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What does it take to change your heart and mind?

I received correspondence today, from a man who had his heart and mind changed by the death of a child his wife sponsored through Hope4Kids. I wanted to simply add part of the email I received from him and I pray it will inspire you, warn you, and prepare you to be somebody who uses your time, talent and treasure to promote the purpose of others…especially the work that Jesus Christ has commanded us to do for the least of these.

Here is part of the letter from a very good man who has spent most of his life serving you and me and protecting our freedoms in America through military service.

Between 1998 and 2001 I went to school and also spent my summers working our teen groups, teen camps, and spending time with Bob Jone’s Universities “War of the Special Forces” when they came. I really enjoyed it and sought to expand our local children’s ministry bringing on Awana’s, growing the junior church, and loving every moment. I promised God prior to getting out of the Army, the first time, and going to college, if He helped get me into college, and helped my family transition I would use my education for something!! (One of those God you do this and I will do that type promises) So, given my love for kids–desire to help them achieve their uttermost–my new found education–love of education…I always thought, do 20 years, and teach at a local Christian school…my military retirement would help off-set the low teacher salary and I could be a blessing. It was also during those times I divorced, fell away from God, and spent some time in another land…returning in 2007 and seeking God’s direction in my life. Recently, my wife, was moved by Hope4Kids International and sought to adopt a child…her name is “Topista”; additionally, she went on a trip to Uganda to see her. To be honest…I was okay with all that and not very moved, but very proud, and just did not think it was for me. Upon her return, her excitement was beyond words, and she always talked about Topista, all of Uganda, the orphanage called Smile Africa, etc., however, I still was not moved greatly. Then, we received a phone call, and that call impacted me greatly!! In August 2012 my wife was informed of Topista’s death and then, something hit me, I cried, Topista was human, she had dreams, family, and a silent voice began to speak to me, a urging…to put it into words, this silent voice: “you have made a promise to Me, to use your education for Me, you have been indifferent towards this child, you are like the rest of America, and now…now I want you to see, to learn, and then do something.” This led me to read, study, and understand…to see poverty for what it is, to understand these are people, we can help, and we must do something!! My eyes have truly been opened and I really think we can do something. God has allowed me to get education, two Master degrees (MBA and MPA) and I use them for our Government…but now it is time to use them for God’s kingdom.

I know you are willing to be used by God. You are willing to use your time, talent and treasure for Jesus Christ. I also know how easy it is to get busy and get distracted. Think about this…however many days you have left in your life, is the only amount of time you actually have to feed the hungry, cloth the naked, give water to the thirsty, take care of orphans and widows, and bring the salvation message of Jesus Christ to those who haven’t heart it before or have walked away from Him. THERE WILL BE NONE OF THAT IN HEAVEN. So, if you want to be a part of such significant life work…you have to do it now!

I am asking you to go to Hope4Kids International’s website and sponsor a child, start a fund to raise money to drill a fresh water well, build a medical clinic, provide food for starving kids, sign up for a life changing missions trip, or anything else you can do. Just click any of the lighter colored print below and get started…

Don’t forget…there are people right outside from where you are reading this who need your love and encouragement too. Make sure you reach out to them as well. It’s good to be a Christian, but I find the world needs more good Christians.

Keep one eye on Jesus and the other eye on His kids.
If I can serve you through the ministry of Hope4Kids call me or email me. I’ll do my best. Ask me to come and speak at your Church or plan with you what more you can do to be a strong Christ follower. Don’t wait for something tragic to happen to motivate you, be internally motivated to do something now.

Trent Renner


Day two…finally arrived in Uganda

(For some reason…the pictures I’ve attached below are not posting…so I check on it later and worst case…I’ll repost pics to my descriptions below after we return to the great USA.)

Well, we finally got out of Amsterdam via London. When we got ready to check on to our next 9 hour flight, Riley and I were just standing at the gate waiting to board, when Riley leaned over and said to me, “Dad, I think that guy is the Machine Gun Preacher.” We debated a few minutes about whether or not it was and then finally I just approached the man and asked him. Sure enough…it is Sam Childers…aka The Machine Gun Preacher. You can look him up…there was a movie done about him recently called “The Machine Gun Preacher.” Gerard Butler played the role of Sam Childers.

