Ministry Updates: India and El Salvador

vision2hear

This has been an exciting month for a couple of our sister ministries. In India, Pastor Rajendra and the community near the orphanage was able to get the long-awaited playground installed. This is a project we have been anticipating since the children’s ministry at New Vision Church generated the funds to donate this to the orphans.

As you can see from the pictures, the playground has several ways for the children to play and no doubt the children will be very excited to have this area to enjoy. The orphanage currently has 16 children residing (to my knowledge) and Vision 2 Hear along with a couple of other churches are helping to support them. If you are interested in sponsoring an orphan, please contact us at vision2hear@gmail.com for more information. We hope to update you soon from Pastor Rajendra with more pics of the WAVE Team and churches there. Until…

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Devotionals For Leaders: Choose Fruit

choose fruit

16 You did not choose Me, but I chose you. I appointed you that you should go out and produce fruit and that your fruit should remain… John 15:16

Jesus is the One who does the picking. God’s plan and agenda will win out. Our goal is to simply live God’s plan where we are. Far too often we think that somewhere else is better. That somewhere in another field of ministry, in another church or with another group of people, the work will be more rewarding, fulfilling or at least more tolerable. But how did you get to where you are? Was it by your own choosing? If so, then you got what you wanted. If not, then you got what God wanted for you; regardless of the way it feels or seems. The verse above says that Jesus has chosen us for certain things and tasks, that He has a certain kind of fruit our lives are to produce. Therefore He knows what climate will best suit that fruit. He will plant you where you will best produce fruit that will remain. It’s not about what you would choose to do for God but about Him choosing where you will have the best opportunity to know Him and show Him.

Oswald Chambers said:

We have no right to decide where we should be placed, or to have preconceived ideas as to what God is preparing us to do. God engineers everything; and wherever He places us, our one supreme goal should be to pour out our lives in wholehearted devotion to Him in that particular work. 

The task is not the important thing here. Jesus isn’t concerned so much with where we are or what we are doing as long as it’s what He’s called to do at that time. It’s not that He needs us to do anything for Him, anyway. The plan is for us to be obedient unto death, just like He was…even death to self. Self is one of our greatest enemies. Choosing jobs or making plans must be done but not without seeking the One who created us. He who knows us best should be consulted in any decisions concerning our future. There may be something Jesus would choose for us that we would never choose for ourselves. Then on the other hand, there may be things that we would choose to partake in that He never would choose for us. Obedience does not question why, what or where but simply awaits the “when”.

Final thought: don’t get caught up in where you are but instead be focused on the fruit God wants to produce in you and through you wherever He may take you.

Devotionals For Leaders: Dealing With Burnout

dealing with burnout

13 The next day Moses sat down to judge the people, and they stood around Moses from morning until evening. 14 When Moses’ father-in-law saw everything he was doing for them he asked, “What is this thing you’re doing for the people? Why are you alone sitting as judge, while all the people stand around you from morning until evening?”

15 Moses replied to his father-in-law, “Because the people come to me to inquire of God.16 Whenever they have a dispute, it comes to me, and I make a decision between one man and another. I teach them God’s statutes and laws.”

17 “What you’re doing is not good,” Moses’ father-in-law said to him. 18 “You will certainly wear out both yourself and these people who are with you, because the task is too heavy for you. You can’t do it alone. Exodus 18:13-18

Many of us can find ourselves in a situation like Moses, where as the leader we undertake many responsibilities out of necessity. However, God sent Moses’ father-in-law at just the right time to help Moses see that he was on the path to burnout. What can we do to better deal with burnout and help ourselves be the best leader possible for the long term?

Burnout is a term used often for people who are stressed, have become desperately emotionally numb, lost passion about work or life, and anything remotely close to feeling out of control. It’s not a term lost among those who are high up the leadership ladder, as they run the risk of having to deal with burnout at any given time. Is this the life that God wants for us? Certainly not! Moses’ life is a great example of a leader of a nation that learned well how to avoid and deal with burnout. Here are a few things I would recommend to help you deal with any burnout in your life.

Listen to your soul.

