Reclaim Compassion: Put “Thanks” Back into Thanksgiving

Reclaim Compassion

Yesterday I opened my mail and discovered three invitations to give money to an organization which feeds the hungry.  Sadly, I threw all of them away.  I wondered if my compassion was turning to cynicism because I just can’t keep up with the constant demands for my finances, time and attention

I began to think about the challenge of raising compassionate children and grandchildren in our globally connected world.

I realize that with near immediate access to the crisis’ around the world, our hearts and pocketbook can become compassion weary.

I’d like to share one practical tool that we used as a family to help our children develop the deep roots of the compassion and generosity.  It follows the 3 step learning process:

  1. Exposure--build awareness
  2. Experience:  create an opportunity to go beyond head knowledge into an experience that is memorable, challenging and character building.
  3. Action:  do something that comes as a natural result of the exposure and experience.

Our Practical Tool for Thanksgiving

Reclaim Compassion

The Rice dinner!

  • The idea is to build awareness and compassion for the over 1/3 of the world who goes to bed hungry each night.  
  • The night before Thanksgiving, our dinner consists of a small bowl of rice and green tea.
  • We also choose an impoverished country to research and report upon, increasing our awareness and compassion for the people groups within that nation. *
  • At the end of the reports, we choose a country and make a donation to a charitable organization that operates within it.

It’s so simple but it makes a difference in developing compassion and character in our children–a very valuable part of raising globally minded citizens!

*If your children are too young to do the research, it’s helpful to have the research already done for several countries and pass them out for each person to read, or even to go through each one all together.

Reclaim CompassionExpanding the Ripple Effect:

We liked to include other people in our Thanksgiving Eve Tradition:

Sometimes we invited our neighbors to participate with us.  A couple of times the children worked together to do a food drive and then collected the food neighbors brought in as they walked in the door.  We went together to the food bank to deliver the food as well as give several hours of our time to help stock the shelves.

At times we invited our community group to participate with us.  Everyone chose a country when they walked in the door.  They sat together for dinner (on the floor, of course!), as they researched their country.  After the delicious dinner, each country group gave their report.  After each country had been highlighted, we took suggestions for a way to give back and took up a donation to give to an organization making a difference in that country!

Occasionally, I invited the church I was serving to participate.  We followed the same process as for the community group, but we didn’t have any idea how many people would attend.  The cooks naturally worried about having enough food, but I assured them that whatever we had would be adequate.  Well, a couple of time we ran out of food and some of the attendees went without rice, or others shared their small bowl, making it even lighter.  Another great learning. . . how often does this happen in the real world?

I am sure you can come up with even better ideas, but the big idea is to this:  DO SOMETHING!  

A great idea that is not implemented remains just that:  a great idea.  But, an average idea that is acted upon can become a diamond in the rough, or a canvass transformed into a beautiful picture.

How are you going to Reclaim the Holidays this year?

Take a step towards reclaiming the experience God designed for you…and experience the joy of Compassion Reclaimed.

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Paris Attack:  Who is the Real Enemy?

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Bill and I were just pulling into a parking spot to see the movie, “The Martian,” when our daughter called with the news that Paris had just been attacked in several different locations.  After we watched the engaging movie, we hurried home to turn on the news and find out the distressing information that Parisians had been violated through attacks on restaurants, a concert hall, soccer stadium, and nightclub.

In other words, Parisians were attacked where they “do life together” as they gather to relax and to have fun..  

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Sunday, after guest preaching at a church, Bill and I arrived home to the news that French President, Francois Hollande, had declared war on ISIS and to make it clear — dropped 20 bombs in Syria.

 

I have a few of the questions with which I’ve been wrestling.  I’d love to hear your ideas as we process as across the miles.

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Why has the Paris attack shaken us up so much more than the near daily bombings and attacks happening across the Middle East?  

Is it because France is an ally?  

Is it because France is considered part of the Western world?  

Is it because the French have a lifestyle much closer to Americans than those in the Middle East?

As much as we mourn for France and feel angered by their violation, I think it is important to acknowledge that much of our world goes about their daily life under the constant reality that a suicide bomb could go off at any moment as they shop the market, attend a wedding, or gather to worship in church.

Safety shouldn’t be a luxury,

          but it seems that in much of the world, it is becoming one.

 

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I have another question.

  Do we actually know know who our true enemy is?  

One day it is the Taliban, then al-Qaida, and the next it is ISIS.  Syria has made the answer to that question really complicated.  I just listened to a news program as they sought to give clarity about who was joining together and who they were fighting.  It didn’t even seem like the newscaster really knew the answer.

We are at a point in history where kingdom people don’t have the luxury to forget who our true enemy is…..Scripture tells us that it isn’t anyone who is flesh and blood.  

  • It isn’t terrorists who are recruiting impressionable young men to join them so they can later convince them to blow themselves up with a suicide vest.
  • It isn’t Bashar al-Assad, leader of Syria, who has currently annihilated and displaced a great number of his country’s population.
  • It isn’t Vladimir Putin who is suddenly making the cold war with Russia feel warm.
  • It isn’t Donald Trump who these days seems to want to make an enemy of anyone who crosses his path!

Our true enemy is the same one that stole safety from Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden.

Our true enemy is the same one who convinced Haman in the book of Esther to write a decree to annihilate the whole Jewish population in Persia.

Our true enemy is the same one who convinces people to use children as sexual objects, and who kidnaps children to become child soldiers, who sells drugs to innocent teens creating addiction, convinces husbands to leave their wives and abandon their families.

Our true enemy is the devil.  images-6

When we forget this, we put ourselves in peril.

And, here is the first good news of this entire blog.  We are NOT at HIS MERCY.

**He is at OUR mercy.**

Jesus not only came to save us for eternal salvation.  He came to train us how to partner with him to defeat darkness, the devil and death.

He came to show us how to defeat the Goliath Giants in our personal lives as well as our community.

I love the story of David facing the Giant Goliath.images-1

David was young, just a teen, when he boldly went to face the man that made the rest of the army quake in fear.  He didn’t let the scepticism of his brothers, the doubts of King Saul, or the taunts of the giant shut him down in fear.

He took his simple tools:  the slingshot and five smooth stones, carefully picked to hit Goliath in his only vulnerable area:  his forehead.

He came out as Goliath taunted: “Am I a dog that you come to me with a stick? Come over here and I will give your flesh to the birds and wild animals.”

images-2David was undeterred.  He stood up and called out, “You come to me with sword, spear and javelin, but I come to you in the name of the Lord of Heaven’s armies–the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied.  Today the Lord will conquer you, and I will kill you and cut off your head.  Then everyone will know that the Lord rescues his people, but not with sword and spear.  This is the Lord’s battle and he will give you to us!”

David’s example is here to teach us how to specifically respond in times just like we are in today, after the Paris terrorist attacks.

David had simple tools but they were just what he needed to hit his enemy in his vulnerable spot:

We have heavenly tools that are simple to implement but have the capacity to cut off our enemies’ head.

