Mission and Vision

Simple Church Success exists to equip, inspire, and support those who want to know Jesus better and are hungry for simple participatory gatherings of two or more people.

We partner with Luke 10 International Ministries toward being a engaged network of visionaries, trail-blazers, church-planters, supporters, and inquirers who are learning to BE the church in simple Holy Spirit led, Christ-centered, Biblical ways.

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How’s Your Hearing?

“My grandmother was the best listener of my childhood,” one adult student volunteered. “I knew she was listening because she asked me questions that pertained to what I shared with her.”

“My fifth grade teacher was the best listener of my youth,” another participant offered. “He would paraphrase what I said and then ask if he was getting it right. It’s a technique I still use with others to this day!”

“My high school friend, Cheryl, listened to my struggles without making fun of me or talking about me to others,” her appreciative friend told our class. She continued, “We are still friends and I can still trust her to keep my stuff confidential.”

These are typical responses to the question, “Who was your best listener during your youth”  I ask it when I’m teaching on the subject of active listening.

Psychiatrist and author, the late M. Scott Peck, M.D., states, “Listening well is an exercise of attention and by necessity hard work. It is because they do not realize this or because they are not willing to do the work that most people do not listen well.”

Jesus, was a great listener. He heard with more than just his ears.  The Bible says, “As Jesus went, he was surrounded by the crowds. A woman in the crowd had suffered for twelve years with constant bleeding, and she could find no cure. Coming up behind Jesus, she touched the fringe of his robe. Immediately, the bleeding stopped.

“‘Who touched me?’ Jesus asked. Everyone denied it, and Peter said, ‘Master, this whole crowd is pressing up against you.’ But Jesus said, ‘Someone deliberately touched me, for I felt healing power go out from me.’

“When the woman realized that she could not stay hidden, she began to tremble and fell to her knees in front of him. The whole crowd heard her explain why she had touched him and that she had been immediately healed.  ‘Daughter,” he said to her, “your faith has made you well. Go in peace.’” (Luke 8:42-48 NLT)

Thinking Jesus’ question, “Who touched me?” was unrealistic his disciple, Peter, challenged, “Master, this whole crowd is pressing up against you.” He didn’t understand how well Jesus listened.

Nevertheless, Jesus listened so well that he could feel power go out of himself when the lady in the crowd touched him.  He was fully tuned-in to his spirit and his surroundings, even to the touch of his garment. He didn’t miss a thing.

Would that we would seek to be listeners like Jesus. We could be so much more effective if we listened better when things were happening around us—whether good or bad.

Thankfully, this deeper type of listening became normal for Peter. He was able to discern the real need of the lame man asking for money—and heal him. (Acts 3:6)  He was able to discern the corruption of Simon the Magician who wanted to buy the Holy Spirit’s power with money—and say to him, “You are full of bitter jealousy and are held captive by sin.” (Acts 8:23)

Peter got good at listening and so can we. Listening is “by necessity hard work” but with Jesus’ help we can hear the deeper things going on around us however so quietly they may be speaking.

Giv’m Heaven!—John Parker, Listener-in-training

Listen with John at Chowchilla Simple Church 10 AM Sundays at Carty Center, 609 W. Robertson Boulevard. Information: (209) 564-7201.

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God Likes You. Oh, and loves you too. You may like “like” better, like I do.

GOD LIKES YOU

“God likes you,’ sounds different than, “God loves you.” Sometimes people say they love us but we know they don’t like us. So, hearing that God loves us may not feel very good and may not convey how much God actually likes us.

God does like us because he himself designed us. As the bumper sticker affirms, “God don’t make no junk!”

