Living the Christian life is a team sport! I’ve discovered the life-giving power of making heart-to-heart connections with others by simply asking some basic questions—and listening to answers. I’ll zero in on four of them in this month’s video.
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As followers of Christ, we’re all hard-wired with a dream, a Holy Ambition to make a difference in this life. Don’t be sidetracked by the storm clouds of war, evil, moral decline, and spiritual compromise gripping our world. Let these realities propel you to turn your dream into reality. It begins with a solid plan.
The mind of a man plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps.
Proverbs 16:9 (NASB 1995)
Dear Ministry Partner,
One of my favorite movies is Dead Poets Society. I love the scene where Robin Williams, playing a prep school teacher, takes his students out into the hallway to a glass showcase full of the school’s sports awards and memorabilia. Grainy black-and-white photos feature bright-eyed heroes now long dead.
“If you listen closely, you can hear them whisper their legacy to you. Do you hear them?” he whispers. “Carpe diem. Seize the day, boys. Make your lives extraordinary.”
The teacher reminds his students that one day worms will eat their mortal bodies and they’ll be nothing more than just people who traveled through this life. Will their lives matter? Not unless they choose to “seize the day” and make a difference!
Deep down, we all have a hunger to make a difference, to live the life that we were made to live, to fulfill the purposes that we were made by God to fulfill. When we don’t act on that hunger, it’s the death of a dream, of that purpose, of the divine assignment given to each of us by God. We’ve all had those quiet moments of uncanny clarity when the Holy Spirit whispers to our hearts. It stirs us, then moves us. We see a need, and we’re prompted to act, but somehow it stalls, then dies.
I’ve observed that most dreams, what I call Holy Ambitions, die because they lack a Strategic Plan. Our God-given dreams don’t move forward without a clear and specific plan. So as you think about your life and what it would take to carpe diem, let me provide some help from one of my favorite Old Testament characters on how to develop a Strategic Plan.
1. A Strategic Plan BEGINS with a Vision
Vision is a God-given burden that drives us to imagine what a person, place, or situation could become if God’s grace and power were unleashed on it. It begins with ordinary people like you and me allowing ourselves to dream about what God would have us do to bring about change that leads to restoration and healing.
2. A Strategic Plan LINKS Vision to Reality
This isn’t rocket science. Go ahead, right now, and pull out a sheet of paper and write down what you long to see happen in a specific situation that would honor God and bring about healing. As you put this down on paper, you’re taking the first step to seizing the day!
3. A Strategic Plan CHAMPIONS God’s Agenda
Nehemiah’s heart was broken for God’s Agenda in Jerusalem. When he saw the dire situation in the city (the broken wall and the people in despair), he used his position and influence with the king to share his Holy Ambition and ask for help. God moved the king to give Nehemiah everything he needed to rebuild the wall.
In the same way, God has already prepared people to give you the help that you need to fulfill the Holy Ambition He placed on your heart. You don’t have to do it all—in fact, you can’t do it all. It will take other gifted people and resources to help you make this dream a reality. But there’s something you must do before you ask for help.
4. A Strategic Plan Is SPECIFIC and WELL RESEARCHED
I can clearly remember a painful experience early on at Living on the Edge. We were experiencing rapid growth, and the resources needed to support the expanding ministry were great. A billionaire and his friend asked to meet with me to discover how they could help.
I enthusiastically shared stories of what God was doing to transform people’s lives, as well as the many doors of opportunity He was opening for us. They listened closely for over an hour, then asked, “What’s your Strategic Plan? How many staff members will you need? Where are you going to expand? How much will it cost?”
I had no answers. The fact of the matter was that I simply hadn’t done my homework! The men smiled, offered me words of encouragement…and did not support the ministry financially. Inspiration, opportunities, and intentions are no substitute for having a solid Strategic Plan.
God showed me that day that He doesn’t channel resources toward vague ideas.
Nehemiah went through a very specific process to develop his Strategic Plan. After carefully examining the extent of the problem, he connected with a very small group of people to consider the options, and then developed the plan.
Strategic Plans are needed for our marriages, our parenting, our work-life balance, our spiritual development, and our physical health. Unfortunately, many of us are walking through life too distracted to develop a plan for accomplishing what God has called us to do. As my father reminded me almost daily, “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail!”
I don’t know God’s specific calling on your life, but I do know He has one! (Ephesians 2:10). I also know that you will never drift your way into accomplishing His purpose for your life. It will require decisiveness and the support of others. You may even need to stop certain “good” activities in your life to allow space to start far more important ones.
Three and a half years ago, I could have never imagined
- Writing 2 new books and revising 2 others to address the critical issues of our day.
