Friday, October 31, 2008

Fun Friday: Random Humor

Thrive Christians takes Fridays to encourage laughter. Loosen up and try a laugh; it cannot hurt you, and it might "life" you.

There's a dropout named Bobby and a super genius named Greg sitting on a bench waiting on a bus.
The genius gets bored, leans over to the dropout and says,

"Hey, I'll tell you what, I'll ask you a question and if you don't know the answer you have to give me five bucks. If you ask me a question and I don't know the answer I have to give you $50."

The dropout says, "Alright, man."

The genius asks the dropout, "What is the Pythagorian Theory?"

The dropout replies, "I don't know." and hands the genius five bucks.

"Okay," the dropout says, "What has three legs going up a hill and four legs going down?"

The genius thinks real hard and finally gives up. He hands the dropout 50 bucks then asks, "So, what is the answer?"

The dropout says, "I don't know." and hands the genius five bucks.


Stock Market Humor

  • Helium was up.
  • Feathers were down.
  • Paper was stationary.
  • Knives were up sharply.
  • Pencils lost a few points.
  • Hiking equipment was trailing.
  • Elevators rose, while escalators continued a slow decline.
  • Light switches were off.
  • Mining equipment hit rock bottom.
  • Balloon prices were inflated.
  • Diapers remained unchanged.
  • Shipping lines stayed at an even keel.
  • Oil continued it’s slippery slide.
  • And batteries exploded in an attempt to recharge the market.


This has been a humdinger of a week in my life. I will find something funny at my garage sale tomorrow. I am placing my mind in position to laugh at any funny things that enter my world. No matter what... the choice of inviting laughter is mine. Please join me and decide to "see" "hear" and notice the funny things in your life....a merry heart may well be your Biblical solution and Rx.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

One Word One Hour

On Tuesday (One Word) I wrote the power of one Word from God to guide my life. I shared with a frustrated friend how I prayed for direction and all that came to me in prayer was "Write." We prayed together on the phone and she knew what her one Word had been there all along. In Tuesday's post I asked you bloggers to pray for your Word. Thanks for your comments....they are still coming, and I'm loving hearing from you.

I didn't mention Tuesday that I also shared with my friend that I have faithfully invested one hour a day to research, study and/or write since God gave me that word. I'm a right brain impulsive type by nature. The discipline of writing for one hour with my one word focus is opening up new levels of creativity for me. I hate to admit it, but I'm the one who loves to get enthusiasticallly "inspired." Once I have that "inspiration" my tunnel vision kicks in. My desire is to shut out everything else and feverishly produce my "masterpiece" in heroic fashion.

The power of one hour focused on one word has been amazing to my jumping rabbit self. Surely this is the old fairy tale wisdom of the turtle and the hare operating. The Bible calls us to disciplined diligence from beginning to end. The faithful patient follower of God reaps Heaven's blessing.

Galatians 6:9 And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.

1 Corinthians 15:58 Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord

Last night that friend called and she was breathless in excitement on what God has done in two days. With her focus on her one word she has gone to the library for research and writing for one concentrated hour each day. "Ms. Kay, I wanted to keep on when the hour was finished. But I remembered you said to stop at one hour and begin again tomorrow. I have completed more on my new workbook in these two days than I have in a year."

So what's up with this? I'm not sure I know. Perhaps some of you folks can help me understand the wonder of one word/one hour discipline. I had shared with my friend that I am intensely organized with my "mining" when I research or write during my hour. I have files in my computer program that I file each item scrupulously so that I can find them easily later on.

Your insights through your comments bless me more than I can express. I'd love to hear from you on your opinion about discipline, inspiration, and living the thriving Christian life.

One Word

One Hour

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Lessons From Basketball for the Church

Clayton King writes in his blog that the church and the Boston Celtics basketball team have some things in common. Once this team had the respect of all basketball fans. Then they had 6 losing seasons out of 9. The coach made great changes throughout the team ...he changed up everything.

The church has lost its favor among the majority of Americans. Many of us, according to Clayton, want to find a way back to the glory days. He feels this is like the Celtics when they kept doing things the same way and losing.
To summarize Clayton's points on how the Celtics started winning and what that could mean to the church I leave these 4 points:
  1. Embrace change; not living on legacy

  2. Stay hungry, not fat and content (As soon as the church becomes apathetic, it becomes nostalgic and it begins to die. Soon it rots until it is nothing but a monument to the past. But when the church stays hungry for souls, for serving others, for making disciples that will change the world, the church CANNOT BE STOPPED! Reality Check: Followers always reflect their leaders.)
  3. Stay faithful...don't get flashy (Faithfulness is blessed when it revolves around Christ and His mission to redeem the world, not our attempts to be successful, cool, or relevant.)

  4. Keep it simple (When the church gets subverted into anything other than the gospel, discipleship and community, we move away from our simple mission of being the presence of Christ to the world around us. Politics, the environment, and boycotting theme parks are all noble things in themselves, but in the words of Leonard Sweet, the church chases after causes and mission statements because we don’t like the one that was given to us by Jesus. "Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. Make disciples and teach them to obey me." Simple enough to keep us all pretty busy.)

Jesus laid out the simple, but insurmountable task: make disciples surrendered totally to the Kingdom of God with Jesus Christ as King of all. We have no room for:

  • change resistance
  • complacency
  • compromise
  • complications

I'm no basketball fan, but I love what Clayton has written with regards to the church. He concludes this blog post with: "Thank you, Boston Celtics, for making this 35 year old basketball lover feel like a kid again. But mostly, thank you for reminding me how fierce, relentless, and effective the church CAN be if we know who we are and what our mission is."

Clayton, I never played the hoops, but I was one enthusiastic high jumping screaming cheerleader. So for you, man..."Yeah!!! Clayton's scores for our team. YEAH!!!"


