I didn’t really understand what he meant then, but I have come to appreciate his words over the three and a half decades since he spoke them to me.
First, he was telling me the importance of defining what I believe. Using the Scriptures as my guideline, I needed to isolate those issues that were of life-and-death importance—study them, meditate on them, pray over them, and be willing to live or die by them. That was no easy task.
I was already twenty-six years old when I became a believer and I hadn’t been raised in a Christian home, so I had a lot to learn! But I dug in and started reading, studying, and questioning, until I finally came to a place that I truly knew what tenets of the faith were black and white, do or die, no-compromise issues. At that point I had to make the commitment to stand for those issues at any cost.
Christians in other countries understand that. Many people around the world lay their very lives on the line by converting to Christianity. Public baptism is tantamount to waving a red flag in an angry bull’s face. But these heroic brothers and sisters make a decision to follow Christ, regardless of the consequences, and they don’t compromise.
That should be the mark of all believers, for if what we say we believe does not govern our actions, then perhaps we don’t truly believe it. Our list should be well thought-out—and then followed at every point, even if into the proverbial lions’ den.
But what about the second part of that old pastor’s advice? Not only did he instruct me to develop a do-or-die list based on the Scriptures, but he also cautioned me to keep the list short. What did he mean by that?
He didn’t explain himself, but I believe he was warning me not to become legalistic, to add rules and regulations that were actually based in personal choice rather than God’s Word. People whose lives are on the line for their faith understand this more clearly than we can imagine.
That excellent two-part piece of advice has served me well, and it helped to birth in me the desire to write The Extreme Devotion fiction series. I pray the reading of it will encourage you to come up with your own do-or-die list—if you haven’t already.
Remember: no compromise—but keep it short.
Kathi Macias is a multi-award winning writer and radio show host who has authored 30 books and ghostwritten several others. A former newspaper columnist and string reporter, Kathi has taught creative and business writing in various venues and has been a guest on many radio and television programs. Kathi is a popular speaker at churches, women’s clubs and retreats, and writers’ conferences, and recently won the prestigious 2008 member of the year award from AWSA (Advanced Writers and Speakers Association) at the annual Golden Scrolls award banquet. Kathi “Easy Writer” Macias lives in Homeland, CA, with her husband, Al, where the two of them spend their free time riding their Harley. You can find Kathi online at http://www.kathimacias.com/ and at her blog http://kathieasywritermacias.blogspot.com/