Wednesday – September 18, 2019
“The one who oppresses the poor shows contempt for their maker, but whoever is kind to the needy honors God.” Proverbs 14:31
A Word of Hope
Do you witness much kindness being practiced on the Internet, television or especially in the social media these days? Certainly there are still kind and thoughtful people in the world, but it seems we live in an era that values and rewards sarcasm, disrespect and outright hate as people banter back and forth about their opinions of the opposing party, their employers or even their long time friends. I click the “Like” button every time I see a post that celebrates life and demonstrates true kindness, but it takes some searching to find the gentle and generous among the detractors.
Certainly the idea of practicing kindness is not a new
one. Both Testaments are packed with quotable quotes about the subject, not
just in the Proverbs but in Books such as Hosea 11.4: “I led them with cords of human kindness, with ties of love.” The Greek Scriptures offers the
wisdom of 1 Thessalonians 5.15:
“Make sure that nobody pays back wrong for wrong, but always try to be kind to each other and to everyone else.” And most of us remember the famous opening of Paul’s definition of love, which begins “Love is patient, love is kind…” (1 Corinthians 13:4).
It would be difficult to find many people who would actively disagree with Paul or the other Scripture writers about the benefits to all in practicing kindness, but did you realize that being kind can actually lengthen your life? Dr. Allan Luks, an executive director of Big Brothers Big Sisters of New York City has written extensively on the subject. He is the author of four books, including The Healing Power of Doing Good, and states, through scientific studies sponsored by The Foundation for a Better Life, that random acts of kindness produce a rush of euphoria, followed by a longer period of calm called a “helper’s high” which involves the release of endorphins, the body’s natural painkillers.
The studies also show that kind acts reverse feelings of depression and decrease the stress that causes overeating, ulcers, and even the constriction in the lungs that leads to asthma attacks. Kindness heals.
May I honor you today by being conscious of the many opportunities you give me to initiate healing acts of kindness among all my neighbors. Amen
Minister for Children and Families
Order of St. Francis and St. Clare
Tuesday – September 17, 2019
The purpose of my instruction is that all believers would be filled with love that comes from a pure heart, a clear conscience, and genuine faith. 1 Timothy 1:5
A Word of Hope
Authenticity. It is what we hope that we hold in our hands when we take the “Ming Dynasty” Vase or “Tiffany” Lamp that we discovered at a garage sale to an antiques appraiser. We paid $25 and pray that they are worth $2500 and not $2.50!
Authenticity is what we long for in politicians but rarely, if ever, find. It is what we hope to find in the person servicing our car, the physician assessing our condition, the minister preaching from the pulpit, the person sharing our journey.
Authenticity comes with vulnerability, and we humans mostly do not enjoy feeling vulnerable. Because we do not realize our sacred worth we often bandage our self-inflicted ego wounds with puffed-up facades. In truth, no one likes a fraud and it burdens us with unhealthy shame when we carry around inflated egos and fake exteriors.
To manage the vulnerability that true authenticity brings it must be accompanied by boundaries that contain us and protect us. We need not over-share (I am guilty here) and so God has given us a filter—if only we will use it! Children, teens and young adults have not yet developed a filter (physiologically speaking) hence the often sheer-honesty of children or not-well-thought-out actions of teens and college students.
Spiritually, when we are grounded in whose we are, our sacred worth, and God’s unconditional love that is NOT based on performance, we can live as authentic human beings because that is what the world needs. People who risk stumbling, falling and have the resiliency to rise back up.
Have confidence and be emotionally/spiritually prepared to protect yourself (that is a boundary, too) from the harsh comments that others may attempt to inflict upon you for being authentic. The world is resistant to too much authenticity. It shines a light of vulnerability on others, who often prefer the shadows.
Gracious One who Loves us all beyond imagining, may we wisely learn to practice healthy authenticity and appropriate vulnerability. May our willingness to be real and, like the Christ, start a transformation of the world. Amen.
Rev. Dr. Gary G. Kindley
Monday – September 16, 2019
Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4.6-7
A Word of Hope
The Bible verse above is always an encouragement to me whenever I approach a new project. I’m in near constant thought of the idea that comes from a thing called the law of attraction. In other words, thoughts become things and we tend to manifest the things that we think about and give our energy to. My co-author friend, Dan, and I were discussing this while outlining our sixth Dragon book. We were both strongly in agreement that Walt Disney was manifesting something better by envisioning Disneyland.
He thought of what an ideal park would be like; where families could gather in a clean and safe environment to build memories, be inspired, be educated; be in a place that he wished for the rest of the world. Back in the 70s, Six Flags Over Texas, borrowing liberally from Disney, used the slogan “Six Flags is what you wish the world could be.”
