Earthen Vessels Archives 2009

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  • Burden-Bearing: It's the Law by Jason Jackson
  • Everyone Should Strive to Be an Encourager by Alma Norman
  • Fulfilling Your Role on he Team: Prayer Warriors by David Maxson
  • Traveling On My Knees (poem) by Sandra Goodwin
  • But I Didn't (poem) by Kathryn Thome Bowsher
  • Butterfly Wishes (poem)
  • People Liked Him (poem) by Edgar A. Guest
  • Am I My Brother's Keeper? by Steven Harper
  • Loving Someone You Can't Stand by Alan Smith
  • Before You Click "Forward" by Bryan Matthew Dockens
  • Random act of kindness
  • "Put on Kindness" by Kyle Campbell
  • What the World Needs Now by Kyle Campbell


Burden-bearing: It’s the Law

Jason Jackson

Do you realize that loving others is the law? Love, radiating from the Christian’s heart, is that which Paul had in mind when he wrote Galatians 6:2. In helping each other with heavy burdens, we fulfill the “law of Christ.”

The word law comes from the Greek term nomos, which “became the established name for law as decreed by a state and set up as the standard for the administration of justice” (Vine’s Expository Dictionary of New of New Testament Words, MacDonald, n.d., p. 653). The “law of Christ” is the standard, or measure of conduct, by which Christians are judged.

Some contend that the law of Christ in Galatians 6:2 refers to the rule implicitly given by Christ’s example. The idea is that Christ’s example leads us to a certain standard of conduct.

While the example of Jesus is certainly a rule of conduct for believers, I think that Paul refers to the Lord’s explicit teaching, recorded for us in John 13:34-35. Whether by example or precept, the standard is high and holy. The “law” established by Christ is the love he had for others. Listen to what the Lord taught:

“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:34-35).

This was a new commandment in that nobody had ever lived on this earth and expressed love to mankind in the way Jesus did. His eternal love, of course, was ultimately displayed when he opened his arms to humanity on the cross. It is the Christian’s life-long pursuit to comprehend the dimensions of this divine love that was manifested in the life and death of Jesus (Ephesians 3:17-19).

Observe how this teaching regulates Christian behavior, placing our interpersonal responsibilities on the highest level. John wrote:

“We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brothers. Whoever does not love abides in death. Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him. By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers. But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him? Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.” (1 John 3:14-18).

Again, John writes:

“Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is begotten of God, and knoweth God. He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love. Herein was the love of God manifested in us, that God hath sent his only begotten Son into the world that we might live through him. Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another” (1 John 4:7-11).

Jesus loved our souls, therefore he died for us on the cross. As children of God, we ought to live consistent with our spiritual ancestry. We ought to love one another as Christ has loved us.

Paul contends that we ought to bear one another’s burdens. What happens when we do this? We fulfill Christ’s rule of Christian conduct. If there was one statement, one declaration, one rule, so universal, so comprehensive, that it would serve as a concise standard by which all conduct could be measured, what would it be? It would be this: love others like Christ loves you. The is the law of Christ by which all Christian relationships are governed.

Burden-bearing (Galatians 6:2) is one way we fulfill the command to love one another as Christ loves us. When the teaching and life of Christ are the standard by which we live and love, we realize the following about Christian burden-bearing:

  1. Burden-bearing is prompted by Christ-like love (i.e., by a concern for the spiritual well-being of our brethren in Christ).
  2. Burden-bearing promotes the spiritual enrichment of the burdened Christian. Thus, whatever assistance is rendered (e.g., physical, material, emotional, etc.), the goal is the betterment of the brother in need. The aim is to help a fellow Christian maintain and enhance his relationship with God through, and in spite of, a heavy load.
  3. Burden-bearing is possible because of kinship in Christ. What a blessing it is when we know Christian doctors, Christians who are mental health professionals, brothers who are businessmen, Christians who work in social services, and brethren who bring their various talents and trades to the aid of their Christian brethren. But what they bring to their Christian family most of all is Christ-like love for the soul.

