Tuesday, March 23, 2010

We are not of those who shrink back...

I love the concept and practice of endurance. I run long distances, fending off the elements and the desire to stop for the simple satisfaction of enduring. I admire corporations that endure the tests of time and stay focused on a corporate mission that works. Churches that endure without compromise receive my applause. People who endure unusual difficulty and hardship cause me to stop and take notice of their fortitude and determination. Endurance has always been important, but it is a necessary characteristic now more than ever.

This past Sunday legislation intended to revolutionize healthcare in America was approved. On multiple occasions I was questioned about what was transpiring and asked to pray. As I concluded a meeting with a group of wise men in the church this past Sunday evening, we broke up into groups to pray. More than a few times did I hear prayers for our government rising forth unto heaven.

Some are struck with fear during these uncertain times, others with anger. Whenever a person feels a loss of control, these two emotions naturally emerge. This is due to our inherent nature pushing us to be in control of our destiny. When we are confronted with the reality that we have so little control – as was evidenced this past Sunday when the healthcare vote was taken – our emotions are inflamed because we reckon ourselves powerless to control that which plays such a major role in our lives. When this occurs we will view the events either positively or negatively. I am determined to remain positive believing that opportunity prevails.

During times of difficulty and uncertainty there are always opportunities to be seized. May this be a time when the Christian church seizes opportunities to advance the Gospel among a struggling people seeking real meaning and purpose for living. May we seize the opportunity to pray more as God’s people – lifting up our cry to our Father’s ears. May we seize the opportunity to represent Christ with a spirit of optimism rather than pessimism. May we be a people who turn to God’s Word for truth rather than the American media. May we see the recent events in our country as opportunity for God to bring good from what appears to be the opposite? And may we be people who evidence a steadfast endurance now more than ever.

America is a nation that endures! We have the oldest living constitution in existence. We have faced countless challenges to our freedom and prosperity and yet we remain firmly established. We have learned that endurance is necessary if we are going to continue to march forward as a people. Even more so, the church of the Lord Jesus Christ has endured for roughly 2,000 years. We have endured persecution and calamity, deception and heresy, times of prosperity and times of decline – and yet we march forward by faith. May we be people who refuse to shrink back now more than ever!

Today, if you feel like you may not be able to hang on any longer, have faith. Strengthen your grip on God’s promises. Allow Hebrews 10:38 and 39 to encourage you to endure - “But my righteous one will live by faith. And if he shrinks back, I will not be pleased with him. But we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who believe and are saved.”

Friday, March 19, 2010

Happy Birthyday to the Greatest Woman in My Life...

Today is my Andi's birthday - it has been all day. We have had a blast hanging out together. We all went to a movie and to Chili's for lunch. I cooked steaks this evening and we had a wonderful meal around the McWilliams' family table, laughing and enjoying the company. We opened gifts and sang Happy Birthday. The cake was GiGi's cupcakes. Andi had the Tiramasu. I had the Wedding Cake cupcake (with coffee of course). We are now ending this wonderful day watching Casablanca. It's been a great day!

Andi, I love you darling! You are the best thing that's ever happened to me. I hope you've had a wonderful birthday!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

If Hope Floats, then Faith Sweats...

Several years ago the movie “Hope Floats” hit the cinemas. I’m not even sure what the movie was about, but the name of the movie causes me to think. How can hope float? What is there about hope that is buoyant? Oh, I could give some analogies as to the title if I were inclined to stretch my overactive imagination. Nevertheless, you’re probably thinking: just watch the movie and it will make sense. Maybe, but that’s more than I want to know right now because I’m pondering a different topic… faith.

That’s right – F-A-I-T-H – Faith! Not just ordinary run of the mill type faith that impresses nobody, let alone God, but hardworking faith that sweats. Real faith always sweats! Not sweating because it struggles to believe in God (although this happens to some), but sweating as it perseveres in the pursuit of God. Abraham had a sweaty faith. As you read Scripture you can see his faith develop from one who timidly trusted God to one who believed God so much that even the hardest task of obedience would not shatter his walk (Gen. 22). Abraham walked by faith even though he too sometimes stumbled by sight. He understood “faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen” and that “without faith it is impossible to please God” (Heb. 11:1, 6). Abraham’s faith was not simply words tossed about with no evidence of belief. His faith was represented by actions that proved his deep and abiding conviction for God, His Word, and a desire to live and walk in a manner pleasing to his Lord. His was a faith that conquers; his was a faith that sweats.

What are you facing right now that is requiring some perspiration from you in the area of faith? Is it a relationship problem that you are trusting God to resolve? Could it be an employment issue or a financial matter that you are praying for God’s movement? Could it be a prodigal child or a wayward sister or brother? Whatever it might be, roll up your sleeves and pray. Believe the all-sufficient God for a positive outcome to your difficult situation. And work up a good sweat as you continue to do that which God says is pleasing to Him, evidencing to all that your faith is a sweaty faith that works and drips for God’s glory.

Yes, perhaps hope does float, but I know this to be true – real faith sweats!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Back in the Saddle Again...

I have been chastised! My wife just told me that she doesn't look at my blog because I write so infrequently. I asked her what she wanted to read and she said, "Anything. Just write anything. Tell me about your running or about anything going on in your life. Just write something." So, I am making a commitment to myself right now - I plan on blogging for the next 21 days straight in an effort to build a habit of blogging and move this from the last item on my "To Do" list to a more prominent position. So I am back in the old blogger saddle again - in a big way... (Well, we'll see! LOL)

Regarding running, I am back in the saddle there too. In early January I stressed my left calf and pulled a muscle deep within. It was not the big muscle you can feel and see, it was one of the smaller ones imbedded deeper inside the calf. I am usually able to run through pain to a fairly strong degree, but not this. When it occurred I limped the 1 1/2 miles home and didn't run for 4 days. When I started back I was able to go less than 1/2 mile when again I found myself walking home. So, I put my running shoes on the shelf in my closet for 41 days with no running whatsoever. I maintained fitness through cycling, but runners are biased and have an attitude towards riding a bike. It did serve a purpose and help me keep my aerobic training up so that at the end of the respite, I was able to run fairly well. I have been running again for less than 2 weeks but all seems well at this moment.

February and the first week of March were my travel months for IMB and SBTC. I found myself flying somewhere 5 out of 6 weeks in a row. I was usually only away 2 or 3 days, but that much time away from family and the office takes a toll. Glad to be anchored down in Odessa and not heading anywhere until the May IMB meetings.

Okay, so I have blogged today. I feel like it was rather trivial and of no significant value but day 1 is in the bank and I am back in the saddle again. So stay tuned and what follows will have more substance in the days ahead – I promise. In fact, I have been preaching a sermon from Hebrews 11 on the radical nature of faith. So in the days ahead, look for some thoughts related to faith and the absolute necessity of faith to please God. It will be fun!