Monthly Archives

March 2016

3 Steps To A New Vision For Your Life

By | Evangelism, Life with God, Reflections/Essays | No Comments

Whenever I can, I ask people – particularly young people – “What is your vision?”

If they say “I don’t have a vision”, I reply “Well, if you did have one what would it look like? What do you dream?”

God gives us visions and dreams. But we can’t passively wait for them. We are to actively pray for a vision and to seek a vision from God’s Spirit.

visionglassesmap

I suggest a practical, three-step process for identifying God’s vision for you.

1. Observe

2. Reflect

3. Act

 

OBSERVE

What is happening in the world around you? What are people thinking and doing? What are the fears, hopes, and dreams of people? What are their needs and desires? What is God up to in the world? Observe constantly and prayerfully, all the while listening to God. Whom is God pointing you towards – who needs to see and hear the Story God has entrusted to you?

 

REFLECT

Now, reflect on what you have observed. Think and talk about it. Pray about it and write in your journal about what you hear from God. Reflect from every possible angle, asking questions all the while. Study the Scriptures and seek what God is saying to you about reaching the people in your life with His Story told through your Story.

 

ACT

Finally, do something! Even if at first you only have the courage to act in a small way. Act in obedience to the vision God is revealing to you.

When God’s Vision becomes our vision our character is transformed. Then God can move us into our neighborhood, our circles of friendship and influence, our workplace, and our world and make us His storytellers.

 

Leighton Ford

Adapted from The Power of Story, 2015 (Leighton Ford)

 

An Easter Poem by N.T. Wright

By | Poetry | No Comments

EASTER VIGIL
On the seventh day God rested
in the darkness of the tomb;
Having finished on the sixth day
all his work of joy and doom.
Now the word had fallen silent,
and the water had run dry,
The bread had all been scattered,
and the light had left the sky.
The flock had lost its shepherd,
and the seed was sadly sown,
The courtiers had betrayed their king,
and nailed him to his throne.
O Sabbath rest by Calvary,
O calm of tomb below,
Where the grave-clothes and the spices
cradle him we did not know!
Rest you well, beloved Jesus,
Caesar’s Lord and Israel’s King,
In the brooding of the Spirit,
in the darkness of the spring.

N.T. Wright

Not Too Small A Thing

By | Reflections and Readings | No Comments

One of our recent lectionary selections was Isaiah 49, where the Servant of the Lord is described as a “polished arrow” in God’s quiver. (49:2)

arrow polished

When we launched Leighton Ford Ministries many years ago I was struck by this chapter, and especially verse 6 where the Lord says to his chosen Servant,

 “It is too small (or too light) a thing that you should be my servant to bring Jacob back … to restore the survivors of Israel … I will give you as a light to the nations …”

What is “too small a thing?” I wondered.  And I think nothing is too small if we do it for the glory of God and the global cause of Jesus the Servant Lord.  But the biggest thing (church, school, practice) is too small if it is not done for the glory of God and the global cause of Jesus.

I prayed that then for our new ministry. I pray that for my life – and yours – today.

Nothing is too small – done for you, Lord!

 

Leighton Ford

Photo credit: TradGang

A Poem For The Lenten Weeks

By | Poetry | No Comments

From Leighton:

During these past Lenten weeks in early morning  I have been using this lovely poem by Mary Oliver, to remind me of what prayer doesn’t have to be, and is!

          Praying

It doesn’t have to be

the blue iris, it could be

weeds in a vacant lot, or a few

small stones; just

pay attention, then patch

 

a few words together and don’t try

to make them elaborate, this isn’t

a contest but the doorway

 

into thanks, and a silence in which

another voice may speak

 

       Mary Oliver

An Evening With The Poet Christian Wiman

By | Poetry | No Comments

Last night with my son-in-law Craig and pastor friend James I heard the poet Christian Wiman at Davidson College. He grew up in a very religious small town Texas family.  Left it all when he went to college. Then at 39 came (or recame?) to faith when he fell in love and discovered he had a life threatening illness.

ChristianWiman_NewBioImage

 

He and a pastor down the street had many conversations. In his case God was the evangelist (in any case, truly!) As editor for many years of Poetry Magazine is story of his own odyssey has surprised and touched many.  His book Bright Abyss is a gem. I recommend! Currently he co-teaches a course on worship with Miroslav Wolf at Yale Divinity School.

He especially recommends memorizing poetry – like Gerard Manley Hopkins! I’m glad we went.

Leighton Ford

Photo credit: poets.org

Whatever Happened To Conversation?

By | Reflections/Essays | No Comments

Our grandson was signing up this term for a university course on Interpersonal Communication, which offered three sections.

“One was 100% on line,” he told us.  “Another was also 100% on line. The third was 50% on line.”

Interpersonal communication on line. What irony!

cellphone distraction

Ben wasn’t happy with any of the options. He wants to communicate face to face with real people and gets upset if his family members or friends are looking at their cell phones instead of talking together.  So he reluctantly chose the 50% version.

Sherry Turkle’s new book Reclaiming Conversation focuses on the importance of talking in a digital age. “We find ways around conversation,” she writes. “We hide from each other even as we’re constantly connected to each other.” Social media becomes all consuming. One of her colleagues calls her smartphone “her tiny god.” Our technologies, says Turkle, are silencing us. Her remedy? A “talking cure.”

She notes that In Walden Thoreau wrote: “I have three chairs in my house, one for solitude, two for friendship, three for society.”

That makes me think of my own chairs. The first is a large green leather one where early most mornings I sit with coffee, listen to some classical music, and simply listen – to my own heart. What am I thinking? Planning? Thankful for? Concerned about? Mary Oliver describes prayer as “a doorway to thanks, and a silence in which another voice may speak.”  I open my Bible and listen for God’s voice through the Psalms speaking quietly with direction for the day.

My “two chairs” are at our breakfast table where Jeanie and I talk about the day to come, the joys and concerns we have for friends and family. Or two chairs at lunch or afternoon coffee with a friend, with smart phones (hopefully) out of sight, as we share what’s going on, and talk about life’s trivia or terrors as only good friends can.

Thoreau’s “third” chair for me is a circle of five. Every few weeks I meet with four other men in my home office. (Buddy the dog also finds a place on one of the chairs!). All of us are involved in ministry with others. Each of us needs a safe place and time where we can open our hearts, listen to one another, share our blessings and burdens, and know that we are cared and prayed for.

As I picture my “chairs” I am aware that God is listening in on these conversations, remembering a wall plaque in my childhood home: “Christ is the unseen host at every meal, the silent listener to every conversation.”

Jesus was a great conversationalist. Take a quick read through the Gospel of John and you will find him not only speaking to crowds, but just as often engaging in conversation – with his friends, with those in need, and, yes, even with his enemies.

I think also of empty chairs – of those who need that saving, living presence of Christ, the Word of God made flesh, in the lonely hours or difficult times of their lives.

Jesus’ words in the last book of the Bible are an invitation to a continuing conversation with him – the Word of God in the flesh. “Listen! I am standing at the door, knocking; if you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in to you and eat with you and you with me.”

Sounds to me like very real “interpersonal communication”!

In this season leading up to Easter how about turning off our phones and computers for a time? I tried that last year – put an “away” message on my computer that I would not be responding except for emergencies until after Easter, and to call or write again later. It helped to focus on where I was and who I was with at each moment.

Ben chose the best option available for him – the 50%  on-line version. You and I could choose to disconnect at least 50% of the time – so we can reconnect – with ourselves, with others, with God.

Leighton Ford

 

Photo credit: Aloskina/Shutterstock

 

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