Kindness (Fruit of the Spirit)

Kindness is giving away what you believe is the last of your food to someone with no means of obtaining more and trusting that God will provide for you and your child (1 Kings 17:8-16). Kindness is giving a stranger a drink of water from your bucket and offering to water his camels as well (Genesis 24:15-21). Kindness is healing a sick and dirty child and letting them sit on your lap even when others look down on you for it (Matthew 19:13-15).

Kindness is acting on the belief that others’ needs are more important than your own. It is seen throughout the Bible and is an important part of the Christian lifestyle.

But what is an act of kindness? How can we be kind in our everyday lives? Well, it’s simple. Kindness is simply loving the unlovable, helping the helpless and caring for those who care nothing for you. It’s holding the door open for the pregnant mom trying to wrestle her toddler into church. It’s baking cookies for the crazy old lady across the street and offering to do her dishes. It’s wiping the little boy’s snotty nose in the nursery who won’t stop crying and then cuddling and comforting him until his parents return.

I love this quote because it is so true:

“Wherever there is a human being, there is an opportunity for a kindness.” -Lucius Annaeus Seneca.

Think about how many people you see on a daily basis. We miss all of these opportunities because of our selfishness and pride when all it might take is saying “hi.”

Writing these words, I feel convicted that I haven’t been showing kindness to everyone around me. I live with seven people, for goodness’ sake! There are endless possibilities for kindness right there!

Think about it this way, we as Christian have been shown the greatest act of kindness ever and yet we are unkind and quick to accuse and be angry. How can we justify that? As Ephesians 4:32 says,

“Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.”

Advertisements

The Unknown Future

felix-kayser-43337

I recently went on my first college tour. We were on vacation near the college where both of my parents graduated from and we decided to drop by and check it out. It was a great experience and it showed me some good steps I need to take to be the most college ready when I graduate. I have to admit, though, I was in a bad mood the entire time.

And I didn’t really even know why. I may have gotten up a little earlier than I had wanted and we may have been rushing to get there on time but neither of those reasons should have made me grumpy. But grumpy I was, and I think I may have figured out the problem.

You see, I like to always know what is going on, whether it’s the plan for the day or for the next 10 years, and visiting the college reminded me that the future is beyond control. That thought scared me and, without realizing it, I was in a bad mood because I was suddenly aware of the uncertainty of my future.

I can make plans (and I probably should) but I can’t plan my step by step guide for the rest of my life. Things happen and things change. And I sometimes struggle with that. I want to be in absolute control over my life and what happens at all times. I want to go through life with both hands on the wheel never letting go.

However, sometimes, I don’t know what’s best for me. Sometimes, I make a wrong turn, don’t follow the directions, and get lost. Being in control of my life suddenly leaves me alone and without help, lost in life and not knowing where to turn.

But, there is someone who never makes a mistake. Someone who never gets lost and who knows what’s best for me at all times. He has a much better plan, one that doesn’t fail and won’t change. He knows what’s best for all of us is holding our futures in his hands with gentle care and consideration. I may not know all the twists and turns in my life but there someone who does. And I fully surrender the reigns of my life to God.

“‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.'” – Jeremiah 29:11

I couldn’t write an article about the future without including this verse. It is very popular and has a great message. The reason many people find this verse so appealing is that it reminds us of who is in control and who is shaping our future. We don’t have to worry about what’s going to happen because God has got everything figured out already.

So, even though we don’t know where we’re headed, God is right by our side guiding us on our walk with him. So grab tight to his hand, give him your trust, and walk on knowing that you have hope and a future.

 

11 years of friendship

My little sister and best friend is turning 11 today. It’s been 11 years since I first held that tiny baby and fell instantly in love and I’ve loved every second of getting to know her better and become great friends.

06-21 Lindy's Birth (15)

To celebrate, I have compiled a list of 11 reasons why I love and adore her (and always will):

  1. Her friendliness. She is just so good at being a friend that everyone instantly wants to be friends with her. Easily turning anyone into an intimate friend is her superpower!
  2. Her optimism. She is constantly looking on the bright side. Her great outlook on life and ability to always find the silver lining in any situation is contagious.
  3. Her self-control. She has the ability to make holloween candy last until Christmas! She can limit herself to one piece a day and doesn’t even seem tempted to go over the limit. She constantly has a supply of candy stored in her bedroom. Not to mention that she went 40 days without any candy or chocolate for Lent…
  4. Her smile. Her smile could light up the darkest of nights and cheer up the saddest of people. Plus, I just recently noticed how photogenic she was. I still can’t comprehend how she looks good in every picture she takes!
  5. Her sarcasm. She has definitely mastered the art of sarcasm, but, then again, so has our entire family…
  6. Her tidiness. We sure found out who the messy one was when I moved out into my own room (me…)
  7. Her roughhousing. Although it sometimes gets on my nerves, I admire her ability to make any kid giggle when she tickles them and spins them around until they can’t breathe from laughter.
  8. Her outgoingness. She’s not afraid to meet and talk to new people. Or belt out a song at the top of her lungs in public. Or be her crazy self no matter who is watching.
  9. Her curls. Her hair is gorgeous (as you can see from the pictures) even though she hasn’t realized it yet.
  10. Her love. Both loving and lovable, she loves unconditionally without fear and is loved the same way in return.
  11. Her faith in Jesus. I can say without a shadow of a doubt that she has an unshakeable faith in God her Father and Savior. As Jesus tells his disciples in Matthew, “Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.” She has a mountain-moving faith and my prayer for her is that she will continue to nurture it to its full potential. God has big things in store for her and I can’t wait to see what his full plans for her life are.

