Chasing My Dream

BA in leadership

“To be called Doctor does not necessarily mean you are the smartest person in the room.  To be called Doctor means you are the most hardworking, persevering person in the room.” (GCU Instructor)

From an early age, I have always had a desire to learn.  From an early age, I have always had a desire to pursue the highest of attainable educational goals.

Along the way life happened.  I shelved my idea of pursuing higher education. I got married and moved to Australia.  A year later, we moved to the USA.  I hoped to attain a BA degree but I faced one wall after another.  I could not afford to pay the foreigner college tuition fees.  The passion for education was dormant within me.  I read voraciously.  I often thought going to college was not achievable for me.

A few years ago, The Salvation Army sent me to Arrow Leadership in Canada.  It was at Arrow Leadership my passion for college was resuscitated.  I enrolled in the BA in Ministry focusing on Leadership and Ethics at Nazarene Bible College.  I simultaneously continued with my Arrow leadership classes. After graduating from NBC, I could not wait to go deeper.  I enrolled in the Master of Science in Leadership program at Grand Canyon University.

MSL

My desire for more education led me to my doctoral journey.  Here are a few life lessons I am learning along the way:

  1. It is never too late to chase your dream. Go for it.
  2. Don’t give up on your dream. Don’t give in. Don’t throw in the towel.
  3. Trust God to see you through it all. He will give you strength.
  4. Expect to work hard. Excellent things do not come easy. Easy things are not excellent.
  5. Education will test your resolve.  Looming deadlines, long papers, unimaginable projects, unending lectures.  You can do it.
  6. Avoid falling behind.  It is hard to catch up. If you do not or are stuck, ask for help.  Don’t be shy.  Don’t be arrogant.  All of us need help at some point.
  7. Submit the work on time.  It’s better to submit unfinished work on time than to be tardy.
  8. Work with your teachers. Give them your best. They will cut you some slack when the day comes when you need their leniency.
  9. Enjoy learning.  Enjoy the ride.  Not many people have the privilege of attending school.  Honor the privilege.
  10. Create a support system. Ask for support from your family, friends and classmates. This support network will encourage and spur you on.

 

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The ‘WHY’ Behind Your Church’s Need for Mobile and Online Giving in 2017 (reBlog)

Online giving, mobile giving, and text giving are MAJOR topics in the Church!

But why?

Churches shouldn’t make huge financial decisions just because everyone is hopping on the latest and greatest trends, right?

But, if you dig a little and pay attention to the world of payments and consumer habits, you’ll find information that will serve you well as you think about making the move to digital giving.

We understand that this a major decision, so let’s look at some useful information on the topic of “church giving” in our minds. Sound good? Oh, and be sure to comment below with any questions or feedback.

1. Cash and check are on the decline.

Nearly 80% of Americans carry under $50 cash in their wallet and 9% don’t carry cash at all! The fed shows the number of checks used continues to fall, falling in between 4-6% a year since 2000 (see chart below). In fact, 74% of Americans say they write no more than one check per month and millennials don’t even know what a checkbook is!

Oh, and it is predicted that by 2025, 75% of all transactions will be made without cash. That’s ONLY 9 years away people!

The church issue: 86% of church giving still happens via check yet traditional tithing envelopes don’t work for an entire generation. Churches are one of not-to-many “industries” that still relies on cash and check while many others have moved to digital forms of transacting.

2. Mobile is here to stay.

Ericsson says that by 2020, 90% of the world’s population over 6 years old will have a mobile phone with internet access. Mobile phones are so pervasive that, according to Pew Research, like me, 44% of American adults slept with their phone last night.

Beyond more and more people owning a mobile phone with internet access, mobile payments continue to grow at an incredibly fast pace. It’s was predicted that over 4.8 billion people would be using a mobile phone by the end of 2016 and that 39% of all U.S. mobile users made a mobile payment in 2015. TrendOne reports that mobile based payments are growing over 60% a year and will reach nearly $275 Billion by 2021.

The church issue: Only 7% of churches in the US offer a way to give via a mobile device and only 8.2% of all faith-based fundraising came through online methods in 2016. Churches are falling further and further behind while society goes mobile.

3. People are being trained to pay on their phone.

If these above stats haven’t made you start to seriously considering online and mobile giving for your church, then I don’t know what will.

Apple, Starbucks, Amazon, Uber, Pizza Hut, Acorn, Digit, and many others have begun training churchgoers to use their mobile phones to do everything from buying coffee and TVs to taking a cab, ordering pizza, and managing their personal finances.

If Apple makes it as simple as 1-click to purchase a new movie from iTunes, then it better be as simple for your members to give to their local church.

