Where Does Real Courage Come From?

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Mom and Dad - Part Two

We are pleased to announce Real Mercy (volume 3) has a scheduled release date of August 2015.  Wesleyan Publishing House has contracted Thad for 2 more books. In these current blogs, we’d like to share sneak peaks from volume 4. We hope you enjoy it.

Please note: Part One will be a devotion from scripture. Part Two will be a journal entry based on that scripture.
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My Journal

   My old friend had something I didn’t have growing up. He had the promises of God from Scripture written on his heart. You see, he was raised in a Christian home. His parents nurtured him, and his siblings, in the knowledge and love of the Lord.

   “I can still hear my Mom singing the great hymns of the Church,” he said to me one day. “And every night, we’d read the Bible and pray together as a family. Whenever I suffered from bouts of fear, there was never a shortage of family, friends, and people at church I could run to for prayer and comfort.”

   I didn’t have that.

   When I got afraid, all I could do is remember a song my Mom taught me.

            Whenever I feel afraid I hold my head erect
            And whistle a happy tune so no one will suspect
            I’m afraid

            When shivering in my shoes I strike a careless pose
            And whistle a happy tune and no one ever knows
            I’m afraid

   The song goes on to say, “Make believe you’re brave and the trick will take you far. You may be as brave as you make believe you are.” 1 Mom never sang that part. But I found it was true. Whistling didn’t work. It was all make believe.

   If only Mom and Dad had had given me the gift my old friend had.

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   As a child, I thought of fear as a monster.

   At night, alone in bed, I’d have a light on. That way, I could always look around and make sure he wasn’t there. I didn’t like him. I didn’t like the way he made me feel when he attacked. Like the time my family went out shopping. I was maybe 4 or 5. At one point, I reached up for my Dad’s hand and it wasn’t my Dad. This stranger looked down at me and scared me. I looked everywhere for my family and couldn’t find them. I screamed as loud as I could.

   Fear made me feel unsafe. Unprotected. Alone and far from home.

   My first day at school was a disaster. I’d seen my older brother and sister do it. But it was hard for me. I had the worst case of homesickness imaginable.

   Not long after, my Dad got a new job. We moved from Detroit to Lakeland, Florida. On the day we finished packing and got into the car to leave, we stopped at my grandparent’s house to say goodbye. My grandfather hugged me so hard it hurt. He was a giant of a man. I still remember the day my Mom took me to his office in downtown Detroit. This big office, way up high in a big building. I was starry-eyed.

   Great men like this don’t cry, right?

   But he did. On the day we moved to Florida, I saw his tears. I felt his sobs. I heard him try to speak but he couldn’t. It broke his heart for us to leave.

   And I knew then – it never goes away. Homesickness would be with me for the rest of my life. It’s simple, isn’t it? We are not supposed to be far from home, far from those we love. It’s where we are safe, secure, and protected. No monsters. No fear.

   “You’ll grow out of it,” a camp counselor told me when I was 12. It was my first summer away from home. With my face red and swollen from crying, embarrassed by my peers who called me names, I assured him he was wrong.

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   I told this story to my old friend.

   “It would’ve been different if I’d been raised like you -- knowing the promises of God in my heart,” I said.

   “Yes and no,” he said back.

   The stories came quite freely as he recounted the times when the Lord met him in his fears. “I’ve always had people around me who’ve known Jesus. They’ve known His promises. They’ve prayed and strengthened me when I had no strength. I’ve always had a home with my brothers and sisters in Christ.”

   But then he shook his head and I asked why.

   “I miss her,” he said sadly.

   And somehow, in that moment, I realized why his fears had come back with such vengeance. All these years, since his early twenties, he’s had his wife at his side. She knew, like no one else knew, how to bring her husband to Jesus and speak His words to his heart – calming him, comforting him. She was gone now – three years, I think.