One Word

Last night I had two Christian young people call me with sincere need to know what God is calling them to do. Both of them are out of work and they want to maximize this transitional season of their lives. I invested my ears for intense listening. I prayed with each of them. I shared my experiences in my transitional season this year since my husband died.

God gave me one word: Write, when I prayed for guidance and direction. I challenged each of them to ask for a word. Before the conversations were over (both of them wanted to talk; so each one was over an hour), they each knew that word.

So, I decided this could be good challenge on this blog.

  • What is one word that God has given you for your ministry or life work?

  • What is one word that God has challenged you to pursue in seeking His understanding and wisdom in Bible study?

  • What is one word that He is calling you to focus on in relationships (spouse, parent, child, worker, church)?

  • What is one word He is calling you to focus on in your transformation and sanctification into being Christ-like?

My one word that I have hyphenated that guides my every moment is that quality I see in Jesus Christ: Strong-Gentleness. I work hard not to operate out of defensive self protection; which to me is the opposite of Strong Gentleness. I see Father God , Holy Spirit as my strength...I see Jesus Christ as my saviour and my propitiation. In light of all this, I am Christ, so I can afford to be gentle.

Got a word?

Monday, October 27, 2008

Warning Signs: What Are We To Do When We See Them?

My phone calls this weekend involved troubled family and friends of two different severely depressed people. Clearly one of them was putting out warning signs that he wasn't sure living was worth the pain. This other one has become so serious that everyone sees her growing sadder every day.

One of my family members would threaten suicide when I was growing up. I recall one time an aunt gave me such good counsel. She said never to believe that I could keep someone alive who had fallen so low in poor mental health that they decided to end their life. She made me come to see that while that troubled person was struggling. Fortunately, there never was a full fledged suicide attempt; only talk.

I drew from that well of experience as I heard my friends' pain on these two different situations. I told them the time to face our inability to help some people has to be early on. After someone takes their own life you just seem to run in circles on "what more could I have done...said....prayed? God has blessed both situations and there is more hope for all today.

I remembered my physician husband warning family members over and over, "If suddenly this person seems happy and there is no explainable reason for the euphoria; move fast because they may have come up with the time, plan and way to end their pain by taking their life."

I shared that with both sets of concerned folks. I am thinking and praying today for protection, breakthrough, and help in such troubled people. But I'm also mulling over my husband's advice....if bam! everything looks rosy be concerned. As I watch God move in my life and in other's lives, I see that the spiral down into depression, "darkness" occurs over months or years. Generally it takes time to get out of those circumstances also. Perhaps this is also the mercy of God. Just as coming into bright light when we've been in the dark is blinding; maybe we need the breakthroughs to be step by step.

Trouble still nips at these young adults. Any of you readers have wisdom I can share with my friends?

Lord, I want to thank you for life today. I thank You I treasure my life, and I have You filling my heart and thoughts. No matter what is challenging my peace; I see You as enough to cherish each moment of my life. I pray You will close Your arms around these two who feel life is more pain than gain. Shed Your life giving light into their worlds and renew their strength. Thank You for being Love; thank You for Your mercy on us all. AMEN

Saturday, October 25, 2008

New Roads on Old Routes

Last night I found driving in the cold rain and fog a cinch even though I was driving through a mountainous terrain . I went "home" to the Northeast Georgia mountains. I made this trip alone to celebrate 94 years of my aunt's wonderful life on earth and rejoice in her homecoming to Heaven. But things have changed in that little village. I remembered how I cringed every time I rode with my mom driving that same road. It was curvy and had sharp inclines; and there were deep drop offs near the shoulder of the road.

One time I actually opened my eyes while mom (all 5 ft. 2 inches of her) turned the steering wheel as hard as she could and I realized we had just passed a car. We were in the left lane and so were they!!! I screamed out "Oh No!!" My mountain woman mom reprimanded me, "Now, you quiet down. Everybody knows you have to swing to the left to make this curve."

There was no arguing with my mother, but I kept hoping I never met a stranger driving around that curve in the right hand lane.

Well last night I drove around that same mountain on a new, well engineered 4-lane highway. It was beautiful and so easy to navigate. Don't buy that saying "the good old days." Everything wasn't the best bad then.

As I drove this road in hazardous weather conditions I thought about my life in Christ. Today I encounter situations that threw me into anxiety and panic a few years ago. Now, in Christ, life is like driving on that new road. I feel secure and confident in Holy Spirit, and I enjoy the curves, heights and challenges on my life journey. There's no need to "sweat" the high altitude on an old route. No, the "rock" beneath me is in many ways like that new four-lane highway. I can "see" the road clearly, and I have no sense of being hit blind-sighted.

Lord God, Thank You for Your mercy in saving me; in keeping me and taking me on old routes with new faith, hope and power in You. Have Your way Lord. When You plan the trip and guide me, ..all is well. AMEN

Friday, October 24, 2008

Fun Friday: Actual School Excuses From Parents

Thrive Christians takes Fridays to find something to bring a chuckle to your life. Laughter is recognized by all experts to improve your health inside and out. So laugh a little with us as we read these student's excuses for being absent from school.

Parents actually wrote these excuses for their children to hand into their teachers: spelling is just the way Mom or Dad wrote it. Enjoy!

  • My daughter is being treated by her doctor. She should not take P.E. today. Please execute her.

  • Please exkuce Marie for being absent. She was sick. I had her shot.

  • Please ecsc’s Jerome being absent Jan.28, 29,30,31, 32 and also 33rd.

  • Please excuse Brian from P.E. for this week. He fell out of a tree and misplaced his hip.

  • Tiffany has been absent because she had 3 teeth taken out of her face.

  • Marie could not come to school this week because she has very close veins.

  • Marvin will not be school cus he has an acre in his right side

  • Please excuse Katie from missing school on Friday. We had to go Christmas shopping because I don’t’ know what size she wears.

