Tag Archives: Courage

The Gift of Silence

From UCC (United Church in Christ)

Quinn G. Caldwell

“[Zechariah] asked for a writing tablet and wrote, ‘His name is John.’ And all of them were amazed. Immediately his mouth was opened and his tongue freed, and he began to speak, praising God.” – Luke 1:57-66

So God tells Zechariah, who’s really old, that he’s about to have a son, and that he should name that son John. Zechariah doubts that he and his equally old wife are going to manage such a feat. God tells him he will be struck silent until the promise is fulfilled. When Elizabeth gives birth and people ask them what the name will be, John writes, “His name is John” on a tablet. Suddenly, his voice is freed. And his first words? One of the most beautiful songs of the Bible. The Benedictus, named for the Latin translation of its first word, later came to be recited at morning prayer by Christians the world round in the hopes that, by saying what Zechariah had said, their tongues too would be freed for praise each day.

Have you ever been silenced by what you didn’t dare say aloud? And did you one day find enough strength or faith or dire need to say it? And when you said it, did you find yourself unlocked, your voice freed for prayer and praise, your life freed like a stone rolled away from a tomb?

What was it you said?

Was it, “I’m gay”?
“My husband hits me”?
“I love you”?
“I’m an alcoholic”?
“Will you marry me”?
“I’m not going to take it any more”?
“I believe in God”?
“Please forgive me”?

For Zechariah, it was, “His name is John.” For Mary, it was, “I’m pregnant.”

If you’re haven’t said yours yet, what are you waiting for?

Prayer

Blessed be you, O God. Give me words like keys, and free my life for faith and praise. Amen.

Peace in Colombia

(From The Moral Imagination, page 14)

 

On a speech made in Columbia in 1987 by a campesino who had been summoned by a violent army captain who had summoned the people to a meeting to recruit them for his own arm, with the ultimatum “you can arm yourselves and join us, you can join the guerrillas, you can leave your homes or you can die”.  A middle aged campesio, Josue, spoke from the crowd and from his hear.  His speech that day was so memorable that up until today you will find peasants in La India who can recite his response to the captain word for word, even though they were not there…

 

You speak of forgiveness, but what do you have to forgive us?  You are the ones who have violated.  We have killed no one.  You want to give us millions in weapons paid for by the sate, yet you will not facilitate even the minimum credit for our farming needs.  There are millions for war but nothing for peace.  How many men in arms are there in Columbia?  By rough calculation, I would say at least 100,000, plus the police, plus 20,000 guerrillas, not to mention the paras, the drug lords and the private armies.  And what has all this served? What has it fixed?  Nothing.  In fact Colombia is in the worst violence ever.  We have arrived at the conclusion that weapons have not solved a thing and that there is not one reason to arm ourselves.  We need farm credits, tools, tractors, trucks to make this little agricultural effort we try to make produce better.  You as members of the National Army, instead of inciting us to kill each other should do your job according to the national constitution, that is you should defend the Colombian people.  Look at all these people you brought here.  We all know each other.  And who are You?  We know you are the head of the paramilitaries.  You brought people in our houses to accuse us, you lied, and you switched sides.  And now you, a side switcher, you want us to follow your violent example.  Captain, with all due respect, we do not plan to join your side, their side or any side.  And we are not leaving this place.  We are going to find our own solution.

Courage

Our second problem with courage is doing – we have passive approaches to spiritual growth – we read books, we go to seminars.  But the Bible is full of the courage of doing actual things.

 

1. You have to take responsibility

 

There has been a lot of research that has shown that people hit enormous problems when they don’t take responsibility.

 

2. Everyday courage is the courage to make a change

 

People trade in the ideal to settle for what is comfortable.

 

The promised land is always filled with stuff that you think can kill you.  For Israel it was the Canaanites.

 

3. Everyday is the courage not to make a change

 

Sometimes we blame.  A researcher called Brene Brown defines blame as a “way to discharge pain and discomfort.”  Very often it is our own pain and discomfort when we are dealing with blame.

