A view from the good seats (at the feet of Jesus – Matthew 18).
vi·sion noun \ˈvi-zhən\
Definition of VISION
“Be of one mind, united in thought and purpose (vision).” 1 Corinthians 1:10
A vision seeks to keep us as a people united in our thoughts and purpose regardless of the organization, church, business, family, or friendship. Why even have a vision?
“Where there is no vision, the people are unrestrained, But happy is he who keeps the law.” Proverbs 29:18
Without vision people go crazy. However, with vision people are able to function properly because they know what to do, have higher morale and enjoy organization better when they know what is going on
“Take courage, for it is your duty to tell us how to proceed in setting things straight, and we will cooperate fully.” Ezra 10:4
When the world knows what we are doing, people will want to join in.
Our church has a vision, “To make Christ known near and far”. We are seeing frustrations decrease and cooperation come in massive numbers. People are living to “make Christ known near an far” because they are going in one direction. Our vision gives us the ability to say no so that we don’t do a dozen things well but we do a few things with excellence. We unite ourselves under our vision and our people can easily communicate to others who also want to come aboard. We are concentrated and focused, not distracted. That’s because of vision.
“I am focusing all my energies on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead.” Philippians 3:13
“Let us examine our ways and test them, and let us return to the Lord.” Lamentations 3:40
We must constantly evaluate the purpose of our all of our organizations, churches, business, families, friendships, etc. and trust the leadership casting that vision. If you’re not following a vision, you’re following a rabbit trail. Get vision whatever the cost. Seek out leaders that have clearly defined and measurable purpose (vision). The sooner you get vision, the sooner you get clarity. The sooner you get clarity, the sooner the frustration decreases. The sooner frustration decreases, the sooner cooperation comes.
My roommate in college got cancer, became weak and eventually died. My biological father also got cancer, became weak and eventually died. It’s inevitable. We all have a shelf life. Our body’s become weak and someday, we die. Death is a result of our weakness… our shortcomings… the inability to to fight off “the death blow”. Something takes over and causes the body to shut down.
That something, that weakness, is sin. Sin is shortcoming. Sin is a weakness we all have. Think about it. Weakness is a state of being utterly helpless, without power or strength. That’s death. When you die you are utterly helpless, without any power or strength.
In the book of Genesis (an account on how the world came to be), Adam and Eve choose to sin in the garden. Because of their sin, the consequences to breaking God’s laws were that they would eventually become sick (weak) with the disease of sin and die. They choose it by disobeying God’s security. Not only did they choose it, it was passed down from generation to generation to all their offspring (you and I).
Adam and Eve choose to sin, therefore… we all die (“As in Adam, all die…” 1 Corinthians 15:22).
In our weak condition (our sin) we are helpless because we have no one who will come to our rescue. Maybe in life we have the consequence of sin which is death. But wait… what if there is a cure for death. Don’t get me wrong, you still have to go through dying. However, what if there is a cure once death has been “diagnosed”? What if you have to take the medicine before the diagnosis?
The Apostle Paul says that God (the creator) gave His Son (Jesus) who we have a choose to believe in (trust – the remedy for death) to overcome the weakness which is our sin. In that belief, the antidote for the diagnosis that we know is coming, Jesus gives a gift (counselor and guide) on how to live, how overcoming the weakness that causes death and live in such a way that will prepare us to spend an eternity with Him.
Loving this God for His gift of life after death gives us power over weakness that will come. We need not fear when the diagnosis comes because we know that we are already trusting in the remedy – Jesus Christ death and resurrection on the cross.
Are you feeling weak? Let me encourage you with what Jesus offers those who will call upon His name…
“At the right time Christ died for the ungodly… rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though perhaps for a good person someone might actually dare to die.” Romans 5:7
Few people might possibly be willing to die to save the lives of the weak… Jesus went beyond that, Jesus died in the place of the weak, for the ungodly, while we were in our sin and weakness and for His enemies. What kind of God does that? Name one other God that does that for His followers?
