Friendship – A Concert

Charles Martin

World Renown Saxophonist

Oct 29th  7pmcharlesmartin2

State Theater – 200 E California Ave, Gainesville, Tx


Celebrate great friendships in the Gainesville, Texas community with us as Community Transformation Initiative enjoys one year making friends in the community.


Phil Larson, Director

405.388.8037 cell/text

940.580.4887 Gainesville


Katie’s Gift

parkinglotCommunity outreach for the fatherless takes many forms.  Through partnerships with Tulakes Elementary, Jesus House, CAREVI, Cooke County Probation, and Hope Connection, we are busy.   Read forward to learn about Katie’s Story.  It is powerful and confirms the impact of community engagement.                                                                   GIVE HERE

1 Thessalonians 5:11 (GNT) And so encourage one another and help one another, just as you are now doing.

Over the week, God has uniquely appeared on many doorsteps.

Steven and Jackson reached out in the neighborhoods Monday evening.  There were a few memorable moments.  One couple tearfully asked for prayer for their marriage in their driveway and received a strong touch of God.  Another gentleman expectantly received prayer for his family out by his garage.  His grandchildren are not coping well with the suicide of their father three years ago.  He was excited to introduce Steven and Jackson to his 14 year old grandson.  Others looked to God for answers in their doorways.

In the businesses, professionals and owners asked for strength in family, recovery from depression, and anointing of God for customers.  One looked for their father, a former minister, to return to a congregation family.  Wounds of life run deep.  God was busy.

Saturday, while planning for an additional neighborhood in the Matamoros outreach, Raul encountered a friend in the restaurant.  As I was paying for the breakfast in our favorite greasy spoon, Raul’s friend explained in quiet Spanish his ailments.  Turning from the cashier, we prayed for him in the foyer.  It was visibly evident that God was touching him.  Unknown to me, we were being studied.

As we reached our car, a voice called to us. “Excuse me, my name is Katie.”  She went on to explain she had watched as Raul’s friend received prayer.  She and her husband do not attend a church.  Through a series of events, they had benefited from a little extra income and wanted to tithe from it.  Would we accept it for our church?  She reached into her purse and counted out five $20 bills.

Let’s call it “Katie’s Gift”.  God has a special way to encourage us when we reach hard moments.  For me the gift was an immediate return of blessing.  I really did not have the extra dollars to pay for my friend’s breakfast or the time that morning.  Together, Raul and I lean on each other.  Breakfast is a family moment for us.  We talked of struggles and disappointments and joys, while we prepared to give out of our need for others.  By unexpected source, our upcoming trip expenses were almost covered and all the supplies were on order for the kids.  This gift was an unexpected and welcome encouragement.

Over the week, I had witnessed God touch believer and unbeliever in driveways, offices, restaurants, furniture stores, gas stations, chiropractor offices, antique stores, garages, doorways, curbside in the street, parking lots, over the phone, and at the parsonage.  And one of them, watching from the side like the grateful leper chased us down to say, “Thank you, God.”

Luke 17:5 and the apostles said, “Lord, increase our faith.”…..          GIVE HERE

11 Now it happened as He went to Jerusalem that He passed through the midst of Samaria and Galilee. 12 Then as He entered a certain village, there met Him ten men who were lepers, who stood afar off. 13 And they lifted up their voices and said, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!”

14 So when He saw them, He said to them, “Go, show yourselves to the priests.” And so it was that as they went, they were cleansed.

15 And one of them, when he saw that he was healed, returned, and with a loud voice glorified God, 16 and fell down on his face at His feet, giving Him thanks. And he was a Samaritan.

17 So Jesus answered and said, “Were there not ten cleansed? But where are the nine? 18 Were there not any found who returned to give glory to God except this foreigner?” 19 And He said to him, “Arise, go your way. Your faith has made you well.