Riley told me he didn’t care if he was in the picture with him, so I took advantage of the situation and asked for a picture! After the photo op I was able to sit and chat with Sam for a few minutes and he mentioned how he needs a couple fresh water wells drilled and I told him about Hope 4 Kids International and Water 4 Kids International and I think we made a connection. He gave me his cell phone number and it’s all just cool! (I’ll keep you updated about some joint effort possibilities.)

When we arrived in Entebbe Uganda…we waited and waited for our luggage. We checked in 3 big bags and NONE of them showed up. Ugh. You’ve got to be kidding me. As I am typing this…Riley and I are still wearing the same clothes we were wearing on Monday and it’s Wednesday….AND…we don’t know if they will be here tomorrow at 4pm. I’ll let you know. Neither Riley nor I have the right shoes for the work we are doing here, our clothes are comfy for flying, but not for mission work. We are trying to keep positive attitudes.

On our way to Tororo Uganda, where we are staying in a hotel called The Rock Classic Hotel, we stopped at a village where a Church group from Gilbert AZ…traveling in our group…had raised money to drill a fresh water well in the village. The well was finished recently and this trip to their village was to dedicate that well. This is my second trip to Uganda and I am sure that when we arrived into this village it was the most incredible and loud welcome we have ever received. I shot a picture of the crowd storming the bus with excitement and joy as we pulled in.

The community leaders of this village gave the church group, who raised the money for the water well…a goat. So…we had an hour plus van ride to the hotel tonight with an extra passenger. The goat didn’t even make a sound. To receive a goat in Uganda would be the equivalent of receiving a small car in America. Such generous people.

Today has been good. Riley and I have probably slept no more than 5 hours since Monday. Not sure why we had such a hard time getting sleep on the plane. So…I’m calling it a night.

I’m dirty.
I’m exhausted.
But…I’m in Africa with my son…visiting orphanages and seeing desperation and poverty at levels I’ve never imagined.
No complaining.

If you are reading this…I’m grateful for you. I need to get some sleep…I’m feeling a little more emotional than is normal.
After Good night’s rest….and I’ll post again tomorrow.

Trent…and Riley



What God CANNOT do!

I’m not sure if I’m like other communicators in the fact that I have rhythms of communication focus. Meaning, I have soapbox issues that I stand on as a critical focus of my preaching and teaching and thought process. Sometimes the focus/soapbox lasts only for a couple of weeks. The one I’m focused on lately has been one that has been my focus of thought for nearly a year. In fact, I’m not sure it’s a soapbox, and is instead, the central focus of my life and teachings and will remain so. My current focus has been on the fact that God created two laws that everything in life centers on. The laws I refer to are found in Leviticus 17:11 where God simply says, “For the life of a creature is in the blood, and I have given it to you to make atonement for yourselves on the altar; it is the blood that makes atonement for one’s life.”

Law One: The life of any creature is in its blood.
Law Two: The life blood must be shed in order for atonement/forgiveness.
God’s entire life system is built upon these two foundational laws. Why? I don’t know…Ask God someday…He created the system. I have found that it doesn’t do me any good to fight God and His ways.

Another critical factor and soapbox of mine about God is the fact that God is described as being both Mercy & Justice. I tend to think that God would argue with Himself a lot because of these two bi-polar traits. Justice and Mercy are opposites…God is both. Makes my head spin.

One other critical factor of God is that He is Perfect thus Pure Holiness to the extreme.

These traits create some “CANNOT” factors for God. There are some things that God CANNOT do. Keep following my thought…

So…as history goes…We all sin and fall short of God’s glory. God says when sin happens, He, in His perfection cannot be around sin, so He has to separate Himself from us. The only way we can be reunited with God again is for forgiveness to take place. God’s law above say that can only happen when lifeblood is taken. Meaning….somebody has to die to pay for the sin so atonement can happen. Did you notice that atonement is At-One-Ment?

This is where God’s bi-polarity of Justice and Mercy conflict. God in His extreme MERCY trait chooses for us not to die to pay for the sin and instead chooses His only Son, Jesus.
With Jesus’s death, His lifeblood paid for your sin and mine. Do you see how God’s Mercy trait is fulfilled by letting us live, yet God’s JUSTICE trait is fulfilled because His only Son died? Mercy and Justice were fulfilled. God’s mercy said, “people can live.” God’s justice said, “Jesus will die in their place.” Then God’s mercy flooded back and God thus mercifully raised Jesus from the dead. God’s justice is going to swing back our way again…how? When God sends Jesus to Judge all of mankind. Justice served. All complete. Mercy to Justice to Mercy and ending with Justice. Every human being given the choice to choose God’s mercy or His justice. It’s your choice. Heaven is Mercy. Hell is Justice. If you go through Jesus, God promises Mercy. If you choose not to go through Jesus, God’s Justice will be served. Both Justice and Mercy are traits of Love. Heaven and Hell will be full of people whom God loves. Love is giving you a choice. You have the freedom to choose the trait of love via Mercy, or you have the freedom to choose the trait of love via justice. Its a pretty simple way of life and it demonstrates a pretty cool God!

