Richard Exley Ministries


How Championships are Won
Posted on March 04, 2015

If you are not a fan of NBA Basketball I need to ask your forgiveness right up front because I want to begin with a story coming out of the NBA Finals a couple of years ago, which the Miami Heat won in seven games. If you know anything about the NBA you know that the Heat put together the best basketball team money could buy. They had the big three – Lebron James (arguably the best basketball player on the planet), DeWayne Wade and Chris Bosh. Unfortunately, a collection of superstars seldom win championships as the Miami Heat learned the hard way in 2011 when the Dallas Mavericks defeated them four games to two in the NBA Finals. Championships are won by teammates who sacrifice individual achievements for the good of the team. It’s hard for superstars to do that. Their egos are simply too big.

Yet the Miami Heat won the NBA Championship two years in a row (2012 and 2013). So how did they defy the odds and do that?

Great coaching!

Category: Ministry

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No Easy Answers
Posted on August 12, 2008

“Faith is a factor to be sure but not the only factor and not necessarily the deciding factor. There are other forces at work here, things veiled in mystery...”

While preaching in the Tulsa area this past week-end I bumped into an old friend. Well actually she is the widow of one of my dearest friends. He went to be with the Lord just over a year ago and she is learning to live alone again after more than forty years of marriage and that’s no easy task. She’s a remarkable lady with a gritty faith and an incredible sense of humor. Still the months since her husband’s death have taken their toll and I could see the pain and loneliness in her eyes.

As we talked she asked me if her husband would have been healed if she had had more faith or prayed harder. I responded with a question of my own, “Why do you ask?”

Category: Ministry

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Relationships Not Rules
Posted on July 15, 2008

"...the way to know God is relationally, the way a child knows his parents or the way a man relates to his sweetheart."

The moon is full and high in the sky as Nicodemus approaches Gethsemane, causing the trees to cast deformed shadows on the ground.  Entering the garden he pauses to listen.  At first all he can hear is the sound of his own breathing, loud in his ears.  As he grows accustomed to the stillness of the night he begins to discern sounds – the breeze in the trees, a small animal rustling in the brush and the noise of insects.  Faintly he hears the sound of a man’s voice, the words indistinguishable to his ear.

Following the sound, he arrives at an opening in the trees. In the clearing a man is kneeling, his face lifted toward the heavens.  Obviously he is praying, but it is unlike anything Nicodemus has ever heard. There is no posturing, no careful turning of a phrase.  Instead there is a camaraderie, an intimacy in his prayer that generates a hunger in Nicodemus’s own heart, an ache really.  Involuntarily he finds himself thinking, Would that I knew God the way he does.

He cannot bear the thought of intruding on such an intimate moment but before he can slip away Jesus senses his presence.  Rising from the place of prayer he moves across the clearing toward him.  Recognition fills his face and he takes Nicodemus by the shoulders and greets him with a kiss.
 
“Nicodemus,” he says, “how good of you to come.” 
        
The warmth of his greeting causes Nicodemus to pause.  It’s almost as if Jesus were expecting him.  Yet, that could not be for he had discussed his plans with no one, not even his wife.  For a moment he is at a loss for words, but with an effort he recovers his composure.

Category: Ministry

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Where Have All the Critical Thinkers Gone?
Posted on July 02, 2008

Reading many of today’s “Christian” books is like eating fish – you have to watch out for the bones.

Let me begin today’s blog with a confession. By nature and temperament I tend to be a critical person. It is something I have fought all my life and with God’s help I am doing better. Still, if I let my guard down I soon find myself reverting to my earlier judgmental attitude. That’s what makes writing this blog so challenging. I don’t want to be a critical person and I certainly don’t want to be judgmental, nevertheless I feel compelled to address this issue so here we go. 

Some years ago I read “God, Man and Archie Bunker” by Spencer Marsh. He begins the first sentence of the first chapter, “In the beginning Archie created God in his own image, in his own image created he him.” Upon first reading I found his statement clever and attention grabbing. Upon further reflection I find it both profound and prophetic – an apt description of our postmodern culture with its freewheeling spirituality. Faith has become private, a personal subjective experience not accountable to any objective standard. What many believe about God is based on personal “spiritual” experiences (think whims) rather than on the revelation of Scripture.

