Posts tagged Jesus Christ

Has the excitement worn off?

This post originally appeared on Swayze is kicker/punter for the Toronto Argonauts of the Canadian Football League (CFL), who start their regular season tonight.

not normalAbout a week after I reported for training camp in Toronto this past season, I got all dressed up and went downtown for a big ceremony to celebrate our previous season.

All of my teammates, coaches, front office staff and management were decked out in the finest of suites. The venue was elegant and decorated in double blue. A photographer was on hand to catch all of the action. This was the night we had all been waiting on. We had already won the 100th Grey Cup just six months previous but tonight was the night we got our rings.

We had a full course meal. Medium rare steaks. We were able to sit back and take a little break from the grueling hours of training camp that we were in the middle of that month. They brought the lights down and showed a video of one of our captains talking about the ring, how it was designed, what it symbolized, etc. Then they brought them out on trays. They set them on our tables in front of us with our names on the outside of the box.

I can still remember this perfectly. A room full of grown men looking around at each other with childlike grins wondering what would be in the box. What design did they go with? Yellow or white gold? No telling what all was running through the minds that were in that room. I was excited. Ecstatic. I was a champion and was about to have the ring to prove it.

They then counted down for us to see the rings… 3….2….1….. boxes sprung open all around the room and guys began laughing and talking. Everyone just sat there smiling and looking at the shiny gold and sparkling diamonds. All 139 of them … this was no ordinary ring. “This ring cost someone a lot of money,” I remember thinking to myself. I slipped the ring on my finger and began taking pictures of it … taking pictures with my teammates. I couldn’t wait to show everyone the pictures and tell them about it! As quick as I could I was posting, tweeting, emailing and texting. Even facetiming (I don’t think thats a word)! I was excited! This was no ordinary day … and this was certainly no ordinary ring. I had to tell people!

Fast forward to today … I brought this same ring with me to a school the other morning where I was speaking at an FCA (Fellowship of Christian Athletes) huddle. I have done this numerous times since the night I received it. I have brought it to signings, churches, school, etc. Hundreds of people, both young and old have posed for pictures with it and tried it on, most of whom don’t even know about the CFL or the Argonauts. But it’s BIG, its SHINY and it symbolizes victory. People love it!

Over the last year, the excitement has worn off for me. I’ve seen it so many times and taken so many pictures with it that it has become normal. When I take it out of its box to show others I don’t get as excited as I did that night in Toronto last year. This ring that I was so happy and eager to show the world just a year ago has become normal to me now. I’ve gotten used to it. (I’m ready to win another one!)

Has your excitement worn off ?

I told some kids about this the other morning … if we are not careful, this is exactly what we will do with the gospel. We will take the son of God, who is far more valuable and beautiful than any ring man could make, and somehow in our twisted way of thinking and being we will make him ‘normal.’ We will hear the gospel and not respond. We will feel called to action and reason why we shouldn’t follow through. We will hear the Easter story about Jesus Christ stepping in and giving his life for ours, covering our sins with his perfect blood — reconciling us with our Holy God — then rising from the dead and defeating sin and death. We will hear all of this and not get excited.

How is that possible?

How can we hear this story and not get excited? How can we see God’s perfect love for us on the cross and not tell people? This is not just a normal story. This is not just a normal man. Lets get excited (every day). Lets tell people (all people)!

This is way better than a ring!

SwyzeWatersSwayze Waters is a Christian, family man, and athlete, in that order. He and Kendal have been married since 2011, and he’s been playing pro football since 2009. Swayze is beginning his third year as a kicker/punter with the Toronto Argonauts of the Canadian Football League, the 2012 Grey Cup champions.

Making 2014 count

making 2014 countOn New Year’s morning I got up and sat by the fire, reflecting on the past year and the start of my 43rd year of ministry – looking back on what God has done and looking forward to the future.

“This new year, God, what do You expect of me?” I asked. I wasn’t talking about New Year’s resolutions. I wanted to pull back and see the big picture so I could discern God’s will for me in 2014.