 

4. Everyday courage is the courage to take God at his word

 

Look at the way that the word was trusted in taking Jericho.

 

Tells story of Tony Campolo giving up money and living with a beat up car.

 

The Top Five Regrets Of The Dying

The Top 5 Regrets of the dying were collected by a Palliative care nurse Bronnie Ware.  They are reported here and blogged by Donald Miller here.

The regrets are:

5. I wish I had let myself be happier

4. I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends

3. I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings

2. I wish I hadn’t worked so hard

1. I wish I’d had the courage to live true to myself, not the life others expected of me.

It seems that truthfulness, honesty, courage lie at the heart of these.  Also the pain of realising afterwards the gift, the unwasteable gift of every moment.

Tortured For Christ – Part 1

 

The 14 year old son who would not let his father confess, would not die a traitor – page 33

 

Saying to the communists “have you no pity” – they quoted Lenin saying that you have to break eggs to make an omelette – this is pure materialism – page 34

 

A priest who was forced to consecrate human excrement and give them as urine; when asked why he participated, replied “don’t judge me please, I have suffered more than Christ” – page 35

 

The pastor who used to take beatings instead of other prisoners – page 36

 

The bride taken on her wedding day, saying “I thank him that I am worthy to suffer for him.”” – page 36

 

Making the deal, that if we preach, you beat us – page 39

 

“I have seen beautiful things” – (how lovely on the mountains, Isaiah 52) – page 40

 

The Communist Reck who would say “I am God”; later he realised his true calling – page 40

 

This has a truth, you have been created to be a god like being – page 41

 

Tithing bread in prison – page 41

 

How his son, Mihai, became a Christian after seeing the persecution of his mother – page 44

 

How Mihai witnessed at school for standing up for the Bible – page 45

 

The Christian daughters who became prostitutes in order to protect their family.  Please do not judge says Wurmbrand – page 46

 

The Church that was told it could never have 36 members, only 35 – page 47

 

The value of Bibles cannot be understood by “an American or an English Christian who ‘swims’ in Bibles.” – page 48

 

Bringing the joys of Christ to communists who are so empty spiritually – page 50

 

The way that the angel meets Joshua and says “Nay” – these are not human responses; I am seated in the heavenly places (Ephesians 2) – page 50 (Joshua 5)

 

In solitary confinement, the Lord’s prayer was too much for us, we used to pray “Jesus, I love thee” – Romans 8, groans that words cannot express (page 53)

 

The minister who was beaten, and as some cursed the communists, he would say “Please don’t curse them” – page 53

 

Only love can change the communists – love which differs from the compliance exercised by many Christian leaders (page 55)

 

Need for strategic view in Missionary work, and to aim for the leaders – page 57

 

Wars can only be won by offensive strategy and strategy in mission – page 58

 

Why so many Christians had nicknames, and why people use secret signals – page 58

 

“A man really believes not what he recites in his cree, but only the things which he is ready to die for” – page 59

 

What encourages us to preach the Gospel in communist countries is that there those who become Christians are full of love and zeal.  I have never met one single lukewarm Russian Christian.  – page 65

 

God is “the Truth”.  The Bibles the “truth about the Truth.”  Theology is the “truth about the truth about the Truth”.  Fundamentalism is the “truth about the truth about the truth about the Truth”.  – page 66

 

Some tell me to “Preach the pure Gospel!”  This reminds me that the communist secret police also told me to preach Christ, but not to mention communism.  Is it really so, that those who are for what is called “a pure Gospel” are inspired by the same spirit as those of the communist secret police? (page 71-72)

 

My suffering consists first of all in the longing after the unspeakable beauties of the Underground Church, the church which fulfils the old Latin saying Nudis nudum Christi sequi (naked, follow the naked Christ). (page 73)

 

The suffering Church are like those who receive only cabbage with unmentionable filth when they ask for bread, yet continue to praise God (page 73)

 

“I suffer in the West more than I suffered in a communist jail, because now I see with my own eyes the western civilisation dying.” – page 73

 

