebrated the recovery of something lost.

I want to celebrate today the blessing of God all over me. He is so patient with me and all my foolishness and disobedience. He restores my soul and washes me clean. I believe the hope I have in Him is worth celebrating!

Pressing On!

Dwayne