Why Kindness? It’s Naturally Supernatural by Steve Sjogren

There is a lot of talk these days about the word “Kind.” There is so much chatter these days, in fact, one might even think kindness is a human attribute. Much like love. With both ideas / words, there are dymensions of the idea. With both, the concept has been so watered down, it is becoming difficult to nail down what is meant when people use the word in conversation.

As a word smith, I move we take the time to clarify this powerful word, AND we honor term that is of such enduring significance, it nearly belongs on the Periodic Chart of elements – on the bottom part of that chart if you are familiar with that from a chemistry class. That part of the chart deals with elements that endure for such long time frames we refer to them as having “Half Lives.” When humans touch such elements, there is no missing that one has been touched. Life will never be the same when anything with a half-life has touched our lives.  Such is the power of kindness.

Kindness is everlasting. It is! A touch of kindness goes on eternally. When one has experienced an act of kindness – you have been served or you have served others – that touch, that expression will echo all hearts involved for the rest of earthly life. How is this possible?  As Jesus said, “With man, this is cannot be done, but with God all things all things are possible.”  Kindness is from God. Human effort cannot produce kindness. True kindness never has originated from man apart from God and it never will. Only as God’s kindness flows through available people can anyone experience true kindness.

Kindness is Naturally Supernatural

What humans often confuse with with true kindness is actually ‘Niceness.’  Niceness is great. Hurrah for niceeness!  There are far worse things for one to be caught up with than niceness.  Make no mistake however – human niceness is utterly different than the kindness of God.

The Apostle Paul clarifies the untangled way of kindness in this verse:

“God’s kindness leads to a radical life change…” Romans 2:4, The Message Version

 “God’s kindness”

If you have lived more than a decade, you hopefully have discovered that those things that last originate from God. The temporal is apart from God’s eternal strength.

“Radical life change”

When God changes a life, that life changes for real and for the endurance.  That change occurs from the inside out. This is no self-imposed attempt at self-betterment. This is no resolution. This is no ‘I’ll never again’ try harder self-help. God has mercy on us by doing what we could not accomplish in a thousand lifetimes of a grand effort.

Kindness is contageous

The kindness of God Paul refers to flows from one human to another. God is by nature kind among other aspects of his diverse character.  The scriptures clarify when God changes a person’s life, a new normal way of living begins. Our bodies look the same, but spiritually we are transformed. We are converted. We are turned inside out. Entirely new ways of living and seeing occur. One of the primary overflows of that life is kindness. The kindness of God himself. (Galatians 5:22, 23)

God invites us to jump onboard!

Once we click into the kindness of God, at whatever point in our journey in life – time of following Jesus, it is as though blinders fall from our eyes.  In my life, though I had followed ‘Hard after God’ I had never picked up on the many verses that illustrate the concepts shared in this article alone. I hear this story each day several times via emails and texts – “I can’t believe I never got it before now! How could I have not seen those verses? I’m onboard now. I want to move forward – I want to serve, I want to live in the power of God’s kindness!”

There is a universal light bulb beginning to blink over hundreds of leaders worldwide. The conclusion being discovered is: “We need to show our culture the reality of God. Information without first providing credibility does not work.” This credibility building sequence is the way life has worked for all people of all time of all cultures. This simple request is reasonable. Jesus operated from this perspective.

Let’s begin to live from this new normal way of life as well!

Kingdom Kindness: How God’s Kindness Leads To God’s Power For Healing by Mark Wyatt

When I stumbled into Servant Evangelism almost 15 years ago, my life was changed forever. As part of a denomination that was very focused on evangelism, I was a pastor who hated evangelism. But of course, no one could know. So I learned the techniques, went to the training courses, made the phone calls, knocked on the doors, passed out a trillion tracts. I did all of this was to try to cover up the fact that I hated making people uncomfortable, which seemed to be unavoidably woven into the fabric of every evangelism program I had ever seen.

And then came free sodas at traffic lights. Doughnuts and milk to people having yard sales. Hot chocolate to cold customers in the wee hours of Black Friday.

And as toilets were cleaned, and windshields were washed, and hotdogs and cokes were given away at heavy metal concerts, I found that I didn’t really hate evangelism. I just hated the way I had always done it.

And so, when my wife and I followed God’s call to relocate from Dallas to our hometown of Mobile, Alabama to plant a new church, Community of Kindness by Steve Sjogren became my textbook. There was no doubt that this new work would be founded on Servant Evangelism. As our vision for the city grew, so did the church, and so did our creativity. And as good as it was, there was still something more to come, something that would take everything I knew to a new level.

