Monday, September 29, 2008

Christians Thrive as They Flow Love Out to Others

Love of God will not continue to flow to churches and Christians if there is no flowing out of love and ministry as commanded by Jesus in Scripture.

That sounds a little "preachy" and I know bloggers prefer open statements that invite dialogue. I'm willing to break the protocol because I am passionate about my weekend of ministry. Saturday and Sunday night our prison ministry held services at the highest security women's prison in our state. We must go both nights because the chapel can only hold 250+ women and there are so many women who desire to worship with us that we must come back to back.

We bring our sound equipment, instruments, praise team, intercessors, me...the scribe, and preachers one weekend a month. Over 50 people gave up their time from 3 PM to 10 PM to travel and minister to these prisoners. As I listened to many of the people talking about singing for hours in worship during our two services in front of TV cameras to thousands, and to us 4,000 in each service and then revving up to jump on the bus by 3 PM was tough. Then many would be getting up at 4 or 5 AM to get to their jobs or schools to begin the week this morning.

The meeting was profound and many women came to the Lord. The sermons dealt with their guilt and shame and their fatherlessness. Every time we go I am impacted spiritually beyond what I can put into words.

As I sat listening to these joy-filled whipped saints thank God for the privilege of this mission I was blessed. I sat on the bus asking God what all of this means. I had a sense of a healthy river. This prison ministry is only one ministry of nearly 200 ministries flowing out of our church from shelter to the homeless, food for the starving and soon a Christian school for the children falling between the justice system's cracks. I felt God showing me this holy enthusiasm was going on as the saints flow His love in all these ministries. Then I thought of healthy rivers: as the flow of water is released from the river there is capacity to receive more into it without flooding over its banks.

I'm going out on a limb. I believe that churches that work to tend to folks within their "inside" church family without a hands on ministry to those Jesus called us to work with can become like a damned up river. I sense also that this flow from Heaven to "healthy" flowing churches applies to those within that church family individually as they are a part of the church and corporately for the church as a whole.

What scriptures am I referring to? Here are a few:

"Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our trials, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God." 2 Corinthians 1:3-4

"Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them ….teaching them ...Matt. 28:18-20.

"Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world." James 1:27

"For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me." Matthew 25:35

I've been a member for decades in churches that were geared to avoiding error and keeping traditions in tact and sending a check to a mission board. The emphasis was on us, me and mine. There are many irrelevant and dead the main reason that Jesus is not lifted up above all....and His words of risky vulnerable hands on...get dirty ministry avoided? I love the church....I want every church flowing and thriving!!!

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Thriving Is Living Beyond Mediocrity

Most men lead lives of quiet desperation and go to the grave with the song still in them.

- Henry David Thoreau

Everything I've touched this weekend has passionately called me as a Christian to wake up to the seriousness of the hour in America. Once awake, embrace who I am in Christ and His Kingdom, and move into action as His ambassador to be a helper in solutions to issues we face, "His kingdom come here on earth.."
Yesterday I traveled with our prison ministry to a large high security women's prison for a worship service. Oh, the gratitude and hunger of those women!!! The exoffender pastor repeated over and over "You are here for what you've done; but that is not who you are." He shared how he came to know Jesus in prison. He carried his Bible with him visibly on the yard and was ridiculed as a "Jesus freak" daily. He was calling to these inmates to make choices while incarcerated that glorified Jesus. He told them he was convinced the wonderful life God has opened for him is connected to this conscious decision to do all for God while he was on the inside of that prison.

I don't know about you, but I can use that sermon. I have held out my all for God with qualifiers like: whenever this money comes in; when he acts right I will do my part; on and on. "If Only's" mess me up. No, right now with whatever mess is around me: All for You, Jesus.

I love the Scripture where Jesus proclaims He will spew out lukewarm. I may have been headstrong racing in the wrong direction, but seldomly have I been called lukewarm or mediocre. But sometimes I've been overwhelmed and I was stalled and stymied from action I knew in my heart needed to be done. I have that sense this weekend with everything I've read or heard. God is calling me and other Christians to put action to backup our words: Be His feet, hands, and mouth to a world that desparately aches for Him.

I write here on this blog with my all to encourage myself with some "issues" to thrive because of who I am in Christ. I do hope anyone who stops by to read this is encouraged to thrive. During worship service today, our senior pastor poured out his heart on the conditions of many Americans. He called us to be relevant to their pain and lack of spiritual understanding. He challenged us to lovingly reach out and believe for salvation for specific people. As I've shared before I'm a member of one of the largest churches in America. We do much to address issues in our city, but he's calling us to do more individually and corporately.
This whole weekend has been a call to action of who I am in Christ, vibrantly impacting my world. To top it off I have discovered a book , Accept No Mediocre Life: Living Beyond Labels, Libels, and Limitations (Publisher: FaithWords (February 23 2006) by Dr. David Foster, founder and senior pastor of Bellevue Community Church in Nashville, Tennessee. He is known as a true street-smart communicator who uses humor and simple illustrations to help seekers find God.

He hit right on where our pastor was preaching "Hopeless is not an option because of two facts only you can face. You are today what your choices have made you. Not your mama, not your daddy, not your brother. You did not choose your labels, but only you can choose to remove the old lenses and look at your life from God's perspective. You are not responsible for all the "stuff " done to you. You shouldn't feel ashamed of what some halfhearted, small-minded person in your past said or did. But only you control what happens to what happened to you. The second bit of good news is, you can be better the moment you decide to be."

"The first declaration to make is, "I am loved right now as I am, and that is enough." That's freedom. God knows everything about you and loves you anyway. He will never love you more than He does right now, and He will never love you any less. That's grace."

"Learning how to live in God's love, I think, is spending the rest of your life just saying, "God, how can I be the best at being me?" Instead of trying to be someone else, be the best you can be, but be that! Be yourself! Stop being ashamed of being who you are. Embracing your uniqueness starts with exchanging the lens of labels for the lens of love.

Foster urges readers to shed the labels others so often place on us, especially the most dangerous label of all: mediocre. All labels are libels, and this one is the most insidious. When we believe the opinions of others about us, we can't fail to measure up to their meager expectations. But there are ways to break free, to go through life dancing, twirling, testing our limits, embracing the best God has in store for us.

As an old proverb has it, "He who aims at excellence will be above mediocrity; he who aims at mediocrity will be far short of it."

Foster calls out: "I will embrace my uniqueness." "I will conquer my fears." " I will serve a noble cause." I will treat time as life." He reminds us that perfect conditions, perfect timing and perfect skills for achieving excellence will never come.

