Relational Connectedness – What is That?

Recently, after a very encouraging workshop, I was able to almost immediately apply what I had experienced in a little different setting.  It’s always a joy to make practical application of things I am learning and to watch the Lord use ideas, principles and opportunities He affords in ways that achieve His desired results.

While learning about shepherding others in a spiritual setting, we were introduced to the concept of relating transparently and truly connecting with one another.https://i0.wp.com/kevinmartineau.ca/wp-content/uploads/the-power-of-connectedness.jpg

In worship this morning I had the privilege of sitting next to someone I had never met before.  We began our conversation with the normal greetings.  And then wanting to apply these new principles I had learned, I went further in conversation in the brief time allotted and began to see and truly enjoy how and why the Lord had allowed our paths to cross.  I was beginning to connect!

Some of the things I was able to discover about this person in that brief period of time were:

  • He has the same name as a radio announcer on one of the Christian radio stations
  • This is the only church that he had ever attended
  • He had been married for 55 years
  • His wife was of a different faith and did not worship with him
  • The reason I had not seen him in the 20+ years I have been attending that church is that he usually sits in a different part of the Sanctuary
  • He doesn’t attend a small group on Sunday mornings
  • He was a former construction engineer in New Orleans
  • He now lives in Prairieville but still attends church in Baton Rouge
  • He didn’t necessarily agree with everything the church had done over the years but felt this was where he was led to worship as we are all imperfect and in need of God’s grace

Wow, all of this information learned in just a short period of time!  This discussion allowed us to truly communicate and learn something about each other, to become comfortable as we conversed and also gave me an avenue to encourage him to attend a men’s Sunday School Class (I even invited him to visit our ladies class.  HA!).

When the worship service was over, he turned to speak to me before I could even open my mouth (highly unusual as I’m always ready to say something).  Both of us were glad we had the opportunity to meet.  We’ll most likely remember each other’s names, where we prefer to sit in the Sanctuary and the fact that we both love our church.  Now I will be looking for him in the weeks to come.  I truly felt the Lord’s guidance as He allowed me to relate to and connect with someone with whom I had never spoken before.  I was able to make a new connection in the church where I had been attending for so long.

http://static.squarespace.com/static/5365b959e4b0b6bc67bcbcc3/t/5369d574e4b00eb13d90db0b/1399444853464/

There’s really something to this “connecting” thing.  What many of us need to do though, is to DIS-connect:  from our smart phones and computers and use the time God has given us to focus on something of vital importance – relationships with God’s people who are made in His image.  When we begin to connect with another person we become intentional in creating that relationship or we intentionally go deeper in the way in which we already relate to them.

This sort of thing doesn’t just happen automatically – it takes a little planning and sometimes a lot of our time.  But aren’t people worth it?  What about those who don’t know Jesus?  Who is going to take time to share with them?  If the Lord puts them in your path, it could very well be you!

Let’s practice “relational connectedness” at every opportunity.  Pray and ask the Lord with whom He would have you become more involved / more connected.  The blessing is in the doing, especially if the Lord is the one Who does the directing. If you encounter someone you don’t know, stop and find out something about them.  If someone’s name comes across your mind, give them a call, write them a note, plan to have coffee or a meal with them or just spend time enjoying each other’s company.

I like to take short day trips with my friends.  This is time I am able to spend with them in a different setting while both of us enjoy our friendship and God’s beautiful creation.  Those are the experiences in life that can make such a difference.  Laughter and good times are always best when shared with friends.

My next planned encounters include supper with someone who serves in the same volunteer capacity in the Bible Study we both attend.  She and I have known each other for 5 or 6 years, but it’s always neat to share ideas, our recent experiences as well as our prayer requests when we get together.  Next week I will have lunch with someone I briefly met in May at our church’s Women’s Conference so I can get to know her a little better. None of this is possible without purposefully making time in our schedules.

Unless we are intentional in connecting relationally, we cannot positively affect another person’s life. Plus, connecting also enhances the quality of our lives as well.  Start practicing relational connectedness today – you won’t be sorry you did…and neither will the other person!

