work

Whom Did You Encourage Today?

I shall risk the assumption that like me, you [my fellow millennial Christian] are tempted to be concerned most about numero uno throughout a given week. You know who numero uno is (you!). Boy do we [naturally] make our days centered on our schedules, our needs, our desires, our feelings…or what? Me, me, me. It’s all about me. A sad reflection of the human heart, no? And when did we last stop ourselves to ponder how truly poisonous this is to the body of Christ? Obsession of self is part of the world’s system. And I certainly don’t ponder these truths as often as I should, but I did when I encountered Hebrews 3:13 recently.

But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called “today”, that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.

Not the idea.

Not the idea.

Hebrews 3:13 is a straight up imperative for God’s people to encourage each other every single day. As long as the day is today, which it always is…Christians are to exhort one another to resist the deceitfulness of the human heart, and lean fully on the Lord’s grace in the fight against our unique temptations.

How are we doing in this area [millennial] believers? Have you today done anything to encourage a Christian brother or sister? Or are you only concerned about nursing your problems, your agenda, and your needs or desires? Certainly we’re all guilty of doing those things; but God’s word clearly teaches against this [wickedness] (Philippians 2:3-4), and we must repent! Yes, life is hard; no one has failed to figure that out. Jesus Christ assured us it would be over and over in the gospels and through His apostles. But instead of focusing on the chaos [of today, tomorrow, and beyond] that we personally deal with…allow me to challenge you to encourage others as I challenge myself nowadays. And it starts with picking someone.

Whom can you encourage? A brief list of certain people groups [and the individuals that compromise them] to consider is as follows…though of course it is not exhaustive. It is also in no particular order.

  1. Immediate family (spouse, children)
  2. Church leaders (your pastor(s), elders, and deacons)
  3. Church family (the Christians who participate in your local fellowship)
  4. Extended family (in-lawsaunts/uncles, cousins)
  5. Co-workers, non-Christian friends, strangers, etc.

Let’s takes this one step further. Rework the first word of this article’s title: How did you encourage someone today? Or how can you encourage someone today?

A [non-comprehensive] list of ways to accomplish that is below…

  1. Publicly share a Bible verse, lyrics, a [clean] funny, personal testimony, etc, for everyone associated with you on social media. It encourages more than you think.
  2. Revisit #1, but with a specific individual via private/text messages. Ask how you can pray. Ask how they’re doing! Volunteer a personal testimony; invite the same. You might be surprised by the encouraging relationship this can create!
  3. For those that don’t use social media, private messages, etc, do the same as #1/#2 but with an email to someone or a group of folks. Most people use email now, and can use your encouragements!
  4. When did you last dial someone to encourage them? There’s a lost art, eh? Yet I’ve seen first-hand how this warms a believer’s heart!
  5. That person you were praying for earlier today? Let them know you did in-person the next time you meet. What a blessing! What an encouragement!
  6. Whether at someone else’s home, or in yours, spend some time in distraction-free conversation. This is a great ministry for encouragement!
  7. There’s surely a place outside of home, work, and church that you can sit down with someone. Have lunch and encourage a brother or sister!

Will any Christian ever be the perfect encourager? No, but encouraging a fellow Christian in one of your circles is so critical to the healthy functioning of Christ’s body. Neglecting it will suffer you, and those not receiving your admonishment. So, encourage a fellow believer today. Just do it!

Book Review: Just Do Something (Kevin DeYoung)

Most Christians ask, “What is God’s will for me?” at some point in their lives. It certainly isn’t wrong to ask that question; Christians should care about God’s will, but it is wrong when pondering it and/or looking for it causes the believer to take eons to make what really should be simple decisions. The millennial generation especially has seemed to master the art of agonizing over the litany of life’s questions, significant or small, and Kevin DeYoung’s Just Do Something: A Liberating Approach To Finding God’s Will is an excellent tool that can help you get back on the proper decision-making track.

It’s impressive how, with such an intimidating subject matter that can be very difficult to dissect, Kevin manages to present a great number of effective illustrations and straightforward trains of thought to help us understand God’s will better and think more biblically about it. Kevin suggests that Christians waste immeasurable, unrecoverable amounts of time waiting for God to show them the way, and spend sadly little time actually doing anything. I tend to agree with that. Kevin makes it clear that God has a plan for each of us, but that it isn’t God’s plan for us to know that plan in its every detail. And it shouldn’t surprise us that because Christians want to know, we’re driving ourselves nuts choosing what to have for breakfast, or where to live.

DeYoung covers a variety of topics in Just Do Something, beginning with how the realities of God and His character actually shape the carrying out of His will (ch.2). He moves on to emphasizing reasons why believers want to know God’s will (ch.3), why some reasons are wrong (ch.4) how we should handle following God’s will (ch.5), the ways Christians manage to make decision-making such an arduous process (ch.6), suggestions for practical actions to take and avoid in disseminating God’s will (ch.7), how to apply biblical wisdom (Scripture, counsel, and prayer) to decision-making (ch.8), and much more. And I knew Kevin wouldn’t fail to nail me in my struggle of being a timid, analytic second-guesser with tainted emotions. Thanks for that brother.

Don’t misunderstand though. Kevin’s goal is never to encourage doing whatever comes to mind at any time regardless of the potential consequences, and he doesn’t do that. He absolutely does advocate, as he should, for Christians to apply Scriptural truth and principles when making certain decisions. The key there is certain. When it comes to non-moral matters such as where to live or attend college, what career path to take, whether to buy or rent, whether to serve your church in this way or that way, etc, God is never going to write in the sky what He ultimately determined for you. Almighty God did, after all, give mankind a fully functional brain to make choices.

Yet reality is that Christians in general don’t make decisions well, myself included. We want our ducks all in a row. We don’t want to take risks. We simply like to know if it’s what God really wants, and what the long-term ramifications will be. The problem is if that was reality, we wouldn’t depend on God at all, let alone fully. We would lean on our own understanding, not that of the God who knows past, present, and future, and predestined what He knows is best for each of us. Kevin pounds this home in each chapter, and I appreciate the necessary reminders. And of course he never fails to supplement the book’s great content with his trademark humor, and personal anecdotes. Apparently Kevin’s grandfather has influenced him much in this area, because you’ll encounter him several times throughout JDS.

In the end, while some of Kevin’s claims are perhaps debatable, overall I think he’s spot-on with his theology about what God’s will is, and how Christians ought to be walking in it. So, if you’ve wanted to understand better what in fairness is a difficult concept, Just Do Something is a very good resource that sheds further light on the teachings of Scripture. Is it God’s will that you read it? Well, that’s for you to decide.