Praying in Faith
About the Guest
How do you make the Bible the heart of your family? According to author Crawford Loritts, the Bible assumes that every follower of Christ has a faith that will be lived out among family and friends. Crawford distinguishes faith from presumption, and reminds us that God isn't obligated to do everything we ask. Faith says to God, "I believe You no matter what."
Crawford LorittsCrawford Loritts (B.S., D.Th., Philadelphia Biblical University; D.Div., Biola University) was the senior pastor of Fellowship Bible Church in Roswell, Georgia. He has served as a national evangelist with the American Missionary Fellowship and the Urban Evangelistic Mission, and as Associate Director of Campus Crusade for Christ. He co-founded Oak Cliff Bible Fellowship in Dallas, Texas. He is a frequent speaker for professional sports teams, including three Super Bowls and the NCAA Final Four...more
According to author Crawford Loritts, the Bible assumes that every follower of Christ has a faith that will be lived out among family and friends.
Praying in Faith
Bob: There are some steps of faith that are short steps. There are others that will give your legs a pretty good stretch. That’s the kind of step of faith Crawford Loritts took a few years ago when he became a senior pastor of a local church.
Crawford: You know, I am an African American; and our church is predominately white in the South. Yet, I felt God calling us there—that was part of what needed to be done. And you know, I’m 55 years old—that usually would be something a 35-year-old might think about doing. [Laughter] But it was what God wanted to do.
Bob: This is FamilyLife Today for Tuesday, February 2nd. Our host is the President of FamilyLife®, Dennis Rainey, and I’m Bob Lepine. Whether it’s a step of faith or a big leap of faith that God is calling you to take, when you are trusting in what He has promised, then, it doesn’t matter how big the distance is.
We’ll talk about that today. Stay tuned.
And welcome to FamilyLife Today. Thanks for joining us. Now, I think there are folks, who tune into FamilyLife Today / hear us talking about the Bible being the foundation for what our lives, our marriages, our families, are supposed to be all about—and they understand that from a conceptual standpoint—but the day to day: “What does it mean for the Bible to be the foundation for your marriage and your family? How does that really look in a marriage and family?”—they’re not exactly sure. Maybe, you have prayer times / maybe, you read the Bible from time to time; but apart from that, they’re not sure what it means to have the Bible at the center.
Dennis: Well, there are a lot of ways to explain that.
One of them—I just read the other morning from John 15—Jesus said, “If you abide in Me and My words abide in you, you will bear fruit.”
Dennis: And the idea of abiding means that you draw your life’s force / your life’s source from Jesus—from who He is and from the Scripture. “If you abide in Me”—and the “Me” is Jesus—“and my words abide in you,”—if you draw your life, your very life substance, the foundation of how you live—from Him and the Scriptures—you will begin to live life as God designed it.
And we’ve got a good friend with us here on FamilyLife Today who has been a frequent guest. In fact, we ought to count it up sometime, Crawford—how many times you’ve been on our broadcast.
Bob: You’d be in the top ten.
Crawford: Is that right?
Bob: You’d be one of our top-ten guys.
Crawford: Well, you know—you keep inviting me back until I can get it right. [Laughter] That’s probably what it is.
Dennis: That voice is the voice of Crawford Loritts.
A bunch of our listeners recognize it from broadcasts that you’ve done on Moody Radio. Welcome back to FamilyLife Today.
Crawford: Good to be back, Dennis.
Dennis: Crawford and his wife Karen live in Northern Atlanta. They have four adult children and ten grandkids. He’s written a book called Unshaken: Real Faith in our Faithful God. Let’s just start—since we’re talking about faith here—start with a definition of faith, Crawford. Let’s just boil it down to the essence of what it is.
Crawford: Yes. You know, Dennis, I had a hard time when I put this book together. I assumed that the Bible defined faith; but you know, the Bible, nowhere, defines faith—it describes it.
Bob: Well, Hebrews 11:1—you’re saying is a description / not a—
Crawford: It’s a description of faith / not a definition of faith, but real faith is obvious. For example, I have a hard time—Karen and I have been married for 44 years now. If you asked me to define my love for Karen, I’d have a very difficult time, in terms of defining it; but I can describe it in such a way that it’s unmistakable.
