Glimpses of grace seen in the everyday

Posts tagged ‘courage’

Portraits of Integrity—or otherwise

Looking for a good definition of integrity in an effort to define it for my granddaughter sent me to the dictionaries.  Here’s what I came up with as a summary: 

Having strong moral principles (such as honesty) and refusing to change, doing the same as what you say.

A few recent news items strikingly illustrate the presence or lack of integrity in some public figures:

1. “If our faith costs us a television show then so be it.”  David & Jason Benham, whose show was cancelled when it was discovered that they are pro-life and support marriage between one man and one woman.

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2.  Governor Bobby Jindal of Louisiana:  Inevitably during these interviews they say something like this – “you are a smart guy, we know you went to Brown and were a Rhodes Scholar, so tell me, how is it that you call yourself pro-life, and you say that you oppose gay marriage, and you say that you oppose gun control? You just say that stuff to get elected in the Deep South right?”

So of course, l liked to have a little fun with it, so I would lean over the desk, and in hushed tones, pretending to confide in him or her, I would say – well…just between us, do me a favor, go tell your editors the bad news, tell them that I absolutely believe everything I say. As you can imagine, those interviews ended rather abruptly.

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3.  Senator Mark Kirk of Illinois, in a conversation with blogger Bryan Kemper:

He talked about how important the human trafficking issue is to him and how he has vowed to fight it….Then I asked him a single question: how do you vote on pro-life issues? He smiled and said he voted on the opposite side as me.

I first asked him how he could justify saying that he wants to protect young children from being trafficked but then vote to allow killing them in their mother’s womb…He tried to say he was just being wise because he knows how liberal politics are in Illinois and he needed to keep his seat…So I asked him if keeping that seat was more important to him than doing what is right? I asked if he would be willing to lose it if he could end child trafficking and he said no.

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My pastor said this morning as part of his sermon on powerlessness:  “People addicted to power have already lost their integrity.”

I’d rather have Jesus than silver or gold
I’d rather be His than have riches untold
I’d rather have Jesus than houses or lands
I’d rather be led by His nail pierced hands

Than to be a king of a best domain
And be held in sin’s dread sway
I’d rather have Jesus
Than anything this world affords today

I’d rather have Jesus than worldly applause
I’d rather be faithful to His dear cause
I’d rather have Jesus than worldwide fame
Yes, I’d rather be true to His holy name

Than to be a king of a best domain
And be held in sin’s dread sway
I’d rather have Jesus
Than anything this world affords today
Read more at http://www.songlyrics.com/george-beverly-shea/i-d-rather-have-jesus-lyrics/#2qCQ8AXlFiT8iR0m.99

I’d rather have Jesus than silver or gold
I’d rather be His than have riches untold
I’d rather have Jesus than houses or lands
I’d rather be led by His nail pierced hands

Than to be a king of a best domain
And be held in sin’s dread sway
I’d rather have Jesus
Than anything this world affords today

I’d rather have Jesus than worldly applause
I’d rather be faithful to His dear cause
I’d rather have Jesus than worldwide fame
Yes, I’d rather be true to His holy name

Than to be a king of a best domain
And be held in sin’s dread sway
I’d rather have Jesus
Than anything this world affords today
Read more at http://www.songlyrics.com/george-beverly-shea/i-d-rather-have-jesus-lyrics/#2qCQ8AXlFiT8iR0m.99

I’d rather have Jesus than silver or gold
I’d rather be His than have riches untold
I’d rather have Jesus than houses or lands
I’d rather be led by His nail pierced hands

   Than to be a king of a vast domain
   Or be held in sin’s dread sway
   I’d rather have Jesus
   Than anything this world affords today

I’d rather have Jesus than worldly applause
I’d rather be faithful to His dear cause
I’d rather have Jesus than worldwide fame
Yes, I’d rather be true to His holy name

By George Beverly Shea, Rhea Miller

Hear it here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u62uYEssk7o

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The Secret of Courage

We all know about David’s victory over Goliath (1 Samuel chapter 17).  But I am struck with the parallels between this and Jonathan’s daring assault on the Philistines which took place before that (chapter 14).

In both cases, King Saul (Jonathan’s dad) was paralyzed with fear in the face of the threatening Philistine army on one side and his own demoralized and dwindling troops on the other.  Twiddling his thumbs and wringing his hands, he was taken unaware when Jonathan took the initiative in an act of faith.  And it was the same scenario when David appeared on the scene in answer to Goliath’s challenge.

I love their bold statements:

Jonathan (to his armor bearer):  “Let’s go across to the outpost of those pagans.  Perhaps the LORD will help us, for nothing can hinder the LORD. He can win a battle whether he has many warriors or only a few!”  (14:6)

David (to Goliath):  “You come to me with sword, spear, and javelin, but I come to you in the name of the LORD … whom you have defied. Today the LORD will conquer you, and I will kill you and cut off your head… And everyone assembled here will know that the LORD rescues his people, but not with sword and spear. This is the LORD’s battle, and he will give you to us!”  (17:45-47)

The result? 

Jonathan and his companion killed 20 Philistines.  The rest panicked and fled, and God sent an earthquake to further terrorize them.

David killed Goliath.  The whole Philistine army fled and was totally devastated.

Jonathan recognized in David a man who, like him, who was totally sold out to the God who alone is victorious against all odds.  May I follow in their footsteps today, on God’s side and taking each step confident in His guidance, protection, provision and power.

