Keep your eyes on the prize (Hebrews 12:1-3)

God has set before you a race. It is your own personal race. Keep your eyes on the prize and do not give up. If you do give up, it’s no one’s fault but yours.

It is the object of our faith that is most important.

The “great cloud of witnesses” in verse 1 are all the faithful who have gone before us.

1. The Bible is filled with broken people that encourage us to keep running the race. The Bible is filled with heroes of the faith who were nonetheless messed up people (Abraham, Samson, Rahab). Yes, God can forgive you of your past. God changed all of these people. God used them for His glory. The Bible is filled with broken people who tell us to keep going.

Our lives are a continual process. Not everything that holds us back is sin. Sometimes it’s merely distractions that hold us back.

2. The one sin that holds all of us back is unbelief. God delivered the Israelites from slavery. They walked across the sea on dry ground. Do you think God can’t handle your situation?

You either believe God, or He’s a liar. I’ll take my chances with God.

You have to learn to have patience. God will put us in tribulation to teach us patience. Running your own race requires patience. We have to run our own race with what God gave us. We are not called on to run someone else’s race.

Jesus came for the sick and the lame and the broken-hearted. That was His race.

3. As long as you keep your eyes on Jesus, nothing else really matters. The Cross was part of His race. He became our sin and took our punishment and then came into His divine righteousness.

Pastor: You have stop putting me on a pedestal in this church. Don’t idolize the guy with the microphone. He will let you down. Consider that he might hurt just as much as the rest of the church.

Christ lived as an example but died as a redeemer. The religious leaders hated Christ, but the broken loved Him.

4. Righteousness and ridicule are inseparable. If you do something for the Lord, people will talk about you. You can’t lose sleep over it.

If you can’t “play hurt,” then get off the field.

Don’t get too close to your heroes, or you’ll find out they’re not who you thought they were.

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Do you know the difference between a clique and a claque?

The two nouns are separated by only one vowel, and the meanings are not entirely dissimilar, but there is one paramount distinction. A clique is simply a small group of people, with shared interests or other features in common, who spend time together and do not readily allow others to join them. A claque is also a group of people, but they don’t exist for the sake of the group. A claque is a group of sycophantic followers. Whereas a clique is its own object, the object of a claque exists outside the group. You’ll often find cliques at schools, churches, and the workplace where people congregate and mingle. An example of a claque would be, say, the White House press corps during the Obama presidency. You’ll also find claques attached to famous or influential people, serving primarily as yes-men.

And now you know the difference between a clique and a claque.

How the game is played

#fakenews media: Let’s go find a highly dubious woman who is willing to fabricate a charge of some sort of sexual misconduct against Roy Moore since we’re so close the election. Republicans always fold when we do this.

Highly dubious woman: Roy Moore sexually assaulted me more than 30 years ago when I was 14.

Democrats: These are serious charges. We’re calling on the Republicans to replace Roy Moore on the ballot.

Establishment Republicans: These are serious charges. We’re calling on Roy Moore to step aside.

Roy Moore: These charges are false. I’m not stepping aside.

Deplorables: Screw every one of you. We’re too smart for this. We’re electing Roy Moore. MAGA!

Quote du jour (Trump in China)

Rush Limbaugh explained during hour 2 of yesterday’s show how spectacularly successful President Trump’s trip to Asia has been, and how the mainstream press hasn’t reported any of it because it doesn’t fit their narrative. This is something that deserves to be reported, for sure.

I know full well how easy it is get caught up in the media narrative, because it’s oppressive. It doesn’t stop. The media doesn’t show you anything positive. Look, Trump’s trip in China, Trump’s trip to Asia is a grand-slam home run. They’re not televising it. There’s not a single network that televised Trump’s arrival ceremony in China. There’s not a single network that televised all of the ChiCom children waving the American flags. There are more ChiCom children waving the American flag than we have NFL players waving the American flag. ChiCom kids are waving the American flag. They’re happy to see President Trump. President Trump, as I said yesterday, is representing the United States from a position of strength. The world needs it, the world celebrates it, the world wants it, and Trump is providing it.

