Fruity Fridays: Kindness Results

(A series on the Fruit of the Spirit, Galatians 5)

I was driving down 26th St. W. in morning traffic. A car pulled out into traffic. A garbage bag fell off the top of the car and rested in the opposite lane of oncoming traffic. What to do? Was it garbage or might it have something valuable in it? The driver didn’t seem to notice they lost the bag. What to do?

I could have said, “Not my problem. Besides, there are plenty of other drivers who could deal with this. I have an appointment.”

I decided to ask God what to do. More specifically, I asked him to have the driver give me some kind of indication that I could tell them and still get to my appointment on time. Within two blocks of my turning off 26th, the driver turned on their blinker to turn into a business. I said, “Thanks for the sign,” and followed.

Before the driver opened the car door, I was at the window. She rolled down the window, and I said, “I was behind you when you pulled into traffic, and it looked like a garbage bag fell off the top of your car. I wanted to let you know in case it had something valuable in it.”

She was embarrassed. “I didn’t even notice. It was my garbage. I forgot to put it in the dumpster. Thank you so much.”

I got back in my car and headed to my appointment. I don’t know if she did anything about her garbage. I do know that I resisted the flesh and followed the Spirit to show kindness to a stranger. I don’t always choose kindness, but when I do it results in…

  • …thinking less of myself and more about others
  • …resisting the initial thought that is all about me
  • …listening to that small voice that gives me a kind idea
  • …choosing that temporary inconvenience
  • …showing someone their blindspot
  • …helping someone with their garbage

Who is Really God Here?

When someone is attacking us, our tendency is to focus on them and their actions, even in our prayers. It is fair to say in some cases we take the actions of an enemy and make them an idol. “Look at me. Poor me.” Our prayers become all about them vs. me. With that kind of mindset, who is really God here? 

Consider what David had to say about this in Psalm 5:

But let all who take refuge in You rejoice; let them shout for joy forever. May You shelter them, and may those who love Your name boast about You. For You, Lord, bless the righteous one; You surround him with favor like a shield. ‭Psalms‬ ‭5‬:‭11-12‬ HCSB

David is suggesting that, because of the refuge God offers to those seeking righteousness, there should be rejoicing. Rather than focus on the enemy’s actions or words, David says boast about God. Rather than focus on the wrong thing, the wrong person, even the results of their actions, we can live in peace under the shield and favor that comes from the God of the Righteous. We must check our idol making by asking who is really God here.

Running Tuesdays: Recovery That’s Right for You

by Michael Wilder

​When it comes to running, finding a way to recover in between runs is extremely important. Recovery allows your body to adjust, strengthen, or maintain your muscles. It sounds like a no brainer, but your muscles all over your body are the reason you can run. Muscles need time to rest in order to function correctly

​I’m currently in the process of running towards my goal of 1,000 miles in 2017. As of today I am 28% of the way (275 miles). With the extra miles I am running each week, my body has really felt it…way more than marathon training! ​For marathon training, the miles were short, short, and then really long. The two runs during the week were maintenance runs, while the one run on the weekend was a long run increasing distance to build up endurance. The following week was 3 short runs to preserve the progress. Basically, the week with 3 short runs were like a week “off” of running. It allowed my body to recover slowly to meet the next week’s increase of miles. ​Trying to reach my goal of 1,000 miles, I have pushed my body more than in the past. I need to run at least 20 miles a week to reach that goal. Knowing my future schedule and the hot Florida summer, I am “banking” miles as much as I can. Instead of going for 20 miles a week, I am reaching towards 30 miles a week. 

​With this increased mileage on my body and muscles, recovery is a must. Since I don’t have those “rest” weeks as I would during marathon training, I use the days in between to achieve rest. I only run 3 times a week with 2 days off between my “longer” weekend runs. I tried to run 4 to 5 times a week to achieve my goal, but my body and schedule did not groove with that plan. So I just run longer 3 times a week instead of running more frequently with shorter distances. This plan has been working for me for the last 2 months.

​Besides using rest days to aid recovery, I do yoga on the days I do rest. Like I said on another blog post, I am a big fan of runners and athletes doing yoga. Yoga stretches the muscles as well as focuses the mind. Yoga allows the muscles to release the tension and toxics that get built up from overusage. I try to do my yoga DVDs twice a week.

The last thing I do for recover is foam roll before bed every night. The benefits of foam rolling are to soothe tight, sore areas (known as “trigger points”) and speed up muscle recovery. The foam roller I have has a PVC pipe as its core so there is no bend or sag unlike ones that are just foam. Let’s just say to me foam rolling feels amazing but is a very awkward yet intimate experience.

