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Monday, November 27, 2017

The Law of Kindness: Six Ways to Bless Others on Social Media

I was scrolling through my social media feed this morning, and I saw these expressions:
“He deserved that!” (a negative consequence of his actions)
“Why (some people) wish (named person) were dead.”
“Hate speech”
“(Named person) said what needed to be said.”

The Bible says that one of the characteristics of a virtuous woman is: She openeth her mouth with wisdom; and in her tongue is the law of kindness (Proverbs 31:26).

In fact, the Bible often encourages people to be kind.
  • But love ye your enemies, and do good, and lend, hoping for nothing again; and your reward shall be great, and ye shall be the children of the Highest: for he is kind unto the unthankful and to the evil (Luke 6:35).
  • Charity (love) suffereth long, and is kind (1 Corinthians 13:4a).
  • And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you (Ephesians 4:32).

I understand why we get exasperated with others’ foolish actions and words. I do, too! It’s only normal to notice unwise acts and words and judge them. I get it. Many times, I just turn off the TV news because of the way people act.

As Christians, are we supposed to go around being less than gracious? I don’t think so. We are responsible for our reactions.

A preacher has the right to call out sin, and I believe all Christians can present what the Bible says. From time to time, I’ve written blog posts about subjects like: abortion, pornography, abuse, homosexuality, cheating, drug use, and terrorism. I try to do so in a kind way, as many people practice these sins, and the solution to every sin problem is the gospel of Christ. My purpose is always to point people to Jesus. (If you ever see otherwise in my posts or detect an unkind spirit, please call me out. I mean it.) I want people to be aware and alert and ultimately to go to the Lord for the healing of their souls. Jesus said, Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest (Matthew 11:28).

Do people sometimes act stupid? Of course. Do some people need to be called out? Yes, by those in authority to do so. Is there any excuse for hate speech? No, the Bible is against all hate speech. Should anyone ever wish another person dead? No, that’s entirely for God to decide.

I resolved years ago not to comment one way or another on certain kinds of posts. It has saved me emotionally. I can just scroll on by! A few times, someone else has tried to lead me into controversy. When I see this, I usually refrain from answering. A soft answer turneth away wrath: but grievous words stir up anger (Proverbs 15:1). In the multitude of words there wanteth not sin: but he that refraineth his lips is wise (Proverbs 10:19).

You might want to prayerfully consider your own boundaries. To what kinds of posts will you not comment? Which ones are better left alone? The flipside, of course, is: where can you be a blessing and encouragement?

What are some practical ways to sow kindness with our social media postings?
  1. Think like Philippians 4:8. Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true … honest, … just, … pure, … lovely, … of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.
  2. Avoid unnecessary controversies. But foolish and unlearned questions avoid, knowing that they do gender strifes (2 Timothy 2:23).
  3. Post to encourage. Let us therefore follow after the things which make for peace, and things wherewith one may edify another (Romans 14:19).
  4. Use social media as a prayer list. Many of my friends ask for prayer for family members, themselves, and friends. I try to stop and pray for each one and write a short note to let them know I’m praying for them. This can be a great ministry. I thank my God, making mention of thee always in my prayers (Philemon 1:4).
  5. Share Scripture. I love it when a friend adds a Scripture verse to a pretty photo. It’s great to read a Bible verse as you scroll down your newsfeed. For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope (Romans 15:4).
  6. Be joyful. Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Ghost (Romans 15:13).

There are enough negative voices on social media.

You can make a positive difference!

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Blessing One Another in Song

Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom;
teaching and admonishing one another in psalms
and hymns and spiritual songs,
singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.
(Colossians 3:16).

Every time I read this passage, I realize how far I have to go. I mean, when is the last time I was filled with songs, psalms, and hymns—so much so that it was overflowing to others?

It’s not a new concept. The Chronicles were written back in 450-425 B.C. Sing unto him (God), sing psalms unto him, talk ye of all his wondrous works (1 Chronicles 16:9).

