ANOTHER LOOK AT VISION…


Spiritual Blog - Vision

Proverbs 29:18 – “Where there is no vision, the people are unrestrained, But happy is he who keeps the law.” NASU

 

 We are not talking about sight but insight or the vision of the heart at to the objective and purpose of God for our lives and the Church.  Problems arise in the Body of Christ and ministries when there is either NO VISION causing people to cast off restraint or there are TOO MANY VISIONS or unrelated visions causing people to run wild in all directions without direction or purpose.  Both are destructive and detrimental to the cause of the Kingdom of God.  Without vision, none of us can stay on course.  Without vision, we will not be set on fire by the Spirit of God and develop a willingness to be harnessed together and pull in tandem toward a common goal.

Every person has a vision even if they cannot or have not articulated it or fully understood it.  If that vision is not a ‘church-related’ vision, given by God for the whole church in which we can see our special place in the Vision of the Whole that vision will be or become ‘self-centered’ or a ‘survival vision.’  This is the kind of vision in which a person says or thinks, “I will do only what is necessary for me to get along in this world.  I will do what I think will bring me happiness and satisfaction.  I will do so long as it does not interfere with my desires, goals, dreams, ambitions, and vision.”

The truth is all of us have a ‘survival vision’.  It stems from our ‘self-centered’ nature, and whenever we are not truly yoked to a higher God-given vision, the ‘survival vision’ will assert itself and take a supreme position in our lives.  This is the condition in the church when the congregants declare, “I have a right to….  I demand…. You must give me….”  Survival visions stem from a ‘self-centered’ point of view.  They cause people to look at the minister and the church and say, “What do you have to offer me?  How can I benefit from you?”  When they should be asking, “What can I add?  What can I provide?  What can I do for the cause of the Kingdom?”  The person operating in a ‘survival vision’ is not only ‘self-centered’ but they operate out of a ‘need orientation’ rather than a God-centered view of life and ministry.

The tragedy is that NO PASTOR, NO APOSTLE, NO PROPHET, NO TEACHER; NO PERSON can ever meet the needs of a church filled with ‘survival visions.’  WHY?  “The eye is never filled with seeing; the ear is never filled with hearing.”  All the needs a ‘self-centered’ person has CANNOT BE SATISFIED.  It doesn’t matter how good the music, worship, programs, ministries, preaching, leadership the needs of a ‘self-centered’ individual or church WILL NEVER BE MET!

It is incumbent upon each of us to ‘see something greater than ourselves’.  We must allow the Holy Spirit to instill in our hearts a God-centered vision.  The truth is a God-centered Vision and a Survival Vision cannot cohabit the same heart!  When a ‘survival vision’ is in operation NO ONE will rise above the level of their individual vision.  If a person reasons:  “When all my needs are met, then I will go on to a higher vision.”  He or she WILL NEVER go on, for the needs of the human heart are inexhaustible.

So, ask the Holy Spirit to help you move from a ‘survival vision’ to a ‘God-centered vision’ and plug into the Vision God has given the local fellowship and allow your individual vision to be incorporated into it making both visions stronger and more complete.

God bless you as you go through your day!

VISION AND PURPOSE…


Spiritual Blog - Vision

Proverbs 29:18 – “Where there is no vision, the people are unrestrained, But happy is he who keeps the law.” NASU

For a number of years, I have been keenly aware of the pressure associated with public ministry.  There is incredible pressure in public ministry that many do not realize.  The pressure is applied through ‘expectations’.  The expectations of others, self, our perception of what others expect, and our perception of what God expects.  The pressure felt by preachers is also felt by many in the congregation and has resulted in far too many become casualties in the cause and moving into secular employment rather than continuing in the labor of the Kingdom.  Many have become broken-hearted, distressed, and discouraged to the point of total exhaustion and have been robbed of the fruit of their labors that God so desired for them.  It is not a new occurrence but one that, I believe is growing even more pronounced today.