Memorial Day Musings

A few days ago I watched what might be my first-ever Memorial Day parade.  It was pretty solemn at first as the reminders of our heroes passed by—both those who gave their lives for our freedom and those who lived on.  Then the bands came with stirring anthems of the “home of the brave,” “land of the noble free.”  Truly these are beautiful sentiments, but are we brave?  Are we noble?  Do we really value our freedom?  Are we willing to be the kind of people who have the courage and determination to maintain our freedom? 

We are still watching the DVD series on World War II, and I continue to be amazed at the commitment of the commitment of those who fought to maintain and regain freedom for their own loved ones and others.  Would we be willing to pay the cost today, or would we rather give in and be ruled by tyrants?

God have mercy on our nation!  Give us courage and commitment to believe, support, and do what is right and true!

A Modern-Day Daniel

I’ve mentioned Daniel recently in my blog, but he comes to mind again as I think of the courageous stand the Greens, of Hobby Lobby, are taking. 

Like Daniel, they have strong convictions about what God, in His holiness, requires and what He despises.  Daniel and his friends had to make decisions about       

–whether to eat the king’s non-kosher food (chapter 1)
–whether to worship the king’s image (chapter 3)
— whether to worship the king instead of God (chapter 6).

In each case they respectfully refused to be pressured into doing what the government required, choosing to obey God regardless of dire consequences.  And God honored them, using them as showcases of His power and sovereignty to the king and his officials.  In their case, He rescued them from a fiery furnace and from hungry lions.

I thank God for the Greens who are standing as a modern-day Daniel, as a light on a hilltop being viewed by everyone (Mt 5:14-15).  May God bless them and use them to encourage us all to stand for what is right regardless of whatever the consequences may be.

I was deeply moved by a news article yesterday: “Please know that God is good to His church,” one Egyptian Christian said at an interdenominational prayer meeting of more than 10,000 people. “We are really blessed and see this time of tension as a chance for us to work for the Kingdom of God.” 

Maranatha!

Effective Leadership—by Lies or Truth?

A very successful leader shared the keys to his success:

Men do not think.
Make the lie big.
Make it simple; keep it simple.
Keep saying it.
Eventually they will believe it.

This was Hitler’s secret.

Only 10% of the German citizens actively supported him.  Others stood by, watched and kept silent, avoiding the uncomfortable truth until it was too late.  As they heard the screams of trainloads of Jews headed for extermination, they just sang their hymns louder to drown them out, feeling that there was nothing they could do.

Where are we on this cycle?

Bondage > Spiritual Faith > Courage > Liberty > Abundance > Complacency   > Apathy > Dependence > and back to Bondage

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Hitler’s key was lies; may our key be truth and integrity,
no matter what it costs us! 
Let’s keep this standard for ourselves and for our leaders, by God’s help!

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Source:  New York Times best-selling author Andy Andrews’ book “How Do You Kill 11 Million People?” via www.youtube.com/watch?v=mDKcF—1hEc

Daniel for Our Day

Reading a book of the Bible in one sitting gives amazing perspective.  A view of the forest which we miss out on if we dive in prematurely. (Pardon the mixed metaphor.) The book of Daniel has amazing messages for today.  No, I’m not thinking primarily of all the prophesies with their strange creatures and the endless back-and-forth battles of the kings of the North and the South. 

Daniel is well-known in Sunday School stories, especially for his escape from the lion’s den and his friends’ from the fiery furnace.  But what is the significance of these stories and how do they fit together with each other and the other chapters of this book?  Too often “Bible stories” are told without showing how they fit into God’s one great story.

So what is Daniel all about?  Think of the three tests of faithfulness—refusing to eat the king’s food, worship the king’s image, or pray to the king instead of to God. 

Think of the three kings of this book who were forced to acknowledge that their power was nothing compared to God’s.  That their kingdoms could be removed like a puff of dust in the face of God’s eternal kingdom and almighty sovereignty which will demolish and outlast them all. 

This encourages me today when faced with arrogant rulers or powerful pressures to conform.  Like Daniel, I am a citizen of that Eternal Kingdom that will outlast them all.  I determine to be courageous and faithful like he was. 

Standing by a purpose true,
Heeding God’s command,
Honor them, the faithful few!
All hail to Daniel’s band!

Dare to be a Daniel,
Dare to stand alone!
Dare to have a purpose firm!
Dare to make it known.

The First Test

A man of courage, principle and prayer—Daniel.  He’s been brought to my attention both in my work (checking a translation of that book) and in our pastor’s sermon today. 

Daniel and his friends passed through a series of tests to see whether they would stay true to God or cave in to pressure.  Most well-known of these are the fiery furnace experience that followed their refusal to worship an idol, and the lions’ den experience that followed Daniel’s faithfulness to the outlawed practice of prayer.

But maybe the very first test was the most crucial—the matter of their diet. These young men had just been kidnapped from their home in Judah and brought far away to Babylon to be trained for service in the king’s court.  And here was this great food being served up for them.  Woops!  Not kosher. Just a small thing?  Not for them.  These young men had been carefully taught values that stayed with them even when they left home. If they had caved in under the pressure of this one thing, would they have had the gumption later on to refuse to bow to an idol?   

I pray that I, and those I love, will be strong in the “little things” and then strengthened by that to stand firm when the bigger tests come.  May we be people of prayer and faithfulness, courage and conviction!

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