Vision (9)

God's Chosen Fast

Fasting from all, one day at a time.

The body grows weak, dreams come to mind.

All food abandoned, an annual fast.

We’re seeking forgiveness and healing that lasts.


Forty days pass, like Jesus I fast.

Temptations and trials start to attack.

Breakthrough will come, if only I win.

Could fasting help us all overcome sin?


Abstaining from pleasure, I walk Daniel’s path:

Rich foods forgotten, in this partial fast.

I yearn for my homeland: a vision revealed.

The future unfolds; the Scripture unsealed.


Demons must flee, as I starve my old flesh.

Evil must leave! I passed the test!

Mercy increases, I yearn to be right.

The journey’s been long, but the end is in sight.


Transform my hunger to faith in the Lord.

Refraining from comfort as I bear the Sword

Of the Spirit to vanquish my foe and pierce

Through the dark: no lusts, no pride, and no fears.

Read more…


It's easy to drift from your vision unless you take the time to develop an action plan that propels you towards your desired destination!
“Vision drift” happens in your marriage, your vocation, or your spiritual life when you lose sight of your purpose and mission in those areas.

Drawing from Michael Hyatt and Daniel Harkavy’s book entitled “Living Forward, (Click here to preview the book), the Lord impressed on me that the best way to stay focused spiritually is to develop an action plan.

Many people are frustrated that they don’t seem to hear from God, and yet they never take specific steps to change that. Since we have a biblical promise that believers can hear him (John 10:27), it’s up to us to listen. If you are among those who aren’t as disciplined about maintaining quiet times, or if you simply want to improve your existing relationship with God, this strategy is for you.

As we begin a new year and a new era, I want to challenge you to pull out your calendar, block off at least an hour or two of time in the near future (a half-day would be even better), and do a “mini” prayer retreat. The goal of your retreat is to create an action plan that will help you see exactly how you can improve your relationship with God.

Here’s what your personal mini-retreat might look like:

Why Do a "Mini" Prayer Retreat?

Because they are so powerful, I hold prayer retreats on a regular basis each year. Schedules and priorities change, and it is helpful to get away and “take inventory” to see where my spiritual resources are weak or depleted, and what areas need growth or change. Even disciplined believers with regular quiet times need a chance to evaluate occasionally what is working and whether they are moving closer to their ultimate goal of life-giving communication with God in every area of life.

For example, one of the things I have noticed (and write about frequently here on my blog) is my tendency to allow notifications on my phone to distract me from my focus. (Click here to read my thoughts on smartphones.) Looking at the retreat outline above, that habit falls under the category of my “present reality.

However, the kind of future I envision with God is similar to the one I cultivate with friends: if I am having a conversation with someone, I put the phone away and focus on the relationship. I’d like to be more consistent in really listening to God, and this can’t happen when I’m pulled away by phone calls or emails every few minutes.

So to reach the goal of giving God my full attention, my specific action plan includes waiting until my quiet time is over before turning on my phone, and – to increase my focus during the day – returning to just a few set times daily when I check email and messages. I have learned that very few alerts on that phone demand my immediate attention, no matter how loud or persistent they seem!

A second priority for me is increasing the amount of prayer time I spend listening to God. It is easy – and sometimes tempting – to read the Word, send up a few personal requests for the day, and then move on. My richest quiet times, however, come when I allow God the time to speak in return, quietly journaling what I hear Him saying to me, or even taking the time to meditate more deeply on the scripture verses He “highlights” to me as I read. 

Tithe Your Time

If the idea of doing a mini prayer retreat interests you, I want to ask you to make a commitment to God right now to schedule that time – before you close this page and move on to the next things in your day! It is much easier to move forward spiritually when you set aside just a little time at the outset to create a plan and stay focused.

My mission, and the mission of His Inscriptions, is to Restore Life-giving Communication with God. If you decide to use the prayer retreat outline above, I’d love to hear how it works for you. 
In fact, if you have set a date and time for your retreat, I would be delighted to pray for you on that day, so that you can feel confident that God is speaking to you. There is power in unified prayer! Simply contact me here with the date and time of your prayer retreat.