There are many reasons for this but one that stands out to me, especially with regard as to how to avoid discouragement and defeat is VISION!  Then add to that PURPOSE and you will find a wonderful antidote for discouragement and defeat in spiritual things and in life.  Vision & Purpose play incredible roles in the life and health of the individual and the local body as well as the Body of Christ.  Yet, I am convinced that little is truly understood about this vital element whose absence is a major contributor to DISCOURAGEMENT, DISILLUSIONMENT, and DEFEAT!

Look at the passage above:

            NASB “Where there is no vision, the people are unrestrained…”

            NKJV “…cast off restraint…”

            KJV     “the people perish…”

            NLT     “the people run wild…”

         Another “… the people become demoralized…”

Every minister with any degree of experience knows that all of those are true.  For a Church or ministry to go forward, the Body must become ‘yoked’ or ‘harnessed’ together by a singular vision.

In truth VISION is like a ‘yoke’, it links two or more together so that they are able to pull in tandem.  I saw something years ago that said in research they found that if one horse could pull 9,000 pounds, two horses did not pull 18,000 but pulled 27,000 pounds are the equivalent of a third horse.  Without the yoke of vision, there is NO RESTRAINT, either in our personal lives or in the church.  We tend to pull in all directions at the same time and often are working against each other in so doing.  It is like a stampede of horses or cattle running in all directions.  It produces discouragement in the leadership and ultimately in the flock.  When everyone has a different vision about what to do, when to do, and how to do it failure is guaranteed.  Too often, it has been my observation, that there are either TOO MANY VISIONS or NO VISION.  When there is NO VISION the people are left to formulate and attempt to initiate their own visions rather than plugging individual visions into the corporate vision making it stronger, more complete, and more viable they all go unrestrained in differing directions which creates chaos and lack of continuity.  SUCCESS is impossible in that condition and situation.

Without VISION and VISION FROM GOD, none of us can stay on course.  We will become too easily distracted or sidetracked.  But if we have a VISION FROM GOD and a determined PURPOSE to fulfill that Vision we can stay on course and accomplish the purposes of God in our situation and according to His timing and plan.

Find out what the Vision of your fellowship is and then evaluate your vision to determine if it is consistent with the Vision of the Body.  If it is not, talk to the leadership about your vision, and if you can find a way to incorporate it into the overall vision great and if not, and you are totally convinced that this is a VISION FROM GOD for you it may be that you are in the wrong fellowship.  I am not trying to get anyone to leave any church but I believe that most pastors would agree that ‘two cannot walk together unless they be agreed.’

God bless you as you discover God’s Vision for you and God’s Vision for the Local Body!

SECRETS IN PREPARING FOR WAR…


Spiritual Blog - Warfare

2 Timothy 2:1-3 – “You therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. 2 The things which you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses, entrust these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.”  NASU

We have discussed the ‘deposit’ each of us is to make or should be making in others.  Paul was giving Timothy, his son in the faith some counsel regarding his ministry and purpose in preparing others to join in the spiritual warfare that is going on and will until Jesus come again.  One of the things we learned is that it is important to “Pick the Right Friends.”  We observed that one of the most devastating things for the church or the individual in this walk and warfare is ‘misplaced friendships’ or ‘relationships.’  As the writer of Proverbs tells us in 25:19 – “Confidence in an unfaithful man in the time of trouble is like a broken tooth or a foot out of joint.”  Painful would be an understatement and adds no benefit.

Today, I would like for us to consider another secret – “Pick Faithful People.”  That is an absolute for ‘fellowship’.  I have learned through observation and experience that ‘faithful people’ make the best fighters in spiritual warfare or any warfare!  Tragically the Church has given positions of responsibility and authority to people simply to get them involved or keep them coming to the local ‘sheep shed.’  That is absolutely disastrous and completely contrary to what the Bible teaches.  It is equally dangerous when we, as individuals, reach out in search for relationships out of desperation, due to rejection and a desire to be ‘approved’, ‘liked,’ and ‘loved’.  MISTAKE!

