FaithSpring Staff Blog

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Day 13: Yes to Kindness; No to Rudeness

Posted By at Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Wednesday, February 28, 2018
Today we say “Yes” to Kindness and “No” to Rudeness.  Demonstrating Kindness is one of the easiest ways to make a difference in our world.  We live in a world that rarely recognizes it and almost never rewards it, so when Kindness surfaces it is special and memorable.  Showing Kindness doesn’t require much effort or cost any money.  The only thing it takes is an awareness of our surroundings and just a little bit of time.

Take a few moments and think of a recent act of Kindness that may have been demonstrated to you.  How did it make you feel?  Did it make a difference in your day?  Chances are, when someone showed Kindness to you it inspired you to show Kindness to another person.  Kindness is contagious and can travel from one person to another very quickly.

Kindness is easy.  When a work colleague frustrates us, we can be Kind.  When a family member makes us angry, we can be Kind.  When the clerk at the store charges us the wrong price, we can be Kind.  Consider Jesus’ encounter with a man afflicted with leprosy.  Despite the man’s open wounds and pitiful physical state, Jesus reaches out and touches him, healing the man from his sickness (Matthew 8:1-4).

It’s unlikely that any of us will encounter someone with leprosy today.  However, we may face a situation that makes us feel as though the other person doesn’t deserve a response of Kindness.  This is the time to remember that because of God’s Kindness we have the opportunity for Eternal Life.

Say “Yes” to Kindness and “No” to Rudeness!

 

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Day 12: Yes to Attention to Others; No to Ignoring Them

Posted By at Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Today we say “Yes” to Attention to Others and “No” to Ignoring Them.  When we encounter other people, we receive them in three primary ways: Sometimes we are positive, sometimes we are negative, and other times, we Ignore them.  Today we address that third type of encounter.

We would probably be surprised to learn how often we Ignore other people.  Whether it’s friends or strangers, we often duck-and-hide to avoid potential contact.  Sometimes we’re just too busy to say, “Hello”, but other times we really don’t want to see anyone else.  The problem surfaces in the manner that another person experiences when we don’t acknowledge them.  Nobody wants to feel unimportant or insignificant, yet when we ignore (or “overlook”) other people, we are certainly not conveying God’s image.

Today we focus on giving Attention to other people so that God is glorified.  No matter whom we encounter today, each are created in God’s own image.  They might be clean or dirty, stinky or pleasant, or loved or unloved, but that does not remove our obligation to acknowledge the beauty that God created in these other people.  For example, consider the Bible story of the Woman of Samaria (John 4).  She was undervalued, underappreciated, and considered an outcast, yet, as she approaches the water well, Jesus addresses her.  The result?  Jesus changes her life, as well as many others: “Many Samaritans from that city believed in Jesus because of the woman’s testimony” (John 4:39, NRSV).

Today God will place people in our path.  Let’s give God glory by letting them know that they are valued, important, and loved.

Say “Yes” to Attention to Others and “No” to Ignoring Them!

 

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Day 11: Yes to Read a Book; No to Television

Posted By at Monday, February 26, 2018

Monday, February 26

Today we say “Yes” to reading a Book and “No” to watching Television.  Just for the record, Television includes Netflix, Apple TV, U-verse, Cable, DVD’s, and any other on-screen, storied content.  Before the advent of DVR’s and YouTube, this challenge would have been significantly more difficult.  Today, this challenge should be easy but it will take some discipline because television is everywhere.  The challenge is to avoid the mindless screen chatter and replace it with the deepened silence of a good book.

Reading improves language, reasoning, and even calms the nerves.  A recent poll indicates that six minutes of daily Reading reduces stress by 68%, more than any other activity (including exercise).  Another poll indicates that elderly readers are 2.5 times less likely to develop Alzheimer’s, while another study indicates that children who read regularly have much more advanced verbal and problem-solving skills.  On the other hand, these same polls indicate that watching television yields opposite results, decreasing verbal skills and lowering test scores.  Makes sense, right?

