Finding a Vision Worth Chasing

On Sunday we looked at how Nehemiah found a vision worth chasing. He wants to build the wall of Jerusalem, to heal a people, and to bring dignity back to the land. I think many of us want similar visions. We might not want to build a wall but we want to do something lasting, that has a legacy, and changes lives. So the question is where do you begin? How do you find God’s vision that’s specific to you?

Well I think the answer is simple. You start praying and paying attention. The first step is to pray. Start asking God to show you where your life should be going. Start asking God to reveal to you what you should be giving your life to and then start looking. But just don’t think of what you want to get rid of, think of what you want to create. Peter Senge writes, “Most adults have little sense of real vision. We have goals and objectives, but these are not visions. When asked what they want many adults will say what they want to get rid of. They’d like a better job – that is, they’d like to get rid of the boring job they have”. The point is Nehemiah didn’t want to just get rid of his job, he wanted to give himself to creating a whole people. Nehemiah wanted to be part of creating something, not just getting rid of something in his life. Nehemiah was given a burden to change the state of Israel. And this is often how visions begin: as burdens.

So start paying attention to your feelings and thoughts. Are there things that grab your heart, break your heart, that you want to create, or stir your desires? Here are some of the questions I ask:

  • What passions has God give me?
  • When I look out in my life what grabs me?
  • If I could be doing something what would it be?
  • What do I want to change around me?

Who knows what God might want  to do with you. Maybe it’s for you to give your time and energy to save your marriage, to build a new business that values people and the planet, maybe it’s to start a ministry, maybe it’s to make people whole and healthy, maybe it’s to launch your kids well. The possibilities are endless, but ask God what do you want to create through with me.

Donald Miller writes this, “The ambitions we have will become the stories we live. If you want to know what a person’s story is about, just ask them what they want. If we don’t want anything we are living boring stories, and if we want a Roomba vacuum cleaner, we are living stupid stories. If it won’t work in a story, it won’t work in life.”

So what ambitions do you have? What type of life, community, family, neighborhood, or church do you want to create?

Spend time today with God asking him to reveal to you where your time and energy should go. And start paying attention to yourself because God has designed you with a specific purpose, passions, and plan. So what excites you, what burdens you, what change do you want to see? What do you want in life? And I hope it isn’t just a Roomba vacuum cleaner…..

Chasing Cars…Promotions…and Power

On Sunday I started a brand new series called “Where Is Your Story Going?” The point of this series is to examine where our lives are headed, and how we can discover a new vision for our lives.

I began sharing this quote from Donald Miller, focusing on the last phrase:

If you watched a movie about a guy who wanted a Volvo and worked for years to get it, you wouldn’t cry at the end when he drove off the lot, testing the windshield wipers. You wouldn’t tell your friends you saw a beautiful movie or go home and put a record on to think about the story you’d seen. The truth is, you wouldn’t remember that movie a week later, expect you’d feel robbed and want your money back. Nobody cries at the end of the movie about a guy who wants a Volvo.  But we spend years actually living those stories, and expect our lives to feel meaningful”

Miller is right that we do spend years actually living those stories. So for the next six weeks we are going to discover, through following Nehemiah, how to live different stories, how to live better stories, and how to live lives with meaning, passion, purpose, and vision.

So on Sunday we shared from Nehemiah 1 examining how Nehemiah was given a vision to build the wall in Israel. This wasn’t just a vision about brick and mortar but about restoring a people and giving hope. This is a vision God gives to Nehemiah. It’s a vision to change lives, to change a country, and change a people.

These are the types of visions that God wants to give us, to give to you. Desires to change our marriages, ministries, workplaces, communities, companies, and even countries.

And as we work through this sermon series we’ll look at the next steps to take to pursue a vision, how you overcome obstacles and hurtful people, and how to fulfill God’s vision for your life. But we closed with this challenge to spend time this week and see where is your life going? To spend time praying asking God to give you a vision like he gave Nehemiah. Toask God, “ are you chasing after Volvo’s or God’s dreams for you?”

So today do just that. Spend some time with God, ask him where your life is going; ask him where he would have it go? And then in a few days I’ll post some more thoughts on how to discover God’s vision for your life…

Adult Discussion Questions: What did you think of Donald Miller’s quote? Where is your life, or story, going? Are you chasing after something of value and meaning or not? Has God given you a passion, burden, or desire for something greater like Nehemiah? What is it? Or how can you discover it? Spend some time this week talking to God about where your life is going

Discussion Questions for Families: Spend some time sharing with your family what is worth living for. Ask your kids what some people live for (money, fame, to be cool, to be strong). Ask them what they think they should be living for. Share with them some of what you want to live for.

Challenge for this Week: To ask God to give you a vision to live for.

Overwhelmed By God in a God-Absent Place

Last Sunday we talked about Ezekiel 1. You saw my most terrible rendition of the passage on a white board. In case you missed it – here’s what you missed.

Yes it was that bad…

The point though was that this is a difficult passage to picture, it’s a difficult passage to understand, it’s overwhelming and even a bit odd. So what we wanted to discover was what does this passage mean for us?

I asked each of you to think of one place where you assume God isn’t in your life. The reality is that we each have these places where our experience tells us God just isn’t there, or that active. That in this relationship, that workplace, that family, that street, that place God doesn’t seem to be there.

But as we discovered Ezekiel was in a place where God was supposed to be absent and gone. He was in a far away land, in a different god’s land, his temple was gone, his connection with God was strained and he felt alone.

But what is so amazing is what God does.

He shows up and overwhelms Ezekiel with his presence and a vision. That even though Ezekiel was sure he was in a place God wasn’t, God shows up. Amidst all the amazing details of the vision, one incredibly important one stands out. Ezekiel had a vision from God, a connection with God, in Babylon, a place God wasn’t supposed to be.

So what we can learn is that even those places in our lives where we feel or think God is absent or isn’t active – that he can show up and surprise us. There is no place in our lives thatis absent from the presence or activity of God. And on Sunday we prayed that in those places where we feel alone, that this week God would surprise us, overwhelm us, and connect with us just like he did for Ezekiel.

So as you go off to school and you feel God isn’t there, as you enter that workplace that seems so dark, as you meet with that friend where it seems God is no where near…may you discover him today just as Ezekiel did in a surprising, life changing and deep way.

Because this vision is a reminder to us that when we feel far from God, and alone, that today could be the day he shows up, surprises us, and changes our lives…

Group Discussion Questions:

– What places in your life does God feel most absent? Where do you wish he would most show up? What do you think Ezekiel felt after that encounter with God? Do you trust that God can show up even in dark places? Who can you have commit to continue to pray for you that God surprises and shows up for you?

Discussion Questions for Young Families

– Spend time with your kids asking them – is there anywhere God can’t be? Ask them how they know God is with them? Then spend time sharing with them that God is always with them, and that they know that from the Bible and God’s promises (i.e. Hebrews 13:5)