Worth Fighting For

This blog is written on May 31, 2021, Memorial Day. This particular date is important to me for a couple of reasons. First, it is a federal holiday set aside to honor the countless men and women who have died in battle to gain or preserve the freedoms we so often take for granted. In the year 1969, Memorial Day was on Saturday, May 31; a day that forever changed my life. It seems that anything worth having in life will cost us something. Let me tell you what I mean by that.

 The founding fathers who declared independence from England in 1776 realized they were putting their lives and all their possessions at risk.  At the close of that long war, many widows were left to raise their fatherless children. Our country was founded on the sacrifice and blood of thousands of men whose names we will never know. 

For three months in sweltering Philadelphia heat fifty-five men met to produce the constitution of the United States of America, the outline of how our country would function under separate branches of government. At the insistence of the colonies, a Bill of Rights (amendments 1-10) was added before approval. Those amendments include such things as freedom of speech and religion, the right to bear arms, and freedom from unlawful search and seizure of property, etc.

Ben Franklin, at 81, was by far the oldest delegate at the constitutional convention. Once the lengthy debates for approval in the state conventions were over and the thirteen colonies became the United States of America, Franklin is recorded saying something to the effect, “ Now we have a republic, let’s see if we can keep it.” Franklin was a very wise man, knowing a great deal about human nature and the threat our form of government would be to the power-hungry within and outside our borders. There is a great price to pay for the freedoms we enjoy. Memorial Day is supposed to help us remember that fact.

I have traced the name of a family member on the Viet Nam Memorial wall in D.C. and stood in awe and felt an overwhelming sense of sadness and gratitude as my tear-filled eyes surveyed almost ten thousand white crosses at the national cemetery in Normandy, France. These young men laid it all down for us and the preservation of freedom in Europe. Our freedom isn’t free. But, I’m concerned that we have become so lazy, forgetful, arrogant, and ignorant that we are about to lose much of what others valued to the point of sacrificing their lives.

My primary concern about losing the country so many have died for has little to do with China, Russia, Iran, or Korea. The founding fathers understood that only a moral people could maintain the form of government for which so many have died. God has not abandoned us. We have abandoned Him, little by little. Godless laws promote the killing of the unborn; a society that has been deceived into exchanging materialism for the One True God. Commonsense is not “common” anymore.  Our national soul is in trouble. We are in dire need of repentance and a return to an emphasis on godly character. It’s time for all believers to wake up to the reality of our gradual slide to destruction. God is our hope and help.

The second reason this day is special to me is because 52 years ago today Cecelia and I made a commitment to God and each other that we would live in obedience to God in our marriage “until death do us part.” We have had our share of “fights,” as is true of most good marriages. But, we have fought for our marriage by protecting it and growing in a kind of oneness that God has intended. We have been able to put aside petty differences and focus on the goal of making our marriage work as it should. Good marriages and families will cost you something that cannot be purchased with money.

 Our marriage is not a good one because we have “survived” more than a half century. It is good because we have fought for it by doing  three things pretty well; we have maintained our commitment to God and each other; we have learned to communicate with each other, and we have been able to use our conflicts for better understanding and adjustments. We have worked at it. I believe marriage is what people make it. By the way, Marriage is What You Make It is the title of one of my books you can find at www.cosdavis.com. You may know someone who could use some helping in how to fight for their marriage. Marriage is one of those precious things worth fighting for. Good marriages are not produced by the weak or lazy. It requires people to graduate from a high school, Hollywood view of love, and experience what real love, married love is all about. If isn’t easy but it’s well worth fighting for.

Why Do you Think The Way You Do?

It’s encouraging and refreshing to deal with honest people. I had an experience recently that made my day. I took my car to a repair shop to get the front brake pads replaced. I had been told by another shop that I would need this work done soon and went to the second place for another opinion. The mechanic at the new shop did a quick look, without removing the wheels, and estimated I had a couple of thousand miles left on the pads.

 I liked the price of the work at this shop and decided to let them do the work. I brought my car back in a few days and went home expecting to return that afternoon to get it. Instead, a couple of hours later, I got a call from the service manager, “ Mr. Davis, you don’t need new brake pads. You have about half the life left on the ones on your car.” We discussed the situation to my satisfaction, and when I went to get the car I said, “George, thank you for being honest with me. You could have done the work and I would not have known the difference. Why?” He told me he never did work that didn’t need to be done on a vehicle. “Why?” I repeated. Then he told me why he thought the way he did about being honest with people, “When I was growing up, I wouldn’t be able to sit down for days if my dad caught me in a lie or doing something dishonest.” He also told me of another repair shop he left because his employer wanted him to be dishonest in dealing with customers.

George’s dad is no longer around to punish him if he varies from the early lessons concerning honesty. Thankfully, George has decided to continue to think and act honestly with people. As a result, I and others who come into this repair shop will be treated well because He has developed a pattern of thinking that prompts him to treat people with respect.

 Those fixed, unconscious patterns of thinking such as George operates by are important to each of us. Think about these questions. How do you view life? What do you think is really important? How do you think about God? Yourself? Others? Take a few moments and consider how you are thinking about these things.

Next question, “Where did you learn to think this way? “  Do you just go along with the crowd and never dare to really think deeply about important stuff? Do you get your ideas from the brilliant politicians in D.C.? Who or what has had a strong influence on the way you think?  

What do you use as a measure to determine if what you are thinking is true or false? What role does the Bible play in helping you formulate the way you think about the things that really matter?  

 At the close of the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 7), Jesus tells a story about two builders.  The fool refuses to build his life on the teachings of Jesus and faces the destruction his choice brings. The wise man adopts Jesus’ teachings as his way of thinking and acting and his life withstands all the assaults and storms life can throw at him. There are consequences to how we think about God and His plan for our life. Think well and deeply about that. 

