Friday, August 31, 2012

Faith is the Substance- Amanda Elder Silvers

One of my favorite verses in Scripture is this-

Hebrews 11:1

King James Version (KJV)
11 Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.
As Christians the very basis of our entire belief system in Christ is faith based.  I dare say that most of us haven't seen Christ, we haven't had coffee with Him, and we haven't had Him over for dinner.  However, when we become a Christian and receive the gift of the Holy Spirit we are filled with the faith and knowledge that He is as present and as alive as any one of us.  It's a knowing deep in your soul...unwavering and certain.  
"Faith" and "hope" have long been two of my favorite words in the English language.  The word "hope" became a cornerstone of my foundation during the years that my father was so very sick.  I hoped each day that he would get better.  I hoped each day that God would heal and fully restore him to perfect health.  One Christmas in the midst of his illness my mother gave to me and my sister these beautiful, silver rings with the word "HOPE" etched in them in black letters.  She asked us to wear those for him.  I've not gone one day without wearing that ring since.  Hope is a word which gives us promise and an expectation about the future and/or situations in our life.  We can hope for a promotion.  We can hope someone will be healed.  We can hope to win the lottery.  I realized in the midst of my love affair with the word "hope", however, that FAITH was an intregal part of the equation as well.  Hope and faith must coexist in order for hope to reach its full potential.  We can "hope" all day for something, but unless we truly have the FAITH that it is possible our hope is fruitless. 

The Word is full of promises to us as God's children if we will only have faith in Him.  He is our Maker, our Provider, our Strength, and our Savior.  He wishes for us to have faith in Him fully to provide our needs and the desires of our hearts.  Faith is what brings us into the Kingdom of Heaven.  Faith moves mountains.  Matthew 17:20 tells us that mountain moving is possible even in people who have faith just the size of a mustard seed. 
Faith is the evidence in our lives for the world to see that we believe in a power greater than ourselves.  We can't be wishy-washy in our belief.  We either do or we don't.  It's black or it's white.  You either have faith or you don't.  My hope for each of us is that we would continue to grow daily in our faith and in turn will see the rewards of our obedience.  Have a wonderful weekend, friends.  Grow in what you know.  Feed your faith. 

Thursday, August 30, 2012

The Father Who Stayed

This week in Kingdom Bloggers we are exploring the
  fruit of the Holy Spirit called faithfulness.

While he was still trying to figure a way out, he had a dream
Then Joseph woke up. He did exactly what the angel had commanded in the dream
Matthew 1:20 and 1:24…The Message

It’s an observation that I have made over the years. As I look at children Lord, I have noticed something curious.

When a woman gets pregnant, a LOT of attention is heaped onto the mother and babe.

So this led me to wonder, where is the father? Where are our fathers?

Sometimes, he is “there” but his attention is obscured by worldly ties. Sometimes he has left and deserted those he claimed to love. Sometimes he has died and left a hole of pain. Sometimes he has marred the innocence of the babes, you sent for him to cherish. 

And gratefully, like Joseph, sometimes he is right there.
Day by day…moment by moment, doing exactly what you command a father to do.

When we consider the Nativity Story, our eyes behold the baby Jesus. We observe the motherly relationship and bonding that this child has with Mary. We are warmed by that mother/child tenderness. It brings a sense of comfort to observe this God given relationship.

Still…we should say “Where IS the father? Well, “this father”…Joseph by name did the RIGHT THING when…

He heard

He obeyed

He stayed

He honored You

Lord, this world needs Josephs. 

Please send us the Joseph, who even though they could leave…
will choose to stay

will choose to obey  

will choose to honor their fatherly role

This ordinary man Joseph, that we oft’ overlook, provides for all of us, a way…

while it would’ve been lawful to leave…he choose the way of love…

and decided to stay. 

Wednesday, August 29, 2012


Jenna is on a ministry trip in Germany. Today she asked me, her husband, to write for her about the theme this week: faithfulness.

