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November ’07 Newsletter

November 17, 2007

 

Stepping Stones to Encouraging Others

 

We have finally made it to one of my favorite times of the year…Fall.  Here at our house, I have our windows open, airing out the house & it is great!  We are digging out our sweaters and stocking up on the ingrediants to our favorite hot cocoa mix.  We are getting ready for Winter. 

Along with the change in seasons of weather comes a season of holidays.  With Thanksgiving and Christmas already right around the corner we find ourselves in a spirit of thanksgiving and generosity that we don’t hold all year.  For some of us this is a very exciting time of year, while for others it may not be so.  It may be a season of difficult memories or struggle.  When we are sensitive to the leading of the Holy Spirit we may find ourselves in a postition to encourage and support someone close to us.  That is what this newsletter is all about. 

Back during the summer I began reading a book that I found on the clearance table at Half Price Books.  It has opened my eyes to the importance of encouraging others.  But before I can truly encourage anyone, I must have an intimate relationship with Christ.  The scripture speaks volumes to the importance of encouraging others.  It is one way the Lord can use us to draw others to him, but we must be walking closely with him first.

The book is called Treasures of Encouragement by Sharon W. Betters.  Many of what I wrote in this newsletter came from what I learned in her book.

I pray that this newsletter will be of great encouragement to you and will motivate you to walk more closely with your Lord Jesus Christ.

To His Glory!

Dana

~What the Bible says about encouraging others

According to the Merriam Websters Dictionary encourage is defined this way: “To give courage, spirit, or hope; to stimulate.”

Courage;  “Mental or moral strength to venture, persevere, and withstand danger, fear, or difficulty.”

Spirit;  “The activating or essential principle influencing a person.”

Hope; “A desire accompanied by expectation of or belief in fulfillment.”

Stimulate; “To excite to activity or growth”

Can you imagine being able to affect a person in such a fantastic way as to cause fulfillment, strength or positive growth?  That is what our encouragement to others can do.   Scriptural encouragement is ongoing, daily, and consistent.  It requires much of us as believers.  Here are some scriptures that show us what encouragement can do.

~ Strengthening: I Thessalonians 5:14, “And we urge you, brothers and sisters, admonish the undisciplined, comfort the discouraged, help the weak, be patient toward all.

~ Motivating: 2 Samuel 19:7, “So get up now and go out and give some encouragement to your servants.  For I swear by the Lord that if you don’t go out there, not a single man will stay here with you tonight!  This disaster will be worse for you than any disaster that has overtaken you from your youth right to the present time!”

~ Assuring: Deuteronomy 1:38, “However, Joshua son of Nun, your assistant, will go. Encourage him, because he will enable Israel to inherit the land”

~ Exhorting: Acts 11:23, “When he came and saw the grace of God, he rejoiced and encouraged them all to remain true to the Lord with devoted hearts.”

~ Supporting: Isaiah 1:17, “Learn to do what is right!  Promote justice!  Give the oppressed reason to celebrate!  Take up the cause of the orphan!  Defend the rights of the widow!”

~ Disciplining: Hebrews 3:12-15, See to it, brothers and sisters, that none of you has an evil, unbelieving heart that forsakes the living God. 13 But exhort one another each day, as long as it is called “Today,” that none of you may become hardened by sin’s deception. 14 For we have become partners with Christ, if in fact we hold our initial confidence firm until the end. 15 As it says, “Oh, that today you would listen as he speaks! Do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion.”

True encouragement pumps hope into the receiver and into the giver.  It requires a deep intimate relationship with Jesus Christ, and it demands a lifestyle of servant hood.  Real, and true encouragement is simply a response to God’s work in our own lives.  We want to encourage and lift up others because of the work God has done in our lives.  He has changed us inside and out and we can’t respond the way we used to when we see others hurting.  Through our intimacy with Christ we learn the importance of connecting with one another, which will naturally lead us into deeper relationships.  The spiritual needs of people that we are closest to are made clear as a result of our time spent with Christ.

Hebrews 10:24, “Let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds.”

We look for ways to encourage each other because we love our Lord so deeply that we must share it with others.  It is a treasure, but not one to be kept, it is meant to be given away.  When it is given away in the spirit of humility, it will be returned in due time.  When we are walking closely with the Lord and he gives us opportunities to encourage others it is his way of using us to draw others to him.  I can’t think of a better way to be used!

