Spiritual Olympians

The world is watching the 2012 World Olympics! What an opportune time to motivate and inspire millions to become spiritual Olympians and athletes in the “game” many call life.  The Olympics is a great analogy. Apostle Paul uses the analogy of physical training in his letter to Timothy, urging him to train himself for godliness the same way disciplined athletes train for competition. 

Keywords: Train and discipline. 

Can you imagine the sacrifice that all the athletes made just to be part of the Olympics? Let’s consider one

in particular— Gabrielle Christina Victoria Douglas, aka, Gabby.  Her story is one of sacrifice and discipline not only for her, but for her family as well.  I was moved to tears watching the video about the sacrifice Gabby made to move away from her mom and loving family into the home of a host family some 3,000 miles away to train in pursuit of a life-changing dream. That dream is now reality, no doubt, beyond her expectation. What an awesome achievement as the world witnesses—16 year-old; U.S.A. all around gold medalist in the 2012 Olympics. All of their investments, hard work, discipline and sacrifices paid off.

I pondered the question: Why would someone make such sacrifices and devote so much of their time and energy into training? And then the answer was clear: Because of passion and purpose. It is a passion for something that compels…an innate gift and an undeniable ability that produce perseverance. The heart’s desire to achieve your dream is stronger than the physical pain you will bear, or the emotional pain you will suffer living with regrets if you fail to pursue the dream. And like, Gabby, sometimes the emotional pain can seem more unbearable than the physical pain.  But when purpose is calling someone— a mom, a host family,  a coach— tap into your potential and see the possibilities of a life-changing experience; therefore, they won’t let you quit, but will help you to fight for your dream. Why is that important? Because when the dream becomes reality, others are inspired…you are a witness; you are a model.  I’d even go so far as to say it is a ‘calling’, part of a Divine plan to reveal a greater purpose. In Gabby’s instance, a message of faith, hope, love and unity.  

Herein is the inspiration and motivation for us Christians.  We must answer the question: What is it that I am so passionate about; that I want so badly in my Christian walk of faith that I am willing to make sacrifices, and discipline myself by training untiringly to achieve it?  “Delight yourself also in the LORD, and He shall give you the desires of your heart” (Psalm 37:4).

I know it’s easy to become fainthearted, weary and discouraged when it seems life has dealt you a “bad” hand (Galatians 6:9; 2 Thessalonians 3:13). More often, it’s not a bad hand, but rather, our holding on to the hand of people, memory of places, and danger of  things that keep us from achieving the best that God has planned for us, and wants to give us. It may mean you have to separate yourself from those you love dearly.  

As Christians our lives are on display; we are the billboards along life’s highway. We are called to be witnesses to the world for Jesus Christ (Acts 1:8). Of course, it’s uncomfortable. Yes, there will always be ridicule, naysayers, opposition, and negative opinions.  Nevertheless, we must stand firm and not be persuaded to give up when the going gets tough, especially when people focus more on the minor rather than appreciate you for the accomplishments that make all of us proud. 

In America, athletes are often considered models; being in the public eye has its challenges especially when one is not ashamed to be a witness for Christ. We all need models— an example of how we should live; and how we should pursue our dreams in a godly manner, and then give glory to God when He blesses us to achieve those desires, which He placed in our hearts. 

In 1 Timothy Paul urges his loyal friend to become that model by accepting the discipline and hard work required to be a model— a spiritual Olympians—committed to pursuing a real relationship with Jesus Christ worth more than gold.  Paul admonished Timothy, “Train yourself to be godly. For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come”  (1 Timothy 4:7-8). In essence, it takes hard work and discipline to live a godly lifestyle.  However, what’s more important is that we have the Holy Spirit to help us.  If we let Him, he will lead and guide us. He will teach us how to compete in the race of life and seal our victory as spiritual Olympians—winners of the crown of life in glory.

The world is watching the 2012 World Olympics! What an opportune time to motivate and inspire someone to become spiritual Olympians and athletes in the race of life by being a disciplined Christian.

