Do You Have Beautiful Feet?

Terry Hull —  September 23, 2014 — 1 Comment


Announcing our seventh annual Costa Rica For Christ evangelism trip: Jan. 19-26, 2015.

Every January since 2008, Terry and Norma Hull of Joshua One Ministries have led a group of Christians to Costa Rica for a week of fellowship, assistance, evangelism, preaching, teaching and fun in Costa Rica.

We are now accepting names for our 2015 team. But please hurry! We have blocked out 30 seats on Delta Airlines, and on Oct. 6, we must pay a $100 nonrefundable deposit for every seat we want to keep. So, if you have a serious interest in joining our team, now is the time to speak up.

During our week in Costa Rica, we will be:

    • Doing a construction project to assist an impoverished church.
    • Offering free health clinics to provide minor health care to low income citizens.
    • Hosting a three-day Preaching-Teaching Convention for hundreds of Costa Rican Christians.
    • Conducting a half-day pastors/pastors wives leadership seminar.

Mainly, we will be bringing love and encouragement to the two dozen independent Christian churches we work with in Costa Rica through our friend, Evangelist Rodrigo Rojas.

Cost of the trip per team member is $1975, with the first $100 due on Oct. 6. For more information, send an email to terryhull@joshuaone.org . I’ll send you a four-page prospectus with all the information you need about this missions opportunity.

“How then will they call on Him in whom they have not believed? How will they believe in Him whom they have not heard? And how will they hear without a preacher? How will they preach unless they are sent? Just as it is written, ‘How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news of good things!’” (Romans 10:14-15)

Jackie Robinson with the Brooklyn Dodgers, 1947

Jackie Robinson with the Brooklyn Dodgers, 1947


“42” is the first very good, but not quite great, movie of 2013.

“42” is also the first good baseball movie in a couple of years. (“Moneyball” was pretty good in 2011, but “42” is better.) “42” is also the first good Christian movie of 2013.

In other words, go see “42.”

“42” tells the true story of Jackie Robinson, the first African American to play major league baseball in the modern era, when he joined the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1946. After a year with the Montreal farm club, Robinson took the field with the Dodgers in 1947.

That’s just long enough ago to be “an earlier time” for most of us. In the 21st century, it is nearly impossible to fathom the response our nation had, just 66 years ago, to a black man stepping onto the baseball field with white players.

It made headlines across the country. Some of Robinson’s own teammates signed a petition stating their refusal to play with him. Some opposing teams threatened to forfeit their games.

Robinson and his family received death threats. When he took to the field, many in the stands booed. When he was at bat, pitchers aimed for his head. When he was on the field, base runners spiked his legs. Opposing managers and players taunted him publicly with vicious epithets.

Robinson, just 28 years old, endured it all. He took the sins of a nation upon his young shoulders without lashing out or fighting back.

Martin Luther King was 18 years old that year. Just seven years later, in 1955, King led the Montgomery Bus Boycott. Rosa Parks is famous for bravely refusing to move to the back of the bus, sparking that boycott. But Parks wasn’t the first to demonstrate such courage. In 1944, two years before being signed by the Dodgers, Jackie Robinson, an Army soldier, refused to give up his seat on an Army bus at Fort Hood, Texas. He was brought under court-martial and acquitted.

I am a white man, but I owe a debt of thanks to Jackie Robinson for making America a better nation. I certainly have no desire to live in a country where African Americans or people of any race are degraded for their skin color or deprived of liberty or respect. Although racism certainly still exists, I am thankful for how far our nation has come, and thankful to Robinson and King for leading the way.

“42” not only tells the story of Robinson, but of Dodgers general manager Branch Rickey, who courageously defied the color line by signing Robinson to his team. Rickey is played by Harrison Ford, in one of the best performances of his career.

Branch Rickey was “a dedicated, Bible-loving Christian,” according to his biographer. Of all the great players in the Negro Leagues, Rickey chose Robinson partly because Robinson was a fellow Christian. Like Rickey, Robinson’s mother was a devout Methodist, and Robinson himself taught Sunday School.

When Rickey challenged Robinson to become major league baseball’s first black player, he warned Robinson that he would be subjected to hatred and threats of violence, to which he would have no choice but to follow Christ’s admonition to turn the other cheek, to be someone “with guts enough not to fight back.”

If Robinson had attempted to fight racism with his fists, he could never have beat all the ignorance and hatred out of an entire nation. But by standing there, by taking it, by turning the other cheek, by rising above, by proving that he was far the better man than those who derided him, Robinson forced the entire nation to take sides — either with the brave young man standing proudly on the field alone, or with the ignorant, hate-filled racists in the bleachers.