David made a faith statement.Unknown-2

We have a choice to speak out in FEAR or in FAITH.  

Fear opens the door of HELL to our mutual enemy, but FAITH opens the door of HEAVEN to our victorious King.

David knew he wasn’t alone on the battlefield.  

He was just the only one present on earth. He knew that his God had battalion after battalion of angels who were fighting in heaven.  David knew that God never loses the battle when he brings his faith to partner with God’s power.

Here’s my encouragement:

  Let’s be people of Issachar who know the times and understand what to do.

  Let’s get really clear about the source of our true enemy.

  Let’s decide together not to allow fear statements to come out of our mouth.  

  Let’s speak out words of faith in God’s ability to cut the head off our true enemy.

I invite you to pray this prayer with me out loud as you make a faith proclamation that puts the giants in the world on notice:

Accepting the scepter

Accepting the scepter

 KIng Jesus, I thank you that on the day our enemy thought he had defeated you, you surprised him by resurrecting from the dead and releasing your Holy Spirit to all who follow you.

I acknowledge that you have authority over every ruler, power, government, and dominion in this age and in the age to come (Ephesians 1:19-23), and that includes every terrorist on earth, as well as our mutual enemy in hell.

 I thank you that you have given me the authority of your name and the power of Holy Spirit to partner with you to defeat the giants in my own life, family, community,  and in the world.

Give me the supernatural ability to defeat fear by staying close to you and committed to speaking out words of faith that are smooth stones to hit our enemy on the head, leading to his full defeat.  Amen!

I would love to hear about your journey as together we spur one another on to walk in faith and to be the light and witness that Jesus created in us!





My Secret Weapon to Survive the Holidays!

 

Seeking the Christmas Lamb

Seeking the Christmas Lamb

We sat together at the table during Advent,, reading the Seeking the Christmas Lamb and Bible passages by flashlight, experiencing the glow of the candles on our faces, sharing our thoughts and hearts, engaging the activities to solidify the written words.  

   Traditional Advent Wreath

Traditional Advent Wreath

Advent, the 28 days leading up to Christmas, became one of our most meaningful times of engagement as a family.  It is also one of the best memories all our daughter’s point to from  their childhoods.

Seeking the Christmas Lamb came from I dream I held deep in my heart.  I wanted to see our beautiful children know how deeply they were loved by the God who created them.

I longed for our family to connect in a deeper level than the day to day busyness and stress that comes with greater pressure and responsibility during the holidays.

I wanted to create memorable moments together that would impact our kids, establishing traditions they could even do with their own families one day.

I also dreamed of our daughters knowing the bigger story of the Bible and desire to “know” Scripture so it spoke to and guided them in their everyday life!

Finally, I dreamed of our family experiencing gift of “The Christmas Lamb~” Jesus, being willing to leave the comfort of heaven to come into our world to ultimately lay down his life for ours.

My dream impacted our family.

God gave Seeking the Christmas Lamb to our family as a gift.  One day I just sat down and started looking up Scriptures that mentioned a lamb or sacrifice and before I knew it, I had enough Scriptures for the whole 28 days of Advent to tell the story of the Christmas Lamb!

We began to use these Scriptures as our advent readings.

I made up fun activities for our children to do in response to them.

I developed some questions we would explore together

I incorporated the flashlight into our advent experience so that it created a bit of mystery and fun!

The Advent tradition became key for our family in lingering for a longer period over dinner, beginning to talk about deeper things rather than our everyday conversation, and gave us fresh breath to move through the rest of our crazy lives with three young children.

I was content to continue to use my advent notes to support our family’s faith development, but it seems the Lord had other plans.

One day,  I was approached by a friend who worked at NavPress who asked me to submit one of my writings.  I began to take my notes and develop them into a presentation that looked like a book.

I literally mailed my draft of Seeking the Christmas Lamb on the way to the airport for an extended family vacation, knowing that when we returned we were most likely going to announce our move from Denver to Seattle, and life would become really CRAZY!

Life did turn upside down as we made our plans to move. I forgot all about the book submission, that is until NavPress let me know they had decided to publish Seeking the Christmas Lamb!

This is what it looked like when it arrived one wintery day in 2003:

Seeking the Christmas Lamb--1st Edition

Seeking the Christmas Lamb–1st Edition

Last year I got a letter from NavPress saying they had been sold and they were releasing the rights of the book back to me.  

My wonderful friend, Anne Thompson, creator of ebookannie.com, had the idea to redo Seeking the Christmas Lamb so as she described, “It had the clothes to fit the impactful content within it!”

I was wrestling with the decision because I had sentimental value with it being my first published book, but as I thought about the opportunity to share this message that changes lives in a simple format that engages every generation, I decided to make the leap to a complete redesign of Seeking the Christmas Lamb.

One of my greatest passions is to equip people with resources that are transformational, rather than just informational, so we can live what God invited us to experience!

So, Brenda Emmert, who has partnered with her husband, Drew,  to design the “You were Meant for More” book series happily accepted the role of giving Seeking the Christmas Lamb a new look!  You were Meant for More Book Series!

You were Meant for More Book Series!

 As we dreamed together for what could be, she began to see images, one for each week of Advent and Epiphany that would mark the chapters and watermark each page.

As we envisioned the cover, I knew that red was the right color because it signifies Christmas, but even more the precious gift  Jesus the Christmas Lamb came to give us, his blood which covers everything and sets us free!

Some of you may be asking what makes Seeking the Christmas Lamb unique?  

These are some of the comments made by others to describe it:

A perfect guide to replace holiday stress with intentional conversation and meaningful memories.

Engaging content which includes activities for children, reflection questions for families, individuals and groups.

Beautifully designed, with different icons for each week, and color throughout, making it visually appealing.

Each daily reading has room for notes and drawings: making the book a Family Christmas Treasure year after year.

Don’t know what to buy for your Christmas list? Seeking the Christmas Lamb is a special gift for even the hardest one to please!​

So, let me ask you:

  • What are your dreams for your family?
  • Where do you feel stressed or disappointed about your family interaction?
  • Where do you long to go deeper with Scripture and your faith but feel unequipped to do it?

Seeking the Christmas Lamb has been developed with you in mind.  

It’s a simple process that leads us into profound experiences with God.

A treasure to keep for every Advent experience!

Seeking the Christmas Lamb: A Family Advent Handbook

Advent starts Sunday, November 28th….will you invest in the investment God deposited in you and Reclaim the Christmas you were created to experience?

Check out Seeking the Christmas Lamb

 

 

 

 

 

We also have a FREE GIFT for you:  a set of Christmas ornaments designed to accompany Seeking the Christmas Lamb

Special Offer:  Free Christmas Ornaments to Match the Icons in Seeking the Christmas Lamb

Special Offer: Free Christmas Ornaments to Match the Icons in Seeking the Christmas Lamb

The Mystery of September!

