About the Guest
What is faith? Pastor Crawford Loritts reminds us that real faith isn't just optimism, but confidence in a holy God. As our vision of His greatness and glory expands, so does our confidence in Him. God has given us a record of how He has worked in the past. Now all we have to do is trust Him with our future.
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
Pastor Crawford Loritts reminds us that real faith isn’t just optimism, but confidence in a holy God.
Bob: What does it mean for a follower of Jesus to walk by faith? Crawford Loritts says it involves living a surrendered life.
Crawford: I go through this all the time—I meet people at our church who are frustrated. They go to all the Bible studies, they come to all the services, they’re in small groups, they’re going to precept classes and all these wonderful things that they are doing, and there is no change. I’ve learned to ask them the question: “Have surrendered your will to God? Have you surrendered to God? You’re doing the right stuff, but are you trusting Him?”
Bob: This is FamilyLife Today for Monday, February 1st. Our host is the President of FamilyLife®, Dennis Rainey, and I’m Bob Lepine. The foundation for a strong, healthy marriage and family is a foundation of faith and surrender. We’ll talk about that today. Stay tuned.
And welcome to FamilyLife Today. Thanks for joining us. I was having a conversation last week with our guest today, and he said, “I’m going to be up there soon to be on FamilyLife Today.” He said, “I know my book is not really kind of on the fat part of the bat for FamilyLife Today.” And I thought—
Dennis: Oh, I disagree.
Bob: —“This is pretty foundational to every healthy family”; don’t you think?
Dennis: I really do. In fact, I just want our listeners to know something—there are broadcasts that we do that I signal, in advance, something significant for you, as a follower of Jesus Christ, that you need to pay attention to.
This subject today on faith—and how you apply your faith, how you live by faith, how you walk by faith—is of the utmost importance.
Let me read to you two verses from Hebrews, Chapter 11—and I want to read you two quotes that I have written in my Bible. Hebrews 11:1: “Now, faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” You could argue that that’s a pretty good definition of faith. It’s the conviction of things not seen—something hoped for / your heart’s longing. It’s a place where you put your trust.
Then, verse 6 was also formative in my own Christian life. Verse 6 makes a startling statement. I want you to listen to the profound black-and-white statement that is made by the writer of Hebrews: “And without faith it is impossible to please God, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who seek Him.”
Just think about that for a moment. If you want to please God, you have to live by faith. There is no other way than to live by faith.
And we have a guest with us who has, not only written a book, but who has lived the life—I’ve watched a good bit of it. He’s a good friend of mine; hopefully, I am of his as well. Crawford Loritts has written a book called Unshaken: Real Faith in Our Faithful God. I want to tell you, again, as a listener, you are going to benefit from listening to Crawford on this broadcast today. Crawford—welcome back to FamilyLife Today.
Crawford: Well, good to be back; and we are, indeed, great friends. [Laughter]
Dennis: We are—we are indeed. Crawford and his wife Karen live in the Atlanta area. They give leadership to Fellowship Bible Church in Roswell, Georgia.
He and his wife Karen have four adult children and ten—count them—ten grandchildren. Any announcements here for—
Crawford: None—not that I know of.
Dennis: Okay; okay.
Crawford: I’m hoping everything is shut down, but I’m not sure. [Laughter]
Dennis: You kind of give us a basic definition of faith. You call it “God confidence.” I really like that.
Crawford: Yes; because I think faith has been hijacked in recent years. We’ve confused faith with positive thinking, with optimism, with all these other things. We have self-talk and this kind of thing; but in the Bible, faith does not depend upon my own personal competencies or resources. It is outside of me—it is attached to my vision of God. So, if I have a clear vision of God and a picture of His greatness, then, it dictates to me the level of my confidence.
Dennis: When you say the words, “vision of God,” you’re not talking about seeing some kind of mystical appearance of God at that point. You’re talking about God as He has revealed Himself in the Bible.
Crawford: Yes; absolutely—and that’s a good catch right there—I don’t mean in a mystical sense—but I do mean that our picture of God is given to us by His revelation in these 66 books of the Bible. The more we know about God and apply the truths that we learn about God to our daily lives, it makes clearer to us in all facets of what our great God looks like or begins to look like more clearly in our own hearts and minds. That lays a foundation for our faith.
Dennis: So, if we know the truth about God as we face life—whether it be a choice, a fork in the road, whether it be a test, a challenge, a crisis—our knowledge of who God is can move us to the premise of this book—
Dennis: —which is—God confidence / trusting in Him.
