A Long-Haul Mentality

race horses

In the book “Seabiscuit”, about the famous Depression racehorse, his trainer had to teach the horse to pace himself. Initially, Seabiscuit would streak out front, then run out of gas and lose the race. But eventually he learned pace himself, then put on a final burst to win.

As believers, it doesn’t really matter if we explode out of the starting gate. What really matters is how we finish. Paul had a long-haul mentality:

I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness…(2 Timothy 4:7-8).

Paul went the distance and made it to the final bell of the good fight. We need his long-range mindset.

We need this mindset with our children. On a day-to-day basis, it’s easy to get discouraged when we see little or no fruit. Usually we expect fruit in our kids too soon. Though God saves some at a young age, often he opens their eyes after years of parents sowing in faith.

We need a long-haul mentality when it feels like our church is in an eternal day of small beginnings. We need to think long-term about that new believer who’s victorious one day and in the “Slough of Despond” the next.

We need to think long-haul about ourselves. It’s easy to become discouraged with our spiritual growth when we analyze ourselves short-term. But look back 6 months or 6 years and you’ll see that Jesus has changed you.

We especially need to think long-term when we’re suffering. Scripture tells us to look ahead to eternity to the weight of glory our afflictions are producing (2 CO 4.17-18). Looking at them short-term, they seem heavy and endless. But in heaven we’ll see how light and momentary they actually are.

William Wilberforce began his battle to abolish slavery in England in 1787. Finally, after battling for 46 years, in 1833, Parliament passed the Slavery Abolition Act which abolished slavery in most of the British Empire. He died 3 days after the Act was passed. What if he had not had a long-haul mentality and quit after 5 years or 20 years?

Let’s think long-haul. Let’s fight the good fight today and keep running the race, for the glory of Christ.

Photo by SaraScho

God Does Good With Gusto

fountain

I will make with them an everlasting covenant, that I will not turn away from doing good to them. And I will put the fear of me in their hearts, that they may not turn from me. I will rejoice in doing them good, and I will plant them in this land in faithfulness, with all my heart and all my soul (JE 32.40-41).

One of my new prerogatives as a grandfather is spoiling my granddaughter.

Before vacation, I pillaged a number of neighborhood garage sales and carted home bags of colorful blocks, noisy toys and brightly colored books to give baby Charis. If I had the time and money, I’d probably convert Stephen and Jen’s home into a veritable Toys ‘R Us if they’d let me. I love blessing Charis, just like I love blessing my own kids.

But God loves to bless his children infinitely more. He’s made an unbreakable, unchangeable promise to never stop doing good to us. He pours out his kindness on us every hour of every day in this life and will continue to lavish the riches of his grace on us in the coming ages (EPH 2.7). God has bags and bags of grace stored up for us. And nothing, including our sins and failures will deter his generous hand.

There aren’t enough computers in the world to track his kindness to us. Even while we’re sleeping, he’s overnighting mercies to us, most of which we haven’t even sought.

He puts the fear of him in our hearts so we’ll never turn away from him. What security! If left to myself, I’d bolt from Jesus quicker than a cockroach from a spotlight. But our Father continually replenishes our love for him from the infinite spring of his own love.

And he doesn’t begrudgingly dole out blessings, but does good to us with gusto- “I will rejoice in doing them good.” He takes pleasure in heaping his love on us. Take the charge I get out of blessing my granddaughter and multiply it by infinity.

And God promises to bless us “with all my heart and all my soul.” Think of it: the Lord of the universe, doing good to us with all HIS heart and all HIS soul. I’d be happy if a human tried to bless me with all his human strength, but to have God promise to put his almighty heart and soul into blessing me leaves me speechless.

How can we not praise him?

Photo by discopalace

John Wilkes Booth Meets Sinclair Ferguson

John Wilkes Booth

Earlier this week I wrote a post entitled Lessons From John Wilkes Booth, which sought to draw insights for the Christian from the life of presidential assassin John Wilkes Booth. This is the part two of that post.

Meditation Leads to Action

Booth’s killing of Lincoln wasn’t a random act of wickedness. It was the result of much thinking, meditation, and fantasizing. Hatred for Lincoln festered in Booth’s heart for months before Booth finally pulled the trigger in Ford’s Theater. Six months before the assassination, Booth and his rebel comrades concocted a plan to kidnap Lincoln and hold him for ransom, only to be thwarted by faulty information regarding Lincoln’s whereabouts. On the day of the killing, Booth penned the following letter:

For a long time I have devoted my energies, my time and money, to the accomplishment of a certain end [kidnapping Lincoln]. I have been disappointed. The moment has arrived when I must change my plans. Many will blame me for what I am about to do, but posterity, I am sure, will justify me.

Clearly John Wilkes Booth spent many hours mulling over his intense hatred for Abraham Lincoln.

As I ponder the words of Booth, I’m reminded of the words of Sinclair Ferguson, who said the following (read this quote slowly):

The evangelical orientation is inward and subjective. We are far better at looking inward than we are looking outward. We need to expend our energies admiring, exploring, expositing, and extolling Jesus Christ.

John Wilkes Booth spent his energies thinking about the glorious cause of the Confederacy, and it led to drastic action on behalf of the Confederacy. I want to follow the wise advice of Sinclair Ferguson and spend my energies admiring, exploring, expositing, and extolling Jesus Christ.

Our tendency as Christians is to always be looking inward, interpreting all of life through the foggy lens of our feelings. Sinclair Ferguson is aware of this temptation and exhorts us to spend the majority of our time pondering the glories of Jesus Christ and all that he has done for us through his life, death, and resurrection.

What will be the result of regular meditation on Jesus Christ? Love for Christ. Service to Christ. Passion for the gospel. All these are the result of “expositing, exploring, and extolling Jesus Christ”. Meditation leads to action.

Question for discussion: How do we move from being people that are continually looking inward to people that spend their energies pondering Jesus?