Archive for January, 2009

Encouragers

January 28, 2009

Yesterday, a couple in California killed themselves and their five children because they lost their jobs.  Apparently this is the fifth mass death in California in the last year.  When people have nothing to hang onto but their own resources, they find they have nothing to hang onto.

Jesus came to SEEK and save that which was lost.  He sought them by noticing them.  When you read through the gospels, Jesus noticed those who were on the sidelines.  He noticed the widow who’s son had just died.  He noticed Zaccheaus.  He noticed the woman at the well.  He noticed the beggars.

He didn’t leave the people he noticed in their situations.  He gave of himself.  He encouraged them.  To the woman, He gave back her son.  To Zaccheaus, he gave fellowship.  To the woman at the well, He listened, gave validity and honest communication.  To the beggars, he gave healing.

You may feel like you can’t do what Jesus did, but you can pray, and in faith, believe.   This is what Paul said about the power you have in you:

I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is like the working of his mighty strength, which he exerted in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms” Ephesians 1:18-20

Will you join me today in seeking those that are lost?  Will you bring a kind word, a listening ear, a prayer?  This family in California looked very normal… until they didn’t.  Let’s seek those who need to be heard and offer hope.  They are probably sitting right next to you.

Prayer Day

January 27, 2009

I’m dedicating Wednesday as a prayer day for the needs of others (and maybe a few of my own).  If you have things that you’d like prayer for, please let me know, so I can add them to the list. You can either post a comment, or email me personally at kimkmartinez.7@gmail.com.

Being part of a community means that we get to lift each other up – it is a gift.  Thank you for being in community with me.

Happy Wednesday.

Consumer Confidence

January 27, 2009

dsc_0764My RSS feed says that consumer confidence has tanked – every place we turn, we hear about layoffs, rising prices, rough times.  This isn’t the first time in history that this has happened.  In fact, it happened in 2 Chronicles 32 (among many other times).

Hezekiah was king, and the king of Assyria invaded Judah.  There is a whole sermon here, but I’ll jump to the end.  The king of Assyria wanted to know “On what are you basing your confidence, that you remain in Jerusalem under siege?” (vs. 10)

When you are under siege, no trade goes in or out.  Supplies are very limited, so there is rationing.  The end is in sight.  On top of that, the enemy stands at the walls every day, with his vast army, and yells at you about how you are doomed.  The Assyrians would take people from the area and post them on stakes to die hideous deaths in full view of those inside the walls.  The mental torture of being under siege was more than oppressive.

Yet, the people in Jerusalem were confident.  How come they were confident?

How can we be confident in our current economic circumstances?

Listen to Hezekiah’s words to the people:

“Be strong and courageous.  Do not be afraid or discouraged because of the king of Assyria and the vast army with him, for there is a greater power with us than with him.  With him is only the arm of flesh, but with us is the Lord our God to help us and to fight our battles.”  And the people gained confidence from what Hezekiah the king of Judah said.” (32:7-8 )

Their confidence wasn’t in winning, or stockpiles, or their ability to outsmart the Assyrians or in their weapons.  Their confidence was in God’s ability to pull them through.

God has a different perspective, and He will continue to give us purpose and perspective even in the most difficult of times.   Our confidence isn’t in the markets, the economy, our savings, our jobs, our abilities or ingenuity.  Our confidence is in God Himself.  Listen to Paul:

“Such confidence as this is ours through Christ before God.  Not that we are competent in ourselves to claim anything for ourselves, but our competence comes from God.” (2 Corinthians 3:4-5)

Christian Writers’ Market Guide

January 26, 2009

blog1Are you bursting with ideas but don’t know how to get them into print?

There are a lot of ways to make money as a writer, but they all boil down to this:  What is in your head needs to get inside the reader’s head.  Sally Stuart is not only making her way in the world of writing, but helping people like you and me make our way as well.  Sally’s niche is to share information about publishing.

  • more than 1,200 markets for the written word
  • 416 book publishers (32 new)
  • 654 periodicals (52 new)
  • 96 literary agents
  • 100 new listings in Resources for Writers
  • 226 poetry markets
  • 316 photography markets
  • 25 African-American markets
  • and 166 contests (29 new)

I am so excited to share with you this awesome resource.  Here’s what the back jacket says:

The Resource Guide to Getting Published

For 24 years running, the Christian Writers’ Market Guide has remained the most comprehensive, complete, essential, and highly-recommended resource for beginning and veteran Christian writers, agents, editors, publishers, publicists, and those teaching writing classes.