Crawford: That’s right—He’s unfailing. That’s the reason why He has given us a record in the Word of God and throughout history—of how He has worked, what He has done, how He has intervened in the human predicament—not to celebrate my own ability to come up with things for Him to do but to point to what He has done and what He can do. I align with who He is—as a person / His character—and that becomes my confidence.
Dennis: The value—and just to kind of restate what Crawford said in a different way—the hope of your faith is based upon its object.
Crawford: Absolutely—and not the other way around—not the other way around. We hear people all the day talking about their positive professions, or their declarations, or their aspirations. Well, faith, in the Bible, is not coming up with things for God to do—it’s the opposite.
God allows us to be in situations so that we experience what He can do.
Dennis: And we experience Him—
Crawford: And we experience Him—absolutely.
Dennis: —as we trust Him, and you lean into Him, and say, “God, I’m facing this challenge with a teenager,”—
Dennis: —or “I’ve got this difficulty with my spouse. Would You give me wisdom? Would You show me how to love my wife / show me how to respect my husband?” “Show me how to guide my teenager through these turbulent days that he or she is living in.” God shows up there; doesn’t He, Crawford?
Crawford: He does. And even the way you described that—it’s wonderful, Dennis, because you’re praying—and you are not worrying on your knees, and you’re not doing some self-talk, and you’re not kind of like venting. You’re talking to the One who can and will do something about that situation—that’s faith.
Bob: And in that sense, just the very act of praying is a step of faith because the fact that you’d go to God and say, “I need help,”—you wouldn’t go to somebody who you didn’t think couldn’t offer you the help.
You are stating, “God is a source of help, and I’m coming to You because I believe You can help me.”
Crawford: Absolutely—absolutely, Bob. And that’s the reason we’ve got to stop making faith so mystical and so mythical; you know.
Prayer, itself, is an expression—my definition of prayer is: An expression of my life-dependence upon God. That’s the reason why I pray. I don’t pray to make myself feel better. I don’t pray to vent. I don’t pray like I’m doing some yoga class with Bible verses. I don’t do that. I pray because I’m expressing to God: “There is a gap here. I need You to feel this gap, and I depend on You in all things.” So, it’s not worrying on my knees / it’s not venting. It’s seeking the Ancient of Days to do what He has promised to do.
Dennis: And it’s not informing God—
Dennis: —about what’s happening because He already knows what’s going on in the first place. It’s the expression of prayer that says, “I’m helpless.”
Dennis: “I don’t know what to do.”
Dennis: “Would You help me, God?”
Years ago, Bob—here on FamilyLife Today, we talked about the prayer of helpless parent.
Dennis: I think that God loves the prayer of a helpless parent. When you are facing a circumstance with a child, where you are hamstrung—you do not know what you ought to do, what all the issues are, you can’t get your arms around it—yet, you cry out to God and say, “God, help!”
Crawford: Yes; exactly; exactly. And it’s in that cry that you are expressing faith. But you know, we can back up a little bit and just—you know, the Bible says that we walk by faith and not by sight. Now, consider the word, “walk,”—it’s a general term. Everything that we do in life is an expression of our confidence in God—everything. Faith is to be expressed in how I make my decisions, how I respond to people, how I step into the gaps, what I do when I find out that my teenaged daughter is pregnant or my 16-year-old son is smoking dope and snorting cocaine:
“What do I do?” Well, in everything—there is not a moment in our life when it’s ever okay not to depend on God—and that’s faith.
Dennis: First Thessalonians 5—doesn’t it say, “Give thanks in everything”—
Dennis: —“and pray about everything”?
Dennis: We bring those circumstances we’re facing before God. What you are talking about, as you talk about walking by faith and not by sight, is being God-dependent.
Crawford: Absolutely. And here is a challenge for us—with all of our Christian resources, we can use things as a surrogate for faith / as a replacement for faith.
You know we are committed to FamilyLife—I’m on the Board here, and I know your heart too. But people can go to our conferences, they can order our resources, they can go through that and make the dastardly assumption that—just because they sat in a ballroom, or they looked at a resource, or they walked through something—
—that that, in and of itself, is going to transform them. No, the transformation comes when you take a step of faith to believe God to apply those truths to my heart and life. That’s when the change comes. And so, I’m applying that whole concept—we walk by faith and not by sight.
I want to give a listener a hope here today—that none of us are smart enough to bring transformation to our own lives, none of us are bright enough, and none of us will ever have the competencies that we need to bring substantive change to our lives. That’s the work of God. That’s the reason why we have to reach out in faith and take those steps of faith and obedience to what He said to apply His truths to our situations.