Well, there you have it, 11 of the *many* reasons I love her.

If sisters were flowers, I’d still pick you.
I’d let the sun shine so you’d never be blue.
I’d show the world how beautifully you grew,
with bright bold colors and strength through & through.
If sisters were flowers, I’d pick you right away.
Because you cheer me up and bring smiles each day.
If sisters were flowers, for what it’s worth.
I’d always pick you … the best sister on earth.

Happy Birthday, little sister! I love you and look forward to another year of giggles, late nights, and secrets with you!

Patience (Fruit of the Spirit)

Unlike most people think, patience is not the ability to wait, it is the ability to have a good attitude while waiting. Everyone is going to have to wait at some point. Life isn’t about things happening every second of the day. If it was, we would be exhausted! Whining, pacing, and complaining about the wait do nothing to shorten it, in fact, they usually make the person feel the wait more and it will seem longer. Having the right attitude while waiting makes it seem easier and feel shorter.

I found this quote on patience that I really like:

“The key to everything is patience. You get the chicken by hatching the egg, not by smashing it.” – Arnold H. Glasow

Our God is a very patient God. In Exodus, God shows his tremendous amount of patience to the people of Israel. In the beginning, God talks to Moses through a burning bush and tells him to lead his people out of Israel. But, Moses comes up with every reason that he is inadequate to go. God, however, responds patiently to every reason saying that He will be with Moses. Later, after Moses led the Israelites out of Egypt, the people started crying out to God that they had no food or water and that He had abandoned them in the desert. They very easily forgot what he had done for them in Egypt. However, he again patiently responds by giving them manna and quail and water.

This happens over and over again: the people forget how powerful and loving their God is while God patiently provides.

But, what about us? How can we be patient? Remind yourself that you love the person you want to have patience with.

Jacob gives us a clear example of this in Genesis 29. He is looking for a wife when God sends him Rachel. She is very beautiful and Jacob immediately falls in love with her. Jacob agrees to work for her father, Laban, for seven years just to marry Rachel. So, for seven long years, Jacob works diligently for Laban. However, at the end of the seven years, Laban tricks Jacob into marrying his other daughter, Leah and tells Jacob that if he wants to marry Rachel he will have to work another seven years. Jacob is upset but he does it just to get Rachel. And I love this verse because it tells of Jacob’s patience in waiting to marry Rachel:

“So Jacob served seven years to get Rachel, but they seemed like only a few days to him because of his love for her.” – Genesis 29:20.

Jacob worked for 5,110 days (14 years) but he did it willingly and patiently because of the love he felt for Rachel. I definitely think there were times when Jacob wanted to give up and just go find another woman. But, he stayed and had patience for all of those years because he remembered his love for Rachel.

The key to patience is remembering the love you have for that person. When you do that, all of the little things they do that annoy us will seem trifle because of how much you love them and, more importantly, God loves them.

And once you master patience, you will be able to master everything else because you will have learned the rewards of waiting patiently.

Mother’s Day

Happy Mother’s Day to all of you wonderful ladies who have the joy of being called “Mommy!”

I love Mother’s Day because it allows the mom’s who work tirelessly nonstop all year to be appreciated for what they do for us each and every day. It gives them a chance to relax and have stuff done for them instead.

However, thanking your mom isn’t something that should just be done on mother’s day. Mothers aren’t slaves or servants and they shouldn’t be treated like they are. Think about how many sleepless nights, tantrums, school projects, and obnoxious friends your mom has dealt with over the years.

I look at teenagers today who are disrespectful to their moms 364 days a year and are only polite and loving on mother’s day. How can we think that is right? Moms aren’t just loving, kind, and helpful one day a year, so why should we only appreciate them one day a year?

So, I encourage you to spend time today thanking and loving on your mom (she definitely deserves it!) but don’t forget to do it tomorrow, and the next day, and next month, and next year.

I love you, Mom! You truly are the best!

Peace (Fruit of the Spirit)

So, I’ve been a little hesitant to post this. I actually wrote an entire post and then deleted it and started from scratch.

The thing is, peace is a touchy subject. As Christians, we are not called to live easy and comfortable lives. In fact, Jesus tells us that the world is going to hate and despise us just like they did to him.

So why is peace a fruit of the spirit? Many Christians are persecuted for their faith daily and are laughed at just for praying. How can we be at peace then?

