Tuesday, December 21, 2010

The Biggest Miracle of my life --- Mars Hill Graduate School!

The biggest miracle of my life is about to happen.

This summer, while building a permanent prayer room at a church in Indiana, a lot of people kept suggesting  I should do my Masters. My spirit stirred within me as a mentor suggested if I wanted to teach people more I needed to learn more… But where to study and what to study?

I wanted to do theology, to learn more about God, but as a women I realized that would leave me with the same career prospects as I have now! Full time ministry supported by donations because I do not have a call to be a pastor of a church. But I do have a calling to ministry - to see people healed and develop a powerful and intimate relationship with God. So the idea of Psychology - a large part of my undergraduate degree - planted itself in my mind. Could I, as a broken human being be used by God to help heal others?

Then came an email from Darchelle. "You have to come to Mars Hill Graduate School - you will not enjoy any other university as much as this one - in Seattle." A seminary - teaching theology AND Psychology. Sounded like a perfect match. So I went to visit for three weeks, to spend time soaking in the culture of the school, to hear the hearts of the professors and see the results played out in the lives of graduates as their ingenuity and fresh approaches to social justice impacted the community around them.

I went to classes and realized that the mission of the school was to transform YOU as a student. Not to give you a lot of knowledge to store in your mind to use later but to rework you into a more 'in touch' human being able to hold your own story so you can gently hold the stories of others. I fell in love. With this beautiful school on the harbor, close to the Seattle Space Needle. I love the core values of the school,  exploring the interplay between text, soul and culture.

(To read the rest of the story of the miracle, how God protected us from crashing, being taught by Rob Bell and how I am about to take the biggest risk of my life CLICK BELOW or KEEP READING.)

Sunday, December 12, 2010

A surprising conversation with Ted Haggard

Tic interviewing Gayle and Ted Haggard at NYWC
It's not often you get called a "weirdo" by someone in the general public let alone an infamous high profile figure such as Ted Haggard! (For those who don't remember, Ted Haggard was a mega church pastor and head of the National Association of Evangelical Churches - about 30 million people - before his indiscretions were revealed on national TV) This blog explores this interesting conversation along with his recent controversial speaking engagement at the National Youth Workers Conference in Nashville. This is an example of why I passionately desire seeing the Gift of Discernment working in our lives daily and throughout every member of the Body of Christ. 

Lilly Lewin a Creative Worship Space Curator.
Youth Specialties NYWC was held in Nashville a few weeks ago, with thousands of youth workers and pastors from all over the country. I even met a couple of pastors I knew from Newbold College in England! I was so excited to be asked by Lilly Lewin, author of Sacred Space: A hands-on guide to creating multi-sensory worship experiences, to help her create the Sanctuary Space and host a workshop on Imaginative Prayer! How fun it was to be part of this quiet and holy space surrounded by all the craziness of a convention! The room hosted different worship and prayer events such as Taizé, but my favorite was Nap Time. As people lay down on pillows, Micah would 'pray over them' by walking around playing his guitar and worshipping while they napped. Different I know...  Experiential worship experiences can be so creative!

The background…

Youth Specialties always seems to have one speaker who is controversial and this year Ted Haggard was it… When I heard he was speaking I wanted to hear him purely because I wanted to practice my gift of discernment. I had seen Ted before on TV, on the internet and also in the Jesus Camp movie. Even with limited exposure I had sensed a check in my spirit years ago before his fall from grace and now wanted to see or discern if he had changed and how, and whether my original discernment was still valid. Because people can change. I believe in transformation. I really wanted to see a story of redemption.

The Journey of Discipleship is all about discernment….

(Click the 'Read More' link below to see my intriguing conversation with Ted Haggard.)

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

A Lifechanging Weekend in Leunig Cartoons

In Australia we have a poet that is rather deep and eccentric, his name is Michael Leunig. He has been named a National Treasure because of his rare insight into human nature, and his intriguing perspective of how things work here in our universe. He came from a past of negativity and darkness as were his artistic creations, but then light began to crack through his shell and he found faith, and hope and love.

My life has been similar - 21 years of Social Anxiety Disorder - a life shadowed in every way by negativity and overwhelming fear. Healing from that was a wonderful experience and for the first time in my life I could feel the emotions of happiness and sadness. I remember crying one day and being so glad I could feel the warm tears running down my cheeks. I could finally feel. I could be real. I had the capacity to grow and change and risk and love and laugh.

I have been trying to get out of negative thinking cycles for years and improved greatly. The stress and worry has been reduced yet I still had some major fears in my life. The fear of rejection and the fear of success... Till this weekend!!!!

Is this how you feel? I must admit there have been times I have felt this same way. Life can get overwhelming. Enjoy this one minute animated video by Leunig!

Wouldn't it be amazing if we could get rid of those fears and negative thoughts, our defenses and walls? This weekend I was blessed to be sponsored to go through a Foundations 1 workshop. I played very hard! I was not afraid to reach into the dark places and reveal them into the light. I was not afraid to be honest about my struggles and share some of the most painful times of my life. I cried. I laughed. I danced. I let go. I accepted.

The next two videos are my favorites... I hope you enjoy as you continue this blog...

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Financial Miracles

A little while ago, I was confronted about the reality of my life, until I burst into tears. My friend who is a financial adviser finally gave me three options that I had to make a choice from.

Option 1. Go back to Australia and find employment.
Option 2. Marry a rich man.
Option 3. Continue to do ministry allowing the Lord to move on donors hearts to give regularly in support.

The reason I burst into tears was because I really don't like thinking about money but I finally knew I needed to rise above my fears and face making some changes at the crossroads I then stood. Each of these three options above involve something about money and I realize that even though I do a ministry with no focus on making money - I do have to spend money to eat, to travel, to do ministry, to have health insurance and to live in this world of economics. Some people would think it a complete miracle that I can live on so little without a need to spend money. And living on around $200 a month has worked so far because I have no debt, only a few bills and have no need of buying any possessions, because I live out of a suitcase. So over the years in ministry I have been intrigued to learn about God's finances and God's miracles.

