What’s Your QQ – Quit Quotient?

(Quotient Quizes #5) One of the most incredible sports stories occurred 30 years ago in the state of Alabama at Troy University.   This 30-year anniversary will be celebrated at Troy by the young men and their families who participated on the 1987 championship baseball team.  Let me tell you about Warren Arrington, a young man who played a significant part in making that championship possible.

In the 1980’s, I went each week to Jeff Davis High School here in Montgomery to meet with different athletic teams and speak to them.  It was a rich experience for me.  For about 10 years I witnessed some state championships. 

One of those outstanding athletes was a football and baseball player named Warren Arrington.  He had great athletic skill and a great attitude about life.  Warren went to Troy University on a baseball scholarship. 

In 1987, Troy was in a one-game playoff to determine who from their conference would advance to the college playoffs.  Troy was trailing by 2 runs in the bottom of the 9th inning with 2 outs. 

Warren Arrington was the batter.  He hit a routine grounder to the 3rd baseman who could throw it to 1st and Troy’s season would be over.  But Warren was fast and ran as hard as he had ever run to 1st base.  The 1st baseman juggled the catch, and Warren was safe.  Instead of being the end of the game and season, Troy had new life!  With 2 outs, the next 3 batters got base hits.  Troy scored 3 runs and won the conference title!

This sent them to the regional playoffs where they won and then went to the national championship game at Patterson Field in Montgomery.  Troy won, and they were crowned national champions.  It’s so important to never give up! 

It all goes back to that one play, 2 outs, trailing by 2 runs, and most players would have run routinely to 1st base ending the game.  But Warren’s “never quit” attitude was that he still had a chance – and he made good on that opportunity.  Because of that, Troy has a national championship, and Warren was named an All-American.  As the old saying goes, “Winners never quit and quitters never win!”

The current baseball coach, Mark Smart, played 2nd base on that championship team.  Recently I was speaking to 400 baseball coaches at their annual convention in Birmingham, and I didn’t know Coach Smart was there.  He was pleasantly surprised when I used this illustration in my talk on never giving up. 

I talked with Warren Arrington recently, and I asked him about that historic moment.  He said he was always coached to “never give up.”  He said, “You have to give it all you’ve got until it’s over.”  That’s a great attitude toward life.  That attitude helped produce a national championship and a championship life!

Never quit!  Don’t include the word quit in your vocabulary.  I like what someone said about Napoleon – “He didn’t know the word quit – he didn’t know English!”

Never quit!  “Stay with God!  Take heart.  Don’t quit” (Psalm 27:14 MSG).  “Anyone who meets a testing challenge head-on and manages to stick it out is mighty fortunate . . . the reward is life and more life” (James 1:12 MSG).  “Staying with it – that’s what is required.  Stay with it to the end.  You won’t be sorry; you’ll be saved” (Luke 21:19 MSG).

What is your QQ – Quit Quotient?

What’s Your WQ – Winning Quotient?

Quotient Quizes #4 – There’s an old comment often used in sports that says, “It’s not over till it’s over.”  This statement could not be more true than what we have experienced in 6 major sporting events in the last year.  All 6 were considered to be over, but they weren’t over because the opponents came back and won.  The WQ – winning quotient – was small but decisive.

The Australia Open is one of the four major tennis tournaments each year.  This year, the finals featured two surprise players – Roger Federer and Rafa Nadal.  Those names are very familiar, but neither one had won in quite some time.  Both of them had sat out the latter part of last year with injuries.  Their match went five sets.  In the 5th set, everybody thought it was over when Nadal broke Federer’s serve.  But it wasn’t over for Federer until he won the last point!  It wasn’t over till it was over!

The Big Dance – college basketball’s best 67 teams – was really something.  In the finals, North Carolina hit an unbelievable jump shot to go ahead with 5 seconds left.  Everybody thought the game was over.  However, Villanova hit a long 3-pointer that won the game 77-74.  It wasn’t over till it was over!

The NBA finals featured Cleveland going for its first professional sports basketball championship in many years.  Golden State jumped ahead 3 games to 1 – everybody thought it was over.  But Cleveland came back to win 2 games and tie it 3-3.  The final game was played at Golden State.  The Warriors were ahead, and everybody thought it was over, but LeBron James made an incredible block of a shot and Kyle Irving then scored a basket to win.  It wasn’t over till it was over!

