Thursday, May 28, 2009

Thought on Encouragement

Here is a great quote on encouragement from Tullian Tchividjian. Let me know your thoughts.

"There's a counterfeit type of encouragement and a genuine type of encouragement. The counterfeit type is what the Bible calls flattery. It's selfish smooth talk. The person who offers it does so for selfish reasons (If I tell this person something nice, he'll do for me what I want him to do). But true encouragement is different. Understood biblically, real encouragement is the verbal affirmation of someone's strength, giftedness, or accomplishment, along with the realization that God the Creator is the ultimate source behind whatever's being affirmed.

This type of encouragement is something all human beings not only crave but in fact need. God intended us to feed on it. The reason we require it is that we're images of God, designed to reflect Him. So when others aren't acknowledging God's reflection in who we are and what we do - when we're not being encouraged - it leads to a hardened heart, a saddened disposition, and a debilitated lifestyle; we lose our sense of what it means to be human. Some of the most tragically hardened and fruitless people I know are those who have rarely, if ever, been encouraged.

The secret of true encouragement is learning to see God's reflection in others, not just in Christians but in everyone. Encouragement is noticing God's reflection in other people's strengths and gifts, then verbally affirming what we see. Since all human beings are made in God's image, we all - believers and unbelievers alike - reflect God in unique ways. Learning to see this uniqueness and to point it out can have a significant impact as we strive to make a difference in our world for the sake of God's kingdom.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Some thoughts of Titus on Heaven and Hell

I just got back from my grandma's funeral in St. Louis. I brought Titus and took time to explain things such as a casket, where do people go when they die, what would happen when they close the casket to put it in the ground, etc. It was quite an interesting conversation. That night we went to the house of some good friends and as Titus was playing in the sandbox the following dialogue to place:

Titus: Daddy. Look. I made a casket for the shovel (he had buried the shovel in sand).

Me: Oh yea? That is interesting.

Titus: Yea. Did you know that when we play in the sand in Heaven it will be so much fun?!?!

Me: Yea buddy. It will be.

Titus: Yea, it would not be as much fun to play in the sand in Hell.

Me: It wouldn't be fun at all because fun is not even a possibility in Hell.

Titus: Yea, unless I brought a brick down there and killed Satan with it!!

Me: That's quite an interesting thought. Guess what?

Titus: What?


Immediately after this he just went back to playing around in the sandbox like a typical 4 year old. His insight amazes me a ton. It is always interesting to see how he put thoughts together that are quite profound, but then also has the maturity to HAVE FUN ALSO.

Love Truth

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Grief: Simple, yet messy

Grief seems to be a strange area in life. My grandma just died last night and it has brought to the surface many things about my dad (He died 5 years ago this coming May 23). I wanted to take time and share a couple of things I have learned along the way, along with some failures in the process.

First of all, grief is messy, yet it is very simple. Grief is not complicated. I have found that many times the paralyzing part of grief comes when people start believing that grief is just to complicated, along with being very messy.

Next, it is eerily scary to see how easy we can suppress our emotions and others think this is mature in some way. I remember hearing so many people tell me they thought I was dealing with my dad’s death in a very mature way. One thing I have found is that many people equate external stoicism with maturity in life. I am not saying you have to cry your eyes out every day, but the problem comes when you equate “not crying” with properly working through grief. I was scared of my emotions and in some degree am still working through this fear in my life. The fear of “feeling to deeply” caused me to suppress my emotions (whether crying, laughing, etc.) in such a way that I ended up trying to be the god of my own emotions. I quit trusting God with this part of my life. This is called practical atheism. I worked out how I could be "presentable" to people without asking God to teach me who He was and thus show me how to properly unpack grief. If you find yourself in this camp I pray you would experientially know that He is not only bigger that any emotion you have, but that He will be faithful to help you unpack your emotions.

Finally, I have learned that proper grief ultimately comes down to knowing Him. This is why grief is simple. Instead of trying to suppress my emotions or even plan how I am going to feel about a certain memory that I have, I ask God to teach me how to know Him more and have faith that He will reveal to me the information behind the emotions. After all, I may cry one day and that emotion is from missing my dad or grandma, yet tears the following day may be because I am happy from another memory. I am not trying to trivialize grief down to laughing, crying, or neither. Just like in all of life our emotions are numerous and so are the ways we express them. When I came to the understanding that God really does want us to know Him through all of our emotions I quit trying to control them and entrusted myself to Him.

Therefore, grief has ultimately taught me to be challenged with the question, “Who is God?” Do I trust who He says He is? Do I trust that He knows me better than I know myself? Do I trust that He will work all things out for my good? (Rom. 8:28) If I trust Him with who He says He is according to the Bible, it only follows that He will be faithful to comfort me and teach me who He is in the face of grief and will also give me unspeakable joy.

I pray that you will feel and know His comfort today if you are grieving in any way. I pray you will trust His faithfulness. I pray you will know that He really does want to show you how much He love you in the face of your grief. I pray that if you have never lost someone close to you that He would teach you how to walk alongside those who are grieving. I pray that in the face of good memories or bad that you would know He is your ultimate joy in life.

Grief is simple. Know Him. Grief is messy because it hurts terribly, yet He promises to comfort us in all of our afflictions so that we are able to comfort others in their time of need. (2 Cor. 1:3-5)