Givin’ Them a Show! Part 2

Back to Heb 12:1 “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.” Last time we talked about the “Great Cloud of Witnesses”. We discovered that it’s not a bunch a people sitting on cartoon clouds strumming harps but Saints like Moses, Abraham, & many more jam packed into the heavenly bleachers watching & cheering us on. That’s where the title “Givin’ Them a Show!” came in. But now comes the question “What is that show?” Did you watch the summer Olympics? Did you see Jamaica’s Usain Bolt? Many in the world tuned in to see him run. That dude is insane; he is crazy fast. He put on a show and the whole world was watching. I loved it. He was so far ahead of the others that he actually cruised into the finish line. I know everyone watched Michael Phelps, but if you didn’t see Usain run, then try to find it on YouTube. A dude that tall should not have been able to run that fast. The Olympics are long since done but our show continues. Here’s what the show is: Heb 12:1 says we’re in a race; that’s the race of life. Look at what Paul said in 2nd Tim 4:7, “I have finished the race”. What a show Paul put on for those in the nose bleed section. Paul wrote that @ the end of his life, his race was completed. The peeps who are watching in the stands, they finished their races. It’s crazy for me to think that Paul, PAUL, is now watching me run the race of life. Not only is he watching but he’s cheering me on. I’m not getting into Saint Worship here; I’m just saying there are some very powerful people in Heaven watching us do this Life Race.
Heb 12:1-2 gives us 3 keys to running/winning this Life Race properly. Yeah I know; I didn’t include verse 2 till now. Here they are together and I will underline the 3 keys. “Heb 3:1Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. 2Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”
The 1st key: “throw off”. This first part really has 2 elements, but we tend to focus in on just one of them. We always focus in on the “sin that so easily entangles” but that’s second to throwing off “everything that hinders us”. Some may argue that sin hinders us but look at the script again. “Let us throw off everything that hinders AND the sin that so easily entangles” [emphasis mine]. Looks to me like they are separated. It looks like sin is not the only thing that hinders us. Look at what Paul said in Philippians 3:13-14 (another sport/race reference) “Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, 14I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” I have heard more then a few pastors talk about this subject but it could always be restated. Your past church/life experiences (good or bad) are just that, in the past. Let them go, or like what Heb 12:1 says “throw off” those things. I had some great past church experiences, but they are in the past. I want to press forward toward the goal that God has set for me.

The 2nd key: “Run”, but that’s not alone. It’s really to “run with perseverance the race . . .” The word “perseverance” really caught my attention. Look at how the Amplified put this: “Let us run with patient endurance and steady and active persistence the appointed course of the race that is set before us.” Roller coasters are cool at amusement parks but a roller coaster Christian life style is not so amusing. Something else in the 2nd key caught my attention as well. It’s the fact that the race is marked out for us. We are not running aimlessly and we all have our own race. Usain didn’t win his gold medals on the marathon path or the bike course, but on the track made for the sprint races. Eph 2:10 tells us that God has prepared for us to do good works. In other words, he has prepared a race path marked out for us.

The 3rd key: “Fix” This is so key, no pun intended. While watching the track & field portion of the Olympics, I remember hearing the commentator state how important it was for the runner to keep looking forward. If they looked around then they would slow down. Theologians disagree on who wrote Hebrews. The popular choice is Paul, but I wonder if Peter had some input on verse 2. Remember Peter walked on water; he didn’t start to sink until he took his focus off of Jesus. Look @ Matt 14:29-30 “Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, "Lord, save me!" If you only read the NIV then you would wonder how Peter saw the wind. The Amplified translation states this better by saying “but when he perceived and felt the strong wind”. Now in the water walking story it never says that Peter had his physical eyes on or off of Jesus. Jesus just asked Peter why he doubted. Likewise in Heb 12:1& 2, you can’t really just fix your physical eyes on Jesus, but you can fix your faith on Him. One of my favorite phrases in the Bible is said here in Heb 12:2 “2Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfector of our faith”.
Throw, run, and fix. Sounds like an Olympic event. Sounds like an event I want to win the gold in.

Stay Blessed y’all, it’s your choice.

Givin’ them a Show!

I was recently pulling out some old cd’s. I came across one of my favorites. Passion Revolution, songs from ONEDAY 03. There are only 2 songs on there that I can do without. All the others are awesome. Chris Tomlin’s “Take My Life” brings me to tears and a deeper urgency of commitment.

Staying on that same vein, I just finished reading “John’s Story, The Last Eyewitness” by Tim LaHaye & Jerry B. Jenkins. Wow, wow, I just have to say. . . WOW! What a great book. I totally felt convicted while I was reading it. Nah, not convicted, maybe driven to a greater commitment . . . that’s not really capturing my thoughts either. I never really comprehended what it would have been like for John on the isle of Patmos till I read this book. When ever I think of islands I think of the Caribbean, maybe because I’ve been there a few times. I would like to suffer for God in the Caribbean. Patmos is in the Mediterranean. I hung out in the Med for a few years when I was stationed in Italy. I’ve been to the Isle of Capri but that’s really an unredeemed story from the past so I won’t finish telling it. Back in John’s day Patmos was not a vacation haven, he wasn’t sent there to relax. Being raised in the “Word of Faith” movement I am so use to talking about going from glory to glory. In that I lose touch of the suffering that took place just to get the gospel out, the persecution that was dealt to those who penned phrases like ‘We are more than conquerors” or “resist the devil and he will flee”. I’m not volunteering to suffer or be persecuted, but I’m not backing down either. Heb 12:1 talks about the Great Cloud of Witnesses. The 1st generation church is now in that cloud. Let’s look at that scripture. Hebrews 12:1. “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.” Whenever I read that I instantly think of Peter, Paul, John, & others sitting on big puffy marshmallow clouds playing harps and looking down every once in awhile. That’s not really what Heb 12:1 is talking about. The Greek word for cloud is nephos. It does carry the meaning of cloud but it also has another meaning. In ol’Greek times the word “cloud” was used to describe what we now call “the nose bleed” section of a stadium. Heb 12:1 says we’re surrounded all the way up in the “nose bleed section” by of those who went on before us. The word surrounded is taken from the Greek word “peikeimenai”. This word means something is piled high and on all sides of us. The best of what I can compare this to is the student section of Kinnick Stadium at the University o f Iowa. In ’02 my dad came up to Iowa to visit some family. Kesha and I took him to the Iowa/Michigan game. I waited too long to buy tickets and the only seats left were in the student section. The student section is crazy!! It is packed in there tighter than tight. Plus the only way to actually see the game is to stand on the bleachers because no one in that section sits, ever! I remember a fight broke out right behind us. I instantly jumped in the middle of these 2 knuckle heads to stop it because if they continued then the whole section would have fell. You would have heard about it on the news. That’s right, I stopped a potential tragedy; I’m something of a super hero! The next year when Mom & Dad came up they made sure that I bought tickets earlier and that it was as far a possible from the student section. Ever since then, when I read Heb 12:1 I think of the student section at Kinnick Stadium, heavenly saints stacked tighter than tight, standing on the bleacher s just to see me win. I’m gonna give them a show, not for the glory of me, but for the glory of God. This next statement might sound super prideful but really give it some thought. We are better equipped and better prepared than the saints before us. We have no reason to lose. We are better equipped because of their sacrifice to get the Gospel out. We are better prepared because of the life lessons that they taught both by word and action. We have no reason to lose. We have no reason to quit. Let’s give them a show, let’s give them something to cheer for. Let’s show them that the persecution they endured was not in vain. Most of all let’s do it for the same reason they did, all for the Glory of God.
Stay Blessed y’all, it’s your choice.