Illustration results for competition
Sermon Central Staff
AIMING AT THE RIGHT TARGET
Some of our deeds are of great value, especially those done in dependence upon God for His glory and honor. Some of our deeds are worthless. They accomplish nothing of eternal value and will be quickly forgotten after we are gone.
Matt Emmons had the gold medal in sight. He was one shot away from claiming victory in the 2004 Olympic 50-meter three-position rifle event. He didn't even need a bull's-eye to win. His final shot merely needed to be on target.
Normally, the shot he made would have received a score of 8.1, more than enough for a gold medal. But in what was described as "an extremely rare mistake in elite competition," Emmons fired at the wrong target. Standing in lane two, he fired at the target in lane three. His score for a good shot at the wrong target? -- 0. Instead of a medal, Emmons ended up in eighth place. (David Mordkoff, American Emmons Misses Out on Gold by Firing at Wrong Target, www.Sports.Yahoo.com, 8-22-04)
It doesn't matter how accurate you are if you are aiming at the wrong goal. My friends, I'm afraid many of God's children are going to get to the end of their lives and find that they have been aiming at the wrong goal. They have been aiming for a comfortable life, and they may have hit the bull's eye, but there will be no medal. Oh, they'll get into heaven because of their faith in Christ, but there will be no reward from a Father who will fairly evaluate the value of each one's work.
(From a sermon by C. Philip Green, The Holiness of Grace, 4/29/2011)
Sebastian Kresge started a five and dime in 1899 and it grew – people came to his store for good prices on decent products – his idea of a “blue-light” special reinvigorated the retail industry…at it height thousands upon thousands of stores serving millions and millions of people…
But then, something happened…something happened. Some claim it was do to increased competition – another company started by a young man named Sam Walton was giving Kresge’s stores a run for their money. Still some claim Kresge’s stores just built too much too fast…by over-expanding they found themselves deep in debt.
But today, I’ll tell you why the once mighty Kmart, the eventual product of Kresge’s five and dime, is in bankruptcy today, and its actually a simple reason…they forgot what they were known for.
Instead of continuing to offer great prices on decent products…they began to compete with the Targets and the Meijers in quality merchandise beyond their customers reach, while on the other end facing the low-pricing of Sam Walton’s creation, Walmart, at every turn. (When Kmart announced they were bringing back the blue-light special and lowering prices throughout the store, then I knew they were doomed. If Kmart has too announce that they have lowered prices, then they’ve lost their identity.)
Soon, being pulled at both ends, Kmart finds itself with the agony of closing stores and firing workers because instead of continuing as they were “known” they tried to change…and failed.
Why do I tell you this story?…because we are “known” too! God knows us. But often we try to be someone different than the way we are known. And if we continue to be something that God knows we aren’t, we are going to end up in a spiritual bankruptcy where God has planned so much more.
One of the most touching moment in the Sydney Olympics was when Eric "The Swimmer" Moussambani of Equatorial Guinea swam in the 100-meter free style qualifying heat. The 22-year-old African had only learned to swim last January, had only practiced in a 20-meter pool without lane markers, and had never raced more than 50 meters. By special invitation of the International Olympic Committee, under a special program that permits poorer countries to participate even though their athletes don’t meet customary standards, he had been entered in the 100-meter men’s freestyle.
When the other two swimmers in his heat were disqualified because of false starts, Moussambani was forced to swim alone. Eric Moussambani was, to use the words of an Associated Press story about his race, "charmingly inept." He never put his head under the water’s surface and flailed wildly to stay afloat. With ten meters left to the wall, he virtually came to a stop. Some spectators thought he might drown! Even though his time was over a minute slower than what qualified for the next level of competition, the capacity crowd at the Olympic Aquatic Center stood to their feet and cheered the swimmer on. After what seemed like an eternity, the African reached the wall and hung on for dear life. When he had caught his breath and regained his composure, the French-speaking Moussambani said through an interpreter, "I want to send hugs and kisses to the crowd. It was their cheering that kept me going."
