The Blueprint for Courage

Joshua 1:6-9 (New Living Translation)
 6 “Be strong and courageous, for you are the one who will lead these people to possess all the land I swore to their ancestors I would give them. 7 Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the instructions Moses gave you. Do not deviate from them, turning either to the right or to the left. Then you will be successful in everything you do. 8 Study this Book of Instruction continually. Meditate on it day and night so you will be sure to obey everything written in it. Only then will you prosper and succeed in all you do. 9 This is my command—be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”

Courage: what a powerful word. It brings so many impressions; respect, strength, assurance, endurance, and then…fear! At first glance it seems that a common woman such as I could never be considered courageous. Its requirements seem so steep—one who lives a fearless life and doesn’t doubt her decisions or motives. (Where’s the exit? I don’t belong here!)joshua 1_9

Let’s take a moment to peel back the layers of courage, break it down; look at its core. Perhaps we will find a secret there that the courageous people have discovered. Did they uncover the secret of courage over a period of time, or did it appear without preparation or process? Are some created with it in their DNA? Is courage a gift for only a few?

Our Lord tells us three times in Joshua 1:6-9 to be “strong and courageous”. In verse seven He restates it adding the word “very”. Did you notice what the Lord does between those three commands? He gives us the blueprint for courage! He teaches us how to achieve it.

God first tells us in this passage that anytime we are called by Him to a work it will require courage. We will become weary at times. It will require Him to accomplish the task. Therefore we must set our minds to the concept of following behind Him in His plan, instead of dragging Him along with our plan, and asking Him to agree with it.

In verse seven we find the blueprint. The Word of God holds all the principles, foundation, and tools of decision making. It gives perfect direction. When the waters get muddy, it is God’s Word that will clear them. The path becomes visible when placed within the parameters of God’s Word. He will never direct you to compromise your faith or your integrity in order to accomplish His will. Straying from His truth will blemish your integrity and God’s name, and will bring failure to your task. By staying committed to the Truth, “neither turning to the left or to the right,” we are assured success.

Following the blueprint for courage brings God’s promise of victory and success. The outcome of our efforts is already known. What a promise!

Pray: Heavenly Father, help me to discover how to apply your blueprint in your plans for me. I want to serve and please you, and I don’t want fear to keep me from accomplishing your task for me. Thank you for your promise of success when I follow you.

About the Writer:
Pam Brewer is the Director of Women’s Ministry at First Baptist Dallas. To learn more about Women’s Ministry click here.

Land of the Free

Freedom, democracy, justice, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness are the foundational building blocks from which our great nation was built. When I reflect on all these things, I can’t help but think how America and its foundational principles remind me of what God wants for His children: you and me.
God Bless America
The word freedom is synonymous with our Constitution’s “First Amendment.” It embodies so many great things: Freedoms of Religion, Speech, the Press, the Right to Assemble, and the Right to Petition our government.

The Bible tells us in Galatians 5:1 that “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free…” I love the verb tenses used here. “Is” means that, presently, we can experience freedom from sin and even death (John 11:25)! “Has set” means the cost for that freedom has been paid in full by Christ by His sacrifice on the cross (Galatians 2:20)!

Democracy was an ingenious thought of having “government by the people, for the people.”

When things go awry in our country, God has given us, the people – His people, the prospect of changing the outcome by humbling ourselves, praying, seeking His face, turning from our wicked ways with the promise that He would hear from heaven, forgive our sins and heal our land (2 Chronicles 7:14)!

How many times have we recited the Pledge of Allegiance, ending with the phrase “…and justice for all,” and felt our hearts leap within our chests?

God has also given us the assurance that if we follow justice and justice alone, that we would live and possess the land the Lord our God has given us (Deuteronomy 16:20).

As U.S. citizens, liberty gives us the right to choose. It’s a simple concept, but such a profound position of authority that gives each American the option to determine our future.

Daily, the Lord sets before us two choices: life or death (Deuteronomy 30:15). Please take the time to read Deuteronomy 30 in its fullness, and thank Him for the ability to choose…and, when you do, be sure to choose wisely! After all, He desires that we have life…and that, more abundantly (John 10:10)!

The pursuit of happiness can be a number of things, but for America, the Land of Opportunity, I would coin that phrase as prosperity. The hope of health and wealth – and the chance to pursue it is what makes our nation great!

Prosperity originated with God. It is God’s desire that His children “enjoy good health and prosper, even as our soul prospers” (3 John 1:2). And, please don’t think that it solely means “material possessions.” God is balanced, and He wants us to be also. Prosperity in God’s economy is more than a hefty bank account, a new house, a new car, or a closet full of name brand clothes. God wants us to be “rich” with the things that money can’t buy – like wisdom, peace, joy, love, and faith! And most importantly: SALVATION through Christ! He’s willing to give us all those things, freely (Romans 8:32)!

