Tag Archive: encouragement


Recently, during a phone call to schedule an appointment, I happened to speak to a woman named Monica. From the beginning of our conversation, I was struck by her congeniality. There was something powerfully disarming about her demeanor and the tone of her voice. She sounded like one of the most joyful people I had ever encountered. There was more to my reaction than her quick helpfulness and excellent phone skills. She had an extraordinarily pleasant personality. Although I had not met Monica, I was immediately comfortable in her presence, even though we were only speaking by phone.

A few days later, when my wife and I had the opportunity to speak with Monica in person, we both discovered that she was even more engaging and likable in person. At the beginning of our visit, Monica created a most comfortable and relaxed atmosphere. Her authenticity was undeniable. I cannot remember ever having such an experience upon meeting someone for the first time. I actually felt uplifted by our brief period of contact.

What does it say about our world when someone with a simple, unassuming, and polite personality makes such a lasting impression? I don’t think my reaction to Monica was due to a lack of contact with people. As a matter of fact, I think her charm stood out because of the contrasting episodes I routinely have with other people. It’s not that I encounter sour people most of the time; it’s that I rarely encounter genuinely pleasant people.

I relate this short story simply because this casual encounter was encouraging and caused me to reflect on my own disposition. I realized how easy it is to provide a moment or two of enjoyment for another person. I also concluded that what should be found in all of us—namely, a friendly and helpful demeanor—really stands out when you run into it.

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Memorial for Joe Vacossin

Early on Friday morning, a dear friend and brother left this world to be with the Savior. Joe was the quintessential “idea man.” He always had at least two or three projects bouncing around in his head. One of the first conversations I had with Joe focused on his desire to find a way to spread the Word of God using his experience and skills. He came up with a concept that involved printing Bible verses on pens, cups, water bottles, etc., with a web site address for those who might read the verse and want to know more about the Bible and Christianity.

I thought this was a creative way to introduce people to Scripture. I was more impressed, however, with Joe’s zeal for finding a means of serving the Lord as a layman. For one not called into ministry as a vocation, he had an unusual drive to make a contribution to the work of the church.

Another quality I found personally humbling was Joe’s frequent questioning about how he might better order his life for God’s glory. He wanted to know how the teaching of Scripture should be applied to his marriage, his job, and his friendships. That was a sure sign that the seed of the gospel, which was planted in Joe’s heart by the Holy Spirit, was flourishing.

Beyond what I’ve described, Joe was my friend; and I will miss him. He was always kind to me and went out of his way to ask about my well-being when I was ill or when I was facing some disturbing development in my service as a pastor. Joe probably didn’t realize how encouraged I was by his concern.

Right down to the last days of his earthly life, Joe maintained a serious regard for his testimony to medical personnel, family, and friends. His courage and trust in the Lord will always be an inspiration for those of us who knew him. We all look forward to the day of reunion in the presence of our Savior, Jesus Christ.

“We give thanks to God always for all of you, making mention of you in our prayers; constantly bearing in mind your work of faith and labor of love and steadfastness of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ in the presence of our God and Father, knowing, brethren beloved by God, His choice of you.” (1 Thessalonians 1:2–4)