Recovering America’s Vision

I took a recent test to sense my beliefs and values, which puts you as a simulated delegate for the political campaign for the next election that has really already started. My answers were compared against almost two million others who had taken the same test. Assuming the sample was correct when it compared my expectations, I was shocked. We’ve come a long, long way (downhill) from the nation that was birthed here in 1776 and the vision of those founding fathers – some of who gave their lives for a nation that, essentially, now is on a self-destruct course.

What we have today reminds me more of the Israelite nation described in Judges 21:25:

“In those days …. everyone did what was right in his own eyes”.
Judges 21:25 NKJV

This phrase is actually repeated four times in the book of Judges. Sounds like what we call postmodernism today. No absolutes, you just do your own thing. If you have the courage, try reading the tragic stories in Judges 17-19. Read how the tribe of Dan sank into idolatry and disappeared as a part of the Israelite nation that began to emerge with Samuel at this time. In fact, in the book of Revelation the tribe of Dan is not even mentioned as a part of Israel.

How has America begun to look like this? What idol do our national leaders worship? What is is their moral and ethical compass now? The Constitution today has become what the political leaders call a “Living Constitution”, and is trampled on by our leaders over and over again. The First Amendment has been altered so now it is interpreted as exactly the opposite of what the founding fathers intended. Churches have often redefined the Gospel to something Jesus never intended.
David Wilkerson(1), said this of the American Church:

“For the most part, the church today is experiencing widespread spiritual famine: shallow sermons, dead hearers, “lively” worship that is not backed up by righteous living.”(2)

The great historian Toynbee said if the 22 great civilizations, 19 of them died from within. There were no bands playing or flags waving when they died.

Is this America today?

Into the spiritual desert we see at the end of the book of Judges, Samuel is born. As that story begins the Bible tells us at the beginning of 1 Samuel 3 that there was no vision at that time.

“And the word of the LORD was rare in those days; there was no widespread revelation [vision].
1 Sam 3:1-2 NKJV

Not even the priest Eli could hear the word of the Lord. God had to speak to Eli through the child Samuel.

By the end of this single chapter, Samuel is a man and the situation is completed reversed. Now there is Vision, Place (Shiloh), and Purpose.

“So Samuel grew, and the LORD was with him and let none of his words fall to the ground. And all Israel from Dan to Beersheba knew that Samuel had been established as a prophet of the LORD. Then the LORD appeared again in Shiloh. For the LORD revealed Himself to Samuel in Shiloh by the word of the LORD. “
1 Sam 3:19-21 NKJV

This is phenomenal. God used one man to turn an entire nation around in one generation. This also happens today. I think of John Knox, who was imprisoned during the 1540’s for supporting the Protestant Reformation in Scotland. He prayed daily, “Lord, give me Scotland, or I die”. By the time he died in 1572, Scotland had been transformed and the Scottish Parliament had adopted Reformation doctrines.

Today, often spiritual leaders in nations and cities that lead in the transformation process are often called “John Knoxers” for that reason. I think of Julio and Ruth Ruibal who mobilized the pastors in drug-infested Cali, Columbia and led in the transformation process there – at the cost of Julio’s life, who died a martyr. I think in my own city of Portland of Jr. Joe Aldridge, Terry Dirks, Bob Cryder and others who became John Knoxers in my own city in the early nineties, leading prayer summits for the coming of the Holy Spirit in our city. None of these leaders are around anymore, having gone on to their Glory with others. There is nothing “dated” about what God did with those John Knoxers or Samuel, however. God does it today. Last Easter (just a few months ago) in a suburban Portland church, the Holy Spirit swept through that small church and some 24 people came forward and were baptized. Nothing but a tub and water was available and it was cold and raining; but no one could stop what God was doing there that day.

Thomas JeffersonThomas Jefferson was one of our most brilliant and educated Presidents in the history of America. It is said that John F. Kennedy held a dinner in the White House for a group of the brightest minds in the nation at that time. At the dinner Kennedy made this statement. “This is perhaps the assembly of the most intelligence ever to gather at one time in the White House of the exception of when Thomas Jefferson dined alone..”

Jefferson was an Episcopalian and some of his writings indicated a strong leaning to Christianity. He was heavily influenced by the Protestant Reformation as well and philosophy of John Locke. He was very supportive of strong state rights and a minimum of federal government. Here are a few quotes attributed to Thomas Jefferson:

“It is incumbent on every generation to pay its own debts as it goes, a principle which, if acted on, would save one-half the wars of the world.”

“To compel a man to subsidize with his taxes the propagation of ideas which he disbelieves and abhors is sinful and tyrannical.”

