Courage Musts

Since he had turned his back upon the fight his fears had been wondrously magnified. Death about to thrust him between the shoulder blades was far more dreadful than death about to smite him between the eyes. When he thought of it later, he conceived the impression that it is better to view the appalling than to be merely within hearing. The noises of the battle were like stones; he believed himself liable to be crushed.

The Red Badge of Courage, chapter 6

To experience victory, hard must be faced.

To defeat fears, eyes must gaze forward.

To minimize dread, fight must be embraced.

To remain steadfast, battle must be accepted.

To resist surrender, better must be pursued.

To foster courage, will must be resolved.

Photo by Kat J on Unsplash

God’s…Not Mine…Mine (Part 3)

I checked into an Airbnb in Dade City Monday. Across the road is this scene, a huge pasture with a lake.

Each morning I’ve driven downtown to get in my run. Tuesday morning when I returned, the pasture cows were having breakfast.

A couple of them paused to check me out. This one, I’ll call him Fred, was the most curious. He seemed a little bothered like, “Hey, human! What’s your problem? Can’t we eat without you people always staring at us?”

And that’s what Fred and I did-stared. It became a contest. Human won.

In my exercise work under the “Mine” column, I’ve come to a conclusion. I can be a lot like Fred. Chewing, wandering, mooing, doing whatever I want when someone comes along, mostly God, and interrupts. Gets my attention. Even calls me out. “How’s your responsibilities going?”

I’ve concluded that there is one thing that must top the list of mine-above my character, my integrity, my heart and soul. If I keep this one thing, it seems everything else on the list will fall into place. The top item is a surrendered will.

Freds can be stubborn, territorial, even proud. But eventually, they will surrender. And usually that comes in a moment of prayer. Consider these words from Paul David Tripp’s Awe:

The Lord’s prayer is a model for us. From “Our Father” to “your will be done,” the opening of this prayer presents a way of thinking, living, and approaching God inspired by awe of him. Only awe of him can define in you and me a true sense of what we actually need. So many of our prayers are self-centered grocery lists of personal cravings that have no bigger agenda than to make our lives a little more comfortable. They tend to treat God more as a personal shopper than a holy and wise Father-King. Such prayers forget God’s glory and long for a greater experience of the glories of the created world. They lack fear, reverence, wonder, and worship. They’re more like pulling up the divine shopping site than bowing our knees in adoration and worship. They are motivated more by awe of ourselves and our pleasures than by a heart-rattling, satisfaction-producing awe of the Redeemer to whom we are praying.

Christ’s model prayer follows the right order and stands as a model for our personal prayer. It’s only when my heart is captured by the awe of God that I will view my identity rightly. And it’s only when I view my identity rightly that I will have a proper sense of need and willingness to abandon my plan for the greater and more glorious plan of God.

So I guess I need to thank Fred. And do what’s mine, and only mine. Stay surrendered.

Is Prayer Bargaining with God…or Submitting to Him?

(Day 18 in a 28-day series from First Bradenton)

“He willingly submitted to death.”- Isaiah 53:12b

“But please, not what I want. What do you want?”- Luke 22:42 (The Message)

Isaiah prophesied that the “Suffering Servant”, the Messiah, would have a submissive attitude in his death. Mark recorded the way Jesus fulfilled this as he prayed in Gethsemane, “Nevertheless, not what I will, but what you will.” – Mark 14:36. Not only did the Savior voice this prayer of submission; he acted on it. He had already said that he would give his life willingly. “No one takes it from me, but I lay it down on my own.” John 10:18. He prayed in submission to His Father and acted in fulfillment.

We too, are to offer prayers of submission to our Heavenly Father. Sometimes we express these in song: “Have Thine Own Way, Lord,” “I Surrender All,” “Where You Lead Me, I will follow.” But in our hearts, we may be adding conditions: “as long as it fits my plans,” or “I surrender all except…,” or “if you don’t lead me out of my comfort zone.” Submission is not a bargain with God. It is Unconditional Surrender!

Why do we need to pray – and live – in submission? Many reasons come to mind: Jesus did, and I should too. He is God, and I am not. He has all power, and I am weak. He knows all things, and I am limited. He is sufficient, and I am not. His will and plan for me is perfect, and my will is often self-centered and stubborn. He is my Master, and I am his servant. All glory and praise belong to him – not to me.

We often think of submissive praying in the big matters of life. True, but he also deserves our commitment in everything. I learned this lesson again a few weeks ago. At 9:30 p.m., the thought came, “Where is my wallet?” After looking in the usual places, I realized that I had left it in the restaurant where we had celebrated my friend’s birthday some hours earlier. Credit cards, driver’s license, and more ran through my mind. I felt my anxiety growing, “what if I don’t find it?” I prayed that God would help me get it back. A phone call to the restaurant resulted in the manager’s words, “Sorry, I can’t find it.” Then it was as if the Lord’s voice came to me, “You have me. Am I not enough?” In submission I said, “Yes, Lord, you are enough. You are all that I need.” He calmed my spirit and made me realize that whether my wallet was found or not, it was okay, because he was in control. I went to bed and slept. At 11:30, I was awakened by a phone call, telling me that it had been found.

I received a more valuable lesson in trusting and submitting to Christ.

“Father, help me in all things to pray, and live, in submission to you. Amen.”

By Pat Browning

Fruity Fridays: Running to Do Good

(A series about the Fruit of the Spirit, Galatians 5)

Of the nine fruits of the Spirit, I’d guess this one to be the one most wrestled. 

Doing good is different from being good. You can be good on the inside. But to show the fruit of goodness it has to be seen, you have to do. That isn’t always easy. It’s downright challenging in many cases, on a regular basis.

  • It’s hard to do good to someone who views your decision as wrong.
  • It’s mind bending to do good to someone who intentionally undermines you.
  • It’s gut wrenching to do good for someone who knowingly lies about you.

These are examples that are difficult because they reveal where your power originates. If your power to handle wrong, undermining, and lying lies only in you, you will be less likely to do good.
No, we have to rely on a better source of power than ourselves. That power comes from the model of goodness. That model and power is described in Acts 10:38.

God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power, who went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with Him.

Instead of looking at yourself to muster the power of goodness, we must look to the Holy Spirit. No matter how hard the situation, he has the power to do good through you. So how do we look to the Holy Spirit?

  1. Work through your anger, jealousy, selfishness, etc., before responding. (HINT: This may take more than five minutes.) Start doing good by not doing wrong by allowing destructive emotions to control you.
  2. Pray to the Holy Spirit. Ask Him what goodness will look like in your situation, for that person. Only move when you have peace and commitment to the action.
  3. Practice, Practice, Practice. You only get better at something by doing it. Start with a simple good thing that you know the Holy Spirit wants you to do. Example: Pray that God would bless your offender rather than praying God would convict them. (HINT: Conviction isn’t our job.) A staggering baby step like this will lead to steady walking which will lead to strong running.

Running isn’t easy. Certainly not to do goodness. Surrender to the Holy Spirit to help you run to do good.