Thursday, May 25, 2017

Net Worth and the Breeding Patterns of the Common Hug

The signs were nothing but rectangles of white-painted plywood adorned with bright red words proclaiming, “abrazos gratis” (“free hugs”), along with flowers, hearts, and other cheerful splotches of eye-catching color. We drove to our rendezvous point at a nearby university campus to meet up with the rest of our crew, and then struck out around downtown Guadalajara, Mexico, to search for strangers upon whom to shower random acts of kindness.
Signs held high, we fanned out, an advancing army of affection. “Would you like a free hug?” was our battle cry.
Our first real challenge was at the rolling concrete waves of a skateboarder hangout. Sweaty youths were taking turns trying to impress their peers with various amateur stunts, to the tune of cheers and jeers from their grungy audience. There is a sort of fearlessness that comes with free-hugging, so we swarmed into their midst and conquered. With every hug also came a free tract, and if they stopped for long enough, a prayer.
Next, we flocked to the park across the street, another teen hotbed, with all the favorite youth demographics present and accounted for. A group of Goth girls shyly motioned us over and we invaded their auras of black shades with our pastels and neons, spreading smiles all around.
We sang a few simple songs to small groups of people, music with a message of love and appreciation. The last chorus was of course always punctuated with our trademark embraces.
As we crisscrossed the center of town, a man in a restaurant paused in his meal as the waitresses and hostesses rushed by him to receive their hug helpings, along with seconds, thirds, and refills. He called us in and quizzed us about why we were doing such a thing. We were simply aware of the importance of showing love and kindness, we told him, and in a world starving for love, a little more of that couldn’t hurt.
And our agenda?—Jesus loves people. We wanted to make sure they knew it.
Galatians 5:22-23 ESV / But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.
John 15:16 ESV / You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you.
1 Peter 3:15 ESV / But in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect,

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Boomerang

When I was a little girl, I went to my first circus. There, before my awestruck eyes, were three rings in full action—performing animals in one, and acrobats leaping and flying through the air in another. What interested me most, though, was taking place in the third ring. A girl and a boy were flinging brightly colored missiles, which, after they had crossed the ring, turned and returned to the very hands that had flung them. No matter which direction they were thrown, the things curved and came back swiftly to the young performers, who would catch and fling them again.
I watched in amazement. “They are boomerangs,” someone beside me said. It was the first time I had heard the word, and I tucked it away in my young mind.
I’ve heard the word many times since, of course, and I’ve also seen the principle behind it play out in life. In fact, life itself is a boomerang. God’s Word says, “A man reaps what he sows.” Every word or action we fling out comes back some day. Whether good or bad, it will return to us, and it often gains momentum as it does.
One morning I visited two women in the same hospital. One room was filled with flowers and cards and all sorts of gifts from friends and acquaintances, thoughtful gestures of love, concern, and sympathy. That was a reflection of her life, for she had sown love and thoughtfulness throughout the years, and now it was all coming back to her in her hour of need.
In a room down the hall, another woman lay alone. Still as self-absorbed, suspicious, and critical as she had always been, she lay with her face turned to the wall—a wall as hard and cold and bare as the ones she had built around herself all her life.
What a difference there was in those two rooms! The boomerang had come back to both women, but in very different ways.
“If you give to others, you will be given a full amount in return. It will be packed down, shaken together, and spilling over into your lap. The way you treat others is the way you will be treated.” Anyone who lives unselfishly, caring for and lifting the burdens of others, easing their pain, and helping to supply their needs, will see that boomerang come back in the form of blessings some day!
Galatians 6:7 ESV / Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap.
Luke 6:38 ESV / give, and it will be given to you. Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For with the measure you use it will be measured back to you.”
Galatians 1:10 ESV / For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Pausing to Care

