Compassion: 10 Ways to Help People in Crisis

Compassion: 10 Ways to Help People in Crisis

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1. Be there! Even better than sound advice or financial aid is the physical presence of someone who is genuinely concerned.

2. Listen! It’s important that people in crisis are able to verbalize their story. It helps them process the situation – mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. Encourage delaying any non-essential decisions until crisis has passed … There is one who speaks rashly like the thrusts of a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing. ~ Proverbs 12:18.

3. Don’t take any rash statements or harsh words too seriously. People in crisis often vent emotional stress in the most convenient direction. Don’t react, respond in love … Love is patient, love is kind. ~1 Corinthians 13:4

4. Know when to back off! Often, well-intentioned expressions of concern can cross emotional and practical boundaries. Watch for subtle signals that it may be time to give the person in crisis some space … The plans of the heart belong to man, But the answer of the tongue is from the Lord. ~Proverbs 16:1

5. Pray and alert others to pray too! In addition to the supernatural power of prayer, people in crisis often find great comfort in knowing that they’re being prayed for … pray for one another, so that you may be healed. The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much. ~James 5:16

6. Find practical ways, however small, to help the person in crisis maintain routine functions. Simple things like bringing meals, doing laundry, taking the kids to soccer practice, etc. relieve enormous pressure during difficult times … And do not neglect doing good and sharing; for with such sacrifices God is pleased. ~Hebrews 13:16

7. Help the person in crisis maintain a realistic perspective. People in crisis are often overwhelmed by their situation. Remind them of life’s truly important issues and help them weigh their situation in the light of a realistic, eternal perspective.

8. Link them with helpful resources. People in crisis often don’t think clearly. Be an objective third party who can point to crisis agencies, clergy or other assistance.

9. Don’t think you’re not needed just because the crisis has passed. Crisis situations often have long-term consequences. Make yourself available for continuing care and concern.

10. What would Jesus do? Jesus encountered people in crisis regularly. Examine Scripture to glean wisdom from His example.

Your Own Worst Critic?

Your Own Worst Critic?

My dear children, let’s not just talk about love; let’s practice real love. This is the only way we’ll know we’re living truly, living in God’s reality. It’s also the way to shut down debilitating  self-criticism, even when there is something to it. For God is greater than our worried hearts and knows more about us than we do ourselves. And friends, once that’s taken care of and we’re no longer accusing or condemning ourselves, we’re bold and free before God! – 1 John 3:18-21 MSG

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Are you your own worst critic? And in response to that criticism, are you constantly trying to transform yourself into a person who meets society’s expectations, but not God’s expectations? If so, it’s time to become a little more understanding of the person you see whenever you look into the mirror.

Being patient with other people can be difficult. But sometimes, we find it even more difficult to be patient with ourselves. We have high expectations and lofty goals. We want to receive God’s blessings now, not later. And, of course, we want our lives to unfold according to our own wishes and our own timetables—not God’s. Yet throughout the Bible, we are instructed that patience is the companion of wisdom. Proverbs 16:32 teaches us that “Patience is better than strength” (NCV). God’s message, then, is clear: we must be patient with all people—including ourselves.

The Bible affirms the importance of self-acceptance by exhorting believers to love others as they love themselves (Matthew 22:37-40). Furthermore, the Bible teaches that when we genuinely open our hearts to Him, God accepts us just as we are. And, if He accepts us—faults and all—then who are we to believe otherwise?

The great freedom Jesus gives us is to be ourselves, defined by His love and our inner qualities and gifts rather than by any kind of show we put on for the world. ~Leslie Williams

Being loved by Him whose opinion matters most gives us the security to risk loving, too—even loving ourselves.    ~Gloria Gaither

TODAY’S PRAYER
Lord, I have so much to learn and so many ways to improve myself, but You love me just as I am. Thank You for Your love and for Your Son. And, help me to become the person that You want me to become. Amen

Cheerfulness 101

Cheerfulness 101

Every day is hard for those who suffer, but a happy heart is like a continual feast.Proverbs 15:15 NCV

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Cheerfulness is a wonderful antidote to stress. And, as believers who have been saved by a risen Christ, why shouldn’t we be cheerful? The answer, of course, is that we have every reason to honor our Savior with joy in our hearts, smiles on our faces, and words of celebration on our lips.

Christ promises us lives of abundance and joy if we accept His love and His grace. Yet sometimes, even the most righteous among us are beset by fits of ill temper and frustration. During these moments, we may not feel like turning our thoughts and prayers to Christ, but that’s precisely what we should do. When we do so, we simply can’t stay grumpy for long.