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Yesterday the man I was meeting with said, It’s hard to be motivated when the end of the world is coming in two weeks!”

I think he was being facetious but if he wasn’t,  he would only be one of many who are spending hours observing the signs, watching the multitude of YouTube videos and discussing what may be coming upon us in what I am calling “The September Mystery.”

I read Jonathan Cohn’s two books, The Harbinger and The Mystery of the Shemitah several months ago.  I finished The Mystery of the Shemitah while I was in England visiting our daughter and without the distractions of my regular life, I was able to spend some good amount of time praying and reflecting on the message.  I asked my husband, Bill, to read them too when I got home.  We were struck enough with the message that we decided to take some financial action. 

4 Blood Moons 2014-2015

I’ve also gotten up in the middle of the night for all the Blood Moons.  Each time I stood there and watched the moon’s turn red, I had a sense that I was joining a multitude of other people who are choosing to watch the signs in the sky.  We were in Hawaii for the last one–and while I laid in the grass for the short 7 minutes, I realized that it was not just Good Friday, but it was also, Passover.  I wondered how long it had been since a Blood Moon had taken place on both Good Friday and Passover–if ever.  

Unknown-2And I will cause wonders in the heavens and on the earth— blood and fire and columns of smoke.  The sun will become dark, and the moon will turn blood  before that great and terrible day of the Lord arrives.  Joel 2:30-31

 

We left Hawaii on Easter (I know, sad way to spend Easter on the airplane).  Before our flight took off, the pilot came out and asked if anyone had experienced the earthquake that took place at dawn that morning!  I thought that was so interesting….as that would have been the time of Jesus’ resurrection on the original Easter!

Even without the prophetic books and the signs in the sky, I find there’s enough about this season of history to want to be wide awake, watching and prayerful.  

This morning I read an excellent editorial by Thomas Friedman where he explored the challenges of national borders in Walls, Borders, a Dome and Refugees.  

He states that the three largest forces on earth:  “Mother Nature (climate change, biodiversity loss and population growth in developing countries), Moore’s Law (the steady doubling in the power of microchips and technology), and the Market (globalization tying the world every more tightly together)–are all in simultaneous, rapid acceleration.”

He’s right.  Never before in history have we been so connected to the whole world.  What happens in a country one day can reverberating effects around the world, just as we say in Hungry last week.

Friedman goes onto explore governments:

“Historically we’ve counted on empires like the Ottomans, colonial power, and autocratic strongmen, such as kings and colonels, to hold artificial states together and provide order in these regions.  But we’re now in a post-imperial, post-colonial, and soon, I believe, post-authoritarian world, in which no one will be able to control these disorderly religions with an iron fist while the rest of the world goes on about its business.”

So, here’s the big question, “Are we in the last days?

images-2I don’t know.  Jesus told us that even the angels in heaven don’t know the timing, but we are to be like the 10 virgins, ready to welcome and celebrate the arrival of the bridegroom.

I am always hesitant to declare that we are entering into the last days, because we all know enough history to understand that wars, natural disasters and massive oppression of people groups has been happening since the beginning of time.

Here’s what I do know with certainty.

We need deeper faith root systems than we’ve ever had before.  

The challenges of 24/7 technological connections can continually keep us distracted.  Our global world, along with technology, keeps us updated on all every crisis, keeping our adrenaline pumping, exhausting our spirits and bodies.   Quite often our support systems have dwindled as we move away from extended family and our own families become fragmented.  

Okay, enough exploration of the challenges, the real questions are:

 “What are we supposed to do?

How are we to navigate this point in history, and even more specifically, the mystery of September?”

I’ve chosen to stake my life on the Power of the P’s!

Stake my Life on the Power of the P's

    • Prayerfully~ Prayer, along with worship, lifts me up above the noise, the distractions and the chaos of life, into a place where I can experience God’s heartbeat and hear his thoughts–through Scripture and His Spirit living in me.
    • Preparation~We are preparing our home and supplies for the possibility of an extended power lapse so we have the basic necessities.   I am also gathering enough to share with my neighbor, should they have a need.
    • Promises~ I am choosing to focus more of my time and attention on Jesus’ promises than the fear producing alternatives swirling around the atmosphere.
    • Power~We aren’t in a time of status quo with God.  He is releasing his power in much greater measure as we “seek first his kingdom.”  Miracles are becoming everyday occurrences!
    • Presence~We are not alone, the Holy Spirit lives in us.  

 Here’s the good news about this season:  Jesus tells us over and over, “Do not fear!”  Every angel that visited people in Scripture immediately said, “Don’t be afraid.”

images-3We, who are kingdom people, have something spectacular to offer the world.  

We can take it out of the tight religious boxes that our faith has been held in, and offer it to the desperate people around us.

But, in order to do that, we need to be reclaimed people who shine with Christ’s light, walking in his zoe resurrection power, and filled with his overwhelming, unconditional love.  Yes, that means let’s love everyone–even if they hold a different theological view or live a different lifestyle or are in a different ethnic and economic realm. Even if they are our enemies.

Because in God’s Kingdom, everyone gets to play!

Christianity took hold in the first century because Jesus followers took loving people seriously.

 They reached beyond themselves to serve–even when it cost them their lives.  During the plagues of the Dark Ages when a significant percentage of the population died, it was the Christians who took care of the sick.  Everyone else had run away in fear.

  • Are you ready to be the ones who serves in the midst of a crisis, chaos and the possible challenges of the fall out from this September?
  • Are you thinking beyond yourself and family to how you can be a light shining on a hill for the world to see?
  • Are you listening to God more than you listen to the voices on the internet or the people around you?
  • Are you choosing to be in faith rather than fear?

My prayer for all of us is that we will rise up in faith and courage, no matter what this season will bring.  May it be so!

PS.  I’d love to hear from you if and how you are interpreting the mystery of September, and what choices you are making to be prepared for the season!

 

l

 

Getting Free from Shame ~ Interview with Dr. Rob Jackson

Getting Free from Shame:  the Biggest Lifestealer of All

Dr Robert Jackson, Founder and CEO of Back Talk Systems, Inc.

Dr Robert Jackson, Founder and CEO of Back Talk Systems, Inc.

Do you desire to see any of these take place in your life?

If so, keep reading as Dr. Rob Jackson, just experienced breakthrough in each of these valuable, life-giving areas, and he wants you to know about how it take place for you:

My body is healing.  

My relationships are thriving; especially my marriage.  

My businesses are healthier and growing, and our bottom line profitability is increasing.

My spiritual life is opening up in a deeper way.

 

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Dr. Rob Jackson in our Vineyard and Rose Garden

Interview with Dr. Rob Jackson:  Applewood Chiropractic Health Center for 33 years, as well asOwner and CEO of Backtalk Systems, http://www.backtalksystems.com.