Nicki with Rajab - a tiny little Muslim boy who loved Jesus
I have been learning the difference between being a full time volunteer (who gives of their excesses) and a full time church worker (who gets a full wage)and a full time disciple/minister (who is funded through the Body of Christ). I fall into the last category in my independent prayer ministry going from church to church and country to country. I have worked as all three at various times and have seen how differently one is perceived in each category and what is expected of you and how you are treated. Let me tell you it has been very hard to live a life like a disciple. Various opinions emerge because not many people can comprehend what it is like to live like this. Some think you do not need money, people assume women prayer warriors and ministry volunteers should give happily to the church for free and sometimes I feel some would rather me get a job to provide for myself which would mean I would have to quit this ministry. I understand the deep protestant work ethic we have been raised with. That is why it has taken me six months to get up the courage to put out this newsletter, but hopefully it will be an interesting teaching from a different perspective.
Hiding Under His Wings
Like this Mother Hen we can be Sheltered under Gods Wings
Time after time I read in the Bible about an early church who supported many who became disciples to minister to the Body of Christ (1 John). I read about the Levites who were completely taken care of financially by the other tribes even in retirement. And I read over and over about how God will take care of our every little need, even the desires of our hearts. I have been so blessed to see these miracles first hand so I know it is possible. God will never let me go hungry. In fact I believe that he will send manna from heaven if we ever get desperate. I love to see how he is blessing and sustaining the work of missionaries and full time ministers around the world through the contributions from the Body of Christ. His economy is very different to ours. But he expects us to live with open hands, to give generously so there is a domino effect of blessing when the money passes through the Body of Christ. Even with my small income I sponsor a child in Nepal and a female Chinese underground minister through Voice of the Martyrs. I love to hear the stories of what is happening to transform other lives because of my small part.

God lead me to recently read the book by Roger Steer - "George Muller - Delighted in God". It is such a powerful book, speaking on marriage, conflict in the church and trusting in God. I highly recommend it. My heart yearns to 'delight in God' every moment of every day, what peace that speaks of and total trust in all things...

Lotus Flower Opening in our Front Garden.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Spiritual Dreams

I never dream dreams, normal or spiritual. (I asked God to help me never remember my dreams as I always seemed to have horrible dreams as a child). Sometimes I have seen pictures from God in my mind when I am awake - but never have I been given a Dream or Vision from God. But a few weeks ago I was lying in my bed and as I was sleeping I saw clearly a green snake curled up beside my head ready to strike. It had two heads. I woke up in a fright and leapt out of bed and turned the light on and it was gone. "Maybe", you say, "this was just a normal dream/nightmare." But for me I had never had such a vivid experience or dream. I had no idea what the dream/vision meant but knew to seek confirmation with a discerning spirit.

A week later I was (not dreaming but in reality) walking in the forest with a friend, and his dog almost stepped on a snake in the path. This snake was a water snake, speckled brown. It was ready to strike but when I looked closely it had two heads because it was actually two snakes curled up together. This is very strange because even though I have done a lot of bushwalking, I have rarely seen a snake and never seen two snakes together in my life (and I am from Australia!)

So with the dream confirmed in reality I knew that both experiences were warnings from God. I am still praying for insight and protection and ask for your prayers also as the ministry I am in often has intense Spiritual Warfare associated with it. The devil loves to attack and destroy people in prayer ministry. He knows that prayer is a weapon that will always defeat him. The more we learn how to pray with power the more he loses his power, his strongholds are broken, his oppression is released, his snares are loosed and his schemes revealed and his angels repelled. That is one of the main reasons I am currently writing a book for teaching children to pray by using creative and sensory activities - I am teaching them how to hear and discern God's voice and pray with power.

Thank you for your prayers and I pray we will all continue to learn how to pray powerfully!

Recently Published Article

Recently Published in Story Harvest is a very short testimony of my amazing Life Changing Moment with God ten years ago.

"I was sitting at my computer one day wondering where I could volunteer for the next six months, but frustratingly no doors were opening. I had just finished studying at a university in Toronto, exchange from Australia, but because the passport control office had mistakenly allowed me to stay for an extra six months until May 31, 2001, I was looking forward to the next new adventure. Suddenly a very distinct voice spoke clearly into my mind... "

Fun Creative Prayer Together
Fun Creative Prayer Together
Very Different Prayer Room

Last week I was contacted by a new friend in Brooklyn, NY to help her come up with ideas for a Prayer Room she wants to create in her house for visitors and friends who are coming to support her during the home birth of her second baby. How beautiful for people to wait in a sacred space where they can create blessings for the baby, pray for it's future, pray for the family and be part of this most spiritual moment.

The Next Big Adventure
I recently put in an application for Graduate school to do my Masters (starting Nov, 2011) at a seminary called Mars Hill Graduate School, so will be traveling to Seattle for the interview in two weeks - more from Seattle in the next newsletter!

Monday, August 16, 2010

The Values Americans Live By - by L. Robert Kohls.

xxx Most Americans would have a difficult time telling you, specifically, what the values are that Americans live by. They have never given the matter much thought.
xxx Even if Americans had considered this question, they would probably, in the end, decide not to answer in terms of a definitive list of values. The reason for this decision is itself one very American value—their belief that every individual is so unique that the same list of values could never be applied to all, or even most, of their fellow citizens.
xxx Although Americans may think of themselves as being more varied and unpredictable than they actually are, it is significant that they think they are. Americans tend to think they have been only slightly influenced by family, church or schools. In the end, each believes, "I personally chose which values I want to live my own life by."
xxx Despite this self-evaluation, a foreign anthropologist could observe Americans and produce a list of common values that would fit most Americans. The list of typically American values would stand in sharp contrast to the values commonly held by the people of many other countries.
xxx We, the staff of the Washington International Center, have been introducing thousands of international visitors to life in the United States for more than a third of a century. This has caused us to try to look at Americans through the eyes of our visitors. We feel confident that the values listed here describe most (but not all) Americans.
xxx Furthermore, we can say that if the foreign visitor really understood how deeply ingrained these 13 values are in Americans, he or she would then be able to understand 95% of American actions—action that might otherwise appear strange or unbelievable when evaluated from the perspective of the foreigner’s own society and its values.
xxx The different behaviors of a people or a culture make sense only when seen through the basic beliefs, assumptions and values of that particular group. When you encounter an action, or hear a statement in the United States that surprises you, try to see it as an expression of one or more of the values listed here. For example, when you ask Americans for directions to get to a particular address in their own city, they may explain, in great detail, how you can get there on your own, but may never even consider walking two city blocks with you to lead you to the place. Some foreign visitors have interpreted this sort of action as showing Americans’ "unfriendliness." We would suggest, instead, that the self-help concept (value number 6 on our list), is so strong in Americans that they firmly believe that no adult would ever want, even temporarily, to be dependent on another. Also, their future orientation (value 8) makes Americans think it is better to prepare you to find other addresses on your own in the future.
xxx Before proceeding to the list itself, we should also point out that Americans see all of these values as very positive ones. They are not aware, for example, that the people in many Third World countries view change (value 2) as negative or threatening. In fact, all 13 of these American values are judged by many of the word’s citizens as negative and undesirable. Therefore, it is not enough simply to familiarize yourself with these values. You must also, so far as possible, consider them without the negative or derogatory connotation that they might have for you, based on your own experience and cultural identity.
xxx It is important to state emphatically that our purpose in providing you with this list of the most important American values is not to convert you, the foreign visitor, to our values. We couldn’t achieve that goal even if we wanted to, and we don’t want to. We simply want to help you understand the Americans with whom you will be relating—from their own value system rather that from yours.

