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a publication of Life Action Ministries

Volume 49, Issue 2


TAPESTRY OF FAITH Dr. Richard Phillips | p. 18



Be Unexplainable




I Lost It



Learning to Live by Faith



Time to Risk


Stories from the Faith Frontier

30 MAKING IT PERSONAL Begin Your Faith Adventure




Executive Director/CEO: Byron Paulus Senior Editor: Del Fehsenfeld III Managing Editor: Daniel W. Jarvis Assistant Editor: Kim Adams Creative Director: Aaron Paulus Designers: Allison Richcreek, Emily Stark, Austin Loveing Photography: Volume 49, Issue 2 Copyright © 2018 by Life Action Ministries. All rights reserved. A WOMAN WHO SAYS

Revive magazine is published as God provides, and made available at no cost to those who express a genuine burden for revival. It is financially supported by the gifts of God’s people. Its mission is to ignite movements of revival and authentic Christianity. Life Action does not necessarily endorse the entire philosophy and ministry of all its contributing writers. We do not accept unsolicited manuscripts or pay our authors for content. We grant permission for any original article (not a reprint) to be photocopied for use in a local church or group setting, provided copies are unchanged, are distributed free of charge, and indicate Life Action Ministries as the source. Revive magazines are also available online.



Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Text Edition: 2016. Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Scripture on pp. 7-13 taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

How I discovered that faith grows in response to each YES to God

hen are you going to get a real job? What about all the money you spent on an education? Why would you waste your business degree by becoming a missionary? You’re married now, and planning a family; how are you going to take care of them? Seriously, no salary? You are going to just trust God to provide? The questions seemed endless. But the real test came when well-intentioned church members exclaimed, “You are active in a growing church—a highly capable young couple whose future can be secure and full of ministry impact right here! So why would you up and leave for a ministry that is just getting started? A ministry with no money! What are you thinking?” I tried to explain, but I soon realized that what Sue and I were doing was unexplainable, even to our close friends and family. The call of God didn’t even make practical sense to me, so how could I convince others? Encouragement came to me from Jeremiah 1:7-8. Jeremiah was too young, totally unprepared, and completely unqualified. I could identify with his age, the immensity of his fears, and his improbability of success. God said to Jeremiah, “Do not say, ‘I am only a youth’; for to all to whom I send you, you shall go, and whatever I command you, you shall speak. Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you to deliver you, declares the Lord.” With our belongings in the back of a pickup, we said yes and took a hard, difficult, crazy step of obedience. And when we did, we discovered that faith grew in response to each yes to God. That journey of faith started nearly 44 years ago. A lot has changed since


then. But two truths have not changed (and never will): 1. The promises of God accompanying the call of God provide the courage and faith needed to embrace the will of God. 2. God equips the called more than He calls the equipped. I often get asked how I explain what God has done through Life Action Ministries over the years. I cannot explain it no matter how hard I try. Four decades ago, I knew nothing about being in ministry. Yet to His credit, and thanks to incredible fellow servants, the fledging little ministry I joined has become a multi-faceted organization reaching millions through daily radio, multiple online media channels, expansive publishing and conference ministries, leadership retreats, local church events, family camps, and an initiative that is daily issuing a nationwide call for spiritual awakening. It is not only remarkable but truly unexplainable, from its very inception forward. When our ministry was birthed and the vision was codified, our founder spent the first year traversing our country and seeking counsel from over 120 ministry leaders. They all said the same thing: “It’s a great vision, but it will never work.” Our founder returned to the place where God gave him the vision, and out of disappointment and frustration, he cried, “God, I don’t understand! You gave me this vision, but all the experts say it won’t work.”

That’s when the same God who gave the vision responded with even greater clarity and certainty: “Don’t ever forget what they told you, because I want you to have a ministry that cannot be explained apart from Me.” Few heavenly-minded pioneers have modeled more powerfully what uninhibited, faith-filled obedience to the call of God looks like than Andrew Murray. He was a champion of the South African revival of 1860. He issued both a warning and a hope when he wrote: Beware in your prayers, above everything else, of limiting God, not only by unbelief, but by fancying that you know what He can do. Expect unexpected things, “above all that we ask or think.” This issue of Revive is all about inspiring you to be more available to God than you ever imagined possible— to be more unexplainable than you ever dreamed. Who knows, He might use you as a spark to ignite revival in your own community . . . or country . . . or even beyond. You, by God’s grace, can be unexplainable!

Byron Paulus Executive Director/CEO






Through innovative media, high-energy worship, Biblecentered preaching, intense prayer, and fun elements, we engage every member of your church family, inviting them to say YES to God in every category of life.

To learn about our multi-day renewal events, and how you can host one in your church, visit

In losing it, I gained Him

am a man who lost faith. Other authors in this issue of Revive are describing the life of faith, the bold steps of risky obedience Jesus calls us to take every day. But what if we really aren’t sure about all of this? That was me. After growing up in a vibrant Christian home, I lost my father, quickly and unexpectedly, to a brain tumor. I was seventeen. As my mother struggled to raise my four siblings (two under the age of four), I set off to a Christian college. My doubts raged, and my questions grew. I only lasted a year. I transferred to a public university in hopes of processing my life without the confusion Christianity now presented me. There I encountered the idea that truth is not a fixed reality, but something people decide through the lens of their experiences. This line of reasoning found a home in me. Within a few short years, I rejected the truth claims of the Christian story of my youth. More precisely, I no longer believed in the validity of faith at all. I lost it. Those were dark days for me. Deep down, my heart still yearned for what my head had rejected. I had to admit I had plenty of loneliness and unfulfilled longings. Occasionally, I would slip into the back of a church to watch Christians worship. I remember thinking, “Faith would be so comforting; I wish I could just believe again.” But turning faith on like a light switch seemed like an impossibility. Several years later, my fiancé insisted we go to church together regularly. Without a doubt, I went only for


her. But something unexpected was in store for me. In listening to the retelling of the story of Jesus and the dramatic impact on people who met Him, I found my heart softening. As I looked at Jesus, I began to be captivated by His life. And then, just as suddenly as it felt like faith had evaporated, I found that it was back—but this time, it was different. It wasn’t “something I believed” anymore; it was “someone I believed in.” That was more than twenty years ago, and by God’s grace, I am still believing in Jesus. I’ve learned that faith can be rooted in the wrong thing without even knowing it.

It wasn’t “something I believed” anymore; it was “someone I believed in.” Looking back now on what happened to me, I realize that what I thought was faith in God when I was in high school was really my belief that my life would turn out well as long as I believed. In other words, if I did my part, God would do His.