The World Series featured the Chicago Cubs.  They hadn’t won a World Series in more years than anybody could remember.  The Cubs were down 3 games to1.  They came back to send the Series to a 7th game.  At different points in the 7th game, one team went ahead, and people thought it was over.  The Cubs came through with a 1-run win in the 10th inning.  It wasn’t over till it was over!

The national college football championship was a rematch from the previous year.  Alabama and Clemson battled hard, and one team took the lead and then the other.  Alabama went ahead with little time on the clock.  Everybody thought it was over, but Clemson scored with 6 seconds left.  It wasn’t over till it was over!

In the recent 51st Super Bowl, Atlanta jumped out to a 21-3 halftime lead.  They increased the lead in the 3rd quarter to 28-3.  Everybody thought it was over.  Atlanta had an 8-point lead with 4 minutes left on the clock, and had the ball at the Patriots’ 20-yard line.  All Ryan had to do was run the ball and kick a field goal.  Everybody thought it was over.  The Patriots tied the score then won in overtime 34-28.  It’s not over till it’s over!

Sports ought to teach us that nobody should ever give up on any thing or any body.  It may appear to be over, but it’s not over until it’s over.  Don’t ever give up on the possibility of winning!  Expand your WQ!

What are you engaged in that you might think may be over?  Are you facing something where you think you can’t succeed?  Are you praying for somebody without seeing results?  Are you facing a situation that seems hopeless?  Remember, it’s not over till it’s over.

When 3 million Israelites reached the Red Sea, they told Moses they wanted to go back to Egypt because they thought it was over.  But Moses knew that when you follow God’s guidance, it’s never over!  Moses’ WQ prevailed!  Read Exodus 14.

What’s your WQ – Winning Quotient?

What’s Your TQ – Team Quotient?

(Second in a series – Quotient Quizes)  You have an IQ – Intelligence Quotient – for which you’ve been tested.  What is your TQ – Team Quotient?

Bear Bryant said, “Individuals win awards – teams win games.”  He always emphasized building a team.  He knew about winning.

This was illustrated in the recent National Championship football game between Clemson and Alabama.  Both are great teams and had a lot of high-profile players who are going to the pros.  But one team executed perfectly the last play.

That decisive play occurred when two guys, who are evaluated on the opposite ends of the spectrum of talent, worked together to win the game.  Deshaun Watson was a five-star recruit and at Clemson was a two-time finalist for the Heisman Award.  With six seconds left on the clock, and trailing by four points, he threw a touchdown pass to Hunter Renfrew, a “zero recruit.”

Hunter was described as a “five-foot nothing” receiver.  He drew no attention as a prospect when he came out of high school.  He turned down a scholarship to play at Appalachian State because he wanted to play at Clemson.  He walked on.  Renfrew looked like he would fit in better with Clemson’s Computer Science program than performing at a football facility.

But Renfrew became a vital part of Clemson’s National Championship team.  In that championship game, Clemson ran 99 offensive plays.  Renfrew was on the field for 98 of them.  (Don’t know where he was on that other play.)  Clemson teammate Artavis Scott refers to Renfrew as “just a little sniper.  When you look at him you think, ‘who is this white receiver?’  He lulls people to sleep, and he’s an amazing guy.”  Teammate Wayne Gallman, said, “He’s just one of the greatest receivers I’ve seen at Clemson.”

The win came because everybody functioned together as a team.  Read I Cor. 12.  The coaches had to call the right play.  The rest of the team on the sidelines was cheering.  Eleven players on the field executed together.  The offensive line blocked, and the five-star African-American player threw a pass to a white walk-on – all of them together.  Teams win.

Two guys walked out of Raymond James Stadium as national champions.  They both are strong Christians and gave credit to what God was doing in their lives, and they gave credit for the victory to their team mates.  Deshaun and Hunter come from different racial backgrounds, different talent evaluations, different sizes – but they both were important parts of the team.

Together gets it done.  Someone has said, “We may not have it all together, but together we have it all.”  And that’s not just a picture for athletics and business, but for the Church and for life.

When you read the book of Revelation, you see described a lot of great music in Heaven.  You don’t find any solos – it’s all the company of Heaven as a great chorus singing together.  Life is not a solo – it’s a chorus, a team, a group of folks who win together. (Tweet this)

What’s your TQ – Team Quotient?

