Category Archives: Christianity

Love Thy Neighbor

I was deeply touched by this story of an older white woman at Walmart who got dizzy and fell. When the store’s staff came to her aid, they insisted she remain seated on the floor until the paramedics arrived. One of the store employees, a young, black man, took it upon himself to sit on the floor with her. He offered his body for her to lean against as a simple back support.

Georgia Walmart Employee Helps Elderly Lady

There are so many lessons to be learned from his one small action, both Christian and humanitarian:

– The young man recognized a need.
– He acted immediately, without being told.
– He met the woman where she was, on the floor, when and where she needed help.
– He showed compassion.
– He made a connection.
– He did what he could.

Despite the difference of their skin color, there are no racial undertones here. This was love shown in the truest Biblical sense – not the emotional kind that’s gone amok in our country, mind you. This was the actionable kind rising from a compassionate heart. We need more of this type of love.

“LOVE MORE. HATE LESS.” You’ve heard the chants being thrown out from both sides of what I’ve dubbed The Great American Divide. Well, here’s how you do it. This young man’s one simple act shows us how. It starts inside each one of us.

At my church, Sunrise Baptist Church, we like to say, “It’s #CoolToBeKind. Try it. It’s easier than you think, and carries everlasting repercussions and rewards.

A Hint of Our Origins

Life was sweet. Until it wasn’t.

I used this melodramatic statement on the jacket of my recently released book, Imperfect Lies.  For several of the characters in the story, life went from everything they wanted to nothing they wanted or could have imagined. All in the blink of an eye.

I’ve thought about this statement a lot since penning it—Life was sweet. Until it wasn’t—and came to the realization that this has been the theme down through the ages. Just as we get our life right where we want it—boom! Life happens. Plans go awry and once again we’re reminded  we aren’t in control. Even so, we pick up the pieces, put them back together best we can, and try again to put everything in order … until it happens again.

Why does this happen over and over?

Let’s travel back through the ages, to the very beginning of time. According to the first words in the Bible (Genesis 1:1 NKJV), In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.

Read on and you learn that God created light to illumine the darkness, and it was good. He created day and night, the seas and land. He covered the dry land with vegetation and created animals. He added creatures to the sea, and fowl to fly through the air. He made the sun and moon and stars. 

And then God created man in His own image. And indeed, it was very good (Genesis 1:31).

Until it wasn’t.

Satan set the course for all mankind the day he came into the garden. He added wrong to right, evil to goodness, and ugliness to the beauty God had created. And yes, God loved his creation, mankind, enough that he allowed them to make choices. They chose wrong, and devastating as the consequences were, He allowed man (us) to err, to suffer, and hopefully learn from the consequences.

My old grandmother used to say, “Some lessons are harder learned than others.” I believe the lesson from the Garden of Eden is the ultimate lesson: to obey God’s commands. It’s one we continue to struggle with today.

God still gives us hints of the life he meant for us, though; reminders of how sweet life with Him can be. Think about the peace and serenity of a quiet lake. The soft colors of sunrise and a majestic fiery sunset. A baby’s coo. A snow-covered mountain. A child’s laughter. The clean, fresh scent of the earth after a cleansing rain. The kiss of a loved one. Skin warmed by bright sunshine. White sand. A blue-green ocean. Insects chirping at nightfall. Birds singing with joy. The smile of an aged grandmother. Clouds. Rainbows. And the vast magnificence of the heavens.

Yes, the heavens. All we have to do is look up with open eyes to see the splendor of creation. The stars, sun and moon, the comets and eclipses—all signs to draw our eyes, minds, and hearts to Jesus.

Time and again through scripture, whenever the people looked up, the Lord God Almighty answered, because life is sweet … when we keep our eyes on the Lord.

 

 

GRACE AWARDS – Reading Recommendations

Wow! Summer reading has never been this exciting. What fabulous novels and super talented authors.

Check out these Grace Awards Summer Book Bash recommendations: six fabulous novels from super talented authors!

Grace Awards Annual Summer Book Bash Recommendations

 

THE POISON WE DRINK
by Carol McClain
(Desert Breeze Publishing)

Summer is too short to labor over ponderous tomes.  This novel will sweep you up in its drama and keep those pages zipping. You’ll not want to leave the beach until the last page has been read.

