The Source of our Power

@JonHirstGMI: “Power is the ability to make something of the world.” @ahc // #dataispower - how will we use info to bless!

I’m starting to read Andy Crouches’ latest book on power - Playing God. He starts off by recognizing that many of us see power as negative and coercive and then begins to share that his book will focus on the redemption of power in God’s story. I look forward to that journey. But for now, I would like to focus some time on the definition he provided and that I put at the top of this post as a tweet I shared.

As we consider the role of power in the world of mission, this definition is intriguing. We as missional workers are focused on impacting the world in ways that match what we see as God’s Kingdom. Each of us feel that God has called us to bring change to different areas of a fallen world. And as we act on these passions we are utilizing the power that we have at our disposal to see the change made into a reality.

One of the realities of this process is that, no matter how good our intentions, we end up using power not granted to us by God but instead by this world’s sources of influence. We take God’s mission and our power supply and get to work - usually with less than satisfactory results.

So it would seem to me that the very first question that Kingdom workers need to ask after receiving their direction from God is the power source they plan to use. I have been reading in 2nd Chronicles about king Asa of Judah. In Chapter 14, when he is up against an army much bigger than his own, he calls out to God. “Lord, there is no one like you to help the powerless against the mighty. Help us, Lord our God, for we rely on you…” His prayer is answered in both victory and in the words of Azariah when he returns, “The Lord is with you when you are with him.”

I am processing this about my own role with GMI. As you think about your role in leadership, do you know where your power comes from?

Jesus Sweets

I’m privileged to be in India meeting with GMI’s long-time friends and those we serve through mapping and research tools. What a blessing to hear how the Church in India is growing and how ministries are using research to make Spirit-led decisions about how to move forward.

I was sitting with Richard Howell, the General Secretary of the Evangelical Fellowship of India, and talking about what he is seeing as the Church grows in India. We talked about a variety of trends and big picture items, but one story he shared stuck with me as an example of transformation.

We were talking about the fact that there is little separation between religion and other areas of life in India and Richard shared about a man in a village that came to know Jesus. This man sold sweets for a living. Others selling sweets would label them with names that connected to their faith - Krishna Sweets for example. As the man began to process his faith decision and what God would have him do to live out that faith, the answer was easy. If there could be Krishna Sweets, why can’t there be Jesus Sweets!

So that is exactly what he did. Now all the sweets he sells come bearing the name of Jesus! This man found a way to bring his faith and his life together and see it as one testimony to his Savior. Are we doing the same? Are we integrating our faith, family, work, recreation, relationships and hobbies together in such a way that they represent our Savior?

I would encourage you to ask that question today and then ask God to give you the wisdom as you strive to represent God in every area of your life.

When the Facts Decieve Us

Many a crusty reporter on deadline has uttered the words, “Give me the facts . . . just the facts!” We are constantly drilling down to what we hope is the core information about the situation at hand. We interview, test, verify and analyze the information at hand in a genuine effort to find the truth.

But sometimes the facts don’t lead to the truth. Sometimes we are decieved by the very tangible and real information presented to us. When this happens it shakes us to the core. And that is exactly what happened to Joshua and the people of Israel soon after they entered the Promised Land.

In Joshua chapter 9 we are confronted with an example of deciept and cunning that is impressive while also shocking. The Israelites were recently finished redeeming themselves from the debacle in Ai where they initially lost becaue of sin in their camp when they were presented with another critical moment of decision.

The Gibeonites realized they would die if they fought Israel, so they planned a trick. They pretended to be a delegation from a far-away country coming to make peace with Israel. They took great pains to look the part, bring old and moldy food and give every reason for the Israelites to believe them. The facts were in their favor . . . not because they were true but because they were intentionally being deceptive.

So as the Israelites processed the Gibeonite’s story and considered how they would respond they had two real choices. They could go with the facts as told to them by this delegation or they could start by seeking God and allow the facts to fit into the conversation as He guided.

The Israelites chose the first. Joshua 9:14 says, “The Israelites sampled their provisions but did not inquire of the Lord.” And because of their choice they inherited a who group of people who came to live among the Israelites as slaves. These and people like them brought their gods and beliefs into the Israelite communities and caused incalculable harm as God’s people turned away from His teachings to follow the gods of the local tribes.

The facts in this story were not unimportant, but they were not the whole picture either. Most of the time in our decision-making we start out with the facts and ask God to bless our findings. But Spirit-led decision-making requires us to start with the Spirit and then allow the facts to be part of the process that He guides.

This will take more time, it will seem less professional and it will not be as easy to control . . . and all that is good. The facts give us a false sense of control over the decisions in our lives. We need to release the facts to God and allow Him to use them in the decision-making processes that confront us.

Think about the last decision you made where the facts decieved you. Did you make that decision in the Spirit? What was your process? Learn from the past and commit to allowing the Spirit to guide your processing of facts and figures!

The Evidence of Insight

How do you know when someone has made a brilliant guess or a well-thought out decision? They might look just the same from the outside but underneath, the process of achieving each would have been very different. I’m not saying there is anything wrong with making well-placed guesses based on intuition. In fact, many times that is what must be done. But I would like to look for a moment at some of the evidences of a decision thoughtfully considered.

