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James Merritt - Courage, Go Big Go Bold

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    James Merritt - Courage, Go Big Go Bold
TOPICS: Mirror Image, Courage, Boldness

Well, welcome those that are watching online. Those at our Mule Creek campus, those that are here at our Sugarloaf campus, those by watching the television. Thanks for being a part of our service today. I wanna take you back to April the 1st, 1942. A soldier by the name of Desmond Doss joined the United States Army and little did he realize that 3 1/2 years later, he'd be standing on the White House lawn, receiving the nation's highest award for bravery and courage under fire. Of the 16 million men in uniform during World War II, only 431 received the Congressional Medal of Honor and one of those was placed around the neck of a soldier, who during combat, never killed a single soldier. Never fired a gun.

In fact, didn't even carry a gun. The only weapons he brought into battle were his bible and his faith in God. May of 1945, Japanese troops were fiercely defending to their last men. The one remaining barrier knows as Okinawa. The one remaining barrier wall between them and an allied invasion of their homeland. The men in Desmond's company were repeatedly trying to capture this imposing rock face that the soldier's nicknamed Hacksaw Ridge. And after the company had secured the top of the cliff, the Americans were stunned when all of a sudden this massive Japanese counterattack began to occur. They ordered a retreat and soldiers rushed to climb back down the steep cliff to save their lives and everybody came down that cliff, left the battlefield, except one man.

Less than 1/3 of the men made it back down, the rest lay wounded, scattered across enemy soil, they were abandoned, they were left for dead, if they weren't already. And yet there was this one lone soldier, who disobeyed orders, who did not retreat, who charged back in the firefight to rescue as many men as he could before he either collapsed or died trying. Because of his iron determination, 75 lives were saved that day, May the 5th, 1945, as he lowered them down, one by one, to be rescued below. And in October of 1945, President Harry Truman put the Medal of Honor around the only conscientious objector in military history, to receive the nation's highest honor.

When I saw the movie, if you haven't seen it, you ought to see it. When I read the story, I thought about the message we're talking about today. We're in a series that we're calling Mirror Image. And what we've been saying is, imagine you had a mirror that would show what you look like. Not on the outside, but what you would look like on the inside. What kind of character would you have? And so today, we're gonna be dealing with one of those character traits that I think is increasingly lacking in our culture. As a matter of fact, I think it is the root of some of the biggest problems that we face in our culture. I think it's why we refuse to listen to each other. I think it's why we refuse to solve our biggest problems. I think it's why we refuse to call things the way they are. And that virtue is what I call courage. I believe courage is an indispensable part of character.

Now, when I talk about courage today, I'm not talking about the kind of courage that Hollywood talks about, we normally think about, which is what I call physical courage. You know, it's the courage that Hollywood loves to make movies about. Well they celebrate the power of a superhero or the athlete who pushes through pain to win a contest, or the solider who races into a hail of bullets to save a comrade. Or even a cancer patient, who stands strong through long, hard months of chemotherapy. I mean we see about those, we see those acts of courage, and we hear about those acts of courage everyday, you know, day in and day out. That's not really the type of courage I want to talk about today. The type of courage I want to talk about affects every life of every person in this room.

If you, especially, are a follower of Jesus. It is the type of courage that is sorely lacking in Washington D.C. It is sorely lacking in educational institutions. It is sorely lacking in our society as a whole. It is what I call moral courage, moral courage. It's the kind of courage that if you decide to be a courageous person, you will be exposed to ridicule, criticism, ostracism, and the judgemental wrath of others. You'll be called all kinds of names, accused of all kinds of things. It's the kind of courage described by a man named Clement Stone who said this. He said, "Have the courage to say 'no' and have the courage to face the truth. Do the right thing, because it is right. these are the magic keys to living your life with integrity".

