- Strength will build you up
- Love will fill you up
- Arms will lift you.
A Life of Kindness and Compassion
Some people are incredibly kind and compassionate in the way they consistently treat others; however, due to the surface similarity of the two, the depth of difference between kindness and compassion can be overlooked.
While kindness is a spirit of benevolence that reflects our concern for others and the friendly and generous ways we treat people, compassion, is the spirit of mercy that motivated the Good Samaritan. He was moved to lay aside hatred and to cross social barriers to help the badly-beaten man who had been left for dead.
You can be kind without being compassionate, but, I don’t think you can be seen as compassionate without also being kind. In Ephesians, Paul instructs the believer to practice both: You must put away all bitterness, anger, wrath, quarreling, and slanderous talk—indeed all malice. Instead, be kind to one another, compassionate, forgiving one another, just as God in Christ also forgave you (4:31-32).
Acts of kindness and compassion, should be more than a theoretical discussion over a cup of coffee; these fruits of the Spirit are worthy of more than just lip service.
How can you begin to live a life of kindness and compassion? I suggest you place a bookmark at Philippians 2:3-4, and use it as a reference point. Read it frequently and follow its principles faithfully. To get started ask yourself some questions from this verse:
- What is it that motivates me?
- Am I known more for selfish ambition or humility?
- If I treated myself the way I treat others, would I be pleased with my actions?
- Am I too self-consumed to show concern for the plight of others?
I share the words that follow, as a prayer for today and as a conclusion to this discussion:
Lord, help me to love with both words and deeds,
To reach out to others and meet their needs;
Lord, burden my heart for those lost in sin,
With mercy and love that flows from within. ~Fitzhugh
Thoughts About Thinking
Social media has found an unwelcome guest in the form of fake news. This strange bedfellow forces us to look beneath the bed sheets to validate the integrity of the stories being told—are they truth’s faithful companion or are they legends and lies?
These media hacks, have honed their presentation skills, and they offer tantalizing tidbits that activate the prey mentality and create a viral feeding frenzy. The skeptical will deny the veracity of most everything they read, but the gullible will savage every story, hook, line, and sinker, like a hungry bass.
Skewing the facts and twisting the truth was also problem in the days of Isaiah, who said: Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter (Isaiah 5:20).
Why are people so easily deceived? Leonardo da Vinci may have been a prophet when said the average person looks without seeing, listens without hearing, touches without feeling, eats without tasting, moves without physical awareness, inhales without awareness of odor or fragrance, and talks without thinking.
We can’t afford to be intellectual coach potatoes and allow others to do our thinking for us. John Ortberg has said: What repeatedly enters your mind and occupies your mind, eventually shapes your mind, and will ultimately express itself in what you do and who you become.
Ortberg’s words are based on the advice of the apostle Paul who instructed people to manage the mental messages that bounce around inside the head. If we fail to capture and control these thoughts, the mind easily becomes an echo chamber of negativity.
I’ll close with a quote that has been attributed to Frank Outlaw: Watch your thoughts, they become words; watch your words, they become actions; watch your actions, they become habits; watch your habits, they become character; watch your character, for it becomes your destiny.
Maybe or Maybe Not
Should I stay or should I go? Should my answer be yes or no? Some decisions are easy to make, but there are times when choices leave us baffled and befuddled.
The solutions to some problems are quickly discovered and come as easily and flipping on a light switch. Frequently though, life can be a perplexing journey filled with head-banging frustration as you seek an elusive answer:
- Where should I live?
- Which doctor should I use and which treatment should I try?
- Should I keep the job I have or should I seek employment elsewhere?
- Is this the person I should marry?
- Which college should I choose to pursue my education?
Psalms 25:12:12 offers the assurance that, The Lord shows his faithful followers the way they should live. And, Proverbs 3:5-6 says, Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.
The question remains: How can you know that you’re making the right decision? Let me suggest a few questions that might help you focus your thoughts:
- Am I violating any biblical principles?
- Will my actions be an embarrassment to my parents or grandparents?
- Is it legal, moral, and ethical?
