A Spark in the Darkness.

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Shootings in Dallas. Riots in Charlotte. Explosions in New York.

Deceit in the debate hall.

Worry abounds.

When darkness prevails and our grief overwhelms us, how do we get through it? What do we hold on to?  Continue reading

Edify: Building a Strong Generation

This article is part of the series “Raising GenNext.” You can read the previous post by clicking here.

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Edify comes from the Greek “oikodomḗ” meaning ‘the act of building.’ We often use this word as a reference to spiritual encouragement. Edification is more than perfunctory praise; it is the endeavor to construct something strong.

To date, we have covered the first 4 E’s of Raising GenNext—Engage, Exemplify, Equip, and Entrust. This next E—Edify—is a critical part of the process. There is nothing worse for a person than to put out the effort to do something challenging, only to be ripped to shreds with the knives of criticism.

The millennial generation stands accused of being coddled with superficial praise. However, I believe that many of them (and other generations) can distinguish between genuine encouragement and false flattery. If we truly want to edify our children, new converts, and current Christians, our encouragement must be authentic and constructiveContinue reading

Why “going through the motions” is necessary at times

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There is a popular song that plays occasionally on the Christian radio station called “The Motions.” I had to look up the lyrics because I could only remember the chorus (even after I looked them up, they made little sense to me). This is how the chorus goes:

I don’t wanna go through the motions
I don’t wanna go one more day
Without Your all consuming passion inside of me

I don’t wanna spend my whole life asking
What if I had given everything
Instead of going through the motions?

(Full lyrics can be read here.)

Not to slaughter anyone’s sacred cow (or song), but this song has got it backwards. Continue reading

Keep on fighting (day 23 of the #encourage marathon)

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Fight the good fight of the faith.

Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called and about which you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses.”

~ ‭‭1 Timothy‬ ‭6:12‬ ‭ESV‬‬

Welcome to mile marker 23 of the #encourage marathon. (If you missed yesterday’s post, you can read it here.)

Someone out there is tired of fighting. It might even be you.

We spent three days of the marathon talking about the armor of God:

Once you’ve equipped yourself for battle, it’s time to engage in the fight.

Ephesians 6.12  describes what we are up against:

For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.

As much as I would love to see peace on earth, the cynic/realist/pessimist in me knows that if 1 billion people laid down their arms, there’d be at least 100 people secretly hoarding the deadliest weapons in order to stage a takeover. Satan has no desire for mankind to dwell peacefully together, being the original manufacturer of strife. So, let’s get real, and face the fact that as long as we are alive on this earth, there will be all sorts of wars—wars of words, wars of ideas, wars of conquest, wars of greed, wars to overthrow injustice, wars to resist oppression, and wars to depose dictators.

What battle are we called to fight as Christians? Continue reading

What would you do without your Bible? (day 17 of the #encourage marathon)

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For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.

~ Romans 15.4, ESV

Welcome to mile-marker 17 of our #encourage marathon. (If you missed yesterday’s post, you can read it here.)

Someone out there has a starving soul. It might even be you.

What is your reaction when you misplace your cell phone? What do you do when you leave home without it? Do you feel a spike in your stress level?

Why?

Because we use our phones for everything. It’s a source for music, books, news, communication, information, weather, and navigation. We can get help instantly in an emergency (as long as we have a signal). We can even monitor our home security systems. It’s become a valuable tool and a lot of people would feel lost without it… unfortunately.

Now, what would happen if your only bible went missing? Continue reading

Lift those drooping hands! (Day 8 of the #encourage marathon)

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Therefore lift your drooping hands
and strengthen your weak knees,
and make straight paths for your feet,
so that what is lame may not be put out of joint
but rather be healed.

‭‭~Hebrews‬ ‭12:12-13‬ ‭ESV‬‬

It’s Day 8 of our 26-day #Encourage Marathon! (You can read yesterday’s post here.)

Someone out there needs a little motivation. It might even be you.

I signed up for the Army JROTC program in High School. My primary reason for joining up was so I could do actual physical activity. The past three years of public school P.E. had been pathetic and I did not anticipate the high school version to be an improvement. My other reason was to get a taste—however limited—of the military.

