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Archive for the tag “Vision”

The Fly Zone

Ever heard of the fly zone in a relay race? David Green (the Hobby Lobby guy) wrote about this concept in his book Giving it All Away. He used the analogy of the hand off of the baton in the fly zone as the hand off from one generation to the next. The fly zone is the place where one runner ending a race hands the baton to the next one starting their race. The first is winding down and the next is sprinting ahead, and it’s a crucial time to transfer the baton. It is an instant that can either win the race or lose it with a bad hand off.

David Green has quite a bit of wealth to hand off to the next generation. However, it’s more of handing a vision to be carried on long past his retirement or his death, and the wealth that has accumulated to be able to continue what has been started. David’s story is really inspiring. He didn’t have much, but God has blessed him through the years because of David’s faithfulness to the vision. This vision was given by God to David, and God has provided the means to accomplish the vision. David is passing the vision and the means to the next generation.

David has been given an insight we all need to comprehend. His business is not his own – it’s Gods. The money it generates is God’s. What would God want done with His money? He would want others to benefit. He would want His Kingdom to grow. And this is what David has done. He has set hours that would allow family time for his employees. He pays the employees living wages. He believes a manager should be able to do his job in 66 hours – the same hours the store is open. If that manager can’t handle it in that amount of time, then that person is wrong for the job. And the Green family is not guaranteed a job. They have to earn just like everyone else. Impressive.

David has a godly vision for the business and for the family. The business gives 50% of the profit away to projects the family decides to fund. There are several criteria that are considered on every project. If the project doesn’t meet the criteria then it’s a pass. I believe this is a good plan for anyone who wants to be a good giver. Being generous is more than spontaneous giving. It’s having a plan and sticking to it no matter how much you make. It’s a percentage. As wealth grows, the money given grows by the same percent decided ahead of time. David started with a percentage and grew the percentage until 50% was given away. The other 50% went back into the business to grow the business.

This book is not about a business. It’s about a mindset; a foundation for living out the vision. David has raised a family that has the same vision; that has the same values and is leaving a legacy that will be carried on for generations after him. David caught the vision and values from his parents. I got the gift from my parents too. They got it from theirs. We all have received this precious gift that needs to be carried on. It’s how the Gospel message has been transferred from one generation to the next. But we need to understand this is our time. I am in the fly zone. My parents have done their job. It’s my time, and it’s your time regardless of how you got the gift – it’s your time to pass it on.

One of the things I came away with from the book is to have a plan. Giving it all away is a plan, but a plan needs to have a foundation. What really matters to me? What’s my vision for the Gospel message and how can I fund the vision? This is the foundation that needs to be set. Hopefully, I can pass this same vision so that it doesn’t die with me. My vision should stay longer than one generation. I should be able to fund the vision so that it has its own legs to continue the race.

This is not about me and what I can do, but what God will do through me for His glory. It’s His vision and His glory. I just happen to be His runner just as David Green is His runner in this race. We all have a part to play to finish this race. We are in the fly zone, and it’s our responsibility to make a good pass. We can’t drop it now; this race is too important! Let’s finish strong!

You’re going to find that there will be times when people will have no stomach for solid teaching, but will fill up on spiritual junk food—catchy opinions that tickle their fancy. They’ll turn their backs on truth and chase mirages. But you—keep your eye on what you’re doing; accept the hard times along with the good; keep the Message alive; do a thorough job as God’s servant.

You take over. I’m about to die, my life an offering on God’s altar. This is the only race worth running. I’ve run hard right to the finish, believed all the way.
2 Timothy 4:3-7 (MSG)

The Missing Link

Over the weekend, I heard a message that has been marinating in my spirit. Louie Giglio spoke about living with purpose. He mentioned it was more important to live for significance than living for success. Success is measurable and finite, but significance lasts for eternity.

There was an accident in the Atlanta area that killed four young college girls. Louie’s message was about this accident. One of the families was directly linked to his church. The family he knew, the daughter had lived a life of significance in the time she had on earth – even though it was considered “short” in terms of the human experience. Louie pointed out that the time she had on earth in spiritual terms had a greater impact than anyone who had lived a long human experience with very little spiritual impact.

