The word of the day is faith. That’s a good word, right? People like to talk about faith. They love to sing about faith. They definitely like to believe in faith. I’m talking about Christians right? Actually, not necessarily. Just people. People, in general, love faith. Maybe not biblical faith, but faith. I can think of a great country music singer that’s named Faith. I can think of about a half dozen churches that have it in the name. I can think of even more songs, secular and Christian, that have the word faith in the lyrics. What does it mean though? Have you ever sat and thought about what that word actually means?
It goes without saying that the title of this blog post comes from the cult classic, Dumb and Dumber. In the famous scene, Lloyd Christmas asks a waitress, “What’s the soup de jour?” She says, “That’s the soup of the day.” Lloyd stupidly says, “Mmmm… that’s sounds good, I’ll have that.” She rolls her eyes and leaves.
Did you see what just happened there? Lloyd Christmas, a total imbecile, ordered a soup without having a clue what soup it was. Because it “sounded” good. Im pretty sure that’s the way I operated for the longest time, and still do sometimes now. Dumbly throwing that word faith around, without a clue what it means and what it costs. Sadly, it took taking a leap of faith to find out what kind of faith we had. In 2010, Lauren and I took a blind leap of faith and moved to seminary, broke and drowning in debt, yet hopeful that God would provide our every need and want.
It is true we made it through a short stint there, and it is also true that we never went too hungry. It is not true that we were operating on faith. Faith is assurance based on knowledge. Faith is not operating blindly, with your hands tied behind your back, daring God to take care of you. Well, mostly.
After we moved back from seminary, scarred, tired, and emotionally sick, it took years to figure out what happened. We had acted foolishly because of a fictitious and hypersuperspiritual calling to go to seminary and naval chaplaincy, and it almost tore us apart. Maybe that was God’s plan all along. (I tell people to this day that God graciously drug us through the mud the last 10 years to build us up.)
God did restore us though. Upon returning home, He brought us to Air and Heat Services, the Lott family, then Oxford, then Grace Bible Church. He used places like Grace Bible Church to renew our souls and to restore our faith in him.
Wait, isn’t this blog supposed to be about church planting? Well, that brings me to the next phase of faith. Sound faith built on knowledge. If you skim Hebrews 11, then go to each of those stories of faith in their respective texts, you will find men and women that were not blindly navigating a dark room with a blindfold on. No they were assured of God’s leading, by the very words of God (the prophets or scripture mostly), and for many actually seeing God act in the past. Specifically, I think of Abraham as he walked up the mountain to sacrifice Isaac. The thought alone must have rocked him, but he went upward. This wasn’t Abraham’s first instance of faith, was it? No, Abraham had seen the impossible happen. Against incredible odds, God had provided him an heir with a mighty promise. Now, Abraham didn’t know how God would handle it, but he knew God would provide a correct sacrifice.
As we first began looking in to GOING somewhere, old scars began hurting again. We had to do a lot of deep soul searching, trying to see if we believed God enough to act on faith. I remember even telling friends that I wasn’t doing anything until I saw God pay off our bills and provide checks to go. I had one particularly stubborn friend tell me, “That’s not how this works.” He said “man makes his plans but God ordains his steps.” As it turns out, we were both right. It felt like God shoved us through a door we were hesitant to enter. Yet, as we made plans, God ordained the way. Our faith is at an “all time high” right now. Of course it would be, on the verge of moving to a foreign place to do an impossible task. But unlike last time, it’s built on a firm foundation of understanding our biblical calling to go, and seeing God continue to work.
Some of you may remember our trip to North Nevada/Utah back in September 2016. That trip cost about $2500.00. Did you know that we didn’t pay a dime? Actually, we hardly fund-raised and we definitely didn’t have a vision that people could trust. We simply mailed about 50 letters out and prayed God would provide a way to go. The last $500.00 came in the day before we left. On top of that, we had a big scare at the SLC airport. As we entered the car rental area, we learned that you need a credit card to rent a car. Guess what, we do not have one. As we fretted over what to do, stuck in the Salt Lake City airport, the lady said try National. They gladly rented a car to us. It was a blessing and a faith builder.
I’ve never had an instance where we had a bill due and received a check in the mail for the exact amount. Some people have, but we have not. We have almost lost cars and insurance because no check showed; nor did we expect it to. But…. We have seen God faithfully provide for every step of the way, always having food and shelter. It has been no different with church planting. We have worked very hard to get the word out, but God has equally worked to provide faithful prayer and giving partners.
I no longer fret over how this thing is going to turn out. I mean, I fret over the hard work and not getting my tasks done, over our assessment, and a lot of other silly things that are probably ridiculous to do so; but God has provided, and we have faith, built on knowledge, that he will continue to provide our every need. In Oxford, In Las Vegas, and where ever the road may take us.