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.”

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.

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.

Quotes: Biblical Leadership

leadership quote - JQ Adams1 Peter 5:2-4 NIV
Be shepherds of God’s flock that is under your care, serving as overseers–not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not greedy for money, but eager to serve; not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock. And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that will never fade away.

Excerpt from I will raise up Shepherds, by Steve Garnaas Holmes
Jesus shows us: the shepherds won’t be kings.
They will be the humble but courageous
who speak and act for justice and mercy,
who receive power not by coronation
but by the anointing of the Spirit.
We won’t look to the powers to save us.
We will look to one another to tend us.

And God will give might to their compassion,
and fill their shepherding with power.
God will dwell within their struggle for justice,
and speak in their voices.
God will raise up shepherds who set free the oppressed
and bind up the brokenhearted—
in their wounds and to each other—
who resist those who destroy and scatter,
who tend to those who are fearful or dismayed or missing.
God will anoint them and raise them up
and they will be the shepherds who heal the people,
and justice and mercy will rule.

The prophet’s cry is not a promise of comfort.
This is a call to action. (Jeremiah 23:1-4)

We like to declare that the Gospel is counter-cultural, and thereby God-given and transformative.  Should we not draw the same conclusion about ministry that is rooted in the Gospel? Isn’t our ministry supposed to be counter-cultural. too?  And the most powerful way we do this is by adopting the biblical model of ministry–of being shepherds. The Bible’s use of this metaphor (in both Old and New Testaments) was a way of overturning the “CEO” model of religious leadership that defined and dominated Jewish priesthood.  It made ministry relational, not regulatory–incarnational not institutional.  Ministers were to be servants, not masters.  Holiness was the watch-word, not hierarchy.  People mattered more than position and power. Our need for counter-cultural ministry is as great as ever.  The world experiences CEO’s all the time.  But what they are longing for is pastors–people who will show up in their valleys with rods and staffs, ready to help them make it home. – Steve Harper, Counter Culture Ministry

There is such an enormous hunger for meaning in life, for comfort and consolation, for forgiveness and reconciliation, for restoration and healing, that anyone who has any authority in the Church should constantly be reminded that the best word to characterize religious authority is compassion. Let’s keep looking at Jesus whose authority was expressed in compassion. – Henri Nouwen

Listen Friends, what I want to tell you is this. The world needs you to start leading again. To step out of the shadows and into your strength, your skills, your compassionate heart, your crazy ideas. But you don’t have to be THE ONE in charge. And you don’t have to go it alone. Let’s share our strength. Let’s make room on the stage for the voices that have a whisper in a crowd. (They want to roar, and we need to hear them.) Let us – well and truly – LEAD.
– Rachelle Mee-Chapman, Tithe Your Power 

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

Matthew 20:25-28 NRSV
But Jesus called them to him and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones are tyrants over them. It will not be so among you; but whoever wishes to be great among you must be your servant, and whoever wishes to be first among you must be your slave; just as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life a ransom for many.”

Spiritual leaders fear being judged in this one way—as either a success or a failure based solely upon numbers. If we live in this fear, we can never allow ourselves to listen to God. This is the pivotal choice every spiritual leader must make: serve God or serve our fear. If we serve our fear, we will be enslaved to the ways of the world and the egos of those around us who seek to control our lives. If we serve God, we will fearlessly be able to see and discern how God is working for life and growth in every situation, large and small. – Daniel Wolpert, Leading a Life with God

I think being able to apologize for my mistakes and not ever seeing that as a threat to my authority is critical…but that is different than apologizing for who I am.  Everyone does this but I hear women do it all the time. It’s not helpful. I think trying to pretend to be someone that you are not does nothing but water down your power.  Because in a way, we are most powerful when we are simply who God made us where God put us. Maybe this and only this is where our authority rests. No need to defend it or protect it or apologize for it. Just rock it, brothers and sisters.
-Nadia Bolz-Weber, The Authority of Apology

When I stand at the Judgment Seat of Christ, he is not going to ask me if I was a clever orator. He is not going to ask me how many books I wrote. He is only going to ask whether I continued in the line of men and women, starting way back in the time of Adam’s grandchildren, who led others to call upon God.
– Jim Cymbala, Fresh Wind, Fresh Fire

Click here for an interesting discussion of authority, spiritual disciplines, and the Great Commission entitled Making Disciples in a Postmodern World by Bishop Ken Carter.

