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2034….next Christmas Full Moon

Christmas is a wrap. Did you notice we had a cool full moon for Christmas? WEB-VERSION-Christmas-Day-Full-Moon-PNG 

A full moon on Christmas won’t happen again for 19 more years…2034.  19 years!  

We might not be DOing the same things 19 years from now, we might not HAVE the same things 19 years from now…the only thing we can control is WHO we are 19 years from now.  

Who we are is more important that what we do or what we have. 

Will you aim to be devoted fully to the Lord until the next Christmas full moon?  We can’t control anything but our hearts and minds (and that’s a challenge in and of itself), so, in the next 19 years, let’s not get too caught up in business results and stressed goals…may the next 19 years be fruitful spiritually in our walk with The Creator of the full moon.  May we be STEADY people of God. The rest of things in life will happen, whether we want them to or not. I dare you to be crazy committed to Jesus until the next Christmas full moon.  Do that and then we’ll look back as rich-rich people and recalibrate for another long run.  Lord willing…I’ll be 64 then…how old will you be?  Here comes 2016…let’s get started!

Action steps

Read the Word of God daily.

Get a Bible reading plan and stick to it.

When daily reading…remember that the Bible is a Library, not just a book.  When reading in your library always ask these two questions, and then obey what you find out.  1.  God, what are you trying to say to me?  2. God, what do you want me to do about it?  

Ready…Set…Go! 🙂


Trent Renner’s 2015 Africa Trip (Post 3 of 4…Sunday)

As in the previous 2 posts…the WiFi is still bad in Africa…so please know that I will post pictures when I return to the USA.

My time clock is all messed up.  I keep waking up at 5 am.  But, it gives me time to type out my blog post of the experiences I am having on this short venture.  Thank you for taking the time to read it.  I pray it inspires you to grow deeper and more committed to Jesus and all that He asks us to do.

As I rolled off of the thin foam mattress bed with a mosquito net hanging over it…it was time to do one of the hardest things for me to do on this trip.  It causes me great pain.  I had to take a shower and the electricity has been off for several hours.  The water is freezing!  I’m sure the other rooms could hear the gasps and laughs as I tortured myself with a cold shower.  (Suffering for Jesus, right?! LOL)  But at least I smell good again!

I didn’t bring dress clothes for Church services on this trip.  I have a pair of jeans and a Joy Christian School polo shirt that I sometimes teach my Bible classes in.  Wow…the people of Africa love to dress up for Church.  The colors of the rainbow are nothing compared to the women of Africa in their cultural dresses.  The men get on their very best suits and ties that they have.  I am astonished every time I see the bright white dress shirts on the dark skinned men coming out of the mud hut homes.  I don’t know how they keep so clean…they are very impressive and handsome.

I think the Ugandan people are some of the most beautiful people on the planet.  They have the darkest skin I’ve seen and contrast their super white smiles and it is magical.  Another thing that I notice is how straight the teeth are of the natives here.  On a past trip, I was able to travel with a dentist and she told me that the African people from childhood eat a very hard food plan.  Corn, very tough meat, the children are constantly chewing on sugar cane.  The dentist told me, that hard foods force the teeth into alignment.  Seeing is believing on this one.  I’m jealous of how white and how straight the teeth are for the African man and woman.   Maybe I’ll get Sam to open his mouth and I’ll take a picture so you can witness it for yourself. (that will make him laugh his contagious and unique high pitched laugh!) Better yet, come with me someday and see for yourself! 

The drive to church was only 20 minutes.  Sam, our director has started a Church out of his school facility of mud and sticks.  There were about 100 people in attendance…the men, women and children all sitting/standing together.  The children are very patient through the very long service.  They sing passionate music.  this church group can’t afford instruments yet…but one can’t tell as the voices of the people are so passionate and many melodies are sung, stomping and dancing to the rhythm they create together.  An occasional African woman will send out her high pitched shrill of joy…“lalalalalalalalalalalalal!”

They asked me to speak.  I told them that the older I get, I’m becoming a man of fewer words.  They actually enjoy much preaching.  A typical Ugandan Church service can last for 4 or more hours.  I’m thankful today’s service was only 3 hours.  So…I didn’t preach for long.  I spoke for maybe 15 minutes.  I told the African people that after living in America I have determined that talk is cheap.  I asked them to witness how much I love them by my actions and how much Return Hope International is doing on behalf of Jesus to love and serve them.  Sam preached and then another pastor, named Reno preached as well.

