My6inchchallenge's Blog

Tackling difficulties and overcoming the challenges life serves up – by Dona Halliday

Time for good men to stand up and step forward

She was short, round and stocky with a voice like a trumpet. “Don’t do anything else to her car, the woman has no money!” She shouted it seemed to the entire world, her neck stretching through the open door.

Yes, “The woman” she was referring to was me. Totally embarrassed I covered my face with my hands but was so tickled by the way she said it that I was laughing. She was right. I had gone home, changed clothing, dropped my journal in a bag and headed to the park. On my way home when I had spotted the car wash I had stopped, forgetting I did not have my purse. Somewhere during the process the thought that had been trying to reach my consciousness finally got there. I jolted from my relaxed seated position to my feet, as the thought ht me, “Dona, you have no money to pay for this service”.

Thankfully, there was a gentleman who responded to the trumpeter by reaching into his wallet and offering to pay for what they had done.

What makes a man a good man?

Earlier that day I had gone to the movies to see Tyler Perry’s “Good Deeds”. In the movie the character Wesley Deeds comes to the aid of this young woman (Lindsey) and her daughter, when life had dealt them some very tough stuff. I love the movie for its story line, its strong parallels and metaphors, but as Lindsey told Wesley that he was a good man, with a good heart I found myself raising the question once again that I had written on a post-it and placed in my bible to mark the eleventh chapter of Acts. “What makes a man a good man, and how can he be recognized?”

His name was Barnabas. No, not the man from the car wash, I don’t know his name. But this Barnabas in Acts 11 was described as a good man. He was known to be an encourager, generous in helping the poor. He was full of the Holy Spirit and of faith. He was a worshipper and a man of prayer.  He stood by and mentored his nephew when others may have given up on him. He loved deeply, was committed to God’s work and was trustworthy. He was a reconciler, whose Godly character was known not just by his words but by what his deeds.

In your opinion what makes a man a good man?

Can you recognize them? Well…, then help them stand in their homes, communities, churches and places of business. Help them stand in familiar and unfamiliar places. Help them stand for those who cannot defend themselves, mentor those who may otherwise be cast aside. And at the smallest glimpse of “goodness,” tell them that they are good men, for with just a little encouragement we may have good men standing up all around us and stepping forward.

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It’s time to accept those who are different

“I’d have to change my response to the wedding vows from ‘I will’ to ‘I’ll do my best with God’s help’.” That did not go over very well with the minister and his wife with whom I was having this conversation. It was years ago, I don’t even recall why we were talking about this, but my response had greatly offended him and his response had not hidden that fact.

It keeps amazing me that people can seem to be getting along so well, yet offenses, misunderstandings, differences and disagreements can not only divide us, but cause an end to relationships, or even worst, cause people to make enemies of each other.

Time teaches that differences/disagreements/etc are normal happenings in life. However, I think the greater lesson is that our responses can paint very accurate pictures of where we are at various stages, and therefore can be the impetus for personal growth.

The idea of standing before God and saying, “I will,” to me meant writing a blank cheque of commitment to someone as we stepped in an unknown future, and it filled me with terror. Yet, in “Meeting God at Every Turn” as I read Philip Lader’s vow to Linda Ann LeSourd (Catherine Marshall’s stepdaughter), something within me exhaled and I finally got it.

Part of Philip’s beautifully written vow read, “…the “I will” said today is not so much fact accomplished, as responsibility assumed… you and I are commissioned by this wedding to make God’s love believable to the world. By His grace however, we have different gifts, and these beg quarrels. When frustrated by your tenacity of opinion, I shall not waive my own, but shall honestly and patiently seek resolution…”

When I think of how different we are — we can respond to conflicts, successes, challenges, pain, disagreements and even pleasure differently. Even if we’ve been raised in the same household we can still respond to life in very different ways. I believe our differences were meant to be complementary and not used as reasons for division.

However, as we live out life in its varying arenas – relational, religious, political, etc. “making God’s love believable to the world” still seems the most difficult thing for us to do?

In Acts chapter 10 Peter was being transformed by God’s lesson on acceptance. In a vision, as Peter dismissed the very idea of eating or being involved in any way with “unacceptable” things transformation took place when he exchanged his way of seeing things for God’s way.  It was time for the hostility between Jews and Gentiles to be faced, for hearts to be opened and for arms to be extended in love to the unacceptable.

God’s purpose has not changed, his reconciling love has always been extended to the whosoever – no matter how wide the cultural or ethnic divide. His heart has not changed, He still desires that ALL persons be brought into an intimate relationship with Him.

Acceptance becomes easier, I believe, when we realize that we would have been included with those who were condemned as unacceptable. Unacceptable, but for God’s grace and His command of not calling anything impure (unacceptable) that He had made clean.

As we represent Christ, His love, grace, mercy & forgiveness have to be the guide to our interactions with the “different” people in our world. His love has to touch those who have been destined to walk in the reach of His light that shines through us, and His acceptance of the whosoever has to be the standard by which we measure our acceptance of others.