“But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8
Where you are weak, God makes you strong through the power of Jesus remedy for those diagnosed with death. Will you take the cure in an act of faith and rely on it’ power to daily guide you in the ways you need to go?
Vault is a conference on how to do church … for people who don’t like church. There are many books and conferences on how to grow a “successful” church, but unfortunately they’re not focused on how to reach the unconvinced and cynical. Read more about Vault here.
Vince Antonucci became a Christian out of a completely non-Christian background and ever since his passion has been reaching the “lostest of the lost.” He was the founding Pastor of Forefront Church in Virginia Beach, Virginia, a church where 72% of the people who attend were previously unchurched non-Christians. Vince recently moved to Las Vegas where he started a new church, Verve, in the heart of Sin City, just off the Vegas Strip. Vince is the author of I Became a Christian and All I Got Was This Lousy T-Shirt (2008), Guerrilla Lovers (2010), and Renegade (2013).
Session 1: The Call to Reach God’s Lost Children
Session 2: Programming Church Services for People Who Don’t Like Church
Session 3: Diving into the Chaos
Session 4: Radical to Radical
Session 5: Questions and Answers
Session 6: No Splanga, No Glory
An Excerpt from Henri Nouwen on faith: “The Flying Rodleighs are trapeze artists who perform in the German circus Simoneit-Barum. When the circus came to Freiburg two years ago, my friends Franz and Reny invited me and my father to see the show. I will never forget how enraptured I became when I first saw the Rodleighs move through the air, flying and catching as elegant dancers. The next day, I returned to the circus to see them again and introduced myself to them as one of their great fans. They invited me to attend their practice sessions, gave me free tickets, asked me to dinner, and suggested I travel with them for a week in the near future. I did, and we became good friends.
“One day, I was sitting with Rodleigh, the leader of the troupe, in his caravan, talking about flying. He said, ‘As a flyer, I must have complete trust in my catcher. The public might think that I am the great star of the trapeze, but the real star is Joe, my catcher. He has to be there for me with split-second precision and grab me out of the air as I come to him in the long jump.’ ‘How does it work?’ I asked. ‘The secret,’ Rodleigh said, ‘is that the flyer does nothing and the catcher does everything. When I fly to Joe, I have simply to stretch out my arms and hands and wait for him to catch me and pull me safely over the apron behind the catchbar.’
” ‘You do nothing!’ I said, surprised. ‘Nothing,’ Rodleigh repeated. ‘The worst thing the flyer can do is to try to catch the catcher. I am not supposed to catch Joe. It’s Joe’s task to catch me. If I grabbed Joe’s wrists, I might break them, or he might break mine, and that would be the end for both of us. A flyer must fly, and a catcher must catch, and the flyer must trust, with outstretched arms, that his catcher will be there for him.’
“When Rodleigh said this with so much conviction, the words of Jesus flashed through my mind: ‘Father into your hands I commend my Spirit.’ Dying is trusting in the catcher. To care for the dying is to say, ‘Don’t be afraid. Remember that you are the beloved child of God. He will be there when you make your long jump. Don’t try to grab him; he will grab you. Just stretch out your arms and hands and trust, trust, trust.’ “
Great day drinking from a fire hydrant.
My daughter likes to repeat herself. She says the same thing over and over again until she gets our attention. Her most recent appeal has been to push her on the swings. Being that she is so young, she’s unable to swing by herself and therefore needs assistance. She wants a “big push” to gain the proper moment to feel the maximum wind flow through her hair. She will literally sit in the swing yelling, “Daddy, come push me!”
The other day I tried to pass off the responsibility by calling my wife over to give her some momentum. As she neared towards the swing, without reservation, my daughter pushed her away and said with great demand, “No! Daddy has to push me!”
