:: 10/07/2015 - 10:24am ::

October 11 is Global Hunger Sunday. What has our group done to focus on the needs of the hungry?

We are a small group. Averaging 30–35 in attendance any given Sunday, we realize huge projects may be beyond our means. But we don’t let that stop us. For the past several years, we have taken steps to help the hungry in our community—our closest neighbors.

October is the month we begin planning and collecting food for our annual Thanksgiving baskets. These baskets contain the makings of a generous Thanksgiving dinner. Our goal this year is to prepare 15 baskets, which will be given to families in need in our community.

But it is not enough.

What can we do to focus on the needs of the hungry—the ones who live in the global neighborhood?

I think it may be time for a hunger experience, one designed to heighten awareness of the severity of world hunger and inspire us to reach out and help.

World Hunger 101, here we come.

What does your group do to promote Global Hunger Relief?

Angie Quantrell is a happy neighbor in a growing, active group that loves to attack missions projects with great gusto.

:: 10/05/2015 - 11:52am ::

Three times a day the majority of us eat a satisfying meal. And we are largely unaware of the 795 million undernourished people worldwide.

Global Hunger Sunday is October 11. Pray and do something!

Our church held a successful drive for world hunger. We created soup can banks and purchased bread banks for our congregation. Families collected spare change and delivered the money to the church. The project’s simplicity made participation easy.

Does your local food bank or soup kitchen need help? Perhaps funding is desperate and you could donate, or ask your Adults on MissionSM group to make a donation.

Do you know someone who could be struggling with hunger? If you suspect it, it’s probably true. Reach out to this hungry soul. Do this anonymously by passing along a grocery store gift card through a confidential source or use your family mealtime to show grace and meet a physical need by inviting this person over for supper.

Sheila Gosney lives in Monroe City, Missouri. She’s a wife, mother, and grandmother who loves missions and ministry.

:: 09/23/2015 - 2:43pm ::

The verbal directions to our home were, “Turn left at the school bus stop.” Unfortunately the visitor heard, “Turn left at the scuba shop.” There was no scuba shop and no cell coverage, so an hour later, our visitor arrived laughing at the misunderstanding. Not all misunderstandings end with laughter.

How can we prevent misunderstanding when listening to God? Is He calling us to a foreign land or to be missional where we are? Consider these tips for listening for understanding:

  • Ask for clarity. Repeat back what has been heard and pray for clear understanding.
  • Write down what is heard.
  • Take time to ponder. Pondering brings understanding.
  • Be patient; answers do not always come quickly.
  • Seek confirmation from mature Christians who have an active listening life.
  • Know God’s Word. God is not going to tell us to do something that contradicts His Word.

The more we know someone, the easier it is to understand what he or she is saying. The same is true with understanding God. Knowing Him leads to clear understanding. No confusion—that’s our goal.

Deb Douglas listens and lives missionally in Bossier City, Louisiana.

:: 09/23/2015 - 1:49pm ::

Many of the population of military veterans I serve in my job as a VA hospital chaplain suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder. One such veteran is very special to me, as he is a fellow chaplain. I asked him if PTSD affected his ability to listen to God. Without hesitation, he said, “Absolutely!”

First, he told me his ability to hear at all was affected. Distractions are much worse for one suffering from PTSD than for most of us. Even trying to focus on God still takes concentrated effort.

A career military man, he had trained most of his adult life for war. Though he admits it was a naïve assumption, he thought he would be immune to PTSD since he was serving both God and country. Surely God would protect him so he could minister to those whose only purpose was to protect their country. But that’s not the way it happened. He now suffers from severe PTSD.

Now, he asks, can he still trust he is hearing God correctly? Can he trust God to answer? Listening to God is now a challenge. He finished his conversation with me by saying, “But I heard Him this morning as I preached.” Thanks be to God!

Dianne Swaim writes from North Little Rock, Arkansas. Her ministry email address is dianne@freshspirit.com.

:: 09/16/2015 - 11:03am ::

I love to sew! When I sew, I ponder, figure, and experiment until I find a way to use the least amount of fabric possible. I do not want anything wasted. It’s the same with life. I do not want to waste anything. I want to learn from every experience.

Finding out that my husband and I had misheard God’s direction and plan, the two of us puzzled over the experience in order not to waste any knowledge that could be gained from it. We realized this experience taught us to listen to God without having a preconceived idea of what He is going to say.

The misunderstanding occurred during a hectic season in our life; we learned to hear God without the noise of daily life. Taking a step away from the busy-ness of life takes away distractions from hearing clearly.

It also taught us to admit we heard wrong quickly and then follow. God blesses when we listen and obey!

Deb Douglas listens and lives missionally in Bossier City, Louisiana.

