Tag Archives: good neighbor

Sticks and Stones?

No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted.  Aesop

We’ve all heard the chant “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never harm me!”  I don’t buy that, do you?  I think I may WANT to believe it, but have learned over the years…that words can be very hurtful.  In this chapter – “My Neighbor Has Been Beaten Up”, Coach doesn’t refer to the physically beating someone up, but he writes on verbal abuse – verbally beating someone up.

As I posted in The Best Welfare Program is a Job” Dr. John M. Perkinsstatistics show that the impact of words spoken before the age of 3 is HUGE!  One’s self-confidence is developed at a very young age.  Then, as we age….the avenues of abuse take on new forms – like bullying on the playground, at school, and in the neighborhood…..even cyber-bullying! Child cyber-bullies grow up into adult cyber-bullies.  Have you ever read the comment sections of blogs, news articles, etc?  I’m astounded at the sheer negative, rude and bullish behavior that takes place! There’s a lot of hurting people out there.  Hurt people hurt people.

Are you hurt or miserable? Coach gives this advice:

If you want to stop being miserable, start doing nice things for others and saying nice things to them.

I am convinced that we all need our own personal cheerleaders. Who do you cheer for? (I know…the Hokies, Wahoos, Rams, Cowboys, Redskins, and other sports teams don’t count!) Your neighbor is someone who needs a cheerleader.  It could be your spouse, your child, a co-worker, the cashier at the local grocery store, the guy who empties the trash at work, or the person in front of you in the Starbucks line.  Find a way to be kind.  If you are stuck and need some help in that area…check out the wonderful ways that Patience Salgado cheers for and encourages others via Kindness girl….because kindness changes everything. I’m encouraged by her ideas and challenged by “guerrilla goodness”, and you will be too!

Coach provides us great advice on page 67…

“….He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted” (Isaiah 61:1, TNIV). Part of our job as Christ followers is to participate in Christ’s mission to “bind up the brokenhearted.”

As we seek to bind up the brokenhearted, we would do well to remember the message found in Colossians 3:12 – that as God’s chosen people, Christ’s followers, we are “holy and dearly loved.” As people who are dearly loved by God, we have the opportunity each day to clothe ourselves in the garments of “compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience’ in our interactions with other people.

Find a beaten neighbor and bind up their broken heart via kindness, love and cheers!

Oh God, I confess of the times that I have torn down others (often those closest to me – like Louis) through my words. Forgive me. Lord, may I become my neighbor’s personal cheerleader! May I find frequent words of affirmation, love, patience, compassion, and gentleness. Teach me to love like You love….in words and in deeds.  Thank you, Lord Jesus.

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This is the 13th post in a series that I wrote about in a series that I wrote about in a post called who is my neighbor? series.  I am reading who is my neighbor? by Wayne Gordon and exploring just one chapter a week. In addition, I hope to post on each Wednesday. (although, I am late with this week’s post!)

Neighbor 11: has been Stripped

In a previous post,  Neighbor 7:  Someone Who is Naked, I wrote about our friends who have been ‘outed’, hated on, gossiped about.  In addition, Richmond Justice Initiative was mentioned…and how they are helping those who have been trafficked.  Both of which are horrific, without a doubt. But when I think of stripped, I think about a car being stripped.  I guess that’s because I have watched way too many cop shows over my lifetime.  When a car is stripped, everything that is of value is taken from the car to be sold or used by someone else, leaving behind the shell of a car…nothing of value.  Thieves have been documented as being about to strip a car in less than 5 minutes.  It doesn’t take long at all for a car to be taken down to its shell and a pile of parts.  Gordon, however speaks of people who have been stripped, not cars.  If it takes less than 5 minutes to strip a car, how long does it take to strip a person of their dignity? of their humanness? of their personhood?  How long does it take to dehumanize a person? Not long at all.

Paul Tripp writes in, What Did You Expect?

Because sin is antisocial, it tends to dehumanize the people in our lives.

No longer are they objects of our willing affection. No, they quit being the people we find joy in loving.

Rather, they get reduced to one of two things.

They are either vehicles to help us get what we want or obstacles in the way of what we want.