We are commanded to bear burdens because we are Christians. As a Christian, whatever my profession or vocation may be, I am obligated to lighten the load of my brothers and sisters in Christ. Our professions may faciliate this, but it is our knowledge of the gospel, our heart of compassion, our Christ-like kindness, our balanced view of sin and suffering, and our focus on heaven that gives us the possibility to help our fellow pilgrims through valleys of deep darkness.

What then qualifies one to be a burden-bearer is that he is Christ-like. Loving someone who is heavy-laden—like Jesus loved you—is what is necessary to help someone with the crushing weight of sin or circumstances.

Ironically, the problems of people are the possibilities for our own spiritual growth. We can never be all that God desires without opportunities to serve. Opportunities, however, must be taken. Love like Jesus, and live for the souls of others.

Consider this. Christians are obligated to worship God. What sincere Christian wouldn’t desire to praise and thank God at every opportunity when the church meets? Yet Christianity involves far more than sitting through a service. It demands a life of service wherein we help one another.

Borrowing the words of Jesus, we need to lift up our eyes, look upon the fields, for they are ripe for harvest (John 4:35). See a need, serve your brethren, and help save souls. It’s the law.


Everyone Should Strive To Be An Encourager

Alma Norman

James 1:23 ....But, be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only."
This year as a whole hasn't been a good one for me. First it was a new back pain involving my upper back which is still a bit of a mystery, and then I fell from a ladder, missing a step while trying to help my son do some painting at our home. Soon, I knew I'd really messed up my previous back surgery; my leg and back pain got really bad once again. Tests and x-rays revealed I'd torn up my fusion I'd had done in 2004. In addition to repairing this, the disk above it needed to be fused too.
My other spinal fusion was horrible! The muscles were temporarily cut loose from my back so large instruments could be used to insert metal bars and screws. Then bone was taken from my hips to be used to stabilize and fuse my back. Plus, I had to wear a huge plastic brace for at least 2 months while healing. It took me a year or more to recover from this surgery...worst experience of my whole life ... even worse than a hysterectomy that I had about 30 years earlier! My doctor planned to do a bikini hysterectomy with little scaring, but an exploratory type hysterectomy was done with much cutting involving all the way to my tail bone…where my ovaries were found. All my female organs were surrounded with varicose veins which could have resulted in me dying if any of them had began to bleed. The Dr. called it a congested pelvic syndrome resulting from my having 2 large babies and one being a very difficult pregnancy. But, God blessed me with a healthy baby boy each time!
My back and leg started with this difficult pregnancy and had continued until having my fusion in 2004. I'm now 62 years old and my boys are 38 and 34 years old, so you can now understand how horrible it is having to suffer again after getting a little relief for a few short years! Also in February of 2008 my aged mother with dementia died after being in the nursing home for a few years. My husband and I and one sister took turns taking care of mother before having to move her to a nursing home. After she fell and my back pain grew worse (this was a short time before my back surgery) we no longer had a choice other than allow her to go to the nursing home. Being a hairdresser, I'd always planned to style my mother's hair for the funeral, but I wasn't able because I'd just had my fall from the ladder. A good friend who is also a hairdresser fixed my mother's hair and did a beautiful job.
In Sept of 2008, still dealing with lots of back pain and having to wear a brace when I was able to be on my feet, I learned that I had a couple more problems;I had to have surgery on my bladder to put it back in place and also had a rectocele repaired. I'm feeling much better now after recovering from these two surgeries and some days the back and leg pain is worse than others, but for now, I'm trying to avoid having anymore spinal fusions.
Ladies, as probably most of you know who deal with chronic pain, it's not easy to face each new day bringing more of the same. But, I've found with God's help and focusing on someone else other than myself helps. I try so hard not to get a case of the poor me's. But, sometimes it helps just to let it all out with a good cry and then center my mind elsewhere.
Recently, we've hired a new preacher who is very interested in bringing up our numbers at church. He recently presented a lesson reminding us how we can all be encouragers; I needed this boost. So, lately from my bed, I've called several people who've either quit or have been slack attending church. And today my neighbor came back to church, repenting and re-dedicating her life to Christ. Both my younger son and I, on different occasions, had been talking to her since she'd had a recent illness. It's very rewarding to see the fruits of our Christian efforts, giving God the glory always. Also from my bed, I address get-well and sympathy cards. Sometimes this isn't always easy, thinking I wouldn't mind getting one too, but, like a good friend once told me, don't worry about what others do or don't do. We don't have to answer for others, we only answer for our own deeds.
Remember ladies, we're God's hands, His feet, His spokesman. We need to strive to serve God in any capacity that we can. God knows us better than we know ourselves; He knows our hearts, our pains, our feelings of despair and sometimes the feeling that we just plain want to give up! But, He also knows that we can be an encourager if we'll work at it! God expects us to use our talents He's given us. Sometimes we can lift up someone even when we are also down! Give it a try, you'll be amazed how much better you'll feel in return! God bless each one of you, praying your spirits can be lifted and your pains be eased.
Revelation 14:13 "And I heard a voice from heaven say unto me, Write, Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord from henceforth; Yea, saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their labors; and their works do follow them."



