Marriage Advice

One of my closest friends in the galaxy got married last week. 
The advice I gave her, I photoshoped  into this picture.

Olympians 13: Rack, Shack, Benny and ...

The Jamaicans have done it again.
It is one thing to run a race solo.
It is a different ball game to run as a team.
One weak link and the whole strategy falls apart.
One failed pass and the whole team gets disqualified.
The anchor can fulfill or destroy the dream with each stride taken.

Earlier in this series we looked at
Shadrach, Meshach, Abednego and Belteshazzar. 

Today we take a closer look.

Belteshazzar was missing in action (MIA) and the Bible is silent as to why. So when the king called together everyone to participate in his vanity affair, only Rack, Shack and Benny had to stand and explain themselves. In Daniel chapter 3, we see three men stand up for their beliefs regardless of the consequences. Their response is
 "...If that is the case, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and He will deliver us from your hand, O king.But if not, let it be known to you, O king, that we do not serve your gods, nor will we worship the gold image which you have set up.”

Their response wasn't conditional on God's reaction. They were willing to die for what they believed in. They ran their leg of the race to the fullest. But 3 quarters does not make a whole.

After being thrown in the fire, King Nebu looks in and says

25 “Look!” he answered, “I see four men loose, walking in the midst of the fire; and they are not hurt, and the form of the fourth is like the Son of God.”

The three guys ran their part of the race but only Jesus could finish it. They put in all of their strength and energy but only God could complete it. Just like these three men, without Jesus our race is incomplete. Jesus is the only anchor that can finish our race. For some of us, the reason why Jesus is absent in our race is because we have barely run our own leg of the race, content to watch from the sidelines, for others we have allowed the evil one to prevent us from even lacing up. Running the race comes by practice. As long as we neglect to exercise, through reading His word and praying, we will never be fit enough to run our lap. So the next time you feel the urge to take a break or watch from the sidelines remember that .....

An Olympian is one who puts in their best and let's God do the rest

An Olympian is one who realizes that Jesus is the only Anchor that can complete the race

An Olympian is one who doesn't weigh their choices by God's presents but by His presence

Rack, Shack and Benny are Olympians

Olympian 12: Abraham

They gave it their best shot and lost. 
4 - 3 that was the score after 120+ grueling minutes on the soccer field against the US team. 

Playing the bronze medal match they found themselves in a familiar position, playing against a team that had previously beaten them at the World Cup in 2011. THE FRENCH. The score was 4 - 0  back then. OUCH.

For 90 minutes they played, neither side scoring a goal and then when it seemed like all hope was lost in the last minute, they scored. 
This is the first time that Canada has won an Olympic medal in soccer EVER. 

What is it about last minute miracles that thrills the soul. 

Abraham was 100 years old, his wife had put in 90 minutes, I mean years and yet, when God told them in Gen. 18, your wife will have a son by this time next year. Now this wasn't an immaculate conception, so Abraham had a part to play. He could have chosen to complain and reflect on the 50 years of barren sex, but he didn't,

and we all know the rest of the story. 

It is hard to get back in the game after a loss, don't let anyone convince otherwise. One of the most frustrating things in life is disappointment after given it your best shot. So the next time you find yourself, counting hours, or years remember that ...

An Olympian is one who accepts defeat and tries again
An Olympian is one who recognizes that as long as you have breathe, it ain't over. 

Abraham is an Olympian

right now I'm thinking of that song by M. Brown Clark, It Ain't Over until God's says it over

Olympian 11: Mary

One wrong decision and all his dreams went up in smoke
On Monday, Taoufik Makhloufi started the 800m race, dropped out and then was seen seconds later cheering the other runners along. I don't why he started the race in the first place, but it was a conscious choice on his part. This act got him kicked out of the Summer Games because the organizers believed he wasn't trying hard enough.

Second chance
His country protested and he was subsequently reinstated. On Tuesday, he showed the world that his effort was golden by winning the 1500m.

