Acts 10:1,2—There was a man in Caesarea named Cornelius, a centurion of what was called the Italian Regiment. He was a devout man and feared God along with his whole household. He did many charitable deeds for the Jewish people and always prayed to God.
It should not surprise us that Cornelius was God’s choice to first bring the gospel to the Gentiles. When we study his profile, it is inspiring and gives us a clear picture of what right looks like and thus why he was favored in God’s eyes. Cornelius was:
Two exhausted, firemen came into a diner around 6 a.m. after working tirelessly for 12 hours to put out a fire. Liz Woodward took their order and just happened to overhear the two firefighters discussing their tiresome battle. Later, when Tim and Paul went to pay for their breakfast, their bill contained this message:
Your breakfast is on me today—thank you for all that you do; for serving others and for running into the places everyone else runs away from. No matter your role, you are courageous, brave, and strong. Thank you for being bold and badass everyday. Fueled by fire and driven by courage. What an example you are. Get some rest.—Liz
Luke 13:8,9—He answered him, “Sir, leave it alone this year also, until I dig around it and fertilize it. And if it bears fruit, well. But if not, after that you shall cut it down.”
Jesus shared the parable of the barren fig tree to His listeners about a man who, frustrated with the fact that his fig three after three years was still not producing figs, told his vinedresser to cut it down. The vinedresser was more patient and felt like corrective steps were necessary before just killing the tree.
The word eristicis of Greek origin and refers to those who argue simply for the purpose of winning, regardless of the reason. The word animus comes to us from Latin and means strong dislike. We know this as animosity. While these two words share nothing in common, I believe that the former can lead to the latter causing the two to become intricately linked.
Zechariah 7:9—“The LORD of Hosts says this: Make fair decisions. Show faithful love and compassion to one another.”
It is cold outside—twelve degrees above zero. Snow is on the ground and from inside my office window it looks beautiful. It’s a matter of perspective. December can be a wonderful time of warmth for many people; a chance to be with family, to take a break from work and to enjoy each other’s company. But I could equally write that this month is a frozen, depressing period for many people; the reminder that loved ones are gone, unemployment a reality, and a feeling that few care or understand.
I want to share with you a moment burned into my mind as a poignant testimony to generosity. My daughter, Sarah and I, experienced this moment in the city of Cerro de Pasco, Peru, in 2002. In the course of ministering to a small church in this town located at the top of the Andean mountains, we met street children who were collecting trash or anything of value they could find on the streets, in order to garner a handful of coins.
Although home to one of the deepest silver mines in the world, Cerro de Pasco’s 70,000 inhabitants are mostly poor. One would think that any money a child could scrape would be zealously guarded and used for food or clothing. But these joyful children tithed from what they had in order to give to missionaries. It was a demonstration of the poorest giving to the poor to honor and expand God’s work. Someday I hope to learn how God blessed them!
Exodus 23:5—If you see the donkey of someone who hates you lying helpless under its load, and you want to refrain from helping it, you must help with it.
If I see that my enemy, Joe, is in trouble, my natural reaction is to think, “He is getting what he deserves for his poor behavior and attitude!” and to walk past him without providing assistance. Basically Joe’s misfortune is deserved because of past, poor behavior and I should not interfere with his karma.
You could hear them screaming at each other five offices away. Heads poked out to see what was going on—I was afraid words would escalate to blows, but fortunately that did not happen. Don looked like he was going to have a heart attack, his face was beet red and he was shaking. Rich’s jaw was clenched and his palms rolled into fists but with three of us coaxing we managed to get them separated and back into their own offices.
George really loves his three sons and he also really loves scouting. As a teenager he significantly grew through his scouting experience and remembers the pride on his father’s face when he made Eagle Scout. If circumstances were different he would still be a scoutmaster for the Boy Scouts. When his oldest son, Hal, was in the scouts, George invested time in him so he was able to compete and do well against older boys. But Hal got to a place where he didn’t enjoy scouting and wanted out. He shared with his mom Shannon his desire to quit and she felt the stress of wanting to help him while knowing how passionate George was about his sons becoming Eagle Scouts.
