Editor’s note: The following panel discussion was held December 5th, 2018 at the Finishing the Task conference. The panel included Loren Cunningham, founder of YWAM; Paul Eshleman, founder of the JESUS Film Project; Rick Warren, founder of Saddleback Church; Amani Mustafa, host of The Muslim Woman; and Jimmy Siebert, founder of Antioch Ministries International.
Cunningham: I was thinking about one of the most difficult times in my life. It was a time I was bedridden; I couldn’t help myself. I couldn’t feed myself. I had to be carried. Little by little I started working neck muscles and other things. I was able to turn over – that was a big day. And the day I stood by the bed and held on and stood on my own feet – that was a day of great victory. I was about six months old at the time…some of you have had that experience.
Faith without works is dead. It’s like Bill Bright says. I had all my muscles, but I had to learn how to use them. There is a coordination between you and God. You walk with Him one step at a time and grow in your faith, which also has to be tested. That was a test for me back them – gravity – for me, still is. You have to have tests. The tests of faith are wonderful – after you’ve passed them.
Eshleman: As a 23-year-old I was going through the CRU training for new staff members and I suddenly realized I couldn’t find my new Cross pen my fiancé gave me. She was coming to visit and I didn’t have the pen. I was griping to my roommate and he said, “Why don’t you just pray?”
“I can’t pray about a Cross pen.”
“That’s all you’ve been talking about,” he said.
I got down by my chair. Lord, this seems really stupid, but if you could just tell me where the pen is.
As soon as I said the where, a thought came into my mind: Remember
the VW when you were taking your clothes to the laundry.
So I got dressed, walked outside the dormitory, found the guy’s car in the parking lot and pushed my hand down in behind the seats and it closed over that Cross pen.
Warren: Last week I lost my phone for a week. I was about ready to go buy a new one and I thought, I haven’t even prayed about this.
I prayed: Lord, I’m going to ask you to show me where this phone is.
After I finished praying, I thought I’m going to praise you. So I went over to the piano. Kay has a Grand piano. I started playing some praise songs and I looked up and there was the phone. Nothing happened until I started praising God. Then the answer was right in front of me.
I don’t think people realize the connection between fear and faith. If you are never afraid you don’t need any faith. Just do it. Faith comes in when you’re scared to death.
Every single major decision I’ve made at Saddleback Church I was scared to death to do and I did it anyway because I wasn’t going to let fear dominate my life. I’m going to trust God, not my feelings.
When I finished seminary I went into Kay and said, “You know babe, I think God’s calling us to move to California. I am thinking about starting a church with no members, no money, no building, I don’t know a single person there and I’ve never been a pastor. What do you think?
She did what you just did. She said, “You know what Rick, I believe in God. It scares me to death. But I believe in God and I believe in you, so let’s go for it.”
I’ve often wondered how would history have been different if my wife had said no. If my wife had not had faith there would be no Saddleback Church, no Purpose Driven movement, no PEACE plan, no Celebrate Recovery, no Purpose Driven Life, and all the rest, if she didn’t have the faith to do it.
I love the fact that she was scared, but had faith in God and in me, and we’ve never looked back.
Cunningham: Faith involves the dream of God, something that hasn’t existed yet, and you walk with Him into that by trusting Him.
Warren: All things that were not as if they were.
Siebert: I can’t help but think about us talking about our spouses. My wife’s dad was a partner with KPMG and he was an estate planner. When we were starting out, I said, “Why don’t we sell everything we own and move into the inner city.”
It was much more of a sacrifice for her as it was for me. We also had read George Mueller’s stuff on not asking anybody for anything but praying for everything. A YWAM group came through raising money. We said we wanted to house them, but we didn’t have any money. We had a $100 bill coming due the next day they were going to leave. We put them up and gave them a meal. That night he was talking to us about wanting to go to Brazil. He said he was believing God for $3000 and we just were taken up with it and wanted to be a part, but we had this $100 due the next day and we had $20 to our name.