 There are many elderly who haven’t learned english, so there is always a translator.  But, know, most Ugandans speak english.  They did more music, then preached some more.  People came forward to pray and confess their sins and many did.  I was privileged to lay my hands on those who came forward to pray for them and help them understand how much their repentance causes Jesus to forgive them.  There were times the service just broke out in prayer…the whole room lifting their voices to God in prayer.  A man in wheelchair who is struggling with his health came forward and asked the whole church to pray for him.  We laid hands on him and he cried as we prayed for him.  The children watched and engaged the whole time.  More music, more preaching.  3 hours of love, learning, celebration, and so much more.  I enjoyed it tremendously.  I was touched. 

After the service we stood around and shook hands and gave hugs.  I grabbed my camera and used the opportunity to take some pictures.  I will post them when I return to America on Wednesday.  I haven’t shaved in weeks and the children were fascinated with my beard and hairy arms.  It is so thrilling to be amongst a group of people who are so loving and kind and curious.  I am curious about them too.  We learned about each other, from each other. 

It was approaching 2:30 and my stomach was growling, I asked Sam if we could head back to the hotel to grab some lunch.  He agreed.  Lunch was rice and beans, a chicken leg boiled in some fantastic broth, a mix of g-nut paste…(kind of like purple peanut butter), a great banana type mix that has the texture of mashed potatoes and the African staple called porsha…a corn mix…also in the texture of mashed potatoes.  To drink I had an ice cold glass bottle of coca-cola!  Who doesn’t love that?! 🙂

The rest of the day was dealing with the necessary evil I call business meetings.  Nothing to really post about.  When Sam and the RHI Ugandan team live 10 hours worth of time zones away from me…even with the internet…it is a must that we have clarifying meetings.  We compared our account sheets, budgets, estimates.  Not fun…but vitally important.  I vow to use every dollar that you invest in Return Hope with deep integrity and transparency.  If you would like to know any details of the Return Hope budget, I will gladly share them with you.  That meeting started at about 3:30 and went until dark.  It was a good meeting.  I am overwhelmed with all the work we are doing.  I am so inspired by the quality of the facility we are building and how we will use it to train around 1000 students at a time…year after year, and I can’t wait to get home and get back to the work of asking for followers of Jesus to sacrifice and invest this crazy paper thing called money.  When you and I consider how blessed we are, we will be incredible givers.  Are you an incredible giver? 

It’s Sunday.  It was a good day.  I only have a day and half left before I must climb aboard another airliner and fly at 31,000 feet back home. 

I am blessed.  Supremely blessed…and at the same time I am haunted.  Haunted by the conditions that this sin cursed world has created for such wonderful people like Ugandans…and sometimes even the people in our neighborhoods in the USA.  Poverty is not always a money thing.  Return Hope International is not just about Uganda Africa.  I teach the Bible in the US.  I am a Bible teacher at a Christian School and would be grateful to fill the pulpit of your pastor if he/she needs a break.  Return Hope makes this all possible.  God is good. Let’s continue to conquer the entrapment of poverty all around the world.

Is there anything in your life that separating you from God and causing poverty in your life.  Poverty of marriage?  Poverty of physical fitness?  Poverty of friendships?  Poverty of spirituality? Poverty of finances?  Poverty of parenting?  Poverty of emotional health? 

Only Jesus is the answer.  He won’t miraculously make you rich in those areas of life.  It will require you to become a fully devoted follower of Him.  He has asked much from you and me…but not before giving His all for us. 

We can do more for Him.  Your obedience matters.  Narrow is the road that leads to heaven.  I love you too much to just make you feel good, if you are walking down the road to hell.  Please don’t be separated from God for eternity.  I think it would be cool to spend eternity with you.

I pray you will use the tool of Return Hope to grow in your relationship with Jesus and become more like Him. Return Hope is the work of Jesus and the Church. 

It was a good Sunday.  I pray someday you will experience a Sunday with me…here in Africa!

I have only one full day left in Africa before I return.  We are preparing to drill 6 fresh water wells for people in the African bush who have never had clean water to drink. Each well will provide fresh water for approx 10,000 people.  Talk about making a difference in the lives of people! Many of the locals have been told that there just isn’t any water underground.  Wait until we show them what Jesus can do!!  He can do anything!  I am going to visit some of the locations and people, and take some pictures.  I will post about it tomorrow.  A couple of the well locations are deep enough in the African bush that some of the people will have never seen a white man.

Stay tuned.