Fact…God’s cool and He likes you and He gives you freedom to choose to live how you wish…with consequences of whatever your choice is.

I say all that to make this point. I’ve heard people argue about how incredible God is and they wonder if there is anything that God CANNOT do.

There are some things that God CANNOT do.

1. God CANNOT go against His own law. This would mean that God lacks integrity and therefore would not actually be God.
2. God is perfect…He CANNOT sin.
3. God is love…He proved it by taking the lifeblood of His only Son to prevent you from having to die for your own sins. Thus God CANNOT love you more than He already does…or less. God IS love.
4. Because God is perfect and holy…God CANNOT break His promises.
(BTW…My list of 4…I’m sure is incomplete…so…please add anymore things that you think God CANNOT do in the reply section of this blog post!)

Thinking on these 4 points of things that God CANNOT do…here is a Bible verse to back them all up.
19 God is not a man, so he does not lie.
He is not human, so he does not change his mind.
Has he ever spoken and failed to act?
Has he ever promised and not carried it through?

Numbers 23:19

What are some of the promises of God…. (The list below is not exhaustive…and by all means you don’t have to keep reading to the bottom…However…If you could use some encouragement on the promises of God…below is just a teasing of the greatness of God and some promises that God CANNOT break! I find it easier to follow God knowing that there are some things that He CANNOT do.

Thanks for your time in reading to this point. I am honored.
I look forward to running into you someday and speaking with you about any of these things!

God Bless
Trent…

Some OLD TESTAMENT Promises…

God’s promise to bless Abraham and those that bless the descendants of Abraham.

Genesis 12:2-3
2 I will make you into a great nation. I will bless you and make you famous, and you will be a blessing to others. 3 I will bless those who bless you and curse those who treat you with contempt. All the families on earth will be blessed through you.”

God’s promise to break the bonds of slavery.

Leviticus 26:12-13
12 I will walk among you; I will be your God, and you will be my people. 13 I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt so you would no longer be their slaves. I broke the yoke of slavery from your neck so you can walk with your heads held high.

God’s promise not to lie to you or change His mind on you.

Numbers 23:19
19 God is not a man, so he does not lie.
He is not human, so he does not change his mind.
Has he ever spoken and failed to act?
Has he ever promised and not carried it through?

God’s promise that if you search for Him you will find Him.

Deuteronomy 4:29
29 But from there you will search again for the Lord your God. And if you search for him with all your heart and soul, you will find him.

Joshua’s testimony that God’s promises in the Bible never failed.

Joshua 23:14
14 “Soon I will die, going the way of everything on earth. Deep in your hearts you know that every promise of the Lord your God has come true. Not a single one has failed!

God’s promise of protection in the Bible

1 Samuel 2:9
9 “He will protect his faithful ones,
but the wicked will disappear in darkness.
No one will succeed by strength alone.

God’s promise to judge us by our hearts not our outward appearance.

1 Samuel 16:7
7 But the Lord said to Samuel, “Don’t judge by his appearance or height, for I have rejected him. The Lord doesn’t see things the way you see them. People judge by outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”

God’s Promise that His love never fails.

1 Chronicles 16:34
34 Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good!
His faithful love endures forever.

God’s promise to heal a nation.

2 Chronicles 7:14
14 Then if my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sins and restore their land.

God’s promise of fruitfulness and prosperity

Psalm 1:1-3
1 Oh, the joys of those who do not
follow the advice of the wicked,
or stand around with sinners,
or join in with mockers.
2 But they delight in the law of the Lord,
meditating on it day and night.
3 They are like trees planted along the riverbank,
bearing fruit each season.
Their leaves never wither,
and they prosper in all they do.

NEW TESTAMENT promises of God.