One wrong decision and all her dreams went up in smoke
I don't know how she ended up in that situation, caught red-handed with another woman's husband. But the fact remains that it was a conscious choice on her part. This act got her paraded in front of Jesus, barely clothed by the blood thirsty Pharisees.

Second chance
Jesus protested her treatment (not her sin) by pointing out to the Pharisees that nobody was in a position to judge. On Passover Sunday, she showed the world that her faith was true by being the first to run to the tomb to see if He had risen.

Sometimes we mess up and we have no one to blame but ourselves. The world acts as judge and jury and hands down a harsh sentence, but we have an Advocate who as long as we breathe offers us a second chance. I don't know what you have done in the past, but the next time someone tries to define your future by your poor past decisions remember that ...

An Olympian is one who learns from their mistakes
An Olympian is one who uses second chances to change their story
An Olympian is one who finds favor and grace in Christ and races past their past

Mary Magdalene is an Olympian

Olympian 10: Ruth

Kirani James won the first Olympic medal for his country today. Not only was this the first medal for his country in the 28 years that they have been participating in the Olympics but it's the Gold medal. Not only did he win the Gold medal, he did it with class. Look for the video online and see this kid (he is still a teenager) shake the hand of every other athlete before taking his victory lap. Not only did he win a gold medal and do it with class, he also did it with grace and humility by recognizing the greatness of fellow athlete  Oscar Pistorius who had just lost the qualifying race the day before.

The inception of her nation was incest and drunkenness.
In order to satisfy their greed they sacrificed their children to the god Chemosh.
This is her ancestry, her people and yet with class she let's her mother-in-law know

Your people shall be my people,
And your God, my God.
 Where you die, I will die,
And there will I be buried.
The Lord do so to me, and more also,
If anything but death parts you and me.

She could have chosen to return with Orpah, she also could have stayed and told Naomi that " Look you need help, you are old and decrepit and need someone, so I'm here, be grateful. You owe me big time."
Consider it from a materialistic perspective Ruth was doing Naomi a favor and not the other way around. Even Boaz affirms this point when he first meets her. 

A couple of months (or years) later she seeks out Boaz at the threshing floor, and once again with humility and class she proposes to him and says“I am Ruth, your maidservant. Take your maidservant under your wing, for you are a close relative.” She could have found a young spry man but she didn't, she sought him out at the cover of night to provide him a perfect cover in case he wanted to refuse her. Boaz realizing his good fortune says "Are you sure you want an aged man like me"

and the rest is history. 

A classy faith is beautiful to behold because it bestows grace and favor on the unfortunate. Winning sometimes isn't everything, the manner in which you carry your victory also makes a powerful statement about your character. So the next time you succeed, remember that ....

An Olympian does not boast in oneself
An Olympian is one who treats others with dignity and grace

An Olympian is one whose victory is rooted in faith and tempered by grace. 

Ruth is an Olympian

Olympian 9: David

This is the second time (since the start of these 2012 games) that I have taken time out of my busy (lol) schedule to watch the Olympics.
4:50 in London Ontario, 9:50 in London England on the fifth day of August.
Words cannot describe it but seeing 6 of the fastest men in the world on the same stretch left me speechless.
Here's the weird thing, I'm not from the Netherlands, Trinidad, USA or Jamaica and yet with anticipation I sat at the edge of my seat, eyes glued to the screen, fixated on Usain.

At the beginning of the story, he started slow

At the midpoint, he struggled to catch up

At the end, he overcame

At the beginning of his story
David started out as a forgotten kid stuck with the animals. Even when Priest Samuel didn't anoint any of his brothers, his father, Jesse had to think twice before recalling that he indeed had one more son.

At the midpoint
His father-in-law tried to kill him, not once and definitely not twice.
15+ years after that, he messes up and gets busy with a lady taking a bath, named Bathsheba.
Raised messed up kids, synonymous with incest, murder,coup, rebellion,
and yet.....

At the end
He is called a man after God's own heart.

