The Long Dark Hallway

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Sometimes transition feels like a long dark hallway. This picture was taken at Angkor Watt in Cambodia, the year that a major transition in my life began. It reminds me how transition feels sometimes.

Transition is nothing more than a change in position. Moving us from point A to point B without us really knowing what is happening. At times we are fully aware and at others we couldn’t be more in the dark.

I have learned as I have matured that when God begins to make you aware of a change that’s coming, it’s rarely immediate. More than likely you are about to begin a walk down that long hallway.

The next few blogs I am going to write the lessons my family and I have learned through this two year transition. All I can say is walking from one end of that hall to the other was one of the hardest, yet most rewarding things we have ever done. At times it was clear and easy to navigate at others it was dark, difficult and frustrating. But, all things work together for good and we have traveled the length of that hallway with success.

One thing I will mention before ending this blog is that as we always hear, the journey is as important as the destination. Transition is a teacher, and if we avail ourselves of the opportunity to learn we will not only reach our destination but we will reach it, better than we were when we started the journey.

So, if you are in that hallway right now, look around, think about the process, learn, learn, learn. Don’t be discouraged and don’t give up, at some point God will turn the light on for you.

Team Thoughts

The following are thoughts from our team. Enjoy…

I have been on a lot of different trips, and this one has been different having my husband with me. God has been challenging me to be even more honoring to him and to let him into this area of my world and learn to work with him. With our different strengths, God will use us differently, and that’s okay!!! We are believing for fresh fire in our marriage as a result of this trip and for God to show us His plan for our marriage. -Nicci Miller

Let me help. Those are the words that have come to my mind the most while being in Rwanda. Whether it be as simple as holding a child or teaching the kids how to make bracelets those words continually come to my mind. The need is obvious and great, we could easily say “we haven’t made a difference” but that is a lie. Seeing one child accept Jesus means one more life has been saved and that is amazing and we have made a difference in that child’s life. That child will bring the presence of God into their home which will spread throughout their village and country. We HAVE made a difference and we will continue to make a difference. – Rachael Woods

This is my 5th year to come to Rwanda and each year my love for the country and the people grows stronger. There are some many thoughts and emotions that it is hard to put into words. I see hope and dreams growing and developing in the children and young adults like never before. As I played with the children in Gahanga and shared the love of Jesus with them they completely stole my heart. They would hold my hand and play with my hair and we made such a connection. They are the hope of Gahanga and and taking the love of Jesus to their community. There is no church in this area but they are being the church to those they interact with. I shared Jeremiah 29:11 with them and reminded them of who they are and that God has great plans for them. I will never be the same after my time with these children. God continues to expand my heart beyond anything I could ever imagine.
Cindy Carreno

I feel like I had a glimpse of living with true grace. We met a couple who runs a fish farm in southern Rwanda who employe around 100 people. Some of the same people who could have possibly murder her family during the genocide. I don’t know that I could do that. But it’s encouraging to see that with God you can. Praise God for the work He continues to do in all of us.
Sam Laymon

Returning to Rwanda is a mixture of emotion, excitement of a foreign land coupled with the knowledge of past events mingles to create a unique experience that forces you to rely solely on God for guidance and protection. It is in these trips that I have come to realize His providence and vastness. Looking around at this land of wonder and beauty, knowing the horrors that occurred in 1994, and seeing the renewal is a testament to God’s ability to heal and restore. Forgiveness exists in many cases between perpetrators and victims who work side by side. The events of the genocide will never be forgotten but the future is bright for these people as they continue to press forward to a better tomorrow. I am so grateful for the opportunity to come and serve as we partner with the missionaries on the ground here in working to achieve that goal.
– Matt Wilkes

My heart for this trip has been to show God’s love to the women and children of Africa. I was given that opportunity to do so this week in Rwanda as I prayed for 2 precious young mothers yesterday.
Janie Burba

My time here in Rwanda has been an incredible experience. I’ve met some people who have come from some of the darkest circumstances and yet has been able to overcome with the help of Jesus. The shining light here (other than Jesus) is football. Football is the language that these people speak and when they see you on pitch playing with them, they love it. There is so much joy, fun, and passion in this sport that I can’t imagine a better platform to share Jesus on.

