Audacious Prayer (January 2016 Newsletter)

Since the weather stopped us from meeting this last Sunday, I want to take a few minutes in our newsletter this month to write about what we were going to look at this past Sunday.  We are getting ready to start 2016, and with the new year, I would like to challenge each of us to enter this year as a year of prayer.  It seems that this faith family is taking hits from everywhere, both on a personal and a church level in the last few months.  Times are a little hard, but I think we have the opportunity to really lean in and trust God.  We have the chance to be a part of something huge, because it won’t be our power that turns things around.  If we are able to put our faith in God, trust Him, and have the courage to pray audaciously in the new year, I really believe that we will have the chance to see God do some amazing things through Central Christian Church.

What do I mean by audacious prayer?  Well, let’s take a lesson from the life and teaching of Jesus, and see what it can mean in our own lives.  For the sake of space again, I will not quote the whole passage of scripture here.  I ask that you either look it up, or click here if you are reading this in an e-mail.  The passage in question is John 17.  It’s Jesus’ prayer recorded in the Garden of Gethsemane the night He was arrested.  For all intents and purposes, it is His last prayer before He was crucified.  He knew what was coming, and it was in this context that He spent this time in prayer. 

He started out praying for Himself, that He would be glorified.  That wasn’t a selfish prayer.  He was praying that He would be strong enough to accomplish the task that He had been sent to do.  By Jesus completing that task, and being glorified, it would bring glory to God.  That was what Jesus was all about.  He wanted nothing more than to bring glory to the Father through whatever He did.  He was praying for strength to complete the task, because He knew it was going to be difficult.

Second, He prayed for His disciples.  He prayed that they would stay strong through the difficult times ahead.  He prayed for their unity.  He knew that some of the events that were going to take place in the near future had the potential to rip the disciples apart.  He wanted His disciples to stay strong, but He also wanted them to show their love through unity.

Finally, Jesus took His prayer even further by praying for all those in the future that would believe in Him.  That means you and me.  He prayed for our unity with each other under His name.  That means on the individual, church, and Church level.  We are to be unified with each other, in the good times and the bad.  These prayers of Jesus are very important, as they are some of His last moments on earth.  He wanted to make sure that He prayed for some hard things during this time, and it should teach us something.

That’s what I meant by audacious prayers.  In the good time and the bad times, we need to pray big prayers.  If you want to know more about the type of prayer I’m talking about, read Mark Batterson’s The Circle Maker.  It is about a man name Honi who prayed for rain in the midst of a drought.  He drew a circle in the sand, and vowed that he would not leave that circle until it rained.  And legend has it that he prayed and prayed and then it rained.  Not only did it rain, it rained so hard that there was flooding in the area after years of drought.  This all took place in Israel during the time between the Old and New Testaments. 

That’s the type of prayer I want to see us all praying as we enter the new year.  Let’s make 2016 the year of audacious prayer.  What does that mean?  Well let’s commit to praying for some things that seem huge, because our God is huge.  Will all of the prayers that we pray be answered the way we want?  No, but that doesn’t mean that they shouldn’t be prayed.  Pray that our numbers, both attendance and giving wise, will grow.  Pray that we will start making a huge impact in this city and county.  Pray that the leadership will be in tune with God’s will for the church.  Pray that you, individually, can help lead multiple people to Christ.  Honestly, here is my audacious prayer.  We baptized 4 people, all under the age of 16 at Central in 2015.  My prayer is that we will baptize 20 people, 15 of which are 18 and older in 2016.  I know that looking at things the way they are now that those numbers seem impossible.  But with God, it’s not only possible, it’s within reach.

Here’s how I want you to start.  Starting on Monday, January 4, through Monday, February 1, I am asking that each of you commit to praying audaciously for 15 minutes more than what you pray on a regular basis already.  Keep your normal prayer routine, just add 15 minutes to it.  And make those 15 minutes big prayers.  Prayers that you may not think are actually possible.  But trust God.  Know that we may not ever know the answers, but keep praying.  I hope that it becomes a habit for you, but I’m asking that you commit to 15 extra minutes a day.  Let’s really make 2016 the year of audacious prayer.