Foster along with everyone I heard this weekend calls us seize today and vow to begin a life-changing, life-affirming journey to reach the awesome possibilities ahead. He proclaims, "We will not be denied, because we refuse to live within the limits of man-made labels and libels. We will not accept a mediocre life and we will not disappear quietly into the middle. We gladly accept the proverb 'Those who hear not the music, think the dancer's mad.' We hear the music, it's in our heart and soul, and we must dance."

Dream, believe, respond to the Love and Hope in Jesus Christ. His Word, the Bible, is your bread of, take it in, dare to feed your spirit and see how wonderfully you indeed are made. See the wonder of thriving life our Heavenly Father has always meant for us to live!

Friday, September 26, 2008

Fun Friday: Laugh, Why Not?

The closest distance between 2 people is a good laugh, " Victor Borge

Besides the gloom and doom of America's financial mess ("greed finally caught up with us!!!"; I have been working in my church's resource ministry to the needy and ex offenders. Wow! Working in a cubicle and overhearing phone conversations to people facing foreclosure; being evicted from rental properties; sick with limited funds from being out of work; etc. I need a lift. So, I'm assuming you come to the end of this serious week in America with the need of a laugh.

I'm studying humorists and one of my favorites is the late, Barbara Johnson.

Barabara had great tragedies in her life in a few years. During a Christianity Today interview she said that she stayed positive by, "God has fine-tuned me. I lost my dad when I was twelve, then I lost one son and then the next son. So I've been through a lot of losses. One son was lost in Vietnam and one killed by a drunk driver. I think because I have been through that and I have experienced a lot of pain that I have credentials. They have to listen to me. I'm not just being funny telling jokes. I have been in the pits. I have been where I wanted to die, where I wanted to kill myself and to kill anyone else (laughs). I've come through it, and God has infused me with a lot of joy. That's what I want to use, to get into my books as I share my books with people so they can use it and be a conduit of God's love too."

Barbara, "Getting an emotional makeover doesn't involve denying your problems; it welcomes trials full-strength, all the time saying, "Lord, I accept each day as it comes, filtered through your love. In these troubles I choose joy." I choose joy by refusing to accept the lie that I have to feel miserable about the baggage, the stuff that trails me no matter how I try to hide or outwit it. I do zany, kooky, funny things to make myself and others laugh. One verse that encourages me to get and to stay in good humor is Job 8:21 "He will yet fill your mouth with laughter and your lips with shouts of joy." Laughter is the most inexpensive, non-flattening, contagious,pleasant way to release stress. One laugh equals 3 spoons of oatbran and burns 6 calories. Laughing is like jogging on the inside. God's given me the ability to make amusement a ministry, and I praise Him for it, because laughter brings healing.

Proverbs 11:25 "He who refreshes others will himself be refreshed." I'm grateful God allowed my broken life to become a fountain of joy for others. For when you pour out God's love on others, it boomerangs right back to you! "

So.......let's go.... and I'm trusting Holy Spirit revs you up to laugh outrageously with me and many times this weekend!! As Barbara says we're going to set ourselves up for a good healthy laugh!

As a new bride I was a novice cook, and I took a scientific approach to cooking. I got the best cookbooks and measured accurately. Somehow I never got around to learning how to operate the ancient gas stove in our efficiency apartment. Nothing was legible on the dials and I just winged the lighting of the oven, etc.

One Sunday morning I had decided to wow my groom with a spectacular breakfast. I eased out of bed so he could sleep while I whipped up a gourmet masterpiece. I donned my fuzzy chenille robe; rolled up my hair in huge curlers...this was the sixties and I had to have my BiGGGGG hair; and then I slipped on my stretchy ruffled hair cap to cover my curlers.

Down the stairs I ran to jump on this project. I studied the cookbook while I turned on the gas for the oven. Then I started frying some sausage. "Oops I need to light the oven." That flame shot up quickly when I struck the match. I shut the door and proceeded to lose myself in the recipe instructions and frying that sausage.

Bam!! a flame shot out of that oven door that knocked me against the wall. Flames were flying through the chenille tufts of my robe, and then my ruffles on my cap caught on fire. I ran to the bottom of the stairs and screamed, " John!!!" Oh, my man was to the rescue ....he jumped out of bed and grabbed his steady shotgun; cocked it and hit the stairs in lightening speed. I was smoking, black and almost unrecognizable. I'm thinking, "I'm on fire and he's going to shoot me !" "'s me, Kay....I'm on fire!!!"

He looked stunned, put the shotgun down and came to help me. I wasn't hurt....the robe looked like cheesecloth; the fire ate up each tuft without getting to me; the ruffles of the cap ate up the flames and except for singed eyebrows I was fine.

Now why would my Southern man think shotgun when I yelled "help?" Well....we sorta' do that down here in the deep South. But this morning I understood. As we were getting off to sleep we had watched the 11 o'clock news. There had been a break-in several blocks from our inner city apartment. It frightened both of us. Obviously he assumed we'd been hit by the same at large criminal. Oh, I thank God he didn't shoot soot covered smoking me!

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Moment By Moment Understanding & Power

"What is the difference in knowledge and understanding?" asked a young man studying Proverbs. Yesterday this was the DEEP question I was asked by a seeker wanting the all of God. My mind was whirling on how to answer this skeptical, hurting honest questioner. A thousand answers came into my mind. I had to pray for Holy Spirit to enlighten my mind to know how I could speak with clarity to this person who lives a life so differently from mine.

I asked him if he recalled Cliff from the TV sitcom, Cheers. He nodded. "Cliff was full of knowledge on thousands of topics and no one was interested in listening to anything he wanted to "preach," I told him. In fact I know people full of Bible words and facts, but they have not sought the Holy Spirit for understanding and no one cares to hear them; nor does anyone see Christ operating through their lives.

Thank God this connected with his "understanding." Then we ended up in a long conversation about the difference in a committed life "thriving" with the leading of Holy Spirit and a life waiting to die and finally get things right in Heaven.

I got a little caught in my own "Cliff" moment. I went on far too long on how God has a thriving adventurous life for all of His children. Finally after I operated in my "knowledge" for several minutes, Holy Spirit showed me the depression this young man endures with every step he makes. Bam! (That's my slap up the side of my head.) Depression is a terrible blight on a struggling Christian. When I've been depressed the most irritating painful person is the one trying to get me going before I can stand the light of hope. Oh....thank God I am filled with Holy Spirit; and being filled continually; otherwise I would not have known how to connect with this young man.

After agreeing with him on the drain of depression and showing him I understood; he could hear that there is hope in God beyond what he has known to the present. He'll be in church Sunday and I just "know" he will "see" and understand what God has for him now; and through the rest of his life.

He was totally mystified by my excitement in living and my quest for adventure in each day I live. He first said, "You're fearless." I laughed, "No, my knees knock often. I've got callouses from knee knocks. But my faith in God is so present in everything I do, I believe He's already been where I am going and He directs my steps. He's my assurance."

