There is a cabinet in our laundry room, above the washer and dryer that has become the storage spot for a variety of miscellaneous items. Along with laundry detergent, you will find flashlights, packing tape, a collection of pens and a cup filled with keys that we have no earthly idea about anymore.
There is also a stack of notes I’ve received over the years from some of you, and from others. Notes and cards that you have sent my way telling me that you are praying for me and for our church, or commenting on a particular service or event. Notes that I have tucked away because they are too valuable to discard. Notes I occasionally pull out and re-read, to remind me that God is at work in our midst at Redeemer.
I know I’m not the only one with a collection of notes like that. I’ve toured workplaces before and seen the notes from a supervisor that end up pinned to a cubicle wall where they stay for years. I’ve seen shoeboxes stuffed with letters and notes that simply can’t be tossed out. I’ve seen the letters tucked inside of a book that will be in that same spot a decade from now.
The Bible talks about the power and value of an encouraging word. “A word fitly spoken,” the book of Proverbs says, “is like apples of gold in a setting of silver.” Valuable. Beautiful. Precious.
We are instructed in scripture to “encourage one another and build one another up” (1 Thessalonians 5:11). When someone is fainthearted, we are to encourage him or her (1 Thessalonians 5:14). God is even referred to as “the God of encouragement” (Romans 5:15).
The last two days I have been flooded with warm, encouraging words from friends, colleagues and radio listeners. As the end of my time with FamilyLife approaches, I’ve been receiving many apples of gold. The emails and notes have reminded me that it has always pleased God to use crooked sticks to draw straight lines.
I’ve also been reminded that most of us are completely unaware of the message our lives are communicating as people observe us. Each of our lives leaves a mark, an impact, on the people whose paths we cross. To the extent that we are acting from self interest, the mark we leave is likely to be a scar or a wound. But as we seek to live surrendered lives and to be channels of God’s grace to others, the marks we leave can be beautiful.
As the recipient of many kind words over the last few days, I am reminded that we give others a gift whenever we use our words to bless them and to encourage them. No one would accuse me of overdoing it when it comes to praising or affirming others. I ought not be so stingy. Instead, I should purpose to more regularly cheer others on. To speak words of encouragement and affirmation.
CAN YOU THINK OF 3 PEOPLE TODAY …
…who you could choose to bless with your words? People whose spirits might be lifted if they received an email or a note from you? Add that assignment to your to-do list today. Don’t let the sun go down until you’ve taken a few minutes to cheer someone on.
If you look carefully in your heart, you’ll find a storehouse of apples of gold in settings of silver, just waiting to be shared. Make it a priority today to pass along to someone you know a word fitly spoken. Choose words that will build up and give grace (Ephesians 4:29).
KICK OFF SUNDAY 8.29.21
Don’t forget that August 29 is the fall kick off day for our church. We have lots to discuss and lots planned for the fall and for next spring. I hope you’ll make it a priority to be in church that day.
TRIP TO ISRAEL – MAY 24 TO JUNE 2
I’ve been mentioning for a while now our upcoming plans for a trip to Israel. We’ll have a meeting very soon to go over details about the trip. But I can confirm a few things for you now. We will be leaving Little Rock for Tel Aviv on May 24. We’ll be arriving back in Little Rock on June 2. The cost for the trip will be $4,369 per person, based on double occupancy. That includes round trip airfare from Little Rock to Israel, along with all tour costs, tips, hotels, breakfasts and dinners, etc. The only additional costs will be for lunches and any souvenirs.
Again, there is more information coming soon. The tour requires a minimum of 20 people and has a maximum capacity for 48. I am personally very excited about the opportunity to experience Israel together with those of you who are able to come.
You would think that seeing a dead man walk out of a tomb would be all it would take for an unbeliever to be convinced that Jesus is who He claims to be and to respond with repentance and faith. But pride and unbelief run deep in the human heart, as we will see when we turn to John 11 this Sunday.
See you in church.
Soli Deo Gloria!