Do I Really Care? (2 Timothy 1:4)

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If we knew how others viewed us, how many would say that we are self centered or all we think about is ourselves? The number may surprise us. In defense, we may point out the many times that we have reached out with aid to others. We may speak of how we support others in need or simply how we act kindly towards others. The question is, “Is that enough?”

Is it enough to perform actions of kindness and charity? I think not. Actions can be just that: simply actions. We can perform acts of kindness without the true motive for our actions being known. Guilt, fear of rejection and pride can each be a motivation for kind acts and if they are, the works performed will not be acts of kindness.

In his letter to Timothy, the Apostle Paul best describes this virtue. Greatly desiring to see thee, being mindful of thy tears, that I may be filled with joy; (2 Timothy 1:4). True kindness occurs as a result of empathy. Paul describes this emotion as “being mindful of thy tears”. The word mindful comes from two words meaning “to stay” and “to chew”. We are mindful about something when we continue to roll the idea over in our minds. For those being kind, they are rolling over in their minds the hurts and pains of others which causes them tears.

They may continually think of their friend’s hurt from losing a loved one. They focus on the pain and sickness of others and carry those burdens with them. When friends are absent from church or just out of touch, they wonder how they are doing and if they are abounding through their circumstances. These are the thoughts of a person who cares.

So let me ask you, do you really care about others? To find out, let your thoughts be your judge.

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Being a Helper (Psalm 31:11-12)

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Everybody is in the midst of dealing with trials. We know that The Lord is the solution to their trial and God wants to bring them to the point of trusting him. But what can we do for others as they face trials? The Psalmist provides some insight.

I was a reproach among all mine enemies, but especially among my neighbours, and a fear to mine acquaintance: they that did see me without fled from me. I am forgotten as a dead man out of mind: I am like a broken vessel. (Psalms 31:11-12)

David shares that as he faced trials, his neighbors saw him as a reproach and fled from him. We do the same. It seems that as soon as a person faces a trial, we wonder what the person did to allow such circumstances to occur. Our first thoughts are that they must be under chastisement and this leads us to flee from them. We hide behind words such as, “I’m praying for you” or “Just trust The Lord and he will lead you through”. All the while we believe what they really need is to get right with God.

If we as believers can get past this, we may be able to support such individuals and put ourselves into a position to make a difference in their lives. We must determine that we will not view them as a reproach and flee from them. We must decide to stand by them and provide the encouragement and support that they need.

In verse 12, the Psalmist indicates that these people are then forgotten. Ask yourself, “Whom do I know that has experienced trouble, fallen away and been forgotten?” Oh, you may remember who they are, but are they in your thoughts, minds, and prayers? Decide today to be one of the rare few that will stand with those in trials and even the fallen. By doing this, you will have the potential to make a great difference in people’s live.

If you would like to read more of these thoughts in a hard copy format, my new book is now available at the link below.

https://www.createspace.com/4441566

To view other posts or to receive this blog by email, sign up at drafusco.wordpress.com

Trusting Draws You Closer

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Yesterday in celebration of our nation’s birth, public and private fireworks were displayed. For most, it was a wonderful time of celebration ending with multiple oohs and aaahs. However for some it was not so pleasant.

Trauma never takes a holiday. While some were rejoicing, others were not. As some may know, my family rescued a German Shepherd with a laundry list of phobias. While aiding him through most of the night, I learned some distinct lessons about my relationship with God.

While trembling in terror, my family provided support and our presence to him. Calming words, hugs, and a makeshift place for him to hide provided the strength that he needed. When firecrackers, M80s and the neighborhood fireworks went off, we quickly responded with “It’s okay, Duke. Everything is okay.” When he responded positively, we lauded him with praise. This went on until at least midnight, with most of the overnight hours spent transitioning him back to functioning independently.

This morning, Duke came close to me. He gently licked me–which I really can’t stand–and snuggled his head into my chest. I patted him on the side and gently spoke about how brave he was and that he was a good boy. It was then that it hit me. As this dog bonds closets to me after times of trials, I too bond closest to God after the same. As I shared words of praise for his bravery, God does the same with me for my faith. What draws the dog closest to me are situations greater than he can bear. What draws me closest to God are not blessings, but situations greater that I can bear.

In the end, I learned that the best way for me to know God will not come from books, sermons or bible studies, but from trials and his presence in the midst of them.

I will be with him in trouble (Psalm 91:15b)

Giving Support (Philippians 2:1)

Remember a great event in your life? Did you keep it a secret or did you run out and share it with somebody? Everything from trips to funny events move us to share them with friends, colleagues and family. Why do we do this? As personal beings, we attach ourselves to others and gain enjoyment, strength, compassion and understanding from those individuals. This is part of God’s design for man. God intends for people in relationships to provide strength and support for others in that relationship. The scriptures share abilities that friends can have towards others.

If there be therefore any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any bowels and mercies, (Philippians 2:1)

Consolation is much needed today. A great way to receive it is from another person. The word for compassion comes from two root words meaning “near” and “to call”. The action of calling a person near to you is so that they can gain needed strength from the support you offer.

Imagine a child falling down and scraping his knee. His mother calls him to herself and then embraces him in her arms. The pain sensors in his leg continue to work just as before, but the drawing near to his mother helps alleviate the pain. This type of aid is also true for emotional pain as well. I remember when my wife lost her father. She maintained her composure quite well until the graveside. After the trumpet played taps and a flag was presented to the family, she broke down. When she was unable to stand and emotionally distraught, I reached out to her and held her closely. The drawing near and providing support brought the strength that she needed.

This is what is needed in the church today. There are many people who are hurting and falling. Instead of reaching out to these individuals and attempting to draw near to them, the church watches them falter. It seems that the only people getting support are those who are the active members of the church. What is sad is that those who do not have a fellowship bond with others in the church are left to stand on their own. It is no wonder that people fall away from God. Their falling may be due in part to them not having the intended support from others that God had planned.

Supporting people who struggle is not a glorious event. It can be very discouraging because those you care to help may still resist the help that God brings. But it is not about you and me or making us feel good. It is about helping the fallen. Look around in your life. Think of the people that you can draw near to and provide comfort. The next time you see them reach out and make a difference in their lives.

If you would like to read more of these thoughts in a hard copy format, my new book is now available at the link below.

https://www.createspace.com/4441566

To view other posts or to receive this blog by email, sign up at drafusco.wordpress.com