God speaks in a variety of ways, including the advice of others and the results produced through science and statistics.  Reading is just one of those ways that God speaks by expanding our intellect and imagination, showing us new ways to make a difference.  Take for example a simple Proverb that reminds us about the importance of listening to God’s words: “My child, pay attention to what I say.Listen carefully to my words.  Don’t lose sight of them.  Let them penetrate deep into your heart, for they bring life to those who find them, and healing to their whole body” (Proverbs 4:20-22).

Reading a good book is healthy.  Watching television…maybe not so much.Today, let’s honor God by improving our mental health!

Today, say “Yes’ to Read a Book and “No” to Watching Television!

 

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Weekly Challenge #2: Yes to Listening, No to Ignoring and Distractions

Posted By at Sunday, February 25, 2018

Sunday, February 25

In this second weekly challenge, we say “Yes” to Listen and “No” to Ignoring and Distractions.  This is another challenge that could benefit everyone because all of us can use some improvement in our communication skills, especially our Listening skills.

Do we Listen?  If so, how much do we hear?  A recent study conducted by the University of Missouri indicates that our daily communication includes 9% writing, 16% reading, 30% speaking, and 45% listening.  This means that we spend more time listening than any other form of communication.  However, listening is the part in which we have the least amount of skill.  The same study indicates that the average person retains only 25% of what we hear, most (or all) of which are the parts that we are “trying” to hear.

Granted, we are probably trying to hear everything.  However, our minds wander, we become distracted, and our own personal interests surface.  In just a few moments of a conversation, most of us are already way behind the speaker thereby greatly reducing our ability to Listen to them.

The same is true when we listen for God.  If we are speaking all the time, we won’t be able to Listen to God’s response.  Or if we tune God out, become distracted, or practice selfish communication skills, we yield the same results as we do when we communicate with other people.  Consider the Gospel’s message: “Then Jesus added, ‘Pay close attention to what you hear.The closer you listen, the more understanding you will be given – and you will receive even more’” (Mark 4:24, CEB).

Good communication begins with Listening.  This week, we will try to become good Listeners, not because it benefits us but because we honor God and God’s people!

In this second week of Lent, say “Yes” to Listen and “No” to Ignoring and Distractions!

 

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Day 10: Yes to Focusing on Loved Ones, No to Personal Satisfaction

Posted By at Saturday, February 24, 2018

Saturday, February 24, 2018:

Today we say “Yes” to Focusing on Loved Ones and “No” to Personal Satisfaction.  For many people, Saturday is the one day in the week that allows for the most discretionary time in our schedules.  It’s important that we identify our discretionary time, whenever it is.  Especially in our busy-body world, we may not realize that we spend most of our discretionary time on ourselves and not on the people who are most important to us.

This oversight is due to variety of factors, including exhaustion, procrastination, selfishness, work-related issues and even laziness.  However, today is not going to be that day.  Today is going to be about our Loved Ones…their needs, wants, and just some plain ‘ole fun and attention.  We can probably remember a time long ago where we maintained this priority with vigor, but life happens and our priorities fall into the “also eligible” category of our lives.

Jesus always exemplifies focusing on Loved Ones even during his last few hours of discretionary time before his arrest, crucifixion, and death.  Jesus chose to spend those last moments of freedom, not on himself, but with his closest friends (Matthew 26, Mark 14, Luke 22, John 17).  Jesus washes their feet, shares a meal, talks and listens to them.

We may not wash anyone’s feet today, but we can give God thanks for those close to us and get out and experience life with them.  God knows how important they are because He put them there!

Today, say “Yes” to Focusing on our Loved Ones and “No” to Personal Satisfaction!