So, it is in the Bible when it comes to faith.
The best definition I’ve come up with—and I’ve built the book on—is two words—God confidence / God confidence. That’s the reason why I kind of think the Bible doesn’t define it because it assumes that every follower of Christ is going to live out their lives in a vertical way—that we’re going to express confidence in God.
The way that truth becomes transformative is through faith. I mean, you can know Bible—you can know content / you can know all this stuff—the only way that’s going to become transformative in my life is when I act on that. So, faith is a verb, even when it’s a noun—it is something that you must do.
That’s the reason why God orchestrates the test trials, and gaps in our lives, and all these things so that we might see Him, in all of His glory, step into our reality and make truth real in our hearts and lives.
Bob: I’m thinking about how we use the word in marriage when we talk about a faithful partner. We talk about a husband or a wife being faithful. We are saying that person has made promises to us, and we trust that that person will keep the promises he or she has made.
Crawford: Yes; yes.
Bob: And when they do, we say, “They are a faithful person.” We have faith in them to keep their promises. That’s what you’re talking about with God; right?
Crawford: Absolutely. There—you are so good, Bob. [Laughter] That is a great picture.
Bob: That will preach?
Crawford: Yes, it will preach because what it does—it presupposes that I will discipline myself to live out what I said at that altar—
Crawford: —and I will do it. So, it is with God. We open God’s Word—we read it / we study it—and God says: “Okay. Okay; are you going to be full of faith now to discipline yourself to do what you just read?”
Bob: I want you to explain for listeners the difference between presumption and faith because you tell a story about somebody who wanted to go visit a relative or something?
Bob: Tell that story.
Crawford: This story is so bizarre. You know, sometimes, truth is stranger than fiction. This actually happened a number of years ago. This couple was having a struggle—a real struggle—with finances. The woman stopped coming to me; and the guy came to me and said: “Listen—listen, I’ve got to tell you this story. My wife really believes this brand of faith that says that all I have to do is just claim anything from God, and God is obligated to do it for me.” He said, “We’re having some trouble with our finances.”
I sort of thought to myself: “Well, maybe, she didn’t want God to deal with the finances.
“If she had all that much faith, she could have claimed it and you wouldn’t have any problems,”—but that’s another issue. [Laughter] So, here—you see how silly this stuff gets.
Bob: Right; exactly.
Crawford: It really gets silly. She goes off to the airport—true story—takes the kids to the airport—didn’t have money for plane tickets. She told her husband, “When I get to the airport, and I get to the ticket counter, God’s going to have my tickets there.” She sits down; and she claims, by faith, with her kids in tow: “Lord Jesus, give me my tickets. By faith, I declare it. It’s going to be there.” She did this about three or four times. Each time, she’d go back to the ticket counter. There were no tickets there. Finally, she called her husband and brought her home.
Now, that’s not faith. That’s really not faith—that is not faith at all. God is not obligated to fulfill our wish list. We don’t use God to translate our dreams to reality. No—no. God’s only obligated to do what He promised to do and to come through.
We exercise faith in light of the circumstances and the situations that He places us in.
I’d like to say this, too, to our listeners—is that I think guys, like me, who preach and teach an awful lot, have done a disservice. We have only preached one dimension of faith—delivering faith—but faith has three dimensions to it.
You know, God can take us from situations, and He does that. That’s what we want to camp on—you know: “Take this sickness from me,” “Bring this prodigal child home for me,” “Make sure my husband does this,” “Give us more money,” “Give us…” Sometimes, He does that.
Crawford: But He also, sometimes, delivers us in a situation, where He says, “No. No.” This is a 2 Corinthians 12 thing: “My grace is sufficient for you. I’m going to show you that I can sustain you during dark, hard times; and during your journey, you’ll never experience the external deliverance—
Crawford: —“but you’ll know profound joy and peace.”
And then, there is a third piece that He’ll deliver us through it—meaning that He controls the clock and the calendar; and eventually, He’s going to take us through this thing, but there are some lessons that you need to learn in this. And by the way, this also—all three of those things require amazing faith.
