The amazing power of generosity. . .heals.
Has a friend generously listened to you? Who has noticed that you need a helping hand? Or, when you show generosity to a friend or stranger? Perhaps you sent a Get Well card to a relative or wished Happy Birthday to a Facebook friend.
Your generosity matters. It helps to heal the hurting. Here’s an amazing story of generosity. Read on.
Homeless. Need Food. Please Help.
Pulling up to a red light, Kate noticed a young man clutching a sign. It read, “HOMELESS. NEED FOOD. PLEASE HELP.” The icy wind reddened his hands. She knew what she had to do, even though it inconvenienced her.
She drove to a store, bought men’s gloves and returned to the sign holder. She rolled down her window and handed them to him.
And she prayed for his mother.
Kate has a grown son too. Addicted to drugs. Sleeping somewhere. She couldn’t warm her own child but she could show Jesus to a stranger.
Debbie Macomber shares this true story in her book One Simple Act: Discovering the Power of Generosity. A sister in Christ and fiction author, she understands the need to give love. She’s dyslexic and her third grade teacher told her mother, “She’ll never do well in school.” And she didn’t.
But her love of words and her parent’s encouragement, and later her husband’s, gave her the boost to sign up for a writers’ conference in New York, and — to use a cliche — the rest is history.
Finding Hope Through Generosity
This post isn’t about Debbie or Kate. It’s about you and overcoming your struggles in Jesus’ power. I want you to find hope and healing. One thing I learned:
Sometimes to find healing you need to reach out to a hurting soul and help her.
Here’s an example: A woman I counseled by Skype — whom I’ll call Sandy — spied a lady dumpster-diving for food scraps behind a fast-food joint. She maneuvered her car from the drive-thru lane and into a parking spot. Sandy had bought two lunches, one for herself and one for the lady. She handed one bag of food to the lady. She said, “I don’t want your food. I don’t take no charity.”
Sandy put the bag of food just inside the dumpster and walked back to her car, glancing backward to see what the lady would do.
She took the food.
Now Sandy and the lady made a game of sorts. Sandy places food by the dumpster when she sees the lady and the lady eats. Sandy feels she is making a difference. She feels less alone.
Generosity Reveals Jesus to a Hurting World
This simple act of generosity reveals Jesus to a lady and to a hurting world.
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You can show Jesus too, like Kate, like Sandy, like the little boy who gave his little lunch to a big Jesus who multiplied it and fed 5,000 men and probably as many women and children. The boy willingly gave what he had and received so much more.
“There is a boy here who has five barley loaves and two fish, but what are they for so many?” Jesus said, “Have the people sit down.” Now there was much grass in the place. So the men sat down, about five thousand in number. (John 6:9-10, NIV)
This boy’s generosity is forever told worldwide. How blessed he is.
When you and I are kind to others, we are blessed too.
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Be generous. Show Jesus. Give thanks. You belong to Someone big who cares. Your generosity takes your eyes off yourself and on Him.
Do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased. (Hebrews 13:16, NIV).
Sharing Hope with Your Heart,
Did you know the Jesus prays for you — yes, you — at all times? Nothing can separate you from God’s love!
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Once loved, you can now deeply love others!
When Satan accuses one of the saints – that’s you, me, and every believer – Jesus tells our Heavenly Father, “I got her covered. She’s mine.” Isn’t it comforting to know that Jesus sees your sorrows and your joys, your trials and your triumphs. . .and he prays tor you? and protects you?
Jesus prays for you when you. . .
- fret over a loved one’s poor health
- your husband fails to communicate
- are lonely or scared
- call yourself ugly names
What difficulty are you facing now? Do you know Jesus’ followers are forever loved by him and that absolutely nothing “wlll be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:39)?
Jesus Prays with Power
Listen to the gospel — the Good News — in the Apostle Paul’s words to the Christians in Rome,
Jesus Christ, who died – more than that, who was raised to life – is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? (Rom. 8:34-35, NIV).
Jesus lived a sinless life, was crucified, buried, and rose again on the third day, defeating Death and guaranteeing eternal life to those who love him.
Even more, when you have trouble praying, the Holy Spirit prays for you.
The Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance with God’s will” (Rom. 8:26, 27, NIV).
Isn’t amazing that the God of the universe would bother to even to take note of us? He made man from dust. Our lives are a mist. But he is all-sufficient, all-knowing, all-good. How unlike God are you and me!
He doesn’t need me.
Or anyone else.
He is God. He is love.