How interesting that in this story, it is one who is not a church goer that gives the thank you?   The Samaritan is not a Jew.  But none of the church goers returned to say thank you.  Only the Samaritan returned.  He did not wait to see the priest, but ran back as soon as he knew God touched him.  Like Katie in the parking lot, respond to God with gratefulness for His grace.  We have so much that it can become common and expected as if we were entitled.  It is easy to take advantage of His touch and blessings and take for granted our health, leaders, facilities, teaching and all He makes available to us and others.   It is easy to get focused on our desires and withhold our gratitude.   When was the last time you were so excited about God blessing someone else that you ran through a parking lot to thank Him with a good and sacrificial gift?

Katie’s Gift challenges me and encourages me.  There is faith in the land.  Lord, increase my faith.  GIVE HERE

Happy Father’s Day

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

Dad’s University Registration

Dad's University on FaceBookLifelong Dads.  Kids Need ‘Em.

Next Dad’s University:  Gainesville, Texas -onmyshoulders

Host: Hope Connection 3404 N. Grand Ave  940.580.4887

Sept 8th for 12 weeks at 5:30pm  Three payments of $45 at first, fifth, and nineth session…REGISTER BELOW so we can have workbooks ready.

Real men need real education in fathering.   Unleash your father power to build more personal satisfaction in your life and the lives of those that call you, Dad.

Being a dad can be a tough job at times.   It is worth your effort.  Your kids need you.  Dad’s University will help you gain understanding of key dynamics of consistency, active listening, nuturing, support, protecting and providing, and equipping that are important to you and your child.

You’ll have fun on this day.  You will laugh and cry and find new joy in your job as Dad.

Personality profile will assist you in focusing your efforts as a Dad on what will make the most difference for your family.

Whether you are in the home with your children or doing the work of a Dad and living outside of the home, your kids need you to be the best Dad you can be with the time you have with them.

It is a wonderful job.  Doing it with increased knowledge and help just makes it better.


Jump in:


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

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

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

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

At Gethsemane, you need to know your commission.

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

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

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

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

At Gethsemane, you do the right thing.

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

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

At Gethsemane, you give.

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


Time to Lead: Steps to transformation for you and those you lead. by Philip Larson Link:

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

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

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

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

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

Forest or Flower?

This morning I remember my friend, Abuna Nasr. Fr. Constantine Nasr is a nineth generation minister. Born Palestinian in Jerusalem, he is the continuance of over 400 years of Christian ministers father to son in the Holy Land. He keeps the communion cup handed down father to son over those 400 years. That is generational living. That is the blessing of the father continuing and continuing.
As we mourn the disruption in the church at Oklahoma City this week with a “father in the faith” under public scrutiny and stepped out of ministry influence, I think of generational men like Dr. Herman Reece of CBMC and Tom Hill of Character First and Fr. Nasr of the Antiochan Orthodox and Dr. Frank Tunstall of the IPHC and Dr. Major Jemison of the Progressive Baptist convention. These men each have full right to speak into my life and they do just that. From the ecclesiastical, ecumenical, expressionist, evangelical and executive seats of influence they are nation changers and generation builders.
While soaking the wisdom of Abuna Nasr (Abuna is a special personal distinction and means spiritual father), he shared a generational blessing with me. He reached to his wedding ring and turned it on his finger. “Phil, when you are away from your wife, just do this and remember who you are.” He was challenging me to be a man of generations and stability and keep a long term view of faithfulness and covenant. Here is a tip handed down for generations father to son and now is my blessing. He’s right.

Tom looked at me recently and said, “Phil, you are not responsible for the results. You are responsible to do the right thing. Keep doing it.” Wise words from a generational man. He’s right.
This morning Ed Zielinski, county attorney in Cooke County, Texas, turned to me in conversation. Sitting at a chamber of commerce breakfast, we were talking about some young men on probation who have trouble thinking a clear thought. Fatherless and a life of drugs and crime and their minds just don’t work clearly. And yet another man, who spent 30 years in prison, who is now working to live a good life. Ed admonished me, “Phil, God designed you to help these men think through this.” He’s right.
It is good to be surrounded by generational men, who meditate in the word of God day and night, who do not sit in the seat of the scornful, and who work on growing forests instead of flowers. It is easy to grow a temporary garden of flowers that fade in a few days after blooming. It is tough to grow a forest of trees that will stand 400 years. Fathers grow forests.

