Kindness

...now browsing by tag

 
 

May 17

Wednesday, May 17th, 2023

I’m continuing my series of posts on the ladies spoken about on Mother’s Day by several of our ladies.

Lady #1- Mary of Bethany

Lady #2- Tamar

Lady #3- Sarah

Today is Lady #4: Lydia

What is it like to be successful? Further even: what is it like to be successful as a woman in a male-dominated society?

Hmmm. We could ask Lydia…if she was alive.  🙂 In Acts 16 we read of a woman named Lydia, a seller of purple goods (v.14).  Industrious. Hard worker. A worshiper of God. Just being a seller of purple goods was enough to show her success. She also had servants. She had a house. She opened her home to Paul and Silas. After their release from the Philippian jail, they stopped at Lydia’s house on the way out of town to see her and the others who met at her house.

It takes a lot to be successful. Sure, there are those who are born with a silver spoon in their mouth, but not for a women, especially in that day.  Lydia had to be industrious. She had to be innovative. She had to be unafraid. What is interesting to me is that she actually operated with a double whammy: she was female and a worshiper of God. One was bad enough, but with both of those “on her record”?  Man or woman being a worshiper of God often meant isolation and loss of income.

One thing she cannot be accused of is being lazy. The Bible calls it sloth. Think of a sloth and the first thing which comes to mind is the animal that does everything in slow motion…very slow motion. But consider this: sloth doesn’t just mean sitting around all day watching TV and eating junk food.  It also means indifference. Apathy. It’s like standing on a street corner and watching all things go by and not giving a rip.

We have too much of that going on in our society these days. If it doesn’t affect me and my circle, why should I care? An earthquake in Turkey or California? A tornado in Oklahoma or Texas? (Big difference when one lands in your own “back yard” as it did here less than 2 months ago). A flood in TN. A shooting in NYC (and elsewhere).  If it doesn’t affect me it is “out of sight out of mind.”

It is too easy to get apathetic when it doesn’t involve us or people we love. Lydia shows us the importance of hard work. Her concern for others and their spiritual lives (see in Acts 16:15), and her concern for Paul and Silas show us how important it is not to be self-consumed. Let’s not forget who we are and how to serve others.

Then we must might learn what true success is all about.

May 8

Monday, May 8th, 2023

Common in many news cycles is the passing along of what are called conspiracy theories. The past several elections (and I’m sure future ones) have been filled with them. They are on both sides of the aisle-R or D; conservative or liberal; cultish or mainstream; religious or non-religious.

Conspiracy theories are nothing new though. In the days of Jesus, one that was passed along by those who wanted to downplay or deny the resurrection was that the disciples had stolen the body (Check out Matthew 28:11-15). The religious leaders bribed the Roman guards to spread the rumor, i.e. conspiracy theory, the disciples has stolen the body. They even said they would straighten it out with the authorities.

Theories about the resurrection abound. The wrong tomb theory (the ladies went to the wrong tomb). The swoon theory (Jesus didn’t really die on the cross; He just passed out.  He then revived in the cold, dark tomb, mustered enough strength to roll the stone away, overpower the guards and walk away).  Wrong person theory (someone took His place on the cross and was mistaken for Jesus). Tell me: how ridiculous do those all sound? The conspiracies go on and on-ad infinitum, ad nauseum.

Unfounded “truths.” Gossip. Slander. Lies. Mean-spirited words. All are part of a subversive element that should not be, but is, in the church. Relationships and friendships cannot survive with that kind of garbage being present in individual lives, and especially in a church.

Let’s stick to the facts, the truth. Let’s not pay one bit of attention to political conspiracy theories. And certainly not give any credence to conspiracy theories that make their way into the church. THEY AIN’T WORTH IT!  Let’s leave the conspiracy theories where they belong…in the trash.

May 4

Thursday, May 4th, 2023

It seems to me that in this world today, some people’s favorite sport is to tear people down, to cut them into little pieces, and then to spit them out. How tragic we think so little of others that we have made that our favorite sport.

I was reading a devotion by Pastor Greg Laurie in his book Every Day with Jesus when he shared a thought from radio Bible teacher, the last J. Vernon McGee.  He said that McGee used to say that the only exercise some Christians get is running down others and jumping to conclusions.

I wish I could say he was/is wrong, but I can’t. I’ve seen it too often-in myself-and in others. As I’ve aged, I would like to think my tendency to throw people under the bus to deflect blame and jumping to conclusions to justify my words or actions has lessened. I would like to believe I have become wiser, more discerning in what I think and ultimately say. 