It's the kind of courage that's talked about in a story that is 2,500 years old but it's one of my favorites stories in all the Bible. It's one of the most inspiring stories in all of the Bible. It's about a woman that I nicknamed Wonder Woman. She really is the Wonder Woman of the Bible. If you've brought a copy of God's word, the story's actually named after her, it's called Esther. It's in the Old Testament. It's about, oh I don't know, eight, nine, 10 books to the left of Genesis. I want you to turn to Esther. Now let me tell you something about this book, very unique. There's 66 books in the Bible. One book never mentions God by name, this is that book, it's kind of interesting. God is never mentioned in this book.

You may say, "Well now wait a minute, if God's never mentioned by name, how in the world did it get in the Bible"? Because God's fingerprints are all over the story, you can't read the story without seeing God every single place. You talk about a fascinating story, if this story was not in the Bible, it wouldn't matter in a way, because we would have already seen it in Hollywood. Screenwriters would have had a field day because this story's got everything you want in a story and a movie that you've paid to go see today. It's got intrigue, it's got mystery, it's got deceit, it's got treachery, it's got romance, it's got murder. It has got one of those, you're not gonna believe how this story ends type of conclusion.

Now the story takes place in a place called Persia, it was a kingdom. What had happened was, Israel had been taken into captivity by the Babylonians, and the Babylonians had been conquered by the Persians. So now they're under the authority of a Persian king called Xerxes. He ruled over what's now known as the Medo-Persian Empire. You don't need to remember all this, but I will tell you how big this empire was. Back in the day, if you can imagine, it stretched from modern day Libya, in Africa, all the way to other side of Pakistan. It had over 50 million people. And up to that point, it was the largest empire in the history of the world, and they ruled the Middle East for about 200 years.

Well, Esther enters into this historical thriller and she kind of turns it into a Cinderella story. Cause here's how she starts out. When the story begins, Esther's just an unknown Hebrew girl. Just a country girl, a Jewish girl. Then in this miraculous turn of events, again, God's got his hand all over it, Esther is entered into a beauty contest. The king is looking for a new wife. 25,000 women are entered into the contest and out of 25,000 women, Esther wins the prize. She marries the most powerful man on Earth, she becomes the queen of Persia. But what she's gonna find out is, God did not put her in the kingdom just to be a queen. Not a queen for a day, not even a queen for a year. He put her there to save the Jewish people. Here's what happened, she had a cousin, the cousin's name was Mordecai.

Now Mordecai had basically adopted and raised her because evidently when she was a young child, both of her parents had died. So Mordecai raises her and he adopts her, he's actually the one that enters her into this contest, never dreaming she would win. Well the moment she wins, he realized, okay, we've got a problem. So he goes to Esther and he says, "Esther, don't tell anybody you're Jewish. The kingdom will go into apoplexy if they know that of all the women the king could have married, he marries this Jewish peasant". Who, by the way, they considered the Jews to be just nothing more than captured immigrants, which is really what they were.

Well then a villain by the name of Haman enters the scene. Haman is the prime minister of the empire, second in command only to the king. Haman has a big ego, and when the king makes Haman the prime minister, he passes a law. He says, "Everywhere I got, whenever you see men, you don't salute me, you don't wave hello, you don't clap, you've got to bow down before me". But Mordecai refuses. And he refuses because he's a Jew and he's not gonna bow down to anyone except the king and he'll only bow down to the king because he knows God is behind the king. But he is not about to bow down to Mordecai, I mean to Haman. Well that infuriates Haman, and when he finds out that Mordecai is a Jew, I mean his temper goes through the roof. Let me tell you why, this story really is just, it's an incredible story. Mordecai is a Jew, Haman is an Amalekite.

