July 2020: A Word From Pastor Blake

One of my favorite events every year is The Open which is held at CrossFit gyms around the world. The Open is a five-week competition where Crossfitters compete at their local gym and log their scores into an online database. The top men and women go to a regional event and the winners of the regional events then go to the CrossFit Games. I don’t participate in The Open because I think I am going make it to the CrossFit games. I participate because of the community and excitement that come from it.

The workout for the weekend is announced on Thursday night and then our gym does the workout on Friday night. Our last gym called it Friday night lights and would have multiple heats of people competing. There were multiple spectators standing around watching people do the workouts. At first this made me nervous because I didn’t want to look stupid in front of other people. I eventually grew to love the
atmosphere because the cheering and encouragement helped me do something faster or lift heavier. The excitement of the people energized me.

I joke that Kaylee and I joined a cult. People laugh because there is a hint of truth to the statement. The Atlantic had an article a few years back titled The Church of CrossFit. It was all about gyms becoming a place of worship for secular people. It is where they find community, accountability, and encouragement.

I love the encouragement I received from my CrossFit friends, but it does not even compare to the encouragement that we receive from fellow believers in Christ. There are many verses in the scripture that tell Christians to encourage one another. A quick survey will help us define biblical encouragement.

Hebrews 3:13 – Here the author tells us to exhort one another so that we don’t become hardened to the deceitfulness of sin. This verse comes in the context where the author gives the example of Israel rebelling against God in the wilderness and hardening their hearts. He then tells them to take care lest they too harden themselves and fall away. We need others to encourage so that we continue to run the race set before us. Encouragement isn’t always what we want to hear. Yes, the words should be spoken in love, but they may be hard to hear.

Are there people in your life that are willing to exhort you when you are deceived in sin? Is there someone you need to encourage to run the race and fight the good fight?

Hebrews 10:24-25 – In this verse author of Hebrews challenges the believers to not forsake the assembling of believers. One of the purposes of the corporate gathering is mutual encouragement that spurs people on to love. Verse 24 starts out with “let us consider.”

Consider means to think carefully about something and in order to do that we must be observant. This considering is intentional and not a one size fits all approach. One of the best ways to observe is in the corporate gathering of believers. We live in an odd time where gatherings were prohibited for a while. Even though we can gather again some may be using wisdom and staying away because of a multitude of reasons. There is something missing when we can’t gather. We miss out on encouragement from the other believers! We see from these verses that

What are some ways you can gather with people to receive mutual encouragement? If you cannot gather with others, how can you utilize technology to receive some encouragement?
Romans 1:11- 12 and 15:32 – Paul bookends the book of Romans by stating how he longs to see the believers in Rome. In chapter one He says that he longs to see them to impart strength. Not only does he want to impart strength, but he also wants to be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith. Imagine Paul saying he longs to see you because he wants to be encouraged by you. It doesn’t matter if you have been a Christian for 5 days or 50 years, you can still be an encouragement to others. Share stories of how you stepped out in faith and watch how it encourages others to do the same. In 15:32 he says he wants to come to be refreshed by their company. Being
with other believers brings rest to our lives through their stories of faith. It can be a catalyst of growth.

Whom can you reach out to this week?
Share with them how God has been working in your life since you last talked to them.
One final verse is found in 2 Corinthians 1:3-4. In this section Paul makes an argument that you were afflicted and comforted by God to bring comfort to others. Here comfort is the same word as encourage. Those going through troubles can be encouraged by us. So often we shy away from the tough conversation instead of bringing comfort. If we have been troubled in a similar way, we know what to say
and what to avoid saying. Our affliction is used for the edification of others through the encouragement we bring to them.

Whom do you know who needs a word of comfort? What can you say to them encourage them during this difficult time?
This was just a quick survey of some verses on encouragement. It is more than cheering someone on in a workout or a “you got this” before a heavy lift. Encouragement is intentional words or actions that are geared towards a certain person or group of people. This involves challenging the person to pursue Christ, telling stories of faith that bring refreshment, and bringing comfort to those who are
hurting. It happens both individually and as the body gathered. Each person will need specialized encouragement that applies to their unique situation. Pay attention to people and know them well enough to know how to encourage. This may mean starting with those closest to you: a spouse, kids, mom, dad, bother, sister, roommate, or small group.
When is the last time you encouraged someone?
How can you grow in your encouragement of others?

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