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Posts tagged with: Holy Spirit

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.

 


Do you have “American-Christian Elephantitis?”

Those of you who know me, know that my wife and I have started a Christian 501c3 organization called, “ReturnHope International.” 

Anyway….I say that to say…

Some of ReturnHope’s work is being done in Africa.  I have a deep love for the people of Africa.  Specifically the people of Uganda.  When I was in Uganda recently, I spoke with a couple locals who were asking me about what American’s think of Ugandans…or Africans, in General.

One of the Ugandan people got more specific with me.  This person told me they received a letter from an American describing how two Christians were fighting in America over work that needed to be done in Africa.  The letter was warning the Africans to stay out of the conflict to avoid getting hurt.

They told me that the writer of the letter used an African Proverb to try to make a point to them.   “What African Proverb was used,” I asked.  They responded by quoting the proverb…

“WHEN TWO ELEPHANTS ARE FIGHTING, IT IS THE GRASS THAT GETS TRAMPLED.”

Elephants-Fighting

The African told me that the letter was warning them about how they are the only ones who would get trampled by these fighting Americans and they needed to make sure they stayed out of the way of the Elephants that were fighting.  Then the African asked me a question, with obvious hurt and frustration on his face…

“Do American’s think themselves as elephants, and Africans as grass?”

I very sincerely replied, “I can only speak for myself…I cannot begin to tell you what the writer of that letter thinks, but I am deeply sorry if you have been hurt by this person’s letter.  It does seem the writer believes themselves to be an Elephant….and you Africans as the grass, that gets hurt when they fight.”   I then told them that most American’s do not think this way.

I also said,  “since we are talking about proverbs, have you heard the proverb… “One bad apple can ruin the whole barrel.” Then I said, “let me just say that very few Americans would actually think in such an arrogant and ungodly way…please do not let this one American, who wrote the letter, ruin it for the rest of us Americans.”

I also asked the recipient of the letter, to give the writer of the letter, the benefit of the doubt by hoping the writer just displayed their own ignorance by trying to use an African proverb in an attempt to sound smarter than they actually are.

What I thought was just a friendly conversation between some people getting to know each other, was actually…I believe…the voice of God warning me and other American Christians about how we treat the very people we serve…”in the name of Jesus.”

If you are a Christian who is also American…and you do good work for the less fortunate, locally and/or in foreign places…I have some questions for you.

1.  Do you think you are actually taking God to the foreigner?  If you do…you are ignorant of the real God and ignorant of how active and alive He is all around the world…and how patient God is with your ignorance.   God is at work everywhere…and we as followers of Jesus must choose to obey His commands to serve the less fortunate….but…God is already there and working…we aren’t so special that we are actually taking God to them.

2.  Do you think you are an Elephant and the less fortunate are just Grass?  The American writer of the letter that used this African proverb, is all the evidence the Africans needed to think all American’s are arrogant.  The damage has been done and it will take many-many Americans going to Africa with humble attitudes and humble servants hearts to prove, through our actions, that 99.9% of Americans do not think that Africans are grass under our American elephant feet.  Good Grief!  I am so frustrated by this letter that was written and caused serious mental damage.

Only God is THE Elephant…the rest of us are but grass!

3.  With the work you do in 3rd world countries or to the less fortunate in the USA…are you actually serving the recipient to a point where they are growing into self sufficiency(Being ‘grass’ with them)…or are you causing them to become dependent upon your giving?   Think long and hard on this one…How many years have well intentioned Christians been in Africa trying to do good, yet African self sufficiency is no closer to a reality?  Think of it this way… If you disappeared from the foreign fields you have been doing good in…would the people of that foreign field be able to succeed without you and your gifts / aid?  Is the good you are doing for the least of these, leading them into working towards self sufficiency, or toward dependency on you?

In Conclusion…

Never forget what Jesus said as He was talking about His 2nd return…

“The Grass shall be the Elephant and the Elephant shall be the grass.”