- Making 7 trips to China and seeing more than 2 million books with training placed in the hands of pastors and leaders with little or no theological education.
- Teaching and encouraging 10,000 pastors remotely in 60 countries through the pandemic. This opened doors for ongoing in-person training in Africa, India, and Central America
- Launching Daily Discipleship with Chip and mentoring more than 150,000 participants over the past 2 years.
My point, as the “storm clouds” of war, evil, moral decline, family disintegration, and spiritual compromise grip our world, is that now is the time to seize the day!
I’m so grateful for your support! All the impact I mentioned above was not me—it was us. And I need your prayers and support now, more than ever. Please pray with us and for us, and give financially as the Lord leads you.
Pressing ahead TOGETHER,
CEO and Teaching Pastor, Living on the Edge
During his daily commute, Mike came face to face with the Living God while listening to our broadcast. “Heart thumping, I bowed my head and prayed … then something powerful and warm washed over me: I felt the presence of the Holy Spirit that morning as I handed the reins of my life over to Christ.”
Finding Jesus On the Air: How the Broadcast Changes Lives
by Mike Holwick
It was a time and place I’ll never forget. Crawling southbound on the 101, I was laser focused on Chip Ingram’s voice on a Living on the Edge radio broadcast.”
As we come to the end of today’s teaching about The Real Heaven,” Chip said, “if you’d like to accept Christ as your Savior, would you pray with me now?” He was talking to me. Heart thumping, I bowed my head and prayed … then something powerful and warm washed over me: I felt the presence of the Holy Spirit that morning as I handed the reins of my life over to Christ. With tears of joy pouring onto my steering wheel, I thanked God for the journey that brought me here.
I was supposed to love Jesus. I also knew religion was important—at least it was to my mom, who made sure I got all the training our church offered. Through my childhood, I’d discovered countless facts about God, but they never translated into anything personal for me.
Fast-forward to high school graduation and Marine Corps boot camp. I had an empty space where personal faith in God should have been, even though every Sunday I went to church like clockwork. I only had three hours of free time each week at boot camp, and I used one of them for church—not to connect with Christ. The real reason was homesickness. I longed for anything that reminded me of home.
After my time in the Marines, I attended college in San Diego, and my thoughts of God were distant. It’s not that I’d given up on my faith; I just didn’t care enough to pursue it. My eyes were fixed on stuff about me, especially going after the “good life.”
Following graduation, my father invited me to move back home to run the family construction business. I accepted the offer, worked hard, and grew the company. I fell in love, married Nycole, and by 2013, we had three young kids. Life was good.
When our youngest was born, it was time to ground these kids morally. Nycole and I wanted them to turn out right and become contributing members of society. We decided to get them into religion, so we took them to church.
I was sorely disappointed, as I discovered the weekly messages focused more on politics than God. Week after week, I bristled, hearing views that conflicted with my own. Talk about taking the wind out of my sails! My passion for taking my family to church evaporated, and I decided to look for my religious fix elsewhere.
I found a religious SiriusXM radio station and began listening in the car. But again, political messages overshadowed talk about God. One morning something set me off and I was done. I hit the button to change the station and heard a guy named Chip talking comfortably and casually about Jesus and the Bible. He reeled me in. I’d never heard the Bible broken down like this. I was drawn to the way Chip presented Christ as a person I could know. I was intrigued by his constant references to the Bible and how much it mattered. I was hooked. I couldn’t wait to tune in every day.
Accepting Christ as my Savior that morning nine years ago marked the start of phenomenal changes in my life. Today my passion is knowing him, learning and teaching His Word, and loving my family.
Mike Holwick and his wife, Nycole, are parents to three kids, ages 14, 12, and 9. In addition to leading his construction company, Mike serves on the boards of his church, a local pregnancy center, and Living on the Edge.
Have a story to share? We’d love to hear from you! Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Power in Pain: Learning Survival Skills from James
More than 24,000 people joined Chip for ten days last month to walk through the newest Daily Discipleship: The A.R.T. of Survival series. Digging into James 1, Chip guided them through practical insights in three areas: an Attitude to Embrace, a Resource to Ask For, and a Theology to Understand.
“Trials are hard!” said a participant from Illinois who has experienced plenty. “My worst was 13 years ago, when I lost my 30-year-old son in an instant as a result of an accident.” She remembers. “That’s a lifelong trial that never goes away, and I could never say that I consider it pure joy that I lost him. But as God has softened my grief and brought joy back into my life, He has shown me several things. The most important thing is that I can consider it pure joy that I will see my son again someday—because we are both followers of Christ! That brings me peace and incredible joy. And I can now see that this horrific trial is giving me endurance and maturing me as a Christian.
