Friday, April 4, 2008

Cultivating Kindness

“Kindness is in our power, even when fondness is not.” Samuel Johnson (1709-1784)

Like all disciplines, making kindness a part of one’s being is no simple thing. All though everyone knows someone who is the epitome of a kind soul, that person is the rare one. That person probably exhibits all of the fruits of the spirit in his or her daily life.

This week has been very trying on my attempts to cultivate kindness in my interactions with others. After reading a bit of A Woman’s Walk With God: Growing in the Fruit of the Spirit by Elizabeth George, I realize I have many steps to take. Mrs. George says in the introduction of the book, “We must never forget that all nine fruits stand together: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control make up our walk with God…No one of them can be missing, and all must be evident to be God’s fruit.”

It seems an overwhelming task, this idea of discipline. But, God in His wonderful way lets us know he has a plan for our growth and if we follow His plan and not our own willfulness, we will become the women He created us to be.

Look at 2 Peter 1:2-8 (NASB) ~

“Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord; seeing that His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to live and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence (virtue).

For by these He has granted to us His precious and magnificent promises, so that by them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world by lust.

Now for this very reason also, applying all diligence, in your faith supply moral excellence (virtue), and in your moral excellence, knowledge, and in your knowledge, self-control, and in your self-control, perseverance, and in your perseverance, godliness, and in your godliness, brotherly kindness, and in your brotherly kindness, love.

For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they render you neither useless nor unfruitful in the true knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

Cultivating the fruits of the Spirit is one of the goals of our walk with the Lord. It is not the end of the road, but the steps along the path. It is clear that the growth of one fruit prepares the way for the next fruit for the life deliberating seeking to know God.

Let’s look at three parts of incorporating kindness into our walk.

1) Requirement – Being kind isn’t an optional part of being a Christian.

Micah 6:8 ~ “He has told you, O man what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?”

2 Timothy 2:23a ~ “The Lord’s bond-servant must not be quarrelsome, but be kind to all.”

2) Results – When we seek to do God’s will, we are able to teach it to others.

Proverbs 31:26 ~ “She opens her mouth in wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue.”

3) Reputation – Our life should reflect Christ in a positive light, so that we have an influence in leading others to Him.

Acts 9:36-37a, 40-42 ~ Now in Joppa there was a disciple named Tabitha (which translated is called Dorcas); this woman was abounding with deeds of kindness and charity which she continually did. And it happened at that time that she fell sick and died…But Peter sent them all out and knelt down and prayed, and turning to the body, he said, ‘Tabitha, arise.’ And she opened her eyes, and when she saw Peter, she sat up. And he gave her his hand and raised her up; and calling the saints and the widows, he presented her alive. It became know all over Joppa, and many believed in the Lord.”

Each deliberate act or word of kindness benefits us as well as the recipient. We start to care about those to whom we are kind. We start to think about what is best for that person. The first step is to pray that God will give us a soft heart that sees the needs of others before ourselves. This attitude will abundantly increase our fruits.

Please Pray for the families of Joshua, Shawn, & Shelley

Last night two teenage boys were killed in a car accident. They were Joshua (18) and Shawn (16) Harless. How devastating this must be for their family and friends. My son had English class with Shawn last year. This makes you realize just how precious every moment is. My son sent me a text message that said, "It's funny how short life can be." Death is a hard reality for the young to grasp. It is the second time since middle school that a child my son has known has died in an accident.

The accident happened near where, 29 years ago to the month, my husband's 16 year old cousin Tim Russell was in an accident that resulted in his death. It is a sharp pain that has stayed with the family all these years.

My heart is crushed for the family of Joshua and Shawn. And my younger daughter told us last night that a friend of hers, who she graduated HS with, has been moved into a hospice house because of non-malignant, but terminal brain tumors she has had all her life. Her name is Shelley Brooks (22). Please remember Shelley and her family.

Thank you for faithful prayers.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Book Review: The Prodigal Comes Home by Michael English

I had the opportunity to go to the We Will Stand Concert Tour in Nitro, WV on March 28. The show was sponsored by WorldVision and featured headline performers Avalon and Michael English. Two new groups were the opening acts: Daniel Doss Band and Cadia. All the music was great. In fact, amazingly enough the Daniel Doss Band learned all the tour members' music and everyone performed to live music instead of accompaniment tracks.

As much as I enjoyed the music, the most impactful and inspirational point during the concert was Michael English's testimony. He sang a song and then shared briefly how God had brought him out of the disaster he had made of his own life through rebellion and drug use. He made the comment that his sins were made public on "Inside Edition" (a television equivalent to a check-out line gossip magazine, in my opinion!). Since I had not kept up on news in Christian music I had only vague memories of Michael's spectacular fall. I bought his book after the concert, had it signed and started reading as soon as I finished my morning devotions on Saturday.

I found it difficult to put the book down. In fact it went to the bowling alley with me for my oldest daughter's birthday celebration. I read while everyone else bowled. Michael is astonishingly honest throughout the book. He details not only the facts as revealed in newspapers and television shows, but shares his own thoughts and feelings about everything. He is very candid and open. He doesn't sugar-coat anything with excuses such as a difficult childhood or an inferiority complex. He fully faces his own responsibility and praises God for his graciousness in giving him repeated opportunities for repentance.

