3 Effective Ways to Encourage Others

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Everyone needs a good word now and then. Like sunshine breaking through the clouds on a dreary day, so a bright ray of encouragement can bring hope to someone’s darkness. Certainly we must be sensitive to those who are going through deep sadness. Sometimes the best way to be an encouragement is to “weep with those who weep.” But there are many opportunities in our daily routine to provide a glimpse of joy for the people around us.

Here are three effective ways to offer a healthy dose of encouragement to family, friends, co-workers and even strangers.

Be Sincere: No one likes insincere flattery. If you are going to offer a kind acknowledgement, be truthful. You may need to look a little deeper to find a way to sincerely speak an honest word of encouragement. For example, if your child’s piano recital was a bit rough around the edges, instead of insincerely telling them that they did a fantastic job, consider the factors you can compliment. “It takes a lot of courage to get up there and preform. You were able to hit some tough notes under pressure. I’m proud of you.”

Be Specific: When we offer specific accolades we are not only offering a gift to the other person, but we are tying it up with a bow and putting a note on it that says, “This gift is just for you.” For instance, simply saying “Great job!” is nice. But saying, “Great work on the Simons account today. I liked your creative presentation and the way you spoke directly to the client’s needs,” is better! Look for specific words and phrases you can offer others to help them know you paid attention and focused on what they did well.

Never Underestimate the Power of a Smile: A smile speaks a thousand words. It says, “I see you. I believe in you. I know you can do it. I care.” Just as words of encouragement are a precious gift we give to others, so a smile can lift up those around us and help them along their way. Think about when someone takes the opportunity to smile at you – it makes you feel a little stronger. A smile is that non-verbal expression that gives you the sense that you are noticed and appreciated. Offering an encouraging glance seems simple, but it may be a day-brightner to someone who desperately needs to know you care.

The word encourage actually means “to give strength.” The root word cour comes from the Latin word heart. Sincere, specific encouragement with the added blessing of a smile can literally strengthen another person’s heart and turn their mediocre day into a monumental one. May our words and actions be used to build up, rather than tear down. Let’s bring glimpses of sunshine to the people God puts in our path each day.

How Did we Get the Bible?    

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Throughout the centuries there have been skeptics and mockers of the Bible, and none so vehement as the French philosopher Voltaire. He applied his gift of writing in an attempt to demolish Christianity, believing that when people became enlightened they would no longer believe in God, or the Bible or their need for salvation through Jesus Christ. He is quoted as saying of Christ, “Curse the wretch!” Obviously Voltaire had some serious anger issues, not to mention a tad bit of arrogance. He boasted, “In twenty years, Christ will be no more. My single hand shall destroy the edifice it took twelve apostles to rear.”

Voltaire died in 1778, and since his death, millions upon millions of Bibles have been printed and sold throughout the entire world. This man who said that he would expose the Bible and that it would be buried in obscurity is dead and gone, but the Word of God stands forever. Ironically, sometime after his death, Voltaire’s house was purchased by the Geneva Bible Society and was used as a warehouse for Bibles. The Holy Scriptures survived Voltaire, and they will continue to survive despite modern-day critics and outspoken atheists.

Jesus said, “Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away” (Matthew 24:35). Peter described the Bible as “living and enduring” (1 Peter 1:23). Isaiah penned, “The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of our God endures forever” (Isaiah 40:8). The Bible is an indestructible book. Many besides Voltaire have attempted to do away with it. In AD 303, the Roman emperor Diocletian issued an imperial decree that every Bible should be destroyed. Many Bibles were burned and Christians were put to death for having them in their possession, yet this holy book endured! Even in the Middle Ages, when the Bible was kept from the common people, men such as John Wycliffe and William Tyndale risked their lives to translate the Scriptures so that all could have access to reading it.

Modern-day critics of the Bible question its accuracy, and claim that it couldn’t possibly be the same document as the original manuscripts. Perhaps you have wondered how we can know that the Bible is true, accurate, and infallible. In this blog for next several weeks, we will investigate the process of how we got what we know today as the Word of God, the Holy Scriptures, the Bible. We will also look at the questions some people have about errors or contradictions. Why is it important for us to investigate the veracity of the Bible? Because it claims to be the very words of God, and if it is, then we must lean our whole life into it. It is our foundation, and we must be able to stand on it with confidence.

I hope you will join me for the next few weeks as we look at how the Bible came together and why we rely on it as the true word of God on which we find the foundation of our faith.

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This series is an excerpt from my book, Becoming a Woman of the Word – Knowing, Loving and Living the Bible. For the next few weeks I am offering the book as our $5 special for the month (while supplies last – limit 10 per customer). Click Here for more details. 

Open Hands, Open Heart

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Retail store checkout lines are dangerous for me. Yes, I’m one of those people who succumb to “last minute” purchases on items that are so conveniently located near the cash register. Case in point, recently I ran into Hobby Lobby to grab a few party decorations, and I came out with three new books – which of course, I didn’t really need.

Well actually, maybe I did need one of them.  It was a book by the owner of Hobby Lobby, David Green called Giving It All Away…And Getting It All Back Again, The Way of Living Generously. It is the powerful story of how he started Hobby Lobby, but more importantly, it is about living with open hands and an open heart.

