Can I Trust? Can I Be Kind? (#BestOf)

(the Best of) A Year of Being Kind, Friday, June 23, 2017

Trust: a challenging concept, to be sure. This post talks about trust, from the point of humans and from God’s point of view, too. “Trust in the Lord with all your heart.” I think it’s good to take a deep look at trust (and trust issues, too).

Can I Trust? Can I Be Kind? (#BestOf)

Posted on June 26, 2014 by chaplaineliza

TRUST

A Year of Being Kind blog – Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Can I Trust? Can I Be Kind?

Today was the last Wednesday bible study for the spring. I finished the series on the post-Resurrection appearances of Christ last week, so I needed an additional study for this last day. I decided to have the group take a quick look at one of my favorite passages. Proverbs 3:5-6. The verses that begin “Trust in the Lord with all your heart.” I broke these two verses down into four parts. We had great discussion, as a result! And the verses sparked some excellent back-and-forth conversation, too.

Our discussion of the morning caused me to think more deeply about the word “trust.” A caution: this post is not one of my usual lighthearted posts. I’m going to speak about a serious, even hurtful, idea.

It is hard to trust sometimes. This lack of trust, and at times a clear distrust, can come from any one of a number of sources. Circumstances in life might affect individuals. Problems with the family or loved ones can affect trust. Bad treatment from friends, classmates, or people in authority can also be a factor. And then there are special situations, such as severe trauma, various kinds of abuse, mental health issues, repeated extreme grief, and others.

Any one of these situations can cause lack of trust. Certainly, we can trace back difficulties with people to our trust issues.

But—what about trust issues with God?

I know people do have problems with God. Especially when they are completely puzzled with God’s seeming lack of response to prayer. Or God’s seeming helplessness in the face of evil, the lack of morality in this world, and the despicable words and actions of both individuals and groups all over.

Sure, I could go into the theological reasons why there is sin in the world. And I could go over several of the theories concerning theodicy (that is, reasons why God allows bad things to happen to good people, to paraphrase the name of Rabbi Kushner’s book). But, I won’t. I trust God. At least, I try to trust God, each and every day. God has never failed me yet. Sure, I have been disappointed many times in life. Sure, awful things have happened to me and to my loved ones. Yet, God will continue to be right by my side. Even when it’s dark and I can’t see. Even when I doubt whether God is even there. Because—that is the nature of God. The loving, caring, giving, encouraging, nurturing nature of God.

It is when I have trust within me, for God and for other people, that I find I can more easily be kind. If I’m suspicious of others, or anxious about employment or health issues, or worried about my extended family and their individual situations, I can’t be of service to God. Not very well, anyhow!

When I trust in God and in other people (wisely, understanding how much blind trust is too much), then I have the opportunity—the joy to be kind to others. Please, God, help me in this endeavor!

@chaplaineliza

Like what you read? Disagree? Share your thoughts with your loved ones and continue the conversation.

(Suggestion: visit me at my blog: matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers– where I am doing a meditation journey through Easter and beyond. #PursuePEACE. Pursuing Peace – Thanks!)

(also published at ayearofbeingkind.wordpress.com .   @chaplaineliza And read my sermons   from Pastor, Preacher Pray-er – Thanks!)


 

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Have Bible Study? Be Kind! (#BestOf)

(the Best of) A Year of Being Kind, Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Helping? Being of service? Why not with a bible study? This way is a natural for me. I love teaching, and I’ve been told I’m fairly good at leading groups. As I read over this post from last May, I thought, “How encouraging!” See if you agree.

A Year of Being Kind blog – Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Peace I leave with you Shalom

Have Bible Study? Be Kind!

Another Wednesday morning, another bible study. Sure enough, the good people who came together to study the Bible today were gathered for their regular, weekly meeting. And I was there to help, to facilitate, to lead the study. And, as a resource person, too. (I do happen to know a good deal about the Gospels, which were our study this morning.)

The appearances of Jesus after His resurrection. That’s been our topic of study for the weeks after Easter. Today, we were back in John chapter 20. All kinds of interesting things came up! However, as I was going down the regularly-scheduled bible study I had prepared, I had a sudden thought. And I asked a question—actually two questions. My first, what do the bible study members think were the disciples’ reactions when the saw the risen Christ? Well, a whole bunch of answers came up. Discussion was lively! I thought the interaction was great, too!

In fact, discussion was SO great that I asked a follow up question. “What would be our reaction if the risen Christ suddenly appeared in here, right now?” Sudden silence. I could almost hear everyone thinking!

