Category Archives: Words of encouragement

3 Truths about Trash-Talk

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May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer. Psalm 19:14 (NIV)

God often uses ordinary events to teach His children valuable lessons, and this particular lesson involves something extra-ordinary:  garbage. More specifically…rotten garbage.

Our normal trash collection day is Monday. But a couple of weeks ago, garbage pick-up was suspended due to tropical storm warnings from Hurricane Irma. By the time the next collection day rolled around, the rancid stench from the two-week old trash was over-powering.

I knew it was exceptionally awful when my son (who seems oblivious to bad smells) commented about the odor. He took out the trash from our kitchen and came back in yelling, “Mom! Something’s ROTTEN in the garbage can!”

Those words reverberated  loudly in my ears the next morning when I read Ephesians 4:29, “Don’t let even one ROTTEN WORD seep out of your mouths…” I flashed back to a moment a few weeks before in the car when my son was driving on the highway. Traffic up ahead was stopping — but he was not slowing down. As we zoomed toward the rear end of a flat-bed tractor-trailer, words spewed out of my mouth that shocked both of us.

He quickly slowed the car to a stop and looked over at me in the passenger seat with his jaw dropped open in disbelief.  The noxious words filled our car with a foul aroma — a lingering odor that polluted our relationship for days. A simple, “Stop the car — Now!” would have worked, but I dug down deep in the garbage pit instead for my expletives. Not a proud mom-moment at all.

As I continued to read Ephesians 4:29, these words pierced my heart, “Instead only offer FRESH WORDS that build others up when they need it the most.” The trash-talk that seeped out of my mouth was far from “fresh” and did nothing to build up my son.

I immediately went to “clear the air” with him and asked him to forgive me for not only letting the rotten words flow, but also for allowing the atmosphere to become putrid between us over time. I shared with him how his description of the smelly garbage opened my eyes (and my nose!) to what my foul language had done in the car that day. I promised to aim for using only good words to communicate  grace.

Now every time I take out the garbage, I am reminded of these lessons, and I hope they can serve as reminders to you, too :

Trash-Talk Truths from a Trash Can

  • Rotten words pollute and corrupt.
  • Fresh words build others up.
  • Good words communicate Grace.

The words we speak…or text, write, post, tweet or email..have the power to build up or tear down. So many harmful words are communicated today in haste, whether from our lips or our keyboard. If we simply pause and think before we speak, we can prevent careless words from slipping off our tongues or the keys of our keyboard. Likewise, by withholding harmful words, we can prevent the malodorous consequences they may cause.

Use the power of words to build others up when they need it the most. Make each word a gift — our words may be the only glimpse of God’s Grace that others hear.

Related Scripture:

Set a guard over my mouth, Lord; keep watch over the door of my lips.        Psalm 141:3 (NIV)

The heart of the godly thinks carefully before speaking; the mouth of the wicked overflows with evil words. Proverbs 15:28 (NLT)

 

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The Problem with Bubble-Wrapped Lives

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“When all kinds of trials and temptations crowd into your lives my brothers, don’t resent them as intruders, but welcome them as friends! Realize that they come to test your faith and to produce in you the quality of endurance. But let the process go on until that endurance is fully developed, and you will find you have become men of mature character with the right sort of independence. And if, in the process, any of you does not know how to meet any particular problem he has only to ask God—who gives generously to all men without making them feel foolish or guilty—and he may be quite sure that the necessary wisdom will be given him.” James 1: 2-5 (Phillips)

I’ll admit it. I wish I could bubble-wrap my sons to keep them free from injury, loss, rejection, failure, heartbreak, insults, or any other painful misfortune life might hurl in their direction. Especially now that my youngest son is driving, I dream about this possibility whenever he leaves the house with keys in hand!

But I recently read about a fascinating experiment in the Arizona desert where scientists attempted to create a perfect living environment for plants, animals, and humans under a protective biodome. This closed ecological system grew fruits, vegetables and trees and was sustained with purified water and air, nutrient-rich soil, and filtered light – a seemingly ideal habitat.

However, the perfect environment did not produce perfect results.

After a period of time, scientists noted a baffling phenomenon. After reaching a certain height, trees in the biosphere toppled over. This puzzled the scientists until they discovered a missing element in their biosphere. They forgot to include wind! Trees need wind to develop strong roots. When winds blow against trees, their root systems grow deeper, which support them as they grow taller.