Faithfulness by Cliff Silliman

The fruit of Spirit is faithfulness against such there is no law. What does faithfulness look like to you? What do you think of? Who do you think of? Do you know someone who you totally depend on to be faithful? How do you learn to be more faithful? What motivates you to try to be faithful? How does the Spirit work in you to create faithfulness? How do you teach your children to be faithful? All these questions popped into my head when I thought about faithfulness.

In Luke 16:10 He who is faithful in what is least is faithful also in much; and he who is unjust in what is least is unjust also in much. It surprised me to see that the opposite of faithfulness was being unjust. It made me realize that faithfulness was related to relationships. My grandfather Arthur Tansley was one of the most faithful, just people I have ever met. I never had the chance to tell him. He died less than two months after I became a Christian. He spent most of those two months in the intensive care unit at Alta Bates Hospital in Berkeley after having a series of heart attacks.

I was too self-absorbed as a teenager and a young adult to appreciate not only what my grandfather did for me and my family, but who he was. He not only raised two daughters through the depression but when his youngest daughter, my mom, got divorced when she was pregnant with me, he opened his home to her and her two sons. His word was gold. He spoke seldom but you could count on what he said to have his full commitment. I have many memories growing up of people letting me down, but my grandfather never let me down—not once. He had his ways that would drive you crazy or would make you smile and shake your head, but everything I learned from him I can count on.

I learned from him that being late to something is a sign of dishonor. I still think that showing up five minutes early is being late. Once I visited a church and no one showed up until 15 minutes after the starting time listed in the paper. I never went back.

I learned about having someone’s back from watching him love his wife, who had at times severe mental health issues. Grandfather modeled faithfulness in everything he did. I desire to have that kind of faithfulness in my life.  I see what raises its head up against it als--my selfishness and my thought patterns that put me first.

Jesus, I look to You to do that transforming work in me, to continue to grow me in faithfulness. Your scripture says that fruit is faithfulness, so Holy Spirit bear fruit in me, I pray. Manifest Your new creation in me in such a way that I might be faithful. May You be glorified, Lord Jesus, through me because of faithfulness.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Adeste Fideles

Your love, LORD, reaches to the heavens, your faithfulness to the skies. 
Psalm 36:5

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodnessfaithfulness, gentleness and self-control.  Gal. 5:22-23. 

We have been writing about the fruits of the Holy Spirit here on Kingdom Bloggers for several weeks, referencing Galatians 5:22. These fruits are what Paul says should be by-products (the dictionary defines fruit as a ‘sweet product’) of a life truly given over to Christ.

Because we are human, we will never produce these sweet fruits constantlythus, the need for repentance and God’s grace. So, this latest fruitfaithfulnessis not to be a legalistic yoke, too heavy and difficult for us to bear. The Pharisees in Jesus’ day believed faithfulness was exemplified by following rules: if you did not follow the rules, you were not faithful. But Jesus chided the religious elitists:   “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices—mint, dill and cumin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law—justice, mercy and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former” (Matthew 23:23).

Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms. 1 Peter 4:10

Faithfulness is obedience out of love, not out of obligation, fear and duty. We love God because He first loved us, not the other way around.   Faithfulness is a reliance and undivided focus on the God who loves us: “Teach me your way, LORD, that I may rely on your faithfulness; give me an undivided heart, that I may fear your name” (Psalm 86:11).

I have known people of great faith. They never had a headline, or wealth, or fame. They were anonymous individuals, except to those blessed enough to know them. I knew Vinny, a high school janitor, who was never embarrassed to show or share his faith. Once, at the end of a school day, he shared stories of the God he served with a co-worker in an office, not realizing the P.A. system was on. Teachers and principals, who barely gave him notice before, were suddenly hearing stories of Vinny’s—and God’s—faithfulness.

I knew Cathy, Mary and Maureen, three amazing women, who clung to God as they each battled cancer. They did not, as Job’s wife urged him to do as he endured terrible loss and illness, “curse God and die.” They exuded love and grace and faithfulness, even while being real about their fears, their pain and not wanting to leave loved ones behind too soon. Could I? Would I?

Praise Him, for the Gospel is about God’s grace and faithfulness to a humanity in desperate need. God proves His faithfulness everyday: each new morning, he bestows a great mercy by allowing me to have another day to breathe, to show love, to experience forgiveness, to make up for the losses of yesterday.

