I just completed a whirl-wind weekend. We had our Iron Men-Mens Conference Friday evening and Saturday with the theme of “Finishing Strong.” It was a super time of refreshment from the Lord and a challenge to finish strong. I showed this video (click here) of Derrick Redmond…the great British track star that pulled his hamstring halfway through the 400 meter Olympic race in Barcelona in 1992. It’s one of the most touching things you’ll ever see.
The point of showing the video is simply that we sometimes fall and fail (according to the world), but we can still finish strong even if it means hobbling across the finish line.
Most of us have blown it at some point in our lives on possibly several fronts. That could be at home, with a spouse, with your children, or it could be a career, a relationship with a father or mother or something totally different. You know your situation. The key is to know what Paul told the Philippian church:
12Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. 13Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, 14I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. Philippians 3:12-14
We must press on looking to Christ. It’s how you and I finish that matters. Jesus said that he’d be able to tell who was really His by those that finished the race. We must endure to the end. Those that don’t endure to the end show they were never Christ’s to start with.
You see, I’m very concerned about this nation and its people. The question begs to be asked: What is happening in America? I’ll tell you. Disaster! Disaster is happening and coming upon us and we seem to be asleep at the wheel. You say, “What kind of disaster?” A “moral” disaster. We are in absolute moral decay in this nation and to most, we are blind to it…particularly the men. We are building our “imposing” temples to ourselves and our pleasures while we have little to no consideration for how we are training or not training our children. Why? Is it that we have no vision?
What do we have a vision for regarding our children? Sports, college, money, success comes to mind. But do we have a vision for ourselves and our families spiritually? Do we ever think about “outliving our own lives?” Do we have a vision that extends beyond our own life or possibly that of our children? What about 200 years from now? What will they say about you and I then?
You say…I just want to be a success. Ok…you just want to be a success. You want your kids to be a success right? So, what is success?
Tony Campolo’s definition of success is:
“Success is a shining city. A pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. We dream of it as children. We strive for it through our adult lives, and we suffer melancholy at old age if we have not reached it. For success is the place of happiness, and the anxieties we suffer at the thought of not arriving there gives us ulcers, heart attacks, and nervous disorders. If our reach exceeds our grasp and we fail to achieve what we want, life seems meaningless and we feel emotionally dead in our culture.”
John Johnson says success is “attaining cultural goals that are sure to elevate one’s perceived importance in that culture.” Did you notice the word, “perceived?” What the world and the Bible calls success are two totally different things!
8 Do not let this Book of the Law depart from your mouth; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful.
Success in the Scriptures is not measured by bank accounts and retirement savings… It’s measured by peace, joy and contentment. I’m very concerned that the reason we are not going to finish strong is that we’ve got our priorities mixed up. Consequently we’ve got children and young people that are mixed up too!
Many of our young people are in big-time trouble today. They are disenchanted with life, the church, and their family. They find satisfaction in material possessions, abstract relationships and in many cases, abhorrent and immoral behavior. They seek and find their identity through their friends, what they do (I’m a cheerleader or I’m a football player or I’m a redneck) and even in what they wear or kind of cell phone they carry. Many have little direction, motivation or initiative to work beyond what is considered average.
Now don’t get me wrong…this description does not describe every young person. But, shouldn’t we want more for our children than for them to just graduate from high school, go to college, get a good job, make a lot of money, get married, have kids, build a 401-k, retire, drive a motor coach out west for six months of the year and play golf?
Why are our young adults walking away from their faith at a 92% clip by their 20th birthday? Why do they seem so apathetic about the Lord? I guess the main question is: Are they saved?
Here is another thought-provoking question:
What if we’ve seen our best days as a nation? What will that mean for our children…your children? Do they have the capacity to live on less?
Are they spiritually grounded? Where are they reading in the Bible right now? Is it more important to you that they know the Bible or their Algebra or English? You may say…”Wait a minute…I’m not even reading in the Bible consistently…how can I expect them to?” Precisely! For them to succeed they need a relationship with you and ultimately they need to see that you know the Lord and are following the Lord. Are you a disciple? How are they going to grow if you don’t? How are they going to finish strong if you and I don’t?
My prayer is that I will put a premium and priority on teaching my children the ways of the Lord (after I’ve taught myself) and that they will grasp how deep, how, long and wide is the love of our Heavenly Father…then and only then, will we be able to Finish Strong!