Olympian Effort: The Race or the Finish?

abbottTeam USA hasn’t won a gold medal in women’s Olympic cycling since 1984, but fans thought Mara Abbott was going to end that drought.   With a 40 second lead on Sunday, Abbott was positioned to win the gold.

With 200 meters left in the race, Abbott thought her dreams were about to become reality, but the last 150 meters along scenic Copacabana Beach became a nightmare. Anna van der Breggen of the Netherlands, Sweden’s Emma Johansson and Italy’s Elisa Longo Borghini had been chasing Abbott for most of the race, and the three of them passed the race-weary Abbott.

When bicyclists think of this race, will they remember Abbott for her effort or for her 4th place finish?

Fortunately, finishing in 1st place is not a prerequisite to pleasing God. In his letter to Timothy, Paul said: I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.  Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that Day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved his appearing (I Timothy 4:7-8).

I applaud the effort, discipline, and dedication of Mara Abbott and Team USA; and, I cheer for you as you fight the good fight.

The Slave From Syria

road-signGod looks at the clean hands, not the full ones.” These are the words of Publilius, a Latin writer who  was born in 85 BC and was a contemporary of Cicero. His beginnings were rather humble in that he made the trip from Syria to Italy as a slave. Due to his quick wit, and abundant talent, he won the favor of his Italian master who educated him and then gave him his freedom.

 Publilius is credited with saying: “Etiam capillus unus habet umbram” which is a Latin phrase that means: “Even one hair has a shadow.”

Every thought that you think and every deed that you do is like a strand of hair. It has a shadow or consequence, and each follicle can be as diabolical as it is delightful.

When  Solomon wrote the Proverbs, he focused on the evil and regal motives of the heart and the consequences of both:  “The wicked,” said Solomon,  “will be snared by their own wrongdoing. Their flaws will tie their own hands, and they will be dragged through life by the cords of their sins (5:22 ~The Voice).”

Like Solomon, Paul knew a person would either live the live of the foolhardy or hardly be a fool. When Paul wrote to the Christians at Rome, he advised them to be know for their discretion, not their many transgressions: “Put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light.  (Romans 13:12 ~NIV).”

Paul continued this theme when he instructed Timothy to “Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share.  In this way they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life (I Timothy 6:18-19~NIV).”

When you read the verses above, could you see the shadow of the good deeds?  Paul said the consequence of a good deed and a generous spirit is treasure or rewards in heaven.

The quote below is from an unknown source.  As you read it, think about the long shadow it casts on this discussion.   Notice the rhythm and flow of the consequences of your thoughts and your deeds.

Watch your thoughts, they become words;

Watch your words, they become actions;

Watch your actions, they become habits;

Watch your habits, they become character;

Watch your character, for it becomes your destiny.

Coming to America or Becoming an American

head-heart-hands-conceptThis is one of those moments in history that we need to make sure we are thinking with our heads and not our hearts.  When I see the images of suffering refugees and dying children my heart says do something; however, my head says be cautious because of comments made by, Michael McCaul, the Chairmen of Homeland Security:

“We’re a compassionate nation and this is a tragic situation but I also have to be concerned as Chairman of Homeland Security about the safety of Americans in this country and the concern that I have and that the FBI testified to is that we don’t really have the proper databases on these individuals to vet them passed and to assure we’re not allowing terrorists to come into this country and until I have that assurance, I cannot support a program that could potentially bring jihadists into the United States,” Chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee Michael McCaul said in an interview with Fox News Monday. “We don’t know who these people are and I think that’s the bottom line here and until we know who they are, we cannot responsibly bring them into the United States . . . Both the Department of Homeland Security and the FBI have told me privately that they don’t support bringing in Syrian refugees because of the threat they pose to Americans.”

clintonIn the name of immigration, Hillary Clinton says we should open the doors of American to another 65,000 refugees from Syria.  The real question of concern is this:  Does coming to America mean becoming an American?

When America was the melting pot of the world, immigrants aspired to  learning our language, embracing our principles, and blending in with our culture.  Immigration has been redefined.

When refugees come to America today, too many of them never learn our language or blend into our culture.  Their desire is to be a hyphenated-pocket-American.  In the case of the Syrian refugees, many of them will want to remain distinctly Syrian and may well move to a community that is already calling for the establishment of Sharia Law. This is not the form of immigration that was practiced in the early years of our nations history.

I’m not some xenophobic nut, and I know these comments may be politically incorrect; however, before you call my concerns unfounded, I suggest you read the information below:

  • We need to consider the actions of countries that are experienced in dealing with refugees from Islamic nations: http://goo.gl/U6qUa2
  • The response of Hungary’s President, Victor Orban:  http://goo.gl/SxGrFU 
  • American laws for American courts: http://goo.gl/eyxtuy

Call me stupid, but I think coming to American should mean becoming an American.

Hope 134

hope-handThe landscape of religion experienced a seismic shift in 1517 when Martin Luther nailed his 95 Theses to the church door at Wittenburg. After an in-depth study of the book of Romans, Luther believed that the just should live by faith, and that the selling of “indulgences” was contrary to the teachings of the Bible.

Like many Christians, Luther’s life had its highs and low. These peaks and valleys prompted him to say: “We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope.”

In regard to hope, Rick Warren has said: “What gives me the most hope every day is God’s grace; knowing that his grace is going to give me the strength for whatever I face, knowing that nothing is a surprise to God.”

Hope is a frequent theme found throughout the New Testament:

• In Romans 12:12, we are told to rejoice in hope, to be patient in tribulation, and to continue steadfastly in prayer
• A prayer of Paul in Romans 15 was, “the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”
• In his letter to the church at Galatia, Paul said: “we through the Spirit eagerly wait for the hope of righteousness by faith”
• Peter reveals the source of our hope in I Peter 1:3: “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead”

I’ve never claimed to be a mathematical genius, but I do know a simple equation that forms the basis of our hope: 1 cross + 3 nails = 4 given. Hope 134 can make a seismic shift in your life.

Like the old gospel hymn says: My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus blood and righteousness.