We go in the kitchen and I said, “I really want to be part of it.”
My wife said, “What do we have to lose? We only have $20.”
So we gave them the $20. I said I was sorry we couldn’t do more. I said, “Would you bless this, God?”
So the next morning we went into the room where they stayed and there was a little note (that read): “God showed me that your need was greater than mine.”
He left us $100.
So little things like that encourage us to believe God for bigger things. I think that $20 mattered as much as when we were believing God for $2 million. Those little things are the first steps that ignite our faith for bigger things.
Cunningham: I think about Rom 10:17: Faith comes by hearing, hearing from the Word of the Lord.
We went to Switzerland and were told to start a school in Switzerland. So now we already had gone in and the school was going and bought our first property. This morning I was waiting on the Lord and I said, “Lord, what’s on your heart.”
He said, I want to give you a farm for YWAM.
I grew up mostly in L.A. and thought milk comes from cartons, not from animals. It just seemed so out of context. I said, Lord if that is really you, will you give me confirmation?
He spoke a book, a chapter, and a verse, so I looked it up: Faith without works is dead.
I found out the next day, Saturday, there was a farm being auctioned. So I went over to the auction and bought a roll of barbed wire and a milk can and a hay wagon. This was teaching me that united faith is more powerful than individual faith. So students came around and asked what the hay wagon was for.
On Monday morning they wondered what I was doing. I said, “God is going to give me a farm for YWAM.”
Finally a student asked, “You keep saying God is giving you the farm, what about us?”
“You haven’t heard from the Lord.”
“Can’t we hear from the Lord?” one said.
“Go seek him,” I said.
By Friday morning, I knew we were going to have a farm. JoJo went home and told her parents, “God is giving us a farm for YWAM and we bought a hay wagon in faith.”
There are times when you need unity in your faith, Matthew 18, when we come together with our faith something happens.
The father was a godly man but he was trying to caution her. He said, “There is presumption and then there is faith.
“No, we’re going to have it,” she said.
A few weeks later he was talking to a man who said, “I have this farm and God told me to give it to a mission. Do you know a mission that needs a farm?”
“YWAM! They bought a hay wagon in faith!” the father replied.
It was given to him to know that we were the right mission. He went to the farm and it used to be an orphanage. (They don’t have orphanages in Switzerland any more.) As I went through the place they had dormitories, classroom, a cafeteria, a great kitchen, all kinds of apple trees, it was a farm, but it is a place where we have trained several thousand francophone to go into the French speaking world.
That was a place God gave us that I didn’t know the end from the beginning, but I knew the next step I needed to take.
Warren: He’s talking about faith is obedience, doing what God tells you to do. Let me tell you a story about faith, not my faith, but how I benefited from someone else’s obedience.
When we started Saddleback we were dirt poor. We had no money. When we needed a vacation, Kay’s parents had a little trailer outside Flagstaff, Arizona sitting on a piece of land. So we drove up there for a week. I had a car that was about 25 years old, falling apart, an old station wagon, and we barely got there. We decided while we were there we would go up to the Grand Canyon. We got in the car and were driving up there on a road with nobody else on it. All of a sudden a cop car pulled up behind me and pulled me over. I thought, what have I done wrong?
He said, “Sir, your left rear tire is so bald it’s going to blow any second.”
“Where is the nearest tire place?”
“There isn’t any.”
“Where is a gas station?”
“There’s only one, about 30 miles up the road, but they’re not going to have anything.”
There was no place to turn around, so we kept going. We found the gas station and pulled in in the middle of nowhere. There was nobody around.I pulled in and was filling up my gas tank.
I asked the guy, “Do you have any tires?”
“No, we don’t have any tires.”
At the exact moment a car coming from the Grand Canyon pulled in on the other side. He came out and started filling his car. I noticed he had a Mississippi license plate.
I said, “Oh, you’re from Mississippi.” I struck up a conversation. “What do you do?”
“What do you do?”
“I’m actually a pastor.”
“Oh, I’m a deacon in a Baptist Church in Mississippi.”
