IF YOU DON’T LOOK UP

(Photo credit: Bundesarchiv). Story: https://rarehistoricalphotos.com/august-landmesser-1936/

(Post by: Madie Hobbs)

Just the other night as I was sitting at our kitchen counter, I heard the familiar Star Wars soundtrack begin to play from our living room, and see the familiar, ‘in a galaxy far, far away,’ line flash across the TV screen. I could immediately guess the boys were watching ‘Rogue One’, considering that that’s my dad’s favorite movie in the series, and I couldn’t resist watching a bit of it with them.

After a little while, we come to a pivotal scene in the movie, where two of the main characters, Cassian, and Jyn, end up in the middle of a warzone where they are trying to contact an old friend of Jyn’s, who may be able to help the Resistance. They are kidnapped and taken to her friend’s secret hideout where she can talk with him and give a bit of an introduction for the Resistance.

Jyn tells her friend that since she has now fulfilled her obligation to introduce the Resistance members to him, she is finished, and wants nothing more to do with the messy business of rebelling against the Empire. Her friend then asks her an important question that has always stuck out to me.

He asks, “You can stand to see the Imperial flag reign across the galaxy?”

She replies, simply, “It’s not a problem if you don’t look up.”

Now, many of you probably just thought, ‘Wow, that’s a pretty good philosophy. Maybe the bad guys won’t mess with me if I just ignore their existence.’

Unfortunately, no matter what you think, that will never be true. Even I wish that could be true, that evil would just go away because we have chosen to not “look up”, but still, this is not the case.

Over the past three years, I think we can all agree that most Christians have been more cowardly than anyone else in the history of Christianity. I don’t say this in spite or anger, but rather I say it with a heavy heart that is filled with sadness and disappointment. Over time, we have made excuses for ourselves, just so we don’t have to face the blatant evil, and sin we have partaken in, staring us in the face. We say that things are too complicated, not relevant, not as big of a deal as other issues, and the list goes on.

One thing I have been asking the Lord over these past few years, is when will people wake up? I have asked over and over again, and every time the answer is the same. They will wake up when those of us who are facing the evil realities around us, start to make radical choices, staring this darkness in the face and walking in God’s authority.

Unfortunately, our world is full of followers, as we have all seen, who like sheep have gone astray and followed false shepherds blindly. But what if we could be the people to really give them something to follow? What if we helped them to follow the radically different Christ-like path?

Throughout history, it has been the people who are willing to live radically who have made a difference, won wars, expanded the gospel, and saved nations. They have been radically different in the face of fear and darkness and have made the decision to break away from the crowd.

“Do not consider that adverse circumstances are a proof that you have missed your road; for they may even be an evidence that you are in the good old way, since the path of believers is seldom without trial.” (Charles Spurgeon)

My dad recently sent me a photo, with a small, true story about a man who lived during WWII, whose wife was killed for being a jew, whose children were taken away from him, and who spent time in concentration camps before being forced to fight against the Allies. The picture he sent was one that has stayed in my mind and has inspired me to keep fighting the evil around us every day.

This very courageous man is photographed standing among many rows of men and women. All the people around him have their arms outstretched, as they salute the fascist Hitler, most with semi-happy expressions on their face. But this man, this man who had everything ripped violently away from him, who knew just what the Nazis were capable of, stands humbly among the people, with his arms folded across his chest, squinting into the sun.

He dared to look up at the flag of the enemy, and he chose to stare right at these violent, ruthless people, and to stand by himself, in direct defiance of darkness.

I challenge you today, dear Christian, wake up. Look the darkness right in the face. Don’t just say, “oh, well it’s too complicated for me to understand,” or “it’s not relevant enough for me to give my attention to it.” You have the power in your bones, placed there by the Ruler of the Universe, to confront evil.

Don’t be afraid to look up.

SO, WHAT IS YOUR RESPONSE?

= Where can you stand up against darkness?

CHANGED YOUR MIND? (BLOGMAS DAY TWENTY-EIGHT)

(Post by: Scott Hobbs)

Well, here we are in that week between Christmas and the beginning of a new year. This week has always been a roller coaster of a week for me personally. We go from the pinnacle of the season, Christmas, Jesus, to the day of December 26. It’s all over and I tend to be very sad about that. Then we head to New Years Eve, another celebration high; with remembrance of the previous year and that twinge of exciting expectation for things to come in the new year.

