Just finished up dating the book. It was a long project. Many hours retyping, adding illustrations and stories. I have to get a new cover and figure out how to self publish and think about the title. I believe what I wrote is helpful and challenging. It is based on the timeless truth concerning sowing and reaping from the parable of the sower. Here's an excerpt. The book should be available in a couple of months.
Creating Personal God Space
It’s great to share our faith within the context of a church outreach. Joining others who are developing an outward focus certainly encourages our faith. However, it is important to know that as individuals we all have seed that we can sow into the lives of our friends, families, workmates and others we encounter in our daily lives. I believe everyone can learn create God space.
Clues to help you create personal God Space:
Learn to be a friendly open hearted person.
Everyone can learn to be a friendly open hearted person. It is the process of learning to be otherly, and practicing being a friendly open hearted person. How? Begin to define what you think a friendly open hearted person looks like. What does that person look like to you? Jot down your thoughts and then practice what you’ve written. You might have written a friendly open hearted person looks like a person who smiles. A person who is interested in my life, who listens, who shows care, and who encourages you. A person who has just the right thing to say at just the right time. Someone who is genuine, who serves others. A person who’s body language is not closed, but open. A person who looks me in the eye, and who has time for me.
This is how you become a friendly open hearted person… through practice. If you are not wired this way you may have to practice much. I’m wired to be a task oriented person, non relational, somewhat introverted. I have practiced being a friendly open hearted person by beginning to see the art of being friendly and open hearted as a task. I know it’s sad but true. It’s something I can step into and practice. So, I practice saying Hi to a lot of people, practice listening to God and listening to people. I practice noticing people, looking people in the eye in conversations, offering prayer and care toward others. I am also a recovering non-hugger. So now I practice hugging to a select few.
A man who has friends must himself be friendly, But there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother. Proverbs 18:24 NKJ
Some other questions you might want to ask yourself and jot down. How do you know when, someone is friendly and open hearted? What do they do? What are some tips toward becoming a friendlier person? How would you tell a friend how to become a friendly open hearted person?
Treat others the same way you want them to treat you. Luke 6:31 NAS
Notice others, be aware of the people around you.
We were at the beach enjoying the waves, sun and sand. The red flag was flying when we arrived, so we knew we needed to be careful.
Winston, my brother in law, and I were looking at the waves and the people swimming. Suddenly, I noticed a lady on a small floating air bed struggling. A girl, the moms daughter about 11 years old, was on a small kick-board kicking furiously attempting to help her mom back to shore. They were stuck and they were in danger.
I pointed to the situation and I asked Winston if he thought we needed to help. We talked about the situation, and decided to wait a minute to see if they could break free. When saw it was obviously a no go and they were definitely in danger we both jumped up ran into the water.
Winston, who was more experience than me ran down the beach dove in an swam straight to the lady using the rip tides force. I dove in and approached the area from the right. I could feel the undertows force pulling me out. I stopped and instantly swam a little left toward shore to get out of the current before I was overpowered.
When I reached a place I could walk I moved toward the scene it was then that I noticed two young kids who were obviously heading out toward danger. Both were non swimmers barely able to touch bottom. With each jump up they were being pulled further away from the beach by the rip. So I rushed to the kids and yelled to the smallest kid “grab my hand” reluctantly he reach out. I pulled him closer to shore and then went back for the other somewhat older kid and also pulled him closer to shore. I handed them over to his German non English speaking grandpa, who obviously did not have a clue there was a red flag flying and the kids were in danger. Nor did he know what was going on. I shouted and motioned, "Keep them out of this section and close to shore."
Meantime Winston was with the mom and girl they were in distress they could not escape the force of the rip tide. The mom had swallowed a lot of water and was very tired from trying to kick herself free of the current. He calmed her down and encouraged her to relax, to lay on her back and allow the raft to keep her head above water. He kept assuring her he'd stay with her and that they would be ok. He also, told the young girl to use her flippers and paddle to shore.
They were stuck in the very unusual rip, it was stationary, not flowing normally. He tried kicking right, left, forward, backward, with no movement. We later found out the tide was turning and the people in the rip were truly stuck. It became obvious he needed more help. So I swam to shore and ran to our place on the beach. My wife was reading a book oblivious to the excitement unfolding. When I ran up and grabbed my phone she was startled and asked what was going on. I told her the about the rip tide and pointed to Winston and the lady., Her response, “Aren’t you over reacting?” I sighed, “No!” I searched for my phone and then called 911. I told them our location and what was happening.
At this point I also noticed a guy who popped on the scene standing on the largest beginners paddle-board I had ever seen and shouted and pointed to Winston and the mom and told him they were in danger and to go help. He paddled over and all three grabbed his board and hung on. By this time the lifeguards arrived on their four wheelers ran, dived in, and swam to the people in distress. All were pulled safely to shore and the mom and daughter reunited. A lot of thank you's ensued.
This scene happened very quickly, and lasted probably a little less than ten minutes.
Why didn't other people notice?
Why didn't they move to help?
Why did they sit still as the drama unfolded?
There a psychological profile about this. Seems few people are wired to be responders. Those who do respond in such situations usually have some sort of training, or experience in their past that pushes them forward. Winston was and is an accomplished swimmer and was a surfer in his 20's living much of his life near the water. He experienced the power of rip tides and knew how to escape.
