The Power of Encouragement

Walking in His Footsteps with Myles Hanson

I had some AMAZING interviews on Monday night with two dear friends: Gerrylynn Ferguson & Myles Hanson!

The first hour, I enjoyed a conversation on the POWER of Encouragement with Myles Tails Hanson (especially relevant for the young, young at heart, and those with kids or grandkids):

Do you love the next generation?
Do you long to see them fulfill their full potential in Christ?

What have you found helpful in connecting with your kids or grandkids?

THIS Monday, Oct. 26, 7-9 PM Central Time, I’ll have Tom & Sue Rice of Great Marriages for Sheboygan County, sharing their wisdom and experience from 50 years of a joyful marriage!

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is tom-sue-wedding-photo.png
Tom & Sue Rice on their wedding day (a few years ago) — I’m sure it feels like yesterday! 🙂 


Tune in live at Praydio.com!

You can catch videos of past episodes here:

Where Each Story Leads…

Over the past weeks of the COVID-19 pandemic, we’ve shared a series of messages through the inspiring stories retold in Hebrews 11 called Incredible Faith.

Here’s the capstone message…

We revisit these messages from past weeks and the central theme behind each…

~Incredible Faith is Something I’ve Never Done Before.

~Seeking the Father Heart of God

~Incredible Faith: Noah

~Incredible Faith: Abraham & Sarah

~Incredible Faith: Joseph

~Incredible Faith: Moses

It all points to a powerful truth nestled in Hebrews 12:1-2

Photo by Bianca G. on Pexels.com

-What joy propels you? 

-What risk is before you?

Incredible Faith – Moses

In the life of Moses, we discover that we are called to live by faith, having the courage to…

  1. Follow the unseen plan of God (Hebrews 11:23).
  2. Identify with the people of God (vv. 24-25).
  3.  Embrace the mission of Christ (vv. 26-27). 
  4. Celebrate deliverance before it comes (v. 28).
  5.  Step out in obedience (v. 29). 
Photo by Mat Reding on Pexels.com

Incredible Faith – Joseph

If you had to pick one thing that stands out to you from the life of Joseph, what would it be?

In Hebrews 11:22, the Holy Spirit highlights one thing… one defining scene from the life of this hero of the faith. Before you look it up or listen to the message below, what do you think it is?

Hint: it may not be what you expected!

Did your Joseph highlight reel match what Hebrews 11 underscores?

Did “his bones” even make your top ten list?

What will you leave as your legacy for future generations?

Photo by Andreas Fickl on Pexels.com

“Go!” said the LORD.

I started this message on the incredible faith of Abraham & Sarah from Hebrews 11:8-19 with a retelling of Genesis 12:1-4 and 15:3-6.

In what ways does the faith journey of Abraham & Sarah encourage you?

Which parts challenge you?

What is your “I will…” (your next step to “go”)?

Who will you share with what you discovered?

“Abraham, Abraham…” said the LORD.

“LORD, is that You?” Abraham asked.

“Yes, My child,” He responded tenderly. “I have something I want to say to you.”

With eagerness, Abraham shot back, Well, speak, LORD! I’m listening. I will do whatever You say and go wherever You ask me to go!”

“I know, Abraham. That’s why I’m calling you today. I have put that faith in your heart, so you will trust Me wherever I send you,” He said.

Bubbling over with excitement: “Thank You, LORD! Praise You, LORD! I do trust You. I love You. Thank You for speaking to me and thank You for calling me and thank You for loving me and…”

“ABRAHAM. Abraham,” His strong voice echoed.  “I am calling you… to leave your home country, the people you know, the land you’re accustomed to, even your father’s family – and go!”

“Go? LORD, go where?” the man of faith wondered.

The firm and loving One replied: “Go… to the land I will show you.”

Shaking but believing, His son said, “Go… Okay, go. And You will show me where to go. What should I do in this new land where You are sending me?”

Abraham, do you trust Me?”

Yes, LORD! I trust You with all of my heart,” Abraham immediately responded.

“Abraham, I’ll show you what you must do in this new land,” the ever-gracious One said.

Again thinking out loud as he wondered: “What about my wife?”

“Bring your wife with you of course,” the compassionate Father said.

Abraham processed aloud, “When we go to this new land that You will show us and we do what you will tell us to do, what will happen to us?”

“Abraham, do you trust Me?”

Abraham said, “Yes, LORD! I trust You with all I am. And then some… I trust You, because You have taught me and You help me to trust You!”

The LORD promised, “Abraham, I will make you into a great nation, and I will bless you. I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and whoever speaks against you I will curse. And all peoples on earth will be blessed through you. I am going to send the Savior through your family.”

