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Have you wondered this…”Why am I not as strong of a Christian as I could be?”

I think one reason that Facebook is so popular is because it creates DIALOGUE…communication that goes two ways…I post, you listen, you post, I listen! You are sitting in silence with facebook-friends and dialoging. It’s great!  There’s much to learn from this that can relate to the health of our Christian walk.

If you are struggling at being a fully devoted follower of Jesus. MAYBE one of the problems you have towards Christ is that your relationship with Jesus is too MONOLOGUE = one directional. He’s my Savior. I cry out to Him. I Sing worship songs about Him. I go to Church. I pray to Him. I study the Word, I go to Youth Group. I read books. I have a great preacher. I attend small group. I do christian work. I tune in to Christian radio. These are all Monologue…One directional LOUD & BUSY efforts. If there is dialogue it is usually dialoging with people, not God. It tends to still be all about you doing life with people. This is good…but other people are not God.

When God gave us 1 mouth and 2 ears…was He trying to make a point?

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When was the last time you just stopped and listened to the Lord in silence for a long period of time? When was the last time you let Him speak to you? Not music, preaching, books, group discussions, etc. When was the last time Only GOD spoke to you?

He usually speaks through a quiet whisper.  Read 1 Kings 19:12

You’ll have to get very quiet and be still if you want to hear Him.  Read Psalm 46:10

When was the last time you allowed God’s voice to enter your loud and busy world/Head/Heart?

Don’t forget…

“Jesus OFTEN withdrew to a QUIET place to spend time with His Father.” Luke 5:16

“Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.” James 4:8

You will not find the time to do this. You can only make the time to listen to God.

“Be still and know that I am God.”  Psalm 46:10


Mile Marker Moments…

If you pause and think  about critical moments in your life, there will always be three elements that can be Mile_Marker_747remembered.

By critical moments… I mean the kind of moments that tend to alter the direction of your life.  They leave a brand, a scar, or a wound that struggles to heal.  Or, these critical moments could be ones that were permanently positive. Positive like a tattoo you chose that will never go away. Positive critical moments like the memory of your children being born, or your wedding day, or the day that Jesus became your Lord and Savior.

Make no mistake about it, when I am referring to Mile Marker Moments, you will not have to wonder if the memory you have is a Mile Marker one or not.  You just know.  Mile Markers are huge and this is why they come to mind on a regular basis.  They altered the direction of your life.

Mile Markers are never forgotten.

The point is…these are critical moments.  These critical moments are significant enough that even years after the Mile Marker Moment has happened, we can be going about our day and have something small happen that causes the Memory of the Mile Marker Moment to flood back to our minds, and bring on waves of emotions that causes us to remember it, as if it happened yesterday.

My point is that I believe the best kind of learning is what I call reflective learning.  Reflecting back over your Mile Marker Moment Memories and learning from them.

The best way to learn from these huge mile marker moments in our lives is to reflect on the three elements that are always a part of the critical Mile Marker moment.

In each of your Mile Marker Moments there is/was…

1.  A Key Person.

2.  A Key Place.

3. A Key Moment.

Think about the Mile Marker that is branded or tattooed on your life. Who was the key person? Where was the key place?  What was the key moment?

Now Reflect.

Be still. Think about the elements.  What happened?  If faced with the Moment again, how might I do things differently.  Could I have prevented it, made it better, or ?

There are two kinds of Mile Marker Moments.

1. Joyful Mile Markers.

2. Hurtful Mile Markers.

When you reflect on the Joyful Mile Marker Moments, they  will give you great joy!  They can pull you out of a depression.  Use this positive reflection time to communicate with the Key Person, whom you created that Mile Marker Moment with, and thank them and tell them you are grateful for them.  Tell them that you love them…for if they created such a joyful Mile Marker in your life…you really will love them.

The Chosen Positive Mile Marker Moments are easy to deal with.  They bring you joy.  Reflect on them.  Learn from them.  Repeat them as often as you can.

