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The Lord is With Us  Click on this to read the pdf or just keep reading.

The Lord is With Us: Build the House

Nehemiah prayed simple prayers in struggling situations. Challenged to do an amazing work for an ungrateful people in a land of pain and problems, Nehemiah prayed simple prayers and took significant action. The task was immeasurably daunting, but he knew God sent him to do it.

 Give Your servant success today, and have compassion on him in the presence of this man.

In the beginning of his vision, he opened with repentance and reminding God of His promises. Then you simply asked for success and compassion.

 They said, “Let’s start rebuilding,” and they were encouraged (put their hands to work) to do this good work.

When he had assessed the situation, and formed a small coalition, he went to the people and they responded just as simple.  They said, ”Let’s start”, and put their hands to the work.

 Remember me favorably, my God, for all that I have done for this people.

he was pushed against the wall and ready to move forward, he asked for favor.

 But now, my God, strengthen me.

At a critical juncture, he asked for strength.

In our work to reach North Texas and Southern Oklahoma, I relate to Nehemiah.  A destroyed culture of violence, alcohol, and family dysfunction needs built into a haven. People are afraid to bring their families into this area.  Yet, there is a rising tide of changed lives ready to come together and build.  Such things start small.  That happened to Nehemiah also.

One night, after a painful day struggling against my crippled knee, I sat out on the front porch of our building in Gainesville.  The air was cool and crisp and the kids and workers were gone after a successful night of outreach.  That morning we trained probation officers, a pastor, and some strugglers in Mental Health First Aid.  I had spent the last two days with some 1-1 with potential pastors, who might join our work.  And I was exhausted.  The thought entered my mind, “Why not just do the church thing?  The money would come.  Church people would come. Sure, the strugglers would feel as unwelcome as they do in all the churches, but hey, I could kick back and relax and let the normal flow.”

A car struggled into the parking lot with much rattling and noise.  As it pulled up and parked, no one got out.  My knee was so painful, I just waited in my chair.  20 feet away in the dark, someone wanted ministry and I did not have the physical stamina to walk to them.  Finally, a familiar voice spoke, and two people came out of the vehicle.  One was covered head to toe in grease.  The other showed signs of a meth addict, who had not had a fix in a few days.

We visited outside for a few minutes, and I summoned enough endurance to put up with pain and took them inside for a cup of coffee and some water.  The man had brought $20 that he had outstanding on a workshop.  Probably the only $20 he had.  He went through the building and started inventorying jobs he wanted to do to help get us ready for our next step in ministry outreach.  Before his crash, he had had a successful business custom painting and remodeling million-dollar homes.

Here I was, a trained executive, a builder of huge works in business and the kingdom, walking and listening to two strugglers with lives lived in disaster looking over a building and a city in ruins with little more than an unrelenting dream to see a difference. What was I doing here?  Like Nehemiah, counselor to the ruler of the world at the time looking over a destroyed city away from his family and friends, I live out of my comfort zone.

They said, “Let’s start rebuilding,” and they were encouraged to do this good work. Last week, this same man had shown up unannounced and manicured our campus.  It took six hours with two men to get it into shape.  Unannounced.  He has a mind to build.  Here he was again.

But now, my God, strengthen me.  My knee is crippled.  I had already missed teaching Wednesday night’s bible study due to exhaustion and pain.  Here I was back in the middle of the mess.

The two began to talk about their church experiences and being put out due to their struggles and how they wanted to connect family and rebuild.

They looked at me and answered my unasked question, “Why are you standing up now?”

The man answered without being asked. “I had no hope until I came here.  Now I have hope.”

Both asked to be baptized and made fresh commitments to Christ. We prayed, and a peace descended from God where usually drugs were called upon for peace that doesn’t last.

The night before, a couple met with me and explained how their marriage had been healed using wisdom from our Life Skills workshop.  The man stared intently into my eyes and told me that they had no hope until working with me. Another couple came into the sanctuary and asked about helping on the worship team.  They had given up hope of connecting in a church.  Both couples had their children in the custody of the state for differing reasons.  But Hope is their haven.

