Posts Tagged ‘encouragement’

During this season of Lent, the 40 days preceding Easter, I have undertaken to write 5 posts a week.  I have been blogging for about 7 years now.  The posts have definitely ebbed and flowed.  It’s exciting when I am inspired to write and share God-stories with you or wisdom that I sense the Holy Spirit bubbling up within my spirit.  There have been times though when I purposed to write and it has been like trying to draw water from a dry well.  I notice I have 35 drafts that were blog post starts that have not made it.  Setting the expectation of writing 5 posts a week is the type of challenge that has, at times, caused me to encounter the dry well.  That is what happens when we operate in our own strength.  But this season is turning out to be something different… something richer, an altogether new and exciting experience.  I believe I understand why and it’s today’s topic.

This morning as I awoke I immediately entered into prayer and meditation about what the Lord would have me share.  Okay, truth be told, my first alarm at 4:30 woke me and I started praying and meditating, but staying in the bed also meant the second alarm at 5 is what actually got me fully awake and out of bed.  One of the things I have been praying for is greater understanding on why the Lord has me in this wonderful season of clarity for hearing His voice and sensing His leading.  It seems He gave me at least some insight this morning.

During this morning’s prayer I had this visual image that was very pleasant.  Over the years we’ve bought Christmas decorations during the post season sales.  It turns out we have about 1.3 miles of white Christmas lights.  The visual image began with the site of our typical Christmas tree with two or three strands of lights on it.  It’s pretty with lot’s of ornaments made by family members and little points of light interspersed about.  You can clearly see the tree, the ornaments, and little glowing spots.  But then the image changed.  Suddenly the tree was wrapped with the entire 1.3 mile strand of Christmas lights and we had an entirely different situation.  You could barely see the tree because the light emanating from it, but the shape was there.  The little lights that had highlighted the bobbles on the tree previously now were illuminating the entire room with a bright and joyful light.  Everything was richly aglow with light coming from the light-filled tree.  That’s when the Holy Spirit spoke this morning and said, “Be Filled!”

That short phrase rang familiar and I looked it up.  In Ephesians Paul is giving exhortations to the Church and the phrase shows up.  ‘Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit. Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. ‘  Ephesians 5:18-20

That Christmas tree was filled with light and I can see an amazing lesson in it.  I am in a season that I hope never ends.  In fact I hope it is not a season, but the result of progress in being transformed.  It’s the transformation that we are all called to in Romans 12:1-2 ‘Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.”  I have been a Jesus follower for a long time.  I have experienced the clear leading of the Holy Spirit on various occasions and it always gives me great joy.  But all my previous experiences have been more like our typical Christmas tree with little points of light interspersed here and there.  The light was visible, but the tree was still the predominant feature.

But lately, I have been sensing the Lord’s hand upon me, guiding me with a greater frequency and clarity than I have ever experienced.  Continuing the metaphor, additional strands of light are being wrapped around me and more light is shining through.  Halleluia!

At this point a little insight into what’s been happening inside of me may be informative in your walk with the Lord and desire to Be Filled.  As I mentioned earlier I have been a Jesus follower for a long time.  I have tried to be faithful in every area.  I would have seasons of additional focused attention in reading the Word, prayer, loving my wife and family sacrificially, etc.  But I have always been a busy person too.  I have worked in stressful jobs, long hours, lots of responsibilities.  And I’ve tended to be as busy as my work life allowed outside of work… youth leader at church, scoutmaster, soccer coach and active parent, small group leader, etc.

The past few years as our children have reached adulthood and begun families of their own, my wife an I have found ourselves with a little margin in our lives.  We’ve added a bit of travel to our lives which has been fun.  But last year’s trip was interrupted when I broke my shoulder.  If you have read that story it a pretty good one and it is informative to the point I’m making.  With the broken shoulder I was not making any income.  I work for myself and I don’t have supplemental insurance.  So we could have been in a financial difficulty.  But all through that season of being out of work the Lord kept telling me, “Trust Me.”  “Rest in Me.”  “Relax and Lean into Me.”  All words of encouragement for me to let go of my striving and busyness.  So I did.  I used the down time to read more, both the bible and great teaching books.  I also was able to serve more.  It has been such a blessing to get to know my care pastor at church better.  And I’ve definitely prayed more.

