Category Archives: Friendship

Church Pondering & My New Books

My Church Ponderings

Today I have been pondering all the special churches, ministries, and church staff members who have grown our family in one way or another, so I want to thank them publicly! Each one has been special in its own kind of way.

University Baptist Church, Ft. Worth, Texas
Houston’s First Baptist Church, Houston, Texas
Autumn Creek Baptist Church, Houston, Texas
Calvary Community Church, Houston, Texas
First Baptist Church, Humble, Texas
First Baptist Church, O’Fallon, Missouri
Bear Creek Church, Katy, Texas
Lively Christian Fellowship, Lagos, Nigeria
*Second Baptist-1463, Katy, Texas

Special Churches

Then, there are those special churches our three children have attended and grown in their faith–after they left home! I am so grateful for them as well!

Second Baptist-West, Katy, Texas; *Houston’s First Baptist Church; Second Baptist, Levelland, Texas; First Baptist Church, Lubbock; Hyde Park Baptist Church, Austin, Texas; Redeemer Church, Babson Park, Massachusetts; Prestonwood Baptist Church, Dallas, Texas; Oak Hills Church, San Antonio Texas; Experience Life Church, Lubbock, Texas; *Kingsland Baptist Church, Katy, Texas; and *City Church, Lubbock, Texas!

If you are one of those churches, THANK YOU! Church members come and go from congregation to congregation, but they all leave a mark on our lives. I am so grateful for solid Bible-believing churches that have been a part of my husband, John, and our lives.

If you don’t have a church, take this as an ENCOURAGEMENT POST to seek one out next Sunday. Yoking together with others IS all it is made up to be.

*Currently Attending

God bless you.

My New Books – Just Published

Bible Word Search Puzzles: The Gospels, Volume 1

Bible Word Search Puzzles; Acts and Epistles, Volume 2

Bible Word Search Puzzles: Epistles and Revelation, Volume 3

Two Years Ago Today, Mom Went to Heaven!

Initial Remarks

Today marks two years since my dear mom passed away—August 27, 2020. I wrote the following letter four months after my mom died, recollecting the time my husband John and I spent living with her for four years in her home. I mailed this note to a few very close friends at the time, but today, I feel like posting this in her honor and sharing that I am still sad about a lot of things, but I know moving on would be what she would want for me.

Dear Friends

First, I want to thank all of you who have prayed for John and me over the past few years. We were in a unique season of life—a life we never expected to be in. It was challenging and rewarding at the same time.

Most of you know that in January 2016, I moved into my parent’s home when my dad was ill with leukemia and dementia. John was working overseas at the time. Dad died in February 2016.

Being concerned about mom, I stayed with her after Dad’s passing. The idea of her alone in the house made me want to stay with her. Unfortunately, 2016 brought a diagnosis of Stage 4 lung cancer to mom on top of all her other ailments, so I continued to stay at mom’s house. John came home from his overseas assignment shortly after mom’s diagnosis and moved into mom’s house with me.

We locked up our house, and our life became different—more different than we ever expected. John retired after completing his overseas assignment but found a little part-time work, and life moved on. We settled into our life with mom in west Houston, trying to adjust to not being in our own home. I did fine for the first two years. But, the last two years were physically and emotionally tough on me. As mom progressively needed more care and attention, I became more nervous and anxious. I was not my usual self. I had a hard time coping, although I was able to conceal it from others for the most part.

John saw and experienced my constant exhaustion, my need for respite, and my emotional stress worsening daily. He was my rock. I cannot imagine any other person being so kind and generous as giving up his home and life to partner with me in caretaking my mother – his mother-in-law. John occupied my mom with mind-boggling conversations and debates. He made dinner most days, and towards the end, his help and love truly inspired me as he provided nursing duties way beyond his pay grade. Christ-like love was indeed in action!

God knew my fragile mental state. And I hate to say it, but COVID was the lifeline I needed to be able to move back home. It had become apparent that I was not doing well with our 24/7 living arrangement at mom’s house. When COVID hit: Mom’s housekeeper was able to move in with her even though we were back towards the end of mom’s life. John, me, and mom all sleeping in the same bedroom, available for whatever.

Even being home was highly stressful, with daily visits to mom’s house, more doctor’s appointments than ever, and issues relating to mom’s declining health.

If you have not guessed by now, two thousand twenty has been the roughest ride of my life!

I am omitting many “specifics” so I do not get bogged down and miss the point I am trying to share with you.

The fact is, a good friend said, “God has positioned people who can take our hands and help us find our way through the fog and storms.” You are those people!!! Your prayers helped me to pray and not lose my heart. Your prayers helped me to pursue seeking the Highest God, your prayers helped me to stay strong in the Word of God, and your prayers reminded me that challenges are for our spiritual growth. This journey was not anything I had ever imagined, but God knew I had to go through it. This season was sent to accomplish things in me that could not have been accomplished any other way.

Some of you have been where I was. Some of you have not. However, I want you to know that when we experience tears and disappointment, it does not have to dimmish our relationship with the Lord. He allows each new experience to make us aware that we need to trust Him so solidly that we can tell Him the down and dirty of all we think and encounter. When I had questions, God was there. When I cried, He was there. When I could not handle it anymore, God was still there. Even though there were times I could not feel His presence, you kept me hanging on to Him. That was possible due to your prayers. Thank you!

Mom died on August 27, 2020. John and I received a call at 1:50 a.m. from my older brother to come home. I had my cuddle time with mom; then, at 3:50 p.m. that afternoon, she took her final breath.

It has only been a few months since we left that season of our lives. Still, thankfully God is showing me why the experiences I encountered were essential. I do not understand many things that came about during that season. But God always pointed me back to Him—calling me to trust Him when I couldn’t see the whys of the past or the wonders of the future. During my caregiving time, I encountered burnout, compassion fatigue, taxing emotions, and the perps of spending time with my dear mom. I knew the challenges were in His hands. Thanks for your prayers!

Life is an adventure. I wailed many times during this period, “Lord, I can’t handle it anymore!” But He knew and knows when it is time to step in for relief. God moved when I reached the pinnacle of my despair in August. These years are now part of my life story. I recognize that “being out of our comfort zone” is usually the only way we can grow, and I thank God for it. I experienced many sweet times with mom that would not have been possible any other way, but it was still strenuous and tough on me. So, thanks again for your prayers!

Each day, I feel a little more rested and restored. I know that the Lord will use this experience for His glory. There are so many Biblical principles that I had read in Scripture but not experienced before. I encountered so many aspects during these 4+ years: love, forgiveness, gratitude, and boundaries—to mention the positive ones. Sometimes it is hard to see circumstances clearly when living under stress or in a bleak period. Still, when the light is slowly restored, we can feel God’s peace and presence in extraordinary ways—even supernaturally. We start understanding the why, the why not, the how much longer questions of life. In these times, we must depend on the prayers of our friends like you. And for that, thanks again for your prayers!

My takeaway is to encourage you to look at your circumstances through the eyes of our heavenly Father. Commit to renewing your mind daily with prayer and Bible study. Remember that darkness does not stay forever in whatever situation you face. Even through hard times, He is close by—guiding us, building our faith, and waiting to meet our needs. He has a purpose for everything we experience in life, to prepare us for His assignments here on earth or for our heavenly home.

Today—Two Years Later

Yes, John and I have moved on; that is a long story. Still, one thing we both know is that God directed and allowed us to spend time with mom. However, I encountered difficult times caregiving at points along the way. If you are caregiving, hang on! Memories are being formed that will be cherished more with time. The emotional journey has a purpose that God will use in your life ministries.

While living with my mom, I wrote a book titled Christian Caregiving: Practical Advice for a Happy Ending. I wrote it during the first two years of living with mom. If I had waited until later, the book would probably never have been written. I left out the hard part, the biography of my experiences as time passed, because I hadn’t experienced that. However, it is a good book for those starting on the journey of caregiving with lots of Scripture references. I am not posting this as a sales pitch for my book, but I wanted you to know good things come from caregiving. Our strength in Him and knowing that He always has His best for us in mind keeps us going.

Mom, I love you, and I always will. Thanks for loving me. I still miss you two years later.

God Bless.

Verses from Christian Caregiving:  Practical Advice for a Happy Ending [9780692115381-Available on Amazon.com. Only $7.44 today.

Just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve and to give His life a ransom for many (Matthew 20:28).

Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you (Ephesians 4:32).

Commit your works to the LORD, and your plans will be established (Proverbs 16:3)

Books by Patti Greene

BIBLE WORD SEARCH PUZZLE SERIES

Barnabas: Leadership in Action

[Email followers: Click the title to see this article in its web version.]

 

Following Christ involves denying ourselves to follow Him. Jesus said, “If anyone wants to come after Me, he must deny himself, take up his cross daily, and follow Me (Luke 9:23 NASB1995).[1] This verse is crucial for Christian leaders to heed. Barnabas’ years in ministry possessed a heart intent on following Jesus. This goal was accomplished using Jesus’ style of leadership—servant leadership.

Barnabas

Barnabas was born and raised on the island of Cyprus. His training and upbringing stemmed from him being a Levite of Jewish descent. His name occurs twenty-three times in the Book of Acts and five times in the letters that the Apostle Paul wrote.[2] Before Jesus’ disciples called him Barnabas, Acts 4:36 says he was called Joseph (Joses) which means “Son of Encouragement.” Luke interprets Barnabas into the Greek words huios paraclete’s, which may well be translated as “son of encouragement,” “son of comfort,” or “Son of Exhortation.” Some say it could mean “son of a prophet,” but then doubts are cast why Luke calls him the “Son of Encouragement.” Some scholars question why Paul calls him the “son of encouragement in Acts.[3]

Barnabas’ central timeline includes selling property and giving the profits to the Jerusalem church, meeting and introducing Paul to the church in Jerusalem, being commissioned to travel to Syrian Antioch to evaluate what was happening with the preaching and Christianity there, leading the first missionary journey with Paul, set out on a missionary journey with his cousin John Mark, and an instrumental leader in Cyprus, Antioch, and Jerusalem.[4]

Barnabas’ Qualities, Strengths, and Weaknesses

Throughout the Book of Acts, one sees qualities of generosity, encouragement, leadership, loyalty, friendship, consistency in being a team player, and a love for God. His focus on the mission God had prepared for him is evident through his words and actions.

Godly character and behavior remained pivotal throughout Barnabas’ life. His strong personality was built by his love and dedication to his salvation and call upon his life. Due to this, Barnabas naturally had multiple strengths.

  1. Big-hearted: When Barnabas sold his land to give to the early Christian community, that behavior was rare then. Could it be that this was one of the first relief work missions that one sees from the New Testament?
  2. Persuasive: In Jerusalem, Barnabas received a cool reception because the disciples could not believe that Paul had changed from a persecutor to a follower of Jesus. Barnabas persuaded them, and they eventually thought he was a disciple of Christ.[5]
  3. Loyal: Barnabas was faithful to John Mark when he abandoned his work on the first missionary journey. He did not allow the disagreement when Paul refused to have John Mark participate in the second missionary journey to affect their relationship. Due to the encouragement of Barnabas, vital contributions from both Paul and Mark have been made to the Christian faith and the New Testament.
  4. Exceptional evangelist: Many souls were saved as he traveled from city to city, church to church
  5. Discerning: Barnabas discerned that Paul’s character had been transformed from a sinner to a believer in Jesus Christ.
  6. Humble: Barnabas followed wherever he was needed. He did not show one-upmanship or comparison to other people as he lived his life.
  7. Filled with the Holy Spirit: Barnabas would not have been able to minister as he did without the Holy Spirit leading and guiding him.
  8. Encourager: As an encourager, he could keep the peace with Paul through a lasting friendship and encourage those he met along his life journey.

