Wednesday, February 27, 2013

But What Can I Do? by Frank Black

          In the last piece I wrote I asked the question, “Are You Persecuted?”  If you read that and followed my reasoning, my conclusion was that, “Yes, today we (Christians and Christianity) are persecuted.”  I said that in our country we aren’t physically persecuted or punished, but that ours comes in the realm of spiritual and psychological persecution.  Virtually every day in the news I learn of events or decisions that are spiritually and psychologically painful. What am I talking about?  I’m talking about so many of our Biblical beliefs being diametrically opposite to the moral direction of our country – yet being approved or even flaunted by too many [see my list from the previous article – October 2012].  I’m speaking about Christianity being “squelched”; put down; belittled; excluded; and believers being called narrow, old fashioned, intolerant, prejudiced, bigots, or worse.


          This gradual, relentless assault on non-Christian values seems to have many in the Christian world stymied. The “name calling” causes many of us to “back off” and be silent.  Perhaps we are fearful; perhaps embarrassed; perhaps we don’t know what to say or how to respond; perhaps we think these ideas will pass; perhaps we are depending on others to ‘defend’ Christianity.  At any rate, in being loving and ‘tolerant’ of those with a different standard (non-Biblical), it makes us appear weak.  Likewise in “turning the other cheek” and not responding in a timely and proper manner, we add to the perception of weakness.  Being silent on issues can be interpreted in several ways by the “world”:  1) That we agree with the world’s position [tacit agreement].  2)  That we don’t really care  3) That our position is weak, and we and don’t know how to defend it.


          In a speech by Dr. Ben Carson at the February 2013 National Prayer Breakfast, he decried the “PC” concept [that of being “politically correct”].  He said that being PC stymied free speech.  He said it was dangerous, for it took away our freedom of expression – in effect it muzzles people.  We Christians must be strong and courageous, while prayerfully and forthrightly confronting the world, when people and institutions and laws run contrary to God’s principles.  We must speak up!  We are God’s witnesses – His ambassadors. The very Holy Spirit of God will help us with the very words to say.  We must look for the opportunities and supply the desire, the will, the confidence, and the action.

I look forward to Greg York’s upcoming lessons.  In an introductory lesson yesterday [2/24/13], he set the stage for discussing specific matters which seem to be in the domain I’ve been discussing.  Stay tuned!  




  1. Regularly pray for our nation and our leaders.
  2. Pray for yourself!  Pray for wisdom, for courage, for recognizing the opportunities to speak up, for the words to say [as mentioned above], and then:
  3.  SPEAK  UP !!

[Several scriptures fit in here specifically:  Romans 8:26-7; I Peter 3:15; Colossians 4:6]. 

Start with your family, friends, the work place, etc. [in your ‘world’ –   your environment]

  1. Keep abreast of current events and happenings. Listen, read, and learn from other Christians who can help you better understand and how to better approach the situations – even with the words to say.
  2. Help support Christian leadership – those who may have a wider Christian voice.
  3. Some of you may have the opportunity to speak to groups; to write; etc.  -  Look for opportunities and then Do It !
  4. VOTE !  Tell others who you are voting for and why.  Some of you may choose to become more politically active.
  5. Some of you may wish to join various groups that support Christian values.  This would open other doors for you to be an ambassador.
  6. Look to become examples for others and leaders yourselves: to help others learn to keep abreast; to pray; to be a witness for Christianity; to speak up; to let all their actions ‘speak’ for Christianity.
  7. …….  Keep adding to the list …….


Conclusion: Don’t lose heart.  We will win!  Christianity will win.  It has stood the test of time and will continue to do so.  We may lose some battles, but we will win!  The victory is ours.  (I Cor. 15:57)

F. Black – Feb. 2013
Link to Frank's previous article: Are You Persecuted?

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Turning the World Upside Down by Dale Robinson



I was reminded this week while reading the story of a first-century Christian why the early church was so successful in “turning the world upside down” (Acts 17:6).

The story is about a man named Trophimus who lived in a little house by the side of the road just outside the city of Ephesus.  There he humbly witnessed to the love and goodness of Jesus through various expressions of hospitality.  As weary travelers passed by, he would offer them a cool drink of water from his well and fresh bread from his oven.  Quite often those who passed later in the day were offered a place to rest for the night.