​Having a plan of recovery for a runner is important, especially for me who is trying to achieve a high mile goal. The bottom line is you need to find and have a plan that fits you. It’s your body, your muscles, and your time. So do what feels best and right for you!

What is My Personal Creed?

Reading this quote from The Critical Journey posed another question:

Usually people at this stage have been given a personal creed from God that guides their lives…a daily empowerment at a practical spiritual level…simple, intimate, and can extend to all people. Examples include: All will be well; God is enough; Love the Lord your God with all your heart and soul and mind; Be still and know that I am God; All is gift. (p. 210)

The question to me then was, what is my personal creed? My answer came quickly. My creed is an adaptation to the end of the Lord’s Prayer that I gleaned from reading a book on prayer. The creed is “Your will be done in my life as it is in heaven.”

Reading this quote again and writing down my creed, another thought occurred to me. Creeds certainly can come from Scripture, but it seems they could also come from songs that are scripture based. Lyrics are powerful and certainly can carry a person through a stage of life. So to further exemplify creeds, here are some of my “lyric creeds”:

  • “I want no regrets when the horses come for me.” -Margaret Becker
  • “Me without You is a lie.” -Avalon
  • “It’s your breath in my lungs…great are you, Lord.” -All Sons and Daughters
  • “I’m in awe of you…I owe all to you.” -Chris Tomlin
  • “You’re my hope.” -Danny Gokey
  • “My soul will sing your praise unending.” -Matt Redman
  • “Here I am, knees to the earth, here I am.” -Watermark
  • “I am a child of God.” -Bethel Music
  • “Be my heart’s obsession, first and only in my life. In your love alone my soul is satisfied.” -Elevation Worship

What are your scripture and/or lyric creeds?

What is God Calling Me to Become?

In making decisions currently, I have not asked where I am to be or what I am to do, but what it is that God is calling me to become. (p. 103, The Critical Journey: Stages in the Life of Faith)

Today’s blog and the following one will be based on thoughts from this book I’m finishing:

This quote resonated with me because it’s a question I’ve wandered in and out of over the past decade. It seems, as we go through stages/seasons of life, this would be a great question to keep in front of us. It’s very possible that the answer will change as we journey and grow.

So here is what I wrote in my journal on March 8 to answer the question, What is God Calling Me to Become:

  • A lover of all people
  • A helper to the wanderer
  • A friend to my colleagues
  • A present dweller
  • A faster forgiver
  • A questioner rather than a teller
  • A relaxed worker
  • A Spirit listener
  • A dependent child
  • A contented kingdom dweller

What is God Calling You to Become?

Living with Judas

10 Questions to ponder when you think you know a “Judas”:

  1. How am I praying for them?
  2. What role might I play in their redemption?
  3. Has anyone approached them with the truth?
  4. What is missing from my knowledge of their story that would help my encounters with them?
  5. What wholesome character traits are shown by their behaviors? What damaging traits?
  6. Has grace been offered? If so, is there room for more? When does the grace end?
  7. When will it be time to withdraw? What’s the line that when crossed severs the relationship?
  8. What may be the root of cyclical behavior?
  9. What choices do you have when no offense has occurred but their character indicates it’s just a matter of time?
  10. What does God want me to learn from this relationship?

Fruity Fridays: Complicated Kindness

(A series about the Fruit of the Spirit, Galatians 5)

post by Eric Vorhies 

Kindness is something I struggle with.

I am not saying that I am inherently mean. It’s just that I have a very matter of fact way of dealing with people. I chalk it up to being a task-oriented person. 

I like tasks. They are simple. They generally have a beginning and an ending…They can be completed.

People and their feelings are not so nice and easy. They are complicated. And sometimes, we, ourselves, don’t even know why we feel one way or choose to do a certain thing. How do two people, who are uncertain about how things should be done or even how they feel about it, come together on common ground? In a world where people are hurt because someone didn’t like their Instagram post, I am lost on how to validate some people’s thoughts, opinions, actions, and feelings…but…then there is kindness.

The power of kindness is that it bridges my humanity to that of another person. 

The only way I know this is by trying to look at the Bible through the lens of modern times. If Jesus were walking with us today as he did back then, Jesus would be at the bar hanging out with drunks, hookers, and IRS agents. He wouldn’t be doing anything wrong, but we would still wonder why he was there when he could be hanging out with us. He would also make time in his busy schedule to stop and hang out with kids and to visit people at the hospital. The more I think about it the more I realize that kindness bridges two people that are different. 

It is easy to see and accept us and them — Christians and non-Christians, Americans and everyone else, Republican and Democrats. But kindness gives us the opportunity to see more than that…to see people as…you know, people. That’s what Jesus was doing his entire ministry. He marginalized the difference between His divinity and our sinfulness by being kind. 

