See a need and meet it.

There’s a story about a man in the south that planned to reach the children’s hospitals in his area. The man had a heart for the hurting, and knew from experience that when a child suffers the whole family, and extended family suffer.

 He began to ponder, ‘How can I show the families I care?’

One day while walking through the local mall he noticed the unnoticeable, some kids hugging their new stuffed animals. He then began to wonder what it would look like if every person from his organization brought in a new stuffed animal to give to the sick kids in the hospital? What he envisioned was a good. So, he acted.

The next week during a staff meeting he held up a stuffed animal and invited the people to help him bring a little light into a child’s life. He encouraged them to purchase new stuffed animals and to bring them to the office. The people responded to his vision.

As the stuffed animals arrived, the animals were hung by fishing line from the ceiling, they were placed on every available shelf space, placed in the hallways...everywhere. On the given date, the staff took the animals to the hospitals and gave them to the kids.

The result: a fun, upbeat, serving opportunity occurred which connected an inspired vision to action. As a result they were able to care, love and show practical concern for the kids and families they served.

A few years ago I was able to attend LifeServe Conference in Loveland, CO. During the conference Doug Pollock and I drove up into the mountains, stopped on top over 12,000 feet, on a balmy 65 degree day. The view from the top was breath taking. We then headed down the mountain, our mission... find Elk.

When we reached the bottom of the mountain we turned right onto a dirt road and noticed several parked cars so we pulled over. People were gathered watching a small herd of elk. The big boy was guarding the cows and the wanna be bucks were in the next field.

We walked over to a small group of rocks and noticed two men taking photos through long telephoto lenses..

Doug asked if he could have a look through the camera. After a few minutes of casual banter Doug mentioned that he had a elk head mounted on his wall in his log home in Ohio.

The ladies who were there exclaimed, 'You didn't shoot it did you!?'

He replied, 'Nope. I'm an author and speaker. I received the trophy as part of my honorarium.'

One guy asked, "What kind of books do you write?" Doug replied, "I write books that help Christians share their faith with others in a non-belligerent manner.
Have you ever known an obnoxious person who burns their bridges while attempting to share their faith?"

Another man instantly stated pointing to a friend, "He does. His friend used to be a Catholic and for some reason went to a fundamentalist church and "met Jesus" he came home locked his wife in their bedroom and told her she was going to hell if she didn't change her faith. He's like that all the time now. No one wants to be around him."

An interesting discussion proceeded. We discussed the Catholic faith; how the guy should have acted toward his wife and what true faith looks like in the life of a believer. Phrases we used described a believer as a person who loves, a person who shows kindness, a person who exhibits care and a person who is friendly and open hearted.

Then a man in the group pipped up. "I also am an author. I write books for kids. I used to be a contractor and I have built several children's hospitals all over the USA. Somehow, I now have a heart for sick kids.

My books are unique, in the midst of wild-life photos, there are places where kids can color and each book has a space where the child’s parents or guardians can write the kids name in the story as they read the book. I often pop in and read my book to the children. I recently read the book to a little girl and she wanted me to read the book again and again.

The goal of the book is to help children make it through their tough hospital stay. I recently wrote another book titled Going Home."

Then he stated, "I really don't know why I write the books. I've invested $10k of my own money."

Doug then spoke to the man and kindly stated, "The reason you are writing your books is because the compassion of Jesus is in your heart and your are compelled to make a difference in a child's life."

The statement was like a God's love affirming gift that entered into the man's heart. In response to the statement, he began to openly weep. 

Everyone in the little group knew something special had just happened. A caring man's heart had been revealed.  Later, when we walked to his car, he gave us a book and thanked us for the conversation.

I think this is how people who care for others make a difference in their world. I also believe that this process can be duplicated through personal practice. Each step is simple, and each step can be nurtured.

See a need and meet it.
Both men in the stories above saw a need and were inspired to meet the need. They pondered how to meet the need. They then acted on what they thought they should do to insure the need was met.