  • Please excuse Lamar for being. It was his Father’s fault.

  • Maurice will not be in school this week. We have to attend her funeral.

  • Tonya was absent yesterday. She was too tired to come to school because she spent a weekend with the Marines.

  • Valerie was out of school last week. She had a fever, sore throat, headache and upset stomach. Her sister, Jane, was also sick, fever and sore throat. Her brother, Al, had a low grade fever and ached all over. I haven’t felt well either. I have had a sore throat and fever. There must be something going around because even their father, George feels hot to the touch.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

One Word Describing Jesus Christ

"If you had one word to describe Jesus, what would it be? asked Dr. William Gaultiere of author Dallas Willard.

How would you have answered that question? Dr. Gaultiere encourages us to close our eyes for a moment and consider this. Write down the first words that come to mind. If you could only use one word what would it be?

I happened on this query at Christian Soul Care Devotional website:

When you have time check it out; I found much good reading. But back to this interview with author Willard.
Dr. Gaultiere, "Here are the words I thought of… Jesus is… Love… Holy… Lord… Teacher… Risen… Healer… (These are all good words to describe Jesus.)"

"Then Dallas looked into my eyes and shared with me his word. You need to know that this was a special moment for me. He’s my key mentor. I’ve read every book he’s written more than once. I’ve listened (many times) to every audio teaching series of his I can find. In the last six years he has discipled me to Jesus in ways that have impacted all that I am and everything that I do as a Christian, husband, father, friend, psychologist, minister, writer…What one word would Dallas Willard use to describe Jesus?:

Relaxed?I would have never thought of that word! But ever since that conversation I haven’t been able to stop thinking about Jesus being relaxed.

Think about it.

  • Jesus had far and away the most important and dangerous mission that any human being has ever had or ever will have.

  • He had to wait 18 years to begin working on his calling and then he had just three years of public ministry to fulfill it. And yet Jesus was relaxed!

  • Jesus needed to convince a large number people that although he was merely a man he was also the unique Son of God.

  • And his followers needed to be so confident in him as their Lord and Savior that they would give their lives to lead other people to know him – even to the point of torture and death. And yet Jesus was relaxed!

  • Jesus could only be in one location at a time. And when he left one city to go to another he left behind people that hadn’t been healed or discipled (Matthew 13:58).

  • Most people – even his own family at first – rejected him and his message (Luke 4:28-30, Mark 3:20, 31-34).

  • Many of the people he discipled deserted him (John 6:66).

  • And even his faithful disciples didn’t understand who he was until after he rose from the dead (Mark 8:31-33)! And yet Jesus was relaxed!

  • The fate of all humankind – past, present, and future – depended on Jesus successfully completing his gospel mission! And yet Jesus remained relaxed

"When I have big responsibilities I start to feel overwhelmed… When I am stressed by situations anxious feelings rise up within me… When I am criticized or rejected I am tempted to react by feeling bad about myself or getting angry… When I have lots to do I tend to hurry…How did Jesus remain at peace when he was under pressures much, much harder than I face?"

"He practiced what he preached! He lived in the same "easy yoke" that he offers to us. Jesus was the first disciple: he apprenticed himself to the Father, learning to live out the things he would later teach (think of Jesus’ 18 hidden years from ages 12 to 30 as his discipleship training program)."

  • Our sinless Lord "grew" (Luke 2:52); he "learned" (Hebrews 5:8) how to… maintain moment-by-moment submission to God’s will, never saying or doing anything except as the Father directed him (John 6:38, 12:50).

  • Pray without ceasing (John 11:42, 1 Thessalonians 5:17)

  • Be so dependent upon the Holy Spirit as to be filled with his presence and power without limit (John 3:34)

  • Bless those that cursed him (Luke 22:34).

"In my discipleship to Jesus I am learning how to follow his example and walk with him in his "easy yoke," his "unforced rhythms of grace" (Matthew 11:28, MSG). And so more and more I too am relaxed!"

My hat is off to Dr. Gaultiere for his website and his ministry. This concept of Jesus being relaxed and confident in Father God is a reassuring picture for me as I think on the Lord. One incident Dr. Gaultiere didn't mention was the storm at sea where Jesus slept through the sea pitching the boat to and fro. He chastised his followers for not being relaxed. With all the "storms" about, may we be in Christ and be relaxed.

Blogging Fun

Blogging Is So Much Fun!!!

No one could have ever convinced me that I would enjoy blogging on the world wide web a year ago. Yesterday I shared my fear that I had cast a dark shadow on the "Thrive Christians Blog" lately. You great bloggers lifted me back up to the joy of blogging in less than a day.

I know I'm conscious of being positive and full of hope because of my work on the inmate newsletter, Razor Wire. The pastor who heads up this ministry is insistent that we project hope and joy to these devastated Christians behind bars. I'm thankful of this daily reminder because I believe God has repeated words like joy, peace and hope throughout the Bible for us to be mindful that these are His attributes. Surely He means for us to demonstrate a positive attitude to others.

Thank you for dropping by. For you who took the time to comment; I especially thank you. I'm "lit" and feeling the warmth of God's love in each of you. I'm hanging onto my image of being a birthday candle in the Kingdom of God from yesterday's post. I love a party....yep, I think I've found my place in the Body of Christ I'm all fired up and looking to land in some gooey icing and light up the room!!!

Shine Jesus Shine....may we all be clean and ready for Your assignment. Let darkness give us a thrilling realization that You overcome darkness ...always. Wherever anyone is feeling lost in the darkness; may we offer a hand, a smile, and help in Your name.

Shine Jesus Shine

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Blog Blues

I've got the blues reading my own blog. Thrive Christians is a blog focused on thriving because of the abundant life Jesus promised to each believer/Christian. But in my compassion for the hurting I fear I have reported those in pain more than I have shared the great hope that I see working in my life and others.

