It’s interesting that the root for the words, “discourage” and “encourage” is the word courage, which traces to the Latin root for “heart.” So when we are discouraged, this literally means, “away from the heart”. And encourage, by contrast, means “into the heart”. But the common ingredient for both of the words, encourage & discourage, has to do with the heart.
So let’s think about this: what happens in my heart is only known between God and me. People can observe the external results of that internal status, but the state of my heart and what happens there is known most clearly by God. Maybe this is why Solomon said, in Proverbs 4:23, that we should guard our hearts, since this is where the wellspring of life starts. With this verse in mind, let’s be certain that we are keeping our hearts wide open to God’s presence because this is how we can live in a state of encouragement rather than being discouraged by experiences, conversations and various other challenges that can arise. Choose to live with God’s presence in your heart, encouraged and deeply loved!
There are lots of things that intimidate me such as: traveling to unstable places, mingling in a crowd of strangers, having difficult conversations & being around people whom I perceive as superior to me. While it’s good to acknowledge these places where I feel intimidated, it’s better to work through them rather than avoid them. In the past, the way I’d handle this intimidating stuff is to avoid these kinds of situations & distract myself with things I like better.
But growing means that I make active decisions to face the intimidating stuff & choose to grow. Sometimes, this means that even though I may be scared, I still push through the fear & intimidation – do it scared.
Feel free to join me on this adventure – not allowing your growth to be limited by your fears 🙂
Waking up this morning, I was horrified to read about a church shooting in Charleston, SC at a Bible Study last night. From what the news said, there was a Bible Study in the church basement of Emmanuel AME and the shooter just began to shoot people. At this time, 9 people have died from the shooting and the police are calling this a hate crime. The police say the shooter is still at large and obviously there are boatloads of unanswered questions.
Here are a few things that we can do, as outside observerers and fellow believers:
pray for the families of the victims: peace, grace, strength, courage and for the comfort of the Holy Spirit to be very real to each family member
pray for the police as they search for the shooter: protection, wisdom, clarity, discernment and truth
pray for the shooter: it is a very disturbed individual who walks into a church and randomly shoots innocent people at a Bible Study
pray for the church: Emmanuel AME is a very famous and historic church, founded in the late 1700s. This church has had it’s share of historic events, including a sermon by Martin Luther King Jr in 1962; the pastor for Emmanuel AME was shot and killed last night, so our brothers and sisters at Emmanuel AME very much need our prayers
Yesterday, my husband & I celebrated Valentines Day by doing some skiining / snowboarding together & we had a blast! During the day, I kept seeing this run that I wanted to try because it had lots of powder on it & looked like it could be really fun! So on my last run, we tried it & it was more than what I thought: there was part of it that was a tiny bit of a steep drop between a couple of trees. Ok, here’s the deal – I’ve been snowboarding for more than 7 years now & while I have zero olympic aspirations, I’m also better than I think sometimes. When I looked at the miniature drop between the trees, I got really nervous, but then I thought about it, did some mental coaching & came through uninjured 🙂
Here are a few helpful ideas from my snowboarding adventure yesterday about being brave:
don’t psych yourself out – sometimes we make things bigger than they are
think about your successes from the past – this helps to build present confidence
be with “can-do” people – my husband was cheering for me, “Sarah, you got this!!”
fundamentals – think about what you need to do rather than what you shouldn’t do (this helps ALOT when you get in really intense moments)
I’ve been thinking about Gideon lately & how 300 guys followed him to victory over more than 100,000 enemy soldiers. This very small group had MASSIVE amounts of success but a pre-cursor to their success individually & as a group was the elimination of fear.
Fear can be really loud, it can demand your attention, cripple your progress & thoroughly destroy your future. The guys who followed Gideon into this massive success made choices to not allow fear to control their decisions or behaviors. Indeed, Gideon had to overcome his own fear before he could lead anyone else out of fear & into victory.
Here are some things to help overcome fear:
*look at fear & face it – fear is usually much smaller when you turn & confront it, rather than avoid of deflect it
*make a step forward – fear wants to keep you paralyzed
*listen for Gods voice more than entertaining the voice of fear
*be mindful of conversations or inputs that cater to fear in your life
* never allow fear to be your friend
I want to be a person who inspires courage, faith & strength. In my mind, courage is an opposite for cowardice & I don’t want to be a person who’s influence causes others to be timid, scared, cowardly or insecure. I want to put “courage in” people – to be an encouragement.
With this in mind, I’m real keen to hear your thoughts on what en-courages you, what puts courage into you??? Thanks for your help!!
I know I worte yesterday about Joseph having a courageous conversation related to his boss’s wife trying to hit on him, but Joseph had other courageous conversations as well. Another example of his courageous conversation is his discussion with some servants of Pharoah who had been thrown in prison w Joseph – the cupbearer & baker. In this conversation with these men, Joseph interpreted their dreams. One would live & be restored to his position under Pharoah & the other would die.
Now, here’s why I think Joseph’s conversation with these men was courageous – he was concerned. The reason I think Joseph’s concern was courageous is because the opposite of concern, apathy & selfishness, are the coward’s reply to the needs of others. When these men told Joseph their dreams, there wasn’t much that Joseph could do to help them, but he could use his God-given talents with interpreting dreams to express his concern.
In a similar way, there are probably some people in our lives with whom we need to have a courageous conversation to express our concern & care – maybe concern about their choices, relationship w God, etc.
Apathy is for cowards, but concern is for the courageous
Wow! This is certainly a theme in my life right now! A courageous conversation is a discussion that requires courage – it can require courage for a variety of reasons. As such, let’s look at Joseph (in Genesis 37-42) to look at 1 of his courageous conversations:
Maybe Joseph’s first courageous conversation required bravery because of his convictions. Consider his dialogue with Potipher’s wife, who wanted to make out w Joseph. When you read what Joseph said in Gen 39:8-9, you can see that he needed courage to say what he said: “But he refused and said to his master’s wife, ‘Behold, with me here, my master does not concern himself with anything in the house, and he has put all that he owns in my charge. There is no one greater in this house than I, and he has withheld nothing from me except you, because you are his wife. How then could I do this great evil and sin against God?'”
Convictions require courage & when we are asked to do something that violates our convictions, we must draw on God’s strength & wisdom to share with diplomacy & bravery that we will not violate those convictions. Let’s be brave & gracious in our conversations, with God’s wisdom, strength & love 🙂