Nick Miller

Rwanda is so beautiful! I feel so privileged & blessed to be here to follow through on God’s calling. I know each & every connection has been a part of his plan. The people are so amazing, peaceful & beautiful! There are many hearts waiting to hear God’s word. God is definitely moving in Rwanda! Praise God!

Janet Work

…more to come

The Secure Leader

I’ve been reflecting on the idea of leaders who are easy to follow and leaders who are hard to follow, and I’ve come upon some interesting thoughts.

The mark of a good leader is loyal followers; leadership is nothing without a following. (Proverbs 14:28 MSG)

To lead, means absolutely nothing if no one is following. As a matter of fact you can call yourself whatever you want but if people are not committed to and moved by your leadership you are not a leader, or at least you are not leading.

I know leaders who are surrounded by built in followers but are merely holding a position to which the followers are bound to follow visa vi a paycheck. What is necessary to really move things forward is true leadership.

We have all had times where we weren’t really leading. We held the position, we did the job, but did we really influence the people with whom we worked? Sadly, a lot of times we would have to answer no. It’s imperative that we are good leaders not just leaders.

Proverbs tells us that the mark, that which identifies a good leader, is loyal followers. Are those following you now loyal followers or obligated followers?

Jesus teaches us that good leadership is reflected in our ability to serve. Serving is not the stepping stone to leadership it is leadership. As a leader we never quit serving those we lead.

I’ve noticed good leaders, serving leaders, are secure leaders. Leaders who tend to be positional and hard to follow are insecure leaders. The next few blogs I write will attempt to identify the characteristics of secure and insecure leaders and how we can overcome insecurity as leaders in order to lead well, and influence followers to accomplish the vision that pushes us forward.

The following are tweets that have come out of this pondering.

>;Secure leaders are not afraid to hear, or implement good ideas from their team. Doesn’t have to come from them to be used by them.

>;The secure Leader is confident, not arogent. Authentic, not pretentious. No need to pretend when you know who you are.

>;A secure leader lifts their followers, they do not leverage their followers. They motivate they do not manipulate.

>;Secure leaders are refreshing to those following, and their confidence makes followers feel secure in submitting to their leadership

>;Secure leaders enjoy affirmation but don’t have to have it. They get their fulfillment in their purpose, not from popular opinion.

>;Secure leaders are not afraid for team members to be better than them. In their mind it equates to overall success not personal competition

For more tweets like this check out @gadberry on twitter

Jesus, the Main Character in Your Life Story

Everyone has a story. Everyone has had a set of experiences that has shaped and effected their life. Our story is what makes us and it is how we relate to people and what allows them a frame of reference for them to relate to us.

What is exciting and powerful is the story of those who have a relationship with Jesus Christ. Because, for everyone who has encountered and received a revelation of Jesus Christ who He is and what He’s done and still doing today, their story changes drastically from that point. No matter the background, ethnicity, culture, socio-economic, or gender, how you were raised, where you were born, it doesn’t matter, when you encounter Jesus your story changes for the better.

Jesus told His story. He explained things you and I can’t relate to by telling stories about things we can relate to.

That’s why I tell stories: to create readiness, to nudge the people toward receptive insight. In their present state they can stare till doomsday and not see it, listen till they’re blue in the face and not get it. (Matthew 13:13 MSG)

Telling our story or a history of encounters with Jesus and His church is what makes the Gospel relevant. When we can say as a result of Knowing Jesus here is what happened to me. Before I was this…after I am this…

The inspiring thing about it is her encounter with Jesus and His Church took her beyond that.

What is your story? More importantly whats the next chapter.

You can’t live out the next chapter of your story, if you don’t quit re-reading the last chapter over and over.

when you get a revelation that Jesus is the main character in your story, it’s all going to turn out ok. You can have a happily ever after.

