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Intentional Acts of Kindness
And be kind to one another,
tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven
A year after his father died, Joe Foss dropped out of college. Holding
down a couple of odd jobs, running the family farm and attending college
was just too much for him-something had to give, so he quit school. When
his younger brother was old enough to take over the farm, Joe returned
to Sioux Falls College and later the University of South Dakota. Along
the way, he was able to save up enough cash to take flying lessons and
in his Senior year he joined the Marines.
He was an old man of 26 by then, though he'd earned his wings, the military
thought he was too old to be a fighter pilot. Eventually he worked his
way up into a carrier group and a few months after Pearl Harbor he got
his first combat assignment-Guadalcanal. In six weeks he shot down 23 Japanese
planes, within a few more months he'd shot down his 26th plane
and was presented with the Medal of Honor. Malaria forced him to leave
the Pacific theater in 1944 and the next year he left the military.
Foss was a hero in anybody's book. But there's more to his story.
He worked several jobs in the private sector before running for public
office for the first time. He served as a member of the South Dakota House
from 1949-50 and 53-54, before becoming the governor of South Dakota in
1955 for two, two-year terms.
Sounds like a lot of accomplishments for just one man, doesn't it? But
there's more. After leaving public life, he became the first Commissioner
of the AFL and served in that capacity before the AFL & NFL merged
and the creation of the Super Bowl. He went on to serve as the host for
ABC's The American Sportsman and the host of his own syndicated series,
"The Outdoorsman: Joe Foss."
Today, he and his wife Donna live in Arizona and Joe travels around
the world giving speeches about "leadership, patriotism and his enduring
faith in God."
An impressive man. But the reason I'm telling you his story today has
little to do with these accomplishments. Let me explain what impresses
me about Joe Foss.
When Dave Beckwith was in
fourth grade, he delivered newspapers to businesses and the government
housing near the airport in Pierre, South Dakota. One afternoon he was
pedaling toward the airport when he hit a pot hole, crashed his bike and
spilled the newspapers all over the highway.
Embarrassed but not hurt,
he got up and started gathering the newspapers when a black limousine slowed
to a stop, and a man got out of the back seat to help.
"Are you OK?" He asked as
he began assisting Dave. The kind man stayed long enough to help Dave pick
up the papers and make certain that he was OK.
Dave couldn't help but notice
his license plate number when he drove away: "1." South Dakota Governor
Joe Foss was the man that stopped to help. "I knew nothing about his political
views," Dave said, "but he was a man of remarkable kindness, and a hero
to a nine-year-old boy!" (Fresh Illustrations http://www.freshministry.org/illustrations.html)
An intentional act of kindness. A small thing that made a big impression
on a little boy. An act that has impacted Pastor Beckwith's life and ministry.
Kindness is really a simple thing, it doesn't take much to be kind to
one another, it is a principle that even a child can grasp. Last Sunday
Night I walked into the Nursery during Choir practice to say Hi to Susan
when little Delaney Reeves greeted me. She started to tell me about her
baby brother Hunter that will be born soon, and then she added, "And when
he is born I'm going to share my toys with him."
See, it's not a tough concept. It is as simple as getting out of a limo
and helping a nine-year-old boy pick up Newspapers or offering to share
your toys with a baby brother. It is getting someone else a glass of Ice
Tea when you're up or phoning in the middle of the day just to say, "I
love you." It is treating your parents like "people" being home by your
curfew or picking up your room without being asked. Its just small stuff.
If it is so small, why can't we get it right?
In Exodus 4:20-26 Moses is
journeying with his family back toward Egypt to deliver the people of God
out of Pharaoh 's hands. But God wasn't going to let him go until he circumcised
his son. How could God let a deliverer rescue the people of the covenant
who wasn't keeping the covenant himself." We don't know exactly how it
happened, it could have been sickness or a direct confrontation, but God
was going to kill Moses if he didn't circumcise his son. Let me read the
text to you, and as I do, pay close attention to how Zipporah, Moses' wife
intervenes to save Moses' life, but also notice the attitude she does it
"So Moses took his wife and
his sons and mounted them on a donkey, and he returned to the land of Egypt.
Moses also took the staff of God in his hand.  And the Lord said to
Moses, 'When you go back to Egypt see that you perform before Pharaoh all
the wonders which I have put in your power; but I will harden his heart
so that he will not let the people go.  Then you shall say to Pharaoh,
'Thus says the Lord, 'Israel is My son, My first-born.  So I said to
you, 'Let My son go, that he may serve Me'; but you have refused to let
him go. Behold, I will kill your son, your first-born.'  Now it came
about at the lodging place on the way that the Lord met him and sought
to put him to death.  Then Zipporah took a flint and cut off her son's
foreskin and threw it at Moses' feet, and she said, 'You are indeed a bridegroom
of blood to me.'  So He let him alone. At that time she said, 'You
are a bridegroom of blood'-- because of the circumcision."
This episode is rarely more
than a footnote in the amazing story of how God used Moses to deliver his
people. A footnote that is easy to overlook. But today I want us to think
about Zipporah's actions. Zipporah was submissive to Moses and she saved
his life by her action, but look at her attitude-she certainly wasn't kind.
Her actions were uncalled for and her words were more than
abrasive, they were abusive.
Most scholars agree that
event is why Moses "sent her away" to live with her father instead of journeying
with him any further. Exodus 18:2 says, "And Jethro, Moses' father-in-law,
Moses' wife Zipporah, after he had sent her away," Notice the phrase, "sent
her away." It is the same phrase used in Mark 10:4 that says, "Moses permitted
a man to write a certificate of divorce and SEND her AWAY." There is no
mention that Moses gave her a certificate of divorce, and later Jethro
did bring Zipporah back to him, but this event did lead to a separation.
Too bad. Especially since
their relationship began with an act of kindness on Moses' part.
Let me read Exodus 2:15-21
to you. "When Pharaoh heard of this matter, he tried to kill Moses. But
Moses fled from the presence of Pharaoh and settled in the land of Midian;
and he sat down by a well.  Now the priest of Midian had seven daughters;
and they came to draw water, and filled the troughs to water their father's
flock.  Then the shepherds came and drove them away, but Moses stood
up and helped them, and watered their flock.  When they came to Reuel
their father, he said, 'Why have you come back so soon today?'  So
they said, 'An Egyptian delivered us from the hand of the shepherds; and
what is more, he even drew the water for us and watered the flock.' 
And he said to his daughters, 'Where is he then? Why is it that you have
left the man behind? Invite him to have something to eat.'  And Moses
was willing to dwell with the man, and he gave his daughter Zipporah to
Too bad that a relationship
that was born of kindness disintegrated into abusive language and demeaning
actions. Especially when being kind, really is an easy thing to do.
Why is it, that we will treat
a stranger with kindness, and our own family members with contempt?