Friday, September 30, 2011

Live on purpose!

The 9 previous posts have all been actions for us to live by the golden rule.  If you haven't read them, go back and take a few minutes to do so.  As you can see, these are things we have to be on purpose with.  Kids will often say "she did that on purpose" or "he hit me on purpose."  As we go about our lives, we can say - "YES!  I did that on purpose!"  I'm living an on-purpose, golden-rule lead life.

Colossians 3:12-17 is one of my favorite passages.  The apostle Paul says here for us to "put on" certain things.  He's telling us that we have to do things on purpose! 

"Put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering; bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do.  But above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfection.  And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which also you were called in one body; and be thankful.  Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grade in your hearts to the Lord.  And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him."  (Col. 3:12-17)

Each of these items are things that we do to others.  When we put on kindness, we are being kind to someone else, when we put on love, we behave in a loving way towards others.  These things don't just happen like a light coming from above and a chorus singing behind us, but we have to do them on purpose

Choose today to be on purpose with your behavior, and choose to live by the golden rule. 

Monday, September 26, 2011

Golden Rules for Living

If you open it, close it.
If you turn it on, turn it off.
If you unlock it, lock it up.
If you break it, admit it.
If you can't fix it, call in someone who can.
If you borrow it, return it.
If you value it, take care of it.
If you make a mess clean it up.
If you move it, put it back.
If it belongs to someone else and you want to use it, get permission.
If you don't know how to operate it, leave it alone.
If it's none of your business, don't ask questions.
If it isn’t broke, don't fix it.
If it will brighten someone's day, say it.
If it will tarnish someone's reputation, keep it to yourself.


Thursday, September 22, 2011

Be Happy

When my husband and I were dating, the song on the radio was "Don't Worry, Be Happy".  I can never hear that song without thinking back to such a happy time in our lives and it always makes me smile!

I heard football coach Lou Holtz say that happiness was just having a bad memory, when you can’t remember what happened yesterday, you‘re happy today!  Maybe that’s right!  I can forget those things that can make me sad and just be happy!

Matthew 5:3-10 is the Beatitudes.  Let's replace the word blessed with the word happy. 

Happy are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Happy are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.

Happy are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.

Happy are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.

Happy are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.

Happy are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.

Happy are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.

Happy are those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Are these beatitudes talking about you? 

Happiness is a path, not a destination.  We’re not going to just wake up one day and all of a sudden be happy …  but we need to be happy on our journey.  Spreading happiness to others will make that journey sweeter.  Smile at others; let them see joy in your face!  We want to be happy so others around us will be happy as well – be happy because it’s contagious!

Be careful with what we surround ourselves with – what we listen to can affect our happiness, and sometimes we allow ourselves to be persuaded by the media.  I wonder if we hadn’t listened to what “they say” if we would be in the circumstances we are in now?  A friend of mine goes on and on about the economy.  I know things are tough, but if I choose to focus on that, then the negativity is going to drain my joy.  I can choose who I listen to and who I do not listen to - in person, on television, on the radio.  People may say I live in a bubble, but at least I'm happy there.

Here’s a verse I just found the other day – Psalm 68:19 Blessed be the Lord, Who daily loads us with benefits, the God of our salvation!  How can we not be happy when we remember that daily, God is loading us with benefits?  God tells us that His yoke is easy, His burden is light - He is loading us daily with benefits and that makes me happy.  I hope it does you too.


Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Forgiveness - the really hard one

Moments will occur in our lives when we struggle with forgiveness, whether it is forgiving someone who has wronged us or allowing us to forgive ourselves for things we've done in our past.

Matthew 6:14, 15 "For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.  But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.

That is a scary verse - if I hold a grudge, and am unwilling to forgive someone for years or for one day ... God is unwilling to forgive me as well.

I read one time that when we are forgiven, God forgets it.  In Philippians 3:13, Paul said "but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead."  We have so much to look forward to, and to press onward towards ... it would be (dare I say silly?) unwise to let forgiveness towards others trip us up.

When someone hurts us, the sting will still be there, but when we are practicing golden rule Christianity, forgiving will for the most part be quick and easy.  Remember that we are to treat others, as you want them to treat you.  (Matthew 7:12)  We may be more cautious in the future, but we will be willing to offer the forgiveness and show effort to be more Christ-like. 

Friday, September 16, 2011

Longsuffering, and the Golden Rule

I cannot think of any other Biblical character with as much longsuffering as Job.  Job lost his health, his wealth, his family but still maintained his faith in God and did so in a admirable way.