We discover how likable we are to God when we read King David’s praise. He writes to God, “Oh yes, you shaped me first inside, then out; you formed me in my mother’s womb…You know me inside and out, you know every bone in my body; You know exactly how I was made, bit by bit, how I was sculpted from nothing into something. Like an open book, you watched me grow from conception to birth; all the stages of my life were spread out before you, The days of my life all prepared before I’d even lived one day. Your thoughts—how rare, how beautiful! God, I’ll never comprehend them!” (Psalm 139:13–17, The Message)

Still we wonder if we are likable to God or people. Like that famous ballad, “Don’t Know Much,” laments, “Look at this face, I know the years are showing. Look at this life, I still don’t know where it’s going. Look at these eyes, they never seen what matters. Look at these dreams, so beaten and so battered.”

The point is we may believe God loves us, yet remain uncertain that he actually likes us. I was struggling the other day and asked the Lord how in the world he could actually like me. I’ve lived with myself long enough to wonder if I’m likable, based on the things I’ve said, done, or failed to do.

I wrote to the Lord, “Thank you that you are here and like me. But truly, I can’t see why you do.”

The Lord kindly responded, “John, we (the Father, Son and Holy Spirit were communicating as One) made you and designed you to be you, so we like you very much. You have always been creative, adventuresome, and relational and that’s exciting for us. You bring us to others through those traits. We liked you when you were little and, now, we like you, even more, if that’s possible, as you have opened up to our “like” and love.”

Hearing that cheers me up! I remember myself as that little four year old boy they were referring to. I realize that, in spite of my human track record, where everything hasn’t gone as I planned or hoped, I am still that boy in my heart of hearts. I am still creative, adventuresome, and relational at my core like when I first started out in this world as that little boy. God knows exactly what he is doing. Those negative thoughts against myself come, not from God, but from the darkness that seeks to darken our hearts against God.

The Gospel assures us, “There is not one single bit of condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus,” and, “God sent not his son to condemn the world but that the world through him might be saved.” (Romans 8:1; John 3:17) Thankfully, dark judgment melts away in the light, love, and like of God through Christ Jesus.

Giv’m Heaven!—John

John Parker, is a pastor and teacher at Chowchilla Simple Church 10 AM Sundays at Carty Center, 609 W. Robertson Boulevard. Information: (209) 564-7201.

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Did your folks have favorites? Did they admit it?

Did your mother have a favorite child? Perhaps your father did. Was it you, or another sibling? How did that affect you and the family?

Favorites create challenges. That’s probably why most parents deny having any. Siblings sometimes tease each other saying, “I’m Mom’s favorite.” Laughter follows, and so does the secret question: is it true? Nevertheless, in spite of the accompanying baggage, most of us want to be someone’s favorite.

Nations want that too. They grant each other “Most Favored Nation” (MFN) status which positively affects trade between them. The United States granted Great Britain MFN status clear back in 1794. Nowadays, the World Trade Organization requires its members to grant each other MFN status.

The Bible testifies that a great day is coming when a new most favored nation status will be given by the Lord God himself.  Isaiah (circa 750 BC) prophesies about it, declaring:  “On that Day, there will be a highway all the way from Egypt to Assyria: Assyrians will have free range in Egypt and Egyptians in Assyria. No longer rivals, they’ll worship together, Egyptians and Assyrians! On that Day, Israel will take its place alongside Egypt and Assyria, sharing the blessing from the center. God-of-the-Angel-Armies, who blessed Israel, will generously bless them all: “Blessed be Egypt, my people!… Blessed be Assyria, work of my hands!… Blessed be Israel, my heritage!”” (Isaiah 19:23–25, The Message Bible)

Israel is at the center as God’s “heritage.” Assyria, is called by God, “the work of my hands.” Egypt, God calls “my people.” What a day “that Day” will be! Peace in the Middle East is on its way.

Israel, God’s covenant nation in the Hebrew Bible (Old Testament) shows up as the favored nation in the Christian Bible (New Testament) as well. It records that Jesus came unto his own people, the Jews (John 1:11). His precise genealogical records ((Matthew 1, Luke 3) prove him to be the legitimate heir to the throne of King David and, thus, the “King of the Jews,” just as Pilate posted on the cross.

