Anonymous Blogger: Death Tax

My Anonymous Blogger dropped off a handwritten note of upcoming bills. Some are national and some pertain to Arizona.

image

Nikki, please call McCain, Flake, and Gosar

1: Ask that they vote to repeal the Death Tax–the money that has already been taxed that families and businesses have worked for and should be able to be passed on to succeeding generations without penalty. This is also a job creator.

2: Vote to make repeal of the marriage penalty tax permanent. An institution which is the building blocks of society and best atmosphere to raise (according to statistics) healthy, physically , and mentally and emotionally children. Marriage should be encouraged and not penalized. It is the best “preventer” of poverty, drug use, sexual promiscuity, school drop-outs, and other societal ills.

3: Let us keep control of the internet in the US. It began here. Let’s keep it here under the direction of those who are accountable to the American people.

4: According to economic experts, our country could be financially solvent in a very short time if we don’t utilize our natural resources-coal, natural gas, etc. Let’s keep our priorities right–the welfare and livelihood of the human being is more important than the preservation of the habitat of a plant or animal. When there is a confluct , let’s rightly choose life for the apex of God’s creation-the homosapian. Environmental protection of the air and water should be reasonable and rational, not based on doubtful and uncertain scientific theory.

The Annual Hahn Challenge

Salvation Army Band

Salvation Army Band (Photo credit: danperry.com)

Will you join us as we, once again, surprise the Salvation Army Bell Ringers with a cup of coffee or hot chocolate? Try to do it anonymously. Most restaurants are more than happy to deliver the cup to their bell ringer. It helps them feel a part of encouraging someone they don’t know.

 

An Oblivious Society

The review for “Clear, Winter Nights” by Trevin Wax has been delayed until Monday, October 28. Meanwhile, enjoy what was supposed to be Monday’s post. :o)

train station

train station (Photo credit: nolifebeforecoffee)

Technology is great unless, of course, you’re the San Francisco student on the light rail train who was shot and killed on September 23, or the man glued to his phone that I startled when I ran up behind him a month ago. He wasn’t the only one. It’s not just technology that has made people unaware.

People are generally not aware. When I have gone running or shopping, people don’t use their senses to know when people are around them, trying to pass in an aisle, or even aware of people close behind them trying to pass them on a narrow sidewalk. This picture taken on the subway in San Francisco shows a typical day of ear buds in people’s ears and eyes fixed on their cell phones. The gun man did not hide his gun. He took it out, wiped his nose while holding the gun in his hand, and even with the close proximity of the gunman to the others on the train, not a single commuter raised his eyes to see the gun until the gunman shot a student leaving the train.  It was too late for the student who died from the fatal shot; and this in a city and state known for it’s convoluted anti-gun laws. It doesn’t surprise me that the gunman was able to flash the gun on the cramped light rail train.

I’ve come across so many people fixated on their cell phones and ear buds whom I have startled when coming up behind them on the streets or who stop engaging with others because of their ear bud usage. When I Googled cell phone addiction, it did not surprise me to find many articles on the subject. Our wants and needs’ line have blurred. I wrote about that here. Recently, I acquired a smart phone because our finances allowed the extra cost.

As a writer, we’re required to social network and write, but after several years of social networking, It has left me empty. My biggest concern has been in getting a smart phone is in not engaging in life because of it. I have a smart phone and I still make a concious effort to put it away. The smaller screen causes one to focus more intently on the words, shutting others out, while a regular computer screen allows your view to expand and include those around you. I also have an ipod shuffle for running, but I train my eyes to look around as I run, keeping aware of people around me. When I trail run, I do not use my ipod. Running in such an isolated place has its own dangers with not only the two-legged predators, but the four-legged as well.

So I’m not surprised at the kidnapping rates in our state or the crime in San Francisco anymore. The San Francisco gun man on the light rail went out hunting for a random human victim. He did eventually get caught. With so many cell phones, someone could have dialed 911. If San Francisco wasn’t anti-gun, a CCW holder would have had that gunman on the ground. Both actions would have saved the 20-year old’s life.

Activist Faith: The Growing Hypocrisy

From The Higher Calling

From The Higher Calling

While teaching a Sunday School on marriage, someone asked me, “What’s the difference between living together and marriage?” The fight for marriage has dominated the headlines, but how can we say that same sex is not okay if we are living together in sin as professing Christians?

