Future

The younger are stronger though the shadows grow longer.

As we hunger for hunger they play with new thunder.

The record is broken by language unspoken, and though the load may be lighter, the circles grow tighter.

Friendship

This is a guest post written by from David W. Dussault, a dear friend, to his employees at P1 Industries.

Friendship is one of our company’s core values values. Friendship is not merely a word that incorporates “hanging out” or going to the game or movies together. Friendship is a deep, lifelong pursuit of mutual honor between two people that act in each other’s best interests.

Friendship is about honesty. It is about encouragement. Friendship puts others first. Friendship looks out for another out of honor and loyalty. Friendship is ultimately about sacrifice!

The Bible tells us, “Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends”.

When I decided friendship will be one of our core values, I envisioned a deep, tight and enduring bond of brotherhood (and sisterhood) between people fighting in the trenches together each day to build something truly wonderful.

I imagined people from all walks of life and backgrounds passionate about serving one another in our company’s mission, banding together, combining our gifts and talents in unity to move forward!

One of my dear friends, Mike Sacoccio, CEO of the City Mission of Schenectady, spoke at my College class last night on the leadership principle that, “We need to do all small things with great love and admiration, out of honor for others!”

A great example of this was Mother Teresa. Every day she treated the poor, the widows and the lowest in society as friends. She loved and fed them, pouring herself out on the altar of service to better their lives. Mother Teresa was poor and frail but out of doing small things every day with great love and admiration, she won the Nobel Peace Prize and rescued a generation.

How great P1 could be if we all did the small things daily with great love and admiration!  Imagine a company full of people passionate about being friends and serving one another with honor. Honor in how we speak about one another. Honor in smiling and patting each other on the back. Honor in encouraging and lifting up others!

I am challenged today by these thoughts. I need to work on doing the small things with great love and I need to work on my smile and the way I treat my friends!

As the Bible says, there Is no greater love (honor, admiration, respect) than to lay down one’s life for a friend. This doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice your life, but it does mean you’re willing to sacrifice your will and desires and setbacks in order to build up, encourage and honor the friends working alongside us each day.

Let’s make P1 a community of friendship, honoring, admiring and respecting each other and doing the small things for one another with great love and admiration!

You can read more from David at his personal blog.

Village

The pink contrails gently tear the dark, pre-dawn blue, silent fugitives scurrying away from you.

My morning breath so innocent and warm, eagerly swallowed alive by the hungry cold.

The moon riding high in the benevolent sky, happily distant but not sure why, will he ever stoop down to see what this gentle sadness one day could be?

Innocent

Chapter 1
Air was coming. Cold and light, small and wide. She turned away, her hair closing her eyes. The sound was distant, a heartbeat closer. As the mountain turned the corner, the river whispered to the sun, the leaves trembling. The footprint pointed to a larger being, maybe a child with a child, inside. In the wind came the secret she knew, as it called her closer. Simple, she thought. But eloquent enough. Tears are seldom wrong but they washed her heart, her soul floating light and free now. Never again, she prayed, hoping the fragrance would make a way for her spirit. The child was clean. And mostly pure. Inquisitive and kind and trusting and a little unsure. His hands soft and sweet, holding gingerly, hopefully, onto truth and comfort. Gently he watched, eager to see. His joy like a healing flow, cleansing her words and caressing her scars.

Chapter 2
It is a wicked thing when trust is stolen and innocence framed. And the thief is the teacher. He wasn’t too sure, but he knew coldness had come as a spiteful friend. The blood, only a trickle on his face, became a river in his soul. Many years it carried many away and also some to safety. It still flows today, a nearly invisible sparkling true. The distance came close yet never close enough to be removed. In the tragedy a sadness gave birth to life and truth and healing, even as sometimes the shadow still hides in the light.

