Encouragement Blog

Jan Whitmore (nee Rowland)

Jan 429873 Author picture Janice WhitmoreWelcome to my blog. In this fast changing world it is good to meditate on the eternal words of the Bible - they will always remain relevant, stable and constant. I write to stir faith in the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, challenging believers in Jesus to lay hold of the Word of God to the point of transformation of heart. We must hear the Word and do it; listening carefully to the voice of the Lord and being immediately obedient.

I am thankful for the growing faith in my heart and that God still speaks to instruct me in His ways. The older I get the more I realise that whilst the world seeks some new thrill every five minutes, it is only the ancient paths of God that satisfy. Join me and let's learn together.

Currently, my written blog is on hold while I record discipleship-teaching videos. I hope to start making these videos available from 2021. Watch this space!

 

 

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  1. Seasons exist for our blessing; they are God’s eternal rhythm for a healthy and productive life. Recognising that seasons do change is crucial in maintaining orderliness, stability and peace. We should never think we will have a perpetual summer; it’s not natural, neither is it spiritual. God ordained seasons to govern not only creation, but also our lives. Seasons move on. They let us know what to do and when and we must discern their message. Has the sowing season finished for now? Is fruitfulness communicating that we need to work hard to bring the harvest in? Is the weather getting cooler, indicating something is closing down or ending – in which case, quit trying to keep something going. Seasons communicate messages from God! They contain an orderly pattern that sets good boundaries for our body, soul and spirit—boundaries, which give rise to spiritual and natural healthiness and balance. Any season is glorious in its own right; however, the sum of the four seasons displays the beauty of God’s covenant love and care. Are we taking seasons to heart as we organise our priorities, work, households, leisure and church activities?  

    In England, the trees are getting ready for winter; a time of dormancy is coming. As they eagerly anticipate their rest, after a busy and productive summer, they are in full colour—rich gold, bright yellow and vibrant red in their leaves—the last flourish of glory before they fall to provide nutrients to the soil for the spring. God never wastes what falls from our lives it provides nutrients for seasons ahead. If there is no winter dormancy, there is no spring growth. Winter is a blessing!

    Ecclesiastes 3:1 reminds us that to everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under heaven. With metronomic rhythm, seasons hold all life together. To resist, ignore, deny or even delay seasonal change means we are not synchronised with God, placing unnecessary stress on our lives.

    If we ignore or truncate the winter season of “coming apart and resting for a while” (Matthew 11:28—30) we will literally “rub against God’s grain” and eventually “come apart at the seams”. Then, an enforced time of rest is surely waiting round the next corner. We burn out because we continue to work full steam ahead in the season that God ordained for us to rest (God’s winter season). That is disobedience.

    Intercession hands raised to GodWe will rediscover God’s seasonal rhythm by adding the following:

    1. Rediscover personal prayer. Establish a habit of finding a nook in which to sit down; be alone with God. Switch off all distractions! Close your eyes and allow your “being” to be absolutely still before our sovereign God. Then whisper, “Lord, speak to me.” Wait for His voice. Wait, linger, and anticipate.
    • Most of what we call prayer is not really prayer – how seldom we take time to wait on God before we plough ahead with an endless stream of requests.
    • In Tweeting terms, our prayers are just “likes, mentions or retweets”—shallow! Let’s restore the gentle rhythm of perpetual prayer, acknowledging God in every part of our life. (1 Thessalonians 5:17; Proverbs 3:6)
    • Give thanks to the Lord at every point of the day.
    1. Learn to meditate on God’s Word. Soak, quit Bible-dipping. Meditate on God’s Word everyday spending at least 15 minutes on a few verses asking the Holy Spirit to explain the Word. (Psalm 119:15 - 16)

     “But Jan, I’m busy, I don’t have time…”  

    Personally, I feel that insults God. I don’t accept that we don’t have time. My own busy life tells me that I have time for those things that captivate my mind and heart.

