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Sink or Swim

An adapted quote from Goi Nasu…

“An entire sea of water can’t sink a ship unless it gets inside the ship. All the sin in the world can’t sink a Christian’s soul unless it gets inside.”sinking boat

It starts with just a small drop…

-it’s just a movie.-It’s just a sports swimsuits magazine. -it’s just a joke. -it’s just a little flirting. It’s her fault she gave me the wrong change back. -I just tried it once. -it’s just one drink. I deserve more. -It’s just a text msg. -I can do a better job than him. -I didn’t intend for it to go this way… … …. … … …

Let’s guard our God given freedom.  It is very easy to become desensitized to what the Bible calls sin.  At the same time it is easy to blur the line between holiness and legalism.  Freedom requires incredible selflessness and responsibility.  Following Jesus is not for the faint of heart.  

A ship under water began to sink when the first single drop got in the boat. Do you need to start bailing water out of your boat? 

If necessary, start with 1 John 1:9, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us ours sins and purify us from all unrighteousness”. Keep your eyes on the eternal prize! Swim baby swim!!


Success Poem by Trent Renner

Road to success

I’d like to address a thing called success. 

It’s believed to be the attainment of money.

This definition perplexes me

I find it sadly funny.

*

I once listened to a man say, “Money changes the world.”

When I heard the phrase, I almost hurled.

Let’s ask Ghandi, or Jesus, or Mother Teresa,

if that belief needs to be a bit unfurled.

*

Success and money don’t go hand in hand,

In this day and age that belief is…well…bland.

Will you follow this path too many have traveled?

If you do, you too will have your life unraveled.

*

No… Success is quite simple, its definition is revealed

in the man and the woman with body kneeled.

Praying to the Lord Jesus for His will to be done.

And living in unity for only the Almighty one.

*

Stepping through life with a holy focus and zeal.

Not getting caught up in this world’s appeal.

Sacrificing for others, serving the one above.

Success is only attained through Faith, Hope and Love.

*

If today you have grasped this true definition.

Then I pray you live out your godly mission.

Jesus is the one you must live to impress.

This only and only this is truly success.

—Trent Renner, 2014


Having Done in Room 1501 Week-8 (1st bad day)

JCS Crest 2014Room 1501 pic

 

 

Week 8?  No way, that’s crazy.  I can’t believe how fast it has gone by.  Are you humming, “It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas,” yet?   I’m not sure whether or not I’m going to decorate Room 1501 in Christmas Decor or not.  My gut says that I’m not going to decorate…don’t call me a grinch….if that bothers you…then come on in to Room 1501 and decorate it!  🙂  

8 weeks in and it is clear that Room 1501 students are getting comfortable with me as their Bible teacher.  This is good and not so good. This is the first week I’ve gotten frustrated with one of the classes in room 1501.  No matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t seem to get control of the class to the point where they were all listening and engaged. They were talking over me, and simply not engaging in what I was trying to teach.  I don’t fully blame the students.  I’m learning that classroom order is multi-faceted.  

I have to acknowledge as a teacher, that it is not just the students job to keep the classroom in order. Is it not true, in any situation where order is needed, that all parties are responsible to maintain order?  The person up front must be teaching in an engaging way…AND…the listeners must accept responsibility to practice the discipline of sitting still and engaging in the material being taught.   On this specific day, I was revisiting some material we had already gone over, and it was clear the students were tired of the subject.  I kept trying to capture their attention.  First, I simply asked the few who were talking to please “listen up.”  Secondly, I raised my voice tones a little more to try and make it obvious that I was trying to get them to listen.  Third, I added a little drama to my teaching by pacing and walking around the classroom….all to no avail!  