Bob: So, let’s just try to unpack this a little bit because you brought up the Weekend to Remember® getaway. Somebody comes to the Weekend to Remember, and one of the things they are going to hear about is effective communication.
Bob: We’re going to tell them that good listening is a part of effective communication, and there are some things you can do in your marriage to be a better listener—you can listen with your face, you can have focused attention, you can listen with a desire of wanting to understand what the other person is saying—not becoming defensive. We’re going to talk about some very practical things that will enhance your listening skills.
What I hear you saying is: “If you walk away with those techniques and you say, ‘Those techniques will make a difference in my marriage,’’ you’re saying, “They might make a momentary difference if you try to apply them in your own power / in your own strength.” But you’re saying, “Those techniques need to be applied in concert with the belief”—
Bob: —“that God can do a work in your marriage.”
Crawford: Yes; yes. It’s like a baseball player. You can go to the plate and put a bat and a ball down in front of the plate and say: “You know what? This is what this game is all about, and this is how you use this. This is what it’s going to do,”—
—but until I pick it up and use it—and I don’t mean in my own strength—this is where my illustration breaks down.
If I get this information, and God has brought me here, and I say: “Thank you, Lord, that I’ve learned how to be a listener, and I’ve learned how to forgive, and I’ve learned how to use these things. Will You, by Your Spirit, help me to use them appropriately in the right way?”—that’s when the change takes place.
Bob: We can give you the technique. You try to apply that technique in your own power—you will have momentary success with it—
Crawford: That’s right.
Bob: —for a period time, but you don’t have it in you to apply biblical truth in your life in your own power for a lifetime. You’ve got to have God energizing you and working through you.
Crawford: Absolutely. Let’s take it out of the realm of that. I’m a pastor, and I go through this all the time. I meet people at our church that are frustrated. They go to all the Bible studies, they come to all the services, they’re in small groups, they are going to precept classes, and all these wonderful things that they are doing—
—and there is no change. I’ve learned to ask them the question: “Have you surrendered your will to God? Have you surrendered it to God? You are doing the right stuff, but are you trusting Him?—are you trusting Him?”
You can do all the right stuff and be as frustrated as the day is long—and that’s really the definition of legalism. You can part it out, you can step it out, you can chart it out, you can communicate it, and you can talk about it—but until you say: “Oh, God, You are my source. You are my strength. You’ve given me right answers. Now, I believe You. By faith, I’m going to trust You; and You’re going to use me to see these things transform my life.”
Bob: And I think it’s important that ultimately folks understand that, when we say we believe God, then, what ought to be the result of that is that our lives should be lived out as if that’s true—
—that we really do believe God.
Bob: Not just that we say, “I think that’s true, but I’m still going to live like it’s not.”
Crawford: Yes. And that’s a wonderful catch there because belief and faith in the Bible are never separated from surrender and yieldedness. So, in that sense, it’s not an intellectual assent, where I can compartmentalize my life and say: “Hey, yes, I believe that. I believe that.” No, it’s a commitment of me to that which I believe—if I say that I believe that God CAN and He WILL do this, then, I act accordingly.
Bob: I hope our listeners will get a copy of your book. It’s called Unshaken, and it’s all about what we’re talking about here. It’s all about faith and how important faith is. Let me just mention that we have it in our FamilyLife Today Resource Center. If a listener would like to get a copy, it is really easy. Go to FamilyLifeToday.com and order a copy of the book, Unshaken, by Crawford Loritts.
Again, the website is FamilyLifeToday.com; or call 1-800-“F” as in family, “L” as in life, and then, the word, “TODAY.”
Dennis: Earlier in the broadcast, I said I was going to read two verses and give two quotes. I didn’t give the two quotes. One of the quotes is appropriate right here. It’s by Martin Luther—he said: “Faith is the ‘Yes,’ of the heart. It is the conviction upon which one lives his life.” That’s the picture of surrender.
Dennis: Now, Crawford, for you, I just want to know—was there a point in time where the surrender occurred and the real life started for Crawford Loritts? I mean, you’ve spoken around the world to tens of thousands of people in—who knows how many dozens of countries—preach every Sunday at Fellowship Bible Church in Roswell, Georgia. You’ve been on the radio. You’re written books. But your life of faith started, I think, at some point in time where you decided to go all-in.
