Leon Fontaine - Are You a History Maker?
There's a word that we use today that has changed. It's the word "virtue". If you ask somebody, "What does virtue mean"? Well, that's what dads do when they say no to their daughters dating some of these guys, they're protecting their daughters' virtue, and that's the kind of way we'd use the word in modern vernacular. But that's not what it meant, in the ancient world. And what it meant in the ancient world, needs to be woken up in our hearts. And in our lives. The word virtue, it means excellence of character. Excellence morally. Excellence physically. Excellence mentally. Excellence in business, excellent at all that we do.
And so, whenever you would mention virtue, or you'd never question someone's virtue, it literally meant these four things in the ancient world. The Greek world, the Hebrew world. It meant courage, to be virtuous meant to be temperate, there's a word we don't use anymore. It meant justice. And it meant wisdom. Those four things. They were crucial, and these guide us. They are the compass for our lives in every situation. Virtue, will guide you. And it's something that God is. It's something that is reflected all through the Word. The aspects of theses four show up in the fruits of the spirit. They show up in what you add your faith to in the book of Peter. They're seen all through the stories of the Old Testament, and the new.
You see, courage needs wisdom. Or you could have a guy being courageously stupid. Courage, when you look at these four. You know, justice, it shows you what to be courageous about. Justice for all, fairness for all, these are crucial issues. And they all protect the other. To do right things, always takes courage. Just as discipline is impossible without wisdom. Otherwise, how do you know what to discipline yourself around? One lady said to me my daughter is so undisciplined, there's not an ounce of discipline in her. And she was giving up. I said, actually I know your daughter. She's incredibly disciplined. What? What are you talking about. Have you said, have you seen her makeup? She knows her colours, she knows makeup, she puts it on beautifully, amazingly, she's disciplined in the morning, in the night. The, discipline is everywhere but what do we discipline ourselves in, is what wisdom shows us.
And so, we've got to understand these four. And we've got to embrace them, because they're all through the Bible. And other religions, and other groups of people, they, they loved these because all truth is parallel. If you want to play the harp, really well, play it daily. If you want to be a soccer player, a really good one, play it daily. If you want to be a builder, learn to build daily. If you want to live with virtue, practice it daily. We think courage is something that once in a while it's going to be called to you. That you know, there'll be one moment, you were created for such a time as this. And I believe that. But when I study people in the Bible, I noticed that they practiced this kind of virtue every day. People think that, that David just jumped up and discovered, oh I have courage. And killed Goliath. No. He was killing bears and lions as he served his father in protecting the flock. Daily, he would worship God. Daily, if something came up, he would take it out. And in your life, if you want to live a life filled with this virtue, that God intended you to live with.
See, I wasn't born with it. You're not born with these things. They're developed. They're developed. And you develop these daily. So, we've got to understand this virtue is not a singular event. So, let's begin to recognize that you, right now, need to work on courage every day. Every day. Do what others might not think you should be doing. There is nothing that a courageous person has done on this planet, that some peanut gallery wasn't saying don't do that, that's the wrong thing to do. Who do you think you are? Like, just wah wah wah wah. Or it wouldn't be courage. Why would you need courage, if there's nothing courageous to do with it? Courage is something you can work at every day. Wisdom is something you must learn to listen to, as it calls out to you every day. Living this balanced life, knowing which move to make as you don't let the pleasures of life destroy you, as you're temperate.
Justice is important, that everybody around you is looked after, and you'll jump in there for the underdog in a second. Couple of weeks ago the story was told in one of our cities, a lady being raped on a public transit, and people just stood and watched and did nothing. I'm talking about justice that says stand up and it might take a stabbing, you might get beaten up a little bit, but you can't let a woman be rape... are you kidding me? Stand up for justice, stand up with temperance. Use wisdom, but courage is such a crucial, crucial thing in this life of living our lies with virtue. Leo Tolstoy says, there is no deed in this life so impossible that you can't do it. Your whole life should be lived as a heroic deed. There are unlimited opportunities every day, at work, at home, everywhere, to live with courage. To live with temperance, to live with justice, to live with wisdom, and you need that. Because, your kids ain't gonna do what you say.
How many of you here right now going, oh I didn't do anything my momma said. I didn't do any, listen. We didn't do what they said. We did what they were. The culture of them. What they stood for. Bravery. This issue of courage, has got to be transferred into the next generation. Teach them whatever you want. You, no. We work in the jails, and we love the men and women who are with us today, who found new life coming out of prison. But when you simply bring education to a prison, all you've got is better educated prisoners who when they get out can break the law in an even better way. There's got to be this heart change. This Jesus in our lives. And when we do, something takes place on the inside, and we've got the wrong look at Christians. We think Christians are these little hippy looking guys with long precious brown hair, and a little bit of dress, and some happy beads, and big precious moments eyes and peace, bless you.
