Thursday, May 31, 2012

Don't Let the Money Burn a Hole in Your hand

It’s funny how kids can take things so literally. As far as the Title of my blog, my father used to say that to me. He had worded the quote wrong. It actually says “Don’t Let the Money Burn a Hole in Your Pocket.” I can remember though, when he handed me some coins, I was unsure if I should or should not spend them. I honestly thought my hand was going to light up into a flame.

This week, on Kingdom Bloggers, we are writing about things money can’t buy.

Ideally, I would like to have the attitude of the Apostle Paul, always being content whether I had plenty or was in want. But hey, I am not there yet.

I have been thinking about what on earth I would write about and the first thing that popped into my mind was my Sobriety. I have been sober since June of 1979. I really don’t think about it a lot but I said YES…that is key for me.

So much of what I enjoy, in my daily life, would be colored differently, if I was not clean and sober. My husband would be affected and perhaps would  have decided not to stay married. If he did, I am sure that his life would be filled with disgust, anger and a futile feeling of wondering why I just couldn’t quit. There would have been a lot of arguing as well.

My children would have suffered greatly in their formative years. I can remember when I was in the Treatment Center, a wise older male counselor, who looked like Yoda (I kid you not), said something to me. He said “You are very fortunate that your children are as young as they are. They probably will not remember your drinking days. “(They were3 and 5 at the time) He kind of gestured to other women and said, “Some of these women have older children that already hate them.” What he said was true, as I have apologized to my children on numerous occasions and they say “Mom, we don’t even remember. And yes mom, we forgive you.”I would say that they have had a decent childhood.

Another area, that would be affected, is my relationship with my grandchildren. I would never be trusted to care for them, as I do. Nor would I be able to drive them in a car.

So…yes…my sobriety is a treasured gift. One of the slogans of AA is “A Grateful Heart is Always Sober”. I am one thankful person, as I believe Alcoholism has a genetic component and some people, that I love, do not yet have the freedom that I do.  Growing up, with it’s influence on our family, it had long standing negative effects.

The second thing, that I know could not have a price put on it, is the ability to walk.

 My dad suffered a devastating stroke towards the end of his life. He was completely paralyzed for about 7 years. To watch him, a fiercely independent man that was physically big in stature and presence, suffer in this way was heartbreaking. As much as it was for us to watch him, I am sure for him, it was a living hell. It affected his limbs, as well as his bodily functions. He became totally dependent on others, as he ended up in a Nursing Home. It became, not a thing that happens to other families, but a reality in our midst. As I result, I could never again take for granted health and mobility.

Lastly, I have been on the Mailing List for the Voice of the Martyrs. Until I received the magazine, I paid a little attention to the plight of these present day martyrs. It was when I received the magazine, saw pictures and read their personal testimonies, that the suffering of many entered my consciousness.

There is an incredible price, in some countries, to pay for belief in the Lord Jesus Christ. I know that we often, in America, will say that we are grateful that we enjoy our freedom of religion, but do we ever think about what we would do in such circumstances? I honestly pray that I would be as committed and brave, but I don’t know.

I do know that I don’t want to be one who says I wish I was more grateful, when we had religious freedom, if it was ever taken away.

I know that doesn’t sound very positive, but as freedoms in our country are slowly eroding, it is something I think about.

It goes without saying that I consider my greatest gift, that money could never buy, is the freedom that the Lord Jesus Christ wrought for me on the Cross

Can we ever be thankful enough for the ultimate sacrifice that Jesus gave for mankind?

Lord, help us to have that truth, ever before us all.

Linda Maynard

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

THE JOY OF DANCE by Jenna Vick Silliman

I wouldn’t trade my dancing with anyone—or sell it. The theme for this week’s writings on Kingdom Bloggers is: “What is something money can’t buy?” Since I have you as my captive audience, I am going to write about my dancing. When I lost 75 pounds back in 2003, I became restless to become more active and that is when I found out I am a dancer. Lately I’ve been dancing about ten to twelve times a week. Here’s a slice of my dancing life.
Sunday mornings at our home church gathering we dance for worshiping God. I arrive early to intercede in prayer and sometimes I use my flags before it gets crowded. We have awesome music playing and we freely move around or sit and soak—whatever suits us at the moment. What a wonderful way to start a week!
I fill my car with five or six teenagers on Sunday nights and drive about a half an hour West to Port Angeles to the Sons of Norway Lodge. At 6:30 is a half hour lesson in Scandinavian Folk Dance and then from 7 to 9 is dancing. Most of the dances we’ve learned are what are called “Mixers” which is couples in circles and you change partners all the way through the song so by the end of the evening you’ve danced with everyone there.
I love Scandinavian Folk Dance because there is lots of spinning. When I twirl I like to raise my hands to heaven and worship God. (In fact, whenever I dance it is an act of worship and giving God thanks and praise.) Spinning releases endorphins, similar to a “runner’s high”. Try it some time! Last Saturday I attended “Folk Life” an annual Folk Dance Festival in Seattle at the Seattle Center by the Space Needle. I danced for about ten hours and with all the spinning I felt high on the ferry on the way home. (We live across the Puget Sound from Seattle, so we take a ferry for a half hour boat ride—which I love!) There were six or seven of us dancers talking and laughing and sharing about our day of dancing and I kept slurring my words I was so high!
On Monday, Wednesday, and Friday I take Zumba at our Recreation Center here in Sequim, Washington. Zumba is dancing routines that incorporate vigorous exercise moves, all set to music of a wide variety. It started out as Latin Dance, but now it is more International. It is fun! I’ve made lots of friends in my Zumba class over the last three years. A bunch of us, some married—some single, go dancing at the casino on Friday or Saturday nights when there is Classic Rock. We just get in a circle and dance and have a blast. We don’t care if we don’t have partners to dance with—we are free to dance to our heart’s content. Of course, I get in as much spinning as I can, when it is not too crowded.
On Monday nights I go to Poulsbo’s Sons of Norway for Scandinavian Folk Dance. They are advanced dancers there and I have learned a lot from them. Most of the teachers are older—in their 60’s and 70’s or some even in their 80’s. It is amazing what good shape they are in. They talk about skiing for a week in Colorado, travels to dance all over the world, and dancing for three to four hours in an evening with no problem.
Tuesday mornings I take tap dance at the Elk’s Club. I feel like Shirley Temple with her shining curls and dimples. I dreamed about being her when I watched her on television as a kid. I can’t have her ringlets or dimples—but I can tap dance like her! Hahaha! Tuesday afternoons I have been teaching children at the Sons of Norway. I volunteered for the job at Christmas time when I saw the need. I love teaching dance! We had a performance a week ago Saturday and it went beautifully. A dozen children and four dances–all in costume. What fun!
Wednesday morning I have Zumba and then my friend Charli and I dress in colorful clothes and go into the nursing homes and visit the elderly. We do sing-a-longs and also dance around, and, of course, spin. I have a collection of colorful, twirly skirts to wear for dancing. The old folks in the nursing homes always enjoy watching us dance around and we talk and laugh with them and give them hugs whenever we can.
Thursday night is home group at our house church, Deep River. We have a potluck dinner, a “dance party”, lots of awesome music, and pray for whatever needs people have, every week.
Friday is Zumba again and, like I said before, on Friday night or Saturday night we will dance at the casino in our town, if there is a good band playing classic rock. It is about once or twice a month we go dancing there.
May has had a lot of dancing on Saturday nights. The first Saturday was Contra Dancing, which is like square dancing in lines. The second Saturday was a Swing Dance and though I don’t know how to dance that way very well, I faked it okay. Hahaha! (I just found out there are Swing Dance classes at the Senior Center, so I will try that this summer.) The next Saturday was an elegant evening of waltz for a fundraiser for the Port Angeles High School Orchestra. Saturday, the 19th of May, in the afternoon, my children’s dance class performed for about 75 people at the Sons of Norway. Then last Saturday was Folk Life in Seattle with ten hours of Folk dancing. Whew! What a dancey month!
          The joy of dance in my life is a treasure beyond price.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Laugh and Sing

