Courageous

I wrote this on March 26, 2014, and it popped up in my ‘memories’ on Facebook, and it is completely appropriate for the crisis we are facing today!

From Billy Graham:

Courage to Stand

“A great problem in America is that we have an anemic and watered-down Christianity that has produced an anemic, watered-down, and spineless Christian who is not willing to stand up and be counted on every issue. We must have a virile, dynamic, aggressive Christian who lives Christ seven days a week, who is ready to die, if necessary, for his faith. We need Christians who are ethical, honest, gracious, bold, strong, and devoted followers of the Lord Jesus Christ.
I realize how spineless and pampered my Christian walk is. Give me Your courage, Lord Jesus, to follow You more devotedly.”

“But suppose you suffer for being a Christian. Then don’t be ashamed. Instead, PRAISE GOD because you are known by that name!” 1 Peter 4:16

Quarantines and Social Distancing

“When the supreme being formed the universe, and created matter out of nothing, he impressed certain principles upon that matter, from which it can never depart, and without which it would cease to be. For as God, when he created matter, and endued it with a principle of mobility, established certain rules for the perpetual direction of that motion; so, when he created man, and endued him with free will to conduct himself in all parts of life, he laid down certain immutable laws of human nature, whereby that free will is in some degree regulated and restrained, and gave him also the faculty of reason to discover the purport of those laws.” – William Blackstone, Commentaries on the Laws of England

In his letter to the Roman church, Paul said “Every person is to be in subjection to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God. Therefore whoever resists authority has opposed the ordinance of God; and they who have opposed will receive condemnation upon themselves.” Romans 13:1‭-‬2 NASB

Honestly, I struggle with this. As a young adult, two of my favorite quotes were “Resist Authority!” and “Why Be Normal?” My “normal” is still very different from people’s around me, and that’s okay with me. I confess that I still struggle with the whole authority situation, too. How many people do you know who can claim that they were introduced to the Commander of a military base that was involved with nuclear weapons, while wearing a shirt proclaiming “You Can’t Hug A Child With NUCLEAR ARMS” …..? (Yes, that actually happened, and I think I made an impression on him.)

While I think that this situation with the current health issue has gone to an extreme, I don’t wholly disagree with the amount of care being taken. Of course I don’t want people sick. For the already sick, and for those most susceptible to a virus, by all means they should be protecting themselves. I wouldn’t want my 93 year old Mom out in public right now, simply because her immune system probably wouldn’t be (isn’t) very efficient at fighting off infections. I don’t want my brand new baby great niece around people for the same reasons. I agree that taking precautions is a good thing for all of us. I mean, who hasn’t had a cold or other virus at some time?

We have to be watchful with the chaos around us of people who are fearful and apparently think the Zombie Apocalypse is on us. Hoarding supplies, fighting over toilet paper, afraid to touch anyone or anything; I believe these are from the enemy.

The saddest part of all this? The healthy among us, and those of us who are cautious and have already been diligent about hand washing and cleanliness, are caught in the same restrictions as the susceptible. I’m an introvert, so “having” to stay home isn’t a real imposition…… as long as it’s my choice. My rebellious self says “How dare you tell me I can’t go out and eat or shop or meet up with friends?” My Christian self says to listen to the LORD, and He says to do what is right and proper, and to obey the authorities. I don’t have to like it, I just have to do it. (However, know this: if the authorities overstep their own boundaries as laid out in the Constitution of the United States, I will not sit by and passively allow it. Just sayin’.)

And the LORD said to Joshua “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous! Do not tremble or be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9 NASB

The Bible is….

The Bible is not fiction or fantasy or fairytales. The Bible is “…… men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God.” (verse 21b)

“For we did not follow cleverly devised stories when we told you about the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ in power, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty.” 2 Peter 1:16 NIV
19 So we have the prophetic word made more sure, to which you do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star arises in your hearts. 20 But know this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture is a matter of one’s own interpretation, 21 for no prophecy was ever made by an act of human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God.” 2 Peter 1:19-21 NASB [compare ESV v21]

We know Scripture has Authority (19a), and Peter writes about the Transfiguration to bolster what the Old Testament prophesies say. There are over 300 prophecies about Jesus Christ – He would be born of a virgin in Bethlehem, of the tribe of Judah, He would enter Jerusalem as a King, riding on the back of a donkey colt, soldiers would cast lots for His clothing, and He would be crucified. Just to start: Micah 5:2; Zechariah 9:9, 13:6, 11:13; Isaiah 53:7.

Peter W. Stoner wrote a fascinating book titled Science Speaks. To read it, especially chapter 3, The Christ of Prophesy, go to http://sciencespeaks.dstoner.net

Because the world is dark and dingy, and JESUS is the Light (19b); it is through His illumination that we can see.

“And Jesus said, “For judgment I came into this world, so that those who do not see may see, and that those who see may become blind.” John 9:39 NASB

We think we are autonomous, but this is the truth: We are bound to society’s boundaries through our minds, because our minds are fallen and dark; our hearts, because our emotions, our feelings, are deceptive; and because of our traditions that bind us into place. We are only Protestants because of the people who broke away from tradition. All of these traits must be subordinate to the teachings and authority of the Bible. The Holy Spirit, the Triune God gives Scripture its Authority (20-21). God inspired Scripture; He did not force the writers to write the words by moving their hands across the paper.

Obedience to God’s Word is comparable to parents telling toddlers to do or not doing a thing. We resist God in the same ways as they resist doing what they are told. Since we know God’s wisdom far exceeds that of a parent compared to a 3 year old, why do we resist Him? Because we know that it will cost us to live His way, just as it is often painful for a toddler to live the way their parents tell them to. Our heart compares to sealing wax and the seal… without FIRE to soften the wax/heart, it will only be scratched or crushed. When the wax is softened from the flame, and indelible impression can be made. Even Jesus, Son of GOD and part of the Triune God, submitted to the Father.