Few weaknesses are evident in the Bible. However, one weakness found was hypocrisy. One can only assume that if one backslides and is not living for the Lord, the Holy Spirit’s evidence in their life would wane. It is unknown if Barnabas experienced a dip in his spiritual life, but there is no evidence in the Bible of any other faults. Regarding hypocrisy, Paul accused Peter and others (including Barnabas) of being hypocrites because they separated themselves and feared the circumcision party. Paul mentions that “even Barnabas was carried away by their hypocrisy” (Gal. 2:13). Not knowing the heart of Barnabas on this matter, this weakness may or may not be accurate since we should never judge others primarily based on the word of only one person and this one incident.

Principles and Issues on Leadership

Many secular scholars over the years have tried to conceptualize and define leadership. Peter G. Northouse defines leadership: “Leadership is a process whereby an individual influences a group of individuals to achieve a common goal.”[6] While that is a helpful definition, Jesus’ life and lifestyle would be more appropriate if one were to look for the Biblical description and qualities a leader should possess. C. Gene Wilkes discusses seven servant leadership principles. These principles are seen in one degree or another in Barnabas.

  1. Jesus humbled himself and allowed God to exalt him.
  2. Jesus followed his Father’s will rather than seek a position
  3. Jesus defined greatness as being a servant and being first as becoming a slave.
  4. Jesus risked serving others because he trusted that he was God’s Son
  5. Jesus left his place at the head table to serve the needs of others
  6. Jesus shared responsibility and authority with those he called to lead
  7. Jesus built a team to carry out a worldwide vision.[7]

Critical Analysis: Barnabas’ Servant Leadership Qualities

Barnabas’ leadership qualities are detected in various locations in the Bible that closely mimic the same leadership model Jesus portrayed.

  1. Barnabas’ humility and generosity are recognized in Acts 4:37 where he sold a tract of his land, brought the money, and laid it at the apostle’s feet to be appropriated as needed in the Jerusalem church.
  2. Barnabas’ belief that people can change for the good is noted in Acts 9:26-27 when the disciples were afraid of Paul. Barnabas described to the apostles that he had talked to Paul and that he had spoken out boldly for Jesus.
  3. In Acts 15:35, Barnabas is regarded as a leader proclaiming the word of the Lord. His leadership is also seen in his involvement with the Council of Jerusalem. It was there that Paul and Barnabas were given “the right hand of fellowship, that we might go to the Gentiles” to proclaim God’s message of salvation (Gal. 2:9).
  4. Barnabas continued in Jesus’ footsteps by being a risk taker. When Paul would not allow John Mark to accompany him on his second missionary journey, he took John Mark under his wing, and they proceeded to proclaim the Lord to the world, even though John Mark deserted them on the first missionary journey.
  5. Serving others through his preaching, teaching, and mentoring was everyday behavior for Barnabas. In Acts 13:42-43, the people in the synagogue begged Paul and Barnabas to continue to speak to them. Both these men served the Lord by encouraging them to continue in the grace of God.
  6. Barnabas loved God and recognized God’s authority over his life. In Jesus on Leadership, Wilkes says, “Barnabas’s relationship to God helped him see past the fear of others and come alongside Paul who would ultimately take the message of Jesus to all people groups.”[8] Last, Barnabas did build a close-knit team by mentoring Paul and John Mark. However, he also left the mark of Jesus upon all the churches and cities he traveled sharing the Good News of Jesus Christ.

Synthesis: How Barnabas’ Leadership is Applied to Ministry Settings

Studying the life of Barnabas brings many principles that one can bring to a servant leadership style. Values arising from these principles may be valuable to any believer—those working in a secular or Christian environment.

Like Barnabas did, striving, desiring, and working toward a life of holiness is essential to one’s spiritual growth and ability to lead. His lifestyle was built on character, integrity, and submission to the Lord. His determination steered him to possess and retain God’s heart. He lived and served as Jesus did, and Jesus’ influence led him to behave and interact lovingly with others. Standing up for what is right and acknowledging God as our strength in our ministries creates a life that others will want to emulate. Honesty and honest work are vital, as well. Leading like Christ and behaving like Christ is how ministry workers should behave and lead. Just as Barnabas served people, so must those in ministry. However, how is that done? Author and Pastor C. G. Wilkes says, “Servant and leader stand together as a model for those entrusted with the well-being of a group. Leaders who follow the example and teachings of Jesus will lead first as servants.”[9] My personal goal for ministry leadership lines up with Wilkes’s beliefs, and that is to pray for humility, patience, a desire to put others before me, take risks, and equip others well.

Conclusion

Believers are all sinners—even Barnabas. The Apostle Paul writes a summation verse that encompasses how we can live in our fallen nature.

Brothers and sisters, I do not regard myself as having taken hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus (Phil. 3:13-14).

Pressing on toward the upward call of God in Christ Jesus is a worthy goal. When that goal is in the forefront of a believer’s mind, as it was with Barnabas, servant leadership will follow.

Legend says this Barnabas died a martyr’s death at Salamis in AD 61. He is remembered as being possibly one of the seventy mentioned in Luke 10:1 and the traditional founder of the Cypriot Church.[10] Most would agree with Norman Blackaby and Wilkes that, Barnabas’ leadership, and character “made a lasting difference in the lives of millions because he demonstrated the heart of God.”[11]

God bless,

Prayer: Heavenly Father, as we see Barnabas relating to others, let me have the same qualities as he had. I want to be more generous. I want to encourage others and be loyal to my friends and family. Help me, Jesus to continue to have a love for all things of God and to put others before myself. You are a good God and I love You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Books by Patti Greene

BIBLE WORD SEARCH PUZZLE SERIES

******************************

This article may not be reproduced except for written permission from the author. For the full annotated paper and bibliography, please contact me through the comment section of this article. [This paper was written for a college, academic, research class by Patti Greene.]

 

 

Available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble online!

******************************

Bibliography

Note: All linked Bible verses come from the NASB1995 version.

“Barnabas.” in Lexham Bible Dictionary. Logos Bible Software, accessed June 2, 2022. www.logos.com.

Brooks, James. “Barnabas.” Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary. revised ed. edited by Chad Brand, Eric Mitchell, and Holman Reference Editorial Staff.

Nashville: B&H Publishing, 2015.

Barnabas. (2002). In R. Brownrigg, Who’s who in the New Testament, Routledge (2nd ed.). Routledge. Credo Reference:

http://library.dbu.edu:2048/login?url=https://search.credoreference.com/content/entry/routwwnt/barnabas/0?institutionId=2659.

Blackaby Norman and Gene Wilkes. Character: The Pulse of a Disciple’s Heart. Birmingham: New Hope, 2012.

Cross, Frank and Elizabeth Livingstone, ed. “Barnabas.” Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church. 3rd ed. accessed June 2, 2022.

https://www-oxfordreference-com.library.dbu.edu/view/10.1093/acref/9780192802903.001.0001/acref-9780192802903.

Northouse, Peter G. Leadership: Theory & Practice. 9th ed. Thousand Oaks: Sage, 2022.

Wilkes, C. Gene. Jesus on Leadership: Timeless Wisdom on Servant Leadership. Carol Stream: Tyndale, 1998.

Zodhiates, Spiros. ed. Hebrew-Greek Key Word Study Bible: Key Insights into God’s Word, New

            American Standard Bible, rev. ed. Chattanooga, TN: AMG.

Love Your Enemies

[Email followers: Click the title to see this article in its web version.]

 

In 2018, a horrible accident occurred in Dallas, Texas. Amber Guyger, a Dallas police officer, was given ten years in prison. Amber fatally killed Botham Jean, an innocent man, as he sat in his apartment eating ice cream when she entered an apartment mistakenly thinking it was her apartment. Instead, she entered the man’s apartment, who lived one floor down from her. If Botham’s family had a right to hate this woman, it would be understandable.

Luke 6:27-38 (New American Standard Bible) tells how people are to love their enemies and do good to those who curse and mistreat others. These verses mirror Matthew 5:43-48, where Jesus says, “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.”Along with being told whom one is supposed to love, the Bible states how to love these purported enemies. In outlining Luke 6:27-38, a person can see how Jesus wants His children to act toward their enemies. This passage unfolds from start to finish by giving instructions on loving enemies, how to act toward them, and the results of acting in a godly fashion toward foes.

  • Loving one’s enemies (Luke 6:27-28)
  • Handling physical abuse and giving to those who ask (Luke 6:29-30)
  • Treating people equally (Luke 6:31)
  • Crediting, loving, and lending (Luke 32-34)
  • Loving one’s enemies and being merciful (Luke 6:35-36)
  • Giving, condemning, and pardoning others (Luke 6:37)
  • Measuring others (Luke 6:38)

However, one must ask, “Who is the enemy mankind is supposed to love?” In the Bible, three enemies, also called foes or adversaries, can be seen—the world, the flesh, and Satan. This paper will discuss each verse in Luke 6:27-38, emphasizing loving one’s enemy and what responsibilities believers have in dealing with enemies Biblically.

Context

One must look at the historical-cultural context of Luke to gain a complete understanding of the Book of Luke, Luke as a man, and the audience he addressed. Through the eyes of Luke, one gains a better understanding and perspective of his writings.

In The New Testament in Antiquities by Gary M. Burge and Gene L. Green, the authors discuss the relationship between The Gospel of Luke and The Book of Acts as a “two-volume” set with many overlapping themes. Luke’s main emphasis revolves around salvation, which he deems is for both Jews and Gentiles. Most scholars believe that Luke was penned in Rome between 60-61 A.D., and most also agree that he was the author of this book. Luke is a cultured, organized writer, also known as the beloved physician, whose sources come from eyewitnesses and multiple servants.

Luke wrote much of this Gospel about how individuals are either in need or how they conduct themselves through God’s Spirit. This Gospel can be seen in some of Luke’s most famous stories, i.e., the great catch of fish on the Lake of Gennesaret, the parable of the good Samaritan, Jesus, and the robbers as they were dying on their crosses.

Luke wrote his Gospel from Rome. Readers of Luke should know that many believe Luke was an early gentile convert to Christianity. Who’s Who in the New Testament states, “He became the loyal and indefatigable secretary, doctor, and companion of the Apostle Paul.” Luke accompanied Paul on his second and third missionary journeys and his fourth and final missionary journeys, which are not mentioned in Acts. Luke traveled the Aegean from Troas in Asia Minor to Philippi in Greece . . .then he accompanied Paul on his final journey from Caesarea, the seat of the procurator of Judea, all the way to Rome. There he loyally remained with Paul throughout his captivity. From Luke’s writing style, one can observe that Luke was a sophisticated and knowledgeable man whose writings in Luke became one of the three synoptic gospels, along with Matthew and Mark. Luke’s writing shows a more generous spirit to the Roman authorities than the Gospel of Matthew and John did.