As I’ve thought about this blog, I feel a bit like I do on Thanksgiving when we go around the table to say what we are thankful for … Usually, I mutter something about health, and family.  You can hear (and it is just audio, even though it is a video) a sermon I preached once talking about this ritual here.

I don’t suppose I have anything much more original to say today.  It is always those intangibles that really make us happy and satisfied in life.  So to divert from the obvious, let me offer a few things that might bring a little variety to this topic.

Laughter – yes, laughter makes me happy.  I went through a period where I realized I hardly ever laughed.  I have found that over the years, because of circumstances and all the stuff life throws at you, that I had forgotten how to laugh.  Laughter is a gift.  It releases all sorts of happy stuff through your body.  Recently, on my trips back “home” to Brooklyn I have found myself and found my laugh. 

Singing – I love to sing.  I don’t have a bad voice but living in Music City I tend not to offer it as much as I did when I lived in the Northeast where not everyone was a would-be country star.  Singing makes me happy.  Singing lightens my seriousness.  Like laughter, I used to sing a lot. And like laughter, I sort of “lost” this along the way.  Singing also reminds me of my dad who would often break into song and sing about Jesus in our house.  Anything that reminds me of my dad makes me happy too.  

Brooklyn makes me happy.  Okay, so I have already mentioned Brooklyn.  Tt brings things out of me that I thought were lost.  Seriously, there is no place that makes me happier than Brooklyn.  Some internal switch comes on when I am there and I’m alive again!  And while we are talking about Brooklyn, everything about NYC makes me happy, riding the subway, walking through the crowds, street vendors, and don’t forget a Nathan’s Hot Dog bought at Coney Island!

Last but not least, being Norwegian makes me happy.  I just love to embrace my Norwegian heritage.  I love everything about being Norwegian.  Funny, all these go together – while the Norwegians are known for being “jovial”, they do have a strong wit about them, and do like to have a good time with laughter.  And sing? Oh yes, they love to sing!  I remember watching the Olympics when they were in Norway in the 90’s – every time you turned around some group of Norwegians were singing something.  And of course, for me, Brooklyn and Norwegian go together.  You can see a little clip of my recent trip to Brooklyn to celebrate the Syttende Mai (Norwegian constitution day) here.

Okay, maybe these seem trite and they are compared to my husband, kids, faith, health, etc.  But, if you want to see me really happy – come with me to Brooklyn and we’ll laugh and sing.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Money Can't Buy Happiness

The local provincial lotteries have been high; not like American state lotteries, where they can reach over $300+ Million but higher than they often are – sitting around $15-$50+ Million. My Man buys lottery tickets and although I tell him I don’t have the strength of character it would take to steward that kind of win fall well, it’s hard not to imagine what I’d do with a sizeable chunk of money.

But we’ve all heard the old adage, “Money can’t buy you happiness.” I’d like to add, “But I’d like the chance to prove it.” Money aside, we’re sharing the best things money can’t buy this week on Kingdom Bloggers. Come along for our stories and share your own in the comments.


To be honest, I dislike it when people say, “Money can’t buy happiness.” As if the happiest people are always dirt poor. Not true. Money-rich people are happy, and sometimes they are sad and miserable. Dirt-poor people are happy, and sometimes they are sad and miserable, too. It’s not the size of their savings that makes them happy but their attitude toward money that changes things. Having money increases options, but I digress. I’m not on a rant against rich people, nor am I extolling the advantages of poverty. I’ll save that for a later post on my own blog, Write Down the Revelation.

I’m having a hard time writing this. Normally a story or anecdote comes to mind immediately for the proposed theme but I’ve been procrastinating writing this post to the point that it’s already late for my usual posting schedule.

Here’s the list I have so far:
  • Dogs – pretty much anytime I see a dog, I get happy.
  • Laughter – best sound I’ve heard in the world is when my Boy gets the giggles, especially when he was a baby.
  • Time – with my Man, with my family and with my friends, even by myself. I love unrestricted time.
  • Gifts – doesn’t cost me anything and it shows me someone else was thinking about me.
But hands down, the best thing (for me) money can’t buy is living, breathing and operating by the Holy Spirit, given as a deposit of my inheritance for believing Jesus as the Son of God. The Holy Spirit heightens every emotion and every enjoyment, and I love working in tandem with the Holy Spirit to release the presence of God wherever I am.