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Day 9: Yes to Healthy Meals and No to In-Between Snacks

Posted By at Friday, February 23, 2018

Friday, February 23

Today we say “Yes” to Healthy Meals and “No” to In-Between Snacks.On Fridays during the challenge, we take a swing at diet-related challenges.Today’s challenge of eating Healthy Meals and avoiding In-Between Snacks will be more difficult than we want to admit.Most of us Snack on something throughout the day.Fewer of us consume Healthy Meals, despite the advice of our medical and nutritional specialists.

Why is it so difficult to follow the advice of others, especially advice related to food consumption?For the most part, we know what we should and should not be eating.Fruits, vegetables, and healthy grains should always be a part of each meal, but how many of us really do it?Lean meats should also be part of our daily diets, but most of us probably resort to the hand-breaded chicken tenders from our favorite fast-food restaurant and call it “Healthy.”

Which is worse?Our lack of eating healthy meals or our periodic grazing throughout the day?Which contributes more to an unhealthy, unbalanced diet?As we think about our diets today, maybe we should consult God about the subject.The Apostle Paul makes an insightful argument: “So whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God” (1 Cor 10:31, NLT).Powerful words!

This challenge isn’t that difficult, but it will take a little forethought to avoid slipping into the Friday habit of burgers at lunchtime, pizza in the evening, and lots of junk in-between.Give God a prayer of thanks for the food He places on our tables today, then follow it up with a good healthy diet.You know what to include in your diet, so let’s make it happen today!

Say “Yes” to Healthy Meals and “No” to In-Between Snacks!


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Day 8: Yes to Quiet Time and No to Arguing with others!

Posted By at Thursday, February 22, 2018

 

Thursday, February 22

Today we say “Yes” to Quiet Time and “No” to Arguing with Others.  These two challenges are unusual to pair together, but, when one thinks about it, they have two vital needs in common: A need to get healthy and a reconnect with God.

Arguing is second-nature for some of us.  We Argue so much that our first response to an encounter with another person is to prove them wrong or prove ourselves correct.  Never-mind that the other person might be trying to tell us that we are having a wardrobe malfunction.  “Oh, that’s the way I like it,” we might say.  The best trial attorneys in the world don’t hold a candle to the ways we can win Arguments.

Now, let’s flip that coin over.Quiet Time is something that could benefit all of us.  Stress is the #1 cause of our medical problems and one of the best solutions to reduce stress is Quiet Time.  Just sitting Quietly, meditating, and clearing our minds can provide incredible health benefits.Jesus was a big proponent of Quiet Time, as recorded in several places in the Bible.  “Immediately after this, Jesus insisted that his disciples get back into the boat and cross to the other side of the lake, while he sent the people home.  After sending them home, he went up into the hills by himself to pray.  Night fell while he was there alone” (Matthew 14:22-23).

Opening our hearts, minds, and ears to the silence will dramatically improve our ability to hear and connect with God.  Don’t believe it?  Try it for 15 minutes and I’ll prove you wrong.  Oops.  That was a slip.  No Arguing today.  I didn’t mean to do it; it just slipped out.  Without question, the best thing I can do today is quit Arguing with other people, myself, and God.  I should try replacing the time I spend Arguing with quality Quiet Time, making sure to give a few of those Quiet moments to God in prayer.  Not only can I reduce my stress levels and improve my health, but I might also let someone else know that their opinion matters.

Today, say “Yes” to Quiet Time and “No” to Arguing with Others!

 

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Day 7: Yes to Laughter and No to Anger

Posted By at Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Today we say “Yes” to Laughter and “No” to Anger. Easy?  Wait and see.  Laughter is easy.  Just find something funny and cut loose.  Anger, on the other hand, is a totally different story.  Anger is one of our primary emotions and it is important part of who we are as human beings.  It’s the expressions of Anger that often get us into trouble.  Today’s challenge is not to try and remove feelings of Anger.  Rather, today is devoted to addressing Anger in a different manner by shifting those emotions into expressions of joy (ie, laughter).

