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Blowing a Fuse Over “Faith”

Oh, the Irony!

Image of a woman shocked by an exposed cable Does your “fuse” get blown, too? Not a little modern teaching on faith seeks to “electrify,” but winds up being simply “shocking.” Let us point you to something that's far more “grounded”! 1

Irony is something I’ve learned to savor, even if it is somewhat bittersweet at times. Consider this unexpected reaction from a reader…

Twice a week on our ministry’s Facebook page, we share a link to “things old and new” on our website. Usually on Thursdays we share a hymn or devotional poem; on Mondays we share a link to a Bible-teaching article (or, once a month, our current newsletter). The response has been encouraging and the “Likes” for the page have grown. (By the way, have you “liked” our page on Facebook yet?) So far, so good, but…

For the last five weeks or so, we’ve been sharing chapters from Percy Gutteridge’s classic, foundation-laying book Faith Is Substance. Most folks who’ve taken the time to read it have found it liberating and enlightening. But one commenter really “gave us an earful,” lumping us together with “freaks” who are pushing semi-biblical doctrines, selling trinkets, prayer rugs, Middle East trips, and I-don’t-know-what. He had “blown a fuse” over the often over-hyped subject of “faith.”

I calmly replied that our goal wasn’t to sell anything, that the links point to freely available chapters from Faith Is Substance on our website. We even make the chapters easy to download as PDFs for saving and printing later. Cost: $0.00. How ironic! Had this fellow just followed the link through, he might have realized this. But I felt his frustration; the modern superficiality, hype, and hyperbole on the subject weary me, too.

Even More Ironic

Image of the cover of 'Faith Is Substance'Faith Is Substance is one of the few books
that I have re-read many times
in my 51 years as a Christian. 2

But you know what’s really ironic — and sad? Faith Is Substance, which first came out in 1975, addresses some of the very issues which set our visitor off! In addition, Pastor Gutteridge’s book tackles subjects that other books and teaching rarely address. Think about these penetrating questions:

  • Do you know the difference between natural, human faith, and divine, God-given faith? In which type are you functioning?
  • Why is it that “speaking a word in faith” or “praying in faith” or claiming a Bible promise doesn’t always produce the hoped-for results?
  • Are you praying “in Jesus’ name”? Don’t answer too quickly, because that phrase implies far more than you might think!
  • What is the great necessity for faith to work? (Hint: It’s not “more effort” or “more faith.”)
  • How does God perfect the man or woman of faith?

A graphic icon representing a link to the first chapter in the free online series for 'Faith Is Substance.'Yes, this and the other nine chapters
of Faith Is Substance

are available gratis on the website.
Just click on the image above.3

It’s because this teaching is so helpful, so vital, so balanced, and so corrective that we’ve published a third edition of Faith Is Substance. Yes, it’s still available gratis on the website. (You can start reading it at this address: https://FinestOfTheWheat.org/FIS01, which takes you to chapter 1, “The Author and Foundation of Faith.” Or just click on the Chapter One image over on the right.) But some people prefer to have access to a convenient, digital copy on their Kindle reader. Others enjoy having a paperback in hand, the better to underline, highlight, read with their Bibles open, and jot down notes; so the book formats, while not free, offer the teaching to a wider audience for modest prices.

Purposeful Publishing

Image of Jim with young leaders in PerúHaving fun while making an important point
in Lima, Perú!4

How modest? At $4.99 for the ebook version and $10.95 for the 212-page paperback, our non-profit isn’t expecting a “windfall” — especially since we’re “competing” with our own “free online” version! For full disclosure, we see $3.45 for each copy of the ebook and $2.98 on each paperback, with only $4.33 if both are purchased together. (Oh, and with the new edition, we were able to lower the paperback retail price by two dollars.) But with net proceeds designated for our missions teaching trips, every little bit helps…

…which is important as the teaching requests continue to queue up. Consider what’s in the works already:

  • The May-June joint teaching trip to Guatemala and Perú will exceed $3,000, including airfare (both international and within Perú) and one or two cities where we’ll have to spend a few nights in modest hotels. That’s a bargain, considering we’ll be gone for a month and factoring in the number of leaders trained!
  • The start date for my annual Honduras visit just got settled yesterday: August 20th. The duration of the teaching visit is unclear, but around two weeks is a good estimate.
  • And just as I was going over this newsletter with Denise a few minutes ago, a surprise arrived in my inbox: Dear friend Atilio Chávez wants to know if it’s okay for him to recommend me to the brethren in CUBA when he and his Guatemalan team of CURSUM teachers visit that island nation this October. Ministry in Cuba has been on my heart now for 28 years! What a blessing it will be if the Lord finally opens that door!

Map of Cuba courtesy of Operation WorldDid somebody say, “Cuba”? Keep praying!5

A Final Irony? Nope!

Image of an illuminated globe overlaid with Jesus' words 'Go and make disciples of all nations'.This is our job — all of us!6

Is it ironic that as we announce the availability of the ebook and paperback versions of Faith Is Substance we’re asking for donations to help with these trips? I can almost hear somebody saying, “How come you’re not ‘living by faith’?”

No, it’s not ironic. It’s a humble, practical acknowledgement that all ministry — especially missions and discipling / training leaders — is Body ministry. I can’t do it alone; neither can our small Fellowship. The Great Commission was given to all of us. The Greek makes it clear that Jesus’ command was plural, that is, “All of you go!” It’s such a challenging task that it requires our collective faith and cooperation to walk in obedience to Jesus’ imperative. If it were just up to me and human faith, my one-amp “fuse” would have been “blown” long ago!

Photo of Eric Ortíz López and Jim KerwinThis is Eric, a dynamic young Christian. He’s one of those “treasures” in Guatemala that cause my heart to be there, too.7

A little investment of financial resources and time from those of us in “Have” nations into the dynamic work of the Holy Spirit in these “Have-Not” nations goes a long way. I was speaking with a missionary last month who said to me of his assignment, “We would not go if we weren’t certain that there’s a team covering us in prayer.” I know that we have a faith-full prayer team; and I also know that, on the basis of the principle “where your treasure is, there will your heart be also,” that those who contribute are apt to pray even more, because their heart follows their “treasure,” that is, their investment in the training of these Latin American leaders.

May your faith (and ours!) “grow exceedingly” (2 Thessalonians 1:3) as we lovingly sacrifice for the sake of the Lord and His “Go Ye” mandate!

Jim

P.S.: Please think of the two “donation” icons below as “Send” buttons!

Tax-Deductible Donations Gratefully Received

 


Endnotes:

  1. Image of shocked woman is copyright by and used under license from https://www.123rf.com/profile_alphaspirit..
  2. The cover of ‘Faith Is Substance' was created by artist Murry Whiteman. Visit his home page at www.mwart.net, and look particularly for his beautifully illustrated book of the life of Jesus: A Man Like No Other.
  3. The Chapter-One banner was created by Jim Kerwin, based on a photo by Benjamin Voros on Unsplash.com.
  4. Photo of Jim with three young Peruvian leaders is by Denise Kerwin.
  5. Map of Cuba courtesy of Operation World.
  6. The Matthew 28:19 banner was created by Jim Kerwin using as a background a free photo from by William Navarro on Unsplash.com.
  7. Photo of Photo of Eric Ortíz López and Jim Kerwin by Denise Kerwin.
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