From the Pastor
Pastor Mike Burns
903.567.2072 (Ext. 3002)
Living Strong: Courage Needed Now!
Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be men of courage; be strong. Do everything in love. (1 Cor 16:13-14) NIV.
The Prussian king, Frederick the Great, was widely known as an agnostic. By contrast, General Von Zealand, one of his most trusted officers, was a devout Christian. Thus it was that during a festive gathering the king began making crude jokes about Christ until everyone was rocking with laughter—all but Von Zealand, that is. Finally, he arose and addressed the king:
“Sire, you know I have not feared death. I have fought and won 38 battles for you. I am an old man; I shall soon have to go into the presence of One greater than you, the mighty God, who saved me from my sin, the Lord Jesus Christ whom you are blaspheming. I salute you, sire, as an old man who loves his Savior, on the edge of eternity.”
The place went silent, and with a trembling voice the king replied, “General Von Zealand, I beg your pardon! I beg your pardon!” And with that, the party quietly ended.
The Original Roget’s Thesaurus of English Words and Phrases lists boldness and fearlessness as synonyms of courage, but courage often exists in spite of the presence of fear. In fact, it is probably true that courage is doing what one is afraid to do. Indeed, courage is the capacity to resist fear, to master it, not its absence. Thus, courage is that quality of the heart or mind that gives one the ability to encounter danger and difficulty with firmness and resolve in spite of the presence of fear. “Courage is being scared to death but saddling up anyway.”
The apostle Paul was not one who courted danger nor did he presume upon the Lord. As one who tenaciously pursued the will of God, Paul was always willing to move forward into danger if he was convinced it was God’s will or that it was right even though his heart might have been gripped with fear.
1 Corinthians 2:1-2 When I came to you, brothers and sisters, I did not come with superior eloquence or wisdom as I proclaimed the testimony of God. 2 For I decided to be concerned about nothing among you except Jesus Christ, as one who had been crucified. 3 And I was with you in weakness and in fear and in much trembling.
But not all men are courageous by nature and that fact is both explicit and implicit in Scripture. The highest degree of courage is seen in the person who is most fearful but refuses to capitulate to it. However fearful they might have been, God’s leaders in succeeding generations have been commanded to be of good courage. Had they been without fear, the command would have been pointless.
C. S. Lewis wrote, “Courage is not simply one of the virtues but the form of every virtue at the testing point, which means at the point of highest reality.” Without courage, men and women will fail to love, to sacrifice, to count the cost, to tackle the challenges or take on the responsibilities that God calls them to.
Undoubtedly, one cause of remaining immature and one of the shortest routes to ineffectiveness is to run scared, to be overly cautious, to play it close to the vest. Unless, through the courage of faith, we are willing to saddle up, we will simply remain in the corral and miss the growth experiences and fruitfulness of the open range.
How much better to take on a few ornery bears and lions, like David did. They ready us for giants like Goliath. How much more thrilling to step out into the Red Sea like Moses and watch God part the waters.… How much more interesting to set sail for Jerusalem, like Paul, “not knowing what will happen to me there,” than to spend one’s days in monotonous Miletus, listening for footsteps and watching dull sunsets. Guard your heart from over protection.
It is the God-breathed, inerrant, and infallible revelation of God in Scripture that provides us with the greatest means of courage. Read it. Study it. Live it.
Romans 15:4 For everything that was written in former times was written for our instruction, so that through endurance and through encouragement of the scriptures we may have hope.
On to Victory,
Published on Friday, January 16, 2015 @ 1:49 PM CDT