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Our Best To The Last

Deuteronomy 31:6 “Be strong and of a good courage, fear not, nor be afraid of them: for the LORD thy God, he it is that doth go with thee; he will not fail thee, nor forsake thee.”

Joshua 1:6-7 “Be strong and of a good courage: for unto this people shalt thou divide for an inheritance the land, which I sware unto their fathers to give them. Only be thou strong and very courageous, that thou mayest observe to do according to all the law, which Moses my servant commanded thee: turn not from it to the right hand or to the left, that thou mayest prosper whithersoever thou goest.”

II Timothy 1:7 “For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.”

Esther 4:14b “and who knoweth whether thou art come to the kingdom for such a time as this?”

Captain Robert Scott, British Royal Navy, was a renowned adventurer and explorer. During his 1912 expedition to the south pole, his return trip was fraught with extraordinary hardship, unplanned challenges, and stark tragedy. From his frigid tent, on March 29, 1912, he wrote the following courageous letter to his countrymen before slipping off into eternity:

“We are weak, writing is difficult, but for my own sake I do not regret this journey, which has shown that Englishmen can endure hardships, help one another, and meet death with as great a fortitude as ever in the past. We took risks, we knew we took them; things have come out against us, and therefore we have no cause for complaint, but bow to the will of Providence, determined still to do our best to the last. But if we have been willing to give our lives to this enterprise, which is for the honour of our country, I appeal to our countrymen to see that those who depend on us are properly cared for.

Had we lived, I should have had a tale to tell of the hardihood, endurance, and courage of my companions which would have stirred the heart of every Englishman. These rough notes and our dead bodies must tell the tale.”

In November of that year, Scott’s letter was discovered, and it and the dead bodies of the exploration party told their courageous tale in a powerful and poignant way.

If this Englishman can serve so faithfully and face challenges so gracefully in service to his country, then so much the more should we do so for our Lord and Saviour. Truly, American Christians have been called to our own journey, in our own challenging circumstances, in a 21st Century society fraught with extraordinary hardship and unplanned challenges.  In doing so, God has called us to be strong and courageous as we follow His path while turning neither to the right nor to the left. He will not leave us, nor fail us, nor forsake us. He has not given us the spirit of fear, but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.

As a result, may we endure the hardships, help one another, and serve with great fortitude. In spite of the obstacles we face, may we have no cause for complaint as we bow to the will of Providence, determined to do our best to the last.


True Grit

II Timothy 4:2 “Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine.”

II Timothy 4:5-7 “But watch thou in all things, endure affliction, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of the ministry. For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith.”

Colossians 3:23-24 “And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men; Knowing that of the Lord ye shall receive the reward of the inheritance: for ye serve the Lord Christ.”

The longest professional baseball game began on Easter Eve, April 18, 1981, and didn’t finish until June 23 of that same year. It lasted 33 innings and over 8 hours, with 32 innings being played throughout a long April night until the league president was reached by telephone at around 4 am and made the official call to postpone the game until the next scheduled meeting between the two teams. The game pitted the Pawtucket Red Sox against the Rochester Red Wings at the Triple-A level.

During the 32nd inning, a Rochester player hit a ball to right field that could have scored a runner from second base and ended the game. As the runner sped around the base path, baseball journalist Dan Barry described the situation and the specifics of the play by right-fielder Sam Bowen in the following way:

“I asked Bowen, did you ever think about not giving it your best throw [to end the game], maybe throwing it over the backstop? And Bowen really got angry with me. He said, ‘this is what I do. I am not going to do anything less than my best.’ Even though this guy is never going to make it back to the major leagues and he knows it, he is not going to let this guy score.”

Pawtucket General Manager Mike Tamburro provided his thoughts as follows:

“Sammy takes it on two hops and makes a throw, a tremendous throw, nails the runner at the plate … You make that play in the top of the ninth, it’s a great play. You make that play in the top of the 32nd, it’s a historic play. To me, it spoke to the true grit of a professional baseball player that, in the top of the 32nd inning at 4 o’clock in the morning – that he would throw out a guy at home plate in those circumstances.”

Sam Bowen’s Red Sox went on to win the game in the following inning (two months later), and it was his play in the previous inning, in spite of the extraordinary challenges of such a game, that gave them the opportunity for victory. His true grit, in spite of fatigue and temptations of resignation, made all the difference.

As Christians in 21st century America, will live in extraordinary circumstances. Sometimes the myriad of challenges can cause us to struggle with resignation and fatigue. But, God needs us to serve with excellence, dedication, and resilience. May we all commit to accepting nothing less than our best. Let our testimony be of true grit. And when challenged about our dedication to excellence for the Lord, may we be able to say – “this is what I do!” – as we seek to maintain an opportunity for wide-spread victory for Him in our land.

PLEASE PRAY THAT AMERICAN CHRISTIANS WOULD FACE THE CHALLENGES AROUND US WITH EXCELLENCE AND HEARTY CHRIST-CENTERED SERVICE. God is looking for true grit from us always. After all, a massive victory for Him may be just around the corner or in the next inning.

ADMIN: The quotes above are from the following NPR interview about the longest game:

The Game Isn’t Over!

John 21:14-17 “This is now the third time that Jesus shewed himself to his disciples, after that he was risen from the dead. So when they had dined, Jesus saith to Simon Peter, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me more than these? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my lambs. He saith to him again the second time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my sheep. He saith unto him the third time, Simon, son on Jonas, lovest thou me? Peter was grieved because he said unto him the third time, Lovest thou me? And he said unto him, Lord, thou knowest all things; thou knowest that I love thee. Jesus saith unto him, Feed my sheep.”

Hebrews 12:1 “Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us.”

