Saturday, September 24, 2016

On Bended Knee

Bending the knee:  in supplication, when asking for special favors, in reverence, in submission, to honor, in protest.  In the past few weeks, there have been several examples of people on bended knee and responses to go along with the event.

Recently, three couples I know have become engaged.  There are photos of the special occasion with the soon to be groom on bended knee asking his intended for her hand in marriage.  That act of honoring his soon to be wife sets the stage for a lifetime of respect, honor, and love.

Athletes have been either honored or chastised for taking a knee, depending on the viewer’s stance.  Some have prayed on bended knee while others have used the gesture to state a position they believe in by protesting and kneeling during the National Anthem.   

Last Thursday, The Woodlands High School junior varsity football team played Katy Tompkins in The Woodlands.  With 57 seconds left in the game, Tompkins was ahead 29-28, with the Highlanders closing in on their goal.  With 12 seconds left, The Woodlands player completed a pass to a receiver.  As he was approaching the goal line he collided with a Tompkins player and the play ended.  The Tompkins player didn’t get up and eventually the Life Flight helicopter was called to transport him to the hospital.  While waiting, Coach David Colschen of The Woodlands looked across the field and noticed the Tompkins players praying and crying.  After a 40 minute delay it was time for the final play of the game.  Coach Colschen said, “If we would have lined up and punched it into end zone, do we celebrate?  And if they stop us, do they celebrate?  Their teammate is about to be Life Flighted.”  In response, the coach’s decision was for his player to take a knee on the play, giving the win to Topkins.  The Woodlands coach responded, “It was the right thing to do.”  Update:  The player has been released from the hospital and is doing much better.

Max Akin, the quarterback at Keller Fossil Ridge High School, had an amazing first half at their homecoming game.  He had 60 yards rushing, 200 yards passing and four touchdowns.  And what Max chose to do at halftime was just as impressive.  Max and his friend K.L. were both nominated for homecoming king.  At halftime, Max was announced as the winner.  He immediately looked for K.L., his friend with cerebral palsy, stepped in front of him, got down on one knee, and honored him by presenting him with the crown.  Max stated, “I think it should’ve gone to the person who positively uplifts the school and everybody around him, and that person is K.L. for sure.”  Max was a winner, no matter what the score was at the end of the game.

Lessons to ponder:
* Who you are willing to bend your knee to speaks volumes about your character.
* Bending the knee is a heart issue.
* There is more to life than winning or losing a game.
* There are times when life lessons are more important than the outcome of a game.
* Be sure to weigh your choices and their impact.
* Sometimes your actions speak louder than your words. 
* Making your opinion known comes with a price.
* Make sure your message is clear.  People are watching and some may be imitating you.
* Your motives and heart attitude speak volumes.
* You can bend the knee, but it’s what you stand for and do when you get up that makes a difference.

There will come a day when every knee will bow and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord.  And that will make a difference for eternity.

It is written: “‘As surely as I live,’ says the Lord, ‘every knee will bow before me; every tongue will acknowledge God.’”
Romans 14:11

Therefore God exalted him to the highest place
    and gave him the name that is above every name,
that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
    in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
 and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord,
    to the glory of God the Father.
Philippians 4:9-11

When Paul had finished speaking, he knelt down with all of them and prayed.
Acts 20:36

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Seeing Red

EnChroma, a company based in Berkeley, California, has created eye glasses that allow people with colorblindness to see hues that they do not usually experience.  Kimberly Yam, Associate Editor, Good News, The Huffington Report states that “An estimated 32 million Americans experience some degree of colorblindness, according to the Wall Street Journal.  The eyewear…which address red-green colorblindness – the most common form – have the potential to help four in five people with the condition by making everyday, outdoor tasks easier.”  It is amazing to watch videos of people wearing the glasses for the first time.  There is much joy and excitement as they see the world in a colorful new way.

A few weeks ago, I experienced the joy of seeing red in another way.  For the past year, I have been wrestling with whether to try a fairly new MS medication the doctor recommended.  Weighing the side effects against the possibility of helping with the maintenance of the disease has caused me to do some research as well as lots of praying.  After Vacation Bible School and vacation were over, I finally decided I would give it a try, even though I was still very hesitant about taking it.  I prayed and asked God to give me wisdom and to make it very clear whether this was the right treatment for me or not.   Within an hour of the first dose, I was covered in a red rash.  Larry wasn’t quite sure what to think about my joyful thrill in seeing the red rash.   A phone call to the doctor confirmed that I needed to discontinue the medicine.  I love that God made the answer obvious, even if it meant that there was a red rash in the process.

What a gift to be able to see the beautiful colors of God’s creation.  May my eyes and heart also be willing to see through God’s lenses to see what He sees and respond in obedience.

And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.
Philippians 4:19

Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.
I Peter 5:7

Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.
Ephesians 3:20-21

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Choosing to Honor

In the dictionary, the word honor can be depicted as a noun or a verb.  One of the many definitions of the word “Honor” is “To have or show great respect and admiration for somebody or something.”  Sometimes the honor is a planned celebration while other times it is a spontaneous response. 

In the 2016 Rio Olympics, Sam Kendricks, a U.S. Army Reserve second lieutenant from Mississippi, earned the bronze medal in the pole vault.  By clearing 19 feet, 2 ¼ inches, Kendricks was the first pole vaulter to medal for the United States since 2004.  He was honored for that feat, but it is what he chose to do before the medal ceremony that still stands out in my mind.  As Sam was running down the track, in anticipation of practicing his vault, he heard the United States National Anthem being played in the arena.  He stopped, let his pole drop to the ground, and stood at attention as he fixed his eyes on the flag.  He willingly gave up his practice time to honor his country.

