October 22, 2017

Courage The Cowardly Christian

“Hello, my name is Jeff, and I am a spiritual coward.”

(Chorus) “Hi, Jeff.”

This is me, a spiritual coward. It is not easy for me to admit this, and many who know me might question the accuracy or sincerity of this tag. But it’s most certainly true. Those who know me may say, “But you seem to always be so confident in what you are doing.” Sure. But how much faith does it take to grab the low-hanging fruit? Do you see me sailing out into the deep waters, or skimming skillfully along the shoreline?

When it comes to risking all or playing it safe, I am one of the safest safety-oriented Christians you will find. When presented with a risk, I have most often taken the path marked “prudence.” I will say I am processing, examining, gathering information, trying to make a wise decision. The truth is, most often I am just plain scared to make a move in case I fail.

Laziness and cowardice put our own present comfort before the love of God. They fear the uncertainty of the future because they place no trust in God … Laziness flies from all risk. Discretion flies from useless risk: but urges us on to take the risks that faith and the grace of God demand of us … And sooner or later, if we follow Christ we have to risk everything in order to gain everything. We have to gamble on the invisible and risk all that we can see and taste and feel. But we know the risk is worth it, because there is nothing more insecure that the transient world. For this world as we see it is passing away (1 Corinthians 7:31). ~Thomas Merton

I have written lately about following the dangerous God. About putting out to sea in my boat rather than staying in the safe harbor. I have hinted that I am in a battle of faith, that there is something the Lord is calling me to that scares me greatly. I have not related what my struggle is. So in order for this essay to make sense, I am going to have to speak specifically of what this call is—or, at least, one of the calls I am hearing. This one deals with me vocationally. If it does not make sense to you, that is because it is my call, not yours. Perhaps you can, however, see how you should act on what you know God wants you to do but are scared to do it by seeing how I am going to try to act on what God wants me to do.

Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the judgment that something else is more important than fear.  ~Ambrose Redmoon

Courage is doing what you’re afraid to do.  There can be no courage unless you’re scared.  ~Eddie Rickenbacker

For some time now—not weeks, but years—I have had a desire to create a retreat for writers, a place where those who want to write can come and not only work on their craft, but work on their hearts as well. There have been places like this before. (For instance, Flannery O’Connor lived for a while at Yaddo in upstate New York with other writers, a place where she was able not only to hone her art, but to learn more about the human nature.) This last fall, the Lord began to expand that vision to include artists of all sorts. I have always loved talking with artists about their vision of the arts. When I am asked to speak at writers’ conferences, one of my favorite topics is creativity and where our imagination comes from in the first place. I love to help set artists free from the little Christian art box we like to put them in. You know—if you are a Christian painter, then you can only paint pictures of a pasty-white Jesus knocking on someone’s door, or of cottages in gardens with unusual light coming from their windows. If you are a Christian songwriter, you have to write plastic lyrics that portray Jesus as your girlfriend. And if you are a Christian novelist, you have to create fake characters acting in unrealistic ways in an unreal world. None of this brings glory to the Lord. It is simply an attempt to make money from people who need to feel good about themselves. And it makes me sick. I want to help those who really long to create art that glorifies God to do so.

Thus, my desire to start an artists retreat/school/monastery. And, thus, my great fear. Who am I to do this? Where will the funds come from? Where will the artists come from? And what if I have nothing to offer them? What if I fail? Then what?

Courage can’t see around corners, but goes around them anyway.  ~Mignon McLaughlin

Courage is being scared to death… and saddling up anyway.  ~John Wayne

So I have stayed in the nice, familiar world where I feel safe. I can act as a literary agent for those who write typical Christian books and market those to publishers who know there is a ready market for easy reads. Low-hanging fruit is easy to reach. Or I could acquire scripts for a publisher, working with big-name, celebrity preachers who may or may not have anything to say, but will sell books because they pastor large churches and have a face for TV. This is safe work. Almost guaranteed success. I can build a good reputation and a good name for myself doing this (as well as make a decent income). But perhaps the most dangerous thing I—or you—can do is to ignore God’s calling. To try to control my own life so I maintain a nice comfort level. It is very dangerous to try to live a safe life.

