Category Archives: EYE2EYE

A Crack in The Skylight

rayschangeii“A great deal of talent is lost to the world for want of a little courage. Every day sends to their graves obscure men whose timidity prevented them from making a first effort.” Phillip Sidney

The holding ponds of poverty possess tons of undiscovered talent.  The artist yearning to open our hearts to new insights in mix of color and fantasy lies trapped in a depressive weave of indecisions.  A singer capable of wowing our hearts with passionate expression struggles confined to the limitations of societal boundaries.  A musician holds back a symphony of untold beauty imprisoned by lack of an instrument.

Fear of rejection stifles.  Fear of failure strangles.  Fear of success suppresses.  Fear and lack of resources to move forward put great immoveable lids over the cooking pots of positive expression.  Our world is poorer bound by our own limitations of class and culture.

The snippet of heart represented in this picture talks to me.  Ray drew this, when I asked him to describe on a poster what happens in a Life Skills class.  There is more to this piece and there is more to Ray.   You can view the full piece.  VIEW HERE   Ray is full of artistic potential waiting to be exposed.  He is a compassionate man and a friend from one of our classes.  In the picture you see the transformed thoughts of a man creating a beautiful world for his family and friends and himself.  That really is what the Life Skills workshop does for those that respond.  It opens opportunity.

In a goal setting session, a young woman broke emotionally.  She yearns to sing and praise God with her talents, but has been rejected by churches due to her mistakes.  Some of the rejection is self imposed, but much of it is imposed by our cultural and class expectation. When she told me how she wanted to use her talent, I challenged her to come sing for our congregation on Sunday.  Over the next few minutes, I watched a miracle unfold.

The entire class rallied behind her.  One gave witness to the talent she possessed and wanted to listen.  One encouraged her to try again.  One exchanged phone numbers and said she would play with her.  When she went to the piano in the auditorium and began to play and sing, the house came down.  It was just us from the class standing in the doorway, but it was the angels and God, Himself, who joined.  She was like a skylight covered in darkness and a crack broke through to let out the shine.

After expressing her heart in song, she shared a little more of her story with me and we wept.  Then she made a comment I cannot forget.  It will define CTI for decades.  “I have another friend, xxxxx.  She is looking for a safe place to come.  I’m going to call her and bring her, too.”  Her statement rocked me.  Her assessment of churches, community organizations, government institutions and the world rattled me with truth.  A crack formed in my skylight.

To many people in the struggle to step up and step out of some pain or poverty, our answers are unsafe.  If I open my life and ask for help will you push me down further or listen and lift me?  If I expose my pain and passion will you allow me to express it or fasten a lid of limited expectation on my hopes and dreams?  Are you safe?  Is it safe to connect with you or do I have to conform to all of your ideas immediately?  Is it okay to have a relationship with you and your organization without agreeing to all you are?  Can I be me as I am today and walk alongside as we change together?

Another quietly pulled me aside.  She wants parenting training, but has been unprofessionally treated by a recent encounter.  The organization openly exposed her pains in her workplace.  Her reputation and job were threatened.  She won’t go back there.  Would we take care of her?  She trusts us to keep her safe and confidential.

These are the sons and daughters of our city.  That’s how I view them.  They’ve had some mistakes in life.  Failure is an event not a person.  We refuse to let them be labeled and defined by events along the path to promise and potential.  Let’s make it safe.

CTI is a safe place because the people we reach tell us we are a safe place.  We are not safe by our definition.  No organization or group of people is safe by self definition.  We are safe when the ragged and reluctant and rejected tell us we are safe.  I am honored to be declared “safe” by those we serve.  It is an honored trust and an environment in which talent can blossom and cracks can form that let out undiscovered dignity and talent.  Oh, to be safe, that is a worthy goal.

You can support the efforts of Community Transformation Initiative through your giving fund at the National Christian Foundation (nationalchristian.com) or through direct giving (GIVE).  Help us provide the safe place for fathers and families and sons and daughters to grow and shine.