I don’t know how she did it, but the cashier’s eyes peered right into mine. I’d been discovered. I had tried to avoid eye contact as I was finishing the grocery shopping. More embarrassing than being seen in public coping with a rare meltdown would be someone discovering the “nothing to cry about” interaction that had triggered it.
I was holding it together—as long as I didn’t have to talk. My husband tried to phone me, but I couldn’t respond. It would have been messy (and noisy) if I attempted to communicate anything at all.
Then it was my turn at the checkout. I knew from past experience that in this store the cashiers work like automatons, processing items in a jiffy. That was fine by me. I was ready for the speedy processing and looked forward to getting out of there as soon as possible—before I let it all out.
Then she had to ask me, “How’s it going?” And it wasn’t a casual don’t-care-what-you-say greeting. She actually wanted an answer.
“It’s nothing, nothing…” I tried to say, wanting to just get on with it. But for the first time ever—I mean ever, in that store—the kind woman cashier wouldn’t touch a single item of my shopping waiting to be scanned until I told her what that problem was.
Yes, there were people in line waiting, and her skill at her job was no doubt being monitored. But I was made to feel more important than everything else. I was shocked. Somehow it cushioned the embarrassment I would have felt blubbering about it.
If I could have said something like, “I found out I have breast cancer” or “My best friend died,” I would have felt justified in raking in as much sympathy as possible. But I knew that sharing what had actually happened just wouldn’t have the same pathos. Yet I got the impression that this woman who cared enough to sincerely ask how I was doing was going to treat me with compassion, no matter what in the world I was sniveling about—just because I was important to her.
Seeing I wasn’t going to get out of it, I responded briefly, “I kept someone waiting in line at another store, and she made a big deal of it!”
My day had started at 3 am, when my baby woke and couldn’t fall back asleep, and the tiredness and stress had coalesced at the wrong time and place!
First, it turned out that I shouldn’t have been in the express line, because I had miscalculated the number of items in my basket and ended up with several more than the limit. Then when it was time to pay, I went blank and couldn’t remember my PIN number! The next lady in line wouldn’t let up and began verbally harassing me. Meanwhile, the cashier continued her patient reminders that, “You just need to enter your PIN, Ma’am.”
I found out that there is something more stressful than being late and having a customer in front of you hold up the line—that is being that customer! I finally stepped aside for a moment to pray, and thankfully, the number came back to me. After apologizing to the lady behind me—whose response was cold and unforgiving—I quietly left, tearing up.
The contrast between what happened in that checkout lane and in the second shop was stark. After I had experienced being misunderstood, unforgiven, pressured, put under stress, treated as though I was the root of the world’s problems, this woman made me feel important and cared for, worth more than time or money. The kind lady even ran off to get me a handful of tissues. All embarrassment was covered in a warm blanket of care.
The world doesn’t usually pause because I have a tear to shed, and it felt good when it did! I was reminded how important love is, and how painful and hurtful it can be when we are so focused on what we have to do that we neglect to make those around us feel important.
During my second year of nursing school our professor gave us a quiz. I breezed through the questions until I read the last one: “What is the first name of the woman who cleans the school?” Surely this was a joke. I had seen the cleaning woman several times, but how would I know her name? I handed in my paper, leaving the last question blank.
Before the class ended, one student asked if the last question would count toward our grade. “Absolutely,” the professor said. “In your careers, you will meet many people. All are significant. They deserve your attention and care, even if all you do is smile and say hello.” I’ve never forgotten that lesson. I also learned our cleaner’s name was Dorothy. —Joann C. Jones
Ephesians 4:32 ESV / Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.
Mark 6:34 ESV / When he went ashore he saw a great crowd, and he had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd. And he began to teach them many things.
Genesis 6:6 ESV / And the Lord was sorry that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him to his heart.

