TAKE COURAGE CHRISTIAN SAINTS!
BECOMING A CHILD OF GOD THE FATHER DOES NOT MEAN WE ARE TAKEN OUT OF THIS WORLD, NOR THAT OUR NATURE IS FULLY AND COMPLETELY CHANGED SO SIN IS NOT AROUND, OR THAT THE ENEMY OF GOD, SATAN THE DEVIL AND HIS DEMONIC HELPERS STOP TRYING TO PULL US DOWN TO DESTRUCTION AND WE GIVE UP OUR WALK WITH CHRIST JESUS.
ALL OF THOSE THINGS ARE STILL WITH US; THAT IS WHY THE APOSTLE PAUL WROTE TO THE CHURCH AT CORINTH, “WATCH YOU, STAND FAST IN THE FAITH, BE YOU LIKE MEN, BE STRONG!” [1 CORINTHIANS 16: 13].
PAUL TO THE CHURCH AT PHILIPPI, SAYS: “ONLY LET YOUR CONDUCT BE AS IT BECOMETH THE GOSPEL OF CHRIST: WHETHER I COME AND SEE YOU, OR ELSE BE ABSENT, I MAY HEAR OF YOUR AFFAIRS, THAT YOU STAND FAST IN ONE SPIRIT, WITH ONE MIND STRIVING TOGETHER FOR THE FAITH OF THE GOSPEL” [PHIL. 1:27].
THE ONE MIND, TO HAVE THE ONE MIND, WOULD MEAN AS PAUL SAID IN CHAPTER 2: 5 “LET THIS MIND BE IN YOU, THAT WAS ALSO IN CHRIST JESUS.”
GOD IS HELPING US RUN AND STAY THE COURSE, FOR IT IS WRITTEN “FOR GOD HAS NOT GIVEN US THE SPIRIT OF FEAR, BUT OF POWER, AND OF LOVE, AND OF A SOUND MIND” [2 TIM. 1: 7].
IT DOES TAKE COURAGE TO RUN THE CHRISTIAN RACE, TO FACE THE EVIL OF THE WORLD, TO PUT DOWN THE FLESH, TO STAND STRONG AGAINST THE UNSEEN WORLD OF THE DARK FORCES OF EVIL.
YES, COURAGE IS NEEDED.
THERE ARE MANY DIFFERENT KINDS OF COURAGE, NOT JUST THE “HERO” TYPE THAT WE MAY HEAR ABOUT ON THE NEWS SHOWS, OF SOMEONE DOING AN ACT OF HEROISM, LIKE SOMEONE PULLING A PERSON OUT OF A BURNING CAR, OR SAVING A SOMEONE FROM DROWNING.
HERE ARE A FEW OTHER TYPES OF COURAGE.
Martin Neimoller's Courage
Definition of Courage
Grace under pressure.
In 1934, Adolf Hitler summoned German church leaders to his Berlin office to berate them for insufficiently supporting his programs. Pastor Martin Niemoller explained that he was concerned only for the welfare of the church and of the German people. Hitler snapped, "You confine yourself to the church. I'll take care of the German people." Niemoller replied, "You said that 'I will take care of the German people.' But we too, as Christians and churchmen, have a responsibility toward the German people. That responsibility was entrusted to us by God, and neither you nor anyone in this world has the power to take it from us."
Hitler listened in silence, but that evening his Gestapo raided Niemoller's rectory, and a few days later a bomb exploded in his church. During the months and years following, he was closely watched by the secret police, and in June 1937, he preached these words to his church: "We have no more thought of using our own powers to escape the arm of the authorities than had the apostles of old. We must obey God rather than man." He was soon arrested and placed in solitary confinement.
Dr. Niemoller's trial began on February 7, 1938. That morning, a green-uniformed guard escorted the minister from his prison cell and through a series of underground passages toward the courtroom. Niemoller was overcome with terror and loneliness. What would become of him? Of his family? His church? What tortures awaited them all?
The guard's face was impassive, and he was silent as stone. But as they exited a tunnel to ascend a final flight of stairs, Niemoller heard a whisper. At first he didn't know where it came from, for the voice was soft as a sigh. Then he realized that the officer was breathing into his ear the words of Proverbs 18:10: The name of the Lord is a strong tower; the righteous run to it and are safe.
