Here we are in the month of March with the first day of spring approaching. Depending on where you live, the weather will be turning warmer soon, and vegetation that has been browned by winter frost will be turning green and blooming once again. That’s what I love about spring! Although landscapes can appear dead in winter, they are usually only dormant — but when spring comes, the fruitfulness of grass, trees, flowers, gardens, and crops becomes apparent. I liken it to a “manifestation” of what wasn’t seen but is now very visible to the eye.
Something so similar is happening to RENNER Ministries that I want to share with you for a moment. I also want to THANK YOU for what you have done to help make this transformation from unseen to seen a living reality for us and for the many souls God has called us to partner with, to reach, and to teach and strengthen all over the world, especially in the former Soviet Union.
As you know, we began to seriously outgrow our ministry offices in Tulsa in the last couple of years, and we’ve had to be very creative in the way we’ve utilized our space. Some team members have found themselves working in unusual spots to perform their tasks, and after places in our hallways were utilized to the max for storage, we’ve had to rent on-site storage to be able to keep up with the volume of ministry that God is allowing to take place from our U.S. headquarters. So we recently acquired a new building in the Tulsa area, fully furnished to meet our ministry needs!
Also, as the online participation in our Internet Good News Church exploded exponentially from 30,000 members to more than 200,000 — along with millions of new viewers we have onboard since our acquisition of the CNL-GNC (Good News Channel) satellite network — Denise and I and our team are filming up to seven programs every day in Moscow! Our current studio space has become too small to accommodate all this growth, and we knew we needed to build a new studio where we could perform the functions of TV, Internet, and satellite ministry with greater effectiveness and expediency.
We are in the middle of this miracle right now! We’re seeing the “temperatures warming” and signs of new growth appearing — we are blossoming and flourishing in this new season at RENNER Ministries! God gives the increase and brings forth the promise of His Word — but this has largely happened because our partners believed in the vision He gave us and continued to water the seed we boldly planted in His name. Denise and I and our team thank you from the bottom of our hearts!
I want to let you know that we’ll be moving the entire ministry in Tulsa soon, and the entire exterior of the Moscow studio is completely in place, including the roof, walls, windows, and doors. We are now in PHASE 2 of the Moscow project, as we need to finish the interior with flooring, drywall, paint, and everything else necessary to equip the studio for our rigorous filming schedule. If you’re not already a part of this expansion-project giving team and you feel led to join us, please participate with us so, together, we can finish PHASE 2 of this project.
Finally, PHASE 3 will entail paying off our new U.S. facility, which we are believing God we’ll be able to do quickly. He is truly building this “ministry house” (see Psalm 127:1). We know He has entrusted this assignment to us, and He is working with us to see it through to its full manifestation — “…first the blade, then the ear, after that the full corn in the ear” (see Mark 4:28). We are thankful to Him and to all our friends and partners who have prayed for us and have sown finances into this work. Your seed is producing something bigger than any one of us can do on his or her own. THANK YOU!
And now to the part of this letter that I study to produce for you each month, which I believe will be a blessing to you today. Just as a farmer examines the productivity of his crops at harvesttime, every once in a while, Denise and I take time to seriously and thoughtfully review what we are accomplishing and what we are not accomplishing in our lives and ministry. We do our best to be very honest with ourselves and with each other about these questions as we dive deep for solid answers.
Taking this kind of look at ourselves and our work is not always pleasant. Sometimes we find areas of glaring failure or areas where we know the Lord expected more of us. But in order to see the truth about our lives the way God sees it, He requires us to lay down our pride and be honest with ourselves. In the end, we’re always glad we did the review because it helps us repent — turn ourselves around — for the times we failed; rejoice over what God helped us successfully accomplish; and make sure we’re on the right course now, where we will be the most focused and effective in the future.
When other people say, “Wow, you accomplish so much!” we are always glad that they can see fruit and growth in our lives. God is always on the move, and He is indeed the God of increase. However, the most important question to us is not what other people think, but what the Lord thinks of us and our accomplishments. Maybe it’s true that we accomplished a lot compared to what others have done. But how we compare to other people and ministries is not the measuring stick any of us should use to determine how we are doing.
When Denise and I do an honest evaluation of where we are in our obedience, we remind ourselves of Second Corinthians 10:12 (AMPC), where the apostle Paul wrote that when people “…measure themselves with themselves and compare themselves with one another, they…behave unwisely.”
This means our measuring stick should never be how we measure up to other human beings or to other ministries. The real issue is how we “measure up” to the vision and goals the Lord gave us. When we stand before Jesus, He isn’t going to judge us by how we did in comparison to others. He will judge us for how we did with the assignments He gave us to do.
