The Gift of Prophetic Encouragement

The Gift of Prophetic Encouragement WAYNE CV

 

For many people the word prophecy triggers strong visceral responses. Sometimes those responses are based on misunderstanding or experiences that were negative, confusing, or hurtful. Sometimes those responses are formed from a hodgepodge of bits of information without a foundation of biblical teaching. Sometimes those experiences create confusion or fear, but I think the Lord would want each of us to understand the truth on this subject.

 

Whatever your background or understanding, Debbie Kitterman’s new book, The Gift of Prophetic Encouragement, Hearing the Words of God for Others, is a book that includes clear descriptions of what prophecy is, what the Bible says about it in both Old and New Testaments, and her own journey with prophecy. Whatever your own background, this book presents a balanced approach to this topic.

 

Debbie is passionate about how prophetic encouragement can result in encouragement to others. Here is her definition:

 

“The spiritual gift of prophecy is speaking Holy-Spirit inspired words of edification, exhortation or comfort to individuals. Prophetic encouragement is something every follower of Christ can give to others in his or her day-to-day life. This simple truth opens our eyes to the ordinary nature of prophecy, which breathes life, love, and hope into the dry places of our lives.”

 

Prophetic encouragement begins by having an authentic relationship with God, spending time with Him, knowing Him through the Word, hearing from Him, listening to Him, and responding to Him.

 

It develops not only through going to church, worshipping, reading the Word, and praying, but also experiencing a two-way conversation with Him that is personal and intimate. Within such a relationship, the Lord speaks to us through many means. We can sense Him through creation, music, stories, messages, and as He speaks to our hearts. He wants us to know Him as He is.

 

Often our view of God is impacted in ways that cause us to see Him as impersonal, distant or indifferent. When we see Him in those ways, it affects everything about our relationship with Him. When the curtain was torn from top to bottom in the temple on the day Jesus was crucified, it represented the end of the separation between God and His people. He didn’t just want us to have knowledge about Him; He wanted us to know Him.

 

You may be thinking this is outside of your experience, but let me suggest you consider if the Lord has ever brought to mind a scripture passage for you or someone you love that felt so personal that it encouraged and comforted your heart or theirs. That is likely true for many of us if we have known the Lord for any length of time.

 

Perhaps you have had someone come to mind seemingly out of nowhere and took time to pray for that person, call them or go see them only to discover the person was in need of your prayers or words of encouragement. God led your interaction, words, and actions through the prompting of the Holy Spirit within you. That can be an example of the prophetic at work because the prophetic as we see it played out in the New Testament is about God’s heart of love extended in relationship. He wants us to reveal His nature to us.

 

Debbie sums up the focus of her book this way:

 

“The focus of this book is the spiritual gift of prophecy as it is portrayed in the New Testament, which is rooted in encouragement. It is not on the Old Testament story of prophets and foretelling. God wants us to communicate with us in the same way He did with Jesus when He walked on earth. Jesus’ relationship with the Father is prophecy in action…”

 

I think the balanced insight Debbie shares in this book will bless anyone who reads it and allows the Lord to reveal the truth of His heart of love and encouragement for each one of us.

 

Chosen Books provided me with a pre-release copy of this book that I have been blessed to read before the book is released August 21. I hope this review can give you a glimpse into this topic and Debbie’s heart. My pre-ordered copy is one I will be sharing with someone else the Lord brought to mind.

 

 

 

 

The Gift of Transformative Relationship

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Undoubtedly no one who ever walked the earth compares with the Lord. He is the ultimate model of transformative relationship. No one who met Him in his earthly ministry could ignore Him without either accepting Him or rejecting Him. All these years later, the same is true. You cannot read about Him or hear about Him without making a choice even if it is not your intention. A decision not to choose Him means you have chosen to be against Him.

A transformative relationship results in a thorough or dramatic change in the form, appearance, or character of the person touched by it.

There is no question He alone can transform us, but I think He also desires to use each of us who know Him to be vessels of transformation as well.

