My alarm goes off at 4:45am. I get up and get moving toward the coffee source. I gather my gear and head to swim practice with the local US Masters team that kicks off at 5:30am. I do this two to three times per week. It keeps me in shape and typically brings me a good deal of pleasure.
The swim team is a great group of folks of various ages, ethnicities and skill levels. There are some very talented swimmers in the pool every day.
Over the last year, I have been struggling with my swim and a cloud of frustration seemed to lay over me. I didn’t notice how bad it had gotten until a couple days ago. I mean, swimming is my favorite sport. I really enjoy it. Or do I? The thought of ‘hanging it up’ had crossed my mind a couple times over the last couple months. That has never happened before.
Every morning when I show up to practice, this hotshot college swimmer jumps into my lane. He seems to only show up to practice when I’m there. Sometimes, I’m warming up in a lane alone and he jumps into my lane. He is way faster than me and he lets me know it.
Boy does this cocky punk get under my skin. Everyday I’m in the pool, he’s there talking smack to me. I get pissed off and begin swimming harder and harder – not concentrating on my stroke. I’m just pounding the water and feel like I’m treading water or (worse) swimming backwards! He just laughs and blazes right passed me, leaving me in his wake. He steals my enjoyment with every lap.
After Tuesday’s practice, I had a conversation with a guy who’s about my age and swims on the team as well. He’s a solid swimmer and continues to swim competitively. I was complaining about my swimming and shared my frustration. You see, I swam competitively in high school and college. I wasn’t always the fastest swimmer but I was a good and I could hold my own. I was sprinter. Short races were my specialty. However, at 44 years old, I was frustrated and I expressed that to my teammate.
He said, “I’m not as fast as I was when I was younger. But that’s okay – I focus on the future.” We parted ways and I went home not thinking much of it.
A couple hours later it hit me! I admitted to myself that the hotshot college punk swimmer in my lane everyday was ME. I was trying to compete with a 20 year old me. There is no way I can do that at 44 years old. Do you know what? That is just fine. There are a ton of things I can do at 44 that I could not even dream of doing at 20.
When I jumped into my lane this morning, the college punk didn’t show up. I focused on swimming into the future. It was one of the most enjoyable swims I’ve had in a long time. I stopped my teammate after practice and thanked him for his encouraging words. He said, “We just need to keep reminding each other to focus on the future.”
It’s interesting how we let our self-talk influence our mindset. How past experiences, both positive and negative affect our lives today. Sometimes it takes a few words from someone else to open our eyes and change our outlook.
Do not let the younger you criticize you today. Past mistakes, failings, triumphs and victories do not define you today. Focus on the future. As your physical strength quotient declines, your wisdom and experience quotient increases. There is more joy to be had in the future than in the past.
Focus on the future, Encourage someone else today and NEVER EVER QUIT!
“Your own performance is either improved or diminished by the other people in your scenario.”
The other day, I went to the optometrist to get my eyes checked.
After my appointment, I strolled into the eye glasses shop to get my glasses adjusted.
The optician was a kind lady and I could tell at once she REALLY loved her job. She was so excited to adjust my bent glasses. She knew I wasn’t going to buy anything, she didn’t care about that.
After introducing myself, I remarked, “You must really love your work.” Her eyes began to shine and twinkle.
She responded, “I love my job because I get to help people see.” She continued, “Your eye doctor is the best and he wants the best for his patients. When they come to me, I give them the best glasses. So, I get to help people see!”
Wow! What a lovely and contagious attitude.
As Christ-followers, we get to help people see too. We help people see Jesus. Whether we’re meeting a need, preaching, praying for someone or answering tough questions; we are clearing a sight-line to Jesus. He is the good doctor who is responsible for opening their eyes to the truth. But in God’s providence, we get to be a part of his work by sharing the gospel. That is staggering. What a privilege.
What if my attitude was more like that lady in the eye-glass store?
What a winsome way to open up a spiritual conversation with someone; “I love my work because I get to help people see!”
We don’t have to optician to help people see our Savior. We’ve got everything we need in Him. The question is, “Who am I helping to see Jesus right now?”
May this encourage you to ‘see’ your ministry from a different angle today.
November 11th was National Orphan Sunday. Frankly, every Sunday should be Orphan Sunday.
Our church is advocating for John and other children in foster care. You can help John and other children find a forever family!
“John is a sweet 10 year old boy! He said, “I really, really want to be adopted!” He is described as being all boy. John loves playing outside and catching bugs. He is very sweet and fun to be around. John likes to make jokes, and his infectious laugh will spread to anyone around him! He is competitive, athletic and ambidextrous. John is artistic and loves to draw- especially Minions and Pikachu from Pokémon. He desires a family that will love him unconditionally and be patient as he works through his trauma.”
