Chosen Above Fear

The late Dr. Myles Munroe said, “The graveyard is filled with untapped potential.”

I believe it’s due to fear.

In Jordan Jones’ HuffPost article, 9 Reasons You Won’t Pursue Your Dreams, 8 of the 9 reasons are rooted in fear. We’re afraid of the unknown. We’re afraid of the isolation that comes with success. We’re afraid of the new disciplines and habits we must learn in order to maintain that success. And, we’re afraid of messing up.

Fear is all throughout the Bible. Moses, Gideon, Peter, Jonah, and the ten scouts almost missed witnessing some of the greatest miracles because of fear.

But, when you have decided to answer God’s call on your life, feeling the fear and doing it anyway is a natural part of the journey. Change agents know that the messenger often gets shot, but it’s what takes place afterwards that makes the pain worth it.

What’s Your Fearless 3-Pointer?

My husband and I are huge LeBron James fans. I remember when I asked my husband why the Cavs kept shooting (and missing) 3’s instead of shooting two-pointers to make it a close game. All he said was, “Live by the 3, die by the 3.”

Speaking the truth even when it stings is Pastor Ron and Hope Carpenter’s 3-point-shot. This is one of the reasons why I love Redemption Church so much. I’ve attended too many churches where pastors never step on any toes because those toes belong to their deacons, their best tithers, or people who will try to ruin them.

Pastor Ron doesn’t fear man. He fears God and built Redemption to bridge cultures and unapologetically preach the Gospel. And, when he shoots, he doesn’t know where the ball is going to fall, but he knows it’s his shot and he has to take it.

This past Sunday, his wife and co-pastor, Hope Carpenter, took a 3-point-shot and missed the whole backboard. She was quickly booed off the court and people were calling for her to be cut from the team.  

Basketball analogies aside, she messed up. And, she hurt the very people she serves every week with her public comment concerning the national anthem. Personally, I wasn’t attracted to Redemption for Hope Carpenter, and even though I’m quite fond of her now, I’m not naive enough to believe that she and I agree on every issue. I’m not going to quit my job or make my husband sleep on the couch because we disagree on how things should be handled. Likewise, I’m not going to quit attending Redemption because of Hope’s stance on kneeling during the national anthem.

I chalked it up as her speaking from a place of ignorance; I knew that social media would quickly educate her on the error of her ways. I knew the responses would sting a bit, but actually, she took a beating.

Her past was brought up. She was called every name. And, some people were seeking out members to make sure they knew what she said and to encourage them not to attend Redemption anymore.

It got ugly. Fast.

Are You Afraid to Be Used?

I thought to myself, someone who wants to take the leap into their calling is fearfully watching this. And, this is the very fear that continues to steamroll their dreams. Someone who is on the fence about following Jesus is looking at Christians and wondering if they can really admit their thoughts, behaviors, and past. Can I be human?

Leaders are watching. They’re wondering where can I be honest about how I feel and people not want to destroy what I’ve built.

What happened to “What the devil meant for evil God will use for good?”
What happened to “Jesus will reach way down and pick you up?”
What happened to “Create in me a clean heart and renew in me the right spirit?”

Isn’t that what we want to be spoken to us when we mess up?

What Doing it Scared Looks Like

I also thought that this would be a wonderful time for the world to see what it looks like when a personal belief hurts someone you love. As I saw church members go back and forth over whether or not an apology was necessary, I knew that this had the potential to divide the church. Thankfully, Pastors Ron and Hope demonstrated beautifully – both online and at church – what to do when you have offended a brother.

Last Sunday, I was able to witness what we all want when we make a mistake. I got to see people practice what they preach: Love, Grace, Mercy, and Forgiveness.

Pastor Ron & Hope both looked weary when they first walked in. We all know how it feels to have to stand before people after making a grave mistake (or do we?). It hurt me to see them look so ashamed. But, hopefully, we sent the message that it’s okay to mess up. It’s okay to have flawed thinking. We’re not going to run at the first sight of a blemish. We’re not going to forget everything we know about you because you’ve shown us a side that we didn’t expect. We’re not going to be Christians who talk a good game during practice, but bail right after tip-off.

I was called a slave, a coon, stupid, and a clown for supporting my pastors. And, the more people went in on Hope, the more love I poured on her because I simply can’t stand bullying – and that’s what Christ wants us to do – SHOW love! More than anything, I just want Jesus to be pleased with how I represent Him.

I believe Redemption represented the Kingdom well today. I’m proud that even in disagreements, we are able to love our sister and brother as ourselves.  

So, what’s the play call?

A lot of people never step into their calling because they fear the inevitable – messing up. And, what do we tell them?

“Failure is an event, not a person.”
“Take the leap and build your wings on the way down.”
“The person who never failed never tried anything new.”

Don’t we cheer and amen when the pastor says, “I want people around me who still believe God has a purpose for my life even when I mess up.”

Well, God still has a purpose for Hope’s life. Her last shot drew nothing but air, but she has humbled herself and is getting back into the gym. I believe she and Pastor Ron are the kind of people who will never stop trying to perfect their shot. They have made it their life’s mission to be a light in the darkness. They don’t shy away from challenges and where they are ignorant, they are willing to learn. What more could you ask for in pastors? What more could you ask of yourself?

During Pastor Hope’s last sermon, she said, “Don’t rebuke the test. Pass it.” She’s living those words right now.

Pastor Ron has been saying that God has promised a larger platform. This has certainly made Redemption popular.

The critics think this is exposing Ron and Hope. No, no. This is making Jesus famous.

Watch the Carpenters and the Redemption Church family be instrumental in combating racism in the South – in America.

Remember, God doesn’t waste a thing!

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