Where to Do A Mini Prayer Retreat

​If you live in the New England area and need a quiet place to do a spiritual retreat, there are many options. The Sanctuary at Woodville, in Hopkinton, MA, has space for individual or corporate prayer retreats, as well as beautiful trails you can hike around a lake. (Bonus: It’s stunning in the Fall!) You can find more information here.

L’Abri is another well-known resource for Christians, with retreat centers in Massachusetts, Minnesota, Canada, England, Australia, Switzerland, Korea, and even Brazil. Guests spend half of each day in self-directed study and the other half working in the community. Dinnertime conversations and lectures are always spiritually focused and very enlightening! I have enjoyed many pleasant hours in both the American and Swiss Alps retreat houses. More info here.

For a large database of retreat centers in the Northeast (note: not all are Christian), click here for the RetreatFinder site. To connect online with others who pray, I highly recommend Pray.Network’s website, which also lists nationwide prayer events.

Lastly, check with churches in your local area for prayer rooms that are open to anyone wishing to use them. It is a rare church that will turn away someone who wants to invest time in prayer! These settings are usually quiet and conducive to personal reflection. 

One Final Note

You can download your own print-ready copy of the Mini Prayer Retreat strategy here. For more on the Living Forward book, including life-plan templates, visit the website here. I pray the Lord will use this simple, strategic idea to help you renew your relationship with Him!


Right now, Deborah Perkins is outside collecting eggs from her coop full of chickens. While she enjoys cooking fresh breakfasts for her hubby and three sons, her true passion is to help people "Discover Life-Giving Communication with God." Her free blog, online Christian Resource Library, and mentoring courses on prayer and the prophetic are available to subscribers. Join the His Inscriptions community to strengthen your walk with God! 

©Deborah Perkins /

Read more…
Recently, about 120 people were physically healed at a gathering in a village because they were all hungry for an encounter and for healing. The Lord did an amazing work, but please pray that these souls would also believe in their hearts who Jesus Christ is. Please pray that miracles, signs, and wonders would continue to occur to accompany and confirm the message of truth. 
Please keep praying for "Jennifer" whom we have been praying for, the local woman who has been suffering from black magic. Unfortunately, she is still being tormented by evil spirits.  She looks confused and was really sick for nearly two months. She has complained of psychological problems. She went to see a psychiatrist who somehow helped her with some medicine. She is still avoiding her Christian friends. When they try to share Jesus with her, she changes the subject.  Last year, she saw a vision in her bedroom of a large red cross.  Just because some Muslims see dreams and visions doesn't mean they turn to Jesus automatically!  This is a call to press on in our prayers for her.  Let's do just that!

The friends of a believer are asking questions about what she believes, and why. They want to know and understand the whole truth, although they confess they really don't believe. Please pray that their eyes and hearts would be opened to the truth, that they would not reject Jesus Christ, and that they would experience the true love of God for themselves.

Please pray for protection and guidance in discipleship relationships and the wisdom to nurture new believers in a way that will result in indigenous and reproducible churches. Pray for local believers to have boldness and to be strengthened by the Holy Spirit and fellowship with other believers.
"Amy" had hopes and dreams to study and become a nurse one day. Her father had different plans for her, to either marry young or to quickly get a job to provide money for her family. She was forced to quit her studies and is desperately searching for a job that will please her father and prevent an unwanted marriage. She seems to run into dead end after dead end, and her father's patience is running low. Please pray for Amy to find a job soon that will satisfy her father, and that she will find peace in a relationship with her true Father.
Please pray for all local believers who are alone. Pray that the Lord will bring them into contact with people who love Him, that they will know they are not alone and that they will thrive. Pray for them to have boldness and wisdom in sharing with other locals. Pray also for those who try to tell their friends and family about Jesus but are faced with confrontation. In fact, some of their friends and family try to convince them that the Bible was corrupted, and this confuses them. Pray for these local believers to  continue to be bold in sharing with others. Pray for God to remove all confusion from their hearts and increase their faith in His Word.

Please pray for the Word of God to be translated into local dialects. Pray for this project's progression and for those who are doing the translating.
Answers to Prayer

Praise God for answering our prayers during our recent February prayer focus on Yemen! Here are three answers:

1. It has been reported that in February, more than 10 new Yemeni believers were acknowledged. And of course, there could be more of whom we do not know about. 

