Hugh’s News & Views (A Bruised Reed . . .)

A BRUISED REED AND SMOKING FLAX

Matthew, an apostle of Christ, said of Jesus, “A bruised reed He will not break, And smoking flax He will not quench, Till He sends forth justice to victory” (Matthew 12:20). This statement is part of a larger quotation from Isaiah 42:1-4, and Matthew’s use of it is the only time this particular prophecy is quoted in the New Testament. (Note: Flax was a plant from which linen and other products were made.)

In context, both Isaiah and Matthew are talking about Christ as God’s Servant, “My Beloved, in whom My soul is well pleased,” the One upon whom God would put His Spirit, the One who would “declare justice to the Gentiles,” and the One “in [whose] name Gentiles will trust” (Matthew 12:18-21). In short, it is a text relating to the redemptive work of Christ, not only for the Jews but also for the Gentiles. Continue reading

#compassion, #gentleness, #hughfulford, #kindness

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5-1-2015 Don't Be Cruel

In the Old Testament, God exposed “bullying” when He said, “You shall not curse the deaf, nor put a stumbling block before the blind, but shall fear your God: I am the LORD” (Leviticus 19:14 NKJV). Cursing a “deaf” person who cannot hear the curse and respond is nothing but cruel. Putting a “stumbling block” in front of a “blind” person when they cannot avoid it is despicable. No examples of what bullying is about could be simpler to understand. God called His people back to this when He commanded: “Execute true justice, Show mercy and compassion Everyone to his brother” (Zechariah 7:9 NKJV). If you were in their place, how would you like someone to do you that way? Jesus summed up this teaching when He said, “Therefore, whatever you want men to do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets” (Matthew 7:12 NKJV).

This is Johnny Polk, with “Words of Wisdom” brought to you by the Oneida church of Christ.

#blind, #compassion, #deaf, #mercy, #stumbling-block

Some folks are naturally tenderhearted people others are…

Some folks are naturally tenderhearted people, others are tough-minded. To some disposing of a sick or aged pet is a life-crisis, others can handle it without batting an eye. Tough-minded folks are often people who are the movers and shakers of society. They tend to get things done. They tend to be goal oriented folks and therefore, are less inclined to consider whom they might be hurting in the process. Too often tough-minded folks view tenderhearted people as weak and as people who can be manipulated to their advantage. The challenge for the tough minded is to cultivate a tender-side – it’s part of being Christlike. They must be convinced that, as far as God is concerned, everyone counts, everyone. Somehow they must break though their goal oriented focus and try to put themselves in the other person’s shoes. Jesus was the friend of sinners. Why? Because Jesus sought to understand the circumstances that had created their situation. Christ like love must be sensitive. This is Just-a-Minute

#compassion, #just-a-minute, #sensitivity

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(#151) The Proverbs of Solomon 20:28-How To Lose An Election

Since God Created humans, only God can provide specific understanding of human behavior. God gave Solomon Divine Wisdom (1 Kings Chapters 3 and 10) to explain what and why behavior is as it is, and Proverbs 10:1-24:34 are randomly written, as if they were Solomon’s judgments about individual cases brought to him, or simply God-given explanations about life. New Testament passages may help see the continuation of Wisdom offered through Jesus Christ.

Proverbs 20:28: “Mercy and truth preserve the king, And by lovingkindness he upholds his throne.”

“Mercy” is “kindness, forgiveness, protection offered,” and kingdoms, countries, or empires that incorporate “mercy” in its laws and leaders can survive. Jesus used such a king to make a powerful point about “forgiveness” (Matthew 18:21-35), for a servant is forgiven his debt but he will not forgive one who owes him. The king wanted his “compassion” to be passed along, and when it wasn’t, the unforgiving servant was condemned, and Jesus said, “So My heavenly Father also will do to you if each of you, from his heart, does not forgive his brother his trespasses” (Matthew 18:35). Mercy shows a king’s heart for his people. When people realize that “the king” (or leader of government, whether an individual or congress) doesn’t care what pain, anguish, penalty, or price government policies impose upon them, they will seek a change of leadership.

“Truth” is “fact, reality, veracity, honesty,” and laws of the land must have this at their core, or else there is no standard for conduct. The Israelites settled in their Promised Land, but failed to follow God’s Law. “In those days there was no king in Israel; everyone did what was right in his own eyes” (Judges 17:6; 21:25). Governments without Biblical, Constitutional, or Legislative truth for a moral compass are destined to fail. “Truth” is the backbone of good law. All law that is based upon half-truths, lies, or deceit should be uncovered and removed.

Without “mercy and truth” for limits, no government will survive, and without personal “lovingkindness,” elections are lost! “My son, do not forget my law, But let your heart keep my commands; For length of days and long life And peace they will add to you. Let not mercy and truth forsake you; Bind them around your neck, Write them on the tablet of your heart, And so find favor and high esteem In the sight of God and man. Trust in the LORD with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths” (Proverbs 3:1-6).

All Scriptures and comments are based upon the New King James Version, unless otherwise noted.

