And for your viewing pleasure....The Fountains of Bellagio!
So I'm flying out to Vegas for meetings this week, and it just crosses my mind -- how do clouds stay up in the air? I know, I know, I should have just slept, but it crossed my mind. I'm sure it has something to do with density or science stuff and if somebody knew and explained it I could understand. It was just a nice pondering.
And I LOVE to fly. The whole process never ceases to amaze me and I always feel physically closer to heaven. But those long flights on a FULL plane can be a little rough. I prefer the window - I like to see where I'm going. And my boss takes the aisle -- and a UPS pilot took the center. He's originally from Greece.
The meetings this week are two-fold. The first couple of days are a training - "Achieving Breakthrough Results" (ABR). The third day is marketing meetings with the ad agencies and franchisees. Now this ABR training is wrapped around "triangular thinking." The book "Business Beyond the Box, Applying Your Mind for Breathrough Results," written by John O'Keefe of Procter & Gamble is what is driving the methods. I got about half of the book read on the flight over.
Here's a few snippets of the book I liked:
- There's only one reason you would give up several years of your life, there's only one reason you go to the Olympics, there's only one aim for each of hte top teams there, and that's GET GOLD.
- Performance in the past shouldn't be allowed to interfere with setting goals for the future. No individual or team preparing for the Olympics lets the performance last time dictate the goal this time. They dissociate themselves from the past and create their own future.
- Simply gaining information on your competitor is like studying all the muscles and armor of Goliath. All that will do is make your organization paralyzed as it learns how strong Goliath is. Instead, study how David beat Goliath and use that knowhow.
Now, I'm not sure if this guy is a Christian or not, but I can see how a lot of this can be applied to minstry. The goals would be different, but method and concept would work. Be interesting to try out.
One more little thing. I found this online Spiritual Gifts Assessment from Southland Christian in Lexington, KY. It's cool cause it adds up your answers and spits out the results right there.
He talks about Jesus' attitude of forgiveness from Matthew, "In My greatest hour of need, My closest friends deserted Me. Judas betrayed Me, Peter denied Me, and the rest fled for their lives. Only John followed from afar. I had cared for them for over three years, feeding them and teaching them. Yet as I died for the sins of the world, I forgave. I released all of them - from My friends who had deserted Me to the Roman guard who had crucified Me. They didn't ask for forgiveness, yet I Freely gave it. I had faith in the Father's love...I knew that because I had sown love I would reap love from many sons and daughters of the kingdom. Because of My sacrifice of love, they would love Me..."
Bevere goes on to talk from his own experience of sowing love - that the love he was giving was being sown to the Spirit, eventually reaping the seeds of love. And not seeing it as a failure when love wasn't returned from the person he was giving it to. He states, "If more Christians recognized this, they wouldn't give up and become offended...We walk in a selfish love that is easily disappointed when our expectations are not met...We set ourselves up for offense when we require certain behaviors from those with whom we have relationships. The more we expect, the greater the potential offense."
Ok - I can somewhat agree with the "more we expect..." aspect. However, to infer that Jesus has no expectations of us I believe is wrong. First - He already knows the outcome. He KNEW what everyone around Him was going to do. How HARD would that be to go through on a daily basis -- to live in a perpetual deja vu state is as close as I could imagine. He already KNEW to not have expectations of us. Second - He knows we can't do it alone. We have to come to Him, accept Him as Savior of our lives and be given the gift of the Holy Spirit to even try to walk right. Third - He does have expectations of us...to accept Him and His forgiveness, to turn from our sins ("go and sin no more"), to become more like Him in our sanctification process, to have a relationship with Him first and foremost in our lives, to love others as ourselves, etc. There are expectations in that. So I'll take his point a step further - when we don't do what Jesus expects, are we offending Him? Or because, as John Bevere believes, Jesus has no expectations of us he is not offended, but cherishes anything He can get? Personally, I've discovered that Jesus wants ALL of me - not just what he can get. And I believe he was sad long ago because I have at times set Him aside in my life. Of course He loves us unconditionally - He proved that on the cross. But loving unconditionally does not mean He doesn't get disappointed at times with me or that He doesn't have expectations for me to live out.
Bevere goes on to another point that has no balance: when we're offended we build walls of protection. "The focus of offended Christians is inward and introspective. We guard our rights and personal relationships carefully. Our energy is consumed with making sure no future injuries will occur. If we don't risk being hurt, we cannot give unconditional love. Unconditional love gives others the right to hurt us." And by building walls, deception can creep in, and he goes on to talk about believing false prophets.
Ok - yes, I have built my fair share of walls in life. However, I have worked with the Holy Spirit to break those down. I think my self-esteem is the last frontier... But what about a healing process? I've also being reading some writings of Cloud & Townsend, "Safe People," and Dr. Cloud's "Changes that Heal." These fellas are all about the healing process. They also wrote the "Boundaries" series. What these guys write conflicts with Bevere's opinion (at least so far since Bevere doesn't really talk about healing from hurt). I brought this up in our group -- is there a difference between setting a boundary for healing and building a wall?