Monday, May 22, 2017

The Gift of Listening

I had just moved to a new country with my husband and family. That meant new schools for the children and a new job for my husband. It was a difficult time of adjustment for all of us, but I was especially feeling the strain. My marriage was feeling it, too. There was a growing list of subjects that my husband and I stopped talking about, because we knew they would lead to arguments.
But then I got to know Toni.
Toni was my next-door neighbor. She had a family of small children, and her husband only worked sporadically. She was the glue holding their family together. And that was a full-time job.
Somehow, though, she always had time for me. Whenever things got to be too much at home, I knew I could always go to Toni.
I would knock on her door, and she would usher me in with a welcoming smile. She would stop whatever she was in the middle of doing and sit down with me, letting me pour out all my troubles and woes. Then she’d do the best thing a friend can. Simply but with all her heart, she would pray for everything I’d just burdened her with and commit it all into God’s hands.
That’s how I learned the secret of how Toni could always stay so calm, and where she found the patience to always hear me out. Instead of trying to carry the weight of my troubles along with her own, Toni had learned how to cast her cares on the Lord and let Him sustain her.
The Lord and His Word were a very real part of her life. They were what helped her through the difficult times, as well as what gave her the capacity to reach out to others in their need, like me.
Since then, Toni and I have parted ways. Our children have grown up, and my husband and I have since reconnected. But I’ll never forget her kindness in always having time for me. Looking back, I can see that she was instrumental in helping me make the right decisions at a turning point in my life. I was like the man left by the wayside, emotionally beaten up and robbed, and Toni was like the Good Samaritan who rescued me.
1 John 5:19 ESV / We know that we are from God, and the whole world lies in the power of the evil one.
1 John 4:18 ESV / There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love.
1 John 4:4 ESV / Little children, you are from God and have overcome them, for he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Announcements

Helping Hand Project
Date: May-June 2017
Details: Kindly take note that this year projects will be Walkathon and Recycle Programme.

Flag Day Street Collection
Date: 1-30th June 2017
Details: Volunteer needed. Please contact Capt. Fiona.

Penang Open Day
Date: 30th Sept 2017
Details: To be announce later.

Please intercede for the above events.

Kindness—the Irresistible Fruit

Kindness is love in action, love translated into simple everyday terms. It’s being considerate of others. It’s living the Golden Rule: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” It’s turning a blind eye to the flubs and foibles of others. It’s being as tenderhearted and forgiving toward others as God is with you.
Kindness generates goodwill. Your kind words and kind deeds tell others that their happiness and well-being are important to you, and that makes them want to respond in like manner. Kindness is one of the hardest things to give away, because it’s nearly always returned. Kindness costs nothing, but can accomplish so much. A kind smile or a kind word can make all the difference in the world to someone who’s having a hard day. A little bit of love goes such a long way!
Kindness is a language that everyone understands. As Christians, we are ambassadors of God’s love to others; the kindness we show conveys God’s love and care, and helps draw and win them to Him.
The North Wind and the Sun —From Aesop’s Fables
The sun and the wind once had a conversation, in which the boisterous and argumentative wind contended that he was the stronger of the two.
“I’ll prove it!” said the wind. “Do you see the old man down there? I bet I can get his coat off him quicker than you can!”
So the sun sighed and hid behind a cloud, and the wind blew and blew until it was almost a tornado. But the harder it blew, the tighter the old man clutched his coat to him. Finally the wind gave up and calmed down.
Then the sun came out from behind the cloud and smiled kindly on the old man. After only a short while the man mopped his brow and pulled off his coat.
The sun had shown the wind that warmth and kindness were stronger than fury and force.
A Smile
It needs so little sympathy
To cheer a weary way,
Sometimes a little kindness
Lights up a dreary day;
A very simple, friendly word
May hope and strength impart,
Or just an understanding smile
Revive some fainting heart;
And, like a sudden sunlit ray,
Lighting a darkened room,
A sunny spirit may beguile
The deepest depths of gloom.
—Author unknown
Matthew 7:12 ESV / “So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.
Ephesians 4:32 ESV / Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.
Romans 15:13 ESV / May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Be a Giver of Kindness