In my mind this is a logical smooth follow up post from yesterday's post on empowerment through the filling of Holy Spirit. I honestly could not have answered his question in terms he could relate to without the leading of Holy Spirit.

I'll be seeing this young man again soon. What would you suggest I speak to him on the difference in knowledge and understanding?

II Tim. 1:14 13-14So keep at your work, this faith and love rooted in Christ, exactly as I set it out for you. It's as sound as the day you first heard it from me. Guard this precious thing placed in your custody by the Holy Spirit who works in us.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Ultimate Empowerment

Life in America has suddenly become challenging to everyone. September, 2008 will be historically significant for our nation because of our economic shifts and fears. Yesterday I attended a business networking lunch and learn. In attendance were bankers and financial planners along with other business professionals. When discussion landed on the economy I saw the fear on every one's faces. All of us know someone that's been laid off; or someone taking on jobs of fellow workers laid off.
This Friday I will be directing a Christian business networking luncheon. I look forward to that group because when the challenges of this current tension comes up; we have answers and solutions that could not be understood fully in yesterday's luncheon. As a Christian my source of strength is in God as I am filled with God's Spirit. My peace, power and joy are not limited by my skills and my circumstances. My strength and hope are in God; as I am filled with His Spirit and I respond to His lead.

Recently in a small group of Christians of many denominations we discussed having the strength to face our challenges. I brought up the fact than in ourselves we cannot make it; but filled with Holy Spirit and led by God through Him is our hope. That set off some lively sparks. I'm convinced we want to avoid this topic because of our difference in Bible interpretation to the point that we do not focus on this great truth sufficiently to walk in the power Jesus secured for us.

So ........ I'm daring to jump in there!!! America, God is not surprised by the Wall Street blues. Fanny Mae does not have Him buffaloed. You and I operate with provision beyond our comprehension. Circumstances don't own us. But in the Bible I read, "you have not because you ask not." So my hope is in God and I ask to be filled with the Spirit of God to be ultimately empowered for all that will come to challenge me and mine.

Knowing I could stir up many questions on what do I mean by "filled with the Spirit," I choose to conclude this post with John Piper:

The fundamental meaning of being filled with the Spirit is being filled with joy that comes from God and overflows in song.

And Luke would agree with that, too, because he says in Acts 13:52, "The disciples were filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit."

To be sure, one of the marks of a person filled with the Spirit is that he is made strong to witness in the face of opposition (Acts 4:8, 31; 7:55; 13:9).

But the reason for this is that "the joy of the Lord is your strength" (Nehemiah 8:10).

"When you are happy in God you are a strong and brave witness to His grace. So I repeat, whatever joy or peace you find in alcohol, the Spirit of God can give you more.

Even the psalmist of the Old Testament had experienced this. He says in Psalm 4:7- 8:
You (O Lord) have put more joy in my heart than they have when their grain and wine abound.
In peace I will both lie down and sleep; for you alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety.

And that psalm leads us now to our final, all important question of how we can obey this command to be filled with the Spirit. We are commanded to be full, and yet we are not the filler, the Spirit is. The answer to this predicament in the New Testament is that God has ordained to move into our lives with fullness through faith. The pathway that the Spirit cuts through the jungle of our anxieties into the clearing of joy is the pathway of faith.

Luke says of Stephen in Acts 6:5, that he was "a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit," and he says of Barnabas in Acts 11:24 that he was "a good man full of the Holy Spirit and of faith," The two go together. If a person is filled with faith he will be filled with the Spirit, the Spirit of joy and peace.

The most important text in Paul's writings to show this is Romans 15:13, "May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope." Notice that it is in or by believing that we are filled with joy and peace. And it is by the Spirit-that we abound in hope.

When we put those two halves of the verse together what we see is that through our faith (our believing) the Spirit fills us with His hope and thus with His joy and peace. And, of course since hope is such an essential part of being filled with joy by the Spirit, what we have to believe is that God is, as Paul says, the "God of hope." We have to rivet our faith on all that He has done and said to give us hope.

Nobody stays full of the Spirit all the time -- no one is always totally joyful and submissive to God and empowered for service. But this should still be our aim, our goal, our great longing. "As a hart pants for the flowing streams, so my soul pants for you, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God" (Psalm 42:1,2). But in order to slake that thirst we must fight the fight of faith. We must preach to our souls a sermon of hope:

Why are you downcast, O my soul, and why are you disquieted within me? Hope in God. For I shall again praise Him. He is my help and my God (Psalm 42:5, 11; 43:5).

We must set before our own soul the banquet of promises that God has made to us and feed our faith to the full. Then it may be said of us as it was of Stephen and Barnabas: "They were filled with faith and with the Holy Spirit."

Monday, September 22, 2008

Listen IV: Listening Is The Greatest Gift We Offer

Listen and truly care about what and why I speak; and you have blessed me immeasurably.

I'm reading/listening to your comments on listening; and you have inspired me to commit to become the best listener I can be. You touched me with your honesty about planning your reply while someone is talking....your children have worn you down and you half listen to them most of the are so into your "must do" list, you find it hard to tune in and truly hear when others are speaking.

I worked up some wordles from your comments:

Today my car died. There are some drastic procedures that would get it going, but it wouldn't be that safe. The mechanic is an old friend and he took out time to hear listen to me about the new car I'm buying. I have memories in this car and I don't want to let it go...a little of my husband, etc. My friend, my mechanic, must have picked up on that...he quit everything to talk me through my dilemma. He even picked up on me wanting to keep my car going....without me going into the melancholy reasons for holding on. I end up this series as the one blessed by a busy man who shut everything down to hear a widow lament on what to do with a car breakdown. He spent the time to go over ever model I am curious about. I know why I want the one car I plan to buy...he even advised me to purchase in a town nearby for a better deal!!! I've been heard....and I listened to an expert and I walk into my first car purchase by myself with assurance and wisdom!!!




Sunday, September 21, 2008

Listening III: Merciful Gift of Earnest Hearing

"There is a kind of listening with half an ear that presumes already to know what the other person has to say. It is an impatient, inattentive listening, that despises the brother and is only waiting for a chance to speak and thus get rid of the other person. This is no fulfillment of our obligation, and it is certain that here to our attitude toward our brother only reflects our relationship to God. It is little wonder that we are no longer capable of the greatest service of listening that God has committed to us, that of hearing our brother's confession, if we refuse to give ear to our brother on lesser subjects." - Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Life Together, p.98

As I have studied listening I agree with Dietrich Bonhoeffer listening with full attention is fulfilling our commitment to "love others as we love ourselves." Thriving as Christians depends on healthy interactions between our family members, friends and fellow church members. As I look over the following verses I am reminded of good listeners.