This year’s Guide is even handier with a CD-Rom included that features the full text of the book for easy searches of topics, publishers, and markets, as well as 100 pages of exclusive content including indexes and writing resource listings.

This is the resource you need to get noticed—and published.

Now, the truth is that you will only get noticed if you put this wonderful resource to work.  Just having the resource might make you feel good (in the way that buying diet aids makes us feel good).  Doing the hard work of writing and using the resource – that will get you published and heard.

I believe that there are readers that need to hear what God is giving you to say.

You can buy this Market Guide here:  Christian Writers’ Market Guide 2009 at Amazon.com

You can also find out more about the Market Guide at:  http://www.stuartmarket.com/

Happy Writing!

Courage

January 26, 2009

Dictionary.com says that courage is “the quality of mind or spirit that enables a person to face difficulty, danger, pain, etc., without fear; bravery.”  I think a better definition is to “act in the face of fear”.

I’m reading Seth Godin’s book Tribes.  In it, he mentions that people tend to be promoted to the level at which they are frozen by fear. (My interpretation of what I heard.)  In other words, we are not limited by our intelligence or skills as much as we are limited by our lack of faith, or our fear.

How do we keep from being frozen by fear?

1.  Focus on God.  Psalms 62:8 says “Trust in him at all times.  Pour out your heart before him; God is a refuge for us.”

2.  Do what you were created to do.  Luke 9:2 says “Jesus sent the twelve out to proclaim the kingdom of God and to heal.”  You have the Holy Spirit living in you.  Your mission is to proclaim the good news of Christ and to bring healing – no matter what your job is.

How can you bring healing?

a) through prayer.  God answers prayer and things change based on your prayers.

b) through relationship.  We were designed to be in relationship with other people and with God.  When you help people be in community, in relationship, you offer healing similar to that of Christ with the woman at the well and Zaccheaus – unconditional love that brings about transformation.

c) through listening.  Okay, so this is part of relationship, but bears it’s own category.  We are often a parallel play society.  We think that we are in relationship with people when we occupy the same place and time.  Our honest listening skills are a wonderful gift.

What do these have to do with leading?  If you are going to be a Christ-follower, you are going to be different – you are going to be a leader.  Are you willing to be counter-cultural?  Are you willing to take the time to listen, to be in relationship, and to honestly pray for the people you are around every day?  That is how you lead.  It takes courage, it takes time.

Lord, give us the courage to be the men and women You created us to be in the situations you have placed us in today.

Giants in the Land

January 16, 2009

Are there giants in the land for you?

Tonight it occurred to me that to the 10 spies and the Israelites that followed them, the giants were very obvious obstacles.  In fact, common sense said that they needed to ‘count the cost’ of this venture, and avoid these real obstacles.  From their point of view, fortified cities and very powerful people were insurmountable problems compared to people on foot without any of the modern ‘tools’ (chariots, for one).

They wanted to run for the hills!  (Okay, they wanted to go back to Egypt, but you get the picture.)

Here’s the kicker.  Listen to what God said in response:

“The LORD said to Moses, “How long will these people treat me with contempt? How long will they refuse to believe in me, in spite of all the miraculous signs I have performed among them? I will strike them down with a plague and destroy them, but I will make you into a nation greater and stronger than they.” (Numbers 14:11-12)

God was seriously offended that they didn’t trust Him.

Are you facing obstacles?  Finances, relationships, even personal growth – sometimes we just reach that wall where we say “there are giants in the land.  I can’t go forward.  I have to find a way out.”

Has God led you? He will bring you victory.

Let’s draw a line in the sand, and choose to listen to those with faith instead:

“We should go up and take possession of the land, for we can certainly do it.” (Numbers 13:30)

“The land we passed through and explored is exceedingly good.  If the LORD is pleased with us, he will lead us into that land, a land flowing with milk and honey, and will give it to us. Only do not rebel against the LORD. And do not be afraid of the people of the land, because we will swallow them up. Their protection is gone, but the LORD is with us. Do not be afraid of them.” (Numbers 14:7-9)

We can move forward.  We can find the view of faith.  There is always a view of faith and a view of the practical.  Let’s do what Joshua and Caleb did – find the view of faith by

  • looking backwards to God’s record
  • looking forward to the possible
  • choosing to believe

Faith trumps practical because God is working.