Now you say, "Well, why's that such a big deal"? Well, Jews and Amalekites had been in a blood feud that had been going on for over a thousand years. So, in other words, they were kind of like the Hatfields and the McCoys. They were kind of like Alexander Hamilton or Aaron Burr. And for you young people, they were kind of like Kanye West and Taylor Swift, okay? I mean, they don't like each other, they hate each other, they are not getting along, you get the picture. So when Haman finds out that Mordecai not only won't bow down to him, but then he finds out he is a Jew, he is really hot and he says, "You know what, Mordecai? I'm not just gonna take you out, I'm gonna take your people out". So he goes to the king and he talks, he convinces the king that the Jews are dangerous and they need to be wiped out. Because he doesn't just hate the person of Mordecai, now he hates the people of Mordecai.

So this is where the story really picks up. "When Haman saw that Mordecai would not kneel down or pay him honor, he was enraged". That's putting it mildly. "Yet having learned who Mordecai's people were," Jews, "he scored the idea of killing only Mordecai. Instead, Haman looked for a way to destroy all Mordecai's people, the Jews, throughout the whole kingdom of Xerxes". In other words, he said, "You've really gone and done it now, I'm gonna wipe you out, I'm gonna wipe your wife out, I'm gonna wipe your children out, I'm gonna hunt down every Jew in this kingdom, I'm gonna wipe out the nation of Israel once and for all".

Now to many of this that know our history, sounds familiar. Because there was another dictator, about, what, 90, 100 years ago, almost, 75, 75 years ago, that said, "You know what? I think I've come up with a final solution". His name was Hitler and he thought he was gonna do the same thing about 2,400 years later. So Haman is now manipulated the signing of the death warrant of an entire nation. We're talking genocide on an unprecedented scale. So you can imagine what Haman is feeling right now. And he realizes something, there's only one thing now standing between the annihilation of the Jewish nation and life. It is that little Jewish peasant girl who is now called Queen Esther. She is the ace in the hole, she is the only person in the whole world that can change the mind of the king and turn the tide from tragedy to triumph. To do this, she'll have to go big and she'll have to go bold.

And so we're gonna read about this wonder woman right now and she shows us what courage is all about. And by the way, can I just say this, I'll just say this before I forget it, this is so important. If you are a follower of Jesus, a true follower, you don't just say you're a follower, you're the real deal, I wanna warn you of something. If you decide you're gonna be a courageous Christian, it will cost you more in the future than it's ever cost you. You will not stay in a comfort zone in this culture and be a committed Christian. You will not be popular with everybody you work with if you're gonna be a committed Christian. All people will not speak well of you if in this culture, you're gonna be a courageously committed Christian. And here's what courage does, three simple things. Number one, courage shows up, courage shows up.

Now, when news gets back to Mordecai about the edict that's been issued, he collapses in a heap of sackcloth and ashes. He's sitting outside the city gate, he's wailing, he's mourning, he's crying, he's tearing his clothes. Well Esther hears about this commotion going on, she doesn't know what's wrong with her cousin. So she sends some attendants to find out what the problem is because she obviously doesn't know a thing about this plan at all, she hadn't heard anything. Well Mordecai realizes, again, Esther is his ace in the hole, so he sends word back to her about what's happened and then he tells her, "Esther, you've got to rescue us, you've got to get on your white horse and come to the rescue. You've got to go to the king's presence, you've got to beg for mercy, you're our only hope. You've got to go and show him how wrong this is. You're our only chance to spare your people and my people".

Well that sounds like a reasonable request, right? But it's not that easy, and here's why. "Hathak went back and reported to Esther what Mordecai had said. Then she instructed him to say to Mordecai, 'All the king's officials and the people of the royal provinces knows that for any man or woman who approaches the king in the inner court without being summoned, the king has but one law, that they be put to death unless the king extends the gold scepter to them and spares their lives. But 30 days have passed since I was called to go to the king.'"

