Archive for the ‘Random Thoughts’ Category

bigstockphoto_kids_running_on_track_7819021

“THE RACE”

by Dr. D.H. “Dee” Groberg 

“Quit!” “Give up!”  “You’re beaten!” They sometimes shout and plead.

“There’s just too much against you now, this time you can’t succeed.

And as I start to hang my head in front of failure’s face,

My downward fall is broken by the memory of a race,

And hope refills my weakened will as I recall the scene,

For just the thought of that short race rejuvenates my being.

A children’s race – young boys, young men – how I remember well.

Excitement some, but also fear, it wasn’t heard to tell.

They all lined up, so full of hope, each thought to win the race,

Or tie for first, or if not that, at least get second place.

And fathers watch from all the sides, each cheering for his son.

And each boy hoped to show his dad that he would be the one.

The whistle blew and off they went, young hearts and hope afire.

To win, to be the hero that was each young boy’s desire.

And one boy in particular, his dad was in the crowd,

Was running near the lead and thought “my dad will be so proud!”

But as he speeded down the field across a shallow dip,

The little boy who thought to win, lost his step and slipped.

Trying hard to catch himself, his hands flew out to brace,

And mid the laughter of the crowd, he fell flat on his face.

So down he fell and with him hope, he couldn’t win it now;

Embarrassed, sad, he only wished to disappear somehow.

But as he fell, his dad stood up and showed his anxious face,

Which to his boy so clearly said, “Get up and win the race!”

He quickly rose, no damage done – behind a bit, that’s all,

And ran with all his might and sought to make up for his fall.

So anxious to restore himself, to catch up and to win,

His mind went faster than his legs, he slipped and fell again.

He wished that he had quit before with only one disgrace.

“I’m hopeless as a runner now, I shouldn’t try to race.”

But in the laughing crowd he searched and found his father’s face,

That steady look that said again, “Get up and win the race!”

So he jumped up to try again, ten yards behind the last.

“If I’m to gain these yards,” he thought, “I’ve got to run real fast.”

Exceeding everything he had, he regained eight or ten,

But tried so hard to reach the lead, he slipped and fell again.

Defeat! He lay there silently, a tear dropped from his eye,

“There’s no sense running any more, three strikes I’m out…why try?”

The will to rise has disappeared, all hope has fled away.

So far behind, so error prone, loser all the way.

“So what’s the use,” he thought, “I’ll live with the disgrace.”

But when he thought about his dad who soon he’d have to face,

“Get up” an echo sounded low. “Get up and take your place.

You were not meant for failure here, get up and win the race.”

“Get up!” he said, “You haven’t lost at all.

For winning is no more than this – to rise each time you fall.”

So up he rose to win once more and with a new commit,

He resolved that win or lose, he would not ever quit.

So far behind the others now, the most he’d ever been,

Three times he’d fallen stumbling, three times he rose again.

Too far behind to win, he still ran to the end.

They cheered the winning runner as he crossed the line first place.

Head high and proud and happy – no failing, no disgrace.

But when the fallen youngster crossed the line – last place,

The crowd gave him a great cheer for finishing the race.

And even though he came in last, with head bowed low, unproud,

You would have thought he’d won the race to listen to the crowd.

And to his dad he sadly said, “I didn’t do so well.”

“To me you won” his father said, “You rose each time you fell.”

And now when things seem dark and hard and difficult to face,

The memory of the little boy helps me in my own race.

For all of life is like a race with ups and downs and all.

And all you have to do to win is rise each time you fall!

“QUIT!” Give up!”  “You’re beaten!”  They’re shouting in my face.

But yet another voice within me says – “Get up and win the race!”

football mud

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.” –Teddy Roosevelt;  April 23, 1910.

This is my favorite quote and has unlimited applications.

Interestingly, I found out that in 1995, Nelson Mandela gave a copy of this speech to Francois Peinaar, captain of the South African Rugby team, prior to defeating the heavily favored New Zealand team at the World Rugby Championship. The film, “Invictus” used that poem instead.  This speech has been used to inspire thousands, perhaps millions over the years.

How does it inspire you?

It is so true of most critics: most of them have never “stepped in the arena”.