Last week we talked about evangelism, I couldn’t be bold without the Holy Spirit and I wouldn’t know a thing, apart from the Holy Spirit revealing it to me. Last weekend, I was part of an outreach at a large Canadian rodeo. We had a tent set up with a sign inviting people in for free spiritual readings, dream interpretation or healing. Some Christians get their shorts in a knot at the thought of spiritual readings but it’s an outreach – it’s not for them anyway. We reach the people who would rather go to a psychic than a church.  

More than 300 people streamed through our tent over the weekend - some curious, some desperate, some being goaded by their friends. Every person who said they only had 5 minutes, ended up staying longer because they felt the presence of God, and that my friends, is the best thing in and out of this world. Our team had the privilege of introducing Jesus for the first time to 20+ people. That’s 20+ salvations in one weekend. Amazing. It didn’t cost me a thing but it made me happy.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Taking it to the Streets

My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry. James 1:19, NIV.

When I think of amazing evangelists, people gifted in witnessing to others about the saving reality of Jesus Christ, I don’t think of the biggies like Billy Graham. He is too far up in the stratosphere of superpower evangelism. I think of people closer to my bit of earth, whose love for God is so pure, so radical they exude it. I don’t come close to their level, but I want to keep them close, because being around them is infectious, convicting, and compelling.

Rev. Cherry is a person I just met. He is 78 years old and has been a pastor for over four decades. He parks his car as far from his church as he can on Sundays so he has opportunity to run into people as he walks toward the building, asking them if they know Jesus, inviting them to church. My friend James says he met Rev. Cherry at a barbershop recently, and the pastor was busy making on impact on all the young men in the place.

Susan works tirelessly to love on her section of the city—she and others created a flower garden at a corner that once held weeds and garbage; she and her crew renovated a section of the library, created a beautiful children’s section and began a story time; her block association holds a bike rally and a block party every spring and summer. She also knows the drug dealers in her neighborhood. Susan is slight in build, a harpist, and yet walks right up to these dealers, letting them know she knows what’s happening. They move on.

Michael and Julia are also pastors, but they don’t work for a church. They and their team mentor neglected and disadvantaged city children from the age of 6 and work to get them through high school and then hopefully into college. Every one of the kids they have mentored have graduated from high school. That is an amazing statistic, given the dropout rate in Rochester is abysmally high (in 2011, the graduation rate was 46.1%).

All of these dear people are evangelists and they each do it differently. They live out the scripture from James 1:19 (above)--they listen to God, listen to people, then act. They check the pulse of a hurting community and respond. Behind their ministry is a rock solid faith in the God they serve and they want to touch others with God’s love and the message of salvation. I can’t hold a candle to them: they have poured out their lives very much so like the prophet declares in Micah 6:8, "He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God."

I only hope that as I evangelize in my own distinct way—which includes loving, listening and writing—that I will do so in a way that honors God and honors the people he brings across my path.   

Friday, May 25, 2012

Let Me Introduce You to My Jesus

I am thrilled beyond words that I've been asked to contribute to this purposeful blog.  Thank you so much for the invitation and honor.  I feel I should give a brief background to offer a little insight into my relationship with Christ.  I spent fourteen years of my life being a staff kid.  My father was the business administrator at one of the largest Baptist churches in Arkansas.  I came to accept Jesus as my personal Saviour when I was ten and have grown up with an understanding of the responsibility we all share when it comes to leading others to Christ.

Mark 16:15 ESV    
And he said to them, “Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation..."

As Christians we are created to serve two primary purposes.  The first being to worship and give praise to our Lord Jesus.  The second being to lead others to Christ.  Evangelism was an integral part of our church's foundation and many classes were offered to help teach Christians effective witnessing techniques.  I remember many nights overhearing my parents and their friends practicing and studying their "Evangelism Explosion" notebooks in preparation for the door-to-door visitations which would start upon completion of training.  My parents and their friends memorized verses, knocked on doors, and presented the Gospel to any and all who would listen. My most vivid childhood memory, however, of my mother telling someone about Jesus had nothing to do with a planned presentation.  It happened instead at our local grocery store.  I was about nine years old and standing in the checkout line with her.  A young mother with her two children was standing in front of us frantically trying to count out change for her milk as one of her children was crying inconsolably.  Even I picked up on her distress.  She was coming up short and the cashier was being neither kind nor patient with her.  My mother quietly stepped forward and said, "Let me buy your milk for you in the name of Jesus.  It's what He wants us to do for one another." That tiny snippet in life made a lasting impression and taught me that even in our gestures and actions we are given the opportunity to tell others about our God.  It doesn't have to be a perfectly-scripted scene and we don't have to be Biblical scholars to do the task which is set before us.

In my teenage and adult years I've been blessed by having the experience of getting to pray with several people as they accept Christ.  Sometimes it has been a situation where I feel God telling me very clearly to speak to someone and other times it is more subtle, quiet.  About five years ago I was feeling very convicted that I hadn't lead anyone to the Lord in such a long time.  I told God that morning that if He would open the door for me to speak to someone I'd be more than happy to do so.  I was having a yard sale that particular day and spoke to all of the visitors who came into my yard.  A girl I had never seen before came up to discuss a picture of mine she was wanting to buy and I noticed cuts and scrapes on her arm.  I asked if she was okay and she went into a lengthy story about a car accident she and her child had been in just a few days earlier.  She said to me (and I PROMISE this is exactly how she said it), "It's a good thing we didn't die cause you know I'm not a Christian and all..."  My mouth literally fell open.  Are you kidding me, God?!  I get the message loud and clear!  I asked her to wait for a second, turned around and marched into my house, came back outside with my Bible, and read John 3:16 to her. Sitting right there on my white porch swing this sweet girl prayed to receive Christ.  I was so happy for her and thrilled that God had so clearly set this up.  As Christians we are happiest and have the most joy when are living in the fullness of His plan for us.  I was so thankful to know that in that moment the fullness of His plan for me that day was being accomplished.