Because of sin, in what ways do find ourselves dehumanizing another person or group of people, stripping them of their dignity?  How can we be friends to those who have been stripped?

Father God, we thank you for your Son Jesus.  We confess that we don’t fully appreciate what Jesus did for us, and how we still sin…every day. We dehumanize people with our words and actions, our minds and thoughts, with our policies, rules and laws.  Please help us to see everyone through the eyes of your Son…to act justly.  Everyone is made in your image, and we miss that totally. Help us to see your image when we see others.  Help us to be friends of those who have been stripped.  Jesus modeled that for us during his time here on Earth. Teach us how to love like He did. Thank you, Lord.  In His name we pray, Amen.

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This is the 11th post in a series that I wrote about in a series that I wrote about in a post called who is my neighbor? series.  I am reading who is my neighbor? by Wayne Gordon and exploring just one chapter a week. In addition, I hope to post on each Wednesday. (although, I am late with this week’s post!)

danger-stranger

Neighbor 10: is a Stranger

From the day we learn to walk (if not before) we are taught not to talk to strangers. Everyone has heard the term “Stranger Danger”. And for good reason, we need to teach children to be suspect of strangers, no doubt. When I hear this term, however…I think about the scene from Kindergarten Cop…check it out.

Good morning.
- Good morning, Mr. Kimble.
Sit down. It’s very nice to see you all again. Meet my very good friend, Phoebe O’Hara.
- Good morning, Phoebe.
Miss O’Hara is going to talk to you about something very important. So pay attention to what she has to say, okay?
Remember, no fear.
- Thanks.
Yeah?
- Boys have a…. Girls have a…..
Well, you taught them the basics.
- That’s important.
Okay, now…today we’re going to talk about something else that’s really important. Today we’re going to talk about strangers.
If a stranger knocks on your door…never answer the door. Because we never talk to strangers. Let’s say that together.
- We never talk to strangers.
Right.
- Can we talk to kids?
Yeah, it’s okay. You can talk to kids.
- What about dogs?
Huh?
- Can we talk to dogs?
Yeah, you can talk to dogs. But what you can’t do…what you must never ever do is…never talk to strangers.

In the parable of the Good Samaritan, the injured man was a stranger…was unknown to the Samaritan, yet he stopped to help the man. We are surrounded by strangers all the time. Our neighbors are often strangers. We have clients, co-workers, vendors, cashiers, soccer moms, teachers, etc. who are all strangers to us. Coach states…

Mature persons in Christ are no longer children. We have the ability to discern when a situation is safe enough to intervene and offer our help to a stranger in need.

I think back to the night Frank was shot. Some people think we are totally crazy for going out there just moments after he had been shot 9 times. But, in my mind and heart, there is no doubt that the Holy Spirit guided us that night and knew when to send Louis and I out there to help Frank, who was a stranger to us at the time. The Spirit knew when it was safe enough for us to help. We weren’t medically trained, and we certainly didn’t have the police skills to handle the situation. I was just an HR person and Louis – a pastor. My medical training came from watching Medical Center and Marcus Welby, MD as a child, then ER and Grey’s Anatomy as an adult. That’s it. But, we were spiritually trained to know when and how to respond to someone’s extreme need. It was up to us to obey. Although, it was so automatic, we didn’t even give it a second thought. Once the scene was clear…we went. No questions asked.

Coach also reminds us of Hebrews 13:2

Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it.

So, as God-fearing, Spirit-driven mature Christians, we need to unlearn what we learned as a child – Stranger Danger. If not, we just might miss an angel – an encounter with the God most high.

Open our eyes, Lord. May we learn to see people as You see them. Teach us to respond as You would….to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, to care for the widows and orphans, to see prisoners as though we were in prison next to them, to see the abused as one who has also been abused. Lord, teach us to appropriately minister in these and other situations. We want and need to better discern when and how we should respond. We need wisdom. Lord – we need to learn to slow down and pay attention to those who are hurting around us. Our calendars are so full and we are so busy running to-and-fro. May we have the time to notice and respond. In the name of Christ I pray. Amen.

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This is the 10th post in a series that I wrote about in a series that I wrote about in a post called who is my neighbor? series. I am reading who is my neighbor? by Wayne Gordon and exploring just one chapter a week. In addition, I hope to post on each Wednesday. The first post in the series can be found here: Neighbor 1: Hurting.