L. Robert Kohls, Executive Director
The Washington International Center
Washington, D.C.
April 1984


xxx Americans no longer believe in the power of Fate, and they have come to look at people who do as being backward, primitive, or hopelessly naïve. To be call "fatalistic" is one of the worst criticisms one can receive in the American context; to an American, it means one is superstitious and lazy, unwilling to take any initiative in bringing about improvement.
xxx In the United States, people consider it normal and right that Man should control Nature, rather than the other way around. More specifically, people believe every single individual should have control over whatever in the environment might potentially affect him or her. The problems of one’s life are not seen as having resulted from bad luck as much as having come from one’s laziness in pursuing a better life. Furthermore, it is considered normal that anyone should look out for his or her own self-interests first and foremost.
xxx Most Americans find it impossible to accept that there are some things that lie beyond the power of humans to achieve. And Americans have literally gone to the moon, because they refused to accept earthly limitations.
xxx Americans seem to be challenged, even compelled, to do, by one means or another (and often at great cost) what seven-eighths of the world is certain cannot be done.

xxx In the American mind, change is seen as an indisputably good condition. Change is strongly linked to development, improvement, progress, and growth. Many older, more traditional cultures consider change as a disruptive, destructive force, to be avoided if at all possible. Instead of change, such societies value stability, continuity, tradition, and a rich and ancient heritage—none of which are valued very much in the United States.
xxx These first two values—the belief that we can do anything and the belief that any change is good—together with an American belief in the virtue of hard work and the belief that each individual has a responsibility to do the best he or she can do have helped Americans achieve some great accomplishments. So whether these beliefs are true is really irrelevant; what is important is that Americans have considered them to be true and have acted as if they were, thus, in effect, causing them to happen.

xxx Time is, for the average American, of utmost importance. To the foreign visitor, Americans seem to be more concerned with getting things accomplished on time (according to a predetermined schedule) than they are with developing deep interpersonal relations. Schedules, for the American, are meant to be planned and then followed in the smallest detail.
xxx It may seem to you that most Americans are completely controlled by the little machines they wear on their wrists, cutting their discussions off abruptly to make it to their next appointment on time.
xxx Americans’ language is filled with references to time, giving a clear indication of how much it is valued. Time is something to be "on," to be "kept," "filled," "saved," "used," "spent," "wasted," "lost," "gained," "planned," "given," "made the most of," even "killed."
xxx The international visitor soon learns that it is considered very rude to be late—even by 10 minutes—for an appointment in the United States. (Whenever it is absolutely impossible to be on time, you should phone ahead and tell the person you have been unavoidably detained and will be a half hour—or whatever—late.)
xxx Time is so valued in America, because by considering time to be important one can clearly accomplish more that if one "wastes" time and does not keep busy. This philosophy has proven its worth. It has enabled Americans to be extremely productive, and productivity itself is highly valued in the United States. Many American proverbs stress the value in guarding our time, using it wisely, setting and working toward specific goals, and even expending our time and energy today so that the fruits of our labor may be enjoyed at a later time. (This latter concept is called "delayed gratification.")

Equality is, for Americans, one of their most cherished values. This concept is so important for Americans that they have even given it a religious basis. They say all people have been "created equal." Most Americans believe that God views all humans alike without regard to intelligence, physical condition or economic status. In secular terms this belief is translated into the assertion that all people have an equal opportunity to succeed in life. Americans differ in opinion about how to make this ideal into a reality. Yet virtually all agree that equality is an important civic and social goal.
xxx The equality concept often makes Americans seem strange to foreign visitors. Seven-eighths of the world feels quite differently. To them, rank and status and authority are seen as much more desirable considerations—even if they personally happen to find themselves near the bottom of the social order. Class and authority seem to give people in those other societies a sense of security and certainty. People outside the United States consider it reassuring to know, from birth, who they are and where they fit into the complex system called "society".
xxx Many highly-placed foreign visitors to the United States are insulted by the way they are treated by service personnel (such as waiters in restaurants, clerks in stores, taxi drivers, etc.). Americans have an aversion to treating people of high position in a deferential manner, and, conversely often treat lower class people as if they were very important. Newcomers to the United States should realize that no insult or personal indignity is intended by this lack of deference to rank or position in society. A foreigner should be prepared to be considered "just like anybody else" while in the country.

xxx The individualism that has been developed in the Western world since the Renaissance, beginning in the late 15th century, has taken its most exaggerated form in 20th century United States. Here, each individual is seen as completely and marvelously unique, that is, totally different from all other individuals and, therefore, particularly precious and wonderful.
xxx Americans think they are more individualist in their thoughts and actions than, in fact, they are. They resist being thought of as representatives of a homogenous group, whatever the group. They may, and do, join groups—in fact many groups—but somehow believe they’re just a little different, just a little unique, just a little special, from other members of the same group. And they tend to leave groups as easily as they enter them.
xxx Privacy, the ultimate result of individualism is perhaps even more difficult for the foreigner to comprehend. The word "privacy" does not even exist in many languages. If it does, it is likely to have a strongly negative connotation, suggesting loneliness or isolation from the group. In the United States, privacy is not only seen as a very positive condition, but it is also viewed as a requirement that all humans would find equally necessary, desirable and satisfying. It is not uncommon for Americans to say—and believe—such statements as "If I don’t have at least half an hour a day to myself, I will go stark raving mad."
xxx Individualism, as it exists in the United States, does mean that you will find a much greater variety of opinions (along with the absolute freedom to express them anywhere and anytime) here. Yet, in spite of this wide range of personal opinion, almost all Americans will ultimately vote for one of the two major political parties. That is what was meant by the statement made earlier that Americans take pride in crediting themselves with claiming more individualism than, in fact, they really have.