Who should Timothy have chosen?  Those who stayed when the others left!  Bear in mind, they probably were not necessarily the most influential, charismatic, and may not have been the most gifted.  They were likely just ‘regular people.’  BUT – They stayed true!  FAITHFUL!  I am so thankful to God for the friends who have stayed true through the years and the tears!

Proverbs 17:17 – “A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.”

Proverbs 27:6 – “Faithful are the wounds of a friend.”

Proverbs 27:17 – “Iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.”

I have learned, the hard way, that a real friend, will not sugar-coat everything and tell me only what I want to hear.  They are honest to a fault with me and as a result, they ‘sharpen me’ and sometimes the ‘wound’ of their words and truth hurts but that hurt leads to healing and betterment in my life.  I thank God for a friend who will be honest in love!

If you attempt to pour your life into an ‘unfaithful person’ it is like pouring water on the ground.  The Bible teaches that we are to ‘love all people’, ‘reach out to all people’, and we are to ‘avoid being suspicious, and judgmental.’  We are to judge righteous judgment not the judgment of the flesh.  So, beware you cannot pour your life out to or into everyone. Those you are going to WAR with must be FAITHFUL people!  That is a ‘heart quality’ not a ‘religious performance’ thing.

If you catch what Paul says to Timothy you will find valuable information for your relationships and labors:  “Timothy, you take what you have learned from me and commit that to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.”   Do you see the process?

  • We RECEIVE and the GIVE OUT.
  • It is PROGRESSION through MULTIPLICATION.
  • The DISCIPLE is to become the DISCIPLER and produce DISCIPLES who will in turn DISCIPLE others. It is REPRODUCTION!

There is evangelism, discipleship, and fathering but to be a father you must have spiritual sons and daughters!  You reach out to everyone.  You evangelize whenever and wherever you can or there is the opportunity.  But, you cannot pour your life, to the point of reproduction into everyone!  The whole of Christianity is about RELATIONSHIPS!  Not positions, structures, functions, gifts, roles, rules, etc.  It is about RELATIONSHIPS!  LIFE LINKS!

Paul’s emphasis and that of the Bible is FAITHFULNESS, not ABILITY.  He did not say look for ‘qualified men’.  There are scores of them, they are abundant.  He said, look for FAITHFUL MEN!

1 Timothy 5:22 – “Lay hands suddenly on no man, neither be partakers of other men’s sins: keep thyself pure.”

The ‘laying on of hands’ here is releasing them or appointing them to position or ministry.  You must know those you are going to war with.  You do not appoint them out of need, based on previous success, influence, or charisma. You do so after you have tested them and know they are FAITHFUL!

1 Thessalonians 5:12 – “Know those who labor among you.”

So if you are in a position to disciple another carefully choose who you pour out your life to or into.  Be sure they are faithful people who will then teach others that which you are teaching them.

God bless you as you go through your day!

THE KEY TO SERVICE IS THE HEART…


Spiritual Blog - Heart

2 Timothy 2:1-2 – “You therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. 2 The things which you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses, entrust these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.” NASU

 

In consideration of ‘Spiritual Warfare’ including the preparation and the establishing of leaders in the Church, we must look at the HEART.  In this passage especially if you take the full context you will find some incredibly powerful truths regarding ‘leadership’, ‘service’, and ‘life.’

It has been my observation that one of the best ways to test someone’s character and determine if they are truly a servant having Jesus’ Heart is to let them know you ‘recognize’ the call of God on their lives and then give them a task such as Janitor, Chair set-up detail, Greeter, Usher, or something of the like.  Let him who would be the greatest among you be servant of all.  Then watch them and listen to them.

THE KEY IS THE HEART:

Qualification is not enough!  Faithfulness is the critical element!  This message and ministry are to be committed to ‘faithful men’ who shall be able….  The word ABLE – [he-ka-nos] speaks of sufficiency.  ‘Who is sufficient…’  Simply, those faithful people who may not be qualified right now but because of their heart will become SUFFICIENT.  Whatever God has called you to do He will make you sufficient if you are faithful!