I won’t mention anything further about the bible study group, but instead I’m going to concentrate on my reaction to the appearance of the resurrected Jesus. (And hopefully, your reaction, too.) I probably would be scared of the Romans, for a whole lot of reasons, too! (Just like the disciples.) I might think I was hallucinating, because of the complete oddity of the situation. And I might—just maybe—find myself filled with joy at the Risen Christ’s return.

I found myself considering (in my head, in my mind’s eye) what it would be like if our Lord Jesus came in to the choir room (where there’s a large table, and where church meetings are often held). How would it be for you, too? Would we be totally happy that Jesus was here, in the here and how? Or would we reserve a corner of our hearts for our own business, our own lives and affairs?

And what about our feelings, our emotions? What would they be like? If you met Jesus in your church basement or Sunday school class, would you be afraid? How about sadness—even with Jesus right there? Anyone know the feeling of guilt? Would you feel even more guilty if you came face to face with Jesus? And what about happy? Anyone with feelings of pure joy at the prospect of being in the same room with the risen Christ?

Jesus said to His disciples, “Peace be with you!” He says the same thing to us, too. God’s peace is right with us. All the time. We have the opportunity to access that peace, that serenity. That shalom. Wholeness, healthfulness. The disciples had that opportunity. We do, too! Isn’t that a wonderful prospect, that we can access God’s peace, any time?

That’s how I was kind today. I shared news of God’s peace and love. Thanks for the opportunity, God!

@chaplaineliza

Like what you read? Disagree? Share your thoughts with your loved ones and continue the conversation.

(Suggestion: visit me at my daily blog for 2015: matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers.   @chaplaineliza And read #40acts sermons from Pastor, Preacher Pray-er – Thanks!)

Trying to Be Kind to a Bird

A Year of Being Kind blog – Wednesday, October 29, 2014

sun reflected on water

Trying to Be Kind to a Bird

I am sad to say this does not end well. If you are at all soft-hearted, perhaps you don’t wish to read any further. Be warned. I am still very sad.

At about quarter to eleven, I went into the church for the midweek bible study. The church has two entrances: one near the classrooms, and the other near the sanctuary and church office. I usually enter near the church office. For some reason, I went into the other one—the one by the classrooms, and circled around past the preschool classrooms to the office.

I started the bible study a little before eleven. We had a good study—another one in the series on the names and titles of Jesus in the Gospels. A little after twelve, the bible study finished. Everyone started to leave. I went into the church office with several others, and a church member noticed that there was a bird outside, huddled on the sidewalk in front of the sanctuary-side glass doors. I came to look, too.

“Oh, my. It probably crashed into the glass doors.”

I was concerned. It looked like a sparrow. I bent down to look at it, being careful not to touch it. The weather was gusty and cool, and the sparrow was all huddled and fluffed up. I went to my laptop and quickly looked up bird sanctuaries in Chicago. That led me to Chicago bird collision monitors. I called the volunteer hotline.

“Hello. I’d like to report a bird that I think collided with the glass doors at my work.” The wonderful, kind volunteer told me where to bring the injured bird, and also said that it was quite possibly a migratory sparrow, coming through the area. I said I would bring the bird to the wildlife center. Accordingly, I followed her directions, washing my hands and getting a paper bag. By the time I returned to the doors by the sanctuary to collect the huddled bird, I was shocked to see a change. The bird was not fluffed up any longer. As I gently scooped it up into the bag, I noticed it was no longer breathing.

This was heartbreaking for me. If only. If only the weather were not cold and gusty. If only I had seen the hurt bird earlier. If only. If only.

With a heavy heart, I called the hotline again, and spoke with the same kindly woman. I told her what had happened. She thanked me for being concerned for the poor bird. And we hung up.

I know birds do collide with glass windows and doors during the yearly migration. I’ve read articles about it, but actually seeing a bird that collided with a door—that is truly heartbreaking. I know God knows about the flowers in the fields, and the leaves that fall from the trees. As Matthew 6 tells me, God knows about each sparrow that falls. Dear God, seeing the aftermath of this sparrow’s fall makes me heavyhearted. I know it’s a small thing, in the grand scheme of things, but I do feel badly for this poor bird. I tried to be kind, I really did. I hope this bird had some joy in its life, and I pray that it brought joy into the lives of others.

@chaplaineliza

Like what you read? Disagree? Share your thoughts with your loved ones and continue the conversation.

Of Service through Bible Study

A Year of Being Kind blog – Wednesday, October 22, 2014

flowers Isaiah 55-11

Of Service through Bible Study

Lots to do today! I had some email correspondence to go through this morning (at home), and then went to church to get ready for the bible study. A member of the board and I were talking, and before I knew it, it was after eleven. After the time bible study was to begin! So—the two of us dashed into the meeting room. I apologized up and down. But it seemed okay. Several people were practicing on special music for Sunday while they were waiting. I’m so glad I didn’t leave people just twiddling their thumbs!

