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Posts tagged with: Holy Spirit

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!


20/20 Hind-sight about Jesus…

Isaiah 28:16 says,
“Therefore, this is what the Sovereign Lord says:
“Look! I am placing a foundation stone in Jerusalem,
a firm and tested stone.
It is a precious cornerstone that is safe to build on.
Whoever believes need never be shaken.” (NLT)

The USA was created nearly 250 years ago.
The Book of Isaiah was written around 700 years before the birth of Jesus…totaling 2700 years ago.

Can you imagine if you were someone reading the book of Isaiah..let’s say…600 years before Jesus was born? You wouldn’t have known how much time would pass before the coming Messiah would actually arrive. Every day you would wonder if today was the day for the Messiah to be born. Some, maybe didn’t even know what this “Cornerstone” would actually be. I imagine there was great awe and wonder, maybe even fear being talked about, as the people prior to Jesus’s birth, studied and contemplated who or what this cornerstone was all about.

I’ll bet it was very frustrating for the people of that day. Wouldn’t you strive, with all your effort, to determine who or what this cornerstone was, so that if you believed in it, you would never be shaken, as the verse in Isaiah says? It would be all consuming. I would want that cornerstone more than anything. Not knowing what it was would have sent me on a wild game of hide and seek as I tried to discover what this “Cornerstone” was, so I could believe in it, so I would never be shaken!

Today…we are very fortunate…

We don’t have to be frustrated like the people who lived BC. We can look back with 20/20 hindsight and know WHO the cornerstone is. The Apostle Paul, who in the early part of his life hated Jesus and His followers, wrote the following Bible verse, “Together, we are his house, built on the foundation of the apostles and the prophets. And the cornerstone is Christ Jesus himself.”

I wonder if Paul shook his head in awe and wonder as he wrote that sentence? One day He hated Jesus…the next He was admitting Jesus is the Cornerstone and Lord of all!

Paul met Jesus personally. Paul used to imprison and oversee the killing of people who dared say that Jesus was the cornerstone referred to in Isaiah. Now, Paul is the writer of more than 1/2 of the New Testament that professes that Jesus IS the cornerstone. It’s crazy what happens when someone meets Jesus personally!

You and I do not have to be frustrated wondering where hope is found. We do not have to be nervous wondering what we must do to have salvation. We do not have to argue about who is the Cornerstone that everything else is built on or stumbles on. We do not have to fight to prove that Jesus is the cornerstone. He IS the Cornerstone. He rose from the dead to prove how immovable that cornerstone…He…really is.

If you are reading this, you and I have such an advantage over the faithful followers of God that lived BC. We can look with 20/20 hindsight to know who Jesus is and what He has done. We have the new set of Scriptures called the New Testament to witness to who that Cornerstone is. We have the 39 books of the Old Testament to compare to the 27 books of the New Testament to do a full study of who the Messiah is and what we must do to make Him our Lord and Savior and King. You and I can have complete confidence in the fact that Jesus is The Way, The Truth and The Life! He said so Himself.

That’s a good thing! That’s a good book! That’s Good News! That’s the Holy Scriptures, pointing us to a holy God and asking us to live Holy Lives. The Apostles and many others are so convinced that Jesus is the Cornerstone, that they were willing to have horrible things happen to them instead of denouncing Jesus. If you want to read about some of these people, read Hebrews chapter 11.

Jesus is the Messiah. Jesus is the Cornerstone. A sentence was written by the great Prophet Isaiah 2700 years ago, telling us that we can live unshaken lives if we build on the foundational cornerstone of Jesus Christ Himself! He is a firm and tested stone. He is immovable, steadfast, and undefeated! He is the THE Champion of the Faith. He is the Great Physician. He is the Comforter. He is the full payment for your sins. He is the Rock! He cannot be shaken! Anything that comes against Him will not succeed!

