Tag Archive | encouragement

Words of Life—Words of Death

Be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit. (Ephesians 5:18-19)

Speak Life

Speak Life

As some of you know, my family is getting hit pretty hard with health issues currently. And friends want to comfort us with words of … of wisdom and encouragement? I know they mean well. However, they would do better if they’d remember the adage my mother hammered into my head—if you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all.

Here’s the thing:

When disaster strikes, whether it comes through sicknesses, finances, or relationships, we all have stories to tell. Either we’ve experienced the crisis first hand, or we know someone who has. And we’re eager to relate to a person in crisis. Or are we simply eager to retell our story.

Before Gene began his radiation treatments, co-workers told him how draining radiation is; how miserable he would feel; how he’d miss work and not be able to mow his own yard. It was depressing to say the least. He came home from work more than once in a gloomy mood and said, “Why can’t anyone say something encouraging?”

When I was diagnosed with melanoma, people said things like:

“I know someone who has that. Every time she goes back, the doctor cuts her. She has scars all over her body.”

“I know someone who was diagnosed with melanoma and died within 4 months.”

“Melanoma? Oh my, people die from that.”

People mean well.

I know that. But we “put our mouths in motion before we put our minds in gear.” We want to make a connection. We want to verify we’ve been there too. We want to qualify ourselves to speak with empathy. I get it. But, can’t we do all that while speaking words of life?

Can’t we say something uplifting like:

“I’m sorry you’re facing this. I’ve gone through that. It’s not an easy road, but look at me. I’m okay now. God strengthened me and carried me through that trial. He’ll do the same for you.”

Do we have to spew out gruesome details?

The details grab and stab our victims … our friends.

The comments Gene and I have endured recently have taught me to think about how to relate to others by relaying my story. Are my words encouraging and life breathing? Or, are they discouraging and destructive? Can I tell my story without gruesome details and leave my friend with hope, comfort, and peace?

If not, I best heed my mother’s words and say nothing at all.

How about you? What story can you tell that breathes life into someone in crisis?

See you in a twinkling,

Brenda K. Hendricks

 

 

Nothing Can Stop Our God

Impressive Biblical Figures

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. (Philippians 4:6)

Zebra The first half of 2016, health issues have targeted my heart. I was diagnosed with melanoma. Gene’s prostate cancer came back. A few other concerns trouble me, which I’m not at liberty to disclose at the moment.

Thus, far the prognosis and treatment has been effective for my melanoma. Gene begins the first of 38-consecutive, radiation treatments next week. His prognosis, also, is very favorable. Praise the Lord. Even so, please keep him in your prayers. The other matters have just become known, and may or may not be serious. Time will tell. God knows about them and prepares the path for all of us. We just need to follow and trust His judgment, right?

Oh but it’s so very hard to hold God’s hand and simply trust. My mind wonders into the “what-if zone” and the “why-is-this-happening-now district.”

Recently when I pray about all the struggles different members of my family are facing, the Lord reminds me of several people in the Bible whom he loved, had plans for, and took through deep trials to accomplish those plans.

I’m learning, through biblical examples to trust God’s plan. Whether the difficulties we face turn out the way we’d like them to or end up in the worse possible way, God’s promises hold true. He never goes back on His word. He has not promised any of us a life without trials. In fact, Jesus said, “In this world you will have trouble” (John 16:33). He didn’t leave us hanging, however. He concluded His discourse with, “But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

If we’re trusting in His promises, we can face our trial with confidence. Our hope, our vision is not of this world, but of His kingdom. Therefore, we can become faithful just like the people mentioned in the Bible.

What impresses me with many people mentioned in the Bible is their determination to hold on to their visions—their God-given purpose—against all odds.

Here are a few examples:

God revealed to Joseph in a dream that he’d rule over his brothers someday. That vision calmed Joseph in the pit. That vision kept him from temptation. That vision delivered him from prison. That vision enabled him to forgive his brothers.

Ruth, a foreigner, caught the vision of a loving God from her mother-in-law, Naomi. Ruth’s vision compelled her to leave her own family and follow Naomi back to Bethlehem. Ruth’s vision led her to Boaz’s fields to glean the leftover grain as provisions for Naomi and her. Ruth’s vision motivated her to seek a kinsman-redeemer in Boaz.

David’s vision, involving his knowledge and relationship with God, defeated bears, lions, and a giant. David’s vision gifted him with music to sooth the disturbed king’s soul and eventually, delivered him from the king’s wrath. David’s vision won wars, set him on the throne, and brought the arc of the covenant back to Jerusalem. His vision opened the path of humility and brought him back to God.

How about you? How is your vision actively working in your life?

See you in a twinkling,

Brenda K. Hendricks

P.S. If you thought last week’s mystery sketch was a zebra, you were absolutely correct.

 

 

 

K is for Knit

Fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139:14)Knit sweaters, knit scarfs, and knit hats are all designed to keep us warm. I like being warm. And I like snuggling under a knit blanket with a good book.

But mostly, I’m thankful God knit me together in my mother’s womb and has kept His eye on me ever since.

“For You formed my innermost parts; You knit me [together] in my mother’s womb” (Psalm 139:13).

How about you? What are you thankful for that begins with the letter K?