Or…more biblically correct…

The last shall be first!  The first shall be last! (Its all about motive/attitude) Hey letter writer…Do you still think you are an elephant and the Africans are just grass?

One last sentence in my rant towards the bully elephant’…

Jesus…is THE Elephant.  When He came to earth and incarnated Himself from an Elephant to just a piece of grass…He washed our feet.  He let us abuse Him.  He served us.  He let us kill Him.  “For even the Son of Man came not to be an elephant but to be grass, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” Please read Mark 10:45 for the exact version. 

The Bull Elephant served the grass that in return mowed Him down.

Oh writer of this letter to the Africans…  For God’s sake…for Africa’s sake…for your very own eternal destination’s sake…Do NOT think any longer that you are an Elephant and that Africans are but grass…you owe the Africans an apology.  You owe it to Americans to redeem our reputation. 

To all servants of the most High God…may the recipients of our service see our love and humility and may we demonstrate our equality amongst them.

If you still think you are an Elephant…you have your animals confused…you are mistaking an elephant for a donkey.

“If my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.”  2 Chronicles 7:14

For the Record…..

 I, Trent A. Renner, am a piece of grass.


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!

 

 

 


Empty Barrels make the most noise.

A drum is hollow and that is why it makes so much noise when it encounters “pressure.”  (A drummer with drumsticks is a definite pressure.)   The opposite, is a barrel that is full.  You can beat on it, kick it, yell at it and it just doesn’t make much noise.  A full barrel is not easy to move.

Empty barrels make the most noise.

How would you define an empty barrel?  I think, that a barrel is only defined by what’s inside it.

An empty barrel is…well…nothing but empty.  Uninspiring.  But….

Think of a barrel full of wine.  A barrel full of oil.  A barrel full of whiskey.  Pork barrels.  A barrel full of fun. A barrel with a rodeo clown in it! A barrel full of monkeys! man-wearing-barrel-and-suspenders-after-divorce1When I think of those kind of barrels…Voila!…I get imagery, identity and inspiration.

So…a barrel is best defined by what is inside of it!  This leads me to ask…  What defines you?  Where do you get your identity?  WHERE DO YOU GET YOUR FILL?  What are you full of?

So…let’s use the clown in the barrel illustration and just imagine that everyone of us is a clown and we all have our own barrels we carry around.  Please understand, that we can switch barrels any day or every day.  My posting this is not about me thinking I’m the God barrel and others are not.  My posting this is for us all to measure only ourselves in the presence of God and work on being the God filled barrel as described below.  The start of measuring where we are is understanding what the different types are.

What fills your barrel?

Self Filled Barrel…these types are just that…full of themselves.  Always thinking about themselves.  These types take way more selfie photos and post them on facebook, instagram, vine, twitter and other barrel filling venues, way more often than what is normal.  Part of being a healthy person is having a healthy self-love, but that is not what I’m talking about when I mention barrels full of self.  This barrel is a very selfish person and  is very lonely because they love themselves the most.  When this Barrel gets sick of themselves, it will then desire to be filled with material goods, better make-up, over the top body augmentations, that outrageously attention grabbing new automobile, money, jobs, and anything that tastes good to the self…or makes self look better. It’s all very self-ish.

