Monday, January 26, 2009

Jake's Thought for the Week

-Jim Elliott-
TAKE GREAT RISKS. I met Tom Randall in 1976. I remember him as a blur on the basketball court. We were both preparing to go overseas on the evangelistic basketball teams – he to the Philippines, I to South America. The difference between us was that Tom had led the nation in scoring for the NAIA at Judson College. He was six four, he could run like a deer, and it seemed like he never got tired.
Tom was from inner-city Detroit. He talked with a funny accent and seemed kind of crazy. He had only been a Christian for a few months before going to the Philippines to share Christ, but he returned a different man. He later passed up the opportunity to tryout with the Chicago Bulls so he could respond to God’s call to return the Philippines and build a ministry. To prepare himself financially, he worked in the factories of Detroit, and then he sold all that he had and left. Now almost thirty years later; a mission organization has been established (World Harvest Ministries), orphanages have been built, and tens of thousands of people have responded to the gospel.
The key to Tom’s success has nothing to do with theological education or “playing by the rules.” Tom is a risk-taker. Whenever he has heard God’s voice, he has responded with reckless abandon. I’ve been in a Jeep with Tom, with a machine gun pointed in my face, listening to him explain that his friend, “the General,” would be quite upset if we were unable to get to the village where we were scheduled to play. I’ve been on the back of a motorcycle with Tom weaving in and out of traffic, wondering if I would survive the experience. I have more Tom Randall stories than you can shake a stick at, and they all have two things in common: risk and faith.
Tom left for the Philippines thirty years ago with a Living Bible, no formal Bible training, a big heart, and a desire to love a needy people who touched him deeply. In one summer, God turned the leading scorer in the nation for NCAA Division II basketball into a risk-taking, sports missionary whose biography would read like the Indiana Jones of Christendom. He’s known as crazy, wild man inflamed with the love of Christ (who, these days serves as the chaplain for the senior PGA tour). Tom takes great risks, and he has experienced amazing story after amazing story.
Tom’s life has raised some important questions for me: Why does God use some people a lot more than others? Why do some people exclude the presence of God and have supernatural experiences? And why do some Christians seem to be in a special category while the rest of us live regular lives?
I want to suggest that every Christian’s life is marked by windows of opportunity that demand a radical step of faith in order to follow Christ and fulfill his purposes for their life. The difference between good and great is not a matter of knowledge or pedigree but of a willingness to take a radical step of faith.
What makes a step of faith radical is that it will always involve significant risk. In nearly every aspect of your relationship with him, the Lord will bring you to the edge of a decision at which point you’ll have to decide whether to leap in the direction he’s calling you or pull back to a place that seems safe. That was the issue with Jewish believers when the letter of Hebrews was written, and the writer motivated them with the truth that without faith, it’s impossible to please God (Heb. 11:6). Where there is no risk, there is no faith.
(This is an excerpt from the book 'Good to Great in God's Eyes' by Chip Ingram.)

Go Attack,
Jake Sullivan

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