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Archive for the ‘Becoming Kindling’ Category

On January 7th, I moved to my new website, JudyDouglass.com, a new home for Kindling.

I hope you will feel at home on my new site for my online ministry.

Let me tell you what you will find there…and about a special offer!

The main event will be my Kindling blog—an effort to start fires in hearts and minds, to get us thinking and talking together.  To be kindling, to ignite, stir up, excite. To make some changes in our walks with God and in our world.

I’ve been posting two or three times a week, mostly writing myself, but also inviting some awesome guest bloggers to join us.  To make sure you receive each blog post in your inbox—to see if you want to read it—be sure to subscribe here.  (If you subscribe you might win a great prize.)

What will we be writing about?  The categories give you a clue: Becoming Kindling, His Name Is a Promise, Learned from Children, Loving a Prodigal, On My Knees, Personal Reflections, True Followers.  We will listen to God, consider how He wants to grow us into Kingdom people and use us in His great Kingdom work, and discover how we can bring others along to start some fires. (I hope you’ll take the time to read some of the posts from the last two weeks).

But there’s more.  I’ve written a few books, and I have some more coming soon, I hope.  So click on that Books I’ve Written tab on JudyDouglass.com to see if you would like my current book, Letters to My Children: Secrets of Success.  Or help yourself to my free E-Book, Loving a Prodigal: Learning to Rest.

The other tabs are pretty self-explanatory:

About—you can learn a little about me and watch my brief welcome video.

Books I’ve Read—I’ve put together a long list of what I call Transforming Reads.

En Espanol—a number of my blog posts are translated into Spanish.

Speaking—this is under construction, but will include some of my message topics and occasional video from a talk.

Contact me—Please do.

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All the time I challenge people—and especially God’s daughters—to discover who God made them to be and to live out what He created them to do.

All of us—occasionally or as a way of life–settle for less than God’s best for us.  Sadly, we women are often encouraged to settle for less, or readily choose to, robbing ourselves and the Body of Christ of the best contribution we have to make.

The mission Christ gave us requires what we have to offer.

man_in_wheelchair

So click on over to Jenny Rae Armstrong’s blog to read Limping Along: Why We Can’t Let Half Christ’s Body Atrophy.  I’m so grateful to be guesting with Jenny.

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On the first Monday of each month when my children were in high school, I wrote a letter to them describing a secret of success in life.  Recently I compiled a year’s worth of secrets into a small book. Letters to My Children: Secrets of Success is a great gift for graduates and a practical study for youth groups.  To give you a glimpse, I posted Secret #6 here.

Humility is one of the most important and most attractive qualities a person can have. Humility can be defined as having a right view of God, yourself, and others.

1. Have a right view God.

Like most of us, you may have much too small of an understanding of who God is. He is the most high God (Daniel 4:24, 34); the Almighty One (Genesis 17:1); the Creator of everything (Genesis 14:19, 22 and Colossians 1:16). He is your loving Father, but He is also the all-powerful Ruler of the universe.

2. Have a right view of yourself.

Each of us is actually a paradox. Compared to God you are nothing. Yet you are also of incredible value because you are made in God’s image and worth the price of Jesus’ life. Despite your high value, God clearly wants you to walk in humility, not pride. The Bible warns about pride (Matthew 23:2; Proverbs 8:13; 11:2; 16:18; I Peter 5:5) and commands you to humble yourself (I Peter 5:6;

Colossians 3:12; Ephesians 4:2). Scripture promises many benefits when you walk in humility: grace (Proverbs 3:34), guidance (Psalm 25:9), wisdom (Proverbs 11:2), honor (Proverbs 15:33), and many more.

3. Have a right view of others.

Success in life depends on success in relationships. Nothing will contribute more to successful relationships than being humble, respectful and loving toward others. God desires you to consider others better than yourself (Philippians 2:3-4), to honor others above yourself (Romans 12:10), and to treat others as you want to be treated (Matthew 7:12).

My prayer is that you will increasingly find joy, friendship, and success as you walk humbly before God and others.

