Archive for May, 2011
The Four Aspects of Love: Unconditional, Fearless, Fruitful, and Shared.
I was asked to be a guest speaker in a local church. And today was the first time I ever delivered a sermon. As a public speaker and trainer I have no problem speaking in front of large groups of people. But when I was asked to deliver the sermon, I have to admit it was a little nerve wracking during the preparation process! I had 30 minutes to speak, and for me that is not hard to fill. I got down to 29 minutes in my practice sessions, and I felt relaxed and at peace about the message. And, I was very excited, because sharing the word of God is so exciting! But I remember thinking when I was first asked that I had not ever prepared a full sermon before. I’d done devotionals, but nothing like this. PANIC! No, I prayed and asked Him for guidance! When God asks you to do something, He equips you, and I found myself writing the message and diving right on into His word.
Several individuals I know who couldn’t be there had requested to hear the message even though they couldn’t attend. So, as promised, it has been recorded and posted below. During the service, the recording was unable to take place due to unforeseen technical issues. So, it was recorded right after I finished it the first time. I just did it all over again, so I could make sure those who wanted to hear it could.
I am honored to have been asked to speak and teach into the lives of this congregation This is truly the work of God, because his guidance for this message was incredible and it came together beautifully-without thorns I might add! (You’ll understand that comment as you listen to it.) I pray he continue to grow and stretch me while he teach me how to reach those with His word. I pray that He be honored and glorified for His works and His wisdom. And I have a whole new appreciation for those who write sermons each and every week. WOW! That is a HUGE responsibility and much, much work!
For a first time opportunity to preach a message in church, I am grateful and blessed.
Follow the following link if you’d like to listen to the recorded version:
“This is a monthly test of the ‘Rapture Alert System’. This is only a test. In the event of the actual rapture…”
With the recent outbreak of tornadoes suddenly changing the lives of many people, devastating entire towns, and hitting so many areas of our nation, I began to take notice of the warning systems used to notify unsuspecting and busy people of the impending danger. We have radar, satellites, weather forecasters, amazing technology, alert systems, sirens, and numerous storm prediction tools.
I couldn’t help but hear a conversation between individuals who were sitting at a nearby table discussing the warning times people are given before these monstrous storms strike. They were not speaking kindly of our weather warning systems and siren alerts stating that if people only had more time to take cover. If people only had a few more minutes notice, they could seek shelter and avoid tragedy. If only they had…had what? They’d already had plenty of time!
I had to stop and wonder (and bite my tongue as to not say anything), just HOW much time they do need? I began to realize it’s not about how much time they have to prepare. There is adequate time in most instances. The problem is that as human beings, we are too busy to pay attention and plan ahead. In most instances even before these monstrosities arrive, we have had at least one or two days notice of possible severe weather outbreaks. Sometimes we have even more than that! And since we are warned so far ahead of time, isn’t it then our responsibility to devise a plan? Shouldn’t we figure out where our children will be in that time frame, devise a safety plan, and figure out how to get everyone safely together in the event of such an emergnecy BEFORE the sirens ever sound? This works for storm safety. A plan is to be planned out in advance and carried out when the emergency arises. Once those sirens sound, it is too late to plan. It’s happening, you’d better take cover, and pray for the best. But, you’ve got to know what you’re doing before it happens.
Ok, so here’s where I’m going now. I kept thinking about the rapture that was supposedly happening on May 21. We know that no one knows the day nor hour, it was untrue, not going to happen. No one knows. And with all the recent storms, it was as if a lightning bolt went off in my brain when I thought about the two of these things together: The actual rapture when it does happen (and we will not know when) and preparedness. As humans, since we expect sirens to blare when we are in danger, I began to wonder what people would expect with the rapture? Will some be waiting for sirens in this same manner before seeking salvation in Christ to be saved when He returns? I just can’t help but think about how we prepare currently to how we’ll be prepared for His return. There will be no alerts or warnings issued. There is no Rapture Alert System.
Matthew 24:43-44 (NIV)
43 But understand this: If the owner of the house had known at what time of night the thief was coming, he would have kept watch and would not have let his house be broken into. 44 So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.
Mark 13:31-33 (NIV)
31 Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away.
The Day and Hour Unknown
32 “But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. 33 Be on guard! Be alert[a]! You do not know when that time will come.
We have already been told in the Bible, which IS the word of God, that the time will come. We know and we have received word that it is time to prepare now. Not later. Not once the rapture occurs. Now. NO one knows the day nor the hour. No one except the Father!
My question is…will we be prepared or will wait just a bit longer to see if the storm passes?
