Monday, August 31, 2009

Say what you couldn't/wouldn't say, and eventually, and maybe instantaneously, you will do what you couldn't/wouldn't do before. Making a statement of faith precedes an act of greatness.

A few years ago, I coached girl's softball and I drafted a girl that was new in our league. She was full of life, and she loved to emulate Babe Ruth, and before each pitch, would point her bat to the centerfield fence, and make a non verbal faith statement. Before every pitch she said what she could/would do, even following a swing and a miss. She was a joy to coach, and still brings joy to her family, friends and all who meet her. Opposing coaches and pitchers didn't like her, but her coach and team mates did. She was a spark plug, a catalyst that took the team up a notch. She rose to every challenge, and so I played on that in order to bring her to church and a relationship with God. Back then, I could outrun most of the girls. It was a 16U league. For fun, I would even turn around and run forwards sometimes. It really moved them to try harder when their 'old man' coach outran them running backwards. She was much faster than other girls I had coached, so I challenged the team to a foot race from home plate to the grass behind short stop. I challenged the team, that I would do whatever they wanted me to do if they could outrun me, and they would have to come to church three times if I outran them. She was the only one who took up the challenge. There were all kinds of good natured taunting, and after clearance from her mom and my wife on the agreement, with the rest of the team as the judges, we came to the agreement of three sprints, and whoever was best, would yield to the agreement. We toed the line, and she pointed to the finish line and made her faith statement. I toed the line, and made mine. "You will be coming to church three times".

It very much surprised her when I crossed the finish line first, which created a new round of good natured taunts and ribbing from her. She really did not believe what had just happened was possible. She again made her statement of faith, and I made mine as we toed the line again. This time, she finished first. Now, the team was into it. The parents were solidly pulling for me, and the girls were rallying around her. We took a few extra minutes to catch our breath, and as we toed the line, there was only focus. The statements had been made, the deal was sealed, and we both entered the zone. By grace through faith, I finished ahead of her, and all the girls were groaning, and all the parents were cheering. And, she was good to her word, and came to our youth group for three services and enjoyed every moment. We are still friends, and every time I see an emulation of Babe Ruth's faith statement before a pitch, I think of the Babe Ruth, I coached one fall season of 16 and under girl's softball.

An observation of some older people is that the older one becomes, the less of these sayings of faith occurs, and hence less doing of great deeds. Somewhere along life's journey we lose the fun of the faith life, and settle into the life that is, or the life that was, and have long since stopped making sometimes outrageous statements of faith, that are followed by great deeds.

I am blessed to be surrounded by children and youth, who serve as reverse mentors to me. They remind me to keep saying words of faith.

Let's point our bats at the centerfield fence this morning.

Mat 18:2 -4 Jesus called a child over and had the child stand near him.

Then he said: I promise you this. If you don't change and become like a child, you will never get into the kingdom of heaven.

But if you are as humble as this child, you are the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.


 

Lord, by faith in you, we overcome our spiritual opponents and encourage ourselves as well as our spiritual friends and family, by saying what we couldn't/wouldn't say before.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Thankful for well-behaved, helpful, well disciplined grandchildren, caring wife, faithfulness of God, praying friends and a lower temperature, which is below normal. (I run a degree cooler than normal.) At VAOG we are focusing on the book of James in September, and special emphasis on the Holy Spirit in Sunday School. With my swollen tongue my speech will be even slower than the usual southern slow pace.

Heb 13:8 Jesus Christ never changes!

Lord, so many things change, as a result of prayer in your Name. Thank you.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

18 weeks of chemo and my low temperature of 97.4 stayed steady the entire time. Two months after the last chemo treatment, my tongue was swollen, my white blood cell count came back way low and my temp was up three degrees. An afternoon in the doctor's office and I have two more drugs (antibiotics) floating around my system. It's hard to eat, swallow and talk, but we had a real nice pizza and walk in the park with the grand kids. Tomorrow, the next day, and the next until… by God's grace I will toe the line and keep running the race that is set before me.

Php 3:14 I run toward the goal

Lord, help us keep showing up to receive strength and grace.

Father in heaven,
Pull people so close to you @ the Convoy of Hope that they would willingljy want a Father/child relationship with you. 