Jesus said, "I am the Light of the World. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life." John 8:12

My pastor preaches often that "darkness" in the Bible refers to ignorance of truth. This explains hard-working devoted church folks who seemed defeated and never demonstrate the joy, peace and abundant life displayed in the first church in the New Testament.

Paul speaks of God working through us in Philippians 2....v.15 "you shine as lights in the world." God has blessed me with peace and joy no matter what is surrounding me or "biting at my ankles" or "hammering at my thoughts" that I believe He shines His light through me wherever I am. When I enter a "dark" place I expect the atmosphere to change because of Christ in me.

Thrive Christians blog is lighting up!!! I'm not sure how sophisticated a "light" I am in the Kingdom of God. I suspect I might be no more than a little birthday candle: just a tiny cheap squirt of wax covering a short burning wick. Oh, I'll joyfully be God's birthday candle of light. I love seeing faces in a darkened room when lit candles on a birthday cake come forth with "ooh's" and "ah's" and then "Happy Birthday to you..."

Life! Let's celebrate life; and all that it gives us in delights and challenges.

Burn and shine wherever you go.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Turn On The Lights I Can't See A Thing In Here

"Oops, I should have turned on the lights before I let the garage door down. How will I ever get out of here?" Yesterday I cleared out enough of my garage to drive my car in for the night. I was so proud of my de-cluttering that I didn't process that I had not turned on the light inside the garage before I pressed the button to shut the door. In pure black darkness I stumbled over boxes, tools, bikes, etc. until I made it to the door to the hall and finally had some light. Yeah, I made it without a fall or injury. In my own home I set myself up to go through terror in the pitch black darkness.

This reminds me of the many people walking in "darkness" who may welcome a little light. Paul wrote in Ephesians 5...

“You groped your way through that murk once, but no longer.

You're out in the open now. The bright light of Christ makes your way plain.

So no more stumbling around. Get on with it!

The good, the right, the true –these are the actions appropriate for daylight hours.

Figure out what will please Christ, and then do it.

Don't waste your time on useless work, mere busywork, the barren pursuits of darkness.

Wake up from your sleep, Climb out of your coffins; Christ will show you the light!”

The Message, Eugene Petersen

The Bible shows us over and over that Jesus Christ is the “Light of the world.”Since I surrendered all to Him He abides in me. Jesus conquers everything that seems to embrace darkness: depression .... doubt .... fear .... hurt.

Sometimes I take my eyes off of Jesus and His light dims. But He will work with me to bring truth in place of lies, hope instead of despair and wholeness rather than brokenness.

The greatest news is that with Jesus within me; I can bring His light into others' darkness. They don't have to grope helplessly. With this thought of shining warm light in a cold dark place I will mention basic needs of everyone. When these are assaulted or not being met "darkness" covers a person's mind.

Theologians and behavior specialist seem to agree that all people need: security, identity, belonging, purpose, and competence.

Let's expand this a bit to see how we can be vessels of God's light to serve others:

  • Love and connection: to feel love from and for, and connection with others and the need to bond; feel oneness with both others and yourself.

  • Significance: need to feel that you have meaning to others; you are unique, special and important.

  • Certainty or Comfort: need for the feeling that everything is settled, secure with no unpleasant surprises or crises around the corner

  • Uncertainty or Variety: precise opposite of above and potentially in conflicting with the need for certainty is the need to feel that life is interesting, adventurous, diverse, exciting and challenging.

  • Growth: need for the feeling that we are growing, intellectually, spiritually and physically. To become better, to improve one's skills, to stretch and to excel.

  • Contribution: Need to feel that we are giving of ourselves.

"I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness but will have the light of life." (John 8:12)

My question to you is: How do we show up and shine? How do spread light in a way that is helpful and healing? What's the the hurting, bankrupt, foreclosed, repossessed, jobless?

What is the way to help and honor dignity?

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Value of Men and Women is Beyond Possessions

"You are more than your house," comforted the foreclosure clinic leader. As I volunteered in my computer cubicle I overheard one side of this conversation with a distraught homeowner losing their home after all efforts had failed to salvage the mortgage before the house hit the selling block. The counselor spent some time convincing the homeowner that her value in Christ was far more than anything connected with this financial failure.

Today I heard on the news that 1 in 7 homeowners is at risk of foreclosure in the U.S.

Isn't it time for God's compassion to shine out from Christians now?

My empathy increased greatly for people hit by this financial storm when some funds had not arrived at a new company for my retirement setup. I spent two days tracking down the reason for the delay in the transfer. Those days of not knowing were frightening. I had a tiny pinch of what so many in our land are going through. Finally I found all was well.

The woman representing the former account's insurance company was kind. I could hear the fatigue in her voice. I can only imagine what a day of work could be for her with so many of us fighting fear. I expressed my concern for her and others in her line of work. She sighed and said it was very difficult. She mentioned her best friend was going through a foreclosure. I told her I was a Christian and our church is offering financial counseling at no fee. I told her how the leaders help the people see that they are more valuable than their possessions. She spent five minutes probing me on ways she can encourage her friend through this shameful foreclosure process.

That's just two instances I have encountered in the last week. I'm now most careful with sharing my opinion in a group. I would never want my casual words to be overheard and stab a new wound in someone going through a foreclosure, bankruptcy or financial crisis.

In one small European village was a town square that held a special statue.

This statue was the pride and joy of the small town, but World War II arrived and soon the bombs began falling on the town. One day the statue was hit and blown to pieces. The residents collected all the shattered pieces and slowly did what they could to re-create it.

When they finished the reconstruction of their beloved statue of Jesus, they noticed that the only pieces missing were the hands of Jesus. So they placed a plaque at the base of the statue with the words:

Now we are the only hands that Jesus has.