Unsure why she wanted me to push her and not my wife was a foreign concept. Therefore, without hesitation I walked over, secured her in the swing, pulled it back as far as it would go, and then let it rip. She shouted with excitement over the exhilaration. My wife looked at me without pausing,
“You push her a lot harder than I do!”
So it is with Jesus. How many times have we sat longing for God to come give us a push? To do something great in our lives that no one else can do. We may of had others push the swing at times but for some odd reason they always came up short, leaving us sitting still begging for our father to come to the job the right way.
I’ll never forget the first time our daughter went to the top. She was nervous how high we were climbing. Fear coursed through her fingers as she clutched the swings chains tighter. We often want the thrill of flying but forget about overcoming the fear to get going or the trust it takes in the one pushing the swing.
What we must cling to is that when we call upon the Lord in faith, He will not only come to our aid, but He will also help us get over the fear of getting to the top. Even better, if we call out to Him and trust Him, He give us the greatest encounter we could of ever experience. He will “never leave us or forsake us” (Hebrews 13:5) as He is the momentum that keeps us going for eternity.
Where are you?
The best is yet to come!
A friend of mine asked me a month back to let him propose at church. We sat down over dumbbells to plan the scenario. With little interference from his soon to be bride we were ready for action. Yesterday he popped the question using great form and perfect timing. Not only did she say “yes”, he got a standing ovation.
Standing ovations are awesome.
The standing “O” makes you feel like you’re doing the right thing. While a human audience’s applause only last a moment, God’s glorious applause for His people lasts an eternity.
As my friend asked his soon to be bride for her hand, the congregation saw an outward action of an internal change. God was on “His feet” because he is in the process of learning what Scripture teaches, living it out realistically, and giving the credit back to God.
Many times we will try and live out what we think we know is best and then go back after a downfall to learn what God’s work teaches on the subject. To make matters worse, if we did consult the scriptures, we will often give ourselves the credit! Double fault! Living out what we think is best and giving credit to ourselves for victories limits God’s favor and silence His applause.
In short, we must learn to give credit where credits due.
As John said, “He must become greater; I must become less.” (John 3:30) That means I learn the truths in the Bible, I live it them out and I give credit to the Lord. In order to truly believe that God will step to help us, His people who believe in Him through faith by the blood of Jesus on the cross, remember that our outward actions are symbolic of what is going on inside, and when we are overcome for Christ, we give God the glory He rightly deserves.
This is how you mature in a relationship with your creator.
Have you ever received a standing ovation? Would you like to get one everyday? Learn God’s Word, live it out and give credit to him for letting you have access to His glorious plan. After all, a heavenly ovation trumps human applause any day of the week!
This is not the kind of phrase you put on your business card. BUT have you ever said it? Probably not in a getting-ready-in-the-morning, getting-pumped-up-for-the-day kind of way- “Hey! I don’t trust God!” More like in that moment of self-awareness of disappointment that says, “I’m sorry God… I’ve fallen short, and I have to admit that the real reason is, as ugly as it sounds- You are my God… and I don’t trust You”…
These are the moments when you are keenly aware that you still have a lot of growing yet to do. I sure do. I’m here representing all of us that struggle with this.
For whatever reason- experience, birth order, whatever- my MO has always been to try to minimize the margin for error. Here’s the plan, now let’s think through what could go wrong and try to buffer those areas. Everything is a 2-sided coin. So when I take that same attitude into ministry circles, sometimes it’s helpful, but I think that may be the one thing, at the end of my ministry, that I look back on with the most disappointment…
Cause I’ve seen a lot… But there are things I’ve never seen. Because I didn’t go all the way to that place where only God could do it. Because I wanted to make sure it was going to be okay. So I took that prompting from the Holy Spirit, that gut feeling that God wanted something risky and uncomfortable and new and uncharted and I try to do the safe and dependable version of it… And God doesn’t call that “minimizing the margin for error”- He calls it disobedience. And the shame of it is that I will never know what might have been if… What if God’s plans were bigger?
I see myself in many of the stories of Scripture. Here’s a particularly scary one for me.
