8 Traits of Breakout Church Leaders


Fantastic excerpt from an amazing book I’m currently reading called Breakout Churches by Thom Rainer. If you want to see breakout n your church, you should really check this book out. Here’s the synopsis: “This is the story of thirteen churches and the leaders who moved them from stagnancy to growth and from mediocrity to greatness. Drawing on one of the most comprehensive studies ever on the church, this book reveals the process of becoming a “breakout” church and the factors that lead to this spiritual metamorphosis. Eighty percent of the approximately 400,000 churches in the United States are either declining or at a plateau. Is there hope for the American church? Breakout Churches offers a resounding “yes!” and offers specific examples and principles to help you and your church become more effective.”

This list is the result of an intense study of hundreds of churches. These eight characteristics are common among the leaders of churches that experienced a tangible breakthrough of ministry, influence and attendance. Every pastor would do well to pay attention to these areas:

  1. Extreme biblical faithfulness. They not only give mental assent to key doctrinal truths, but they also practice these beliefs in their preaching, teaching, leadership, and ministry.
  2. Longevity. Breakout leaders have an average tenure at their churches of 21.6 years, compared to the national average of 3.6 years. The issue of long tenure is critical, because much of the transition to greatness is a long-term process.
  3. Confident humility. They have a high level of confidence but no appearance of arrogance or haughtiness.
  4. Accepting Responsibility. Where other church leaders were quick to place blame on people and circumstances, breakout leaders accepted the responsibility for their ministry and did not blame others when things did not go well.
  5. Unconditional love for the congregants they serve. While other church leaders  are quick to describe the many problem people in their churches, breakout church leaders love their flock unconditionally.
  6. Persistence. They never consider a setback a failure. They continually resist the temptation to quit or switch churches.
  7. Outward Focus. The visions cast by breakout leaders always include an incredible passion for reaching the lost through evangelism.
  8. Legacy.  Breakout leaders are concerned about their ministries well beyond their own tenure or even lifetime, preparing for the next generation of church leadership. The breakout leader would say things like this, “I pray that God will allow me to look at this church from heaven fifty years from now and find out that the fruit of what we did is lasting.”

These eight traits have little to do with skill, personality, gifting, or charisma. Any church leader can embrace these principles and see the breakout that God intends for your congregation!e

Remembering the Son of Encouragement

I received the heartbreaking news yesterday that a great friend and mentor in the Lord had entered into eternity. Evangelist Richard Brooks had a heart attack Monday that delivered him into the presence of our Savior. We are heartbroken for his family and church, and for the thousands of souls that were inspired by his fruitful ministry. But we are also overjoyed at the homecoming celebration that must be happening now in glory.

Pastor Brooks truly had the gift of evangelism. Lost souls were drawn to his ministry no matter where he was: Whether in the prison system of Australia where he got saved, or the streets of Brasov, Romania where he led what became a thriving fellowship of churches, in the larger church where he brought a spirit of humility and foundational teaching or in the growing church where he inspired the saints to witness with boldness and led many to conversion. He was truly a man about the Father's business.

We remember him as a wonderful preacher, a soul-winner, a disciple-maker, an inspirational leader and a skillful Donald Duck imitator. But most of all, I will remember him as the fellowship version of Barnabas, the Son of Encouragement. Every time I spoke with Evangelist Brooks, I went away from that conversation a little more encouraged, a little more inspired, a little more excited to live for God, a little more challenged to live holy and a little more ready for Heaven. One more reason to look forward to the life in eternity is the chance to be encouraged by him once again.

I have included below all of the recorded sermons that I could find in our church archive. I challenge you to listen to these messages without being entertained, inspired, convicted and encouraged.

Please pray for Pastor Brooks' family and friends as they are grieving his departure during this time.

Revival in Virginia Beach - October, 2016

Two Episodes of TheBLAST Podcast featuring Evangelist Richard Brooks as a guest

Count It All Joy - Pastor Louie Lobato - Sermon Notes

James 1:1-8, 12– “James, a bondservant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, To the twelve tribes which are scattered abroad: Greetings. My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing. If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind. For let not that man suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways. ... Blessed is the man who endures temptation; for when he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him.”

1. Framing the Core Lesson

James, the Bondservant

  • James could have introduced himself as the younger brother of Jesus, but he didn't .. Gal 1:19
  • He also could have introduced himself as the great pastor of the church in Jerusalem 
  • It's so interesting that he didn't use these facts to pad his reputation, but instead he introduced himself as the lowest of the lowest servant.
  • “The fear of the LORD is the instruction of wisdom, And before honor is humility.” Proverbs‬ ‭15:33‬ ‭NKJV‬‬
  • A great man never thinks that he is great and a small man never thinks that he is small

Scattered Christians

  • This book was written about 40 years after the death of Jesus amidst the explosion of revival in Jerusalem. 
  • It correlates very closely with the book of Acts
  • Persecution is also exploding around the believers of the time
  • Stephen
  • “Now Saul was consenting to his death. At that time a great persecution arose against the church which was at Jerusalem; and they were all scattered throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria, except the apostles.... Therefore those who were scattered went everywhere preaching the word.” –‭‭Acts‬ ‭8:1, 4‬ ‭NKJV‬‬
  • This verse is aimed at the scattered Christians; those who have been persecuted, lost family members, lost homes.
  • Good things do come from the persecution of the saints
  • “But I want you to know, brethren, that the things which happened to me have actually turned out for the furtherance of the gospel, so that it has become evident to the whole palace guard, and to all the rest, that my chains are in Christ; and most of the brethren in the Lord, having become confident by my chains, are much more bold to speak the word without fear.” –Philippians‬ ‭1:12-14‬ ‭NKJV‬‬
  • Paul was chained to two Roman sentries. That means that two Roman sentries were always chained to the Apostle Paul! 
  • One of the reasons that Paul could endure great persecution was because he watched the early church go through impossible hardship. It inspired him and strengthened his new faith.

2. The Problem of Pain

The church has struggled with this problem from its inception.

  • V.2- Count it all joy when you fall into trials and afflictions
  • Be quite sure that trials are coming. 
  • The person who tells you that there will be no problems in your salvation is speaking from an empty head and an unread Bible.
  • That is not man’s natural reaction to pain.. It must be supernatural!  
  • Facing piles of trials with smiles
  • There is always an abundance of difficulty that we are called to face
  • We don't count it all joy because of the pain, but in spite of the pain.

