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Posts tagged ‘Prayer’

How do you measure love, justice, grace, or mercy? Measurements Part 2

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThere’s no doubt many of the most important things, maybe the most important things in life cannot be measured. For example how do you measure love, justice, grace, freedom or mercy?

And more importantly, at least for us competitive types, is the fact that if we can’t measure the most important things then we can’t set clear, measurable goals for them. So, for example, I can’t set a goal of increasing my love for my wife Denise by 20% (though I’m sure I need to love her more).

Which leads to the shortcoming of the leadership maxim I examined in my last post “what gets measured is what gets done” – you can’t directly measure the most important things in life.

At SpringHill this is the dilemma we face when we want to know if we’re effectively fulfilling our mission of “creating life-impacting experiences that enable young people to know and grow in their relationships with Jesus Christ.” How do you measure a person’s growth in their relationship with the God of the Universe? And even more perplexing how do you set a goal for such transformation?

We’ve accepted that we can’t measure such things directly or with certainty, but at the same time we’ve learned we can measure particular indicators of whether such things are becoming reality. These indicators center on a person’s admitted change in perspective, commitments they’ve made, and the anticipated life change they expect to experience. And when we combine these important indicators with our own professional assessment we begin to understand with some confidence our  mission effectiveness. For us, at SpringHill, these indicators provide focus and attention to the most important things without being the final word on such things.

So maybe this old leadership maxim needs to change from “what gets measured is what gets done” to “what gets measured in some way is what gets our needed attention” and it’s this attention that leads to effectiveness.

My Daily SpringHill Prayer

2013-07-16 04.56.51Every single day during the 100 days of our summer camping season, beginning with staff training, we’re serving and caring for some of our 25,000 campers and 1000 summer staff. As a result, every single day, for 100 straight days I make three specific requests to God. These requests not only reflect our organizational priorities and focus but they also reflect my own personal hopes and desires for those we serve and those serve alongside.

My first request, because it’s our most important responsibility, is that our campers and staff are safe spiritually, emotionally and physically. I ask God to protect each camper, staff member and all those who visit our camps. And I pray for all our lifeguards, activity staff, counselors and other staff with the responsibility for the direct care of our campers.

The second request I make is that God will, through the experiences we create, transform the lives of our campers and staff. I make this request because this is our mission, it’s why we exist, it’s what we’re to do (create experiences) and it’s the outcome (life transformation) we’re working and praying for. The answer to this request is when a camper or staff leaves SpringHill with new attitudes, behaviors and perspective on life that are more aligned with God than before they arrived.

My final request is simply that we fill every one of our camp spots, that we’re granted the opportunity to serve as many kids as we’re capable of providing an outstanding SpringHill Experience for. This request reflects our vision of never-resting until every young person has the opportunity to hear, see, and experience Jesus Christ in a life-transforming way.

So last week we crossed the half-way point of our camping sessions and God has been gracious in answering these prayers. It’s been a safe, powerfully transforming, and record-breaking summer at SpringHill. But the summer isn’t over; we still have more kids to serve and staff to lead, which means my work of making my three daily requests continues.

Prayers and Goals

The Circle MakerMy good friend, Terry Prisk, recommended (or more accurately he insisted) I read Mark Batterson’s book The Circle Maker. If you’re not familiar with it, The Circle Maker is a practical and inspirational book about prayer.

Now I’ll admit I wasn’t sure the world (nor I) needed another book on prayer. I wondered to myself “what could someone possibly say about prayer that hasn’t already been said before?” But both because Terry insisted and because I set a personal goal to spend more time this year in prayer I picked up a copy of The Circle Maker and moved it to the top of my reading list.

And now that I’ve finished it, let me just say that I’m deeply thankful for Terry’s insistence and for Batterson’s insight. The Circle Maker shows the powerful connection between our dreams and goals and the spiritual discipline of prayer. As a goal driven person, this was the fresh perspective I needed and, more importantly, the inspiration my prayer life required.