“LORD, I trust You,” the man of God confessed.  “I believe what You say is true. At the same time, You have given me no children, and I am already an old man. My body is as good as dead.”

“Abraham, do you trust Me?”

“Yes, LORD! Oh, I trust You,” Abraham said from the deepest part of his being.  “You are God, and You can be fully trusted always. Everything You do is good, and everything You say is true and right.”

With a gentle hand, the LORD lifted his son’s gaze heavenward: “Abraham, look up and count the stars. If you can…” He said with a love-laced chuckle.  “This is how many children your family will have. Every person who believes in My Messiah will join your family of faith. Because you believe, you are right with Me, and we are close friends.”

“LORD, let’s go,” His son Abraham responded, exploding with anticipation.  “I will listen. I will follow You. I will… Wherever You lead, let’s go together.”

“Yes, Abraham, I will be with you every step of the way. I will always keep My promises to you – no matter what happens. I will speak to you, and you will follow Me. And you will speak My words to others. Let’s go,” said the LORD. “For I will be with you.”

(A retelling of Genesis 12:1-4 and 15:3-6)

The dangers of becoming a "professional" Christian

Yesterday was my sabbath, the day I chose this week to rest from everything that feels like work and to refocus on the LORD.  Because I have the privilege of serving full-time with our church, I work on Sundays.  Though it’s usually a blessed day, it’s far from a rest day.  So this week, I chose Saturday to sabbath.

As I drove to the grocery store on my chosen day of rest, I saw two young men on the sidewalk, dancing as they walked to the beat booming from a cell phone that one held (their version of a “boom box on your shoulder,” I suppose).

I heard a whisper, “Tell them about the destiny I have for their lives. Call out the treasure I’ve deposited in them. Invite them to use the gifts I’ve given them for Me.”

I smiled and waved as I drove by.  I did this so quickly, I didn’t see if they even noticed.

“Hmm… not exactly what I had in mind,” Holy Spirit whispered.  I drove on.

Down a busy road, I saw a minivan parked in an industrial lot with kids peeking out the open doors.

Two adults stood outside with a sign: “Help us get home. God bless”

The whisper: “Stop. Hear about their need. Bring a taste of My Kingdom.”

Wonderings of a calloused heart: “Scammers who go from city to city? A family truly in need? I’ll stop to find out, if they’re still there when I get back from grocery shopping. After all, it’s my sabbath.”

I never found out, as they were gone by the time I drove home.  I even excused myself, thinking: I would’ve stopped if I’d had a friend with me.  I sensed a sadness in my heart but shook it off to continue on with my sabbath observance.

Today, as I drove from the church building to the beach for our student event, I passed a worn-down house with a woman standing outside in the sun wearing a thick hoody and jeans.  The temp was in the high 80s.  Her face looked, in a word: “hopeless.”  I didn’t have a full word of encouragement to deliver to her, but I was prompted to stop and had one word: “HOPE.”

Was that her name?  Was that what she needed to hear?

I slowed down as I drove by.  While I stalled like a child delaying bedtime, she began walking toward a side door and entered the house.  I deliberated turning around to knock and share some “hope.”  I didn’t.

At our beach event, the sister who shared an anointed message spoke on stepping out in faith and listening to the Holy Spirit, allowing Him to work through us to speak to and touch others.  Ouch… “I’m listening, LORD.”

I returned to that house after the beach.  When I knocked, I learned firsthand the importance of timely, immediate obedience.

A man gruffly asked, “What do you want?”

“This might seem out of the ordinary, but I felt God…”

“Not interested.”

I didn’t get to see the lady who needed hope.

Holy Spirit, draw her nearer to Jesus and bring other Christ followers into her life who will share Your hope!

Jesus worked miracles on the sabbath, and it triggered the religious crowd (Matthew 12:9-14).  He didn’t stop to touch everyone or fix every problem.  But He did stop every time His Father asked Him to (John 5:19).  No matter what day it was.

Followers of Jesus do need regular rest (Mark 2:27-28).  But, we take no break from obeying Abba, from following the promptings of His Spirit.

Following Jesus is not my “job.”  I refuse to become a “professional” Christian.  If you minister to others for your livelihood, you might be tempted to think of your service as your source and yourself as a professional.

I am not a “professional” Christian, however.  It is not my day job to follow Jesus.  It is not even my duty.  It is my honor and privilege.  He died for me.  I live for Him.

“Jesus paid it all. All to Him I owe.”

I willingly choose, in response to His love, to live for Him.

I need to repent.

