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Monthly Archives: December 2013

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.”


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 to do when in The Crushing… Post 2 of 2

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

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

Leave room for the crushing.

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

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

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

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

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

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

ONE.  Self Inflicted Trials (SIT)

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

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

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

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

TWO.  Maturity Anticipated Trial (MAT)

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

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


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

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

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

THREE: Punishment Intended Trial. (PIT)

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

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

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

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

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

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




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

The main thing…let the pain improve you!

You are loved.  Keep your head up.

THE CRUSHING… Post 1 of 2

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

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

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

Leave room for the crushing.

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

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

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

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

Bill gates was a Harvard Dropout.

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

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

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

Winston Churchill failed the 6th grade.

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

Henry Ford’s first two automobile companies failed.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

6) Brokenness and failure are necessary.

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

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

9) God’s way is better than my way.

10) Christlikeness begins and ends with humility.

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

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

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

Romans 8:38 

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

Leave room for your crushing.

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!