Here are some more:
  • Sing unto him, sing psalms unto him: talk ye of all his wondrous works (Psalm 105:2).
  • Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord; Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ (Ephesians 5:19-20).

When God’s Word—the Bible—dwells in us richly, we will be so filled with the Lord that we’ll have wisdom, be able to teach, and our hearts will overflow in joyful song and praise. We’ll actually be singing psalms and spiritual songs which will be shared with those around us.

What’s my speech like? What is yours like?

Is it a song of praise to God? Is it filled with thanksgiving?

How can we achieve this? How can we completely turn around the way we communicate with others? How can we get a song—so we can share it?

Based on the verses above, here’s how: 
  1. Be in God’s Word.
  2. Know the Psalms.
  3. Meditate on hymns. (The old traditional hymns are filled with Truth and praise.)
  4. Fill your mind with spiritual songs.
  5. Sing in your heart.
  6. Address Psalms and hymns to the Lord, in private prayer and praise.
  7. Praise God in your speech. Thank Him aloud, making it a habit.

You'd be surprised how listening to edifying music helps you develop a heart of praise. What you feed your heart—Scripture and music—works on your spirit. Do you want to overflow with thanksgiving?

Become a student of praise.


Saturday, November 18, 2017

Do We Really Want to Go Around Offending People? A Conversation

Some people get offended rather easily. They’re offended by an array of simple things: flags, expressions, words, statues, signs, plants, postures, and even history. Some are offended because others are offended! I understand some of these. They're because of misuse and interpretations. But, that’s not exactly what this post is about.

I recently saw a T-shirt advertised on social media. Frankly, I thought it was in poor taste. Then, the person who posted it said she “would like to wear it and walk around offending people.” Okay, it’s her right to wear whatever she wants. She can put on any printed T-shirt, even if others don’t like it. She can express her ideas on her top or walk around carrying a sign, if she wishes. That’s what freedom of speech is all about. I don’t have to agree, and I can even be offended. She has the right to express her thoughts.

It made me think: as Christians, are we supposed to walk around offending people, on purpose? Are we supposed to in-your-face try to offend?

What does the Bible say?
  • LORD, who shall abide in thy tabernacle? who shall dwell in thy holy hill? He that walketh uprightly, and worketh righteousness, and speaketh the truth in his heart. He that backbiteth not with his tongue, nor doeth evil to his neighbour, nor taketh up a reproach against his neighbour (Psalm 15:1-3).
  • Jesus said, Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets (Matthew 7:12).
  • If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men (Romans 12:18).
  • Giving no offence in any thing, that the ministry be not blamed (2 Corinthians 6:3). It goes on to say that as Christians we rather suffer than being offensive.
  • And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted …. (Ephesians 4:32a).
  • Finally, be ye all of one mind, having compassion one of another, love as brethren, be pitiful, be courteous: Not rendering evil for evil, or railing for railing: but contrariwise blessing; knowing that ye are thereunto called, that ye should inherit a blessing. For he that will love life, and see good days, let him refrain his tongue from evil, and his lips that they speak no guile: Let him eschew evil, and do good; let him seek peace, and ensue it (1 Peter 3:8-11).

What is a Christian’s reaction supposed to be, if he feels offended?
  • Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye (Colossians 3:13).
  • … forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you (Ephesians 4:32b).
  • But and if ye suffer for righteousness' sake, happy are ye: and be not afraid of their terror, neither be troubled; But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear: Having a good conscience; that, whereas they speak evil of you, as of evildoers, they may be ashamed that falsely accuse your good conversation in Christ. For it is better, if the will of God be so, that ye suffer for well doing, than for evil doing (1 Peter 3:14-17).
Our example is Jesus. He didn’t go around intentionally offending people. If they were offended, it was because He spoke the truth. It wasn’t because He was unkind. May we be Christ-like Christians and avoid causing intentional offences. Let’s be sensitive to others and kind. May we not let our differences of opinion make us offensive. We're supposed to point to Jesus, who said,

Let your light so shine before men, 
that they may see your good works, 
and glorify your Father which is in heaven.
(Matthew 5:16)


Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Four Easy Boundaries for Christian Dating

Some years ago, I was talking to teen girls about personal boundaries. Afterwards, a young adult woman asked how to know how far to go. It was a sincere question, and she needed a solid answer.