Niemoller's fear fell away, and the power of that verse sustained him through his trial and his years in Nazi concentration camps.
Of Course You Can
Author Muriel Anderson says that four of the most important words in her life are "Of course you can."
"I was fortunate," she wrote, "to have had a father who was good at shouting of course you can at just the right moments."
Once when she was in high school her family had moved to a city from a small town. She loved the place and wrote an article about it, wanting more than anything to have the article published in the small-town, weekly paper. She didn't expect to be successful, though, because the paper was a weekly with a tight budget who bought practically no freelance material.
"I don't think I can get it published," I said.
"Of course you can," said my dad. And she did—launching her career as a writer.2
By and By
Joseph Webster walked wearily into the little drugstore in Elkhorn, Wisconsin. It was a lovely day in the late fall of 1867, but Webster looked as though he had lost his best friend. His problems had gotten the best of him, and his mood was heavy.
The proprietor of the little shop was Samuel Bennett, thirty-one, who not only filled prescriptions—he sometimes wrote them. Oh this day, he had just the prescription for his discouraged friend.
After listening carefully to Webster's accumulated burdens, he picked up his pen and began writing on a 5 x 7 piece of paper. In a few minutes he handed his friend a poem, one he had composed on the spot.
Webster read the poem, picked up his fiddle, and began improvising a simple melody. "Hand me some paper," he said, "so I can jot down the notes before I forget them."
He played the tune two or three times, then, recruiting a couple of customers who had walked into the store, they formed a makeshift quartet and sang it. Thus the world was given the popular gospel tune:
There's a land that is fairer than day, And by faith we can see it afar
For the Father waits over the way, To prepare us a dwelling place there.
In the sweet by and by, We shall meet on that beautiful shore.
In the sweet by and by, We shall meet on that beautiful shore.
SO COURAGE IS NOT ALWAYS IN THE FORM OF BEING A HERO IN SOME LARGE PHYSICAL HAPPENING; COURAGE CAN BE MENTAL, EMOTIONAL, INNER STRENGTH, AS YOU FACE WHAT LIFE MAY THROW AT YOU; A COURAGE IN FINDING THE STRENGTH TO PICK YOURSELF UP AND CONTINUE THE RACE, TO REMAIN IN THE CHRISTIAN RACE TO THE END, WHEN YOU KNOW YOU SHALL MEET ALL THE OTHER CHRISTIANS DOWN THROUGH THE AGES, ON THAT BEAUTIFUL SHORE OF THE RESURRECTION DAY.
BRENE BROWN, PhD., L.M.S.W. IN HER 2010 BOOK CALLED THE GIFTS OF IMPERFECTION TALKS ABOUT COURAGE——
Wholehearted living is about engaging in our lives from a place of worthiness. It means cultivating the courage, compassion, and connection to wake up in the morning and think, No matter what gets done and how much is left undone, I am enough. It's going to bed at night thinking, Yes, I am imperfect and vulnerable and sometimes afraid, but that doesn’t change the truth that I am also brave and worthy of love and belonging………
Here's what you'll find in the pages that follow. In the first chapter, I explain what I've learned about courage, compassion, and connection and how they are truly the tools for developing worthiness…….
We encounter obstacles on every journey we make; the Wholehearted journey is no exception……
For example, when the research participants talked about a concept such as love, I was careful to define it as they experienced it. Sometimes that required developing new definitions (like I actually did with love and many other words). Other times, when I started looking around in the existing literature, I found definitions that captured the spirit of the participants' experiences. A good example of this is play. Play is an essential component to Wholehearted living, and when I researched the topic, I discovered the amazing work of Dr. Stuart Brown.1 So, rather than creating a new definition, I reference his work because it accurately reflects what I learned in the research.
I realize that definitions spark controversy and disagreement, but I'm okay with that. I'd rather we debate the meaning of words that are important to us than not discuss them at all. We need common language to help us create awareness and understanding, which is essential to Wholehearted living.
In early 2008, when my blog was still pretty new, I wrote a post about breaking my "dig-deep" button. You know the dig-deep button, right? It's the button that you rely on when you're too bone-tired to get up one more time in the middle of the night or to do one more load of throw-up-diarrhea laundry or to catch one more plane or to return one more call or to please/perform/perfect the way you normally do even when you just want to flip someone off and hide under the covers.
