Mental Post-Its

Thoughts, Notes and General Mental Mayhem


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#GivingTuesday

thumb_img_5861_1024It’s #GivingTuesday! Now that you’ve done all your shopping on Black Friday and Cyber Monday (and possibly started before or on Thanksgiving), it’s time to turn your attention toward generosity.

#GivingTuesday has been around since 2012, and I’m so glad that it has. I love that there is a day set aside to celebrate the abundance that many of us have. If you’re already on email lists for nonprofits and social good companies, you’ve likely already started hearing from them, either for #GivingTuesday or for their year-end giving campaigns.

I encourage you to think about how you can support your favorite causes and organizations this holiday season. They’re doing important work, and it can be very meaningful to be a part of their mission. And every dollar really does count.

If you don’t already have a plan in place, or know where you’d like to donate, let me tell you about a few of my favorites:

  • Atlanta Dream Center: They protect and support the Atlanta area’s most vulnerable populations, including the homeless, at-risk children and women who have been trafficked or prostituted. I have been a volunteer with their anti-trafficking ministry for the past three years, and love their holistic approach to problems.
  • Habitat for Humanity: They provide safe, affordable homes to individuals and families around the world. Habitat is a solution to the global housing crisis, and while I’ve always had great respect for the organization, it’s in overdrive now that I’ve learned so much more about them. Many of you have probably participated in volunteer activities on their behalf, but they also always need funding.
  • Be the Bridge: This budding organization utilizes resources and conversations to further racial reconciliation. They believe that the Church must become a bigger answer to this issue, and are equipping people to host racially diverse small groups that create open lines of communication.  We should not be having the “race conversation” as only white people or only black people, but as friends and Christians. My friend, Latasha, started this organization because she was willing to have the awkward, but necessary conversations, and build bridges that foster healing. It’s important and timely work.
  • TrueNorth: My friend, Anne, started this organization just a couple of years ago after working with women who had been trafficked and prostituted. She decided that she wanted to work more “upstream” to focus on more of the source and start of the issues, rather than toward the end when women had already been abused. I think that is a terrific strategy! So, she is creating resources and providing information to help individuals and families navigate a sex-saturated culture.
  • Refuge Coffee Company: I love this place. It was started a few years back by my friend, Kitti, and supports the Clarkston community and refugees. Clarkston has been declared by CNN as the most diverse square mile in America. They exist to serve the global community in Clarkston through coffee-related job creation, job training, social networking, and commerce. And by the way, the coffee is terrific!

And, for a more unusual suggestion, take a look around your house to see if you have any gift cards you haven’t used, or have a seemingly unusable balances. You probably do, and I did too. So, check out Gift Card Giver. Whether you have the full amount, a few dollars, or even a few cents left on the card, they can put it to good use! Of course, keep this in mind for after Christmas morning as well.

Happy giving!


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Catalyst Labs Notes & Quotes

catalyst-labs-tag-and-bookOnce again, I attended the annual Catalyst Conference two weeks ago here in Atlanta. My favorite day of the conference is Labs. It’s the day where you get to choose who you want to hear, and tailor the topics more to your interest. I was able to sit in on some great ones this year! Check it out…

Reggie Joiner, founder of Orange

  • When you establish a habit of showing up for others, it may change you more than it does them.
  • You may need to change the way you think about influence. It’s not necessarily success, power, authority, etc.
  • Influence has to be earned.
    • You have to keep showing up.
    • Don’t pass judgement. Press pause.
    • Empathy amplifies the truth. It doesn’t change it.
    • Pause to imagine or pause to interact.
  • When you open the door to Jesus, you ope the door to wherever He takes you.

IF:Gathering Lab 1 (Jo Saxon, Vivian Mabuni, Jennie Allen, Tasha Morrison)

  • Jesus sets our example for racial reconciliation.
  • People of other colors are not our tokens. They need to become friends.
  • John 17, we must be a credible witness – Tasha
  • Creating new laws and amendments are not the same thing as dismantling the system. – Tasha
  • It’s ok for you to listen to someone else’s pain, and not know what to say. But please listen. – Jo
  • It’s ok for you to hear someone else’s pain and not know what to say. But we need to listen. – Jo
  • The Church has been the taillights when it comes to racial reconciliation, when it should be the headlights. Aren’t we the ones who have HOPE through Jesus? – Tasha
  • If you are someone with a platform, maybe you should use it to pass the mic to someone else with more knowledge on this issue. I have a black son, but I do not know what it is to be black. – Jennie Allen
  • Always start with prayer. – Tasha
  • Get to know People of Color as people first. Change happens when we find commonality and develop real relationships. – Tasha
  • Diversify your life in small ways first. – Tasha
  • Reconciliation will cost you. It could be pride or comfort, or even your politics. It’s hard work. – Tasha
  • I can support the police while speaking up for justice. – Tasha
  • Get off social media, turn off the TV, and get some real-life People of Color friends! Don’t try to understand our culture from a media perspective. It’s often wrong. – Tasha

