What Makes Leadership Dangerous?

Any leader who is going to lead a church or an organization into change must recognize that it takes courage. There is not a church in existence that does not have to face varying types of challenges. Matter of fact if a church is not facing any challenges then I would question whether that church is moving ahead with a focused mission. The mistakes that I have seen many churches make and I have made my share of these types of mistakes is identifying whether an issue is a technical issues or an adaptive issue. Ronald A. Heifetz and Marty Linski state that leading cultural change is dangerous because “a leader can appear dangerous to people when you question their values, beliefs, or habits of a lifetime.”[1] You as a leader place yourself on the line when you tell people what they need to hear rather than what they want to hear. Although you may see with clarity and passion a promising future of progress and gain, people will see with equal passion the losses you are asking them to sustain.[2]

 

I can think back to a time that I became the Lead Pastor of a great group of people who had been through some very difficult years of experiencing loss that led to them having to say good bye to many of their previous friends who had attended the church. The church had nothing in place to create any type of relational connection for people before or after service. It took several months but we eventually developed a team which launched a “Courtyard Café’.” Many people were excited and the energy that was created in creating warm hospitality for our “First Time Guests” was amazing. Even through all of the positive outcomes for this decision people were grieved that they no longer had their classroom coffee time that they had for years for with their Sunday School Class. I even received a letter from sincere lady that had been attending the church for well over thirty years that the decision of the “Courtyard Café’” had shattered her Sunday morning Church experience because she could no longer have her time with her friends. In her letter she stated that she would have to stay home from church until she could emotionally get back to the place to forgive both me and the Leadership Team of the church. Whenever people must face the challenge of adapting to a tough reality, and the adaptation requires giving up an important value or a current way of life leadership becomes dangerous as it confronts people with loss.[3]

 

Technical versus adaptive challenges Banner 

Leadership would be a safe undertaking if your church or organization only faced problems for which they already knew the solutions. On a daily basis people face problems for which they already have the necessary know-how and protocols to solve them. These are called technical problems. But there is a plethora of problems that we may not have any kind of authoritative knowledge or standard operating procedures. They cannot be simply solved by someone who provides answers from up the food-chain of management. These problems are called adaptive challenges because they require experiments, new discoveries, and adjustments from numerous places in the church or organization. Without learning new ways- changing attitudes, values, and behaviors – people cannot make the adaptive leap necessary to thrive in the new environment.[4]

 

A man or woman who is leading adaptive change must understand that people cannot see at the beginning of the adaptive process that the new situation will be any better than the current condition. The sustainability of change depends on having the people with the problem internalize the change itself.[5]

 

Below I have placed a chart that gives detailed description between technical and adaptive issues:

Difference between Adaptive and technical issues

 

 

Thick Skin and A Tender Heart

 

Often times it is the heart of a pastor to attempt to protect people from the pain of the adaptive change that is taking place. Here is the truth: in mobilizing adaptive work, you have to have to engage people in adjusting their unrealistic expectations, rather than try to satisfy them as if the situation were amenable primarily to a technical remedy. It is a leader with a healthy ego that is able to counteract peoples exaggerated dependency on himself or herself and instead, promote their resourcefulness. A leader who is leading through adaptive issues must be thick skinned in order not to take ownership or personalize people’s criticisms and at the same time keep their heart open to people. This is called being differentiated. Many leaders will take the criticism of people personal and become defensive which only heightens people’s anxiety over their sense of loss. In other words, “Speak the truth in love.” I highlight “LOVE!”

 

Lead Adaptively

 

When are beginning to lead adaptive through adaptive issues the following behaviors are helpful:

 

  • Gather as many of the stakeholders together to begin to creatively define what creative possibilities there are to leading through the adaptive changes.
  • Ask more questions rather than issuing more directives.
  • Build extra time into meeting agendas so that the adaptive challenges do not get either bypassed in favor of more immediate concerns or treated with short-term technical fixes.
  • Expand the circle of individuals who need to be consulted in exploring possible solutions to the problem.
  • When expanding your circles make sure you have a diversity of ages, gender, and ethnic – diversity when processing through the conversation.
  • When implementing the strategy adopt a language that stakeholders will use in clearly communicating what the preferred future is that is congruent with maintaining a healthy culture.
  • Finally, emancipate people to come alongside of those in the community that are struggling with the adaptive change.

 

Remember, habits, values and attitudes, even dysfunctional ones, are part of one’s identity. To change the way people, see and do things is to challenge how they define themselves. It is important that when you are leading through adaptive issues you as a leader do not dehumanize people and simply begin to place labels on them. Be consistently honest. Be an active listener. Be authentically loving. Finally, do not make promises to people that would violate the integrity of the team. In other words, Emphasize the “WE” in the decision making process not the “ME!” This will help people to identify that the adaptive change is for the betterment of the entire community not just for you – the leader.

_________________________________________

Footnotes: 

 [1] Ronald A. Heifetz & Marty Linsky, Leadership on  the Line: Staying Alive through the Dangers of Leading (Boston, Massachusetts: Harvard Business School Press, 2002). p. 12.

[2] Ibid. p. 12.

[3] Ibid. p. 13.

[4] Ibid. p. 13.

[5] Ibid. p 13.


Works Cited:

Linsky, Ronald A. Heifetz & Marty. Leadership on  the Line: Staying Alive through the Dangers of Leading.  Boston, Massachusetts: Harvard Business School Press, 2002.

PastorAl

Al Soto has been married to his incredible wife Valerie for 30 years and they have five sons and one grandson. Al has been in Local Church Ministry for 35 years as both as a Lead Pastor, Associate Pastor, and for five years as a Regional Overseer for his denomination. He has a BA degree from LIFE Pacific College and is currently completing an MA in Leadership & Spiritual Formation from Vanguard University. He currently resides in Lincoln, CA where he is the new Lead Pastor for one of the Campus locations for Bayside Church. He continues to coach High School Football for the Lincoln Fighting Zebras for the Junior Varsity Program and is facilitating Leadership training and coaching as well as facilitating Spiritual Retreats. His hobbies include Golfing and Scuba Diving as well as he is a veracious reader. His Life Statement is “Real Success is Helping others to Succeed!”

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Rising Up to Call My Mother, Nancy Mathis- Blessed!

 

 

 

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The past few weeks has been an emotional roller-coaster! It is a little over a week ago that my mother went into the hospital being treated for a pneumonia only to discover that she has “Stage 4- Ovarian Cancer”. It is a daily walk of self-reflection in order to simply comprehend what is going on and there are moments that it just seems surreal. There is a passage of Scripture in Proverbs 31:28, when describing a woman who has been faithful living a life that has honored God one of the blessings that she will receive is that her children “Will rise up and call her blessed!” My mother is an amazing woman of courage and faith who is determined that even as she battles against cancer she can be a living witness to the grace of God that has been on her life to others. I just wanted to sit down and write this blog post some of the characteristics of my mother that has shaped my life in profound ways. This son, wants to rise up and call my mother, Nancy Mathis, blessed of the Lord.

Let me give you at least six Characteristics:

  1. Mom you are blessed of the Lord because you modeled a life that was totally committed to obeying the will of God!

 

My mother has had opportunities to do many things but her passionate desire was always to do what God called her to do! Her focus was never for material gain but always desiring to do what Jesus had desired her to do. I watched my mother through the years take on jobs because she felt that the Lord was leading her to a position and a role because the people there needed to know Christ. My mother was never just about a good idea, but instead, if it was a God-idea! Mom, thank you for the courageous way that you obeyed Jesus Christ!

  1. Mom you are blessed of the Lord because you unselfishly love others.

 

This son has experienced the unconditional love of my mother who in my wildest past moments as an angry young man she loved me into receiving the love of Christ. My mother loves people. One of my mentors who has graduated to be with Christ, Jerry Cook, would consistently declare, “Love is the oxygen of the kingdom of God.” My mother exhaled love to all people that would cross her path. She risked loving others even when she was hurt by loving. Henri Nouwen when speaking of the pain of love wrote, Every time we make the decision to love someone, we open ourselves to great suffering, because those we most love cause us not only great joy but also great pain. The greatest pain comes from leaving. When the child leaves home, when the husband or wife leaves for a long period of time or for good, when the beloved friend departs to another country or dies … the pain of the leaving can tear us apart.
Still, if we want to avoid the suffering of leaving, we will never experience the joy of loving. And love is stronger than fear, life stronger than death, hope stronger than despair. We have to trust that the risk of loving is always worth taking.”
My mother embodied the previous statement and her capacity to love others has inspired me to love unselfishly. No matter the cost … She chose to love!

  1. Mom you are blessed because your humility to forgive others.

 

There were times that I would see my mother mistreated or not treated well by others. I have watched her experience betrayal and rejection and she would always make the choice to forgive. For my mother forgiveness always opened the doors of her heart for compassion. My mother would always comment that she could not allow her heart to get ensnared with bitterness and resentment because people needed the compassion of Christ. She had the unique blending of a humility that would always admit her human frailty and at the same time the capacity to move ahead. Once again, Henri Nouwen, when discussing the need for compassion writes, “Compassion asks us to go where it hurts, to enter into the places of pain, to share in brokenness, fear, confusion, and anguish. Compassion challenges us to cry out with those in misery, to mourn with those who are lonely, to weep with those in tears. Compassion requires us to be weak with the weak, vulnerable with the vulnerable, and powerless with the powerless. Compassion means full immersion in the condition of being human.” My mom no matter what the challenge was …taught this son how to be fully human by receiving compassion as well as giving compassion!