I am not a 9-to-5, punch-in/punch-out “Christian.”  I live on mission.

I am not part of the religious crowd.  I live in relationship with Holy Spirit.

I am not a duty and obligation, “have to” kind of guy.  I get to serve the most wonderful Master!  Living for His glory is my joy!

I’ve learned recently from a friend that repentance is much more than feeling sorrow over my sin or even just asking for forgiveness.

In Acts 26:18, Paul retells the mission that Jesus gave him:
“…to open their eyes and turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, so that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in Me.”

Paul says he obeyed this calling by preaching “that they should repent and turn to God and demonstrate their repentance by their deeds” (v. 20).

All the facets of verse 18 fulfilled in preaching repentance!

Peter shared that repentance brings times of refreshing from the Presence of the Lord (Acts 3:19).

I’ve discovered: repentance is turning from sin to face Abba, declaring, “This old pattern is not who I am. I embrace You! I believe what You say about me is true!”

We are called to live lives of repentance.  We are ambassadors of His Kingdom, ministers of reconciliation, those who run with the good news of His love!

Lord Jesus, tenderize my heart.  You died and rose again, so we can live in relationship with You, be filled with Your Spirit, and demonstrate the reality of Your resurrection.  You rose from the dead and so nothing is impossible for You!

I am a student, a learner, an obedient follower, walking in the footsteps of my Master, led by His Spirit.  I rest: daily and weekly.  I can’t fix everything.  I’m not the savior or messiah.  But I do know Him.  And I follow Him.  What He says goes.  As a disciple of Jesus, I will obey Him without question or hesitation.  I love Him, and I trust His heart that much.

I am not a “professional” Christian.  I am following Jesus.  How about you?

 

"Go!" said the LORD.

“Abraham, Abraham…” said the LORD.

“LORD, is that You?” Abraham asked.

“Yes, My child,” He responded tenderly. “I have something I want to say to you.”

With eagerness, Abraham shot back, Well, speak, LORD! I’m listening. I will do whatever You say and go wherever You ask me to go!”

“I know, Abraham. That’s why I’m calling you today. I have put that faith in your heart, so you will trust Me wherever I send you,” He said.

Bubbling over with excitement: “Thank You, LORD! Praise You, LORD! I do trust You. I love You. Thank You for speaking to me and thank You for calling me and thank You for loving me and…”

“ABRAHAM. Abraham,” His strong voice echoed.  “I am calling you… to leave your home country, the people you know, the land you’re accustomed to, even your father’s family – and go!”

“Go? LORD, go where?” the man of faith wondered.

The firm and loving One replied: “Go… to the land I will show you.”

Shaking but believing, His son said, “Go… Okay, go. And You will show me where to go. What should I do in this new land where You are sending me?”

Abraham, do you trust Me?”

Yes, LORD! I trust You with all of my heart,” Abraham immediately responded.

“Abraham, I’ll show you what you must do in this new land,” the ever-gracious One said.

Again thinking out loud as he wondered: “What about my wife?”

“Bring your wife with you of course,” the compassionate Father said.

Abraham processed aloud, “When we go to this new land that You will show us and we do what you will tell us to do, what will happen to us?”

“Abraham, do you trust Me?”

Abraham said, “Yes, LORD! I trust You with all I am. And then some… I trust You, because You have taught me and You help me to trust You!”

The LORD promised, “Abraham, I will make you into a great nation, and I will bless you. I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and whoever speaks against you I will curse. And all peoples on earth will be blessed through you. I am going to send the Savior through your family.”

“LORD, I trust You,” the man of God confessed.  “I believe what You say is true. At the same time, You have given me no children, and I am already an old man. My body is as good as dead.”

“Abraham, do you trust Me?”

“Yes, LORD! Oh, I trust You,” Abraham said from the deepest part of his being.  “You are God, and You can be fully trusted always. Everything You do is good, and everything You say is true and right.”

With a gentle hand, the LORD lifted his son’s gaze heavenward: “Abraham, look up and count the stars. If you can…” He said with a love-laced chuckle.  “This is how many children your family will have. Every person who believes in My Messiah will join your family of faith. Because you believe, you are right with Me, and we are close friends.”

“LORD, let’s go,” His son Abraham responded, exploding with anticipation.  “I will listen. I will follow You. I will… Wherever You lead, let’s go together.”

“Yes, Abraham, I will be with you every step of the way. I will always keep My promises to you – no matter what happens. I will speak to you, and you will follow Me. And you will speak My words to others. Let’s go,” said the LORD. “For I will be with you.”

(A retelling of Genesis 12:1-4 and 15:3-6)