Tuesday, January 11, 2005

PERSEVERANCE - I know I can! I know I can!

A Conscious Choice [Joshua 24:14, 15; Attitude, choice, faith, overcoming]
Wally Amos, founder of both Famous Amos’ Chocolate-chip Cookies and the NonamĂ© Cookie Company, tells the story of a business associate named Bill Berger.

Berger recently had a stroke, his brain filling with life threatening blood, leaving him paralyzed on his right side. Part of his self-imposed therapy was to go back to work, even though his right arm hung limp, even though he was forced to drag his right foot.

On one business trip Amos noticed Berger start the car with his right hand, rather than reaching across with the other. He vowed by summer he would use his right arm only. He told Amos he had made “a conscious choice” to recover. Amos said everywhere they went Berger knew people by name and they were all glad to see him.

Amos related: “I spoke with Bill today, and he told me that since the last time we were together he had successfully completed an 8-mile race. That in itself is a great feat, but he went on to say that he had forgotten where he parked his car and had to walk another two and a half miles to find it.” [“Attitude is a most powerful force;” The Costco Connection, July 1999, 115]

So you think you have problems overcoming? You can choose not to!

It Ain’t Over Till It’s Over! [Philippians 3:14; endurance]
This past weekend Super Bowl (number whatever) was won by fourteen-point underdogs, the New England Patriots.

Nine years ago, January 3, 1993, another team, the Buffalo Bills, won by a field goal in overtime against the Houston Oilers. At half-time the score was – Oilers 28, Bills – 3; nine minutes into the third quarter the Oilers intercepted a Bills pass and went out 35 – 3. But at the end of the game, 21 minutes later, in overtime, the Bills kicked a field goal to win 38 – 35.

On the Monday following this week’s Super Bowl, a high school coach reminded Rush Limbaugh of a truth most coaches have known for ages: it makes no difference who is ahead at the end of the first quarter, who is ahead at half-time, who is ahead at the end of the third quarter, or even who is ahead at the two-minute warning in the fourth and final quarter ... it only matters who is ahead when the game ends.

At the end of the first, second or third quarters no one knows who is going to win. Not even at the two minute warning is anyone "certain" of who will win. Athletes ought to be brainwashed with that truth ... those that are win more games and play much better whether ahead or behind.

This truth reminds athletes of what Paul told the Corinthians long ago, it ain’t over till it’s over: "run in such a way that you may win." [1 Corinthians 9:24b]

In our world today, it may appear the enemy is ahead in points. Perhaps this is the fourth quarter or even beyond the two-minute warning … but it doesn’t matter, because we all know who will be the winner when the game of life ends – the Lord Jesus Christ!

NO GATE CAN KEEP HER AWAY! [Romans 8:38-39; Persistence]
Our oldest daughter was about two and we lived in a parsonage next door to our first church. Well, Jennifer loved to come over to the pastor’s office and visit with daddy. Only daddy couldn’t visit with her as often as she was able to visit with him.

On several occasions, we warned her of the need for permission to visit with her daddy but the warnings had no affect. Forced into a trade off between love for my daughter and my responsibility to the church, we did the only thing we could do, we locked the gate. My work was uninterrupted for two days. I remember feeling guilty about that.

On the third day, Jennifer’s little round face peaked around the corner of the door. When she realized I’d seen her, her face lit up with a heart-melting grin. “Hi, daddy!” She whispered.

After the obligatory hug and boost to my lap, I buzzed my wife to chastise her for leaving the gate unlocked. Surprised, she said, “John, I am looking out the window at the front gate and it is as locked now as it was earlier. How did that little stinker get out of the yard?”

Later we discovered our little girl had no fear of heights or climbing when it came to getting where she wanted to go. She had climbed the fence!

The redeemed should be like Jennifer; they should be so in love with their Father in heaven that not even the gates of hell can keep them from His presence.

One Wish [Proverbs 3:5-6; Encouragement, Humor, Man vs. God, Overcoming]
A man walking on the beach finds a lamp; he picks it up, rubs it, and out pops a genie. The genie says, "For releasing me I shall grant you one wish!”

The man thinks earnestly for a minute and then says, "Pretty soon I’ll be going to Hawaii on my honeymoon, but I’m afraid of flying … so, give me a bridge to Maui.”

The genie gives the man a stern look, “Do you realize how much it’ll take to do that? It’ll cost millions to hire workers, not to mention the material needed. Then there’ll be countless rest stops and gas stations. A bridge like that would interfere with shipping lanes and never pass an environmental impact study. You’ll just have to make another wish!”

The man concentrates again, and then said, “Okay, since I’m going to be married, tell me how to understand women.”

The genie paused for a moment then says, “So … this bridge … you want two lanes, or four? Single, or double deck?”

Some challenges seem impossible on their face yet, when placed alongside others, they pale by comparison. Winning the world for Jesus makes witnessing to neighbors seem like child’s play; starting a Bible study seems daunting, until compared with starting a new church. Dare to dream big. A vision for God which expects little and seems all too possible is nothing more than a day dream.

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