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Earl Marshall

Category: Uncategorized (page 1 of 17)

Next Steps

The past few days I have received texts and phone calls from many people expressing care for us and asking about our next steps. Thank you. While it could be applied in different ways the following indicates my desire for what is next.


To serve our Lord Jesus Christ and glorify his name by stewarding the ministry capacity that he has given to me in a local church with a vertical church ministry philosophy

Preaching and Teaching – 2 Timothy 4:2

  • Engaging in the regular preaching and teaching of God’s Word in a local church congregation and beyond

Multiplying – 2 Timothy 2:2

  • Brenda and I together investing in, equipping, encouraging, and mentoring church leaders, pastors and their wives
  • Working beyond a primary local congregation helping other churches reach their ministry capacity


  • Participating on a senior leadership team working collaboratively together and dependently on the Lord for the oversight and direction of ministry in the local church

All for the glory of God and so grateful to be able to serve the King.


New Beginnings

For the past 2½ years it has been a privilege to work for HBF in the training of Senior Pastors in church planting around the world. Brenda and I cherish the relationships we have with so many in various countries and we are thankful for the time we have enjoyed in Chicago working with an outstanding team of committed and gifted leaders.

The time has come for us to begin a new chapter of ministry. We are beginning the discovery process of looking forward to what God has for us next in vocational ministry. We will complete our work at HBC in Elgin on July 15, 2017.

We leave thankful and grateful for the opportunity to serve God and His church around the world. We are hopeful that we can continue in some way to help all of our churches and their efforts to plant church planting churches. Our prayer is that God will make all grace abound to you and between each other during this season of change.

In Christ and for Christ,

Earl and Brenda

Reading Challenge – Book 4

As I look back on my life I have found this to be true, every new opportunity has started with an ending. In Necessary Endings Henry Cloud reminds us how it is normal and important to have endings. I would encourage everyone to read this book, especially those of us who struggle with endings, whether that be relational or organizational. It seems so obvious if not at the same time awkward and emotional to realize that endings are an important part of life.

Here are some of the important things that I gleaned while reading this book.

Pruning: Leaders have to have a good picture of what we want the outcome to look like and prune toward that. Endings are an important part of the pruning process of leadership. You always have to choose between good and best. This will mean that there are times that a leader will need to give up hoping in what they are currently trying to do. You will need to define success and learn how to measure that.

Identify what it is that is keeping you stuck.

Embrace hopelessness:  You have to get in touch with reality . .  what is not working and what will not magically begin working (page 74). In other words you have to get hopeless about what is not going to work.

The Three Kinds of People:  I think I read this chapter a few times. There are wise people, people who own their performance, listen to feedback and make adjustments. There are foolish people, people who adjust the truth so that they don’t have to anything different. They adjust the truth so that they don’t have to adjust to it (page 133). While the fool can be the smartest or most gifted in the room but they are quick to shift blame, minimize, rationalize, excuse, get angry, victimize, and see the world as made up of good guys and bad guys. There are also evil people. You can read the book to find out about evil people. The beauty of this chapter was in identifying how to respond to each of these types of people. When working with wise people, talking helps. When working with foolish people stop talking about the problem and have a different kind of conversation. The new problem to talk about with the foolish person is that talking doesn’t help (page 137). With the evil person, well you will just have to read the book.

Take Inventory of What is Depleting Your Resources: “If you are doing something that is using you or your resources in a way that is depleting you or damaging you, you can’t keep it going. The reason? You are not just getting tired; you or your resource is getting depleted. You or your resource is being cannibalized. In short: you will run out” (page 221). For me, I had to consider the following question – “Are you letting your strengths fall into disuse in a way that is not sustainable?” (page 225).

This is a great book. I would put this near the top of your personal and organizational leadership reading list. Get it and read it, now!


On Calling to Ministry

As we recruit and assess new candidates for church planting one of the questions we consider is “calling.” Here is an interview with Jonathan Leeman and Mark Dever  that helps in understanding the challenge of determining vocational ministry calling.


2017 Reading Challenge – Book 2 and 3

31 plus years into our marriage and we finally figured out the beauty of the winter vacation. Nothing like sitting in the sun and getting a break from the cold. While basking in the captain obvious moment I decided to take two easy read books with me that both turned out to be fully entertaining and insightful.