I have been thinking of that. In just another week or so, I will have another birthday. I am coming to terms that I may be out of the middle ground and more toward the end zone. If Jesus doesn’t come back, maybe I’ll have another thirty years or so. I hope living well will get me another five or ten years more. But if I am not living well at that age, I would rather be with Jesus than dwelling in this decaying, earthly body. After considering the message, I have a new end game plan. It’s not to live well in human experience; my goal is to live a life of spiritual significance through the human experience in the time that I have left. There’s just one problem with that. I don’t know how.

I picked up Beth Moore’s new book called Audacious. I started reading it Monday night. The first chapter was on vision. Oh Lord, not another book about vision! I have been searching for vision for years, and I still don’t have a clue. The chapter I read last night floored me. It may be the missing link to the life of significance. The chapter was on Peter and Jesus’ interaction on the beach after Jesus’ resurrection. The question “Do you love me?” is the title of this chapter, and it’s the question Beth posed to the reader about the relationship we have with Jesus. Can we honestly say we love Jesus?

The last few weeks, I have been considering this love angle. The term we use for love has been watered down. Sure I love Him. But do I have a passionate, deep abiding kind of love? Do I have a love like one who falls in love in a new relationship? Jesus called out the ones in Revelation to the church in Ephesus who had forsaken their first love (Revelation 2:4). He called out those who were lukewarm toward Him in Revelation 3. The church at Laodicea were rich in human terms but were spiritually poor. To the ones in Sardis, He issued a “wake up” call. To the church in Philadelphia, He said He opened a door no one can close. To those who overcome, He will give righteous clothes to wear; a pillar in His temple; a place on the throne with Him. It is a matter of opening our hearts to Him and to fall back in love with Him.

Full disclosure: I have never been in love with anyone. I have been in lust many times, but that’s a totally different feeling. I haven’t been married. I don’t have children. I have parents and sisters whom I love but a passionate love, no. Would I give my life for them, yes – I think I would; I hope I would – it’s never come up though; it’s an untested theory. But this Jesus thing is an issue. It’s the missing link to my passionate, significant life. It’s the warning from Revelation that I have to take to heart. Jesus told all the churches in Revelation to have ears to hear what the Spirit says to the churches.

The church and Jesus is represented by a marriage. The church is the bride; Jesus is the groom. We are to love like that. We are to fall in love with Him like a future wife falls for the future husband. It’s the deep abiding love like one who can’t stand to be away from the love of their life. It’s a love that aches when they are apart. Do you love Jesus like that? My heart has been stirred to love like that. Has yours? Beth says it will propel us toward the vision. It’s the missing link to the life of significance. Love changes everything.

Either way, Christ’s love controls us. Since we believe that Christ died for all, we also believe that we have all died to our old life. He died for everyone so that those who receive his new life will no longer live for themselves. Instead, they will live for Christ, who died and was raised for them. 2 Corinthians 5:14-15 (NLT)

Warning Signs

Over the last few months, I have seen a few warnings posted on the door across the street. Each time the warning sign was taken down, but no action was taken (that I could see). Last week, the warnings were not heeded and the Sheriff arrived. My heart hurts for my neighbor. But I am reminded as I sat down to have my quiet time we are given warnings all the time. The Holy Spirit gives us warnings through His promptings. We are given warnings about our health through pains and various symptoms. God warns us about things to come in His word. I am an observant person in most things, but sometimes I just miss the signs. I get distracted by life to really pay attention to what’s going on around me or in me. The only reason I saw the signs going up on my neighbor’s door was because I was outside each time it occurred.

We are told in Scripture to be watchful for the signs that God places around us. Many people I listen to believe we are getting closer to the second coming of Jesus. God says He puts signs in the sky for us to observe. The Holy Spirit helps us and teaches us how to pay attention so that we can learn from these signs. I have been fascinated this past year over “The Harbinger” by Jonathan Cahn. Just the other night, I listened to one of his recent sermons on this coming year – the seventh biblical year. In September, we will be remembering the fourteenth year of 9/11. We as a nation were shaken to our foundations of what we consider our security. We thought we were invincible. We had pride and arrogance that no one could touch us. We were the superpower that no one would dare come against. Soon after it happened, I felt in my spirit that God’s hand had been lifted for that brief time to allow the destruction; to get us to turn to Him. Many did come back to church, but it didn’t “stick.” Life went on. We adjusted to the new normal and moved on.

