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Olympians and Christians

Olympics Medal London 2012    I was watching the Olympics and it wasn’t long before I heard one of the personal stories that the games have become known for over the years.  A story of sacrifice and suffering characterizes the very different life of an Olympian.

I then saw a commercial in which various different athletes declared small sacrifices they have made: “I haven’t watched TV since last summer,” ” I haven’t had dessert in a year,” “I missed my school prom,”  etc.

As I thought about these sacrifices, I reflected on the Christian life and how, in many ways, the life of an aspiring Olympian is similar.   Christian men sacrifice daily for their wives, family and for God.  They don’t do what they want to do.  They stand out.  They are different from everyone else and that is difficult.   It takes strength, courage, and most of all, faith!

Purity ring men

I was told recently about a young relative who wears a purity ring.  The ring reminds him that he is saving himself for marriage.  So, when he is tempted, when he has desires, he can stop and realize that there is something better in store for him.  I’m sure this faith in God’s promises strengthens him.  In many ways this ring is a reminder of the medal (or the crown as the Bible calls it) that we ought to strive for in the race of our lives.

“I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” – Philippians 3:14 (NIV)

“Cheap grace is the preaching of forgiveness without requiring repentance, baptism without church discipline, Communion without confession, absolution without personal confession. Cheap grace is grace without discipleship, grace without the cross, grace without Jesus Christ. ” –  Dietrich Bonhoeffer

“If we do anything to further the kingdom of God, we may expect to find what Christ found on that road – abuse, indifference, injustice, misunderstanding, trouble of some kind. Take it. Why not? To that you were called. In Latin America someone who feels sorry for himself is said to look like a donkey in a downpour. If we think of the glorious fact that we are on the same path with Jesus, we might see a rainbow. ” – Elisabeth Elliot

“To take up the cross of Christ is no great action done once for all; it consists in the continual practice of small duties which are distasteful to us.” – John Henry Newman

“You were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body.” – 1 Corinthians 6:20

“If the ultimate, the hardest, cannot be asked of me; if my fellows hesitate to ask it and turn to someone else, then I know nothing of Calvary love. ” – Amy Carmichael

You see our sacrifices are nothing, as Paul said so well in Philippians 3:8: “What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ.”

May we gain the prize, Christ!!

Amen!

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Real Revolutions Start with Sacrifice

All true revolutions seem to have started with huge sacrifices, in many cases including martyrdom.  I believe it is because we have a sense of justice and rightness.  An inherit willingness to die for a cause or for someone we love.  This is just one of the ways we were made in God’s image.

A person or a small group of people see an injustice and can no longer keep quiet.  They have what Bill Hybels calls a “Popeye moment”.   That is they have a moment of holy discontent, they say “I’ve had all I can stand, I can’t stands no more!”  They decide that this is a cause worth fighting, a cause worth dying for.  They put on the gloves, they take up their cross and get to work.  This moment “prompts us not to indifference and not to despair, but a moment that empowers us to rise up and do something about it.”

Pastor and playwright Kay Munk lived in Denmark amid Germany’s occupation during World War II.  He drew the attention of the Gestapo because of his outspoken opposition to the persecution of the Jews in Denmark.  

In 1941, he preached on the Good Samaritan. In his sermon he stated that “Christ-ians follow Jesus by loving their neighbors as themselves. This is the truth that the Good Samaritan tale puts before us; it calls its hearers to face up to the needs of a flesh and blood neighbor.  To have a flesh and blood neighbor,” says Munk, “puts you in an either/or position. Either you may be a help to your neighbor or a burden.” Either you protect the sheep or you are one of the wolves.

Munk insisted on, and showed unflinching honesty about, what is helpful. To name the wolves so that the flock can protect itself better helps the neighbor in Jesus’ name. The wolves must be resisted for the sheep’s sake, and for their own sakes. Munk says: “It was not the task of the Good Samaritan to look up the robbers afterwards and compliment them for work well done. The goodness of God as we see it in Jesus is meek and long-suffering, but never compromises with evil.” 

Therefore he called for mercy for the Jews, striking workers, hungry in city and on farms, and for confused children in an unstable world.

He was executed by the Gestapo in January of 1944.  His body was found in a ditch by the side of the road, his Bible was next to him, along with this writing:

“What is, therefore, our task today?  Shall I answer “Faith, hope and love?”  That sounds beautiful.  But I would say – courage.  No, even that is not challenging enough to be the whole truth.  Our task today is recklessness.  For what we Christians lack is not psychology or literature…we lack a holy rage – the recklessness which comes from the knowledge of God and humanity.

 The ability to rage when justice lies prostrate on the streets, and when the lie rages across the face of the earth…a holy anger about the things that are wrong in the world.  To rage against the ravaging of God’s earth, and the destruction of God’s world.  To rage when little children must die of hunger, when the tables of the rich are sagging with food.  To rage at the senseless killing of so many, and against the madness of militaries.  To rage at the lies that calls the threat of death and the strategy of destruction, peace.  To rage against complacency.  To restlessly seek that recklessness that will challenge and seek to change human history until it conforms to the norms of the Kingdom of God.  

 And remember the signs of the Christian Church have been the Lion, the Lamb, the Dove, and the Fish…but never the chameleon.” (As found in Irresistible Revolution pg. 294)

His killers honored Munk’s outspoken resistance to the Nazi occupation by their ruthless but futile determination to silence him.  The people heard his message. Despite the danger from the Nazis who had killed Munk, four thousand Danes came to his funeral. They commemorated him with a lively courage and faith like his own, both then and throughout the war.

Good shepherds protect the sheep from the wolves. Munk insisted: “Jesus’ fight against the wolves continues through the church which will allow itself to be torn to pieces rather than let robber or wolf gain entrance to the fold.”

Will you answer the call and stand up for your family, your children, your wife.  Saying I see the wolves in our society.  The wolves of materialism and selfishness.  I choose to sacrifice my time and ambitions for the sake of my family and friends.  For “I’ve had all I can stand and I can’t stands no more!”

If your answer is yes, see www.NYMensMinistry.com/MENTOR

Material garnered from some of the following sites: 

http://www.pietisten.org/summer99/kajmunk.html

http://www.richfieldumc.org/20110417.htm

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/01/23/weekinreview/23worth.html