Courage of Conviction

My wife and I visited the Kansas City Negro Baseball Museum recently.  As I looked at the artifacts and read the history it became evident to me there was a common theme—these men had the courage to make a change—they had courage of conviction!

I do not throw the word “courage” around loosely, but the prejudice, injustice, and the possible ramifications the men enshrined in this museum faced, took courage for them to say, “I’m pressing on because I am convicted to this cause”. It also took courage for the people who supported them in their step forward—especially those of a different color.

Their cause of conviction was not necessarily to play baseball as an equal, their cause of conviction was to live as an equal. One quote I read from Jackie Robinson that really had an impact on me was, “I had to fight hard against loneliness, abuse, and the knowledge that any mistakes I made would be magnified because I was the only black man out there… I never cared about acceptance as much as I cared about respect.”

As a people, there has never been a nation that has been more generous or compassionate to the world than has, and is, the United States. We sacrifice the lives of our citizenry, as well as our financial and material resources, to stand against tyranny and cruelty.

Do we, as a nation, have some scars we are not proud of? Yes, we do.

Do we, as individuals, have some scars we are not proud of? I will only account for myself by proclaiming yes, I do; your answer must come from you and your cause of conviction.

Acts 7:58 tells us that a young man named ‘Saul’ had some scars. He received the garments (a reward) of those who stoned Stephen, and he approved of the murder (Acts 8:1). But Saul had a change, a change that would alter his history and the world’s.

He was asked on the road to Damascus a curious question to him, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?” (Acts 9:4) It was curious because he did not know who was asking this question, this was not someone he had ever personally harmed or even seen. Yet, Saul left some scars.

After Saul learned who Jesus was, and understood what he had done, he repented and found conviction as we see in Acts 9:20 with him proclaiming with conviction “He is the Son of God!”, a proclamation for a man of his standing was a certain death sentence.

Paul’s newfound courage of conviction came from one source—his faith in God—his faith in the prophesies of the Messiah—his faith that Jesus Christ is the only savior of the world!

Baseball healed scars; the United States healed scars; each of us healed scars. Are we done? No.

Even after Paul found his courage of conviction he persisted through the worst circumstances never quitting.

Do we have to have courage of conviction to move on despite what is going on in our lives…or when we think of our scars? And more importantly—where do you get that courage of conviction from?

Running For H2O

Have you ever been to the point of thirst when your throat is dry, your lips are parched, your body no longer perspires?

This weekend I begin my “serious” training for the 2018 Kansas City Marathon. I look at the schedule I have laid out and am overwhelmed. How am I going to get from where I am now, both physically and mentally, to that desired finish line? It is apparent we are going to have a long hot and humid summer and I have several schedule changes to plan around— “it” is not an ideal training situation!

As always, God reminded me that “it” is not about “me”! “It” is about serving Him and His children…His people!

I have joined a team from our church for this race and I am confident that with the encouragement and support of these people we will join hands at the finish line! I am not only looking forward to training with them over the next 18 weeks, but also the relationships we develop.

But it is not about me…

Our team supports the organization World Vision. Their mission statement begins with, “World Vision is an international partnership of Christians whose mission is to follow our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ in working with the poor and oppressed to promote human transformation, seek justice and bear witness to the good news of the Kingdom of God.”

Specifically, for the KC Marathon, we are running to provide safe drinking water and more importantly safe drinking water systems that do not require a child to walk 10 miles to get a jug of water.

This cause touched my heart deeply when I remembered the words of Jesus, “For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in.” (Matthew 25:35) Jesus is telling us that the love and treatment we show others is a direct reflection of how we love and treat Him.

During a marathon, water is essential—I will not miss an aid station! In our daily lives, water is essential. Most of us are fortunate enough to take that for granted—get the chilled bottle out of the refrigerator or do it the old-fashioned way and turn on the faucet. But the reality is that there are many who do not have these options. They either go without or they drink water that we would not give to a farm animal. Or they trust in the generosity of others to help provide the life-sustaining fluid.

I have said “yes” to taking the over 30,000 steps to complete the marathon. Are you willing to say “yes” with a donation to provide a child a safe drink of water? Are you willing to say “yes” to showing love and humanitarian treatment to those in the worst of conditions?

$50 provides a lifetime of safe water for one person; I am dedicating each mile of the 26.2 mile race to doing that for a person. Thus, my goal is $1,310. Any amount you can give is greatly appreciated. If you are willing to join this team, please follow the below link.

Thank you for your consideration of providing a hand-up. We may never know the impact we have on a person’s life, but when we are faithful and obedient we are assured we have had an impact on a person’s life!

https://www.teamworldvision.org/index.cfm?fuseaction=donordrive.participant&participantID=126346

 

Blessing of Liberty

During my military career I was a participant in three wars. There were many other outbreaks, uprisings, revolutions, operations, etc. that I played a very small role in, but I was there in one way or another. I do not share this history in the hope of being considered a “great warrior”—I am not. I do not share this history in the hope of being considered a “hero”—I am not.

I do share that history in the hope of being known as one who said “yes” when it was time to go to war for something I believe. Yes, I served for my country, but more importantly I served the idea; the idea of America. Our Constitution begins with the words, “We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”

To me, these are not just words—they are indeed an idea. An idea that is unique to the history of this world…an idea worth defending. Our founders truly believed in the concept of a “Blessing of Liberty”, these were men grounded by their faith in God. Yes, they were with flaw; yes, they were sinners; and yes, some of them participated in acts that today (with the benefit of hindsight) we find reprehensible. But they were willing to sacrifice their money, possessions, reputations, freedoms, and lives for the Blessing of Liberty.

What does “Blessing of Liberty” mean? Webster defines “liberty” as “the quality or state of being free”. Okay, great concept! What does “blessing” mean? Well, the world would tell us it is something we say after someone sneezes, or it is a “hope” or “wish”.

God tells us in 2 Corinthians 9:8 that it something much more powerful and fulfilling, “And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.”

This Scripture made me think about what freedom I am blessed with. Recently, a dear friend asked me to think about who I was before I accepted Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior and if I had not made that decision where I would be today. The question brought tears to my eyes. I’m pretty sure I was a good person—I worked hard, I provided for my family, I showed love. But I was not “blessed” in every good work. No matter how hard I tried, I did not live up to God’s standard—none of us can. Jesus turned my life around—yes, I still sin and mess up (daily). But I am truly blessed.

Through God’s blessing I have LIBERTY! I am free from my sin and mess-ups! Our founding fathers built America on that concept—I trust my eternity to that truth. Where are you?