Luke’s gospel was written to Theophilus, a man of high status who shared it with people everywhere. John Martin notes that Theophilus (lit., lover of God) was a common name during the first century. Luke wrote this gospel to Theophilus to show him the reality of Jesus Christ. From the 1st century to this present age anyone can receive Jesus. Many of the intended audience in early Christianity (Jews and Gentiles) were ready to learn truths about relating to people—including how to love their enemies.

Although there is debate on the literary genre of Luke, it appears that it is a combination of both history and biography The author of this paper believes it was written more from a historical perspective. Luke’s objective in writing this book comes first when he unveils his purpose—emphasizing the “fulfillment of God’s plan.” The writing style is simple to understand and his logical organization becomes evident as one reads from Jesus’ birth to ending with Jesus’ crucifixion, resurrection, and ascension, always emphasizing salvation in every personal situation he finds himself in such as in Luke 17:19 and Luke 7:49-50. The casual reader may not notice that in the latter part of the book, Luke shifts from third person to first person in the latter part of the book. This shift is known as the “we” section of the book. Many scholars believe this could have been written when Luke accompanied Paul face to face.

Luke, an investigative and orderly writer, created an easy-to-follow line of thinking. This continuity is seen in Luke 6:27-38 when he goes from loving one’s enemies to doing good to those who hate you. Luke informs people how Jesus wants them to act from loving enemies to not judging others. These verses involve how to treat people, including those who are an enemy. The Beatitudes, which are a basis for the blessings and woes of living precede this section and create a natural flow into how to act toward others. The verses following Luke 6:27-28 are a beautiful display of Jesus’ illustrating how one should live through a parable along with statements and questions teaching believers how to live, i.e., understanding that a pupil is not above their teachers, a good man out of good treasure brings what is good. As one ponders how to treat their enemies, one should consider their heart and desire to follow the principles outlined in the Bible.

Content

Luke’s Sermon on the Plain and Matthew’s Sermon on the Mount are similar.  In each sermon, Luke 6:27-38 and Matthew 5:43-48, one verse has been debated and examined over the years. This debate revolves around the command to love one another and how loving neighbors and enemies should be conducted. William Barclay says, while both pericopes start with “a series of beatitudes, there are differences between the versions of Matthew and Luke, but this one thing is clear—they are a series of bombshells” on how Jesus wants believers in Him to act. Barclay notes these debated sermons use different verbiage than a typical person of those days would talk.

Some scholars do not include verses 37 and 38 in their content analysis. This paper includes these verses to complete the flow and thought of this section. While many verses in the Bible discuss principles of love and loving one’s enemies, this paper points men and women to Jesus’ way to love both neighbors and enemies.

The general population shows an interest in the topics of love, hate, and enemies. It is evident because of what appears in grocery stores. Most checkout lines are filled with publications enticing readers to understand why they hate each other, such as

  • “My Neighbor, My Enemy” (New York Time­s)
  • “Hate in America” (Time Magazine)
  • “It’s a Thin Line between Love and Hate” (Psychology Today)
  • “And They Will Know We are Christians by our Hate” (The Christian Post)
  • “The Secret to Loving Your Enemies” (Today’s Christian Women)

When people read the Bible addressing love, hate, and enemies, understanding the Christian definition of certain words will help.

Table 1: Definitions—Luke 26:27-38

Word Definition Bible Verse Reference (NASB) Strong’s Concordance Reference Number
love To care for Luke 6:27,32, 35 25
enemies Adversary, foe, one who dislikes or hates another and seeks to harm another Luke 6: 1, 35 2190
hate Detest Luke 6:1 3404
“do good” [to exhibit] a fine moral character Luke 6:1, 33 2573
reward Recompense for good or evil, most often it suggests a benefit or favorable compensation 35 3635

As one delves into the so-called Golden Rule verses, it is helpful to fully understand what Luke 6:27-28 is saying as they are imperative in grasping verses 29-38, which follow. In Luke 6:27-28, there are four instructions for believers to follow:

  • Love your enemies,
  • Be good to those who hate you,
  • Bless those who curse you, and
  • Pray for those who mistreat you.

There has been debate on the actual meaning of what “love one’s enemy” means. The word here means the agape kind of love, distinguishing it from passionate love and love for only those who love them back! William Barclay describes this kind of love as “an active feeling of benevolence toward the other person; it means that no matter what that person does to us we will never allow ourselves to desire anything but his highest good, and we will deliberately and of set purpose go out of our way to be good and kind to him.” Enemies today are viewed as people who want to hurt or betray—they may even gossip or tell lies about us, still as believers, and with the power of the Holy Spirit, one can trust in God’s ability for mankind to love with this agape kind of love. Moving beyond these two verses, there are two more Biblical verses that continue to train Christians on how to act.

People are innately inclined to hate their enemies because of their sinful nature, which originated in the story of Adam and Eve. Despite this, Jesus continues to give more instructions on how to treat enemies in Luke 6:29-30. Jesus tells us that “whoever hits you on the cheek, offer him the other cheek, and whoever takes away your coat, do not withhold your shirt from him either.” Jesus does not want us to pick and choose who we are to love even if there is physical violence—in this case, the turning the other cheek reference. Leon Morris says that cheek is siagon, which means, “a punch to the side of the jaw rather than a light slap on the face.”As one would expect, most people would want to fight back, but Jesus tells believers to turn the other cheek and accept the same treatment again. Warren Wiersbe says it is our inner disposition that the glory of God is seeking.

Regarding accepting a strike from an enemy, Wiersbe says, “we must have the wisdom to know when to turn the other cheek and when to claim our right. Christian love must exercise discernment.” In this illustration and in the example where Jesus tells of not withholding one’s shirt if it is taken away, verse 30 says to give to everyone who asks and not demand it back. The ethics behind these two verses revolve around the ability to do good—TO EVERYONE!

It is a complex concept to understand that we are to love everyone and give to everyone regardless of how one feels. But, in Luke 31, Jesus tells us that people are to treat others the way they want to be treated. But, how can hurt brothers and sisters treat others with love and kindness? It is impossible without the Holy Spirit helping Christians to show Christ’s humility.

Robert H. Gundry shares how Jesus mingled and socialized with all sorts of people. As in ancient times, people today mingle and socialize with all types of people. Wherever Christians are, and whatever sort of people they encounter, Jesus tells us to treat each other with the same kind of treatment one wishes to receive themselves. Romans 12:10 says, “Be devoted to one another in brotherly love; give preference to one another in honor.” Regarding a more inwardly way to act, Philippians 2:3 says, “Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind, let each of you regard one another as more important than himself.” It takes God’s Holy Spirit to love the way Jesus did.

Jesus did not want or demand credit for his works; He followed the Lord’s path established for him in humility and with integrity. In Luke 6:32-4, one question is asked in all three verses. Jesus asks, “What credit is that to you?”

Many serve to obtain accolades for their service to the Lord. Christ is more concerned with the character of our heart than He is that people receive congratulations, fist bumps, or flattery for service. These accolades are in the following verses.

And if you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. And if you lend [with interest] to those from whom you expect to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, in order to receive back the same amount (Luke 6:32-4).

First, it does not take much to love a mother, father, son, or daughter. Second, it does not take much to love those who love us. And last, it does not take much to lend to those who will pay us back. But, from Jesus’ perspective, it is better to love one’s neighbor, love those who hate, and help others without knowing if they will pay back a loan or not. If one only does their works and service to be seen, they are doing nothing more than a sinner would do. David Guzik says, “Though we will have enemies, yet we are to respond to them in love, trusting that God will protect our cause and destroy are enemies in the best way possible, by transforming them into our friends.”

As Luke 6 progresses, Luke tells us in verses 35 and 36 that believers are to love enemies and be merciful toward them. Regarding loving neighbors, much is written about the ways to resolve hate. They are:

  • Use conflict resolution techniques
  • Kill someone with kindness
  • Come to a healthy comprise, and
  • Create boundaries between each other.

The Bible wants people to initiate love towards enemies, first with a clean heart, before the four actions afore-mentioned above. In Psalm 51:10, King David addresses God desiring a clean heart. Believers in Christ should start by cleansing themselves as David did in the referenced psalm. “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.” After loving someone with a clean heart, believers are better equipped to show mercy to others. Author Andrew Herbert mentions one can extend mercy to others only when they have received sympathy, compassion, and forgiveness themselves, but “we do not have what it takes, but Jesus does, so we come to Him in brokenness and humility, hungering to be filled with what only He can give.”

Not judging and giving to others conclude this pericope in Luke 6:37-38. The Bible is ready to address judging others. Jesus clarifies in verse 37 what believers will gain. Christians should not judge or condemn others, believing that when they follow His instructions, they will gain. Leon Morris says the verse is not clear on whether it means gain in this present judgment or the future judgment of God or both. He states, “If we are harsh with our judgments on other people we generally find that they return the compliment and we ourselves are widely rewarded.”

Application

When Christ and His Holy Spirit work significantly to where individuals understand the need to forgive and love our enemies, the fruit of the spirit of love becomes evident by giving of oneself. Because the Lord has given of Himself, those who have turned their life over to Christ through the forgiveness of sin and repentance can love their enemies; thus, being a reflection of Jesus Christ.

Luke 6:27 tells believers to love enemies. The Bible commands individuals to do that, but it is not easy. As ambassadors of the Lord, the desire to love like Jesus is there, but when one is offended, hurt, gossiped about, and betrayed, the human heart does not think of kindness as one’s first choice of action. Learning to love and not to hate is a process. Sometimes it is slow and lengthy, but the process to become more as Christ must commence in obedience to the Lord’s command. When facing hate, the following points will help people from all age groups to acknowledge their hate and move towards love.

  • Pray with passion.
  • Pray for the offender. Pray for yourself.
  • Pray to be a forgiving person.
  • Repent if needed.
  • Pray for an attitude change.
  • Trust deeply in God for a resolution.
  • Trust the Holy Spirit for an understanding of the incident or developing angst.
  • Put oneself in the offender’s shoes and seek perspective.
  • Ask God to address any issues springing from both parties.
  • Plead for forgiveness. Sometimes this means addressing the person or organization involved. Sometimes not.
  • Read Bible verses on love, hate, bitterness, cruelty, offenses, and behavior of believers.
  • Recognize that God may be using this incident for good.
  • Understanding making boundaries or moving on might be His solution.
  • Keep praying with passion.

Conclusion

Returning to the 2018 accident in Dallas, Texas, where Amber Guyger fatally killed Botham Jean, an innocent man, as he sat in his apartment eating ice cream. Guyger was sentenced to a ten-year sentence. On the witness stand during sentencing, Brandt Jean, the victim’s eighteen-year-old brother, turned to Guyger, and said, “I know if you go to God and ask him, he will forgive you.” Botham’s family had every right to hate Guyger. However, in an act of kindness, the victim’s brother Brandt continued to speak directly to Guyger. He said, ‘I love you like anyone else,’ and later hugged her in the courtroom before being led to her ten-year prison sentence by the bailiff. That is loving one’s enemy in action! The conclusion reached in Luke 6:27-38 is that God commands believers to love one’s enemies, and by following and obeying God’s Biblical instructions, it is possible to live in a godly fashion toward foes.

