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Earl Marshall

Category: Uncategorized (page 1 of 17)

2 Corinthians Through the Lens of Cancer: 2 Corinthians 7

This is an interesting chapter. You can feel Paul’s love and concern about how the Corinthians are accepting of him. Actually one of the subplots of 2 Corinthians is the importance of relationships. Early on he is concerned about his relationship with the Corinthians and their relationship with one another. I have found this to be true that when you are in the midst of weakness from affliction relationships matter more than ever.

It is no secret that the past three years have been life altering for Brenda and I and at the heart of the struggle and change has been how things changed with our relationships. So, as I found myself diagnosed with cancer and dealing with the rhythms of treatment the relationships were what mattered, I love how God in his grace gave me a phone call during cancer treatment that helped begin the process towards restoration in the things that matter most, relationships.

Paul has made a difficult decision and you can hear the angst he feels with this. His difficult decision was to write the Corinthian’s a challenging letter. Making these kinds of difficult decisions and not knowing how they will impact your relationships is gut wrenching. He is almost on “pins and needles” wondering how the church has received this and how it has impacted his relationship with them. See what he says in 7:7, “Make room in your heart for us.”

He is effusive towards them. He says in 7:4, “In all our afflictions, I am overflowing with joy.” He speaks of being in Macedonia of having a body that had on rest, but being afflicted at every turn – fighting without and within. We don’t know exactly what he is referring to. Perhaps he is speaking of his conflict with the Corinthian church. I tend to think that he is making a general comment to his suffering for the faith. The Apostle Paul and his team did not have an easy go in most places. The Gospel was confrontational and he was afflicted because of it – fighting within and without.

What I love the most about this chapter is that in the midst of the fighting without and fear within, God comforts him with news from Corinth which causes great overflowing joy in his life. In the midst of the affliction and suffering he is comforted – from unexpected places.

Oh, how I loved that phone call. With tears streaming down my face God comforted me with news from unexpected places. It is true that relationships do matter. God will comfort and bring joy but sometimes not where you are expecting or with the direct struggle you are dealing with. I would love to hear “you are healed” but sometimes the words we receive are other words and from different places. These to bring us joy. An unexpected word of testimony about a past deed or word said in someone’s life or even a moment of peaceful quiet in your soul or a glimpse of the greatness of your Creator, all bring overflowing joy.

Joy comes from the beginning of the restoration of relationships that were torn in the midst of the struggle. Sometimes hard words must be said. Many times the hard words said are difficult for the one who is saying them. But because relationships matter and restoration can happen in Christ . . . therefore, we are comforted (7:13).

2 Corinthians Through the Lens of Cancer: 2 Corinthians 6

I have been reminded that even in the midst of something so life-jolting as cancer people/I struggle with having the right affections. You would think something that is so life and death altering as cancer would rattle you into reality. 2 Corinthians 6:1-13 reminds me that this is not the case.

Persuasion is not always the problem. Now is the favourable time for salvation. There is never a better time than the now. The Apostle Paul says that he/we is not the obstacle to a person’s response of repentance and therefore, reconciliation with the Lord. He says in 6:11, “we have spoken freely to you . . . You are not restricted by us.” No, the problem is that they are restricted by their affections.

We are finding this to be true even with those who have cancer. Crazy really to face the reality of death without any sense of hope and still not turn to God. Our affections, the things we hold on to in our hearts are what keeps us from relationship with the Lord. We hold on to things, idolize things that are in replacement of God. The temple of God does not have agreement with idols. You can’t be unequally yoked. It does not work, at all!

We can preach, present the gospel with an open heart but if hearts are trapped by the affections of idols of this world, and they are, there is hope for salvation only with the Spirit of God tearing down the idols. Please Lord do this thing before our very eyes. Save us from ourselves.

Coming Home

Many have asked for an update of what is next for us.

We are pleased to be moving back to Canada where I will serve as the Interim Canadian Regional Director for HBF Canada based out of Harvest Bible Chapel in Oakville.

As difficult and challenging July has been we are hopeful that August will bring more answers than questions as we move from Chicago to the Oakville area.

We are thankful for the opportunity to serve the Church in Canada and continue to pray for revival for our great nation from sea to sea to sea.






Hope and Loss

July has come and gone . . . glad to see it go.

Ministry position ended, relationships changing, and the death of my mother.

Some necessary endings others shockingly difficult.

It has been hard but there is hope.

“He (God) rewards those who diligently seek Him.” Hebrews 11:6

“Who (God) comforts us in our afflictions so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort which we ourselves are comforted by God.” 2 Corinthians 1:4


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.

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