When the Children of Israel did go into the land, finally, they found that God gave them so many miracles and new lessons.  Going forward in faith is a walk in the miraculous.  Going back to the familiar is to live in the mundane, walking around the same mountain again and again.

I choose to look for the miraculous.  What about you?

Living to 80

January 16, 2009

It was one of those moments when you feel like you’ve been caught with your pants down.

A friend of mine mentioned how she was exercising and eating right because when she is 80, she still wants to be able to have a fully functional body.  The realization hit me so hard, I stopped walking and just stood there.

My whole life I’d been planning for who I was going to be 20-40 years out – as a person.  I worked on developing my brain and personality, letting the Holy Spirit do His work on me so that I would continue ‘becoming’ the person I was supposed to be.  I had totally missed the fact that I needed to be this person inside my body.  My body needs to work well for me to be able to have the energy to operate as the person I’m becoming.

Thus enters the book I just read:  Never Say Diet, by Chantel Hobbs, and it’s companion, The Never Say Diet Personal Fitness Trainer.

I was really laissez faire about this or any other diet and exercise book.  Getting the gumption to get off my fanny seemed somewhat magical – like a fairy needed to come and sprinkle me with fairy dust.  Even when I started this book, in my mind, I was saying ‘yeah, yeah, yeah’.  (Aren’t I just a brat?)

But then something happened.  You see, (this is from me, not the book) you will be the same person you’ve always been unless your brain pathways get rerouted.  If you want to reroute your brain pathways regarding diet and exercise, one way is to read a book.  This book rerouted one of my brain pathways and got me back in the exercise groove that I fell out of two years ago, and have really missed.  It said this:  Taking care of your body is your JOB.  If you don’t show up for work, you don’t get paid, and you should be fired (My interpretation and paraphrase). Since I love to work, this really hit me where I am, and I got it.

Here are a couple quotes that I highlighted:

“We prevent ourselves from excelling by overmothering ourselves.  When you constantly check in with yourself – Am I exhausted? Am I hungry? Am I cold? Am I tired? How do I feel today? _ you don’t achieve personal bests.  Instead, you’re nurturing self-centeredness.  But when you stop thinking and start doing, you go further than you thought you could.  And you feel really, really strong.” (page 69)

“Being uncomfortable is no reason not to do something.” (page 71)

It reminded me of something else I read recently – “Mind over Matter – if you don’t mind, it won’t matter.”

All I can tell you is that from a bad attitude, I started exercising.  I started “showing up to work” – and loving it.  My brain pathways were switched and I’m taking care of myself – because someday, I’m going to be 80, and I will have a lot to give.

This book has two parts.  The first part is brain training, featuring the five decisions that you need to make.  Then the second half focuses on a sixteen week plan to get you on your way.  The Personal Fitness Trainer is a journal/log with prompts for you to document your progress.  What joy to mark your progress!

You can order this book from Amazon.com here:  Never Say Diet

The Never Say Diet Personal Fitness Trainer

You can also visit the author’s web site here:  Chantel Hobbs

The publishers were very nice and gave me an extra copy to give away.  Do you need to get yourself into the groove of taking care of your body?  Do you need to put exercise in your daily routine?  Be the first to email me and it is yours.

Cool Things to Take a Look At

January 10, 2009

Okay – it has been a long time since I’ve told you about some of the cool things I’ve found, so I thought I’d show you them tonight.  Just click on the links below to investigate them for yourself.

Here is a GREAT leadership blog, which also has a whole book online if you become a member:

Blog:  FiveMinutesORLess

Site:  Spirtiuallead.com

Here are a couple of cool open source programs – Inkscape is the best drawing program we have ever seen. (My husband, Wes, found this one.)

Desktop Publishing: Scribus

Drawing/Art program (really amazing):  Inkscape

As open source programs, they are free.  I was using Scribus in combination with my photo editor.  As first glance, it doesn’t appear as powerful as Adobe Pagemaker, but it is still great – especially if you need a desktop publishing program.  We had a blast playing with Inkscape – it has amazing features, that are TONS of fun – and you wouldn’t believe the pictures people have drawn with this program!

Great blog to read:  How the Creative Stay Creative by Tony Morgan

Another one:   There is a Dynamic Tension Between Artists and Leaders by Tim Stevens

Also, I’m reading a fun book called “The DNA of Leadership” by Judith E. Glaser – in it she talks about the language of leadership, and building a functional atmosphere of team.

That’s all for now.  Happy Weekend.

How, Then, do we Change?