The Mile Marker Moments that you did NOT choose and have left you hurt and angry.  These are the tough ones to reflect on.  When you do reflect upon these…you are going to discover whether or not you have healed from them.  If the pain of the event comes rushing back in and you find yourself angry, then the reality is, you have not healed from that Mile Marker Moment yet.

You may have forgiven the Key person, The Key Place, and the Key Moment, in this Mile marker at one point in your past,  but the healing is still in process and you may have to re-forgive as you reflect and deal with the emotion of the Mile Marker once again.  The pain resurfacing, is an alert to your heart and soul, warning you to work through the process of forgiveness again.  And again, if necessary.

The point is to be able to reflect on the Mile Marker Moment and the Key Person, Key Place and Key Moment, without any pain.  The goal is to be able to reflect without bitterness and hurt.  The goal is to have that Mile Marker Moment lead you into greater wisdom, experience, and preparedness for the future Key People, Key Places and Key Moments you will undoubtedly encounter again.

As you reflect on these Mile Marker Moments,  and if you find yourself feeling angry and swirling into your dark place, that dark place you went to soon after the negative Mile Marker Moment happened…You know that dark place I”m talking about.  If you find yourself headed there and not wanting to forgive again…then…

I want to remind you, like I have to remind myself.  God is our rock.  God tells us who we are.  God owns vengeance, not me…not you.

Don’t let Mile Markers define you, use them to refine you.

As you reflect on your Mile Marker Moments and if you possibly find yourself swimming in un-forgiveness again.  I want to challenge you to get humble and remember the times in your life where you sinned and hurt other people…thus becoming someone’s Key Person in their hurtful Mile Marker Moment.

Ask yourself, “Did Jesus die for my sin, so that I could be forgiven for it?  The Answer is always, “Yes.”  Once you acknowledge that Jesus died so you could be forgiven of the sins you committed, then ask yourself, “Did Jesus die, so the sins of the  hurtful Key Person in my Mile Marker Moment, could be forgiven too?  The Answer is always, “Yes.”

Jesus died for my sins that hurt others and the sins of those who hurt me.

I must forgive too.

Mile Marker Moment Memories are going to flash before you on a regular basis.  Use the memory of it all to reflect in a way that continually pushes you to grow, improve, and shine. The alternative just isn’t worth it.

As you reflect on your Mile Markers, may you ever increase your ability to be better, not bitter. 

Mile Marker Moments…even the horrifically painful ones…can make you better.

It’s a choice.

We have a lot of miles ahead of us.  As we continue our journey, I pray that we will slowly and steadily improve in our ability to be better prepared for the new Mile Markers that we will soon encounter and never forget.

Love ya.  If I can assist you through life in a way that helps you get closer to Jesus, just ask and I’ll do my best.

Trent


Your next Big Conference…

The next time you are at your next learning conference/meeting remember this.

The danger with listening to the successful guy/lady on stage at your next BIG CONFERENCE, or in your next big meeting, is that they are speaking about their experience in retrospect.  ‘After the fact’ can be spoken about with great 20/20 hindsight.  ‘After the fact’ removes the fear/pain they experienced and makes it all sound like child’s play that can fit on 9 powerpoint slides.  These 9 slides have a tendency to give you a prescription of success if you simply mix the same potion.  christian conference

Don’t forget that the successful story you are being presented is THEIR STORY.  Their unique gifts.  Their unique circumstances. Their unique spouse/teammate/family.  Their unique town.  Their unique use by God.

Your gifts and talents are unique and exceptional to you.

Be a learner as you listen to the  speaker and acknowledge that he/she does not have the formula to YOUR success.

God does.

Listen to Him.

Do what He says.

If there is ever a guarantee of success…doing what the Holy Spirit tells you is the best shot you got.

 


The Greatest Injustice in the world…

ReturnHopeLogoThe greatest injustice of all, would be having a world full of well fed men, women, and children with no disease, fresh water to drink, a rich supply of clean clothes, every orphan and widow provided for, yet all of these cared for people, still facing a reality in Hell because we didn’t give them Jesus Christ as Lord of their lives.

