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Thursday, June 26, 2014

Old car in Springfield, MO 6/25/14
Old car in Springfield, MO

"A Lesson From An Apostolic Coach"

Due to travel a podcast is not available today.

"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.  Let 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" (Hebrews 12:1,2).

Something newer to me (I first heard of it in the last 10 or 15 years) is "life coaching". I visited with a younger lady at the conference I've been attending who is a coach seeking out chaplains who desire her coaching services. I am not sure how I feel about the concept and at my age prefer the word "mentoring" that should come out of a long-term relationship usually from the older or at least experienced to the younger and those growing in experience. However I realize there are many who would testify to the value of modern "life coaching".

Stephen running track relay in high school
I normally associate coaching with sports and athletics. In my younger years I ran in both cross country and track (long distance). The photo to the left shows me over 40 years ago when I was a just a bit trimmer and better fit. Being a member of the 2 mile relay team I am ready to receive the baton. To this day I recall how I esteemed my coaches.

For a number of years I was a high school tennis coach at Saint Marys Area High School when I lived in northern Pennsylvania. I hope some of those players still remember me!

There are all kinds of coaches, but today let us consider a lesson from an apostolic coach. Based on the illustrations the Apostle Paul uses, I believe he enjoyed sports or at least recognized their value in "connecting" with his readers.

All of us who follow Jesus Christ are participating in a great contest. The writer of Hebrews alludes to this in our daily Scripture portion (many believe the writer of Hebrews is Paul but this is not specified). He certainly is an apostle and speaks to us like a coach so let's examine some lessons from this apostolic coach:

Great cloud of witnesses1) Our apostolic coach informs us that "We are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses." These witnesses are the men and women of faith chronicled in Hebrews 11 and those all throughout the church age who have gone on before us after a life of faithful service to Christ. They include Biblical people of faith and well-known heroes in the church with names many of us recognize such as D.L. Moody, A.W. Tozer, Billy Sunday, and other great gospel preachers and hymn writers such as Fanny Crosby.

But I also receive spiritual encouragement as I consider among the witnesses those who personally ministered to me such as my mom and dad, along with many dedicated people that most of you have never heard of like Pastor John Howard, Elbert Sherrell, Tracy Sutherland, Bill Shibilo, Earl Martin and many, many others. (It might be well for you to develop a similar list of those who influenced you in your spiritual walk.)

Our apostolic coach calls us to "Throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles." This speaks of singe-minded dedication, surrendering all to the Great Cause. Sin still entangles! Is there any question about that? In our conference we sang a hymn that calls us to this consecration with the line "just from sin and self to cease." * Bluntly it seems with such an emphasis in our age on praise and worship, which is good, we fall short on songs that specifically call us to a consecrated life. We also need balanced music and sermons that preach of God's holiness and call us to live holy lives as well.

3) Our apostolic coach specifically calls us to join him in a race, "Let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us." This race is most analogous to a marathon, which begins the moment we accept Christ and continues throughout the remainder of our lives until we either meet the Lord in death or in the rapture. It certainly requires perseverance since it's a lifelong race. All great runners are characterized by perseverance. They overcome pain, rejection, adverse weather, injuries, and all kinds of setbacks to achieve their goal. This race is marked out with the Scriptures as our guide. Good coaches (pastors and teachers) help us understand this marked out guide. Strong, persevering followers of Christ just keep pressing on in spite of the hardship. 

Our apostolic coach calls us to keep looking unto Jesus as our greatest example, "Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the Author and Perfecter of our faith." In athletics it's important to keep a focus on the goal. As followers of Christ our goal is finishing well and seeing our Lord. Throughout the race we need to "fix our eyes on Jesus".

Today let us stay faithful and keep running this great race with perseverance!

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Thankful manDaily prayer: Jesus, the race You've marked out for us doesn't require nearly as much physical stamina as it does spiritual endurance. Those who are physically weak due to disease, illness, and aging are just as qualified to run as those who have young athletic bodies. It's a spiritual race where You call us to perseverance as we discard those things that would trip us up, lead us on a disastrous detour or a total defeat. The great cloud of witnesses spur us on; those from the Biblical period, throughout history, and from our own generation. But above all we thank You, Jesus, that You endured the cross and all the suffering that accompanied it, being spurred on by the joy You knew that would be Yours afterward. You cheer us on by Your own example and by the power of the indwelling Holy Spirit that sustains us in our struggle against sin. Keep us faithful to the finish line as it is an entry way into a life unentangled by any form of sin in the perfect world God created for us. Amen.

* "Tis So Sweet To Trust In Jesus"

The chaplain training conference has concluded and late this afternoon I will head back to Pennsylvania arriving home around midnight.

More photos from the Chaplaincy training conference and sights around Springfield:

(Note: Some of the photos are not orienting properly on some devices and due to working from an old laptop while on the trip I am unable to pinpoint why.)

Chaplain Jim and Ann Whisnant 6/24/14
Jim and Ann Whisnant
I met Jim when I registered Sunday afternoon and he commented on my "Lord's Prayer" tie inquiring where he could get one. I felt led to give him mine. Turns out it was his birthday! He was severely injured in an accident several years ago, losing a leg and almost his life. He is a prison ministry chaplain.

Honoring World War 2 veteran 6/25/14
We honored Chaplain Simmons, who is a World War 2 veteran and a participant in D-Day. At 92 he continues to serve the Lord as a chaplain.

Church sign 6/25/14
Passed this church sign north of Springfield. They had a big tent selling fireworks in the parking lot. That's something you just don't see where we live!

MFA farmer 6/25/14
Brooksyne and I lived in the small town of Fair Grove, Missouri the first year of our marriage. I stopped by the MFA farm store where we shopped nearly 40 years ago and they gave me a couple of MFA caps, rather pleased that I would be interested in visiting their store. They snapped the above photo of me and a local farmer who is dressed in denim overalls just like I remember as a child.

Springfield Cardinals baseball game 6/25/14
Last night my friend Dave Simpson and I went to watch the Springfield Cardinals at Hammons Field, a beautiful minor league ball park built in the last ten years. Springfield has grown a lot since we lived here in the mid-seventies, probably doubling in population.

Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

"Running The Race"  Video  Lighthouse Evangelism

"Press On"  Video  Selah

"Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus"  Video  Michael W. Smith

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Scripture references are from The Holy Bible: New International Version. © 1984 by International Bible Society; NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1995 by The Lockman Foundation, New King James Version (NKJV) Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. and the King James Version.

Personal Mission Statement: "I am created by God to bring Him glory. Through God's Son Jesus Christ I have been redeemed and I make it my life's goal to please the Lord. My mission in life is to honor God through my faith and obedience and to prepare myself and all whom I may influence for eternity."

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