  1. Mom you are blessed because you lived out what it meant to live in the truth as well as to speak the truth in love!

I watched my mother through the years have to at times speak the truth in love. Often times, it would not be very popular but I so appreciated how she lived free because she was not in bondage to what others thought of her but instead it mattered if she could look at the face of Christ and know she had said and done the right thing with a right heart. Even in some of the most painful scenarios I have never heard my mother speak negatively of others. She has always been honorable and respectful toward others in the most difficult of circumstances. She would disagree but never became disagreeable. My mom embodied what Henri Nouwen described when he wrote, “As long as we continue to live as if we are what we do, what we have, and what other people think about us, we will remain filled with judgments, opinions, evaluations, and condemnations. We will remain addicted to putting people and things in their “right” place.” My mother taught me how to put people, places and things … in the right place … always treating them with honor!

  1. Mom you are blessed because you now how to let people laugh with you!

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Whenever our family is together and we are around my mother we know how to laugh. No matter the season my mom understands the contagious joy that comes with laughter. People will often times say to me, “Al, when you laugh you remind me of your mother when you laugh.” Yes, because I am her son and she taught me how to laugh. In the hospital even when it was painful my mom would make others laugh. My mother is beautiful but she is indescribable when she laughs. My mother taught me how to laugh!

  1. Mom you are blessed because of your lifestyle of prayer.

My mom knows how to pray. Before the whole notion of being contemplative or reflective became popular words to describe a life committed to being formed into the image of Christ my mother has lived this out everyday. As a young man I could remember my other getting up early in the morning to pray. When my mother states that she is praying for you know this … SHE IS PASSIONATELY PRAYING FOR YOU! I am getting to live out the calling that Jesus Christ has for me because I have a mother who prayed for me and continues to pray for me. My mother is blessed because she modeled how many of the victories in life are lived out … on one’s knees in prayer.

This is not a comprehensive list of all the Christ-Honoring characteristics of my mother but here is a few that I wanted to write about this evening. By the way – please do not interpret this article as some type of good-bye or even from a person who may despondent with grief. This short article is just about a son who feels so wonderfully blessed to have the mother that he has and just simply wants to communicate that I could not have ever gotten to this stage of my journey if it was not for the courageous faith, love, and life that my mom gave to me! I am blessed to be the son of Nancy Rae Mathis… I bless you MOM!

P.S.

If you read this article I encourage you to contact your mother and tell her how much you love her. If you would like to follow my Mother and Cousins journey as they battle against cancer you can like their Facebook Page: http://www.facebook.com/chemochics/

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PastorAl

Al Soto has been married to his incredible wife Valerie for 30 years and they have five sons and one grandson. Al has been in Local Church Ministry for 35 years as both as a Lead Pastor, Associate Pastor, and for five years as a Regional Overseer for his denomination. He has a BA degree from LIFE Pacific College and is currently completing an MA in Leadership & Spiritual Formation from Vanguard University. He currently resides in Lincoln, CA where he is the new Lead Pastor for one of the Campus locations for Bayside Church. He continues to coach High School Football for the Lincoln Fighting Zebras for the Junior Varsity Program and is facilitating Leadership training and coaching as well as facilitating Spiritual Retreats. His hobbies include Golfing and Scuba Diving as well as he is a veracious reader. His Life Statement is “Real Success is Helping others to Succeed!”

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WE ARE REALLY WEALTHY!: I Corinthians 1:5-6

Rich Indeed

 

 

 

 

 

“…that in everything you were enriched in Him, in all speech and all knowledge, even as the testimony concerning Christ was confirmed in you.” I Corinthians 1:5-6, NASB

 

The Apostle Paul like many of his introductions that are in his epistles begins in I Corinthians describing the theological work that Jesus Christ has done for us. The word “enriched” is the Greek word plousion, which describes, extreme or vast material wealth.[1] The etymology of this word is developed from it’s use by Plato who distinguished material riches from true riches which consist of wisdom, virtue and culture.[2] Later the word is found in the term “plutocrat” referring to a person who is so prosperous that he is unable to ascertain the full extent of his wealth.

 

The apostle Paul is not interested in the material understanding of the term riches. He gives it a deeper and new meaning by applying it to God, Christ and the Church.[3] For the Apostle Paul “Being made rich” by Him is both a present reality as well as an eschatological event. This is viewed in two ways:

 

  1. First, on the day we came into an intimate relationship with Christ by virtue of the regenerative power of His grace was the richest day of our lives. It was on that occasion that we became joint-heirs with Jesus Christ, with a legal right to all the promises of God.
  2. Second, we are also being enriched as part of the process that will continue throughout our lives. This verse could be translated, “…we are continually being enriched as a result of being in Him …”

 

The process is what we call the journey of “Christian Spiritual Formation.” It should be understood that Christian Spiritual Formation occurs, in His grace, and invades the destructiveness of suffering that results from the fall of man. Furthermore, Christian Spiritual Formation in Christ is a process of growing in kingdom living and participating in God’s mission.[4] WE HAVE BEEN MADE RICH!

 

A transliteration of this verse is:

 

“Your knowledge of Christ is based on so much more than hearsay; every aspect of your life gives eloquent expression to the rich reservoir of your union in Him. You certainly have the testimony of Christ evidenced in you.”[5]

 

The grounding of our wealth is in what Jesus Christ has deposited in us and continues to deposit in us. In God’s eyes we are a spiritual plutocrat! We do not need to settle with spiritual poverty. We have the privileged standing in Christ to expect the fullness of abundance being manifested in our lives in the promises, power and spiritual gifts that He bestows on us. Furthermore, what can be more wealthy than to have a personal relationship with the Master Architect who created us in His Image.


[1] Rick Renner, Sparkling Gems from the Greek: 365 Greek Word Studies for Every Day of the Year to Sharpen Your Understanding of God’s Word (Tulsa, Oklahoma: Harrison House, January 2007). p. 130.

[2] ,  in The New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology, ed. Colin Brown (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan, 1979; reprint, 1976 The Zondervan Corporation). p. 841.

[3] Ibid. p 844.

[4] Alan Andrews with Christopher Morton, The Kingdom Life: A Practical Theology of Discipleship and Spiritual Formation (Colorado Springs, Colorado: NavPress, 2010). p. 21.

[5] Francois du Toit, Mirror Bible (Hermanus, South Africa: Mirror Word Publishing, 2012; repr., fourth Edition). p. 72.

 


WORKS CITED:

 

The New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology. Third 1979 ed. 3 vols. (1. Bible 2. N.T. Theology- Dictionaries). Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan, 1979.

 

Morton, Alan Andrews with Christopher. The Kingdom Life: A Practical Theology of Discipleship and Spiritual Formation.  Colorado Springs, Colorado: NavPress, 2010.

 

Renner, Rick. Sparkling Gems from the Greek: 365 Greek Word Studies for Every Day of the Year to Sharpen Your Understanding of God’s Word.  Tulsa, Oaklahoma: Harrison House, January 2007.

 

Toit, Francois du. Mirror Bible.  Hermanus, South Africa: Mirror Word Publishing, 2012. fourth Edition.

PastorAl

Al Soto has been married to his incredible wife Valerie for 30 years and they have five sons and one grandson. Al has been in Local Church Ministry for 35 years as both as a Lead Pastor, Associate Pastor, and for five years as a Regional Overseer for his denomination. He has a BA degree from LIFE Pacific College and is currently completing an MA in Leadership & Spiritual Formation from Vanguard University. He currently resides in Lincoln, CA where he is the new Lead Pastor for one of the Campus locations for Bayside Church. He continues to coach High School Football for the Lincoln Fighting Zebras for the Junior Varsity Program and is facilitating Leadership training and coaching as well as facilitating Spiritual Retreats. His hobbies include Golfing and Scuba Diving as well as he is a veracious reader. His Life Statement is “Real Success is Helping others to Succeed!”

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EQ Series pt.3:EQ Series pt.3 February 14, 2016 “Un-Packing Your Emotional Suitcase!” “Going Back in Order to Go Forward”

https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/eq-part-iii/id1027134027?i=363227027&mt=2

 

EQ Series pt.3

February 14, 2016

“Un-Packing Your Emotional Suitcase!”

“Going Back in Order to Go Forward”

 

Introduction:

 

It is great be able to be here with you today Brave Church and you are in a series that is really important because you are discovering that, it is not possible for one who is a Christian to be spiritually mature while remaining emotionally immature. Maybe I can say it this way: “We are all here because we are not all there!” In other words, nobody has arrived. Today, we are going to take a journey together about a simple powerful truth that we often we do not want to explore because our thinking is that when one has come to Jesus all these things just go away. I discovered a while ago that people do church like they did life in their families of origin. We can not separate the Good, Bad, and the Ugly we have all experienced in our past and just declare to the world … Hey I am starting from scratch … How many of you have that favorite music CD you know for those who are my age and still know what a CD is before ITUNES… Remember that moment you have that special somebody with you and you want to play that song … Like “My Girl” from the temptations and all of a sudden it get’s to that part of the song that crescendos and there is a scratch on the CD and you can’t get past that section of the music. How irritating is that! No matter what you do you simply can’t move forward in the song. There are many of us here who love Jesus Christ and are even involved in small groups other activities in the church but it seems that we have a scratch on our soul. We just can’t seem to get past the inner feelings of abuse, abandonment, neglect, and the deep sense of the lack of self-worth. For some of us no matter what kind words people say to us we continue to feel that we are a victim and we have no sense of belonging. For others of us, we just simply are angry and we carry around this deep sense of mistrusting everyone especially leaders. On our jobs we will sabotage any success with being adversarial or hyper-critical toward others. Our relationships live up to the old song “Somebody done something wrong song.”