Room 1501 classes are only 40 minutes long.  In my many failed attempts to get the class to tune in…I actually used 30 minutes.  I’m pretty sure nothing was learned, but it was 30 minutes of pure effort on my part.  So…with only about 10 minutes left I told the class how frustrated I was.  I told them that when I was a student, the teacher would throw chalk and erasers at us when we behaved like this.  I told them I was so frustrated that I wanted to throw dry erase markers and erasers at them…but since I couldn’t do that…I told them all to get out of my class.  I told them that if I got in trouble for kicking them all out of room 1501 with 7 minutes of class left…that they were all busted too!

As the class nervously and quickly exited the room, many of the students walked by me with heads down, saying, “Sorry Mr. Renner.”  It made for a long night for me.  I went over and over in my head what I could have done differently, and this one silly incident caused me to wonder if I’m any good at teaching.

As I type this, I now find it somewhat humorous that I can have 7 weeks of great teaching with great student response, and then only one bad class nearly causes me to believe I’m bad at teaching.  LOL.  I’m becoming more dramatic as I age.  I’m going to assume that most of you have experienced something similar.  We all have great gifts that God has blessed us with and we can have so many great responses…but ONE BAD RESPONSE nearly does us in!  Please tell me I’m not the only one this happens to??

Fast forward 24 hours…and nobody got in trouble, and everybody came in the next class day with a great attitude…even me.

As I shared the experience with a few teachers, they simply rolled their eyes at me and said…”Please…Welcome to teaching!”  Not all days are a good day.  I suppose I should just say, “duh.”  I know this, but for some reason that day really got at me.

There was good that came from it all…that specific class of students in Room 1501 were amazing the rest of the week.  I especially smiled, when the worst culprits from that bad day…were now the ones who asked the class to quiet down when it started getting rowdy.

I guess the moral of the story is this.  It takes all parties cooperating for peace to exist and thrive.

I suppose, if I’m really admitting to my own past behavior as a student, I deserve to have some days where the students in Room 1501 cause me some gray hairs.  That is exactly what kind of student I was… too often.   Some people call it Karma.  I call it, God’s sense of humor!”

I suppose it would do me well, right now,  to remember what I have preached so many times.  “Our battles are not flesh and blood.”  To quote the exact Bible passage…

For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places.” –Ephesians 6:12

You and I are going to have a few bad classes.  Bad days.  Bad jobs. Bad relationships days.  Those days are not the norm.  Those moments do not define who we are.  They are just life. The Bible challenges us to focus on the good.  Even after watching some 10 O’clock news channel, I still believe that there is way more good in this world than there is bad.  The bad just hurts more and thus feels more real and prevalent.  The 10 O’clock news usually only focuses on the bad, and that tends to be all that we see, causing us to think the world has gone to hell in a hand basket.

It has not.  You are good.  I am good.  God is great.  You and I will become what we are focused on.  I think it is fitting to quote the Bible verse that is resonating in my head right now about this topic.

Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. 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. And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. — Philippians 4:6-8.

There are so many things happening in Room 1501 that are true, honorable, right, pure, lovely, and admirable!  I know the same it is true for you and your workplace, your home, and your life!  Don’t give the bad so much credit.  It doesn’t deserve that much attention.

Tomorrow is a good day.  When you get up in the morning, get on your knees for just a moment and give God thanks for what you are about to encounter.  Invite Him into every decision that you are about to make, every meeting you are about to attend, and every action you have yet to do…Then the God of peace will be with you.

That will be a good day…no matter what happens.

Here comes Monday!

 

 


What to do when in The Crushing… Post 2 of 2

The previous post described what a crushing is.  Chuck Swindoll said,

“When God has an impossible task to accomplish, he finds an impossible person and crushes them.  So leave room in your life for the crushing…

Leave room for the crushing.

In every great work of God, brokenness and failure are necessary.”

After post 1, I received a lot of messages in regards to how much this subject resonated with people.  I appreciate all the great comments and stories.  Keep them coming.  I would encourage more people to post via the comment section on this Blog sight instead of sending me personal emails because the comments you sent via email would be so helpful to others.  I figure if I can be this transparent with my circumstances, thoughts, and ideas…you can too.  Right?  So publicly post your stuff on here and let God use it for others.