Forsaken? A Smooth Path Forward

Psalm 27:10-13 When my father and my mother forsake me, then the Lord will take care of me. Teach me Your way, O Lord, And lead me in a smooth path, because of my enemies. Do not deliver me to the will of my adversaries; for false witnesses have risen against me, and such as breathe out violence. I would have lost heart, unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the Lord In the land of the living.

Our nation cringes in a fatherless morass. 40% of our children go to bed with dad gone. 40% are being born into never married situation in an unprecedented spiral of fractured family. People care. I know you care, Greater Mt. Carmel.

The impact of a fatherless family leans to poverty, behavioral disorder, juvenile detention, suicide, and drop outs in school. No one wants that society. The impact of fatherfulness leads to better school performance, increased compassion, stable and secure identity, and a better life forward.

I pray you find ways to develop the environment of stable families through your action and example. Families need a smooth path. Families need relief from their adversaries. Families need escape from false ideologies that do violence to our children. You can give heart to families to see goodness in their lives now.  You can be the hand of this scriptural promise.  You can live a prophetic life of change.

The two links below speak to ways men can encourage their sons and daughters into a different life. Really, we all can encourage a better life forward for our neighborhood, congregation, community, state, and nation. It just takes each of us doing what we can do.

Father, here is a family and friend. I friend and family before you. Whether a family of one or many, bless the home. Be the smooth path.  Give relief from adversaries. Walk in escape from false ideologies that do damage to protection and provision and contentment and commitment and nurturing. Give heart  to see goodness in this life, now.

CrimeSceneRecovery

MoreThanASpermDonor

To make a difference today support CTI’s work among hard pressed families restoring hope with education, encouragement and engagement (click here).

Phil Larson 405-388-8037
www.communitytransformationinitiative.org (blog,FB,Twitter,Slideshare)
to support financially
Community Transformation c/o PrayerMetro, Inc. 501c3
508 Tumbleweed Dr. Yukon, Ok 73099
Share every good thing you have with anyone who teaches you what God has said (CEV) Galatians 6:6
I am not trying to get something from you, but I want you to receive the blessings that come from giving. Philippians 4:17

Fashionable is…. responsible fathering, family, and friendship

Community Transformation Initiative, friend, is an active, ongoing concern.

Good day, my friend. How often does someone say, “Good day” o “Buen Dias” to you? Do they mean it? I do. And I’m willing to make it happen, not just say it. This battle must be fought, friend.
A few twenty-somethings working on life skills wrote these notes back. It is a beginning for each of them.

I believe I have learned to know now what my true feeling are, and how to act when I feel angry.

I’ve learned : Understanding how I got here. Negotiating problems. Responding to anger.

I am better at talking to people. I also know how to control my anger better.

I’d like to help others the way I wanted to get helped

To step back and think about the issue, problem, or analyze the scenario fully before you attempt to deal with it to get the best possible outcome.

I know what I have wanted to change but laying it all (out) has really helped me put my plans into action.

That is real stuff. Real curbside change. It is a start. It is a good start for them, their children, their families, and their friends.