But what if He did not give me another day? Here is Job's answer: “Though He slay me, yet will I hope in Him” (Job 13:15). God cannot be anything but faithful. That is His character—ever true, the most faithful of lovers. His story is one of incredible patience, compassion and fidelity towards a people who time and again only proved themselves unfaithful.

Monday, August 27, 2012


Faithfulness is your history with God. It works both ways – his faithfulness to you and your faithfulness to Him. Without God initiating and proving his faithfulness towards us, we would have no obligation to be faithful but because he is faithful, we can be faithful.

This summer I’ve done a lot of tent ministry. I’ve interacted with many people from strong believers to nominal Christians to practicing wiccans (professing atheists tend to avoid the tent which advertises “Free Spiritual Readings”). Time and again, I’m impressed by the pursuit and faithfulness of God towards these precious people.

During one conversation last weekend, a fellow was amazed when I told him he didn’t have to prove himself to God. The onus is on God to show us his faithfulness, not the other way around. So many understand the Lord to be distant, unimpressed and hard to please; it must break his heart, because it breaks mine when I hear the stories of people carrying around burdens that are impossible to fulfill.

Remember the start of your first love relationship? How did it start? Did the other person demand your fidelity and unfailing loyalty at your first meeting? Most likely, your answer is no. It takes time to build a relationship. During the season when I had my first few dates with my Man, we weren’t exclusive and I dated one or two others around the same time. I enjoyed spending time with my Man, and he had something the other guys didn’t so I spent even more time with him, getting to know him. It wasn’t long before we started dating exclusively. I stopped dating other people but I didn’t jump into a deep relationship either. We still took time to get to know each (16 years of marriage later and I’m still getting to know him). Our history together has shown me he loves me and is faithful to me and it makes it easy to be faithful to him.  

God wants a relationship with us, and he will prove himself to show you he means it. He is faithful to his word and he is faithful to us. It’s ridiculous to think God expects us to be faithful to him at our first encounter with him. It’s a relationship, we all have free will to enter into the relationship and each step, God leads us deeper by letting us see how he loves us and how he remains faithful – even if we chase after other affections, he is still faithful.

The fruit of faithfulness flows from him, so we can have faithfulness to him. Like patience, the only way for faithfulness to grow is to wait it out. Faithfulness happens over time, over a history with God.

Friday, August 24, 2012

He was "Goodness" by Amanda Elder Silvers

While researching the topic of "goodness" as one of the fruits of the Spirit I came across the following definition on "Goodness is the fruit that virtue and the rest of characters combine to produce endearment. It is the character that makes people liked and even lovable by others." The example of "goodness" that I'd like to give to you this morning weighs heavy on my heart.  I hope it will speak to you.

News has travelled quickly this week through the small town in which I live that a young man most all of us knew has passed away.  Jette was the very definition of "goodness".  He was a Christian and and active church goer.  Jette excelled in practically everything he attempted both in sports and academics.  He had movie star good looks and was that boy that all the young girls in town would swoon over (even if quietly so).  My own nieces- when they were about 4 and 6- told me that one day they'd marry Jette.  Jette was well mannered and well spoken.  He had a kind heart and often times would play his guitar at church during the service.  He was the type of boy that parents would dream of as a husband for their daughters and that every girl would dream of as a spouse.

Jette was in his twenties and had moved on from our small town to go to college and pursue a career in the medical field.  He was married to a lovely, young girl last December.  On Wednesday of this week whispers started filling the air through the town of Rogersville... "Have you heard about Jette?"  I accidentally walked into a conversation about this while standing in line to fill out paperwork at a local business.  It was spoken about just loudly enough for me to hear.  I immediately jumped in with complete shock, "WHAT?!  Jette?  I know him.  What happened?"  One of the greatest tragedies in life, I believe, is when a young person dies.  You immediately feel the void that their absence leaves and you can't help but wonder what mark they would have continued to make on this earth had they stayed.  All I have heard people discuss this week is what a "good kid" and a "good young man" he was.  Jette wasn't even aware, but he has left a legacy behind and been a role model for young men after him to live up to. 