There will be no sirens sounding that tells us to repent now and accept Jesus, because He’s on His way….
Now is the time to seek your shelter. And you can only do that through Christ. If you are reading this and have not accepted Him as your Lord and Savior, please do so now. Just CLICK HERE.
(This is just something placed heavily on my heart since these outbreaks have occurred. We have much work to do, because eternity is at stake!)
I know. I am busy today, and a blog post was last on my “to-do” list. But nonetheless here it is. It’s become a priority. And that’s only because it’s something I’m passionate about. It may not be the first order of the day to build people up by writing about something that’s been laid heavily on my heart today, but I have made it a priority.
#1. Because I can’t stop thinking about it until I write about it.
#2. People are a priority…period and reaching out to people is something that just doesn’t need to wait.
There are so many people hurting out there. And my heart just breaks when I think about it. It breaks even more though when I think that people’s hearts are breaking because of the very people they love in some cases. When I thought about why relationships of people I knew were falling apart, why people sometimes hurt each other, or children and parents relationships start colliding, my heart broke even more. This message became more important to write about.
I started pondering all kinds of questions. Are we becoming a society that is trying to live without love? What is love? Isn’t love about focusing more on others and less on ourselves? Yet how many of us are self focused? We all are. We’re fallen and self-centered around what’s better or more important to the self. Yet when we do that, when I think about how that works in relationships, it reminds me of this:
Breathing without air.
How can we breath without air? We can’t. We gasp, grasp, and trying to pull in our directions whatever little bit we can get. We simply starve of oxygen and cannot survive. And then it turns into a survival instinct. It snow balls and gets worse. We’re taking what little air we have and then taking it from those we love who are around us. So essentially, because we are starving of air, we start starving everyone around us. Is that how the world operates today? Are we love-starved air hogs?
This thought popped into my heart this morning: Living without love is like breathing without air.
What happens when we start living our lives without love? Isn’t it similar to trying to live without air? Love is essential for our survival. It’s not an option. Humans need love. But, it’s not just about the need. It’s also about the give. We are also designed to give love. So I wonder: Where and how do we give love? Do we simply focus on giving or providing love ourselves by focusing so much on our own selfish needs and desires? Do we give ourselves the most love and give to those around us what is left over? Can our relationships survive on leftovers? (That answer is NO!) Can we breath on leftover air and live a quality life with half or less of the oxygen we really require for survival and live an optimal life? I don’t think so. We might be able to survive for awhile, but I believe it will take it’s toll. The same holds true in our relationships.
We have to make living a life of love a priority. It means determining the importance of those you value in your life. It means giving and providing the “air” or love they need so they do more than just survive. It’s providing and sustaining those relationships so they thrive. If you merely give just enough to survive, it can’t thrive for long.
I believe the world needs CPR. It needs oxygen to the heart. It needs a revival of the spirit of love. We need to become a people that focuses more on others and less on ourselves. Don’t we have more when we give more? Can’t we survive on less when we provide some of what we have to others? Isn’t life about focusing outward to meet the needs of those around us? And do we most often miss loving those who are around us the most? Do we take for granted the air we breath? Are we simply breathing air in and not giving the breath of life to another individual? Our breath can be used to build those up around us.
In a world where everything is consumed, are we putting anything out there that puts something positive back? Everybody wants love. But are we giving love? Or are we living without love and trying to breath without air?
Some posts I ask many more questions than I can begin to answer. And I don’t have the answers. I’m just pondering some of the great questions I think of sometimes. If anything-these questions change the way I live and love. And I’m going to live a life that breathes love and life to others.
Tonight for the sixth year in a row, I had the privilege of attending the Hutchinson Public School’s Mass Bands Concert. Every band student from 6th grade on up to 12th grade plays in this massive concert sometimes referred to as the “mass mess”. I’ve never thought it to be a mess, but a medley of all the things big and small the students have learned in their musical lives.
I know that each time I attend a school function where one of my kiddos is performing, I will suffer from “allergies”, so I try to always be prepared. I have my camera, flip video, and tissues ready for all the things I’ll need to do. The electronics handle all the memories, while the tissues handle those pesky allergies. Ok, so my allergies are not real allergies. Instead it’s my way of saying I’m a “mush”.
