Exhortation and Encouragement

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I have probably written about this before, but sometimes my mind turns on the same tracks and I think it's important to remind myself of things I rediscover.

When I was with the charismatic renewal, I was identified among the group as a prophet or as having the prophetic gift. But honestly, I didn't feel like a prophet and I didn't act like a prophet. I did not warn of the coming wrath nor did I convict others of their sins.

Over time I considered what I knew of what I had done with the group. (The experience was odd because it would no sooner come out of my mouth than I would forget what it was I had said, so I had to rely on the few notes I had taken and others had given me.) I discovered that there was nothing at all of the prophet about me. I did not announce God's wrath to come, I did not identify the sins of others and encourage them to renounce them and lead a straight life.

Rather then, as now, I announced the Father who loves us, the Savior who cherishes us, the God who slaughters the fatted calf to welcome us back, time and time and time again. At one time I gave the word "exhortation" to this gift. But an exhortation is a hair's breadth from a harangue. I think of my gift now in terms of encouragment.

Time and again people come to me despairing of themselves, of God's love, of God's help, of others, and it is my pleasure and my privilege to remind them of the God who loves each one of us as if we were each the only child He had. Encouragement, always to turn from our present ways which satisfy neither ourselves nor God and rejoice in our privilege of conversation, of deep and abiding love.

I hope always to hold on to this great gift. I derive encouragement from places people see none (St. John of the Cross for one) and I hope always to be a source of encouragement to those who feel that they cannot go on, they cannot progress, they cannot grow. Of course one can't if that is how one approaches the question.

No one can will him or herself to heaven. No one can even will him or herself to better prayer. All that one can do is pray, rely on God, and when the grace comes, seize it and live it. God will perfect our prayers, He will give us the words. He will help us lead lives pleasing to Him, all we need to do is turn to Him and ask. The grace is always there and He rejoices in our little requests. He is the Father who loves us above all things--even above His own self.

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A prophet is not limited to one who predicts the wrath of God. He is one who calls us to God, who points the way. Your gift falls into that category, too.

Thanks for sharing it with us!


Thanks for this...it is exactly what I needed to read today to remind me of what my role is supposed to be. Sometimes I let things drag me down so much that I forget to 'exhort and encourage'...thanks!

Your site reflects your heart of hospitality, encouragement and charity. One never leaves this site having been derided. There is very seldom any unkindness seen on this site, certainly not by you, and you don't hesitate to rebuke it. Thanks for uplifting all of us.



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This page contains a single entry by Steven Riddle published on January 20, 2006 8:17 PM.

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