We’ve been honored to partner with Pastor Bryan Jarrett on a new initiative called #RuralMatters—meeting a real need of strengthening the rural church around the world. I’m overwhelmed by his church’s heart of generosity—Northplace has helped with rural church planting in Russia through the Hosanna plan, sponsored the story of the Prodigal Son on the Bible App for Kids and I am honored to have him as my guest on the blog today with this message that I truly believe is prophetic for our ministry and many others.
I have always known there is a person I do not want to become.
When my wife, Haley, and I were young and zealously fresh in ministry, we encountered many vocational ministers who were further down the road than we were. These men (and women) were so often filled with cynicism, bitterness and distrust. They had lost their fresh excitement over being part of God’s work. And my constant prayer in that season was, Father, don’t let me become “that guy”.
Fast forward to years of experience in ministry, raising 3 kids and enjoying a comfortable lifestyle and I have come to realize that I have more to lose today than ever before. I have less time to recover if I fail, less room to correct if the path starts to go wrong, and more at stake with every decision. Expectations are heavy, so every step has to be calculated—that’s the definition of wisdom, right?
But living that way isn’t what got me where I am today. When I had nothing to lose I trusted like nothing else mattered—I was “all in” with God. Somewhere along the way though, I started to play it safe and protect rather than take risks of faith in response to God’s leading. I stopped playing to win, and started playing not to lose. I lost touch with the crazy faith-filled, entrepreneurial risk-taking kid traveling around the country in an RV to tell people about Jesus. And God showed me something I never thought I would see in my life.
I had become “that guy.”
I recognized this when God called me to serve a community I couldn’t wait to escape from—rural churches. It’s where Haley and I started. Where we encountered so many of those bitter, cynical pastors. But small towns need life-giving churches too.
There’s no way for a person or a church living in a status quo world to make an impact unless it will rise to a level of extravagant devotion and surrender. The word “extravagant” usually carries a negative connotation, but it actually means “unrestrained excess”.
In the Bible, extravagant worship that goes beyond the status quo always captures the heart of God
- When Solomon offered thousands of sacrifices to the Lord at his coronation—God said, “I’ll give you anything you want” 1 Chronicles 29:21-25
- When Mary offered the exorbitant contents of her alabaster jar—Jesus promised that what she had done would be told to generations Matthew 26:7,13
- When Abraham laid Isaac laid on the altar, he became known as a friend of God James 2:23
Christian living, by definition, is visionary living. After all, no matter what the odds may appear—Christians have resources in the supernatural that are undetected in the natural world!
While most people use their eyes for looking, visionaries use their eyes for seeing.
Christians can think and lead differently than the world, following God radically as we see past sin and problems and instead see possibilities.
Instead of playing it safe, we are to be people of promise exercising Kingdom solutions to the problems of this world.
My biblical hero for visionary living is Caleb. When he and Joshua went into the Promised Land, they both LOOKED at the same exact obstacles. But Caleb SAW the possibilities—we should go up and take possession of the land he said. Yes, there were giants, but he could see beyond the hazards and keep his eyes fixed on God’s promise. Num 13:30
I love that even as Caleb aged in his flesh, he never became “that guy”. At 85 years old he was allowed to enter the Promised Land because he had kept a trusting spirit throughout his entire life.
So when God nudged me to go “all in” for Him again—to literally risk everything for the opportunity to push my ministry to the next level and fulfill a God-given dream, I knew I had to do it. Because it was my way of saying I’m not “that guy.” The guy without vision, and without the eyes to see God’s hand at work and the courage to join him there.
As we move through seasons of life and faith, I pray that we will never stop offering these extravagant sacrifices. Let’s keep rattling the chains—and not allow ourselves to turn into the guy or girl who has grown too old and too safe to operate in a young trust-filled faith.
My prayer for you…
Dear one, I pray that today your heart may rise—that you respond by taking a step of faith. God has given you dreams, visions, and desires and there’s too much at stake for them to lay there dormant. God awaken us from being or becoming “that guy” or “that girl”.
Help us trust your sovereign plan for our lives. If we’re still on the potter’s wheel in preparation, help us have patience until the moment when you declare that we are ready. Let these dreams you’ve given continue to grow as we prepare and wait for you to declare due season when you will bring forth the fruit.
In Jesus’ name, amen.
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