- Who will it help and who will it hinder?
- What is the financial, emotional, and spiritual cost to me and my family?
- Will my decision lead me to do what’s good, better or best?
- Have I prayed about my situation?
When you confuse your wants and desires with your needs, making the right choice can be difficult. Your discernment can be hindered due to either wanting too much of the wrong thing or desiring too little of the right thing—both can be obstacles when you pray for guidance:
George Muller, a champion of orphans and an evangelist, once said: Nine-tenths of difficulties are overcome when our hearts are ready to do the Lord’s will, whatever it may be. When one is truly in this state, it is usually but a little way to the knowledge of what His will is.
Here are four steps to consider as you chose your path in life:
- Yield to God, and be willing to will the will of God for life (Joshua 24:14-15).
- Spend some time in prayer and meditating on God’s word (Joshua 1:8).
- Seek the counsel of the wise (Proverbs 19:20).
- Don’t rush your decision; take the time to think it through (Proverbs 21:5).
In times of indecision, I’ve found comfort in Jeremiah 29:11; and I think you might as well: I have plans to prosper you, not to harm you. I have plans to give you a future filled with hope. ~Jeremiah 29:11
A Cue 4 You
To get to where you need to go, with what you need to have, so you can say or do what needs to be said or done, you most likely use a cue or two. These come in different forms, fashions, and shapes. They can be as simple as an alarm clock to nudge you out of bed, a sticky note to budge your memory, or an inspirational quote to encourage your daily trudge on the treadmill.
Whether it’s a day planner, an app on your smart phone, or something as simple as a string tied around your finger, these reminders help you develop the habits that lead to a productive life. Some of these are as simple as ABCD, and they will help you grow in your relationship with Jesus:
- A—Always pray. Instead of prayer being an after-thought, make it a priority. Paul instructed believers to “pray without ceasing,” and to not “worry about anything, but in everything, through prayer and petition with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses every thought, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:6-7).”
- B—Take time to read your Bible: “Now the Bereans were of more noble character than the Thessalonians, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true (Acts 17:11).”
- C—Make the commitment to trust God: “Delight thyself also in the Lord: and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart. Commit thy way unto the Lord; trust also in him; and he shall bring it to pass; and, he shall bring forth thy righteousness as the light, and thy judgment as the noonday (Psalm 37:4-6).”
- D—Learn to discern: “For by the grace given to me I say to every one of you not to think more highly of yourself than you ought to think, but to think with sober discernment, as God has distributed to each of you a measure of faith (Romans 12:3).”
The underlying principle of these steps is the need to trust God, and Solomon outlines the process:
Trust God from the bottom of your heart;
don’t try to figure out everything on your own.
Listen for God’s voice in everything you do, everywhere you go;
he’s the one who will keep you on track.
Don’t assume that you know it all.
Run to God! Run from evil!
Proverbs 3:5-7 ~The Message
Grumpy or Gracious?
Whenever I read the opening verses of Psalm 92, the number 1,440 flashes through my mind. 1,440 is the number of minutes in a day, and Psalm 92 is a positive motivator on how to manage these precious moments:
It is good to give thanks to the Lord, and sing praises to Your name, O Most High. It is good to tell of Your loving-kindness in the morning, and of how faithful You are at night, with harps, and with music of praise. For You have made me glad by what You have done, O Lord. I will sing for joy at the works of Your hands (Psalm 92:1-4).
Think about the words you spoke yesterday; was your vocabulary more grumpy than it was gracious? How would your life be different if you would spend more time counting your blessings than tallying your slights? Would you be happier and healthier?
Barbara Fredrickson, a researcher at the University of North Carolina, has examined the power of positive and negative thoughts. She has found that positive emotions enhance your sense of personal potential; opens your mind to new possibilities; and, they allow you to develop new skills and resources that add value to your life.
Fredrickson’s premise is a conformation of a principle from the Proverbs: Gracious words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones. ~Proverbs 16:24
Over the next week, I encourage you to use some of the 1,440 minutes of each day to put Psalm 92 to practice:
- Focus on the blessing of God, and give thanks.
