Express His Glory in Your Life

Posts tagged ‘courage’

What Good is Praying?

The coming elections evoke much heated discussion.  Every hot button topic of society flares up as the issues boil down to the choice of one candidate.  This won’t be a piece on whom you should vote for or what you should consider.  It is a glimpse of how God works individually in the midst of our lost world.  That is the hope we must bring to the world because every political issue is a storm that obscures our view of souls precious to God.

Look for individual needs and seek the face of God.  Jesus ascended to the right hand of the Father….to pray!  What greater work can we undertake than imitating Him.  This is a call to prayer for we who wear the name Christian.  Prayer for one person at a time…prayer that God’s will be done in each and every life beginning with our own… Prayer is the key choice we must make no matter whom our nation elects.

I don’t know the global answers or the national answers, but I do know God speaks to us individually as we navigate our way through this fallen world.  The story below is one I wrote several years ago…the story of a Christian caught in a dilemma of conscience and career…a story of calling out to God.

I don’t need all the answers because I know the One who wrote the story…and its ending.  History unfolds every day; my choice is to go my own way or seek the direction of the Director.  Prayer–for myself, for others–links me up to the very heart of God.  When I don’t have a clue about the plan, I can have confidence in the Planner.

First published in The Baptist Voice, Conklin, NY, 2011

Because he hath set his love upon me, therefore will I deliver him: I will set him on high, because he hath known my name. (Psalms 91:14)

Our victory report today is of a devoted young Christian who came face-to-face with sacrificing her dreams to make a stand for Jesus Christ. Her personal courage and convictions join with the Lord’s work to provide us with an opportunity to rejoice.

The legality of abortion in America has created a dilemma for pro-life medical professionals. In many instances, the law requires one to set aside personal moral convictions. Jane understood the situation and actually chose a medical university located in a state with what is known as a ‘conscience law.’ This is a law that protects pro-life medical staff from being required to assist with any procedure they personally find morally objectionable (e.g. abortion). Sadly, Jane learned that the law is not necessarily extended to Christian medical students.

Well into her graduate studies, Jane was assigned to work in a family planning clinic. Recognizing that the stated requirement of ‘abortion counseling’ did not mean offering a pro-life viewpoint, Jane approached the Dean. He informed her that she was the only student who had ever objected based on moral concerns, and that the requirement would not be altered to accommodate her views. She was informed that failure to perform the duties assigned would result in a failing grade. Completing her education would be impossible. Praise God, He deals with the impossible perfectly!

With great trepidation, Jane prepared to work at the clinic—and to face the spiritual battlefield. Her family engaged prayer support through their church and internet chains; prayer for her courage to stand strong and for God to orchestrate the details perfectly. As Jane began her rotation, the dean firmly told her “leave your (moral) baggage at the door when you see patients…”

Jane’s plan was to approach the supervising physician directly with her concerns; however, the busyness of the clinic prevented any such private conversation. The first week passed in a whirl with no abortion-counseling situation arising. Rather than simply hope for the best for the duration of the rotation, Jane made the difficult decision to contact her Supervisor at home. Despite his reputation as a rather irascible individual, the doctor was gracious and supportive. A former Catholic, he respected her convictions and protected her from the obligation to provide abortion counseling! God provided the requested courage for Jane, managed the caseload she was assigned and worked in the heart of the supervising physician. God is faithful!

As Americans, we know our country was founded by individuals who were willing to sacrifice for their personal beliefs. What a joy to know the same depth of conviction lives on in a young American. Might we all support one another in prayers and by living with such integrity. We do not want a world that believes moral convictions can be ‘checked at the door.’ We need courage like Jane’s—we need to be prayer warriors!

Be a Hero Like Terri

Bible stories are not stories; they are history.  Every day we live, we write more history.  Stories of courage from Scripture are necessary for us to know…but sharing the stories of the faithful through the years has merit as well.  There are heroes of faith all around us.  One of my prayers with this little series is that you will share your stories–or the stories that inspire you!  Today, though, I want to point you to a blog I stumbled across.

Diary of a Quadriplegic

I have not met this lady, and she doesn’t know I am writing this column.  I suspect she is a hero to many more than me.  Her name is Terri Nida.  She tells her story with raw realness that never fails to humble me, challenge me–and encourage me.  Do go read it…my summary doesn’t convey the power of her story.

The short version is this:  in the midst of a ‘perfect life,’ she found herself in a pit of despair.  Longing to reconnect with the God she knew but had become distanced from, she fasted and prayed.   Just days before suffering a paralyzing injury, she wrote this on her Facebook Page:

Some life circumstances are not meant to be understood; the call is just to keep moving forward one step at a time. That’s called faith.

Terri Nida is a hero for me because she answered that call with faith in a sovereign, good God.  She continues to answer that call and share her journey with humble, hurting honesty.