That is the ultimate injustice.  That would be the greatest trick of the devil.  To have all this good work take place, but none of it matter eternally for those who were cared for.

ReturnHope wants to do something about this “greatest injustice.”  However, this injustice can only be conquered by using a specific strategy that will impact not only women and children eternally…but men too.

It seems to me that there is a lot of ministry taking place around the world.  Good ministry work.  It seems most of this good ministry work is focused on the care of the women and children.  I haven’t met anybody who is okay with watching women and children suffering.  But if we want to solve the problems of the world…it is going to have to be through the changing of the lives of men all around the world too.  Let’s admit it.  Men cause war.  Men have testosterone.  Men are the muscle of the world.  World problems are caused on a majority basis…by men.  Change the men…change the world!  Change the men…and women and children will be blessed too.

Injustices can only be fully conquered when the man is impacted along with the entire family for Jesus Christ as Lord.

ReturnHope wants to take on the impossible task of being used by God to change the hearts and minds of the men of our world and turn those hearts and mind towards the Lord Jesus.  In this endeavor, think of how blessed the women and children of the world would be too!

In the American Church…there is a comparable man problem that relates to my point.   If your Church reaches the mom of the family, the mom and kids will become the church, but the man of the family, more than likely, will stay home and not become the church and miss out on the growth opportunities that being the church creates. If the kids are reached, then mom will likely join the church too, but dad will end up staying home.  What this creates is a frustrated mom and child(ren) because the heavy influence of unchurched dad outweighs the influence of the church on the mom and kids. (One hour of Church added with another 2 hours of small group influence for the mom and kids cannot compete with the other 168 hours of the week controlled by unchurched dad’s influence.) So, a church that aims to reach the man for Christ, can be confident that mom and the kids are highly likely to come too.  It’s a whole family philosophy of how to design a strategy of the church…and the same should be for a world mission’s strategy!

The last 15 years of my life I have been privileged to travel to places like Peru South America, Uganda Africa, Jerusalem Israel and other amazing places.  In these locations,  I’ve encountered injustices that are ruling that culture. The same cause is evident in all these locations.  The cause is… men aren’t leading or being impacted by the good news of Jesus Christ.  Men are not being partnered with, or challenged to become responsible to their God given purpose to work, provide and steward the family that He gave them.  Men seem to have been given up on, and I think, that is a perpetuator of injustices.

So much good work is being done around the world towards the injustices of lack of clean water, nakedness, lack of shelter, disease, orphan and widow-hood.  A majority of this good work is being focused on the women and children.  Now, understandably, it is a very good thing to help the women and children.  ReturnHope International is going to do a lot of ministry for women and children everywhere…But…I beg of all people involved in the family of ReturnHope to be focused on being used by God to change the lives of the men of the villages around the world too.   As we do all our work, I beg of the ReturnHope family to always be thinking about how our work is being perceived by the man of the family, or the men of the village we are impacting.   If we are not careful we can easily create welfare situations where women and children become dependent on the American difference maker.  Please Lord, don’t allow ReturnHope difference makers to mistakenly fill the position of the man of the family in the foreign culture!  We want the native man to step up into his God designed role for him to be the provider and care taker of the family that God asked him to steward.  As we do our work for women and children, let’s never stop thinking about the man and how our work might be affecting his heart, mind and self esteem.  Let’s involve the man by walking alongside him as we do good work together for women and children!

We must go after the grown men too.

This is an impossible task.  This is a task where we must begin by only praying and planning and then moving forward with what will be trial by fire.  Chuck Swindoll said that when there is an impossible task that needs to be tackled, He will find an impossible person…crush them…and then use them to take on the impossible task.  I’ve been told by quite a few that, “I’m impossible!” 🙂  The last 3 years, God has been crushing me and allowing me to be crushed by others. (I wrote about this on this blog site if you’d like to read it…click the following links…its two part and its called “The Crushing part 1” and then “The Crushing part 2”)  I believe God has allowed this crushing to bring me to the point of right here..right now.  He is asking me to take on the leadership of ReturnHope and team with you to use our talents to begin this impossible ministry.  I imagine that when this life is over…our efforts will have been fully worth it…whether we failed or succeeded.  Let’s spend the rest of our lives in this pursuit and then we’ll do high fives together about it all in eternity together…red, yellow, black, brown and white….male and female!!