Several years ago I was praying for a friend who was very ill, dying in fact.  In an effort to coordinate her friends and family from across the country I decided to start a Facebook prayer group for her.  Through no reason other than the amazing power of Jesus this prayer group in less than a week grew to over 800 members.  People my friend didn't even know from all over the world were praying for her.  God healed my friend and allowed this wonderful prayer group to become the foundation for "Church Without Walls (the not-so-small small group)" on Facebook.  I described it as an "uncommon common ground for people to meet on Facebook" and encouraged people to "check their denominations at the door".  It serves as a place to meet and leave prayer requests and share testimonies of what God is doing in their lives.  After seeing God move through the prayer group in such a palpable way it was obvious that His work needed to continue.  This group has been life changing for me in ways that I never even expected.  I realized a new-found accountability to the people I was writing to through the devotions and songs on that site.  When Jesus is speaking through us and using us as a tool we must be sure that we are living up to that privilege.  I've had days of struggle with this, days I didn't feel "worthy", but the beauty of the Lord is that He is always loving, always accepting.  He died for us and wants to spend eternity with us.  That's the Jesus I want people to get to know.  In the age of social media we are able to reach miles beyond where our legs could carry us.  That's one reason I get so amped up about groups like Kingdom Bloggers.  I can't imagine a more productive use of the Internet than bringing people into His kingdom.

We are called to share the good news of our Lord through our word and our actions.  Whether it be face to face, on the phone, or through the computer God wants to use each of us as His mouthpiece.  Pray that He will provide the opportunity.  I promise He will bring it to you.

The reason it hurts so much to separate is because our souls are connected. ~Nicholas Sparks

Since the very beginning of Kingdom Bloggers, I've enjoyed my time each week to reflect on the weekly topic and share through written words a peek through a window at who I actually am. You've gotten the good, the bad and the way ugly at times. Such is real life.

I can only hope that somehow through the 127 post to date I've been able to convey just how much I need and love Jesus. For me, post number 129 on this blog won't be for a short while...but it will come. Thanks to the gracious understanding of my fellow Kingdom Bloggers, I will be taking a undetermined sabbatical to focus on a few ongoing projects. You can see a few of them in the picture. How lucky can one man be?

Connecting with you has been a blessing beyond measure for me. Over 100 people read this blog each day, and I may know who a dozen of you actually are. Doesn't matter. God has brought us together for a reason...His reason.

Nothing makes the earth seem so spacious as to have friends at a distance; they make the latitudes and longitudes. ~Henry David Thoreau

I have asked my friend Amanda Silvers to fill my Friday spot. Amanda and I connected in the mid-90's through my friendship with her dear, dear mother. Our paths have crossed on and off for years, but my affection for her and her family have remained constant. Thanks to the wonders of social media, we've reconnected more consistently, and I'm blessed and better because of it.

Amanda is a gifted writer and a spirited soul. She loves Jesus and isn't afraid to say she does. You will find her writing style 'user friendly' with a depth that is thought provoking and always genuine. God put Amanda on my heart when I decided to step out for a bit...and that's all the real reason I need to endorse her arrival with enthusiasm.

Thanks for letting me share with you the past few years. I will still be posting periodically on my personal blog at Tony C Today. When I do return (and I promise to do so), I hope to see Kingdom Bloggers up to 300 or more daily readers. As's about Him...never about us.

May God pour blessing on each of you in a mighty way, and I always appreciate your prayers.

In Christ Love,
Tony C

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Evangelism? Isn't That What Other People Do?

“Be ready to speak up and tell anyone who asks why you are living the way you are and always with the utmost courtesy”… 1 Peter 3:15…The Message
“Let your speech message, at all times, be gracious [pleasant and winsome] seasonal [as it were] with salt so that you may never be at a loss, to know how you ought to answer anyone [who puts a question to you] Colossians 4:16… The Amplified Bible

I have never been one who takes to doing “formulas”. So, for me use, for example, the Four Spiritual Laws format to present the gospel, would not be my way. (Note: there is absolutely nothing it, as it presents the clearly and succinctly.)
I was listening to a Christian radio station and a woman Dr/Author was discussing a portion of her book about evangelism. I caught the last 4 methods she mentioned.
1) Using apologetics
2) Giving practical aid to people and people groups, say in a disaster, and then presenting the gospel to them
3) Building relationships with people and then over time, talking about your faith
4) Going to their place of worship…discussing the differences between Christianity and their beliefs, while allowing them to keep their beliefs.
I disagree with this one, as I thought."How is that presenting the truth? The truth of the cross of Jesus Christ and that He is fully God and fully man? Many religions acknowledge Him as a great prophet, but do not consider Him, fully God and fully man. Where does that leave the central truth of Christianity of the cross of Jesus Christ and why He died? I couldn't believe that was even being presented as an option.”
I would not use apologetics as I do not feel qualified to do so. Even if I could, this method could become confrontational, which isn’t my nature.
So giving practical aid and or building relationships seem the most reasonable to fit my personality.
In addition, years ago, I had heard about people approaching strangers and either giving them a personal word from the Lord or asking them if you could pray for them in general or for healing. The more I heard about this method and the results people reported that they were getting, I said “Lord, I want to do that!”I have had numerous times that I have acted on what I felt was the leading of the Holy Spirit. It is scary (every time) but I still go ahead. I mean what do I have to lose? I know that I could face people’s mocking and anger, which I haven’t as of yet. Yet, I fully realize that I probably will encounter such, in the future. But will I be willing to pay that cost, so that another can be saved and spend eternal life with the Lord?
I heard a testimony of a well known Pastor in South Korea. He had been previously been presented with the gospel message and held disdain for the message and the messengers.
The thing that broke through to him was a young girl who wept, as she told him, unless he received the message of eternal life, that he would be eternally lost. Her heart, that was so in tune with the heart of God, broke through this man’s hard shell.
There has been something on my mind for a long time. I was brought up in a traditional denomination. Some of my family still attends the church that I did. Others fell away and don’t attend church. They probably still believe in God, but must be disillusioned, as to how church is relevant to them.
I am pretty sure most of them would acknowledge that they know ABOUT Jesus, just as I did. But hopefully would realize that I don't KNOW HIM.
So on that premise, I thought of writing a letter to them to talk about how I came to be “Born Again” (that very scary word for them). When you think of it, it's our own personal testimony. No one can ever take away. People can argue “points” and have opinions but they can never take away what we have lived.
Billy Graham once said that the majority of people (the % was very high) come to a personal relationship with the Lord, through people that they know. There is that relational aspect, whether by family, friendship or taking the time to build a friendship.
We'll see what happens. I will report on any response that I get. I must follow through, as the Holy Spirit won’t let me dismiss it. Oh yes, I am cognizant that they may be put off by it and just as Jesus says that a Prophet does not have honor with his own people.
My family, so far aren't even sure what to call what Linda is involved in. It is rather humorous in that some in my family hold the attitude of " Oh yes...that's Linda...she has had some heartaches, along the way. We see how SHE "needs" religion."
Maybe using the letter method is a copout. It is the best that I can offer for now. I know is that I cannot leave the earth, knowing that I haven’t put the effort in, for the people I love.
 I have to admit, I wish my passion was as deep as that young South Korean girl. I DO know that Jesus desires my family to KNOW HIM and the longing in His heart is deep.
I can picture Him weeping for them, can you?

