Never say Never – the New Year is coming!

Paul Clark

 “Fear looks – Faith jumps!” (Smith Wigglesworth)

“Don’t determine what God can do by looking at what you can’t do.” (John Lindell)

„20 years ago, I sat in front of the Central Bible School Library talking for hours with my girlfriend Laura, who today is my wife. I told her then, there are three things I do not plan on doing. One, I probably will not return to Europe. Two, I will not pastor a church and three, I will never plant a church. I should have also said, I do not want to be a millionaire.” These “unprophetic” words were spoken recently by my son Mike during Sunday worship service, after it was announced that he would be following me as pastor of the Bregenz, Austria church plant.

Hearing Mike’s statement, brought me flash backs as a 20-year-old college student, recalling Howard Foltz the director of Europe Teen Challenge, constantly attempting to recruit me as a worker. After about three or four “pleading” letters (does anyone remember what a letter is?) I wrote: “O.k., I will just make a one-year commitment.” That one-year commitment turned out to be over 4 years of incredible work with Teen Challenge, that resulted in a lifetime calling to serve German speaking Europe. Oh, by the way, as a college freshman, I continually complained as students do, about wasting my time taking German.

I am sure many of us have had this same type of experience. One pastor told me, “I am so glad that God saved me from many of the things I said that I would not do in my youth.”

As we stand before a new decade, it is imparative that we expect with God’s help to do new things that we have never undertaken before. It makes no difference if we thought we will never do this or that, or maybe we are looking at a totally new ministry opportunity. I believe God wants you and me to personally take steps of faith to accomplish the great works God has intended, according to his purposes. (Epheser 2,10)  Cary Nieuwhof’s article titled  “7 Risks Every Leader Should Take,” hits the nail on the head concerning taking new steps of faith.

We dare never forget, that we walk by faith and not by sight. Moving forward in faith requires intentionally taking small steps as well as large steps. The faith walk is everything other than passivity.

Rusty Railey writes: “Goliath didn’t fall until David picked up the stone and threw it. Gold coins didn’t appear until Peter went fishing. Water didn’t come until Moses struck the rock. The walls of Jericho didn’t fall until the Israelites marched around them. Peter did not walk on the water until he got out of the boat. Do you see the pattern? Faith requires action.

Here we see a pattern. True faith equals action. You and I will never begin a new chapter in our life or ministry, as long as we, over and over, keep reading the same old chapters. Humans are funny creatures! We always want situations and circumstances to improve and be different, and ironically, we want things to stay the same. Quite honesty, leaders too have difficulty dealing with change and new ministry circumstances.

It was never easy for me to come home and discover that my wife, all on her own, without my permissions, had moved all of our furniture around. My thoughts were, and still are, everything looks great the way it is and should stay that way until the rapture. But looking back in hindsight, the steps Mechthild took, brought about more pleasant looking living room

Let’s never forget, when we think about our own lives, as well as the church we serve, that God brought us to this point, for such a time as this. It is not a coincident that you are at your (his) church. God always begins His work with “where we are” and “what we have.” We don’t have to wait that someone else will show up from somewhere else with all the answers. We just need to move out. Too often we are plagued by negative past experiences that seriously damper our present existence. I can’t change my past but there are a load of changes I can make concerning my future

“Often, stepping outside your comfort zone is not careless irresponsibility, but a necessary act of obedience.” (Andy Stanley)

Think about it, you and I, have not planned out the detailed course of our calling or ministry, but God through his mercy and grace, has brought us step by step to where we are today. I love the words of Samuel spoken to the people of Israel. “Thus far the Lord has helped us.” (1 Samuel 7,12b)

Say always yes to God’s plan!  Don’t let the dream die that God has given to you and your church!

“…being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 1:6)

I want to wish you and your family a blessed Christmas and an incredible start in 2020!

Paul Clark