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How would he take you out?

May 25, 2012 5 comments

I was faced with a serious question the other day.  It was from an article I stumbled across while on a Christian leadership website.  I’m going to ask you this question…and you need to answer personally and honestly.  I’m then going to ask you the same question in a couple of different contexts.

* How would our common enemy, Satan, take you out, rendering you unable to serve your family and your community?

That’s a very personal question.  But how would he take you out?  What gimmicks would he use?  What are your weaknesses?  This question isn’t just a “how are you tempted most?” question.  How would he take you out?  How would he destroy your service to God?

*How would our common enemy, Satan, take out our church family, rendering us unable to serve each other and the people around us?

This changes things just a bit because now we’re pushed to take a peek inside our local church family.  How would our enemy try to destroy our church families?  How would he get us off track?  What lies would he tell us?  What goals would he give us that are not what Christ wants at the top of our families’ agendas?

*If he could stop or hinder our discipleship process, our raising up of active believers in Jesus and his purpose, how would he do it?

This question makes one assumption…that we’re active in making disciples as Jesus instructs in Matthew 28:19-20.  Our purpose isn’t just to receive our ticket to Heaven and then decide to sit back and ride life away as though there are no expectations.  Maybe you haven’t looked at Christianity like this.  Satan loves to let Christians sit by without a feeling of daily purpose.  In this strategy, we lose the possibility of influencing others to choose Christ as well.

Bible focus: 1 Peter 5:8   Control yourselves. Be on your guard. Your enemy the devil is like a roaring lion. He prowls around looking for someone to chew up and swallow.

This stuff is tough!  I’m convicted.  When we forget we have an enemy that wants us to forget about God’s purpose for our lives, we tend to also forget about God.  Peter tells us to be aware that Satan loves for us to forget about him.  He encourages us to be on guard.  Being on guard means we’re also on purpose.

Love-Serve-Spread the Word,

Ed

Article referenced, written by Mike Breen, can be found here:

http://www.vergenetwork.org/2012/02/02/obituary-for-the-american-church-mike-breen/

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Kindness Changes Things

January 13, 2012 Leave a comment

 

  • A mistake made by many people with great convictions is that they will let nothing stand in the way of their views, not even kindness. ~ Bryant H. McGill
  • A part of kindness consists in loving people more than they deserve. ~ Joseph Joubert
  • No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted. ~ AESOP
  • The words you say mean nothing, the way you say them means everything. ~ Eileen Parra
  • Great persons are able to do great kindnesses. ~ Miguel de Cervantes
  • Wherever there is a human being, there is an opportunity for kindness.  ~ Seneca
  • The worldly man treats certain people kindly because he ‘likes’ them: the Christian, trying to treat everyone kindly, finds himself liking more and more people as he goes on – including people he could not even have imagined himself liking at the beginning. ~ C.S. Lewis

Do you remember the Liberty Mutual commercial from a couple years ago?  It was titled, “Do the right thing.”  I know I’m getting old, but the first time I watched that my eyes became just a little weepy.  If you don’t remember, one person was walking down the street and helped a mom and little baby…the baby had just dropped something from a stroller.  Someone noticed the action of this man and then later saw where they could be kind as well to someone who crossed their path. Each person who saw kindness done by someone else had new eyes for where they could be kind in their day as well.  It was a great commercial because I think that it created the sense in many of us that says, “I can do that.”

So let’s review where we’ve been the last week or so.  We’ve jumped into the ‘love chapter’ of the Bible…1 Corinthians 13…and we’re specifically focusing on verses 4-8 and 13.  But let’s go back just a bit more.  Jesus used the word love in His great commandment response in Matthew 22.  Jesus says that the two greatest commandments are to love God with everything and to love our neighbor as we love ourselves (Matthew 22:37-39).  So here we are now looking at Paul’s definition of love.  Last week we looked at patience. This week kindness.  So what Paul is saying is that being kind is part of loving our neighbor.  But what does kindness look like? Again, Paul does not say that this is an option of being loving…he writes that it simply is part of love.  If we are to be successful in loving our neighbors, family and even enemies with God’s love, we need to find out how we can become more kind to others.