There is no doubt that as a leader, there are going to be many voices in your head. From the constituents to employees to your family, everyone wants a piece of your time, a part of your life. It is imperative that you listen to your own soul. What does your soul need? How can you nurture your soul and feed your soul so that you can be the best you possible? Burnout comes because leaders fail to take care of their souls. They become caught up in activity and fail to take time to grow who they are. As a leader, taking care of your soul needs to be first priority because everything else will flow from that. In other words, what brings a spark to your eye? What makes you want to dance? What puts a pep in your step? What minsters to the deepest part of you? Answering questions like these and being able to live out of a place like this will help you go a long way in dealing with burnout.

Listen to your family/friends and wise counsel.

Moses didn’t play the “I’m the leader, God’s chosen” card when his father-in-law offered him some great advice. Instead, Moses being the great leader he was, listened and heeded the advice. It’s really important to pay attention to the people God places in your life that love you and care about you as a person…not as the “leader”. Listening to them, especially when they begin to give you hints that you are not doing well emotionally or spiritually is vitally important. They know you well, so listen to what they have to say. Burnout happens quickly when we disengage from those closest to us. to deal with burnout, schedule time with family and friends often.

Listen to what God says.

Take a sabbath frequently. In fact, sabbath is meant to be a once-a-week kind of thing, right? God knew what He was doing when He gave us the model for our lives by commanding us to remember the sabbath and keep it holy. That means keep it different and unique; not like a work day but a rest day. Sabbath is not meant to just be a day to have recreation but to re-created. If you want to effectively deal with burnout in your life, maintaining a consistent practice of sabbath is a must.

Listen to what your body says.

Our bodies have built in responders to stress and burnout. These indicators can be anything from fatigue, nervous reactions, sleepiness, irritability, lack of passion, no excitement, loss of appetite, crying or depression. The list could go on but you get the point. When your body starts acting differently, it’s important to pay attention. It may be that more sleep would help but this is just an indication that your body is not “resting” during sleep. Vitamins, medication, or even more sleep is not necessarily the answer. The right answer may be to step back or step out of some roles and lesson the amount of stress.

Listen to the future.

What do you need to hear from yourself and from God about the future? God intends for you to be around until He completes His task and work in you. If burning out is not God’s intention, then God has a future plan for you. How can you best prepare and be ready for the future? How can you deal with burnout now so that you can better burn then? There is something awaiting you and God wants you to be able to embrace it with all you have. Don’t cheat tomorrow by burning out today. Many leaders get burned out because the flames of today create so much smoke they can’t see their way out. Make sure you celebrate often and acknowledge the successes of now because that is what will propel you into the future. Take time often to dream about the future and let those dreams inspire you and keep the fire going.

Listen to Jethro.

Surround yourself with great leaders who can do things to assist you. A leader is not a know-it-all nor a doer-of-it-all, even though they may think otherwise. Jethro was wise and courageous enough to tell God’s man he needed to appoint some other people to help. This may be the advice you need most: surround yourself with competent people who will lift you up and help you carry the heavy load. If you are dealing with burnout, it’s time to get help. Don’t pretend that you don’t need it. Instead, look around and see how God has already equipped you with the right people in the right places. They may need a little prodding and teaching but they can do it if you as a leader will let go and let God be God.

Devotionals For Leaders: Avoiding Burnout

burnout

Meanwhile, Moses was shepherding the flock of his father-in-law Jethro, the priest of Midian. He led the flock to the far side of the wilderness and came to Horeb, the mountain of God. Then the Angel of the Lord appeared to him in a flame of fire within a bush. As Moses looked, he saw that the bush was on fire but was not consumed. So Moses thought: I must go over and look at this remarkable sight. Why isn’t the bush burning up? Exodus 3:1-3

It’s easy for us to get caught up in what we want to do for God. We can dream our dreams and make our plans and those things can become our driving force. We can become so caught up in what we want to do for God that we miss God Himself. This is a huge danger for the leader.

