On Sunday, September 13 after leading the worship service at Kuala Lumpur Baptist Church (KLBC), Bob Fitts gave another sharing during Life Course, a weekly after church session that is open to question and answer.
Bob started the session by leading the song, Rest:
I rest in Your love
My strength comes from You Lord
Your grace is more than enough
A fountain for my thirsty soul
You are everything that I need
My all-sufficient King
I rest, I rest in Your love
“A long time ago, God’s promise to Kathy and I was that the ministry He had called us to has longevity,” he said. Sure enough, one of the most exciting things about their ministry is that they would meet people whose parents used to listen to Bob’s music—evidence that God is a God of all generations.
“The message of Christ is a message of longevity,” Bob said. He talked about how the Gospel exploded and went around the world because of 12 guys who followed Jesus. “It’s an amazing story! God used the Roman Empire to spread the Gospel, and God is using the Internet today to do the same thing. Back in those days, the roads were paved—the Roman roads. Today, He’s using the airwaves to spread the Gospel!
“We don’t focus only on the youth or only on the older folk. Instead, we honor all ages. I believe this: God wants to pass on to every one of you here that same sense of longevity in your ministry.” How can we do that? How can we have a ministry that crosses generations? The Scripture that God gave to Bob so many years ago was Psalm 89:1.
I will sing of the mercies of the Lord forever; with my mouth will I make known thy faithfulness to all generations.
Considering the nature of their ministry, Bob and Kathy spend over 200 days a year travelling around the world. Bob shared about a time in his and Kathy’s lives when he was struggling with some deep issues of the heart due to his lack of faith.
“There is a reason we sang this song, Rest,” Bob said. “God spoke to me during that season of my life. It was almost as if God grabbed my life and said, ‘Bob, sit down.’ No matter how mature we are in our Christianity, we’ll have seasons when we become fearful or we doubt God. I was going through one of those times.”
Bob went on to tell us about an unforgettable experience when God really caught his attention. “I was taking a drive one day and I was really stressed. I was questioning God, ‘Why, God? Why are we going through this? I know You are faithful, I know You are true but why am I struggling with this issue? Why do I not see You coming to meet me in this situation?’
“We live on a large island in Hawaii, and there’s this part of the island made up of a beautiful pastureland with rolling hills, lots of cattle and sheep; and there’s this road that goes up over the mountain and through the pastures where you can look off into the distance and see the Pacific Ocean. It’s a very idyllic place.
“So I drove my car up there and parked on the side of the road. I was just crying out to God. Literally, I was crying because I had no answers. I did not know what to do.” Bob described how he had the promises of God on the one hand, but on the other, he had reality. He was looking at these two things and they seemed to conflict. He knew that God is true, and yet he saw this complete contradiction.
“And so I just wept.” For about 20 minutes, Bob tried to emotionally reconcile what was going on in his heart. Then he got out of the car and walked over to the roadside next to the beautiful green pasture, and lifted his hands to God. “‘God, I need You to talk to me. I believe you are a God who speaks. Would You please give me Your Word?’” He blanked his mind and said, “‘Speak.’”
And a thought went through his mind. “It was kind of a strange thought—it was kinda funny. And this was the thought: ‘Lay down, and listen to the grass.’ And I thought, ‘Oh my gosh, I’m going crazy! I’m hearing voices telling me to lay down and listen to the grass. God doesn’t talk like that.’”
So he said, “‘In the name of Jesus, I rebuke you Satan!’” Then he tried again, ‘“Ok, now God, speak to me.’” The same thing happened. ‘Lay down and listen to the grass.’
‘That doesn’t even make sense!’ he thought. But he was desperate. “I so believed in God that I knew that God was talking to me. So I said, ‘Ok, God, there’s nobody watching’—I checked around and was alone, so I literally lay down and stuck my ear down to the grass. And I went, ‘Hello…??’
“And all I could hear was the sound of the breeze blowing across the top of the grass, whoosh. In Hawaii, the air sometimes smells like flowers, and there was this sweet aroma in the air. But I heard nothing. Nothing happened.
“I got up and I was perplexed. Honestly, I was feeling a little crazy at the time, getting up off the ground from listening to the grass. I just sort of put it in the back of my mind as just something that happened between me and God. It never happened. Whatever…”
After this incident, Bob and Kathy agreed to take a 2-year sabbatical from ministry. Kathy was a professional photographer, and Bob took a regular job in his community cleaning carpets. During that 2 years, they decided to systematically go through the Scriptures regularly.
A day came when his assigned reading was none other than Psalm 23.
1 The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
2 He makes me lie down in green pastures.
He leads me beside still waters.
3 He restores my soul.
He leads me in paths of righteousness
for his name’s sake.
