A friend of mine told me, “The devil is out to get us all, I’m just about tired of fighting.”Have you ever felt that emotion? I certainly have!
It does seem that there are times we need, let me re-phrase that to times I need help. I am trying to be positive and know that everything is going to be alright but then I get a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach that makes me stop… that’s when I have to get out my Bible and encourage myself knowing that ultimately everything WILL be alright.
Isaiah 41:10, Fear not, for I am with you; Be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, Yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.
Hebrews 10:25 So let’s do it—full of belief, confident that we’re presentable inside and out. Let’s keep a firm grip on the promises that keep us going. He always keeps his word. Let’s see how inventive we can be in encouraging love and helping out, not avoiding worshiping together as some do but spurring each other on, especially as we see the big Day approaching.
Psalm 133:1 Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!
It is said that Christians are the only people who kill their wounded. Oh my God, I wish that wasn’t true, but I have seen it with my own eyes. Someone makes a mistake and the pack attacks! When Satan attacks one of our own and they are being pulled apart by the lions of this life we need to rush the devil head on and spear him with the sword of the Word. We must take the wounded and hide them in the safety of the herd and help them until their wounds heal.
Hebrews 4:12 For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.
2 Replies to “Do you need to encourage yourself?”
I’m going to tell you a story. I am going to try to give you the short version, but I think you will like it. That’s why I am telling it. However, I wrote it in full at least once before, but I think it was on a different blog I kept over ten years ago. I don’t THINK you can find it on my current site.
Anyway, curl up in your best chair, and here goes:
Many years ago, when I was first starting out in street ministry, I became close with a hooker. I’m not talking about Julia Roberts (Pretty Woman) here, I mean a cheap five dolla hooka. Completely bombed out life. Suffering horrible addiction to crack, HIV (almost full blown AIDS), uneducated, lonely, existing on the bottom rung of life. I must say, I have dozens of fun stories to tell, but I will skip almost all of them. Waste too much time and get off the point you raise here by a country mile. But I need to just assert that loving this woman was an adventure. A lot of work. Exhausting, really. But for a while there, she got off dope and even after she relapsed, she would avoid getting wasted on Saturday nights so that she could be ready for church on Sunday! I would go pick her up for church at the crack house and drop her off there after. It was a trip!
She was a user. A manipulator. Of people… me included to a degree. Actually, I got a rapport with her where I could get her to be honest and vulnerable with me, but for a loooooong time she thought I was a cop under cover. Very paranoid from both the drugs and the psych problems. Anyway, she was shameless about using our church too. She would come to church each Sunday and load up on all manner of charitable goods and take them back to the crack house where she became quite popular, I am sure.
But she lived life on the edge, and sometimes she got beat up and left for dead. Stabbed one time, and almost died. And this yoyo life was exhausting to care for. And so…
One day she pissed off a drug dealer who supposedly put out a hit on her. She was afraid. She called me at my work crying and desperate. I could not get free at that moment to come save her. So she headed down to the church office and banged on the door there. By the time she got there, word was out what was up among several of my church friends, and it made the circuit back to the office staff who then feared that a gunman would come to the church and they would all be in danger.
I gotta say, I am very, VERY sensitive to issues of danger, of life and death. I want to mitigate such things as much as I can like anyone.
But, as a church, we have a different perspective on life. At least we should aspire to it. Laying down our lives, is pretty much discipleship 101. I am mindful that even some of the Apostles chickened out in the Bible. I am not against forgiving this, but we must not think this isn’t our aspiration. And anyway… when she showed up at the church house door seeking admittance as unto salvation, I find it prophetically disastrous for that door NOT to open just when they need Jesus the most.
But I was exhausted too. And I felt manipulated and pretty burned out. So when Ms. Karen, the main secretary, got me on the phone to complain to me about how my little lamb has cost the church so much with no permanent life change in a positive sense, and now had the staff scared and endangered, when she insisted that it was time for me to cut her off… well, I wilted and agreed.
My hooker called me after that very upset that she could not get refuge in the church and hide. She was a baptized member! And here I was at work juggling responsibilities there with a phone that would not let me go. I had to be short with her. I told her to go to a family member’s house and hide there until I could get off work. Then I would meet her up at the grocery store over on the East Side (in the old days we called it “colored town”.
By the time I got off work, I was a mess. I wept as I got in the truck and headed east. I told her I would arrive at the store and call her from the pay phone; she could walk there from her uncle’s place nearby. It was my plan to tell her I could no longer be her minister. She had used up all my charity, all my kindness, and that of my church. I was going to cut her off.
