Birth of a Vision


Notes as delivered to ALJC World Missions University at Whitestone Inn – Kingston, TN (February 2017)


Everyone ends up somewhere in life. A few people end up somewhere on purpose. Those are the ones with vision. – Andy Stanley

Personally, I believe to be a missionary, you must be a visionary!

But, do you ever feel like you’re driven more by maintenance than you are mission?

  • You’re having to maintain your family responsibilities…
  • Your church and ministry responsibilities…
  • Your responsibility to your supporters…

And, really, if we’re being completely honest, we have a huge responsibility to God for ensuring we live humbly and righteously before Him.

But a man with a vision, and a man on a mission, is virtually unstoppable!

Operation Auca

Five dedicated and committed Christian Missionaries headed to the deep dark recesses of the Ecuadorian Rainforest in search of the Huaoroni Tribe. It was purported this tribe had never heard of the name of Jesus, and for these five missionaries that was reason enough to launch out.

After several successful supply drops to the area that included food, clothing, and even toys for the children, Nate Saint, their pilot felt confident he could land his bi-plane on a narrow sandbar along the Curaray River.

On January 8, 1956, the team set up camp at “Palm Beach” and awaited contact with the tribe. To their delight a curious Huarononi Family showed up and seemed receptive to the kind gestures of the team.

After several hours, the family retreated back into the heart of the jungle and the missionary team was thrilled beyond words. They radioed back to base reporting their success.

Shortly thereafter their radio fell eerily silent. Hoping against hope the radio was simply out of range or had somehow failed, a search party was sent to check on the team.

Their worst fears were realized. Huarononi warriors had returned after the initial encounter and ran all five missionaries through with spears, leaving their lifeless bodies bleeding in the very river they had only hours before been playfully interacting with the tribe.

Jim Elliot, Nate Saint, Ed McCully, Peter Fleming, and Roger Youderian, all paid the supreme price for a vision they felt was worth giving their lives for.

News of their untimely and horrific deaths was broadcast across the globe and a photo essay was published in Life Magazine.

The deaths of the men galvanized missionary efforts in the United States, sparking an outpouring of funding for evangelization efforts around the world.

Elisabeth, Jim Elliot’s widow, and Rachel, Nick Saint’s sister, returned to Ecuador years later to live among the very people who had slain their family. Great in-roads were made, and even the very warrior who had slain the brave missionaries came to know the Lord.

The heroic story was further documented and made into a book and movie entitled, End of the Spear.

Despite the dangers and uncertainty, these brave missionaries had such a strong and compelling vision they were willing to lay down their lives to share the Gospel with every living creature.

A God without Limits

We serve a God that can do anything and everything. The Bible states and restates, there is nothing too hard for God. God has no limits other than the ones He chooses to impose upon Himself. One of those limits is He refuses to work where faith is not present.

In fact, Hebrews tells us without faith it is impossible to please God.

So, if God has no limits, wherein lies the challenge for us? Where do our own spiritual limits come from? We’re only limited by the size of our vision men.

Write this down: Vision is believing what COULD be SHOULD be.  

It is the deep-seated conviction that things can no longer continue the way they are.

Typically, we see vision as only being necessary in the context of leadership, running a company, and definitely in pastoring a church.

But, I submit to you today, we must have a vision for every area of our lives but especially in each of the key roles we are assigned along life’s journey.

We are multi-faceted people, and therefore our vision must be multi-faceted. We should have a vision for not only our church, our ministry, and those we lead, but a vision for our marriage, our relationships, and our personal lives.

Visionless Dead People

I would be remiss if I did not reference this vital scripture in the discussion of vision: Proverbs 29:18, Where there is no vision, the people perish: but he that keepeth the law, happy is he.

I get that the portion that states, the people perish, is better translated to mean, the people cast off restraint, or, the people run wild.

But let’s not get too sophisticated in our original Hebrew and maintain for a moment the inspired King James translators’ original statement.

I mean, if the King James Version was good enough for Peter, James, and John, it’s good enough for me! (Just kidding)

It says, Where there is no vision, the people perish…

I submit to you, visionless people die.

If you rewind in scripture for a moment to Numbers 19:13, Whosoever toucheth the dead body of any man that is dead, and purifieth not himself, defileth the tabernacle of the LORD; and that soul shall be cut off from Israel: because the water of separation was not sprinkled upon him, he shall be unclean; his uncleanness is yet upon him.

The Old Testament Law was very explicit on the handling of the dead. If you touched dead things, or dead things touched you, you were defiled, and ran the risk of being cut off from God’s people. You were unclean!