“Where have you been?”
“We’ve been all the way to Seattle and now we’re coming back through Arizona and all the way back to Mississippi.”
I said, “Well, since you’re a Christian I’m going to ask you to pray for me. I have to get a tire.”
“Wait just a minute…let me check.”
He goes to the back of his station wagon and pulls out a tire that perfectly fits this car. He said, “When we were going to Seattle from Mississippi as I was going through Missouri, God said, I want you to buy this tire. It doesn’t even fit my car. I carried it on this entire vacation – a tire that doesn’t even fit my car. I got all the way to Seattle, went all the way to the Grand Canyon, and I just happened to pull in when a pastor needed a tire. I just have to give it to you.”
This story doesn’t make me a hero. The hero is the guy who said yes when God told him to buy a tire that didn’t even fit his car. That’s faith. Would you have enough faith if you were on vacation and God said to you to buy a tire in Missouri and carry it all the way to Seattle and bring it back to Arizona, and I’m not even going to tell you why you got it. That’s faith. Faith is obedience.
Cunningham: May I saw that God was the hero of that story.
Siebert: When I was in college I asked around to see if there was an older man that I could learn from. Somebody said do you know Brother Robert? He was in a Pentecostal denomination and had worked with Brother Andrew and gone in and out of the Iron Curtain and he had miraculous stories. He made himself available to some students for lunch. And they said you need to meet Sergio, the guy who serves lunch. I went over to his house and this guy from Mexico City, Sergio was helping.
He said, “When I was a little boy I had an accident and I died at five years old. At their home they had an open wake and it was the third day and Robert and his father showed up and my parents asked them to pray for me and I was raised from the dead.”
I had no church background, just Campus Crusade, which is more conservative. So I thought the guy serving me lunch was raised from the dead and Robert talks about God blinding the eyes of the officials so they could smuggle Bibles into Eastern Europe. So the universe of the impossible opened up like I couldn’t have even imagined. Mentors can open up the unseen realm, what can be, for our own lives and what God would have for us.
I fell in love with the church, believed God for the impossible, and the first place we planted a church was Siberia, a place he had prayed for all these years.
Eshleman: Sometimes the obstacles seem so great you don’t know where to begin. In 1972 I was asked by Dr. Bright to do a conference in Dallas for 100,000 people. I didn’t know what to do. I thought we would get churches to rent the Cotton Bowl and it began to really grow until there were no rooms left in Dallas. I called up Dr. Bright and I told him we were going down, I couldn’t find any more places.
He said, “What are your ideas?”
“I think we ought to find empty apartments.” So I ran this by some people and one of our biggest supporters said it was a terrible idea.
He said, “I own apartments and you can’t pay me enough to put 20 teenagers in each apartment, then I have to repaint.”
Well that was our idea. He called back and said, “We have 5000 apartments in Dallas but we won’t rent them to you unless you get insurance.”
SDS (Students for a Democratic Society) was big on the campus at that time and they were threatening to bomb the Cotton Bowl. We started calling insurance companies. Finally one guy said none of the companies would insure us, but he said he knew of one man I could call. I drove over to his office and the receptionist said he’s never here, he’s always out on the road…but wait a minute…that’s him standing in the hallway.
We went up and talked to him. He said, “I want to help you.”
He took us over to an underwriter and said, “I want you to underwrite however many apartments he needs and charge him $.50 a night for insurance, for $15,000 coverage.”
The underwriter said, “We can’t write a policy like that.”
“I’m telling you to write it, now you write it.”
What we didn’t know at the time is he had said, “I want to help you but I’m expecting a phone call right now and if it comes I am just hanging up.”
We found out later the phone call was from a doctor at a hospital as to whether his daughter would ever see again. She had had chemicals in a high school chemistry class thrown in her face so he was waiting to see if she could see. What we also didn’t know is that this man had four daughters. Nobody was a Christian in the whole family except for the youngest daughter who was asking to go to Explo 72 for her high school graduation. At that moment in history God just stepped in. People say, “How did you ever do that?” and I say it wasn’t me.