On the defence of the individual and those who complain that Christ is not an intellectual – page 79-80

 

Ordained next to the tomb of a martyred bishop because the communist bishop would not ordain – page 81

 

In Russia no-one remembers the arguments for or against infant baptism or millennial controversies – page 83 (and more on arguments with the communists)

 

The professor being asked to drink the water he said he had turned into wine.  “This is the whole difference between you and Jesus.  He, with His wine, has given us joy for two thousand years, whereas you poison us with your wine.” – page 89

 

Elsewhere there is talk of Communist tracts which attacked the scriptures in doing so gave the Christians access to the Christians (do not know page)

 

Constantly the argument is that man is more than matter, that people are spiritual beings (page 90)

 

It is only when a train goes over a bridge that it proves its great strength (page 90)

 

There is something positive in the enormous amount of drunkenness in communist countries, it is about people seeking something beyond the material – page 91

 

Meeting a Russian captain who was getting drunk, sharing Christ and it turning out to be a former Orthodox priest who now regretted all that he had done for the communists – page 91

 

The soldier who turned up at a Church and held the gun to a ministers’ head.  When the minister refused to change the Russian said “It is true” and turned to Christ (page 93)

 

The Russian soldiers who said that those who did not abandon the faith would be shot at once, and when they were left with those who stayed, were delighted to share fellowship with true believers.  “We too are Christians, but we wished to have fellowship only with those who consider the truth worth dying for.” (page 93-94)

 

The parts of the communist Church – the underground pastors and leaders, the laypeople, the official clergy who have a parallel life running the underground Church – page 96-98

 

The remarkable street demonstrations of Churches in communist countries (page 101)

Louis Zamperini – lessons from prison

 

3. Time doesn’t heal all wounds, God heals wounds.

Talks about if anyone is in Christ, he is a new Creation (2 Corinthians 5).

 

4. Forgiveness is not just therapeutic or relief for the forgiver.  It is a loving, humble, repentant quest for reconciliation.

Talks about the experiences of Louis going, as a result of the challenge from World Vision founder Bob Pierce, to go to Japan and preach in Sugamo prison, of how a man called Jimmie Sasaki and many others believed.  Louie didn’t hold back on the details of his time in prison, because forgiveness had to be real.  At the end, many men raised their hands to receive Christ.

 

5. God is still in the business of bringing redemption out of evil

Louie was once asked, “Did anything good come out of 2 and a half years in prison.”  Yes, he said, it prepared me for 53 years of married life.

 

But the story of Louie is one of God using him abundantly through all that he suffered.  Romans 8 – God works all things together for good, and the brining back of someone in Matthew 18.

 

Where have we decided to actually bear a grudge against someone, to bear them ill will.  I am going to put them in the category of someone I don’t love.

 

Are we going to say, “God I want to surrender my unforgiving spirit, I am going to confess my heart to you now.”

The Price Exacted

American preacher Howard Thurman wrote, “Too often the price exacted by society for security and respectability is that the Christian movement in its formal expression must be on the side of the strong against the weak.  This is a matter of tremendous significance, for it reveals to what extent a religion that was born of a people acquainted with persecution and suffering has become the cornerstone of civilisation and of nations whose very position in modern life too often has been secured by a ruthless use of power applied to defenceless peoples.” (June 16)

 

Christianity is not a matter of persuasive words.  It is a matter of true greatness as long as it is hated by the world. – Ignatius of Lyon (August 17th)

I know what is the meaning of cross

 

 

When I am leading this campaign against the Sharia Laws, for the abolishment of blasphemy law, and speaking for the oppressed, and marginalised, persecuted Christian and other minority, these Taleban threaten me.

 

But I want to share that I believe in Jesus Christ who has given his own life for us.  I know what is the meaning of cross.  And I am following of the cross.  And I am ready to die for a cause, I’m living for my community and suffering people and I will die to defend their rights.  So these threats and these warnings cannot change my opinion and principles.  I will prefer to die for my principle and for the justice of my community rather to compromise on these threats.