Friday, August 29, 2014

Yea, Though I Walk...Abundance


I have been thinking a lot lately about seasons of life.  Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 expresses perfectly the balance of those ups and downs.  There is a time for every experience and emotion as we walk this journey.

My mother is 101 years old and though her mobility has declined markedly in the last few years her mind stayed sharp.  Until a few weeks ago.

In the past couple of weeks we have watched her mind slip away at a rapid pace.     God has made it clear to my siblings and me that she needs more care than we can provide, so we are on a quest to find a suitable care facility.  So far no doors have been open there.

I've been spending time in recent days thinking about this process of aging.  We begin aging from the time we are born.  At first that brings growth, but all too soon it turns to decline.  If God grants us enough years of life, we all experience this for ourselves and for our loved ones.  I'm convinced this is part of God's mercy as He uses it to loosen our hold on earth and help us reach for our real home in heaven.

Likewise, the seasons of struggle and hardship in our lives are God's "severe mercy" to draw us to Him and to make the seasons of bounty and abundance all the sweeter.

The winter/ early spring of 2014 were months of real struggle for my walk in Operation Christmas Child.  I couldn't discern if God wanted us to have a large packing party this year.  As I wrestled with that decision and decisions about retirement from my job as a school nurse it felt like walking through a valley...or a desert...or whatever simile you want to use for those times when you wish you could just take a break from life.

Fast forward to this summer.  My team and I finally made a decision around Easter time to trust God to provide for another large packing party this year.  Our storage container was nearly empty at that time.

Now--especially in the past two weeks--His abundance is flowing over us.  Part of the reason I've been a slacking blogger lately is because I spend so much time managing the blessings.

The 165 new shirts in the picture above were donated by local YMCAs and God opened doors for other organizations to donate also.  Our city paper published a letter to the editor I wrote about our need for stuffed animals and the phone keeps ringing with so many being contributed.  Abundance.

In the past two days our team members have brought in over 600 stuffed animals and nearly 300 major anchor items.  Abundance.

Our crayons have all been purchased, a shipment of 20,000 pens are on their way, and we're trusting God for just 3,789 more clothing/anchor items and 9,251 stuffed animals.  That may seem like a lot, but the way God is moving assures me He has already accomplished it.  Abundance.

We finally got approval from our church for dates secured to host the packing party (phew--glad that's taken care of) and now we trust Him for volunteers and details and deliveries.  No need to worry, though.

Our God of abundance will deliver.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Willow Creek Global Leadership Summit -- Louie Giglio


(Here at the Willow Creek Global Leadership Summit in an effort to improve my leadership as a volunteer with Operation Christmas Child.  Learn more about OCC at www.samaritanspurse.org/occ )  Closing session with Louie Giglio


I am a pastor of a new church plant in Atlanta GA and one of the things we say a lot is the doorposts in the Kingdom of God are humility and honor.  Honor is giving thanks to the people who have made it possible for us to be where we are.  (called Bill Hybels up on stage)  As a leader there were times I wanted to quit and, to me, Bill Hybels has always been bullet proof.  He's the smartest, most innovative guy I've ever seen.  On behalf of all those impacted by the GLS in its 20 year history I want to thank you for not giving up and for paying the price and being a great leader.

When I think about the GLS I think they've done a good job of branding with the logo of the mountain.  I want us to think about the mountain today.  I've only climbed one mountain--the Matterhorn.  I wouldn't suggest this as a first mountain to climb.  What I want us to do today is think about what God has called us to do and I want us to leave with the confidence that no matter what God has called us to do we are going to succeed in Jesus' name.

What is your mountain?  What are the heights to which you wish to ascend?  We want to send you out with the confidence that not only YOU can make it to the summit but that you can take others with you.

Sometimes we don't even know what we're doing.  A lot of times as a leader I feel like that but I don't want that to stop me from letting God do something great.

Can we be honest?  Sometimes you just don't know what to do.  I'd like to put a few ideas into play to lead us out into action.  You don't need to know everything about how to get up the mountain in front of you to take the next step.

