Do Your Job!

gabby katie-lou napheesa

Whatever opportunity comes up, go for it and give it your all.  You may never have another chance. (Ecclesiastes 9:10).”

I have been a New England Patriots fan since they became a team in 1960.  Those were years of relative obscurity as the last franchise admitted into the old American Football League struggled to find success.  They eventually began to achieve a limited amount of success.  Then along came Robert Kraft, Bill Belichick and Tom Brady.  The rest, as they say, is history.  I’ve always been a big fan of the concepts of  “Do your job” and “Next man up”).  Whatever you may think about this owner, coach, quarterback, or team, you have to admit that their success in the modern era is unprecedented.  And they have maintained this success in spite of free agency, salary caps and the normal year to year injuries.  And the team mantra has been for everyone, “Do your job!”  And if someone goes down (or has to serve an inexplicable 4-game suspension), it’s up the next man to take up the slack and keep things moving forward.  But these are professionals who get paid (quite handsomely) to “do their job.”  What about those who don’t get paid the big bucks?

I became a UConn Women’s Basketball fan back in the early ’90’s when I was looking for a college team to use as an example to the players on the teams I was coaching at the time.  Under Coach Geno Auriemma, UConn went from a 12-15 record in 1985-1986 to having 31 consecutive winning seasons since.  They’ve won 11 of the past 22 national championships-including the past 4 in a row.  They have 4 out of the top 5 women’s all-time winning streaks with 47, 70, 90 and the current one of 105 and counting–with the last 2 bettering UCLA’s men’s streak of 88.  Coming into this year’s season, UConn had lost its top 3 players from last year’s team.  Those players went 1,2,3, in the WNBA draft.  Time for “next man up.”  Three “role players” from last year’s bench suddenly stepped up and, along with the two remaining veterans from last year’s team have turned the team into another UConn powerhouse.  Good teams try to never look ahead to more than the next game in order to maintain their focus on the game at hand.  UConn takes it a step further by trying to maintain focus on each play of every game.  That’s why, in games past, you’ve been able to see a 3-time All-American diving for a loose ball in the third quarter of a game in which UConn had a 40+ point lead.  Play at 100% on each and every play.  A detail-oriented perfectionist, Auriemma has told his players and everyone that will listen, that there is no magic to being successful.  You simply never slack off.  When you “strive for perfection, you achieve excellence.”

That’s a lesson these young women will carry with them for the rest of their lives–in their education, in their families, in their relationships, and in their chosen professions.  The same rules apply to us no matter what our circumstances, our families, our health, our age or our finances.  Strive for perfection in all things and you will achieve excellence.  Don’t get discouraged and take a play off.  But as for you, be strong and don’t give up, for your work will be rewarded. (II Chronicles 15:7)

Thrown Under the Bus

In a moment of self-evaluation, it recently occurred to me that I have been existing under a cloud that I wasn’t even aware of.  I couldn’t understand why I don’t seem to be progressing in many aspects of my life.  I don’t seem to have the drive to accomplish difficult things that I did when I was younger.  I just assumed that it was un unfortunate result of getting older.

Continue reading “Thrown Under the Bus”

Behold the Man!

Men have tried for years to prove or disprove what the life and death of Jesus meant to the world.  The recorded events of prophesy and of His life are explained in detail in the Bible.  Yet there are many who sincerely refute this historical record.  Unfortunately, they are sincerely wrong.    Here is a written snapshot of one man’s sincere belief:

‘Neath starry skies, the shepherds came

Led by the angel choir.

A child was born to take our shame

And set our souls on fire.

———-

When as a child, He tried to teach,

The wise men were surprised.

To find a boy who knew to preach,

With words so undisguised.

———-

For many years He worked with wood

Until the time had come

For Him to serve the common good

His Father said, “My Son.”

———-

A mountain top He went to pray.

The devil tempted Him.

The spoken Word kept him at bay.

and kept the Lord from sin.

———

 Twelve men he chose to spread the Word–

The first of many more.

They weren’t too sure of what they heard,

But they could not ignore.

———-

The miracles that He performed–

He called Himself God’s son.

The tortured lives that He transformed

Made Him the Holy One.

———

He taught His followers to pray,

First giving God their praise.

Believe in Him, and come what may,

His answers would amaze.

———

The leaders of that ancient time

Felt threatened by this Man.

The Son of God charged with a crime

Yet this was still God’s plan.

———-

The Roman court soon heard their cries.

He knew it was His time.

They nailed HIs hands and then His feet,

Just like a guilty man.

———

His human life came to an end.

For all the world to see.

Then down to hell He did descend

To set the captives free.

———

His Father’s plan was incomplete

Until He rose again.

Both death and hell He did defeat

To God He did ascend..

———

He promised them before He rose

That they would have a place

To give them peace from all their foes

And see Him face to face.