 

Change Isn’t Optional for a Believer

Over the last few weeks our Ladies I Class at my church has been studying surrender, obedience and revival to show our commitment to pleasing the Lord in all that we say and do.

I came across a very interesting article concerning the things we choose to view and read – what we put into our hearts and minds sometimes without even realizing they may not be God’s best for us.  Here is the link:

http://www.ministrymatters.com/all/blog/entry/3571/?utm_campaign=Jan.%2029%20eblast&utm_medium=email&utm_source=newsletter&utm_content=Christians%20and%20pom#axzz2KiYRcztX

Will you prayerfully consider giving up a particular TV show, not going to a certain popular movie or putting down (or even throwing away) a best-selling book that “everyone is reading”?

How is your life different from those around you?  To truly be obedient to a Holy God we must incorporate His rules for living.  The article referenced above sheds some light in areas that are vital to doing this.

To help with the process we should daily digest portions of God’s Word and His principles.  This allows the Holy Spirit to incrementally help us discern the good from His best. When you read and pray through the Scriptures, ask the Lord to show you the next critical step to take on your narrow road to surrender and obedience.  These are pre-requisites for personal and corporate revival.   What change(s) do YOU need to make?

We are called to be different!  How is your life different from your co-worker’s, your neighbor’s or even a family member’s?  Obediently pleasing God must be our first priority.  Is it yours?

In His abundant love and grace,

Debbie Manthe

New e-Bible Site

Here is a great way to access God’s Word in a flash:

 

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Humility Survey

Here is a survey we’ll be using in our class on Sunday. Hope it is encouraging and beneficial to you.  Many blessings as you strive for spiritual maturity in this important area of our lives.

Humility Survey – Am I Humble?

Humility in the abstract matters little; it’s how humbly we act in normal, everyday circumstances that determines whether we build up or tear down those we love.  It’s worth considering how we would handle some true-to-life situations where we have a choice to act with pride or humility.

1. If someone else tells a story about something he achieved or acquired, I usually…

a. Interrupt to top his story with an even more impressive story about myself.
b. Say nothing but let my body language convey that I don’t think much of the story.
c. Show interest and ask questions.

2.  At work, when higher-ups are around, I usually…

a. Try to make myself look good, even if it means taking credit for others’ accomplishments.
b. Mention my own work for the company, when given an opening.
c. Point out the contribution of others, while letting my own actions speak for themselves.

3.  When a family member or close friend has achieved something in an area where I like to excel myself, I usually…

a. Find fault with her accomplishment and then try to turn the attention to myself.
b. Ignore her achievement.
c. Congratulate her and make sure others learn of what she has done.

4.  If someone I dislike fails at something, I usually…

a. Consider how his failing might benefit me.
b. Casually mention the incident to someone else.
c. Look for an opportunity to affirm him.

5.  When I become aware of a weakness or failing in myself, I usually…

a. Think about who might have contributed to the weakness.
b. Try not to think about it at all.
c. Take steps to correct that weakness in the future.

Give yourself zero points for each “a” answer; one point for each “b” answer and two points for each “c” answer.  The higher your score, the farther along you may be on the road to genuine humility.

Three for Free or Four More for a Dollar!!

Oh, out of the mouths of babes, right?  Well, where else would you hear a statement like this, “Three for free or four more for a dollar”?

It was the most interesting and fun visit to my hairdresser I’ve ever had!  I was her last appointment of the day, and her grandchildren had been playing outside, coming in from time to time to make profound statements here and there.  I was definitely amused by them, especially when the little girl started talking about the oranges outside the shop.

Upon arriving I had noticed a little red wagon full of what appeared to be oranges, so my ears definitely perked up when this became the topic of conversation inside.  The granddaughter stated, like a true entrepreneur, “Would you like to buy some oranges”?  And since it was the end of satsuma season in South Louisiana, I had been contemplating an alternative, but before I could respond she said in a most business-like fashion:  “You can have three for free or four more for a dollar!”  At that point her grandmother, mother and I all burst into laughter at her enterprising thought process.