So, for those who say America wasn’t built on Christian principles, it seems they may need a new history lesson, huh?

I thank God for the good fortune of being born in the United States of America. I am a proud citizen, and I’m thankful for the freedoms that we enjoy in our nation.

I hope that you will take a moment to stop and pray for our nation, our leaders, and our fellow countrymen – remembering that wonderful patriotic song by Irving Berlin written so long ago, “As we raise our voices in a solemn prayer. God bless America – land that I love…”

About the Writer:
Nicole doesn’t consider herself an overly patriotic person. She realizes that as great as the United States is, this world is not her “home.” She looks forward to her home in heaven where the streets are made of gold and a mansion has her name written on it! She hopes to see you there!

Be of Good Courage

Got a little story for ya Ags. That, my friends, is how Aggies start their stories. If you are not an Aggie you can fill in the blank with sister, momma, friend, brother, Red Raider, or even Long Horn. If you are reading this today, then it’s a little story for you.

It was one of those days where your kids have dentist appointments in North Dallas. It’s raining and you’re swimming against the crowd on Central Expressway…sound familiar? By the time I pulled into the parking lot there were exactly 3 minutes to spare, it was still raining, AND there were no parking spaces. As I turned down an aisle, with a chorus of angels singing and a ray of light from heaven coming down, I spotted one lone parking spot. The Suburban in the parking space adjacent parked all cattywhompus. I remember muttering to myself quietly something to the effect of, “this person needs to learn how to park…grumble grumble.” I had to park, whether there was room or not. I drive a Tahoe so it was tight. Victoriously I parked all cock-eyed myself, but I was in and then came the hurrying and running with the kids so we wouldn’t be late(r). Cut to end of the scene: we had a lovely visit; we got what we came for and it was time to go.

We walked back to the car. The parking space next to me now had a new car parked in it nice and straight, and my Tahoe had a little note on the windshield wiper. My first thought was, “Oh great, someone hit me.” But as I opened the soggy note I read, “YOU NEED TO LEARN HOW TO PARK YOU %#@$ !!!”

Be of Good Courage

I might be laughing now, but that was not the case that afternoon. I went from sick, to mad, to just plain sad. The movie reel in my mind replayed the whole reason I had parked that way in the first place thinking to myself, “If only she had known the whole story.”

As I prayed about this blog post, “Be of good courage” was part of a verse that kept coming to mind. When looking those words up, I found that not only one verse, but many verses contain the same encouragement (Joshua 1:5-6 & 1 Chronicles 28:20).

In most of these examples, the circumstance surrounding the encouragement was strenuous, burdensome, grueling, inconvenient, and maybe even ill-timed. Those listening seriously needed to be reminded to be of good courage—not to be confused with courage in one’s own strength.

Note the definition for the word encouragement according to the Hebrew Greek Study Bible (1991):
– Chāzaq meaning; to be bound fast, be attached; to make firm, support; to preserve; be strong, be courageous, helpful; to conquer; to seize, hold fast, to gird; to encourage. It is a word frequently used to describe battle scenes, and is also used for construction (to build up).
– OR to harden; to be obdurate. Twelve times in the Book of Exodus chāzaq is used in describing the condition of Pharaoh’s heart. Pharaoh was obstinate and reacted negatively to God’s decree. Pharaoh had the choice of compliance with God’s will, but he refused.

Of these two types of courage, where do you find yourself? Like the note writer in my story, I too focused on what was seen, deliberately leaving out the Unseen. It happened to the Israelites (Numbers 13:1-14). It happens to us. I had not taken into account the whole story of that Suburban when I backed into the parking place that day. No, I didn’t write my grumblings out on a piece of paper for someone’s windshield. But as soon as I said to myself, “if only she had known the whole story” in response to the note I received, I was convicted of my own response to the Unseen. The truth is, we are almost never going to know the whole story. This life is hard, and at times it’s going to be bleak, back-breaking, interrupted, or even heartbreaking. Be of good courage my friend! There is peace when courage is bound fast to His promises and His character. Though your parking space drama may disappoint, He does not.

“Be of good courage, and He shall strengthen your heart, all you who hope in the LORD.” Psalm 31:24

About the Writer:
Mindy Truly is the wife to her patient and much better half – Jeff, and a reluctant (initially) homeschool mom to their 2 sons. She earned her BS in Environmental Design from Texas A&M 8 years prior to being called to leave her safe career to become a stay at home mom – something she had no experience in. For this and several other things the LORD has called her family to do, God has shown Himself faithful to provide for His call. She loves to encourage women with the gospel…the gift that keeps on giving (Colossians 2:6).