Neighbor 9: is of a Different Race

I’m a day late!  Oops!  I actually am beginning to wonder if I am avoiding this topic unintentionally.  I’ve waited and waited.  Creatively avoiding the topic.  Knowing of the negative names I could be called and the opinions that will be formed.  But, I can’t avoid it forever.  So…here we go. Based on the parable of the Good Samaritan found in Luke 10:25-37, we are shown ‘My Neighbor is of a Different Race”, which is the topic of Chapter 9 in who is my neighbor? by Wayne “Coach” Gordon.  This topic can be heated and divisive, hence the reason that I have probably been avoiding it. Sometimes we like to think that racism is a fairly new concept and only occurs here in the United States, or in the south, or only between blacks/African-Americans and whites/Caucasians.  Although as Coach reminds us, this dates WAY back at least 2000 years ago – or Jesus wouldn’t be dealing with it in this parable.  Not to mention, most wars around the world ‘are rooted in conflict between ethnic groups’.

The Lord’s Word clearly states…we are called to love God and our neighbor.  He didn’t say that we should only love our white neighbor, or our latin, black, first american, or asian neighbor.  He said to love your neighbor.  Someone once said that there is only one race…The Human Race.  Agreed.  Yet, there are different skin colors, different cultures, different ethnic backgrounds – which we commonly refer to as race.  Today, we can use the same bathroom and water fountain; and we can even ride the same bus and eat at the same restaurant! We even voted in a black/African-American President. Racism is dead, right?  Right?  Really?  No, I don’t think so.  Not at all.  Racism is deeply rooted in our society, our way of thinking, our way of worship, our way of governing, in every aspect of our lives.  Coach states…

We are still struggling as a society and as Christians with how to do better.  I’ve observed that some of us white folks feel we have ‘arrived’ when we say to there people, “I’m colorblind.  I don’t see you as a black person or a Latino person or a Middle Eastern person.  You’re just like I am.”

However, I’ve come to understand that to be “colorblind” should not be the goal. For one thing, God made us multicultural and multiracial.  We re enriched by diversity and out to celebrate it.  For another thing, if we are blind to racial and ethnic differences we will also likely be blind to the inequalities associated with these differences.

Most of you know that I live in and love my community that is over 90% African-American/Black.  I dare not speak for all whites or all blacks.  I speak for me, and me alone.  I don’t want to be colorblind.  I don’t want to be blind to the inequalities, so I do try to learn as much as I can from talking to my neighbors, my colleagues, my friends, whom I love.  These friends, who look different than me, share their stories, their pains, and their hurts.  And, they become my stories, pains and hurts, because when my friend hurts, I hurt.  In addition to listening to my friends and entering into their pain, I also try to learn as much as I can about our history, especially here in Richmond….the untold history.  The history that we didn’t learn in school, where the books were written by white folks.  If you want to learn more, you can read Richmond’s Unhealed History by Ben Campbell.

In addition, you have an opportunity this Saturday.  Dr. John Moeser, Senior Fellow at the Bonner Center for Civic Engagement at the University of Richmond and Professor Emeritus, Urban Studies and Planning, at Virginia Commonwealth University, will present an overview of the 2010 census as it relates to race and economics in our region.  This Saturday at 9am at Northminster Church.  For more details check this link out…. Unpacking the Census.  Hope to see you there.

Lord, we need your help.  We need it bad. Forgive us of the times we have hated on people. We are all made from your image. Help us to see the God in everyone. This earthly world is so full of hate, resentment, and power-hungry people. Help us, Lord, to heal.  Help us to right some wrongs.  Help us to rewrite stories and change the present and the future.  We can’t do anything about the past…but we need your help in the now.  Open our eyes and teach us how to love our neighbors who look, dress, and act different that we do.  Heal our Land, Lord.   In Jesus’ name I pray.  Amen.

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This is the 9th post in a series that I wrote about in a series that I wrote about in a post called who is my neighbor? series.  I am reading who is my neighbor? by Wayne Gordon and exploring just one chapter a week. In addition, I hope to post on each Wednesday. The first post in the series can be found here:  Neighbor 1: Hurting.