Well, of course I told her I would take some, and she inquired as to how many I would like.  The grandmother told her and her little brother to go out and get twelve “good” ones, not the ones that were soft.  It was at that point when I noticed out of the corner of my eye (you can’t really turn your head when your hair is being cut you know) that the grandfather had gotten involved in the process to ensure that I would receive quality produce for their efforts and my good money.

The full intent of the adults (while the children were outside getting my treats) was to give them the dollar from the tip money jar as they assured me I didn’t have to pay for them.  But I insisted as this would be a true business transaction to help them learn the value of working for their pay.  So, when they arrived back inside, they proudly announced that they had even given me two extra oranges for the same price.

The little boy could not yet write, but he had put the oranges in a box and proceeded to tell me he would sign the box for me.  In his own little way he placed pencil scribbles on all sides of the flaps, and I thanked him for autographing it for me.  He then picked up the box, deposited it at my feet, sighed and stated, “It’s heavy, and I’m the man!”  We laughed once again, and then it was time for me to pay for my purchase.

I asked the little girl to hold out her hand so I could give her the dollar bill.  She was so pleased with herself, and then the mother also gave the little boy a dollar bill from the tip jar.  With that they both exclaimed that they were now going to the Dollar Tree to buy something.  What a neat day this was!  They each had three one dollar bills (apparently they had been selling oranges earlier in the afternoon as well) so I told them they could go to the Dollar Tree three times now.  We enjoyed watching them participate in this experience, and I went home with shorter hair and a joyful spirit knowing I had helped two young people learn a little about free enterprise, plus I was happy that now I had some delectable fruit to eat.

How many times do we offer God the same with our lives?  In effect we say, “Lord, I’ll do these few things for You for free, but if You want me to do any more, it will cost You something.  I want a little recognition for what I’m doing for You…I want someone to see I have value because I’m able to do this, or I am just flat out prideful that I can do this for You.”

The lesson in our ladies class at church this week is on humility.  It’s when we have a truly humble heart that it doesn’t matter in the least whether we receive recognition for what we’ve done or not.  We do things for others simply because these people have value, it will be of benefit to them, and it’s what Jesus would do if He were on this earth.

The next time we find ourselves feeling a little prideful and wanting recognition, here’s a good question to ask:  “Am I doing this for something in return?”  Are we then, in effect, saying, “Lord, I’ll do this little thing for You without any recognition, but if You want me to do anything more, You’ll need to recognize me in some way?”  If we do something to get the attention of others it’s really a form of pride, which is the exact opposite of humility.

Jesus is the epitome of  how to exhibit humility.  We are to emulate Him in all we do.  He came as a humble servant…just for us.  How much do we owe Him?  We owe Him nothing less than our lives.  Not to get that “dollar” but out of true gratitude for His sacrifice so we will spend eternity with Him in heaven.

Where do you stand on the humility scale?  Do you want to get recognition for the things you do or are you willing to do it for Jesus’ sake alone regardless of whether you are honored or not?  Would you get an “A” in humility or are you more like a “C” or “D” student?  Your answer makes a big difference…to God and to others.  Need an attitude adjustment – a better grade?  I do.  Think about it.  🙂

A Look at Integrity

Welcome Again Friends!

It seems that I’m beginning a habit of walking in the park before my workday begins, and this morning I was praying that the Lord would allow me to see something different in His world today.  Just a little blessing to encourage me and start my day off really well would be just fine.

So, what did I see when I rounded the bend?  A little black cat I had never seen in the park before.  He was a little skittish, but since he didn’t know me from Adam’s house cat, that was a typical response.  He didn’t realize I was a cat-lover!  🙂  Regardless, God truly answered my prayer right from the very beginning of my journey.

As I continued on my way I was also hopeful that I’d see the little bunny rabbit again.  Well, sure enough, there he was munching on breakfast just outside the tree line on the grass in the same general area he’s been sitting in every morning.  I moved slowly towards him on the path and stopped when he looked my way.  As he looked down again to get another bite I inched a little closer until I was probably within 25 feet of him.  I remained still and just watched this little wonder of God’s creation.  He was a normal-sized brown rabbit with big eyes and long ears.  As he looked straight ahead, his ears were moving back and forth, listening for any type of predator that might be near.  Not that I’m a predator mind you, but to him I might have been classified as one.