 

Here is the challenge: We deal with all the manifestations of the symptoms such as: overeating, workholism, substance abuse, pornography. We are not honest with people because we fear rejection. You see each one of us have a suit case and we carry this suitcase around and it has all the stuff from family history and if we do not with God’s help engage with the heart of our Heavenly Father we just continue to live out the destructive patterns of our family tree. We do not want to just deal with the symptoms but to allow He who created us to heal the deep parts in our heart or let’s use the metaphor …OUR SUITCASE!

Here is our bottom-line this morning: “In emotionally healthy churches, people understand how their past affects their present ability to love Christ and others.”   

 

Let’s jump in and read a narative from the book of Genesis on the Life of Joseph. Remember Joseph’s family weas a blend of Blue Bloods with the Sopranos

 

 

 

 

When Joseph’s brothers saw that their father was dead, they said, “What if Joseph holds a grudge against us and pays us back for all the wrongs we did to him?” 16 So they sent word to Joseph, saying, “Your father left these instructions before he died: 17 ‘This is what you are to say to Joseph: I ask you to forgive your brothers the sins and the wrongs they committed in treating you so badly.’ Now please forgive the sins of the servants of the God of your father.” When their message came to him, Joseph wept.

18 His brothers then came and threw themselves down before him. “We are your slaves, “they said.

19 But Joseph said to them, “Don’t be afraid. Am I in the place of God? 20 You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives. 21 So then, don’t be afraid. I will provide for you and your children.” And he reassured them and spoke kindly to them.”

Genesis 50:15-21, NIV

 

 

You want to underline that.  “But God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.”   Verse 20 is the summary of the whole Book of Genesis.  If you’ve ever read Genesis.

 

Actually it could be said that it’s the whole summary of the Gospel as well.  God — you intended to harm me, but God intended it for good. This story of Joseph, which is almost 25 percent of the Book of Genesis is — is about a family and the family of Joseph.  And — and God places all of us in families and gives all of us parents.  And it’s an aspect of what it means to be made in God’s image.  We were made to experience love and we were made to receive –, to give love.  And every person here in this room and every person we meet has all had parents.  And, we were created in God’s image to engage in a healthy family as babies and children growing up and to experience that kind of love.  And so you come — all of us come into the world with a hunger for stable, deep loving relationships.

 

We ARE PRE-WIRED FIVE HEALTHY NEEDS:

 

Go to my Suitcase and I as discuss each need take out an item that identifies with this. Talk about the broken side of this in my own story.

 

  1. A Sense of Belonging

First that there’s a need for a place that — that — that when a — when a — you know, that essentially when a child comes in the world there’s a wonderful sense of I belong to a world and I have a place in which I am affirmed and wanted.

  1. There is a Need for Nuture

The second is there’s just a need for nurture.  That words and just gestures of appreciation and affection and touch, and being held emotionally and physically, at each stage of development for — for a person who comes into the world.

 

  1. There is a Need for Support

 

That kind of a loving, caring environment.  Just supportive again along all the life stages that as you move into young adulthood and emerge into the world.

 

  1. There is a Need for Protection

 

And as parents do in a perfect world, they — they protect you physically and emotionally and, you know from harm and sexually from harm.  And kind of provide that kind of protection you cannot do as a child and launch you out into the world.

 

  1. There is a Need for Limits

 

Parents in a healthy way provide limits, boundaries. People who don’t grow up with boundaries and limits have all kinds of challenges.

 

And some of you know what I’m talking about everything from, you know, promiscuity and craziness to narcissism, and it just leaves all kinds of damage. if you can imagine in a perfect world we all grow up in having this longing. God wired us to need these things, to receive these things, uh, by our, uh, you know, by our biological mother and father.  That’s a perfect world. The nuclear family is the first perfect system.  That’s how it was meant to be.  But then in Genesis 3, sin enters the human race.  Rebellion.  Our first parents rebel against God and so now we see for the first time, families are not this.

 

They’re distorted.  They’re broken from God’s original intention.  And so we see even the first family, Cane and Abel, there’s murder.  There’s jealousy and you’ve got murder all of a sudden going on.  You know, brother killing a brother.  And so we find in families now because of sin.  And we have to stop and pause and — and recognize this that now we have things like destructive criticisms and abuse of authority and lying and secrets, and emotional withholding and broken promises and intimidation, and blaming in families.  And pressure tactics and shamings and putdowns.  And even in the best of families.  And some of us came perhaps from very good families, there is sin and brokenness.

 

And, uh, nobody emerges from their family unscathed, uh, without their true self in some way, uh, damaged, without wounds and scars.  Uh, all of us.  And so when we come to Jesus Christ, when we become a Christian; and I hope you have now become a Christian today, we are born again, the Bible says.  We’re born into the new family; His family, God our Father.  And we have new brothers and sisters, a new name, Christian, a new inheritance, and — and now we’re in a new family; the family of God in Jesus Christ.  And — and but as we come into the family of Jesus and Christ we bring to it, certain unprocessed material that goes through our families of origin and whatever happened or didn’t happen growing up.

 

How Many of You Remember this Show?

 

The synopsis of the show was:

 

The show stars Will Smith as a fictionalized version of himself, a street-smart teenager from West Philadelphia who is sent to move in with his wealthy aunt and uncle in their Bel Air mansion after getting into a fight on a local basketball court. In the series, his lifestyle often clashes with the lifestyle of his relatives in Bel Air. The series lasted for six seasons and aired 148 episodes

 

The video clip you are about to see is very much emotionally charged because Wills character is seeing is father who he does not know. His dad promises him a trip but he reneges on the agreement and states that they are not going. This is a very emotionally raw scene.

Did you catch what he said: Why doesn’t he want me? There some who just saw this clip who continue to ask this question.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There are three things from this Story of Joseph that is very important to catch!

 

 

 

  1. Look into Your Suitcase = Frees You From Your Past

 

You have to feel in order to Deal with issues. And we can live a life based on Assumptive Faith: It is not real. Our false Assumptions concerning past events are what keep us stuck. We can not realistically process through something that we have created a fantasy. Let me use this as an example:

Let’s say you and I were driving in a truck and we were passing a school and there are allot of small children everywhere waiting for their parents to be picked up. All of a sudden we feel a reall heavy bump that we drive over. We don’t stop but a mile down the rode we begin to ask the question: “Did we possibly run over a child?” rather than go back we begin to become tormented over the idea that we may have hit a child. The anxiety and the fear kicks in as you try to push that memory out of your mind. You will begin to build coping mechanisms now to deal with the fear and the shame of the thought that you may have harmed a person. Let’s take that same scenartio but only this time we stop after driving a few miles up the road and we drive back to investigate what we ran over. On returning to the front of the school we discover that there is a log in the middle of the road and that is what we ran over. Now we do not have to be rulked by a lie. In a sense it was this kind of assumptive thinking that was ruling over the thoughts of joseph’s brothers because they thought he would have been out for revenge and they could have ran.

 

Many of us have these types of issues in our lives and for many of us attempt to navigate theses issues by developing new forms of coping mechanisms. Our adversary has more tatctics that we have coping mechanisms.

 

It is true that the gospel Gospel and Christianity is that now that when you come to Jesus Christ you have a whole new destiny and that the blood that determines who you are is no longer the biological blood of your family.  It’s the blood of Christ.  And, uh, you’re born anew.  And now the cycle ship is putting off those sinful patterns of your biological family.  Not the — not the [UNHEALTHY], but the sinful patterns here.  The cycle ship of the growth of a Christian life is putting off that, which was in a sense pre — that which was like your blueprint in you, which is deeply lodged in you.

 

Now here’s Joseph.  He’s born into a family.  And, uh, in fact, this is what’s called his “family [GEN‑O‑GRAM]” of Joseph.  And it’s a way of mapping out families.  Some of you have done that.  But here’s Joseph over here in yellow.  And there’s his wife.  Okay and Joseph is one of twelve brothers and one sister.  Okay, he’s the eleventh child.  And this is his family going back three generations that bears on his person.  As a point to look at you’ll notice his grandparents, okay, um, or great‑grandparents, Abraham and Sarah.  You got lies in their relationship, sibling rivalry of kids, favoritism, and an unhealthy marriage.

 

He loses his nurture.  His place.  His support.  Uh, his — his language.  His freedom.  His friends.  He loses everything.  Talk about trauma and being chained off and of suddenly being a slave.    You just imagine — I just imagine what he’s carrying the scars inside of him.  Like I mean who do I trust?  I can’t even trust my own family.  I got so burned.  And so you can imagine how, you know, vigilance one would be after something like that?  And, uh, or just saying to himself something must be wrong with me.  I mean what did I do that this is my lot?  And, you know that feeling of like I’m screwed up.  It’s — it’s all me.

 

Um, or, you know, my family at this point is just not that important to me.  It’s just it’s over.  It’s done you guys.  God bless you and here’s your food.  Go have a great life.  But, uh, really you’re — I’m — I’m — I got my own family now.  I — I’ve — I’m past the trauma and I’m on my way and there’s really nothing to talk about.  Um, in fact, he could of said I have an oldest son now named Manasseh.  It’s very interesting.  You know, his oldest son over here, Manasseh, he named him.  His name means “making forget.”  Very interesting.  Yeah, I got a son named “making forget.”  I forgot you guys.  Goodbye, you know?  And, um, so — so here’s Joseph.  But he does — he does come out.  He — he comes out.  And he does go back to go forward.

 

Sin is passed on from generation to generation. God allows this story to be recorded to sober us to take a deep braeth and look inside of our suit case. The implication for church life is clear that people must take a look at the family ystems that they grew up in inorder to get healthy.