    • Why is there always time to check every vibration of a mobile phone, but there is not time to be in the presence of God?
    • Why is there time to while away hours on Facebook or play golf, but there is no time to meditate on the Word of God?
    • Why is there time to watch our favourite TV programme but no time to schedule spiritual fellowship with other believers?

    Our priorities reveal where our heart is! God wants to be first. It actually is within His right to demand our love and attention; after all, we surrendered our lives to Him. However, like any generous lover, He waits for us to want Him! Pray for the return of a deep and passionate love for God. All said it is simple. If we restore the rhythm of God’s seasonal blessing, we will prosper. 

  2. Believers are crying out for God to meet their needs. God hears their cry and immediately sends the Helper and angels on assignment to come alongside, comfort, console, and encourage; their task is to steady the ship and put courage, boldness and steadfastness back into the hearts of God’s people. However, the Holy Spirit seeks co-workers!

    Many are wounded, hurting and in pain. Some are offended, disillusioned and disheartened. Some have become loose in their morals and are about to commit adultery. Behind closed doors, some are abused and shamed. Some are on the edge of self-harm. Many are lonely and keep themselves on the perimeter of fellowship life. Others are in debt and don't know where to turn. Others are in the grip of pornographic addiction. Christian relationships are fragmented and torn; family life is suffering. These situations may not be so easy to spot because pride keeps them well masked; however, they occupy seats in our congregations Sunday by Sunday.

    Hug MarithaThe ministry of encouragement flows through a Spirit-filled life. It selflessly focuses on the strengthening others; it gladly considers ways to be a blessing and impart a blessing. It is impossible not to love, care, comfort, pray, and give when we are full of the Spirit—these actions are some of His primary ministries! Therefore, if they are not our primary ministries, we need to check with what we are filled! Have we become blind and insensitive to the needs of others? Are “we” the focus of our lives? The Holy Spirit is always alert to the needs of others.

    • We need encouragement to stay strong and faithful in looking up to God in belief and hope
    • Encouragement to repent and be cleansed from sin
    • Encouragement to walk in the Spirit and not the flesh
    • Encouragement to be righteous
    • Encouragement to study God’s Word and pray fervently
    • Encouragement to give generously to the needs of others.

    Are we sensitive to the body language of others—the bowed down, the heavy heart, the distant eyes? Did we observe the silent tears in worship as pain could no longer hold itself back? Who walks into church alone and leaves without anyone speaking to them? Do we see those who don’t hang around at the end of services? Who arrives late and leaves early? Who was missing last Sunday? What marriage seems strained? Who is causing dissention? Who stays at home because they have no means of getting to church? Who looks exhausted?

    Encouragement is not complicated—it is simple—it is being available to the Holy Spirit, to see what He sees and act as His agent.

  3. After my husband, Des, passed away, 4 April 2011, I began to experience unexplained episodes of nerve-pain.  His passing was expected but the shock hit me harder than I could have imagined. I entered a lonely and dark tunnel of deep loss. In the beginning, the physical pain was mild, but as grief, compounded with other losses, became acute. I seemed to have nerve-end flare-ups simultaneously with surges of emotional upset or nervousness.


    Earlier this year (2014), in South Africa, it flared up again. Pain soared and energy levels sank to an all-time low. A South African doctor diagnosed fibromyalgia and treated the symptoms with regular cortisone injections and anti-inflammatory tablets. It soothed and certainly helped, but it did not heal.

    Fibromyalgia is a debilitating illness. Symptoms include intense muscle pain that may change location and grow worse from day to day, disturbed sleep, raw nerve ends, as well as extremely tender and painful points on the body. It is believed that trauma and stress lie at the root.

    For twenty-two years, Mintie Nel and I have co-directed a mission work called Mission Encouragement Trust (MET). MET is a registered UK Charity (1063403) which worked in close association with international Christian mission agencies since 1992, bringing care, support and encouragement to the worldwide mission community. In the early years, we travelled in a campervan pastorally visiting missionaries in Eastern Europe. For the latter 12 years, we hosted retreats for single missionaries in E. Europe, South Africa, UK and Israel. Now we were at the close of the ministry of MET, passing on the baton of care giving to others who share a call to encourage and support missionaries. God had a new assignment for us!

