I am very excited to share you about an event that will be taking place this Wednesday, April 10th at 7 p.m. at Christian Life Center. "With a message of hope and inspiration, experience the Watoto Children's Choir. Ambassadors of the millions of orphan and vulnerable children in Africa. Make plans to attend - and be sure to tell your friends!"Where: Christian Life Center 1901 North Park AvenueHerrin, IL 62948When:Wednesday, April 10, 2013 at 7:00 p.m.For more information visit:http://www.clcherrin.com/https://www.facebook.com/clcherrin
or call (618) 942-7369I hope to see you there! -Tim
There are multiple ways to network in Christian settings. Though this is definitely not a list of every way to network in Christian environments, these points will give you the quickest and most common routes to create a network of like-minded believers.
Get Involved in Person
1. Join a community - The most basic way is to join a Christian church or school. This will give you a base group of people that you will see on a very regular basis. While not the most intimate of groups, this will give you a springboard from which you can make closer connections.
2. Participate in your community - Oftentimes, churches and schools will hold social events, such as Lenten activities, after-service coffee, or a weekly series on a topic pertaining to religion. By going to these events, you can make yourself known as an active, enthusiastic participant in your community. In addition, they allow you the time to relax and be together with members of your Christian network in an acceptable social context. Church and classes are great, but they are not the proper places to talk with others about current events or your ideas for the community you belong to.
3. Join an activity - If you are already an active participant in your church or school, you could join an organization or committee. Most churches and schools have extracurricular groups and activities for the members of their organization. This is important because while the greater organization gives you a sense of community, these smaller groups will get you in more consistent contact with the people who share your passions.
If your calling is to do service, there are service organizations you can join. You could become part of a women's spirituality group or a biblical book club.
4. Create an activity - If there is not a niche group that suits your needs or interests, you can start one up. Filling a gap in your community's services is the work of the Lord, and there are probably many people out there with the same needs as yours. Do not be nervous about creating and leading a group even if you have not done so before. Throughout history, the Lord's chosen people have stepped up to fill roles that they haven't been qualified for. Like Moses, you too have the Lord on your side.
5. Reach out to other similar communities - If you have friends or family that belong to a different church than you do, you could go along to their service every once and awhile to broaden the connections you have. Their church probably also has multiple events and groups, and many churches are open to others joining in on their clubs and social hours.
Get Involved Online
6. Join a group - Another way to network in the Christian community is to start or follow Christian blogs on the internet. Several prominent blogs about Christian faith, life, and community exist on the World Wide Web. While these may not give you a face-to-face, human interaction with others sharing your beliefs, they may alert you to resources and events in your area that you would be otherwise unaware of.
There are also many Christian social networking websites that may be of use. In addition, you may find Christian Facebook groups to participate in.
7. Create an online following - You could start a Christian blog, Facebook group, or Twitter account to get out the Word of the Lord. Having an online following can help you to expand your in-person network. While it may take time to amass followers, if you've already followed steps 1-6 on this list, you will have a network of people who will follow your postings. This group of followers will share with their friends, families, and networks, which will widen your network.
Mary Raishe is a freelance writer and a contributor on the Yahoo! Contributor Network
and at political-heat.blogspot.com
. She is a senior at the University of Wisconsin-Madison pursuing a BA in Linguistics. In addition to contributing to student resource sites like Degree Jungle.com
, she is a mother of one and a frequent traveler.
Do we really care about other people? It seems I get inundated with requests to donate money to help out people in need each year around this time. My wife and I decided a few years back that we would teach our kids about giving each Christmas and pick a charity to support. This year we each made shoebox gifts for children in need who live in the Appalachian Mountains. It has been a very rewarding experience and we are thrilled to have this opportunity, but I am sitting here and wondering if I really care.
Did you notice that I earlier used the word ‘inundated?’ I know that carries a negative connotation and I used it deliberately. I used it because it is a proper description of how I often feel. I know that I cannot financially help every charity. That isn’t what bothers me though. What really troubles me is how stagnant my reaction is to the suffering of others. It seems that with each image I see or paragraph I read I become more desensitized. I know that children are dying and understand that buying a goat and chickens can help feed a village in a third world country. I am very aware that the large cause of death in the world is lack of access to clean drinking water, but I seem to not feel it anymore. Those images and words that once tugged at my heartstrings seem to do very little these days.