Category: Ministry

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Buenos Aires by Night
Posted on May 01, 2008

 The night was electric as we made our way to the downtown location of Centro Cristiano Nueva Vida where Guillerom Prein serves as senior pastor of a church with a weekly attendance numbering nearly 29,000.[i] The downtown location is one of four venues where forty services are held each week in order to accommodate this thriving congregation. Although my brother Don set a brisk pace as we headed toward the theater where the service was to be held I found myself lagging behind, fascinated by the throngs of people crowding the streets at 9 pm on a Thursday evening. Street vendors were laying out their wares and a short distance away a street musician was singing a love song, his guitar case open beside him. I paused to listen while a solitary couple slow-danced on the sidewalk, oblivious to the crowds rushing by. Belatedly I realized that Don was nearly out of sight and I hurried to catch up, almost colliding with a harried waiter who was trying to deliver a sizzling steak to a nearby table in a bustling sidewalk café. 

 

Catching up with Don I couldn’t help thinking that I was a long way from Tulsa, Oklahoma. Geographically Buenos Aires, Argentina, may be only 5,000 miles from Tulsa but culturally they are a million miles apart. Spiritually they are worlds apart as well. While the American church has been discussing postmodernism, the emergent church, seeker sensitive services and the latest technology for enhancing worship, the Argentine church has been in the midst of one of the greatest moves of God in history. When my brother and his wife arrived in Argentina in 1976 there wasn’t a single Pentecostal church larger than 100 people. Now in Buenos Aires alone there are several Pentecostal congregations with weekly attendance numbering more than 25,000. Signs and wonders abound, evangelism is a passion and the worship is vibrantly alive!

Category: Ministry

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Exciting and Intimidating
Posted on April 14, 2008

At this time two weeks ago I was ensconced in an American Airlines jet flying over the Atlantic on my way from Dublin, Ireland to Chicago, Illinois and finally home to Northwest Arkansas Regional airport (XNA). Two days from now I will catch a flight out of XNA to DFW where I’ll board another American flight for Buenos Aires, Argentina. It might appear that I enjoy traveling but if the truth be told I simply grit my teeth and endure it.

So why do I do go? Not because it’s exciting, I can tell you that. Foreign travel lost its romance several years ago; about the time Brenda decided she was no longer up for all night flights and jet lag. I go for one reason and one reason only – to do the ministry to which God has called me!

Having said that let me hasten to add that ministry is a source of great joy to me, far outweighing the inconvenience of travel and separation from those I love. I never feel more alive than when I am ministering, be it through preaching, counseling, writing or pod casts. Like the apostle Paul I can truly say, “I consider my life worth nothing to me, if only I may finish the race and complete the task of testifying to the gospel of God’s grace” (Acts 20:24).

Category: Ministry

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Turning Heartbreak Into Hope
Posted on April 08, 2008

I’ve just returned from fifteen days of ministry in Spain and Ireland. It was a paradoxical time – spiritually exhilarating and physically exhausting, both emotionally renewing and emotionally wrenching. I left the Northwest Arkansas Regional Airport on a Sunday evening March 16 and flew to Chicago where I caught a flight to Dublin, Ireland arriving at 8:35 on Monday morning. After an eight hour layover in Dublin I flew on to Madrid, Spain for the International Media Ministries missionary retreat. Needless to say my sixty-one year old body takes a beating from jet lag and overnight transatlantic flights in the economy class. Still after a day to recover I was ready to go.

Missionaries John and Ruth Merrell have been the directors of International Media Ministries for nearly ten years and during that time the Lord has enabled them to accomplish some incredible things in spite of tremendous challenges. Through the dedicated efforts of the IMM team they are producing radio and television programming for both children and adults in a host of languages.  Each week more than 120 million people hear the gospel in their own language, many of whom are Muslims. John has traveled to more than eighty countries working with local missionaries and pastors to produce programming that is culturally relevant and in the listeners’ native language.  

