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 High Calling of Finding Our Identity

.TARA GIBBS | CONTRIBUTOR Who am I? What defines me, motivates me, and practically shapes the thousands of small and big choices I make each day? Identity is the word for who we are and how we derive meaning. Every person either consciously or subconsciously answers the question: “What makes me “me”? When we introduce ourselves, we might tell someone what we do for work or fun. Although we might not realize it, a deeper look at daily choices might reveal unexamined ways we pursue identity—staying fit and toned, wearing hip clothes, accumulating Instagram likes, being affirmed for kind things we do, etc.  Sometimes we even seek to build identity through a performance-based Christian life. A sad story is told of a young woman who became involved with a church while in college. She came to recognize herself as a sinner in need of forgiveness and soon became a leader in the ministry. She wanted to pursue missions, but first she did some graduate work in psychology. The more she studied, the more suspicious she became of what her Christian ministry taught her about her identity as a “worthless sinner.” Through her studies in psychology, this young woman began to again see herself as a person of value. The more she studied, the freer and less burdened she felt. She began to feel less guilty and more “healthy.” Her family rejoiced to see the return of their “happy” daughter. Yet this “freedom” and “health” were at the cost of her Christian convictions because this young woman had a fundamental misunderstanding regarding a Biblical view of Christian identity.[1] God’s Word tells us true identity will not be found in jobs, possessions, the pursuit of happiness, or even trying to be “good enough for God,” but rather as we gain a deep, heart knowledge of God’s goodness TO us...  

Daughters of the King

LAURA TUCKER |GUEST “This must be your twin!” I hear this often when I am with my mother. She is my mother— not my sister—and she is in her 70s and I am in my 40s. In some ways, this comment makes me wonder, “How old do I look,” but it is a compliment…she has great skin, hair, and style!  She has passed down genetic traits and characteristics, so, as her daughter, I do in fact resemble her likeness. But more than genetics, years of time spent with her has formed my facial expressions, mannerisms, and word choices in such a way that more and more I often hear, “You look just like your mother,” or “I know whose daughter you are!” Created as Image Bearers As much as I bear the image and likeness of my mother, there is One, the Lord our God and the Creator of all things whose image and likeness we all bear. Genesis 1:26-27 tells us that from the very beginning, the pinnacle of creation is in fact us, people, male and female made in the image and likeness of our Triune God. “Then God said, ‘Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.’ So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.” Out of all God’s creation, it was mankind he declared was very good indeed (Gen. 1:31). God made us and gave us a purpose to fill the earth and subdue it, to have dominion over all creation. In the very beginning, we see the beautiful, purposeful design with which God created us to bear His image— His likeness in His kingdom. Fearfully and wonderfully made, each of us are knit together and formed, after the likeness of our Creator God. We were made to be fully known by Him, and in turn for us to know, love, and enjoy Him. More, we were made to be known as belonging to Him and to be recognized as His people in His kingdom...

Engaging Culture With Wisdom and Grace

MARIA CURREY | CONTRIBUTOR “If only one more page, one more encounter, one more embrace,” your heart moans. When you find someone or something engaging, what is it that makes you want more? Maybe it is their compelling and charismatic personality? It might be a book or movie which grips your attention—when no matter how many other tasks beckon for your attention, you cannot help but turn the pages or watch it through to the credits, and you feel like a best friend moved away when it ends. The characters linger, the impression of that special person remains long after bidding farewell. In sharp contrast, we often find ourselves in a culture of criticism, cruelty, cancelling, and cut-throat competition, so, how do we take the myriad tensions and reconcile them with our Christian calling? How do we engage culture with wisdom and grace? Bury your head in the uncountable sands of Scripture and wait for Jesus to return? As comfortingly cocooned as such an action-plan may be, the losses would be countlessly grievous—both to our hearts and to a lost swath of culture needing and waiting for Jesus’ winsome love. What if you and I are the pivotal story of Jesus to be watched and read for those who are eternally lost? What if the Holy Spirit has a special assignment for the pages of your life to be the unfolding of wisdom and grace? God’s gifts perfectly crafted through your uniquely designed life. Remember the Psalm 139 promises that you are “fearfully and wonderfully made;” the images of His handiwork are the wisdom and grace of God in you! Why are wisdom and grace critical hooks in our life stories?...

A Backwards Birth Into Heaven

SUSAN TYNER | CONTRIBUTOR I watched my Daddy be born into Heaven today. We were all around him as he lay dying in his bed at home. I squeezed his hand on one side while Mama grasped the other, my sister balancing on the mattress at his head while my brother held his feet. With our spouses and his many grandchildren crowded around, we sat with him one more time in his bedroom. We were no strangers to this room—there for about fifty years we had yelled at Ole Miss football games on the TV, nursed coffee during early morning talks, climbed into the warm covers while he read his Bible in a close by chair, even played tic-tac-toe in lotion on his back. Decades of normal breathing and living. And so, it was a blessing that when he needed to die, we could be in that familiar-made-sacred space together. I never saw someone die before, and it’s amazing how the human body will struggle to stay alive. We held our breaths as we counted his. He would pause breathing and we would look at each other, is this it? only to see him gasp air again. This happened so many times that once we laughed because it got comical for such a heavy moment—or maybe we just needed to release a tension we were not used to holding for so long. The hospice staff told us he could hear us even though he couldn’t respond, and Daddy proved them right when he squeezed Mama’s hand, responding that he loved her. His clavicle strained just like my little boy’s did when he had croup. We felt his pulse slow, lagging only a little behind his breath. At some point we attempted to comfort him by reciting Psalm 23 as a group. I think we added thirty minutes to his life because we flubbed it so bad my mom had to take over like the school teacher she is. Again, we laughed. How terrible for Daddy to hear us collectively fail a basic test when he had invested his adult life teaching us the Bible. Here we had been telling him to go and not worry about us and he’s lying there thinking, WHAT? My kids can’t even remember The Lord is My Shepherd?? What kind of shape am I leaving them in? Then, although we knew he was leaving, it was weird when in one moment after midnight, he did not catch his breath. Suddenly, he was gone. And, we did not feel like laughing anymore but going to our corners of the house to be quiet and do whatever one does after watching your role model leave your world. What seemed like only moments later, the funeral home is on site, desecrating our sacred bedroom. As I fill out paperwork, the hospice nurse tells me that Daddy, who practiced medicine for the hospice company, actually had worked earlier that week for them. I shouldn’t have been surprised. He pushed and tackled cancer’s pain the way he played linebacker at Bentonia High School. Whether it was football, medicine, church, or a good Mississippi snow day, Will Thompson left it all on the field. Why would his death week be any different? I see them put Daddy’s body in a plastic bag. As a doctor, he saw death a lot and this scene would not shock him. I did not know at the time it was shocking me. I assumed my head knowledge that he was in a better place would inoculate me from shock—that the theology I had been taught would cushion the impact grief causes....

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