99 Stories of the GameThe first book was 99 Stories of the Game by Wayne Gretzky with Kirstie McLellan Day  This book took me back to the formative years of my childhood. I was intrigued with Gretzky’s knowledge of past generations of hockey players and his depth of knowledge on the details in their stories. But it was his writing of his time with the Oilers, Canada Cups, and Kings that was so much fun for me. These are the teams I watched. These players are my peers. Having grown up around the corner from Paul Coffey, I could see his poke check in the Canada Cup as Gretzky described it like it was yesterday in my mind. This is a good book for anyone into hockey. I would strongly recommend it. The only objection I have with the book, tongue in cheek – sort of, is Gretzky’s version of the 1993 Leafs versus Kings semi-final. Sorry Wayne, I just didn’t see it the way that you did, #bloodisblood!shoe dog

The second book was Shoe Dog: A Memoir by the Creator of Nike by Phil Knight. This is a great read. I highly recommend that anyone who wants to be inspired about their leadership potential and entrepreneurial spirit read this one. Knight, recounts his story of the start up and development of Nike. The risks taken, the failures along the way, the key relationships developed and the needed timing to make Nike into what it is today. No doubt this story is full of revisionist history but it is still worth the read. A quick read that I found insightful.


2017 Reading Challenge – Book 1

The Promise Of A Pencil: How an Ordinary Person Can Create Extraordinary Change makes my list of books read in 2017 for two specific reasons. First, it tells the story of Adam Braun, in his own words, of the start and development of Pencils of Promise. This book is worth the read for its inspirational and motivational story of establishing and developing a nonprofit (for-purpose) from nothing into a global something. Anyone wondering if it can be done needs to read this book. But the biggest add for me is the leadership principles smattered throughout this book. Each new chapter begins with a leadership mantra. Some of these mantras are helpful but I found the real gold in the principles found in the paragraphs of each chapter. Here are a few of the principles that stood out for me:

  • Big dreams start with small unreasonable acts (page 75)
  • Practice humility over hubris (page 85)
  • The best presentations – the ones that inspire action – are those where the same journey is portrayed, except the audience is the focus. It’s not about the presenter, it’s about the chance that the audience has to become the hero by completing a well-defined task (page 136)
  • Those I met defined themselves by what was on their mind not on their business card (page 145)
  • For one day a week, it is important that you allow yourself to be a human being, not a human doing (page 146)
  • But nothing is more potent or deceptive than the competing interests of another great opportunity. In those moments when priorities clash, always stay guided by your values, not your perceived necessities. Necessities exist in a state of mind that will not last, whereas values are transcendent and enduring (page 160)
  • The single most wasted resource on earth if human intention. How many times have you wanted to do something but not acted right away and forgotten about it later? (page 172)
  • The biggest opportunities for growth are not found in the midst of success, but in the methods through which we address failure (page 184)
  • Make the little decisions with your head and the big ones with your heart (page 191)
  • Treat your work like a business not a charity (page 197)
  • The role of the founder should eventually be to listen to the echoes of his or her initial words, and then encourage and amplify the most genuine among those you hear (page 234)

His chapter Vulnerability is Vital  is insightful to addressing the fears that most have with the direct ask in fundraising. Every church-planter should read this chapter.

Thankful In Chicago – #40inTheFall

img_3697It is Thanksgiving Day this Thursday. Being a Canadian in the USA has meant adjusting the rhythm of the fall and celebrating thanksgiving a month later than normal. Multiple options for turkey is always a good thing. This year I am thankful for the forty men and their wives and children who are stepping out in faith to plant churches all across the world in 2017. They are doing something that very few people ever think of doing, starting something when your not 100 % if there is anything. What lies ahead of them is great opportunity and challenge. They have submitted their dreams of locations to the leadership of Harvest Bible Fellowship. They have exercised humility in coming to learn from us. Some have put plans on hold and have seen God move them in a different direction. It has been amazing to work with each one of them.

The best part is knowing what God is about to do. In places like Charlotte, Seattle, Spokane, Madison, and Wichita, God is going to start a vertical oriented church for His glory. In the USA, Canada, Mexico, St. Vincent, Barbados, Belize, Uganda and Rwanda churches will be started with unapologetic preaching, unashamed adoration, unceasing prayer, and unafraid witness.