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

Prayer: Raise Us Up (1 Corinthians 9.26)

1 Corinthians 9:26 CEB
This is how I run- not without a clear goal in sight.
I fight like a boxer in the ring, not like someone who is shadowboxing.

We grow weary in doing good
In doing “church”
Endless tasks grind us down
Weighty needs bury us blow by blow

Holy Spirit
Raise us up from the long count
Raise us up again and again and again
Arouse us
Focus us
Strengthen us
Your calling clearly in our sight
in our hearts
in our hands

Press us on to the prize
Your glory
Your kingdom come
For you are the One, True, Living God
Now and forever

Prayer: Raise Us Up © 2018 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia.
You are welcome to use this work in a worship setting with proper attribution.
Please leave a comment for information on publishing this work in any form.


Prayer Vigil: Preparing for Visioning

Before his ascension, Jesus instructs the disciples to go back to Jerusalem and pray for the coming of the Holy Spirit. (Acts 1) The disciples prayed for nine days and on the tenth day received the Spirit’s empowerment, boldness and wisdom for the next chapter in God’s mighty acts of salvation. (Acts 2) Down through the ages, Christians have followed this same pattern of intense prayer and preparation before entering their next chapter with God.

Below you will find a prayer and scripture schedule for the nine days leading up to a decision making meeting or retreat. This prayer vigil was originally designed for congregations entering into a time of visioning, but can be used at other times as well.  Whatever your need, I pray it is useful to you as you seek God with the others in your congregation.

May the Kingdom come in us and through us, as it is in heaven! – Lisa <><

Day 1
Scripture: Matthew 5:6
Include in your prayers:
• Revival of God’s people hungering and thirsting for God
• Those who are hungering for God but have not found a church home
• That all will be filled with the Holy Spirit

Day 2
Scripture: Matthew 16:13-19
Include in your prayers:
• That we would trust Christ to build the church and not try to do it in our own strength

Day 3
Scripture: Acts 2:36-47
Include in your prayers:
• That thousands would follow Jesus in life transforming ways
• That God’s church would be effective and faithful

Day 4
Scripture: Ecclesiastes 3:1-8
Include in your prayers:
• What is God calling us to do and what is God calling us to stop doing?

Day 5
Scripture: Colossians 1:9-12
Include in your prayers:
• That we would lead lives worthy of the Lord and pleasing to the Lord
• That we would be made strong in the Lord so we might persevere in faith and good works
• That we would be a thankful people

Day 6
Scripture: Psalm 92:12-15
Include in your prayers:
• That God’s people of every age would flourish and be fruitful

Day 7
Scripture: Acts 1:8; Matthew 28:19-20
Include in your prayers:
• Where is God calling us to go?
• Who is God calling us to serve?

Day 8
Scripture: Ephesians 4:1-16
Include in your prayers:
• The unity and maturity of God’s people
• That people would know and serve out of their spiritual gifts

Day 9
Scripture: Proverbs 3:1-8
Include in your prayers:
• That we would hear and follow God’s leading
• Those who will be leading the meeting

Day 10
Day of the Meeting or Retreat


© 2011 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
You are welcome to use this work in your setting with proper attribution. Please contact Lisa for information and permission to publish this compilation in any form. For more information on the art used in this work, please refer to the copyright information page.

John Day 20: The Death of Lazarus

John 11:5 from The Brick Testament, The Bible in Legos

Gospel of John Reading Plan
Day 22 Reading:
John 11:1-16

Bringing the Word to Life
In complete darkness, try to walk through your house or do some household chores. Turn on a light to appreciate the power and glory of Christ’s light in our lives.

Pastor Lisa’s Journal
Although Jesus loved Martha, Mary, and Lazarus, he stayed where he was for the next two days and did not go to them. – John 11:5-6 (NLT)

Jesus receives word that his beloved friend Lazarus is gravely ill. He delays going to heal him and Lazarus dies. Jesus does not delay because it is dangerous to return to Bethany. He delays because God has another plan.