And another quote is sometimes attributed to him but no hard evidence has been found in his letters. There are many statements from Jefferson, however, that are close to this and he did believe in what is said in the quote:

“I believe the banking institutions are more dangerous to our liberties than standing armies. If the American people ever allow private banks to control the issue of their currency, first by inflation, then by deflation, the banks and corporations that will group up around the banks will deprive the people of property – until their children wake-up homeless on the continent their fathers conquered.”

Transformation and the necessary change can happen in America, in Portland, in my town. I can still remember a quote Vera Katz (Portland mayor at the time) gave me years ago when I was researching the city. “If this city is ever transformed, it will need to be the churches that do it.”, she said as she challenged a group from local churches. Very insightful wisdom from a Jewish lady. Now that’s a challenge for the local church, of which I am a part. The real transformation, however, always starts in our hearts.

  1. Dave Wilkerson is best known for his book The Cross and the Switchblade. He was the founder of the addiction recovery program Teen Challenge, and founding pastor of the non-denominational Times Square Church in New York. Dave died in an automobile accident in April of 2011.
  2. http://www.worldchallenge.org/en/node/14316

(There is no copyright on this. You may share or backlink as you wish. Thanks to Toni Anderson and Jerry Propst for some of the information here, but the options are my own.)

Biblical Insights on Visioning

God is creating in your life, bringing His Kingdom and establishing His Power and Presence in your city.This creation is not a "past tense". He wants to do it daily in your life. It is our responsibility to see our personal and corporate visions, hear the call to respond to them, and to move on this vision with our spiritual gifts.

The Holy Spirit is both the Envisioner and Enabler. As the Envisioner, the Holy Spirit shows us with Spiritual eyes what God is doing. As the Enabler, the Holy Spirit gives us the power (Dunamis) to bring the vision to pass.

Vision and Prophecy go together. Without a vision, there cannot be prophecy. For example, look at Israel when Samuel was only 12 years old:

"The boy Samuel ministered before the LORD under Eli. In those days the word of the LORD was rare; there were not many visions." 1 Samuel 3:1 NIV

There was no vision in Samuel’s time, neither was there prophecy. By the end of the chapter, Samuel is a man and there is both vision and prophecy.. City leaders must work together in unityto define this vision for the city in clear terms, and then sound
this vision from the church pulpits so that all can hear.

“Again, if the trumpet does not sound a clear call, who will get ready for battle?”t; 1 Corinthians 14:8 NIV

The visions are carried by God’s people in many ways: as a city we carry God’s vision for the city. There are also visions for parachurch organizations, networks, networking organizations, churches, ministries within our churches, and as individuals. There are three differences in the city today, however, in this visioning process:


  1. God is moving much faster today to accomplish His purpose. Christian leaders are recognizing that the visions we carry will almost always happen within our lifetime, not passed to another generation. Prayers are answered in hours, not months.

  2. Networks, consultations, electronic communication (Internet) and tracks are more important than hierarchical structures, conferences, and intentional groups. Structures are failing us more and more because of this accelerated time. Networks, consultations, and tracks permit more ownership of the vision by everyone and
    permits the emergence of servant leadership.

  3. Servant leadership is the only method of managing the networks
    and tracks.
    When there is too much control at the top, there
    is too much inertia and lack of ownership by those of follow.

At the same time, however, the visions we are running on must
be clearly and boldly sounded.


Write down the revelation
and make it plain on tablets
so that a herald may run with it (one can read it when running).
For the revelation [vision] awaits an appointed time;
it speaks [as to kindle a fire] of the end
and will not prove false.
Though it linger, wait for it;
it will certainly come and will not delay.

Habakkuk 2:2a-3 NIV.

burns like a fire

To quote Robert Greenleaf in Servant Leadership:

“The real enemy is fuzzy thinking on the part of good,
intelligent, vital people, and their failure to lead, and to follow
servants as leaders. Too many settle for being critics and experts…In
short, the enemy is strong natural servants who have the potential
to lead but do not lead or who choose to follow a non-servant.”

Jack Dennison at that time with DAWN, in his April (1995) visited Portland,
and spoke clearly and prophetically to the local leaders that a clear
vision for the city needs to be sounded so that the churches can
move specifically in response to that vision. An important aspect
here is to define who gives the vision in the city and where it
is given.

  • Focus on the vision and God will take care of the meantime.
  • God’s vision speaks of the end and will be genuine.
  • Look beyond difficulty and what is happening now to ruin the vision.
  • Let faith be focused on promise (vision).
  • You can live victoriously in the meantime.
  • Sometimes the meantime can be mean.
  • Be faithful in the meantime when we don’t understand; go through difficulties trusting God.
  • Vision is for those not puffed up.
  • It will happen only by God’s means and faithfulness.
  • Who shall separate us from the love of God?
  • Elements: Laying Foundation, Waiting, Doing

The five Biblical Marks of Genuine Revival, as defined by Jonathan Edwards,
are:

  • It exalts Jesus Christ
  • It attacks the powers of darkness
  • It exalts the Holy Scriptures
  • It lifts up sound doctrine
  • It promotes love to God and Man.

