Encouragement to Endure

20160731_130048-1BIBLE VERSE FOR TODAY… Therefore, since we also have such a large cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us lay aside every weight and the sin that so easily ensnares us. Let us run with endurance the race that lies before us, keeping our eyes on Jesus…” Hebrews 12:1,2 HCSB

What a great day! I had the opportunity to be the special guest at Dakota Ridge Church this morning. It was such a delight to see so many old friends and to meet new ones. I shared about my health challenges and book and shared a short message. It is hard to believe that is has been 10 years since I left my pastoral ministry to run for political office.

This afternoon Caedmon and I traveled to Estes Park for this year’s “Grand Camp.” It is great to see so many who were at the camp last year and at the same hard to believe it has been a year. I had the opportunity to share on the first night with the group as well.

Our theme this year is from Hebrews 12:1,2 and is entitled, “The Amazing Race.” I spoke briefly about perseverance and how it relates to my experience of the last three years. In so doing I asked, the adults and children to consider:

1 –  What is perseverance (or endurance)?20160731_165831

2 – What areas of life require perseverance?

3 – What enables us to persevere in life?

Perseverance is simply that ability to keep going when we want to stop. I had two 10-year old boys come forward. I had them both run in place for a minute. While the first “ran” I asked everyone to remain silent.  As the second “ran”, I had everyone cheer the entire time. The difference was noticeable.

Perseverance is needed in so many arenas of life. For adults it may be continuing in a difficult job, or a child it is continuing in a challenging class. It applies to our faith, the trials that come our way, marriage and a host of other areas of life.

What empowers us to persevere? Having others “cheering us on” makes a difference. We can experience that in athletic competition, but the same applies to others areas of life. When I was in recovery my friend Pastor Bob Strauch was with me during one of my workout sessions. With a background as an athlete and coach, he was verbally encouraging me on, “you can do it!” “keep trying!” “good job!” “Come on one more!” About a week later I was in therapy and having struggle and my therapist asked, “where is that guy who was here last week?!” You can use him right now, you did better when he was here.”

We are encouraged by those who come alongside and those who have “gone before us.” That is why Hebrews 12, follows Hebrews 11 and those who are commended for their faith. It is an account of those who “stuck it out”, even when what they believed, did not materialize. The writer of Hebrews refers to this “cloud (or crowd) of witness” with the implication of “If they can make, you can make it!”

Then we realize that our focus makes all the difference. We must “Keep our eyes on Jesus.” Jesus is not only our example of endurance, but He is the one who provides the strength that we need at the time  we need it.

We are also reminded that at the finish line there “awaits a crown of righteousness that the Lord shall give on that day…” (2 Timothy 4:9) It isn’t true on earth, but it is in heaven, we can all be “winners!”

Prayer for today…. “Lord, thank You for  Your example and the power You provide so that we can “endure.” Enable us all to “keep our eyes on You.” Let us not grow weary and give up. Allow us to be to others that source of encouragement they need at the right time.”