Christian counselors tell me that "being there" with a warm heart and a listening ear is helpful and comforting and healing beyond what we can imagine. I've had Christian friends come to me when I was hurting. Their presence, their love and their assurance that I wasn't losing my mind meant everything to me. Having them praying for me was the key to my recovering in Christ.

Now....what do you say?

Is this a new day for Christians in this new financial place?

How can we be hands of Jesus' Body?

If you are hurting; what can we do that will show you your value?

Saturday, October 18, 2008

There Are No Dukes in The Kingdom of God

"The Duke of Wellington, the famous conqueror of Napoleon, was kneeling in a church one Sunday, ready to partake of communion. A private was also kneeling for communion. When the private discovered who was kneeling beside him, he was embarrassed. Quietly he arose, saying, "Pardon me, your grace." Wellington pulled him down beside him, saying, "In the presence of Jesus Christ there are no dukes." p. 24 Be Still and KnowMillie StrammZondervan, 1981 0310329914

Today is the first in a series on the power of the flame of love of God in a Christian's heart with hurting people. The "chatter" coming in my ears lately does not line up with Jesus Christ's message of love and transforming hope. Fear and self preservation are kicking into high gear inside and outside the church while financial worlds are shaking.

I've said this before on this blog: darkness only makes light shine brighter. I desire to be a flame of God's love and hope in my world. May we explore what the Bible says about this?

So........hang on and let's go down God's mercy, compassion life changing route.

Let us review the book of Ezekiel where he writes of times that were truly bad for the Jews. God gave Ezekiel the truth the people needed, but here was his initial instructions:

Ezekiel 3:15 "Then I come to them of the captivity at Telabib, that dwelt by the river of Chebar, and I sat where they sat, and remained there astonished among them seven days."

God sent Ezekiel to His people in captivity with His warning. It was as if Ezekiel knew God was calling a pause before he would be ready to speak, "Not yet, Ezekiel. First you must sit with them and experience what they are going through." Like the Duke of Wellington said at the altar, "There ain't no dukes down here...." Seems God was telling high priest Ezekiel to get down in the dirt and "know" what these people were going through.

A Kay moment....Oh, yes...don't tell me what I need to do without listening to me. You need to show me you "know" something about my pain. I've mentioned on earlier posts that I don't take any advice from people until I "see" their limp or scars. If you've never been through some "stuff" or you like keeping that private; move on. I don't have an ear for your sermon. Show me you've "sat" where I sit; or you have spent time with people with my "issues" or you have some real knowledge of my needs or move on.

But Ezekiel was equipped to speak after 7 days of sitting, watching, listening, and feeling their pain.
He could feel their needs with them.
He could see their problems through their eyes.
Then he was ready to share God's message for them.

How do you feel about folks helping you in your needs?

What must they possess to be qualified to advise you?

As a Christian; what is most important to you as you reach out to help others?

Fun Friday: Never Let Them See You Sweat

My Aunt Eunice frequently told me my best self defense strategy was to keep my cool, no matter what. I think Aunt Eunice had read far too many mystery stories because she constantly had self defense on her mind in a quiet valley with only family within several miles in either direction.

But I did end up in some dangerous spots and no matter what, I could almost hear Aunt Eunice, "Girl, walk like you don't have a care in the world. Don't let them see your fear; keep your cool. Don't let them see you sweat." I'm navigationaly challenged and getting lost comes up often. Once I was having a ball in the Garment District of New York when I took a wrong turn into an alley that was terrifying and somehow I was no longer in the Garment District. But, I walked like I knew exactly where I was going and finally I circled back into the street I knew.

Today I'm paying tribute to Micca Campbell who is the queen of "Don't Let Them See You Sweat." She was a keynote speaker in the She Speaks Conference ( this past May. Enjoy her story and see if you agree that she is the "queen" since she kept coming back around these folks after this incident. Micca Campbell, was the conference's last keynote speaker. This beautiful young woman had me laughing minutes after taking the mike. Since I hope to develop humor here and in my presentations I listened intently to Micca's stories. As nutty as some of my most embarrassing moments have been, she’s topped me with this one:

Micca rushed to get to the hotel for the She Speaks conference several years ago. With no time to freshen up for a leadership preliminary meeting she threw her clothes on. When she entered the ground floor elevator alone she realized she had this tiny bit of time to straighten her clothes properly.

With the wood paneling surrounding her she faced the door, flung off her shoes, bent over, and threw her skirt up on her back. Now, she had time to get her twisted pantyhose on straight. She started working her stretchy clingy panty hose on properly from her toes up to her waist. She made sure everything was just right.

She sighed with some relief....Whew....oh no! Suddenly Micca realized the surrounding walls of the elevator were now glass. Those solid wooden walls she noticed on entering the elevator were permanent fixtures to the ground floor only. Once the elevator rose to the second floor the true glass walls were her only surrounding. She peered behind her to look into shocked diners' faces in the main dinning room below her. All those high paying diners got their meal and a show!!! Talk about a floor show.

Micca's re-enactment of her bending over and wrestling with her pantyhose cannot be must be experienced. For several years Micca has returned to speak at She Speaks in the same hotel. Aunt Eunice would have applauded her checking into the hotel and the staff elbowing one another, "That's the elevator lady." She just walked right by and never gave into the temptation to try to explain any of the matter. Finally She Speaks changed meeting sites and Micca said checking in was so pleasant this year.

She may have become a legend: that elevator lady; but she knew how to handle it as a true Southern belle: Never let them see you sweat!

Micca is a treasure in the Kingdom of God that I am truly thanking God for today. Her website is Thank you, Micca, for your heart, your soul and your gift… and the laughs. You were the laughter Rx I needed.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

If They Don't Know What A Camel Is; They'll Never Get the Story

Jesus Loves Me has become my "go to" resource in ministry when all else fails. This hymn is my choice when all is well, but when things start going wrong it is my lifeline.

