Excerpt from My Upcoming Book

Sometimes, like Abraham, you have to leave Ur before you can see Canaan.

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I am almost finished with the book I promised months ago. It will be available on Amazon in January. It is a book about dreaming, failing, persevering, friendship, and seeing the unthinkable. The book consists  of my journal entries over the past three years. It chronicles my journey (and my family’s) from pastoring, becoming extremely unsettled, walking way from jobs with nothing on the horizon, moving to Washington, and then ending up where we are now. It is very raw and honest and quite often feels like a roller coaster. Depression, fear, anger, and other emotions marked the path.

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My heart is to encourage people to follow Christ into the unknown places that he is calling. Sometimes, like Abraham, you have to leave Ur before you can see Canaan. Frequently, God only gives you bits and pieces. He wants trust. He is jealous over your trust. He hides information so that in the end, you must look into his eyes and take the leap because his “yes” trumps the pending uncertainty.

The following excerpt is from September 1st, 2015. After pastoring for over 10 years, this was my first full day after stepping away. Yet, no door had opened.

“…this means that there is now nothing for the Fall. Now what? We have believed that it was Fall all along. I gave up both jobs. I am so far behind in academics because of the years that you had me pastor. And now, you are going to drag your feet and toss aside a semester of my life? I was hoping with all of my heart that you were going to show me great favor and even accelerate this part of my calling. I “feel” so far behind academically, yet you are not allowing me to move forward. Nothing? No job, no income, and no philosophy? Nothing? And if you don’t open a door, how am I to see your face and be confident that you will speak when the reason we are where we are at is that we thought you did speak. It so looks as if we were wrong. Why are you going to waste me?”

I will keep you updated.

Guest Blog: Leslie James

Leslie James has been married to Ryan James for 11 years. They have three sons, Reed, Ross, & Tyler. She currently resides in Winnsboro, Texas and is “privileged” to serve as the Ladies Minister at Grace Fellowship Ministries in Winnsboro. You can follow her on Twitter @lesliejamesgang.

Leslie James

There is a decorative sign by my computer that reads, “Faith is not knowing what the future holds but knowing who holds the future.” Reading those words gives you the warm fuzzies, doesn’t it? Who doesn’t want to be that person? Someone who is so full of faith there is no questioning, no doubting, no fearing, no people pleasing problems, no worrying about what tomorrow holds because they trust the person holding their future that much. As disciples of Jesus Christ, that is the way we are to live. We are to trust in him and have that much faith so as to live our lives not afraid, but free in Christ to do the work he’s already prepared in advance for us to do. This sounds easy enough until trials and temptations and the demands of this world press down on us and we realize some things are easier to read than to actually live out. Take for example, James 1:2-4: “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. 4 Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”

Let’s be honest, the last thing you want to hear when your faith is being tested is “consider it pure joy.” Unlike the warm fuzzy feeling we get reading the chalkboard sign propped up on my desk, there is no such feeling present when trials of life darken our doorstep. When we are pressed, whether through sickness, death, a rebellious child, problems at work, or God calling us out to do things we can’t possibly do without having great faith, we find out what is truly on the inside. What we turn to during that time reveals where our true worship is. We tend to revert to what is comfortable instead of what is commanded in the scriptures. We were all into this “great faith” thing until something came along much bigger, much harder, and much deeper than we could possibly fathom.

What do you revert to when pressed? Is it frustration and anger or the need for the approval of man? Do you withdraw from everything and everyone? Is it alcohol, food, or drugs? If you will pay attention the next time you are faced with a trial you will realize your flesh is normally drawn first to something other than faith in God to see you through this. And though we may not want to hear the words “consider it pure joy,” James is trying to encourage us on. He’s trying to tell us to hang in there, don’t give in, let the work that has begun in you finish. Don’t try and stop the test. We normally are looking for the first exit out of trials that come our way and James is saying don’t. He’s telling us there is a greater you ahead if you will allow the perseverance process to refine your faith producing a stronger, more mature, unshakable believer.

I’m reminded of my son Tyler who was diagnosed with cerebral palsy at 18 months. He has been introduced to the perseverance process at a very early age. It is twice as hard for Tyler to walk, run, climb, jump, etc. compared to his brothers who don’t have the condition. Tyler also falls down twice as much and through the years he’s learned how to fall well. He’s come to understand that falling is a part of his life and though sometimes the fall hurts, it doesn’t mean he’s not going to get up and try again. He’s been tested with this every day of his life and I can only imagine how frustrating it must be at times. I wonder how he must feel when he can’t keep up with all the boys running around or when his little legs tire out and can’t carry him any further. If Tyler is angry, or bitter, or sad we wouldn’t know it because it seems he’s accepted this trial in a much more mature way than most adults without physical challenges accept the trials that come their way. When he falls, he gets back up and tries again most of the time with a smile on his face not begrudging the fall. He knows that staying on the floor is neither his destination or destiny. It’s not yours either!

So, I encourage you to get up and to keep getting back up. There’s a greater you in the future. Let perseverance finish its work so that you will lack nothing and be able to live out your life with great faith, unafraid of what the future holds because you know and trust who holds your future.