Step into the process:
Notice. Begin to live life in an aware / alert state. Most people live their lives in an unaware state of mind, and never notice the needs of others. The art of noticing is a clue to help you make a difference in your world.

Receive inspiration. Inspiration is the spark that breathes life into an idea. It is an inspired process, or a God breathed idea that can come suddenly. Spending time in God's presence is also a way to receive inspiration. I believe most of our best ideas are created as we step into the God's presence as we worship, pray and wait.

inspiration |ˌinspəˈrāSHən|
the process of being mentally stimulated to do or feel something, esp. to do something creative.
• the quality of having been so stimulated.
• a sudden brilliant, creative, or timely idea.
• the divine influence.

Ponder / Wonder. Wondering and pondering is a process of problem solving.  I'm inspired. Is this a God breathed idea? What would it look like if? Dare to dream, wonder and ponder. How can I best meet this need? How can I develop this idea? Is this doable? What are the steps I need to make? Who do I need to talk to? Where and how can this idea be out worked? Will this make a difference to my world?

Act. Action is always needed to really make a difference. Until action takes place, the idea remains merely that, an idea. Those who take a risk, step out of their comfort zone and act are usually those who make a difference in their world. 

Part of acting is casting your compelling vision to others. Casting your vision will help you recruit team players, to raise funds. You may need to set up web based support, information, and how others might participate. 

Seeing a need and meeting it is often the first step toward changing your world. I like and practice stopping for the one. Helping someone, by listening, encouraging, giving and praying often inspires me to continue to care for people.

 I'd like to invite you into the adventure. You never know you just might change your world.

How to hear God prompts and respond.

This week I spoke to a lady at Sam's Club. A few weeks ago I had to renew my club card and noticed a lady. Her hair was different, in a good way, and had amazing blue eyes. While noticing her I had a flutterby impression. She is an artist and needed encouragement. So I waited until an opportune time. 

The timing was right on Tuesday of this week. She was the check out lady at the door who checked invoices. So there was space in time.
When I walked up I handed her my invoice then asked, "Are you an artist?" 
She replied, "How did you know? That's amazing!"
I mentioned I was studying at a supernatural school and was practicing encouraging people. I told her that she had a gift and not to allow her creative gift as an artist to go dormant, but to let the creative spark to flow. I mentioned I work with a lot of creative people and we've found the spark flows when we get together. I also, mentioned I was a follower of Jesus. 

We had a good talk and she was very encouraged. I know I'll meet her again and will then ask about her dream to be an artist, and what that looks like and encourage her to pursue her dream.

I know the conversation was short but I could tell my interest really touched her heart. 

How do I hear?
I sense impressions God prompts. Usually in my heart.

I often hear with my eyes. I notice small things, like clothing, ear rings, what people are wearing. Sometimes, the dots connect and I'm able to pray more effectively or encourage a person.

I sometimes have double takes or see someone more than once. I've learned to pay attention to double takes seeing and then seeing again or hearing and hearing again. Usually I then ask the Holy Spirit what He is doing or what He wants to do I then simply respond. 

The response and action to what I hear sense is the spark that usually enables me to speak to a person. As I speak words simply flow. I almost always ask the question, does this make sense to you?

In my book Go. Sow. I tell stories and how the process works for me. How I hear, mainly impressions, and how I act. Here's an excerpt.

It's hard to see something you are not looking for.

