Tag: Jesus Christ

celebrate

Tomorrow evening, Falcon and Patriots fans will celebrate their team’s accomplishment as they face off in the Super Bowl. The rest of us, the non-Falcon and non-Patriot fans, can choose to cheer for one of them (please not the Patriots) or just show up for the commercials. I view the time as four hours to chill out and eat my weight in junk food.

There will be celebrations over sacks, hard-hitting tackles, field goals, and touchdowns. I hope to celebrate the evening with some belly laughs! With a 5 million dollar price tag for commercial spots,  there better be off-the-chart entertaining  commercials!

As the final seconds ticks away, confetti will reign down and the Lombardi trophy will be kissed and passed around. For the victors, there will be much to celebrate.

On Friday evenings, I sit in a circle of women and we celebrate victories, some big, some small. There are no touchdown dances, mostly tears, hugs, and knowing smiles. We gather for Celebrate Recovery; a safe place to admit our habits, hang ups, and hurts.

Celebrate Recovery is the creation of Pastors John Baker and Rick Warren at Saddleback Church in southern California. Warren shares, “The Bible clearly states “all have sinned.” It is my nature to sin, and it is yours too.  Because of sin, we’ve all hurt ourselves, we’ve all hurt other people, and others have hurt us. This means each of us need repentance and recovery in order to live our lives the way God intended.”

About 30 men and women come seeking recovery, a reason to celebrate. We want to live our lives the way God intended: whole and free. All of us desire to be free of whatever entangles our minds and bodies. To show up on Friday night, feels like reason in itself to celebrate. Some share reports of a good week, some tear up over their hard week.

We come to the local church as believers in Jesus Christ, that is who we are. Our identity, the very core of who we are, is in Him. Our habits, hang ups, and hurts do not define us. They are not who we are. They are our struggles but we do not struggle alone. That realization is another reason to celebrate.

The Super Bowl offers hype and hoopla. Celebrate Recovery offers hope. Tomorrow night, many will celebrate. But on Friday evenings in a small classroom tucked inside a local church, the purest, truest, and deepest of celebrations are occurring. To God be all the Glory!

Celebrate God all day, every day. I mean, revel in him! Make it as clear as you can to all you meet that you’re on their side, working with them and not against them.Help them see that the Master is about to arrive. He could show up any minute! Philippians 4:4,5 (MSG)

back stories

For the remaining 14 nights, you will find me in front of a TV.  Drawn by the lure of  Olympic-size competition, I will arrive with  snacks to watch toned and muscular bodies in action. With regular season football still weeks away, I will receive my sports fix via the race for medals. I will be mesmerized by superhuman feats of athleticism on display. Why does anyone even attempt to do back flips on a 4-inch wide beam? 

Focus. Toughness. Strength. Perseverance, Determination. Endurance. Resilience.

All show up every night; all exhibited in a wide array of colorful uniforms.

What makes a  person work so hard and practice so long while striving for perfection? Each athlete has an overachieving, internal drive force that keeps me tuning in for more.

During the opening ceremony, one commentator made an insightful comment. He said that for many of the athletes this single event of entering the arena to thundering applause and celebration was their Olympics. Most would not make it through preliminaries, most would not achieve a personal record, and most would certainly return home empty-handed. So before the cauldron was lit, most had achieved all they possibly would in the Olympics.

In addition to the drama and cheers,  I enjoy learning about the individual. Tell me about the person. I am curious about their journey. Their back story doesn’t need to focus on whether they set a personal record  or awarded a medal. Yes, I will see what they are capable of but who are they and what is their back story?   What did they and their family endure to arrive on this world stage? What did they sacrifice and was it worth it?

Terrorism, in its ugly form, has touched many people and nations. Freedom to live, work, practice, and train have been infringed upon. Yes, each athlete has a back story; we just aren’t privy to all of them. Occasionally, Bob Costas may enlighten us with a human interest story but with 11,000 + athletes competing in these  Olympics, there are  11,000 + back stories.

Tell me more about Laura Graves, the hairdresser from Boston. What motivates a hairdresser to purchase a horse that she saw on a sales video?  Why did she nickname him Diddy?  How did their journey unfold in Florida where they train in hopes of an equestrian medal? Curious stuff.

By telling me their back stories, these media-inflated gods and goddesses become more real and human. They are not to be worshipped, but they can be admired.  By telling me their back stories,  I hear their struggles and I don’t feel so alone in mine.

I was dialed in on night 3, when David Boudia and partner, Steele Johnson,  were competing in the 10-meter platform synchronized diving competition. One could say that Boudin’s back story is one of drugs, alcohol, and the contemplation of suicide. That is all true. But the climax to any good story is the most exciting part. It is when the conflict of the plot is resolved. That occurred when David accepted Jesus Christ as his Savior.  The red  blood flowed from the cross and covered all of David’s back story. His life was never the same.

At the end of the night, David and Steele  celebrated their silver medal performance. With a microphone in front of them and the world listening, David put his back story front and center. On national TV, he told the world his identity is in Christ alone. He is more than a medal. David and Steele both openly shared  whose they are.

It’s totally freeing when I stay in tune with scripture. I don’t have to worry if I miss a dive. I go into competition and it’s like, ‘Praise God no matter what.’ If I do well, that’s awesome. I praise Him. If I don’t do well, praise Him even more. Competition looks way different now.           ~ David Boudia

When the cauldron is snuffed out and the Olympics rings go dark, the athletes will travel home.  Hopefully, they will carry David’s back story with them. Perhaps they will pause to consider their own identity, whether they have a medal around their neck or not.

Now when David stares down a dive from 10 meters high, he knows the climax to his back story carried him there.

That is all he needs to know.

Don’t store up treasures here on earth where they can erode away or may be stolen. Store them in heaven where they will never lose their value and are safe from thieves. If your profits are in Heaven, your heart will be there too. Matthew 6:19-21

Let’s Walk Worthy!