How a shark attack victim in California survived

How a shark attack victim in California survived June 5, 2024

A forty-six-year-old man was swimming at a popular California beach last Sunday when he was attacked by a shark. He punched the predator on the nose, then fellow swimmers rescued him. He had bites to his left hand, left arm, and torso, but his injuries are not life-threatening.

Now consider his story as a spiritual parable. We don’t face sharks of the soul, but we do face an adversary who “prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour” (1 Peter 5:8). When Satan attacks, the swimmer would teach us to do two things: Fight back and get help.

Stated biblically: “Resist him, standing firm in your faith” (v. 9). At the same time, trust that “the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you” (v. 10).

This week we’re exploring ways to respond redemptively to Pride Month and the rising cultural opposition of our day. We have learned first to see our opponents not as our enemies but as victims of a secularized culture and Satan’s deceptive attacks, and then to be the change we wish to see through a transforming daily experience with God’s Spirit.

Today let’s become a bit more militant in fighting our spiritual adversary. What does “resist him, standing firm in your faith” mean for us today?

A disturbing new report

This morning’s Daily Article is motivated by two factors.

The first is a disturbing new report that 40 percent of British Christians prefer not to disclose their religious beliefs. No wonder Christianity is declining precipitously in the UK, we might say.

But what about America, where evangelicals are the largest religious demographic?

On our side of the pond, 52 percent of Christians believe that encouraging someone to change their beliefs is “offensive and disrespectful.” And two-thirds of American Christians say they are not familiar with “methods for telling others about Jesus.” No wonder Christianity is declining precipitously in the US.

A doctor’s very personal question

The second factor is a personal experience I had yesterday.

My mother died sixteen years ago of colon cancer that metastasized to her lungs. As a result, I have been screened regularly for the disease, including a colonoscopy yesterday afternoon. I’ll spare you the details but tell a related story to make my point.

My mother was diagnosed with the disease when we were pastoring in Midland, Texas, and continued treatment for it while we pastored in Atlanta, Georgia. When we moved to a pastorate in Dallas, Texas, she and I met with a gastroenterologist who would take over her treatment. Even though she had been through surgery and was undergoing chemotherapy, when we met with the doctor, he did not begin our conversation with her.

Instead, he turned directly to me and asked me the date of my last colonoscopy. When I told him I had never had one, he strongly insisted that I schedule one before leaving his office. Only then did he turn to my mother to begin planning her treatment regimen.

That doctor could have assumed that I understood the familial risks of colon cancer and that I would schedule a personal colonoscopy. He could have worried about offending me by confronting me directly. But he cared enough about me to reject the former assumption and to take the latter risk. And I will always be grateful.

When I have taught on cultural engagement and evangelism at various seminaries over the years, I often say to my students: “You don’t want to stand next to a lost person before God, hear them condemned to hell, have them turn to you and ask why you didn’t share the gospel with them, and have to say, ‘I didn’t want to offend you.’” (I don’t know that we’ll actually face such a scenario before God’s judgment, but you understand my point.)

What Francis of Assisi never said

You may have heard the Francis of Assisi quote, “Preach the gospel at all times. When necessary, use words.” But there are two problems here.

First, Francis never said this. He was actually a very persuasive preacher along the lines of Jonathan Edwards or Billy Sunday.

Second, it is always necessary to use words.

Paul asked: “How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching?” (Romans 10:14).

To become a Christian, a person must first understand that Jesus died to pay for their sins, ask him to forgive them for these sins, and trust in him as their Lord and Savior. None of that can be comprehended apart from words. Good examples and deeds, while excellent precursors, are not sufficient to communicate this propositional truth.

How Ronald Reagan would speak with an atheist

Ronald Reagan died on this day twenty years ago. Of all his brilliant quotes, this one seems appropriate for our conversation today:

“Sometimes when I’m faced with an atheist, I am tempted to invite him to the greatest gourmet dinner that one could ever serve, and when we have finished eating that magnificent dinner, ask him if he believes there’s a cook.”

Whom will you introduce to the Cook today?

Wednesday news to know:

Quote for the day:

“Fight the good fight of faith, and God will give you spiritual mercies.” —George Whitefield

Browse Our Archives