What Is Your CQ – Change Quotient?

First in a Series of Quotient Quizes:

You have an IQ – Intelligence Quotient – for which you’ve been tested.  What is your CQ – Change Quotient?  How do you test in your CQ?

Regardless of who you pull for, you have to recognize that Alabama football has been at the top of the ladder for the past few years.  They have won four National Championships out of the last eight years.  Some people are referring to it as a dynasty.  But it didn’t happen accidentally.

There were two high-profile college coaches at the beginning of the 2016 season.  One was Les Miles at LSU, and the other was Nick Saban at Alabama.  They both had National Championship titles and incredible records in the past.  At the end of the 2016 season, only one of them was still coaching his team.

Les Miles was fired.  How did this happen?  Most experts say he refused to change and adapt to the way football is played in 2016.  He repeatedly was told that there had to be some innovative things in offense, but changes did not occur.  Some people even described him as “stubborn.”  His outdated style of football cost him his job.

On the other hand, Nick Saban was always “in the process” of changing.  About four or five years ago he began adapting to the way football was being played, and his “process” was not something cast in stone, but something that was flexible to relate to the best way to play football.  A few years ago he was one of the biggest critics of the no-huddle, hurry-up offense.  He soon saw that the no-huddle, hurry-up offense had a lot to offer.  Today, his process has changed to incorporate often the no-huddle offense, and in most games Alabama runs more plays than the opposition!  That’s a change.

Recently Alabama defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt was asked, “If somebody told you six years ago Nick Saban would be going no-huddle and tempo, would you have believed it?”  Pruitt said, “Ah, no, probably not.”

OJ Howard, the most valuable player in 2016’s National Championship game, said in a recent interview that he was amazed at the transformation of the Alabama offense from the power run and attack his freshman year to an offense that features the improvising talents of freshman quarterback Jalen Hurts. Howard said, “It’s crazy to see how much we have changed since my freshman year. If you were to pitch to me during my recruitment that we would be running this type of offense, I wouldn’t have believed it.  It just shows the process of Coach Nick Saban and his willingness to change is what keeps him successful.”  He changed his CQ.

Whether it’s football, business, church, or life – if you don’t know how to navigate change, you won’t be successful or keep your job very long.  The challenge of change is to change rather than challenge the change. (Tweet this)  It’s always easy to challenge it, but the real challenge is how can we use it best!  Improve your CQ!

The wise man Solomon said, “The intelligent man is always open to new ideas.  In fact he looks for them” (Prov. 18:15).  Someone said “if you’re not standing on top of the wave of change, you will find yourself under it.”

Start the year by analyzing what things you need to change – and change them.  Remember there are some things that never change, such as the message of hope from Jesus.  Paul said, “Let me remind you brothers, for it has not changed – it is the same good news I preached to you before.  You welcomed it then and still do now, for your faith is squarely built upon this wonderful message” (I Cor. 15:1).  God’s message of hope and redemption never changes.

What is your CQ?

A Different Look at Winning

Football coaches are always under pressure to win.  Their win/loss record is publicized.  Winning is important.  But does scoring the most points always determine the winner?  Here is an illustration that helps you answer that.

The 6A high school championship in 2016 was played between Opelika and Ramsay.  I had a special interest in the game because I graduated from Opelika and played quarterback on the football team my senior year.  Opelika had lost in the state championship game in 2012 to Hoover.  This made the fan base for Opelika even more excited about this year.  They estimated that 20,000 people from Opelika were at Jordan-Hare Stadium for the championship game.

It was a close ball game with Opelika leading most of the first half.  An extremely interesting play occurred in the fourth quarter.  Ramsay, holding 21-14 lead, was on its own 14-yard line and had a 4th down and 27 yards to go for a first down.  The Ramsay quarterback was also the punter and decided they didn’t need to kick and called for a fake punt.  Who would ever expect a play such as that!  Because nobody was expecting it,  it was the reason it worked, and the pass was completed and covered 29 yards to get the first down.

The play occurred so unexpectedly and so quickly that it caught everybody off guard, including the Opelika defense and the game’s referees.  When the fake kick ended, everybody raced to the 43-yard line.  Ramsay lined up, snapped the ball before anyone could comprehend what had happened.  Actually, the player who received the pass was an ineligible receiver, but the referees didn’t stop the game to analyze it.  Ramsay went on to win the game by 5 points, 21-16.