I’m just being honest here, but I seem more concerned with how uncomfortable I feel in cold weather – even with my warm clothes and dry, heated buildings – than I am with the real suffering of others. I easily become obsessed with my distaste for winter and desire for the warmth of summer while there are people dying due to their exposure to the elements. I am no longer ‘distracted’ by people who beg for food because I have become very accustomed to ignoring them. I wonder if I would even send shoebox gifts to financially disadvantaged children if it didn’t make me feel good or serve as a ‘teachable moment’ to my children.
I am an average American. The citizens of this great country provide much to those in need but I wonder if we really care. Are we working in a soup kitchen because we care or because we feel it’s an obligation? Do we give to the Salvation Army because we understand the plight of those they serve or do we just feel guilty when we don’t? If those children we send shoe boxes to were our own, would it make a difference? I think we often have done the right thing but quite possibly not for the right reason. How often have you donated something knowing you could count it as a deduction on your taxes? How often have you gone Christmas shopping and were more concerned about what you were going to buy for yourself or your family than what you were going to provide to someone in need?
I think most Americans are guilty of this but we shouldn’t be. Just because the majority of people are desensitized does not make it a societal mandate. Let’s make a goal together this year. I propose we decide to search our hearts and rekindle the emotions inside our beings. Don’t be afraid to look at the images of the starving children, it’s okay to cry when you realize how desperately they need your help. It’s alright to have compassion; in fact I think it’s necessary. Don’t let this Christmas pass by without taking some time to find love in your heart. When you start to complain about how cold you feel in your winter coat or sitting in your heated leather seat, instead take some time to think about the homeless man or woman who lives in the cold and doesn’t even own a decent pair of shoes. Maybe she wouldn’t be complaining if she were sitting in your place.
Our church, Christian Life Center, has recently started an initiative that I believe will revolutionize the way it operates. We instituted something called Community Life Groups. As a simple explanation, this is our way of getting back to the Acts version of the church. Meeting together in homes and sharing in food, fellowship, worship, prayer and accountability. Our group had our first meeting last night and it was great! Some members were close friends while others were acquaintances. We hosted the meeting and had everyone come to our home. We and others provided some snack foods and began the night eating and chatting. We learned that others in our group are on a similar diet and appreciated our alternative ‘snack’ options. As simple as it sounds, that one similarity created a bond. After snacking we moved outside and sat around a campfire I had prepared. We reviewed the lesson taught at church that morning and conversed about how our lives lined up with the message. We discussed areas we felt we were strong in as well as those that need work. The entire experience helped us to bond. After a mere 1.5 hours I felt very close to a new group of people. This is what church should be like. After everyone left, Julie and I were equally amazed by what seemed like a miracle. We had just hosted an event for 9 adults (including ourselves) and 10 children that included food and the entire house remained almost as clean as it was when we started. Both of the children’s rooms were clean and straightened despite the fact that several children had just finished playing in them. We were able to host a get together, grow closer to some friends and make new ones, grow closer to God and keep a clean house! It was an amazing experience and I can’t wait for our next Community Life Group meeting! -Tim
I have spent most of my life worrying about my image. I would often bend over backwards to try to talk or act in a way that would appeal to whomever I was with at the moment. I purposely looked for ways to address them so as not to be offensive. Taking a stand on anything has proven difficult due to this attitude. By straining to maintain an image of someone who is tolerant, I have removed my own identity. I think most of this has developed from being raised in a culture that grossly promotes political correctness. As of late I have realized that this can be a very destructive force to a society and I will spend today explaining why.
