Tag Archives: Encourage

Offering Grace

She’s on a journey to forgive her rapist.

She forgave the teenagers who mutilated her face.

They forgave the man who slaughtered their children.

These are certainly attention-grabbing headlines, and they start telling the stories of horrific pain and tremendous loss, but they do more. We are not only captivated by the heart wrenching tragedy but the victim’s response.

Each of these stories is an incredible illustration of grace. Each victim offers forgiveness to an individual who did the unthinkable. In turn, serving as an illustration to us.

As Christians, we are encouraged to offer forgiveness, and C. S. Lewis says, “Everyone believes forgiveness is a grand idea until he has something to forgive.” Forgiving can be one of the hardest things you and I are asked to do, but it can also be one of the most liberating.

I’m far from perfect, and I do not have this part of the Christian journey completely figured out. I was encouraged to explore it some more by these stories, and I hope you are as well.

She’s on a journey of forgiveness after rape.

Beverly had a supposed friend who worked for the state. He requested some of her time, and they scheduled an appointment. Entering Beverly’s home under the façade of needing her time, the man took much more than her time; he raped her.

He successfully denied and covered up the act, and he continued to move up the political ladder. Beverly would see him on the news, encounter him at parties, and would be upset.

Two years after the rape, Beverly met a friend who told her of Christ’s forgiveness and protection. Beverly decided to accept Christ’s invitation of grace and begin the journey of maximizing Christ in her life and healing from the hurt caused by the rapist. The Journey may not be completed, but it is started. Beverly’s story is told in Facing Your Giants.

She forgave the teenagers who mutilated her face.

Victoria Ruvolo was on her way home in November 2004. She was returning home after attending a family member’s recital, and it was late, and driving was a little difficult because of the freezing rain. The car she was about to pass may have caught her attention, but she doesn’t remember. The teenage boy hanging out the window may have caught her attention, but again, she does not remember. Nor does she remember seeing the 20-pound frozen turkey the boy was holding in his hand.

The boy launched the turkey at Victoria’s car, smashing her windshield, bending the steering wheel inward, and breaking every bone in her face. Victoria’s face suffered extensive damage and had to be completely restructured.

It took an 8-hour surgery and 3-week hospital stay to even begin the road to recovery. While Victoria was recovering, the wheels of justice were spinning, and the public was voicing outrage at the crime.

Fast forward to August 2005 and enter the court room. The young man who launched the turkey pleaded guilty to a lesser charge and received a sentence of 6 months behind bars, 5 years’ probation, community service, and counseling. The lenient sentence is given at the request of Victoria.

She too was in the court room, and after the hearing, Victoria and the young man came face to face. Both sobbing, Victoria said, I forgive you. I want your life to be all it can be.” The pain and agony caused to Victoria was met with grace and mercy. Victoria’s story is told in Captured by Grace.

They forgave the man who slaughtered their children.

In October 2006, a gunman entered a one-room Amish schoolhouse and ordered the teacher, teacher’s assistant, and boys to leave. The 10 girls in the class were left alone with the gunman. He covered the windows and was planning for a long siege, but as state police officers surrounded the schoolhouse, he shot the girls and killed himself. 5 girls died, and the other 5 were severely wounded. This was not the only part of the story which made headlines though.

The Amish community publicly forgave the gunman. They befriended the gunman’s wife and children. Marie Monville, the gunman’s wife, recalls to CNN the community showered her family with gifts. They waived at her on the way to the bus stop, and they even attended her husband’s funeral. The families, who were victims of a heinous and unthinkable act, offered grace. Monville tells her story in One Light Still Shines.

Acting

As I mentioned, I do not have forgiveness completely figured out. The individuals in these stories are true illustrations of offering grace to one another, and they encourage me to explore offering forgiveness. I hope they do you as well.

Join me in learning the act of forgiveness and experiencing the liberation it brings.

Please share this post with anyone you believe would find it encouraging.

 

10 Practical Ways to Imitate Compassion

His occupation is beggar, and he has secured a prime spot. The road he sits beside each day is heavily traveled, and it is one of the best spots to be a beggar. He hears the stories about Jesus as he sits there; the stories of Jesus healing people and performing all kinds of miracles, and he wonders if Jesus could help him.