I've recently gone through some relationship challenges. And I admit, before the main confrontation event of one experience, I had expectations of being accepted, being invited, being involved, being a part of the group. After the "meeting" I've set some boundaries. I've sacrificed what I thought was a pretty good friendship because I don't want to bring someone else down by my reaching out too much for acceptance (beware: sometimes that's offensive to others). And I've tried to not have expectations of being accepted, involved, etc... But the hurt is still there. Forgiveness is not even an issue. That was granted on all parties I believe, at least I know on my part it has been. I love these people too much not to. But healing is a process - and when someone is being healed, they need to BE LOVED because GIVING LOVE is not going to come out right. It's almost as if your cup o'luv is empty and you need some help filling it back up. (Jesus is good for that - in spades!) But because I am not an all-knowing, all-loving deity, I have to have a healing process before the unconditional love concept can kick in.
When Bevere states that "unconditional love gives others the right to hurt us..." to me that's just crazy. No one should have the RIGHT to hurt you. Unconditional loves opens us up to being hurt, yes...but no one should be given the RIGHT to hurt someone.
Have I reached out since the meeting? Not to those involved, but I have to others. My boundary is that if those who had issues with me do not want to have relationship with me - that's their choice. But I know my need for bonding with others is vital to get through this earthly life while living alone, and I will continue to reach out. If I get my hand slapped, so be it.
Thank God for Jesus. Thank God Almighty for the absolute truth of Jesus, His love, His sacrifice on the cross for my sins, His forgiveness, His giving me the RIGHT to be His child when I accepted Him. Praise the Lord Most High for His grace (which I do not deserve), His Long-suffering with me, the gift of the Holy Spirit that fills me and helps me heal. And someday I will be able to come boldly with fear and trembling before the throne to be made perfect for eternity. My only expectation then is to praise the Creator of the Universe with all those other sinners-made-perfect. No more hurting, no need for healing, no need for boundaries or walls...living in the truest form of relationship with Him. Yeah!
Matthew chapter 6 is one of my all-time favorite sections in the Bible. It's the "don't worry" section. And this is a picture of some of my lilies blooming. These are a beautiful golden yellow with a darker almost orange center. I have some bright yellow ones, but the ones I am excited to see bloom in few days are my "strawberry" ones - silky pink colored. I just LOVE seeing nature blooming! Whoever thinks God's not creative doesn't look around.
And I've been hearing about "revival's a-coming" lately. We've seen a great movement in our youth at GCC and the prayer/worship nights have been amazing. But where does revival actually start? On an individual basis - it has to. Or at least TRUE revival does. One person's fire can spark someone's else's. Remember it is said, "love your neighbor as yourself." (that started in Leviticus 19:18). And we can't truly love without God, for He IS love. We have to have God in our hearts before we can even begin to love ourselves. And if we can't love ourselves, we can't TRULY love others (thanks for sparking me with your blog Jennifer!). Oh, we can do good deeds and go through the motions - and that's a start. But that's not enough. Our hearts HAVE to be right with HIM. And where does he take us to be with Him only -- into the Wilderness! The desert - the lonely places where it's just me and Him.
So I'm learning that first I need to test myself because I certainly do not want to fail the big test come judgement day. And I need to embrace HIS love for me. Like he said to Jeremiah: "I have loved you with an everlasting love; Therefore I have drawn you with lovingkindness." (31:3). And Jesus abided in God's love - and so we should abide in Him. And if we are abiding (to remain, stay, dwell, long-lasting, enduring) in Jesus, then we will know His love and the love of the Father. From there, we can love others. It has to start individually with a relationship with Jesus.
So - am I abiding in Jesus? Much more than I used to. Am I loving others. So much it hurts. How do you love others? We did a Romans study in the Ranch small group. Chapter 15 holds some "one-another's" charges:
- Bear one another's weaknesses (v1)
- Build-up one another (v2)
- Spirit of unity with one another (v5)
- Hunger to worship with one another (v6)
- Accept one another (v7)
- Instruct or challenge one another (v14)
- Support one another (v26-27)
- Pray for one another (v30-31)
- Refresh one another (v32)
Do we do this? Honestly. And do we do this for non-believers as well as believers? And what happens when you look at this list and say to yourself - no one's doing that for me. Where do you turn? It had better be to Jesus. Abide in Him first - the rest will fall into place. Do I have the practice of it down perfectly - shoot no. I've had to learn a lot of hard lessons and make relationship sacrifices along the way. But do I have the concept down now - absolutely. And I can tell you - being in the wilderness when you have no clue is no fun. But being in the wilderness with Jesus is the closest thing I'll get to heaven this side of eternity.
Back to revival. I would LOVE to have a good old-fashioned "tent revival" at the ranch this fall. Get outside of those walls at GCC. Let the passers-by be sparked by our love for each other and Jesus. And it would be even better to see TRUE revival take place at GCC. Maybe we should include a squirrel....If you've never seen this video - it's a classic by Ray Stevens.
Here are some pictures of the tree in it's three phases.
And there was something really facinating about this tree. Apparently long long ago when this tree was but a small start, it was chosen to be used as a fence post. And as it grew - it grew around the fencing! That wire is not just propped-up next to the tree - it's IN the tree.