What about you? Do you need work on your views?

c2011 Judy Douglass

Letters to My Children: Secrets of Success is available from New Life Resources.

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To rend: to separate into parts with force or violence; to tear apart, split, or divide; to pull or tear violently; to tear (one’s garments or hair) in grief, rage (rent—past tense)

Calvin, my daughter’s red bone coon hound, loves to find treasures—socks, underwear, dollar bills—and tear them to pieces.  He rends them.

My friend Edwina asked me to tear apart—to rend–old clothes for meaningful additions to make a beautiful quilt.  It was fun to tear and cut those old things up.

Sometimes, though, relationships are rent.  War, disasters, misunderstandings can be the cause of separation, of rending.  But sadly, too often people do it to themselves.  Friends, neighbors, churches, families are torn apart, divided—rent.

Sad. Very sad.  Pain.  Brokenness.  Sorrow.

An appropriate Old Testament response to such destruction would be to rend garments and mourn in sackcloth and ashes.

But God gives us another response:

Rend your heart and not your garments. Return to the Lord your God, for he is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love, and he relents from sending calamity. (Joel 2:12-13)

He hates division and strife, destruction and tearing apart.  The story revealed page by biblical page is of His unrelenting efforts at restoration and reconciliation.

Just listen to the heart of God for healing and mending:

I have swept away your offenses like a cloud, your sins like the morning mist. Return to me, for I have redeemed you.” Isaiah 44:22

I will give them a heart to know me, that I am the LORD. They will be my people, and I will be their God, for they will return to me with all their heart. Jeremiah 24:7

And I will give you a new heart, and I will put a new spirit in you. I will take out your stony, stubborn heart and give you a tender, responsive heart. Ezekiel 11:19

So, as I watch people hurt each other, as hearts are broken, as relationships are rent, I will hope in the goodness of God and His intention to restore.

What about you?  How have you seen relationships rent?

C2012 Judy Douglass

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From time to time I get asked to talk about some of what I have learned in years of ministry leadership.  What are some essentials for being a person who can lead spiritually?

First of all, I know I am inadequate and unworthy for such a calling.  As I have thought about it, it seems that spiritual leadership has a lot to do with whom and what you know.  These ideas, though surely not exhaustive, will help explain what I mean:

Know God

I mean really know Him.  One of the most helpful activities for me has been to study the names of God. It certainly has not been an academic exercise—God reveals what He is like through every name He calls Himself.

As I discover that He is El Elyon the most high God, and He is Abba, my daddy, that He both sees and hears everything about my life—and so much more—I find myself on my face before Him, worshiping Him, talking to Him, listening to Him, thanking Him.

I can know the God who made me!!

Know Yourself

A significant paradox of Christian faith is that you and I are nothing and everything.  Scripture tells us we are nothing—we are made from dust and return to dust, we are like grass, even our substance is just a vapor.  At the same time we are of unimaginable value—made in the image of God, treasured by Him, bought with the price of Jesus’ blood, a partner in the Kingdom-building team!  Both of these truths should remind us of who we are.

Another amazing reality: God was there forming us inside our mothers, and when we were born He declared each a work of art, a masterpiece.  He made us who we are because He loves us and because He designed us just right for the “good works He has prepared for us to walk in.”

Understanding our gifts, our like and dislikes, our strengths and weaknesses will  help us to make wise choices as we consider what opportunities we pursue.

Know Your Culture

Leading spiritually requires understanding of the times in which you live.  A few consistent activities will equip you to engage—and lead—across cultures and generations:

Read—Reading is still essential.  In a visual world, fewer people read.  But we need to know history as well as today’s news and events.   The past always interacts with the present as we move toward the future.  I read blogs, magazines, occasional newspapers—and books.  Reading expands and enriches our thinking.

Listen—Oh how we need to learn to listen!  What are people saying?  What are their concerns, hopes, dreams, fears, struggles…? To touch their lives, we need to know the ways into their lives.