Fulfilling Your Role on the Team: Prayer Warriors

by David Maxson

And say to Archippus, “See that you fulfill the ministry that you have received in the Lord.” (Colossians 4:17) 

While most think of football as a game of brute force, it is actually a thinking man’s game. Even the simplest play designed to pick up a few yards may depend on sophisticated blocking schemes. If even one lineman misses an assignment the play fails. Football depends on all eleven players executing their position correctly on every play for the team to succeed.

At the end of the Colossian letter, Paul notes many of the players on the team: Tychicus, Onesimus, Aristarchus, Mark, Justus, Epaphras, Luke, Demas, and Nymphas. Behind each of these was a story. Some, like Mark, had let the team down in the past (Acts 15:36-41). Others, like Demas, would let the team down in the future (2 Timothy 4:10). But each of these had unique abilities from God, and each was necessary for success.

The final admonition is to Archippus that he would fulfill his ministry. We aren’t told what this was, but whatever it was it was necessary to their success. Paul simply says to him, “We need you to do your part.”

Getting God onto the Field
Paul spends more time speaking of Epaphras than anyone else. He is apparently the one who started the work in Colosse (perhaps in Laodicea and Hierapolis as well) and he has given Paul the report of their “love in the Spirit” (Colossians 1:7-8).

Part of Epaphras’ ministry was prayer:

Epaphras, who is one of you, a bondservant of Christ, greets you, always laboring fervently for you in prayers, that you may stand perfect and complete in all the will of God.  Colossians 4:12

Epaphras was a true “Prayer Warrior.” His prayers were not occasional and inconsistent, but were constant (“always” praying for them). His prayers were not mechanical and without purpose, but were intense (“laboring fervently” for them).

It causes one to wonder, when you consider our prayers, whether we see things as Epaphras did. Sure, we pray but it is often more out of habit than out of need. We have our “opening” prayer and our “closing” prayer but it means little else. God is brought into the stadium, and may even be given the best seat, but He isn’t invited onto the field of play. We have our work and our plans and our initiatives, but we fail to see the necessity of earnestly petitioning God to get involved in what we’re doing.

“I guess all we can do now is pray.” That’s what we say when something is hopeless, and what we mean by “hopeless” is that there is nothing else we can do. We’ve exhausted all of our resources and done everything we can possibly do, and so we turn (in deep despair) to God.

Epaphras didn’t view God as the One we turn to only when all of our best efforts have failed. He didn’t see himself as the Lone Ranger, but prayed fervently believing that “we are God’s fellow workers” (1 Corinthians 3:9). Prayer was not an afterthought, but rather he remained constant in prayer believing “that men always ought to pray and not lose heart” (Luke 18:1). Prayer was no mere ritual, but as the battle became more intense, he lifted up his hands to God (as Moses did, Ex 17:8-13) trusting that “the LORD does not save with sword and spear; for the battle is the LORD’s” (1 Samuel 17:47).