God Bless,

 

Dear Lord, Please let us rest in Your peace indwelt by the Holy Spirit. Let us look at all people with love and acceptance, even those who have hurt us terribly. Pour Your holy power upon us to live a life of forgiveness, acceptance, and reconciliation–no matter what it might be. You love us. You hear our prayers and cries. You want to help us through all the attitudes and difficulties we face. I call upon You to touch my heart. Give me a heart of love. Let my soul be like Your soul. Transform me into Your image. In Christ, I pray.

This article may not be reproduced except for written permission from the author. For the full annotated paper and bibliography, please contact me through the comment section of this article. [This paper was written for a college, academic, research class by Patti Greene.]

Books by Patti Greene

BIBLE WORD SEARCH PUZZLE SERIES

 

 

“Your Mission, Should You Decide to Accept It . . .”

 

MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE

Any child of the 1960s will recognize those words, intoned from a clandestinely placed tape recorder each week as Jim Phelps calmly accepted one dangerous and logistically challenging assignment after another on the ironically titled TV spy series “Mission: Impossible”.

Phelps always accepted the mission, and never failed in his efforts!

We as Christians are given the Great Commission by Jesus Christ, a “mission” He urges us to accept. Like on the TV show we have great latitude in determining where, when and how we undertake this objective, as well as who will help with bringing it about.

Our success rate will probably be less than 100%, at least in our estimation, but the important thing is that we, at some point, in some way, “accept the mission”. – Ed.

Off to Belize City, Belize

In 1989, I boarded a plane with my husband and off we went from Houston, Texas on our first mission trip to Belize City, Belize, Central America. Our sleeping arrangements involved single bunk beds on a cement floor in the dank basement of a missionary couple’s home. Roaches flew by as I tried to fall asleep, and I recall the exact words I said to my husband: “How in the world could you take me to this God-forsaken place?” Of course, as I look back, it was mostly the cockroaches that invoked this question, which was more a declaration of my mental state at the time.

As I think about my comment, I realize that missions and evangelism are all about bringing the Gospel of Jesus Christ to “God-forsaken places” like this one but with my first experience, I could not get beyond the “cockroach mentality” and my disdain for the creatures. Fortunately, in time, I was blessed by many of the lovely people I met on my subsequent trips to Belize. Praise God!

Bible Verse

Matthew 28:18-20 (ESV) implores us to “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

While some are called to give up money and their livelihood to follow the Great Commission, others will be called to a different mission, purpose, or place. What is important is to seek out God’s individual plan for our lives, and to obey His direction at every stage.

From a United States Citizen’s Perspective

As a resident of the United States, it is sometimes difficult to even imagine the poverty some people live in daily in other parts of the world. It is hard to conceive of worshipping in a run-down shack without air conditioning or sanitation. A.W. Tozer, a self-taught theologian, and a fearless preacher said, “Evangelical Christianity is now tragically below the New Testament standard. Worldliness is an accepted fact of our way of life. Our religious mood is social instead of spiritual.” ¹ We are now seeing churches sporting cafés, movie theaters, gymnasiums, and even local fashion shows.

For those reading this who are from an “advanced” country, have you ever considered that the reason we have been blessed with such relative abundance may be so that we can give generously to the cause of evangelism, rather than to our pleasures and wants? While many are trusting God in total dependency in living out their calling, so many others (even believers) have little regard for the Gospel of Jesus Christ and have become so “ME-centered” that the Lord hardly even seems present in their lives other than an occasional church service or a cursory glance at the Bible.

Satan’s Perspective

It is important to remember that Satan does not want us to be involved in any missionary or evangelical endeavor. Period! His desire is for us to either stay neutral on the subject or to become more centered in our own lives so that they revolve around us, and what makes us happy, rather than around the lives of others.

Sometimes those in mission work get so discouraged seeing so few showing an interest in their Christian beliefs or evangelism. This is another way our enemy seeks to degrade work done for the Kingdom, by attacking not only the missionary (through discouragement) but the supporter as well (through apathy, sloth and other distracters).

God’s Purpose

Regardless, God’s purposes will always be fulfilled. Even today, we can see the Holy Spirit operating around the world in many different nations. Many are coming to accept Christ where the Gospel has never been preached before. Salvations are occurring despite witchcraft, demonic influences, and secular rites and rituals. People are accepting Jesus Christ despite the fear of imprisonment, the fear of beheading, and the fear of being ostracized.

It is happening because of the prayers of believers. Maybe you are praying for a missionary, a specific country, a mission trip, or donating to help others participate in the Great Commission. If so, you are part of a wonderful opportunity by allowing the Holy Spirit to use you in His work.

As we pray for souls to be saved, let us remember the profound words of South African writer, teacher, and Christian pastor Andrew Murray. In Pray for the World, Murray is quoted saying, “Beware in your prayers, above everything else, of limiting God, not only by unbelief but by fancying that you know what He can do. Expect unexpected things, above all that we ask or think.” ² God does work in mysterious ways!

Advancing the Cause of Jesus Christ

Below are some ideas on how we can advance the cause of Jesus Christ. They are listed in alphabetical order, but all are worthy of equal consideration to the same degree.

  1. Adopt and pray for a country. Ask the Lord for the Holy Spirit to seek out the lost and lead them to Him­­;
  2. Be obedient to whatever or wherever the Lord leads;
  3. Befriend a person(s) from a different culture or country;
  4. Have a “missions fair” at your church.
  5. Participate in a mission trip – local or foreign;
  6. Provide mission-centered training in your church or organization;
  7. Research your country. Learn as much as you can about the culture, land, religion, livelihood, population, ethnic groups, economy, literacy, languages, education, and more. [This is a nice family activity to do.]
  8. Seek out opportunities for involvement.

What Happened Because We “Accepted The Mission”

Because we accepted the Great Commission and journeyed to Belize, we were able to be witnesses for Jesus Christ to the Belizean people. My husband John, our three children (ages 8, 6 and 4 at the time) and I spent our time in the Central American nation becoming lifelong friends with our hosts, Pastor Tony of Punta Gorda Baptist Church and his family, as well as other members of the local community. Fortunately, we still communicate with Tony’s adult children to this day.

John preached his first sermon there. I helped design the layout for a bookstore. Most importantly, John worked with the Southern Baptist Mission Board and trained Tony in the process of him becoming a fully-ordained pastor.

We ministered to Tony and his family well beyond that trip to Belize. When Tony developed kidney disease due to his uncontrollable diabetes, we let him stay at our home in St. Louis. Later, John arranged for him to get into a program at a downtown Houston hospital. At the time, dialysis was unavailable in Punta Gorda, and as a result, he had to travel regularly the 167 miles to Belize City for treatment, so we brought Tony here to the United States for more focused medical care.

Remember what I said earlier about the reason for having abundance is to share it with others? Recall that Luke tells us, “everyone to whom much was given, of [Him] much will be required. (Luke 12:48 ESV). We gave Tony and his family cars. We paid for their youngest daughter’s high school education. Some people might call my telling you this “braggy”, but I simply say it’s the kind of thing our Lord expects of us.

In sustaining the pastor and his family, we, in fact, supported the spreading of the Word by removing obstacles and distractions which would otherwise have hindered its free flow. That, above all other blessings we have been able to provide, is the most enduring.

Sadly, diabetes ended up taking Tony’s life, but his desire and work to bring the Word of God to the people of Belize lives on.

What I Learned on Our Mission Trips to Belize

Going to Belize was my first mission trip. It was “eye-opening—except when I closed my eyes to avoid those huge cockroaches at night. I learned I could do without my eyeliner and my eyelet bedspread.

But what I couldn’t avoid was the eyesore of poverty that confronted me every day. After urinating in a dirt hole in the ground, I was thankful for an outside toilet. After watching seven-and eight-year-old boys steal in order to purchase food, I was thankful we had enough to feed our own children. After seeing the native Belizeans shop at different grocery stores based on their political parties, I was thankful for our relatively stable public life in this country.

Secure in Their Faith

However, what amazed me the most was that the native Christians I met were solid and secure in their faith. They possessed a faith that I had never seen before. Their walk with the Lord was so evident by the fruits in their life, i.e. love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, and self-control (Gal. 5:22-23). I saw that they HAD TO depend on their relationship with God to sustain them for food, water, shelter, and more.

The churches we visited had pastors that cared that people accepted the gift of salvation. They preached with a firm voice as if it might be their last time to preach—and knowing the violence that surrounded them (at least in Belize City), any preaching experience very well could have been their last!

In all, my husband John has made ten trips to Belize. I myself have been along on three of those journeys. We keep “accepting the mission”, because, as long as there are unsaved people walking the Earth, it never ends…

Conclusion

Evil is abounding right now in every corner of the world. Let’s increase our faith, shape our Christian ministries, and pray sincerely for the Holy Spirit to be a mighty force in reaching the world for Christ. And let’s remind ourselves that God desires salvation for ALL people – even those in “God-forsaken” countries!

Bible Verses:

For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him. (John 3:16-17)

But you, be sober in all things, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry. (2 Timothy 4:5)

For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men, instructing us to deny ungodliness and worldly desires and to live sensibly, righteously and godly in the present age, looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus, who gave Himself for us to redeem us from every lawless deed, and to purify for Himself a people for His own possession, zealous for good deeds. (Titus 2:11-14)

Prayer:

Lord Jesus. Thank you for my salvation through Jesus Christ. Lord, please soften my heart so I am more sensitive to the eternal and spiritual needs of others. Let me pray for the Holy Spirit to gently guide me to the purposes and callings You have already planned for me. Provide opportunities for me to see through Your eyes and give me the courage and willingness to respond. In Your name, I pray. Amen.

Central Houston Inspirational Writers Alive! Associate Member; BibleGateway Blogger, Member; SBC, Church Member

Edited by E. Johnson.

Works Cited

¹ Tozer, A.W. “The Swamps of Low-Grade Christianity.” Global Christian Center. Web. Accessed 7 Oct 2019. https://globalchristiancenter.com/devotions/morning-muse/33922-the-swamps-of-low-grade-christianity.

² Murray, Andrew. “Andrew Murray Quote about #Everything, #Beware, #Prayer, Unbelief.” All Christian Quotes. Web. Accessed 7 Oct 2019. https://www.allchristianquotes.org/quotes/Andrew_Murray/141/

New American Standard Bible. BibleGateway.com. Web. 16 Oct 2019.

All Bible verses are from the New American Standard Bible unless otherwise noted.

Bible Gateway Bloggers
Bible Gateway Bloggers

===============

Patti Greene is a fun-loving (but serious) coffee drinking wife, mom, and Grammi! She serves as a Bible teacher and Sunday School helper in her home church where her husband also teaches in Katy, Texas. She writes and speaks with the sole purpose of leading and maturing others in Jesus Christ and His everlasting love. To receive blogs from GreenePastures.org delivered straight to your email, please email her at Patti@GreenePastures.org with your email address, and you will be added to the email listing. You will need to confirm your decision to be added to the blog by email. You can also catch up with her on her Twitter feed at (@PattiGreene13) or her Facebook Patti Greene-Pastures page at (https://www.facebook.com/author.greene).