 

Now these things occurred as examples to keep us from setting our hearts on evil things as they did.” I Corinthians 10:6, NIV

 

Three Types of Family-Systems:

 

  1. Closed – Addictive – Don’t feel and Don’t Talk
  2. Detached – No Connection
  3. Enmeshed – No Boundaries

 

 

 

(Tell My Story with Dad and journey of Sobriety)

 

 

You know, in the Ten Commandments of your family, you know, we’ve talked about how, you know, I say in — in your — maybe in your family money is the best source of security.  Well, you know what?  You know, the Bible says no, God is your refuge and strength.  He is the best source of security.  That’s a new way of living in God’s family.  But you got to be aware that this is how my family lives.  So you don’t live like that anymore now as a believer in Christ.  I say conflict, you know.  Avoid conflict at all costs.  Maybe that’s what your family did.  You know, well, you know what?  That’s not in scripture.  We’re — we’re true peacemakers now, you know?  And you know, let’s take, you know, well, sex.  Sex is not to be spoken about openly.  Well, you know what?  In the family of God we do talk about sex openly because God loves sex.

 

It’s a beautiful thing.  We talk about it on different levels appropriately with developmental stages.  It’s a gift from God.  So — so, we don’t do it the way your family did it now because we’re in the family of Jesus.  You know, we can take, you know, grief and loss.  And — and maybe in your family sadness was a sign of weakness.  You were never to be depressed.  But you know what?  In God’s family, we embrace grief.  We don’t get lost in it and buried in it, but we wait on God and we let God birth anew and we let God make us compassionate, moving people through it.  But we don’t do grief and loss the way your families did it.  You know, we can go on to, you know — you know, expressing anger.

 

And maybe your family, anger was dangerous and bad.  No one got angry.  Maybe everybody was angry.  But, you know in, you know, in God’s family, we — we express anger in an appropriate way and we — we — it’s part of our discipleship.  We got to teach our children, our young adults on how to use and express anger in a way that’s constructive.  And — and then you take things like family and — and, uh, you know, it might be you — you owe your parents for all they’ve done for you.  Well, you know, we want to honor our parents, but we don’t, you know, we’re not — we’re not, you know, in bondage to them either.  We follow Christ first as we honor our parents.  You know relationships don’t trust people.

 

 

 

You’re not allowed to have certain feelings.  This is the way some families were raised.  Or — or your feelings are not important.  Well, you know, in God’s family your feelings are very important.  In fact, you’re very important.  And so part of — of — of following Jesus is you’ll be able to go back and say what were my particular family commandments that I’m still carrying today because now I’m in the family of Jesus?  And then what are some things?  I got to do some hard work here in following Christ.  So some of you have begun this process.  You’ve done some of this work.  The sad thing is some of you stopped because you got over a couple hurdles.  Yeah, I’m feeling better.

 

 

 

  1. Develop Practices that Help Exchange What is in your Suitcase = Gives you Hope in Your Present Life

 

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways,”
declares the Lord
. Isa. 55:8

 

In the Hebrew ways are a frequented path or a boundary. God desires that you begin to exchange your ways. Why because it is about the heart! Remember what the prophet says we need to begin to have our hearts turn. It’s placing our need for Justice back on the Cross rather in our own hands. It is releasing offenses of the heart!

 

“He will turn the hearts of the parents to their children, and the hearts of the children to their parents; or else I will come and strike the land with total destruction.” Malachi 4:6, NIV

 

The prophet is not just speaking about biological fathers but he addressing the elders of Israel. It is the hearts of fathers that have to turn first because it is easier for a Father to reject a son than a son to reject a father.

 

 

Let’s go back to what you just experienced this morning with the Elder’s of this church laying hands on Kara for children’s Ministry and Samuel and Marcy for Youth. Consider the fatherlessness of our culture.

These are precious people who began life not thinking they would end up as a statistic. It is an innate thing that a child expects to be cared for and knows that someone should be responsible for them.

 

They slip through fingers and they fall. I do not know what you experience at life has been but God has something for you. We all remember moments that we were held warmly and then we were dropped. Some of us remember how we hit the ground with a thud and for some of us we are still rolling. May be it is not a parent but a partner in which we stood up in front of a church and things just fell apart. You looked them into the eyes and said “I DO!” and they didn’t. This morning you as a community have said “I DO” to the children in the Tri-City area. Let’s get back to Joeseph!

If we are going to be a people who are growing to ths is — this is — this is the Christian life and God moves us and leads us appropriately along the way to bring us to new levels of depth with him.  Some of you need to begin and get started because it’s scary.  But the grace of God is so loveable and wonderful and He’ll meet you there.  But then here’s a second one.  Here’s the — here’s the courage years is that discern.  The second practical application is that we are to discern the good God intends in through and in spite of your family and past.  I’ll say it again.  This is verse 50.  God desires to discern the good.  What — what is discern?  What’s the good?  Now God put you in a family at a certain moment in history.  He knew everything that was going on.  And He put you there and He — Why?  For good.

 

God had a good purpose.  Somebody that has very difficult, abusive backgrounds.  And how did Joseph get to — look at verse 20.  And I want you to underline verse 20.  In fact, I hope you’ll memorize the verse.  Uh, it’s so phenomenal.  It’s again, it’s the summary of the Book of Genesis.  Joseph says you — he says to his brothers all that went on.  He goes you intended to harm me.  Or it could be the Hebrew word, could be “you planned to harm me.”  But God planned it for good.  You planned to harm me, but God planned it or intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.  You see at one level you can see a struggle of a family.

 

Four Practices that Will Help you in Your Present Journey Into Wholeness:

 

  1. The Bible – This is God’s message of grace intervening into ourt mess.
  2. Community – Our spirituality is very individualistic in America but the Scripture is written with Community in mind. The church is the place that we can become reparented.
  3. Contempation – Practices such as solitude become the place that we are transformed from the inside/out.
  4. Embrace the Gift of Repentance – metanoa to change direction. This becomes a life-style in which can more fully obey Christ.

 

 

 

 

God will lead you step‑by‑step.  That’s why we Brave Church have small groups.  That’s why we have seminars.  That’s why we encourage silence and solitude and journaling, and all that.  And we got to do all this stuff in small groups right now.  But God has placed you hear on Earth for a purpose to be a blessing to many people.  Just like Joseph says “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good.”  To accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.  And, uh, so I want to — I want to invite you and encourage you that God is invisibly working through human affairs.  Listen, I don’t know what’s going on in Iraq.  I think it’s such a sad situation.  But you know, I just know that God is on the throne sovereignly working invisibly through even horrible human affairs.

 

  1. Be Generaous and begin to Share the New Things in Your Suitcase- This will Bring freedom for Generations to Come

 

PastorAl

Al Soto has been married to his incredible wife Valerie for 30 years and they have five sons and one grandson. Al has been in Local Church Ministry for 35 years as both as a Lead Pastor, Associate Pastor, and for five years as a Regional Overseer for his denomination. He has a BA degree from LIFE Pacific College and is currently completing an MA in Leadership & Spiritual Formation from Vanguard University. He currently resides in Lincoln, CA where he is the new Lead Pastor for one of the Campus locations for Bayside Church. He continues to coach High School Football for the Lincoln Fighting Zebras for the Junior Varsity Program and is facilitating Leadership training and coaching as well as facilitating Spiritual Retreats. His hobbies include Golfing and Scuba Diving as well as he is a veracious reader. His Life Statement is “Real Success is Helping others to Succeed!”

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The Breadth of Prayer: Ephesians 6:18

Image-1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Apostle Paul in this verse is expanding our perspective to prayer. The phrase that translates in the New International Version, “on all occasions” comes from the Greek word “panti” which is an all-encompassing word that embraces everything, including the smallest and most minute details.[1] The last word in this Greek phrase is the word “Kairo”, the word for time and seasons. When all these words are used together in one phrase (en panti kairo) as in Ephesians 6:18, they could more accurately be translated at every occasion.[2]

The verse goes further to state that we are to pray “with all prayer.” This phrase is taken from the Greek phrase “dia pases proseuches” and would be better translated “with all kinds of prayer.”[3] With all the challenges of life that we face it only makes sense that we need to have the capacity to pray a variety of prayers.

The Apostle Paul expands the breadth of our prayer by stating that we should “Keep on praying for all of the Lord’s people.” Some years ago I remember John Maxwell declaring, “That if you want to have break through a problem in your own life pray for somebody else that has the same problem.” This statement rings with truth but I also think in Paul’s ecclesiology our relationship as a part of the Church is not relegated to a location but rather it is a broader community. Our tendency is to diagnose the issues that people struggle with rather than pray for them.

A transliteration of this verse is:

“Prayer is an ongoing conversation; praying in the spirit includes every form of prayer, whether it be a prayer of request or a prayer of thanksgiving, or worship or interceding for all to realize their saintly innocence. Oh, and remember, you do not have to do all the talking! Always be attentive to the voice of the Spirit.”[4]

No matter how gifted or skilled you may be, or how bold and courageous you think you are, you simply cannot maintain a victorious position in life apart from prayer.

  1. C.S. Lewis wrote in his book Mere Christianity that this world is enemy-occupied territory and that Christianity is the story of how the rightful king has landed, and is calling us all to take part in a great campaign of sabotage. And it is primarily through prayer that much of this sabotage takes place. Prayer is how we spiritually fight back against the enemy. “Prayer is fundamentally a warfare activity.

 

Gordon Fee when giving his thoughts on this verse interprets in the context of the Apostle Paul’s use of the phrase “pray in the spirit.”  Her goes onto state, “Perhaps we should note that the feeble prayers of God’s people, spoken in their own strength and often in desperation, while heard on high, are surely not the stuff of “routing the foe.” It is because we do not know how to pray as we ought, we need to lean more heavily on “praying in/by the Spirit,”[5] It is important that we understand this phrase that it does not define prayer as our cry of desperation or our “grocery list” of requests that we bring before our heavenly Abba; prayer is an activity inspired by God himself., through his Holy Spirit. It is God siding with his people and, by his own empowering presence, the Spirit of God himself bringing forth prayer that is in keeping with God’s will and his ways.[6] There is nothing more in the same rhythm as the heartbeat of God than to pray for his people.