That’s how Epaphras viewed prayer.

Prayer Warriors: You are Needed
But now let’s go back to Archippus. What was he being called to do? What was the ministry he had received in the Lord? What were his special gifts from God? Was he a powerful preacher like Apollos? Was he an exhorter like Barnabas? Was he a great leader like James? Did he own a business like Lydia and have resources?

Or could his gift have been prayer like Epaphras?

If you’re thinking Paul wouldn’t have wasted his ink on something so insignificant, think again. In Paul’s famous discourse on the armor of God, the climactic conclusion exhorts,

praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints  Ephesians 6:18

We read stories in our Bibles of when God’s people would go out to battle without Him. They, in their pride, thought they could get along just fine without Him. “How ridiculous,” we say, “those foolish Israelites never learned.”

Yet we are no different. We fight valiantly with blood, sweat, and tears, but we keep losing! Do we not know why? It may be that all we need is more “Prayer Warriors” like Epaphras to invite God into the fray.

Every player on the team counts. No player here is dispensable, least of all those who pray.

Can we count on you?


 Traveling on my Knees

Last night I took a journey
To a land across the seas.
I didn't go by ship or plane
I traveled on my knees.

I saw so many people there
In bondage to their sin,
And Jesus told me I should go,
That there were souls to win.

But I said "Jesus, I can't go
To lands across the seas."
He answered quickly, "Yes, you can
By traveling on your knees."

He said, "You pray, I'll meet the need.
You call, and I will hear.
It's up to you to be concerned
For lost souls far and near."

And so I did; knelt in prayer,
Gave up some hours of ease,
And with the Savior by my side,
I traveled on my knees.

As I prayed on, I saw souls saved
And twisted persons healed,
I saw God's workers strength renewed
While laboring in the field.

I said, "Yes Lord, I'll take the job.
Your heart I want to please.
I'll heed Your call and swiftly go
By traveling on my knees."

- Sandra Goodwin


But I Didn't

Do you ever think at close of day
Of kindly words you meant to say--
But didn't?
Do you ever think when day is done
Of errands kind you could have run--
But didn't?
Do you ever think at daytime's leave
Of flowers gay you meant to give--
But didn't?
Do you ever think when skies are red
Of hungry mouths you could have fed--
But didn't?
Do you ever think at dawn of night
Of letters kind you meant to write--
But didn't?
Friend, do you think at life's set of sun
You'll think of deeds you could have done--
But didn't?

Kathryn Thorne Bowsher


Butterfly Wishes

Yesterday a butterfly
Came floating gently through the sky.
He soared up through the atmosphere
Then drifted close enough to hear.

I said, "I'd love to fly with you
And sail around the way you do.
It looks like it would be such fun
To fly up toward the summer sun.

But I have not your graceful charm.
I haven't wings, just these two arms.
I've been designed to walk around.
My human feet must touch the ground.

Then magically he spoke to me
and told me what his wish would be.

He said, "What I'd love most to do
Is walk upon God's Earth with you,
To squish it's mud between my toes
Or touch my finger to my nose.

I'd love just once to walk around
With human feet to touch the ground,
But I have not two legs that swing,
I haven't arms, just these two wings."

And so we went our separate ways
In wonder and surprise.
For we'd both seen God's precious gifts
Through someone else's eyes.

Author Unknown


People Liked Him

People liked him, not because
He was rich or known to fame;
He had never won applause
As a star in any game

His was not a brilliant style,
His was not a forceful way,
But he had a gentle smile
And a kindly word to say

Never arrogant or proud,
On he went with manner mild;
Never quarrelsome or loud,
Just as simple as a child

Honest, patient, brave and true:
Thus he lived from day to day,
Doing what he found to do
In a cheerful sort of way

Wasn't one to boast of gold
Or belittle it with sneers,
Didn't change from hot to cold,
Kept his friends throughout the years

Sort of man you like to meet
Any time or any place
There was always something sweet
And refreshing in his face

Sort of man you'd like to be:
Balanced well and truly square;
Patient in adversity,
Generous when his skies were fair

Never lied to friend or foe,
Never rash in word or deed,
Quick to come and slow to go
In a neighbor's time of need

Never rose to wealth or fame,
Simply lived, and simply died,
But the passing of his name
Left a sorrow, far and wide

Not for glory he'd attained,
Nor for what he had of pelf,
Were the friends that he had gained,
But for what he was himself

by Edgar A. Guest



"Where would we be if God helped us in the same manner some brethren 'help' others?"