Knowing this….check out the following passage…written by King David approximately 2900 years before Jesus came. Talk about faith. Read the hope and strength that King David had in God nearly 3000 years before the birth of the Cornerstone. If David can have this kind of faith and strength prior to the birth of Jesus…not knowing with 20/20 hindsight where His confidence should be…not knowing who the Messiah would be, then how much more faith and strength can we have knowing…with 20/20 hindsight… that Jesus IS the cornerstone?

1 I wait quietly before God,
for my victory comes from him.
2 He alone is my rock and my salvation,
my fortress where I will never be shaken. Psalms 62:1-2 (NLT)

Jesus is the Rock…
You are Solid as long as you stand on The Rock.
Rock on!

Trent


Hydrate — Winning from the inside 36 (Matthew 7:7-11) Ask, Seek, Knock

7 “Keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you. 8 For everyone who asks, receives. Everyone who seeks, finds. And to everyone who knocks, the door will be opened. 9 “You parents—if your children ask for a loaf of bread, do you give them a stone instead? 10 Or if they ask for a fish, do you give them a snake? Of course not! 11 So if you sinful people know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give good gifts to those who ask him.Matthew 7:7-11 NLT

This passage from Jesus has caused a lot of wonder in the minds and hearts of Bible readers. I think this teaching of Jesus’s has caused anger in the hearts and minds of those who have begged God for things, but the prayers seemed to go unanswered. If this teaching has caused frustration and wonder in your heart and mind, I hope the following thoughts will provide some answers and explanations. I cannot promise that you will still not be frustrated.

I want to first add a disclaimer. Anytime you and I ask, “Why?” to God…we are more than likely going to be left hanging. I think on rare occasions God provides the answer as to why something happened…but not until the person affected looks back with 20/20 hindsight.

So, it seems in this teaching of Jesus’s, that He is encouraging us to be persistent in our asking. In a Hydrate Devotion to come later, I will be writing in regards to the parable Jesus taught about a Persistent Widow. If you do not want to wait for that devotion, then I encourage you to go ahead and turn to Luke 18:1-8 and compare it to this teaching of Jesus’s.

It seems that persistence pays off. However, if persistence pays off, then why do Children in Africa starve to death everyday? Why does the little girl being abused each evening by her foster parent not get what she is begging for? Why did my family members daughter die of Cancer at 15? I imagine you and I could record a thousand more “why” questions if we worked at it. But I already mentioned that we shouldn’t be asking God why He does some things and doesn’t do other things.

Check out a couple other Bible verses about this subject matter. Hopefully after reading them, you might have a few more answers as to why some things you ask for don’t happen. First let’s look at James 4:2-3. “You do not have, because you do not ask God. 3 When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.”

Also:1 John 5:14
“This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us.”

These passages provide some answers that help us understand why we sometimes do not receive what we ask for. Wrong motives are a key reason. The other is that we are asking for something that is not in God’s will for us. I hate that reason. But, it’s a biblical reason and thus I accept it.

On a side note, when it comes to this topic, do you have a friend in your life that you can discuss these issues with? A friend who you trust enough to tell you whether or not they think your motives are pure. A friend you trust enough to tell you whether or not they think your asking is in accordance with God’s will. I have found that the only way I can have a friend in my life like that is to first be one. It’s always good to have a trusted friends opinion. If you are like me, then it’s easy to be blind to my own ambitions and will. Having a few trusted friends who are not afraid to share their opinion about you to you will always be beneficial in being self aware about your own motives.

There are no easy answers to this subject. My advice is to never stop asking what it is that you desire. There is no harm in asking. However, if you are desiring a 30 foot yacht to show up in your driveway or for the next 500 million dollar power ball winning ticket to be in your hands when they announce the numbers…you might do well to remember than nearly 20,000 children will die of starvation today around the world. It might help you to understand God’s will with more clarity when you recognize that today there will be about 154,000 deaths around the world. Now think about how many of those souls are going to Heaven or Hell. What, exactly is it, you are begging for God to give to you? With the stats I just shared, does your prayer still have a chance of being answered in the positive?

If you and I get up each day and pray a prayer that Jesus taught us to pray, it will include this line, “Your will be done on earth as it is in Heaven.” If you are praying regularly that God’s will be done, you will find your heart and mind being okay with God answering your prayer with the answer of, “No.”