Breaking my shoulder provided an opportunity.  It was the prompting of the Lord, definitely subtle at first but growing stronger every day, to pick up different spiritual disciplines that got me to a stronger place.  There are “okay” things I could do that I find I am doing less.  I have not completely cut out activities like going to ball games or watching a good show on TV.  But those things have diminished greatly and anything questionable has been dropped completely.  I travel a lot for my work and since November I have been back on the road a lot.  But the TV doesn’t come on.  I’m now drawn to pray, read the Word or an edifying book, or work-out (which includes prayer and meditation).  It seems to me that with each time I am faced with a choice of doing something okay, I am pausing to see if there is something else the Lord would have me do.  If there is, I am tending to do it.  And each time I respond following that leading to do the thing I sense the Lord directing me to, there is greater clarity the next time the Holy Spirit prompts me to do something.

Before I head to the close today, I need to tell you about the other scripture the Lord brought to mind right after He said, “Be Filled.”  Since I knew the topic was “Be Filled” I threw off the sheets and popped out of bed.  But as soon as my feet hit the floor I thought of the widow of Zarephath.  Here’s her story.

Then the word of the Lord came to him: “Go at once to Zarephath in the region of Sidon and stay there. I have directed a widow there to supply you with food.” So he went to Zarephath. When he came to the town gate, a widow was there gathering sticks. He called to her and asked, “Would you bring me a little water in a jar so I may have a drink?” As she was going to get it, he called, “And bring me, please, a piece of bread.” “As surely as the Lord your God lives,” she replied, “I don’t have any bread—only a handful of flour in a jar and a little olive oil in a jug. I am gathering a few sticks to take home and make a meal for myself and my son, that we may eat it—and die.” Elijah said to her, “Don’t be afraid. Go home and do as you have said. But first make a small loaf of bread for me from what you have and bring it to me, and then make something for yourself and your son. For this is what the Lord , the God of Israel, says: ‘The jar of flour will not be used up and the jug of oil will not run dry until the day the Lord sends rain on the land.’ ” She went away and did as Elijah had told her. So there was food every day for Elijah and for the woman and her family. For the jar of flour was not used up and the jug of oil did not run dry, in keeping with the word of the Lord spoken by Elijah. ‘  1 Kings 17:8-16

As long as the woman continued to use the oil and serve the Lord and the ones He brought to her, the jar of oil was filled.  When we follow the Lord’s lead, when we minister when and where He guides us, we will be filled.  There is also something important about what I shared in my life over the past several months.  When I have the opportunity to use my time in different ways, I ask for His guidance and then follow it.  I have been engaged in spiritually edifying activities more, but not to the exclusion of family, friends and other things.  (A topic for a future post will explain how in my past I engaged in activities that should have been spiritually edifying, but I did so in a more legalistic manner without proper regard for family, friends, and the leading of the Holy Spirit.  They tended to fill my head with knowledge, but my spirit was unfruitful.)

This week has been as eventful in a positive way as most recently.  There was a great meeting with the Group’s pastor at church.  You expect those to go well, but there is a qualitative difference between a good meeting and a spirit-led meeting.  It was a spirit-led meeting.  Then I had to drive 200 miles to a plant for work.  I stopped to get gas and a coffee since it was an early morning drive.  As I got back in my truck, the Lord said, go tell the cashier, “It’s All Good.”  Yes, I questioned Him a couple times on that one.  I almost turned the key to back out.  Just thinking about going in I began to feel self-conscious.  But I remembered I had promised the Lord many years ago after I rationalized away a very clear prompting of the Lord that had a tragic end, that I would always obey Him if He clearly asked me to do something, no matter how uncomfortable it might be.  So I went back in .

Wouldn’t you know it, there was now a long line.  Rather than shouting from the door, “Yo cashier lady, God said to tell you, “It’s All Good'”, I decided to buy two bottles of water I didn’t need.  When I got in line, it was obvious she was having a problem doing some task for a customer.  Another cashier came to the adjacent register and started taking customers.  Now I was worried that I wouldn’t get to the right cashier.  I knew who the word was for and I knew what I was to say.  I had no idea how she would respond (although I hoped it would be with an indrawn breath and wide eyes of wonder).  The line kept moving to the new cashier and my cashier kept having problems.  Finally it looked like she was about to finish with her customer, but now I had a new problem.  There was a person in front of me in line.  If she finished, he was going to her and I would have to go to the cashier-who-is-not-the-right-one.  “Lord if you want me to give her this message, please let me go to her.”  It was a photo-finish.  The other cashier ripped off the receipt for the customer and said, “Who’s next” just a moment before my cashier looked up to see me standing in her queue.

