Going Down to the Brook

By Kevin Cauley

It seems that on every side we turn now a days, we find a nation that is increasingly hostile toward Christianity. From Rosie O’Donnel’s comments that fundamentalists Christians are worse than radical Islamists to Bill Maher’s mocking the Lord’s supper by comparing it to a homosexual affair, we find in popular culture that hostile and offensive comments toward Christians are becoming the norm. Moreover, the ACLU intimidated bureaucracy also continues to hammer away at Christian liberties: denying prayer, refusing some the right to publicly demonstrate, removing “in God we trust” from public view and countless other injustices that are too numerous to include here. So what is a Christian to do in such a society?

First, there is the prayer and fasting. When we look at the example of the early church in seemingly impossible situations, we find them employing these means. Acts 12 records for us that Herod had just put James to death with the sword. He had Peter in prison and was waiting for the Passover to end so that he could then kill him as well. The church was praying, fasting, that somehow such would not occur. And in these days of the miraculous, God intervenes and rescues Peter from Herod’s death grip. Did fasting and prayer make a difference? Absolutely. It made a difference when nothing else could have made a difference. And while God doesn’t work miraculously today, he can work in ways that are beyond our comprehension to answer the saint’s supplication ( Ephesians 3:20). Such is the privilege of the Christian that when we have nowhere else to turn, we can turn to God.

Second, we can continue to teach the doctrine of Christ and move individuals to become disciples. Some attribute Abraham Lincoln to saying “I destroy all of my enemies by making them my friends.” We need to adopt this attitude as well. This doesn’t mean that we become milquetoasts, caving and cowering to avoid offense. No. To the contrary, Christians of the first century were quite bold when faced with opposition. Paul told Elymas the Sorcerer, “O full of all guile and all villany, thou son of the devil, thou enemy of all righteousness, wilt thou not cease to pervert the right ways of the Lord?” He wielded the sword of the Spirit ( Ephesians 6:17) to condemn and convict. His boldness swayed Sergius Paulus, the one honest of heart, to become a believer ( Acts 13:4-13).

Third, we can take advantage of our political opportunities to stand up for the truth. When Paul was faced with jail or death, he would often resort to such an option. He told the authorities in Philippi after his unlawful imprisonment that he was a Roman citizen ( Acts 16:37) and as such he had certain rights that could not be violated. He repeated the same right to a centurion that was about to flog him in Acts 22:25. Paul stood before proconsuls, kings, and emperors to defend his faith often times waiting in prison for months, years on end to get his opportunity to speak. Many, perhaps, would criticize Paul for being such a sparkplug; they may say that much of this could have been avoided. What was Paul’s attitude? He said, “woe is unto me, if I preach not the gospel” ( 1 Corinthians 9:16) and “I die daily” ( 1 Corinthians 15:31). He was zealous with a godly zealousy ( 2 Corinthians 11:2).

Today these political opportunities take the form of participation in polls, petitions, peaceful protest and yes, even demanding our rights when the opportunity arises. Participating in online forums, polls, and petitions provides us with a way to speak on the issues of the day. Would to God that we had more individuals willing to stand in the gap and brave the gauntlet of a hostile culture to stand up for what is right!

Consider the lesson that Martin Niemoeller teaches us. The Nazis imprisoned him at the Sachsenhausen and Dachau concentration camps beginning in 1937. He wrote:

When the Nazis came for the communists,
I remained silent;
I was not a communist.

When they locked up the social democrats,
I remained silent;
I was not a social democrat.

When they came for the trade unionists,
I did not speak out;
I was not a trade unionist.

When they came for me,
there was no one left to speak out.

Will Christians be overrun because we failed to speak out? I pray that the future will be otherwise, but I’m not staying on my knees to find out. I’ll be out there seeking to counter the cultural melee against Christianity. Like David, I’ll not be content to sit back with the defied and silent multitudes. Instead, I’ll be going down to the brook, taking action where others will not ( 1 Samuel 17:40).

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My Broken TV

By Kevin Cauley

A few years ago I bought a small VHS/TV combo from Wal-Mart so the kids could watch videos while traveling. Today we’ve pretty much converted to DVD, so we’ve been using that small television for the boys’ video games and cable TV from time to time. About a month ago this TV started doing something really strange. We would turn it on and then, after about five seconds, it would turn itself off. The rest of the TV seems to be working OK. The reception is good and display of picture and changing channels and etc. However, it simply refuses to stay on! So, it is useless to us as it sits in my bedroom waiting for me to decide whether I want to get it fixed or not.

I’ve been thinking about this television and how some Christians have the same problem. Consider that there are some Christians who turn on for a short period of time, but then they quickly turn off again until someone else comes along and pushes their button. I’m thinking about those Christians who may attend services only once in a while, get all fired up, and then go right back into a worldly pattern of living. Perhaps we can learn a few lessons from my on again/off again television.