The Gospel of John says it clearly

John 1-2 the baptist encountered Jesus and his life found meaning and purpose, the main theme of his story was revealed

John 3. Nicodemus encountered Jesus and his story changed from a religious history to a relational account of love

John 4 the woman at the well encounterd Jesus and her story changed from one of sin, shame, and outcast to one of truth meaning and purpose. A relationship nightmare turned into a story of redemption and change.

John 5 a victim minded crippled man’s story changed from one of hopeless superstition became one of victory over life long problems, and wrong mind sets. From hopelessness to hopeful

John 6 5000 spiritually and physically hungry people story changed from one of intrigue to impossabilities becoming possible

John 8 a woman literally caught in the act of adultery’s story took a 180 turn. One of devistating judgement and condemnation became one of compassion, grace and redemption

John 9 a blind man from birth’s story changed from darkness to light physically and spiritually

John 11 Lazarus story of premature death turned out to be one of resserection and life. Mourning turned to dancing

On and on we could go accounting all the stories of people who encountered Jesus and how their lives changed, but the stories don’t stop on the pages of the bible, but men and women through history, men and women all around you right now have stories, each and everyone of us who have encountered Jesus have stories that reflect the grace, compassion, and power of Jesus Christ.

What is your story? What is the next chapter?

The Power of God Produces Our Potential

I love the concept of undiscovered potential: what you see now is not who I will be.

>I am currently just a clue to the ultimate mystery that is me.

>I am currently a mere preface to the biography of my life.

>I am momentarily a catipillar on my way to becoming a butterfly.

**Don’t let people or circumstances underestimate or undermine who God has created you to be.

>Where people saw an adopted failed Egyptian leader God saw a deliverer named Moses

>where people saw a mere shepherd boy God saw the greatest king in Israel’s history named David

>Where people saw defeated, captive, young men, God saw three bold Hebrews that would stand for their God and influence the nations

>where people saw an amalgam of young misfits from different ages, occupations and environments God saw the great apostles

***what you see now is not what you ultimately get. I’m a work in progress. Don’t count me out now or you will miss the miracle of what God is doing in my life. God has placed potential in us to become more than we are. He’s given us skills and talents, wisdom and insight to achieve what He created us for.

***It’s Gods approval and pleasure we are looking for not mans because men can’t see what God sees.

>Men see a baby in a manger/God sees the savior of the world

>Men saw a brash, impulsive, impetuous coward, God saw one of the greatest and boldest preaching apostles The problem is…

***Mankind has the propensity to place themselves as the key component to producing the potential that is within them. While men have innate gifts and abilities given to them by God they can not in and of themselves become what God originally intended for them to be outside of the power of the Holy Spirit. In Jeremiah God speaks to this young prophet who was underestimating himself and fearful of the response of a rebellious nation God says…

Then the word of the Lord came to me, saying: “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you; Before you were born I sanctified you; I ordained you a prophet to the nations.” Then said I: “Ah, Lord God! Behold, I cannot speak, for I am a youth.” But the Lord said to me: “Do not say, ‘I am a youth,’ For you shall go to all to whom I send you, And whatever I command you, you shall speak. Do not be afraid of their faces, For I am with you to deliver you,” says the Lord. (Jeremiah 1:4-8 NKJV)

God created us with purpose and with destiney. We all whether saved or not carry the original intent of God in our being. So when we are redeemed he not only claims us and our soul but he redeems all those original intents and purposes of our creation. The gifts, talents, skills, and natural bents. and I praise you because of the wonderful way you created me. Everything you do is marvelous! Of this I have no doubt. (Psalm 139:14 CEV)

>>>Because we are beautifully and wonderfully made we must be careful not to allow ourselves to presume we are somehow responsible for our own creation.

>>>I submit to you ours is not a problem of low self esteem but rather one of esteeming ourselves more highly than we ought to

***We need to be careful not to let a humanistic attitude or belief get in the church, because it’s next natural and logical step is a secularist attitude or belief.