Sink or Swim

An adapted quote from Goi Nasu…

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

It starts with just a small drop…

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

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

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

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


Having Done in Room 1501 (wk 15) Winning is Everything

I just wrapped up week 15 at Joy Christian High School as a first year teacher.  I teach the Bible Class to Sophomores, Juniors and Seniors.  Sophomores are going through New Testament Survey and the others are going through World Religions.   It’s still pretty amazing to me that I get all those students in Room 1501 every week and we get to learn The Bible and it’s impact on life.  I pray it plants seeds that God continues to grow for the rest of their lives.

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It is a true honor to witness the students of JCHS entering into that blue door each day.  A majority of them wear their emotions on their sleeves.  It is pretty evident what kind of day each student is having just by reading their body language when they enter.  I can tell that the semester is getting ready to end, because many of the students are weary of school.  They are in need of an extended break.  There is nothing wrong with that.  Thanksgiving and Christmas are right around the corner.

Week 15 at JCHS, taught me its most valuable life lessons, outside of the classroom.  This week the JCHS Volleyball and Football teams had their season ending State Playoff games.  Both teams had a phenomenal season as they demonstrated their athletic gifts God gave them.  But, each team, even with their overall successful season, ended the season heartbroken because they didn’t progress and have an ending result of ‘State-Champs.’   In their minds they didn’t win.  In reality they didn’t win.  As the Room 1501 Bible Teacher, I found myself heart broken for them.  This week’s experience reminded me of something that our American culture seems to be embarrassed of.

Admitting that WINNING IS EVERYTHING. 

Stop and think about it for just a moment.  If you disagree with that statement…then…when did you stop believing that winning is everything?

Harry “Red” Sanders, head coach of the of UCLA Bruins from 1949-1957 is the one who get’s the credit for that phrase.  Vince Lombardi is known for using that phrase as he led the Green Bay Packers to be a winning dynasty that still inspires people today.

Harry Sanders’s exact quote is, “Winning isn’t everything, it’s the only thing.” Lombardi gives Sanders the credit for being the originator of the phrase in his book, “The Lombardi Rules.”

So, do you believe that winning is everything?

I think there is Biblical evidence that winning is everything.  However, before we jump into the Bible let’s first start with the Dictionary.com.

WIN …  verb (used without object), won, winning.

1.  to finish first in a race, contest, or the like.  

2.  to succeed by striving or effort.  

3.  to gain the victory; overcome an adversary.

It is of my opinion that the current American culture…is meandering through life without any stimulating vision. Somewhere along these past 10-15 years, the American people have catered to some strange people who live on the fringes of society. Somehow these types have gotten into the leadership of too many things.  Am I the only one who thinks we have given influence of the American Culture, to the kind of people who were not present when the “Common Sense Train” stopped to give out its gifts?  I think these types have been influencing some very important USA things, and have been brilliant in their influence, to the point that the average, common sense gifted American, has become the frog in the kettle that is about to be cooked.

Have these types somehow slow-cooked you into thinking that winning is for greedy, mean-spirited, and self-ambitious people?

I say it again, Winning is everything.

Bible time… 

The Apostle Paul, the writer who wrote more than half of the New Testament under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, wrote this…

Don’t you realize that in a race everyone runs, but only one person gets the prize? So run to win!”

1 Corinthians 9:24

“So run to win.”  The Bible says that!  If you think with me, I think you will agree that there are 7 areas of life.  All things life, fall into one of these 7 categories.  1. Spiritual  2. Social  3. Psychological  4. Parental  5. Physical  6. Financial  7. Marital.

In the 7 areas of life, can you think of one that would be okay to NOT win in?  Do you want to lose in your marriage?  Do you want to lose in your physical life?  Do you want to lose in the Spiritual world?

I repeat, Winning is everything!

Part of the problem we might have with our current attitude towards winning is the simple fact that somewhere along the way we have been slow cooked into believing that winning is only about some position.  No doubt…part of a win is actually a 1st place position.  Surely you have heard the phrase “2nd place just means you are the first loser.”  But I want to say, that if the attainment of your first place position was done with any form of integrity problem, then you may have won a 1st place position, but you did not win a first place function.  (Please understand the difference between Functional and Positional winning.)

There are many things in life that carry attributes of what is called Functional and Positional differences.  As an example, I’ll demonstrate what I mean by using one of my favorite topics, Spiritual Leadership.  There are many people who hold the position of leadership in their Church, but it’s just a position.  Somewhere in that church there is a person or a group of people who truly FUNCTION as the leadership. In Church world this is not healthy.  In Church world, the average Church(an average church in the USA runs about 90 total  in attendance) is struggling to produce any kind of fruit, because the Church might have a Pastor/Minister/Preacher that has a Position/title of leader, but in all reality, there is a group of about 5 -10 people/families that function as leaders and if you the positional leader do not do what they say…well…there will be heck to pay. Positional vs Functional Leadership.  There is a distinct difference.