As leaders it’s vitally important to remember that God has entrusted visions and dreams to us. But we must submit them back to God. We cannot allow the vision or dream to consume or overwhelm us. Our ideas of how things can or should be accomplished can become all-consuming and eventually lead to burnout. This is not God’s desire: that anyone should “burnout” for Him. How does God get glory from a person who is no longer able to serve or who no longer is able to contribute?

Remember the burning bush that God used to communicate to Moses? It says the bush “burned but was not consumed.” What can we learn from this bush to help us avoid burnout and fulfill God’s dreams for our lives?

1) Be rooted in God.

This bush was planted on “holy” ground. It became holy unto the Lord when the Lord inhabited it. The same is true for us. We can easily take roots and identity in our “work” which is not what God intends. Our roots and identity need to be in God alone. When the Lord enters into a heart, He is the One who makes us holy and crafts us for His work. Our task is to simply grow in Him first and foremost. Don’t become caught up in burning for God…grow in God. Then when the time is right God will set you afire.

2) Be available to God.

Sure there were other bushes around but God chose this one. God has chosen you for certain tasks and jobs. Don’t try to do what God has called others to do. And don’t just assume that because something needs to be done that you are the one to do it. As leaders this is very difficult. It’s really important to not overload ourselves with tasks and things that God has not “called” us to do. In so doing, we are not available to do the things that God HAS called us to do. Busyness crowds out availability. This bush burned because it was consumed with God. When we as leaders are more consumed with God than stuff or schedules, or even our own ideas of timetables and plans, we will burn and not burnout. A servant simply waits in availability until the Master says “do”.

3) Be set apart for God.

This bush was the one God chose to use to speak to Moses. We don’t really know why or if there was any particular reason other than God chose to. The last point is to be set apart for God’s use so that God can use you when He is ready. The word “holy” essentially means that: to be set apart. Even though it has the idea of purity and righteous, it’s core definition means to be set aside for a particular use. God wants us to consecrate ourselves and to be set apart for His use. When we begin to set aside time, carve away our schedules, and even seek to be alone and away from others, we will begin to burn for God from a deeper place. Our passion becomes for God and not the “things” of God. Our love becomes for Him and not just ourselves looking good by accomplishing things for Him.

Final thought: God wants you to burn but not burnout for Him. Don’t replace activity for God for intimacy with God.

Crazy Little Thing Called Love

v2h header valentine day

It’s almost Valentine’s Day: the day we celebrate love. So what do you do if you don’t have someone special in your life? Let me help you out with the Top 10 pick-up lines for this year. Maybe it will help you move toward that special someone?

10) If you were a burger at McDonald’s, you’d be named  “McGorgeous”.

9) If I could rearrange the alphabet I’’d put U and I together…

8) You must be a parking ticket cause you got “fine” written all over you.

7) If you were a laser you’’d be set on stunning.

6) Where have I seen you before? Oh yeah it was in the dictionary next to the word KABLAM!

5) Girl, if you catch me breaking into your house, it’s revenge for stealing my heart.

4) I hope you know CPR, because you take my breath away

3) Do you believe in love at first sight, or should I walk by again?

2) Well, here I am. What were your other two wishes?

1) Do I know you cause you look a lot like my next girlfriend!

For a few more laughs, check out the Skit Guys video here on how some people define love: Need Harmony

But in all seriousness what is it about this crazy little thing called “love”? What is it about love that totally changes our lives?Maybe there’s something that’s not so little in this thing called love? Let’s take a few moments and consider what love is and what loves does.

When we talk about love it can be more than a little confusing. I mean, how do we use a word that means deep feelings of affection for a person in the same breath with how we feel about Taco Bell? Interesting to say the least. Needless to say, the word “love” has many connotations and definitions. A general definition many people live by is: love is what someone does to us or for us. This however, is not a great definition to live by. Consider:

Love is what someone does to us. 

We get butterflies in our stomachs. Our palms get sweaty. We become giddy and lost on cloud “9”. We have pep in our step and the world just seems to be brighter when we are “in love”.

Love is what someone does for us.

All-of-a-sudden, someone is opening up doors for us, buying us gifts, sending texts all the time, posting pics of us together, and celebrating holidays and seasons together. They get us things and do things for us that no one else does. That has to be love, right?