We wish our lives could be lived in a virtual biosphere, free from the tensions and strains of outside influences. Yet, when daily challenges push against us, they are strengthening our “roots” and producing true patience and endurance, which will equip us for the journey ahead.

So if we bubble-wrap our kids, protecting them from all of life’s struggles, we are setting them up to topple over as adults. They will never develop deep roots of character, perseverance, and resiliency. Without trial-and-error learning, they won’t develop the problem solving skills they need as adults. And, most importantly, we risk losing the opportunity of teaching them to turn to God for help, which deepens their spiritual roots.

Remove the protective layer and allow their roots to grow deep so they will one day stand independently and tall!

“Happy is the person who can hold up under the trials of life…” James 1:12a

 

Don’t Widen Home Plate

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“Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.”

Matthew 7:13-14 (NIV)

I just read the verse above about the “narrow gate” when my dad forwarded the following article to me. It shares a valuable lesson not only about coaching, but also about parenting…and, most importantly, the narrow road that leads to life:

In Nashville, Tennessee, during the first week of January, 1996, more than 4,000 baseball coaches descended upon the Opryland Hotel for the 52nd annual ABCA convention.

While I waited in line to register with the hotel staff, I heard other more veteran coaches rumbling about the lineup of speakers scheduled to present during the weekend. One name, in particular, kept resurfacing, always with the same sentiment — “John Scolinos is here? Oh man, worth every penny of my airfare.”

Who the heck is John Scolinos, I wondered. Well, in 1996 Coach Scolinos was 78 years old and five years retired from a college coaching career that began in 1948. No matter, I was just happy to be there.

He shuffled to the stage to an impressive standing ovation, wearing dark polyester pants, a light blue shirt, and a string around his neck from which home plate hung — a full-sized, stark-white home plate. Pointed side down.

Seriously, I wondered, who is this guy?

After speaking for twenty-five minutes, not once mentioning the prop hanging around his neck, Coach Scolinos appeared to notice the snickering among some of the coaches. Even those who knew Coach Scolinos had to wonder exactly where he was going with this, or if he had simply forgotten about home plate since he’d gotten on stage.

Then, finally …

“You’re probably all wondering why I’m wearing home plate around my neck. Or maybe you think I escaped from Camarillo State Hospital,” he said, his voice growing irascible. I laughed along with the others, acknowledging the possibility.

“No,” he continued, “I may be old, but I’m not crazy. The reason I stand before you today is to share with you baseball people what I’ve learned in my life, what I’ve learned about home plate in my 78 years.”

Several hands went up when Scolinos asked how many Little League coaches were in the room. “Do you know how wide home plate is in Little League?” After a pause, someone offered, “Seventeen inches,” more question than answer.

“That’s right,” he said. “How about in Babe Ruth? Any Babe Ruth coaches in the house?”

Another long pause.

“Seventeen inches?”came a guess from another reluctant coach.

“That’s right,” said Scolinos. “Now, how many high school coaches do we have in the room?” Hundreds of hands shot up, as the pattern began to appear. “How wide is home plate in high school baseball?”

“Seventeen inches,” they said, sounding more confident.

“You’re right!” Scolinos barked. “And you college coaches, how wide is home plate in college?”

“Seventeen inches!” we said, in unison.

“Any Minor League coaches here? How wide is home plate in pro ball?”

“Seventeen inches!”

“RIGHT! And in the Major Leagues, how wide home plate is in the Major Leagues?”

“Seventeen inches!”

“SEV-EN-TEEN INCHES!” he confirmed, his voice bellowing off the walls.

“And what do they do with a a Big League pitcher who can’t throw the ball over these seventeen inches?” Pause. “They send him to Pocatello!” he hollered, drawing raucous laughter.

“What they don’t do is this: they don’t say, ‘Ah, that’s okay, Bobby. You can’t hit a seventeen-inch target? We’ll make it eighteen inches, or nineteen inches. We’ll make it twenty inches so you have a better chance of throwing the ball over it. If you can’t hit that, let us know so we can make it wider still, say twenty-five inches.’”

Pause.

“Coaches …”

Pause.

” … what do we do when our best player shows up late to practice? What do we do if he violates curfew? What if he uses drugs? Do we hold him accountable? Or do we change the rules to fit him? Do we widen home plate?

