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Thursday, September 29, 2011

Things are not always the way they seem

by Pam Roth
Everyone loves a good mystery.  Perhaps you are familiar with the television series, Body of Proof.  Have you seen the most recent promotional clip for the upcoming season?  The actress, Dana Delany answers the phone and then she says, “Megan Hunt...Medical Examiner.” And as the commercial comes to an end she makes this statement, “Things are never the way they seem.” 


Well, I don’t know if I’d go so far as to say that things are never the way they seem; but, it is true that things are not always the way they seem.  A perfect example of this is the warning that is etched into the glass on the side mirrors of most vehicles.  The warning reads - “Objects in the mirror may be closer than they appear.” 

Another good example related to the side mirrors on a vehicle are blind spots. I know full well about blind spots.  Just the other day, I was driving down one of busiest highways in our city when I almost hit a car that was not visible in my mirror because, it was in my blind spot when I started to change lanes. How dangerous to have a perception that everything is fine, only to find out that you just avoided a major crisis by catching a glimpse of that vehicle at just the right moment.  

In the past three weeks, we have been looking at the importance of having a vision.  Not just any vision; but, a vision that includes God’s perspective.  Without God’s perspective, we do not necessarily see clearly; but we have a darkened reality of the way things are.  “Now, we see things imperfectly, like puzzling reflections in a mirror, but then we shall see everything with perfect clarity.  All that I know now is partial and incomplete, but then I will know everything completely, just as God knows me completely.” ~ I Corinthians 13:12. 

So, some questions for you to ponder as you move forward with your vision are:

  • What do you believe to be God’s perspective about your vision?  
  • How can you apply His perspective to the daily steps that you are taking so you are not sideswiped along the way to reaching your desired goal?
  • How are you avoiding the blind spots that may cause you to curtail or destroy your vision?
  • Who do you allow to hold you accountable for the decisions you make?
  • What is the reality about what is ahead on the journey that you are on?
  • Are you closer to reaching your destination than it appears?  
Remember things are not always the way they seem - "we see things imperfectly, like puzzling reflections in a mirror".  Let me encourage you to take a few minutes to ponder these questions and to consider being vulnerable with someone else about your vision – your hopes and dreams and your concerns.  If you have a life coach or mentor in your life, begin to give him or her permission to challenge you in your vision walk.  And, begin today.  

Feel free to leave a comment below.
For more information about coaching email: pam@relevantministry.org or nelson@relevantministry.org
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Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Getting vision clarity

by Nelson Roth
Today, I would like to share one of the important responses from my book, Nehemiah Response - Vision. Vision, along with the other ten responses from my book help a person move forward during a time of transition or crisis. 

These responses come straight from the experiences of Nehemiah in the Old Testament of the Bible. It’s the true story of a young man who in a huge way led in what might have seemed an impossible task - the rebuilding of the wall around Jerusalem some 2,500 years ago. The wall around the city measured over two and a half miles and it enclosed 220 acres. Amazingly, once started, the job of rebuilding the wall was finished in fifty-two days because God’s vision was clearly known by Nehemiah! 

What was Nehemiah’s response when he heard the news that the wall of his homeland city was broken down and its gates were burned? Instead of creating his own plan, Nehemiah took time to ask, “Is there a plan for me in all of this?” Nehemiah 1:4 says, “When I heard these things, I sat down and wept. For some days, I mourned and fasted and prayed before the God of heaven.” 

Clarity of vision, at least in this case, seems to be born out of a sense of great need! As I think about it, I’m wondering if this isn’t most likely the case rather than a rarity. How about you? Could it also be that a vision for you will come out of the tension between what is and, what can be?

What are you yearning for? What causes you to sit down and weep? Is there a plan for you in all of this? What might be the vision that is starting to become clear for you?

At the point of intense emotion over the problem, we note that Nehemiah took some time. Maybe, he wrestled with the tendency that most might have to solve the problem as soon as possible. But not for Nehemiah - he took “some days” and sought the Lord. Because of his patience we learn that during this time - an incubation stage of sorts, God revealed His vision in perfect timing to Nehemiah.

So, is there a plan for me in all of this? That’s a good question to ask when you want to move forward with a clear vision during a transition or crisis.

An added benefit of taking time, is also assessing personal needs. Moving on in chapter one, we find Nehemiah in the middle of a prayer to God. In verse seven, he gets honest about human failure. Here, we learn that the purpose of taking time can also be for self evaluation by asking the following questions. What are some of my strengths that are being revealed during this time? Or, are areas being revealed where I need to grow? Answers to these questions may be critical to moving forward into the vision that God is revealing.

One more thing, we note from the text - Nehemiah joins with others in prayer. Verse eleven says, “Lord, let your ear be attentive to the prayer of this your servant and to the prayer of your servants who delight in revering your name.” How good of a team player are you?

As you get traction and move forward - in your transition or crisis - are you open to receive help from someone else? Who do you have in your life that you can confide in or share ideas with?

What is God’s plan - His vision for you? You may have an answer, but if not, remain in the incubation stage! Nehemiah was in an incubation stage for at least one hundred days. What might have been his feelings on day sixty or day seventy-five? We know he kept on. How about you? To get vision clarity, keep on repeating the steps outlined above:

  1. Vision comes out of the tension between what is - and, what can be.
  2. Waiting is an incubation stage for God to reveal and bring clarity to His vision.
  3. An added benefit to taking time is assessing personal needs.
  4. Partner with others, form a team.

Feel free to leave a comment below.