I discovered the power of this hymn one Christmas season when an evangelist asked me to assist her with a Christmas dinner and toys for children in a distressed area at an apartment complex. Seems this dinner and toys were to be the only Christmas these families would have for the season. We cooked, we decorated and did all we could to turn the apartment activity room into a festive place. The people started coming in and so many came that we had standing room only.

With no warning the evangelist asked me to tell the Christmas story using the nativity scene. I love to speak in an interactive way so I held up a camel and asked the children, "Can anyone tell me what this is?" The children looked at me with blank faces and no one had a clue what I was holding in my hand. I went through a few more of the animal figurines and gasped. Looking outside at the asphalt and chain link fence environment I realized talking about animals didn't happen much around here.

I shifted gears and asked everyone to join with me in singing my favorite Christian song. "When we get to the part about "Jesus" know that this little baby represents Jesus in the song when He came to earth." I started singing and everyone (around 70 people) sang with me. Everyone knew every word of "Jesus Loves Me, This I know..." Then we prayed and the party began. Little children came up to me wanting to know all about the nativity scene. It was a beautiful night and if this was their only Christmas dinner, it was delicious and the Lord's presence filled that place.

Later I prayed about what I had witnessed in that activity room. Most of the people were unchurched. Many of them had gotten involved in much mischief trying to address their desperate poverty issues and extremely hard life. I kept thinking about how they seemed to know nothing about the Bible, Christianity and Jesus ... but they all knew the song, Jesus Loves Me. I'm convinced that babies of all levels of society are rocked in the arms of saints that softly sing "Jesus Loves Me." and those babies grow up knowing that hymn.

Amazing Grace is so often used in secular films and TV shows that most people know the tune and words to that wonderful hymn. Now, I am finding Jesus Loves Me is known by everyone also. May we never forget that God reigns. As a society we may legislate that vocal prayer is not to be spoken in school. It may seem that only a few of us care about the Kingdom of God. Do not give up. God will keep His Word alive in ways that go under the "radar," and I believe babies rocked to the tune of Jesus Loves Me might be one of His measures.

I've loved taking you bloggers down my "Jesus Loves Me" trail. My files hold hundreds of pages on this song. Recently a book was published around the stories surrounding Jesus Loves Me. Please hold onto the initial message of this series showing miracles in a financial meltdown. Anna Warner cried out to God for monetary help. Her heart was pure and she asked for a song. She was trained, equipped, and willing to work. She gave God honor and glory and spent the rest of her life devoted to the Kingdom of God. May we all cry out to God in our needs and be willing to use the gifts, talents and resources as modeled for us by Anna and Susan Warner. God did not abandon them, and He will never desert us. In fact, our hard times may be those times that define us.


Jesus loves me this I know,
Though my hair is white as snow.
Though my sight is growing dim,
Still He bids me trust in Him.

Though my steps are oh, so slow,
With my hand in His I'll go.
On through life, let come what may,
He'll be there to lead the way.

Though I am no longer young,
I have much which He's begun.
Let me serve Christ with a smile,
with others the extra mile.

When the nights are dark and long,
In my heart He puts a song.
Telling me in words so dear,
'Have no fear, for I am near

When my work on earth is done,
And life's victories have been won.
He will take me home above,
Then I'll understand His love.

I love Jesus, does He know?
Have I ever told Him so?
Jesus loves to hear me say,
That I love Him every day
--Author Unknown

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

What do Karl Barth, Amy Carmichael, and Francis Schaeffer Have In Common?

Three renown famous bold Christians:Barth, Carmichael and Schaeffer shared a love of the hymn: "Jesus Loves Me."

Karl Barth, famous Swiss theologian, was a great thinker, a prolific writer, and a professor at several leading European universities. Once he was confronted by a report following a worldwide speaking tour regarding his twelve thick volumes of church dogmatics. The reporter wanted Barth to give him a brief summary of these works for his article. Barth quoted the most popular children's hymn with "Jesus loves me this I know, for the Bible tells me so." Barth felt this song clearly summed up his 12 volumes of theology.

Francis Schaeffer was one of the most influential figures in American evangelicalism between the period of World War II and the Reagan-era. He was the founder of L'Abri Fellowship International; a famous lecturer, and author of eighteen books. One Sunday at the close of a church service at Swiss L’Abri, Francis Schaeffer asked the congregation to sing, “Jesus Loves Me.” He smiled and added, “Some of you may realize that this is my favorite hymn.” As we sang this children’s hymn together many of us became aware of how needful it is for songs to have simple direct words that penetrate our hearts. “Yes, Jesus loves me, the Bible tells me so.” Schaeffer shared with the people that this hymn conveys a certainty of scriptural truth that leads to peace, joy and freedom. Great Hymn Writers, Jane Stuart Smith, Betty Carlson. Crossway Books Publishers

Amy Carmichel, the famed Irish missionary to India, founded Dohnavur Fellowship in India that has had a lasting influence on L'Abri Fellowship. was converted to Christ after hearing this hymn sung at a children's mission in Yorkshire, England. At the age of 12 she was sent to a Wesleyan Methodist boarding school in Yorkshire England. At a service for children when she was fifteen, Carmichael heard the song lyrics "Jesus loves me this I know, for the Bible tells me so." In the quiet moments following the song, Carmichael realized that, in spite of her mother's teaching that Jesus loved her, she had never opened the door of her heart to invite him in. "In His great mercy the Good Shepherd answered the prayers of my mother and my father and many loving ones, and drew me, even me, into His fold." P. 454 The Complete Book of When and Where: In the Bible and Throughout History by E. Michael Rusten, Sharon O. Rusten, Philip Comfort, Tyndale House PUblishers, Inc. 2005 ISBN 0842355087

I could go on and on with the stories of profound powerful men and women of God who owe "Jesus Loves Me" tribute to their spiritual lives. My hope is that you will sing this song and see what God does in you as you sing this song to Him.

