Most of the time… I hate crisis! Usually a crisis is crushing and physically if not emotionally exhausting! The Scriptures are clear that, while I may desire to run from a crisis like a six-year-old runs from broccoli, as a servant of Christ crises in my life and ministry often cannot be avoided! The good news is that, when responding rightly to crises, they can actually be spiritually, emotionally and even physically good for me. Nevertheless… I still don’t like crisis! In my flesh, I’d rather be comfortable. Here’s a newsflash you probably already know: all of us will face crises on a regular basis. We face them in finances, occupation, family, marriage, church life and health. In the oldest book of the Bible, Job notes that man is born to trouble and given to adversity, pointing out that the reality of trouble is as common and dependable as sparks flying upward from a campfire (Job 5:7). Ephesians 1:11 explains that God has planned out the details of our lives and that He uses those details consistent with His providential plan in making us more like His Son. Included in His plan is… crisis! An implication here is that, as hard as you and I might try to avoid it, these times of personal chaos and threat are simply unavoidable! So if we can’t avoid it (and surely we can’t!) it is important to consider how God would have us face it.
Twenty-five years… WOW! It doesn’t seem possible. During this first quarter century the Lord has taken us through a whirlwind of blessed opportunities to build in the lives of ministry leaders all around the world. It is fitting at this juncture for me to consider how my remaining time in IBL can best be invested.
In 1 Corinthians 16:8-9 Paul informs the Corinthians of his decision to remain for a time at Ephesus, “But I will stay in Ephesus until Pentecost, for a wide door for effective work has opened to me, and there are many adversaries.” When Paul arrived in Ephesus, he found approximately twelve disciples. After he baptized them in the name of Jesus, he taught boldly in the synagogue for three months. He then remained for two full years as God accomplished mighty things through him: healings, exorcisms, rampant confessions and repentance, and numerous professions of faith. Extraordinary miracles were occurring. The Name of the Lord Jesus was being magnified and the Word of God grew mightily and prevailed. Such is a “…wide door for effective work…” It’s exciting, isn’t it?
In preparing our recent issue of our newsletter, Side-by-Side, I had the opportunity to review literally hundreds of photos of IBL’s twenty-five years of ministry to thousands of leaders across the U.S. and around the world (one of my favorites is shown at the left). Since my own personal involvement with IBL dates from 1994— when Russ came to the church I attended in upstate New York to facilitate us in a long-range planning process—many of these photos brought back wonderful personal memories of God’s work in my churches and in the lives of my friends. While the photos prior to 1994 did not connect to my personal memories, they did bring to life the many stories Russ has shared with me about the various challenges faced by leaders over the years and how God used His Word, practically applied, to bring hope, clarity, direction, and vision. What a blessing to see His faithfulness!
I’ve been on the job five months here at IBL-West, serving as the Regional Coordinator. I love the people, the culture and ministry here in the West. My region is vast. It stretches from Montana to New Mexico to the west coast and also includes Alaska and Hawaii. I love leaders in this “zone.” Ministry leadership is tough everywhere, but in the West you need to have a type of “pioneer mentality” to succeed in ministry. I also love the variety in this region: many different cultures are represented in the West, presenting a host of ministry challenges.
“Remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt,
and the Lord your God brought you out…”
My grandfather sexually abused my mother as she grew up. He committed suicide in the county jail, leaving his family destitute. My widowed grandmother met a man with no room for children. Within a month, my mother turned seventeen, graduated, and married, and then her mother married and moved away.