God does not come looking at our QUALIFICATIONS, after all, those come from Him anyway!  He comes looking at our HEARTS!  Ministry (real ministry) does not begin in the pulpit or on the platform – – it begins in SERVICE!  FAITHFUL SERVICE!

In truth, none of us are really qualified.  God does not call us because of our natural talents.  He calls us because of our HEARTS!  If a person’s heart is right and willing to be taught, this ‘faithful’ person can become MORE THAN HE NOW IS.

All of us have been burned or hurt in life.  All of us have a call on our lives. All of us need a close covenant of committed friends. All of us need to be a part of a covenant community.  ALL OF US!  For you and me to stand in our commitment to Christ WE NEED to establish a Covenant Relationship with God.  For our families to stand and not become fragmented and destroyed we need to develop a Covenant Relationship in that family order.  For the Fellowship or local Church to stand and possess the land, there must be committed covenant relationships established within that body.

We are facing a SPIRITUAL WAR and to be prepared we much be COMMITTED and FAITHFUL.  We have God’s Promises.  Now as we more fully understand His purposes and receive His power we must be united in a Covenant Family and always stand FAITHFUL.

God bless you as you go through your day!

WHAT DEPOSIT ARE YOU MAKING IN OTHERS…


SPIRITUAL BLOG - Disciples

2 Timothy 2:1-2 – “You therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. 2 The things which you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses, entrust these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.”  NASU

 

Making disciples as seen in verse two ‘commit to…’ is essentially ‘making a deposit’ in their lives.  It is like putting money in the bank.  You drive alongside or go inside and deposit the money and the money is there when you need it.  But, what about the times when you do that with people and they quit on you, betray you, hurt you, leave you, abandon, you in the time of heated battle?  You say, ‘that deposit didn’t work am I supposed to do it again?’  YES!  Everyone’s been hurt or will be hurt.  If fear grips your heart you dare not go back into isolation and refuse to risk being hurt again.  If you do then the devil’s plan is succeeding.  The temptation is always there to protect your heart from hurt but when you realize that you cannot if you are to continue in the ministry and fulfill the commission the Lord gave us you will press on.  Always remember you CANNOT function in battle alone and be effective.  This is a Body Ministry!  This is an Army!  This is a Family!  This is not a bunch of isolated individuals or body parts trying to be the whole for that is certain defeat!

In making disciples you quickly learn the power and importance of FORGIVENESS.  You have to determine that you will forgive, forgive, and forgive.  That will prevent a root of BITTERNESS from springing up in your heart and defiling you and others.  It is necessary to maintain order and keep the battle moving forward.  If you have been abandoned in the war zone you need to be healed and restored.  Refuse to allow wounds to fester and become infected.  Healing comes by allowing the wound to be opened, the blood to flow to it and life to receive ministry.

A word of wisdom and warning – “Pick the right friends this time!”  Do not be too quick to lay hands on people.  How do you pick the right ones?  Discernment and testing!  I’ve had people want to be friends and comrades in arms in the battle only to find that they quickly became disillusioned and disappointed.  They had expectations of me that I could not fulfill and therefore they turned on me.  Some have been offended that I would joke, laugh, enjoy recreational sports, etc.  They expected me to be, as they stated “different” which really meant ‘abnormal’ and ‘weird’.  They had not learned that we are all human and even Jesus was anointed with the oil of gladness above his fellows.

