“We didn’t stop believing we could win.”
“All of us in this locker room knew the game wasn’t over.”
“We believed in ourselves, and this belief brought us to victory.”
“Our fans didn’t believe we could win this game, but we had no doubt the victory would be ours.”
These are the quotes given whenever a sports team comes up with a dramatic victory. Whether it is a furious 2nd half comeback when all hope was lost or an upset over a more-talented opponent, these are the comments coming from the winning team.
If you are a sports fan, or have been a participant in a team sport, you have likely seen your share of dramatic victories and crushing defeats. Maybe your favorite team gave up 3 touchdowns in the final quarter, or perhaps you have been part of a team that knocked off a powerhouse.
Either way, the drama and excitement generated during these games is what keeps us watching.
All of which brings me back to the quotes from the winning team.
While I know first-hand the importance of believing against all odds, it is interesting these quotes always come after the game has ended. It seems as though these comments are easy to say when you win. Think about it, you never hear the loosing team say this when the comeback didn’t occur or when the favored team won.
I wonder what type of comments we could obtain during the heat of the battle.
Would the players have full confidence of a victory when they trail by 14 points with 2 minutes left in the game? Did these teams know for certain the game wasn’t over? Did any doubt start to creep in about what they could accomplish? While it makes for a great ending, I know these players had to have some doubts during the game.
I know I have doubted. I’ve turned off plenty of games when it appeared the outcome was decided only to be shocked when I saw the final score.
In addition, I have been on teams where my teammates and I knew winning was slim, and we concentrated on making it respectable rather than winning.
How then do these teams pull out these victories?
Sometimes, it’s a coach or a group of players who constantly encourage their teammates to keep believing. Other times, someone makes a key play which inspires the rest of the team and builds confidence. The bottom line is someone, or something, helps these teams overcome their unbelief.
What about our personal lives?
Without question, all of us have faced challenges and situations where things seemed bleak. Circumstances such as financial struggles, health concerns, and the well-being of our family members sometimes leave us doubting our beliefs. Even though we want to believe everything will work out, we find it hard to put this into practice.
Who can help us with unbelief?
In Mark 9, Jesus encounters a man whose son suffers from epileptic seizures (v17-18). The man asks Jesus if he is able to heal his son (v22). Jesus responds by saying he can heal his son as long as the man believes it can be done (v23). The man answers Jesus by saying he does believe but needs help with his unbelief (v24).
Sound familiar to any of us?
You see, this man wanted to believe Jesus could heal but had doubts in his mind. This man wasn’t sure Jesus could do what he said he could do. This man needed Jesus to help him overcome his doubts. Yet, after Jesus healed his son, this man’s doubts were more than likely erased.
Doubt. Fear. Uncertainty. Hopelessness. These emotions, and countless others, all run through our minds no matter how much belief we have. Whether it’s your favorite sports team faced with overcoming a huge deficit or it’s us facing uncertain times, we need someone to help us overcome our doubts.
While I am not sure how much Jesus cares about helping sports teams achieve victory, I know Jesus cares about helping us. I know Jesus wants and desires for us to believe in him and his power.
And, I know Jesus will help us overcome our doubts.
What about you?
Do you really believe Jesus will help you?
It’s nice to hear or read about a group of individuals who bought into the belief they could overcome incredible odds. However, when you are faced with a challenge, what will you do?
Are you going to give up or are you going to put your trust in Jesus? Are you going to worry about what you can’t do or are you going to focus on what Jesus can do?
Don’t give up. Put your trust in the Prince of Peace. Once you do, you’ll never stop believing.
I distinctly remember the first time I put on glasses and saw the world clearly. I was six years old.
I have really poor eyesight. Of course, I didn’t realize how poor it was until I put on glasses. I don’t remember having a hard time seeing. I don’t remember missing anything.
I assumed my mother took me to get my eyes examined because that’s what you did as a first grader. I thought it was the coolest thing: the letters on the wall, the flipping lens and all the fun little tests that seem to be designed just for children (“Can you see the hot air balloon?” “What number do you see in the colored dots?”).
Of course, I lived in rural Alabama, too, so it didn’t take much to entertain me. We only got five channels on the television!
Anyway, I remember being soooo excited when the optometrist said I needed glasses. How exciting! (thought my six year old self).