After the game, the referees were very apologetic and admitted they had missed the call.  It should have been a penalty instead of a game-changing play.  The referees even reported their mistake to the Alabama High School Athletic Association.

Brian Blackmon is the head coach at Opelika.  He is a winner!  At the post-game interview when everybody conceded that a mistake had been made on that fake punt, Coach Blackmon could have been angry and blamed the referees for causing Opelika to lose the game, and that could have been justified.  But instead, he took the high road.  Even though most of the fan base was vocally lamenting the fact of the bad call, he elected to show the kind of character that he teaches his players.

He calmly said that all of us make mistakes.  He said he had made a couple of mistakes in some of the plays that he called during the game.  The referees made a mistake.  He said that he taught his boys to respect authority, and the referees are the authority, so they were going to respect them and accept the bad call they made.  He handled it with class!  He lived out what he taught his players.  In my book, he is a winner even though my team scored the fewer points.  I am proud to be an alumnus of a school that has a coach like that!

High school referees have a tough assignment.  They have to make instant decisions and don’t have the advantage of a replay camera.  They need to be respected, not booed and criticized by the fans.

This year showed a marked decrease in people who applied to serve as referees in the Alabama High School Athletic Association.  It’s the first time that has happened.  I understand that the same trend has occurred throughout the nation.  Less people are applying to serve as referees at the high school level.

I played sports throughout high school and college.  Referees are human.  They, like athletes, make mistakes.  We need to create a culture where they are affirmed and encouraged.  Thank or hug a referee today!

Thank you, Coach Blackmon, for winning in the category that most of your players, fans and fellow coaches will remember for a lifetime!

Spending Time with Titus

Some people cause happiness wherever they go – others whenever they go!  (Tweet this)  This was a powerful truth that I heard my father repeat many times.  The presence of some people in a room brings negativism and doom – the presence of other people brings hope and excitement.

When Paul wrote to his friends at Corinth, he indicated that he and his companions had come to Macedonia and had little time to rest.  He said there was trouble all around them.  He said that within their hearts they were full of dread and fear.  At this time, God changed the whole situation.  Paul said, “The God who cheers those who are discouraged refreshed us by the arrival of TitusNot only was his presence a joy, but also the news he brought of the wonderful time he had with you . . . I overflowed with joy” (2 Cor. 7:5-7).

Wow!  Titus was a game changer!  He turned trouble and conflict into joy.  His presence changed dread and fear into joy and celebration!  Titus was an encourager!

Encouragement is so important.  Some people motivate others by kicking them in the seat of the pants.  Others motivate by giving a pat on the back.  It’s only an 8-inch distance difference – but it can be a huge distance difference in how far it carries the one who receives it!

A little encouragement can change a person’s life.  I read about an executive who was often heard praising his assistant for her extraordinary efficiency.  People often heard him.  A business associate visited his office and began a conversation with this assistant.  He said, “Your boss claims you are extremely efficient.  What is your secret?”

The lady replied, “It’s not my secret, it’s his.  Every time I do something for him no matter how insignificant, he never fails to acknowledge and appreciate it.  His thoughtfulness encourages me to take infinite pains with my work.”  Encouragement is extremely important and very easy for us to give.  It doesn’t cost much, but makes other persons rich in their lives.  Each of us has a treasure of kind words which, if given freely and lavishly, can make a difference in somebody else’s life.

A little boy learned about receiving and giving encouragement when he began to discover that he had a lot of bright freckles on his face.  He didn’t think he looked very good.  One day his elderly grandmother took him to the zoo.  All the children were standing in line to get their cheeks painted by a local artist who decorated them with tiger paws.

The little boy got in line, but immediately a little girl in the line said, “you got so many freckles there is no place to paint!”  The boy was thoroughly embarrassed and almost started to cry.

His grandmother knelt down next to him and said, “I love your freckles.  When I was a little girl I always wanted freckles.  Freckles are beautiful.”  The boy looked up at his grandmother and said, “Really?”  She said, “Yes!  You just name me one thing that is prettier than freckles.”  The little boy thought for a few minutes, then looked intensely into her eyes and softly whispered, “Wrinkles.”