Jesus Prays with Love
God invites you and me to know him deeply, experience his love, and follow him. When you know you are forever loved by Jesus, don’t you desire to love others? Even the “unlovables.”
Among today’s unlovables are gangbangers, the homeless, Syrian refugees, and many more. Who comes to your mind? The lady at church who gossips? Maybe your onery neighbor?
Some people find themselves living in a home that’s unloving. What can they do? What can you do? If this describes you, would you take this challenge?
For three months (or any time frame you choose) in the morning prayerfully yourself two questions:
- Who in my home needs my love right now?
- How can I show love to him or her love?
Then pray and ask God to help you follow through. The goal is not to get others in your home to love you back. It’s to love others and pray for them.
Did you know that in Jesus, you have all the love you need?
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An Offer or Two
First, if life is hard now, may I encourage you to contact me so we can talk about the possibility of counseling? I counsel by Skype around the world and in person in greater Chicago. Contact me and request a complimentary 15-minute phone consultation.
Second, are you enjoying my blog posts? Please sign up with receive them in your inbox along with my “Transform Your Thoughts Journal.” Thanks!
Sharing Hope with Your Heart,
Bible reading is important. . .but why? And what is the urgency of it? “5 Reasons You Desperately Need Your Bible” by bible teacher Kristen Wetheral appeared first here on Unlocking the Bible. It is used with permission.
Why is Bible reading important? Most Christians know they should read their Bibles. But often, our Bible reading can feel dry and insignificant. Why is it so important for us to read this book? What’s the urgency of it?
Meet Ruth and Naomi
Ruth and Naomi’s story in the Old Testament reveals some urgent truths through illustration about why we need our Bibles right now and every single day.
We should not bypass these truths because they are the difference between spiritual life and death; between conviction and apathy; between joy, peace, and strength and discontentment, anxiety, and fear; between knowing some things about Jesus and knowing Jesus intimately.
Here are five reasons that you desperately need your Bible, as illustrated in the book of Ruth.
1. Your Soul Is Nourished
Threat of starvation loomed before Ruth and her mother-in-law. They had moved back to Bethlehem after their husbands and sons died, leaving them without male protection or provision. So the women had to find a way to keep themselves alive.
Ruth decides to glean in the fields of family members, “in whose sight [she] shall find favor” (Ruth 2:2), with her sights set on Boaz’s part of the field.
Boaz takes note of her hunger and determination. He asks his servant about Ruth, who replies,
She is the young Moabite woman, who came back with Naomi from the country of Moab. She said, “Please let me glean and gather among the sheaves after the reapers.” So she came, and she has continued from early morning until now, except for a short rest. (vv. 6-7)
Ruth gleans for dear life, and for Naomi’s dear life. She knows she will find favor here, that she can come and will be received, and that gleaning from this field will save both she and her mother-in-law from physical starvation.
Similarly, you and I need God’s Word right now and every day because, without it, we will spiritually starve
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. As the grain kept Ruth and Naomi alive, so God gives us his breathed-out truth, his very words, to keep our faith in him vibrant and growing. A good, solid meal strengthens the body and mind, but “man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God” (Matthew 4:4). We need the Bible so our souls do not starve.
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2. You Look for Life in the Right Places
What Boaz says to Ruth next is important for us to hear:
Now, listen, my daughter, do not go to glean in another field or leave this one, but keep close to my young women. Let your eyes be on the field that they are reaping, and go after them. (v. 9)
What a beautiful picture of looking for life in all the right places! Because Ruth found favor with Boaz and his crew, she is free to glean all she needs from his field. She doesn’t need to look elsewhere. His abundance is now hers because the owner has given it freely.
God gives each of his children direct access to his will, promises, and works through his Word. The Bible is sufficient for us to know God, believe in his Son, and walk by his Spirit. Nothing and no one else can give life the way God does through the Bible.
Yet, the human heart wanders easily and is deceitful above all things. Because this is true, we need to regularly anchor our hearts in God’s Word. If we don’t do this, the heart will “go to glean in another field,” looking for nourishment, life, and satisfaction in places that can never provide these things. So we make intentional plans to “keep close” to his Word, so that the eyes of our hearts “be on the field they are reaping” throughout our days and moments.
3. You’re Reminded of the True Gospel
Then [Ruth] said, ‘I have found favor in your eyes, my lord, for you have comforted me and spoken kindly to your servant, though I am not one of your servants” (v. 13).
Every time we read God’s precious Word, we are reminded of how we’ve found favor in God’s eyes through Jesus Christ. We are comforted by the depths of the gospel: Though we were once unfit to receive God’s kindness, he has “spoken kindly” to us through his mercy and grace.