Others are wired more passively.
Me, I recently had received some training in self defense so I noticed the situation.
During my self defense training I discovered there are four profile stages of awareness:
Guess where most people live? Most people live in the unaware state, living life drifting on an ocean of routine not living aware of their surroundings.
One teacher, near where I live in Kettering, was recently abducted. Why? She was targeted because she was seen to be unaware. She was text-ting while walking to her car. Once in the car she continued to focus on her cell phone and to text. The guy simply walked up, jerked open her door, jumped in the drivers side, pushed her into the passenger seat, and took off with the now terrified lady. She screamed and opened the passenger side door and jumped out. The guy ended up wrecking the car, escaped, and was later apprehended.
She was not practicing awareness. If she had been looking around as she walked to her car and then locked the doors as soon as she got in the car. The incident would have been adverted. Now she lives with the trauma of the frighting incident.
On a spiritual note, the rescue made me think of all the people in my sphere of influence who are drifting, and are in danger. The ocean we call life is flowing, some are caught in it's negative current and need to be rescued. As in this story many are stuck and in danger of perishing. They are living lives in an unaware state. One day, unless they are noticed and reached, they will perish. This incident certainly encouraged me to continue to seek and to notice those who away from God's presence.
The reason we noticed and were able to help was because of our training. We also had a willingness to act, to take a risk and to help someone in distress.
It's hard to see something you are not looking for.
Life in the Kingdom is really about learning to live life in God space where God things happen. Every believer should practice being aware and noticing the unnoticeable. I'm glad God has graciously given me some training, given me the eyes to see, and a heart that seeks to understand. I'm working on responding.
This past summer Pattie and I headed out to the Fraze, an open air amphitheater, for Blues-fest. Some great bands were playing and we were enjoying the time together. When we arrived we decided to purchase some BBQ. We were checking every vendor to see what they were serving and finally came to the last booth. As I walked up, I noticed the lady serving. I suddenly had an impression to encourage her. Specifically, her future was going to be greater than her past. As I was pondering how to navigate and communicate the impression I noticed she had a few tattoos, then noticed she was wearing an arrest monitor on her ankle. The impression now made sense.
I payed for my food and then stated, You might think this strange but sometimes Jesus gives me encouraging words for people. I have an encouraging word for you. Your future is going to be greater than your past.
I gently held her arm and continued speaking to her about her life and spoke into her destiny. I told her how Jesus could change her life and wash away her past and propel her into her future. I then invited the Holy Spirit to come and touch her life. She began to cry and said, You are making me cry. I replied, Jesus is here.
I then briefly told her how I was a heavy drug user thirty-five years ago and how Jesus had changed my life. She paused and stated, “You have no idea how I needed this today. Thank you.”
We grabbed our BBQ moved past the line behind us, and walked to a patio to eat. Pattie asked me, How did you know? What is the process? It's not rocket science. But it does take practice, a willingness to respond and to experiment. Here is what I told her.
I practice noticing, and attempt to live life from a being aware perspective. In order to notice others we must first of all become aware that we are not aware, then intentionally practice the art of noticing of being aware. I seek to notice what's going on around me, and seek to be aware of what's happening from a Heaven to earth perspective.
I am earth, where His will wants to be done. Often when speaking to groups of believers, I ask them to place their hand on their heart and to pray... Your kingdom come, Your will be done, as in heaven, in this earth pat your chest. We are the earth where the Kingdom comes, from heaven to us... earth.
I attempt to listen to God prompts, those small impressions, or thoughts that may seem to be like my own, but are not. Jesus said, My sheep hear my voice. Sometimes what I hear is His voice. I experiment, and practice listening. I'm learning which is His voice, and which is my voice. l learn by responding to what I think I hear. Many times I discover it is indeed His prompting.
Blessed is the man who listens to me, watching daily at my doors, waiting at my doorway. For whoever finds me finds life and receives favor from the Lord. Prov 8:34 NAS
My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. Jn 10:27 NAS
I seek to take Risks. Faith is spelled RISK. Taking the risk is the hardest step. I remind myself, I need to be in a place in my life where helping someone has to override my sense of being uncomfortable. It's all about their need for God's love, verses my need to stay in my comfort zone. More often than not when I do respond a person is encouraged, healed and nudged closer to Jesus. Sometimes they are ushered into the Kingdom.
I ask God to direct my steps. Psalms 139 is an amazing Psalm. He knows every thing about me, my thoughts, my words, when I rise up, when I go to work, when I come home. In spite of what He knows about me, He chooses to lay His hand on my head and bless me. It's a humble knowledge where I experience beyond the beyond. So where I go, I’ve discovered He goes.
In Him we live and move and have our being. Paul the Apostle
I like what Bill Hybles says in his book The Power of Whisper: hearing God’s voice and having the guts to respond. Each new day he tells Jesus he is open for business. More often than not he hears God's whisper and then has the guts to take the risk to respond. Responding, lives are touched by God’s love and grace.
Jesus lived His life noticing and acting on what He heard from His Father.
When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them because they were harassed
and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.Matthew 9:36 NAS
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