Monthly archives: October, 2017

The Gift Of Encouragement

 

 

A spoken word.

 

It can change your mood. Change your heart posture. Change the trajectory of your life.

 

No doubt, one of the best gifts I’ve ever received is the gift of encouragement. There are too many occasions to count where this gift has transformed my life. I’m thinking you may feel the same?

 

The days of deep heartache. The days that felt more like never-ending carousels. Those days that were just an overall pain in the rear. When you heard that familiar voice or read the text…it impacted you. It may never have even come close to touching the circumstance you were in. In fact, things may have gotten worse. But, knowing there was someone walking alongside you made all the difference. Our beloved friends understand our hurt, and they nurture those tender places. Encouragement you see is a salve on our wounded hearts and souls.

 

Encouragement heals us.

 

And on the flip side, we all require words from time to time that ignite the best within us. That gives us a nudge in the right direction. These wonderful people in our lives called friends see our dark sides and gently push us into the light. We can “ugly cry” or dance the happy dance with these people. We can talk in our run-on sentences and find them still listening.

 

Encouragement prompts us to better things.

 

Maybe you’re in a season where the last thing you can do is think about encouraging someone else. You feel buried by the weight of everyday life and frankly, YOU need encouragement yourself. May I suggest you soak in the words of our loving God and His encouragement in His Word?  Even if you don’t feel like reading it, do it anyway. Find the rest that you need in Him (Matthew 11:28). Find the abundant life you long for in Him. (John 10:10) Find hope for better days in Him, “Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God.” (Proverbs 42:11)

 

Speak encouraging, life-giving words that build others up. It will not only change those around you, but it will change you. “He who refreshes others will himself be refreshed.” (Proverbs 11:25)


Darn It, Be Kind!

 

Kurt Vonnegut, an American author of 14 novels in the 1960’s had it right. He’s quoted as saying in his novel God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater, or Pearls Before Swine:

“Hello, babies. Welcome to Earth. It’s hot in the summer and cold in the winter. It’s round and wet and crowded. On the outside, babies, you’ve got a hundred years here. There’s only one rule that I know of, babies- darn it, you’ve got to be kind.’”
He seems to have captured it all in this one single quote. This is what we teach our kids to be. This is what we continue to learn to be ourselves even as (especially as) adults. Could we venture to say this way of behavior…being kind…is more important than being on the honor roll?  Of earning a scholarship? Of being top dog at a sport? When you think back 5, 10 or 20ish years ago when you were in high school or college, do you remember any of those things about the people in your life at that time? Me, neither. And neither will your kids. Trust me though, they’ll remember who was kind. Stop right now and think about it yourself. I bet a name pops into your head pretty quickly of someone maybe you haven’t thought of in years who showed an act of kindness or spoke kindness towards you.
These are the people who leave an impression on our minds and on our souls. They change us. Give us reason to believe there’s still good in this crazy world we live in. They give us hope for the future.
It’s been said that “Kindness is a tool, and the only way to fix the brokenness in our world is to be kind and raise kind humans.” Haven’t we seen so much of this lately in all the tragedies close by whether it be the Pulse shooting or the aftermath of Irma? Or around our nation where other hurricanes such as Harvey and Maria have hit. The Las Vegas shooting. The California wildfires. Story after story has been told about the kindness of strangers. People who don’t even know each other…let that sink in. People who don’t even know each other helping each other in their time of greatest need. Being kind.
But, let’s face it. Being kind is still a struggle even as adults. Some days, it’s the last thing you want to do. It’s really not fun and it’s much easier to be unkind. It takes no effort to let our ugly human selves rear its head and just be mean. It takes every bit of our Savior’s love and grace flowing through us to be what we should be. To be what we truly long to be. Had God not appeared to us with His goodness and loving kindness, where would we be? (Titus 3:4)
So these days where no tragedies are happening. What about them? When the political colors clash. When we’re in contact with people from other races…other countries. When we’re around people with other religions?  When we just aren’t seeing anywhere close to eye to eye…this kindness thing gets real, doesn’t it? Let’s look a little closer. Don’t you think it’s a step harder to be kind to those living under your own roof than anyone else sometimes? To those, we vowed to love till death do us part? To these little imitations of ourselves running around the house? And most of the time (not all) it’s usually because we think we are having a bad day or a bad moment. Somehow we give ourselves permission to yell, argue or dig our heels in because we know we are right. To be unkind.
So, I’m preaching this message to myself. If we can’t lead by example and teach our kids the importance of this message, things will never progress or get better in this world. I know it, and you know it, and so we must do it. We must set the example, model the behavior, and be the person we want our children to emulate.
So what do you say we start afresh today…again? With determination. Darn it, let’s be kind.
“Thus says the Lord of hosts…show kindness and mercy to one another.”  (Zechariah 7:9)

LOVE IS PATIENT

 

We should be patient and kind. We should not envy or boast. We should not be arrogant or rude. We should not insist on our own way. We should not be irritable or resentful. We should not rejoice at wrongdoing. We should rejoice in the truth. We should bear all things, believe all things, hope all things, endure all things.

 

But, we miss it.

 

Yes, we love God. Yes, we love the big people and little people around us that make up our crazy family. We care about our colleagues. Our classmates. The cashier at Publix. And how do we love that barista at Starbucks?

 

But man, there are times when you just don’t feel like being patient and loving. You just aren’t feelin’ it. You want to be grumpy. In a funk. Think about yourself, and to heck with everyone else. Please tell me you’ve been here, too? You see this “Love like Jesus” thing would be so easy if it weren’t for…well…people.

 

Loving others and being patient has got to be more than enduring long lines without complaining. More than not griping when your waiter gives you less than good customer service. More than willingly picking up after your munchkins (or spouse) for the millionth time without making a super big deal about it.

 

Patience is a learned behavior that evolves. When we realize and remind ourselves just how patient God is with us. How many times could He have given up on us? Had to put up with our foul moods? Pick up after our messes? Try to teach us a lesson only to have us mess it up…again. Wow. “God is being patient with you.” (2 Peter 3:9)

 

“If you find patience hard to give, you might ask yourself this question. How infiltrated are you with God’s patience? You’ve heard about it. Read about it. Perhaps underlined passages in your Bible about it. But have you received it? The proof is in your patience. Patience deeply received results in patience freely offered. “ – Max Lucado

 

Before anything else, “Love is patient”. (1 Corinthians 13)

 

“The Spirit produces the fruit of love, joy, peace, patience.” (Galatians 5:22)