 

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Rob and Martha visiting us in our home

 

 

 

Rob is married to Martha Rust Jackson, a wonderful woman I met on an airplane! Powerhouse-Ministries.com

I became her Seminary Mentor at Denver Seminary, and she has become a dear friend and ministry partner.

 

 

Tamara:  Thank you, Rob, for your willingness to do this interview.

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Rob and I sharing a moment of celebrating his freedom from the prison of shame!

Your insight as a professional and in your personal story regarding how shame can significantly impact our physical bodies is eye opening.

My hope is that through our interview, we will help people to establish a “shame-free zone” in their lives and bodies!

 

Tamara: Describe how your childhood was impacted by shame:

Rob:  My dad was a tough disciplinarian, because with three boys out on a farm there was no other choice. We raised poultry and livestock, which depend on the people who take care of them to survive. If I didn’t follow through with my role to take care of their food and watering needs they could suffer or die. If and when that happened my dad would discipline me and that would lead to me feeling “ashamed” of my failures.

By the time I reached high school, I began to overcome that and experienced a measure of success in sports.  Pride began to take over and live where shame had been dwelling .As a result I began to take pride in the wrong values and I made some poor personal choices in life that had a direct impact on my health and ultimately my future. Physical and athletic success compounded by pride led me to search for opportunities of immediate gratification, which then carried me down a very dark path.

Ultimately shame started taking over again. I began to feel like such a hypocrite that I developed a whole persona to protect myself. This burden of living with two identities almost crushed me. When a person is stuck In the middle of a situation like this where shame looms on every horizon, many times you just can’t or don’t see a way out. That’s what happened to me.

Tamara:  Rob, I know you had a pretty devastating event take place at age 17.  Do you feel comfortable sharing it with us?

I played high school varsity baseball at the time. We were playing a game and there was a base runner on second base when the batter hit the ball out into center field. As the first baseman it was my job to go to the pitcher’s mound and be the “cut-off” person for the throw coming in from center field. My catcher was in charge of telling me what to do with the cut-off throw, which was either to let the throw come through to home plate to try and stop the runner from scoring, cut-off the throw and then relay the throw home and attempt to catch the runner trying to score, or cut-off the throw and relay the ball to the second baseman if the hitter was trying to stretch his hit from a single into a double.

I heard my catcher tell me to “cut two, cut two, which meant that the original runner was already going to score at home safely, so I should cut-off the throw from the outfield coming in and relay to the second baseman where I had a chance to get the hitter out if the throw got there in time to tag him out.

The ball hit a rock when it landed in front of me and took a bad hop which means it bounced funny, hitting me in the chest instead of my glove, so when I was able to secure the ball I immediately looked at my second baseman who was poised, covering the base and waiting for my throw. It looked to me like I had an easy out as the hitter was slow and only about half way to the base at that moment.

I reared back and threw the ball as hard as I could to the second baseman and was astonished when the ball came back and hit me in the chest and fell to the ground in front of me. By the time I picked the ball up and looked up to see what had happened, the runner had made it to second base, but in front of me was the field umpire, laying on the ground on his back.

He had been squatting down looking at the outfield as the throw came in and started to stand up right when I threw the ball to the second baseman. He never made it into my line of sight and the ball hit him in the back of his head, caving in part of his skull.

The coaches and trainers all came running out to try and help him and were able to revive him with some smelling salts for a moment, but an ambulance came and took him away moments later and I was told the next day that he died from his injuries.

Needless to say, I was devastated!

The guilt and shame was immobilizing.

Resources didn’t exist to help with PTSD at that time, so I just pushed all my emotions inward.  My friends and teammates didn’t know what to say and it made them all uncomfortable too, so like most high school kids they started to tease me instead.  Everywhere I went, people made fun of me saying, “Cut ump” which meant for me to cut-off the throw and then throw the ball to or at the umpire. Needless to say, it wasn’t funny and only made things worse for me.

My family didn’t know how to deal with the awkwardness either, so we avoided it and just didn’t talk about it.

I found myself alone in the shame, and it began to wreak havoc in every area of my life, especially in my physical body.

One thing I’ve discovered in my journey is that many times shame comes as a result of things done to us, not always choices we’ve made.

Either way, the results can be just as devastating.

Tamara:  Tell me how the shame from your traumatic event affected your body.

Rob: By age 19, I was at the pinnacle of fitness.

 I was 6’6, 195 lbs of muscle, playing college basketball on scholarship, strong and athletic, and way too proud of it.  Then, all of the sudden–over the course of a year–I realized I was not as fast or strong as I had been.  I was chronically thirsty all the time, so I started drinking a ton of fluids, up to 6 gallons a day. I began to urinate every 15 minutes, lost weight, had horrible muscle cramps and became gaunt as I dropped down to 154 lbs. I began to look like a skeleton wearing skin.

The low point for me was when my team was playing in a New Year’s tournament down in Texas and I was stuck in the hospital back home in Colorado trying to figure out what was wrong. I actually saw my teammates on Television at the Cotton Bowl game, Instead of being with them,  I was all alone in a hospital bed, getting tests which eventually revealed that I had developed Type 1 Sugar Diabetes.

My parents couldn’t be present with me because the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays were their busiest time of year. When you raise poultry, most of your income comes through your customers buying turkeys for their Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners. Our family worked 22 hours a day during the holidays trying to get everything done to make a living.

In my solitude, I had a lot of time for self-reflection, but because I didn’t understand, identify or talk about the shame I was experiencing, it created a greater opportunity for these negative emotions to create a “vise-grip” over the health of my entire body

Tamara: Tell me more about the effects of diabetes on the medical side:

Rob:  Back in the 70’s diabetic management was not very advanced. Once diabetes takes over nothing good happens!

One of the primary symptoms is that it breaks down muscle tissue.  I went from a lean 195 lbs of muscle, down to a scrawny 154 lbs in a matter of 45 days.  Diabetic nerve pain sensations increased, creating painful extremities.  My kidneys started malfunctioning spilling protein into my urine instead of being able to use it to make new muscle tissue, and I developed neuropathy in my feet.

The most common side effect of diabetes over time is a lot of permanent damage to every tissue, organ and system in your body and ultimately leads to a premature death.

Tamara:  Describe how shame affected your relationship with your first wife and daughters.

Rob: Since I went into my first marriage as a doctor with the knowledge of what happens to most diabetics, I worked extra hard to try and provide everything that I could, as soon as I could, so in case something might happen to me my family would be well cared for.

I had 4 jobs with 4 different companies that I had started and I was working all the time and was never home. I basically abandoned them while trying to provide for them at the same time. This just led to a disaster in my first marriage and that ended in divorce in 2003.

Tamara:  Tell me what changed when you married Martha:

Rob: Right away when I met Martha I began to feel safe for the first time in years and as a result of the defense mechanisms that I had developed over years, my internal challenges related to hypocrisy began to rise up again.

Martha is a woman who is serious about the power of prayer and through her efforts I began to feel convicted, God was poking at my heart, urging me to trust him.  He began to “peel back the layers of the onion” in my emotions and eventually it all came to a head.