Paul, God’s apostle to the nations, makes it clear that Jesus’ own people, the Jews, are first and foremost in God’s plan of salvation. Paul writes to the Christians in Rome, “I can’t wait to get to you in Rome, preaching this wonderful good news of God. It’s news I’m most proud to proclaim, this extraordinary Message of God’s powerful plan to rescue everyone who trusts him, starting with Jews and then right on to everyone else!” (Romans 1:15–16, The Message)

This shows that God is still at work among the nations and that the center nation of all his work is the Jewish nation. It could be that Israel’s existence as a nation is the first fruit of a modern day miracle and sign of God’s continuing, active involvement in world history. The rise of Israel among the nations may not be a chance accident, but, rather, an act of God.

Of course, Jews are humans, just like the rest of us. The Good New is that God has not forsaken them, or us, and because of them we all get to be included in the Gospel through Jesus the Son of David, Son of Man, and Son of God.

John Parker, is a pastor and teacher at Chowchilla Simple Church 10 AM Sundays at Carty Center, 609 W. Robertson Boulevard. Information: (209) 564-7201.

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Does God Help Those Who Help Themselves?

GOD’S WORK

They replied, “We want to perform God’s works, too. What should we do?” Jesus told them, “This is the only work God wants from you: Believe in the one he has sent.” (John 6:28–29)

But we have our own ways of getting his work done that lets us feel better our own ability, power, and plans. The following excerpts from his article, “The Propaganda of Willfulness,” by the late Gerald May, shed light on how we skirt the command to trust God completely and, instead, help him out a bit.

May writes, My least favorite saying is “God helps those who help themselves,”…my mother used it on me when she thought I was being lazy. I can’t get away from it; it is likely the best-known adage in the English-speaking world. A poll reports that 82% of Americans believe it comes from the Bible.

But the Bible says nothing of the sort. If anything, the Bible maintains that God especially helps those who cannot help themselves.

The same philosophy has been infecting spiritual communities for at least four centuries. You may have heard it: “Pray as though everything depended on God and act as though everything depended on you.”

This version troubles me even more than the simpler form. It appears to encourage prayer and intimacy with God, but before you know it, it tells you to act as though God weren’t in the picture at all. Yet people continue to quote it without question, as if Jesus himself had said it.

They reject Jesus’s exhortations to trust God completely. They maintain that you can’t expect God to just bless you with gifts; you have to make things happen instead.

They would have you believe that Jesus was just exaggerating when he spoke about the lilies of the field, and that he was simply mistaken when he said Mary, not Martha, had chosen the one thing necessary.

Why are such twisted distortions so uncritically accepted? I think such sayings are popular because they rationalize our mistrust of God and our subsequent desire to master our own destinies.

These sayings justify our desire to have our spiritual cake and eat it, too. We want to consider ourselves faith-filled, but we are terrified of actually letting go and letting God.

We pray about decisions, but we feel we must also have logical justification for everything we do. We seek God’s guidance, but we are also compelled to look like we’re using our heads. We want to give our hearts to God, but never so completely that we might appear foolish.

But the Gospel is foolish. It’s downright ridiculous. The Good News is just too good to be true, and it demands nothing less than everything.

If we are honest, we don’t need fraudulent aphorisms to rationalize that the Gospel is too much for us. Instead, let us just admit that we cannot accomplish our own faith. We cannot help ourselves, not where it counts the most. We need God’s grace even to trust God’s grace.

And much as our willful-ness might want to deny it, God is far too intimate and loving for us to utter a single silly word about how to pray or who God does or doesn’t help. (Thank you, Gerald! Complete article at www.shalem.org.)

Giv’m Heaven!—John

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Need a prayer? This is: The One!

My friend, the late Tom Flanagan of Chowchilla, called it the “Perfect Prayer.” Jesus himself taught it saying, “Pray then like this: ‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.’” (Matthew 6:9–13)

We call it the “” or the “Our Father.” It addresses several realms of hope, help, and healing, as follows.