And, I repented of my unbelief. Remember me favorably, my God, for all that I have done for this people. No, we will not do the churchy thing. We will build the house with loving, face to face discipleship and small groups.  We will reach out to the most damaged people and see them created new in Christ.

Give Your servant success today, and have compassion on him in the presence of this man.

That is my prayer today.  We have developed a strong reputation for wisdom, life change and compassion in North Texas.  Our small team has huge faith.  Our team in workshops and worship and works around the campus from grass clipping to kid’s ministry have all struggled with violence and alcohol and drugs and family dysfunction at points in the past.  Some closer in time than others.  They have been recreated in Christ into something new and strong.  Jesus said, “Go and make disciples.”

That is the tough work of the kingdom. Disciplemaking is the work.  Fixing fractured families is the challenge. Eventually they will be the ones to support the work financially.  They are certainly the ones getting the work done.

Right now, they need your help.  We have a challenge.  A donor has committed $10,000 in matching funds if we can raise that much by the end of year.  That $10k plus the matching will add to our hodgepodge of contracts, workshop fees, present partners, and savings to get another trained worker alongside.  Our volunteer team is awesome.  They are on their way to being certified peer specialists. We need professionally trained workers with them.

Two “right now” opportunities need your support.

  1. A pilot program of pre-trial diversion can help 100 light and first time offenders a year. We can mentor them for six months and help them build better lives instead of entering the prison system. Right now, we need $3,000 a month for nine months to match the fees they will pay. Will you help with one?  $100 a month supports one through the pilot.
  2. Another congregation is ready to be trained 15 miles south of us. To train the team over the next eight months and launch them is not expensive.  $2500 will do it and get them started. They can serve another 30 a year at their site.

Join the team.  May God give us favor in your eyes today.  May you see with vision the work in which you can participate.  The best way you can give is to send a check. Then we don’t have to pay credit/debit fees.  But we also have the convenience of online at solumcommunity.net/give.  You give one time or make a monthly commitment or whatever hits your fancy.  These families need your support.

Hebrews 13:16 and do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased.

capturephil

 

 

Phil Larson, The Think Dr.