Mark of Spiritual Maturity

  • The immature believer allows the trials and difficulty to effect their faith and steal their destiny
  • The  mature believer understands that God has been faithful before and He will be faithful again

3. How to Count it All Joy


  • hypomonē- steadfastness, constancy, endurance .. in the NT the characteristic of a man who is not swerved from his deliberate purpose and his loyalty to faith and piety by even the greatest trials and sufferings
  • Greater things coming out of your adversity. 

Perfect and Complete

  • Hebrews 5:8 (NKJV) though He was a Son, [yet] He learned obedience by the things which He suffered. 
  • Suffering and pain is the only thing that can produce the wonderful outcome of spiritual completeness.
  • Romans 8:28 (NKJV) And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to [His] purpose. 

Asking for Wisdom

  • If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask
  • This scripture is often misquoted because it is plucked out of context. Trials and tribulations give us the inspiration to gain wisdom.
  • How many good trials are wasted because Christians throw themselves a pity-party and run away from their problems?
  • Moving away is not the answer to your problems.. It causes you to flunk the test! 
Hearts touched at the altar

Hearts touched at the altar

Time to Pray, Think, and Vote!


It's hard to overstate the importance of tomorrow's election for Christians. With both the Senate and the House in Republican hands, President Trump has been able to make remarkable strides in advancing the cause of the sanctity of life and the cause of religious liberty. He has put originalist judges on the Supreme Court and on the lower courts. He has made strong moves to protect our borders and restrict illegal immigration. He has revived our economy and strengthened our military.

Get the AFA Action iVoterGuide for all the information you need to vote your values!

This election is just too important for God's people to sit out. Be sure you go to the polls and encourage your friends to do the same. We have a historic opportunity right now to put lawmakers in office who not only share our values but have a majority in both houses of Congress. Don't squander this opportunity!

A Busted Bus & Big-Hearted Believers

Once again, we have found ourselves on a road trip across America’s heartland on the way to our Bible Conference in Chandler, AZ. This morning, we drove through the bustling capital of the music industry, Nashville, TN. I couldn’t help but be transported in my mind to almost exactly one year ago, when we experienced one of the greatest miracles of God’s provision. I decided to share it with you today as a testimony of God’s awesome power. Check this out:

At that time, we were traveling with a group of about twenty people in our ”legacy” church bus. About twelve hours into the trip, we had almost made it through Nashville at around 7:30 AM on a Sunday morning. Suddenly, we were all awakened by a loud bang, followed by a clang, clang, clang. When we were able to safely pull over to the shoulder, one look under the bus confirmed our fears; the drive shaft had sheared off and was scraping on the pavement. I had a group of faithful church people counting on me to get them to Chandler in time for a Bible Conference! What was I going to do?

What appeared to be a major setback and disappointment, was actually a fantastic set up for God to prove Himself faithful.

That time when the drive shaft on our old bus busted in Nashville.

That time when the drive shaft on our old bus busted in Nashville.

Here are all the miracles that occurred next:

  1. One Google search revealed that there was a heavy wrecker company less than half a mile away. They were able to get to us in only fifteen minutes.
  2. There was a Jack In the Box restaurant within walking distance for all of our people to have a nice breakfast while we waited to find out what was going to happen next.
  3. As we were emptying the bus, a Good Samaritan pulled over to see if he could help us with anything. We explained that we were a church group traveling cross-country to get to a Bible Conference. It turned out that he was on his way to church too. He went on to ask us if we’d like to come to the church service with him. What an opportunity!
  4. This possible angel in disguise started making phone calls and arranged for four separate cars to come and transport all of us to the church service. It turned out that the chuch building was only about one mile away from where the bus broke down. Coincidence? I think not..
  5. In the meantime, the bus was hauled away by the wrecker to their shop, where they just happened to have a mechanic available and the part that we needed on-hand. They only needed a couple hours to complete the repair. 
  6. The church service was great, a welcome break from being on the road all night. We all cleaned up a bit and had a cup of coffee. We worshipped together at the West End Community Church and heard an encouraging message from the pastor who even greeted us from the stage.
  7. As soon as the service was over, I called the shop to check on the bus. They had literally just finished the repair and the bus was road worthy once again. 
  8. Our angel organized a second convoy to get us all back to the bus's location. 
  9. As if all of that wasn't enough, our friend who had found us on the side of the interstate slipped me $200 to put towards the repair! So amazing!
  10. We were physically and spiritually refreshed and back on the road in les than four hours.
  11. We made it to Chandler just in time to be there for the Monday night service. 

Be encouraged today: when you think it's all falling apart, God will show Himself faithful.

Astounded by God's Provision!

Christopher Lee receives a word from Pastor Eric Pizzaro in a recent service.

Christopher Lee receives a word from Pastor Eric Pizzaro in a recent service.

Generosity Update

Just wanted to send out this quick update since we made the call for financial assistance last Friday. God was faithful to meet the need! Many of God's people responded to the call to generosity and gave to meet the immediate need over the weekend. THANK YOU!

We quickly realized that if only one of the many people had not responded, then we would not have been able to meet the goal. But I am so grateful to serve a congregation whose heart is moved to care for the bride of Christ. We thank all of you who prayed, gave and obeyed the voice of the Lord. May His blessing be returned back to you for your sacrifice! See you tonight in our service at 7:30p.

Destined for Disaster: Time to Take Heart

 “But after long abstinence from food, then Paul stood in the midst of them and said, “Men, you should have listened to me, and not have sailed from Crete and incurred this disaster and loss. And now I urge you to take heart, for there will be no loss of life among you, but only of the ship. For there stood by me this night an angel of the God to whom I belong and whom I serve, saying, ‘Do not be afraid, Paul; you must be brought before Caesar; and indeed God has granted you all those who sail with you.’ Therefore take heart, men, for I believe God that it will be just as it was told me. However, we must run aground on a certain island.”” –Acts‬ ‭27:21-26‬ ‭NKJV‬‬

  Shipwreck  — Author: CLAUDE-JOSEPH VERNET, Date: 1763

 Shipwreck — Author: CLAUDE-JOSEPH VERNET, Date: 1763

Imagine the scene: Paul had already warned them not to go. He told them all that this journey would end in certain disaster. Now that the disaster has come, Paul is forced to ride this sinking ship all the way into the ground. This is very symbolic for the journey that many men and women of faith are called to today. Maybe you've found yourself in a sinking work environment: the boss has no idea what he's doing and you are being dragged along through what you know will end in disaster. Perhaps it is a sinking marriage or family situation: ungodly leadership or lack of moral integrity has thrown your ship of home life into chaos that seems destined for disaster. Maybe it's a school project, a precious relationship, a ministry, a dream, an expectation or project. But it has crashed and burned, gone down in flames. What are the righteous to do?

