During this Coronavirus crisis, my wife Sue and I have been faced with some hard choices. Some people have loved our decisions, others not so much. That is the way it is in life, isn’t it?
All of us are faced at times with making decisions that people will disagree with us about. The question is how do we find the strength and boldness to stand by our convictions and conscience when people disagree with us. Where do you find the inner fortitude to do what you believe is right in the midst of adversity.
Our Journey Of Boldness
As many of you may know, this week Sue and I along with many other pastors from other churches in Nevada, made ourselves available to be the plaintiffs in a class-action lawsuit against Governor Sisolak concerning his ban on in-person worship services. The attorneys decided on a church in Lyon County would give them the best chance of winning the suit. Our church was their second option.
Making ourselves available was not a decision that was taken lightly. Nor was it one that we just all of a sudden found the boldness to do. It was because of a long journey that Jesus has taken us on over the entire course of our life.
In 1988 after graduating from Bible College in 1985, I sensed God calling me to use what I had learned and to start in pastoral ministry. I had already been a Youth Pastor and gone through a pastoral internship. It was time. I went to my pastor at the time and told him what I felt. His words to me were “You might as well sit down until your 40 because they won’t listen to you at 28.”
Well, suffice it to say that I didn’t listen to him. I listened to God and we rented a warehouse building, called all our friends and relatives, put an ad in the paper, and on our first Sunday, we had 45 people who showed up to help us start a new church. At 28 years old God was teaching me boldness and to trust that when I would stand, He would back me. In 1993 I started pastoring in Nevada.
My wife Sue had a similar experience. When her first husband prior to his passing decided he wanted to start a furniture store, they went to their pastor. His advice was to give up the idea because he felt it would fail. They didn’t listen and built one of the largest furniture stores in Gillette Wyoming and it has now passed its 20th anniversary and is now owned by her daughter. She had the boldness to move forward with what God was speaking to their hearts.
I cannot tell you how many times I have had to choose between following God and following man. On more than one occasion it was recommended to me to follow a certain philosophy about how to run a church. People told me that you have to be what is called seeker sensitive. Well we do not want to be seeker insensitive, but the church is not to be a destination where everyone feels comfortable, it is to be the gathering of people who have found that Jesus is worthy to be praised and worshiped.
There were those that told me that we needed to have a great program or programs and that nothing should get out of control. Well, I totally agree that we don’t want to get out of control but when that equates to not making room for God the Holy Spirit to show up and speak to the church, then that is too much control. It is after all His church and not ours.
So when this Coronavirus crisis hit, Sue and I weighed everything carefully. The scripture tells us not to be conformed to the world’s way of thinking. So we weighed the evidence at the time and chose to cooperate with the Governor’s orders. However as time went on, it became apparent that the numbers were not adding up and that the models used in estimating the mortality rate originally was off.
It was at this point we had to ask ourselves if love is just one-sided or if everyone needed to be loved during this crisis. We felt we were called to love victims, first responders, business owners, employees, and others. We were called to the entire community. It was time to take a bold stand.
We have taken flak that is for sure. I had one person run a Facebook poll asking if people agreed with what we were doing. Another person questioned those of us that have been protesting and showing our support for this community by asking the question; “were we helping or just shouting at the wind?”
On the other hand, I have had the opportunity to join hands with many believers of many backgrounds and streams of Christianity and even Judaism and was able to minister and bless them for what we have done and are doing. It was well worth the passive-aggressive behavior we endured from others.
How Do You Find The Boldness To Stand Rather Than Just Go With The Status Quo?
There is a very insightful passage in the book of Acts. The Apostles Peter and John had been arrested for engaging in their religious liberties and speaking the name of Jesus in public. Here is what the men noticed.
Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated and untrained men, they marveled. And they realized that they had been with JesusActs 4:13
Notice what it is that they saw. They saw the boldness of Peter and John. Then notice the conclusion that they made. They realized that they had been with Jesus.
You get boldness by truly knowing Jesus. Not just through the Bible although that is very important, by actually spending time with Him in prayer. You show me a praying man or woman and I will show you a bold man or woman. You show me a timid man or woman and the opposite is true.
Just as faith without works is lifeless or dead, so is prayer without getting up and believing God heard your prayer and will act on your behalf. Peter and John knew this. We need to learn this as well.
In the end, what did Peter and John do? They had been ordered to be silent. They had been ordered to stop gathering people together and speaking the name of Jesus. Their response was MORE LORD!
Now, Lord, look on their threats, and grant to Your servants that with all boldness they may speak Your word, 30 by stretching out Your hand to heal, and that signs and wonders may be done through the name of Your holy Servant Jesus.”
31 And when they had prayed, the place where they were assembled together was shaken; and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and they spoke the word of God with boldness.Acts 4:29:31
Father, I pray that you would send your Holy Spirit to Mesquite and fill every heart with boldness to stand for you.
May your Spirit fill every leader, congregant, and person who calls upon your name and grant them the boldness to stand.
Blessings and boldness to you!
In Jesus Name.