Catching Character October 16, 2017

Catching Character

October 16, 2017

What are you scared of? For most of the 12 spies Moses sent to scout the Promised Land "flowing with milk and honey," it was the giants who lived there. In Numbers 13:27-32 they said, "We can't attack those people; they're way stronger than we are" (NIV 1984). Then, they spread scary rumors among the people of Israel.

Remember the result of their disobedience? They wandered in the desert for 40 years.

God has called you to go into an unknown land. What "giants" do you fear? Maybe it is the giant of isolation from friends and family, or perhaps you are afraid of the giant healthcare issues you will face without backup. For me, it was the giant of educating our children overseas and the possibility of separation if they had to go to boarding school. Maybe your giant is just the uncertainty of what God has in store and the countless challenges you will face in making your call a reality- picking a mission organization, raising your support, learning a foreign language, cultural adaptation or working in a hostile country.

I have good news! God specializes in destroying giants.

He does not call you for what He will not equip you to accomplish.

He says to you what He said to Joshua and the Israelites when they were on the brink of crossing the Jordan to finally make His promise a reality in Deuteronomy 31:1-8. "Be strong. Take courage. Don't be intimidated. Don't give them a second thought because God, your God, is striding ahead of you. He's right there with you. He won't let you down; he won't leave you" (Deuteronomy 31:7, MSG).

What is courage? The dictionary says it is, "the ability to face danger, difficulty, uncertainty or pain without being overcome by fear or being deflected from a chosen course of action."

Better than Webster, I like the "Wayne" definition. John Wayne put it this way, "Courage is being scared to death-and saddling up anyway."

Courage is not pulling yourself up by your soul's bootstraps. Your source of courage is:

  1. Knowing God has told you to go. The Holy Spirit, just like He spoke to Moses ("And God told me..." in Deuteronomy 31:1, MSG), has spoken to you. You follow His direction out of love and because of His promise. "...Do what I command so that your lives will go well" (Jeremiah 7:23, MSG). You can have confidence in His commands.
  2. Knowing God is with you. Verse 6 makes no bones about it. "God, your God, is striding ahead of you. Here's right there with you..." (Deuteronomy 31:6, MSG). You are not alone. Courage is not something you have to psych yourself up to have. You already have the most experienced, most knowledgeable and most powerful entity in the universe with you. He can handle anything.
  3. Knowing you can trust God. Note Moses said three times, God will give you the land, God will prosper you and God will give you success. God is not only capable, but He is willing to do what He promised to do. You can take Psalm 37:5 to the bank, "Commit your way to the Lord; trust Him and He will do this" (NIV 1984). You must go by faith, not feelings.

Harry Fosdick said it well: "Fear imprisons; faith liberates; fear paralyzes; faith empowers; fear disheartens; faith encourages; fear sickens; faith heals; fear makes useless; faith makes serviceable."

Dr. Haddon Robinson said it even more succinctly: "What worries you, masters you."

The measure of courage is the willingness to act. What is the next step you should take to complete the call God has put on your life?

Take it!

On a trip to Kenya a few years ago, I was driving out in the bush with my family when I saw a 10-foot long snake slithering across the sand road in front of me. There are few "good" snakes in Kenya, but many poisonous ones. I hit the accelerator determined to run over it.

The snake was not intimidated.

It stopped, reared the front third of its body and spread its broad neck. Irrationally fearing it was going to come in through a window or the floorboards, I slammed on the brakes stopping inches away from the hissing mouth of a giant king cobra. By the time I realized I was in a two-ton Land Rover facing a 20-pound snake, he had dropped to the ground, slithered under the vehicle and was gone.

That was one brave snake! When I face giants in my life, I remember I can be like that cobra with this little acronym. I can have:
C-ourage to
O-bey what He has told me to do because I
B-elieve God will do what He promised to do. I can
R-est in His abilities and our relationship. All I need to do is
A-ct and He will do the rest.

Have courage! Your giants will fall.

