Oh, To Be An Encourager…


For those of you follow me on Instagram or on my Facebook ministry page, Reflections On The Word, you’ll recall I’ve spoken a bit about my heart for building fellowship in the Body of Christ.

Over the years as society has changed I don’t think fellowship is something we easily maintain. In these days of busyness and distractedness it now has to be intentional. I also believe we have to want it bad enough to go after it.

I’ve heard recently from several women that they long for fellowship with like-minded women. They long for deep connection. They just don’t know how to go after it.

Women feel disconnected from one another in their busyness. Some feel lonely. Misunderstood. Even rejected which really breaks my heart.

Earlier this week a younger woman sat in my kitchen with tears in her eyes because she doesn’t feel like she has any friends. Life has been rough for her. I cried with her. I held her hand. I prayed with her. I’d like to think I encouraged her.

Because I know what that feels like. When you don’t feel like you’re part of an inner circle. We need to remember that even Jesus had an inner circle. He had many followers but only 12 apostles and of those 12 He had 3 that He kept very close to Him and poured a little bit more of Himself into them.

This inner circle of men Jesus chose were not found in the temple courts or on the palace steps. They were ordinary men that we might not have given a second glance, but Jesus looked deeper. Past the rough exteriors and rugged demeanors. Past the dirt and grime. Past the sun-kissed faces and leathery skin. Past their present life course and past lifestyles.

Jesus saw who these men would become after He poured His life into them. 

We have this idea in our heads that there are certain kinds of people we want in our inner circle. We don’t always look deeper. Sometimes we don’t even take a second glance and heaven forbid when we let first impressions be our only impression!

Thank You, Jesus, that first impressions don’t impress You.

I get it, though.

In the past, I watched from afar the way certain women would talk and act and laugh together and I’d think, They’re having so much fun together! I would love to be friends with them. What’s wrong with me?

How vain is that.

Sometimes I think we become so comfortable with our little “in” groups that we become protective. We like things the way they are. It’s hard to open our arms and hearts to let in anyone new. Because of the trust issue.

It takes time to build the kind of trust needed to develop true fellowship with one another. 

It takes time. 

I’ve been involved in women’s ministry in some way for a while. I’ve led prayer groups, taught Bible studies, mentored, shared fellowship meals in my home, participated in weekend retreats with other women and hosted weekend retreats of my own so I’ve heard often enough that women truly are longing for genuine connections.

One of the things I’ve discovered is that we all need someone we can trust in our lives who will listen to our hearts’ cries, who will be vulnerable enough to share personal experiences, who will strengthen us in our walk with the Lord, who will pray over us, and who will help us keep our eyes on Jesus.

I don’t know about you, but I’ve battled some serious discouragement in my own life and it’s just an awful place to be all alone.

Discouragement means, “a loss of confidence or enthusiasm; dispiritedness.” 

I’ve been discouraged about family situations, about finances, and about ministry. To name a few. There’ve been times I just plain wanted to give up on my passions and forfeit my joy.

We are so easily discouraged. That’s why we need encouragement.


I’ve been reading through Paul’s letters in the New Testament and highlighting passages that refer to this fellowship and encouragement of which he so fondly wrote. I’ve been amazed how often the two are united. 

There are several different words used for encourage in the original Greek language which the NT is translated from.

Some of the various meanings are: To call to one’s side, to summon, to call near; to come together, to exhort; to cause one to excel, to superabound (don’t you love that!); to speak to, to console, to calm.

When I think of the encouragement I’ve received over the years I can honestly say I’ve received all of that goodness in some way at some time and in just the right measure.

-I’ve sent out SOS’s for prayer knowing my prayer partners will pretty much stop what they’re doing and pray for me right then and there. I trust them completely.

-I’ve had these same women come together and spur me on, telling me not to give up on the promises God has given me.

-I’ve met with women in coffee shops, cafe’s and parks to talk, cry and pray together.

-I’ve had women in my home to share a meal and Bible study.

-I’ve even had pity-parties, y’all, and I’m so grateful God has given me a few girlfriends who will come to my parties. They let me get it all out, but they don’t let me stay there. They speak comfort over me. They speak calm over me. They speak the Word of God over me.