Link

Quote du jour

“I find it interesting that the meanest life, the poorest existence, is attributed to God’s will, but as human beings become more affluent, as their living standard and style begin to ascend the material scale, God descends the scale of responsibility at a commensurate speed.” — excerpt from I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou

About those “common sense” gun laws

On Sunday, we had another mass shooting. This one occurred in a Texas church where 27 people were killed by a deranged leftist. As usual, the left immediately politicized the shooting. Aside from advertising their obvious disdain for Christian worshippers, Democrats and the #fakenews media began clamoring for gun control and blaming the NRA. The NRA makes a convenient scapegoat for the left, but in reality, no NRA member has ever committed a mass shooting. And it was an armed NRA instructor who actually took down the shooter before police ever arrived.

Leftists keep telling us we need “common sense” gun laws to prevent future shootings of this type. Strangely, none of them seems to understand that we already have an array of “common sense” gun laws on the books. It seems that every mass shooter is already in violation of one or more gun laws (not to mention the laws we have against, you know, shooting people). In fact, the Texas shooter, who was dishonorably discharged from the Air Force, should never have been able to purchase a weapon. You see, the Air Force never entered his name into the FBI database that would have caused him to fail his background check. So it wasn’t the NRA that was to blame for the deranged leftist owning a firearm. It was instead the same federal government the left wants in charge of enforcing “common sense” gun laws.

In truth, when a leftist talks about the need for “common sense” gun laws, what they really mean is the abolishment of the Second Amendment. If this ever were to happen, only government and criminals would possess firearms. The hero who stopped the Texas shooter would not have legally been armed, and who knows how many more people would have been killed waiting for law enforcement?

Oddly, the same leftists demanding “common sense” gun legislation are staunchly opposed to common sense voter ID laws that would greatly curtail voter fraud, which almost always favors Democrats. Also, the leftists demanding “common sense” gun legislation are staunchly opposed to the enforcement of existing common sense immigration laws, and leftist judges keep shooting down President Trump’s common sense executive orders limiting travel to the U.S. from terrorist-supporting nations.

When it comes to common sense, it seems liberals are the last ones who should be making demands.

Quips I’ve seen on Twitter the past 48 hours

“Nice to see celebrities taking time off from raping each other to condemn prayer”

“Tell me how within 24 hrs we have suspect, motive, identified each weapon recovered in TX shooting but a month after Vegas we know nothing”

“Deranged, violent ppl cannot be given the power to strip law-abiding ppl of the right to protect themselves, but that’s what the Left wants.”

“Terrorists don’t just come from other countries. They don’t just come from ISIS. Sometimes terrorists come straight from the American left.”

“Liberals are more dangerous than guns.”

“There are only two nearly universal characteristics of those who stop mass shooters: They’re men and they use guns.”

“Rush: Question: How many of these mass murderers have been members of the NRA? Answer: Zip, zilch, zero, nada!”

“Shooter apparently hated Republicans and Christians and so left blames Republicans and Christians for his rampage. Now that’s leftist logic.”

“In what world would you try to put General Michael Flynn in jail, but let Bowe Bergdahl off? #wtf #Insanity”

“Mocking good hard working & God fearing Americans for praying probably isn’t the best strategy for smug Dems, but they can’t help themselves”

“27 Kids & Adults are killed while attending Church; the Democrat Party is racked w/ Scandal… the Media wants to talk about Feeding Fish 🐠”

“Hillary and Bill take millions from Russia and then buy the DNC. So was the DNC financed by Russia?”

“Secret Service: Man who reportedly traveled to DC to kill ‘all white police’ at White House arrested.”

“Planned Parenthood tells black women it’s safer to kill their unborn babies than protect them. bit.ly/2lLUwgu #prolife”

“The NFL is getting to the point where they may never recover from this protest. And what did it achieve? Nothing.”

“Before the world hated you, it hated me first”

Every Sunday and most Wednesday’s, I post sermon notes I take at the Global Vision Bible Church and post them on this blog with a link also on Twitter. Likewise, I’ll also post a quote or two from Pastor Greg Locke on Twitter, which he sometimes retweets. In addition to 1.3M Facebook followers, he also has 46.2K Twitter followers, so when he retweets something of mine, I duck. Most of the feedback comes in the form of likes and retweets and an occasional “Amen.” But there are also haters. I honestly don’t mind haters. If the world doesn’t hate what you have to say about the Gospel, you’re probably doing it wrong. Yesterday, I tweeted that “It is my perception that @pastorlocke & @globalvisionbc are being tested by fire during this season. God is separating wheat from chaff.” It got retweeted. And then came the haters.

