- Visitors by Dan
- Church Building Evangelism
by Dan Jenkins
from reader to articles above
- Before You Judge
a Congregation as Unfriendly... by Pat Gates
Congregation is Unfriendly" by Pat Gates
- "Come join us! We have unfriendly,
cantankerous soreheads!" by Pat Gates
- The Characteristics and Danger of An Unfriendly Congregation
by Pat Gates
- The Characteristics
and Blessings of a Friendly Congregation by Pat Gates
Articles on this page:
- Encouragement by Gary Henry
- Compassion (poem) by
Robert William Service
- It Shouldn't Be This Way by Marsha Norris
- Numbers 5-6 by David Maxson
- Heart Prints (poem)
is oxygen to the soul” (George Matthew Adams).
WHO COULD SURVIVE WITHOUT
SOME ENCOURAGEMENT? Not many of us, probably. There may be the hermit here and there who’s so self-motivated that the
encouragement of other human beings is not needed, but most of us mortals need to know, at least now and then, that somebody
sees something in us that’s worth affirming, supporting, and nurturing. The soul needs its own “oxygen.”
When we look back, most of us can see periods of remarkable growth in our lives that resulted from
someone’s encouragement. That being true, you’d think we’d offer this gift to other people every time we
had the opportunity. Unfortunately, when encouragement is called for, we often substitute criticism, as if that were the primary
stimulant of growth. It’s a fact that constructive criticism is sometimes the thing that’s needed, and the friend
who won’t tell us the truth when we need to hear it, is not really our friend. But we often get the proportion wrong.
Our encouragement of others ought to outweigh our criticism by at least five-to-one. For every thing that needs to be DIS-couraged,
we ought to look for four or five things that truly can be EN-couraged. “Correction does much, but encouragement does
Someone has said that “the small change of human happiness
lies in the unexpected friendly word.” I have a hunch that the “unexpected friendly word” might be a more
powerful boost to our happiness than all the planned and premeditated encouragement in the world. Who among us hasn’t
had a bad day transformed by someone’s casual good word, completely unexpected and therefore all the more encouraging?
Encouragement is an act of hope, an investment in the future. To encourage someone is to make a statement
concerning their potential; it says, “I believe in what you can be.” Encouragement plants seeds that can grow
and bear fruit. When we encourage, we keep hope alive.
When we see what other
people need, we’re often struck by a sense of helplessness. Much of the time, what is needed consists of things that
we can’t provide. BUT ENCOURAGEMENT IS SOMETHING WE CAN ALWAYS PROVIDE! It’s the most doable thing in the world.
It doesn’t take genius and it doesn’t take wealth. It only takes a caring heart.
us therefore animate and encourage one another . . .” (George Washington).
A beggar in the street I saw,
Who held a hand like withered claw,
As cold as clay;
But as I had no silver groat
To give, I buttoned up my coat
And turned away.
And then I watched
a working wife
Who bore the bitter load of life
With lagging limb;
A penny from her purse she took,
And with sweet pity in her look
Gave it to him.
Anon I spied a shabby dame
Who fed six sparrows
as they came
In famished flight;
She was so poor and frail and old,
Yet crumbs of her last crust she
With pure delight.
Then sudden in my heart was born
For my sleek self a savage scorn,--
Urge to atone;
So when a starving cur I saw
I bandaged up its bleeding paw
And bought a
For God knows it is good to give;
We may not have so long to live,
So if we can,
do each day a kindly deed,
And stretch a hand to those in need,
Bird, beast or man.
Robert William Service
Be This Way…
“Pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father is this:
to visit orphans and widows in their affliction and to keep oneself unstained from the world.” –James 1:27
It wouldn’t be much longer. Miss Annie was skin and bones, spending her days curled up in fetal position on
the bed. She hadn’t kept food down for two weeks, and for the past week hadn’t been able to keep water down. Her
voice now was only a faint whisper; she communicated by holding and squeezing my hand.
Annie had blessed my life since she moved here six-and-a-half years ago. At 97 years, she had led a hard and colorful life;
and until last summer was still alert and able to get around with a cane. Annie rarely missed more than one or two Sunday
morning services a year or the Tuesday gathering of the “card ladies,” a group of sisters at church who
met weekly at my husband’s coffee house to write cards of encouragement. Annie was our matriarch. Though she claimed
her handwriting too shaky to sign cards, she diligently sealed, stamped, and attached the return address labels to the envelopes.