Nebraska Huskers football punter, Sam Foltz, died in a car accident five weeks before their first game this season.  At the first game Virginia Kruta reported that “The stands were packed with Foltz jerseys, and banners in the stands were emblazoned with Foltz’s personal motto:  ‘Dream big, work hard, stay humble.’”  Before the start of the game, two of the kickers ran onto the field with Foltz’s jersey as their way of honoring him.  The game began and soon came the time when the Huskers were forced to punt for the first time.  Ten men took the field, but the punters position was left without a player as a tribute to Sam Foltz.  A delay of game penalty was given.  Even the players on the opposing team clapped for the display to honor Sam.  That’s when the head coach at Fresno State declined the penalty on the Foltz tribute.  Tim DeRuyter stated, “If we can’t teach our guys about (being) classy like that, what’s college for?”  No matter the score, both teams were winners this past week.

Royce Thompson, a kindergartener from Sante Fe, Texas, was late to school.  As he was about to reach the doors to the building, he heard the students in the school reciting the pledge.  Royce stopped, put his hand over his heart, said the pledge, bowed his head in prayer, and then entered the school. 

On August 23, 2016, 9-year-old Kaiden Wade and his dad went to visit his sick grandmother in Ocean Springs, Mississippi.  It was the same day as the funeral for Jeremiah Joseph “Jerry” O’Keefe III.  O’Keefe was a former member of the Mississippi House of Representatives and later the mayor of Biloxi, Mississippi.  During their conversation, Kaiden’s grandmother mentioned that the funeral procession for Jerry O’Keefe, a 93 year old World War II veteran and decorated fighter pilot, would be passing down their street on the way to the cemetery.  Even though Kaiden did not know O’Keefe, he went to the corner and stood in the pouring rain to watch for the processional.  As the horse-drawn hearse and cars approached, Kaiden placed his hand over his heart and stood at attention for 30 minutes until the last car passed by.  O’Keefe’s family was so touched by the gesture that they asked to meet Kaiden and share some of O’Keefe’s memorabilia with him.

Every day we have the opportunity to honor those around us.  Most importantly, we have the privilege of honoring God with our words, thoughts, actions, deeds, and attitude.  When we do that, others are blessed as well.
Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the Lord your God is giving you.
Exodus 20:12

Those who sacrifice thank offerings honor me, and to the blameless I will show my salvation.”
Psalm 50:23

Honor the Lord with your wealth, with the firstfruits of all your crops;
Proverbs 3:9

Whoever oppresses the poor shows contempt for their Maker, but whoever is kind to the needy honors God.
Proverbs 14:31

‘Honor your father and mother,’ and ‘love your neighbor as yourself.’”
Matthew 19:19

They honored us in many ways; and when we were ready to sail, they furnished us with the supplies we needed.
Acts 28:10

Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves.
Romans 12:10

Give to everyone what you owe them: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor.
Romans 13:7

You were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.
I Corinthians 6:20

If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.
I Corinthians 12:26

Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory for ever and ever. Amen.
I Timothy 1:17

These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.
I Peter 1:7

They have told the church about your love. Please send them on their way in a manner that honors God.
3 John 1:6

“You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they were created and have their being.”
Revelation 4:11

Saturday, September 3, 2016

Living up to the Name

These past few weeks, we have constantly heard and read the names of Olympians as well as professional sports figures.  There have been accomplishments to celebrate and failures to remind us that even the best can have a difficult day.  This year, I cannot tell you the name of every athlete or country that won gold, silver, or bronze medals, much less remember those achievements years from now.  Some names will continue to resurface because of the athlete’s continued success, especially if it is one you have had the privilege to meet, are related to, or represents a sport you are interested in.

Unfortunately, we have also seen the impact and consequences that not living up to your name can bring.  We all make mistakes, but it seems that athletes and professional sports figures carry the load and responsibility of being role models and thus the need to continually examine and think about their thoughts, actions, and deeds.  There may be times when choices they make cause their name to be tarnished, endorsements to be pulled, or careers to end.

But there is a name that has and will pass the test of time forever. Because of Jesus’ obedience to death on the cross, God exalted Him and gave Him a name that is above all names.  Jesus is the Way, Truth, and Life.  No one comes to God except through Him.  It is through Jesus that we have access to the Father.  Jesus is “God with us!”  And one day every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that Jesus is Lord.

In Philippians 5, Paul reminds us that those who bear the name Christian are to have the same mindset as Christ Jesus.  And because of Jesus we have a new name, “Children of God.”  That is a name that is worth living up to, taking to heart, protecting, and sharing for a lifetime.   

A good name is more desirable than great riches; to be esteemed is better than silver or gold.
Proverbs 22:1

In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:
 Who, being in very nature God,
    did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;
 rather, he made himself nothing
    by taking the very nature of a servant,
    being made in human likeness.
And being found in appearance as a man,
    he humbled himself
    by becoming obedient to death—
        even death on a cross!

Therefore God exalted him to the highest place
    and gave him the name that is above every name,
that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
    in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
 and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord,
    to the glory of God the Father.
Philippians 2:5-11

She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.”
Matthew 1:21

In his name the nations will put their hope.”
Matthew 12:21

But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.
John 20:31

And everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.’
Acts 2:21

Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.”
Acts 4:12

for, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”
Romans 10:13

See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him.
I John 3:1