Monthly Archives: January 2011

Meet People Where They Are

Cover of "The Shack"

Cover of The Shack

      

So I am giving you a new commandment; Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other. John  13:34

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       One of my favorite reads is the book The Shack by William P. Young.  If you have read the book, you are familiar with the character” Papa.” However,” Papa” is not a man but the character” Papa” is a large black woman. As Mac knocks on the door of the shack,” Papa” greets Mac with open arms. ” Papa” knows that Mac  is overwhelmed with grief.” Papa” also realizes Mac may not be quite ready to hear what she needs to tell him.  It is established early on that there is nurturing, listening, and the demonstrating of unconditional love before” Papa” can reach Mac’s heart.

 Now, the question has come up a time or two why did ” Papa” (God) appear to Mac as a woman instead of  in the form of male gender.  My answer to this question is that God was meeting Mac where he was in his life.  If you have read the book,  you know that there is abuse in Mac’s background and if” Papa” had appeared to Mac in the male gender, Mac would not be open  to the process of learning about life, forgiveness, and healing which was “Papa’s” purpose of Mac being at the shack.  Instead, God knew where Mac was in his life and met him at that moment in time.

As Christians, we are taught to be disciples for Christ. We are encouraged to share the  “Good News” and to introduce people to God and his Son Jesus. Yet, how do we present God and His Son, Christ,  to someone who does not know their Father and Teacher? Do we start out by quoting scripture? Do we drag them off to a revival and hold them hostage at the altar until they repent and accept the Lord into their life? Or, do we just simply greet and meet them where they are at in their lives?

The answer is the latter. We simply meet people where they are in their life. It is important that we listen to their story, hear their needs, and their hurts with a  non-judgemental attitude. It is our responsibility to  show unconditional love  and demonstrate God’s grace.  Through these methods of meeting someone where they are, they will eventually see and experience the grace of God.  As they experience God’s grace through you, you will also experience God’s grace through their story. You will see first hand what Jesus saw each time Jesus healed  or forgave someone.  It is then, you are a true disciple for Christ.

Not only is The Shack a wonderful example of meeting someone where they are, but, my dad was an example of this in his ministry.  I remember many times when Dad would go work on old cars with someone in the community who probably rarely or never set foot into the church. Then there were other times where he met  some of the guys at the local coffee shop and simply listened to their stories.  And, now a days at his local Cracker Barrel, Dad takes time to hear people’s stories. Many times they do not even know he is a minister. In  the beginning of meeting someone, he just simply shows an interest in them. Then, he listens with a  non-judgemental heart and somewhere in there God opens the door for Dad to share about God’s grace. As a result of this, I have witnessed some of  these very people Dad listened to and met where they were walk down the altar and give their life to Christ.

If you have read The Shack, you know eventually Mac comes around. He experiences the gift of forgiveness. He receives and accepts God’s wonderful grace. We see Mac’s hurts from the past begin to heal and he is able to move forward in his life.  I like what Mac tells Jesus before leaving the shack and Jesus’ reply to Mac. He says; All my best treasures are now hidden in you……I want you to be my life. Jesus responds;  “I am.” 

As you go through your week, I ask you to carry Mac’s statement with you as well as the response to his statement.  Then ask yourself ; Who’s story do I need to hear?  Then, ask God to use you as His vessel to show that someone  where the best treasures are in life.

The Front Porch

The Butterfly House @ Lake Junaluska, NC

Jim was on Facebook the other night chatting with friends. As I watched him chat and listen to him read a comment or two to me, I realized that Facebook is the new front porch. How many of you remember front porches? The front porch is where you sat on a warm evening and swung in the swing or rocked in a rocking chair. As you sat on the porch, friends and neighbors would come by and some would come up and sit a while. The news of the day would be shared along with a story or two told.  Sometimes, homemade ice cream would be made as the stories were shared. Or, a cold Coca Cola would be offered to sip on and savor as you visited with friends and family on the  porch.