They make me feel all superabounded! This word means to prevail in greater measure or to excess.

Wow. I don’t know about you, but this kind of encouragement has a way of making me feel all Wonder-Woman-like.

Just sayin’.

Because encouragement renews my courage and gives me the holy boldness to keep on keepin’ on!

We’re not all wired the same, but I love that Paul tells us all to be humble, be gentle, be patient with each other and always keep ourselves united in the Holy Spirit so that we bind ourselves together in peace. (Ephesians 4:2-3)

I love how he tells us to let everything we say be good and helpful, so that our words will be an encouragement to those who hear them. (Ephesians 4:29)

Paul reminds us we’re in this fight together (Philippians 1:30) and he tells us not to be selfish and don’t live to make a good impression on others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than ourselves. Don’t think only about our own affairs, but be interested in others, too, and what they are doing. (Philippians 2:3-4)

Paul tells us his goal for the Colossians and his friends who never knew him personally was that they would be encouraged and knit together by strong ties of love. (Colossians 2:2)

He mentions more than once in his letters that he received encouragement and that he gave encouragement. He was also gracious to thank those who encouraged him. I can’t help but think so many of us are being short-changed.

We just don’t encourage one another enough and I wonder how many times we take it for granted when we do receive it.

Encouragement is a priceless gift when given from the heart. 

Even though Paul didn’t write the book of Hebrews I sill love this passage:

“Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for He who promised is faithful. And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another–and all the more as you see the Day approaching,” Hebrews 10:23-25  

The word consider is a very intentional word that means to consider attentively, to fix one’s eyes or mind upon, to observe or to understand.

We are to intentionally fix our eyes or minds upon others so we can spur them on–or persuade them–to love and do good to others.

Encouragement is like a chain reaction…we encourage so that others will be inspired to encourage. Yet, how can we be an encourager if we don’t spend time with one another in fellowship?

…let us not give up meeting together…be intentional…

Be. The. Encourager.

Follow hard after fellowship.

Draw someone into your little circle.

Look deeper.

Take a second glance.

Consider attentively.

Go make someone superabound. Like Wonder Woman.

Just sayin’.

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Reflections On Psalm 16

IMG_6864I had a pretty good childhood.

From the time my parents brought me home from the hospital shortly after my birth to the moment I married my husband, I called “Parson’s Patch” home. My father was a Baptist minister so we lived in the church parsonage on a one-acre plot of land deeded to the church by the family who owned the farm that surrounded us.

Acres and acres of land. Fields and woods hemmed in on one side by a main thoroughfare heavily traveled and on the other by a small country road that didn’t get enough traffic to justify painted lines.

Ponds. Streams. Wildlife. Trees and rolling fields fenced in with hundreds of wooden posts and miles and miles of rolled steel wire to mark the boundary lines.

When the farm changed hands we were elated to have neighbors with children the same age as my sister and I. We became fast friends and the fields and woods were like a second home to us. We had at our disposal enough “scope for the imagination,” (to use a phrase from one of my favorite fictional characters, Anne of Green Gables), to keep us entertained for hours. 

I’m almost positive we explored every inch of those woods and fields by the time we were teenagers.

We built forts in densely grown thicket and brush, occasionally suffering the pricks of thorns that couldn’t be seen until after we started building. We walked barefoot on moss-covered carpet in the shade of a variety of trees that soared so high and grew so thick we could barely see the sun. We poked at fish eggs in ponds green with algae and heavily coated with yellow pollen. We walked across ravines on fallen trees that had become natural bridges for small bodies with tiny feet. We slid down red-clay cliffs on our backsides using the earth as a sliding board. We rolled our bodies like barrels down straw covered hills until we were so dizzy we made ourselves sick.

Most days, when we got home from school, we couldn’t wait to grab a snack and head outside. We didn’t even change our clothes. We played in our plaid dresses and knee socks not caring one bit about the scrapes and scratches our shins and knees endured. We only returned home at the sound of my mother’s shrill whistle that carried over vine and vale announcing it was time for dinner.

We were brave.

And fearless.

And hopelessly addicted to the outdoors.