For many years, this in between week was a week of shutdown for our trucking business. Our primary customer was closed for the week between holidays; so while most of my drivers were off for some rest, a couple of us geared up and worked on trucks the whole week. There was this strange shift from the 24 hour a day, constant stress of trucks on the road, to a different, easier stress of getting equipment repaired and year end office work completed. It was a welcome change and we got to enjoy family and the holidays as well. Woo Hoo!

It’s funny how sometimes those changes in life can be so real that you can sense them. They are as distinct as a change in the weather; like going to bed one night and it’s a balmy 40′ then waking up to a frigid 10′ and snow on the ground. You know something changed.

But what about changes in our personal lives? Are they that noticeable?

One of my favorite movies is “The Darkest Hour”. It’s about Winston Churchill and WWII. Toward the end, Churchill is wrestling with how to deal with Hitler. He moves from what seems to be the inevitable position of negotiating a peace with him; to standing strong against the Nazi regime and fighting to the death if need be.

In the final scene, Churchill’s minister for war asks him one question in regard to his position on Hitler. “Changed your mind?” to which Churchill responds, “Those who never change their mind, never change anything.”

So how is it with you? Are you willing to change as you enter the new year? Or will you stay stuck in your current state with no room for change?

You ask; Scott, what are you saying I need to change? Why do you assume I have no room for change?

In answer, I would say that I have no idea what you need to change. But you do; and it probably is that thing you thought of as you read that question.

I would assume you probably, like me, are not a big fan of change because it’s hard. Maybe it’s my cynical side coming out as well. But I can say that after years of dealing with humanity; it’s a pretty safe assumption.

The first change we must have is to follow Jesus. Accept what He did for us on the cross. Follow His instructions in Scripture. Be all in for Him. It should be a noticeable change for sure.

Then God calls us to things as we are following Him. Maybe it’s a call to be a better spouse, parent, or employee. Perhaps the call is to seek Him more through Bible study, discipleship, or participation in more Christian activity. Whatever He is calling us to, for the most part, it will probably require us to make some changes. This is where we falter because change is seldom easy.

So, here’s the thing. Most of us get to the New Years deal and look back at how quickly the year went and have to admit there wasn’t much change. Then we say, I’m going to be serious this year and do that thing God is calling me to. And another year goes by; same story. Over and over again this repeats.

Can I just confess that I’m tired of doing that? Could we really get serious this year, with God’s help, and change that thing that He has been asking of us? It starts with being willing to look different.

You see Churchill had to stand up against even those in his own party that had accepted defeat at the hands of the Nazis. His position was not the easy way or the popular choice. It was hard.

Will you do the hard thing this year? Whatever it is that God has put on your heart and mind as you read this post. My prayer is that you seek God and earnestly ask for His help to change. Then do it.

Perhaps by the end of this year, folks will be noticing a difference and asking you that question.

Changed your mind?

“And the Lord, who is the Spirit, makes us more and more like Him as we are changed into His glorious image.”   (2 Cor 3:18)

WALKING FREE

Now I ain’t nothing perfect
I still stumble every single day
I still get knocked down
But the difference now
Is that’s not where I stay
‘Cause I’ve got a Savior
Who knows everywhere I’ve been
And He’s telling me that I never have to
Go back there again

So now I’m walking, walking
Walking free
No more darkness
Guilt has lost its grip on me
When mercy called my name
Those chains fell at my feet
And now I’m walking, walking
Walking free

BUT IF NOT

(Post by: Madie Hobbs)

In the summer of 1940, there was a total of 350,000 soldiers trapped on the island of Dunkirk. German forces were closing in around them with the means to completely destroy the island and everyone on it. Invasion was imminent. The speed of the Nazi army was unbelievable, and within days, most of the Allied Forces would be completely wiped out. British, French, Canadian, and Belgian troops had been forced back to Dunkirk by the advancing German army. Almost every escape route to the English Channel had been cut off; a horrible disaster had appeared unavoidable. At the time Prime Minister, Winston Churchill, called it “a miracle of deliverance”.

On May 12th, 1940, Hitler gave the order to invade France. By May 14th, 1940, German tanks had crossed the Meuse and had opened a gap in the Allied front. They reached the English Channel six days later.