And, that is not what this faith is talking about. It's talking about courageous leadership. It's talking about you and I living our lives in such a way that people are inspired by us, and it doesn't take some great big thing for you to do. It just takes make every decision understand that what decisions I make today are forming my kids future. Make the decisions you make today, are causing people around you to respect you, or to follow you. You are either gaining an influence, or you have none.
Now listen to me close. You can have stunning, phenomenal influence on the people around you, if you'll practice this one message I want to share with you today. Any time the church is quiet, we pay for it. Any time parents are quiet, around school boards, around neighbourhood ideas, any time we're quiet in a democracy, any time we are quiet, it doesn't do anything good for us. People have learned who are courageous, they do what needs to be done. They speak up and say what needs to be said. They act in a way that protects the vulnerable and the hurting. They recognize according to Psalms 127, that you and I are watchmen on the wall. What is that? A watchman on the wall protected a city. It protected a country. It protected the way of life that had been built. We can't be silent. When you do things that other can't do or won't do. Then there's courage involved. Otherwise it's not courage. You have to be braving something for it to be courage. Still courage remains hard to define.
We know it when we see it, but it's hard to really say what that is. It's like this rare gem, this beautiful gem that needs to be examined from all sides, every facet, because one person might think that you know, courage is the champion in the boxing ring. There's so many different facets of courage in everyday life, from the moms and teenagers and kids.
Winston Churchill was one of my heroes. One of my heroes. As a child, they said he had unloving parents. Didn't reach out and love him. Took him courage to get out and live anyway, and not use it as an excuse to simply not be temperate, but to live balanced. It took courage to ignore the teachers who thought him dumb. As a war correspondent, he was captured. And at the risk of his life, took an escape. It took guts for him to run for public office and to put himself out there. It takes courage to publish as a writer when everybody gets to read what you think. He changed political parties, that took courage. When everybody was talking about him, to enlist in World War I. Then to be outed politically, and no longer popular. He stood alone when he got back in against Naziism. And he began to give speeches about his finest hour. The Prime Minister before him in the U.K. then, he literally got up and said we must negotiate with Hitler. He's a reasonable man. And yet in the heart of this leader, was a knowing that we must stand.
A knowing this is not a person to negotiate with. This is a person to prepare for war with. His speeches say things that inspired people. They went by radio all across the isles there. It was like, we will fight him in the cities, we'll fight him on the water. We'll fight him in the air, and we'll fight him on the lawns. We'll fight him in the fields, we'll fight him in our, we are going to fight with the front, he just went on saying we're never going to give up. Why? Because there is no plan B in that situation. You get up and fight until you win. This is what we need to understand as believers and followers of Christ. In that, every day, practice courage. Every day, recognize I should have spoken up there. Every day, it should be you know, what's wisdom in this? And as you practice these four, you will become somebody that can influence others.
Rosa Parks, an amazing black woman, who got on a bus and became famous for where they sat when they said she couldn't. Her life wasn't a one-time courageous act. She lived every day, under this tyranny. She lived every day doing the things that began to push back until freedom came and she was a part of it. And it's literally in history, because of what seemingly is a little thing. She sat in a chair, and changed history. It doesn't mean you've got to get up and fight, it doesn't mean you've got to get angry. It doesn't mean you have to have so much of an education that, no. Every day, history is written with people, I mean their blood, sweat, and tears. It's etched in eternity, by the quiet endurance of courageous people who stand up for something. Or, sit down for something. Who fight against something. Who risk, who speak up, who try, who conquered their fears. Who acted with courage. We need to understand all of us are called to live our lives with this virtue. All of us are called to get up and to speak.
What forces are there out there? That prevent us from being courageous? What makes something so prized, as courageous people so rare? Why is it so rare? When we all admire it, we all want it, we all love it. Source of cowardice is fear. And fear was never created by God in the garden. It was a part of the, an enemy. And his nature. And we need to remember that. That we are in a battle against fear. We need to study fear. We need to learn to grapple with it. Understand why it can harass you. Understand why if you don't deal with it a certain way, it will push you into inaction. Until all you can do is sit in your house and tentatively look out the door. Or roll over in bed and give it another five hours rather than get up and face anything that is ahead of you. Fear, will diminish your humanity. Fear will torment you. It will convince you that ahead is nothing but failure. It will convince you that it is all over.
Fear is a spirit, and the Bible, one of the most commonly used phrases in the Bible is, "Do not be afraid". Why is that? Well, God's being a wonderful Father. No, because He needs showing you something so crucial, it will cost you your family, it will cost you your marriage. It will cost you your finances. It will cost you your city, your province, your nation. It will cost you your way of life. What will? Fear. Not speaking up. Not being counted. Afraid of who will say what against you. Of cowards, nothing is written. We need to speak up. But do you know what's really interesting to me? When I was studying this out, in the ancient worlds, fear was not the opposite of courage. They knew they had to deal with fear, in fact the Spartans, if you understand history, some of the great movies like the 300, and they'll talk about Spartans and, the Spartans built a temple to fear. What? Why would they do that? They weren't worshipping fear, they wanted something to represent fear right in their midst, so that all their young men and that they would know you're going to deal with fear every day.