I knew that you had helped Martha get free from chronic migraines in ways that as her physician I was unable to do and that your and her prayers for healing were powerful.  Martha and I talked about it together and decided to approach you and asked if you would pray for me.

When I told you the story of killing the umpire and the devastating choices I made following his death, I actually experienced what James 5:14-16 describes:

“Are you sick? Call the church leaders together to pray and anoint you with oil in the name of the Master. Believing-prayer will heal you, and Jesus will put you on your feet. And if you’ve sinned, you’ll be forgiven—healed inside and out.

Make this your common practice: Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you can live together whole and healed. The prayer of a person living right with God is something powerful to be reckoned with.”

Even though we connected over skype, my confession to you where I brought my sins to the light, followed by your grace towards me and your prayers for healing, broke the power of shame over me.  

I began to realize that I had suffered for 38 years with diabetes, but to even a greater extent, the disease of shame.

Shame was the entry point which opened the door for diabetes to take hold of my body, which then made my daily life a challenge, impacted all my relationships and made my professional practice exhausting.

Tamara:  I love your story of confession because I see that you are now living whole and healed as James describes.  Can you tell us more about your life today?

Rob:  I would love to!

My body is healing.  I no longer need nearly as much insulin as before. I look and feel younger, stronger, more intense and passionate.

My relationships are thriving; especially my marriage.  

My businesses are healthier and growing, and our bottom line profitability is increasing.

My spiritual life is opening up in a deeper way:  I am more centered and on track.  My desire is to come alongside emotionally injured or wounded men and women and support them in their journey to be more Christ-like, which of course, means to live in the “shame-free zone!”

Tamara:  I am thrilled to hear that breaking out of shame and into the “shame-free zone” has not just affected one area of your life, but all of them.  It’s compelling. We all want to live with healthier bodies, more fulfilling relationships and thriving vocations and businesses.  I applaud your courage in taking the step!

One more question, “What do you want to say to everyone in your closing thoughts?”

Rob:  In my experience, people have different responses to shame.

The first response is from the people who really want to get better.  They are willing to take the risks to discover what needs to be exposed to the light so they can be set free.

Another group just likes to sit in their stuff, and don’t want to change.  Some people are basically flat out exhausted and they are hurting so bad that their bodies are getting sicker and sicker. They know things need to change, but they don’t know how or where to turn.

I am here to say, “There is help available.

FinalSOOS ebook

Spun out on Shame? Reclaim Your Sanity available at www.ReclaimIdentity.org or all other book resouces sites!

Tamara’s resource, ‘Spun out on Shame? Reclaim Your Sanity’ is a great first step in getting clear about what’s happened in your life and how you can be healed.  

Her blog is also a great resource, as well as the Reclaim Identity Retreats she leads.

Check Facebook for Reclaim Identity for updates and inspiriing daily quotes.

You may even consider approaching her to set up an appointment to do some “shame-clearing” in your life like I did. That was one of the smartest and best things I have ever done. Consider it for yourself and your loved ones if you have a chance to take advantage of what she and her team have to offer. (leave a comment on www.ReclaimIdentity.org)

I also write a weekly blog that provides a free “practice or  business” tip of the week. If you have an interest you can find out more on my website at www.backtalksystems.com and sign up to follow my blog from there.

IMG_0311

Rob and Martha visiting us in our         “Slice of Heaven” house!

 

Cinderella: Fairy Tale or Reality?

I settled into my flight home from England where I had been visiting my daughter, Heather and her British husband Luke, anxious to view the movies available. I was delighted to see the Disney remake of Cinderella as one of the choices.  (Watch this powerful Cinderella movie trailer.)

SheKnewShewasmeantformore_doyouChildhood Cinderella Dreams

I’ve loved the story since I was a child.  I dreamed of being Cinderella, all dressed up for the Prince’s ball, magically transported by a pumpkin for a coach, and animals for footmen.  I daydreamed about the moment I would arrive, beautiful, mysterious, and expectant for the prince’s greeting. I heard the gasp of the crowd as the murmur went through wondering, “Who is this woman?  Where did she come from?  Who is her family?”

I envisioned myself stepping forward to greet the enchanted prince.  He took my hand and invited me to dance.  I accepted and we began to waltz across the exquisite ballroom, both our hearts beating rapidly as we reveled in the gift of finding one another.

What I liked to ignore as a child were the events leading up to the ball and the heartbreak for both Cinderella and the Prince as the bells of the clock began to strike– one, two, three, four and . . . Cinderella knew she had to flee or she would be found out in her identity as Cinder— her nickname because she slept by the fire at night, cold, alone and hungry.

Cinderella’s Faded Dreams

As an adult, I could no longer ignore the reality of Cinderella’s life because it became my reality.

I grew up with a father who loved me, however, the lies of my enemy continued to convince me that I was a poor orphan who deserved to sleep on a hard cold floor, to be ignored and taunted by those around me, and to wear old rags instead of beautiful dresses.  (Video of the Orphan Girl)

I may have looked good on the outside, but inside, my heart was dying.

My dreams of living loved and significant died a little more each day.

Being Rescued by the King

However, the ember of hope didn’t fully die out before my King came to rescue me.  He invited me to know him not just as Savior, but also as King who would revive me and take me into the palace to live as his queen.

Cinderella knew the love of her father, he adored her and she adored him.  They grieved the death of their wife and mother, filling their empty heart with love for one another.  Cinderella trusted her father to bring another mother into the home who would care for her as her own.  Her father did his best to do this, but he was tricked by his new wife.  She only had eyes for advancing her own stature and marrying her daughter’s off well. She saw Cinderella as an obstacle for both her goals.

Our Heavenly Father adores his children.  He only wants the best for us.  Unlike Cinderella’s earthly father, he is always working to bring about our best.  However, he had to honor the choice Adam and Eve made to turn away from him and to invite God’s enemy into the world.  Like Cinderella’s father, they were duped, believing that what their enemy offered them was good and would make their life more fulfilling.  Instead, their idyllic home in the garden became filled with shame and the tragedy of broken relationship:  with God and one another.  Identify your Shame Life Stealers.

Adam and Eve began to bite more and more on the lie that they were orphans, destined to wear ragged clothes and sleep on hard cold floors, because this is all they deserved.

All the while, however, their true father, the one who delighted in them, was working to bring them a King who would invite them back into the palace.

His name was Jesus.  He came to rescue all the Adam and Eve’s and Cinderella’s of the world out of their dark, dreary existence, and to take them back into the true palace where they belonged.

Colossians 1:12-13 states:

“Our hearts soar with gratitude when we think of how Father God made us worthy to receive the glorious inheritance freely given to us. This is what every holy believer is qualified to experience by living in the light.  He has rescued us completely from the tyrannical rule of darkness and has transferred us into the kingdom-realm of his Beloved Son.”  (The Passion Translation).