The Poison We Drink – Available on Amazon

 

 

HARMFUL INTENT
by Nike N.
Chillemi
(Crime
Fictionista Press)

Kick off your summer reading by diving into this fast paced detective story, the first of the Veronica “Ronnie” Ingels/Dawson Hughes trilogy.

Harmful Intent – Available on Amazon

 

 

 

6 DATES TO DISASTER
by Cynthia T. Toney
(Write Integrity Press)

A summer read for teen girls ages 13 to 15! This story addresses honesty in school and with parents as well as drinking and driving. It shows how decisions can damage relationships and risk a teen’s reputation and future.

6 Dates to Disaster – Available on Amazon

 

 

IMPERFECT BONDS, Book 3 of The Imperfect Series
by Elizabeth Noyes
(Write Integrity Press)

Imperfect Bonds, a 2016 Grace Awards Winner, Book 3 of the Imperfect Series, is the ideal summer escape for book lovers. Whether lounging on the beach or relaxing at home, this edgy, sometimes funny, sometimes sad romantic suspense will sweep you away on an action-packed, page-turning journey.

Imperfect Bonds – Available on Amazon

 

 

REVENGE
by Paula Rose
(Anaiah Press)

Are you looking for a summer escape where danger lurks below the surface? Treat yourself to a suspense-filled vacation, staycation, or beach read where career, a missing person, and romance combine inside a mystery that is this exciting novel.

Revenge – Available on Amazon

 

 

STRONGER THAN MOUNTAINS
by Lynn Dean
(Wordsworth Publishing)

Summer is a great time to travel. Reading can take you on a journey without ever leaving your favorite hammock or recliner. You can even travel through time! This novel (the sequel to MORE PRECIOUS THAN GOLD in the Sangre de Cristo series) will whisk you away to the Wild West during the days of bustles and bad guys.

Stronger Than Mountains – Available on Amazon

Imperfect Bonds – Finalist!

I am thrilled, proud, and so very honored to announce that Book 3 of The Imperfect Series – IMPERFECT BONDS – has been named a finalist in the Action-Adventure / Western / Epic Fiction category!

The Grace Awards 2016 is an annual reader-driven literary awards presentation of Christian fiction. This year’s nominations include works from major publishers, small publishers, and independent authors. Winners in each category will be announced on May 31, 2017.

And…the Grace Awards 2016 Finalists are… (click here)

 

 

Fearfully and Wonderfully Made – Part 3

We’ve talked about how human beings rank fairly low in the animal kingdom in regards to physical strength and durability, and we’ve looked at how man’s superior intelligence evens the score by giving him an edge in the survival game. But there’s a third factor to consider.

There is an almost undefinable essence that truly sets man apart from the other animals.

Scientists attribute this uniqueness to our DNA. Philosophers call it our soul or spirit. Others identity it as our conscience, while many more call it personality, individuality, persona, or nature. Whatever  label you choose, it comes with an overabundance of quirky eccentricities not found in the other species cohabiting this world.

Personality

Yes, I agree that humans and animals have personalities, but only man can claim the vast complexity of traits that set us apart from them. A recent study from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) identified 638 primary Personality Traits. After dividing them into three categories, they classified 37% as positive (ex: amiable, courageous, optimistic, and reliable); 18% neutral (ex: ambitious, determined, self-conscious); and a staggering 48% negative (ex: abrasive, apathetic, discontented, imprudent). (Ref: http://ideonomy.mit.edu/essays/traits.html)

While the list is fairly comprehensive, it is nowhere near complete, especially when you consider the infinite number of possible combinations. And that’s before you take other factors into consideration. Factors like …

Emotions

Plutchiks Emotion WheelRobert Plutchik, professor emeritus at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine with a Ph.D. from Columbia University, set out to classify emotions into primary categories. Working with the Dalai Lama and using scientific approaches to analyze facial muscles used in heightened levels of emotion, he determined there are eight primary states: anger, fear, sadness, disgust, surprise, anticipation, trust, and joy.

Of course, there many, many more feelings than these eight, but based on similar muscle usages, Plutchik concluded that all emotions fall into sub-categories under the primary.