The more scared we are of a work or calling, the more sure we can be that we have to do it.  ~Steven Pressfield

Have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.  ~Steve Jobs

A few months ago, one of my business partners and I discussed how we could best reach artists to help free them to proclaim the Gospel of grace through their art. We decided to incorporate a school as a start. And, as publishing is currently undergoing the greatest upheaval since the invention of the printing press, we called the school New Gutenberg University. Right now, it is just a name on paper (although incorporated in the great state of Oklahoma). I have talked with three people where I live who have told me they want to learn to write, and we will soon start a course of study that not only will help them in their writing, but more importantly it will hopefully help free them to really, truly know the depth and width and height of the amazing grace of our amazing God. That is what will make the difference in their art: Really knowing the Gospel, not intellectually, but experientially. Letting go of certainties they have held for so long and learning to be free to live in daily grace.

In the end, they wanted security more than they wanted freedom. ~Edward Gibbon (The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire)

I still feel a greater call, one that will take much more courage on my part. A school, a retreat center, a specific place where people can come and live and learn. It’s one thing to meet with a few people in my living room or at a coffee shop, and another to invite them to come live for a while in a group home. Will anyone do it? How will it work? Who will pay the bills? How do I start?

Courage is the power to let go of the familiar.  ~Raymond Lindquist

You can’t test courage cautiously.  ~Anne Dillard

Cautious, careful people, always casting about to preserve their reputation and social standing, never can bring about a reform. Those who are really in earnest must be willing to be anything or nothing in the world’s estimation, and publicly and privately, in season and out, avow their sympathy with despised and persecuted ideas and their advocates, and bear the consequences. ~Susan B. Anthony

So here I am. I am on the pier, looking at the sail boat God has given to me. I can keep it in the safety of the harbor, occasionally taking it out into the shallows just to show that I really do know how to sail. Or I can cast off into the deep where the real dangers—and real rewards—lurk. I have played it safe for decades. I am tired of the safe harbor. Not because I want to have thrills, but because I want to know God as He truly is. I really want to see a revolution in the arts (sorry for the cliche; it’s late and the best I can do) among the followers of the Creator Himself. I am ready to launch a retreat center and school. I even know of a great location. It has been in front of me for three years, but it was not until this past weekend when I was in Ohio that I noticed it. I had to laugh when I thought, “It’s been here and ready all this time. Where have I been? Oh yeah—in the harbor.”

If you debate for even one second when God has spoken, it is all over for you. Never start to say, “Well, I wonder if He really did speak to me?” Be reckless immediately— totally unrestrained and willing to risk everything— by casting your all upon Him. You do not know when His voice will come to you, but whenever the realization of God comes, even in the faintest way imaginable, be determined to recklessly abandon yourself, surrendering everything to Him. It is only through abandonment of yourself and your circumstances that you will recognize Him. You will only recognize His voice more clearly through recklessness— being willing to risk your all.  ~Oswald Chambers

I am still a coward. I have yet to push off and sail into the deep. But I am getting closer. I have to. I can no longer be satisfied playing it safe. I have to know, really know, that God is who He says He is. That if I seek His Kingdom, He will take care of everything else.

I feel at times like Bilbo Baggins, who had no desire to go on adventures, but was thrust into one anyway, and much good came from it. I am ready to let go of the safety net. I am ready to learn to be courageous. I am ready to sail into the deep.