In March of 2006, I stood next to my friend as the Lord completely, immediately, and irrevocably healed him of Parkinson’s Disease. The very next week, as my friend and mentor Jack Taylor was preaching at our church, he said something that tattooed itself on my spirit: “Let me tell you what has happened– you have been blown into Kingdom come.” And it was true. I realized, in that moment, that I was now an eyewitness to the truth of the what John Wimber had taught with such wisdom and influence in the 1980s: the Kingdom of God is here.

As the people of our new church, Deeper Life Fellowship, and I began to really seek this present rule and reign of God, we began to see Him demonstrate it in wonderful ways. And naturally, this seeking of the Kingdom and this serving of the people began to meld into one cohesive event. We found that now, Servant Evangelism had been endowed with power from on high. It is a wonderful, Spirit-directed, life-filled activity to show the kindness and love of God to people who are walking in darkness and may not even know it. But I believe that is only the beginning.

On December 4, 2010, we held another Gas Buydown. This is where we, in cooperation with a local gas station, buy the price of gasoline down 20 cents per gallon for two hours. During those two hours, we have the opportunity to pump gas, wash windshields, give out bottled water and soft drinks, and pray for dozens and dozens of people. On this particular day, as my wife was asking one of the customers how we could pray for her, the woman said that we could pray for her niece, who was suffering serious side effects from juvenile rheumatoid arthritis. The little girl had gone blind in her left eye. My wife quickly motioned me over when she realized that the niece was right there in the car, and we immediately began to pray “Kingdom Come” prayers for her. And there, in a gas station parking lot, on a Saturday afternoon, that 8-year old girl received her sight in her blind left eye!

I love the power of kindness, and I love the power of the rule and reign of God. And the good news is, they are connected at the hip. Servant Evangelism for the sake of being kind is a wonderful, anointed God-activity. But it is also the railway on which the freight train of God’s power barrels into every darkened corner of our cities, delivering its cargo of hope, healing, and the supremacy of His Kingdom into every heart that will receive it.

How To Flush Your Spiritual Pipes by Ken Glassmeyer

No matter how long I do outreach, I am often surprised at how much impact serving others actually has on our own spiritual health.  When we feed the poor, or do some small gesture of kindness, not only are we giving them a small taste of the kingdom, we get refreshed spiritually as well.  I have heard more than one pastor use the metaphor that we are a conduit or pipeline for God’s grace when we let Him flow through us to others.

Sometimes, when that grace sprays through us, it clean our pipes.

This fall, I had my hot water heater fail on me.  I live in an area that has extremely hard water, and frugal skeptic that I am, I have always resisted getting a water softener.  I am also not the most knowledgeable guy when it comes to home repair.  Little did I know that you are actually supposed drain and flush your hot water heater and lines at least once per year, because calcium, lime, and other minerals in hard water will calcify and gunk up your taps, fixtures pipes, and even the hot water heater itself.  In my case I went 15 years without ever having the heater serviced.  At first, I noticed white grit in the aerators and reduced flow from the tap.  Then a few weeks later every hot water line in the house slowed to a mere trickle. After a few thousand dollars and few days with a plumber, my lines were very clear, I had a new hot water heater, and a softener.  I had to help the plumber carry the old heater out of the house because it had over sixty pounds of sediment that had built up over the years.  All of this could have been avoided through the simple discipline of flushing my plumbing from time to time.

Can’t the same thing be said for making outreach a regular habit in our lives?

Maybe it goes back to the idea of a man with no shoes suddenly being very happy with his life when he meets a man with no feet.  When we serve people that are more impoverished than us, whether it be emotional, spiritual, or fiscal poverty, it helps put our life in perspective.  It flushes our spiritual pipes and gets the gunk out.

I had a similar experience with my personal ministry right around the same time the hot water heater went out.  Even though most folks assume I do outreach almost as often as I breathe, it does not really come natural to me.  If truth be told, I am not a very nice person.  I am actually kind of jerk.  In fact, that is proof that effective servant evangelism is absolutely dependent on God’s kindness–not my politeness.  Serving others does not come naturally to me.  It might look that way if you were elbow to elbow with me doing ministry, but you aren’t seeing me in my natural element.  You are seeing the power of God’s kindness transform me on the spot as it flows through me to those I am serving.

As such, sometimes I get in a funk.  Sometimes, I slack off with regard to ministry.  Weeks and months can slide by, and then I can spiral into a really funky spiritual place.  I was in such a place this fall.  I had a few serious set backs in my personal life, a few deaths and illnesses in the family, and a number of financial problems.  While I wasn’t shaking my fist at God, we weren’t exactly on the best speaking terms.  I certainly was in no mood to serve other people, much less be cordial toward them.