Other’s Filled Barrel…Another type is the kind that runs around always needing others to fill their barrels.  This barrel thinks very lowly of themselves..but you can’t notice that fact very easily. This type seems happy and bright.  This type is very good at talking and can be known as a people person.  But, if you pay attention, you will begin to see a pattern.  This type politely begs for attention, by giving attention, hungers for recognition as they give recognition, yet they are empty.  This type has learned how to get their barrel filled by others.   They approach others and compliment others…WAY too often… and tell others that they are doing wonderful…even when they are not doing wonderful, they will tell you that you look great even when you put on clearly mismatched clothing and look ridiculous. They over compliment, coddle,  innocently and complimentarily lie to you…regularly…and then sit patiently in front of you hoping that you will fill up their barrel with your compliments in return.   This type of barrel has a lot of leaks in it, and thus has to continue the over-giving and false complimenting with lots of laughter, fun, and starvation driven attention.  In our society today, this type is considered okay because we think we are helping each other by falsely complimenting each other.  Our society has catered to this being natural.  We start it with our children.  Giving them trophy’s when they should have gone home empty handed.  We tell them they are winners when…in that race…they were the loser.  Education systems are talking about not using red ink anymore, it seems to harsh on our wonderful children.  And then they grow up…and have to face loss, no trophies, and regular dissapointment…and we wonder why depression and psychotic medicines can’t stay stocked in our pharmacies.  OTHER’S FILLED BARRELS!

God Filled Barrel.  This barrel is the type of person who has figured out that their definition is found in only one being.  God. Jesus. Holy Spirit.  Which ever title you prefer of those three, or all three…this barrel is FULL.  This barrel understands that they are not better than anybody else but simply have chosen a life of fullness and gratitude.  This barrel can get angry and express that anger, but you are a light…I like the thought of being a barrel full of light!  This barrel is lot like Jesus, because their barrel is full of Him…He is light.  This barrel understands their imperfections to be only unique traits that their creator bestowed upon them and them only!  This barrel knows it can share what is inside of it…because there is a lifetime guarantee of free refills.  This barrel doesn’t get caught up in scarcity…a panic and fear of not enough to go around…so they just keep giving.  This barrel can be kicked, burnt, cut, or broken and yet maintain its confidence because it knows its creator is the great barrel builder, healer and fulfiller!  The God filled barrel has absorbed into its very fibrous container the Scripture passages of John 8:31-32 where Jesus says, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you FREE.”

and

Colossians 3:1-4,  “Since you have been raised to new life with Christ, set your sights on the realities of heaven, where Christ sits in the place of honor at God’s right hand. Think about the things of heaven, not the things of earth. For you died to this life, and your real life is hidden with Christ in God. And when Christ, who is your life, is revealed to the whole world, you will share in all his glory.Which one are you?”  

The two passages above scream one phrase to me.  “A God filled barrel is always full!”

SO…if I’m not a God Filled Barrel that’s always full…then what must I do to become one?…Please Note…this is not an easy task.  Don’t be decieved into thinking that you can say a prayer and instantly become a God filled Barrel.  Becoming a God filled barrel usually takes a lot of repair.  Most repairs are noisy, painful and full of grinding, sharpening, pressure, realignment…and it’s usually a messy fix.  To become a God Filled Barrel is a life long commitment to stick to it, even when it doesn’t feel good!  So…here’s how to begin the process…

If you are the self-filled barrel, then you must humble yourself and recognize that you can’t keep it up.  You can’t fulfill yourself  the rest of your life.  You must admit that you aren’t that good and you must take on the passages of Scripture that communicate this truth to you… “Consider other’s better than yourself.”  You must work on becoming like Jesus who washed the feet of even His betrayer.  HE IS KING, yet took on the form of a humble servant.  You must transform your barrel to only be filled with who God says you are!  God loves you so much…that even while you were a full blown selfie…selfish bigot, nasty self worshipper…God still chose to kill His one and only Son…so that He wouldn’t have to kill you to pay for your sins.  That is love!  That is identity!  That is a God Filled Barrel!  For a self-filled barrel to become a God filled barrel, I’m not asking you to think less of yourself…I’m asking to stop thinking of yourself, period. 

