Thursday, August 21

How Do You Respond to the Bark?

"A dog barks when his master is attacked. I would be a coward if I saw that God's truth is attacked and yet would remain silent." John Calvin

I have had dogs as pets all my life. I love them because they are loyal and will love you unconditionally. Even when I arrive home after a very stressful day, they always greet me with wagging tails and are overly excited to see me. I know they will defend me no matter what the circumstance. They would protect me if someone attempted to harm me or my family. Can we say that about our faith in Christ? Where is our loyalty to the Lord? Do we defend our church, pastor and God no matter what situation we may be facing?

Bobby and I have been pastoring for many years and ministry can be challenging. The one thing that frustrates me more than anything else is hearing about people whom consider themselves Christan's but choose to constantly bash the church, the pastor's, God's people and the Lord. How can we do that and think for a second that we are OK in our walk with Christ? And what about folks listening to these people complain and tear down God's Kingdom? How do they respond to the attack? Do they defend God or entertain the criticism? In my opinion, entertaining gossip and refusing to defend the church and pastor's places you on the same level as those who are barking!

As Christians, we must defend the Word of God in all circumstances. To the world we are weird and different but didn't people look at Jesus the same way? He was criticized and ridiculed. Why do we think we will be spared that same type of treatment?

Our world is full of corruption and compromise. People are hurting all around us. They feel hopeless and need Christ. We may be the only Jesus that some will ever see. What kind of Jesus are you portraying to the world? Is your life full of compromise or are you barking for Christ?

Biblical faith is based on a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. Hebrews 11:1 says, "Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen". Regardless of the circumstance, faith in our Lord means that we believe that God can and God will deliver. It also means that we believe the Bible from cover to cover. This type of faith leaves little room for doubt. If we are truly demonstrating this type of faith in our lives we will automatically stand up and defend the things of God.

Christians must demonstrate faith in their lives and believe that nothing is impossible when serving the Lord. If God said it, I believe it and that settles it! Tests of faith can be severe. They may involve things that deny logic. They may come in the form of a challenge or command that we may find almost impossible to accept. They may occur suddenly and unexpectedly. Our faith tests can involve things that seem to make little or no sense. They can even seem to conflict with things we have believed God for. But we can be confident that the one, the God who tests us also loves us. And He is all-knowing and wise. We can trust Him, even though the test we experience may seem to deny His love and wisdom.

Tests can saturate our minds with questions of why. God holds the answer. We need to tightly embrace Him, trusting Him totally with everything in our lives. As Christians our lives become an example to others who are looking for a reason to hope and believe in this life. A famous hymn from the late 1800's urged Christians to "trust and obey." We may not understand what we are going through when we are tested, but we must trust God and continue to obey Him.

I know without a shadow of a doubt that my God is the real deal. He has walked with me through the valleys and shared the victories on the mountaintop. I have placed my trust and faith in what I cannot see but I know God exists. He has done so many incredible things in my life. Without Him I don't want to think about where I would be today.

We must stand for the truth recorded in the Bible for it is the only sure foundation for faith and practice. If not, we will be victimized by all sorts of false doctrines and those who teach them. Understanding God's love for us personally gives us the strength we need when tested. We also need to be directed into the "patient waiting for Christ." Jesus' example of steadfastness can inspire us to remain steadfast no matter what mountains or obstacles may be in our way!

When our master is attacked we must bark! Whether it is against the church, the pastor, God's people or His Word. As Christians we must be willing to stand up for the kingdom of God no matter what! If not, Satan wins!