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Been There, Done That Been There, Done That
    by Mark Waltenbaugh

EDITOR'S NOTE: Nothing kills a great idea placed in the hearts of God’s people more than someone who says, “They did that once at a church where we attended and it was a total flop!” or “We tried that once before, but it didn’t really work that well.” While we don’t want to be foolish and keep trying to the same ol’ things that don’t work, we also don’t want to doom a great idea just because a few nay-sayers don’t think it will work. Leadership requires discernment, faith, and a sense of God’s leading. Let’s remind our folks that when Jesus says “Fish here,” it doesn’t matter if we haven’t caught anything there in the past!

    It’s a common fallacy in the church that something once tried and failed is doomed to any possible future successes. It may be true that attempting a ministry that had been unfruitful in the past may once again achieve the same outcome... but it certainly isn’t a given. Remember this little learning experience Jesus gave his disciples?

“So they went out and got into the boat, but that night they caught nothing. Early in the morning, Jesus stood on the shore, but the disciples did not realize that it was Jesus. He called out to them, ‘Friends, haven’t you any fish?’ ‘No,’ they answered. He said, ‘Throw you net on the right side of the boat and you will find some.’ When they did, they were unable to haul the net in because of the large number of fish.” John 21:3-6

Let’s just obey him and see what results he chooses to bring.
    I know, it was a miracle and not an every-day occurrence — a specific event that was meant to point to a powerful work of God and one that helped reveal Jesus to those present (cf. John 21:7ff). But I also believe that a principle revealed in this passage is still as relevant today and it was then. When God is involved in an activity, he will bring about fruit-bearing results.

    Maybe it wasn’t the right time for home study groups 5 years ago, but the field is ripe now. Perhaps we have tried a food pantry before and it didn’t work out too well, but that doesn’t mean all things are the same today.

    If God is placing a ministry on your heart, and you’re discouraged because of past results or because of others who know of unfruitful past results, don’t assume you’re doomed to failure. God has a wonderful way of changing the outcome of common events according to his will. May we never get in the way of our God “casting the net on the right side of the boat” because we’ve already been fishing there and it’s been unproductive. Let’s just obey him and see what results he chooses to bring.

    Father, please keep us open to your leading and your desires. Let us not be defeated by history but allow us to be energized by your calling. Help us to step into areas where you’re working or desire to go, no matter how many times it’s been tried in the past... that you might be revealed and glorified! In Jesus’ name. Amen.

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Title: "Been There, Done That"
Author: Mark Waltenbaugh
Publication Date: March 9, 2001



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HEARTLIGHT® Magazine is a ministry of loving Christians and the Westover Hills Church of Christ. Edited by Phil Ware and Paul Lee, assisted by Roberto Gelleni and Ben Steed. Frank Cloutier is Executive Director.
Article © 2000, Mark Waltenbaugh. Used by permission. Copyright © 1996-2001, Heartlight, Inc., 8332 Mesa Drive, Austin, TX 78759. May be reprinted and reused for non-commercial purposes only if copyright credits are appropriately displayed.
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