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Friday, 18 July 2014

UNLEASHING OUR GREATNESS - by Heidi McLaughin

Graduating from high school was a defining time in my life. I remember comments like: “You’re going to do great things with your life. There is nothing you can’t do. Go for it; the world is your oyster.”  Then I waited for life to prove it to me.
But life was just plain hard. Many failures and disappointments later I was smart enough to know there had to be another avenue.  In 1978 when I made a personal declaration to accept God into my life, I started pursing more satisfying solutions.  I found a jaw-dropping answer in the bible in Ephesians 1:18-19: “I pray 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 his holy people,  and his incomparably great power for us who believe.”
Wow, that’s a lot of greatness and power. Then how do we get it for ourselves and then pass it on to others? First of all to get it we have to believe and receive. Secondly, to unleash it we need to pass it on.
We are a family that loves basketball so I will use a great basketball player by the name of LeBron James as my example.  James is arguably the greatest basketball player of this generation. Over the past four years he has led his team, the “Miami Heat” to four National Basketball Association finals, winning two championships. Lebron has command of all the basic skills required for basketball including power, speed, shooting and defensive ability. There are other stars that possess equivalent individual skills. But the thing that sets LeBron apart is his ability to recognize and utilize the gifting and capabilities of his mates and deliver the ball to them when they are in the best position to succeed. For example: three point shots, a midrange jump shot or a drive to the basket.
We unleash each other’s greatness when we view each other as being team mates rather than competitors. When there is a mutual willingness with our friends, family and colleagues to “pass the ball” we can all succeed in unleashing and exercising the gifts God has given us.
Setting each other up for greatness involves the following:
1.         Observation and Communication-Notice the areas of life which are the best in a friend, family or colleague, so that when the ball is in their hands, they are most likely to succeed. Discuss the roles with that person so that they can have the greatest sense of joy and satisfaction.
2.         Patience-As in athletics the talents and skills required for unleashing greatness in your own life, and the life of others is sharpened and refined through practice and experience. Such experience may involve failure before success. As “failure” is not final, disparaging remarks to yourself or your friend have no place in setting up for greatness.
3.         Encouragement-This is huge. Words followed by actions have to power to unleash the gifts and glorious inheritance God has placed inside each of us.  When we feed them into each other’s skill sets, they are extraordinarily important and powerful.

4.         Co-operation and not Competition-First of all in co-operation of the working of the Holy Spirit to “enlighten the eyes of our heart” so that we can recognize the gifts God has given us. Then to pass the ball to those around us so that we all win this life game that we are engaged in.
5.         Greatness is an inside job-The greatness I am talking about is everything God placed inside of us when we received Jesus as our savior. The world will never give us the ultimate success we crave. The more we pursue God and His incomparably great power, the more we will recognize the greatness that has been placed inside of us. Hebrews 10:24 which says: “Let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works.”
Is the world my oyster? More than that!  Right now I can enjoy a glorious inheritance that will one day be unleashed in all its greatness when I stand face to face with my God.
In the meantime. I am all about discovering my own greatness and helping you with yours.

Heidi McLaughlin lives in the beautiful vineyards of the Okanagan Valley in Kelowna, British Columbia. She is married to Pastor Jack and they have a wonderful, eclectic blended family of 5 children and 9 grandchildren. When Heidi is not working, she loves to curl up with a great book, or golf and laugh with her husband and special friends. You can reach her at: www.heartconnection.ca




Thursday, 17 July 2014

Finding Friends - SUSAN HARRIS


 I don't quite remember how I stumbled upon an online game site for Scrabble players but I was excited. Except for a game with someone -anyone- now and again, I had no one with whom I could consistently play.

I clicked the link and spent the better part of a day figuring out the "Rooms." I was paranoid about my safety so I spent an additional few days mustering the courage to invite someone to play. The first person suddenly became "too busy" to play after I won three consecutive games. Interestingly, I'd still see her name in other playing rooms. The second woman did not play often enough.

And then I found her. If anyone loved Scrabble as much as I did, or maybe more than I did, it was Amy. Winning or losing did not jar her. We played in the wee hours of the morning, me in the northern hemisphere, she in the southern. Until then, I had banked over the Internet, shopped from vendors online, and worked as a tutor through distance education, but I had never made a friend from online communication. In 2002, this all changed with Amy. Like a slowly meandering river, we moved from being Scrabble buddies only, to adding one-liners like, "Hi, how are you?" in our comment boxes. We were both cautious, two women crossing the equator while our little ones played at our feet.

Gradually the emails grew longer, and the post offices in Canada and Australia received parcels. Gifts for a mother and children whose faces the other had not seen. As trust grew, photos arrived and telephone operators connected international calls. Amy and I advised and gave advice, laughed and exclaimed. Neither of us was on Facebook yet.

It was a sweet, beautiful friendship, a constant as I wove my way in and out of towns, cities and people. I was wary of social media, a laggard of anything that required putting my information "out there." Suspicious. Guarded.