Remember – Be reminded of God’s inspired, authoritative teachings through the study and reading of His Word. He created it to be our guidebook, our instruction manual, our map, and our inspiration.

“Therefore, I will always be ready to remind you of these things, even though you already know them, and have been established in the truth which is present with you. I consider it right, as long as I am in this earthly dwelling, to stir you up by way of reminder….” 2 Peter 1:12‭-‬13 NASB

Is It Time?

“Anyone who loves their life will lose it, while anyone who hates their life in this world will keep it for eternal life. Whoever serves Me must follow Me; and where I am, My servant also will be. My Father will honor the one who serves Me.” John 12:25‭-‬26 NIV

There’s a lot of selfish love today. Selfies dominate photos being taken. Our culture promotes an attitude of entitlement. Keeping up with the “popular” people. Being accepted by everyone. It’s exhausting. When we stand for Jesus and what is right, we won’t make the “Best Loved” list. We’ll probably make the “Most Hated” list!

I don’t particularly care about what the world thinks about me. Politically, I’m very conservative. I say what I think, and I’m not always very tactful when I say it. Socially, I mix with a wide range of socioeconomic, political, and diverse group. Personally, I pray that people see a tiny bit of Jesus in me, and if someone doesn’t like me or what I say…… that’s their problem. Jesus said “Whoever serves Me must follow Me….”

I’m trying, LORD. Thank You for loving me just the way I am!

Moral Excellence

“Now for this very reason also, applying all diligence, in your faith supply moral excellence, and in your moral excellence, knowledge, and in your knowledge, self-control, and in your self-control, perseverance, and in your perseverance, godliness, and in your godliness, brotherly kindness, and in your brotherly kindness, love.” 2 Peter 1:5‭-‬7 NASB

Strive for moral excellence, knowledge of our Saviour, self control, perseverance. Live one day at a time; just for today – do the next right thing. Surround yourself with encouragers. Refuse to quit or give up on what God has called us to do with our life. Live with godliness – literally God likeness; becoming like God/ Christ. Emulate Christ, spend time with Him. Our attitude towards people shows our heart. We should be the kind of person who prays for each other, forgives each other, and is generous to others. Over all, we show love: it is our capstone; our crowning glory when we sacrifice of ourselves for the higher good. As we bask in and revel in God’s love, we can love others.

“Don’t compare me to other men, compare me to Jesus” – Adoniram Judson, missionary to India.

“For it is because of these things that the Wrath of GOD will come upon the sons of disobedience, and in them you also once walked, when you were living in them. But now you also, put them all aside: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and abusive speech from your mouth. Do not lie to one another, since you laid aside the old self with its evil practices, and have put on the new self who is being renewed to a true knowledge according to the image of the One who created him—” Colossians 3:6‭-‬10 NASB

I need to watch my mouth. I may not be cursing or using expletives, but I can do a lot of damage to my witness with my words. Ever hear the phrase “Don’t be a Negative Nancy”? (Yes, I know it’s my name, but it was around before I was!) I’ve been around a few “Negative Nancy’s”, and they can spoil an entire day with their attitude. As Christians, I think it’s important that we keep positive things coming out of our mouths. I need to pay more attention to what I’m saying.

More Questions Than Answers….

“There is more Mercy in Christ than there is sin in us.” Romans 5:8

Instead of running around, searching for in abstract for God’s Will for my life, be mindful of what He says to do. Rejoice. Pray. Be thankful. Have an attitude of gratitude. Give thanks always, for all things. ALWAYS. For ALL things: the good, the bad, the ugly. ALL THINGS. I need to pay more attention to what I have, and less attention to what I don’t have. Be thankful, even when I’m not.

“Therefore we do not lose heart, but though our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day. For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison, while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal.” 2 Corinthians 4:16‭-‬18 NASB

I’m not good at this looking “at the things which are not seen…” It’s much easier to focus on the now and the seen. Maybe our problem is that we have so much, and we are surrounded by so much, that we can’t see past all the stuff. We hear stories of missionaries who go into areas of abject poverty and bring hundreds, even thousands, of souls to belief in Christ. Here we are are in the midst of affluence, and churches struggle to survive. Are we truly thankful for what we have? Are we cognizant of both the seen and the not seen; the now and the eternal, and the difference between them?

Our challenge today is to look at all that surrounds us. Are the momentary afflictions taking precedence over the greater picture? Am I serving the LORD in spite of the good and the bad in my life? Am I showing the mercy to others that God has shown to me?

GOD, the Ultimate Authority

While there must be an institutional separation of church and state, there must NOT be separation between God and government. NO people, institution, or government has any authority beyond what has been given by God. GOD has the ultimate authority and power!

“Every person is to be in subjection to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God.” Romans 13:1 NASB

“Seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the LORD on its behalf; for in its welfare you will have welfare.’ ” Jeremiah 29:7 NASB

See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception, according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary principles of the world, rather than according to Christ. For in Him all the fullness of Deity dwells in bodily form, and in Him you have been made complete, and He is the head over all rule and authority; ……” Colossians 2:8‭-‬10 NASB

Just some things to keep in mind as we move into this season of campaigning and elections. The Deceiver is moving strongly throughout our nation, and it is easy to fall into his many traps and lies. Our nation is unique among nations because it is based upon Christian principles and values. Think hard, pray hard, evaluate each candidate by their lives, their families, their actions. Above all else, remember this:

“For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.” Ephesians 6:12 NASB