A hard question comes to me often. What do you do when the foundations are destroyed, %FirstName%?
Respond to fractured families, uncommitted fathers, divorce as a lifestyle, addiction and co dependency as a normative, violence as a status quo, and me-ism as the accepted point of decision. Hmmm. Move that cultural malaise to moral integrity, personal responsibility, and community accountability. Stabilize and repair and launch into positive success one person, one family, one neighborhood, one community, one state, and one nation at a time.
The answer is simple but not easy. If it was easy, it would over. The battle rages. It must be fought.
Two weeks ago I was in Chicago working with 40 businesses in a workshop on strategic planning at an industry conference. Bouncing off business leaders keeps me sharp. Three weeks ago I was in OKC as part of a think-tank of 100+ business and community leaders asking that foundation question. Networking enables fresh thought. Every week I’m in Gainesville, Texas and Oklahoma City face up with individuals and groups working on the solutions through Life Skills, Dad’s University, Family Builders, and personal one-one. This is the grassroots touch and change activity. Regularly legislators are challenged (we have 3300 on our list). Influencers need support. This battle must be fought.
What are you doing? How are you focusing your time and energy and giving to make that foundation move? How can I help you get the job done?
Three questions come to me in every one of these situations. Who am I? What am I chasing? What differentiates?
Who am I? CTI is a skill building, problem solving assistance for individuals and families and communities. We use research and evidence based approaches alongside personal intervention strategies focused on fathering, parenting, and relationship. Life Skills, Dad’s University, and Family Builders course approaches put feet on the ground in the community. Joint events open new eyes with information and influence.
What am I chasing? Community change to moral integrity, personal responsibility, and community accountability from the household to influencers in government, education, business, religion, and community. We want responsible and healthy fathering and families and friendships to be fashionable and desired.
What differentiates? No fear. From curbside to board room. Community networking and integration of efforts.
How can I help you? Where can I come alongside, %FirstName%? This battle must be fought.
What do you do when the foundations are destroyed? Take these three questions and apply them to your activity and giving. Put your time, talent and treasure to work effectively.
Prayer: Father, I pray for a good day for my friend. I pray for good family and good friendship to surround them. I pray for moral integrity, personal responsibility, and community accountability to overtake fractured families around them. Give my friend influence to bring a Good Day to a friend and to a family member. Bring a Good Day that builds a good week that influences a good month that enables a good year that stabilizes, repairs, and launches positive results that last a lifetime. Do it, Father. Come alongside and fight this battle for right living, joy, and peace in Your Holy Spirit, in our lives. Your kingdom come. Your will be done. On our curbside.

Give Now! Give Continually.

Phil Larson 405-388-8037
www.communitytransformationinitiative.org (blog,FB,Twitter,Slideshare)
to support financially
Community Transformation 501c3
508 Tumbleweed Dr. Yukon, Ok 73099
Share every good thing you have with anyone who teaches you what God has said (CEV) Galatians 6:6
I am not trying to get something from you, but I want you to receive the blessings that come from giving. Philippians 4:17

Adrian Peterson’s Hope

adrianpetersonBy Angela Fashimpaur

There are articles all over Facebook villifying Adrian Peterson for his actions towards his son, and they make me sick. I am not here to defend his actions at all, but perhaps my life experiences lend a different perspective, and I hope a few of you might hear me out. What I heard in his press statement was a broken son and a broken father….in our years as foster parents we cried tears of anger over our fair share of broken bodies and spirits, and sometimes it was not the child’s. Abuse is a cycle, a culture, it’s so viciously and deeply rooted that many don’t recognize it fully in themselves until something like this happens. I’ve held a hurting child and HATED their parents for what they did – until I met their parents and found myself in front of another broken child with many more years of scars to show for it, both physical and emotional. It doesn’t excuse their actions or change the consequences, but it does help to understand and to address the bigger issue. An advocate for families and fathering recently said that he persists for one question that haunts him, “what if someone had been there for my dad.” What if, instead of having DHS or the tabloids on speed dial, we pressed into the pain with love. What if someone had been there for Adrian Peterson as a young adult or now as a young father? What if that person is your neighbor whose shouting you hear or a parent in your child’s school who belittled his child in front of the class? What if you pressed in with love instead of accusations? Maybe there wouldn’t be 12,000 children in our state’s custody today. Maybe there would be one less senseless tabloid. Maybe……just what if…..
Church, those who call yourselves by the name of Christ, this is the love Jesus demonstrated for us and the love He calls us to give freely and without expectation. While we were filthy abusers, murderers, liars, and thieves, Jesus took the consequence we deserved in order to break the cycle and call us by his own name instead of that of our accuser

Happy Father’s Day

sarynandpopaFather’s Day comes with mixed emotions. Some have great fathers and some have fathers absent in body or mind or emotion. Some have lost their fathers to divorce or death or disease. Some struggle to know how to be a father. It is certainly a hard task.
Be encouraged today that God, the heavenly Father, is committed to you. He will see you through life as only the best father can. Earthly fathers will fail us, but He is always with us. He is committed to love you, believe in you, forgive you, encourage you, and stand beside you. He will see you through.
Happy Father’s Day to every dad on the job out there.
Happy Father’s Day to the heavenly Father.
He will see you through.