The chuckles gradually faded as four thousand coaches grew quiet, the fog lifting as the old coach’s message began to unfold.

Then he turned the plate toward himself and, using a Sharpie, began to draw something. When he turned it toward the crowd, point up, a house was revealed, complete with a freshly drawn door and two windows. “This is the problem in our homes today. With our marriages, with the way we parent our kids. With our discipline. We don’t teach accountability to our kids, and there is no consequence for failing to meet standards. We widen the plate!”

Pause. Then, to the point at the top of the house he added a small American flag.

“This is the problem in our schools today. The quality of our education is going downhill fast and teachers have been stripped of the tools they need to be successful….to educate and discipline our young people. We are allowing others to widen home plate! Where is that getting us?”

“And this is the problem in the Church, where powerful people in positions of authority have taken advantage of young children, only to have such an atrocity swept under the rug for years. Our church leaders are widening home plate!”

I was amazed. At a baseball convention where I expected to learn something about curveballs and bunting and how to run better practices, I had learned something far more valuable. From an old man with home plate strung around his neck, I had learned something about life, about myself, about my own weaknesses and about my responsibilities as a leader. I had to hold myself and others accountable to that which I knew to be right, lest our families, our faith, and our society continue down an undesirable path.

“If I am lucky,” Coach Scolinos concluded, “you will remember one thing from this old coach today. It is this: if we fail to hold ourselves to a higher standard, a standard of what we know to be right; if we fail to hold our spouses and our children to the same standards, if we are unwilling or unable to provide a consequence when they do not meet the standard; and if our schools and churches and our government fail to hold themselves accountable to those they serve, there is but one thing to look forward to …”

With that, he held home plate in front of his chest, turned it around, and revealed its dark black backside.

“… dark days ahead.”

Coach Scolinos died in 2009 at the age of 91, but not before touching the lives of hundreds of players and coaches, including mine. Meeting him at my first ABCA convention kept me returning year after year, looking for similar wisdom and inspiration from other coaches. He is the best clinic speaker the ABCA has ever known because he was so much more than a baseball coach.

His message was clear: “Coaches, keep your players — no matter how good they are — your own children, and most of all, keep yourself at seventeen inches.

(copied post – author unknown)

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Hope Sets us Free

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Hope sets us free to experience joy

May the God of Hope fill you with all
JOY and PEACE
as you trust in him,
so that you may overflow with hope…
Romans 15:13 (NIV)
 

With God, nothing is impossible!  So if you place your trust in the God of All Possibilities…if you wholeheartedly believe in the God of Miracles…if you have faith in the God of Hope…you will be filled with joy and peace.  Your feeling of hopelessness will change to hope-FULL-ness, so much so that you will be filled to the brim and bubbling over with hope. The despair, distress and discouragement that once consumed you will be replaced with confident expectation.

So if your life circumstances seem irreversible, incurable, or insurmountable, simply place your trust in the God of Hope and experience His joy and peace.

“For with God nothing will be impossible.”
Luke 1:37 (NKJV)
 
“Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.”
Hebrews 11:1 (NIV)
 
“We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure.”
Hebrews 6:19 (NIV)

Sometimes God Calms the Storm…

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Sometimes God calms the storm..

                                                                                                                                                                   (Quote by Leslie Gould ~ The Amish Nanny)

“He stilled the storm to a whisper;

    the waves of the sea were hushed.”

Psalm 107:29 (NIV)

When facing a storm in life, most of us prefer that God would simply speak and hush the storm to a whisper. But instead, “sometimes He lets the storm rage and calms His child…” And if you ever witness God’s unfathomable greatness in action during times of extreme distress, you gain a divinely deeper understanding of His limitless power and love than you would if He simply calmed the storm.  In turbulent times, your faith is stretched and expanded to new limits and you receive a marvelous insight: when hope in God is all you have left ~ that’s all you really need.  His grace, protection, and provision are sufficient to help you weather any tempestuous circumstances.