The cold reality of my father’s death shattered that contract. God failed to keep His end of my bargain with Him. What had I done to deserve disappointment and pain? So I doubted the reliability of God, and ultimately shrank away from Him in shock. Yet, ironically, the very doubts that drove me away from faith are actually what drove me toward Jesus. Before I could encounter Him, I had to reject my self-created version of Him. It is on this “real” faith, then, that I’m able to stand and serve—faith that is based on who Jesus is, rather than just based on the script I was taught as a kid, and the implied bargain of a blessed life. Knowing Jesus—my Redeemer, my Friend, my Savior, my Lord—-is what gives me joy and strength to push ahead into the next frontier of faith . . . even when times are hard, even when I face losses, even when I don’t understand. I’m not saying yes to a postulate or a program, but to a Person. In losing it, I gained Him.

Del Fehsenfeld III Senior Editor








Just beyond the edge of settled territory Moving beyond the safe, predictable life afforded by this world, into an adventure that spans both earth and eternity Saying yes to God’s vision, trusting His perspective more than our own



elcome to a life of faith, of confident hope, of blessed assurance, of living the gospel no matter what the cost. On this frontier, we discover both wilderness and wonder. It’s unpredictable, uncharted, unfamiliar—sometimes teeming with life, other times desolate. Our deep struggles give way to epic victories, our painful sacrifices somehow go hand in hand with our most joyous celebrations. Out here, we take nothing for granted; we know that daily faithfulness counts, and we anticipate resistance. Heroes of faith cut the first trails long ago, through mountains of persecution and valleys of doubt, believing God against impossible odds and in the midst of improbable circumstances. They said YES when few others would. Hebrews 11 reports that those early pioneers, by faith, . . . overthrew kingdoms, ruled with justice, and received what God had promised them. They shut the mouths of lions, quenched the flames of fire, and escaped death by the edge of the sword. Their weakness was turned to strength. They became strong in battle and put whole armies to flight. Women received their loved ones back from death (Hebrews 11:33-35). To get started on the journey, and to see all that God has in store for our future, we don’t need a map, a guarantee, or a whole lot of answers. We just need faith to cross the mountains, and even to move them, if necessary. Faith not in ourselves, nor in simply the idea of faith, but faith firmly established in God, who can do great things, unexpected things, more than we could ask or imagine. Our faith isn’t evidenced by bravado or emotion, but rather, by a simple, humble yes to God. That’s our first step, and we can take it together, right now.




hen the settlers of the American West ventured out in wagon trains to cross the Great Plains and to conquer the Rocky Mountains, they knew they’d be facing storms, fording rivers, and risking life and limb many times in pursuit of their dream. If the road had been easy, many more would have traversed it. But as it was, only a few had the courage to leave “Eastern comforts” to follow the golden sunset. The faith frontier is the same, where risks abound and rewards are yet to come. There are plenty of would-be pioneers who are paralyzed by fear, whose doubts and questions hold them back from answering Jesus’ simple call, “Follow Me!” But Lord, what about . . . ? What if . . . How will . . . ? Why would . . . ? Do I really have to . . . ? Jesus invites us, in no uncertain terms, to surrender our worry, and instead to seek God’s kingdom first. Imagine the sticker shock experienced by Peter, James, Martha, and others when Jesus laid out the real cost of discipleship: If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake, you will save it (Luke 9:24). This means, in effect, that playing it safe is actually the biggest risk. Over-thinkers and perennial worriers are making a tragic tradeoff—trusting their eyes more than God’s, believing their wisdom above His. Jesus was right, of course: The safest place to be in eternity’s view is out on the faith trail, not holed up among the temporary securities of this world.


Am I willing to SAY YES to God even when I can’t see the final outcome? Am I willing to LIVE BY FAITH rather than by sight? Whether I stand or fall, win or lose, experience joy or suffer loss in this life, will I still SURRENDER to Jesus? In what area of my life do I need to offer A FRESH YES to God?


t was by faith that Abraham obeyed when God called him to leave home and go to another land that God would give him as his inheritance. He went without knowing where he was going. And even when he reached the land God promised him, he lived there by faith—for he was like a foreigner, living in tents . . . . Abraham was confidently looking forward to a city with eternal foundations (Hebrews 11:8-10).

Abraham received the dream-come-true calling of any pioneer—to head west and claim land! But it’s the second part that makes his call more difficult, and why, upon obeying God, Abraham took on the moniker “the father of faith.” He was to be a man who “went without knowing where he was going.” Can you imagine? A wealthy man with a large household, extended family, growing investments, multiplying farm animals, community respect . . . suddenly up and leaving most of it behind, choosing a nomadic lifestyle? Living in tents? Based on what, exactly? An entirely non-specific promise? Abraham believed God, and God counted him as righteous (Romans 4:3; cf. Genesis 15:6).

thing to another, but it will at a minimum involve movement and change of the heart. It will mean relocating the affections and priorities of our hearts from the promise of this world to the promise of the next. Like Abraham, we can allow our faith in what God will do in the future to trump our attachments to whatever we are enjoying in the present. We can decide to focus on the “city with eternal foundations” and pursue our treasures there, not here. That’s when the trail life of risk and sacrifice start to make sense. That’s when our hearts fill with joy, not because of an easy journey, but because of our confidence in what God will do and where His leadership will take us. Is my Christian life “ON THE MOVE”? When was the last time I ventured out BEYOND LIFE AS USUAL, for Christ? Where is my HEART most at home, in this world or in the next? What could I do to practice relocating my priorities TOWARD THE FUTURE?

Movement and change are intrinsic features of the faith frontier journey. There’s no way to remain still and yet also walk by faith. This doesn’t always mean physically or vocationally moving from one




he challenge of moving into unsettled territory centers on our perceived need for resources: “What will I eat, what will I wear, where will I sleep?” Or, perhaps in our case, “If I say yes to God without reservation and He calls me away from what I know, what will happen next? And how can I know that it will all work out? What if saying yes means that my career has to change, or that I have to move to a difficult area for ministry, or that I have to love a difficult person? What if I don’t feel equipped or ready?” It is right to perceive that frontier activity will be expensive. Every time people move in new directions, they find unexpected challenges. Think of the great frontiers of human history—sailing to the New World, settling the American West, exploring the Arctic, rocketing to the moon, someday launching a mission to Mars . . . Each “small step for a man, giant leap for mankind” requires massive resources, sometimes way beyond what even seems realistic. Living by faith is like that as well. It will cost a lot. Bank on it! So, where will all of it come from? The money it will take, the expertise it will require? And as we contemplate that, the light bulb f lickers: “Oh, that’s why this whole thing takes faith!” For us to move into our faith frontier, we have to learn how to trust God, who can supply us “from his glorious riches” in Christ (Philippians 4:19). We have to say yes before our supply lines are established, believing that He is our supply line. Will your yes to God require you to spend more, or love more, or serve more, or house more, or drive more, or share more? Don’t worry about these things, saying, ‘What will we eat? What will we drink? What will we wear?’ . . . Your heavenly Father already knows all your needs. Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need (Matthew 6:31-33).