 

Praying for God’s people globally, in the Spirit does five things for us:

 

  1. It connects us with the global Mission of God that allows us to be connected with His Church. We are not alone but rather we are a part of this agency of the kingdom of God called the Church that is the force of reconciliation in our world.
  2. It breaks a form of spiritual narcissism that does not allow me to look beyond me. My awe of the beauty of the body of Christ increases as as I pray for others.
  3. It reminds me that spiritual warfare is not simply an action done by individuals but it is a response of the Community of the King both locally and globally declaring that satanic forces cannot rule over a neighborhood or a city of a region.
  4. It gives focus to the real enemy and that is not other believers or churches. We are all on the same team.
  5. Finally, it increases my spiritual empathy to “weep those who weep and to rejoice with those who rejoice.”

 

Lord help me become more of a person who prays!


[1] (Renner 2003) p 117.

[2] (Renner 2003) p 117.

[3] (Renner 2003) p 117.

[4] (Toit 2012) p 189.

[5] (Fee 1994) p 731.

[6] (Fee 1994) p 731.


Works Cited

Fee, Gordon D. God’s Empowering Presence: The Holy Spirit in the Letters of Paul. Peabody, Massachusetts: Hendrickson Publishers, 1994.

Renner, Rick. Sparkeling Gems from the Greek. Tulsa, Oaklahoma: Teach All Nations, 2003.

Toit, Francois du. Mirror Bible. Hermanus: Francois du Toit, 2012.

 

 

 

 

PastorAl

Al Soto has been married to his incredible wife Valerie for 30 years and they have five sons and one grandson. Al has been in Local Church Ministry for 35 years as both as a Lead Pastor, Associate Pastor, and for five years as a Regional Overseer for his denomination. He has a BA degree from LIFE Pacific College and is currently completing an MA in Leadership & Spiritual Formation from Vanguard University. He currently resides in Lincoln, CA where he is the new Lead Pastor for one of the Campus locations for Bayside Church. He continues to coach High School Football for the Lincoln Fighting Zebras for the Junior Varsity Program and is facilitating Leadership training and coaching as well as facilitating Spiritual Retreats. His hobbies include Golfing and Scuba Diving as well as he is a veracious reader. His Life Statement is “Real Success is Helping others to Succeed!”

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Why People Circle the Wagons During Difficult Times? The Challenge of Imaginative Gridlock! Part 1 of 2

 

 

 

 

 

The meaning of idioms generally alters as time passes, but sometimes the original meaning is also based on a false premise. The idea that settlers of the west were often threatened by marauding Native American tribes and had to “circle the wagons” for protection is something of a myth. This idea has been perpetuated by many western movies that showed settlers in conflict with native tribes who would attack circled wagon trains in their territory. In fact, however, many Native American tribes were friendly to the settlers, and initially welcomed their presence.

With the passing of time the use of this idiom has come to identify a group of people who are experiencing crisis and the cease to communicate or relationally engage with people who are outside their relational circle. This is a common behavior that I have the opportunity to experience as a leader when attempting to lead a congregation of people who are experiencing crisis. When it comes to organizational change I fully embrace Family Systems Theory as it relates to how all people within a relational context are connected and they influence the behaviors of others in their relational community.

 

Gridlock

In the past ten years I have the opportunity to lead congregations that have suffered crisis situations dealing with leadership and issues related to a culture that began to become regressive meaning that they began to function in a way that was more about keeping the status quo versus being on mission. They create “gridlocked systems” which imaginative thinking becomes stuck and Edwin H. Friedman states that three characteristics mark this kind of system: (1) First, they begin to practice a never-ending treadmill of trying harder to create change. The tendency is leaders and people will become frantic as they attempt to change all of the peripheral things they think needs to change rather than deal with the adaptive issues that relate to the cultural issues that must change. An example of this type of behavior would be a church that is attempting to have new comer lunches in order to connect with people but the culture of the ministry has become such a closed system the real issue is there are no people who are inviting and welcoming new people into their areas of ministry. There are not enough newcomer lunches to fix a culture that is uninviting. Friedman states, “The treadmill of trying harder is driven by the assumption that failure is to the fact that one did not try hard enough, use the right technique, or get enough information.[1] (2) Second, attribute of an imaginatively gridlocked relationship system is a continual search for new answers to old questions rather than an effort to reframe the questions themselves. Innovations are new answers to old questions; paradigm shifts reframe the question, change the information that is important, and generally eliminate previous dichotomies.[2] (3) Third, characteristic of gridlocked relationship systems is either/or, black-or-white, all-or-nothing ways of thinking that eventually restrict the options of the mind.[3] Rigid dichotomies are always an indicator that there is something wrong in the original orientation concerning an issue.

Remembering the Future: Breaking Gridlock

 

“Not much happens without a dream,” Robert Greenleaf says, “and for something great to happen there must be a great dream.” The vision is a way a group defines itself and chartering its purpose. It has to be bigger than any one leader. The vision can only be stewarded by leaders who are well differentiated themselves. This means that leaders who are leading through a relationally gridlocked system must be a non-anxious presence while leading a paradigm shift to a new future. In a gridlocked system there will be individual people who never distinguished the difference from the former “Primus Leader” and the church. Matter of fact, they could even have had a horrific relationship with the previous leader and continue to define the success of the church based on the old paradigm of the former leader. This becomes a form of circling the wagons in that the is a regressive wall to any new attempts to a new future. In order to lead in a healthy way a leader must commit themselves to three emotional practices:

  • First, the leader that is leading change must be committed to “stewarding ones-self before stewarding the vision.”[4] Being a dreamer and one who is attempting to lead into a new future can only be effective to the degree that a leader functions with integrity and promotes responsibility in others. Peter L. Steinke writes, “The leader achieves this by defining self, regulating one’s own anxiety, staying connected to others, stimulating their resources, and staying the course.”[5]What does this mean? If a leader has an issue with control and is a perfectionist, you will create more anxiety in an already distressed system and you create a cataclysmic implosion. The leader is not to dominate others but rather is to function to affect the group so that resources are energized and their functions are promoted. Because of the leader’s position in the system, it is the leader who can most affect calm, focus, and change in the group.
  • Second, the leader must speak the truth in love. Leading through gridlock means that you as the leader will have individuals who find a source of power in the midst of gridlock. They will function well in the midst of chaos and will even elevate their own emotional responses whenever their position of power in the system is threatened. It is important that you speak the truth in love in regards to this behavior because not doing so will erode the credibility you have within the system to lead into a new future. If you are a leader that fears conflict or has a need for others to like you this will be challenging. When working through conflict I have the team present to process this in order that there is no reinterpretation of what was discussed. It is important that you as a leader do not personalize the reactions of others. To do so will set you up for your own vulnerability to overreact and create more anxiety in the relational system.
  • Third, use every opportunity to teach and model healthy thinking and behavior. When churches and organizations get to the place that gridlock has overtaken them remember that you as the leader must educate and equip them to something that may be very foreign for them to grasp. For instance, in one situation I had to lead through everything was buried under spiritual language. In this context the devil was blamed for everything to the degree that there was more discussion about Satan than there was about one being a bully or acting out in an inappropriate manner. When was there was debate it was common for people to declare, we just need to pray and trust the Lord.” I do believe in prayer and I do trust the Lord but I quickly was able to discern what they really feared was the dissonance that comes with healthy community. I had to help them identify when we were debating issues if something was a Problem to solve or a tension point that we need to manage. This team of people came to the place of no longer talking in terms of the either/or but instead they began to embrace the genius of the “And.”

I would encourage any man or woman who is leading through a church or organization that is struggling with “imaginative gridlock” to have relational resources of overseers and colleagues that you can connect with in order to do emotional and spiritual check-ins in order to remain differentiated.

Here is a final thought and that is Paul’s prayer for the Colossian Church in Colossians 1:9-12, has become a point of encouragement and strength while leading through gridlocked emotional systems. It is a reminder to me that there is a grace that God has in helping us remain connected and Hope Filled while breaking through gridlock. I made the decision to be a contagious carrier of HOPE!

 ______________________________________________________

[1] (Friedman 1999) p. 35.

[2] (Friedman 1999) p 37.

[3] (Friedman 1999) p 39.

[4] (Steinke 1993) p 118.

[5] (Steinke 1993) p 118.

__________________________________

Works Cited

Friedman, Edwin H. A failure of Nerve: Leadership in the Age of the Quick Fix. New York, New York: Seabury Books, 1999.

Steinke, Peter L. How Your Church Family Works: Understanding Congregations as Emotional Systems. Herndon, VA: The Alban Institute , 1993.

PastorAl

Al Soto has been married to his incredible wife Valerie for 30 years and they have five sons and one grandson. Al has been in Local Church Ministry for 35 years as both as a Lead Pastor, Associate Pastor, and for five years as a Regional Overseer for his denomination. He has a BA degree from LIFE Pacific College and is currently completing an MA in Leadership & Spiritual Formation from Vanguard University. He currently resides in Lincoln, CA where he is the new Lead Pastor for one of the Campus locations for Bayside Church. He continues to coach High School Football for the Lincoln Fighting Zebras for the Junior Varsity Program and is facilitating Leadership training and coaching as well as facilitating Spiritual Retreats. His hobbies include Golfing and Scuba Diving as well as he is a veracious reader. His Life Statement is “Real Success is Helping others to Succeed!”