2. The bombings from Saudi Arabia and its coalition have greatly decreased.

3. In the first week of March, a Yemeni university student walked into an international church in the Gulf asking many questions about the faith, even asking "What is baptism?" He then attended a student conference the next day where he received more gospel teaching. The campus workers involved have followed up on him. As of now, he is not interested in the gospel. He is a pluralist who picks and chooses what he likes in different religions. But let's pray for him. Seeds have been sown and he now has Christian friends. Pray that the Father will grow these seeds to bring new life in Christ!
Read more…
Update on the October 28 Woman
For many Muslims, it is a long journey to faith with many ups and downs along the way.  On October 28, we shared about a local woman who is a victim of black magic and who also saw a vision of a red cross on the wall of her bedroom.  Praise God that Christian women continue to meet with her and minister to her needs.  This woman, whom we will call "Jennifer" from now on, is currently suffering from much fear and anxiety due to the black magic in her life.  She is calling upon God in the name of Jesus but also continues to read the Quran to find any relief from its power.  The core problem is that her family practices black magic in the home.  Strange things happen.  For example, last week, she found her maid completely naked and dazed in her home.  Needless to say, this shocked Jennifer.   She also suffers from physical ailments which she believes come from this evil.  She lives in fear and paranoia believing that people and demons are after her.  She is desperate and needs our prayers.  Ultimately, she needs Jesus Christ to save her from her sins and regenerate her in the Holy Spirit.  Then and only then, will the demons leave her forever.  So please continue to pray with us for her and her family's salvation.  Pray that Jesus would free all of them from the tyranny of this evil.  Pray that the Son of God would destroy the works of the devil in their lives (1 John 3:8) and pray that she would read the Bible and be released and have no more fear but only the love and peace of God in her heart. 
Praise Reports
Praise God for saving two, Muslim South Asian men recently!  There are millions of South Asians in the Arabian Peninsula and God is moving among them as well. 

The first one is from Bangladesh.  He has been attending an expat church for three to four months now.  He has made a profession of faith, but is afraid of what his mother and father will say when they find out.  Please pray for him and his parents.  Pray that he will be strong in the faith and will love his parents into the Kingdom despite any opposition. 

The second man is from India.  He has been a seeker and has had ties with members of an expat church who have been sharing with him.  He has also made a profession of faith and immediately asked these believers to share with his father and three brothers.  His father is an imam (an Islamic leader).  The believers traveled a long distance to meet his family and in due time, the father and three brothers came to faith too!  So praise God that He is working through entire families.  Because the father is an imam, there will certainly be challenges ahead (2 Timothy 3:12).

Pray that the Lord would keep these new believers strong and vitally connected with Him and other believers so that they do not revert back to Islam.  Unfortunately, this is not uncommon.  Pray that they would continue in what they have learned and be discipled well in a community of believers that love and support them (2 Timothy 3:14).
Read more…

Can You Judge a Book by its Cover?

9651023091?profile=originalWe’ve all heard that well worn cliché, “You can’t judge a book by its cover.” While most people tacitly assume the wisdom of this statement, we must ask ourselves whether this is universally true. While the saying may apply well to interpersonal relationships, I would argue that in this age of instant communication and sophisticated design, it does not.

Imagine yourself in a in a store. You find yourself considering the purchase of only one of two different brands of shampoo: one is artfully designed and the other looks rather like a junior high school art project. Market research indicates that you will choose the well-designed product, even if it happens to be more expensive.

The undeniable fact is that consumers judge the quality of a product, in large measure, by the quality of that brand’s design. A well designed product reflects an image that the manufacturer wishes to project with regard to the kind of care and attention that went into the development of the product itself.

It is no different for any other type of organization such as a ministry, church or company. One of the main criteria employed to judge all organizations, at least in part, is the quality of their brand. When we speak of “branding,” it involves more than simply graphic appeal. Your brand is a clear, iconic representation of what makes you, you. A brand is your reputation. It tells people how to feel when they think about you. To build a brand for your organization, you must begin by clearly articulating your vision and the outcomes you seek. Practically, your brand ought to be marked by a well-designed logo and overall look. It's important to seek out a design professional for this task because they are specifically trained in design and color theory and understand the affect different design schemes have on various demographic groups. Done right, your brand will clearly communicate what your organization is about — to visitors, donors, members, and the local/national community. How people feel about your organization has everything to do with its success.