And that’s the real adventure of all this—seeing how God provides the resources we never thought we could muster, and then giving Him the glory for the victories ahead. When we decide to seek His kingdom, it means we say, 10

Lord, Your divine priorities are now my priorities; and as I invest myself and all I have in Your service, I’ll keep believing in You. My life is totally in Your hands instead of in mine.

Have I ever said yes to God in a way that really COST me? How have I seen God PROVIDE for my needs in the past? Have I allowed worry about my earthly life to prevent me from TAKING STEPS OF FAITH? What or who have I been viewing as the SOURCE of my resources?



o often, in our imaginations of taking bold steps of faith,

we see ourselves standing alone, going against the crowd—facing persecution, stepping into darkness, taking on challenges, being the Gladiator or Spartacus or Daniel in the lions’ den. But that’s not what God intended. He invites you into a life of faith partnership with all sorts of other people, to cross faith frontiers as a team, as a family, as a church. Now, this requires humility. There is an inner super-hero in all of us who, sadly, surmises, “If I’m going to take a great risk for the kingdom, I at least want to get the credit for it!” So we wait, and we calculate—but we don’t move forward. We don’t want to leverage the gifts or expertise of others. There’s another even less heroic impulse in us that wants to say, “If I’m going to risk it all, I want to do it my way!” And that too, obviously, is a distortion of our heavenly calling. We aren’t on the journey for our own benefit or satisfaction.

We’re crossing frontiers for God’s glory, not our own. It’s true that moving into a faith frontier with a team will be a different experience than if you had gone on your own. Imagine if Neil Armstrong, the first man to walk on the moon, had determined not to use the help of anyone else, or had insisted on micro-managing every aspect of engineering and planning. He never would have even left the ground! To go that far, he had to trust a team. Canadian geese f ly north and south across the North American continent every year as a part of their migratory pattern, and their formation is easy to spot—they f ly in a V. Scientists have estimated that these geese can sometimes fly up to 70% further together than they could if they went solo. Why? Because the dynamics of lift, turbulence, and airf low of the V make each goose more efficient in flight. As long as they stick together, they cover more territory. But within the V, each goose has to be willing to defer to the others, and they don’t all get to lead their own way. What if our greatest limitations are actually self-imposed, and the reason we aren’t moving fur ther

ahead in our churches and families for the gospel is because of our own pride? We weren’t designed to be heroes, but rather, servants, partners, and team players. If we fly in formation, we’ll go further for Christ! We are many parts of one body, and we all belong to each other. In His grace, God has given us different gifts for doing certain things well (Romans 12:5-6). God has given each of you a gift from His great variety of spiritual gifts. Use them well to serve one another (1 Peter 4:10). Crossing our next faith frontier might mean looking at the people around us with fresh eyes. It might mean thinking about how to help them succeed in their journey, even more than worrying about how we’ll succeed on ours. It might mean admitting our own weaknesses so we can lean in to others to compensate. It might mean being more committed to the goal than to who gets the credit for scoring it.

Who has God put on my life “team” so far, to take the JOURNEY OF FAITH with me? What have I done in the past month to help my team GROW and SUCCEED? Am I COMFORTABLE not being the hero, or even the leader? What holds me back from really BELIEVING IN and LEANING ON the people around me? 11


ioneers along the Oregon Trail in the mid-1800s faced temptation to turn back, often on a daily basis. One settler wrote to a Missouri newspaper during his journey,

To enjoy such a trip . . . a man must be able to endure heat like a salamander, mud and water like a muskrat, dust like a toad, and labor like a donkey. He must learn to eat with his unwashed fingers, drink out of the same vessel as his mules, sleep on the ground when it rains, and share his blanket with vermin, and have patience with mosquitoes. . . . It is hardship without glory.

To make it through all of his trials, that man must have had a strong picture of the future that was animating his steps. He really believed his future gold claim or frontier farm would be worth all of this effort! So what of our faith journey? Is it worth the sacrifice, the daily steps, the required disciplines, the mountains and valleys? Is it worth the storms we know thunder ahead, or the dangers lurking in the shadows? Wouldn’t it be easier to turn back east, where life is comfortable and predictable? To let others cut the trail and be the early adopters of the faith lifestyle? Couldn’t we just follow Jesus on well-traversed highways, rather than mountain passes? Crossing the faith frontier requires that we cultivate the same attitude as Paul, when he wrote during his imprisonment: I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize (Philippians 3:13-14). Or when he encouraged believers not to “get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up” (Galatians 6:9).

The strength we’ll need to live by faith and accomplish great things for Christ won’t come from within; rather, we must depend on the Holy Spirit. We face the battles ahead armed only with a humble yes to God in our hearts, asking His Holy Spirit for grace, power, and victory. And here’s what’s so exciting about crossing the faith frontier. The sights we’ll see and the joys we’ll experience will dwarf any challenge we faced along the trail. Paul wrote: Our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever! So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever (2 Corinthians 4:17-18).

Have I been indexing my level of obedience to Christ to how COMFORTABLE I feel with what He asks me to do? Have I taken any STEPS BACKWARD on my faith frontier journey that I need to repent of? How might God want to GROW my resolve for the next steps ahead? Would my life change if I focused on ETERNAL REWARDS rather than earthly circumstances?