AT GETHSEMANE, YOU NEED TO KNOW.

fdcomponent1A prayer supporter sent me a note encouraging Gethsemane level commitment.  A probationer holding his own out of our Gainesville class sent me a word of encouragement.   A woman ready to throw off a life of drugs and abuse and father abandonment pains asks for counsel.  State legislators from 10 states send thanks and ask for personal intercession.  20 men gather at the Jesus House like baby chicks reaching for food to be trained in fathering and family.  Thousands read a lesson or encouragement on a variety of facebook, blog, direct mail, and email outreaches.  A man looks at me and says, “You mean you can help me not go back to prison for the seventh time if I learn this and use it?”  He is tough, hard, rough, and weeping with hope that he can live with his family.  A kid in a neighborhood of 80% fatherless homes sees a man in his school wearing a Watch D.O.G.S. t-shirt and smiling at him.  The man is a volunteer.  He has no children, but he is there.  Another desperate dad signs up for Dad’s University. A city council, chamber of commerce, or Rotary Club is informed and updated on issues and answers.  A leadership meeting of 80 key community actors in business and government and congregations and non-profits is convened with a national speaker.

Welcome to my normal day.  It happens with 3300 state legislators in 34 states.  It happens in Marietta, Oklahoma, Gainesville, Texas, Matamoros, Mexico, and Oklahoma City, Oklahoma where we have campuses in motion to support families.  It happens in my home office, my car, on the internet, face to face, in our Marietta and Gainesville training centers, at the Jesus House, at Tulakes Elementary, en las colonias, at CAREVI, in community centers, on the phone and through books.  It happens with 14-18 hour days.

At Gethsemane, you need to know you are doing the right thing.

When I filed my taxes, I was confident I would be audited.  No one can get all of this done on a ridiculously low level of funding.  We did.  Last year Community Transformation Initiative brought in less than $40,000. I serve as the secretary, tax consultant, lawyer, accountant, office administrator, business developer, trainer, purchasing agent, event coordinator, writer, webmaster, marketer, counselor, and volunteer coordinator.  Everything gets done a little bit.  Nothing gets done at the level of excellence for which my heart cries. I am a scrapper, an entrepreneur, an inventor, a visionary, and an organizer.  I am relentlessly driven to do the right thing.

At Gethsemane, you need to know your commission.

The commission of Elijah and John, the Baptist and Jesus Christ is to turn the heart of the father to the child.  And they’ve handed me and you the baton.  I remember the day Dr. Ken Canfield put a baton in my hand to do the work of fathering.  I pick it up regularly and say, “Yes, Father.”   Every day is a Gethsemane prayer, “Father, this is your child, Phil, nevertheless, not my will, but thine.”   Every day requires a miracle to get to the next one.  I don’t complain.  I’ve watched good man after good man stand up and sit down on this job.  I’m still standing.  Scriptural principle says, “Do everything as unto the Lord and not unto men.  Do it without grumbling and complaining.”  I knew when I committed my life as a missionary to men that it would be rough.

At Gethsemane, you sacrifice and sacrifice that others might live.

People love to give to maintain poverty and provide patches.  It feels good. Really working at the root and changing men is not popular.  Unless the heart of the father is turned to the child our nation will continue to smitten with the curse of abortion, divorce, pornography, abuse, neglect, abandonment, drugs and alcohol.  It won’t happen preaching to the church choirs.  It will only happen in the dirty, nasty work where D comes.  D has four children by four women in four neighborhoods.  He looks to change and goes and gets other men like himself.  He comes every time I can be in his neighborhood.  But $ backing ran out.  All we need is a little gas money and income to live.  There is probably $2 million a year spent in his neighborhood on after school fun for kids, single mom support, sports engagement, tutoring, and other patches.  And he cries for someone to touch his father heart and bring it to life, so he can do all of that with the dignity of fatherhood and the power of love and the equipment of knowledge and the responsibility of being a manHe wants to be the solution.  Instead, his family gets maintenance.

