Richard Exley Ministries

Don't Give Up On Your Dreams
Posted on January 30, 2008

Forty-one years ago, when Brenda and I were newly weds and just starting out in the ministry, we spent nearly a year and a half preaching revival meetings in country churches from Cuero, Texas, to Post Falls, Idaho, and a half a hundred places in between. We spent hours in the car together, driving from one small church to the next. Sometimes Brenda read to me but more often than not we just talked.  That is I talked while Brenda mostly listened, being a person given to few words.
Mile after mile I regaled her with dreams about our future together. Someday, I told her, we are going to live in a cabin, on the side of a mountain, overlooking a lake. I will write books and preach in churches large and small all over the world. Someday I will have a national radio broadcast and be invited to preach at District Councils and camp meetings. Someday…. 
She would smile and listen politely but I could tell she didn’t really believe me and who could blame her given our limited circumstances. In the course of time I pushed my dreams to the back of my mind as we immersed ourselves in the work of the ministry, serving churches in Colorado, Texas and Oklahoma. I began writing and published my first two books while serving the Church of the Comforter in Craig, Colorado. In 1980 we became senior pastors of Christian Chapel in Tulsa, Oklahoma and the Lord impressed me to give up writing for a season and concentrate on serving the church. For nearly seven years I did not write a single thing for publication and I sometimes wondered if I would ever write again.
During those seven years God did many remarkable things at Christian Chapel and our congregation grew from barely one hundred people to more than a thousand. We purchased property and built our first facilities. God granted me favor with the seminary at Oral Roberts University and I was frequently invited to lecture there. I also served as a group leader in the Field Education program at the seminary. Through a truly remarkable series of events God brought me into contact with a radio executive whose vision helped me launch a nationwide via satellite call-in radio program called Straight from the Heart. Because Christian Chapel was an exceptionally strong missionary church I began receiving invitations from missionaries to minister in a number of foreign countries. Almost without me realizing it the Lord was fulfilling the dreams He had put in my heart when I was just a young man starting out in ministry.
In the spring of 1987 Honor Books approached me about writing four books for them. They had heard my radio broadcasts and felt that I would be a good fit for their publishing house. Of course I was excited but I had to pray about it. In 1980 the Lord had told me not to write until He released me and I did not want to be disobedient. After three weeks I felt released to write again and I signed a contract with Honor Books. Over the next five years I published seven books with them including The Making of a Man, which was a finalist in the Devotional category of the Gold Medallion Book of the year. 
In 1991 Brenda and I bought a small acreage on Beaver Lake as a twenty-fifth wedding anniversary gift to ourselves. We resigned from Christian Chapel a year later and with the help of Brenda’s parents we built a small cabin over looking the lake.
Fifteen years ago when I left the pastorate and moved to the Lake I thought my ministry would be primarily writing.  Boy was I wrong.  Although I’ve written 22 books in the last 15 years I’ve also traveled almost 2 million miles and preached more than 2500 times.
Why do I tell you all of this? Because I want you to see how God’s faithfulness manifests itself in an ordinary life. I’m no one special and neither is Brenda except to me. What God has done for us, He will do for you. The Lord would have been well justified had He given up on me any number of times during the last forty years, especially during the early years, but He refused too. Even though my faith failed on occasion, He has always remained faithful for He cannot deny Himself (2 Timothy 2:13).
Take a moment now and examine your own life. What God given dreams has the Lord placed in your heart? I’m not talking about personal ambitions but dreams birthed by the Spirit. Dr. Jim Horvath, a personal friend of mine, carried a God given dream of ministering in the Philippines in his heart for nearly twenty years before the Lord brought it to fruition. Now he has one of the most effective evangelistic ministries to the islands. What God has done for Jim He will do for you.
Don’t look at your circumstances or you may despair. You may feel that you simply do not have the wherewithal to see your God given dreams become reality or you may feel that your willful disobedience has disqualified you, either way you will be tempted to discard your dreams. Instead look to God for He is the author and finisher of our faith  (Hebrews 12:2) and He who has begun this good work in you is faithful to bring it to completion (1 Thessalonians 5:24).
Nearly twenty years ago I was facing some unusual challenges. I seemed to have reached a stalemate in my life and ministry.  After several years of remarkable growth the church I was serving seemed to reach a plateau.  No matter what I did we seemed stuck.  To complicate matters a small, but vocal group, were critical of my leadership.  On top of everything else my latest book was not selling nearly as well as anticipated.  As a result I was experiencing some doubts regarding the effectiveness of my ministry.
One morning, during my devotional time, I was reading in the Psalms when I came across Psalm 138:7 and 8.  Although I had read that passage numerous times before, that particular morning the words seemed to leap off the page.  “Though I walk in the midst of trouble, you preserve my life; you stretch out your hand against the anger of my foes, with your right hand you save me.  The Lord will fulfill his purpose for me; your love, O Lord, endures forever – do not abandon the works of your hands” (emphasis added).
Although my situation did not immediately change I was at peace.  God had spoken to me through His Word.  No matter what others did He would fulfill His purpose in my life!  Not necessarily my goals and ambitions, but His purpose, those God given dreams He had placed in my heart and that was enough.
As you think about your own God given dreams remember His faithfulness and take heart. “This is what the Lord says: ‘…For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future’” (Jeremiah 29:11).
Brenda and I are living God’s dream for our life, not because of our faith but because of His faithfulness, and so can you. “Trust in the Lord with all your heart/ and lean not on your own understanding:/ in all your ways acknowledge him/ and he will make your paths straight” (Proverbs 3:5&6). That is, He will fulfill your God given dreams!     
This is Richard Exley straight from the heart.  
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Category: Life

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Posted on January 01, 2008

Outside my office window the sun is sparkling off the crystal clear waters of Beaver Lake on this the last day of 2007. Earlier this morning the lake was shrouded in fog but the sun has washed it away and I can see clearly now. As I scan the lake I can’t help reflecting, not only on the past year, but on the past 17 years. When Brenda and I bought this property in 1991 we dreamed of living a secluded life. I planned to write each morning and when I had completed my day’s work I would cut firewood or go fishing. Brenda would prepare healthy home-cooked meals, catch up on her reading and indulge her penchant for crafts.

With the help of Brenda’s parents we built a small cabin in the spring of 1993. At the time the nearest paved road was 9 miles away and the closest town three times that far. The Carroll Electric Cooperative brought power to the property but we had to provide our own water and sewer system.  Subsequently we drilled a well and put in a septic system. The first two years were nearly idyllic. Without telephone service or television it was almost like going back in time. On long winter evenings we sit by the wood burning stove and read, played table games or just talked. Sometimes we chose to chat with only a kerosene lamp for light in memory of my Grandma Miller.

By the second year we had telephone service if you can call a four-party line telephone service. By the third year we had a private telephone line and satellite television and shortly thereafter the internet. Now we are much better informed but not nearly as content. Although we may live in the woods the internet and satellite television have brought the world right to our door.

Category: Ministry

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