In the midst of chaotic trauma, where all involved are filled with the expectation of disaster, Paul was still able to be a positive influence and encourage wicked men, drawing them to salvation of hope. Let's look at what he did:

  1. V.21- He Stood in the Midst of Them — He refused to run from them. Paul was committed to stick with them. Quitters never prosper in the Kingdom of God.
  2. V.21- He refused to be the judge & jury — Paul had a powerful temptation to become angry or bitter with these fools. Very easily could've said, "I told you this would happen, you bunch of idiots. You got what's coming to you." He was able to encourage even though hey ignored his advice.
  3. V.22- "I urge you to take heart"  — His message in the disaster was encouragement, not doom and disaster. What's your message while the ship is sinking?
  4. V.23-  He heard from God — "Do not be afraid, Paul" In the chaos, God was still able to get Paul's attention and deliver him from fear.
  5. V.25- Faith — "I believe God" Paul's faith was contagious, was expectant, that even though the disaster was real his faith was even more real. We can learn here from his example

In a chaotic world, filled with those expecting disaster, God still causes us to be an encouragement to the world around us. Can you still be a light in the darkness when the ship you are sailing on is bound for disaster?

Missions Trip Return Update + Re-Posting- "Good" Friday Blog

Some sleep-deprived thoughts as we return home from our amazing Myanmar Missions Trip

This may be the longest Friday of my life. Waking up at 4:45AM is always challenging, but even more so in a not-so-clean, "no-tell" hotel in the city of Kunming, China. That would work out to 4:45PM on Thursday, Eastern Time. From there, our vigilant team caught a 7:40 flight to Shanghai. Then a quick two-hour layover got us to our current flight going across the Pacific Ocean towards LAX where we will go on later today to Charlotte and eventually home to Virginia Beach at around 11:30PM. If my calculations are correct, that works out to a nearly 31-hour-long Friday to get back to the promised land.

Current flight progress

Current flight progress

It was truly a fantastic trip and we look forward to bringing a great report from our time in Myanmar. I don't want to spoil it now, but just write this quick note to encourage you all to be ready for a great Easter weekend ahead including:

  • Outreach - Saturday @ 5PM 
  • Corporate Prayer - Sunday @ 10AM 
  • Evening Worship - Sunday @ 6:30PM 

Until then, could think of a few people that you know who you could invite to our Easter services? I know it's inconvenient and uncomfortable to reach out to someone and bring them to service.. But can we be reminded what this Good Friday is all about? It's about stepping out of the comfort zone to accomplish great things for the Kingdom of God. I'm so proud of our impact team for stepping out of comfort zone again and again during this trip. What about you? When's the last time you gave up some comfort to accomplish God's purpose?

 “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service.” —Romans‬ ‭12:1‬

For a more in-depth study, take a look at my blog from last year: 


This blog was posted last year. I am republishing for Good Friday, 2017.

Pain. We try to avoid it at all costs. We build our lives around convenience and comfort. If a situation gets even the slightest bit uncomfortable we are prone to dodge it. How many jobs, marriages, faith journeys, careers and destinies have been abandoned because they brought about discomfort and difficulty? In a generation that worships comfort and ease, it is difficult to imagine that anyone would willingly choose pain instead.

It was not easy for our Lord. It was not comfortable or convenient. He left His throne and His crown in the glories of eternity to be born in a barn to a couple of peasants in Bethlehem. It is on this "Good" Friday that Jesus, our Savior, chose to bear the nails, the scorn, the pain of the cross. Not only did He choose pain, but excruciation! The worst possible pain that a human being can experience. Worse than that, the emotional and spiritual distress of being separated from His Father as he bore the sins of us all on that most unjust day. 

Let us fall out of love with our false God of convenience as we consider the ultimate sacrifice of the "Lamb slain before the foundation of the earth" (Rev 13:8). If our Savior chose to suffer on our behalf, shouldn't we be willing to accept some inconvenience and discomfort on His?

Prayer Needs – Three Day Fast

I hope you've had a great start to your fast today! Here's the promised prayer list to be lifting up during this time.

Roxanne - From the Dog Grooming Shop

Physical Healing, breaking the power of addiction

Adam McFeaters

1. Jobs that are well paying and keep disciples available for ministry and support.

2. Marriages to be strengthened.

3. Souls to be added to the church.

4. Outreach and prayer participation to increase.

5. Church bands and dramas to be anointed, visitors and salvations at concerts.

6. New disciples that will prepare to pioneer.

7. Financial stability and blessing.

8. Healthy pregnancy and babies for Hristina and Yessi.

9. Good grades for the kids.

10. A house to buy? God willing.

11. Missionaries to get break through.

12. Myanmar impact fruitfulness.

13. Tangible growth during Pstr Melrose revival.

14. Time off work for SE bible conference.

15. Ray and Corde McFeaters saved

Mimi Ivanova

1. My boss' Mom - Kerri - healing of stomach cancer (today I prayed with her for healing and salvation, I'm so grateful for the opportunity)

2. Favor with God and men on my audit for 2014 and 2015 taxes

3. Future husband :)

Amanda Wade


-Dakota Brock

-Kayla Brock

-Izacely Juarez

-Taylor-Painter Family

-Prevost Family

-New Families to get saved


-Ronda Craddock

-Beth Chambers

-Uncle Ron battling depression/ severe back pain


-More Business for the small businesses in church

-Favor in a businesses payment dispute with a customer

-Increase in finances to be able to give more to the kingdom

-Souls to be saved while on missions trip


Sandisover Grant

1 Spiritual breakthrough for each member of our congregation, so that we will be able to minister to others and win souls for the God.

2 Spiritual guidance for family, friends and neighbors to open their hearts to receive the word of god.

3 Spiritual cleansing for our hearts so we wull show love to each and everyone come in contact with in our daily lives.

4 Unity among family, friends and foes.

5 Help to kill flesh so I can walk in the Spirit

6 Salvation for my family - Brittany Lee, Melissa Nassar and William Nassar

7 Employment In a god fearing company that will provide good salary and benefits.

Stephanie Delcid - Emailed Need

Hello from Cuenca Ecuador.  We would like to ask you to please link hearts with us in prayer for Wil and Elsy Cruz that have been unable to conceive for 13 years.  Doctors say there is nothing wrong, we have been praying and fasting for God to give them a child.  They are on our ministry staff.

