Resolved to be Risk-Takers

This journey of faith continues to define us as we daily move forward in the walk Christ calls us to live.  Admittedly, stepping away from a secure position as a Lead Pastor of a church is not advisable when you have nothing to step to.  I would never have recommended anyone to do what we did.  There simply was far too much risk involved.  Yet, we recognize that sometimes Jesus calls us to be risk-takers.

How do you explain to others that what you are about to do is worth the risk you are taking, especially when you don’t know exactly what it is you are going to do?
And when understanding begins to dawn you fumble for words to share the vision.  Nothing you think of seems adequate to express the idea you hold in your heart.  Your best attempts come with a totally silly feel to them that embarrass you as you hear the words come from your mouth.  It just seems impossible!

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This is where we found ourselves just a little over a year ago.  Family and friends thought we had lost our minds as we set aside the security of a job we’d held for 23 years to begin a new adventure.  David’s Mom expressed what most thought, “But David, how are you going to live?  I mean, how will you pay your bills?”  Yes, it’s true this adventure started out void of any plan, income, or destination.  Some might describe it as a whim, a fancy of sorts, where people hit their midlife crisis and do weird things.  It seemed like an insane thing to do, and the people around us had no problem pointing out the insanity!

Actually, this reality didn’t bother us at all because we knew the motivation was love for us.  Their questions were good as they forced us to dig deeper in our own hearts to discover the reason why we would take these steps.  The questions pushed us to this crazy thing called prayer to find answers we didn’t have.  If it wasn’t a midlife crisis, then what was it that had driven us to this action?

One thing we discovered in this journey is not everyone is concerned about your future, and their questions aren’t meant to help you.  All they really want to do is keep you from doing something extraordinary.  Ok, maybe that last line was over the top and cruel, but it is how you feel in a few of these conversations.  Who knows what the real reasons are?

  • Maybe they don’t want to be challenged themselves to a life of faith in Christ.
  • It could be they have experienced some sort of trauma keeping them from risk-taking.
  • It might simply be they are one of the people in this world whose personality kills the sense of adventure in themselves and any others they can influence.

Matthew Barnett posted on his Twitter feed this statement, “Trying to convince a doubter that your leap of faith makes sense is a massive waste of productivity and mental energy.”  What a true statement.  Sometimes, in our efforts to convince the naysayers, all we really do is get frustrated and waste energy.

It isn’t that we think it’s a waste of time to help people who love you to understand the steps you are taking.  They care, and you need their understanding and support.  In fact, experience has taught us some of those you talk with become your biggest supporters for the journey.  When you feel like giving up they are the ones who step up to challenge you to go one more step.  They are worth the energy spent to explain Jesus’ calling.

However, it is a waste of productivity trying to change the minds of people who doubt that you heard from God.  If they don’t think God is in the idea then you just have to wait for God to show that He is.  And that is up to God to do; don’t even go there out of some narcissistic reason to validate yourself.  You don’t need the frustration or waste the time.

As we move further down the path of faith we discover more evidence that the Holy Spirit is going with us on this journey.  There are some days when that is such a relief to our souls.  Multiple times we have seen things that let us know Christ has gone before us and prepared the way.  Here are a few simple examples:

  • 4 days after our final service at Bridge of Hope we were asked to be an interim pastor in the greater Canton, OH area.  God knew the need of that dear church, and He knew our need of income.  The interim time ended just as we had been accepted into U.S. Missions and knew we needed to focus all our time there.
  • After arriving at our current destination we had to shop for a washer/dryer.  Money was going to be a factor at some point, and so we searched for the right situation.  Our prayers were answered as we found a good deal, and the salesman also gave us a slightly damaged microwave for free.  Coincidence? Maybe, but we rather think that God was answering a need.
  • Every time someone becomes a part of our Support Team we are humbled by the reality that another person has chosen to stand with us and say that they believe we have heard from God.  As a pastor serving the local church we never understood what this meant to a missionary.
  • When church planters seek us out for a little advice or a bit of training it encourages us.  There really is need for what God put in our hearts to do, and there are people waiting for someone who can give them the time.  Incidentally, these conversations happen at just the right moments.  Amazing!

This is the kind of thing that gives us the resolve to move forward, growing in strength with each step we take.  When these moments come that defy explanation, we find ourselves compelled by the Holy Spirit and this walk we are on to finish the course and see it through to the end!

*If you would like to know more about the mission that we are on and how you can be a vital part of it, please feel free to contact us.  We would love to share with you what we are doing and how you can best help us out in the journey.

* The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author at the time of writing.  They do not reflect in any way those of the organizations to which they belong to or affiliated with.

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Hopeless Brats . . . Wonder if I have ever been one of them?

ImageMaybe the problem we have with hope in our society today is we skipped the steps of suffering, patience, and character building from which hope is birthed.  Paul said to the church in Rome,

“We also celebrate in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces patience, patience produces a well-formed character, and character like that produces hope.  Hope, in its turn, does not make us ashamed, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts through the holy Spirit who has been given to us.”[1]  (Romans 5:3-5)

It would seem Paul saw a connection between suffering and hope.  The suffering that we go through in life develops in us something that doesn’t get created any other way.  Suffering and patience work together to create well-formed character in us.  We can try to skip the steps and put on the façade of character, but true character is slowly formed in us over time and through endurance.

As we go through experiences in life they leave their mark upon us and difficult circumstances tend to leave deeper marks.  This is the place of character building.  It is where well-formed character is produced in the one who endures the trauma of being reshaped.  Suffering changes us forever, leaving behind character in our lives that would never have come any other way.

It is this character working in us that gives birth to hope.  For without the suffering and the subsequent development of patience there is no character.  And if there is no well-formed character then there is no hope.  When we endure suffering, are patient enough to see God, and allow well-formed character to grow, then hope bursts forth in our lives.  Hope is given birth in that moment when we have hit the bottom, all is dark around us, and somehow we recognize Jesus is with us.  This happens when we stop trying to avoid suffering or pretend that it is not part of faith.  Hope, which is not ashamed, is poured out in our lives through the Holy Spirit.

In our impatience these experiences cause us to look down upon ourselves and decide we simply are not good enough.  We blame God for what has happened or not happened and hold Him accountable.  Rather than endure to the end, we find a way out and circumvent the development of the well-formed character the suffering was sent to produce.

Maybe the problem in our culture today with hope is that we have not been allowed to suffer enough.  It could be we have raised character “brats” who have no real character at all; at least well-formed character.  In our endeavors to love our children we strive to spare them the pain of disappointment and hurt.   In doing so we shortchange the process that would create such character.  We make them the hopeless “brat” they have become because we didn’t allow suffering to work its refinement in us or in them.

Paul called the Church in Rome to a life of well-formed character.  He challenged them to not be afraid of suffering and to be willing to endure the road of patience.  Why?  Because Paul wanted hope (a fruit of the Spirit) to be produced in their lives as they realized the depth and greatness of God’s love.  Today, that same man and the words he wrote many years ago calls to us with the same message.  Let your suffering develop in you patience, which grows well-formed character and produces hope in you.

* The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author at the time of writing.  They do not reflect in any way those of the organizations to which they belong to or affiliated with.


[1] The Kingdom New Testament: A Contemporary Translation, N.T. Wright, p. 318