Our reality is that even though the liar and thief continues to try to convince me that I belong in the orphanage as one forgotten, my true status is as King Jesus’ beloved Queen.

He held a ball, inviting me to dance as our hearts beat together.  When I got scared and tried to run and hide, he came after me and found me.  He wooed me and took me home to live in his kingdom, where he continues to ask me the question, “What do you want, my Queen, up to half my Kingdom?” (Esther)

Cinderella’s True Identity

When I believed I belonged in the tyrannical rule of darkness, my glimmer of hope came from the story of Cinderella.  Even though her circumstances completely shifted after her father’s death, she never forgot her true identity as his beloved daughter.  She held on to her dreams that she was meant to live as royalty.

She knew that one day her prince would come to rescue her.

She never accepted her evil step-mother’s lies or her step-sister’s taunts that she was meant for destitution or isolation.  She continued to live as royalty, even when everyone around her made fun of her stance, even forgiving her enemies over and over.

So, this story ends at a crossroads.  My question to you is: which story will you live?

Your King awaits your answer.

Will you accept his invitation to the ball?

Will you accept the supernatural provision of a beautiful new dress purchased for you by his sacrifice?

Will you allow him to rescue you from the tyrannical rule of darkness and take you into his kingdom of light where he will spend the rest of eternity showering you with his love and devotion?

Cinderella-meant-for-moreCinderella knew her identity and that she was always meant for more.  Do you?

The King’s invitation awaits.  Will you accept?

 

The Impact of Shame on our Communities: An Interview with Kathy Escobar

Kathy Escobar and I reconnected recently at an event in Berkeley, CA at American Baptist Seminary of the West. We realized we had met over 10 years ago when we were both birthing ministries in Denver, Colorado.  Mine was called “The Journey Project” and Kathy was planting the church she currently co-pastors, The Refuge, www.therefugeonline.org.  The Refuge is a mission center and Christian community dedicated to helping hurting and hungry people find faith, hope, and dignity alongside each other.

Faith-ShiftKathy has recently written an impactful book, Faith Shift: Finding Your Way Forward when Everything You Believe is Coming Apart.  It offers hope for spiritual refugees, church burnouts, and freedom seekers.  Her book is centered on helping people journey through shifts in faith that can often leave them disoriented and lonely.

Kathy has a powerful story to share about Shame’s Shameful Impact on Community. 

Her own story, combined with The Refuge’s story, helps us to understand how devastating shame’s impact can be, both personally and corporately.

Kathy also helps us to explore just how freeing life can be when it becomes a “Shame-Free Zone!”

One of the things I love about Kathy is how freely she shares her own story, bringing hope and freedom to others who were bound by shame.

Kathy’s Story

“I grew up in a family with a lot of dysfunction.  Depression, alcoholism, divorce, and chaos created a deep longing for love.  In high school, I ended up pregnant and had an abortion.  This became a secret which then became full blown shame.  I didn’t know what to do with my feelings, so I just pushed them deeper and deeper into the dark abyss of my soul.

I ended up accepting Christ in elementary school at Vacation Bible School but didn’t begin going to church until I was a teenager.  At first, I felt very forgiven and free, but as time went on, I became increasingly bound by shame.  I kept confessing my sin to God, but I never felt fully forgiven or got relief from my secret burden.

It wasn’t until I began to tell my story to “other people” that I started to experience freedom.  Don’t get me wrong, it was terrifying.  The fear of rejection and alienation was palpable, but at that point, I was so desperate for relief, I was willing to take the risk.

I ended up going to a group for women from my church who were learning to be honest about our struggles and pain.  We all had different stories, but the thread that was common between all of us was shame.  As I took the risk to speak my “secrets” out loud, the relief wasn’t immediate, but I experienced a small window of hope that was enough to crack open the door.  Eventually I found a container big enough to fully bring it to the light so I could live in freedom!

I understand the risk in bringing our secret sins to light because we fear those who love us may abandon us when they realize how damaged we feel.  Once I shared my story with my friends, I needed to tell my husband.  This required me to walk a bridge of trust (read Tamara’s post, Crossing the Trust Bridge), and I was terrified of his reaction. Instead of shame or blame, he took me in his arms and told me he was so happy I had finally told him the truth and that the barrier between us was broken.

My move from the “shameful secret” to “friendships of freedom” took place over 21 years ago, and yet I still struggle with experiencing shame. It’s not an easy thing to shake, but has really solidified my commitment to healing groups.

The Refuge has been shaped by healing groups.  We’ve sought to become a healing community where honesty and authenticity is embedded into our DNA as a church.

As I compare the first church where I was called to our community at The Refuge, I can fully see the difference with the freedom to share “our deadly secrets” with a need to keep our secrets hidden.

It’s been apparent that healing communities will never become “mega-churches” because it is just too messy.

The challenge for all churches is to create places for God’s story to be told.

As pastors at the Refuge, we realize we need to walk the long story in creating a “Shame-Free Zone.”  We must offer a loving presence and stability.  We can’t rush healing or make the timing come through our own terms.  Our role is to create the sticky stuff so love and acceptance can stick.”

Tamara:  What are your insights in how shame affects community?

Kathy:  Shame is like a brick wall around us.  It keeps us isolated and alone, afraid to reach out in fear of “being found out.”  We begin to believe the lie that I am the only one who struggles with shame.

I notice that those who are bound by shame have a hard time looking up.  They are often resistant to receiving love because the lie that they aren’t worthy to receive love permeates their thinking.  They’ve been shamed and abandoned by people in their past, so they expect the current people around them to do the same.  It can become a self-fulfilling prophesy.

Most importantly, it is a very small leap to believe people will reject and abandon us, to believing that God will leave us.  They are often asking themselves, “Why would God desire a relationship with someone as screwed up and unworthy as me?”

Often, physical touch is challenging.  They may resist hugs.  Receiving love of any kind is challenging, so we often have to move slowly, taking our cues from each person to what they are able to accept.

But, when the door is opened just a crack, amazing breakthroughs begin to happen.  Heads begin to lift.  Backs are straightened.  Eye contact takes place.  Commitment to the healing group increases as belief is birthed that perhaps “I am not a throw away” after all.

Our Dad front coverThe fear of God being mad at them is replaced by the reality that “I can survive telling the truth” because these people aren’t running away from me.

Tamara:  Will you explore how important trust is in exchanging freedom for shame?

Kathy:  Sure, I will tell a story of a strong leader in the Christian community who came to The Refuge.  She appeared to be on the fast track to success.  Outside, she was confident, educated, well respected.  On the inside, she was full of shame, self-hatred, and loathing.  She came to the Refuge because she realized that her life as she knew it had become unsustainable.

When she began to trust that she would be accepted in her weakness, rather than shamed, trust became an anchor.  It was as if the ground came up beneath her, providing a foundation from which to live.  She became more open and less hardened.  She began to express her longing to be really loved.  She realized she had left her true self behind, and shame had helped create a false self that she believed would buy her acceptance.

