Throughout the Bible you will find God telling people to wait. It seems like any major event on God's timetable is preceded by a period of waiting. I remember Abraham, Joseph, King Saul, Job and...
The great missionary Andrew Murray once said, “faith expects from God what is beyond all expectation.” I’m not sure I can say it any better when I consider this journey of church planting and the ministry and impact of Jim & Tami Webb. It seems like yesterday that a Pastor looked at Cissy and said these words. “You don’t really think people will leave and go with you to New Jersey?” These were powerful words that left my wife speechless. Here we were preparing to do something that for a number of reasons made no sense yet we knew God was asking us to follow Him in FAITH.
We had prayed and truly believed that not only was God calling us to trust Him and be willing to step out of the boat into the deep waters but that He would not let us take those steps alone.
We believed that God was going to send us others to take this journey with us. We truly believed that. Who it would be or how many was still a mystery but we did believe we would have others go with us. It was that faith that Murray spoke of that we had and were holding onto.
A faith that expected more from God and was willing to completely trust in Him no matter what anyone said.
A Faith that believed God was faithful to always do what He said and we believed that He said we would have help go with us.
Who would it be? Why would they go? What would be their expectations? These were just a few of the questions that ran through my mind as I prayed asking God to send us help.
Then I jokingly asked Tami Webb one day to go with us and she said confidently to talk to Jim. So, I did. I asked Jim to meet me and to be honest it was only the second time I had ever met him. We talked for a while and I tried to answer his questions as best I knew how and left it in God’s hands.
I must admit that I didn’t think it was going to become a reality. Tami was the longest tenured employee at Idlewild and her role and responsibilities were very significant. Why would she leave that and come with me. It wasn’t like we could offer anything that would entice her or provide for her anything like what she had there.
As for Jim, I couldn’t say things that are important for a husband to know so that he can say to his wife in order to give her peace and security. Things like, “I have a couple jobs lined up for you to choose from for income.” Or, “I have a place for you to stay.” I couldn’t even tell him where we would put his stuff when he got there.
Yet, as Andrew Murray said – Faith is expecting from God what is beyond all expectation. I’m not sure that was the faith that Cissy and I had at the beginning of this journey but I can confidently say that Jim & Tami had it! It is that same faith that they demonstrate before us all everyday.
A faith that is marked by behaviors like service, dedication, selflessness, kindness, compassion, integrity, steadfastness, reliability, servant leadership, and steadiness.
Please read this next line slowly and even re-read it because I don’t want you to miss it. Jim and Tami didn’t leave Tampa to follow Buff & Cissy. They left Tampa in obedience to follow Jesus.
They sold their house, left their family, and jobs in FAITH to follow Jesus. We tend to read passages about following Jesus; the costs involved and think that doesn’t apply to me. Jim & Tami didn’t.
In fact they left to follow Jesus wanting and believing God had more for them. More for them to see, to do, but more importantly to be. I can confidently say they found it.
They, like us, have been stretched, challenged, broken, attacked; yet all of it was not only a blessing but the blessing. I think they could say that the blessing isn’t found in what they lost but is found in what they have gained. You see in God’s economy, profits and gains are always different than man’s economy.
I think of the apostle Paul’s word when he was describing his ministry…
”But as God’s ministers, we commend ourselves in everything…as grieving yet always rejoicing; as poor yet making many rich; as having nothing yet possessing everything.”
They have lost a lot by being here. They have stayed longer than anyone who has come to serve alongside us. The bond we have can never be broken as a result of this journey. We always knew it wouldn’t be forever here yet we never wanted to think about that.
We pledged to stay in the moments and see where and how God was working and stay faithful in joining Him in that work. I am not sure if I can or will ever be able to capture what Jim & Tami have and do mean to us.
How do I even attempt to share with you the impact or influence they have had on the ministry of Grace Falls Church? Not sure I can! But I do remember a quote I heard at the first SEND Conference I went to in preparation coming here to New Jersey.