As Christians, we have a cheering section encouraging us on when we are tired and calling out to us to do better when we are feeling at our best. The author of Hebrews says, “We are surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses.” What in the world does he mean—great cloud of witnesses? The author of Hebrews is telling us that we are a part of something much richer and deeper than we know. As children of God and as brothers and sisters of Jesus Christ, we are a part of a family.
A newspaper held a competition to find out how people would describe friendship. The winning answer was, “A friend is someone who’s walking in when everyone else is walking out.”
You and I have a friend that will do that, a friend who will stick closer than a brother. Jesus said,
“Surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age" (Matthew 28:20...
Clovis Chappell, a minister from a century back, used to tell the story of two paddleboats. They left Memphis about the same time, traveling down the Mississippi River to New Orleans. As they traveled side by side, sailors from one vessel made a few remarks about the snail’s pace of the other. Words were exchanged. Challenges were made. And the race began. Competition became vicious as the two boats roared through the Deep South.
One boat began falling behind. Not enough fuel. There had been plenty of coal for the trip, but not enough for a race. As the boat dropped back, an enterprising young sailor took some of the ship’s cargo and tossed it into the ovens. When the sailors saw that the supplies burned as well as the coal, they fueled their boat with the material they had been assigned to transport. They ended up winning the race, but burned their cargo.
God has entrusted cargo to us, too: children, spouses, friends. Our job is to do our part in seeing that this cargo reaches its destination.
Blessed are the merciful. I learned the truth of this Beatitude from Henri Nouwen, a priest who used to teach at Harvard University. At the height of his career, Nouwen moved from Harvard to a community called Daybreak, near Tornonto, in order to take on the demanding chores required by his friendship with a man named Adam. Nouwen now ministers not to the intellectuals but to a young man who is considered by many a useless person who should have been aborted.
Nouwen describes his friend: “Adam is a 25-year-old man who cannot speak, cannot dress or undress himself, cannot walk alone, cannot eat without much help. He does not cry or laugh. Only occasionally does he make eye contact. His back is distorted. His arm and leg movements are twisted. He suffers from severe epilepsy and, despite heavy medication, sees few days without grand-mal seizures. Sometimes, as he grows suddenly rigid, he utters a howling groan. On a few occasions I’ve seen one big tear roll down his cheek.
“It takes me about an hour and a half to wake Adam up, give him his medication, carry him to his bath, wash him, shave him, clean his teeth, dress him, walk him to the kitchen, give him his breakfast, put him in his wheelchair and bring him to the place where he spends most of his day with therapeutic exercises.”
On a visit to Nouwen in Toronto, I watched him perform that routine with Adam, and I must admit I had a fleeting as to whether this was the best use of his time. I have heard Henri Nouwen speak, and have read many of his books. He has much to offer. Could not someone else take over the menial task of caring for Adam? When I cautiously broached the subject with Nouwen himself, he informed me that I had completely misinterpreted what was going on. “I am not giving up anything,” he insisted. “It is I, not Adam, who gets the main benefit from our friendship.”
Then Nouwen began listing for me all the benefits he has gained. The hours spent with Adam, he said, have given him an inner peace so fulfilling that it makes most of his other, more high-minded tasks seem boring and superficial by contrast. Early on, as he sat beside that helpless child-man, he realized how marked with rivalry and competition, how obsessive, was his drive for success in academia and Christian ministry. Adam taught him that “what makes us human is not our mind but our heart, not our ability to think but our ability to love.” From Adam’s simple nature, he had glimpsed the “emptiness that desert monks achieved only after much searching and discipline.
All during the rest of our interview, Henri Nouwen circled back to my question, as if he could not believe I could ask such a thing. He kept thinking of other ways he had benefited from his relationship with Adam. Truly, he was enjoying a new kind of spiritual peace, acquired not within the stately quadrangles of Harvard, but by the bedside of incontinent Adam. I left Daybreak convicted of my own spiritual poverty, I who so carefully arrange my writer’s life to make it efficient and single-focused. The merciful are indeed blessed, I learned, for they will be shown mercy.