To Do One Thing

A few years ago, a transition occurred in my life.  They happen. Life is full of transitions.  It was a catalyst for a life change for me that I will never regret.  God took a normal  evil and produces good for me and others every day.  Life is good.  Friend and family are wonderful.  There are more transitions ahead.

How did friends handle this moment of transition?Image

One asked me, “Are you okay?”  But, he was unprepared to follow through and doesn’t return phone calls.

One asked me, “How can I help?”  And, encourages regularly and  faithfully.

One asked me, “What happened?”  But only wanted gossip.

One looked at me told me to get back and refuses my phone calls.

One denied all knowledge and deferred to others.

One listened and only responds at whim.

One thanked me for my service and faithfulness and expressed genuine regret.

One listened and asked for money from me for their business and offered no support.

One listened and asked me to join their multi-level marketing organization.

One looked at me, accused me, threatened me, and looked away.

One  listened, extended compassion, extended support, and continues to followup.

One listened, connected me with meaningful service alongside them, and continues.

One spoke at me and refused to raise head or eye to make contact.

One never did anything.

One remains silent, not knowing what to say, but staying faithful in love and friendship.

It is interesting how people treat you in moments of change.  All of these were “friends”, a few still are.

In all these cases, there is really more than one that responded this way.

As a friend, how do you respond?  How do you support others?  What is your motivation?

I’ve supported many transitions in organizations and families over 3 decades of management and community service.  Some were my transition, some were transitions of others.  Truthfully, these responses are typical in each transition.  People like change and transition on their terms and their timing.  People act all sorts of weird ways when they don’t understand or have demanding motivations driving them.  They  are normal ways people respond to change.

Each of these responses comes from either a motivation of self preservation, greed, control, power, loyalty, gratefulness, disinterest, encouragement, or compassion.

Each of these represents a person, to whom  many hours and years of service and support and encouragement were extended and prior to the transition called me, “Friend”.  How do you support your friends in transitions?

How should I respond to others in transition?

The golden rule still applies.  Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.  Though people may treat you many different ways, choose how you will treat others, now.  Who in your sphere of influence has gone through a transition and could use a helping word or action to move forward?  Don’t let the machinations of selfish desire dictate who you will be.  Be the best of responders.  Overcome normal evil with good.

Why do I say, “Normal evil?”  Well, many times we categorize transition or change as something bad.  It is not bad.  It just is what it is.  Without transition and change, we would stay the same.  BORING!  You can always put good interpretation or bad interpretation on a situation.  You can always choose to accent the good or the bad.  Choose.

Don’t be silent.  People need to hear your voice and see you.  How wonderful it was one day, when visiting a company to have one of those from a transition run up, hug me, and say how much they missed me.  Yes, that is a grown adult response.  A face to face handshake is powerful.  A card in the mail is marvelous.  An email of concern and encouragement is powerful.  Silence communicates fear and distrust.  Make a noise.

Don’t go away after you do one thing.  How lonely you must be to only value a person when you see them in your space every day.  That is not friendship, but convenience.

How should I respond to my transitions?

Close the Book: Today, I am closing the book on one particular series of events.  I am putting it in my past.  It has taken many months of processing and consideration.  The people involved are important to me.  They are more important than any event.  Every day I have risen to the day, accepted new challenges, faced demons of disloyalty and dishonesty, and enjoyed company of compassion and concern.  Today, I bury the history and have a memorial service.  I’ll light a candle, raise a toast to blessing and health, and move on with life, love, and laughter.  Someday, you need to grieve and go on.  Don’t live in the past.

Celebrate: Today, I celebrate the freshness of friendships that encourage, support, listen, and walk alongside.  There are some great people in the world, who understand and value friendship.   There are some not so great people in the world, who only understand what they can get out of you for the moment.  Be one of the greats in the face of the not so greats.  Don’t let them get you down.  There is too much of life to enjoy.


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