Are you still looking for answers as to why some things you ask for do not happen? Here are some more…do not forget that the Bible teaches that God is not a control freak. Even though God can do anything He wants, the greatest attribute of God is the fact that He is not a control freak. God’s greatest ability is in the fact that He restrains Himself. I imagine it would be really easy for God to simply force every soul into Heaven for eternity. However, would that really be love? Love doesn’t control or force. Love lays down guidelines and then honors choice. Another reason as to why some wonderful things that should happen, but don’t, is because our world has been cursed by ourselves when we sinned. This curse, beginning with Adam and Eve, has brought about death, disease, injustice and heart ache. Is this God’s fault? Of course not, God is love and He gives freedom of choice. In our freedom of choice there are consequences.

Still looking for other reasons as to why you don’t get what you ask for?

Have you considered there is an enemy of God’s who is trying to steal you from God? The devil is alive and strong and is doing everything in his power to disrupt and destroy your heart, soul, mind and strength. If the devil can win in this venture then he wins in attaining your soul for eternity. The best way for the devil to disrupt your life is to get you to blame God for things that God shouldn’t be blamed for. If the devil can get you angry and bitter towards God, then the rest of the devil’s mission is easy.

If you still aren’t satisfied, as to why God doesn’t just answer your prayer requests in the manner you desire, I would like to share one more. When Jesus taught this subject material in person, He was immersed physically in the world of the Hebrew culture. In this Jewish society, prayer life was typically focused on forgiveness, justice, repentance, soul searching, and self improvement in behavior. It is rare to read old prayers from centuries ago where the subject of the prayer was on material goods, riches or other self pleasing desires. Might it be, when Jesus teaches on this subject material of keep on asking that He wasn’t talking about physical and material goods at all? Might is be, that Jesus is suggesting that you can answer many of your own prayers? How? If your prayers are more like the kind of prayers that took place in Jesus’s time, then your prayer focus would be continually asking God to help you be more like Him. If this is the case, then if you continually prayed to be more kind to others, it will seem your continual focus on being kind will actually answer your prayer and you will find yourself practicing kindness. I like to say, you will become what you are becoming right now. If you spend the next week, continually asking God to give you more patience with one of your children…might it be that your continual focus on patience through prayer, will cause you to become more patient? Nowhere in this teaching of Jesus’s does He say, ask and God your Father will wave His magic wand and give you what you ask for. I think Jesus knows that you and I will become what we focus on. Prayer is focus! Many prayers we pray, if our motives are right and we are praying for things that really matter, then many of our prayers/focus can be answered simply because we are focusing on them.

Again, many of our prayers we pray are just not in the will of God. God isn’t interested in your comfort as much as He is interested in your character! But I sense that some of you are reading this and still not satisfied as to why your loved one passed away from a nasty disease when you begged God persistently to heal them. Well, I answer that by asking, was your loved one a believer? If you answered yes, then I believe that God did heal your loved one. Death for a believer is to leave this earth and join the Father in eternity. That is the ultimate form of healing. The prayer may have not been answered exactly like you wanted, but the person was healed and you will see them again, if you too are a follower of Jesus.

I’m sure there are other reasons I could come up with, but my time is up. I would love to hear from you in regards to other things you can think of as to why some of our prayers seems to not get answered.

I would like to close with this twist and challenge.

How many prayers are being prayed by desperate people right now that you can actually answer? Can you answer the prayers of a hungry person? Can you answer the prayers of the jobless person? Can you answer the prayers of someone praying for a friend to come into their life? etc. etc.
How different would your life be, if you lived it in such a way that your actions were many people’s answered prayers?