Books by Patti Greene [Order today for Christmas]

Christian Caregiving

Christian Caregiving: Practical Advice for a Happy Ending

Devotional Prayer Journals

Answer Me: Developing a Heart for Prayer

Anchor Me: Laying a Foundation in Bible Study and Prayer

Awaken Me: Growing Deeper in Bible Study and Prayer

@PattiGreene13 #PattiGreene13 #bgbg2

Good Without God?

Good Without God?

Can you be “good” without needing a God? Think again.

by Ellsworth Johnson, Guest Blogger

1) Acts

It’s Christmas Day morning. A young boy bursts into the living room of his spacious suburban home, where a beautifully-decorated tree dominates its surroundings by the window. Under the tree are numerous presents bearing, among others, the child’s name. The parents who put up the tree and supplied the gifts are still comfortably asleep in bed, after spending all night preparing this wondrous setting.

The child runs to the tree and immediately begins opening his presents, ripping off wrapping paper and casting it aside. A race car! The latest video game! And finally… his own CELL PHONE!

They are good gifts. And he was a good boy all year, so of course he deserves them! After all, he wasn’t like Johnny Booker, shooting his neighbor’s dog with a BB gun and blinding it in one eye, or those older kids who regularly stole stuff from stores down at the mall.

He plays with the race car and begins to set up his phone. Nowhere in his thoughts of the moment are the parents who gave him the gifts, or that they chose to give them to him despite his ongoing tendencies to “talk back” to them, and not do his chores…

==============================

In the last decade there has been a push in the humanist/atheist community to establish a belief system where the value of morality is recognized and affirmed without having to attribute it, or anything else, to a divine Creator.

A manifesto for this way of thinking is a 2009 book by Greg Epstein, Good Without God: What a Billion Nonreligious People Do Believe.  In the book, Epstein does not seek to destroy traditional religion, but instead supplant it, positing that what is “good” about humanity does not depend on faith in a divine being.

In fact, the author is a great proponent of secular humanism, the principle that humanity is capable of morality and self-fulfillment without belief in God. It specifically rejects religious dogma and supernaturalism as means of morality and decision making.

An entire ecosystem has been built to bolster this viewpoint. Like-minded authors have come alongside Epstein with supporting works of their own. A Web site, Kids Without God, seeks to steer the younger crowd away from the need to rely on anything outside of themselves.

There is even  the Council for Secular Humanism, “North America’s leading organization for non-religious people” to “advocate and defend a nonreligious lifestance rooted in science, naturalistic philosophy, and humanist ethics and to serve and support adherents of that lifestance.”

The race car, given a good strong push, zips along its merry way along a flat surface. Soon, however, it comes to an incline and slows… and in fact rolls back down the way it came, almost back to where it started.

==============================

The attempt to claim life is “good without God” is similar to the above illustration with the toy car. You WILL occasionally and randomly get good pushes and zoom along for a while, but soon you’ll run out of your own power and stop, or hit a hill and roll back down. Worse, with no one all-seeing at the steering wheel, the car could easily hit a wall or go over a cliff.

Things may seem “good” for a while, in fits and starts, but that’s a pretty low standard compared to what’s available. How much better are the gifts that God gives — wisdom, discernment, comfort and guidance in times of trouble, and a peace which passes all understanding — than the perishable things we receive from this world?

Maybe it should be called “life has been OK so far, and doesn’t hurt too badly for me to complain, without God.” And if that’s good enough for you, enjoy that life for all it’s worth, because what comes afterward is guaranteed to be decidedly less pleasant.

The difference is that, with God, you are not limited to your own power, or the fickle vagaries of those in your sphere, but instead can depend on the inexhaustible resources of the Creator of the universe. Through Him, you keep getting pushed along by that mighty hand when you run low on momentum:

“But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.”

Isaiah 40:31

Now, in your own travels through this world, you’ll have to trust Him to take the wheel of your car and drive where you need (but not always want) to go, often not an easy thing for many of us to do. You will encounter some rough roads, sometimes travel by night and occasionally take some long detours, but the ultimate end of the journey is guaranteed to make that leap of faith worthwhile.

How much better than the “OK without God” life, then, would it be, instead of rolling back downhill, or getting out and pushing the car yourself, to instead glide over the summit and down the other side with someone driving who knows where He is going, and move along as needed just fine without energy or effort from you?

2) Judges

Unbeknownst to the young boy, the parents in fact are awake in their bedroom, aroused by the playful noises emanating from the front of the house. Dad is angry because the boy did not wait until the entire family was up before opening the gifts, as has traditionally been done in their household.

“Not even a ‘thank you’ from that ungrateful little snot!” he mutters. He wants to get out his belt and “teach that boy some manners”, but the mother’s patience permits cooler heads to prevail.

“Let’s go talk to him,” she advises. “Give him the chance to realize the error of his ways. We’ll think of a suitable penalty later, like no playing with the new stuff for a week.”

Dad huffs, his momentary wrath subsided. He really wants to confront his son about the boy’s impatience and lack of appreciation for the gifts provided, but realizes that the message will be lost unless delivered when the time is right…

==============================

Justice and mercy are two sides of the same coin in God’s economy. The father would be justified in giving the boy a good tanning with the belt, but relents when the mother suggests a different approach, which could have more-desirable long-term effects.

In the first chapter of the book of Romans, Paul lays out God’s unimpeachable indictment against humanity in the starkest terms: man failed to acknowledge God for who He is and the good things He provided, earning us His divine wrath. He gave man over to a Godless existence, mired in his own lusts and devices, the first steps on the road to an eternity in Hell.

The only “off-ramp” from that road is found in Jesus Christ, whose death on the cross opened man’s only way back to God, by appropriating Christ’s righteousness for ourselves and, in the process, turning aside God’s well-deserved anger directed at us “while we were yet sinners”.

Just like the boy enjoying his presents, we are many times blissfully oblivious to the justifiable fury kindling elsewhere against us.

3) Lamentations

Finally, the last member of the family was awake.

“Dude!” the boy’s older sister exclaimed as she entered the living room. “You’re making enough noise to wake the dead!” Her protest landed on deaf ears as playtime continued unabated.

“I see that you couldn’t wait to open your presents,” she said sharply, rolling her eyes. She plopped down in a plush armchair near the Christmas tree and sat back, folding her legs underneath her body.

“Aren’t they incredible? I really hit the jackpot with Mom and Dad this year!”

“I’m sure they are nice, but I’m just as sure they would have loved to see your excitement as you opened your gifts.”

The comment registered for an instant, evidenced by a pause in pushing the race car around the floor, and a brief cessation of engine noises from the boy’s mouth.

“They’ll get over it,” shrugged the boy. He resumed pushing the car and making engine noises. The moment had passed.

Time to shift gears.

“You sure seem to take a lot for granted, especially on this day that we are to appreciate the things we have.”

“Oh yeah? Like what?” He did not look up when asking the question.

“Well, what about the fact that we have a nice big house? We could have a smaller one, like the Carluccis next door…”

“… or have that mansion on the hill, like Scott Hendel’s family has,” countered her brother.

“Or be living in a cardboard box on the street.” The reversal itself had been reversed, and her brother’s naked covetousness irritated her, yet something in her heart spurred her on.

“My friend Jenny, she and her family decided to forego giving each other gifts this year, and instead use the money to get stuff for other people in their lives. She decided to buy presents for her teachers at school. Her parents got stuff for their co-workers, and I think her brother surprised his basketball team with … whatever it is that basketball players like.”

The boy pondered that thought for a moment. “That was pretty nice of them. I’ll bet all those people were pretty happy to get all that stuff.”

“They were. And it made Jenny and her family feel even better to give it.”

The girl sighed. Another attempt to take flight had been allowed to fall back to earth. She had been awoken that morning not by the noise in the living room, but the need to bring her brother’s ongoing selfish behavior under repentance. So far, all her efforts had failed.

Then, finally, enduring inspiration struck.

“Remember when you tried to steal that candy down at Walmart?”

The boy hesitated for a moment. He had stopped playing with the race car and had started to configure the phone. “Yeah. That was probably wrong…”

“‘Probably’? The store clerk who caught you was pretty sure when she told Mom.”

“I could not go outside and play after school for a week,” he recalled. Then he smiled. “But that was OK: I stayed inside and played Halo on my Xbox. Even got a high score!” The boy was proud of himself.

His triumph, however, was short-lived.

“What about the second time, with Dad?”

The boy was stunned, enough so that he put down the cell phone.

“Aha!” the sister declared triumphantly. “You didn’t know I KNEW about that one, did you??? Mom told me what happened, as well as what Dad did about it.”

This was a less-sanguine memory. The boy had been with his father at a hardware store when he decided on a whim to steal a box of Junior Mints at the checkout stand. The store manager happened to be on the floor at the time and confronted the boy, who, at the manager’s behest, led him to the father. Dad was clearly embarrassed, and, the boy could tell, more than a little angry. Dad apologized to the manager, and made the boy say that he, too, was sorry.

Memories of the ride home, and the later beating, gave the boy chills. Dad didn’t say much beyond muttered threats, letting the dread of anticipation build. When they got home, Mom wasn’t there to shield him from the punishment; out came the belt and the boy got a thorough whipping.

“I had to write a letter to the manager, and deliver it in person,” recalled the boy, decidedly downcast. “I had to say that stealing is wrong, and I was sorry. It was quite embarrassing.”

“Sorry that you did it? Or sorry you got caught?”

“That I did it.” And then, in a flash, the boy became quite defensive.

“Just because you are thirteen doesn’t make you somehow better than me!”

“True, ” the girl replied pensively. “It does not. But it DOES make me ask questions, and think about things nine-year-old boys don’t.”

Embarrassed, the boy went back to playing with his car, but now in silence and with a lot less joy.

==============================

It’s true: the deep dark sins we commit in secret will all eventually come out. In fact, Jesus Himself declared this much in Luke’s gospel:

But there is nothing covered up that will not be revealed, and hidden that will not be known. Accordingly, whatever you have said in the dark will be heard in the light, and what you have whispered in the inner rooms will be proclaimed upon the housetops.

Luke 12:2-3

God, of course, already knows all about our transgressions: He knew about them before they took place, and had a front-row seat when they actually occurred. It is also possible that others, unbeknownst to you, already know about them as well, tainting those relationships and coloring the judgments they make toward you, all without your knowledge.

4) Revelation

The boy’s remorse over opening his presents early had become oppressive. What should have been a morning of delight and celebration had instead for him become burdensome and guilt-ridden. He continued tinkering with the cell phone, but his heart and mind were elsewhere.

There was no “un-ringing the bell” here: what’s done was done, and the only question worth addressing was what to do next.

“If it were me,” the sister offered, “I’d go in and throw myself on Dad’s mercy.” By now she had settled into the armchair and slung her legs over one arm, sitting sideways. “That always worked for me: admit you made a mistake, promise that you won’t do it again and that you’ll do better in the future.”