Now let me tell you ladies what's going on here. They don't know what women's lib is, there's not such thing as gender equality. Even the queen couldn't just kind of stroll into the office of the king and just sit down and have a chat, it didn't work that way. Back in the day, nobody had an open door to the king, nobody. Not the queen, not the prime minister, not the secretary of state, not, you know, I mean nobody. And you say, "Well, why not"? Because there's always this great fear of assassination. And so the king had kind of surrounded himself with what our version would be of the Secret Service. So, if you wanted to see the king, here's what you had to do. You would send a formal request in writing, why you wanted to see the king, what your business was. Then he had to respond with a formal invitation. Then when you went into his presence, he had to hold out his golden scepter to show his approval.

Now, if he held out the golden scepter, you were good to go, you could say whatever was on your mind. However, if you walked into the king's presence and he didn't hold out that golden scepter, you weren't walking out. You might be carried out, you wouldn't be walking out. So Esther now faces a choice. One, she can say, "Not my battle, not my fight, you're one your own". She could have just stayed in the comfort confines of her lovely estate. She could keep the Mercedes, the Rolex, the servants, the crown, the jewelry, nobody would ever know she's Jewish, and at least she could live happily ever after. The only other option, rise to the occasion, go for broke, risk your life, do the right thing, say the right words, be the right person. Well when Mordecai hears her response, he realizes she's in this tension. He realizes she's in the valley of decision, he realizes the decision that she's having to make.

If this were in a movie right now, this would be the part of the movie where you'd be biting your nails, you'd be on the edge of your seat, your eyes would be dilated, your ears would be perked up, you'd be wondering, "Man what is she going to do? Is she gonna come through or not? Is she gonna do the right thing or the easy thing? What in the world is she gonna do"? And then Mordecai, realizing what she's facing, makes one of the most life changing statements in all the Bible. He says to her, he says to the attendant, "I want you to go back and tell Esther this". Listen to what he says. "He sent back this answer, 'Do not think that because you are in the king's house, you alone of all the Jews will escape. For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place. But you and your father's family will perish. And who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?'"

You listen to your pastor today. More than ever, since I've been alive, you're gonna face time after time after time after time, at times that you least expect it. You're gonna do the right thing or not? You gonna stand up, you gonna wimp out? Even if it means standing alone. And let me just go ahead and give you the dirty little secret here, I'm not gonna sugarcoat anything. It costs to be courageous, and courage never goes on sale. Courage never comes at half price, courage never comes at a discount. There's no blue light special on courage. And you're gonna have times in your life where you're gonna have to face risk and fear, it's gonna stare you in right in the face.

That's why I don't believe it's a coincidence that 365 times in the Bible you find two words, you know what those words are? Fear not, fear not, fear not. 365 times, once for every day of the year, fear not. You know why? Because God knows every day, there's a chance for fear to make us crawl under the bed, hide in the closet, retreat from the battle, go along to get along. That's why the first step of courage, just showing up. Author Brene Brown put it this way, this is a great thought. She said, "Sometimes the bravest and most important thing you can do is just to have the courage to show up and be seen when we have no control over the outcome".

See, there are gonna be times in your life, and this is the way it's gonna work, there are gonna be times in your life when you've gotta decide and you gotta decide quick, what really is first in my life? Who really is most important in my life? You gotta decide and you gotta decide on the spot, am I gonna do the right thing or the wrong thing? Am I gonna do my thing or God's thing? Am I gonna be courageous or am I gonna be a coward? Am I going to show up or am I gonna wimp out? I read this recently and I loved it, listen to this. "A ship in harbor is safe but that is not what ships are built for". I love that, a ship in harbor is safe, but that is not what ships are built for. The ship of your life should sail the seas it was meant to travel, you can't stay in the harbor.

If you're going to be a person of character, therefor a person of courage, you've got to courageously ship out and show up. That's step number one, courage shows up. Step number two, courage stands up, courage stands up. See, one of the reasons why courage is such a difficult thing to have at certain times, you know why? Because most of the time when you have to show courage, you don't have time to think about it. You don't plan, you don't get up and say, "Okay, at two o'clock today, I'll be courageous. Or at five o'clock today, I'll show a little courage".