So - now that the tree is down I really think I should have that bonfire. Friday or Saturday night not sure just yet. But everyone's welcome!
- Just because it's not raining doesn't mean the ceiling doesn't still leak when you work on the top floor of a building.
- Indiana Jones seemingly farcical legend of the crystal skulls is a real legend!
- Forgiving is much easier than forgetting.
- Watch where you walk!
- Itching means it's healing.
- Life's best soundbites are six words long. "Come to me all who are weary." "And I will give you rest." "Jesus loves me, this I know." 'For me, to live is Christ." "Do this in remembrance of me." "Well done, good and faithful servant." "For such a time as this." "Less of me, more of Jesus."
- Waiting is the hardest thing to do.
- "Bible Studies" are no substitute for studying the Bible directly.
- Mythological creatures of old have recently been determined to be prehistoric animals that really existed (one-eyed cyclops = wooly mammoth bones).
- Binding Satan out of situations is necessary.
- Jane Austen is a fabulous author and inspirational for old-fashioned romantics like myself.
- Cats really can be supportive - even if it doesn't involve a treat.
- Hell is a very real and scary place, and Heaven is just as real only almost indescribable in it's beauty, peace, magnificence and joy.
- Having the revelation that God doesn't want to USE me, he wants to KNOW me is liberating, and somewhat hard to get used to. But it makes the waiting much easier.
Did you ever take the SAT test in high school? I did - although I have no recollection to my scores. I did well enough to get accepted to college. And it being xx years ago, I vaguely remember even taking the test.
Well, this last Saturday I served as a SAT room Proctor. Basically, I helped pass out tests and walk around the room periodically to make sure they were on the right sections and no cell phones out. The administrator of the testing is a long-time friend of mine and lives close enough to ride with. The bad part - getting to his house at 5:00 AM! We had to do set-up for the rooms, testing started at 8:30 and finished around 12:30-1:00 depending on each room start time. There were 30 kids to a room and 15 rooms. Lots of lost faces coming through the doors that morning.
So we herded the kids to the rooms, got them seated and started passing out the tests to these scarily silent young people. They seemed a little on edge - nervous big-time. As the test Supervisor read the instructions, "Do not start the test until I tell you, turn to page 1, fill in your last name, etc.). This set-up process took a little longer than I would have thought. It was touch-and-go for a couple of the kids who couldn't figure out how to fill-in the bubbles on the sheet. You know, where you fill your name in letter-by-letter in the boxes but still have to fill-in those annoying little circles below it.
So the test gets underway. They get 25 minutes for each of the first 7 sections, then 20 minutes for sections 8 & 9, and 10 minutes for the last section. And in-between, they get two 5-minute breaks and a one-minute stretch break...no talking. I got a lot of reading and knitting done.
As I looked around the room I could see kids of every kind - not just physically - but personality as well. But there was definitely the common thread - stress. A lot of those kids moved only when told to. Look up when finished, put your pencils down, calculator on the floor, etc. And there were some seriously stressed out faces.
When the test was over, there was one girl who said, "You'll never catch me doing THAT again." And of course I thought to myself, 'honey, if you're planning on going to college, the fun's just begun!" And it doesn't end if you plan to go to graduate school. There's that lovely test called the GMAT for general business-type focus, and various other tests for other studies like medicine or law. Now, I DO remember the GMAT - needless to say I did not do so hot on that test. That's why I've not started graduate studies.
I'm not a fan of standardize tests. Whose standard am I trying to live up to on these things? And they honestly think I can retain everything that was crammed in my head for 4+ years? Especially math or finance stuff. I am so very glad that there is not one standardized test for the Bible. The test to pass or fail happens every day in our lives through our choices and actions and attitudes. And praise God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit for giving me another chance each day to do it again. At least with God I know whose standard I need to try to live up to!
So Friday night I started reading a little out of each book. I love getting new books! Even if their old books. And Saturday morning more of them - plus a little cartoon action. I finally started cleaning up the house and figured it was time to get the swing out and the pool started with the emptying process. I even went and got some flowers to plant. All was going well. Even though my cats were somewhat begging me to turn the air conditioning on - I was determined to hold out a little longer.
Then Mom and a friend of hers came over with pizza - ahhh, dinner on the deck. I got a bite of pizze, then got up to put some flowers around the other side of the table and WHAM - fell right through the bad board in the deck. In a split second my leg was all chewed up from the board and I could barely make out shapes trying not to faint. Needless to say - it required a trip to the emergency room. 12 stiches later I am back home with my leg propped up and plans completely changed for the weekend.
I didn't make it to church on Sunday - bummer - or work Monday and Tuesday. I'm back to work today, but I won't be taking anymore pain meds. Stuff is good - but it makes me pretty lightheaded. Needless to say - I got one book totally read (Divine Revelation of Heaven - good stuff), and half of another one. I've caught up on sleep that's for sure. Spent quality time with my cats, Maestro LOVES to lay on someone when he sleeps. And I have to admit, he's adorable when he's snoring. And my mom has been an angel through this. She even planted my flowers I bought and can't get to.