“That’s it?”

“Well, yeah, but there’s one catch.”

“I KNEW it!” he declared triumphantly. “I knew there’d be one. That sounds WAY too easy! So, what is it?” A smirk had appeared on his face, as if he had uncovered a secret hidden truth.

“You have to mean it.”

The boy snorted his disbelief.

“It’s true,” his sister continued. “He knows when you’re just saying the words. Believe me, I tried just going through the motions a couple times. I still got lashed with the belt.”

“YOU? Miss Goody-Goody got a beating?” He found this even more incredible, that his apparently angelic sister had ever done anything meriting punishment.

“Yep. That was a long time ago, before I learned that is was good to be honest when you mess up, but even better to not do bad things in the first place. Believe me, I am not perfect, by any stretch, but I do try to be better every day.”

Now the boy contemplated his own situation: if he waited for Dad to come out of the bedroom into the living room, chances were he’d be carrying a strap of leather, and not for decoration, either. On the other hand, a heartfelt pre-emptive apology just might turn aside his father’s wrath.

“Maybe I should try that. It sounds a lot less painful that Dad’s belt.”

“Yes, it does work out better most of the time. But remember, you can’t just mouth the words. When I did that, it didn’t just make him a little angrier, but also very sad. The belt hurt, to be sure, but what I remember most is the look of disappointment on his face. That stung more than the belt did.”

Tears started to well up in the boy’s eyes. “I don’t want Daddy and Mommy to be disappointed in me!”

“I’m sure they don’t want that, either. But you need to tell them the truth about what happened, that you got too excited and forgot to wait for everyone else to get up before opening your presents. They deserve a sincere apology — remember, you gotta mean it. Think you can do that?”

The boy nodded in silence.

“Come on. Let’s go wish Mom and Dad a Merry Christmas.”

With that, they set out for the master bedroom. With a knock on the closed door met by a shouted “Come in!” the children burst into the room and leaped on the bed, squeezing and snuggling in the space between their parents, just as they used to do long ago. Their bodies may now be bigger, but, inside, a part of each was still the small child who felt safe, loved and secure when curling up with Mommy and Daddy.

The business of opening the gifts without the family present was handled gracefully. Heartfelt phrases were exchanged: “Thank you.” “I’m sorry.” “We forgive you.” The parents decided upon a fair nonphysical punishment.

With that out of the way, there was nothing left to do but to enjoy the moment on the bed, together, as a family.

==============================

What It All Means

The story is an allegory developed around the situation we as Christians face when confronted with an adherent of the “Good Without God” philosophy.

The brother is the obvious (and oblivious!) sinner who thinks he’s already pretty good, at least compared to other people, and does not need additional boundaries on his behavior. The parents represent the dual nature of God, with the father holding honest indignation over his wayward child’s “me first” rush to playtime, along with the desire to inflict punishment, and the mother tempering that judgment with patience.

Stuck in the middle of all this is the sister, who is clearly somehow enlightened to there being more to life than the self-centered focus her brother has, and is trying to get him to put their situation into a larger context. Twice she fails, but does not give up, finally finding an “in” when confronting him about how his actions probably made his parents feel. In the end, she leads him into the parents’ bedroom, where he honestly confess his “sin” and asks for forgiveness, which is immediately and lovingly granted.

In short… she evangelizes him!

In the ideal, our earthly parents mirror and model God’s love for us, but also His judgment and righteous anger when warranted. In the end, it is far more preferable to “come clean” and admit our transgressions to a God who made us, already knows our weaknesses and mistakes, and stands ready to forgive us in His Son’s name.

Have you given your life over to Jesus Christ? If you have, were you genuinely sorry for the sins you committed, or did you simply make a vain confession devoid of feeling? If you have not, there is still an opportunity to turn aside the eminently justifiable anger a holy God has against you, and exchange it for forgiveness and a place in His kingdom forever.

The Rest of the Story

At that moment, in a realm far away, the Creator was, in fact, looking in on this family.  He smiled, as things were progressing exactly how He had intended.

“This is how I roll!” He smiled to Himself, in ways far beyond our understanding.

Two more miracles were needed to tear the lid off this family’s godless paradigm once and for all, in a way which none of them could deny. The groundwork for each had already been laid, here and elsewhere, and in the fullness of time those happenings will point to the Source of All Things.

The Creator already knew whether and how each member of the family would eventually respond, for it had been ordained since the beginning of time.

The only thing left to do… was wait.

==============================

What is God waiting for each of us to do? Reach out to someone? Respond to Him in some way? Are there people around us who believe they are “good without God?”

Whatever it may be, we should be honored that we have been appointed to be part of His eternal plan to bring rightful glory to Himself, and share His love for His beloved children the world over.

Prayer:

Father, let those who believe life is “good” without You be awakened from their slumber to all which is possible with You. Open their eyes, Lord, and their hearts to You and Your endless grace, and show them unmistakably that life is indeed “better WITH God”. You have a storehouse for each of us, filled with Your gifts and mercies, only a small fraction of which is ever claimed during our lifetimes. Help us receive what You have already set aside for us. I ask in the holy and precious name of your Son Jesus. Amen.

Bible Verses:

Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.”

Genesis 1:26

” The fool says in his heart, ‘There is no God.’ They are corrupt, their deeds are vile; there is no one who does good.”

Psalm 14:1

“The LORD saw how great the wickedness of the human race had become on the earth, and that every inclination of the thoughts of the human heart was only evil all the time.”

Genesis 6:5

“Without Me, you can do nothing.”

John 15:5

“Whatever is good and perfect comes down to us from God our Father, who created all the lights in the heavens. He never changes or casts a shifting shadow.”

James 1:17 (NLT)

“I say to the LORD, ‘You are my Lord; apart from you I have no good thing.’”

Psalm 16:2

Bible verses are from the New International Version (NIV) unless stated otherwise.

Credit:©Lightstock/KevinCarden116894

My Seven Most Favorite Thanksgiving Bible Verses

Happy Thanksgiving!

Over the years, I have only missed one Thanksgiving with my mom and/or my dad. That was the year we moved from Kingwood/Houston, Texas to St. Peters/St. Louis, Missouri in November 1992. If you knew my age, that is a lot of Thanksgivings spent with my parents. My mom’s house has been the “go-to house” for all our family holidays.

Being the photo enthusiast that I am, I have multiple pictures of Thanksgiving food from various occasions held at my parent’s home. Today, I am thankful I can share these pictures of our Thanksgiving meals, along with my special Bible verses.

You see, Mom just turned 93-years-old. I am thankful our family still has her as our matriarch. My father passed away three years ago.

In addition, I am grateful for all the good family times we have had over my lifetime celebrating Thanksgiving—even when we lived in England!

Mom, in your honor, I share your love of cooking with the world!

I love you and thank you for everything you have done for your family.

1. Let us come to Him with thanksgiving . . . (Psalm 95:2)

2. I have not stopped giving thanks for you in my prayers. (Ephesians 1:16)

3. This is the day that the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it. (Psalm 118:24)

4. I thank my God every time I remember you. (Philippians 1:3)

5. Give thanks to the Lord for He is good . . . (1 Chronicles 16:34)

6. Give thanks in all circumstances for this is God’s will for you. (1 Thessalonians 5:18)

7. Give thanks to the Lord, call on His name. (Isaiah 12:4)

Happy Thanksgiving my friends. Thanks for being part of the Greene Pastures Blog Family.

greenenpastures.org

Our Motives, Intentions and Attitudes [Toward Others]—Part 2

I’ll never forget it. My first thought was, “What was his motive or motives for such a horrendous act?”

In 2009, the New York Times reported that Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan, a military psychiatrist, shot and killed 13 people and wounded more than 30 others at the Fort Hood Army base in Central Texas. ¹

Last week, I wondered about the motives of whoever was sending package bombs to media and political figures around the country.

Fortunately, the police and FBI arrested Cesar Sayoc, 56, of South Florida as the prime suspect in the bomb mailings. Based on evidence collected so far, his motive appears to be extreme hatred of left-learning politicians and public figures.

Being a sociology major, I am extremely interested in what makes people tick. Crime shows fascinate me. In these shows, the question of motives always comes up either in the show or within my own mind.

Why Do We Want to Know a Person’s Motive?

  • To indulge our curiosity;
  • To know how to prevent future civil or moral disobedience;
  • To judge others;
  • To know how we can help solve others’ problems through acts of kindness; or
  • To pray for them.

In my blog titled Our Motives, Intentions, and Attitudes – Part 1, we discussed how to analyze our own motives. In Part 2, we will be looking into how we judge other people’s motives and whether it is right or wrong to do so from a Biblical perspective.

As we approach this topic, let’s remember that as we look upon the motives of others, they are looking back at us with the same inquiring mind, wondering, in turn, what our motives might be. Sometimes it is obvious; other times it is not.

When we judge (or try to analyze) the motives of others, our own belief system, personal experiences, desires, and other peripheral factors always come into play—affecting our perception of others.

Are We Judging Others When We Look at Their Motives?

It depends!

Motives can be good or bad, so we must balance how we view motives very carefully: we can’t always determine the motives of a person just by their behavior, deeds, or talk.

I must admit, when I was in my early twenties, I went to Sunday School to learn about God, but I had a double-motive. I wanted to find some dating possibilities. My motivation was what most Christ-followers can accept—the desire to find and date someone with like spiritual beliefs. While not 100% pure motives were involved, most accept and understand my dual motives.

Scrutinizing others’ motives should entail looking at our fellow human beings with the goal of glorifying God. Our words and thoughts should be gentle and humble—always seeking the best outcome for the other person. In this scenario, we would be looking at others in a righteous manner.

When we look at motives in an unrighteous way, our judgments are usually inconsistent with the way Jesus looks at us. Rudeness, roughness, humiliation and deviating from looking at others through the eyes of our Lord is prevalent today. Just look at many of our current political debates where intolerance and a lack of respect exist.

In 1 Chronicles 19, David was fleeing from King Saul and he received help from the Ammonite King Nahash. Nahash and David teamed up and together took on Saul and his army. Nahash eventually died and David, who succeeded Saul as King of Israel, tried to reach out to Nahash’s son King Hanun, but Hanun and his advisors became leery of David’s motives.

David’s men tried to express sorrow for Nahash’s death. Instead of accepting David’s offer of peace and alliance, Hanun humiliated the envoys by shaving their beards and cutting off their garments in the middle.

If Nahash would have taken the time to confirm David’s intentions, things would have turned out differently. Instead of harmonious relations, war broke out between them, and Israel defeated Nahash’s kingdom in Aram.

It didn’t take long for Hanun to decide that King David was insincere in reaching out to give consolation regarding his father’s death. But, he was dead wrong in his analysis.

King Hanun was easily influenced by his princes. Just like Hanun, we allow our friends, spouses, employees and previous experiences to color our attitudes, knowing full-well that adhering to God’s Word should be the primary motive in guiding our actions. Hanun’s princes should have given him time to think through and evaluate David’s kindness.

Instead they asked:

  • Do you think that David’s servants came to Hanum in the land of the people of Ammon to comfort him?
  • Did you think that David really honors your father because he has sent comforters to you?
  • Did his servants not come to you to search and to overthrow and to spy out the land?