Impelled at the point of surrender

Have you ever started a journey to a certain place, yet found yourself in a different location realizing that it was where you needed to be all along?

As I continued my study in Acts I started listing the different seasons of the early church: times of power and growth, peace and favor, obedience and courage, death and persecution…

Stephen had just been stoned to death and Acts 8:1 says, “…a great persecution broke out against the church… and all except the apostles were scattered …” These acts of persecution that were intended to destroy the church were being used by God to fulfill the great commission. Once again I felt unsettled by the reminder that God still allows, and moves through painful and discomforting circumstances.

I was amazed by the actions of the disciples, for though they had been thrust from their places of comfort, security and familiarity it is recorded that they preached the Word in all the “displaces” of their persecution.

Once again I was led to one of Catherine Marshall’s books, “Meeting God At Every Turn.” I didn’t know why I felt the need to track down her book, but at a time when we are being taught to declare and decree what we want, to demand an end to our discomfort  — what about a time of surrender?  Trusting God to work through us to accomplish His purpose no matter in what season we find ourselves.

“In Meeting God at Every Turn”, as Mrs Marshall traversed through some tough decisions and challenges she does this intentional probing of her life, her heart, her motives.  As she examined her life, I started examining mine, and felt deeply shaken by the awareness that there was a part of me that I kept closed, protected, even from God. Protected from that place of complete surrender, lest surrender takes me the way of Calvary — that place of “others-living,” where it’s not about my space and comfort but it’s a willingness to deny me, ALWAYS, for the cause of Christ.

This is the place where I had not intended to journey but was a journey that I needed to make — broken, honest and exposed before God, I surrendered everything…

One thing I know about the Word is that it’s active and alive. It probes our heads and hearts, challenges our places of comfort, exposes our motives and reveals hidden things with the intention of transforming our lives. For if the Word has no power to impact our living, if there is no intimate personal relationship with our Savior, if there is no indwelling of the Spirit to empower, lead and counsel, if there is no Difference Maker, then what would be the point? We could do life anyway we see fit. But at the point of our surrender to God, I’m convinced that’s when we are most powerful, where no matter what impels us, our hearts and lives can affirm, God’s Kingdom come, His will be done….

The time for obedience

It was Saturday and mommy had left my sister and I at home to do chores. My younger brother and stepbrother were outside riding on a cart they had made. The road they were on sloped and at the bottom was a cliff …

Someone suggested that we leave the chores and go have fun with them.

My sister got on the cart with my stepbrother and he guided the cart down the hill. When it was my turn I decided I did not need to have anyone ride with me. I climbed on the cart and it started wobbling. As it gained momentum I realized that I had neither knowledge nor experience on how to steer or stop the contraption.

I panicked, feeling certain if I kept going I would go over the cliff and just as certain that even if it killed me mommy would still give me a beating for having disobeyed.

I jumped off the cart while it still moving and wounded my knee. I was able to hide the incident from my mom only until the next morning, I was in so much pain I could not walk. I still have a scar on my left knee that reminds me of that day.

I had been drawn away from my study of the book of Acts by this memory.

The Wesleyan Bible Commentary on the book of Acts states, “There is no substitute for obedience, and there is no spiritual Pentecost, (and to my understanding, no power,) without obedience.

The book of Acts reminds me of my need for the Helper, I can’t ride this journey of life on my own.  It also reminds me that the body of Christ needs His power in order to obey the charge given to the church. The Wesleyan Bible Commentary further states – “….It was divine energy, (power) that the disciples were to receive through their enduement with the Holy Spirit…. but this power was not a gift to be received apart from the personal Lordship of Christ through the Holy Spirit in their lives.”

If God’s power working through us is in fact intertwined with us obeying His teaching, then is it not time for obedience? D.L.Moody is quoted to have said, “You might as well try to see without eyes, hear without ears or breathe without lungs as to live the Christian life without the Holy Spirit.

The time for courage

“Gift of Jehovah,” that’s what his name means. I sat at my desk on Tuesday morning, working, but the tears would not stop. He was dead. For several days my mind offered up a single cry, “Father, I don’t understand…” I had really admired this 19-year-old who was so responsibly and committed to his faith and his work in the church.

I tried searching the internet for news about the accident — it’s sometimes hard for me to process things without facts. I did not find anything about him but there were so many others who had died during that week and I found myself grieving for them and their families as well.

If what my faith teaches is true, that, “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved,”  then, is it not time for courage? I found myself troubled by this question, “Where will eternity find all those who had died?”

I was reminded of Matthew’s re-commitment to God on Sunday, he had held his hand up high when Pastor Garmon had asked if anyone wanted to renew their commitment to Christ, and I sat next to him as he reaffirmed that commitment out loud. I realize that if I believe “The Book” then Matthew’s life, no matter how much we miss him, is not lost. Paul said while we live we have the opportunity to glorify Christ and bring benefit to others, but when we die, if we know The Christ, we gain.