One day the traffic is unusually heavy. At first, he thinks it will be a large collection day. All those people in town would result in much more given. It turns out it is an extraordinary day. Jesus is in town, and now is his shot.

So, Bartimaeus starts shouting for Jesus to have mercy on him. People around him tell him to shut up, but he shouts more until Jesus hears him.

Jesus stops, calls Bartimaeus, and heals his eye condition. Jesus has compassion on him.

We live in a world filled with hurt. There is much need for compassion, and the Lord is compassionate. We are encouraged to imitate his compassion, so here is the picture of what we are to imitate and practical ways we can be imitators. Here are a few more times Jesus demonstrates his compassion.

The Lord is compassionate.

Luke 7 records Jesus and his disciples entering a town. As they were approaching the gate, a dead man was being carried out. The man’s mother, a widow, was following him overwhelmed with sorrow. Luke says, “When Jesus saw her, his heart went out to her.” He was so moved by compassion it drove him to action. Jesus raised her son.

Mark 1:40-42 records a man with leprosy coming to request help from Jesus. Mark tells us Jesus was moved by the situation. Jesus became angry at the man’s situation. He was not angry with the man, but the man’s situation. He healed the man, and Mark says, “immediately, the man’s leprosy left him. Jesus was so moved by compassion that it drove him to action.

Jesus doesn’t just feel sorry for folks. His compassion drives him to action. It drives him to do something about their situation. When Jesus sees people hurting, he takes steps to help them.

So what?

We are encouraged to show compassion as Jesus shows compassion.

Luke 6:36 says, “Be compassionate just as your Father is compassionate.”

Acting

Here are 10 practical ways you and I can show compassion.

  1. Pray for those in need.
  2. Volunteer at a food pantry.
  3. Volunteer at a homeless shelter.
  4. Provide transportation to a neighbor in need.
  5. Offer to pick up groceries or a prescription for a neighbor who has difficulty getting out of her home.
  6. Volunteer with a relief organization to do local projects.
  7. Check on a neighbor to make sure he is doing okay during an extreme weather event.
  8. Try to have a conversation with someone who seems lonely.
  9. Send a card or encouraging note to a friend you know is struggling.
  10. Offer a bit of grace to someone.

How are you going to show compassion today?

What are some other ways we can show compassion?

Share in the comments below, and if you know someone who would find this post encouraging, please share it.

 

Lurking Monsters Don’t Live Under the Bed

“I keep my faith intact. Make sure my prayers are said. Cause I’ve learned the monsters ain’t the ones beneath the bed.”

I love how the Lord’s message can be wrapped in the lyrics of a song. For me, it has a way of grabbing my attention and driving home a point.

Monsters by Eric Church is one such song.

BUY the album Desperate Man at Amazon

The song reminds us there are “monsters” lurking for an opportune time to ambush us. Every mistake cannot be avoided. You and I will mess up, but the Lord will be there to help us. We should keep our faith intact and our prayers said to defeat the “monsters” that do not live beneath the bed.

Jesus Can Take the Wheel

“Save me from this road I’m on. Jesus, take the wheel.”

Song lyrics have the power to cut right to our heart, and the Bible’s message of forgiveness can be place in lyrics without us realizing we are hearing it. Here is one such song.

BUY Jesus, Take the Wheel at Amazon

Jesus, Take the Wheel by Carrie Underwood reminds us it is never too late for a fresh start. Forgiveness is always there for us. The Lord is not going to run out of grace. A new start is always offered to us.

Perhaps it’s time for a new start. This may be the first time, or it may be fresh start number 100; there is no limit to the number of fresh starts you and I can make. Love is patient and kind. It keeps no record of wrongdoing, so God is patient and kind. He keeps no record of wrongdoing.

The start number is not important. Our past is back there, and we must leave it. Now is what matters, that we make this the start which sticks. Today’s choices will chart tomorrow’s course and determine our destination.

The young lady in the song prayed, “Jesus, take the wheel. Take it from my hand. I can’t do this on my own. Save me from this road I’m on.” If this is you crying out, God promises he will.

3 Questions from Three Wooden Crosses

“It’s not what you take when you leave this world behind you; it’s what you leave behind you when you go.”

Welcome to Music Monday. There are many songs whose lyrics reach out and grab listeners by the heart. They present the Lord’s message to us in a place and way we do not expect to hear it.