After receiving all the comments, I couldn’t sleep last night and began to think more about breaking this topic of Crushing down a bit more.  So…the following are some more ideas about this Crushing topic.

I think there are levels of Crushing.  I mentioned in the previous post that if you have to guess if whether or not you have been through a crushing, then you have not been through one.  They are unmistakable.  They are not just painful, they are crushing, humiliating, and leave you broken and humbled.  Many people think they are going through a crushing, but all God is doing with them is pruning them.  So…I want to use the rest of this post to think out loud about levels of pain/pruning and crushing.

DISCLAIMER:   Before you jump into my nicely organized pain guide below…please be aware…the points below are lacking something.  They are lacking the ultimate reason as to WHY.  I warn people to never ask WHY bad things happen…because I’m pretty confident we will rarely get the explanation.  If we do get an explanation, it is usually followed with another why question.  So…I preface what I’m about to say with this.  Sometimes bad just happens because the devil is alive and well and evil exists in a strong way.   If you get caught up in the world of why…you are going to find yourself in a very dark place.  The best question to ask is not “why”, but “now what Jesus?”

The following is a breakdown of 3 types of pain.  Any of them could be used for your crushing that you are leaving room for according to post 1 of 2.

ONE.  Self Inflicted Trials (SIT)

A self inflicted trial can be a crushing. But it’s very rare.  Nearly an endangered species.  Usually the SIT is simply painful pruning.    A SIT is simply what some might call “The School of Hard Knocks.”  It could be simple foolishness, immaturity, sticking your foot in your mouth…or plain and simple, just learning the hard way.   Jeremiah 7:19 in the Bible God says, ” Am I the one they are hurting?” asks the Lord. “Most of all, they hurt themselves, to their own shame.”  SIT PIC

I think I may have these daily!  LOL   In fact…we all do.  I pray we all would lighten up a little with these and learn how to laugh at ourselves a little bit more, swallow some humility and work on being better today than I was yesterday.

The Self Inflicted Trial is really self hurt.  If you find yourself in this kind of pain or trial then I encourage you to do what the acronym says.  Sit!  You need a holy sit.  Stop your mind from going a thousand miles per hour.  Ponder.  Reflect.  Ask yourself what you could have done differently. Repent to God for your own infliction.  Forgive yourself and don’t repeat the self inflicted trial again.  The best way to avoid SIT’s in the future is to continually fill yourself with the Holy Spirit, read the wisdom of Scripture, and  obey it.

I think as we age and spiritually mature…we will have fewer SIT in our lives.

TWO.  Maturity Anticipated Trial (MAT)

This is where the true crushing begins.  I want to be clear…MAT is not always for the purpose of maturing…but can always be used towards maturity.  A MAT only happens to the obedient in Jesus Christ.  The perfect examples in the Bible are Job and Jesus.  The MAT is something you choose.  That’s why some of you haven’t had a MAT yet.  That’s why Chuck Swindoll said to leave room in your life for the Crushing.  A MAT is chosen.  A MAT is anticipated.  A MAT is an act of obedience!  And it’s just how God made creation and how He designed it to improve.  Some would argue that Job didn’t choose his MAT.  Yes he did.  He obeyed.  When you obey the holy promptings of a dangerous God, you will have a MAT, sooner or later.  In the previous post I referenced Gold, Swords, Diamonds and Wine.  These all must be crushed, broken down or experience friction to improve.  The MAT is one that you sense God prompting you towards.  You anticipate it.  You see can see it coming!  I have shared details about my MAT/Crushing over the past few blogs.  I knew they were coming.  It all starts with a prompting from God to pursue the unknown, the impossible or to give up your comforts.  When God starts prompting like this, the hearer can begin to anticipate a MAT/crushing coming.  This is terrifying.  It takes courage and total trust in God to move into a MAT!  As I am spiritually being matured through this crushing that I believe is about to end, I am pretty sure that I could face another crushing with more Joy.  I only say that as I look back over the past very dark nearly 3 years.  If I could do it over again…I would have just smiled more and worried less.  I would have submitted more through humility and joy.   This can actually be backed up with Scripture.MAT pic

The Bible say in James 1:2-4, “Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. 3 For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow.  So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.”

or…

“The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you can endure.”  1 Corinthians 10:13.