Some people think kindness is like humility or that it even shows weakness. Illustration:  When someone is up in your face and on your case a lot, kindness might be seen as a “backing down from a worthwhile fight.”  Ironically, being kind in that situation takes a lot more will power and control and strategy than simply responding with what you think is right.  Have you ever noticed that opportunities for kindness come when we’re busy, run down, defensive, broke, basically not ready?  Many times, when I have the chance to be kind, I find myself in a struggle.  Don’t get me wrong, I know that it’s the right thing to do, but I just don’t want to right then.  LOL  A bit selfish wouldn’t you say?

There’s a phrase that we’ve all heard.  Random Act of Kindness.  I’m all for random acts of kindness…it’s just that I’m learning, I think, that in order to be kind as God is kind, we need to not be random in how we choose to have an attitude of kindness.  If we get out of bed and choose to be kind throughout the day, then those random acts will become less random and more usual.  Do you know people who live out kindness?  I’m sure we all do.  They always have a good word…even when they’re down.  They always have something to give…even if they’re at odds with the person receiving.  They always have time to share…even though they may be very busy.  They give kindness even to people who we might think don’t deserve it.  Kindness seems to always be the opposite of selfishness to that person.  They’re not random about their kindness.  It’s almost like they look for ways to be kind.

Let’s look at what kindness can do?  It makes one feel noticed.  It helps one feel like their personal need wasn’t hidden in the dark.  It can help a person feel cared for.  Many people feel like they might not deserve kindness when they receive it.  Have you ever noticed that consistent kindness can soften a heart even to the point of repentance and sorrowfulness?  Remember, Paul is giving us the definition of love. Kindness is a part of love.  Perfect love comes from God.  If all of that is true, then God gives the perfect kindness…and many of us probably know that because God doesn’t have to be kind to us.  None of us deserve it.

So the question is, how do we become more kind?  My thought is this.  We first look to see how Jesus was kind and imitate Him.  We choose, each morning to wake up with kindness on our heart so that when those opportunities come, they’re not interruptions, but places where our kindness…God’s kindness through us, can be plugged in.  And we have to always remember that it’s not about us.  It’s always about the other person.  When we can act out kindness in this way, God is the one who is glorified.

Love, Serve, Spread the Word,

Ed

Questions for Growth:

  • Are you usually a kind person to those around you?  Are you naturally kind?
  • Is there someone in your life or regularly in the path of your life that could use kindness?
  • How will you ‘do kindness’ to them this week?…even if they don’t seem to notice or care?
  • What will help you wake up each morning choosing kindness as the attitude of the day?

But how can I serve?

December 18, 2011 Leave a comment

Everybody can be great, because everybody can serve. You don’t have to have a college degree to serve.  You don’t have to make your subject and your verb agree to serve. You don’t have to know about Plato and Aristotle to serve. You don’t have to know Einstein’s theory of relativity to serve. You don’t have to know the second theory of thermodynamics in physics to serve. You only need a heart full of grace, a soul generated by love.

– Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. “The Drum Major Instinct” Delivered at Ebenezer Baptist Church, Atlanta, Georgia, February 4, 1968

The Gift of Service

December 16, 2011 Leave a comment

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A couple from the United States traveled to Beijing with their six-month-old baby girl. This was the couple’s first child and they were understandably nervous about traveling with her on a 16-hour flight. They called the hotel before their trip to inquire about babysitting services and the hotel’s facilities. When they arrived in Beijing, the hotel gave them a warm welcome to put them at ease. The family was escorted to their room, where the hotel had set up a baby tub with rubber ducks, a baby bottle steamer, milk warmer and a night light for the guests. The hotel also placed a humidifier in the room since the family might not be used to the extremely dry conditions in Beijing. The family was overwhelmed by the hotel’s attention to detail.

However, upon arrival, the young baby developed a rash on her neck and body. The babysitter and room attendant came to assist on her day off. She took the initiative to find out the hours of a pediatric hospital nearby. She knew it would be challenging to get an appointment on a weekday with no notice, and found out that if the couple wanted to see a doctor, they would have to wait in line. So, she went above the call of duty and woke up at 2:00 a.m. to obtain a number and a spot in line for the guests. She then waited in line at the hospital for more than six hours. The guests arrived and only had to wait 15 minutes to see the pediatrician. The parents broke down in tears, and were very touched by the babysitter’s efforts to treat them like family and the genuine care from the team. Upon departure, they noted that this was their first Ritz-Carlton experience, but definitely not their last.

