Tuesday, November 18, 2014


Do you want to hear a great verse from the New Testament that I almost never hear quoted?  It is Philippians 4:1, "Therefore, my brothers, you whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, that is how you should   stand firm in the Lord, dear friends!"  This statement that comes toward the close of Paul's letter to the church in Philippi is a very telling statement.  It reveals the heart of the apostle of Christ for his brothers and sisters in the family of God. He openly professes his love for them and the fact that he misses them. He openly refers to them as his 'joy and crown.'  I am struck by the easy way that he speaks of his feelings for the community of Christ-followers.  He goes on and actually names the names Euodia and Syntyche and Clement.
Do you know how rare it is for people to be in a church that has this kind of open verbal expression of affection?  The atmosphere of affirmation is often lacking in the very place where it should be breaking out, certainly much more than at an Amway rally or a Herba-Life convention.
What is it that causes us to restrict ourselves from speaking words of appreciation and affection to one another?  Some kids never hear it from parents at home.  Some coaches never learn that building confidence through affirmation produces more winners than constant intimidation, belittling and manipulation ever will.  Some students get criticism and correction from teachers, but they seldom get compliments.
In Hanz Finzel's book, The Top Ten Mistakes Leaders Make, the number two mistake he identifies is the 'absence of affirmation.'  I long ago decided that will not be the case as I lead my family, nor will it be the case in my leadership in the community of the Christian college or the church. Are there times for correction and confrontation?  Indeed there are such times.  But, those times are fewer and farther between if there is openly expressed friendship and praise.
So, leave nothing encouraging unsaid to those in your circle of family and friendship because, as Paul said, 'This is how you ought to stand firm in the Lord.' There is something about genuinely caring and expressing affection for others in the church that strengthens your own spiritual life.
Pray with me.... Lord, we do not find it hard to love, praise and thank you for all you mean to us and all you have done for us.  Help us to put a higher priority on doing the same for those to whom we are bound by your cords, which cannot be broken in the family of God.  
In Jesus' name, amen.

Pastor Ken

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