Am I My Brother’s Keeper?

by Steven Harper

You may be familiar with the story in which the title for today's article was spoken, and probably just as familiar with its popular usage today. In the Bible story, Cain had killed his brother Abel and God said to Cain, “Where is Abel your brother?” (Genesis 4:9). Cain's reply was this familiar statement and question: “I do not know; am I my brother’s keeper?” (Genesis 4:10). If the cold-hearted attitude of Cain was not already evident by the murder he had committed, it was surely manifested in his reply to God! As the question is used today, it is usually used as a reply to someone who has asked about the condition or situation of someone else, and is meant to imply that the respondent has no responsibility towards the one in question [who may literally be a brother, or at least a brother in Christ]. And when it is used, there is an underlying resentment that someone would even think we had any responsibility towards this one.

    When Cain uttered those now-familiar words, he demonstrated the ultimate in apathy, basically saying, "I don't know and I don't care." It is no different today when disciples of Jesus Christ have this same attitude towards their own brethren! Surely we cannot imagine Jesus ever uttering these words, right? Did Jesus ever demonstrate a lack of concern for others — no matter what their condition or how they got there? If anything, we see Jesus welcomed the potential interaction with — and welcomed an opportunity to care for — others. At no time do we see Jesus turning people away because He simply did not care for them and their condition. Never did He say, "That's not my responsibility."

    Within the religious world, there are some who see their faith as theirs alone and one that does not seem to actually involve contact or any sort of interaction with others; they are cold and apathetic towards others, and even in cases where they could easily help out a brother or sister in need, all they can see is the other person's individual responsibility for his own situation and, thus, his personal responsibility to correct it or solve whatever problems have resulted. In so doing, those who refuse to act fail to see their own personal responsibility for helping him! The difficult part in this is getting them to see that the very thing they are demanding of others is being ignored by self! While they coldly demand that the one who 'got himself into trouble' somehow extract himself from the situation, the cold-hearted one fails to remember that Jesus has commanded us to help those in need and give without expecting anything in return (cf. Matthew 5:40-42), and has forgotten the rhetorical question of the apostle John, who asked, “But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him?” (I John 3:17). The answer to that rhetorical question should be obvious: it does not! And in both of these texts, it should be clear that when others are in need, we all have an individual responsibility to help them.

    Let us note that those passages are also unqualified commands and statements. Jesus did not say we should give our cloak if we think they are worthy, or only if their previous coat was not lost because of their own carelessness, or only if they have tried to get a job to earn money to buy their own cloak; John was not implying that we should help our brother in need only if we think they deserve it, or only if their need did not come because of poor choices, or only if they have gone to government agencies first. God expects us to help others in the same way He has helped us: with grace and mercy — and towards all men.

    Think about that for just a minute: Where would we be if God helped us in the same manner some brethren 'help' others? Can you imagine God looking at man's spiritual condition and saying to Himself, "Now why should I help them? They got themselves into that situation on their own — they can get themselves out of it!"? And if we sinned more than once after we obeyed the gospel, He would sternly chastise us and set tougher restrictions and higher demands before He would act to forgive us next time. He might even simply refuse after so many times, angry because we keep getting into trouble and He has to keep getting us out. Doesn't it sound ridiculous when we apply human actions to God? It should!

