The Value of Your Story: P&P Part 1

Posted: March 19, 2012 in Passion and Purpose
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The following is part one of my Passion and Purpose Class I began teaching at my church. If you are interested in your purpose and uncovering your passions, download my Passion and Purpose guide posted here. Going through this Guide will help you come closer to knowing who you are and the purpose God has for you. Reading the blogs I post in the next few weeks will help guide you week by week in this process.

Our Journey begins here:

I am really excited that you decided to embark on this journey. My desire is that you will feel more free than ever to think big thoughts and dream big dreams with God. I hope that you will be able to hear him more clearly than ever before and play out your life’s calling on purpose. I pray that your frustrations would only point the way to your calling and that your fears would subside in the excitement of your purpose.

God, as a master artist, makes a beautiful story of your life. He speaks to you and to others between its pages. It is up to us to listen and to capture the language of God in our own life story. God speaks in so many ways. One of his favorite ways to speak is through metaphor. He uses it in the Bible, he uses it in our nightly dreams, and he uses it in the physical world and circumstances that surround us.

Screenwriters often spend years on the storyline of a movie. Character development, conflict, setting, all are essential pieces of a great story. Now think about how much time you put into your story. How much emphasis do you give to developing your character? Conflict is what makes a great story. Do you view your own life with as much optimism as you do with the characters you watch in a movie? Together we are watching the story of your life unfold and we are pulling for you. We believe that you are the protagonist. The cool thing is that in this story, you and God get to collaborate on the storyline. You get to write it together. (For more on this concept, see Donald Miller’s “Storyline.”)

Turn to the first section of your Activate Discovery Guide. Think about the experiences you’ve had in life. There is space here in your book to remember the events that were significant to you, especially God-moments you remember. Write a single line message that God was communicating to you in those moments. These are not simply events, they are life-altering moments in which you changed the course of your life according to something God has revealed to you. Don’t worry if you don’t have exactly five, just begin to think about the ways God has made himself real to you.

Good or bad, your past has helped shape who you are. God wants to redeem even a painful past in order to prepare you for the great things he has in store for you. We don’t want to allow our past to reinforce the lies we have believed, but we want to allow God to reveal truth through all your experiences. Ask him to help you distinguish truth from lies so you can move forward into your future.

There is a place to write themes of the past (positive or negative) and themes of the future (positive only). We want to bring the strength from the past to bear on our future, but we want to leave the deception behind. As you ponder your themes, think about the things you tell yourself, the thoughts you entertain, the direction you find yourself leaning toward. These are themes that tend to define you. Today is a day for intentionally redefining yourself based on the positive themes God has chosen for you. Ask him for the themes for this chapter in your life. You may even ask him to give you a scripture to direct your heart during this season.

Your story is important. The Bible says that we overcome by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of our testimony. I find it interesting that God puts our story right up there with the blood of the Lamb. Pretty powerful stuff! To speak of what the Lord has done in your life is a powerful thing. It actually sets people free and gives us the power to overcome obstacles we thought were insurmountable. Open up your mouth and be free to declare the work of the Lord in you.

Dan McCollam points to the example in the life of young David, before he killed Goliath. He recounted all the ways that God used him to do amazing things (like killing a lion with his bare hands) before he took a shot at Goliath. So many times we tend to bring up all the negative things in our lives. We tend to play our “blooper reel” before trying something. No wonder we feel so defeated! Instead of pulling out your “blooper reel,” recall your “highlight reel.” Replay these highlights again and again and it will help build your faith for greater things to come! (You may want to stop now and make a list of the events that might be included in your highlight reel.)

If you have been in charismatic circles you may have received prophetic words from time to time. You may be someone who has puzzling dreams at night, or you may have even experienced a vision that you knew was from the Lord. Have you ever wondered how to handle such words? Am I supposed to do something with this? If so, how can I process this? Will this word come to pass no matter what I do?