Crawford: You’ve got to trust Him, but faith is not telling God to do what we want Him to do. Faith is saying to God: “I believe You no matter what! So, give me what You want me to have in light of where I am.”
Bob: This presupposes for us—if we are going to have faith in the promises of God / in what He’s promised to do—
Bob: —we have to have a pretty clear picture of what He’s promised to do. We have to get to know Him—understand His promises / not misinterpret Scripture—
Crawford: Yes; yes.
Bob: —to get us there; but really dig in and say, “What exactly is it that God has said He’ll do?”
Crawford: That’s right. And I want to say something that is obvious—what you just said. Remember the distinction between promises of God and my desires—
Crawford: —they are two different things.
Crawford: Now, it is true—there is this gap. God will place in our hearts desires that are not necessarily clearly stated in His Word—there are desires. This ministry exists, for example, because there was a desire—there was a burden, there was a dream, there was a vision on your heart—God gives that to people.
But even in that, I think there are ways of checking that to make sure it’s not presumption—the consistency of prayer, the advice of godly counsel, the fact that it doesn’t conflict with the Word of God, how consistent this visits me, circumstances that indicated that, and the Spirit of God can lead us in that direction. When those things are lined up, we release faith to believe Him to translate that dream into reality.
Bob: We are talking to Crawford Loritts, who has written a book on faith called Unshaken: Real Faith in Our Faithful God.
This understanding of what it means to trust God is a critical part of how we do marriage and family; right?
Dennis: It really is. It’s how a husband and a wife make a major decision or even smaller decisions. You have to be God-dependent and take it before Him and pray about it, as a couple.
As I was reading your book, I thought: “You know what? You have written a book about how you have lived your life.” I happen to be privy to some of the decisions you’ve made by faith along the way. And I’m going to give the Reader’s Digest version of this story, but I want you to take us to kind of the root of it after I share what you did.
I thought about you, Crawford—and you and I work together in what was, then, Campus Crusade for Christ,® which is now Cru®. You came to a fork in the road, where you and Karen felt like God was calling you two away from something you had done for nearly your entire adult life to go to work in a church and become a pastor and preach every week.
I reflected on that and I thought, “That must have been a massive step of faith for you two, as a couple.”
There have to be listeners, who—as husband and wife / maybe as parents—who are facing things, right now, where they need an illustration of how you trusted God / how you confirmed what He wanted you to do.
Crawford: Wow, Dennis, thanks. I didn’t know you were going to ask me that. [Laughter] That’s good. You know, I want to give a principle here: “We follow Christ and not our careers. We follow Christ and not our assumptions about our lives, and we follow Christ and not the presumption of comfort.”
This is a journey down here, and God has assignments for us. My changing is not so much a heroic thing; but I had been on staff, at that time, 26/27 years before we made that change.
What happened in my heart and life was—I didn’t leave Cru because there was something negative, or I was running from something or whatever, or anything bad. It was just a constant, deepening desire to preach and teach the Word of God in such a way that I saw lives changed. It was about a timing piece to be a better steward of the teaching and preaching gift that God had given to me that I needed to leverage in a better way.
As I prayed about that, and sought the Lord about that, and sought counsel over that, and interacted with friends—the only thing worse than not taking God’s opportunity is just waiting too late, my friend—and I didn’t want to do that. God was making it clear that now is the time to respond. So, we did. I mean, it was a major change in terms of an outward career thing; but it was what the Lord wanted.
Dennis: Was there any fear? I mean, did you and Karen have a lot of fear stepping out into this unknown entity—a church in Northern Atlanta?
Crawford: Yes, there was a lot of fear. I did things in an idiotic way, from a human perspective—I was 55 years old before I became a senior pastor. Usually, people do it the other way around—they leave churches and go to other places. So, there was—sure there was a lot of fear involved. I might just add this element because, you know, I am an African American; and our church is predominately white in the South. Yet, I felt God calling us there—that was part of what needed to be done.