Since that time almost fourteen years ago, we have fallen away even further. Have we learned from the warning signs of previous years? Will God send another “sign” of His displeasure? This is what Jonathan Cahn is considering in this seventh biblical year of “shemitah” – the shaking, the release of debt year. It’s interesting to hear what he has to say. It’s also interesting to see the signs that are happening in the last few months even. The seventh year began last September. Over the next few months, we will know for sure that God warned us. We could be aware of God’s work by the Holy Spirit. We could pay attention to what’s going on in the world. We could take precautions in our own lives to make sure we have our affairs in order. Or we could just ignore it all and just consider it all hype to sell another book. Time will tell. For me, I don’t want to see signs on my door and do nothing about it. I don’t want the “Sheriff” to come, and I have not been actively preparing the way for Him. I need to be ready for whatever God has in store – good or bad for this coming year. My heart needs repair work done. My life needs to be scrubbed clean of all filth that accumulates over time. And my house needs to be in order. How will you prepare for the coming year? My neighbor got several warnings which were not heeded. Let that not be said of us!

Therefore, with minds that are alert and fully sober, set your hope on the grace to be brought to you when Jesus Christ is revealed at his coming. As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: “Be holy, because I am holy.” 1 Peter 1:13-15

The Good Fight

Once upon a time, I used to hate to read. It was always so tedious to me. But when I think about it, I realize I hated to read text books. History and other topics never interested me when I was in school. Now, I can’t seem to get enough of it now. My interests are vastly different from when I first began to read. I love to pick up a book with meaning – with a purpose than just reading a story for story sake. Romance novels hold no interest for me. But give me a story of someone’s real life; I am fascinated especially of those long ago. I love to understand the history behind the story as well – like the time period and the ways of the world at that time.

Case in point, I just finished reading the biography of Joan of Arc. I have heard the story long ago of this famous girl who rode in front of armies and then was burned at the stake. But I didn’t know the real story or even if the tale was a real story. Joan believed God sent her on a mission to free France from English bondage. (I have often wondered why the French and English don’t get along – there is a long history there.) As I was finishing this story, my heart became so distressed about this young girl. The story occurred long ago, but I felt tears welling up because of the treatment by these powerful “church” men. They had in mind to do her harm from the very beginning of her capture. They were never going to set her free. They believed they were doing right, but their hearts were so dark. The main judge had the idea if he destroyed this young girl he would get the most promising position in the church. Seriously?

I am in distress about this because times really have not changed much. Oh, we live in surely a better world than the dark world of long ago. But man’s heart is still such a dark place. I see the believers today under some extreme conditions in other parts of the world where evilness delights in torture and ruin of God’s people. The shame they bring on young girls by their evil hearts. The torture that women endure – rape, watching their children brutalized, husbands beheaded and such. How can a person be so depraved? My heart hurts. And I realize that the darkness is in me too. I could easily have fallen into that dark place and stayed there. I am just as guilty as any other person today or six hundred years ago. It’s only through the grace of God that the darkness doesn’t rule my heart anymore.

We are meant to feel this injustice so that we will stand up to it. Those of us who call ourselves followers of Christ are meant to be warriors for the cause of Christ. We have the armor that God gives us so that we can go into the battle field and wield the sword with accuracy to defeat the enemy. We can have the same authority that Joan had as she rode to defend her King. She believed she was doing it for her King and country by the will of God. We know that as followers this is not really our home. We are just here for a little while. Our King and country is not of this world. And we have the same conflicts to fight for the injustices of this world. We are here for the poor and needy. We are to make the most of what God wills for our lives. We have a purpose just as this young girl did so long ago. God is waiting on us to join the battle.

Joan heard voices to lead her in her battles. She knew things that were impossible to know. We too have a voice that we are to follow. The Holy Spirit will teach us those things we need to know so that we can fight the good fight. Things are not too different now – the battle is still on. Warriors are still needed. But we have been asleep for far too long. It’s time for us to wake up and be ready to join in God’s work. Are you ready? God’s waiting.

Wash yourselves and be clean! Get your sins out of my sight.
Give up your evil ways. Learn to do good.
Seek justice. Help the oppressed.
Defend the cause of orphans. Fight for the rights of widows. Isaiah 1:16-17 (NLT)

Perspective

I started reading a biography of Winston Churchill a few weeks ago (it’s a hefty book!). This book is a history book of the World War II. I might have studied these things in high school, but I don’t remember too much of what those times. Also, I am reading in the Old Testament. When I see both of these histories together, I see God’s hand in everything. My eyes are being opened to a different perspective. We might think of insignificant things going on in our day and time. However, God is setting the stage in a major way for the ultimate climax that is prophesied in the Bible. From my understanding, everything that needs to happen in order for Jesus to return has taken place. We are just waiting now for His return.