The word “encouragement” literally means to put courage into.  In French, “coeur” is the word for heart.  Encouragement means you put heart or courage into somebody!

Spend time with Titus.  Let Titus teach you and walk with you so that you can imitate him and be a game changer.  Like Titus, create happiness wherever you go – not whenever you go!

Living in the FOG

I was visiting with a friend recently who had a pleasant countenance about him.  I posed a question we often just ask without thinking.  I asked, “How are ‘ya doin’?”  I must admit that often times when I ask that question I don’t really listen to the answer because I expect a “stock answer” like the “stock question.”

However, on this occasion I did listen and was amazed.  My friend replied, “I’m living in the fog.”  My first reaction was surprise, and the thought occurred that the response was rather odd.  I thought of it as possibly being negative.  Who wants to live in the fog?  It sounds like you are depressed, grieving or confused!

I quickly asked my friend, “What do you mean by that answer?”  He said, “Living in the fog means I’m living in the Favor Of God.”  Wow, that was an answer that caught me by surprise.  It was one that also convicted me and prompted some introspection of my own life.  It’s a wonderful way to live in 2017.

The Favor Of God – that’s a great focus for each day.  It dawned on me that I always have a choice.  I can either live in the negative where I see how bad things are – they look like a dense fog early in the morning that impedes the ability to see well.  Or my choice can be positive – that the fog refers to the Favor Of God.  Living in God’s favor makes a huge difference in how I live each day.

Living in the FOG makes every day refreshing.  Life can become tough and barren.  We need refreshing.  Solomon said, “His favor refreshes like a gentle rain” (Prov. 16:15).  He later reminds that God’s favor is like “dew on the grass” (Prov. 19:12).

Living in the FOG reveals to us that God can do anything.  He is constantly redefining the possible.  Nothing is too big for Him.  He provides everything that we need.

When the people of Israel began to question God and spoke against Him, the Psalmist David said, “Can God prepare a table in the wilderness?  Behold He struck the rock so that waters gushed out and streams were overflowing.  Can you have bread also?  Will he provide meat for his people . . . God commanded the clouds above and opened the doors of Heaven, and He rained down manna upon them to eat and gave them food from Heaven.  He gave them food in abundance.  He caused the east wind to blow in the heavens, and by His power He directed the south wind.  He rained meat upon them like the dust” (Ps. 78:19 ff).

Living in the FOG means that we live in abundance.  God doesn’t just provide “almost enough;” He provides more than we could ever need.  As David reminds us that He doesn’t just provide 50 percent or 75 percent of what we need.  He provides until our “cups are running over” (Psalm 23:5).

Living in the FOG fosters trust and direction.  David said, “You will find favor with God . . .” (Prov. 3:4).  The result of this is we can trust in the Lord with all our hearts, not depend on our own understanding, and seek His will in all we do so He can direct our paths (Prov. 3:5).

Living in the FOG doesn’t mean that we do everything perfectly.  We make mistakes which can easily become a burden.  But when we live in the FOG we can experience the mercy of God (Is. 60:10).

Living in the FOG makes it possible for us to view everyday as a day of possibilities, hope, rejoicing, and accomplishments.  This is the day that the Lord has made, we will rejoice and be glad in it! (Ps. 118:24).  The FOG sets the “climate” for an attitude of gratitude regardless of what we face.

2017 Weather forecast:  FOG everyday!  Live in the FOG!

Two Christmas Questions

One of the real highlights of Christmas is the presentation of the animated classic A Charlie Brown Christmas.  When Charles Schulz started thinking about creating this television possibility, all the major networks were hesitant.  They weren’t sure that this would work.  Finally, one network agreed, so the cartoonist proceeded.

Everybody has favorite parts of the classic.  We love to see Lucy’s reaction as Snoopy kissed her.  We all felt bad for Charlie Brown when the gang turned on him and called him a “blockhead.”

My favorite part of the classic is when a frustrated Charlie Brown steps up and cries out, “Isn’t there anyone who knows what Christmas is all about?”  Then Linus comes out to center stage, requests the spot light, wraps his blanket around his head, and begins reciting Luke 2, the story of Jesus’ birth.  Linus then says, “That’s what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown.”

Linus got it right!  That is what Christmas is really about!