Political Correctness vs. Respect
I will begin by defining the terms:
Also, PC or p.c. Showing an effort to make broad social and political changes to redress injustices caused by prejudice. It often involves changing or avoiding language that might offend anyone, especially with respect to gender, race, or ethnic background. For example, Editors of major papers have sent out numerous directives concerning politically correct language. This expression was born in the late 1900s, and excesses in trying to conform to its philosophy gave rise to humorous parodies.1 Respect:
Respect is doing your best to honor a person while political correctness is attempting to be like that person. You can have respect for another person and be honest about your views on a subject in which you differ but you can quickly become politically incorrect by stating those views. Let me give a clear example of what I mean. I personally believe in what has been defined as the traditional view of marriage, i.e. one man marrying one woman. I can state that viewpoint and still respect those with opposing views. I cannot, however, state that point and be what is currently defined as politically correct. In today’s American society, to remain politically correct I either need to say that I agree that all people have the right to marry, no matter the gender/number or just remain silent if I oppose that viewpoint. I am considered a disrespectful bigot if I exert my opinion. Therefore, society pressures me to either remain silent or change my views when they oppose the current popular social norm. Respect, on the other hand, allows me to openly state how I feel. I may generate opposition from those who are equally passionate for the opposing view, but if we respect each other we can openly debate without demeaning one another. In my opinion, political correctness breeds dishonesty. It stifles anyone who agrees with what has recently been defined as the popular stance of modern society. It requires one to change his/her beliefs in order to fit in or be liked by others. It is a type of speech control with the goal of suppressing those in opposition of current trends. Being a device used by socialist governments to control the population, political correctness actually annihilates the freedom of speech. Summary I began by explaining how I have spent most of my life trying to get others to like me. I have often shied away from debates because I did not want to offend someone. I have recently come to realize that I have been suppressing who I am and diluting the God I serve simply to save face. Whose face am I saving if I cannot be honest about how I feel? Am I truly benefiting anyone by not openly sharing what is taking place in my mind? I have come to the decision that I cannot let others control my life. I need to be Tim McSwain, not someone else. I will continue to respect the right that we all have to believe what we want but I will no longer be ashamed of my core beliefs or of the name of Jesus Christ. Some people may choose to no longer be my friend because I make them feel uncomfortable, but I guess that will show me who my true friends really are. I also want others to feel that they can be honest with me. Chances are we will disagree about something, but if we respect one another we can grow closer despite our differences. My advice: Learn the value of respect and quit being so stinking politically correct. -Tim Bible Postscript Ephesians: 4:11-16 ESV “And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, theshepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. Rather,speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who isthe head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.” 1. politically correct. Dictionary.com. The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer. Houghton Mifflin Company.http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/politically correct (accessed: August 01, 2012). 2. respect. Dictionary.com, LLC. Copyright © 2012. All rights reserved. http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/respect?s=t
- Esteem for or a sense of the worth or excellence of a person, a personal quality or ability, or something considered as a manifestation of a personal quality or ability: I have great respect for her judgment.
- Deference to a right, privilege, privileged position, or someone or something considered to have certain rights or privileges; proper acceptance or courtesy; acknowledgment: respect for a suspect's right to counsel; to show respect for the flag; respect for the elderly.2
Something at my very core is changing. The old way must go. I’m at a loss of words when it comes to explaining what is taking place, but I have found a great passage of scripture that does the explaining for me. Take some time today to read God’s words instead of mine. Let Him speak to you. The following passage of scripture is taken from a Biblical paraphrase known as The Message. Please feel free to look up these same verses in which ever version of the Bible you read.
Ephesians 4:17 – 5:10
“And so I insist—and God backs me up on this—that there be no going along with the crowd, the empty-headed, mindless crowd. They've refused for so long to deal with God that they've lost touch not only with God but with reality itself. They can't think straight anymore. Feeling no pain, they let themselves go in sexual obsession, addicted to every sort of perversion.
But that's no life for you. You learned Christ! My assumption is that you have paid careful attention to him, been well instructed in the truth precisely as we have it in Jesus. Since, then, we do not have the excuse of ignorance, everything—and I do mean everything—connected with that old way of life has to go. It's rotten through and through. Get rid of it! And then take on an entirely new way of life—a God-fashioned life, a life renewed from the inside and working itself into your conduct as God accurately reproduces his character in you.
What this adds up to, then, is this: no more lies, no more pretense. Tell your neighbor the truth. In Christ's body we're all connected to each other, after all. When you lie to others, you end up lying to yourself.
Go ahead and be angry. You do well to be angry—but don't use your anger as fuel for revenge. And don't stay angry. Don't go to bed angry. Don't give the Devil that kind of foothold in your life.
Did you use to make ends meet by stealing? Well, no more! Get an honest job so that you can help others who can't work.
Watch the way you talk. Let nothing foul or dirty come out of your mouth. Say only what helps, each word a gift.
Don't grieve God. Don't break his heart. His Holy Spirit, moving and breathing in you, is the most intimate part of your life, making you fit for himself. Don't take such a gift for granted.
Make a clean break with all cutting, backbiting, profane talk. Be gentle with one another, sensitive. Forgive one another as quickly and thoroughly as God in Christ forgave you.
Watch what God does, and then you do it, like children who learn proper behavior from their parents. Mostly what God does is love you. Keep company with him and learn a life of love. Observe how Christ loved us. His love was not cautious but extravagant. He didn't love in order to get something from us but to give everything of himself to us. Love like that.