Please start praying with me about our first encounter with a group of village men in Uganda.  These men will be sitting in a big circle most of the day in a distant village.  In the middle of the circle will be a large bowl of home made alcohol.  Each man in the circle will have a long straw that reaches from the bowl to his mouth.  SANYO DIGITAL CAMERAThis drinking begins in the morning and goes all day.  At night…well…this is when evil reigns.  These men in their drunken state rape their wives and abuse their daughters, beat their kids and fuel injustices towards total hopelessness….does this cause you to hate them?  If so, then I ask you to pray for them and change your heart towards them.  The men in this picture are only doing what they have been taught by their fathers, who were taught by their fathers…  Pray that ReturnHope will break this vicious cycle by also reaching the men sitting in these circles.  What is exciting for me is to explain to you what you cannot see in this picture.  All around this picture are groups of other men who are not drinking and being responsible, groups of women singing and playing with their children and/or cooking lunch or dinner. Children are playing soccer or climbing in the trees and they all want to know you, and spend time with you.  On every trip ReturnHope goes on, you will be able to choose which group you want to get involved with and interact with.  It is truly an amazing adventure and trip that will change your life.

So…

ReturnHope has a man on the ground in Uganda right now who is scouting out our very first village.  We will enter this village by providing a fresh water well (Money is already raised for this well!) and beginning a relationship with the village leaders…the men, and also the women and children! The date isn’t set yet, but we are getting ready to go!  I personally am going to be working on the men of the village.  ReturnHope will need people who want to do good in the villages for the other people all around the village too.  My gut tells me that this first trip might be more spontaneous that most of you are prepared for, but that is just a hard reality of the first trip ReturnHope takes.  Once the first trip is complete, we will be able to plan ahead a bit more!

In the mean time I am asking you to pray specifically for the men we will encounter in this first village.  Please pray frequently, so that when we arrive and meet these men, they will have been prayed for by hundreds of you…Hopefully thousands of you.  Please pray that the Holy Spirit will help us pick God’s first circle of men that He wants us to influence.  Pray that these men’s hearts will be prepared for our encounter. Pray for a man in the village who is a pastor who ReturnHope will equip with material and training to be even more impactful in his ministry work for the Lord.  Pray that as we encounter these men, they will give their lives to Jesus and accept the challenge to work alongside us to conquer the injustices they face in their own villages and country!  We as Americans cannot do the work ourselves, we must walk alongside the foreigner and team with them.  We must be learners alongside them as we teach each other.

This will not be a one time encounter.  When we enter a village, we enter into a life long covenant and relationship with the people of the village.  We will return on occasion to continue with these villagers as our brothers and sisters in Jesus Christ who someday will live lives that are not controlled by injustices.  The relationships that we build with these men, women, and children will last an eternity.  We will all impact one another in a mighty way.  It really is a beautiful picture of returning hope to one another.   I believe it is what God intended for the Body of Christ to be…aka…The Church.

Every time you eat…I’m asking that you would pause and pray for this endeavor.  When you read your Bibles, pray again.  When you meet for your Bible study, ask the group to pray specifically for our success in impacting this first village of men, women and children that we encounter.

Again, we (you & me — ReturnHope) are beginning in Uganda Africa.  As soon as we pick our first village…I will inform you of its name and location and when we are planning on leading a group over!  Our trips will consist of impacting Men, Women and Children.  I will give updates all along the way.  I pray that you will share this post with the people in your life who are looking for a purpose to get involved in that lasts eternally!

Will you pray everyday about all of this?  Will you go with us over there?

It has begun.

Let’s ReturnHope to places that are imprisoned by hopelessness…and then ask them to pay it forward by returning hope to others too!

What a cool and challenging adventure!