xxx In the United States, a person can take credit only for what he or she has accomplished by himself or herself. Americans get no credit whatsoever for having been born into a rich family. (In the United States, that would be considered "an accident of birth.") Americans pride themselves in having been born poor and, through their own sacrifice and hard work, having climbed the difficult ladder of success to whatever level they have achieved—all by themselves. The American social system has, of course, made it possible for Americans to move, relatively easily, up the social ladder.
xxx Take a look in an English-language dictionary at the composite words that have "self" as a prefix. In the average desk dictionary, there will be more than 100 such words, words like self-confidence, self-conscious, self-control, self-criticism, self-deception, self-defeating, self-denial, self-discipline, self-esteem, self-expression, self-importance, self-improvement, self-interest, self-reliance, self-respect, self-restraint, self-sacrifice—the list goes on and on. The equivalent of these words cannot be found in most other languages. The list is perhaps the best indication of how seriously Americans take doing things for one’s self. The "self-made man or women" is still very much the ideal in 20th-century America.

xxx Americans believe that competition brings out the best in any individual. They assert that it challenges or forces each person to produce the very best that is humanly possible. Consequently, the foreign visitor will see competition being fostered in the American home and in the American classroom, even on the youngest age level. Very young children, for instance, are encouraged to answer questions for which their classmates do not know the answer.
xxx You may find the competitive value disagreeable, especially if you come from a society that promotes cooperation rather than competition. But many U.S. Peace Corps volunteers teaching in Third World countries found the lack of competitiveness in a classroom situation equally distressing. They soon learned that what they thought to be one of the universal human characteristics represented only a peculiarly American (or Western) value.
xxx Americans, valuing competition, have devised an economic system to go with it—free enterprise. Americans feel strongly that a highly competitive economy will bring out the best in its people and, ultimately, that the society that fosters competition will progress most rapidly. If you look for it, you will see evidence in all areas—even in fields as diverse as medicine, the arts, education, and sports—that free enterprise is the approach most often preferred in America.

xxx Valuing the future and the improvements Americans are sure the future will bring means that they devalue that past and are, to a large extent, unconscious of the present. Even a happy present goes largely unnoticed because, happy as it may be, Americans have traditionally been hopeful that the future would bring even greater happiness. Almost all energy is directed toward realizing that better future. At best, the present condition is seen as preparatory to a latter and greater event, which will eventually culminate in something even more worthwhile.
xxx Since Americans have been taught (in value 1) to believe that Man, and not Fate, can and should be the one who controls the environment, this has made them very good at planning and executing short-term projects. This ability, in turn, has caused Americans to be invited to all corners of the earth to plan and achieve the miracles that their goal-setting can produce.
xxx If you come from a culture such as those in the traditional Moslem world, where talking about or actively planning the future is felt to be a futile, even sinful, activity, you will have not only philosophical problems with this very American characteristic but religious objections as well. Yet it is something you will have to learn to live with, for all around you Americans will be looking toward the future and what it will bring.

xxx "Don’t just stand there," goes a typical bit of American advice, "do something!" This expression is normally used in a crisis situation, yet, in a sense, it describes most American’s entire waking life, where action—any action—is seen to be superior to inaction.
xxx Americans routinely plan and schedule an extremely active day. Any relaxation must be limited in time, pre-planned, and aimed at "recreating" their ability to work harder and more productively once the recreation is over. Americans believe leisure activities should assume a relatively small portion of one’s total life. People think that it is "sinful" to "waste one’s time," "to sit around doing nothing," or just to "daydream."
xxx Such a "no nonsense" attitude toward life has created many people who have come to be known as "workaholics," or people who are addicted to their work, who think constantly about their jobs and who are frustrated if they are kept away from them, even during their evening hours and weekends.
xxx The workaholic syndrome, in turn, causes Americans to identify themselves wholly with their professions. The first question one American will ask another American when meeting for the first time is related to his or her work: "Where do you work?," or "Who (what company) are you with?"
xxx And when such a person finally goes on vacation, even the vacation will be carefully planned, very busy and active.
xxx America may be one of the few countries in the world where it seems reasonable to speak about the "dignity of human labor," meaning by that, hard, physical labor. In America, even corporation presidents will engage in physical labor from time to time and gain, rather than lose, respect from others for such action.

xxx If you come from a more formal society, you will likely find Americans to be extremely informal, and will probably feel that they are even disrespectful of those in authority. Americans are one of the most informal and casual people in the world, even when compared to their near relative—the Western European.
xxx As one example of this informality, American bosses often urge their employees to call them by their first names and even feel uncomfortable if they are called by the title "Mr." or "Mrs."
xxx Dress is another area where American informality will be most noticeable, perhaps even shocking. One can go to a symphony performance, for example, in any large American city nowadays and find some people in the audience dressed in blue jeans and tieless, short-sleeved shirts.
xxx Informality is also apparent in American’s greetings. The more formal "How are you?" has largely been replaced with an informal "Hi." This is as likely to be used to one’s superior as to one’s best friend.
xxx If you are a highly placed official in your own country, you will probably, at first, find such informality to be very unsettling. American, on the other hand, would consider such informality as a compliment! Certainly it is not intended as an insult and should not be taken as such.