As she began to trust The Refuge community, she found a family where everyone mattered.  She discovered parents, mothers, and sisters.  She also found men who were safe, kind, and who offer security.

Tamara:  It’s almost as if trust becomes the “grenade” that blows shame to pieces.  We can move from being immobilized by shame into being energized by trust. 

Do you have any closing thoughts?

Kathy:  Yes, it really does take a village to build community.

Our lives were never meant to be lived in isolation.

This is when we are the most vulnerable to believing the lies that we aren’t worthy to be loved or accepted.  In reality, we have a God who loves us so much he deposited himself inside each one of us.

Kathy EscobarTamara:  Thank you, Kathy, for sharing your honest and compelling insight into your experiences with shame. 

You can find out more about Kathy and her ministry through the links below:

Website: http://kathyescobar.com

Read her blog.

Go to The Refuge.

Email: kathyaescobar@gmail.com.

Helpful Resources to Live in the Shame-Free Zone:

I’ll be continuing the discussion around the effects of shame in our lives.  Look for more interviews to follow in the coming weeks.

 

Shame’s Shameful Effect on our Lives

I recently had a conversation with a man who confirmed for me the reason that I felt compelled to write Spun out on Shame? Reclaim Your Sanity.” 

He described the cycle of feeling inadequate over a relational situation which caused him to become fearful and to isolate.  He spoke of letting the people around him define his identity and his motivations.  As he listened to their voices, he struggled to hear the voice of his heavenly father.  He began to believe the lie that shame is like a friend, protecting him, wrapping itself around him like a warm blanket.

Does any of this sound familiar to you?

Shame Entered in the Garden of Eden

I find shame to be one of the greatest life stealers we ever encounter.

Adam-and-Eve

Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, detail, painting by Wenzel Peter, in the Vatican museum.

In fact, my discovery that shame was the first impact from Adam and Eve’s decision to eat the fruit from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, was so transformational, it compelled me to write Spun out on Shame? Reclaim Your Sanity.” 

Did you realize that once shame entered the Garden, a whole list of relational destructors followed?

I call them “Life Stealers.”

Beating Back the Beast of Shame

Because I believe shame is one of the biggest obstacles for us to live the life Jesus invited us to experience, I am going to spend some time focusing on it.

Watch for interviews with experts on how shame impacts different aspects of our lives.

  • Dr. Rob Jackson, chiropractor, and President and CEO of Back Talk Systems, Inc., will be sharing how shame impacts our bodies.
  • Tom Ryan, writer and teacher, who wrote the foreword to Spun out on Shame? Reclaim Your Sanity.”  will be sharing his story of how shame impacted his vocation, marriage and family.
  • Kathy Escobar, pastor and writer, will share how shame impacts community.
  • Robert Armitage, father of the Reclaim Family and a gifted retreat leader, tells us how shame impacted his family and what happens when it is eradicated within a family!

I will also be asking some key questions on social media to hear your thoughts, as well as offering insightful wisdom from people who have struggled with the beast of shame and won!  (Click link to like and follow the conversation on Tamara Buchan’s Facebook page.)

Spun Out on Shame Book CoverAnd, watch for key highlights and resources from Spun out on Shame? Reclaim Your Sanity.”  to whet your appetite for how you can live a life free from Shame.

Spun out on Shame? Reclaim Your Sanity”  has videos within it.  Here’s my introductory video:  take a couple of minutes to watch it as you take steps to eradicate your life from the effects of shame.

None of us have it fully figured out.  But, as we connect with one another, telling our stories, sharing our victories and seeking to hear from the one who fully defeated shame:  Jesus Christ, we can live the life he created for us.  One of safety, love, and freedom.

Will you join me on the journey?

You Can’t Think your Way into the Kingdom

I was having a conversation with one of my favorite Millennial friends when these words popped out of my mouth, “You can’t think your way into the kingdom.” 

I was surprised I said it, but I realized as I reflected on it later that this is the rub for a lot of us–maybe most of all those of us who have been trained for “professional ministry.”

We try to understand the Kingdom and often, we can’t.

stairway-to-heavenLooking for a Tangible Kingdom

One man told me recently, “The Kingdom feels fuzzy for me.”

I get it.  We are used to quantifiable and tangible results in our lives and God’s Kingdom doesn’t have the same priority or measurement system.

I’ve been having lots of kairos moments lately about the Kingdom (Kairos: Greek word for time–when God breaks through)–here’s the one I had this morning:

Jesus said, “The Kingdom of Heaven is near” (Mark 1:15).  I’ve always interpreted this as “coming soon!” as time, but when you consider the term “near” in the Aramaic, the language Jesus spoke, it means “accessible, close enough to touch” as in distance.

That changes everything.

It means we aren’t waiting for it to come, but that we can reach out and touch it. 

The Passion Translation (interpreted through Aramaic, Hebrew and Greek) states it this way in Matthew 10:7:

“Heaven’s Kingdom realm is accessible, close enough to touch.”

I hear you saying, “I can’t touch Kingdom’s realm. I don’t feel anything.”

Right, not in our earthly realm.  It’s in the Kingdom realm–the one that matters most of all. 

When Jesus stood before Pilate, he told him, “My Kingdom is not an earthly kingdom.  It’s not of this world” (John 18:36).

It takes faith to reach out and touch it and believe God’s Kingdom exists all around us.

crowd-of-peopleGetting Away from the Crowd

I find it so interesting that as Jesus was speaking about the Kingdom he had two encounters. In one Jesus healed a man who was deaf and, in the other, a man who was blind.

He took both of them away from the crowd to do the healing.

Here’s what I believe:  if we truly want to see the Kingdom, to reach out and touch it, to experience the transformational power of it, we have to step away from the crowd.

We aren’t going to find God’s Kingdom in the mainstream section of life.

We aren’t going to find God’s Kingdom in the mainstream section of religion.

It’s found when we follow Jesus’ directive: “Unless you dramatically change your way of thinking and become teachable, and learn about Heaven’s Kingdom realm with the wide-eyed wonder of the child, you will never be able to enter in.” (Matthew 18:2-3 TPT)

Children don’t ever try to think their way into anything.

They live life in wide-eyed wonder–each moment a true discovery that thrills and delights them.  Is there anything more appealing than a child giggling?  Watch a fun video here.

Opening Our Eyes to See the Kingdom

This morning I sat down to spend time with the King of Heaven’s Kingdom and I heard him say, “My Kingdom is near.  I want to open your eyes to see even clearer just how close it is.”

kingdom-of-god-is-near

With every invitation comes a choice.

Here’s some questions I’ve been wrestling with; do they resonate with you?

Will I be willing to humble myself to enter the Kingdom? (Matthew 18:4)

Will I be willing to let my spirit lead, rather than my brain, in discerning the Kingdom?

Am I willing to be led by Jesus outside the crowd (the mainstream religious system) so I can see the Kingdom and hear his direction for how to move in it?

