The Greek word parakaleo means ‘to invite; to come together; to console;
to comfort; to pray for; to walk alongside another. To encourage.’

dear ones, rejoice as you grow in faith in our Lord Jesus Christ. Be encouraged, for God’s great peace and love are with you. 2 Corinthians 13:11 (paraphrase).

encourage the disheartened, help the weak, be patient with everyone … encourage one another with these very words … 1 Thessalonians 5:14; 4:18

… May our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who loved us and by his grace gave us eternal encouragement and good hope, encourage your hearts and strengthen you in every good deed and word.2 Thessalonians 2:16-17

A word about Parakaleo.
Jesus warned of a time when greed would flourish, wickedness would increase and love would grow cold. Division and unrest would increase grow … nations will rise against nations, kingdoms against kingdoms … more famines, more earthquakes would occur. Four thousand years ago, the prophet Isaiah spoke of a time when people would call evil good and good evil, who would exchange darkness for light and say the bitterness of life was sweet.[1]

The destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah will be a hiccup in comparison to what is yet to come, Jesus inferred. Such things must happen, he said, because they are the beginning of birth pains of new life.

We read these words and they resonate with the daily newscasts. Israel is at war with Hamas … Ukraine is at war with Russia … tribal and civil warfare is being fought in Afghanistan, Congo, Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, Libya, Mali, Somalia, Sudan, and Syria. Recent earthquakes have leveled Adassil, Jajarkot, Nagano and Kabul. Cyclone Daniel flooded eastern Libya; unusually heavy rainfall drowned sections of Greece, Turkey, Brazil, Spain and Hong Kong. Wildfire turned Lahaina to ash. An earthquake leveled Japan’s Noto Peninsula; another one crumbled sections of Syria and Turkey. Volcanos in Iceland and Italy rumble threats of eruption.

If ever there was a time for God’s encouragement, it is now.

Scripture says, encourage one another with sound doctrine.[2]

Sound doctrine? Really? Many dismiss the Bible as archaic, inappropriate for today’s diverse societies and cultures. Old news. The prophet Zechariah pegged the number of those skeptics at two-thirds of the world population a couple dozen centuries ago.[3] Hasn’t changed much. Ironically, the Guiness Book of World Records tells us the Bible consistently remains the best-selling book in the world.[4]

I was recently asked, ‘What is the Bible about?’ I had a simple answer: ‘It’s a romance. It’s God’s love story for his beloved creation, his people.’

Being loved, cared for by the Creator of All Things in the midst of burgeoning chaos … I find that pretty encouraging.[5]

Personally, I have found the Bible to be relevant for all persons of all ages and all cultures. It’s a fascinating document filled with opportunities of learning and discovery. I could go on and on. I’ll offer a couple of clarifications instead.

Surely, there are a number of well-meaning faithful folk who read the Bible literally;  God bless ‘em. I’m not one of them. Rather, I believe that three basic standards have to prevail if we are to truly understand the Bible: 1) who wrote text? 2) to whom was the text written? 3) what was the intended purpose of the text?[6]  Considering that the Bible was originally written in Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek, I believe it’s rather presumptuous for anyone to say that any of our English versions fully capture the cultural and literary nuances of the biblical times in which they were written. Understanding the Bible also requires due diligence – at least on my part – to meet the criteria of those three standards.

In my forty-some years of digging into the Bible, trying to ‘get’ how it applies to the patchwork of cultural, societal and spiritual opinions, beliefs and practices in the U.S. today, I’ve learned a few things. Foundational things. Helpful things. Grace-filled things. Encouraging things.

I’d like to share them, hence this Parakaleo website. And because Jesus said, “freely you have received, freely give,” I offer this for your encouragement freely. No charge.

A word about the Via Maris Blog. Via Maris is an anthology of twenty-three short stories I have written, all focused on Jesus and his influence on people who encountered him – both in his time, and in ours. Beginning February 1, 2024, my first story will be published on this blog. A new story will be published on the first of each successive month.

A word about Pensées. Simply, Pensées are thoughts expressed in writing. Some of these are original by me. Some are by others authors. All are intended to clarify, to edify and encourage. All speak of God’s great love for his children

A word about me. I’m Pete Schipper, a retired pastor and counselor; did a few other things along the way: naval officer, haberdasher, HR director. Born and bred in Santa Cruz, California, spent a fair amount of time in other towns, cites and countries, eventually came back to Santa Cruz. No place I’d rather be.

A word about Ebenezer. This is my journey, my story of how I arrived at this time and place – of how Jesus changed and saved my life.

And a word about grace. Merriam-Webster defines grace as ‘a virtue coming from God; unmerited divine assistance given to humans for their regeneration of sanctification.’

It is my hope that all that is contained in this website is permeated with grace. So what is grace? In human terms, I see it as choosing to set aside one’s ego, deciding to abandon criticism and judgment in favor of accepting other people for who they are, right here, right now, warts and all. Don’t be in the business of passing judgment on others, Jesus said. Don’t criticize.[7]

At our moment of birth, we all have this in common: we’re all God’s kids. As such, it seems to be a good idea, a better idea, to give one another respect, kindness, love and grace. God’s creation – people – are truly wonderful. What we actually do with his creation – how we treat ourselves, others and this big blue marble we live on – as Hamlet put it, ‘there lies the rub.’[8]

Jesus said, “Love one another.” Good work, that. Hard work, sometimes. Not all of us are loveable. I think of Grace this way: it’s a vehicle for kindness and mercy, for faith and for love. Grace is an instrument of peace. Love is the basket we carry it in. Grace is not earned; it is a gift – absolutely the greatest gift in the world.[9] 

Lastly, a prayer: I would like to piggyback on the words the Apostle, Paul of Tarsus, in his letter to the church in Ephesus: His prayer, and mine, is for all who enter this Paraclete website:


I pray that out of his glorious riches Christ may strengthen you

with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that he may

dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being

rooted and established in love, may have power, together with

all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high

and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses

knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the

fullness of God.’ ~Ephesians 3:16-19


[1] Isaiah 5:20

[2] Titus 1:9

[3] Zechariah 13:8

[4] 2021 estimates are between 5 and 7 billion copies sold

[5] John 1:3; Genesis 1:1; Exodus 34:6

[6] In seminary, entire classes were devoted to this manner of study: hermeneutics and exegesis

[7] Matthew 7:1-2

[8]  William Shakespeare: Hamlet, Act III, Scene I

[9]  John 15:13; 17