Fact or hypothesis? It’s your decision. But  the question arises – Do animals have emotions? Let’s consider two definitions pertinent to this discussion:

Sentience is the capacity to feel, perceive, or experience subjectively. It encompasses a wide spectrum of both positive and negative physical and emotional experiences. Most scientists today are in agreement that all vertebrate animals, which includes mammals, our winged friends, cold-blooded reptiles, and the creatures of the sea, are sentient beings.

Sapience, on the other hand, is defined as good sense, intelligence, wisdom, or the ability of an entity to act using a mental faculty to apply appropriate judgment (Homo sapiens  – Latin: “wise man”). Sound judgment requires the ability to assess conditions in a complex and dynamic environment, apply a moral code, analyze risk factors, calculate outcomes, and derive a best case conclusion. I believe we can all agree this ability belongs to man alone.

So, to answer the above question,  yes, I believe all animals experience emotion. Consider the threat of danger that triggers fear … which in turn triggers survival behavior (the fight or flight response). This is inherent to all animals, man included.

Emojis

On the other hand, I believe sapience is God’s gift to man alone.

Spiritual Needs

For the duration of a pregnancy, the mother’s body provides everything a baby needs: nutrition, oxygen, temperature control, and waste management. At birth, when the baby is separated from the mother’s body, the newborn must learn quickly how to regulate all of these things for himself, while experiencing a nightmare of new sensations – light, sound, taste, temperature fluctuation, movement restriction, and hunger. It’s a scary place.

Each newborn babe, whether animal or man, comes into this world with an innate craving, a need for connection, acceptance, comfort, and safety.Newborns

Those needs don’t change as time passes. Wolves roam in packs. Red Snapper swim in schools. Geese fly in close formation as they relocate with the seasons. Man searches for a place to belong within families, communities, social groups, schools, workplaces, organizations – and yet he often moves on. Changes jobs. Makes new friends. Searching. Always searching. Always wondering. Always asking questions. Why am I here? What is my purpose? Is this all there is?

Christians often claim there is a “God-sized hole within our hearts that only the one, true God can fill,” which leads us to yet another question; Is this a biblical concept, or just fanciful rhetoric?

My answer is no. And yes.

Back in the 1600s, Blaise Pascal, inventor, mathematician, physicist, theological writer, and apologist, said in defense of Christianity:

“What else does this craving and this helplessness proclaim but that there was once in man a true happiness, of which all that now remains is the empty print and trace? This he tries in vain to fill with everything around him, seeking in things that are not there the help he cannot find in those that are, though none can help since this infinite abyss can be filled only with an infinite and immutable object. In other words, by God himself.”

But we can also attribute a story from the Bible where the Apostle Paul was witnessing to the Greeks. Now the Greeks were notorious for all their idols, even a monument to an “unknown god” – kind of like hedging their bet, I guess. In case they missed one.

In Acts 17:22-27, Paul says:

“Then Paul stood before the meeting of the Areopagus and said, “People of Athens, I can see you are very religious in all things. 23 As I was going through your city, I saw the objects you worship. I found an altar that had these words written on it: TO A GOD WHO IS NOT KNOWN. You worship a god that you don’t know, and this is the God I am telling you about!

The God who made the whole world and everything in it is the Lord of the land and the sky. He does not live in temples built by human hands. 25 This God is the One who gives life, breath, and everything else to people. He does not need any help from them; he has everything he needs. 26 God began by making one person, and from him came all the different people who live everywhere in the world. God decided exactly when and where they must live. 27 God wanted them to look for him and perhaps search all around for him and find him, though he is not far from any of us.

All animals follow the primal, never-changing eat-sleep-procreate dictate set out for their lifespans, but only man seeks for more. Call it ego, the soul, a conscience, spirit, chi, or life-force, only man seeks acceptance and a reason for his being.Heart of Clouds

For Christians, the truth lies in that ‘God-sized hole’ in our hearts, the one that Jesus readily fills with love and a peace that passes all understanding.

Fearfully and Wonderfully Made – Part 2

I think we are in agreement that the human body is a unique system of systems. So why then is it encased in such a fragile shell?

In the physical realm, humans rank pretty low on the survival totem pole.  We don’t have the luxury of natural body armor like the armadillo, or a defense system like the porcupine. Neither do we have the ferocity and strength of a grizzly bear, or the speed of an antelope. We can’t smell like a bloodhound, hear like an elephant, see like an eagle, or feel vibrations like a bat.

