In that sermon that I preached a few weeks ago, I explained that the Bible tells us that we need to CONSIDER how we can stimulate others to love and good deeds. We need to CONSIDER how we can encourage one another. Those thoughts are right out of Hebrews 10:24-25.
When you CONSIDER how to do something, you make a PLAN. But, what are the components of an encouragement plan?
Step 1: Answer the “who” questions.
- Who do you have in your life that you can encourage?
- Who do you give voice to in your life to encourage you?
It’s most efficient when the answers to the above questions are the same people, but it’s not necessary.
If you can’t answer the questions above, do something about it. My recommendation is to commit to a church and meet with people until those questions get answered (Hebrews 10:25). If you are visiting churches, look to see if they help create environments for you to develop relationships of significance. If they aren’t, move on, and try a different place.
What are your answers to the “who” questions?
Ok. So, every now and then, they let me teach in “big church,” which gets recorded. That happened last Sunday, and I taught on the topic of discouragement and how we can be encouragers of one another. About minute 22:00, I started talking about making a plan. Due to time limitations, all I could say, was “we should have a plan.” I believe this is a good platform to dive deeper into what that plan could look like. That’ll be the topic of my future posts. The next one will drop in a few days. Check back. Alongside…
A few times a year, I get the opportunity to preach “in big church” as I labeled it as a kid. And, for me, the process is fascinating, challenging and rewarding. I feel that way, mostly because of what it reveals about God. But, I also feel that way, partly because of what it reveals about me.
I’m preaching in the morning at Istrouma Baptist Church, and in preparation for doing so, here are the 6 things I noticed about myself:
- I love God’s Word. I realized this week, that the passage I’m preaching on tomorrow is one that I recently preached on. But, this time, I saw different things. God’s Word is deep like that, and I love it.
- I’m more confident in my head than I am in the real world. I thoroughly enjoy reading, studying, and praying over a text. And, in my head, it sounds great. Putting it on paper is where it gets hard. Courage issue? Clarity issue? Who knows?
- I love to draw from others who have already traveled the path before me. I do my own reading and studying, but when it comes to putting it all together in a communicable format with memorable illustrations, I need help. And, with the help of technology, there’s a lot of help out there. Thanks Tony Evans for some of the illustrations I’m using tomorrow.
- I still prioritize my family. It’s Saturday night, 11:00 PM, and I still have to go pick up my girl from her friend’s house across town. Part of me feels like I should be asleep so I can be at my best in the morning. The majority of me says, “Nah. It’s all good. Be a dad.”
- I still feel a sense of wonder about what God can do. And, that’s a big deal for me. As I’m getting older, I’m becoming more cynical. I’m just “over” a lot of things in life. I know I’m on a path to being Hank, the photographer on Parenthood (played by Ray Ramano). And, I know that’s not good. Thankfully, God and His Word still keeps me amazed.
- I am blessed! Not in a “see my toes in the sand on instagram kind of way,” but in a way that makes me so thankful that God can still use me, in spite of all the dumb things I’ve done in my life. I’m thankful for His grace, and that I was a full blown adult before camera phones and social media.
We don’t have to get set up to preach a sermon to allow God to use us. I hope you see how He can and is using you. And, in the process, I hope you learn some things about yourself.
I recently had the privilege to baptize 2 friends of mine, and their stories are powerful! As they worked through the loss of a child, God drew them to Himself. Now, they live in such a way that everyone that knows them, sees the grace of Christ in them. Watch and listen to Andrew’s story below:
And, his wife, Conitra’s take on what happened:
What does suffering and loss do for you? Does it draw you closer to God or farther away? How do you work through suffering and loss?
It’s simple, but not easy, to break down barriers with others, and it involves speaking the same language.
Last week, I was standing in a buffet line at a Chinese restaurant. The lady in front of me accidentally knocked her empty cup off of the food bar. She glanced back and saw me pick it up and return it. Then, she surprised me by not even saying, “thank you.” Upon further observation, I noticed that she looked like she was from a different country, and I rapidly concluded that she probably just spoke a different language. However, I then thought that she could have communicated using more common language…a smile and a nod, or a “thumbs up” perhaps. But, maybe even that language wasn’t common for her.
Later in the week, my 15 year old daughter sent me a recipe on my mostly dormant, rarely used Pinterest account. I opened that account years ago, but didn’t understand why I needed it. But now, my daughter and I have more common language. And, it started with avocado chicken salad with cilantro and lime. We also currently share the language of “Dancing With The Stars.” I know I lose some “man points” in all of this, but it’s worth it. In regaining some “man points,” you should know that it’s easier for my son and me. We regularly speak basketball, hunting, and weaponry.