Each month we publish our prayer letter from our Executive Director, Phil Reddick. Join Phil as he looks at how we stand in the marketplace in the face of trials.

Dear Friends,

James 1:2-4 Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.  And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. 

Storm on the Sea

Then in Philippians 1:12-14 Paul says this: I want you to know, brothers, that what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel, so that it has become known throughout the whole imperial guard and to all the rest that my imprisonment is for Christ.  And most of the brothers, having become confident in the Lord by my imprisonment, are much more bold to speak the word without fear.

 None of us like to encounter trials.  And certainly none of us are seeking imprisonment.  But James and Paul talk about God using their circumstances for His glory, for His kingdom and for their good.  We know this to be true intellectually, but it is so hard to see that clearly when we are going through that trial.

It is interesting to note that even from a human psychological standpoint we become stronger as we endure.  Malcolm Gladwell, in his book David and Goliath, talks about the bombing of Britain in World War II.  “Britain’s leaders were sure that the bombing attack would leave hundreds of thousands of people dead, over a million wounded and would panic the civilians in London.” They actually began building psychiatric hospitals on the outskirts of London anticipating the people’s reaction to the bombing.

In the Fall of 1940 the bombing came – 57 consecutive nights of bombardment.  But what happened was different than what the leaders expected.  The British people became more resistant and more courageous during the bombing.  It was really not understood until the Canadian psychiatrist J. P. MacCurdy talked about the phenomena in his book The Structure of Morale.  He identified three groups of people: those killed, the near misses and the remote misses.  The near misses can become further frightened or more determined.  But the remote misses listened to the sirens; watched the bombers and heard the exploding bombs but nothing happened to them.  MacCurdy says, “With the remote misses those people began to feel excitement with a flavor of invulnerability.”  The British described it as “maintaining a stiff upper lip”, but the conquering of a real and present danger led to “relief, a sense of security and the self-confidence that is the very father and mother of courage.”

Isn’t that astounding?  It’s almost like God knows what He’s doing, isn’t it?  We know for a muscle to get stronger it has to be stretched.  I don’t desire these trials, but my deepest desire is to thank God that He would count me worthy.  It is a privilege, a responsibility and a blessing.

Please pray for our outreach events that we will bring the speakers in 2014 that will have the greatest impact.  I would ask you to pray for all our cities and the staff of Huntsville, Decatur, Jackson and Cincinnati as well as Birmingham. Please pray for our Board as we implement a ten year plan that will reach out further in the marketplace.

I am so grateful for those of you who helped us end 2013 very strong financially. I am grateful for the new discipleship groups, the two new COM studies, a new corporate study, and a strong mentoring program that is continuing on in 2014.  And a huge thank you for praying for me and my family.

As we continue to trust God with joys and our sorrows may we be able say as Paul did, for me to live is Christ and to die is gain.  Let’s live our life from that eternal perspective.

In our Lord,

Phil Reddick