Yes, apparently this is a thing, second only to FoMO, the fear of missing out, also a thing. Lately I have been experiencing some FoRo in my life with regard to resources and such. I can’t be the only person who has been looking at the shelves in some stores and noticing that things are missing. I am a tactical person who preps for the future, be in my finances, my pantry, and even the gas tank in my car; I am a guy who wants to be (or at least feel that I am) ready. Some folks take this FoRo to a whole new level, stuffing cash in their mattress or in the walls of their homes. Stocking up on so much food that the local rats are becoming suspicious. I remember a few years ago coming out of LAX gun range and seeing this guy pushing a cart full of ammunition, some of it military grade. I was thinking to myself, this guy is prepping for the apocalypse. My thought about this is simple, the only way to prep for the coming apocalypse (aka seven-year tribulation) is to get saved and stay that way until Jesus comes. People are worried a bit, some more than others. There are those folks who have suffered through a season or two of going without who can appreciate what FoRo is all about. Depression survivors, WW2 patriots and such have all a story to tell about FoRo. I remember visiting my grandparent’s home in Oregon in the late 70’s and seeing several pantries full of canned foods and food that they canned themselves in Kerr glass jars. They lived through some rough seasons and learned a few lessons in the process. My FoRo is not as intense as theirs, or some, but it’s a bit more than it should be and I am working on that.
I recently relocated to the Kansas City area of Missouri where my wife (Debi) and I purchased a home near our three adult children and their families (who also relocated out here a few years earlier). While we don’t consider ourselves the type of couple who follows their kids all around the country, we quickly realized that our grandkids were not going to wait for us to grow up. After serving as a Lead Pastor in a local church where we lived for 22 years, we felt it was time to move and I resigned my post, packed up, and rolled out within two months. It was one of the most difficult things that I have ever done, to leave people I love (some more than others) for people that I love more, my family. To my credit, I didn’t leave these precious saints high and dry.
I am one of those pastors who trains his replacement. I trained two other brothers who took churches of their own, and the man who replaced me was my third Lead Associate, and who is currently doing a stellar job I might add. His style is not my style, but he leads well and preaches a straight gospel, something too many churches are missing these days. In our relocation effort, I failed to procure employment and we went on faith.
My wife picked up a job really quick as a teacher in a local Christian school. I attempted to become a hospice chaplain, but the doors kept closing. I started out doing side jobs, helping folks with their homes and such (I have a construction background) while applying for work, but no joy. Then a unique door opened for me to help at the same school where Debi is teaching. I joined up with their sub list, I became a school bus driver, and I am working with their maintenance department. As a result, I am working every day for a third of what I was making in CA. This in of itself can lead to a FoRo mindset, but God is faithful. I am also serving on a pastoral interim team where, when called upon by our district, I will help a local church transition from on pastoral administration to another. I really enjoy this, but it only works when I am invited to this table. In the meantime, work must be done to keep the proverbial wolf away from the front door, as it were.
I actually enjoy doing what I am doing and my spending habits, which have always been conservative (I grew up poor), have become more stringent as I compensate for the lower wages. While I am not complaining about the wage so much, I do feel a sense of purpose and even a calling to this school. I interviewed with a local FedEx contractor a while back who wanted to hire me on the spot (I also have a CDL), but again, at a rate that didn’t match the level of responsibility and liability. I have an old school work ethic, ‘an honest day’s work for an honest day’s pay.’ While I am honestly working, the pay in this economy doesn’t seem to be as honest. Now I am not a calculus major or anything like that, but I can see that this in sufficient pay schedule is indicative of a collapsing economy. The local McDonald’s and Raising Cain Chicken restaurants are hiring employees starting at $15.00 per hour. It’s a good thing that I believe in a pre-tribulation Rapture or I might succumb to my FoRo.
One of the things that I have enjoyed in my walk with Jesus is the fact that I hear God’s voice in my spirit. He speaks to me through His Word, other people, and even into my spirit as I listen intently to Him. Many times when I am praying for people the Lord will give me a prophetic word for them.
