An Trip Update From the Philippines
We arrived in Manila Wednesday night after an uneventful flight from Cincinnati. Senior pastor David Dobson, along with his wife Denise, met us at the airport and took us to our hotel.
We spent much of this afternoon with the Dobsons and Richard Macaraeg, our Philippines Office Manager. The office is located in the Makati district of Manila. We also spent time with Stella Cambare who works as the Church's accountant at the office. It was so good to see all the things that they do and discuss details about Beyond Today media in our magazine, Internet and video. Richard is very knowledgeable about many media aspects, particularly video editing and the Internet.
Above the office, we maintain an apartment where Dave and Denise Dobson stay on their 3-4 visits each year. They are doing a great job overseeing our work in the Philippines and both are highly regarded by the Filipino brethren.
We discussed our Kingdom of God seminar in Quezon City. We are hoping for a good response from our 500 Beyond Today magazine subscribers in the Manila area. In the entire country, almost 3,000 people receive the Beyond Today magazine.
I do ask for your prayers for a successful Kingdom of God seminar here in Manila this Sabbath, as well as the week-long Pastoral Development Program starting Monday. Forty-one elders and leaders are scheduled to come from all over the Philippines, Malaysia and Myanmar.
Events like this are so helpful for developing and sharpening the skills of our ministry in helping them care for our brethren in their congregations. Senior pastor David Dobson and his wife, Denise, will help with presentations. Former Philippines senior pastor Earl Roemer will also be with us.
Clothe Yourself in Kindness
In my series on the fruit of the Holy Spirit of Galatians 5, I want to describe an incredible demonstration of kindness. It was the kind of news you wish you could read every day. Here's the background: a few years ago, a six-year-old boy in Florida was devastated. The shy boy, who was described as "mildly autistic and also has epilepsy," wanted to have his friends from kindergarten come to his birthday party. Knowing this was a big step for a young boy who battled social anxiety, the mother happily sent out invitations and made arrangements for a fun time.
Not a single person showed up.
When the young boy realized no one was coming, he was devastated. Out of options and emotionally crushed, the young mother put up a post on Facebook: "I know this might be something silly to rant about, but my heart is breaking for my son. He keeps asking, 'when will my friends get here?'...not one kid came."
Unbeknownst to the mother, the post went viral.
Within an hour, a pet shop owner and her family showed up. Then came other families. The house quickly filled up with new friends and unexpected birthday gifts as dozens of families dropped by.
Soon a helicopter from the local sheriff's department flew over, circling and swooping over the house, drawing excited waves from the delighted birthday boy.
Then local Florida firefighters and police decided to make the birthday a full week of celebrating. Fire trucks and firemen, police cars and K-9 dogs started showing up with gifts that they had purchased out of their own pockets. As a local TV station reported, "the whole community came together." It was an inspiring event. (Watch the coverage at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=88YX7HLx8tk)
You probably know of other true stories like this one.
This was an act of kindness. Kindness (also translated "goodness" or "gentleness") is the fifth fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23 Galatians 5:22-23  But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith,
 Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.
American King James Version×). As I have been writing before, these fruits are produced in the spiritual transformation of a disciple of Jesus Christ (Romans 12:1-2 Romans 12:1-2  I beseech you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service.  And be not conformed to this world: but be you transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.
American King James Version×).
The Greek word here is transliterated chréstotés. It describes an event where someone else's needs are met in a remarkable way, where the gift of kindness is made with no expectation that it will be returned or reciprocated.
This kind of biblical act has an amazing outcome apart from the act itself. When people hear of such acts of kindness, their hearts are softened! Such acts of kindness literally "warm our hearts." We can be in a foul mood, hardened by this harsh world that we live in, and suddenly and unexpectedly, someone performs a kind act—whether toward us or something we witness toward another—and our whole demeanor and outlook is changed!
When people practice kindness, it can have a spiritual impact.
It's no wonder then that the apostle Paul, writing in a way that parallels the fruit of the Spirit in Galatians, instructed the Colossians: "Since God chose you to be the holy people He loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience" (Colossians 3:12 Colossians 3:12 Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, long-suffering;
American King James Version×, New Living Translation, emphasis added throughout).
The Greek word translated "kindness" here is the same chréstotés that Paul used in Galatians 5:22 Galatians 5:22But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith,
American King James Version×.
Do you wish that people would treat you better and then you would be kind back to them? Consider what Jesus Christ instructs us to do: "Do to others whatever you would like them to do to you" (Matthew 7:12 Matthew 7:12Therefore all things whatever you would that men should do to you, do you even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets.
American King James Version×, NLT) How important is this? "This is the essence of all that is taught in the law and the prophets." Jesus set the bar high—we are to be kind to our enemies, as well as our friends (Matthew 5:43-48 Matthew 5:43-48  You have heard that it has been said, You shall love your neighbor, and hate your enemy.  But I say to you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which spitefully use you, and persecute you;  That you may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he makes his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.  For if you love them which love you, what reward have you? do not even the publicans the same?  And if you salute your brothers only, what do you more than others? do not even the publicans so?  Be you therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.
American King James Version×).
How can we possibly do this?
The spiritual act of being kind springs from the fact that "God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit" (Romans 5:5 Romans 5:5And hope makes not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given to us.
American King James Version×, English Standard Version). God's love gives the ability and motivates us to be kind in a way we cannot do of our own ability.
How important is kindness? Paul further tells us in Romans that God's kindness (chréstotés) to us softens our hearts that we might be led to repentance and thus to eternal life (Romans 2:4 Romans 2:4Or despise you the riches of his goodness and forbearance and long-suffering; not knowing that the goodness of God leads you to repentance?
American King James Version×).
How else does our loving Father express kindness? God is a giver of gifts, of miraculous intervention, of the things that we need. God delights in bestowing gifts upon His children. Toward the end of the sermon on the Mount, Jesus declared to those assembled that if they "know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give good gifts to those who ask him?" (Matthew 7:11 Matthew 7:11If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him?
American King James Version×, NLT). As James tells us: "Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights" (James 1:17 James 1:17Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom is no ficklenss, neither shadow of turning.
American King James Version×, ESV). The New Living Translation makes this even plainer: "Whatever is good and perfect comes down to us from God our Father."
Being kind to another person is one of the characteristics that true disciples exhibit. Kindness changes people. Both the giver and the receiver benefit.
When Paul directs us to "clothe ourselves with kindness" (or to "put on" kindness, as other translations render it), it underscores the personal choice that we can make. We can deliberately choose to be kind, even when we don't feel like it!
When we make this choice, God Himself fills in the gaps. The outcome is amazingly powerful.
The power of choice—of practicing kindness as frequently as you can, especially the little acts of kindness that cost nothing to do--lies before you. You personally can soften hearts. Choose to reflect God, to be kind, today!