I taught the next installment in the study. Good topic, although I felt the study wasn’t quite like the previous weeks. Somehow, not as insightful. However, I hope and pray that the church members who attended received a blessing from what we read today. I’ve always found it good to open the Bible and study more in depth, even when the questions were not as penetrating and thoughtful.

Contemplating on this makes me wonder: what does God think of us when we study the Bible? (Even when the questions don’t pack much of a punch . . .) I am leading the midweek study group through a series of studies on the titles and names of Jesus, found in the Gospels. Last week’s study was on Servant—we looked at Jesus in the Upper Room, and discussed Him washing His disciples’ feet. Excellent study, and wonderful discussion, too! But—not today. I tried to help the study along, but I wasn’t able to do as much.

I suspect God is pleased whenever believers gather to study the Bible. I know there are many places in the Scriptures where the study of the Word of God is praised and lifted up. I know many devout believers in God search the Scriptures regularly, and write commentaries and bible studies and other biblical and devotional literature. Moreover, they pray and meditate on God’s Word. And, I get to do this, too! I love to lead people in study. I relish teaching others about the Bible, letting them know more about the things I have studied diligently, over many years.

One verse does come to mind, regardless of whether I have an excellent study or not. As Isaiah 55:11 states, “so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and succeed in the thing for which I sent it.” Even so, God’s Word is living and active, not static. Readings from the Bible will always bear fruit. Regardless of whether the study has mediocre to poor questions, or whether the teacher is more or less dynamic. God has promised, and I believe in the truth of God’s promises.

So—I find I have the best team-teacher in the world—God. And, I can truly be of service when I teach about God: service to others, and service to God.

@chaplaineliza

Like what you read? Disagree? Share your thoughts with your loved ones and continue the conversation.

Compliments—How Kind! (Thank You!)

A Year of Being Kind blog – Wednesday, September 17, 2014

GRATEFUL always something to be grateful for

Compliments—How Kind! (Thank You!)

Today was Wednesday, as usual. I mean, usual midweek bible study. I enjoy teaching! I love the bible study group that gathers each week in the choir room at church. And, I am so glad I found the bible study on the names and titles of Jesus (an older study, published by NavPress).

I missed meeting for regular bible studies midweek, in July and August. Of course I understood why the group did not continue meeting over the really hot months of the summer. Certainly! But, there was something missing from my week. Some connection, some personal interaction. Sure, I continued to call people, and do hospital and home visitation, but it wasn’t the same. Not like getting together and sharing like we do on Wednesdays. (And Sundays, too! I don’t want to forget about the wonderful sermon discussion bible study after church service. Such great insights there, as well!)

But this post is specifically about what happened today.

As we went around the table to check in with people and see what was happening, we came to the next person. This lovely senior began to sincerely compliment me. I had served her family at a critical time recently, and she wanted to thank me and tell me how much she appreciated me. Publicly. I was so grateful—and surprised and pleased, too. I told her of my gratitude and expressed my thanks to her.

Several more people had their turns, then. We heard several more prayer requests, had a few more laughs, and—came to another earnest senior. This lady also praised me—for my teaching and group facilitation, this time. (I know I enjoy teaching, but—wow!) She sincerely complimented me, thanked me, and expressed her appreciation for my clarity in communication. (Again—wow!)

You could have knocked me over with a feather. Of course, I thanked her and accepted the compliment, too. I was—and still am—so moved by both of their grateful expressions. So wonderful! I am still hugging these very kind words to my heart, believe me. Such good words of approval encourage me and build me up, you can count on that.

Long ago, I remember reading in an article (I believe it was in Psychology Today) that compliments create positive energy. I am used to giving compliments. In fact, I love to see the good aspects of people, and mention that to them. I am less used to receiving compliments.

I sincerely hope I was gracious in receiving the kind, generous compliments today! Sure, they created positive, loving energy, all around the table. Such a wonderful gift for the whole bible study today, too. God willing, I hope this good feeling and positive energy lasts for a good long time. (Thank You again, God!)

@chaplaineliza

Like what you read? Disagree? Share your thoughts with your loved ones and continue the conversation.

Can I Trust? Can I Be Kind?

A Year of Being Kind blog – Wednesday, June 25, 2014

a faithful God

Can I Trust? Can I Be Kind?