3 John 5-8—Dear friend, you are showing faithfulness by whatever you do for the brothers, especially when they are strangers. They have testified to your love in front of the church. You will do well to send them on their journey in a manner worthy of God, since they set out for the sake of the Name, accepting nothing from pagans. Therefore, we ought to support such men so that we can be coworkers with the truth.
1 Thessalonians 3:11,12—Now may our God and Father Himself, and our Lord Jesus, direct our way to you. And may the Lord cause you to increase and overflow with love for one another and for everyone, just as we also do for you.
Context: My predecessor seldom left her office. She didn’t walk around and meet the employees in her organization. She was not a bad person she just was not engaged. Her style of leadership was completely “hands off.”
Have you ever been hugged by someone and it just seemed like the cares and hurts no longer seemed so bad? Doris is the queen of hugs. Someone avoided by others she approaches and gives her signature loving embrace. Doris will occasionally ask Dan if is okay for someone to come home with them for a meal or maybe to stay for a night, a week, or a month. If there is a hidden need, Doris will find it. Out of her own personal pain and trials, God gave this woman eyes to see deep into the hearts of others and to respond with thoughtfulness. Her legacy is her loving touch!
Sometimes the Lord gives us opportunity to see our failings. A flaw noted should be corrected while a flaw ignored may grow into a character fissure. I was blessed to spend seven days learning about strategic leadership at the University of North Carolina. The Army paid for about thirty of us to stay in great accommodations, eat fantastic food, and learn from wise professors and senior military leaders.
It was the beginning of day four of a head cold that felt like a nonstop faucet leak through my eyes. I went through enough Kleenex to carpet a football field. Now it is standard practice in my Army organization to offer chapel service to any interested soldiers on Sunday. For some reason, our higher headquarters did not plan a service for this conference. So not only was my body weak, I was spiritually hungry for time with other saints to worship.
Between leading First Cause and commanding the 104th Division, I average about two weeks of travel each month. Consequently, I have many opportunities to meet new people and experience the ups and downs of flying. Recently, I was in an airport and feeling hungry I purchased a large smoothie (a blended and chilled, sweet beverage made from fruit), before boarding the plane. I placed the drink on the side of my seat and then put my luggage in the compartment. Unfortunately, in the act of sitting down I knocked the cup over. Horror of horrors—dark, red liquid poured all over the carpeted floor.
Between leading First Cause and commanding the 104thDivision, I average about two weeks of travel each month. Consequently, I have many opportunities to meet new people and experience the ups and downs of flying. Recently, I was in an airport and feeling hungry I purchased a large smoothie (a blended and chilled, sweet beverage made from fruit), before boarding the plane. I placed the drink on the side of my seat and then put my luggage in the compartment. Unfortunately, in the act of sitting down I knocked the cup over. Horror of horrors—dark, red liquid poured all over the carpeted floor.
Luke 16:10-12—Whoever is faithful in very little is also faithful in much, and whoever is unrighteous in very little is also unrighteous in much. So if you have not been faithful with the unrighteous money, who will trust you with what is genuine? And if you have not been faithful with what belongs to someone else, who will give you what is your own?
I’ve never had a ministry to the poor. Few of my friends are financially needy and those I work and live around are middle or upper-class families. While my finances have often been sparse, compared to most in the world I am incredibly well off. So, I wondered what it would be like to spend so many hours each week helping those at the center of ever-converging problems from which escape seems bleak and overwhelming.
William did an amazing thing this past Christmas. The eleven-year old son of Cindy and David carefully selected each Christmas gift for his parents and his older brother, Walt. The dynamics of this family are not unusual. The oldest son has close ties to his dad while the youngest is close to his mother. That is why William’s gift was so special. William desired to have a better relationship with his father. So he wrote David a touching letter that pointed out his own understanding of why their relationship was weak. Then he mentioned his desire to be close to his father. Inside the letter was $10 William gave to his dad to purchase a fishing pole so they could go spend time together as father and son—fishing.
I was standing on the sideline of a pick-up soccer game after subbing out so another player could reenter the game. It was a hot afternoon. My buddy, Dan, took his plastic water jug and poured it over my head. Unlike the unsuspecting football coach, doused with iced Gatorade after winning a cold winter game, this shower was reviving!