Recently, I had the honor to speak on behalf of Mission OKC at a gathering of Christian women in Edmond, Okla. Also speaking at the luncheon was a man, named Ross Alan Hill, founder and former president and CEO of the Bank2 in downtown Oklahoma City.
After sharing the heart of our ministry for my portion of time, it was Mr. Hill’s turn to give his testimony. This man, now in an enviable position of influence and esteem, shared about the brokenness he experienced throughout his life. He shared openly about his failures and how he found a new life after turning from the world and following Jesus.
I was inspired by his testimony, but the part of his story that sticks with me was about a pastor, who befriended him as a young man. Growing up, Mr. Hill was a failing student from a broken home living in poverty, but the pastor of his church mentored him. When it came time for Ross to graduate high school, he knew, since he had failed the entrance exams, there would be no future for him to go on to college. However, his pastor and mentor showed Ross favor, walked him into the administrator’s office of the local college, where the pastor vouched for Ross’s character. It was on his recommendation that Mr. Hill attended and later graduated college.
The genuine care and concern of that pastor toward this seemingly insignificant young man has resulted in a life changed for the better, benefitting our community and building the Kingdom. When introduced, the most notable achievement spoken of on behalf of Mr. Hill was that he has shared his personal testimony of how Jesus has changed his life with the more than 2,200 employees, customers and every first-time visitor at his office.
In Phil. 2:19-21, Paul is writing to the church. His heart is heavy with concern for their spiritual wellbeing. Paul expresses how badly he would love to personally visit them, but he was in chains for the preaching of the Gospel. In his stead, he was planning, by the leading of the Holy Spirit, to send Timothy. “For I have no one like him, who will be genuinely concerned for your welfare. For they all seek their own interests, not those of Jesus Christ,” Paul stated
I don’t know what the field of up-and-coming ministers and notable Christian pop personalities looked like in Paul’s time, but to hear him talk, as if he is surveying the field in his own mind, wondering whom he might send to minister to the church in his stead, Paul wasn’t most concerned about their level of education, their attractive presentation or whether they have built a good “brand.”
The number one quality he was considering was, “Whom among these ministers can I trust to genuinely CARE for the people? Who among them will put the needs of the people first in the way Jesus calls us to? Who will serve? Who will listen and show humility? Whom can I trust not to harm or take advantage of the people?”
The breakdown in ministry comes when we overlook the seemingly insignificant people of whom Jesus has sent us to care, and instead, try to land the “Big Fish.” Everyone would love to have a church full of healed saints, who are the movers and shakers, the dealmakers of the town. The truth is, people in need of rescue are seldom in flattering positions. Every healed person was once lost and broken until Jesus made them whole. A worthy servant is willing to faithfully serve and care for the least, the last and the lonely.
As we invest in the lives of those around us, the Kingdom will grow, and we will share in their legacy of faith.
I am challenged as I wonder, would Paul be able to recommend me? Would he be able to say of me, as he said of Timothy, “She has proven worth as a servant of the Gospel. She genuinely seeks the welfare of others”?
May this be the standard we, as disciples, follow, so many more Ross Alan Hills will find the love of Jesus, live for Him and change their world.
A full day went by, and my prayer had gone unanswered. It was an important prayer too. I knew for sure, that since I had expressed to God how dire our situation was, since I had cried out to Him in all sincerity, practically begged, I KNEW He was obligated to answer my prayer. This prayer, He had to answer it. Still, a full day went by, and His only response was silence.
No dramatic change in our situation.
No sign from God, just silence.
Life was still going on, and I couldn’t hide from it, so I dragged myself out of the house to take care of responsibilities. My drive time is usually when I converse with God. It feels like He takes advantage of the time when I’m strapped to a seat, eyes straight ahead, to get my attention. That’s when He talks and I listen.
I had to slow down to let a car into the lane in front of me. It was a banged up green Toyota with barely enough room to slip into my lane. I eased on the gas and tapped my breaks, and that’s when I noticed his custom license plate. It read, “HVFAITH.”
On this day that my prayers had gone unanswered, in this moment where I’m being driven more out of worry and fear than faith, God seems to be sending me a clear message.
Could it be? After all the time on my knees, that God is sending a trashed out, however clever, green Toyota to send me a message that if I’ll just “keep on keeping on” everything is going to be okay?
In that moment, with just me and God in the car, I thanked Him out loud. I thanked Him because my hope and the source of my strength is not anchored to the tailgate of a green Toyota. It is anchored in the person of Jesus Christ, His death burial and resurrection. His Word has the final authority on all things in my life, and in His Word He has promised good to me. Even when I can’t see a sign, I am to trust Him completely.
