Sunday, April 24, 2011

Vision: A Definition

Many years ago when my two eldest children were active in debate, they discovered the importance of defining terminology.  Words have meanings.  Those meanings may change as society changes. Therefore, ddefining words or terminology.  The Webster 1828 defines vision (other than physical sight) as: "something imagined to be seen, though not real, a phantom, a specter"  or "in Scripture, a revelation for God, and appearance or exhibition of something supernaturally presented to the minds of the prophets, by which they were informed of future events. 

The Hebrew word in verse18 of Proverbs 29 simply means: 'a sight' - a mental sight in your mind, a dream, a revelation, an oracle, a vision. It comes from the Hebrew root word 'to gaze at', to gaze upon or mentally perceive, to contemplate with pleasure.

Inherent within these various definitions is the following concept: having a picture in your mind of the future which excites your heart.  Something for which you seek after with passion.  This concept applies to our physical lives but also to our spiritual eyes. 

Let's get practical...

Remember back to when you were a young boy or girl and someone asked you, "What do you want to be when you grow up?  You answered that question with "a fireman, a policeman, a teacher, a princess, etc."  That was a vision. As you grew older that vision most likely changed.

Here's a vision which I grew up with.  My Dad use to tell me that I would go to college, get an engineering degree and go to work somewhere other than my hometown.  Guess what happened?  I went away to college, didn't get an engineering degree, but a chemistry degree and got a job somewhere other than my hometown. Thus, my father's vision for me was fulfilled.

As individuals we can have many visions for ourselves, our spouses and our children. Did you know that God has a vision?  We may not think of them as visions but they are give us "sight" into who He is.  If we adopt His principles, His precepts, and allow the Holy Spirit to create a passion within our hearts, then they are visions according to our definition. 

Consider these passages:

Exodus 20:5-6 - "You shall not worship them or serve them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children, on the third and fourth generations of those who hate Me, but showing loving kindness to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments."

John 3:16:  "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not  perish, but have eternal life."

These are just two examples of God's vision for us to embrace. Yes, we can have individual visions, but the one which we should be embracing with all of our being are those which God sets before us.

"And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might." (Deut. 6:5)  May I encourage you to embrace our Heavenly Father's vision for us.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Be Thou My Vision...

I love music!  As I compose these thoughts I am listening to some smooth jazz. It relaxes me and helps me consider what I'm trying to say. I have a significant CD collection of music from classical to contemporary Christian to Black Gospel choirs.  I listened to music so much, that my children are surprise when I don't know the words to a song from "my time" - you know the "oldies." Actually, I can go back to some '50s & 60's music, but I digress. My belief at the time was that they were just words and that I only enjoyed the music itself. 


Today, I have a different viewpoint on the words and the music. In most cases the words are more important than the music behind them.  I believe my children have discovered this at a much earlier age than I did for which I am grateful to God.  I may not like some musical compositions, but strong lyrics which focus our attention to God that I can approve.

As a father, Deuteronomy 6 is a very important passage.  Not in a legalistic way, but from a practical everyday living with the vision of pleasing God and raising up the next generation to do the same. And that my children will pass it along to their children so the cycle continue. 

Since we are part of the "plugged-in" generation we must set forth a vision which will allow liberty but must glorify God at the same time. Our eyes and ears are the two organs directly connect to the brain.  What comes in goes right into the greatest storage bank ever created. Therefore, the images and words we hear must be guarded. I wish I had the understanding that I have now back when I was 10 years old. Instead of being able to name the top 10 songs on the AT 40 with Casey Casem, I would have hidden God's Word in my heart. Now, there's a different vision.

As I fight the battle to input more godly things into my storage bank, especially for later recall, one way I achieve this is through music.  I enjoy some of the contemporary Christian music, but what I have found is the hymns of the church impart godly wisdom and knowledge. They provide much to meditate upon.  In the church which I pastor, we sing from the Trinity Hymnal.  There are many great hymns that we sing, but my favorite is #642.  I was introduced to this hymn on a modern Celtic CD.  This hymn is a ancient Irish poem.  Its title is:  Be Thou My Vision.  Read the lyrics, let them sink in.

Be Thou my Vision, O Lord of my heart;
Naught be all else to me, save that Thou art.
Thou my best Thought, by day or by night,
Waking or sleeping, Thy presence my light.

Be Thou my Wisdom, and Thou my true Word;
I ever with Thee and Thou with me, Lord;
Thou my great Father, I Thy true son;
Thou in me dwelling, and I with Thee one.

Be Thou my battle Shield, Sword for the fight;
Be Thou my Dignity, Thou my Delight;
Thou my soul’s Shelter, Thou my high Tower:
Raise Thou me heavenward, O Power of my power.

Riches I heed not, nor man’s empty praise,
Thou mine Inheritance, now and always:
Thou and Thou only, first in my heart,
High King of Heaven, my Treasure Thou art.

High King of Heaven, my victory won,
May I reach Heaven’s joys, O bright Heaven’s Sun!
Heart of my own heart, whatever befall,
Still be my Vision, O Ruler of all.

To have a clear vision, our focus must be on the right things - the things of God.

This is the starting point of the journey. True vision, I believe, is given by God.