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Summary: This is a topical message. The Bible contains many examples of both the “hero to zero” and the “zero to hero” scenarios. The latter always contains a humble person trusting God and continuing on. Here are Eight Reasons why Christians should not quit.

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November 25, 2001-- AM

THE STEP FROM ZERO TO HERO

James 1:12

INTRODUCTION:

(1) Stories people who fall from success are instructive. Even more helpful are the accounts of people who overcome or capitalize on setbacks. The Bible contains many examples of both the “hero to zero” and the “zero to hero” scenarios. The latter always contains a humble person trusting God and continuing on. Though we are not looking at any report of this, we will look at some of the reasons why the Lord’s people do not quit when it seems the reasonable thing to do.

(2) Much has already been written about the 2001 World Series, one of the greatest ever. In games 4 and 5 the New York Yankees were one out away from defeat but each time rallied to win. In the seventh and final game on Nov. 4 the Arizona Diamondbacks came from behind in the bottom of the ninth inning against the paramount relief pitcher in baseball today, Mariano Rivera, and won 3-2. Such is the stuff that dreams are made of.

Reporters noted the Diamondbacks’ ability to recover from two devastating losses, but a Lexis-Nexis search of World Series coverage reveals no stories about the way their manager, Bob Brenly, had showed a resolve 15 years before that he evidently was able to pass on to his players.

On Sept. 14, 1986, Mr. Brenly, then a player stationed at third base for the San Francisco Giants, tied a major league record by committing four errors in one inning. Reporter Scott Ostler at the time wrote that "If Brooks Robinson was a matador, teasing the bull with his cape, Bob Brenly was a trout fisherman, cleaning his catch with a chain saw."

Mr. Brenly let an easy two-hopper bounce off his glove. Then he bobbled another easy chance for a second error. Then he retrieved the ball and threw it 20 feet over the catcher’s head for error No. 3. Then another ground ball came his way and the reporter, imagining it as a live hand grenade, noted the dilemma: "Should Brenly throw himself on it and save his teammates, thereby salvaging a measure of honor in death, or turn and run? Courageously, he stood his ground, and the ball kicked off his glove."

The next morning, Mr. Brenly told interviewers that he had felt fear, despair, and humiliation after error No. 4: "You know how you hear the old saying—if you make an error, you want the next ball? After the fourth one, I never wanted to see the ball again." When that embarrassing fourth inning ended with the opposing Atlanta Braves having scored four unearned runs because of those errors, he hid in a tunnel behind the dugout, trying to compose himself.

His teammates helped him to laugh with comments like "Maybe you can get a glove contract with U.S. Steel," and, "If you’re scared out there, Bob, you should get yourself a dog." Relaxed but also determined, Mr. Brenly hit a home run and a single his next two times up, and came up in the bottom of the ninth with two out and the score tied. From nightmare to fantasy: He hit a 3-and-2 pitch for another home run to win the game.

"That’s as close to total elation as any feeling I’ve ever had," he said the next day. "It’s easy to laugh now, but I was ready to commit suicide. If I could’ve found something sharp, I would’ve slashed my wrists." Because he did not, he was able to relish how boos turned to cheers: "I was the comeback player of the year in one afternoon." And 15 years later, Bob Brenly’s team also had the resilience to turn defeat into victory. — Marvin Olasky, Arizona’s Brenly had his own big comeback in 1986: Following their manager’s lead, World Magazine, November 17, 2001.

(3) No one but God knew that bob Brenly would experience such a turn around in that game in 1986. Yet, he would not have this story had he quit. In our minds, we may know that bad circumstances could improve but it is far different to align your remote awareness with your actions when experiences are rapidly curdling and going sour. Because we intellectually understand that improvement could come, does not mean that we can control whether it does, or that we can relate these thoughts to reality. However, we can commit our choice to continue. We can take the next step after we have fallen and move forward, trusting the Lord.

(4) A Christian college senior put it this way: “One of the biggest challenges is making a transition from being intellectual to relational. So many of us know about God, but few of us experience God. I have heard it said that we know God’s hands but not His face. In other words, we often ask Him to meet our wants and requests, but rarely seek intimacy with Him. In the MTV world everything is so fast-paced and entertaining. We grow bored easily and don’t take the time to experience things that may not bring immediate results. For our generation, people and relationships are more important than information. We hope to start working again as a community of believers. ... We are asking questions like: Are you ready for the Second Coming? Do you have a relationship with God? More than anything we want authenticity. We want to be real. We want the freedom to doubt and to question. Obviously, this is a big risk, but it will make us stronger. I hope that the older generations will risk "making fools of themselves" so that others can grow. I hope that our leaders will speak out when the Spirit leads. We need to see God working in them. It is through action that we begin to believe. I plead with leaders to be open to the leading of the Spirit and to expect changes and surprises. We must quit being so dependent on methods and technology and be more dependent on God.” SPECIAL THOUGHTS: A College Senior’s Thoughts about Christianity and the Church, By Shasta Emery

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