The Day of Heroes

There have always been great men and women. Every country and culture has (or at least had) them. Men and women who contributed to their fellowman in ways that shaped the future. They stand out from the rest of us as people worthy of our respect.

They are people like Gandhi, and Marie Curie, and Churchill, and George Washington to name just a few. People who walked with feet of clay, yet managed to elevate not only themselves, but everyone around them. They were the few who could inspire the many. They left the world better than they found it.

They are the people who are immortalized in books and in the memories of not just their countrymen but people around the world. They are the heroes that we look up to.

Unfortunately, the definition – or at least the perception, of heroes has changed. If the posters on the walls (both physical and social) of many teens and I suspect many schools is any indication, heroes today are chosen using a different criterion than in the past. Heroes today are chosen for their entertainment value not for their sacrifice.

The day of true heroes is quickly slipping away.

God too has his heroes. There’s a group of them listed in Hebrews chapter eleven. People like Abraham and Moses and Samson and David. People who stood for God and for righteousness. They are still inspiring people generations later.

The irony of these heroes is that we don’t even know the names of most of them. They are the anonymous heroes of the world. They are the ones of whom it was said, the world was not worthy (Hebrews 11:38) of them.

Here’s the thing about these heroes that makes them stand out from all of the great people of history. They were heroes to God.

We think in terms of heroes to men. Men and women who are remembered and recognized as great by the rest of us. But you don’t have to be recognized by people to be a hero to God. What matters is that God knows who you are. That’s what’s really important. To be a hero among men is one thing but to be a hero to God raises it to another dimension.

So, go out and be a hero.

Sure, be a hero to your family and your children. But more importantly, be a hero to God.

The Day of Heroes does not have to end.

Stay in the Word

Pastor Steve

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Standing With the Others

This has been called the era of Celebrity Christianity. It’s a term that has been used in a variety of different ways. Some use it to refer to Christians who adopt the lifestyles and mindsets of secular celebrities. To others it has the connotation of Christian leaders acting like celebrities – you know, special treatment, more recognition, more power and more influence.

Then again it can refer to the Christian subculture and our need to have our own celebrities. People we look up to. People we can emulate. People who give us hope that we can make it just like they made it.

Over the years evangelical Christianity has developed a parallel universe with our own schools, our own publishers, our own musicians, and even our own celebrities.

Every culture has their celebrities. Every culture seems to have a need for celebrities. People who have made it in life. The rest of us are just the others still hoping to make it.

The Bible presents a vastly different picture.

Hebrews 11 is a good example. In the first 34 verses it relates the faith of some of the greatest “celebrities” in the Bible. People like Enoch, Noah, Abraham and Sarah, Jacob and his son Joseph, and Moses. People who were celebrities in the right sense of the word.

Then you get to verse 35 and it says others . . .

We all know about Enoch and Noah and Abraham. We’re familiar with Jacob and Joseph and Moses. And we know that we aren’t worthy to carry their bags. But what about the others that the writer mentions? Those unnamed, anonymous followers of God who lived by faith even though they faced mocking and scourging, yes, and of chains and imprisonments. They were stoned, they were sawn in two, were tempted, were slain with sword; they wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, tormented – of whom the world was not worthy. They wandered in deserts and mountains, in dens and caves of the earth (Hebrews 11:36-38). They were just ordinary people – people like you and me. But people who knew what it meant to live by faith.

Up until verse 35 most of the things that are said of the people who are named are positive. They walked with God. They were obedient. They led great nations and conquered great cities.

All of that changes when you come to the others. They had great trials, suffered for God, were homeless and wandered destitute. No glory here. This is not the stuff of Celebrity Christianity.

But it is the stuff of our lives. Most of us live on the other side of verse 35. The hard side. History will probably not record your name. You will stand anonymous, unnamed.

But not to God. He knows. And ultimately that’s all that counts.

God is not looking for the next Abraham or Moses. He’s not looking for another Christian Celebrity. He’s looking for ordinary people, the others, who will live with courageous faith. He’s looking for people of whom He can say the world was not worthy of them (Hebrews 11:38). He’s just looking for people who will be faithful no matter what life throws at them.

The truth is we don’t need more Christian Celebrities. We need more others.

It’s an awesome heritage and responsibility that has been left to us to live life with the others.

Stay in the Word
Pastor Steve

You Are Here to Make a Difference

I read with interest the commencement address given by Dr. Al Mohler, president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, to more than 270 graduates from that institution. It was a powerful challenge to go into the world not merely to make a difference in this world, but also in the world to come.

As he addressed the graduating class he reminded them that they were being sent out to do what God has called and gifted and empowered them to do – to teach and preach the Word of God, to shepherd the flock of God, to guard the good deposit and to follow the pattern of sound words, to herald the good tidings of the Gospel, to teach the church, to counsel believers, to reach the unreached and to comfort the afflicted. They are set forth to defend the truth, to contend for the faith once for all delivered to the saints, to mourn with those who mourn, and to minister in Christ’s name and stead.

What Dr. Mohler said to his graduates should be true, not just of them, but of every believer. You may not have been called to shepherd the flock of God as a pastor, or stand in front of a congregation to teach and preach, but we have all been called to preach the Word of God with our lives; we have all been called to guard the truth; we have all been called to follow the teachings of scripture; we have all been called to share the Gospel; and we have all been called to comfort the afflicted and mourn with those who mourn. In short we have all been called to minister the grace of God in Christ’s name and as His surrogates.

That thought brought me to Hebrews 11. One of the things that we often miss about this great chapter in the Bible is the Others. We all know about Enoch and Noah and Abraham, Sarah and Isaac. We’re familiar with Jacob and Joseph and Moses. And we know that we aren’t worthy to carry their bags. But what about the Others that the writer mentions? Those unnamed, anonymous followers of God who lived by faith even though they faced mocking and scourging, yes, and of chains and imprisonments. They were stoned, they were sawn in two, were tempted, were slain with sword; They wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, tormented – of whom the world was not worthy. They wandered in deserts and mountains, in dens and caves of the earth (Hebrews 11:36-38). They were just ordinary people – people like you and me. But people who knew what it meant to live by faith.

As followers of Christ you stand in the line of the Others of Hebrews 11. You have been called to take up the torch, to carry the light. It is an awesome heritage and responsibility that has been left to you. God is not looking for the next Billy Graham; He’s looking for ordinary people, the Others, who will live with courageous faith. He’s looking for people of whom He can say the world was not worthy of them. You have been sent out not merely to make a difference in this world, but also in the world to come.

To again quote Dr. Mohler, can you imagine a Christian who is not moved and motivated by such a vision?

Stay in the Word

Pastor Steve