It wasn't until 2011, after my first book, Golden Apples in Silver Settings, was published, that I reluctantly joined Facebook and Twitter. It was purely a marketing move and the only photo was my profile picture. Another year would elapse before I posted anything significant, and when I did, it was in relation to my new books, Little Copper Pennies and Little Copper Pennies for Kids. By then I was comfortable with an online presence, and Amy and I connected on Facebook.

Facebook re-defined the term "friend," a definition I scoffed at when I first heard it. How could I be friends with people whom I had never laid eyes on and didn’t know their backgrounds? I repressed my doubts when I remembered Amy.

I've met the most wonderful and resourceful men and women through social media. I enter their lives and they visit mine. They're like ice cream cones on a hot summer day, leaving their sweetness and refreshing behind. As with good ice cream, though, a few nuts may be scattered throughout, and thus I continue to exercise caution.

My new friends advise on outfits and covers, send birthday wishes and encouraging messages. They share my books and blogs, and offer feedback. I am so much better because of the people I've come to know through social media. I've found them on every continent, and when I'm not on the Internet, I look up to the sky we share and remember that a star twinkles above them as it does over me.  And I'm proud to call them "Friend."
I no longer play virtual Scrabble, but my online presence— and personal life — has broadened because of the individuals who have become real and valued allies as the ones I see in person.
Living Intentionally
On my wall is a quote: Your friend is the person who knows all about you and still likes you.
While I may not know everything about the people I've met via the Internet, I can infer about their personalities and character by the content of their posts, comments and photos. And they can do the same of me. Although I'm vigilant as to how I engage and interact on social media, in the past, I've put the proverbial foot in my mouth. A few times, in the heat of the moment, I've gone overboard and responded to a comment made by the friend of a friend, instead of keeping my focus on my immediate friend and the topic at hand. Or I may have been too blunt. Thankfully, these incidents are fewer and further apart, and may even be non-existent one day.
The old adage reminds that four things that will never come back are the spoken word, the sped arrow, the past life, and the lost opportunity. I'll add a fifth: the written word. I know now that  words texted, typed, tweeted, posted, published, blogged, emailed, and downloaded cannot be taken back. The history and record lurks forever in a digital world of cyberspace and hard drives and software.
This knowledge helps me to be discretionary when communicating through that forum. I'm thankful for my friends and the joy of sharing their lives. I continue to watch out for the nuts, too, conscious of the need to remain safe.  Meeting people and being Internet savvy require a mix of attention and intuition, something I'm mindful of anywhere that I am.
This article is published in July 2014 PAOC  'SAGE' Magazine. Copies can be ordered at https://paoc.org/canada/initiatives/sage.

(An excerpt from Remarkably Ordinary: 20 Reflections on living Intentionally Right Where You Are, Chapter 14, Finding Friends. ©Susan Harris 2014. New e-book available from any Amazon site. http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00JICVCQM
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Find Susan at:

http://susanharris.ca

https://www.facebook.com/SusanHarrisCanadianAuthor

https://twitter.com/SusanHarris20

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BIO: Susan Harris is a speaker and former teacher, and the author of Remarkably Ordinary, Golden Apples in Silver Settings, Little Copper Pennies and Little Copper Pennies for Kids. Her publication, "Smokey's Lock-out" will appear in the August 2014 edition of Chicken Soup for the Soul: The Cat Did What? and her children's book, Alphabet on The Farm will be released in the fall of 2014 in both English and French. Susan was born in exotic Trinidad but now lives on the Saskatchewan prairies with her husband, daughter and the gregarious cats.


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Monday, 14 July 2014

Help in the Battles We All Face




Reading:                                                                                                                Psalm 35
 (Verses 7-10)
Since they hid their net for me without cause
    and without cause dug a pit for me,
may ruin overtake them by surprise—
    may the net they hid entangle them,
    may they fall into the pit, to their ruin.
Then my soul will rejoice in the LORD
    and delight in his salvation.
My whole being will exclaim,
    “Who is like you, LORD?
You rescue the poor from those too strong for them,
    the poor and needy from those who rob them.”
(NIV)
Reflection
Paul the apostle reminds us that as believers in the Lord Jesus Christ, we are engaged in spiritual warfare. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand (Ephesians 6:11-13).

The Armour of God

The conflicts that David experienced in the Old Testament, reflected in the words of this portion of Psalm 35, are mirrored in the spiritual warfare experienced by New Testament believers. Make no mistake—the Devil and his cohorts have dug a pit to trap you; they spread their nets to ensnare you in sin and degradation. But as with David, the LORD has also provided a way of escape. Once again Paul reminds us of this: No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it (1 Corinthians 10:13).
The LORD has equipped us with the armor of God and He has provided a way of escape, so then with David we can rejoice in the victory the LORD will bring.
Then my soul will rejoice in the LORD
    and delight in his salvation.
My whole being will exclaim,
    “Who is like you, LORD?
You rescue the poor from those too strong for them,
    the poor and needy from those who rob them.”
 
Satan is a thief and a robber, who robs us of victory, peace and joy. But like David and Paul we can overcome. "Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!" (Romans 7:25).

David Kitz is an ordained minister and Bible dramatist with the Foursquare Gospel Church of Canada: http://www.foursquare.ca/ For details on his book and drama ministry visit http://davidkitz.ca/