Rejoicing in the Good, When Hard Has Been the Journey

Fixing Fractured Families: That is a worthy goal. As a leader, I want families fixed. Maybe you do to. There are different ways to get it done, but it is hard work no matter what way you work on it. Resistence is assured, friend. What happens when you finally have a victory against a string of hard struggle? Whether it is my struggle to see families fixed or you have a different struggle, the principles are the same. Friend, I think today of the many struggles of recovery in the South USA from weather and North from fires and our culture in all parts to find a unity of heart and purpose.
Psalm 16:9 Therefore my heart is glad, and my whole being rejoices; my flesh also dwells secure. ESV
That’s why my heart celebrates and my mood is joyous; yes, my whole body will rest in safety CEV
Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices; my body also will rest secure NIV
Every so often, you will find a verse in the original language that defies exact matching translation from different eras and interpretive groups.  This one fits that description.  Many times, it is because an idiomatic phrase is contained or there is such emotion and expression, it is hard to put into a single phrase.   So let me expand this one.
My heart is glad and celebrates in great joy.  With my whole being inside and out, I am excited and alive; my tongue must shout and declare this joy.  It cannot be contained or restrained.  A great sense of peace and restfulness and security envelops my body and mind and spirit.  Phil’s version
Entering In: Entering in to health and joy is many times is preceded by great struggle and pain.  Our habits become acclimated to the struggle.  Our daily routines become expectant of the pain.  A friend going through back surgery shared some of her story.  The doctors instructed her that ghost pain would continue for some time.  Though the surgery is successful and removes even some nerve endings, our minds are trained to find pain at times of day and particular motions.  The pain is not there physiologically.  Yet, the pain is there in our minds.  The conditioning of ill health forms a barrier even when we are healed to enjoying the new freedom.
Rested Health: Now, that quotation that is a picture of great health and well being.  That is a picture of restful trust in God and God alone.  That is a picture of one that has wrestled with God and found Him to be more interested in securing our hearts that controlling our actions.  That is a picture of one, who has encountered fierce angers and pains and problems and illness and has come through to a new realization that the presence and leading of the Father brings us to refreshing and rest.  That is a wonderful picture. Is it attainable?
Breaking Conditional Barriers: In my own experience, I find it difficult to rest after an intense time of development of a business thrust or a strained season with a client.  Though the situation is ended and the issues are resolved, my daily expectation of another problem wrestles with my restfulness.  A wise executive once commented to me, “Even when we receive a new and different and positive answer, we hear the old negative one that is so common.”  He did not say it just like that, but you get the point.
There must be a time of “glory rejoicing” to break the conditional barriers of ill health and negative situations.  Celebrate.  This unspeakable joy works internally for us to remove scar tissues and sensitive nerves of mind and will and emotion and body.  Then we can receive the new and positive situation and answer.  This transition must happen.  It is a barrier breaker.
Returns at Customer Service: Discount retailers dedicate a large area for returned and damaged merchandise.  It is not a happy place.  There is not a lot of smiling for anyone.  When you find a smiling employee working that area, your frustration is defused at having to come back to the store. The transaction becomes more pleasant.  That employee is giving a rejoicing to a healing situation.  The item is broken.  You are receiving a replacement.  That should be joyful.  Yet, you lost value when you tried to use it at home and it broke.  You lost positive expectation and trust.  Now, the item and positive expectation must return before you can get full value.
Broken bones and aching hearts and rent emotions and lingering illness in our body cause us to lose positive expectation and trust in God.  We expect nothing.  Worse than that, we expect bad.  We expect anger and frustration and continuance of a wrong situation.   And we get what we expect until we expectantly express ourselves into a different result after the new answer of health and healing and restoration and replacement is received.
Prayer:
Father, there is a great life available through You and Your presence and Your word for me and for this friend. 
You are life.
You are healing.
You are “Yes” to all Your promises.
You are “Amen” to all Your commitments.
Cause rejoicing to resound in the camp of out heart.  Let us release the joy of the moment that heals and conditions us to hear, “Yes, you are healed.”
Walk with us today, Father, as You heal negative expectation built on real experience with tough living. Let joys restore a new hearing and receptivity to our full health.
 
Family Facts: The effort is worth it.  In our thrust to find solutions in the new urban/rural of the USA, we’ve seen good results that are sustainable.  Check them out at https://solumcommunity.net/give/2016-results-2017-plan/
Phil Larson, Director SOLUM Community Transformation Initiative
Training Offices: 3404 N Grand Ave, Gainesville, Tx 76240
Home Office: 508 Tumbleweed Dr., Yukon, Ok 73099
cell/text 405.388.8037

Ask – Answer – Action

it-matters-4-137-768x403

Over the last several years, we’ve been able to be a word of encouragement to leaders.  Alongside, we offer information relevant to family building.  Our nation struggles with family building and suffers in relation to this struggle.   What came first, the struggle with family or the plethora of related social ills associated with the breakdown?  That is a question with few answers.  The question that makes a difference is, “What do we do with where we are to go where we want to be?”  Now that is a question worth ask, answer, and action.

 The link below is a quick read with some limited, but worthy notes of what can help when budgets are tight.  Focusing finances is task we all must achieve with effectiveness and efficiency.  At SOLUM CTI, we are launching a purposeful kids community education program targeting what works in the community closest to us.  We can’t do everything, but we can do one thing.

 I pray for you, friend, that you and those you work alongside find the one thing that can make a definable difference in your community.  Move it forward.  Move it closer to where it needs to be.  Ask – answer – action.  Sure, it is not that simple.  It takes work, coordination, communication, consternation, and consideration.  The community is worth it.

 Thank you for serving, friend.  May the The Father, from which every family get’s its name and commission, meet you in the hallways of decision.  May He pour wisdom into your soul and insight into your vision for your community. May He open 2017 as an Age of Adventure like no other year you have lived.