The one shortcoming of “42,” and it is a big one, is that although the movie highlights Rickey’s faith and love for the Scriptures, it fails to shine the same spotlight on Robinson’s faith. Rickey was a great man, but the title of this movie is “42.” That’s the number that Robinson wore as he stood defiantly on the ballfield as thousands surrounding him poured out their venom. “42” is a good movie that could have been great if it had done more to reveal Robinson’s inner motivations, especially the faith that empowered him.

Jackie Robinson was indeed a Christian, who ended each day on his knees in prayer, especially during the anguish of 1947. In one of the few times the movie does give a glimpse of Robinson’s faith, he tells his wife, Rachel, that he won’t give up.

“I won’t,” Robinson said. “God built me to last.”

In Oklahoma City, it is rare for a theater audience to applaud a movie. I am pleased to say that in my neighborhood last Saturday, the Jackie Robinson story, as told in “42,” received an ovation from my fellow theater-goers. I recommend it highly.

People who are great dancers, and people who never will be.
People who are rabid about sports, and people who are not.
People who really love pets, and people who really don’t.

Good-looking people, and people who — not so much.
People who are in a rush, and people who are taking their time.
People who are afraid, and people who are not afraid.

People who smile, and people who don’t.
People who watch the credits, and people who aren’t watching.
People who enjoy an ice cold beer on a hot summer day, and people who never will.

People who want to go to church, and people who don’t want to go.
People who walk by faith, and people who walk by sight.
People who get it, and people who don’t.

People whom God loves.

One of the most consistent patterns of God’s dealings with us is this:
Vision → Death → Resurrection → Triumph

Looking back, can you see that pattern in your own life?

We could call it the Easter Formula. In all the span of history, the most obvious example of this divine pattern is the phenomenal events of Easter.

  • The promise of a Messiah.
  • The torturous death of Christ on the cross.
  • His amazing resurrection from the dead.
  • His promised return to reign in eternal triumph.

“Up from the grave He arose, with a mighty triumph o’er his foes.
He arose a victor from the dark domain.
And He lives forever, with His saints to reign.
He arose! He arose! Hallelujah! Christ arose!”

Vision → death → resurrection → triumph is the proclamation of Easter. Look back over your own life, and I am sure you will see the Easter Formula repeated many times.

• God gave you a Vision. Maybe a specific promise impressed upon your heart. Maybe a calling received through His Holy Spirit. Maybe a desire or ambition that was a product of the unique person God created you to be.

• Then came the complete Death of that vision. The harsh circumstances of this life, including very possibly your own sins and shortcomings, made fulfillment of the vision seem utterly impossible. All hope was dead.

• Then, amazingly, miraculously, God Resurrected your vision and led you to Triumph. God kept His promise, long after you had given up. God worked in and through you to carry out your calling. God fulfilled that ambition at a time and in a way that you would never have believed possible.

God is the Great Author, and this is one of His most common story lines.

Abraham and Sarah longed to have a son. Infertility and the passage of time brought complete death to that vision. Then, God renewed their hope and miraculously gave them a son, Isaac, in their old age.

• God gave Joseph the dream of being a great ruler. Then Joseph’s dream was completely smashed to bits. Kidnapped, sold into slavery, falsely accused, thrown into prison — Joseph’s dream couldn’t have been any deader. Then God miraculously moved Joseph from travail to triumph, from imprisonment to power. Joseph’s vision came true, long after all hope was dead and gone.

• God positioned Moses to deliver his fellow countrymen. He grew up in the palace, the adopted grandson of Pharaoh! Then, due entirely to his own lawlessness, Moses became a murderer and fugitive and alien. The chance of ever being Israel’s deliverer was completely dead. But a full generation later, when Moses was 80 years old, God resurrected that vision in a spectacular way. Moses delivered God’s people and become one of the most important figures of history, long after fulfillment was a complete impossibility.

And that’s just Genesis and Exodus. This divine pattern, the Easter Formula, continues throughout the Scriptures. Consider David: anointed as a young boy, hunted down as a young man, then crowned the king. Job: who had it all, then lost it all, then received it all back twice over. Vision, death and resurrection have played out several times in the amazing story of Israel, and that nation’s ultimate Triumph lies ahead. It is even the story of this planet, from paradise lost … to sin, suffering, the coming tribulation, and ultimately, complete destruction … before the revelation of a New Earth.

What is the message of the Easter Formula in your own personal life right now?

Have hope: Don’t be fooled by the death of your vision. God is in the miracle-working business. Your hopelessness may be a step toward resurrection and triumph.