We have peace because we know the eternal destiny of our souls. Though we face trials and struggles here, we are going to live with our heavenly father for eternity.

And not only that, but we have someone caring for us at all times. We have no need to fear because the one who can heal the sick, make the blind see, and move mountains with mere words loves us and is watching over our every step. Why should we worry? We should have an overwhelming peace at all times.

It doesn’t take the unity of the world, the greatness of a president, or even the stability of a job for us to be at peace. Peace isn’t the absence of troubles and worries, it’s the presence of God and the recognition that God is in control.

I’ve been reading a lot about peace lately and here are some of my favorite verses about it:

“Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.” – 1 Peter 5:7.

He cares for you. No part of your life is insignificant or too small for God to care about. He cares about your science test just as much as he cares about a life threatening situation. Start trusting God with the small things in your life and when big troubles come, peace from and trust in God will be the natural response.

“Great peace have those who love your law, and nothing can make them stumble.” – Psalm 119:165.

Most sin is the result of insecurity and inner-war. When we focus on peace and loving and obeying God, this world can’t make us stumble because we won’t care what it thinks about us.

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” – Philippians 4:6-7.

Do you want to know how to get the peace of God? Prayer. Peace comes through asking God for it in every situation. I also love how this verse calls God’s peace incomprehensible. People will be amazed and astounded at your peace.

Those who focus on God will have peace because they aren’t focused on their worries. If we fix our eyes on the glory and wonder of our awesome God, our troubles will seem tiny and powerless (because they are).

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” – Matthew 11:28-30.

I don’t know about you, but I am worn out and sick of being tired from carrying my own weight on my shoulders. I want to cast my troubles, my every worry, on the one who cares for me and will lift it from me. Although my physical body may be exhausted, my heart and soul will find a rest.

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I was overcome the world.” – John 16:33.

Don’t let the world bog you down because the person living inside you has already overcome the world. How can the world worry us if our savior has already conquered it? We have a fountain of peace coming from the heart of our God!
Don’t live like the world is winning, have peace because the God of the universe has already won the war!

1 Timothy 4:12

What would it look like to see a teenager on fire for God? What if we lived our lives as a living sacrifice for Jesus? What if we valued our Bibles as greater than our phones? What if we viewed God’s opinion as more valuable than others’? What if we treated following God’s commandments and being like Jesus as critical? What if God came before social media, clothing, sports, and even personal safety in our lives?

Does such a teenager exist? Please introduce me to them!!

Many stereotypes are placed on millennials and especially teenagers. People tell us we are lazy, ignorant, act entitled, easily sidetracked, and technology obsessed. And although we are looked down upon, we are not expected to ever do anything more than fulfill those stereotypes.

Constantly, I’m being bombarded with people saying how terrible and worthless millennials and teenagers are, but I’m never told how to become valuable and people never ask me to help serve with anything. Instead of taking the time to teach me a work ethic and show me the wonders of non-technology, they just complain that we aren’t learning these things ourselves.

Even in the church teenagers are treated differently than adults. You’ll never see an “adult group” where older members of the church get together to play games, eat pizza, and hang out with friends. They go to Bible studies where they intensely study the Bible.

But, in many churches, teenagers can never just get together to study the Bible or learn about God, instead, there is always a game, meal, or a fun trip attached to it. I’ve never understood this. Are teenagers only capable of having fun? And we wonder why this generation feels entitled!

As teenagers, we need to take a stand against these stereotypes. We’ve come to a point in our lives where the spiritual baby food is no longer filling. We have become restless because we are unable to study the Bible for ourselves because we have never been taught how to. I long for someone to come along and challenge me spiritually, but instead, I am looked upon as weird for wanting more than is being given at youth group.

Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, and in purity. – 1 Timothy 4:12

Many times we are told the first part of the verse: don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young. Every Christian, even the teenagers, has something that God has taught them, a lesson they have learned, or a story to tell. We should be learning from each other, old as well as young.

But don’t miss the second half of the verse: set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, and in purity. How do you get people to listen to what you are saying and take you seriously as a teenager? Act like you should be listened to! Use your speech not to tear others down, but build them up and encourage them; conduct yourself in a way pleasing to the Lord; love God, but also love others as yourself; have faith in God and trust him to lead you and teach you; stay pure and don’t corrupt yourself with bad influences, in person or on the internet.

If we, as teenagers, start acting mature and studying God’s word for ourselves, we are not only going to grow in God, but people are going to see our example and learn from us.

Don’t continue to accept spiritual baby food, but begin tasting and savoring the goodness and greatness of our awesome God. Don’t ever let anyone tell you that you aren’t good enough because of your age. God can use anyone as long as they are willing to be used and live their lives open to God’s presence. I pray that God will open our hearts so that we can offer our lives to him to be used for his glory. I also pray that God will open the eyes of the people around us so that they come to realize that the teenage years aren’t a waste, but that there are teens willing to honor and glorify God with their lives.