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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The Resurrection of Christ: The Hope of Glory and Hope for the Body

ELIZABETH TURNAGE | CONTRIBUTOR A 2017 study revealed that 25 percent of British people who identify as Christians do not believe in the resurrection of Jesus.[i] And yet, as pastor and theologian Stephen Um explains, even atheist scholars find weighty evidence for the resurrection. Um quotes atheist philosopher Anthony Flew: “The evidence for the resurrection is better than for claimed miracles in any other religion.”[ii] The resurrection is central to the gospel: if the resurrection didn’t happen, Paul tells the doubting Corinthians, our hope in Christ is pitiable (1 Cor. 15:19). On the first Good Friday long ago, Jesus spent his last breath. To confirm his death, a Roman soldier pierced his side with a spear. Joseph of Arimathea, with the permission of Pilate, took Christ’s body from the cross, wrapped it in a linen shroud, and buried it in his tomb (Mark 15:42–46). Christ’s followers were downcast and depressed the next day—the One they had thought would save them had died. How could it be? The disciples had never fully understood what Christ meant when he said, “The Son of Man is about to be delivered into the hands of men, and they will kill him, and he will be raised on the third day” (Matt. 17:22–23). And then he appeared in a new body, a resurrected body. Many saw him: the women who went to the tomb to finish preparing the body for burial (Mark 16:1). Mary Magdalene, who mistook Jesus for the gardener (John 20:15). Thomas, who at Jesus’s command, touched Jesus’s nail-scarred hands (John 20:24–27). the disciples, who trembled together in a locked room when Jesus suddenly stood among them, greeting them, “Peace be with you” (John 20:19)...

Ordinary Women, Extravagant Gifts

JAMYE DOERFLER | CONTRIBUTOR A few days before his death, Jesus attended a dinner party with his disciples. A woman arrived with an alabaster jar of pure nard, an extremely expensive perfume, broke the jar and poured the oil on Jesus’ head. Most people in the room disapproved of the gift. Mark says the men were “indignant” and rebuked the woman harshly for not selling the nard and giving the money to the poor instead. Yet Jesus defended her: “Leave her alone,” said Jesus. “Why do you trouble her? She has done a beautiful thing to me. For you will always have the poor with you, and whenever you want, you can do good for them. But you will not always have me. She has done what she could; she has anointed my body beforehand for burial. And truly, I say to you, wherever the gospel is proclaimed in the whole world, what she has done will also be told in memory of her” (Mark 14:6-9). When the woman anointed Jesus with her precious oil, it showed that she understood that Jesus was worthy of such extravagance. Clearly, she grasped this better than even Jesus’ loyal disciples who condemned her gift. As James R. Edwards points out in his commentary on Mark, “The disciples’ condemnation of the gift demeans the woman and her gift, and also Jesus, whom they regard as unworthy of such extravagance.” The value of a gift Not everyone is able to give such an expensive gift, of course. A few chapters earlier, Jesus similarly commended another woman, even though her gift was of little monetary value: the widow who could only afford to put two copper coins into the temple treasury.   To his disciples, he said, “Truly, I say to you, this poor widow has put in more than all those who are contributing to the offering box. For they all contributed out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty has put in everything she had, all she had to live on” (Mark 12:43-44). Though the phrasing is different, Jesus recognizes both women for the same motivation: “she has done what she could” and “she has put in everything she had.” As Edwards writes, “For Jesus, the value of a gift is not the amount given, but the cost to the giver.”...

Jesus Loves Me, This I Know

STEPHANIE HUBACH | CONTRIBUTOR Does the Guinness Book of World Records have a category for “longest period of time for keeping the same item magnetized to a refrigerator?” I sincerely doubt it. However, since the first all-steel home refrigerator was introduced by General Electric in 1929, that’s only a 95-year record to contend with. So, I’d say I’m doing pretty well. My magnetized item is actually a piece of newsprint (stuck in a magnetic frame), that says in large letters, “Jesus Loves Me, This I Know.” It’s been on my various refrigerators for 32 years. How do I know the exact amount of time? I know because my son Tim, who has Down syndrome, was born 32 years ago. 32 Years Ago—Jesus Loves Me, This I Know: My Sheer Act of Faith Five days after New Year’s Day of 1992, I gave birth to my second son. That evening, I heard the words that changed my family’s life forever. “We believe your son has a chromosomal abnormality.” As it turns out, a little piece of extra genetic material can influence a whole host of changes in a human body. Some of those changes create authentic challenges (to the point of being life-threatening, such as severe cardiac conditions). Some of those changes bring forth wonderful qualities in a “super-abundance” not as fully experienced by those of us with a typical collection of 46 chromosomes. In those early days, my heart was understandably caught up with the former: the weight of the authentic challenges and the practical nature of addressing those difficulties. By choice, we did not know in advance that Tim had Down syndrome. (That’s a conversation for another day.) Nor did we know that he would have a tumultuous ride of health issues in his first year, culminating in open heart surgery at seven months old. The tsunami of new responsibilities in terms of medical care and therapies, accompanied by grief at the loss of my expectations for what I thought Tim’s life (and ours) would look like, made our infant and toddler days with our oldest son, Freddy, feel other-worldly. Sometime, early in this journey, is when the newspaper clipping became attached to my refrigerator. “Jesus Loves Me, This I Know.” Christmas vacation occurred the weeks just prior to Tim’s birth. We were all home together, as my husband had time off from work. And I specifically remember intentionally enjoying that time with Freddy—knowing (but not how much) it would change soon, with the addition of a new baby. I also distinctly recall singing a particular song with him—one that I remember God bringing to mind (from my own childhood) during that time. It was this: There is a name I love to hear I love to sing its worth It sounds like music in my ear The sweetest name on earth O how I love Jesus O how I love Jesus O how I love Jesus Because he first loved me...

He Knows Our Every Trouble

CLAIRE STREBECK | GUEST Christ identifies with all our weaknesses.  Christ understands our every sorrow. Do you weep? Do you mourn? If there were one characteristic that marked Jesus' earthly ministry, it would be compassion. Over and over, he was moved with deep pity for those weeping, especially those who were disadvantaged: the widow from Nain; Mary at the death of Lazarus; the sinner-woman who wailed as she washed Christ's feet with her expensive perfume and her tears.  Yet, it was not only their circumstances that provoked Jesus' emotion. Certainly, any of their conditions could have been sufficient to prompt anyone to sympathy. Still, with Jesus, each emotional response included more than mere circumstantial pity. Every time Christ was moved in his emotions, it was in response to the battle he waged with death.  Jesus’ Emotional Response to Our Fallen World When Christ saw Mary and the other Jews weeping over Lazarus' death, he felt more than sorrow. John 11:33 tells us that He was "deeply moved." I was surprised to discover that the text signifies more than Jesus' sadness and sympathy–John also communicates Jesus' rage. The original Greek word used is embrimaomai, which literally translates to "being very angry or moved with indignation." Was Christ angry at Mary or those with her? Was he angry over their grief? Absolutely not. In fact, we see that he was stirred in response to their mourning, with his own shedding of tears only two verses later. It was death itself that prompted our Lord to anger. ...

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