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Lent: Liberation for the Soul!

Season of Lent

I am the current transitional pastor of Recreate Church which is located in San Jose, CA, and I wrote this for a blog article concerning some of the reasons why I am convinced that the Season of Lent is important for us to identify how Jesus Christ becomes our perfect example of how to overcome temptation from his own earthly journey of 40 days in the wilderness. We live in a day in which we are confronting the symptoms of people’s issues not confronting the reality of what is the cause. There is a need for us to begin to tend to the care and the nurture of our “Soul.” The symptoms of the chronic implosion of people’s lives from destructive thoughts that lead to destructive behaviors is a symptom of the neglect and poverty of the condition of people’s soul. Often times our approach to “Soul-Care” is to treat with more religious information as well as religious activity. This does not heal the soul!

Therefore, in a microwave world in which we are addicted to the busyness of our daily lives it is imperative that we who are unconditionally loved by God begin to learn and practice the gift of “Solitude.” It is the late, Henri Nouwen, when speaking of the transformative opportunities in one’s practice of solitude who states, “Jesus changes our history from a random series of sad incidents and accidents into a constant opportunity for a change of heart.” It is my prayer that I do not run to another coping mechanism but instead, “I run towards my Father’s Heart!”  It is in living in rhythm with His heartbeat that I live out my “True-Self.”

Winter 2016 Picture

 

 

 

 

 

Dear Recreate:

 

I am at a Panera Bread in San Jose getting ready for a full-day of meeting people and I thought I would take the time to communicate why I so appreciate the Season of Lent? Furthermore, I would like to take a moment to express why GOD’S timing is in this season for us as a faith community.

 

Yesterday, was Ash Wednesday, which is the beginning of this season of Lent. For many years I have used the rhythms of the liturgical calendar as part of my own personal “spiritual formation.” Historically, the Liturgical calendar engages us in the earthly life and ministry of Jesus Christ. In my practice of solitude I can reflect on very specific moments in the earthly ministry of Jesus Christ, which allows me to reflect and become open to those things that are in the areas of my “Soul” that continue to default to me living out my “False-Self.” It is in the sphere of my “False-Self” that I must surrender to the work of the Spirit to bring every aspect of “ME” into the full obedience to Christ.

 

In light of this, the Season of Lent was never meant to be a season which all about “ME” or the sacrifices I am making but instead, it is a season in which I am furthering my connection and relationship to God. It is in this season prior to Easter in which the awesome and miraculous event of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ is celebrated. I am now invited on the journey with Christ and his 40 days in the wilderness as he is confronting temptation as Luke records “He leaves the wilderness in the power of the Holy Spirit.” It is a redemptive cycle of the Kingdom of God, which is like the seed which falls to the ground and experiences death only to be brought into “New Life!”

 

We as a team of people have been through a remarkable season in which we have to come to place of internal honesty in asking if we have the capacity to move forward. Through communal discernment with our leaders and we as team seeking the heart of God for our church the answer is – “There is A Future for RECREATE CHURCH!

 

Therefore, allow me to use the pattern of Jesus’ temptation in the wilderness to set a course for our own journey as people who are moving ahead into our new future. Because I am on this journey with you I would like to invite you to spiritually partner with me concerning three areas of my life that I would want the Holy Spirit to work in me. They are:

 

  1. The temptation to turn “Rocks into Bread.” The answer that Jesus gave was, “Man does not live by bread alone.” What are the areas in my life that default to wanting to take matters into my own hands to have the needs of both myself and others met? What are the myth’s that I continue to default to that keep me in my “false-self” not more fully trusting Christ! In this season I desire to partake of the bread of life that Jesus Christ has for me. God free me from areas of self-sufficiency!

 

  1. The temptation in which Jesus was challenged to worship the adversary so that the kingdoms of this world would be given to him. What are the areas of my life that I have given place to idols that keep me stuck in my relationship with God? Al Soto in his “false-self” does not have as many of the coping mechanisms that my adversary has tactics for me being ensnared. God free me from my idolatry!

 

  1. The temptation that Jesus faced that if He would throw himself down from the cliff His father would have armies of angels to rescue Him. Jesus declares in response, “Do not test the Lord your God.” What are the areas of my life in which I desire to place God down to my finite human level in order that he would agree with my assumptions of life? Assumptions keep me from reality of the truth. Assumptions keep me stuck into believing lies. I need to go back and ask the Lord what the truth is so that it will set me free. God free me from my attempt to take on your job description and play God!

 

Thank you for taking the time to read my thoughts. I sure love each one of you and am so appreciative to be on this journey with men and women who desire to fully obey Christ!

 

Al Soto


Recreate Church is a small growing community that is in a season of revitalization as they begin to reimagine their new future! Celebration Services are at 10 AM, Luther Burbank School located on 4 Wabash Ave, San Jose, CA. http://www.recreatechurch.com

PastorAl

Al Soto has been married to his incredible wife Valerie for 30 years and they have five sons and one grandson. Al has been in Local Church Ministry for 35 years as both as a Lead Pastor, Associate Pastor, and for five years as a Regional Overseer for his denomination. He has a BA degree from LIFE Pacific College and is currently completing an MA in Leadership & Spiritual Formation from Vanguard University. He currently resides in Lincoln, CA where he is the new Lead Pastor for one of the Campus locations for Bayside Church. He continues to coach High School Football for the Lincoln Fighting Zebras for the Junior Varsity Program and is facilitating Leadership training and coaching as well as facilitating Spiritual Retreats. His hobbies include Golfing and Scuba Diving as well as he is a veracious reader. His Life Statement is “Real Success is Helping others to Succeed!”

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Sermon at Recreate Church Joshua 3: Welcome to Your New Future!

JOSHUA 3

 

SO LONG TO YOUR OLD LIFE

 

HOW TO CROSS THE JORDAN

 

“Unbelief says, ‘Let’s go back to where it’s safe.’ Faith says, ‘Let’s go forward to where God is working. Forty years before, Joshua and Caleb had assured the nation, ‘Let us go up at once, and possess it; for we are well able to overcome.’ That’s faith! But the people said, ‘We are not able!’ That’s unbelief, and it cost the nation forty years in the wilderness.”   –WARREN WIERSBE

 

RAY1-31-16.007

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

RAY1-31-16.008

 

 

 The two spies had returned from Jericho, having followed Joshua’s orders to check out the land and the city. They had escaped discovery with Rahab’s help, and now they give their report to General Joshua. Their hearts were bursting with joy as they said the words of Joshua 2:24: “The LORD has handed over the entire land to us. Everyone who lives in the land is also panicking because of us.”

This was the news Joshua had been waiting for. Immediately he dispatched runners throughout the vast camp of Israel, announcing that first thing the next morning, they would break camp and pitch their tents on the banks of the Jordan River. They would finally come to the entry point of the Promised Land. Verse 1 of Chapter 3 records the event: Joshua started early the next morning and left Acacia Grove with all the Israelites. They went as far as the Jordan and stayed there before crossing.

The journey from Acacia Grove to the river’s edge is an easy one–just a few miles over smooth ground. So we can assume that the Israelites probably finished relocating before the sun had risen high in the sky. I’m sure the buzz throughout the tribes was the same: “This is the day! We will stand in the brink of a dream. We will come again to the place where our forefathers blew it; only this time, we will obey!”

But as they approached the famous river that formed a barrier between them and their longed-for real estate, what they saw by the light of day was both confusing and dreadful. The Jordan was defiantly uncrossable! There’s a simple sentence in v. 15 that gives us the picture: Now the Jordan overflows its banks throughout the harvest season. The gentle Jordan was now a raging river, swelled to flood stage. Currents can reach up to 40-miles an hour when the Jordan floods. What is more, the plain that surrounds this river was packed with tangled brush and dense growth. Jeremiah the prophet mentions the thickets of Jordan (Jeremiah 12:5). One writer said, “it was not the river so much as the jungle that was difficult to cross.” [1]

So here’s the scene. The Jordan has swelled its banks, spreading about a mile across, ranging in depth from 3 feet to 12 feet, all covering thick undergrowth that could easily trip someone up and cast them into an overwhelming current. This was the sight that greeted the multiple hundreds of thousands that pitched their tents alongside the river.

The Bible tells us that they spent the next three days right there, the passing torrent eroding all confidence. The waiting pounded reality into every Israelite. You could hear the doubts over night fires: “Maybe the strong among us can brave this flood, but how can we cross with infants, with the sickly, with the aged, not to mention all our possessions strapped to wagons?” An insistent “no” began to form in their hearts as they listened to the roar of the water.

It’s easy for us to relate to the emotions and thoughts of Israel. So many of us face “personal Jordans” that feel so permanent and powerful that we don’t even try to make it across. Our lives feel stalled, stuck on the wrong side of God’s promises. We read about the abundant life, but can’t make it out of the wilderness. Churches can feel that way too, stalemated by the promise of something great with God, but blocked by all kinds of barriers.

But with God can turn a “no way” into a highway! The great question that loomed over the camp of Israel and over our lives today is, “Will we walk by sight or by faith? Do we really believe God can handle the impossible?”

Joshua 3 goes on to tell us something that is echoed throughout Scripture: What is impossible with men is possible with God. (Luke 18:27). God was about to reveal the steps that must be taken in every life and in every church if we are to move from grounded to grateful, from marooned in the past to marveling at God’s future! The experiences and decisions reported in this chapter were a major breakthrough for Israel. A whole new generation learned that victory depended totally upon Him!