Thank you, please continue to pray for us The Delcid's in Cuenca as we pray for you and your upcoming conference.

Pastor Dragoon

Salvation and discipleship

Rob Hardee


David Pintor




Missions Trip



Relationship with God

Wisdom for Leadership

Direction for Church

Grandma Joni

Healing from Bronchitis


Feel free to add to this list by commenting below. Believing God to answer these prayers! 

Time for Self-Review

In the interest of better communication between shepherd and flock, and in the continued growth of the Kingdom of God, I heartily invite you to participate in our yearly pastoral meetings.

Over the next few weeks, I’d like to engage in a voluntary Annual Review of your experience here at The Potter’s House Church. This time of review will consist of three phases:

  1. Self-Review (February 15-28)
  2. Leader Review (March 1-15)
  3. Discussion and Goals. (March 16-31)

This year, I have decided to include an opportunity for you to submit a self-review; similar to what many employers would ask from their employees. This is a chance for you to reflect on your own spiritual life and disciplines over the last year. When I was in the corporate world, this was always a very helpful time to evaluate performance and set goals for the future. To help you with this I have provided a sheet of some relevant questions to help you spark your mind.

Download it here: PDF Format  |  DOC Format

When your self—review is completed, I ask you to submit it to me by email at pastor@vbph.org so we can get to phase two. I hope this will be a helpful time for us all!


Pastor Adam Dragoon

Revival in the Air

It all starts tonight!

Tonight we welcome you to "Welcome Back" service that we have dubbed, "The Night to Invite". Evangelist Richard Brooks has a gift for stirring the pot, adding fire and zeal to churches and saints that have sunken into lethargy and mechanical routine. Tonight's service starts at 7:30 PM, with prayer at 6:30 PM. Anyone who brings a first time visitor (or someone who hasn't been around for 3 months or more) is going to get an awesome VBPH T-Shirt.

Revival Starts Sunday Morning

Revival, as defined by Webster's incomparable 1828 American Dictionary of the English Language, means:

Return, recall or recovery to life from death or apparent death; as the revival of a drowned person.
Renewed and more active attention to religion; an awakening of men to their spiritual concerns.

Only in the Gospel of Jesus Christ do we have the opportunity to experience such renewal on a constant and regular basis. I would dare say that part of the human condition is that we are constantly being pulled down to the pit of destruction by the gravity of monotony and religion.

That's why we are so looking forward to these services beginning tomorrow, Sunday, Oct. 30th at 11AM and then continuing in the evening at 6:30PM. The services will then go through the week, Monday through Wednesday, each night at 7:30PM. We can guarantee that you will be mightily blessed and inspired through these services. Don't miss one of them!

A Few Thoughts

I am currently sitting in the passenger seat of a minivan en route to Virginia Beach coming back from an amazing Men's Rally in Jacksonville, NC over the last 24 hours. What a time we had! With these few minutes that I have trapped in the vehicle on a beautiful day, I wanted to publish this post communicating a few things that I've been meaning to blog about for the past few days.

A Wonderful Report from Ruse, Bulgaria

I woke up last Tuesday morning to some incredibly encouraging text messages from my friend, Pastor Martin Klok from Amersfoort, Holland. Take a look at the pictures I received: 

Altar call after the Dutch Impact team

Altar call after the Dutch Impact team

Dutch teens making an impact in the nations

Dutch teens making an impact in the nations

Pastor Klok has a fantastic group of teens that joins him for an impact team every year to different locations. This year, they endeavored to make an impact in the city in which my wife and I served served as missionaries from 2005-2010, where currently Romanian Pastor Victor and family are laboring for the Lord. You might imagine how my heart leapt at seeing the harvest of souls that were responding to the Gospel in these images. Truly, the words of Christ from John 4 encouraged my soul: "'One sows and another reaps.' I sent you to reap for which you have not labored; others have labored, and you have entered into their labors." I am so grateful to play even the smalleat part in the harvest of souls that is being reaped there today.

Feeling Appreciated

After our Mid-Week service on Wednesday night, the church blind-sided us with another wonderful surprise: 

Basket of goodies for Pastor Appreciation Month

Basket of goodies for Pastor Appreciation Month

The pastoral calling is difficult for many reasons. But there are also many things that make it worthwhile. One of those things is a church that recognizes the weight that the pastor and his family carries and truly appreciates them. I cannot express the gratitude that comes from having a church that understands these things. Yes, the basket of gifts is a blessing and a symbol of the church's sentiments. An even greater blessing comes from knowing that it is far more than just a sentiment. We are more than blessed to have a tight-knit group of faithfully committed men and women of God. I can't say it enough: THANK YOU!

Meat for Men

Altar Call from today's Men's Rally  

Altar Call from today's Men's Rally  

Reactions from today's rally were all positive. Wow, I am constantly amazed at the quality of preachers and sermons that fill the pulpits of our fellowship all around the world. This Men's Rally featured seasoned pastors Paul Stephens, Dave Szczepanski and Louie Lobato. The men had more than their fill of quality ministry. We are now returning to Virginia Beach once again filled with wisdom and instruction from the Word of God through these faithful vessels. We can't wait to get back to the Kind business in future days and weeks.

Thanks for reading! 

The Link Between Struggle and Success

I liked this article so much that I decided to post it here on my blog: 

[H/T: onlinecollege.org]

50 Famously Successful People Who Failed At First

Not everyone who's on top today got there with success after success. More often than not, those who history best remembers were faced with numerous obstacles that forced them to work harder and show more determination than others. Next time you're feeling down about your failures, keep these fifty famous people in mind and remind yourself that sometimes failure is just the first step towards success.

Business Gurus

These businessmen and the companies they founded are today known around the world, but as these stories show, their beginnings weren't always smooth. 