Where should we set boundaries? Why do we need them? What if … ?

First, I think it’s great when parents talk openly with their teens about this—way before they date. Talk about purity and right behavior with your children. A lot of parents aren’t open with their kids, and they don’t provide them with guidelines. Young people don’t know what’s expected of them. They have no clue.

So, Susie goes out with Fred, and she’s scared. They haven’t talked. Susie needs a framework, some kind of guideline.

Let’s look first at what the Bible says to young people.
  • The context is about avoiding fornication: Now concerning the things whereof ye wrote unto me: It is good for a man not to touch a woman (1 Corinthians 7:1).
  • This passage speaks first to unmarried men, then to unmarried women. But I would have you without carefulness. He that is unmarried careth for the things that belong to the Lord, how he may please the Lord: But he that is married careth for the things that are of the world, how he may please his wife. There is difference also between a wife and a virgin. The unmarried woman careth for the things of the Lord, that she may be holy both in body and in spirit: but she that is married careth for the things of the world, how she may please her husband (1 Corinthians 7:32-34).
  • Let no man despise thy youth; but be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation (lifestyle), in charity (love), in spirit, in faith, in purity (1 Timothy 4:12).
  • The young, single pastor Timothy is admonished about how to treat people in his congregation: The elder women as mothers; the younger as sisters, with all purity (1 Timothy 5:2).

These short passages (above) give a great four-point outline for dating conduct:
  1. Treat other single people like your brother or sister.
  2. Please God.
  3. Don’t touch. (Only touch as is normal between friends.)
  4. Be pure, both in body and spirit.

How can we achieve this while we’re dating? Here are a few suggestions that are tried and proven:
  • Plan your dates for public places—where someone might walk by at any time. Always go to public places! You can go to concerts, ball games, church functions, restaurants, cafés, parks, boardwalks, malls…. Use your imagination!
  • Perhaps a corollary to the first rule is never be alone in a house, together. Nothing is more intimate than knowing the bedroom is a few steps away—and no one else is in the house. Never, ever end up alone in a house all by yourselves. If it happens (your roommate leaves, for example), you can both step outside. Also, don’t park a car and remain inside it. When you arrive at your destination, get out of the car and go to your activity. You can talk on the way. These two rules will save you from some very awkward situations.
  • Keep all your clothes on. I am amazed how many moms don’t talk to their daughters about this. If a guy “wants to see,” that is simply not acceptable. Only husbands have a right to see. Do not lift up, unbutton, unzip, or let anyone see what’s only for husbands. Keep all clothes properly on. Enough said.
  • Decide before your heart is involved where your boundaries are. Many Christian women and men decide not to kiss until the wedding. It is wise to be very careful where you draw the line—and stick to it. Make sure your guideline is purity. That means absolutely no touching of body parts that would be covered by a modest swimsuit (women) and surfing shorts (men). That also means no touching other than how you would touch a friend. A touch to the arm or holding a hand is “friendship” touching. Be very careful about full body hugs—probably not a good idea—and kissing. If you decide to allow a kiss, make sure it’s short and sweet, not anything else. If you set boundaries as a couple, it is easier to keep them.
  • Most important is your heart attitude. Is it more important to please God or this person? Clearly God. So, make sure you please Him in every area of your life—especially as you get to know the person you’re dating. Get to know this person’s heart and soul. Find out his goals, his values, his desires. Evaluate your potential partner on the basis of God’s standards.