xxx Many other countries have developed subtle, sometimes highly ritualistic, ways of informing other people of unpleasant information. Americans, however, have always preferred the first approach. They are likely to be completely honest in delivering their negative evaluations. If you come from a society that uses the indirect manner of conveying bad news or uncomplimentary evaluations, you will be shocked at Americans’ bluntness.
xxx If you come from a country where saving face is important, be assured that Americans are not trying to make you lose face with their directness. It is important to realize that an American would not, in such case, lose face. The burden of adjustment, in all cases while you are in this country, will be on you. There is no way to soften the blow of such directness and openness if you are not used to it except to tell you that the rules have changed while you are here. Indeed, Americans are trying to urge their fellow countrymen to become even more open and direct. The large number of "assertiveness" training courses that appeared in the United States in the late 1970s reflects such a commitment.
xxx Americans consider anything other than the most direct and open approach to be dishonest and insincere and will quickly lose confidence in and distrust anyone who hints at what is intended rather than saying it outright.
xxx Anyone who, in the United States, chooses to use an intermediary to deliver that message will also be considered manipulative and untrustworthy.

xxx Americans have a reputation of being an extremely realistic, practical and efficient people. The practical consideration is likely to be given highest priority in making any important decision in the United States. Americans pride themselves in not being very philosophically or theoretically oriented. If Americans would even admit to having a philosophy, it would probably be that of pragmatism.
xxx Will it make any money? Will it "pay its own way?" What can I gain from this activity? These are the kinds of questions that Americans are likely to ask in their practical pursuit, not such questions as: Is it aesthetically pleasing? Will it be enjoyable?, or Will it advance the cause of knowledge?
xxx This practical, pragmatic orientation has caused Americans to contribute more inventions to the world than any other country in human history. The love of "practicality" has also caused Americans to view some professions more favorably than others. Management and economics, for example, are much more popular in the United States than philosophy or anthropology, law and medicine more valued than the arts.
xxx Another way in which this favoring of the practical makes itself felt in the United States, is a belittling of "emotional" and "subjective" evaluations in favor of "rational" and "objective" assessments. Americans try to avoid being too sentimental in making their decisions. They judge every situation "on its merits." The popular American "trail-and-error" approach to problem solving also reflects the practical. The approach suggests listing several possible solutions to any given problem, then trying them out, one-by-one, to see which is most effective.

xxx Foreigners generally consider Americans much more materialistic than Americans are likely to consider themselves. Americans would like to think that their material objects are just the natural benefits that always result from hard work and serious intent—a reward, they think, that all people could enjoy were they as industrious and hard-working as Americans.
xxx But by any standard, Americans are materialistic. This means that they value and collect more material objects than most people would ever dream of owning. It also means they give higher priority to obtaining, maintaining and protecting their material objects than they do in developing and enjoying interpersonal relationships.
xxx The modern American typically owns:

  • one or more color television sets,
  • an electric hair dryer,
  • an electronic calculator,
  • a tape recorder and a record player,
  • a clothes-washer and dryer,
  • a vacuum cleaner,
  • a powered lawn mower (for cutting grass),
  • a refrigerator, a stove, and a dishwasher,
  • one or more automobiles,
  • and a telephone. Many also own a personal computer.

xxx Since Americans value newness and innovation, they sell or throw away their possessions frequently and replace them with newer ones. A car may be kept for only two or three years, a house for five or six before trading it in for another one.

xxx Now that we have discussed each of these 13 values separately, if all too briefly, let us look at them in list form (on the left) and then consider them paired with the counterpart values from a more traditional country (on the right):

U.S. Values Some Other Countries' Values
Personal Control over the Environment
Time & Its Control
Future Orientation
Action/Work Orientation
Practicality/Efficiency Materialism/Acquisitiveness
Human Interaction
Group’s Welfare
Birthright Inheritance
Past Orientation
"Being" Orientation

Which list more nearly represents the values of your native country?

xxx Before leaving this discussion of the values Americans live by, consider how knowledge of these values explains many things about Americans.
xxx One can, for example, see America’s impressive record of scientific and technological achievement as a natural result of these 13 values.
xxx First of all, it was necessary to believe (1) these things could be achieved, that Man does not have to simply sit and wait for Fate to bestow them or not to bestow them, and that Man does have control over his own environment, if he is willing to take it. Other values that have contributed to this record of achievement include (2) an expectation of positive results to come from change (and the acceptance of an ever-faster rate of change as "normal"); (3) the necessity to schedule and plan ones’ time; (6) the self-help concept; (7) competition; (8) future orientation; (9) action work orientation; (12) practicality; and (13) materialism.
xxx You can do the same sort of exercise as you consider other aspects of American society and analyze them to see which of the 13 values described here apply. By using this approach you will soon begin to understand Americans and their actions. And as you come to understand them, they will seem less "strange" than they did at first.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Spectrum Magazine Article - The Prayer Room Experience by Nicola Carleton

I accidentally stumbled into this ministry of building prayer rooms. I felt like a musician discovering that perfect instrument or an artist finding a new medium that perfectly expresses the profound inspirations of the heart. Finding ones niche, ones sound, ones passion, ones ministry is like a dream come true. It is like finally finding out the specific way you were uniquely designed to worship God. So I worship God through my God given gifts for creating these sacred spaces, places where people can experience a relationship with God and learn to enjoy prayer. I seem to be a cross between an installation artist and a minister of the Gospel. An alternative worship curator.

The Levites were the first example of artists creating beautiful things for the glory of God. In fact it is recorded in Exodus 31 that the first people filled with the Spirit of God were artists, given the wisdom, understanding, knowledge and skill, to make designs and engage in all kinds of crafts. The Prayer Rooms are really modern day contemporary Sanctuaries. They also needed symbols and used the senses to illustrate the profound concepts of the love of God and created an environment where God could interact with his people.

Now for over five years I have been sharing this ministry full time, travelling all over the world creating Houses of Prayer and Healing in hospitals, Weeks of Prayer at academies, building permanent Prayer Rooms in churches and worship art projects. It is one of the most incredible ministries I have ever been part of. I have seen people healed physically, emotionally and spiritually and most importantly I have seen people fall in love with Jesus.

So what is so special about these Prayer Rooms? How can a room help people have a profound experience with God?

A Prayer Room is simply a space that is set apart for God. It is designed to feel comfortable and at home in. It has relaxing couches and prayer stations to help people pray in new ways. Often you will find a map of the world where you can pray for different countries. Maybe there will be an Addiction Wall where you consider the things interfering with your relationship with God. Sometimes you can draw your prayers on the walls or turn your prayers into art. Each Prayer Room will be unique and different. Each Prayer Room has the intention, that as you go from station to station you will be discipled in your walk with Jesus. The room has peaceful music and is designed to help you be quiet long enough to hear God speak.