Let me close today with this truth:

'After more than a century, "Jesus Loves Me" became the number one spiritual song in the world. It has been translated into more languages than any other song.'

I have read that this hymn is one of the first hymns that missionaries teach new converts.

John Stott wrote:
"The love of Christ is an immense subject, shallow enough for a child to paddle in; "Jesus loves me this I know for the Bible tells me so."But deep enough for giants to wade in: "how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ!" "the love of Christ is 'broad' enough to compass all mankind (especially Jews and Gentiles, the theme of these chapters), 'long' enough to last for eternity, 'deep' enough to reach the most degraded sinner, and 'high' enough to exalt him to heaven.

Leslie Mitten expresses it, finding a parallel to Romans 8:37-39: 'Whether you go forward or backward, up to the heights or down to the depths, nothing will separate us from the love of Christ.'

Ancient commentators went further. They saw these dimensions illustrated on the cross. For its upright pole reached down into the earth and pointed up to heaven, while its crossbar carried the arms of Jesus, stretched out as if to invite and welcome the whole world." (John R.W. Stott, "The Message of Ephesians," IVP, Leicester, 1979, p. 137).

Jesus Loves Me
The Bible Tells Me So

I Know Jesus Loves Me: Story Behind Song

Anna Warner's lyrics to "Jesus Loves Me" along with her sister
Susan's book, See and Seal saved the family home on Constitution Island in the Hudson River in the Depression of the 1800's.

Yesterday's post laid out the dire need for money of the Warner daughters after their affluent successful attorney father invested in the shaky stock market and lost everything but the summer home in the Hudson River.

Thrive Christians is a blog that comes out of my obedience to God's call on my life. In one of my darkest moments I cried out to God for hope and help. The one word that came to me was "Thrive." I sought the Lord for His direction that made sense in the severity of my moment. "Thrive" was all that came to me. I took it literally, and amazingly I have been able to thrive .... oh, how I thank God for that Word on that day. Anna and Susan Warner show us how to "thrive" in harsh times.

Anna and Susan Warner were highly educated and deeply devoted Christian young women . They had been motherless most of their lives. Their father, Henry, died shortly after the Wall Street crash. With faith in God these educated women used the resources at hand in prayer and "Jesus Loves Me" came to be; and the money from its sales secured them in a simple lifestyle for the rest of their lives.

Their home on Constitution Island was a short boat trip from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. Susan and Anna conducted Bible Sunday School Classes for young cadets. The Warners had their man helper row a boat to and from the Academy weekly filled with cadets who had reserved their spot on board. The sisters served tea and cookies and the gospel of good news to the upcoming generals and commanders of the U.S. military prior to the War Between the States and the following decades until their deaths. Their home, Good Crag, was willed to the Academy and made into a national shrine. Both sisters were buried with military honors in recognition of their spiritual contributions to the lives of the young military officers.

Anna and Susan Warner have been beacons of faith and hope for me these decades I have known their story. In great need they fell humbly before God and moved into action as Holy Spirit led them. Losing everything but this isolated lake home accessible only by boat in harsh winters could have seemed bewildering. No, the Warner sisters were lampstands of light of the glory of God on impressionable young cadets soon to be in the ravages of war. Can we only imagine what impact these two single women in obscure upstate New York have had on their generation. Consider the impact of the hymn, "Jesus Loves Me" on their generation through to the present. Think of the officers who grasped the gospel of Jesus' love as they faithfully attended the Hudson River Sunday School classes. That light of God would then shine onto the men who served under them, their own families and the foreign lands they traveled as military officers.

God's ways are not our ways. If life is not making sense to you in the crash of '08, may Anna and Susan Warner's lives give you hope and direction. Trust Him and obey Him....indeed the best is yet to be.

“Jesus loves me!

This I know, For the Bible tells me so.

Little ones to Him belong;

They are weak, but He is strong.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

The "This I Know People Are Well"

What on earth are we to do when the global financial world crumbles?

Pray and move as God directs.

Anna and Susan Warner found themselves with their whole world crashing as their prosperous lawyer father lost heavily in the panic of 1837. The Wall Street meltdown took everything they owned but their summer home on Constitution Island in the Hudson River. Soon after his financial losses Henry Warner died. These young women had been motherless since
their young years. Their father, had privately educated them and both women were published authors.

The sisters, eager to do something to earn money so they could go on living in their home on the island, turned to writing. They had had some pieces published. They prayed for enough money from their writing to keep their home.Anna's real interest in life was writing hymns. "Jesus Loves Me" actually first appeared in the novel Say and Seal, authored by Susan.
Susan developed this novel around a dying little boy. In his last hours his Sunday School teacher sang the lyrics of Jesus Loves Me as he rocked the boy.

A hymn writer and publisher, William Bradbury read the novel and realised he had finally discovered the lyrics he had been praying for. The missionaries in China were frustrated with other hymns being so difficult for the Chinese to sing. He had developed a tune that would work, but he had not been able to develop lyrics that worked with the tune. When you see this hymn in a hymnal the tune is listed as CHINA. Most times it is capitalized.This is undoubtedly the best known hymn in the world. It has been translated into more languages than any other song. Missionaries have found it one of their best means of explaining the gospel in a clear simple way to those who speak a very different language.

When Mao Tse-tung founded the People's Republic in 1949, the church in China went through severe persecution. Friends in America received scarcely any news from the Chinese Christan's, but in 1972 came a message with this unusual sentence, "The 'This I Know' people are well."
Crossway Publishers, Great Christian Hymn Writers, By Jane Stuart Smith, Betty Carlson p. 163-164

As Paul Harvey says, come back tomorrow for the "rest of the story." Anna and Susan Warner's miracle story from God just gets better and better.

