Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Man on a Mission

I had the privilege this morning to see and hear a man I truly admire: UGA Head Football Coach Mark Richt.

Coach took the stage and almost immediately, he dove into what he wanted to share.
Coach Richt said, "I am 50 years old now. And, one of the things I have learned to do as I have gotten older is to get right to the point."

From there, Coach Richt shared the passage out of Luke, where the resurrected Jesus is walking along the road to Emmaus with two of his disciples. Coach shared how these two men were dejected because their savior was "dead," and there were not sure what to do. But, Jesus walks a little longer with them, and ultimately reveals himself to the disciples, once again filling them with hope, and proving that he is who he said he was.
Coach shared why he has chosen to put his faith in Jesus Christ.

The first reason is because of the hundreds of prophesies we read about in the Old Testament that were all fulfilled when Jesus came into the world, and ultimately paid the price for our sin.

The second reason, Coach Richt shared, was because of the passion and conviction with which Jesus' disciples lived their lives after he ascended into heaven. Because they trusted God more than the religious authorities of the day, all but one of Jesus' disciples died horrific deaths - stoned, crucified, imprisoned, beaten. Coach said there's no way someone would choose the harsh life or death that these disciples endured unless he or she was absolutely certain that what they were saying was the truth.

Finally, Coach Richt said the primary reason that he put his faith in Christ is because he came the realization that he was (is) a sinner. He was confronted with the fact that without God in his life, there is no true peace. And, the only way to have that peace is to invite Jesus - God's one and only son - into his life to cover his sin, and allow him to have a relationship with his Heavenly Father.

It was a simple message, but was right on the money. And, with it being Passion Week, it came at the perfect time. On this same Tuesday nearly 2000 years ago, Jesus was only three days away from being humiliated, tortured, and crucified. All so you and I could be reunited with God in heaven when we die.

This gift, too, can be yours when you choose to invite Christ into your heart. If you've never done it before, just lift up this simple prayer to God right now:

God, I know that I am a sinner, and I have fallen short of your best for my life. But, today, I want to change that. I acknowledge that your son - Jesus - was brought to this earth so that he could die for my sins. I thank you so much for his sacrifice, and I invite him into my life today to be my Lord and Savior. I don't want to live for myself any longer. I want to live for you. Thank you for saving me.

May this Easter be the most meaningful and joy-filled Easter you have ever experienced!

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

The "S" Word

No, not that "S" word. Or, THAT "S" word. Not Spurrier either. I'm talking about an "S" word that I fear people do not truly comprehend: Sacrifice.

The American Heritage Dictionary defines the word sacrifice as follows: To forfeit (one thing) for another thing considered to be of greater value. And, as much as we like to toss around this word, the painful truth is this: we consider ourselves to be of greater value than others.

If we didn't, we would embrace sacrifice. We would look for opportunities to give up more for the benefit of others. We'd spend less, we'd serve more, we'd give more, we'd love more. We'd let Johnnie over in front of us in bumper to pumper traffic.

Some equate the word sacrifice with inconvenience. According to Dictionary.com, inconvenience is "something that causes discomfort, trouble, etc." And, while a sacrifice may result in our discomfort at times, it shouldn't be regarded as a negative term.

But, we make it seem negative, don't we? When we are faced with actually having to make sacrifices, we lament. We gripe. We mope. And, after lamenting, griping, and moping, we convince ourselves that sacrificing isn't worth all the self-imposed grief. So we take a step back up the ladder, often times stepping on others' fingers.

The adversary to sacrifice is entitlement. It’s on the other end of the spectrum. It’s when we believe we deserve the best, almost always at the expense of others. The Apostle Paul had something else – something far better - in mind. Check this out:

Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others. Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus. Philippians 2:3-5 (NIV)

I bolded two things there: (1) We are told to think of others as better than us. Say what? Somebody’s better than me? More important than me? You’re asking the wrong questions. Paul says to “consider.” So, instead of asking ourselves if we’re being overlooked, we should ask ourselves if we’re considering others.
(2) Consideration is an action that is dictated by our attitude. Jesus only considered one thing when He was on earth: his Father’s will, which meant loving and serving others to the extreme.

Jesus had something much better in mind when he came to earth. He viewed sacrifice as an opportunity to glorify His Father. He knew that by decreasing himself, others would increase - and ultimately God Himself would be reflected in his actions.

But, by sending His son to earth, God also knew there was a cost. He was giving up (forfeiting) His only son temporarily for "another thing considered to be of greater value" - you and me.

We don't have to die a physical, tormented death in order to sacrifice for others, but we do have "die to self" in many respects. You and I have opportunities each and every day to make choices that affect the lives of countless others - whether we realize it or not.

It's not easy, but it's rewarding. And sacrificing is a great way to remind ourselves that it's not about us. It's about God, and it's about others. Others who don't know Him, or may have walked away from Him. And, we have the ability to bridge that gap by putting ourselves aside and giving people a better view of the One who loves them most.