  1. Our Father who art in heaven. Jesus gives us his own father to be Our Father. Then the Holy Spirit teaches us to call him, “Abba! Father” with childlike boldness and intimacy. (Romans 8:15) “Heaven” is plural, “the Heavenlies,” in the original Greek. “Our Father” is not just way up in the third heaven on his throne; but in the second heaven, outer space; and in our heavens where the birds fly.
  2. Hallowed be your name. We are not praying for our name to be hallowed. We are becoming increasingly less concerned with our name. We embrace Jesus’ saying: “Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account.” (Matthew 5:11) We want the name of the Lord to be exalted no matter what anyone thinks of us.
  3. Your kingdom come. Rather than seeking our own kingdom, with its power and possessions, we wave the white flag, lower our private castle draw bridge, and let the Lord’s kingdom come in.
  4. Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Jesus himself prayed, “Nevertheless, not my will but your be done.” He surrendered his own will and went forward as a victor rather than as a victim. We can too.
  5. Give us this day our daily bread. This is a great prayer for workaholics and anxiety addicts. Not emphasizing itself to self-sufficient accumulation, storage, and savings plans, it call us into a daily asking, watching and waiting for Our Father’s providential provision. It calls us to look and listen for the works he as planned in advance for us to do (Ephesians 2:10).
  6. Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. Our Father’s daily giving frees us up for constant forgiving. He calls us into freedom from judging and holding bitter grudges against Our Father himself, or others, or against ourselves. We get better at “making direct amends wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.” (AA Step 9)
  7. “Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.” The Bible says, “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.” (Ephesians 6:12) We need Our Father for these victories. “Thus says the Lord to you, ‘Do not be afraid and do not be dismayed at this great horde, for the battle is not yours but God’s.’” (2 Chronicles 20:15)

Giv‘m, Our Father in the Heavens!”—John

John Parker encourages those who are eager to participate in spiritual-family-style small groups. He helps to facilitate Connections Simple Church of Chowchilla 10 AM Sundays at Carty Center, 609 W. Robertson Blvd.  Contact John at (209) 564-7201.

Don’t miss a chapter of John’s new book-in-the-making.

Subscribe at MaryMarthaBook.com  It’s about recovering from workaholicism and  anxiety! Based on Luke 10:38-42.

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Enemies may Accumulate! But You Win!

“Friends come and go, but enemies accumulate.”  So says, satirist writer, Arthur Bloch.

“Enemies accumulate,” is the funny part. Sometimes, as we get older, it sure seems that way.

Our physical friends: strength, looks, health and youth go and the enemies of weakness, wrinkles, and age come to stay.

Our relationship friends: marriages, families, children, and actual friends, go. They grow up, move on, pass away, or replace us. Enemies of loneliness, rejection, and sorrow come knocking.

Our location friends: neighborhoods, workplaces, towns, and groups go. The enemies of unfamiliar settings and situations show up.

That “enemies accumulate” laughter leaves us a bit nervous and exposed. Life is rushing on. Losing our gains, we wrestle with feeling disappointed, disillusioned and even disgruntled.

“There are no U-Haul trailers behind hearses!” Another dark joke that gets us to laugh. We all know we “can’t take it with us” but, still, it’s hard to face sometimes.  We see former things passing away. The new is becoming more of an enemy than a friend.

The Men’s Wearhouse TV ads a few years back always closed with founder, George Zimmer, looking us in the eye and declaring: “You’re going to like the way you look. I guarantee it.”

His “I” with the word “guarantee” personally and powerfully assured us that George would stand behind his men’s clothing products. It was reassuring.

God gives reassuring “I” messages to us as well. He guarantees, “I have cared for you since you were born. Yes, I carried you before you were born. I will be your God throughout your lifetime— until your hair is white with age. I made you, and I will care for you. I will carry you along and save you.” (Isaiah 46:3–4) And, “I have chosen you and will not throw you away. Don’t be afraid, for I am with you. Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up with my victorious right hand.” (Isaiah 41:9–10, NLT)

Thankfully, God outdoes George. He guarantees, I’ve got you through your old age when those silly enemies start their yip-yapping!