For more information about coaching email: pam@relevantministry.org or nelson@relevantministry.org
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Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Are you a dreamer or a visionary?

by Pam Roth
We could probably ask the same question about several famous people who have influenced our world in one way or another.  Think about Christopher Columbus, Benjamin Franklin, Mozart, Bach, and Michelangelo – were they mere dreamers or did they have a plan to accomplish something that no one else had ever done?

Dreams inspire us.  However, without a clear sense of direction and confidence, a dream can end up being shattered; leaving us feeling defeated and discouraged.  

Dreams are the beginning of what may become a specific vision.  When you were young, did you dream about being an astronaut, Olympian, teacher, nurse, or fireman?  If so, did you follow through with a plan to accomplish your dream?

Young Christopher Columbus had a dream; and recorded history tells us that he persevered until he accomplished his goal.  This past year, we had the opportunity to see replicas of the Nina, the Pinta, and the Santa Maria docked at a marina in the Gulf of Mexico Sound at Biloxi, Mississippi.  As we approached the dock, it was hard to imagine traveling from Spain to America in these three fairly small vessels.  I’m pretty sure there were people in 1492 that said, “Really, Columbus what are you thinking?”  Do you think Columbus was considered a dreamer or a visionary when he made plans to set sail to come to America?

And in the not too far distance from the three ships was another nautical icon - the Biloxi Lighthouse.  Although Columbus was not guided to land by a lighthouse; lighthouses provide a beam of light for a ship’s captain to be focused on as he makes his way toward the shoreline.

Much like a lighthouse, a vision statement is a declaration of where you hope to go.  A vision statement doesn’t necessarily tell you how you’re going to get there; but it will begin to help you set the direction and guide you to your destination.  When you take your dream and move it to a vision statement, you move from merely having a good idea to creating a plan to reach your desired outcome.
 
I can imagine that if you are like most of us, you are saying, “But, I don’t have time to sit down and write out a plan.  I barely have enough time to manage what has to be done in my life now.  Frankly, I just want to get through today.”  May I ask you a few questions?  Hopefully, these questions will encourage you to stop and create a plan out of your dream.

Why is your dream important to you? Be careful not to be influenced by opposition.  Let your “why” motivate you to reach your desired destination.

What is the purpose behind your dream? What do you see needs to be done? How do you plan to use your gifts and talents? How is God speaking to you?

Have you clarified your dream? What is your desired future? Who do you want to become?  What are some of your greatest resources?  What are the roadblocks?

Have you already put your plan into action? If so, have you shared it with someone that you trust? Have you considered a life coach to come alongside you to help you accomplish your goals?

What step can you make today that will lead to making a significant difference in your future?

Quote: “You can never cross the ocean unless you have courage to lose sight of the shore” Christopher Columbus

Feel free to leave a comment below.

For more information about coaching email: pam@relevantministry.org or nelson@relevantministry.org


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Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Vision, discovering God's perspective

by Nelson Roth
For several years, I have had ‘floaters’ in my left eye.  Floaters are small deposits that form in the back of the eye and cast shadows on the retina.  They hinder vision as they appear as small black flicks, spider web like lines, and dark shapes.  Most of the time they go unnoticed, but when they drift through my field of sight - they do affect my vision.  

I go to a great optometrist who checks them out each year.  Experiencing these floaters has caused me to appreciate my vision so much more.  This experience has also caused me to think about the importance of spiritual vision and its relation to God and His plans in my life.  

How am I able to see clearly the plans that God has in mind?

Let’s consider what others have said spiritual vision is. John Maxwell says that vision is the ability to see (awareness), the faith to believe (attitude), and the courage to do (action).  George Barna says that vision for ministry is a reflection of what God wants to accomplish through you to build His kingdom.  Will Mancini says the discovery process of finding vision asks the question - Where is God taking us?

Our physical sight, or vision, is probably the most important sense that we have.  But, no matter how wonderful it is - our physical sight can only see physical reality.  Spiritual vision, the topic that we will be considering for the next few weeks, is perceiving spiritual reality.

Spiritual vision involves the plans that God has for each of us.  Vision is about where we are going and what it's going to look like when we get there.  Our physical reality or the experiences happening in our life, like the “floaters”,  can hinder us from seeing God’s plans.

Isaiah 55:8-9, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord.  As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.”

So spiritual vision is discovered, it comes from God.  It’s about what God is doing, figuring that out and joining Him.

What do you believe God is calling you to do?  What is in the way or what is blocking you from figuring out what God is doing?  Spiritual vision can be hindered by the busyness in our lives.

Imagine a gallon jar of water filled with mud and other sediment in front of you.  What happens when you swirl it around?  Can you see through the jar?  What would happen if you would set the jar down for a day or two?  Letting the “floaters” that get in the way settle to the bottom takes both time and slowing down.  Psalm 46:10, “Be still, and know that I am God.”

How quick are you to fix the problem or put a plan together before consulting with God?  When Nehemiah heard about the need in Jerusalem for rebuilding, he wept.  The need stirred and troubled him.  His concern moved him to prayer before making any plans or assuming what needed to be done.  Actually in his case he prayed for over a hundred days seeking God’s perspective.

Thinking spiritual vision through:
  1. It comes from God, we join Him in what He is doing.
  2. It can be hindered by the swirl of busyness in our lives.
  3. It is discovered in the time we take seeking God’s perspective.
Feel free to leave a comment below.
For more information about coaching email: pam@relevantministry.org or nelson@relevantministry.org

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