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.

Sign up for our weekly enCourage blog:

Encouragement for Those Who Struggle to Pray

JESSICA ROAN | GUEST Oswald Chambers once said, "Prayer does not equip us for greater works; prayer is the greater work.” I hate to admit it, but if that is the case, I am doing a lot of “work” and very little of the “greater work” in this season of my life. When I was single and newly married, I spent consistent time in prayer. During early motherhood, with newborn babies and young children, however, I only imagined a day when I would have more time to read the Bible and pray. Now that my sons are more independent, I am not satisfied with my prayer life at all. I pray, but my prayers seem to be in small snippets or moments of desperation, not the focused devotional times I imagine. I feel like a failure at prayer. Perhaps you are a new mom, a busy professional with a family, or someone in a season of life filled with responsibilities and distractions. Are you too discouraged by what your prayer and devotional life looks like? Perhaps we need to challenge some of the “rules” for prayer we often hold to. Quiet Time Doesn’t Always Need to Be Quiet When I was in college, I had a friend with eight siblings. I came from a home with only two children, so her home environment was foreign to me. When I went to her house, her little sister slept in the window seat so that I could have her bed (five girls lived in one room). One day we were discussing spending time in the word and prayer, and I said something flippant about the importance of finding a quiet place to be alone with God. She just smiled and looked around. In her life, the concepts of “quiet” and “alone” were not feasible. When looking over verses on prayer, one factor stood out to me...

The Advent Wreath: Finding Comfort in the Light of Jesus

OCIEANNA FLEISS|GUEST Christmas music played softly as I leaned on the counter at the Christian bookstore where I worked alongside my new husband. “Advent?” I said. “Isn’t that when churches light candles around Christmas time?” We were in our twenties, still establishing our own family culture, and had been dabbling in some of the Christian traditions we hadn’t explored before. “Yeah, but I heard you can also celebrate it at home,” he answered. “How?” “I’m not sure, but I think we should start with an Advent wreath.” I agreed, and after some shopping, we settled on a gorgeous wooden wreath decorated with a Celtic knot that would sit nicely on our coffee table. It had four candles—three purple and one pink—to represent the four weeks of the Advent season. Later we added a white one, the Christ candle, to light on Christmas Eve. With joy I set it up in our California apartment, and each Sunday in December, as the sunshine filtered through our windows, we lit the candles and read the accompanying Scriptures for each week. The weekly Advent themes of hope, preparation, joy, and love nurtured a rhythm of worship our hearts needed—and have continued to need. We didn’t know then how, over the years, these themes would play out in our lives...

Be Human Evangelism

LAUREN HOLBROOK | GUEST What comes to your mind when you hear the word evangelism? You may have a memory of hearing the gospel for the first time at a VBS or you were blessed to hear a missionary share an incredible testimony of someone in their community coming to faith. For me I think back to my experience of beach evangelism, which was a key component of my summers serving with a college ministry. This one hour in my week was exhilarating and terrifying at the same time! Through my 12 years of college ministry experience, my primary framework for evangelism came from Matthew 28:19, “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations…” I received incredible training and felt equipped to talk about spiritual things. Often the Lord provided an opportunity, and I would share the bridge diagram or another evangelistic tool to clearly articulate the good news of the gospel to my friend or neighbor. My passion was fueled by the Great Commission, and this is what led my family to say yes to the call of church planting. Church Planting to the “Post-Christian” What I did not realize is the way I went about evangelism on a college campus in the Southeast is very different than the method of evangelism I used during my time of church planting in the Northeast. My husband and I had the privilege of church planting in Fairfield, Connecticut, which is a commuter town about an hour outside of New York City. Although we were located in New England, a region where revival had come during the Great Awakening, the spiritual climate there today is primarily “post-Christian.” Our area was named as one of the top 10 post Christian cities in America according to the Barna Group. To qualify as “post-Christian,” individuals had to meet criteria like: Do not believe in God Identify as atheist or agnostic Disagree that faith is important in their lives Have not prayed to God (in the last week) Have never made a commitment to Jesus Have not attended a Christian church (in the last 6 months) Have not read the Bible (in the last week) Not Born Again[1] Most of my neighbors, mom friends, teachers in my daughter’s school, and other acquaintances would check these boxes and identify themselves as a non-religious person. They did not believe in God. They did not consider faith an important part of their lives. They also had an aversion to evangelism. So how do you bring the good news to someone who wants nothing to do with Christianity?...

Before You Lead a Small Group

SHEA PATRICK | CONTRIBUTOR My spiritual life has been greatly impacted by participating in small group Bible study including coed life-groups, larger community Bible studies, and small groups through my church. I recently spoke to a group of women leaders who were preparing to kick off their fall Bible studies about the basics of leading small groups. Most of the questions they asked me to address were about problems that may arise while leading a group such as what to do about someone who talks too much or too little, or someone who proposes a position contrary to the Reformed faith. While these things are important to consider in our preparation, they are secondary to considering our motivation in studying God’s word together. Thinking about our purpose in meeting together brings focus and encouragement and spurs perseverance in the face of any challenges that may arise. Why small groups? We don’t want to do things because that is what we have always done; instead, we want to consider what we hope to accomplish by engaging with others in small group Bible study. Our purpose will then help to inform the practicalities of how we carry out our time together. Our aim in studying the Bible with other women should be the same as our own devotional study of Scripture: heart transformation and life change. Our exposure to God’s Word in community leads to this Spirit-led work of sanctification that ultimately glorifies God. As we gather around God’s Word, we want to grow in our knowledge of who God is. We marvel at His holiness, justice, truth, and omniscience as revealed in His Word. The Word also reveals the truth of who we are—desperate, needy sinners, who are affected in every area by the Fall. As we study together, it's against this backdrop that our appreciation of who Jesus is and what He accomplished on our behalf grows. When we see the chasm between a perfect transcendent God and fallen humans, we marvel even more at the cross. And our lives are changed. This transformation (growing in the gospel and becoming more like Christ) focuses on both vertical and horizontal relationships. God is working to cause not just individual transformation but corporate transformation as well. Small groups are just one of the tools God uses...

Recent Posts


flower tile
Go to Top