We tend to think that the faith heroes of the past were always “heroes.” They weren’t. They, like us, had daily lives as well, and not every moment was epic. It could be that you, like me, are feeling limited—not because you lack faith, but because your life is so full of mundane things. You don’t see a path from where you are to the place where you’re facing down giants or conquering the forces of darkness. Here are a few ideas for regular people (all of us) to help us get started:

Obey the instructions you already have from God. You already have plenty of accumulated knowledge of God’s Word to take some action today—even if you don’t have some map of Montana, or Mars, or Mordor in front of you. Start simple rather than worrying about “epic.” Extend love to your neighbor. Take a new step toward holiness in your life. Determine how you could upgrade your generosity. Show hospitality to a friend at lunch today. Get some advice from fellow pioneers. You are a part of a team, right? There’s no reason to contemplate your next steps alone; so pray with others in your family or your church about where God wants to take you, how you could utilize your gifts, and what faith steps might be next. Be faithful in the small things. We forget, as we read the highlights of the faithful in history, that those who shut the mouths of lions also prayed three times a day—for years. Or that those who led God’s people into new lands had many years of wilderness shepherding as preparation. They were faithful each day, and after being proven faithful in little, they were entrusted with much. Ask God what your next “yes” needs to be. As long as your heart is still beating, God’s mission for you on earth is not yet complete. So, ask Him! “Lord, what should I prioritize today? Who could I serve or share with this week? What would You like me to learn about next? How could I extend Your kingdom from right where I am?” Maybe that mountain of laundry is a NECESSARY STEP on your faith frontier? Perhaps doing your best work on the job is a DEMONSTRATION of your Christian values? Maybe QUIETLY SERVING in your church is part of God’s plan for you?

It’s also important to read the rest of the story. Not everyone who forges into faith frontiers has a positive earthly outcome. Hebrews 11, after recounting the victories of faith, notes: Others were tortured, refusing to turn from God in order to be set free. They placed their hope in a better life after the resurrection. Some were jeered at, and their backs were cut open with whips. Others were chained in prisons. Some died by stoning, some were sawed in half, and others were killed with the sword. Some went about wearing skins of sheep and goats, destitute and oppressed and mistreated. They were too good for this world, wandering over deserts and mountains, hiding in caves and holes in the ground. All these people earned a good reputation because of their faith, yet none of them received all that God had promised. For God had something better in mind for us, so that they would not reach perfection without us (Hebrews 11:34-40). You and I today have something those Old Testament-era believers didn’t—we have the rest of the story. We have the gospel! I’m pretty sure that means we have even more reasons to trust God, even more reasons to absorb the risks of living by faith. So, on the basis of all that Jesus has done for you, will you say yes to Him? Will you venture forth, boldly, into the adventure of following God’s lead? To move just beyond the edge of settled territory? By faith?

Dan Jarvis serves as Managing Editor for Revive and is part of the Life Action leadership team. He and his wife, Melissa, shared extensively about their own faith frontier journey—and how it led them to foster care, ministry, adoption, and even India—on Revive Our Hearts radio with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth. You can hear the interview with Nancy at

Perhaps taking a step toward PERSONAL EXCELLENCE or fitness is part of the story? 13







ikipedia defines the American Dream as follows: “The American Dream is a national ethos of the United States, the set of ideals (democracy, rights, liberty, opportunity and equality) in which freedom includes the opportunity for prosperity and success, as well as an upward social mobility for the family and children, achieved through hard work in a society with few barriers.” Despite serving overseas for years, I still love America and many of the principles that guided its founding. I love that we value hard work and Cinderella stories. I often fight tears as I watch the fireworks in July and think about the freedoms and comforts we enjoy. Most of us have access to clean water, food, medicine, transportation, and entertainment whenever we want it. We live among the upper crust of the global population. These are all great blessings for sure, but we should still be willing to ask ourselves some difficult questions. How does our affluence and our quest for “upward social mobility” affect our obedience to a verse like Galatians 2:10, which reminds us to “remember the poor”?

What are the cultural factors that are crippling our evangelism to neighborhoods where there is only “downward social mobility”? Many of us are worried about lost people, but in order to respond biblically to Paul’s call to “set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth” (Colossians 3:2), we may have to do something radical. We may have to descend our “American Dream” ladder in order to find those around us in need, to become part of their world and find more than we left behind. Sometimes we are asked how a family can prepare themselves for mission work in poverty-stricken countries. We reply, “Don’t wait until you get overseas. Start today. Sell your home, move to the poorest area of town, learn their culture, become a vulnerable part of that community.” We’ve never actually met a couple who did this . . . until last month. Our summer travels and meetings with individual supporters took us through Huntsville, Alabama, where we met up with the Hanks family (including their two little ones). Andrew’s job is in aerospace, and Courtney is a clinical social worker and a faithful mommy. This couple is passionate about the gospel. Read the story (on the following page) of how they woke up from the American Dream in order to find more. May it inspire you to think radically today.


ANDREW AND COURTNEY’S STORY Andrew and I have always shared a mutual love of missions and adventure. We chose to go on mission to Africa for our honeymoon, and then to Indonesia for our five-year anniversary. As God continued to break our hearts for the unreached and underprivileged, we began asking the question, How are we living “on mission” daily at home? In addition to overseas trips, reading missional books began changing us (books like Radical, The Insanity of God, and Let the Nations Be Glad). We no longer desired, or could justify, living the American Dream. We Googled the poorest neighborhood in our city and began to look for a house there. Why? Because we had an overwhelming, Spirit-filled conviction to live on mission every day. We also wanted to use our neighborhood as a type of training ground to see if God was calling us to overseas missions. In preparation for that possibility, we moved to a place that would take us out of our culture and out of our comfort zone. The first year was full of adjustments and surprises; however, God was so faithful to confirm His leading in our decision. There was a closeness to our heavenly Father in this season—a closeness we had not yet experienced living in the safety and comforts of our upper-middle class, like-minded world.

EFFECTS ON OUR FAMILY There are several ways the move affected our family. We are continually learning from cultures that are not our own. This has allowed us to gain respect for our differences and appreciate God’s beautiful design of diversity. In addition, God has removed our spirit of fear and replaced it with a deep love and desire for our new friends to know Christ. Although there is some desensitization that happens after hearing so many gunshots, God has been faithful to cover our hearts with the peace that passes understanding despite our day-to-day experiences. Some days we fear the future effects of raising our children in this neighborhood and the things they will be exposed to. There are days we question if we are being negligent by purposely putting them “in harm’s way.” However, when our fears and questions come, it’s as if the Lord whispers sweet truths, saying, “They are Mine. I love them more than you ever could, and nothing will happen to them without passing through My sovereign hands first.”



EFFECTS ON OUR COMMUNITY In terms of those outside our community, we have found that the majority of our Christian peers are either perplexed or challenged by our decision to live among our city’s underprivileged. We have been given many opportunities to share our convictions and journey with others who share a similar Christian, middle-class background. As far as the internal community within our neighborhood, we have already (in our short two years) had the opportunity to assist with spiritual, emotional, physical, and financial needs. We have also been blessed to be trusted to walk side by side with some neighbors in their times of grief and trials. We have had the privilege of offering prayer and the hope of the gospel. We are still earning trust and deepening our relationships, and we look forward to developing true and lasting relationships with the people in our community. Our prayer is that they see Christ reflected in our actions and that we may be bold in sharing the gospel as opportunities arise right here where God has us.