Read More Here @ActivistFaith

When Praying for Rain, Bring an Umbrella!

downloadIn reading, The Conviction to Lead by Albert Mohler, a quote stood out to me: passion is Technicolor, not earth tones. Mohler went on to say, “Kierkegaard contrasts passion with mere ‘flashes of enthusiasm.’ Passion is not a temporary state of mind. It is the constant source of energy for the leader, and the greatest cause of attraction for followers. Finally, Kierkegaard reminds us that passion cannot be artificially generated or transmitted. If authentic, it naturally shines through as convictions come to life, as a great mission undertaken, and as people share the same great passion and join together as one.” As I read this, I recalled my words over the past year.  Where’s my passion? Where’s my faith?

For instance, when someone asked me how many copies to make for something I gave a low number. I expected few to actually need the information. My verbiage communicated my low confidence and my floundering passion. I am passionate wherever writing is concerned in my own projects, but I have apologetically lacked it in many other areas. I’ve been searching out my place in the world—to belong, to matter, to be a part of something—and my attitude reflects it when more often than not I am left bereft of what I seek. I feel I am following God’s will in what I do, but in some areas I really need to work on a better attitude and a stronger faith. Because what I seek sometimes is self-fulfillment.

Tony asked me why I continue to write and submit when I haven’t gotten a publishing contract for my novel. I’m not seeking self-fulfillment, but serving my calling. In many ways, writing is fulfilling even if my pocketbook comes up empty. God has blessed me in my writing in more ways than I deserve and lately He has been opening up many doors. Some have told me how my writing builds them up and I am glad to be used in this way, to spend my time wisely, and grow. But in other areas I do lack faith.

So when Mohler said, “passion requires Technicolor not earth tones,” it left me disquieted. I walked back from Starbucks staring ahead and re-thinking my position. I need to use my words to lift up and build up even when things appear discouraging, people are difficult, or if when I hold out my hands they come up empty. My attitude can’t be responsible for bringing someone else down. When someone asks for a blown out number of copies, I should suggest double that and pray it is so instead of thinking the worst and living faithlessly. When praying for rain, I should bring an umbrella, as someone once told me.

*The Conviction to Lead is one of the books I am reviewing. Date TBD.

What Your Facial Expression Says

Smile! Welcome Back =]

Smile! Welcome Back =] (Photo credit: blentley)

“Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves.” Romans 12:10 NIV

They used to tell me during my training at Bank of America, “Smile. They can’t see your expression over the phone, but when you’re smiling it shows through your voice.” I’ve always put that tidbit of wisdom in my mind to retrieve later. It made sense even to twenty-something year old me, and it has stayed with me now at thirty-something. Recently, a comment reminded me that this saying is also true in the spiritual sense.

Today I am guest posting over at (in)Courage. My comments are turned off. Please click here to read the rest of the story and to leave comments.

The Beauty of Trust

Damaged people trust little.

The beauty of trusting in spite of my reservations had the consequence of friendship. I know people will let me down, but I chose through this study to live a life as if I had never been damaged. These women in my Bible study are truly wonderful and caring people as I am sure many women are and it’s just our circumstances that color our outlook and make us so wary that we hide instead of trusting in God.

I found myself opening up slowly, pleasantly surprised by how much I have enjoyed this study.

Beth Moore said in our study committing what has damaged us to God is letting go of it. She also said that feeling pain means you love. Beth Moore said to not close up or shut down. Pain can isolate us from the blessings God has in our future. By not trusting Him, we forfeit such beauty as trust.

The friendships I am making and the authentic conversations during study feel like someone just blew the dust off of my old heart, reminding me how much I still hold back. In five years, this is the first time I have reached out, not in ministry, but in friendship. I have isolated myself out of protection and that’s not living. Living is risking vulnerability and authenticity.

You fall.

God picks you up.

As long as you keep letting God pick you up, you’ll be blessed and taken care of, for we worship God in spite of our circumstances. And I don’t want this weekly gathering to end. It’s been so much fun.

Do you hold back?

Like a Zombie Costume in a Broadway Musical

Their house was dark. Trick or Treaters scoured the neighborhood. Everyone was having fun, but that house seemed to stick out like a zombie costume in the middle of a Broadway musical. They were another unfriendly house, until I began to believe I, too, should shun Halloween.

That lasted for several years, early in my (pretend) Christian belief until someone turned the light on in me. Why was I shunning Halloween?

And every year, I read blogs, both for and against it, of people of all Christian walks making statements. To me, shunning Halloween is a form of legalism. We’re adding to what the Bible says. This is a culture thing, not a religious belief thing. It’s a fun event for children and adults. Kids in costume are not practicing witchcraft, doing divination, or calling up the dead. They are playing pretend characters like what we used to do as children with our blanket and cardboard forts and invisible friends. They are superman saving the world, G.I. Joe coming to the rescue of Barbie, or a villain looking for world domination.