As we stand on the brink of the God-sized future and consider the obstacles that hinder us, it can feel like we’re facing an impossible task between here and there. But these things are no match for the God of the Uncrossable! He knows how to get you from stuck to triumphant! Just look.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  1. RELEASE the Past – GRACE of God

 

“Early in the morning Joshua and all the Israelites set out from Shittim and went to the Jordan…”  JOSHUA 3:1

acacias, also called “Abel-shittim” (Num. 33:49), a plain or valley in the land of Moab where the Israelites were encamped after their two victories over Sihon and Og, at the close of their desert wanderings, and from which Joshua sent forth two spies (q.v.) “secretly” to “view” the land and Jericho (Josh. 2:1). Acacia, any of about 800 species of trees and shrubs comprising a genus (Acacia) in the pea family (Fabaceae) and native to tropical and subtropical regions of the world, particularly Australia (there called wattles) and Africa. Acacias’ distinctive leaves take the form of small, finely divided leaflets that give the leafstalk a feathery or fernlike (i.e., pinnate) appearance. In many Australian and Pacific species, the leaflets are suppressed or absent altogether, and the leafstalks (petioles) are flattened and perform the physiological functions of leaves. The leafstalks may be vertically arranged and bear thorns or sharp spines at their base. Acacias are also distinguished by their small, often fragrant flowers, which are arranged in compact globular or cylindrical clusters. The flowers are usually yellow but occasionally white and have many stamens apiece, giving each one a fuzzy appearance.

 

ILLUSTRATION – Circus Elephants and the Stake:

 

 

Nobody goes forward well clinging to their past. But sometimes people stop at grace like that’s all there is. And they get funky and stuck.

 

Why is that?

 

 

  1. REFRESH your Spirit – WORD of God

 

Excitement Builds:  Joshua said to the priests, ‘Take up the ark of the covenant and pass on ahead of the people.’ So they took it up and went ahead of them.”  JOSHUA 3:6

 

Excitement Builds Further:  And the Lord said to Joshua, ‘Today I will begin to exalt you in the eyes of all Israel, so they may know that I am with you as I was with Moses.”   JOSHUA 3:7

 

Beginning to Move:  “Tell the priests who carry the ark of the covenant: ‘When you reach the edge of the Jordan’s waters, go and stand in the river.’”  JOSHUA 3:8

 

“Joshua said to the Israelites, ‘Come here and listen to the words of the Lord your God.”  JOSHUA 3:9

 

How do you do that? The WORD of God.

 

The grace of God will release you from the past.

The word of God will refresh your spirit and recharge your batteries.

 

 

Now this is actually kind of surprising. Check these verses out.

 

Joshua – the excitement builds.

 

Picture this.

Anybody here under 20?

Anybody here over 40? Right now add 40 years to your age. Some of you are now 120 – or you feel that way!

 

Picture this. The service went long and you’ve been here 40 years. You’re still here. We’ve been delivering pizza – or manna – and you’re still here.

 

And all of a sudden after 40 years Joshua goes,

God’s finally delivered us. Let’s GO.

 

And the whole nation of Israel, all 2 million of them line up.

Joshua goes “on your mark”     “get set”

 

Oh wait, hold up a minute.

 

What???

 

Go down to the last verse.

 

Joshua goes, on your mark, get set,

Come here for a second.

 

He says come here and do what? Come here and listen to the words of the LORD your God.  Joshua 3:9

 

This is a very important step.

 

Why?

 

Write this down:

RAY1-31-16.018

 

Grace will free you and the truth will fuel you.

 

And you need both. Nothing goes forward if it’s not freed from the past. Nothing goes forward if it’s not fueled.

 

How many of you drove a car here today? How many have gas in that car?

 

If your car is empty it will not go forward.

 

Nothing. Goes. Forward. Without. Fuel. (louder/energy)

 

So Joshua says you are going to need fuel and here it is: The Word of God.

 

I heard this story the other day:

 

A university student shared a room with a Muslim roommate. As they became friends their conversation often turned to their faith and beliefs. The believer asked the Muslim if she had ever read the Bible. “No”. The Muslim asked the believer if she had ever read the Bible and she said, “no I haven’t but I bet it would be interesting. Why don’t we both, once a week, read both together, alternating parts?”

 

So they did.

 

And the second semester their friendship deepened and during that term the young Muslim became a follower of Jesus Christ.

 

One evening, late into the term, she burst into the room and shouted at the believer, “you deceived me”

 

She said, “what are you talking about?”

 

The new believer opened up her Bible and said, “I’ve been reading this thing through and I just read this verse:”

 

Here it is (SLIDE)

 

“For the Word of God is alive and active.” Hebrews 4:12

 

“I just read that verse and you never told me the Bible was living and alive.” She grinned, “you knew all along the Bible contains God’s presence and his power and the Koran is just a book.”

 

“I never had a chance.”

 

Isn’t that awesome?

 

So the believer says, “So are you mad at me?”

 

‘No. But you’ve got to admit it was an unfair contest.”

 

Isn’t that great?

 

The Bible is a very alive and life changing book. And when you get into it, it will fuel you for your future like nothing else. It’s why we teach it around here.

 

Matter of fact, we are launching a new message series next week on this book: Proverbs (SLIDE)

 

It’s an incredible book.

 

Why do we need a series on the book of Proverbs?

Because Recreate, we want to go somewhere we’ve never been before and we need to live like we’ve never lived before!

 

Proverbs is about one thing: Upgrading your life (SLIDE)

 

Isn’t that brilliant? It’s THE comprehensive book – everything you need to upgrade your life in any area.

 

Pick an area. Proverbs will teach you how to upgrade your life.

(read a few areas)

 

There’s a reason it’s the one book in the Bible Billy Graham has read every day of his life for the past 60 years. And you get to join him starting next week.

 

Why are we doing this?

 

Because Grace Frees; Truth Fuels

 

Now here’s the deal:

Once you’re freed, and you’re fueled, that doesn’t da any good unless you take

 

 

  1. RELY on God – AUTHENTIC FAITH

THREE MARKS OF

FUTURE-CHANGING FAITH

 

Rely on God and take a step of faith.

In other words, it’s time I go forward. It’s time we go forward Recreate.

 

Let’s go back for a minute to the beginning of the message. I want to look at a great verse we moved over quickly.  It’s a great verse and it’s going to be the hinge for this morning.

 

Joshua 3, verse 5

 

Joshua is getting ready to go to a brand new place for people:

 

SLIDE  Joshua told the people, consecrate yourselves, for tomorrow the LORD will do amazing things among you.”

 

He basically says, you want God’s best? Step one is to consecrate yourselves.

 

Here’s what that means>

 

Consecrate yourselves means you take yourself and you put yourself in the hands of God.

 

Now some of you are going, whoa! Hold on here. If I really give my whole life to God. If I put him in charge, if I say God I will do whatever you want me to do, I’m going to turn into some religious nut case. Will I turn into one of those weirdo’s?

 

No.

 

When a human being puts themselves into the hands of God what happens? EMPHASIS

 

Fast forward to the New Testament.

Jesus one day has got 5000 people around him and they’re all hungry. What do they do? They take a couple loaves of bread and some fish they put it into the hands of Jesus.

 

What does Jesus do with that? He multiplies it and does amazing things with it!

 

When you put yourself into the hands of Jesus he will multiply your life and do amazing things with your future.

 

Consecrate yourselves. Put yourselves in God’s hands for tomorrow the Lord will do amazing things among you.

 

 

 

  • LEADS YOU TO DO THINGS NEVER DONE BEFORE

 

“Then you will know which way to go, since you have never been this way before.”  JOSHUA 3:4A

 

 

 

 

  • TRUSTS GOD ENOUGH TO DO WHAT HE SAYS

 

“Tell the priests who carry the ark of the covenant: ‘When you reach the edge of the Jordan’s waters, go and stand in the river.’ JOSHUA 3:8

 

 

 

  • BELIEVES GOD HAS AMAZING PLANS FOR TOMORROW

 

“Joshua told the people, ‘Consecrate yourselves, for tomorrow the Lord will do amazing things among you.'”  JOSHUA 3:5

REMEMBERING GOD’S FAITHFULNESS

 

VIDEO: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0Ejh_hb15Fc

 

JOSHUA 4:1-2, 7

1When the whole nation had finished crossing the Jordan, the Lord said to Joshua, 2“Choose twelve men from among the people…

 

3and tell them to take up twelve stones from the middle of the Jordan…and carry them over with you and put them down at the place where you stay tonight.”

 

6…In the future, when your children ask you, ‘What do these stones mean?’

 

7tell them that the flow of the Jordan was cut off before the ark of the covenant of the Lord. When it crossed the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan were cut off. These stones are to be a memorial to the people of Israel forever.”

 

 

EPHESIANS 3:20-21

“Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.”

 

PastorAl

Al Soto has been married to his incredible wife Valerie for 30 years and they have five sons and one grandson. Al has been in Local Church Ministry for 35 years as both as a Lead Pastor, Associate Pastor, and for five years as a Regional Overseer for his denomination. He has a BA degree from LIFE Pacific College and is currently completing an MA in Leadership & Spiritual Formation from Vanguard University. He currently resides in Lincoln, CA where he is the new Lead Pastor for one of the Campus locations for Bayside Church. He continues to coach High School Football for the Lincoln Fighting Zebras for the Junior Varsity Program and is facilitating Leadership training and coaching as well as facilitating Spiritual Retreats. His hobbies include Golfing and Scuba Diving as well as he is a veracious reader. His Life Statement is “Real Success is Helping others to Succeed!”

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What’s Your Leadership Style?