Today was the last Wednesday bible study for the spring. I finished the series on the post-Resurrection appearances of Christ last week, so I needed an additional study for this last day. I decided to have the group take a quick look at one of my favorite passages. Proverbs 3:5-6. The verses that begin “Trust in the Lord with all your heart.” I broke these two verses down into four parts. We had great discussion, as a result! And the verses sparked some excellent back-and-forth conversation, too.

Our discussion of the morning caused me to think more deeply about the word “trust.” A caution: this post is not one of my usual lighthearted posts. I’m going to speak about a serious, even hurtful, idea.

It is hard to trust sometimes. This lack of trust, and at times a clear distrust, can come from any one of a number of sources. Circumstances in life might affect individuals. Problems with the family or loved ones can affect trust. Bad treatment from friends, classmates, or people in authority can also be a factor. And then there are special situations, such as severe trauma, various kinds of abuse, mental health issues, repeated extreme grief, and others.

Any one of these situations can cause lack of trust. Certainly, we can trace back difficulties with people to our trust issues.

But—what about trust issues with God?

I know people do have problems with God. Especially when they are completely puzzled with God’s seeming lack of response to prayer. Or God’s seeming helplessness in the face of evil, the lack of morality in this world, and the despicable words and actions of both individuals and groups all over.

Sure, I could go into the theological reasons why there is sin in the world. And I could go over several of the theories concerning theodicy (that is, reasons why God allows bad things to happen to good people, to paraphrase the name of Rabbi Kushner’s book). But, I won’t. I trust God. At least, I try to trust God, each and every day. God has never failed me yet. Sure, I have been disappointed many times in life. Sure, awful things have happened to me and to my loved ones. Yet, God will continue to be right by my side. Even when it’s dark and I can’t see. Even when I doubt whether God is even there. Because—that is the nature of God. The loving, caring, giving, encouraging, nurturing nature of God.

It is when I have trust within me, for God and for other people, that I find I can more easily be kind. If I’m suspicious of others, or anxious about employment or health issues, or worried about my extended family and their individual situations, I can’t be of service to God. Not very well, anyhow!

When I trust in God and in other people (wisely, understanding how much blind trust is too much), then I have the opportunity—the joy to be kind to others. Please, God, help me in this endeavor!

@chaplaineliza

Like what you read? Disagree? Share your thoughts with your loved ones and continue the conversation.

 

What About When I Have a Cold? What Then?

A Year of Being Kind blog – Wednesday, June 4, 2014

prayer peace of God

What About When I Have a Cold? What Then?

For those who might be following this blog, you might know what I’m going to say already. I wrote a post about my son last weekend. He called me from work and asked to come home a little early. He said he wasn’t feeling well, and I could tell! A deep, chesty cough rattled the telephone, that’s what he had. As I brought him home, I could also see his poor eyes, starting to get red and a little watery. He certainly looked sick, for sure.

When I got him home, he had the beginnings of a cold. It turned out to be a moderate one, but I did worry about his cough for a couple of days. (I know, I know. Worrying goes with the territory. I’m a mom.) So, I didn’t exactly baby him, but I did a bit of fetching and carrying for him. By his report, he was a little lightheaded. I know what that’s like! I am not often lightheaded, but it is not pleasant. No way!

Little did I know that I would catch his cold. Yesterday morning, I felt the beginnings of a scratchiness in my throat. Then, by afternoon I started to feel post nasal drip. Oh, no! Not a cold! I knew something was coming on by dinner time. Yup. Achy muscles, and a slight headache, on top of my general yuckiness.

So, today I was scheduled to lead a bible study. Yes, I did facilitate the study, but I gave everyone lots of warning! Stay away, because I certainly do not want to share this cold with anyone! I think the study went well. I hope it went well! I had great material to work with—we took a look at John 21, verses 1 through 14. Breakfast on the shore, and the miraculous catch of fish.

But it is prayer time in the study today that is sticking with me. Several significant prayer requests, and one that surprised me! I was not expecting it at all. I prayed for these requests already, and I am sure I will pray some more as the week continues. Prayer is an opportunity to share encouragement and comfort with others. I felt that as I gathered prayer requests (and praises!), and then we all prayed. Earnestly. With heartfelt cries to God.

Even though I was not one hundred percent today, I was still able to pray and to lead in prayer. God, thank You for the comfort, encouragement and blessing of prayer. Not only on a vertical plane, between You and me, but also on the horizontal. From me to another person, on this level. Help me continue to be willing to pray and lift people up. Lift up their requests and praises, too! Thanks, again.

@chaplaineliza

Like what you read? Disagree? Share your thoughts with your loved ones and continue the conversation.