Chapter 3
It wasn’t easy but hiding was good. Liberating, actually. Behind the wall he could be whoever he needed to be. She knew the truth but was always afraid to share it. Alone and alone, and lonely too. In what she made she sowed her soul, the harvest coming mostly when she was gone. To defend and protect she gave all away, seeing only some of her reward and just a glimpse of the once promised peace. In the making she created something special and unique and deep and lovely. The winds of her soul sang through the fragrance, touching all who spent the courage to enter. In her eyes the universe settled calmly, mystery touched and saved. Her nails, strong like iron and still pure as gold, spoke of the love and the loss and the still hoping.

Chapter 4
Always there was the possibility of change, of transformation to life and joy. Intelligence bears many burdens, even as they whisper the world. Sweetness too can rob you. Again and again. Eyelashes are good for gain but not for shade when the shade is true. She would wander through the forest of dreams, dancing through the broken twigs and rotting leaves and unsinging birds. And yet, usually one song was often enough. Just enough to find the next path. Simple strength to cover the night once more.

Chapter 5
He couldn’t control his smile, those inquisitive eyes always asking, learning, searching for more. A lovely tapestry woven with grace, climbing the clouds and bringing joy to the skies. A mountain, the lightning, the prayers, the knife and the fork. The happy, pure love of a seeking son. The deep love of a sacrificing mother. These things even the universe cannot fully perceive or bear.

More like this ..

Certain 

Phillipians 1:25 “And being confident of this, I know that I shall remain and continue with you all for your progress and joy of faith ..”

Confidence is a wonderful servant and a lack thereof a miserable master. Confidence plays a major role in our everyday lives. I am not speaking of human confidence based on skill, talent or charm. I am referring to a God given confidence emanating from the very depths of my spirit, shaping my heart, mind and soul.
I had a life changing experience midway through my forties. One morning after waking up, I stumbled through to the bathroom in a half awake, half asleep state and stood staring at my reflection in the bathroom mirror.

After splashing some water on my face to try and properly wake up, and as I stood there like a zombie, my mouth opened and I heard the words, “I like you .. I really like you.” I twas a little confusing and shocking. Then I suddenly realized it wasn’t me speaking but the Lord Jesus using my own voice to tell me that He likes me. That He doesn’t only love me – He loves everyone, after all – but that He likes me. I began crying as I felt my insides begin to shake, so I went downstairs in order not to wake up Delray. 

The thought came to to me to read Psalm 139 in the Bible. Slowly and surely, the Holy Spirit gave me understanding that the Father had made me in my mother’s womb to have the personality I had. My serious spirit. My enquiring mind. My creative and adventurous soul. My loving nature. And my somewhat uniquely odd sense of humor. My tears gave way to feelings of profound joy and freedom as I realized that Jesus had chosen to like me and He even enjoyed me! It was a life transforming experience and in some ways my life really began that day.

I began studying Psalm 139 in depth and quickly discovered that in reality it was studying me. What I mean is that this Psalm became a mirror reflecting me back to myself and the image I saw was not who I was used to looking at. Underneath the exterior of the self-made Lorenzo was a God-created Lorenzo He was daily transforming into His image. 

The Bible teaches that the Truth will set you free and that is exactly what happened to me. I began to enjoy my walk with the Lord as never before, this new found freedom enabling me to be bolder for Him. In essence, I had gained a God-confidence. I now see that He had been working this truth into my heart for many years but on that day when I looked in the mirror and heard His voice, He fully opened the door enabling me to step into the wonderful, powerful confidence which only He can give to us.

My leadership changed profoundly. I now led with a certainty, clarity and strength I had not known before. My family, friends and the congregation all noticed that something had changed in me. I no longer apologized for myself: my way of thinking, my humor, my affectionate behavior, and my very public declaration of love for Christ. I now say to leaders all over the world: never apologize for who God made you to be and for what He made you to do. Be yourself! Your God-designed self.

Confidence enables secure and responsible leadership. You are able to give the direction those following you require. It empowers you to make decisions more quickly and not be double minded. It also facilitates saying “No” tot eh wrong things and “Yes” to the right things.
In Joshua 1, we see Joshua leading the Israelites across the Jordan river into the Promised Land with confidence after God has spoke to him, reminding him to be strong and courageous, rejecting fear and uncertainty. Joshua could be certain as he issued commands to his leaders to prepare to move out because He had a God-confidence in him. He knew God had spoken and was sure God was with them.

