Some home truths that we must take to heart:
I am not under divine inspiration as was the author of Proverbs, nor do I have the wisdom of Solomon. But I can offer some short and sweet observations and words of advice (which is what an aphorism is), based on nearly seven decades of life on earth, over five decades of being a Christian, and over three decades of engaging in various battles.
And that is how I will narrow down my focus here: I will be discussing things like Christianity and politics, the culture wars, being salt and light, dealing with controversy, using the social media and related issues. In other words, I will be talking about the sort of stuff I do on a daily basis.
What have I learned over so many decades in being heavily involved in all this? What words of wisdom might I share, perhaps to a newcomer to this area? What pitfalls might be avoided, and what lessons might be learned? Obviously what I offer here is highly subjective, personal, and far too fallible. But some of these thoughts might be of some use to others, so here I go:
1. Because God and Satan exist, we are now in an all-out war. It is ultimately a spiritual war.
2. This spiritual battle manifests itself in all areas of our life: social, political, intellectual, cultural, ideological, etc.
3. As such, life in this fallen world is not meant to be a vacation. We ARE in a war, and we should act accordingly.
4. We all have a role to play and a job to do. None of us have the luxury of sitting on the fence.
5. Sharing the good news of what Jesus did for us so that we can be reconciled to God is of course absolutely crucial.
6. I also believe the gospel we share includes other key issues as well, be it the importance of marriage and family, the sanctity of life, and so on.
7. Every believer may not be called into full-time missions or evangelistic work. But each one should seek to share their faith when and where possible.
8. In the same way, every believer may not be called into full-time political lobbying and the like, but we all can seek to be salt and light in various ways in our immediate circles.
9. The number of things we can do is endless. Some, like me, will set up an interactive website, write, teach and speak. But there are a zillion other things we can do.
10. The point is to be aware of the urgency of the hour, and the need to live a life fully given over to Christ and his Kingdom.
11. While it might make things easier on us if we think we can just sit things out, it will make things a whole lot harder on our children and our grandchildren.
12. A large part of these battles involves getting truth out into the public arena, especially since the mainstream media is suppressing and censoring so much truth.
13. Using things like the social media can be quite helpful here.
14. We need a thick skin but a soft heart.
15. Controversies WILL be there, but we need wisdom and discernment as to how we proceed.
16. You will encounter at least three sorts of opponents:
–Those who may mean well and have honest questions and a teachable spirit – they are worth spending time with.
–Those who just like to argue and waste your time – they are NOT worth spending time with.
–Those who have fully declared war on you and your mission – they are often best deleted, blocked, unfriended, etc.
17. The temptation to want to just give up will constantly be there. Perseverance and relying on God’s strength is essential, as are occasional breaks.
18. Often these sort of prophetic roles and callings will mean that you will mostly walk alone.
19. Still, we need to surround ourselves with those who are on the same mission and on the same page.
20. As we are all fallen, finite and fallible, we will never fully agree with others. (I sometimes disagree with myself!)
21. Being willing to work with others, even if we are not always as one on some things, is essential. This is called co-belligerency.
22. Just because others differ with us on various matters does NOT necessarily mean they are a heretic. It might just mean they think a bit differently than we do.
23. When you become involved in some of these battles, you must have on the full armour of God. And if you make this a full-time ministry, you must have committed prayer warriors daily backing you up.
24. Anyone in any sort of ministry for Christ will soon learn that complaint, criticism and contempt will be the norm.
25. This enmity and hatred will come as much from fellow believers as it will from non-believers.
26. Because Christ is Lord of all, we should seek to have a godly impact in all areas of life.
27. The key is to seek to discern what God wants you to do, and then do it with all your heart.
28. Do not be surprised if despondency and despair set in at times. Most of God’s great saints have experienced this.
29. Sometimes even friends, colleagues or family members will turn on you, attack you, or even betray you. Jesus knows all about this.
30. We must learn to ignore the armchair critics and stay true to our calling.
31. But we also can listen to what the critics are saying, and ask God if there is any truth that we must take on board.
32. Ours is to be a holistic witness. It is not a matter of choosing to share truth, or choosing to be loving to people. We are to do both simultaneously. Evangelism and social action are both needed.
33. Obviously without the power and leading of the Holy Spirit, we will be toast.
34. We are not just wanting to win arguments or debates, but win people as well.
35. Some folks are so concerned to be right that they treat people like dirt along the way. This is not how we should proceed.
36. We must learn what our limitations are. Do what God has called and gifted you to do, and no more.
37. Leaders are readers. Information is ammunition. Not loving God with your mind is a sin.
38. Our most effective ministry will happen as we spend more and more time on our knees before the living God.
39. When we come to know the approval of God, we will not worry so much about the approval of men.
40. If you are not daily reading and studying the Word of God, you will not get very far in any sort of ministry.
41. If you are not daily praying, you will not get very far in any sort of ministry.
42. When we let God deal with the depth of our character, he can then take care of the breadth of our ministry.
43. Don’t let your ministry overshadow your time and commitment to your family.
44. Read regularly the lives of the saints who have gone before. Biographies and autobiographies of great men and women of God are the best things you can read, next to Scripture.
45. Remember that God plus one is a majority.
46. This war will NOT go on forever. One side will soon enough win and win decisively, but until the final victory occurs, we must stay engaged in the various battles.
47. Remember, “Weeping may remain for a night, but rejoicing comes in the morning” (Psalm 30:5).
48. One day God will wipe away every tear from our eyes (Revelation 21:4).
49. One day we will hear those wonderful words: “Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master” (Matthew 25:23).
50. But we will also want to say, “We are unworthy servants; we have only done our duty” (Luke 17:10).
Any list such as this will of necessity be far from complete. Many other things could have been said. Indeed, given that this happens to be my 6043rd article posted on this site, it seems I have been saying quite a lot over the years on these and other matters.
But why write over 6000 articles knowing that 99.998 percent of the world’s population will not read one of them? Well, the 0.002 percent that do just might glean something from them. If that results in a bit of good, with some folks coming to know Christ, or bringing glory to God, or making a difference in this world, that is enough.
In the middle of writing this piece, I had two young people come knocking on my door, saying they are from the Labor party. I could have easily subjected them to a lengthy tirade about what I think of Labor and Dictator Dan, but I simply said I am more of a Liberal guy. The gal replied, ‘Thanks for the kind response’ and they walked away.
Chances are good that even if we did have a lengthy chat, their minds are made up, so it may have been a waste of time. And therein lies another truth: on most contentious issues you will have perhaps 10-15% hardcore supporters on one side, and 10-15% hardcore supporters on the other. Each is unlikely to reach the other, but it is the undecided 70-80% in the middle that we must try to reach.