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Have you ever felt as if the Lord set you up to fail?  I have.  And it turned out to be when I discovered the greatness of His grace.

My name is Bill Lawrence, I'm President of Leader Formation International and I want to welcome you to LeaderVision, the place where we give you a vision for your heart so that you can make a difference with your head and your hands. 

It all came about for me when I received a letter from my mentor, a great man, a man named Ray Stedman who influenced me in profound ways.  And Ray sent me an invitation to teach a nation.  Turned out that I was invited to go the country of the Philippines and I was going to be there to speak to three different conference settings and teach them the principles of "Body Life."  It was Ray who invited that concept and we were going to teach them Ephesians chapter 4, 7-16 how the Body of Christ works and what a difference it is for the church when the Body of Christ is effective in serving the Lord.  That was really heady stuff for a 33 year old guy not very long out of seminary. 

And the reality of the matter is I really should not have been there.  You see, after I went and after I taught those three weeks I came home defeated, discouraged, actually I went into deep struggle with burnout. The only time in my life I've actually been burned out.  And the whole reason is because I was pursuing my will in the Name of Jesus.  You see, I went out to be #1 and I had my terms for being #1 and I was measuring myself by my terms but I was doing it all in the Name of Jesus, all for Him, but also for me.  See, I'd been sent to feed the 5,000.  Well, frankly, I couldn't even find the five loaves and the two fish.  I'm not sure how hard I looked.  I didn't really know what was going on, but I went with nothing, I fed very few people and I came home angry, struggling and burned out. 

And this has led me to the question that I ask leaders around the globe, "What is God forming in you?"  And the answer to that question is very clear.  Really very simple.  It is through the Cross:  Altared Hearts.  God is using the Cross to bring about a call to you to altar your heart, to put your heart on His altar so He can put His power into your ministry. 

Now one of the things you need to understand, because I wouldn't be a bit surprised if many of you are saying right now, "O.K., you know, that's nice, but I've already done that."  Well, I'm sure at a particular point in time, you have.  It was a significant event for you.  You gave everything you had to the Lord at that time.  Might've been in high school, might've been in college, it might've been early in your career, even as a business person.  And by the way, what I went through in my ministry I've seen business person after business person, men and women go through over and over again.  One of the things you have to understand is this.  Putting your heart on God's altar is not an event.  Oh, there is an initial event.  It's significant.  It's serious.  It's determinative.  We mean it.  I meant it.  But then, we drift.  Maybe you've sensed that?  Maybe you've sensed some drifting in your life, in your leadership.  You're caught up in what you're doing.  Maybe you're in that treadmill stage of life.  Or maybe you're in that challenging moment, but that something has happened and it seems as if you've been stopped.

Well, what you need to understand my friend is that putting your heart on God's altar is not an event, it's a process.  Because what we must realize is this.  Our struggles, our confusion, our uncertainty goes on.  The flesh never stops resisting the Spirit.  It's a constant reality in life.  And what we almost learn is this.  There are no steps that will move us from here to here, in terms of an altered heart.  There are no switches, you can't turn the resistance within us off.  Eugene Peterson got it right when he talked about a long obedience in the same direction.  That's what life is about.  That's what leadership is about.  Leadership is about a long obedience.  Many times the fruit of leadership is very slow coming.  We don't see it, we don't feel it, we don't sense it.  But we need to understand is this.  In those moments, we may be bearing our greatest fruit.  But this long direction is very difficult to maintain at times.  This is why I want to teach you about the Seven Realities of an Altared Heart.  This is why I want you to learn from Mark's Gospel how Jesus worked with His men over the greatest problem, the greatest issues, the greatest struggle, the greatest concern He had for them.  What was it?  I will show you.  But I will tell you now, it was their hearts.

 

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