Illustration results for Disciplines: General
Staff Picks of Free Sermons and PRO Church Media
In the recent Summer Games (2012), Kim Rhode won the gold medal in skeet shooting making her the first American to win 5 olympic medals in 5 consecutive olympic games. That’s a span of 20 years and not her only distinction. In the 2012 games, she hit 99 out of 100 skeet setting a new Olympic record and tying the world record for the event. Also, her first medal was in the 1996 Summer Games making her the youngest female gold medalist in Olympic shooting. How does one so distinguish themselves from the rest of the crowd?
In an interview with the New York Times, Rhode firmly answers the question of how. She shoots anywhere from 500 to 1,000 rounds every day of the week year around. To save you the math, this is 3,000,000 plus shots with a shotgun. That’s 600,000 rounds per medal. When you step back and look at that number, the medals and accomplishments really are not that surprising.
It would be interesting to know how much other Olympian medalists have invested in their training? How many calories have they burned? How much money have they spent? How many other things have they rejected so that it would not interfere with their training? Of course, there is the occasional rare, natural talent, but I imagine, in most cases, if these numbers were lined up, the favorites will have distinguished themselves well before the race ever began.
In 1 Corinthians 9, Paul indicates that life is a race and its a race that we are all entered in so we might as well compete. We can choose to sit the race out but it is to our own demise. Our entry fees are paid, the starter has fired the gun, and our finish will still be recorded. Only those that complete the race get to advance to the next event.
Run to win. Run to finish first. At the very least run it in such a noble, honorable, and faithful manner that you are allowed to finish. Compete so that even if you do not win all of life, you will not be ashamed of how well you finished. And remember, the race isn’t won on the track, its won in the training and preparation.
There are roughly 775,000 words in the Bible. If we read one word ever day for every round Kim Rhode practices, we would complete the Bible every few years. These days, a person that has read through it completely just once has already distinguished themselves from the pack. How much more dominant would we be if we had read through it 5 times or a dozen times?
“Joy in Christ requires a commitment to working at the Christian lifestyle. Salvation comes as a gif, but the joy of salvation demands disciplined action. Most Christians I know have just enough of the Gospel to make them miserable, but not enough to make them joyful. They know enough about the biblical message to keep them form doing the things which the world tempts them to do; but they do not have enough of a commitment to God to do those things through which they might experience the fullness of his joy.” (Tony Campolo. Seven Deadly Sins. p. 21)
In his book Enjoying Intimacy with God, J. Oswald Sanders makes a piercing observation: "We are at this moment as close to God as we really choose to be. True, there are times when we would like to know a deeper intimacy, but when it comes to the point, we are not prepared to pay the price involved."
PLEASURE COMES FROM PAIN
The world's best cyclist, Lance Armstrong, says this about pain:
I become a happier man each time I suffer.
Suffering is as essential to a good life, and as inextricable, as bliss. The old saying that you should live each day as if it’s your last is a nice sentiment, but it doesn’t work. Take it from me. I tried it once, and here’s what I learned: If I pursued only happiness, and lived just for the moment, I’d be a no-account with a perpetual three-day growth on my chin. Cancer taught me that.
Before cancer, whatever I imagined happiness to be, pretty soon I wore it out, took it for granted, or threw it away. A portfolio, a Porsche, a coffee machine--these things were important to me. So was my hair. Then I lost them, including the hair. When I was 25, I was diagnosed with advanced testicular cancer, which had metastasized into my lungs and brain. I sold the car, gave up my career as a world-class cyclist, lost a good deal of money, and barely hung on to my life.
When I went into remission, I thought happiness would mean being self-indulgent. Not knowing how much time I had left, I did not intend to ever suffer again. I had suffered months of fear, chemotherapy so strong it left burn marks under my skin, and surgery to remove two tumors. Happiness to me then was waking up.
I ate Mexican food, played golf, and lay on the couch. The pursuit of happiness meant going to my favorite restaurant and pursuing a plate of enchiladas with tomatillo sauce.
But one day my wife, Kristin, put down her fork and said, "You need to decide something: Are you going to be a golf-playing, beer-drinking, Mexican-food-eating slob for the rest of your life? If you are, I’ll still love you. But I need to know, because if so, I’ll go get a job. I’m not going to sit at home while you play golf."
I stared at her.
"I’m so bored," she said.
Suddenly, I understood that I was bored, too. The idleness was forced; I was purposeless, with nothing to pursue. That conversation changed everything. I realized that responsibility, the routines and habits of shaving in the morning with a purpose, a job to do, a wife to love, and a child to raise--these were the things that tied my days together and gave them a pattern deserving of the term living.