The PT (Physical Training) was not a disappointment. We usually worked out as a unit. We ran and stretched in formation, did calisthenics in formation, and sang cadence as we pounded (in straight formation rows) around the track. It may sound a bit odd, but I rather enjoyed being hollered at during PT. It was a push to work harder. If Major Bachmann wasn’t barking out, “pick your knees up!” the Platoon leader was shouting, “quit slouching and move it!” While it may sound like a great place to create bullies, it really didn’t. The loud shouts served multiple purposes—it allowed the leader to be heard, created alertness, and strengthened us against intimidation.

In the real military, the soldier must be prepared to face the enemy. Why do you think boot camp is so intense? If a soldier can’t handle a little in-your-face from a commander, they’ll either be slaughtered under the strain of battle or cause loss of life because of their fearful inaction.

If your running is getting slow, or you’re starting to slack off, it’s time for a little sergeant-major-style motivation.

“Lift your drooping hands!” (Start praying!)

“Strengthen your weak knees!” (Get to studying!)

“Make straight paths for your feet!” (Make good choices!)

There are times when we get worn out with struggle. We stop studying. We fail to pray. We aren’t on the alert. We walk in a stupor, shoulders hunched, rubbing every ache. Because we are looking down, we take wrong turns. The Hebrew writer here is practically shouting: “SNAP OUT OF IT!”

Let’s face it—sometimes we need gentle encouragement and sometimes we need a swift kick.

If you’re slouching through this race, it’s time to get your eyes off the ground and fix them on Jesus.

One more rep. One more step.Do the next right thing.


I hope you’ll continue to join me on FacebookTwitter and here at Elihu’s Corner for this marathon. Share this verse on your Twitter feed or Facebook page (#encourage). Take time today to copy down this verse for yourself. Send an email or text to someone you know who would benefit from this encouragement.

I cannot encourage you enough to write down these verses. Studies have shown that the physical act of writing increases retention far more than typing or reading.

[If you click on the link in the above passage, it will take you to BibleGateway.com. From here, you can click a link which allows you to share directly to Twitter, Facebook or send an email.]

If you missed the original post listing all 26 passages, click here to download the PDF list.

26 Passages for your Marathon (with free printable)

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Marathon:

“A long-distance running event with an official distance of 42.195 kilometres (26.219 miles, or 26 miles 385 yards),usually run as a road race.”

(source: wikipedia)

Living the life of a Christian is like a long-distance run. Endurance is necessary to overcome every obstacle, including our own fatigue. God provides abundant assistance in this marathon—fellow runners, water, sustenance, solid shoes and some nice things to look at from time to time, but it is incumbent on us to hold up our end. We have to keep running.

My last two posts—Overcome or overcomer? and What is your ‘Why’?—have discussed both purpose and endurance. I see people everywhere fighting to stay positive, struggling to find purposes, and drowning in physical battles. We need to encourage each other to stick close to Christ, pressing on towards the ultimate goal.

I have searched for passages that talk about endurance, refreshing, persevering, etcetera and I came up with 26 passages in honor of the official distance of a marathon. (Okay, I missed the 0.2, but I’m not big on partial verses.) Whenever we traverse through a challenge, be it physical or spiritual, it’s a good practice to seek aid through the scriptures, copy down verses that encourage, and meditate on God’s promises to us. Feeling alone? Seek verses about God’s presence. Feeling sad? Look for verses on God’s comfort. Commit those passages to memory and roll them over in your mind. In so doing, you will be centering your heart on those things that are true, noble, praiseworthy etcetera.

If you or someone you know is struggling right now, download the PDF and spend the next 26 days copying down and meditating on the above passages. Send the verse to someone you know in a card, text or email. Let’s encourage one another to keep on toward the goal. I will post one verse per day on the Elihu’s Corner Facebook Page and on the Twitter Feed beginning tomorrow.

Download the above picture or print out this free PDF  and join me for 26 days of encouragement.

Are you tired yet?

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I posted this on our Facebook page this morning, and I wanted to share it with those of you who are not on Facebook as well.

Word of the day: endurance!

Definition: the ability to withstand hardship or adversity; especially: the ability to sustain a prolonged stressful effort or activity. From Merriam-Webster.com.

In the effective prayer post yesterday, I talked about praying for and encouraging the “strong” Christians. These are the people who are like rocks—strong, undaunted and seemingly unbreakable—but they are not unbreakable.

Today, I read this passage in Hebrews:

Therefore do not throw away your confidence, which has a great reward. For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God you may receive what is promised. 

For, “Yet a little while, and the coming one will come and will not delay; but my righteous one shall live by faith, and if he shrinks back, my soul has no pleasure in him.”

But we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who have faith and preserve their souls.

