Courage

An extended definition

Courage is a goal that many like to dream of or hope for, yet courage is not obtained by hoping or dreaming. Courage is found by thoroughly reading the Scriptures. When one reads such verses as, “Yehovah is our refuge and strength, a help in trouble soon found. Therefore we shall not fear though the earth is removed and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea,” (Psalm 46: 1+2) they cannot help but gather a special sense of strength. One of the main components of courage is strength–not always a physical strength, but more often a mental strength. It is strength in the midst of trouble–the moments that you feel weakest. That gift of strength comes straight from God, as “He gives power to the weak and to those who have no strength He increases might.” (Isaiah 40:29)

Another key component of courage is trust in Yehovah. Those who are courageous often face great dangers. How shall they march boldly toward these obstacles if they do not have trust in Yehovah? They must believe that Yehovah has the world in His hands, and that if danger leads to death, He will take their souls safely to heaven above. Some people try to get courage by trusting in something else: a false god, a false doctrine, or themselves. Such courage, no matter how honorable it may look, is a house built on shifting sand. It will soon fail and give way to fear. True courage comes from a soul who believes in righteous morals and truths, and marches into battle knowing that even if they fall, the truth of what they stood for will live on. It comes from someone who believes that he can can do all through the One who strengthens him. They have reasons to be brave. Their house is built on solid rock, and they shall not be moved, for “if Elohim is for us, who shall stand against us?” (Romans 8: 31)

Also included in our recipe for courage are the sister virtues self-denial and self-restraint. They are so closely intermingled, it is hard to distinguish the two. Self-denial denotes giving up pleasures for the sake of others, or ignoring desire; whereas, self-restraint denotes holding back emotions or fear. Either one means thinking of someone else before you think of yourself. They both are heightened and admirable forms of selflessness. A courageous person is willing to take great pains in order to relieve someone else. A courageous person has a great love in his heart for others. That love is also a gift from Yehovah, who Himself is love.

And certainly courage requires difficult work, whether it is marching into battle, telling someone that they were wrong, or simply practicing the different attributes of courage. It requires facing your fears and not letting them conquer you. It requires showing that there is something or someone that you are willing to stand up for, sweat for, or fight for. It requires not backing out on the truth. It requires persevering until the end. It requires not giving into peer-pressure or doing something simply because everyone else is doing it. It requires being different and distinguishing yourself from the crowd. Courage never comes easily, for courage means resistance to whatever rises against you. It is easier to stand back and do nothing, but the cowardly on earth are the cowardly in heaven. What crown do they have to lay before the Master of all?

For the courageous soul there is honor waiting at the end of struggle. They shall receive a crown of glory, whether it is a military victory or a simple assurance that when faced with a problem, they did the right thing. That crown shall be worth whatever hardship they faced. Paul reminds us, “For I consider that the sufferings of this time are not worthy to be compared to the glory which shall be revealed to us.” (Romans 8: 18) This verse is ever so true.

With all this in mind, let us turn to the greatest example of courage and every other noble virtue: Yeshua the Messiah. He came to earth in the strength and power of the Father. He trusted the Father implicitly and, abandoning His own desires, prayed, “Not My will but Yours be done.” (Luke 22:42) In the face of all horrifying, shameful, and undeserved suffering, He possessed absolute perfection and retained a marvelous stability of mind. He persevered through all hardship and did the Father’s work until all was finished. He gave of Himself, gave even His life, for us: the greatest gift of love ever given. He was the blameless Son of Yehovah, sent to save us and show us all how to live by the Spirit. He “saw the labor of His life and was satisfied.” (Isaiah 53: 11) He was lifted up into glory and now sits at the right hand of the Father.

So now, those who are courageous, keep up the good work! For those who still struggle to be brave, with the power of Messiah, know that you can overcome whatever enemy is looming before you. Let us all run the race of life with both courage and endurance. With our eyes upon the prize before us, let us bravely hurry to fight sin and fear. At the end of the race is a crown, a crown to lay before our blessed Savior. And if He says unto us, “Well done, good and faithful servant,”(Matthew 25: 21) may we reply in humility that we have only done that which was our duty.