With Three Wooden Crosses, Randy Travis takes listeners on a dramatic bus trip. The story of the teacher, preacher, farmer, and sex worker leave us pondering 3 questions.

Does our influence matter?

The preacher may have not reached anyone else in his lifetime but reaching the sex worker had a multigenerational impact.

How powerful are our choices?

One choice changed everything for one passenger on the bus. Her story may be like Rahab’s story. Joshua 2 tells us Rahab made a multitude of bad choices, but she changed the direction of her life with one right choice.

BUY Three Wooden Crosses at Amazon

What are we leaving behind?

This may be the deepest of the 3 questions causing us to take a hard look at our legacy. What kind of legacy will you leave? What do you want to leave behind you when you go?

You and I should answer this question for our lives, but also for the various seasons of life. As we transition from one chapter of life to the next, what do we want to leave behind?

What songs grab your heart? Share in the comments below.

Our Work Matters

Colleen was a college student who was working a part-time job to cover bills. Not having a lot of money, Colleen tried to get by on what she had. Her shoes were showing age, but she planned to wear them if they held up.

One morning after church, a lady handed Colleen a box containing a new pair of shoes. “Here you go. I thought we probably wore the same size.” The lady said, “I can’t do much, but I thought I’d buy you a pair of shoes.”

Grateful for the shoes, Colleen replied, “Thank you.”

“Don’t worry about it,” came the answer, “it takes a village to get us through life.”

The shoes were a small thing, but they made a big difference for Colleen. The lady’s act of service was not headline grabbing, but it was meaningful.

Our acts of service matter; our work matters. We may not be the CEO in our company or be in the spotlight at our church, but our contribution is important. The CEO is efficient because of her Administrative Assistant. The leader in the spotlight would fail quickly if not for the team around him. Each person’s role is crucial to success.

Our contribution is valuable.

The Bible says we have something to contribute.

Romans 12:6-8 says, “In his grace God has given us different gifts for doing certain things well, so if God has given you the ability to prophesy, speak up with as much faith as God has given you. If your gift is serving others, serve them well; if you are a teacher, teach well. If your gift is to encourage others, be encouraging. If it is giving, give generously. If God has given you leadership ability, take the responsibility seriously, and if you have a gift for showing kindness to others, do it gladly.”

You and I are part of a community, and our role is just as important as the other roles. We rely on one another, and our interdependence is not a weakness; it is a strength.

To help us understand this, the Bible uses the illustration of the human body. Is the body made of only feet? Can the hand do the job of the eye? No, the body is made of several parts. Each part must do its job for the body to function. The parts work together making the body strong and sustaining its survival.

Our roles are the same. We must each do our role for the community to function. Some roles are in the spotlight, while others are behind the scenes. Some roles encompass many responsibilities, while others embrace only a couple. However, each role is equally important.

We matter at church and at work.

This principle holds true at church and work.

At Church

You may be responsible for teaching a class attended by a handful of kids, but your contribution is still meaningful.

You may be responsible for running the vacuum each week. It may not seem like a big deal, but it’s your contribution keeping the building clean.

You may be the person who arrives early, unlocks the door, turns on the lights, and makes the coffee. It may not seem like much to you, but without you, people would have to break in the building, walk around in the dark, and remain half asleep.

Our contribution to the church matters.

At Work

The Theology of Work project brings to light this principle is the same at work as it is at church. For success, the work team must function as a unit.

Colossians 3:23 says, “Whatever you do work at it with all your heart as working for the Lord….”

The work we do at our job matters. Our contribution is vital to our workplace’s success.

If you stock shelves, stock shelves well. If you answer the phone, answer the phone well. If you tighten bolts, tighten them well. The work you and I do is significant in the overall health of the company.

Think of it this way. An auto factory worker is tasked with tightening lug nuts. He falls for the lie his job doesn’t matter, so he stops making sure the nuts are tight. A truck is delivered with loose lug nuts, and the wheel falls off while it is being driven down the interstate.

The accident causes consumers to question the auto makers safety. In turn, causing sales to slump, the slow sales cause lay offs at the factory. All the trouble started because the factory worker fell for the lie his work did not matter.

The assembly line worker is just as important as the CEO. The custodian is just as important as the CFO. No matter what we do, our work is meaningful.

