The Bible’s Definition of Courage
About the Guest
- Karis Kimmel Murray explains that grace is giving something not necessarily deserved. Just like God, who often gives us what we need over what we like, parents are tasked with extending grace to their children. (3 part series, 25 min. each) https://www.familylife.com/podcast/series/grace-based-discipline/
- Former educator Stephen Williams talks about his journey to faith. Now 16 years after embracing Christianity, Williams challenges parents to be proactive and exercise their faith in the public school system in order to be salt and light to the next generation. (2 part series, 25 min. each) https://www.familylife.com/podcast/series/navigating-public-schools/
Courage can be cultivated in our everyday decisions. Barbara Rainey, Karis Kimmel Murray, Tim and Darcy Kimmel, and Stephen Williams give give definitions of courage and stories of courageous decisions.
Michelle: Ladies, have you ever considered one of the callings God has on your life?—you know, the verse, “Fear not for I am with you.” Here's Karis Kimmel Murray.
Karis: Courage, especially in women, I think is so powerful. It's sort of expected in men, and it's not always expected in women. That is a calling on our life, as believers, that we ought to not be afraid—says it all over the Bible: “Don't be afraid.” It doesn't mean we don't feel fear, but it means we don't let fear rule us and act out of our fears.
Michelle: Ladies, and you men too, we're going to talk about an essential mark in our spiritual life—courage—on this edition of FamilyLife This Week.
Welcome to FamilyLife This Week. I'm Michelle Hill. You’ve been around an inquisitive seven-year-old; right? I mean, they ask questions non-stop: “Why?” “Why?” “Why?” “Why?” I'm looking at my production coordinator, Megan Martin. She's laughing and nodding her head because her seven-year-old, Abby Grace—well, she is a walking, talking, “Why?”
Have you ever thought about the art of asking good questions? Questions are about acquiring knowledge/discovering answers. They can begin a relationship; they’re for strengthening relationships, or solving a problem, or starting a conversation. Sometimes, it's about getting to know the other person.
Well, if you know Dennis Rainey at all, or you've listened to FamilyLife Today®, you know that there's a signature question that he likes to ask a lot of people. Here's Bob Lepine and Barbara Rainey talking about that specific question.
[Previous FamilyLife Today Interview]
Bob: At dinner, what’s the question anybody around the table’s going to get asked?
Barbara: He loves to ask the question, “What is the most courageous thing you have ever done?” It is a difficult question to answer, although it's fascinating. There are some people who know instantly what the answer to the question is, and they're often really ready to share it because they know so quickly what the answer to it is. But there are others who sit at the table, and they ponder and they think. A frequent comment is, “Oh, I've never done anything courageous in my whole life.”
Dennis always pushes back and say: “No that's not an answer. I'll bet there’s something that you've done that's courageous.” After they think about it for a while, and listened to some of the other answers, they’ll come up with something. We've heard some amazing stories.
Bob: Here's my question: “Most of the time, when you're at a table, and everybody goes around and they share—by the time the meal is over, at least, a few people and usually Dennis—they haven't had a chance to share their story; have they? I mean, have you heard him share the most courageous thing he’s ever done?
Barbara: Yes, sure!
Bob: Because all my friends from last Saturday night said, “We never got to hear Dennis’s most courageous thing.”
Dennis: Did they rat on me?!
Bob: Yes, they did. [Laughter] I want to know: “Where did you come up with that question in the first place? What made you even think of it?”
Dennis: I'm not sure, but it's been—you know, truthfully, someday I may end up writing a book of people's answers to this question; because you really don't hear the kind of answers that you think you'd hear.
I've had the standard answer of the former governor of the state of Arkansas, not Mike Huckabee, but his name was Frank White. His most courageous thing was flying in a plane that was riddled with bullets. I can't remember what war, maybe it was the Korean War; but he flew that thing back, crippled, and arrived and landed safely.