Hydrate — Winning from the inside 35 (Matthew 7:6) Pearls, Pigs & Dogs

“Do not give dogs what is sacred; do not throw your pearls to pigs. If you do, they may trample them under their feet, and then turn and tear you to pieces.” Matthew 7:6

Jesus used some crazy illustrations. I imagine He fascinated His listener of His day. I’m fascinated by what He says just by reading it. This Bible passage has been used to teach many personal agendas. The passage is vague enough that I believe its okay to use this passage to make all kinds of conclusions. I intend, before this post is over, to make a specific point using this passage to teach about dogs and pigs in the form of people. Before I write my intended point, I think it would be healthy to take a quick shot at what Jesus literally meant when He taught this passage referenced.

In passages throughout the Bible about judging, we can read that we aren’t to judge unbelievers…and “dogs” was a slang term for unbelievers, in Jesus’s time. I think that Jesus is saying that we shouldn’t try to use Biblical ideas/principles/wisdom to try to help or teach unbelievers through their problems because they do not even believe the Bible to be true at this point in their life. I have tried this. I have tried to talk to unbelievers about their problems and have quoted parts of the Bible to them. I found it thrown back in my face. Almost with hostility. (Have you ever purchased a Bible and gave it as a gift to a non-believer? It has a tendency to turn the stomach of the recipient. It seems to backfire.) It is giving something sacred to a “dog” or a “pig”. When its all said and done, the sacred gets defiled and the pig just stays muddy. I think that’s what Jesus literally means. The solution is to love unbelievers as they are and when they start believing, they will open themselves up to the “pearls.” Its better to wait than to try to force feed the Bible to someone who isn’t ready for such a huge meal.

The rest of this blog is biased by what I want to write about. I want to write about “CHANGE” as the sacred pearls and the dog and/or pig could be anyone of us at any given time in our life.

I grew up on a large farm in the NW corner of Kansas. (Oakley KS) My parents still live there and it is now quite fun to take my wife and 4 children there to experience farm life. At the Renner Farm we have always had a dog and have had significant periods of time where we owned hundreds of pigs. I think that most people believe that dogs, overall, are very intelligent. I’m guessing that most people, however, are not aware that pigs are just as, if not more intelligent than a dog. I know for a fact that most people do not think that pigs are animals of cleanliness. No doubt, every pig likes its mud, but most people do not know that mud is a pigs air conditioner. A pig does not like to get dirty as much as it likes to stay cool. A pig can only sweat through its pores on its nose, which means it can’t sweat much to cool off. It has to use external resources to cool off. A water puddle and mud is to a pig, as a swimming pool is to a kid on a hot summer day! It cools.

There is a point to this lesson about dogs and pigs. Keep reading.

A dog, as it ages and gets accustomed to its comforts and patterns of habit, doesn’t like to change. “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks” A sweaty pig ends up in cardiac arrest due to heat stroke. “You are sweating like a pig” If a pig can’t sweat enough to cool itself off, then it just sits in the mud with very little movement in the heat of the moment.

Using this beastly illustration is my attempt to teach on change or the ability to change. Are there moments in my life where I act like a dog? Are there moments in my life where I act like a pig? My answer to those questions is yes. Sadly we all can act like dogs and pigs when it comes to needing change. The remaining post below is an all out assault on the human pigs and dogs that exist today. On rare occasions I personally need the following assault.

**WARNING** If you are offended by the remainder of this post you are most definitely resisting learning a new trick or you are willfully stuck in the mud. Or, to say it succinctly, you are a dog or you are a pig. Hopefully not both…I’m not sure what that would even look like.

How do we know if we are morphing into a dog or a pig?

Its simple…I am becoming a pig or a dog if I am resistant to change something that needs to change.

The piggly or doggedly things in us start to surface when someone else suggests the need for change in our lives. I have realized, through a couple of surprise life altering encounters in my recent past, that there are some underlying issues that cause us to not want to change. Show me where legitimate change is needed but is not happening and we will also find the underlying reasons as to why those who need to change are not. The number of things I am going to list is not complete. You may be able to think of some other reasons. If you can think of others, please share them with me in the comment section as I want to continue to be a learner and change agent.

Below are the main reasons why people don’t like to change. Or…below are the things that Jesus says causes Christians to become “Dogs” or “Pigs.”