Please do not fall for the lie your contribution is insignificant and your life does not matter. You do matter, and you do have something to contribute.

Acting

Ask the Lord to help you recognize the meaningfulness of your contribution and opportunities to contribute.

Know a friend who would find this post helpful? Please share it with him or her.

 

Music Monday: The Father, My Son, and the Holy Ghost

Check out the latest episode of Get Encouraged on Spotify!

Welcome to Music Monday. I’m always fascinated by songs that can get us thinking about the Lord without even realizing it. The Lord’s encouragement and truth can sneak into a song and grab listeners by the heart strings. Suddenly a simple song thrusts the Lord’s encouragement and truth right before us. Music Mondays look at some of these songs.

The Father, My Son, and the Holy Ghost by Craig Morgan reminds us of the hope we have in Christ. Morgan wrote the song as a tribute to his late son. It reminds us in the most hopeless situations, the Lord gives hope. The last line sums up our eternal hope. “One day I’ll wake up and I’ll be home with the Father my son, and the Holy Ghost.”

Situations may seem hopeless, but in Christ, there is always hope. If nothing else, Heaven awaits.

10 Ways to Offer Encouragement

Has this ever happened to you? You notice someone having a difficult time and believe they could use encouragement, but you don’t know what to do. I hope I’m not the only one who has had this experience.

To spite our feeling, we have nothing to offer, we do. We can make a difference. Here are some tips and ways to offer encouragement.

4 Tips to Remember

If you are struggling to offer encouragement, here are 4 tips to remember.

Like Jesus Does

We should approach people in the same manner as Jesus. Each time Jesus approaches an individual in the Gospels, he does so compassionately. He shows concern for the situation, and the person can tell he is understanding. We should attempt to approach those around us in the same way.

Everything Counts

We know the value of encouragement, but we convince ourselves what we are going to do is not enough to help. However, every act of encouragement makes a difference. If 4 or 5 people encourage a person in small ways, it doesn’t take long before the person is standing on a mountain of encouragement.

The small things count. Smiling as you go through a cashier’s line, being positive with your waiter, and saying hi to someone as you pass in the grocery store counts. Sending a card or note to a friend who is struggling counts. Every act of encouragement counts in the sum.

Every Day Counts

As you and I go about our daily activities, it is inevitable we’ll meet someone needing encouragement. Make each day count.

Hebrews 3:13 reminds us to encourage one another daily. This verse reminds us to build each other up constantly. Discouragement never vacations, so we cannot afford to take a day off.

No One is Exempt

Everyone will need encouragement at some point. Discouragement knows how to sneak into everyone’s life, and it seems the Lord responds by placing people in our lives to encourage us, so we should always be ready to offer encouragement.

Satan’s Yard Sale

There is an old story told in which the Devil is having a yard sale. He’s ran out of room in his workshop, and he opens the doors to perspective buyers. The tools of worry, strife, anxiety and division were priced to move.

One buyer noticed a well-used, old tool lying on a corner shelf. As the man was looking at it, Satan said, “That tool is not for sale.”

“I’ll give you whatever you want for it,” the man replied, “just name your price.”

Again, the devil said, “It is not for sale.” Only this time, he offered an explanation. “All the tools for sale are useful. They help me sway people in my direction, but the tool you are holding is responsible for causing the most havoc. For people than my other tools combined.”

The man realized the label was worn and he could not read it, so he asked, “What tool is it?”

The devil answered, “It is discouragement. I could never part with it. I would give up all my other tools, but never this tool of discouragement.”

10 Ways to Offer Encouragement

It is important for us to receive encouragement, so here are 10 ways to offer encouragement.

  • Smile at a cashier as you go through his or her line.
  • Tip a waiter who is obviously having a bad day
  • Greet a person as you pass in the store.
  • Send a card or note.
  • Provide a meal to a friend you know is ill.
  • Tell a coworker “Good job.”
  • Pay for the person behind you in the coffee shop line.
  • Give a small gift.
  • Offer to pray for a friend.
  • Share your favorite passage of Scripture with a neighbor.

Acting

Offer encouragement to a coworker, friend, or neighbor in the next few days. Share your experience in the comments below. What ways do you offer encouragement? Share in the comments. Know someone who would find this post helpful? Please share it.