I remember I had a guy who said he walked into an apartment, where there was a guy with a gun, holding everyone up; and the guy attacked him! He said: “I didn't even think. I did just what was instinctive.”
I've heard other things that occurred on battlefields—and you’d think that's what you would get—but the most frequent thing that someone says has to do with being courageous around their parents—doing something in response to taking a stand—being a man, standing up to his father, and saying: “No Dad, I'm not going to do that. I'm going to be my own man.” Or a young lady to her mother or to her father. It's really fascinating. Relationships in life demand a lot of courage, because courage isn't the absence of fear; it's doing something in the face of fear.
Barbara: Well, I think families need to talk about courage. I think our children are faced with situations at school, all the time, that demand that they take a courageous stand, whether it's standing up to a bully on the playground or refusing to give in to peer pressure as a teenager. Our kids are facing lots of situations as they grow up, where they need to exhibit courage of one kind or another.
I think it's a topic we don't think to talk about a lot with our kids. We talk about doing what's right; we talk about telling the truth; but we don't really put it in the context of that being a courageous decision or a courageous action. I think by focusing on it that way it really helps to crystallize why it's important/why we need to be courageous. As believers, we have things that we stand for; there are principles that we hold true, and we need to learn how to stand up for them. I think moms and dads need to talk to their kids about why it's important to be courageous in their everyday world.
Michelle: That's Barbara Rainey talking about courage.
You know, another great thing about questions, like Dennis’s question, “What's the most courageous thing you've ever done?” is that questions can inspire and really make us start thinking and looking inside of ourselves as to who we are.
Barbara’s written a devotional on courage, and I love what she says on courage. She says: “Courage may be easy to define, but it usually comes into our lives through hard choices. When facing an unpredictable situation, the decision must be made to do the right thing or the easy thing; to sacrifice for others or to be selfish; to act in faith or to give in to our feelings.” Isn't that great?!
Here's the thing—I don't know about you—but courage feels like it belongs to those superhuman types: like the firefighters, and the nurses, and the soldiers. We know that courage is doing your duty in the face of fear—that's what Dennis Rainey says all the time. For one person, courage may look like being shot at on a battlefield or maybe it's surviving cancer. Courage can look different for different people because we're all on different journeys; right? Many people are being courageous just by putting one foot in front of the other and doing the next right thing.
Karis Kimmel Murray—and you might recognize that name, “Kimmel”—after all, she is the daughter of Tim and Darcy Kimmel, who are great friends of ours, here at FamilyLife®. Well, Karis talks about courage and what it should look like for women—and it's not about being afraid—it's about trusting God.
[Previous FamilyLife Today Interview]
Karis: Courage, especially in women, is so powerful. It's sort of expected in men, and it's not always expected in women—that they act courageously. That is a calling on our life, as believers, that we ought to not be afraid—it says it all over the Bible, “Don't be afraid.” It doesn't mean we don't feel fear; it means we don't let fear rule us and act out of our fears.
I'll also say a big moment, where I had to just draw on courage and not be afraid, was my husband was in the hospital for about a month-and-a-half—this has been years now—he was very sick. There were a couple of nights—he was going to bed; I was holding him in his hospital bed, wondering if he would wake up in the morning—not being sure.
During that time, the recession had hit; and his business was suffering tremendously. We had gone “all in” on it; so I knew we were headed for a financial unraveling, personally; we would probably lose our house. I was just gripping onto the fragments of our life, especially to the things that looked good on the outside: “I’m the minister’s daughter. I should have it all together; I need to look like I’m living out this gracious legacy that I’ve been given,”—I put that pressure on myself.
Going through these very visible struggles—which losing your house is a visible struggle—I was just like: “I am going to work through this. We’re going to make this happen; we’re going to make it right. We're going to pull ourselves up by our bootstraps.”
God kept saying to me: “Be still,” “Be still.” That verse just would echo through my mind: “Be still and know that I am God.” I am like: “Lord, be still? You want me to just stand still and do nothing?”—like: “That is not who I am. You made me; You didn't make me to do nothing in the face of this kind of stuff.”