    Though the Scriptures are plain about our responsibility toward our brethren, some brethren approach their needy brethren with an attitude that our faith should follow the 'American spirit of rugged individualism' that preaches a message of stubborn self-reliance and a refusal to accept help or charity from others unless they have lost both arms and at least one leg. Those who live with this attitude are not content to personally live this way, but steadfastly believe everyone else should, too; so when someone is in need, the first thought that comes to mind is, 'He got himself into that mess, and he needs to get himself out of it!' Help is offered only begrudgingly, and even that is often a bare minimum of help that is offered. Often, too, it is a matter of seeking to place blame first and finding solutions later. Surely we can do better than this!

    What is missing in those who act so parsimoniously with their help is evident: compassion. Maybe it is the brother who grew up and was what many call 'a self-made man'; because he had a good home life and because he was successful in much of what he has done, he believes that everyone else should have the same successes he had and should have made the same wise choices he did; maybe it is the sister who has a good husband and family who believes the woman who is in a struggling marriage is somehow at fault because her husband has become worldly and is about to leave her for another woman; maybe it is the older woman who has raised godly children who looks contemptuously at the young parents who are struggling to keep the world out of their children and their children out of the world — and are losing. In each of these cases, what is needed is compassion and concern — not a reprimand.

    A couple comes to you, telling you they have marital problems; how do you respond? A mother comes to you who is afraid she has lost her daughter to the world; how do you respond? A man comes to you telling you he has a problem with gambling or alcohol or pornography; how do you respond? A brother or sister comes to you in need of some temporary financial support; how do you respond? In each of these cases, do you say 'It's not my responsibility' or do you show compassion? Yes [of course], spiritual guidance and Scripture should be given, but let us not be so keen on pointing out past errors and the corrective texts that we forget compassion and mercy. That was a major fault of the Pharisees (cf. Matthew 23:4, 14, 23).

    In all cases where God gave His people instruction as to how they were to treat or respond to those in need, there was nothing stated about finding out how they came to be in need; that is not the point! Yes, some brethren will make bad choices and end up in financial need; they still need our help. Yes, some brethren will make bad choices and put themselves in spiritual danger because of unlawful marriages; they still need our help. And, yes, sometimes, parents will not train their children as they should and they will suffer the inevitable consequences later; they still need our help.

    Am I my brother's keeper? Yes, I am. And so are you. Knowing this, let us resolve to be less judgmental or apathetic towards our own brethren — even in times when we think they are undeserving of our time or resources. None of us deserved the spiritual help God gave us, yet He was willing to give His Son for us.


But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you. Matthew 5:44

Loving Someone You Can't Stand

Alan Smith

Doctor: "I see you're over a month late for your appointment. Don't you know that nervous disorders require prompt and regular attention? What's your excuse?"

Patient: "I was just following your orders, Doc."

Doctor: "Following my orders? What are you talking about? I gave you no such order."

Patient: "You told me to avoid people who irritate me."

Unfortunately, we don’t always have the option of avoiding people who irritate, people who hurt us, people who offend us. In fact, sometimes those who irritate us the most are found right in our home (or in our church building). So how should we deal with them?

Milton Jones has written a wonderful book entitled “How to Love Someone You Can’t Stand” which I highly recommend (you can find it at In this book, Jones lists six godly principles which are derived from Romans 12:

(1) Manage Your mouth -- Bless and don't curse (Rom. 12:14)

(2) Put yourself in the other person's place and try to understand their feelings, thoughts and position (Rom. 12:15)

(3) Never, never, never take revenge (Rom. 12:17)

(4) Plan ahead to do something beautiful (Rom. 12:17)

(5) Don't just win the war, win the peace (Rom. 12:18)

(6) Make room for God (Rom. 12:19)

The bottom line is that we do not overcome evil with evil by retaliating and seeking to "get even". The only way to overcome evil is with good (Rom. 12:21). It is never easy to respond to those who do us wrong in a way that is godly, but it is only by following the example of Jesus Christ that we can truly have an influence on the world around us.

"But when you do good and suffer, if you take it patiently, this is commendable before God. For to this you were called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps..." (I Peter 2:19-20)

Have a great day!