Nearly 7% of all orphans in the USA are in Texas
17,000 children in Foster Care in Texas
340 kids are currently in Tarrant County foster care waiting to be adopted
20% of the children who were in foster care will become instantly homeless when they reach 21.
7 out of 10 girls who age out of the foster care system will become pregnant before the age of 21.
25% of children who age out of the foster care system still suffer from PTSD
Not everyone is called to adopt or become a foster parent. However, everyone can advocate for children in the foster care system.
Creative ways to help:
Pray for children in the foster care system and families who choose to step in.
“There are almost 17,000 kids in foster care in Texas. That seems like a crazy number until you hear there are almost 30,000 churches in Texas! There is more to Orphan Care than just fostering or adopting. If one Christian family from every church adopted and that church agreed to support and wrap around that family there would no no more orphans in Texas.“
“Religion that is pure and undefiled before God the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.”
“I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me.”
Before our Savior marched to the cross, He prayed. He cast the seeds of His Gospel into the eternal hearts of future generations – the Martin Luthers, the William Wilburforces, the Charles Spurgeons, the Jim Elliots, the Billy Grahams and so on. This includes you and me. One of the Savior’s seeds landed perfectly in the soils of your heart and mine.
“in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them.”
“For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.”
The seeds of our salvation were cast on the bed of eternity as yet the foundations of the earth were laid. Try to imagine it with our finite minds as we plunge into the depths of God’s unending, all encompassing grace – it is incomprehensible.
Will you join me in preparing the soils of future generations with prayer?
Father, THIS EASTER, may seeds of the Gospel be cast into the eternal hearts of men and women here today and generations yet born. May the seeds sown THIS Easter reap a harvest of righteousness, prayer and revival in generations to come. We pray in one accord for our children’s children’s children and so on that they may believe that you sent Jesus Christ… for “those who will believe in Jesus through [our] word.”
“The shower of answers to prayer will continue to your dying hour. Nor will it cease then. And when you pass out from beneath the shower, your dear ones will step into it. EVERY prayer and every sigh which you have uttered for them and their future welfare will, in God’s time, descend upon them as a gentle rain of answers to prayer.
Jesus said, “You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you.”
We pray for a mighty harvest in generations to come. May our present prayers shower down like sweet rain from heaven on generations yet born for the Father’s Glory. In Jesus’ name.
Blessings and Happy Easter!
[This post is an excerpt from an email I sent to my fellow church staff members. I thought it may encourage my readers to experience Easter and Prayer in a deeper way. I hope it blesses you … and you children’s children for generations to come.]
“In the game of baseball, three strikes and you’re out. Not so in the game of life. Three strikes and you’re NOT out.”
I can tell you from personal experience that “failure” properly understood is a set up for a comeback. When we fail, we tend to give up. But, is “giving up” the right thing to do when we strike out?
You only strike out when you decide to give up on yourself.
15 years ago, I gave up on myself. I was at the end of my rope after living a selfish and self-destructive life. I had decided that I had struck out, my life was over. Years prior to meeting my wife, I had been a willing participant in the abortion of my own child. I was a liar, used people and I turned to drugs and alcohol to sandbag the shame and pain. I was one step away from quitting. I believed the only way out of my despicable life – was death.
I believed that everyone had given up on me, I was living a lie, I had nothing good to offer and I had given up on myself. It was over – I could hear the umpire shouting, “Strike three, you’re out!”
Early one morning in 2003, I had descended into the darkest moment in my life. I saw death as the only way out. However, in a blink of an eye, I was reminded that someone very important had not given up on me.
God – He hadn’t given up on me. In fact, he loved me and could transform the destruction and chaos of my life for good. In the midst of darkness there was a point of pure light – that light was hope. And like a lifeline from heaven, I held fast to that tiny glimmer of hope and God pulled me out of the dark tempest and set my feet on solid ground.
God reminded me that I was far from being out of the game. He gave me more hope. I could be forgiven. I could be used by God. A murderer could be transformed into a missionary.
“Three strikes and you are NOT out!”
15 years later, I have learned to boldly step up to the plate and swing for the fences because I am a redeemed and restored child of God. He loves me and wants me in the game. Why else would he send his only son to die for a wretch like me?
John 21 is my favorite chapter in the entire Bible. Previously, Peter had denied Christ three times before his crucifixion. Peter believed he had struck out as a failure. This wasn’t true. The risen Christ called Peter to himself and restored him and affirmed him. He put him on mission. “Three strikes and you’re NOT out Peter … Follow me.” And Peter did and we can too. Peter’s failure was a set up for a historical comeback!