  1. Henry FordWhile Ford is today known for his innovative assembly line and American-made cars, he wasn't an instant success. In fact, his early businesses failed and left him broke five times before he founded the successful Ford Motor Company.
  2. R. H. Macy: Most people are familiar with this large department store chain, but Macy didn't always have it easy. Macy started seven failed business before finally hitting big with his store in New York City.
  3. F. W. WoolworthSome may not know this name today, but Woolworth was once one of the biggest names in department stores in the U.S. Before starting his own business, young Woolworth worked at a dry goods store and was not allowed to wait on customers because his boss said he lacked the sense needed to do so.
  4. Soichiro Honda: The billion-dollar business that is Honda began with a series of failures and fortunate turns of luck. Honda was turned down by Toyota Motor Corporation for a job after interviewing for a job as an engineer, leaving him jobless for quite some time. He started making scooters of his own at home, and spurred on by his neighbors, finally started his own business.
  5. Akio MoritaYou may not have heard of Morita but you've undoubtedly heard of his company, Sony. Sony's first product was a rice cooker that unfortunately didn't cook rice so much as burn it, selling less than 100 units. This first setback didn't stop Morita and his partners as they pushed forward to create a multi-billion dollar company.
  6. Bill GatesGates didn't seem like a shoe-in for success after dropping out of Harvard and starting a failed first business with Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen called Traf-O-Data. While this early idea didn't work, Gates' later work did, creating the global empire that is Microsoft.
  7. Harland David Sanders: Perhaps better known as Colonel Sanders of Kentucky Fried Chicken fame, Sanders had a hard time selling his chicken at first. In fact, his famous secret chicken recipe was rejected 1,009 times before a restaurant accepted it.
  8. Walt Disney: Today Disney rakes in billions from merchandise, movies and theme parks around the world, but Walt Disney himself had a bit of a rough start. He was fired by a newspaper editor because, "he lacked imagination and had no good ideas." After that, Disney started a number of businesses that didn't last too long and ended with bankruptcy and failure. He kept plugging along, however, and eventually found a recipe for success that worked.

Scientists and Thinkers

These people are often regarded as some of the greatest minds of our century, but they often had to face great obstacles, the ridicule of their peers, and the animosity of society.

  1. Albert EinsteinMost of us take Einstein's name as synonymous with genius, but he didn't always show such promise. Einstein did not speak until he was four and did not read until he was seven, causing his teachers and parents to think he was mentally handicapped, slow and anti-social. Eventually, he was expelled from school and was refused admittance to the Zurich Polytechnic School. It might have taken him a bit longer, but most people would agree that he caught on pretty well in the end, winning the Nobel Prize and changing the face of modern physics.
  2. Charles DarwinIn his early years, Darwin gave up on having a medical career and was often chastised by his father for being lazy and too dreamy. Darwin himself wrote, "I was considered by all my masters and my father, a very ordinary boy, rather below the common standard of intellect." Perhaps they judged too soon, as Darwin today is well-known for his scientific studies.
  3. Robert Goddard: Goddard today is hailed for his research and experimentation with liquid-fueled rockets, but during his lifetime his ideas were often rejected and mocked by his scientific peers who thought they were outrageous and impossible. Today rockets and space travel don't seem far-fetched at all, due largely in part to the work of this scientist who worked against the feelings of the time.
  4. Isaac NewtonNewton was undoubtedly a genius when it came to math, but he had some failings early on. He never did particularly well in school and when put in charge of running the family farm, he failed miserably, so poorly in fact that an uncle took charge and sent him off to Cambridge where he finally blossomed into the scholar we know today.
  5. Socrates: Despite leaving no written records behind, Socrates is regarded as one of the greatest philosophers of the Classical era. Because of his new ideas, in his own time he was called "an immoral corrupter of youth" and was sentenced to death. Socrates didn't let this stop him and kept right on, teaching up until he was forced to poison himself.
  6. Robert Sternberg: This big name in psychology received a “C” in his first college introductory psychology class with his teacher telling him that, "there was already a famous Sternberg in psychology and it was obvious there would not be another." Ouch! Sternberg showed him, however, graduating from Stanford with exceptional distinction in psychology, summa cum laude, and Phi Beta Kappa and eventually becoming the President of the American Psychological Association.


These inventors changed the face of the modern world, but not without a few failed prototypes along the way.

  1. Thomas Edison: In his early years, teachers told Edison he was "too stupid to learn anything." Work was no better, as he was fired from his first two jobs for not being productive enough. Even as an inventor, Edison made 1,000 unsuccessful attempts at inventing the light bulb. Of course, all those unsuccessful attempts finally resulted in the design that worked.
  2. Orville and Wilbur Wright: These brothers battled depression and family illness before starting the bicycle shop that would lead them to experimenting with flight. After numerous attempts at creating flying machines, several years of hard work, and tons of failed prototypes, the brothers finally created a plane that could get airborne and stay there.

Public Figures

From politicians to talk show hosts, these figures had a few failures before they came out on top.

  1. Winston Churchill: This Nobel Prize-winning, twice-elected Prime Minster of the United Kingdom wasn't always as well regarded as he is today. Churchill struggled in school and failed the sixth grade. After school he faced many years of political failures, as he was defeated in every election for public office until he finally became the Prime Minister at the ripe old age of 62.
  2. Abraham Lincoln: While today he is remembered as one of the greatest leaders of our nation, Lincoln's life wasn't so easy. In his youth he went to war a captain and returned a private (if you're not familiar with military ranks, just know that private is as low as it goes.) Lincoln didn't stop failing there, however. He started numerous failed business and was defeated in numerous runs he made for public office.
  3. Oprah Winfrey: Most people know Oprah as one of the most iconic faces on TV as well as one of the richest and most successful women in the world. Oprah faced a hard road to get to that position, however, enduring a rough and often abusive childhood as well as numerous career setbacks including being fired from her job as a television reporter because she was "unfit for tv."
  4. Harry S. TrumanThis WWI vet, Senator, Vice President and eventual President eventually found success in his life, but not without a few missteps along the way. Truman started a store that sold silk shirts and other clothing–seemingly a success at first–only go bankrupt a few years later.
  5. Dick Cheney: This recent Vice President and businessman made his way to the White House but managed to flunk out of Yale University, not once, but twice. Former President George W. Bush joked with Cheney about this fact, stating, "So now we know –if you graduate from Yale, you become president. If you drop out, you get to be vice president."

Hollywood Types

These faces ought to be familiar from the big screen, but these actors, actresses and directors saw their fair share of rejection and failure before they made it big.