It isn't about how you start the race. It is about how you finish it. So run with endurance the race that is marked out for you. Stay in your lane, keeping your eyes fixed on the One who is the Author and Finisher of your Faith. The Alpha and Omega, has marked out your lane and it MUST be different from mine because our spiritual genetic code is as diverse as the physical ones. So wake up, where ever you are in your journey, get back in the race and remember that ....

An Olympian is not defined by how they start, but how they finish
An Olympian doesn't allow humble beginnings to define their destiny
An Olympian perseveres, day in, day out, until the ultimate goal is achieved. 

David is an Olympian

Olympian 8: Joseph

16 year old Ye Shiwen was naive enough to believe that her talent would be appreciated on the global stage.  Instead of applause she was met with ridicule and suspicion, urine tests and snide comments.
Winner of 2 gold medals in swimming she has been put on the defensive and has had to defend herself numerous times

"In other countries, other swimmers have won multiple golds and nobody has said anything," Ye Shiwen told a news conference after her 200m IM win.
"How come people criticise me just because I have won multiple golds?"
Asked directly if she had ever used performance enhancing substances, the 16-year-old said: "Absolutely not."
Rewind a couple of thousands of years and collide into Joseph. This 17 year old was favored son of his father, pampered by his mother, and gifted by God with dreams.

His brothers responded, "So you think you will be our king, do you? Do you actually think you will reign over us?" And they hated him all the more because of his dreams and the way he talked about them. Gen. 37:8 NLT

What is it about greatness that frightens the masses?

Marianne Williams once said that

"Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine as children do. It's not just in some of us; it is in everyone. And as we let our own lights shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”

There is a fine line between aspiring for greatness and being so full of pride you stink up the joint. The only way to remain grounded is to remember that all your have been given is a gift from God. It is not of your own making. So the next time, someone tries to make you feel small for reaching for the stars, the next time your dreams are ridiculed remember that ...

An Olympian is not swayed by the narrow-minded comments of the masses
An Olympian does not allow the schemes of the "haters" to shape their mindset
An Olympian is that unique individual unafraid to shine, regardless of the consequences. 

Joseph is an Olympian

Olympians 7: The Disciples

How does someone with no toes stand? For each toe is necessary for balance.
How does someone with no feet walk? For each bone and tendon plays a part.
How does someone with no legs run? I have absolutely no idea.
And yet, the story of Oscar, the 400m South African double amputee runner is proof that those seemingly without can achieve greatness.

How does someone with no schooling teach?
How does someone who grew up on the streets preach?
How do 11 untrained men driven by materialistic goals change the world?

Faith is confidence that what we hoped for will come to pass.

This isn't cookie-cutter faith that is assured by back up plans.
This is walk on water when you don't know how to swim kinda faith.

Do you have it?

Don't let anyone ever tell you that faith is easy, cuz it's not. The disciples followed Christ for 3 years and then preached like crazy after he left, but have you ever thought what that would look like in 2012. A bunch of men leaving their families and friends, selling their possessions and taking it to the streets. Talking to anyone and everyone about this guy who disappeared. Some would end up in detainment camps like Abu Gharib, while others were shot in the back. One was sentenced to die by electrocution but for some reason the volts weren't enough to zap him dry and then his pardon  from the Governor came through and so he got on a plane and went to spread the word. Blacklisted and ridiculed with only the clothes on their back, believing that what He spoke will come to pass, they pressed on. So the next time you are asked to serve and excuses cloud your mind remember ....

An Olympian believes that what they hoped for will come to pass
An Olympian dedicates mind, soul, body, to achieve their ultimate goal.
An Olympian does not cower behind their inadequacies, but focuses on their abilities
An Olympian is one who realizes that every mountain is just another stepping stoneto greatness

The disciples are Olympians 

Olympians 6: Samuel & Isaac

With tears in her eyes, Natalie Hawkins said "I've raised an Olympian".
Two questions
What possesses a daughter to ask her mom to allow her to go thousands of miles away at the age of 12 to train?
What convinces a mom, two years later to relent and put her baby girl on a plane?
The truth is that I haven't been watching the Olympics but today I sat down for 10 minutes and watched Gabby Douglas win gold in the all around competition. So small and yet so magnificent, so young and yet so determined. Last year, no one knew her name, this year she raises to fame as the first African-american to win the all-round. Watch the full interview here with her moms.