Life is short

--a leader has to breathe this in every moment.  We have all these preconceived notions about how long we will live but we constantly need to feel an urgency about the great things of life.  We have to carry that sense of urgency with us.  The stakes are too high for us to die with a small vision.

We have to continually cultivate this idea that life is short.  When you stand at the Matterhorn you look up at the mountain and think "I don't see a stairway and I don't know how this is going to work."   You train for a week and get checked out by a guide and then hike to a small camp.  Then at 4 am you wake up and set out on a sprint to the top.  It's 3X the Empire State Building in four hours.  If you aren't on the summit by a certain time you don't succeed.  

Edward Wimper who was the first to conquer it set out to do what couldn't be done.  We need to say "no" to the status quo and do what we think can't be done.

God is Big

All of life is to bring glory to God.  Finishing well is a big idea.  But the biggest idea is believing that Jesus is the greatest thing in time and eternity and everything is about Him and His glory.  When we couple the fact that life is short with the fact that it's all about Jesus, it propels me to....

Take the Next Step

You get up the Matterhorn one step at a time.  That's the only way to the top.  I want to encourage you that you can do it and also
--YOU can't do it.   Unless God does it, it isn't going to happen.

We don't have to worry about how to get to the summit we just need to believe His power is sufficient to take the next step and move toward the goal He has given us

Let me tell you about three of my hardest steps--

For 7 of the 10 years we were at Baylor in Texas my father was disabled and my mother had to care for him.

After 9 years we thought we would go to Atlanta and on the last day of the ministry --  5/1/95 -- we buried my dad.

We thought, "What just happened?" but we went to Atlanta anyway and after 3 months God called us to start a ministry to campuses across the nation and Passion was born.  Born out of frustration and confusion.

Fast forward to January, 2014.  I was asked to do the invocation at a bowl game that and stood on the logo of the sponsor  --  Chick-fil-A.  Back in 1964 my Dad created that logo.  After that bowl game a team of people came in and in less than 24 hours transformed that arena into a gathering called Passion 2013.  I got to proclaim Jesus to 64,000 college age young people and the whole time I was preaching my dad's logo was under my feet.  I knew that God knew that in the valley of the shadow of death something was going to bloom that was going to blow up a lot of stuff for the glory of God.  When everything looks like it's off the rails, embrace the darkness because God is preparing to use you for His glory.

When we take a step sometimes we're stepping through the darkness but we remember we serve a big God and there will be a day when we thank God for bringing us through that valley.

In 2008 one night at 2 am I was having convulsions and my face and arm went numb.  I had a blood pressure of 180/160.  Some antidepressants and five months of being out of commission later.,,  After some anxiety attacks God pulled me up out of the pit from the weakest place I've ever been in and gave me a song in the night until I could join the daylight.

I learned as a new pastor who only had a flock of 20 people that if I didn't know it was God and not me I wasn't going to make it.  God wanted me to know-- you CAN but you CAN'T.   There are no saviors attending this summit.  It is God within who empowers us.  

We are heading into shutting down our church for two Sundays for a sabbath rest to affirm that what we do depends on God and no one else.

Five days after speaking at the dome for the bowl game I was on TV because I was called a hater of people.  I built my whole life on serving people and all of a sudden I was called a hater of people.  I had agreed to pray for the president's inauguration.  I knew some people wouldn't like me but all of a sudden my life was filled with reporters.  I wanted to quit that day.  I wanted to disappear.   My wife and I hid in our bedroom.  I'd never been through something like that before.

What we learned is it's a luxury to do some things but it's a necessity to make Jesus and His glory famous.  So we just backed out of the fray and ended up having that galvanize our calling.  We went on to take the next step to make Jesus known.

When you take a step you're tested and refined.  The next thing that happens is you learn God is able.  Then you learn humility and that God is enough.

"When I am weak, I am strong" -- when you go through the valley you learn that God is enough.  His grace is sufficient.

I don't know what your step is today but God's grace is enough for you.

It might be an ordinary step.  It might be a bold step.  But God will give you the grace to take the step He is calling you take.

This makes us hungry for the very LAST step when we fall into the arms of Jesus.  Falling into the arms of Jesus is our goal.