Andrew and Courtney attend Providence Baptist Church in Huntsville, Alabama, where Andrew serves as the local missions and ministry deacon. Their testimony was first posted by Kelley Housley on, an online source of many challenging resources that pertain to living by faith.






hat is faith? No better answer is given in perhaps all the Bible than in the great eleventh chapter of the book of Hebrews. Here a tapestry is unfolded, depicting great examples of faith from the record of Old Testament heroes. In great castles, dark tapestries hang on musty walls to portray the exploits of great knights and lords from long ago, preserving the virtues and valors that made the kingdom great. Hebrews 11 is no musty hallway! It is a spiritual walkway adorned by the weaving of God’s living Word, depicting faith as the key virtue by which God has made His kingdom great. Hebrews 11 is often called the “Hall of Heroes.” But the true hero of this chapter is God, who gives faith to His own, by which the smallest of men and women have done great things in His strength. Hebrews 11 shows that faith is so important because God’s people are beset with weakness, poverty, and difficulty. This is why verse one tells us, “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” The context for faith is a life in which things are hoped for but not yet seen or possessed. Faith grasps things that are promised by God but are so far unfulfilled in our experience. We hope for power in the midst of weakness; we hope for peace in the midst of conflict and for joy in the presence of sorrow. For all these reasons, God’s people require faith to persevere in a difficult world. What, then, is faith? Faith is believing God’s Word in order to lay hold of things that are promised and make them real in our lives. Faith is the mode, or the manner by which we possess heavenly things on earth. The point is not that faith creates the things we hope for—this is the false teaching of many today who use this verse to ascribe creative power to our faith. Instead, faith receives from God the blessings He gives. God gives forgiveness, peace, and spiritual provision. He promises a “city that has foundations,” in which we will live forever (Hebrews 11:10). Faith is the evidence of these things in our lives, the conviction that draws strength from them to follow God.


Faith is believing God’s Word in order to lay hold of things that are promised and make them real in our lives.

Any further questions we may have are answered not by reasoned argument but by the example of faith set by the godly people remembered in Hebrews 11. It might be better to say that faith is here personified through the record of the Old Testament. We start in Genesis at the creation itself: Faith looks at the data of creation and sees that there really is a God (v. 3). Next come three pre-flood heroes, who together depict the pattern of any believer’s life: By faith Abel came to God and was justified, by faith Enoch walked in fellowship with God, and by faith Noah served God through obedient works. The largest section of Hebrews 11 is given to the patriarch Abraham. We are told of four things that Abraham did by faith: He obeyed God’s call; he lived as a pilgrim in a strange land; in old age, he and Sarah gave birth to God’s promised child; and by faith he offered up that son, Isaac, in obedience to God’s command. That is quite a life, all by faith! So on it goes. The tapestry of faith unveils generation after generation of God’s faithful, from Moses and Joshua through the judges, to David and the prophets and even the Maccabbean heroes who came after the Old Testament. By faith they conquered kingdoms, stopped the mouths of lions, and became mighty in war. They endured torture and stood firm in the face of death. Together they proved that by faith a believer has everything

he or she needs to triumph against the world’s worst opposition. Hebrews 11 tells what God’s people did by faith. The thing to notice about these heroes is not their personality traits, their training, or their upbringing. We are not told that Abraham was a resourceful kind of person or that his personality made him suited for disappointment. The only thing that made him different from others was his faith, and by his faith what a difference he made for the whole world. How did a man like Moses, in the prime of his life, turn his back on the pinnacle of worldly power and pleasure and riches? It wasn’t because Moses was such a moral person. He did it by faith! Without faith, none of these heroes of Hebrews 11 would have lived for God in the ways they did. But by faith, they lived with a power the world knows nothing about and gained a salvation the world has ignored. Because of their faith, verse 16 says, “God is not ashamed to be called their God.” Faith can do great things in anyone’s life. If you live by faith in God, no matter who you are and whatever else is true of you, you can make a difference for God’s kingdom. What really matters is not your strengths or weaknesses, your training or lack thereof. By faith you can be a spiritual hero. Why? Is it because of some power inherent to faith, or because faith will unleash your hidden potential? Not at all. Faith can do great things through you, verse six tells us, because God “rewards those who seek him.” Faith

gains its power from its object, the saving God who gives grace to those who trust in Him. If you look for these heroes of faith in the secular histories of the ancient world, you won’t find them. Why is that? Because there is something faith will not do. Faith will not give you fame and fortune as the world reckons them. These heroes of faith were worldly nobodies, but they were great in God’s sight. Their faith did not commend them to the world. Many of them were put to death because of their faith. As a rule, their faith earned them the world’s contempt. But look at verse 2: “For by [faith] the people of old received their commendation.” What commendation was that? By faith they were commended by God, and it doesn’t get any better than that. “Faith is the assurance of things hoped for,” begins Hebrews 11. What better to hope for than commendation from God—not just to be forgiven and received by faith, essential as that is, but to really please God with your life? By faith you may be assured even of this! What is it, then, that really matters in your life? Hebrews 11 says that what matters most about you, about every Christian, is your faith. Since that is true, nothing is more important than feeding and exercising and growing your faith. When you believe God’s Word and trust His promises in the challenges of your own life, you enter into this tapestry in which faith’s tale is still being told. By faith you, just like Noah and Abraham and Moses, can do great things by God’s power and for His glory.

Dr. Richard D. Phillips is senior minister of Second Presbyterian Church in Greenville, SC. This article first appeared in Tabletalk magazine (January 1, 2004). Used by permission.



Life Action Church Events can help your church move

forward by faith, inspiring your people to say yes to God in fresh, unconventional ways. And these events are designed to help you, as a church leader, accelerate your

vision—to help you lay a deep foundation for lasting life change, community impact, and robust disciple making.