Cheerfulness prepares a glorious mind for all the noblest acts of religion—love, adoration, praise, and every union with our God. ~St. Elizabeth Ann Seton

It is not fitting, when one is in God’s service, to have a gloomy face or a chilling look.   ~St. Francis of Assisi

God is good, and heaven is forever. And if those two facts don’t cheer you up, nothing will.    ~Marie T. Freeman

When we bring sunshine into the lives of others, we’re warmed by it ourselves. ~Barbara Johnson

TODAY’S PRAYER
Dear Lord, You have given me so many reasons to be happy, and I want to be a cheerful Christian. Today and every day, I will do my best to share my happiness with my family and my friends. Amen

10 Do’s and Don’ts for Dads

Ten Dos and Don’ts for Dads

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1. Connect before you correct.
Part of every Dad’s role is to bring a healthy sense of structure and discipline to the family. Communicating with your child, which includes listening to their “side” of the issue, is a key first step in successful, loving discipline.

2. Be there.
One of the great myths is that a little “quality” time makes up for a substantial “quantity” of time. Going to school, sporting and other events is a big deal! It says – “I have your best interests at the center of my heart” to your child. Don’t think only about your own affairs, but be interested in others, too, and what they are doing. ~ Philippians 2:4

3. Express love often.
Kids (especially pre-teens and teens) act like they don’t want their parents to “make a fuss” over them. It’s just an act. Kids need hugs and kisses … affirm them at every opportunity.

4. Phony, macho men are only heroes in the movies.
Real Dads aren’t perfect. You can be a hero to your children if you open your heart to them and admit when you’ve made mistakes. They have an enormous capacity to forgive and their hearts’ desire is to love and be loved. People who cover over their sins will not prosper. But if they confess and forsake them, they will receive mercy. ~ Proverbs 28:13

5. Never make your child choose between parents.
If you have problems with your wife, don’t try to convince your child that you’re “right” or the “victim.” This causes an emotional split in your child and will ultimately drive him or her further away from you. Confine the adult issues to the adults.

6. Love your wife.
The greatest Dad in the world will minimize the true impact he has on his children if he does not model Godly intimacy in front of his kids. That’s where the cornerstone of their future marriage is laid. Since God chose you to be the holy people whom He loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. You must make allowance for each other’s faults and forgive the person who offends you … And the most important piece of clothing you must wear is love. Love is what binds us all together in perfect harmony. ~ Colossians 3:12-14

7. Be consistent.
When you are consistent in your actions, love and discipline, an environment of safety and security is created. Kids need to know that there are some things they can always count on. Discipline your child while there is hope. If you don’t, you will ruin their lives. ~ Proverbs 19:18

8. Be careful, you’re in the spotlight.
Your kids are watching every move you make. To some extent, their picture of you shapes their picture of their Heavenly Father. You have the opportunity to create a positive, loving image or a confusing and untrustworthy one. Instead, there must be a spiritual renewal of your thoughts and attitudes. You must display a new nature because you are a new person, created in God’s likeness – righteous, holy and true. ~ Ephesians 4:23,24

9. Guard your tongue.
The words you speak to your children can cut like a knife or send them soaring like a rocket. They will remember some things you say in passing for the rest of their lives. Kind words are like honey – sweet to the soul and healthy for the body.
~ Proverbs 16:24

10. Develop Godly character.
Nothing will influence your children more than watching you grow in your relationship with God. You can preach the Gospel by your actions much more effectively than you can by your words. And now, just as you accepted Christ Jesus as your Lord, you must continue to live in obedience to Him. Let your roots grow down into Him and draw up nourishment from Him, so you will grow in faith, strong and vigorous in the truth you were taught. Let your lives overflow with thanksgiving for all He has done. ~ Colossians 2:6,7

For more information on fatherhood and parenthood, consider some of these resources:

How we Love our Kids
Raising Great Kids
Bad Dads of the Bible

 

A Series of Choices

A Series of Choices

The thing you should want most is God’s kingdom and  doing what God wants. Then all these other things you need will be given to you. – Matthew 6:33 NCV

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Your life is a series of choices. From the instant you wake up in the morning until the moment you nod off to sleep at night, you make countless decisions—decisions about the things you do, decisions about the words you speak, and decisions about the way that you choose to direct your thoughts.

As a believer who has been transformed by the love of Jesus, you have every reason to make wise choices. But sometimes, when the stresses of the daily grind threaten to grind you up and spit you out, you may make choices that are displeasing to God. When you do, you’ll pay a price because you’ll forfeit the happiness and the peace that might otherwise have been yours.