In Wimper's party they all made it to the summit but four died on the way down.  Our goal is to take the next step and the next until we get to that last step and fall into the arms of Jesus.  THEN we will have what we loved the most.
That's the extraction point for us.

A leader can't have a plan B.  A leader has to make it to the finish line.  You have to be committed to going all the way into the arms of Jesus.   Jesus said come and extract me from the tomb.  No plan B.  One extraction point.  In that moment Jesus became alive and gave life to everyone who trusts in Him.

The plan for us is not to cash out because we have fear or might fail.  We are not going to cash out because of hardship.  We are going to keep taking steps in the grace of Jesus Christ and nothing else matters.

It's not hype.  It's called resurrection.  Jesus said, "Do you want to join me?  It's not going to be easy and you CAN'T do it....oh but you CAN do it."  When you fall into His arms no price will be too high and no sacrifice too much and you will say, "I'm so glad I didn't quit.  I'm so glad I kept going up my mountain."

Don't quit.  Don't stop walking in the confidence that Christ is enough to fulfill everything He has called you to do.


Willow Creek Global Leadership Summit -- Tyler Perry


(Here at the Willow Creek Global Leadership Summit in an effort to improve my leadership as a volunteer with Operation Christmas Child.  Learn more about OCC at www.samaritanspurse.org/occ )

When Leadership Meets Inspiration :  Interview with Tyler Perry

Bill:  I am so grateful you agreed to come and spend time with us.  I had the opportunity to spend time at Tyler Perry's studio in Atlanta.  It's like a city.  The other thing that becomes apparent is this guy is a creative machine.  He puts out more shows than almost any other human being.  You have the creative side and then the business side.  Which skill set comes more naturally to you.

Tyler:  I think they're twins in the same space in my head.  I had a lot of trauma growing up and that helped me create these amazing worlds.  When the Bible says "All things work together for good," this is what I mean.  I also watched my father build houses for years.  He would be so happy when he came home on Friday and he had made $700 or $800.  Then I'd watch the man who owned the house sell it for $100,000.  I wanted to be the man who sold the house not the man who built the house.

Bill:  Where do you go to write and still run your organization?  How do you do this?

Tyler:  I try to keep the two separate.  I try to give the artist  enough space to create.  I will dedicate 3-4 months to write while being in the office only 2 days per week.

Bill:  If a very talented artist says I can't stick to a schedule or a budget because of my creativity, what would you say?

Tyler:  I'd say, "It's nice to meet you.  Good luck with your struggles."  If you're a great artist you still need to respect other people's time.   If you go back to the root of who you were before you became a superstar you'll get over that.

Bill:  How do you foster creativity?

Tyler:  For me it's important to clear the noise.  The same thing is true for my prayer life.  I try not to just write a story but to leave people with a message.

Bill:  You have a large campus that looks like a city.  You have an employee who was so motivated and when I asked him how long he'd worked for you he said,"Six years and I hope I can work for him for the rest of my life."  How do you inspire that?

Tyler:  I was always the underdog so when I created this world in Atlanta I wanted to make it welcoming to everyone.  Sometimes I will pass over the most qualified and hire the person with the best attitude.

Bill:  I could feel that with your staff.   You really were not set up to succeed in life.  Your dad beat you, then your mom would take you to church.

Tyler:  I was born into this family.  My father was a functional alcoholic who married my mother when he was 21 and she was 16.  They had grown up with so much fear.  My father despised me because I was an artist.  My father would drink and start to fight with my mother and I would get beat while trying to protect her.  But every Sunday she would take me to church and be so lifted up and I said, "I want to know this God who makes my mother so happy."  She died in 2009 and that was very difficult but I know God doesn't make any mistake.  Without her I don't know where I'd be.  What she gave me has sustained me through everything and that's my faith in God.

Bill:  One of the best things I ever read about forgiveness came from Tyler Perry.  You said, "It takes a tremendous amount of energy to get through abuse but it takes just as much energy to forgive."

Tyler:  You can't just hit a switch and it goes away.  You give up the hope of change until you work through forgiveness.  The person who hurt you still has power over you until you forgive them.