Job 27:3-6 As long as my breath is in me, and the breath of God in my nostrils, my lips will not speak wickedness, nor my tongue utter deceit.  Far be it from me that I should say you are right; till I die I will not put away my integrity from me.  My righteousness I hold fast, and will not let it go; my heart shall not reproach me as long as I live. 

Longsuffering is love on trial. It enables you to forbear and forgive others.   I don’t mean to become a doormat, but there are times in all of our lives when our friendships and other relationships, even our marriages are on trial and we must be longsuffering.  It’s being patient, mild, gentle and constant in all circumstances.  Being longsuffering is not just being patient in waiting, but how we act while we are waiting.

I do not like to wait – I don’t like to wait on people, or in doctor’s offices, but I know that as a Christian I need to be careful in how I behave while I am waiting.  You can be assertive if needed, but remember to do so in a Christ-like manner.

James 1:4 But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing. 

Monday, September 12, 2011

Being truthful with integrity shows the golden rule!

Just a short note today ... thinking more about showing others the golden rule in our lives.  Treating others as we would like to be treated. 

In Acts 5 we read the account of Ananias & Sapphira.  This couple was being generous, but not truthful and they paid for it with their lives.

Col. 3:9 Do not lie to one another, since you have put off the old man with his deeds.

Being truthful is a direct reflection of your inner character, your integrity.  I like to say that integrity is who you are when no one is watching.  My words and my deeds match up.  My actions are a direct reflection of my faith.  When we are faithful and honest, it shows. 

We are going to treat others fairly and honestly, we will give our word and keep it. 

This includes when talking to our husbands!  How often do we gloss over the truth in regards to our bank accounts, how much that new dress cost, or what we spent on the children while out shopping? 

Titus 2:7 In all things showing yourself to be a pattern of good works in doctrine showing integrity. 

Take a minute and think about if you're being truthful, and what it says about not only your integrity, but also about you. 

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Being Affectionate - showing that golden rule living through brotherly love

Romans 12:10 Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another.

Well, this one is a hard one, isn’t it?  We need to be affectionate with others and give preference to others as well!  Being affectionate doesn’t just mean being a huggy person, although I am one to never turn down a hug!  However, it’s being free with the expression of your love of others – it’s a tender love as the love of a parent to a child, not forced.  It’s common courtesy, a loving smile, a touch on the shoulder.  What is sweeter on this side of heaven than to love and to be loved? 

In order to understand the kind of love Jesus had for us and the kind of love we should have for other people, we need to look closely at John 21:14-17.  Jesus asked Peter 3 times if he loved Him.  The first two times Jesus was actually asking Peter if he “agape” loved him.  By using the word “agape”, Jesus was literally asking Peter if he would sacrifice or die for him.  The first two times, however, Peter answers that he “phileo” loved Christ.  Using this word “phileo” Peter was telling Jesus that he loved him like a brother.  Whether Peter does not understand what Christ is asking of him when Christ uses the word for agape love, or whether Peter is not willing to go so far as to say he will die for Christ, we do not know.  We do know that the third time, Jesus asks Peter if he loves him like a brother using the word phileo and Peter affirms that he does. 

Agape love is love that requires willful sacrifice.  In the New Testament, agape love is more in motion than emotion.  It says “I will do what is best for you, even if it costs me something.”  It means sharing your home, your time, your talents, and your money with others even though it may mean more work for you.

There is a popular song that has this line -

And they'll know we are Christians by our love, by our love they will know we are Christians by our love

This song is a challenge to Christians to really live with love towards each other and to share our love with others.  

Can the world really see Christ living in us as we walk past our sisters and don’t speak to them?  Or hold grudges for years over petty differences? 

I'll toss in a comment or two about modesty.  If we truly have agape love towards our brethren, we will be more aware of our clothing choices, and our behaviors.  I want to write more on this in the future ...  but this is just a nugget to think about.

We could talk quite a bit here about being hospitable as well.  I wrote an article a few years ago about hospitality, the lack of it in the church, the need for it in the church and some simple ways to be hospitable.  This is an area in which I love, and so much desire for us to invest more time in.  Ladies, we need to be hospitable, we need to train our children in hospitality and those of us who are older, need to train those who are younger.  (~more on this in the future~)

 Without Christians in the world to show Christ's love, a big part of that through hospitality, how are we ever going to turn people to Christ? Also, how do we get along with other Christians when we lack that hospitality in our lives?  Our hospitality as Christians should come from deep within us because of our love for Christ. Hospitality is a wonderful gift to others. We don't need a grand palace, or a dream home—few of us have those. To make others feel truly welcome, we only need an open heart.