Gossip and slander are ugly vices. They are both deadly sins. I’ve heard it put this way: before we say a word we should T-H-I-N-K. It is True? (Even if it is does it need to be passed on? See “K”). It is Helpful? Is it Inspiring? Is it Necessary? Is it Kind? If not, maybe we ought to just keep our words and thoughts to ourselves. Common vernacular: maybe we just ought to just keep our mouth shut.

Let’s stop running others down and jumping to conclusions. Let’s stop pressing down on others and start lifting/raising people up.  What do you say? Join me?

April 26

Wednesday, April 26th, 2023

Pete the Cat…Play Ball.

I suppose you might be wondering, “What in the world? Has Bill lost it?”  While some may have suspected that a time or two over the 70 years of my life, I have not. Least I don’t think so. 🙂   One thing I have learned is that lessons can be learned from a variety of places, people and events.  This past year I have had the A.B.S.O.L.U.T.E.L.Y.  most fun reading to the Kindergarten classes in our school district.  Five classes. Once/month. A different book each month. (The church’s youth pastor, Ryan, reads to two other classes).

This month was a read barn-burner-to the kids-but to me? Not so, but it wasn’t supposed to be. I mean, how excited can an adult get over a book read to Kindergarten kids about a cat? But the kids? They absolutely l-o-o-o-v-e Pete the Cat. They especially enjoyed Pete the Cat…Play Ball.

After I read I always try to draw out some lessons which come from the book. So…what did Pete teach them this time through?

  • Pete the Cat always tried his best. So should they. If their teacher has them working at their desk; if they are playing outside; if they are playing a game, they should always do their best.
  • Pete the Cat cheered his teammates on. The first batter got a hit and Pete yelled, “Way to go!” The batter after him (he struck out but tried his best) hit a home run. Pete yelled with a big cheer.
  • Pete’s team won. He high-fived the opposing team. The K-kids were quick to remind me they line up after the game and do that. They slap hands and say, “Good game” to their opponents.

I had fun reading and teaching the lessons, but their importance to me as an adult cannot be dismissed.

Do I always try my best or am I content with a lackluster effort? Do I look for shortcuts? Whether it is something I like doing or not, do I give my best effort?

Do I cheer others on with genuine support or am filled with envy and jealousy over another’s success? Do I see another’s efforts promoting the team or organization as good and not a threat to me? In my line of work (a pastor), am I happy to see Jesus promoted…no matter who does it?

Am I quick to high-five another’s success and not care who gets the credit? Competition in sports is good, but when someone becomes combative or cut-throat and resorts to cheating or gossip or back-biting, it spells the death of whatever good can be accomplished. I believe Ronald Reagan is credited with saying, “There is no telling how far an organization can go, and how it can succeed, if no one cares who gets the credit.”

Jesus once said, “If I be lifted up I will draw all men to me.” I realize He was speaking of His crucifixion, but it begs an action from me.  My motive should never be to promote myself, but to promote Him. Not doing my best; putting others down; taking the glory for myself, is not promoting Him or His work.

Let’s take it from Pete the Cat. Let’s leave the bad stuff behind and let’s promote each other, but most importantly, Jesus.

April 17

Monday, April 17th, 2023

Several weeks ago our community and surrounding areas experienced something we had never really experienced before-a tornado. We are more prone to flooding caused by the White River than a tornado. High and straight-line winds uprooted several huge trees-their roots made weaker by rain-saturated ground- in town. The state park just outside of town saw its campground destroyed-not by a tornado landing, but by the vortex, the suction of one passing over. Campers were flipped over. Tree-multiple trees-were uprooted and flung around like toothpicks, landing on campers and vehicles. And sadly two folks, who didn’t hear the warning to evacuate and head to the bathhouse were found dead in their camper. The tornado did land and wiped out multiple homes.

The Monday following the tornado, our Youth Pastor, Ryan, took two days to assess the situation, meet with some of the homeowners and offer help. He put feet to that by delivering over $600 worth of huge totes that the elders okayed for him to buy. But it wasn’t a one-and-done.

This past Saturday, after a special class presented by a group called IDES (International Disaster Emergency Services)-which ironically had been rescheduled from a few weeks earlier, several of our folks put on gloves, boots, and dirty clothes and spent over 3 hours helping some of the homeowners who solicited and accepted help.

I was proud of those folks. They became the hands and feet of Jesus. The common thing is to express sympathy and grief for a situation or loss and to say, “We will pray for you” and then go on our merry way. These folks said, “No. We will do more than that.” James 2 speaks directly to that. What good is it to say I’m sorry to hear you are hungry and without a place to lay your head, and then send them on their way with a “be warm and well fed.”

