Of Service? Compliment-ary Service!

A Year of Being Kind blog – Thursday, October 16, 2014

Holy Spirit, descending dove

Of Service? Compliment-ary Service!

Spiritual gifts. All believers in God are supposed to have at least one. I have several. At least, several have been identified in me, by spiritual elders and people of faith I respect a great deal. Spiritual gifts shown in my actions, speech, and thought-life, anyway.

I know I’ve mentioned before how I have the gifts of encouragement and helping. Upon reflection at the end of the day, I realized I used encouragement several times during the day. Without even giving it a second thought. I gave compliments to several people. Sincere compliments, not just slathering it on. I really try my hardest to be real, sincere, and genuine, as much as possible. And, I appreciate it when people are the same way with me.

The small children who attend the preschool at my church are so refreshing. They could not be dishonest or disingenuous for the world. Small children have such sincerity and honesty, and say exactly what they think and mean. As I read to them this past Tuesday, I spoke in an encouraging manner. I read two books with superb illustrations to them, and several of the children got quite involved in the stories. They started to interact with me as I read, and I dealt with each comment (actually, interruption) in a kind, encouraging way. I didn’t want to halt the reading, since there were a group of children listening to the stories. But that didn’t stop me from being kind and sincere—briefly.

Sadly, with adults, it doesn’t work quite the same way. A few others may be insincere or wear false faces around me. They may even try to pull the wool over my eyes. True, I try to think the best of most people; that is one of my blind spots. Just because I strive to be rigorously honest doesn’t mean that everyone else acts (or thinks) in the same way. But, I still attempt to act as if that were the case. Just so, I often try to treat others as if they are acting and speaking (and thinking) in good faith. Sometimes I get burned. But, usually not. That won’t stop me from acting in this way, and treating others as if they all behave in a similar, genuine manner.

So, yeah. I gave several individuals sincere, honest compliments today. I know that I did the helpful, loving thing. Another day being kind, in A Year of Being Kind. I know that God was pleased, too.


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Diplomat for God (Feature Friday!)

A Year of Being Kind blog – Friday, May 23, 2014

Mahmoud Pasha Mosque, Cairo  (photo credit Matt Lepkowski-2005)

Mahmoud Pasha Mosque, Cairo
(photo credit Matt Lepkowski-2005)


Diplomat for God (Feature Friday!)

My friend Dan? Great guy! My friend Dan? Generous, kind, ready to be of service. My friend Dan? Always ready to lend a hand or lend an ear.

And—my friend Dan? Associate Director of Presbyterian Frontier Fellowship for the Midwest United States. Pretty long title for a heckuva guy. He fills the shoes of that big title, to be sure. He started out studying to be in the diplomatic service in school. He was fascinated by this subject, for years. (Even as a child, he remembers.) But his life took a different turn, and he started his career in the business world. Until—God brought Dan to a realization: “similar to the apostle Matthew, in that, hearing the Good News, I got up from my agricultural trading desk . . . and decided to follow Jesus wherever He may lead me. The ride has been incredible ever since.”

Doing cross-cultural work immediately upon going to Costa Rica, Dan fell in love with mission work. Long story short, he attended seminary, became ordained in the Presbyterian Church (USA), and started working as an associate pastor in the Chicago suburbs. With a focus on mission in his life and ministry, he helped people from this area experience cross-cultural missions.

After accepting a position with Presbyterian Frontier Fellowship in 1996, he has since been focused on helping connect people. Connecting people from the Midwest area of the United States with small groups of believers and newly-planted churches—in frontier areas, all around the world. These are small groups looking for a connection! And Dan is a marvelous connector. A diplomat for God. On behalf of the Gospel, he introduces fellow believers in Christ from halfway around the world to each other. For support, for friendship, for fellowship.

One area where Dan finds open doors is in making bridges. For a number of years, he has been leading trips to Egypt (supporting the Presbytery of Egypt). He has grown, too, in his support for Christian communities within the Arabic-speaking world. But through this work in the Middle East, he also has been drawn to building bridges to Islam and to Muslims in the Chicago area. Dan says, “In fact, I have recently started an Islam study group for the northern suburbs of Chicago. . . . I care deeply that the Muslim world gain access to the Good News of Jesus Christ through these kinds of dialogues and relationships.”

What a reconciling work, what an opportunity for service. Overcoming fears, anxieties, and separation in a number of areas. Building bridges. Being a diplomat for God. Yes, that’s my friend Dan!


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Helping Those in Need, Close to Home (Feature Friday!)

A Year of Being Kind blog – Friday, May 16, 2014

little lamb

Helping Those in Need, Close to Home (Feature Friday!)

Most people need a helping hand, every now and then. Some people need a helping hand more often—whether it’s because of poor health, or loss of a job, or sudden accident. It doesn’t matter why sometimes. Things happen. Just because. Or maybe it’s because of poor decisions. Or because of some one else’s mistakes. Like I said, things happen.

I’ve mentioned here about my new position, before. I am very happy to be serving this community of believers, and there are many things I have picked right up. (I’ve done some of them before, in other positions in the past.) And, several of these job skills are newer to me. I’ll need some practice, therefore, and the community is very encouraging to me.

One fascinating aspect about serving at a new church is that I am finding out about new outreaches and new missionaries. Each church and each group of believers has their own style of serving and outreach. This group here in this corner of the Chicago suburbs supports several missionaries, the local food pantry, and provides assistance for other, local people in need. The Good Shepherd Fund is a great outreach to those people who are temporarily down on their luck or otherwise in sudden need.

“It started with people coming to the door and asking for help,” said Lill, the Church Council president. “People started to come when the church was built. And people have been coming ever since. Sometimes a man, other times a woman, sometimes a couple. You never know when. And the Good Shepherd Fund is to be used at the pastor’s discretion.”

This community of believers is caring and giving. However, I know there are a whole lot of different ideas and ways of reaching out to people—each separate church, agency, or other place of worship has certain ways of doing things. So, I remembered an idea that had worked at another place. I brought it to several members on the Church Council recently. The idea met with a great deal of enthusiasm! With the Council’s blessing, I went to the local Subway sandwich shop and purchased some gift cards to distribute to those who might need a decent meal.

When I think of the Good Shepherd in John Chapter 10, I can’t help but be reminded of the One who provides for the sheep. Whether the sheep in the sheep pen, safely together with the others, or the lost sheep wandering far from familiar surroundings, the Shepherd goes after the sheep and provides for them. As the Good Shepherd’s representative, I pray that I might have the wisdom and understanding of how best to use this fund.

Now our community of believers has another way to reach out, another way to be of service. The Good Shepherd Fund can continue to be an opportunity to provide a helping hand.


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