That last passage could be translated, “When God turns the heat up on our lives, He never takes His hand off the thermostat!”

What do you do when facing a MAT?  I recommend that you get a cushioned MAT and take it out to a quiet and lonely place regularly, get on your knees , and on that MAT… pray for strength, pray for growth, pray for understanding, pray for perseverance, study the scripture about pain and the promises of God.   Earlier I said that somebody going through a MAT is an obedient follower of Jesus…so…this means you are plugged into a local Church.  So…during your MAT…however long your MAT lasts…lean hard on the family and friendships you have with the people who care about you.  Don’t feel bad about this leaning.  This leaning is a gift to others.  Never take somebody’s joy of giving away.  If there are holy people in your life through that local church, God placed them in your life for this very moment.  Anyway…if they are mature believers in Christ too…their personal MAT is coming sooner or later(if they leave room for it) and you will be able to be there for them at that time.  So…if you are facing a MAT…go get your mat to keep the knee calluses from forming too quickly…and persevere!  You can do all things through Jesus who gives you strength.  Keep asking…”now what Lord?”  Keep asking…”How would you have me behave now Lord?”

THREE: Punishment Intended Trial. (PIT)

A PIT is simply this.  You were evil and you are getting nailed for it!  This is just your harsh reality, and like a good parent disciplines their child, so God, the Perfect Father, is discipling you.  If you are in a PIT right now and that previous sentence just ticked you off…how is that working for you?  Accept that you deserve your PIT.  Humble yourself and accept the discipline that is being delivered.  Is that too harsh?  I don’t think its harsh, just clear.

Revelation 3:19 says, ” I correct and discipline everyone I love. So be diligent and turn from your indifference.”

If you are in a PIT because of evil you committed in this life…that means you have been digging a hole and you are stuck in it.  What should you do?  STOP DIGGING!  Give up.  Stop running from God.  Repent.   RISE!   Get your eyes back on your creator.  Submit to His discipline.  Surrender your heart to holiness and your God will stop the discipline and draw you into Himself and love on you and tell you how much you matter to Him and how Grateful He is to have you back.  Confess to those you have hurt.  Beg their forgiveness.  Change your life.  PIT pic

The perfect story to relate to this is the Prodigal Son story.  When is the last time you read it?  Click hear if you would like to pause from this blog and be taken to the Bible story about the prodigal son.  The story is found in the Bible in Luke 15:11-32.  Pay attention to the son’s PIT.  He was literally eating pig slop when he realized he was in his PIT.

1 John 1:9 in the Bible says, But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness.”

If you are stuck in a PIT…you can’t get out yourself.  You are going to have to forgive those who hurt you and maybe they will throw you a rope to help you out of the PIT.   If they are too hurt to help you, then pray to God that they would at least contact someone who can help you out of your PIT.  If you have nobody to call, I will help you or connect you with someone who can.  My cell phone number is 623-628-1400, my email is trentrenner@me.com.  Please know that I have a personal policy that I created that prevents me from spending any time on the phone, texting, internet chatting or personally meeting with anyone of the opposite sex without a 3rd party present.  Sadly, that policy, due to the world changing, is probably going to have to expand to those of the same sex too.  But I will help you.

SIT

MAT

PIT

They are real.  I hope that helps you determine where you are at in your crushing/pain or pruning phases of your life.

The main thing…let the pain improve you!

You are loved.  Keep your head up.


