3 Sure-Fire Ways To Encourage Someone

The Greek verb “to encourage” means “to come alongside.”  It’s what we do when a car battery gets depleted.  Someone literally pulls alongside and gives us a jump, infusing our weak battery with energy from their functioning one.  They connect with us in a way that restores the battery’s capacity to do its job.  The ministry of encouragement is giving folks a jump when stressors or setbacks have drained their batteries. Here are 3 effective ways to infuse others with strength. 1. Write a hand-written letter of affirmation. Slide the letter into an envelope and mail it.  Don’t type it or email it or give it to them in person.  There’s something about receiving a positive note in the mail that enhances the element of surprise and embellishes the joy. In 25 Ways To Win with People, John Maxwell says that hand-written encouragement eclipses even the power of verbal face-to-face compliments.  Here’s his research-backed remark:  “When a word of encouragement is written down for another person, it is often perceived to be more genuine than when it is spoken.”  Perhaps the rarity of a hand-written note in this era of social media explains its emotional impact. Select one of these ways …

7 QUESTIONS FOR SPIRITUAL GIFT DISCOVERY 

As a mentor, church staff member, or small group leader, one of your privileges is to add to the Lord’s labor force by helping others discover their spiritual gifts.  What follows is a list of 7 questions you can use with a protégé, in a new members’ class, with a small group, or in the final session of a course on spiritual gifts. DISCOVERING YOUR SPIRITUAL GIFT Your spiritual gift is a gracious provision from God that enables you to serve Him in the church, community, and world for His glory (1 Peter 4:10-11).  It is the capacity or enablement for service that fits the way he put you together.  Every Christian has been given at least one such gift or capacity (1 Cor. 12:7).  The specific lists of gifts contained in the New Testament –in 1 Corinthians 12, Ephesians 4, Romans 12, and 1 Peter 4—may be representative of capacities for service that God gives, rather than a closed or exhaustive list.  Prayerfully consider the following questions. 1.      What do I enjoy doing for the Lord or for other people?  2.      What ministry efforts has God apparently blessed in the past?  In the realm of service, when have I …

Where are the Tears?

I heard the question 30 years ago. To say I cannot forget it is the classic understatement.  To this day the question and the remarks that preceded it roil around in my mind, goading me, instilling discomfort. David Mains was speaking at a Bible conference on the topic, “Enduring Characteristics of Revival.”  He had heard pundits who claimed that the church in America, at that time, was on the cusp of revival.  A few leaders were citing growing churches, conversions of persons with national name recognition, and a stirring of God’s Spirit across denominational lines as evidence. Was a contemporary version of the Great Awakening on the horizon? Not according to Mains.  “I don’t believe we’re anywhere near revival,” he intoned.  “Where are the tears?” Then David gave story after story from the history of revival movements—in the U.S. and abroad—to show that genuine revival is always accompanied by weeping and brokenness over sin.  Not just among those coming to Christ, but among God’s people who had been too flippant about His holiness, and their own.  He also cited Bible texts that call for deep anguish and tears over spiritual complacency. The tears he cited weren’t those prompted by painful …

Whatever Happened To Shame?

Is a sense of shame always a bad thing? Many Bible teachers and counselors reply with a resounding “Yes!” There’s no place for shame in a Christian’s life, they insist.  Thanks to forgiveness, and to our right standing with God owing to justification, we shouldn’t feel embarrassment, dishonor, or humiliation over sins covered by the blood of Jesus. I, too, think that many believers fail to appropriate Jesus’ work on the cross.  They live with false guilt, striving to add to Jesus’ sacrifice by bearing the emotional burden of their own sins.  How preposterous: trying to add nails to the crucified body of Christ, as if what happened 2000 years ago wasn’t sufficient. But… There is a biblical tension on the issue of “feeling ashamed” about our sin.  On one hand, there’s overwhelming grace and the mind-blowing truth of Jesus’ imputed righteousness applied to us.  There is no condemnation for those in Christ (Rom. 8:1). We don’t face God’s wrath because His justice was satisfied (propitiated) on the cross through the death of our Substitute.  On the other hand, there’s a clarion call for God’s people to grieve over their sin, because of its effect on God and on other …