The biggest difficulty I faced as a leader was working under and with insecure leaders. Men and women who lack God confidence and instead rely on their own character to lead. To be frank, it is the one aspect of leadership I now dislike the most. I have been so mistreated and let down by insecure leaders that today, I won’t work with or place myself under the authority of such person. Insecurity is very destructive. It immobilizes leaders. It causes them to be petty and punitive. It fosters jealousy, smallness, control and division.

I fully understand that every human being has some level of insecurity in them as a result of our sin nature, so I am referring to leaders who know they are inherently insecure yet refuse to allow the Holy Spirit to heal and deliver them of this weakness in their life. Instead, they make excuses for their behavior and insist on leading through their smallness. 

True confidence for life and leadership comes from personally knowing, loving and serving the One who made you, and from humbly, joyously and freely expressing your true self to His glory. On so many different and important levels, the best thing you can give your family, friends and followers is true, Godly confidence.

When you are confident in God, anything is possible!

Measure

There are some questions in the Kingdom of God I find quite perplexing and difficult to understand.

One of them is this: why is it that no matter how hard they pray and work, some leaders are not able to grow their church or ministry beyond a certain point? They attend the leadership seminars and conferences; they read the latest books; they visit larger churches to learn what they could possibly do to improve and grow their ministry.

But it seems that regardless of what they do, their ministry doesn’t grow beyond a certain point.

I think of the good men and women I know who do everything right but what I have written above is their story. Although I certainly do not claim to have the answer, after two decades in ministry I think I may have some insight into this question which I share in the hope that it will help and encourage you. Maybe even free you!

I had the privilege and joy of being the Lead Minister at Calvary Tabernacle Church in Schenectady, NY, for fifteen years. When I arrived at the church, they had just been through a very painful split and the remaining congregation – approximately a hundred and twenty strong – were in need of much care and good leadership. When our leadership and I announced to the church that in September 2012 that I would be stepping down from my Lead Elder role to pursue the Father’s mandate for me to lead Shakaba full time, we were averaging seven hundred in attendance on a Sunday. Our finances were strong, our Missions program was humming, we had a quality staff and leadership team. Most importantly, we were deeply involved in our local community. And I still believe our worship was of a depth and quality I have not experienced anywhere else since.

But the truth is that for the two years before I left, the our numbers had plateaued and although my preaching was better than ever, and our team was attending the Leadership Summit, etc, we just couldn’t seem to grow beyond a certain point. If you ask the leaders who are now in charge (and the Staff) I’m sure they – as I do – will have many opinions on why this was the case, good and bad. However, after all is said and done, I think it is simply this: I had reached my measure for that particular God-given task.

I now believe that when a leader reaches their God-given measure – what I also call their “grace space” – no matter what they attempt, they cannot grow beyond it because the Lord won’t move you beyond the parameters He has given you.

Let’s consider the life of the Apostle Paul to better understand this

In the book of Romans 12:3 & 6, Paul says, “3 For I say, through the grace given to me, to everyone who is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think soberly, as God has dealt to each one a measure of faith. 6 Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, let us use them.” Again in 2 Corinthians 10:13, Paul refers to his measure when he says, “We, however, will not boast beyond measure, but within the limits of the sphere which God appointed us.” What interesting language. He teaches us that God has dealt to each one of us a measure of faith, a measure of grace, and a sphere – or scope – of service.

Faith (in every sense of the word) to believe, know and trust Him for the task, grace to do it, and a sphere to do it in. In Ephesians 4:7 we read, “But to each one of us grace was given according to the measure of Christ’s gift.” Our individual measure is a manifestation of a portion of Christ’s own measure, as He determines it.

Christ determines the purpose and size of His gift (actually, Himself) in us and through us.