Philip Yancey, The Jesus I Never Knew (Grand Rapids: Zondervan Pub. House, 1995), 119-121
Back when the telegraph was the fastest means of long-distance communication, there was a story about a young man who applied for a job as a Morse code operator. Answering an ad in the newspaper, he went to the address that was listed. When he arrived, he entered a large, noisy office. In the background a telegraph clacked away.
A sign on the receptionist’s counter instructed job applicants to fill out a form and wait until they were summoned to enter the inner office. The young man completed his form and sat down with seven other waiting applicants. After a few minutes, the young man stood up, crossed the room to the door of the inner office, and walked right in.
Naturally the other applicants perked up, wondering what was going on. Why had this man been so bold? They muttered among themselves that they hadn’t heard any summons yet. They took more than a little satisfaction in assuming the young man who went into the office would be reprimanded for his presumption and summarily disqualified for the job.
Within a few minutes the young man emerged from the inner office escorted by the interviewer, who announced to the other applicants, "Gentlemen, thank you very much for coming, but the job has been filled by this young man."
The other applicants began grumbling to each other, and then one spoke up, "Wait a minute! I don’t understand. He was the last one to come in, and we never even got a chance to be interviewed. Yet he got the job. That’s not fair."
The employer responded, "All the time you’ve been sitting here, the telegraph has been ticking out the following message in Morse code: 'If you understand this message, then come right in. The job is yours.' None of you heard it or understood it. This young man did. So the job is his."
THE CHEERING CROWD
Picabo Street first joined the U.S. Ski Team when she was only 17. She went on to become the only American skier to ever win the World Cup downhill championship. In 1996 she tore a crucial ligament in her left knee. The 30 year-old Street went through extensive rehabilitation just to compete in the 2002 Winter Olympic Games. Street said this about her Olympic experience: "The last four years for me have been about that one moment coming into the finish when I heard the Americans roar and saw kids' faces painted red, white and blue. That's when I felt the pride of being an American in an American Olympics."
And You have a crowd cheering for you.
Picaboo Street did not win the gold, or the silver, or the bronze medal this year. She finished 16th in her downhill competition. But the crowd cheered for her just the same. The Americans screamed and cheered because one of their own had finished the race. And you have a crowd cheering for you. "Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great crowd of witnesses, let us throw off ev...
Sermon Central Staff
Did you know that the first modern-day lottery was started in 1963 in the state of New Hampshire?
Did you know that the state of Massachusetts, started their lottery in 1972 with 50 cent tickets and a drawing once a week. It now has 33 different games to choose from their sales have soared from $71 million in the first year to $3 Billion today.
Did you know, that in Colorado, the lottery organizers spend more than $400 million dollars each year trying to lure residents to gamble on lotteries.
And in a $25,000 study called Mindsort they analyzed the left and right sides of the brain to understand how to manipulate players behavior in order to get them once hooked, always hooked.
A Massachusetts Lottery Ad sums up the point I am trying to get across perfectly. In the ad they offer two choices for how to "make millions." Here is a quote: "Plan A: Start studying when you’re about 7 years old, real hard. Then grow up and get a good job. From then on, get up at dawn every day. Flatter your boss. Crush competition ruthlessly. Climb over backs of co-workers. Be the last one to leave every night. Squirrel away every cent. Avoid having a nervous breakdown. Avoid having premature heart attack. Get a face lift. Do this every day for 30 years, holidays and weekends included. By the time you’re ready to retire you should have your money. Or Plan B: Play the Lottery." Hey if we can have it quick and easy why not?
(From a sermon by Jay Russell, I Spend So I Can Glorify God, 12/28/2010)
WHEN YOUR BACK IS AGAINST THE WALL, PAT RILEY, NBA COACH
The Los Angeles Lakers were dominating the Boston Celtics in the final round of the 1984 National Basketball Association championship. The Lakers beat Boston on their home floor in Game 1. They beat them by 33 points in Game 3. They were ahead by 10 points in Game 4 and cruising and then it all changed.
Two days after losing the deciding seventh game, the Lakers were back in Los Angeles for their last team meeting. Coach Pat Riley looked at the young faces and said, “Even though we lost, they can’t take away our pride and our dignity; we own those. We are not chokers or losers. We are champions who simply lost a championship.”