Warren: To last in ministry you will need four kinds of people: mentors, models, partners and friends. All four of these can build faith in your life. I’ve had nine mentors in my life who all taught me different things. I highly recommend your models be dead. If you look at a living model, you don’t know how their life is going to end up. I’ve met too many people modeling their life after someone who flamed out and then they didn’t have a model any more. Get live mentors and dead models.
Friends are people who walk into your life when everyone else walks out. If you’re a pastor or missionary you need a small group, where you are not the leader. I’m in a small group that’s been together 16 years. We’ve been through every kind of problem you can imagine: tax issues, cancer, suicide, jail, every kind of problem you can imagine.
Most of you know that five years ago my youngest son lost his battle with mental illness and took his life. When I went to that home with Kay and we hadn’t seen him for 24 hours and we were standing on the garage parking sobbing because we didn’t have a key to the house, fearful of what we prayed would never happen and worried that it might have happened. We were waiting for the police to come and break down the door. My wife and I were holding each other sobbing. Kay reached up and grabbed a necklace that had two birds on it with the title of a book she had just written called “Choose Joy.”
I thought, how do you choose joy when your heart is breaking in a thousand pieces, waiting for the police to come and tell you that you lost a son to mental illness.
Within 30 minutes my entire small group was on that driveway and they were there with me. They didn’t need to say anything. The women came and hugged Kay and the men hugged me. When you’re in crisis and worried about what you’re going to say, don’t say anything. A principle for pastors is: the deeper the pain, the fewer words you use. If you’re having a bad hair day you can talk all you want. But if someone loses a son, show up and shut up. It is the ministry of presence. They said they were not going to leave us alone that night. My entire small group said they would sleep at our house, in the kitchen and on the sofa, and they said we’re not leaving you alone. That’s what friends do. Do you have anybody like that in your life? Are you like that to anybody?
Cunningham: Darlene and I flew into (a restricted country) and we met with all kinds of leaders and the governor. There were 24 of our young people praying for the militants in the jungle and they were killing people and there was horrible stuff going on. The government tried to do things, capture them and take their guns, but in the process, these 24 went into the militant’s camp and said we want to serve you.
They said, “We do this in YWAM. We will cook for you and clean your camp if you will listen to us.”
During that summer after nine weeks 900 militants laid down their arms and came out. The students paid with the possibility of their lives. They said, “God said to love them and now go to them and show that love.”
Today there are 32,000 militants that have laid down their arms and have come out. It has been something, that a few had that faith.
It is the youth with a mission that have done great things. Our greatest joy and fulfillment is not the little fruitfulness we have had, but the multiplication. When we do that we begin to see something way beyond us all. The next generation stands on your shoulders, but your shoulders are narrow, so you can only have a few there.
Eshleman: Our faith is tested every day, whether we will resist temptation and follow what the Lord does. I want to encourage us not to wait for human solutions to our problems. It is our job to make a decision and God’s job to solve the problems.
Warren: Did you get this principle? Never confuse the problem-making phase with the decision-making phase. If you wait until all the problems are solved you will never make a decision. You have to make the decision in faith and then solve the problems. When John Kennedy stood up in 1963 at Rice University and said we are going to the moon, when he said that the technology had not even been invented yet. It was physically impossible to go to the moon, but he made the decision because it was the right thing to do. Then they spent all the rest of the time solving the problems. If you try to solve all the problems first, that’s not faith.
Eshleman: The great example is Moses. He would never have led the Hebrew people out of Egypt if he knew about the problem with the Red Sea. They made the decision and God solved the problem. Decide to begin even before you see the end. Ecclesiastes 11:4 says if you wait for perfect conditions you will never get it done.
Siebert: I was driving back from Mexico with a group of students and we were doing questions and answers. They asked, “What is the definition of faith?”
Without thinking I said, “It’s a lack of options.”
My wife Laura and I had a $100 and decided it was time to get into Afghanistan.
