A Personal Testimony: A Test of Faith

With the recent tragic earthquakes in Haiti and Chile, I thought I would re-publish my post from Upward Edge entitled: “A Personal Testimony: A Test of Faith.” You can view more posts like this by going to www.upwardedge.com. I would love to hear from you. 

 Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died. … 25 Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Those who believe in me, even though they die, will live….John 11:21, 25. NRSV
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“If you have been here, my brother would not have died.” Have you said that to God? How many times, over and over again? “God, where are you?”
Where’s God when tragedies hit our household, our friend’s household or when we witness the catastrophic events that happen around our globe. God, if you had been here, my brother, my sister, father and my mother would not have died.

Well, let me tell you a secret. God was there and God is always present with our loved ones and with all of humankind when tragedy hits.

God was with my brother “Kenny” when he died at the young age of 28. I saw God throughout Kenneth’s dying. God was there when my father passed. The night before, my father expressed his gratefulness and delight in hearing my voice yet again. God was there when my mother took her last shallow breath. I saw her and my father’s new image; new youthful bodies with my angel eyes in a dream the day she died. God was there when my brother, Calvin left this earth, void of human companionship, but not without the comfort and love of God.

God gave new life to them and God promises to give new life to each of us. God has promised to be “God in the face of Death” (Max Lucado, 2006). God promised that he would be my protector and I repeat often: “the Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want” (Psalm 23:1) as a reminder of my protection and of my protector. God promised that he would be my deliverer: I will be with you to the end of your time (Matthew 28:20).

Yes, God is always there. He is our resurrection, he is our life; all we need to do is believe even at the point of our own death.

Doubts and Uncertainties, Part II

My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from saving me, so far from the words of my groaning? O my God, I cry out by day, but you do not answer, by night, and am not silent…Yet you brought me out of the womb; you made me trust in you even at my mother’s breast. From birth I was cast upon you; from my mother’s womb you have been my God. Psalm 22:1-2; 9-10.

For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. Isaiah 55:8-9

As confusing as the Christian scriptures can be; is it any wonder that we have doubts and uncertainties? Is it any wonder that these scriptures give us the fortitude to gone on; to praise and trust our God?

God, I am glad that you are bigger than my doubts and uncertainties. I am glad that you are the great mystery that keeps me coming back for more. God, I am so glad that your ways are far beyond our comprehension. God I come to trust, that your way is “out of our league [and it is] best to trust [your] benevolence” (Chris Glaser, 1994).

I have come to believe that my doubts and uncertainties will assure me that I will have a lifetime; pardon me, an eternity to experience your love and to become one with you; even as I continually question the uncertainties of this world and the role I play in it. Let’s pray.

God, I am so glad that you are not in a box. Even the Israelites could not contain you. You are far greater than our imagination. You are far greater than the vocabulary we assign to you: infinite, omnipresent, omnipotent. You are the great mystery who understands all and I pray because of that, you will continue to shower us with your grace and mercy as we struggle through this period in our eternity called life. Amen.

Doubts and Uncertainities

Everything is possible for him who believes. Immediately the boy’s father exclaimed, I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief! Mark 9:23b-24 NIV

Doubts and uncertainties; do you have them? I have them all the time. Listen to a few:

God help me keep the faith. Help me not to doubt you. Forgive me for my doubts. Give me the wisdom and the boldness to speak what I believe.

God give people a reason to praise you, to believe in you and to trust you. Yes God, we want those daily miracles. How else are we to believe, to not have doubts?

God, this is one of those days that I don’t know how to pray or feel worthy enough to pray. Forgive me Lord for my doubts and uncertainties; my doubts in you, but above all the doubts that I have in myself.

They say I am created in your image. They say that I am unique and one of a kind. They say that I am valued by you and that I can come to you in spite of my faults; that I am redeemed and accepted by you. They say that I am your ambassador here on earth. But I wonder; how can this be?

God help me to believe in myself. Help me to see what others see in me. Help me not to forget that I am your child, your ambassador. Help me to truly believe that I can do all things if I first truly believe in you and then believe in myself.  Amen.

God’s Vessel

Seek the Lord while he may be found; call on him while he is near. Isaiah 55:6 NIV

 God, as I bare my soul to others, may my doubts give others confidence; may my cry allow others to laugh, and my discomfort allows others to be comforted?

 As I search for you and wait to hear your voice, may others hear your voice through me.

 I thank you God for allowing me to be the instrument, the vessel for others to find their way. I pray that in the process I too will find my way.  Amen

Realizing Our Leadership Potentials

As I was preparing training slides for my next presentation on leadership, I came across two concepts that struck a chord in me. The first concept was coined by Dr. Myles Munroe in his book entitled Becoming A Leader (1993). He used the phrase “out there.” He writes, “While we often think of leaders as “out there,” we need to look within ourselves. Each one of us is a leader who can affect the people and institutions in our own spheres of influence” (p.13).

