Letter from David Montague

Recently we spent our family vacation in Chicago… the Cubs, the Bean, Navy Pier, 103 stories up the Sears Tower, Phase 10 in the hotel room… after a nine-hour drive through the Corn Belt.  

It was a busier than normal vacation as we tried to do all the sights in four days.  I did, however, find time to re-read Martin Luther King’s 1963 Letter from Birmingham Jail and Hebrews 11 in the same week.

So, as my best effort of a chin-lifter on the eve of Day One / Year One of the new unified school district, I submit to you a thought from my vacation readings.

Martin Luther King; Letter From Birmingham Jail

One day the South will recognize its real heroesOne day the South will know that when these disinherited children of God sat down at lunch counters they were in reality standing up for the best in the American dream and the most sacred values in our Judeo-Christian heritage, and thusly, carrying our whole nation back to those great wells of democracy which were dug deep by the Founding Fathers in the formulation of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence.”   

Hebrews 11:1, 32-38; Hebrews 12:1-3

11:1 Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.  … 32 And what more shall I say? I do not have time to tell about Gideon, Barak, Samson and Jephthah, about David  and Samuel and the prophets, 33 who through faith conquered kingdoms,administered justice, and gained what was promised; who shut the mouths of lions, 34 quenched the fury of the flames,and escaped the edge of the sword; whose weakness was turned to strength; and who became powerful in battle and routed foreign armies. 35 Women received back their dead, raised to life again.There were others who were tortured, refusing to be released so that they might gain an even better resurrection. 36 Some faced jeers and flogging,and even chains and imprisonment. 37 They were put to death by stoning;they were sawed in two; they were killed by the sword. They went about in sheepskins and goatskins,destitute, persecuted and mistreated— 38 the world was not worthy of them. …

12:1 Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us runwith perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus,the pioneerand perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross,scorning its shame,and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow wearyand lose heart.

My Thoughts for You

Great movements of God bringing His Kingdom (salvation and justice) to earth have similar characteristics:

1. They appear to be difficult and come with opposition that results in sacrifice, suffering and hardships.  The world is an enemy of God and therefore greatly opposes His rule.  These hardships are often borne by those through whom God chooses to advance His Kingdom… the prophets, the freedom fighters, and now, in the case of urban education in Memphis, you.  Expect hardship.

2. The current opposition and hardness that brings temporary setbacks or daily discouragement does not prevent God’s ultimate victory.  Do not be discouraged. Justice and peace is coming.

3. Of whom the world was not worthy…”  You are on the right side of history. We are infinitely optimistic on the worst of days.

4. The “One Day Heroes” are the thousands of nameless, faceless men and women who faithfully get up and do the right thing in the face of difficulties every single day. I counted 18 proper nouns (Abel, Abraham…) in Hebrews 11.  But think of the thousands that make up the implied list in verses 33-38.  Or, more recently, while we know of MLK, James Meredith and Rosa Parks, think of the thousands of people who marched, who sat, who were jailed, and who prayed yet whose faces and names we will never know.

The Kingdom of God advances by God’s hand through the regular, common and good work of the unnamed, unknown and unseen faithful who live in favor of God’s fame, character and His coming Kingdom on earth.

Excuse the cheese, but you are doing today the “one day” work.  You are tomorrow’s heroes that largely no one will ever know or see.  But, more valuable, you will be commended through your faith by God and will receive something far greater than all the world’s attention: Christ Himself (verse 39). 

The harvest is plentiful… as in the harvest you will receive in return for your faithful work.

God bless you all for your daily, hidden work.  It is and will be worth it.

 

Letter from David Montague

Recently we spent our family vacation in Chicago… the Cubs, the Bean, Navy Pier, 103 stories up the Sears Tower, Phase 10 in the hotel room… after a nine-hour drive through the Corn Belt.  

It was a busier than normal vacation as we tried to do all the sights in four days.  I did, however, find time to re-read Martin Luther King’s 1963 Letter from Birmingham Jail and Hebrews 11 in the same week.

So, as my best effort of a chin-lifter on the eve of Day One / Year One of the new unified school district, I submit to you a thought from my vacation readings.

Martin Luther King; Letter From Birmingham Jail

One day the South will recognize its real heroesOne day the South will know that when these disinherited children of God sat down at lunch counters they were in reality standing up for the best in the American dream and the most sacred values in our Judeo-Christian heritage, and thusly, carrying our whole nation back to those great wells of democracy which were dug deep by the Founding Fathers in the formulation of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence.”   

Hebrews 11:1, 32-38; Hebrews 12:1-3

11:1 Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.  … 32 And what more shall I say? I do not have time to tell about Gideon, Barak, Samson and Jephthah, about David  and Samuel and the prophets, 33 who through faith conquered kingdoms,administered justice, and gained what was promised; who shut the mouths of lions, 34 quenched the fury of the flames,and escaped the edge of the sword; whose weakness was turned to strength; and who became powerful in battle and routed foreign armies. 35 Women received back their dead, raised to life again.There were others who were tortured, refusing to be released so that they might gain an even better resurrection. 36 Some faced jeers and flogging,and even chains and imprisonment. 37 They were put to death by stoning;they were sawed in two; they were killed by the sword. They went about in sheepskins and goatskins,destitute, persecuted and mistreated— 38 the world was not worthy of them. …

12:1 Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us runwith perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus,the pioneerand perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross,scorning its shame,and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow wearyand lose heart.

My Thoughts for You

Great movements of God bringing His Kingdom (salvation and justice) to earth have similar characteristics:

1. They appear to be difficult and come with opposition that results in sacrifice, suffering and hardships.  The world is an enemy of God and therefore greatly opposes His rule.  These hardships are often borne by those through whom God chooses to advance His Kingdom… the prophets, the freedom fighters, and now, in the case of urban education in Memphis, you.  Expect hardship.

2. The current opposition and hardness that brings temporary setbacks or daily discouragement does not prevent God’s ultimate victory.  Do not be discouraged. Justice and peace is coming.

3. Of whom the world was not worthy…”  You are on the right side of history. We are infinitely optimistic on the worst of days.

4. The “One Day Heroes” are the thousands of nameless, faceless men and women who faithfully get up and do the right thing in the face of difficulties every single day. I counted 18 proper nouns (Abel, Abraham…) in Hebrews 11.  But think of the thousands that make up the implied list in verses 33-38.  Or, more recently, while we know of MLK, James Meredith and Rosa Parks, think of the thousands of people who marched, who sat, who were jailed, and who prayed yet whose faces and names we will never know.

The Kingdom of God advances by God’s hand through the regular, common and good work of the unnamed, unknown and unseen faithful who live in favor of God’s fame, character and His coming Kingdom on earth.

Excuse the cheese, but you are doing today the “one day” work.  You are tomorrow’s heroes that largely no one will ever know or see.  But, more valuable, you will be commended through your faith by God and will receive something far greater than all the world’s attention: Christ Himself (verse 39). 

The harvest is plentiful… as in the harvest you will receive in return for your faithful work.

God bless you all for your daily, hidden work.  It is and will be worth it.

 

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