A Life of Kindness and Compassion

sharing-ice-cream-kids_fSome 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

Limiter or Lifter?

friendsWhat kind of a friend are you? Do you limit the growth and achievement of your friends or do lift them up when they are down and nudge them forward when they need a little encouragement? Do you stir the pot of life with positive strokes?

In Hebrews 10, we are admonished to stir one another up to love and to good works and to encourage those who are struggling with the daily grind of life.

This may have been what Albert Schweitzer had in mind when he said, “In everyone’s life, at some time, our inner fire goes out. It is then burst into flame by an encounter with another human being. We should all be thankful for those people who rekindle the inner spirit.”

Who is the friend that has lifted you up and been a source of encouragement to you? When was the last time you expressed your appreciation to them? Is today the day you can lift them up and help rekindle their inner spirit?

 

 

 

Yogi not Yoga

yogiMy love for the game of baseball started at an early age.  It’s a game I played with my dad, my brothers, and my friends.  Summer nights were spent at the ball diamonds where I was either playing or shouting words of encouragement to my buddies who were.

One of baseball’s most loved players is Yogi Berra.  During his 19 years as a catcher for the Yankees, he played in 14 World Series.

While Yogi is remembered for the way he played the game, he might be better known for his Yogisms:

  • This is like déjà vu all over again.
  • A nickle ain’t worth a dime anymore.
  • When you come to a fork in the road, take it.
  • Baseball is 90% mental, and the other half is physical.
  • You’ve got to be careful if you don’t know where you are going because you might not get there.

Yogi also said, I never said most of the things I said.  Like Yogi, some people will remember us more for what we said than for what we accomplished in life.

Words are dynamic, and they have the power to hinder and to humiliate, and they are also endued with a robustness to help and to heal.

Solomon reminds us that, Pleasant words are like a honeycomb: they drip sweet food for life and bring health to the body (Proverbs 16:24).

Everyone needs to hear a pleasant word at some time, and there will be someone, somewhere, who will begin today as an indigent pessimist due to the overwhelming trial they are facing.  When you meet them, will you simply smile, turn your back and walk away or will you engage them with words of encouragement?

mogher tMother Teresa has said: Kind words can be short and easy to speak, but their echoes are truly endless.

If words are an echo, may our’s resonate with a melody that is loving, positive, uplifting, encouraging, and life-giving

Getting a Grip on Worry

gripIf you could look inside your head, would you find the thought center of your mind dotted with the warts of worry and the ulcers of anxiety? If so, you might find some comfort in the potent promise of Isaiah 26:3: You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you.

Here’s the simple truth of this verse: If your mind is not staying on God, it’s straying from Him, and it’s easily disoriented by the worries of life.  Undisciplined thoughts leave room for unfounded arguments that foster fear; however, Christ-centered thinking augments your faith and smothers the fires of anxiety.

Billy Graham has said,  Historians will probably call our era “the age of anxiety.” Anxiety is the  natural result  when our  hopes are c entered on anything short of God and His will for us.

Worry and anxiety are expressions of fear and both can be attributed to a sense of lacking or loneliness. The next time your mind begins to agonize over thoughts like these, mobilize by taking these steps:

  • Focus on God: I sought the Lord, and he heard me, and delivered me from all my fears. ~Psalm 34:4
  • Claim the promise of God’s presence: Be strong and brave! Don’t be afraid and don’t panic, for I, the Lord your God, am with you in all you do. ~Joshua 1:9
  • Believe God loves you: The Lord your God is in your midst, the Mighty One, will save; He will rejoice over you with gladness; He will quiet you with His love; and, He will rejoice over you with singing. ~Zephaniah 3:17
  • Get a grip on life: For I, the Lord your God, hold your right hand; it is I who say to you, “Fear not, I am the one who helps you.” ~Isaiah 41:13

Jesus said:

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.

~John 14:27

 

 

A Penny’s Worth of Effort

1874-indian-head-penny-25-1423485383When I speak of proverbs, I usually think of Solomon as the author; however, there is an old German proverb that offers some wisdom in the area of self-discipline and priorities: Whoever does not respect the penny is not worthy of the dollar.

The essence of this quote seems to be: If you neglect or ignore the small things, you can’t be trusted with larger things. Neglect in one area of your life might be inconsequential if it happens once; however, when a pattern forms, it becomes a habit, and habits are the routines and practices that either confine you or refine you.

Most of us are like a stringed instrument, and we need to be re-tuned from time to time.  The word tune has several meanings:

  • As a noun it means, “a succession of musical sounds forming an air or melody, with or without the harmony accompanying it; a musical setting in four-part harmony; the state of being in the proper pitch.”
  • As a verb it means, “to give forth a musical sound; to be in harmony or accord; become responsive.”

It only takes a small incremental turn of the peg to make a big change in the tightness of a string and a dramatic change in the sound of a violin or guitar.  The same is true with your life—small changes can make a big difference.

