Quotes: Calling, Purpose, Vision

Reaching for StarJoel 2:28 NRSV
I will pour out my spirit on all flesh;
your sons and your daughters shall prophesy,
your old men shall dream dreams, and
your young men shall see visions.

When we speak of vision, we are speaking of more than a moment of inspiration; we are talking about a conviction that alters us completely—inside and out.  A vision is a sense of “for this I was made” —- “to this I must give my life.” It is the flame that ignites our ministry and the foundation that enables it to stand against winds of opposition and change. – Steve Harper, Shepherd’s Care: Vision (1)

The two most important days in your life
are the day you are born and the day you find out why.
-Mark Twain

If you want to build a ship,
don’t drum up the people to collect wood
and don’t assign them tasks and work,
but rather teach them to long for the endless immensity of the sea.
– Antoine de Saint-Exupery

The human imagination hungers for substance, for meaning, for God. If it encounters a world without meaning, it slowly starves for lack of anything to chew on. The “organs of meaning” must have something to eat. Feeding the God-hungry imagination is, I believe, precisely the church’s task in spiritual formation.
– Sarah Arthur, The God-Hungry Imagination

Habakkuk 2:1-3 NRSV
I will stand at my watchpost, and station myself on the rampart; I will keep watch to see what he will say to me, and what he will answer concerning my complaint. Then the Lord answered me and said: Write the vision; make it plain on tablets, so that a runner may read it. For there is still a vision for the appointed time; it speaks of the end, and does not lie. If it seems to tarry, wait for it; it will surely come, it will not delay.

A vision without a task is hopeless, a task without a vision is treachery
but a task and a vision together is the hope of the world. –Suzette Hattingh

You get God’s vision by saying

  • What do You want me to do?
  • How do You want me to do it?
  • And when do You want me to do it?

You need to stop praying, “God, bless what I’m doing.” And instead start praying, “God, help me to do what You want to bless.” I get up in the morning and I pray a very similar prayer every day. “God, I know You’re going to do some very exciting things in the world today. Would You give me the privilege of just being in on some of them? I just want to be in on what You’re doing. I want to do what You’re blessing.”
– Rick Warren, 3 Aspects of the Vision God Has for Your Church

The Bible doesn’t teach us to keep looking over our shoulders to see if others approve of us or not or to second guess ourselves when we see an opportunity to do more or to rise to the next level in the work God has given us to do. We’re told to fix our eyes on Jesus, to love God with every fiber of our being and give ourselves wholeheartedly to his purposes. – Carolyn Custiss James

“Do not be afraid,” just like “you are forgiven,” are needed companions throughout our lives. We strive to be faithful followers, to be strong and bold in vocation. But sometimes, strength wavers. Sometimes, boldness weakens or mutates into arrogance. By and large, those experiences come because of fear. “Do not be afraid” can fade into the background all too quickly when tragedy or injustice or downright ignorance holds sway. But God does not give up on us. God does not strip us of our calling in those times when we realize that even having nothing to fear but fear itself still leaves us with a considerable antagonist to face. Rather, God calls us out — out of sin, out of fear — and gives us the possibility of a new day. – John Indermark, Do Not Live Afraid

Quote and Blessing from In the Sanctuary of Women by Jan Richardson
One of the signs that we’ve found our way to a core desire, something that God desires for us, is that in following it, we feed not only our own hunger but that of others as well. When we pursue God’s longing for our life, it never serves only ourselves. Vocation is a word that gets at this idea. … Vocation isn’t merely about what job we have but about who God has created us to be in this world. Vocation conveys the notion that God has designs on us and has placed us within this world to work for its flourishing in concert with our own. In writing about vocation, Frederick Buechner says, “The place God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.”

BLESSING
Where the hunger of the world beyond you
meets the hunger of the world within you:
may you find yourself in this place.

Ephesians 1:17-19 NRSV
I pray that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you a spirit of wisdom and revelation as you come to know him, so that, with the eyes of your heart enlightened, you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance among the saints, and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power for us who believe, according to the working of his great power.

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For an excellent article by Steve Harper on the four dimensions of a vision, click here

For a summary of how a vision becomes manifest in the world as explained in the book Visionary Leadership by Burt Nanos, click here

For more information on the scripture translation, art and the use of this post in other settings, please refer to the copyright information page.