And yet we don’t just survive, we thrive. How?

Creation - Dominion

Here are 5 reasons (not comprehensive by any stretch of the imagination) that I believe sets mankind apart from the other animals.

  1. clock-70182_640Man is aware of his own mortality. He is conscious of time passing, not like the seasons fade one into another, but of generations gone before and generations to come. We conceptualize. 
  2. Man has an inherent spiritual nature, religious even. The vast majority of people believe and/or pursue some form of spiritual or religious faith. We wonder about what comes after we die. 
  3. Man keeps records. We (sometimes) learn from what has gone before, make plans for the near and distant future, and are always searching for ways to improve or better his life. 
  4. the-thinker-1431333_640Man is a thinker. We reason, question, create, learn, anticipate, apply logic, and discern truth. We also harbor prejudices, vanity, pride, ego, and nurture grievances and seek revenge … unlike other animals. 
  5. Man communicates at a far more superior level than the other animals. We use complex language forms, both verbal and written to connect with other humans. We use this language to satisfy a deeply rooted yearning for community, a need to communicate with others of our kind, to connect.

So, the human body is a (physical) complex machine run by a (mental) sophisticated intelligence. But what about motivation. What drives us? That’s the part I call the “Thou shalt and Thou shalt not” factor.Creatures of logic

Next, we’ll look at what makes man tick.

 

Fearfully and Wonderfully Made – Part 1

The human body is an odd and vastly complex creation.

It comes with an amazing variety of systems to keep it working. These include a circulatory system that moves blood, nutrients, gases, and hormones around the body; a digestive system to ingest food, break it down into usable nutrients, and remove the waste byproducts; and a DNAurinary system that aids in the removal of waste and digestive byproducts.

We have an immune system, the body’s first line of defense against disease, injury, and harmful pathogens; and a lymphatic system that works hand-in-hand with the immune system to help in the fight against infection and to stabilize body fluids in the tissue and cells.

Our nervous system controls both voluntary (conscious movement) and involuntary (like your heart beating) movements, and directs signals to the rest of the body; the muscular system aids in movement of blood and some body functions, but also works closely with the skeletal system which allows the fundamental structure for physical movement.

The respiratory system brings vital oxygen into the body, infuses it into our blood stream for distribution to all cells, and removes harmful carbon dioxide byproducts. The integumentary system is the body’s largest organ—the skin. It protects our internal workings from the outside world, is a barrier against bacteria, viruses, and other harmful pathogens, helps regulates body temPregnancyperature, and assists in the elimination of waste through perspiration.

And let’s not forget the reproductive system that allows the creation of life-a miracle in itself.

All of these systems have to work in concert with all the others every second of every day. No time off. No vacation. And sick days means overtime work.

Now let’s take this a step further. In addition to the complex machine described above, these delicate creations require five things to survive:

  1. Water dropletsOxygen – The most essential need. After a mere 15 minutes without oxygen, brain damage will be so severe most cannot recover.
  2. Water – a human body cannot survive more than 3-4 days without it.
  3. Food – protein, carbohydrates, fatty acids, fiber; certain minerals such as calcium, magnesium, and potassium; and vitamins A, Bs, C, D, E, K. And this is only a simplified list.
  4. Protection from the elements – We require a constant core body temperature in a very Temperaturespecific range. At 104°F a body begins to hallucinate; at 107°F the central nervous systems begins to break down; at 111°F the brain overheats and causes death. Conversely, if the core body temperature drops to 94.1°F the body will fall unconscious; at 86° the body loses its ability to control body temperature; and at 82.4° there is complete muscle failure.
  5. Sleep – Extended lack of sleep will eventually result in headache, temporal and spatial distortion, memory and cognitive impairment, hallucination, loss of muscle control, and if paired with any other system failure, could lead to death.

BANG! It all just happened? Riiiight! I think not.

Computer codeYou could as easily throw a million lines of code into a paper bag, shake it up, and come out with a complex software that will calculate the necessary thrust for a rocket trip to Mars, pass twice around the moon, make a fly-by of Venus, give a nod to the sun, and then land safely at home again. On earth.

Again I say … riiiight!

Yes, I’m a Christian. No, I’m not trying to persuade you to my way of thinking. All I want is for you to start using that amazing computer in your head to figure things out for yourself …

Why you believe what you believe?