~Why we don’t encourage

Many years ago the kids & I were in a car accident.  My daughter had to stay in the hospital for a few days after having surgery.  While in the hospital we were overwhelmed by the outpouring of friends who came to visit us.  We were surprised at who came to see us.  Many times it someone we didn’t expect to see.  Once we were home there was even more of an outpouring of support and encouragement for us as our friends brought us meals.  I wondered though why some came to help us and others that I really expected to come never did.  I didn’t understand why they didn’t bring us a meal or call to see how we were doing.  These were friends that I thought would be some of the first to come see us, but never did. 

There are several reasons I have found as to why we don’t encourage others. 

~ We are just too busy and have no free time available to offer our time to anyone else.

~We don’t know what to do or say, so we decide to just do nothing.

~We give up when we don’t see any results from our past attempts at helping someone.

~We are selfish and insensitive to the needs of others.

~We do not understand our identity in Christ.

Scripture is full of charges to encourage others.  We can read all the scripture we want, but unless we apply it and live it, there will be no understanding or wisdom.  It all comes back to our intimacy with Christ.  When we truly understand who we are in Christ, then we will not only know how to reach out beyond ourselves but we will desire to do so.  The first 4 reasons I wrote above are only excuses that are made because we do not have a deep relationship with our Lord.  That may sound harsh, but I know it is truth.  I am proof that it is so.

But does this mean that we are to jump onto every person that needs help?  Should we cook a meal for everyone who needs it or call everyone we know of who is going through a tough time?  NO.  The spirit leads us to those we are to encourage.  There have been times when I knew of someone in need, I wanted to help, but the Lord did not lead me to help them.  I prayed for them instead.  It may not sound very proactive, or like an excuse, but it is not.  Sometimes I am not equipped to help someone.  Many times I am equipped and when those times arise it is not only my responsibility as a believer to be available to help, but it is my deepest pleasure.

 The miracle of encouragement is that we often are doing it without even realizing it.  It can be a simple smile, greeting, or just a hug.  I asked a friend at church one morning how she was doing?  I had not seen her in a while and really wanted to know.  She answered with the common, “I’m fine.”  I said, “Really, so tell me how you are?”  “You really want to know?” she answered.  Of course I wanted to know.  She told me that she had been sick and that is why I had not seen her.  She was still recovering, so she still didn’t have much energy.  How many times has someone asked you how you are, but you know that they really didn’t want to know.  They were just being nice.  Don’t ask someone how they are unless you really want to know.  Then please don’t tell them that you will pray for them unless you really will.  I always know who really does pray for me, because they will come to me later and ask me about what I had shared with them.  I am on their mind, because I am in their prayers.  Sincerity is really important and true encouragement can’t happen unless you are sincere.

I don’t want this to discourage you, but to motivate you to search deep within your soul desires and passions.  Where do they lie?  Is your heart focused on pleasing and growing in the Lord or is it else where.  Do you pass up opportunities to encourage and help others because of any of the reasons I posted above?  Are you consumed with getting everything checked off your list everyday or do you look for opportunities to reach out to others?  If our plans are not his plans then our plans will fail. 

~Encouraging our Husbands

 I have learned more of the importance of lifting my husband up in the last 3 years than in all of our marriage.  The last 3-5 years have been very difficult for us financially and I have realized how crucial it is that I continue to encourage and support my husband through it all.  He takes his God-given role of provider very seriously and this has been very difficult for him.  When he comes in from work and I dump the woes of my day on him I am only tearing him down.  Our words are so powerful.  They can either speak life or they can destroy.

Proverbs 10:19, “When words abound, transgression is inevitable, but the one who restrains his words is wise.”

I don’t know about you, but I have a real problem at times at not knowing when to shut up.  I start talking and before I know it I have said all the wrong things and can’t take any of it back.  Learning when to say what has been a huge in encouraging my husband.  And learning when to be quiet has been an even bigger positive in our marriage.  I learned not to long ago that men need to know that we are proud of him more than knowing we love them.  It is how they were designed.  They need to hear “I’m proud of you”, just as much as they hear you say, “I love you”.

An excellent wife is the crown of her husband, but she who shames (him) is as rottenness in his bones.” Pro 12:4

Wives, you have the power to build and support your husband. You also have the power to shame and belittle him. Your support means much more to your husband than you realize. You can make your man or you can break him.

In the Amplified bible, Eph 5:33b says, “… and let the wife see that she respects and reverences her husband, that she notices him, regards him, honors him, prefers him, venerates and esteems him and that she defers to him, praises him and loves and admires him exceedingly.”

In the Bible, respect means to voluntarily lift up another person for special consideration and treatment.