Maintenance is good.  It keeps the dogs of despair at bay.  But it is not working positive community change.  The statistics get worse every year.  More people depend on benevolence and subsistence, more kids go to foster care, more mentors are needed, and more homes are without fathers.  You can’t effect change with maintenance.  Maintenance is well, maintenance.  It maintains the issues, the problems, and the pain at a tolerable level until our sensitivity and acceptance drops another notch lower and we are drugged into a lull of more maintenance.

At Gethsemane, you do the right thing.

At a low point in the struggle, I sat across coffee with Tom, a veteran of business and community transformation, looking for some wisdom.  “Phil, God only asks you to obey.  Do the right thing.  He is in charge of the results.”  There was not enough money in the bank to last another week.  When the money runs out, I’ll go back to business.  My family deserves a decent living and an available husband, dad, and granddad. They sacrifice me so other families can be strengthened.  It is hard.  I appreciate my wife and kids and grandkids more than anyone can believe.  I missed a family birthday party last week.  It hurt. They were fatherless for an afternoon so that others might be fathered.  A surprise check from a surprise source put me back to work in the hard zone for another few weeks.

At times, I have to step away from families, let them die, and work a business contract to pay my bills.  Those are dark days.  They hurt.  I don’t mind a little bit and really, staying connected to the results-oriented business mindset keeps me from building an ineffective outreach of maintenance.  I’m good at helping businesses organize, fix issues, and market.  It is fun.   But, it hurts when I have to depend on it and every hour spent there leaves a group of families in distress and dependence on maintenance.

At Gethsemane, you give.

Now, here is your Gethsemane challenge.  All it would take to move from struggle to sustaining is 100 giving 100 a month.  That is 100, men, women, or businesses giving $100 a month to turn the hearts of the fathers to their children.  To move from sustaining to impact would take another 100 giving 100.  To move from impact to community transformation would take another 100 giving 100.  To be truthful, most non-profits with one tenth of our effectiveness operate on more than that.  We are excellent stewards and results oriented operators.

timetolead

Time to Lead: Steps to transformation for you and those you lead. by Philip Larson Link: http://amzn.com/1497525039

The Community Transformation Initiative lives when you give.  For over a decade as a businessman, I’ve been the giver, doer, and connector.  Now, I need to be the trainer of trainers, organizer, and developer of an impact organization that will outlast all our lifetimes and effect family transformation and move the statistics to the plus side.  It needs to happen in the tough zones and it needs to happen now.  We are living in a society of increasing fatherless homes, increasing drug and alcohol, increasing violence, increasing poverty, increasing abuse, and decreasing family stability.  There are more children fatherless today, who have never had a father, than total fatherlessness in 1960. They are born to women in their 20s and 30s, who have no desire to have husbands.  These women are professionals, skilled workers and normal citizens.  Their fathers have not been there for them. They are not all welfare recipients.  This generation has given up.

Our sensitivity has been dulled into acceptance of this condition.  It is not Godly, it is not going to go away by itself, and it must change.  It will only change by turning the heart of the father to the child.

The power of change is in your bank account and your spare time.  I’ll train you to go out and do the work, if you will enter Gethsemane with me.  I’ll take your dollars and train others, if you will enter Gethsemane with me.  Give like no one else is giving.  Let’s get this effectiveness to thousands and see our community changed.goal

When I receive your first gift, I will send you a copy of my book, Time To Lead.  It is a study of Hezekiah and 54 other world leaders in business, community, government, and military, who worked to transform.  Hezekiah effected radical community change through leadership.  You can too.

Community Transformation Initiative  508 Tumbleweed Dr., Yukon, Oklahoma 73099

Phil@shepherdok.com  www.communitytransformationinitiative.org/the-giving-page/

Father Suffocates Crying Baby So He Could Keep Playing Xbox

To suffocate a child one must first strangle himself.  In a world of enigmas, this one points to a huge loss of heart for children.  Socially, we have depraved ourselves of human interaction.  Replaced by over stimulation of self gratification, a normal love of others is suffocated.  Is this isolated?  Hardly.  It is demonstrative.

http://www.modvive.com/2014/04/18/father-suffocates-crying-baby-keep-playing-xbox/