Bill:  One of the characters that you created is Madea--this crusty, sassy wisdom figure.

Tyler:  Madea is based on my aunt.

Bill:  You created her and use her very adroitly to get messages across that most people don't see coming at them.

Tyler:  I wanted to do a play with a message like forgiveness and love.  One day I was on stage as Madea and things got really quiet as the audience was listening.  Very difficult subject matter can be put into a comedy.

Bill:  When I was preparing for this I watched all the Madea movies.  Then you also do another genre as well -- one called "Good Deeds" that talks about faithfulness in marriage and the socioeconomic divide.   In that film you're the owner of a large company and you interact with a lower-level employee.

Tyler:  Having lived in both social classes, I wanted to show the differences and not to judge someone who's going through hard times.

Bill:  Even as we're meeting there's a new round of racial tension in our country.  What's your take on that.  How do we find our way ahead.

Tyler:  It's not going to happen overnight.  Every generation gets a little better.  When I grew up and started to realize that people are just people I saw we're more alike than different.  We need to see we all have the same struggles and issues.  My hope is that this next generation will be different.  It is much better than it was.

Bill:  Another thing that might be tough to talk about is how many critics you have.  I think you have more than I do.  How do you deal with your critics?  Does it still sting?

Tyler:  I was so frustrated.  I asked staff not to put any critics in the front row.  At one show two critics gave opposite reviews of the same show so I realized it's a matter of personal opinion.  I'd rather focus on the 12 million people on Facebook who focus on the positive.  The Bible says "You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies" so I'll just let my enemies watch me eat.

Bill:  Let's talk about charities you support.  What drives your philanthropy?

Tyler:  I'm my mother's son.  She had a heart for giving and I believe to whom much is given much is required.  At first I had so much guilt about making money that I gave it all away.  Then I got over that and became more intentional about giving.

Bill:  As we start to wrap things up can we talk about church. We had a very interesting talk about this in your office.  You are a devoted follower of Christ but you have a tough time participating regularly in a local church.

Tyler:  Because of the level of money you make there's a level of expectation of giving and that's a complete turn-off to me.  I don't want to put myself in a position where I have to defend or push away so sometimes it's easier to stay home and watch online.  I wish as celebrities we could just go lie on the altar and there be no judgment.  I once took a famous person to church and she started to cry in church and it was reported she had a nervous breakdown.  But I'm not giving up on it.

Bill:  I would just say to pastors, ask your congregation to leave celebrities in peace.   One last question--because you are a Christian and have this incredibly powerful medium--30 years from now what kind of legacy do you hope to have left at the end of your career.

Tyler:  My aunt said people may forget what you said to them but they won't forget how you made them feel.  I hope 20 years from now someone will see one of my movies and be uplifted and feel good.

Willow Creek Global Leadership Summit -- Ivan Satyavrata


(Here at the Willow Creek Global Leadership Summit in an effort to improve my leadership as a volunteer with Operation Christmas Child.  Learn more about OCC at www.samaritanspurse.org/occ )  Ready to hear Ivan Satyavrata speak on

The Power Paradox

I want to thank you for your humble willingness to listen to voices from the majority world.  There is no institute on our planet as vitally connected as the church.  70% of India's 1.3 billion population is under the age of 35.

Can anything good come out of Calcutta?  Very little good is said about Calcutta in history.  Calcutta is an exciting place to live in.  Its people are beautiful.  Some visitors find the sights and sounds of people living on the street oppressive.  Others to their surprise soon fall in love with the city.

Some visitors ask, "How do you live with the burden of the need around you?"  Calcutta has 80 million people and 1/3rd of the world's poor.  To date just 1 in 1,000 call Jesus lord.

How do you keep from feeling overwhelmed with the feeling of powerlessness?

Power is neutral--neither good nor bad--it is simply the potential to move reality and make something happen.  Leaders manage power.  It's what they use to make things happen.  There is no such thing as leadership without power.

How should leaders manage the power that comes with it?

Paradox--a concept or reality that combines seemingly contradictory features
John 13:1-5 -- (washing of the disciples' feet) -- the power paradox is vividly on display here.  Jesus knows He has come from God and is returning to God but He assumes the role of a powerless slave.