I will leave you with the charge Moses gave to Joshua thousands of years ago. It is still applicable to our lives today: “Be strong and courageous. Do not fear nor be afraid by them For Yehovah your Elohim is the One going with you. He shall not leave you nor forsake you.” (Numbers 31: 6)

Passover Songs

Hello and happy Feast of Unleavened Bread! It’s Passover time again–time to remember when we were freed from slavery in Egypt and when we were freed from sin by Yeshua’s blood. This year I recounted the story by song, and I thought I’d share the lyrics I wrote.

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This first song, a duet with my sister, was about the distinction made between the Israelites and the Egyptians during the plague of flies.

Chosen Me

Yehovah, my El, all now can see
The difference so clearly
That we are precious in Your eyes
You’d fight to make us free

I’ve heard of You for many years
And I knew that You could
Save us by Your mighty arm
But I didn’t know You would

(Chorus)
That You would hear our feeble cry
And see our slavery
That You have loved and chosen us
That You have chosen me
Chosen me
Chosen me
Chosen me

Yehovah, almost all we’ve known
Are sufferings and pain
Why would You ever care for us
And know us by our names?

Why when men on earth are cruel
Would You be so gracious
That You would guard the covenant
That You  have made with us

Yehovah my El, how can it be
That You have chosen me?

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This next song is in memory of the plague of darkness–and Yehovah’s light. Scriptures referenced include: Revelation 4:8; Psalm 118:27; Lamentations 3:23; and Isaiah 9:2.

A Great Light

Hear me, oh please, Yah, hear my cry
Listen from Your great throne on high!
Why will Pharaoh not let us go?
When will these plagues end; I don’t know!

But You bring night to day
And with that hope I’ll say

Those walking in the dark
Have seen a great light
To those who sit in chains
Yah has sent a savior
He keeps His promises
Great is Your faithfulness
To us!

My hope, oh Yah, is in Your light
So long we’ve lived in darkest night
To You I cried in toil and pain
And You have acted; You shall reign!

You’ve brought Egypt to shame
And glorified Your Name

Those walking in the dark
Have seen a great light
To those who sit in chains
Yah has sent a savior
He keeps His promises
Great is Your faithfulness
To us!

Yes, Yah, I’ll wait and see
That You’ll deliver me
Whatever pain or ill
Your love is greater still!

Those walking in the dark
Have seen a great light
To those who sit in chains
Yah has sent a savior
He keeps His promises
Great is Your faithfulness

Praise be to Yehovah!
All glory and greatness!
Praise be to Yehovah!
Who shines through our darkness
He’s El, who gives us light
Removes our sins from sight

Praise be to Yehovah!
All power forever
Praise be to Yehovah!
Our wonderful Savior
Who has made us His own
Who was and is to come
Yehovah!

Special Moments

I fingered impatiently with the folds of my dark green, flower-printed dress, looked at the interesting yellow lines criss-crossing the large room’s red carpet, and waited for the youth group to begin. I definitely was not the only one waiting. Many youth were waiting and talking all around the room, either standing or sitting like I was at white plastic tables. I had never seen that many youth in one place. As I sat with my sisters at our table and delightedly watched everyone around me, I wondered what special moments Yehovah might have in store for me there.

It was a hot June day in Florida. Outside the large window at the side of the room, palm fronds waved, reminding me of where I was and making me grateful that I was inside with the air conditioning. It was not only the first day of the Revive conference, but also the first day I had ever been able to go to a youth group.

“In case you didn’t know, we are now on Messianic Standard Time, so we are going to wait, as most of the people arrive fifteen minutes late,” said the youth teacher in his especially deep and booming voice that was a little intimidating to me. During those minutes of waiting, a girl entered the open double doors behind me and with a swift, graceful move, sat in the chair beside me. She had a sweet, youthful face, a smile both adventurous and shy, and a head covering decorated with a band of beads over her light brown hair. I gathered the courage to talk to her.

“You are Gabrielle?” I said, looking sideways at her name tag.

“Yes,” she answered quietly.

“I’m Faith,” I said. “It’s nice to meet you.” I introduced my sisters to her, but other than that we did not talk much.

Later, when the youth teacher mentioned Israel, Gabrielle said that she had lived in Israel for a year. I have a special place in my heart for Israel and had been learning Hebrew for years. As soon as the youth meeting was over, Gabrielle and I got to talk about it. We saw each other many times during the conference. When we left for our homes we exchanged contact information. We were able to continue that friendship that had started from the seemingly inconsequential act of picking a seat.

