• the action of giving someone support, confidence, or hope
        “thank you for all your support and encouragement”

It’s one of my favourite words in the English language. In fact, it’s been a guiding principle of my life to speak to others in a way that conveys encouragement. My motto is to “build believers by the Book.” Building believers, in part, means encouraging them. As a pastor-teacher I’ve made it my goal to speak truth redemptively, that is, always with a mixture of encouragement. People can swallow the hard facts of the Bible if they are spoken with a dose of encouragement.

Leaders in every realm of life still fall prey to the trap of threatening and bullying their constituents into cooperation. From parents to politicians, from pastors to parishioners, we are more apt to follow the path of the least productive motivation of them all, guilt and fear. Words can be forged into a weapon to threaten people or they can be molded into an instrument to re-build their confidence.

I’m especially thankful for the example of the early apostles, in whose faith tradition we Christians follow. They were fearless defenders of the truth in Jesus but they never resorted to coercion and manipulation. They had spines of titanium but hearts as tender as Jesus Himself. In fact, we could summarize the New Testament as an encouragement manual. Words of hope and strength fall off every page of the New Testament. That’s why Paul told the church at Thessalonica to “encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.” (1Thessalonians 5:11)

Their source and example of encouragement was Jesus Himself. (Philippians 2) So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind.”

The greatest source of encouragement that the human heart can access is Jesus. He will download all the strength and hope and confidence that you need to get through these trying days and any other struggle that you will ever face. Imagine being plugged into THE source of personal encouragement, every day and at all times!

Reading your Bible is another source of fresh encouragement. It offers as much as you will ever need! Romans 15 says: For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope. May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus, that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God.”

The Church is meant to be a repository of continual encouragement where every believer is built up in faith and strengthened in hope.

Church family! Be encouraged in the Lord and be encouraging for the Lord.


Pastor Deric

The Bible as a Mirror

One of the many things that I love about the Bible is that it interprets our lives prophetically. In fact, I suspect that is one of the reasons that the Bible is both hated and loved. When people read it, they see images of themselves clearly portrayed. It’s no accident that the Bible calls itself a “mirror.” (see James 1:23) So much emphasis is placed in Christian circles on learning the correct methods of Bible interpretation. I wish there was a greater emphasis on how the Bible accurately and thoroughly interprets us.
Pay attention to the images that come to your mind when you read the Bible. It’s one of the ways that the Holy Spirit will reveal truth to you. Truth that will “set you free.” That’s what happened to me a few weeks back when I came across a passage in which Paul describes his true feelings about the church in Thessalonica. I actually blogged about it at the time but feel the need to revisit the text from a different angle.
1 Thessalonians 2:
“But since we were torn away from you, brothers, for a short time,
in person not in heart, we endeavored the more eagerly and with great desire
to see you face to face, because we wanted to come to you—I, Paul, again and again—
but Satan hindered us. For what is our hope or joy or crown of boasting
before our Lord Jesus at his coming? Is it not you? For you are our glory and joy.”
Paul said that he was feeling “torn.” Most of us are feeling that way about not being free to gather at the church house to worship our great God. We are feeling “torn” between the science that seems to be telling us one thing and the theology that tells us another. Unfortunately, we are suffering a lot of clashes between the two.
But we pray that it is only “for a short time” as Paul told his church family. We are discovering the phenomena that a relatively short “lockdown” feels much longer than it actually is. But this too shall pass. Patience is a virtue.
It’s helpful for me to acknowledge but not obsess over the fact that we can’t be as physically close to one another as we desire right now. Change your focus to thank God every day that your – “heart connection” – as Paul calls it, remains true and strong as ever. We may be restrained for the time being, but our love for each other is only deepening in the forced separation.
The spiritual community was so strong in Paul’s thinking that Satan himself could not interrupt the love that God’s people have for one another. Nor could Satan’s hindering dull the anticipation of the second coming of Jesus Christ. As a means of encouraging the saints in circumstances that are difficult to bear, he reminds them of the one great event that produces hope and peace for the Christian. This could be one of the greatest benefits to the pandemic. We, the Church, recover the deep conviction that Jesus is returning just as He said, and we will be ready.
Waiting with you, church family,
Pastor Deric