Have wisdom: Don’t be fooled by the source of your vision. God never promised to grant every whim or fulfill each earthly desire. However, if the promise came from Him, it will come to pass. Distinguishing between God’s vision and our own, between God’s hand at work and our own fleshly activity, is one of the great arts of spirituality. But it is possible to do. Search your heart. Ask for wisdom. Plead with the Great Communicator to make His will known.

Be patient: God is a patient God. He does not mark time the same way we do. Consider the stories above. Triumph often comes decades, centuries or even millennia after the vision.

Rise above: Life is about the process. Surely that much is clear.

The story of Christ, the greatest story ever told, is not finished yet. Actually, Jesus has barely begun. He came, He died and He rose again. That was just the First Act in the story of the Kingdom.

Now we wait. We hope. We are wise. Waiting patiently. Rising above. Believing that He will return … in triumph. And then — no more suffering, no more pain, no more poverty, no more hardship, no more death, no more tears.

“We eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ; who will transform the body of our humble state into conformity with the body of His glory, by the exertion of [His] power.” (Phil 3:20-21)

“Live sensibly, righteously and godly in the present age, looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our Great God and Savior, Christ Jesus.” (Titus 2:12-13).

Should we just give up on pondering The Ideal Church? Not a chance.

Back on Dec. 19, on this blog, I raised the question: What Does The Ideal Church Look Like? My hope was to spark a vigorous discussion on an important topic at a time when the modern American church is clearly in a rapid state of decline. Unfortunately, the response was less than vigorous; it attracted just five comments.

OK, I get it. What did I expect on Dec. 19? As I was uploading that post, you were standing in line somewhere to buy a Lego set or a Barbados Barbie or a Keurig coffeemaker for someone you love. And I wanna talk about church? You had cookies to frost, a Christmas tree to plug in, and gift cards to swap. Who has the time?

Sorry, but I’m not going away that easily. I’ve been raising this question for several decades now, and never has it been more relevant than today. What does The Ideal Church look like? Whether you are a church member, or are searching for a church home, or are thinking about starting a new church, the answer to this question is essential.

The few responses we did receive are outstanding. Two pastors, one in Texas and one in Oklahoma, weighed in, plus a great Christian sister in San José, Costa Rica, as well as the ever-reliable “Anonymous.”

Eric Keller has been the pastor of Oakwood Christian Church in Enid, Okla., for 4+ years. Oakwood is a great church with several hundred members that found itself in difficult waters a few years ago. Eric has done an amazing job of leading Oakwood through a series of difficult transitions, with the result that Oakwood is a stronger church now than it has been in years.

Eric listed six qualities of an ideal church. No. 1 on Eric’s list: “Biblical Authority: God has spoken to us through the Bible and we recognize it as the final authority in our lives.” Amen, brother!

Steve Hinton is pastor of Cypress Crossings Christian Church in Houston. CCCC was started more than a dozen years ago by a handful who left another church. The group laid a strong foundation in a growing suburban neighborhood, but couldn’t break past an attendance of around 75 during its first ten years. Then Cypress Crossings called Steve three years ago. Steve has led CCCC to experience a great turnaround, which is one of the hardest things for any church to achieve. Attendance has doubled; the church is growing in maturity and outreach.

Steve listed three characteristics of an ideal church. No. 1 on Steve’s list: “An unwavering Commitment to the Word of God.” Amen, brother!

Eric and Steve are following the same playbook, and the results speak for themselves. What a transformation would occur if more churches decided that in 2013, their No. 1 commitment — first, foremost, and to the exclusion of all others– is the Word of God.

What about you? Do you have an opinion about the Ideal Church? Has it occurred to you that maybe it isn’t just up to the pastors to decide? Is it possible God that expects each one of us, every member of the Body, to participate in making the church the church?

The odds are that your church is less than ideal. So what are you doing to point your church to better days? It is impossible to achieve a goal that has not been identified, specified and articulated. That’s the purpose of this question.

What do you think? Don’t be intimidated by what Eric and Steve have written. They’re just the pastors. Without the enthusiastic participation of a turned-on congregation, all a pastor can do is put on a good weekend show. Many pastors and many congregations are content with that. But that’s sure not the ideal. What you say about the church matters, because you ARE the church.

Maybe you think the most important thing is the music. Maybe you think it’s all about the kids. Maybe you think the most important thing is location, location, location. The ideal church has dozens of positive characteristics, and each one requires a church member who speaks up from his or her unique background and gifting and perspective.

Do you want to be part of The Ideal Church? The only way it will ever happen is if we start having the conversation. How about contributing to the discussion by weighing in in the comments field below — or the comments field of the earlier post?