Maximised Moments 

Blessings Men.

Please find a post below from the President of Christian Men's Network (Paul Cole) - it is entitled "How to Finish Strong". This is an excellent read !

God Bless

Your brother in Christ

Hannes Van Zyl

Hannes.vanzyl@cmn.org.nz

 

How To Finish Strong!

Morgan Uceny, the world’s leading runner, fell during the 2011 world championships, only to get back up and make it to the 2012 Olympics. Tenacity. Then, as the world watched her run the 1500-meter race in the Olympics, she fell again. Morgan will be remembered not as an Olympic gold medallist, fastest woman in the world, but as the runner who fell. The focus of her entire life… the preparation, the dreaming, the practice, the coaching, the sacrificial effort when no one was watching. Gone.

“You were running so very well, who bumped into you and caused you to lose stride?” the Apostle Paul asked the Galatians about their Christian faith. Another translation reads, “You were running the race nobly. Who has interfered in (hindered and stopped you from) your heeding and following the Truth?” (Galatians 5:6).

Paul called life a race. If life is a race, it is a marathon not a sprint. That means, we can get up and get back in the race when we fall. In Psalm 37 verses 23 and 24 we read that when we fall—not if—God will lift us back up. To finish strong, to finish life well, when we get knocked down, we must get back up.

Victory is always on the other side of a fight. Perhaps the largest obstacle to finishing life well is… ourselves. Though in Christ we are already champions, we each have to run our own race and win the battle in our own minds. It takes tenacious faith to keep racing. Jesus finished strong. He invested his entire life in a small team of disciples, then was crucified. Yet, in His death, we gained eternal life. He defeated the enemy.

What you do in life becomes history. What you put into motion becomes legacy.

David Wilkerson is a man who finished well. As a young preacher in 1958, he went from the country roads of Pennsylvania to the murderous dens of inner Harlem to reach young men for Christ. Though risking death on every hand, the power of God used David to reach thousands of young people. So amazing was the transformation, The Cross and the Switchblade chronicling the story became a bestselling book, a movie, and “Teen Challenge” centers sprang up nationwide, which are still thriving today. In 2011 at his death, at 80 years of age, David was still writing books, preaching, helping start churches and active.

Observe the contrast between David Wilkerson and the life of another unlikely champion of humble beginnings who led a nation. In Judges 6 through 8, we read how Gideon hears the voice of God and acts on it. This unlikeliest of all young men becomes a champion. Gideon tore down the altars of Baal. He started a revolution in the nation of Israel, which had succumbed to the satanic rituals of its neighbours. He formed an army and won great battles to set his nation free, give them prosperity and turn the nation back to God.

We still celebrate Gideon as an example to our young men and women. A young man who changed his nation for God! Yet, this great man did not finish well. The last we read of Gideon is, “After Gideon died, the people of Israel turned immediately to worshipping Baal.” What a tragedy...what a bankrupt legacy.

Gideon had 70 sons, and thousands of strong, trained warriors. But, NOT ONE OF HIS MEN STOOD UP AND SAID, “This is wrong, we will not go back to Baal, we will follow the God of Gideon and of Israel.” Not one stood. His son Jotham later stood up to those who murdered his 70 brothers. Yet while defending his family, Jotham still did not lead his family or nation back to God.

Strong passion at the start is no indicator of strong purpose at the finish. Gideon started well, but finished weak. Just because you start well, does not mean you will finish well. Just because you have passion doesn’t mean you have the strength to finish it. A strong start can still produce a weak finish.

Dr. J. Robert Clinton, in his seminal study of 1500 major leaders in the Bible and in the modern Church, discovered that of these great leaders over hundreds of years, only 30 percent finished well. Of strong leaders, 70 percent started strong and finished weak! I’m sure most of these leaders believed they would finish strong, but they did not!

What makes any one of us think that we won’t be one of the 70 percent who flame out? How can we finish in the 30 percent? Here are three keys—not a comprehensive list of spiritual traits, but three of the most important areas of character you must have to finish strong, to leave a legacy, to build a great life.

First: Stay focused on the finish. Paul wrote in Philippians 3:12:

Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own.
Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead,
I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.

We could look at it this way – it’s called reverse engineering… What do you want your epitaph to say? The wonderful and powerful Ruth Graham, wife of Billy Graham ordered her own tombstone to read: RUTH GRAHAM “End of construction. Thank you for your patience.”