Moses has been doing very well. Better than I (or any of you) will ever do. This guy is no slacker. There’s a reason God picked Moses. Obeyed God to the “t”, got the Israelites out of Egypt, now leading them through the desert and putting up with their crap for what would be 40 years. You think your church is tough on you? Exodus 17- the people are giving Moses all kinds of grief, blaming him and complaining and making him want to die, “there’s no water” and God says, “Take your staff and strike the rock”. Moses strikes the rock and water comes out. It worked!!! Problem solved. Awesome.
Numbers 20 – again, the people are giving Moses all kinds of crap, blaming him and complaining. God says “Take your staff and SPEAK to the rock”.
Moses gets up in front of all the people, he calls them rebellious and then he strikes the rock two times, and water gushes out and people drink and are satisfied.
Moses comes back into the tent of meeting later on. “That was awesome God! Did you see me, I was like- “you’re a bunch of rebels! What do I have to do, make water come from a ROCK!” Boom! Everyone is drinking now, God, you’re the best!”
God says, “Moses, you blew it.
Because you did not trust me enough to honor my holiness in the sight of the Israelites, you will not enter the land.
There’s an argument that’s been made to say that Moses hit the rock because he was so mad at the people, not because he was being disobedient. Just a quick look at God’s response makes me believe otherwise.
He says, “You did not trust me.”
That just implies to me that somewhere in Moses’ mind it just not seem feasible that speaking to the rock was going to work, but what worked before was striking the rock, so he chose what worked before OVER what God said to do this time.
THIS IS ME! Moses was thinking the same thing I have thought so many times!
How many times in my gut have I sensed that God is wanting to do something new, something outside of my comfort zone, outside of my experience, and I start asking the “what if’s”…
Moses thinks, God, if I get up there in front of all those people and speak to the rock, and nothing happens…
So he did what worked before. And you know what? He got the water! Success!
This is what rings true with my own experience- even when I have cheapened what I believed God was leading my to do, by making it safer, I have still seen “success”. The worship set went well, the message was well received, the conference went off without a hitch.
But apparently giving the people water was the least of God’s goals for this encounter. Yes, He intended to take care of His people, but it was so much more than that- Because He tells Moses about the goal that was missed. You did not trust me by honoring my holiness. Showing them his awesomeness was what God had in mind, and Moses blew it!
How much more incredible would it have been to see Moses just speak, and water comes gushing out… God wanted to show off here, and Moses stole the show, did it the safe, dependable way, and cheapened the whole thing.
You dishonored my holiness in front of all my people! You did not trust me
Of the things I’d like to hear from God, “you dishonored my holiness in front of all my people” is really, really low on the list. “You did not trust me” is really low on the list.
I could do these things and still see “success”… but God’s goals are so much bigger than that. How many times have I stolen away God’s chance to show off in favor of doing what is safe and dependable?
Oh God, help me to trust you more. I believe… help my unbelief.
Rewiring is not only essential to getting information and power back to the people; it’s vital to us growing in our spiritual walk with the Lord. Internal rewiring is a concept that consists of going back into our memories to see where negative feelings and emotions have caused pain. If we can see where our emotions stem there can be great change in the future. While rewiring can be painful, if we are willing to open ourselves to identify internal pain, the freedom obtained will change the course of the future. Imagine being free… Imagine healing and restoration. It’s possible.
STEP 1: Identification – The first step involves identification of what negative emotion you re actually experiencing. Is it unhealthy anger, pride, resentment, loneliness, guilt? What exactly is the emotion causing the main issues in your life? If you are experiencing anger, then you need to understand the first and foremost you’re angry. When we’re aware of our emotions and willing to accept that these emotions exist, that is exactly where at a place where God can use this the most.
NOTE: Sometimes we can identify negative emotions and sometimes it takes the voice of another. Identification also means that we are honest with ourselves when these emotions are presented. This means that identification could come from our own knowledge or a result from hearing the same thing from various people in different situations and circumstances.