But I respect those who are in the game. Those who are willing to roll up their sleeves and get dirty.  I admire those who devote themselves to a worthy cause and those who succeed and fail while striving valiantly.

May we never be cold and timid.

May we always “dare greatly”.

The King Has One More Move!

Two men stand staring in front of a painting in an art gallery.  In the painting, a man is playing chess with the devil. The devil is grinning ear-to-ear because he has the man cornered. The title of the painting, “Checkmate,” indicates that the game is over. The devil has won. His opponent has failed. He has no more moves.

The first man looking at the painting wants to move on to view other paintings in the gallery. But the second man, an international chess champion, wants to look at the painting longer, so he waves his friend on and tells him he will catch up later. The chess champion stares and stares at the chess board, then suddenly he steps back, flabbergasted. “It’s wrong!” he exclaims. “There’s one more move.” He runs to his friend and together they look at the painting. “We have to contact the painter,” the chess champion says. “It’s not checkmate. The King has one more move!”

Throughout the Bible, this game has been played:  The Israelites found momentary freedom only to face the formidable Red Sea with Pharoah and his armies in hot pursuit.  The King had one more move!  Daniel was lowered into den full of hungry lions for defying a tyrant and standing up for his faith.  The King had one more move!  A 9 ft. tall fighting champion named Goliath called for a winner-take-all, one-on-one fight to settle the war. A little shepherd boy took him on. The King had one more move!  Jesus was tortured, crucified, and buried for 3 days. But the King had one more move!

Ever feel like life has you beat?

The King has One more Move!

Ever feel like Satan has you trapped?

The King has One more Move!

Ever feel like a failure? Like you’re out of options? Like you’ve lost hope?

Jesus, the King has One more Move!

Tell me your story!  How has the King moved in your life?

 

[picture is probably that of Friedrich Moritz August  Retzsch on Goethe’s Faust (above); Louvre Museum in Paris, France;  story has been told by numerous speakers, the oldest reference I could find is from Billy Graham in 1955. More recently, Bishop Ken Ulmer]

My family has a long history of adoption. I was adopted when I was 3 months old. My brother and sister were adopted when they were 2 & 5 years old. (I was 6 at the time). I was fortunate to be raised in a loving, Christian family.  Looking back, I realize just how lucky I was to be a part of something so special.  My brother and sister were, too.  In fact, they had come out of a rough situation.  I believe adoption literally saved their life! [pictured: me; my brother, Ted; sister, Samantha; dad, Richard; mom, Leslie]

Naturally, after starting a family of my own it was our dream from day 1 of our marriage to adopt a child.  After having 3 beautiful daughters, it was a tremendous blessing and answer to prayer that we were able to finally adopt our son, Zeke.  [above picture was taken at Zeke’s adoption with our family and his birth mom Nov. 18, 2006]

Why did we want to adopt?

  • Because the need is so great. There are thousands of kids “in the system.”  Many of them are victims.  Some have suffered abuse (emotional, verbal, physical, etc.) Many of them have suffered from abandonment or neglect.  Some are just victims of circumstance.  (parents have been imprisoned or are unable to care for them financially).  Our thinking is: “They have to go somewhere, why not go to a loving family?”
  • Because our responsibility is high.  We see adoption or foster care as our way of “paying it forward”.  Some people are natural “parents”.  We feel God has gifted us in this capacity. Therefore, like any other God-given gift it’s our responsibility to use this to raise up each child as we’re able.  We want to give them the chance to grow up into the man or woman God destined them to be.
  • Because the impact lasts a lifetime.  It’s a chance for us to really make a difference in the world.  We love to coach.  We love to teach. We love to parent.  When you invest in the younger generation, you invest in the future.  You affect future families.  Future businesses. Future ideals. Who knows what invention this child will create.  What book will they write?  What generosity will they spread?  What idea will they produce? Who’s life will they influence?  What legacy will they leave?  What cure will they discover? What mystery will they solve?
We’re excited to be a part of a great adoption story! It’s cool to know that “adoption” is the word the Bible uses to describe what God has done for us:
Ephesians 1:4-7 (NIV)
4 For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love
5 he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will–
6 to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves.
7 In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace
“Adoption” in this text means to “receive an inheritance that wasn’t previously ours.”  God’s adoption liberated us from sin, pain, death and eternal separation.  I promised not to get “preachy” in this post, but that’s pretty awesome.    Adoption frees, liberates, rescues.
We invite you to join us in adoption or foster care.  Will you open your home and your heart?

