Monday, May 3, 2010

Challenge for Encouragement

Women of Faith

Today I write a challenge: I am fortunate that I know that this writing goes to “active” believers, so the challenge is to encourage us to MOVE not to do something for ourselves, but to do something for others! to quit being quiet complainers, observers and “to busy” and to start being active participants making a difference by being an encouragement for others.

Have you ever sat in a room and quietly “observed” all that was going on? Or around a table with a group of friends and thought “that’s a great idea,” and then went home and did nothing to further that idea.

I have had constant reminders this week that I am not just suppose to “observe” and “absorb” but that I am here to “participate” and “encourage.”

I know that there have been times when I have made an excuse for not helping someone that I knew could use my help. I know that at times it would be easy to make an excuse not to go to church this week. The excuses for these “inactions” are always the same: “too tired,” “too busy,” “out of town,” “boring,” I’m doing “something else” which “replaces” the called for action, “my friend knows I am here” or “I pray every day, so God knows I am here.”

I have had a friend or a sermon point out a weakness or shortcoming and realized weeks or months later that I have done nothing, that I am still in the same place, the same circumstance as I was before; that I still haven’t given Stan 5 extra minutes this day, called or visited my kids (or for those of you with kids at home played a game with them), exercised, lost any weight, helped out the person next door, or taken time to spend with a family member. Why is it that we tend to listen to our friends, hear a well intended message, and we simply “absorb and observe.”Is it because we are not “encouraged” to take action?

Who or what in your life “challenges” you to change yourself or your attitude? What is it about them that makes you want to change? Is it their words, reminders, affirmations, or their example? Who in your life needs you to be their encouragement and example?

This weekend we witnessed a wedding. We have also recently attended baptism, first communion and confirmation services. As a witness in these services we were called to “active participation.” Not to just watch these special occasions but to actively encourage, affirm and show our love of these young Christians in their new roles: as two who have become one with Him, as newly affirmed children of God (baptism), as members in full communion with the Body of Christ, and as the reaffirmed (confirmed) young adults in our churches.

Matthew Kelly in “The Rhythm of Life” suggests that when we attend a church service we should seek one (not several) “message” in the service that challenges us to become a better person. He suggests writing “this message” as a “goal” in a journal, as our “work” for the week, so that we will change our attitude and commitment to Jesus Christ during the following week. Do we write down our goals and encourage others to strive for their goals?

Family and friends shouldn’t be an obligation, a duty, but an opportunity to grow ourselves. Likewise church shouldn’t be a one hour obligation; it should be a one hour “opportunity.” God’s message calls for our service and love of others and worship of Him to be active and a search for continuous improvement and love. We are not supposed to be entertained by our friends, families or churches. We are supposed to participate with, actively show our love and give encouragement to our family, friends, and church families.

Unlike the other disciples, Barnabas believed in and affirmed Paul in his conversion in Acts 13:44-52. We too must also show our belief in God and our willingness to be his servant, by showing our love and affirmation of both the Christians and non Christians around us. “Both Paul and Barnabas spoke out boldly and said, “It was necessary that the word of God be spoken to you first, but since you reject it and condemn yourselves as unworthy of eternal life, we now turn to the Gentiles. For so the Lord has commanded us, I have made you a light to the Gentiles, that you may be an instrument of salvation to the ends of the earth.”

Dear God, Help me to be like Barnabas ready to encourage and support those who are seeking you in their lives. Make me always watchful of my “busyness,” that it is not an obligation, but an opportunity to encourage and serve. Thank you for constantly reminding me that I did not “create” my gifts, but that they are given to me by you, so that others may be fulfilled through you. Amen.

We have two challenges this week: to become active church and life participants, to not be just an “observer,” or a “duty filler," but to become active, participating “witnesses” by encouraging our family and friends to attend church not only when it’s convenient and not just to be entertained but by actively looking for the challenges issued by the gospels; and by becoming role models for young Christians, the newly confirmed and the newly married.

And secondly to respond to this weeks Gospel’s command: “love one another as I have loved you, so you should also love one another. This is how all will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” Jn 13:31-33a, 34-35

Blessings on your week,

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