Pentecost: Power to Witness

Please notify me if you know the artist of this work so he/she may receive proper credit.

Acts 1:8 (NRSV)
Jesus said, “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”

We are witnesses. Witnessing is not just something we do; it is something we are. We don’t go to witness, we witness as we go. With every breath we take, with every word we utter, with every action we make, we are witnessing. It’s been said that when Stanley discovered Livingstone in Central Africa and had spent some time with him, he said, “If I had been with him any longer I would have been compelled to be a Christian and he never spoke to me about it at all.” The witness of his life, his being, was irresistible. – William Richard Ezell, God’s Redemptive Plan

Acts 2:4 NRSV
[On the day of Pentecost] All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages, as the Spirit gave them ability.

In the midst of a generation screaming for answers, Christians are stuttering.
– Howard Hendricks

The Christian’s life in all its aspects – intellectual and ethical, devotional and relational, up-surging in worship and outgoing in witness – is supernatural; only the Spirit can initiate and sustain it. So apart from him, not only will there be no lively believers and no lively congregations, there will be no believers and no congregations at all. – J. I. Packer

Acts 4:29-31 (NRSV)
“Lord, look at their threats, and grant to your servants to speak your word with all boldness, while you stretch out your hand to heal, and signs and wonders are performed through the name of your holy servant Jesus.” When they had prayed, the place in which they were gathered together was shaken; and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God with boldness.

When I live by my own power and strength, relying solely on my natural talents to see me through, then people naturally praise me for how I am living. But when I am living in a way that requires me to depend on the Holy Spirit, people respond by praising my Father in heaven.
– Francis Chan, Forgotten God: Reversing Our Tragic Neglect of the Holy Spirit

This Spirit is not some magical, mysteriously supernatural aura of a dynamistic kind, not a magical being of an animistic kind, but God himself in his especially personal and self-giving aspect: as a power which creates life. The Spirit is God himself, a merciful power establishing his reign over man’s heart, over the whole of man, inwardly present to man and apparent in his workings to man’s human spirit. – Hans Kung, The Church

After the wait, with the power of the Father, the church is unleashed into the world with incredible energy and authority. It is unrestrained by the authorities it encounters; it is unimpeded even by imprisonment. Its impact is “to turn the world upside down” (Acts 17:6). I do not know about you; this prospect and possibility seem remote from the church as I know it . . . except, it is the work of the Spirit! When the church waits and receives, it is emboldened in way that transforms.
Walter Brueggemann, Blogging Toward Sunday

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Click here for the Rev. Dr. Steve Harper’s important insights on the meaning of “Jersusalem, Judea, Samaria and the ends of the Earth,” the locations of our witnessing.

For more information on use of the scripture, art and this post in other settings, please refer to the copyright information page.

Fervent Prayer

Image by Karen Holland

Have you ever thought to yourself, “I’m praying to the exact same God Elijah prayed to”? Do you genuinely believe that Moses, Esther, David, and Daniel had no advantage over you spiritually? In fact, some would argue that you have the advantage of both the risen Christ and the indwelling Spirit. Let’s stop looking at the godly men and women in Scripture as though their prayer lives are unattainable! Pray fervently, knowing that Peter and Paul and Mary and Ruth were men and women “with a nature like ours” (James 5:17).
– Francis Chan, Forgotten God: Reversing Our Tragic Neglect of the Holy Spirit

Our prayers lay the track on which God’s power can come.
Like a mighty locomotive, His power is irresistible,
but it cannot reach us without rails.
– Watchman Nee

Is prayer a steering wheel or your spare tire?
– Corrie Ten Boon

Psalm 105:1-4 NRSV
O give thanks to the Lord, call on His name,
Make known His deeds among the peoples.
Sing to Him, sing praises to Him;
Tell of all His wonderful works.
Glory in His holy name; let the hearts of those who seek the Lord rejoice.
Seek the Lord and His strength; seek His presence continually.

