The Conclusion is only the Beginning
As I pondered how to conclude this message several concepts came to mind. What could I provide you as a tool to effectuate the victorious experience of Authentic Masculine Courage GOD ordained for you? I suddenly realized the answer was so old it was new.
The Epistle of James is the "Proverbs" of the New Testament. There is no better guide to facilitate that victory. James tells men how to "Step Across the Line" from a life led by our flesh to the one led by the HOLY SPIRIT. James tells you how to be at peace in this dark depraved world.
This Epistle is not doctrinal or apologetic, it is practical. It challenges us to examine the quality of our daily lives in terms of attitudes and actions of Authentic Masculine Courage. James says a genuine faith, resulting from true repentance, will produce changes in a person's conduct and character, and the absence of change is symptomatic of dead faith... true faith cannot exist when repentance consists only of ingenious lip service.
Knowing you should already have access to the Epistle of James in your own Bible, I have purposed to reduce to writing my own thoughts of how this Epistle opened my eyes to how to be victorious in the midst of the "Conflict" Paul writes about in Philippians 1:29.
Follow me for a moment as I sojourn down memory lane. In my youth I was considered a potentially gifted athlete. But being told you have potential simply means you aren't doing it yet. Had I ever grasped the concept of getting in shape, who knows what I may have achieved. My only claim to fame is that I played High School Basketball with a legend and my good friend... "Pistol Pete" Maravich... what an exciting experience that was.
Physical conditioning required running, I don't do running. Ironically, I greatly admired distance runners. Jim Thorpe was a boyhood hero of mine. But I was not willing to pay the price. Running was not for me. It took an auto accident when I was thirty-three to change my attitude.
Using your head as the implement of choice to remove the windshield of your car results in serious pain that does not go away overnight. Now, I have always thought of myself as that invincible, tree climbing kid. What a rude awakening, my Grandfather was right, "Growing old is not for sissies!" My body hurt in places I didn't know could hurt. I was not bouncing back as I expected. I was no longer the 170 lb athlete of the yesteryear... I was a sedentary 252 lb couch potato. ARGH! So I did what any self-respecting, health conscious, overweight, ex-athlete would do. I joined a "Trendy" health club... telling myself, "Self, we are going to work out and GET IN SHAPE!" Who was I kidding? The hot tub, sauna, steam room and "Fruit Smoothie" machine became my exercise routine, I gained 5 lbs my first week.
While on a business trip to Dallas, some friends and I took a tour of the Cooper Aerobic Center. My curiosity peeked; I agreed to subject myself to their computerized evaluation of sports application best suited to your body structure. Imagine my shock when the computer said, "Long Distance Runner..." Their consultant informed me that my body was exceptionally proportional designed for both efficiency and endurance. I said, "What about football, basketball, baseball, and golf... sports I like?" He politely said, "The computer doesn't make mistakes!" I thought to myself, "I have never seen a 6ft 5in. long distance runner... this guy is nuts!" My facial expression must have given me away... he repeated, "The computer doesn't make mistakes!"
Armed with this new information, my companions began to chide me to join them each morning as they went jogging. Point of clarification: You jog your memory... anything faster than a walk... is running! They persisted, undaunted by my refusals. Finally, I acquiesced and joined them. My friends lied, they did not jog! These people were certifiable, over the edge, out of control, marathon-running psychos! But to my amazement, I loved it... running was definitely my new thing. I trimmed down from 257 lbs to 190 lbs of lean running machine. I was hooked. I subsequently completed 5 marathons (@26.2 miles) and 3 full triathlons (@2.5 mile swim~112 mile bike~26.2 mile run). In 1982, at age thirty-eight, I qualified to run the "Boston Marathon" by finishing the Los Colonias Marathon in San Antonio in a time of 2 hours and 57 minutes.
I became an obnoxious advocate of running. One day as I was pontificating the joys of running, a lady challenged me saying, "If running is so much fun, why do runners have a look of left over death on their faces as they run?" GOOD QUESTION! I asked myself, "Self, shouldn't my countenance reflect my enthusiasm for the health benefits running provided?" My answer was a resounding, "YES!" From that day forward I purposed to smile from ear to ear every time I ran. To my surprise people noticed. Strangers would wave, blow their horns, give me the thumbs up and even yell encouragements to me! Some were so taken back by my smiling they nearly wrecked their cars! All that brings me to this point. If smiling as I ran could have such a radical impact on casual observers, how much more would an attitude of "considering it all joy", as I faced the various "speed bumps" in my life, have on those GOD has placed in my life to encourage and lead. If I profess to be a Christian aren't I supposed to trust GOD? Didn't JESUS say, "Why do you call ME LORD, LORD and not do what I say?" WOW! James was right, we should embrace every trial and tribulation we encounter as opportunities to grow and perfect our faith, allowing them to produce in us a character of Authentic Masculine Courage, GODly men of maturity.
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