Now, before you jump to the conclusion that The Circle Maker is a book that teaches a form of “name it claim” theology, let me assure you it’s not. Batterson doesn’t take us there. Instead he insists that “Bold prayers honor God, and God honors bold prayers. God isn’t offended by your biggest dreams or boldest prayers. He’s offended by anything less.” Yet he also is crystal clear that “God is not a genie in a bottle, your wish is not His command.” Then he goes on to say “His command better be your wish. If not you won’t be drawing prayer circles; you’ll end up walking in circles.”

So let me be a little like my friend Terry and ask you to consider skipping you traditional summer paperback and instead pick of a copy of The Circle Maker, it may be just the inspiration you need to take your prayer life to a new place.

Love Lustres at Calvary

Photo Jan 22, 7 39 20 AM“My Father,

Enlarge my heart, warm my affections,

    open my lips,

Supply words that proclaim ‘Love lustres at Calvary.’

There grace removes my burdens and heaps them

    on thy Son,

made a transgressor, a curse, a sin for me;

There the sword of thy justice smote the man,

    Thy fellow;

There thy infinite attributes were magnified,

    and infinite atonement made;

There infinite punishment was due,

    and infinite punishment was endured.

Christ was all anguish that I might be all joy,

    cast off that I might be brought in,

    trodden down as an enemy

        that I might be welcomed as a friend,

    surrendered to hell’s worst

        that I might attain heaven’s best,

    stripped that I might be clothed,

    wounded that I might be healed,

    athirst that I might drink,

    tormented that I might be comforted,

    made a shame that I might inherit glory,

    entered darkness that I might have eternal light.

My Savior wept that all tears might be wiped

    from my eyes,

    groaned that I might have endless song,

    endured pain that I might have unfading health,

    bore a thorny crown that I might have

        a glory – diadem,

    bowed his head that I might uplift mine,

    experienced reproach that I might receive

        welcome,

    closed his eyes in death that I might gaze

        on unclouded brightness,

    expired that I might for ever live.

Oh Father, who spared not thine only Son that thou

    mightiest spare me,

All this transfer thy love designed and

accomplished;

Help me adore thee by lips and life.

Oh that my every breath might be ecstatic praise,

    my every step buoyant with delight, as I see my

        enemies crushed,

    Satan baffled, defeated, destroyed,

    sin buried in the ocean of reconciling blood,

    hell’s gates closed, heaven’s portal open.

Go forth, O conquering God, and show me

    the cross, mighty to subdue, comfort and save.”

From The Valley of Vision, edited by Arthur Bennett for The Banner of Truth Trust

A Centered Life

Everyone centers their life on something. Whether it’s on a pursuit, purpose or goal, our lives become energized by our “center”. Some people center their life simply on surviving day by day, while others, on the opposite extreme, center their lives on consuming material goods, experiencing pleasure or living for excitement and highs. Yet others center their lives on an idea or a cause. But regardless of what it is, everyone’s life’s centered on something, something that drives them and gets them out of bed every day.

At SpringHill we expect our staff to be centered on a person – the person of Jesus Christ. Of all the personal qualities and professional competencies a person needs to have to make an ongoing, positive impact at SpringHill, this is the most important one, because it’s who we are and what we do. We call this quality “God Immersed”, which simply means that a person is Christ centered and thus living their lives in a Christ like way and from a Biblical perspective.

When you consider our mission and our core values this only makes sense. If our mission is to create life changing experiences where young people can know and grow in their relationship with Jesus Christ than our staff has to being growing in their own relationships with Christ. And if one of our organization’s highest values is “Jesus Christ and His message of grace”, than it needs to be a living value of our staff as well.

So what do we expect to see in a person’s life to know they’re “God Immersed”? It’s simply participating in such spiritual practices as prayer, Bible reading and study, as well as attendance and involvement in a local church. All of which leads to a Christ centered life that reflects Biblical and Kingdom values, and, in the end, multiplies the fruitfulness of our work.

This is part 5 of 14 in a series of posts about what it takes to be successful at SpringHill.

The Tension in Strategic Planning

This month we’ve begun our annual work of updating the SpringHill strategic plan, or as we refer to it, our ministry plan. The process includes most of our staff and board at some level and culminates in our leadership team’s offsite annual planning meeting where we bring all the input and pieces together and update our plan.

And every year, during our annual planning offsite, we find ourselves in this tension between detailed calculated planning verses faith driven, visionary planning. This tension is particularly strong in Christian organizations where we “want to leave room for God” in our plans because we know He can do more than “we could ever ask for or imagine” (Ephesians 3:20).