Your husband is not just another person. He is the man you have chosen to commit in marriage for better or for worse.  For a husband to feel successful as a man, his wife must respect him.  He must be championed.  Never correct him in public or in front of the children. Be sensitive and advise him privately.  Respecting your husband involves understanding and appreciation.  Understand and appreciate his responsibilities and pressures.  Understand and appreciate his strength as well as his weakness.  Understand and appreciate his difference as a man.

Finally, encouragement demonstrates respect that gives confidence to your husband.  Encouragement means specific acts of building him up.  Think of 3 things you will do in the coming week to encourage your husband and see what that will do to him.  

~Encouraging our Children to be Excellent

Do you ever feel like you spend your whole day telling your children everything they are doing that is wrong?  I know that I do.  It is an exhausting day when I am putting out fires all day.  I usually go to bed feeling like I got nothing done.

I decided a few years ago that I would try something; kind of like an experiment.  I had read Genesis 1:31, Then God looked over all he had made and he saw that it was excellent in everyway.”  (NLT)  I thought I would look at my children as excellent, rather than evil.  J  I would look for their good qualities.  Now, that doesn’t mean that I ignored their bad behavior.  It just means that I went out of my way to see & praise the good things they did.  To be absolutely honest about this, I had a few kids that I just couldn’t see anything good in them.  So, I asked God to show me how they are excellent.  For several weeks I prayed for these children asking the Lord to show me good things about them.  Then I began to see these kids in a whole new way.  My prayers for them changed from “Show me, Lord” to “Thank you Lord.”

With this new outlook on my kids I began to praise them and enjoy them more.  And in turn they enjoyed me also.  I wasn’t the stressed out mom they had before.  Our days were much more peaceful than ever before.

I noticed something else; they began to encourage each other more.  They were still arguing and fighting, but not near as much as before.  They had a respect for each other that was not there before.  When you know you are respected by someone you are more likely to do things that please them rather than hurt them.

There is no magic formula to this, just pray and praise your children and let the Lord do the rest.

 I Need Your Help!

Do you have any ideas for future newsletters?  What kind of topics would you like to see covered?  If you have any ideas or suggestions email me!

dana@livingstones4moms.com

Blog Update!

I have 2 new categories on the blog now.  One is on Raising Daughters, and another is on Psalm 119, Ways to Remain Pure. Soon I hope to start one on “Raising Sons” (or maybe I should say Surviving Sons)

Also, I am about to start putting the newsletter in a simple text form on the blog.  It will be under the Category, “Newsletter Archives”.  This is the easiest way for me to do this until we get a real website up & running.  So if you just joined us and you would like to see what you have missed in past newsletters you can read them on the blog. 

These are a few ways that you can support Living Stones Ministry.

  1. One is through your prayers for us. 2 Corinthians 1:10,11 says,”On him we have set our hope that he will continue to deliver us, as you help us by your prayers. Then many will give thanks on our behalf for the gracious favor granted us in answer to the prayers of many.”  Praying for others in Jesus name is powerful and no dollar sign can compare to it.  I truly believe in the power of prayer.  Here are a few specific requests: (1) Pray for me(Dana) that I will recognize opportunities to share the love of Jesus with others and then have the boldness to act on them. (2) Pray for my family as they stand with me in this commitment to minister to others, that we will be protected from the enemy’s wicked schemes. (3) pray for those who are on the receiving end of our ministry that they will be encouraged to seek the Lord and be the godly wives and mothers God intended them to be.
  2. The second way to support us is to give financially.  We don’t have the money to do many of the things I would like to do.  We hope to host more conferences, build a real website, publish books and keep this email newsletter going.  All of this takes money.  We are trusting God that he will provide what we need when we need it to accomplish his plans for this ministry.
  3. Purchase the 5 CD set of the speakers from the 2006 conference.  There were 5 sessions and 4 different speakers, all moms who shared their testimony on becoming a godly woman, wife & mother.  The set sells for $20.00 plus shipping & handling.  You can email us for more information on the topics shared.
  4. Please pass this newsletter on to others if you have been blessed by it.  I say this, not because I think I have anything grand to say, but because of what the Lord says through me.  I never know how my words will fall, but the emails I get are so encouraging and confirm to me that the Lord is using this newsletter to build up godly wives & mothers.

If you would like to recieve the newsletter in your inbox, you can click the Email Newsletter link under my picture.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. Shannon permalink
    November 18, 2007 8:10 am

    Dana,

    I love the words on encouraging and respecting your husband. Such a great reminder. Thank you!

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