In three weeks, December 15, a new chapter of God’s faithfulness will begin to be written. So many great stories yet untold.



Harvest Training Center – Week One #40intheFall

We are off to a great start. Our #40intheFall families have arrived. Last week we started by laying the right foundations.




Humbled and excited about the next four months.

Thinking on Prayer – Entry Two: Luke 18:8

Luke 18:1-14 is full of practical do’s and don’ts on prayer. The examples of the widow, judge, Pharisee and tax collector are teeming with analogies to our lives. It is, however, the words in 18:8 which have always posed the greatest challenge to my life. “Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?”

When I first read these words that end the parable of the widow and the judge and precede the parable of the Pharisee and the tax collector, I found their placement odd. It felt like an unnecessary “add on.” But the link between faith in God and prayer to God is unbreakable.

In this season of my life my pastoral responsibilities could be described as studying, preaching, teaching, mentoring, training, caring, leading. All of these bring rich joy to my life. Most of these, however, focus on my ability to discover, get things done, and can at times require small expressions of faith on my part.

The sign of real faith is prayer.

  • Prayer that is persistent, “crying to him day and night.”
  • Prayer that is desperate and dependent, she “kept coming to him and saying, ‘Give me justice against my adversary.’
  • Prayer that is humble, “standing far off, would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God be merciful to me, a sinner!’

Hebrews 11:1 says, “Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.”  One of the signs of faith is persistent, desperate, dependent, humble prayer. A lack of this kind of prayer in my life is an indication of a lack of faith in my God.

We are called to watch and be ready for the return of the Lord (Matthew 25:13), to set our hope on the return of Jesus Christ (1 Peter 1:13), to long for the return of Christ (Romans 8:18-19).

If he were to return right now would Jesus see in your life, persistent, desperate, dependent, humble prayer?

Would he find faith in your life?


How To Respond When Things Aren’t Going As Planned? The Gospel Power of Submission

I have been studying 1 Peter the past few months while observing sweeping political and cultural changes in North America. Evangelicals are continually finding themselves on the outside looking in through these changes. Our noses are pressed against the window watching a theater of activity that feels all to unfamiliar to us, This should not surprise us. For years the position of the evangelical church has been from the borderland of the public square and not the town center the church once occupied. But the speed of change the past couple of years has been mind-blowing. For example, I certainly did not foresee a transgender restroom law for public space on the political agenda. Nor did anyone seemingly anticipate the cultural conditions that have cultivated an uncertain leadership future for one of the world’s greatest countries.

The church continues to struggle with how to respond to these sweeping changes. We are citizens of heaven but also citizens of earth and citizenship requires a reasonable response. So in a culture that continues to change and create an unfriendly context for the gospel what should the response of the church be?

I have been challenged with Peter’s response in 1 Peter. In the midst of an unfavorable context for the gospel he promotes submission. His words were not written to Christian citizens in a democracy but to Christians under emperor rule, some whom were enslaved. How does a Christian respond when cultural conditions are not favorable, when they don’t have a strong voice in the public square, and when they are ridiculed and maligned for following Jesus Christ?

In the face of suffering the Christian chooses submission.

This truth conjures so many emotions. I certainly do not believe that the church should give up trying to influence the development of public policy through public debate. We should continue to struggle for God’s righteousness. His ways are always the best ways. But it is becoming increasingly clear that the spirit of anti-Christ is growing stronger and stronger and short of a massive revival in the church and a Christ centered spiritual awakening in the hearts of the lost it will become increasingly more difficult to follow Jesus in the public square of North America.

Our learned response must be the same as Jesus Christ. 1 Peter 4:1 says, “Since therefore Christ suffered in the flesh, arm yourselves with the same way of thinking.” When Christ suffered in the face of darkness it was his submission that was brightest.  1 Peter 3:15-17 says, “but in your hearts honor Christ that Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for the reason for the hope that is in you, yet do it with gentleness and respect, so that when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame. For it is better to suffer for doing good, if that should be God’s will, than for doing evil.”

I love a fighting heart but in the face of suffering for the gospel a submissive spirit is more powerful.  The light shines brighter in the darkness. These are great days for the power of the gospel. Submission is our gospel response.

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