The Power of Kindness

May 7, 2022 by  
Filed under Daily Devotions

By Rosemary Flaaten –

Holding the door for the young mom pushing a stroller and keeping two toddlers in tow.

Waiting with uncommon patience while the clerk looks up the produce code for my purchase of artichokes.

Sitting with a young couple as they wait for their one year old daughter to return from having a cancerous tumour removed in surgery.

Stocking the pantry with food my teenage son’s friends can devour as they hang out at our home.

Complimenting an elderly woman that she looks like a million bucks in her fur-collared coat.

Acts of kindness.

I’ve been on a mission this spring to be the purveyor of kindness. A purveyor is someone who provides, supplies or makes available. My mission has been to ooze with kindness, to seek out opportunities to show kindness and to do so to a variety of people.

On the days that it seems easy to show kindness to the total stranger at the grocery store, it proves a struggle to come home and speak kindly to the loafing family member. Other times, I’m unwittingly overlooking the person beside me and their need for a kind gesture in favour of a self-absorption that doesn’t allow me to look past the end of my own nose.

To live out the commandment found in Mark 12:30 to love the Lord my God with all my heart, mind, soul and strength I must love my neighbour as myself. The age old question of delineating who might fall into the category of neighbour was fully explained when God became Incarnate and moved into our neighbourhood even though our neighbourhood was characterized by hostility and abandonment. God chose us as His neighbour and He showered us with kindness and love.

Kindness is the quality of compassion and generosity. It’s what spills out of us when we’re filled with God’s Spirit. It cannot be manufactured but it can be practiced. Choosing to discipline ourselves to be someone who seeks out opportunities to show acts of kindness will impact three realms:
1) it’s an act of worship to the God who acted kindly to us
2) it will impact the recipient – who knows how God might use that act of kindness to draw that person to Himself?
3) we’re blessed through obedience –“It is a sin to despise one’s neighbor,
but blessed is the one who is kind to the needy” (Proverbs 14:21 NIV).

Prayer: Lord, gives us eyes that are like Yours so that we might see the needs of people around us and a heart like Yours to be purveyors of kindness.

“Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you” (Ephesians 4:32 NIV).

The Fourth Grade Sack Race

April 12, 2022 by  
Filed under Daily Devotions

By Rosemary Flaaten –

I once had a first year college student tell me that everything he was learning in my class on Spiritual Formation he had learned in fourth grade Sunday School. I have to admit, for a fleeting minute, I seriously contemplated giving him a big fat “F” on his next assignment, simply for having a lousy attitude. But as I got past my self-righteousness, I wondered how often God must witness a similar attitude emanating from me.

“God, haven’t I been down this road before?”
“How much longer do I to have to put up with this cantankerous boss?”
“Why is this happening to me again?”

Life is like a spiral where we come around to the same spot with the same issues and often even with the same people. But if we allow it, that spiral will take us deeper into the issue affording us the opportunity to grow in our understanding and relationship with God and in our self-awareness. John Calvin, and a number of other writers, purported that as we come to know God we will come to know ourselves and that as we come to know ourselves more fully, our understanding of God will expand.

Our Christian walk is described by Paul as a race that we run. If we take the approach to my college friend’s statement, my response to Paul would be “I ran sack races in fourth grade, why do I need to go for a run today? After all, I’m smarter now so there must be some new way of working my muscles and training my body.” But running a race involves continual training. My race will be stunted if my present workout resembles my childhood sack race.

The exercises of spiritual formation, such as a variety of spiritual disciplines, are not new but in order to have a robust faith, we must allow the Holy Spirit to push the spiral deeper into our lives to create training that makes us more like Christ. Let us not resist the needed repetition but rather embrace it as the opportunity for maturity.

Prayer: Lord, help me to have the heart of a learner that is open to your guidance and instruction.

“…let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith…” (Hebrews 12:1-2 NIV).

Restored Relationships

March 26, 2022 by  
Filed under Daily Devotions

By Rosemary Flaaten –

Do you find yourself wishing your friendships could be authentic and loving? Do you wish you could forgive your parents and siblings? Do you long to know how to relate to your husband and children? Do you damn yourself for the choices you’ve made?

How do we bring about change in the way we relate to others? Do we just try harder? Do we give more and more of ourselves to a seemingly bottomless pit of relational need? Do we give less of ourselves, becoming more guarded and controlling? I could give you some quick tips to improve your relationships, but doing so would be like giving you a Band-Aid for terminal cancer. To get to the root of the problem in our relationships, we must have them connected to our most basic relationship: the relationship with our Creator.