***We could say that there are a lot of people who have done great things because of the human spirit, the will to live, the talent and skill of mankind. Yes it’s true, but where did it come from, and anytime you use a thing a part from its creator you lose it’s intended use.

***So there will be accomplishment but not fulfillment. There will be achievement but not contentment. What truly produces undiscovered potential is the power of God.

Take for example: The Apostle Peter. The coward Peter had the potential to be Peter the courageous!

What made the difference? The Power of the Holy Spirit!

How?

1. Get over yourself

Know that God wants you, and wants to draw out your potential no matter what.

God has seen you at your worst but knows what your best looks like.
He wants to draw it out.

2. Get over the past and present.

I’m sure Peter thought more than once, why did I say that? Why can’t I keep my mouth shut? But God used some of the qualities that were considered by many to be weaknesses to end up being strengths.

See yourself with the eyes of potential. What looks dead to us looks asleep to God.

3. Get over People

Sometimes you need to tell people “You don’t me, You don’t know the me I’m gonna be.

4. Get the Holy Spirit

The Holy spirit brings clarity where there was confusion

The Holy Spirit brings power where there was weakness

The Holy Spirit brings development of raw purpose and giftings.

The same Peter that denied Jesus had the potential to make his name famous and ultimately did. The difference? THE HOLY SPIRIT!

But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth. (Acts 1:8 NKJV)

I ask him to strengthen you by his Spirit-not a brute strength but a glorious inner strength – that Christ will live in you as you open the door and invite him in. And I ask him that with both feet planted firmly on love, you’ll be able to take in with all Christians the extravagant dimensions of Christ’s love. Reach out and experience the breadth! Test its length! Plumb the depths! Rise to the heights! Live full lives, full in the fullness of God. God can do anything, you know-far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams! He does it not by pushing us around but by working within us, his Spirit deeply and gently within us. Glory to God in the church! Glory to God in the Messiah, in Jesus! Glory down all the generations! Glory through all millennia! Oh, yes! (Ephesians 3:16-21 MSG)

Potential

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Inside the tiny acorn lies the potential of the mighty oak!

Potential: a latent ability or excellence that may or may not be developed. In every one of us there is a treasure trove of potential. An untapped resource in a lot of cases. ***Potential is like buried treasure its value is only apparent when discovered and used. Potential must move to a place of actualization in our lives and in order to do that it must be discovered. Once found it must be used or it loses it’s value. So we must first discover it.

