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The Substance of Faith.com hosts the reflections, insights, and study of Joel Snider, Pastor of First Baptist Church, Rome Georgia.
Are you searching for information on the “the substance of faith?” More searches for that phrase bring readers to this site than any other. If that’s why you came, here is a simple summary:
The phrase comes from the King James Version’s translation of Hebrews 11:1 – “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” J. B. Phillips translation clarifies the idea: “Now faith means putting our full confidence in the things we hope for…”
Clarence Jordan has a famous sermon using the phrase “the substance of faith.” . When Jordan’s sermons were gathered and published, the editor took the title from that particular sermon.
Clarence always made this point: faith is a verb, not a noun. In fact, the Greek New Testament contains both a noun and a verb but, the verb is more common than the noun.
So here is the idea: If you hope for something, you live for it, even if you can’t see the outcome. Living our convictions (faith in action – faith as a verb) makes our hope concrete. Hope is just an idea – it is simply a wish – until we give it genuine substance through our actions. Living for the convictions we cannot see is the substance of our faith. As Clarence Jordan said, “Now faith is the turning of dreams into deeds; it is betting your life on the unseen realities.”
I wrote my dissertation on the preaching of Clarence Jordan and his theology still has a major impact on what I believe. Thus, I took The Substance of Faith as the name for this website. I hope that you will find concrete expressions of faith in my posts. My goal is to apply real faith for the real lives we live.
The menu headings above are:
Bucket Books are the 50 books that have had a significant impact on my life. They include literature, fiction, business, theology and more. What books have been most influential in your life?
Other Reads are any other book I’ve been reading.
Observations are comments on life, culture, and faith.
Prayers – I’ve written some of these prayers. I’ve found the prayers written by others helpful.
Meditation Texts are printed in our order of worship every Sunday. They are printed to encourage engagement beyond the worship service.
Quotes – I’ve collected thousands over the years. Here is a place for some of the best ones to see the light of day.
Elsewhere contains anything I’ve found on the internet that I want to highlight.
Life is my place for travel, hobbies, or anything that doesn’t fit the rest of the categories.
To continue the conversation for any post, click on the title of the post and a comment section will appear.
Here are some of my favorites for the Stewardship Season. Be sure to check the Archives for more on Generosity and Gratitude.
Thanks to LCDR Hernandez and LCDR Hernandez for their service.
I inherited a tradition at First Baptist that recognized recently deceased church members each year on the Sunday of Memorial Day weekend. A couple of years ago Keith Reaves, our Minister of Worship, began to make the case that the Christian Year already had a Sunday designated for the observations: All Saints Sunday. We already observe, what I call, “a modified Christian year,” including Advent, Lent, Holy Week, and Pentecost. Adding All Saints Sunday would allow us another point of contact with Christians around the world who also honor sisters and brothers in Christ who have died.
As a life-long Baptist I had never participated in an All Saints worship service. I had a general awareness of the day, but knew I needed a more complete understanding if I was to lead in worship that day. Quickly I discovered the difference between All Saints and All Souls Days. All Saints honors those who have died in Christ. All Souls is more of a Roman Catholic emphasis and focuses on concern for those in purgatory, awaiting full status in heaven. All Saints Day is actually November 1, no matter what day of the week on which it may fall. Since many protestant and other mainstream churches like ours do not worship on weekdays, we followed the practice of using the first Sunday in November as “All Saints Sunday.”
From my role as worship leader, the most significant responsibility I felt was how to design a morning prayer which was pastoral in spirit and theologically sound. Across the years I’ve heard people pray aloud for and to deceased relatives. The easiest solution would simply be to correct people and remind them we pray to God and that without a purgatory in our theology, there is nothing we can intercede for on behalf of the dead. But…. such an approach is not very pastoral and does little to address the deep human need that expresses itself in such prayers.
I’ve heard prayers of thanksgiving for deceased loved ones – thanks that is completely third person and thanks that calls for God to remind the deceased that they are loved and missed. I’ve heard prayers requesting that the family on earth would not be forgotten. Children ask God to “bless” deceased parents and siblings with the same language they use for living family members. I imagine some parents who have lost children privately ask the same.
I performed some internet searches in order to gain a theological perspective. Clearly, opinions fall into two camps: Roman Catholics\Mormons (who pray for the dead) versus protestants and everyone else (who don’t).
