The Parable of the Turtle

Turtle 2

I love the old maxim about risk-taking: “Behold the turtle. He only makes progress when he sticks his neck out.” You see, although you may feel safer while tucked away in your thick protective shell, you’ll never get anywhere in life. Your fears  will block your fulfillment, and your comfort  will turn into your coffin.

I’m convinced that fear is holding many people back from the necessary steps to make progress, enjoy life, or have a significant impact. My fellow baby boomers are especially prone to this common trap. We took risks in our younger days, some of which paid off, while others were brought devastating losses. But now we find it all too easy to play it safe and hedge our bets.

If you’ve talked with any financial planners recently, they’ve probably advised you to limit your risks as you get older. Be safe. Be conservative. Hang on to what you have. Don’t be too adventurous in your investments.

But those same advisors will admit that you’re unlikely to receive a substantial return on those “safe” investments. Small risk, small rewards. No risk, no rewards.

The same is true about our spiritual lives. Remember Jesus’ story about the guy who decided to bury his assets instead of risk losing them? Sadly for him, he ended up losing them in the end anyway (Matthew 25:14-28).

No decision could be riskier or more shortsighted than to opt for a risk-free life. First of all, such a life is impossible to find, since there will always be risks along the way. And even if you somehow succeeded in eliminating all risks, your life would be incredibly boring and unproductive.

Several decades ago, God gave me a vivid mental picture while I was praying. I saw myself playing poker, and I had amassed a very large stack of chips. Suddenly, however, I pushed the entire stack to the middle of the table and shouted, “ALL IN!”

Hmmm… I can’t help wondering if I would still be willing to take such a risk today. Although I claim to be entrusting my entire life to the Lord, lately I’ve only been giving Him the chips I’m willing to lose. And while I’ve succeeded in minimizing my risks, my rewards clearly have diminished as well.

As a student of the Bible, I’ve concluded that we need to grasp a couple of important lessons about risk-taking:

  • If God truly has told us to do something, obeying Him doesn’t constitute a “risk.” Before walking on the water, Peter wisely sought and received a green light from Jesus. Things were going fantastic at first, as they always do when we trust and obey. Peter only ran into trouble when he took his eyes off the Lord (Matthew 14:25-32).
  • Often we must take a step of faith, even when we have no direct guidance from God or assurances about the outcome. I love the story of Jonathan’s plan to defeat the Philistines, despite his lack of resources and manpower. His message to his armor bearer shows a commitment to do “the right thing,” even though God hadn’t told him what to do nor promised him victory: “Come and let us cross over to the garrison ofthese uncircumcised; perhaps the Lord will work for us, for the Lord is not restrained to save by many or by few” (1 Samuel 14:6). What a challenging statement this is for those of us who want ironclad assurance from God before we embark on any endeavor. He doesn’t always work that way! Sometimes we need to “take a chance” on a noble venture, hoping God will come through for us.

After they each took a bold step of faith, Peter and Jonathan both received supernatural assistance. Peter had gotten direct encouragement from the Lord in his quest to walk on water. Jonathan, in contrast, trusted God and hoped for victory solely by virtue of his worthwhile mission.

When was the last time YOU took a significant risk, relying on God’s help? Like Peter, has Jesus been beckoning you to take a seemingly risky step, leaving the safety of your “boat”? Or do you find yourself in a situation more like Jonathan, where your heart says to take action, despite an uncertain future?

One thing for sure: You don’t want to be like the turtle who allowed fear to keep him hiding in his shell. If you’re trusting God with your life, you’ll need to stick your neck out from time to time. Your life will surely be more exciting and fulfilling that way.

The Bible is pretty clear that God prefers risk-takers to those who insist on playing it safe. Yes, when you take risks there will be some losses as well as gains. But if you ever start to sink among the roaring waves, He will lift you up again—and I bet He will even applaud your effort.

 

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2013 Ministry Report

From Jim Buchan and Crosslink Ministries

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Dear Friends:

Here are some highlights of our ministry ventures in 2013:

  • Inspiration magazine. As the senior staff writer at Inspiration Ministries, I continue to help produce monthly devotional magazines sent to more than 70,000 households around the world each month, with an additional 30,000 daily devotionals sent via e-mail. You can sign up for the free devotionals at www.inspiration.org/dailydevotions.
  • New books and booklets. This year I’ve worked on various new book projects at Inspiration Ministries and through my outside work as a ghostwriter and literary adviser.
  • Social media. At the end of last year, I had 5,000 followers on my Twitter feed @BestBibleTweets, and I thought this growth was pretty exciting after less than a year. However, now this has grown to more than 27,000 followers! I’ve enjoyed tweeting through highlights of the Bible, I’m also dialoging with people through Facebook and LinkedIn.
  • Blogs. You can see the many blogs I’ve posted on my website www.JimBuchan.com. My articles have also been picked up by other bloggers and by a worldwide magazine that has over 100,000 subscribers.
  • ChurchSplits.com. In 2014 I hope to upgrade my website and eBook at www.ChurchSplits.com. More than 8,000 people a month do Google searches for information on the topic of church splits, and my material is meeting a huge need among pastors and churches facing this unpleasant situation.
  • Mentoring young pastors and entrepreneurs. This year God gave me a renewed vision to have an impact on young leaders. While I love my Baby Boomer friends, the future will increasingly be dependent on the success of a new generation of Christians to impact the world—not only the church world, but also the marketplace, government, and culture.
  • Mary’s new book. Ten years in the making, Mary launched her first book this year: Over It—How to Live Above Your Over It coverCircumstances and Beyond Yourself. You can order the book or find out about Mary’s health coaching services at www.MaryBuchan.com.
  • Lingering impact from my old books. I continue to receive gratifying comments from people who have read my books: Walking the Leadership Highway—Without Becoming Roadkill!, Apostolic Evangelism, and So, You Want to Be a Best-Selling Author? For example, I was unexpectedly contacted this year by a man named Aaron who wrote:

