Friends & Family,
Greetings from the Isham family! We have some exciting news to share!
In the past 6 months, the Lord has been cultivating within us a deep passion for making authentic disciples of Jesus who make authentic disciples of Jesus to the glory of God. We want to leverage all that we are and all that we have to that end with every remaining day that the Lord graciously gives. In light of this work of God in us, as of April 15, 2012, our family will be sent out from Bethesda Baptist Church in Durham, NC to OneLife Church in Knoxville, TN in order to enter a training program to prepare us for church planting. God has graciously provided the opportunity for both the hands-on training within a three-year old church plant, OneLife Church, as well as weekly coaching through the Ignite Church Planter’s Network. Over the next two years, we will have the privilege to engross ourselves in this training while laying the foundation for our very own church plant in a city to which the Lord leads.
This is in no way an easy decision. We love and have thoroughly enjoyed co-pastoring Bethesda Baptist Church and truthfully, we are as comfortable as can be, having many of the things most pastors would greatly enjoy, such as: loving members, great co-workers, an excellent Christian academy and childcare, a big house in a golf course community, and a salary that enables my Bride to fulfill her dream of being a stay at home mother. Life is great! However to selfishly stay here and bask in this comfort, would be to blatantly disobey and abandon the very will of God for our lives. And so we must proclaim from the rooftops with Paul in Philippians 3, that, “whatever things were gain to me, those things I have counted as loss for the sake of Christ…that I may gain Christ, and may be found in Him.”
We are definitely taking a step of faith that only the Lord can craft. To pursue this training, we will be taking a $35,000 pay cut and I’ll have to work a part-time job to supplement our income. Furthermore, as I write this letter we don’t know where we’ll be living, where I’ll be working, and the Lord will need to provide $20,000 in support for us in 2 months. Many people and maybe many of you, will hear this story and say, “This Dude is crazy!” But I say no, this is the beauty of a faith that only God could precisely craft in us so that we not only have peace in this uncertainty, but great joy, knowing that our Lord is going to provide. Our prayer is that people would look on this situation and think we are insane and that that would create the opportunity for God to show up and proclaim to all who are looking on, that He alone is God and He is a faithful God who never forsakes His people whom He loves. There are several questions, which still need to be answered, however we’re confident that this is the Lord’s direction for the next season of our lives and we know that where the Lord’s Will leads us, His grace will sustain us!
In 2 Chronicles 20, there’s a story of King Jehoshaphat with three armies stacked against Him and he cries out to God, “These armies are stronger and mighty than we are and God, I don’t even know what to do, but my eye is fixed on you!” God, then, tells Jehoshaphat a little later in that story, “Do not fear or be dismayed, for the Lord is the with you and this is not your fight, but His….station yourselves, stand and see the salvation of the Lord.” And, this is where we’re at! We are stepping out with the faith that God has so graciously given us and we don’t know how our needs are going to be met, we don’t know the answers to a lot of questions that need to be answered, but our eyes are fixed on our King! It’s His fight that He’s going to fight and through it all we will see the salvation of the Lord. That He and He alone is the one true God! We are tremendously anticipating with great excitement How He’s going to show Himself!
Now, you might be saying, “That’s awesome JR! I pray that the Lord works everything out for ya’ll. I really do.” However, at this point, I humbly ask that you hear me out because God has given You an incredible opportunity to be a part of what He’s doing, not only in our lives, but in the big picture of all eternity. There is an excellent book entitled, “The Treasure Principle”, by Randy Alcorn and in it he reveals the following biblical truths about the finances God has graciously given to each of us:
1. God owns everything and we are His money managers.
2. Our hearts always go where we put God’s money.
3. Heaven, not earth, is our home.
4. We should live here, not for our time on earth, but for our time in eternity.
5. God prospers us not to increase our standard of living, but our standard of giving.
In Ephesians 4, Paul tells us that God graciously gives gifts to every Christian in order that these gifts would be used “for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ.” In other words, if you are a Christian, God has given you gifts to build up the church for the glory of God! It’s our prayer that you will see that You, at this moment, have an opportunity to be a part of God’s work, which will impact all of eternity! All Christians no matter what church you go to, are THE church. We are one; and God’s purpose is that the world would know Him by seeing the way we reflect Him in our love for each other. 2 Corinthians 9:8-11 tells us, God is able to always generously provide all you need and more, so that you can generously bless others. He tells us that when we give, He will continue to give us more and more, so that we can keep generously giving to others. And when we do, those who receive these blessings will thank God because of us.
Friends and family, if you are receiving this letter, you are one of two hundred people that God has used to impact our lives in some way. If God moves each of you to invest only $10 a month in the work He’s doing, you would more than empower us to do what we feel the Lord’s leading us to do! Now we do know, in reality, that some receiving this letter will simply trash it, so we pray that God would lead you to give out of the abundance that He’s given you in order to compensate for those who aren’t able or willing to give. Our questions for you today are, “Will you seize this great opportunity to be on mission with God? As a part of THE church, will you help support us, by praying and/or making a financial investment that will impact all of eternity? Could you sacrifice $10 a month, knowing that our family and all those who come to know Jesus through us, will be thanking God because of you?
If the answer to these questions are YES, please support us by going to http://www.onelifeknox.com/jr . There you can securely and conveniently make a one-time investment or set up recurring investments with your debit card that will instantly begin helping us make an impact in making disciples who will be face to face with Jesus for all eternity! We pray that the Lord would move your hearts to join Him in His work!
Walking by faith because of the work of God in us,