Anytime I see my kids perform, my eyes will fill with tears. And the amount of liquid that fills them is directly related to how hard whatever it is that causes this to occur pulls on my heart string. I never really knew why this happened until tonight. As I watched my oldest daughter play her flute for the sixth year in this concert and my youngest her first, I suddenly realized that it wasn’t necessarily this performance that brought the flood of tears to my eyes. I started thinking back to my oldest daughter’s last concert. I wondered: What makes me tear up? What pulls at my heart when I watch my kids achieve something new? Tonight it hit me like a ton of bricks. And I think when those bricks hit my heart it set off a chain reaction.
My eyes teared up quickly.
My lip quivered.
I started chewing my gum and squirming in my seat to stop the previous two reactions.
It worked to control the tear flow. At least temporarily. It started again during the next song, and here’s why:
Every achievement my kids make is like a rerun of their lives played right before me. I’m not witnessing this one time thing, this one single performance. Maybe that’s what my eyes see at this point in time–just this one thing. But when I experience my kids doing something new, or performing something different, or spreading their wings, I am actually experiencing stacked memories. As I watched my oldest tonight, I saw not just tonight’s Mass Bands Concert. Nope. I saw 17 1/2 years of concerts. My mind flooded with memories of dances. I saw countless Halloween’s of princess and Barney costumes replayed in my head. I remembered Christmas mornings and the pitter-patter of those tiny feet running in to remind me that Santa had come and left presents under the tree even though I’d barely made it to bed before the kids would awaken. I could hear the infectious belly laughs of those toddler years, and the nightly singing in the shower from my kindergarten opera star who’d sing her heart out unaware that I was listening at the door just soaking it all in! (My lip quivers again, because it’s like experiencing an earthquake of love in my heart!)
I realized that memories get stacked. And each new thing becomes yet another memory. So, as I sit and watch one performance or concert, or see one of my children reach a new milestone, I see many, many years of incredible moments flash before my eyes. It seems like a movie of the sweetest and most memorable events. And all the memories gathered year after year are what tug the heart string that is directly connected to my eyes and fills them with those precious tears that only a mother could understand. There are no words for all of those wonderful experiences. There are no easy ways to describe the joyous emotions that surface. And that’s because they are likely too much for one heart alone to contain.
I realized those tears have nothing to do with being mushy and everything to do with witnessing a life. Because that’s what your Momma’s tears are made of. They are made of life!
Have you ever heard someone say that? “Oh, now that will DEFINITELY take a miracle!” Have you ever said that? I’m going to close my eyes and pretend I see hands being raised. I believe we’ve all said that at one point in our lives or another. I know I have. And I still do!
Today I was taking a break to drive and grab a Pepsi. Occasionally, I will be a bit rebellious and live on the other side and drink a Coke. But not today. Nope, just plain ‘ol Pepsi. I was contemplating something new in my life. It’s awesome, it’s great, and it’s very exciting. But, it’s also scary, uncertain, and there’s some risk involved. Why? I have to let go of control and trust. Easier said than done, right? I know so! But, I also choose to use the faith I believe so deeply in and hang on tight. After all, this could be the ride and adventure of a lifetime, and I’m not about to miss a single moment of it!
I distinctly remember walking to my car and audibly saying as I thought about this big risk that I am so excited about, “Oh, now this is DEFINITELY going to take a miracle!” And I suddenly found myself busting out in laughter. I thought about what I had again just said. And I began to think about what it means to know that in order for something to work out, come together, be overcome, end in victory, and be a success, that nothing short of a miracle is most definitely going to be required! (By the way: Is it healthy to laugh alone when no one else can figure out what on earth happened that was so worthy of the outburst? Never mind. I don’t want to know. It’s something I’d rather not change!)
Think about that for a minute. What kind of life would I be living if there were no miraculous events, interactions, or interventions required? Pretty boring actually! But, think again about living a life where everything required the miraculous power and provision of the living God in order to be won, accomplished, changed, overpowered, or attempted! That is amazing!
Yes, I want a life that requires many miracles and the participation of God. I don’t want a boring, safe, predictable, and life lived because I sit on the safety of the sidelines. I am a player! I want to risk getting hurt. I want to risk failing because I tried something new or too hard for me to do on my own. I want to learn about life, love, and trust. I want to live victoriously, but I know I can’t do it in my own power. I don’t have what it takes. But, I have a God who make EVERYTHING possible, if I choose to look to Him and give Him the power and room He needs to work in my life!
Suddenly, all those overwhelming things that require miracles are so awesome! Bring them on! Let it rain! Everyday I wake and take a breath and look to the opportunities that just await, I want to look up to God and say, “Oh, now that will DEFINITELY take a miracle!” and smile knowing that that’s exactly the point and look expectantly to Him for the provision!
Oh, don’t underestimate the possibilities in life and what God can help us overcome and achieve.
