“He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world” (1 John 4:4).
Lauren Daigle is one of the most famous musicians in America. Two of her songs have won Grammys; the multiplatinum artist was one of the headlining performers at this year’s Gospel Music Association Dove Awards.
Reflecting on the challenges Christians face in the music industry, she often reflects on Matthew 5:10, “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake.” She told Christian Post that when she was in high school, she prayed that God would give her a “backbone” to stand up for those who were being bullied. As a result, she testified, “If you ask God for that courage, he will give it to you. He will give you boldness; he will give you courage.”
She encouraged young Christians to ask for courage as well: “Just know you’re not the only one doing it. It will feel like, in the moment, that you’re the only one making a stand. But you’re not the only one making a stand. There are others around you. And we’ve got your back.”
High school stages “drag ball” for homecoming
Lauren Daigle is right: it can feel lonely to stand for biblical morality in our radically secular culture.
My wife and I returned recently from a trip to Vermont, where we found beautiful nature and many gracious people. But we were surprised by the irreligious nature of the culture. For example, I went into seven bookstores during our trip; not one had a Bible for sale.
It is therefore unsurprising that a Vermont high school would stage a “drag ball” for its homecoming halftime show. About thirty students and faculty members dressed as drag queens and kings walked onto the stage and the crowd started to chant, “Drag Ball!” They paraded and danced to show support for LGBTQ persons and lip-synced to the song “Rainbow Reign.”
In other news, the US State Department has issued its first gender-neutral passport. The Wall Street Journal reports that fashion designers are striving to “upgrade gender-neutral clothing.” There will be more to come as polygamy continues to advance, LGBTQ activism focuses on children’s toys and programming, calls to legalize prostitution escalate, and “zoophilia” (sexual relationships between people and animals) gains acceptance.
The late Paul Powell noticed this statement on a bumper sticker: “With God, all things are possible. Without God, all things are permissible.”
“The mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire”
In such days, Lauren Daigle’s observation is truly relevant: “You’re not the only one making a stand.” The Bible is filled with stories of otherwise unknown people whose courageous faith changed the world.
The Book of Acts offers some examples. God sent a disciple named Ananias to minister to Paul after his Damascus Road encounter with Jesus (Acts 9:10–19). Everyone knows of Paul, though few remember Ananias. But without the latter, I wonder if we would know of the former.
Then, when Paul’s enemies in Damascus sought to kill him, “his disciples took him by night and let him down through an opening in the wall, lowering him in a basket” (v. 25). We have these unnamed disciples to thank for the rest of Paul’s ministry, from his missionary journeys to letters that comprise one-third of the New Testament’s twenty-seven books.
Still later, Barnabas championed Paul before skeptical Christians in Jerusalem (v. 27) and partnered with him in his first two missionary journeys. An unnamed “tribune of the cohort” saved Paul from being executed by a mob in Jerusalem (Acts 21:31–22:29). Paul’s unnamed nephew prevented a plot to kill the apostle (Acts 23:16–22). A Roman centurion named Julius kept sailors from killing Paul after their shipwreck at Malta (Acts 27:43).
One of my favorite biblical stories tells of a Syrian army that surrounded the prophet Elisha and his servant (2 Kings 6:15). The servant was terrified, but Elisha reassured him: “Those who are with us are more than those who are with them” (v. 16). He then asked God to open the young man’s eyes, and “he saw, and behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha” (v. 17).
Angels are with you right now (cf. Hebrews 1:14). The God you cannot see can see you (Genesis 16:13). Jesus’ best friend assures us: “He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world” (1 John 4:4).
Prisoners serving other prisoners
Let’s consider some examples of God’s people doing things today you may not know they are doing.
- Believers across America are ministering to Afghan refugees whose experiences with the Taliban are turning them from Islam and opening their hearts to the gospel.
- Christians imprisoned for their faith around the world are sharing Christ with their fellow prisoners, leading many to Jesus.
- As America’s prisons face mounting problems and employee shortages, Christians are volunteering to serve and educate prisoners in twenty-nine states and over fifty maximum-security prisons nationwide. Scholars describe their efforts as “the most innovative, holistic, and effective programs available in correctional facilities today.”
- Many persecuted Christians in the Middle East are choosing to forgive their enemies, seek reconciliation, and refuse to retaliate.
In Acts 4, the persecuted early Christians prayed that God would “grant to your servants to continue to speak your word with all boldness” (v. 29). With this result: “When they had prayed, the place in which they were gathered together was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and continued to speak the word of God with boldness” (v. 31, my emphasis).
If we will ask God for the courage to stand for biblical truth and serve with biblical compassion, he will answer our prayer. Then, whether the world knows our name or not, God will use us for his eternal purposes.
Jane Marczewski on “a story worth writing”
Jane Marczewski, the singer who made headlines when she competed on America’s Got Talent but had to withdraw to continue her battle with terminal cancer, is back in the news. In a recent Instagram post, she wrote:
“A journalism professor in a long gray sweater taught me the difference between a story worth writing and a public relations stunt. A real story has meaning even if no one ever hears it; a PR stunt matters only if people are watching.
“And that became a new item on the list of promises to myself: That I would never let my life become a public relations stunt. My life would have meaning, even if no one ever knew it. I wanted to write a story I was proud of, even if nobody read it.”
If we will pray for the courage to share God’s story through ours, he will answer us. And when he does, because his word never fails (Isaiah 55:10–11), our world can never be the same.
Why do you need the courage of Christ today?