Do you ever wish you had a "home on the range"? You know, the range. The place "where never is heard a discouraging word." Ever wish you could live there?

We should never underestimate the power of a discouraging word. There is a reason discouraging words are called discouraging words... they discourage.

You've received them.

You played your best. You gave it your all. You "left it all on the field." You helped your team win the game. After the game your dad reminded you that you missed a couple of tackles.

You practiced and practiced for your part in the school play. You memorized all your lines. You performed well. You were dubbed the "Star of the show" in the school paper. On the drive home your mother pointed out that in one scene your collar was not laying down like it was supposed to.

You worked hard on the project. Logged more hours than on any job since joining the firm. You won the account. Your team goes out to celebrate a job well done. Your boss stops by to commend you for your leadership, but reminds you that the deal could have been closed much sooner if you had followed his initial suggestions.

You worked all afternoon on a special birthday dinner. All his favorites prepared just the way he likes them... just the way his mother always cooked them. You greet him at the door with his favorite drink and usher him to the table, and you're wearing his favorite outfit. He eats. He seems to enjoy it. You are holding your breath. As he gets up from the table he mutters, "Oh, man! That took so long we missed the kickoff."

You've given them.

Your daughter has worked hard to get the scholarships she needs to attend the college she has dreamed attending — your alma-mater. She is trying so hard to make you proud. She runs to you with her acceptance letter. You read the letter, hand it back to her and say, "Is that the only offer you've gotten?"

We know the power of discouraging words.
Your best friend calls you to tell you that she is engaged. She is excited and wanted you to be the first to know. You are excited and thank her for calling you, then quickly change the subject to your horrible bad day.

You know that your friend from church is having a tough time. His marriage is struggling. His job situation is tenuous. He recently lost his mother to cancer. He tries to keep up a good front, but you know he's struggling. One day during lunch, he opens up and shares the whole story. You listen sympathetically, but somewhat impatiently, until he finally finishes. He asks you what you think. You respond by asking him, "How is your prayer life? Sounds like you need to be in the Word more."

She worked all afternoon on a special birthday dinner for you. All your favorites prepared just the way you like them... just the way your mother always cooked them. She greeted you at the door with your favorite drink and ushered you to the table. She wore your favorite outfit. You eat. You enjoy it. She is holding her breath. As you get up from the table you mutter, "Oh, man! That took so long we missed the kickoff."

We know the power of discouraging words. We've received our share. We've given our share. We know their pain when they are spoken to us. We find out, usually too late, the impact of our words on those we love. We try to ignore their power, but we cannot.

Let's make this place and time our "Home, home on the range..." and encourage one another:

Encourage one another daily, as long as it is called "Today," so that none of you may be hardened by sin's deceitfulness (Hebrews 3:13 NIV).