Hearing God's voice seems to be a lost art in this fast paced world. Yet listening makes up 50% of each conversation we have with a person we are interested in fostering a relationship with. When it comes to our relationship with God, how are we to pray powerfully and effectively if we do not know his will? To know his heart we must first listen, then God will be the one that inspires us with what to pray for. Then miracles will start happening! How many of our prayer times are just one sided?

I find it difficult to pray as do most people. A Prayer Room inspires me to pray when I run out of things to pray about. I remember one little boy coming up to me and asking how on earth he was going to pray for an hour but being surprised when he stayed in there for four hours! Listening to God is a difficult discipline to learn too but the Prayer Room creates an environment where we can expect God to share his heart as we share ours.

Catering to Different Learning Styles.

Jesus loved to teach through the senses and in three dimensions using the world around him as symbols to illustrate deep spiritual concepts. I can relate to this method of teaching as I am a highly kinesthetic learner. Visiting many churches I realized that they are mostly made up of, and therefore cater mainly to, the auditory learner who is actually only around 20% of the population. I wondered how many kinesthetic and visual people had left (80%?) because they could not relate with the style of teaching so I encourage churches to create a Prayer Room or different worship experiences so people can connect with God in different ways.

Scientists have discovered that environmental stimulation is essential for healthy brain development in children and adults. Studies also show that learning effectiveness improves 90% with the use of environmental stimulation in workplace training. Simply changing from fluorescent lighting, hanging paintings, playing Mozart, using fresh flowers, regular 'brain' breaks and providing toys to play with can save money for employers on training and produce innovative employees.* If the business world is finding out how important our environment is to brain health then we need to pay attention too and bring art and beauty back into church! When we walk into a creative space our right brain switches on and our left brain with its to-do lists switches off allowing us to relax. I like to think the Prayer Rooms are like Spiritual Spas for our Souls! Imagine if office buildings, hotels, schools and homes all had interactive creative Prayer Rooms?

Healing Environments.

Each Prayer Room is like a room full of art therapy. The room is such a safe place to express anger, frustration, sadness, and joy. The more time we allow God to work on us the more we will be changed by his Holy Spirit. The most amazing prayer room I created was at Florida Hospital open 24-7, all day and all night. People who would never set foot in a church found themselves safe in the Prayer Room praying, crying and sharing their heart with God. Watch a short video here.

A Prayer Room Ministry is incredibly rewarding but also incredibly hard in so many ways. The enemy tries everything possible to stop people praying. Unfortunately funding is also extremely limited for prayer ministries but with a little creativity a room can be transformed into an oasis of God's presence. When creating a Prayer Corner in your house or classroom or a Prayer Room at your church the senses are an important aspect to think about. Allow the Holy Spirit to inspire you! There are resources available on the internet to help or you can buy the 24-7 Prayer Manual.

The aim of Prayer Rooms are simply to get more people, praying more. The more people pray the more miracles we will see. We can help inspire more people to pray powerfully for their families, their community and the world and see transformation take place.

I have many stories from people who have experienced God in the Prayer Room. One teen boy came up to me this week and said, "The Prayer Room is amazing, I really like going in there!" One Theology student shared with me he had the most spiritual experience of his life in a Prayer Room...

Why? Because if someone seeks an experience with God, He will reveal Himself, He will speak, He will be found. Jer 29.13, Romans 10.20, Proverbs 8.17, John 10.22-30.

'God has done all this, so that we will look for him and reach out and find him. He isn't far from any of us, and he gives us the power to live, to move, and to be who we are. "We are his children," just as some of your poets have said.' Acts 17.27,28

Nicola Carleton

Bio: Nicki is a sojourner who travels the world creating interactive prayer rooms and experiences to help people fall in love with Jesus, hear his voice and learn to love prayer. She lives by faith as a disciple living simply, depending purely on God's provisions through donations. She loves to experience new cultures, doing things she has never done before and being in a state of wonder.

Contact: BlissfulMinistries@yahoo.com
Part of www.24-7Prayer.com which is now the largest prayer movement in history.
*(How to Think like Leonardo da Vinci – Seven Steps to Genius Every Day By Michael J. Gelb)

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Week of Prayer at South Bend First Church with Guest Speaker, Nicki Carleton! Aug 7 – Aug 14, 2010.

Saturday, Aug 7, 5pm: Learning to Hear the Voice of God.

Listening is an essential part of every one of our important relationships. God has so much He wants to share with us every day and He does not want us to miss out on the wisdom, encouragement and direction He offers. Learning to hear His voice takes practice and discernment. In this seminar you will learn some of the varieties of ways He communicates with His children, including the importance of obeying that voice and using the powerful Gift of Discernment.

Sunday, Aug 8, 7.15pm: Movie Night

We will be showing the South African Movie “Faith Like Potatoes”. A moving and powerful film exploring how an angry and broken white farmer discovers prayer and a faith that transforms his life, his family and his community. Free Popcorn. Afterwards we may have a brief discussion.

Monday, Aug 9, 7.15pm: Powerful Prayer

We will spend 15 minutes learning a few Biblical tips on how to make our prayers powerful. We will learn what intercession means and practice praying in groups. I believe that this hour of prayer will be very powerful and things on earth will be different because of these powerful prayers.

Tuesday, Aug 10, 7.15pm: Children’s Prayer Workshop

During this hour we will be using our creativity and helping see how powerful prayer can be taught even to children. We will spend time interceding for other Faiths, countries and our community and families. Parents are welcome to bring children of all ages and even if you are not a child you will enjoy this Creative Prayer Time.

Wednesday, Aug 11, 7.15pm: Healing Prayer

Healing still happens in the world today because of the incredible love of God for His children. We will share some stories of answers to prayer and then we will bring to God those people who we know that are sick; emotionally, physically or spiritually. And we will also bravely come before God ourselves asking for God to heal those places in our lives that cause us pain and separate us from the fullness of Joy he offers to us.

Thursday, Aug 12, 7.15pm: Understanding the Curses of Africa and Spiritual Warfare

Nicki has recently come back from trips to Jamaica, Kenya and in Malawi praying to free the children of Ekwendeni from the powers of witchcraft. There are a lot of misconceptions about curses and witchcraft so we will explore the difference between demonic curses and Biblical curses and how to ask God to remove them from the lives of our families by the power of His blood that was shed on the Cross.