Ah, yes, the front porch. One of my fondest memories of the front porch was Ms. Sarah and Mr. Cape’s front porch. They were our next door neighbors when my family and I lived in the small rural community of Burwell, Georgia. Anytime of the day you could go up to their porch and they would stop what they were doing and offer a Coca Cola and sometimes a piece of pecan pie and simply visit. Though, if it were garden season, you may be handed a bowl of peas to shell or beans to snap as you were treated to that Coke and pie. No matter though, the visits were all the same and I learned so much from just listening to Ms. Sarah and Mr. Cape share about their life. Oh, to be on that porch again.

Ms. Sarah’s and Mr. Cape’s home…spent many afternoons and evenings on this porch.

Another fond memory of a front porch began several years ago when my parents began renting a cottage at Lake Junaluska. Since it is difficult to get a lot of time together at the holidays and during the year, we all gather at the Butterfly House to enjoy fellowship, swapping stories and to simply re- charge. Now, if you have been to Junaluska, you know that sitting on the front porch is not an option but it is mandatory.  There is nothing like it to just sit there during the day and escape with a good book, to just sit and look at the lake and visit with folks as they pass by.  When sitting on a front porch at Junaluska, there is a front porch etiquette. First, you greet and wave to people as they pass by your porch. Also, when sitting on the porch, realize that you have extended an open invitation for anyone to come up and sit a while to visit. Sometimes, you may know your guest and other times it may be a meeting of the first time. Then, there is my code of the porch and that is there has to be a cold Coca Cola or glass of sweet iced tea in hand.  Now, that is what I called living!

It saddens me that now-a-days a lot of homes are not built with front porches. My house is one of those houses. As I look back, I wished I had picked a design that would have allowed for a front porch. In today’s world, most people come and go through their garages and never even see much less speak to a neighbor. Houses are built in such a way that you can’t tell if anyone is even at home which I am told that is just a good security thing. But, with the front porch gone, so is the fellowship and taking the time out to get to really know someone is gradually fading away. Thus, now each evening, we all get on Facebook to catch up with latest news or to share a story or two.

Though there are front porches few and far between, my challenge for you when it gets to be warm weather to find a spot in front of your house. Once you find your spot, take an iced tea or cold Coke out with you along with an extra chair or two. Then, as people in your neighborhood walk by invite them up to sit a while, share a story or two.

You see, it is all about fellowship. When we fellowship with one another, we are also in fellowship with God. God created us to fellowship with one another and to hear each other’s stories.  Who knows, one of those front porch visitors could be the blessing you need or you could be the blessing they need.

I hope you take time to enjoy a porch with loved ones. Thank you for visiting “Thoughts From The Porch.”

In the meantime, you will probably see Jim and me on our front porch during the day and/or in the evening. As we visit on our front porch, we will add a comment or two, we will share a story or two. Then, sometimes we will simply sit there and read your story as you share.  If you see us on the front porch, feel free to pop in and say hello on the chat line. Our front porch is open for fellowship. How about your front porch?

And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased. Hebrews 13:16         

Drew and Jim visiting on the porch @ Lake Junaluska, NC

His Eyes

Give me your eyes !
“Christianity is not a religion like most people think. Christianity is a life of imitating Jesus.” Thelma Wells

Open my eyes that I might see. Psalm 119:18

“Give me  your eyes for just one moment.” This is the main lyric to the song by Brandon Heath’s Give Me Your Eyes. It is also a song and a lyric that really makes me stop and think each time I hear it played over the airways.  Gee, I wonder how we would respond and act if we totally saw people as Jesus sees them.  I am sure if we made a conscious effort of seeing people through the eyes of Christ we would see others in a whole new light and quickly changing our opinion.

When Jesus met the woman at the well, He saw a woman who was hurting. Jesus saw a woman who wanted to be truly loved for the right reasons. Yet, society saw her as an outcast and had nothing to do with her.  Then, there is the time where Jesus healed the gentleman who had leprosy. Again, Jesus saw a man who wanted to be healthy and made whole through and through.  But, society saw this man as a person who was unclean and just figured that he had sinned to have leprosy.  You may also recall the woman who as about to be stoned to death because of adultery. Yet, Jesus approached the judgemental crowd and said ” you without sin throw the first stone” (John 8:7). Thus, the crowd walked away and Jesus said to the lady “Go now and leave your life of sin.”