Crawford: That’s right. It’s a journey of faith that was initiated by the expression of faith when I was 13-and-a-half years old. I said, “Yes,” to Jesus. I turned from my sin, and I turned to Jesus as the only source of my deliverance from sin. Boy, it was a wonderful, wonderful time. But it’s a journey of faith, too, because God continues to bring us to gaps. You know, I started to title the book—in fact—Fill in the Gaps because that’s the nature of the Christian life.
And by the way—by the way, in Ephesians, Chapter 6, there are some things you have on, in terms of the armor; but it’s interesting that he says, “And take the shield of faith.” Faith is a choice. It is a decision that I choose not to be self-reliant, but I choose to rely upon God.
There is this journey of faith that we’re all on. If you are an authentic follower of Jesus Christ—it’s not whether or not you’re going to express faith—
—it’s just when because He’s going to make sure that your faith is rich, and it’s deep, and that you have to respond to Him if you’re going to go anywhere further down the road in terms of your walk and relationship with Him.
Dennis: In other words, once you begin that walk of faith through surrender, you’re going to come to a fork in the road repeatedly in your life where fresh surrender in probably some new areas of your life have to get surrendered to Christ as well.
Crawford: That’s right because faith is God’s gift to us to reveal to us how much further we have to go. I mean, there’s a lot of stuff in our hearts and lives that constantly is unearthed. We get on guys like Abraham, but Abraham had to learn faith in his life. It was a journey of faith in his life. He hedged his bets / he started out okay—then, there were dilemmas; and he didn’t do so well.
When God said, “I’m going to give you a baby.” He said: “Look, the plumbing doesn’t work anymore at this age. Look at Sarah here. This is not happening here.” And God said, “Are you going to believe Me?” Sarah laughed; and God said, “What are you laughing at?” So, He deepens his faith. That happens.
Then, He said in Genesis 22: “Okay, kill your son. Kill the promise.” And there is another test of faith; but at this time, Abraham got it. If you look through the verbs in Genesis, Chapter 22, Abraham does not repackage what God said. He doesn’t reduce it. But it said, “He gets up early in the morning, he saddles the donkey, he takes his son, and he goes toward that place. He says, ‘God is going to deliver him,’ but I’m going to keep obeying.” He learned: “Don’t try to do what God is going to do. Your job is to obey Him, even in the dark places.” Then he saw another deliverance.
All that to say—faith is a journey—we will have those moments in which we have to come to grips with our doubts and our fears, but it’s orchestrated by God.
Dennis: The other quote that I had I wanted to share with our listeners—they’ve heard me share this one before. It’s one for our single listeners right now—or maybe, the parents of an adult child, who is single, and maybe, in his 20’s or her 20’s / 30’s and not married and kind of wondering, “What’s God got for me here?”
Martyn Lloyd-Jones was a great English preacher. He made a very simple statement about faith—he said, “Faith is the refusal to panic.” Faith is the refusal to panic. So, if you’re a single person and you don’t like your state—I’m not talking about Georgia or California, here—I’m talking about where He has you—
—by the way, you don’t have to be single to not like where He has you—but you don’t like your circumstances. Faith says: “I refuse to panic. I will do what Crawford talks about in the book—I’m going to have God confidence,”—which is the essence of faith.
I just want to go back, again, and read Hebrews, Chapter 11, verse 6: “And without faith, it is impossible to please Him. For whoever would draw near to God must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who seek Him.” Faith expects God to show up. Now, He may not do it in the way you want—I can promise you that.
Dennis: God doesn’t show up in a box like we put Him.
Dennis: But He will show up, but you have to trust Him. The question is, “Will you have a God confidence about your life?”
Bob: I think one of the things that this conversation has made clear is that there is a lot of confusion among a lot of people about what faith is and “How hard do I have to believe?” and “What is it exactly I’m supposed to do to demonstrate faith?”
Your book really gives clarity to what can sometimes be a confusing subject.
And we’ve got copies of the book, Unshaken: Real Faith in Our Faithful God in our FamilyLife Today Resource Center. Listeners can go to FamilyLifeToday.com to order a copy of the book. Again, the website is FamilyLifeToday.com; or you can call 1-800-FL-TODAY and order over the phone—1-800-358-6329. That’s 1-800-“F” as in family, “L” as in life, and then the word, “TODAY.” Ask about the book, Unshaken, by Crawford Loritts when you get in touch with us; and we’ll get a copy sent to you.
Now, as you know, 2016 is a special year for us—we are celebrating 40 years as a ministry.
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And be sure to join us back again tomorrow when we’re going to continue exploring what real faith looks like. Hope you can tune in for that.
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 next time for another edition of FamilyLife Today.
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