I am real big fan of Harry Chapin, and if you happen to have his Greatest Hits CD  around, put it in.  There is a little rant he goes on between two of his songs where he talks about the ludicrousness of churches and schools getting excited about feeding the poor around Thanksgiving:  “sure they eat good for one or two days off of your food drive, but what are they going to eat the rest of the year?”

I happened to be listening to it in the car and it occurred to me, that not only do the impoverished go hungry the rest of the year, some of us get spiritually lazy the rest of the year.  Before I heard the CD, I had not only skipped several planned church outreaches, I had even slowed down my personal servant evangelism.  I wasn’t “making my rounds” as Steve Sjogren often teaches:  simply follow your daily routine, but be attentive and ready to serve the people you meet as you run daily errands and go about your normal business.

My pipes were clogged.

I had actually even thought about skipping my church’s annual Turkeyfest, an event I helped start and refine over twenty-five years ago.

I was in a funk, and while I know and have often taught others that the best way to get out of a funk is to serve others.  I didn’t want to.  I conjured a hundred reasons not to join Turkeyfest.  Spiritual inertia had set in.

It was a very rough autumn.  My grandmother had just died just as I was finally really getting to know her and visit with her regularly.  Sadly, I’m still a bit unsure just where she landed on the Engle scale before dying.  I felt spiritually impotent.  Here I was, a type of outreach guru, and I couldn’t even witness effectively to my mostly unsaved family.  The rest of my family are pretty dang near the bottom of that same Engel scale.  They have a casual awareness that there is a God, but they aren’t Him.  It pretty much ends there with regards to faith with most of my family members.

Then my mom was attacked by the third type of cancer she has encountered in two decades:  breast cancer, skin cancer, and now finally fatal stage four renal cell carcinoma. She is way down in Florida and, living in Ohio, I can’t really see her as much as I would like to.   She has less than six months left.  There’s a bit more. . .I am sterile, yet changed that into a passion for being a teacher and I was pretty good at it and even won a few awards, but then I had a heart attack breaking up a fight at school and I was diagnosed with severe CHF and forced to retire early.

I spent a great amount of time in and out the hospital and have several pieces of my anatomy sliced, diced, and removed.  I tried to get healthier, but with a heart that works with less than 30% efficiency, my days in the classroom were over.

I threw myself into ministry becoming an outreach maniac and even became the editor of a national magazine dedicated to teaching folks around the world how to do two things:

  1. Notice the needs of people
  2. Help them notice God that is overjoyed to meet those needs for them

Sadly that groove only lasted a couple of years.  Due to medical pension stipulations, I had to resign.  In fact I had to curb all of my organized ministry endeavors for I am no longer able to lead or instruct others formally—even as a volunteer.  I now have to submit a report to the state board delineating my activities proving that I am not doing any form of leading others; I can’t even teach a Bible study or lead a small group. All this for the joy of collecting 21.25% of my final year’s salary—before taxes.

Then I found out I have a brain chemistry problem that the doctors still have not put their finger on.  I have become a test subject for pharmaceutical companies, only I am paying them, rather than them paying me as they try medication after medication to stabilize my brain chemistry.  Quite possibly it is never going to be fixed and could be a result of all the other medications I take for my Congestive Heart Failure; Hypertension and the fact that I no longer have part of my intestinal tract and stomach.

Some mornings I wake up and wonder why Job was being such a cry-baby.

In other words, I still love God because He is my Father, but lately I haven’t been in the mood to talk to him very much and being around people that are more “cheery” than me makes me even edgier than some of you have ever seen me, and if you thought me rude and brusque before, I am down right spiritually cantankerous at the moment. . .kinda like a crotchety Christian Dennis Miller who thinks he is funnier and smarter than he really is, and says everything he is thinking out loud.  So I began to stay away from gatherings so I am not toxic to others.

My spiritual pipes weren’t just clogged—they were backed up.

Anyway, I was almost in such a funk that I dang near took a pass on handing out turkeys this year, causing me to miss my first Turkeyfest. . .well since before we really didn’t have a name for it.  Back when we started it in the late 1980’s we just all pitched in out of our own pocket, loaded up a few pickup trucks with frozen turkeys, stuffing, canned goods, pumpkin pies and just doing the best a group of loving amateurs could do to hand out mercy and kindness from the back of a tailgate.

Twenty five years later and we were feeding over a thousand families each Thanksgiving—with a really nice spread.  I was going to bail on it.

Then two things changed my mind.

