Go for the Gold!September 1, 2016
Summer is almost over, and with the approaching change of seasons, the scorching temperatures in some parts of the world are becoming a memory. The summer games of the Olympics are over for four more years, and the excitement of those games will begin to fade from people’s minds as well.
But I keep thinking about the wins and losses over the course of those events as the best of the best gathered to compete against each other and “go for the gold” in their respective sports. The quote, “The thrill of victory and the agony of defeat” is especially meaningful as, after so many athletes engaged in countless hours of training and sacrifice, only one athlete in each competition went home with the coveted first-place prize.
It blesses me to know that every one of us as believers can receive from God one day the “gold,” first-place prize for our obedience on earth to do what He has asked us to do. That’s what I want to talk to you about this month as I share a story about Denise and me that you have perhaps heard before in my teachings, but I believe it will be a blessing to you as you read this letter today.
By the grace of God, Denise and I have founded three churches in the former Soviet Union over the past 25 years that are thriving to this very day. He used our hands to do the work, but we know that it was Him who “built the house” so that we did not labor in vain (see Psalm 127:1,2).
But to say that building this ministry in the former USSR has been easy would be telling an outright lie. Being here has been challenging and fulfilling at the same time. We have faced many obstacles, but we have also experienced many breakthroughs and victories, witnessing the Lord coming through for us time and time again as we looked to Him as the true Builder of the work.
One of the biggest challenges we have faced in our ministry here has been finding a permanent home for our Moscow Good News Church, which Denise and I pastor today. We began the church in 2000 in a small rented facility and moved from location to location as we outgrew building after building — all the while renting auditoriums and office space to accommodate our growing congregation and their needs.
After years of searching for a permanent location for the Moscow Good News Church, our ministry finally found a facility that would suit our needs — that is, it would meet our needs after total reconstruction. I put the vision before our church to purchase it, and we started to believe for the funds needed to acquire it and then totally renovate it.
I likened our situation to the Israelites’ divine assignment to possess their Promised Land. Just as Joshua’s spies outlined the obstacles they encountered when they returned from scouting the land, I didn’t hesitate to outline the challenges that lay before our congregation. I related the facts with clarity, but like Joshua and Caleb, I made it clear that God would give us victory over every obstacle or giant along the way (see Numbers 13:30). The issue was not how big the giants were; the matter revolved around God’s faithfulness to perform His promises — and our obedience to enter into and receive what He had given us.
The fact is, what we were stepping out by faith to do required God’s supernatural blessing because completing this mammoth vision far surpassed our natural abilities. Yet we were certain this was God’s plan. Therefore, we fixed our eyes on Jesus, and we were fully convinced that He would supernaturally enable us to accomplish this mighty task. Then we jumped in to run that race of faith. With our eyes fixed solely on the prize, we committed to do what God had asked us to do and not stop until we had reached the finish line.
This grand undertaking required every ounce of our faith, strength, and might. It demanded the highest level of faith for finances that Denise and I had ever released in our lives. It required our concentration and our intercession. However, we knew that God had watched us for years, and that He knew He could count on us, or He wouldn’t have entrusted us with such a magnificent assignment.
But I also knew that just as God had entrusted Denise and me with the task of heading up this building project, He had also entrusted many faithful partners to contribute financially. In fact, God explicitly told me that people would generously help us — and that He would abundantly bless those who participated in the project. We knew the same grace that was on us would also be on our partners, and God would supernaturally grace them to supernaturally give.
I have often reflected on God’s faithfulness to our ministry as we ran that particular race of faith. He perfectly and completely fulfilled every single one of His promises to us. Although the challenges were terrific, we accomplished the vision! When we are all in Heaven one day, the fabulous building that we now occupy in Moscow will still be filled with people worshiping Jesus. From the grandstands of Heaven, Denise and I — along with all those who financially gave — will rejoice that we didn’t shrink back from His command. By God’s grace, we ran the race and finished it as winners!
You might be wondering as you’re reading, Why is Rick writing to me about this right now? I’m happy his God-given assignment was a success — but what does this have to do with me and my situation?
I’m writing to you this month to encourage you in your walk of faith and to ask you a very important question: What race is God asking YOU to run? Does something loom in front of you that seems too huge, massive, and colossal for you to overcome or achieve? When you ponder what the Lord is asking you to do and what it will mean to obey Him, does it rattle you, shake you, or make you shudder? Or does it excite you, stir you up, and thrill you to know that God trusts you to believe Him for the impossible?
Each one of us has come too far in our walk with God to shrink back from God’s command now (see Hebrews 10:38). It’s too late to turn around and run in the other direction. As we near the very last days of this age, there can simply be no place in our lives for fear or timidity. The time really is short, and God is looking to each of us to fulfill His plan for these last generations. He is depending on you and me, and we must give our lives to do exactly what He is asking. There is nothing more important in life — and for all eternity — than heeding His voice and doing what He requires.
So whatever your task or assignment, think about what an honor it is that God would use you to accomplish such a feat! You must reach deep inside to the anointing of God that resides within you, stand on His promises of provision and strength, and step forward by faith to see it done. You will never know what God can do unless you do something that gives Him the opportunity to show you!
I realize this teaching letter has been a little different this month, but I really sensed I should exhort and encourage you to “go for the gold” in Him — to find His glorious plan for your life and fulfill it! Perhaps you’re already walking in His plan for your life, or maybe you’re on that journey of discovery right now. Philippians 1:6 says, “Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ.” It’s never too late to talk to God about His purpose for your life! I believe He is asking you (as He is asking each one of us) to come up higher in your commitment to Him and His divine will.
Please let Denise and me and our team know how we can specifically pray for you this month. We’re so thankful to God and to you for your connection with this ministry. It is one of our highest joys as we awaken each day to pray for you and take your requests before God in confident expectation of an answer.
We 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