A leader must be able to wield power, real power, in order to lead effectively.  She must, however, be willing to be made powerless.

The knowledge of God in Christ is the ultimate power.  How do I share the knowledge of truth without imposing power?  The power paradox causes us to uphold truth passionately while allowing others to dissent.

Knowledge power can fill us with intoxicating pride that gives us a high, blinds us to reality, and makes us a slave.  Jesus knew He had all things under His feet but He holds a scepter in one hand and a towel and basin in the other.

How am I stewarding my knowledge power?  When you go home tonight and look into your heart, ask yourself, "Am I holding the towel and basin as tightly as I hold the scepter of power?"

A leader's power lies in her ability to influence people.  Great leaders ask, "How can I use my power to make change today?"  Jesus refused to use power to manipulate people--even Judas.

II Samuel 23-- David was longing for water and two of his soldiers brought it to him.  He refused to drink it and poured it out as an offering to the Lord.  That's what made David such a great leader.  Great leaders refuse to use intimidation for control.   Every leader has people power.  How are you using it?  The greatest gift you can give to your followers is to create a safe place from which followers can rise to greater heights of achievement.

Kingdom Power -- How does Jesus respond to evil?  He confronts the forces of injustice but he lets evil infiltrate his band through Judas and instructs His followers to endure evil.  How do we apply this to all the injustice on our planet?

God's people pray "Thy Kingdom come,"  So what do we do?  We act.  We use the Kingdom power at our disposal to invade the darkness.  We dare not do otherwise.  On the other hand, we are patient and resolute in the face of the mystery of evil--when the godly prosper and the faithful suffer and prayers seem to go unanswered.

Those who work in God's name among the needy must embrace the power paradox to have a calm, sustaining grace.  I do not have to be a Christian "terminator" who singlehandedly wipes out evil.  I may feel powerless but then comes a moment of truth--an exploding realization--"therefore I will boast more gladly of my weakness; for when I am weak then I am strong."

The true secret of any great leader's power is this:  when you feel the weakest; that is when you are the STRONGEST.

The other part of this paradox is that the power we possess resides in jars of clay.  Leaders who finish well and leave a living legacy are those who remember their power comes from God and is to build up not to destroy.

Are you using your power to serve the poor and fight against evil?  Leaders who embrace the power paradox are a unique breed--having nothing yet possessing everything.  Weak champions.  Dependent conquerors.  Meek inheritors of the earth.

I ask all those within the sound of my voice to ask God to make us all just such leaders.



Willow Creek Global Leadership Summit -- Erica Ariel Fox

(Here at the Willow Creek Global Leadership Summit in an effort to improve my leadership as a volunteer with Operation Christmas Child.  Learn more about OCC at www.samaritanspurse.org/occ )  Erica Ariel Fox speaks on

Winning From Within

Negotiation is one of the most fundamental skills for leaders.  Most training deals with how to negotiate with other people.  I want to talk about negotiation with ourselves--how we get in our own way and miss out on some of life's most meaningful opportunities.

Have any of you ever made a plan and in the moment did something else?

Your performance gap is the distance between what you do at your best and what you actually do in real life practice.

As a leader you need to identify your gaps and work to close them.

One way to explore how to close this performance gap involves looking at yourself in a new way.  Most of us think of ourselves as singular but another way is to look at yourself as plural--Walt Whitman said, "I am large.  I contain multitudes."  Each one of us is more like an orchestra than a soloist.  I like to think of these multiple parts as inner negotiators.

The Big Four (this is your own inner top team)
The Dreamer (inner CEO)
The Thinker (inner CFO)
The Lover (inner VP of HR )
The Warrior (Your Inner COO)

The Dreamer--creates possibilities; sets strategic vision; senses a path forward; Gives direction -- look for the dream beneath the dream.  Is there a dream in me that I've left behind?  Is there a dream I've abandoned because it didn't happen in the specific way I imagined?

The Thinker--Clarifies Perspectives; Analyzes Data; Manages risk;  Considers Consequences -- Find some data about evaluating risk

The Lover--Cares about People; feels emotions; manages relationships; collaborates with others. -- Have a practice before you go into a tough meeting and call the name of someone you know and love into your heart.