  1. Jerry Seinfeld: Just about everybody knows who Seinfeld is, but the first time the young comedian walked on stage at a comedy club, he looked out at the audience, froze and was eventually jeered and booed off of the stage. Seinfeld knew he could do it, so he went back the next night, completed his set to laughter and applause, and the rest is history.
  2. Fred Astaire: In his first screen test, the testing director of MGM noted that Astaire, "Can't act. Can't sing. Slightly bald. Can dance a little." Astaire went on to become an incredibly successful actor, singer and dancer and kept that note in his Beverly Hills home to remind him of where he came from.
  3. Sidney Poitier: After his first audition, Poitier was told by the casting director, "Why don't you stop wasting people's time and go out and become a dishwasher or something?" Poitier vowed to show him that he could make it, going on to win an Oscar and become one of the most well-regarded actors in the business.
  4. Jeanne Moreau: As a young actress just starting out, this French actress was told by a casting director that she was simply not pretty enough to make it in films. He couldn't have been more wrong as Moreau when on to star in nearly 100 films and win numerous awards for her performances.
  5. Charlie Chaplin: It's hard to imagine film without the iconic Charlie Chaplin, but his act was initially rejected by Hollywood studio chiefs because they felt it was a little too nonsensical to ever sell.
  6. Lucille Ball: During her career, Ball had thirteen Emmy nominations and four wins, also earning the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Kennedy Center Honors. Before starring in I Love Lucy, Ball was widely regarded as a failed actress and a B movie star. Even her drama instructors didn't feel she could make it, telling her to try another profession. She, of course, proved them all wrong.
  7. Harrison FordIn his first film, Ford was told by the movie execs that he simply didn't have what it takes to be a star. Today, with numerous hits under his belt, iconic portrayals of characters like Han Solo and Indiana Jones, and a career that stretches decades, Ford can proudly show that he does, in fact, have what it takes.
  8. Marilyn Monroe: While Monroe's star burned out early, she did have a period of great success in her life. Despite a rough upbringing and being told by modeling agents that she should instead consider being a secretary, Monroe became a pin-up, model and actress that still strikes a chord with people today.
  9. Oliver StoneThis Oscar-winning filmmaker began his first novel while at Yale, a project that eventually caused him to fail out of school. This would turn out to be a poor decision as the the text was rejected by publishers and was not published until 1998, at which time it was not well-received. After dropping out of school, Stone moved to Vietnam to teach English, later enlisting in the army and fighting in the war, a battle that earning two Purple Hearts and helped him find the inspiration for his later work that often center around war.

Writers and Artists

We've all heard about starving artists and struggling writers, but these stories show that sometimes all that work really does pay off with success in the long run.

  1. Vincent Van GoghDuring his lifetime, Van Gogh sold only one painting, and this was to a friend and only for a very small amount of money. While Van Gogh was never a success during his life, he plugged on with painting, sometimes starving to complete his over 800 known works. Today, they bring in hundreds of millions.
  2. Emily DickinsonRecluse and poet Emily Dickinson is a commonly read and loved writer. Yet in her lifetime she was all but ignored, having fewer than a dozen poems published out of her almost 1,800 completed works.
  3. Theodor Seuss GieselToday nearly every child has read The Cat in the Hat or Green Eggs and Ham, yet 27 different publishers rejected Dr. Seuss's first book To Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street.
  4. Charles SchultzSchultz's Peanuts comic strip has had enduring fame, yet this cartoonist had every cartoon he submitted rejected by his high school yearbook staff. Even after high school, Schultz didn't have it easy, applying and being rejected for a position working with Walt Disney.
  5. Steven Spielberg: While today Spielberg's name is synonymous with big budget, he was rejected from the University of Southern California School of Theater, Film and Television three times. He eventually attended school at another location, only to drop out to become a director before finishing. Thirty-five years after starting his degree, Spielberg returned to school in 2002 to finally complete his work and earn his BA.
  6. Stephen King: The first book by this author, the iconic thriller Carrie, received 30 rejections, finally causing King to give up and throw it in the trash. His wife fished it out and encouraged him to resubmit it, and the rest is history, with King now having hundreds of books published the distinction of being one of the best-selling authors of all time.
  7. Zane GreyIncredibly popular in the early 20th century, this adventure book writer began his career as a dentist, something he quickly began to hate. So, he began to write, only to see rejection after rejection for his works, being told eventually that he had no business being a writer and should given up. It took him years, but at 40, Zane finally got his first work published, leaving him with almost 90 books to his name and selling over 50 million copies worldwide.
  8. J. K. Rowling: Rowling may be rolling in a lot of Harry Potter dough today, but before she published the series of novels she was nearly penniless, severely depressed, divorced, trying to raise a child on her own while attending school and writing a novel. Rowling went from depending on welfare to survive to being one of the richest women in the world in a span of only five years through her hard work and determination.
  9. MonetToday Monet's work sells for millions of dollars and hangs in some of the most prestigious institutions in the world. Yet during his own time, it was mocked and rejected by the artistic elite, the Paris Salon. Monet kept at his impressionist style, which caught on and in many ways was a starting point for some major changes to art that ushered in the modern era.
  10. Jack London: This well-known American author wasn't always such a success. While he would go on to publish popular novels like White Fang and The Call of the Wild, his first story received six hundred rejection slips before finally being accepted.
  11. Louisa May Alcott: Most people are familiar with Alcott's most famous work,Little Women. Yet Alcott faced a bit of a battle to get her work out there and was was encouraged to find work as a servant by her family to make ends meet. It was her letters back home during her experience as a nurse in the Civil War that gave her the first big break she needed.


While their music is some of the best selling, best loved and most popular around the world today, these musicians show that it takes a whole lot of determination to achieve success.

  1. Wolfgang Amadeus MozartMozart began composing at the age of five, writing over 600 pieces of music that today are lauded as some of the best ever created. Yet during his lifetime, Mozart didn't have such an easy time, and was often restless, leading to his dismissal from a position as a court musician in Salzberg. He struggled to keep the support of the aristocracy and died with little to his name.
  2. Elvis Presley: As one of the best-selling artists of all time, Elvis has become a household name even years after his death. But back in 1954, Elvis was still a nobody, and Jimmy Denny, manager of the Grand Ole Opry, fired Elvis Presley after just one performance telling him, "You ain't goin' nowhere, son. You ought to go back to drivin' a truck."
  3. Igor Stravinsky: In 1913 when Stravinsky debuted his now famous Rite of Spring, audiences rioted, running the composer out of town. Yet it was this very work that changed the way composers in the 19th century thought about music and cemented his place in musical history.
  4. The BeatlesFew people can deny the lasting power of this super group, still popular with listeners around the world today. Yet when they were just starting out, a recording company told them no. The were told "we don't like their sound, and guitar music is on the way out," two things the rest of the world couldn't have disagreed with more.
  5. Ludwig van Beethoven: In his formative years, young Beethoven was incredibly awkward on the violin and was often so busy working on his own compositions that he neglected to practice. Despite his love of composing, his teachers felt he was hopeless at it and would never succeed with the violin or in composing. Beethoven kept plugging along, however, and composed some of the best-loved symphonies of all time–five of them while he was completely deaf.


While some athletes rocket to fame, others endure a path fraught with a little more adversity, like those listed here.