The following are some questions to consider as part of your branding strategy:

  1. What is your vision?
  2. Who are you are trying to reach?
  3. What do you want people to feel about your organization/product?
  4. How does your organization define success? Or, what are the results you are looking for?

A well designed brand will give your constituents or consumer base an instant understanding of what is really important to your organization. If your base were to judge your organization by its “cover,” what do you think it would tell them?


9651023479?profile=originalKATHRYN MCBRIDE, a Colson Center Fellow, is the founder/principal of Letcetera, Ltd., a graphic design and publishing firm in suburban Chicago. While a visual artist by profession, she also enjoys a variety of creative pursuits. In all that she does, she endeavors to make things beautiful. Kathryn founded and led a ministry for Christian artists and also maintains the website She is deeply affected by stories of sacrifice, nobility and courage and seeks to honor those who have given their lives for something greater than themselves. Kathryn was raised in a large family with a rich heritage of Christian missionaries who lived by faith and modeled powerful prayer lives. She resides in the western suburbs of Chicago where she seeks to live out her “life verse”— There is only Christ, He is everything. (Col. 3:11)

It would be such a pleasure to work with you!  I work for a variety of ministries, organizations and corporations. Please visit my website at to see my design portfolio, a partial client list, publishing information and bookstore. If you know someone who has been faithful to the call of God, please visit and let us know about them. We would love to tell their story.


Read more…

What Intercessors Can Learn from Jabez' Prayer

We all go through painful experiences of one kind or another, and how we handle life’s adversities will have a lot to do in determining our character and our destiny. The intriguing story of Jabez reveals how our pain can be transformed as we lay hold of God’s promises:


Jabez was more honorable than his brothers; and his mother called his name Jabez, saying, “Because I bore him in pain.” Jabez called upon the God of Israel, saying, “Oh that you would bless me and enlarge my border, and that your hand might be with me, and that you would keep me from harm so that it might not bring me pain!” And God granted what he asked (1 Chronicles 4:9-10 ESV).


Too often, people assume that their upbringing inevitably determines their destiny. But Jabez knew otherwise. Right from the beginning, we see that he stood out from the crowd, and he was “more honorable” even than his own brothers.


However, as we read about Jabez’ life, we realize his life got off to a rough start. It seemed like the cards were stacked against him. His birth was so painful that his mother called his name Jabez”—derived from the Hebrew word for pain.


Perhaps you can relate to Jabez’ story at this point. Your parents probably didn’t name you “a Pain”—at least not formally! But let’s be honest: Sometimes parents, siblings, peers, pastors, or employers send us negative messages about our identity…who we are. Or maybe there was a bully in your neighborhood who said you were too skinny…too fat…too ugly…too short…or too stupid.


There’s an old saying that is totally false. I’m sure you’ve heard it: “Sticks and stones can break my bones, but words can never hurt me.” That truth is just the opposite: We can recover from sticks and stones and even broken bones—but people’s words often cause us a lifetime of hurt.


That’s how Jabez’ story begins: with pain…with rejection from the very people who should have shown him the most love and acceptance. But the good news is that Jabez wasn’t content to wallow in his situation. He rejected the labels put on him by his detractors, choosing instead to seek God for a new identity…a new purpose…and a new destiny.


How did your story begin in its early chapters? Perhaps you had a wonderful, loving family that cared for you and nurtured you all along the way. But I meet so many people today who have had an experience more like Jabez.


So what did Jabez do to break free from the negative labels that threatened to bind him to a life of failure or mediocrity? The text says, Jabez called upon the God of Israel.” If you are going to break free from people’s opinions about you, you must cry out for HIGHER opinion—the opinion of Almighty God. In the end, it’s really just HIS opinion that maters, isn’t it? When you stand before Him in eternity, the bullies and naysayers won’t be there to tear you down. The only thing that will matter will be hear His beautiful words of affirmation, “Well done, good and faithful servant” (Matthew 25:21).


We’re specifically told that he called upon “the God of Israel.” This doesn’t just mean he was calling upon the God of the nation of Israel. No, Jabez was calling upon the God of JACOB—the patriarch whose name was changed by God to ISRAEL.