“…Little did I know I was getting ready to take a journey with God that would teach me how to claw out of that well, inch by inch. When I woke up in the ICU a few days later, I suddenly had a desperate need for support from friends and family and a relationship with God. Thus I began my journey of physical, spiritual, and emotional healing….”

“Since I became a quadriplegic, I’ve kept the belief that God has a greater purpose in this than what I can see. I believe this with all my heart! And yet maneuvering through each individual day and through an odyssey of emotions as I face increased medical problems and visits to the hospital ICU, it’s been hard for me not to think of each day as a negative event. “

Courage is not the absence of fear and pain.  In fact, the absence of those things testifies to nothing really.  Praising God in the good times is not a sacrifice of praise.  Terri’s blog inspires me because she shares the treasures she has mined in darkness for those who have not trod the depths she has been called to.  She holds fast to confidence in God…and in His purpose for life…for every life.

Scripture tells us that faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God.  Go listen to Terri’s words because she has had to try the Word of God–and she finds it faithful.  A hero is one who lives the Word in a way that others can hear.  Heroes deliver hope and life through their lives.  The world needs more heroes.  Let Terri help you become a hero like her…one who knows the truth of Romans 8:35-38 because she lives it.

 

Faith Delivers. Fear Kills.

We know the story.  A dozen spies were sent into the Promised Land to check out what God had promised to give the Israelites.  Five-sixths (almost 85%) of the spies choked…they couldn’t believe the promise.  We are called to be different!

The majority chose fear over faith and brought a negative report back to the people.  Anything not of faith is fear–and fear kills.  Humanity is created for faith…designed for belief in the Creator who conquers all. 

Fear is irrational.  Listen to the spies:  “The land devours its inhabitants….the inhabitants are giants.”  What?!  If the land devours, how would the inhabitants be giant? The people couldn’t hear the inconsistencies because fear deafens. 

Today, the majority choose fear as well.  We need more leaders of courage, more heroes who choose faith.  Let’s look at what God had to say about one of the heroes from the ‘spy story.’

But My servant Caleb, because he has had a different spirit and has followed Me fully, I will bring into the land which he entered, and his descendants shall take possession of it.  Numbers 14:24

Faith is the vehicle that delivers the promises of God.

Caleb had a ‘different spirit’ — a faithful, fervent spirit that brought results.  As Christians, we need to be different. We need the courage that refuses to fear.  We need the courage that embraces challenges as opportunities for God to produce miracles.  We need the courage to go after the promises God makes, the blessings He offers.

Caleb was 40 when he went into the Promised Land.  The fearful spirit that the other spies allowed to overtake them infected the rest of the nation.  That led to forty years of desert wandering–and never entering the Promised Land for all but Caleb and Joshua.  But listen to Caleb 45 years later:

I am still as strong today as I was in the day Moses sent me; as my strength was then, so my strength is now, for war and for going out and coming in. Now then, give me this hill country about which the Lord spoke on that day, for you heard on that day that Anakim were there, with great fortified cities; perhaps the Lord will be with me, and I will drive them out as the Lord has spoken.  Joshua 14:11,12

Caleb experienced the faithfulness of God and knew the battles belonged to Him.  Even at 85, he was ready to take the land with the ‘giants.’  He knew the goodness of God and trusted that the results would be what was best.

A WORD ABOUT FACING GIANTS

There are two words I found for giant in these passages.  There are scholarly depths beyond my ability to plumb, but there is an exciting glimpse I feel I can share.  One of the words for the giants who dwelled in Caleb’s chosen land were called rapha.  That intrigued me because Jehovah Rapha is The LORD our Healer.  As I searched, I found the words are related–and the giant has an attribute of ‘invigorating.’ And the word, when used as healing speaks of restoration to the intended purpose.

So for my readers who are facing a giant in their life:  Be like Caleb.  Choose faith and watch God take that giant down.  Trust in His purposes of restoration and life-giving, and claim the promises of God.  Let that giant invigorate the faith of yourself and others.  Giants slain with faith are a source of freedom and life!

Heroes Giving Courage

Courage, like character, is caught through contact.  It  is learned through leadership that models, encourages and expects it from others.  Heroes matter.  We live in a world increasingly falling to fear.  As Christians, that ought not be.  Perfect love casts out all fear.  When we live in the love of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, there is nothing to fear, except as FDR once said, “fear itself.” Fearing fear is not an option for us as Christians.

Fear wreaks havoc in our lives; God created us to live with faith in Him, not fear of the future.  Fear actually creates damage in our brains…in our bodies. There are legitimate things to fear…but we are not to fear the fear!  We are more than conquerors through Christ who loves us!  We are to live in victorious faith that delivers health.

Sharing the testimonies of victory in Christ is one way to glorify God and encourage one another.

What testimonies encourage you?  What is YOUR testimony that needs to be told?