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Customer service is one of the most talked about areas in the business world.  How one is treated on the phone when calling a company, or how one is treated when walking in a store, or how one is treated when walking through the checkout line can either guarantee a return customer or guarantee a bad reputation.  And, either way, the customer’s experience has a good chance of reaching other people’s ears.    Ritz Carlton’s service is known around the world as some of the best there is.  The company prides itself in going above and beyond to give guests the best possible experience they can.  The experience they look to create isn’t artificial.  It is very personal.  I’ve heard many Ritz Carlton ‘wow’ stories.  Some of these stories will bring tears to your eyes.  Some will have you wondering why they did it…because you know they lost money.  But to the Ritz Carlton staff, it’s not about money.  It’s about serving people…about noticing things that would normally go unnoticed in today’s culture.  It’s about seeing the actual need hidden in a quest’s request.

 

One story I recently read was about a Ritz Carlton employee who attended the same church as a local eighth grade teacher.  This teacher had shared a story about a female student in her class who had been recently diagnosed with a form of hard to treat cancer at the age of 13.  One of the girl’s big regrets is that she would not live to attend prom at her soon to be high school.  The Ritz Carlton employee’s heart and mind started working…remember, this girl isn’t even a guest.   The employee and her team jumped into action and secured the Ritz’s ballroom, formally invited some of the 13 year olds closest friends and family, had the seamstress from the Ritz make her a gown like no other, and provided a “Prince Charming.”  The IT guy from the hotel became the photographer and the lead visual person for the hotel became the DJ.  The chef provided choice foods for a 13 year old and friends.  And…this girl had the night of her life dancing all evening on legs that contained debilitating cancer.  The Ritz Carlton received nothing for this in return.  They simply served.  This girl’s family, after spending lots of time with this employee and her staff, considered them family…so much so that the seamstress who made the girl’s gown also handmade another gown that she was soon thereafter laid to rest in.

 

A lady came to Jesus one day (recorded in Matthew 26:6-13) while he was a guest in another person’s house.  She was so taken by her creator that she came to him and gently poured a very expensive oil/perfume on his head and hair.  Those present were “indignant.”  They demanded to know why she wasted this very expensive perfume.  With scowls on their faces they argued that the money could have been used to give to the poor.  Jesus responded with the question, “Why are you bothering this woman?”  He went on to simply say that she was serving her Lord.  Many of them sat there and probably struggle to understand what he meant.  They saw a woman who was not invited, who was sinful, and who was seemingly wasteful.  Jesus saw humility, bravery in approach, and openness to forgiveness that only he can give.  Jesus saw that she was willing to serve him.

 

The author John records that Jesus also took the servants role and washed his disciple’s feet (13:1-17).  In the latter part of this passage, Jesus says that we will do well to follow his example by washing one another’s feet as well.  In fact, Jesus goes on to say, “Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.”  Jesus gives us the example of serving…even taking on the lowly role of a foot washer.  It wasn’t about him.  His service was for others.  His very life was completely lived for other people…not himself.  He asks us to do the same.

 

How can service be your Christmas gift to Christ this year?  What things will you change in your life…your daily life…that will help you live more fully as a servant of the High Priest?  The Ritz Carlton employees train very hard to live out their servant qualities while on the job…and they are recognized around the planet for how they successfully accomplish their goal of caring and comforting their guests like no other in the travel industry.  How are we/you doing in this area?  How are you doing in this area with your family, your neighbors, your church family, your colleagues, your team mates?  Serving is about living life for other people.  Christ did not consider serving something that was just part of his life…like something special he did in his weekly schedule on Friday mornings at the local food pantry.  It was his life.  Is service to the King and those he died for just part of your life, or is it life to you?  Can this be your Christmas gift to Him this year?  You don’t even have to wait for New Years for this new resolution.  : – )  Put a smile on and start now.

 

Love, Serve, Spread the Word,

Ed

 

Questions for growth:

  • In what ways have you been served?  What memorable ways?  Ways that go against what is normal in today’s society?
  • Do you remember serving in a way that you felt completely blessed?  What did you do?  Do you remember what prompted you?  Was it a gut feeling, a voice?  Was it natural or did you have to convince yourself?
  • If we’re honest about the last question, I believe that we will agree that the ‘blessing’ that Jesus talks about in John 13:17 is a feeling like no other.  Do you want more of that?  It’s a simple question with a simple answer.
  • How can you/we turn your/our hearts around to realize that being a servant isn’t just a chore or duty or job, it’s what we were created for?  Jesus was born to serve.  We were too.
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