Your audience is being shown how simple it can be in their everyday lives, and will soon expect the same type of mobile giving experience from the churches they attend.

4. People miss church.

There are lots of reasons people miss church. Kids sick, family vacation, mom is traveling for work, relatives in town, snowed and rained in, ahem … lack of motivation, or any number of other issues cause people to miss church. And when members miss a service, church revenue declines. Am I right?

Here’s the thing though, no matter where your church members are, you can almost bet on the fact that they’ll have their mobile phone in their hand (or pocket). See the “Mobile is here to stay” point above if you don’t believe me.

Take advantage of that and train the to give on the go, anywhere, and at any time.

5. Younger generations are different.

Millennials give more than they get credit for, but they do it differently.

84% of millennials made a charitable donation in 2014 and over half of them give monthly to a cause they support, according to the Millennial Impact Report.

Barna says that 39% of Christian Millennials donate to a church or faith organization online at least once a month and 20% of practicing Christian Millennials donate monthly via text message. The report goes on to say that …

“Millennials are giving, yet technology is changing how they give. In fact, Millennial generosity, for the most part, has gone paperless.”

Beyond the desire to be personally connected to a cause, see the tangible impact they make, and participate in doing this work amongst their peers, millennials just don’t own or carry a checkbook.

Your turn.

Nearly every person walking through your church doors is holding a smartphone in hand. They’ve already purchased their coffee, checking Insta, bought that new “thing” on Amazon, and texted 17 friends prior to showing up at church.

While there with you they’re checking their kids into kids care, reading the bible, fact checking and commenting on sermons, and taking notes. Oh, and texting 22 of their friends, 12 of which are sitting in the same room.

Will you make it simple for members to support the great work you’re doing by empowering them with a simple to use mobile church giving solution. Or will they have to reach into their pocketbooks only to remember that they’ve left their checkbook at home for the third week in a row?

It’s your choice.


This post was written by Dean Sweetman, CEO of Tithely, an online and app based solution for payment processing. Software that allows non-profits and charities to raise money easily, any where, any time. 

To Fly or Not To Fly?

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“When You Come to a Fork in the Road, Take It.” Yogi Berra. On Tuesday, I had to decide whether to say, “No,” or to accept to step into a 4-seater helicopter! Unbeknownst to me, Jody Davis had planned a surprise helicopter fly-along with the Pasadena Police Department for me. A thick blanket of fear enveloped my whole body. My knees almost gave in.  My heart thumped as if it would break through my rib cage.  I felt a cold shiver down my back. My palms were sweaty, revealing a little shake. Should I go on the ride or not? The comfort, safety and familiarity of the ground was appealing.  To fly or not to fly? Was the question. In an instant, I held the bull by the horns.  I faced my fear of heights head on.  Fear was not going to hold me back from this experience of a lifetime. I conquered my fear of heights and of flying.

Jody and I, our pilot, and a co-pilot strapped ourselves in.  My mind raced through all the unjustified “ifs” of fear. What if we do not make it back?  What if the winds are too heavy? What if there is a mechanical problem?  What if …?  I shot down each thought of fear with the weapons of faith.  I refused to listen to the whispers of the devil. I told myself, “God’s got this!” Suddenly a wave of courage swept over me. I muttered under my breath, “I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.” (Philippians 4:13)

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The helicopter took smoothly and gently. I saw the ground gracefully disappear under my feet. In the past, I would not have had the courage to look outside. But, not today.  I confidently took out my camera and began to record the video of our flight. We headed south, flying over the immaculately manicured Brookside Golf Course.  I marveled at its beauty, from this vantage point. The majestic San Gabriel Mountains loomed behind us.  We soon passed over the grandiose structure of the Rose Bowl.  This bird’s eye view of the city of Pasadena was magnificent. We flew over the cities of Pasadena, Al Hambra, Arcadia, Monrovia, and Glendora.

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This helicopter fly-along is one of the best activities I have ever undertaken.  Fear was going to rob me of this privilege.  I am glad I did not let fear keep me from this fabulous experience of a lifetime. I am glad I did not let fear cripple me.  Although the flight took me out of my comfort zone, I absolutely enjoyed it. Although the flight tested my faith, I passed.  Although my fear felt big, my God is bigger than any fear. Fear gives a false sense of security. Security can be fleeting. It can quickly dissipate like the morning dew.

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  • Of what are you afraid?
  • What keeps you from attaining your goals?
  • Are you afraid of public speaking?
  • Are you afraid of teaching, witnessing, leading, or singing?
  • Whatever your fear is, bring it to God.
  • Ask God for strength and grace to help you face your fears.
  • You can do it.
  • You can overcome your fear.
  • Do not let fear hold you back.
  • Go on, live your life in style.
  • Trust in God. He’s got this.

