A Time for Heroes
The word 'hero' (male) and 'heroine' (female) refers to characters (fictional or historical) that, in the face of danger and adversity or from a position of weakness, display courage and the will for self sacrifice – that is, heroism – for some greater good, originally of martial courage or excellence but extended to more general moral excellence. I'm just going to use the masculine form here for simplicity's sake but men certainly have no corner on the market. In the Old Testament history, Deborah stands out and so does Esther, who risked her life to save her people.
In preparing for this talk, I began to ask myself what is it that sets a hero or a heroine apart from the crowd? Because they do stand out, they are noticed. They often go against the flow. An excellent example of a hero, one with whom we are all familiar is young David when he took on Goliath. He stood out in stark contrast to King Saul and his older brothers and to every other soldier in the Israelite army. They were shivering in their tents waiting for something to happen, waiting for someone else to act or waiting for their inevitable defeat. But to a young shepherd boy, there was no cause for dismay, discouragement or defeat. He said "Who is this uncircumcised Phillisine, that he should be allowed to defy the armies of the Living God"
In Cambodia, in 1973, before the Khmer Rouge took over, many Christian missionaries were killed and many fled---but as they were all leaving, one couple was moving in, Todd and DeAnn Burke, who later wrote the book, Anointed for Burial. They moved in and saw God's hand move. They saw people saved and delivered from sin in spite of the devastation going on around them. Cliff Stalwick, pastor at Living Faith Renewal Centre in Caroline, Alberta used to say this: 'Any old dead fish can swim downstream, but it takes a real live one to swim upstream.'
Heroes often take stands that are unpopular in their communities or unpopular in the times in which they live. They stand out in time. William Wilberforce, the great friend of John Newton, who became the battering ram in British Parliament for the abolition of the slave trade, stood out in time. He was ahead of his time. He declared the slave trade was wrong when most MPs were still saying it was right. He took the ridicule, the scorn and the attacks. Being a hero in social change is much like simply being a Christian witness. You are making the Truth known to those for whom the Truth has been hidden.
Heroes are thermostats, not thermometers. They don't wait for society to change. They don't run away when the heat is turned up. They turn it up themselves. They set the agenda and the terms of discussion. They don't accept the limits of engagement which favour the status quo. They don't accept the definitions of their opposition. They draw the line in the sand and then they step forward. They move the agenda forward. They don't wait behind closed doors with the blankets pulled up over their heads, hoping the enemy won't find them. No, they meet the enemy in the gate. When I say enemy I am not referring to people, although there are people who will oppose our work. Our enemies are not flesh and blood but spiritual forces of wickedness---bad philosophy, greed, selfishness, complacency. Often
we will be confronting people but they are not the enemy---they are only tools. In fact they are captives of false ideology and we seek to rescue them from their oppressive captivity. We do that with the Truth.
Heroes don't test the wind before acting. They don't check the weather first. They talk with God first. Heroes are not helplessly waiting for society to change before they speak. Waiting for an opportune moment, waiting for a general revelation before showing our hand---that is simply surrender. That is accepting defeat. If change comes in our lifetime---I guarantee it will be because of a hero somewhere.
Heroes are willing to stand alone. David was willing to stand alone. Esther was willing to stand alone. Wilberforce was willing to stand alone. I tell people that if they are WILLING to stand alone, one day they won't have to. When David took down Goliath, the Israelite army rose up and pursued the Philistines. When Esther risked her life for her people, those people rose up and defended themselves. When William Wilberforce stared down the British Parliament, men and women rose up to help him in his work and he saw the Goliath of his day---the slave trade---fall before his efforts.
Heroes prepare for action. I recently heard Dutch Sheets make this point about David…he knew that taking down Goliath was a God-sized job. He knew that according to human wisdom, it was foolishness. He knew that he needed God to act on his behalf. But he still had to get the rocks! He had practiced throwing with his sling. He tried on Saul's armour and it didn't feel good. It didn't work for him but he had on the armour of God---the shield of Faith, the sword of the Spirit, the breastplate of Righteousness! He was prepared! In our struggles today, we need to be prayed up. We need to be ‘fessed up. We need to be filled up. We need to be trained up. We need to be waked up. Then when we get fed up or wound up we can jump up and do what needs to be done!
Heroes stand the test. They don't get worn down. When a great sculptor takes a chisel and begins to carve a hero, he chisels away until everything that's not a hero is gone and the hero is the only thing left standing! We are told to stand firm, to persevere, to remain faithful, to hold onto what's important.
When the Great Sculptor allows our society to be tested, to be pruned, to be refined to be purified---the men and women who do not wash away and who do not fade away, who don't allow their values to be chipped away.---they stand out and they become the heroes.