"He that showeth mercy, with cheerfulness" (Romans 12:8)

"Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy." (Matthew 5:7)

"Bear ye one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ." (Galatians 6:2)

Today I had a friend call me while I was dressing for an important church meeting. I was not in charge but it was important for me to attend. What to do? Tell my distraught friend that I would call her later, or risk being late to the meeting. I chose the embarrassment of walking in ten minutes late. I know I pleased God in that decision because this friend has never been in this much pain before. As I listened and then responded she came to herself. Slowly she made a plan to get through the next few days. She cried and poured her heart out. I listened. Then we prayed together. She was able to hear herself talk and "see" her way in Christ through this crisis. My input was mostly listening and commenting in agreement with her. She had her answers within her, but she needed a caring listener.

Send in a comment on truths you have on listening. I am gathering information on this subject because it is so dear to my heart: as a listener and as one who needs to be heard.

Listen II: LIstening as Ministry

Honor others by listening with respect to all they say.
This is the second post in a series on listening. Have you been heard? Is your spouse, boss, friends, co-workers, pastor hearing you? Oh, you know when they fake it; and you know when you are not truly heard. Hold onto the feeling of not being heard, when you've shared earnestly with someone and they chose to tune out. That feeling gives you empathy for those you choose to tune out. Overworked, over-committed, overwhelmed sums up most folks' situation too many days. It is difficult to listen intently when you're in!!!

Paul Tournier has written much on listening to God and to others. He says, ".... find a quiet, peaceful person who knows how to listen and who isn't thinking all the time about what he has to do next. If your life is chock-full already, there won't be room for anything else. Even God can't get anything else in. So it becomes essential to cut something out.)"1

I've studied listening from the Bible and relationship experts for years. I promise to give you the best nuggets I've mined out of thousands of pages of wisdom. The first keys are honor, respect and patience.

From Apostle Paul, 1 Corinthians 13:4 "Love is very patient and kind...." Jesus Christ's attitude shows us how to listen to all people with respect. As Christians we can treat people with His attitude. As we recall His interactions with others He was the best model in listening with honor, respect and patience.

Boring......."why can't she get to the point without all of this minute detail?" That was my big problem in listening before God convicted me to hear Him and listen to others compassionately. As a selfish impatient youth I honestly believed I should never be bored. Ironically, I'm seldom bored now that I have learned to listen openly to others.

Every human being has basic needs to belong to others and to be understood. Paul Tournier,
"No one can fully develop in this world and find a full life without feeling understood by at least one person. No one comes to know himself through introspection or in the solitude of his personal diary. Rather, it is in dialogue with his meeting with other people."

In dealing with others, I figure out who I am and who God made me to be. That’s why I need relationships. My first breakthrough in listening was to identify my impatience with others was my main problem in listening. I lacked understanding of some people.
It is in seeing the hurt, anger and need in people that I am gaining understanding. In listening with an open heart I see the pain behind anger and whining. Listening is deeper than hearing. In Proverbs 18:13 Solomon wisely advises me, "Listen before you answer. If you don't you are being stupid and insulting." ....Living Bible states it "What a shame...yes, how stupid! decide before knowing the facts!"

Yes, in time I realized it is true God gave me two ears and one mouth. I had flipped it and used my mouth much more than concentrating on hearing with understanding: listening.

Enough about me....let's see how well you listen. How would you rate yourself as a listener? How would those around you rate you? On a scale of 1 - 10 how do you rate as a listener?

Watch out, you may consider yourself better than you really are.. Research has shown that only 7% of the meaning of what we say is communicated in words. 43% of that meaning comes from how we say it:

  • vocal tone

  • pitch

  • volume

  • delivery.
The remaining 50% of the true meaning comes from non verbal language:
  • facial expressions

  • hand gestures

  • body language.

Because of these facts on listening phone conversations are only 50% effective. We can’t see what the other person is communicating through their body. I learned that my eyes were as important as my ears in listening.

Dare to experiment with me this week and give others the benefit of the doubt and commit to "hear" them, no matter what. Give them your total attention. Honor and respect them with a Christ-like attitude and let patience flow through you all situations. Send in your comments because I want to read them and "listen" to you!!!

1 Paul Tournier, A Listening Ear: Reflections on Christian Caring (Minneapolis, MN: Augsburg, 1984).

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Listen I: Empowering Hearing & Understanding

Listen, it's good for you.

Our era is named the Information Age. Words, music, and noise come at us continually. Media stars are correctly termed "Talking Heads." I'm convinced we've developed "tune out" skills to shut out so much noise in our lives. Unfortunately that has contributed to the poor listening skills many of us use in relating to others.

Today begins a series on listening. As a big talker I find intentionally developing my listening skills to be one of the best things I do to improve all my relationships. I rarely find good listeners in ministry, business or among my family and friends. The few I know are on my short list of folks I love having around.

To thrive as a Christian for me is in direct proportion to my listening to God, (and obeying Him). When my heart is tender and compassionate to "hear" others in my life, I find my relationships thrive. I value my viewpoint, but not above everyone else's. My hope is that you will find a nugget or two that improves your listening skills through this series.

A few years ago I had a severe ear infection. I soon tired of asking family and friends to repeat themselves. One day my husband and I were a few miles out of town at a small country store/gas station. He asked me "Would you like some deodorant? I hear it's good here." He was picky on his toiletries and I shook my head "No." I sat there in the car wondering how nutty could he be; coming this far out of town just to buy deodorant. Then he got in the car licking a soft yogurt. That was the beginning of my quandary to learn to "hear" and listen with the intention of knowing what the speaker said and meant.

Following comes from Scott Ginsberg's website:

Think about the people who have had the most influence in your life - did they listen to you?

How did they make you feel important?

You, too, can be one of those special people, just by improving your listening skills. Great leaders are usually great listeners, and I remember one in my life who often told me that I have two ears and one mouth for a reason. You can be a better communicator and leader, as well as let others know that you value them, by learning to listen more effectively. Start listening today!

The first irony:Effective listeners are always in demand.Listeners are always popular wherever they go.And yet, most people FAIL at listening.Interesting.

The second irony:Listening is THE most important business skill you could possess.Listening is the only thing you do more than breathing.And yet, 90% of schools and universities don’t offer courses on listening.That’s odd.

The third irony:Listening lowers blood pressure, which reduces stress.Being listened to increases your self-esteem, self-worth and purpose.Having a person who listens to you makes you feel more confident and boosts your immune system.And yet, listening is the #1 complaint by customers across most industries.Huh. Weird.

The fourth irony:Listening – if practiced DAILY and more diligently – can change the world.Listening – if practiced DAILY and more diligently – can attract more business, elicit greater loyalty and foster deeper solidarity.And yet, in the history of the world, nobody’s every said, "Gee, I wish you wouldn’t listen so much!"Wow.