- Whistle a tune, hum a favorite hymn, and sing a song of praise to God.
- When you get up in the morning, start with a God is Able thought, and end your day by rehearsing the history of God’s faithfulness.
- Begin and end each day with the following prayer:
May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in Your sight, Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer. ~Psalm 19:14
Strength, Confidence, and Courage
After the death of Moses, Joshua took the leadership reins of the Israelites and guided them along the path to the Promised Land. In one of his first speeches, he admonished them, saying: “Only be strong and very courageous to ensure that you obey all the instructions that my servant Moses gave you—turn neither to the right nor to the left from it—so that you may succeed wherever you go (Joshua 1:7).”
Joshua’s call to courage reminds me of the words of Alfred North Whitehead: True courage is not the brutal force of vulgar heroes, but the firm resolve of virtue and reason.
Some people act courageously because they assess a situation and move forward with confidence in their abilities. There are others who are just as confident, but for a different reason; their available resources give them a sense of boldness.
David is a good example of both forms of courage. In Psalm 27, he said: “The Lord is my light and my salvation. Who is there to fear? The Lord is my life’s fortress. Who is there to be afraid of? Evildoers closed in on me to tear me to pieces. My opponents and enemies stumbled and fell. Even though an army sets up camp against me, my heart will not be afraid. Even though a war breaks out against me, I will still have confidence in the Lord.”
Courage, as David used it in this Psalm, is resource-based. He speaks of his trust in the presence and power of God.
Earlier in his life, David displayed courage that was focused more on his own ability. This was the skill he used to kill the wild animals as attacked his sheep.
There may be times when you doubt your ability, but you should never doubt God’s availability. Just as God was present to walk David through the trials of life, He is present for you as well:
- God is our refuge and strength, A very present help in trouble—Psalm 46:1
- God is the shield of Your salvation, and His right hand will support you—Psalm 18:35
- God will deliver you because He delights in you—Psalm 18:19
- The Lord is near the brokenhearted, and He saves those crushed in spirit—Psalm 34:18
While there’s not a single one of us who can look to the future and know for certain what challenges await us, each of us can be confident in knowing that God is waiting to guide us.
Solomon believed this, and he wisely said: “The heart of man devises his way, but the LORD directs his steps . . . He that follows after righteousness and mercy shall find life, righteousness, and honor.”
Ferhoodlums On The Loose
There’s a difference between blending for clarity and mixing things up for the purpose of confusion. Ferhoodlum is a case in point. Although you won’t find this word in the dictionary, you can find the two words I have blended to create it:
- Ferhoodle: To confuse, tangle, or perplex
- Hoodlum: a thug associated with crime or theft
A ferhoodlum is a person who engages in the premeditated confusion of the facts. If you’ve watched any of the political debates, you’ve heard the voices of ferhoodlums. Were these slips of the tongue, honest mistakes, or the crass acts of ferhoodlums?
- Clinton exaggerated the facts when she claimed Bernie Sanders had benefitted directly from donations from Wall Street.
- Trump exaggerated the unemployment statistics.
- Cruz distorted Rubio’s position on immigration.
- Clinton made misleading statements when discussing Sanders health care plan.
Ferhoodlums are not a phenomenon of 2016, they’ve been misrepresenting the truth for ages, including the New Testament era. Paul warned the Ephesians of their deceitful tactics: Don’t be “tossed back and forth [like ships on a stormy sea] and carried about by every wind of [shifting] doctrine, by the cunning and trickery of [unscrupulous] men, by the deceitful scheming of people ready to do anything [for personal profit]. But speaking the truth in love [in all things—both our speech and our lives expressing His truth], let us grow up in all things into Him [following His example] who is the Head—Christ (Ephesians 4:14-15 Amplified Bible).”
Unwilling to compromise the integrity of the Gospel, Paul was determined to speak the truth: “Since we are joined together in this ministry as a result of the mercy shown to all of us by God, we do not become discouraged. Instead, we have renounced all the things that hide in shame; we refuse to live deceptively or use trickery; we do not pollute God’s Word with any other agenda. Instead, we aim to tell the truth plainly, appealing to the conscience of every person under God’s watchful eye (2 Corinthians 4:1-2).”