 When there is a just cause; whom do you look to? Is there anyone better than you “who can get the job done so said that inner voice?  Often the right person is our self.  We need to look within ourselves to get the job done, to improve the employees’ morale, to right the wrong. Who do you have influence with; what changes have been made in the past because of what you said or did? You can do it again. Leaders are not people “out there.” Leaders are ordinary people who accept or, due to circumstances, are thrust into taking charge; and in the process, “bring forth their latent potential, producing character that inspires the confidence and trust of others” (Becoming A Leader, 1993, p.12).

 Now pause and think for a minute. What about that time when you were thrust into a leadership role. Think of the people you influenced. What about those changes that were made due to your efforts and the efforts of those you led. Because of that special journey, you are still seen as a leader and are often called to lead the next adventure whether it is on your job, your neighborhood, a civic affiliation or in your faith community.

 This brings me to the second concept which was coined by John Maxwell. He stated that leadership is a journey. It is a “journey that starts where you are, not where you want to be” (The 360 Degree Leader, 2005, p.274).  Often times we want to get ahead of ourselves. We want to be the CEO of the company, the president or chair of a particular group or the one who will lead the next march on City Hall or Washington.

 Maxwell writes that “you need to have your eyes fixed on your current responsibilities, not the ones you wish to have someday” (p.275). If you are not successful at your current level how can you assure others and yourself that you will be successful and will be “a qualifier for leading at the next level” (p.274)? As discussed in an earlier post, Henry and Richard Blackaby believe that prior small successes can be a good sign post for emerging leaders to take on greater responsibilities and that these successes, along with the person’s life experiences, can greatly affect the kind of leader a person will become (Spiritual Leadership, 2001).

 Have you been there; I know I have? You want the larger role, but at the same time, there are unfinished businesses at your current level of responsibilities. If we take care of our present responsibilities, the future will take care of itself. Greater responsibilities and yes, sometimes a new title, more money, different stressors and headaches will come with your prized endeavor; but it is not your time yet. You have current responsibilities to take care of.

 Leadership is a journey and like all journeys we pack our essentials to assure a safe, but fun trip. But like many journeys there are surprises along the way. Those surprises will not deter us if we do our homework before hand. As it relates to leadership, the leader must know where he wants to go. The leader must have a vision; a vision that usually comes from the leader’s conviction. On this journey, will the leader have followers? The leader needs people who will follow her, protect her and help her realize her vision. The leader and followers are confident about this new journey because of the leader’s success with previous journeys.

 So we see that leadership is not a one time effort. It is a life time journey often prompted by our inner voice to right the wrong, to improve job processes, to enhance our neighborhoods and to strengthen our faith community.

So are you ready to listen to your inner voice and begin your next journey? We are counting on you.

A Life Time of Changes

Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times?” 22 Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but, seventy-seven times. Matthew 18:21-22, the NIV Study Bible.

 They say that cats have nine (9) lives. Often times I feel humankind needs 9+ lives. Unfortunately, we have only this one life to live. However, I believe God gives us a life time of chances to get it right.

 In Psalm 11:7 it reads that God’s business is putting things right (The Message). Thanks to the unselfish sacrifice of Jesus, I am confident God will never give up on us. I am praying that God’s mercy and grace are such that we a have life time to get it right. I am banking on that. In fact, I am banking on God giving us eternity to get it right.

A New Start

I decided to begin this year with a repeat blog I wrote on January 8, 2009 (see www.upwardedge.com.) Faithscape is an opportunity to share our faith journey and its connectedness to servant leadership. Please spend sometime with me this year as we explore new ways to touch people’s lives.

“9 History merely repeats itself. It has all been done before. Nothing under the sun is truly new. 10 What can you point to that is new? How do you know it didn’t already exist long ago? 11 We don’t remember what happened in those former times. And in future generations, no one will remember what we are doing now” (Ecclesiastes 1: 9-11; New Living Translation Bible).

As I read this scripture this morning, I reflected back on why I decided to do this blog. What do I want to do; what do I want to communicate; do I have something new to say? In my journal dated 12/18/08, I wrote: “is it time to “think” about writing that book. All great leaders write books. What do I have to share; what can I share with the world that is unique? How do I speak to the world…maybe a blog! God, I pray that you open my mind to this possibility, amen.”

Today, it hit me again—do I have something new to say? Are the verses above true—has it already been said/written. My wish, my hope is to re-create, to bring new thoughts to old sayings and beliefs; to write about leadership, in particular, “transforming servant” leadership in a new and different way.

As I put my thoughts down on paper in the coming months, I pray that you would dialogue with me and with others as we collectively re-create, offer new insights about service, about transformation, about motivating men and women to become “transforming servant leaders. Let’s pray

Dear Creator, open our eyes to new beginnings, to new insights about you and about our world. I pray that through this blog that a dialogue will begin on how we can build better leaders who have a passion to lead, to serve and to transform our world, our industries and our faith communities in ways so that more of heaven is here on this earth. Amen.