 

 

Not Guilty

The guilt or innocence of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin is in the hands of twelve jurors. Chauvin, as you know, has been charged with the murder of George Floyd in May of 2020. The jury’s task is to listen to witnesses, weigh the facts, and decide the innocence or guilt of Mr. Chauvin. The verdict will determine this man’s fate, a judgment that is likely to be unpopular no matter which way it goes.

Courtroom or legal words such as judgment, guilty, and innocent are part of the language Paul and others use to write about the life of faith. For example, God is the supreme Judge, sin is the breaking of God’s law, and the penalty for sin is death. Faith in the death and resurrection of Jesus is our only hope for a Not Guilty verdict.

Human judges and jurors have been known to make mistakes in judgment, sometimes convicting the innocent or freeing the guilty. Our judicial system is not perfect because people are not perfect.

But God is perfect; He doesn’t make mistakes about our guilt or innocence. Guilty or not guilty? What is your standing before God?  In his letter to the Romans, Paul tells us we are all guilty before God, “All have sinned and come short of God’s expectations (glory).” Thankfully, that’s   not the whole story, “For the payment we receive for our sin is death, but the gift from God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” What role does faith play in our guilt or innocence before God?

Romans 5:1-2, “Therefore having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have obtained our introduction by faith into the grace in which we stand; and exult (have joyful expectation) in the hope of the glory of God.”

The legal term, justified, is used to describe our standing with God. What does the word mean? It means you are innocent of the sin you have committed. Your past sin is expunged or erased, as if it never happened. Yes, you have sinned against God, but now you are declared innocent. Is that because God doesn’t care about sin, or He takes your wickedness lightly? No, a thousand times no!  Why did Jesus die on the cross? Your precious Lord died for your sin so you wouldn’t have to face life and eternity separated from God.

God has done everything necessary to save you, and the one thing you must do to have your sin and its penalty canceled is to put your faith in Him, to trust him with your entire being. You don’t have to agonize over the future of your soul; God declared you “innocent” the moment you accepted Jesus as your Savior. You are justified, pronounced NOT GUILTY, before God. The battle is over, and you are at peace with Him by faith. Your trust in Him brings you into a relationship of grace where you are especially pleasing to God. And, because of faith, you can live in the joyful expectation of your eternal future with Jesus, your Lord. Not Guilty, what an indescribable verdict !! Live in that victory today.

Postscript: Do you occasionally have past sins called to your attention? Are you sometimes reminded of the wicked things you once said or did before you accepted Jesus? Who or what is that? It is the work of the accuser, the devil, attempting to discourage you. The evil one is alive and well and wants to cause you to doubt your salvation and lessen your witness for your living Lord. By faith you have been brought into a place of grace (Romans 5:2). Your standing with God is secure. When the devil visits, remind him that you belong to Jesus and watch him run.

Adventures in Faith: What is Faith?

As we enter upon this journey, let’s think about the kind of faith adventure we will be taking. There are different ways to use the word “faith.” For example, we may refer to a person as adhering to the Christian Faith, Jewish Faith, or the Moslem Faith. This way, the term refers to a somewhat orderly set of doctrines or beliefs to which the believer subscribes. Don’t worry; this is not the destination of our adventure.

I think there are three categories of faith. First is the type of faith I like to think of as practical, everyday faith. This faith allows me to depend on and use electricity, drive my car, rest in my bed, eat my food and go about my daily life without being frozen in fear. Most of us learn to use this kind of faith from our early years. Our physical existence depends on it, we can’t live without practical faith.

Then there is the faith of mental ascent; I can accept my religion’s doctrines and teachings in my head, but believing those truths may not change the way I live. Faith that does not change me is the kind of faith James refers to in James 2:19: “You believe there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that and shudder.” I can “believe” there is one Supreme Being, but if that belief doesn’t reach a deeper part of me and change my character, it is useless. If you recognize what I have just described as your faith journey, I want to invite you to embrace a very different and risky kind of faith.

The faith I challenge you to consider has some elements of the two just mentioned but is uniquely different in one important way. That difference is a living relationship with the unseen God who becomes the sustaining and guiding Source of your life. What is this “faith” I’m talking about? Biblical faith has knowledge and action parts to it, just like the two faiths I have already mentioned. Biblical faith, however, challenges you to take a “leap” into the unseen reality we refer to as “spiritual.” Biblical faith is trust in the unseen God and acting in obedience to what He reveals to you to do. Hebrews 11:1 tells you this faith is the key to, the foundation for the life for which God has created you. You can only receive eternal life and become the person God intends you to be by this kind of faith.

This kind of faith often defies human knowledge and understanding and calls for actions that may not “make sense” at the moment. Abram demonstrates this kind of faith as he obeys the call of God, leaving his homeland in search of the place God promises to give to his descendants. Noah works for seventy years building an ark on dry land because God tells him he and his family will begin a new civilization after the great flood.

We who enter the adventure of biblical faith have much in common with the biblical heroes who have gone before us. We believe in the unseen reality of God, trust and act on His guidance through his word, prayer, and His Spirit. Our faith endures and sees us through tough times when God seems silent and looks with hope and assurance that He is working in everything for good to all who love Him and participate in His purpose.

In the coming blogs, we will join the adventures of many biblical characters and discover some of the things they learned about themselves. It is my hope that your faith will be strengthened, deepened, and your commitment to this adventure will increase as you know more about the loving and trustworthy God you serve. Keep the faith and see what God is going to do in your life.

What’s coming next week?  We’ll build on what we’ve learned today and discuss the question: Why is faith important? Give some serious thought to this before reading my blog next week. Thanks and have a faithful week.