“Come Away With Me”

Last week, I started to wake up a couple of hours early, but resisted. It wasn’t time to get up and I wanted to get more sleep. In this moment, it seemed to me that my heart was stirred by these words, “Come away with me.” About an hour later, the same thing happened. Same stirring and same reaction. In both cases, I went back to sleep.

Then, two hours after the initial stirring, it was time to get up and I awoke to that same perceived call. I believe God was stirring my heart in that way so I woke up praying and considering, “is that You? If so, what does that mean?”

I opened the Bible and found this passage: “Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he said to them, “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.” (Mark 6:31)

This meant some things to me personally which I continue to process. It also meant some things to me professionally. The ministry I work for (thequestlife.com) was started, in effect, from that phrase. The founder, Richard Henderson, tells the story of God stirring those exact same words within him over 18 years ago. That invitation, met with his “yes,” took him to Riodoso, New Mexico. From that invitation and acceptance, Quest was born on the side of a mountain. Thousands of people from different parts of the world with different stories have encountered Jesus during their Quest experience.

The invitation was given by Jesus to the guys with Him and it’s given to us. Our willingness to simply say, “yes” to his call to put down our business and go away to a quiet place for rest with Him remains. Maybe that’s the true “secret sauce” to Quest or any related “freedom” ministries . . . “yes” to the rest. Yes to the communion. Yes to the meal with Him.

Sounds simple, doesn’t it? I think it is, but it isn’t. In the “yes,” there is an implied “no.” That “no” is where the problem is. Most of us are simply unwilling to say “no” to the busyness. We are either too over-extended, self-important or addicted to the adrenaline that we won’t stop. Our excuses will vary, but they all result in a refusal to take Jesus up on that very simple invitation. Until they don’t, and then our quest can begin.

Want to Change the World?

At our core, we want to live beyond ourselves; leaving a mark that lasts. The applications of that want can be expressed through various forums, including family, finances, beliefs and community. How to accomplish the greatest of possibilities requires the simplest of choices.

It starts with a heart that is able to be wrong. We must be comfortable with our flaws or the strength of our abilities will paralyze multiplication through agreement. In other words, if everyone else is so impressed or intimidated with our perfection, there will be no call for them to agree and multiply. The net result would be a very finite impact. True emotional security produces the humility that accepts it’s own limitations.

That humility is fueled by grace. It is acceptance of invitations into destiny despite us. That invitation is from a Source that has plenty of perfection to give to make up for all of our flaws. When we can accept acceptance, we can see others beyond their flaws in the same manner we get past ours. We aren’t perfect and neither are they, so we can agree and minimize the drag that imperfections might cause individually. Agreement produces multiplication and multiplication produces exponential impact.

From acceptance that originates in eternity, we don’t have to work from a heart that strives to be recognized or rewarded but from a satisfied soul that desires outcomes more than it needs affirmation. We get to; we don’t have to. We are invited, not compelled. From that freedom, the passion to run is inspiring and sustainable in a way that others can join in and go further and beyond what we are capable of.

Agreement is imperative to impact as multiplication is necessary for expansion. Lasting agreement requires invitation without relying on manipulation, subjective absolutes or division. Freedom fosters invitation as it is secure in its identity and conviction, allowing others to determine their place and extent of involvement. Even if it means rejection.

You can change the world but for you and for me, that starts and ends with the heart. From the heart, good intentions either get multiplied by agreement which is fostered by grace or they are limited in their own insecurities. The challenge is that the need for grace is ongoing as our insecurities take a lifetime to resolve. This requires a perpetual posture of submission for the greatest possibilities of impact. The good news is that the grace which fuels greatness is available in Jesus.

Leadership Lessons of Christmas Shopping

13393428013895Just before Christmas, I was out at a town square style shopping area with my two kids and a friend’s five-year old son. His mom and my wife were doing some other things and I was responsible for watching the kids. Being the week before Christmas, it was extremely busy. We parked the car and made our way towards the store we were targeting.

Traffic was crazy and people were everywhere. I was walking us towards a particular store, but in the middle of trying to figure out exactly where that was I had to be sure the kids were with me and safe. My head was on a swivel as I made my way with the kids across cross walks and along sidewalks. I was constantly looking for threats (cars) and doing head counts to ensure that we were safe and intact.

As this was unfolding, I saw it as a great snapshot of what leadership is. I considered the following leadership characteristics applicable with a greater application than three kids in a shopping center:

  • Leadership Requires a Destination – Leaders need to know where they are intending to take the others nobody will drive the group towards a goal.
  • Others Might Not Be As Focused – The seven year old and the five-year old with me were certainly not as focused on the task at hand as I was.
  • Others Require Reminding – My reminders of waiting at intersections, wait for the group, etc. were consistent with the two young boys. Consistent, clear and even redundant communication keeps the group on point.
  • Direct Instructions From Station to Station – Five and seven-year old boys don’t always remember where we are going or why we are going there. It’s OK; I just have to get them from station to station at times. That can require direct feedback and instructions of what to do next.
  • Hearts Know – It was a pleasant outing despite the challenges and even though I gave direct and unilateral instructions at times. The younger boys knew I was for them and was looking out for their best interests so there was no issue with direct feedback.
  • Fun Is Included – There is no reason not to laugh and play along the way. Many of us spend significant amounts of time working and relationships which accommodate laughter along the way can only add to the job satisfaction.

Simple stuff, I suppose, but they were good reminders for me. Mastering the basics provides the practices necessary for sound leadership no matter the task at hand.

Seeing the Seer

seeing_time_by_xclockworkcalamityx-d8bn216Think back to a time when you were struggling. You may have wanted to escape through distraction or quit and run away all together. Often times, one of the drivers in those times of trouble is the feeling of loneliness. When we think we are alone in our troubles, we’ll often want to remove ourselves from those that we believe can’t understand our unique perspective.