So, two questions:1. Do you think your personal and professional life would benefit from improving your listening skills? (Good. That’s what I thought.)

2. What have you done – specifically, in the past 30 days – to improve your listening skills?

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Fun Friday: Self Defense Aunt Eunice Style

"Saturday "going to town" day means you've got to be ready for anything!" Back a few weeks ago I shared a fun time with my aunt Eunice (Fun Friday Oops! Laugh & Thrive ). Every Saturday Aunt Eunice, her husband and I traveled ten miles to "town." Our town was very much like Mayberry in the Andy Griffin show. Working hard all week on the farm it was an exciting treat to get dressed up and go to town.

Aunt Eunice made a big production of dressing up with hat, gloves and her Sunday best outfit. She always carried a large purse to match her shoes. Just as we would get ready to leave she would put a huge bottle of milk of magnesia in this purse. One day I asked her if she had serious stomach trouble.

Aunt Eunice was indignant at my question. She cleared her throat and explained to me, "No, I don't have any health problems. You never know who might give you trouble in town. Let somebody try to mess with us and I'll....." She whirled that Milk of Magnesia padded lethal weapon pocket book as if to whack a criminal over the head.

My mouth was gaping open. I had lived in Miami for four years and of course, I saw our little town as utterly peaceful. I nodded with puzzlement. She went back to the mirror to be sure her outfit was in order after her self defense demonstration. A tilt of the hat, a tug of her suit skirt and a second glance of her full view and we were off to the adventure of "town!!!"

I love recalling Aunt Eunice scenarios. May you remember funny moments and do yourself a favor: laugh. Thriving is promoted with good laughter. Thank God for the lively people like Aunt Eunice that make the ordinary extraordinary.

Servant Saints Who Don't Need Spotlight

The Kingdom of God is made up of loving equipped saints that roll up their sleeves and work.

William Carey changed the history of India. He was a brave courageous missionary. A speaker once remarked that we don't have missionaries like him anymore. Someone else noted that Carey's sister lay paralyzed in bed for fifty years and could only articulate few words. Propped up in bed, she wrote lengthy letters encouraging Carey and prayed continuously for him. This person mentioned that if we don't have missionaries like Carey, it could be because they do not have prayer warriors like Carey's sister.

Quiet, work behind the scenes is needed desperately in churches, non-profit ministries and in meaningful works throughout the world. Yesterday I spent the day organizing files and entering data into databases for over 8 hours for a ministry in my church. The need was critical and much appreciated.

I'm convinced there are servants being called to the hidden, necessary tasks and there are ministries needing these saints. I throw this dilemma out to you.

Is the void of workers in place the fault of reticent workers?

Is there a communication problem within the church, ministry, etc?

Generations past had an unction to help in the mundane, no glory positions with diligence and faithfulness. Is this another one of those generational sins of self-centered egotistical spot-light hungry folks we must face and repent?

I am concerned about this as I hear the laments of people in the mission fields locally and globally. I am starting up some new ministries and I will need to solicit workers. I am the worker in some instances and I am now moving into the leadership end of this issue.

It took a long time for me to find my fit as a worker in my church. I personally believe there are many workers full of inspiration, but not knowing how to connect their offering to the appropriate need.

Send in your feedback...I need your insight.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Wisdom After Possum's Demise

"Stand" and "Resist:" illustrated well by my possum interloper this week. Paul uses these two words in Ephesians when he directs us in The key words in Ephesians on spiritual warfare. "Therefore, take up the full armour of God, so that you will be able to resist in that evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm. Stand firm therefore..." (Ephesians 6:13)

I love blogging when you readers send in your view points of my posts. For the last three days I've been sharing the funny, yet frightening time I've had with a possum in my yard. I love the Lord, the Bible and my Christian journey so much I see a life lesson in everything. It's a joke in my family..."oh, yeah, Mom we know you see a life illustration in this chaos."

But with the injured, blind possum standing firm against my guard dog, my frightened yelling and the police I do see wisdom I can use. Reading your posts, God's Word and contemplating all of this I want to be alert and watchful with my spiritual arsenal ready, but I will keep on with the work at hand.

Thrive Christians salutes our great readers:

For the last few days I've been sharing some scary moments I've had with an injured possum lurking about my city home. Blogging amazes me how it connects us from all over the world. This possum incident has shown that wonderfully.

Lori (blog: Joyfulsister) shared her thoughts on possums and standing firm:
Standing firm to me is never giving up, keeping focus on the Lord who is the author and finisher of our faith. standing firm to me is also standing upon his word and to keep believing that he is true to his word, and that it will not return void.
I have never seen a possum they kind a look like the wild moon goose we have running around here in Hawaii

Dorothy Champagne has left a new comment on your post "Possum Standoff Conclusion":

Your insights are wonderful here, Kay, about standing firm. And also, I looked at it from the other side (as I often do, in my twisted world). Oh the poor possum? Often times we are frightened by things that come at us, we determine to stand strong and do battle - but sometimes, it might just be someone that's hurting and they are looking for an answer - but don't know where to go for help - or how to act to get that help. They know they're on the verge of all hope being lost, and they don't care what they have to go up against.

So while we are standing firm in our faith - we can look to see the possible hurt in the ones we come across.

Not that we should help possums . . . because a good broom and swift upper body muscle movements will do wonders

Nicole of said...
"People out of their minds don't fear anything. Even the ole' possum appeared fearless, but he was blind. Victory for the Christian is feeling the fear and being obedient in faith of Almighty God."I love this quote. I was thinking about this very thing yesterday! I had read a similar quote the day before and it really got me thinking. Thanks Kay!PS-I don't think that it's a little thing that you learned this lesson from a possum. I think we can learn from anyone or anything in our life if we choose to.

God is our protector: we can stand firm and resist.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Possum Standoff Conclusion

Two police cars pull in to save widow from "strange" acting loose possum in downtown.

Yesterday I shared that a possum showed up to show down my guard dog at 5 AM in the morning. I was astounded at the bravery of the little possum when my huge dog was threatening him with barks and attitude of body language.

Mid-morning the possum was still in my front yard in full sun lying around "playing possum." Finally I called the police and after many calls to Wildlife to Animal Control and many answering machines two police cars show up. Evidently they get calls frequently for roaming raccoons and possums terrorizing residents. After moving the possum with a stick they saw that he was injured from being run over. He was evidently blind and had other severe injuries on his body. There was no threat of rabies and he would probably die soon. I had a young man helping me with yard work. Later in the afternoon he died and this young man took care of everything.
God's mercy amazes me. That "little" incident was quite frightening for me living alone. But the officers were so accommodating and quick to respond. Tony was wonderful in doing the "guy" thing with the situation. Any other day I would have been alone. I would have had to call in adult children or friends for helpp or worse yet, handle it myself. But everyone I needed was already here....amazing.

