We are called to encourage one another

By Jeff Rushing
Godly Daddy contributor

Do you know someone who needs to be encouraged?

As Junior Asparagus said on “VeggieTales,” their life should be a party but the hot dog fell out of their bun?

There is a Peanuts cartoon that showed Lucy in her psychiatrist booth, giving advice to a bummed out Charlie Brown as usual for five cents. She tells him, “Life, Charlie Brown, is like a deck chair on a cruise ship. Passengers open up these canvas deck chairs so they can sit in the sun. Some people place their chairs facing the rear of the ship so they can see where they’ve been. Other people face their chairs forward. They want to see where they’re going. On the cruise ship of life, Charlie Brown, which way is your deck chair facing?”

Charlie Brown, instead of thinking about how things used to be or will be, sighs, “I’ve never been able to get one unfolded.”

Earlier this year I took over as the teacher of my Sunday School Life Group class.

It is a humbling experience, especially when you make what you think is an amazing Biblical point, only to be met with silence and stares.

I would put in an “applause” sign, but then that would mean that I’ve forgotten that it’s not about me.

At least three times a week I wonder how I can keep the privilege without being seen as a raging hypocrite or at least a terrible example, whether it is:

A. When I am making Cooper cry after sending him to his room for copping an attitude with Darling Valerie, or

B. When I just want to lay my weary head on the floor and go to sleep, right after I scrub the poop off the floor that Penny wiped on it (“because I wanted to”), or

C. When Darling Valerie has to get onto me because I am stuck on No. 1 of my six-page Honey Do List, currently renamed the Honey Doesn’t Have The Energy To Do Jack Squat List.

In many Bible stories we relate a lot to David, his triumphs and his failures. But when it comes down to it, the reality is that we are more likely to be Uriah. We serve someone in a higher authority, we try to stay true to our values, and sometimes we end up with the short end of the stick.

If not for the encouragement of my church’s education minister, Brother Joseph, I would never have even imagined I could teach a class of full-fledged adult Christians who have probably been going to church far longer than I have, won trophies for Bible Drill as kids and are active in missions and discipling. But Bro. Joseph knew that I needed to, and could, take that step of faith.

It’s that kind of encouragement that we all need. It’s when we are doing this that we show what Jesus called the new commandment in John 13:34-35: “A new command I give you, love one another. As I have loved you, you must love one another. By this all men will know you are my disciples, if you love one another.”

That can be tough when you’re dealing with adults who should generally know better and take responsibility for their actions. When it comes to our kids, encouragement comes naturally. It’s hard to fault a three-year-old for throwing a tantrum, so you forgive quickly and love unconditionally or you will never be able to take enough Calgon baths to sing of the mercies of the Lord.

But if you’re looking for that kind of love for everyone then the Bible makes it clear that if we abide in Christ then you will naturally bear the fruits of the spirit, love will flow and you’ll be the light on the hill.

As believers were are to encourage one another. To do so glorifies Jesus. Peter tells us that “Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling.” (1 Peter 4:8-19)

Key word there: Grumbling. How easy is it to be as stiff-necked as the Israelites, murmuring under our breaths as if God doesn’t know what’s in our hearts?!

I made it a point recently to be better at encouraging after a co-worker made an offhand remark who accidentally made it clear that I was not following Hebrews 3:13 to “encourage each other daily.”

In a joking Facebook post my co-worker said something about me being bitter while working and I thought, “Wait, I come across as bitter?” I mean, sure, there was that time recently when I was literally banging my head on the desk, and the time I slightly exaggerated that things were going so bad that I was going to stab myself in the knee just to feel something real, and OK that all happened within 15 minutes, so yeah, I could work on my attitude.

Even when everything is a little crazy I don’t want to be seen as angry or unhappy, so I decided to take the initiative to be more positive and encouraging. It’s a work in progress, of course, and even more difficult at home.

What I realized that first week at work is that the more encouraging I was, the more positive my job became. It was easier to deal with setbacks, and if I was treating people in an upbeat manner they reacted to that.

Now, the next challenge is to transfer that to my home life, and to be able to generate a joyful attitude even when Penny has thrown Cooper’s shoes into the toilet, or Cooper throws a tantrum because I told him we wouldn’t get ice cream at Chick-fil-A later after he threw a tantrum for not getting it last time for throwing a tantrum.

If you have felt lately like you are crashing and burning, I implore you to watch this interview with Texas high school running back Apollos Hester, who seems to have a clear grasp of what it means to have an inspirational attitude. Here’s what he tells the reporter at the end:

“It’s a mindset, yes ma’am, Hey, you can do anything you put your mind to. Never give up on your dreams. Keep smiling. No matter what you’re going through, you fall down, just get up. If you can’t get up, your friends are there to help you up, your mama’s there, your daddy’s there, God’s there, hey I’m there to help you up, you’re there!”