The Warrior--Catalyzes Performance; Takes action; Reaches goals; Speaks hard truth-- Find some places where you're saying "yes" today and practice saying "no"

These four roles need to work together.




Willow Creek Global Leadership Summit--Joseph Grenny

(Here at the Willow Creek Global Leadership Summit in an effort to improve my leadership as a volunteer with Operation Christmas Child.  Learn more about OCC at www.samaritanspurse.org/occ )  Joseph Grenny speaks on

Mastering the Art of Crucial Conversations --

The power of a group is the function of the purity of its motives.

I want to share a principle of leadership and of life that shapes your world.  If you consider yourself a leader, this will define you.

The most crucial conversation of my life took place on December 28, 2009.  I met Patrick when he was 12 years old.  He was a scout and I was a scout leader. He disappeared after a couple of years and one of Patrick's friends said he thought he was doing drugs.  Ten years later I opened the door to a bedraggled guy who I finally recognized as Patrick.  I brought him in and dropped him on the couch and he poured forth a story of addiction and prison time.  Then he said he wanted to turn his life around.  We made a plan and he got a job and started working.  Later I co-signed for a loan so he could get a truck then later he disappeared again.  A few months later my home was burglarized.  A few months later it was burglarized again and security cameras caught Patrick breaking in.  A few months later I saw him along the road and he got in my car. I took him back home and we began to talk.

Are there moments of disproportionate influence that dramatically change the outcome of a person or an organization?

We've found there are moments defined by three dimensions that have a huge influence:

1)  There is an issue that is very high stakes
2)  You come into these moments expecting opposing opinions
3)  You have strong emotions

Think of the name of someone about whom you've drawn a negative conclusion.    There's nothing wrong with having concerns with other people; the challenge is how we handle them.

Big Idea #1 -- The Principle of Crucial Conversations

Anytime you find yourself stuck, stop and ask;  "What's the crucial conversation we're either not holding or not holding well?"

If it's not possible to have fewer crucial conversations without having a meaningless life, then we need to learn have the conversations.

Options:
1)  You can talk it out
2)  You will act it out which will provoke behavior in response

The myth we believe from a young age:  You often have to choose between telling the truth and keeping a friend.

Progress begins when we as leaders start to unwind that myth.  Your job as a leader is to monitor, lead, and measure the conversations.

Three crucial moments in churches:

1)  Performance problems with volunteers or staff
2)  Members who are struggling with sin or disconnecting from the church
3)  Concerns with pastors

Crucial conversations are either a pit or a path upward.  Crucial conversations can become a path to intimacy when we respectfully and candidly express our concerns.

The Crucial Difference:  Those in the top quartile raising these concerns are:
73% better new member growth
65% better staff strength
100% better in financial health

Identify the 2-3 most crucial conversations for your organization and measure progress.

The vital behavior that enables most any positive organizational outcome is CANDOR at moments of acute emotional and political risk.

Individual influence, teamwork, productivity, marriage success, diversity, quality, safety all depend on ability to manage crucial conversations.

Seven Crucial Skills
1.  Start with Heart
2.  Learn to Look
3.  Make it Safe
4.  Master My Stories
5.
6.
7.

When you're in "that moment" what do you say first?
You have 2 tasks in the "hazardous half minute" -- If you do these 2 things there's a 90% chance you'll be heard.

Ingredients of Safety
Mutual Purpose -- The Entrance Condition -- You know that I care about your goals.
Mutual Respect--The Continuance Condition--You know that I care about you.

Candor is Never the Problem -- People NEVER become defensive about what you're saying.  People become defensive because of what they think is your intent.

The myth that we can't both tell the truth and keep a friend is at the heart of our problem with having the crucial conversations.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Willow Creek Global Leadership Summit -- A Grander Vision

"
(Here at the Willow Creek Global Leadership Summit in an effort to improve my leadership as a volunteer with Operation Christmas Child.  Learn more about OCC at www.samaritanspurse.org/occ )  Ready to hear about "A Grander Vision" from Don Flow, Allen Catherine Kagina, and Wilfredo De Jesus --

Bill Hybels:  All my life I've been intrigued by people who live at a higher level than their peers.  I call this the "Grander Vision".  For the last two decades I've watched Willow people try to integrate their faith into their work world.  Some of what I've seen isn't pretty.  Many simply give up trying--they have their Sunday faith, their private faith--but don't integrate it into everyday life.