    MET Retreat May 2013In May 2013, we hosted our final MET training retreat in the Czech Republic. Twenty-nine missionaries, single and married, all appointed caregivers within their own mission-agency or local church registered.

    One evening, as I taught on the value and necessity of debriefing missionaries, I reflected on the structured debriefing (Debriefing at the Cross) I had received at Le Rucher, a pastoral care centre for missionaries in France (www.lerucher.org), in February 2012. However, just retelling my story of pain and loss once again made the nerve ends raw and sensitive. The bottom of my feet burned and my waistline and scalp were on fire. Exhaustion set in and I struggled to finish my seminar. As the evening ended, I slumped in a chair wiped out. Mintie duly gathered staff and missionaries to lay on hands and pray. I felt absolutely nothing, but I had a strong sense of Jesus standing beside me.

    As I got into bed that night, I could not even bear the sheet over me. My body throbbed and I called Mintie to pray again. With 5 days of the retreat to run, I knew I was in trouble as I had many leadership responsibilities yet to see through. I was desperate. I took a high dose of pain medication and an anti-inflammatory, and fell into a deep sleep. Amazingly, I woke in the morning thoroughly refreshed and pain free! I could hardly believe how well I felt. Was I healed? I was not sure and decided to wait and see if pain returned.

    Months passed without pain. There was no doubt; God had healed me of fibromyalgia. Added to that, the joy of the Holy Spirit had returned! I praise and thank God for His divine intervention in my life.

     

  4. JH Newman said, “Growth is the only evidence of life”.

    If I place a seed in the palm of your hand and ask, “What kind of seed is it?”, unless you are a very keen gardener, you would probably have to admit you don’t really know. A seed is so small and insignificant that you can be forgiven for not knowing what special treasure lies in the palm of your hand. It may become a beautiful flower, full of colour and aroma, a laden fruit tree, or a nourishing vegetable.

    Book signing Book and PenThe reality is that it will not become anything sat in the palm of our hand! We will never know what it is or what it can accomplish until it is placed where it was designed to be— into fertile soil. Isn’t it incredible that one tiny seed was created with the ability not only to fulfil its own destiny, but to produce many seeds of its own kind, securing future harvests. There is inexhaustible potential in one seed—God made it that way!

    This is why God likens His Word to a seed; it has the very same potential when it is placed where God intended it to be—in the soil of our hearts. It is a seed that has all the power and ability not only to transform our lives, but the many lives we touch and influence if it is indeed growing within. It is only when God’s seed is planted deep into the soil of our hearts that we discover its true creative and transformational nature. So, if God’s seed is as good as the Bible tells us it is, we have to ask the question as to what prevents it doing its transformational work. We know there is absolutely nothing wrong with God’s seed, so guess where the problem lies!

    • Like me, have you ever wondered why some believers are radically changed while others remain spiritually lacking, indifferent and immature?
    • Why do some get saved but never experience an ongoing transformation of heart?
    • Why are some Christians as unchanged in their thinking and behaviour as the day they acknowledged Jesus? Just opening their mouth can give away where they are at.
    • What hastens and what hinders growing strong in our faith?
    • Is there a problem with the seed, or is there a problem with the soil?
    • What is it that contaminates, clutters, and captivates a heart, stifling spiritual development? What is a pure heart?
    • Why, when we have heard so much Bible teaching has our heart and life been changed so little?

    Sow What?, a discipleship experience based on the parable of the sower, is the culmination of twenty years of searching out answers to these questions. Jesus answers them in the parable of the sower! Therein lies the keys to dynamic transformation and spiritual growth. Therein also lies insights as to why many have ceased to grow spiritually. If we do not plant God’s seed into good soil in our hearts there can be no harvest!

    This book invites participants into a season of intentional seed-planting, cleansing and transformation. It is a discipleship experience written for small groups, packed with challenge and insight, written to help participants discover and experience the dynamic spiritual growth concealed within the DNA of one tiny yet efficacious “seed” – the Word of God.