From the monthly archives:

September 2009

Endurance

September 23, 2009

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You have need of endurance… Hebrews 10:36

God honoring faith apart from endurance is impossible.  For faith to have its perfect result it must be matched step by step with endurance… the quality that continues to stand when there is no strength left to stand (Ephesians 6:13-14).  The writer of Hebrews tells us how far endurance is to last when he writes to the persecuted saints who had endured the seizing of their property and the alienation of the community when they first came to Christ.

In challenging – not coddling – them to stand firm, he says you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding blood.  For the saints in the cushy first-class cabin of the western church, this standard from God’s Word concerning faith and endurance is seldom  mentioned.  It is truly one of the bible’s dirty little secrets.

Hannibal of Carthage was the one general in history to route the fabled warriors of the Roman Legion.  The campaign to conquer the world was put on hold when winter arrived and Hannibal moved his troops to the captured city of Capua in southern Italy, a city infested with luxury and ease.  William Barclay writes,

One winter in Capua did what the Roman legions had not succeeded in doing.  The luxury so sapped the morale of the Carthaginian troops that when the spring came and the campaign was resumed they were unable to stand before the Romans.  Ease had ruined them when struggle had only toughened them.

If  Paul wrote Hebrews, he was writing again the familiar drum beat of his life captured in his letter to the Philippian church,
…that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death.

If it was another writer, his message was the same as Paul, Peter, James and John who all understood that great endurance was a core ingredient of a life lived in faith.  You cannot separate the two.  Faith and endurance are two sides of the same Gospel coin.

But how does one gain endurance in a world where instant relief runs the gamut from fast food to fast-track careers?  How does one learn endurance when cell phones, instant messaging and Twitter re-define “waiting” as seconds instead of years?

The not-quite-king David offers a path without giving away the steps… those are left to anyone who will seek the Lord.  The story is heartbreaking.  David had been chased and harassed by Saul for a decade.  Hiding in caves and strongholds, his time running out, he crossed the river and joins rank with his sworn enemy, the Philistines.  As the armies of kings marched to battle the Israelites, they saw David and his men marching along with them and raised such an objection that David was not allowed to continue.

Turning towards home, he and his men were at the low mark of endurance.  Rejected by Israel, refused by the Philistines, they were without a country and home.  Soon, they were within miles of the stronghold city of Ziklag where their families waited.

But while they were gone, Amalekites had attacked the city and taken captive all of the women and children.  His men had had enough.  The talk was of stoning David.  No strength left… what to do now?

The cries of the hardened battle warriors ringing in his ears, the fear of the impending death by stoning and the personal pain of loosing his own family was crushing him.  But what follows are words that give little direction – no “one, two, three’s” here – but a landscape view of how to endure.  1 Samuel 30:6 simply states,

David strengthened himself in the Lord his God.

I do not know how.
I do not know what.
I do not understand his method.

All I know is, alone with God, at the low point of a miserable season of rejection, physical danger, loneliness and distress David found himself with his God who told him to endure one more day.  It was written of Gideon that after defeating Midian, he and only 300 men chased the enemy relentlessly.  Judges 8:4 could also be said of David,

…they crossed over, WEARY YET PURSUING…
Ephesians 6:13…
…when you have done all to stand, STAND FIRM…
1 Peter 4:12…
Do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal among you, which comes upon you
FOR YOUR TESTING, as though some strange thing were happening to you..
James 5:11…
We count those blessed WHO ENDURE.

Rear Admiral Joe Maguire is a legendary Navy SEAL warrior.  His words to the soldiers who train to become the most highly trained warriors in the history of the world, the Navy SEALS, are, “Don’t give in to the pressure of the moment.  Whenever your hurting bad, just hang in there.  Finish the day…take it one day at a time… don’t look ahead to the pain.  Just get through the day, and there’s a wonderful career ahead for you.”

For the Christian who values the quality of endurance and revels in the opportunities to produce it, the reward is much more than a wonderful career.  Approval for the Christian comes when we have run the race to the end… persevering under trial.  What awaits us is no less than the Crown of Life.  The book of Revelations uses the word “overcomes” eight different times, promising bountiful other-world blessings to those who endure.

There is no greater promise that can be made and no more trustworthy promise to believe.  So don’t give up.  Endure.  There is a wonderful Eternity ahead for you. Finish the day!

And let endurance have its perfect result,
that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.
James 1:4

Maranatha!



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September 15, 2009

September 16, 2009

In the past week, I’ve spoken with most of our Congressional offices and solicited their support in our appeal which is now before the third board of consideration.  By Friday of this week we will have an answer and need your support in prayer throughout the process.

I was reminded this morning to pray the prayer of David from Psalm 86:17…

“Show me a sign for good!”

Jan and my trust is completely in the loving hands of Jesus with whom we have walked and known now for many years.  We are taking great comfort and courage through the truth that is found in God’s Word such as,

The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord and He delights in his way.
Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down;
For the Lord upholds him with His hand.
I have been young and now am old,
Yet I have not see the righteous forsaken nor his descendants begging bread.
He is ever merciful and lends and his descendants are blessed.
Psalm 37:23-26

I want you to know that we are standing on the solid rock of His proven love for us and we do not doubt His constant care.  Please pray that God will speak to those considering this appeal… and don’t worry about us!  The days are stressful, to say the least, but we are strong and remain steady with our hope fixed on Jesus.

Thanks for praying.

Dennis and Jan



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Loaves and Fishes

September 9, 2009

What was it like to follow Jesus?  What was it like to be so close to Him that you could actually be a helper in His miracles?  One little boy had the opportunity in the countryside around Galilee.  What a day it was for a little boy whose name might have been Seth. __________________________________________ “Seth, […]

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Real World Faith

September 6, 2009

There is nothing more debilitating to faith then lack of persistence.  For those who have the scars and wisdom of experience, the ask, seek, knock formula that is so easily preached becomes the journey of a lifetime.  It is the often ignored lifeline in the middle of the storm.  What I want is deliverance. What […]

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