THE CRUSHING… Post 1 of 2

Speaking this morning with a good friend over a great cup of coffee, we talked about something that Chuck Swindoll said at the Catalyst Conference in 2009.  If you don’t know who Chuck Swindoll is, then click his name and it will take you to his webpage.  Chuck Swindoll is 79 years old and is my favorite communicator.  He has been in full time ministry for more than 50 years.  He is finishing strong and I’m inspired by this man’s character, wisdom and love for the Lord.

Something that Swindoll said at the 2009 Catalyst conference has haunted me ever since I heard it, and it resonates with me still.  Swindoll talked about the Crushing.  This is what he actually said.

“When God has an impossible task to accomplish, he finds an impossible person and crushes them.  So leave room in your life for the crushing…

Leave room for the crushing.

In every great work of God, brokenness and failure are necessary.”

The Crushing?  What does that mean?  I’m not sure it is easy to explain.  It can only be understood when it is actually happening.  I think…if you do not know whether or not you have been through your crushing…then you have not.  Let me be clear…The Crushing is unmistakable.   Mine started on August 12th, 2011.  I’m hoping that my crushing is just now ending nearly 2 and 1/2 years later.   I am terrified that my crushing might not be over.  It’s still too early in this new venture I’m calling ReturnHope International to know if God’s crushing of me has actually paused or stopped.  Only time will tell.

Your crushing…if you go through one…will not be like mine.  Each one is uniquely made by the hands of God.   The Bible hero named Job went through a crushing.   Noah had to have gone through a crushing.   Jesus went through a crushing.  Abraham, Peter, Samson.  There are some common era people you have heard of that have gone through crushings…

Abraham Lincoln (failed 12 times in governmental pursuits until being elected the 16th President.)  I don’t know if that was his crushing or not.  He lost a child…maybe that was his crushing??

Bill gates was a Harvard Dropout.

Beethoven’s music teacher once said of him “as a composer, he is hopeless.”

Thomas Edison failed 9000 times in light experiments before he succeeded.

Michael Jordan was actually cut from his high school basketball team because of his “lack of skill.”

Winston Churchill failed the 6th grade.

Albert Einstein’s grades in school were so poor that a teacher asked him to quit, saying, “Einstein, you will never amount to anything!”

Henry Ford’s first two automobile companies failed.

You get the idea?  The crushing isn’t just failure…but embarrassing/humiliating failure.  The kind that people think you’ve lost your touch, credibility and insight.  That is a crushing.  The crushing causes deep humiliation and brokenness.  The crushing takes the fight right out of you.

Back to Swindoll’s quote above.  He asks if you are leaving room for your crushing?  Maybe I should ask…what does leaving room for a crushing even look like?  My guess is that the only way you can leave room for a crushing is to make sure you’re life isn’t so protected that you actually arrive at death’s door safely!   I had a guy tell me one time that his pastor was a calculated risk taker.  I think that is an oxymoron.  What the heck is a calculated risk?  I know what it’s not…it’s not leaving room for the crushing.  Leaving room for the Crushing might start with God asking you to give some things away.  I don’t mean tithing…if you are able to give even 50 or 60% of your salary to the Lord…that is not a crushing you are going through.   If you serve in the nursery every Sunday…it might be close 🙂 …but it’s not your crushing.  To give away something valuable just to be replaced with another valuable…is not a sacrifice and most definitely not a crushing.

The crushing is not fun.  But it’s what makes diamonds, swords, purer gold and where wine  begins!   crushing the grapes with feet color The crushing is deep sacrifice.  It wounds, cuts, destroys and leaves you empty…but…

That emptiness is what God is looking for.  That emptiness is the very vessel that He longs to fill.  That emptiness now shouts to the Lord…”I am ready to be a servant to you only!”