One of the many challenges facing the IMM team is the fact that most of their work is done in the studio. Although the materials they produce for radio and television bring tens of thousands to Christ they seldom see the fruit of their labor. Local missionaries and pastors have the privilege of discipling these new converts but the IMM missionaries almost never get to pray or fellowship with them. As a result they are sometimes tempted  to wonder if what they are doing is really making a difference. If they have been missionaries for any length of time they are probably facing challenges in other areas of their lives as well. Things like the death of an aged parent or having to leave children back in the states to begin college.  Others have personal health issues or financial concerns as the weakening of the dollar abroad makes it harder and harder to do what they have come to do. 

Category: Ministry

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WHAT TO DO, WHAT TO DELEGATE AND WHAT TO LET GO UNDONE
Posted on March 14, 2008

Several years ago while serving as the senior pastor of Christian Chapel I had a brush with burnout. For several years I had continued to add to my workload, taking on one new project after another. I was preaching five and six times a week, leading a Field Education reflection group at Oral Roberts Seminary, continuing a heavy counseling load, and hosting a live nationwide 90-minute, call-in radio program weekly. We were just completing a major building program at the church and on top of everything else; my father had open-heart surgery followed three weeks later by an emergency gall bladder operation.

Physically and emotionally, I was drained C more than I realized. By and large I managed to minister with surprising proficiency. On the inside, though, I was falling apart. My nerves were rubbed raw. I had no spiritual or emotional reserves left. I was tired, but there was no time to rest. I loved my work, but it was killing me. I felt trapped and hated that feeling, too.

My brother, Bob, and his wife came for a visit and I found myself sharing my pent-up feelings with him. With his help, I was able to make some important decisions, decisions that I have had to remake again and again over the years. First, I had to admit that I wasn't superman. I couldn't do it all. Then I had to decide what to do, what to delegate, and what to let go undone.

Category: Ministry

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THERE'S A GREAT BIG WORLD OUT THERE
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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I wouldn't Do it for Anyone but Jesus
Posted on November 01, 2007

I've been home just over forty-eight hours and my body clock is still upside down. The Philippines are thirteen hours ahead of the time here in Arkansas so my body is shutting down when I should be waking up.  Of course the nights are no better.  While Brenda sleeps I am up reading or roaming the house.  I'm tired too.  I was gone fourteen days and three of those days were travel days, the shortest being eighteen hours and the longest almost thirty hours.  During the other eleven days I preached twenty-one times.  As I told Brenda I wouldn't do that for anyone but Jesus!

As you have probably guessed I hate the travel but I love the ministry. While in Hawaii I preached the District Ministers and Wives retreat and in three different churches on Sunday. Their hospitality and generosity was overwhelming.  From there I flew to Manila where I preached a one day retreat for all of the International Correspondent Institute workers. ICI has published five of my books for the Philippines so ministering to the team was extra special.  On Friday I preached four times at a national pastor's conference and the Lord moved in a powerful way encouraging and renewing pastors. On Saturday I preached three times at a national youth conference. In the final session twenty-nine young people answered the call to full time ministry. On Sunday I preached in a local church and the altars were filled as people responded to the invitation to receive Jesus as their Lord and savior!

I want to thank all of you who supported the ministry with your prayers.  Although it was a grueling schedule the Lord gave me special strength and I am convinced it was a direct result of your prayers. We are co-workers together with God and I couldn't do it without you. I have four more engagements before Thanksgiving and I covet your continued prayers.  Please check the web site (www.richardexleyministies.org) for our schedule so you will know how to pray specifically.

Speaking of the web site I hope you have had a chance to check it out. We have had some challenges with the bookstore but it should be up any day and as soon as itunes gives us approval you will be able to download the pod casts.  If you haven't yet recommended the site to your friends please do so.  You might even consider sending an invitation to everyone in your email address book. We have invested enormous amounts of time and energy in developing the site but the ministry it provides will be wasted unless we get people to come to the site.

One final prayer request.  I am working on a small book titled "The Gift of Gratitude --    Living with a Thankful Heart" and I covet your prayers. I hope to finish it by year's end and then I will start working on the sequel to "The Alabaster Cross."

Thanks again for being my friends.  I would love to hear from you.

Category: Ministry

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