So..................guess the possum wasn't just brave and standing firm, eh? No, he was nearly dead and could only hear my big dog tell him to leave his yard. I see spiritual analogies in everything, so I could 'go there' with blind and looking courageous, but today I want to honor the comments you wrote on "standing firm."

Nicki of three girly girls at wrote:
Standing firm for me is not budging when it comes to the battles that are against us each day. Being able to recognize the battles half the time is the biggest battle!!

I agree with Nicki and my "guest" possum demonstrated one of my vulnerabilities in standing firm: I'm blind and deceived at possible threats. I'm convinced I don't think enough of the power of my words to myself and others. I committed years ago to never speak anything aloud that I did not want to happen to me or my family.
I had a habit of making light of myself through sarcastic, self-deprecating humorous remarks. My entire conversation patterns changed. I will not voice a worry in defeatist terms. I frame those statements in context of what I am believing through the help of God to transpire.
I'm a thinker and a talker; so being aware and alert to "see" the power of my words is critical for me to "stand firm." Nicki, I appreciate your reminder of the daily need to "stand firm."

Marilyn in Mississippi said...
To me standing firm is when God has been very clear about something in His Word. Then when I am tempted in myself or by someone else to go against what I know to be "firmly" right, I try to ..with God's help...stand firm on that issue.

Yes, Marilyn, our "sight" comes from the standard laid out clearly in the Bible and opened up to our understanding through the work of Holy Spirit. Seems it is God's plan to give us an "exam" on all newly revealed truth. Whenever anything wonderfully new is going on in my life spiritually there is always a test of some sort for me to "stand firm." Wonder why I seem to always be caught off guard?

Marilyn shared personally: There have been times when my husband and I have been ridiculed because of standing firm on certain things. But God has always blessed us for it! Of course there are times when I get a little shaky and am not as firm as I should be. I want those times to become fewer and fewer!

Yes, I know about the "shaky" times. I was relieved when years ago I read this truth: "you don't need faith except in the presence of doubt and fear." I had to think on that one a bit, but it's true. People out of their minds don't fear anything. Even the ole' possum appeared fearless, but he was blind. Victory for the Christian is feeling the fear and being obedient in faith of Almighty God.

Today I thank God for help in a strange day with a dying possum. That may seem like a little thing to some of you with plenty of people in your day to day lives, but to this new widow I have been greatly blessed. I am thankful for having a guy here to do what this lady would not have done easily.
Lord, give me eyes to see and teach me to stand firm on Your principles and be victorious in spiritual battles. I am Yours and I trust You to lead me day by day. Thank You for the humor of yesterday: I've laughed a lot, and thank You for the life lessons. May I thrive in the ups and downs of each day...including this one!

Monday, September 15, 2008

Monday Morning Possum Standoff

5 AM I let my large dog outside and suddenly he's barking incessantly. I flipped on the flood lights and there was a large possum hissing and showing his teeth to my 100 pound guard dog.

Poor neighbors; because I was yelling louder than the dog was barking. "Forget sleep....the Martins are at terror pitch." Finally my screams got through to my dog and he sheepishly drug himself into the house. He has stayed by my side since the incident. Now who's guarding whom?

I expected the hissing possum to run off, but no, he just sat there motionless. An hour later and he was still sitting in the same position. "Playing possum" came to mind and I recalled the only true defense a healthy possum has is playing dead or sick. I was concerned that he might be rabid, so that was why I was so insistent on my dog coming in.

I live in a city subdivision with shopping strips, churches and schools within 2 blocks of my home. Wooden areas are on two sides of my house. I've accepted the deer that occassionally stroll through my yard, but this is my first possum visit.

Watching that possum hold his own while my huge dog threatened him was amazing. He just pulled into himself and occassionally hissed and showed his teeth. It worked. He totally fooled my dog to the point that the dog came running home to momma.

It came to me that the Bible instructs us to look to Almighty God for our protection and strength. Apostle Paul spelled out spiritual warfare in Ephesians 6. In vesrse 13: Therefore, take up the full armor of God, that you may be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm.

I have some thoughts on "standing firm," but I am hoping you will comment on your revelations on this Christian principle.

What do you believe this scripture stand firm?

What are you finding working for you in spiritual warfare to stand firm?

What puzzles you in "standing firm?"

Saturday, September 13, 2008

God's Surprises

Wow...The sky was full of color. An amazing rainbow filled the sky last Saturday night.

I was dragging myself to an event I had prayed for all week with other intercessors. A few weeks ago I wrote a post on artists and musicians coming together for celebration of arts in a Christian environment.

I had had a tough week and driving 40 miles to

the reception and premier of artists'

exhibitions was a push for me. There was no way I could miss this event. We'd come up against so many obstacles because this is a "new" ministry and open to all artists, but in a church and headed by Christians. Seems the greatest opposition comes against the "new" works.

Feeling like the supreme martyr, I drove along and then suddenly I came up on the largest,

most colorful rainbow I have ever seen. I wouldn't have missed that for anything.

The showing was fabulous. Beautiful music coming from the Baby Grand; great food; wonderful fellowship and beautiful art filled the rooms; it was divine. The appreciation of creativity and the fellowship of artists and friends of the arts was amazing.

God I thank You for opening me up to new adventures with You. Please keep surprising me with Your greatness and may I never forget the colors in that rainbow.

"Stuff" Is Just Stuff

"Furniture floating and water was rising up to my chest," gasped a survivor of Gulf coast. Seems this gentleman had decided to wait out the storm when the storm surge waters filled his home. He swam for blocks to a stop sign. He then could walk 14 blocks to a shelter.
This man's description of his home filling with water hit me with empathy for everyone having their most personal items destroyed. I love my stuff. I'm purging out things I've held onto far too long. My husband and I both hesitated to toss out anything. My children have been so helpful in dealing with much of John's stashes. I am committed to clearing out as much as possible of my "treasures."

So, I feel for these people and I know nothing new as replacements will be like the "treasures" lost by these hurricane victims. In the book of Mark Jesus deals with material possessions in His dialogue with the rich young ruler.