I do not have a complete theology for an All Saints Sunday that incudes prayer for the dead, but I tried to address the human-need side honestly and theological concerns soundly. Here is the pastoral prayer I offered during our observance of All Saints Sunday. I hope it is helpful to any who express grief and hope through prayer for deceased loved ones:
O, God, you know our rising up and our sitting down. You are acquainted with all our ways. We do not need to tell you that we fail daily, yet we acknowledge that each new days finds our commitments weakened and our will to do what is right has diminished during the night. We trust in your grace to sustain and forgive us even though we confess the same sin for the hundredth time. Forgive us still.
And may your grace take root in us in such a way that we are ready to forgive sins that have been commuted repeatedly against us. Even if family members take us for granted again in a way that pierces our hearts, even if co-workers or fellow students disrespect our abilities or our contributions again, may we forgive them as often as you forgive us.
We acknowledge before you now what price it cost you to forgive us so often, for we know how dearly our hearts pay to forgive the repeated sins of others. Change us. Change our hearts and our minds so that we no longer see forgiving others as out loss — but as our gain. Help us to see what you have meant forgiveness to be — freedom from past hurts, a path to a new day and a new relationship with others, an unexpected way to receive blessing beyond measure from your very hand.
Forgive us and we commit anew to forgive those who have sinned against us.
In Christ’s name
Corrie Ten Boom
Philip Yancey in Rumors of Another World, p. 218
Soren Kierkegaard in Christian Discourses
Three trips with Lizardhead Cycling have taught me some valuable lessons. The first comes from Lizardhead’s owner, John Humphries, pregame speech – the advice he gives to a group as they set out on a tour. “The greatest accomplishments,” he says, “arise from overcoming adversity.” According to John, the easiest days on a Lizardhead tour are rarely the most rewarding. He says that our favorite memories come from the days we rise above difficulties and trials.
He’s right. My most memorable days include day two of the Redrocks trip – the day which John says is the hardest on any Lizardhead tour. For me, Redrocks II was the second time I ever rode more than a hundred miles in a day. Others may ride 100 miles once a week; I don’t. Additionally, Redrocks II came eight months after prostate surgery (seven moths after being able to sit on a bike) and three weeks after a blood clot behind my left knee. I’m proud of that day.
Another favorite memory was getting back on the bike after a crash while descending Middlebury Gap in New Hampshire on day two of that vacation. Of the three people who crashed that day, I was the only one able to ride again that week. I missed day three of that trip, per doctor’s orders, but I rolled out with the group on day four.
My most memorable day from this year’s Willamette Valley tour was the last day, climbing McKenzie Pass. I hate to climb. My heart might as well have a governor on it; I can’t beat much over 140/minute, which is a real handicap on hills. McKenzie Pass was a 22 mile climb. It’s not near as steep as the New Hampshire Gaps, but it is uphill all the way and a challenge for me. There were no flat spots for the first 14 miles that I can recall. Others may find it easy, but for me it was a three hour slog at maximum heart rate. And I did it, finishing strong at the top. The big challenges produced the best memories.
John Humphries comments about adversity remind me of a similar statement by Clayton Christensen in his book, “How Will you Measure Your Life? “Self esteem,” says Christensen, ” comes from achieving something important when it’s hard to do.” Christensen makes this statement in the context of parenting: “By sheltering children from the problems that arise in life, we have inadvertently denied this generation the ability to develop processes and priorities it needs to succeed….As I look back on my own life, I recognize that some of the greatest gifts I received from my parents stemmed not from what they did for me -but rather from what they didn’t do for me.” [both quotes on p. 134]
As with many of my posts, the moral of the story is about parenting. Children need challenges. They need to solve hard problems. Yet, this generation of helicopter parents thinks they are doing their children a favor by rescuing them from adversity. Today’s parents want to remove all obstacles from the paths of their sons and daughters. They cajole extra time for a school project instead of allowing a child to complete a difficult project in the time allotted. The allow children to watch while completing a science fair project for them, instead of requiring them to stay up late to finish it on their own. They do their children no favors.
The Apostle Paul says, “…suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope” (Romans 5:3-5). There are no shortcuts to character and hope. They are qualities only derived from overcoming challenges and adversity. A person can only overcome adversity by facing it. A person can only accomplish great things by attempting difficult things.
Check your own memory. What are some of your best memories of accomplishments? I imagine they include overcoming a hardship or trial. What adversity have you let your children handle by themselves? As much as you want to whiled them from pain, you cripple them by swooping in for the rescue. It may make you feel better about parenting, but it teaches children that they probably couldn’t have done it on their own. It’s not the path to character or self esteem.