See, if you hang around visionless people long enough, if you allow yourself to become contaminated by visionless, dead people, you’re going to defile the vision God has gifted to you.

Don’t allow dead people to defile your vision. It’s a gift from God!

See, this holds true with our influence as well. Hanging around the wrong people can defile your testimony, it can contaminate your calling, it can desecrate your God given vision.

Psalm 1:1-2 says, Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful.

2But his delight is in the law of the LORD; and in his law doth he meditate day and night.

Brothers, we need to be careful about the company we keep! Don’t let your good be evil spoken of! You need to protect the vision God has given you, your family, and your ministry at all costs!

We can’t afford to be numbered amongst those who are being cut off from God’s great plan in this last day.

Adding Meaning to the Mundane

Your vision is critical to the success of not only your family and ministry, but to the people God has called and ordained you to reach!

Write this down: It takes courage to cast vision. It takes clarity to carry out the vision. And, it takes consistency to continue to the vision.

One of the beautiful things about vision is it will add meaning to the mundane. Vision adds significance to an otherwise meaningless existence.

Let’s be honest; vision takes work. And much of the work we do can seem mundane and meaningless.

2 Strikes and You’re Out

I just completed a read through the first 5 books of the Bible. As I read through the seemingly monotonous details of the law that God gave Moses to give to Israel, it becomes abundantly clear, God is as interested in the details as He is in the Big Picture.

Details that many seem inconsequential to us, have far-reaching effects in God’s eyes. If you think God isn’t concerned with details, just ask Moses what disqualified him from entering the Promised Land after contending with the most stiff-necked and stubborn people of that day.

We think it’s 3 strikes and you’re out. For Moses, it was 2 strikes. Why? Because God commanded him to strike the rock one time, not twice.

God stated it this way in Numbers 20:12, “And the LORD spake unto Moses and Aaron, Because ye believed me not, to sanctify me in the eyes of the children of Israel, therefore ye shall not bring this congregation into the land which I have given them.”

It’s not just another church service, it’s the opportunity to restore families, lead people to Christ, and to sanctify the Lord in the eyes of His people!

You may think it’s just another Bible study, another sermon, or another visit to the hospital, but it’s another opportunity to sanctify the Lord in the eyes of the people.

The Birth of YOUR Vision

As with any birth, the birth of a vision is to be celebrated and even highly anticipated.

I can still remember the announcement that I would be a father. I celebrated that. And, just as importantly, I remember the day I found out we were going to have a grandson, a granddaughter, and yet another granddaughter is due this June 2017!

The joy, the anticipation, the excitement is wonderful.

To me, the birth of vision is much the same way. When God gives it to you, it’s something that brings such joy and anticipation.

You may not have all the details right away, but at that particular moment all you can focus on is, “I’m going to be a daddy…or granddaddy!”

As the vision begins to take shape, the maturing process is critical, as are each of the other phases of the birthing and development process of vision.

Deliver too soon, and your vision could be premature. When God first gives you a vision, allow it to incubate in your spirit, heart, and mind. Allow it to mature, develop, and come to life in God’s perfect timing.

I know when we were expecting our children, the toughest part, so we thought, was the waiting, but waiting is not wasted time.

As young parents, as inexperienced as we were, we took the time to prepare.

See, you don’t wait until the baby arrives before you prepare the nursery. You buy the crib, you paint and decorate. You buy clothes, diapers, and the essentials.

We took classes in preparation of the birth of our children. They even taught us how to breath during the delivery process. That sounds crazy now, but hey, we were getting ready to give birth, and we were willing to do anything to get ready!

If you’re a person of vision, you typically will have characteristics of a person of action. You’re NOT content with the way things are, and you’re so impassioned that you believe things must change, and they must change now!

The birthing of your vision is critical to the long-term success of your vision. To hurry the developmental process of the vision is to potentially shorten its lifespan.

If you’re serious about your vision, never look at the waiting period, the incubation period, as a waste of time. Use the waiting time to prepare, gather materials, take classes, read, study, and plan on being the best parent of your vision possible!

Abraham and Sarah were given a vision of being the father of many nations, yet they lacked the one thing that would make that vision a reality; a son.

In her haste to rush the process, Sarah gave Abraham her hand maiden to fast-forward the process. It resulted in thousands of years of conflict!

Moses spent 40 years waiting on the vision to come to pass that he would be the future liberator of his people. When he tried to rush the process, he committed felony murder and was exiled from the people he knew God had called him to rescue.