A life lived humbly, a life lived well. How do you want people to remember you? How do you want to finish your life? Keep that as a focus. It’s the same as teaching children to play basketball. When they begin, they look only at the ball. They must be taught to lift their eyes, to see where they are going and focus on the basket.

The power of the life of Jesus Christ, in His masculinity and humanity, was His focus. The intentionality of His life. He never wavered from His identity and His task. Not one time, for a moment. To be like Jesus is to focus, to cut away the distractions and disappointments that so easily hinder us.

Jesus prayed. Why did He do that? He was God incarnate. Why did He have to pray? In His humanity, He was being pulled many directions. Prayer focused His life. The principle is, prayer strips away the inconsequential.

It is recorded in 1 Peter 5:8, that Peter taught it this way: “Be vigilant…(keep your eyes open) devil looking for whom he may devour.” The principle is, you cannot trust the flesh to discern spiritual issues.

Second, keep walking. Don’t stop, don’t panic. If you fall, pick yourself up in His strength and keep walking. Jesus was never in a panic. The disciples were, many times. Jesus came as the “Prince of Peace” not the “Prince of Panic.” My father taught, “Never quit! Failure isn’t fatal, quitting is. A champion is not one who never fails—a champion is one who never quits.”

The Bible tells us in James that there will be difficulties, but that God is our strength. Hebrews teaches us to maintain our confidence. We need endurance. Don’t quit!

Here’s two translations of 1 John 5:4:

“For every child of God defeats this evil world, and we achieve this victory through our faith.”

“For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world— our faith.”

We are in a battle. The enemy is not friendly to you. The enemy wants to destroy you and wipe you out! This is not some wussy little slap fight… this is hand to hand mortal combat with only one that will be left standing! It MUST be you!

Three: We must maintain intimacy with God. David Wilkerson continued his prayer times. He didn’t get stuck on the miraculous testimony from the 1960’s. He stayed in touch with the source of His life–the Father. Gideon lost his intimacy. Gideon tore down the altar of Baal, but by the end of his life, he created an image to worship in his hometown… not to lead men to God, but to worship the idol itself. He was worshipping the acts of God, not God personally, intimately, Himself.

We were created by God to be intimate with Him. He created everything that exists by His Word, except with man, He leaned in and formed us with His hands…then He leaned close and breathed His breath into us. We were made to come alive in His presence.

Prayer produces intimacy and prayer is fuelled by His Word. Intimacy and worship are learned corporately but practiced privately.

King David wrote: "When You said, 'Seek My face,' my heart said to You, 'Your face, O Lord, I shall seek'" (Psalms 27:8). The brother of Christ declared in James 4:8, "Draw near to God and He will draw near to you."

The Bible is filled with illustrations of intimacy with Him, marriage, family and praying “Our Father” when we address Almighty God.

So important is intimacy with God, that the Bible declares the lack of intimacy is “stupid.” For the shepherds are stupid and do not inquire of the Lord; therefore they have not prospered, and all their flock is scattered (Jeremiah 10:21).

God makes His desire for intimacy very clear in Hosea, speaking of His people: ″Therefore, behold, I will allure her, and bring her into the wilderness, and speak tenderly to her…And in that day, declares the LORD, you will call me ‘My Husband,’ and no longer will you call me ‘My Baal.’...And I will betroth you to me forever. I will betroth you to me in righteousness and in justice, in steadfast love and in mercy. I will betroth you to me in faithfulness. And you shall know the Lord ( HOSEA 2:14-20).

Over the past forty years, of all the great men I’ve seen in ministry—from having David Wilkerson visit my eighth grade class to conducting meetings with Bill Bright—I can recall so many who did not finish strong like these I mention. My own experiences with great men falls not far from the 70-30 that Clinton’s research showed.

Gideon was a powerful man stuck on his past victories. He was ready just to “do church” the way they always did it. And when he died, everything he had worked for, sacrificed for, wept over…was gone.

Victory is always on the other side of a fight. There are always obstacles and battles, but when we focus, keep walking, stay intimate—in other words, follow Christ with all of our hearts—we can finish life strong. Yes, you can finish life strong. God personally and specifically spoke a word of confidence over your life—read it out loud right now;

“And I am convinced and sure of this very thing, that He Who began a good work in you will continue until the day of Jesus Christ [right up to the time of His return], developing [that good work] and perfecting and bringing it to full completion in you” (Philippians 1:6).

Your Brother,

Paul Louis Cole
President, Christian Men’s Network

Monday, October 8, 2012 5:01:00 AM