 Family Facts:

http://www.irp.wisc.edu/publications/fastfocus/pdfs/FF17-2013.pdf

Institute on the Research on Poverty  University of Wisconsin-Madison  Katherine Magnuson

excerpt from summary: Several early childhood interventions have also been shown to produce short-term and long-term benefits. Magnuson notes that the evidence supporting the effectiveness of high-quality, center-based early childhood education is strong, concluding that, in times of tight budgets when difficult funding decisions must be made, the research findings summarized in this brief imply that investing in policies and programs aimed at families with young children is a good use of restricted resources

 Phil Larson, President ;-{)
cell/text 405.388.8037  solumcommunity.net 
SOLUM Community Transformation Initiative
National Offices: 508 Tumbleweed Dr. Yukon, Oklahoma 73099

Branch Community Center: 3404 N Grand Ave, Gainesville, Tx 76240

 

 

This is a free and apolitical encouragement with informational additions.  If you would like to be removed from the encouragement please reply to this message with the word ‘unsubscribe’ in the subject line.  May the Lord bless you and keep you.  May the Lord make His face to shine upon you.  May the Lord give you peace.

The Prize Goes to the Winner: Success has 4 Cs not two.

How does it work? The 4 Cs of Success produce a consistent and congruent contribution. Here is the formula (Character + Competence + Compassion + Chemisty) x (Consistency + Congruency) = Contributi…

Source: The Prize Goes to the Winner: Success has 4 Cs not two.

Leave an Opening

fcahuddleA group of businessmen blessed me with a large, framed version of the Influence picture of the FCA some years back. The picture hangs outside my office in Gainesville to remind me that we are being watched. I’ve never been a member of FCA, but as a faith-based initiative I certainly support them.
A prebeliever (that’s somebody who doesn’t get it yet) dropped in recently to volunteer some time to help our outreach. Most of what we get done from cutting grass, cleaning building, event support, etc is done by prebelievers. As we visited, he offered what he saw in the picture. We are faith-based and everyone is welcome and served with respect and dignity.
I see a boy who has been left out and is on his own. The big boys won’t include him.” It hurt. The very picture I hang to remind me to include others does not have a hole in the huddle into which the boy can walk. No one in the huddle has a hand extended to him or a welcome face to invite. Wow. I felt humbled.
It is a great picture and the meaning is solid. We are being watched and we need to be influence for our beliefs, values, principles and practices. But we need holes in our huddles for prebelievers to walk into the circle.
Another prebeliever came by an hour later. He was nervous about coming to a class. As we met, he relaxed. Since it is parenting, I asked if his wife was coming. A big smile erupted on his face. “You mean,she can come, too? What about my kids?” We talked about the kids and decided we could handle it. They all came to class that night and the entire family found a place in the huddle.
Both families are coming to a movie night, another hole in the huddle. If fact, most of the families coming are prebelievers. We’ve left lots of holes in our huddle.
Most people, who read this page, are leaders. I want you to know, there is a hole in the huddle for you also. My door is open, my heart is open, and my love for you is deep.
There are times you feel like the boy in the picture. “Is it safe to approach? Will I be judged because I’m not big, holy, or happening enough? I”ve stubbed my toe on a huge problem and right now I don’t feel worthy, can I fit? Is there a hole in the huddle into which I can fit and relax and be me while I grow into who I want to be?”
Yes, there is a hole in the huddle. eme Stay strong. Don’t stand alone. I am with you.
;-{)‪#‎phil‬@shepherdok.com

The Press

The press of change can destabilize or establish new paths. Our choice can be new and better paths.

Matthew 18:2-4 Jesus called a little child to his side and set him on his feet in the middle of them all. “Believe me,” he said, “unless you change your whole outlook and become like little children you will never enter the kingdom of Heaven. It is the man who can be as humble as this little child who is greatest in the kingdom of Heaven.