Unity (December 2015 Newsletter Article)

This weekend we are going to take some time and celebrate this church, and what it’s been able to do over the last sixty years.  I’ve been around for a little over a year now, but I’ve gotten to see some of the great things that have been done through this congregation.  There is much more to be done, however, and it is going to take all of us to do it.  We get the privilege of working in the Kingdom of God.  He allows us the opportunity to be a part of His church.  But with that privilege comes some great responsibility.  There is only one way that we are going to be able to live up to that responsibility…and that is together.

In other words, we have to be united under one common goal.  We have to be committed to helping move people, and by people that includes all of us here, toward Jesus.  I’ve been talking about unity a lot recently, but in some very small ways.  It’s time that I just come out and say that first and foremost, we have to become united under Christ.  We call this a faith family, and that’s because that’s really what we are supposed to be.  And like all families, we have our times of disagreement.  Even during those times of disagreement, however, we have to realize that we have the most important things in common.  We may have different preferences, but we should all have one goal.  Serving God.  Above all else, that is what this congregation has to be about. 

There is a growing trend in the Church (worldwide) it seems like.  And that trend is for people to look at everything like they have to get their way.  People in general get offended way too often anymore.  Part of this is caused by the consumerism that is running rampant throughout our American culture.  And it leads to one of the greatest dangers I see to the work of the Church.  We care more about individualism and what we can get out of everything we do instead of trying to work in unity to advance the Kingdom of God.  That’s why through the month of December we are going to take a good, long, hard look at the difference between consumerism and being a servant.  And that’s going to come straight out of the Biblical account of the Christmas story.  If you want a head start on what we are going to be looking at, I challenge you to read Luke 2:14.  That verse contains the jest of all three of our Christmas sermons this year.  Read it.  Memorize it.  Meditate on it.  More importantly, join us each of the next three Sundays as we talk about how Christmas is not about us, it’s about a servant at heart.

It’s no secret that this faith family has taken a few hits recently.  There has been some disunity.  There have been some disagreements.  There has been hurt after hurt.  I don’t want to dwell on that.  What I want to encourage each and every one of us to do is to forget about what wrongs we have felt, and come together in unity under our mission.  That mission, again, is to Move People Toward Jesus.  The only way we are going to be able to accomplish that is together.  If you feel that something or someone has wronged you, don’t let it fester.  Go to them and discuss it.  Work it out.  And above all, let’s learn the lessons from the last few chapters of The Story.  Following God is what we need to be doing.  And we can’t do that divided.  Division leads to chaos and destruction.  Jesus even told us that himself.  He said, in Luke 11:17, “‘Any kingdom divided against itself will be ruined, and a house divided against itself will fall.’” 

If we want to be able to have another sixty years of trying to reach this community for Christ, then we have to be united.  We cannot fight and pull in so many different directions, only caring about our own preferences, and expect to accomplish our mission.  I want nothing less than to see Central CC be a beacon of hope in this community.  I really think we can be that, or I wouldn’t be here.  But the only way that we are going to be able to be that beacon of hope is if we do it united under God.  Forget our own personal preferences, and be willing to be servants.  After all, Christmas (and our mission) isn’t about us.  It’s about a loving God that sent His son to become the perfect sacrifice and bring us back to Him.

God Bless!          

Because of Him, Kraig B

Servant (November 2015 Newsletter)

Note:  I forgot to publish this article on my blog when the Newsletter was sent out last month, so I am posting it a month late.

 

I ended this past Sunday’s sermon with a thought from John F. Kennedy.  From his inaugural speech, Kennedy stated, “My fellow Americans, ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country”.  It’s an iconic statement that has lived on, long after his death.  And there is a lot of wisdom in that statement.  But if you were with us at Central CC when I brought this up, you will remember that I also shared an edited version of this statement.  I said, “My fellow Christians, ask not what your church can do for you, ask what you can do for the Kingdom”.  For this newsletter article, I wanted to take some time to expand upon that thought, because I feel that this is where we as a church need to focus.  It’s not that we shouldn’t get something out of our church attendance.  We get fellowship, encouragement, and many other things.  The problem comes when we get so focused on that, that we forget that we are supposed to do something as well.  We all have a job to do, and that job is not sitting back and seeing what we can get from the church.