As our friendship grows deeper, I marvel at how the Father knew of both of us and decided that we ought to meet and be friends. Friendship is a great blessing, and truly life-changing. It is curious to see how something that special can come from something as simple as picking a seat. It makes me wonder what other people the Father wants to put in my path, and what seemingly trivial way He might use to make us meet. We can never know when we will encounter a “divine appointment,” but Yehovah does. It was not just coincidence that guided our steps that day in June, for “the steps of a righteous man are ordered by Yehovah” and “every good and every perfect gift is from above.”

Monty’s Story

A real-life salvation allegory

Hi, I’m Montana Crow, but you can call me Monty. At this moment I am on my owner’s lap dictating everything I want to tell you today. No one knows how long this moment shall last because I’ve been on this lap for about an hour while my owner does random things I don’t understand, and coos over how cute I am. I think I’ll want to go back outside to my domain soon.

Anyway, my story begin when (can you guess?) I was born to a feral cat living in the pine woods in the spring of 2017. My litter mates and I stayed with our mother until we were ready to go off on our own. We went our different ways into the wilds of the big wide woods. As I went through life, taking care of myself and hunting whatever game I could find, I began to realize how dangerous the woods were. Some of my litter mates were killed by coyotes (a common fate for feral cats), but Yehovah protected me for a special reason.

Thus I wandered in the world–hungry, vulnerable, and lacking love. One day I came to a house and smelled some wonderful, fishy food. Despite the tiger-like cat that prowled the grounds, I managed to make it to the food bowl and scarf a little of the strange, small nuggets of food.

Then I heard a jingle. Humans! I was terrified of what the huge, strong people might do to me. With a bolt of speed I dropped off the second-story porch and charged toward the woods–a place where I felt safe.

But I was so hungry. In the following weeks I continued to visit that food bowl when I came back from my various excursions in the wild. I would eat as much food as I could before the humans came. Then I would make my characteristic dash to the woods.

One day I decided not to run away when they came out. Instead I sat on the porch and made my scared noise, “Ger-e-ow!” I thought they would fight me or chase me because I had taken food from their cats. But no. Instead, they pet me and told me I was a good cat. I was still scared, and not sure if I should trust them.

I continued to visit them when I returned from my adventures. And they continued giving me pats. I was not sure why they wanted to give me love, as no one had loved me before, but I began to enjoy the pats and the visits to their house.

Then one night I got into a terrible fight. (I won’t go into the details, as my owner doesn’t know the details, and I’d rather keep them private.) I trudged back to the house, wondering what they would think of me now that I was oozy-eyed and weak.

They welcomed me with love, giving me a blanket, food, and whatever else I needed. I eagerly responded to their love. As I recovered, I came to see them every night. They picked me up, told me I was sweet, and showed me off to those they knew.

As the months and weeks went by, the wonderful cycle of them loving me and me loving back continued. Now I can almost always be found on their back porch, which is now my back porch. They have adopted me as their own cat. They continue to pet me, feed me, and take care of my medical needs. No longer do I have to fend for myself in the dangers of the woods. I have a new life. I am now a domesticated cat that knows how to give and receive love.

I love how my owners bring me inside to cuddle on their laps, but my owners insist that I’ll never know quite how much they love me or how much their hearts melt when I purr or look at them with my so-called “adorable spark-yellow eyes.” When I bat or nip them, they don’t love me any less. They just teach me to mend my ways by sending me back to the cold outdoors. I suppose they’re right–that I’ll never know quite how much they love me–as they are humans and have a level of consciousness and feeling that is above a cat’s. But I certainly do know that I am loved. And here, with my owners, is where I want to be for the rest of my life.

My Redeemer

I don’t know why
But I’m sure You do
I don’t know how
But You’ll see me through
I don’t know when
But You will guide me
I don’t know what
But one day I’ll see

Yet I do know
That You’ll light my way
Yet I do know
You’re with me each day
Yet I do know
That You’re always true
Yet I do know
My hope is in You

You are the One
Who shields me from pain
You are the One
Who knows me by name
You are the One
Who lives inside me
You are the One
Who always shall be

I know that You
Have saved me from death
I know that You
Give me all my breath
I know that You
Can wash away fear
I know that You
Are always so near

With You I can go
And tell of Your Son
With You I can go
Help Your kingdom come
With You I can stand
Through trial and war
With You I can do
What You made me for

Through You I’m victor
In weakness I’m strong
Through You I’m cheerful
For You are my song
Through you I am blessed
I’m peaceful; I’m free
Through You I am light
For You shine in me

In You I can run
And jump over walls
In You I can trust
You, Yah , hear my calls
In You I can stand
And proudly proclaim
“My Redeemer lives,
And blessed be His Name.”