I will never say it is easy. Remember, I am a task-oriented person. But when I catch myself missing a moment to show kindness, I try to imitate Christ by loving first and in truth and action. Because despite any apparent differences, I am just like every other person — a human in need of the Gospel — and by showing kindness, I can show others who Christ is.

Bed Stillness

“Know that the Lord has set apart the faithful for Himself; the Lord will hear when I call to Him. Be angry and do not sin; on your bed, reflect in your heart and be still. Selah” ‭‭Psalms‬ ‭4:3-4‬ ‭HCSB‬

Often people tell me they aren’t getting good sleep. Just yesterday two people talked to me about their sleep. One of them “couldn’t sleep” the night before. The other one said they used to have to take pills to sleep, but since they’ve started addressing things in their life they are at more peace and don’t rely on pills anymore to sleep.

Learning to be still with God in the darkness of night or the early hours of morning is a sign of the faithful. These verses give three things that should keep one from needing drugs to sleep:

1) Know who the Lord honors and values, know he hears when you call on Him.

2) Be angry but don’t sin. It’s normal to have anger. It’s also human to sin. Sleep is lost when anger is allowed to harbor sin, not confess it, or keep you enslaved to it.

3) Reflect in your heart and be still. Recently when I’ve woken up either from a dream or earlier than the alarm, I’ve practiced being still and talking with God about whatever He’s bringing to my mind. Sleep, peace and rest are the result of bed stillness.

Running Tuesdays: Hype or Hope or Hypothermia (Recovering after a run)

by Lorraine Kennimouth Williams

I remember my first long run; it was approximately 10 years ago when I ran 11 miles without stopping! I was jubilant and I was DEAD; absolutely worn out, the rest of the day was a fog! I remember wondering how people were capable of running such high mileage and then getting on with the rest of their day. I would hear conversations like, “I am going to Ikea after this to pick up a bed for the baby,” or, “I can’t go to breakfast because I have to attend my son’s little league game,” or, “After this we’re off to Disney,” and so on – and all I could think was, “After this I am going home to die on the couch”! I just couldn’t imagine it! Each week when I would run 10+ miles on a Sunday morning I would literally be spent! 

After doing a little research I was introduced to post workout drinks. These were supposed to replenish the nutrients your body loses on such long runs; they are touted as having the perfect 4:1 ratio of carbs to protein. So I tried them – I tried all of them! And …. although I received favorable feedback from others who tried these concoctions, it was hundreds of dollars later when I decided they didn’t work for me.  

Let me attempt to explain how I felt after one of these gargantuan runs. I didn’t feel achy or stiff. It wasn’t even about tired limbs; it was plain and simple fatigue that would permeate my entire being and reduce me to a blob of nothingness that could do nothing more than flop on a couch.

One day I read an article that stated ice baths were the key to rid the body of “fatigue blues” – I went for it – No holds barred! My preferred method was as follows…. Fill the tub with tepid (almost cold) water, enough water to cover legs and hips – almost waist high. Have 30-1bs bag of ice within arms reach of the bath tub. Carefully climb into water – fully clothed (don’t change out of running gear to include socks). Once body is fully immersed, slowly empty the ice into the water – Brrr! The trick is to try and remain perfectly still and not hold your breath. Now …. Stay like that for 20 minutes! After the alarm goes off, JUMP out of tub, rip off freezing wet clothes as fast as viably possible, dry off and wrap yourself in warm towels. Once you are swaddled in towels, jump into bed until your body slowly regains feeling and then take a nice hot shower – Voila! 

Okay, this is torture – but it WORKS! It really, really works! I found myself doing this after every long run – the benefits were worth the 20 minutes of torture. Let me explain what it did for me. After going through the aforementioned regimen, I would honestly feel as if I hadn’t run at all; I would feel as fresh as if getting out of bed after a 9-hour restful night. It was magic! I became one of those individuals who too could shop in Ikea, go to baseball games or go off to save the world. I started to recommend these torture sessions to all of my running buds; I had found the “fountain of youth” for runners, but alas, no one else was as brave – they wouldn’t even consider it!  

Fast forward: several marathons and half-marathons later and ice baths are a thing of the past. The reason … your body eventually gets used to the pounding of the pavement, and it magically appears to strengthen and endure all by itself – naturally. Where I used to spend my energy after a race running to fill the tub with ice, I now use that energy to find the first available beer and a nice meal to celebrate.  

80 and Counting!

Let all the earth fear the Lord; let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of him! Behold, the eye of the Lord is on those who fear him, on those who hope in his steadfast love…Psalm 33:8, 18

I read these verses this morning, the day we celebrated our mother’s 80th birthday.

She stands in awe of God. She fears him. She hopes in his steadfast love.

His eye is on her.

Happy birthday, Grandma Lola!