The Homeless Veteran: Guest Post by Bobby Hegedish

Engaging with homeless people I encounter has become a joy and a passion for me.  My friend Bobby Hegedish has discovered a similar calling. I think you will love his story of a homeless veteran. Orlando (although a city like Cleveland where I call home) has a much different vibe than most of the cities I have been to. Ethnic, cultural and economical diversity paint the town colors that make it known as “The City Beautiful.” I don’t usually find myself walking the streets of downtown Orlando past 11:00 PM. However, walking the streets recently to where my parked car was located gave me a sense of being small. Surrounded by skyscrapers and people, from wanderers to third-shift workers, I had a sense of being invisible. But in a moment of discrete observation and contemplation, the city around me became like a scene from a good documentary. What happened next would have made a great scene in such a film. Muttered words I could barely understand came from a man passing by on my right, head to the ground and papers in hand. From when I was a child, I have had a particular burden for those who had less and the homeless. Regardless of how they got there, it was their reality. Yet in small suburban Cleveland growing up, there weren’t many people with those situations to interact with. “Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.” (Matthew 25:40) Stopping in my tracks, I turned to the man in a split-second decision to attempt a conversation with him. I’ve tried many ways of serving the poor throughout the past several years: giving money or food, taking them out to eat, giving rides, and even a place to stay. These have been exercises as well as tests of faith for me. However, it is so easy to dismiss and project critical, judgmental thoughts onto folks like this man, who I found out was named David. These initial heart-level responses are inherent: external circumstances which trigger pre-disposed responses. Call it “flight Read more

Write the Vision: Guest Post by Stacey Thacker

  “And the Lord answered me: ‘Write the vision; make it plain on tablets, so he may run who reads it.’” (Habakkuk 2:2) A couple of years ago I found a kindred heart on the pages of God’s Word. His name was Habakkuk. He has a tiny three-chapter book in the Old Testament with his name on it. Maybe I liked him immediately because he wrestled with God. Or perhaps it was because of something God told Habakkuk to do, even though he was feeling fresh out of amazing like me. “What did God tell Habakkuk to do? He told the prophet to pick up the chisel and write the vision on a tablet. God also told him how to do it. The phrase “keep it simple.” Now consider that God had to tell farmer-turned-prophet Habakkuk to keep his message simple. He didn’t have a hashtag, images purchased from iStock, or even colored pens to make his message extra special. He didn’t have a Journaling Bible or a You-Tube video. He had a simple message written on tablets of stone, and God said, “Hey, Habakkuk, just write what you saw. Nothing less. Nothing more.” When God speaks we don’t need to dress it up or make it fancy. His Word, his vision, his instructions are enough. God told Habakkuk to write it down. And he did. I know what you may be thinking: “But I’m not a writer. I failed writing in college. I avoid writing grocery lists. This doesn’t apply to me.” Before you move on, though, let me just put this out there for you to consider: Habakkuk was a farmer. Peter was a fisherman. David was a shepherd. Matthew was a tax collector. James was a carpenter. I am a mom. Write the vision on people's hearts. You don’t have to identify as a writer to write down faith-affirming words inspired by God. You simply have to be willing. And whether anyone sees your words or you tuck them away in a journal like I did for years, your words matter because your soul matters. Writing is indeed clarifying soul work. And isn’t that what we need Read more

Our Loving Bitmojis--Just in Time for Valentine's

We would know we love each other if we never said the words because of the little things we do daily to demonstrate Read more

Lingering in the Word of God Brings Transformation

This is the third post from my word for the year—linger. What does a true follower of Jesus look like and live like? I ask that question often, especially as I read—and linger--in the Word God. Today I was in Romans 12—which is abounding with words that unveil the beautiful, character-growing transformation that God has promised to do in our lives. A Living Sacrifice The chapter is brimming with instructions to encourage us to surrender to God’s labor of love in our lives. So we will take a brief look at just verses 1-2, and hopefully continue through the chapter in later posts. And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him. Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect. (Romans 12:1-2, NLT) Paul is addressing you and me as well as the believers in Rome: brothers and sisters—all of us! What he wants to say to us is so vital and essential that he pleads with us. Because of all God has done for us, he reasons, we must give our bodies to God. This giving of ourselves is no small matter—we are to give ourselves as a living and holy sacrifice. A living sacrifice? Clearly something different than the sacrifices of animals. What does it mean to be a living sacrifice? (Here’s a hint: We will find out what that looks like as we encounter the verses that follow in the rest of the chapter.) And a holy sacrifice? Me? You? Holy? Only because we have been made holy by the sacrifice of Jesus. And acceptable to God? Again, only because we have been bought by Jesus’ death on the cross. How does our Father receive our very personal sacrifices? As worship. Perhaps this giving of our living selves is Read more

Hidden Figures - the work and worth of women at Tim Fall

  For years I have been an advocate for the staff women in our ministry, seeking greater opportunities for them to use their gifts. In more recent years my friend and acquaintance circle has expanded to embrace many women of color. So it's no surprise that I loved Hidden Figures. It is a beautiful story of overcoming prejudice and discrimination to accomplish great things.  And I am grateful that Tim Fall invited me to write a personal reflection on the movie. I hope this "review" will get you up and on your way to see it.. Here's a taste, then head on over to Tim's blog, Just One Train Wreck After Another, to keep reading.   My stomach knotted. Already? Would there be trouble even in the opening scene? Three young black women on their way to work at NASA in the early 1960s stalled on the side of a country road. As the “mechanical one” worked to fix the problem, a police officer pulled up behind them. Cheerfulness turned to confrontation. My whole body tensed as I remembered such encounters in books I had read, in movies I had seen, in stories my friends had related. Gratefully “working at NASA” rescued them and the officer escorted them to their jobs. I attended the showing of Hidden Figures with the global leaders of Cru. It’s become tradition at the annual Executive Team retreat to take a break and attend a current significant movie. I asked why Hidden Figures was chosen, though there were other important films available in the same theater.... Keep reading: https://timfall.wordpress.com/2017/01/23/hidden-figures-the-work-and-worth-of-women/ What about you?  What emotions did this stir? c2017 Judy Read more

The Homeless Veteran: Guest Post by Bobby Hegedish

Engaging with homeless people I encounter has become a joy and a passion for me.  My friend Bobby Hegedish has discovered a similar calling. I think you will love his story of a homeless veteran.

Orlando skyline

Orlando (although a city like Cleveland where I call home) has a much different vibe than most of the cities I have been to. Ethnic, cultural and economical diversity paint the town colors that make it known as “The City Beautiful.”

I don’t usually find myself walking the streets of downtown Orlando past 11:00 PM. However, walking the streets recently to where my parked car was located gave me a sense of being small.

Surrounded by skyscrapers and people, from wanderers to third-shift workers, I had a sense of being invisible. But in a moment of discrete observation and contemplation, the city around me became like a scene from a good documentary. What happened next would have made a great scene in such a film.

Muttered words I could barely understand came from a man passing by on my right, head to the ground and papers in hand. From when I was a child, I have had a particular burden for those who had less and the homeless. Regardless of how they got there, it was their reality. Yet in small suburban Cleveland growing up, there weren’t many people with those situations to interact with.

“Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.” (Matthew 25:40)

Stopping in my tracks, I turned to the man in a split-second decision to attempt a conversation with him. I’ve tried many ways of serving the poor throughout the past several years: giving money or food, taking them out to eat, giving rides, and even a place to stay. These have been exercises as well as tests of faith for me. However, it is so easy to dismiss and project critical, judgmental thoughts onto folks like this man, who I found out was named David. These initial heart-level responses are inherent: external circumstances which trigger pre-disposed responses. Call it “flight or fight” if you will, but the heart responds before we decide what to act on.

My initial heart response was to stay in my zone and keep walking, but one look into David’s face had me standing square with him on the sidewalk. He handed me a poem he had written. It was about his journey and how God has pulled him through. I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that lingering deep in the corners of my somewhat guarded heart were questions of this man’s intentions. Did he want money? Did he need food? A friend? Regardless, it didn’t matter anymore as he began to pour out his life story to me.

Homeless veteran, divorced with children he hasn’t seen in who knows how long, and ill with lupus–my interest in the affairs of David’s life grew with each insight he gave me.

“But when you give a feast, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you. For you will be repaid at the resurrection of the just.” (Luke 14:13-14)

After close to an hour listening and sharing, he asked for a bus pass. At this point the realization came that regardless of what brought this man to the place he is, providing a bus pass for him was something I had ample ability to do.

We hugged, said our goodbyes, and left with the subtle joy of having made a new friend. Let me be honest. Even after a rich relational experience with an unlikely friend, I had doubts. Doubts about what he would do with the bus pass money I gave him. Doubts about his story. Doubts that I truly served him rather than enabled him.

It was at that very moment of clouding doubts that I came to a man lying on a bench attached to the sidewalk. Getting closer to the man, I noticed he had holes in his feet. Yes, holes. This would have caused me some alarm if I didn’t immediately realize this was a bronze statue, molded into the bench itself. Standing somewhat baffled at the placement and intention of such a piece of art, the plaque to the right of the bench gave me clarity to what was before me:

Homeless Jesus plaque

 “Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.” (Matthew 25:40)

 

Homeless Jesus

This moment seemed surreal. The timing of my interaction with David, my ensuing doubts, followed by stumbling upon this sculpture was too timely to not be an acknowledgement of the Divine hand behind this orchestrated experience.

Honestly, I felt broken. This night was pivotal in my walk with Christ and the way I am challenged to live out the Gospel of grace toward all people, especially the poor and needy. It was as if I touched a fraction of God’s very heart, or rather, that He touched mine.

Weeping on the bench from a mixture of emotions, including the regret that burdened my soul from judging David’s motives and the pure joy of having a real-time moment with our living God, I asked Him to change me and take me on the adventure of entering other’s stories. To help me love and serve those He calls me to love and serve–because He cares deeply for them, regardless of status. It is in His ability to soften a heart of stone and indifference that I put my hope.

“The kingdom of God is not coming in ways that can be observed, nor will they say, ‘Look, here it is!’ or ‘There!’ for behold, the kingdom of God is in the midst of you.” (Luke 17:21)

What about you? How have you been challenged to love outside of your comfort zone?




Posted on by JudyDouglass in Becoming Kindling 1 Comment

Write the Vision: Guest Post by Stacey Thacker

Write the Vision

 

“And the Lord answered me: ‘Write the vision; make it plain on tablets, so he may run who reads it.’” (Habakkuk 2:2)

A couple of years ago I found a kindred heart on the pages of God’s Word. His name was Habakkuk. He has a tiny three-chapter book in the Old Testament with his name on it. Maybe I liked him immediately because he wrestled with God. Or perhaps it was because of something God told Habakkuk to do, even though he was feeling fresh out of amazing like me.

“What did God tell Habakkuk to do? He told the prophet to pick up the chisel and write the vision on a tablet. God also told him how to do it. The phrase “keep it simple.”

Now consider that God had to tell farmer-turned-prophet Habakkuk to keep his message simple. He didn’t have a hashtag, images purchased from iStock, or even colored pens to make his message extra special. He didn’t have a Journaling Bible or a You-Tube video.

He had a simple message written on tablets of stone, and God said, “Hey, Habakkuk, just write what you saw. Nothing less. Nothing more.” When God speaks we don’t need to dress it up or make it fancy. His Word, his vision, his instructions are enough.

God told Habakkuk to write it down. And he did.

I know what you may be thinking: “But I’m not a writer. I failed writing in college. I avoid writing grocery lists. This doesn’t apply to me.” Before you move on, though, let me just put this out there for you to consider:

  • Habakkuk was a farmer.
  • Peter was a fisherman.
  • David was a shepherd.
  • Matthew was a tax collector.
  • James was a carpenter.
  • I am a mom.

Write the vision on people’s hearts.

You don’t have to identify as a writer to write down faith-affirming words inspired by God.

You simply have to be willing. And whether anyone sees your words or you tuck them away in a journal like I did for years, your words matter because your soul matters. Writing is indeed clarifying soul work. And isn’t that what we need most when we are fresh out of amazing?

Maybe you think this is fine for word-loving girls, but you still do not consider yourself a writer. Perhaps even keeping a private journal has no appeal to you. I have had times in my life when my journal sits unused and gathers dust. I get the “no appeal.” I really do. But guess what? Friend, we are the actual living letters other people are reading.

The apostle Paul said it in 2 Corinthians 3:2-3 (The Voice):

You are our letter, every word burned onto our hearts to be read by everyone. You are the living letter of the Anointed One, the Liberating King, nurtured by us and inscribed, not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God—a letter too passionate to be chiseled onto stone tablets, but emblazoned upon the human heart.

We open our heart and from the beginning God begins to mark it with his holy pen. He writes Christ on it, telling those who read our lives that we are his. God doesn’t write on stone tablets anymore. He writes on human hearts that live and breathe and have their being in him.

And as we go about our day, our hearts bump into the hearts of others, and we write a message on their hearts as well. When we write God’s grace words, we build up, love, and encourage the people we encounter.

It gives me pause to think of the hearts I have written on today. What mark did I leave? Have I left a God word there for others to read? Will my marks on their hearts point others to Him? The most powerful place to write God’s truth is on the tablet of someone’s heart. We have to treat this responsibility with great care.

As a writer, I often think about the effect of words.

But I hope after considering it, you understand that you are a writer too. It is tempting when we are fresh out of amazing to only write messages of discouragement and discontent on the hearts of others. But sharing the gospel is simply writing Jesus on the heart of everyone we encounter. When we do that, people will not say, “She is amazing!” They will say, “Wow! Her God is good.”

Your words, if chosen carefully, can land in the soft places of people’s hearts and point them to Jesus. I’m overwhelmed by this opportunity he so freely gives.

It is truly sacred space. “

(Adapted from Fresh Out of Amazing: Opening Your Heart to God’s Unexpected Invitation)

Stacey_716-0Stacey Thacker is a wife and the mother of four girls. Creator of the popular blog Mothers of Daughters, she is a writer and speaker who loves God’s Word. Her passion is to connect with women and encourage them in their walks with God. Her books include Hope for the Weary Mom, the Hope for the Weary Mom Devotional: A 40 Day Journey (co-written with Brooke McGlothlin) and Fresh Out of Amazing. You can find her blogging at staceythacker.com and hanging out on Instagram and Twitter @staceythacker, usually with a cup of coffee in her hand.

 

 




Posted on by JudyDouglass in Guest posts 5 Comments

Our Loving Bitmojis–Just in Time for Valentine’s

Happy Valentines day

I enjoy Valentine’s Day, but I don’t really need it. I never doubt that my husband loves me. He tells me so at least several times a day.

For which I am always grateful.

And I do the same for him.

It’s not hard after almost 42 years of marriage. We would know we love each other if we never said the words because of the little things we do daily to demonstrate it.

He makes coffee for me every morning and keeps my cup filled.

I make sure he is well covered in the middle of the night so he doesn’t get cold.

He lives with our home colder than he likes.

I love live with our home warmer than I prefer.

He fixes things around the house all the time.

I fix dinners I know he likes.

These kinds of loving acts keep Valentine’s going all year.

And now we are having fun with a new way to express our love.

My assistant Michelle knows everything about social media, so she designed a bitmoji for me. You can hopefully see some resemblance in the character portrayed here.

A couple of days ago Michelle also created a character for Steve—I think it definitely resembles him.

With bitmojis you can send almost any message you want from your phone.

I love you bitmojis

 

I love you more

 

hugs and kisses

crazy about you

half hearts

So now, instead of just texting “I love you” or “I’ll be home soon” or “Thanks for doing that for me”, we use bitmojis to communicate with fun and some flair. And of course, “Happy Valentine’s.”

I hope our loving bitmojis give you a smile for your day—maybe even a laugh.

And perhaps some ideas for new ways to say “I love you!” And to keep Valentine’s going all year.

What about you? Does a loved one know how much they are loved?

C2017 Judy Douglass




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Lingering in the Word of God Brings Transformation

This is the third post from my word for the year—linger.

butterfly

What does a true follower of Jesus look like and live like?

I ask that question often, especially as I read—and linger–in the Word God.

Today I was in Romans 12—which is abounding with words that unveil the beautiful, character-growing transformation that God has promised to do in our lives.

A Living Sacrifice

The chapter is brimming with instructions to encourage us to surrender to God’s labor of love in our lives. So we will take a brief look at just verses 1-2, and hopefully continue through the chapter in later posts.

And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him. Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect. (Romans 12:1-2, NLT)

Paul is addressing you and me as well as the believers in Rome: brothers and sisters—all of us! What he wants to say to us is so vital and essential that he pleads with us. Because of all God has done for us, he reasons, we must give our bodies to God.