As I look in the rearview mirror at my life, I see gleaming points of light where such persons were used to bring me closer to the Lord, clarify my understanding of who He is and who I was and was meant to be.  Each of them walked into my life with listening hearts, gracious grace, merciful acceptance, unvarnished truth, and a love that would not stop believing in me and for me.

They didn’t preach at me or bombard me with scriptures or “how to’s. Instead, like Jesus, each took me where I was and modeled so much of Him that it was like I was reading a living letter that wooed me and moved me forward.

Could He have moved without each of them?

Of course.

He can do anything, but I needed to see it lived out after wounds from others who said one thing and yet lived out something different.

There was a very petite woman with lovely white hair whose home was the location of a Bible study she and her husband hosted. That Bible study grew until the house could hold no more people. So it was moved to a local Christian college campus.

It launched a shift in the lives of hundreds of believers in their city, but several personal things were nagging at me. I kept thinking I would speak with this sweet lady at the end of a Bible study, but the time never came. One day I summoned up all my courage and called her to ask if we could set a time to get together at some point. I was shocked and unprepared for her to suggest I come that very afternoon.

When I arrived at her home and shared the burden of my heart, she took my hand and simply stated without any hint of uncertainty: “You’re going to have victory over this today.” She prayed for me then and though I could not recall her words, I knew something had shifted within me as a result of the time we spent.

At another point in my life I sought pastoral counseling. I needed to discover what the missing pieces were. The person who met with me walked patiently with me as I processed my life’s story to that point and gently pointed me toward truth, light, and the pursuing love of Christ. Even though I had known the Lord, some wounds remained unhealed and I could not accept that Christ could really love me. What stunned me most was after knowing all that, he invited me to be a part of his lay counseling team.

These two and a few others sparkle as I look over my shoulder. They were vessels of transformative relationship. I also caught something from them – I wanted to offer that to others so they didn’t miss Him.

When you have been touched by a transformative relationship it not only transforms your relationship with Christ, it infuses you with a desire to offer that to someone else.

And it’s not about a program or a script. It’s about a relationship.

Perhaps it’s because Jesus understands that our greatest wounds happen in the context of a relationship with another fallen person or two that we encountered.

He also knows that the context of relationship with a transformed person is what we need to be made whole and see Him as He truly is.

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Bring Me A Vision

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Jesus was the master storyteller.

 

His ministry on earth was filled with stories. These stories used the people He met and touched to show us who He was and to point to the Father. He knew that He could have given a sermon or listed the facts to point to the truth he came to share, but He knew it would be a story that we would remember and teach us more powerfully than just facts or a theological treatise.

 

If we look at the Bible, we will discover stories about Him from Genesis to Revelation that show us truth, grace, mercy, and his pursuing love for us, his fallen creation. They echo in hearts long after our recollection of what book, chapter, or verse they appear in.

 

I am also persuaded that He wants us to know our stories are significant.

 

No matter who we are or what life we have lived, He has been the author of the story we are living and He alone knows the ending and his purposes for its design. Often we do not recognize that in our own story, but others around us see our story unfold and get glimpses we may miss. Those stories become the words of our testimony that He intends to use to honor and glorify Him and overcome all the devices of the enemy meant to distort and dissuade us from believing in Him, seeing Him, or trusting Him.

 

I want to invite you to read another story in my first book, Bring Me A Vision. The story will introduce you to a woman named Becky whose life was marred and broken from emotional neglect and repeated abuse, but the story doesn’t end there. When things seem as if they cannot get any worse and she comes to the end of herself, she calls a Christian counseling office on the recommendation of a friend.

 

There she will meet a woman she sees as quite unlike herself, but whose own life was once marred and broken. Even though it was not the counselor she had asked to see, it will be through that relationship she will meet the Lord and be transformed by His love. It will not be easy, quick, or neat as we all wish these things to go, but the author of her story placed this particular counselor in her life to show her his pursuing love and then walk with her into wholeness.