The British, French, and Belgium governments had overwhelmingly underestimated the strength of the German forces. Because of this, the British Expeditionary Force (BEF), as well as French, Canadian, and Belgian troops found themselves fighting against horrifying odds. Before long, the Allied forces had retreated to the beaches and harbor of Dunkirk where they were trapped, a sitting target for the Germans.

In Britain, as the British people waited restlessly, a three-word message was transmitted from the doomed armies at Dunkirk: “But if Not.”

Suddenly, the nation of Great Britain was thrust into action. Eight hundred boats of all different sizes and descriptions were called into a response. Every battleship, fishing boat, gunboat, yacht, motorboat, and even small rowboats, sailed across the English Channel to rescue those troops from Dunkirk and return them safely to Britain. “Operation Dynamo”, as it was called, was a success. The Miracle of Dunkirk has gone down in history as being the biggest civilian boat rescue mission to ever take place and will never be forgotten.

Many of you may be wondering, “why did that simple three-word message, ‘But if Not’, spur so many people into action?” Well, dear reader, that message was a reference to a passage of scripture in Daniel that reads,

“Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego replied to him, “King Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter. If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to deliver us from it, and he will deliver us from Your Majesty’s hand. But if not, we want you to know, Your Majesty, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.” (Daniel 3:16-18)

The story of Dunkirk has always inspired me, but I just recently discovered the power of this message that was sent. This message was so incredible because the army at Dunkirk was saying simply that they REFUSED to let the tyrant that was Adolf Hitler, force them into submission and worship of the diabolical group that was the Nazi’s. They pleaded for the British government to help rescue them, ‘But if Not’, they would fight, and they would go on fighting, until the destruction of every last soldier.

The reason I am writing this blog post, is to call the Church into action. Just like the soldiers on Dunkirk, our enemy is closing in around us. And he is closing in fast. Just like the soldiers on Dunkirk, we need a divine rescue.

One thing I want you to notice about this army though, is the fact that they had already been fighting, and they meant to go on fighting, even if there was to be no divine rescue. This is the part the American church is missing. We like to act as if we have been fighting for a long time. We like to act as if we have suffered for the cause in which we believe. But today I want to ask you, do you believe in the cause for which you fight so much, that you would be willing to say, “But if Not”?

Would you be willing to give up all that you love, cherish, and desire in order to fight for our cause? If many of us were honest with ourselves, the answer would be “No”.

Many of us like to think that we have taken a stand for freedom and for the Gospel, but I think we need to start being real with ourselves. So many people told me last year that they would not go back to in-person learning if there were mask mandates in their schools, but every one of my friends went back to school and wore a mask every single day for the entire school year. So many pastors said they would never shut down their churches just because the government told them too, but almost every single one of them did. Many people told me that if a restaurant told them they were not allowed to have a table because they weren’t wearing masks, they would go somewhere else, but ended up only going to a different restaurant if they were with my family since we would not wear them.

I want you all to know that I do not hate the government, or America, or my fellow Christians, but I believe that every one of the things I just listed, have become weak. Many of us like to read the story of Dunkirk and talk about how inspiring it is and act like if we were in their position, we would stand and fight. But one thing we must also remember, is that the Allied Forces did not win WWII just because they were evacuated from Dunkirk. They still had to go on fighting the Nazi’s in order not to be enslaved.

“We must be very careful not to assign this deliverance the attributes of a victory. Wars are not won by evacuations.” (Winston Churchill on the evacuation of Dunkirk)

Church, we cannot look at our present circumstances and act like we have been victorious. We still have fighting to do. Just because our country is not presently a communist country, does not mean that we may not be one in the next few years if we simply continue to evacuate when things get heated. Just because the American church is not under serious persecution, does not mean that we never will be. We must be Christians like Shadrach, Meshach, and Abenego. We must be willing to say to anyone who opposes the Gospel of Christ, “But if not, we will not serve your gods, or worship the image of gold you have set up.”

Our job is to be the Light of Christ and fight the darkness that is creeping all around us. We must never surrender.

“What is to give light must endure burning.” (Viktor E. Frankl)

SO WHAT IS YOUR RESPONSE?

= Will you give your all for Jesus?

= What are some things you can do to advance the Gospel?

= What are you going to do differently?