Now here's why courage is so difficult because most of the time, you don't have time to think about doing the courageous thing, saying the courageous word, taking the courageous action. It just comes like a lightning bolt out of the blue and then you find out, do you have it or do you don't? That's where politicians buckle and they fold like accordions. So are you pro-life? And they wimp out. Do you believe marriage should only be between a man and a woman? And they wimp out, see it all the time, because you don't have time to think about it. And unfortunately, it's at that moment you find out, do I bleed red or do I bleed yellow? Do I really have the courage that God would want me to have or do I not? Well in this case, Esther didn't take long to decide, look what she does. "Then Esther sent this reply to Mordecai".

See, we all have those such a time as this moment, when we gotta, I mean on the spot, gotta make a decision. Am I gonna keep my seat or am I gonna stand up? Am I gonna go with the crowd, go with the flow, do what the Romans do? Do the right thing and if I gotta do it alone, stand up even if I have to stand up alone, take the right path even if I take it alone. Because at that moment, listen to me, at that moment, courage will not be asking you this question. What's the easy thing to do? Courage will not be asking you this question. What is the most popular thing to do? Courage will be asking you this question, what is the right thing to do? And Esther knows there's only one thing she can do.

Now she understands, now I know why I won the beauty contest. Now I know why I'm sitting in this palace. Now I know why I'm the only woman in the whole country that has the title Queen. I get it, you've put me here, God, for such a time as this. And when those moments come, here's what will happen, happens every time, fear will scream in your ear, "Stay seated". Fear will scream in your year, "Say nothing". Fear will scream in your ear, "Don't do anything". Courage will just quietly speak to your heart. You have come to this place for such a time as this, this is your moment, God is looking at you, God is counting on you, this is your time to stand up for what you know is right and to say the right thing. And she realizes the cost of her decision with these unbelievably courageous words, listen to what she says, "And if I perish, I perish".

That's the kind of courage you gotta have in today's world. If I lose my job, I lose my job. If I don't get re-elected, I don't get re-elected. If the mainstream media rips me to shreds, they rip me to shreds. If I'm called a bigot, if I'm called intolerant, if I'm called just a right wing fundamentalist Christian, that just goes with the territory. Someone has said that courage is not the absence of fear, it is the mastery of it. And see, the bible adds a very important element to courage and that is trust in God. Because I haven't told you what courage is, now let me tell you what courage is, you ready? This is my definition. Courage is being willing to do what you know Gods want you to do, even when the consequences are unseen and unknown.

Now, full disclosure. The cowardly way will always be the easy way, always. The courageous way will always be the hard way. The cowardly way will always be the comfortable way. The courageous way will always be the costly way. But to quote Brene Brown one more time. She said, "I want to be in the arena, I want to be brave with my life. When we make the choice to dare greatly, we sign up to get our tails kicked. We can choose courage or we can choose comfort, but we can't have both, not at the same time". So Queen Esther has made her decision. Okay, if I perish, I perish. And then you realize that between chapter four and chapter five, there's a pause in the action for three days. The Jews are praying, the Jews are fasting, the Jews are interceding for Esther, the Jews are asking God to give Esther strength, and Esther is looking to God. And then we read these words in chapter five.

"On the third day, Esther put on her royal robes and stood in the inner court of the palace, in front of the king's hall. The king was sitting on his royal throne in the hall, facing the entrance". Now notice, she's not standing in the outer court where the king can't see her. She's not going, "Man, do I really wanna do this? Golly, oh man". She says, "Nope, I'm going right into the inner court". Now just imagine, get this picture. I'm walking into the inner court and I don't know if I'm gonna live or die. As a matter of fact, there's probably a greater than 50/50 chance that I'll die. Because if you know the whole story, I didn't even tell you this part.