Just as Ruth found favor to glean in Boaz’s field, so we have found favor through Jesus Christ to the presence and promises of God. We did nothing to earn this access, but through the gospel, God invites us into his undeserved favor and kindness.
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Ruth was not one of Boaz’s servants, nor were we servants of God, but instead slaves to sin. And just as Ruth is made a servant and gleaner of Boaz’s field, so we are made servants of God and gleaners of his rich, fulfilling, gospel-saturated Word through Christ. Reading the Bible each day reminds us of this miraculous reality.
4. You Love and Serve Others Well
And [Ruth] ate until she was satisfied, and she had some left over….Her mother-in-law saw what she had gleaned. She also brought out and gave her what food she had left over after being satisfied. (vv. 14, 18)
God’s Word provides an abundance of life-giving truth for us, which we then bring out and give to others. Ruth feasted on the fruit of Boaz’s field “until she was satisfied.” Not only this, but “she had some left over,” which she shared freely with Naomi.
The depth and devotion of our love and service to other people will directly correlate to the depth and devotion of our time in God’s Word. We cannot give to others what we’ve not sought or experienced ourselves.
Who might need help applying the gospel to a specific situation? Who might need a friend to serve them or pray for them?
Praise God that when we spend time eating his Word, he equips us with an abundance of satisfying truth to bring out and give to others. As Naomi “saw what [Ruth] had gleaned,” so the fruit of your time in God’s Word will also be clearly perceived by others.
5. You Keep Close to God
And Ruth the Moabite said, “Besides, [Boaz] said to me, ‘You shall keep close by my young men until they have finished all my harvest.’” (v. 21)
God promises to complete the work he begins in all his children.
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He ignites faith through the hearing of the Word of Christ, and then he sustains faith to the finish. And how is faith sustained? The primary fuel of enduring faith is the Word of Christ.
Boaz declares to Ruth the necessity of sticking close to the harvest until it is finished. So we stay close to our Lord Jesus through God’s Word until he calls us home and faith turns to sight. Until our race is finished, we glean from him, day in and day out. We nourish our souls so we do not starve; we anchor our hearts in truth so we do not veer; we root ourselves in the gospel; and we bring God’s abundant words to others.
We desperately need our Bibles. Thanks be to God that this is a need he is pleased to meet.
May I Pray for You?
I pray that the women who just read Kristen’s article on the Bible’s nourishment to our soul will right now know you are near. Your desire is that we might find out delight in Jesus. Sometimes this seems hard, even unreachable, when our hearts hurt. Help us. Thank you. Amen.
Sharing Hope with Your Heart,
Christian cliches make you cringe, don’t they? Here are 5 Christians cliche identified by today’s guest writer Marie Notcheva, a featured counselor in Heart2Heart Counselor Directory. A certified counselor and author, Marie specializes in helping women and girls who have eating disorders, which she overcame through biblical counseling. Her article appeared first here on her website and is used with permission.
In biblical counseling, as in all forms of Christian ministry, we are called to exhort and encourage; listen and learn; love and give hope. Sometimes, however, words can hurt rather than heal. Although a counselor, friend, small-group leader or pastor may say something with the best of intentions, falling back on platitudes or Christian clichés can sometimes cause more harm than good to the listener.
Based on my experience as a biblical counselor and conversations with other women, I have identified five of the most damaging Christian cliches that have made their way into the counseling room. Over the years, I have heard all of these used, and while I understand the intent behind them, they make me cringe.
1. “In order to feel good, you must DO good.”
This is an old maxim of biblical counseling, often said to depressed counselees who find themselves in a rut. The problem is that it’s often not true, and usually adds to the counselee’s guilt and self-recrimination.
A better approach? Get to the source of her depression.
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A woman who is depressed because of a verbally abusive husband will not be helped by this phrase. She very likely is already “doing good things” to the point of burnout, to no avail. Is the counselee depressed because of a death? Telling her to get her act together and wash the dishes will not help.
The phrase implies that laziness is partially responsible for the depression, which is a dangerous assumption to make.
2. “How can I/we come alongside you?”
This is a Christian cliché that is so vague it is usually impossible to answer. Say what you mean. Perhaps make a suggestion: “I’ll show up at your place at 11 a.m., do your laundry, and take you out to lunch. You could use a break!”
Or, “Now that I know your family is struggling financially, let’s talk to the elders about getting a scholarship for your son to go to youth
camp. By the way, there’s a fund in place to help pay heating bills for folks going through a rough patch.”