:: 09/16/2015 - 9:05am ::

I was speaking to a group of women in a Haitian church in Canada. Since I am one of the dwindling number of Americans who only speak one language, I needed a translator. A beautiful young Haitian woman home from college on summer vacation was mine. She was not a professional translator but seemed to understand what I was saying. However, there were a number of times that weekend when the women giggled when I thought I was being serious or looked concerned when I thought I was being funny.

In my work as a hospital chaplain, my most dreaded visits are those with patients on a ventilator. Somewhat sedated with a huge tube down their throats and out their mouths, they try to tell me something. How often I plead with God on those visits, “Help me understand so I can minister to their needs. Let me not offer an ice chip when they need to hear about Living Water.”

And there are times when I’m listening to God that I similarly plead, “Help me understand, God, so I can obey!” 

Dianne Swaim writes from North Little Rock, Arkansas. Her ministry email address is dianne@freshspirit.com.

:: 09/14/2015 - 11:04am ::

Standing in the living room of the perfect house in Georgia, I looked at my husband and knew what we had thought we heard God say wasn’t correct. The house had it all; it checked all our boxes. Located on a lake, it was just the right style and size, and it was in our budget—only it was in the wrong state!

Moving to Georgia seemed like God’s choice for us. Georgia was closer to our families, the job was great, and multiple opportunities were available for our children and me. It all made sense. Only we had heard wrong. God wanted us to step out in faith and follow Him without knowing what the next step was for us.

After getting over the shock, we confessed our disobedience and stepped out in faith. God quickly led us to another state, where both of our children met their future spouses. God blessed our journey from disobedience to obedience!

Deb Douglas listens and lives missionally in Bossier City, Louisiana.

:: 09/10/2015 - 8:26am ::

A friend recently texted me, “I thought about you today. I guess you will always be in my heart.” I answered her, “That was music to my ears. So I guess since I’m in your heart and you’re in my ears, we’re biologically related!” Of course, that was meant to be ludicrous, but it did make me think. How connected are my ears and my heart? When my heart is seeking God’s answer, but my ears are deceiving so that I disobey, can God still bless me? Or can He still bless others through me?

I have learned the answer to those questions is “Yes!” Thankfully God’s blessings don’t depend on my understanding. However, I have also learned through the times I mistakenly “obey” God’s will, the route is longer, the terrain is rougher, and the outcome may be less effective. Because God knows our human frailty, He offers grace when our hearts are right.

The most important lesson I’ve learned through unintentional disobedience is God will never give up on me. He will always speak to me again, maybe just a tad louder.

Dianne Swaim writes from North Little Rock, Arkansas. Her ministry email address is dianne@freshspirit.com.

:: 09/03/2015 - 10:26am ::

My niece grabbed my face in her chubby little hands, looked deep into my eyes, and said, “Focus! Focus!” She did not want just a casual listener; she was demanding I listen for total understanding. If we desire to understand the meaning of what is being said, focusing by blocking out distractions is essential. The same is true for hearing from God.  

Blocking out distractions means we intentionally choose to listen not only with our ears but also with our whole being. So how do you do that?

  • Begin by praying for a quiet and still spirit for listening.
  • Carve out some time in your schedule as listening time.
  • Separate from others. (Think prayer closet.)
  • Clear away distracting physical objects.
  • Write down specific items being sought.
  • Tell family members when entering this time; hang a “Please Do Not Disturb” sign on the door.
  • Consider a prayer or listening retreat, as time away removes distractions.

Many things in our lives require being intentional. Listening for God’s leadership is one of those things. Just as we turn down the television when we want to hear someone on the phone, we need to turn down distractions in order to hear God. What we hear is worth the effort!

Deb Douglas listens and lives missionally in Bossier City, Louisiana.

:: 09/03/2015 - 9:16am ::

I’ll be the first to admit I often block out God to take care of distractions. Shouldn’t that read, “block out distractions to listen to God”? It should. But honesty won’t allow me to make that claim often.

When I intercede for others, I can stay on track. I can easily block out distractions when I’m the speaker. But when I’m the listener, I’m overrun with incidental thoughts. They jump up and down for attention. I can’t keep them quiet or still.

So how do I practice crowd control with my thoughts? I distinguish between prayer chats and prayer conversations. I chat with God often during the day about everything from needing that parking place to blessing that person in the ambulance whizzing by. But serious conversations demand time, silence, and solitude.

Often I take a pen and paper into prayertime with me. When an incidental thought interferes, I quickly jot it down. It’s gone, and later in the day, I can tend to those interruptions.

I practice centering prayer—repeating a short phrase that focuses my mind on God (e.g., “Jesus, hear my prayer”).

Most importantly, I ask God to so capture my heart and mind that there is no room for intruders.

Dianne Swaim writes from North Little Rock, Arkansas. Her ministry email address is dianne@freshspirit.com.

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