SELF PRESERVATION – You want what you want! Its pretty simple really. A pig and a dog have a narrow focus. They think about their immediate desires and they pursue it. Anything that gets in the way of their selfish desire…well…have you ever experienced an attack from a dog? Have you ever listened to a hunter talk about being attacked by a wild pig? Encountering an angry dog or pig is terrifying. These creatures only think about their immediate desires and when those desires are being threatened, the fight or flight method kicks in. In the Church world, if pigs and/or dogs don’t get what they want, their fight or flight method kicks in. The fight method causes for long meetings and then extra special meetings after THE original meeting. The fight method in the church reveals who is really in charge. The fight method brings the worst out of people and reveals what is settled in their heart. If the fight method doesn’t surface, then that leaves the flight method. Its hard to say this, but it’s spoken in love. When pigs and/or dogs don’t get what they want in the Church and they don’t want to fight, then they just leave until they find what they desire. Churches that are dying, are really just hospices for the pigs and the dogs. I don’t mean that in a mean spirited way, I say it in total love and truth telling. If I refuse to change in areas that change is required, so success and fruitfulness can happen again, then bottom line, I am selfish. I am acting like a dog or a pig and I don’t deserve the pearls that God would have me manage. Self-Preservation is a sin that morphs christians into pigs and dogs.

EGO – “I like what I like and I think my ways are the best ways.” That sentence, which is a thought and very rarely spoken, is riddled with ego. Let me be clear about something. Ego in itself, is not a bad thing. Ego, in its simplest form, is confidence. As long as someone’s ego doesn’t rise higher than their ability or integrity, then that ego is a okay…it is confidence. Was it not ego for Jesus to say, “I am the way, the truth and the life”? The Apostle Paul had ego. David had ego. Goliath had ego. Jezebel had ego. The instant their ego level went higher than their integrity, they were disciplined by God. (Pride comes before the fall.) How they responded to their discipline determined if God allowed them to reestablish their influence or not. Repentance is huge! A dog and a pig are both confident that their way is the right way. The dog likes the tricks he is able to perform. The pig loves the cool comforts of its stagnant mud hole. The dog has learned to selfishly entertain itself with its old tricks and only gathers with other dogs and pigs that like those same old tricks. The pig has been laying in its mud hole for so long it doesn’t smell the stench anymore. Understanding this helps us realize how easy it is to become a dog and a pig. The dog and the pig see no need to change. Change would make them uncomfortable. To learn new tricks would require sacrifice as they worked through a new learning curve and would require admitting that their old trick used to be good. The pig would have to risk getting out of the mud, which takes a lot of effort, and could cause over heating issues as they stepped into the light. The dog’s ego prevents it from experiencing the thrill of new tricks. The pig’s ego prevents it from experiencing fresh mud holes down the road.


A typical pig or dog, at this point, would ask, “who gets to determine what tricks or mud holes are the right ones or not? They would ask, what makes you think your mud pit and your tricks are the right way? The answer to that question is, I don’t know if my idea is the right idea, but what I do know is that your old tricks and your mud pit are not effective anymore. I have found that pigs and dogs are confident of the way they think is right. Christians who are NOT pigs or dogs don’t know what method will work best, they only recognize when a way that used to be the right way no longer is. People who are not pigs or dogs want to leave the old tricks and want to get out of the stagnant mud hole. People who are not dogs or pigs are willing to try something new and they won’t have any of the reasons listed in this post that hold them back.
Pigs and Dogs, due to Self Preservation, are sub-conscienly driven by their own desires. This fact is an integrity problem due to selfishness. This integrity problem begins to rise. The person’s integrity now begins to drop under their ego and now they begin morphing into a pig or a dog. Unknowingly the dog and the pig enjoy being stuck in the mud of old tricks. Worst case scenario is that this reality is the beginning of a slow and safe death. If the worst case scenario doesn’t happen then the pig and the dog quietly slip into the village of average. Some might say that average isn’t so bad. I say that average is invisible. I would prefer death to invisibility. Eventually they end up in the same place. Ineffectiveness. Isn’t that the same as death?