I love the way he sums up how good God is to redeem His own: "I want people to know that even though God doesn't always deliver the Damascus Road miracle, that even though the road back home can be winding and rough, our heavenly Father walks with us and welcomes us home with open arms."

I highly recommend this book to anyone who is or has been struggling with rebellion, or who loves someone who is struggling. Everyone in my house is lined up to take their turn to read it and I have friends who have asked for it next. I'm planning to buy a copy for the church library and submit a review in next month's church newsletter.

By the way, Michael finished his portion of the concert with the song "In Christ Alone." Here are the words to the chorus:

In Christ alone
I place my trust
And find my glory

In the power of the cross
In every victory
Let it be said of me
My source of strength
My source of hope
Is Christ alone

That's the most important part of his message, isn't it?

Spring Reading Thing 2008

I'm starting a few weeks late into this, but I decided to join because I always!! have books I want to read...some that I bought and are sitting on my bookshelf unread...some that I started and got distracted (or I misplaced the book)...some I've read before but really want to refresh my memory of the book.

I'll post a review for each book I complete. I am an eclectic reader so my books run the gamut of writing styles.


A Woman After God's Own Heart by Elizabeth George. She is one of my favorite Christian writers. I have about six of her books. This one is great. I've started reading it sort of as a daily devotion. That way I get time to chew on each chapter's wisdom before moving on to the next one.

A Wife After God's Own Heart by Elizabeth George. The next book in the series. Our most important role after being a child of God is this one.

A Mom After God's Own Heart by Elizabeth George. My daughter has started this one and I can already see that she's getting a lot of ideas about being a godly mother to her 3 year old son. I'm looking forward to my turn to read it.

A Woman Walk with God by Elizabeth George. The subtitle is "Growing in the Fruit of the Spirit." One great line I found from a quick scan of the introduction: "But we must never forget that all nine fruit stand together: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control make up our walk with God." She goes on to relate the idea this way: "They are like a string of Christmas lights--there is one string with many lights that, when plugged into the electrical socket, all light up at once. However, if one bulb goes out, the entire string goes out. That's how God's fruit is borne in our lives. No one of them can be missing, and all must be evident to be God's fruit." (emphasis mine)

A Woman's Secret to a Balanced Life by Lysa Terkurst and Sharon Jaynes. These ladies are leaders of Proverbs 31 Ministries. I've listened to the radio snippets and read the magazine for years. This book is their stories sharing how to find God's priorities in our lives.

A Christian Woman's Guide to Hospitality by Quin Sherrer and Laura Watson. I've had this book for years. I'm at a season in my live where I need to reread and again apply the principles in my home. We have 28 missionaries from Georgia coming in June to help with two church starts. My husband and I will be heavily involved with them during their week here. One highlight from last summer's trip was a barbecue we hosted in our yard, only last year there were just six missionaries. Since our home is a central location, it will be used the whole week. I want to make sure that I follow God's guidelines for hospitality and continue to use our home in that way for our own community even after the missionaries go back to Georgia.

The Four Loves by CS Lewis. My dear husband got this for me as a Christmas gift, knowing that the author is one of my favorites. I have read the Chronicles of Narnia completely through twice, once at 16 and again before the release of the Hollywood movie.

The Screwtape Letters by CS Lewis. After discussing what a great allegory this book was with the pastor of one of the small mission churches we are working with, I told him I gave my copy to someone years ago who, in turn, gave it to someone else. I've no idea how many people were blessed by my copy...but I got a blessing when the young pastor showed up one Sunday at the mission church his father leads (across from our home) and presented me with a new copy. He had also purchased himself a copy.


Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen. I loved the Hollywood production of Pride and Prejudice. I happened upon the British version on PBS late one night and was hooked into staying up much too late for several Tuesdays to watch. The hook? Colin Firth plays Mr. Darcy in both productions! Now I want to add the PBS series to our DVD collection! I do note that Jane Austin's books are written with more period language than the theatrical versions. You can't skim through and expect to keep up with the story.

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte. My absolute favorite book of all time. I've read it so many times I've lost count. I've seen every theatrical version going back to the 1930s. I like to set aside a little time to curl up on the swing with a cup of tea and shortbread cookies to visit with my favorite characters. It's becoming a yearly event. (I own one ancient copy to brittle to read. ;-> )

Chosen by Ted Dekker. Christian sci-fi(?) author. I got hooked on his work when I read his Circle Trilogy. This is book 1 in a series corresponding to that trilogy.

Infidel by Ted Dekker. Book 2.

Renegade by Ted Dekker. Book 3.

Chaos by Ted Dekker. Book 4. Yes, I am one of those people who need to read every book in a series. And yes, I get fixated on an author or genre for a time before moving on. And yes, Ted Dekker is a long way from Jane Austen and Charlotte Bronte!!

Danger in the Shadows by Dee Henderson. Great Christian mystery writer. She allows her characters to live their faith without seque-ing (sp?) into preachiness. This is a prequel to her O'Malley series. Gotta start at the beginning ;-> ! I read Before I Wake...looking forward to book 2 in the series.

Sweet Revenge by Diane Mott Davidson. Book 14 in the series!! I love a good culinary mystery. I own paperback copies of all her books. I store them with my cookbooks. And I have used several of her gourmet recipes. This one hasn't come out in paperback...I might not get to by it until summer. That's why it's last on the list.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Word Filled Wednesdays: Teach your children