Hebrews 10:25 tells us, “24 And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, 25 not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.”  So there is direct evidence that church attendance and meeting together with fellow Christians is something that we should hold as important.  We are to spur one another on, and encourage one another.  Those are things that we should all get out of meeting together, by being a part of the church.  But it can’t, and shouldn’t be all about us. 

When we call ourselves Christians, that means two really big things.  First, we identify ourselves as followers of Jesus Christ.  We wear His name as an identity of who we are and what we are all about.  But throughout history, Christians have been guilty of following Jesus in name only.  I fear that that’s what a majority of Christians in America are doing now.  I’m guilty of this for the majority of my life.  It’s important that I admit that upfront, because just as I do with many of my sermons, I’m writing this directed at me just as much as anyone else reading these words.  Let me give you an example of what happens when we as Christians only follow Him in name only.  We see things like this being said about us.  Mahatma Ghandi is credited with saying, “I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians.  Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.”  Whether he actually said it or not, I hope you see the significance of what the message is.  If we claim to follow Christ, then we should be like Him.

That leads to the second big thing that is meant when we call ourselves Christians.  We should be about serving others, because that is exactly what Christ came to do.  He was a servant.  He did not come to be served by others, He came to serve.  It was at His very core.  Matthew 20:24-28 reads, “24 When the ten heard about this, they were indignant with the two brothers. 25 Jesus called them together and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. 26 Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, 27 and whoever wants to be first must be your slave— 28 just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”  If we want to be like Jesus, which is what we are saying when we call ourselves Christians, then we have to become servants at heart. 

There are many ways of doing this, which is the good news.  I won’t quote it all here, because of space, but look up I Corinthians 12:12-31.  Click the scripture reference if you get this electronically.  For those of you that get a hardcopy, look that passage up.  It’s Paul talking about how we all have jobs to do in the Church.  Not everyone will have the same job, but the body functions so much better when everyone is doing their part.  We are called to serve, and that means we all have a job to do.  I’m not trying to say that we shouldn’t get anything out of church.  We should.  But that can’t be our main focus.  We can’t be selfish.  You can’t be a servant at heart and be selfish.  And if you claim to be a Christian, you have to be a servant at your very core.  If you aren’t yet, that’s fine, as long as you’re working that way.  It may take a lifetime to get there, but it’s the effort of trying to become more like Christ daily that is the goal of being a Christ follower.

Unashamed

I have been thinking a lot lately about how open I am about my faith and if I truly live it out the way that I say I want to.  And the answer is no.  I don’t know many who actually live it out the way they want to, because if you’re like me, you want to live it out perfectly.  But our need to be liked by those around us get in the way of sharing what we believe and what we are trying to live out.  At least it does for me.  I’m getting better about sharing what I believe, but I’m still not there yet.  I’ve realized recently that instead of sharing what I believe with people I meet out in the world, I tend to share what I do for a living, that I’m a minister.  On the surface, it might seem like the same thing.  But it’s not.  My relationship with Christ should be so much more than just what I do.  Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love what I do.  I can’t imagine doing anything else.  It’s what I feel called to do for the rest of my life, and that excites me.  What I believe and who I am is so much more than that though.  While letting people know what I do gives me an opportunity to invite them to church and possibly even start a conversation about God with them, it’s not enough.  If I stop there, then I haven’t really shared the Gospel with them.  I haven’t tried to introduce them to Jesus, the One who paid it all so that we could have a relationship with God.

Being able to share what I do for a living was a good step in the right direction, but I need to get better at sharing the reason that I am in a relationship with Jesus.  I need to use that foot in the door to introduce others to the greatest person that we could ever know.  I need to show them the potential life change that Jesus can bring with a relationship with Him.  Now, this can’t be done in just a brief encounter with someone, but as we build a relationship with those around us, then our conversations can go deeper and deeper.  And that’s the key.  We aren’t going to introduce the true Jesus to anyone by standing on the street corner and yelling at passers by.  But as we build relationships with those around us, in our communities, then we have the opportunity to start going beneath the surface level “What do you do for a living” and start truly talking about “What do you truly live for”.  And when we get that opportunity, we can’t be ashamed to talk about our relationship with Jesus or the power and change that can and should come from it.  I’ve been thinking and meditating a lot on Romans 1:16-17 the past couple of weeks.  I believe this passage, and desire to live it out.  But I don’t know how often I could quote it and be completely confident that I was living it out.  That changes now.  I hope you’ll join me!

