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I will be having a huge announcement about my book, “Signs of Hope: Ways to Survive in an Unfriendly World,” coming up in about a week. That’s all I’m telling you for now. Be sure to come back often to see when it pops up.
This book reaches out to those who may be suffering from anxiety, fear, depression, addictions, self-doubt, hopelessness, and the many other usual suspects.
I have another excerpt from the book, “Signs of Hope: Ways to Survive in an Unfriendly World.” This chapter talks about the “good ole days,” compared to today.
My Reality Check Bounced
You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again?
It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled by men.
You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden.
Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand,
and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men,
that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.
Back when I was a youth, people didn’t go to R-rated movies because there weren’t any. The meanest language I ever heard in a movie back then was when Clark Gable, playing Rhett Butler in Gone with the Wind, said, “Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn.” That sent shock waves throughout the entire nation. How could they allow that kind of language in a movie?
They tried to counterbalance that statement by having Vivien Leigh, who played Scarlett O’Hara, say, “As God is my witness, I’ll never be hungry again.”
Back when I was a youth, smoking cigarettes was only for the “weeds.” We called them that because we considered tobacco a weed. Now it is a billion dollar business. I have lost too many friends to lung cancer who started smoking back then.
Back when I was a youth, very few high school students drank alcohol. Very few of us could afford it. Today, most middle school students have already tried alcohol.
Back when I was a youth, we didn’t see very many high school girls who had gotten pregnant, but those who gave birth kept the child and survived somehow. Today, it’s commonplace to see many high school—and even middle school—girls expecting a child. More often, though, they take care of their “problem” with an abortion.
Back when I was a youth, we didn’t know what drugs were. We took aspirin for a headache, and that was about it. Today, kids are trying to find the new fix that will get them higher than they were the last time they experimented.
What has happened? Why are people of today so destructive?
Our reality checks have bounced. We have slowly allowed sin to become the norm in our culture, so much so that things we called “sin” years ago are now a “lifestyle choice” and quite acceptable. It started several generations ago, and it will not stop anytime soon.
Today, reality to most people is not a Christian-based reality because everyone gets to determine their own reality. (The very meaning of the word “reality” has become subjective rather than objective.) So much more is acceptable today, and even the laws keep changing to accelerate the slippage away from an objective reality.
Women have the right to an abortion now. People can share pornography on the internet because they have the freedom of speech. Movies and television show so much more violence now. The language has Satan smiling. The crime rate creeps up in the big cities.
What can we do? There seems to be no way to turn all of this around. Do we, as Christians, just go live in a cave and hide from everything?
God says no! Since God knows even each hair on our heads, He knows what is happening—and He doesn’t like it.
Part of Matthew5:13-16 reminds us not to hide our light under a basket, but instead to put it on a stand and let it shine for all.
“This little light of mine, I’m gonna’ let it shine,” are the words of a children’s song many of us learned at church. The words apply to adults as well. Christians can’t run and hide. We are God’s disciples, and He has commissioned us to go out into the world and witness for Him. We couldn’t do much witnessing in a cave, unless the spiders made up our congregation!
The lament becomes: “What can I do? I don’t know what to say.” Acts 1:8 says, “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses.” Jesus then lists various places He wants us to witness: in our hometown, in regions other than our own—even to “the ends of the earth.” God’s very Holy Spirit will help us use the right words.
I have never been able to memorize a set list of things to say when an opportunity comes up to witness. I don’t just wing it either. I quickly ask for God to give me the right words. I don’t always say them quite as eloquently as God might want me to say them—and I may feel I have failed to say what I should have—but the seed has been planted. And there will be times when I get to see the reward for my efforts.
Regardless of the immediate outcome, the people we talk to will remember the conversation for a long time. They will wrestle over and over again with the things we’ve said. It’s called conviction. Hopefully it will turn them around so they can start walking on the right path.
We don’t have to go out and knock on people’s doors. (Salespeople do that.) But you’ll be very surprised how many people will “knock” at your door. Opportunities to speak a word for God come up more often than you’d think. It may be a friend who says she had a fight with her parents last night, and doesn’t know what to do. That’s a door-opener right there. A neighbor may have had a death in the family and he comes to us for support. Another golden opportunity to share God’s love with them.
It may be much more subtle. A brother comes home from college, and he seems different somehow. Happy-go-lucky when he left for school, now he won’t talk much, and he’s on the defensive all the time. We can start a conversation with him to draw out his feelings, assuring him that God is always there for him.
Another good way to witness is to be a good example for others. Your actions tell a story about you. You are like an open book. What will people read when they see you?
Above all, remain on the right reality train. Don’t take the train that goes nowhere. Don’t take the train that leads toward the pleasures of the world. Take the train that leads to God’s glory, and try to load it up with as many people as you can. Invite them onboard.
For it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose.
Do everything without complaining or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure,
children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine
like stars in the universe as you hold out the word of life.
Count how many times in a week, or in a day, you have had a chance to “witness” to someone. How many times did you actually do it?
Here’s an easy way to ease into witnessing: “I had something similar happen to me, and this is how God helped me through it.”
You don’t have to tell them to get down on their knees right there on the spot. They will get the picture. This is a much easier approach, and it gives them a way to escape their own demons.
Something to Ponder
Isn’t it funny that we have found that we have nothing to fear but fear itself?
You are not, alone.
You are not forsaken.
You are not unloved.
Above all… never, ever, give up!