“Are you a Christian?”
Seems like a pretty innocuous phrase really. Not that harmful to ask and it usually wouldn’t cost you anything to answer it in most western countries. You might have to really consider the consequences if you lived in, say, Iran or North Korea. But not here in America. Right?
But in a local community college in Roseburg, Oregan, on October 1, 2015, answering that question would get you shot in the head.
Suddenly the question doesn’t seem so innocuous after all, especially if it comes from someone pointing a gun at you.
I have often wondered how I would respond. Would I love my life too much to want to answer truthfully or would I stand and boldly acknowledge the truth? Is my faith strong enough to stand in times of trouble?
I have often wondered if the particular brand of Christianity that we currently celebrate will be looked back upon by future generations with disgust. As a history fan, I have read about the different expressions of the Christian faith over the generations. There were times when what was “normal Christianity” did not look anything like the kind of faith that Jesus described. I am certain, though, that those who were living through it did not see the error of their way. When you don’t know any different, it’s amazing what you will put up with as normal.
Will future generations look at us and say the same thing? Will they consider our particular modern expression of faith as weak, watered down and lacking authentic faith? Or will they see it as steadfast, hope filled and dynamically expressing the Kingdom of God?
A pretty good litmus test for faith is how it responds under pressure. Real faith actually blossoms under trial and tribulation.
Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have obtained our introduction by faith into this grace in which we stand; and we exult in hope of the glory of God. And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us. Romans 5:1-5
Is God hoping that we face hardship and trouble? I don’t think so. I know my children will learn from falling off their bike, but I am not hoping they fall off! But, falling a few times will teach them how to persevere and perseverance will bring about the reward of riding a bike.
Knowing the character of God enables us to trust the process even when we don’t understand it.
Corrie Ten Boom is quoted as saying this, “When a train goes through a tunnel and it gets dark, you don’t throw away the ticket and jump off. You sit still and trust the engineer.”
Trial and tribulation will come to us. Difficult circumstances will surround us. We may yet be faced with someone who desires to take our life because of what we believe. But we can be steadfast. The only surety we have comes from knowing God – not just about Him, but knowing Him.
Find out more by checking out my book here.
Praying for those who lost family members in that tragedy…
Hey friends and family, I wanted to send you all a quick message to update you on our situation.
Since arriving in KY at the beginning of the year to take care of my mother-in-law, time has flown. Even with my continued travel schedule, we were still able to spend a great deal of time together as a family focused on helping KC’s mom heal, engaging together as a family and restoring relationships in KY. We are so grateful for the last 8 months here in Louisville.
While we had hoped that this would be a place that we could land long term, we have come to a bit of a crossroad as a family. With my job in Roseville at an end and no consistent work here in Louisville, KC and I made a decision to begin to ask the Lord if there was any options elsewhere that could match our DNA, our passions and our desire to put family first.
Within a week, I had multiple doors open up in Kansas City and, knowing that our hearts have been connected with that city for years, we felt like we needed to explore those options. In doing so, we felt a clear shift for us to head in that direction.
With that being said, we will be moving our family back to Kansas City at the end of this month. There is an opportunity to do many of the things that are on our hearts including a missional community, music endeavors (including mentoring and development) in the christian and secular industry, great schooling for the kids, opportunities for KC to stretch her wings again in the workplace and multiple ministries that we will partner with as a family.
Ultimately, I feel a heavy responsibility to create an environment for my family to thrive in and we feel that the Lord has opened up those things in Kansas City. Often, the path the Lord leads us on is not the one we initially expected. However, we can be sure that whatever happens, God can make good things out of any situation.
To launch some of the things we believe the Lord is asking us to do, we will be raising some financial support while also continuing to work in different areas. This support will not be our only income, but it will help initially supplement our income. This support will enable us to launch a missional community “church” in Kansas City, something the Lord has been speaking to KC and I about for some time, build a discipleship program for musicians and artists, continue to travel teaching on adoration and worship (for free, if the support allows it – which would be my ultimate hope) and be a voice of hope in Kansas City.
You can check that out easy monthly giving options here – www.patreon.com/benwoodward. If you would like to give monthly but would like to do it as a tax deductible donation, please email me and I will let you know how to set that up with our partner 501c3 organization, 1159 Ministries INC.
All in all, this will be a quick transition for us due to the kids schooling and a few other things.
We are so grateful for the relationships we have been a part of over the years and we are excited to continue to build family and see God’s Kingdom expressed wherever the Lord leads us. I will also be officially launching my new website in the next few weeks along with an online study based on my book “You Shall Know The Truth”.
As always, we only desire to be led by the Holy Spirit in all things. Please continue to keep us in your prayers during this transition.
If you have any questions please call me or shoot me a message, I would be happy to chat with you, pray with you and partner with you to see Jesus magnified in your life!
Love you all,
Ben, KC, Eliana, Cohen and Paisley Woodward
With all the travel that I do across different countries and cities, I often get the chance to meet the most unique people. A while ago a trip to England afforded me the opportunity to sit next to a Hasidic Jew. He was returning to England from an orthodox college in New York. Pretty quickly our conversation turned into a discussion about religion (it probably didn’t help that I pulled out Derek Prince’s book on prayer and fasting…)
Our conversation began with a dialogue about some of the differences regarding Judaism and what I called the “Jesus” religion. As he realized that I was not your average “know-nothing-about-your-bible” western Christian he began to ask some deeper questions. You want to know what we spent close to 40 minutes talking about?
Why God chose to create the earth.
This young Hasidic Jew was confounded as to why he existed and he admitted that he would probably spend the rest of his life trying to figure that out. He was frustrated because he could not explain why God created him. He knew the Jewish race was chosen by God but had no answer as to why. We talked about the time continuum and where God existed in relation to that. We discussed if God knew the future or not and if so then why did he still allow certain things to happen (the freedom of choice argument). As the conversation progressed I began to realize that all this young Jewish boy had was more and more questions and no answers. He said you had to be very smart to understand the writings of the Rabbis and that it takes a long time to understand.
And that was where our conversation changed. To me, it is very simple.
Why do we exist? Because God desires fellowship. Did he have fellowship before us? Was he complete before us? Yes. Then why create us? Because He wanted to. When I got married, my wife and I were completely happy to just live with the two of us in the house and enjoy each others company. We didn’t have children because we were bored or felt incomplete, we had children because we desired to extend our family and bring others into the fellowship that we enjoyed.
We exist to enjoy Him and be enjoyed by Him. When we start to believe that, we can enter into relationship with Him that goes beyond religion and questions and wonderings. The answer is simple – He actually likes us.
If your view of God is a distant God who rules the earth from afar and is focused on rules and regulations then you will find it difficult to believe in a God that could create children simply because He wants to. It is especially hard when you know that children make a lot of mess, tend to be disobedient and cry a lot. Children are not clean and do not follow rules (mostly). But we love them just the same.
It really is that simple. “But Jesus said, “Let the children alone, and do not hinder them from coming to Me; for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.”” Matt. 19.14
The kingdom of heaven does not belong only to the educated rabbis, or the rule keepers and certainly not the perfect (as we see perfect to be). It belongs to the little children. Next time you wonder why you exist, tell yourself it’s because God likes you and wants to be in relationship with you. That should change the outlook of your day.