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Archive for June, 2010

 LE JEU LE PLUS LONG

If you are not at least a casual sports fan then perhaps nothing, but if you care even the least for sport it means as my favorite Englishman would say “magic”.  American John Isner outlasted and out fought Frenchmen Nicolas Mahut for the victory which took merely 11 hours and 5 minutes 70-68 in the seemingly eternally perpetual 5th set.  the match spanned in part three days and twice was suspended due to darkness.  On the second day of play when the match was deep in the 5th set (which used to mean something like 5-4, and now means 46-45) the two men were countering one another with service hold after service hold.  Isner who measures at 6’9 (I have seen him in person, and he is every bit of it) was walking around the court (both during and after each point) looking the part  of a tree which at any moment was destined to fall lifelessly to the ground.  Mahut, remarkably on the other hand seemed to be able to cope the fatigue much better, even at one point diving for a short volley after being pulled completely off the court.  This match was already being referred to as “epic”  while it was being played.  It is very likely (and by very likely I mean will never happen again)  we who were so privileged to witness history will never see anything close to this again.  So where does this match among all time matches?  Well it was defiantly the longest, but I would say it now has to be placed in the top 5 matches of all time.  Short of winning a slam, this for both players will likely be the highlight of both their careers.  It can’t be the greatest match of all time because for one it was a first round match, and second because the tennis at times and especially deep in the third set was not of the highest quality.   The serving was of the highest quality however throughout most of the match, as now we have the top two record holders for aces in a match with Isner at 112 and Mahut at 103.  If you have oh say, 11 hours and 5 minutes to spare I would highly encourage you to match this match at some point in the future.  Or, if you don’t have that much time just watch the 5th set (that will only set you back 8 hours and 11 minutes).  Congrats to both players for their brilliance, resistance, tenacity, and perseverance on the tennis court.  You both are champions in my tennis book, and for your efforts I say (not that they or anyone else will care) you two played a top five tennis match of all time.  And long after both your tennis candles have burned out (thanks to Elton John for the candle reference) your story will be told, your names will live on.

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I know, I know, this seems like a complete contradiction, but if you “choose” to read on I believe it will make sense.  I will go ahead and present my thesis;  We can’t  often choose how we glorify God, we can however choose whether or not we will glorify God.  Let me explain with this story…Yesterday I was chatting with Georgia Tech Head Women’s Tennis coach Brian Shelton about the herniated disc I have in my lower back.  I was admittedly felling a bit sorry for myself in sharing with him the limitations my back renders me.  I explained to him how I wanted to remain , active my whole life, how just recently I had begun playing the best tennis of my life, and how I was always with some level of pain.  Then, I went to the restroom to wash my hands prior to leaving and God reveled something significant to me.  It was in that moment, as I was washing my hands and looking deep into my own eyes that God helped me see that we don’t often get to choose our own circumstance or situation to glorify God in, he simply asks us to glorify Him in whatever situation or circumstance we are in.  God did not ask my permission  when he allowed me to have Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. He did not ask me if I would like a herniated disc in my back.  God did not inquire with Texas Pastor Matt Chandler as to how he would feel about a brain tumor, nor did he ask Job if he could take everything away.  The reason God did not ask/does not ask our  permission is because one, He does not need our permission to act on any matter in anyone’s life, and second, if he did ask us most of the time we would say no.  That means there would be no book of Job, Matt Chandler would not be reaching even more souls, and I would not be writing this to you.  We would always choose the lesser, safer, easier path for ourselves.  God knows this, and he knows how to make us like Christ, and most often that involves suffering.  Now, please don’t think I am comparing my situation with that of Job’s of Matt Chandler.  Their suffering is far greater than mine presently is, and so is their faith I believe.  Matt Chandler is not “wasting his cancer” as others have said.  He is using a bad thing like disease to bring Glory to God and hope and strength to believers, as well as a bold witness to the church and beyond.  After washing my hands I walked up to coach’s office and apologized for feeling sorry and focusing on myself.  I told him what I believed God had just revealed to me, and how I wanted to use my “light and momentary affliction” to glorify God.  God does not owe me anything, not good health, not money, not safety.  But I owe my life to Christ, because he gave his for me.  I do not serve as counsel to the most high, he decrees and it comes to pass.  In this life you may not always find yourself in the place, time, or situation you would like to be in.  Regardless of your circumstance try this, instead of focusing on yourself and trying to fix your problem (this does not mean you should not seek out medical attention…that would be unwise) immediately, ask God how you can glorify him in and through your specific circumstance.  After all, our bodies will not last forever, but God’s glory will.