Finally, I understood that “be still”—the Hebrew word is raphah, which means “to make fall” or “to let go.” I realized what the Lord was telling me is: “Raphah—let it fall because it's going to. You can keep clinging, or you can let it all fall,” and “In my love, and in My favor, and in My grace for you, let Me rebuild it in you.”
There was a moment, where I picked up my cell phone and I called my husband. I just said: “I'm not afraid anymore. I'm not afraid to face whatever is coming. I'm not ashamed. We're just going to join hands. Our family is a family that loves each other, no matter where we live. Let's move forward.” That was a hard time for a lot of people that period of time.
I just had to let go of expectations I'd put on myself—of image/of sort of a facade that I—at least, in my mind, thought that I had built and people's perception of me—and just say: “Lord, take whatever You're going to take. I’m letting it fall out of my hands, and You're going to be there with me.” And then those years of rebuilding were just sort of weathering that period of time with our business and our home; I mean, it was the closest I've ever felt to the Lord.
Michelle: Karis Kimmel Murray. Did you catch that?—that in the midst of her trial, she felt like God saying, “Be still.” Can you imagine the courage it took not to take things into her own hands but to say, “Okay God, I’ll wait on you”? It's a powerful story from Karis Kimmel Murray.
Actually, Karis Kimmel Murray was in the studio with Dennis and Bob, not too long ago, talking about her book, Grace-Based Discipline. It's a great interview. Go to FamilyLifeThisWeek.com; we have a link there.
I don't know about you, but I need a break. I need to get up and stretch my legs a little bit—maybe practicing some courage—you know, resisting those donuts and that third, fourth, fifth, sixth cup of coffee.
I’m going to share with you a neat story about the origin of Karis’s courage. It’s a unique story that you’ll want to hear in two minutes. Stay tuned.
[Radio Station Spot Break]
Welcome back to FamilyLife This Week. I'm Michelle Hill. You know, in the Bible, during the Old Testament times, Joshua—you remember him?—well, he needed courage; so God said to him, “Have I not commanded you ‘Be strong and courageous’? Do not be frightened and do not be dismayed for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.” God is with us—just sit and ruminate on that a bit: “God is with us.”
You remember Karis Kimmel Murray from just before the break? Well, she got her courage from her parents, Tim and Darcy Kimmel. The Kimmel’s are Weekend To Remember® speakers. They're all about building grace-filled relationships.
I looked into the FamilyLife Today audio vault and, back when Karis was only about 12 years old, Bob and Dennis sat down with her parents. Tim and Darcy talk about how they built courage into their children's lives. Here's Darcy.
[Previous FamilyLife Today Broadcast]
Darcy: In our home, we have a medal of courage—it is an actual medal. Some friends of ours from San Antonio are doing this in their home too.
Tim: We bought it in a Army/Navy surplus store—just went in—they have all kinds of retired medals.
Dennis: No kidding?
Tim: Some of them are just absolutely beautiful. We went and picked out one we thought would be good.
Dennis: So it's a literal medal of courage?
Darcy: It is a literal medal of courage.
Tim: We call it the “medal of courage”; it's for honor, but—
Darcy: It's displayed in our breakfast room, which is where we spend most of our time eating. When one of the children performs a courageous act—now, it doesn't have to be saving someone from the grips of a semi-truck or something like that—it can be turning their back on sin; it can be standing up for your sister.
Dennis: Can you think of other situations, where you have given the medal of courage?
Tim: Well, like our oldest daughter was getting hammered at school about—she has not surrendered her virginity. Now, keep in mind, she's only 12; but the pressure that's on them in the schools today is unbelievable. Probably a lot of the girls that are talking have not surrendered yet either; they're just talking. But regardless, the pressure is already there. She shared with this one group of girls that were giving her a hard time—she said, “You know, I can become what you are any day of the week. You can never become what I am.” Well that's a tenacious—
Tim: —move. At the same time, she did not follow that statement up with a rejection of them, but with a hope for them—that they don't have to throw their life away. Those are the things that you have to catch.