My Grace is Sufficient For Thee

Right now I feel just fine
But what if shadows fall?
What if the darkness deepens
And I can’t see at all?

Right now all things are well
But what if I meet grief?
What if my life brings sorrows
And I long for relief?

Then, Yah, You’d light my path
Then I would trust in You
Then You would care for me
Then You would see me through

Then I would truly learn
What leaning on You means
I’d truly get to say
“Yehovah my soul leads”

You’d lead me to Your pastures
To Your still waters sweet
You will never forsake me
Whatever grief I meet

You would restore me being
You’d guide me to Your path
For comfort’s not from pleasure
But from Your rod and staff

I would truly love You
And cling with all I’ve got
You’d truly be my hope
My portion and my lot

Then I would see each day
That Your great love boundless
Is why I’m not consumed
Great is Your faithfulness!

You are my Good Shepherd
With You I will not fear
The Vale of the Shadow of Death
Is harmless when You’re near

Oh Yah, You truly love me
And if I counter pain
Although it won’t be easy
You’ll use it for my gain

Your power shows in weakness
In pain Your will You do
So in the deepest darkness
Please help me shine for You!

Whatever trial comes
Your love will cover me
Then I’d truly know
“My grace is sufficient for thee”

Music

I think it is about time that I spend a moment on another passion of mine, one even stronger than my passion for writing: music. My attraction to music has been evident ever since I was little. I can remember as a child how much I enjoyed it when Dad or Mom would turn on a song. When my two older sisters Joy and Amy Grace would play the piano, I would listen with keen interest and wonder how they always knew, usually without looking at a music book, how to play so beautifully.

My sister Joy started giving me piano lessons when I was ten. She was a patient, excellent teacher and nurtured my interest in music. Through many hard hours of practice, joy and tears, my love for music slowly unfurled its vibrant colors. Now, five years later, it is stronger than ever. Pressing the pedal, hitting the keys, and hearing the wonderful orchestra of frequencies known as a song all give me a special thrill. Now I, just like my sisters, can play many songs without looking at a music book. In fact, now I think can I play much better without one.

Determined little me working on a song not long after I’d first started lessons

Then, a few months ago, I realized how much I enjoyed hearing the strains of the violin. When I borrowed my sister-in-law’s violin, I was captured by its beautiful sound. There was no stopping my passion now. Thus my mom took me to the Howard Core wholesale operation near us and I bought my prized violin. Her name is Zimrah, which is the Hebrew word for music. Few words can accurately express my joy to have her. My Mom quickly arranged for me to take lessons. My new teacher has been fabulous. At our first lesson she taught me everything about the violin: the fingerboard, where you press down on the strings; the end button, a small black button at the bottom of the violin; the tail piece, the piece where the strings go into the violin; the nut, a small piece at the top of the fingerboard; the scroll, where the tuning pegs are attached; and even the purfling, the small lines edging the violin. She even explained that the top of the violin is made of pine or spruce and that the bottom is made of strong maple. She is obviously a very thorough teacher and pushes straight for perfection. I am a perfectionist, so I enjoy her very much. Lessons have been such a delight, as have practices. The joy from bowing, the pleased feeling from holding my hands correctly, and the brilliant, vibrating sounds from the violin make me excited to learn more.

My very loved violin, Zimrah

I also enjoy listening to music. My favorite songs are Hebrew songs, especially those in KSM Israel’s “Praise to Our God 4” and “Praise to our God 5.” They are so beautiful. Unlike most of the Hebrew songs that I have heard all my life, these albums are performed live in concert by believers in Yeshua Messiah. As for English songs, I enjoy some contemporary and older Christian tunes. And I love old hymns, including “Leaning on the Everlasting Arms,” “He Brought Me Out,” “We’re Marching to Zion,” and any hymns by Fanny Crosby. I also love the newer hymns, “Come, Behold the Wondrous Mystery” and “In Christ Alone.” Basically, I love any meaningful song about Yehovah and Yeshua.