King David testifies with an old age “I” message we can use too. He declares, “Once I was young, and now I am old. Yet I have never seen the godly abandoned or their children begging for bread.” (Psalm 37:25, NLT)

Paul the apostle gives us an old age “I” message too. As a weak, old man in prison awaiting execution by the Roman Emperor Nero (great retirement!) Paul asserts, “I am suffering here in prison, but I am not ashamed of it. For I know the one in whom I trust, and I am sure that he is able to guard what I have entrusted to him until the day of his return.” (2 Timothy 1:12, NLT)

Do you have enemies accumulating? Follow God, David, Paul, and George by declaring “I” messages about your faith out loud and on purpose. Look those enemies in the eye and declare something like, “ I know the one in whom I trust, and I am sure that he is able to guard what I have entrusted to him until the day of his return.”

It works, I guarantee it!

“Giv’m heaven!”— John Parker

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FAILURE, FRUSTRATION, CATASTROPHE! Your Keys to Success!

Failure, frustration and catastrophe are not part of our youthful dreams. No one dreams of someday getting a divorce; losing a job, career, or business; of bankruptcy or home foreclosure; or of death prematurely stealing a loved one.

When such failures, frustrations and catastrophes occur it’s easy to feel like a failure and not a success. That’s why Sumner Redstone’s quote is encouraging. The 93 year old media mogul declares, “Success is not built on success. It’s built on failure. It’s built on frustration. Sometimes its built on catastrophe.”

We smile at that, and think, maybe we can be successful too, in spite of all the junk we’ve been through! We smile even more when we realize that it’s the successful person’s ability to endure through failure, frustration and catastrophe that inspires.

Jesus is the King of Success! Did his life include failure, frustration, and catastrophe?  Yes! Yes! Yes!

Jesus failed. He was not able to do many powerful works in his own hometown. The locals knew him too well. Jesus explains, “It’s in his hometown, among his relatives, and in his own household that a prophet (person of God) is not received.” (Mark 6:5)

Jesus got frustrated. As he rides a donkey down the hill toward Jerusalem the crowd gets loud, shouting joyful praises implying that he is the promised Messiah.

Offended, religious leaders tell Jesus to control his fans. Jesus responds that, if he stops their cheering, the rocks will starting cry out for him instead.

It was then that frustration’s waves overwhelm Jesus. Gazing across the Kedron Valley at the Holy City tears start rolling down his face and he cries out, “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, how often I would have gathered you as a hen gathers her chicks but you would not let me do it.”

Like Jesus, when we try, and try, and try again and discover we can’t make things happen we get frustrated as well. When we see Jesus going through what we go through we experience what the Bible calls “the fellowship of his sufferings,” and we are drawn closer to him.

Jesus experienced catastrophe. That’s when everything falls apart beyond words and explanation.

Jesus’ catastrophe occurred on the cross. As his earthly life is bled and ripped away, he cries out, “Eli! Eli! Lama sabachthani!” meaning, “My God! My God! Why have you abandoned me?”

No one understands what he was saying. Most think he is crying out for the prophet Elijah to come and save him, or that he is thirsty, but they are wrong.

It’s catastrophic! Jesus the so-called Son of God, Son of David, and Messiah, endures the darkest depths of eternal hell as he cries out, “Why God? Why?” Torn away from direct communication with his true, eternal Father, he becomes sin for us. Earth quakes! Splitting rocks cry out! Hades rages!

And now, 2000 years later, we see Jesus, who, having endured the failure, frustration and catastrophe, now sitting down at the right hand of the throne of God, the true King of Success!

And we know that as we join with him, success is ours in spite of earthly failure, frustration, and catastrophe. “As we suffer with him we shall also reign with him!” Amen!

Giv’m Heaven!—John

John Parker pastors toward less formal more relational ways of being the Christian church. Locally, John facilitates Connections Simple Church 10 AM Sundays at Carty Center, 609 W. Robertson Blvd. Contact: john@simplechurchsuccess.com, or at (209) 564-7201.