All of us have received email stories and messages that we believed were encouraging and we forwarded them to our list of friends. But have you ever received an email story that contained bad language or unscriptural teaching but you liked the story and forwarded it anyway? After-all those "petty" things don't make a difference, you just want to share the gist of the story? Perhaps a Christian you consider strong in the faith sent it to you, originally, and while you may be surprised this person sent it, you take the reasoning that since a strong Christian sent it, it must be Okay and, therefore, you click forward.

Have you ever received a funny joke that bordered on indecency and concluded it's not altogether indecent, so it's Okay to forward. If your "click forward" finger is quick on the draw, then this article is for you.


Before You Click "Forward"

by Bryan Matthew Dockens

Before forwarding that next e-mail, consider the following:

Is It Morally Correct?

Inasmuch as "A merry heart makes a cheerful countenance" (Proverbs 15:13), it is nice to send and receive jokes and humorous stories, but care must be exercised in doing so. The Scriptures describe "coarse jesting" as behavior that should "not even be named among you, as is fitting for saints" (Ephesians 5:3-4). If it contains sexual humor, thus trivializing sin (I Corinthians 6:18; I Thessalonians 4:3-4), it is coarse and should not be forwarded. If it contains "filthy language" (Colossians 3:8) it is likewise coarse and should not be forwarded. If the joke itself is harmless, but contains gratuitous profanity, just delete the offensive words before sending it.

Is It Factually Correct?

Remember that "Lying lips are an abomination to the Lord, but those who deal truthfully are His delight" (Proverbs 12:22). If you are less than certain that the information received is accurate, then verify it before sending it on. Websites like exist for the single purpose of vetting rumors and urban legends. Information that cannot be validated is not worth sharing. This is especially important when the content is critical of another because "whoever spreads slander is a fool" (Proverbs 10:18).

Is It Scripturally Correct?

If the message on your screen mentions God, prayer, miracles, or the antichrist, do yourself and everyone else a favor: back it up with book, chapter, and verse (II John 9; Revelation 22:18-19). Otherwise, don't send it because what you share may lead others astray (James 3:1).



"random act of kindness "

Definition of random: a haphazard course — at random : without definite aim, direction, rule, or method. -Webster Merriam online dictionary


A random act of kindness is a selfless act performed by a person or persons wishing to either assist or cheer up an individual or in some cases an animal. There will generally be no reason other than to make people smile, or be happier. Either spontaneous or planned in advance, random acts of kindness are encouraged by various communities. An oft-cited example of a random act of kindness is, when paying the toll at a toll booth on a highway, to pay the toll for the vehicle behind you as well. -wikipedia


"Eleven years after the phrase was first coined, but only a few weeks after Oprah latched onto it, the notion of "random acts of kindness" spread beyond the Berkeley hippies who invented it and grew into a sprawling network of not-so-random events, clubs and organizations. By 1995 it was a full-blown national movement, crystallized in Random Acts of Kindness Day now celebrated on Feb. 17."  -Sara Minogue from Stategy online magazine

Therein lies the problem of having an idea of something good instead of making it a lifestyle. The idea of a "radom act of kindness" sounds good, but there is a temptation of being pleased with oneself after the kind act is accomplished without actually having a kind heart. There is nothing wrong with doing a spontaneous kind act for another, afterall there is pleasure in making one happy, but true kindness is a way of life. It is reacting kindly in thought, speech, and action.


“Put On … Kindness”

Kyle Campbell

A quarter in an expired parking meter, an anonymous $50 bill to a friend recently out of a job, working one Saturday at a Habitat for Humanity building site, visiting a nursing home -- they are all acts of kindness. But why should kind behaviors be random? Anyone will be kind occasionally. Shouldn’t people be able to count on your kindness rather than be surprised by it? Kindness is a defining feature of someone who follows Jesus Christ (Colossians 3:12). It is part of what Galatians 5:22-23 calls the “fruit of the Spirit.” According to 1 Corinthians 13, it is a behavior that displays God’s love. The people you come in contact with want you to be kind to them this week. Friends and family need your kindness even more. Let them learn you can be counted on for kindness. Make it your standard operating procedure for the week. Better yet, let it be a lifestyle pattern.