Proverbs 12 is a clear contrast between those who speak the truth and those who lie: “Whoever speaks the truth declares what is right, but a false witness, deceit. There is one who speaks rashly, like a piercing sword; but the tongue of the wise brings healing. Truthful lips endure forever, but a lying tongue, only a moment. Deceit is in the hearts of those who plot evil, but those who promote peace have joy (17-20).”
Ferhoodlums should give some careful consideration to Psalm 15: “Lord, who can dwell in Your tent? Who can live on Your holy mountain? The one who lives honestly, practices righteousness, and acknowledges the truth in his heart—who does not slander with his tongue, who does not harm his friend or discredit his neighbor, but honors those who fear the Lord, and one who keeps his word whatever the cost.”
Broncos: More Than A One Horse Show
Everything about Peyton Manning speaks of a seasoned professional. His off season regime, the extra hours of preparation during preseason, his pregame warm-up drills, and even the carb-filled meal he eats before the game, are all legendary.
Ask anyone on the team, especially the rookies and newbies, if Manning’s focus is just on Peyton, and they will tell you that no one works harder than Peyton; and, no one works them harder than Peyton.
Manning knows he must prepare himself; however, he also knows his preparation is inadequate and incomplete if it doesn’t include the team as a whole.
If you listened to the post game interview, the philosophy of the old pro was heard in the pronoun he used. Manning’s vocabulary was not filled with “me, myself, and nobody else;” instead, he spoke of “our” team, “our” effort, “our” coaches, and “our” win. That’s not to say he never used the word “I.”
With a thought to the sky box where his family was huddled, Peyton said, “I want to give my wife a kiss and hug my family.” While the win was nice, it paled in comparison to the love he has for his wife and family.
A serious neck injury sidelined Manning during the 2011 season, and it required a series of three surgeries. Peyton thought his career was over, but Ashley, his wife, encouraged him to give it one more try. Her urgings were not because the family needed money or because she wanted her husband to take some more bone-crushing hits. She knew Peyton would have always wondered if he could have come back and would have regretted that he had not tried.
When the Lombardi trophy was given to the Denver Broncos and they were crowned champions of Super Bowl 50, it was because of teamwork. The defense played an excellent game; the offensive lineman blocked; the receivers ran their routes; and Peyton called a strategic game with his trademark “Omaha” checkoff.
While I watched the game yesterday I kept thinking of Solomon’s teamwork philosophy, and I think they’re a fitting conclusion to this post:
“Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work: If one falls down, his friend can help him up. But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up! Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm. But how can one keep warm alone? Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken (Ecclesiastes 4:9-12).”
Feeling Overwhelmed and Under-Qualified?
This has been a tough week. It hasn’t been so bad for me personally, but life had gotten out of hand for a handful of people. It seemed that their “can do” couldn’t “do,” and their “will to do” simply wasn’t “willing to do.”
Each of them had faced a daunting circumstance that had rained on their parade. Because of this, they were drained physically, a wreck emotionally, and they were anemic spiritually.
When life gets you down and you’re ready to throw in towel, don’t quit. Try to reframe your circumstances and get a fresh perspective:
- Tap into your pool of resources. Call a friend, a family member, or your pastor, and share your heart with them.
- Grab your Bible and read the Psalms. Learn from David and the many trials he faced.
- Take control of your thoughts. Don’t let the Grinch of negativity determine your course in life. Since you can’t think two thoughts at the same time, replace the negative with a positive.
Before you quit, remember you’re more than adequate in Jesus Christ:
- Embrace the “CAN DO” promise of Philippians 4:13: “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”
- Remember THE Author has AUTHORIZED you, QUALIFIED you, and He is ALWAYS with you. Jesus said: “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age (Matthew 28:18-20).”
- Grasp the fact that you have the POWER to PERFORM: Jesus said: “You shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me (Acts 1:8).”
Before you quit, remember that the CHOOSER has CHOSEN you: You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit ~John 15:16