IF:Gathering Lab 2 (Jenni Allen, Lindsay Nobles, Tasha Morrison, Rebekah Lyons, Esther Havens, Liz Curtis Higgs)

  • Romans 12:4-6 Message, Christ’s body and its many parts
  • In each of our life stages, we feel at some point that we are drowning.
  • Guilt and shame are entirely different. Shame is not of God. Guilt needs to get our attention. And guilt is the only time a good, Christian girl can say, “Go to hell!” – Liz 😉
  • Many times we are so overwhelmed in our world, we stay confined there. When in fact, we should get perspective and distraction from other people’s world. We forget that we are all living someone else’s dream. Be grateful for where you are, and run with it. – Esther
  • Look up “Simply Christian” by NT Wright (permanence, proximity and presence)
  • We all need 3:00 a.m. friends. Be the one to lead with vulnerability. – Rebekah
  • Be brave in saying what you need.
  • Your vulnerability is one of the greatest gift you have to give. – Rebekah

IF:Gathering Lab 3 (Lindsay Nobles, Esther Havens, Tasha Morrison, Vivian Mabuni, Jennie Allen, Jo Saxon, Liz Curtis Higgs and Rebekah Lyons)

  • Don’t put the pressure on others to come to you. Go to them. If you are white, put yourself in a place locally where you are in the minority. Sit in it for a while. – Tasha
  • Joshua had to be told to be ‘strong and courageous.’ We all feel inadequate in the beginning of big dreams. – Jennie
  • We don’t have to be afraid of what God tells us to do because He has bigger and better plans ahead anyway. We just have to start down the path. – Liz
  • It’s better to proactively get counseling for a year than to wait and need it for 10. – Jo
  • Your platform is not a place to do your therapy. Go first as a good example, but do it in a good and responsible way. – Liz
  • What are the visuals that people see in your church? For example, are all your missions pictures of white people saving the poor, black people? What does this communicate to your children? – Jo
  • If you have a multi-ethnic or diverse church, it doesn’t mean that you’ve arrived. The issue of racial reconciliation isn’t a box to be checked. It’s an ongoing conversation. – Tasha
  • Your church needs to be a safe place for kids of all ethnicities. If it’s not, the children of color will take impressions, feelings, memories, comments and even micro aggressions into adulthood. I know I have, and so have my friends. The Church should be a place where all feel welcome and wanted. That is what the gospel is all about. – Tasha


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The Ministry of Reconciliation

Screen Shot 2016-07-10 at 6.26.59 AM

I was excited to visit the MLK Memorial in DC last fall.

One of my favorite passages of scripture is 2 Corinthians 5:11-21, particularly the part about God giving us the “ministry of reconciliation.” To me, that is central to the work of social justice. It is a mantle I have taken up, and carry with me. And it is what comforts me when I’m weary of how people have harmed each other over and over again, but feel the need to take a step forward anyway.

I once heard someone define justice as “God’s way of putting things right,” and I liked that. It makes the word both a noun and a verb, and I believe that’s how we need to treat it to make any real progress.

11 Since, then, we know what it is to fear the Lord, we try to persuade others. What we are is plain to God, and I hope it is also plain to your conscience. 12 We are not trying to commend ourselves to you again, but are giving you an opportunity to take pride in us, so that you can answer those who take pride in what is seen rather than in what is in the heart. 13 If we are “out of our mind,” as some say, it is for God; if we are in our right mind, it is for you. 14 For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. 15 And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again.

16 So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer. 17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ,the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! 18 All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: 19 that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. 20 We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. 21 God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. (NIV)

These verses have rung loudly in my ears the past few days as we heard yet again about the tragic shooting of two African American men, compiled with the devastating addition of the attack on police officers in Dallas. Both are heartbreaking situations that never should have happened. But the question remains, what are we going to do about it?

I honestly think many people just don’t know what to do. It’s not that they don’t care, but they feel stuck in their response. Or maybe they feel conflicted in what to say, or how to react, or where to turn, or simply how not to offend. I’ve felt some of that myself, and I address it a bit here in this guest blog post.

So, if you can relate, I’d like to provide you with just a few resources that I hope will be helpful.