On a flight I took some months ago, there was a little girl sitting in the catty-cornered seat from me. She had a beautiful new coloring book that her mother had obviously brought especially for the flight. Occupying the same row was another girl about the same age whose father was seated behind her. This girl had no coloring book, and in fact, didn’t seem to have anything to occupy her.
The girl with the coloring book was soon busily coloring with her crayons spread out on the tray table, and the other girl was looking longingly at them. I felt bad for the girl who had none, so I prayed that the first child would feel moved to tear out a page from her nice coloring book and share it. Sure enough, after a while I saw that she had indeed torn a page out and had given it to her seatmate and was sharing her crayons with her.
I leaned forward across the aisle and told the girl that sharing her coloring book was such a nice thing to do. She brightened up and was obviously pleased that someone had noticed. I don’t know how far that little exchange will go, but I would like to think that the next time she has to make a choice whether to share something or not, she will be reminded of the woman who was proud of her because she made the right decision.
Everyone craves encouragement. I believe that God wants to encourage people, but a lot of times He needs us to do it. If you feel like you have no time, no energy, no expertise, no money, or too little, to give, don’t worry; that’s common to many of us. But we can all give through our words of encouragement, and we can spread God’s love wherever we go. In just a few minutes, we can make a difference at a bus stop, on the metro, crossing the street, at the shop, at work, at school, online, on a walk, and the list goes on. Our words don’t need to be profound or eloquent—just simple words that meet a person’s need for love, hope, significance, or comfort.
Here’s a question we can ask ourselves: What can I say to people that will help them in some way?—Lift their spirits, brighten their day, and make them feel good about themselves, appreciated, valued, worthwhile, and that what they’re doing counts?
Everyone appreciates knowing that they count, that they’re valuable, and that they’re doing something worthwhile. Perhaps our words of encouragement will just be one step in a person’s journey. Sometimes we might see the results of our encouragement; at other times, we will never get to see the results. But the important thing is that we are givers. Love never fails, so even if our words don’t result in someone getting the point right away, it doesn’t really matter. What does matter is that people feel loved, appreciated, and valued. It’s a privilege to be a giver of kindness.
Even brief encounters with people lend themselves to “a word fitly spoken,” something that will give people faith in themselves and faith that there are people in the world who are good and kind and concerned. This in turn may cause them to think about the Man of Love who inspires these qualities. If not, it may be a seed planted or watered that will be reaped at some future time.
Have you ever noticed how much of Christ’s life was spent in doing kind things—in merely doing kind things? Run over it with that in view, and you will find that He spent a great proportion of His time simply in making people happy, in doing good turns to people.
What God has put in our power is the happiness of those about us, and that is largely to be secured by our being kind to them.
“The greatest thing,” says someone, “a man can do for his Heavenly Father is to be kind to some of His other children.” I wonder why it is that we are not all kinder than we are? How much the world needs it! How easily it is done! How instantaneously it acts! How infallibly it is remembered! How superabundantly it pays itself back—for there is no debtor in the world so honorable, so superbly honorable, as Love.
—Henry Drummond (1851–1897)
Proverbs 30:5 ESV / Every word of God proves true; he is a shield to those who take refuge in him.
Psalm 28:7 ESV / The Lord is my strength and my shield; in him my heart trusts, and I am helped; my heart exults, and with my song I give thanks to him.
Psalm 34:4 ESV / I sought the Lord, and he answered me and delivered me from all my fears.

Friday, May 19, 2017

My Moment of Glory

During the spring of my junior year in high school, some girls suggested we practice for the junior-senior basketball game, and I thought it might be fun, so I tagged along. I did poorly in practice, more focused on my friends than on the game; but despite getting on the nerves of some of the more competitive players, I decided that I would go through with what was going to be my one and only basketball game.
Throughout the match, the seniors consistently held the lead, while my teammates were struggling. I had passed the ball a couple of times like a hot potato, happy to get it out of my hands as quickly as possible. Until…
We were two points behind with seconds left in the game when one of my friends managed to intercept the ball. She tossed it as far as she could, and I realized with dismay that it was coming straight at me. I caught it easily, but now what? None of my teammates were near the basket.
I must have appeared frozen in time, uncertain of what to do, when I saw the face of Stan, one of the athletic boys in my class, sitting in the front row in the crowd. He called out, “Just shoot the ball! You can do it!”
I remember looking at the basket from my place at half court, taking aim, and shooting with all my might. What happened next is somewhat hazy. Somehow the ball miraculously swooshed into the basket at the last second, and we won the game!
As everyone crowded around me during my moment of glory, my eyes searched the crowd for Stan. He finally came up to congratulate me, and I said, “Thanks, Stan, for showing confidence in me when I needed it. You were the one who thought I could do it, and I did.”
We all need someone who spurs us on when the faces in the crowd are a blur, when the voices seem unintelligible, and our steps falter—someone like Stan to tell us to go for it when we are hesitant and unsure, to boost our confidence to try the impossible, to say “I know you can do it!” Though we might get a pat on the back in our moment of glory, we know deep down that they are the ones who really deserve the credit.
Joshua 1:9 ESV / Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”
2 Timothy 1:7 ESV / For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.
Psalm 37:4 ESV / Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.