In these questions, we see an unreliable group of people who probably had their own motives and agenda in mind to influence the King.

When we look at others, our mind, soul and spirit should be in alignment with the mind of Christ. Seeking God’s perspective on our psyche, spiritual life, and experiences guides us to a true discernment of a person’s motives; this helps us assist them in becoming in tune with God’s ultimate will for their lives.

Through prayer, the Holy Spirit’s guidance and a deep desire to live in the spiritual realm, we can gain an understanding of the intentions of others—most of the time!

The Bible says,

“Do not judge, and you will not be judged; and do not condemn, and you will not be condemned; pardon, and you will be pardoned.” (Luke 6:37)

“Do not judge according to appearance, but judge with righteous judgment.” (John 7:24)

What Does the Bible Mean When It Says, “We Are Not to Judge Others”?

In an article titled, What does the Bible mean that we are not to judge others? by GotQuestions.org, it says:

  • The Bible’s command that we not judge others does not mean there should be no mechanism for dealing with sin. Christians are often accused of judging or intolerance when they speak out against sin. But opposing sin is not wrong.
  • The Bible’s command that we not judge others does not mean we cannot show discernment. Jesus is giving us permission to tell right from wrong. In Matthew 7:15-16, Jesus said, “By their fruit you will recognize them”—the false prophets.
  • Jesus gives a direct command to judge: Stop judging by mere appearances, but instead judge correctly. (John 7:24)
  • We are always to be gentle toward everyone. Harsh, unforgiving judgment is wrong. (Titus 3:2)
  • Self-righteous judgment is wrong. We are called to humility, and God opposes the proud. (James 4:6)
  • Untrue judgment is wrong. The Bible says to slander no one. (Titus 3:2)
  • Believers are warned against judging others unfairly or unrighteously, but Jesus commends right judgment. (John 7:24) ²

When sin is involved, discerning the motives of others might be the difference between leading a person back to the Lord or letting him continue in sin, thus having him miss out on God’s best for his life.

One time, a prominent member on the school board of the Christian school where I was employed either didn’t like me or misunderstood my motives. Unfortunately, it resulted in me losing my job. Being unjustly criticized (without recourse) by another purported Christ-follower was an extremely painful experience. In a situation like this, a discussion of the situation would have been very helpful in my understanding the member’s motives and, eventually, my forgiving this action. Instead, long years of speculation have occurred.

Another time, one of my best friends misunderstood why I did not congratulate her and her daughter when they “walked down the aisle” upon her daughter’s acceptance of Christ. I was oblivious to the hurt feelings my friend experienced and how upset she was with me. Providentially, my friend called me up and brought my attention to her hurt feelings; thus, reconciliation occurred immediately.

In the first situation, there was no room for discussion, and years and years have passed where I am still haunted about what happened regarding “being let go” because there was no resolution.

In the second scenario, motives were discussed, handled, forgiven, and we were able to move on to a life-long friendship which is deeper than ever because we learned the correct way to handle it.

Discerning the Motives of Others

Reading others’ motives is a skill.

It’s important to remember that not all people’s motives are bad. Many motives are downright positive, e.g. wanting to help someone be all the Lord wants them to be.

In How to Read People’s Motives by Western Mastery, this article discusses why we might want to discern the motives of others.

Their reasoning is because when we know the motives of others, it helps us to know their intentions, helps us to gain insight, how to respond, and how to address their behaviors; ³

When we want to help others to yield their lives to Christ and to His character, discerning their motives might be just the catalyst the Lord wants to use to change their lives.

Misreading the Intentions of Others

On the other hand, it is extremely easy to make a snap judgment about someone or their behavior. Misreading others’ intentions is quite probable. We can misconstrue why people are jealous, fearful, and/or lazy.

We must be extremely careful not to undermine a person or their behavior without cause.

For instance, jealousy can cause a person to question a comrade’s motives because they might feel that their comrade is taking a rightly-earned place or position which the person believes should have instead been his own. Tragically, misreading motives could lead to future scheming, avoidance or even feeling unduly threatened or resentful in the comrade’s presence. In the workplace, this could culminate in a co-worker believing they deserve the promotion or the higher-paying position when, in fact, they do not deserve either one.

What Should We Do When We Question the Motives of Others?

Let’s face it—we are human beings and we sometimes wonder about the motives of others. It may be a cursory glance or a scrutinizing in-depth evaluation.

Some tips are:

  • Don’t rely on a preconceived notion about others. People change. God DOES change people;
  • Don’t depend exclusively on first impressions or our intuition;
  • Find out all the facts before judging a person’s motives (and especially before addressing them);
  • Put yourself in someone else’s shoes; and
  • If you have misjudged someone, apologize and reconcile as soon as possible.

A person’s background, personality, and life experiences may clash with yours, but that doesn’t make you right all the time and them wrong.

Being raised for most of my formative years in London, England or in the northeastern part of the United States, I may not think like some of my friends who were raised in the deep South. My life experiences and spiritual experiences are different than others, but I hope and pray that my friends and acquaintances will look at me through the eyes of God—instead of through my idiosyncrasies.

And especially not in a judgmental way.

When we depend on the Lord, our thinking about others and their motives will be guided by His light and in His wisdom. When we pursue God, He will show us any behaviors or actions He wants us address. Christian love and compassion should rule in our hearts—not negativity or criticism.

In his blog entry about motives, Joshua Kennon warns: “A final word of caution: I would urge you to consider keeping your thoughts on another person’s motivation to yourself.” ⁴ Until Jesus gives you the spiritual wisdom to discern where a person is coming from, keep your ears and eyes open for when, how or even whether you should speak.

When God gives us His wisdom, He will also give us guidance to know how to spur a person to hear God’s voice and experience a deep passion to follow Christ’s will.

Now, that is not being “judgmental”. Far from it!

It’s being a servant of God.

Bible Verses:

All the ways of a man are clean in his own sight, But the LORD weighs the motives. (Proverbs 16:2)

Do not judge according to appearance, but judge with righteous judgment. (John 7:24)

A man has joy in an apt answer, and how delightful is a timely word! (Proverbs 15:23)

I, the LORD, search the heart, I test the mind, even to give to each man according to his ways, according to the results of his deeds. (Jeremiah 17:10)

Prayer:

Dear Jesus,

I am prone at times to wonder what the thoughts or motives are of others are. I also understand that people, even those I consider friends, question my motives every now and then. I occasionally need my motives questioned and confronted in love. God, please give me Your mind. Give me Your discernment. Give me Your patience. Give me Your ability to speak only when You have led me to do so. Let my life be a replica of You. Lord, I want to represent You in all I do. I really do.

In Jesus’ Name. Amen.

God Bless

Member of IWA-Inspirational Writers Alive!

Member of Biblegateway Bloggers #bgbg2

All Bible verses use the New American Standard Version unless otherwise noted.

Edited by E. Johnson

Works Cited

¹ McFadden, Robert D. “Army Doctor Held in Ft. Hood Rampage.” The New York Times, 5 Nov 2009. www.nytimes.com/2009/11/06/us/06forthood.html.

² “What does the Bible mean that we are not to judge others?” Accessed 8 Oct 2018. https://www.gotquestions.org/do-not-judge.html.

³ “How to Read People’s Motives.” Western Mastery. December 28, 2016. Accessed 2018.8 Oct 2018. http://www.westernmastery.com/2016/12/28/understanding-the-motivation-behind-peoples-actions/

⁴ Kennon, Joshua. “To Have a More Successful Life, Understand the Motivations and Motives of Yourself and the People Around You.” Accessed 20 Oct 2018. http://JoshuaKeenan.com/motives-and-motivations-matter.

In addition, I would love for you to join either my blog or newsletter. Just go to GreenePastures.org and look on the upper right-hand side of the blog to join!

Books by Patti Greene: Available on Amazon

Christian Caregiving: Advice for a Happy Ending by Patti Greene

Kindness: A Fruit of the Spirit

Many of us have no idea how to treat others with kindness. As a Christ-follower, following Jesus’ example in the New Testament demonstrates a worthwhile goal to pursue. When Christ’s love and His Holy Spirit indwells us, kindness begins to permeate our thoughts first and then our actions.

When I look back at most of the people I have known in ministry, it is the trait of kindness that sticks in my mind. Many times, I personally received a direct outcome of their kindness or I saw them showering kindness on others.

But, come to think of it, kindness is the trait I look for or it finds me in my relationships with others. (Okay, I value honesty too!)

The trait that you look for or find may be different. It may be another fruit of the Spirit such as love, joy, peace, patience, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness or self-control. (Galatians 5:22)

While not exhaustive, some of the pastoral kindnesses I have experienced are . . .

  • The pastor who preached the gospel when I turned from my sin and believed in my Lord Jesus Christ. [Bill Lawson/Wheeler Avenue Baptist Church, Houston]
  • The pastor who counseled me and baptized me. [Dr. James Harris/University Baptist Church, Fort Worth]
  • The pastor who gave me the best marriage advice ever. [Dr. John Bisango, First Baptist Church, Houston]
  • The pastor who filled in to marry us when our intended wedding pastor had to cancel marrying us two days before the wedding. [Dr. James Riley/Former pastor @ Second Baptist, Houston]
  • The interim pastor who loved our 6-year old daughter and led her to Christ and baptized her that very same day. [Bob Harris/Interim @ First Baptist, Humble]
  • The pastor I saw sweeping and cleaning up the kitchen after our daughter’s wedding shower which took place in his church. [Jerry Howe/Second Baptist Church, Levelland at the time]

And, I could go on and on! Fortunately, my husband and I have been recipients of being in wonderful churches all throughout our married life. Each unique in their own way. Praise God!

Kindness from Christ-Followers

But, it’s not the kindnesses I have received just from ministerial people that have impressed me. I have also been the recipient of individual Christ-followers’ kindnesses, like . . .

  • The ladies who brought meals to me after my children were born.
  • The college professor who gave me a passing grade when I shared difficulties I was having grasping the subject matter in his class.
  • The friend who consoled me after a horrendous breakup.
  • The elderly churchmen and churchwomen who mentored my husband and me when we were young adults by their examples and “invitations to have lunch with them.”
  • The friend who rejoiced with me when we bought a home while she lived in a small, rundown apartment with four young children.

Kindness was the trait that attracted me to my husband. When we dated, he was kind (and nice) to me. Need I say more after 39 years of marriage?

The Bible urges us to be kind to one another.

Honestly, I don’t think of myself as a particularly kind person. [Oh, I do not like saying that, but I desire to be a kind person.] When I see my rough and jagged edges, I don’t like what I see. That’s why it surprises me when I receive notes from my friends as I received recently.

One of my friends wrote,

You found me hiding pains and helped my healing: I am the vibrant woman I am today because you stopped where I was stuck, you became the step I needed to climb up and out: I am eternally grateful for your loving kindness.

I cherish comments like this. They encourage me to do better, to strive to be more kind and loving. And I appreciate those who refrain from telling me my bad characteristics until they are told with kind words—words that only the Holy Spirit can place in their hearts.