I believe those who helped were examples of what James 2:18 says, “You have faith and I have works. Show me your faith apart from your works, and I will show you my faith by my works.” We are saved by faith alone, but like James says our works should follow that salvation.

Big or small. Show your faith by what you do.

April 13

Thursday, April 13th, 2023

Anniversaries are dubious.

I remember once reading or hearing someone say that I ought to be aware of anniversaries in peoples’ lives.  He explained that by illustrating it like this: Our lives are like a circle that every year repeats itself in some way. Take a tire on a car or bike for example. You get a bulge or a nail in the tire and every time that tire makes a revolution, there is a bump (at least until the tire goes flat). My wife’s car tire recently had a screw in it. She could hear something but could not figure out what it was. She asked me to go for a ride to see what I thought and as she got in to drive I took a look at the passenger side front tire. There as plain as day was a screw. Another half revolution and she would have felt it again and I would not have seen it as quickly as I did. There, obviously, was no sense in driving! Every time that tire rotated it made a noise.

People’s lives are like that. Whenever a significant life event happens, a bulge is made in the “tire” of life. Every time the anniversary of that significant event comes around, emotions and memories kick in.  That’s why deaths, anniversaries (good and bad), highs and lows hit us as they do. Knowing this principle has helped me go a long way in understanding people’s ups and downs.

April 13 has two meanings to me. Today would have been my late mother’s 91st birthday. I watched her breathe her last breath in March of 2004, about one month before her 72nd birthday. (Is it bad that I can’t remember the exact date?) She died of a rare form of lung cancer which, at the time, mainly struck women who were non-smokers (like n.e.v.e.r.). Strangely, there is not a glitch in my tire. Even though I felt the loss at the moment, and as I did her funeral service, I rejoice at her reward. She is with Jesus and celebrating with her mother and father.

April 13, 1975 was also the day of my ordination into the ministry. I wanted to honor her witness and faithfulness by being set aside for the ministry on her birthday. She influenced me so much to follow Jesus and was so “proud” that all four of her boys served the Lord in some way. 48 “official” years today. So given my years of college ministry while still a student and the year following my graduation, I have been at this gig for 50+ years. There have been ups and downs but I wouldn’t trade it. The call of God on my life has been sure.

I’m grateful for my mother. I honor her today because her influence still remains in my calling to follow Jesus and to encourage others to do the same.  TODAY IS A GOOD DAY!

March 23

Thursday, March 23rd, 2023

Do you know what a cool bean is? No? Well some kindergarten kids in our school system do.

One of the programs I was involved in was called Real Men Read sponsored by the UW of Monroe County. I live in Owen County but it was a partnership since we don’t have one. Each month I would read to Mrs. Lee’s K class as part of the program. COVID shut the program down, although I was able to keep reading to Mrs. Lee’s class (we met outside when possible). I approached the K teachers (which my daughter, Tami, is one of) about restarting it and received 100% approval. Once a month I read to 5 different K classes in 3 different schools (1-1-3) and our youth pastor, Ryan, reads to three classes in the other school.

This month has been a book called The Cool Bean. Long story short: It’s about a bean who was left out of his pod of four beans. The other three became well known all over as The Cool Beans. He tried wearing sunglasses like they did. He tried slicking back his “hair.” He tried swagging when he walked. He tried acting cool.

He failed and was left out.

Then one day everything changed. One of the cool beans helped him when he spilled something. Another bean used a “beandaid” to cover a wound. And another helped in class.  He was included in the cool beans and they had his back. One day he saw a fellow bean fall and spill his books and papers everywhere so he asked if he could help. The other beans saw it and said, “Now that is C-O-O-O-L.”  Yeah…I know…cheesy. But effective.

The story taught several lessons. One I stressed to them is you’re not cool by the sunglasses or clothes you wear; you aren’t cool by anything outward. Then one of the little girls yelled out, “It’s inside. It’s your heart!”  “Absolutely right,” I told her. She got it. “Who you are, how you treat others is what really matters.” I also told them to go home and yell out to their parents, “I’m a cool bean! and when they wonder what you are talking about, show them the book.” (The three teachers yesterday bought them the book I read to take home).  “Then, ask them to read it to you.”

When Samuel was choosing a successor to Saul as king, he had Jesse bring his sons before him. Each one he thought was the right specimen. But God had other ideas. “Man looks on the outward appearance, but God looks on the heart.” Case closed.  (And no, I didn’t tell this part of the lesson).