First, it is extremely difficult to watch a television when it turns off every five seconds. Consider the difficulty for unbelievers to observe the pure Christian life in the on again/off again Christian. Unbelievers watch Christians and evaluate our behavior based upon our own standards of right and wrong. If I’m an on again/off again Christian, my behavior isn’t going to be consistent with those standards. My speech won’t be pure; my lifestyle may not be pure; perhaps my marriage will be on the rocks. People will see me as a hypocrite and not a true Christian. Christians must live as Christians. Paul says we walk by faith ( 2 Corinthians 5:7) and that faith comes by hearing the word of God ( Romans 10:17). We must know God’s word and live by it in order to live the life of faith so that we won’t be an on again/off again Christian.

Second, just as my television is in obvious need of repair, so is the on again/off again Christian. How does this Christian repair his life? He repents! Paul told all of those who he taught both Jews and Gentiles to turn to God and do works worthy of repentance ( Acts 26:20). Peter told Simon the sorcerer to repent when he sinned against God and pray for forgiveness ( Acts 8:22). Simon then asked Peter to pray for him. On again/off again Christians need to have this attitude as well. We can be forgiven of our sins if we ask. God is willing to forgive, if we repent ( 2 Peter 3:9) and He will forgive up to seventy times seven in one day if our repentance is from the heart ( Matthew 18:22). This is great incentive to live like a Christian every day.

Third, just as my on again/off again television is useless to me, so also, the on again/off again Christian is useless to Jesus. If he fails to repent he’ll be like the Laodiceans in Revelation 3:16. Jesus said because they were lukewarm, he would spew them out of his mouth and “No man, having put his hand to the plow, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God” ( Luke 9:62). Jesus’ message in Matthew 25 is that the on again/off again Christian will find himself with the unfaithful in the final judgment.

I have not resolved what to do with my television yet, but let’s resolve not to be on again/off again Christians. When God pushes our button to “on” he expects it to stay on and not to give up. If we turn off, let’s repent and turn back on quickly. We don’t want to disappoint Him.

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The Turnip Congress

By Kevin Cauley

“On the twenty-fifth of July, Sow your turnips, wet or dry.”

There may be a few among us that remember President Harry Truman. I am currently reading a biography about his life. While President Truman brought a swift end to the war with Japan and deftly handled United States foreign policy, Mr. Truman did not start off as a popular president domestically. In fact, half way through his first term the nation elected a republican congress to express their disapproval with his efforts. Four months before the 1948 election his approval rating was down to 36 percent. The republican candidate, New York governor Thomas Dewey, was considered a shoe in. But Truman wasn’t beat yet. He called a special session of congress during his democratic nomination acceptance speech calling for the congress to pass bills on social security, health care, and civil rights. They were to convene on the twenty-fifth of July, Turnip Day in Missouri. Dubbed the Turnip Congress, they failed to get the bills passed. Truman’s campaign speeches became highly critical of the do-nothing republican congress, and Truman, against all odds, was re-elected president in the fall.

The turnip congress was a complaining congress. They griped and complained about how poorly Truman was doing his job, but they failed to do anything better. Perhaps we ought to consider if we are a turnip Christian. Are we so preoccupied with the poor way that others are doing their jobs in the church that we fail to see our own failures and inabilities? Philippians 2:14 says, “Do all things without murmurings and questionings” and James 5:9 states, “Murmur not, brethren, one against another, that ye be not judged: behold, the judge standeth before the doors.” Where is our focus? If all we can see are the other guy s failings, without considering our own and without offering an alternative plan for improvement, then we may be a turnip Christian.

The turnip congress was a do-nothing congress. Truman really gave them an opportunity to shine in that fifteen-day session beginning July 26th, of 1948. If they had passed some legislation and done something, Truman would have been finished. Instead, they did nothing. Are we do-nothing Christians? Jesus said, “Every one therefore that heareth these words of mine, and doeth them, shall be likened unto a wise man, who built his house upon the rock” ( Matthew 7:24). James wrote, “But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deluding your own selves” ( James 1:22). As Christians we are not to sit idly by and wait on someone else to do our job. We must be willing to do it ourselves. If we cannot get busy and do what we have been called to do, then we may be a turnip Christian.

The turnip congress was a defeated congress. Not only did Truman win the Presidency in the fall, but the republican congress was kicked out and a democratic congress took it’s place. Are we destined to be defeated Christians? There’s a serious question to ponder. It reminds me of what Jesus said about the one talent man who did nothing with what he had. “Take ye away therefore the talent from him, and give it unto him that hath the ten talents. For unto every one that hath shall be given, and he shall have abundance: but from him that hath not, even that which he hath shall be taken away. And cast ye out the unprofitable servant into the outer darkness: there shall be the weeping and the gnashing of teeth.” ( Matthew 25:28-30). If we cannot find a way to use our abilities to serve the Lord profitably, then we may be a turnip Christian.

God wants us to be successful in our Christian walk. However, we must have the right attitude and make a modicum of effort in that walk. We have all the tools we need to do the job before us; we’ve been called by God into special session; now what will we do with it? Will we simply be a turnip Christian or will we work to accomplish God’s goals on earth through faithful service? May we all seek to be more than a mere turnip.

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