Reverend Dr. William H. Curtis

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Staying Steady

Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.
1 Corinthians 15:58 (NKJV)

One of the key lessons of the Christian life is learning to live steady.

Praying with patience, asking for endurance, disciplined for the long haul, resilient and defiant, hopeful, trusting, faithful, and determined—we must learn to live steady.

Our focus should not be on attempting everything with speed and strength, but with steadiness. Not everything fast, but attempt everything faithful.

This is the discipline that we have to nurture because we are all in the race of life and no one is exempt from it. It’s not strength that determines the quality of our finish. It’s not speed either. Both of those things can be halted, hindered, or hampered.

But I tell you, it is hard to still the steps or destroy the vision of a child of God who is determined to stay steady even if the ground shakes beneath them or the enemy tries to block them. It’s hard to defeat a determined disciple when endurance is the offering they bring to their human pursuits.

There’s something about the commitment to living steady that helps us to cross the bridge that separates our plans from God’s providence. You will make more progress. You will accomplish more. You will achieve more. You will become what is more enriched and vibrant and complete and robust.

I’m not denying that it’s possible to nurture strength and develop speed, but staying steady is the crucial component for finishing well:

  • Waking up every day to honor your spiritual gifts and to glorify your sovereign God.
  • Treating people with grace and mercy in your everyday exchanges.
  • Not being so quick to become angry or easily pushed to a place of wrath.
  • Speaking the truth in love.
  • Taming the spiritual tongue.
  • Leaning on empathy and compassion.
  • Trusting God with all your heart.
  • Forgiving others because you can’t forget that you are forgiven.
  • Opening doors for people because every door you open for them pushes you into the next tier of opportunity and potential.

We all have learned that speed and strength and wisdom and cleverness and skill can help, but they don’t guarantee success. The secret lies in staying steady.

He Is Risen!

By his power God raised the Lord from the dead, and he will raise us also.
1 Corinthians 6:14 (NIV)

From Friday afternoon at 3:00 PM until early Sunday morning, Jesus's body lay in the tomb of Joseph of Arimathea just outside the walls of Jerusalem. Many had concluded, no doubt, that the ministry of Jesus had now ended. The movement was over. The leader was never to return. All the spiritual and social progress He made was now in jeopardy.

But early Sunday morning, there was an earthquake, just as there had been on Friday when Jesus died. The stone was rolled away from the mouth of the tomb. Jesus, having folded neatly the linen coverings that were draped over His body and His face, triumphantly emerged from the tomb.

Two angels were stationed at the tomb as witnesses and messengers. This was especially and specifically important since those that had ordered Jesus's death would respond to the report of His rising by spreading false reports. They would say that the disciples slipped into the tomb and stole the body of Jesus. Opposing leaders of our Lord would supervise these lies because they didn't want to deal with the reality that Jesus was and is exactly who the prophets said: the Son of God—and now the resurrected Lord.

Those two angels spoke to the women who had come to the tomb to minister to Jesus's body, and when they arrived, this was said to them, “Why are you looking for the living among the dead? He is not here. He is risen, just like He said He would. Go and tell His disciples that He's alive. He intends to meet them in Galilee.”

The resurrection of Jesus is the cornerstone of our faith. Everything in your life must be filtered, sifted, strained, and interpreted based on this monumental event.

The resurrection changes everything!



A Certain Kind of King

“See, your king comes to you, gentle and riding on a donkey, and on a colt, the foal of a donkey.”
Matthew 21:5 (NIV)

Presentation is everything. Leaders know this and they painstakingly sift their decisions regarding their presentations to ensure that people don’t misconstrue their intent.

This is why Jesus chose to ride into the city of Jerusalem in a certain way. He was displaying His priorities for them—and for us—in the particular presentation He offered on that day while crowds waved palm branches and shouted their festive hosannas.

It’s not what Jesus says when He rides into the city that clearly defines His motivations and His intent. It’s how He rides into the city that makes the difference.

Jesus chose a donkey, and He did so for one reason. With no weapon in hand and no army in tow, Jesus on a donkey means but one thing, and it cannot be ignored. It is the placement and the priority of peace in our lives.

The deliberate and specific choice Jesus made implies His intentions: I want it known, I want it discerned, and I want it clearly understood that I have come to set humanity at peace with God, extending forgiveness for sin and settling humanity’s debt in full.

Jesus prioritized peace. Living at peace with God settles so much of the inner condition of a person’s life. It helps one to live at peace with themselves. You cannot be at peace with yourself until you’re at peace with your Creator. There’s no need to be jealous or envious of the possessions or the gifts or the talents or the graces or the favor or the access or the opportunity that has been given to another person’s life when you are at peace with God.

Jesus knew, on that first Palm Sunday, how important it was for Him to present Himself as a certain kind of King to the people: a King that makes our peace His highest priority.

Here’s what Jesus says to us today: “I am the King who wants you to live at peace with God so you can live at peace with yourself, and so you can live at peace with other people.”





Sacred Attentiveness

See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil.
Ephesians 5:15-16 (NKJV)

God is doing things with respect to your life that you can only respond to in faith.

He is doing things outside of your intellectual embrace, outside of your capacity to see it or to emotionalize it. God is doing things in secret and the only response that is appropriate as an offering to Him when you can't figure it out is to have faith. 

Some things can't be revealed to us early. Some things can't be revealed to us completely. And the reason is because the offering God expects at times is to trust in Him even when we are working with an incomplete map.

Sometimes, God's plans transcend our expectations. The question is, will you endure for Him when He is pushing you beyond the border of your strength?

You have to accept that God is working at times, not within, but outside of our intelligent anticipations. And this calls for sacred attentiveness—learning to pay attention to more than you see and more than you feel.

There have been times when your sight has betrayed you. And there have been times when your emotionality made decisions based on errant data. That’s why we must learn to cultivate sacred attentiveness—because sight and feelings aren’t enough. We must walk in faith as well.





No More Violence

With that, one of Jesus’ companions reached for his sword, drew it out and struck the servant of the high priest, cutting off his ear. “Put your sword back in its place,” Jesus said to him, “for all who draw the sword will die by the sword.”
Matthew 26:51-52 (NIV)

The scene is intense. Jesus has just been betrayed by the kiss of Judas. Peter, always ready for action, pulls out his sword and clumsily cuts off the ear of Malchus.

Jesus calmly picks up Malchus’s ear from the ground and reattaches it to his head. It’s a miracle, to be sure, but don’t let the wonder of His works make you miss the power of His words.

Jesus says to Peter, while intending it for the soldiers and also intending it for us, “No more violence.”

Too many injuries result from it. Trauma builds strongholds on its back. Lives are forever scarred by it. Enemy camps become all the more entrenched because of it. Truth is suppressed and ignored because of it.

When violence is perpetrated, real messages are missed. Reconciliation is all but strained out. Elections become marred because of it. Innocence is violated. Community becomes threatened. Trust is broken.

Historically, families have had to painfully move family members away because of violence. Parents have buried far too many children. Jails have profited from violence perpetrated and judges behind the bench have stewarded violence of their own in the excessive sentences that they hand out. And let’s accept that the church is not immune from it either.

Jesus’s message doesn’t need parsing. We don’t need special interpretation. It doesn’t need to be better translated from the Greek, the Hebrew, the Aramaic, or the Latin. His message is clear and undeniable. Jesus says to each of us, “Stop it. Put your blade back in its sheath. No more violence.”