1) I heard a rumor that we might revisit the “old-school model” and have a bit more freedom to freelance/pray and stretch a few atrophied prophetic muscles and find random families to serve as the Lord led rather than use leads (with triplicate paperwork) from a social services agency making us little more than pizza delivery boys.  One time last year I was yelled at by the person I gave the turkey dinner to, that I bought out of my pocket, because I was ten minutes late arriving.

2) My youngest nephew, Adam, would be joining us for his first Turkeyfest. This precocious young man is the life of any party:  a kid that is two parts scoundrel and three parts saint.  You never know what is going to come out of his mouth, but more times than not it would be profound and sometimes even holy.

We reduced down, not going with a larger group this year; just our little extended family of me, my wife, and some of my inlaws.  They are Catholic, but let me tell you, that particular faith has forgotten more about service and kindness than any cutting edge parachurch you can name.  We bought two turkey dinners to give away.  The organizers at my church provided heavy-duty laundry baskets  (This is an awesome idea by the way—it holds a great deal of food and a full-sized turkey without breaking, and can be used to do laundry later!) and we just went to the store and filled it with a Thanksgiving bounty including a good sized bird.

The worship was awesome, but I had to chuckle when little Adam leaned into his mother’s shoulder and said:  “Uhhmm, mom, I think we went to the wrong place cause this sure ain’t no Catholic church.”

It was going to be a good day.

We drove through Lincoln Heights with our turkeys.  The landscape has sure changed since the days of the white bus and food runs I used to organize in this impoverished neighborhood when I was on staff over twenty years ago.  The entire place has been gentrified, but if you look close, you can still see the hidden poverty sprinkled around all the new condominiums city planners put in when the bulldozed the eight block grid housing project.  I almost go lost.

As we were driving down Chamberlain Ave. little Adam was inspired:  “Uncle Kenny, Instead of driving around all day and looking at houses, why don’t we just stop and ask that lady if she knows anybody that is hungry–she looks like she knows where we should go with the food.”

I look over and there is a single mom trying to load her car with a ton of laundry in plastic bags as she also herded two young kids. I hop out of the van and help her load her car introduce myself and ask her if she “knows of any families in the neighborhood going through a bad time that could maybe use an thanksgiving dinner with all the trimmings?”

She stared and me blankly for a moment and started crying and pointed to the door of the house.  “I don’t live here–that’s my dad’s place,” is all she said, but kept crying.

I motioned to the van and we all carried the pies and stuffing and potatoes and turkey etc inside to meet Marcus and his grandson Javonian.

Marcus explained that his wife had just recently passed and he was trying to make things okay, but it was real rough on the family.  To make matters worse, the heater was out, his car was broke, and he was about to lose his job.  On top of all that, his wife had always put out a large spread for the family at Thanksgiving, but not only did he not have a clue how to cook, he didn’t have the money to afford such a spread

I started to show him that we had even gave him some basic cooking directions and showed him the cooking tips guide in the basket, but he stopped me.  He pointed out the window at his daughter, “She won’t come in here right now ’cause she’s mad at me and the rest of the world.  She can cook just like her ma could though, so we are good there. Don’t worry.  She’ll come around.  She just knows we’re about to do church in this living room, and that is probably more than she could bear right now.”

Adam frowned up at the man, “Why is she mad?”

“Well. . .” tears welled up in his eyes, but he laughed, “we were just arguing this morning about what to do about Thanksgiving this year, and I told her I would pray and God would provide–then you all showed up a few minutes later. She ain’t really mad-mad, she just knows it is time to get right with God again, you know?  You folks showing up is just God messing around with her–and some folks don’t think God has a great sense of humor,”  Marcus smiled down at Adam as he wiped a tear from his face.  “Little man, you and your kin are an answer to prayers this morning,” and with that Marcus grabbed all our hands and we did church in his living room.

We prayed for Marcus and his grandson while his daughter lingered and watched with curiosity from the porch.  Then Adam tugged on my jeans:  “Aren’t you going to pray for his heater?”

I picked up the broken thermostat in my hand and Adam covered it with his and we prayed that God would “send a friend over that could help him hook it back up right.”  The phone rang just as we were leaving.  It was a friend of Marcus calling to see what would be a good time to come over and rewire the thermostat that had been lying on the floor.

My pipes are clean now.

Be Kind To the Poor by Robert Pittman

“Being kind to the poor is like lending to the Lord; he will reward you for what you have done.” (Proverbs 19:17)


Once a month we go out as a church and we call it “Love Louisville.” We also do an annual event that is city-wide with the same name (check out: www.lovelouisville.org for more info).