“Right now,” she continued, “my trial isn’t nearly as difficult as when I lost my son. I just came through knee replacement surgery, then stayed with my daughter for three weeks very comfortably. But now that I’m back in my apartment, I just can’t seem to get comfortable. I’ve been hurting both physically and emotionally (lots of tears) and really struggling to do my exercises. My attitude has been just plain lousy, so Chip’s teaching about embracing a good attitude came at a perfect time. I knew I needed a better attitude, so I’m working on it. I’m learning to be grateful that God is good and that He is always with me. Although my life is hard, He is sovereign and wise. I’m realizing that each day, it’s up to me to control my attitude and make it better than it was the previous day. I can do that with God’s help!”
Another participant from the Midwest reflected on his two battles with cancer.
“Chip helped me see that, by the grace of God, these two experiences with cancer strengthened me. So when James says, ‘Consider it all joy,’ it makes sense to me. I’m so grateful that this study helped me understand that I can control my attitude in the face of trials and tribulations.”
Hope in the Midst of Persecution
African Pastors Surviving and Thriving in Trying Times
It’s not only the COVID-19 pandemic that’s causing unimaginable heartache and discouragement for Kenya’s pastors, though they continue struggling to recover following food shortages, government shutdowns, and the loss of parishioners.
It’s also deadly persecution—despite being a Christian-majority country—especially among Christians with Muslim backgrounds. Over the past three years, more than 400 Christians from coastal Lamu County have been martyred for their faith. Al-Shabaab, a Somali-based al-Qaeda-aligned terrorist group, has carried out these attacks. Believers live under constant fear of attack—even from their closest relatives.
In February, 40 pastors from this region traveled 140 miles to attend a Living on the Edge training in the coastal city of Malindi. The A.R.T. of Survival (a study of James 1) was a fitting topic for these leaders, since all of them personally knew men in their congregations who were recently slaughtered by terrorists.
To reduce the threat of attack on the road, this group traveled in a convoy protected by armed military personnel. Pastor Jilo, who leads a congregation of 300 in Lamu County, was one of those pastors.
“This time together was precious,” he said with tears in his eyes at the conclusion of the full-day meeting. “It’s the most refreshing and practical training I have experienced in a very long time.”
Pastor Jilo explained that the terrorists typically strike at night, moving in from their hideaways in the Boni Forest and going house to house to interrogate people about their faith. They usually spare women and children, but if a man professes faith in Christ, he is killed and his house is burned to the ground. Pastor Jilo lost two men from his own church recently.
With two young children, Pastor Jilo and his wife are continually concerned for their safety, so they take many safety precautions. Nevertheless, he is at peace and confident that God has called him to minister there.
Beginning in December of last year and continuing in January and February of this year, Living on the Edge, in collaboration with the Evangelical Alliance of Kenya, has reached 43 of Kenya’s 47 counties with The A.R.T. of Survival training, providing hope and encouragement to these pastors. The strategy includes training three pastors from each county to serve as “master trainers,” then identifying other key leaders to train in wards and municipalities. About 4,000 thousand pastors have been trained so far, and they’ve been challenged to reach 10 pastors each, with a goal of making this material available to 40,000 additional pastors so they can, in turn, share it with their churches.
“The enemy of the cross might look like he is winning,” one pastor said, “but the truth is, this period of persecution is producing bolder and more courageous believers.” As these African brothers and sisters face persecution, Living on the Edge is humbled by and grateful for opportunities to encourage, support, and strengthen them through the power of God’s Word.
Every month, we’ll share with you the top three prayer requests and praises from our team at Living on the Edge. This update is one of our favorite, as it’s so clear the many ways that God is at work in our ministry. Chip and our entire team encourage you to celebrate and pray alongside us.
We Thank God For…
- The progress of the pastor trainings across Africa. We receive daily reports from Kenya, Uganda, and Malawi as The A.R.T. of Survival is being introduced in these nations.
- Answering the prayers for our team members as they are completing development for The Real You resource, which is set to release this summer.
- Faithfully leading us to potential partnerships in India to bring The A.R.T. of Survival training to pastors later this year.
We ask God to…
- Bless the new edition of Chip’s book, Holy Ambition, and inspire believers to make a difference through this month’s broadcast.
- Guide our partners in China as they navigate the logistical challenges of printing and distributing 1 million copies of The A.R.T. of Survival.
- Protect and provide for the people of Ukraine, especially the widows and orphans who are being displaced during this time of war.
Living on the Edge helps Christians bring their faith to life by living before God, in community and on mission.