2 Timothy 1:7, “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.”

Favorite Easter Hymns and Their Histories

Religious Easter Crosses (03)

by DaySpring.com Contributing Author

The great theologian Charles Spurgeon once said, “… the singing of the pilgrims … is the most delightful part of worship and that which comes nearest to the adoration of heaven.” I couldn’t agree more, especially at Easter when we, as Christians, come together to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior.

My fondest Easter memories are centered around singing together as a congregation. I can remember the church being filled with Easter lilies and other girls like me decked out in our new, pastel-colored Easter dresses. But more than anything, I recall everyone’s voice being raised to God in worship, praising Him for sending His Son to die for our sins. Including my own.

My favorite Easter hymn is “I Know That My Redeemer Lives,” penned by Samuel Medley (1738 – 1799).

I know that my Redeemer lives; what comfort this sweet sentence gives!
He lives, He lives, who once was dead; He lives my ever-living Head.

Medley’s grandfather taught him about Christ but, as a young man, Medley was interested in other things. It wasn’t until he faced imminent death due to an injury, that he turned back to the God his grandfather taught him about, and gave his heart to his Redeemer.

These lyrics speak to me mainly because of one word – my. Like Samuel Medley finally understood, I know that Jesus is “my” Redeemer; He came to die for me, specifically. Of course, He came to die for all of us. But isn’t it wonderful to know that each of us can profess Jesus as “my” Redeemer; He loves all of us and claims each of us as His own.

“Jesus Christ is Risen Today” is another popular Easter hymn and some may be more familiar with a slightly different version, “Christ the Lord is Risen Today.”

Jesus Christ is risen today, Alleluia!
Our triumphant holy day, Alleluia!
Who did once upon the cross, Alleluia!
Suffer to redeem our loss. Alleluia!

Easter

Dating back to the 14th century, this hymn is one of the oldest on record. In 1739, the composer Charles Wesley wrote a poem based on this hymn. Titled “Christ the Lord is Risen Today,” Wesley’s poem was quickly put to music and soon became a favorite. While Wesley is credited with composing as many as 6500 hymns, this particular hymn stands out and is still used in Easter services today around the world.

Alfred Ackley, a musician and preacher, wrote “He Lives” in 1933. Many know the hymn by its first line, “I serve a risen Savior.”

I serve a risen Savior, He’s in the world today;
I know that He is living whatever men may say;
I see His hand of mercy, I hear His voice of cheer,
And just the time I need Him, He’s always near.

At the time, Ackley was challenged by a young student who was confused as to why Christians worshipped someone who had died centuries earlier. In response, Ackley is quoted as saying, “He lives! I tell you, He is not dead but lives here and now! Jesus Christ is more alive today than ever before. I can prove it by my own experience, as well as the testimony of countless thousands.”

Fueled by the student’s questions, Ackley wrote these popular lyrics. His refrain is joyous, reminding us all that Jesus rose from the dead as promised and remains alive today in the heart of every believer.

Refrain:

He lives, He lives,
Christ Jesus lives today!
He walks with me and talks with me
Along life’s narrow way.
He lives, He lives,
Salvation to impart!
You ask me how I know He lives?
He lives within my heart.

We are fortunate to have so many beautiful Easter hymns to sing together, as one body. And it doesn’t matter if our voices are choir-worthy or a bit off-tune – we know that our God takes great pleasure in hearing our voices being raised to Him in worship.

Posted in Church

The King riding a Donkey?

 

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Matthew 21:5, “Say to Daughter Zion, ‘See, your king comes to you, gentle and riding on a donkey, and on a colt, the foal of a donkey.’”

  • Donkeys have been domesticated since 3000, BC.
  • Donkeys are more efficient than horses when used in transport duties because a donkey eats only about one-quarter of the oats that a horse does.
  • Donkeys were used throughout the times of the Bible.
  • Abraham rode a donkey, as did Moses. Jacob’s sons rode donkeys. In the book of Judges, judges rode on donkeys as well.
  • David was a king, perhaps the greatest in Israel’s history, and he rode a donkey.
  • As they trekked to Jerusalem, Mary rode a donkey to Bethlehem while she was pregnant with Jesus.

Donkey

  • Donkeys have a reputation of being stubborn.
  • Donkeys work best when they trust the person.
  • Donkeys are hard workers.
  • Donkeys are regarded as dirty, low, humble animals.
  • Donkeys can navigate treacherous, rocky surfaces.
  • Donkeys can hold their own against predators. They have been known to kill foxes, coyotes, and even mountain lions with their sharp hooves and powerful kicks.