The reason why she got to marry the king is because the king kicked out his other wife because she wouldn't do what he told her to do. So it's not really looking too good for Queen Esther. So she doesn't know, will the king hold out the scepter or not? But you know what, at that point, she says, "You know, I'm not worried about that. Because here's what I know now, it's all in God's hands. My life is in God's hands, I'm not worried about the king anymore". But Esther teaches us courage is willing to pay the price for doing the right thing. Courage is willing to go where you know you need to go and taking your stand where you need to take your stand. So what does courage do? Number one, it shows up. Number two, it stands up. Number three, it speaks up, it speaks up.

So let's fast forward, okay? Esther's got, she's got this brilliant plan. She says to the king, "Can we throw a banquet? I've got this idea, I'd like to throw this banquet and I'd like to invite Haman, I'd like to invite all the dictators come to this banquet". Well every king loves a party, he said, "Sure Esther, I'd be glad to do that". And in fact, Haman even gets this idea they're throwing the banquet in his honor, he can't wait for the banquet. So, right in front of everybody, everybody's gathered together now in this great banquet hall, right? Everybody's looking at Queen Esther and Esther gets up and she makes this breathtaking announcement, watch this.

"So the king and Haman went to Queen Esther's banquet, and as they were drinking wine on the second day, the king again asked, 'Queen Esther, what is your petition?'" She hadn't told him yet what she wanted. "'What is your petition? It will be given you, what is your request? Even up to half the kingdom, it will be granted.' Then Queen Esther answered, 'If I have found favor with you, Your Majesty, and if it pleases you, grant me my life, this is my petition.'" Now watch this, "'And spare my people, this is my request. For I and my people have been sold to be destroyed, killed, and annihilated. If we had merely been sold as male and female slaves, I would have kept quiet, because no such distress would justify disturbing the king.'"

You're in that banquet hall. Man when she says that, you could have heard a pin drop. I mean, gasps went up all over the room. Whispers. The queen's Jewish. Her family's Jewish. She has Jewish blood. The king is married to a Jew. And the only one that could speak up, spoke up. And the rest, as they say, is history, because here's the problem. Since the decree had been ordered by Xerxes, it could not be revoked, that was called the law of the Medes and the Persians. So what Xerxes does is, he issues another decree. He gives the Jews the right to gather together, arm themselves, and defend their lives. And the fight ensues and the Jews killed over 75,000 Persians and in the process, saved an entire nation. All because of one woman, who was willing to go big and go bold.

I'm reading right now, if you like to read biographies, I wanna recommend one to you. I'm reading the biography of Winston Churchill, Winston Churchill is one of my favorite characters in history. And there's a one volume book by a man, I think by the name Robinson, I can't put it down, I read it every day. Because he had such great quotes, he was a great wit, but I want you to listen, Winston Churchill said this. He said, "There comes a special moment in everyone's life, a moment for which that person was born. That special opportunity, that when he seizes it, will fulfill his mission, a mission for which he is uniquely qualified. In that moment, he finds greatness, it is his finest hour". There is no doubt this was Esther's finest hour. As a matter of fact, do you know how fine it was? We're talking about it right now. You know how fine it was? It made the Bible as a book. You know how fine it was? We still talk about Esther today.

As a matter of fact, you may or may not know this, the Jewish calendar is built around three major holidays. There's Passover, that's when the Jews celebrate their deliverance from Egypt and the Exodus. And then there's Hanukkah, that's when they remember the victory of a leader named Judas Maccabeus, who defeated the Syrians and restored the temple. But the third holiday that they celebrate is the Feast of Purim. And it commemorates how this incredible wonder woman put God first, others second, herself last, and showed such unbelievable courage, they still celebrate it today. In fact, listen to this, she is so revered that when they celebrate Hanukkah, Jews assemble in synagogues all over the world and they read the entire book from end to end, the Book of Esther, and they tell the story all over again.

