One singer/songwriter I really appreciate is Matthew Smith. The frontman of Indelible Grace, Smith released an awesome solo album last year, All I Owe. He excels at taking old texts and giving them new, relevant tunes. One of the many great songs on All I Owe is "The Lord Will Provide." I will finish this post by sharing the tune's lyrics, but I first want to share how we have lived that song lately-- the Larsons and Karis. First, Alex Biddles is a trusted friend of mine from Southern Seminary. We sat next to each other during Dr. Moore's Theology course and became good friends (note: he talks too much during lectures, and he never got that I am a bit hard of hearing and never hear much of it). Since then, he has never stopped blessing us. Let me tell you recently what my brother Alex did-- He gave us a minivan. As many of you know, we have three children four and younger. We had been carting them around in a 2001 Buick Century-- a definite space upgrade over the Malibu we had before, but still a challenge. The three car seats barely fit in the back of the Century, and with the kids packed in there, trips were long and brutal (note: even sweet Melia will try to poke baby Kylen's eyes out when he's sleeping!). Well, Alex is the youth pastor of New Hope Baptist Church in Meridian, Mississippi. During one of his previous trips, and he has taken several to assist and encourage us, he mentioned he was going to get a new van and might give us the old one. I forgot about it until he mentioned it again in December. Alex said he was taking his family on a surprise trip to visit us for Christmas, and he was bringing a van. And he did. He gave us a 1998 Plymouth Grand Voyager in excellent condition, even fixing the transmission as he gave it to us to ensure it would last quite a while. We had a super visit with them over Christmas. What a blessing the Biddles family are to us! I can't thank them enough. Amy is so excited to be driving around COMO in the beautiful white van. Thanks, Alex!
Second, a couple of weeks ago, we got some hard news when sewage again started seeping on to the floor of our basement. It had happened 5 times in the previous 2 years, but this time it was worse. We had a different plumber come--one with a pipe camera--and he said it was time to fix the pipes. He quoted us $3600 to "reline" the pipes, which, as poor church planters, we certainly did not have. I encouraged Amy to call around and get different opinions, and she did. She talked to All-Pro Plumbing out of Fulton (contact Rob there-- they're great), and he came out and said that he could replace the pipes for $1500. We also realized at the same time that our homeowners' insurance would cover replacing the tile and carpet in our basement. But how would we pay for the pipes? Somehow--and only God could do this--the insurance company decided to give us $1000 toward the pipes, even though those are almost always considered a maintenance issue and aren't covered. So, to make a long story short, after the carpet and tile were put in, and after the pipes were replaced, yes, we do have a muddy yard, but, also, after the insurance money and some kind gifts from friends, we paid nothing for all of it. It's like our basement got an upgrade, and our pipe problem was finally corrected. Wow!
Third, many of you know that we recently lost funds that were committed to us by the MBC. Check this out: first, the Show-Me Church Planting fund, put together by the St. Louis Baptist Association's D.O.M., Darren Casper, is now sending us the $500 per month the MBC promised but took away. Recently we opened up a check from a man on the east coast for $5000 who was just led by God to bless us. Last week, we opened up a check from a church in Kentucky for $1000. Additionally, I recently received a commitment from a large church in Missouri for another $500 month. What should I make of this? Well, I think God first is trying to say He's going to take care of our young church. With some churches trailing off in support this year, it seems clear this will make up that difference and help us meet our budget. Also, I think it clearly states that the MBC's executive board action was a far better "second wave" fundraising campaign than I could have possibly imagined. With a young congregation without deep pockets, I was concerned about where the money would come from this year (1/3 of our budget still must come from outside sources). But God showed us who is on the throne!
Fourth, the Lord has provided an amazing church here in Columbia. We were gone this weekend visiting The Journey, taking some time alone to rest and relax together, while my parents watched the kids (thanks, Mom and Dad!). Scott preached and did great, so I heard. Everyone pitched in. We had a large winter break crowd. How super to see that we are at the stage where we are gone, and, first, everything goes on as usual, and second, there is a jump in attendance. I sit in my seat on Sundays often thinking, "Lord, how did this happen?" I am amazed at His kindness to me. Thank you, Lord!
Lord, forgive me for so often saying that you're Sovereign, for saying that you are the great Giver, but living in fear and doubt. You are Jehovah-Jireh, the great Provider, the one who owns everything and can disperse any of that at your simple choosing. You work all things for good for those that love you. You care for the sparrows and the lilies, and you will certainly care for your children. You are the great Provider. Thank you! In Christ's name, amen.
The Lord Will Provide
1. Though troubles assail and dangers affright, Though friends should all fail and foes all unite; Yet one thing secures us, whatever betide, The scripture assures us, the Lord will provide. The birds without barn or storehouse are fed, From them let us learn to trust for our bread: His saints, what is fitting, shall ne’er be denied, So long as it’s written, the Lord will provide. 2. We may, like the ships, by tempest be tossed On perilous deeps, but cannot be lost. Though Satan enrages the wind and the tide, The promise engages, the Lord will provide. His call we obey like Abram of old, Not knowing our way, but faith makes us bold; For though we are strangers we have a good Guide, And trust in all dangers, the Lord will provide. 3. When Satan appears to stop up our path, And fill us with fears, we triumph by faith; He cannot take from us, though oft he has tried, This heart–cheering promise, the Lord will provide. He tells us we’re weak, our hope is in vain, The good that we seek we ne’er shall obtain, But when such suggestions our spirits have plied, This answers all questions, the Lord will provide. 4. No strength of our own, or goodness we claim, Yet since we have known the Savior’s great name; In this our strong tower for safety we hide, The Lord is our power, the Lord will provide. When life sinks apace and death is in view, This word of his grace shall comfort us through: No fearing or doubting with Christ on our side, We hope to die shouting, the Lord will provide.