The dig-deep button is a secret level of pushing through when we're exhausted and overwhelmed, and when there's too much to do and too little time for self-care.
In my blog post, I explained how I had decided not to fix my dig-deep button. I made a promise to myself that when I felt emotionally, physically, and spiritually done, I'd try slowing down rather than relying on my old standbys: pushing through, soldiering on, and sucking it up.
It worked for a while, but I missed my button. I missed having something to turn to when I was depleted and down. I needed a tool to help me dig my way out. So, I turned back to my research to see if I could find a way to dig that was more consistent with Wholehearted living. Maybe there was something better than just sucking it up.
Here's what I found: Men and women who live Wholeheartedly do indeed DIG Deep. They just do it in a different way. When they're exhausted and overwhelmed, they get
Deliberate in their thoughts and behaviors through prayer,
meditation, or simply setting their intentions;
Inspired to make new and different choices;
Going. They take action.
Courage sounds great, but we need to talk about how it requires us to let go of what other people think, and for most of us, that's scary…..
Practicing courage, compassion, and connection in our daily lives is how we cultivate worthiness. The key word is practice. Mary Daly, a theologian, writes, "Courage is like—it's a habitus, a habit, a virtue: You get it by courageous acts. It's like you learn to swim by swimming. You learn courage by couraging." …….
Courage is a huge theme in my life. It seems that either I'm praying for some, feeling grateful for having found a little bit, appreciating it in other people, or studying it. I don't think that makes me unique. Everyone wants to be brave.
After interviewing people about the truths of their lives—their strengths and struggles—I realized that courage is one of the most important qualities that Wholehearted people have in common. And not just any kind of courage; I found that Wholeheartedness requires ordinary courage. Here's what I mean...
The root of the word courage is cor—the Latin word for heart. In one of its earliest forms, the word courage had a very different definition than it does today. Courage originally meant "To speak one's mind by telling all one's heart."
Over time, this definition has changed, and, today, courage is more synonymous with being heroic. Heroics is important and we certainly need heroes, but I think we've lost touch with the idea that speaking honestly and openly about who we are, about what we're feeling, and about our experiences (good and bad) is the definition of courage. Heroics is often about putting our life on the line. Ordinary courage is about putting our vulnerability on the line. In today's world, that's pretty extraordinary.
When we pay attention, we see courage every day.
We see it when people reach out for help…. I see it in my classroom when a student raises her hand and says, "I'm completely lost. I have no idea what you're talking about." Do you know how incredibly brave it is to say "I don't know" when you're pretty sure everyone around you gets it? Of course, in my twelve-plus years of teaching, I know that if one person can find the courage to say, "You've lost me," there are probably at least ten more students who feel the exact same way. They may not take the risk, but they certainly benefit from that one person's courage.
I saw courage in my daughter, Ellen, when she called me from a slumber party at 10:30 p.m. and said, "Mom, can you come get me?" When I picked her up, she got in the car and said, "I'm sorry. I just wasn't brave enough. I got homesick. It was so hard. Everyone was asleep, and I had to walk to Libby's mom's bedroom and wake her up."
I pulled into our driveway, got out of the car, and walked around to the backseat where Ellen was sitting. I scooted her over and sat next to her. I said, "Ellen, I think asking for what you need is one of the bravest things that you'll ever do. I suffered through a couple of really miserable sleepovers and slumber parties because I was too afraid to ask to go home. I'm proud of you."
The next morning during breakfast, Ellen said, "I thought about what you said. Can I be brave again and ask for something else?" I smiled. "I have another slumber party next weekend. Would you be willing to pick me up at bedtime? I'm just not ready." That's courage. The kind we could all use more of.
I also see courage in myself when I'm willing to risk being vulnerable and disappointed.
For many years, if I really wanted something to happen—an invitation to speak at a special conference, a promotion, a radio interview—I pretended that it didn't matter that much. If a friend or colleague would ask, "Are you excited about that television interview?" I'd shrug it off and say, "I'm not sure. It's not that big of a deal." Of course, in reality, I was praying that it would happen.