I felt as if I had no boundaries. If not for the highway and the country road it seemed as if the woods just stretched on forever. The wire fence surrounding the fields couldn’t stop us. We crawled under the wire and went our merry way.

I knew those fields and woods didn’t belong to me or my family, but somehow…in my childish mind…they felt like they were mine, because I wasn’t just associated with the family who owned them. I was actually their friend and real friends share. They share stories and secrets, belongings and blessings, homes and happiness.

I feel so incredibly blessed to have known the Michie family.  I barely have a childhood memory that doesn’t have them in it. They didn’t just share their land with me. They shared their lives.

What was precious to the Michie children became precious to me because they opened their home and their hearts and their little piece of heaven on earth.

There are just some things money can’t buy. 

I think this is what Psalm 16 is all about.

The great psalmist, David, was so good about sharing his heart with God. I think that’s why we love the Psalms. Sometimes we just don’t know how to put into words the deep things of the heart.

“Lord, You alone are my inheritance, my cup of blessing. You guard all that is mine. The land You have given me is a pleasant land. What a wonderful inheritance!” verses 5-6

Whether you are fortunate enough or not to own a lot of property, there’s something very profound about these verses. A secret every child of God wants to claim and grasp hold of.

I can’t say I felt any less rich living on one acre of land in the midst of hundreds that didn’t belong to me. I didn’t feel cheated because we lived in a house that belonged to the church. I didn’t feel like I was missing out because I never felt like a visitor.

My childhood was rich because I had parents who loved me and because I knew they loved the Lord. Maybe I didn’t understand it all as a child, but I believe in my heart…in the place where I didn’t know how to express myself…that God was preparing me early to have a certain amount of knowing that He alone is my inheritance, my cup of blessing. Even then.

There’s something so sacred about knowing and being known by the One who promises to go through life with me. Who shares it all with me…secrets, blessings, happiness…and who wants me to share my all with Him.

“I know the Lord is always with me. I will not be shaken, for He is right beside me.” verse 8

For the child of God there are just some riches that reach far beyond any main thoroughfare heavily traveled on this earth. No country road will ever lead me to the kind of blessings only heaven offers. No wooden fence posts or miles and miles of steel wire can keep me from entering my promised land…the inheritance that is mine in Christ Jesus.

My inheritance is far grander. Far greater. Far more glorious.

The kind of thing you can’t put a price on.

All because the Lord alone is my portion, my cup of blessing. When I let go and drink it all in, I am hopelessly addicted. I know “apart from Him I have no good thing.” verse 2 

Sometimes I wonder, if I didn’t have a home or a little tiny plot of land or a penny to my name, would He still be enough?

know it in my head, but would I know it in my heart?

I so want this to be so.

God has already shared so much with me. More than I’ve ever shared with Him because He gave me His Son. 

The Father gave me Jesus so I would have this hope…this inheritance…this forever home. There’s plenty of “scope for the imagination” in this truth to keep me entertained from now until my days on earth are over.

Sometimes there are no words…

In the end of the parable of the lost son as told in Luke 15, the older son was angry that his father chose to celebrate the return of his wayward brother. But, the father said to the older son,

“My son, you are always with me, and everything I have is yours.” 

I don’t know about you, but I get all teary eyed just thinking about it.

God is so good about giving me little pieces of heaven on earth and they really are wonderful things. He’s so good like that, but I know all the good He has given me here on earth just can’t compare with what’s to come.

Even when things aren’t perfect, even when there are struggles and frustrations and disappointments and heartache, I have this hope…in the depths of my soul.

Because I love His Son, the Father will share it all with me. What is precious to the Father has become precious to me and because He shares with me His heart, His home, and all that heaven holds I’ve determined to share mine with Him. 

All of it…the stories and secrets, the belongings and blessings, the eternal home and forever happiness.

Because true friends share it all.

“I no longer call you servants, because a master doesn’t confide in his servants. Now you are My friends, since I have told you everything the Father told me.” John 15:15

And because there are just some things money can’t buy.

“You will show me the way of life, granting me the joy of Your presence and the pleasures of living with You forever.” verse 11

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