Remember Jesus Loves Me...
He Loves You..
The Bible Tells Us So.

Now What? October 2008

October 08 Meltdown: Now What?

When everything we've known as probabilities hits shaky ground what do we do to hold on?

"What if's"circle with no where to land...what if my employer goes under? ....what if no one can afford my professional fees?....what if the taxes don't cover educational needs and my teaching position is eliminated?....what if my retirement setup is not sufficient?

Personally I have hit some meltdowns, and in the end I found my only sure hope was in God. One particular frightening time I recalled a pianist friend played a solo in church: Jesus Loves Me. To this day I have never felt the presence of God like I did when Sara played that song. I went to her and asked what was going on when she played this song. She teared up and reminded me of a few years ago when her oldest son died in a bizarre boat dock moving accident. For a full year the only peace she could find came as she played Jesus Loves Me on the piano. God comforted her as she came to believe every wonderful word of that hymn; for herself, her son and her family. As she dwelt in Jesus' love she healed.

When my personal meltdown hit I researched this hymn. Daily I sang it ( one would choose to hear me sing anything). All my friends know this is my favorite hymn. Whenever I am asked what is the greatest miracle from God in my life I always echo this hymn: God chose me; loved me; and pursued me for salvation and He knew my thoughts, motivations, and actions....Amazing! His Grace still awes me; ...all the glory is indeed His.

For the next few days I will share with you the story behind this hymn that began in another U.S. meltdown. For almost 20 years I have been telling this story. Saints have come to me after singing this song daily as they pressed through their tragedies. I will share some of these miracles.

Jesus is enough....more than enough no matter where you find yourself in the meltdown of 08.

Jesus Loves Me

"Jesus loves me! This I know,
For the Bible tells me so.
Little ones to Him belong;
They are weak, but He is strong
Refrain:"Yes, Jesus loves me!
Yes, Jesus loves me!
Yes, Jesus loves me!
The Bible tells me so. "
Jesus loves me!
This I know,
As He loved so long ago,
Taking children on His knee,
Saying, ‘Let them come to Me.
"Jesus loves me still today,
Walking with me on my way,
Wanting as a friend to give
Light and love to all who live.
"Jesus loves me!
He who died
Heaven’s gate to open wide;
He will wash away my sin,
Let His little child come in.
"Jesus loves me!
He will stay
Close beside me all the way;
Thou hast bled and died for me
I will henceforth live for Thee.
(Note: this next stanza from the original is commonly omitted in hymnals)
"Jesus loves me!
Loves me still,
Though I’m very weak and ill,
That I might from sin be free
Bled and died upon the tree."
Jesus loves you...whether you realize it or not. His love is not dependent on your actions; your responses; your situation....He is love!
Please comment on any stories you have around this amazing truth and hymn.
Jesus Loves Me! and You!

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Loneliness V: Christians & Togetherness

is a key characteristic of the Christian community in the epistles in the New Testament where we read the pronoun allelon which means "one another."

Romans 12:16 calls us believers to "live in harmony with one another." and "have the same care for one another" in I Cor. 12:25, and we are to "bear one another's burdens" Gal. 6:2.

Recently I invited a friend to dinner. She's been beached in the downside tsunami hitting many hard workers. This single parent is a conscientious woman who's never been in this place before. One reason I've enjoyed our friendship through the years is my friend's upbeat faith in all circumstances. But she has sounded very serious lately. Writing this blog series on "loneliness" inspired me to alter my schedule to treat my friend to dinner.

She walked to my car with her shoulders slumped at a slow pace. Her beautiful smile was now gone; and the sadness in her face couldn't be masked. She wasn't hungry and didn't care where I decided on us going for our dinner. When we arrived at the restaurant, she decided on some desert. I got soup and a half sandwich. We sat at that table with my friend talking and talking and talking. I managed to pull off a few jokes that had her laughing and laughing. The waiter brought me a whole sandwich and I couldn't eat all of the food. After an hour my friend ate my food left on the plate. She ate several deserts. She had her appetite back in this "togetherness" healing place of our God. I had prayed the blessing that God would show up to bless us as we broke bread together.

Folks, after seeing my friend come to life from despair and depression in that simple meal that lasted 3 hours, I'm convinced we Christians have complicated Jesus Christ's plan of life out of it's effectiveness. My friend all but skipped to the door and turned as she went in the door with her wonderful smile. Oh, my.....togetherness, a little love, an ear to hear, a little good food eaten with a friend, and the presence of God heals.

There is strong Biblical evidence of the miracle God worked in my friend as we ate together. In one commentary there are 23 examples cited in the epistles. In Scripture repetition implies emphasis.

I hear person after person tell me how they don't need mentors or small groups. They are just fine "Me and Jesus." I try to tell them they've deviated from God's plan, but it seems most have to crash into a wall or fall off a cliff to comprehend this concept. God's call is One Another.

Many words that form the Greek root word: koinon are used to describe healthy Christian communities in the New Testament.

Koinos...adjective.that which is shared

Koinoneo... share or participate in

Koinoia...noun.sharing, fellowship, communion

"Christian koinonia is not just something spiritual; it has to be expressed in concrete ways. Believers are expected to "share what you have" (Heb 13:16; Rom.12:13; I Tim 6:18). The earliest community in Jerusalem was marked by a voluntary sharing of resources; "all who believed were together and had all things in common (hapanta kona) Acts 2:44."

"The church is thus a caring and sharing community, a life-sustaining fellowship, in which the members of the body of Christ receive their life from God,and comfort, encourage, and support one another." Scobie, Charles H. H., The Ways of Our God, Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing. p.501-502.

© 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.