Leadership Styles

 

 

Perhaps in the despair over defining leadership, management theorists have attempted to picture it in terms of style. In using such a broad term, they are attempting to describe how the person operates, rather than what he is. If you think about a number of leaders that you know personally, you can probably come up with your own summation of their style: “He’s a player/coach kind of guy,” or “she’s a prima donna,” or “he’s a one man show.” In other words, we tend to characterize a leader on the way he/she leads by our personal; perception of him or her. It follows that one person may feel differently than another about a leader’s style. “Style” turns out to be the summation of how the leader goes about carrying out his or her leadership function and how he is perceived by those he is attempting to lead or those who may be observing from the sidelines.

 

What leadership styles Are There?

 

Since leadership style includes how a person operates within the context of his organization, it is easiest to discuss different leadership styles by describing the type of organization or ministry which either results from his or is appropriate for a particular style.  There are five leadership styles that function in various organizations:

 

Bureaucratic – This is a style marked by a continual reference to organization rules and regulations. It is assumed that somehow difficulties can be ironed out if everyone will abide by the rules. Decisions are made by parliamentary procedures. The leader is a diplomat and learns how to use the majority rule way to get people to perform. Compromise is a way of life because in order to have one decision accepted by the majority it is often necessary to give in on another.

 

Permissive – Here the desire is to keep everyone in the group satisfied. Keeping people happy is the name of the game. It is assumed that if people feel good about themselves and others that the organization will function, and thus the job will get done. Coordination often suffers with this style.

 

Laissez-faire – This is practically no leadership at all and allows everything to run its own course. The leaders simply perform a maintenance function.  For example, a pastor may act as a figurehead as far as the leadership of the organization is concerned and concern himself only with his preaching while others are left to work out the details of how the organization should operate. This style is sometimes used by leaders who are away a great deal or who have been temporarily put in charge.

 

Participative – This is used by those who believe the way to motivate others is to involve them in the decision-making process. This hopefully creates a goal ownership and a feeling of shared purpose. Here the problem is the delay in action in times of crisis.

 

 

Autocratic – This is marked by reliance upon authority and usually assumes that people will not do anything unless told to. It discourages innovation. The leader sees him/her as indispensable. Decisions can be made quickly.

 

What do these styles Assume?

 

Notice that each one of these styles depends to a large extent on one’s view of people and what motivates them. Since the function of leadership is to lead, getting people to follow is of the primary importance. The Bureaucratic leader somehow believes that everyone can agree on the best way to do things and that there is some system outside of human relationships that can be used as a guide. Hence rules and regulations.

The permissive leader wants everyone (including himself) to feel good. Internal stress is viewed as being bad for the organization (and perhaps even unchristian).

The laissez-faire leader either assumes that the organization is running so well that he can’t add to it, or he assumes that organizations really don’t need a focal point of leadership.

The participative leader usually enjoys solving problems and working with others. He assumes that others feel the same way, and therefore, the most will be accomplished by working together and sharing all the decisions and goals.

The autocratic leader assumes that people will only do what they are told to do and/or that he/she knows what is best. In other words, he may appear to be a dictator. (But he is also a benevolent dictator).

 

Which Style is Best?

 

Leaders are different. But so are followers! Which is another way of saying that some situations demand one style of leader, while others demand a different one? Leaders are different. At any given time the leadership needs of an organization may vary from another time. Since organizations have difficulty continually changing their leaders, it follows that those leaders will need different styles at different times. The appropriate style depends a great deal on the task of the organization, the phase of life of the organization, and the needs of the moment.

What might be some examples of how the task of the organization affects leadership style? A fire department cannot perform without at least some autocratic leadership. When the time comes for the organization to perform, to do what it was designed to do, autocratic leadership is a must. There is no time to sit down and to discuss how to attack the fire. One trained person has to decide for the group, and the group must abide by his decision. Later on there may be more free discussion on which way will be best next time. On the other hand, a medical group might best be operated with a permissive style.

An autocratic style may even be needed in a Christian organization! In times of crisis, such as the evacuation of mission personnel, or the need to radically reduce costs, the leader often must act unilaterally.

Organizations go through different phases of their life. During periods of rapid growth and expansion, autocratic leadership may work very well.  For example, the founder of a new Christian organization, or the founding pastor of a church, is often a charismatic figure who knows intuitively what is to be done and how to do it. Since the vision is his/hers he is best able to impart it to others without discussion. But during periods of slow growth or consolidation, the organization needs to be much more reflective to attempt to be more efficient. Participative leadership may be the order of the day.

Both of these considerations need to be tempered by the needs of the moment. A leader must be sensitive to the life-situation of the organization or they ministry group in which they lead.[1]

 

Fitting Style to Organization

 

It follows that ideally a leader should have many different styles. He should be a man for all seasons, shifting from the permissiveness of summer to the demands of winter.

Looking at it from the side of the organization, the organization needs to adopt a strategy for effectiveness, taking into account its needs and its “product.” Most voluntary organizations and not-for-profit organizations are founded on the assumption of a common vision and shared goals. They have a strategy of seeking success (reaching their goals).  If an organization on adopts a strategy to avoid failure it will never succeed because it will have to exercise courage in certain moments to do something that beyond a certain level of comfort. Evert team that I have been the leader I have stressed that, it is important our leaders understand their style and relate it to our commitment of practicing Servant-Leadership. A good leader in understanding their propensity for a certain leadership style will always keep in their focus that one must be able to Recruit, Equip, Empower, Encourage, and Emancipate volunteers effectively. Hey Al! Why do you use the word emancipate? Because we realize that every person is God’s Masterpiece that has already been created to do good works (Eph. 2:10), which means that the ultimate task of a leader is to see that God’s artwork is put on display in the right place.


 

[1] Ted W. Engstrom & Edward R. Dayton, The Art of Management for Christian Leaders,

(Word Books, Waco Texas, 1976) p. 31.

PastorAl

Al Soto has been married to his incredible wife Valerie for 30 years and they have five sons and one grandson. Al has been in Local Church Ministry for 35 years as both as a Lead Pastor, Associate Pastor, and for five years as a Regional Overseer for his denomination. He has a BA degree from LIFE Pacific College and is currently completing an MA in Leadership & Spiritual Formation from Vanguard University. He currently resides in Lincoln, CA where he is the new Lead Pastor for one of the Campus locations for Bayside Church. He continues to coach High School Football for the Lincoln Fighting Zebras for the Junior Varsity Program and is facilitating Leadership training and coaching as well as facilitating Spiritual Retreats. His hobbies include Golfing and Scuba Diving as well as he is a veracious reader. His Life Statement is “Real Success is Helping others to Succeed!”

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Spirituality and our Body!

 

 

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(Painting:The Temple of His Body © Jan L. Richardson)

I had the opportunity to go on a Spiritual Retreat at the Mercy Center which is located in Auburn, California. The facilitator gave us a poem by Jan Richardson to read and then she wanted us to reflect and write what the Lord was speaking to us. Here is the poem:

Blessing the Body[1]

This blessing takes
one look at you
and all it can say is
holy.

Holy hands.
Holy face.
Holy feet.
Holy everything
in between.

Holy even in pain.
Holy even when weary.
In brokenness, holy.
In shame, holy still.

Holy in delight.
Holy in distress.
Holy when being born.
Holy when we lay it down
at the hour of our death.

So, friend,
open your eyes
(holy eyes).
For one moment
see what this blessing sees,
this blessing that knows
how you have been formed
and knit together
in wonder and
in love.

Welcome this blessing
that folds its hands
in prayer
when it meets you;
receive this blessing
that wants to kneel
in reverence
before you:
you who are
temple,
sanctuary,
home for God
in this world.

 

What an incredible poem! My focus was on the first stanza: “This blessing takes one look at you and all it can say is holy!” This stanza is a reminder to me of the amazing miraculous way that God has created me to be a mirror of His Image. The divine design of “Imago Dei” is the Constitutional Declaration that I belong to Him and He is in me! The very fabric of my DNA is birthed of His breath which enlivens me to the understanding that He desires to reside in me. Home than is not simply the destination of heaven as a future event but instead, it is an ever present reality in my “NOW MOMENTS” that He desires to be intimately connected to me!

 

He lives in the midst of the rhythms and routines of my life. At my work, at my play, in all things He is deeply aware of how I live. Furthermore, His heart aches to be part of that which He desires for me which is to be connected to Him in every aspect of my life. My openness involves me practicing a hospitality of inviting Him into every room of my heart.

 

With a whisper of His voice the finite connects with the infinite and once again my eyes become open with a sense of awe concerning the miracle of how I am designed by the Master Artist and the finger print of God seals my existence. He calls me to be with Him!


[1] This reflection is part of the series “Teach Me Your Paths: A Pilgrimage into Lent.” If you’re new to the series, welcome! You can visit the first post, Teach Me Your Paths: Entering Lent, to pick it up from the beginning. – See more at: http://paintedprayerbook.com/2012/03/05/3rd-sunday-in-lent-speaking-of-the-body/#sthash.4fHwBMCQ.dpuf From a lectionary reading for Lent 3: John 2.13-22 http://paintedprayerbook.com/2012/03/05/3rd-sunday-in-lent-speaking-of-the-body/

 

PastorAl

Al Soto has been married to his incredible wife Valerie for 30 years and they have five sons and one grandson. Al has been in Local Church Ministry for 35 years as both as a Lead Pastor, Associate Pastor, and for five years as a Regional Overseer for his denomination. He has a BA degree from LIFE Pacific College and is currently completing an MA in Leadership & Spiritual Formation from Vanguard University. He currently resides in Lincoln, CA where he is the new Lead Pastor for one of the Campus locations for Bayside Church. He continues to coach High School Football for the Lincoln Fighting Zebras for the Junior Varsity Program and is facilitating Leadership training and coaching as well as facilitating Spiritual Retreats. His hobbies include Golfing and Scuba Diving as well as he is a veracious reader. His Life Statement is “Real Success is Helping others to Succeed!”

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