Crickets Chirping: The fading act of encouragement.

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It’s the age-old sound that signifies one thing.

Silence.

And that, in and of itself, is a weird thought; we have a sound that is symbolic of silence.

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In my personal devos, I am trekking through the book of Acts. After reading thought the riot breaking out in Ephesus (Acts 19), I read a single verse in Acts 20:1 that caught my attention.

After the uproar ceased, Paul sent for the disciples, and after encouraging them, he said farewell and departed for Macedonia.

Paul’s immediate response to what broke out in Ephesus was startling.

He didn’t break out in anger.

He didn’t stop to be critical.

He didn’t picket the Ephesians.

He didn’t tweet a poisonous rant.

He sent for the disciples to encouraged them.

(crickets chirping)

I preached a message about 10 months ago about encouragement that I haven’t been able to let go of.  It has so moved me that I’ve been powering a whole series on the subject.  I am convinced “encouragement” is not necessarily lacking in our culture today.  In the age of sensitivity to age, sexual preference, race, etc., people, out of that sensitivity, are more apt to reach out and encourage others. I will admit, some of it is fear driven as to not offend or seclude someone. But in an age of sensitivity, I wonder if we have we, the church, lost the art of encouragement. Have we found encouragement absent in our christian communities?

(Crickets chirping)

I got a phone call yesterday that made my day. In what seemed to be a blur of a day, one moment came that caught me off guard. Matt had talked to me on Sunday, claiming he needed a few minutes of my time on Monday afternoon. There was an urgency in his voice that found me making sure there was time for him…even if it was between appointments. With his schedule, Matt wasn’t able to show up…but that didn’t stop him.

My office phone rang while another appointment was waiting in the reception for me.  It was Matt. He requested a few minutes because he needed to deal with something NOW and not later. I knew from his tone, the person in reception would need to wait a minute or two.

There was no issue or grievance. There was no bitterness. There was no problem.

Matt wanted to encourage me…And he wasn’t willing to wait another day to do it.

A message in the last series touched my life…thanks for making it simple to follow Jesus.

This wonderful moment that lasted but a few minutes rocked me all day and night.

I submit to you: we’ve let the crickets chirp way too much.  We have let silence shroud our encouraging tongue.  Instead of hearing simple gratitude or taking moment to build someone up, we walk by thinking either the moment will present itself again or someone else will do it.

What if it was us? What if it was the church?  What if the moniker of being “judgmental” was erased by the sound of our encouragement? What if the church had the urgency to look for the beauty of what Christ can do instead of being content to stare at the brokenness of the world we live in? What if the body of Christ eclipsed their time protesting with time spent encouraging?

What if Matt’s action began a moment that had the power to shape our world with a witness that “the kindness of the Lord leads to repentance?

Posting a picture with a scripture on your own Facebook is not enough.  Throwing a scripture in your tweet isn’t either.  Neither one of them are bad.  In fact, I’d take either one rather than gossipy or negative rants.  But we need to be more poignant with our encouragement.

Ask the Lord to lead you.  Don’t worry whether they attend your church or not.  Don’t worry if they believe what you believe. Don’t worry about what they think.  This is about encouragement and NOTHING else!!!

Call someone. Write a note to them.  Send a Facebook message to someone specific (not a group of people). Write out a card. Send a text. DO SOMETHING!!!

The church has done well speaking for what it’s against.  It’s time for the encouraging words of Christians to break the sound of the crickets chirping. What is holding us back? Are we so fearful of being “soft on sin” that we don’t allow ourselves to be an encouragement to an “unbeliever”? Are we too busy drawing the sacred lines in the sand distinguishing an “us vs. them” mentality?

Don’t let your life be defined by the “crickets chirping.”

Open up your mouth…shatter the silence…speak out an encouraging word into someones life.

Matt…I appreciate ya for rekindling my passion for encouragement! I hope he’s rekindled yours.

Thanks for letting me ramble…

pdbarringer

Anne's Husband. Cammi & Ethan's Dad Lead Pastor @kalamazoofirst

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