Ask questions. Don’t settle. Find the answers for yourself regarding what you believe or don’t believe. Stop accepting what the world is dishing out.

Imagine …

Imperfect Bonds FRONT COVER smallBook Three in The Imperfect Series, IMPERFECT BONDS, is due to release on July 30, 2016. Light, funny, and a little bit sad, it also touches on the edgy topic of Human Trafficking.

https://www.amazon.com/Imperfect-Bonds-Book-3-ebook/dp/B01J6E0K5U

July 30th is also “World Day Against Trafficking in Persons (#wdatip), as declared  by the United Nations. 

Human trafficking. Slavery. Bondage. Servitude. Enslavement. Oppression. Loss of everything you know, everything you have, and everything you are. Whatever we call it, Human Trafficking represents identity theft in the worst, most heinous way possible, much to mankind’s everlasting shame.

I am reminded of the story in the Bible of when the Israelites were taken into bondage by the Babylonians, specifically the tales of four teens, Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah. I find it interesting that Daniel, who was given the Babylonian name, Belteshazzar, kept his “Daniel” identity all through history, while his three friends are better known by their Babylonian names—Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego.

Thousands of Jews were taken captive and transported far from their homeland in Judah. These affluent boys were reduced to no more than slaves with no civil rights and no say in anything that might affect their lives. They had to adapt to a new culture and learn a new language if they wanted to survive. 

helpSlavery continues in our world today, but without respect for life. In fact, this juggernaut industry profits more than $32 billion annually, and affects between 20-30 million victims – children and adults, male and female. (Authorities believe these numbers are low  with most of the criminal activities hidden.)

Take a walk with me for a moment. Exercise your imagination:

Imagine you’re a young woman working on a deadline. The project runs late and you leave your office well after everyone else. The walk to the parking garage seems longer in the semi-lit darkness. Every shadow is sinister, every sound amplified. You hurry your steps, knowing there is safety inside the locked doors of your car.

Imagine as you approach the driver’s side, a van comes around the corner. Nothing special about it. Just another work vehicle with scuff marks and a few dings. And yet, fear zips through your body. Do you turn around and race back to the building? Or hurry to unlock your car?

Imagine in the moment of hesitation as the van picks up speed. It draws near. Panic grips you when the sliding door flies open. A man jumps out and rushes toward you.  You scream and turn to run … but it’s too late.

Imagine rough hands grab you. A nasty rag is crammed in your mouth. You’re lifted and tossed bodily inside the van. The man scrambles in behind you and slams the door. Darkness envelops you as the vehicle speeds away. The panic becomes gut-wrenching terror.

Imagine having all your possessions taken away — purse, money, jewelry, phone, clothes, even your name.

chains-19176_640Imagine being tossed into a cold, dark cell with only a blanket on the floor. You’re dressed in the thinnest of rags with no one to hear your cries for help.

Imagine being ridiculed for your tears, beaten for your screams. You soon learn not to complain, but to beg instead for the meanest comfort —  a toilet, food, water, or perhaps a simple scrap of information.

Imagine being told you’ll never see your family, home, friends, or anything familiar again. That your life as you know it is gone forever. That now, you’re a commodity.

Imagine being forced to do terrible, shameful, demeaning things because that’s what your captor demands, and your performance determines if you’ll receive another beating or whether you get to eat or drink. Or possibly even live to see another day.

Imagine you’re forced to take addicting drugs that leave you fuzzy, delirious, incapable of clear thought or logical decisions, unable to control your body movements or speech. You can’t fight or deny your captor anything.

Imagine losing all hope.children-788782_640

This is but a single scenario that a victim of Human Trafficking might face. Everyday children are snatched from shopping malls and playgrounds while under the watchful eyes of parents. Young men are abducted from bars and nightclubs. Young women are lured away with promises of … whatever. Boys and girls are snatched from schools, sporting events, skating rinks, right off the street. And the list goes on. 

Learn how to protect yourself and your loved ones from falling prey to these monsters. Educate your children. Visit the Department of Homeland Security’s Website:  Human Trafficking 101  http://ow.ly/wW7O302Ayip

Support The Blue Campaign    https://www.dhs.gov/blue-campaignBlue Campaign

Peace in the Valley

“There will be peace in the valley … one day.”

