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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Social Media and the Search for More

SHEA PATRICK | CONTRIBUTOR One of my boys made a new friend at camp this summer, and they stayed in touch by text after they got home. I noticed something concerning when I looked at his phone: he misrepresented himself to this girl. Sometimes, he lied about things he had accomplished and places he had been, but mostly, he made himself out to be more than he is. Connecting with peers is an important part of adolescent development. Yet, it is complicated by the fact that teens are still learning who they are—not to mention the additional challenge of communication mediated through a device. One of the greatest challenges in our day is when our devices become the medium by which we look for identity. This isn’t merely a challenge for teens alone. I find myself doing that through my social media accounts as well. My son and I both use our phones to look for more or to even BE more. For example, I will post something to my account (mostly about my family) and check back frequently to see how many likes and comments that my post has received. Each thumbs up gives me a hit of dopamine that I end up chasing, wanting even more. When no one responds, I feel ignored. It becomes a vicious cycle of always needing more. Make no mistake, we use social media to receive more: more significance, more validation, more attention. Using social media this way ignores the fact that what it provides is not real, such as those carefully curated posts that only show people at their best moments or posts airing dirty laundry (sometimes literally!)—all in the attempts of receiving more likes and follows....

Discerning God’s Will

BETHANY BELUE | CONTRIBUTOR The summer I graduated from high school, my mom gave me a small package to open. It was a season of many changes and new beginnings that felt big and scary. I remember wanting the box to hold keys to a new car to drive to school or something else exciting to celebrate this new season. But what that small box held was more meaningful than my 18-year-old-self understood at the time. It was a passage of Scripture she had quoted to me for many years, typed out and framed, with my name inserted throughout:  And I will lead the blind in a way that they do not know in paths that they have not known I will guide them. I will turn the darkness before them into light, the rough places into level ground. These are the things I do, and I do not forsake them (Is. 42:16). That verse hung in my dorm room, in my first apartment, and even now in my first home. Early on, when she first gave it to me, I often looked at it and thought, what does it mean that “the Lord will turn darkness into life before me and make the rough places smooth” in my life? I was leaving the comfort of my parents’ home and beginning life as an adult. I was at a time in my life when questions of career, where I would live, and whether I would get married consumed my thoughts. I wanted to seek the Lord as I discerned His will, but truthfully, I also wanted to make the “right” decision. The Lord began to show me my decisions were more about Him and less about me. As I found myself paralyzed by fear in both big and small decisions, the Lord was gracious to show me that His Word was where I needed to focus in order to understand and discern His will. He is a God who asks us to seek Him. During Jesus' Sermon on the Mount, He spoke what is now one of the most quoted passages in the Bible: “But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you” (Matt. 6:33). We are to seek the face of God, seeking to glorify Him before seeking our own will. There are many ways and places that we glorify God. We all face big life decisions about where to live, what to do for a career, whom to marriage, and more. All are important, and yet there are many paths we can take to glorify God. The Bible does not say where we should live or what career we should choose, but He does say to seek Him first and that our life was created for His glory (1 Cor. 10:31). When we seek Him first, we are freed from carrying the burdens of our life, freed from anxiety and worry, and freed to know that the Lord holds our life in His hand and will provide for us...

Modeling a Life of Surrender

KATIE FLORES|GUEST When I was a little girl, I enjoyed hanging posters on my wall. Some of them were more edifying than others, but one of my favorites had a picture of a rainbow with the words from Philippians 1:6: “And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.” When I felt discouraged or needed a bit of courage, these words reminded me that God was at work in my life, and He would bring His plans to completion. These words still bring me comfort. I now have a daughter of my own, and we remind each other of this truth on a weekly basis because it’s so easy to forget. So often, I start to believe the lie that everything depends on me, that I’ve got to figure everything out on my own. When I believe this, my hands grip tightly to anything that makes me feel like I have control rather than holding my hands open in a posture of surrender. I may start searching the internet when I don’t feel like I have enough information. Not enough money? I begin to hoard rather than trust God for His provision. When I experience the limits of my time, I somehow find myself mindlessly scrolling my social media feed, rather than stewarding my time well. It’s discouraging that these things give me the illusion of control, while the Sovereign King of the Universe is watching me strive rather than resting in Him. But my daughter is watching me. My son is watching as well. The children I teach in Sunday School are watching. They all watch to see if my actions match my words. My words tell them that we worship a Mighty God who is sitting on His throne ruling the world. Do my actions show them I believe this to be true?...

Unmarried and In Christ: A Profound (and Sometimes Painful) Mystery Which Points Beyond Itself

ELLEN DYKAS | CONTRIBUTOR I’ve received hundreds of gifts over the years and a handful stand out as markers on my heart and life. Two of these are on my mind today as I write this article. The first came on Mother’s Day over twenty years ago. Libby, a beloved younger sister in Christ, gave me a dozen red roses, thanking me for the way God has used me as a ‘spiritual mother’ in her life. Then, another younger woman, and coworker with me in the trenches of ministry  Harvest USA, gave me a wall-hanging with a photograph from WWI, displaying soldiers climbing out of the trenches to engage the battle in front of them. Caitlin, knowing that I’ve gleaned so much from military documentaries (yes, me!), gave me this gift to express appreciation for equipping her for the works of ministry, and for being ‘in the trenches’ with her. Though I’ve not birthed or adopted children to raise and nurture as my own, God has generously given me hundreds of spiritual daughters (and a few sons). These dear ones, and Libby’s gift of roses and Caitlin’s gift from the battlefield of ministry, provide beautiful pictures of the profound mystery embedded in a faithful theology of singleness. Curious? Read on! Wait?! I thought the profound mystery was only about marriage?  Ephesians 5:32 continues to shock and discombobulate new students to God’s word. Paul’s words at the conclusion of a key NT passage about God’s design for marriage surely must have prompted some head-scratching, and more than a few exclamations of, “Waaitt…whaaaa?” He wrote, This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church (Eph. 5:32). The mystery Paul referenced is that God’s good gift of marriage is meant to point beyond itself towards the eternal, exclusive, fruitful, mutual loving relationship believers have with our Savior. Husbands and wives receive the good and beautiful gift of marriage and the unique all-of-life oneness (emotionally, sexually, relationally, etc.), while recognizing that marriage is meant to reveal the way Jesus and his people relate to each other for all eternity. Human marriage will, after all, end with this lifetime. ...

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