Within days I was back on my bicycle. For the first time in my life, I rode with real strength and stamina and purpose. Without cancer, I never would have won a single Tour de France. Cancer taught me a plan for more purposeful living, and that in turn taught me how to train and to win more purposefully. It taught me that pain has a reason, and that sometimes the experience of losing things--whether health or a car or an old sense of self--has its own value in the scheme of life. Pain and loss are great enhancers.
People ask me why I ride my bike for six hours a day; what is the pleasure? The answer is that I don’t do it for the pleasure. I do it fo...
Respected Bible scholar D. A. Carson said this:
People do not drift toward holiness.
Apart from grace-driven effort, people do not gravitate toward godliness, prayer, obedience to Scripture, faith, and delight in the Lord.
Help me to realize that it was not the healthy who reached out to you. They bunched up in crowds, but it was those who suffered greatly who reached out to grasp you. It was the people in the streets, not in the sitting rooms of society that groped for your garment. It was needy people. People with out stretched arms. People with empty hands. People who had nothing to offer but the faith that you could make them whole. I confess, O Lord, how often I have followed in the crowd pressed around you. Yet how few times have those brushes with you changed my life? I have touched you, but only in the rush hour of religious activity. Sunday after Sunday I take my part in the crowd as I sit through the service. I sing the hymns, hear the sermon. I read my Bible, say my prayers, give my money. I attend the right seminars, tune in to the right programs, read the right books. How could I be so close your presence yet so far from your power? Could it be that my arms are folded? Could it be that my hands are full? I pray that if my arms are complacent, you would unfold them in outstretched longing for you. And if my hands are full, I pray that you would empty them so that I might cling only to you. (“Intimate Moments with the Savior”; Ken Gire)
Richard Armstrong and Edward Watkin tell the story of a biologist’s experiment with "processional caterpillars." On the rim of a clay pot that held a plant, he lined them up so that the leader was head-to-head with the last caterpillar. The tiny creatures circled the rim of the pot for a full week. Not once did any one of them break away to go over to the plant and eat. Eventually, all caterpillars died from exhaustion and starvation. The story of the processional caterpillars is a kind of parable of human behavior. People are reluctant to break away from the rhythmic pattern of daily life. They don’t want to be different. We must break away from the crowd, however, if we are to accept Jesus’ invitation to "go off alone" with him in prayer. --James S. Hewett, Illustrations Unlimited
On the Lighter side: The Wisdom of Cowboys:
Good judgment comes from experience, and a lot of that comes from bad
Lettin’ the cat outta the bag is a whole lot easier ’n puttin’ it back in.
If you’re ridin’ ahead of the herd, take a look back every now and
then to make sure it’s still there.
If you get to thinkin’ you’re a person of some influence, try
orderin’ somebody else’s dog around.
After eating an entire bull, a mountain lion felt so good he started
roaring. He kept it up until a hunter came along and shot him... The
moral: When you’re full of bull, keep your mouth shut.
Never kick a cow chip on a hot day.
There’s two theories to arguin’ with a woman. Neither one works.
If you find yourself in a hole, t...
A. Todd Coget
[From Apostles and Prophets: The Foundation of the Church, by C. Peter Wagner, 2000, Regal Books, Ventura California, pp. 25]
In my book Churchquake! I say:
Of all the radical changes in the New Apostolic Reformation, I regard one of them as the most radical of all.
It is so important that I have chosen these words very carefully: The amount of spiritual authority delegated by the Holy Spirit to individuals.
The two operative words in this statement are “authority” and “individuals.”
Until recently the central focus of authority in our churches existed in groups, not in individuals.
Trust has been placed in sessions, consistories, nominating committees, deacon boards, trustees, congregations, presbyteries, associations, general councils, conventions, synods and the like.
Rarely has trust for ultimate decision making been given to individuals such as pastors or apostles.
This, however, is changing decisively in the New Apostolic Reformation.
A. Todd Coget
Frances Ridley Havergal, the British musician and devotional writer, left us such classic hymns as Like a River Glorious, Who is on the Lord’s Side?, I Am Trusting Thee, Lord Jesus, and Take My Life and Let It Be.
One day in January, 1858, while visiting the art museum in Dusseldorf, Germany, she sat down wearily opposite Domenico Feti’s picture of Christ under which was this caption: “I Did This For Thee! What Hast Thou Done For Me?”
Deeply moved, Frances scribbled some lines that flashed into her mind, writing in pencil on a scrap of paper.
Reading them over, they did not satisfy her so she tossed them into the fire, but they fell out untouched.
Some months later she showed them to her father who encouraged her to preserve them.
Being a musician himself, he even wrote a melody to accompany them.
The resulting hymn, “I Gave My Life For Thee” was first published in 1860, and launched Frances Ridley Havergal as a serious composer of hymns:
I gave My life for thee,
My precious blood I shed,
That thou might’st ransomed be,
And quickened from the dead.
I gave, I gave my life for thee;
What hast thou given for Me?