(1 Samuel 17:1-14, 16-58 MSG)Saul and the Israelites came together, camped at Oak Valley, and spread out their troops in battle readiness for the Philistines. The Philistines were on one hill, the Israelites on the opposing hill, with the valley between them. A giant nearly ten feet tall stepped out from the Philistine line into the open, Goliath from Gath. He had a bronze helmet on his head and was dressed in armor-126 pounds of it! He wore bronze shin guards and carried a bronze sword. His spear was like a fence rail-the spear tip alone weighed over fifteen pounds. His shield bearer walked ahead of him. Goliath stood there and called out to the Israelite troops, “Why bother using your whole army? Am I not Philistine enough for you? And you’re all committed to Saul, aren’t you? So pick your best fighter and pit him against me. If he gets the upper hand and kills me, the Philistines will all become your slaves. But if I get the upper hand and kill him, you’ll all become our slaves and serve us. I challenge the troops of Israel this day. Give me a man. Let us fight it out together!” When Saul and his troops heard the Philistine’s challenge, they were terrified and lost all hope…Jesse’s three older sons had followed Saul to war. The names of the three sons who had joined up with Saul were Eliab, the firstborn; next, Abinadab; and third, Shammah. David was the youngest son. While his three oldest brothers went to war with Saul, David went back and forth from attending to Saul to tending his father’s sheep in Bethlehem. Each morning and evening for forty days, Goliath took his stand and made his speech. One day, Jesse told David his son, “Take this sack of cracked wheat and these ten loaves of bread and run them down to your brothers in the camp. And take these ten wedges of cheese to the captain of their division. Check in on your brothers to see whether they are getting along all right, and let me know how they’re doing…David was up at the crack of dawn and, having arranged for someone to tend his flock, took the food and was on his way just as Jesse had directed him. He arrived at the camp just as the army was moving into battle formation, shouting the war cry. Israel and the Philistines moved into position, facing each other, battle-ready. David left his bundles of food in the care of a sentry, ran to the troops who were deployed, and greeted his brothers. While they were talking together, the Philistine champion, Goliath of Gath, stepped out from the front lines of the Philistines, and gave his usual challenge. David heard him. The Israelites, to a man, fell back the moment they saw the giant-totally frightened. The talk among the troops was, “Have you ever seen anything like this, this man openly and defiantly challenging Israel? The man who kills the giant will have it made. The king will give him a huge reward, offer his daughter as a bride, and give his entire family a free ride.” David, who was talking to the men standing around him, asked, “What’s in it for the man who kills that Philistine and gets rid of this ugly blot on Israel’s honor? Who does he think he is, anyway, this uncircumcised Philistine, taunting the armies of God-Alive?” They told him what everyone was saying about what the king would do for the man who killed the Philistine. Eliab, his older brother, heard David fraternizing with the men and lost his temper: “What are you doing here! Why aren’t you minding your own business, tending that scrawny flock of sheep? I know what you’re up to. You’ve come down here to see the sights, hoping for a ringside seat at a bloody battle!” “What is it with you?” replied David. “All I did was ask a question.” Ignoring his brother, he turned to someone else, asked the same question, and got the same answer as before. The things David was saying were picked up and reported to Saul. Saul sent for him. “Master,” said David, “don’t give up hope. I’m ready to go and fight this Philistine.” Saul answered David, “You can’t go and fight this Philistine. You’re too young and inexperienced-and he’s been at this fighting business since before you were born.” David said, “I’ve been a shepherd, tending sheep for my father. Whenever a lion or bear came and took a lamb from the flock, I’d go after it, knock it down, and rescue the lamb. If it turned on me, I’d grab it by the throat, wring its neck, and kill it. Lion or bear, it made no difference-I killed it. And I’ll do the same to this Philistine pig who is taunting the troops of God-Alive. God, who delivered me from the teeth of the lion and the claws of the bear, will deliver me from this Philistine.” Saul said, “Go. And God help you!” Then Saul outfitted David as a soldier in armor. He put his bronze helmet on his head and belted his sword on him over the armor. David tried to walk but he could hardly budge. David told Saul, “I can’t even move with all this stuff on me. I’m not used to this.” And he took it all off. Then David took his shepherd’s staff, selected five smooth stones from the brook, and put them in the pocket of his shepherd’s pack, and with his sling in his hand approached Goliath. As the Philistine paced back and forth, his shield bearer in front of him, he noticed David. He took one look down on him and sneered-a mere youngster, apple-cheeked and peach-fuzzed. The Philistine ridiculed David. “Am I a dog that you come after me with a stick?” And he cursed him by his gods. “Come on,” said the Philistine. “I’ll make roadkill of you for the buzzards. I’ll turn you into a tasty morsel for the field mice.” David answered, “You come at me with sword and spear and battle-ax. I come at you in the name of God-of-the-Angel-Armies, the God of Israel’s troops, whom you curse and mock. This very day God is handing you over to me. I’m about to kill you, cut off your head, and serve up your body and the bodies of your Philistine buddies to the crows and coyotes. The whole earth will know that there’s an extraordinary God in Israel. And everyone gathered here will learn that God doesn’t save by means of sword or spear. The battle belongs to God-he’s handing you to us on a platter!” That roused the Philistine, and he started toward David. David took off from the front line, running toward the Philistine. David reached into his pocket for a stone, slung it, and hit the Philistine hard in the forehead, embedding the stone deeply. The Philistine crashed, facedown in the dirt. That’s how David beat the Philistine-with a sling and a stone. He hit him and killed him. No sword for David! Then David ran up to the Philistine and stood over him, pulled the giant’s sword from its sheath, and finished the job by cutting off his head. When the Philistines saw that their great champion was dead, they scattered, running for their lives. The men of Israel and Judah were up on their feet, shouting! They chased the Philistines all the way to the outskirts of Gath and the gates of Ekron. Wounded Philistines were strewn along the Shaaraim road all the way to Gath and Ekron. After chasing the Philistines, the Israelites came back and looted their camp.
***Interesting to note until the point David faced Goliath we have no record or even story of him fighting another man. This account emphatically states he was not a fighting man. To this point in his life he was potentially a great warrior yet that was virtually undiscovered until he faced the giant.

