On April 20, 1999, little did Valeen “Val” Schnurr know her life would be forever changed. Two young men, by the names of Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris walked into the Columbine high school, in Littleton, Colorado, fully armed with bombs, knives and guns. As they prowled the hallways, one of the witnesses reported that they asked numerous students whether or not they believed in God. As Schnurr lay bleeding from her wounds, she cried out to God in an earnest plea to save her life. Upon hearing her cry, Harris then asked Schnurr this question. Although she had scrambled for her answer, and at first, had said “no”, she quickly changed her answer to “yes”. Schurr survived the shooting, but suffered nine soft tissue wounds to her left arm, chest and abdomen from shrapnel and bullet wounds.
We live in a world that blatantly denies the very existence of God, through both subtle and direct ways. As Christians, we find that our faith is often tested daily, whether in our workplaces or our schools. If we were asked a question similar to the one asked to Valeen Schnurr of Columbine high school that day, what would our answer be?
In Daniel 3, we see the three Hebrew boys not afraid to stand up for God, although they knew that it may cost them their lives. From this story, we see that they were not careful to answer the king, in that they did not spend an excessive amount of time, weighing the consequences. They did not waste time worrying about the outcome. Instead in faith, they believed that their Lord would deliver them. Another thing that is important to note from their response, is that they were ready to stand for the truth, even if it meant that the Lord would not deliver them (verses 17-18).
In recent headlines, we have read about Eric Walsh, who made the news due to intense criticism he has received for some of the comments made in his sermons. Eric Walsh is the former public health director of the city of Pasadena and is also the associate pastor at the Altadena Seventh-day Adventist Church. In his sermons, Walsh is not afraid to address controversial issues, such as homosexuality and evolution. This has landed him in hot water, and led to his eventual resignation from the position he held with Pasadena. A statement released by the Southern California Conference (SCC) shows them clearly distancing themselves from his views, by stating that “[he] does not hold ministerial credentials from the Adventist Church” and “does not speak on behalf of the Seventh-day Adventist denomination”. Yet, it is far from clear which of Walsh’s views contradicts the Seventh-day Adventist Church.
When you stand for the truth, you will have to face opposition. As we draw closer to the end of time, it will come to the point, where we will all have to make a decision. We can either choose to follow the misguided crowd that falls into deception, or we can choose to stand for what we know is right. What will you decide? Eric Walsh has taken his stand, and has not been afraid to speak the truth, no matter how unpopular it has been with his colleagues and traditional societal views. When we make the choice to stand on the Lord’s side, He will give us the strength and courage that we need. At times we are willing to make sacrifices for our friends and family, but not for God. We need to be willing to boldly go forward for what we believe in.
William Garrison, a prominent American abolitionist, wrote these words in the first issue of the anti-slavery newspaper The Liberator, in 1831: “Tell a man whose house is on fire to give a moderate alarm; tell him to moderately rescue his wife from the hands of the ravisher; tell the mother to gradually extricate her babe from the fire into which it has fallen; — but urge me not to use moderation in a cause like the present. I am in earnest — I will not equivocate — I will not excuse — I will not retreat a single inch — AND I WILL BE HEARD. “
This should be the spirit that is prevalent in our church today. We are living in a solemn time, and are engaged in the great warfare between good and evil. Countless people are passing to their graves, unwarned. There are unreached areas all over the world, with citizens dwelling in these nations that have never even heard the name of Christ. A video report released by Adventist Frontier Missions, makes us further aware of this fact.
Many people are actively fighting for worldly causes, at times, even giving up their lives for what they believe in. How much more should we as Seventh-day Adventist Christian youth be willing to die for the One who gave His all for us?
In Matthew 16:24-26, Jesus tells us that if we want to be followers of Him, we must “deny [ourselves], take up [our crosses], and follow [Him]. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it.”
Take Up Our Cross — Endure suffering, hardships and persecution for His sake. The world needs young people who will stop at nothing less than to actively engage in battle for our Lord, seeking to save lost souls for His kingdom. Like Queen Esther, for this cause, we must be willing to say: “…and if I perish, I perish.” (Esther 4:16).
In 203 AD, a young girl by the name of Vibia Perpetua, was one of the first earliest records of Christian martyrs in North Africa. After she was converted to the Apostolic faith, accepting Jesus as the Messiah, she began to endure hardships, the first being abandonment from her husband. She was left to raise her child alone. Under the reign of the Roman emperor Septimius Severus, it was prohibited for Christians to make converts, and to declare their faith openly. This was later enforced by the governor of Carthage, Hilarian. Perpetua herself had grown up in a pagan home, with parents that worshipped idols.
Word soon spread of Perpetua’s conversion, and she and her small congregation of five were arrested and subsequently sentenced to death. And it would come by the cruelest form. The males would be attacked by a boar, a bear and a leopard, and the females by a wild bull. This would take place in a sports arena, affording onlookers to participate in this sick joke, as they watched it all unfold before their eyes.
Perpetua later died from the attacks, and the sword (after she exhorted one of her brothers to “stand fast in the faith”).
The day before her execution, her father had pleaded with her to recant. In response, Perpetua spoke these words: “My father, you see this pitcher. Can we call it by any other name than what it is?”
The father said “No.”
She continued: “Nor can I call myself by any other name than that of a Christian.”
In the face of persecution, will you be able to say yes for God? He said yes when He sent His Son to die on the cross for you, to suffer more than any of us will ever have to suffer. How about you? Can you take a stand for Him today? My prayer is that when we are faced with the fiery furnace or seeped in the perilous pits of persecution, we will be able to stand firmly for the cause of Christ.
1. (n.d.). Retrieved from Adventist Frontier Missions: http://www.afmonline.org
2. Death of a Martyr, 203 AD. (2004). Retrieved June 18, 2014, from EyeWitness to History: http://www.eyewitnesstohistory.com/martyr.htm
3. Garrison, W. L. (1831, January 1). The Liberator: Inaugural Editorial . Retrieved June 18, 2014, from Sewanee:The University of the South: http://www.sewanee.edu/faculty/willis/Civil_War/documents/Liberator.html
4. Gold, L. (2014, May 6). Seventh-day Adventist Church: Pasadena Public Health Directo rDr. Eric Walsh Does Not Represent Church. Retrieved June 18, 2014, from Pasadena Star-News: http://www.pasadenastarnews.com/social-affairs/20140506/seventh-day-adventist-church-pasadena-public-health-director-dr-eric-walsh-does-not-represent-church
5. Musurillo, H. (1972). The Martyrdom of Saints Perpetua and Felicitas. Retrieved June 18, 2014, from PBS: FrontLine: http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/religion/maps/primary/perpetua.html
6. Salisbury, J. E. (n.d.). Perpetua. Retrieved June 19, 2014, from Encyclopaedia Britannica: http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/452499/Perpetua
7. Shepard, C. (1999, April 21). Retrieved June 18, 2014, from A Columbine Site: http://www.acolumbinesite.com
Credit: Glory belongs to God
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