Observe—Go through life with your eyes open, not shut.  Pay attention.  The same truths you learn by listening you will also grasp as you observe the people you interact with, watch online, in movies, on TV.  Ask questions. Make connections.

Technology—In our world, we must engage through technology to some degree at least.  I am so not technological—I have no idea how it works.  And yet it has given me access to people around the world—people I can love and encourage to believe God for the more He wants to do in and through their lives.

Know How To:

Take wise risks—Assess realities, don’t be foolish, but step out into the unknown, the uncertain, the scary with courage and confidence.

Learn from your mistakes—We probably grow more when we fail than when we succeed, if we take time to discern what happened and why.

Value relationships—Life is about people.  Leading is about people.  Meaning comes through relationships.  Give priority to the people in your life.

Grow in the difficult times—I’ve found that God is more committed to my character than to my comfort.  But I’m grateful that He comforts me while He works on my character.

Walk in the Spirit—This is the key, the bottom line.  Scripture reminds us that in ourselves we can do nothing.  But with Him, nothing is impossible.  Jesus sent His Spirit to comfort, to encourage, to teach, to remind, to convict, to change us, to equip, to empower.  Walking consistently in the power of the Spirit is the means to true spiritual leadership.

What about you?  What have you found helps you to grow as a spiritual leader?

C2012 Judy Douglass

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Carolyn Custis James

I have had the great privilege of knowing and working with Carolyn Custis James for more

Chai Ling

than eight years.  We share a passion for seeing women become all God created them to be.  We founded Synergy Women’s Network together (though the vision is hers from God).  And we are close friends.

When I first read Carolyn’s book When Life and Beliefs Collide, I rejoiced.  Someone was saying, articulately and theologically, what I knew was true.  I resonated even more when Lost Women of the Bible came out, followed by The Gospel of Ruth.

Then she wrote what I consider a masterful response to Half the Sky by Sheryl WuDunn and Nick Kristoff.  Half the Church summarizes much of the message of Carolyn’s earlier books and sounds a call to the church to step up and enter the fray on behalf of the women of the world.  She urges the daughter’s of God to not turn a blind eye to the needs, but to engage on behalf their global sisters.

Not long ago, Synergy sponsored an interview with Carolyn and Chai Ling, Chinese activist, author of A Heart for Freedom and founder of All Girls Allowed.  Chai Ling tells of her work as commander-in-chief of student protesters at Tiananmen Square in 1989, of being on the Most Wanted list, of her harrowing escape and eventual trek to the U.S.

In recent years she has founded an organization to fight the Chinese one-child policy.  All Girls Allowed has actually seen some recent changes softening the policy.  (News from China)

You can watch this conversation here: http://www.synergytoday.org/ezerwatch_2011_vimeo_chailing.html

What about you?  Where can you make a difference?

c2012 Judy Douglass

Related posts:

Sheryl Wudunn: Our Century’s Greatest Injustice

At Risk:  Girls and Women

Is the Door Locked?

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Sheryl Wudunn

A major focus of my life and ministry is to challenge women to believe God for the more He wants to do in and through their lives.  I write and speak about this a lot.

But for many women in our world, they can’t think about potential and becoming all they can be.  All they can think about is survival.

I have had the privilege, on several occasions, to meet and listen to Sheryl WuDunn of Half the Sky tell stories about the realities for women in many parts of the world.  The research she and her co-author husband, Nick Kristoff, did on the atrocities and oppression of women around the globe was devastating and hopeful.

The subtitle of their book is Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide.

When I spoke in Ethiopia recently I recounted the story of a woman who was left to die by her family because a fistula disabled her and the stench was unbearable to others.  She crawled to another village with a missionary hospital, had the fistula repaired, met Jesus, finished school, went on to become a doctor and returned to start a fistula hospital.

You can hear Sheryl on Ted here:

18 min

On Wednesday I will post a fascinating video interview of Carolyn Custis James, author of Half the Church, and Chai Ling, Chinese activist and founder of All Girls Allowed.

What about you?  How can you help turn oppression into opportunity?

c2012Judy Douglass

Related post:

Only a Worthless Daughter?

