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November 2013

Journey of a Lifetime


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Intersect 52


intersect, where the bible meets life


Trading Cards, the Minor Prophets, and Oxygen for the Soul

Nothing unusual—that’s how the morning in May started. For me, the teacher, it was office work: class preps, checking emails, reviewing the calendar. A gentle rap at the office door broke the routine, though. Hannah, one of my Old Testament students, came in wearing her usual mischievous grin.

“I made the cards for you,” she announced, handing me an envelope. “The cards? What cards?” I was a bit puzzled.

“The minor prophets trading cards!” she explained triumphantly, a bit exasperated at my languid response.

I opened the envelope and sure enough, there they were, in full color, 12 cards, each with the portrait of a minor prophet from my class PowerPointTM slides. She had even included their “stats” on the back, just like the baseball cards I collected when I was a kid!

My jaw dropped, and I know my heart broke into a huge grin. A few days earlier in class, as we studied those 12 books, I had casually mentioned that students might learn these prophets better if we had a series of “minor prophet trading cards.” That was it—off the cuff, a passing comment intended to engage and pique interest in the material.

Now, here they were, in my hands. Minor prophet cards!

I can’t tell you how it encouraged me that Hannah picked up on my comment and took time to do something so thoughtful. I may market those cards—and split the profit from the prophets with her. (Sorry, I just couldn’t resist.)

Isn’t the Lord good? And aren’t His people so like Him when that note of support arrives just when you need it? Or when a friend brings the dinner you weren’t able to prepare because an aging loved one needs your time and attention? When you look out and see a neighbor mowing your lawn because you just got out of the hospital?

Encouragement is the spice that seasons the spiritual gifts with just the right flavor of hope. Whether it comes in large or small helpings, a simple word or deed you offer to lift someone’s spirit can work wonders.


Check out the Bible’s catalog of encouragement:

  • A friend’s presence encourages. Paul sent Tychicus to Ephesus “that he may encourage your hearts” (Ephesians 6:22).

  • A supportive word encourages. “Judas and Silas . . . encouraged and strengthened the brethren with many words” (Acts 15:32).

  • Hope encourages. “Encourage the fainthearted” Paul reminds the Thessalonian believers (1 Thessalonians 5:14).

  • Love encourages. “That their hearts may be encouraged, being knit together in love” (Colossians 2:2).

  • Fortifying faith encourages. “I long to see you, that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to strengthen you—that is, that we may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith” (Romans 1:11-12).

  • Living in peace with each other encourages. “May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another, that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Romans 15:5-6).

  • The challenge of responsibility encourages. “We exhorted each of you and encouraged you and charged you to walk in a manner worthy of God,” Paul reminded the Christians at Thessalonica (1 Thessalonians 2:12).

  • A willingness to learn encourages. Paul instructs the Corinthians “so that all may learn and all be encouraged” (1 Corinthians 14:31).

  • Scripture encourages. God speaks to us “that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope” (Romans 15:4).

  • Christ encourages. “That their hearts may be encouraged,” Paul writes, “to reach all the riches of full understanding and the knowledge of God’s mystery, which is Christ” (Colossians 2:2-3).


A number of my friends have shared with me who and what encouraged them. Virginia’s words of appreciation lifted Glenn. Kevin’s friendship strengthened Mike. The Aakre family’s presence and support has blessed Cassandra T’s life. Encouragement for Susan came from two high school teachers—one wrote her a kind note and the other hugged her! “I was encouraged most by those who lived life with a smile,” Kam noted, “despite tough times or a hard life.”

A “care package” with goodies in college brightened Cassandra W’s day, and Helen’s kind words and lovely spirit did the same for Sandra. Bert’s notes of blessing boosted Beth. When Phillip and Mary were a young couple with infant twins, a kind lady sent them $100 grocery gift cards every month. What a blessing, and how encouraging!

Find someone you can lift up today. Encouragement is, as George Adams says, “the oxygen of the soul.”


Intersect: Where the Bible Meets Life is a regular column written by Dr. Garnett Reid, a member of the Bible faculty at Welch College. Visit his blog:



©2013 ONE Magazine, National Association of Free Will Baptists