“Let every vein of your heart be full to the brim with the rich blood of desire, and struggle and wrestle and strive with God for it, using the promises and pleading the attributes of God, and see if God does not give you your heart’s desire. I challenge you to exceed in prayer. I throw down the gauntlet to you. Believe Him to be more than He is.” (Charles Spurgeon)
Excerpt from Week 2 of the ‘Make Room’ Lent Reading plan at West Ridge Church in preparation for Easter.
Pushing some of life’s subtle distractions to the side brings life into greater perspective. Combine that with inviting God to search us and know us and to pull the weeds of sin clears our view so that we can truly fix our eyes on Jesus. As we look forward to Easter Weekend the cross standing in the distance comes into focus, and with every day of preparation we take a step closer.
There is a danger in removing the things that have cluttered our lives. Sometimes the clutter and the weeds have crowded out so much that when we remove them we end up with nothing left. Empty, hollow, and meaningless are not good feelings. So we put our focus on filling back up. On being filled by God’s word and by His Spirit.
In Ephesians 5:18 the Apostle Paul encourages the Christ follower to be continually filled by the Spirit of God. He already resides within the believer, yet too often He is crowded out. The challenge is to give Him full access to every area of our lives. Allow Him to fill our thoughts and direct our actions. He does that when we Make Room for Him to intervene in times of prayer and reading the scriptures.
Some of the recommended scripture reading:
A couple years ago I heard author Ray Vanderlaan do a talk about God’s instructions to Moses for creating the wilderness tabernacle. He said this (I’m summarizing), “God created the world and created man to fill it. (That obviously didn’t work out) When creating the tabernacle God said, ‘You make the space and I’ll fill it.'”
It’s an intoxicating thought. Create a space in your life that God can fill. The genesis of the thought is from Exodus 25:8 where the Lord says to Moses “Have the people of Israel build me a holy sanctuary so I can live among them.” The Spirit of God already lives in those that have put their faith in Jesus, but so many things try to entangle us and crowd that out.
The best gardens are the ones where the farmer tends to the weeds every day. Pulling them up by the roots so that they don’t take any nutrients from a healthy crop. But if you have ever had a garden you know how easy it is to allow weeds to crowd out growth. For me, inevitably, I have to spend extra time pulling out weeds because something prevented me from doing it every day as I should.
That is a little of how the season of Lent works for me. It restores healthy rhythms and creates extra space for God to search me and know me and help me see what I have been missing.
You never know how He might fill just a little extra space.
If you are a Christ-follower there can be a pretty regular sense this time of year that you should be reading the Bible and maybe starting a reading plan, but you just don’t want to. The #1 reason: The fear that you are going to flame out somewhere in Leviticus. Even if you haven’t made it through the whole thing before, don’t shy away from the opportunity to refresh some healthy rhythms in your life.
Honestly, the more I read the Bible the more I love and crave it. It took me while to get there though. (Is that ok for a Pastor to say?) Here are some things that help me keep it fresh:
1) Try a different translation. It’s not so much that it is going to make a huge difference in your understanding, but refreshing the language is a great way to mix of the cadence of your reading. How do you know if you have picked the right translation? As long as it doesn’t have the words Mormon, Jehovah or Witness in it you are probably ok.
2) Listen to it. When I first started listening to scripture it totally changed my understanding of some passages. Especially if you can carve out enough time on a drive or a workout (I listen while riding my bike) to listen to a whole book (Like one of Paul’s letters) all at one time.
3) Read it chronologically. You may not realize this, but the Bible is not written in chronological order. It’s grouped largely by the types of writing it contains (Like books of Poetry or History). It can be really eye opening to discover who are contemporaries of one another in scripture, and make you want to dive in and sleuth some things out a bit more. This is great for the little ‘CSI’ in you that is waiting to be let loose.
4) Read It Real Fast! If you have never done it I would encourage you to read the Bible as a narrative at least one time. From cover to cover and front to back. Whether or not you have ever read the Bible before take the posture of someone who has never read it before, and ask yourself the question, “What is this book about?” I’d love to hear what you come up with.