Listen, nothing will mature you, nothing will measure you like those times when life puts you on the spot and you gotta make the call. You gotta choose the path, you gotta make the decision, and you know immediately, alright, there's a right way, there's a wrong way. There's a right door, there's a wrong door. There's a right call, there's a wrong call. And you know that that choice you're about to make is gonna make you for the rest of your life. And then you, the question comes, okay, will I have the courage to show up? Will I have the courage to stand up? Will I have the courage to speak up?

So for example, here's some personal questions for our church. Do we really have the courage to love people that are so unlike us? They're different in their lifestyle, they're different in their appearance. They may be different in their political persuasion. They're as far away from God as Mars is from planet Earth. Do we really have the courage to really, truly love them? Do we have the courage to stand up against discrimination and racism and sex trafficking and spousal abuse and abortion and education inequality? Do we really have the courage to claim that we follow a just God who demands justice, not just in heaven, he demands justice on Earth?

And let's just get real personal. For our church, will each one of us really have the courage, those of us who claim to know Christ, do we really have the courage to bring one? Do we really have the courage to talk to one? Do we really have the courage to share the gospel with one? Do we really have the courage to go out on the limb for one, even if we get rejected? Do we really have the courage to say, "I love you so much, I'm not worried about my feelings anymore, I want to try to reach you every way I can for the Jesus that I love and the Jesus I want you to love". By the way, we're here to make disciples and Jesus said, "A disciple is never above his master".

Well we have a master that was so courageous, he left the comfort of heaven to come to a planet that he knew before he came here, that he created, they're gonna ridicule me, they're gonna reject me, they're not just gonna scorn me, they're gonna beat me, they're gonna flog me, they're gonna spit on me, they're gonna laugh at me, and they're going to crucify me, but I'm still coming anyway. Because I want you to have eternal life. I want you to have forgiveness. I want you to know the God that created you, and oh by the way, Jesus did that because 2,500 years ago God raised up an Esther, so that the nation that would produce the messiah would be preserved and would be saved.

So I wanna close with this. In the early 1970s, the Iraqi government arrested a group of American students on some trumped up espionage charges. Saddam Hussein wanted confessions and admissions of guilt. And so they begin to torture these students. They told every student one by one, "If you will just confess," even though they knew they hadn't done anything, "If you will just confess, publicly and openly, to what you've done, you'll go free". One by one, as the pressure of the pain mounted, the prisoners begin to confess to crimes they had not committed. Every single one of them did, except one student. One student wouldn't cave.

One student said, "You do to me whatever you wanna do, I'm not guilty of these crimes, you know I'm not guilty of these crimes, I am not going to confess". Recounting his friend's story in the Wall Street Journal, Mark Helprin wrote this story. "When they announced they were finished with his case, that he could simply confess or die. A confession lay before him as they raised a pistol to this head and cocked the hammer and started the countdown. He had heard executions form his cell. 'Sign your name, and you will live,' he was told, but he refused. He closed his eyes, grimaced, and prepared to die. They pulled the trigger. When he heard the click, he thought he was dead. The gun however, had not been loaded". Helprin's friend was eventually released. But do you know what he discovered? Every other prisoner who had confessed was hanged in the public square.

See, I told you the cost of courage is great, and I'm not gonna lie to you, courage doesn't come cheap. But I'll tell you what I've learned in my life, because there have been times I've been the coward, I'm not gonna sit here and pretend I've got a perfect record, I don't. But I will tell you what I have learned, yeah the cost of courage is great, but the cost of cowardliness is greater. The cost of compromise is greater. So I'm asking you who are parents, and I'm asking you who are grandparents, teach your kids and your grandkids and model for them a life that shows up when the rest of the world is hiding. And speaks up when the rest of the world, or stands up when the rest of the world is sitting, and speaks up when the rest of the world is listening. Go big and go bold, that's what Jesus did for us. That's what we ought to do for him.
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