“Jim’s Apostolic Evangelism book came into my hands several years ago, and it has been a tremendously insightful resource, assisting us in our first church plant. This tool helped me understand the importance of seeking the place of prayer in my evangelistic efforts. Now the Lord has led me to start a new work in Chicago, and the principles in Jim’s book have bubbled up in my spirit once again. The revelation contained in Apostolic Evangelism lives inside me and will help me serve the Lord’s purposes and complete my kingdom assignment once again.”

I’ll close with this prayer of Moses, found in Psalm 90:16-17 (NIV):

May your deeds be shown to your servants,
your splendor to their children.

May the favor of the Lord our God rest on us;
establish the work of our hands for us—
yes, establish the work of our hands.

While I love the emphasis on “the favor of the Lord” in this NIV rendering, the NLT also brings out some important aspects of this passage:

Let us, your servants, see you work again;
let our children see your glory.
And may the Lord our God show us his approval
and make our efforts successful.
Yes, make our efforts successful!

This is very good news: No matter how old we are, it’s never too late to “see God work again.” And we must cry out as never before for our children and grandchildren to see His glory and find His blessing on their work for His kingdom.

God bless you in 2014! Let us know how we can pray for you. We’re grateful for your tax-deductible financial contributions to our Crosslink Ministries outreaches.

Crosslink Ministries, 11927 Royal Castle Ct

Charlotte, NC 28277

Cell: 704-770-5200, Jim@JimBuchan.com

www.JimBuchan.com @BestBibleTweets

 

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2012 Ministry Highlights

From Jim Buchan & Crosslink Ministries

 Dear Friends:

2012 has been a fantastic year of new and old ministry ventures. Here are some highlights:

  • Inspiration magazine. As the senior staff writer at Inspiration Cover JPGMinistries, I continue to produce monthly devotional magazines sent to more than 135,000 households around the world each month, with an additional 26,000 daily devotionals sent via e-mail. You can sign up for the free daily devotionals at www.inspiration.org/dailydevotions.
  • Multiple booklets. This year I’ve also worked on various other projects at Inspiration, writing booklets such as The Turnaround Devotional, Changing Your World Through Prayer, Questions and Answers on Heaven, and a workbook for Ancient Secrets of the Tabernacle.
  • Jim Preaching 1Preaching. I’ve done more preaching and teaching in 2012 than in any year since 2004. You can hear some of my messages online at

www.imagechurch.us/list-by-speaker/audio.

  • Ghostwriter and literary adviser. I’ve continued to enjoy many opportunities to serve as an adviser, agent, editor, or ghostwriter for Christian authors.
  • Twitter and Facebook. In May, I ventured into the Twitter world for the first time. My goal was to have 4,000 followers after a year, and I thought this goal was fairly ambitious. However, after just six months or so, I already have over 5,000 followers on my Twitter feed @BestBibleTweets. It has been fun embarking on a journey to tweet through highlights of the entire Bible, and the tweets are also posted on my Facebook wall.
  • Blogs. I launched a new blogsite at www.JimBuchan.com. Take a look at my posts there when you get a chance. My articles have been picked up by some other bloggers and by a magazine that has over 100,000 subscribers. Although I’ve been writing articles for decades now, I’ve never  had so many people read my articles in just one year!
  • ChurchSplits.com. At long last, my new, comprehensive manual on Church Splits is now available as an eBook at www.ChurchSplits.com. More than 8,000 people a month do a Google search for information on the topic of church splits, and this new website comes up FIRST! I believe the book and website will meet a huge need among pastors and churches. It’s a unique resource on how to prevent, survive, and recover from church splits (lessons I’ve learned the hard way!).
  • Books and Music CDs to Afghanistan. Inspiration Ministries recently sent many boxes of spiritual resources to U.S. troops in Afghanistan, in order to be there before  Christmas. Crosslink donated a box of my leadership book, Walking the Leadership Highway—Without Becoming Roadkill! Mary donated some of her Christian music CDs, “Carry Me” and “Hidden Door.” And our friends Dennis and Jen Clark added copies of their amazing booklet that helps people receive healing from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Pray with us that God will use these resources to touch lives in our military!

For several years, my central mission statement has been “To change the world through the written and spoken word.”  Both of these two prongs came together in a wonderful way in 2012—with opportunities to touch live through my writings and also through a renewed “fire in my bones” to preach (Jeremiah 20:9).

I’ll close with a word of encouragement and challenge to my fellow Baby Boomers, who may be wondering whether God still can revive their dreams and use them to impact lives. Let the prayer in Habakkuk 3:2 be the cry of our hearts today:

O Lord, revive Your work in the midst of the years! In the midst of the years make it known.

No matter how old you may be feeling today, you’re just “in the midst of the years” — and your greatest years can be still ahead!

God bless you this New Year. Let us know how we can pray for you. We’re grateful for your tax-deductible financial contributions to our Crosslink Ministries outreaches.

Note our new address:

Crosslink Ministries

11927 Royal Castle Ct, Charlotte, NC 28277

Cell: 704-770-5200, Jim@JimBuchan.com

www.JimBuchan.com @BestBibleTweets

Whole Family 1012

 Merry Christmas from the Buchan & Stokas families!

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