But David on the other hand. Despite being anointed King at a very young age, he didn’t pack his bags and start making a trek to the Palace. Nor did his father and brothers who could have easily allowed themselves to hurry the developmental process.

Christ as well set the supreme example of preparedness. He used His wilderness experience as the catalyst for His future ministry. And, even when it came time to perform His first miracle, at the urging of His mother Mary, He took her lead on whether or not He was ready.

Just as a mother’s body begins to take on the hormonal changes, and physiological changes, in preparation of the birth, so too must our spirit, mind, soul, and even at times our body, be in preparation for the birth of our vision.

Your incubation period is critical to the long-term success of your God given vision! 

H3 Approach to Vision

In his bestselling powerful book on leadership called H3 Leadership: Be Humble, Stay Hungry, and Always Hustle, Brad Lomenick details components of a successful vision statement:

Optimistic: Our vision should be a message of hope. They answer the “why” an organization exists. It must motivate, inspire, and be a call to action.

Lastly, it should devote more words to the solution than to the problem.  

Simple: Hab. 2:2, “Write down the vision, make it plain, so he who reads it may run with it.”

If it takes more than five minutes to memorize, your vision statement is too complicated. If it has bullet points, it needs refinement. It should contain words that are simple, direct, and to the point. And, never use words people will need a dictionary to understand. Never load it down with churchy “christianese.” K.I.S.S. Keep it Super Simple.

Personal: People will work for other people in a way they will not work for anything else. Dan Rockwell wrote, “Vision always centers on people, never projects, programs, properties, or profits.”

Flexible: While it is important to have a certain level of specifics to your vision, allowing your vision to adapt to the inevitable changing tide of culture is imperative. When your vision statement is flexible, it will be liberating instead of limiting.

Pastor Rick Warren said, “Pastors are some of the most underrated change agents in the world.”

That’s absolutely true. As pastors and leaders, we help people navigate much needed change in their lives. Our job is to get them from here to heaven, and the transformation process isn’t always easy. Build your vision around being able to help people navigate change, and your organization, your ministry, or your church will be seen as an essential element of their daily lives.

According to Todd Smith, CEO and Founder of KINEO Resources, “Too many are waiting on God to grow the church. But, growing a church involves both God and man. We can never do what God can ONLY do and He will never do what He has ASKED us to do.”

He goes on to say, “Growing a church requires man doing his part, and letting God do His. Jesus said, “Pray the Lord of the harvest would send forth laborers…” God is going to use workers.”

This is work! Harvest takes work.

Some want God to do it all…that’s not how harvest works.

What is Vision?

  • Vision is what you see, and what you want to see. Vision has to do with sight.
  • Vision is a portrait of your preferred future. What kind of future do you want? Have pictures, artist renderings, blueprints, etc. that will inspire people’s interest, support, and generosity.
  • Vision answers the “why” question. Why we are where we are. Why did we choose this location? Why did we plant this church? Everyone must comprehend why we are where we are. NOTE: When we lose our “why” we lose our way!
  • Vision is the dream in your heart…it is the God Dream. God loves dreamers. It would do you good to take a stroll down memory lane. Remember how God led you to that community. You were inescapably drawn to it by God’s call connecting you to your dream.

Helen Keller said, “The only thing worse than being blind is having sight but no vision.”

God has gifted you with a unique vision. It’s been said that when your memories exceed your dreams, the end is near.  

I would encourage you to keep dreaming that God-sized dream. Don’t give into your critics. Don’t be paralyzed by your own fears or self-doubt.

That’s not to say your vision won’t be scary. In fact, one of the best indicators your vision is a God-sized vision is that it is too scary to do by yourself.

A true God-sized vision is a partnership between the Divine and the human.

But be warned, we must be willing to look foolish when it comes to vision.

See, the heroes in the Bible we admire most are those that fought behind enemy lines. They entered into impossible situations and came out victorious; not just because of their faith, but because of their crazy faith; crazy faith in God!

You have to be willing to look foolish; operate outside of your comfort zone; do something you’ve never done before; that’s where your growth takes place!

Don’t let the fear of failure hold you back from doing what you absolutely know you MUST do! In fact, The willingness to fail is a prerequisite to success.

But here’s the deal, if you’re NOT willing to look foolish, you’re foolish. In fact, faith is the willingness to look foolish! 

  • Tattoo Shop Bible Study
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Noah looked foolish building an ark in the middle of dry land!

Sarah looked foolish shopping for maternity clothes at 90 years old.

Joshua and the Israelites looked foolish marching around Jericho and blowing trumpets!