Linda Maynard

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Visiting Jesus by Jenna Vick Silliman

Charli & Jenna at Sherwood Nursing Home

Every week my friend, Charli, and I go into several nursing homes to visit the elderly. We carry in with us some joy, laughter, singing, dancing, and a breath of fresh air. We wear colorful clothing and fun costumes and we go into the “Special Needs” unit where they are locked in. They are imprisoned two ways, by those doors, with their numbered codes, and by dementia and/or Alzheimers. Usually they respond to our cheery “Good morning!” with a blank stare.

Jesus said, “When you visit people in prison and when you visit the sick and bedridden, you are visiting Me.” (Adapted from Matthew 25.) Wouldn’t you like to visit Jesus today? The elderly in nursing homes would love to see you!  

Thomas is one of the men we see each week. At first he doesn’t seem to hear you when you talk to him or even know you are there when you touch his hand. When we start singing some fun songs, like ‘Take Me Out to the Ball Game’ or ‘Oh Susanna’ some of the elderly will sing along right away, but not Thomas. He is in an advanced state of Alzheimers—trapped inside his mind and unable to have much interpersonal communication with others any more. One day we were singing our national anthem. We were almost done with the song, when I noticed Thomas was mouthing the words. Since he is hard of hearing, I knelt down by him and began to sing loudly.

“Oh say does that star-spangled banner yet shine…” Thomas continued to move his mouth and we began to hear his voice for the first time. By the last line he joined us in a full deep voice, “…And the home of the brave.” He not only was singing, he had lost his blank look and you could see in his eyes he was present and “back” with us for awhile. I stayed right close to him and we sat face to face. Thomas asked, “Do you visit often?” I told him we would be back next Wednesday to do some more singing with him. He said, “I will be here.” We laughed. His face relaxed and we chatted for a few more minutes. We sang a few more songs together. He seemed to know the patriotic songs, so I asked about his military career. He loved telling me about it. Thomas was out of prison for a little while. This is called, “Entry”. He had entered the present for a while.

The Alzheimers patient may not remember what he had for breakfast, but he will remember words to songs and know all the verses too! They have taught us words to songs and even extra verses we didn’t know about. If they played an instrument, you might see their hands moving as if they played their instrument.
Very few of these patients ever have visitors. I had one of the activity directors tell me that over 90% never have anyone come in to visit. One exception is Kay. Kay is 97 and her sister, Marguerite, is 90 and she visits her sister a couple times a week. They gave me permission to post their photograph and tell their story. They were not very close when they were young because of the difference in their ages. As they got older that changed. When you are an adult, seven years is not such a big deal. They became close friends and lived together in North Western Washington State after their husbands passed away. When we arrived Marguerite was passive and unresponsive. I noticed her “entry” as we sang an old favorite song, “We ain’t got a barrel of money, sometimes we’re ragged and funny, but we’re travelin’ along, singin’ a song, side by side.”

Marguerite rested her head back on the head rest of her wheel chair and looking right in my eyes she said, “Ah! I like that song. Would you sing it again?” It is hard to sing when you’re crying, but I managed to swipe at my eyes and take a couple of deep breaths so I could sing the verse. (This verse was actually taught to me by a man named Jefferey in another nursing home we visit.)

They’ve all had their quarrels and parted,
But we’re still the same as we started.
We’re travelin’ along,
Singin’ our song,
Side by side!

When her younger sister, Marguerite, came in to visit after Kay and I had been singing together, she was delighted to have time with her dear sister while she was “present”. She wheeled her off quickly to enjoy some conversation. She smiled at me and said, “Thank you!” It makes me so happy to remember this and spurs me on to do more sing-a-longs in nursing homes.

A woman named Doris was always very grouchy. She often asked us to leave or said mean things like, “You’re not singing that right—I think it is time for you to leave!” One day I noticed her hands moving as if she was leading a choir. I invited her up front and she lit up. As she led us in singing, as our choir director, she relived some happy memories when she was doing what she loved. Not only was she joyful and cheerful, she was present…let out of her prison for a little while. Doris died not too long ago and we miss her every week. It makes me happy to think we gave her some joy and fun to lead us in singing in the last days of her life. I know Jesus was smiling too!

May I encourage you to go into a nursing home and visit the elderly? Remember you are visiting Jesus!

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

How can I pray for you?

As a kid, I felt a duty to share the gospel.  The church I attended had regular street meetings and a "tract" rack in the narthex.  By the time I got to high school, I knew how to execute the "Roman Road."  I've shared a lot of this before here on Kingdom Bloggers.  Starting with ninth grade (which for me was still in Junior High) I became a member of HiBA - which stood for High School Born Againers.  As a member of HiBA, we had a vinyl red bible cover.  It was BRIGHT red.  For it's time, it wasn't a bad cover - but basically it was just a piece of what we once called oil cloth.  You covered your bible the same way you covered your books - a fold her and a fold there and slip it over the edges.

