Giving Birth to God’s Vision in 2017

Like most years, 2017 has started with our church praying and seeking the face of God.  For me this is a holy season, as it sets the direction and pace for the rest of the year.  Without prayer, our best plans have their origin in the human heart.  What I need more than anything is a vision that come from God,  that is empowered of God, and is desired of God.  I don’t want God to acquiesce to my plans, I want to submit to His.

Below are some concepts I picked up from Tim Elmore in the early years of ministry as he invested in  my life.  He compared the birth of God’s vision for our lives, with the birth of a child, and the process God uses.  Vision is not an event, but is a process and journey we must patiently walk.

  1. INTIMACY: This is the Place of BEGINNINGSPeople who catch a vision do so because they have spent time in quietness, solitude and reflection.  They have made space in their time, as well as in their souls to hear from the Spirit of God.  Just as a husband and wife will never give birth to a baby unles they come together intimately, a person will never give birth to a vision without experiencing intimacy with God.  This type of intimacy provides the opportunity for God to speak into your life and future.
  2. CONCEPTION: This is the Place where God’s Seed takes ROOTWhen God’s seed is deposited into your life, it must have time to grow.  All the detail are not clear at this junction, and you may have many questions; however, just like a baby will resemble both mom and dad, God’s vision will resemble both you and Him.  This is the most critical time of God’s vision in your life, as too often fear can cause us to abort the vision.  Be okay with not knowing everything, and trust God with the future.   This is the time to pray into the vision.
  3. GESTATION: This is the time of GROWTHGestation often takes the longest.  It is here when we identify with the burden God has place upon us.  Be sure to not confuse burden for a need, with frustration with people.  If God has burdened you, it is because He is raising you to be a champion for the need and/or vision.  God’s vision always meets a need.  SPECIAL NOTE: when a baby is growing inside the mother, it changes the mother dramatically.  The same is true of the vision growing inside of you… it is changing and taking form.
  4. LABOR: This is the most PAINFUL timeWhile labor may not be the longest, it is often the most difficult.  Like a mother, you will experience labor pains.  They may appear in the form of obstacle, doubts in your own mind, or criticism from others.  This is a time to “clear the room” and only allow those who will help you give birth to be closest to you.  You will be tempted to quit, as the struggle is real, but listen to the voice of God’s Spirit cheering you on, saying, “Don’t Quit!  You’re almost there!  It will all be worth it soon!”  The pain produces the offspring (God’s vision).
  5. BIRTH: This is a time of CELEBRATIONLike a new mother, this is the time to celebrate what God has brought forth, and the care and nurture the vision.  Most aspects of the vision will be very dependent upon you in this early stage, or at least dependent upon others working with you.  However, like a newly born babe, this is just the beginning.  It is the launching point for time to come.  Like many mothers, God may continue to deposit additional visions into your soul, so stay Humble and stay Hungry!

As you consider this year, perhaps the above process can help you identify your progress in God’s vision for your life.  God has formed you with a purpose, and has a vision for your calling.  Every person who is born-again in their spirit has been born into a new calling upon their lives.

If you haven’t already, spend extended-intimate time with the Lord, that His vision might be released into your life.

Portrait of a leader by Tim Elmore (2001 Equip Pub.; Atlanta, GA; p. 16-17)

5 Strategies to a Breakthrough Year

Making 2017 a Breakthrough Year means leading yourself (& others) toward breakthroughs in your life (spiritually, relationally, physically, financially & emotionally). Let me ask you a question… WHAT IF 2017 COULD BE THE BEST YEAR OF YOUR LIFE? What would that mean to you, how would things be different, what would the results be for you, your family, and your church. Below are 5 strategies to launching a New Year strong:

1-Review Last Year’s Blessings: It is imperative to begin each year with a heart filled with gratitude. There’s no better way to lead a thankful life than to end a year making a list of everything God has done for you, allowed you to accomplish, every step forward, and every way God has been faithful! During this last week of 2016, take 30-60 minutes to journal the blessings of 2016!

2-Clarify Personal Goals:  This will take much longer, but goals and fresh vision of one’s life must be clarified through a process of discovery.  There are many programs to help you with this process, but whatever system you use, it should point you to your God given purpose, your calling, God’s timing and season in life.  Below are some links that might prove helpful.

3-Travel Together:  Our goals should not be made in isolation, and they certainly are not fulfilled alone.  Consider the most important people in your life (i.e., spouse, family, parent, trusted boss, etc…) and share the appropriate aspirations/goals for 2017.  Ask them for their input, recruit their help, and request that they ask about your progress throughout the year.  Accountability that YOU set up is very helpful.  Besides, this might not just help you move forward, it might be the catalyst they needs as well.  Give it a try!

4-Lead toward Spiritual Breakthrough:  January is the ideal time to launch the New Year with a spiritual emphasis.  From beginning a new Bible Reading Program, and/or starting off the New Year with a season of fasting, it sets something supernatural into motion for the New Year.  REMEMBER, True breakthrough is not just self-improvement, but is God-Improvement (called transformation)!  BTW, this is not improvement of God, just God’s transformation of your life. 

5-Focus on the First 100 Days:  Finally, since an entire 365 days seems somewhat overwhelming, I like to break down the year into 100 day segments.  I know it doesn’t quite equal an entire year, but this schedule provides 1 month break before the next stage of initiatives.  In fact, I would encourage you to aim for the stars the first 100 days of 2017.  If your goal is to lose 25 lbs, why drag it out the whole year?  What if you could radically change your lifestyle and lose those pounds in just 100 days (3 months)? Don’t wait, make things happen as quickly as possible.  The time for change is now!

As you turn the page to a New Year… Create a sense of urgency.  Urgency is the great motivator for change and progress.  Ask yourself the following question:  What is at stake for you, your marriage, your family, your career, etc… if the initiatives or goals are not accomplished?  2017 can be a year of breakthrough to new levels and to new heights!  Let’s lead ourselves and others toward breakthroughs this New Year!  Let’s make THIS year, THE YEAR!

Fail Forward

The legendary college basketball coach John Wooden is recorded saying, “Failure isn’t fatal, but failure to change might be” – John Wooden.   Whether in your spiritual life, your job/vocation, a relationship or any other experience, failing does not make us a failure.  However, when we refuse to change or examine ourselves, failure will become a pattern.

Here’s a brief motivational video reminding us about those who many would consider successful, but it didn’t start that way.  It is not a matter of if we will fail, but when.  So, if failure is a necessary experience, then we should learn to fail forward.  Enjoy!!!