Ask Him for the miracles and then believe! Let’s open our eyes to amazing things yet to come and place our hope in Him! It’s the only way to live a miraculous life!
Once again, I was simply on an errand when a powerful thought process hit my poor unsuspecting brain. I was craving lemonade and decided to head to the store. But since I was going to be out and about, I thought it would be a good time to go ahead and do something I really don’t like doing. I hate having to stop to put gas in my car. It’s just a distraction! But, since I’m not one to go all the way to empty, I talked myself into getting it over with. I filled up my PT Cruiser, and it cost me $37.75. It was almost empty, but I thanked my lucky stars that even so, my gas bill for a full tank is still under $40. Yes!!! Hooray! I love my car!
I got to thinking about how when I was searching for a car a few years back, I wanted something good on gas, a five-speed just because that’s how I roll (it’s fun!), and it had to have enough room for the kids and hauling that I do. The bulk of my hauling is groceries for three teens, but that’s still a load! My car is not perfect. It definitely has it’s flaws. But, it’s my car, it’s more than affordable for my budget, I enjoy it, and well, it’s my baby! It does get me to where I need to go, I find joy in it, and though I could have gotten something different, I’m glad it doesn’t break me or my bank account! Imperfections and all, I love it, and I’m very content.
Anyhow, I could immediately see how this had a life application to it. Oh, here we go. This always happens, but nonetheless, I was trying to drive and write on a piece of paper as this thought just consumed me and melted my heart. As I drove I wrote: It’s not about what I have, but how I live with what I have. What a thought! And being that it’s Mother’s Day, it was a very special thought.
I don’t have a perfect house, I don’t have a perfect family, I don’t have perfect kids, I don’t have perfect relationships, I don’t have many perfect things. In fact, nothing I have is absolutely perfect or just right. But, I am so blessed with those people and things in my life, and I am even more blessed because I recognize that even with their flaws and imperfections, they bring me so much joy and hold an immeasurable amount of value! Oh, how I love those people and things! They may not be perfect, but I live my life as though they are the perfect things for me. And in them somehow they have really become perfect to me.
Though many things in my life may have flaws or something that wouldn’t be considered ideal, they have become my ideal choice. I wouldn’t dare trade them for the world. They are special and unique even if only that way to me. Sometimes I think we can set our expectations so high, that we could overlook many things that are not just ideal, but absolutely priceless though their value may be in some form we never anticipated.
As I sit and enjoy my Cherry-Pomegranite beverage (yes I purchased lemonade, but I LOVE Pomegranite drinks and decided to sip on this as I type from my deck on my laptop) I am reminded that sometimes simplicity has more value than what you strive for in the relentless pursuit of the ideal. It’s not what I have. It’s how I live with what I have. And that is simply joyfully, happily, and affordably. I’ll take that. Because in actuality, it’s quite perfect for me!
Today was the annual cookout at the elementary school my daughter attends. It’s her final year of elementary before she moves to middle school, and I didn’t want to miss it. I eagerly anticipated the lunch hour and when it was time, I headed toward that part of town in anticipation of some great conversation and fun. But, when we got our standard school issue burgers and beans (no, they were pretty good), I headed over to the table of sixth grade girls and squeezed myself on the small bench beside them.
As we began to eat, I found myself listening more than talking. And the conversation was appalling to say the least. Some of the things that were being discussed just had no business being part of a sixth grade life. After all, they are still kids. And as I listened to the stories, boy and girl issues, picking and teasing, blatant parental defiance and sometimes just plain meanness, I found myself becoming more and more agitated. I kept wondering why the girls were being allowed to do some of the things they did and talked about, yet not one adult was willing to step in and advise the girls of the improper behaviors. It was hard for me to imagine letting my daughter participate. But truly, the icing on the cake was the talk about how uncool it was for my daughter to have her mother at lunch, because they all stopped doing it in the second grade.Really? I don’t remember getting a memo from my kids stating that at 8 years old they no longer needed a parent. And if I would have, I certainly would not have agreed to it under any circumstances. Personally, the fact that my kids don’t like the rules and boundaries I set tells me that I am doing my job regardless of them liking it. And I don’t plan on changing that any time soon–even for my almost 18 year old. I. Am. The. Parent. Whew, ok, so my buttons got pushed a bit. Deeeeep breath:)
Some of the biggest issues I could see right away:
Unlimited and unsupervised cell phone usage. Who monitors what they are doing, saying, and seeing? I was shocked.
Television and internet without supervision. I heard about things I don’t even participate in, because of their inappropriateness.