Don't allow love to turn into lust, setting off a downhill slide into sexual promiscuity, filthy practices, or bullying greed. Though some tongues just love the taste of gossip, those who follow Jesus have better uses for language than that. Don't talk dirty or silly. That kind of talk doesn't fit our style. Thanksgiving is our dialect.
You can be sure that using people or religion or things just for what you can get out of them—the usual variations on idolatry—will get you nowhere, and certainly nowhere near the kingdom of Christ, the kingdom of God.
Don't let yourselves get taken in by religious smooth talk. God gets furious with people who are full of religious sales talk but want nothing to do with him. Don't even hang around people like that.
You groped your way through that murk once, but no longer. You're out in the open now. The bright light of Christ makes your way plain. So no more stumbling around. Get on with it! The good, the right, the true—these are the actions appropriate for daylight hours. Figure out what will please Christ, and then do it.”
- It’s time for change to take place - Tim
Have you ever wondered if God chooses to be silent? Are there times when you simply cannot hear Him speaking to you? I am at a place in my life where I am straining, pleading, needing to hear God speak to me. My family recently moved to a new town about two months ago, I confess it feels like an eternity. It’s been a slow summer, a spiritually dry summer. We’ve had a difficult time finding a new church, I haven’t made any close friends and I am terribly homesick. I’ve been isolated in a small town and the local Kwik Shop is about my only option for a fun night out.
Now, if you are an introverted, laid back personality this may sound like bliss, isolated at home, not a lot of people to hang out with, and not a lot to do. For an extroverted, Type A personality, it’s like sitting in the dentist chair getting a root canal that takes hours to finish. I confess that my personality needs a lot going on, projects to manage, people to interact with, places to go, and something to do other than laundry, (my boon companion). It’s difficult for me to be still. Now let me say that again like a 5 year old asked to sit quietly, IT’S DIFFICULT FOR ME TO BE STILL! I haven’t been able to find a job, I have no friends, and if I have to clean another toilet I may lose my mind.
In my lonely state of self-absorption, I am reminded of the Israelites. If they weren’t on the mountain top, they were in the valley complaining. If God wasn’t speaking to them directly or doing awesome miracles, they worshipped another. If Moses wasn’t telling them what they wanted to hear, they threatened to leave. The Israelites were fickle, wondering, emotion driven people who let their circumstances determine their value. It wasn’t enough to be a child of God, they needed to be a child of God with lots of stuff. It’s great to be a child of God when things are going well, with a place to live, food to eat, and prosperity in your future. It’s difficult to just be a child of God and not know where you will rest your head, how you will put food on the table, and have no employment prospects. We might not be that destitute as my husband has a good job. But the move has been difficult, in fact, the last few months have been down right trying.
Simply put, I get the Israelites. I love being on the mountain top, like attending a great worship service where the worship is palpable, the message is inspiring, and lives are changed. I love being around people who are friendly, kind, and interested in my life. I love having a job that makes me feel like I’m valuable and where I get all kinds of accolades. I love having lots of friends and lots of activity in my life.
My American driven ego and life style isn’t used to not having these emotionally driven activities. Therein lies the problem, I’m not used to being still and I’m not good at trusting God in the valley.
I believe the Word of God is true and I believe God fulfills His promises. Yet my heart is aching and my emotions are on a roller coaster. So what’s a girl to do? Run and worship another idol like the Israelites because my emotions are not falling in line with what I believe to be true? Or do I claim the Word of God and keep my emotions from influencing what I believe and how I behave?
I’ve let my emotions deter my course of action before, swerving from the truth just a little bit so as to appease my aching heart. It ended badly for me and has had a profound impact on my life. I will write about that in future blogs. So today, June 27th, I chose what I know to be true regardless of emotion.
God will not forsaken or abandon me.
God has a future and a hope for me.
God is still the same no matter what my circumstances.
God is doing something new in my life.
If you are in a difficult place where trusting Him doesn’t “feel” like the right thing to do and you want to run in the opposite direction from Him rather than to Him, then let’s claim this promise together.
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight.” Proverbs 3:5-6
To be continued……..
This has been one of those difficult days to stomach. On my way to work this morning I heard the news of the shooting at a theater in Aurora, CO. If you have not heard the news, a gunman apparently burst through an exit door during the midnight premiere of The Dark Knight Rises and fired shots into the startled crowd. At this point there have been 14 people killed and 50 injured.