But too often “leaving room for God” is an excuse for not doing the hard work of planning. We need to accept that planning clearly is a godly pursuit, the Scriptures are full of admonishment to “count the cost” and that “the noble man devises noble plans; and by noble deeds he stands” (Isaiah 32:8).

On the other hand, planning can quickly replace sensitivity to God’s leading and having the faith that can “move mountains”. This most often happens when we’ve create well thought out plans because we move our faith to our plans and away from the God who makes the plans a reality.

So how have we tried to reconcile this tension between planning and faith?

We’ve accept that we need both – it’s not an “either/or” proposition but a “both/and” (like many things of faith). We’re committed to prayerfully creating the very best plans we can, using the very best tools, knowledge, and insight available to us. Yet, at the same time, we prayerfully set long-term goals and vision that we can’t always calculate our way too, knowing we have to move forward in faith, trusting God will provide what we need when we need it.

A Prayer for a Spring Day

Oh Lord, the Creator, the Giver and the Sustainer of all Life,

You are the God who awakens the earth and all its creatures from their winter slumber.

Lord, You bring forth life each spring and turn it’s still and icy nights into choruses of song,

You fill empty branches of trees with the source of all of the world’s life.

The animals make their way from their winter homes to the fields and streams

overflowing with the winter snow melt and the spring rains.

How can we experience this rebirth, this new life, this transformation each year

and not immediately turn to the new life given to us through Your Son Jesus?

In the spring, when the entire world is awakening, Your Son went instead to sleep,

When life arrived from what appeared to have been dead, Your Son died,

With the arrival of scented flowers and fruitful trees, filled with singing birds,

Jesus lay three days in a silent tomb, having only the aroma of death.

Yet the world and all that’s in it would one day go to sleep again,

to experience death, Lord you planned it this way,

But You also planned for our Jesus, to come alive, more alive than the best spring day.

Jesus rose from His death, to live forever, to give hope that all of creation would one day be rescued

from its assured death, to be delivered from its winter slumber.

And Your Son’s return to life on that spring morning, is a promise to us, who put our faith in Him,

that we too will not be bound by the eternal winter, but will one day live forever in a place

where there will be no winter, where there will be no death,

but only life found on the best spring day ever and one that will never end.

Amen

The Valley of Vision

Over the years I’ve benefited from reading some of the classic devotionals. But I discovered one a couple of years ago that’s become my favorite. It’s a compilation of Puritan writings rewritten as a book of prayers call The Valley of Vision.

Each prayer is Scripture filled, poetically written and maintains a sense of transcendence of both the truth of the prayer and the God to whom the prayer’s directed to. I read one each night before going to bed. The one below is I read a couple of days ago and share it with you as an example of prayers found in The Valley of Vision. May the prayer bless you as it did me on this particular night.

A Minister’s Prayer

O My Lord,

Let not my ministry be approved only by men,

or merely win the esteem and affections

of people;

But do the work of grace in their hearts,

call in thy elect,

seal and edify the regenerate ones,

and command eternal blessings on their souls.

Save me from self-opinion and self-seeking;

Water the hearts of those who hear thy Word,

that seed sown in weakness may be raised

in power;

Cause me and those that hear me

to behold thee here in the light of special faith,

and hereafter in the blaze of endless glory;

Make my every sermon a means of grace to myself,

and help me to experience the power

of thy dying love,

for thy blood is balm,

thy presence bliss,

thy smile heaven,

thy cross the place where truth

and mercy meet.

Look upon the doubts and discouragements

of my ministry

and keep me from self – importance;

I beg pardon for my many sins, omissions,

infirmities,

as a man, as a minister;

Command thy blessing on my weak,

unworthy labours,

and on the message of salvation given;

Stay with thy people,

and may thy presence be their portion

and mine.

when I preach to others let not my words

be merely elegant and masterly,

my reasoning polished and refined,

my performance powerless and tasteless,

but may I exalt thee and humble sinners,

O Lord of power and grace,

all hearts are in thy hands,

all events at thy disposal,

Set the seal of thy almighty will

upon my ministry.

 

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