If you are an Other’s Filled Barrel.  You have got to admit people have become your gods.  You worship the favor of mankind.  Oh…this will be hard for you to admit if you are an other’s filled barrel.  You have been so trained that your idol worship is actually the love of God for other people.  You come across as a people person who really loves other people…and you do love other people, but if you are an other’s filled barrel, what you love more than other people and more than God is when people “love” you back!  This is idol worship and you must stop it.  This will be hard for you, because you have more than likely surrounded yourself with other’s just like you.  You must admit that the friends you have in life…the one’s you really like…well…you only like them because they do for you what you do for them.  “Birds of a feather…flock together!”  If you are an other’s filled barrel, then, when you begin to change this about yourself…you are going to find out who your true friends are.  What happens to an other’s filled barrel type, when they quit doing their false worship of others?  They find themselves standing by themself, because the other… Other’s filled Barrels…went after others who will fill them up because you stopped being their God for them and stopped filling them up.  If you are an Other’s filled Barrel, then you must only let Jesus Christ fill you up.  Oh…it will always feel good to get compliments…but you will notice it someday when you truly become a God filled Barrel…because when the compliments come from people…you notice them…but you won’t need them to make you full!

If you are God Filled Barrel…then just be you.  Keep drawing near to the ever giving, all consuming, all inspiring, King of Kings, who never quits, never leaves, never disappoints and always keeps His fulfilling promises….AND YOU WILL NEVER BE EMPTY!  You will be able to look death in the face and with a crinkle in your nose and a squint in your eyes say, “Where O death is your victory…Where O death is your sting!”  You are living for another life, another earth, another Kingdom…in fact you are bringing that Kingdom to this earth…to this life and to others!barrel of light

The most critical thing about which barrel you are…it’s your choice.  You don’t have to be stuck in any one of the barrels if you don’t want to be.

You are made to be a barrel full of God…a barrel of light!

 

 

 

 

 

 


What is the Renner Family up to now? :)

2013-08-10 05.16.48In 1997 my wife and I started a brand new Church, named Parkway Christian Church, in Surprise Arizona with 20 strangers. In January of 2010 (13 years later), I was prompted by God to give Parkway to Christ’s Church of the Valley (CCV) so we could have a stronger impact for Christ together, whether it benefited me or not.  The rest of this post is a description written from the perspective of 20/20 hindsight at how God has prompted me and used others to bring everything together right up to this point.

I look back at our time at Parkway and I remember doing a sermon series where we studied every teaching and command of Jesus in Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. It was the most amazing sermon series I have ever done.  It changed me.  It haunted me. I didn’t fully understand all that God was prompting me throughout this series, but I sensed God telling me to do something more by serving the less fortunate around the world with with my time and other resources.  Within a year of that series starting, I created a new 3 year church vision for Parkway;  “We as Parkway love people so much that we will serve anyone in our line of sight who is hungry, lonely, thirsty, or has a shattered life…AND…we will send 50% of our Church population to all 7 continents to do the same!”

The combination of the Teachings and Commands of Jesus, and that missional statement made it clear that my time with what was known as Parkway was coming to a close and big change was coming.  Parkway became Christ’s Church of the Valley and I became a team preacher that rotated preaching with Don Wilson, CCV’s lead pastor.

In August of 2011, while on staff at CCV, I sensed the prompting of God again and again.  One day at  the Willow Creek Leadership summit conference, Bill Hybels asked all in attendance to write on a broken clay shard, a phrase that described what my life calling for God is.  I wrote on the shard, “Whatever YOU want. I will not back off. I will not hold anything back from YOU.” WHATEVER YOU WANT PIC
That sentence, unleashed three years of a head-spinning roller coaster ride for me and my family. The Bible says that God will never tempt us, but it is clear that God will refine us and try us while always being there with us. Trials and Refining are never easy, but the return on the faithful person being tried and refined is greater purity and personal closeness with the Lord. Just like gold being refined, a sword being sharpened or a diamond being cut and polished.

So, with the clay shard vow, God prompted me to walk away from the securities of being on the leadership team and preaching in a church of 21,000 people…into the unknown. I didn’t hold back and I submitted my resignation.

At this point in time, I had been in professional ministry for 20 years and 15 of them were as a Lead Pastor.  It’s what I was good at. It made sense to me to simply find another Church to Lead.   God was telling me different.  I ignored Him. I wrestled with Him.  I kept thinking there is no way that God would prompt such a thing, I had to be hearing God wrong.