Whether you hate Halloween or love it, this is an excellent time for Christians to reach out to their neighbors. I would urge you to step away from your inhibitions and try a few suggestions:

1)  Hand out candy with or without a costume. You can hand out scripture candy or regular candy. It’s a believer meeting a stranger at the door, encouraging a small child with a smile, or speaking to a neighbor you hadn’t seen in months because you never socialize.

2)   Don’t hand out tracts. Tracts are a major disappointment to a child. They are looking to stock up on candy; hence, the pillow cases. You’re not going to evangelize at the front door. It’s conversations that open up topics about Jesus.

3) Carve a pumpkin. You can create pure art out of these things. You can carve a cross or Jesus. You can make a sneering face. The point is it’s just a pumpkin. Don’t forget to roast the seeds.

4)  Play Christian music. An excellent choice for those who don’t like Halloween. Sadly, our Christian station goes to preaching after a certain time instead of music. While I don’t mind the preaching on a normal day, this is a social event. Social events need music.

5)  Have a haunted house. Fond memories of past Halloween’s, of haunted houses, and pure fun are great for them to reminisce about as adults. You’ll be the talk of the neighborhood. “Look,” they’ll say, “That neighbor has a great haunted house.” Perhaps when they find out you’re a Christian, they might even consider coming to your church.

6) Have something for the adults to encourage them to come away from the curb. Every year we have cookies and fresh brewed coffee for the adults and candy for the children. It solved my dilemma when I would have teenagers come, some barely in costume, trying to get free candy. Trick or treating is for children and so my cookies and coffee option give teenagers a choice to be an adult (coffee and cookies) or to be a child (candy only).

7) TALK to people. The coffee and cookies brings the adults away from the curb. It also shows you care about them when you take the time to listen and speak. Eventually, you establish a reputation in the neighborhood. On a cold night, nothing is better than conversation and hot coffee.

8) Trick or Treat Warnings. Unfortunately, the later it gets the more we get the parents whose kids are allowed to plunge both fists into a bowl of candy or run to the cookies and grab them without asking first. So we usually close before we get to that part of the evening. That’s when the crowd trickles and we know the evening is ending. One of us always has to put the food and candy up high because in their parents culture it seems kids are allowed to be undisciplined.

9)  The Teenagers. You’re too old to trick or treat.

10)  Candy.  I only give out hard candy. With over 200 visitors, expenses pile up. Plus, if I had chocolate, that would be a tough choice for the teenager. If I were a teenager, I would lunge for the chocolate.

So, if you are a Christian, think outside the box and stop being the only dark house in the neighborhood. You’re missing an excellent opportunity for a harvest.

This year a friend is letting us borrow a portable fire pit. Please join us on Halloween! We’ll be open from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. (thereabouts).

Prayer Warriors Wear Athletic Shoes

Image copyright, 2012, Nikole Hahn; available here for purchase http://www.cafepress.com/thehahnhuntinglodge

The community around our church needs just as much attention as the community within our church. Prayer Warriors wear athletic shoes.

They walk, pray, and connect. In some churches, I’ve seen prayer warriors stand in the lobby, wearing their name tags, and sometimes they approach. Most times, they wait to be approached. If your church is located in a quiet neighborhood, that’s your only option.

However, if your church is located near busy areas where people tarry and walk, perhaps where festivals occur, then your prayer warriors should put on their walking shoes and leave the church lobby. Let those who are elderly and have physical limitations remain behind to pray with the congregation. Prayer Warriors  should reach out every Sunday, meeting up with others in their community, getting updates or new prayer requests. Prayer ministries are more than just people who bow their heads and pray; prayer ministries should be about creating community, too, one handshake and one conversation at a time.

Every week in spite of rejection or acceptance, bone-deep weariness or burn-out, a prayer warrior must reconnect, get updates, and continually pray. It’s not just a polite thing or a political thing to make a church or person seem more caring. It’s a lot of behind the scenes, on your knees kind of work. It’s socializing and conversation. Some churches have what they call a Street Team, but to me, that’s just selling Jesus instead of showing how Jesus has influenced our hearts.

Send your prayer warriors out into the streets to connect with believers and non-believers. Here are some tips:

1: Don’t hide your Bible. Someone said they were taught to keep your Bible hidden bringing it out only when you need it. I disagree. To be authentic, we need to reveal our intentions and be open about what we believe and be ready to answer questions or take insult with a smile.

2: Don’t Sell Them Jesus. You don’t know their background or what they believe. Trust in the Holy Spirit to direct your mouth and feet. Approach a person with pen and paper ready and ask them if there are any prayer requests you can pray over during the week. Tell them what church you attend. It helps if your church gives you a name tag that identifies you are with a prayer team. Your goal is to love and that means you may spend a lot of time listening, conversing, and praying. You might jot down the prayer request and pray over it during the week, instead of on the spot. It all depends upon the person.