CONTROL – When a person is committed to self preservation, which naturally leads to their integrity level to drop below their ego level, it will progress into the desire to control. Self Preservation + Low Integrity/High Ego = Control. Controlling people are dogs and pigs that will not receive the pearls that God would have them manage. People who refuse to change, keep everything under their control. A good illustration would be like a ship’s captain who refused to listen to the navigator as he warned him of a huge coral reef just ahead. The controlling captain, with all his/her ego and self preservation abounding…controls the ship right into death for all.
Pearls to swine…so tragic and devastating.

AFRAID – Change is suffocated by fearfulness on a daily basis. It is scary to get out of the comfortable smelly mud hole. The possibility of looking stupid as the dog tries a new trick is debilitating. People who refuse to change are really just people overwhelmed by fear. These reasons for not changing feed off of each other. Controlling people are in full tilt self preservation mode because they are afraid of something. Fear could be accused as being the king motivator as to why the pig and the dog even exist in church world. Fear of embarrassment. Fear of failure. Fear of losing a position of power. Share your thoughts with me about this in the comments section.

LAZINESS– Bottom line, its hard work to change. Lazy people hate change. We are busy, stressed, and don’t need more pressure. The pig and the dog lie to themselves, thinking that everything is fine and they don’t want to fix it, if it ain’t broke. The problem is that out of control ego and self preservation have blinded them to the fact that when something isn’t growing it is actually dying. When newcomers enter the old tricks mud pit, he/she notices the tricks are ineffective and the mud is stagnant. The new comer naturally, and even kindly, will mention the smell and age of the tricks, but the pig and the dog are overcome by fear which causes them to resort to control which causes them to fight or flight. Bottom line Pigs and Dogs struggle with being lazy. The pearl is hidden in the new trick and just outside the reach of a mud hole. Its hard work to get to get the new pearls. Jesus is warning us not to throw pearls to swine or give sacred things to dogs. Jesus knows the underlying reasons that are being listed in this post.
My hope in this post is revelation and awareness, not condemnation. I hope the pig and the dog, reading this, don’t see this as condemnation. I hope the pig and the dog realize they aren’t meant to be a pig or a dog, but a New Creation in Jesus Christ that is bent on completing the Great Commission of the Lord Jesus Christ.

How do you kill the Pig or the Dog within you?

Kill SELF PRESERVATION by promoting the progress and purpose of other people, more so than your own… Matthew 20:28, For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many.” Stop trying to make Church what you think it should be and make it such that people who are far from Jesus want to come and give their life to Him. Be willing to sacrifice your wants for others. Jesus did. As a Christian you can get what you want on your own outside the walls of church. You can fill your desire for your favorite worship music at home. You can fill your desire for your style of Bible study on your own study time. You can self feed. You are the Christian. Sacrifice your desires for those who are still searching for Christ. Paul said, I become all things to all people so that some may be saved! What a great attitude. Paul was not a pig or a dog.

Kill EGO by considering others as better than yourself. The following passage is adequate for Ego and Self Preservation. Philippians 2:3, Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves.

Kill CONTROL by giving it back to God. When you try to control anything, its like you getting in the face of God and screaming at Him, “I can do it better than you, God!” That’s eternally devastating. Romans 8:9 says, But you are not controlled by your sinful nature. You are controlled by the Spirit if you have the Spirit of God living in you.”
Kill FEARFULNESS by trusting God at His word. Don’t forget that God wants what is best for you! He doesn’t promise safety, but He promises eternal good to those who live for Him. 2 Timothy 1:7 says, “For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.”

Kill LAZINESS by knowing that you work for God, not yourself and certainly not for your selfish desires. Romans 12:11 says, Never be lazy, but work hard and serve the Lord enthusiastically.”

Change!
For God’s sake, be willing to change.
Gor the sake of the World, Change.
For the Church’s sake, keep changing the methods, but keep the message the same.

There are pearls/blessings/thrills/adventures/challenges/fruitfulness to be harvested!
Jesus says never give pearls to a dog or a pig.
Don’t be a dog.
Don’t be a pig.