If you have had any of these questions run through your mind, I encourage you to go through your notes at home in your journals or computers and take inventory of as many prophetic words, dream interpretations, and personal impressions from the Lord, as you can find. If you have nothing recorded, now is a good time. You will have to ask the Lord to bring things to the forefront of your memory. Begin to look for more themes, things that stand out over and over to you. Is God still trying to get a message through to you or speak a message through you that is yet unheard or unheeded? There will be some things that are still unlocked mysteries. That’s okay. “It is the glory of God to conceal a matter and the glory of kings to seek it out.” We want to act like kings to seek out His mysteries. After all, he did make us royalty when he called us sons and daughters.

All prophecy is conditional. That means that when we get a word of the Lord, we are to process through that word, to wrestle with it, to contend for it, and to finally find rest in it. Remember how Jacob wrestled with God? Jacob was not about to let him go without a blessing. When we process prophetic words, it opens us up to the opportunity to get in the right line for the right blessing and to prepare our tents to receive it. If you receive a prophecy that seems overwhelming to you right now, it is because he wants to let you know ahead of time so you can get ready. Remember the word that God gave to the Pharaoh during the time of Joseph? Joseph was able to process that word so that he could get ready for the days ahead.

Blessings are a little like white elephant gifts. In ancient China, you would give a white elephant gift to a friend or an enemy. The white elephant was extremely expensive and rare. If the recipient of the gift was wealthy and had lots of space for the animal and could afford to feed it, the gift was wonderful. If, however, the recipient was poor and had no space and little food, the elephant could destroy what little he did have. It would be more of a curse than anything. Well, God promises us many blessings in prophetic words, but he does not give them to us until we are ready. If we were not ready for it, it would actually result in a curse. If your spiritual home is not enlarged with character, with faith, with relationship, or anything else you need, the blessing will not be beneficial.

This journey is also designed to help you with your leadership development or your disciple making capacity. We are all leaders to some degree. We are all called to make disciples. Leading yourself is one of the most important things, if not the most important thing, about leadership, experts are now concluding.

In “Courageous Leadership” Bill Hybels points out that 50 percent of your time as a leader should be spent in focusing on leading yourself. Here are some questions Bill pinpoints to help us grow in the art of self-leadership. Many of these questions will be addressed in our journey together.

Is my vision clear?
Is my passion hot?
Am I developing my gifts?
Is my character submitted to Christ?
Is my pride subdued?
Am I overcoming fear?
Are interior issues undermining my leadership?
Is my pace sustainable?
Is my love for God and people increasing?

Whether you are aware of it or not, the favor of God is at work in your life. It was even at work in you before you were saved. The areas in which God has opened up favor to you should not be ignored. He speaks destiny to us in the things in which he allows us to excel, the ways in which we are blessed. Some of our favor will have to be contended for or wrestled, in a sense. Other points of favor will be heaped upon us without a thought or prayer. He speaks to us through the internal passion he has put inside us and he also speaks to us from the way others respond to us.

Each person that ever listens to what you have to say, each person that sees anything of value in you, each person that wants to be in your presence or wants something you have is a gift of favor from God to you. Even events that happen “by chance” can be a sign of divine favor. The fact that you are reading these words of mine is evidence of the favor of God on my life. If God was not at work, why would anyone want to hear what this little girl has to say?

Favor is the measure of influence you have in the lives of others. Be thankful for the favor God has put on you, even if it expresses itself in ways other than what you would have chosen. For example, be thankful for anyone he brings to you, even those who don’t quite fit the mold of the people you would have chosen to attract. Be faithful with the measure of favor you have, serve others faithfully, and God will increase the measure of favor he has given you. He wants his people to be the most influential people on earth, but he wants us to handle that influence with grace and love. So he is happy when you ask for more. Our goal in asking for favor is that when people see our success, they will sit back and go, “Wow. How did that guy/girl do that or get that in his/her life? This could only be explained by the hand of of a pretty amazing God!”

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