I have always been inspired by the boldness of Charles Schulz to include Charlie Brown’s question and Linus’ answer.  I have read that while A Charlie Brown Christmas was being developed, the producers again warned Schulz that including the Luke 2 scene in the special would probably jeopardize its marketability.  Some of the experts were convinced that the religious message would definitely cause it to be rejected by the networks.

I love Charles Schulz’s response.  Those warnings did not deter him.  He had conviction.  His response was, “If not us, then who is going to do it?”

I think we are at a point in society today where we need to stand up and not be so sensitive about what people might think if we tell the real meaning of Christmas.   We can’t let commercial enterprises or people committed to secular values keep us from answering Charlie Brown’s question.

Dedra Shannon, a teacher at Patterson Middle School in Killeen, Texas, was told she had to remove her poster featuring Linus, the scrawny tree, and the beautiful recitation of the true meaning of Christmas.  She was basically told that Linus could stay, but the Baby Jesus had to go.  Dedra Shannon refused to compromise her Christian belief.

When Ken Paxton, the Texas Attorney General, heard about it, he acted.  He cited the “Merry Christmas Law of 2013” which prevented this kind of discrimination.  Paxton said to leave the poster up.  Todd Starnes reports it this way:  “Ken Paxton decided it was time to jingle somebody’s bells.  He dropped a big Yuletide Truth bomb on Killeen Independence School District.  His message was that you don’t mess with Texas and you don’t mess with Christmas, or you might just find your tinsel in a twist!”

I’m glad that the teacher, the Attorney General of Texas, and many others, have stepped up to answer correctly the question that Charles Schulz asked.  May God increase their tribe!

Here are two big questions for Christmas:  “What is Christmas all about?” and “Do you and I have the courage to answer like Schulz – ‘If not us, then who is going to do it?’”

Ask God to grade your answers to these two questions!

The Most Beautiful House at Christmas

One of the very important parts of Christmas is decorating the house.  Most everybody does some kind of decorations for their house or apartment.  Some neighborhoods give a prize to the best decorated house.  Part of Christmas for many families is driving around town and looking at beautifully decorated houses.

The most beautifully decorated house is not found in Montgomery or Alabama or The United States.  It is in Bethlehem.  It is a manger.  It is the place that housed the birth of Jesus Christ.  Let me describe that house.

  1. Simple – It was a simple house. It was not designed by an architect nor built by a famous contractor.  It didn’t take a long time to build.  It was just a manger – a feeding trough in a cave.  It didn’t have electricity; it didn’t have high-speed internet.  There was no media center in it; it wasn’t on the Parade of Homes.  It was just a simple cattle shed or cave.  Maybe we would enjoy Christmas more if we kept it simpler.  Our calendars are filled with so many parties, all the gift-buying, food-preparation and events that Christmas becomes very complicated.  Maybe we can learn something about making our Christmas a simple celebration – focusing on the real meaning of Christmas.
  2. Serene – It was a house where peace prevailed. It was the birthplace for the Prince of Peace.  The shepherds had just heard the angel say, “Don’t be afraid.  I’ve got Good News for you!” (Luke 2:10)  It was the birthplace of the One who said, “My peace I give to you, the peace not as the world gives” (John 14:27).  This peace was later described as the peace that passes all understanding (Phil. 4:7).
  3. Singing – It was a singing house. The entire Christmas story is punctuated with music.  Some of the great musical renditions come from the songs recorded in Luke 1 and 2.  When Gabriel announced the coming of Christ to the Virgin Mary, he gave words to Ava Maria.  When Zechariah discovered Elizabeth was pregnant with John the Baptist, you see the words of the Benedictus.  When Mary discovered she was pregnant with God’s Son, we find the inspiration for the Magnificat.  When the angel announced the Good News to the shepherds, they sang together Gloria in Excelsis Deo.
  4. Spacious – It was a spacious house. I don’t know how big your house is, but it isn’t as big as that first Christmas house.  You might have more square feet, but the house where Jesus was born was bigger because it stretched out to the whole world.  The most beautiful house isn’t measured by square feet – but rather by the size of the welcome mat.  Do we receive people, and are they welcome when we go outside our small, immediate family?
  5. Special – The first Christmas house was special because it was the place where God presented His Son to the world. It was a vehicle for God to become a man and live among all of us humans.  “The Word became flesh and dwelt among us (John 1:14).  Our lives can be special because it is through us that the Light of Hope and Peace can shine.  The Bible reminds us that we are the light to the world.  We should let our lights shine (Mat. 5:16).  Jesus has entrusted His Light and His Truth to us to share with others!  That’s so special!
  6. Sacrificial – This house was sacrificial because it was the birthplace of the One who would sacrifice His life for the sins of all mankind. I want you to grasp how sacrificial that house was.  The baby who was born was to become the perfect lamb to be sacrificed.  Jesus was described as the Lamb that was unblemished and spotless (I Peter 1:9), and Luke 23 describes how they carried Him up to a cross and crucified Him.  He was willing to sacrifice His life in order that I might have life.  Are we willing to sacrifice our money, time, pleasure, ambition, etc. so other people might find hope and help?