A Voice for all generations

TRIBUTE: A VOICE FOR ALL GENERATIONS… THEN, NOW AND THE FUTURE

On January 15, 1929, a baby boy was born to Reverend Martin Luther King, Sr. and Alberta Williams King and given the name, Martin Luther King, Jr.

The timeliness of his arrival was in proportion with his mission and purpose predestined by God before the foundation of the world.  Therefore, his growth and development into manhood and his advanced matriculation in education were necessary to meet the urgency of mankind’s need to hear what God had to say and wanted to do for generations to come.

To the unenlightened Dr. King was just an intelligent man with great oratorical skills who just wanted a public platform.  Many honor him only for his fight against segregation and inequity in the Deep South.  For many, observance of the holiday simply means recognizing a great civil rights leader.  Yet, for some, he was a voice that condemned the ugliness of racism smeared in the faces of coloreds and Jews.  To others, he was the voice of greatness— an icon to the rise of “black power.” To the degenerates who thrived on hatred and segregation, he was a dangerous threat to the kingdom of darkness that must be annihilated.

However, I know for me; he was ‘the voice of the Lord’ back then, now, and in the future! He was the voice of the Lord back then because segregation and injustice were worn like badges of honor, and celebrated with pride. Although public segregation is no longer, Dr. King’s message is the voice of the Lord now because the seeds of segregation are still being harvested in soils of ignorance, and injustice is a mockery. We see it acted out in the judicial system like the characters of Broadway productions. We see crimes of injustice committed by law enforcement agents, who are the very ones sworn to uphold the law and protect the citizens.

I was only sixteen years old when the news of his brutal assassination was announced at the small segregated school I attended in Louisiana.  To this day, I recall the emotional upheaval this news brought throughout the school as well our small community of labeled underprivileged “coloreds.”  In particular, I remember my own emotional outbursts.  It was a ‘gut-wrenching’ queasiness I’d never felt before. 

I believe the prophetic within me (not yet recognized or released) grieved for a truly prophetic voice silenced by a nation rebelling against God’s will for humanity; addicted to hatred and committing heinous acts of violence against its fellowmen.  I didn’t know then, but I know now that the spirit of heaviness overshadowed me because the resounding effects of an audible voice inspired by the Holy Spirit would be silenced forever.  This man was the voice of the Lord for all times!

I’ve read the history of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. several times.  But each year, it becomes clearer that this man was born for such a time, even as this.  His voice still echoes throughout the portals of time, and reminds us of the need for change—change that results in spiritually transformed hearts and minds—changed lives that conform to the standards of GOD ALMIGHTY, and attitudes that align with biblical principles and Christ’s command to love one another.

His messages, his courage, and boldness to speak out against the ills of society were in alignment with righteousness. However, his voice is being drowned out by the shouts of commercialization.  And unless we continue on the path of righteousness, his message will be diluted with watered down religious rhetoric, and no power to bring about change.

Dr. King’s messages were focused on man’s greatest needs; and 50+ years later, the needs are still great— justice, peace, and equality. God created all men equal, in His image and His likeness. Yes, we’ve come a long way.  The election of the first African-American man as president of the United States was a giant step on the path to progress, but we still have a long way to go until we all come into the knowledge of God’s will concerning justice and equality for all men.  Since the election of Barack Obama, there has been no shortage of racial slurs, subliminal messages, innuendos, jokes, jesters, and outright disdain expressed regarding his leadership.  These expressions of disdainful criticism reveal the secrets of a heart out of sync with the heart of God—discontented and disconnected.   Therefore, in order to meet man’s greater needs for justice, peace and equality are to have a new heart experience with the God of love, peace, and righteousness.

