“God’s yardstick for measuring faithfulness is how faithful you are with your own gifts. You are not responsible for the nature of your gift. But you are responsible for how you use it!” —Max Lucado
J. Warner Wallace shares some of his favorite sources for Christians to make their case.
From Live Action: “Extremists have made the 2016 election about attacking reproductive rights,” Cecile Richards says in the video. “Enough is enough.” Yes, Ms. Richards—enough IS enough:
[VIDEO] I like what Barnabas Piper says about how the church should handle questions—
A recent study in Frontiers In Neuroscience showed the power of encouraging messages to those who were exercising. Those encouraged lasted longed. Check out this part of the report―
Study participants rode stationary bikes equipped with screens on which either smiley faces and encouraging words (“go,” “energy”) or sad faces and inactive words (“stop,” “tired”), were projected for less than 0.02 seconds, hidden by other visuals so they wouldn’t be consciously recognized. Subjects shown positive cues were able to exercise significantly longer than those shown negative cues. (emphasis added)
Did you catch that? Encouraging messages only needed to be 0.02 seconds long to make a huge difference.
A smile. A pat on the back. A wink. A thumbs-up. You can do all of those in less than a second, and it may be all the encouragement someone needs to keep on going.
I Like Giving by Brad Formsma is a unique look at how to impact our communities. You can read my full book review by clicking here, but I strongly encourage anyone who wants to see their world changed to pick up a copy of this book. Below are some quotes I found thought-provoking in this book.
“Living generously is about giving your life to other people so that everything you do—whether it is your work, your charitable giving, or your contribution to your neighborhood—becomes both a gift to others and rewarding for yourself.”
“Don’t make giving too big a project. Sometimes your best and most perfect gift might be as simple as a smile or a compliment. Maybe it’s paying for a stranger’s lunch.”
“Watch out for these nasty four-letter words: debt, fear, and busy. They steal the joy with the greatest of ease. Be aware of them as they compete with the nudge to do for others.”
“The good news is that it’s never too late to give. If an opportunity comes your way and you don’t seize it, don’t get stuck in the downward spiral of regret. Smile, tell yourself all is well, and then ask for another one. If there are people around you, there will be more opportunities to give.”
“No matter how successful you are, it is giving your life away to others that makes you happy. … The right response, though, is not to shun success but to replace selfish ambition with other ambitions—doing things for others.”
“Give daily, in small ways, and you will be happier. Give and you will be healthier. Give, and you will even live longer. … Giving protects overall health twice as much as aspirin protects against heart disease.” —Dr. Stephen Post
“Don’t let the occasional person who abuses the goodwill of others ruin your giving and deter you.”
“Compassion doesn’t mean giving every time, but when I give, I do it knowing that I’ve loved a fellow human being right where that person is, whether the money will be wasted or not.”
“One thing I’ve learned through the process is that I can’t force generosity. I can’t lead my family unless I’m going there myself. Simply keeping my eyes open for opportunities to give and ways to include the whole family sparks the idea in my kids. Kids are too young and innocent to believe they can’t be generous if they see adults living that way. … I never want to underestimate the example I am setting. My kids are watching how I live, and the choices I make have rippling effects down through the generations. I can choose to do nothing and let my children be swept up in the current of empty materialism that is rampant in our culture, or I can choose to live a different way by living generously.”
“I don’t think we can ever overestimate just how profound the effects of giving can be. You can give without loving, but you can’t love without giving. The reality is that other people are watching how we live our lives, and what we do can have extraordinary effects in our communities. Generosity is for all of us. It is available to all of us, even when the cultural tide is moving in the opposite direction. Why not be brave and live differently?”
“Is weakness really that bad? Could it be that our specific weaknesses allow other people’s strengths to shine? Could it be that life sometimes throws us a curve that creates a need in our own lives? Once you experience the joy of giving, you realize that other people feel the same way when they give to you. Receiving might be harder than giving, but if you think about the joy the givers are receiving when they give to you, that will help you open up to receiving. You know that refusing the gift would deny them that joy.”