This is a very tragic day and these types of events sadden my heart. Every time something of this nature happens it brings back the memory I have of preparing to return to the U.S. in 1999. Julie and I had just completed a three month mission trip in the country of Honduras. Just a couple days before returning we learned of the Columbine shooting. We were heartbroken to think that such an event would take place on American soil. I remember thinking about how many of my family and friends told me that they had worried about us spending so much time in what they viewed as a dangerous third world country, and I remember thinking, ‘wow, I’ve been fine in Honduras but I’m not sure I want to return to the U.S.’ The main reason was because there was an expectation to watch my back in Honduras. As long as I stayed completely aware of my surroundings I was able to stay relatively safe. In the U.S. we often have a false sense of security. We believe that we are safe when we go shopping, eat out, attend school or church, and when we go work or the movies. All of these places, however, have been locations for shootings. It is depressing, but our sense of security in the U.S. is false. It saddens me to think that crazed lunatics can plan and implement such devious actions, but they do.
I almost always ask a question when this type of tragedy strikes. I ask, ‘God, where were you?’ As a believer in Christ, I know God as a loving Father. I often have difficulty understanding why God allows these tragedies to take place. I’ve seen miracles and just have trouble understanding why an angel did not appear and stop the attacker or why the gun didn’t jam or at least some type of intervention did not happen to keep this tragedy from taking place. I can say this; God did not cause this tragedy to happen. We live in a flawed world with evil people who act upon their intentions. The shooter is responsible for the events that took place. I am not sure why God did not intervene, but that does not lessen my faith in Him. I do know this, God does provide comfort in the midst of tragedy and I pray that he comforts the families of the victims and that he heals those who are wounded.
Please take a moment today to pray for those affected by this event. Remember the families who have lost children, fathers and mothers and remember those who survive with physical and mental scars.
God, I pray for those parents who have lost their children to this unspeakable tragedy. I cannot even imagine the sense of loss and pain they are suffering. I know that nothing can replace the children they have lost but I ask you to provide them with comfort during this tragedy. Surround them with loving family who can hold them as they sob. I pray for those who have lost parents. To be young and to lose a parent must be one of the most difficult experiences in life. This senseless act has hurt many innocent young lives. I ask you to surround those children with family who can provide them with the security they so greatly need. I pray for all of those who have suffered loss and ask you to supernaturally endow them with strength as their bodies reel under the stress of this tragedy. Please provide healing to those who are wounded and I ask that you will wrap all of those affected with your love. In Jesus name, Amen.
I wrote today’s blog entry yesterday and planned to not pen anything new today. I feel, however, as though I NEED to write today. This isn’t going to be my normal cleaned up and well written blog. It’s going to be rough around the edges and raw.
I have been going through a roller coaster of emotional ups and downs lately. As many people know I published my first book and that has brought much excitement to our family. We also recently took our first family trip to Disney World and created wonderful memories. I’ve had so many emotional highs lately that I forgot what it feels like to be down.
Welcome to planet earth. Just like the roller coasters as Disney, life has highs and lows.
When we returned from Disney we focused our attention on our daughter, Rachel. Rachel is a five-year-old who is full of life and always overflowing with energy. We have two children, Caleb – age eight – and Rachel. Caleb is the oldest and often reminds Rachel of that fact. She has always been unwilling to accept that she is younger and it’s almost as though her determination to be like her older brother has propelled her to grow at a fast rate. Our children are three years apart, however, when we run into parents of twins, they almost always ask if our children are twins. Rachel is almost the same height as her older brother and they have the same blonde hair. We always chuckle a little and then explain that they are three years apart but Rachel is tall for her age.
Prior to our Disney vacation, Rachel complained about her heart racing. We took it very seriously because she had not been playing when it happened. She stayed a week with my parents – my mother is a nurse – and it happened again. We made plans to call our pediatrician after returning from vacation. Rachel never complained about her heart while at Disney so I am not sure if it didn’t race while on the trip or if she was just having too much fun to notice. After we returned, it happened again. My wife, Julie, promptly called the pediatrician and they had her bring Rachel in that day. The doctor listened to Rachel’s heart beat and informed Julie that it was irregular even at a resting beat. He said it was no reason to be alarmed but we needed to have her wear a heart monitor to get a better diagnosis. She wore the monitor, the results were sent to Cardinal Glennon in St. Louis. Yesterday our pediatrician informed us that there are irregularities in Rachel’s heartbeat and that we need to take her to Cardinal Glennon to see a pediatric cardiologist.