Hebrews 10.35-39, ESV, emphasis mine

You might be under great duress. You may be discouraged and frustrated with all the apathy towards God and His truth. I know that I am.

If you are overseas and under persecution, my prayers are with you. Don’t give up. Have courage: the reward is far greater than the suffering.

Press on, my friends. Press on to know the Lord. Press on towards the goal which is an eternity of knowing God as He knows us. I look forward to that day.

This is a hard race. Pace yourself and run through the pain.

If you haven’t sent a card or email or text of encouragement to the person you are praying for, you might want to include this passage from Hebrews.

Praying the Word of the Lord.

grace and peace This morning, as I read the Psalms, I was moved particularly by Psalm 20.

Have you ever watched as someone struggled their way through difficulty, and longed to have the right words for them?

Have you ever wanted to pray blessings for a brother or sister in the Lord and the words just seem so… lame?

As I considered that Psalm this morning I thought of several people enduring difficulties and thought “this is what I would ask for them!’ Consider the following (taken from the NIV translation): Verse 1:

May the Lord answer you when you are in distress; May the name of the God of Jacob protect you.

Verses 4-5:

May He give you the desire of your heart and make all your plans succeed.

May we shout for joy over your victory and lift up our banners in the name of our God.

May the Lord grant all your requests.

Verses 7:

Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God.

To read the Psalm in full, click here.

There are many times in which I quote the Word of God in prayer. Often it is in reference to a promise.

For example: when I am anxious, I turn earnestly to God in prayer (often several times a day or week!) and I will say “Lord, please help me to remember that you are the Lord and nothing is to difficult for you. You have provided for me in so many ways, and I am so thankful. Help me not be anxious. You promise in your word that if we let our requests be made known to you that Your peace, the ‘Peace that surpasses all understanding’ will ‘guard our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.’ Grant me peace, dear Lord, and when I begin to feel afraid, remind me to trust in You.”

I don’t think it ever comes out that beautifully, but that is in essence my thought pattern. He promises peace if we offer up our requests through prayer and supplication with thanksgiving (don’t forget that part!). The full passage is Philippians 4.6-7. I quote it often here on the blog, because it is a constant meditation of mine and has tremendously reduced my anxiety level.

Going back to the above Psalm, I would encourage you to write it on a piece of paper and where it says “you” and “your” insert the name of the person going through struggles or a person on whom you desire the Lord to bless.

For example:

Verse 1:

May the Lord answer [Nathanael] when [he is] in distress; May the name of the God of Jacob protect [him].

May He send [Nathanael] help from the sanctuary and grant [him] support from Zion.

Obviously, you’ll have to use he/she or him/her from time to time, but the idea is that you are praying this prayer for a particular person.

Someone may take issue with this, but let me make one thing abundantly clear: I have no desire to change the actual word of the Lord. The desire is to pray the words of the Psalm and to do so, some pronouns have to be changed in your prayer. Just like in the above example using Philippians 4.16. I didn’t quote the entirety of the verse, but I relayed the essence of it to God.

Approach it with humility in this fashion:

“Lord, you know the struggles of [insert name]. I want to pray the blessings that your servant David wrote in Your Word on [insert name]. And then read what you have written as you pray. You aren’t trying to change the Word of God. You don’t want this published nor do you want people to think that Psalm was written only for that person. You are praying the Word of God.

After you have prayed for that individual, send them some encouragement. You can type an email, or send them a card, but send them the full text of the Psalm (not your prayer version, but the one from the Bible with the “you” and “yours”) and tell them “This is my prayer for you this week.”

Do you ever pray the words of the Bible in your prayers? Is there a specific passage?

Encouragement

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I hope that you have been diligently praying for the wives of your overseers/elders this week.

Part of effective prayer is watching for the results.

Please get in touch with these ladies in your church and give them some encouragement. Send them a text, email, card or just give them a call. Let them know that you have been thinking about them and praying for them. If you want, tell them specifically what you are praying for them. There is nothing more uplifting then to know that someone has been praying to our God—the Creator of all the earth, the all-knowing, all-seeing, all-powerful God—on your behalf.

It’s even more heartwarming to know that the prayers were unasked for.

As Christians, we need to help each other strive toward heaven.

For God has not destined us for wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us so that whether we are away or asleep we might live with Him. Therefore, encourage one another and build one another up just as you are doing

1 Thessalonians 5:9-11 ESV, emphasis mine

Keep praying to great effect!