Friday, November 27, 2015

Thoughts in the night. The process of change.

Thoughts in the night.

I met with a wonderful group of leaders recently. They are in process. They have been looking at their strengths and weaknesses. They are asking some hard questions. They are also writing, dreaming, re-adjusting. They are in transition. In our meeting I mentioned I saw a picture of a person who had pulled a bow string back in preparation ready to let an arrow fly.

Another picture: They were like a wave pulling away from shore, building up, gathering energy, getting ready to move forward and release the energy back upon the shore. 

The action of pulling back, zooming out, is a valuable season. They had been meeting together and had written four great thoughts concerning their transition into their new future and destiny.

Transition and change tips:

Focusing upon who you are becoming... leads people. 
Focusing and reacting to who you are not... drives people.

Focusing on who you are, who you are created to be is so important. Hitting to your strength is often how personal and corporate growth is achieved. Every person, every group is different. We are all unique and gifted. We have strengths and weaknesses. We all have talents and abilities that we must steward. 

We all have a unique identity as sons and daughters. Our identity is discovered, developed and deepened in our secret place. We are who our Father tells us we are. We reflect who were are by our words, actions, and attitudes. We are in process.

Change, transition is important. However, strong change and courage to change should flow out of the foundational principle of knowing who you are, whose you are, and who you are called to be. This is true as an individual and as a church.

This thought, "Being secure in who you are and whose you are", is so important, especially during the process of change, or transition within the context of community.  

Questions to ponder and discuss: 

Who are we? 
What is our strength?
What are we attempting to accomplish? 
Is where we are going, and who we are becoming flow out of who we are?
What is our history, from the perspective of what have we accomplished positively?
What was our initial vision for our city? Is it still relevant? 
How does our community define us? 
Are we still who our community defines us to be? If so, why so? If not, why not?
As leaders have we successfully shifted the language of vision and mission from I, my... to we together? (If not and you are still using... when I, I want you to, this is my,  the caution light is flashing.)
Why are we changing? 
Why are we shifting? 
How are we going to begin change, shift? 
What's the process?

If these questions are not clearly answered and processed over time, (over time is the central thought) on different levels (staff, key leaders, key people and your community of faith) certain crisis is inevitable. What you sow is what you reap?

Dialogue Needed 

This is who we are. This is why we are changing. This is what we are changing. This is how we are going to enter into change. This is when we are beginning to change. These thoughts help the process. Especially answering the big Why? question.

Other questions
Does change flow from our confidence of being who we are?
Do our people know their focused purpose? 
Are people secure in their personal identity as an individual, and as a group together?
If you are the main leader do people trust you?

If some of the above questions are not answered the foundation for change is shaky at best, and the road to change will be a difficult one. 

I met a pastor from Ireland. People told me he made a major decision when he first arrived. He wanted to focus the first five years on becoming who they were and called to be, then and only then launch new initiatives. He knew the value and the process of change and the importance having something authentic to give away. Now years later they are blessing their city and their world in a big way. They are currently revisiting identity, being brave and having courage.

One great leader said something I'll never forget, "Never, ever, bring people out of a current vision and mission, unless you have a clear process to nurture people into a new season of vision, mission and change."

Write the vision, make it plain so that the reader may read, embrace the vision, and run with it. Habakkuk 2:2 My paraphrase

Proverbs 29:18 Where there is no vision, the people perish NASB. 

Where there is no clear, prophetic vision, people run in circles, become discouraged, lose heart and become aimless. My paraphrase.

Wise leaders make a plan, and make a plan to make it plain. Bowen

Making the vision plain is part of the process. Before the change is launched, wise leaders make a plan, and make a plan to make it plain.

Some people are fast processors... they hear, understand and are ready to shift.

Some people are visual learners... they need to see the big picture, or paint the picture in their imagination of what the change looks like and why.  

Other people are internal processors... they need time hear, to think, reflect, ponder and understand. 

Some people are verbal processors... they need time to talk and be listened to.

The process takes time. Our decisions to change, and more importantly, how we enact change determine our destiny. 

Thoughts in the night are wonderful to ponder. Hopefully you pay attention to your thoughts in the night. They may be important sign posts for your life.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Entering Rest. You desire to discover new frontiers... It is time to travel."

Trip Stories: 1
You desire to discover new frontiers... It is time to travel."

What an amazing trip to the UK. I was on a recon mission, scouting out the land, reconnecting with people. and meeting new friends.

The Thursday before heading out I was in the Big Room positioning myself to worship, read, and receive. Toward the end of the time. I had an impression to look at my travel documents. I grabbed my ipad, found my AA ticket and looked it over. To my surprise my ticket was booked in my short name not my long name. My passport is in my long name. I thought, "O NO!." My emotion, dread. My thought, "You are so stupid."