The “coming alongside” offer can also be a thinly veiled but heavy-handed way of saying, “I’m going to interfere in this very private matter you’ve divulged to me, whether you consent or not.” Don’t spiritualize your offer of involvement. Spell it out, and respectfully ask the counselee, friend, or parishioner for permission.
3. “You have a very low view of Scripture (or Christ, or God).”
This is usually a callous way of dismissing what the other person is saying, simply because you don’t agree with it. It is presumptuous in the extreme to assume you know her heart on such matters, and it is lazy counseling.
If a counselee or member is attending an evangelical church of any stripe, and especially if she is seeking out counseling, it is safe to take her at her word that she believes in the inerrancy of Scripture. It is doubtful that she has a low view of Christ, and to tell her this is confusing and hurtful.
One woman I counseled several years ago had been told at her prior church that she had a low view of God, because she had taken a tough-love approach to her son’s drug addiction. Although I don’t know the woman’s pastor, I have counseled addicts enough to know that she took appropriate steps – and indeed had a very high view of God.
If you don’t agree that the individual’s conclusion is biblical, do some research. It’s probably a matter of interpretation and you, as the biblical counselor, probably have the benefit of exegetical training. Engage the question; look at different angles and commentaries; reason together.
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Never dismiss her by telling her she has a low view of Scripture/God/Christ. Such sweeping statements are designed to be conversation-stoppers, and have no place in the counseling room.
4. “Stop carrying around a root of bitterness/bitter spirit.”
This one is tricky, because it’s clearly a biblical warning. Bitterness is a sin, which ultimately destroys a person spiritually. The author of Hebrews cautions against letting such a spirit grow up within the Body, because it “corrupts many” (Hebrews 12:15). We see this all the time in the fallout of church splits, in the gossip and hard feelings that are left in its wake.
The problem here is being careful not to lump every angry emotion into this category, and gloss over it with this verse. This approach is what has given nouthetic counselors the reputation of “throwing the Bible at people” or a “take one verse and call me in the morning” attitude.
Having hurt feelings or struggling to forgive someone who has seriously wronged you is not bitterness. Often, counselors and pastors make the mistake of rebuking wounded believers for “bitterness” before they’ve even had a chance to start healing.
At that point, what hurting people need is to be listened to; have their experience validated; have the wrong of what was done to them validated. Then you can begin to help them work through the process of forgiveness. Bitterness is a heart attitude that comes about when one sees all others as enemies; deliberately refuses to forgive; and usually is a result of a non-existent prayer life.
Please do not forget that in some serious circumstances (such as sexual abuse, fraud, injury or murder of one’s relative), forgiveness may be a long, extremely painful process. Be very careful of bringing out the “root of bitterness” trump card.
5. “Thank you for sharing your heart.”
Usually said with the best of intentions, this is the single most meaningless, cringe-worthy, condescending, cliché-sounding phrase in the ecclesiastical lexicon, according to women I’ve spoken to.
It is meaningless because it is a non-answer, offering no resolve. It is condescending because it dismisses whatever the counselee (or parishioner) has said to the level of emotionalism. It is insensitive at best; insulting at worst. And rank-and-file church members know that.
One woman told me that this sounded like a pat-phrase taught in biblical counseling courses as a buffer; something to pull out when one doesn’t know what else to say. I know of another incident where a woman carefully documented details of incidents – with dates, names, witnesses and details – to give credence to a serious situation of abuse she had brought to her pastor’s attention. She was thanked for sharing her heart.
“My heart had nothing to do with it,” she said. “They wanted facts? I gave them very specific facts. I’ve never felt so dismissed and unheard in my life.”
A better alternative to “thank you for sharing your heart” might be to thank the person for the trust they demonstrate in you by sharing this information with you, and then ask what action steps she would like you to take.
This not only validates that the issue they’re addressing is important; it puts feet to the faith we profess to have. Faith and love both lead to action – there’s usually a reason they’re telling you something, and unless it’s over a coffee in Starbucks, it’s rarely just for the sake of sharing their heart.
Choose Words Wisely
As Christians, whether in the counseling room or out in the world, we’re called to be quick to listen and slow to speak (James 1:19). Although certainly none of us does this perfectly, thinking about how to make our words more meaningful (and edifying) might mean changing some of the ways we phrase things.
Always try to consider how the listener will receive what you say, in her personal experience and situation. Frame your words accordingly, and in this way you will be demonstrating the love of Christ.
Friend, are you sick of Christian cliches? Would you consid effective, “cliche-free,” and caring biblical counseling?