   “You’re right,” he said. “It never leaves us. Homesick and afraid until He brings us home.” 2

   “I wish she was here,” I whispered.

   He gently nodded his head.
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Scripture Promise

“He has granted to us His precious and magnificent promises,

so that by them you may become partakers of the divine nature...”

2 Peter 1:4

1 Oscar Hammerstein and Richard Rogers, “I Whistle A Happy Tune,” taken from the play, The King and I, Rogers and Hammerstein Organization, New York, NY, 1951

2 Iain H. Murray, D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones: The First Forty Years, The Banner of Truth Trust, Edinburgh, 1982, p. 23-24. ML-J, recalling his childhood, said, “I suffered at the same time from a far greater sickness, and a more painful one, which has remained with me all along life’s path – and that was (homesickness).” He also said, “I believe that I shall never totally recover from this until I reach the country where we shall meet never to part anymore.” (D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones: The Fight of Faith 1939-1981, The Banner of Truth Trust, Edinburgh, 1990. p. 51).

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Mom and Dad – Part One

We are pleased to announce Real Mercy (volume 3) has a scheduled release date of August 2015.  Wesleyan Publishing House has contracted Thad for 2 more books. In these current blogs, we’d like to share sneak peaks from volume 4. We hope you enjoy it.

Please note: Part One will be a devotion from scripture. Part Two will be a journal entry based on that scripture.

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Two nations are in your womb; And two peoples will be separated from your body; And one people shall be stronger than the other;
 And the older shall serve the younger.

---Genesis 25:23

Jacob’s Story

Do the promises of God help us when we’re afraid?

Jacob’s first promise came from his Mom. It was during the days of her troubled pregnancy. For 20 years, she suffered with barrenness. Isaac married her at 40 and would not hold the twins until he was 60 (Gen 25:20, 26). He prayed all those years and, finally, “the Lord granted his prayer” (Gen 25:21 ESV). But the pregnancy wasn’t easy.

The boys wrestled in her womb.

Rebekah didn’t understand it and went to the Lord in prayer and asked why. We’re not told how He spoke to her, but He did, and He told her, “the older would serve the younger”, completely opposite to culture and Jewish tradition. But this was His promise, His purpose, His choice, and His call on Jacob and his offspring (Rom 9:10-13).

Is it possible this is why “Rebekah loved Jacob” while “Isaac loved Esau” (Gen 25:28)?

Did Isaac know about the promise? Did he believe it? Was it ever spoken out loud to Esau? And what about Jacob? Did Mom whisper it to him as a baby? Is it possible the promise burrowed deep in his soul from his earliest days so he knew – always knew – he was special to God? And his brother, poor Esau, would have to bend low and serve him?

How did it shape him – this gift from his Mom?

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            He had a bigger gift from his Dad.

            Forget how he got it. Fact is he got it – the coveted blessing of Abraham -- passed to his father Isaac and then to him. It was an irrevocable act, that’s the beauty of it. It was a legal transaction, signed and sealed by God Himself. When Esau heard the news, he “cried out with an exceedingly great and bitter cry” (Gen 27:34). But there was nothing his father Isaac could do to reverse it (Gen 27:33). The blessing had passed.

And with it, all the promises God gave to Abraham.

But one promise in fine print stands out: Jacob would forever dominate Esau. Isaac told Jacob in no uncertain terms:  “Be lord over your brothers, and may your mother’s sons bow down to you” (Gen 27:29 ESV). Isaac repeated it to Esau: “Behold, I have made him lord over you” and “you shall serve your brother” (Gen 27:37, 40).

Exactly what his Mom had said.

By an edict of God, Esau would never prevail. Not then. Not now. Jacob had no reason to fear this great army of 400 coming at him. He had the irrevocable promises of God given to him by his Mom and Dad. All he had to do was recount them. Believe them.

Then watch his fears vanish into thin air.

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John 15:1-11, the Vine and the branches. "Is He everything to you?