Therefore, we have learned to ask ourselves on a regular basis:
- Are we accomplishing the goals the Lord has given us?
- Can we stand before Him with a heart free of condemnation, knowing that we gave our very best effort, work, and faith to achieve His will?
- What changes, if any, do we need to make in our lives — in our schedule, commitment, and financial resources — to truly partner with Jesus and do exactly what He has told us to do?
Learning to be honest about ourselves — including our successes and our failures — is important. We can learn from our past mistakes. If we see we have not done something as well as it should have been done, we ask the Lord to forgive us and then we turn our eyes to the present to make corrections — recalibrate — and start doing better!
I think of when Paul was imprisoned in Rome. He had a lot of time to think, so he reflected on his life and achievements. He thought about what he had done, what he hadn’t done, and what he still needed to do. I’m sure that, like all of us, Paul was tempted to look at his life in comparison to others. And compared to others, he had done a great deal.
Paul could have rightfully told himself, I’ve done more than most men will ever dream of doing. I’ve done more than anyone else I know! But rather than revel in his accomplishments, Paul used that time in prison to truthfully assess his life. Then he wrote these famous words in Philippians 3:13 and 14, “Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.”
Notice Paul said, “I count not myself to have apprehended.…” The words “count not” give us insight into the way Paul looked at his life. Paul borrowed these words from the bookkeeping profession. It is the Greek word logidzomai, which originally meant to mathematically count, calculate, or tabulate or to make a conclusion. This word was primarily used in the bookkeeping world to portray the idea of a balance sheet or a profit-and-loss statement that a bookkeeper prepared at the end of the month or year.
For example, a business owner might assume his or her business is doing well, but when the bookkeeper adds up all the numbers and hands the owner the profit-and-loss statement to read, that’s the moment that person finds out how well his or her business is really doing. You wouldn’t have to guess anymore about your situation, because the numbers tell the real story.
So rather than guess about how well he had done, Paul decided to carefully review the original goals God had given him. It is almost as if Paul had written God’s plan for his life on one side of the page and what he had actually accomplished on the other side of the page. After looking at the original goal and truthfully assessing how much of that goal he had accomplished, he wrote, “I count not myself to have apprehended….”
Although Paul had accomplished a great deal in his ministry, he knew he hadn’t done everything he was supposed to do. That is one reason he knew it was not time for him to die. His prison situation was dreadful, and the legal prognosis didn’t look good. But Paul knew it wasn’t time for him to leave this world because he still had so much work to do.
I’m sure Paul was thankful for everything he had seen and all that God had already accomplished through him. This is why Paul went on to say, “…But this one thing I do, forgetting the things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before” (Philippians 3:13). But I want you to stop and think about what Paul was choosing to forget and put behind him.
Some say Paul was forgetting his past life of sin, but he had put that behind him long before that. Instead, he was choosing to put his past successes and accomplishments behind him. Stopping at past victories is what keeps most people from moving into future victories. Often people get so stuck on what they have already done that they lose sight of what they still need to do — and that keeps them from moving forward to possess new territory in God’s plan for their lives.
Paul knew there were still huge parts of his vision that were unfinished. Even though the past had been great and he was thankful to God for every victory he had experienced, it was now time for him to begin reaching forth unto those things which were still before him.
We all need to rejoice over what God has done in our lives, but we must continue to work with Him, focusing on what we haven’t seen fulfilled. Thinking of the past victories encourages and reminds us of God’s faithfulness, but eventually we have to leave the past behind and turn our eyes to the present and the future. We can’t go forward while constantly looking backward.
- Yesterday’s victories were for yesterday.
- Yesterday’s good reports were for yesterday.
- Yesterday’s accomplishments were for yesterday.
I want to tell you that all our futures are important, so we must look at our lives, appraise our status, and let the Holy Spirit speak to our hearts as we remain willing to keep moving forward by faith. Thank God for every victory, but keep your eyes fixed on the future so you can keep marching forward to fulfill every detail of the vision God has put into your heart!
I pray this letter has encouraged you as much as it has encouraged me to write it! God has so much more in store for you — and He wants to help you keep moving ahead by faith to fulfill the very good plan He has designed for your life. Don’t be satisfied to stop with past victories when new victories are awaiting you!
Oh, friend, please make time to let us know how we can pray with you. Denise and I, along with our anointed prayer team, seriously put our faith forward for every person who reaches out to us. But we can pray better when we’re alerted to your specific needs. And I promise that when you reach out to us by phone, by email, by letter, or online, we will really pray for you!
We truly love you and thank God for you.
We are your brother and sister, friends, and partners in Jesus Christ,
Rick and Denise Renner
along with Paul, Philip, and Joel and their families