Stay tuned…

Courage is found in unlikely places. ~J.R.R. Tolkien


Comments

  1. Best wishes on the new endeavor, Jeff.

    Brad

  2. Build it, and I’m there, Jeff. I’m deadly serious. I’ll even shave my head and don a monk’s robe. As a writer, songwriter, and musician who spends most of his time just scraping from paycheck to paycheck at a deadend job, being part of a community of Christian artists in an environment of creativity and free expression is something I would most certainly be interested in. Actually, it’s something I have fantasized about for years.
    If this is something that you truly believe that God has planted in your heart and imagination, then you have to do it. And if that doesn’t convince you, then I’ll resort to begging. Please, please, please, a thousand times over, turn this vision into a reality.

    • Pray for me, Ron. Pray that I have wisdom and courage as I move forward. I will be back in Ohio the first week of July and am going to explore this further. Pray pray pray.

  3. Good journeys, Brother Jeff! Remember that kingdom success doesn’t always look like what we are expecting, and that even in hard times and apparent failure God is still with you.

  4. All power to your spritual elbow!
    For years I’ve wanted or felt driven to open a pilgrimage center here in Scotland not knowing where to start or where the money would come from.
    You have my prayer support.

  5. Hey Jeff watch out for that first step!Your head goes woozy and the blood will go rushing up your head and then..BANG!!Somebody behind you will giggle, ‘I told ya so!’.Oh dont worry Jeff, I too have never over come that feeling that I need courage. I pray I never will.I always want to keep looking up to the One who is my courage and strength.

  6. JoanieD says:

    Jeff, I have a feeling that if you open this gathering place for artists, your problem will not be whether or not people will show up; your problem will be deciding how to limit the number of people you can have at one time!

    I wish you well in this venture. Go for it!

    • totally agree here; you will have to come up with some kind of sanctified lottery (minus the stones, I suppose….) because I think both the goths and visigoths will be at the door..

  7. Best wishes to you, Jeff. I’m sure I’m one of many who would be very interested in attending such a school/retreat.

  8. This sure hits home, Jeff, in more ways than you will ever know. First, for many many years I have felt the inner urge, desire, to write. I have always loved writing what wells up in my spirit in my relationship with God. But these are things I have only shared with I believe 2 other people. It has always seemed so personal why would anyone else care to read any such thing….Such is my dilemma and I am certain there are so many out there who would find a “safe” harbor at this home away from home you are seeking to build. “Safe” to explore the possibilities God may be opening to them in using their creativity.

    How true this statement of yours! “This one deals with me vocationally. If it does not make sense to you, that is because it is my call, not yours. ”

    I have know this space so very well. It is sad that there are those who cannot support someone in what they are called to do simply because they don’t believe it is something God would want, they don’t believe it makes any sense or has any real value. There will always be those who want to keep God in a box believing He doesn’t work, and can’t work or doesn’t want anything beyond the parameters of that box. From what I see so far, you have great support from the imonk community. Hold onto this when the opposition comes.

    You spoke of a place where others “can come and not only work on their craft, but work on their hearts as well” ; “my desire to start an artists retreat/school/monastery.”

    Speaking from experience, there is nothing like living with the same group of people: eating, praying, working, recreating etc.. together, within a Monday through Sunday continuum, for someone to intensely experience the full complexities of the human condition, to learn about who they really are and who God really is. And with this, if they are open to it, develop an incredibly intimate relationship with God they previously couldn’t have imagined was a possibility or doubted the truth that is was something God wanted for them. Spending prolonged periods of time, in silence, alone with God, can truly bring about what you hope for; ” help free them to really, truly know the depth and width and height of the amazing grace of our amazing God. That is what will make the difference in their art: Really knowing the Gospel, not intellectually, but experientially. Letting go of certainties they have held for so long and learning to be free to live in daily grace.” There is a level of interior freedom available to those who are courageous enough to embark on the journey, to “cast off into the deep where the real dangers—and real rewards—lurk. Not because I want to have thrills, but because I want to know God as He truly is.”

    Cast off Jeff, the adventure of a lifetime awaits you! Thank you for sharing this personally sacred space you are in. It has gifted me in more ways than you could know.