In today’s world, we are all guilty of sizing someone up and judging them even though we may not know them.  We look across a crowded room and single one person out and we begin writing their life story in our heads. Yet, we have not met them. Along with the fact that we have not met them, we also not dare to venture across the room to meet them and learn their story.  It is sad, but it is so true.  As a result, the opportunity is missed in  getting to know another Child of God and possibly introducing them to a life with Jesus.  Or, the missed opportunity is we miss hearing a testimony that we so needed to hear.

“Give me your eyes for just one moment.” This lyric should become our daily prayer as we begin our day and go out into the world. We need to ask Jesus to reveal us to Him through those we encounter during the day. So, how about it? Will you ask God to give you the eyes of Christ for just one moment? If the answer is yes, then be ready to be amazed!

Check out the video “Give Me Your Eyes.” You will have to click “Watch on Youtube” to see the video ( you may have to bear a one minute commercial as the video loads). As you watch, ask God to give you Christ-like eyes.

 

The Ultimate Duct Tape

Hear my prayer, O LORD; listen to my cry for mercy. In the day of trouble I will call to you, for you will answer me. Psalm 86:6-7
Transparent duct tape roll
‘What a wonderful friend we have in Jesus!”

 

 

A few months ago, my brother Max,  was getting ready for church and had lint on his suit pants.  He asked his son David for the duct tape. At first, David would not reveal where he had put the duct tape.  He went as far as to say that my brother could not borrow the duct tape with the exclamation “Dad, I have projects!” You see, David absolutely loves duct tape and sees how it helps in many projects.

Another person in my family who truly believes in duct tape is my father in law.   Jim, Sr. is truly the” Mr. Fix It” not only in the Hawkins’ family but in his church and community.  You will see many things that he has repaired by using duct tape including a pair of shoes that he uses for working outside.

Yes, duct tape has even been used in the old practical joke arena. Our son Drew once woke up on youth mission trip duct taped to his cot.  I am sure many of you have witnessed a practical joke or two with the use of duct tape.  Along with being used in many a practical joke, it has also been used in the fashion world. Jim has a cousin who made her prom dress out of duct tape.

Although  duct tape is the  most used tool to fix virtually anything around the house, do you realize as a Christian that you have access to the ultimate tool that can fix anything?  When we have a broken heart, we can go to God in prayer and He can heal that broken heart.  Sometimes relationships are broken for one reason or another but by giving God that relationship through prayer, He can repair the relationship.  God may not put the relationship back to what it totally once was but He can place healing in place of the hurt and forgiveness in the heart.  There are other things in our lives that may become broken like loss of job, financial difficulty, and loss of loved one. Yet, by kneeling on our knees in prayer, turning it all over to God, He will make the repairs in the heart. He makes these repairs with His love, grace and by giving us the wisdom that we need in the given situation.

Is there something broken at home? Is your child having difficulty at school? Are you dealing with a broken heart? Maybe there are challenges at work and you need wisdom. Put your broken heart into God’s hands and allow Him to make the much-needed repairs. We are God’s projects.  He is our ultimate “Mr. Fix It” using the ultimate duct tape which is His love and care for us.

Angel At The Post Office

A feather of chicken taken from photograph stu...
God reminds us of His presence.

My Papa Jack was a quiet and frail little man. In the ten years that I knew him, I grew to be very close to him.  As a result of having emphysema, he struggled to breathe on a daily basis.  However, no matter how he felt, Papa always dressed in his Sunday best.  Along with his Sunday best attire, he always wore a hat to compliment his outfit when going out and about.  Anytime I came to visit Papa, he would always give me a quarter on my departure home.

My grandmother joined Papa when I was about twenty-five and a mom of a two-year old. One day in the midst of my grief,  my two-year old son Drew and I made a trip to the Post Office. As we were finishing up with our business, a small frail man dressed in his Sunday best with a hat to compliment the attire, came over to Drew and me.  He bent over and spoke to Drew with the words “you’re a fine young man.”  As he spoke these words to Drew, he gave Drew a quarter.  Then, as I glanced down to tell Drew to tell the man thank you, this gentleman dressed in his Sunday best had disappeared.  I looked all over the Post Office lobby and the parking lot hoping to see him but he was no where in sight.

God sent Drew and I an angel that day.  With this angel, God sent Drew and I a smile from heaven and a simple reminder that He was watching and still is watching over us.  To this day, when I reflect on that day almost twenty-two years ago, I still feel joy in my heart and a warm reminder that God is watching over me.