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One of the best things about Facebook is wonderful encouragement from my friends.  A week ago I was having a bit of a hard time with several things going on in my life.  So I asked my Facebook friends:  What are your favorite, most helpful verses on trusting or resting or releasing?

I received responses from around 35 people—wonderful life-giving words.  Here are a few of them to hopefully lift and encourage you as well:

Kari andAnita:  I am still confident of this: I will see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living. Wait for the LORD; be strong and take heart and wait for the LORD. (Psalm 27:13,14)

Sara:  “… if our God is for us, who can be against us?” (Rom 8:31)

Carol: God has said, “I will not in any way fail you nor give you up nor leave you without support. I will not, I will not, I will not in any degree leave you helpless nor forsake nor let you down nor relax My hold on you–assuredly not!  (Hebrews 13:5b Amplified Bible)

Kar-Lei and Carmelita:  “My help comes from the Lord,who made heaven and earth. He will not let your foot be moved; he who keeps you will not slumber….The Lord is your keeper; the Lord is your shade on your right hand….The Lord will keep you from all evil; he will keep your life. The Lord will keep your going out and your coming in from this time forth and forevermore. (Psalm 121:1-8)

Robin:  “When I am afraid, I will trust in you.” (Psalm 56:3)

Naty:  “The Lord will vindicate me; your love, Lord, endures forever—do not abandon the works of your hands. (Psalm 138:8)

Jeanie:   Jesus said, “Come unto me all who are weary and heavy laden. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me for I am gentle and humble in heart and you will find rest for your soul.”  (Matthew 11:28-29)

Joy:  “You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you.” (Isaiah 26:3)

Nelly:  “We know that all things work together for good for those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” (Roman 8:28)

Catherine:  “Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the Lord is the One who goes before you. He will be with you; He will neither fail you nor forsake you.” (Deuteronomy 31:8)

Zillah: “I sought the Lord, and He answered me, and delivered me from all my fears. They looked to Him and were radiant, and their faces will never be ashamed. This poor man cried, and the Lord heard him and saved him out of all his troubles. The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear Him, and rescues them.  O taste and see that the Lord is good; how blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him! O fear the Lord, you His saints; for to those who fear Him there is no want.  The young lions do lack and suffer hunger; but they who seek the Lord shall not be in want of any good thing. (Psalm 34:4-10)

And one of my all-time favorites:

“…so do not fear, for I am with you. Do not be dismayed for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you, I will uphold you with my victorious right hand.” (Isaiah 41:10)

So, if worry and fear have trapped you, if you are weary in the battle, if you are struggling to trust God in a situation, may these words from our God strengthen, encourage and refresh you.

What about you?  What Scripture has God used to give you peace and hope?

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I always considered myself rather intentional when it came to parenting. I took to heart the saying, Aim at nothing and you will surely hit it.

I found parenting very challenging–and rewarding. From the time my children were very young I had a plan to help them grow into godly, responsible, creative adults. It was a fluid, way-of-life plan, not a rigid course of action. I was always looking for ways to build into their lives.

So the year my three were 15, 16 and 17, I chose to share with them some of the principles I thought would encourage their success in life. On the first Monday of each month that year I wrote them a letter, conveying a different “secret of success.” Things like Work Hard, Trust God, Accept Responsibility. Simple truths–biblical and practical. Admonition and motivation, hopefully.

I’ve shared these “secrets” with others, who seemed to find them valuable. So I have put these principles into a small gift book. It is written with students in mind, but the truths apply to all of us.  You can read it in 30 minutes, but it will take a lifetime to live it out.   Twelve secrets make it a great 12-week study for a youth group.

Letters to My Children: Secrets of Success is available through New Life Resources.

Enjoy. What are some of your “secrets” for a meaningful life?

NOTE: Follow a series of excerpts from the book.

c2012 Judy Douglass

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The man who led Ethiopia from the fall of communism in 1991 until the present, Meles Zenawi, died this week.  His illness and whereabouts occupied much conversation when I was in Ethiopia last week.

