This morning Marlene and I on the road again, driving to Chicago for the Keep Believing board retreat this weekend. Starting tomorrow night our board is meeting in McHenry (located on the Fox River northwest of Chicago, not far from the Wisconsin border). Here is part of an email I sent to the board a few days ago in preparation for the retreat:

"As I have been thinking about our time this weekend, I have three goals in mind:

1) To spend time together developing deeper unity of heart and mind about what KBM is all about.
2) To talk through our current challenges.
3) To dream together about what God may want to do through KBM in the future.

Several days ago I asked the Lord what message he wanted us to have for this weekend. Quick as a flash—I mean, just like that—the answer came back to me, and I think it is from the Lord. We must live the message we proclaim. That is a profound thought if you stop to ponder it. The best ministries, the ones that change the world, are ministries where those involved become the message itself. They have ultimate street cred. Many ministries flounder because they end up being like this:                       
                       

                              Leaders            (GAP)              Message

 But the strongest ministries are on the ones in which there is no gap:

                                Leaders/Message   

The late Bill Bright was a good example of a man who embodied his own message. Billy Graham does it as well. I think the same could be said for Rick Warren. (And I would add the late D. James Kennedy, founder of Evangelism Explosion, to that list.)

So here is the thought with which we will begin: We must become the message we proclaim. We can’t just talk about the message. We must become the message. And as I thought that, my mind was drawn to 1 Thessalonians 2:1-12. I ask all the board members to read these verses and meditate on them before Friday night. And then read Acts 17:1-9. The KJV of Acts 17:6 says that the Jewish leaders declared of Paul and Silas, “These who have turned the world upside down have come here also.” 1 Thessalonians 2:1-12 tells us how Paul and Silas had that kind of world-changing impact.

I am calling on the board to meditate and pray over all of this and ask what God is saying to us about KBM.

1) What sort of people should we be?
2) How can we embody the message we proclaim?
3) What needs to happen in us first?
4) If 1 Thessalonians 2:1-12 were all we had, what would that tell us about how to do things?

Let’s spend some time thinking and praying ….. with open hearts and with anticipation. Pray, “Lord, speak to me” and “Lord, do things we’re not used to.” Our only real danger is that we will think that we are coming this weekend to make decisions about money and resources. We’ll do that but if that’s all we do, we could do that over the telephone. The New Testament constantly presents great truth and then says, “What sort of people should we be in light of this truth?”

I will share one more thing with you. In last week’s sermon email, I quoted part of a letter from a widow who decided to give her magazine money to help KBM. This weekend I will share the whole letter because it is not unconnected to the above. I can’t get one little phrase from her letter out of my mind.  She said, “I CAN live without my mags (Ladies Home Journal, Good Housekeeping) but the world CANNOT live without Jesus.”

Here’s the phrase as it keeps coming to me . . .Because the world can’t live without Jesus.

I somehow connect it in my mind to KBM:

Keep Believing Ministries . . . Because the world can’t live without Jesus.

So here is my challenge. I would like everyone on the board to ponder all that I have written:

We must live the message we proclaim.
The message of 1 Thessalonians 2:1-12.
What needs to happen in us first?
Lord, speak to me.
Because the world can’t live without Jesus.

This may be the most crucial ministry event we’ll attend all year long. Soon after this we begin almost two months of non-stop travel and ministry. But it is this weekend that will give us direction and encouragement for the next leg of the journey. And I believe God will help us lay a strong foundation for the future."

I am sharing this with the readers of this weblog because you form the heart of the Keep Believing family. We need your prayers as we meet together this weekend. It’s exciting to be in the ground floor of a ministry like Keep Believing. Thanks in advance for thinking of us and praying for us as we meet like this. Truly, we’re all in this together, and we couldn’t do it without your love, your support, and we definitely couldn’t do it without your prayers.

You can reach the author at ray@keepbelieving.com. Click here to sign up for the free weekly email sermon.