I handed her the two bottles of water and said, “I was in here earlier, but when I got in my truck the Lord told me to come in and tell you, (slightly dramatic pause here) “It’s All Good.”  At that moment I kind of wished the Lord had given me something a little more eloquent or definitive, but that’s exactly what He said to say.  So I said it.  Well I didn’t get the wide eyes and gasp of wonder.  But I did get enough.  She looked at me and we made eye contact.  You know how in so many instances people look at you with the dull, unseeing eyes.  Well she really saw me and a little smile crossed her mouth and into her eyes.  I walked out thankful that I had given her the word the Lord told me to give her.  I don’t know what it was about but as I drove away, I was praising Him and praying that His words would resonate in her and that they would accomplish exactly what He knew they were to accomplish.

As I’m typing this I realize those words are pretty good words for me… and for us.  So I close today telling you what the Lord told that middle-aged, seemingly harassed cashier, “It’s All Good!”

Indeed, with the Lord it is all good and VERY GOOD!

Have a blessed day my friend.

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We all have a purpose.  In fact, most of us have multiple purposes.  For example, with four children I know that one of my purposes is to love, train, and encourage my children to find and fulfill their purpose in life.  I also recognize that I have a specific calling to be an encourager.  It is a joy for me to have an apt word that picks someone up, that opens their eyes to possibilities, to see a truth click within them.  Since I am flying a lot now I get to meet new people almost every trip.  Yesterday I had the pleasure of sitting next to an encourager.  Her name was Jeb.

Jeb is a two-time cancer survivor – 8 and then 5 years ago.  She was actually traveling home for an intermediate stay between visits to a hospital in another state.  She is having follow up treatments for different ailment, one that had almost claimed her life recently.  However her joyful, exuberant spirit belied her medical challenges and, if she had not told me, I would never have guessed that she had been through these challenges.  One of the things we learned fairly early is that we share a faith in God and recognize that Jesus Christ in our savior.

One story that Jeb shared about her second round of chemo really resonated with me.  Having been through surgery and chemo once already, the memory of how difficult it was the first time weighed heavily on her mind.  She asked the Lord to help her through and she specifically asked to see a minor miracle each day as she walked through the trial of chemo.  Well, our Father honored that prayer.  I was blessed as she shared a number of ways that God provided minor miracles every day.  The side-effects were actually more severe the second time, but as she experienced God’s touch through miracles, primarily through nature, I could see that He provided just what she needed, when she needed it.

Jeb accepted that she had cancer.  But she chose to seek life holding firmly onto God’s hand.  And because she did, I had the opportunity to be encouraged by her.  Thank you Jeb for sharing your life with me in that hour or so we sat and chatted.  And thank you Father for arranging divine meetings.

I recognize that not everyone has the calling of being an encourager, but we all are called to know God and make Him known.  I encourage you today to seek His face.  He is there and He will respond.  Faith is necessary, but my experience (as well as the testimony of scripture) is that if you truly and earnestly seek Him, God will meet you where you are and draw you to Himself.  And life with Him is our ultimate purpose.

I hope to post an encouraging word each day through Lent.  Please feel free to comment.  I would also love to pray for or with you.  Send me a private message and we will correspond.

Be blessed today my friend.



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Do you have a specific calling from the Lord?  All followers of Jesus have the great commission which applies to the Church universal and we each have a gift or gifts that God has given us for the proclamation of the Gospel and the edification of the Church.  However, I suspect that many of us are uncertain whether we have a specific calling from the Lord.  You see, this morning it just became very clear to me what my calling is even though I have been a follower of Jesus since 1983.  The fact that I just received this crystal clarity doesn’t mean I have not walked in my calling.  As I think of the times in my life that I have felt the most joyful, the most fulfilled, they have been when I was walking in my calling.  Before I go further I will tell you that my calling is to be an Encourager.