 

It is a story of redeeming hope, a story of transformation through relationship, a story that only the Lord could have imagined. It’s a story of vision.

 

The first vision is that of the counselor who sees beyond the brokenness in Becky’s life IMG_2667and senses the Lord’s great love for her. But as you read there will be other visions that unfold and lead to the founding of Rahab Ministries that reaches out and lifts up women and teens whose lives have been shattered through abuse and sexual trafficking. There will also be a vision for this book to share the story.

 

“Vision is the art of seeing what is invisible to others.”  Jonathan Swift

 

It may seem to be Becky’s story or sometimes a story of the two of us, but it is really God’s story played out in the lives of ordinary women chosen by an extraordinary God.

 

Bring Me A Vision has a message for each reader no matter where you are in your life’s journey. I hope He will show you more of his vision for your own story and encourage you to step outside the box and catch a glimpse of the wonder He wants you to discover. I hope it will cause you to see nothing is impossible with Him. But most of all I hope it will help you sense his enduring, pursuing, endless love and cause you to be an extension of that love, grace, mercy, and truth to others. May you never see anyone as beyond the reach of that grace as you seek first to listen to the story of the broken and allow the Lord to show you what He sees. Let Him invite you to set aside religious words you may know well so you can become a vessel of that pursuing love to those He brings into your life

 

The profits from the sale of the book will go to Rahab Ministries in Akron, Ohio, and can only be purchased at the Resources  tab on my website: www.pamecrement.com unless you live near me and can get a book directly from Becky or me.

 

Catch a fresh vision of Jesus in Bring Me A Vision.

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Are You A Lightener?

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You may wonder what I mean by that question.

 

If you are a “lightener,” people who spend time with you will feel refreshed and lighter because you have been with them.

 

In a Children’s Literature course in my college days, I completed a poetry project and loved Rachel Fields simple little poem entitled “Some People.”  The poem describes well what a lightener is.

Isn’t it strange some people make
You feel so tired inside,
Your thoughts begin to shrivel up
Like leaves all brown and dried!

But when you’re with some other ones,
It’s stranger still to find
Your thoughts as thick as fireflies
All shiny in your mind!

 

Lighteners encourage and come alongside us and we feel better for knowing them. They cue in on others around them instead of having a self-focus. They move on what they observe rather than not notice or simply observe. They usually see what they do for you as nothing special and yet those seemingly small things lift the burden we may be feeling.

 

Small acts of kindness appear to be the specialty of lighteners. The Holy Spirit seems to prompt them to come alongside us when we thought no one else had noticed what we Day-22-31Days-Be-a-Secret-Encourager-DL-Moody-Quote-on-doing-good.-AnExtraordinaryDay.net-were feeling or going through. They move into action without being asked oftentimes. They really respond with an empathy that shines the light of Jesus brightly. That brightness stands out because it is not common.

 

Our lives and schedules, our jobs and ministries, our own issues and concerns can cause us to miss those around us beginning with those with whom we live. It isn’t our intent, but it happens. Sometimes it happens because no one has noticed us and it has left us discouraged and turned our eyes inward. Sometimes it happens because we have given out so long that we are depleted.

 

As sons of Adam and daughters of Eve, we have difficulty with a balance between doing and being, serving and resting, encouraging and getting encouragement. We need to be recalibrated often by the Holy Spirit within us to balance these divergent needs and responsibilities.

 

I have learned one thing as I have observed myself with this struggle. If I see a lot of misalignment, it’s because I have set aside time first thing in the morning to sit in my favorite red chair and take some time in the Word with a pen and journal in hand. It can be easy to be too tired, too busy, or too scheduled to feel I can add that to my day. But that exposes the issue. It isn’t about adding it to my day. It’s about how I start my day and add everything else into it.

 

Even so, each of us needs to have a lightener who touches us, a day, or a circumstance in such a specific way that we are better and lighter for his or her presence.