Recently, I read a spiritual blog where a mother wrote about how she explained to her son her interpretation of Biblical instruction concerning sexual immorality. She said she explained to her adolescent son that while the Bible is a great book and full of truth, it’s also old and has been tampered with by interpreters who had political intentions. This is why, she explained, that in their household they would not allow the Word of God to have authority on the matters of sexual purity or the role of women in culture and society.
And in what other areas will we pick and choose to obey Scripture? What guide will her son use, then, as instruction for life? How will he have any assurance as he strives to walk by faith? What text then would you suggest to him as he grows spiritually? Surely you wouldn’t instruct your son to ignore the psalmist who wrote, “How can a young man keep his way pure? By guarding it according to your word. With my whole heart I seek you; let me not wander from your commandments” (Psalm 119:9-10).
If we choose to uproot the authority of Scripture from our lives, then we are left chasing bumper stickers. Along with all its Divine instruction, the Word of God offers to us hope. Hope that there is more to this life. It leads us to the source of eternal life and transforms our minds with Godly wisdom. Without it, we are only as inspired as our Instagram feed and growing roots too shallow to sustain fruitful spiritual growth.
By the time I had arrived at my destination, I realized that, though my prayer had gone unanswered, I still have reason to rejoice. I thanked Him because He is still worthy of praise despite my circumstance. He is still good when I’m having a bad day, and He is giving me the greatest gift we can obtain from Him on this earth, wisdom and understanding.
“Therefore as you have received Christ Jesus the Lord, walk in Him, rooted and built up in Him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness” (Col. 2:6).
I guess you could say I’m a little “fired up” by a post that I read this morning. It was in response to the recent Josh Duggar situation. Disclaimer: I never watched the show, but was familiar with the premise. As the many infidelities of Josh have been brought out into the light and exposed, it is his wife who has now become the object of ridicule. It’s interesting to me that while the upheaval in their marriage and family is a result of worldly values being played out, it is the traditional values held by the Duggar family and his wife that are now under scrutiny.
In a recent viral post, written by a woman named Jessica Kirkland, she proclaimed the following, “We HAVE to teach our daughters that they are not beholden to men like this. That they don’t have to marry a man their father deems acceptable and they stay married to that man long, long after he proved himself UNACCEPTABLE,” She went on to say, “As for my girls, I’ll raise them to think they breathe fire.”
It is her last sentence that is being celebrated by women all over Facebook land, and it is the last sentence I take issue with. I read it over and over trying to figure out “What good does she think she is doing? How does it empower our daughters to fill their heads full of false confidence?” The last thing this world needs is more fire breathers.
Instead, I would argue, this world is desperately in need of women and men who are living their lives in such a way as to proclaim the true Word of God. We need more husbands to lead with faithful hearts and devotion. We need men who will guard the thresholds of their hearts and homes, warding off the sin that crouches in wait to destroy the peace and sanctity within.
We need women who are walking fearlessly with their hope in a living God, whose hearts are anchored in His word. We need women to courageously persevere in the work of homemaking and next generation-shaping, women who daily wage battle through prayer for the souls of their children, who protect the hearts of their husband and influence the current culture by the way they walk in patience and kindness.
Here’s what I’ll tell my daughter, “Draw near to God, learn His word, live by it, grow in it because He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.” (Heb. 11:6)
Some might say, “How can this be? Anna Duggar was being faithful and obedient. Where is her reward? Her life has been destroyed!” As a Christian, my hope is rooted in the knowledge that this world is not all there is. God’s Word tells us, that this world will pass away, and one day we will all come before the throne of God for an examination. On that day, in the presence of the Holy One, we will all be in the same humiliating predicament as Josh Duggar. Exposed! Completely. Exposed.
On that day, any false confidence we have instilled in our children will fail. But our daughters, our sons who have put all their faith in Jesus will have an advocate to plead their case against the merciless accuser, Satan. And no matter how weak and victimized they may seem to be here on earth, the faithful will be rewarded by the most Faithful One.
It is my prayer for our children that they will find all their purpose and confidence in the person of Jesus Christ and they will face the challenges of this world knowing that they belong to Him forever.
“The soul that on Jesus has leaned for repose
I will not, I will not desert to its foes;
That soul, though all hell should endeavor to shake,
I’ll never, no never, no never forsake!”
How Firm A Foundation – George Keith