Am I willing to open up my “sight” to understand who truly is in God’s Kingdom?

Am I willing to become “least” in God’s Kingdom?

I have to admit.  On my human side, I like being known.  I like being important.  I like being in the middle of things.

But, when the King of Heaven’s Kingdom, gives me a personal invitation to have my blinded eyes opened, it trumps all my human desires–because this I do know, life in His Kingdom is truly life.

The life which satisfies.

The life which impacts for eternity.

The life which allows us to live in wide-eyed wonder!

I want to end this post today with a song on the Bethel Live album that captures our Kingdom reality.  Focus on the words as you listen to “May You Never Lose Your Wonder.”

raised-hands

Heaven ~ Close Enough to Touch!

When I was a new Follower of Christ, I was invited to what was then called “discipleship training.”  It was really more evangelism training than adult Christian education or what we would consider true discipleship training today.

th07A3T911My Early Discipleship Training

I arrived, fresh and eager, ready to get trained for my new life with Jesus. I can still remember the “tract” my leader took out for us to walk through so we could then share it with others. It focused on sin and the bridge Jesus built between himself and our sin.

Okay, I thought. I can accept that. It didn’t thrill my heart, however, it felt so . . . should I say, “academic?” The leader went on to say that as we invited people to ask Jesus into their heart that we shouldn’t “expect anything to happen.” Hmmm. It wasn’t what I was experiencing in my times with Jesus. He was revealing his ability to do lots of miracles and inviting me to follow him in them.

I have to say I am glad that season of my faith life is over. I am glad the season of “academic discipleship” is coming to a close in the broader Christian culture. Even though a lot of people went to church, our impact on culture was minimal.

Fast forward to yesterday.

Exploring Biblical Passages on Kingdom

I’ve been exploring more about the Kingdom of God. It’s interesting to me that Jesus rarely mentioned the church, but he spoke about the Kingdom all the time.

In fact, his first public words were, “The time promised by God has come at last. The Kingdom of Heaven is near.” (Mark 1:15) The Greek word for time is “kairos”–timing when God breaks through from heaven to earth.

Kingdom-of-God

My reading yesterday was out of Matthew 10. I love the new Passion Translation which combines the Greek, Aramaic, and Hebrew language together into a passionate, emotive, powerful format!

Here’s what it says:

“Heaven’s Kingdom realm is accessible, close enough to touch. You must continually bring healing to lepers and to those who are sick, and make it your habit to break off the demonic presence from people, and raise the dead back to life. Freely you have received the power of the Kingdom, so freely release it to others.” Matthew 10:7-8.

I sat there stunned. I thought, I’ve got to check this in a more traditional translation. So, here’s what the New Living Translation (NLT) states,

“Go and announce to them that the Kingdom of Heaven is near. Heal the sick, raise the dead, cure those with leprosy, and cast out demons. Give as freely as you have received!”

It’s actually not that different.

Here’s the thing: the context in which Jesus speaks this is to his 12 disciples as he sends them out on their first discipleship assignment. Yes, the disciples watched him do those things, and they helped Jesus at times, but now they were being called to do them too.

So are we.

Discipleship isn’t the boring activity that many of us have been led to believe.

I don’t know about you, but I find the challenge to recognize the heavenly realm is close enough to touch pretty compelling. One example is the post I wrote about the my recently deceased dog, Nicki, in Do Dogs go to Heaven.

I find Jesus’ call to heal lepers rather challenging.

Breaking off the demonic presence–isn’t that Jesus’ job?

Raising the dead, not on my everyday “to do” list. But according to Jesus, it’s supposed to be.

Are you following me yet?

Jesus stated his priorities to his disciples for how he wanted them to focus their attention and time.

Without a vision, people perish.

I believe we’ve been given a very small vision for how we are to follow Jesus.

It’s time for us to start listening to what Jesus really said about discipleship. It’s not for the faint of heart, but it is for those of us who are adventurous in nature, hungry to know God better, and seeking to see the world around us transformed.

thPSR0ICTZAn Example of Kingdom Living

This describes my good friend Martha Rust Jackson. Martha went to seminary looking for more of God. Her most transforming class in seminary was about healing. God didn’t just let her learn about it academically, he gave her the opportunity to experience it herself when she was miraculously healed of severe migraines.

Martha used to be a nurse. She thought God had called her to something more “important” now that she had gone to seminary.

But, in God’s sense of humor, he called her to get her nursing license renewed. He opened the door so miraculously that Martha knew she needed to walk through it. She struggled with studying again, but now she is interning on a hospital floor.

Last week, Martha came into a room of a woman that all the other nurses described as being mean. Martha decided to put Jesus’ call into action as she began to wash this emaciated woman’s body. She silently prayed for heaven to be released into her body, for God’s love to pour through her, as heaven connected with earth. Outwardly, Martha didn’t do anything different than any other nurse. But, inwardly, Martha was following Jesus’ direction by becoming the connecting point between earth and heaven. She was calling for healing for the woman, first for her heart, and then for her body. She was living Matthew 10:7-8!

Martha didn’t see the woman for another week. But, the next time Martha went into her room, the woman’s eyes lit up and she exclaimed, “Where have you been? I’ve missed you.” The angry woman had become calm and was now well enough to go back home.

Practical Steps in Discipleship Training 101

Martha’s story encourages me. Following Jesus’ directive doesn’t make us strange or different outwardly, but it gives us a way to impact our environment in a dramatic way because we are the ones who bring the kingdom, which is accessible, close enough for us to touch.

Are you willing to take a step?

I have to think that when the disciples received Jesus’ instructions, they took a big gulp and said a few “Help me God” prayers. But, after they finished their first discipleship 101 assignment, they came back to Jesus and told him, “Lord, even the demons obey us when we use your name” (Luke 10:17). Jesus answers, “Yes, I saw Satan fall from heaven like lightening. Look, I have given you authority over all the power of the enemy.”

Are you ready to get started?

These are a few practical tips I’ve learned along the way:

  1. Start your day with a question, “Where do you want me to partner with you today, Jesus?”
  2. Be aware through the day….on the lookout for where he may be directing you.
  3. When you sense Jesus saying, “Here is your opportunity,” ask him what he wants to do and then pray it (out loud if possible, or silently if needed), using his name!
  4. Do it, and then go on your way–leaving the result to Jesus.

th (2)

Here’s the thing about life in the Kingdom.

It’s often done behind the scenes. Invisible. Hidden.

Our part is to do our part, Jesus’ part is to bring the breakthrough.

I’d love to hear your stories.  Let’s share them.

  • When have you seen heaven break through into earth?
  • Where have you taken a risk and experienced Jesus showing up?
  • What do you feel called to do but haven’t yet taken a step?

Let’s keep dialoguing about Jesus’ call to Discipleship Training 101 as we enter into a time of great adventure as his disciples~All of Heaven is waiting!