It's only been in the last few years that I've learned that playing down the exciting stuff doesn't take the pain away when it doesn't happen. It does, however, minimize the joy when it does happen. It also creates a lot of isolation. Once you've diminished the importance of something, your friends are not likely to call and say, "I'm sorry that didn't work out. I know you were excited about it."
Now when someone asks me about a potential opportunity that I'm excited about, I'm more likely to practice courage and say, "I'm so excited about the possibility. I'm trying to stay realistic, but I really hope it happens." When things haven't panned out, it's been comforting to be able to call a supportive friend and say, "Remember that event I told you about? It's not going to happen, and I'm so bummed."
I recently saw another example of ordinary courage at my son Charlie's preschool. Parents were invited to attend a holiday music presentation put on by the kids. You know the scene—twenty-five children singing with fifty-plus parents, grandparents, and siblings in the audience wielding thirty-nine video cameras. The parents were holding up cameras in the air and randomly snapping pictures while they scrambled to make sure that their kids knew they were there and on time.
In addition to all the commotion in the audience, one three-year-old girl, who was new to the class, cried her way through the entire performance because she couldn't see her mom from the makeshift stage. As it turns out, her mother was stuck in traffic and missed the performance. By the time her mother arrived, I was kneeling by the classroom door telling Charlie good-bye. From my low vantage point, I watched the girl's mother burst through the door and immediately start scanning the room to find her daughter. Just as I was getting ready to stand up and point her toward the back of the classroom where a teacher was holding her daughter, another mother walked by us, looked straight at this stressed mom, shook her head, and rolled her eyes.
I stood up, took a deep breath, and tried to reason with the part of me that wanted to chase after the better-than-you eye-rolling mom and kick her perfectly punctual ass.
Just then two more moms walked up to this now tearful mother and smiled. One of the mothers put her hand on top of the woman's shoulder and said, "We've all been there. I missed the last one. I wasn't just late. I completely forgot." I watched as the woman's face softened, and she wiped away a tear. The second woman looked at her and said, "My son was the only one who wasn't wearing pyjamas on PJ Day—he still tells me it was the most rotten day ever. It will be okay. We're all in the same boat."
By the time this mother made it to the back of the room where the teacher was still comforting her daughter, she looked calm. Something that I'm sure came in handy when her daughter lunged for her from about six feet away. The moms who stopped and shared their stories of imperfection and vulnerability were practicing courage. They took the time to stop and say, "Here's my story. You're not alone." They didn't have to stop and share; they could have easily joined the perfect-parent parade and marched right by her.
As these stories illustrate, courage has a ripple effect. Every time we choose courage, we make everyone around us a little better and the world a little braver. And our world could stand to be a little kinder and braver………
NOW THAT IS A WHOLE DIFFERENT TAKE ON THE SUBJECT OF COURAGE!
IT’S EVERYDAY COURAGE; WHAT WE NEED TO KEEP ON MOVING THROUGH EACH DAY; COURAGE TO FACE THE PROBLEMS AND DIFFICULTIES AND THE SLIP-UPS THAT HAPPEN TO ALL OF US AT TIMES.
IN THE SPIRITUAL CONTEXT, IT’S THE EVERYDAY COURAGE TO FACE THE FACT WE ARE STILL HUMAN WITH FLESH AND BLOOD ABILITY TO FALL, MESS-UP, TO SIN.
IT’S THE COURAGE TO ADMIT WE HAVE MISSED THE MARK, COME SHORT AS WE SAY, IN WORD, THOUGHT, AND DEED.
IT’S THE COURAGE TO HUMBLE OURSELVES, TO SAY WE HAVE SINNED.
“AND HE SPOKE THIS PARABLE UNTO CERTAIN WHICH TRUSTED IN THEMSELVES THAT THEY WERE RIGHTEOUS AND DESPISED OTHERS: TWO MEN WENT UP INTO THE TEMPLE TO PRAY; THE ONE A PHARISEE, AND THE OTHER A PUBLICAN. THE PHARISEE STOOD AND PRAYED THUS WITH HIMSELF— ‘GOD I THANK YOU THAT I AM NOT AS OTHER MEN ARE; EXTORTIONERS, UNJUST, ADULTERERS, OR EVEN AS THIS PUBLICAN. I FAST TWICE IN THE WEEK, I GIVE TITHES OF ALL THAT I POSSES.’