Christianity Today, September 11, 1995, PP 30-31

How to Make Your Vision for 2011 a Reality (Part 2)

Another Blog post today that pointed me to vision for the year is Chris Brogan’s from his tweet (@ChrisBrogan) this weekend:http://www.chrisbrogan.com/my-3-words-for-2011/Chris is asking you to pick three words that will be your guiding pillars for what you will focus on in the coming year. Instead of resolutions, which don’t usually help people very much, Chris works hard on using his words as a lighthouse for his actions and efforts through the year. He also has a newsletter as well as being one of the favorites I follow on Twitter.  He will tell you there in this blog post about his three words for the year. What are mine? My three words are:Praise, Prayer, StoriesYou might think vision would be one of the three for me. Not really, as vision is already there. The object here is to make the vision happen. You might think act would be one of my words. Stories (of what God is doing) leads to passion, and passion leads to action. You choose to follow the stories. As one friend says who helps me (incredibly) with my writing: Lead from stories.Look at the first chapter of Nehemiah and see if you find all three of these components as Nehemiah begins what is a major and what looks to us as an impossible task. His friends lead him from stories of they saw. Of the group, Nehemiah is the only one moved to fasting and prayer. He is praising God for what He has already done (1:5). This is a prayer chapter (1:4). He plays back to God the story of what has happened (1:10) and stands on that authority. Then look at the following chapters to see how he helps the Israelites to capture the vision and leads from story (2:17-18). Nehemiah will cast, they must capture. For more on Nehemiah and what he did, see Carl’s book Beyond Illusion, Leading from Reality.What are your three words for the year?

How to Make Your Vision for 2011 a Reality (Part 1)

The hot topic on the web today is vision. One of the best Twitter posts I got was from Brian Dodd (@Brian Dodd) on vision.  Brian has great blog posts on leadership. Follow him if you want great insights on leadership.On November 9th, 2010 Brian was involved in the creation and putting on a conference to help leaders impact their communities more effectively.The keynote speaker of the day was Jeff Henderson, former Vice President of Chic-Fil-A and current campus pastor at Buckhead Church in Atlanta. Jeff gave an incredible message on the subject of vision. Brian says he is  honored to pass his insights along to his followers.Introductory Statements

  1. One of the greatest gifts to the church is Twitter. (Carl can say a loud Amen to that.)
  2. “We’re not here to build a program. Programs start big and die quickly. We’re here to build a movement. It starts slow and overtime builds.”
  3. “I want to help a school that needs the most help and has the best potential.”
  4. I want your cash…all of it. And every bit will go to buy shoes for kids at Woodson Elementary (Atl).” – Henderson told his church on Father’s Day 2007.

Vision Is A Team Sport

  1. We think of vision as solely for the communicators or point leaders. Vision is team sport. It’s football. Vision is for all. It’s not golf. (Carl: or skiing.)
  2. Vision-casters are vision-carriers. Vision-carriers are vision-casters.
  3. “What we need is not new insights. What we need is what we already know.” – Mark Twain
  4. The long-range impact of vision casting depends on the number of vision-carriers moving and carrying the vision forward.
  5. The four words that limit the vision of any organization: “It’s not my job.”

3 Things All Leaders Must Do To Make Vision A Reality’

  1. Cast It
  2. Live It
  3. Celebrate It

I don’t want to be the Good Samaritan.  I want to put street lights on the Jericho Road.  I want to clean the road up.  I want to create a city of peace, goodwill, and love.” – Martin Luther King Jr. as told to Ambassador Andrew Young3 Levels Of Vision Buy-In At Your Church or Organization

  1. Level 1 – People buy-in to the vision in order to benefit from it.
  2. Level 2 – People buy-in to the vision in order to contribute comfortably to it.
  3. Level 3 – People buy-in to the vision enough to give their lives to it.
  • If you’re in the church (or an organization), you’re a vision caster.
  • Your role as a leader is to convince people if they don’t join your movement they will miss out.
  • Your role as a leader is to also move people from Level 1 and 2 to Level 3.
  • Most people in Level 1 are complainers.

What Vision Is NOT

  1. Vision is not limited to a one-time event.
  2. Vision is not information.  Your people are saying ”Don’t inform me. I am already bombarded with information. Inspire me.”
  3. Vision is never urgent until it’s too late.