The most beautiful house at Christmas is in Bethlehem.  Does my house look like the Bethlehem house?

Strong To The Finish

Doug Amos is a recognized sports leader in the River Region.  He works with the athletic program at Troy and formerly worked with Faulkner.  He hosts a two-hour sports talk show every day.

He recently created a new hour-long radio program entitled “Strong to the Finish” that airs at 7:00 pm on Wednesday nights at 97.5 FM and 101.5 FM and re-airs at 8:00 am on Sunday mornings at 97.5 FM and 101.5 FM and on ESPN The Ticket.  The byline is “Balancing passion for God with love for Sports.”  My friend Jere Beasley sponsors the program.  I was recently Doug’s guest on his program on November 30.  You can listen to this program on https://soundcloud.com/strongtothefinish (or just Google “Doug Amos Strong to the Finish”).

Strong to the finish – I like that title.  We are now winding down 2016.  All of us set some goals and made some resolutions at the first of this year.  Are we completing them?  We don’t have much time left – will we be strong to the finish, or will we be distracted or settle for something less than what we ought to accomplish?

The Guinness World Records recently designated Israel Kristal as the world’s oldest man at age 113.  He was born in Poland and missed his bar mitzvah – his Jewish coming-of-age ceremony – because World War I was raging when he turned 13.  At age 113, his family, who were Auschwitz survivors, decided it was time to hold this long-overdue bar mitzvah.  His children, grandchildren, and 30 great-grandchildren attended

Israel had a goal, it was interrupted by the circumstances of life, but he never gave up.  I am sure he is the oldest Jewish “boy” to celebrate his bar mitzvah.  He was strong to the finish.

Turia Pitt is an avid physical fitness person.  About 5 years ago, this Australian mining engineer was caught in a brush fire during an outback ultra marathon.  She suffered burns to 65 percent of her body, and she spent 864 days in the hospital.  She had over 200 operations.  She lost the use of 7 of her fingers.

But being a physical fitness fanatic, she set a goal to compete in an Iron Man contest.  Doctors didn’t think she would ever walk again, much less be able to compete, but she had a goal.  She wanted to be strong to the finish.

She recently completed the prestigious Ironman World Championship in Hawaii.  She swam 2.4 miles, cycled 112 miles, and ran 26.2 miles.  She finished in 14 hours 37 minutes and 30 seconds.  She said she was “really bloody proud!”  She had a goal, and she was determined to finish it.  She did.  She was strong to the finish.

A little girl went with her father through the slums of Chicago.  She saw poor children.  She said, “One day I am going to build a house among the poor people so the little children can play in my yard.”  The little girl suffered from spinal curvature which caused tremendous pain.  She went to medical school but had to drop out because of poor health.  She took courses in social service, and finally was able to secure a house in the slums of Chicago.  She had a dream.  She opened her door to the poor and needy of every race and creed.  She later received the Nobel Prize for Peace. 

Her name was Jane Addams, and the Hull House in Chicago put her name in immortality.  She was always faithful to that dream.  She was determined to finish strong.

The Bible says that “finishing is better than starting . . .” (Eccl. 7:8).  At the end of his life, Paul wrote to Timothy, “I fought a good fight, I have finished my course.  I have kept the faith.”  He was strong to the finish. 

What do you need to finish in 2016?  It’s easy to make excuses or be distracted.  Will that keep you from finishing strong?  Is what you settle for worth it?  My dad used to say “If you don’t finish it now, when will you have time to finish it later?”

Be strong to the finish!