1. Witnesses: People will know about your thinking before the decision is public. Why is that? Simply put, a thoughtful decision usually involves getting input from friends, experts, mentors and the like.

2. Options: In most decisions that have been considered in depth, there will have been several options that were tested and prayed through before the final choice was made.

3. Situations: Insight draws heavily from the real-life situations going on around the area of decision.

4. Passion: If the decision is important then there will be passionate opinions working their way into the process. These passions represent vision, ambition, excitement and desire to make a difference.

5. Information: When a well-thought out decision is being made, the actors will have quality information to guide their thinking.

Now that I have laid out these seemingly obvious evidences of good decision-making, consider a decision you are wrestling through. Are these things present? If so, list them out so you can see them at work. If not, ask yourself why and what you are going to do about it!

A Busy Week and a New Phase of Ministry Launched

“In today’s world, we seem more fractured and divided than ever with agendas and spin permeating everything as people jockey to get the corner on people’s perception of truth. And as the world fights over perception, what is the responsibility of the Global Church? I believe one of the main roles of the Global Church is to humbly discover truth together and bring it to light. As a research organization, GMI’s priority is not to accumulate more and more isolated data that can be used by various groups to win hearts and minds. While we must always be keeping the data current,
the pressing need of the day is decision-making!”
Jon Hirst, GMI Installation Service January 22, 2013

The audience at the GMI Decision Support Initiative Last week was a big one for the GMI team on three fronts. We released some findings from our research on ministry worker decision-making at our Decision Support Briefing and tested some new product/service ideas with those that attended. If you want to find out more from this event, please visit the web page for the event. This event represents significant thinking and momentum for GMI and will be key to the tools and services we focus on in the next year or so.

 

Secondly, we held the installation service for my role. This was a time to celebrate Mike O’Rear’s Kingdom legacy, talk about the transtion and then give a vision for the future of GMI. I was so blessed by all those who came to listen, sing, pray and dream with our team. We focused our vision-casting on the new phrase that is describing GMI’s ministry: GMI helps Kingdom workers make Spirit-led decisions that advance the Global Church. 

The Installation of Jon Hirst as GMI President

We would love for you to get a sense for the evening. The best way is to go to the page we set up for the event. There you can download my remarks, see the memorial we did for Mike O’Rear and see a map of where attendees prayed for decision-makers around the world. Click here to view these resources.

Finally, with all our staff from around the country in town, we spent some wonderful time strategizing about what God has for us this year. It was a good time of thinking and I came away excited about what God is going to do.

It seems like an eternity since the administrative team of the International Orality Network prayed over me days before I assumed this new role. So much has happened to strengthen my faith and humble my heart. While we still face many challenges in crafting a way forward to serve the Global Church, I am confident that God is working through our efforts.

I look forward to serving each of you who spend some time reading this post. Ple

Decision-making is Fundamental

And the Lord God commanded the man, “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will certainly die.” - Genesis 2:16-17

As I have been researching the process of decision-making and the role it has in our Spiritual life, I have come to a simple but profound conclusion. Decision-making is fundamental to our humanity.

That sounds like a very grand statement to make, but think about this with me. What makes us different from the animals and the angels? God gave us a free will and asked us to turn around and surrender that will to Him of our own accord. That means that our ability to make a decision is at the core of what makes us human and is the very thing that God wants us to give back to Him in an act of obedience.

This means that as we strive to understand Spirit-led decision-making, we need to see it as a cornerstone of our offering to our Savior. Every decision in front of us gives us the opportunity to surrender more to Christ as we die to self or to elevate our selves as we push Jesus further away.

On that day in the Garden when Adam and Eve ate the fruit, they made a decision focused on themselves and pushed God away in the process. It seemed like such a small thing, but when it comes to this most fundamental of activities there is no such thing. Each decision we make either leads us closer to Christ or further from Him.

How will you approach the decisions you have to make tomorrow with this in mind?

When Your Decisions Fall Apart

What happens when the decisions you think are made bathed in prayer and the Holy Spirit’s guidance fall apart? It does happen . . . and for many reasons too numerous to list here in this blog. What do you do?

This weekend CNN released an extensive story of the dramatic events around Charles and Andy Stanely’s relationship, falling out and reconciliation. It is quite story. One that I was not aware of. As I read it and think about the dynamics at work in the Stanley home and in their public ministry, I thought, “I bet they wondered why things fell apart as God seemed to be blessing so much of their work.”

This is an important question as we consider what it means to make Spirit-led decisions. It is important because our assumption is that a decision bathed in prayer is guaranteed to succeed. But that simply is not true.

A Kingdom decision is not so much a moment of accomplishment as a step in a process. And like any step, it can come right before a fall. We can make an excellent decision in one area and then find ourselves stumbling in another. We can feel God’s hand of blessing in one area and his hand of discipline in another.

That is because God is using our decisions as tools to shape our lives. He is highlighting His work through us and also the sin in our lives that must be dealt with. Each decision is part of that process of seeing God at work in exalting His name.

So as you look at the decisions in front of you this week and the situations that seem to be unraveling, don’t question God’s work through what you decide. Simply know that as you seek to ask for the Holy Spirit’s guidance, there will be some decisions that have wildly successful outcomes and others that look like failure. But God is using each one to mold you into His servant on His mission in this world. And His mission is what truly matters