The whole point—and Dennis, you and I—we’ve grown up in Campus Crusade and our ministry. We used to hear the legendary Bill Bright say this statement: “You don’t have to be successful, but you do have to be obedient.” And when God is making clear what He wants you to do, don’t procrastinate that thing.
Crawford: You know? If you fear God more than you fear the change, you will always come out courageous. So, it’s not a matter of being fearful—it’s a matter of whom you fear and what you fear.
Dennis: You know, here is what some of our listeners know—because they’ve either visited your church or listened online—but most of our listeners do not know that Crawford has become one of the premier spokesmen for Jesus Christ in preaching the Scriptures in America. And Bob, you listen to his sermons frequently—I do too.
I just—I kind of sat back, look at this book; and I thought, “You know, Crawford took a step of faith that most people will not understand fully”; but at 55 years of age, God blessed him / led him. It doesn’t mean, if you take a step of faith, you’re going to become the best—that’s not the point—but it does mean you may end up exercising your gifts and be a steward of your life for the glory of God and for His purposes in fresh ways.
Bob: Well, I was talking to a young man, this week, who is making a career change. He’s kind of weighed out the pros and the cons of this change. He’s looked at different options in front of Him. He and his wife have spent time getting wise counsel. They’ve spent time on their knees / they spent time in the Word. They really feel like the choice in front of them is the one that God is directing them toward. So, they are making that step. As he and I talked, there is no certainty that what he is stepping out to is going to be successful, in human terms.
It could have gone badly for you at your church in Atlanta. Sometimes, though, God takes us into—
Bob: —hard situations. We’re following Him; and two years later, we go, “This is a mess!” We think, “I must have missed God,”—maybe not / maybe, God wanted you to be in a mess because He’s got lessons for you to learn in the mess that you wouldn’t learn any other way.
Dennis: Yes, in fact, in your book, Crawford—and this is one of the things—Bob, you have actually taken us—this is one of the things I wanted to talk about. You make the statement: “Uncertainty is a gift from God.”
Crawford: That’s right.
Dennis: That’s what Bob just said.
Dennis: Speak to that in a person’s life.
Crawford: God has not called us to make decisions because we are going to be successful. God has called us to make decisions because there is something He wants to do in and through us in history. Often, the decisions that we make will end up in suffering / sometimes, we’ll be in obscurity—that’s not the issue. The issue always is obedience and not managing my future. That’s the reason why uncertainty is a gift. It is a gift because God has prerogative concerning what He wants to do.
The last paragraph of Hebrews, Chapter 11—you know, it talks about, prior to that time, all these great men and women of God that experienced the healing, and deliverance, and all this stuff—
—and you can hear the shouting going on. Then, it says, “And others”—no-named people—“who were sawn in two, and they lived in caves...” Are these losers? Are these unsuccessful people? Then, the writer adds, “…men of whom the world was not worthy.”
Crawford: God knows and God sees, and He’s going to honor you for your faithfulness.
Bob: Hebrews 11 says we may not know their names—Jesus knows their names; right?
Crawford: That’s right.
Dennis: Yes; no doubt about it. I’m just thinking of a listener right now: “How do you apply this to your life?” I’ve got a couple of questions for you: “What are you basing your life on? What’s the philosophy? Is it from the Bible, or is it from the world?” Secondly, “Who are you building your life on? Is it around you? Are you the center of your universe?” I’m telling you that there is One greater than you—He makes a whole lot better God to worship than you—it’s Jesus Christ.
And the final question is: “Who do you trust in the middle of a crisis?” So, if you’re going to trust Him in a crisis, why would you wait until everything is coming unglued? Why wouldn’t you want to get on with life with the One who designed it?—the Lord God Almighty.
And maybe, there is somebody listening right now, Crawford, who doesn’t have a relationship with Christ and is listening to us, going: “I’ve nibbled at the edges of church. I’ve been around religion, but I don’t know Jesus Christ like those guys are talking about.” What would you say to him or her, right now, Crawford?
Crawford: I would tell you that this is the greatest step that you could take. It’s just to turn from your sin and say: “Lord, Jesus, I am who I am right now; and I turn from my sin. I acknowledge to You that I need You, and I trust You to come into my heart and life, and forgive me and cleanse me of all my sin.” The Bible says, “To as many as received Him, to him He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name [John 1:12].”