I woke this morning with a song playing in my head. It was like I was a child again, sitting on the floor of our living room on a Sunday afternoon while my father settled a stack of 45s on the record player. He loved music, but preferred two types—Western and Gospel.

Now when I say Western music, I’m not talking about the country twang of lost dogs, wrecked trucks, hangovers, and cheating lovers. Not the banjo-picking or bluegrass stuff either, though they each offer something special. He loved Western, the smooth, mellow outpouring of the soul we heard from the likes of Gene Autry, Roy Rogers, and The Sons of the Pioneers.

He also loved gospel music—The Blackwood Brothers, George Beverly Shea, and his all-time favorite, Tennessee Ernie Ford. It was Mr. Ford’s rendition of Peace in the Valley that rocked me awake today. My first conscious thought was, “Yeah, our country needs this reminder more than ever.”tennessee-ernie-ford

Which brings me to the point of this blog: Politics suck!

The news has been filled with negativity for as long as I can remember, this week even more so. Next week will likely follow the same pattern.

Yes, I worry about the state of our country. I fret over the BLM violence, the police-hating, the race-baiting, and all the political posturing. I grieve even more over the terrible things happening in the world. Evil has a foothold, but I have a higher hope.

“Concerned yes, but I refuse to let it consume me.”

I know that nothing happens by chance. Not kismet, not fate, not happenstance, luck, accident, or destiny. The two candidates vying for the role of President of the United States may not be ideal, but they’re what we have, and I don’t believe for a second they’re in this position by happenstance. And though the journey be long and difficult, as my grandma used to say, “Things don’t just happen, sweetie. They come to pass.”

Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God.  ~Romans 13:1 (NIV)

I don’t like my choices, so I will pray. And listen. And then I will vote for the one who best supports a return to a God-fearing America. To not vote is to abdicate my responsibility as an American.  It is an admission that I have no value as a citizen of this country, and a declaration of my failure as a Christian.

I will do my part. And I will trust God to work things out according to His great purpose.

Peace in the Valley Picmonkey Collage

‘Nuff said. Listen to this oldie and let it soothe you, for I know that one day, we too will find Peace in the Valley.

 

To quote a favorite Yogi-ism, “It’s déjà vu all over again!”

A modern day David v. Goliath story … with a twist.

I hear Baxter!

I hear Baxter!

My dog, Daisy, has an ongoing battle with another dog in the neighborhood. Every morning, from two houses away, the little yapper comes out in his backyard and issues a challenge. And every morning, without fail, my Daisy accepts it. At the first yip, she bursts through the doggy door like a circus clown shot from a cannon, and the ‘bark wars’ begin with the mighty Baxter.  Try to picture it — a (maybe) 10-pound dust mop throwing down against an 80-pound hound dog.

I’ve chastened, reprimanded, scolded, chastised, reproached, and rebuked Daisy so many times. While all my fussing hasn’t stopped her natural inclination to protect her territory, she has improved. Now, after five barks — no more, no less — my big old hound dog tucks her tail and heads back inside, ears drooping, head hanging low, sad eyes filled with remorse.

Please forgive me!

Please forgive me!

Yes, remorse. (Anyone who says dogs don’t communicate has never lived with a pet!) She just can’t seem to help herself.

Does this sound familiar? Aren’t Christians the same way? Just as the Apostle Paul described in Romans Chapter 7 how way down deep in his heart and his soul, he wanted to do what was right, but his sinful nature kept getting in the way, kept overwhelming all of his heartfelt, good intentions.

Like Daisy, as much as we want to please our Master, we too succumb to our innate instincts.

The world sneers at Christians. They see us struggle with the same moral dilemmas they face, except that Christians are convicted when we do wrong. We admit our failings. We ask for forgiveness and mercy … and we receive it from a righteous God.

The image we present to the world is a mirror for them, one where they see in themselves the same failings—but not the forgiveness, or the peace that accompanies it. They want what we have – but without the price of submission.

Our assignment here on earth is to demonstrate the way to life everlasting through how we live. Our job is to talk the talk AND walk the walk, so be kind to unbelievers. Be gentle. Be earnest and understanding because the human spirit is drawn to sincerity. And for heaven’s sake, don’t judge others; that’s above our pay grade. That job belongs to Jesus.