I graciously and confidently speak it over their life as a form of encouragement and direction from the Lord. This is something that we need to see more of in the local church. This gift of the Holy Spirit is not only for today, but needed now more than ever. The Lord reminds me that He has always blessed us, even in the lean times. I have no reason to believe that His blessing on our lives and the lives of our children and grandchildren will be any less; God is faithful! These rich truths are parroted throughout the Bible in both the OT and NT ad nauseum. As I read the scriptures I am reminded of these sacred truths and share them with others as the Lord enables. It’s nice to get an invite to speak in a local church and minister in this capacity. My pastor, Dennis Luce, is a friend of mine from me and Debi’s college days. We served together on a few ministry teams in the early 90’s in the SoCal District, working with students and such. When we felt the tug to relocate to the Kansas City area, Pastor Dennis was one of a few brothers I consulted with before making this decision. I have been out here for a little over a year now and I have come to the conclusion that we have a lot of pastors out here, but few leaders. Pastor Dennis is a good pastor and a good leader.
Most of these pastors have their credentials but they just want to preach and host a pulpit or church. Too few of them will obey the prompting of the Lord and relocate themselves to a more rural area of the state (district) to take a smaller church in need of a Lead Pastor. A recent study produced by Dr. Daniel Davis, a Lead Pastor turned Missionary from our district, stated that we have more churches then pastors who are willing to host them. Many of these churches are in rural communities and in need of good pastoral leadership which may require a bi-vocational and church administrative skillset. Too many of our brothers (and sisters) are more about growing on trees than they are growing in ovens, or kilns; where God grows good pastors. Their hesitation is centered around their issues of provision on multiple levels, even as the Lord prompts them. How we need more pastors like the prophet Isaiah (Isaiah 6) who said, ‘Here am I Lord, send me.’ I feel that I can say this because I drove 2 ½ hours one way twice per week for five months while serving as a pastoral interim for a church; it can be done. One must overcome their FoRo and make the faith jump, trusting God in the process.
I recently interviewed for an interim pastor position at a local church (about ½ hour from our house) but was voted down by the church board in light of their desire to handle the interim process themselves. While this is their right as a General Council church in our system, I was actually hurt a bit and taken back by their decision. I have come to understand that not every church invites God into their ministry. They will pray to God to send them a good pastor, the right pastor, but they don’t always want to do it God’s way. While I am not saying that I am God, I do represent the Lord and His desire to transition not only the church toward a new pastoral administration, but disciple these precious saints in the process; something many churches don’t feel that they need, even as they dwindle in size and increase in funerals. Talk about FoRo, if these local churches don’t properly matriculate with new families and younger people, they will ‘die on the vine’ as it were, embracing their church culture to their own detriment, even though it no longer matches the community where they exist. I am purposely not mentioning this church by name out of respect and propriety for them. After being informed by the presbytery of the rejection, I decided to watch this particular church’s livestream each week and just observe, with a trained eye, just how they are conducting their services and administrative tasks. I do believe that because I am praying for them, there is an slight chance that I may get a call from their board, requesting assistance, or at least a speaking opportunity. I want to be able to say to them that I have been supporting them from afar. The problem here is that if they don’t make some very necessary changes, they will ‘Ro.’ Usually these changes require cultural shifts that involve taking a closer look at the key players on the team and making some necessary adjustments into the practices and protocols of how they do ministry. This requires a ‘teachable spirit,’ something that Paul addressed to both Timothy and Titus, particularly on the part of the pastor (leader).
While this blog is not about local churches that may need a makeover and such, it is about the ‘fear of running out’ and how more than most people have to deal with this issue in their lives, especially during seasons of duress. If you are struggling with this fear, I should like to encourage you to consider the nature of the Lord in light of your need and adjust yourself to His truths.
God is our provider, He is Jehovah-Jireh, the Lord who provides for us. The first time we see the mention of this name of God is in Genesis 22 when Abraham was about to sacrifice Isaac, but was stopped by an angel.