Isaiah 43:18-19 “Remember ye not the former things, neither consider the things of old. Behold, I will do a new thing, now it shall spring forth; shall ye not know it? I will even make a way in the wilderness, and rivers in the desert.”

On New Years Day 1929, the California Golden Bears faced the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets in the annual Rose Bowl football game.  Midway through the first half, Roy Riegels picked up a fumble in front of 60,000 fans and ran over 60 yards … the wrong way. It was only because a teammate chased him down that he stopped at the 1-yard line. But his mistake ended up resulting in a safety in a subsequent play and those two points ultimately cost California the game. And as a result, the legend of Roy “Wrong Way” Riegels was born. But that isn’t the end of the story.

Riegels was determined to sit out the rest of the game after his embarrassing and harmful mistake. But Coach Nibs Price charged him with the following: “Roy, get up and go back out there! The game isn’t over!” He did, playing brilliantly in the second half and blocking a punt in the process. And though the Golden Bears ultimately lost the game and the nickname stuck with him, Riegels earned a spot as the team captain during the following year and was also named a first-team All-American. He eventually went on to be a coach himself, an officer in the United States Army Air Corps during World War II, and a business executive. In that Rose Bowl game, in his football career, and in life, he did indeed get up and play in a way that acknowledged that his game was not yet over.

We sometimes think that our personal mistakes disqualify us for future usefulness. And, we believe that a nation that is headed in the wrong direction is irredeemable. But, the words of Coach Price should powerfully remind us to “Get up and go back out there! The game isn’t over!”


Is God Dead?

Jeremiah 32:26-27 “Then came the word of the Lord unto Jeremiah, saying, Behold, I am the LORD, the God of all flesh: is there any thing too hard for me?”

Genesis 18:13-14 “And the LORD said unto Abraham, Wherefore did Sarah laugh, saying, Shall I of a surety bear a child, which am old? Is any thing too hard for the LORD? At the time appointed I will return unto thee, according to the time of life, and Sarah shall have a son.”

Job 42:2 “I know that thou canst do every thing, and that no thought can be withholden from thee.”

Sojourner Truth was born a slave with the name Isabella Baumtree. She accepted Christ as her Saviour in her early 30s, shortly after escaping from the inhumane lifestyle of slavery, and became an influential American abolitionist, women’s rights activist, speaker, and author.

In 1847, Truth attended an event featuring the prominent speaker and abolitionist Frederick Douglass. That night, Douglass was uncharacteristically pessimistic about the prospects for the eradication of slavery in the United States, and Truth could not sit silently in the midst of a speech with such a discouraging tone. In the midst of Douglass’ speech, she stood to her feet and proclaimed three powerful worlds – “Is God dead?”

This rhetorical question, with an obvious answer of NO, quickly snapped Douglass from his pessimism and changed the tone of the entire meeting. It also became a rallying cry for the abolitionist movement in America and the cause for freedom for all people.

As we consider the challenging conditions of our day, we too might find ourselves slipping into an attitude of uncharacteristic pessimism about our future national prospects. When we do, we must stand to our feet and declare a similar sentiment to Truth’s – “Is God dead?” As we remind ourselves of the obvious answer of NO, it should quickly snap us from our pessimism and change the tone of our entire environment. In fact, it should be a rallying cry for our Christian movement in America and the cause of freedom for all people.

PLEASE PRAY FOR AMERICAN CHRISTIANS TO REMEMBER THE POTENCY AND POWER OF A LIVING GOD. There is nothing too hard for Him! He can do anything and everything! And, we must regularly remind ourselves and those around us of those powerful words that demand an obvious answer of NO – Is God dead?

That One Solitary Life

Psalm 20:7 “Some trust in chariots, and some in horses: but we will remember the name of the LORD our God.”

John 16:33 “These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.”

I John 4:4 “Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world.”

In the dark depths of 1942, Pastor Thomas Williams recalls the following thoughts attributed to an unknown author (from “Strength for Service”):

“Here is a man who was born in an obscure village, the child of a peasant woman. He grew up in another obscure village. He worked in a carpenter shop until he was thirty, and then for three years He was an itinerant preacher. He never owned a home. He never had a family of His own. He never went to college. He never traveled two hundred miles from the place where He was born. He never did a single one of the things that usually accompany greatness. He had no credentials but Himself. He had nothing to do with this world except through the naked power of His divine manhood.

While still a young man, the tide of public opinion turned against Him. His friends ran away. One of them betrayed Him. He was turned over to His enemies. He went through the mockery of a trial. He was nailed upon a cross between two thieves. His executioners gambled for the only piece of property He had on earth while He was dying, and that was His coat. When He was dead, He was taken down and laid in a borrowed tomb through the pity of a friend.

I am far within the mark when I say that all the armies that ever marched, and all the navies that were ever built, and all the parliaments that ever sat, and all the kings that ever reigned, put together, have not affected the life of man upon the earth as powerfully as has that One Solitary Life.”

Our Lord and Saviour demonstrates the power of God’s plan over any finely tuned calculations of human rationality. It also proves His preeminence, and the powerful potential for impact of those who rely upon Him.

Our resumes, our circumstances, and our positioning may not seem to meet the minimum requirements for revolutionary, lasting impact. But, Jesus has called us to serve and represent Him in the places and the times of His selection. And, He has empowered us to do so effectively. After all, He is greater than the world and has overcome it through His divine sacrificial power.

PLEASE PRAY FOR AMERICAN CHRISTIANS TO TRUST THE DIVINE POWER OF OUR LORD AND SAVIOUR TO IMPACT OUR SOCIETY. All the armies that ever marched, and all the navies that were ever built, and all the parliaments that ever sat, and all the kings that ever reigned, put together, have not affected the life of man upon the earth as powerfully as has that One Solitary Life.

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