Prioritizing Vision

  1. Vision must be put on your calendar.
  2. Each day ask “What did I do today to build the business?”
  3. Make people feel uncomfortable with the statement “I did nothing today to build my business.”
  4. What did I do today to cast vision for my church?”
  5. Vision is daily.
  6. Vision is consistent.
  7. Vision not repeated is just a one-time dream.

How To Start A Movement

  1. Start where you are.
  2. Use what you have.
  3. Do what you can.
  4. Know that vision-casters and vision-carriers are great story-tellers.
  5. You have an incredible vision-casting tool called a Thank You card.  My goal is to send three handwritten cards daily…Here’s how you helped make the vision a reality.

I trust these insights will help make your vision a reality in 2011? What have you done previously that has made vision stick and have traction?

Call me Trimtab

You have a vision. As an individual or as a family, maybe you wish to communicate something about a burden you have. You care. You love. Maybe your concern is to find a cure for breast cancer. Maybe to save the whales. Or maybe it’s your church and you want to see people involved with your church’s mission. You want to build community around your vision with others that share that vision. And you want to see change because of this burden you carry in your heart. So you want a web site out there but you think you will be lost in all the web pages that are already out there. That isn’t necessarily true.

Call me Trimtab

I like the quote from Buckminster Fuller:
Something hit me very hard once, thinking about what one little man could do. Think of the Queen Mary—the whole ship goes by and then comes the rudder. And there’s a tiny thing at the edge of the rudder called a trim tab.It’s a miniature rudder. Just moving the little trim tab builds a low pressure that pulls the rudder around. Takes almost no effort at all. So I said that the little individual can be a trim tab. Society thinks it’s going right by you, that it’s left you altogether. But if you’re doing dynamic things mentally, the fact is that you can just put your foot out like that and the whole big ship of state is going to go. So I said, call me Trim Tab.

Etched in stone on Fuller’s gravesite are the simple words, “Call me Trimtab – Bucky”How about you? When are you going to start publishing your dream with a web site or blog? Are you going to let the big old ship of state go by or are you going to stick out your foot? Are you going to sleep through the paradigm change or work with your kids and stick out your feet together as a family? How about building a community and you all stick out your foot together?For more info on visionary websites created for less that $2000, contact Carl at http://www.netadventures.biz.

Why Visions Fail

People are the gatekeepers of change. It is people who have the visions and power, not the structures or geographic locations. The reason most visions fail is that the focus is on the program, agenda, or technology – rather than the people. God trusts His visions to people.

How to Get Your Vision Back (from Rick Warren)

(from Rick Warren’s Message 9/19/2010)Note: You can get the actual message online from Saddleback media center at http://saddleback.com/mc/archives/It’s a good one – you might have a friend that needs to hear this. Send it to them.From the story of Bartimaeus: Luke 18:35-43Context: Jesus is on the way to Jerusalem where He will be crucified in a few days and then rise from the dead. He has a lot on His mind. Near Jericho, a blind Bartimaeus is crying out to Jesus. Look at the steps here as Jesus restores his vision. Same thing today – for you!

  1. Believe Jesus can change the situation. Have hope in Jesus. Bartimeaus was crying out begging for Jesus to help him. Bartimaeus believed, he had hope in Jesus.“And he cried out, saying, ‘Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!’”
  2. Ignore negative voices. He didn’t care what others thought. The crowd told him to shut up. He ignored them.“Then those who went before warned him that he should be quiet; but he cried out all the more, ‘Son of David, have mercy on me!’”
  3. Listen to God’s Call. Jesus called Bartimaeus to come to Him. Jesus calls you.“So Jesus stood still and commanded him to be brought to Him. And when he had come near, He asked him, saying, ‘What do you want Me to do for you?’”
  4. Tell God exactly what you want. God already knows what you need, but you have to vocally tell that to God.“He said, ‘Lord, that I may receive my sight.’”
  5. Receive the gift in faith. “…And immediately he received his sight,…”
  6. Follow Jesus. Bartimeaus starts as by the road. Now he follows Jesus in the road.“…and followed Him, glorifying God. And all the people, when they saw it, gave praise to God.”

Isn’t it amazing? Bartimeaus is the only one (besides Jesus) who could see in this story.In 1989 the doctors told me (Carl) my neural system was destroyed and I would never walk again. I read Acts 3 every day. The doctors couldn’t see. Later, when I walked, my wife asked what I thought when the doctors told me that, she was shocked when I replied that I never heard the doctors say that. What the doctors said was not theologically correct. I walked a little over a year later, defying the doctors that still don’t know how I did it and how I walk today. I didn’t do it – it was Jesus. Listen to Rick’s message: http://saddleback.com/mc/archives/.Then choose to follow.

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