A couple of days ago, I listened to a conference on the end times. Now, I know we don’t know the day or hour of Jesus’ return, but we are told to be watchful. A couple of the speakers mentioned several places in Scripture that tell us to watch for the signs in the heavens. Even in Genesis 1:14 we are told that the lights in the sky serve as signs (signals) to mark seasons (feasts or divine appointments in Hebrew). This year is one of those times we need to look to the heavens. I have been fascinated to learn about the Blood Moons that will occur over the next year. It began on Passover this year and will continue until the Feast of Tabernacles in the fall of 2015.

What’s significant about this? There have been seven Blood Moons that occurred on the Jewish Feasts in the last 2000 years. One hundred percent of the time, these events have been a sign after something significant pertaining to Israel. After World War II, Israel had one brief moment where they had the sympathy of the world, and the nation was reformed in a day. That was 1948. In 1949, the Blood Moons took place on the four Feasts. In 1967, there was a six-day war in Israel where Israel took the significant holy places in east Jerusalem. In 1968, the four Blood Moons again took place on the Feasts. But what about this time? I don’t think anything of significance has happened this past year.

I was reading yesterday morning in Acts 2 about the Holy Spirit being poured out on the disciples at Pentecost. Peter addresses the crowd and delivers his first sermon. He points to Joel for his reference of what was occurring. In that passage there is a mention of the Blood Moons and a solar eclipse that will happen before the glorious day of the Lord. Over this next year, not only will there be the four Blood Moons, but there will be a solar eclipse right in the middle of this time. The moon is considered the signal for Israel and the Sun represents the world. The trouble with prophecy – we don’t know the significance until after the event then we know God has spoken through the prophet.

What does this have to do with perspective? When we look at the events happening right now in the world we need to look at the events with a different perspective. God is setting the stage for the great tribulation that will take place according to the Book of Revelation. This gives us a different perspective on the urgency we need as the Body of Christ to be ready. We still have a lot of work to do with those around us who need the gift of salvation. Time is closer now than ever before. We need to be watchful to the times we live in and look at them with a different perspective. Jesus’ feet are on the threshold of heaven. Are you ready to meet Him? Are your family and friends ready?

When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?” Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off – for all whom the Lord our God will call.” Acts 2:37-39

The Sheet

I was reading Acts 11 on this particular morning. God used this passage in my life to move me from High Point, NC to Raleigh, NC. When I was reading it on this morning, I was brought right back to the reason I am here in this city. About fifteen years ago, I was all settled in my new little house enjoying my life. One of my friends had recently moved to Durham, NC. She knew I was getting to a point in my job that I wanted to start searching for another one. She called me with a new job offer for Raleigh. I was not about to move. I was getting everything in order in my new house, and I liked my life there (just not my job). However, I told her thanks for the information and went about the day. I had my quiet time in the evenings before bedtime back in those days. And read the passage about Peter and Cornelius in Acts 10 (Acts 11 recounts the story). Peter and Cornelius both had visions from God. I thought that was pretty interesting. I was still relatively new to Bible reading so this story was pretty new to me.

God opened Peter’s eyes to a new perspective. He opened the door to new opportunities to preach the Word to the Gentiles. Peter pondered the revelation. Then Peter recognized the opportunity, and he had the courage to go where he was once forbidden to go. I love this passage. God used this passage to get me to my current city. I didn’t know it at the time, but He was going to open my eyes to a new perspective as well. And He was going to give me courage to step into something new. God used this passage to direct my path. I wasn’t planning to move. I had just started to put out “feelers” for a new job. But God wanted me here for a purpose that has yet to be revealed. I think He’s in the process of revealing bits and pieces but the picture isn’t as clear as the sheet was for Peter.

In my past, I have heard a direct word from God on occasion. This is one of those cases where I knew what I was hearing was from Him. In my prayer time after reading the passage, I halfheartedly prayed about the job opportunity in Raleigh. I tucked myself in bed and went to sleep. During the night, I had a dream. I don’t remember much except the word from the Lord. The word for me was “Denise, I have a job for you to do in Raleigh.” That’s all I remember. When I woke up the next morning, I said I guess I need to call about this job. I did. I got the job. I sold my house and got resettled in about a six weeks time frame. It was pretty quick. But when God says go, look out, it will happen quickly!