Friday, August 28, 2009

Thankful Virginia is not in a drought, nor will be in the foreseeable future. Heading out to check my blood (again), and do some shopping with Brenda.

Battery life is short and so is all of life, but we don't think about it until the power goes out, and we see our battery life on the laptop is only good for so long. At the moment, power is out in my office and I have a sense of urgency to get 'er done before the battery loses power. This sense of urgency also helped me focus on what is really, really important, and to work on that first. Doing what we couldn't/wouldn't do as an act of faith has a new dimension when one only has a few moments, or few days, or few years to bring an important deed to completion.

The electrical power now is back on, and the sense of urgency has passed.

I pray the Holy Spirit keeps giving us the sense of urgency to do what we couldn't/wouldn't do, because life, even a very long life, is short.

In a few hours, my wife and I have the privileged opportunity to mentor/disciple my granddaughter's for the week end. It seems like only yesterday, our house was full of our own children and in a few hours it will be full of grand children. May God grant us the grace to do what we couldn't/wouldn't do with our grand kid's the deeds that will create in them the desire to follow Jesus with faith, hope and love.

1Co 13:13 For now there are faith, hope, and love. But of these three, the greatest is love.

Lord, help us not put off until tomorrow, what should be done NOW! Remind us, and give us the sense of urgency that NOW is when we put into action faith, hope and love. Forgive us, for thinking we couldn't/wouldn't do something, that you want us to do NOW.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Testing

I am slowly, but surely trying something new I couldn't/wouldn't do.

Do what you couldn’t/wouldn’t do.

Doing something, you couldn't/wouldn't do before.

Doing something, you couldn't/wouldn't do before is less about amounts, distances, or numbers and more about percentages. It is also more than facing ones fears. It is pressing forward, even if that forwardness is a very slight percentage increase.

I officially started running Sunday evening. It lasted one step, and was followed by two shuffle steps. With severe back issues, it was my limit. I asked for and received prayer in our prayer group on Wednesday. Part of my faith heritage is after praying about something, one is to do something, they couldn't/wouldn't do before. What I couldn't do is not only run, but lay down flat on my back on a hard surface. I had purchased a DVD and book on Pilates and the first level is laying flat on one's back in a particular way. So, by faith, I eased myself down onto my back. It was very painful, but not as painful as it was a week ago. Under my wife's watchful eye, I attempted successfully to lie down on the floor and stay there for 15 minutes. Also under my wife's watchful eye, I slowly eased myself to my feet. It was a slow, unimpressive start, but it was something, I couldn't do a week prior. It was followed by a six mile bike ride and some more stretches, all the while praying in the spirit, and asking God to help me do something, I couldn't/wouldn't do before.

When I got into the office it translated into tackling some unpleasant tasks as well as new ones that I couldn't/wouldn't do before. These slight percentage gains in doing what couldn't or wouldn't be done is part of the human journey. It hinders the future, when one remembers how easy something used to be, or how easy it seems for others to do. It could be a call to a relative, or friend, to reconnect. It could be a call to a lost account, or absent person from a group you are a part of. It could be a health goal, emotional goal, spiritual goal, financial goal, or anything.

One should also, not compare their progress to others. The instructor of the Pilates very easily, could lay flat in a perfect Pilate position, without grimacing. These instructors/mentors/coaches/pastors in our lives can frustrate instead of encourage if one compares themselves to them. There are people in my circle of friends that have reached such high levels of fitness, whether financial fitness, or spiritual life fitness, or emotional life fitness that it is tempting, to just compliment them, and dismiss the possibility, that one could slowly but steadily progress to excellent health, financial, emotional, mental and spiritual fitness.

A scripture that helps do something one couldn't/wouldn't do before:

Php 3:12 I have not yet reached my goal, and I am not perfect. But Christ has taken hold of me. So I keep on running and struggling to take hold of the prize.

Php 3:13 My friends, I don't feel that I have already arrived. But I forget what is behind, and I struggle for what is ahead.

Php 3:14 I run toward the goal, so that I can win the prize of being called to heaven. This is the prize that God offers because of what Christ Jesus has done. (CEV)


 

Prayer: Lord, help me humbly ask for prayer/help/grace/mentoring in situations and relationships that I couldn't/wouldn't do. Help me do my part, and take a step forward, even it is one, followed by a few shuffle steps.