So, as you pause to consider the kind of Christian you are—and the kind of Christian you want to become—ask yourself whether you’re sitting on the fence or standing in the light. The choice is yours . . . and so are the consequences.

The greatest choice any man makes is to let God choose for him.   ~Vance Havner

Every step of your life’s journey is a choice . . . and the quality of those choices determines the quality of the journey.   ~Criswell Freeman

Life is pretty much like a cafeteria line—it offers us many choices, both good and bad. The Christian must have a spiritual radar that detects the difference not only between bad and good but also among good, better, and best.    ~Dennis Swanberg

Every day, I find countless opportunities to decide whether I will obey God and demonstrate my love for Him or try to please myself or the world system. God is waiting for my choices.   ~Bill Bright

TODAY’S PRAYER
Heavenly Father, I have many choices to make. Help me choose wisely as I follow in the footsteps of Your only begotten Son. Amen

The Character Building Path: Following His Footsteps

The Character Building Path: Following His Footsteps

Follow Me, Jesus told them, “and I will make you into fishers of men!” Immediately they left their nets and followed Him. Mark 1:17-18 HCSB 

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Jesus walks with you. Are you walking with Him? Hopefully, you will choose to walk with Him today and every day of your life.

Jesus loved you so much that He endured unspeakable humiliation and suffering for you. How will you respond to Christ’s sacrifice? Will you take up His cross and follow Him (Luke 9:23), or will you choose another path? When you place your hopes squarely at the foot of the cross, when you place Jesus squarely at the center of your life, you will be blessed.

The old familiar hymn begins, “What a friend we have in Jesus….” No truer words were ever penned. Jesus is the sovereign Friend and ultimate Savior of mankind. Christ showed enduring love for His believers by willingly sacrificing His own life so that we might have eternal life. Now, it is our turn to become His friend.

Let us love our Savior, let us praise Him, and let us share His message of salvation with the world. When we do, we demonstrate that our acquaintance with the Master is not a passing fancy, but is, instead, the cornerstone and the touchstone of our lives.

Following Christ is a matter of obedience. If you want to be a little more like Jesus . . . learn about His teachings, follow in His footsteps, and obey His commandments.

Imagine the spiritual strength the disciples drew from walking hundreds of miles with Jesus . . . 3 John 4. - John Maxwell 

Our responsibility is to feed from Him, to stay close to Him, to follow Him—because sheep easily go astray—so that we eternally experience the protection and companionship of our Great Shepherd the Lord Jesus Christ. - Franklin Graham 

It’s your heart that Jesus longs for: your will to be made His own with self on the cross forever, and Jesus alone on the throne. Ruth Bell Graham 

 

Walking our Talk

Walking our Talk

So don’t get tired of doing what is good. Don’t get discouraged and give up, for we will reap a harvest of blessing at the appropriate time. - Galatians 6:9 NLT 

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If you’re like most people, you seek the admiration of your neighbors, your coworkers, and your family members. But the eagerness to please others should never overshadow your eagerness to please God. And your desire to impress others should never cause you to compromise your beliefs or to defy your conscience. In short, you must be a “doer of the word” by putting God first. In other words, are you walking your talk of love, grace, peace, mercy and joy?

The words of Matthew 6:33 offer clear instructions for managing your day and your life: “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be provided for you” (HCSB).

Each new day presents countless opportunities to put God in first place . . . or not. When you honor Him by living according to His commandments, you earn the abundance and peace that He promises. But, if you ignore God’s teachings, you’ll pay a price, perhaps a very great price indeed.

Would you like a time-tested formula for successful living? Here it is: Don’t just listen to God’s Word, live by it. Does this sound too simple? Perhaps it is simple, but it is also the only way to reap the marvelous riches that God has in store for you.

Ask yourself if your behavior has been radically changed by your unfolding relationship with God. If the answer to this question is unclear to you—or if the honest answer is a resounding no—think of a single step you can take, a positive change in your life, that will bring you closer to your Creator.

Although God causes all things to work together for good for His children, He still holds us accountable for our behavior. - Kay Arthur   

Either God’s Word keeps you from sin, or sin keeps you from God’s Word. - Corrie ten Boom

There may be no trumpet sound or loud applause when we make a right decision, just a calm sense of resolution and peace. – Gloria Gaither

The temptation of the age is to look good without being good. - Brennan Manning

If we have the true love of God in our hearts, we will show it in our lives. We will not have to go up and down the earth proclaiming it. We will show it in everything we say or do. - D. L. Moody

Redeeming Power Of Love

Faith in God’s transforming power means you have hope in His redeeming love. People struggle to imagine a love that doesn’t regard actions or attitudes’men especially struggle to understand this type of love. Our love is so often a response to the conditions surrounding it that using the word unconditional to describe it, to describe love, seems like an oxymoron.