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John’s Book: Chap.1. “And he fell among robbers…” Luke 10:30

Mary Martha Jesus OilMary, Martha, Lazarus and Jesus a
Story about Neighbors and Anxiety
Chapter 1 by John Parker

“And he fell among robbers…” Luke 10:30

Seeing the man half-dead alongside the road and hearing his blood scream from the ground, “Murder! Robbery! Evil!” the startled Samaritan stirs with compassion. He becomes the neighbor when he steps toward the fallen one.

The priest is a non-neighbor. He is passing by on the other side. Nothing to see here. Got things to do. Systems of schooling, scholarship, standing, status, and strength swept compassion away long, long ago.

The man of well-born religious tribe is also a non-neighbor. He too is passing by on the other side. Nothing to feel here. Not my problem. Things to do. Places to go. Duty calls. No looking back.

The Samaritan is becoming the neighbor. While arriving as the other two did, at the same place on that road, for him everything is different.

He sees. He feels. He acts. He heals. Touching the bloody human, binding up the wounds, pouring his own precious oil and wine into the stranger’s pain – love is happening. Professional plans step aside. Personal safety waits in line. Generosity and patience ascend. Time is lavished on the broken vessel.

Lifting the dirty, beaten, bloody stranger onto his own animal this half-breed, despised, Samaritan leads a triumphal procession of his own along the road to an inn somewhere. And – since there are no shouting children singing praises – the rocks cry out to heaven in songs only angels hear, “Hosanna in the Highest! And on earth, Peace and Goodwill.”

The Samaritan continues to concern himself with the helpless man. Concern. Not anxiety. No worry. His calm, non-anxious, presence carefully tends to the messy man.

Did the Samaritan know the innkeeper? Did the innkeeper know him? Some how a deal was struck – all on behalf of the wounded, robbed, forsaken neighbor. “All expenses paid when I return!”

“Deal!” Agrees the trusting innkeeper.

“Which of the three,” Jesus asks, “do you think showed that he had become and continued to be a neighbor to the man who had fallen among robbers?”

“The man who showed mercy!”

“Yes! Now go and do that too!” Jesus said.

That’s the way it is.

Everyone falls among robbers. Everyone get beaten, stripped, robbed and left half-dead.

Everyone has a neighbor. Everyone gets to be a neighbor. Jesus calls love the greatest commandment:  Love God. Love yourself. Love your neighbor. It is the command commanding all commandments!

This is a story about loving our neighbors – seeing one and being one – as we are going along the way.

I see you. I am stopping. I am binding your wounds. I am pouring in oil and wine. I am lifting you up to go on a ride with me on this dear beast named, My Life, to the inn that has room for you.

You can simply – Rest. Wonder. Grieve. Hope. Rage. Remember. Forget. Listen for love. It is here with you now. Receive. Believe. Life Lives!

Copyright © 2017 by John Parker

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Boring, Dull Meetings? 10 Skills for Leading Groups

10 Skills for Leading Groups:

Boring, disorganized, disconnected gatherings and groups—no one likes them. One person monopolizing, someone rudely disagreeing, another stonewalling and pouting, discourage.

Thankfully, leadership can help. But some leaders don’t know what they are doing and make matters worse. Here are Ten Team Leader Skills to improve your meetings of two or more people. They work at home too!

  1. Facilitating. The root idea of facilitate is to make something easier. Communication is difficult! Good group facilitating makes communication easier. Good facilitators start conversations then, generally, talk less than the others. They are the guide from the side, not the sage on the stage.
  2. Sharing. We are taught to share toys and such as toddlers. Adults sharing is more often about words, information and power—threatening!

A skillful leader shares and encourages sharing. Extroverts may over share.  Introverts may under share.  Both need a wise, assertive, kind facilitator get everyone to play, and share, well together.

  1. Question. Good leaders draw others out and guide with thoughtful questions.

Open questions encourage participants to expand their answer. Using the “news reporter” words, Who, What When, Where, Why and How help create open questions.  “What would you like to talk about?” is an open question.