  1. Michael JordanMost people wouldn't believe that a man often lauded as the best basketball player of all time was actually cut from his high school basketball team. Luckily, Jordan didn't let this setback stop him from playing the game and he has stated, "I have missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I have lost almost 300 games. On 26 occasions I have been entrusted to take the game winning shot, and I missed. I have failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed."
  2. Stan SmithThis tennis player was rejected from even being a lowly ball boy for a Davis Cup tennis match because event organizers felt he was too clumsy and uncoordinated. Smith went on to prove them wrong, showcasing his not-so-clumsy skills by winning Wimbledon, U. S. Open and eight Davis Cups.
  3. Babe RuthYou probably know Babe Ruth because of his home run record (714 during his career), but along with all those home runs came a pretty hefty amount of strikeouts as well (1,330 in all). In fact, for decades he held the record for strikeouts. When asked about this he simply said, "Every strike brings me closer to the next home run."
  4. Tom LandryAs the coach of the Dallas Cowboys, Landry brought the team two Super Bowl victories, five NFC Championship victories and holds the records for the record for the most career wins. He also has the distinction of having one of the worst first seasons on record (winning no games) and winning five or fewer over the next four seasons.


Pastor Campbell in Hampton Roads | April 22-26

To all the Potter's House People:

We have a fantastic lineup of events ahead of us this weekend that we don't want you to miss out on including...

Friday Night Revival Service at 7:30 PM with Pastor Joe Campbell!!

Wow, you never, never want to miss a service when Pastor Campbell is here!

Saturday Morning Men's Discipleship Class at 11AM.

This class, being preached again by Pastor Campbell, will be happening in the Norfolk church located at 6820 N. Military Highway. Let God challenge you to rise up and become the man of God that He created you to be.

Saturday Night Revival Service back in Virginia Beach at 7:30 PM.

It is rare that we get to have such a wonderful guest speaker. It's even better to have him twice!! What a treat. Cancel your plans and make sure to be here for the second revival service in our own location in Virginia Beach.

Building Your Family Legacy – Part 8

It's been a challenging and moving eight weeks as we've gone through this material. Don't miss the last installment of our Sunday morning video series this Sunday at 9:30AM. 

World Evangelism Sunday

Get your international gear ready as we observe our monthly tradition of World Evangelism Sunday. Pastor Dragoon will be challenging us to keep our eyes fixed on the need of the hour to win our city and our world for Jesus! Morning service will be at 11AM as usual.

In our evening service, we will have a special treat as Pastor Dragoon will be sharing the photos and videos of the events that took place during his international missions trip to Manilla last week. Here's a video preview of what you are in for:

Pastor Campbell in Newport News on Monday and Tuesday Nights

The revival continues into next week as Pastor Campbell will be preaching in our sister church up in Newport News. These services will begin each night at 7:30 PM and we would encourage you to do everything possible to attend these powerful services. The address of the church is 13751 Warwick Blvd in Newport News. See you there!!

Passion Week – The In-Between Sabbath Day

In the story of the Passion, we have this unusual Sabbath day. It's the day after the darkest day in history: Jesus' death and burial. It's also the day before the brightest day in history: Jesus' triumphant resurrection! It's just in the middle. And we only have one verse of scripture from that day in Matthew 27:

The next day, on the Sabbath, the leading priests and Pharisees went to see Pilate. They told him, “Sir, we remember what that deceiver once said while he was still alive: ‘After three days I will rise from the dead.’ So we request that you seal the tomb until the third day. This will prevent his disciples from coming and stealing his body and then telling everyone he was raised from the dead! If that happens, we’ll be worse off than we were at first.” Pilate replied, “Take guards and secure it the best you can.” So they sealed the tomb and posted guards to protect it.
— Matthew 27:62-66 NLT

This image was taken in 1922. It is the unbroken seal that was on the tomb of the ancient Pharoah, Tutankhamun. It was sealed upon his death at age 18 in 1323 BC, then laid untouched and unbroken for 3,245 years until its discovery in the 20th century by Howard Carter. I use this image to illustrate what the priests and Pharisees wished would've happened with Jesus. The only thing they could do to keep Jesus in the tomb was to put a seal on it, and post a couple of sentries there to ensure there would be absolutely no tomfoolery happening with the body of there least favorite rabbi from Nazareth. Humanity is endlessly trying to place human limitations on the power of God.

They were successful with this strategy... For about 24 hours. No rope, no stamp, no gravestone could hold Jesus down. Indeed, no strategy of man or devil could withhold the King of Kings from his destiny as the Resurrected One. But for one single solitary day, the day in-between, it seemed like it was going to work.

I want to suggest that the dispensation of the church age in which we live until this day is represented by that "In-Between" Sabbath day. We are caught between the wickedness of our past wrongs and the glorious hope that is in our promised future. From an outsider looking in, we look powerless to overcome. There are situations that strikingly appear like a sealed-up and guarded tomb. No hope there...

But fear not brothers and sisters. Just as surely as Jesus rose to conquer death, hell and the grave; so He will also rise to conquer your areas of weakness and death. We serve a God that can bring dead things back to life: no matter what human or demonic strategy may be employed to seal it up forever. In this "In-Between" life, let us...

...lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares [us], and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of [our] faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
— Heb 12:1-2 NKJV

Passion Week - Sunday

For the next week, I'll be highlighting the major events in the bible that occurred as Jesus prepared for the cross.

Yesterday was the traditional beginning of the Passion week of Jesus Christ. It was yesterday that Jesus triumphantly rode into Jerusalem on a borrowed colt. Something amazing happened on that victorious day: Jesus received the adoration and worship of a large crowd. This is something that we don't see him doing very often in the Gospel accounts.. Normally, he avoided the crowds, scuttled away before they would make him king:

Therefore when Jesus perceived that they were about to come and take Him by force to make Him king, He departed again to the mountain by Himself alone
— John 6:15

But on this victorious day, Jesus finally gave his followers the opportunity to express their gratitude, their praise, their adoration for the One who had healed them, preached to them, taught them and loved them. This was not just a praise service though.. The palm branch was (and is) a symbol of great victory. According to Wikipedia:

The palm branch is a symbol of victory, triumph, peace and eternal life originating in the ancient Near East and Mediterranean world. The palm (Phoenix) was sacred in Mesopotamian religions, and in ancient Egypt represented immortality. In Judaism, a closed frond of the date palm is part of the festival of Sukkot. A palm branch was awarded to victorious athletes in ancient Greece, and a palm frond or the tree itself is one of the most common attributes of Victory personified in ancient Rome.
— https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Palm_branch_(symbol)

On that day, Jesus was experiencing His first coronation! This is just a small glimpse of what Heaven will look like one day! It was such a boisterous occasion that even the Pharisees took notice and asked Jesus to quiet them down:

And some of the Pharisees called to Him from the crowd, “Teacher, rebuke Your disciples.” But He answered and said to them, “I tell you that if these should keep silent, the stones would immediately cry out.”
— Luke 19:39-40

This event was a preview of what life will be like in eternity. I don't know about you, but I can't wait until the day that I can join in with all the saints and the rest of the Heavenly host to welcome Jesus to His eternal throne in the New Jerusalem! GO JESUS!