In this session you will hear from 3 leaders who did not give up on the Grander Vision.  They will tell you this is not easy but challenge us to keep trying.

Don Flow --
I've known Bill for nearly 30 years and I thank him for conversations we had on the critical importance of leaders sustaining a deep intimacy with Christ.

How does your faith affect every aspect of your business? -- Work is a place that Chist has called me to--to exercise faith, to bring hope, to create a culture that participates in the redemptive work of Christ in the world-

--through prayer
--through leadership
--through the company culture
--how we relate to customers

My day begins with prayer for our company to be a place that's a signpost for the Word of God.  I pray for specific people at work, to enter into their lives and to pray for their lives.  If I don't start my day like that, I don't have the ability to live love and bring hope

Love should animate Christian leaders.  I need to learn to share the lives of the people I lead.  There's a direct correlation with my intimacy in Christ and my intimacy with others.

I'm called to be a person of truth and grace and not self-seeking.  The company will not be more truthful than I am or more graceful than I am.  This is a high calling and I fail every day but we live under the grace of Christ.

I'm responsible for the culture of my company.  It can be toxic or life-enhancing.

Covenant with our customers -- always tell the truth, do the right thing, keep our promises  (do not take advantage of customers and intentionally limit our profit on car sales)
Community with one another--creating a culture that's inclusive and see each as a member of the body--fitness centers; $3000 college tuition per year per child; flex time;  personal emergency grants to employees; celebrate lives of employees
Commitment to our community--investing in each area of the community; each dealership takes on projects in their communities;  employees who volunteer in the community are paid for their time

What does a business look like in the fullest sense?  -- How much of the curse can be reversed?

We were given a calling in the world--the power to organize all of creation.  Without the fall every person's gifts would have been utilized for the common good.  The world is not what it was supposed to be but the New Testament makes it clear that Jesus Christ changed everything.  It's the role of the church to help raise our visions back.

We are called to be people who live by the vision of reweaving the broken world.  We're to do so in the manner of Jesus.

Employees evaluated on the acronym SERVE

Show Respect
Earn Trust
Reach for Perfection
Value Input
Energize Others

Allen Catherine Kagina--

Most of you have paid your taxes--maybe grudgingly.  I work for the Uganda Revenue Authority and God has done incredible things there.

In 2013 Africa was the world's fastest growing continent.
World Bank expects most African countries will reach middle income status by 2025
An estimated 58% of people in the region were living on less than $2 per day in 2000 but poverty rate is declining
Why is a continent that seems to be doing so well also so poor? -- corruption

My story is the story of how God changed one of the most corrupt institutions in Uganda.  Before 2004 the police and the revenue authority fought for #1 and #2 as the most corrupt.  In 2004 the job I now hold became vacant and I was naive enough to believe God could change anything.  My friends and I had been praying God would change this organization.  I was angry that nothing was happening.  But I believe when you bring God in there can be change.

We began reform looking at two things--
--integrity
--competence

We decided to ask all employees to apply again for their jobs.  We terminated all employees and gave them two months' notice to reapply.  Through six months of interviews they rehired and became a cleaner and more competent organization.  Things like this have to happen if you want to deal with corruption.

We went to the taxpayers and asked what kind of service they wanted.  We asked to serve the taxpayers.  We built online systems for paying taxes and also funded tax education so people would understand their rights.  We then rebranded--cut off old logos and colors and then went into the community to do service.  We began to build trust among the people.

Over the years God has invaded the tax authority and that has resulted in revenue growth of 317%.  God has invested so much in Africa.  We have so many resources.  We just need to get the people to do the right thing.

People who have worked with us have been recruited to head large companies and other civic authorities.