#bible-study, #compassion, #congress, #elections, #forgiveness, #government-leaders, #kings, #laws, #mercy, #proverbs, #truth

How May We Honor Military Veterans

Yesterday morning, I conversed briefly with an older member of the church I attend after our worship service concluded. Near the end of the service, the song director asked military veterans to stand and the congregation then concluded the service with a prayer song: “God Bless America.” The older brother in Christ told me that he had been in the U.S. Army during World War II and had been a Prisoner of War for about two months in 1945 after his capture by German forces. The horrible experience still scars him. He is not unique. While many military personnel return from combat zones reasonably healthy in mind and body, others bear scars they will never lose. We notice some quickly. They lost an arm or a leg; their faces still are scarred by burns from an explosion. Others have emotional scars. They witnessed charred remains of other Soldiers or were tortured as prisoners of war. Some may have performed acts for which they’re still ashamed, even though Christ forgave them long ago. Still others returned and have had trouble finding employment. They range from young enlisted Soldiers with high school diplomas to medical officers and chaplains with doctorates and master’s degrees. These too suffer; many occupied positions of great responsibility and supervised numbers of others in a combat zone, but now that they’re back home, they discover that potential employers don’t understand the skills and the leadership experience they gained. All these veterans hurt and may wonder if anyone really cares.

On this Veterans Day, I ask, “How may we honor these men and women who volunteered to go where they might die in the service of our country, of us who live in the same nation?” This question applies also to Christians and military veterans in other nations. I mentioned already how our congregation concluded the service. Members also put together an eleven minute video with then-and-now pictures of veterans in the congregation which aired after the service. Another congregation hosted a breakfast for veterans and their wives as well as widow(er)s of military personnel. Some congregations invite veterans to lead the services on such days. These gestures help those who have deployed far away to reintegrate and to regain a sense of belonging once again. More help may be needed.

A disturbing number of people who laid their lives on the line for us live homeless on our streets. They need different kinds of help; they’re homeless for diverse reasons. Some need mental health or substance abuse counseling. Others need vocational training, clothing, food, and a place to stay. They all need for someone to demonstrate compassion and to take initiative to help them. Again, some of these may even show up at your church’s worship services. You may wonder what happened to the young woman who used to sit in that pew after she returned from Iraq.

Some veterans just need an opportunity to contribute. The reserve component chaplain who lost his preaching or teaching position when he deployed needs opportunities to serve. If the chaplain, medical doctor, or commander was/is a senior officer, they supervised what equates to a very large congregation’s worship and education activities, a missions organization, a small hospital, or a medium size business. They have real skills that the church and the community need. They may have lost the connections or (after their return) the confidence to gain appropriate employment to use those skills. They also may have had some of the traumatic experiences described above.

I asked, “How may we honor these veterans?” Others question whether we should even though months ago they asserted, “We support the troops.” If you support the troops, now you have the opportunity to prove it. Thousands are returning to our communities and our churches. How will you prepare yourself and your congregation to help these veterans and their families? Jesus demonstrated compassion and healing throughout his ministry. Jesus, John the Baptist, and the Apostle Peter all interacted directly with soldiers; they addressed their medical, financial/ethical, and spiritual concerns. How will you honor our military veterans?

#chaplain, #church-of-christ, #compassion, #discipleship, #faithfulness, #homelessness, #mission, #reintegration, #substance-abuse-recovery, #trauma, #veterans-day

Nothing more compassionate than church discipline

When another Christian falls into obvious sin, an admonition is imperative, because God’s Word demands it. The practice of discipline in the community of faith begins with friends who are close to one another. Words of admonition and reproach must be risked when a lapse from God’s Word in doctrine or life endangers a community that lives together, and with it the whole community of faith. Nothing can be more cruel than that leniency which abandons others to their sin. Nothing can be more compassionate than that severe reprimand which calls another Christian in one’s community back from the path of sin. When we allow nothing but God’s Word to stand between us, judging and helping, it is a service of mercy, an ultimate offer of genuine community. Then it is not we who are judging; God alone judges, and God’s judgment is helpful and healing. —Dietrich Bonhoeffer

"My friends, if anyone is detected in a transgression, you who have received the Spirit should restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness." —Galatians 6:1

#church-discipline, #compassion, #confrontation, #judgment, #leniency

Some Alternative Statements When Visiting the Seriously ill

I thought I would pass this article along for any one to have who can appreciate it. A wise sister in Christ gave me a copy of it several years ago. She made a copy of it from an article that appeared a long time ago in the Bulletin Digest. I could tell why she would have kept it near by when I first read it. I would give full credit to the original author but unfortunately the only part of his name that got copied was Virgil F. I can see that the article came from Abilene, Texas, but that’s all I can say about it.

Instead of: “I don’t want to bother you with my phone calls and visits.”

Try: “Is this a good time to visit?”

Instead of: “You’ve got a long, hard road ahead of you.”

Try: “No matter what happens, I want you to know you’re not alone.”

Instead of: “My uncle had the same thing, and he died.”

Try: “What’s going on with you today?”

Instead of: “God knows you can handle this illness or He wouldn’t have let you get it.”

Try: In times like this, do you find your faith makes a difference?”

Instead of: “Don’t take it personally, but I just don’t like being around sick people.”

Try: “Being with you is more important than my fear of hospitals.”

Instead of: “Wouldn’t it be better if your (husband/wife) stayed at work rather than spend time with you?”

Try: “Serious illness affects the family too, doesn’t it?”

Instead of: “Don’t worry about your job or the house. Everybody’s covering for you.”

Try: “The work is getting done, but you know no one can take your place.”

Instead of: “Don’t talk about dying. You’re going to outlive all of us.”

Try: “Even though it’s difficult, I’m willing to talk when you are.”

Instead of: “God has a reason for this.”

Try: “There’s a lot in life we don’t understand, isn’t there?”

Instead of: “If there’s anything I can do, let me know.”

Try: “I’m praying for you, I would also like to _______ (name specific appropriate act). What time is best for you?”

#compassion, #sickness, #wisdom