You know, for courage to be a part of a kid’s life, I think we first have to make sure that it's part of the curriculum of our parenting program in our home. You see, it's not enough to hope that it happens; we have to be deliberate—that we use the word, “courage,” around the house/that we talk with them that: “One of the things you need to be, when you leave here, is courageous.”
We pray for them at night: “Lord, make this person a courageous dad someday,” or “…a courageous woman. Don't let this woman let herself be defined by the world’s system; but let her take her cues from You as a courageous woman.”
When they hear that—well, that's what they do when you’re in the Marine Corps. They take all your civilian clothes; put them in a box; hand you a uniform; and they call you “Private” or whatever; and they say, “Listen, you're going to be courageous when you leave here. You must be courageous; you are a Marine.” It's part of their curriculum.
Dennis: Have you ever failed on a test of courage?
Tim: What, today?! [Laughter]
Dennis: Share with us one fail.
Tim: One time I bought a stereo system for our home. While I was there, sitting on the floor, working through the thing/trying to put it together, I turned around. Our youngest daughter was holding up one of the components by a wire on the back—just standing there, holding it up, you know? [Laughter] Of course, I panicked—I grabbed this thing from her. Then, of course, I gave her the mother of all lectures, which I felt she needed. [Laughter]
Dennis: How old was she?
Darcy: She was four.
Tim: Four. Then I hooked it up, and it didn't work! Well, then, I came back at her—I was really frustrated and angry. Well, she felt so bad; then she went back and Darcy, ultimately, put her to bed.
I had this thing sitting here. I'm just reading the directions; and about 10:30 that night, I noticed a button in—not the thing she had but another component—it said “mute.” It was in; and I pulled it out, and I got music.
I realized there was nothing wrong with the machine; I just had the mute button on, and I didn't know it! I felt so bad. I went right into the room/racing into the room to see if she was awake. Well, of course, she had long since gone to sleep. I had restless sleep all night, and I felt so bad. The first thing I did—I was up before she was—I was waiting there for her to open her eyes and to beg her forgiveness for being such a mean father and an insensitive father. I told her she didn't do anything wrong and “I am so sorry.” Yes, we lose it; we lose it—I do!
The key I think is, when we lose it, that we come back and close the loop on that one. If we’d left that open-ended, that could have been something that would have been one of those things that she never forgot about—Dad being insensitive. I think all of us parents fall short.
Bob: If your kids are going to be courageous, like you want them to be, they're going to wind up being outcasts. That's hard for parents to want for their kids.
Tim: Yes; well, you see—I think that, when we build convictions into our children, we’re setting them up for rejection. Now think about it—a conviction—I define a conviction as “What you're willing to die for.” Now, I don't think we should have a long list of convictions, but I think we should have some. The problem with America today is that they don't have any. It's like these guys in the Titanic—they don't have anything worth dying for. You see, until we have something worth dying for, we don't have anything worth living for.
Well, get this—when you have convictions in your heart—things that are non negotiable—then they are based on truth and, ultimately, they lead to a reputation. People that have great convictions are loved by some of the people and hated by the others. You have to have courage to not acquiesce to that pressure.
Michelle: That's Tim and Darcy Kimmel. Did you catch that last sentence that Tim was talking about?—convictions: “If you have strong convictions, you're going to be loved by some and hated by others.” You know, that was true of Jesus. He was loved by some and hated by others. He was full of grace but he was also full of truth; He didn't back down.
Speaking of not backing down, you may have heard FamilyLife Today a couple of weeks ago. Stephen Williams talked with Dennis Rainey and Bob Lepine about his experience as a public school teacher. Stephen is the director of Prepare the Way Ministry. He and his wife Sarah live in Bend, Oregon. He is the graduate of UC Berkeley; and as a public school teacher, he took a stand.