If God be near a church, it must pray. And if he be not there, one of the first tokens of his absence will be a slothfulness in prayer. – Charles Haddon Spurgeon

Prayer ought to enter into the spiritual habits, but it ceases to be prayer when it is carried on by habit only…. Desire gives fervor to prayer. The soul cannot be listless when some great desire fixes and inflames it…. Strong desires make strong prayers.
– E. M. Bounds

There is no hope but in prayer. Herein lies the Church’s power against the world.
– Andrew Bonar

1 Thessalonians 5:16-19 (NRSV)
Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances;
for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. Do not quench the Spirit.

Prayer cannot truly be taught by principles and seminars and symposiums. It has to be born out of a whole environment of felt need. If I say, “I ought to pray, ” I will soon run out of motivation and quit; the flesh is too strong. I have to be driven to pray. Yes, the roughness of inner-city life has pressed us to pray…. But is the rest of the country coasting along in fine shape. I think not. – Jim Cymbala, Fresh Wind, Fresh Fire

The more we pray, the more we sense our need to pray. And the more we sense a need to pray, the more we want to pray. – Jim Cymbala, Fresh Wind, Fresh Fire

Help me Lord, hear my cry
Lead me to the Rock that is higher than I
You are my hiding place, my impenetrable shield
My heart expectantly trusts and waits
Sheltered beneath Your wings
Filled with joy unspeakable
I am helped
My thankful heart sings.
– Karen Holland, Lead Me to the Rock

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For more of Karen Holland’s powerful prayer and artistic ministry, click here

For more information on the scripture translation, art and the use of this post in other settings, please refer to the copyright information page.

Book Shelf: Forgotten God


Forgotten God:
Reversing Our Tragic Neglect of the Holy Spirit

Francis Chan (Author)
Published by David C. Cook
New edition (September 1, 2009)

My review: 5 out of 5 stars
In Forgotten God, Francis Chan discusses the mystery and importance of the Holy Spirit from a place of great reverence and humility. His servant heart brings forth a book full of approachable stories and illustrations, yet crystal clear in Biblical truth and classic Christian theology. His engaging style invites you into a conversation. You leave challenged but not condemned. Great for persons at all points in their journey of faith.

From the publisher:
A follow up to the profound message of Crazy Love, Pastor Francis Chan offers a compelling invitation to understand, embrace, and follow the Holy Spirit’s direction in our lives.

In the name of the Father, the Son, and … the Holy Spirit. We pray in the name of all three, but how often do we live with an awareness of only the first two? As Jesus ascended into heaven, He promised to send the Holy Spirit—the Helper—so that we could be true and living witnesses for Christ. Unfortunately, today’s church has admired the gift but neglected to open it.

Breakthrough author Francis Chan rips away paper and bows to get at the true source of the church’s power—the Holy Spirit. Chan contends that we’ve ignored the Spirit for far too long, and we are reaping the disastrous results. Thorough scriptural support and compelling narrative form Chan’s invitation to stop and remember the One we’ve forgotten, the Spirit of the living God.

Whisper Day 22: Just Say the Word

Centurion by Jason R. Dunn

The Power of a Whisper Reading Plan
Day 22 Reading:

Matthew 8:5-13; Isaiah 58:6-12

Day 21 of the Whisper Reading Plan is set aside for worship and rest.

Pastor Lisa’s Journal
Scripture
The centurion replied to Jesus, “Lord, I do not deserve to have you come under my roof. But just say the word, and my servant will be healed. – Matthew 8:8 (NIV)

Observation
Jesus raises up the unnamed Centurion as an example of great faith. In one translation, it says Jesus “marveled” at the centurion’s response, a reaction that is found nowhere else in Scripture regarding Jesus’ impression of a human being’s faith. This man had massive faith. Unwavering faith. The huge surprise of this story is that this faith is found outside the expected place- in a Gentile warrior for the Roman oppressors.

The Centurion has been awarded worldly power and position, yet approaches Jesus with great humility. He recognizes his position with the governing authorities does not name his position with the ultimate Authority, God.
I do not deserve to have you come under my roof (v. 8.)
I am a man under authority (v. 9)

Jesus taught his followers to love their enemies, to pray for those who persecute them, and to do good to those who mistreated them. The kingdom of God advances not with weapons, but with kindness, grace and mercy. He did not hesitate to hear the Centurion’s plea and was willing to enter his house.

