Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Courageous Christians

Chuckle:  Counterfeiters (kown'-ter-fit'-ers):  Workers who put together kitchen cabinets
Quote:  "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." --C.S. Lewis Quoted Cyril Connolly
    "Be on guard.  Stand true to what you believe.  Be courageous.  Be strong.  And everything you do must be done with love" (1 Corinthians 16:13 NLT).
The Dictionary defines courage as "being able to control one's fear and so to face danger, pain, or trouble willingly; bravery."  Here, Paul encourages the Corinthians to be alert and on guard against spiritual adversaries and the danger they represent.  He reminds them to stand firm in their faith and to be courageous and strong and to show kindness and love in all their interpersonal relationships.  These words of encouragement are badly needed by Christians today.
It seems that every day brings another threat to our peace of mind and sense of well-being.  If it isn't international terror, it's domestic crime in the form of identity theft, car-jacking, home invasions, and assorted other dangers that threaten us.  Add to these the fear associated with the onset of a serious life-threatening illness and facing the reality of our own mortality.  These and other threats to our peace and happiness give us plenty of reasons to be fearful, and courage is required in dealing with them. 
As Christians, another great fear can come from the growing opposition to Christianity and the erosion of religious freedoms both here in our beloved country as well as abroad.  In our passage, the apostle Paul instructs us to be a people of great courage and strength.  The ideal for Christians, when it comes to courage, includes a quality of life based on our faith in the ever-present Spirit of Jesus Christ.  Here there is no "grin and bear it" helpless attitude, but a more natural and proactive one which can see opportunity in every challenge and victory in every instance of opposition or persecution.
Courage is not only a duty for Christians but also a constant possibility because we have placed our lives in the almighty hands of God.  It makes itself evident through patient endurance, moral consistency, infectious optimism and spiritual fidelity.  "If God is for us, who can be against us?"  (Romans 8:32 NIV). 
Love, Jerry & Dotse        

Monday, April 22, 2013

Future Generations

Chuckle:  When the Duke of Windsor was asked what impressed him most in America, he replied, "the way American parents obey their children."
Good Quote:  "When Christians are safe and comfortable, the church is in its greatest danger" --William Arthur Ward
    "Future generations will also serve him.  Our children will hear about the wonders of the Lord.  His righteous acts will be told to those yet unborn.  They will hear about everything he has done" (Psalm 22:30-31 NLT).
Whether we're speaking of physical life or spiritual life, healthy societies are highly concerned about the well-being of their future generations.  They willingly sacrifice today to make for a better tomorrow for their children and grandchildren.  I wonder if our society has lost its way in this area. 
We tend to be a self-centered people who want everything to fulfill our own selfish desires, and we want it right now.  We see parents who couldn't care less about preparing their children for their future as long as their own selfish appetites are being satisfied today.  Socrates said to the people of Athens: "Why do you turn and scrape every stone to gather wealth and take so little care of your children to whom one day you will relinquish all?"
I have often heard statements like: "The church is only one generation away from extinction."  Such a statement reflects concern that today's Christians are being negligent in reaching and teaching the next generation of believers.  If you and I don't teach our children and grandchildren the things of God, who will?  If not now, when?  In our passage, the Psalmist was confident that God's people would be faithful from generation to generation to proclaim the wonders of God and His righteous.  I wonder, is his confidence justified in our time? 
The spiritual well-being of yet unborn generations depends upon our faithfulness today.  It is God's desire that each generation teach the next; but if we fail to teach our children about the Lord, we risk breaking the chain of God's influence in the generations to come.  When we look into the faces of children and teenagers, we see the future leaders in Christianity and our society.  Are you and I being faithful in teaching our children and grandchildren the things of God?  Are you actively trying to lead them to a saving faith in Jesus Christ?  
If we expect our children and grandchildren to grow up serving the Lord, they need to hear about Him from us by our words and the way we live.  We should not rely solely on pastors, Sunday School teachers, or others with more knowledge than we to provide their Christian education.  They need to hear it from us in the home.  "Teach your children to choose the right path, and when they are older, they will remain upon it"  (Proverbs 22:6 NLT).  How are you and I doing? 
Love, Jerry & Dotse