  9. Courage the Cowardly Dog was scared out of his mind all the time, anxious over everything, but he did some of the bravest things! 🙂

  10. Here’s two quotes for you for inspiration:

    Just started reading 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea for the first time, so here’s an early one from Captain Nemo….
    “Ah! sir, live – live in the bosom of the waters! There only is independence! There I recognize no masters! There I am free!”

    The other came from a desk calendar. I’ve got it taped to my computer.

    “Courage atrophies from lack of use.”

  11. Jo Ann Peterson says:

    I’m with ya Jeff! No hesitation. Go!

  12. Jeff, a serious question: what do you think is the relationship between faith in yourself here and faith in God? Is this your desire? If so, I don’t think it’s any less worth having faith in, nor do I think that your faith will make any less difference. But I just want to know why you couch this in terms of faith in God.

    Sincere question, and I hope it will be taken as such.

    Sometimes, I’m not sure that it’s about God as much as we hope. But maybe if there’s a God she watches smiling as we have faith in the part of her that she chipped off and sent down to be Jeff.

    I’d say “I believe in you and your retreat center,” but it’d be too easy and cheap. I hope there are people around you saying, “Man, I have faith in god in Jeff, and I’m going to support this with sweat and cash and co-signings and love.”

    I hope there’s a lot of that.

    • Otter, I have tried having faith in myself and my own abilities. I get to a dead end rather quickly that way. Most of my life I have spent trying to please God with faith in myself. Lousy choice. Now I seek to trust God knowing I have no abilities or skills or talents that are of the least value to God apart from Himself. I now seek to trust God, not as I think him to be, but as he knows himself to be.

      Does this answer your question, or am I misreading what you asked?

  13. And, as publishing is currently undergoing the greatest upheaval since the invention of the printing press, we called the school New Gutenberg University. Right now, it is just a name on paper (although incorporated in the great state of Oklahoma).

    I even know of a great location. It has been in front of me for three years, but it was not until this past weekend when I was in Ohio that I noticed it.

    Whyohio?

    Why? Oh, hi, O!

    Ohio? Why?

    Oh.

    Why?

    Or is it okay, I mean OK?

    Where: OK or OH?

  14. Thanks Jeff…from someone who needed to read this this morning.

  15. Just to whet your appetite and put some kick in your vision, Jeff…. (Note: No affiliation with the place, I just love the look of it.)

    • sure hope heaven and/or the new earth looks something like this, maybe I’m hearing a calling to Austin…..

      Greg R

    • JoanieD says:

      Wow, Otter, I clicked on the Walking Tour and saw the photos of the place and it’s gorgeous there. It must be expensive, especially because they provide so much technology to the recording artists. I would like to stay there just to enjoy the place. I don’t have any particular artistic talents.

    • Looks awesome, Otter. Next time I am in the hill country of Texas I’ll have to check that out!

  16. Have absolutely no idea if this is any use at all to you, but here’s a link to Act One:

    http://www.actoneprogram.com/

    Act One, Inc., exists to create a community of Christian professionals for the entertainment industry who are committed to artistry, professionalism, meaning, and prayer, so that through their lives and work they may be witnesses of Christ and the Truth to their fellow artists and to the global culture.

    Our graduates are prepared for careers marked by integrity and excellence, in writers’ rooms, on sets, and in studio and network offices.

    Our Vision
    Our vision is to produce cinema and television that respect and serve the global audience, combining mastery of craft with depth and substance. Our emphasis is on transforming the content of Hollywood entertainment and the culture that produces it.

    In service of this vision, Act One offers a variety of educational programs endorsed by industry insiders, including the Writing for Film & Television Program and the Producing & Entertainment Executive Program.

    Location
    The Act One offices are located in the hills beneath the iconic Hollywood sign in the historic neighborhood of Hollywoodland. This location reminds us to pray always for the Hollywood community that we serve.”