4 Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil,
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
they comfort me.
5 You prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies;
you anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.
6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
all the days of my life,
and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord
Sitting there with his Bible, he just started reading and the words jumped out at him. “The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures.”
“Suddenly, I remember the scene 2 months earlier where I’m literally laying down on the grass, and the Holy Spirit whispered to me, ‘Son, that was Me that day! That was My voice.’”
“The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures. You want longevity? You want to be strong? You want to be 90 years old and still declare the faithfulness of God? God says, here’s the key: Rilek [Relax]. Jesus is the one who’s responsible to lead you. Effectiveness in ministry does not come from busyness, but from resting in Jesus.
“He says, ‘I am your shepherd.’ That’s what happened to me. He said, ‘Bob Fitts, you travel all over the world, but I want you to know who is your source. I want you to lay down for two years, because I’m going to teach you who I am. I’m going teach you who you sing about. I’m going remind you, Son, about who I am.”
Bob and Kathy studied a number of different books throughout those two years, but one of the key scriptures they read was Psalm 23. We went through and studied the psalm because God said, ‘I want you to remember, Bob, who your God is. Be reminded. This is the mark of your life—to be sheep, to be led, to rest in green pastures.’
Those two years were tough for Bob and Kathy. Because they were taking a break from ministry, their steady income was also cut off. God put them in a position where their income seemed so small in comparison to their financial responsibilities. Yet God said, ‘I am your source. I am your provider.’ And not once in those two years of financial difficulty were they late on making a payment. Jehovah Jireh.
“You may be wondering, ‘What am I going to do with my life?’ Bob said. “God is your shepherd. He’s leading you from the inside out. The Bible says, “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me” (John 10:27). The economy all over the world may be headed for catastrophe, but in the midst of that, God says, ‘The Lord is your shepherd. I will provide everything you need.’”
Bob then went on look at the lines, “He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul.” “The job of a shepherd is not just providing green grass to eat, but where to go to find that green grass.
One of the biggest issues that steals our peace, aside from financial provision, is this: What am I going to do with my life? What’s my career? Am I supposed to be in full time ministry? Am I supposed to be a businessman? All of these things make us anxious. What’s my future? Am I going to succeed? Am I going to fail?
“God says, he will lead you. He will guide you. It’s good to have a plan, but do it from a relaxed perspective. We think that if it’s easy, then it’s flowing. But life isn’t always easy. Jesus said, ‘You will have tribulations, but be of good cheer. I have overcome the world’ (John 16:33). God is leading you. Even when it looks like He’s not. And you just take a deep breath, and go with God.”
Finally, he looked at verse 5(a): “You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies.” “Don’t you love that?” Bob said. “I love that about our God. That in the middle of our battle, God brings out the durian. When we think that there’s destruction headed our way, God has the table set and He says, ‘I am going to show the enemy that nothing He can throw at you will ever destroy you.’ Because God is greater than any strategy Hell puts in front of you.
God says, ‘You watch me. I will turn darkness into goodness.” “Think about Calvary,” Bob said. “The disciples had no idea what was happening that day when they looked at their mentor—their leader, whom they thought was going to deliver them from the Roman Empire. They had a very finite view. They thought Jesus came to get rid of the Romans. But the Romans crucified Him.
“We know in hindsight, that God had a plan all along. He knew all along that what seemed to be a huge defeat, was in fact a massive victory—the greatest victory in the history of creation. There’s a verse in the Old Testament that we’re all familiar with: ‘The joy of the Lord is your strength’ (Nehemiah 8:10).
“Do you know where that is from? It’s taken from a time in the life of Israel when they were extremely distraught. They had returned to find their city destroyed. Jerusalem was ransacked. They were going to have to rebuild the city. They got together and were discouraged.
“Maybe you’re discouraged. Maybe you’re thinking about a situation in your life. This is what happened with the people in Israel. They were reading the words of the Law and they were crying out to the Lord.
“And God sent a prophet to say, ‘Hey. This is not a day to weep or to mourn.’ God understands when our hearts are broken. He weeps with us, He rejoices with us, and He sends His messengers to lift up the chins of the downcast to look up. Lift up your eyes to Him. You will arise again. He said that to Israel, ‘I’m going to rebuild the city. Go your way, eat the fat, drink the sweet.’
“Have a celebration! In the presence of your enemy, God is saying, ‘I’m setting the table. Eat the fat and drink the sweet.’ In Malaysia, that would be, ‘Go your way, eat Bak Kut Teh, drink Teh Tarik!.’ These principles from Psalm 23 have truly impacted our lives,” Bob said, “and are the things that will assist you to have a ministry that is not going to fall through.”
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