Rowland Croucher writes:

Give me this Mountain
(Part 2)

And after all that Caleb knew what he wanted: 'give me this mountain.' He didn't ask for an easy job. It was the most hilly part in the area, infested by giants. Israel's enemies were strongest here - the most difficult part of the whole Promised Land to subdue and Caleb at 85 said 'give me that.' Caleb feared no foe and desired no rest. There's a saying that a person of vision and faith does the most difficult thing now and leaves the impossible till a little later. That was Caleb. Let us too know what we are called to do. The six basic ministries of World Vision are still: Six good, well-balanced emphases. Let's get on with them and refuse to be discouraged.


Fear looks at the problems, faith claims the opportunities. Sure there are problems. This task is not for the faint-hearted. The giants are big, their strength superhuman, their reputation terrifying. We're just like grasshoppers compared with the great task lying before us. How desperately we need more Calebs with their faith and courage and know-how to lead us into the Promised Land. And now forty years after the abortive spying mission, this giant of faith was still hanging in there. Despite the huge problems, Caleb plus God was a majority. When we know God, and understand his faithfulness and power the difficulties assume their true proportions. And so we now move to another characteristic of godly leadership: our primary challenge is not only to do our research about the world, the customer, the publics - but also to know God. Faith and hope (and love) are the keys to knowing God.

There are two kinds of faith:

Both kinds of faith are gifts from God, available to everyone(Ephesians 6:23; 2:8,9). Belief about God is necessary before we can have faith in him. So God graciously reveals himself to us in nature, history, the prophets, the redeemed community, and supremely in Jesus. When we read the Bible or hear the preacher and become convinced in our minds that this God is worth entrusting one's life to, we make the big commitment and become a Christian: this time with our hearts, our wills, our whole life. Then we begin to nurture and exercise our faith to make it grow. The apostles asked Jesus to increase their faith (Luke 17:5). Jesus said 'Everything is possible to the one who has faith' (Mark 9:23). What we need is not so much great faith in God but faith in a great God! You don't have to have all the answers (like you don't have to know all about electricity before you switch on the light).

Faith is trusting the Lord, even when we sometimes don't understand his ways. But faith doesn't mean switching off your reason. In 18th century Europe, many churches had to make a fearful decision: should they instal lightning rods? Some said no, and attempted to appease the Almighty by ringing the church bells during thunderstorms (and 12 German bell-ringers died in a 33 year period). The congregation of the church of San Nazaro in Brescia, Italy, not only rejected the protection of lightning rods but also had sufficient faith in the sanctity of their church to store 100 tons of gunpowder in its vaults. In 1767 lightning struck the church and ignited the gunpowder, causing an explosion which destroyed one-sixth of the city and killed 3000 people. (Snake-handlers in rural America have died for similar silliness!). Jeremiah told the Jews not to believe they were safe simply because 'this is the Lord's Temple, this is the Lord's Temple, this is the Lord's Temple' (Jeremiah 7:1-4).

But as our faith grows, and we know the God in whom we trust is loving, and utterly faithful, we sometimes have to trust him when our 'reason' can't supply all the answers. Have you heard of the man who was mountain-climbing in the American Rockies, along a very rugged track. Suddenly he slipped, falling over a cliff. He grabbed the roots of a tree and hung there. When he got his breath back he looked down and saw an enormous drop. If he fell, he'd certainly be killed. Looking up, the cliff top was so far above him he couldn't climb back. In desperation, although he knew he was alone, he cried out 'Is anyone up there?' He was startled to hear a booming voice say 'Yes!' 'Can you help me?' 'Yes' came the response. 'What must I do?' The voice answered 'Let go!'. There was a long pause, then finally the man called out 'Is anybody else up there?'

How does faith grow?

A step at a time. There are about 200 stories of people I know who've had a strong faith. They all had these features in common:
(1) Their faith grew because they had a particular view of God - a God who is always available, who loves us, who desires the best for us. So their faith is in a God who believes in us, as well as our believing in Him! This God is powerful, and is the same as he ever was.

(2) They fed their faith on the stories in the Bible, reading them over and over again: if God did it for them, he'll do it for me!

(3) They noted the importance of faith in the teachings of Jesus (Matthew 8:10; Luke 7:9; Matthew 9:2; Mark 2:5; Luke 5:20; Matthew 9:29; Matthew 15:28; Mark 11:22; Luke 7:50; Luke 8:25; Mark 4:35-41; Matthew 8:23-27).

(4) They used the faith they had, not the faith they didn't have. And they were obedient in their use of that faith. In Luke 17 Jesus says we should forgive someone who sins against us seven times in one day! The disciples ask - reasonably enough we might think - for more faith to do this. Jesus brushes off teir quest, saying, in effect, 'What you need isn't more faith, but using the faith you already have! Your problem isn't faith or the lack of it, but obedience!' To grow stronger, you don't need a muscle transplant, but to exercise the muscles you have! Trust and obey says the old hymn - and it's still true.

(5) They think of possibilities. Just as Augustine wrote the biography of sin in four words: a thought, a form, a fascination, a fall, so faith begins with your thoughts of faith. So they 'imagine' possibilities, believing 'all things are possible to the one who believes'. They link their faith to a vision.

(6) They verbalize this commitment to a dream -they talk to themselves! They repeat faith-formulas in their prayer and to themselves: 'I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me' (Phil.4:13). 'Perfect love casts out fear' (1 John 4:18).

(7) But they aren't off-the-planet idealists: they analyze situations; they research the whole thing; they get all the facts together; they find a need and fill it; they become consumed with this vision; they organize and plan to reach their God-inspired destiny.

(8) Once they've used their minds in all these ways, they are prepared to take risks (the story of Abraham, leaving his secure home and country to ride off into the west appeals to them greatly!).

(9)They follow Paul's advice in Philippians 4:8: 'Whatever is true, noble, right, pure, lovely and honourable... keep on thinking about these things. 'Just as a clean engine gives more power, so a clean life is more in tune with the infinitely powerful God.

(10) They feed their faith by discipline and hard work.

Go To [Part 3]


Copyright & copy; 1996 Rowland Croucher. All rights reserved. May be freely used and reproduced by the Christian Church for the non-profit purposes of study and training only, provided all copyright information is included. May be resent only with copyright, authorship and contact information intact.

This article is published courtesy of Rowland Croucher, John Mark Ministries. If you would like to peruse more articles from the pen of Rowland Croucher, visit his website at http://www.pastornet.net.au/jmm.

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