“Focusing on what you don’t have or the bad hand you were dealt can actually make your life worse. What you think about affects who you become. It affects your relationships and the people you attract into your life. Keeping your focus on what you do have, what you have been given, and the good things in your life will make you happier and more grateful and will empower you to become a generous person yourself.”
“Often when we see someone in a bad situation, our natural response is to say, ‘Hey, if you need anything, let me know.’ Please don’t say that. Unknowingly you have put an added burden on the person. For some people the pressure is just too great, so they freeze and never respond. It’s a dangerous comment that produces a false sense of doing good. I encourage you to assess the situation and make something happen.”
“There are a lot of problems in the world. Sitting around talking about them or waiting for a large organization to do something about them doesn’t work. Finding opportunities to help others and change the world around us does work. We just have to take that scary step of actually doing something. We don’t need to overthink what we do. Sometimes we just know this is our opportunity to help. When we recognize an opportunity and dive in, amazing things happen! … So the question then becomes, are we willing? Will we decide to live generously and then be open to the opportunities that come our way?”
“You don’t have to make massive life changes, move to another city, or start your own nonprofit to become a gift to other people. You can start with who you are, right where you are, right now. In fact, you probably are already a gift to many people in many ways, but you might not always be aware of it.”
I noticed something last night at our Light The Night event: lots of people were smiling, and laughing, and enjoying themselves.
And I thought to myself, “Why don’t we do this more often?”
To think that just a blow-up inflatable, some fun carnival games, and candy could make people light up. Well, it was more than that. It was our amazing Calvary Assembly of God folks. They were the ones smiling first, and that brought out the smiles in everyone who came by.
This is why I say it all the time: I ♥ My Church!
Thanks Lindsay, Scott, Harrison, and Jeff for keeping everyone safe on the slide. And for your kind words and smiles that made everyone feel so welcome.
Thanks Jeff, Damian, Brandon, Sarah, and Crystal for making such simple carnival games so much fun. And thanks for your words of encouragement and smiles to everyone who came by to play.
Thanks Mindi, Kayla, and Betsy for passing out the candy, answering questions, and smiling at all our guests. You made them feel so welcomed.
Do you want to influence people? Here’s a simple suggestion: Smile more often!
And I have to pass along some other thanks as well:
- Del — you take amazing pictures!
- Inflatable Frenzy — you are so easy to work with.
- Esigns.com — you made us look good for a great price.
(I highly endorse these businesses. They are people of integrity and are very flexible and reasonably priced.)
I love a scene in The Bourne Identity where Jason and Marie are hatching this highly-detailed plan to get an invoice from a hotel. Marie walks into the hotel lobby to execute their well-designed scheme, and before spy/assassin Jason Bourne has time to walk her through it, Marie is back outside. “What happened? What went wrong?” Jason asks. Marie simply replies, “The man at the desk was smiling at me, so I thought I would simply ask him for the invoice.”
When I was a kid we used to sing a little ditty in Sunday School that went like this —
If you’re happy and you know it clap your hands.
If you’re happy and you know it clap your hands.
If you’re happy and you know it then your face will surely show it,
If you’re happy and you know it clap your hands.
Here’s what the Bible says about smiling faces:
Smiling faces make you happy. (Proverbs 15:30)
What a relief to see your friendly smile. It is like seeing the face of God! (Genesis 33:10)
When I smiled at them, they could hardly believe it; their faces lit up, their troubles took wing! (Job 29:24)
Don’t just do what you have to do to get by, but work heartily, as Christ’s servants doing what God wants you to do. And work with a smile on your face. (Ephesians 6:6)
Why are you down in the dumps, dear soul? Why are you crying the blues? Fix my eyes on God—soon I’ll be praising again. He puts a smile on my face. He’s my God. (Psalm 42:5)
George Eliot said, “Wear a smile and have friends; wear a scowl and have wrinkles.”
So if people feel miles away from you, perhaps they’re just a SMILE AWAY.
Try it. Smile! You’ll feel better and others will feel better about you too.
My aunt just made me aware of some fascinating news. Apparently a lot of people want to be like me… or should I say be me. Check it out here.