This was always God's idea because He wanted us to serve the people of Uganda and wanted the people and communities to be developed.  I am so convinced that if we will invite God into the public arena and into our churches that God will take over and we'll begin to see better societies.

Wilfredo De Jesus--  (My daughter attended Wilfredo's church in Chicago and we enjoyed worshiping there a number of times.)

In the year 2002 I was approached by the police commander of Chicago because of the prostitution problem.  The church began by praying.  We cannot allow prayer to be a crutch not to do anything.  I told my wife that 600 women were arrested for prostitution and I feel God wants us to buy a farm.

Went to the church and said, "Somebody has a farm.  Give it up!"  After 8 months a woman came to me and said her relative who had passed away had a farm.  The church bought it and 500 women have been rescued from prostitution and human trafficking.

You have to trust God to meet all your needs.  Once the condition of your community is revealed to you, you must move to action.  Ezekiel 22:30 -- Who will stand in the gap? No one was found.

Gaps exist all over in our communities.  God is still asking who will stand in the gap.  As pastors and lay leaders we must engage our community.  Not only those who come to your church but your entire community.

How do I see the entire community?  Do what Jesus did.  Sit with the lost.  Converse with the lost.  Jesus went toward the lost.

Wilfredo told a worker to "Go hire five prostitutes."  He paid them all and then told them "I want you to come with me."  For me what's sacred is the message not the method.  I took the five women into the church and we had linens and candles and roses and for an hour we served them and told them about Jesus.  At the end, through tears, they returned the money.  Some of those women are involved in ministry now.

We must not be afraid to take our faith into our community.  Fear is the opposite of faith.  Reminder of Nehemiah who asked the question, "How's Jerusalem?"  If you're not going to do anything about the answer, then don't ask.  Nehemiah knew he had to do something--with revelation comes responsibility.  Here's what Nehemiah did

1)  He prayed -- he wept and cried for the people;  80% of the world's population lives on $10 a day--there's a gap
2)  He planned -- planning is crucial.  You've got to write it down.  How many of us have been in the huddle for five years.  When is it we're going to do what God has called us to do.  We've gotta get out of the huddle.
3) He proceeded --You have to be willing to sacrifice.  (Wilfredo asked the Mayor of Chicago for two ambulances to take to Dominican Republic.  He was given them!)
4)  He persuaded -- The moment you decide to stand in the gap there will always be persecution.  Nehemiah was a lay person.  This is the season to release our lay people into the gaps in our community to engage the problems.

Nehemiah asked, "How is Jerusalem?"  Ask that in your community today.  That question is relevant regardless of where you live.

Courage is an inner resolution to go forward despite all the obstacles; cowardice is submissive surrender to circumstances. --Martin Luther King

Bill Hybels:  There's a reason God made you.  There's a reason He wired you the way you are.  Something important in this world will be left undone unless you put your hand to it.  There's a Grander Vision somewhere in the world with your name on it.  Someday you will say, "I was born to do this."

"This is the place where my deep gladness meets the world's great need"--Fredrick Buechner

Are you living out the Grander Vision that God has designed for you?  Many of you are--you understand your piece in His greater story.  However, I would guess that a large percentage of you still wander around every day and wonder, "Is this all there is?"  "Will my life ever be used for a higher purpose?"

Look at Ephesians 2:10 one more time.  "We ARE God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them."

The satisfaction you're looking for is never going to come through self-gratification.  Over time, find God's bidding for your life.  Do it by faith.  Serve people joyfully and indiscriminately and the satisfaction your heart yearns for will follow that.  I bet the farm of my life on this and it's true.

For some of you, safety still matters too much.  Some of you are bankrupt when it comes to satisfaction.  It's been so long since you felt it you even wonder if it could be felt.  God loves you and He didn't mean for you to feel bankrupt.  There's a life for you to live and it's truly life.  God made you on purpose for a purpose and when you get in synch with that purpose you will feel it to your toes.

There's not an accidental human being in the mind of God.  You were created for a Grander Vision.  How do I find it?  It's you putting your hand in God's hand and taking a step of faith to see if that's the direction God wants you to go.  You try out various purposes and take that step by step walk of faith and it unfolds.  But you must start.  You must take the step.