Category Archives: Encouragement

Addicted to approval

I am working my way through an encouraging book, Replenish: Leading From a Healthy Soul, by Lance Witt. In a chapter entitled, “Approval Addiction,” he made a statement that I am all too familiar with.

It has been said that for those of us in ministry, compliments are written in sand, but criticism is written in wet cement. That has certainly been true for me. I have carried disapproval deeply, and it takes a long time to wear off. As a result, you can end up working hard at being a diplomat and constantly sharpening your people skills to minimize criticism.

While that has certainly been my experience, I have attempted to counteract that tendency but saving every encouraging comment and note I receive. I have four notebooks with all the notes I have received over 33 years of ministry. Perhaps I should go back and reread a few of them. That might help firm up the compliments and soften some of the criticisms.

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Posted by on May 9, 2019 in Encouragement, Quotes


Wednesday afternoons will never be the same

On Monday, I lost one of the more encouraging people in my life. Jackie Tisdale was a godly woman who loved Jesus and was not shy in talking about him. Some time that day, she stepped out of this life and into the presence of her Savior. Her departure was sudden and unexpected. She was so very much alive when I chatted with her on Saturday at our Senior Saints luncheon and on Sunday when she was at her post at the Welcome Desk at church.

On February 3, I preached a sermon on “The Three Chairs” which looks at how faith is not always passed on from one generation to the next. Each one of us needs to be a “first chair” follower and to have a firsthand experience of God rather than second hand knowledge. At the conclusion, I challenged the congregation to recommit themselves to following Christ. Jackie told me she recommitted herself to staying in the first chair.

On Wednesday afternoons, Jackie attended our Seniors Alive program. She would always stop by my office to say “Hello” and to chat. On the first Wednesday of the month, she would come into my office, lay hands on me, and pray for me. (Some people say they pray for you, and some people PRAY for you.)

A few weeks ago, Jackie told me that she never had a relationship like this with a pastor. After a previous pastor fell morally, she realized she needed to pray for her pastor. So she decided to adopt my wife and me and to diligently pray for us.

Wednesday afternoons will never be the same. I will miss her presence, her laughter, her joy, her love for Jesus, and her prayer support.

Thank you, Jesus, for Jackie and her godly encouragement. I look forward to seeing her again in heaven.


Posted by on February 20, 2019 in Encouragement, First Central Bible Church, Prayer


Encourage One Another

Last week I received one of the most encouraging notes I have ever received. It came from someone whom I’ve never met, but who apparently has been aware of my ministry for some time. The writer mentioned an article I wrote and published in the late 90’s that they found helpful and were going to share with some folks in their network. The person talked about some work I had done twenty years that was still bearing fruit. The individual thanked me for my ministry and said my labor was not in vain. It was so encouraging.

It prompted me to think of the instruction in Hebrews to “encourage one another.”

Hebrews 3:13—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.

 Hebrews 10:24–25—And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.

Since I was invited to speak to our senior saints monthly luncheon, I decided to share my experience and encourage them to take on the role being encouragers. I gave them a copy of the chart below that is adapted from Walk Thru the Bible’s 7 Laws of the Learner: The Law of Expectation.

Consider—We need to be students of each other, intently analyzing and paying attention to each other’s needs. Since the goal or end result of encouragement is to either challenge the individual to greater service or to prevent them from being deceived and disillusioned, we need to know which direction they need to go in. This process of considering or examining another person takes place internally. It is private and the other person should not know that you are doing it. In addition, it should be done constantly.

Encourage/Exhort—After we consider the group or individual, we can then begin to encourage them. It is important that we form an accurate appraisal of their need so that we can tailor our encouragement/exhortation to best fit their circumstance. Perhaps they merely need comfort and consolation, or a listening ear, a hug, or perhaps a soft, gentle voice telling them we understand and hurt with them or encouraging them to go on. Maybe they need someone to exhort, challenge, and contend with them until they come to repentance. This needs to be done on a daily basis. It is to be the habitual practice of our lives. Rather than being private and internal like examination, encouragement is to be spoken publicly and done externally. It can take the form of a one-on-one conversation or meeting, or a card or letter sent in the mail.

Stir Up—Like a jockey going to the whip to encourage his mount on to victory in the Kentucky Derby, this part of the process takes place privately or internally in the other person as they become excited, stirred up, or spurred on. Rather than assume that “one size fits all,” I need to tailor my encouragement to the individual’s needs, personality, and circumstance. Once again, that entails doing an accurate job of considering the person, of being a student of them and their needs.

Goal—The positive goal suggested in Hebrews 10:24 is the growth of love and good deeds. The negative goal listed in Hebrews 3:13 is the prevention of a callused heart.

In a world of negative, cynical, complaining people, become an encourager. In light of the fact that Jesus Christ is coming back soon, encourage one another. Let it become your daily habit.


New England adjectives

After preaching on Sunday, a person commented, “Your sermon was wicked good.” Only in New England can the word “wicked” can be used as a compliment for a sermon. 😉

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Posted by on December 3, 2018 in Encouragement, Fun, Preaching


Preaching that Connects

Preachers must know the Scriptures and their audience. They must know what they are saying and whom they are saying it to. That is the advice and counsel I received in seminary classes, books, and preaching workshops.

“Have you been following me around? How did you know I needed to hear your message today?” “Have you been stalking me? What you said today spoke to my heart.” Comments like these encourage me that I must be doing something right and that the Scriptures are touching people where they live.

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Posted by on November 30, 2018 in Encouragement, Preaching


It’s nice to be appreciated, pt. 2

I received the following note this afternoon from the Alumni Department of Dallas Theological Seminary.

All we want to say is “Thanks!”

For the long days…Thanks.
For your sacrifice of time…Thanks.
For tenderly encouraging grieving families during times of loss… Thanks.
For the hours of prep…Thanks.
For your outreach efforts at reaching your community… Thanks.
For taking hits when it isn’t your fault…Thanks.
For the difficulty ministry puts on your family…Thanks!
For shepherding…Thanks.
For caring…Thanks.
For loving…Thanks!
For the eternal difference you’ve made for God’s Kingdom…Thanks!

You are appreciated more than just one month!

Your Partner in Ministry

Needless to say, I was encouraged.


Posted by on October 23, 2018 in Dallas Theological Seminary, Encouragement


It’s nice to be appreciated

I discovered a stack of cards on my desk this morning from the children in our Sunday School ministry.

What an encouraging way to start the day!