When someone says the word ‘kindness,’ what we think of can be a mixture of other words as we consider how to define it. We think about how people are nice; that they act in a loving way; or that … Continue reading
We live in a divided nation. I’m from the United States, and realize I also live in a world where various nations are at odds with each other. But one thing we should agree on is that even one critical illness or death from a world pandemic is a tragedy. Maybe not to us, but to someone.
The schoolteacher from a small town in France, the accountant for a big city law firm, the coach for your college’s football team, or the writer at Hallmark Greetings who created the message in that birthday card you sent to your friend. They all love the people close to them as much as we love the people close to us.
What if the death from COVID-19 is your family member; the person who sits in the next cubicle at work; your hair stylist or barber; your friend of 20 years; the person who always sits in the seat next to you at church; the barista at your favorite coffee shop. Deaths from this pandemic will be personal and a cause of grief to us. Deaths from this pandemic will also be personal to someone you’ll never meet.
So why even discuss ‘inflated numbers?’ Why criticize and alienate people using an argument you found on social media? (This one included.) Why fall into the trap of making it all about politics? A human being isn’t defined as a number, or explained away with an argument, or solely identified by a political party.
We’re defined by our humanity.
These are weird and challenging times for us. Even if we haven’t lost our jobs. Even if we got tested and the test was negative for the virus. Even if before all this madness we stayed home most of the time anyway. And they’re weird times whether we’re old or young, male or female, religious or not religious, employed or not employed, sick or well, prominent in our community or only counted because we took a census.
I have opinions and I’ve stupidly—and regrettably—expressed some of them. However, now it’s time for me to keep in mind a few things I believe are true: Patience is better than ‘tolerance.’ Silence is (sometimes) better than speaking. Being kind is better than being right.
With that in mind, I hope I can, as I always say, “be a blessing to someone today.”
Father in heaven, we thank you for your grace to us no matter how we see our current circumstances and how we respond. Help us to see that people all over the world are affected by the same things we go through. Remind us every day that you love them too. Most importantly, keep us safe and secure in the knowledge that you are in control. Amen.
Humilitas: A Lost Key to Life, Love, and Leadership by John Dickson; copyright 2011; Zondervan; 196 pages
Did I tell you about the time a local service group gave me a medal for my humility? Then someone saw me wearing it in public and I had to give it back. Just kidding. The author of Humilitas sort of makes the same statement, which is one we all know by now: Just about the time you think you have this humility thing nailed, you’ve shown that you probably don’t.
“The most influential and inspiring people are often marked by humility” is Dickson’s thesis for the book, and I believe he proved it well. The book digs into topics like the logic of humility; why the ancients didn’t like the idea of humility; how practicing humility lifts the people around us; why humility can generate abilities; and why humility is better than ‘tolerance.’ His research is nicely balanced with stories, some of them about his own encounters with people who he believes are humble. Dickson cites other literature, other topic experts, and well-known stories, but the research never makes the book unreadable. On the contrary; it’s readability is one of the reason it shines.
Several examples of great people who’ve demonstrated humility (and some who haven’t) give insight into how we respond to leaders as we examine their character. It becomes clear that we all know someone who isn’t necessarily in the public eye or in leadership who makes an excellent impression because of their humility. Those people may not even have great intelligence or great physical resources to draw on. It’s more of a heart issue than a head issue. The author includes a whole chapter, “Cruciform,” about Jesus of Nazareth and how He redefined greatness through humble living and service.
Consider Dickson’s definition for humility: The noble choice to forgo your status, deploy your resources or use your influence for the good of others before yourself. People who give to others seemingly without even thinking about it usually have a positive impression on us. We may not even realize at the time we’re being impressed. But that’s the thing, Dickson is saying. Humble people aren’t trying to impress.
Steps to become (more) humble come at the end. They seem to make good sense. Becoming humble, as with any virtue, comes with practice. As we say, it’s a journey, not a destination. I was pleasantly surprised with Humilitas. That impression began when I read the author’s dedication to his mentors, “who know more about this subject than I do, but would never presume to write about it.”
This one will not only be a ‘repeater’ for me, but a reference book. I mean, after all, they took my medal away. I need all the help I can get.
Happy reading and be a blessing to someone today.
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” Matthew 11:28, 29
“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.” Matthew 5:6
“For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in. I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.” Matthew 25:35, 36
Fruit Flies in Our Faith by Annie Paden; Angel Faith Publishing; copyright 2018; 188 pp.
Through a look at the fruit of the Spirit mentioned in Galatians 5:22-23, Annie Paden teaches how to both nurture and share love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.
Her premise is simple: we all need a close relationship with God to let the Spirit work in us to develop the fruit. We, however, will resist the teaching or experience trouble, which distracts us.
Through personal stories and opportunities to reflect on our lives, the author shows us how we can better see what God has in store for us as we grow in grace. The persistent and pesky “fruit flies” will submit to pest control when we submit to the leadings of the Spirit.