"Goodness" in people seems to be a fading quality.  I just remember thinking how sweet it is that everyone remembers Jette in the same way I do.  That megawatt smile, his laugh, his kindness, his goodness.  The Love of his Lord simply radiated through him.  You couldn't help but be affected. 

Jette's absence has been felt by many and will continue to be felt.  It's troubling to lose someone who brought such goodness into this world.... a world which seems to be so empty, and selfish, and harsh.  Each of us should hope that when our time comes to leave from this earth that those who knew us will be able to say about us, "He was such a good man." or "She was such a good woman."  Jette was a perfect example of God's goodness.  He will be greatly missed.  

(Thank you to Ashley Goan for permission to use her prom pic with Jette from 2007)


Thursday, August 23, 2012

You Need a Tow Truck, Where?

This week on the Kingdom Blogger’s blog, we are exploring the gift of the Holy Spirit called goodness.

Immediately, I thought of the end of Psalm 23 where it says…”goodness and mercy will follow me all of the days of my life forever.” That has always been of a particular comfort to me. I think it has always meant to me, a sense of protection. A recent popular saying “I’ve got your back” is similar and I like that too.

Years ago, my husband and I walked into a recommended Car Repair Shop, there was on the wall, a shadow box containing a newspaper article with an Award.

As I read the article, I was blown away.

It talked about Gary Moore, the owner of Moore’s Automotive. One of his customers needed a tow job and Gary responded. In and of itself that might not seem unusual, but there was a reason that this response earned notoriety.

 Gary’s shop is in Vernon CT and the car was near New York City, approximately 200 miles away. The owner of the car was a good customer. Gary went to help him. I can understand why the Newspaper noted this. An act like that is highly unusual.

 Even though this event was noteworthy, it expressed the kind of businessman that we came to know in Gary. There is never any question about the integrity of the work in his shop. When we need repairs, we trust the necessity. When something was very expensive, we were told, by the age of the car, it wouldn’t be worth it. We trust that the prices they charge are fair as well. I know that there are many who can attest to the fact that they chose Gary’s because of his reputation

Some of the ways that goodness is defined is character and decency.

In our dealings with Gary and his crew, over the many years that we have used him, these characteristics were evident. These are attributes that can’t be faked. They are either there or not.

I remember Gary talking about his dad. I was touched by the fact that he as an adult man, talked to his dad every day. I thought “Wow that is an amazing thing to have such a relationship with your dad” I know that Gary misses those calls as his dad passed on. Without knowing his dad, I can surmise that the way Gary conducted his business was influenced by his dad.

I myself learned about these characteristics from my own earthly dad. He exuded honesty and integrity, as he dealt with a corrupt governmental system, at his job, to help his fellow firefighters

My dad had some very strong opinions. He didn’t always make friends in his dealings. He seemed oblivious to the opposition.  I recalled an incident that happened when I was younger. I got the mail that day that was addressed to him. It was a postcard with a death threat on it. Although it was very scary for me, he kept on doing good.

In the end, many fellow firefighters expressed similar sentiments about my dad, at his funeral. This was repeated again and again “I may not have always agreed with your dad, but he was honest and had a good character. I trusted and admired him.” In a way, that was a great comfort to hear. Somehow I think my dad would have shrugged off the compliments and just continued to be a man of integrity because it was the right thing to do.

On a Radio Talk Show yesterday, they were asking callers if they ever were involved in an Election and used dirty campaign tactics and how did that work?

One man called in to say that he had run for a political Office. He said he was pressured to smear his opponent. He always said no. He said that he respected his opponent, as a decent human being. He said the only thing is that they did not hold the same positions. He ended up saying that the other guy was a better politician. He said of himself, that he felt he was a better policy maker. The host asked “Did you win?” The caller said “No, but I wouldn’t change the way I handled my campaign.” For me it was refreshing to hear someone, actually act like a decent human, during an election.

Showing forth goodness, would never be something a person would include on a resume. Unfortunately, the hiring party would probably, cynically laugh.