It would be easy to say, “Never again. I won’t risk being hurt.”  That will seal the deal making failure certain and limit any effectiveness you might have in the kingdom.  Too many lead pastors have allowed the wrong people to be made ‘elders’ and ‘deacons.’  We do that in our churches and our lives too frequently. That is why it is vital that we exercise the ‘discerning of the Spirit.’  Always remember that the qualifications for leadership are not ‘community influence’, ‘financial status’, ‘charisma’, or ‘perceived leadership potential.’  It is COMMITMENT!  We all have the capacity for a great number of friends but only room for a few close intimate relationships.  You are to ‘deposit’ a portion of your life into that person or persons and that deposit is precious so guard it with your all.  You are going to war with this individual so you must KNOW THEM!  In war, you must KNOW your fellow soldiers will stand and do their jobs.  Your life may and probably will depend on it.  I am not talking about preferences I am talking about WAR!  Once you have committed your life to Jesus you are a candidate for FRONTLINE DUTY!

There is nothing more destructive to a local fellowship than misplaced leadership.  Likewise, there is nothing more destructive to an individual life than misplaced friendships or relationships.  1 Corinthians 15:23 tells us that “bad company corrupts good morals.”  Proverbs 25:19 teaches that “confidence in an unfaithful man in time of trouble is like a broken tooth or a foot out of joint.”  It is painful and can be quite harmful.

In your enlistment in the Army of God, I pray that God not only equips you for battle but enables you to equip others and to have the spiritual insight and discernment to recognize the ‘right people’ to stand with.

Blessings as you go through your day!

SPIRITUAL WAR ZONE…


Spiritual Blog - War

2 Timothy 2:1-2 – “You therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. 2 The things which you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses, entrust these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.”  NASU

I know what it is like to be in a War Zone in the natural and in the spiritual.  I’ve had some people say to me, “You don’t sound like a preacher you sound like a soldier.”  Well, in truth, you cannot remove the training and experience in the War Zone from my life.  God has used and is using it to shape me into what I am and what He desires.  There are things I learned and experience in the natural war zone that has proven to be beneficial in the spiritual war zone.  I acknowledge that virtually all believers get a taste of the ‘Spiritual War Zone’ but all do not FUNCTION there or at least not effectively.  It takes ‘fierce determination’, an ‘understanding’ of the strategies of the enemy and an ‘understanding’ of our weapons and equipping.  It takes that but there is one thing more that is absolutely essential and that is FAITHFULNESS!

Consider what Paul says to his spiritual son Timothy in verse 2 – “The things which you have heard from me…”  In the KJV it is rendered ‘of me’ the Greek word is [pa-ra] = alongside, partnership, side-by-side relationship.  It is the same word used to describe the ministry of the Holy Spirit in [John 14:26; 15:26; 16:7] The Holy Spirit reveals the heart of the Father as He walks with us and resides in us.  It is a Covenant relationship!  He is the ‘Paraklete’ and there is no one closer to you than Him!

Timothy had been there with Paul in good times and bad.  He had worked alongside the apostle.  Paul reminds him “the things you have learned by virtue of our close, long-standing, side-by-side relationship.  You have been mentored.”  This was not a teacher-student classroom experience with one lecturing and the other taking notes for a test.  This was actual ministry.  It was covenantal ministry.  It was walking together in good times and bad.  In 2 Timothy 3:10 Paul declares, “But you (Timothy) have FULLY KNOWN my doctrine, manner of life, purpose, faith, longsuffering, charity, patience.”   Paul says in verse two above – “what you have learned, commit to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also.”

Simply, “Timothy, you know what I’ve done for you.  Now go and do the same for others.  You have been disciple now it is time for you to disciple.”  This is the principle of reproduction.  God always expects reproduction.  What we receive we are to give.  What we learn we are to demonstrate and teach.  Remember Jesus said in Matthew 10:8 – “…Freely you have received, freely give…”

I was teaching on this once and had someone interrupt me saying, “But Timothy had been hurt!”  I paused and asked, “Was Paul ever hurt?  Was Jesus ever hurt?  How is being hurt a justification for drawing back?”  We are supposed to be pulling down strongholds and taking ground for the kingdom not going into hiding or isolation.  If we faint in the time of adversity our strength is small.  In verse one Paul charges Timothy to be “strong in the grace that is Jesus Christ.”  If we do not have a good connection to the flow of ‘supernatural enablement’ we must ask why?  Is it because of our relationship, trust, revelation?  WHAT?  It is imperative that we truly SEE JESUS to truly TRUST HIM!