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But with God, it’s not. God’s love for you is beyond human understanding; you simply can’t grasp it. Yet that doesn’t stop it from transforming your heart, your mind, and your entire life.

It’s hard sometimes to understand how much God loves me or why He loves me. But the idea that He loves those we consider our enemies just doesn’t make any sense at all. Yet that just shows the depth and extent of God’s love.

When you place your hope in a love of such magnitude and manner, you’ll finally see that whatever sin you’ve committed, whatever evil has been done to you, or whatever good thing life has taken from you can be used by God for good.

You can’t redeem your own life. Redemption isn’t pulling yourself up by your own spiritual bootstraps.  Aside from the fact that it’s utterly futile, it doesn’t glorify God. On the contrary, it insults Him. God is ready and willing for you to accept His gracious work of redemption. The only thing He requires is that you receive Jesus Christ with the open hands of faith. It’s a simple act of surrender.

Love Is A Choice

Love is a Choice

This is my command: Love one another the way I loved you. This is the very best way to love. Put your life on the line for your friends. John 15:12-13 MSG

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Love is a choice. Either you choose to behave lovingly toward others . . . or not; either you behave yourself in ways that enhance your relationships . . . or not. But make no mistake: genuine love requires effort. Simply put, if you wish to build lasting relationships, you must be willing to do your part.

Christ’s words are clear: we are to love God first, and secondly, we are to love others as we love ourselves (Matthew 22:37-40). These two commands are seldom easy, and because we are imperfect beings, we often fall short. But God’s Word commands us to try.

The Christian path is an exercise in love and forgiveness. If we are to walk in Christ’s footsteps, we must forgive those who have done us harm, and we must accept Christ’s love by sharing it freely with family, friends, neighbors, and even strangers.

God does not intend for you to experience mediocre relationships; He created you for far greater things. Building lasting relationships requires compassion, wisdom, empathy, kindness, courtesy, and forgiveness. If that sounds a lot like work, it is’which is perfectly fine with God. Why? Because He knows that you are capable of doing that work, and because He knows that the fruits of your labors will enrich the lives of your loved ones and the lives of generations yet unborn.

Do you want love to last? Then you must understand this: Genuine love requires effort. That’s why those who are lazy in love are often losers in love, too!

No man truly has joy unless he lives in love. - Thomas Aquinas

It is when we come to the Lord in our nothingness, our powerlessness and our helplessness that He then enables us to love in a way which, without Him, would be absolutely impossible. - Elisabeth Elliot

Love is extravagant in the price it is willing to pay, the time it is willing to give, the hardships it is willing to endure, and the strength it is willing to spend. Love never thinks in terms of ‘how little,’ but always in terms of ‘how much.’ Love gives, love knows, and love lasts. - Joni Eareckson Tada

To love another person is to see the face of God. - Victor Hugo

Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. - 1 John 4:11 NASB

 

Accepting Yourself

Accepting Yourself

Oh Israel, put your hope in the Lord, for with the Lord is unfailing love and with him is full redemption. Psalm 130:8

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Many people seem to go about life with a kind of bravado . . . bold confidence and self-assurance. The truth, however, is that most of us wish we were different somehow. If only you were as outgoing as Jack . . . if you were as physically fit as Mary . . . if you had the financial sense of Tom . . . a full head of hair like John . . . or the quick wit of Connie. While it’s okay to admire good traits in others, often this desire to be like someone else is actually a form of covetousness, or envy. So, how about learning to accept yourself as God has made you.

Before you can truly accept yourself, however, you need to see the truth about yourself, recognizing both the gifts and the limitations that God’s given you. If you don’t, you will constantly struggle to be someone you’re not.

One way to appreciate how God has made you is to read Psalm 139. The psalmist rejoices, “Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex! Your workmanship is marvelous-and how well I know it.”  (139:14)

Each of us is unique and special . . . embraced and accepted by God himself . . . even though not one of us is perfect. Spiritual renewal cannot begin until you’re willing to accept yourself as God made you. Once you accept the truth about yourself your focus can change . . . and you can bring great glory to God himself. He, after all, is the one who made you, and He is the reason we live.

I am somebody. I am me. I like being me. And I need nobody to make me somebody. – Louis L’Amour

The worst loneliness is to not be comfortable with yourself.- Mark Twain