Derek Webb wrote these words in his song" Rich Young Ruler" Lyrics - Rich Young Ruler

poverty is so hard to see
when it’s only on your tv
and twenty miles across town
where we’re all living so good
that we moved out of Jesus’ neighborhood
where he’s hungry and not feeling so good
from going through our trash
he says, more than just your cash and coin
i want your time,
i want your voice
i want the things you just can’t give me
so what must we do
here in the west we want to follow you

we speak the language and we keep all the rules
even a few we made up
come on and follow me
but sell your house, sell your suv
sell your stocks, sell your security
and give it to the poor

well what is this, hey what’s the deal
i don’t sleep around and i don’t steal
but i want the things you just can’t give me
i want the things you just can’t give me
because what you do to the least of these
my brother’s, you have done it to me
‘cause i want the things you just can’t give me
i want the things you just can’t give me

Mark only refers to him as "rich," while Matthew and Luke add either young or ruler to their versions of this incident. Jesus has been ministering to beggars, homeless, cripples, sick children and people with withered hands, etc. Picture the scene: desperate people with impossible situations and suddenly this man comes running down the road after Jesus. Word's out that Jesus is packing up to leave town.

Amid all of these poor people comes this well dressed respected rich man who is envied for his social status and his "stuff." Did it suddenly hit him that his quest for true satisfaction and fulfillment in life lay with Jesus? For a moment did he drop his decorum and abandon everything to rush down the road to catch Jesus while there was still time?

Maybe this uncharacteristic humble abandonment is what caused Jesus to instantly love him. He asked Jesus how to inherit eternal life. I think he may have been an honest seeker looking for answer to life's greatest question. He believed Jesus possessed the eternal life he needed, and he was willing to look the fool, humble himself, and confidently ask the Lord how he might indeed lay hold of it.
But he would not totally surrender to the Lord. He loves one thing more than what he sees in Jesus. The first commandment..."You shall have no other gods before Me." Exodus 20:3.
Jesus talks with the disciples about the struggle wealthy people have in surrendering to God. The disciples were astounded. “Then who in the world can be saved?” they asked.

Jesus looked at them intently and said, “Humanly speaking, it is impossible. But not with God. Everything is possible with God.”
Mark 10:17-27 (New Living Translation)

That verse speaks to me on my own salvation and those "impossible" persons God places on my heart for prayer and evangelism. The stuff will never last or truly satisfy our hungers and needs. My heart aches with the hurricane and flood victims. I pray that this frees them to embrace the all of God and may they be utterly at peace with Him forever. God bless you all.

Forgive us, O Lord, for clinging to the remnants of a life independent of You, and make us wholly Yours. In Jesus' name, we pray. Amen.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Fun Friday: Laughs are Encouraged Here

Lighten Up and Laugh A Little

For breakfast one day, I eagerly waited for my husband to comment on my first attempt at homemade cinnamon rolls.

After several minutes with no reaction, I asked, "If I baked these commercially, how much do you think I could get for one of them?"

Without looking up from his paper my husband replied, "About 10 years."


I took my 5 year old grandson to the optometrist to pick up his new glasses. The glasses were prescribed "to help him read and be able to see the computer better".

When we got back home, he got on the computer to play a game.

In a few minutes he called me and said there was something wrong with his glasses.

I asked him what was the problem and he said, "I still can't read."


A man entered a drug store and asked to see the pharmacist.

When the pharmacist came out, the man asked if he could give him a cure for the hiccups. The pharmacist immediately reached out and slapped him across the face.

"What'd you do that for?" the man asked.

"Well, you don't have the hiccups anymore, do you?"

"No," the man replied, "but my wife out in the car still does!"


These delightful jokes come to us courtesy of

Encourage laughter and joy in your life. The Bible tells us it is good for us and the scientists agree with these Scriptures.

Thankful For Daughter

Thankful Thursday...thank God for little girls

Mother/Daughter relationships are important. I just finished talking with my only daughter (29 years old+) on the phone. We have a wonderful open and loving relationship. We are very different: I'm the creative right brain cluttering spontaneous one, and she is organized, linear thinking, left brain super smart one. We maximize our relationship with honor for our differences and making sure we operate in our strengths together. We lovingly kid one another on our weaknesses.

My mom and I didn't have this trusting open relationship and I do know to thank God that my daughter is my best friend. I can truly say if I was left on a deserted island she is one of the people I would want to be there if I could choose.

Yes, God, thank You when it looked like I was barren and would never have a child You blessed me with this wonderful, beautiful daughter. Thank You, God, when a life threatening situation hit her 12 years ago You swept her up in Your arms and saved her life. Oh, God, thank You for my daughter....thank You.

Knowing I Belong

Knowing I belong...Knowing I matter....Knowing I have respect and honor are key to my prospects of thriving at anything.

Yesterday I wrote about the initiation of a new ministry work: Soteria Prison Ministry newsletter and inmate correspondence. I spent much time drawing from the pastor/pardoned exoffender what our audience, the inmates, will look for in our publications. His words were, "They need to know they have value and that they will be assets when they are discharged."

As I listened to him and watched his facial reactions as I probed for more descriptions of the feelings on "the inside," I sensed his remembrance of a loss of personhood. The sadness that fell on his eyes moved me greatly.

Hasn't everyone felt that to some degree? Today I'm impacted with the power of noticing people at every level. Everyone deserves attention. I've always been fascinated by people...all people. So, I've always known people I have come in contact with on a regular basis. I know the tellers at my bank. I'm even making a choker for one of them. She keeps admiring one of my necklaces and recently she told me how she loves jewelry and especially chokers.

Today I'm convicted that I can do a better job in respecting and honoring all people that serve me and that I encounter on a regular basis.

A college student found a major question on a business exam was "What is the first name of the woman who cleans the school in this building?" Most students had to hand in the exam with that question blank. One concerned student inquired of the professor if that cleaning lady question would count as much as the other questions in their ultimate grade.

"Oh, yes," the professor declared, "your respect and honor for the many people you will meet in your career is important. Each one of those people are significant. They deserve your notice and validation. If all you do is smile and say "hello," they matter enough to be acknowledged."

How can we validate people's value better?

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Razor Wire: Value Added

"Razor Wire" Prison Ministry Newsletter's first issue is set for November 20th!!!

I've had the "itch" to write for months. This blog has been the only way for me fulfill God's call to write. My life changed abruptly in April when my husband died. When I have prayed for God's plan for my life; all I sensed was "write." No one was seeking my writing and it has been decades since I had published anything. A 64 year old woman regenerating a writing career wasn't logical to me.

Yesterday a long scheduled meeting occurred with a pastor in our church who heads up a large prison ministry. We have officially begun two writing projects: pen pal ministry to inmates and a monthly newsletter to all SC inmates. When we came together the pastor named the inmates' newsletter: Razor Wire. He desires it to be stories of encouragement and uplifting. After 2 hours of wonderful brain storming he decided to place me over all the projects. We will be recruiting writers, artists, humorists, and cartoonists for 2 monthly newsletters (one for ministry and one for inmates) and letter writers to inmates.

Today I am sobered by God's call: "Write." I could not imagine how I would fulfill God's call with no one desiring my skills. Now, I am praying anew: "Lord, give me strength to fulfill Your call with so much demand for my writing and leadership skills."