I got to pick out frames and even a cute little decoration to put on the lenses. I guess that was cool back then. The 10-day wait for the glasses to come in seemed to take for-ev-er. I begged my mom to call the doctor’s office every day to see if they had come in. Finally, they arrived!
When we went to pick them up I could barely contain my excitement. Would I get a glasses case? How would they look? Would I get dizzy when I put them on? (I had been warned about this as a possible side effect.) What actually happened was not what I was expecting. At all.
I could see.
I mean, I thought I could see before, but when I put those on and walked out of the office, I realized how much I had been missing.
I knew trees had individual leaves, but I had never really seen them while driving down the road or walking through the yard. I had only seen individual leaves when raking them or climbing a tree. I’m not sure where I thought they went (the leaves) when I looked at a tree. It just all became a big green blob that I knew to be a tree.
Probably the most remarkable was my realization that headlights on cars were not giant puffballs. I know, that may seem a little strange if you’ve always had good eyesight. What I mean is, pre-glasses, when I saw headlights at night, they looked like two giant puffballs of light affixed to the front of cars.
I wasn’t sure how that happened, but that was what I saw. When I had the glasses, though, I realized that headlights looked exactly the same at night and turned on as they did during the day, even when I was looking at them up close.
For all the things that literally became clearer and finally made sense to me, I still could not believe my eyes. I would look at the thing, remove my glasses and then put them back on again.
This would show me things as they really were and, without glasses, how they appeared to me. I would switch repeatedly between glasses and no glasses to make sure I was seeing correctly. It’s like I had to convince my eyes and my brain of reality.
As you can imagine, I never wanted to take off my glasses.
Now, you may be thinking, “I see where she is going with this. She is going to say that becoming a Christian was like putting on glasses for the first time. She could understand and see everything more clearly.”
Honestly, I kind of thought I was going to say that, too.
As I reflected on the metaphor, though, I realized that wasn’t really the case at all. I have realized that it wasn’t realistic to expect cosmic clarity on everything about life at the point of my baptism. Even if I had been an adult at the time of my commitment, I still don’t think that everything would have suddenly made sense at the point of becoming a Christian.
You know what?
LOTS of things are still blurry to me.
Why do children get diagnosed with illnesses that severely alter or shorten their lives? Why do people die tragically, leaving a spouse and young children behind to carry on? Why do terrorists randomly attack? Why is there so much injustice in the world? These are just the “big” questions.
In my everyday life, I don’t understand why I try my hardest on things at work and home, yet still come up short.
Why do my children still disobey when I’ve modeled and told them five times? Why do I overcook pork chops while trying to help with homework and convince a child to bathe on her own? Why do I sometimes want to stay in bed, when the day just seems like more than I feel equipped to handle? Why do I sometimes feel anxious or unsatisfied when everything is “fine” with my life?
Spoiler alert: I am not going to answer any of these questions. I don’t know the answers and I probably never will.
Being a Christian and having a biblical view of life do not automatically make things clearer. What it does do, however, is give me clarity on how everything is going to turn out.
In a nutshell, it gives me direction and perspective. My priorities are clear. Even when I get distracted by the world (and I certainly do…I’m highly distractible), I can always refocus by turning to God and His Word, the Bible.
When I don’t understand, I can be comforted by the fact that Jesus has already overcome the world. I don’t have to. I can just follow Him and do my best to be comfortable with not knowing.
The Bible doesn’t tell us that everything will be perfect and clear if we are Christians. It does say that “all things work together for good to those that love God to those who are called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28).
I think a common misconception of this verse is that everything in life will be good if you love God. This was a clarifying moment for me; when I first realized that this is NOT what this verse means.
What it means is that, in the very end, all things will be good for those who have obeyed God’s Word. If it isn’t clear, the very end is the end of time. So, I can’t really expect that everything will be “right” and “good” for me in life, even if I am trying my best to do what the Bible says. Hmmm. That one is a little hard to swallow…at least it is for me.
So, what does seeing clearly have to do with Christianity if I can’t expect to know everything clearly in life??
The Bible has a lot to say about this, too. I can pray when I don’t understand, just like David did in Psalm 119:18, that God will “open my eyes that I may see wonderful things in Your law.”
I can refocus when I get distracted by remembering that “no eye has seen nor ear has heard, and no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love Him” (I Corinthians 2:9).
And, when I’m just so tied up in this life and need to be reminded of the broader perspective, I can think on I Corinthians 13:10-12.