    I know of it through a Catholic blogger, Barbara Nicolosi, and they may? possibly? be able to give you general pointers about ‘how do I set up this thing and get it financed/off the ground as a viable concern’.

    Best wishes for your success! St Francis de Sales, patron of writers (in particular, journalists), pray for you! 😉

    • Thanks, Martha. I know some of those involved with ActOne. I may visit with them sometime. I would love to lead a writers’ retreat in Ireland sometime soon. Your thoughts?

      And I will take all the prayer I can get. St. Francis de Sales included!

  17. DunkerEric says:

    For what it is worth, I’ve had very much the same vision for 20 years. Why, I don’t know, but perhaps to encourage you to realize it?

  18. If it’s truly God’s leading and call (and it seems that way from your post), then you should go for it. It will be hard. It will be challenging. There will be roadblocks and you will be discouraged at times. Many times you won’t know what the next move is or where the next answer (or maybe even dollar or meal) will come from. Do it anyway and trust God. Don’t let your preconceived expectations get too specific because God has a wild sense of humor about crafting things a little differently than we muddled servants might have imagined.

    I’ve done similar things — followed God off a seemiing cliff — twice in my life so far, and as hard as those experiences were, they were also the richest times of spiritual growth and faith. I wouldn’t trade them for anything.

    On a more practical note, the type of place you envision is much needed, especially if we are to make the gospel appealing in a post-modern world. Art and stories can speak to the heart when rational and theological arguments bounce off.

  19. It’s rare when someone gets such a tangible calling.
    As an artist/writer I am constantly wrestling with how God will use the talents he gave me. I’ve come to a point where I have to just kinda let things happen. I know I’m on track when what I do shakes things up. If it is in His will, it will be accomplished. Those are the perks of being Omnipotent, Omnipresent, and Omniscient…
    As Rich Mullins tells us in his song “Screendoor”, “I really think you need to take a leap off the ship before you claim to walk on water…”
    Which is to say, you gotta step out of the boat, or sail out of the harbor.
    Yet, that is one of the hardest things for us to do. How do you simply walk away from everything and follow Christ?
    Tough…tough…tough…to put into practice.

  20. David Cornwell says:

    You have heard this desire, this voice if you will, to go in in a certain direction. It has been persistent. Now you have been made aware of what seems to be a perfect location. And you are also announcing this vision to the world. As you pray and seek God’s direction other doors will open and opportunities present themselves. Retreat calls for silence and listening also. So take time to practice some of what you will be offering to the community of artists that will eventually gather together.

    God be with you.

  21. At the risk of being labeled a heretic—sigh—-

    I have a confession——-
    I believe the Father started me on a journey back to Himself many years ago by a very unusual (and “unchristian”?????) avenue.
    I joined an “Artist Way” group ! ( a twelve week course on creativity by Julia Cameron)
    YES—–a little “new age” , along the lines of the traditional 12 step program, in that there is not a mention of Jesus Christ anywhere.
    (which BTW—-I’d LOVE to see a discussion sometime about those who eventually came to Jesus, having first reconciled themselves to their “Higher Power” in the 12 steps—-but THAT is another subject!)
    With all that said, in “Artist Way” I found my God and my Savior all over again. ( After having grown-up in, being saved in, and falling in love with Jesus in, a VERY fundamental, conservative Christian culture——- I took to wandering in the post evangelical wilderness and got lost.)

    In “Artist Way” God began to gently speak to me and lead me back on the path of commitment to my First Love and my Lord!
    And there wasn’t a steeple, or pastor, or bible in sight!!!!!
    (I know!!!—–I know!!!!——NOT suppose to happen that way—–we NEED the church, and fellowship, AND the Word——I KNOW——-I’m just telling you what happened—–REALLY!)