Do you see why this is significant? Jacob had a pretty dysfunctional childhood, and his own brother seemed intent on killing him. And just like Jabez, Jacob had been given a rather negative name—Jacob, the “supplanter” or “usurper.” And up until the point when Jacob’s name was changed, he had lived up to his negative name, becoming an opportunistic scoundrel and deceiver.


But after Jacob wrestled all night with God in Genesis 32:22-29, the Lord changed his name to Israel, which meant “Triumphant with God” or “Prince with God.”


You see, Jabez knew the story of Jacob well. He saw how God had transformed Jacob from being a PAIN to being a PRINCE. And Jabez called on the “God of Israel (Jacob)” to do the same for him.


Perhaps you need a name change today…a new identity. God can take your PAIN and make you a PRINCE or PRINCESS. He can take your FAILURES and give you a glorious FUTURE. But you have a role to play. You must cry out to Him, like Jabez did. You may even need to wrestle with Him, as Jacob did. But don’t let go until you have a new name…a fresh start…a new beginning.


And I want you to notice that Jabez asked God to give him several specific things. This is an important lesson for us, because sometimes our prayers and our plans are too vague and undefined. I encourage you today to be specific about what you are asking God for. Specific prayer requests will bring specific answers!


Jabez first requested of the Lord, “Oh that you would bless me.” God wants to bless YOU, my friend! So go ahead, like Jabez, and ASK Him to bless you.


The second thing Jabez asked is that God would “enlarge his border.” In the same way, God wants to enlarge you today. He wants to give you bigger dreams…higher vision…more audacious plans.


But think of how incredible this prayer request must have been for Jabez, the man who was labeled a pain and a loser. He could have curled up in a ball and wallowed in his victimhood, but instead he did just the opposite. He called on God to enlarge his territory and give him greater responsibilities and impact.


So what about YOU? Is there some area of your life that you need God to enlarge? Your career…your finances…your health…your relationships…your ministry…your vision? Today can be your first step in asking God for an INCREASE that will change your entire trajectory in life.


Jabez’ next request was that “God’s hand” would be upon his life. This expressed Jabez’ recognition that he needed GOD’S FAVOR in order to accomplish his life’s PURPOSE. This is so important for you to see: In order to escape from any painful experiences that would hold you back from your destiny, you need God’s favor.


Jabez’ final request was that God would keep from harm—from the things that would cause pain, either to himself or the people around him. Jabez was a man of great faith, but he also was a realist. He understood that he had received a legacy of pain and dysfunction, and the natural thing would be to continue that legacy in his own life. It’s no secret that people in pain tend to cause pain to others. People who have been abused often become abusers. Children of alcoholics and addicts too often follow in their parents footsteps.


But Jabez knew the negative patterns must STOP! He had been called a pain, but that’s not how he wanted to treat others.


This passage about Jabez ends with a beautiful conclusion: “And God granted what he asked.” I love happy endings, don’t you? Just as God did in the life of Jabez, He has planned a happy ending for YOU!


Read more…

Praying Into Another Person’s Vision-an act of Love and Friendship


We live in a highly individualistic society—which carries over into our prayer life—many of us pray alone—and we justify that by showing in the Bible various occasions where Christ went and prayed alone.—We also look at the prayer closet (Matthew 6: 6)—as reason to pray alone.  Even with these times mentioned in the Bible when Christ prayed alone, the Bible also mentions about Christ taking a few of his disciples with him to pray.  Matthew 17: 1-9  


When we look at prayer, and fundamental points of prayer—which can be called elements, (See ‘Prayer Elements’ at the following link:, these Prayer elements work together in a way that might be called acts of love of a person on the behalf of others.  (See ‘Prayer is an Act of Love’—link: .


The context of prayer being made on the behalf of others, can refer to both individual and corporate prayer when it comes to upholding someone else, especially if they have share a vision with you about what they sense God wants them to do.  Part of that prayer could be—in a practical sense prayer..:


  • That their vision will be aligned with God’s Word
  • For their vision- that the Lord will work the details out—including the nitty gritty details—
  • For needed recourse including financing or other need,
  • Asking people to join in prayer as prayer partners,
  • Asking for people to join as advisors or a board--people who have a similar vision or calling (we need to ask the Lord to bring these people together).