After all these years, I am still learning to trust that God is always good and always true, to have confidence in God. Confidence comes from the words con-fide meaning with trust. What would my life look like if lived with confidence in God; in times when I understand and when I do not, when the answer comes quickly and when the answer seems delayed, when the reply is what I expect and when it is a surprise.

My prayer came out as a poem today…
There are times when I feel in perfect rhythm with you
Other times I feel out of step
Confused and unnerved like a child on her first day of class

You offer me your hand again, that I may follow your lead
I want to fly in your arms, trusting you are always there to catch me
but I hold back
I have been dropped before by other partners

You understand
You are a patient teacher

You train me in the discipline of your ways
I become flexible and strong
Quicker to respond to your touch
You show me step after step
I begin to understand your timing
I want to trust it, even when you are beyond my sight
You move again and again and again in my life
My confidence in you grows
I take the leap of faith

For quotes on the theme When God Delays, click here

For a worship liturgy entitled Lord of the Dance (based on today’s prayer/poem), click here

For more information on the Gospel of John Reading Plan, click here

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

Devotion: Let Me Remember

Remembering by Reginald K. Gee

Psalm 102:11-12
My days are like an evening shadow;
I wither away like grass.
But you, O Lord, are enthroned forever;
your name endures to all generations.

Recently, I came across the poem Let me remember by Winston O. Abbott. Four times the poet says, “Let me remember” before getting to what he wants to remember: “that my life is not a solitary thing.”

Abbot echoes the wisdom of John Donne, “No man is an island.” How true. What I do and who I am matters far beyond me. Each of us is interconnected to each other and to the natural world. We’re not just interconnected, we’re interdependent. Our actions, our words, our very being, ripple through countless lives. Yes, life is a series of fleeting moments of the present; yet when tied to others and tied to God, they are the powerful stuff of forever.

The most pathetic person in the world is someone who has sight, but has no vision.– Helen Keller

Time and again, my vision is shrouded to this truth. Shrouded in the mists of my daily doing: deadlines, calls, chores, family. Shrouded in the mists of heartache and longing. Even the most memorable moments can be lost in the mist of busyness, distraction, or trivial escape. It’s time for the mist to lift. It’s time to re-member, time to put the present bits together for the good of the whole.

Let us pray: Lord, take away the mists that keep us from the fullness of relationship and interaction. Lift the congestion and smog. Blow through. Clear the way till we are fully present to you , to nature, and to one another. In the Name of Jesus, the Way, the Truth, and the Light, we pray. Amen.

Let me remember, by Winston O. Abbott
beyond forgetting —
let me remember always
for my spirit is often shrouded in the mists
let me remember beyond forgetting
that my life is not a solitary thing
it is a bit of the rushing tide
a leaf of the bending tree
a kernel of grain the golden wheat fields
a whisper of wind about the mountaintop
a reflection of sunlight upon the shining waters
it is fleeting
it is of the moment
it is timeless
it is of eternity.

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

Christmas 5a: Joseph's Dream

Joseph’s Dream by Laura James

The Story of Christmas
Day 5 Reading:

Matthew 1:18-25

Joseph’s Dream
by Raymond Chapman

The shock, the sorrow,
the surge of anger,
the desire to hurt the loved one who seemed faithless-
did the black rage shake him when it was first made known?

But love prevailed,
stronger than resentment;
there would be no scandal, no shaming, only a quiet ending
before the long years of loneliness after a hope that had failed.

Unquiet sleep, broken dreams,
came after a day of bitter decisions;
then a new vision, prompting, comforting, challenging-
something unheard, undreamed by any dreamer;
even Joseph of Egypt was never so highly favored.

There was no turning back on the command of God
though the calling baffled sense, defied language,
found no answer in the familiar, loved religion.

Only a love too faithful for consummation
could make ready for a holy birth.

In Nazareth gossips whispered, sniggered, pointed:
a dusty road lay open towards Bethlehem.


Your vision will only become clear when you look inside your heart…
Who looks outside dreams; who looks inside, awakes. -Carl Jung

Joseph changes direction overnight in a dark conversion…
Joseph is awakened by his dream.
– Suzanne Guthrie, At the Edge of the Enclosure Blog

Joel 2:28-29 and Acts 2:17-18
And afterward, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your old men will dream dreams, your young men will see visions. Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days.

For information on The Story of Christmas Reading Plan, click here

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please refer to the copyright information page.