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There's a parable about an ancient philosopher who came to a city to save its people from its sins. The inhabitants of the city, who at first listened to the philosopher, gradually turned away.

One day a child asked the learned man why he went on - did he not see that his mission was hopeless? The philosopher replied, "In the beginning, I thought I could change men. If I still shout, it is only to prevent men from changing me."

Publicly (and deliberately) taking our stand for Jesus helps us make sure that we don't lose our faith when others oppose us.

That comment by Billy Graham is worth repeating: "There is something about making a public confession that seals it in your heart, confirms it to your friends, and makes it much easier to live the life you have openly proclaimed."

Bill Bright tells of the time he'd asked a leading statesman to become involved in a worldwide effort to reach out to people for Christ. He said the man turned him down:

"I don't wear my religion on my sleeve. My religion is personal and I don't want to talk about it"

Bright was appalled. He asked the man: "You are a Christian aren't you?"

He replied "Yes, but I'm not a religious fanatic."

Bright paused for a moment and then gently asked:

"Did it ever occur to you that it cost Jesus Christ His life so you could call yourself a Christian? It cost the disciples their lives too, and millions of Christian throughout the centuries have suffered or died as martyrs in order to get the message of God's love and forgiveness to you. Now do you really believe that your faith in Christ is personal and private and that shouldn't talk about it?"

The man was quiet for a moment and then said: "No sir, I'm wrong. Tell me what I can do about it."

Well Jesus tells us what we can do about it: "Whoever acknowledges me before men, I will also acknowledge him before my Father in heaven. But whoever disowns me before men, I will disown him before my Father in heaven." Matthew 10:32-33

(From a sermon by Jeff Strite, Confession Is Good For the Soul, 10/24/2010)

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