 

It can be so easy to be critical. We are immersed in a culture where we are bombarded by critical words and attitudes that can seep into us and leak out of us.

 

Too often that happens within the context of Christian relationships and circles as well. Sometimes we set a standard for others that fits with biblical teaching absent the mercy and grace Jesus brought us. Satan loves it. He sets it in motion and we go along with his program without sometimes hearing what we have said or how we have said it.

 

Martin Luther King, Jr. exhorted us all well when he said these words:

 

“We must all learn to live together as brothers or we will all perish together as fools.”

 

To be a lightener we must break the habit of attaching so much importance to what people say and focus more on what the Lord has said and demonstrated through the life of Christ.

 

I love how the writer of Hebrews says in Hebrews 10:24 (TPT):

 

“Discover creative ways to encourage others and to motivate them toward acts of compassion, doing beautiful works as expressions of love.”

 

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Let’s Do Coffee Together

 

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Earlier this week a dear friend of mine made a date to get together for coffee at our favorite coffee shop. Actually, we may have other favorite shops, but this one has become the one that we always choose. Part of it is the location between our two homes. Part of it is the comfy faux leather chairs in the corner that we try to snag. We love coffee, but the coffee is really the opening act because getting together to talk is really the main event for us.

 

We have talked about many things back in “our corner” from marriage to parenting, our latest book choices, our spiritual lives, the latest ministry challenges, our hopes and dreams, our uncertainties, and foundational beliefs.

 

attractive-bar-barista-296888 (1)We take several hours to catch up and sip our favorite drinks and even though we spend two hours together, the conversation never stalls or winds down and we talk all the way to our cars. The coffee always runs out before the conversation. The finale of the conversation focuses on when we will be able to meet again for coffee.

 

What is it that draws so many of us to meet at a coffee shop for coffee to connect?

 

I looked around our coffee shop this week and noted how many of the chairs were filled. There were the usual folks on laptops alone and seemingly hard at work, but there were so many spots where two people were doing the same thing as I was, enjoying the conversation and company of a friend. I have seen men connecting over a Bible study, college students meeting around a group project, and of course, girlfriends like us meeting together for the sheer joy of the time together.

 

Perhaps we choose the coffee shop because we have bought into the ads for Starbucks, Peets, Caribou or other companies. Perhaps we simply love coffee. Perhaps it is because beverage-blur-breakfast-851555 (1)the coffee shop is an oasis from everything else in our day. Perhaps holding a cup in our hand provides some comfort or reassurance as we sometimes share the deepest parts of our heart.  Perhaps it provides the context for the real reason, that we enjoy connecting with one another in a relaxed environment and since we do so by appointment we actually set aside time to nourish relationship in the midst of our busy lives. We commit to it even if we need to keep circling the building for a parking spot or need to wait for two chairs to open up.

 

Getting together for coffee is actually code for, “I want to spend time with you” or “I want to share something with you”. The commitment and the appointment certainly also says something we also need to hear – “You matter to me and I value you”. It adds to a sense of community. That is key to our emotional, mental, relational, and spiritual selves.

 

Whatever way we may choose to connect or experience community with one another, architecture-building-chairs-1045199the vital key is to make time to do it and let the mysterious process of nourishing our souls happen.

 

Jesus was the expert on this.

 

As we read in the gospels we see the teaching to crowds, the healing of all sorts of maladies, the time alone with His Father, but do we also look at those connection times. They are tucked in before ministry and after time with the Father in Luke 6. They happen with his disciples, with his friends, Mary, Martha, and Lazarus as well as others.

 

I wonder.

 

Would Jesus hang out at our favorite coffee shop sipping an espresso or latte if He walked the earth now?

 

What a wondrous time that would be!

 

But maybe we can still experience a small taste of that if we find a favorite spot, get our favorite coffee drink, and spend one-on-one time sharing ourselves with Him, catching up, finding out what is on His mind and not simply handing Him our prayer requests.

 

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