Generally revered by many of the people, Zenawi was credited with enabling the nation to weather drought and war and economic downturn to become a fairly stable republic with a growing economy.   Poverty, still starkly evident, was not so pervasive as I had seen 10 years ago.   Roads and infrastructure were clearly improved.

I also know that God is working in amazing ways in Ethiopia.  Students are boldly going, at risk of their lives, to share the gospel where it has not been welcome.  Churches are growing and spreading—and cooperating.   Leaders have sensed that women are key to reaching families, neighborhoods and workplaces.

A few women, brought together by Martha Hilawe of GCM, began to pray–for 40 days, then 30 days, then 21 days.  Participation multiplied.  The vision and interest spread.  The intial plan to reach hundreds of women expanded to equip thousands.

Women: Key to Transformation

So for the 8,000 women I was with last week, the primary topic was how God could use them to bring transformation to their country.  The Rise and Shine National Women’s Conference was sponsored by the Great Commission Ministry (GCM) and many churches.  Coming from churches throughout the country to Addis Ababa for five days of inspirational speakers, practical training and lively worship, the women were tireless and enthusiastic.

As one of the “inspirational” speakers, I was surely the one who was inspired.

An amazing worship group opened and closed the conference.  Twenty minutes of non-stop singing, dancing, rhythm, with props and percussions.  I was almost as exhausted as they were as they concluded.

The beautiful women, quite distinct in features and coloring from other parts of Africa, sang, swayed and danced to the frequent worship interludes.  They frequently, in unison, bent over and swung their arms back and forth in shib sheba—dancing as David danced—with palms open to the Lord’s plans for them.  From that they moved to clapping, then hands raised above their heads, swaying side to side.

The distinctive Ethiopian trill repeatedly punctuated the worship and the messages, signifying enthusiastic agreement.

 

 

 

 

Amens and Hallelujahs

As a speaker, I appreciated the encouraging Amens and Hallelujahs!  I was awed as I surveyed the crowds spreading in three directions, protected from the rainy season by the church’s tin roof, with sides open to the elements.  They squeezed together on hard benches, breaking only for lunch and waiting in long lines for the few toilets.

I loved sharing with them about God’s intentions in making them women: in His image, as ezers—strong warrior helpers called to serve alongside their brothers in blessed alliance.  The Lord had me change my next two messages.  We talked about giving all to Him—and seeing what He will do with it.  And we ended with an emphasis on grace.

My friend Elizabeth Schenkel spoke three times about God using these women to make significant differences where they lived as they ministered in the power of the Holy Spirit.  Erick Schenkel enabled us to soar with the eagles and run in the Olympics with his devotional.

Shocking Reality

Inspiration transitioned to application.  Sessions on leadership, family and the use of Magdalena, a moving  version of the Jesus Film told by Mary Magdalene, for sharing the love of Christ helped to equip them to return home with effective ministry.

Probably the most powerful session, though, addressed issues concerning women in Ethiopia.  A young professional woman presented staggering statistics concerning forced child marriage, abuse, abductions and female circumcision.  Then she made her point vividly by showing an horrific video of a young girl undergoing female genital cutting.  I can still hear her screams.

Conference leaders felt that, although many women in the audience would have experienced that procedure, most had no idea how widespread it still is.  Hopefully the shocking video will cause many to rise up against such practices.

GCM director Damtew Kifelew gave the closing challenge, exhorting them to pray,  to plant thousands of churches–so that there was a church in walking distance of every person.  To reach children and students and families. To transform Ethiopia with the love of God.

My purpose was to open their eyes to their value in the sight of God.  I hope I did that to some degree.  But truly my eyes were opened to a passion and oneness in the Lord that touched me deeply.  I was reminded once again of my privilege—of the comfort I live in, of the relative ease of almost every aspect of my life.  And of the incredible privilege to be friends with such women.

I hope I encouraged them as they walk with God.  I know they challenged and encouraged me.

What about you?  Who challenges the comfort of your life?

C2012 Judy Douglass

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