When she felt we were talking too much and not properly focusing on our task, she’d dramatically sigh and lay her head
down on her crossed arms. No one was offended. At 97 you can pull such shenanigans and get away with it.
Last July when my husband closed his coffee house, Miss Annie seemed to close up shop too. She said we’d no
longer need to pick her up for services on Sundays or cards on Tuesdays, because she’d no longer leave her house unless
with her son, who lived around the corner. She said she was worn out, tired of living, and would just stay home.
From that point on she declined, and by the end of September was in an assisted-living home. In the beginning when
I visited, she’d be sitting in a recliner. I’d pull up a chair next to her and we’d laugh, joke, and reminisce
about times past. Often I’d get a glimpse of her feisty spirit or see a twinkle in her eye. But as weeks passed and
she became frailer, she took to her bed. Each time I visited, her form beneath the quilt was smaller. She was literally wasting
Several days before she went to be with Jesus,
while I was sitting on the bed next to her holding her hands, she whispered, “Pray for me, pray for me!” I prayed
over her but I’m not sure she heard as she continued to beg me to pray. I prayed again. I prayed for her gentle passing
and for her to feel the comfort of God’s arms. When I finished she covered her eyes with her hands and wept. Oh my dear
precious Annie! It shouldn’t be this way. I know you’re ready to go to Heaven as you’ve told me that so
many times. But I hate that you’ve had to spend your last few months here amongst strangers. I hate that so few of your
spiritual family have taken the time to come see you, to comfort you, to hold your hand and to tell you they love you. Your
own family-in-Christ has neglected you. I’m so sorry sweet Annie!
Four days later
Annie passed on. Several of her “card sisters” and I had visited her earlier that day. She knew we were there,
but she was too weak to squeeze our hands. Several hours after we left her son arrived. She had already slipped into a comma;
she went to be with Jesus at midnight.
I don’t think, even in the Lord’s
church, we’re very good at living James 1:27. As I told a sister-in-Christ after Annie died, we have time to do the
“fun things,” our own agendas, etc., but visiting an aged widow who is dying just doesn’t seem to make our
bucket list. Maybe that’s the reason God gave us James 1:27.
I pray when you
have a Miss Annie in your midst, that you will not be too busy, too uncaring, too self-absorbed, or too distracted to visit,
love, and comfort her. Someday the Miss Annie in the assisted-living home just might be you.
Be blessed….and pray do … go and be a blessing!
The LORD spoke to Moses, saying, "Speak to Aaron and his sons, saying, 'Thus you shall bless the people of Israel:
you shall say to them,
The LORD bless you and keep you;
LORD make his face to shine upon you
and be gracious to you;
the LORD lift up his countenance upon you
and give you peace.'"
I'm not sure I've ever heard this blessing used as a model for
prayer, but it should be. God specifically gave Aaron words to say when blessing the people. There are three blessings included
in this prayer:
"The LORD bless you and keep you." God desires to bless His children and to protect
them from harm. He is eager to shower blessings upon us and to uphold us in the storms of life.
make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you." The face of God shining on us is associated with salvation in
the Bible (Psa 31:16; 80:3). When God hides his face from us means He is angry with us and we will be punished (Deut
31:17-18). The idea of God's face shining suggests we see the glory of God and that His glory finds pleasure in us (which
may lead into the third blessing).
"The LORD lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace." When
God's face shines upon us and he lifts his countenance upon us (really parallel thoughts), the result is we have grace and
As a priest of God, is there someone for whom you should pray this blessing?
pray You would bless (insert name) and keep (insert name), that You would shine Your face and lift Your countenance upon
(insert name) and grant them grace and peace.
Whatever our hands touch
We leave fingerprints!
On walls, on furniture,
As we touch we leave our identity.
Oh, Lord, please
wherever I go today,
Help me to leave heart prints!
Heart prints of compassion,
And of understanding and
Heart prints of kindness,
And genuine concern.
heart touch a lonely neighbor,
Or a runaway daughter,
Or an anxious mother,
Or, perhaps, a dear friend!
I shall go out today
To leave heart prints,
And if someone should say
“I felt your touch,”
May that one sense be…
YOUR LOVE, LORD
Touching through ME.