As I read his story, I began to think about the many things that I tend to hold a little too tightly to in my life. Things like my time, my plans, my money, my stuff, my opinions, my resentments.  Just like Jennifer Garner so eloquently says on the Capital One commercials,  “What’s in your wallet?” I suppose we could all ask ourselves, “What’s in my clenched fists?”

The interesting thing is, if we are going to reflect God’s attributes in our lives, we are compelled to be generous because He is generous. He is generous in love, in wisdom, in grace and in mercy. He is generous in giving us good gifts and blessings every day. Most important He is generous in salvation, giving His only Son as a sacrifice for our sins. Oh what a generous God we serve!

Here’s what’s truly beautiful – God is generous with His Spirit who enables us to live generously. Admittedly, I’m not so great at loving and giving in my own strength and will power, but God is! We can ask Him to open our hearts and our hands to living in a giving way.

Three practical and positive action points to ponder:

Realize: God is a generous God. His Spirit helps us to be generous. Realize that everything belongs to Him anyway.

Repent: Let’s begin to identify the things that we are holding with clenched fists (time, talent, treasures, unforgiveness, anger, opinions, plans, etc…). Confessing these things to God helps our heart begin to change.

Release: Finally, let’s open our hands and release those things. Let’s ask God to fill our hearts with generosity and  also ask Him to show us where to love, serve and give.

Make it a generous week this week!

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Engage Note:  There are many opportunities to give of your time, treasures and talents. If you would like to give to Engage Positive Parenting Initiative, reaching families in adverse circumstances with discussion-based parenting classes, you can click here to donate. If you are interested in volunteering, please visit our website at www.EngageParenting.com

 

Photo by Ethan Robertson on Unsplash

We Can Make Our Plans, But…

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Breaking his foot on the first day of our Italian vacation was not exactly what my husband had planned for our trip. We spent our first day in Florence in the hospital ER.  Fun! Normally on a trip like this, we would be walking around the city, taking pictures of Renaissance chapels and sculptures, but instead we were waiting for hours for a picture of my husband’s foot.

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After three hours of thumbing through old Italian magazines in the waiting room while Curt was waiting in another room for his X-rays, I finally decided to explore the hospital. I found a spot to sit outside and enjoy the Italian sunshine. As I soaked up some rays, I happened to notice a couple of tourists who looked like they were on a hunt for a hidden treasure.

I watched them walk through a small, inconspicuous wooden door behind me. Hmmm….where were they going? I just had to find out and see what they were up to.  So, like Alice chasing the white rabbit, I followed the tourist through the little door  – and to my surprise I walked into a magnificent 15th century chapel. Inside the hospital! Who knew? I was truly taken by the beauty and reverence of this sacred place. For me, it was a bright spot on our less-than-spectacular day.

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Although our trip didn’t start off on the right foot (no pun intended), we weathered the twists and turns and persevered. And we learned to discover the beauty along the way. Italian lesson number one: we can make our plans, but then we must be willing to adjust and find the simple joys in Plan B. And if you ever find yourself in the ER in the middle of Florence, check out the chapel behind the wooden door!

 

Five Ways to Boost Your Confidence

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How many times have you said no to something simply because you lacked the confidence to do it? Granted, we don’t need to say yes to every crazy opportunity that presents itself, but there are times when we ought to step forward and have a little faith in our own abilities. In fact, that’s what the word confidence means – with faith. So how do we increase our belief in our own abilities? Let’s consider five ways:

Try New Things – You never know until you try. Your belief in yourself grows when you try something new and grow from the experience. Don’t be afraid of mistakes – they happen. What is important is that you step forward in courage and face the fear of the unknown.

Grow from Every Blunder – Instead of beating yourself up and thinking of yourself as a failure, use every mistake as a growth opportunity. Allow errors to make you smarter and stronger. Most success stories are built on the foundation of lessons learned from mistakes.

Build on Your Strengths – What are you good at? Take stock of the things you do well and continue to strengthen those areas of your life. As we learn, grow and build in our areas of giftedness, we continue to get better and better at what we do and of course our self-confidence grows as a result.

Manage Around Your Weaknesses – Just as each of us have areas of strength, we also have a few weak spots. Don’t let them get you down, rather learn to work around them. Figure out ways to delegate or get the help you need so that your limitations don’t stifle you or impair you from doing what you do best.

Stop Comparing with Others – It never helps to think of yourself in relation to other people. Comparisons only breed pride or poor self-esteem. Be thankful for the unique way that God has created you, and use your gifts to serve and help others.

Ultimately our confidence is built on a belief system. If we believe that a loving God designed us, formed us and created us for a purpose, then we can walk in confidence knowing that He has a plan for our lives. We can also have the assurance that we do not walk alone. His Spirit leads us and guides us each step of the way as we look to Him for wisdom, strength and hope.

Where do you lack confidence? Ask God to help you face your fears. And remember, God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power, love and a sound mind.

Photo by Guilherme Stecanella on Unsplash

For more on Confidence check out my book, A Woman’s Secret to Confident Living.