“Then Abraham lifted his eyes and looked, and there behind him was a ram caught in a thicket by its horns. So Abraham went and took the ram, and offered it up for a burnt offering instead of his son. 14 And Abraham called the name of the place, The-Lord-Will-Provide (YHWH Yireh); as it is said to this day, “In the Mount of the Lord it shall be provided.” – Genesis 22:13,14
If you will allow me to give you a Rob Lee theo lesson:
The Hebrew verb ra’ah, where we get the name Jireh from, actually means ‘to see.’ In this passage it’s translated ‘provide’ and it basically means that God can see the future and will provide for us before we get there. I like to say it this way, ‘God’s provision is God’s prevision.’ He sees our need even before we do, and has already provided for it in advance. The English word ‘provision’ comes from two Latin words that mean ‘to see beforehand.’ When we pray to God, we are praying to the Lord who sees our need beforehand and makes provision for it. While we have to be responsible and prepare as best we can for the future, our FoRo must be kept in check in light of this quality characteristic of the Lord.
The place where this passage occurs is on Mt. Moriah, the sight of the temple mount in Jerusalem, where the Dome of the Rock, a Muslim mosque, is currently situated. Jesus was crucified just outside of Jerusalem on Mt. Calvary (aka Golgotha) less than ¼ of a mile from Moriah. That ram that was caught in the thicket in this passage was later replaced by Jesus Christ Himself, who became the perfect sacrifice for the sin of the world. In essence, what God asked Abraham to do, He did Himself with Jesus, His only Son, the Son of God.
The truth be told, a FoRo has no place in our life if we are walking in step with the Lord, who promises to provide for us, even before we ask. God has already made the necessary provisions for our sustenance. Some shelves may be empty, but God still provides.
David said it this way, “I have been young, and now am old; yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his descendants begging bread. 26 He is ever merciful, and lends; and his descendants are blessed.” – Psalm 37:25,26
We have sold our rentals in LA and are in the process of purchasing rental homes here in Missouri, near our home, where we can continue to provide quality living for folks at an affordable price. We have already purchased two homes, our first tenant is our younger son and his beautiful wife and their infant daughter, our granddaughter. It is our pleasure to provide a beautiful home for them, with a lower rent schedule, in a nice neighborhood, where they can raise their family. This is the blessing of the Lord. God has provided.
As we learn to trust in the Lord, we come to better understand that He does provide for us. Sometimes he uses a job, other times he uses other people, and still other times he uses angels we are unaware of. God will provide, so if you’re struggling with a FoRo spirit, please be reminded of the nature of our God who sees the need even before we do and has already provided for it.
By the way, I have an interview scheduled next week for a Bible teaching position at the school. Apparently they are looking for qualified people to teach these students the ways of the Lord. Contracts begin this August, so if I get the job I will be working with their maintenance department through the summer months until I become a fully-fledged Bible teacher. This will be nice because I got bills to pay and toys to buy for my grandkids. One more thing before I sign off on this FoRo blog topic. Even though we are purchasing rental homes in the area which will supplement our income and provide a home for certain families to live in, and even though I may get this job teaching next year, and even though we are living close to our adult kids and grandkids, and even though I am teaching a packed out Eschatology Sunday School class (remember those?) each week, and even though God has blessed us immensely with His provision, protection, health, and wellbeing; I am still longing for the Rapture of the Church, now more than ever. I love Jesus and want to be with Him, not by way of a pre-Rapture death so much, but to be launched off the face of this earth in the twinkling of an eye, with the rest of my brothers and sisters in the Lord. My point here is for us to not get to attached to our stuff here, it’s all gonna burn. We need to be less concerned about running out and more hopeful about launching out.
Encouragemen is a blog written by Pastor Rob Lee, recently relocated to Central Missouri. He lives with his wife of 32-years, near their three adult children, their spouses, and children (their grandchildren). Pastor Rob is an Ordained Assemblies of God minister, a former Lead Pastor (25 years), police chaplain, and community advocate. He continues to serve, consult, and disciple men of God, including those who are in the ministry.