So Jesus, riding on a donkey, fulfills the characterization that the King would be “lowly.”

The symbolic character of the donkey as an animal used for peaceful purposes stands in marked contrast to a horse, whose imagery associates with war.

A man riding on a donkey is not looking for war, and in Jesus’ case, He came instead to save, carried on perhaps the lowliest of animals.

Jesus is the Prince of peace.

Jesus came so you can have peace with God.

He came so you can have peace with yourself.

He came so you can have peace with others.

No God, no peace.  Know God, Know peace!

Happy Easter!

Let Everything that Has Breath Praise God!

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“You take approximately 23,000 breaths every day, but when was the last time you thanked God for one of them? The process of inhaling oxygen and exhaling carbon dioxide is a complicated respiratory task that requires physiological precision. We tend to thank God for the things that take our breath away. And that’s fine. But maybe we should thank him for every other breath too!” – Mark Batterson, All In (Zondervan, 2013), page 119

The songbook of the Bible is the Book of Psalms.  Psalm 150 summarizes what God wants us to know about praise and worship.

The Christian faith is a singing and praising faith. The Salvation Army’s heritage is that of music – praise music.  No other religion has praise and singing such as we have, because we have the song of the Lord in our hearts. The psalmist answers some important questions about praise in this psalm.

WHO?“Praise the Lord” (v. 1)—

Do not praise the church.  Do not praise the preacher, but praise the Lord.

Our problem is that we often don’t see the Lord. We look at gifts or lack of gifts from God. We say, “Why didn’t the Lord do this, or why wasn’t it done differently?” We don’t see Him. He is the WHO beyond the gifts we receive.  He is the WHO behind the blessings that shower upon us. The WHO is the Lord, Almighty.

WHERE?“Praise God in His sanctuary; praise Him in His mighty firmament” (v. 1).

We are to praise Who?  We are to praise God in His sanctuary.  In His temple.  What an interesting combination. When we praise God in church, it’s just like the praise of the angels in heaven. In the sanctuary or wherever we are, let’s praise Him.Come into the house of the Lord with praise.  Don’t go to Vegas to celebrate. Come praise God with the saints.  Come sing praises with the church.

WHY? “Praise Him for His mighty acts; praise Him according to His excellent greatness!” (v. 2).

We praise Him for what He is and for what He does. Who here has seen God do something? Praise Him for it.  I do not know about you, but I have so much to praise God for.  Salvation, so free and fair. Family, food, shelter, clothes, freedom, work, friends. I praise Him for what He has done, and for what He will do.

HOW? With the sound of the trumpet, with the band, the harp, the timbrel, the dance, the stringed instruments, guitars and the loud cymbals.

The psalmist is saying, “Get the whole orchestra together. Find every instrument you can, and let’s praise the Lord.” Some people don’t like that kind of praise, but we are commanded here to praise Him and to make a loud song to His glory.

  • Wake up every morning, read a Psalm.
  • Praise God for his provisions.
  • Praise God for guidance, for the day, for everything.
  • Name God’s attributes, and praise Him for them.
  • Write a prayer journal, start keeping track of your prayers and the answers to the prayers. You will see you have so much to praise God for.
  • Put on some Christian music and worship God wherever you are. Whether it is in your bedroom or your car, or on a walk, God will bless you for glorifying his name.

WHAT? “Let everything that has breath praise the Lord (150:6).

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The most striking feature of this psalm is the fact that in six short verses we are commanded to praise God no less than 13 times!  The fact that God can command us to praise Him means that praise is not just a feeling based upon your mood or circumstances.

Praise is in part a feeling, but it is not at its heart a feeling. If you are breathing, praising God is not an option; it is your responsibility. Let’s be praise machines.  Praise God without ceasing. The message of the psalms, and especially of Psalm 150, is God’s people must habitually praise Him.

Lord, make me an instrument of Your peace

 

ST Francis

Lord, make me an instrument of Your peace.

Where there is hatred, let me sow love;

where there is injury, pardon;

where there is doubt, faith;

where there is despair, hope;

where there is darkness, light;

where there is sadness, joy.
O, Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console;

to be understood as to understand;

to be loved as to love;

For it is in giving that we receive;

it is in pardoning that we are pardoned;

it is in dying that we are born again to eternal life. – St. Francis of Assisi

Dove

I added …

Teach me to say, and to live by the truth; even in the presence of uncertainty

Help me to love and to respect all, despite our differences

Give me strength to forgive those who have hurt me,

Assist me to embrace that which stretches me to become better

Bless us, as we gather and endeavor to make our community better.

Make us instruments of hope, agents of peace, and heroes to many.

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