You know that poem “Footprints in the Sand,” hanging in every grandmother’s bathroom? It says, in part, “During your times of trial and suffering, when you see only set of footprints, it was then that I carried you.”

There’s a cartoon playing off of “Footprints” that shows a set of footprints next to two lines in the sand and Jesus saying, “Over there is when I dragged you for a while.”

Can you think of at least one way you can be used by God to carry (or drag) someone through difficult times by encouraging them in the faith this week? Whom do you know who needs a call, a visit, an email, and your prayers? Make it so!


I Try Not to be Cynical

I try not to be cynical. It is not something that I want to do. The old adage “if you don’t believe anything good will ever happen, you won’t be disappointed if it doesn’t” kind of rings a lot in my life. Naturally, I am a negative person. I have to force myself to believe that there are good things that happen in life. I have to make a concerted effort to be a positive person. The coffee mug could be half full of coffee and I will think “well…I am almost out of coffee….” But seriously, over the years I have certainly developed this toxic gift that I am constantly working on. I don’t want to be cynical, but you guys out there in the real world make it really hard for me not to be. When someone has been working their whole career to get ahead just to be left behind constantly, it is easy for that person to believe in the old adage that I mentioned earlier. When our finances continue to hit a brick all, it is hard for me to be glad for the guy who was able to pay his house off and start his own business from scratch without borrowing a penny. I digress. My hope is that I can become as successful as Abraham Lincoln….without all the failures…

Time Line of Failures of Abraham Lincoln

1832- Defeated for State Legislature

1833- Failed in Business

1835-Lost his Fiancé

1836- Nervous Breakdown

1838- Defeated for Speaker

1843- Defeated for Nomination for Congress

1848- Lost Re-nomination

1849- Rejected for Land Officer

1854- Defeated for US Senate

1856- Defeated for Nomination for Vice President

1858- Defeated again for US Senate

1860-ELECTED PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

Time Line Source – http://www.abrahamlincolnonline.org/lincoln/education/failures.htm. Retrieved 10.01.14.

“So let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up.”

Galatians 6:9 NLT

I was surprised that this article did not mention that Lincoln had lost two of his four sons to death while they were children and one while he was in the White House. Not to mention that his wife was clinically insane. Lincoln had a lot of opportunity to develop an attitude that was toxic. It would have been easy for him to become cynical. It is easy to think only good things happen to certain people and the rest of us are left behind to remove the manure. It is important that we have our eyes set upon greater things and better things. I am not proclaiming some message of weird witchcraft. But I am saying that the Bible verse from Proverbs 23:7 which reads “As [a man] thinks in his heart, so is he.” If you are thinking doom and gloom, do not be surprised if you get doom and gloom. If you think your kids are hoodlums, do not be shocked when they are arrested for disorderly conduct…okay, that may be a stretch. But do not be shocked if they grow up causing trouble. If we can get our minds around this, what power would we have as men of God? Amazing!


He Who Is Faithful

It is amazing. The simple the knowledge that God is faithful. He is not faithless. He is faith-full, meaning He is full of faith. He is not One who leaves us hanging in the balance, yet He is the One who helps us to become more than we could ever imagine. When we are weak, He makes us stronger.

Those words above are great, awesome words. They might even inspire you and bring you to a place of hope. Let me be transparent with you for just a moment. Eight years ago, I might have written those words and spoke those words, but I would not have lived out those words. I was rattled with anxiety, fear, worry, etc. I often wondered if TV cameras were following me around to get ideas for the show Monk. This show is based around a detective who is OCD and had fears about every single thing. That was me. There was a perpetual recording device that was replaying every single action that I had ever done in my life (good and bad) and it wore me out watching it.

I still battled with this recorder from time to time. I often wonder if it will ever truly go away. As a parent, I have had to be careful with this. It is easy for you and me as parents to replay every single action to our children that they have done wrong. It’s even easier to for us to keep account of it until the end of all eternity. We will bring it up just make a point. We will use it like a wet noodle making sure that our every single thought revolved around it.

Here’s the thing that I had to learn about that recorder as a parent; it does me no good to have it on. I believe that if we turned off the recorder that our children would have a better life. They wouldn’t wonder if we were mad at them. They wouldn’t coward back in fear because they did something wrong. Now, I don’t want it to be an instrument to condone sin, that’s not it at all. But it does mean that my kids will not have to go along in life wondering if Dad remembers something that I did 25 years ago. I know people that live that way and they wonder why they are sick all the time because their bodies are on replay mode all the time. Turn the tape player off, Dad. It’s time to unwind. It’s time to relax. It’s time to quit trying to find the rewind button. It’s time to move forward. I have to work on this too, friend. It’s not something that comes naturally. It is something that comes from the Holy Spirit to help.