We can do nothing to change the measure God has given us or the scope of the work He has called us to. What we can and must do is discover it, understand it, and then express it in the Spirit’s power, to the fullest measure possible. Paul even goes so far as to make himself incredibly vulnerable for the sake of helping other leaders to understand the importance of serving within your measure when he confesses that God has a plan to make sure he doesn’t exceed his measure. And it isn’t a pleasant plan. Paul admits in 2 Corinthians 12:7, “And lest I should be exalted above measure by the abundance of the revelations, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I be exalted above measure.” He repeats the words “lest I should be exalted above my measure” as if to stress the importance of this message.

Can you imagine? God is allowing Paul to suffer in order to prevent him form going beyond his measure. Why? because it would be harmful to Paul for him to do so. Either he would boast and God would need to humble him, or he would endanger himself and possibly derail his ministry, thereby never fulfilling his God-given measure.

In other words, he and the Kingdom would suffer loss, not to mention those who would not be reached because of his over-reaching.

Looking back over many years in the pastoral ministry, I now see more clearly that when I operated within the measure of faith, grace and scope the Father had ordained for me, all was well and we were favored by God. However, when I attempted to operate outside of my grace space, things didn’t go well – for me or those I was serving. I understand now that so much of who I am and what I do is included in my God-given measure.

I am by nature loving, innovative, inspirational, exploring and constantly in need of a lot of stimulation. This was reflected in the culture of our church. We were loving, constantly updating everything, highly missional, etc. Why? Because God’s measure for me shapes those he has included in my scope of ministry. I was supposed to grow the church to seven hundred and then hand it over to someone with a larger measure who could take it further. God’s measure in me helped us to become a creative, missional church with a highly relational culture. Why? Because that’s what Calvary Tabernacle needed at that stage of her development in God.

I understand now that in a similar way my God-given measure will shape Shakaba and the Global Family in ways they need to be shaped. And one day, once I reach my measure in this mandate from God, I will need to hand them over to someone with a larger measure.

Think about this for a moment: in all Creation, the only One with a perfect and unlimited measure is our Lord Jesus Christ. And right now, through the Holy Spirit, by His Father’s will, He is working out His measure through each and every one of us in order to bring as many as possible to know His Father and be with Him for eternity.

The issue is not the size of the measure but whether you and I are expressing it properly and fully.

I pray you will take the time to discover and understand your measure. And that you will have the humility and courage to accept it, whether it be large or small. One thing you can rest and rejoice in is the knowledge that our perfect, loving Father created you in your mother’s womb with perfect knowledge to be able to contain the measure He would be giving you for your life of service to Him.

Your measure is not a mystery to be solved, but rather a wonder to be uncovered and expressed for His glory and the benefit of others.

Find out more at lorenzoagnes.com

Wait …

Sometimes hesitation is a good thing.

Particularly when confronted with an ignorant remark from an unthinking mind. Sometimes it’s good to control my tongue, gather my thoughts and calm my emotions. Waiting a few seconds is often the difference between peace and conflict. It requires strength. And self control. And humility.

To speak the truth in love is required of us all. The truth piece may come easily, especially when the other party “deserves” to hear it, but it’s the love part that makes all the difference.

Wait a moment, then be a blessing.

Touch

When a baby comes out of the womb, the first life changing interaction they experience is touch.

Previously, they felt their mother’s hand rubbing on their tiny frame whilst in the womb, but through the barrier of skin and flesh. Now the experience is perfectly real and authentic. And it is life-affecting because through the first touch is expressed the fullness of the parent’s love, acceptance, joy, amazement and gratitude as the mother holds her miracle close to her heart.

The truth is that this profound ability to communicate tangible yet invisible life and love never leaves us and it is as necessary at birth as it is at death. One of life’s great privileges and responsibilities is to intentionally touch those we love: to embrace a friend, hold a child and caress a loved one. Words aren’t enough. They are one piece of the ‘Communion Equation’ but alone leave one lacking.

Use your touch intentionally with your family, friends and even in business. A firm handshake, a slap on the shoulder, a hug, can go a long way to building long term friendships benefiting all involved.

Accept the responsibility and invest the privilege.