One evening three Roman soldiers stopped at his home.  Trophimus asked about their journey, and the soldiers explained that they were under the orders of the Roman emperor himself to find a violent and dangerous man named Trophimus.  As they explained, Trophimus was suspected of sedition because of his refusal to bow before the image of the emperor and give his allegiance.  They were sent with instructions to find him and execute him on the spot.

Trophimus told them they didn’t need to go any further.  They could rest for the night and he would deliver the dangerous Trophimus to them in the morning.  And so he fed the soldiers and gave them a place to rest for the night.

While the three Romans soldiers slept, Trophimus went to the small flower garden behind his house and dug his grave.  The next morning after the soldiers had eaten and refreshed themselves, Trophimus said to them, “Come with me, and I will deliver into your hands this Christian, Trophimus.”

He led them to the flower garden and, standing by the open grave, he said, “You seek the Christian Trophimus?  I that speak to you am he.  I but ask that you bury me in the midst of my flowers.”  And he bowed his head for the stroke of the sword.

Antiquity gives us many such stories of Christians who out-lived, out-died, and out-loved those around them.  No wonder they turned the world upside down.  They lived by a set of values that were contrary to the world’s values, remembering the words of their master, “Love those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you” (Luke 6:27-28).

Jesus taught that the power of a life lived under the rule of God is like a mustard seed or like yeast (Matthew 13:31-33).  Though small, both grow quietly and steadily until their influence is unmistakable.

Small beginnings.  Humble service.  Quiet submission.  Confident testimony.  Powerful faith.  These things changed the world in the first century.  They still change the world today.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Mountain Out of a Molehill by Chris Kirby

Mountain Out of a Molehill

This past Saturday I was watching the kids while Jill was gone for a work thing all day.  I was also sick with the worst symptom being a pesky case of Laryngitis.  Needless to say, not having a strong voice makes keeping up with our two little angels slightly more challenging.  You ever tried to say something with authority when your voice is weak?  You sound so convincing.  Going places is no good because it’s hard to keep up with the kids and speak to other people.  Staying around the house gets draggy because reading isn’t much fun and neither is playing games in which you have to speak much. 

However, one game that keeps Jack and Tatum entertained for long stretches and uses minimal voice is Hide and Seek.    We play in the upstairs of our house which consists of 3 bed rooms, a couple of baths, a playroom and a few closets.  Combined with my size, that makes for limited places to hide.  But, it’s fun to pop out of a closet and “scare them”, act surprised when Tatum jumps up from the same spot every time she hides, and pretend that Jack won’t be able to see me standing behind a curtain.  It made for a great way to pass some time that morning.  After we played, we ate lunch and Tatum took her nap.

After the nap was over, I was busy finishing something in Jack’s room when I hear some knocking and a very distressed sounding two year old coming from another room.  I go to see what the emergency is.  Evidently, Tatum was using our recently implemented skills of hiding behind closed doors from that morning to hole herself away in our room.  The only problem is that she doesn’t quite have the height and strength yet to reopen a door that requires a nob to be turned. So, after realizing I wasn’t coming to “seek”, she started calling for daddy to come save the day. As I opened the door, relief comes over her.  She gives me a quick hug, a “tanks Dadee”, and shoots down the hall.  I assume she’s headed to “play” with Jack (aka, see how fast she can destroy the current Lego project).  I go back to finish what I was working on.  Crisis averted. 

However, no more than 2 minutes later I hear “Dadee, Dadee."  Knocking is coming from down the hall and Jack comes to inform me that Tatum has indeed trapped herself again.  Notice how helpful he is… He doesn’t help her out, he is just the informant.  Had we still been officially playing Hide and Seek, it would have been a champion’s move.  She was stuck in the bathroom this time.  I go and open the door for her again.  She gives me her little smirk and another “tanks Dadee!”  Once again, I get to be the hero.  I make the suggestion she not close anymore doors she can’t open.  She agrees with an “otay Dadee” and goes and plays for a few minutes while I finish my project. 

You know, these little moments are awesome as a dad.  I get to laugh at how silly my two year old is at the same time as having my heart melt realizing that I am still her hero because of a simple little thing like releasing her from a self-made bathroom prison.  It also gives me a chance to have a tiny little glimpse of what we must look like to God.  Particularly the second time I had to “rescue” her, I was thinking just how funny it is that Tatum put herself right back in the same situation that I’d just saved her from less than 5 minutes before.  Shouldn’t she know better? I also thought it was funny just how desperate she sounded at trying to open the door.  It was a huge obstacle for her.  But, it was so easy for me to help her out of the situation she was confined by.  Even if she’d accidently locked door, I could have had her out in a matter of seconds with the little screwdriver key. 