[Previous FamilyLife Today Broadcast]
Stephen: When I was teaching, I loved teaching U.S. history, using primary source documents—Sam Adams; William Penn. Whenever we were talking about/studying about Pennsylvania—the founder of Pennsylvania, William Penn, wrote a document called “The Frame Of Government.” In this document, he quotes Roman 13; he does a little exegesis on it.
I'm teaching history, using these documents; and all of a sudden, the school, in 2002-2003 school year, start censoring them, saying they violate the separation of church and state. I said: “Wait a second. This isn't my opinion; this is the actual documents.” I called Alliance Defending Freedom and said, “Can they do that?” They said, “No.”
Through this court case, we had some parent groups get so angry at me—started to label me: “Oh, that crazy evangelical Christian.” The group formed, called “We the Parents.” In this group—Alliance Defending Freedom joined this group. They got some communications on this Yahoo group that basically said, “Well, Williams and ADF are lying,”—supposedly about the Cupertino District—“and its lowering our property values,”—literally, one of the things they said. [Laughter] “So let's start our own publicity campaign to defame Williams and get him booted out.” All of a sudden, Sarah saw the anger, and the intensity, and the hatred towards me in that situation.
One afternoon, an Alliance Defending Freedom lawyer called me—said: “Hey, we want to make you aware of some disturbing correspondence. There's been some parents, who have said, ‘Well if we just find somebody who's willing to say that Stephen punched me, or touched me here, or whatever, we can get him arrested and thrown out,’”—and they tell me that.
Can I tell you?—fear gripped me to the core. I thought: “What?! I'm in over my head!” Man, I went home, talked to Sarah about this. Sarah was like, “Get out!” Maggie was an infant; she was pregnant with Elizabeth. Anyway, we prayed on our knees; and I literally cried out to the Lord.
The next day, I go into school. This room mom—she comes in and she says, “Stephen, my mom gets Scripture for people; and last night, she got all these Scriptures for you.” I'm on my knees, crying out to the Lord, saying, “Lord, what am I going to do with this court case?” She wrote down all these Scriptures, and I just felt led to read them right away.
I start reading. It was all out of Isaiah 41 and some other places in the Old Testament. Here is what I start reading—it says this, “You are my servant; I have chosen you and not cast you off. Fear not for I am with you. Do not look around in terror and be dismayed for I am your God. I am the Lord, who will strengthen you and harden you to difficulties. Yes, I will help you and hold you up and retain you with My victorious right hand of rightness and justice.”
I literally started to weep, right there, because I thought, “Well, I'm out of this case,”—the fear—and at that moment, fear just completely left me. I just knew the Lord had my back. I mean, how could this woman—totally not knowing what we were doing that night—get these exact Scriptures?
Man, I came back and just felt back on fire for the Lord. The last sentence was: “I am the Lord who says to you, ‘Fear not. I am with you.’” I think that's a huge issue for teachers/for parents—fear can grip us. When we’re led by the Lord, we don't have anything to fear; because He’s got our back.
Michelle: Stephen Williams with a powerful reminder that God has got our back. Remember, from that passage in Isaiah 41, God says: “Fear not for I am with you. You are My servant, and I have chosen you.” If He’s chosen you for whatever you're facing right now, it requires courage and He’s got your back. I hope that's as encouraging to you as it is to me.
Next week, we're going to hear from Christian music recording artist, Jenny Owens. She's going to share what life was like for her parents, raising a blind and fearless daughter. We're also going to hear from a few other parents of special needs children. They're going to share the joy and also the challenges. I hope you'll join us for that.
Our program is a production of FamilyLife Today in Little Rock, Arkansas, and our mission is to effectively develop godly families who change the world one home at a time.
I'm Michelle Hill, inviting you to join us again next time for another edition of FamilyLife This Week.
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