Friday Night, Aug 13, 7.15pm - 9pm: The Blood Covenant Blessing.

You will see a symbolic re-enactment of the Hebrew Blood Covenant and we will talk about how the Marriage Covenant, the African Tribal Blood Covenant and the American Mafia use similar symbols to reveal how serious covenants are and how they can never be broken. An understanding of covenants is important when God asks us to enter into a Covenant of Love with him. We will explore what the terms are of His eternal covenant and what he offers you personally in the fine print. An understanding of the Blood Covenant answers some of those questions you may have… Why did God choose to use blood as a symbol? Why was there so much war and killing in the Old Covenant and not in the New? Why were men allowed to marry more than one wife in the Old and only one in the New? Why was circumcision so important? Why is our sexual purity so important to God? How does the enemy try to corrupt these symbols?

Saturday, Aug 14, 7pm – Aug 14, 7pm: 24 Hour Prayer Clock in the Prayer Room.

Sign up for a one hour shift to be part of this continuous prayer clock praying for our church and community for 24 hours. The Moravian Community of Herrnhut in Saxony, in 1727, commenced a round-the-clock “prayer watch” that continued nonstop for over a hundred years, that sustained the fires of evangelism and united their community with love and the power of the Holy Spirit. FACT: By 1791, 65 years after commencement of that prayer vigil, the small Moravian community had sent 300 missionaries to the ends of the earth, some even sold themselves into slavery, so great was their desire to share the good news of Jesus. This was the first group who sent missionaries overseas and was the beginning of the evangelical movement as they believed in the importance of a personal relationship with God rather than just a religious knowledge. They impacted the life of John Wesley profoundly. Read the incredible story of the Moravians and Count Zinzendorf in: The Lord of the Ring by Phil Anderson.

Saturday, Aug 14, 5pm: Quiet Reflection

This hour will be spent in a variety of ways reflecting quietly the majesty of God. God will have time in the quietness to speak to us. You will also enjoy the time in His presence enjoying a private conversation with Him. This will be the closing for our Week of Prayer. With Special Guest Artist.


Thank you for your prayers!

Church Website.

Directions: Near Ironwood Road, South Bend, Indiana. Google Maps.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

I am a woman...

I am a woman.

I have been set apart, anointed, filled with the Spirit, and chosen for a very special calling in life.

To be a disciple.

To encourage others to become disciples so they can teach more disciples so more people will know the redeeming love and transforming power of God. I am an encourager and an inspirer, a teacher, a creator and a worship curator.

Therefore I have been commissioned and mandated, not by a man or by a church but by God himself to GO into all the world, to preach the good news of Jesus Christ inviting people to be baptized into the covenant of his love for eternity.

With his mighty power working through me I can do more than I could ever dare to hope or imagine. I have and expect to see more miracles when I pray to heal the sick, make the blind see, the deaf hear and the lame to walk and the dead to rise. I will pray to heal the land, to heal families and to heal communities. I will pray for those who are addicted and cursed and oppressed to be set free. I have taught children how to pray against witches and demons and am not afraid of any weapon formed against me by the enemy because I know how powerful the blood of Jesus really is. And I'm not afraid to die, to be a martyr so I will continue to live on the front lines of spiritual warfare and take great risks.

He has taught me how to hear his voice. He is my teacher, my mentor and he guides me every day. The gift of discernment, the gift of prophecy and the gifts of the spirit are available to me. I can have dreams and visions. I will claim the fruit of the spirit and allow my nature and identity to be radically transformed by the Holy Spirit each day. He will teach me how to love and how to be loved.

I will wrestle with the angel of the Lord until I receive a blessing. I will not give up, I will stay up all night praying if I have to. I will fast and pray when the Spirit leads. I will stand up for the weak and choose slave free chocolate and fair trade products as often as I can and refuse to buy into the diamond industry and help to stop human trafficking, and I will recycle. I will live simply. I will fight for injustice and not let sexual abuse, domestic violence or spiritual abuse be hidden. I will find healing and help others to heal from brokenness.

I will become a missionary and look beyond myself and the dream of a white picket fence thereby wasting my future, spending my fragrant perfume on the beautiful feet of Jesus. I will be stretched, challenged and pushed to share my resources and be generous to the needs of others. I will share my food, recycle clothes and help to shelter those who are in desperate need. I work in homeless shelters, I build clinics, hug the neglected ones and I sponsor a child and a female underground pastor in China. But I will do more.

I know what it is to live in plenty and in want and it is God who gives me the strength to get through any circumstance I face. I have faith that the small and momentary sufferings I experience will only help me realize the strength of God and see his glory at work. Not only can I trust him to look after my food, clothing and shelter but he also grants me the deep desires of my heart. He promises forgiveness when I fall, gives me perfect peace through every possible storm of life and a joy that surpasses understanding.

I am an anointed women filled with the Spirit of God, so hear my heart, hear me preach!

This is written in response to any man, woman, church or religion who does not believe that God can speak to individuals and give them a unique calling to be disciples of Jesus Christ filled with the power of the Holy Spirit. Yes, that same incredible power that created the universe and raised Jesus from the dead! The Holy Spirit will flow through anyone that asks for it, men, women and children. This is His will, for his good pleasure. We have been created to bring him joy! It is time to lift the veil to reveal the truth and freedom that is found only in Jesus Christ.

By Nicola Carleton

For all the women blessed to be holding the hand of God in ministry - be prepared for the most incredible adventures of your life! Pass this on to all the women you know in ministry to affirm their calling. Pray and support each other because this is not an easy path to travel.

God has not left himself without a witness in doing good -- giving you
rains from heaven and fruitful seasons, and filling you with food and
your hearts with joy. Acts 14:17

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Resurrection Pageant Prayer Room

The last few months have involved a Prayer Tent at SonRise, traveling to Hawaii to dream with Kay Kuzma of writing a book and then on to Australia to visit family and friends. I am so blessed to meet people along this journey that are taking seriously the call to discipleship. Each one of you encourage me greatly.

Photograph by Sherrie Williams. Prayer Tent.

An Interactive Prayer Tent for the 2010 SonRise Resurrection Pageant.