 

“I am the Lord, and I do not change.” Malachi 3:6


Facing Your Giants

 

Many men (and women) fight multiple giants in their lives; whether the giants are lust, adultery, greed, pride, depression, lack, etc. There are times that a person can just become overwhelmed with the things that happen in life and feel that there is no hope. Men, especially, are afflicted with those giants and find themselves at a loss as to what to do. Today, I am reviewing the book called Facing Your Giants by Max Lucado. The New York Times Best Selling author took time to break down the different giants that we face on a daily basis and provided an expose on the life of King David.

It may impress you that King David did not only face Goliath but multiple different giants throughout his lifetime. Could you imagine being King David in this period of time? He did not have the Torah or the Bible to help him along the way. The only map that he had was his heart which he found got him into a lot of trouble. Lucado touches on the multiple times that David was led by his heart when it came to making decisions in the combat of these giants. Lucado gave an honest account on what it would have been like to be David in the midst of these trials and also included many of his personal stories in it. Lucado is often very candid about his shortcomings when it comes to the giants that were in his life. However, he seems to always show the grace of God and how God redeems what has been lost while fighting these giants.

This is a must read for those who are struggling to find themselves in the midst of the church while fighting their personal battles. I am never surprised by Lucado and his writings when it comes to encouraging the heathen and the well versed Christian. I feel that he often marries them together into one group thus leaving any division out of the equation on his writing.

You can pick up a copy of Facing Your Giants at your local Christian bookstore or on Amazon!


In His Presence

Over the past few weeks, you have been reading on the Godly Daddy blog about change. Simply put, sometimes we have to change in order to see results. I am not satisfied with just being mediocre in life. But what I have to say next may be completely contradictory to what I have been writing over the past week.

When God has called you to do something there are times when God will call you to simply wait.

“Be still in the presence of the Lord, and wait patiently for him to act.”
                                                                                            -Psalms 37:7

As many of you have been following me for quite some time, you are aware that my wife and I have a great desire to open a coffee shop and bakery in our town. There has been a lot of work behind the scenes put into making it happen. I could completely go out tomorrow and take out the business loan to make it work. However, it wouldn’t be blessed. Now, let me stop here and make a statement before you cast your stones at me. I am not implying that borrowing money is a sin or a salvation issue. I do believe that the Bible doesn’t have anything good to say about it and it wouldn’t be wise for our situation.

God will often call you to be still and wait for Him to respond to the situation. I recall a time when I passed the building that I wanted to buy to put the coffee shop in. I heard in my heart these words; “It must be done in a way where you cannot get the credit or the glory. People will surely say ‘Look what the Lord has done!” I have to be honest, this blows my mind. If this is what the Lord is going to do then it must be awesome.

Sara and I got to a point where we just long so much for it be done that when we saw others prospering, it hurt our hearts.

“Don’t worry about evil people who prosper or fret about their wicked schemes.
Stop being angry! Turn from your rage! Do not lose your temper— it only leads to harm.
For the wicked will be destroyed, but those who trust in the Lord will possess the land.
Soon the wicked will disappear. Though you look for them, they will be gone.”
-Psalms 37:8-10

How much easier would it have been for us to throw up our hands and tell God just what we thought because we saw others prospering in their dream. It’s hard. Believe me, it is hard. It will probably be the hardest thing that you have ever done. But to wait upon the Lord while watching others prosper, it can become even more difficult. Don’t lose heart (Galatians 6:9). Keep focusing on what God is going to do.

The lowly will possess the land and will live in peace and prosperity.
                                                                                                        -Psalms 37:11

God is faithful. He will complete what He has started. He will provide a way where there seems to be no way. Friend, when you are going through the valley, trust in Him and rest in Him. Once we do that, we will find that God is our ultimate Father who has the best in store for us and can’t wait to pour out His blessings on our lives.


It’s Not That I’m Not Compassionate…

I hear it coming from miles around. It’s the sound that no father wants to hear. No man in his right mind would ask for this type of torture. I know you may be perfect, but I am far from it. Folks, it’s not that I am not compassionate. I truly care about my children. I would go to the ends of the earth for them. I would want for their lives to be filled with joy. But to hear that sound, it sends chills down my spine. I know, you probably are wondering what “that sound” is. Perhaps you don’t even have to ask, because you are a Godly Dad. It’s the shrill cry of drama. Yes, drama. “She hit me!” or “I fell down!” or…well, the list could go on and on. It’s not that I’m not compassionate, because I am. I, however, have found that I lock up and freeze when the drama ensues. I just don’t want to deal with it. Is it just me or when I hear that scream, I go into that spot in my brain that wants to pull my hair out? Again, I digress. I often wonder if God feels that way. Of course He doesn’t, but being the dad that I am, I have to wonder these things. All three of my girls have heard me tell them “quit with the drama!” I know it is in their blood, it is in their DNA, it is in their bones, but seriously?! God has to be showing us as parents what we look like to Him when we go to Him.