If we can’t trust God with our present circumstances, we are not likely to trust Him in any other set of circumstances.

atan wants to convince us that the only way we can ever be different is if our circumstances change. So we play the “if only” game:

• “If only we didn’t have to move . . .” • “If only we lived closer to my parents . . .” • “If only we had a bigger house . . .” • “If only we had more money . . .” • “If only my husband didn’t have to work so many hours . . .” • “If only I were married . . .” • “If only I weren’t married . . .” • “If only I were married to someone different . . .” • “If only I had children . . .” • “If only I didn’t have so many children . . .” • “If only I hadn’t lost that child . . .” • “If only my husband would communicate . . .” We’ve been deceived into believing we would be happier if we had a different set of circumstances. But the Truth is, if we’re not content within our present circumstances, we’re not likely to be happy in another set of circumstances. When she was in her fifties, nineteenth-century writer Elizabeth Prentiss learned that her husband would be taking a new job that required them to uproot from their home in New York and move to Chicago. The move meant leaving all their friends and posed a danger to her fragile health. In a letter to a friend, she wrote, We want to know no will but God’s in this question. . . . The experience of the past winter would impress upon me the fact that place and position have next to nothing to do with happiness; that we can be wretched in a palace, radiant in a dungeon. . . . Perhaps this heartbreaking is exactly what we need to remind us . . . that we are pilgrims and strangers on the earth.1

George Washington’s wife, Martha, expressed the same conviction in a letter written to her friend Mercy Warren: I am still determined to be cheerful and happy in whatever situation I may be; for I have also learned from experience that the greater part of our happiness or misery depends on our dispositions and not on our circumstances. We carry the seeds of the one or the other about with us in our minds, wherever we go.2 Centuries earlier, the apostle Paul learned that he could rejoice and be content in any circumstance because his joy and well-being were not dependent on his circumstances, but on the steadfast love and faithfulness of God and the condition of his relationship with God (Phil. 4:11–12). Elizabeth Prentiss, Martha Washington, and the apostle Paul all came to understood a life-changing Truth: we might not be able to control our circumstances, but our circumstances don’t have to control us. The truth is, we can trust a wise, loving, sovereign God to control every circumstance of our lives. Joy, peace, and stability come from believing that every circumstance that touches our lives has first been filtered through His fingers of love and is part of a great, eternal plan that He is working out in this world and in our lives. George Lewis Prentiss, ed., More Love to Thee: The Life and Letters of Elizabeth Prentiss (Amityville, NY: Calvary, 1994), 374. 2 Harry C. Green and Mary W. Green, “The Pioneer Mothers of America,” 1912, cited in Verna M. Hall, comp., The Christian History of the American Revolution: Consider and Ponder (San Francisco: Foundation of American Christian Education, 1988), 76. 1

Adapted from Lies Women Believe: And the Truth That Sets Them Free, copyright © 2001, 2018 by Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth, Revived Hearts Foundation. Published by Moody Publishers. Used with permission.

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth Revive Our Hearts Radio Host





What I’ve come to learn so far about my faith is Jesus never asked anyone to play it safe. We were born to be brave. There’s a difference

between playing it safe and being safe. A lot of people think playing

it safe and waiting for all the answers before they move forward is the

opposite of dangerous. I disagree. If our life and our identity are found

in Jesus, I think we can redefine safe as staying close to Him. Don’t get me

wrong. Playing it safe and waiting for assurances in our lives isn’t necessarily bad; it just isn’t faith anymore.







FAITH FRONTIER . . . usually involve risk and sacrifice; but those who venture that way likely wouldn’t categorize their lives in those terms. Rather, they experience the joys of seeing God provide, of living with daily purpose, and of believing that much greater things lie ahead.

A NEW VISION OF SUCCESS PETER AND MICHELLE DAVIS Our family had all the trappings of earthly success when God called us onto the faith frontier in 2006. We were raising our children in an affluent area of Ontario, managing the finances of a successful portfolio of companies for a local entrepreneur, and completely unaware that God had more in mind for us. When He called us to sell everything and give our lives to ministry, we did, despite many raised eyebrows and honest skepticism from friends. In 2010 our church hosted a Life Action Summit, which led to our joining the staff of Life Action Camp in Michigan. But that was only the beginning of a new frontier journey for us. As Canadians, we kept feeling burdened by the Lord to carry the Life Action message into Canada, and eventually we moved back to Ontario for this purpose. The liberating part for us is that, since we have stuck with God’s direction for our lives, even through some tough and unexpected transitions, we have had the privilege of seeing Life

Action Canada develop, and we’ve seen many lives impacted as a result! Our roles in the ministry allow us to use the talents we had developed professionally over many years in the business world, and also to stretch into new skill sets as well. We love “putting it all out there” for the kingdom, and we love getting up every day and doing our work for Christ. Peter Davis serves as National Director for Life Action Canada.

DOUBTING MYSELF, BUT NOT GOD ALEX LEE In 2017, God called my wife and me to move away from what was familiar and traditional, and to plant a church in the St. Louis area. I was 23. I had a lot of worry, actually, about announcing this calling to anyone. Once you say out loud that “God wants me to do this,” it’s not very easy to turn back!


I was led to the time in Acts 5 when Peter and John were standing before the Sanhedrin as underqualified, ordinary guys. And they boldly said, “We must obey God rather than men.” Later, Gamaliel told his fellow leaders that if something is God’s plan, it is best not to resist it. So, on that basis, we

Alex Lee has served as a worship leader and speaker for Life Action Camp, and he is now lead pastor of eChurch in Ballwin, Missouri.

started! Although, I confess I was still thinking, “Hey, I’m 23. Who is really going to follow me as their pastor?” I never really struggled much with doubting God, but I absolutely struggle with my ability to be a pastor, to serve and lead people, because I feel like such a mess. But by God’s grace we’re moving forward, and we’re excited about what God is doing in our young church. We just celebrated our first anniversary as a church family, and we’ve seen eight people saved, nine baptized, and seven become leaders—all age 25 or younger.

JOYFUL, RISKY LOVE A CONVERSATION WITH LIZA HARTMAN AND PATTY HAMILTON “That’s the second time my mower was stolen. I told the policeman that I would have just given it to them if they had asked!” My friend Patty beamed as she told the story. Learning that she lives alone in a needy area of South Bend, Indiana, I asked for a lunch date. Over bowls of soup in the local coffee shop, she just shared from her life; and I remember thinking, “I pray that I live this faithful of a life.” She’d say, “Liza, make sure you have extra hats and gloves on hand in the winter, because you’ll see children who are cold, and you’ll just want to pull a hat down over their head and wipe their snotty nose.” Or, “They need to know that you love them, and even more, that you like them and enjoy spending time with them.” She laughs as she tells stories of picking up hitchhikers—not always, just when she feels led to. No fear at all. No thought of herself whatsoever. It’s unimaginable to her that people would withhold love from someone based on what they look like. Or that we would show more love to someone in a suit than to someone with tattered clothes. I put my soup spoon down, starting to understand why Patty is incorrigibly joyful. Apparently this verse applies to the total sum of one’s life:

to tell you that it’s only in response to being loved by Jesus. Maybe a modern-day Hebrews 11 would look something like this . . . “By faith, Patty considered her life safe in Christ and gladly risked it to love her neighbor as herself.”