 

Courageous

Say the word “courageous” to any number of people and you’ll probably prompt thoughts of soldiers heading into battle, firefighters, or police – all of them putting their lives on the line daily to keep us out of harm’s way. Personally, I think of my two sons who served in the Navy. I close my eyes and envision a parade, bands playing, and flags waving. Then, in solitude, I think of others I consider courageous:

  • The teen who says “no” to the ways of the world and practices abstinence
  • The young woman who chooses life
  • The mother whose husband walks out on her and the children, leaving her with no income and mountains of responsibilities
  • The widow who struggles to get on with her life when her husband, her best friend, is gone
  • The woman who learns she has cancer
  • The woman who cares for a family member with a debilitating illness
  • The woman who is “sandwiched” between taking care of her family and her parents
  • The woman who willingly shares her testimony of what Jesus Christ has done in her life, unafraid of what others may say or think
  • The woman of any age who realizes she needs help and is unafraid to ask for it

Do these women think they are courageous? Probably not. But every day they put one foot in front of the other and overcome unspeakable sorrow. Becoming courageous takes practice. Practice recalling past experiences where God’s faithfulness carried you through, and practice observing the courage of others who share their testimonies of how God has worked in their lives. It takes practice to rely on God’s promises and not your feelings.

climb

People everywhere believe themselves to be adequate to solve their own problems, refusing to admit that they need any help. It takes courage to be transparent about the needs in your life. But the courage we exhibit gives hope to others to “keep on keeping on.”  2 Corinthians 1:6 says, “Even when we are weighed down with troubles, it is for your comfort and salvation! For when we ourselves are comforted, we will certainly comfort you. Then you can patiently endure the same things we suffer” (NLT).

Are you courageous enough to let others see and hear the hope you have in Christ?

About the Writer:
Debby Efurd has facilitated post-abortion recovery groups in the North Texas area for the past three years and is a certified trainer with Life Impact Network. She is co-founder of Initiative 180 and Peace After the Storm. As a speaker and author, Debby shares her story to women of all ages with compassion, humor, wisdom, and courage. Her life journey is one of victory in Christ and amazing recovery from a past abortion. On Debby’s blog, “The Second Mile,” she shares her perspectives on what really matters in life—a relationship with Jesus Christ. Wife, mother, and grandmother, she is a life advocate, active member of First Baptist Dallas, and involved participant of her community.

In God We Trust

In God We TrustI never considered myself much of a patriot growing up. I moved to Russia when I was 16 and spent a good deal of my life there or exploring other countries in the years to follow. In my youthful zest for new experiences, I enjoyed diving headfirst into different cultures and often found America, with all its abundance, to be boring, frivolous, and lacking relational depth. Hamburger or fire-roasted bugs—I will probably always opt for the latter. However, as I gained greater perspective, I understood that America stands for something much more deserving than just sports, food, big houses, self-help books, and the very pronounced “I can take on the whole world” attitude that preceeds our national reputation.

America is a place where God is still seen as the good guy. He is still our hero—the one we call on when tragedy strikes. We talk about the love of God more than any other people group I’ve encountered. America honors love, justice, courage, faith, freedom, and virtuous causes. Such is not the case everywhere.

As an individual, I take pride in my American heritage now. I’ve finally come to the place where hearing the American anthem in a foreign country fills my eyes with tears of gratitude. These feelings do not come from a misplaced sense of superiority from a particular country, heritage, or government—for no worldly government is without its faults. This gratefulness comes in response to all the many kindnesses that God has shown our country. The many godly families, God-fearing believers, and biblical principles that still infuse our society and bring the light Jesus spoke about to our country. This light shines out like a city on a hill, and many in darkness are drawn to it (Matthew 5:14-16).

When I consider how I almost gave up my US citizenship at one point in my life (and even submitted all the documentation for this), I am very thankful to God. My heart is thankful that God saw fit to thwart my personal efforts and bring me to a place of greater trust, refuge, and healing. Although I know this security is a result of God’s presence and His merciful kindness—not America, I am still grateful that my birthright is to a country that acknowledges trusting God as more stable than the monetary value of coins. I pray the words “In God We Trust” will continue to lead us as a country and me as a follower of Christ. I pray that we as a people would understand that God IS loving and His ways CAN be trusted.

“It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in humans. It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in princes.” Psalm 118-8-9 (NASB)

About the Writer:
Lyndsay has been many things in her past, but no career, experience, or calling define her more than the desire to follow Christ. At present, she teaches movement classes and works as a wellness consultant in addition to raising her daughter to know and love the Lord. 

Lyndsay has a blog dedicated to sharing and celebrating the work of Christ through her experiences as a missionary, world traveler, knowledge seeker, and recipient of God’s lavish grace.