Drama Isn’t Always What It Appears

I found myself there just a few days ago and I caught myself before I even got started. I was done with class that night and needed to get gas. I decided to check on my handy dandy new phone this awesome thing called an app and bam! I found out that our account was in the hole. I had been diligent in balancing our books and making sure that it was all correct. But there it was, -20.10. It’s a weird number. And no, I don’t mind airing my laundry on-line. Why? Because it wasn’t my fault. No, really, it wasn’t my fault…this time. Of course, I knew that the app had been messed up for a bit so I decided to wait until I got home. It was so tempting to go into full on drama mode. However, I decided to check once I got home and by the time I got home I didn’t think there would be any use because I would be wide awake thinking about it all night long. In the morning, I checked it online and it was the same. I recognized an issue, though. The bank’s computer was charging me double for every transaction. It’s a wonders that it was only that much in the red!

Anyhow, I knew that a phone call would fix the situation. Lo and behold, the representative at the bank had said that they were aware of the issue and were fixing a lot of accounts. Where does this go in with drama? I could have easily flown off the handle, casting every word known to God and man at people, worrying about what was going on, and taken it out on that lady who had absolutely no control over the situation. I want you to catch that last part for those who call in and scream at the representative on the other end. She did not go into my account and say “well, I will just jack them up so they can’t get anything they need…” No. The computer made an error. It taught me a valuable lesson…keep cash at all times!

Whatever You Want to Think

The real lesson is this; drama only gets you so far and then you have a breakdown. While I writing this, I was working on our check book and I could have gotten upset. I have done it a lot over the last 8 years that we have been doing this. Instead, I purposed to follow Philippians 4

“For the rest, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is worthy of reverence and is honorable and seemly, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely and lovable, whatever is kind and winsome and gracious, if there is any virtue and excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think on and weigh and take account of these things [fix your minds on them].”Philippians 4:8 AMP

In other words, we have control over what we think. I just stepped on my own toes here so you can own it too. You and I have the opportunity to either let the situation control us…or we can control it. I was listening to a recent podcast about becoming a millionaire. I can’t quote exactly because of the language that came out but in essence, the person speaking was talking about how we live in a woe is me world when in fact when we are broke or when we can’t make it, it’s not so and so’s fault…it’s your fault! I have to agree to a point. It is yours and my responsibility to put the right thinking in our own minds. I am not talking about weird, name it and claim it, yada yada. I am talking about taking control on what you’re thinking about. Think upon the things that are … … … If we can’t do it, then why are we instructed to do it?

I Don’t Want To Hear No Drama

To put it in perspective, Maleah was walking down the hall the other day and heard one of my other girls crying about running into the wall. “I don’t want to hear drama!” Sara about hit the floor. I wonder if that is what crosses God’s radar sometimes. What would happen if we decided to turn drama into faith. Our children would certainly grow closer to God if they see you drawing nearer to God… no matter the situation. God wants to hear your drama…but He does not want you staying there.

Casting the whole of your care [all your anxieties, all your worries, all your concerns, once and for all] on Him, for He cares for you affectionately and cares about you watchfully.” 1 Peter 5:7 AMP

God wants you to bring your cares right to the altar and drop it. Some translations of this scripture says “drop it and let it go.” I want to encourage you men, take the check book and drop it at the altar. I want you to drop your marriage… right at the altar. Whatever it is…at the altar.

I will hold you accountable…you can hold me too. Drop it…and let it go.

Recommended Reading: How Successful People Think – John Maxwell


The Problem with Change

The problem with change is that it is constant. Change is not something that stops happening in life. As a matter of fact, change will make sure that it will happen at the most inopportune time in the most unreasonable way. You get a flat tire on the way to work as you’re running late. You lose your job right as a baby is being born into the household. You get a promotion in a season where you are ready to move on. The list could go on and on. I love the old adage “the only thing that is for certain is death and taxes.” I think we could add in that; change. There are many people that have embraced change and there are a few that have denied change, but there’s no stopping it. Change is for certain. Change will happen. We either will embrace it or we will run away from it.

In Ecclesiastes, Solomon wrote in Chapter 3 that “for everything there is a season, a time for every activity under heaven. A time to be born and a time to die. A time to plant and a time to harvest. A time to kill and a time to heal. A time to tear down and a time to build. A time to cry and a time to laugh…” etc. Solomon recognized that in everything there is a season, there is a moment, there is a purpose, and there is a plan. There is always a time for something to be born and a time for something to die. Change is always in the air. Change is certain to happen. How do we combat change? Embrace it.


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