Judgmental attitudes. They tore everyone and everything apart that crossed their paths that didn’t fit their standard of coolness.
The longer I listened, the more disheartened I became. The list could go on and on! I “gently” but without hesitation made some comments about learning to see past someone’s flaws, because it’s what’s underneath that counts-that’s the true substance of a person, but I think it was largely ignored. And I could see it was making my daughter uncomfortable at the same time. It was a tough situation, so I spoke to my daughter, focused on her, and told her we’d get a drink after school. That will give me time to spend with her as her parent so we can talk about how to handle this best. And besides, I want to be the one to teach her, not merely influence her.
When I left and drove home, I found myself becoming more and more frustrated. I wanted to fix it. I was really upset and to the point that I couldn’t even voice it. These are our teenagers. They are our future leaders. They are your kids and mine. And my heart was breaking greatly. Again, it was something so deep inside of me that I can’t even begin to figure out where it’s kept. But, I had no words. I had no way to describe it. I couldn’t even begin to put it into an emotion other than a great distress deep within. But it was there, it was deep, and all I could do was just feel like I was screaming inside and supressing some amazingly big tears.
I wanted (and still want) to fix it. I don’t even understand this passion. Me? Why? How? But, I have to do something. I will move mountains to do something. I do know that much. And I know that when this happens, God completely understands. After all, He knows me. All of me. So, I began to pray about it. I checked my email and responded to an inquiry about my Hope in Hutchinson page on Facebook. And as I explained the life management training, leadership development, and the community building initiatives I have continue to build, I began to understand what I was experiencing.
My mind was flooded with thoughts of Nehemiah.
Nehemiah 1 (New International Version, ©2011)
1The words of Nehemiah son of Hakaliah:
In the month of Kislev in the twentieth year, while I was in the citadel of Susa, 2 Hanani, one of my brothers, came from Judah with some other men, and I questioned them about the Jewish remnant that had survived the exile, and also about Jerusalem.
3 They said to me, “Those who survived the exile and are back in the province are in great trouble and disgrace. The wall of Jerusalem is broken down, and its gates have been burned with fire.”
4 When I heard these things, I sat down and wept. For some days I mourned and fasted and prayed before the God of heaven. 5 Then I said:
“LORD, the God of heaven, the great and awesome God, who keeps his covenant of love with those who love him and keep his commandments, 6 let your ear be attentive and your eyes open to hear the prayer your servant is praying before you day and night for your servants, the people of Israel. I confess the sins we Israelites, including myself and my father’s family, have committed against you. 7 We have acted very wickedly toward you. We have not obeyed the commands, decrees and laws you gave your servant Moses.
8 “Remember the instruction you gave your servant Moses, saying, ‘If you are unfaithful, I will scatter you among the nations, 9 but if you return to me and obey my commands, then even if your exiled people are at the farthest horizon, I will gather them from there and bring them to the place I have chosen as a dwelling for my Name.’
10 “They are your servants and your people, whom you redeemed by your great strength and your mighty hand. 11 Lord, let your ear be attentive to the prayer of this your servant and to the prayer of your servants who delight in revering your name. Give your servant success today by granting him favor in the presence of this man.”
I was cupbearer to the king.
Nehemiah was deeply bothered. And I can SO relate to that! I can’t explain it. But I can read this in verse 4 “4 When I heard these things, I sat down and wept. For some days I mourned and fasted and prayed before the God of heaven. 5, ” I know it must be similar to how Nehemiah felt when Jerusalem’s walls lied in ruin. It was a community in desperate need! It’s people desperately needed a restored community.
When I sat in lunch today, when I heard the destruction taking place in our young people’s lives, and when I responded to an inquiry about a community being changed from the inside out through it’s own people, I realized that the reason I felt so passionately about it and began to mourn and again realize the importance of rebuilding it through reinforcing the residents and preparing them to get involved and change one thing at a time for the benefit of others, I knew without a doubt that I was having what I call a “Nehemiah moment.” And in that moment, God reminded me that I cannot restore it all by myself. My passion, mission, and calling is to mobilize the masses through the training and coaching that I do to show everyone how to put action behind their passions to live on purpose. We live, work, and play as a community.
I think the lesson behind today’s events at lunch was to remind me of this as I train and build leaders to take action:
You’re never too old to make a difference in your community. And your never too young to be shown how to make that difference.
My spirit is burning bright and my passion to live on purpose hotter than ever. Turns out, it was a great lunch.
Look out Jerusalem. Hutchinson has got some walls to rebuild.