David looked foolish attacking Goliath with slingshot and a stone.

The Wiseman looked foolish chasing a star.

Peter looked foolish stepping out of the boat onto the stormy seas.

And sadly, Jesus looked foolish hanging on a cross, naked, beaten, and tortured.

But that’s the essence of faith, and the results speak for themselves.

Noah and his family were saved from the flood.

Sarah gave birth to a baby boy.

The walls of Jericho came crashing down for Israel.

David defeated Goliath.

The Wiseman found the Messiah.

Peter was the only disciple to join Jesus walking on the water.

And, Jesus resurrected from the dead!

You know why some people never kill a giant, walk on water, or see walls come crashing down in their lives?

Because they weren’t willing to look foolish!

Visionaries can be branded fools because they call things that are not yet existent, as though they have already appeared.

See Romans 4:17, …God, who quickeneth the dead, and calleth those things which be not, as though they were.

Your vision is a direct result of your burden, your passion, your desire. It’s what keeps you up at night, and what gets you up early in the morning. Tap into that constantly.

Our vision is quite literally the ignition point between a God in Heaven, and a man on earth, which can set on fire the passions of man to accomplish God’s Divine purpose.

Suggested Reading:

  1. Visioneering by Andy Stanley
  2. H3 Leadership by Brad Lomenick
  3. Deep and Wide by Andy Stanley
  4. QBQ by John G. Miller
  5. If by Mark Batterson
  6. Next Generation Leader by Andy Stanley
  7. The Indigenous Church by Melvin Hodges
  8. Living Forward by Michael Hyatt
  9. All In by Mark Batterson
  10. Lasting Impact by Cary Nieuwhof
  11. 7 Practices of Effective Ministry by Andy Stanley
  12. Chase the Lion by Mark Batterson

Rodger Mangold is the pastor and founder of Turning Point Ministries in Rochester, MI. He also serves as the World Missions Director of the Assemblies of the Lord Jesus Christ and is the ALJC World Missions European Field Supervisor to 6 Countries and 7 Missionary Teams. 


Bipolar Disorder – May Prove to Have Advantages if Harnessed

Born March 30, 1853, Vincent Van Gogh, became a well-known artist during the impressionistic period of art. After suffering multiple mental problems, in 1888 Van Gogh commited himself into the Saint Remy Asylum. It was during this period that he completed one of his most famous creations, “Starry Night[1].” Anna Marie Duke was born to a household filled with turmoil. Her father was an alcoholic and her mother was an undiagnosed manic depressant. It was not until she was 8 years old that she was discovered by John and Ethel Ross, talent scouts were looking for young actresses. Pulling Anna from her troubled home, they whisked her away to stardom. After unofficially adopting her, the Ross’ changed her name to Patty, telling the young girl that Anna Marie was dead. “You’re Patty now.” By age 16 Patty became the first child recipient of an Oscar Award for her role in Helen Keller. After several years of a successful acting career the signs of depression began to exhibit themselves and in 1982 Patty Duke was formally diagnosed as “manic depressive” and tells of her account in her autobiography, “Call me Anna[2].” What do these two very famous people from completely different eras have in common? They both were bipolar. Vincent Van Gogh’s life ended in tragedy while Patty Duke to received lithium as treatment for her condition.

Bipolar disorder or manic depression can best be described as a serious mental illness that can affect a person’s ability to feel a normal range of emotions or moods. People that are diagnosed with bipolar disorder find themselves with moods that range from very high (manic) to very low (depression). Originally, the term manic depression was used to describe this mental illness but now bipolar disorder is used as it better described the extreme polarity of highs and lows that the patient experiences.

Symptoms that a patient with bipolar disorder may exhibit cover a wide range as one might imagine with an illness that spans such extremes. A patient during bouts with mania will exhibit behavior such as increased energy levels, less need for sleep, racing thoughts, are easily distracted, more talkative, stronger sense of self confidence, focused on getting things done but with little results, and indulgence in risky or unusual activities to an extreme. On the opposite “pole” these same patients, during a depression state, will exhibit such behavior as feeling sad or blue, loss of interest in things the person used to enjoy, feelings of worthlessness, guilt, or hopelessness, variation in sleep patterns (too little or not enough), fluctuation in weight or appetite, feeling tired or lack of energy, and thoughts of suicide or preoccupation with thoughts of death. As researchers become more familiar with bipolar disorder they have come to the conclusion this illness is typically lifelong but with a variety of medicines and therapies the patients can go on to live relatively normal lives.