Closed questions can often be answered with one word. “Would anyone else like to share?” is a closed question. It can be answered with yes, no, or maybe.

  1. Listening. The late, great, M. Scott Peck, M.D, writes “Listening well is an exercise of attention and by necessity hard work. It is because they do not realize this or because they are not willing to do the work that most people do not listen well.”

Leaders, if you ask a question, try to listen. Listening well is the surest way to build trust and genuine caring in any relationship. “Active listening…requires that the listener fully concentrate, understand, respond and then remember what is being said.”  (Wikipedia)  Meeting leaders and participants can easily get distracted from active listening.

  1. Courage. This is bravery from the heart. The French root caries the idea of sharing “what is in one’s mind or thoughts.” The group leader is helping everyone be courageous in loving ways. “Speaking the truth in love” (Ephesians 4:15) is the sign of healthy group.
  2. Accepting. Leaders teach group members not to gasp, role eyes, shake heads in disgust, or shout, “You’re wrong!” when we hear something with which we don’t agree. We are learning to happily accept each other as we have been “accepted in the Beloved.”(Ephesians 1:3)
  3. Believing. The leader believes in people and their worth. We teach and model this. We affirm the Scripture “love believes all things,” so we temper our reactions and judgments.
  4. Recognizing. Like a skilled auctioneer the group leader recognizes individuals in the group¾their contributions, questions and concerns.  The leader fosters appreciation for contributions and teaches the group do so as well.
  5. Willingness. This involves open-mindedness, willingness to truly listen and exercise consideration. The growing leader models graciousness. We are unwilling to put down, block, hinder or snuff out. We are willing to bind up, fan into flame and to encourage. (see Matthew12:20)
  6. Vision. The leader is patiently, persistent inspiring! We have a lot to learn but imagine how great it will be if we get a little bit better at communicating.

Giv’m Heaven!—John

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Get comfortable when you’re not! Think Mesopotamia!

mesopotamia-mapMesopotamia ancient name for the land that lies between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers (in modern Iraq), from Greek mesopotamia, literally “a country between two rivers,” from feminine of mesopotamos, from mesos “middle” (see medial (adj.)) + potamos “river” (see potamo).

“In the 19 century (1800s)  the word sometimes was used in the sense of “anything which gives irrational or inexplicable comfort to the hearer,” based on the story of the old woman who told her pastor that she “found great support in that comfortable word Mesopotamia” [“Brewer’s Dictionary of Phrase & Fable,” 1870].” (from the Online Etymological Dictionary…one of my favorites for word origins).

Now, next time you feel caught in the middle, you will be able, like the wise woman,  to testify, “You know I felt awkward, trapped, and even caught in the middle of the conflict (heated debate, opinion-fest, mindless argument, brouhaha). But lately I’ve been finding ‘great support in that comfortable word Mesopotamia.'”

The Bible verse that got me started talks about being “in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation*.”

“…for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure. Do all things without grumbling or disputing, that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst (from mesos “middle” – see above) of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, holding fast to the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I may be proud that I did not run in vain or labor in vain.” (Philippians 2:13–16, ESV)


* generation — 1074. γενεά geneá;  i.e., a multitude of contemporaries. In NT Gr. geneá literally means space of time, circle of time, which only in a derived sense signifies the meaning of a time, a race; then generally in the sense of affinity of communion based upon the sameness of stock. (Strong’s Greek #1074)

Yes! “Think Mesopotamia” to get calm and courageous, then reply to John  Parker (DBA: me) with your fun thoughts!

P.S. Mesopotamia = Adam and Eve country!

“A river flowed out of Eden to water the garden, and there it divided and became four rivers. The name of the first is the Pishon. It is the one that flowed around the whole land of Havilah, where there is gold. And the gold of that land is good; bdellium and onyx stone are there. The name of the second river is the Gihon. It is the one that flowed around the whole land of Cush. And the name of the third river is the Tigris, which flows east of Assyria. And the fourth river is the Euphrates.” (Genesis 2:10–14, ESV)

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