The best plan I ever saw for this was a 90-day one that came out some years ago. Here is a link to the reading plan I found; http://www.haventoday.org/schedule.pdf. For ideas on a bunch of plans that will fit your goals and growth for this year head on over to Bible.com.
Any other ideas out there? I’d love to hear what you do to keep it fresh!
Every year at this time Christians all over the world begin with a scripture reading plan, and every year people get through different amounts of that plan. Think of what this time of year would be like if we were all finishing up our reading schedules together. The sense of shared accomplishment and unity that would bring to the Church would be palpable!
One of the most inspiring and worshipful gatherings I ever attended was at a Messianic Synagogue in North Atlanta. I was attending with my oldest son to see how they celebrated the Feast of the Tabernacles, and have a teachable moment with my boy. It’s my favorite of the Old Testament Holidays both because of what it means and the intentional planning of time to just worship!
I was a little surprised by something else being celebrated that night. The holiday is called Simchat Torah, and it means ‘Rejoicing with the Torah’. Here is the core thought for this:
When Israel studies the Torah, the devil accuses them, saying, “Though they have begun to study it, they will not finish it.” On the day that they finish Deuteronomy, he says, “Though they have finished it, they will not study it again.” To prove him a liar, we begin reading Genesis as soon as we have finished Deuteronomy. (Learn More Here)
There is a schedule for reading the first five books of the Old Testament known as the Torah of Books of the Law. They are seen as foundational for understanding the rest of the scripture including the teachings of Jesus and the Apostle Paul. The schedule includes some other readings from the Hebrew scripture.
I love the idea of reading the scriptures ‘To prove the devil a liar’. It’s just the kind of dare and challenge that someone with my competitive nature needs. It may not be the best motive for keeping up with a scripture-reading plan, but a motive nonetheless.
Need a plan to begin the New Year? Head on over to the Bible.com and pick a plan that helps you cover a small portion or all of the scriptures this year. I’ll even bet on you to finish it!
(This note was sent to equip Head Coaches and Coaches in our ongoing journey to develop a thriving and reproducing Volunteer Leadership Development Pipeline at West Ridge Church. It’s totally ok for you to peak behind our curtain.)
Ever noticed a quarterback having to tell his guys to huddle up. There is this little motion they do with both hands open and the fingers outstretched, you pull your hands together to intertwine the fingers a couple of times. It means let’s get together. If someone who doesn’t know football looked at it from an outsiders perspective you might think the quarterback is asking for a group hug.
Most of the time huddling is a given, but when the quarterback has been in a hurry up offense for a few plays trying to make things happen quickly they have to break the ‘hurry up’ mode with this cute little gesture. We get in a hurry for lots of reasons like trying to keep the defense on its heels, or perhaps by starting a Third Service and cutting down the amount of time in between services making some leaders feel like everything is more rushed! See what I did there! 🙂
Huddling is important. It brings the connectivity to volunteering so people don’t feel like they are just doing a job. Your huddles are probably very quick; five, ten, fifteen minutes max. Here are some tips on huddling that will add value to even a short amount of the time.
1. Begin with BLESS. A majority of West Ridge Staff Meetings begin with a question, “Who are you BLESSing? The acronym stands for: Begin with prayer, Listen to what people are saying, Eat with them, Serve them, Share your Story with them. Not every staff member answers the question every week. In fact, there are some periods where the answer is the same, or no further progress has been made. That’s ok. Prayer can keep going as long as needed, but all of us should have someone outside of the Christian faith that we are figuring out how to BLESS.
2. Cast Vision. Walking around on Sunday a couple of weeks ago, I sensed God reminding me that He has a vision for every volunteer role. If He doesn’t, let’s not waste people’s time in asking them to do something. As the Coach or Head Coach, do you have a vision for every volunteer role on your team? Not the reason a task could or should be done, but the vision for how that volunteer opportunity helps create opportunities for Life Change.
In a huddle, pull out one volunteer every week and in front of everyone give the vision for how what they do creates Life Change. Everyone will leave that huddle under your leadership ready to tackle every challenge of the day and seize every opportunity.