Cunningham: Is that that same 100 bucks you had before?
Siebert: We had three little kids and knew it was time to get into (a restricted country). We had a team in (a nearby restricted country) and we knew they would feed us even if we might sit there for a while. When we got to (the country) another guy comes to the airport and says I brought my friend with me and he said he had to meet you because he was in prayer this morning and God told him to come to the airport and whatever your needs are for the next leg of the trip he’s going to pay for.
It gave us great faith and was part of God opening the door for us to work in that country. We usually want enough of the outcome lined up to take the step. But faith has to be willing to live with the consequences even if it doesn’t happen. So when we live by faith we are willing to live with the consequences of this not happening. Usually you see the outcome in these dramatic stories. To not go for it is usually worse than not going for it.
Warren: If you are doing it in faith and love, you cannot be considered a failure no matter what the results are. The Bible says without faith it is impossible to please God. The Bible also says love never fails. If your motive is faith and love for God, you’re already a success no matter what the results are.
Make no small goals. Even if you don’t reach it, if you do it in faith and love in God’s eyes you are already a success. I have studied what makes a healthy and successful church. I have 40,000 books in my library and read a book a day. I have interviewed pastors and trained pastors all over the world. God uses all kinds of people and personalities. There is no success-kind of personality.
Is there one common denominator in every growing movement? Yes. It is leadership that is not afraid to believe God. It is the faith factor. Let the size of your God determine the size of your goal. You’ve never really trusted God until you have attempted something that can’t be done in the power of the flesh. Faith works in the realm of the impossible. There are three phases: impossible, possible, done. That’s God’s way. You have to go for it.
Mustafa: God had to heal my heart. I came out of Egypt miraculously, running with two children. Their father is Muslim. They grew up seeing me under the veil. Now their life is completely different, running away from their father and terrorists. It was a tough time. It was hard for me to see our life crumble over and over again. I harbored a lot of anger toward Muslims and toward my husband.
God had to take me away from that and give me wilderness time to teach me to forgive and love. You can’t serve someone unless you truly love them, cry for them, lift them up before the Lord. God did this when I was hiding in (the U.S.) and I met some Muslim women I was helping in hospitals. I saw how they lived their life with limited options here. No language. I saw the young age girl married here, even in the States. That was hard for me to see. One touched my heart. I knew she was going to die. Who is going to tell them? You, believe me. It is time for you to tell your story. When my mother and I came to the Lord there were maybe 20 Muslim background believers in my city. We didn’t know any other believers around Egypt. Today Egypt has millions of Muslim background believers. God said to be ready, go, and you will see miracles, and here we are.
Some people ask why I speak to the Muslim women, because if they come to Christ they will be in danger. Yes, they are. Some that I minister to and pray with are not here any more. But they are with the Father. What is important is that they are willing to do it once they see and know Jesus. I know for a fact I would do a thousand times more because of Jesus Christ. We don’t want to hide anymore. I had my driver’s license on the show once so they would know I am real and believe my story. There are many Muslim background believers that have broken the barrier of fear. We encourage you to do that with your ministry. If you are afraid as a leader, God will not be able to use you fully.
Cunningham: We lost a wonderful young leader in (a restricted country), a man with four kids. Al-Qaida shot him in the head four times. He was doing a great work, loving the people. His son 13 years old stood by his coffin and put his hand on the coffin and said, “I will take your place dad.”
His wife Jackie recently went back to (that country) to go to the prison and visit the ones who killed her husband. The man who pulled the trigger wept and wept. I think something happens to reverse what the enemy wanted to do, like Paul seeing Stephen stoned to death. He had to know something must be real for Stephen to forgive and therefore he became the great Paul, the Apostle. I think that’s happening among some of the most radical terrorists.
Warren: You may not be called upon to sacrifice your life, but you can not serve Jesus without sacrifice and being called to surrender. That’s part of ministry. You will be called to sacrifice many times and surrender many things that you like in different areas. But it is so worth it. Anything you give up is nothing, small potatoes, compared to the blessing and reward. Don’t keep your eye on what’s lost or what’s left. Don’t have a pity party for that. It’s just so worth it.