Wouldn’t that be the type of employee you would want to hire?

Linda Maynard

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Goodness is a Fruit of the Spirit

I am getting ready to leave early Sunday morning on a ministry trip to Germany, so I asked my husband to write on goodness, one of the fruits of the Holy Spirit, for our Kingdom Bloggers theme today. (See Galatians 5:22.)

Goodness is a Fruit of the Spirit
By Cliff Silliman, 8-21-12
God's goodness leads us to repentance. (See Romans 2:4.) The Greek word there implies that we have received a light touch from God, that God's goodness toward us will lead us to Him, that it paves a way into His presence as we seek more and more of it. It is what draws us to Him. His goodness is what motivates us to turn from things that hinder a relationship with Him.

The Scripture urges us to do good, and to not grow weary while doing good. (See Galatians 6:9,10.) "And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart. Therefore as we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith." Here we have Paul telling us to have our actions toward others to be good. Day in and day out we are to make decisions about what we will do to others to be good. This goes along with James which tells us that our works reveal our faith.

Yet, fruit of the Spirit is different than us trying to do good, or working at making right decisions that could be classified as good. The Fruit of Spirit is manifested when the Holy Spirit is evident in us in such a way that God’s character shows forth. That is not of our works but what Holy Spirit has done inside of us. An orange does not grow on a fir tree. This goodness that shows forth in our lives is because of the work of Holy Spirit, not us.

Our responsibility toward bearing fruit is to stay connected to the Holy Spirit that is within us that was given to us as a seal of redemption. Also we cannot neglect that we are encouraged to do good when we see the opportunity to do so, but the Holy Spirit gives us the desire to do good unto others.

Jesus said in “Why do you call Me good? No one is good but One, that is God.” (See Matthew 19:17.) Therefore any goodness revealed through us is a revelation of God and His kingdom reigning inside of us, not our works but Him who resides in us. “Be confident of this very thing that He who has begun a GOOD work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ.” (See Phil. 1:6.) Therefore we do not need to strain to manifest the fruits of the Spirit, but allow God to do His work in us.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

God's Goodness to All

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.  Gal. 5:22-23.

Some sublime evidences and brilliant reflections of this goodness of God may be seen in the works of Creation. Charles Spurgeon.

The photograph in this post--sunset over Canandaigua Lake in New York--is an example of God’s goodness to all. Even to those who reject even the notion of God, He gives good things. Yes, there is great darkness in every corner of the globe, even in this nation that many proclaim as “God’s country.” But, God is not the author of evil, He is the creator of good: “God saw all that He had made, and it was very good” (Genesis 1:31).

But what does it mean to be good? The dictionary defines goodness as “benevolence.” The philosopher David Hume described the practice of benevolence thusly: “It is observed that a person's benevolence brings happiness to society. It is said that he endears himself more to his parents by this quality than by his relationship. His children feel that he uses his authority not for his benefit but for theirs. His friends sense his love for them. From him the hungry receive food, the naked clothing, the ignorant skill and the slothful industry. He cheers and sustains like the sun.”*

Just as God gives good gifts like beautiful sunsets to all, so the believer,  through the goodness and power of Jesus, should be imparting acts of kindness, grace and generosity to this hurting world, beginning with his own family and circle of influence. Our parents should experience our concern, our children should feel the warmth of our delight, our friends our affection and generous spirit, the world our energies to reduce suffering in some way.

How often I fail at demonstrating this level of goodness, and how often God shores me up with the tide of His grace. His love propels me to rely on His goodness, and not on any effort of my own. He alone gives the ability for good, and to do good.

Dear friend, do not imitate what is evil but what is good. Anyone who does what is good is from God. Anyone who does what is evil has not seen God. 3 John 1:11.


Monday, August 20, 2012

Oh My Goodness!

There is no one who is good, except by the Spirit. Goodness (Greek = agathosyne), as described in Galatians 5:22, is something you become by continually acting with goodness towards to another. You cannot be good in a vacuum. To be good, we must have an opportunity to practice goodness with others.