The message is simple. Be simple about change.  It is not complicated. What needs to change to move closer to the target?  What is the target?  Can it be done with simplicity, fairness, equity, and justice?  Then it can be done.
A young man with whom I am working has spent his life in drugs, gangs, cartels, and prisons.  From 9 to 30, that has been his lifestyle.  Now he is pursuing another direction.  His goal is different.  His goal is to enjoy life legally and justly.  It is tough, but it is simple.  We talk a little every day because every day presents new issues along the path.  Eventually, he will walk on his own.  We start change as children.  That’s the key.  Simple and clean.
Prayer:  Father, I pray for my friend and all the changes in the path.  Our nation, our homes, and our lives are challenged with fear and disruption.  Yet, the goal has not changed. Make simple and clear steps easy to see for my friend.  Help my friend sort through the clutter and the noise and target just and appropriate action.
Family Facts: As we enter a new chapter at SOLUM CTI, I thought I’d drop a fact a week in these missives.  It is our families that make this nation strong.  It is our families that are under the greatest strain.
Did you know?  It is reported 48% of all new births are into never married situations.  This is a recent trend.  It is not teenagers.  It is adults.  Most studies I have seen put this around 41-43%.  This study reports higher.
What can you do about it? If you are married, invest in your marriage to keep it healthy. Be an example.  If you are a policy maker, participate in family information initiatives in your community.  Be visible.
Phil Larson, President ;-{)
cell/text 405.388.8037
Community Transformation Initiative
National Offices
224 S. Chestnut, Moore, Ok 73160
Be an agent of change:  Support a probationer working on a new life.  solumcommunity.net/give philheadanimation

 

Unnerved – The Community Solution

Right and effective research pushes the boundaries of accepted thought.  While political pundits push socially acceptable and emotionally provoking concepts at the public mind as if they were truth, are they?  In a minute I’ll tell you a fresh story of one of our Transformers, a person moving from struggling to secure. Right now, let’s debunk based on research not politics.

EDUCATED:

1. Poverty is not a race issue.  67% of all U. S. individuals in poverty are white.

2. Poverty is not totally caused by systems and exploitation.  Individual choices, addiction, illness, war, lack of education, lack of employment, mindsets, disabilities, and thinking play big roles.

3. Wealthy people pay taxes. 67.9% of U.S. federal taxes were paid by the top 20% of households in 2009.

CONNECTED: Okay, that is enough debunking.  There is more to come.  Thekey to change involves feeling the pain of staying the same, getting a vision or goal, applying your talent and skill, and connecting with a mentor to help you bridge from where you are to where you want to go.

UNNERVED: Jack (name changed) exploded excitedly into his story this week.  After six weeks of THINK!, his life story changed.  After doing some work, the business owner refused to pay.

“I was ready to call and cuss him out and get angry like I normally do, ” declared Jack. “But, I reminded myself I had new social skills from THINK!. If I did that he probably would hang up and never pay me.”

Jack at this point did exactly what he had been taught through role playing, music, video, discussion, interaction, personal application homework and instruction. He paused, cooled down, set goal, decided what skills to use (active listening, asking questions, responding to anger, and negotiating) made a plan, picked up the phone and went to work getting his money.

With his new approach, Jack talked to the owner, then talked to the work supervisor, then talked to his workmate. Each contributed information that the other person needed.  The owner not only gladly paid Jack the $450 he owed, but gave him a $100 bonus because of the professional way he handled the situation and offered him more work.

Jack unnerved himself. He disconnected decades of bad example, incorrect socialization, and nervous energy.  Then he connected a new thought source.  Now he has a powerful life altering story of applying a restructured approach. He is transforming himself and his family.  He is unnerving a dysfunctional set of anxieties and approaches and reconnecting a new set of productive nerve endings.

THE COMMUNITY SOLUTION needs your gift.  It is simple. What we do changes lives.  What we do opens doors for a better life forward.  What we do takes money.  You can put life change into the hands of Jack, who now brings his partner to class and she is changing alongside.  GIVE.  Text   thinkcti   to 77977 and you will receive a secure link back.  Or go the thinkcti.org/give   and get info on giving by check.   Use your skill and heart to help others.  Help another Jack.GIVE