In stark white to standout against the bright red were the words, "THE WORD OF GOD."  Our "witnessing" technique was to carry our bible (covered in red) always on top of all of our text books.  I came remember feeling obliged to carry it, but somehow, I often slipped it to the bottom of my books.  Also, we had no lockers in that high school in Brooklyn NY.  That meant every textbook we owned was carried all day long and while hanging from the strap (for those of you who never road a city bus that is a strap that hangs down from a bar for you to hold on to while standing on a crowded bus) shifting arms because of the weight of that huge world history book, the math book, etc.

I remember going door to door too - just like the Mormons and the Jehovah Witnesses Andrea spoke of yesterday.  We'd knock on the door and go for the "sell."  That came when we had them repeat the sinners prayer.  A summer of witnessing was how I spent a hot summer between 8th and 9th grade.  It was funny, though we counted literally thousands of "decisions," I saw no difference in the attendance at church. Hmmm

I think that was where I first realized that these methods, while well intentioned, don't usually work.  While some may think me a heretic, I'm also not crazy about the repeat after me, say the sinner's prayer, and now your saved business either.  I've been on the other end of that situation too - I've had people come to my door and I had to convince them I knew Jesus - it wasn't easy!  I guess they wanted another notch in their salvation belt.  Okay, I know that was a bit sarcastic!

Recently I think I saw what does work.  I had read that a church I once attended had started going door to door - not for the "sell" but simply to say, is there something you would like me to pray for, for you.  Last week I was with a new friend in Memphis.  I've been with people before that asked their servers at a restaurant if they wanted prayer.  It doesn't always rub me the right way either.  But last week, it was different.

My new friend asked the server who had already shared with us that it was her first day on the job if she wanted prayer for anything.  As it came out of her mouth, it was so natural.  She simply said, "we are getting ready to thank God for our food, is there something we can pray for, for you."  Stunned, she said my new job. Then seeing our concern and sincerity (that's a key) she started telling us she had recently finished cancer treatment, she was new in Memphis, and seemed so touched that we cared enough to pray.

As we left, we decided we wanted a picture of our meeting.  My new friend found another young employee to snap the pictures - a young man this time.  As we thanked him, she said is there anything we can pray about for you?  Smiling he shared that he was trying to turn his life around and he needed all the prayer he could get.  Then he said, my mother's prayers have brought me this far, she is always praying for me.

We assured him we'd join in her mother's prayers.  I need to develop this skill.  It is so like Jesus.

This got me to thinking.  Did Jesus ever ask anyone if they were saved?  Did they keep the law?  Except for the "Rich Young Ruler" I can't think of anyone, can you?  Instead, you read over and over, that Jesus being "moved with compassion" healed the sick, touched the leper, forgave the sinner, and broke bread with them.  I think I like asking if I can point someone to Jesus who is more than able to do the same for them today, as He did then, is the best way to evangelize.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Can I Tell You Something?

Are you an evangelist? The word might strike fear in the hearts of many; some may make an excuse that they aren’t called to be an Evangelist or they say they’re style is more friendship evangelism – the only problem is many work on the friendship but leave out the evangelism.

The truth is, whether we like it or not, we have a responsible to a dying world to give them hope for a future. Those of us in a relationship with Jesus know how incredible and personal it is and everything we say and do should flow from that relationship. In him we live and move and have our being (Acts 17:28)

This week on Kingdom Bloggers we are sharing innovative ways to share the gospel Jesus preached, which is the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand. How do you share the gospel message?    


I offer reviews – on books, on products, on experiences. I write online or verbally offer my opinions. I’ve been known to butt my head into a conversation by strangers if I hear them making a consideration in a store of certain products I’m familiar with. I live with the philosophy, “If it’s good for me, it’s good for others.” Jesus is good for me, and I know he’s good for others.

The problem is many people have only heard about Jesus and they didn’t like the execution of the sales pitch, because it felt like a sales pitch. I don’t like to be preached at, and I don’t suppose others like it any better. That’s why I leave the convincing to the Holy Spirit, I simply create an atmosphere where the Holy Spirit is welcomed and leave the presentation to the man himself – Jesus.

I love outreach but my outreach is different in the past few years than it was previously. Before I would feel it was my job to make compelling arguments to convince the mind – Jesus wants to touch the heart. Change the heart and the attitudes change. It’s simple.

When Mormons or Jehovah Witnesses come to my door, I invite them in – not to debate but to develop a relationship. We establish that we are both people of faith and I invite them to share their testimony. I don’t debate, and I don’t go to Scripture (although I know Scripture, I am not trained as the young missionaries are to debate). When they have told me their testimony, then I can share my testimony. I never make them feel like “me vs. them”.

For example, the last time Mormons came to my house, I shared with them that I do what they do – street evangelism. At this point, they are still smiling. Then I start to explain I call them treasure hunts and I explain what they are. God gives me clues, such as names of people, or what they are wearing, and then I get words of knowledge about areas in their life that are difficult (physical or emotional pain). When I find the treasure God wants to touch, I approach them and start a conversation, asking them about the areas in their life the Lord showed me.

As I explain this, I am inclusive with the young missionaries and speak as if I assume they share my experiences. Of course they don’t and I start to see their smiles shift a little. It’s a beautiful thing because I know the Holy Spirit is at work. Then I ask if I can pray (and I have been given favour and grace to pray with some Jehovah Witnesses as well). I simply invite the Holy Spirit to touch them in the same way I feel and know the Holy Spirit.

I make it a habit – a lifestyle – to ask the Lord when I go out, who does he want to connect with and I keep my eye open, ready to act when the Holy Spirit prompts. When I see someone highlighted, my “pick-up line” is, “Hey there, I’m Andrea. Can I tell you something?” I’ve NEVER heard a no response to my question. When I’m given the go ahead, I proceed I encourage them with the words God gave me to share. Sometimes I pray, sometimes I don’t. I’ve been asked if I’m a psychic or if I’m reading their thoughts, and I simply tell them God loves them and knows them and I wanted to share something with them that will encourage them so I ask God who to look for and what to say.