What does this mean?
It means It’s not too late. Jesus Christ invites us into a personal relationship with him that has NOTHING to do with our past, present or future performance. In the final analysis, It has everything to do with accepting his grace gift, trusting him and following him. When you blow it in life, remember three strikes and you’re NOT out.
How do you feel about people who have failed, including yourself?
How do you think God feels about people who fail? The Bible is full of human heroes who failed.
Do you desire to get up to bat and take a few swings?
In closing, I want you to take some swings and so does God. He is the God of second, third and forth chances.
Forget what the world and culture say about failure. God will not be mocked. Ask Jesus into your life. Trust what he did for you on the cross. Believe that he can transform and renew you. He will enable you to swing for the fences in his game for his glory.
God has a plan and a purpose for your life no matter how you have failed. Get off the bench and get into the batter’s box and take a swing for God’s sake!
Want to watch a message by one of our team on this subject?
Note: I’ll be the first to admit my own responsibility for being a part of the problem in the past. I’m lovingly, yet sternly challenging you to read and consider what I am saying. After thoughtful consideration (perhaps 24-48 hours), if you disagree – that is fine. Articulate your disagreement if you like. Emoting is a sign of immaturity and my response will call out immaturity. If that causes a bit of anger to well up in your little heart, so be it. You need to learn to deal with anger and this conversation is not for you – yet.
Boys are crying out for help!
Over the last 50 years, our moral revolution has attacked the sanctity of human life, destroyed the family and diminished the father’s role in society. So, males are nothing more than animals that have sex at will with whomever they want, pursue immediate gratification and comfort, relish violence and affluence and move on like a swam of locusts.
Today boys, as young as 8 years old are immersed in pornography, addicted to violent games/movies and have ZERO respect for human life. As a result, girls (and boys) are objects for their personal gratification, other children are targets for destruction and parents exist to feed and pamper them.
Our boys need to be rescued from this toxic culture and men who have abandoned their responsibilities need to repent and be restored. We need to admit we need to help each other.
No matter how you slice it – Males hold all the cards.
We are paying the price for the “moral revolution”. This revolution is rooted in nothing more than personal immediate gratification (of males – primarily). It says,
“I want what I want and I want it NOW… And I will use the veil of reproductive rights, feminism, sexual freedom, personal autonomy, marriage, coercion and political volition to achieve my personal gratification – be it comfort, affluence, power or orgasm.”
Our children are paying dearly with their lives. Make no mistake – the cost is high for “if it FEELS good, do it” culture. It is no accident that we have arrived at this very moment.
“A poor sailor blames the wind.”
It is also no accident that adult males are molesting and demeaning women, abusing children, stealing, doing drugs, lying under oath, murdering and going to jail at high rates. We raise our boys according to the rules of the moral revolution and when our boys become adults infused with the ‘values’ of the revolution and act out of those impulses – the moral revolutionaries make an ‘out-cry’ and blame everyone except themselves. A worldview that blames systems, things and institutions for society’s problems is rejecting any personal accountability. They will deny this but there will always be a ‘but’ to avoid personal responsibility.
How about raising boys who know what it means to be authentic men?
A man does not give into passivity, he takes responsibility for his own actions, he practices personal accountability and integrity, he is humble, just, kind, self-disciplined, leads courageously and focuses on a cause greater than himself. A man is the voice for the voiceless, a protector of the weak and a provider.
Stop the cycle of blame. In order to raise men of honor and integrity, we must look ourselves in the mirror and ask how we are going to help raise boys into authentic men. It is an issue of our hearts. Boys are crying out for help. Let’s help them by modeling manhood for them – teaching and challenging them to become the courageous men they are created to be.
Ignore the screaming of the moral revolutionaries – they will never stop screaming. That is what they do – they rage against everything. They will not stop raging until they destroy everything – including themselves. I’m not sorry for pushing back against the disjointed and dangerous worldview driving the ‘moral revolution’. As a matter of fact, I’m going to challenge it with extreme moral force.
Dave Ramsey once said,
“We all have a red-faced screaming child inside us. That child’s name is ‘Immaturity’.”
It’s not too late.
Our future depends on our personal accountability today.
How am ‘I’ going to raise my son to be man?
How can ‘I’ support the fatherless who have no role model?
This is a personal blog. The opinions expressed here do not necessarily represent those of my employer or my church. The opinions of expressed by guest authors and commenters do not necessarily represent my opinions.