Romans 1:16, 17 16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile. 17 For in the gospel the righteousness of God is revealed—a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: “The righteous will live by faith.”

The Importance of Community (August 2015 Newsletter Article)

We are three weeks away from starting The Story and I am really excited about starting this journey with all of you.  In the weeks leading up to the kickoff, we will be looking at the book of Job for one week, and then a short two-week series on the mission and vision of Central Christian Church.  Then, on August 23rd we will start our series that we’ve been talking about for the last few months.  That first Sunday will be an introduction to what we will be looking at over the next several months.  Then on August 30th, we will jump right into The Story, including kicking off our small groups program.  It’s this program that I want to talk to about this month.  I want to stress the importance of joining a small group, and the reasons behind this important part of what we are trying to do. 

First, we wanted to introduce the small groups during The Story because of the nature of the study itself.  We will be walking through over 80% of scripture in the 33 weeks of The Story.  That means we will be taking huge chunks of story each week, so our sermon time will not be able to go really in-depth with the study.  That’s were reading along with us in The Story Bibles and joining a small group will come in really handy.  We want everyone to get as much out of this study as we can, and the more ways you are able to participate, the more you will get out of it.  In the small groups, you will get to watch a video about the section that we are on, and then discuss with each other how and why that applies to our lives today.  I have done this study while we were in TN, and led a small group of adults through this.  It is a very worthwhile small group study to go through.

Second, we feel that there are even more benefits to being in a small group than just this study or any study for that matter.  I truly believe that we were made to live in community, and that is what a small group is designed for.  Basically this will become a smaller family that can really get to know each other well over the 30+ weeks that you meet together.  I mentioned that Kelley and I led a small group through this study back in TN.  Well, this group stayed together and did many other studies together after this one was over.  More importantly, we shared life together.  We prayed together each week, we shared meals together, we laughed, and we grew closer and closer to each other.  While Kelley and I were looking for a ministry position, it was this group of people that prayed earnestly for and with us.  We shared our frustrations and stress with one another.  And it was the people from this group that were the first to welcome us back when we went to TN on vacation last month.  They truly became family to us, and even though we are separated by 1,400 miles today, we are still family because of the time that we spent together in these groups. 

These small group gatherings that we are encouraging you to attend are not just something that we want you to add to your already busy schedule.  It’s something that we feel is vital to the life and health of this church and our faith family members.  Not only will you be able to dig deep into scripture, you will be able to truly share life with one another in an attempt to live out the Christian life better together.  There will be a sign-up sheet in the lobby of the church up until the kick-off of The Story.  Please prayerfully consider joining one of these groups.  I promise, it is worth it.  If you have any questions, please let me know and I will do my best to answer any and all of them.

Summer (June 2015 Newsletter Article)

Summer is an exciting time of year. School’s out, vacations are planned, and there’s lots of other exciting things to do. People tend to get together with friends more during the summer time and just spend time together. The days are longer, which means that there is more daylight to do things outdoors. And all of that is great. I love summer, although I’m not sure I will like the 100+ temperatures that are coming our way even this week as I write this.
There is one thing that happens during the summer that is not a good thing. Church attendance across the country drops. For some reason, whether it’s going to the lake with family, sleeping in, or something else that just seems to drive people away from being in church on Sunday mornings, or any other time of the week for that matter. In fact, we proactively address this in some ways here at Central. We stop our Wednesday night programing during the summer, because our children’s ministry volunteers need a break, but also because we never know what attendance is actually going to look like. And don’t get me wrong, it’s not just here at Central that this happens.  
I’m not trying to complain. I understand that life gets busy, and more things seem to happen during the summer. And if you are out of town and can’t make it one Sunday, or multiple, we understand that. But what I want to say is that if you are out of town, find a church where you are vacationing and make a point of going. In fact, if you do that, I would love if you could bring me a bulletin from whatever churches you visit this summer. We love to see what other places are doing so that we can maybe improve what we are doing here as well. In fact, if you are planning on being out of town, let me know where you are going and I would be happy to try to find a church close to where you are staying.
Being gone on vacation is one thing. But attendance seems to drop even if people aren’t out of town. And there is something wrong with that. We were made to live in community. You’ve heard me say that time and again, and I believe that with all of my heart. Following Christ was never meant to be done on your own. In fact, gathering together as a body of believers is something that scripture actually commands. Hebrews 10:24-25 tells us;
And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching. 
We are supposed to help each other live this Christian life, and how can we do that if we are not gathering together on a regular basis. I understand being out of town. In fact, Kelley and I will be out of town for a couple of Sundays in a row later in the summer, but we will also be attending church while we are gone from here. I even understand missing a Sunday or two occasionally. But gathering with your fellow Christians, your faith family, should be a priority. It should be something you crave, and something you miss deeply when you aren’t able to be there. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not trying to guilt anyone, but what I’m asking is that you make gathering with your faith family a priority. And if you’re going to be out of town, do your best to find another congregation to gather with if at all possible. Even through the summer, keep your eyes fixed on Jesus, and not give up on meeting together. 