Vincent Van Gogh and Patty Duke are famous individuals but everyday common ordinary people battle bipolar disorder in a variety of ways. Patients, even after they are diagnosed with bipolar disorder, are able to hold jobs, raise families and go on to live productive lives. Medicines like mood stabilizers are effective in treating the “highs and lows” of the disorder. In addition, anti-depressants and anti-psychotics are often used in conjunction with mood stabilizers to stave off or help control the bouts of depression and mania. Another medical treatment that is not considered a drug is Electroconvulsive Therapy or ECT. This treatment has been found effective for patients that do not respond well to drug therapy.

Some goals of a professional that is treating a patient with bipolar disorder might include some of the following: control of acute manic and depressive symptoms, reduction in the amount and frequency of mood cycling and mood instability occur, to aid patients in the achievement of functioning at their highest level possible, minimization of side effects of treatments and to aid in the implementation of a rigid treatment management plan.

The professional that treats a patient that is bipolar will inevitably encounter the patients that feel as though they are “cured” and will not require the use of medication or therapy to live out a normal life. This in fact can be quite disastrous. Patients that begin to feel bipolar disorder is in “check” will stop taking their prescribed medication or therapy and at the behest of their treating professional, will experience further instability with regard to their management of the disorder. Some common excuses given by patients include:

  • I don’t want to take medication for the rest of my life
  • I feel better, there’s nothing wrong with me
  • I’m experiencing the side effects of the drugs; I sleepy all the time, I’m gaining weight, etc.
  • I disagree with my treatment

Patients taking medication for bipolar disorder must be frequently reminded and encouraged that this disorder is not to be considered a character flaw or weakness and treatment must be continuous or relapses or worsening effects of the illness will occur. Like a patient that has high blood pressure or cholesterol, a patient with bipolar disorder must continue their drug therapy, as prescribed, or bouts of the disorder will increase in frequency and intensity.

Alternatives to drug therapy may include talk therapy or psychotherapy. This therapy has been found to be quite effective in aiding the patient in isolating triggers of bipolar disorder. During talk therapy, the patient would discuss with a mental health professional their unique circumstances and relationships. This therapy aids the patient in assessing and evaluating their condition. With bipolar disorder, the patient can experience a wide array of feelings and emotions. A mental health professional can aid in helping the patient understand the source of these feelings and offer adjustment techniques to the gamut of emotions they are experiencing. It must be understood that talk therapy is not about getting advice or answers. Talk therapy should revolve around assisting the patient in understanding themselves, getting support and feedback in a open, honest and private setting. Different types of talk therapy are available and will depend on the severity of the bipolar patient as to which therapy is best suited to their needs. One-on-one therapy and group therapy are both effective but must be administered correctly and safely. Some therapies center on information and support while others encourage the patient to learn about themselves and their relationships. Overall, therapy of any sort should aid the patient in establishing confidence and to reduce the strain bipolar disorder places on an individual and their relationships.

According to the National Mental Health Information Center, 1 in every 100 people develops bipolar disorder[3]. No one has the same symptoms of this disorder nor will they experience it to the same degree. While the jury is still out on the exact cause of bipolar disorder, scientists now believe that it can be traced to an imbalance of chemicals in the brain. If a patient has been diagnosed with bipolar disorder they should not be disheartened. There are numerous examples of people that go on to live out normal and productive lives. Some things a patient can do to increase the effectiveness of their therapy (drug, psycho therapy or ECT) is to take a vested interest in your disorder. Research is vital in the education and understanding of this disorder. Every day new hallmarks are being made in the treatment of bipolar disorder. It would behoove the patient to track their moods and emotions on a chart, to avoid triggers of mood episodes, and keep a list of questions for your mental health care provider. Staying informed and maintaining a discipline of taking your medication are 2 of most important things a patient can do to achieve a sense of normalcy in coping with bipolar disorder.

In conclusion, bipolar disorder does not mean a death sentence on your ability to live a mentally, socially and physically normal life. Some patients have even learned to harness their illness to achieve great success in life. It is believed by some that Van Gogh’s ability to paint was heightened by his emotional energy while coping with bipolar disorder. Patty Duke’s ability to act was attributed by some, to her ability to exhibit such extreme emotions. Sadly, this is still a disease and must be treated as such.

NOTE: The information contained in this article is not intended to in anyway advise or instruct the reader. It contains opinions and research as gathered by the author. Please consult your healthcare professional for expert medical and psychological opinions.

Bipolar Disorder – References and Sources

  • As noted in footnotes

[1] Reference:

[2] Reference: www.bipolar/