Risk and Paul

I am writing a four-week study on risk.

And it has just completely overwhelmed all of what little free time I do have. Which is the reason my blog has been silent the past couple of weeks.

I have the privilege and honor of being on the board of directors for RE:FUEL Memphis. Of what we do, and hope to do, is the yearly conference, held in April. RE:FUEL Memphis is an organization designed to bless the lives of men in the city of Memphis with the life-changing message of Jesus. This year’s conference will be our third, and best ever, with two very prolific personalities bringing truth from the Word of God, as well as Christian artist Todd Agnew. And we are opening the final session of the conference to the families and friends of the guys who will attend, so we can all, as a community, spend the last moments of the conference in worship.

One of the ideas from our planning sessions was to offer a small group study resource that would complement the theme of the conference, as well as extend the conversations of the conference into every arena possible, albeit church bible classes, small groups, private studies, or neighborhood gatherings. The idea behind these studies was to introduce the topics to not just men, but to everyone.

And, thus, I have been writing these studies. The conference itself, through the messages given by Don McLaughlin and Buddy Bell, will look at risk through the eyes, and life, of Peter. Peter’s life is filled with risk, consequence, and reward. I love his story for many reasons, but, for me, it culminates in this one verse, in the book of Acts:

“In those days Peter stood up among the believers (a group numbering about a hundred and twenty), and said …” (1:15, 16)

To see Peter’s journey, his passion, his commission as the rock of the coming church, his treasonous betrayal of Jesus, and his doubt of the resurrection, and then to see him stand among the believers after the ascension, and speak words of leadership — it is almost too much to bear. Place yourself in his shoes, and be cast as the chief apostle, then the chief betrayer, only to rise as the chief leader.

It’s powerful.

Peter’s life will be well-documented in our conference. After some time in prayer, I believed that the four conversations I write should look at risk through the eyes of another great man of faith. I decided to uncover the risk and rewards in the life of Paul.

For most of my life, I was told Paul’s journeys looked like this:

Yet, truth be told, when I saw a map like the one above, my brain really saw this:

I had absolutely no idea what that map meant. I had no clue about the little lines drawn across land and sea. And I had no idea how to make any sense out of them. I knew only that Paul was merciless in his travels, but I could not, for the life of me, make any sense out of why those little squiggly lines were important.

The four studies I’m writing may not be able to interpret the map for you. But, I think, they may help us realize something of the personality of Paul, the decisions he made, and the experiences he had while listening to the Spirit of God.

I hope, too, they will engage us in all kinds of conversations about the events in our life that have culminated in this very moment, and how those experiences may actually be designed, by God, to propel us into arenas that, right now, make us afraid to consider.

These four-week studies are free to all who attend RE:FUEL. And, I’ll post them here, on my site, once they are completed.

I’m walking with Paul, though, in the next few weeks. It’s already been exciting, and exhausting, and I can’t wait to share what I’ve discovered.

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