I love to see how people are lit up because Jesus came near. And the best part is I don’t have to convince anyone, my job is to be a witness, not a sales person.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

The Promise of Peace

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

I know a few people who exude peace. Most of us are giving out piece, not peace: a piece of us here, a piece of us there, as we hurry to accomplish all that we have piled on our proverbial plate.

Stress and anxiety will rob us of peace. Life’s traumas and trials will do the same. 

I have struggled since our move in 2010 to be less stressed, more at peace. Life’s circumstances have not made that very easy: concerns about those I love, underemployed, college bills to pay, and a list of other things that continue to hinder a more peaceful heart.

Peace is not something we can “work up.” A frenzy, yes; peace? Not so much.  Yet, peace is a promise, a gift, a blessing.  God desires to give us His peace and desires us to live in peace with one another. It is not God who is responsible for a lack of peace--humans are (and a devil who loves to rob us of all good gifts from God).

In my experience, true peace only comes through trusting God who is Shalom (peace). In the scripture from Numbers 6, God has told Moses that this blessing is to be spoken over the people of Israel. Israel had just suffered through 400 years of bondage in Egypt, had a miraculous though harrowing escape, and had placed their faith in God (and their leader, Moses) to lead them out to a promised land.

This blessing shows not only the character of God, but also His promise: He will bless, He will keep (protect, provide), He gives grace and care, and He gives peace (shalom) to His people. This is an unconditional blessing to those who belong to Him. This is not a promise that bad things won’t happen to His people, but a promise that He will always be present with His care, grace and peace.

He turns His face to me and sees me, loves me, even when I am struggling or even failing. Every day, He reminds me “from whence cometh my help” (Psalm 23): from Him. Shalom. 

Friday, May 18, 2012

I know my Daddy...and I love Him completely.

I'm going to ask you to suspend, for just a moment, our current cultural climate where gender equality is the norm. That was no where close to the cultural circumstances in biblical times. As a matter of fact, gender equality in certain societal aspects is a relatively new concepts on the timeline scale of history.

Now before my brilliant and lovely female Kingdom Blogger co-writers cut me off at the knees, please hear me out. I'm not saying the patriarchal dominant ways of the past are completely right or even a preference... that's just the way they were. God established the system, and in typical fashion, man has abused that system.

I say all that (reluctantly) to get to my answer on this week's topic of the title I use when addressing God on a personal level from the many names He carries.

"'Abba, Father,' he said, 'everything is possible for you. Take this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.'" (Mark 14:36)

When Jesus was conversing with the Father in Gethsemane, He used the Aramaic term 'Abba' that expresses best the relationship between a small child and father.  A term of endearment akin to our word daddy. Why? Wasn't Jesus in fact God too?

Of course, the answer to that is absolutely Jesus was both man and God. We see His example of prayer throughout the New Testament as a demonstrative measure of how we should picture our own relationship with God. Also keep in mind, this was completely a foreign concept to the Jews. To refer to God in such an intimate fashion would have been considered blasphemous and disrespectful for a culture that didn't even mutter His name at all out of deep respect...and religious tradition naturally.

When Jesus provides the instruction in Matthew (Lord's Prayer) and then follows up with numerous examples from His own prayers with the Father, He is given us the true picture of how God wants our relationship to be with Him. He is our provider, protector and comforter...just as our earthly father should be when we are but children. Fact of the matter is even if our relationship with our biological father goes south, we always have our Abba Father. He promises to never leave or forsake us.

I can think of no better role model to exemplify in my own role as a father. I call out to my Abba Father quite frequently...He is and always will be my Daddy.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Why Hearing Father Say, “I See You!” Can Be a Good Thing.

This week on Kingdom Bloggers, we have been asked to write on the name or characteristic of God that has been prominent in our lives, as of late.

For me, I have encountered El Roi…the God who sees.

Hagar, in Genesis 16, is actually the one who speaks out His name as such. She is said to be the only one in scripture that has named God through her experience.

According to the story, she was the maidservant of Sarai, (later Sarah) the wife of Abram (later Abraham).
Abram has been promised by the Lord, that he would have so many descendents that would form many nations. This didn’t happen quickly enough in Sarai’s eyes. There was a big problem in that, his wife, Sarai was not getting pregnant.  She decided to orchestrate the answer. (Not like we would do anything like that, would we?)

She speaks to her husband and tells him to take Hagar and become intimate with her. Hagar does conceive. Soon after, Hagar starts to treat Sarai with disdain. Sarai eventually sends her packing.

While Hagar is in the desert, she encounters the angel of the Lord. After the conversation, in which the angel tells her to return and to submit to Sarai, Hagar calls God…El Roi…the God who sees.

Up until then, she may have felt very alone. Her thoughts probably went something like this. “Hey, is there anybody up there? Does anybody care what happens to me? It’s not like it’s my fault alone. Besides Sarai treat me bad,”

In this, I can relate to Hagar. Even though she was rejected and thrown out, was it all her fault?  Did she bear some blame? The Lord acknowledges her and in that encounter, she has the assurance that the Lord has knowledge of her predicament. Yet, He tells her to return to Sarai and submit to her.

Sometimes that is all we need to know, even when we don’t like the direction, is that God is with us.
He sees us…
…when we privately pour out our worship to Him
…when we sacrifice, in secret, for Him
…when we have been mistreated and misunderstood
…when we have been falsely accused
…when we think we are “hiding” our “stuff” from Him
…when we think that no one cares or takes notice

We need to know that for today, for our yesterdays and for our tomorrows.

He knows what is going on, what went on and what will go on. He hasn’t lost track of our life.
He doesn’t, one day, go “And you are______??? Your face looks familiar, but I can’t place you. You see I have so many children.”

No, He promises never to leave us or forsake us…ever.

We can take confidence that He sees us when we’re sleeping…He knows when we’re awake…He knows when we’ve been good or bad…so be good for goodness sake!”

Having Him see us when we are obeying Him, is the easy part. We don’t do that for brownie points, but rather because we want to please and honor Him.  But what about the times that we are out of His will?  If we have a foundation, of knowing that His nature is to lead us into paths of righteousness… not to catch us but to give us freedom and life, it may be hard but we’ll be OK...