As you begin your week, be attentive. You may just experience a little smile from heaven that will fill your heart with joy at that moment and in the days to come.  Just as God has His eye on the tiny sparrow, He is also watching over you.

“You fill me with joy in your presence.” Psalm 16:11

Blessings-

Who Are You?

Circle-question

Who Are You?

Who are you? Who or what defines who you are?  Our society attempts to influence us by telling us that we are nobody if we don’t own certain products, live certain places or vacation at certain resorts. We are also defined by our occupations at times.  At some time or the other we all struggle over who we are, what we do and how do we look to other people.

As I write this, I reflect on my own personal struggles of identifying who I am in this big world God created.  Until recently, the perfectionist in me worried about what others thought about me and how I presented myself to someone.  You see, I was trying to find my self value in what I had, what I did, and what others thought of me.

Then, through bible study, reading authors like Beth Moore, Joyce Meyer, Andy Andrews, participating in small groups and through  prayer, I realized that who I am, what I do and how I  am valued is not placed on me by what I do or have in this world. But, my value comes from my relationship with Christ.  When I put on Christ, I know my true purpose, I know that I am valued, loved and accepted not just by my family and friends but by God.  It is through Christ, I know who I am! Thus, when you see my profile on Twitter or my biography on Facebook, you will see that I have put Child of God and Daughter of the King!

After grasping this concept that I matter most to God, my heart began to smile more and I began to see more of the hearts of other people instead of what they do, what they have or don’t have. Today, when I meet someone for the first time or someone I have known for quite a while, I simply see another Child of God and  a Son/Daughter of the King.  

My challenge for you is to reflect on who you are and to realize that you are a Son/Daughter of the King! Then, as you encounter people through the day and week, let them know that they are a valued Child of God!

Now, when people ask “Who are you?” My reply is “I am a Child of God and Daughter of the King.”  1Peter 2:9 sums it up quite well; ” But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.” Wow! How is that for value?

Blessings

 

 

“YES!!”

Zacchaeus being called down from the tree. Fro...

"Zacchaeus, come down immediately. I must come to your house to today." Luke 19:6

The Sunday after Christmas, Jim and I worshiped with his family in his home church.  As the moment arrived in the service for the children to come to the altar to have time with the pastor, the minister asked the kids what did they do or have special during the holidays. One of the young boys stated that he and his family had steak and eggs for Christmas breakfast. The minister responded by saying “I’m coming to your house next Saturday for breakfast!” “YES” exclaimed the little boy.  He was excited just at the mention of the pastor coming to his house. However, I am sure the mom of this sweet little boy was gradually sinking in her pew.

As Jesus entered Jericho, a short little man named Zacchaeus was anxious to see Jesus. However, there were so many people gathering that he was having great difficulty seeing over the crowd. As the story is told, Zacchaeus climb up  a tree  just to see Jesus.  Yet, as Zacchaeus sat in the tree anxiously anticipating just a simple view of Jesus,  Jesus approached Zacchaeus and told him to come down out of the tree.  Zacchaeus did as he was instructed and then heard the simple words ” I must stay at you house.” Knowing how anxious Zacchaeus was to see Jesus, I am sure that when he heard Jesus speak those words he responded with a “YES!”

If Jesus were to approach us today and say that He was coming to our house, how would we respond? Would we respond with  “YES!” as the little boy did in the worship service and as Zacchaeus received Jesus in his home. Or, would we gradually start sinking and think to ourselves, “the beds aren’t made”, “I don’t have a thing to cook,” or the biggest thought of all “I am not worthy of His visit.”

 Zacchaeus was not a popular man. He was a tax collector. Of all the people for Jesus to single out, He called out Zacchaeus and said He was coming to see him no matter  Zacchaeus’ condition at  home and in his  heart.  Once Jesus left, Zacchaeus was a changed man. He no longer cheated people and he helped with the poor. He learned humility and unconditional love for others  from the Master.