3. Give Information. The Pastor, Director, or Ministry Leader probably give you some things to share here and there to keep you all moving together. Our Director of Mission and Mobilization, Kevin Dunlap, told me when I was Children’s Pastor that lack of information creates anxiety. I’m not going to tell you why he told me that, but I may have given him a reason. Make sure everyone feels like they know what they need and then some to make the whole team successful.
4. Pray. Prayer is not a throw away, a last resort, or a convenient way to end a meeting. In fact you may want to begin your huddle with it. Prayer reminds us that on any given Sunday the impossible can happen. Every day of our own journeys can be filled with holy expectation when it is covered in prayer, and Sunday should be no different. Let prayer fill God’s house so that He can show up and not hold back.
How do you know if it’s a good huddle? When you break your team should be inspired and energized. It won’t happen every time, but if it happens enough, your volunteer team will buzz with energy and unity and will recruit others to multiply the work.
Pastor of Ministry and Leadership Development
West Ridge Church
Blog – http://paulrichardsononline.com
I was speaking with a Ministry Leader at another Metro Atlanta Church a couple of weeks ago. This person is coming to Local Church leadership from another vocation, and in the conversation made a statement that made me want to stand up and worship right there in that coffee shop. He said, (And I’m paraphrasing) “One of the things that I love about the local church is knowing that on any given Sunday anything is possible.”
I don’t know what your knee jerk reaction is to that comment. I hope that you respond with “Of course it is!” However, I believe a lot of congregations don’t show up on Sunday with that kind of holy expectancy. Worship, volunteering, and vocational ministry can get mundane in a hurry. But with prayer and in the power of the Holy Spirit, “Anything is possible…today!”
Today could be a day of major breakthrough.
Today could be the day when a prayer is answered.
Today could be the day the prodigal returns.
Today could be the day when a life is changed.
After our Third Service yesterday I spoke to a guy who said he spent $4,000 on cocaine alone in the last week. That is in addition to his struggle with methamphetamine. Yesterday was the day he came forward to begin the journey of putting Christ in charge of his life. Alongside of him was his fiancé who has been asking him for months and months to come with her to Church. With tears in her eyes all that she could say in a barely audible whisper was, “He came today.”
Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible. (Matthew 19:26)
This video was shared at the Willow Creek Global Leadership Summit 2013. It depicts scenes from the life of Jesus taken from “The Bible” produced by Mark Burnett.
Leadership is intentional influence.
How do you create ‘Vital Behavior’?
Make and keep weekly commitments to income and savings (To help change behavior).
Sources of Influence:
The influence of the pain or pleasure of the behavior itself
Bad stuff often feels like fun with no consequences. Good stuff often feels like sacrifice
As an influencer we have to make the good stuff feel pleasurable.
Don’t just teach principles. Connect them to values.
Help people frame specific daily decisions in godly ways.
…is the influence of skill. Ability often comes before motivation.
Want more influence?
You have to help people with deliberate practice under realistic conditions.
Create periods of Intense focus
Lots of coaching and feedback.
Social influence – The influence of other people through modeling, praise, helping, and enabling.
The influence of other people can have a tremendous impact on behavior
We have to look at the incentives that create changes in behavior.
Space data, cues, tools, processes, and other environmental behaviors.
These can be used to make bad behavior harder and also good choices easier and obvious.
Notes taken from @JosephGrenny talk at 2013 Global Leadership Summit at Willow Creek Community Church
A Multiplier is a Leader who amplifies and multiplies the intelligence of those around them.
Why do some leaders drain intelligence while others multiply it?
There’s more intelligence in our leadership teams than seems available to the naked eye. When you lead like a multiplier people can literally get smarter working for you.
A diminisher gets less than half of their teams capability
A multiplier gets more than 90% of their teams capability
A multiplier creates an environment that gives people space to do their best thinking and do their best work.
Are you leading like a genius that knows everything that needs to be done (Diminisher)? Or are you leading in such a way that creates genius in others (Multiplier)?
Everything above was said by Liz Wiseman or are my quick summary of what was said.