Monday, December 16, 2013

Overcoming the giants in your life

Being a Baylor athlete and graduate, I've known what it is like to be the whipping dog, enduring years of getting beat down in sports.  Being a private Christian University presents quite a challenge in a league filled with giant state universities.  As recent as three years ago, many said Baylor didn't belong playing with the big boys. It was impossible for this private school to compete in the big sports. But something changed a few seasons ago, starting with the women's basketball team.  Baylor began to whip both the basketball and football Goliath's more than they lost.  And now, the little University that couldn't, has risen to the elite ranks of the college football and basketball rankings with their first BCS bowl game and national championships in women's basketball and an NIT championship in men's basketball. Exactly how Baylor accomplished this, not just in one sport but in the big three; football, and men's and women's basketball, would be a great study in overcoming what others perceived as insurmountable odds.

Malcolm Gladwell's book, David and Goliath tackles exactly that subject, the battles and victories of the weak over the mighty.. He uses a lot of examples and research to show that what many perceive as advantages may well be disadvantages and what looks to the world as a disadvantage may actually be to your advantage. Young David of the Old Testament dismissed the king's method of arming himself, (conventional wisdom), and used his unique slingshot skills to take advantage of a big, well armed, Goliath.  All were surprised that the little, undermatched David could conquer Golitath so easily.  But when you look at how he did it, you see that David used what was perceived as Goliath's strengths against him and his strengths were actually weaknesses.  watch Gladwell talk about David and Goliath 

Baylor has somehow taken its disadvantage (being a smaller Christian school) and turned that into an advantage to lure the kind of coaches and athletes to the school to make this remarkable turnaround that many believed impossible. The football team has transformed it's image into a entertaining, high flying, offensive team with contemporary, colorful uniforms.  Now high school athletes perceive that it is cool to be a Bear and when they come for a visit, they experience community, values and an intimacy that they may not get at other schools.  And winning makes it all the easier to draw the kind of athletes that you want. 

On the flip side is the giant University of Texas. The creation of The Longhorn TV network was perceived to be an incredible advantage for the Longhorns, so much so, that Texas A&M left the Big 12 as other schools cried foul!  But since the start of the network, the UT football, basketball and baseball teams have fallen to their lowest levels in decades. Now the jury is still out on how much of an advantage the network will actually be for UT athletics. Most everyone agrees (except Aggies) that Texas will return to the top and it may just be a coincidence that the football, baseball, basketball and women's basketball team's struggles have coincided with the start of the network. But could it be that the added responsibilities of the network to the coaches has affected negatively on their coaching? Perhaps starting such a venture has taken the focus from the games themselves. Who knows. But what everyone perceived as a huge advantage may actually be a disadvantage.

Another great example of what we believe to be a disadvantage, has actually been the stimulus to rapid growth of the Gospel in China.  The government's persecution of the institutional Church in China has caused the movement to go underground and grow rapidly through small groups. You may read about how Christianity has thrived in China in the face of massive persecution. 

Gladwell's premise along with the many examples in the Bible, show us that perception is not always reality. What we often see as disabilities, problems, and challenges with insurmountable odds can often be used as actual advantages and the training ground that propels us to success.  The unique weaknesses in our life can become our greatest strength when we place them into the hands of God and allow Him to use them for His glory!  And sometimes what we think are great advantages, such as wealth, power and size can actually be weaknesses.  

Never allow the giants in your life to intimidate you. As you work to defeat or overcome them, God will use each one to help you become the person He created you to be and to accomplish what God wants you to achieve.

2 Cor. 12:9-10
And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 
Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ's sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Our Works Colored In By The Father

I saw this wonderful post on Facebook and was fascinated by the drawings of Tatsputin. 
This father takes simple pictures drawn by his children and colors in the drawings while on the plane during business trips.  Whenever he returns home, his children always look forward to seeing the results.  

Check out these incredible drawings

As I scrolled down through the amazing drawings, I thought how great an illustration this is to what God does to our endeavors.  Ephesians 3:20 Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us. When we put our labor and efforts into God's hands, the Bible says God will turn our lives and work into so much more, more than we can even imagine.  Even in times when we fear we are not up to the task, if we just obey Him, and try, God will take our simple efforts and add color so that our undertaking is often God's masterpiece.  

As I look back on my life, I am amazed to see how God has used circumstances and my puny efforts to bring about life change in me and in others. I never thought when I chose to follow God, that I'd be able to go to the places I've traveled and share the Gospel with the many I've been able to.  

However, I don't know the half of what God has accomplished through me.  We don't get to see the completed picture on earth.  We will only get to see the true extent of how much God has colored in our accomplishments when we get to heaven.  Won't we all be surprised (just as the children who drew the picture when they saw what their father had done) when we get to heaven and see the impact of our obedience to God and how he has magnified our efforts for His kingdom to His glory.  

When we feel inadequate or incapable of doing what God has called us to do, we should put our trust in Him, obey and leave the results up to our Father who colors in all of our works by and through His grace.  John 15:5 “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.  

What Do Nesting Dolls and the Gospel have in common

Ephesians 2:8-10 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— 9 not by w...