Lately it seems you can’t turn on the news without hearing about many terrible crises taking place around the world (or even in your own town).  The latest headlines consist of a multitude of “bad news” items including ~ natural disasters, viral epidemics, political unrest, terror threats, volatile conditions and horrific violence.  It might be that things in your life are going well, but when you hear the dreadful reports, you become engulfed with fear and anxiety .  If you find yourself suffering from a feeling of worry or despair over world events or your own life events, remember the words of Jesus, “I have told you these things, so that in Me you may have [perfect] peace and confidence. In the world you have tribulation and trials and distress and frustration; but be of good cheer [take courage; be confident, certain, undaunted]! For I have overcome the world. [I have deprived it of power to harm you and have conquered it for you.]” John 16:33 (AMP)

So as His child, allow His words to penetrate your heart and give you perfect peace and confidence, so that you will be calm in the midst of any storm you face.

 “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”  James 1:2 – 3 (NIV)
 
“Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him.” James 1:12 (NIV)

Heaven’s Hope

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When life is heavy and hard to take, seek the one source of true hope.  Many place their hope in fragile sources, (such as money, possessions, power, fame, or people), yet these can come to an end instantly, rendering them hope~less.  But hope in God is unfailing.  Our Heavenly Father is the hope of the entire world…from the distant edges of the earth and as far as the farthest sea and beyond.

Hope in God brings peace and joy, power and strength, confidence and security.  His watchful eyes are on those who hope in His unfailing love. You can confidently trust that God hears your prayers, and He answers them with amazing, awe-inspiring deeds.

Hope in God is like an unbreakable spiritual lifeline, anchored securely in the One who holds the world in His hands. Believe in the truth that God is bigger than anything you are facing and have faith that nothing is impossible for Him.

Place your trust in Heaven’s Hope ~

  • We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure.  Hebrews 6:19a
  • May the God of Hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.  Romans 15:13
  • The Lord is good to those whose hope is in Him, to the one who seeks Him.  Lamentations 3:24
  • Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope: Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness. Lamentations 3:21 – 23
  • But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint. Isaiah 40:31
  • But the eyes of the Lord are on those who fear Him, on those whose hope is in His unfailing love, Psalm 33:18 

 

 

Say it Forward

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good morning suwanee

Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth,

but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace to the hearers.

Ephesians 4:29 KJV

Words are powerful.  The right words spoken at the right time can bring about a glorious sunrise in someone’s soul.  You never know when one encouraging comment can set someone’s life back on course and turn them in the direction of God’s destiny for their future…or even their eternity!    Positive words are powerfully uplifting, while negative, corrupt words are powerfully destructive.   Do your words “minister grace” to those with whom you communicate?

Anxiety weighs down the heart, but a kind word cheers it up.  Proverbs 12:25 (NIV)

King Solomon, perhaps the wisest man who ever lived, said this about our words, “What you say can mean life or death.  Those who speak with care will be rewarded.” Proverbs 18:21 (NCV)  “The tongue has the power of life and death…”  Proverbs 18:21a(NIV)  Anything that has the power of life or death is serious business!  Allow this truth to penetrate your mind and heart, and realize that careless words spoken in moments of frustration or anger can have devastating effects.  Encouraging, uplifting and inspiring words can have the effect of a refreshing rain shower on a drought stricken land. 

Thoughtless words cut deeply like a thrusting sword, but the speech of the wise is a healing balm.  

Proverbs 12:18 (VOICE)

Try this “word edification experiment” today:  Focus on your communication with others, and only allow yourself to speak words that will build up and bless those around you.  Consider this a day in which you are a “minister of grace” to all who hear you speak…your spouse, children, co-workers, store clerks, waiters, receptionists, bank tellers, and anyone else with whom you might come in contact.  If you are a teacher, coach, parent, manager, boss, minister, team captain, or any other kind of leader, you are in a unique position to inspire those individuals whom you lead.   For some of us this experiment may be extremely challenging, but at the end of the day take note, not only of how you feel inside, but also your perception of how others responded to your edifying words.  Similar to the “Pay it Forward” project in which one good deed for another can start a ripple effect of kindness around the world, this “Say it Forward” project could start a ripple effect of encouragement and inspiration around your community and beyond. (Imagine if our world leaders became part of this movement?!)  Your kind, uplifting words to another might prompt them to speak kind words to someone else, and so on.  If enough people embrace this experiment, we could witness the transformational power of grace in exponential proportions!  

Remember, “What you say can mean life or death.  Those who speak with care will be rewarded.”  Let your words be a blessing to others.  Not only will you build them up, but you will also be rewarded in ways you could never imagine.  So get started with this “word edification experiment” and Say it Forward