———-

The promise that to them He gave

Still works for us today.

He came to earth to heal and save

Forever and a day.

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever. (Hebrews 13:8)

And why  isn’t even more written about what He did?  Jesus also did many other things. If they were all written down, I suppose the whole world could not contain the books that would be written. (John 21:25)

Snailmail? Email? …… Kneemail!

My wife and I recently had a disagreement with the United State Post Office.  We live on a cul-de-sac, which is extremely difficult for the local public works department to plow during the winter.  We’ve never had this problem before, but with all the snow that we’ve this year, the plow trucks ran out of places to put the snow.  So once the piles got as high as they could make them, they had to start extending the mountain into the cul-de-sac itself.  This resulted in the mountain of snow extending almost to our walkway.  It so high, we couldn’t even see our neighbor’s house from the road.  Despite the Postal Service’s unofficial motto that states,  Neither snow, nor rain, nor heat, nor gloom of night, stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds,  it seems that, in our postal district, this doesn’t apply to mailboxes like mine.  Our box was shoveled out, but the mail truck driver couldn’t get to it with one pass.  He/she would have had to back into the cleared area or have exited the truck to reach the box.  So, we couldn’t get our mail for about 3 weeks.  Another week, and the Post Office was going to begin to charge us $53 to open a temporary box.  Our public works department came through at the last-minute and removed the snow and our mail was once again delivered to our mailbox.  Small wonder that so many people are communicating in other ways.

In our case, we now send birthday cards, anniversary cards, and most Christmas cards via emails or Facebook.  And if we want to reach them quicker, we can text them.  It seems that technology is increasing so fast, that by the time we’ve mastered the last new method,a new one (and sometimes more than one) has been invented.

Yet each of these methods can fail.  I’ve already mentioned my experience with the Post Office.  But both email and Facebook can be problematic as well.  The connection to the internet can go down or your can lose power.  With text messages, some one’s phone may be turned off or the battery may need to be charged.

The only communication that’s guaranteed is that when we pray, God always hears us and will always answer.  God always hears our prayers  (II Chronicles 20:27).  This is the confidence which we have before Him, that, if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us.  And if we know that He hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests which we have asked from Him (I John 5:14).  God’s answers everything we pray about and answers, yes, not yet, or I have something better in mind.  And our prayers need not be lengthy nor according to some precise formula.  For your Father knows what you need before you ask Him (Mathew 6:8).  And how often should we pray?  Pray without ceasing (I Thessalonians 5:17).  So, constantly be in communication with God, knowing that He hears you and will answer you according what is in your best interests.  This is an iron-clad guarantee that will never fail or be broken.

It doesn’t get much better than this.

GIGO

The acronym GIGO (garbage in, garbage out) was originally designed to describe inputting data to a computer.  Basically, it meant that if you entered good or accurate data, the end result would be good or accurate.  If you entered bad or incorrect data, your results would be bad or inaccurate.  The FreeDictionary describes it this way:  an informal rule holding that the integrity of output is dependent on the integrity of input.  It’s important to remember that our brains are organic computers capable of amazing things.  And we are constantly inputting new data–from all of our senses; sight, sound, taste, smell, touch, and any others senses we may not have recognized yet.

   Image result for garbage in garbage out                       Image result for garbage in garbage out

While the GIGO phrase came into being when physical computers began, God explained this long ago.  Matthew 15:19 explains: For from the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, all sexual immorality, theft, lying, and slander.  Luke 6:45 puts it this way: A good person produces good things from the treasury of a good heart, and an evil person produces evil things from the treasury of an evil heart.  What you say flows from what is in your heart.  Mark 7:21-23 adds: For from within, out of a person’s heart, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, wickedness, deceit, lustful desires, envy, slander, pride, and foolishness.  All these vile things come from within; they are what defile you.  How do we recognize this GIGO in ourselves and those around us?  For from within, out of a person’s heart, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, wickedness, deceit, lustful desires, envy, slander, pride, and foolishness. All these vile things come from within; they are what defile you (Mark 7:21-23).  In James 3:8-12 we are told, but no one can tame the tongue. It is restless and evil, full of deadly poison. Sometimes it praises our Lord and Father, and sometimes it curses those who have been made in the image of God.  And so blessing and cursing come pouring out of the same mouth. Surely, my brothers and sisters, this is not right!  Does a spring of water bubble out with both fresh water and bitter water?  Does a fig tree produce olives, or a grapevine produce figs?  No, and you can’t draw fresh water from a salty spring.

Can a man who fills (or inputs) his life with worldly things show Christ to others?  The definition of GIGO above and the Scripture verses say, definitely not!  The definition uses the word “integrity,” to mean accuracy, truthfulness or honesty.  I’ve heard many say that integrity is what you do when you’re alone (And sometimes when you’re with people whose integrity might be questionable).  You might say that would never be me.  I’m a good person and I don’t do anything to hurt anyone else.  Remember Peter (the rock)?  He would never deny Jesus.  And yet as soon as he was out of contact with Jesus and in the midst of those who didn’t believe, he denied Him three times.  Yet, look what he accomplished later.