Moses’ father-in-law Jethro knew how to show grace and kindness when it came time to lead Moses to a better life when Moses was overloaded by all his pastoral duties.

Jethro said,

The thing you are doing is not good. You will surely wear out, both yourself and these people who are with you, for the task is too heavy for you; you cannot do it alone.  Then he began to counsel him and teach him how to handle disputes by having the difficult decisions brought to him and having the minor decisions handled by the judges. (Exodus 18)

Now, that’s kindness in action!

Kindness is one of the fruits of the Spirit. When speaking about walking by the Spirit, Paul states the following, concluding with kindness being one of the fruits of the Spirit:

But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh. For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another, so that you may not do the things that you please. 

But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the Law. Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these, of which I forewarn you, just as I have forewarned you, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things, there is no law.  

Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit. Let us not become boastful, challenging one another, envying one another (Read Galatians 5:16-26).

Why Should We Be Kind To Each Other?

  • As believers, we are commanded to be kind. (Colossians 3:21)
  • Be kind so that the word of God may not be criticized or attacked. (Titus 2:5)
  • Because the Lord is kind. Psalm 145:17. (Titus 3:4)
  • God tells us to be kind because he is kind to the ungrateful and the evil. (Luke 6:35)
  • God’s kindness is meant to lead us to repentance. (Romans 2:4)
  • If you are kind, you will find life, righteousness, and honor. (Proverbs 21:21)
  • The Bible tells us that servants of God should be kind to everyone and not quarrelsome. (2 Timothy 2:24)
  • The Bible tells us to remember people kindly. (1 Thessalonians 3:6)
  • We should be kind to one another as God in Christ forgave us. (Ephesians 4:32)
  • You benefit yourself if you are kind while a cruel man hurts himself. (Proverbs 11:17)

Conclusion

As Christ-followers, no matter what we encounter in life, we are faced with many different situations and personalities. Obviously, sometimes we don’t feel like being kind. Fatigue, restlessness, and/or sin may cause our focus to shift away easily from God and His attributes.

Faced with our sometimes unkind attitudes, we should repent daily and pray that our lives will reflect the love of God in all we do—including being kind. Being kind involves loving others, being patient, and seeking God’s wisdom in all we say and do.

And, when we fail, let’s confess our harsh and callous hearts to God, and start over—even if it means addressing and apologizing to those whom we have hurt.

Bible Verses:

Now in Joppa there was a disciple named Tabitha (which translated in Greek is called Dorcas); this woman was abounding with deeds of kindness and charity which she continually did. (Acts 9:36)

But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High; for He Himself is kind to ungrateful and evil men. (Luke 6:35)

Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you. (Ephesians 4:32)

Prayer:

Dear Jesus, I so want to be kind. Help me each day to seek Your face and become more like You. Show me how to be kind to both my friends and enemies. Fill me with Your Holy Spirit and guide me to situations where I need to shower others with kindness. Where I need to seek forgiveness, show me how to confess. You are holy and kind and I want to be like You in all I say, think, or do. In Christ. Amen.

God Bless,

Member of IWA-Inspirational Writers Alive!

Member of Biblegateway Bloggers #bgbg2

Edited by E. Johnson

All Because of a Janitor and “One Another” Verses

ALL BECAUSE OF A JANITOR

I attend a weekly Bible study. This week my group met for a casual lunch to love on “one another” and fellowship since we are off for the summer.

May I mention that I am the youngest person in the group (and I’m not telling how old I am.) The age range of the women is probably between 75-95 with me being the exception. You might wonder how I ended up in a group with women so much older than me.

It was all because of a janitor!!! 

On my first day to attend this class, I did not know where the meeting room was located so I asked the janitor—my big mistake or so I thought. He had no idea where I should go or what I was talking about. He just wanted to chat and speculate with me.

Finally, three lovely women walked by and asked if they could help. Long story short, I ended up in their class even though there were about seven or eight different classes in which one or two probably included women close to my own age group.

When I walked in the class that first day, I saw canes, walkers, and wheelchairs. Within a few minutes, I learned there were women there possessing hearing aids, cancer ports, and living with dementia.

I tell you all this to say that God always knows what He is doing. During my  1 1/2 year involvement with this class, I wrote a book titled Christian Caregiving: Practical Advice for a Happy EndingNot that the book was a direct result of this class, but it did give me a little more understanding and compassion for the elderly!

The janitor doesn’t know it, but his elongated speculation and chatter on room location provided for God’s timing so these women could “arrive on the scene.”

I love the ladies in this group and the Bible study. And, I think the group has accepted me (the strangler who invaded their already established group)—at least they acted like it yesterday!

Because of this class, I am a big fan of the books of the Bible we have studied together—1 Samuel, 2 Samuel, and 1 Corinthians!

Now I am eagerly awaiting our next study on the book of John this fall. Awesome!

Moving on . . . 

This week I was listening to a Christian radio program and the speaker discussed the phrase “one another” from the Bible. So, being a curious person, I looked up the phrase and saw that the phrase is mentioned 153 times in the Old Testament and 146 times in the New Testament.

Faced with reading all 299 verses, I opted to read the 146 verses in the New Testament. Many of the verses had to do with speaking to one another, reasoning with one another, calling others for discussion, arguing with one another, and more.

But, for this blog, I decided to pull out some Christian advice and admonitions that are personal attributes for us to remember. I hope you enjoy them and notice how often we are encouraged to love one another!

“One Another” NT Verses

Mark 9:50
Salt is good; but if the salt becomes unsalty, with what will you make it salty again? Have salt in yourselves, and be at peace with one another.”
been wasted?

Luke 23:12
Now Herod and Pilate became friends with one another that very day; for before they had been enemies with each other.

John 5:44
How can you believe, when you receive glory from one another and you do not seek the glory that is from the one and only God?

John 13:34
A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another.

John 15:12
[ Disciples’ Relation to Each Other ] “This is My commandment, that you love one another, just as I have loved you.

John 15:17
This I command you, that you love one another.

Acts 4:15
But when they had ordered them to leave the Council, they began to confer with one another,

Acts 21:5
When our days there were ended, we left and started on our journey, while they all, with wives and children, escorted us until we were out of the city. After kneeling down on the beach and praying, we said farewell to one another.

Acts 26:31
and when they had gone aside, they began talking to one another, saying, “This man is not doing anything worthy of death or imprisonment.”

Romans 12:10
Be devoted to one another in brotherly love; give preference to one another in honor;

Romans 12:16
Be of the same mind toward one another; do not be haughty in mind, but associate with the lowly. Do not be wise in your own estimation.

Romans 13:8
Owe nothing to anyone except to love one another; for he who loves his neighbor has fulfilled the law.

Romans 14:13
Therefore let us not judge one another anymore, but rather determine this—not to put an obstacle or a stumbling block in a brother’s way.

Romans 14:19
So then we pursue the things which make for peace and the building up of one another.

Romans 15:5
Now may the God who gives perseverance and encouragement grant you to be of the same mind with one another according to Christ Jesus,

Romans 15:7
Therefore, accept one another, just as Christ also accepted us to the glory of God.

Romans 15:14
And concerning you, my brethren, I myself also am convinced that you yourselves are full of goodness, filled with all knowledge and able also to admonish one another.

Romans 16:16
Greet one another with a holy kiss. All the churches of Christ greet you.

1 Corinthians 11:33
So then, my brethren, when you come together to eat, wait for one another.

1 Corinthians 12:25
so that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another.

Galatians 5:13
For you were called to freedom, brethren; only do not turn your freedom into an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.

Galatians 5:15
But if you bite and devour one another, take care that you are not consumed by one another.

Galatians 5:26
Let us not become boastful, challenging one another, envying one another.

Galatians 6:2
Bear one another’s burdens, and thereby fulfill the law of Christ.

Ephesians 4:2
with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing tolerance for one another in love,

Ephesians 4:25
Therefore, laying aside falsehood, SPEAK TRUTH EACH ONE of you WITH HIS NEIGHBOR, for we are members of one another
.

Ephesians 4:32
Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.

Ephesians 5:19
speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord;

Ephesians 5:21
and be subject to one another in the fear of Christ.

Philippians 2:3
Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves;

Colossians 3:9
Do not lie to one another, since you laid aside the old self with its evil practices,

Colossians 3:13
bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you.

Colossians 3:16
Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God.

1 Thessalonians 3:12
and may the Lord cause you to increase and abound in love for one another, and for all people, just as we also do for you;

1 Thessalonians 4:9
Now as to the love of the brethren, you have no need for anyone to write to you, for you yourselves are taught by God to love one another;

1 Thessalonians 4:18
Therefore comfort one another with these words.

1 Thessalonians 5:11
Therefore encourage one another and build up one another, just as you also are doing.

1 Thessalonians 5:13
and that you esteem them very highly in love because of their work. Live in peace with one another.

1 Thessalonians 5:15
See that no one repays another with evil for evil, but always seek after that which is good for one another and for all people.

Hebrews 3:13
But encourage one another day after day, as long as it is still called “Today,” so that none of you will be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.

Hebrews 10:24
and let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds,

Hebrews 10:25
not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near.

James 4:11
Do not speak against one another, brethren. He who speaks against a brother or judges his brother, speaks against the law and judges the law; but if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law but a judge of it.

James 5:9
Do not complain, brethren, against one another, so that you yourselves may not be judged; behold, the Judge is standing right at the door.

James 5:16
Therefore, confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another so that you may be healed. The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much.

1 Peter 1:22
Since you have in obedience to the truth purified your souls for a sincere love of the brethren, fervently love one another from the heart,

1 Peter 4:9
Be hospitable to one another without complaint.

1 Peter 4:10
As each one has received a special gift, employ it in serving one another as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.

1 Peter 5:5
You younger men, likewise, be subject to your elders; and all of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, for GOD IS OPPOSED TO THE PROUD, BUT GIVES GRACE TO THE HUMBLE.

1 John 3:1
Children of God Love One Another ] See how great a love the Father has bestowed on us, that we would be called children of God; and such we are. For this reason the world does not know us, because it did not know Him.

1 John 3:11
For this is the message which you have heard from the beginning, that we should love one another;

1 John 3:23
This is His commandment, that we believe in the name of His Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, just as He commanded us.

1 John 4:7
[ God Is Love ] Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God.

1 John 4:11
Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.

1 John 4:12
No one has seen God at any time; if we love one another, God abides in us, and His love is perfected in us.

2 John 1:5
Now I ask you, lady, not as though I were writing to you a new commandment, but the one which we have had from the beginning, that we love one another.

Verses:

See above.

Prayer:

Dear heavenly Father, Please help me to put one or two of the verses above into action this week. Show me how I can serve others. Give me wisdom so I can know you better and be a person who uplifts Your holy name. I love you, Lord. Now let me fervently love others in the power of Your Holy Spirit. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.

God Bless,

Works Cited:

BibleGateway.com [NASB version]

Chambers, Oswald. My Utmost for His Highest. https://utmost.org/love-one-another. 11 July 2018.

You can sign up for email notifications on blogs and monthly newsletters by going to GreenePastures.org. Look for the sign-in blocks. You will then receive an email to confirm your subscription.

Also, if you found this post helpful, please like it, share it or comment on it so others can get the benefit. Thanks.