    Long story short—–that was 7 or 8 years ago.
    Now I AM in a WONDERFUL, Christ centered body of believers—-by the grace and leading of God!
    In part because a friend turned me onto the IMONK and I began to think I might be able to try the church scene again——–
    Here on this website I found others who felt as I did AND still loved and walked with the Lord!
    (Thank you GOD—-for Michael Spencer and his vision!)

    Now ,as I move once again in a more traditional church setting, I am struck by how unaware we are (for the most part) of just who we are suppose to be as individual creations of OUR Creator!
    We don’t seem to have any idea how to embrace all we were meant to be and all the ways we are meant to Glorify our Lord !
    Except for little pockets of “Christian” artists (ie–CCM) rarely do we delve into the “Arts”—–striving to be writers, or dancers, or painters and poets, singers, you name it— on par with “the world”!!!!!!!
    People WITHOUT faith and knowledge in their God so often exhibit a much greater zest and appreciation for ALL things in life, than do we——the ones who KNOW “the life that is TRULY life!”

    And I have been asking myself and the Lord “Why?”——
    I’ve been trying to see how what I learned in the “Artist Way” could merge with what God wants me to do for the Kingdom.
    It saddens me—-especially when I see so many young people and adults, as Christians, bored and restless, striving to serve God and feeling that somehow they are missing who they really are and who God truly means for them to be in Glory to Him!!!!!

    So anyhow—–here is what I think——
    YAY Jeff——GO FOR IT!!!!!!!!
    JUMP into those deep waters, swim out there——-LEAD THE WAY—–
    I’ll be right behind you, calling to those behind me——-
    “Come! See what Jesus has for you to do, for HIS glory, in all the unsafe places!”

    Blessings on your head and prayers in this new endeavor!

    • How wonderful, Nete. Thank you so much for sharing your story !

      You are not in any way a heretic and if someone thinks you are they are the one with the real problem. God is God and for all the ways human beings try to put Him into a tight box regarding how He works and how he doesn’t work. God is God and what you experienced was very “normal” for God. He is always calling people to turn to Him, knocking on the doors of their heart right where they are. Rejoice in the awesome work He has done in you and what he is doing through you.

    • Awesome story to share, Nete. Thank you. And if you are a heretic, I will be burned at the stake any time now…

  22. Ekstasis says:

    Out of curiosity, is this supposed to be primarily a place for thinking creative thoughts without bounds, sort of an updated L’Abri community in Switzerland by Dr. Francis Schaeffer? Or more of a enhanced writers’ guild and worshop, where skills are developed and honed? Or some hybrid?

    Also, not to rain on any parades, but over 10,000 books are published a year (a figure I recall when reading Guerilla Marketing for Writers). How in the world does one get heard over such a tremendous din? Is the problem more on the supply end, or the demand end? In other words, is the “Christian” community in a state to appreciate new and innovative work? Or is it more for others?

    I would appreciate any thoughts.

    • Actually, there will be more like one million books published this year. The average book will sell 400 copies in its life. How is that for motivation? Yes, there is always room for more great books. If we could just weed out the good ones…

      This would not be meant so much as a place to learn grammar and character development as a place to learn the Gospel and faith development. But both would be sought after.

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

        If we could just weed out the good ones…

        Like Twilight: Volume Whatever?

  23. I read your post, Jeff, and almost burst into tears.

    See, I’m at heart a writer, a storyteller. That’s not a brag, that’s just what God’s put in my heart and soul, and when I try to ignore it, it doesn’t even become a fire in my bones — more like the Alien trying to chew its way out! I’ve written a novel and several short stories, but have yet to be published … in large part due to my fear of rejection.

    I haven’t been pursuing being published (or even writing more) lately, due to some events in my family that have sapped much of my time and almost all of my energy. At least that’s why I’ve been thinking I haven’t been doing it. But is that the case … or is it because I’ve used those events as an excuse to coddle my fear and ignore my calling? I knew there was something more than circumstances holding me back, but until today (and yes, your article), I wasn’t even seriously asking what. (That fear again.) Now I have a feeling I know.