Cunningham: I think it’s part of God’s program and plan because He laid down his life. For the first 16 years of YWAM we didn’t lose one life. In 1976 we had 1600 gathered in Montreal for the Olympic outreach. The Lord said I want you to tell them I’ve protected you for 16 years because having youth go all over the world, they would have tried to shut you down. But now you’re going to see some die.
We don’t die according to the average life span of that age here in America. His hand is still there even in those deaths. We have had workers in (a restricted country) since 1970 but haven’t seen any workers die there until recently. Those are hard to take and we take them personally.
Siebert: I was on a radio program regarding the situation with Heather (Mercer) and Dana (Curry). A very well known pastor was asking me the question, he was asking me if I felt guilty as a pastor because I sent them out. If they died would I have felt guilty? They were like daughters to us.
I said, “I wept for them. Our family fasted and prayed for them. We knew the possibilities. Guilty? No. I’m proud of them for walking with Jesus unto death. I would be so proud of them loving Jesus and honoring him, but I would weep with grief for the loss of them.”
I think that’s more the Bible than feeling guilty and responsible when people are following Jesus. We’re not talking about being foolish or misguided. We have to all be resolved that it is a part of the journey. In fact it is the sweetest part of the journey. When we die he lives. I think that is key in our faith journey. Death is a part of the process. Most people I know the sweetest place they met with Jesus was in death or in dying to self, not just in glory moments.
Cunningham: Revelation says we overcome by the blood of the lamb and the word of our testimony, loving not your life even unto death. What I see in you is that you have risked your life more than once. We have to do that in leadership or we can not feel we are to release others.
Warren: Philippians says it is given to you not only the privilege to believe in him but to suffer for His name. One thing I have found is that behind every public anointing you will find private pain. If you want the power of God in your life, if you want the blessing of God in your life, if you want the anointing of God on your life, you must build your life on humility and generosity and you must be willing to suffer because there is no anointing without pain.
When you see someone God is using in a great way, before you go up and say I want to be that you need to know what they were able to give up. What is the pain that they are dealing with, whether it is a thorn in the flesh. It is not all ice cream, but it is worth it.
Siebert: What is the motivation of your heart. If you want to glorify God with your life, if I want to love people, if those are at the center of your faith, whether the world thinks it is foolish doesn’t matter. If I’m trying to prove something or be something, but if love for Jesus and others is at the center it doesn’t matter if it is foolish. There is a lot of latitude for what the world would call foolishness.
We worked in the West Bank in the middle of the intifada. Most of the expats left and we chose to stay. I was talking to one of our guys on the phone and he said they were rocketing the city and he asked me, “How do I know if it is God” I don’t even know when to go outside. If I step outside I don’t know what could happen.
I said, “I know everything about you is to love and honor Jesus. Put a big banner over your door: John 15:5. We are going to abide in God in everything. We are going to hear God to make a move outside the threshold of our door, let alone knowing the bigger decisions of life.
He said thank you and we prayed together and we wept together and had a holy moment.
I got off the phone and had this thought, Man, you’re a wise leader. That was a great thought.
And the Holy Spirit spoke to me and He said, Do you not need to live like that?
Does it not matter that every move you make is in God and of God and we live by faith in everything that we do? You abide and live by faith. When you live by that it’s okay, even the suffering, because you’re with him.
Cunningham: I wrote a book about knowing God’s voice. The title is “Is that really you God?”
Warren: For those of you trying to figure out if God is really talking to you or not, just keep at it. It gets clearer. When I started out early in ministry I admit I didn’t know if God was talking to me or I was talking to myself.
Is that me? Or is it God talking to me? Is it the enemy? The longer you walk with the Lord you know his voice. When my kids call me they don’t say it is Josh your son. He just says hi. He doesn’t even have to say dad. I know his voice. If my wife calls and says ‘uh’ I know what that means because I’ve been married to her for 43 years. There is no doubt in my mind it is Kay.