I hate to have to mention this, but many men take advantage of naïve women. They butter them up with words and gifts and “love” and then ask for sexual favors—or force themselves upon them. This is not true love! This is selfishness. The Bible says that love (called charity) suffereth long (is patient), and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil (1 Corinthians 13:4.5). If your boyfriend doesn’t behave purely toward you, you have the wrong boyfriend. If he’s not willing to wait until after marriage for sex, you have the wrong boyfriend. He’s only thinking of himself. If he blames you, is easily provoked, and says ugly things about you, run! He will be more abusive the longer you let this relationship go on. You do not want to live with a manipulative man who shows you only lust and not biblical, pure love. By the way, you always have the right to say no and flee. I know this is hard, but if a man has committed a crime towards you (date rape), he needs to be reported to authorities—so that his next girlfriend doesn’t suffer the same fate.

A man who truly respects a woman will behave in a decent way towards her. He will not ask her for favors. He will treat her as a Christian sister and with biblical love and purity. The Bible says this goes for women, too. 

Purity is important.

I’m sure you want nothing less.

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Wonder Woman!

Some of my friends secretly wish they were Wonder Woman. They want to conquer the world and be beautiful and not break a sweat while they do it. They want to rear perfect children, make gourmet meals, have a squeaky clean house and car, work full-time, be successful, and look fabulous.

Oh yeah … you’ve had those dreams, too!

Then, we wake up to reality, take off our shiny Wonder Woman headband, wash our hair, and stumble into some acceptably clean clothes, ready to take on the real world—as we start the coffee and break up the fight that just broke out between our kids.

I laughed to myself about the Wonder Woman mystique and the ridiculousness of it all when I thought …
             You really are Wonder Woman! 
                    (Not the silly caricature, but you really are special.) 

The Bible shows that good women are unique and powerful and wise and strong. Here are a few Scripture passages about women. They show we have special value.
  • You’re created in the image of God with superiority over all the rest of creation. So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them. And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth (Genesis 1:27-28).
  • Each woman is actually designed by God, who thinks about us individually. Many, O LORD my God, are thy wonderful works which thou hast done, and thy thoughts which are to us-ward: they cannot be reckoned up in order unto thee: if I would declare and speak of them, they are more than can be numbered (Psalm 40:5).
  • Again, God designed us personally. I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvellous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well. How precious also are thy thoughts unto me, O God! how great is the sum of them! If I should count them, they are more in number than the sand: when I awake, I am still with thee (Psalm 139:14, 17-18).
  • A gracious woman retaineth honour (Proverbs 11:16a).
  • A virtuous woman is a crown to her husband (Proverbs 12:4a).
  • Every wise woman buildeth her house (Proverbs 14:1a).
  • A godly woman is of indescribable worth. She’s clothed with strength and honor. She’s wise and kind, and her family and friends praise her. Who can find a virtuous woman? for her price is far above rubies. Strength and honour are her clothing; and she shall rejoice in time to come. She openeth her mouth with wisdom; and in her tongue is the law of kindness. Her children arise up, and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praiseth her. Many daughters have done virtuously, but thou excellest them all. Favour is deceitful, and beauty is vain: but a woman that feareth the LORD, she shall be praised. Give her of the fruit of her hands; and let her own works praise her in the gates (Proverbs 31:10, 25-26, 28-31).
  • Older women are supposed to live righteously and mentor younger women. The aged women likewise, that they be in behaviour as becometh holiness, not false accusers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things; That they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children, To be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed (Titus 2:3-5).
  • A woman's decoration isn’t about her clothing; it’s about her controlled, peaceful spirit, which pleases God. Whose adorning let it not be that outward adorning of plaiting the hair, and of wearing of gold, or of putting on of apparel; But let it be the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great Price (1 Peter 3:3-4).

God puts good women on a pedestal. We have great worth in His eyes when we’re following His leadership and acting in a controlled, pure manner. The Lord has a high view of a woman in her home. He asks us to live purely, refrain our tongues, and mentor other younger women. He says our controlled, quiet spirit actually becomes our adorning.

So, when you want to be Wonder Woman and feel like you’re coming up short, re-read these passages. You truly are fearfully and wonderfully made, and your value is far above rubies.