    Life in the Kingdom is really about learning to live in the awareness of God’s presence. Every believer should practice awareness and practice noticing the unnoticeable; then respond. I'm glad God has graciously been training me, given me the eyes to see, and a heart that seeks to understand. I'm working on responding, acting on what I see, or sense.
    This past summer, Pattie and I headed out to the Fraze, an open-air amphitheater near our home, for Blues Fest. Some great bands were playing and we were enjoying the time together. When we arrived we decided to buy some BBQ. We checked 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 that I should encourage her. Specifically I should tell her that her future was going to be greater than her past. As I was pondering just how to navigate and communicate the impression I noticed she had a few tattoos. Then I noticed she was wearing an arrest monitor on her ankle. The impression now made sense.
    I payed for my food and then said, “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 as I spoke and continued speaking to her about her life. I 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 looked up at me and said, “You are making me cry.”
    I replied, “Jesus is here.” I then briefly told her how I was a heavy drug user 35 years ago and Jesus had changed my life.
    She paused and stated, “You have no idea how much I needed this today. Thank you.”
    We grabbed our BBQ, moved past the growing line behind us and walked to a patio to eat. Pattie asked me to explain how I knew what to say and the process of it all. It's not rocket science but it does take practice, and 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.    
    I seek to notice what's going on around me and I seek to be aware of what's happening from a heaven to earth perspective. I am the earth where His will wants to be done.
    Often when speaking to groups of believers I ask them to place a hand on their heart and to pray, “Your kingdom come, Your will be done as in heaven, in this earth.” At the end of declaring the prayer I then ask them to pat their chest and say, “This earth.” 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.”(John 10:27, NAS

    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, His voice.
    “Blessed is the man who listens to me, watching daily at my gates, waiting at my doorposts. For he who finds me finds life and obtains favor from the LORD.” (Proverbs 8:34, NAS)

 I seek to take risks.
    Faith is spelled RISK. Really faith is spelled obedience. Taking the risk is the hardest step. I remind myself that 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 versus my need to stay in my comfort zone. More often than not when I respond to His whisper a person is encouraged, healed, and nudged closer to Jesus. Sometimes they are ushered into the Kingdom.
    This week I went to the gym. When I arrived I noticed a beautiful African American woman who had two half sleeve tattoos on her arms. They were amazing. The flowers and stems were as beautiful as the woman.
    As I pondered I sensed I should tell her that she had sown many good seeds in her life. Also tell her she was a fruit bearing person and she just needed a little time and patience because more good fruit was coming from the seed she had sown. So I took a risk and went up and said, “I sometimes get encouraging words for people. I have one for you.” So I told her. At the end of my word for her she stated, “You are making me cry.” I commented, “Encouraging words are good aren’t they? She smiled and I went back to my routine.

    I ask God to direct my steps.
    Psalm 139 is an amazing psalm. He knows everything about me. He knows 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 to bless me. It's a humble knowledge where I experience the beyond the beyond.
    Where I go I’ve discovered He goes.
    “In Him we live and move and have our being,” (Acts 17:28 NIV)

    Often I arrive at the right place at the right time for the right person. I was driving home one night and had an impression to go to Hancock's fabrics to pick up some outdoor material for my 96 VW Cabrio convertible top. I popped in and purchased the material.
    As I was leaving I thought about going next door to buy some Sushi. The next impression didn't make sense but I sensed I was not to go buy Sushi but go directly to my car. So I walked out the door headed directly to my car. Then I saw my ex-personal assistant get out of her car and begin walking toward me. I said, "Hi, it's great to see you."
    The conversation was a God set up. I found out she was having her second child and that she had almost died having the first. I prayed for her and her new child to be. We had a great talk and she left.
    My next impression, "You can go buy sushi now.”
    Right time right place for the right person. I later found out she had a healthy baby and she went through the delivery with no problems.

I like what Bill Hybels says in his book, The Power of a Whisper: Hearing God, Having the Guts to Respond. Each new day he tells Jesus he is open for business. If he hears God's whisper, he then has the guts to respond. When he responds to what he hears, people are often touched by God’s love and grace.
    My friend, Doug Pollock, the evangelism Athletes In Action Evangelism director, has written the book God Space which explains the ethos behind creating God space. It is a must read for everyone who wants to communicate the Good News in such a way that it can be heard.
    When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.” (Matthew 9:36, NIV)

    Jesus was the most friendly open-hearted person on the planet. He lived His life noticing people and situations then acting on what He heard from His Father. Our adventure begins when we see like He sees, hear like He hears, and respond like He responds.