In this passage, which I won’t quote in its entirety here, Paul is talking to new Christians, pretty shortly after Jesus’s death, resurrection and the beginning of the church. Paul says something that I think is so relevant to this blurry/clear thing. “For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I also am known.”
He is telling those Christians (and me) that we are only seeing part of the story. We are seeing “dimly.” However, when we come to know Jesus and obey what the Bible says, we will gain access to His comfort, reassurance and guidance. We will be able to see, more clearly, the long view and God’s overall plan: to be together in heaven, where everything will be clear.
I’m still trying to be comfortable with not knowing and seeing everything clearly in this life. I know that God has cast a vision for my eternal future if I stay focused on Him. It will be perfectly clear and more incredible than I can imagine.
If you have ever deep cleaned your house then you know how tiresome it can be. It takes days to clean every nook and cranny, and after all that work, you may see somewhere that you’ve missed.
In the middle of the chore, you may think of ways of quickly completing the task, and maybe cut corners and not do as thorough of a job. The work seems unending; your favorite show is on and your back is hurting. I’ve been there.
Recently, I tried my hand at cleaning other people’s homes. I understood the people I was cleaning for would want their house cleaner than I kept mine, which was a bit of a daunting task as I am, generally, THE Neat Freak of neat freaks.
My parents and college roommates can attest to this fact. I never lost a Barbie shoe; I can’t stand to see hair around the drain (even if it’s my own) or dried dishes that stand at the edge of the sink for days. I practically came out of the womb cleaning myself off, as I cannot remember a time when I was not like this.
Anyway, back to cleaning.
Clients expect items to be dusted around, on, and under; spotless mirrors and counter-tops; and clean around the receptacles too.
They do not specify this, but if you want to impress a client you go above and beyond what they tell you to do. If this was not enough, we were expected to do the job quickly. As I am not a professional cleaner, I tend to clean much slower in order to be completely thorough.
In the middle of my cleaning, I realized I shouldn’t stop there—I need to be as thorough cleaning up my life as I am with a house— and, perhaps, more thorough with my life. I need to be thorough cleaning up my life both on the outside and inside, and not only when it’s easy or convenient.
What does spiritual cleanliness look like?
Daily spiritual cleanliness involves sincere self-examination, prayer and reading of God’s word. Make no mistake– half-hearted efforts will lead to overlooked blemishes.
For instance, a Christian may be careful not to miss a church service, but then spread gossip. Half-hearted attempts lead to pride, and we deceive ourselves into thinking “we’re good enough.”
Jesus told the Pharisees, a religious sect, in Matthew 23:25-27 that in order for the outside of the cup and plate to be clean, we must clean the inside as well.
In fact, those who are clean only on the outside Jesus called them “greedy, blind, hypocrites, lawless, and self-indulgent.” Jesus then goes on to compare the Pharisees to white washed tombs—outwardly they are beautiful, but inside they are full of dead people.
From my observations, the people who asked for a cleaning service usually have not cleaned in months. Because of the amount of negligence, poisons such as mold form in areas like bathtubs. Dirt, like sin, creeps in gradually. It is poison to us, and, yet, we don’t see it as a threat because it is such a gradual process. If mold suddenly popped up over night, we’d most likely act immediately.
Back to the white washed tomb scenario—when covered in the dirt and grime of the world, we’re repulsive to God. There is no hiding; God knows our hearts better than we do.
Jesus loved us by not only saving us by His death on the cross, but also by becoming and living among humans. He was IN the world but not OF the world. Those little prepositional words– in and of– hold tremendous significant meaning (I know, I’m an English nerd).
If that wasn’t hard enough to grasp, wrap your mind around the fact that Jesus hung around the wrong crowd. That’s right—tax collectors, prostitutes, unbelievers, and other sinners. The major difference between them and Jesus was that Jesus never once acted like one of them.
He was often ridiculed for eating with these people—the lowest of the low. However, Jesus showed us the truest form of love by meeting us at our level (Matt 9:10-12). The most important thing to remember is that, as humans, we’re all sinners and in desperate need of cleansing, which can only be done through Jesus’s blood. We can only conquer the world through humility.
Like most hard work, deep cleaning will be discouraging at times because the devil will plant excuses in your mind. Excuses such as “everyone else does it,” “it’s just this once,” “it’s too hard,” or “I’m not perfect” are all footholds for the devil.