As a follow up to Christmas, we recently did what we called: “Winter Warm Outreach.” We collected new or gently used coats, hats, gloves and scarfs for men, women and children. We worked with Starbucks and they donated coffee and hot chocolate along with freshly baked muffins.

We often do other types of outreaches like bottled water giveaways, business blast where we take goodie bags to area workers, or gas buy-downs where we give out $2 bills at area gas stations and wash people’s wind shields for free. We still do those, but recently God has given me a heart to reach out more to the poor, the abused, the lonely, the neglected. So every month we have been very deliberate about doing outreaches that touch those people. So off we go to “Winter Warm.”

We drove to one of the poorest areas in Louisville and set up our giveaway in the area park adjacent to the projects. While people set up, a couple of guys and I started knocking on doors to invite people. “We’ve got FREE coats, hats, gloves for you and your kids along with hot chocolate” and people came in below freezing temperatures because of love. Up to 100 people loved, served, clothed, conversations with, thanks given, prayers prayed.

But there was one person I’ll never forget. Her name was Sellina. I was walking back from knocking on doors when I met her. She was in her car getting ready to take off when I walked up to the window and told her about the giveaway in the park.  She said, “I thought about coming over, but I didn’t want to take away from other people who needed it more than me.” And then to my surprise she pulled out a $5 bill and insisted I take it to put in our offering for outreach. I normally don’t take any kind of donations because we don’t want people to think there are any strings attached to our outreach. But she was insistent and started to tear up as she said, “Please, please take this and put it toward your outreach.”

She placed the $5 bill in my hand and as she did I joined hands with her and asked if I could pray with her. After I prayed, I looked up and there were tears streaming down her face and she could barely get the words out: “You don’t know how much I needed that…I’ve just been evicted.”

$5 dollars to her was like $50 to someone else, or $500, or $5000. It reminds me of the story Jesus told about the poor widow who gave money to the offering: “All the others gave what they do not need, but this poor widow gave out of her need” (Mark 12:44).

I never saw Sallina again, but I’ve never forgotten her and neither has God: “He puts poor people on their feet again; He rekindles burned-out lives with fresh hope, restoring dignity and respect to their lives” (1 Samuel 2:8). Guess what? He uses you and me to do it.

All God asks is this: “to remember to help the poor—something I really wanted to do” (Galatians 2:10). Because on one of the coldest days of the year, a woman who was evicted touched my life. And I believe God used me to touch hers.

A Biblical Commitment Demands Cultural Relevance by Paul Alexander

Much has been said and written in recent years, offering up all kinds of criticism of modern day Churches for trading off adherence to the Gospel of Jesus Christ for contemporary methods of communicating it. Interestingly enough the overwhelming majority of this criticism comes by way of other Churches. Typically it comes from Churches that are not growing criticizing Churches that are growing. After all, if a Church is growing, they’ve got to be doing something wrong don’t they?

I have a tendency to go the other way on this one. In fact, I’d go so far as to say if a Church isn’t working hard to be culturally relevant, it isn’t working hard to remain true to the Scriptures! You can’t be radically committed to the Scriptures without being radically committed to communicating the Scriptures in a culturally relevant manner.

It’s an easy statement to make because God has always communicated his message to people in a culturally relevant manner. Language, the time, place, ethnicity, gender, community, governance, and more has always been taken into consideration as the message of God was communicated to a particular audience.

The Apostle Paul, a master missionary, knew this about the heart of God and understood that the Gospel must be contextualized to each specific culture:

#1 Take time to understand the culture of your audience.

“…for as I was walking along I saw your many altars…” Acts 17:23

#2 Be positive, not negative, about the culture of your audience.

“So Paul, standing before the Council, addressed them as follows: ’Men of Athens, I noticed that you are very religious…” Acts 17:22

#3 Use the culture of your audience to connect with the heart of your audience.

“His purpose in all of this was that the nations should seek after God and perhaps feel their way toward him and find him—though he is not far from any one of us. For in him we live and move and exist. As one of your own poets says, ‘We are his offspring.’” Acts 17:27-28

#4 Relationally speak truth to your audience.

“For he has set a day for judging the world with justice by the man he has appointed, and he proved to everyone who this is by raising him from the dead.” Acts 17:31

About The Author

Paul Alexander is a Pastor, Leader, and Church Strategist. He has spent the last ten years of ministry serving in three mega-church settings as a Youth Pastor, Executive Pastor, and Lead Pastor. He has been married to his wife Lisa for 14 years. Together they have three children Kennedy, Mia, and Lincoln. You can follow Paul on Twitter or at his blog.