3: You Represent Your Church. Keep the conversation focused on prayer requests. In this time of our lives, politics are on everyone’s mind. Some use politics to deflect your request and push you away.

4: Follow-Up. Look for last week’s people—the people you prayed for—and get updates or say hello. Show them they are valued by talking to them, too.

5: Don’t Trade Insults or Get Angry. Jokes are common as are prayer requests for world peace from those who want to put some distance from you. Laugh at yourself. The rewards are keeping connections open in future run-ins. In some instances though, you may walk into a dangerous situation like the girl who was hit across the face with her own bible. She never pressed charges or lost her temper, but it could have gone much worse. Always bring a second person as a witness.

6: Mentoring Youth. Try to get the youth in your church to join you. Mentor them to become prayer warriors. Choose only those who can keep confidences.

And finally, remember the enemy doesn’t like it when people pray. A church should be built on prayer and every prayer warrior is needed in this culture–the ones who pray during the week, the ones who are available on Sunday, and those who pray at home. Prayer is the only effective way to change a culture.

How does your prayer group work? Describe your experiences in a prayer group.

Blog Action Day (The Power of We): How Do We Bring That Kind of Change?

In asking the question, “How do you change a church?,” the answer was the most frustrating. The answer is out of my control. You can’t depend on volunteers to greet for you, to be friendly for you, or to pray in your place for someone else. For a church to change, it requires its congregants to be changed from the inside out. How do we do this?

A year or two ago, I visited a mega church the size of a college campus. Yet, every person with or without a volunteer badge stepped up and made it feel like a small church, like a family of God. Change begins with the person. It’s taking the teachings of the Bible to heart and applying it everyday to your life; not living perfect for works, but out of love and sincerity, wanting to do the right thing. The change I seek is for people to live beyond their comfort zones, reach out to strangers, fill empty volunteer slots, but mainly, to do the first two suggestions even without a job badge pinned to your shirt. We shouldn’t leave the job of greeting to the greeter only, but do this on our own.

Guilting, lecturing, or preaching won’t change the heart or tear down the walls that exist in some churches.

Prayer will change hearts because it’s Holy Spirit powered; prayer and God’s Word will transform. Practice being authentic everyday.

Authentic is what my friend would call a buzz word. The word is everywhere nowadays. People leave a church because of wounds or due to the lack of “authentic” people. The Barna Group says, “Based on past studies of those who avoid Christian churches, one of the driving forces behind such behavior is the painful experiences endured within the local church context. In fact, one Barna study among unchurched adults shows that nearly four out of every ten non-churchgoing Americans (37%) said they avoid churches because of negative past experiences in churches or with church people.”

To each of us, the word authentic has varied meanings according to our personal preferences, but for the sake of this argument, I am saying authentic means being real, honest, and according to the dictionary, having “shared beliefs.” It’s difficult to be authentic when others get offended when you “air your dirty laundry.” We all have stories and we should share those stories, never underestimating the power of God behind them. Being authentic means leaning on one another in prayer during difficult trials. We should all do our part in being authentic. Instead of leaving that job to a prayer warrior or a greeter, we should own it. This requires forgiving our brother or sister for when they wound us. It means not living a life thinking everyone is going to hurt us.

Hurt brings walls. Walls create apathy and cliques. Instead of focusing on what isn’t filling our needs, let’s practice filing other people’s needs. I struggle with that last sentence.

My friend spoke often about long-suffering. When my needs aren’t met, I grow dysfunctional. I want to fix what’s wrong, but it’s not in my power to fix what’s wrong. That’s God’s area. I am not God. When I can’t fix what’s wrong, I get frustrated. I stop engaging. My friend has taught me much about long-suffering and because of this, I have learned through difficult trials to stay and listen to God. I am learning how to stay engaged even when I don’t feel like it.

Why Am I Bringing This Up?

Bibledude.net asked us to blog on the “Power of We” for Blog Action Day. Dan King says, “It sounds a lot like the church.”

Blog Action Day site says: “Secondly,The Power of We is a celebration of people working together to make a positive difference in the world, either for their own communities or for people they will never meet half way around the world.”

In order for churches to change Biblically, we need to remember that the responsibility on Sunday doesn’t belong solely to the volunteer. Making people feel welcome, comforting, praying with or for someone, and helping in practical ways doesn’t always require an official position or a name tag. It just requires walking in our belief even when we don’t feel like being engaged. Sometimes being other-focused tends to rejuvenate what felt dead.