Monday, January 6, 2014

Stand Up and Speak

Jesus rides into Jerusalem on a donkey with the shouts of “Hosanna!  Blessed is the King of Israel that comes in the name of the Lord!”  People are throwing their coats in his path, waving palm branches, and declaring Him King with their cries of praise.  It is a joyous event as people outwardly proclaim the Kingship of the Lord with their mouths.  However, not everyone is festive; the Pharisees refuse to recognize Jesus as the Messiah and promptly ask him to rebuke His disciples.  Jesus responds by telling them, “If these are to be silent, the stones would immediately cry out.”

Even the rocks of the city will not hold their voice in declaring the glory and majesty of the Messiah!  Picture that! 

As Christians, we can learn so much from this tiny passage of Scripture (taken from Luke 19).  Often we forget or neglect to honor and proclaim God with our mouths and yet we have been given an unthinkable gift.  We are saved from our sin through the blood of Jesus Christ; we will spend an eternity worshiping the Lord; no longer are we bound by the chains of sin… but how do we forget to speak of these things to others?  Even the very stones of the pavement will cry out and worship the Lord and yet, it’s easy for us to go about our lives as Closet Christians.

Fear is something that can keep up from speaking out about our faith.  The devil doesn’t want any more people to come to Christ, so he will do anything he can by putting his icy grip of fear around your neck.  We listen to the devil’s lies and feel that we might offend, anger, or even not reach a person if we talk about Christ.  However, usually the exact opposite happens!  I have found that when I do state that I am a Christian to a nonbeliever or share something about my beliefs, I am empowered by the Holy Spirit.  The Lord has commanded us to share our faith with others and He will open the ears and soften the hearts and give the strength; it’s just up to us to speak.  As Matthew 28:19 says, Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:”

The other day I was listening to some Christian music and was comparing Keith Green with Steven Curtis Chapman.  As a songwriter, I want to listen to lots of music so I can learn how to bring the flow of words to the flow of music.  In my opinion, Steven Curtis Chapman is like a modern day Keith Green.  Both write songs with convicting and joyful lyrics and both sound like quality music from their time.  While listening back and forth between the two of them, I realized that I heard two songs that were very similar in content.  It was from those lyrics that I began to see that this topic is something that every Christian needs to heed.

Consider the similarities (these are just some sections and not the complete songs):

Now think about this, if we really have been given,

The gift of a life that will never end.

And if we have been filled with living hope were gonna overflow,

And if God’s love is burning in our hearts were gonna glow,

There’s just no way to keep it in.
Every corner of creation is a living declaration,

Come join the song we were made to sing.

Wake the neighbors, get the word out

Come on, crank up the music, climb a mountain and shout

This is life weve been given, made to be lived out

So la la la la, live out loud

Live out loud!

~Steven Curtis Chapman, Live Out Loud

Thank You Jesus, for what you're doing for me,

Thank you Jesus, I want the whole world to see,

That you're not just a picture on the wall in my room,

That you're faster than lightning, and you're coming back soon.

Thank you Jesus, for all the good things you do,

Thank you Jesus, I wish they all could know you,

That you're not just a book collecting dust on the shelf,

And if they don't want to read it, you're gonna be back to tell them yourself.

Thank you Jesus, for all the good things you've done,

Thank you Jesus, I really want to tell you Lord,

I'm having so much fun, loving You.

Thank you Jesus, for this here smile on my face,

I really want to shout it to the whole Human Race,

That you're not just this building on the corner where we meet,

They can know You in person, You're a pleasure to meet.

~Keith Green, Thank You, Jesus

Both of these singers proclaim the excitement and overjoy that is bursting from their hearts.  They aren’t a bit afraid to overflow with praise to God and it’s contagious to those who listen to them.

It should be the same with us.  I have found that just jumping out and doing the thing that feels like it might end up in a explosion usually ends up being accepted by those who don’t believe.  Of course this isn’t always the case and I have had many personal attacks from atheist and pro-abortion radicals through a pro-life ministry I work with.  They might call me horrible names for naming the name of Jesus Christ, but what does it matter?  If I stop proclaiming the Truth and that I believe in Jesus, I will give in to cowardliness.  If I shy away from naming the name of Christ, I don’t deserve what I have been given.  If I don’t speak, the rocks will.  How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher?  And how shall they preach, except they be sent? as it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things!”  Romans 10:14-15

Not only is it fear, but also I think there is a misconception of the presence of God.  Where is He?  The Lord is everywhere.  He is not somewhere "just up in heaven", dislocated from the constant on goings of ours lives.  No, He is right there beside us.  Forgetting that God is omnipresent can bring us into silence regarding Him.  We wouldn't want to live our lives like our best friend is always in the other room, but not right there by our sides, and so should it be with our very Best Friend; He is always by our sides, which gives us all the more reason to be bold as lions.  As it says in Jeremiah 15:3 “The eyes of the Lord are in every place, beholding the evil and the good.”  This should make us realize that not only is God watching over us, but He is also watching for us to proclaim His goodness.

Going back to Matthew 28:19, the next verse says, “And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”  Why should we fear others?  "For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind."  (2 Timothy 1:7)  Why should we slink into the dark corners of cowardliness?  "Yet if any man suffer as a Christian, let him not be ashamed; but let him glorify God on this behalf."  (1 Peter 4:16)  We don’t have to do either!  "For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth..."  (Romans 1:16)    We have a command to speak and our hearts should be overwhelmed with thanksgiving that looking straight into the eyes of a nonbeliever and saying, “I am a Christian” will fill us with power from God.  If the rocks can cry out and proclaim the majesty of our Lord Jesus Christ, then how much more can you?  Stand up and speak! 


Kyle Bowes said...

Thank you for the encouragement, Bethany! We need to be bold in our faith like never before in America!

I too have been attacked several times for my faith. One time during the Forty Days for Life campaign we took part in, I was yelled at so much by an angry man that someone hopped out of their truck and offered to call the police. Honestly, I struggled with doubt after that attack, but I have found since that resting in the promise of God's strength is so much more fulfilling than caving in to fear! May we all be bold and unashamed for Christ!

One of my favorite verses:

"Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous! Do not tremble or be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go." [Jos 1:9 NASB]

Bethany said...

Excellent, Kyle! That is a very comforting and strengthening verse.

That is quite a story! Yes, the Lord will always be in control. :)