How do we discover our potential and then actualize it?

1. Identify What are we naturally bent towards? When faced with pressure what are the qualities that rise to the top?

Although David had not been a warrior he had the gifts and skill set to be one. When he was faced with pressure you could see glimpses of it. (lion/bear)

Train up a child in the way he should go [and in keeping with his individual gift or bent], and when he is old he will not depart from it. (Proverbs 22:6 AMP)

To discover potential we must look beyond the surface and see what is in keeping with our individual gift or bent

2. identify What stirs passion in you?What angers or motivates you?

David was moved to action by his passion to stop the attack on God and for security for his family

3. Identify the cause you are to align your life with.

There are apparent gifts in you but some of the greatest potential is yet to be discovered. When you Aline with a great cause they will rise up.

Up to this point all we knew about David is he was the youngest, he was a shepherd, and a musician/songwriter. When he aligned with the purpose of His life the reason for his being he discovered his true potential

4. Identify the gifts God has given you

David could not use Saul’s armor he could only use that to which he was naturally accustomed. What he had proven.

Your potential is discovered when your being yourself not imitating someone else.

Challenges to overcome in order to discover your potential

1. Sometimes the people close to you can’t see it, and will question your motives.

Why are you doing this?Who do you think you are?

***discovering your potential is about pleasing God not gaining the approval of man

2. Sometimes people see your limitations not your potential

You’re too inexperienced This is too big for you

***discovering your potential is to look beyond your limitations. People don’t know what you know about you.

Discover your potential and use it to the fullest to the glory of God.

Reaching Goals in 2012

Over the years I have come to realize that In order to accomplish a goal there are specific principles that must be in practice. Goals don’t achieve themselves. We don’t arrive at the intended destination by merely talking about it. Don’t worry though we can accomplish every single thing we set out to do if we have the right tools, set the right deadlines, and connect with the right accountability partner.

1. The right tools

Whatever your goals may be, it’s imperative that you have the right tools to get it done. How do I know if it’s the right tool? If its simple, if it accommodates the achieving of your goal, if it doesn’t consume your life, if it works for you, instead of you working for it. I have found that whether your goal is physical, financial, relational, or spiritual if we have tools that are simple and motivating they will operate as a vehicle to carry us to the finish line. Our tools can’t be cumbersome or they will be ineffective. Keep it simple.

2. The right deadlines

One of the biggest mistakes we make in achieving goals is inappropriate deadlines. Trying to arrive at the finish line in an unreasonable amount of time.

Setting deadlines that are too soon will demotivate us and reinforce hopelessness. Setting deadlines that are too late will demotivate and reinforce procrastination. Be reasonable and achievement is yours.

3. The right accountability partner

Notice this doesn’t say partners. I think a mistake in goal setting is to get overly zealous and tell everyone about what you are trying to achieve. It puts undue pressure on you and centers your life around the goals instead of what the goals will accomplish. What you need is one or two people who motivate and challenge you and will be kind but accept no excuses. They also need to be willing to take some initiative in the process checking up on your progress.

These are just some thoughts that I’ve developed over the years in trying to achieve goals. There is really no reason to set goals if you don’t connect them to the right principles. If the connection is made achievement is within reach.