It’s much harder this way, isn’t it? When no one is around to irritate me or get in my way, I find it easy to exhibit goodness. It’s when my Man other people are around, the deficit I have in goodness is apparent. The beautiful truth is we are not expected to have goodness apart from the Spirit. The degree to which I am good is the degree to which the Holy Spirit is at work in my life to change my heart. Change the heart, and the behaviour changes.

Goodness, as well as any other aspect of the fruit of the Spirit, isn’t produced by striving. Have you ever noticed a fruit tree strive to make fruit? Jesus said if we stay connected to the trunk of the tree (vine), we will bear fruit, period.

I am not suggesting we bear no responsibility to practice goodness, when presented with opportunities. We always have a choice but the one thing I remembered from physics class applies here: a body in motion stays in motion and a body at rest, stays at rest. We need to position ourselves for the fruit of goodness to be cultivated. Keep the momentum going, stay connected and watch goodness flourish.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Be Kind to One Another by Amanda Elder Silvers

It's been said that "It's a cruel, cruel world".  The older I get the more I find myself agreeing with this statement.  We seem to live in such a fast-paced society that I feel the "human" element of life often times gets lost in the hustle and bustle of each quickly moving day.  As a mother it seems that every moment of my day is planned before my feet even have a chance to hit the floor.  It's difficult to take time for the things we enjoy- a quiet cup of coffee, a moment in a favorite rocking chair, or a visit with our neighbor- when we seem to be on the go from sun up to sun down.  We live in a day of instant communication- text messaging, social networking, e-mails, etc.  Our generation is learning that instant gratification is not only possible, but very much expected.  We drive through a McDonald's and if we have to wait any longer than about 3 minutes for our meal of processed meat and greasy french fries we fall all too pieces.  Our days seem to be spent watching the proverbial clock.

In the rush of life, somewhere along the way, I think some people have forgotten the importance of nurturing our personal relationships.  We work at our jobs.  We work on our houses.  We work on our cars.  We work on growing our bank accounts.  We need to remind ourselves that our relationships with others require work as well.  The Bible is full of verses instructing us to be kind to those we know and even those we do not.

Eph. 4:32    
"Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you."
Gal. 6:10
"So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith."

As Christians it is imperative for us to remember that each of us were created equally and in His (God's) own image.  He didn't make any of us any more special or perfect than the other.  He loves each of us just the same.  I remember a few years ago a phrase was sweeping our country.  Everywhere you turned, it seemed, someone was talking about "paying it forward".  I loved this movement in our country.  The premise was that if everyone would practice even just ONE act of random kindness and then the person receiving the kind act would then "pay it forward" to someone else.... well, then we would literally be caught in a avalanche of kindness.  What a wonderful thought!  I read accounts of acts as simple as paying for the meal of the person at the drive through window behind you to major acts of kindness which went above and beyond anything one would expect.  The point of the exercise is that if we get used to treating others kindly and in turn being treated kindly ourselves we can move mountains.  I'd encourage each of you to put this exercise to the test today.  It doesn't have to be anything monumental.  It doesn't have to cost anything.  You can take a piece of paper and slide a note to someone telling them how much you love and appreciate them.

Today let's start showing kindness to its full capacity.  Let's think before we speak.  Let's love instead of judge.  I wish each of you a blessed day and weekend.   

Thursday, August 16, 2012

How About a Heaping Dose of Kindness?

This week we are exploring the fruit of the Spirit called kindness.

At times, I have used a method to help me understand something.  I look at the opposite meaning of what I am trying to understand.

For instance, I see that the antonyms of kindness are cruelty, harshness and meanness.

I imagine that the Lord’s heart breaks, when the good news, of the Gospel of Love, is presented in a negative and skewed way. Scripture says that it is the kindness of God that brings a person to repentance. If the Lord’s heart is not breaking, He must be shaking His head, trying to figure out how people have misconstrued the truth of His message.

Perhaps, the following are some of the ways that you were presented as ways to understand God.  Even if that wasn’t the case for you, I am sure you can recognize ways in which Christianity is misrepresented.