Just like Peter, I had the confidence to go to somewhere new to do something else new. I am still waiting for the rest of the story. I don’t know exactly why Raleigh. But in the meantime, I am learning all I can learn. I am faithful with what God has given me. And I will be confident when God has the job ready, I’ll be ready!

I remain confident of this: I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord. Psalm 27:13-14

Mountain Tops

I don’t know about you, but I love the mountain tops. I don’t love climbing to get there, but the view from the top is worth the effort. I have been contemplating what God’s vision is for my life. The trouble is: right now, I am on the climb up the mountain. I don’t have the vision from the top yet. As I was considering my vision, I discovered I have had quite a bit of loss in my life. I didn’t recognize it as loss when I was in the midst – except for the loss of a friend in the early 90’s and the loss of my Mom back in 2009 (see “Letting Go” dated February 29, 2012 about the experiences). But when I see the major life events in my life, it was usually a result of loss.

I have had a moment to step to the side of the mountain – a scenic overpass if you will, and look out. This is what I have discerned. I am in the midst of a paradigm shift. I have looked at the loss of loved ones, circumstances or things and have wept for them. The thing about loss is this, there is pain in the midst of it. However, once you get to the other side, there is usually something better in store. I have had to let go of many things, but I have gained something so much better than I would have dreamed possible. I still don’t know what better advantage I have with the death of my Mom, but I know God is showing me a new perspective on that as well.

I had a major life event early in my life. I was devastated. It turned my whole world upside down. We moved from my hometown when I was thirteen years old. I left behind two married sisters and a nephew. What I see from this perspective is a new life that came from that loss. When I was in the middle of the transition, it was the most difficult thing I had faced at the time. If we had stayed in my hometown, I would never have experienced all the things that I experienced in my new city. I went to college in my new city. I joined the women’s basketball team at that college. We experienced winning a national title my senior year. If we had not moved when I was thirteen, I wouldn’t have gone to that particular college – my life would have been totally different. Yes, loss is difficult. If I can focus on the good that will come from it instead of what I am losing, my paradigm shift will give praise and glory to God.

The loss can give freedom to experience something new. It’s time to turn the losses in life to the winning moments instead!

A woman giving birth to a child has pain because her time has come; but when her baby is born she forgets the anguish because of her joy that a child is born into the world. So with you: Now is your time of grief, but I will see you again and you will rejoice, and no one will take away your joy. John 16:21-22

Open Door

A couple of years ago I had a dream. I believe it was a vision from God. I mentioned it in my newsletter in May (Think Myself Free). This dream or vision was not clear. I remember only the open door and my need to close it, but it would not close. When I woke up, I was immediately filled with fear. I thought someone was in the room with me. And I prayed immediately that if I was in danger or demons were present for God to protect me. I was immediately filled with peace and went right back to sleep. I did not know how to interpret all that had transpired.

I have mentioned it to a few people, and they gave me different possibilities. At the time of this dream, I was in a middle of a transition to another path in life. One thought was the door represented the future, and I was trying to close off the future. I didn’t like what was on the other side. I was fearful of going through the door. One thought was the door represented people who needed to come in and out of my life. Another thought was that my old path was not yet done, and I wanted it to be done – representing me closing that door.

I believe God’s visions always reflect a spiritual issue. God doesn’t focus on the physical as much as He does on the spiritual. We are spiritual beings in a physical world. I believe I finally have the interpretation. The open door means I need to tell my story, going where He wants to send me and doing the thing He has placed in me. The fear comes from sharing my story. It’s something I thought I could take to my grave, but God has a different plan. His ways are not my ways.

The scripture in Habakkuk 2 I used last week, and a message from Craig Groeshel opened my eyes to the vision, and I believe it is true. It’s time to tell, and it’s time to write it down. So in May, I started my next book. It will tell of my journey, and how I got to where I am today. It’s scary to be this open, but I know God wants to use it to reach someone else that needs to hear. May it be as He says!

But the Lord said to me, “Do not say, ‘I am too young.’ You must go to everyone I send you to and say whatever I command you. Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you and will rescue you,” declares the Lord. Jeremiah 1:7-8

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