Like the poisonous mold clinging to corners where moisture gathers and is left untouched—what we let slip by is where sin will gradually grow. The devil’s most useful tools are distraction and discouragement, but there are counterattacks. Find an accountability partner and ask God for forgiveness (1 John 1:9).
Don’t take God’s grace for granted by continuing in the sin knowing you can ask for forgiveness later. A deep cleansing of the soul is essential to keep a healthy heart and an open relationship with God. Seeking only an outward appearance of cleanliness is like becoming a whitewashed tomb —pretty on the outside, but rotten on the inside.
Water is the earth’s most precious resource. Without it, life on the blue planet would cease to exist. The “universal solvent” is used by every human being, every single day in a variety of contexts.
When you boil that egg, you’re using water. Flushing the toilet after each use–that’d be water. When you’re exercising the use of that green thumb that your mother passed down to you, you can’t do so without water. On that Saturday morning when you take that special fishing trip with your oldest son, it wouldn’t be much of a trip without the blessing of water!
That’s not to mention the enormous amount of industrial uses of water in our world today. Thousands of tons of water are used on a daily basis in cleaning, transportation, and cooling in the manufacturing sector. How could one overlook the importance of water to the steel, chemical, paper, and petroleum industries? These enterprises often reuse the same water multiple times for the same purpose.
Did you know that the US is leads the world in agricultural exports? Of course, there is no way this would be the case without the life-giving power of H2O.
Without a doubt, water is essential to life. Entire cities, countries and civilizations have been founded close to sources of water, and have ceased to flourish if such a source is taken away. When a drought hits, it can instantly paralyze an economy in every aspect.
Personally, how much water do you drink every day?
Are you walking around in a dehydrated state?
According to a study by the CDC, 43% of individuals drink less than four cups per day, so there is a good chance that if you’re reading this article then you are not drinking enough water!
The average recommended suggestion is eight 8 oz. glasses each day. Drinking a lot of water each day can help maximize your physical performance, increase your energy levels, improve brain function, prevent headaches and treat problems with kidney stones–wow! I should be drinking more of this stuff.
If you aren’t drinking enough water, are you taking for granted it’s life-giving properties? In the United States, having a fresh glass of water is as ordinary and mundane as a clock ticking ahead on the wall of your living room. Yet in other parts of the world, having access to clean drinking water is a precious commodity.
Every 21 seconds a child dies from a waterborne disease or illness, simply because clean water sources are not available where they happen to live. If you could do something to change that statistic, would you?
Fortunately, there is an organization that is doing something about this–Walk 4 Water is an event held in all corners of the country, started by Healing Hands International. Crieve Hall Church of Christ is hosting a walk in just a matter of days, and we’d love for you to be a part!
We will be walking four miles on Saturday, April 9, at 1 pm to show our support for those who live in areas without easy access to clean drinking water.
Four miles is the average amount people walk to obtain water that isn’t even safe for drinking. Join us as we walk these four miles and think about these individuals who deal with such a difficult challenge.
Through these efforts, we hope to provide funds for Healing Hands to build clean-water wells in developing nations like Haiti so that we can do our part in decreasing the number of people who die from waterborne diseases each year. If you’re interested in getting involved in this effort, click here!
There is definitely a spiritual undertone to all of the practical uses of water listed above. Why else would Jesus have used the illustration of water while speaking to a woman in the small region of Samaria as she was drawing water from a well almost 2,000 years ago. In the dry desert climate of Samaria, Jesus said to this woman,
“Everyone who drinks of this water (in the well) will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” (John 4:13-14)
Can you imagine drinking a special glass of water that contained such rejuvenating powers that you would never need to drink another drop? This woman must be elated! Her days of walking to the well are over! She responds by saying,
“Sir, give me this water, so that I will not be thirsty or have to come here to draw water.” (John 4:15)
But Jesus’ message here is not of a physical water that provides never ending hydration through the hot summer months. His message is a spiritual water that can eternally quench our thirst for a true purpose and true fulfillment in this life on earth. This living water is only found in Jesus, whose blood provided the way for us to be reconciled to Him and receive the blessing of living forever (2 Cor. 5:21).
So let me ask the question again…Are you dehydrated?
Providing clean drinking water through Walk 4 Water is a great effort and can bless the lives of many, but spiritual thirst is of much greater importance to Jesus. He wants to quench your thirst today.
Will you drink of the life giving stream, that will no longer leave you craving just one more gulp?