Dr. King preached peace and nonviolence.  This message is relevant today because man still longs for true love and spiritual peace. When the threat of war, violence and hatred dominate a society, peace and love become bywords, and God’s commands become grievous! God is love!  Therefore, just as the need was great years ago when Dr. King began fighting the good fight of faith, it is even greater today.  He preached peace because Christ paid the ultimate price for our peace—peace with God through faith in His Son Jesus Christ.  When men are not at peace with God, there can be no peace with his fellow man.  Consequently, wars, crimes, and violence are inevitable in a depraved society.   But, there is hope because with God all things are possible.

In a message on Peace, in 1964, Dr. King said, “Sooner or later all the people of the world will have to discover a way to live together in peace and thereby transform this pending cosmic elegy into a creative psalm of brotherhood. I refuse to accept the view that mankind is so tragically bound to the starless midnight of racism and war that the bright daybreak of peace and brotherhood can never become a reality.  This is why right temporarily defeated is stronger than evil triumphant.”1

Dr. King understood that Jesus Christ is the Way, the Truth and the Life. Because Christ is our hope, he declared boldly and with tenacity, “Let freedom ring.”  He understood that freedom is the reward of knowing Truth.  Dr. King knew that when America embraces the Truth, we would be free at last.

He was confident in his mission and sincere in his message.  He was not intimidated by men to conform to their systems of injustice, ungodly beliefs, and immoral values.  He stood courageously in the face of opposition to deflect the darts of unrighteousness that penetrated the concrete walls of pride, hatred, and selfishness.

On nonconformity, in 1963, he said, “This hour in history needs a dedicated circle of transformed nonconformists.  Dangerous passions of pride, hatred and selfishness are enthroned in our lives; truth lies prostrate on the rugged hills of nameless Calvaries.  The saving of our world from pending doom will come, not through the complacent adjustment of the conforming majority, but through the creative maladjustment of a nonconforming minority.”2

Ultimately, Dr. King’s mountaintop experience afforded him a privilege few will have in their lifetime—to see the Promised Land.  I believe seeing the Promised Land gave him the assurance, confidence, and hope that we all must live by daily—that God’s kingdom will come, and His will shall be done on Earth as it is in Heaven, although he wouldn’t live long enough to see it come to pass.

On April 3, 1968, Dr. King said, “Well, I don’t know what will happen now.  We’ve got some difficult days ahead.  But it doesn’t matter with me now because I’ve been to the mountaintop.  And I don’t mind.  Like anybody, I would like to live a long life.  Longevity has its place.  But I’m not concerned about that now.  I just want to do God’s will.  And He’s allowed me to go up to the mountain.  And I’ve looked over.  And I’ve seen the Promised Land.  I may not get there with you.  But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people will get to the Promised Land.  And I’m happy, tonight.  I’m not worried about anything.  I’m not fearing any man.  Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord.”3

I believe this spiritual encounter enabled Dr. King to release everything and everyone into the Master’s hand—his life, his family, his work, his country, and this world.  He had answered the call of God on his life.  He had done the will of God. He had lifted up his voice like a trumpet in Zion and sacrificed all for the Master.  He had fought a good fight and finished his course.

He had presented his body as a living sacrifice.  He was pressed on every side, and oftentimes felt forsaken; yet, he didn’t conform to this world. Instead, he was transformed by the renewing of his mind.  He understood the good and acceptable and perfect will of God for his life; therefore, he proclaimed it to the world without compromise.

Today, the greatest honor we can bestow upon this man of God would be to surrender our lives to the will of God as he did without fear of man who can kill the body, but rather fearing Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell (Matt. 10:28). Today, the greatest honor we can bestow upon Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. is to yield our members as instruments of righteousness for the Master’s use as he did—not as perfect beings, yet denying all for the Kingdom with the understanding that we are the righteousness of God in Christ.

I ask the question, often, “Lord, will there be another voice that will take up the cause of Your Kingdom without expectation of human rewards, accolades, and notoriety?

Who will be the voice of the Lord?  Let it not be the voice of one man alone, but many that will be heard as one voice.

I pray, Let the Church (the Body of Christ) be the voice of the Lord.  Though we are many members, let us declare in unison as one Body, “I am the voice of the Lord.”

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