Imagine arranging thousands of tiny pieces in straight lines. As soon as we get one line neatly placed, we bump the table, and are forced to start over. Over and over we try to get everything lined up, but even our best efforts do not produce the outcome we desire. Does this frustration sound like our attempts to improve our relationships?

Now imagine what would happen if those pieces were brought in contact with a magnet. The pieces would quickly line up and order would be created. So it is with life and relationships. Putting God at the center of our lives, through a surrendered heart, aligns our relationships, transforming chaos into order.

Only as we allow God to bring about heart change will we relate differently to others. Our relationships will be transformed as we’re filled up with love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. None of these are qualities we can manufacture on our own. We need God to fill us with His character.

Prayer: Forgive me for trying to fix my relationships on my own. Help me to open my heart to You so that what flows out of me is Your character, O Father.

“Those who think they can do it on their own end up obsessed with measuring their own moral muscle but never get around to exercising it in real life. Those who trust God’s action in them find that God’s Spirit is in them – living and breathing God! Obsession with self in these matters is a dead end; attention to God leads us out into the open, into a spacious free life” (Romans 8:5-7 The Message).

The Missing Metaphor

January 8, 2022 by  
Filed under Daily Devotions

By Rosemary Flaaten –

Using the word “as” indicates a simile which, according to my fourth grade teacher, is a figure of speech similar to metaphors. In both cases, one thing is explicitly compared to another to suggest a resemblance. While reading a familiar Psalm, I was struck by my propensity to miss this two letter word and in doing so I missed a very important comparison.

The Psalmist David starts Psalm 63 by verbalizing how his soul hungers for God as if he has an unquenchable longing for God. Verse five goes on to say “ My soul will be satisfied as with the richest of foods” (NIV). It was this verse that stopped me in my tracks and made me realize that not only had I misread this verse but I was living out my mistake.

Loneliness, sadness or discontent are fed with chocolate and Doritos in an attempt to soothe. The tyranny of my emotions is like hungry lions and I try to placate those emotions with succulent food. The problem is that my soul was not created to be satisfied with food. The deep needs of my soul need to be met with the life giving sustenance of my heavenly Father’s love and grace, not sugar and salt. By extracting the word “as” from Psalm 63:5, I had chosen to attempt to satisfy my emotional needs with the richest of foods.

This has made me wonder how many other tangible things I have attempted to use to satisfy the spiritual needs of my soul. Have I attempted to use relationships to feel satisfied? How about shopping? vacations? accomplishments? None of these things are wrong in and of themselves but trying to feed them to my soul to create spiritual and emotional satisfaction is pointless.

By putting back the metaphor into this verse, my emotional needs will be met through a dependency on God which will have the same effect as feeding my physical body the food it needs.

PRAYER: Lord, forgive me for replacing your presence with temporary created things. Help me to keep You in first place, allowing You to fill and satisfy me as only You can.

Psalm 63:1,5 “You, God, are my God, earnestly I seek you; I thirst for you, my whole being longs for you, in a dry and parched land where there is no water. I will be fully satisfied as with the richest of foods. (Psalm 63:1,5 NIV)

Hidden in our Hands

November 18, 2021 by  
Filed under Daily Devotions, Worship

Rosemary Flaaten –

Take a look at your hands. What do you see? Is your skin soft and supple? Do you have callouses from years of hard work? Are they petite and well groomed? Are they broad and muscular?

These upper extremities are a part of our body often taken for granted. We use our hands to wash dishes, send a text message, stroke our child’s hair and entwine our lover’s hand. With our hands we have the opportunity to communicate love, abuse or control.

Jesus used his hands to bless people and to make them feel welcome in His presence. When He placed his hands on people they were healed of their infirmities. Jesus’ hands were a conduit of his Father’s power and peace.

The Psalmist declared, “Hidden in the hands of Moses and Aaron, You led your people like a flock of sheep”. (Psalm 77:20 TM) God used the hands of Moses and Aaron to infuse His power. These two men simply became the channel through which the Most High God passed on the clarity of His will, His power and His love. God used their hands to bless others.

Are you allowing God to use your hands? Are your hands, whether petite or enormous, silky or rough, being employed as an instrument of God’s love? Do people feel touched by the breath of God in your presence? As people who have a personal relationship with Christ, we have hidden in our hands the presence of God. Think of the responsibility. Think of the potential.

What’s hidden in your hands? Take a look at your hands and renew your commitment to use them for His glory.

PRAYER: Dear Father, infuse my hands so that they may be a conduit of Your love and blessings. Amen.

Quote: “Take my hands, and let them move at the impulse of Thy love.” (Hymn – Take My Life and Let It Be by Frances R. Havergal)

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