If you can’t distinguish the voice of the Holy Spirit, it will get better. Just keep walking with the Lord and it will get clearer. You will get to the point where you will say I have no doubt that is God telling me that because you have heard him so many times. I know when I’m talking to me but I also know when it is not me talking to me. That is just growth.
Cunningham: I think it is also important when God has done it to say, That was you Lord. Because we can think, wasn’t I smart. It is really something He did.
Warren: Grace is the fact that God knows every mistake I’m going to make in ministry and still chose me. God knows every dumb thing you’re going to do in ministry and he still chose you. Jesus said you have not chose me; I have chosen you to go and bear fruit. That’s grace. Grace exalts a man and humbles a man at the same time. It does both at the same time.
Mustafa: For people that minister in the Muslim world, if you are on TV or above ground, it is like you have signed a waiver for your life. You’re exposed. When people ask me questions about being on the front line, I think aren’t you on the front line?
Whatever the front line is for you, whether you lead a church or a small group, you should think like a soldier. We are at war with the enemy, whether you are in the Arab world or in front of a TV. Have we heard the voice of the Lord or not? We should not be thinking I might lose my life or status or people. When a soldier goes to war he knows he might not come home but they know they went for a cause. I pray for missionaries that they would have that heart when they go underground or in front of a TV.
Warren: In Acts it says that Paul and Barnabas risked their lives for the sake of the gospel, joyfully.
Eshleman: Do you think there are places with more oppression by the enemy, harder places to go?
Mustafa: I don’t know if there are harder places. Countries that are ruled by Islam are demonic and it is very hard for believers to be there, but I know we have people doing amazing work underground, planting churches, praying for people, doing healing and amazing things. I don’t think there are really hard places. We are sitting here at FTT for a reason; we are very close. I believe it.
Cunningham: I find that as the prayer movement gets bigger and bigger, that’s when they see more visions in the Middle East. I think they are directly related because God gave dominion over the world to mankind and we lost it through sin, Jesus got it back and said I (Jesus) have all authority on earth as well as in heaven, so He got it back and in his name we do things.
As we pray I think it allows God…He is no respecter of people of nations. He is working through us in order that we can work through Jesus to do what he wants. Someone asked me if this is the time Jesus is coming. I said wait, He is wanting a big, big family. In Rev. 7:9 it is a multitude no one can count. As Americans, we can count to 20 trillion (the national debt). I don’t know the number. I think when we see this (prayer movement) there are shifts in the principalities and powers against flesh and blood and that is done in the intercessory role. God can direct you. We can literally make a difference in areas of the world where it is hard. I have seldom been to a nation where they didn’t say this is the hardest.
Warren: I think faith factor has a lot to do with whether you think something is hard or not. My favorite verse of Scripture is: According to your faith it will be done unto you. I love that because Jesus says, you get to decide. You get to decide how much I (Jesus) bless your life. You get to decide how much I use you. Without knowing you, I can tell how much God is doing in your life. What do you expect him to do? If you study Scripture, every time God moved on earth it is because somebody believed.
You don’t have to be smart or rich or educated. You just have to believe. If I think it’s hard, guess what? It is going to be hard. If I believe it is easy, it will be easier than if I thought it was hard. So if I go into a culture that seems resistant to the gospel, if I go in with the attitude that it will be hard, you are setting yourself up for failure.
Eshleman: I think faith is a decision of the will to trust. We are making a decision of our will to go forward in these people groups and that decision is I will trust you Lord and I don’t think there is any problem or difficulty in all the world that can’t be solved by two words: trust Jesus.
Cunningham: I think faith is obedience without quitting what God has put on your heart.
Warren: Psalms tells us the people of Israel knew the acts of God but Moses knew the ways of God. He knew how and why God worked. In the realm of faith God always uses a pattern. If I had time I could take you through every major character of Scripture and when God takes you through the phases of faith it is always in this order. Phase one in faith is a dream. You get a dream. Nothing happens until someone starts dreaming.
