An Encouragement Folder: You Need One

1 Samuel 30:6 (ESV)
And David was greatly distressed, for the people spoke of stoning him, because all the people were bitter in soul, each for his sons and daughters. But David strengthened himself in the LORD his God.

I read a great, practical tip from Ron Edmonson this past week. It reminded me of this verse in 1 Samuel.

In Ron’s post, he suggests keeping an “encouragement folder.” A folder of notes, letters, emails, etc. that:

  • …say you’ve done something right.
  • …say you know what you are doing.
  • …say you made a difference in someone’s life.

Inevitably, we’ll find ourselves feeling much like King David: greatly distressed. For those times, I love the idea of an encouragement folder.

Assuming you have one. If not, better get on that. ;)

It is one tool you can use to encourage/strengthen yourself when you’re feeling down in the dumps.

I would also recommend keeping track of any God-milestones (significant/noteworthy things God’s done in your life).

Then, not only can your encouragement folder be a reminder of how you’ve touched other people’s lives/what you’re doing right, but also be a reminder of all that God’s done in your life.

So, what’s been encouraging you lately? And who can you encourage this week?


The Reason We Sacrifice

We give up things we love for things we love even more.

On first glance, that quote probably rings true for you. Right? You would give up ______ for _______.

It’s an easy trade when you know what you’re trading for. Especially if it’s something you know you “love even more.” What’s not easy is trading something you love now for something unknown later.

Yet that’s the exact position God often places us in.

The dream job you have now. The boyfriend/girlfriend that seems like the perfect match. The thriving ministry you’re currently leading. The comfortable life you’re living.

If God asks, trade it in for the unknown. Sacrifice it.

The hardest part for me is truly believing what’s on the other end will be something I’ll love even more than what I have now.

But the truth is that mindset is selfish.

It puts the focus on what you’re receiving rather than who you’re giving to.

We give up things we love for things we love even more. It’s an honor to sacrifice for Christ and His church.


Deception is Easy

This past week (on the 18th), I celebrated my 11 year spiritual birthday.

The scary thing about that milestone . . . I believe I have reached a lethal level of understanding of the Christian faith.

One that would let me fake Christian maturity.

Surprisingly, that’s what’s come to mind as I’ve reflected on the past 11 years.

You get to a level where you can operate on cruise control despite a flailing relationship with God. You could be working at a church, leading a Bible study, talking with your accountability partner and nobody would know the difference.

You know all the right answers.

Moral of the story?

The further you walk with Jesus, the harder you have to fight to keep your relationship real and authentic.


4 Lessons from 40 Years of Ministry Experience

I had never heard of Jeanne Mayo until I heard her speak recently.

I’m officially a fan.

Her message, based on four lessons from four decades of ministry, had pearls of wisdom scattered throughout. And a close that had me fighting back the tears.

Here are my notes from her talk.

They don’t do the talk justice, but hopefully you’ll get something. ;)

1. Live life as a frog-kisser

Believe in people. Encourage them. See past their warts.

Jesus did this with Peter in Matthew 16:13-18.

Peter, the one who constantly made mistakes. He acted out in anger (John 18:10) and denied Jesus (Mark 14:66-72), yet God saw past his name (which meant “little pebble”) and mistakes calling him Peter, the rock (v18).

2. Play favorites

Don’t be afraid to play favorites and have an inner circle of friends. Jesus did in Peter, James and John.

You can touch the masses, but you can only disciple the few.

How do you know who the “favorites” should be? “Whoever unlocks your heart is often a key to your calling (i.e., the people you are naturally drawn to).”

Unless you strategically choose the people who get the majority of your time, people will make that decision for you (and often waste your time).

3. Fight daily for your spiritual health

It’s often easy to be good at ministry without being good as a Christ-follower.

After people have gotten to know you, do they say “you’re the real deal” spiritually?

Easy for God to become more of a business associate than our Father.

There’s a difference between your title and your personhood. Judas was a disciple by title, but betrayer by personhood.

Ministry is not what we do, but an overflow of who we are. Are we Christ-followers?

4. Don’t quit

Malcolm Gladwell (in his book Outliers) says success in an area boils down to investing at least 10,000 hours in it. To get there, you can’t quit.

Harriett Tubman echoed the same idea to the slaves she helped escape during the Civil War.

If you hear the dogs, keep going.
If you see the torches in the woods, keep going.
If there’s shouting after you, keep going.
Don’t ever stop. Keep going.
If you want a taste of freedom, keep going.

Any of these four points hit home with you?

#3 was the biggest one for me. I definitely needed that reminder…



How You Can Change the World

Do you truly believe you can change the world? What is your definition of changing the world?

My current definition (in progress) is: impacting eternity through being used by God.

I’ve fallen into the trap that in order to change the world, you have to influence millions. If that’s the case, most of us are screwed. We’re not going to influence millions in our lifetime.

But if you look through the Bible, there are countless stories of ordinary people changing the course of history. Moses, King David, Esther, Nehemiah, Paul, Peter, etc.

What do they all have in common? I feel like Exodus 31:1-3 sums it up nicely.

Exodus 31:1-3 (NIV)
1 Then the LORD said to Moses, 2 “See, I have chosen Bezalel son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah, 3 and I have filled him with the Spirit of God, with wisdom, with understanding, with knowledge and with all kinds of skills . . .

This passage shows Bezalel was:

  • Chosen by God
  • Filled with the Spirit of God
  • Given wisdom, understanding, knowledge and skills

Anybody who acknowledges these three things in their own lives can change the world.

Bezalel was an artist; a designer; a craftsmen. His wisdom, understanding, knowledge and skills aided his ability to build the tabernacle according to God’s requirements.

All of us have been given similar wisdom, understanding, knowledge and skills (cf. 1 Peter 4:10).

The difference between changing the world or not is how we use those skills.

Bezalel could have used all his abilities to design/build incredible artwork for others. Being as gifted as he was, I bet he could have made a great living and been well-known for it. But eternity would not have been impacted by a few pieces of furniture, artwork or buildings.

The work of God is always to impact eternity.

Only when we allow ourselves be used for God’s work will we be able to impact eternity.

Changing the world doesn’t necessarily mean you have to be an evangelist getting thousands saved at once. Or that you have to write a timeless devotional read for generations to come.

It simply means you know:

  • You’re chosen by God
  • You’ve been filled with the Spirit of God
  • You’ve been given wisdom, understanding, knowledge and skills

And you’re willing to let God use you.

What unique gift-mix has God given you to impact eternity?

For me, I believe one of the main (if not the main) area is investing in the lives of others.

It may sound funny, but this blog is part of that. I started it cause I believe God has wired me uniquely to be a blogger at heart. ;) When I write, I pour out what God has poured into me in hopes that it would challenge/encourage you towards a deeper, fuller relationship with Christ.

Thanks to the Internet, I hope when I die these words will continue to exist and impact others.