Friday, August 5, 2011

Hope, Courage, and Faith

Is faith in oneself the same as faith in God?  


Is Courage based upon who one is the same as courage from God when we are weak?

I don't think so.

Is Hope that our dreams will come true the same as the Hope we have because of Christ?


Our culture touts the values of hope, courage, and faith.  But, it bases these values in the potential within ones self.  It grieves me deeply.  The way these messages are conveyed to us sounds good and encouraging.  How could they be bad things?  They aren't necessarily bad--but they are bad if they take God out of the picture.  

Psalm 2:1-3 ESV
  1Why do the nations rage
   and the peoples plot in vain?
2The kings of the earth set themselves,
   and the rulers take counsel together,
   against the LORD and against his Anointed, saying,
3"Let us burst their bonds apart
   and cast away their cords from us."

The rulers took their counsel together--to rage against God means to take him out of the picture.

What do I think is true courage?

Courage is bravery-- a bravery based on knowing that God is for us and knowing that God is with us every step of the way.

Joshua 1:9
9Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go."

What do I think is true Hope?

Hope is the feeling that events will turn out for the best.  True hope is placed in Christ and that God is working in all that is going on.

Psalm 39:7
7"And now, O Lord, for what do I wait?
   My hope is in you.

What do I think is true Faith?

Faith is trust in God.  Trust that He is who He says He is, that He is in control, and that He will do what He says He is.  

Hebrews 11:1
1Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.

Yesterday, I posted about a book titled Eight Keys.  It was about a little girl who basically learns that the keys to life are all inside of her.  Faith, hope, and courage can all be found in her own heart.  God was not a part of the picture.

After I finished reading Eight Keys, I picked up another book titled Thunder Dog by Michael Hingson with Susy Flory.  It was published by Thomas Nelson.  This book was advertised as "The true story of a blind man, his guide dog, and the Triumph of Trust at Ground Zero."  This story is much more about blindness than about the events of 9/11.  The Publisher's Note at the beginning explained how Michael became blind.  After the story, there is a timeline for the events of 9/11, acknowledgements, courtesy rules for the blind, a long essay by the president of the National Federation for the Blind, and a list of resources for the blind.  I appreciated most reading the courtesy rules for the blind.  

It was interesting to read Mr. Hingson's story, though I wasn't always engaged.  This book wasn't what I expected it to be.  I was expecting an autobiography that shared how a man walked with God through 9/11.  But, that wasn't really what this book is.  This book is the story of a blind man and all that he has accomplished and done.  It is a story about his trust and faith--not necessarily in God, but in himself and his guide dog.    

As I began reading the book, I kept wondering, where is God in this picture?  God didn't show up until page 106 and then He's talked about for 6 pages.   

Let me take a quick, but related  rabbit grandmother and great-grandmother went to a United Methodist church where I grew up.  When I was a teenager, I offended my great-grandmother, because I said that if one didn't believe Jesus died for their sins on the cross then they wouldn't go to heaven. She replied to me that faith is a private matter and that it was rude to talk about it.  My grandmother shared with me that she believed if you are a good person you will go to heaven.  But, that isn't what the Bible says.  

I do not want to malign these authors or the Word of God.  What the authors said is essentially true, but there was something missing for me.  The focus of those 6 pages was all about what God did for Him.  His relationship with God seems to be about what God does for Him--a feel good friendship.  This picture of what it means to walk with God concerns me.  It reminds me a lot of what my grandma and great-grandma believed.

Our lives are not to be about us, but to be about God.  We are to bring glory to Him, not to ourselves.  We are to give credit for our achievements to Him--knowing that we are His creation.  I do this very imperfectly, but it is my heart to bring glory to God.  I have lived with much pride in my life and was taught to be proud of myself and bitter when I did not receive accolades I thought I deserved.  When I surrendered my life to Christ, I saw the errors in this thinking.  I now think it is okay to feel good about things I've done--understanding that I could do whatever it is I've done because of how God made me and what He has enabled me to do.  My achievements are because of Him.  

What do I think of this book?  I think it's good to understand the challenges blind people face and how they view these challenges.  Did I enjoy this book?  Not really.  Would I recommend it?  Again, no.  I read biographies and memoirs, because I want to be encouraged by how people have walked by faith.  That isn't exactly what this story is about.  It is very similar to the memoir I reviewed several months ago about Rick Tramonto.  That biography was basically "I did this, I did that, I did this, I did that...oh, and then I decided to believe in God...and then I did this, I did that, and then I did this."  This book follows that same pattern.  

Please note that I received a complimentary copy of this book for review from Thomas Nelson Publishing.  

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