  • The first, of course and as always, is to pray. My friend Latasha started a terrific organization called Be The Bridge, which promotes racial unity and reconciliation through conversations and the Church. I suggest looking through her resources and site. But her first piece of advice for anyone is to pray. Pray for the situation. Pray for your personal response. Most of us live in our own bubbles, complete with people who look and think like us. So, pray for opportunities to make new friends or have these conversations with old friends. I think these are requests God would love to honor.
  • Another thing Latasha suggests is reading books by people who look and think different than you. Additionally, follow these kinds of people on social media, or go to the places they hang out.
  • Continuing along these lines, here is a fantastic conversation by Latasha and IF:Gathering founder, Jennie Allen, that took place on Friday. I highly recommend this 45-minutes as its just an honest sit-down between two friends.
  • This is a great article by Relevant Magazine for understanding the #BlackLivesMatter movement.
  • Check out this article by Kristen Howerton, who is white, which explains the concept of “white privilege.”
  • There are also many terrific books and movies as well. Two books I’ve read in the last year are The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander and Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption by Bryan Stevenson. And I gotta say, the latter is one of the hardest and most beautiful books I’ve ever read. As far as movies, there are well-known ones like Life is Beautiful and American History X. Here are a bunch more, and it wouldn’t take much research to find others, or you can ask me for more. I have lots to catch up on in this area too, and have books piling up in my Audible Wish List.
  • Pardon the bleeping, but this The Daily Show clip does make some good points while also bringing some humor to the situation. It’s always good to infuse some humor when you can.

There are lots and lots more, but if you need a starting place, hopefully this will provide you with one.

But here’s your disclaimer: I’m telling you now that this can be a messy process. I know that sounds scary, but it doesn’t have to be. If you’re getting outside your comfort zone, which you should in many aspects of life, just remind yourself that you’re doing it to become a better person and more educated. Most often, the people who don’t look like you will be really grateful that you’re making an effort to see life through their lens. And grace will be extended on both sides. Just make a new friend. You’ve done that before. You don’t have initially start with a race conversation. In fact, they might appreciate that too. 🙂

Sadly, I have seen bigotry in action. I have witnessed an actual segregated community south of Atlanta, complete with the literal “other side of the tracks.” I have heard friend’s stories of how they were discriminated against. And even if you missed these things, you’ve probably heard jokes that come at someone else’s expense. We cannot keep pretending these are ok. We cannot keep silent. This kind of harmful thinking often starts in small ways. And therefore, small actions can create change.

When you know these people, not just know of them, you should want to fight for them.

It’s hard work. It’s ugly work. It’s messy work. But it work that matters. And if you follow Christ, you have also been given the ministry of reconciliation. So, what are you going to do about it?

“In a real sense all life is inter-related. All men are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. I can never be what I ought to be until you are what you ought to be, and you can never be what you ought to be until I am what I ought to be… This is the inter-related structure of reality.”
― Martin Luther King Jr.’s Letter from Birmingham Jail 


UPDATE on 7/12/16

I’ve also just watched these two online sermons from this past Sunday, and they’re additional great examples to watch about how the Church can address the issue.

North Point Community Church

The Potter’s House


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#IFgathering2016: Quotes and Notes

Just got back from Austin! It was a fun event, and I loved making new friends and discovering new speakers and resources. God showed up and big and small ways, as He always does. He is faithful.

It was a powerful statement to see over 2,000 women gather, get equipped and be unleashed to live God’s calling on their lives. And there were over 100 countries watching from over 2,000 live streams all around the globe! It is quite the community.

Here are my notes from a number of the speakers. And if you’d like to watch the live stream recordings, they are free until tomorrow evening at www.live.ifgathering.com. Enjoy!

 

Jo Saxton

  • Jesus is the redeemer of your life. Jesus is the one who restores your purpose.

Jennie Allen

  • When you have nothing to prove and nothing to protect, you have freedom.
  • We are like Peter. We are zealots and sinners.

Ann Voskamp

  • There is a space and place for you at the table. There is no disgrace.
  • Jesus first miracle was at a table, a gathering.

Eugene Cho

  • John 14:6, “I am the Way, the Truth and the Life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” There are a lot of theological issues we can disagree on, but this isn’t one of them.
  • Is it possible that we’re more in love with the idea of follow Jesus than actually following Him?
  • John 13-17
    • To follow Jesus is to know that He loves you.
    • To follow Jesus means that we hear His voice.
    • To follow Jesus is to love people.
    • To follow Jesus is to usher in the Kingdom of God. (Gal 3:28)
  • Listen to the Holy Spirit first.
  • If you believe the grass is greener on the other side, maybe the Holy Spirit is telling you to water the grass you’re standing on!