See you in a twinkling,

Brenda K. Hendricks

The Gift of Victory

[youtube http://youtu.be/ZhT2j_1gJho]

 

 For everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith. Who is it that overcomes the world? Only the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God. (1 John 5:4-5 NIV)

The hope of victory over the curse of sin began centuries before King David sat on the throne. God had made a promise to Adam and Eve that a son would be born who would take away that curse, which sentenced them and everyone after them to hard labor. Decades later, Lamech, at the age of 182, prove his faith in the promise when he named his son Noah and said, “He will comfort us in the labor and painful toil of our hands caused by the ground the Lord has cursed” (Genesis 5:28-29 NIV). This took place generations before God called out a nation unto Himself from Abraham’s seed.

Through the ages, the Hebrews failed, were enslaved, and freed many times; but they held onto the hope of Israel—a messiah would come to save them and to rule the nations.

Jesus was that Man. However, God’s plan of victory differed from that of the Jews.

  • They thought He came to overthrow Caesar, but He came to defeat the prince of the air.
  • They thought He’d ride a white warhorse, instead He rode a donkey of peace.
  • They thought He’d organize a mighty army, but He surrendered without a fight.
  • They thought He’d reign on earth, but His kingdom is in heaven.
  • They thought He died for a lost cause, instead He died for lost sinners.
  • They thought death won, but Jesus conquered death and lives today.

We are now on the other side of the cross looking back in awe with gratitude and looking forward to His second coming. Then He will return on that white warhorse as the conquering King the Jews anticipated. His army of saints will follow Him to war and celebrate the victory over the fall of the enemy—Satan.

How about you? Are you enjoying the victory that overcomes the world through faith in Jesus Christ?

Next time, we’ll review The Gift via another time-lapse art video that brings the whole subject together. Prepare by studying Romans 6:19-23.

See you in a twinkling,
Brenda K. Hendricks

My Take on Aging

In a few days, I’ll be a year older. And I have noticed some signs of “maturing” … like the bit-bigger-than-freckles spots on my hands, arms, and legs. Some people call them age spots, liver spots, or to be gentle to our vanity, wisdom spots. But I say …

Age Spots 3

The Gift of Rest

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” (Matthew 11:28-29)

Rest, Dream, Refresh

Rest, Dream, Refresh

There are mornings I get up, read my Bible, and pray. Then there are mornings I get up, read my Bible, and ZZZZZZZZZZZZZ. I seem to sleep well enough. But when I read, my eyes become tired and before I know it, I’m snoozing rather than praying. The phenomenon of sleep doesn’t restrict itself to morning devotion time. It overpowers me in mid-afternoon or evening without warning. I’ll be writing on a project or chatting with one of my daughters on Facebook … next thing I’m aware of … an hour later … my daughter’s message: Mom. MOM. Did you fall asleep again?

I remind myself of two of my great-aunts who were talking on the phone until one no longer answered the other. This caused a rift between the sisters. Apparently the one who continued the conversation thought the other one had hung up on her. The problem resolved itself, however, when the talker went to her sister’s home to give her a piece of her mind face-to-face and found her sister fast asleep still clutching the phone. True story. No kidding.

Obviously my ability to fall asleep during inopportune times is inherited. But I’m still perplexed by it, especially when I think about sleeping over one-third of my life away. It seems like such a waste of precious time. And I’ve become more painfully aware of the precious, fleeting minutes of my life the older I get.

Yet, God, in His infinite wisdom, programmed us to need rest.

Read More

Next time, we look at the gift of promise. In preparation, please read and think about 2 Peter chapter 3.

See you in a twinkling,

Brenda K. Hendricks

 

The Gift of Light

[youtube http://youtu.be/uaEbWgGJ24M]

When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” (John 8:12)

Years ago while watching TV in our den, my daughter and I suddenly found ourselves sitting in the dark. The veil blanketed us in darkness as black as Dracula’s cloak. We joked about ax murders, monsters, and aliens at first. But the longer we sat there the more spooked we became.

“Let’s go upstairs now.” I headed for the door. “There’s a flashlight in Dad’s closet.” Rachel, although a teenager at the time, clung to my shirttail. As I opened the den door, a wave of darkness cascaded into the room almost bowling me over. It was so eerie our dog decided to stay in the den. Rachel and I clutched the banister and followed it up the stairs. No light, not even from the moon or stars, greeted us through the kitchen window. We walked our fingers along the wall as we pussyfooted down the hall to the bedroom and into the closet. I stretched, grasping the coveted flashlight and flicked on the switch. We blinked and squinted, adjusting to the light—glorious light.

Walking in spiritual darkness can be as scary as suddenly finding yourself in a dark room. We wander around searching for light … any light … to illuminate our way and give meaning to our lives. Eventually, we discover there are as many spiritual light sources as there are physical ones. And as our flashlight overcame the darkness that night, these forms of spiritual light override spiritual darkness to a degree. However as sure as there is only one sun in the sky, there is one true spiritual light source. All man-made lights can only simulate the sun. Similarly, all man-made religions can only emulate the true Light God has sent into the world.

It was no accident that the Light came in the darkness of night during one of the darkest periods in history. It was no accident that the Light opened the eyes of the physically blind. It was no accident that the Light suffered the cruelty of the cross, illuminating the darkness of the human soul. It was no accident that the Light overpowered the darkness of the tomb and rose again. As our world grows darker in this present day, it is no accident that the Light stands ready to return to claim His own.

How about you? Are you standing in spiritual darkness, searching for the Light? Why not grasp the spiritual Light of Jesus Christ? He’ll overpower the darkness and lead you to a safe place where you can thrive in His presence.

Next time, we’ll unwrap the gift of hope. Prepare by reading and meditating on Romans 5:1-10.

See you in a twinkling,

Brenda K. Hendricks