Phase two is a decision. No dream becomes a reality until someone wakes up and makes a decision.
I hate to tell you but phase three is delay. There is always a delay between when God gives you a dream and when it is fulfilled. He is not a vending machine. He is not a genie. It doesn’t happen quickly. There is always a dream, decision, delay, because while you’re working on the problem, God is working on you. He is getting you ready. The delay isn’t that He doesn’t want to do it. The delay is that he’s getting you ready.
During the delay you get difficulty, phase four. I’ve had this happen thousands of times as the leader of Saddleback Church.
Just about the time you’re ready to give up you get to phase five, which is dead end. You think, Oh shoot, this is the death of a vision. This isn’t going to happen.
Just when you get to that point, congratulations, you’re right before phase six, which is deliverance. A crucifixion becomes a resurrection. Friday becomes Sunday. So this has happened a thousand times in my life, from big to small. When you get to the delay, the difficulty, the dead end, hang on, the deliverance is coming and God gets all the glory. Just be ready.
Mustafa: When the Lord got them (the Hebrews) out He told them you are never going to see that Egyptian army again. I am always reminded of that when I face difficulties. I am never going to see that Egyptian army again. This is my children’s favorite story.
Coming out of Egypt with two children who are pastors serving the Lord I had to believe that God is going to do it. Every day I look at the camera and talk to millions of people I have to believe that my Father is going to do whatever promise is going to deliver that promise. I have to believe my obedience is part of this, step one. And deliverance is His. If it depended on my power or smartness it would not happen. Faith is me believing that the one who promised me is going to deliver.
Siebert: One of my absolute beliefs is that the Word of God is truth. I often talk about evangelism that everyone wants to know Jesus, they just don’t know it yet because they have that God-shaped void that can only be filled by Jesus alone. I believe that God desires for all to hear and for all to know comes with the reality that all men are born into sin. It gives me great faith every day that God is after everyone all the time.
I just have to get into alignment with that, agree and believe. The unengaged and unreached obviously are the desire of God. I am on a winning proposition, the solid ground of God and His Word. We have to be resolved about whether we believe the Word of God or not. If we do believe the Word of God it is just a matter of time and cooperation. Can we get enough people to cooperate with God’s will and God’s Word and then see all have the opportunity to hear is not a big deal.
In Habakkuk it says to get the vision and write it down so you may run. It is a favorite passage of many people. But before that it says he will run to the rampart to see how he will reprove me. When we get the vision God has to shape us into the vision. It won’t be fulfilled until we will change. We get the vision and write it down and everything seems right; we have to be willing to let God change us so we can fit into that vision so God can do what he wants. Faith is a willingness to be shaped by God into the willing vessel he needs to fulfill his will.
Cunningham (closing prayer): Lord, we stand with hungry hearts, knowing if we are hungry after you, you will feed us. You will give us water so we will never thirst again. You give us bread so we will never be hungry again. That is you Lord. We have Your presence and wonderful experience of knowing you. As we receive you by faith we know that our faith will grow, therefore the challenges will be greater, therefore the risks will be greater. There will be many things we did not expect, but Lord, nothing is oops in your voice. You always say, you’re ok, you’re ok.
So Lord we want to grow in our faith, knowing to have patience we have to have tribulation, and to have faith we must have tests. Like Job, we can identify with him at times, but he didn’t have a Bible, but he did get to know you and finally he could get to the point where he said, “I know my redeemer lives.”
So we say tonight we say we know you live and because you live we can face tomorrow. We want more than just facing tomorrow. We walk into tomorrow with the faith that you want to do greater things because you are always about the greater. Do it through us Lord by increasing our faith. We know that grows through the test of faith. We will say yes to your tests so we can see your glory and as your glory is known throughout the world as the waters cover the sea, we do it for your glory, loving you will all our heart, soul, mind and strength, loving you, knowing you will answer this prayer. Increase our faith we pray in the name of Jesus, the name above all names.