Christ, of course, is the greatest hero of all time.  Even He looked up to another.  Christ never did anything outside of the will of the Father.  Following the Father’s will takes a lot of courage.  It called Christ to leave the perfect paradise of heaven to be born in a barn–and be rejected by the very people He came to rescue.  Heroes don’t do things for applause–they do them because it is who they are.

Too many of our earthly heroes perform for praise; how sad for them.  The praise of people is unstable.  Popularity waxes and wanes…and eventually death deafens the praise anyway.  Performers are not heroes who help us live better.  We need more than that.

Examples of courage abound…in and out of the realm of Christianity.  Every person is made in the image of God…and that image is glorious.   Many who never profess Christ as their hero live with character and courage.  As Christians, we owe every courageous person a debt of gratitude because their example is of great value to those of us seeking to live for Christ.  Cowards cannot do the work of the King.

In the coming weeks, I will be sharing stories of the victories of faith…stories to inspire courage.  I invite you to share yours as well.  You can share in writing, or we can set up a time for an interview.  Let’s work together to give glory to God by giving the good reports that we need as we walk through this world!

 

 

 

What’s it look like in heaven?

Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.  Matthew 6:10

Jesus used this statement in the model prayer.  It is part of the pattern He used to teach us to pray.  It’s been prayed for centuries.  There’s some assumptions in that pattern we are blessed to unpack.

First, Heaven is a busy place…the will of God is the motivation for all the action.  Jesus modeled that in His life.  He did only what the Father said and did.  He said He could do nothing on His own.

Then, that the will of God is…or can be known…is another implication of this verse.   I attend a church that exhorts us to ‘look into heaven, find out what God says about whatever you are facing and go do it.’

In a recent class, a profound question was asked:

What can I expect to see when I look in heaven?

Well, that is just too fun of a place to camp!  I couldn’t resist digging into it and share

Entering Heaven

Art is by Pat Marvenko Smith, copyright 1992. To order art prints visit her “Revelation Illustrated” site, http://www.revelationillustrated.com

some thoughts–and hopefully get some of yours to enjoy as well.  So, let’s go!

The physical attributes of heaven are not where my mind naturally goes.  Pat Marvenko Smith is an incredible artist who digs deep into Scripture and paints directly from the Word.  I love her stuff and have shared a glimpse to the right.  Take some time and visit her website for that angle: Revelation Illustrated.  You will enjoy it!

For me, that question sends my heart on a quest to find what is in heaven that will help me live out the Father’s will here.

“Only one life, it will soon be passed. 

Only what’s done for Jesus will last.”

is part of what drives me to seek to see heaven.  The other pressure that makes my heart cry for heavenly vision is the weight of seeing individuals broken and maimed from life.  I know Jesus is always the answer…but I can’t always see HOW He is the answer.  Pressing in to see heaven opens vistas of hope for me–and for me to share.

I believe God longs for us to press in to heaven.  He wants us to ask hard questions–He wants us to know His heart.  A verse in Micah (and quoted in other locations) outlines what I find in heaven.  I find His ways, His heart and His glory.  I love looking into heaven!

He has told you, O man, what is good; And what does the Lord require of you
But to do justice, to love kindness, And to walk humbly with your God.

Micah 6:8

To do justice is to know–and render into this world–the verdicts God has already declared.  It reminds me of the verses in Matthew that say bind (and loose) what is already bound (or loosed) in heaven.  We only see in Heaven what God has revealed in the Word.  Being diligent students of the Holy Bible is a vital need for any who long to peer into heaven.

To love kindness goes a step beyond simply knowing the Word.  The Pharisees knew the Law but they didn’t understand the heart of love inherent in every word.  There are a lot of Pharisees today, too.  Being touched personally by the Word is another vital need for those who want to see into heaven.  The personal application of the Law — knowing that the Word is said to ME and knowing that I fall so short — leads me to LOVE kindness.  My desperate need for the kindness of God comes into start view when I spend time looking to Him.

And when I know how God works and what He is like, walking humbly is all I can do.  He is God and I am not!  Spending time peering into heaven makes that so abundantly clear.  Walking out what He shows me when I am in heaven completes what God requires of me.  I am not to be a Dead Sea that receives without giving!

So, what do I find when I look into heaven?

I find a righteous and holy God who created everything from His wisdom and love.  I find a God who allows suffering because it is the most merciful act available in some cases.  I find a God unafraid of establishing–and maintaining boundaries.  I find a God who loves me more than I love myself…who loves the ones I love with greater faithfulness and wisdom than I love.  When I look into heaven, I find the answers to the hurts in my heart–and the harm I see done in the world.  And I find the courage to share what I find with others.

I could go on and on…and so can you.  There are eternal treasures in heaven…some are yours to find and share.  Some are mine to find and share.  They are the inheritance Jesus came to give to those who would believe in Him.  They are our shared riches.  What has He been showing you?!

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