We continued to ponder this and discovered we both shared an idea that not just our thoughts but also our writing could very well be manifested as reality somewhere in the multiverse. It’s a place where Dragons are wise, compassionate and care about our fragile environment. Disney’s lesson to us was actually “Be the change you wish to see in the world.” The Dragons can teach us this. Don’t just talk about it.
What sort of change do you want to see? You may have an idea or two of how you wish our world could be. I know I have mine. I live out my life every day thinking of the change that can happen just by being the best me I can be on our imperfect Earth. (Mr. Rogers said it best when he told us “Just be the best you that you can be.”) I co-write about invisible Dragons who love and protect the planet and its flawed people, while always giving the course of history a nudge here and there. They are quite satisfied in remaining anonymous, however. Dragons don’t need praise and credit. That’s a human preoccupation they can’t understand.
Ever present God, what conscious change will happen today because of me, whether anyone knows it or not? How does my presence in my part of the world change people and things around me for the better? Help me to remember that I don’t have to manifest a multi-billion dollar theme park or breathe fire to do it.
Order of St. Francis and St. Clare
Friday – September 13, 2019
God has made everything beautiful in its time. God has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end. Ecclesiastes 3:11
A Word of Hope
There are 11 places in the Torah where a letter is written extra-large according to the Encyclopedia Judaica. For example, the first letter in the Torah is a “majuscule” (scribal terminology for extra large.) That makes sense, the beginning of the beginning needs special emphasis. That may be the origin of the illuminated medieval manuscripts. Other majuscules help to avoid confusion where the correct identify of a vowel can make a big difference. But I think the most interesting majuscule is in what we would call Leviticus 9:42. In that verse, one letter is written extra large because it is the central Hebrew letter in all the Torah. (Imagine the counting!)
Do you have a guess what the middle word is? It is “and.” How fitting. It is the most common word, a likely middle word but also a fully appropriate middle word. It is a hinge on which the first half and the second half of the Torah can swing.
There are plenty of “and’s” in our lives, aren’t there? Between our beginnings on one side, the endings on the other side, there is the and. As Rabbi Arthur Segal points out, there are celebrations for beginnings and some – although maybe not enough – for our endings. But what if we noticed and celebrated the “and’s” in our life. Those moments or feelings on which hinge what was and what is to become. They can be eventful moments or a long process. Regardless, God is with us in the “and” times. God takes up residence in between the Alpha and Omega as well as in them.
I love it when people say, “I’m in between jobs” instead of I lost my job. The former is hopeful, it contemplates the arc of time and all that could be. What if we could say I’m in between happiness right now? I’m in between blessings? The word “and” indicates more is coming and with God in our “and’s” we can dream with God of all the beauty and love that is to come.
God of the beginnings, endings and in-between times, bless us in our “and” times. Give us joy in You and . . . all that is to come. Amen.
Thursday – September 12, 2019
“The only people who get upset when you set boundaries are the ones who benefited from you having none.”
A Word of Hope
As queer people, we need boundaries more than many straight people do because we are vulnerable to mistreatment and harm they have never even thought of, much less had to defend themselves against. Whether it’s with family members, friends, society at large, or perfect strangers, boundaries keep us safe. Boundaries give us what we need to be healthy, thriving people who can live for more than just ourselves.
This past weekend, I had to tell certain family members of mine that they will not be at our wedding if they believe our relationship is a sin—that’s just not the kind of folks we want at our wedding on that day. It would make us so much more anxious. It would rob us of the celebration. So we set a boundary. And guess what they said. Just guess. They said what people always say when you put up a boundary: they accuse you of doing something wrong. You become the problem when you change the status quo that has always benefited them while harming you.
Our culture at large is full of this false, destructive idea. Protestors at football games are tagged as “divisive” and “stirring up trouble” or “being disrespectful” just like MLK was. The go-to line of the ones benefitting from the status quo will always be to say we are doing something wrong when we push against and boundary that status quo out of our lives.
And here is the good news. I pray it would soak deep into your bones the way I ask Goddess to place it deep into mine: you are doing nothing wrong when you establish a boundary. You are not the problem. You are healing not only yourself but the world when you establish a boundary. You are praying the words with your life, “Your kindom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” Boundaries are of-God. They give life. The absence of boundaries kills, steals, and destroys.
So hear this good news today: when you set boundaries, you are not the problem. Not. One. Bit. Boundaries are Love.
God of life and love, fill us with truth this day. Set our hearts and minds free of the guilt we feel when we make boundaries. Fill us with the confidence to stand in peace against the anger thrown at us by those who resist our boundaries only because they benefit from the status quo. Mother God, your kindom come, your desire be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Amen.
5910 Cedar Springs Road
Dallas, TX 75235
Toll Free: 800-501-HOPE (4673)