Matthew’s death reminds me that we have no guarantee of the length of the days of our loved ones –they can be taken in the next second, minute, hour, day; So I ask again, is it not time for courage?

In Acts 4:13 the Bible tells us that as Peter and John boldly proclaimed that there is only one way to God — that is through Jesus Christ — that those who opposed the message were astonished at their courage. Courage to speak the truth of The Word even though it could cost them their lives.

My prayer is that God would give us the courage to live and speak the Good News of the Gospel with clarity, conviction and boldness. Courage to work through those things in the body of Christ that divide us and cause others to question the validity of The Faith. Courage to decide to do life according to the Word so that we don’t cause others to stumble. Courage to reach and love those in our space back to a relationship with Christ. Courage to reach our world.

What if I *saw the beggar – A time for healing

It was night-time and I wondered if he still hoped that tomorrow would be different. Was it really possible for him to remain hopeful for 20, 30, 40 years? I couldn’t imagine being in his state — for he awoke every morning, seemingly powerless — having to be carried from place to place, bathed, fed, clothed, then taken to perform his daily work. He was a beggar.

He enjoyed sitting outside though, for here, surrounded by beauty, he had dreams that his life would be different. He was pulled from his day dreaming by the bustle around him. He realized that it must be almost 3pm – prayer time, it was like clockwork.

He did not like this time. It got very busy, but as the people passed through the gate pressing their way to the temple he could not bear to see how they looked at him. So with his head down cast, he said in his practiced, upbeat tone, “Anything for the poor and cripple? Anything…?”

Some passed by as though they did not hear, some in a rush to get inside to pray did not even notice him there, but every now and again he would hear the tingle of coins as they fell into his can.

He tried not to become discouraged, but he had hoped that something miraculous would happen here, at the gate called Beautiful. He’d heard about the Nazarene and his power to heal, but he had never met Him. He’d heard that His disciples came to the temple to pray and wondered if they could do the same miraculous things that He had done.

“Anything for the poor and cripple, Anything…?” His mind was far away, he had said those words so many times he did not need to think about them. He was surprised when he saw two pair of legs stop in front of him, “Look at us!” one of them commanded. He looked into their eyes, afraid to find the familiar look of disgust, but instead he saw compassion.

“Silver and gold I do not have…” the man had continued. But it was ok, his look of compassion had been like a balm, soothing and healing the years of disregard and disdain. “…but what I have I give to you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk!”

So they had been with the Christ! he thought. He felt his ankles becoming strong as the man reached out his hand and pulled him to his feet. As he leaped and jumped around like a child he raised his voice in praise. He was healed!

After sometime he asked the man, “Have I not seen you here before? “Peter’s my name,” the man had responded, ” and this is John, and yes, we’ve been here many times before.” He looked at them hesitantly and said, “you seem so different, may I ask what happened?”

Pentecost happened,” Peter said.  “An empowering by the Holy Spirit has taken place, an enabling to DO, to impart God’s power to affect change in the lives of others.

God’s power has been given. If you feel crippled or powerless by the tough challenges of life, it is 2012 the time for healing, time to arise and do.

*See – to give attention and care to

2012 — A Mind To Do

2012 - A Mind to do, for it's the time to do

It's the time to do

As I sat and sucked on the bottom of my fifth ice cream cone I once again discounted the wisdom that when we know better we do better. A few days earlier, in a hurry to get to some location that does not seem that important now, I had found myself  divorcing the wisdom of safety — I had closed one eye, peeked at the yellow light ahead with the other, and to my horror, had accelerated.

For many days in 2011 I had groaned when my clock alarmed at 4:45am, and instead of jumping out of bed to stick to my fitness routine, I had pulled my cover closer, curled around my teddy bear, promising myself, I’ll exercise tomorrow. When my clock alarmed again at 6am signaling my prayer time I had sometimes crawled out of  bed to pray, but mostly, I had either slept right through it or sent up some mental prayers while I was still curled in bed.

Maya Angelou said “When you know better you do better,” and though I’ve used that quote often, as I draw to end of 2011 I take a look around: at myself, the body of Christ, friends and acquaintances, employers and co-workers, our politicians and our world, and I question, “Do we really do the better that we know?”

I think about the things we’ve learned in 2011, the seminars we’ve attended, the sermons we’ve heard, the truths we’ve discovered, the amazing stories we’ve read, the life lessons we’ve experienced, and I have one simple prayer as we move into 2012 – “Lord, give us “a mind to do.”

Give us a mind to act on the good we know, a mind to use the knowledge we’ve already acquired, a mind to live the wisdom we’ve already attained, give us a mind to live out the love we so fluently speak of — give us a mind to do, for it’s the time to do.

I believe when we know better we become equipped to do better, but a life of living the better we know  must move beyond the acquisition of knowledge. We need “a mind to do” — where there is a marriage of knowledge, wisdom and discipline, a marriage of truth, love and kindness, a turning from selfish agendas to the serving of others — a mind that enables us to live more eloquently than we can ever speak.

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