Today, we have the opportunity to invite Christ into our home.  We invite Him to our home through our devotional time and prayer time. But, devotional and prayer time is not the only way we invite Christ to our home. He says He is coming to our house everytime our door bell rings.  It is through our receiving others into our home that we are receiving Christ. It is through the fellowship of these unplanned visitors that we are changed and we have the opportunity to practice the humility, hospitality and unconditonal love that Christ came to demonstrate to us.  Thus, the next time you get that  phone call or the door bell rings when you weren’t planning to receive guest, how will you respond? Will you say “oh no!” or will it be a “YES!”? 

I encourage you to read Luke 19:1-10 in the days ahead. Remember the words of Christ; “I am coming to your house.”  “YES!”

Blessings

{Click my picture on Let’s Get Acquainted -just added more pics to the album!}

Reality

8 cameras wait

True Reality

It is Saturday afternoon and as I channel surf, I see nothing but reality shows.  It amazes me how much we are all guilty ( myself included) of wanting to see what other people are doing and how they live. But, somehow, we all can’t help but sit and stare at what some I call train wrecks!  Then, as we sit and watch these train wrecks, we become desensitized to what they are doing and the language.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I don’t think all reality television are all train wrecks. There are some out there that do have a positive message and make positive changes for others and their lives. Some  examples of positive reality shows are Undercover Boss, Extreme Home Makeover, and Clean House.  There are a few more out there that I have missed and will see and be reminded of  as I channel surf once again later in the day or week.

Although we are hooked on reality television, are we really seeing what is truly real?  If we truly want to be real, we need to turn our attention away from these television shows and turn our attention to Christ.  When we focus on real life in Christ, we are compassionate people, kind, and we learn true humility. Along with these characteristics we also learn what true forgiveness means and unconditional love. So many times, these train wrecks of reality television amplify the opposite. The members of the shows don’t forgive and hold grudges, and appear to be more concerned about themselves than others. It makes my heart-break when I see people unwilling to forgive and self centeredness. I think to myself “they are missing what we are truly placed here on earth for and that is to encourage and love one another.” Colossians 2:12-14 says it well; Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. This is reality living.

My challenge for you as well as myself is the next time a train wreck comes on and it has you hooked in, remember that the true reality of life  is with Christ.  In John 14:6, we are reminded by Jesus himself that ‘I am the way, the truth, and life.  No one comes to the Father except through me.”  Thus, the reality shows may try to influence us and attempt to desensitize us. But, when  we hold tight to what John 14:6 tells us along with ALL  the bible tells us, then we know the true reality of life. Now, that is REALITY!

 

I Win!

Picture of a Spalding Basketball
“Consider it pure joy my brothers, whenever you face many trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance.” James 1

As  I write, University of Georgia is playing against University of Kentucky in basketball. Now, one would think that when a Georgia Girl is married to a Kentucky Boy, the house would be divided on such a game day. Yet, over the years,  I have learned to take this challenge in stride. In my closet I have a Georgia sweatshirt and an UK shirt.  I am ready to wear my colors for either opponent. Although, during the game time, I may lean toward the red and black just a little. But, when the time clock buzzes indicating the end of the game and the players shake hands, I win either way!

My dad shared a story about winning a little over a year ago. He had a parishioner who had cancer and had gone into remission and was doing well.  Then, one day, the cancer came back and as this parishioner learned of this news, he shared with Dad “no matter what I win.” “If I am cured from the disease, I win.” If my time comes to pass on to the Kingdom of God, I win.” What an awesome attitude and outlook on the big picture of life.

Sometimes, we are dealt hands in life that we don’t think we can win but in  God’s eyes He sees us as already winners. For some, it may be a terminal illness, some loss of job, or life transitions and challenges. Yet, no matter the situation that has come to us in life, we have already won no matter the outcome. Being a child of God already makes us a winner.  The win is as believers, we will receive the crown of life that we have been promised by our Heavenly Father. James 1:12 says it well; Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to ALL those who love Him.

Right now, there may be a challenge put before you. You do not know what you are going to do and how you are going to handle it all. I encourage you to count your blessings everyday, remember He is with you ALL the way and you have already won!

Regarding University of Kentucky vs. University of Georgia it looks like the Georgia sweatshirtwill be coming out of the closet to wear.  You see, no matter what, I WON!!

As you go through your week ahead, I encourage you to go back and read James 1:1-18. 

Blessings-

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