Please contact me and we can set up a free 15-minute free consultation. We can “meet” by Skype, in person, or over the phone. Just the other day, a woman from Germany had a free consult with me, and now we’re counseling, looking to Jesus and the Bible for answers to life’s troubles.
Sharing Hope with Your Heart,
Idolatry is making a god of something or someone who is NOT the God. All of us are tempted to cozy up to idols. Guest writer Ellen Castillo, one of the counselors in Heart2Heart Counselor Directory, reveals her go-to idol and how she–and you–can learn to say “no” and flee. Her article appeared first here on her website and is used with permission.
What do you run to? What should you run from?
Therefore, my beloved, flee from idolatry. 1 Corinthians 10:15
It’s humbling to admit this. For many years my go-to idol has been. . .food. Sin is always humbling, isn’t it? And it can be embarrassing and even humiliating, except that the Gospel takes care of that kind of self-focus and self-condemnation.
I’ll take the humbling, because that is what keeps me from turning back to idolatry. I’ll keep purposing to reject the embarrassment and humiliation, because I know that my sins are forgiven. To try to pretend that I am not the worst of sinners is just silly because it’s written all over me. And you.
Let’s remember this: we have a Savior.
Idolatry today comes wrapped in a lot of different packages. Food, alcohol, drugs, prescription meds, sex, materialism, shopping, anger, status, playing the victim, seeking approval and attention, relationships, celebrities, pride of all kinds, and so many more.
There is no end, really, to what we allow to become idols in our hearts. Whatever we put before God, wherever our treasure is, whatever we worship, those are our idols.
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There is a reason these idols are called “false gods.” They are counterfeits. They ultimately fail us. We actually “become like them” and that is, to put it bluntly, disgusting.
The psalmist wrote:
The idols of the nations are silver and gold, the work of human hands. They have mouths, but do not speak; they have eyes, but do not see; they have ears, but do not hear, nor is there any breath in their mouths. Those who make them become like them, so do all who trust in them! Psalm 135:15-18
This disgust gripped me a few months ago when I got a serious medical diagnosis that is worsened by my idolatry. I realized I had “eyes, but did not see, ears, but did not hear, and there was no breath in my mouth.”
I won’t say my idol is entirely gone now, but I am seeing consistent victories along the way. Praise God, it is His work in me, not my own. I am too weak apart from His strength. I have a long ways to go, but I am daily choosing to go toward Christ rather than my toward my false god.
Where are you going?
The Gospel Ensures Victory
One of the beautiful things about Jesus’s Gospel is that we do not need to strive for victory.
Yes, there is a part we must engage by obedience, but when (not if) we fail at times, we can praise God because He does not see what we see. Even if my hand gets caught in the cookie jar, I am forgiven.
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That does not excuse my behavior nor does it give me the green light to worship my idols. It does offer me grace to get back up again and press on in obedience because of the indwelling Spirit in me. I need to know that God’s love for me does not change (nor does my eternal security) when I fail at times, and I do fail. But by God’s grace you and I can experience more victories and fewer setbacks as long as we are not relying on our own strength.
How does God deal with our idolatry? How are we to be rid of it? We see in Scripture that His dealings with His people were consistent and blatant. We see the same kind of dealings with our current culture (just view the news or your Facebook feed and you will see it.)
The Word Reveals Our Need
The commands are clear: we are to have no other gods before Him. God is a jealous God.
You shall have no other gods before me. You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. You shall not bow down to them or serve them, for I the Lord your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and the fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing steadfast love to thousands of those who love me and keep my commandments. Exodus 20:3-6
In our personal lives, if you have a personal relationship with Him through His Son, Jesus, God deals with us and our sin of idolatry very individually and specifically. For example, my conviction came as a result of that scary medical diagnosis that requires a change of habits if I want to be healthy and live to know my grandkids, Lord willing.
We fashion our idols and enjoy them for awhile, until God reveals to us the thoughts, beliefs, and desires that lie at the core of our hearts. Those are the things that mold and transform in to our idols.
Out of that core of our hearts flow the things we worship, and we must remember that those things are not going to satisfy ultimately because:
The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it? Jeremiah 17:9
God’s Word is clear. When God reveals our idols to us, we are then responsible to flee them.
Ephesians 4 instructs us to put off the old man, and put on the new. Through the conviction, empowering, and enabling of the Holy Spirit, we can do this. We can say no.
Titus 2:12 reminds us that grace actually teaches us to say no.
Grace. The Gospel. Spirit indwelling. SAY NO. Flee!
Sharing Hope with Your Heart,