That in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. Eph. 2:7

For we also once were foolish ourselves, disobedient, deceived, enslaved to various lusts and pleasures, spending our life in malice and envy, hateful, hating one another. But when the kindness of God our Savior and His love for mankind appeared, He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out upon us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by His grace we would be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life. Tit. 3:3-7

What is desired in a man is kindness, Prov. 19:22

She opens her mouth with wisdom, And on her tongue is the law of kindness. Prov. 31:26

He has told you, O man, what is good;And what does the LORD require of you But to do justice, to love kindness, And to walk humbly with your God? Micah 6:8

Thus has the LORD of hosts said, 'Dispense true justice and practice kindness and compassion each to his brother; and do not oppress the widow or the orphan, the stranger or the poor; and do not devise evil in your hearts against one another.' Zechariah 7:9-10

So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience; bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you. Beyond all these things put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity. Col. 3:12-14


Throw out the lifeline, throw out the lifeline, someone is sinking today”
- Edward Smith Ufford

“Giving is so often thought of in terms of the things we give, but our greatest giving is of our time, and kindness, and even comfort for those who need it. We look on these gifts as unimportant – until we need them.”
- Joyce Sequichie Hifler

"If you have not often felt the joy of doing a kind act, you have neglected much, and most of all yourself"
- A. Neilen

"I expect to pass through this world but once. Any good therefore that I can do, or any kindness that I can show to any fellow creature, let me do it now.  Let me not defer or neglect it, for I shall not pass this way again"
- William Penn



Does illness, caregiving duties, raising young children, or other situations or trials get in your way of teaching and serving others? It doesn't have to. No matter what your situation, when you come in contact with others, let your light shine and spend your salt around. We can always teach and serve others by our example of kindness, faith, love, humility, and praise to God. I get distracted sometimes and forget to mention God to those in the world and before I know it, someone in the world has brought up God and the blessings through our Lord. It is a shame to me that I didn't think to do so myself. Salt and light are always needed in this world, coupled with love and truth. pg

 .What the World Needs Now

Kyle Campbell

We live in a needy world. People who are hurting because of sorrow, people are caught in the bondage of sin, people are living in guilt, and people have no hope for going to Heaven. So what does the world need?

There was a song that was popular back in 1965 that said, “What the world needs now, is love, sweet love.” This is nice sentiment, and while sometimes love does help, it does not solve society’s problems. What the world does need is salt and light (Matthew 5:13-16). Salt is a preservative and a spice. The world needs some sort of salt to slow down the rot and decay of sin and it needs salt to give it the flavor of hope, forgiveness and righteousness. Light allows people to see and function. This world is dark with sin and sorrow. We need light to help it to see clearly and to give it hope.

There is a privilege of being salt and light. If you are a Christian, you are a disciple or a follower. You are salt and light and you can help slow down the rot and decay of this whole world by your righteous living. Non-Christians will also see your level of commitment to Christ, your compassion, your love for people, your righteous living as a refreshing spice and welcome illumination to an otherwise drab existence. Jesus has given you two privileges. As salt He allows you to make people thirsty for Christ. As light He allows you to beam Christ to the world that needs Him.

There is also a problem with being salt and light. Technically, salt does not lose its saltiness. However, salt in the days of Jesus was not always pure salt. The salt was diluted with other substances and lost its saltiness. If we our lives are diluted with the affairs of this world we will lose our saltiness for Christ (1 John 2:15-17). Furthermore, light is designed to shine. At night when the lamps were lit in the homes in Palestine, the city was visible because they were often situated on hills. Christians all too often hide their light by acting like the world. The world will not want what you have if you appear to be just like them.

Finally, we must realize the priority of being salt and light. I have found that all of us have priorities. When our priorities are right, we will want to be salty and live righteous lives. You will make people want what you have. When our priorities are right, we will want our lights to shine. Our lights will shine as the scriptures produce love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness and self control in us.

Can you be salt and light? You must be willing to fulfill God’s expectations by following His commands. Would the Lord be pleased with you in your current example of righteousness and faithfulness?


November 2017