To make these changes, I suggest that you:

  • Learn from Santa Claus: Make a list and check it twice. Which of your habits are being naughty or nice to you, and which one help you live in harmony with God?
  • Focus: When you tune a violin or guitar, you don’t turn all of the pegs and adjust all of the strings at once. You focus on one at a time. Instead of trying to develop several new habits and make multiple changes, make them one at a time.
  • Be Discriminate: Eliminate the non-essentials and practice the essentials. The one sucks the blood of life out of you while the other revitalizes you.
  • Learn from the 7 Dwarfs: Whistle while you work, and find some joy in what you’re doing. Be Happy, not Grumpy!
  • Circle the Wagons: When I was a kid, one of my favorite TV shows was Wagon Train. At the end of the day, Ward Bond would instruct the westward bound settlers to “Circle the wagons.”  This provided a circle of safety for the pioneers.  Ward Bond would tell you to “Circle yourself with good friends and people of character.”
  • Learn from David: In the morning, O LORD, You will hear my voice; In the morning I will order my prayer to You and eagerly watch (Psalm 5:3).” Meet with God daily to pray, and plan for success.

The power of small acts is found in the words of Samuel Smiles:

Sow a thought, and you reap an act;

Sow an act, and you reap a habit;

Sow a habit, and you reap a character;

Sow a character, and you reap a destiny.”

~Samuel Smiles

Blessings: Have You Counted Yours?

countWhen was the last time you paused and counted the many blessing that you have?  Have you taken the time to heed the old hymn and “name them one by one?” These are the questions I asked myself after reading Psalm 68:19: “Blessed be the Lord, Who daily loads us with benefits, The God of our salvation!

A survey of the Psalms will reveal several verses that remind us of God’s many blessings:

  • Psalm 1 speaks of relationship: Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor stands in the path of sinners, nor sits in the seat of the scornful; but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and in His law he meditates day and night.
  • Psalm 2 speaks of faith: Blessed are all those who put their trust in Him
  • Psalm 28 speaks of prayer: Blessed be the Lord, Because He has heard the voice of my supplications!
  • Psalm 31 speaks of God’s kindness: Blessed be the Lord, For He has shown me His marvelous kindness in a strong city!
  • Psalm 32 speaks of forgiveness: Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered.
  • Psalm 33 is a promise: “Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord.”

I’ll close with this link to Count Your Blessings. I hope the song will become a symphony as you reflect on the times God has blessed you.

Beating the Blues

HopeDid you awaken this morning feeling more down-and-out and less up-and-at-it? If so, you might identify with the “woe-is-me” mentality of Jeremiah who said:

“I’m the man who has seen trouble, trouble coming from the lash of God’s anger. He took me by the hand and walked me into pitch-black darkness. Yes, he’s given me the back of his hand over and over and over again. He turned me into a scarecrow of skin and bones, then broke the bones. He hemmed me in, ganged up on me, and poured on the trouble and hard times. He locked me up in deep darkness, like a corpse nailed inside a coffin.” ~ The Message

The sure cure for a case of the Monday Morning Blues is a long sip from this energizing Cup of Hope:  Through the Lord’s mercies we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness (Lamentations 3:22-23).

When Jeremiah began to focus less on his problems and more on God, his perspective changed.  He began to realize that the high tide of God’s hope has a rhythmic presence that’s just as certain as the appearance of the moon in the night sky.  He also concluded that the faithfulness of God is as cool and refreshing as an artesian well that never runs dry—it’s new every morning.

In the Psalms, David learned that the riddles of life are never solved through the emptiness of the world, but through the fullness of God’s blessing. He said: I did not understand until I went into the sanctuary of God; and, He offered this conclusion: God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever . . . it is good for me to draw near to God; I have put my trust in the Lord GOD, that I may declare all Your works.

As you work your way through today, remember that God is full of compassion, generous in grace, slow to anger, and boundless in loyal love and truth.  ~Psalm 86:15

Sing A New Song

simonOne among the many things that I lack is the ability to sing well. This is why I like the words of Psalm 96; it encourages us to sing a “new song to the Lord.”

Due to my inability to harmonize and sing on key, songs always have a new and different sound when I sing—I can carry a tune; I just can’t unload it.

The songs of David are replete with sweet praise for God’s love and faithfulness:  For Your faithful love is higher than the heavens, and Your faithfulness reaches to the clouds (Psalm 108:4).

Love is the expressible and essential attribute of God that is one of His cohesive characteristics. God’s attributes never detract from or diminish another of His characteristics—God is both just and merciful. He is also self-existent, eternal, and holy; therefore, God’s love has no beginning; it has no end, and, it is holy and pure. God’s love has always existed and it will never end.

Love is that attribute of God that defines the Substitute who died for the spiritually destitute on the cross of Calvary. And, as John said: We love God, because He first loved us (I John 4:19).

Q and A Session

q and aWhen you encounter a unique life experience, begin a new job, or you’re introduced to a new concept, do you find yourself with more questions than answers? If so, a question and answer session can be helpful.

Isaiah 40:28 is a verse that begins with two questions that are followed by a soothing answer: Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the whole earth. He never grows faint or weary; and, there is no limit to His wisdom and understanding.

While we’ll never know everything, there is to know about God, we do know that He is faithful and capable to meet our needs.

Think about it:

  • God is not bound by time; He’s everlasting.
  • God’s strength is never exhausted; He never grows faint or weary.
  • God is all knowing; there’s no limit to His wisdom and understanding.

Psalm 147:5 summarizes my comments, and it’s a good verse to reflect on; so, I’ll close with it: Great is our Lord and abundant in strength; His understanding is infinite.

Maybe or Maybe Not

lender-decisionsShould 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