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Virtue at the Testing Point

Psalm 34:4 “I sought the LORD, and he heard me, and delivered me from all my fears.”

Joshua 1:9 “Have not I commanded thee?  Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed:  for the LORD thy God is with thee withersoever thou goest.”

Deuteronomy 3:28 “But charge Joshua, and encourage him, and strengthen him:  for he shall go over before this people, and he shall cause them to inherit the land which thou shalt see.”

British author and theologian C.S. Lewis wrote the following:  “Courage is not simply one of the virtues, but the form of every virtue at the testing point.”

Much of society is gripped by fear in the midst of the unique and daunting challenges that we continue to face.  Individuals are afraid of a virus, afraid of sickness, afraid of death, afraid of the economic downturn, afraid of unemployment, afraid of a reshaping of society, afraid of lost educational opportunities, afraid of loneliness, afraid of the missed opportunities to recognize milestones, and afraid of the erosion of essential institutions like the local church.  They face fear alone, socially separated from their traditional pillars of resilience and sources of encouragement.  It need not be so!

God has not left us to fend for ourselves, even if we are suffering through the challenges of human isolation.  He is with us wherever we are, and He goes with us wherever we go.  He offers us strength and courage.  He charges us to encourage others – thus uplifting them, reminding them of God’s presence, and filling them with the courage that is lacking during their flagging moments.  It is a virtue necessary now to buoy all other virtues, and is a way for Christians to vividly demonstrate our faith to a world whose courage may have waned long ago when first reaching their testing point.

PLEASE PRAY FOR A CHRISTIAN CHARACTERISTIC OF COURAGE THROUGH CHRIST.  It will define our virtue at the testing point, and demonstrate a faith that is unwavering in a God that in unconquerable.

Reflecting the Divine

Ephesians 2:8-9 “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves:  it is the gift of God:  Not of works, lest any man should boast.”

I Corinthians 13:13 “And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.”

Philippians 2:3-4 “Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves.  Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others.”

Matthew 22:37-40 “Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all they soul, and with all thy mind.  This is the first and great commandment.  And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.  On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.”

I recently came across a superb article published in Psychology Today.  “Ethics in a Pandemic Age” was written by Dr. Michael Austin, a professor at the United States Air Force Academy (see link below).  Though it is written from a secular perspective, it contains superb spiritual truths.

Dr. Austin’s thesis is that “it is a cold world where everyone only cleans up the messes they were responsible for making.”  He contends that our proper response to a COVID-19 world characterized by anxiety, fear, and a concern over our own well-being is activity focused on grace, generosity, and gratitude instead of a priority on rigid rules, rights and responsibilities.

None of this discounts the importance of rules, rights, and responsibilities, but Dr. Austin contends that it is better for society if these are not the dominant considerations in our lives.  For our own mental health, and for the mutual benefit of society, we are to exude grace, generosity, and gratitude.

This challenge by Dr. Austin is a perfect recipe for American Christians and American Christian churches in such an age.  It is how our Saviour was victorious in a world characterized by a crisis of sin.  It is how we can demonstrate our distinct worldview that loves God and loves others as our top priorities.  It is the way that we can break the cycle of fear and showcase the characteristics of Christ.  It is a way that we can reflect our loving God’s ability to clean up the messes of humanity that are solely our responsibility.

PLEASE PRAY FOR AMERICAN CHRISTIANS TO LIVE WITH DISTINCTION BY REFLECTING THE DIVINE.  Let us lead our society through the current crisis through divine demonstrations of grace, generosity, and gratitude.

“Ethics in a Pandemic Age” can be found at:

Our Finest Hour

Esther 4:13-14 “Then Mordecai commanded to answer Esther, Think not with thyself that thou shalt escape in the king’s house, more than all the Jews.  For if thou altogether holdest thy peace at this time, then shall there enlargement and deliverance arise to the Jews from another place; but thou and thy father’s house shall be destroyed:  and who knoweth whether thou art come to the kingdom for such a time as this?”

Prime Minister Winston Churchill stated the following:

“To each there comes in their lifetime a special moment when they are figuratively tapped on the shoulder and offered the chance to do a very special thing, unique to them and fitted to their talents.  What a tragedy if that moment finds them unprepared or unqualified for that which could have been their finest hour.”