Being accepted, being loved, is not really determined by our outward appearance. Surface is not important. Beauty is more than skin deep. Don’t treat others on the basis of the outward. Serve because you don’t care about the outward and because your heart is full of humility.

Then you too can be a C-O-O-O-L BEAN!!

March 9

Thursday, March 9th, 2023

A man wearing jeans, a T-shirt, and a baseball cap positioned himself against a wall beside a trash can at the Metro station in Washington, D.C. He pulled out a violin and began to play. In the next 43 minutes, as he performed six classical pieces, 1097 people passed by, ignoring him.

No one knew it, but the man playing the Metro was Joshua Bell, one of the finest classical musicians in the world, playing some of the most elegant music ever written on a $3.5 million Stradivarius. But no crowd gathered for the virtuoso. “It was a strange feeling, that people were actually ignoring me,” Bell said.

When I read that story this morning, a song came to my mind: “This is for all the lonely people, thinking that life has passed them by.” (“Lonely People” by America-1971)

Our world is filled with hundreds, thousands, maybe millions of people who are depicted by the story and the song: they go through life unnoticed, uncared for…lonely. They feel as though life and love has passed them by.

The truth is they aren’t necessarily the pandhandler or the homeless. They could work with you. They could play sports with you. They could be your neighbor. They could even be in your house living with you. Then again, it could be you.

There is a commercial of an anti-depressant where the people are shown interacting, but sad, all the while they hold a smiley face on a stick in front of them. That is the way a lot of people are. Hold up a false face so you don’t see what they are really like.

Challenge for today: keep your eyes open for lonely people. They may put up a false front so you may have to look hard. Don’t let someone be lonely today. Don’t let you be lonely today. Open up to someone. Be a friend. Seek a friend. EVERYONE MATTERS.

March 1

Wednesday, March 1st, 2023

I hear a lot of different words and thoughts expressed at a funeral. I hear “Man, he loved well. He love Jesus. He loved people. He loved his/her family.” I might hear “He/she was a person of integrity” or “a person who had such a kind heart.” Words of love, appreciation, and thanksgiving.

But the saddest words I hear are not “I’m going to miss him/her” (although they do make my heart hurt), or “I have a hole in my heart.” No, the saddest words are two: “If only.”

They are words of regret. “If only I had told him/her I love them more often.” “if only I had gone to visit them like I wanted to.” “If only I hadn’t forgotten.” “If only I hadn’t been so busy/preoccupied.” The “if onlys” could go on.

As I said, they are words of regret. One last visit never happened. One last act of kindness goes undone. One last word of affection goes unsaid.

In Matthew 26 there is a story of a lady who understood what Jesus was saying about His imminent death. She may have been the only one in the room who did. She took a jar of very expensive perfume (I’ve heard estimates of its worth being about $25,000 in today’s currency) and poured it on His head.  When protests were made, Jesus rebuked them and said, “This woman has done a beautiful thing.” You see…she understood there was no waiting.  There would be no “if only.”

How about you? Is there something you need to say to or is there something you need to do for someone? Is there someone you need to go see? Is there someone with whom you need to reconcile or at least try to repair a relationship? Why wait? Why allow “if only” even the remotest possibility to be part of your vocabulary?

Now. Now is the time. Avoid the “if only.”

February 28

Tuesday, February 28th, 2023

Piggybacking on yesterday’s thought-that we all have something to contribute-I’d like to further the discussion with this:

I recently read the story of Jack who knew how to put trains on the right track. In nine years of work, he never missed a track switch as locomotives drew near the Uitenhage, South Africa, station, indicating by their whistles the direction they were going.

Did I  tell you Jack was a chacma baboon? He was cared for by railway signalman James Wide, and Jack in turn took care of James. James had lost both his legs when he fell between moving rail cars. He trained Jack to help him at home, and soon Jack assisted him at work. Jack learned how to respond to incoming trains’ signals by pulling the switch for their tracks.  (Source: Our Daily Bread)

That is an amazing story, and while it lends itself to some snarky comments about people, it also leads us into how God can use anyone and anything, especially if He can use an animal. How can anyone who reads the Bible forget how God used a donkey to speak to Balaam? (See the story in Numbers 22). Disney wasn’t the first to use talking animals to teach a lesson! 🙂

The truth is God can use anyone, even anything, to get His point across. Think for a moment: If God can use a baboon or a donkey to help others or to get His point across, just imagine how He can use you or me to get His message out.  And going on that: just imagine how He can use us to influence, even change, a person’s life.

It goes back to that old saying: “God is not so much interested in our ability, but in our availability.”  How might He use you today? Whose life can you make better today? Who can you help today? Will you be available?