AND THE PUBLICAN, STANDING AFAR OFF, WOULD NOT LIFT UP SO MUCH AS HIS EYES UNTO HEAVEN, BUT SMOTE UPON HIS BREAST, SAYING, ‘GOD BE MERCIFUL TO ME A SINNER.’
I TELL YOU THIS MAN WENT DOWN TO HIS HOUSE JUSTIFIED RATHER THAN THE OTHER: FOR EVER ONE THAT EXALTS HIMSELF SHALL BE ABASED; AND HE THAT HUMBLES HIMSELF SHALL BE EXALTED” [LUKE 18: 9-14].
EVERYDAY COURAGE IS GOING BEFORE THE LORD AND ADMITTING YOU ARE A SINNER, THAT YOU DO THINGS YOU SHOULDN’T, AND DO NOT THINGS THAT YOU SHOULD BE DOING.
THIS THEN BRINGS US TO WHAT PAUL SAID IN ROMANS 7.
The Christian's struggle
12. Wherefore the law is holy, and the commandment holy, and just and good.
13. Was then that which is good made death onto me? God forbid. But sin, that it might appear sin, working death in me by that which is good; that sin by the commandment might become exceeding sinful.
14. For we know that the law is spiritual: but I am carnal, sold under sin.
15. For that which I do I allow not: for what I would, that do I not; but what I hate, that do I.
16. If then I do that which I would not, I consent unto the law that it is good.
17. Now then it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me.
18. For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not.
19. For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do.
20. Now if I do that I would not, it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me.
21. I find then a law, that, when I would do, good, evil is present with me
22. For I delight in the law of God after the inward man:
23. But I see another law in my members waring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members.
24 O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?
25 I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then with the mind I myself serve law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin.
THE GOAL FOR THE CHRISTIAN IS TO NOT SIN. BUT THE FACT IS WE DO AT TIMES—— LISTEN TO THE APOSTLE JOHN:
“IF WE SAY WE HAVE NO SIN, WE DECEIVE OURSELVES, AND THE TRUTH IS NOT IN US. IF WE CONFESS OUR SINS, HE IS FAITHFUL AND JUST TO FORGIVE OUR SINS, AND TO CLEANSE US FROM ALL UNRIGHTEOUSNESS [RIGHTEOUSNESS IS — PSALM 119:172 - Keith Hunt]. IF WE SAY WE HAVE NOT SINNED, WE MAKE HIM A LIAR, AND HIS WORD IS NOT IN US. MY LITTLE CHILDREN, THESE THINGS I WRITE UNTO YOU, THAT YOU SIN NOT [SIN IS BREAKING THE COMMANDMENTS OF GOD - 1 JOHN 3:4; ROMANS 7:7; JAMES 2: 10-12 - Keith Hunt]. AND IF ANY MAN SIN, WE HAVE AN ADVOCATE [INTERCESSOR] WITH THE FATHER, JESUS CHRIST THE RIGHTEOUS: AND HE IS THE PROPITIATION [ATONING SACRIFICE] FOR OUR SINS, AND NOT FOR OURS ONLY, BUT FOR THE SINS OF THE WHOLE WORLD” [1 JOHN 1:8-10; 2:1-2].
CHRISTIANS ARE COURAGEOUS TO BE EVER IN A REPENTANT ATTITUDE OF MIND, TO CONFESS THEY ARE SINNERS; THEN JESUS CHRIST AS OUR INTERCEDING HIGH PRIEST IN HEAVEN [READ THE BOOK OF HEBREWS] IS OUR ADVOCATE WITH THE FATHER; HIS SACRIFICE, HIS BLOOD, IS APPLIED TO OUR SINS; WE ARE FORGIVEN—— SO WE ARE EVER UNDER THE GRACE OF GOD.
WE CAN SAY WITH PAUL: “O WRETCHED MAN THAT I AM! WHO SHALL DELIVER ME FROM THIS BODY OF DEATH? I THANK GOD THROUGH JESUS CHRIST OUR LORD….” [ROMANS 7:24, 25].
SO TAKE COURAGE CHRISTIAN SAINTS—— WE HAVE VICTORY THROUGH CHRIST JESUS OUR SAVIOR!