Esther, like each of us, was created for just such a special moment.  She was directed to faithfully stand up for her people in a way that was uniquely related to her position and fitted to her talents.  She lived up to her finest hour by doing so, and what a tragedy it would have been if she was not prepared for that moment. 

Churchill’s quote applies to us as individuals.  There will be a time for each of us when we are tapped on the shoulder and offered the chance to do a very special thing unique to us and fitted to our talents.  Yet, this quote also applies to us collectively as American Christians in 2020, especially through the challenges we are currently facing.  Now is the time for us to rise up to God’s calling in our lives to faithfully live for Him, to reach out to serve others, to resolutely stand for His Word, to fervently seek revival, and to urgently pray for our nation.  This is our special moment and it can be our finest hour.

PLEASE PRAY FOR THE ABILITY TO RISE TO OUR RESPONSIBILITIES IN LIVING FAITHFULLY FOR GOD IN OUR TIME.  We have been sent here for such a time as this.  The Holy Spirit is tapping us on the shoulder and offering us the chance to do a very special thing for this special moment.  May this be our finest hour!

Effectual Fervent Prayer

James 5:13-16 “Is any among you afflicted?  let him pray.  Is any merry?  let him sing psalms.  Is any sick among you?  let him call for the elders of the church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord:  And the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up; and if he have committed sins, they shall be forgiven him.  Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed.  The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.”

II Chronicles 7:14 “If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.”

I Thessalonians 5:17 “Pray without ceasing.”

Only about a month ago, in what seems like a different lifetime on different planet, I went to one of my favorite barbeque restaurants for a sit-down meal.  Mission BBQ serves outstanding food and provides a patriotic environment that stresses love of country and support for the military and first responders.  I must have never been there at noon, because I discovered a unique daily ritual at that time that surprised and pleased me.  When the clock strikes twelve, they stop serving food, they turn on the U.S. National Anthem, the customers rise, and the staff and customers all face the flag in the center of the room and pay tribute to our nation.  It was a striking scene of pride and patriotism.

If a restaurant will take a few minutes daily to demonstrate love of country at lunchtime, how much the more should Christians demonstrate love of God and country daily by praying faithfully and fervently for our nation and her leaders … at lunchtime or during another dedicated time on your schedule.  That is exactly what the PLUS Ministry is all about, and it is needed now more than ever.  It is part of our responsibility to help heal the unhealthy and save the sick.  It is part of a worship-filled spirit that prays without ceasing.  It is a fundamental component of the recipe for revival.  If Christians would faithfully do so, it would be a striking scene of pride, patriotism, praise, and piety.

PLEASE DEDICATE YOURSELF TO DAILY, FAITHFUL, FERVENT PRAYER FOR OUR NATION AND FOR OUR LEADERS.  The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much!

Biblically Literate

II Timothy 3:16-17 “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:  That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.”

Job 23:12 “Neither have I gone back from the commandment of his lips; I have esteemed the words of his mouth more than my necessary food.”

“Call Sign Chaos” is a masterful leadership book from the former Secretary of Defense, General Jim Mattis.  In it, he shares powerful words about the importance of functional literacy:

“Reading is an honor and a gift from a warrior or historian who – a decade or a thousand decades ago – set aside time to write.  He distilled a lifetime of campaigning in order to have a ‘conversation’ with you.  We have been fighting on this planet for ten thousand years; it would be idiotic and unethical to not take advantage of such accumulated experiences.  If you haven’t read hundreds of books, you are functionally illiterate, and you will be incompetent, because your personal experiences alone aren’t broad enough to sustain you.  Any commander who claims he is ‘too busy to read’ is going to fill body bags with his troops as he learns the hard way.”

Yes, General Mattis calls you idiotic, incompetent and functionally illiterate if you are not well read, especially if the lives of others are in your hands.

God delivered to us His perfect Word.  It is profitable for what to believe, what not to believe, how to live, and how to not live.  It is specifically designed to thoroughly furnish all of us based on the infallible Word of God that distills an eternity of wisdom into a single book.  The lives and eternities of those around us are in our hands.

Job was left diseased and destitute by the attacks of Satan.  He was surrounded by death and discouragement.  Job would have never been able to handle the chaos around him without the reassuring strength provided by God’s Word.  Job was Biblically literate, and it made all the difference in the face of the panic and pessimism that swirled around him.


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