The Lakers came back for the 1984-1985 season sharply focused. All year long, they heard about how they were a “show time” team that folded as soon as things got tough. The Celtics and their fans referred to us as the L.A. Fakers. Abuse and sarcasm were heaped on, and the Lakers had to take it. Yet still they achieved a tremendous season and ripped through the place at a high pace. On May 27, they got to face their tormentor, the Celtics, in Boston Garden.
The next day’s headlines called Game 1 of the 1985 finals The Memorial Day Massacre. A 148-114 humiliation was the most embarrassing game in the history of the Lakers franchise. The Lakers saw themselves become exactly what they had been called: choke artists, underachievers. The troubling question was why was it that every time the Lakers faced the Celtics, they became paralyzed with fear.
Before they went out for Game 2, the Lakers gathered in the dinghy locker room of the Boston Garden. The players were sitting there, ready to listen and to believe. Every now and then, you have your back pushed up against a wall. It seems like there is nobody you can depend on but yourself. That is how the Lakers felt on that day. If they lost, the choke reputation would be chiseled into stone, a permanent verdict. If they won, they had an opportunity to prove they could keep on winning. It was a do or die situation.
Coach Riley faced Kareem Abdul Jabbar, the star center, and said, “When I saw you and your father on the bus today, it made me realize what this whole moment is about. You spent a lot of time with Big Al today. Maybe you needed that voice. Maybe everyone in this room needs to hear that kind of voice right now--the voice of your dad, the voice of somebody in the past who was there when you didn’t think you could get the job done.”
“A lot of you don’t think you can win today. A lot of you don’t think you can beat the Celtics. I want each of you to close your eyes and listen.” And they did.
And Riley began his tale, “When I was nine years old my dad told my brothers, Lee and Lenny, to take me down to Lincoln Heights and get me involved in the basketball games. They would throw me into a game and I would get pushed and shoved. Day after day, I ran home crying and hid in the garage. I didn’t want anything to do with basketball.”
“This went on for two or three weeks. One night, I didn’t come to the dinner table, so my dad got up and walked out to the garage where he found me hunkered down in a corner. He picked me up, put his arm around me, and walked to the kitchen. My brother Lee was upset with him. ‘Why do you make us take him down there? He doesn’t want to play. He’s too young.’
“My father stood up and staring at Lee, said, ‘I want you to take him there because I want you to teach him not to be afraid, that there should be no fear. Teach him that competition brings out the very best and the very worst in us. Right now, it’s bring out the worst, but if he sticks with it, it’s going to bring out the best.’ He then looked at his nine-year-old, teary-eyed son and said, ‘Pat, you have to go back there.’
So Coach Riley told his players, “I thought I was never going to be able to get over being hurt and afraid, but I eventually did get over it.” As he was talking, he was slowly pacing back and forth the locker room. Looking at the players, he saw that Michael Cooper was crying. A couple of other players looked as if they would start crying too.
Coach Riley went on, “I don’t know what it is going to take for us to win tonight but I do believe that we are going out there like warriors, and that would make our fathers proud.”
The Lakers won the game. They also won three of the next four games. The 1985 championship was won by the Lakers. Seven times in Laker history, the NBA Finals had been lost to those adversaries. Now the Celtic Myth was slain and the choke image with it.
During the off season, Michael Cooper told Coach Riley that the pregame message had gone deep for him. As a boy, Cooper had a grievous leg wound, an ugly cut through the muscle. Doctors did not think he would ever walk correctly again, much less become an athlete. He was sustained through those times by a wonderful mother and devoted uncle. So he had heard those voices.
All of us have at least one great voice deep inside. People are products of their environments. A lucky few are born into situations in which positive messages abound. Others grow up hearing messages of fear and failure which they must block out to hear the positive. But the positive and courageous voice will always emerge, somewhere, sometime, for all of us. Listen for it, and your breakthroughs will come.
Fear of failure will lead you to despair, wrong decisions, and host of other problems. However, when the voice comes through it will counsel courage, that affirms your life and your ability, and it will position you to do your very best.