    And so, as Jim Rome would say, “it’s time to fire up the machine once again.”

    Clicking on my name will take you to a blog I keep over at WordPress — one I haven’t added to in … (checking) … over a month. I need to get back to it. I have several unfinished pieces of fiction; I need to resume those. I have one un-begun piece, and I need to make a decision whether to start it or let it go (and if the former, get off the schneid and start it). And I need to resume sending that novel around and collecting rejection slips, banking toward the day when the return envelope contains something other than a rejection slip. I don’t know how well I’ll do — after all, this revolution is only five minutes old — but I know it’s what I need to do. Thank you, Jeff, for the kick in the @$$.

    (And if anyone you know is a publisher who would be interested in a 90k-word quasi-medievel/post-apocalyptic romance novel with religious overtones but no Four Spiritual Laws-type conversion experiences, please contact me …)

  24. Jim Park says:

    Jeff, I knew there was a reason we were put in touch. We do need to talk.

    I can relate to the Oswald Chambers quote. I “became reckless immediately.” Safe harbor behind me, now. My course would be less in doubt, however, if I was sailing solo.

    How much consideration should one give to wife and family in risking all? Can they properly be forced into the boat? And I have heard nothing but encouragement from those sailors on the shore.”Great idea, Jim. We need this. I’ll be praying for you. Fare thee well.” For some endeavors, though, you simply need a full crew …others who share both the vision and the motivation. That helps assure that the journey transcends self and becomes a Kingdom collaboration in His service.

    Yup. We need to talk.

  25. Rick Ro. says:

    I can’t wait to hear and see what God will do through what you are taking the courage to step out and do. Bravo, Jeff!

  26. Jeff-
    This is something that sounds absolutely amazing. I am a college student, and I am a composer. This type of Christian artists retreat is something I’m definitely interested in. I agree with JoanieD in that you will have to limit the number instead of worrying about if there will be enough.

    God bless

    Inglan

  27. Jeff,

    I read an amazing comparison between courage and bravado in a new edgy, beautifully written but scary book, “Called to War” by a new name, Art Hobba:

    “I like to distinguish a difference between the word brave and
    courage. Synonyms for brave include “bold,” “intrepid,” “daring,”
    “heroic,” and “fearless.” In its origins, however, it more commonly
    meant boastful or bullying. The word’s origin is the same as the Latin
    word brabus which also carries the root “barbaric.” God saw the
    bravery of the ten thousand who remained. But he knew that real
    courage was needed and it was a higher condition of the heart and
    soul than mere bravery. Courage has its roots in the Latin word core
    and was modified over time by the French language to coeur which
    is the present term for “heart.” Courage then means “with heart,” and
    though it may resemble bravery on the surface, it is quite different.
    Bravery can act rashly in spite of what is really going on. They
    fear if they stop and think they will lose their nerve.
    Courage sees, weighs the risk, and chooses to act out of duty or
    faith.
    Bravery uses anger and adrenaline to mask, deny, or even ignore
    prudent fear.
    Courage sees what is real, feels real fear, and then chooses to act
    courageously, overcoming the fear with action.
    Bravery fights for the individual
    Courage fights for others.” Chapter 8, p 172

  28. My advice (generic advice I give to all big dreamers) is to build slowly – you don’t have to take a giant leap if you can see a stepping stone on the way.

    As you go, you might find more people who have a similar enough dream. Work on it together if you can – don’t let your single-mindedness be the reason someone else’s dream fails.

  29. Denise Spencer says:

    Jeff, a book that revolutionized my thinking on searching for God’s will in situations was “Finding the Will of God — A Pagan Notion?” by Bruce K. Waltke. (Good think you like books, huh?) Some thoughts based on that book — that do not in any way substitute for reading the whole book! — include following what God tells us in scripture and praying about the situation, of course, and looking at where providence seems to be leading.

