Top Ten Tuesday: K is for Kind

Top Ten Tuesday: K is for Kind

Top Ten Tuesday

Let’s play a game to break the ice.  Everyone say your name and say an adjective that starts with the same letter of your name.  Everyone ready?  I’ll start!  I am Joyful Joanne!

^^^Raise your hand if you can relate to that situation.  What adjective did you use? Amazing Allison?  Beautiful Brittany?  Charming Courtney?  Sweet Sarah?

I’ve always been Kind Kat.  It’s generally the only adjective that comes to mind since I am not kyphotic or kittenish or kyrgyzstani (although I may be kooky).

Kind Kat is a bit of a misnomer, though.  Most days, I am more fluent in sarcasm and judgment than I am in kindness.

God does not ask me to speak words of sarcasm.  He commands me to speak words of grace, charity, and kindness.

Ten Verses for When You Are Feeling Kind

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Change {And Why It Scares Me}

Change {And Why It Scares Me}

This afternoon I went on a walk to appreciate the beautiful colors of Autumn, and my mind drifted to the topic of change.

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I have never been one to like change.

I didn’t want to start first grade because I was afraid of staying at school after lunchtime.  Since my three closest friends transferred schools after fifth grade, middle school brought the fear of eating lunch without them.  When I moved up to high school, I was terrified of the upperclassmen.  The daunting world of college was more frightening than I thought I could handle.

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You see, I don’t like change because it is scary. I am fearful.  Change is terrifying.  I am frightened.

Despite my fears, I loved first grade–as a first grader, I learned to spell “long” words (like because and swimming).  In sixth grade, I became friends with two girls that stuck with me through the most awkward years of our lives.  Some of the upperclassmen that I played sports with in high school actually turned out to be friendly.  Furthermore, college has taught me more than I ever anticipated.

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I wish that I had learned the benefits of change by now, but change still haunts me.

When change happens, I have to face the unknown. I always like to know what will happen next, when it will happen, and how it will happen.  But when change occurs, those three facts are generally left up in the air.

And then there is the truth that change is painful.  Routine is comfortable, but change is unsettling.

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Yet, I know that change is necessary…Change is beneficial…Change brings progress.

Without change, we  might have pumpkins, but we would not have jack-o-lanters.  We might have trees, but we would not have the beautiful colors of Autumn.  We might have caterpillars, but no dazzling butterflies.  Pain might exist, but there would certainly be no knowledge or strength.

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Most importantly, change brings our salvation and sanctification.

In the past all of us lived like the world, trying to please our sinful selves and doing all the things our bodies and minds wanted. We should have suffered God’s anger because we were sinful by nature. We were the same as all other people.  But God’s mercy is great, and he loved us very much. Though we were spiritually dead because of the things we did against God, he gave us new life with Christ. You have been saved by God’s grace.  –Ephesians 2:3-6

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When I was still living a life of self-pleasure and sin, God’s mercy and grace were great enough to rescue me.  He changed me and gave me a new life.

So, as hard as it is, I will embrace the change that brings godliness, beauty, and hope.

 

Questions for you:

Do you like change?  How do you deal with change?

What is the best thing that change has ever brought you?

He’s Still Working On Me

He’s Still Working On Me

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We dumped the plastic bag of duct tape on the kitchen table and began designing our duct tape purses. My best friend/crafting partner and I had a wave of inspiration in a lazy summer afternoon, and we decided to master a new art: duct tape accessories.  We discussed size, shape, and color. We dreamed of embellishments and unique touches.

Within a few minutes, I had started piecing together a bright yellow tote with an orange duck on the front.  I worked quickly, eager to complete the craft.  My friend, on the other hand, was meticulously flattening strips of tape before perfectly positioning the pieces together.  Although we both finished our yellow totes the same day,  it was easy to see who had put more time, care, and diligence into the project.  I wanted the project finished.  She wanted the project finished properly.

As a child, I learned a song that said, “He’s still working on me to make me what I want to be.”  At the time, I thought that I would be finished by adulthood, but God is STILL working on me, and I am thankful that He is not done yet.  I am still a work in progress.  He is putting the necessary care and diligence into sanctifying me, and I must patiently wait for the time of completion.

Time. Care. Diligence.  That is what it takes to complete a perfect project.

“How loving and patient He must be. He’s still working on me.”

Bear Ye One Another’s Burdens

Bear Ye One Another’s Burdens

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Hannah and I both sighed with exasperation as we wrung water out of our freshly washed hair.  “I just give up on this video project,” she expressed.  “I worked so hard on it, and then the instructor basically told me to start over.  He completely re-wrote my story, and he wants me to shoot new footage. It is due tomorrow at 5 o’clock, and I don’t know what to do.”

I nodded in agreement. “He did the same thing to me.  How are we supposed to completely re-work a video in 16 hours?”

After a week of shooting, scrubbing, recording, and editing, all nine workshop participants were stressed and exhausted.  We had spent 5 days scrambling in different directions to gather all the necessary components for our individual videos. We rarely spent more than thirty minutes together at meals.  Otherwise, we spent our days working on our personal projects.

Despite the fact that we each had our own deadlines and goals, a sense of teamwork developed in our group. Somehow, despite all of the personal work, we were enduring the same struggles.

I would never ask for difficulty to come, but enduring hardship together has a way of uniting people. Perhaps that is why James wrote, “Bear ye one another’s burdens.”

