Encourage Blog2023-04-28T16:33:25+00:00

Encourage-[en-kur-ij] to inspire with courage, spirit, or confidence.

The enCourage Blog is weekly dose of encouragement in a world that is often filled with bad news. We offer life-giving entries each Monday and Thursday written by gifted women from across our denomination, the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA). You can subscribe below to have them delivered to your inbox. With hundreds of blog pieces, you can search on a variety of topics in the search bar above to read and share with friends. Christina Fox, a gifted author, serves as our enCourage General Editor. If you are interested in submitting a piece, you can contact her at cfox@pcanet.org.

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Identifying Gospel-Centered Resources

BETHANY BELUE | CONTRIBUTOR A few years ago, I read a Christian book I heard recommended over various platforms. A podcaster said she couldn’t put it down. A friend at church shared wisdom she gleaned from it. A book reviewer classified it as “a must read.” When I opened the pages for the first time, I was expectant and excited. What I didn't expect was to disagree with so much of it. The principles felt more as if they were from the author's experiences than the Word of God. The practical applications only gave false hope.  There were chapters of the book that I did agree with and gained from, but I found that it was confusing to separate what was true from what wasn’t. As I reflected on this book, I began to think about why I chose to read it. I read it because I was influenced by the opinions of others and didn’t do my own research on the author or the content.   There are many books and resources available to us in the Christian community.  No matter the topic, there is a book or resource that will address it. While this can be a good thing, it is important that we be responsible to identify resources that are gospel-centered and in line with God’s Word. Since reading that book, the Lord has led me to be more thorough in examining what content I digest in my mind and heart, as well as what I recommend to others. There are five questions I have used to help guide me in choosing God-honoring books and resources.  Five Questions to Ask About Resources Is it gospel-centered? The message of the gospel is central to God’s Word.  “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast” (Eph 2:8-9).   There are many books and resources that talk about God, but do they point us to the gospel? Do they communicate salvation by grace alone through faith alone? Many books point to all the things we need to and should be doing to grow as Christians. While that is often helpful, we want to ensure we are being pointed back to God’s grace. If it doesn’t, we are left thinking that it’s all up to us. Our hope should be that we walk away with our eyes focused more on Jesus and less on ourselves...  

Gray Hair is a Crown of Glory

KIM BARNES | CONTRIBUTOR Recently, I got an email from a friend. She had heard through the grapevine that my husband had been briefly hospitalized. (He’s fine.) She wanted to let me know she was praying for us. I’ve known Doras for around 17 years and during those years, she has often sent emails letting me know that she’s praying for me, and I know that she reaches out to many this way. I don’t get to see Doras as often as I used to, but I did get to see her recently for a special occasion—her 100th birthday party! You read that correctly. I have a 100-year-old friend who prays for me and who communicates by email. I met Doras when my husband was called to be the pastor of her church. She was 83 years old and had been a widow for several years. Doras was quick to make sure she had my email address. I learned that while the church was without a pastor, 83-year-old Doras decided it would be a good idea to start an informal email newsletter to encourage the congregation and help everyone stay connected. On a regular basis, she would send emails that announced church events, shared prayer requests, and offered encouragement to gather for worship. She forwarded prayer letters sent out by our missionaries and if a member of our church wanted to get the word out about anything, they needed only to send an email to Doras. For the next twelve years, while my husband served as pastor of Doras’s church, I could count on regular emails that encouraged, informed, and blessed me...

Covenantal Promises for the Eternity of Our Children

BARBARANNE KELLY | CONTRIBUTOR It’s always an occasion of joy when on a Sunday morning one of the families in our church brings their child (or children) for baptism, or when children of the church are admitted to the Lord’s Table. Though these sacraments reflect the sacred rites of an ancient people, separated from us by millennia, language, and geographic location, they hold deep significance for our church communities and the people in our pews today. When a child is baptized or when we take the Lord’s Supper, these are more than mere rituals and sweet traditions. The meaning behind them and the covenant promises they hold are an opportunity for reflection and remembrance for me as an individual, and for our whole congregation. When God called Abraham into a covenant relationship with himself, he gave him the covenant sign of circumcision as a means of setting his family apart from the rest of the world and marking them as his own. The sign wasn’t a condition of belonging to the covenant people, but an indication that those so marked already belonged to the people of God. Over four hundred years later, God instituted the Passover through Moses. This too was a family-wide ceremony, a feast to remember the deliverance of the Lord. Those households sheltered under the blood of the lamb were “passed over” when the Lord visited his judgment of death upon the firstborn in Egypt. Circumcision and the Passover both required the shedding of blood, pointing forward to the blood of Christ shed upon the cross for the full and final cleansing and deliverance from sin and death for all those who belong to him by grace through faith. Both of these covenant ceremonies were to be kept “throughout the generations” of the people of God, “for an everlasting covenant” (Gen. 17:7; Ex. 12:17). Yet though the covenant remains, in the New Covenant era, since our Lord Jesus has fulfilled the Old Covenant, the signs have necessarily changed. Bloodshed is no longer required. Instead, circumcision has been replaced with water baptism[1] (Col. 2:11–12). And our Lord Jesus instituted the Lord’s Supper of bread and wine—the cup of the new covenant in his blood, to be done in remembrance of him—to replace the killing of a lamb for the Passover ceremony (Luke 22:18–20)...

Find Refuge in God

SHARON ROCKWELL | CONTRIBUTOR We were standing in a circle in the dark of night. In this heavily forested area, our group was being led by a well-known ornithologist who for over 50 years has been tracking owls locally, banding them and recording information to learn more about their habits. We patiently waited for the birds to be caught in mist nets. The nets did not hurt the birds. Those caught were examined, weighed, and banded. Sexing owls in the wild can be difficult, so the ornithologist positioned each owl feet up and blew gently against the lower feathers. In many cases, the feathers would give indication of being broken or damaged, and in a circular pattern, a sign that the female had been nesting. Baby owls had recently taken refuge under those feathers. God created mother owls to protect her “owlets” from nature’s harm and predators by hiding them close to her body, providing refuge and as well shielding them from any evil one who would deliberately lay a trap to snare them. What a picture of how God provides refuge for us! Psalm 91:1-6 comes to mind: He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High    will abide in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say to the Lord, “My refuge and my fortress,    my God, in whom I trust.” For he will deliver you from the snare of the fowler    and from the deadly pestilence. He will cover you with his pinions,    and under his wings you will find refuge;    his faithfulness is a shield and buckler. You will not fear the terror of the night,    nor the arrow that flies by day, nor the pestilence that stalks in darkness,    nor the destruction that wastes at noonday...

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