While I chuckled to myself, I did stop and wonder how many times God looks at us and just shakes his head at some of the obstacles that we perceive to be trapped by.   To God the solution is as simple as opening a door.  His promises are huge for us!  Even in things that seem big to us, Jesus gives promises of provision such as in Matthew 6:25-34 when He calls us to seek God and he will provide the other concerns in life.  We see in 2 Corinthians 4:7-9 that even in the hardships that may come with faith, there are assurances of hope from God.  Throughout the Old Testament we see examples of God leading his people against overwhelming odds.  I love the scene in Joshua 3 where the people of God find themselves in what seems an impassable moment.  They found themselves trying to figure out how to cross the Jordan River.  (It was at flood stage.  A river is hard to cross without a bridge or a boat right?  And, at flood stage, even a small river becomes dangerous.)  But, God simply held back the water and His people crossed on a dry river bed.  Obstacle gone.  On the other side, the Israelites stopped and said a “Tanks Dadee” (very loose interpretation) in a special occasion of worship to remember God’s provision to overcome this challenge. It’s a powerful scene to remind us of God’s love and desire to be THE Hero for his children.    

We all have obstacles in life.  Some of them are rather small and some are bigger in our eyes.  But, if we remember that any obstacle in front of us appears simple in the eyes of God, we can have the ability to approach those challenges with confidence, assurance, and use them as faith building experiences! 

Thursday, February 7, 2013

A Patient Listener by Terry Gardner

A Patient Listener

By Terry Gardner


Connie and I were on a long drive back from scenic Tennessee a few days ago and we were discussing patience.  Specifically my patience and areas where I had improved but more importantly areas where I still have a ways to go (maybe a long ways).  James wrote, “This you know, my beloved brethren.  But everyone must be quick to hear, slow to speak and slow anger; for the anger of man does not achieve the righteousness of God.” James 1:19-20.  Patiently listening is a big challenge for me.

It takes patience to listen to others and to understand their point of view.  Men often want to cut to the bottom line.  Women (and some men too) like to give you all the details in living color!  I am not patient in listening to the all the details and this is not an area in which I have improved much over the years, indeed, I may be advancing backwards!

Why don’t we listen to others?  I don’t know about you but I’ll suggest some of the flaws I see in my own character in this area including (but not limited to) the following:

1.  My time is more valuable than your time.  At least that is in the back of my mind sometimes when I am not focused on listening.  How do you feel when you are talking about a subject that is important to you but the person you are talking to is a million miles away?  How many wives have had that experience with their husbands?  If you want to be successful in life, learn to listen to each person as though they were the most important person in the world and you will go far.

2.  I don’t value the knowledge of the person speaking.  R. L. Whiteside was an early president of Abilene Christian University and one of the finest scholars of his generation.  While living in Abilene he became acquainted with G. W. Harvey and wrote of him that, “he was, I think, the wisest uneducated man I ever knew.  He was uneducated according to world standards, yet one day he said to me, ‘Ain’t it hard to get people to be as gentle, and considerate, and forbearing as they ought to be without their becoming so soft they ain’t no account.’  Think on that.  Can you be gentle without being tame, considerate without being soft, forbearing without being tolerant of wrong?  And someone remarked that it is hard to get people to be firm and steadfast in their attitude toward the truth without their becoming so dogmatic they are nuisances.”  Every human being has something to teach us, if we will listen.

3.  I’d rather talk than listen.  Some years ago I asked an acquaintance of mine why he became a preacher.  His reply was, “Well, I figured if I have to go to Church, I’d rather do the talking than the listening.”  The Jews that James addressed were like my acquaintance.  They wanted to talk when they needed to be listening.  James wanted them to be swift to the listen to the Word of God.  However, when we hear God clearly it may make us mad and we know that when Jesus spoke the Word of God to those of Nazareth, they were filled with wrath. (Luke 4: 28-29).  Sometimes we talk when we should be listening because we don’t want to hear the truth, we don’t want to change.  We need to remember that man’s anger, whether directed toward God or man, works not the righteousness of God.

I have sign at my office that says, “Be here now!”  It is supposed to remind me to focus on the person I am talking to completely and totally!  That in such conversations I should not be checking email, surfing the web or even daydreaming.  Easy to say all this of course, but hard to do.  Listening is a true of test of patience.  How are you doing in this area of your walk with God?