Sometimes, all you need is someone to come along beside you, say, “I understand.  I’ve been there too,” and offer to help carry the load.

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Second Timothy Two: Athlete

Second Timothy Two: Athlete

 

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Two men, whom we will call Frank and Jim, are playing pool in a bar. Just as Frank takes aim for the 6 ball in the side pocket, an onlooker suggests that he shoot for a corner pocket instead. Frank takes the suggestion and flawlessly makes the shot. However, a foul is called, and Frank loses his next turn.

Why?

According to official billiards rules, you cannot take advice mid-match. Check the rule books. It is there.

As Paul writes his last letter to his student Timothy, he makes a third metaphor of the Christian walk.  This time, he says, “An athlete who takes part in a contest must obey all the rules in order to win.”

Most of us have played sports before, rather it was a pick-up game of volleyball or a serious soccer match.  Competitors must put forth effort in order to win.  Professional athletes have a tremendous amount of self-discipline to perform at their best.  As Kia has shown, their goal is not just participation; it is victory.

 

Athletes keep their goal of victory in mind every time they wake up early for extra practice and every time they fall into bed exhausted with sore muscles.

Paul says that the athlete must strive according to the rules.  Does this mean that Christians must keep the Ten Commandments in order to enter heaven? Of course not!  Another translation puts it this way: “If anyone takes part in an athletic contest, he gets no prize unless he obeys the rules.”

An athlete cannot receive the benefits of his dedication if he does not follow the rules of his sport.  In the same way, God has commanded us to do certain things as his children (witness, encourage others, pray, etc.) .  Doing these things earns us heavenly rewards.

The athlete’s goal is a perishable crown, an earthly championship trophy.

Our ultimate goal is an imperishable crown in the presence of our Lord.

Steps of Sanctification

Steps of Sanctification

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You would think that after 20 years of living, I would have the self-regulation necessary to live in obedience to God.  Yet, I seem make the same failures on a daily basis.  As Chris Rice says, I am “hanging on to that same old piece of forbidden fruit.”  I endeavor to live a holy life, but, like the Apostle Paul, “I do not understand the things I do. I do not do what I want to do, and I do the things I hate”  (Romans 7:15)  Sanctification is so attainable, but I fail to grasp it.

Thankfully, my salvation is secure despite my human inadequacy.  Nonetheless, God’s will is my sanctification, and I want to please my Lord.  Being like Christ is something that I will never be able to do in human strength.  With the help of the Holy Spirit, however, I can live righteously like my Savior.  This does not mean that I can sit idly by and wait for God to change my actions.  Throughout the Bible, there are clear steps to becoming more like God’s Son.

1) Ask for forgiveness for personal sins.

“In Christ, we are set free by the blood of his death, and so we have forgiveness of sins.  How rich is God’s grace which he has given to us so fully and freely.”  – Ephesians 1:7-8

2) Surrender your body and life to Christ.

“So brothers and sisters, since God has shows us a great mercy, I beg you to offer lives as a living sacrifice to him.  Your offering must be only for God and pleasing to him, which is the spiritual way for you to worship.”   – Romans 12:1

3) Renew your mind and bring your thoughts under Christ’s subjection.

“Do not be shaped by this world; instead be changed within by a new way of thinking.”  – Romans 12:2

“…We capture every thought and make it give up and obey Christ.”  – 2 Cor. 10:5

4) Every time you fail, start back at step one.

“If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive our sins and cleanse us from unrighteousness.”  – I John 1:9

You Are What You Think

You Are What You Think

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If we had hinges on our heads

There wouldn’t be no sin.

‘Cause we could take the bad stuff out

And leave the good stuff in.

– Shel Silverstein

Sometimes I wish righteous living was as easy as Shel Silverstein’s idea in this poem. But it’s not.  In fact, most of my personal sins are performed completely in my mind.

According to Proverbs 4:23, our thoughts run our lives.  Therefore, we will live sinful lives when our minds are set on sinful passions.  Jesus explains in Matthew 7:21-22, “All these evil things begin inside people, in the mind: evil thoughts…stealing…greed…lying…jealousy, speaking evil of others, pride, and foolish living.”   We know that the Lord despises these sins (in fact, he also despises evil thoughts according to Proverbs 15:26), so how can we hone a pure, God-honoring mentality?

I believe that it all begins with allowing God to be the Master of your mind.  In Romans 8:6, Paul writes, “If people’s thinking is controlled by their sinful self, there is death.  But if their thinking is controlled by the Spirit, there is life and peace.”  In the surrounding verses, he explains that people who live sinful lives think only about what they sinfully desire.  However, those who live righteously focus on spiritual goals.  You must be intentional to allow the Spirit to control your mind.  Proverbs 17:24 says, “…the mind of a fool wanders everywhere.”  Therefore, we must “keep our minds on what is right” (Proverbs 23:19,  see also Philippians 4:8).

Even when we strive to intentionally focus on God, we will slip at times to our old way of thinking.  When this happens, we must “capture every thought and make it give up to obey Christ”  (2 Corinthians 10:5).

Controlling my thought life will never be as easy as opening some hinges and taking out the sinful thoughts.  However, I can control my thoughts and let the Lord direct them.

I hope my words and thoughts please you, Lord.  You are my Rock, the One who saves me.”  – Psalm 19:14