In Genesis 16, we can read about Hagar, who was a slave. She was given over to Abraham to bear him a son. Hagar’s pregnancy caused contention between Hagar and Abraham’s wife, Sarah. The contention and mistreatment prompted Hagar to run away. God met Hagar in her flight, and told her to return and submit with a promise that He would provide increase for her.

Interestingly, God also tells her that her soon-to-be-born son is going to have trouble and be trouble. Despite this difficult news regarding her son’s future, Hagar willingly submits herself. God calls her to submit and she does, although the promise associated with that submission is not entirely positive. She submits, just the same, to the voice of God and rejoices in His direction no matter how good or bad it may seem.

She says in Genesis 16:13, “She gave this name to the Lord who spoke to her: ‘You are the God who sees me,’ for she said, ‘I have now seen the One who sees me.'” She’s so happy to hear from God, no matter the message, that she relates to Him so differently that she calls Him something different. She calls Him “the God who sees me.”

Hagar needed to be seen. She needed to know that she was more than just a slave who was being mistreated. She needed a promise that gave her meaning beyond her circumstances. She needed to be recognized and valued enough to be acknowledged.

We all need to be seen. We want to be seen by others and we need to be seen by God. If we feel like we are lost and forgotten, we will increasingly withdraw to protect from the disappointment of being ignored. There will be trouble and challenges even in the promises of God, but in the knowing that God has not forgotten us, we will find hope and faith. We will willingly submit to even challenging circumstances when we see and remember that God sees and remembers us.

If you find yourself in one of those times of wanting to run, ask Him. Ask Him to show you how He sees you. Your faith to make such a request will reveal His faithfulness. He is the God that sees you. He sees you; do you see Him seeing you?

Value in the Number

luke and obi-wanLast week, Julie and I went to see “Creed.” This is the newest installment in the Rocky series, in which Rocky trains Apollo Creed’s son as a fighter. The next day we went with my parents and some friends along with our son, Haynes, to see the new Star Wars movie. Of course, this is the latest of that science fiction saga. Both of the originating movies in the series came in out in the 1970’s.

Rocky is now an old man, where he started as the young, up and coming boxer. Luke Skywalker has a gray beard, where he started as the young, up and coming Jedi. Decades have passed, perspective has changed and life has presented its twists and turns. The gray hair of wisdom has replaced the naiveté of youth. The passion of promise is replaced with the sageness of experience. Sage wisdom isn’t free, however, the cost of wisdom is the challenge of trials.

I was ten years old when my dad took me to the first Star Wars. My son is seven as I took him and I was thankful that my dad was there with us. His beard is gray. For that matter, so is mine. The decades have produced depth and are adding to legacy.

These characters in these movies were like old friends. These are old friends who remind us of a time gone by. More than interest in their respective stories, there was an emotional connection to who and where I was compared to who and where I am now. Since both movies are part of a greater offering of a series of stories, the connection of where life was compared to where it is now spans decades.

One of my favorite verses, especially at the marking of a new year is Psalm 90:12, “Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.”

Time is passing, things are changing. We all age and we all move from promise to reflection. The appreciation for life provides context to our circumstances. If we’ll realize our place in context of a span of years and our span of years in the context of eternity, we’ll value the “now” differently. We’ll value the new year differently.

When we recognize that the number of our days is finite but the context of our living is infinite, we will appreciate the opportunity in the subset. We’ll soak up the Godly wisdom from the temporal challenges and our heart will be changed. God will move us and change us and shape us and mold us even as dreams disappoint and hopes are calibrated. The depth of knowing Him is from the inside out and he will reveal Himself within us.

You’ve been given another new year; what are you going to do with Him in it?


The Rain is Gone

dolphin-nasa-public-domain-ksc-04pd-0178It’s a new year! What are you going to do with it? How are you going to maximize the gifts and opportunities you have to develop them into all that you were intended to be? What is your vision for your life and, specifically, for the coming year?

Before you answer that question, hold on just a second. Our instinct is to come up with what we want to do and try to develop a plan to accomplish it. I’ll suggest to you that is vision, but not the kind of vision we are intended to operate in. We are invited into prophetic vision. Proverbs 29:18 calls for prophetic vision, or revelation, not just temporal human vision.

Prophetic vision is simply vision that sees things from God’s perspective. We are capable of doing that with “eyes to see” (Mark 8:18). We are positioned from our position with Christ, seated “in heavenly places” (Ephesians 2:6). We can see things differently through Jesus.

Prophetic vision requires that we see things differently, which requires us to pay attention and consider things differently. We seek vision from things we consider and we consider things we see. If we’ll pay attention, we’ll see the Kingdom and we’ll have context for our vision. We’ll be able to agree with what is created and not try to create something ourselves.

Typically, we consider visionaries as those that have an idea and implement that idea. Prophetic vision, however, is given to those that notice an idea and agree with God in what they notice. They see God in things and consider Him as they decipher what He has initiated. Strategy and tactics are not solely developed to support the vision, but to uncover the vision from the declarations of the situation.

What is God already doing? Where He is producing fruit, it is likely stirring enthusiasm. Where there is enthusiasm, there is passion and where there is passion there is likely purpose.

In the coming days heading into this new year, what is God actively doing in your life that you want to agree with Him about? What do you want to eliminate as you deem it to be something that doesn’t appear to be His idea? Narrowing the focus to agree with His stuff is vision for the Kingdom that gives you the power to agree with the King. Agreement with Him clarifies vision and orders steps towards the purposes within the context that you see clearly.