Making disciples is a commission that each of us has been given and that works at all levels of leadership and responsibility in the kingdom and life.  In Matthew 28 our Lord said, “Go therefore and make disciples…”  That is not a suggestion but a commandment.  That commission cannot be fulfilled outside the context of ‘faithfulness’ through ‘committed covenant relationships.’  It is time-consuming to make disciples.  It involves commitment and sacrifice.  It can be and usually is incredibly painful but equally joyous.  It is risk-filled.

My question is not if you are in the ‘war zone’ but are you a ‘committed warrior?’  If you are then do not shy away from the task at hand of ‘making disciples’.  Jesus instructed us to pray to the Lord of Harvest that He would send forth laborers into His harvest.  The harvest is plenty but the laborers are few.  Be a committed warrior making disciples who are or will be committed warriors.

God bless you as you go through your day!

LET THE RIVER FLOW…


Spiritual Blog - River.PNG

John 7:37-39 – “Now on the last day, the great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, ” If anyone is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink.  38 “He who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, ‘From his innermost being will flow rivers of living water.'”  39 But this He spoke of the Spirit, whom those who believed in Him were to receive; for the Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.”  NASU

 

This is interesting for many reasons, not the least of which, is Jesus’ action.  He stood and cried or yelled out, “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink.”  On this last day of the feast, there was a ceremony in which they drew water from the Pool of Siloam and mixed it with wine and poured it on the altar as a sacrifice.  Some have argued, and probably rightly, that this was a proper interpretation of Isaiah 12:3, “Therefore you will joyously draw water from the springs of salvation.”  There is no record of Moses commanding them to perform such a ceremony.  It is likely that it was during this ceremony, Jesus stood and cried out his question.

I believe that in so doing, Jesus was drawing their attention away from a ceremony or rite that was not commanded by God through Moses.  It was a ceremony that was symbolic but could not bring about redemption.  Jesus was addressing the thirst within the hearts of those following the rituals prescribed in keeping the Law for Freedom.  Within the hearts, I believe, was the deep cry for Peace and Salvation.  Jesus stood and addressed this need and once He had their attention he offered His Hope saying, “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink.”  Then in verse thirty-eight, He declares, “He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, ‘From his innermost being will flow rivers of living water.’”  The next verse identifies that He is speaking of the ministry of the Holy Spirit in lives.

My cry is LORD, “let the river flow!”  Let it flow in me and let it flow in the hearts of believers everywhere.  May the water of life that flows from the Throne into our hearts flow out from us and touch people.  We need the River!  We need the Water of Life flowing from the Throne to come!  We need to be immersed in God’s incredible Love, Mercy, and Grace and we need to be dispensers of that water.

My question is simply, “Have you drank from the Water of the Well of Salvation?”  If you have not, today is the day of salvation.  Now is the accepted time.  Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life and no one can enter into the presence of God but through Him.  Isaiah 53:5-6 tells us that Jesus was pierced through for our transgressions, bruised or crushed for our iniquities, endured chastening for our well-being, and scourged or beaten for our healing.  He is the Sacrifice for the Sin of the World. He is the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.  He is the Door through which we have access to God.  If we have been born again, there is a River that is flowing inside of us and we need to allow the Holy Spirit to draw it out.  Therefore, I cry “Let the River Flow, Oh Lord.  Let the River Flow!”

Are you thirsty like the little deer panting for the water brooks?  Blessed are they who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled.  Do you want the River to Flow?  Do you want to not only represent the LORD but to manifest Him?  Come to the water, there is a vast supply and drink and once you drink it will be like priming the pump and the River will begin to flow.  It will flow out from you not only nourishing you but impacting everyone you encounter.

God bless you as you embark on today’s leg of life’s journey!