After a year of refusing to listen to God about all this, God gave me what I was demanding. He let me lead a church whose leadership was so full of legalism and behavior modification religion, that after seven eternally long and grueling weeks I had to resign.  What had I done? I had just moved my family of six across the USA to be a successful Pastor again in a church that was begging for leadership to bring the change that a majority of the people wanted for this Church.  God used a powerful and dysfunctional few in this church to show me that I did not want to get stuck behind four walls of a Church building and argue with Christians about their personal preferences.  God used these dysfunctional situations to try to get me to listen better to Him.  Proverbs 16:9 says, “The mind of man paves the way, but the Lord directs his steps.” After my experience with this church, I want to add to that Scripture passage, “and sometimes has to use a 2×4!”

I resigned from the Church in Florida after 7 weeks and lived off my emergency funds until I could determine what I was supposed to be doing. Nothing was making sense.  At this point in time I began to hear, via Facebook and personal meetings,  from many people who had been injured in the previous church with all its legalism.  It made sense to start PulsePoint Christian Church and try to be used by God to breath new Church life into these great but wounded people and reach others at the same time.  We began to meet in parks and finally we secured the Oviedo High School auditorium and we became a very fast growing church. After 7 months we we had about 170 in attendance and yet I  was being prompted by God that I was not doing what He wanted me to be doing, but only doing what I knew I could do.

This is when I met a pastor named Mitch in FL. Mitch leads River Run Christian Church just down the road from the High School where PulsePoint was meeting for Sunday morning worship.  God used Mitch to keep prompting me about what I needed to be doing…God was prompting me to give PulsePoint to River Run, just like I gave Parkway to CCV. God has called everyone of us to be like His Son Jesus and be willing to give, asking nothing in return. I vowed to God that I would hold nothing back from Him and I meant it. I won’t share all the details, but the merge began and at the very same time that merge was coming together, I received a call from Hope4Kids International in Phoenix AZ. I had traveled with them to Africa a couple of times and loved the work of this ministry. The founder of this ministry is a friend of mine.  Looking back, this phone call was really just God repeating what He had been telling me from the beginning.  God used Tom Eggum to bring me back into the Valley of the Sun, Phoenix AZ to be the Vice President and Executive Director for Hope4Kids International.   I was really pumped about this opportunity.  All of God’s promptings and this job offer came together.  All the years of sacrifice and being willing to hold nothing back from God were now having what seemed to be a great return.  It finally was making sense.

After only 5 days from the job offer by phone, my kids were on a plane back to Phoenix to start school and Kelli and I began to pack our rental house and prepare for the 36 hour drive. I announced it to our Church on that next Sunday and we packed and moved in days. The people of PulsePoint have been dispersed to a couple of Church plants and to River Run. I am in contact with some of them regularly and I love seeing them be pushed and challenged by the will of God too. I used to preach regularly this phrase, “Shift Happens.” I believe God moves fast and you and I must try to keep up by being swift and nimble as well. Don’t put your faith in a pastor or a specific Church because Shift Happens. The only one who doesn’t shift is Jesus Christ for He is the same always.

I began my new ministry and life at Hope4Kids. My whole family was excited and curious about our new future. I was given the challenge to lead a staff. I was given the challenge to develop the organization’s budget. I was to create an Ambassador program, and lead the staff meetings, and speak at churches to raise money for the good work we were doing. And so I did.  After just 90 days, I was confronted by my friend and boss, Tom Eggum, and for the first time in my life, I was fired. I had hoped to do what this organization does for the rest of my life. I was told my DNA was all wrong and that I was leading the organization in a direction that Tom and the staff did not want to go. I was deeply confused, but accepted it as God’s continued refining as I had promised God that I would hold nothing back. So, I packed up my office went home and shared the news with my wife and four kids and sat stunned and numb. From my perspective I have done everything the Lord had asked of me. I had given so much away over the past couple of years and the only return I kept getting was a beating, tossed out, and wondering how I was going to be able to provide for my family. I battled the temptation to be deeply angry at God and demand a return on my sacrifice. I was tempted to do the very thing that Jesus didn’t do.