1) Presenting God the Father as a vindictive and angry person
2) Saying that God’s main role is to catch you doing something wrong
3) Telling people that they have to reach unbelievable heights of perfection to deserve the Lord’s acceptance and love
4) Shaming people as a means for them to turn away from their sinful lifestyle
5) Publicly exposing sins, so that a person will feel naked and wrong in the sight of others
6) Expecting people to follow a long list of manmade rules and regulations
7) Telling people how to dress and wear their hair
8) Wrongly declaring that men are superior to women and are subject to men’s “made up” authority

I am sure that you could add your own to this list.

I don’t know about you, but scaring the bejeebes out of me would never be a method I would respond to.

Recently, I read about Josh Steven’s Foundation. It was started in memory of a young boy who died in a tragic accident. It seems that the quality that most people remembered about him was his kindness. So, as part of his legacy, his parents began this foundation/ministry. Through it, they offer a little card that reads “You’ve Been Caught Being Kind,” which includes a silicon bracelet wrapped around it that say’s “Be Kind…It’s the New Cool.”  The giver can present the card and bracelet to someone, especially a child, saying that they “caught” the child in the act of doing a kind thing”

His family thought up the idea, but doesn’t it sound so much like a “God idea”?

What if this was the way God worked? For every time we did a kind thing, He noticed and gave us a prize. I know it sounds simplistic and maybe even goofy, but I think the noticing and the award would go a long way. Try comparing that to what a shaming or an “I got ya’” attitude does.

Rather than make us feel…what the use is or believing that we will never measure up, we would feel good about taking the high road, when we showed kindness. Further, what if we showed kindness, to the people who deserve it the least? Perhaps we could get a double prize.

Is this an elementary way to think?  Perhaps it is, but God’s ways are sometimes so simple, yet very effective.

As a matter of fact, wasn’t it that realization of kindness that caused us to open the door of possibility to His invitation. Why? Because, it dawned on us, this Love was not anything like we expected.

I thank God, I had a group of ordinary women, who week after week, welcomed me into their midst with no “agenda” in mind, other than to show me love. Believe me; I was very aware that there were not the usual strings of expectations attached.

They provided the platform for the Holy Spirit to woo me into the Truth and subsequently into the Family of God.

Until that point, I avoided the God that I was scared of, by any means that I could. Sadly, He was presented to me as very angry and vindictive. And not only did I believe that He was that way, but other Christians seemed pretty judgmental too.

Why would anyone want a part of that?

But step by step…day by day…His kindness, through these women, broke through the dark clouds in my heart.

As Kindness sang a song of deliverance, I was able to fly out of the cage that held me prisoner for way too many years. Now, I too can sing a song declaring that the Lord is kind. It is a very sweet sounding tune indeed.

Linda Maynard

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Kindness as a Way of Life

Today I am writing about kindness, another fruit of the Spirit. Here are some thoughts that come to mind on the subject. It is the loving kindness of God that leads to repentance. Love is kind. Kindness is something I have ingrained in my children from the time they were toddlers at the hair pulling stage. “Be kind!” I said. I do believe the love of God in our hearts causes us to want to be kind. I know I have a hard time whenever I see someone being unkind, especially to children and animals. The Bible also tells us to be kind to all and not to show favoritism. It is easy to be kind to the select few to whom it is in your best interests to be kind, but a true Christian is kind to all and not just for show, but because he or she has kindness as a way of life.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

The Cords of Human Kindness

No one is useless in this world who lightens the burdens of another. ” Charles Dickens, Our Mutual Friend.

For the past few weeks, Kingdom Bloggers has been reviewing the gifts of the Spirit, according to Paul’s list in Galatians 5:22. Paul is distinguishing the authenticity of those who claim to be followers of Christ--those who truly have the power of the Holy Spirit should be exhibiting fruits like love, peace, patience and kindness. Earlier in his letter to the Galatians, Paul instructed these believers to “love your neighbors as yourself” (the Great Commandment, Matt. 22:37-39).

This week, we examine kindness. In the Greek, the transliteration of the word used for kindness is “chrestotes,” which means goodness, kindness, mercy: what is right. Kindness is always the “right thing.” The quote from Dickens’ Our Mutual Friend is, I think, an apt description of kindness--an effort to lighten the burdens of others.

