The Freedom to say “No”

Written May 27, 2023  10:02am   Published May 29, 2023 5:00am  Memorial Day.  EDITED May 27, 2024… 3:00am PST

Clarifying:  The “Friend” in this article is…yes, you guessed correctly is…ME.  

I have many friends who are teachers and let me tell you… Ask a teacher what is going on in their classroom and you may (probably will) have a prophetic idea of what the United States of America will be like in thirty years.

On May 26, 2023, one of my teacher “friends” contacted me very upset.

“Paul, I gotta tell you what happened to me today!  It was the first time ever.”

Like you, I am tired of “firsts.”  Seriously.  TIRED!  With that said, this “friend” has been teaching for over thirty years and to have something happen for the “first time,” I am interested.

“As you know Paul, for the Friday of Memorial Day weekend, I like to teach my students the difference between Veterans Day and Memorial Day.  To teach what Memorial Day is, I use the story of my grandfather’s death.  As you know, my grandfather was killed-in-action in World War II.”

For almost his entire teaching career, my “friend” has done this.  I know this.  He has shared the experience many times.

My “friend” continues, “When I get done, I ask the class, ‘Do you have a family member / family friend who was killed-in-action?'”  A student raises her hand and I get excited.”

Seeing how happy my “friend” was when he is telling me about this was encouraging.

He continues, “She says, ‘Oh, it has nothing do with what you are talking about?’  I say, ‘Oh, okay.  Let’s close this and then, I will answer your question.  No one had anything to say.  ‘Okay, “Brenda” – go ahead.”

“She says, ‘Well, you might not know, I am the president of the Gender Straight Alliance club.  As you know, June is Pride month.  We are asking all the teachers if they want to display a rainbow flag in their classroom.  Would you like to display one?’  Paul, I was shocked a student would ask such a question in public!  Frankly, a question that has nothing to do with the topic.”

I could see and hear my “friend’s” change from encouragement to frustration and sadness.

I ask my “friend,” “Well, what was your response to “Brenda?”

My “friend” responds, ” I say to “Brenda,” ‘I appreciate you asking me.  I am going to pass.  Let me say, thanks to my grandfather and many others, you can ask such a question in a classroom.’  Paul, she attempted to embarrass me!  I felt like I was in the Rookie League of Mao’s Struggle Session!  Because of my faith, I had to in front of the entire classroom say ‘no’ and there were giggles and from many students, awkward silence.”

I respond to my upset “friend,” “Good for you!  And remember, you are correct.  Thanks to many brave men and women wearing a military uniform – INCLUDING YOUR SON – you have the freedom to say ‘no’ and I can tell you, there were students in that classroom who learned a lot, including to not succumb to the pressure to cave to the cultural revolution.  Well done!”

There is a cultural revolution happening.  You are going to have a moment like my “friend,” possibly more than one moment, when you are going to have the opportunity to stand up for what you believe.  Like my “friend,” I believe in Jesus Christ.  I look to Him and fellow believers for support and understanding of how to live a righteous life.

Helping me with my current forty day fast is 40 Days with the Holy Spirit by R.T. Kendall

As usual, God gives me timely messages.  Today (May 27, 2023) is Day 28 of R.T. Kendall’s book, “The Holy Spirit is Our Guide.”  Several quotes from that chapter:

  • Only by the Holy Spirit guiding us can we understand the Bible and then experience the joy of the Spirit.
  • The Spirit “guides” us into truth – showing what is there but what cannot be seen without Him opening our eyes.
  • We never outgrow our need for the Heavenly Guide to lead us to truth we have never seen before – but which has always been there.
  • Don’t forget the most important thing according to Jesus:  the Holy Spirit guides us in all truth.  The truth referred to here is objective truth – not someone’s subjective opinion.
  • “In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight” (Prov. 3:6).  But the main thing Jesus had in mind regarding the Holy Spirit being our guide is that He guides us into the truth.  We will never be deceived if we listen to and follow Him.

And check this out… May 26, 2023, Day 27 of R.T. Kendall’s book, “The Holy Spirit Convicts of Sin.”  The very day my “friend” endured what he referred to as, “the Rookie League of Mao’s Struggle Session.”

  • The Spirit shows us our sin but also leads us to see the need for righteousness – of which there are two sorts:  1). Righteousness imputed to us when we believe the gospel – called saving faith.  2). Righteousness imparted to us when we “continue to live in him” (Col. 2:6) – called persistent faith.
  • The real reason a person should be a Christian is owing to the wrath of God.  The earliest message of the New Testament was from John the Baptist, warning us to “flee from the coming wrath” (Matt. 3:7).
  • Death was defeated by Jesus’s death (Heb. 2:14), which is why Jesus said, “The prince of this world now stands condemned” (John 16:11).
  • God will explain the reason for evil and suffering.

Jesus:I tell you the truth, if someone does not experience water and Spirit birth, there’s no chance he will make it into God’s kingdom. Like from like. Whatever is born from flesh is flesh; whatever is born from Spirit is spirit. Don’t be shocked by My words, but I tell you the truth. Even you, an educated and respected man among your people, must be reborn by the Spirit to enter the kingdom of GodThe wind[a] blows all around us as if it has a will of its own; we feel and hear it, but we do not understand where it has come from or where it will end up. Life in the Spirit is as if it were the wind of God.

Nicodemus:I still do not understand how this can be.

Jesus:10 Your responsibility is to instruct Israel in matters of faith, but you do not comprehend the necessity of life in the Spirit11 I tell you the truth: we speak about the things we know, and we give evidence about the things we have seen, and you choose to reject the truth of our witness. 12 If you do not believe when I talk to you about ordinary, earthly realities, then heavenly realities will certainly elude you. 13 No one has ever journeyed to heaven above except the One who has come down from heaven—the Son of Man, who is of heaven. 14 Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness. In the same way, the Son of Man must be lifted up; 15 then all those who believe in Him will experience everlasting life.

16 For God expressed His love for the world in this way: He gave His only Son so that whoever believes in Him will not face everlasting destruction, but will have everlasting life.

Romans 1:16-20 The Voice

Are you ready to show your freedom by saying, “no?”  I hope so.  Please know that when you say, ‘no’ people may be shocked.  They may laugh at you.  What about the chance they will not like you?  But, as you can see, if you are going to be a person of faith, sometimes you gotta say, ‘no’ and give God a reason to smile and bless you!  If anyone in addition to God smiling at you, you may get a new friend or there may be a friend or two who will remain your friend.  
Thank you to my grandfather who sacrificed his life so I would be able to be a Christian and enjoy / cherish freedoms / liberty that over half of the world does not get to.  I hope all of us will take the time to remember those who sacrificed their lives for us to live in a great nation!  God bless them all!  
Please feel free to contact me. I am available to lead some dynamic and informative seminars on leadership / teamwork / parenting and much more.  I am part of the Maxwell Team.  For our fantastic seminars, I use material written by John Maxwell, in addition to other dynamic authors.  Hope to hear from you.  Also, please know, I cater to the group that hires me.  I can do secular and sacred presentations.  Just let me know what you need to help you and those close to you get better.  Our company, BAND TOGETHER, believes – BETTER PEOPLE MAKE BETTER LEADERS!