January 9, 2009

How do we change something about ourselves that needs changing?

If I have something on my face, I can wipe it off, but only if I know that it is there. I either need a mirror with which to see it, or good friends that will point it out to me. Sometimes, I can feel it myself, as it starts to dry and my face gets that dried cement feeling on it.  In all these cases, all I need to do is get a napkin or wash cloth and wipe it off.

When I have a mannerism, habit, way of thinking or approach to life that needs changing, God often uses the same process. He will either show me through some sort of ‘mirror'; He will tell me through good friends and new insights; or the thing that needs to change becomes a problem and I become aware of it.

Here in lies the problem: Mannerisms, habits, ways of thinking and approaches to life don’t wipe off as easily as jam. Paul talked about his attempt to follow the law this way:

But I need something more! For if I know the law but still can’t keep it, and if the power of sin within me keeps sabotaging my best intentions, I obviously need help! I realize that I don’t have what it takes. I can will it, but I can’t do it. I decide to do good, but I don’t really do it; I decide not to do bad, but then I do it anyway. My decisions, such as they are, don’t result in actions. Something has gone wrong deep within me and gets the better of me every time. (Romans 7:18-20, The Message)

How, then, do we, as broken people perfectly incapable of getting it right, fix the things that God brings to our attention?

Where we are powerless, God is powerful.  Jesus healed the blind man, the paralytic.  God raised the dead – not only through Jesus, but through Elisha, Peter, Paul, and (I’m sure) others.  If that isn’t enough, then take a look at the lives of Peter and Paul – men who were changed very quickly by the power of the Holy Spirit to be the people God needed them to be for the jobs He had for them to do.  God worked mightily in all these instances – He can do the same for whatever issue you might be facing today.  Just ask Him – stop ‘trying’ yourself, and give the Creator of the Universe the authority to do the work in you.  Rerouting brain pathways isn’t such a big thing for the One who held back waters, put the stars in place and created man from dust.

Where we are powerless, He is Powerful – let’s ask Him to do it.

Really Reaching People

January 7, 2009

Today I reach some of the most recent addition of City Arts magazine.  I am convinced, more than ever, that the way to reach people with the gospel is through the arts.  My theological base is formed, but not to be point of being really articulatable.  My outreach model – well I have about six of those, and from just a pragmatic standpoint, it has never made more sense.

Here is the best I can do on the theology at the moment:  God made us in His image.  Being creative is part of that.  Using our imagination, exploring the possible and impossible – that is part of being human.  It is why having a relationship with an infinite God is so fantabulous (yes, I used the word fantabulous in a theological argument) – because He is infinite, and we can continue to get to know Him more each day…forever.   We are made with a spirit and a body – to get to know God and to worship Him. What is worship but art?

Now for the practical:  We are in financial difficult times.  Unless things change dramatically, the first thing to get hit in these times are the arts.  Art galleries around the Northwest are already closing.  What service can the church provide better than an opportunity to learn the arts?  To celebrate the arts?  We have experts in the performing arts at every level of church life.  We also have plenty of visual artists, but we might have to dig to find them because we haven’t always valued them.  We have auditoriums and equipment that stand unused throughout the week.  We have walls that really could be used to celebrate life.

How does this lead people toward God?  Take the woman at the well for example.  She went to the well a woman who was avoiding the people of her town.  Something about her conversation with Jesus – his acceptance, his willingness to engage her in conversation and yet not embroil himself in pseudo arguments, but engage the real issues – changed her.

Zacchaeus was also rather unliked – he was a tax collector.  But when Jesus called him out of the tree, all it took was a real encounter with Jesus, and Zacchaeus was instantly transformed from a cheat to an honest man, full of hospitality.

When we, as Christ’s representatives (and this requires people who have a real, growing relationship with God), come into relationship with others who don’t know God, we offer opportunities for them to get to know Him through us.  As we walk with them, we will see what He is doing in their lives, we can pray, (they will also see how He is working in us) and eventually, we can introduce them to Him.  Not in a selling way, but in a natural way, like I introduce you to the other person in the room because it is rude not to.   (I also discovered over Christmas that the other people in the room will introduce themselves if I lag in that area.)  Their relationship with God can grow from there, they still have to choose whether to have the relationship or not, but the introduction is made – and it started with an arts program.  In a city where only 4-6% of the people even go to church on Sunday, making introductions is important – it is very perceivable that 50% of the people in our city have no one in their life who can even tell them about God.


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