Will you consider adoption or foster care as a result of this blog?

If you have an adoption story, we’d love to hear it.  If you are thinking about adopting, we’d love to hear from you!

In my line of work as a pastor, I’m often asked to do funerals.  One of the most inspirational thoughts I’ve shared over the years is a poem called “Living the Dash”.  I hope it encourages you to live life to the fullest.  You see, the question is NOT “How many years did you have in your life?”, but “How much life did you have in your years?”

James S. Stewart said, “Let us live as people prepared to die and die as people prepared to live.”

“Living the Dash” (anonymous)

I read of a man who stood to speak

at the funeral of a friend.

He referred to the dates on his tombstone

from the beginning … to the end.

He noted that first came his date of birth

and spoke the following date with tears,

But he said what mattered most of all

was the dash between the years.

For that dash represents all the time

that he spent alive on earth …

and now only those who knew and loved him

know what that little line is worth.

For it matters not, how much we own;

the cars … the house … the cash.

What matters is how we live and love

and how we spend our dash.

So think about this long and hard …

are there things you’d like to change?

For you never know how much time is left,

that can still be rearranged.

If we could just slow down enough

to consider what’s true and real,

and always try to understand

the way other people feel.

And be less quick to anger,

and show appreciation more,

and love the people in our lives

like we’ve never loved before.

If we treat each other with respect,

and more often wear a smile …

remembering that this little dash

might only last a little while.

So, when your eulogy’s being read

with your life’s actions to rehash,

would you be proud of the things they say

about how you spent your dash?

My favorite quote reads:

“The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena; whose face is marred by sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs and comes short again and again–because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotion, spends himself in a worthy cause; who at best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement; and who at worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who have never tasted victory or defeat.”  —Teddy Roosevelt

I have respect:  For those in the game.  Those who give it all. Those who risk everything. Those who leave it all on the field. Those who push their chips “all in”.

I do not respect:  Those who criticize from the climate-controlled booth.  The ones who chuck popcorn from the cheap seats. The armchair quarterbacks. The backseat drivers.

I used to be one of those people. I used to criticize other church leaders. I used to cast doubt. I used to think I could do it better. I used to think I knew better. Arrogant thinking.

Now I’m the Lead Pastor of a church. As one who is “in the arena”, I have a greater appreciation for the price of leadership.  I can talk about risk when it comes to inheriting a church whose Sr. Pastor was removed for an affair.  I can talk about sacrifice when I moved my family across town, taking a huge monthly financial loss.  I can talk about perseverance, uprooting from a home we’d known for almost 9 years. I can talk about teamwork, watching three teenage daughters transplant to a new culture in a crucial stage of their social development.  I can talk about fortitude, dealing with tenants, taking a huge paycut, and watching our savings dwindle to nothing.  I can talk about resolve, when the very people we serve criticize the WAY we do it.  I can talk about loss when our style of ministry costs us friends.  I can talk about victory, seeing Jesus break addictions and restore relationships. I can talk about joy seeing one person come to faith in Christ.

Some may criticize.  Some may condemn.  Some may question.  Most can’t relate.  See the sweat and blood on my face. Walk in my shoes.  Travel this road.

In the New Testament, an ex-murderer-turned Jesus Freak wrote to his buddy Timothy at the end of his life and ministry:

2 Timothy 4:5-8 (NIV) 5 But you, keep your head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry. 6 For I am already being poured out like a drink offering, and the time has come for my departure. 7 I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. 8 Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day–and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.

This is what drives me.  This is why I left the comfort of a deskjob and stepped into church leadership. Honestly, I’d rather fail at doing this than succeed doing anything else.  May God use me and my gifts somehow through this.  I want to be known as this type of leader; this type of man.  A man who strives valiantly. A man who risks greatly. A man who lives daringly. A man who cares deeply. A man who serves boldly.

I want to be known as a man who is more consumed for heaven than concerned about earth. A man on a mission. May my place never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat.

2 Timothy 1:7 (NIV) 7 For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline.