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

Personal Reflections

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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What Happens When I Linger in God’s Presence

 

new smyrna sunrise 5-14

God gave me an unsolicited word for 2017—linger. I love the concept and even the sound of the word. It speaks for itself. My first call to linger is to tarry in His presence.

Lingering does not come easily these days. All my responsibilities and my ministry via social media have given me a distracted mind. To help me escape some of that distraction, I have spent several days at the beach—lingering in the presence of the Lord.

As I have lingered and listened, this is what has happened. He has spoken to me.

He Loves Me

In reality, all of Scripture tells of His love for me, of His relentless pursuit to bring me back into relationship with Himself. I could find hundreds of verses assuring me of his love. Here are two I am especially grateful for:

“I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with unfailing kindness.” (Jeremiah 31:3)

‘The Lord your God is with you,
the Mighty Warrior who saves.
He will take great delight in you;
in his love he will no longer rebuke you,
but will rejoice over you with singing.” (Zephaniah 3:17)

He Calls Me Friend 

In the Old Testament, even in any other religion of the world, no one could imagine thinking of God as “friend.”

Yet Jesus once again turned the religious establishment upside down with these words to His disciples:  “I have called you friends….” (John 15:15)

What do you do with your friends? You hang out with them. You linger in their presence.

He Assures Me I Am His Daughter 

It would have been enough to have my sins paid for, to be forgiven, to have an eternal home—and all the other gifts offered through His death and resurrection. But God did one more things: He adopted me.

“I will be a Father to you, and you will be my sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty.” (2 Corinthians 6:18)

He Treasures Me 

I understand that. I certainly treasure my children and my children. But I hardly think of myself as a treasure. God does:

“For you are a people holy to the Lord your God. The Lord your God has chosen you out of all the peoples on the face of the earth to be his people, his treasured possession.” (Deuteronomy 7:6)

He Reveals His Plans for Me

He whispers in my ear about the pathways for my life:

“You have made known to me the paths of life….” (Acts 2:28) 

One of my favorite Scripture passages assures me more specifically of this:

“For we are God’s handiwork (actually, work of art), created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” (Ephesians 2:10)

He Blesses Me 

Of course. I am blessed when I am in the presence of my family, my friends, many other special people in my of life. So surely I am blessed in the presence of God.

Moses instructed Aaron to bless the people in this way:

“The Lord bless you
and keep you;
   the Lord make his face shine on you
and be gracious to you;
 the Lord turn his face toward you
and give you peace.”’ (Numbers 6:24-26)

He Gives Me Rest

Since I seem to be weary much of the time, this benefit of lingering in God’s presence brings me great joy:

“This is how we know that we belong to the truth and how we set our hearts at rest in his presence….“ (1 John 3:19)

He Is Always with Me 

Sometimes people neglect us, fail us, even abandon us. Not our God.

“And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Matthew 28:20) 

So I continue to linger in His presence, listening for His words of love, comfort, encouragement, hope:

“You make known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand.” (Psalms 16:11)

What about you? What have you heard as you linger in His presence? 

C2017 Judy Douglass

 




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When I Cooked for My Church Family

antioch-eating-2

“The food is good, Miss Judy,” said the 4-year-old, and the 6-year-old agreed, “The food is good, Miss Judy.”

Our church family meets on Sunday nights, beginning with dinner together at 5. Different people, or gospel communities or couples prepare dinner for us all—usually 50-60 people. Sometimes we get pizza or subs.

My life is full, I travel often and cooking is not my great strength. But I was always feeling I should sign up to do dinner. So January 8 was my day to serve our church family.

I decided to make Javanese Dinner, a large group meal introduced to our ministry staff decades ago by Vonette Bright. I remember preparing it more than 30 years ago. (My apologies to my Indonesian friends—I don’t know why it is called Javanese.)

I went to work. The recipe called for stewed chickens, but I preferred crockpots. I used my two and two borrowed from neighbors to slow cook 6 chickens. Getting two into the larger pots was a challenge, but I managed–and my house smelled wonderful.

I surely don’t remember that it was so much work to debone and shred all that meat. It took me several hours.

The dish calls for a buffet approach, piling up your food on your plate.

First came the rice. I had never tried to make rice for 50 people before—and I was not successful. It just wouldn’t cook enough and stayed very wet. I passed it off as Asian rice, which is usually not as dry as what we mostly serve in the U.S.

Then came the chicken. It was good, but needed more seasoning. Next time (if that ever comes) I will add more salt and pepper and a few other spices.

Then the toppings, which I chopped as needed: cheese, green onions, celery, carrots, pineapple, dried cranberries, slivered almonds, flaked coconut, pumpkin seeds—you can add what you want.

You top it off with the juice from cooking the chicken. Again, more seasoning was needed.

I was mostly pleased, except of course for the rice and the lack of seasonings. But all those wonderful people at church loved it! They went back for seconds. They kept telling me how good it was. I think they were truly surprised that I could cook at all, especially for 50 people.

But the best was to hear those girls tell me they loved it.

And the rest of the best is being a part of a church that’s a family and eats together and encourages the others, even my meager efforts.

And the kids know my name.

What about you? What helps your church feel like a family? 

C2017 Judy Douglass

 

 

 




Posted on by JudyDouglass in Becoming Kindling, Personal Reflections 2 Comments
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