Looking back on one of my formative God stories I realize that God spoke the call to me, but I concentrated on the wrong part of the word He gave.  In May or June of 1989 I awoke in the middle of the night knowing God was present.  I slipped out of bed and onto my knees ready to pray for whatever burden the Lord put on my heart.  But no desperate need arose for me to pray about.  I remember thinking / praying, “What is it Lord?”  Then I heard Him speak to my heart.  “I am going to have you say special things to special people.  And to prove it, I’m going to take care of your house today.”

For years I have paid more attention to the miraculous provision God made in providing a home for us out of the blue the next day.  But I am struck this morning by the truth of the calling captured in that first sentence.  “I am  going to have you say special things to special people.”

A few years later I experienced another profound revelation from the Lord.  I was feeling led to undertake a three day fast for the first time.  As I pondered this, a friend who attended a Pentecostal church approached me at work one day and said, “Dan, during worship in our service last night, the pastor had a word for you.  He said if you will fast for three days on water only, then the Lord will show you what you are to do.”  I was blown away.  Until that time, I had not mentioned to anyone what I was considering.  So during Holy Week that year I undertook a three day fast.  I will never forget it.  Most importantly I did receive a clear message from the Lord.  Funny thing, it was while I was mowing the lawn on Saturday toward the end of the fast.  The Lord said, “I have not called you to be a preacher and I have not called you to be a teacher, I have called you to be a man of prayer.  You will preach and you will teach, but first and foremost I have called you to be a man of prayer.”

You see I had the notion I was waiting for God to call me into the ordained ministry.  I loved Him.  I thrilled at reading and sharing the Word.  And I desperately wanted people to experience the new life in Christ, the abundant life in Christ that I had found.  My vision of calling and ministry was fairly narrow and was confined to becoming a minister in a church.  Even as my understanding grew, I did not grasp the fact that I had a calling and, with some degree of consistency, I was walking it out.

So the point of today is simple.  God has a general calling on your life which is to honor and glorify Him, but He also has a specific call on your life.  The following steps will help you find your specific calling.

1) Begin by asking Him to guide you and use you.  As you lean on and trust in Him, He will lead you to your calling.

2) What are you passionate about?  What brings you the greatest joy?  For myself and for many others, we are most alive and impassioned when we are doing what God has created us to do.

3) What are you good at?  The talents we possess are gifts from God.  They are given to us, first and foremost, to glorify Him.  They generally also help to provide for us, although that is not always true.  An example comes to mind.  Early in my faith walk, I told God I would gladly go into the mission field.  I pictured using my engineering skills during the day to help people in a third world country build wells and construct homes by day followed by bible studies and preaching at night.  But the call for me to actually go into foreign missions has not yet come.  It seems likely to me that one of the reasons is my struggle with languages.  For some, like our youngest children and my cousin Richard, languages come very easy, but not for me.  In lieu of actually going overseas on foreign missions, we have been able to support and encourage others who have that calling.

4) What do other people compliment you on?  Sorry, while this can include your mother, it has to be more than just her.  When we walk in our giftedness, it will bless others and some of those people will let you know.  I am not talking about stroking our vanity, but words of affirmation that we are doing what we are supposed to be doing.

Our calling will in some way support the Great commission – the growth and building up of Christ’s body in the earth.  Don’t limit this to just the preaching and teaching of the Word though.  I know God is the great physician who ultimately heals us, however He most often uses doctors and health professionals to be His agents of that healing.  The difference between a person who is walking in their calling as a medical professional and a person who does not recognize what they do as a ministry is the motivation.  One seeks to minister to people and meet their needs through God’s strength and provision.  The other does not have this foundational truth driving them.  I have heard of doctors who pray with their patients through the healing process.  To me that is a great indicator that they are walking in their calling.

Just because you have a specific calling does not mean that these are the only ways God will use you.  He is the omnipotent Creator of the universe.  If you are available and obedient He is more than able to give you the grace in any and every situation you find yourself.  However, recognizing your calling and seeking to put yourself into positions to grow and use the talents you have is a sure path to fulfillment in God’s amazing economy.

Have a blessed day today and may you flourish in the place where God puts you.

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