In life, it seems like all the power is in the Positional leadership…but eventually functional leadership will WIN out.  FUNCTIONAL leadership trumps POSITIONAL leadership…sooner or later!  It may take Jesus’s return and the initiating of eternity to set that point as fact…but it is fact, none the less.

This is why Jesus says, “The Last shall be first and the first shall be last.”  According to Jesus, true winners may not hold the less important POSITION of leadership, but FUNCTION behind the scenes as a real functioning leader.

Position does not always define a win.  A true win is accomplished when Position and Function bond as one.  If you cheat to win, you don’t win…no matter the position you finished in.  If you have positional power and you have to “show”your power to get what you think is a win…then you didn’t win at all.  (In teaching world…there are teachers who think they win when they “nail” a student, but that teacher won the little skirmish at the loss of the entire battle.  They lost the student’s respect…that’s not a win.)  Positional leadership “sticks out its chest.”  Functional leadership doesn’t need facades. Functional leadership is invisible power.

I think, part of the reason as to why America has developed a misunderstanding about winning, is simply because we have become a dumbed down society that is too busy to think deeply anymore.  We do not think deeply about what a TRUE WIN really is because we don’t have the time to really study and learn deeply about things, due to our fast pursuit of what we think is a win.  We have become a society of “the ends justifies the means.”  Too many just want some end goal result and they will bypass almost anything to get to that first place position.

I have heard and experienced horror stories of churches, corporations, schools, and governments that will do anything to get a “win.”

 

Why?

Because…winning is everything.

It’s time we quit lying to ourselves about winning.  Winning is everything. It really matters to every one of us.  Winning matters so much that people will do anything to win.

But here is the deal…

If you win a first place POSITION by ignoring first place FUNCTION…then you are a loser…not a winner.  If I have to cheat/lie or in any other way keep secret what I had to do to get the “win”…then in all reality I lose.   If in no other arena…then when I look in the mirror.  If I lost my integrity to get a win…my mirror will let me know.  Below are just a few comparisons between Functional and Positional Leadership.  Understanding the difference will help you truly win. The material below is written from a Biblical World-view perspective.

Positional vs Functional Leadership.jpgBottom Line … Winning is everything.  I can’t think of anything that I want to lose in.  I suppose what is difficult to determine is what is truly a win.  All the money in the world, all the fame, all the influence, all the positions of power, all the _____________????

Have you heard the following phrase?  “He who dies with the most toys, wins.”  I want to scream, “FALSE!”  The true phrase is…

“He who dies with the most toys, still dies.”  

You can erase the underlined word above and put in any earthly word in its place and it is still true.

I don’t want to lose in anything.  I want to win.

Especially in the Spiritual realm.  To lose spiritually is to go to Hell eternally.

To wrap up this blog post about what I have learned from Room 1501 on this 15th week at Joy Christian High School, I simply want to add what Jesus said about winning and losing.

“If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will save it.”    Luke 9:23-24 

Jesus didn’t come to be served…even though He deserved it.  He came to serve others.  Jesus didn’t come to win in this world…He came to die…a.k.a…”lose,” so that He could live eternally in the presence of His Heavenly Father.  He “lost” so that you could win.  Now…we are going to have to copy Him.  What is it that you must “lose” in this life so that you may gain eternal life?  What positional powers are you indulging in right now that you need to transform into Functional powers.  What is it that you must die to, so that you can win? What must you lose…to truly win in what matters?

WIN!

The athletes that filed through Room 1501 this week helped me think about what true winning and losing really is.  And no matter how you look at it…Winning is everything.

Don’t let anybody tell you any differently.

 

 


Success Poem by Trent Renner

Road to success

I’d like to address a thing called success. 

It’s believed to be the attainment of money.

This definition perplexes me

I find it sadly funny.

*

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

When I heard the phrase, I almost hurled.

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

if that belief needs to be a bit unfurled.

*

Success and money don’t go hand in hand,

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

Will you follow this path too many have traveled?

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

*

No… Success is quite simple, its definition is revealed

in the man and the woman with body kneeled.

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

And living in unity for only the Almighty one.

*

Stepping through life with a holy focus and zeal.

Not getting caught up in this world’s appeal.

Sacrificing for others, serving the one above.

Success is only attained through Faith, Hope and Love.

*

If today you have grasped this true definition.

Then I pray you live out your godly mission.

Jesus is the one you must live to impress.

This only and only this is truly success.

—Trent Renner, 2014


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