 I called AA and asked if the names being different on ticket and passport mattered? Yes it mattered. I could not enter into the UK without my ticket name matching my passport name. I was told the travel agency had to unlock my ticket... they could not. 

Later, I called the travel agency they didn't know what to do. I called AA back. I was told to come to the airport with my passport. 

I went to the airport with passport. The lady at the desk attempted to change my name on the ticket but was locked out. I was told the travel agency would have to change the ticket. I called the agency and was put on hold for 2 hours. Finally I hung up. No one called back. I'm thinking this is gonna be an expensive trip at least $2000 dollars, plus my other paid ticket.

Friday t-minus 3 days. I called the agency through out the day. Finally I spoke to a guy named John. John explained the process and that I'd have to wait until Monday and to send a picture of my passport. "Someone would call Monday because this is the weekend and the people who can fix the issue from support have gone home for the weekend." I calmly reminded John that I was leaving Monday.

During the whole time of this crisis I was seeking to enter into rest and to flow from rest, more than flow from anxiety or stress. It was a battle.  A friend of mine came over on Friday evening and encouraged me. He simply said, "Father is in control." 

Pattie went out and bought a meal at the China Cottage. We were finished eating and she placed a fortune cookie next to me. I opened the note: "You desire to discover new frontiers... It's time to travel." Wow! 

The odds of this happening are like a 1 with a billion 0's. 

The process:
 Machine printed slip. Machine puts slip in cookie. Cookie is loaded into boxes of 350. The right box full of cookies is delivered to Ohio. Boxes are ordered by China Cottage. China Cottage receives boxes of cookies. Person reaches into storage area begins to use a box of cookies and places cookies into a bowl.  

We order food. Pattie waits for exactly the right amount of time then drives to China Cottage. Pattie goes to the desk to pick up the order. The Lady reaches into cookie bowl and places two cookies into our order bag. We eat our dinner. Pattie goes into the kitchen and gets the cookies and brings them into room and places the right cookie with the right slip next to me. I open cookie and get the message. Believe me I got the message. At this point I knew I was traveling.

I phone at 5am and connect with John. He says someone will phone by 11am I remind John I have to be at the airport by 1pm. So I hang up the phone and think, "How can I position myself to enter rest?"

I decided to head to my usual place of rest in the big room. When I arrived I didn't grab my guitar and sing. I knew I needed to spend time waiting, listening to music, being quiet and resting. 

At the end of my time I opened my ipad and attempted to log on as Steve but could not. I then attempted to log on as Stephen. Boomya! There was my full long name at the top of the booking. I shouted!

I scrolled down and to my surprise my name on my ticket was still wrong Stephenstrickler Bowen. By this time emotions were in control; faith was in my heart and my thoughts were ordered. I was convinced, I knew with no doubt, I was going on the trip no matter what was written on the ticket. So headed to the airport. 

I parked the car, grabbed my bag and got on the shuttle. As we were leaving the parking lot I received a phone call. The man said, "We fixed your ticket. All you have to do is to return my email I am sending to you.

I told the man, "Thanks so much. However, my ticket is still wrong. My name is Stephen first name,  Strickler middle name, and Bowen last name.

He replies, "Hold on I'll be right back." 

I put my phone on speaker and traveled to drop off point and went to the waiting area next to the check in desk at AA. 

Time passed then he came back on the phone and stated, "All fixed just send email confirming." So I sent an email confirming the fix.

He replied, "You are good to go." I thanked the man went to the desk and checked in. 

Misplaced and Anointed Passport

I misplaced my Passport traveling from Scotland, to Ireland during check in. When I realized what I had done, I deliberately took a step back, gathered my emotions and declared, "Jesus I enter into Your rest right now." My Passport was quickly found, and we headed to Ireland. 

Later during the trip in Ireland my passport was on a side table I knocked an incense oil container over. The oil went onto my passport. I cleaned the outside of the passport and put it into my bag. When I arrived at the airport my passport page with name and address was soaked, smeared with oil. 

Again, I practiced leaning into His rest. The supervisor came talked to me, asked for other identification, then put a special stamp on my passport. I was cleared to travel. I had to explain the fragrance the rest of the trip. Let's just say the fragrance preceded me everywhere I went. (I know this was a prophetic happening)

Enter Rest 

Entering rest is a biblical concept Pattie and I have been practicing since she received this word during her daily quiet time. We are learning and we are leaning into His rest. Learning to live from a place of rest is a practice.
For we who have believed enter that rest. Hebrew 4:3 NASB

For the one who has entered His rest... His rest

has himself rested from his works...our works

as God did from His. Heb 4:10 NASB

 Sometimes there is a striving to enter in. Emotions, and thoughts go up and down. At some point trust and faith must kick in. I am learning I must push into rest. Sometimes I have to position my heart, steady my emotions, control my thoughts and speak to my environment. It is part of the practice, and part of the process.