If you haven’t been through a crushing…(you will know for sure if you have)…then my cold hearted guess as to why…is that you haven’t ventured into something that you cannot do yourself.  You have lived in your own abilities.  I’m not sure there is anything wrong with that.   It is said that when people know their death is upon them, they have no regrets about what they have done…they regret what might have been.

I remember a guy standing in a circle of friends who was making fun of another Pastor that always cries when he speaks.  I heard this guy making fun of this pastor and I couldn’t take it anymore and walked up to him and said, “The day you venture into something impossible and find success or the day you go through such a horrible crushing that it nearly ruins you…you will understand why that guy cries every time he shares “The Good News.”

The past 3 years of my life have been a crushing.  There is no guarantee that life gets easier for any of us.   Many people believe that if you obey God, then your life will turn out roses and cherries.  What a lie!  Ask the Apostles how obedience paid off for them on this side of life.  Freakin click here and read Hebrews 11:35-40 and tell me that God kept obedient followers of God safe and sound.

I cant imagine what the last 3 years of my life would have been like without help of friends and family.  I have literally been carried financially in that amount of time.  By friends and family, I mean the Church.  I believe that the hope of the world is in Jesus Christ and that He is best found in the body of God called the Church!  The Crushing Sucks…but there are promises of something better for those who go through it…whether in this life or the next!  I can’t imagine going through a crushing without the church.

Before the crushing…I would roll my eyes at the person who would say, ‘The only good in me, is Jesus Christ.”  I used to call people who said that, “Churchy, or people who over are spiritualizing things.”  If you can’t stand that phrase, then you have not been through a crushing.  If you struggle giving the Holy Spirit all the credit in your life, for anything good, then you have not been through a crushing.

I can tell you, with total confidence, that anything good in me is Jesus Christ.  I mean that.  Outside of Jesus Christ I am Skubala.  If you don’t know what that word means then click it and read the blog post I recently wrote in regards to it.  (Please don’t be offended by it, but understand the truth of what I’m teaching in that blog.) You must grasp this…anyone outside of Jesus Christ is set for eternal destruction.  So, for clarity…anything good in me is Jesus.

So…I end this tough reality blog with the following 10 quick points from Chuck Swindoll’s message at that 2009 Catalyst conference where he taught about The Crushing…

 

1) It’s lonely to lead. Leadership involves tough decisions. The tougher the decision, the lonelier it is.

2) It’s dangerous to succeed. I’m most concerned for those who aren’t even 30 and are very gifted and successful. Sometimes God uses someone right out of youth, but usually he uses leaders who have been crushed.

3) It’s hardest at home. No one ever told me this in Seminary.

4) It’s essential to be real. If there’s one realm where phoniness is common, it’s among leaders.  Stay real.

5) It’s painful to obey. The Lord will direct you to do some things that won’t be your choice. Invariably you will give up what you want to do for the cross.

6) Brokenness and failure are necessary.

7) Attitude is more important than actions. Your family may not have told you: some of you are hard to be around. A bad attitude overshadows good actions.

8) Integrity eclipse image. Today we highlight image. But it’s what you’re doing behind the scenes that matters.

9) God’s way is better than my way.

10) Christlikeness begins and ends with humility.

Life in Christ is tough.  If your life in Christ is not tough…then is your life really like Christ’s?  Just read the Bible for proof about that statement.

Geez…this blog is meant to be an inspirational challenge.  I know it will be inspiring to those who are going through a crushing.  I’m not sure how the rest will take this all.   So…I’ll end with this…Life in Christ is the only Hope of the world.  It is powerful, conquering and inspiring.  If you think this blog post has been depressing…then you have not been through a crushing and you have misunderstood me.  This blog is supposed to be inspiring and motivating.  When I read it…I am simply reminded that I can do all things through Jesus Christ who strengthens me!  Maybe this last passage below will remind you of  how much you are loved and how badly you should leave room for your crushing.

For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Romans 8:38 

You can do all things through Christ who gives you strength.

Leave room for your crushing.


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