That’s all you have to do.
You say, “It sounds so simple.” Well, yes, He’s made the way clear. Jesus was nailed to the cross and took our sin upon Him. Every thought, every misdeed, every mistake, every wicked thing we have ever done has been nailed to the cross. He just says: “Come.” You can’t buy it. You can’t manipulate it. You can’t promise to do good. Just surrender to Jesus, right now, and say: “Lord, I turn to You. I trust You. I receive You.” And you are now a son or a daughter of God.
Dennis: And the Spirit of God comes to live in your life. What happens to you at that point is—you’re born again.
Crawford: That’s right.
Dennis: It’s a new birth. It is a transformation of a different kind. Now, you can get on with living life according to the Bible and abiding in Christ—drawing your life from Him, getting in the Bible, making your decisions with God’s Word being the source—
Dennis: —guiding you all the way. That’s when you can know you’re living life as God designed it.
Bob: It is a step of faith—
Bob: —to step and say: “My confidence will no longer be in me and my abilities, my skills, my goodness. My confidence is now in Jesus, and His goodness, and His ability.” Now, you have to learn how to live that out every day to continually place your confidence in His ability.
Dennis: Yes, it’s not—“once and done.”
Dennis: You’ve got to learn how to walk by faith, moving forward.
Bob: That’s why it’s called a step of faith because you take one step—
Bob: —and then, it’s followed by another step and another step. It’s something that we learn to do over and over again. This is what you outline for us / this is what you help us with, Crawford, in the book that you’ve written called Unshaken: Real Faith in Our Faithful God.
Let me just, again, remind our listeners—we’ve got the book in our FamilyLife Today Resource Center. If you’d like your own copy, go to FamilyLifeToday.com—
—you can order online—or call 1-800-358-6329. That’s 1-800-“F” as in family, “L” as in life, and then the word, “TODAY.” The book, again, is called Unshaken by Dr. Crawford Loritts; and our website is FamilyLifeToday.com.
Now, today is a big day for our friends, Hilton and Felecia Gabourel. They live in La Palma, California, in the Los Angeles area. They have been married 25 years today. It’s their silver wedding anniversary today.
And you know, FamilyLife is celebrating 40 years of ministry in 2016; but honestly, it’s all the other anniversaries that are as important to us because, over the years, God has used the ministry of FamilyLife and this radio program, FamilyLife Today, to intersect with the lives of enough couples that there are more anniversaries being celebrated every year because of what FamilyLife Today is all about.
We’d like to acknowledge your anniversary this year. In fact, we’d love to give you some ideas on how this could be your best anniversary year ever, but we need to know your anniversary date. So, go to FamilyLifeToday.com and give us your name and your anniversary date. We’ll have some ideas for you on your anniversary celebration in 2016.
And if you are a regular listener to FamilyLife Today, could we ask you to join with us as a regular contributor to this ministry? We’ve got a group of friends we call Legacy Partners, who make a monthly donation in support of this ministry. During the month of February, we’d like to think, that in every state where FamilyLife Today is heard, we could add 20 new Legacy Partner families. Would you be one of those 20 in your state? Go to FamilyLifeToday.com and say, “I’d like to become a Legacy Partner”; or call 1-800-FL-TODAY and join the Legacy Partner team—
—become a regular supporter of what God is doing through this ministry. Again, you can sign on at FamilyLifeToday.com; or you can call 1-800-“F” as in family, “L” as in life, and then the word, “TODAY.”
Now, tomorrow, we’ll continue our conversation about what authentic faith looks like and what it looks like to walk by faith. Our guest, Crawford Loritts, will be here with us tomorrow. Hope you can be here as well.
I want to thank our engineer today, Keith Lynch, along with our entire broadcast production team. On behalf of our host, Dennis Rainey, I’m Bob Lepine. We will see you back tomorrow for another edition of FamilyLife Today.
FamilyLife Today is a production of FamilyLife of Little Rock, Arkansas.
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