David Platt said it and it is one that I have held onto as I have prayed and believed God has been at work here in New Jersey. David Platt said that a church should be known more by its SENDING capacity than its SEATING capacity. That resonated with me that day. I am looking at my notes today when I wrote that. I said right then and there on that day that I would not measure our success as church planters by how big our church got in numbers on a Sunday but by the people we disciple and send.
That is the work and command. We have done that…people like…
• Jim & Donna – Baptized here & moved to Fla • Eva – Saved & Baptized here & reconciled w/her family • Shelby – faithfully served & left to help church plant in Tampa • Ashley – Baptized here & now on Mission in St Pete • Joseph – Saved, Baptized & now on mission in St Pete • Chris & Gen – On Mission as IMB Missionaries in Niger • Rafaat & Hoda – On Mission in Fl
These are just a few of over 20 people that we have had the unique opportunity to invest and influence over the past couple years.
You see if all we do is truly about the Kingdom of God, and it is for His good and glory, we will not only be sending people constantly from our churches but we will be sending our best.
Today I believe we just did that. We are sending our best. May God bless Jim & Tami Webb as they go now on mission to plant the gospel and make disciples all for the glory of God. Thank you both for your example and your ministry! Galatians 6:9!
1 John 4:1-6 Dear friends, do not believe everyone who claims to speak by the Spirit. You must test them to see if the spirit they have comes from God. For there are many false prophets in the world.
2 This is how we know if they have the Spirit of God: If a person claiming to be a prophet acknowledges that Jesus Christ came in a real body, that person has the Spirit of God. 3 But if someone claims to be a prophet and does not acknowledge the truth about Jesus, that person is not from God. Such a person has the spirit of the Antichrist, which you heard is coming into the world and indeed is already here.
4 But you belong to God, my dear children. You have already won a victory over those people, because the Spirit who lives in you is greater than the spirit who lives in the world.
5 Those people belong to this world, so they speak from the world's viewpoint, and the world listens to them. 6 But we belong to God, and those who know God listen to us. If they do not belong to God, they do not listen to us. That is how we know if someone has the Spirit of truth or the spirit of deception.
You see all kinds of scams reported in the news and you wonder how some of these people could think they were being told the truth. We all should know that you cannot believe everything that you hear, people will lie to you just as fast as the devil does, maybe we are a lot more vulnerable to scams than we want to admit. It seems like the most outrageous lie will still have somebody that is willing to believe it.
Jesus warned us that Satan is the father of lies and he has a lot of children that act just like their father. They may be the nicest people that you could ever meet but they are liars. There are people lying to you about the everyday stuff of the physical world as well as people that are false teachers that are lying about spiritual things. You need wisdom to help you test their motives so that you can know the truth.
John 8:44 For you are the children of your father the devil, and you love to do the evil things he does. He was a murderer from the beginning. He has always hated the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, it is consistent with his character; for he is a liar and the father of lies.
Every teacher needs to be put to the test to determine where their teaching is coming from. The most important teaching that must be checked is what they teach about Jesus:
- Do they believe that Jesus is God?
- Do they believe that God's Son came to earth to pay the penalty that we owed for sin?
- Do they believe that Jesus covered our sins without any help from us based on our good works?
Just about all of the New Testament books have teaching about the dangers of bad doctrine and the people who try to teach it. The devil is okay with you knowing about Jesus but he doesn't want you to have the correct beliefs about Jesus.
Jesus wasn't gone for very long before incorrect teaching about Him showed up. Satan was ready with subtle variations of the truth.
The InterVarsity New Testament Commentary explains the problems that false teachers cause:
- They distract Christians from obeying the truth of the gospel (v. 7)
- They replace the call of God with their own deceptive persuasiveness (v. 8)
- They gain control over the whole church (v. 9)
- They cause confusion and discouragement (v. 10)
- They spread false reports about spiritual leaders (v.11)
- They emphasize sensational rituals (v.12)
We need to be concerned about the danger and keep our guard up, we should be motivated to dig into the Word daily so that we will know what we believe and why we believe it.
A sinful lifestyle isn't a good thing.