Liza Hartman has served as Art Director for Revive magazine and is now moving to the Middle East to minister among refugees.

Patty Hamilton serves in Data Processing at Life Action’s National Ministry Center in Michigan.

Give, and it will be given to you. Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For with the measure you use it will be measured back to you (Luke 6:38). Patty uses a big measure as she gives away her life in a lessthan-flashy corner of South Bend. And she would be the first


BY RICH LEE “Three, two, one . . .” For so many of life’s great events, this countdown of anticipation stirs imagination! For me, it also represented the ultimate achievement after years of education, preparation, and envisioning my future. Hearing this countdown from the flight deck of a spacecraft was my career goal, and by 2001 I was well on my way. I became a follower of Christ at a young age, and people would often tell me things like, “God is going to use you in ministry someday!” I was not resistant to that idea, but I never sensed a call to pursue vocational ministry. My eyes were looking up—at the sky, at the space beyond it—the ultimate “final frontier” for humanity. God seemed to be blessing my steps toward becoming an astronaut. Not long after high school graduation, I earned my private pilot’s license. I then graduated from Missouri S&T and was given a Graduate Research Assistantship, an honor normally the outcome of stiff competition, but uniquely offered to me. During that time, an opportunity came along to serve part time in a local church, teaching youth and leading music while I finished up my education. I thought it would be a fun and fulfilling short-term job (although my wife had an immediate sense that we would be headed into full-time vocational ministry). Little did I know, it would serve as the first step into a career path about as far from rocket science as I could imagine . . . and we caught our first glimpse into the bigger future God had in mind for us. During the spring of 2001, it was down to the wire. I had one semester remaining, and I was in the home stretch. Dreams of visiting the International Space Station, or even landing on Mars, filled my heart. 26

But there was a another dream forming as well—a calling, more precisely—to lay aside all my own plans for the future and to genuinely trust God for daily bread, direction, and vision. One evening, while attempting to complete an advanced acoustics homework assignment, I was suddenly unable to write even the most basic formula to begin the solution. I initially shrugged it off as extreme tiredness (we had two children under the age of two, a full course schedule, and a growing ministry at the church). As I prayed for strength to continue into the night, I received a challenge instead: “Are you ready to start living what you’ve been teaching?” What was I not living? From my perspective we already had a faith walk. The question in my soul became stronger and more specific, akin to what Jesus said to Levi at his tax collector booth: “Will you trust Me enough with your family and future to cease your coursework and career path for the sake of following Me completely?” I knew what I had to do: drop my remaining classes and start earnestly seeking God. I finished the semester in the laboratory in order to allow my advisor to select a replacement for me, but the countdown for me as an astronaut had stopped just short of “LIFTOFF.”

On to Eternal Frontiers

What followed was nineteen years of church ministry, during which time I had many, many people ask the obvious question: “So, how do your education and your vocation align?” At the risk of over-spiritualizing lofty goals, I often responded, “My sights have just shifted

even farther out, from extra-terrestrial to heavenly.” There have been moments along the way when my thoughts have wandered to the “what ifs,” but those have increasingly become fewer and farther between. God’s faithfulness has constantly overtaken the inevitable doubt, frustration, disappointment, and uncertainty we have experienced on this journey. Were we living by faith during that time? Yes. But God had even more in store, which has only become clear more recently. As on any frontier, unexplored territory always lies ahead. For our family, the call came to join Life Action Ministries . . . and that has resulted in everything from our family living in a travel trailer moving from church to church on the speaking team, to assisting at Life Action Camp in Michigan, to taking on various leadership roles within the ministry, to writing for Revive. My whole family counts it an amazing privilege to encourage people all across the world to say yes to God’s unique call on their lives—to fix their eyes on things much further above. Being a part of the Life Action family is a calling higher than any booster rocket could have taken me, and I look forward with great anticipation to what lies beyond. What’s out there, just past the horizon? What is the next “yes” God has for me, and for you, that could change the trajectory of our lives and lead us to exciting new places? Maybe it’s time to find out.

Rich Lee now serves as the Executive Administrator at Life Action’s National Ministry Center in Buchanan, Michigan.


APT: 2.8 ATM: 14.696 psi

Oxygen level: Stable



A Woman Who Says

to God

by Donna Avant


y four-year-old granddaughter, Addy, was intently playing in her room. She heard her daddy calling her from downstairs, “Addy, come downstairs. We need to go.” Addy was in her own little world of imagination, interacting with her dolls. She didn’t want to be interrupted. She was very content to stay in her comfortable room. She yelled down to her daddy, “No!” Her daddy was a little shocked that Addy boldly refused to obey him. He called again with a little bit more intensity. The full-name approach. “Addison Faith Daniel, I said come down here now.”


Addy, still enjoying her own world, did not want to move. She again yelled, “No!” At this moment, her daddy marched up the stairs and opened the door to her bedroom to find his daughter sitting on the floor with her dolls all around her. “Addison, what did you just say to me?” In Addy’s mind, she knew she couldn’t say NO to her father again. With her big brown eyes focused on her daddy, she said, “No—ah, like Noah in the Bible!” Addison is a smart little girl who manipulated biblical knowledge to say no to her earthly daddy.

So many times I am content in my own little world, when God calls my name to obey Him in a certain area for His kingdom purposes. Often I even use biblical knowledge to rationalize my “no,” just like Addy. When we choose to say yes to God in any area of life, God will be faithful to us and use it to enlarge His kingdom. In Joshua 2 we meet a woman named Rahab. Rahab was a single woman, the owner of a house of prostitution and a prostitute herself. Her home was on the city wall and most likely overlooked the surrounding country. Although Rahab’s choice of careers was acceptable among the pagan culture of her time, I believe she was at a point of desperation. Her life seemed like a dead end. I imagine her sitting on a window seat thinking to herself, “There just has to be more to life than this.” When we become desperate, we are more likely to take risks. As long as I am comfortable and content, it is easy to say no. Rahab took a huge risk one day. According to Hebrews 11:31, she welcomed two men who were spies from Israel into her home. Rahab was fully aware that these two Jewish spies were in Jericho to strategize the demise of her city. The English Standard Version says she gave them “a friendly welcome,” and the New King James says she “received the spies with peace.” By welcoming the spies into her home, she was committing treason. She was putting her life, the lives of her family, and her business in danger.

