If I didn’t say anything else I believe you would have something to consider and wonder if the “loves” in your life could count on you in a time of crisis.
It’s something the old timers would call “lip service”, or giving your “word” and then never thinking of it again.
Today I attended a memorial service to remember and to honor the martyrs who chose death over giving up their belief in Jesus and accepting the Muslim’s Mohammad. This was the One Hundred year anniversary of the start of the genocide that lasted into 1923. I didn’t do a head count but as I stood on the marble steps in the Georgia State Capital I did take a look around and felt embarrassed for the saints looking over the portals of heaven at the little ceremony and noticing how few of their progeny had taken the time to show up in their honor.
I have a rich heritage on both sides of my DNA, I have been talking about my dad’s Armenian ancestry this week but with the birthday of my maternal grandfather coming up on April 29th I feel I should mention some of the things he suffered for his faith.
This man, Earl Pearly Paulk, Sr. was short in stature but had the will and spirit of a giant. When he was little more than a toddler plowing in the cotton fields of South Georgia, he made up his mind to make a difference in his world and wanted to start by making sure that any child of his would have the opportunity to have all of the education that his or her heart desired. He was a man who had to quit his own education when he was in the second grade in order to help work on the family farm, but ended his life with an honorary Doctorate Degree from Bob Jones University where he sat on the board of directors.
In his early ministry he brought the good news of the Holy Spirit to anyone that would listen as he preached in any pulpit that would have him and when he didn’t have a church would build a brush arbor to preach in. There were people who were not thrilled with his message and at different times tarred all the seats in his little brush arbor, stopped his car out on a sandy country lane and held him and his little family at gun point and threat of death if he continued to preach this “heresy”. Another time, while he was preaching, a gang of dissenters took his car and put it in the river. They sent a messenger to the church to tell him where his car was and then stood back and laughed as he went to the bank of the river and saw it, wheels in the air, in the water.
God blessed his efforts and he became a great leader in an organization called the Church of God. He pastored the largest church in the organization at that time, the Tremont Avenue Church, was state overseer of several states and was second in command of the organization twice.
His lack of education did not stop this man because God gave him the gift of remembering all the scripture that his wife dutifully read to him as they traveled. His testimony was that when he would start to preach the scripture would “loom up in front of his eyes”; all those in his time knew him as the “Walking Bible”. He could tell you where any scripture you asked him about or referred could be found.
I go to church on Sunday morning and Wednesday night and sit on a padded theatre seat in a climate controlled church and sometimes hate the fact that the worship teams wants everyone to stand the entire time they sing, takes the worship right out of me when I feel tired. Oh I have it so hard!
I am embarrassed and unworthy to hold the title of Christian when I compare myself to my relatives and all the horrors they suffered so that I could have the cushy life that I so enjoy. I can read the Bible in any translation I like, I can watch all the TV preachers I want to, Jimmy Swaggart is still my favorite, and read from my vast collection of inspirational books and then do nothing at all with it except write a few words here every night. I repeat, I have such a hard life!
I will end with the scripture I ended with last evening from Hebrews chapter eleven, 13-16 Each one of these people of faith died not yet having in hand what was promised, but still believing. How did they do it? They saw it way off in the distance, waved their greeting, and accepted the fact that they were transients in this world. People who live this way make it plain that they are looking for their true home. If they were homesick for the old country, they could have gone back any time they wanted. But they were after a far better country than that—heaven country. You can see why God is so proud of them, and has a City waiting for them.
38-40 Through acts of faith, they toppled kingdoms, made justice work, took the promises for themselves. They were protected from lions, fires, and sword thrusts, turned disadvantage to advantage, won battles, and routed alien armies. Women received their loved ones back from the dead. There were those who, under torture, refused to give in and go free, preferring something better: resurrection. Others braved abuse and whips, and, yes, chains and dungeons. We have stories of those who were stoned, sawed in two, murdered in cold blood; stories of vagrants wandering the earth in animal skins, homeless, friendless, powerless—the world didn’t deserve them! —Making their way as best they could on the cruel edges of the world. Not one of these people, even though their lives of faith were exemplary, got their hands on what was promised. God had a better plan for us: that their faith and our faith would come together to make one completed whole, their lives of faith not complete apart from ours.
“And when relationship demands commitment, then I’ll be there to care and follow through!” Really?