Gen 22: 9 - 10
...And Abraham built an altar there and placed the wood in order; and he bound Isaac his son and laid him on the altar, upon the wood. And Abraham stretched out his hand and took the knife to slay his son. 

Two questions
What possesses a young virile boy to lie down and allow his old arthritis ridden father to tie him up?
What convinces a father to trust God with the life of his only son?

1 Samuel 1: 28; 2:18
Therefore I also have lent him to the Lord; as long as he lives he shall be lent to the Lord.”
But Samuel ministered before the Lord, even as a child, wearing a linen ephod.

Two questions
What possesses a young boy to serve God when surrounded by negative influence?
What convinces a mom to honor her vow and send away (at that time) her only son?

The easiest thing to do is to give an excuse, one of  the hardest thing is to sacrifice that which you would prefer to keep. The world we live in justifies the former and shuns the later. The bond between a parent and a child is profound and can elevate or eliminate a dream. A godly parent is hard to find and a trusting child even harder. From toddlers to high school kids, CEOs to head--of-states excuses abound, distrust reigns and destinies are altered. Be the godly parent, or be the trusting child and never forget that ...

An Olympian rises to the occasion and makes the big sacrifice
An Olympian cherishes the godly parent and shuns bad company
An Olympian is not one that makes excuses based on their upbringing
An Olympians trusts in God knowing that family is not limited to blood but bound in love

Samuel and Isaac are Olympians

Olympian 5: Samson

Not every Olympian exhibits wisdom.
Meet Polydamas of Skotoussa

  • He was a victor in the 93rd Olympiad in 408 BCE
  • His sport was Pankration (mixture of boxing and wrestling)
  • He once killed a lion with his bare hands on Mount Olympus
  • To prove that he could, one day he went among a herd of cattle and seized the biggest and fiercest bull and held on to its hoof, and because of his strong grip eventually the bull's hoof came off 
In the end however, his strength proved to be his downfall. One day Polydamas was relaxing with his friends and the roof of the cave they were in began to crumble. BELIEVING that his strength could prevent the cave-in, he held his hands up the roof, trying to support it. His friends fled the cave but he died there.

800 years or so earlier, a similar story is found in the book of Judges 14 - 16. 
Samson strength rivaled that of Polydamas, he killed a lion, used a jaw-bone of an ox to kill thousands of Philistines and the exploits go on. But just like Polydamas, he had one weakness. Most people like to assume that Samson's downfall was Delilah but I submit to you that Samson's Achilles heel was his belief in his own strength. 

Check this out.
20 And she said, “The Philistines are upon you, Samson!” So he awoke from his sleep, and said, I will go out as before, at other times, and shake myself free!” But he did not know that the Lord had departed from him.

Samson had told Delilah the secret to his strength and yet he still BELIEVED that he could escape. He had convinced himself that his strength was not as a result of divine blessing but training and skill. Why else would he tell her the secret behind his strength and still expect to escape his bonds. 

The beauty of Samson's story is that before his death he realized that his strength came from God and not man.
28 Then Samson called to the Lord, saying, “O Lord God, remember me, I pray! Strengthen me, I pray, just this once, O God, that I may with one blow take vengeance on the Philistines for my two eyes!”

The problem with being gifted is pride. It creeps in when you least expect it and settles deep within your being that you start to believe and ultimately convince yourself that your talent and skill is a result of your determination. One aspect of Christ's beauty is evident in His mercy. So the next time pride knocks on the door of your mind remember that ...

An Olympian is one who recognizes that their strength comes from the Lord
An Olympian is one who turns to God when confronted by their mistakes
An Olympian is one who realizes that physical prowess is temporal

Samson is an Olympian