He did allow me to silently watch him for about two to three minutes, and before he scampered off into the woods, he stopped eating to use his front paws to clean his little face after the morning meal.  It was so neat to see this in close proximity, and I could also make out the details of his actions as they were happening right before my very eyes.  I don’t know if he saw me for sure, but whether he did or not, he continued his normal daily routine / ritual of eating and then properly cleaning himself up.

Then I thought about my life.  Whether I know someone is watching or not, do I go about my normal routine?  Hmmm…  Do I act the same way when I think no one is looking?  This brings to mind the subject of “integrity”, and here’s the dictionary definition:  “Adherence to moral and ethical principles; soundness of moral character, honesty.”

Let’s translate that and apply it to our daily spiritual walk with the Lord:  If we live a life of integrity, then we should continue doing what we normally do when God or anyone is looking on.  That is, we continue doing the right things, even (and especially) when no one is looking.  I want to be that type of person; someone who is a woman of her word and someone who will act according to Godly principles, even when no one sees.

So my questions are these:  Who’s watching your life?  How close do you let them get?  If you didn’t know anyone was watching, would they see you acting inappropriately, or would you be that person of integrity who would do the right thing, regardless of who is looking?

As Christians, we are called to walk the talk, all the time, no matter what.  Does that mean we are perfect?  No!  But we are seen as blameless before God.  Since as believers we have the power of the Holy Spirit in our lives, we can then behave as the blameless individuals God sees before Him.  Our lives should be lived with integrity, and you just might be the biggest influence on another person’s life they’ve ever had but you may never know it.  Your life could also be the only Bible a person may ever read.

May God be pleased with our actions at all times, in public or in private.  Our goal is to be obedient to what His Word teaches us, to please Him in all things, to be an encourager to others and to be more Christlike in our character each day.  We never know who’s watching, so it is God’s best and ours that we strive to live a life of integrity.

So what is your life shouting to the world?  Would the word “integrity” be used to describe you?  I sure hope so!

Be blessed,

Debbie

Mushrooms: Insignificant…or Not?

Hello, friends!

As you may know, I went on an early morning walk in the park again, where I saw another (or the same?) bunny rabbit nibbling on breakfast as I wound my way around the trail at Forest Community Park.  Since I didn’t have my camera with me on the path, I just basked in the beauty of that sight for a few moments until the little creature decided to head back into the woods.  I thanked the Lord for another opportunity to see His hand in nature.

I did make note of some little mushrooms that caught my eye as I went further along in my journey.  I thought, “How small and insignificant they are!”  And then I remembered that nothing God creates is insignificant, especially those created in His image – you and I.  Did these mushrooms take much of God’s time to create?  Did He have to think a long time before deciding how to arrange their DNA so they would be a certain color, height or texture?  I don’t know, but I do know this:  God is wonderfully creative and cares about His creations whether big or little, inanimate or fully human.  Below is just a glimpse of what brought all of this to mind:

Do the colors seem ordinary?  Is this just a bland scene?  Would anyone say these are beautiful?  Well, let’s explore these questions:  Ordinary in color?  Yes.  A fairly bland scene?  Yes, nothing to truly draw your attention to them. Who’d say they are beautiful?  God and I would.  God even thinks they are perfect in His eyes!

When I think about all the detail with which these wonderful plants have been made, they ARE a work of beauty – His work.  It gives me pause to thank God for taking the time to place those little gems along the path today to bring my thoughts back to Him, our gracious and awesome Creator.

Am I sad that I wasn’t able to take a picture of the little rabbit this morning?  Maybe a little.  But I can hold onto that image, and although I can’t post it here, it will be forever posted on the canvas of my mind.

Will you join me in prayer?

“Thank you, dear Father, for all the little things You do for us each day.  May we be ever mindful of Your presence in our lives and in the minute details of Your creations we find as we journey along each day’s path. You are Mighty and Powerful, and Your love is abounding.  Continue to remind us of your Presence as we go through each portion of our day.”

Just look – you’ll see evidence of His hand and experience His presence if you are truly a child of the King.

What are you thankful for today?  I’d love to hear from you.  🙂

In His service,

Debbie