About the Notes of Encouragement.....
Do you read the replies to the Notes and do you ever answer them?
Yes! I love getting them and I read every single one that comes in. Unfortunately we have grown to the point were I can no longer answer them all. I once did that as well, but now there are just too many. Also, we are receiving more and more replies from those who are seeking direction in their lives. So I tend to focus on those as much as possible and help provide them with hope and encouragement they may not be receiving.
Why do you mix humor with serious stuff?
I believe it is important to have some kind of relationship with the reader and the best way for me personally is to let people know who I am. This means writing about the dumb things I've done as well as the smarter ones. I can write in a deathly serious way, but that's not really me nor is it the best way for people to learn. In life there is much sorrow, grief, pain and hurt, but there is also much laughter, joy and happiness. Jesus used all of these in His teachings because He touches all of life, not just a portion of it. And all of life is what we want to present to our readers, regardless of what the specific topic may be.
One of the problems many writers have is they tend to teach from such an exalted position that the average reader feels disconnected, often thinking there's no way they can ever be like the writer. Well, I want people to know me and come to understand that if I can come through, deal with, understand, or do whatever it may be, then they can too. That's why I make no claim to having the gift of encouragement. I have to work at it. And I believe this is also God's message to so many people: "If Chuck can do this, you can, too."
Do people ever complain about what you write?
Sure. Usually they are very respectful and simply present a different argument which leads to a different conclusion. Those are great because when I can understand their position, then I'm able to study more and hopefully carry on a deeper discussion. I've had such contact with Muslims, Buddhists, Orthodox Jews, Hindus, and members of Wicca, as well as many Christians.
But occasionally we receive some very hateful email, too. They rarely present any argument or basis for their position, but just take it as an opportunity to attack. I also reply to those and ask for the basis of their position, and on a few occasions I've been able to change their minds about a few things. More often though, these people have no real belief but just want to argue.
Why do you think you have the right to write these Notes?
I don't think of it as asserting right, but following a direction. I write the Notes because God has told me to. That may sound simple, but that's pretty much it. The day He says to stop, I will. While I enjoy the writing and especially communicating with people around the world, it is very tiring work. The average Note takes about 6 hours to write, so it's not a small effort.
You write with authority. How do you do that?
The authority does not rest in me. I write about what I know to be true as it concerns my life and experiences, but the only authority that matters is that expressed in the Bible. Whatever Note goes out is the one I'm convinced is the Note God has chosen for that week and I write what I believe He wants me to say. Hopefully I don't mess that up. But the authority is from His Word and each Christian has the responsibility of sharing God's Word with others.
How can you bring yourself to share so much of your life, problems, difficulties, pain, etc.?
At first, writing the Notes was a very difficult thing to do. Obviously I don't know the vast majority of people who read them, and there was always the thought, "What will they think of me?" That can be scary, especially when you're writing about your own failures. But along the way I've realized a few things.
The Apostle Paul said he wanted to share in Jesus' sufferings. I once thought that was a pretty dumb thing to want. But now I understand it a bit better. No one can comfort another like the one who has "been there, done that". Others can do our best, but it's never quite the same.
I write openly about the experiences of my life to let my readers know that I've been where they are, I've felt what they feel, and I understand what they are going through. Have I experienced everything? No, and don't really want to. But I have experienced a lot. Sometimes we look at a tragedy and can't find any reason or sense in it. Still, in time we can use it to help or comfort someone else.
The responses we receive from our readers confirm this. Each week we hear from people around the world who have been touched in some way by a Note. Often it's something that I did not think was important when I wrote it, but God did and He used it in reaching out to a particular person. And it has been absolutely amazing how He has helped so many people in this way. All I have to do is be willing to share my life.
How do you come up with these Notes each week?
I get asked that a lot. The simple answer is, It's all God. He's given me a different way of looking at...well, pretty much everything. People, places, events, a grain of sand, a mountain. For me, everything has a lesson to be discovered and I find that very exciting. I just have to be quiet, listen, and observe, then God uses whatever it may be to teach me. Sometimes it's something I've never considered before. At other times it's a better understanding of what He's already told me.
And it's not always something for me to write about. We've had a great group of writers for the Notes, each with his or her own special message. While often frustrating for them to have to wait for their Note to be published, it's been a lot of fun for me to be in the position of hearing God say, "Now's the time to send this one. Someone you'll never know needs to read this."
Listening, being patient and aware of what's going on around me, and following God's lead. That's it in a nutshell. And I have to admit, many times I'm just as amazed at what comes through in these Notes. I give God all the credit for that. I'll take credit for the typos.
Do you answer theological questions?
Yes and no. It is almost impossible to encourage someone without occasionally touching on theological issues. After all, the ultimate goal of Biblical encouragement is helping someone develop and deepen their walk with God. So theology is at the very foundation of what we do.
While we do get advice and direction at times from Bible experts, those who know Greek and Hebrew, and a considerable number of Bible commentaries, it is not the calling of this ministry to take the place of seminaries or Bible scholars. I never hesitate to offer my interpretations or explain why I may differ from a commentary or another Bible teacher, but there are many areas in which we simply do not have the training or knowledge. In those instances, we try to help our readers in locating the material or people they need in finding their answers.
Can I print and share the Notes?
Yes. In fact, we encourage that. Because there are copyrights involved, we have a few simple rules we ask everyone to follow. They are quite easy and no one has ever mentioned having a problem with them. These can be found on our web site under Notes of Encouragement.
How did you get my email address?
Good question. I honestly don't know, but this is probably what happened.
Ciloa is an international encourager's ministry and through our Notes of Encouragement, we reaches more than 26 million people in about 130 countries. Because the Notes go to so many people, we receive a lot of email, and many of these are from people asking us to send the Note to friends and family.Â Sometimes the requests come from prayer ministries as a way of giving encouragement either to the people they are praying for or to those who are doing the praying.Â So from time to time we may send a special Note or even an offer to be on our distribution list.
But we are committed to protecting our current and potential readers. Through more advanced subscription programs, no email address can be added without that owner's specific authorization. So whether it's a relative, friend or hacker, no one can sign other people up. And we never release email addresses to anyone for any reason.