Here is why those prayer points above are important.  Many times, the Lord has given each of us a vision, but we seem stymied.  Others when they pray, often pray once or twice for someone’s vision, but regular praying into that vision—er—uh—oops—we don’t do it very well—and we often move on praying for other things once we prayed once or twice.  I do know there are some intercessors who will take the challenge to regularly pray for someone’s vision—but they are few in number. 


Taking the time to regularly pray for a friend’s vision could make a difference of your friend being able to move ahead.  It seems that sometimes the Lord waits to answer until others join together in their prayers—exactly what may be happening in the spiritual realm that causes hold back of our prayers being answered, and keeping us from moving forward — is not always clear.  When that happens, it could also be a time of needed preparation or training for us.  Even when answers seem long in coming and there is sometimes a wait in seeing a vision come about, the principle agreeing together is Biblical, in accordance with Matthew 18:19, must not be neglected.  It is important to keep that vision before the Lord.  Consider the example of the woman who kept a request before a judge.  See Luke 18:2-8.  I believe that when Christ shared that story in Luke 18:2-8, He was teaching us to keep our requests before Him.  Praying regularly for someone’s vision is doing just that. 


Perhaps the gist of what I am bringing up here iswould you be willing to join with someone and pray for their vision-regularly?


Now if one does desire to pray for someone, and seeks the Lord on how to pray into that person’s vision—how do we know what to pray for—????  We all like to see clearly, but the Bible says we see through a glass dimly (I Corinthians 13:12).  The result is that we have to depend on God to lead us one item at a time.  This may also require reading between the lines, and asking the Lord for wisdom and discernment on the issues at hand. This would be difficult for someone, but with God’s help it can be done.  Also, it takes a willingness to sense someone else’s burden and involve yourself with that person and learn first hand about their vision/burden.  Once you have an understanding of their vision—what it is, joining together with them in prayer is like taking a weight off a weary traveler.  The action of Aaron and Hur made it possible for Moses to hold up his arms in a major battle when Joshua fought Amalek.  See Exodus 17: 9-13.  Watching out for, praying for, and helping each other is the action that can make it possible to complete/move forward on accomplishing their vision.  That is the action of a true friend.  


In considering what the action of a friend can do in the area of prayer, we need to remember that man was not meant to walk alone.  We need to encourage each other.  We need others to listen to us, listen to the Lord, and seeking God’s word—to help us in seeking God’s thoughts—not only our thoughts, but thoughts and actions that help each other.


In addition to praying for your friend, we should also seek the Lord to include those in our churches to pray for our vision that:


  • That your friend’s church will encourage and pray for the vision.


Why pray for their church?—perhaps that church is so self focused—churches are like people—that they fail to bring in help that the Lord provides—which may be what the individual needs to move ahead with the vision the Lord has given.


What is happening when we pray into a friend’s vision—that action is a true act of friendship that is important in helping your friend move ahead.  Proverbs 18: 24 says:  “A man that hath friends must shew himself friendly: and there is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother.”


Also Hebrews 3: 13 says to “…exhort one another daily,” and such action is a true act of friendship.


Praying with a friend for their vision is honoring to God and encourages each other which the Word of God says we are to do. 




**Have you prayed for someone’s desire or vision to serve?  What can you share from that experience that would encourage us on how the Lord worked when you and others prayed for a vision?


**What does it mean pray without ceasing when it comes to praying for someone’s vision?


**Does the individualism that impacts our society, keep us from praying for someone else’s desire to serve the Lord or their vision?


**Do we understand the importance of importunate prayer (link:

) when it comes to praying for someone else and their vision?


**there may be other reasons not touched on in the above reflection questions of items that affect our praying for the vision of someone else.  Would you be kind enough to share some?


©2014 Lewis Turner

Read more…

The Great Divide

A great controversy exists in the church at large today over how we “do” church. Should our worship cater to culture, or do we have a responsibility to remain counter-cultural? Is it acceptable to serve Starbucks and Krispy Kremes during a service or are we drinking disrespectfully? Are live worship bands and drums too noisy? Does God prefer doctrine-rich hymns? Before you pick a side, let’s agree (at least for the length of this article) not to judge, and to take a look at the real issues behind the controversy.