This sounds much easier than it is.  We express anger in so many unhealthy ways that it’s even difficult to list them all.  Shouting, crying, addictions, violence, ignoring, suppressing…all of these are unhealthy expressions that can lead to many more problems.  We tend to forget that even Jesus became Angry on multiple occasions.  The cursing of the fig tree (Mk 11, Mt 21), running the money-changers out of the temple (Jn 2, Mt 21), hardened hearts (Mk 3:5), and lukewarm Christians (Mt 7, Lk 6), are just a few of the incidents recorded in the Gospels when Jesus experiences Anger.

Today, spend a little time talking to God about issues that cause you to feel Angry.  Ask for God’s help in dealing with it and ask for God’s help in advance of whatever Angry situations may surface today.  We know from experience that our knee-jerk responses to Anger are almost always wrong, so maybe giving it some attention today will help us discover other expressions that don’t cause harm to ourselves or those around us.

When Anger hits today, try giving it a chuckle and then go back to God ask for help to find a better solution.  This is a difficult one but it can be done!

Say “Yes” to Laughter and “No” to Anger!

 

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Day 6: Yes to Kind words and No to Negative remarks!

Posted By at Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Tuesday, February 20

In this Tuesday challenge, we say “Yes” to saying only Kind Words and “No” to Negative remarks.  This could be a difficult challenge because most of us are probably unaware when we make Negative remarks.  Far too often, we unintentionally hurt other people with Negative words or comments.  It’s probably not too often that we seek to criticize or put others down, so making the cognitive effort to say only Kind words and phrases should be helpful.  However, if we are seeking to say something Negative about someone (or someone’s work, behavior, bad choices, etc.), we may not realize that the same Negative comment can be said in a context of kindness and encouragement.

There’s almost always another way to communicate something.We know from experience that some people respond much better with positive reinforcement than with criticism.  How about you?  Do you respond better when someone encourages you or when they criticize you?  Depending on your answer, you’ve probably just diagnosed the way you to speak to others.  Consider Jesus’ words: “In the same way, let your light shine before people, so they can see the good things you do and praise your Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 5:16, CEB).

Today’s challenge is to forego the Negative comments and only speak Kind words.  Do you think you can do it for an entire day?  You bet you can!

Say “Yes” to only Kind Words and “No” to Negative Comments!

 

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Day 5: Yes to Reading Psalms and No to Excuses!

Posted By at Monday, February 19, 2018

 

Monday, February 19

In today’s daily challenge, we say “Yes” to Reading the Psalms and “No” to Excuses.  In case you’re unfamiliar with it, the Book of Psalms is a collection of songs and poems included in both the Jewish and Christian Bibles.  Although it appears that several people likely wrote the Psalms, most of them were written by, or about King David, Israel’s greatest king.  David was well-known for his musical talent, so it is understandable that he would convey his thoughts and feelings in song.

Why is it important for us to read the Psalms?  There’s several good answers but one primary answer: Jesus did it.  As a faithful Hebrew, Jesus would have spent many hours reading, studying, and praying over the Psalms.  He would have begun to learn the Psalms at a young age and Jesus likely taught the book throughout his adulthood.  After all, Jesus knew more about King David than anyone else, so Jesus’ keen interpretation of the Book would have been invaluable for His followers.  In fact, Jesus quotes the Psalms at least 10 times in the Gospels, including some of His most well-known words, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Psalm 22:1, Matthew 27:46, Mark 15:34, NRSV).

If you haven’t spent much time in the Psalms, it’s difficult to predict whether you’ll connect with them.  However, the Psalms were written with such emotion and inspiration, it is likely that you’ll find a few places that will help you to process some of modern life’s most difficult challenges.

Jesus read the Book of Psalms and even quoted it numerous times.  It would seem only fitting that we could take a few moments today and read through a few chapters ourselves.  Will it make a difference in your day?  You won’t know until you try!

Say “Yes” to Reading the Psalms and “No” to Excuses for not doing it!