This has been a stressful process to say the least. I sheltered you from all the details that added to the drama, but please know that it has not been an easy process. We are currently at a place where we wrestle with the obscurity of what we really know. This may be a small complication and may even disappear. Not knowing what we are up against is frustrating to say the least. In the midst of all our struggles, there has been comfort. God has given us strength and comfort and he has also put others in our lives to help us through this situation. We are discovering a bounty of friends, family and even strangers who have faced similar trials. We had a god-daughter who has been on a heart monitor in the past and she is now a teenager who lives an active, fulfilling life. We have friends who either personally have experienced issues with their hearts or who have close family that has been through a similar situation. We have been told about heart murmurs, holes in hearts, and supraventricular tachycardia. We have also talked with other friends who have children that have faced other medical difficulties. Many people have indicated that they are praying for us. It has been a crazy experience.
I do have faith in God and I believe that He is a healer and will work this situation out for the best. I already see the good in the fact that we are meeting a community of others who know what we are going through. I totally believe in having compassion but am becoming more aware of the fact that you can’t really understand something until you experience it firsthand. We have watched friends face trials with their children and we were concerned, but I now know that we did not comprehend what they were going through as parents.
Julie and I hope to soon know why Rachel is experiencing heart arrhythmias and then we can better understand what we are up against. Until then, we are just wrestling with the uncertainty of what comes next. Please keep our family in your prayers and feel free to leave prayer requests of your own in the comments section. - Tim
I do have an announcement about the remainder of the week. I will be celebrating the 4th of July with family and friends tomorrow and will not be posting a blog. For those of you in the USA – enjoy your independence.
I am also excited to announce that my friend Courtney Hill will be taking over Thursdays as a regular guest blogger. Read the blog on Thursday and see what he has to say. Until next time, have a great day! - Tim
I am a guest blogger for Tim these next few days. Hopefully, I will be posting interesting and stimulating entries. Allow me to introduce myself--I am Todd Williams. I have known Tim for about a decade now. We have a common church family in Christian Life Center. This first entry will be a bit brief, and that is largely due to June 1st creeping up on me faster than I expected. So sit back and enjoy a brief read about two of our brethren in the Lord, from ages past.
Several Wednesdays ago, I shared some of the history of the Christian Saints as a reminder of our Christian Heritage. We are connected by great men and women of the Faith upon whose shoulders we now stand. So below is a few bios of our fore-siblings.
1. Valentine: Traces back to the end of the Golden Age of the Roman Empire. Emperor Claudius (II) was wanting to gain military fame and victory for himself and wanted a large army to do it. One of the issues was that young men who were getting married were distracted from the war. So he issued an edict banning all marriages for young soldiers.
Valentine was a Christian priest in Rome. Hailing the union of man and woman as higher than the Emperor's edict, he secretly wed young couples. When the Emperor found out, he had Valentine arrested and brought to trial. Claudius offered Valentine a chance to save his own life if he would recant his Christian Faith and confess the Roman Pantheon. Valentine refused and was executed in Feb. 14, AD 270.
Lawrence of Rome: Around the third century of Christianity, there were about seven Deacons serving in the Church in Rome. Lawrence was one of those Deacons. He was in charge of the treasury of the Church. The Roman governor found out that he was the keeper of the goods and had him arrested. The governor demanded he hand over the treasure. Lawrence told him it would take three days to gather everything. During those three days, he diligently dispersed all the church's wealth to the poor and sick (generally all the outcasts of society). On the third day, Lawrence was called back in and ordered to present the wealth of the church. He called in all the poor, sick, and unwanted and explained that these were the true treasures of the church and that Rome's wealth was nothing in comparison.
Infuriated, the governor ordered Lawrence to be executed by being roasted on a gridiron. To attest to the boldness of Lawrence, while he was being roasted on one side for a while, he turned to his executioners and told them, "This side is finished, you might want to turn me over."
These are just a few of thousands of examples of the bravery and courage our brothers and sisters held in the face of opposition by the World. Many people would cringe at such stories, but in many churches around the world, they give encouragement and life. So take some time this weekend and reflect on the cost of discipleship to Jesus. Where do you and I stand? Does our "theology" account for real historical examples as such? Is our devotion to Christ more than Sunday morning culture and positive, feel good sermons? Does the message of Jesus Christ permeate us in all areas?
May the Peace of Christ be with you.