A pastor friend , challenged me to handle these new temptations in a holy manner. I listened. I’m grateful. I didn’t follow through with my temptation to demand angrily from God. But I sure had some hope in what might be some kind of return on my investment. By the way, it wasn’t just my investment. I fully acknowledge It was also the investment of pain and shift on Kelli, Madison, Riley, Garrett and Mia. They had a lot of skin in  this game too. I am so grateful for them and their patience and trust in me as their husband and dad…and more importantly their trust in Jesus Christ.

Kelli and I didn’t know what to do. No income, no job offers, nothing. This story is just a continual stripping and refining. When does it end? When do I get a return from the pain of faithfulness to hold nothing back. I had no option and desperately applied for Unemployment insurance which would provide food stamps and maybe some small income that would allow my family to stay afloat, that was even denied. I began to job hunt for anything that would allow me to pay the bills and feed my family.

Eight days after being fired by Hope4Kids International, I received a call from a guy with a pretty lofty title, in which he doesn’t even like, but it is the title of Dr. Rev John Mitch King. He goes by Mitch. He is the founder of an international mission called “Omega Alpha International.” Mitch, through this ministry, has personally been used by God to harvest somewhere around a half a million souls for the Kingdom of Heaven through preaching crusades and doing the work of Christ, serving the least of these in many countries. Mitch is now in his 70’s. His daughter was a committed member at Parkway Christian Church. Mitch was asking me to come work for him until he was ready to give the Org to my leadership. I was humbled by the opportunity, but found myself living in my own version of the movie Groundhog Day. This would be my FOURTH recent opportunity to work under someone who founded “their” ministry. Founders are amazing people…but one thing a majority of them have is what’s professionally called, “Founder’s Syndrome.”  Google it!  I kindly stopped Mitch in his offer and explained my past four experiences and told him I would not repeat another experience like those again. I then asked Mitch to give his ministry work to me and to ask nothing in return just like I did with Parkway Church and PulsePoint Church. He prayed about it and the next day he said yes. I tested his release by saying the first thing I would do is change the name of the ministry. I tested him more by telling him I am going to change the corporation 501c3 so we can start with a fresh beginning, fresh financial bookkeeping, etc. Mitch’s reply was, “Okay…This ministry has never been mine and I ask that you lead this ministry into the future and acknowledge that it all belongs to God.” He said, “please keep it about seeking and saving the lost around the world…that’s all I ask.”

I am inspired by this Rev. Dr. John Mitch King. John Mitch KingBy the way, Mitch also served in the United States Air Force for 20 years. The song by Salt N Pepa is coming to my head, “What a man, what a man, what a mighty good man!” If I sang those lyrics to Mitch…he would smile, but he would also shake his head and say…”I’m only serving the Lord…Jesus is the good in me.” Mitch asks nothing in return, but only returns the hope that was given to him through the love of God proven through the sacrifice of Jesus. I’m inspired and touched by this man’s life. I am grateful to have been chosen to carry the torch he carried for Jesus. I will carry it diligently and only for the Lord. I vow to never think that this ministry is mine. It’s all Jesus’s and I must hold on to it all lightly.

So…here we are!  The Renner Family…Wondering if God is turning the refining heat off for a time so that we may all cool off and see if we are better, purer, holier, and grateful for it all. I have been given the leadership baton for this ministry. Kelli and I, vow to serve only Jesus through this ministry. I pray that it accomplishes only what Jesus wants it to accomplish.