As a longtime Christian and more than an occasional worship leader, I have worshiped and served in denominations on both sides of the fence. I was raised a Presbyterian and worshiped God in a cathedral-style building. The choir numbered hundreds of voices, reverently singing hymns and anthems accompanied by a massive pipe organ. I have sung Negro spirituals with families in fundamental churches. I have had the pleasure of being part of a modern, up-and-coming worship team (yes, with drums!) in what is called, in popular leader Billy Hornsby’s terms, an “attractional” church. And I have taught schoolchildren in Africa to sing simple songs of praise to a God they were just getting to know. 

So who’s right? The answer is: nobody. We’re all got it wrong, and we will continue to have controversies until we find out what it is that God wants. Impossible? No, and it’s actually easier than we think!

The truth is that churches, like individuals, have callings, visions, and purposes in the Kingdom of God. A church in an inner-city slum area is going to have a different mission than the church on suburbia’s main street. Transient campus outreaches will worship differently from wealthy cathedrals. God’s mandate to go and make disciples didn’t include a “style” requirement; it did stress the importance of preaching the Word. We know from the Bible what God wants: He wants His Word to be preached to the ends of the earth through every available voice, instrument, church, and method. The “how” is largely up to us. The elements of a service, while controversial, are largely non-essential. When we focus on the things we don’t like, we sabotage the efforts of the community we are in to do the job they are called to do: preach the Gospel to this community, in this way, with these resources, at this time.

The real question is: where has God called you to be? Not whom has He called you to be, (you should of course know what your own gifts and callings are and be using them), but where has He called you to be spiritually? Discontent, if not discerned, leads to disagreement. When we find ourselves judging others’ methods, there are really only two possible causes: unforgiveness or vision. Both have to do with where we are, or our position in Christ. Let’s look at each of these separately.

Unforgiveness ultimately leads us into making judgments. The most important place God calls us to be is at peace with Him and others. But it’s not easy to stay there! When our superb vocal abilities have been pushed aside to make room for the hip, young worship leader the church just hired, we get offended. And if left to fester, this offense will take root and become bitterness. Once bitterness takes hold, the vine of discontent begins weaving its way out of our heart and mouth and into the congregation, where it poisons and divides. This division is of the enemy, and can only be stopped through the power of forgiveness, which is not just a decision of the heart, but also a spiritual location. Forgiving moves us from a place of opposition back to a place of right-standing with God and man. As the Christian band Point of Grace sings, “there’s a cross to bridge the great divide.”

Vision: We also know that our spiritual life is a journey, and there are times when God is making us discontent on purpose, like a mother bird trying to cause her baby to fly. It is rare that God will call us to leave a church (although if you are in a place that is abusive or not preaching the Gospel, then by all means get out quickly!). But as we mature, God often calls us to enter new seasons of growth with different visions and possibly a change of position or location. This change might be to something within your current church or to a different location altogether. If you are feeling discontent, take the time to pray and ask whether God is calling you to make a change.

Change doesn’t come easily; in fact, one of our funny expressions (“Get behind me or get out of my way!”) greatly resembles Jesus’ words in Matthew 16:23. Just before Gethsemane, Jesus began casting a new vision for his disciples: one that included violent suffering, death and resurrection. Peter disagreed and rebuked Jesus. This did not match his idea of what a new religious order should look like! Jesus, in effect, said to Peter, “Either get behind Me (My vision) or get out of the way.” Peter was in danger of yielding himself to Satan’s strategy. Thankfully, he repented and was restored to Christ’s purposes in the end. But this would not be the only time he struggled to follow his leader. We need to learn from Peter’s example and get into agreement with our leaders or get out of the way!

For Peter, it was a heart issue that kept him from serving God’s greater vision. We need to check regularly to be sure that we are truly on board with the church’s mission. If we are sowing discontent, God could be calling us to repentance, or He could be asking us to enter into a new season. This is the great thing about God: He’s not upset about the drums being too loud! But He is upset when we disagree with each other. And His heart is for each of us to serve Him to our full potential, not always in areas where we are most gifted or comfortable, but surely with His clear direction and support.

Is this the community you are called to serve at this time in this way? If so, cater to your church’s culture by extending mercy and forgiveness when things upset you. If not, then be counter-cultural! Find out what’s on God’s agenda and ask Him to lead you a place where you can serve wholeheartedly. It’s time to bridge the great divide.