Music is to me like an exhibition of what life is–happy notes, sad notes, vibrancy, tremors, and beauty. I say that I am not an extrovert or an introvert, but a “musicovert.” Yes, I made that word up. But it is true; I can handle being around people for a long time or being alone for a long time if I have music. Also, music helps me commune with my Father above. Not much can touch my heart the way music does, and I can’t wait for the day when I will sing unending songs of praise with all the redeemed in heaven.

“My heart is steadfast, Elohim. I will sing and make music , even my honor. Awake the lute and harp! I awake dawn. I thank you among the peoples, Yehovah. I will make music to you among the nations. For great above the heavens is Your compassion and as far as the clouds is Your truth.”
~Psalm 108: 1-4

The Loving Father

Oh, a child will not fear
When he knows his Father’s near
If that child ever cries
Father hurries to his side

When the child learns to stand
Father takes him by the hand
Father teaches him to walk
How to jump, to wait, to talk

The young one knows not where he’ll go
But he’s sure his Father knows
The Father is the one, you see
The child trusts implicitly

Father tells him where to go
Tells him all that he should know
He hears His child when he calls
Picks him up whenever he falls

When the child asks for fish
Father gives him what’s his wish
The Father will give him good gifts
He’d not give him stones or sticks

He makes sure his child knows
That he loves him wherever he goes
And though the Father disciplines
He’s eager to forgive all sins

Yah is our Heavenly Father
With love more than any other
Yah’s children are all those, you see
Who trust in Him implicitly

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“I taught Ephraim to walk, taking them by their arms…” –Hosea 11:3

“But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of Elohim, to those believing in His name.” –John 1: 12

“Behold what great love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of Elohim!…” –1 John 3:1

The Servant King

Psst…this is free verse; don’t expect it to rhyme.

He loved us even when we forsook Him
The King of Kings became lower than all
He gave up His glory for flesh
So we can give up our flesh for glory

He the One Righteous died for all wrong
He became cursed so we could be blessed
He gave up His Spirit so that we could receive Him
And by His stripes we all are healed

Because mankind fell, He was raised on the cross
He became sin so we could be pure
He became weak so we could be strong
He came from the Father so we could go to Him

He took our troubles so we could have peace
He knew our grief so we could have joy
He carried our burdens upon that cross
So we could lay all our burdens down

He brought us from darkness into light
From slavery to blessed freedom
Once without mercy, now having mercy
Not His people, now the people of Yah

He gives wisdom to the fools
He takes our sorrow, gives us joy
Our struggles He will make a victory
And gives us beauty for our dust

We were once orphans, now his children
Once full of grief, now ever rejoicing
Once without hope, without salvation
Now we have hope in Yeshua, our Savior

Once far from Father, but now very close
Once sinful, but now He’s our righteousness
When we die with Him, then we live
He died for me, now I live for Him

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-Scripture References-

Isaiah 53:4+5; 61:3
Jeremiah 33:16
Hosea 1:6+10; 2:1
John 3:14; 19:30
Romans 6:6+7
2 Corinthians 6:10
Galatians 3:13
Ephesians 2: 12, 13, 17, 18+22
1 Peter 2:9
1 John 4:10
Revelation 19:16

The Song of Courage

I’m marching into battle
But I am not afraid
I know I have to do this
And for this I was made

I’ll march through any forest
To deserts I will go
Yah’s given me a calling
That I surely know

I’ll fight against the enemy
No foe will hold me down
I’ll stand upon my watch post
I’ll bravely hold my ground

Yehovah is my stronghold
He trains my hands for war
Why should I fear the battle?
It’s what He made me for

Why should I ever fear
The taunting enemy?
Yah who made the heavens
His Spirit lives in me!

A thousand fall at my right
Ten thousand at my left
But it will not come near me
Yehovah’s my strong cleft

Therefore I will not fear
Though mountains crumble down
Though ocean waves keep swelling
Yah is my joy and crown

The One who made the blind see
Has given me His Light
The One who made the lame walk
Has sent me to this fight

The world may cry in fear
But no, I say, not I
Yah is watching o’er me
The apple of His eye

Yah’s my help and shield
He saves me from Sheol
So forward, upward, onward
I’m marching to the goal

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What then shall we say to these things? If Elohim is for us, who shall stand against us? ~Romans 8:31

-Scripture References-

Deuteronomy 32:10
Psalm 18:34, 33:20, 46:1-3, 91:7+9