As I have been trying to return hope to people, due to the fact that Jesus gave hope to me, I found a man in Mitch, who is willing to give his life’s work and who only wants to return hope to me as Jesus gave hope to him. I found a man who truly proved through his action that nothing is his and everything can only be returned to the Lord. The immediate future might be tougher than the past three years, but I am hopeful. I fully understand that nothing comes easy. I desire to honor the Lord and continue the legacy that Mitch started through this international ministry.

It would make sense that Jesus gave hope to Mitch and Mitch returned hope to many many people throughout his leadership of Omega Alpha International. As Mitch has given me the leadership baton, he gave me his blessing to lead this ministry in the direction that Jesus is asking me to lead it. There are no strings attached.  I sense God prompting me, Kelli, Madison, Riley, Garrett, Mia, and YOU…to spend the rest of our lives returning hope to as many people around the world.  True hope is only in Jesus Christ as Lord of life. True hope is restored through more than just clean water, or child sponsorship, or traveling to Africa to serve Africans…True hope is found only in a strong relationship with Jesus Christ that overflows into the relationship with yourself, others, and the material things that God has asked us to manage.

Thus, I believe God is asking me to call this new ministry venture in which He has given my family….ReturnHope International.
ReturnHope Logo

Or…just for fun…what’s your honest opinion about this idea for a logo and branding campaign??

Hope Hog Front Hope Hog Tshirt back copy

boomerang t shirt boomerang back

The logos and ideas above are not our official logos, but its the beginning of some creative brainstorming we have started. I am asking some people to create a branding theme and design an edgy and youthful feel for ReturnHope that will catch attention on T-shirts, billboards, and social media.  Got a rockin idea?  Send it to me…who knows maybe you will have branded ReturnHope.com’s future!   My email address is trentrenner@me.com   I have reserved the name returnhope.com and returnhope.org and will be in process of building a website as our communication center.  My wife and I are in process of creating a fresh vision and new beginning for a ministry that has been changing lives for Jesus for the past 30 or 40 years. The only obstacles I face in this new venture are obstacles of practicality and of the devil. We are working hard and fast on adapting our new 501c3 documents from the organization’s old documents. Please be patient as we wait to hear from the State of Arizona and the IRS about our current paperwork and forward movement. Kelli and I pray that this great ministry might benefit from your personal investment.  I will have to raise my own salary for the year 2014…which is always a challenge, and I ask that you will pray about your ability to support this ministry.  I would be grateful.  We pray you might consider giving to help lay the administrative foundation so that hundreds of thousands more people can discover the Hope found only in Jesus Christ. Kelli and I pray that you would be a part of the start up of this new vision being built upon Omega Alpha’s foundation through Mitch’s leadership. Mitch is going to introduce me to his contacts and networks around the world. (I will post instructions soon about your ability to give year end gifts and how.) Please stay tuned and prepared for that news.

If you know me, my leadership decisions will be devoted to us all working together to ReturnHope around the world in the name of Jesus. We will teach the Good News of Jesus Christ in the areas He commanded of us…to the ends of the earth. We will focus hard on the specifics Jesus talks about when He referenced true religion. Orphans, Widows, Prisoners, Hungry, Thirsty, Naked, the Least of These. Those things are bully’s that steal Hope. You and I have been chosen to be the Body of our God, Jesus Christ, and to ReturnHope through Him across our streets and across our seas…to the ends of the earth! We will have a simple strategy for this ministry based off of 2 words. RESTORE, RETURN! It will all be Christ centered. If we are going to do this together…let’s do it right and let’s do it dynamic.

I can’t predict the future. I gave up trying to do that awhile back. I don’t know what waits around the next corner. I know I’ll make mistakes, but it won’t be the kind that offend God. I do know I have a lot of learning to do in this International adventure we are beginning together. I’m guessing you do to. I am asking you to journey with me, and learn with me and my family in this ministry to the least of these around the world.

Stay tuned for more information very soon!

I love you and I’d do anything for you…I have received so much hope from you and from the Lord. I know you have received love from me. Let’s join together and ReturnHope to others in the name of Jesus Christ!