This definition of love is probably a much better working definition than the ones above.

Love: a commitment to the betterment of another involving service and sacrifice.Tweet This! This definition is much more “scary” than the others. In the other two definitions, we are at the center of the universe. Love becomes about what’s in it for “us”. But in this definition, love becomes about “the other”. Sure “love” can involve feelings but love is not just feelings.

Feelings go away. Feelings change. But real love remains. Tweet This!

There are three basic statements that we hear centered around love. Maybe you have heard them before?

1) I love you…if.

This statement is conditional to the max. You have heard it like this: “If you love me you would…”

2) I love you…but.

This statement is a comparison statement. You have heard it like this: “I love you but you don’t treat me like so and so…”

3) I love you no matter what.

This statement is unconditional. Even as loving and caring as our parents are, sometimes, they become conditional in their expression of love. But parents and loving role models are often our best examples of this kind of love, which is only possible through God. God is the prime example of this kind of love. He  always has this kind of love for us and toward us. Regardless of what our lives are like, what our past has been, what we look like, what we feel like, what we think, God loves us perfectly, 100%, all the time.

God conveys this kind of love to us over and over in the scriptures. He says quite succinctly in Romans 5:8 that He demonstrated His love even WHILE we were still sinners. Even at our very worst, our furtherest from God, He still reached out to us and showed great love for us by serving and sacrificing. That’s real love!

Love is Service.

When Jesus came to earth, He could have required people to bow to Him, to do His bidding, to honor Him and worship Him as the God He was and is. But He didn’t do that. Instead, Jesus said in Matthew 20:28

For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

Jesus lived out service to others unlike anyone ever has. He being the God of all creation, bent down and washed the feet of those whom He created. The gospel of John details this great act of love beautifully.

 Before the Passover celebration, Jesus knew that his hour had come to leave this world and return to his Father. He had loved his disciples during his ministry on earth, and now he loved them to the very end. It was time for supper, and the devil had already prompted Judas, son of Simon Iscariot, to betray Jesus. Jesus knew that the Father had given him authority over everything and that he had come from God and would return to God. So he got up from the table, took off his robe, wrapped a towel around his waist,and poured water into a basin. Then he began to wash the disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel he had around him John 13:1-5

Later in the passage, Jesus commands His disciples to do the same kind of loving thing to others.

12 After washing their feet, he put on his robe again and sat down and asked, “Do you understand what I was doing? 13 You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and you are right, because that’s what I am. 14 And since I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you ought to wash each other’s feet. 15 I have given you an example to follow. Do as I have done to you. 16 I tell you the truth, slaves are not greater than their master. Nor is the messenger more important than the one who sends the message. 17 Now that you know these things, God will bless you for doing them.

Throughout His life, Jesus showed us time and again how love is not about feelings but about serving and giving. He showed this kind of love over and again through things like feeding the 4,000, 5,000, healing people, raising the dead, and even making sure His mother was cared for at the time of his own death! Jesus wants us to understand that love is service and giving of ourselves to others in service.

Love is Sacrifice.

When people really love one another sacrifices are made. Wives give up their last names, people move from their parents homes to new locations, cities, or states, as sacrifices of their love. These sacrifices expected and even nobel, but the ultimate sacrifice is the giving of one’s life. Fully yielding a life to death for the love of another is the greatest expression of love ever. Jesus Himself declares this in the following verse:

There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. John 15:13Tweet This!

It’s one thing to give your life for someone that you love but what about an enemy? That’s not love, right? That’s insanity! But not according to God. Through the loving sacrificial death of Jesus, while we were enemies of God, He provided a way for friendship.

For since our friendship with God was restored by the death of his Son while we were still his enemies, we will certainly be saved through the life of his Son. Romans 5:10

Jesus showed sacrificial love by laying down His own life. What makes this sacrifice so incredible is that in doing so, Jesus experienced something He never had before: separation from His Father. That was the ultimate sacrifice! In all of eternity, the Trinity had never experienced such a separation, but on the cross of Calvary, Jesus became sin for us and God turned His back on His one and only son!