You go into an attack, you're going to deal with fear. People say something about you, should you respond, you're going to deal with fear. And they wanted this, this temple there as something that they hated and didn't want, but they wanted their young men and women to know. It will always be here. No one escapes fear. It pushes you on every ounce of your life. It will harass you on every decision you make, and people will speak about you. They'll caution you. Parents are famous for trying to, my kid's got some unreasonable dreams so we just sat him down and said, honey, you're such a beautiful little dreamer, but let's just talk. And we just destroy dreams. When what might be going on in that little boy's heart, God knows the future. And this kid's going to rise up and be a new Winston Churchill. Another Rosa Parks. Another young man or woman to do something great in our, but oh we're going to just dim him down and yeah, you gotta be reasonable. We don't want our kids to give in to the reasoning of the world they need to change.
What is the opposite of courage? Apathy. Apathy. That's slow disintegration of people standing up and speaking. That slow disintegration that causes, oh well, oh you know, I mean take a look at it, get realistic, Leon. I hear this one every day I hear this in my world. Come on, Leon, like, get realistic here. Take a look at what's going on out there. Listen. The size of the enemy, the size of the problem, the size of the storm, the viciousness of the storm, the power of what's going on, has never stopped God working through His people, if He's got to use one person. In Jeremiah 1 and 2, it is an amazing portion of scripture, I just read it early this morning. I was reading it and went, oh my. He spoke to the prophet Jeremiah, and he said to him this. The words that you speak over these lands are going to raise nations up, and it's going to destroy other nations. Really? Words. The words of that prophet, and you follow this man who began to speak.
You and I can use words. You and I can vote. You and I can love on people and help people, and get involved rather than just this kind of awkward silence, well, you know, I mean hey, I just don't want to cause any trouble. I do. If things aren't going in the direction that is good for my kids and my grandkids, I'm not having my funeral done and then doing a video ahead of time saying well, you know, when same old fights we fought, you got so to you we pass the torch. No. I want them to know, when my, when my great, great, great, great-grandkids come to my funeral, that hey. This guy did something he could do to give us freedom. To protect us, a watchman on the wall. The things that people fought for and die for and live for and freedom, not socialism, to rise up and be healthy and happy and courageous, and to do things God's called us to do. Today, every one of you receives your own call. Whether it's to service, whether it's to take a risk, whether it's to challenge the status-quo. Whether it's to run towards something that everybody else is running away from. Whether it's to rise above your existing station. To do what people say is impossible.
There's going to be such pressure to give in, any dead fish can float downstream. But if we have to go against the tide, it will take strength, wisdom. Not being apathetic. Not giving in to fear. We've got to recognize that fear never answered anything. A leader that will use fear to dominate or to get decisions out of you, is a weak leader. Because a good leader would use influence, and information. And share with people, not censorship, manipulation, and we'll give you a pizza. We've got to understand something. Let's recognize, that we are free. You can make your decisions, I can make mine. It doesn't make me in any way judge you. I'm so happy you get to make your decisions. Give me a high five, and go do what's in your heart to do. But don't tell me what you're going to make me do. We need to speak up. Inactivity increases fear. Cowards die a thousand times, the brave? They die but once. Brave is not a feeling. It's an action. It's not what you do. I mean, it is what you do in the midst of the fear. It's not just how you feel.
My challenge to you today is not taking one side or the other. People are always trying to figure out what side I'm on. I'm not on a side. I'm on the side of freedom, courage, justice, and wisdom, for you. And the decisions you make, I'll stand with you. It's your right to make them. The Bible is so clear. That, God has given us a freedom, and with that freedom, it's going to have to go virtue. That you can have courage. That you can live with temperance, the balanced way. That you'll live with justice for all, always aware. And that you'll seek wisdom. These things, will make you an influential person in every season of your life. And every genre, or whatever you're doing. This kind of a person, is a person that the Bible says from glory to glory, He's changing you. He needs you to influence. This daily virtue. This daily courage, is all all of us have to do. And as we do, the influence and the impact on the people around you is so strong.
So beautiful, so powerful. You don't need anger to stir somebody up. You don't need fear to stir somebody up. Would somebody get back to giving me a dream? A dream for your family, a dream for your city, a dream for your country, a dream for your province? That's what we used to be great at. And we've got up laughing and loving, just agreeing on a ton of stuff but conscious of one thing. It's this dream of what we want for a nation, pulled us together, from church, from religion to religion. From coast to coast. And that's my challenge to you. Let's just gain courage. Push the fear out. Get up and laugh again, tell jokes again, high five people again. Make sure that we recognize that in the midst of what we're doing, the Bible says that, that, He prepares a table before me in the presence of my enemies. What does that mean? You're partying while people are coming against you. I pray in this service today that you'd receive something from God to strengthen your inner-man. Get up, come on. It's time to live again. Your living will influence everyone around you.