Bianca Olthoff

  • In following Christ, and in times of trial, we may not understand the why, but we must know the Who.
  • John 11:1-32 (Lazarus)
    • The challenge in the midst of the chaos is to still believe.
    • When we change our posture, and fall at the feet of Jesus, we are changed.
    • If he doesn’t heal, will you still believe?

Vivian Mabuni

  • Let the Bible be your primary source of Truth.
  • Read your Bible with intention.
  • Read like the Word points you to God, not for what you can get out of it for yourself.
  • We tend to think of the fruit as the blessing, but the vine is the real blessing—our relationship with Christ.

Rebekah Lyons

  • The Bible gives you what you need to push back the darkness.
  • There is a boot camp required for the next phase of what God wants you to do.

Esther Havens

  • When time is short, pick one scripture to meditate on throughout the day. Also try an audio version to have the Bible on the go.
  • What would happen if we didn’t care about being known (famous), but only about making God known?

Margaret Feinberg

  • Color or mark up your Bible, if needed. Make it yours.
  • It takes seven years to produce the first fruits/wine at a vineyard. It takes perseverance.

Shelley Giglio

  • Luke 8:1-3, 17:11-17
    • Mary Magdalene was cured of demons, and she was also present at the death and resurrection of Jesus. He surrounded himself with all kinds of people.
  • John 19:25
    • Sometimes we don’t know what to say or do for hurting people, but we can simply be near them.
  • John 20:11-18
    • We can be saved by Jesus, but sometimes we don’t recognize Him.
    • Mary didn’t recognize Him until He called her name.
    • The next thing He said to her was, “Go.”
    • Your role in the Kingdom is at its best when you can tell people about Jesus.
    • Believe. Engage. Respond.

IJM Staffer (We were asked not to give her name.)

  • Isaiah 61 (a garment of praise from brokenness)
  • Pain turned into hope.
  • If the speaker’s life had gone perfectly, or as she wanted, she would never have been part of this work.
  • Sometimes we are more ok with letting our flesh rot than showing another person and asking them for help.
  • We’ll search for anything, even garbage, to cover up our pain. (part of her personal story)
  • Giving a garment of praise to someone else, sharing it, is life-giving.
  • We need to be a source of God’s love to those without hope.
  • Quoting Gary Haugen, “If the bad guys are ganging up, why can’t we?”

Melissa Russell

  • IJM is making slavery too hard to do good business.
  • Holding people accountable to crimes is what will change the system.

Jen Hatmaker

  • Jesus told his disciples to love well again and again. It sounds easier than it is.
  • Some people we find easy to love, and can easily leave God out of it.
  • Loving the hard people is what points others to God.
  • Jesus loved everyone with touch, presence, proximity, dignity and as a friend.
  • When we love people well, we love them as friends and equals. There is no agenda.
  • Power, fear and superiority keep us from loving others well.
  • God’s Truth will provide you with the how and why of loving well. If you get push back, you’re probably doing it right.
  • Jesus was scandalous and reckless with His love!

Angie Smith

  • I don’t want to have spent my life trying to look like other Christians instead of trying to look like Christ.
  • Story of Isaac’s almost sacrifice (Genesis 22) is the first time the word, “love” is used in the Bible. And the same word/context is used later to describe Jesus’ sacrifice.
  • 2K years later, Jesus was crucified in the same area as God provided the sacrifice for Abraham and Isaac.
  • In times of testing, have you been more focused on the thicket or the cross? We aren’t promised the ram, only the Lamb.

David Platt

  • John 17
  • Where has God placed you? Recognize your unique place.
    • God loves people not only so much that He gave us His son, but He sent you our uniquely and with authority. Don’t keep this love to yourself!
  • Realize what’s at stake for those around you.
    • It may sound hateful to say to others that Jesus is the only way out of Hell, but if you believe it, it’s hateful not to share it.
  • Remember the simple purpose God has given you: make disciples.
    • Jesus’ revolution revolved around 12 men.
    • You don’t need a blog or movement or website or to be famous: you just need to make one disciple. What if we all just made one each?
    • Love makes you do strange things!

Jennie Allen

  • We exist for the glory of God and the good of the people.
  • Jesus walked in surrender and obedience.
  • Acts 2:42
  • Its not about what happens in this room at this event. It’s about what happens when we leave.
  • People need to see a compelling reason in you for why they should know Jesus.

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Special shout out to Be The Bridge! Join us in racial reconciliation!