myMISSION Leader Blog

Praying God’s Heart

Prayer is such a privilege. How amazing that we as humans are gifted with a connection to God, the ability to communicate with Him. What a mystery that the Creator of the universe somehow hears us. He listens to our concerns, our hurts, our dreams. He hears what is on our hearts. And He responds.

What about Him? What is on His heart?

A Time for Courage

The fall season is setting in with brilliant colors and crisp air. We all have different seasons of life. Our world is in a season of challenge. Some challenges are serious. In times like these, where do we find the courage we need?

We know our God is greater than our challenges. He is not caught off guard by what is in the news or even in our family or community. He is our great Healer, Comforter, and Guide. And He has plans. Psalm 139; John 14–17; Ephesians 2–3; and Revelation 7 show us God’s plans are greater than our own. His mercy, power, and beauty combine to amaze us daily. Nothing is too difficult for Him!

What’s Your Part?

This month, we are praying—I mean really praying—for our part in God’s great mission. I’m pressing in to see my part more clearly. What about you? What’s your part?

For most churches, the fall kicks off a new year. It is a good time to pray about new things—new opportunities, new relationships, new routines, new challenges. What is new for you? Could it be that God has something new in mind? I love Isaiah 43:19. God is a “doing-a-new-thing” kind of God. He is able to do more than we can imagine (Eph. 3:20–21). I suppose that’s why, in my life anyway, He usually shows 1 step at a time. It is always new, always fresh.

Summer Opportunities Abound

How’s your summer going? Have you been busy? What kinds of opportunities have you had? Have you served in a ministry? Participated in a missions project of some kind? Maybe Vacation Bible School or a community event? Is your schedule full? Are you running ragged? Or perhaps you’re at the beach—finally resting—feet propped up, sun block on, and cold lemonade in hand. Mmm, I can almost taste it. . . . Rest is a good thing, too! Wherever we find ourselves this summer, opportunities abound.

I love the summertime. It has a different feel. Feet in the sand, sun on our faces; even if we’re working, running errands, or taking care of others, we can sometimes sense an energy with more hours of daylight and time to take a few breaks.

The good news is that God created summers. They were His idea! He also made us in His image, which means that we can get creative, too. In the summer, we sometimes have a different schedule that lends itself to drawing out our creative side. We may have many different opportunities to choose from, or we can create some of our own! What have you been thinking about this summer?

Space for Opportunities

When you think about hospitality, are you like me and feel a little challenged? We can find some encouragement in the fact that the Bible teaches us to “practice hospitality” (Rom. 12:13). It gives us the idea that we don’t have to be perfect. We are practicing!

I was reminded of this recently, as we had a beautiful Hispanic family over for a meal. The parents have been believers for about 8 years. They radiate God’s goodness and are seeking to know His will in their lives and what mission God has for them. It was a simple slow cooker meal with water and chocolate chip cookies. And a candle. And smiles. And laughter. And checkers. And music. And a bottle for the baby. And sharing. And God. We were all tired after a long day, but we were better together. What a blessing. I am still enjoying the renewing warmth of just being the family of God.

Being Authentic—OK, but How?

Being authentic has become somewhat trendy. What do we mean by authentic? What is it about that word that draws our attention? In our world of impersonal social media and fake news, perhaps we sense the need for something we can trust—something deeper in our relationships.

In an article for Christianity Today called “Keeping it Real: The Truth about Authenticity,” author Megan Hill shares that authenticity is transparency, truth-telling about all areas of life. She offers five principles for being an authentic Christian:

• Authenticity proclaims the reality of the Bible.
• Authenticity doesn’t excuse sin.
• Authenticity seeks the good of the body of Christ.
• Authenticity honors wisdom.
• Authenticity points ahead to a perfected future.

Her thoughts resonate with me, especially about pointing ahead to a perfected future. In the past, I feel like I have really tried being authentic with mixed results. It seems that the more I try to be authentic with people, the more confusing it can become.

Connecting Stories

Stories are powerful. They connect us in deep ways. In our relationships, we may agree or disagree on many things but our shared experiences often are the glue that keeps us together. And in the middle of our very real stories, God is working. He is working in amazing ways. What God is doing in and through us is more than we can imagine, more than we realize even now. Many stories are still unfolding. What about you? What’s your story? How might God be working in and through you, beyond what you can see?

I recently talked with a new friend who is Vietnamese. God has worked in her life to bring her to a new place of service. She has been asked to be a leader in a fellowship of Vietnamese churches. She is leading women to be on mission for God. She never dreamed she would be doing what she is doing now. God guided her one step at a time. At each point, He gave her just what she needed, just at the right time.

The Blessing of Listening

When was the last time you really felt heard? When have you really felt like you heard someone else’s heart?

This month, we have been thinking a lot about how to grow relationships. One way that is harder than it sounds is by learning to listen.

The gift of listening is more than just keeping our mouths shut. To listen, really listen, we need to engage with our minds and hearts. We need to enter into someone else’s reality to the point that we can sense what God is doing in their lives. It is rarely what we think about on the surface. Something is always deeper. Our God’s love is deep and wide. It removes our sin as far as the east is from the west. Truly only He knows the plans He has for us. Only He can walk us through the valleys. Our relationships with others recognize His work in their lives and we must listen well to even begin to see His ways. He often surprises us in the journey.

Seek with All Your Heart

We have been thinking a lot about time this month—managing time and investing time in relationships. Ecclesiastes 3 says that there is a time for everything. Sometimes I wonder: Really? Is there really time for everything we need to do and everything God wants us to do? I don’t know about you, but for me it is a huge challenge!

OK, but if it comes from God’s Word, then we know it’s true, right? But how? Psalm 139:16 says God has our days planned. Ephesians 2:10 says that there are works prepared in advance for us to do. In Jeremiah 29:11–13 (NIV), God says, “I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future.” He continues to say that with these plans in place, “then you will call on me and come and pray to me. . . . You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.”

Beautiful.

Maybe the amazing fact that God knows us and that He has plans for our days and our time are what can bring us to know Him more—not simply to know His plans but to know Him. Maybe we can learn how to seek not only answers for our questions but also Him.

Do Not Fear

One question has been a theme of several conversations lately. What would we do—live, be, accomplish, or even attempt—if we did not fear? What would we do as leaders?

I heard a song on my radio app this morning, “To the Very End” by Will Reagan and United Pursuit Band. The lyrics include, “You can have all my fears, God. . . . I know You’re with me to the very end.”

The Christmas echo still rings in my ear: Emmanuel, God with us. How does the reality of Christ’s presence change how we live? How does it change how we lead?

Even the Great Commission is empowered by God with us through Jesus’ promised presence. Jesus said, “And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age” (Matt. 28:20b NIV). If Jesus’ presence with us truly makes a difference, then what is it that seems to hold us back? What do we fear? Is it conflict, pain, loss, or failure of some kind? What is it for you?

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