We were so excited to get permission to create an interactive and fun prayer tent this year at SonRise 2010.
Every year Southern Adventist University near Chattanooga is host to an incredible interactive walk through experience that puts you right there at the very scene of Christ's final days leading to His death and resurrection. The cast was made up of 500 people with about 15,000 visitors walking through markets, court houses and gardens with Jesus and the disciples witnessing very moving scenes from this powerful reenactment of history.

The Prayer Fence covered in prayers...Thousands of people walked through every half hour and after the final moving scene of Jesus' resurrection they came outside for free refreshments and could take time to contemplate and process the resurrection they had just witnessed, in the Prayer Tent. This beautiful sacred space was full of people all day. Families, children, costumed characters, skater kids, newly arrived immigrants, people from the community, people from other countries and from other states, all entering in to wrestle with the concept of Jesus as their Savior and how they could invite him to become their best friend, mentor and guide. It was a very diverse crowd so it was wonderful to see so many people enter into a prayer space where they could talk to God and God could talk to them.

The Prayer Station encouraging people to pray more and more!The feedback from those experiencing the prayer tent was overwhelming. The most interesting insight was from a young man who stopped by to help me pack up the tent after an exhausting day! He shared that the prayer room I created at his academy a few years ago had really impacted his life spiritually when he was at a really difficult place in his life. He wondered why there weren't more creative spaces set up like these prayer rooms in churches, schools and in the community to help those people who need different ways to connect to God by providing unique ways to help them on their spiritual journeys. I could not agree more! It is such a beautiful thing to know that rooms like these can allow God to speak powerfully into teenage boys lives (and everyone else). If teenage boys can be challenged, moved, inspired and reached spiritually through worship experiences like these, it seems that every church and community should be building them!

Waimea Canyon. Cold and Cloudy yet still beautiful.In May, I was living in Chattanooga and writing my book called, A Pocket Guide for Travelers.
One day I was asked by author Kay Kuzma to visit her in Kauai, one of the Hawaiian Islands to talk about some discipleship programs at her son's wonderful yet small struggling school at Kahili. (They need volunteers if anyone is interested?)

So, as is my usual procedure before booking flights, I asked God what he thought about where I was going and when to book and for how long. I opened my Bible to the verses in Acts 28 that said,

30 "For two whole years Paul stayed there in his own rented house and welcomed all who came to see him. Boldly and without hindrance he preached the kingdom of God and taught about the Lord Jesus Christ." ...11 "After three months we put out to sea in a ship that had wintered in the island. It was an Alexandrian ship with the figurehead of the twin gods Castor and Pollux. We put in at Syracuse and stayed there three days. From there we set sail and arrived at Rhegium. The next day the south wind came up, and on the following day we reached Puteoli. There we found some brothers who invited us to spend a week with them."

Since I had just spent a delightful winter in the Chattanooga area and a total of two years in the Sines house, I knew God was speaking to me through these texts and answering my questions specifically. So I knew he wanted me to spend three days in Honolulu where I had spent time last year ministering to many churches and spend a week with Kay on the island of Kauai.

For all those who don't regularly ask God for help in major life decisions, I highly encourage it because who else knows all things? God definitely speaks and he will guide you with even the smallest decisions that happen every day. I used to book dates and worry about whether I was doing the right thing. Now I don't have to worry about any decision. I have complete faith and trust that God wants me there for a purpose and he will open all the doors and provide for all my needs while I am there. God has been speaking to me more and more and I am overwhelmed by his insights and revelations. I encourage you to chase after hearing the voice of God throughout your day. A great book that inspired me is: Forever Ruined for the Ordinary: The Adventure of Hearing and Obeying God's Voice by Joy Dawson.

Baby Donald is HIV+ but with care will become HIV-The week in Kauai with Kay was wonderful and busy but we managed to dream together and start writing a book that I am working on right now called Teaching Children to Pray Creatively. It has lots of creative ideas to make prayer fun and uses the senses to help children pray in different ways. If you have any unique ideas please let me know!

I booked my ticket to Australia in order to do the Week of Prayer at Karalundi an aboriginal community school in WA. At the last minute they could not find the funds so I spent the time catching up with family and friends and encouraging and being encouraged by spiritual disciples I met along the way.

More photos of the 2010 SonRise Prayer Tent.

Official Photos of the SonRise Resurrection Pageant by Sherrie Williams.

If you would like to volunteer as a teacher or gardener or housekeeper etc or STAY at the beautiful Kahili School and Retreat Center you are most welcome! Photos.

If you would like Nicki to come to your school, conference or church to help infuse a passion for prayer please email: BlissfulMinistries@yahoo.com

Books Nicki is Currently Writing.

A Pocket Guide for Travelers.
This book will contain Travel Tips, Cultural Awareness and a Discipleship Guide that will equip, challenge and inspire new ways of doing missions overseas. For tourists, pilgrims, and disciples.

Teaching Children to Pray Creatively.
101 Creative ideas that make prayer fun! Includes prayers that are with the family, outdoor prayers, prayers that use art, how to build a prayer corner, prayer journals and prayers that use the senses. It will also teach children how to listen when God speaks.

Thank you to all those who are supporting this powerful ministry - I could not do this without you.

I would love to find people who would become monthly sponsors and/or, intercessors - praying for my protection from spiritual attacks, praying for my financial needs and praying for God to work and speak and create through me to touch the lives of those I minister to. Please email me to be on the prayer list at blissfulministries@yahoo.com.

If you would like to support this ministry financially (either with a one-time gift or monthly support) please contact me (donations are tax-deductible in the USA). Checks can be made out to FLASH Ministries (the non-profit 501c3 that is sponsoring my ministry). Please include 'Prayer Ministries' on the subject line and send it to Flash Ministries PO Box 495 Ooltewah, TN, 37363 USA. Those in Australia or overseas can email BlissfulMinistries@yahoo.com for bank account details.

Thank you for blessing this ministry and helping to change the culture of prayer.

Nicki Carleton
I believe!
Blissful Ministries

Prayer Rooms Update
If you are in the location of a prayer room and would like to help or participate in an upcoming conference or mission please contact me.

JUNE: Southbend, Indiana and Atlanta GC.

JULY: Southbend, Indiana.

Future Missions possibly to Nunavut Arctic Circle to build a Prayer Room and India to do prayer ministry. (These are still in the dreaming stages and still need funding.)