As I drove along, I was crying and talking to God about this. And I told God that I couldn’t see where He was telling me to do this, but it sure seemed like the right and prudent thing to do. I was getting myself committed to doing it.
When I arrived at the store, I noticed something.
This is an aside, but I don’t know how to tell this story without getting into it.
During those early days of street ministry, I had a partner who joined me on the streets. To be more accurate, I joined him. But eventually it became more my thrust than his. But anyway, my partner David, was always upset about the lack of positive male role models in the minority neighborhood we served. He would ask, WHERE ARE THE FATHERS AND GRANDPAS? And would be so frustrated.
So as I was drying up my face and walking up to the store to look for the pay phone, I was stunned to see a bank of benches out front of the store with maybe 6 or 9 older black men all sitting there in silence looking out over the lot. It seemed I should make a point to tell David about this later, but I had bigger fish to fry at the moment, and I didn’t intend to broach a conversation with these men at that time.
I made my call and got a hold of my hooker, and she said she would be there in about ten minutes. She was walking.
So I turned and realized I had ten minutes to sit on the bench next to all these silent men that David would have us consult if we could.
Now I thought I would broach.
But what would I say?
I am just not a sports fan, so I was not about to say, “How bout them Cowboys?” And I hate cliché conversations about the weather. So I was excited when the perfect idea hit me at just the right time.
In a loud voice, I announced for all the men to hear me clearly… “Man… Every time I go to the store, I end up waiting on a WOMAN!”
Just then I saw maybe four or five heads begin to nod. I heard a couple affirmative “mmmhmmm”‘s.
But the old cat down at the far end spoke up in response in an equally loud voice and said, “You needs to be waitin on Jesus!”
I said, “Man, you are talking my language.”
And so the man commence to preaching at me.
I don’t know if it was his usual banter, his best sermon repeated for the umpteenth time or if God gave him the perfect words at the perfect time or both. But he stood up and informed me that his name was Elder Baines, and he was one of the bishops down at Greater St. Luke’s. I told him I was there to tend to one of my little lambs, and he looked at me and said… “Son. Do you know what the devil’s number one strategy is to defeat God’s ministers?”
I was put on the spot.
I am sure I could offer any number of intelligent responses, but odds are, I would not be giving Elder Baines’s idea of the number one thing, so I said, “No sir, I don’t know.”
“Discouragement,” he said. “And you look like you are discouraged.”
Wow! Could he just see right through me???
So Elder Baines launched into his sermon about discouragement and how we must listen to God’s voice and not all the other voices that pull us down and holds us back from doing the thing we know he calls us to do…
I was stunned.
And just about that time I hear the squeeky voice of my favorite cheap hooker calling out my name from across the lot. I looked up and saw her, and pointed to her and said to Elder Baines, “Elder Baines, That’s the woman I been waiting for.”
He looked up at her, lowered his glasses and said, “Ha? Son, I knowd ha all ha life! Boy, we need to pray for you.”
And that’s just what he did.
When my girl got to us there, he put out his hand on her shoulder and drew her close to us, put his hand on my shoulder, and in a firm grip he had us both there at God’s Mercy and he looked up to heaven and began to pray, and as he prayed I wept and found such deep and rich encouragement from the most unlikely place on the East Side amid the mythical unicornish positive male role models of the minority.
As I walked away from that exchange, I recommitted my ministry to the girl, and we went on to have years of more adventures.
I will end my story there. Trying to keep it short. But that keeps it close to your point. And I think it is the kind of story you like.
God bless you, and thanx for posting.
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This is a wonderful thing that happened to you and I think you should re-post if for everyone to read!! I have encounters like that sometimes I receive the sermon sometimes I am the one giving it. It always stirs me to the point that my face feels like it is aflame, don’t know why I react like that but it is a good thing. I was sitting in my car waiting on someone on a very busy street in Atlanta, Ponce de Leon and the oner of Highland Avenue, I saw a man staggering and realized he was drunk. I would have ignored him but he fell off the sidewalk onto the side of the street. I rushed out of my car to him, laid hands on him and to the top of my lungs called out GOD HELP THIS MAN when I opened my eyes an Atlanta city bus had stopped and people were staring at me like I had two heads. BY that the two policemen came and started to pick him up, he stood up on his own and turned around and looked me dead in the eye and clearly said, My name is Alan Taylor. From being passed out in the street he sobered or seemed to be at least he was walking straight as the policemen walked him to their car. Experiences like that are worth more than money or food. ❤
Thank you for sharing your wonderful story, I enjoyed your adventure and was right there with you as the man prayed over you. h