STEP 2: The Rewire – Once the emotion is acknowledged, we can now retrace or rewire back to where these emotions stemmed. This involves starting at the most recent event or occurrence the emotion occurred and then tracing back days, weeks, months, and even years to how long this emotion has been prevalent.
NOTE: Understand that this is the most effective when these timelines are written down in a tangible format (think journal, piece of paper, etc.). To actually be able to visually see an emotion and how it has taken root in the soul is what ultimately helps us become free.
STEP 3: Trigger – To deal with an emotion and properly run another “clean” wire means that we will look openly and honestly at what exactly triggers these emotions and terminate them immediately.
NOTE: Understand that some emotions can be tied to people, some emotions can be tied to places, and some emotions can be tied to things. When one identifies these people, places, or things that cause these emotional triggers they then can see what needs to be released from their life.
STEP 4: Terminate – The last of the rewiring is extremely challenging, involving a radical amputation of whatever has caused these specific emotions. In situations that are extreme one may need to move from house, eliminate a relationship (not spouses), or throw out/give away material items such as computers, cars, possessions, etc. We see this a lot with people who smoke cigarettes, as they are encouraged to get rid of their vehicle if they have smoked in that specific automobile. Again, one must understand that this takes either great personal dedication or enlisting the help of someone else.
It’s possible to rewire but understand it takes time, patients, an open mind, and lot of help. You were not born to live with negative emotions from scars in the past. That’s what Christ restores to the broken when they identify, rewire, trigger and terminate what is causing unrest. Allow people to hold you accountable and seek the opportunity to do the hard things to make big change.
You can do it. There is no better time than now.
The first time I remember my father getting angry happened on a snow-covered day in the heart of Pennsylvania. The family had gathered for some collective holiday conversation around the table one evening after dinner while the kids played in their defined space. Everyone was in good spirits until my adolescent immaturity kicked in. I didn’t get what I desired from my cousins in a childhood game so I went on a rampage. Pushing the envelope in a negative direction there was verbal commands given on how to solve the conflict from our parents as the fight raged on. After the parental guidance was ignored, the next memory consists of the word “shut up” protruding from my mouth in the direction of my father.
The world stopped turning for a moment while everything went into slow motion. Nobody said a word. The man who looked like my father had become a raging bull charging my path. There was a brief moment that escape seemed possible but before the plan could be unfolded, my little body was in the air over his broad shoulders. Arms and legs were fairing as personal decrees of injustice echoed from my cracking voice. Before another punch or kick could be delivered, my feet hit the snow while the front door closed in my face.
I was outside… alone… in my pajamas… in the snow… with no shoes on.
My head raised in disbelief as I saw my father staring at me in displeased with my hurtful vocabulary. I banged on the door in rage screaming at the top of my lungs for revenge. My father waited for a moment, directed his eyes, and then looked into my soul while booming, “You can come back inside when you calm down.”
There is righteous anger and adolescent sinful anger. It is painfully obvious my anger was sinful while my father’s was righteous. His authority over my life dictated a response to my improper behavior.
We all get angry. It’s a part of life and a part of leadership. The question is, are we righteous in our anger or living in our sinful state of rebellion? The one thing that sets leaders apart from rebels is leaders seek righteous anger to find resolutions to improper behavior while children bang on doors begging to get in out of the cold.
You can come inside when you calm down.
What’s the last time you experienced anger in your life? Was it caused from not obtaining something personally or was it from an injustice that had a solution? It’s no fun to wake up in the cold snow realizing we personally placed ourselves that dreadful situation.
Take an evaluation today of the things that make you angry. Righteous anger has solutions if they are evaluated properly while sinful anger demands repentance. If you are focusing on yourself, repent and ask Christ to open the door to come in from the cold. If you are righteously upset, look for a solution and help from other people who are actively seeking solutions to the problem using the proper avenues.
It will set you free.