This giving of ourselves is no small matter—we are to give ourselves as a living and holy sacrifice. A living sacrifice? Clearly something different than the sacrifices of animals. What does it mean to be a living sacrifice? (Here’s a hint: We will find out what that looks like as we encounter the verses that follow in the rest of the chapter.)

And a holy sacrifice? Me? You? Holy? Only because we have been made holy by the sacrifice of Jesus. And acceptable to God? Again, only because we have been bought by Jesus’ death on the cross.

How does our Father receive our very personal sacrifices? As worship. Perhaps this giving of our living selves is a more desirable worship than even our singing praises and giving and serving.

It’s About Transformation

Then Paul gets down to some specifics: This isn’t about behaving better. It’s about transformation. Don’t look and live like everyone around you. Don’t be conformed to the world. In an old translation, J.B. Phillips put it this way: Don’t let the world around you squeeze you into its own mold, but let God re-mold your minds from within. 

When my daughter Michelle was quite young, she received a balloon at a party. Not wanting to lose it, she decided to keep it safe in her lunch box. Watching her try to squeeze that balloon into that lunch box was entertaining—and it reminded me of how often I try to squeeze my life into the shape of the world.

God, however, has a better mold for us—He makes us into new people who look and live like Jesus.

How? That seems like an impossible transformation.

Elsewhere we learn that God actually gives us new hearts that desire to do what He desires:  

And I will give you a new heart, and I will put a new spirit in you. I will take out your stony, stubborn heart and give you a tender, responsive heart….I will put my laws in their minds, and I will write them on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people…  I will put my laws in their hearts, and I will write them on their minds. (Ezekiel 36:26; Hebrews 8:10; 10:16)

A New Heart and a New Mind

He changes our hearts, growing His desires in our new hearts. Often, though, desire is not enough. He tells in the verses above and in Romans 12:2 that the mind must also be made new. Here’s the key—it’s a joint project between God’s Holy Spirit and us.

He instructs us to “be transformed” (NIV). He accomplishes the transformation, which is something only He can do. But we are told we must cooperate—“be” makes it an imperative verb. We must allow God to bring the new mind alive by His Holy Spirit and He will change us—to look and live like Jesus.

Thinking Like God

This made-new mind enables us to do the impossible—to learn to think like God. We know that our natural mind does not think like God thinks. But now, with a new mind, our thinking is transformed.

The result: Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect. 

My response: Oh Father, thank You. Thank You for giving me a new heart and a renewed mind. I have offered my body as a living sacrifice as an acceptable act of worship. Please take this heart and mind and, by the transforming work of Your Holy Spirit, make me into a new person. May I live and love like Jesus, proving to myself and to a needy world around me that Your will is good and pleasing and perfect.

What about you? How is God renewing and transforming you?

C2017 Judy Douglass

Related posts;

Learning to Linger 

What Happens When I Linger in God’s Presence

 




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Hidden Figures – the work and worth of women at Tim Fall

 

hidden figures women

For years I have been an advocate for the staff women in our ministry, seeking greater opportunities for them to use their gifts. In more recent years my friend and acquaintance circle has expanded to embrace many women of color.

So it’s no surprise that I loved Hidden Figures. It is a beautiful story of overcoming prejudice and discrimination to accomplish great things.  And I am grateful that Tim Fall invited me to write a personal reflection on the movie. I hope this “review” will get you up and on your way to see it..

Here’s a taste, then head on over to Tim’s blog, Just One Train Wreck After Another, to keep reading.

 

My stomach knotted.

Already? Would there be trouble even in the opening scene?

Three young black women on their way to work at NASA in the early 1960s stalled on the side of a country road. As the “mechanical one” worked to fix the problem, a police officer pulled up behind them. Cheerfulness turned to confrontation.

My whole body tensed as I remembered such encounters in books I had read, in movies I had seen, in stories my friends had related. Gratefully “working at NASA” rescued them and the officer escorted them to their jobs.

I attended the showing of Hidden Figures with the global leaders of Cru. It’s become tradition at the annual Executive Team retreat to take a break and attend a current significant movie.

I asked why Hidden Figures was chosen, though there were other important films available in the same theater….

Keep reading: https://timfall.wordpress.com/2017/01/23/hidden-figures-the-work-and-worth-of-women/

What about you?  What emotions did this stir?

c2017 Judy Douglass

 

 




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