David Stevens, MD, MA (Ethics)

About David Stevens, MD, MA (Ethics)

Dr. David Stevens, author of Jesus, MD, Beyond Medicine and co-author of Leadership Proverbs and Servant Leadership and serves as the Chief Executive Officer of the Christian Medical & Dental Associations, a national organization of Christian healthcare professionals that seeks to change hearts in healthcare. Founded in 1931, CMDA promotes positions and addresses policies on healthcare issues; conducts overseas and domestic mission projects; coordinates a network of Christian healthcare professionals for fellowship and professional growth; sponsors student ministries in medical and dental schools; distributes educational and inspirational resources; holds marriage and family conferences; provides missionary healthcare professionals with continuing education resources and conducts academic exchange programs overseas. At CMDA, Dr. Stevens has helped develop an evangelism training program that teaches thousands of healthcare professionals how to share their faith in a healthcare setting. He was a catalyst for starting the Global Missions Healthcare Conference, trains new healthcare missionaries three times a year and annually leads a summit for executives of mission organization doing healthcare ministry. He has also helped launch a nationwide network of community-based ministries that provide on-site discipleship, fellowship and outreach opportunities for local healthcare professionals and students. As a leading spokesman for Christian healthcare professionals, Dr. Stevens has conducted thousands of media interviews, including NBC's Today Show, NBC Nightly News, BBC-World Television, Newsweek, JAMA, USA Today, CNN Sunday Morning, CNN News Site and National Public Radio. He has also appeared on FOX Family Channel, PAX-Television, Tech TV, The Odyssey Channel, America's Health Network and many other national outlets. He has written many book chapters and magazine articles. Prior to becoming a Zondervan author, he wrote a regular health column for the Promise Keepers' New Man magazine and served on the editorial board of Christian Single magazine. Dr. Stevens is also heard as host of the CMDA Healthwise Public Service Announcements, which address general health and bioethical issues and airs on radio stations nationwide. CMDA members hear him as the host of the popular Christian Doctor’s Digest audio magazine, which has featured national leaders such as Luis Lugo, Jim Cymbala, Newt Gingrich, John Stonestreet and Kay Arthur. Prior to his service with CMDA, Dr. Stevens served as director of World Medical Mission. In Somalia, Dr. Stevens led an emergency medical mission that treated 45,000 suffering Somalis in the midst of war. In the Sudan, medical teams under his leadership treated more than 25,000 villagers to stop the spread of an epidemic. Dr. Stevens has seen firsthand how meeting the physical needs of patients provides opportunities to meet their spiritual needs—by introducing them to God’s love through a relationship with Jesus Christ. From 1981 to 1991, Dr. Stevens was a missionary doctor at Tenwek Hospital in Bomet, Kenya where he served as Medical Superintendent and then Exeuctive Officer. He helped to develop Tenwek from a bush hospital to one of the most outstanding mission facilities in the world. At Tenwek, he directed a $4 million development plan, secured the installation of an $850,000 hydroelectric plant, oversaw the start of a nursing school and doubled the size of the hospital. The community healthcare and development programs he designed at Tenwek are currently reaching more than one million Kenyans and serve as an example of what medical outreach in the developing world can accomplish. Dr. Stevens’ experiences provide rich illustrations for inspirational and educational presentations at seminars, conferences and churches. His topics include missions and evangelism, spiritual commitment and growth, bioethics and other medically and spiritually related subjects. Dr. Stevens holds degrees from Asbury University and is an AOA graduate of University of Louisville School of Medicine and is board certified in family medicine. He earned a master’s degree in bioethics from Trinity International University in 2002 and served on the boards of World Gospel Mission and Asbury University. He has regularly taught at the Christian Medical & Dental Associations' educational seminars for missionary physicians and dentists in Kenya, Malaysia and other forums. He is a Fellow of the Biotechnology Policy Council of the Wilberforce Forum and helped found the National Embryo Donation Center. Dr. Stevens and his wife Jody have a son, Jason, and two daughters, Jessica and Stacy, and nine grandchildren, all of who are involved in domestic or international healthcare ministry.

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