When we become desperate,we are more likely to take


she had heard of was the One True God—her Creator. She was desperate enough to risk her entire livelihood to be obedient to Elohim. How do you respond to interruptions? Do you see them as tools the Lord may use to accomplish a kingdom purpose? Months ago, I was driving down the road and saw a young woman dressed in nice jogging attire sitting on the sidewalk throwing up. I was in a very nice part of Knoxville, Tennessee, where I live. I clearly heard the Lord whisper to me, “Donna, stop and check on her.” I quickly used every rational argument I could think of to say no to God . . . from “I’m too busy; I have a speaking engagement tonight I need to prepare for” to “This could be dangerous!” I passed her by and finally bargained with the Lord to turn the car around and go back. If she was still there, I would stop; if not, I would be off the hook. She was still there. I had to risk it. I had to choose to welcome the interruption peacefully. I had to choose obedience. That day I met Julie. Julie had gone for a run and gotten ill. She needed a ride back home. She also needed to be reminded that God is sovereign and that He loves her and has a plan for her life. She confessed to being a follower of Christ but not currently walking with Him. Julie even showed up at the speaking engagement I had that night! My job was not to change Julie’s life. My job was to say yes to God and speak love and truth into her life at that moment. Rahab’s job was not to change the world (although her choice of obedience did lead to world change by becoming an ancestor of Jesus Christ). Her job was to be obedient to the Lord and peacefully welcome the spies’ interruption into her home. She was placing her new faith in the One True God. Are you desperate today? Or are you content to sit in your own little world entertaining yourself? If you are desperate, be ready for God to interrupt your life. He is seeking men and women who are willing to welcome interruptions and say yes to Him. Who knows what your “yes” will lead to?

Donna Avant is a teacher, speaker, and author with a passion to share God’s Word with women and girls.

However, Rahab peacefully welcomed this risky interruption because she was ready for the One True God to shake up her life. In Joshua 2:11, Rahab said she had heard of what the Lord had done—dried up the Red Sea and conquered other kingdoms. Rahab used the word Elohim for God in this passage. Elohim is the Creator God. She had decided that this god






Begin Your Faith Adventure

Today is the best day to begin your adventure of faith! □ I have said yes to God by trusting in Jesus to be my Lord and Savior. □ I am prepared to move into the next faith frontier God has in mind for me. □ I have surrendered every area of my life to God.

Which of the five Faith Frontier principles (pages 6–13) best represents a next step I need to focus on in my personal life, family, or church? □ Taking a RISK for God; breaking out of a boring, “safe” life □ RELOCATION by faith; moving from human vision to God’s vision □ Trusting God for RESOURCES instead of trusting my own wisdom □ Working on team RELATIONSHIPS; sharing mission together with others

The last time I took a bold step of faith to do something for Christ was when I _____________________________________ ______________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________

□ Pressing forward with RESOLVE; offering God a fresh yes every day Regarding the category checked above, I will ask _________ ___________________________ to pray for me and hold me accountable to take next steps in this area.

When I took that step of faith, the results were: ______________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________

My top three fears regarding what God might ask me to do on the frontier involve: 1) ___________________________________________________ 2) ___________________________________________________ 3) ___________________________________________________

In Psalm 96, I find these ten reasons to enthusiastically trust God: ______________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________

Below, I’m listing a few people around me who are good examples of living by faith. I’ll plan to have a conversation this month with one of them, about how he or she makes faith-based decisions: ______________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________



It is time for us as believers to live New Testament, risk-taking lives for the sake of Christ’s kingdom.

iving with sharks. Diving with sharks with my fourteenyear-old son. Diving in cenotes (freshwater caverns in Mexico). Trips to countries where people are murdered for their faith. Some say I am an adrenaline junkie, an adventurer, or a risk taker. My wife usually just says I’m crazy. Taking risks for a pleasure like scuba diving is fun. Taking risks for Christ may be costly, but for many it is a way of life. On a trip to the Middle East to encourage persecuted believers, I met a man I will call Haseem. He is a leader for Christ in that area, an evangelist. Haseem told me the way he shares his faith is by lifting his shirt and showing people the seven bullet hole scars in his chest that he has received for sharing his faith. He risks his life every day to share the love of Christ with others. But the world I come from is different. In the West, we’ve yet to face anything like what Haseem experiences as a daily reality. And despite our relative “safety,” I’d say the American church is struggling—not because of persecution, but because of apathy. Many of our churches are in decline, wondering if they should die a slow death sticking with past traditions or retool themselves for a new generation of ministry. Most churches are seeing people less involved, less committed, and less motivated than in past years. The changes to fix these downward trends are risky! It would be easier, from an earthly viewpoint, to stop taking on new challenges and to just keep things the way they are in our churches. As I travel across North America in my new role at Life Action, most


pastors I meet are discouraged and fearful. Many people in their congregations (usually the older, wealthier ones) want to keep things the same or return to the “good old days.” Yet, that’s so opposite of all God has called us to do. All over God’s Word, we find people who were “pioneers” for the faith. Men and women who were willing to say yes to living “risky” lives in order to increase the kingdom of God. In Acts 21, Paul was saying goodbye to believers in Syria after being warned in prophecy not to go to Jerusalem. However, he was determined to go anyway. The same warning happened again in Caesarea, and the local believers begged Paul again to change his plans. Then Paul answered, “What are you doing, weeping and breaking my heart? For I am ready not only to be imprisoned but even to die in Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus” (Acts 21:13). People who say yes to God often find themselves in these circumstances. From an earthly perspective, Paul’s friends made a lot of sense. “Paul, you are crazy. This is too risky. There are plenty of other places to minister without the threats of prison and death. We need you here with us!” They had the same unwritten core value that, sadly, many of our churches have adopted—risk avoidance. People who say yes to God often have to say no to the comforts of this world, the desire for security, and the safe, popular path. Instead, they choose to be pioneers, to push onward, to live

on the edge. They assume there is a frontier ahead that God wants them to forge into, even without a guarantee of safe passage.

People who say yes to God often have to say no to the comforts of this world, the desire for security, and the safe, popular path. It is time for the North American church to walk out of our comfort zone. It is time for us as believers to live New Testament, risk-taking lives for the sake of Christ’s kingdom. There is too much at stake. Like . . . our future.

John Avant President







P.O. Box 31 Buchanan, MI 49107



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