Each chapter describes the various aspects of one fruit, helping us to understand how God will use it and refine it in us. She starts with an anecdote related to, for instance, kindness. She leads us into “Nurturing Fruit,” with examples of ways to grow by applying what God is saying to us.
In the “Sharing Fruit” section of each chapter, Annie’s ideas for working with others describe ways to put feet on our faith. They’re simple ideas that anyone can carry out. In each section, she supports her ideas with scripture.
Finally, each chapter includes questions for reflection and study.
Fruit Flies in Our Faith is targeted to women and both new believers and mature believers can find support and maybe even new ideas for growth. I think she does a good job of encouraging women in a way that’s relatable. Used as a study guide, it could provide an opportunity for a group of women to honestly share the challenges, struggles, and joys of producing fruit.
4 of 5 stars
This review was requested by the author in exchange for a contributor copy.
Last year on each day of November, I tried to post something I’m grateful for. Didn’t want to mess with that this year. Basically, I’m grateful every day.
This jar sits on the windowsill by my desk. It’s getting filled with little slips of paper that have expressions of gratitude for, oh, just a lot of little and big stuff with which God blesses me. I take them out every once in a while and read them to remind myself of how faithful He’s been. When it gets full, I toss them.
This week I put in a piece of paper expressing gratitude for a thoughtful friend who invited me to join her family for Thanksgiving dinner. “What are you doing Thursday? Got any plans?” Well, no, as a matter of fact, I didn’t except maybe to go to a local spot that is serving a traditional meal for free. Figured I’d see lots of people there that I know.
When you’re single and your family lives far away, the holidays can be hard. I’ve spent many of them alone. Not complaining, but I surely am grateful for people who recognize a small need and respond.
I suppose this jar reminds me that we can practice thanksliving all year long.
Be a blessing to someone today.
Some storytelling that leaves you feeling really good and challenges your thinking.
Two friends were walking through the desert. At one stage in their journey, they had an argument and one friend slapped the other one in the face.
The one who got slapped was hurt, but without saying anything he wrote in the sand, “Today my best friend slapped me in the face.”
They kept on walking until they found an oasis, where they decided to have a wash. The one who had been slapped got stuck in a mire and started drowning, but his friend saved him. After he had recovered from his shock, he wrote on a stone, “Today my best friend saved my life.”
The friend who slapped and saved his best friend asked him, “After I hurt you, you wrote in the sand and now, you write in stone, why?”
The other friend replied, “When someone hurts us we should write it down in sand where…
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“The fruit of the Spirit wasn’t intended to be a list of goals for us to produce–it is the Holy Spirit through us who produces fruit.” ~ Dan Kimble
“I have always found that mercy bears richer fruits than strict justice.” ~ Abraham Lincoln
“Therefore, as God’s people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.” Colossians 3:12
“So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them.” ~ Jesus Christ
“No one is useless in this world who lightens the burden of another.” ~ Charles Dickens
“Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality.” ~ Paul, the Apostle
“You have not lived today unless you have done something for someone who can never repay you.” ~ John Bunyan
“Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow.” ~ King Solomon
“We are all here on earth to help others; what on earth the others are here for I don’t know.” ~ W. H. Auden
People struggle. You do, I do. Everyone experiences hard times. People are grieving. Others are weary. People face health issues to the point of death. Some struggle with a crisis concerning their child. That child may be one with “special needs.” Adults are caregivers to an elderly parent or guardian to an individual who can’t help themselves.
Since we’ll all struggle at some time, remember how difficult it can be. Some people, for whatever reason, find it hard to ask for help. Don’t go through it alone and don’t let someone else. Pray for that person, but put feet to your prayers. Platitudes will not help. A helping hand will.
Be a blessing to someone today.
Many years ago when my children were small, I found the treatise on parenting seen below. I wanted to save it and keep it somewhere I could see it as a reminder. The craft of decoupage was popular then, so it ended up on a piece of wood. That piece of wood with the message is gone. But I made sure to copy and saved this message in electronic form.
“Children Learn What They Live”
- When children live with criticism, they learn to condemn.
- When children live with hostility, they learn to fight.
- When children live with ridicule, they learn to be shy.
- When children live with shame, they learn to feel guilty.
- When children live with tolerance, they learn to be patient.
- When children live with encouragement, they learn confidence.
- When children live with security, they learn to have faith.
- When children live with fairness, they learn justice.
- When children live with praise, they learn to appreciate.
- When children live with approval, they learn to like themselves.
- When children live with acceptance and friendship, they learn to find love in the world.
We aren’t given guarantees. That’s because there’s no simple mathematical formula for treating every child the same. And of course, “Life Happens,” throwing monkey wrenches into our well-oiled systems.
But this is a good start at any place you find yourself in parenting. Perhaps if we take these statements to heart and act on them, we’ll even see relationships change with our adult children.
Father in heaven, today we pray you’ll remind us of the extraordinary gift you gave when you gave us children. Please help us to guide all of them the same way you guide and teach us. Show us Your example and empower us in these important roles of parent and influencer to children.
Be a blessing to someone today.