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In the recent passing of college basketball’s greatest teacher Coach John Wooden I ran across a great quote from the Coach Wooden.  He was known for many great teachings to his players about basketball and life.  He was also a man of great and godly wisdom who was very quotable.  This quote however stood out to me the most, “Your character is who you are, your reputation is who people think you are”. Perhaps it is because I am currently reading through Job this stood out to me, or perhaps it is because I, like many others often become more concerned with others think about me and not pleasing God.  Job first…After God allows Satan to cause Job to suffer great loss in his finances, his health, and the deaths of his children, Job has three friends who come to visit him.  After seven days of sitting in silence with him (man, I wish I could just get some of my friends to return my phone calls…but that is for another day) they each begin to speak to Job.  All three men believe Job has sinned terribly before God and is receiving just and due punishments for his actions.  And each time after his “wise”  friends speak  Job appeals to them and to God his innocence.  He speaks boldly and confidently to them that this has nothing to do with his character, but is something God has allowed to come upon him for reasons he does not yet understand.  Job wants his friends to know that more than his reputation, his character is on trial here.  He wants them to realize that as much depends on him, he is right  standing before God.  Job in his defense before his friends says, “”Will it be well with you when he searches you out?  Or can you deceive him as one deceives a man”( Job 13:9)  Job reminds his friends that unlike men, God can not be deceived, and every motive, thought, and deed is and will be searched and found out by our creator.  God knows Job’s heart, his friends presume to do the same, but only God is able to rightly judge a man’s character.  Job is confident these present sufferings are not caused bu his own sin, but rather he is under the hand of God.  As for me personally, I tend to focus at time on the opinions concerning me and not the approval of God.  It is so much easier isn’t it to pretend in public (@ work, church, with friends)  that all is well, in fact very well.  We are easy to put on appearances that would suggest we and our house have it together when really we are struggling like most others.  Struggling you might ask?  You mean financially?  No, I mean with sin.  Pastor Steve Scroggins of First Baptist Opelika says , “the truest test of one’s character is found in his home.”  Well then friends I am a failure.  The home is a place where are sins are most exposed.  My pride, selfishness, bitterness (and many more) and put on display here in my home.  Even recently I have been more irritable, and less patient with those in my own home than elsewhere.  I have to “man up”  and face the facts, I have got to be a better husband and father.  It ultimately matters not what people think about my marriage, what matters chiefly is that I have a strong, growing marriage.  Ah, but here in lies our problem.  You and I often concern ourselves with impressions and appearances.  We present ourselves, our marriages, our homes as though everything is great (which at times they surely are) and we have not a care in the world to carry.  Appearances after all are much easier to keep up than relationships.  Appearances take only a little effort for over a small amount of time.  Relationships take maximum effort all the time (those that are and desire to be good anyway).  I am not saying that you and I live “double lives” (though some surely do).  What I am saying rather, is you and I need to focuses more on our character before God than our appearances before man.  Our character is ultimately what we will give an account for before God, our appearance well…you and I better hope He sees Christ and not us.

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11In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus. 12Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires. 13Do not offer the parts of your body to sin, as instruments of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God, as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer the parts of your body to him as instruments of righteousness. 14For sin shall not be your master, because you are not under law, but under grace. Romans 6:11-14

Have you ever considered your own body parts as instruments?  Well, Paul apparently did, and he gives us some great wisdom here in Romans 6 concerning how we should use them.  That means our eyes, ears, mind, hands, feet, sexual organs can all be used to glorify God, but they can also be used to please ourselves through sin.  Take a hammer for example, in the right hands it can do good things like hammer nails that go toward building houses, and swing sets, or a  tree-houses.  In the wrong hands however, it can be used for evil, like hitting someone in the head (I know a bit extreme) or nailing a  sinless savior to a cross.  The hammer is just the tool, it has no will of its own, it does as its master wills.  Similarly, our hands, feet, eyes, sexual organs, and mind obey our heart.  If me ultimately desire to please God in our hearts then we will use our body parts for His glory.  But if in our hearts we choose to please ourselves chiefly then we will sin against God.  We always do what we find most pleasurable or desireable.  The will follows the heart.  So, it is ultimately a heart issue for you and me, do we desire to please God or ourselves.  We can not serve two masters.  Paul urges the Romans here to quit sinning since we are no longer salves to sin and its master, and instead bind ourselves to the Lord Jesus Christ and use our whole body for good and not evil.  Once, all of us when were dead in our sin used our bodies for one thing…to please our own desires.  Now however, we are made alive in Christ, we are no longer slaves to sin, and we can now use our own bodies for something far greater than ourselves, we can use them for God.  Friends, I pray all of us who are believers would vow to use our bodies not to fulfil our own desires and passions, but that we might use our bodies to fulfill the passion and desire of God…to worship God with our whole being by making Jesus Christ known to all peoples, so they too may glorify and enjoy Him forever.     

Romans 12:1-2

1Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship. 2Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will

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