Sometimes, that kind of effort means giving a smile and forbearance when a sharp word might be deserved; giving up a restful afternoon to instead help a friend in need; biting your tongue instead of criticizing. There are countless ways to show kindness. How often do we instead display the opposite?

Anyone who withholds kindness from a friend forsakes the fear of the Almighty.” Job 6:14

I have a friend with an amazing capacity for kindness toward animals--she foster-parents dogs that most of us would consider dangerous: pit bulls. The incidence of dangerous pit bulls, however, has more to do with the individual owner than inherent traits in the dog, and with breeders who deliberately try to create a more aggressive animal.  

What about people? Studies have shown that effects of abuse against children is cumulative--these precious ones experience more depression, mental health problems, suicide attempts, physical and emotional symptoms, and engage in more high-risk behaviors. 

You gave me life and showed me kindness, and in your providence watched over my spirit.” Job 10:12

Kindness (goodness, love and mercy) from adults toward children goes a long way in producing a stable, contented society. Just as cruelty to animals produces aggressive, defensive behaviors in them, so may cruelty and neglect produce children of its own kind.

I have some distinct memories from childhood of kindnesses shown: a relative praying over my injured hand, an aunt who loved to hang out with us, my grandmother slipping me some money to buy something I wanted, a teacher encouraging me in my creativity, my mom talking to me on the phone every day after school from work. Kindness builds cumulatively.

Kindness is not necessarily niceness.” Sometimes the kindest thing is to be lovingly honest or direct, even when doing so may mean incurring the anger or wrath of the other person. God does that with us--it is His kindness that leads us to repentance (Romans 2:4). He truthfully reveals to us our faults and failures, yet at that very same moment, tells us of His great love for us.

I led them with cords of human kindness, with ties of love. To them I was like one who lifts a little child to the cheek, and I bent down to feed them. Hosea 11:4

Friday, August 10, 2012

The Lesson of Long Suffering - by Amanda Silvers

A phrase that I find reoccurring in my communications with my friends of late is this, "We're never promised this is going to be an easy ride."  Boy howdy!  Now there's a statement I could write volumes about.

Long suffering is described as "patient endurance".  Patience is most definitely NOT one of my strongest virtues and endurance is something that I know the Lord has woven into the tapestry of my being.  Endurance isn't even an option or a choice.  It's a necessity.  As Christians we are promised in His Word that there is nothing too difficult or too tedious for us to walk through with His help.

Romans 8:28-29    
"And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers."

Most of us during our time here will experience certain life events which put our patience to the test.  A death, a divorce, a crisis.... it is in these moments that our feet are held to the fire and required to make a choice.  We can chose to crumble or pull the covers up over our heads and try to keep reality out as much as possible or we can pull ourselves up by our bootstraps and put one step in front of the other and move....even if it's slowly.... moving forward.

Another lesson that's come into play in my own life personally is this- there is only so much we are able to control with our human hands.  The big picture is in His hands.  We can waste time frustrated and running around trying to orchestrate and rearrange issues in our lives or the lives of others which we don't understand or agree with, but the truth is those efforts are futile.  It isn't our "control" which matters.  We didn't create the universe.  We aren't gifted with omniscient power and wisdom.  It is only a Most High God Who has perfect insight.  We are merely human.  We have trials.  Our instruction is to turn to Him during these times and trust that He is in control. 

Proverbs 19:21
"Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand."

Our Lord will never leave us nor forsake us.  He has given us His Word, our instruction book on what to do when things feels too much or too unbearable. In what I imagine as a perfect world we would all live together in harmony.  We would help those who were suffering and love those who were struggling.  There would be no judgment and no condemnation.  We would realize that none among us is any more important or special than anyone else.  God views us all the same.  We were all created in HIS image.  Not just a few of us- of you- ALL of us.
My prayer is that each of you will have a wonderful week and weekend.  Take time to be quiet and listen to Him.  Turn your cares and concerns over to the Father and let Him carry your burden for you.  He wants to so much.  All we have to do is ask.  Be blessed!