Upcoming Events

To The Potter's House People:

Just wanted to give you an update regarding some upcoming events that you should know about:

Tomorrow is the last Sunday of the month which means.. World Evangelism Sunday!! Join us for prayer at 9AM, Sunday School at 10AM, and Morning Worship at 11AM. Tomorrow night we will present to you the POWERFUL World Evangelism Video from the Prescott Conference. You don’t want to miss this powerful presentation. In tomorrow night’s service we will also be raising up an offering for our International Impact Team to Manila, Philippines.

Speaking of which, the dates for this trip have been postponed. Which means there still might be a chance for you to make it!! The new dates for the trip are April 12-18. WE need you to pray give and go! Please contact me if you have the opportunity to attend.

Flag of the Philippines

Next week will also be quite eventful since we are restarting our monthly Saturday Movie Nights. Next Saturday we will be showing a powerful film called Woodlawn at 7PM. Please begin inviting friends, coworkers, family and neighbors out to this exciting event. Check out the trailer on our sister website: SaturdayNightAlive.info

Finally, we are excited to announce our new Sunday School video series premiering next Sunday at 10AM, Building Your Family Legacy by Dr. James Dobson. This is a powerful series for your marriage, family and parenting skills. DO NOT MISS THIS if you desire to have anything valuable to pass on to the next generation of your family tree. See more info here.

Thanks for all you do!


Guest Post: John Kaptan – The Best Year of Our Lives

From Pastor Adam: For those who don't know John, he is the father of the precious little boy named Johnny who was in the same kindergarten class as our daughter, Jaylee. They were not only classmates, but also friends. We counted it a privilege to know Johnny before his sickness, but an even greater privilege to watch him and his family rely on God's supernatural provision during such a difficult season of treatment, disappointment and ultimately Johnny's departure to the arms of Jesus last October. We received this note from John earlier today and I continue to stand in awe of the grace of God all over this family. I hope it touches you the same way it touched us:


On Christmas Day I overheard Tracy telling a friend “This has been the best year of my life.”

How could a year that opened with her oldest son in perfect health and closed with him dead from brain cancer be the best year of her life?

To paraphrase a favorite pastor’s sermon on Romans 8 – “In all things – God.”

In anguish over unexplained decline in health – God.

In heartwrenching diagnosis – God.

In uncertain treatment – God.

In miraculous response to radiation – God.

In apparent open door to cutting edge experimental treatment – God.

In unprecedented regrowth of tumor – God.

In crushing disappointment – God.

In the peace and joy of a six year old who knows his time has come – God.

In the comfort and sustaining grace over a broken hearted family – God.

We have tasted, and we have seen – the LORD is good. We have shed more tears in 2015 than perhaps in all our other years combined.  Yet we rejoice.  We rejoice through the pain – not in spite of it, nor as if it were not there.  Thanksgiving was harder than I had anticipated.  Christmas was a mix of bitter and sweet as our family celebration of Jesus’ birth was notably quieter, and we reflected that Johnny now worships his Savior by sight and not by faith.  But years’ end brings swelling confidence in the goodness, kindness, and faithfulness of Jehovah.

This year we encountered a God who keeps His promises. We can say at the end of 2015 that we know God better.  I am tempted to grit my teeth as I type this as unbelief yet battles faith in my heart and tears stream stinging down my face – but IT.IS.WORTH.EVERY.TEAR-EVERY AGONY, EVERY WAIL.

With David in Psalm 23 – I have walked through the valley of the shadow of death, but I did not fear the evil that did befall me – for you have been with me.  Your rod, your staff – they have comforted me.

With Paul in Philippians 3 – I count everything as loss – even the dreams and plans for my son – because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord.  For His sake I have suffered the loss of all things.

This is radical – and the kind of thing over which people fall away from the truth. 

Any strength I have is from God.  I am no Greek scholar, so I cannot speak with authority on the following – but hear me out on Philippians 4:13 which says “I CAN DO all things through him who strengthens me.”  Athletes put that verse on their cleats and students claim that as a promise of achievement before exams, however I think the verse means the near opposite in context.  I think perhaps the meaning is better understood “I can SUFFER all things through him who strengthens me.”  Verse 12 mentions hunger and need, and verse 14 speaks of sharing in trouble. 

I have endured all things through him who strengthened me. 

The truth in this is hard – and I urge you not to regard lightly the deep things of God.  

The matter of suffering is a real source of unbelief for honest atheists.   They say, “I cannot believe in a God who would allow…” fill in the blank.

Well, our blank is…”a healthy six year old boy to die of an inoperable, incurable, aggressive, progressively debilitating brain tumor.

Yet we believe.  And for that, we glorify Him.  Our faith, a completely rational response to all that we can see and know – is still a gift.  It is a treasure, hidden in our clay vessels, to reflect the value of Him who gives, not him who has received.

If you read the words of Jesus He makes clear to his disciples (and all who follow after Him) “In this world you will have tribulation” (John 16) and “any one of you who does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple.” (Luke 14)

But, I tell you in this trial we have not been alone. It was like a burning oven to us, but like Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego we found “the fire had not any power over us – our hair is not singed, our clothes are not burned.”


I hope to one day enumerate all those to whom we desire to give our thanks.  I hope to share recollections of the joy of being Johnny’s parents.  But for now, here find that your prayers on our behalf continue to be answered graciously.  We are sustained by grace and comforted in our pain.  We rejoice in the near six years of healthy life that Johnny experienced, and we treasure the memories we had opportunity to make this year. We tremble at the faithfulness of God to grant our son such peace, joy, and assurance of glory-filled redemption in the presence of His Savior through weakness, pain and death.  We see that in 2015, the Lord drew near to us.

We start 2016 with grateful hearts.  Our gaze is lifted Heavenward.  Through our tribulation, the grip this world has on our hearts has been severely weakened.  For this we glorify God.