Encourage Blog2022-11-02T23:58:37+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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The One Thing You Have to Get Right

HEATHER MOLENDYK|CONTRIBUTOR You can get a lot of things wrong in life. You can go to the wrong school. You can give the wrong gift. You can wear the wrong outfit to a business presentation. You can buy the wrong house. You can marry the wrong man. But there is one thing you absolutely cannot get wrong in life: who Jesus is and what his time on earth was all about. Who is Jesus? If you want to know who Jesus is, ask Him. He isn’t shy. “I and the Father are one,” Jesus declares in John 10:30. Jesus is God. Let that thought linger for a moment. Sit with it awhile. Jesus is God. Meditate on it. Ponder all the implications that statement carries with it. Jesus is God. Evaluate your reaction to his identity claim. Wrestle with any discomfort you may feel as the form Jesus has taken in your imagination morphs into the identity Jesus claims about Himself. Jesus is God. What was Jesus’ ministry all about? Jesus did many great things during His three-year ministry. He miraculously fed thousands of people, but those same people were hungry the next day. He healed numerous physical ailments and raised some people from the dead; however, those same people eventually died at the end of their time. If Jesus’ miracles didn’t “stick,” then what was the purpose of them? Why feed people tonight who will only need to eat again tomorrow morning? Why raise someone from the dead now when they will only die again at some future date? Again, let’s ask Jesus the “why” behind the miracles. He is transparent about them. “The works that I do in my Father’s name bear witness about me,” Jesus explains in John 10:25. The miracles are proof that Jesus is God. Jesus is God who took on the flesh of mankind to do what exactly? If the miracles aren’t the mission, if the easing of suffering is not the mission, then why, Jesus, are you here? “I am here to suffer, to be humiliated, and die,” Jesus proclaims to His followers. “I won’t stay dead. I will rise from the dead on the third day” (Matt. 16:21, Mk. 8:31, Lk. 9:22, paraphrased). Jesus is God. Jesus entered the world as a man so that He could die. Having divine power allows Jesus to fight death and rise again...

The Lament of Jesus

LISA WALLOVER|GUEST Christians are Resurrection People. We truly are. Every Easter morn, pastors around the world declare, “He is risen!” And all God’s people say, “He is risen, indeed!” Truly, every Sunday is that celebration! We serve a risen Savior. The tomb is empty. Life is full. Death, where is your sting? Except. Except that life still stings, sometimes. Maybe more than sometimes. Our hearts can be heavy. We are weary from the lingering weight of sin—around us, and within. To lament is to express to God that sadness that sits in our souls. I wonder if we are sometimes hesitant to lament because it somehow seems “unfaithful” to admit that sorrow can feel bigger than we are. Perhaps it even feels bigger than God. Is it possible that it is in this sorrow where we might meet God most closely? That He is there, waiting, because He deeply understands? That in our grief over sin and its effect, we may actually reflect God’s design and God’s heart? That in the midst of our sorrow we are “conformed to the image of His Son”? Isaiah wrote a description of the coming Messiah that sounds more like defeat than deliverance: He was to be “a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief” (Is. 53:3). And yet, this is the way of the gospel. The path toward the joy and victory of the empty tomb goes through the grief of Gethsemane and pain of Golgotha. It travels through our own grief and pain as well. Our God understands sadness. The sorrow that Jesus felt, He felt perfectly. Completely. How grateful we can be that the Gospel writers share His lament. Jesus wept at the tomb of His friend, Lazarus...

When Downslide is a Downside for People with Down Syndrome

STEPHANIE HUBACH|CONTRIBUTOR STEPHANIE HUBACH|CONTRIBUTOR Upon picking my son Tim up from work one night, enclosed with his paycheck was a paper reminding employees of the company dress code at the grocery store where he works. (In his role there, we affectionately refer to him as “Cart Man.”) As I perused it, Tim asked me what it said. Reading it out loud, I quoted, “Hair of male employees shall be neatly trimmed and groomed.” To which Tim blurted out, in his jovial way, “What am I? A PET??” This type of wry humor has been characteristic of Tim for most of his teen and adult life. But not all of it. Have you ever seen the film Where Hope Grows, or do you watch Born This Way, or do you remember the TV series Life Goes On? If so, you likely have a positive picture of people with Down syndrome and their quality of life in the world. I am really thankful for that. I am deeply grateful for advocates in the generations before and during my son’s lifetime who have invested to create a more open society, a better public education system, and improved living conditions for people with Down syndrome (DS). A lot of social progress has been made for people with DS in the last several decades. If you are blessed enough to know someone with DS personally, you likely also have been embraced by a person who is frequently open-hearted to others, forgives easily, laughs heartily, worships joyfully, and dances freely. The ways in which many people with Down syndrome excel in life as image-bearers of the Living God can take my breath away at times. Many of them reflect God’s character into the world in stunning ways. My 31-year-old son Tim, who has Down syndrome, can be like that. But if we only characterize people by the successes we have made as a society on their behalf, or the ways in which their functioning is admirable, we miss the fuller picture of who they—and we—are as human beings. The Functional and Social Dimensions of Disability Disability can be characterized as having both a functional aspect and a social aspect. The functional aspect is the part of the body that doesn’t work the way we expect it to. In DS, this involves possessing an extra copy of the twenty-first chromosome. (Hence the medical name for Down syndrome: Trisomy 21.) This extra bit of chromosomal material creates a vast array of complications in learning, in communication, in the immune system, in heart health, and in digestive health—to name a few. The functional aspects of disability cry out for merciful engagement  from others. I like to rely on the definition of mercy that was posited by St. Gregory of Nyssa—that “mercy is a voluntary sorrow which enjoins itself with the suffering of another.” While most people with DS would not describe their lives as being characterized by suffering, in my personal experience, most people I know with Down syndrome would acknowledge that their extra chromosome does present genuine challenges in their daily functioning in the world...

The Lord Who Heals

RACHEL CRADDOCK|CONTRIBUTOR A few weeks ago, both my family of six and my fifth-grade homeroom were hit with a stomach bug. As I washed sheets, held buckets, and disinfected desktops, I couldn’t help but beg the Lord for healing from this common, modern-day plague. In my prayers, I called on Yahweh Rapha, the Hebrew name for God which means, The Lord Who Heals You. In The Knowledge of the Holy, A.W. Tozer writes, “What comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us.” I find the statement to be heart-wrenchingly true. When our knowledge of who God is limited, our faith is limited, and our prayers become limited. Discovering the multi-faced character of God through the study of His names has invited me to know Him more deeply, come to Him more boldly, and wait for His answers to my prayers more expectantly. As I prayed for my family and my students during our mini-plague, I could pray with confidence and surety because I know God is The Lord Who Heals...

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