Story (May 2015 Newsletter Article)

Over the next few months, you are going to hear me and others in our faith family start talking about stories a lot.  That’s because we all have a story to tell, but all to often we don’t feel like anyone would be interested in our story, or we just simply don’t know how to tell our story.  But story is vital in how we communicate and interact with those around us.  We live in a state of story.  Think about it.  What do we do when we have free time and don’t have to work?  We either read a book (which is a form of story) or we watch television (which you guessed it, is another form of story).  There may be times that we do neither of these when we have free time, but then again, if we aren’t doing those, we might be listening to music (another form of story), or hanging out with friends.  I don’t know what it’s like when you are with your friends, but I know that my friends and I share information with each other in story form most of the time.

That’s because we are geared to see things as story.  How our life unfolds is like an untold story.  And we get to live it out.  Stories are fun, exciting, funny, suspenseful, full of knowledge, and a lot of other things.  What we don’t recognize a lot of times is that our story can be used to help others come into a relationship with Jesus.  If you are a Christian, you have a testimony, just a fancy word for a story of how Christ has impacted your life.  We are meant to share our story with others in an attempt to introduce them to our Lord and Savior.  Learning to tell our story is vital in our attempts to reach family and friends that don’t know Jesus.  So, again, over the next few months, you will be hearing a lot about story.  In fact, we started this year off by hearing the story of how our leadership has been impacted by Jesus.  Those videos are still available on our Facebook page, and I would encourage you to watch those again if you need a refresher.

Even more exciting than that, however, is that toward the end of August, which will be here before we know it, we are going be starting a sermon series titled, The Story, which will takes us through 80% of scripture in 33 weeks, beginning in Genesis and going chronologically through to Revelation.  I’m super excited about this process that we will go through together, but it’s also important that we begin to talk about and think about story as we lead up to this.  When we begin The Story, one of the things that will be really important to understand is that we will actually be looking at two stories in one.  We will have the “upper story”.  That’s the big picture.  In other words, that God’s story.  We don’t always get to see the upper story, but God sees it all.  Then we have the “lower story”.  That’s our life.  That’s the story that we get to see, but again, we don’t see it all.  The most amazing parts of this is when the “lower story” intersects with the “upper story”, and for a brief moment, we realize how much God loves us and how much He sees the “big picture”.  We are starting to gear up for The Story and it’s going to be just a brief overview of “the greatest story ever told”!  I hope you’re excited, because it doesn’t get any better than being able to see how our story is just a small portion of God’s “upper” story.

Bible in 90 Days Reflections (Day 20)

Nevertheless, the people refused to listen to the voice of Samuel, and they said, “No, but there shall be a king over us, that we also may be like all the nations, that our king may judge us and go out before us and fight our battles.” (‭1 Samuel‬ ‭8‬:‭19-20‬ NASB)

Does this sound like anyone you know? Maybe yourself? The part I’m really looking at and thinking of is the people’s response. Especially one line. “that we also may be like all the nations…” The nation of Israel had the God of the universe as their leader and King, but they wanted to settle for a human king. Why? Because they wanted to be like everyone else. They were satisfied being led by an imperfect human instead of letting the holy God lead them.