 Consider this poem based on I Corinthians 13:

Love is patient, love is kind
Never boasts, not full of pride
Always hopes, always trusts
the evidence of Christ in us

Be affectionate and loving.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Being Tenderhearted ... ways to live the golden rule!

Ephesians 4:32 and be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you. 
2 Corinthians 1:3 & 4 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. 

This verse in 2 Corinthians means a lot to me.  In our lives, we have all experienced different trials and God has comforted us.  Because we have been through those tribulations, we are able to better comfort someone else who is going through a similar circumstance.  I know what it’s like to be a preacher’s kid.  It wasn’t always easy!  I am always willing to love on and empathize with preacher’s children and treat them the way I wish that I had been treated.  My husband has lost a parent, and when someone has lost a parent, especially someone young, he can offer such empathy and comfort to them that I can’t.  A good friend lost her first baby just a few weeks before he was to be born.  God has blessed her with 6 children, but yet she can offer such love and support to those who have lost a child.  That comfort came from God; He gave it to us and expects us to share it with others.  Remember we are not a storage system, but an irrigation system!

SO LONG as you can sweeten another's pain, life is not in vain," wrote Helen Keller.

How can we show empathy? 

Listen. By listening carefully we learn what problems others face. And the better we listen, the more likely they are to open up their hearts and reveal their feelings.
Observe. Not everyone will openly tell us how they feel or what they are going through. A keen observer, however, will notice when a fellow Christian seems depressed, when a teenager becomes withdrawn, or when a zealous minister loses his enthusiasm.
Use your imagination.  Sometimes we just need to think – how would I feel if I were in that situation, or what might I need if that was happening to me?

The story is told of a little girl getting off the school bus with her good friend.  Her mother saw her through the window as she was standing at the kitchen sink, and expected her daughter to come running up the walk in just a few minutes.  However, after several minutes her child did not come up the walkway and the mother began to worry.  As she was going out the front door, her small daughter came running up the walkway.
What took you so long, Emma?  Her mother asked, I was beginning to worry about you.
Well, said the daughter, Samantha was having a problem and I really had to help her with it.
How did you help her? Her mother asked.
I just sat down and helped her cry, said the precious little girl.
Have you ever just sat down and helped someone cry? 

Be tenderhearted. 

Friday, September 2, 2011

Being Kind - sounds simple!

Being kind seems like such a simple thing.  It is really, and is such a key to Golden Rule Living.  However, do we always practice kindness? 

Kindness comes first from God – Ps. 33:5 – God loves righteousness and justice; the earth is full of the goodness of the Lord; Psalm 119:64 The earth, O Lord, is full of Your mercy.  God daily gives us kindness!  We need to share them with others!

Remember the story of Joseph?  His brothers put him in a pit, told his father he was dead and sold him into Egypt.  However, when the years had passed and they came to him for food, Joseph treated brothers kindly even after what they had done!  Would we do the same?

Kind hearts are the gardens,

Kind thoughts are the roots,

Kind words are the blossoms,

Kind deeds are the fruits.

We are hopefully showing kindness to everyone throughout our lives: co-workers, neighbors, teachers, sales clerks, waitresses, and other Christians.  There are times where we must be firm, but it can be done with loving-kindness.  We can speak softly, touch gently, smile, look at someone, write a note, make a phone call; share a cookie – all ways to be kind. 

If Jesus came to my house for a day would I talk to Him the same way I talk to my husband?  Or would I treat Him with more kindness?

The story is told of a woman who was having trouble getting her family to church services on time.  By the time everyone had found their shoes, belts, had their hair combed and was loaded into the car for the drive to the building, everyone was fussing and being angry at each other.  One week, the mother decided she would just show the family how they were acting and she would secretly tape record them on their Sunday routines. 

When Sunday arrived, the mother secretly placed the tape recorder where no one could find it and went about their morning.  Later in the day she decided to play it back.  What she heard was a little shocking– "let me help you find your shoes Johnny", "Mary may I help you comb your hair?"  "Honey, can I pour you a second cup of coffee?" 

You see, only the mother knew about the tape recorder, and only the mother changed her words and was kind!  What an effect it had on the members of her family.

We must remember to be kind, treating others as we would wish to be treated.  I need to remember this too.