I asked Pastor Jerry what "thread" did he desire to weave in all of these projects. He said that he wanted the inmates and the community to know the value that exoffenders add. He said they are assets!!! When they have completed their work in transition housing and follow up ministry of mentors and accountability for financial literacy, etc. they offer much to a business, church or business. We concluded they are: Value Added.

I'm expectant and most aware that this is God's work and I must be conscious of being led by Holy Spirit in all things. I leave you today with joy of fulfillment of this most mysterious call months ago: Write. I also want you to contemplate that you are value added wherever you are. You are an asset!!!

Monday, September 8, 2008

Be Yourself and Be Your Best

BE true to you; and you will be the best you can be.

Today I'm featuring words that begin with a "B" that contribute to thriving as a Christian. Thanks for your input on the words that begin with an "A."

I highlighted and enlarged the word be. Life became
wonderful once I gave up trying to become "better' by trying to be what I thought my mom, husband, fashion experts, professors, etc. wanted me to be. Trying to be anything but me just wore me down and brought me to the end of myself.

As I study the Bible I see through God's grace in Jesus Christ' I am free to be myself looking fully to God for guidance. In fact, God intended me to be ME and I fit in His plan for His Kingdom.

Moses asked who should he say was sending him to Pharaoh...God said, "I AM." Because He is I AM; I can rest in Him and be.

I can bless you as I encourage you to be your true self. I don't have to be sensitive because I'm not caught up in comparisons....what you are is my celebration; not my competition.

Yes, my favorite "B" word is "be." What words can think of that I can include in "B" words that encourage people to thrive?

Failure to Thrive

Recently I learned of a medical term "failure to thrive." It is used to describe infants, small children and the elderly who are fragile. The medical community uses this term to describe a situation that occurs when they are unable to determine why an individual is not progressing toward normal healthy living. Life seems to be at a standstill.

Lately life has been tough. Some days I just get tired of pushing forward. But I know I'm either thriving and pushing forward or I'm standing still and failing to thrive.

In fact Apostle Paul writes that the mark of Christian maturity is that we continue to grow and move forward. This term "failure to thrive" describes us when adverse winds may blow in our storms and we give up. But Paul tells us that God guides us to set our sails and get to a place of thriving. In Ephesians he writes that we can go on in the direction we are supposed to be going no matter what adverse winds are blowing around us.

The Olympics inspired me to think of pressing through the pain. Paul tells it this way "straining forward to what lies ahead." The runners I saw on TV were single-eye focused on the finish line.

Nearing the end, nothing gets to the runner at that point:

  • crowds cheering or booing
  • a crowd or no crowd
  • is it cold or hot

She or he is focused on one thing: the finish line. My question is "do I see God's destiny for me?" That is my finish line...when I know it and see it, I can thrive; no matter what.

Got any ideas on failure to thrive in your life?

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Words Are The Picture

A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words. What Are Words That Create The Picture Worth?

This is a wordle using primarily "A" words to express thriving. Love to hear your thoughts and what "A" words would you add?

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Thrive in God's Mercy

Today is the 100th post on Thriving Christians. Back in late April
Thrive Rich in Mercy was my initial attempt at blogging.

My heart was full and overflowing with all the emotions of my husband's sudden illness and then his death. You readers have been a blessing that still surprises me with rare joy. As a new widow I had a fear grab me around my throat that drove me to write and press to stay "alive."
Many years ago a widow close to me showed me how easy it was for her to "drop out" of living when her spouse of decades suddenly died. I desire to live fully until I die. That's what Thrive Christian's is all about.

Fears can hold us hostage to the adventure of living that is ours to embrace. Psalm 23 and many other scriptures use analogies of sheep to explain our relationship with God.

Shepherds' frustrations are usually centered around the fearful mindsets of sheep. It appears you can drive goats and cattle, but sheep must be led.

He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name's sake. {Psa 23:3b RSV}

The Hebrew word translated "paths" means "a well-defined, well-worn trail." Some shepherds say that sheep will even wander away when the trail is well laid out. The shepherd knows the trails from experience, and the sheep trust him.

All of us are facing uncertainty about our futures. I've had many decisions thrust on me, but I hear from many people that the events of our times is causing changes for everyone. How do we know that we are making the right choices? Decisions can be crucial, and frustrating!

In this new place I stand firm in my quest to thrive in this adventure of life. But I need wisdom. I need a shepherd. I need someone who knows the trails, someone whom I trust. I must be willing to say, "I'll go anywhere. I'll do anything. I'll be anything. I'll carry any load, live any place you want me to live, do anything you want me to do, Lord" I, like David, see the Lord as my Shepherd...the one I will follow.

God bless insurance professionals and financial planners. They have the difficult task of taking us to our death and afterwards. I've been blessed with wise and compassionate advisers, but it's amazing what you go through anticipating when you die. Developing strategies for all the "what if's" is daunting.

But verse 4 helps me: "Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil; for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff, they comfort me.

It seems when the shepherd is leading the sheep in the hills of Israel they sometimes have to go down through narrow gorges that have long shadows lying across the trail. In the Hebrew this is a "valley of deep shadows". The timid sheep are terrified at this part of their journey. Trusting the shepherd they have enough comfort to keep on the journey in spite of the shadows. For me in my "shadows" I hold onto "I will never leave you nor forsake you," Hebrews 13:5}.

Back in April I encouraged myself and readers to passionately embrace the adventure of living. Paul Tournier's book The Adventures of Living inspired me in this pursuit. May we close with his quotes:

"....being made in the image of God that man throws himself so eagerly into all the adventures God opens up before him....not only religious adventures such as those I have referred to, but all the others: the adventures of science, of the exploration of earth and sky, of art, of culture and philosophy."
"It is the adventure of God which is being worked out in every human adventure. The Bible is the book of adventure and must be read as such. Not only the adventure of the world and of humanity, but the personal adventure of each man and woman whom God touches, calls and sends into action."
"The Bible also gives adventure its true meaning, for from end to end it reveals what is at stake in all our work, all our activity, all our choices, and all our self-commitment."

Reflecting back to post 1 I am still passionate about the adventure of life God has laid out for me. I'm alive and that is a at number 100 I'm opening my gift and embracing it with gusto!!! How about you?

© 2008 Kay Martin

Thrive In Christ

Who I Am In Christ by Neil Anderson

For several months we will center on this book to pursue Thriving in our Christian journey.

Neil challenges us with: "Do you know who you are in God's eyes? We are no longer products of our past. We are primarily products of Christ's work on the cross. Who we are determines what we do.

You are not who you are in Christ because of the things you have done, you are in Christ because of what He has done. He died and rose again so that you and I could live in the FREEDOM of His love."

That's just the introduction. More to follow.