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.

—ERNEST HEMINGWAY2



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——


QUOTE:

Wholehearted Living


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.


Digging Deep


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


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………


END  QUOTE


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!



Keith Hunt