I was shaken recently, by an incident in which I got a traffic summons. I was not happy with myself, that I made a dumb mistake. But I got caught and I was at fault.

It was suggested to me, to make a call to someone who could “take care of this ticket”. What saddened me is that this person and others, who were mature Christians, justified that type of action as being OK. That came along with the attitude that “everyone does it…no big deal” They almost looked like they pitied me because I said “No…I don’t feel comfortable doing that. I deserved the ticket. That’s not right.”

When did it become OK to justify this behavior in the sight of God? I am pretty sure that these same people would say a sin… is a sin …is a sin, in other circumstances. Somehow, to them, this doesn’t apply to the standard of lying. Lying, according to the Word, is something that the Lord hates.

When I thought about it further, the fault, in my opinion, would not only be laid at the feet of the person who asked for this “favor” but at the official who would grant it.

I even had someone say something like “Well, Jesus offered mercy at the Cross and we deserved punishment.”

Huh? How could someone even say this is the same?

El Roi…He is the God who sees the truth. Yes, He is the God who sees when I have been treated unfairly or wrongly. Yet, He is also the God who sees when I try to find a way to skirt around the truth.

I have to be honest, for a split second, I listened to the voice saying “Oh, come on, God didn’t REALLY say you couldn’t do this…did He? Besides, you know, this is an expensive proposition and money is tight! Think of this as a blessing!  And everyone does do things like this. It’s not like you are bribing anyone. Come on, lighten up.”

The Lord does not act like Big Brother, waiting in the shadows to catch us, but His truth ALWAYS brings Life…NO EXCEPTIONS!

And that is either true for us or not.

We decide.

 It is that mysterious gift called free will.

Linda Maynard

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

My Beloved Jesus by Jenna Vick Silliman

One morning right at dawn, I prayed about a money matter. The Lord Jesus spoke to my heart, “I will provide for you, my beloved.” I was stunned. Could this be God talking to me in such an intimate way? Yes! He did provide for that need and He has continued to speak to me in this sweet, endearing way. Now I answer back, “My Beloved Jesus.”

‘My Beloved’ reveals the intimacy and close, personal, love relationship that the Lord Jesus wants us to have with Him. He desires us to be so close that we are one with Him in the perfect bond of unity—His awesome love. In John 17 we read about Jesus praying that we would be one.

Jesus also said, This IS eternal life, to KNOW ME. (See John 17:3) This word ‘know’ means to intimately know—as Adam knew Eve. Knowing Him, loving Him, and living the abundant life He freely gives us, is what LIFE is all about.
In 2 Thessalonians 2:13 and Psalm 127:2, as well as the beautiful Song of Solomon, we learn we are also the beloved of the Lord. His love for us is beyond our wildest dreams and is so tenderhearted and full of grace and mercy and lovingkindness. He longs for us to return His love. When we turn to Him with love filled hearts we are right where we are supposed to be. This is the love relationship we were created for and nothing, absolutely nothing, is sweeter!

“My Beloved” is found throughout the Song of Solomon. See Song of Solomon 2:10-12, “My beloved spoke, and said to me: ‘Rise up, my love, my fair one and come away. For lo, the winter is past, the rain is over and gone. The flowers appear on the earth; the time of singing has come…Come away!’” See also Song of Solomon 3:6, “I am my beloved’s and He is mine and His banner (or flag) over me is love.”

A sense of belonging is one of the strongest human needs. To be awakened to this deep, personal, love relationship with Jesus as my Lord and Savior, and to belong to Him, is the greatest gift I’ve ever been given. He is not just a person I know about—I know Him and commune with Him in an intimate love relationship. To me Jesus is not just THE Beloved, He is MY Beloved. I am not just A beloved, I am HIS beloved!

Your beloved is someone you want to always be with and you can’t live without. Your beloved is always taken into consideration and is your confidant, your soul mate, your favorite, and your lives are intertwined to the point you couldn’t imagine separation. The Lord is so much who I am and has become my everything. My life would be nothing without Him.

There is a false idea that another person can fill this place inside us, the deepest longing of the human heart. Only the Lord’s Holy Spirit can satisfy this desire. Humans turn to materialism or addictions, such as food and drink, drugs and alcohol to satisfy them. Nothing and no one truly satisfies except the presence of the Lord!

The truth is found in God’s Word. Luke 6:21, “Blessed are you who seek Him, for you shall be satisfied.” Psalm 107:9, “He satisfies the longing soul.” Psalm 24:14, “The secret of the sweet satisfying companionship of the Lord have they who revere and worship Him.” Psalm 36:8, “We are satisfied and we relish and feast on the abundance You provide us.” Isaiah 58:11 “The Lord shall guide you continually and satisfy you…you shall be like a well-watered garden and like a spring of water.” Jer. 31:14 “My people will be satisfied with My goodness says the Lord.” Is.55:2,3 “Why do you spend your money on that which is not satisfying? …Let your soul delight in My abundance…then you’ll be satisfied.” Phil.4:11 “I have learned how to be content [satisfied]…”

When we live in day to day and minute by minute intimacy with our Beloved Jesus, our lives become an overflow of His love, kindness, grace, peace, and joy. His Presence affects all of our relationships in a powerful way. When we engage in fellowship, seek a mate, or minister side by side, we will find kindred spirits with His Presence evident in their lives. A husband and wife in love with Jesus first and overflowing with His Holy Spirit, is the way God created marriage to be!

St. Francis of Assisi was known for having a life-changing love affair with Christ. He was called “the second Christ” because his life was so totally given over to the Lord Jesus. What can we learn from this man so devoted to the Lord? Love the Lord as your beloved, as your one and only, as your first love. Chesterton wrote: “He [St. Francis] did not love Christianity but Christ.” A personal, intimate love relationship with Christ is what Christianity is all about.

I love You with all my heart and soul, Lord Jesus, my Beloved. You are my 24/7 love affair! In Your presence, my Beloved, is joy everlasting. A day in Your courts, in Your presence, is better than a thousand outside. Thank You for the gift of Your sweet, satisfying presence. Thank You for loving me, My Beloved Lord Jesus.