The problem is, we do the same thing. We try to blend in. We want to be just like everyone around us, instead of standing out because we live the way God wants us to live. I know I struggle greatly with this. And the sad thing about it is we have this example of Israel, and how poorly that worked out for them. So why do we do it? Sometimes, it just seems easier to blend in. It doesn’t cost us anything. But to be a true follower of Jesus, which is what we claim to be, we have to stand out. It may cost us friends, family, money, status, or many other things. But, in the end, it’s much better to follow Christ and lose those things.

Jesus said in Luke 9:23-26, “Then he said to them all: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will save it. What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit their very self? Whoever is ashamed of me and my words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of them when he comes in his glory and in the glory of the Father and of the holy angels.”

When we focus on things of this world, we run the risk of losing our very soul. Which is better? Blending in and being just everyone around us, or stepping out in our faith, which may draw persecution or cost us things in this world. There are eternal consequences and rewards associated with this choice.

Jesus addresses the idea multiple times throughout John that we are not really of this world if we are His followers. Paul in Romans 12 tells us that we are not to conform to the patterns of this world anymore. And he also tells us in Philippians;
“For our citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ; who will transform the body of our humble state into conformity with the body of His glory, by the exertion of the power that He has even to subject all things to Himself.” (‭Philippians‬ ‭3‬:‭20-21‬ NASB)

Let’s learn from the history of Israel as well as Jesus’ own words. Do not blend in. We are to follow Christ, no matter what it costs us in this world. That can be a very hard thing to do at times, but again, “What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit their very self?”

God Bless,

Kraig

Bible in 90 Days Reflections (Day 17)

“Now, therefore, fear the LORD and serve Him in sincerity and truth; and put away the gods which your fathers served beyond the River and in Egypt, and serve the LORD. If it is disagreeable in your sight to serve the LORD, choose for yourselves today whom you will serve: whether the gods which your fathers served which were beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you are living; but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.” (‭Joshua‬ ‭24‬:‭14-15‬ NASB)

We are surrounded by different choices we could make as to who we want to follow as our God. Those of us that choose to follow God, as in the Christian God, made that decision through baptism. But the thing is, it’s not just a one time decision. To follow our God and Jesus is to make the decision daily. “Pick up you cross daily and follow me” is the message we here.

You can make the decision to follow God and think it’s a one time decision. When you do that, you tend to live you life on you own terms. To steal a phrase from our current sermon series, you’re just a fan. It doesn’t cost you anything. But to become a truly committed follower, it may cost you something. And that leads you to making the decision on a daily basis whether to follow our God. I hope and pray that you come to the conclusion Joshua did. “but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.”

Bible in 90 Days Reflections (day 16)

It’s been a few days since I have posted about our 90 day Bible reading challenge. If you are on schedule, you have now made it through the first five books of the Bible in just over two weeks! Congratulations. If you’re not on schedule, that’s ok too. The important thing is trying to be in God’s word on a daily basis, so we can learn from in and apply it to our daily lives. Keep plugging along, whether you are on schedule or not!

As I was reading the first few chapters of Joshua tonight, there was a phrase that really stuck out to me. And it’s one that I feel is a phrase we as Christians need to take to heart, especially with the religious climate that we are starting to find ourselves in today. Just in the first chapter, the phrase “be strong and courageous” or “be strong and very courageous” is found multiple times. God tells Joshua this, and Joshua tells the people of Israel this. This is because God was giving them the land of Canaan, but He knew the opposition they would face. He was encouraging them to put their courage in Him.

We may not have the promise of a physical land like the land of Canaan, but we have the promised land of eternity in heaven to look forward to. But there is a lot of opposition that we are beginning to have to face in this country. Our Christian faith is under constant scrutiny and attack, while other religions are given almost free reign. We can’t hold organized prayers on public property without drawing huge criticism. This can be a very scary thing for those of us that are outspoken about our faith. In other words, those of us that have taken serious the task of becoming completely, committed, followers of Jesus.

Things may get worse before they get better. But I can assure you of this. We have the promise of eternity with our Lord if we are able to stay the course. I don’t know what is in store for us as Christians in this country. I pray that we are on the verge of another Great Awakening in which revival will just sweep across this country. But for that to happen, in all reality, we may have to face a time of persecution to get there. Whatever happens, I think it’s reasonable for us to think that Christ is whispering and encouraging us, “Be strong and very courageous for My name”.