    Another important factor is seeking advice from others — others who know you well. I mean absolutely no offense to anyone else who has commented here, truly. But it’s easy for folks to read a post and weigh in with a hearty, “Yeah! Go for it!” or a doomsday, “Run for your life!” when they only know the part of the story you’ve written about and they don’t personally know you at all. Sometimes Michael would throw something out there for the internet public to respond to and they’d issue a resounding “Yes!” when I’d be thinking, “But…but…there’s so much about this situation that they can’t possibly know! What he said isn’t all there is!” What does your immediate family think about it? Your extended family? Friends who know you well in real life? Your pastor? Other mentors? There is much to talk about and pray through here, I’m sure.

    One other thought and then I’ll go away. Does your dream already exist somewhere? People always seem to want to start their own ministries from scratch when there are already similar or nearly identical ministries in place. Could you join forces with someone who has already acted on your dream because it’s his/her dream, too? That could be a better use of resources plus make it a lot easier on you.

    Just some things to consider. I’m not saying “Yay” or “Nay,” but simply asking questions.

    Hopefully still your friend after writing all this, Denise

    • Denise, friends only speak with honesty. Otherwise, they would not be friends.

      I have Waltke’s book, though I haven’t looked at it in quite a while. I will have to review that.

      I know that there is a fine line between reckless faith and being stupid. I pray that I can stay on the right side of that line.

      I know we will talk more about this. Maybe over more ribs?

  30. Jeff if it is on your heart then keep your eyes on Aslan and take the adventure he sends you. If we delight ourselves in Him, he will give us the desires of our heart. John (Great meeting you last Sunday at church and the ballyard -doesn’t get any better than that!)

    • Denise Spencer says:

      John! That’s another point Waltke makes in the book I recommended. My very rough paraphrase: If our hearts and lives are truly centered on Him, then we can generally trust our hearts. At least if our hearts agree with scripture, providence and the godly advice of others who really know us well.

  31. Jeff,

    I would recommend going for it, with your eyes open. After all one of Christ’s parables talks about the wise man who calculates the cost before going on building the tower.

    Only you and God knows where the line is between being foolish and stepping out in faith.

    Now, being a practical one, who tends to see details first, second and thirdly. Please have a way to form a community first, then the criticque groups. (when I went to one in the Escondido CA area, I wasn’t even informed of the necessity of bringing multiple copies, etc. Also, without the community, the comment that she wasn’t comfortable with my way of refering to God, caused me not to return. GRIN, and that wasn’t even one of my “Jesus is my boyfriend ” type poems.

    • Thanks, Anna. In reference to Jesus’ teaching of “counting the cost,” most of us have gotten this wrong all along. Jesus is not saying, “Dig deep inside to see if you have what it takes to follow me.” He is saying, “Dig deep inside to see that none of you has what it takes to follow me. Not a one of you.” Then we can start at that point and have our reliance totally on the grace of God and the strength given always by the Holy Spirit.

      I am waiting for you to send me some of your poetry!

  32. Headless Unicorn Guy says:

    Jeff: If you’re going to do this project for real, you might want to get in touch with the Lost Genre Guild and small-press publishers such as Marcher Lord Press.

    The Lost Genre Guild is an semi-professional support organization for Christian-leaning genre writers, primarily in the genres of SF, Fantasy, and Horror. (They call it “Christian Spec-Fic” or “Biblical Spec-Fic”, but I never liked either term.) Kind of a small-scale Act One except dealing with written material of certain genres instead of Hollywood. It was founded a couple years ago by a Frank Creed, who seems to have originated the “Christian Cyberpunk” genre.

    Marcher Lord Press (which I keep getting 404 timeouts trying to get to their site) is a Christian F&SF small press which has put out some interesting titles. Somewhat connected to the Lost Genre Guild, it was founded by a Jeff Gerke, an SF fan who went indie after some sobering experiences in the Christian (TM) publishing industry.