God speaks through Jeremiah in chapter 17 (9-10), The heart is more deceitful than all else And is desperately sick; Who can understand it?  I, the LORD, search the heart, I test the mind.  Expect to be tempted and expect to fail.  But use each failure to learn to depend on God each time.  Or, we can wallow in our sin and weakness and never become a person of integrity, no matter how hard we try to look like one.  The bottom line there is that  the LORD searches all hearts, and understands every intent of the thoughts. If you seek Him, He will let you find Him; but if you forsake Him, He will reject you forever (Jeremiah 17:9).

Flood your mind with good and positive things and learn from your mistakes.  Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.  The things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you (Philippians 4:8).

Sttrrreeeeccchh Yourself

Though I am surrounded by troubles, you will protect me from the anger of my enemies. You reach out your hand, and the power of your right hand saves me (Psalm 1387)

No matter who we are, what we do, when or where we do it, we are either making progress, stagnating or moving forward.  In his first letter to the Corinthians, Paul compares moving forward to an athlete preparing for a competition.  Don’t you realize that in a race everyone runs, but only one person gets the prize?  So run to win!  All athletes are disciplined in their training. They do it to win a prize that will fade away, but we do it for an eternal prize.  So I run with purpose in every step. I am not just shadow-boxing.  I discipline my body like an athlete, training it to do what it should.  Otherwise, I fear that after preaching to others I myself might be disqualified (I Corinthians 9:24-27)

I competed for many years, and then coached for many more.  To become better, you have to constantly push yourself to higher heights.  Doing the same thing over and over will keep you wherever you are right now.  Fitness expert, Fred Devito says it best:  If it doesn’t challenge you, it doesn’t change you.

Our Christian walk is the same way.  As we grow older, the challenges become greater.  But so should our ability to cope with them.  Trials and temptations are simply one of the means God uses to stretch us into becoming what He wants us to be.  The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you can endure  (I Corinthians 10:13)
And this keeps happening throughout our lives.  We never arrive at perfection, not even Paul or any of the other disciples. 
Not that I have already obtained it or have already become perfect, but I press on so that I may lay hold of that for which also I was laid hold of by Christ Jesus.  Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus (Philippians 3:12-14).

Work hard to show the results of your salvation, obeying God with deep reverence and fear.  For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him (Philippians 2:13).

 

Fact or Faith?

Billy Graham wrote a wonderful devotional regarding faith vs. fact… If you are saved, you are saved through a personal faith in the Gospel of Jesus Christ as defined in Scripture.  Though many may see this as too dogmatic or narrow-minded to many, the fact remains that there is no other way.  I Corinthians 15:1, 3,4 states, Let me now remind you, dear brothers and sisters, of the Good News I preached to you before.  I passed on to you what was most important and what had also been passed on to me. Christ died for our sins, just as the Scriptures said.  He was buried, and he was raised from the dead on the third day, just as the Scriptures said.

Capture

The Bible says that we are saved when we believe this objective fact.  The work of Jesus Christ is a fact.  His cross is a fact.  His tomb is a fact.  His resurrection is a fact.  Historical records of the time verify these facts.  The best-known historian of his day, Flavius Josephus (A.D. 37?-101?), mentions Jesus in his Antiquities, Book 18, chapter. 3, paragraph. 3.  Now there was about this time Jesus, a wise man, if it be lawful to call him a man; for he was a doer of wonderful works, a teacher of such men as receive the truth with pleasure. He drew over to him both many of the Jews and many of the Gentiles.  He was [the] Christ.  And when Pilate, at the suggestion of the principal men amongst us, had condemned him to the cross, (9) those that loved him at the first did not forsake him; for he appeared to them alive again the third day; (10) as the divine prophets had foretold these and ten thousand other wonderful things concerning him.  And the tribe of Christians, so named from him, are not extinct at this day.
The facts are there.  Faith is what we believe about these facts.  It is impossible to believe anything into existence.  The Gospel did not come into existence because people believed it.  The tomb was not emptied because some faithful people believed it.  The facts preceded the belief.  This is important because we are psychologically incapable of believing without an object of our faith.
So not asked to believe something that is only in our imagination or is not credible, but to believe that the fact of the Gospel, in Jesus Christ’s life, purpose, death and resurrection.  These facts transcend all history.  And this historical figure, Jesus Christ, said, I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me (John 14:6).
Trusting in Him for your eternal salvation is trusting in facts, not in a figment of someone’s imagination.  And you know what?  When you have faith in these facts and act accordingly, you can be joyful most of the time.  Are you trusting in these facts?