My heart and my Bible were opened to Matthew 22. The narrative finds Jesus before the Pharisees – the religious leaders of His day – and he is asked to choose the most important commandment in all of the Law. Jesus answered clearly:

“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets” (Matthew 22:37-40).

There are 613 commands in the Law. Jesus didn’t just pick the most important commandment. He summed up the whole counsel of God in just two commands.

After reading those words, I assessed myself in three areas that New Year’s morning.

First, I ruthlessly analyzed the affections of my heart. At the top of the page in my Bible above Matthew 22 I have written, “The human heart is an idol factory.” We like to deceive ourselves that we have our priorities in order, but the prophet Jeremiah reminds us that “The heart is most deceitfully wicked, who can know it.” We choose to love other things more than God, and those things become idols.

As I looked back over the past year, I asked myself, “What did I love?” I thought of the ongoing battle to love myself more than God. I’m really good at that. We seem to do a good job about thinking about and meeting our own needs.

You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart … you shall love your neighbor as yourself.

Look through the factory of your heart to see what it had produced in the past year. What things did you love more than God? And how well are you loving your “neighbors” — especially your wife and children?

Second, I contemplated where God is working, and how I could join in what He’s doing. Dr. Henry Blackaby wrote in his classic book, Loving God, “watch to see where God is working and join Him in His work.”

One reason I don’t hesitate to challenge people to be involved in helping reach families is that this is an area where God is at work. It’s also an area where the devil of hell is attacking. One of the purposes of God since the beginning of time is for His image to be reflected in marriages and families for generations. Where is that learned? It’s learned by a little boy and a little girl looking at a mom and a dad, hopefully in a marriage and a family committed relationship, learning what it means to be a man, to be a woman, investing in your marriage and your children. God is at work in this issue today on many levels, and He’s at work generationally.

Finally, I took a hard look at the horizon. The conclusion of one year and the genesis of yet another should result in us sharpening our eyesight on where we’re headed. My personal mentor, Dr. Howard Hendricks, would often say, “Man is immortal until God’s work for him on earth is done.”

With each new year, the finish line for me is getting closer, and so I need to look more attentively at the horizon. I need to make sure I’m running in the right direction, and that I’m stretched out toward the finish line.

As I reflected on this for the coming year, one question I wrote is, “How do I get the gospel to more people?” The essence of who I am as a Christian is to proclaim Jesus Christ and the hope of eternal life. That’s also the goal of FamilyLife. As a ministry, we touched over 14 million people last year. This year, we want to touch more people, and do that more effectively.

I really like the urgent picture painted by 18th century preacher Charles Spurgeon, imploring us to implore others to consider who Jesus Christ is.

“If sinners will be damned, at least let them leap to hell over our bodies. And if they perish, let them perish with our arms around their knees, imploring them to stay. If hell must be filled, at least let it be filled in the teeth of our exertions, and let not one go there un-warned and un-prayed-for.”

I urge you to do the same self-evaluation I did on New Year’s morning. Ask God to reveal what and who you truly love and to help you make necessary corrections in the factory of your heart.

We have a heavenly Father, full of grace and mercy, who pursues us, even in the stubbornness of our idol factories as we continue to love the wrong things. Ask Him, as David did, to create in you a pure heart. And as Christ commanded those Pharisees as he summarized the Law, in 2014, pray that you may better love Him with all your heart, and to do a better job of loving your neighbor.

Ask Him to help you see where He is working and show you how to get involved. And ask Him to open your eyes to clearly see the horizons set before you, and to help you run the race with endurance that is set before you (Hebrews 12).

May God’s favor be upon you – in your marriage, in your family, in the work of your hands and our hands this year. Is there any better way of making 2014 count?


The lasting impact of a spiritual patriarch

How can I use my gifts to advance the Kingdom of God in my community and in my world?

One of the ways a man steps up to become a patriarch is by beginning to use his experience, and his influence to have an impact beyond his family. He wants to leave a mark on his world.

I want to tell you about a friend of mine: a man who became a mentor, a man who I think of as a spiritual patriarch.

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Have you had someone in your life who you consider a patriarch? Share your story.

Learn more about Dennis’ spiritual patriarch, Bill Bright, one of the world’s most influential Christian leaders.

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