Copyright: Deborah Perkins 2014. You can follow Deborah on Facebook at His Inscriptions for more related articles.

Read more…

Keeping Your Dreams Alive

Recently I’ve found myself humming “I Dreamed a Dream,” a song from the Les Miserables musical. If you haven’t watched the YouTube video of Susan Boyle singing this on Britain’s Got Talent, I encourage you do so. It’s inspiring!


But I’ve never given much thought to the lyrics of the song until today, when I did a Google search. It turns out that the chorus says this:


I dreamed a dream in time gone by
When hope was high
And life worth living
I dreamed that love would never die
I dreamed that God would be forgiving

Yet, to my surprise, much of the song is actually a downer, recounting dreams that ended long ago: “Then I was young and unafraid, and dreams were made and used and wasted.” By the song’s end, the circumstances of life have torn the dreams apart, and the author comes to this gloomy conclusion: “Life has killed the dream I dreamed.”


What a bummer!


As Joseph was labeled by his brothers (Genesis 39:19), I’ve frequently been described as a “dreamer,” so this whole matter of “dreaming dreams” has always been important to me. However, dreaming is a hazardous activity, and I’ve often struggled to keep my dreams alive. (Someday I’ll tell you the story of when I dreamed of planning the “Perfect Church.” It didn’t take long for “reality” to erode my lofty dreams…)


What about you? Are you still dreaming dreams, or do you speak of your dreams only in the past tense?


A Lesson From Abbie


A personal story from two decades ago illustrates the challenge of keeping our dreams alive. It was bedtime at the Buchan household, and I asked my two young daughters, “What do you want to pray before you go to bed, girls?”


Molly, seven years old at the time, prayed for the Dubles, some good friends who were missionaries in Kenya.


Then Abbie, who was four, chimed in, “Lord, I pray I don’t have any bad dreams. No! I pray I don’t have any dreams at all!”


At first I thought it was humorous that someone would not only pray against bad dreams, but against having any dreams at all. But then God pointed out the surprising fact that I often had similar feelings toward my own dreams.


As you’ve probably already discovered, it’s painful when our fondest dreams turn into nightmares. Although we may not be as honest as Abbie was in her prayer, at times it would seem a great relief to eliminate our dreams altogether. Wouldn’t it be easier to just become a zombie or a mind-numbed robot…putting your life on autopilot and eliminating any new initiatives or risky adventures?


Becoming a Dreamer Again


If you’ve become a disillusioned dreamer, you’re not alone. Yet it’s important to see that not all “dis-illusionment” is bad, for we all have “illusions” in our lives that are not from God. (Remind me to tell you that story about the Perfect Church sometime…)


Jesus’ death on the cross was the most disillusioning event in history. His closest followers were devastated, going from their grandiose expectations at the triumphal entry into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday (John 12:12-19) to hiding out in a locked room for fear of the Jews (John 20:19). Peter and some of the others even sought comfort in turning back to their old occupation of fishing (John 21).


And the pain of disillusionment can be felt in the words of the two disciples walking to Emmaus, “We had hoped that He was the one who was going to redeem Israel” (Luke 24:21). How sad! These men “had hoped” they could count on Jesus to fulfill their dreams, but now their hopes were past tense.


However, at the very time these discouraged men were feeling this way, the resurrected Lord Jesus was walking right beside them! What a great lesson. When our dreams are dashed to the ground and all hope seems lost, the Source of ALL hope is right there with us, ready to open our eyes again to new possibilities.


You’re Never Too Old


Perhaps you think you’re simply too old to dream. My generation of fellow Baby Boomers was perhaps the greatest generation of dreamers to ever live. But now we’re getting OLD, as my kids can attest to.


So is it time to admit defeat and simply stop dreaming dreams? No way! In fact, God has a prophetic word just for us: “In the last days...your young men will see visions, your OLD men will DREAM DREAMS” (Acts 2:17). Let it be, Lord!


No matter how old or young you may be, I encourage you to keep on seeing visions and dreaming dreams. Yes, as Abbie recognized, dreams sometimes are scary or even painful. But we’re entering into days when we’ll need God to raise up a new army of dreamers—taking bold action to impact the world for His kingdom.

Read more…