By the way, here's one for free---another nugget from Cliff Stalwick. Heroes are sincere. What does 'sincere' mean? 'Sincere' comes from the Latin and it means 'without wax'. Why is it a good thing to be without wax? Apparently, in the old days there were good sculptors and there were bad sculptors. When a bad sculptor would chisel the stone too deeply, he would cover up his mistake by filling that spot up with wax. It would look fine until the sun got on it and in the heat of the day, the wax would melt. So a good statue of a hero was 'without wax'. Well our God is a good sculptor. When he builds a hero, when he builds a man or woman of faith, He doesn't make mistakes. He wants his heroes to be without wax, to be sincere.
And heroes are generally people of faith, people driven by conviction. They don't base their decisions on the likelihood of success. They base their decisions on the rectitude of their attitude. When we're right with God, that IS success!
Heroes are willing to pay the price and often they do. If someone is not willing to pay the price, not willing to sacrifice, not willing to die, not willing to suffer…he may never take his place in the ranks of the heroes. Oftentimes the outcome of a situation is not clear until the dust has settled. Heroic deeds do not always result in fame, in name recognition or in military victory. But those who have a hero's heart and who walk in obedience to the call of God will know the recognition that comes from God alone.
I want to quickly show you a few pictures of some of my modern heroes:
- Chris Kempling the BC schoolteacher who took on the school boards and the College of Teachers to warn BC parents of the destructive changes coming to the public school system. He was suspended twice without pay, and was prepared to go to the Supreme Court of Canada but they refused to hear his case. He exposed Canada's Human Rights Tribunals before a United Nations committee.
- Pastor Stephen Boissoin of Red Deer, Alberta. He wrote a letter to the paper and has been dragged through the so-called Human Rights process. He is defending our society from degradation, he is defending freedom of speech, he is defending religious freedom. He's not done yet. He is today mustering support for an appeal.
- The University of Calgary Pro-life students. Taking on the arrogant power structures to defend both life and freedom of speech. Although they were charged with trespassing for setting up their GAP display, they remain unbowed. They will change things. They will define the debate over free speech.
- This young lady, Lia of Toronto. Her powerful pro-life speech (which she had to defend from her teachers and the judges) has been viewed nearly 600,000 times on YouTube. If 12-year olds could be elected to Parliament…she would be a candidate to follow! Scripture says 'a little child shall lead them' and 'out of the mouths of babes and sucklings, Thou hast perfected praise'. This precious little Joan of Arc has set the new standard. Any man or woman of faith should desire shoulder-to-shoulder with this young lady. She leaves you no excuse. "Lead, follow or get out of the way" comes to mind.
- In Skeena-Bulkley Valley, young Amanda Stad and her friends have just started a CHP Youth Caucus. They are raising eyebrows and awareness by their willingness to take up the CHP banner for their generation and they are heroes in my eyes!
- Many, many more. Of course, the central Hero of human history is Jesus Christ. He challenged the world, the religious hypocrites of His day and even the Devil and all the forces of hell. He paid the price and won the victory. He defines and encompasses all that HEROES represent. We can switch a few letters and HEROES becomes both the reason and the power behind our commitment---HE ROSE.
Now the title of this talk is 'A Time for Heroes'. What is it about the Time we live in that calls for heroic action? Do you remember when Mordecai was persuading Esther to step forward, he said, "God has brought you to where you are for such a time as this." You see, a hero is born for a specific purpose in a specific time. Extraordinary people may live ordinary lives in ordinary times. Like Superman, they may have their Clark Kent disguise on and the world may never know the depth of character they possess. But when war breaks out, when the culture wars erupt, when the gauntlet is thrown down, when an innocent maiden is taken captive, when God is insulted---these people are ready! They're prayed up, 'fessed up, filled up, pumped up and they come to life!
People, we do not live in ordinary times.
- One hundred thousand innocent human lives are being snuffed out every year in Canada…1.4 million in the USA.
- Marriage and the family are under attack like never before.
- Unelected judges and unaccountable Human Rights Commissions are rewriting laws and redefining Canadian values like never before and attempting to eliminate Freedom of Speech in Canada. If we lose that freedom, we cannot defend any of our other rights, including the right to life.
- Politics has become entertainment theatre. Mass public perception is based on style, not substance and the mocking voices which echo from the television seem to drown out the cries of the unborn and the warnings of the prophets
- Unrestricted media mocks the Christian worldview and defiles the innocent. Privacy, humility and innocence are treated as vestiges of a forgotten past.
- Fiscal responsibility has now been abandoned as 'politically incorrect'. Only those with an worldview anchored to the Rock will dare to espouse the notion of frugality.
As a people, as a nation, we must embrace the truth that each one of us has a role to play…we have been born for 'such a time as this'. For each one of you—before the foundation of the world, before He made the stars— God has prepared good works for you to do. We must engage the enemy, the deceiver of mankind…we must build the wall, like Nehemiah's men, with a sword in one hand and a trowel in the other. We must blow the trumpet and warn our neighbours. Only God knows what can be accomplished by your obedience. Only God knows what sacrifices you may have to make or how long a shadow you may cast. Your job and my job is to be obedient. History will define the heroes of our day. You have been born for such a time as this.