Likewise, the Centurion is willing to cross enemy lines- social, economic, and racial lines- to see his servant receives help. The Centurion commands his troops and household, yet approaches Jesus with a servant heart. He seeks Jesus not for himself, but for his servant. The Centurion recognizes the value and humanity of this person even though his culture does not.
My servant lies at home paralyzed and in terrible suffering (v. 6)
I tell this one, ‘Go,’ and he goes; and that one, ‘Come,’ and he comes. I say to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.” (v. 9)

The Centurion has been raised to mistrust foreigners and foreign gods, yet approaches Jesus with great trust.
But just say the word, and my servant will be healed. (v. 8.)

Application
Even with all the stumbling blocks placed before him, the Centurion still cultivates a just-say-the-word faith in Jesus. This depth and maturity of faith is available to all who follow Christ. I have no excuse except myself for falling short of this.

Every time I read the account of the centurion’s faith, I am nearly physically arrested by the desire to follow Christ like that. I want his influence to affect the entirety of my life—my values, my relationships, my vocabulary, my finances, my agenda, my physical health, my decision making, my political ideology. I want Jesus’ ways to permeate who I am across the board. More than any other desire of my heart, I want to be a just-say-the-word type of disciple, from this moment until my dying day. – Bill Hybels, The Power of a Whisper

Prayer
Just say the word, my Jesus
Just say the word
No illness is beyond your healing
No brokenness beyond your redeeming
No power above you
No person outside your embrace
Grant me a faith that is worthy of Your goodness
Your compassion
Your supremacy
Your welcome
That I may trust and respond as my brother the Centurion
Just say the word, my Jesus
Just say the word

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Click here for a powerful prayer entitled I am Not Worthy by Steve Garnaas Holmes based on Luke’s version of this story, Luke 7:1-10.

For more information on the Power of a Whisper campaign or for a copy of this reading plan, click here

As you read, you are encouraged to use the SOAP Method for keeping a spiritual journal, as taught at New Hope Christian Fellowship in Hawaii. For more information on this simple and powerful way of engaging the Word of God, please click here or use the simple instructions provided in the reading plan itself.

I look forward to reading your comments and to all that Jesus will do in you and through you as you learn to better listen and respond to God’s whispers in your life. – Lisa <><

PS- For more information on the scripture translation, art and the use of this devotional in other settings, please refer to the copyright information page.

Pour Forth

anointing-jesus-stained-glass1Pour Forth
by Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia

There… beyond the feasting circle
A woman
Who are you? What is your story?
No name, no voice
Yet coming close with your gifts

Some are easy to see
An alabaster jar
full of exotic perfume
Boldly broken,
And you pour forth more gifts
Out pours your heart
Your adoration
Your gratitude
Your passion
Your sacrifice
The air is thick with your story
It oozes down your Beloved’s beard, pooling on his callused hands

The shattering brings the circle silent
The aroma, meant for all to enjoy
Instead draws an angry answer
They will not bear your story

Cutting remarks fly at you through the fragrant veil
Indignant daggers thrust into your offering
How dare you! Who do you think you are?
Too generous
Too extravagant
Too intimate
We have a better way
Such a waste… code for waste her
Shatter her spirit
Quick, to the stones
A broken body is the cure

Stop! Leave her alone declares the Anointed One!
Misspent? Misused?
No! You misunderstand!
You miss the mark!
She did what she could- all that she could
Balming my body for burial

You have loved Me
Censing my sacrifice
Grace made fragrant
An act beyond words
A silent song for the ages

Pour forth

It is blessing. It is beautiful.
You are blessing. You are beautiful.

Soak it in

You there, religious ones
You berate, rebuke and bombard
While she… she breaks open
She breaks through bearing the Good News

Your words will fall forgotten
Her story will stand… remembered

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I am indebted to my friends Jan Richardson and Garrison Doles for their inspiration and encouragement. Their offerings at a retreat on the anointing of Jesus from Mark 14:1-11 broke open this poem for me. I encourage you to learn more about their powerful and faithful ministries. – Lisa <><

© 2011 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
You are welcome to use this poem in a worship setting with proper attribution.
Leave a comment for more information and permission to publish this work in any form.

Be sure to also check out the devotion Anointing, by Steve Garnaas Holmes

Click here for a devotion on a similar passage, John 12:1-19