45 Now from the sixth hour until the ninth hour there was darkness over all the land. 46 And about the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, “Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?” that is, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” Matthew 27:45

God and Jesus Christ have demonstrated love in ways that go beyond our comprehension and experiences. The love God has for us exceeds any of our ability to explain or convey. Yet, it is more real than any other love we have as a reference.  During this Valentine’s Day, may I encourage you to take a few minutes and simply reflect upon the love of God, His acts of service and sacrifice and let that be your beginning point for the love that you express toward others.

It’s a crazy little thing called love but that thing will change your world!Tweet This!

How can you demonstrate love through service and sacrifice this Valentine’s Day?

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAGeorge

Quiet Time: Thoughts And Reflections on Prayer And Matthew 9:38

Quiet Time

 

Pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest —Matthew 9:38

Everything with God’s work begins and ends with prayer. Why, you ask? Because I must be reminded that it is God’s work and Him working and not me, myself. Prayer is the key that opens the door for God to be active in the world around me. As mundane as it may seem, prayer is the powerful tool God uses to change the world. Through it, God changes me that I might be an agent of change for His name and glory.

Prayer may seem senseless and a waste of time, however, it is the best investment the time I have. When I pray I am investing in something eternal instead of ephemeral. Prayer brings heaven to earth. When I take the time to pray, I am aligning my thoughts with God’s thoughts and thus I am able to see things much differently as I get His mindset on life.

In prayer I am enabled to see the world as Christ sees it, with compassion. Payer doesn’t focus me as much on the needs around me as much as the singular need of each person who needs Christ. Prayer is truly about Jesus being realized as each person’s greatest need.

When Jesus told His disciples to pray that the laborers be sent out, His focus was on the prayer and not the work. When the harvest is ripe, the work is easy. The most special work I can do in the name of Christ is prayer, humble, unseen prayer. The Lord is the One who does the supernatural work in a heart. He is the One who prepares the seed, water the seed brings forth the fruit. I am to simply that God would send out workers to gather it up.

As I pray, God will do His marvelous work and bring His workers to collect His harvest. I have to place a greater focus on prayer as it is the greater work for me to be committed. It’s not about flitting around with much activity but rather being still and letting God be God (Psalm 46). When I am still in prayer, I can easily see the harvest God is sending me into and how I am to reap what field I am in.

George Lockhart

Quiet Time: Thoughts And Reflections

Quiet Time

I now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up in my flesh what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ, for the sake of His body, which is the church . . . —Colossians 1:24

The call of God is not something we manufacture ourselves. We cannot take our own spiritual practices or disciplines and conjure up God’s calling for our lives. God will find a way to grab our attention for sure…He used a burning bush for Moses, a blinding light for Paul, He knows how to grab our attention! It may be through a unusual experience that we gain that clarity or a crushing painful moment that seals our hearts on His purpose but either way, God will communicate to us His desired call for our lives.

As Jesus’ body was broken and His blood poured out by the hands of people who did not know Him or love Him, should we expect any better treatment as we follow in His steps? He was bruised and crushed in order to bring new life to us, willingly accepting God’s choosing of how and where this would happen. If I am to become as broken bread and poured out wine, I cannot argue with God’s timing or choosing of how or when.

God has a plan. God has a call. I cannot argue with what means or ways He chooses to train me, ready me, prepare me, or use me for His  purposes. God may use things that seem completely out of line, from left field and without any continuity in His breaking of me. It is not up to me to choose my cross or my Golgotha; I simply choose to bear it.

God is seeking to make me a sweet wine offering but this cannot happen without being crushed and squeezed. Grapes contain the sweet wine that comes only when crushed beneath someone’s feet. Bread that feeds others only does so when broken and torn. But how filling when it is eaten!

God uses many different hands and fingers to tear us down, squeezing us out and giving us away to others. It may seem like an unfair or unjust issue in your life but don’t be surprised if it isn’t just the way that God uses you the most. Jesus fed over 5,000 men with a couple loaves of bread that were broken.
For more on this topic, read My Utmost For His Highest