The promise of power from God

Acts 1:8
8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. And you will be my witnesses, telling people about me everywhere—in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”

The promise of right standing before God

Romans 1:16-17
16 For I am not ashamed of this Good News about Christ. It is the power of God at work, saving everyone who believes—the Jew first and also the Gentile.[a] 17 This Good News tells us how God makes us right in his sight. This is accomplished from start to finish by faith. As the Scriptures say, “It is through faith that a righteous person has life.

The promise that all things will work out for good.

Romans 8:28
28 And we know that God causes everything to work together[a] for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.

God’s Promise in the Bible of comfort.

2 Corinthians 1:3-4
God Offers Comfort to All
3 All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is our merciful Father and the source of all comfort. 4 He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us.

God’s promise of a new life in Christ.

2 Corinthians 5:17
17 This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!

The promise of every spiritual blessing.

Ephesians 1:3
Spiritual Blessings
3 All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ.

God’s Promise in the Bible of salvation.

Ephesians 2:8
8 God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God.

God’s promise to finish the work He started in us.

Philippians 1:6
6 And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.

God’s promise of peace when we pray.

Philippians 4:6-7
6 Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. 7 Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.

God’s Promise to supply all of our needs.

Philippians 4:19
19 And this same God who takes care of me will supply all your needs from his glorious riches, which have been given to us in Christ Jesus.

The promises of Jesus in the gospels.

Jesus promise of rest.

Matthew 11:28-30
28 Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.”

Jesus promise to find purpose in life.

Mark 8:34-37
34 Then, calling the crowd to join his disciples, he said, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross, and follow me. 35 If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake and for the sake of the Good News, you will save it. 36 And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul? 37 Is anything worth more than your soul?

Jesus promise of our names written in heaven.

Luke 10:20
20 But don’t rejoice because evil spirits obey you; rejoice because your names are registered in heaven.”

Jesus promise of eternal life.

John 3:16
16 “For God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.

Jesus promise that He will return for us.

John 14:2-3
2 There is more than enough room in my Father’s home. If this were not so, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you? 3 When everything is ready, I will come and get you, so that you will always be with me where I am.


WHAT IS FAITH?

I am reading a book by a man I met the other day named Mike Breen. The book is titled, “Building a Discipling Cuture.” There is a section where Mike writes about Faith. I’m not quoting him exactly here, so you’ll have to purchase his book to get the perfect version of what he said. Breen writes about how people seem to mistakenly think that Faith is “spelled” RISK. But he writes about how that notion is wrong. He says that Faith is “spelled” SURE. In my opinion his writing is right! Hebrews 11:1 backs this idea up. That passage says this, “Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.” The author of Hebrews doesn’t mention the word risk in this famous passage, but the author does mention surety and confidence. Thus the image below of me with a three year old alligator. I had total faith that this alligator would not bite me. It was not risky for one second to hold this alligator. How did I know? I had faith because I was sure and confident that the black tape around its mouth would hold it shut! I checked this gator out completely. I was able to feel and inspect this alligator’s feet, tail, belly, nostrils, teeth, and eyes. It was cool. Again…I had faith/confidence/surety that I would not be harmed. And I wasn’t.

In our relationship with God, faith isn’t about risk. Faith is about confidence. I think it’s fair for me to say that God only has great intentions for your life. To listen to God, to obey God…isn’t risky…unless you idolize this life and the stuff you have. If you are faithful to God and lose your life, lose your head, get tortured, lose your material goods, etc., in the big picture of eternity did you really lose anything? Or in that ‘loss’ did you really gain everything?

If you are afraid to do what God says because you are afraid you will be embarrassed, or afraid that you will lose your life, or afraid that you will lose your material goods…then what you should really be afraid of is the fact that your god is your reputation/life/material goods, etc. Having anything other than the Lord as your God is the greatest risk of ‘faith’ you could have.

If you have faith in God and do what He says you should do…you are living the ultimate secure life. For even if you lose everything you have, including your very life…you actually gained everything for eternity. That should give us all confidence and surety and hope. That should prod us on into the future with our heads held high and our focus on the finish line of the faith in Jesus Christ. This life is short and leaves us wanting.

Jesus fulfills. Only Jesus makes us full. There are no risks in Jesus as long as you don’t love this world and everything in it too much. When we have that kind of faith, then there is only confident assurance of our eternal status. There is no greater life than living for Jesus. Have faith. Be faith. Reek of faith!

What is God asking of you?
What are you doing about it?
Have faith!


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