Normally, I don’t respond to any of this. You’ve heard the saying that if you argue with a fool, you’ll end up looking like a fool yourself, and there is nothing to be gained by engaging these people. And keep in mind this is just a tiny sample of the hate that gets directed at our church and our pastor on his much larger Facebook platform. I don’t take it seriously because I’m not going to be lectured to by those who don’t understand our faith or the Scriptures. True, we are under authority to help the lost find that straight and narrow path that leads to salvation. But some outright reject the faith, and so that’s when you shake the dust from your feet and move on.

How great is our God (John 6:53-71)

Pastor: Last week was the definitive message of my ministry. Today is my 25th anniversary of preaching the gospel.

The imaginations of Jesus’ followers were captivated by what He was saying. In these verses, they must have been shell-shocked by the things He said.

He was talking about eating the bread of life, literally eating His flesh and drinking His blood. But Jesus was giving an illustration that you partake all of Jesus or none.

1. When it comes to Jesus, if you’re half in, you’re all out. Jesus has given us one final exit strategy. Either you take it or get left out. We submit to His lordship every single day. This shook the foundation of their religious tradition.

What Jesus was illustrating is that you can’t accept just a part of Jesus and fulfill your eternal destiny. The church in America is today diseased by only a “half-worship” and gray areas in Christian life.

2. The spirit of religion must be attacked at its very core. Jesus went to the very places where religious people congregated and told them things that made them hate Him. Religious people cannot stand what we propagate. This church is not about do’s and don’t’s. It’s a bondage that some of us have been under our entire lives. Some of us are dying in religion.

Religion is disgusting. The church in America is strangled by religion. The things that religion tells us we must “do” have already been done by Jesus. He has already fulfilled all the rules.

Pastor: I’m saying things I’ve never said before and praying things I’ve never prayed before.

If you’re hoping to walk deep with God, then…

3. Get used to the hard stuff. Life is hard, and when things aren’t good, God is still there.

Even Jesus was a bit confrontational and sarcastic in the things He said. He asked His disciples in this passage, “Does this offend you?”

It is the spirit of God that reveals these truths to us. He helps us process conviction.

Indeed, many of His disciples left Jesus at this point and went back to what was natural to them. (Isn’t this the tendency of us all?)

Jesus asked the twelve if they, too, were also going away. This was huge. Jesus had given his hand-picked followers an out.

Peter gave a great answer: “Where else are we going to go?” Indeed, once you have immersed yourself in Jesus, there’s no place else to go. When you are filled to overflowing, there is nothing else that will satisfy.

4. When you’re totally out of options, Jesus is enough. God has to do some things in our lives that we don’t like. We must have a testimony that is blameless.

Pastor: I’m done losing sleep over people who can’t handle what this ministry is going through.

Running up a storm

My 5th half-marathon is 4 weeks from today. Four weeks is all I have. This will be my first time running the St. Jude race in Memphis. I have run the Nashville race the last Saturday in April every year for the last 4 years, and am already registered for next year’s.

As always, I am both excited and scared about the upcoming half-marathon. I get nervous just writing about it. Despite the nerves, I am training better and smarter than any previous training regimen. I had to change the way I did things back in the spring when I was coming off an injury, and I about have it perfected now.

I’ll typically do maybe 3 short runs in a week, plus a long run. My short runs range from 5K to 4 miles or so. On these, I’ll deliberately run extra hills just to increase strength and stamina. My long runs are the variable, and they form the backbone of half-marathon training. My initial long run was supposed to be 5 miles, which would increase by a mile each time so that by the end of October, I’d be up to an 8-mile long run.

But my initial long run ended up being 10K. So I started out a week ahead. And my most recent long run, this past Monday (October 30), was 9.35 miles. So I’m still a week ahead. This way, my weekly miles increase only nominally, which I have to be careful about. (I’m still paranoid abut re-injuring myself, and still wear a compression sleeve around my right calf even now.)

So my long run next week, Lord willing, will be 10 miles, and then 11miles, and so on, until I work my way up to 13.1 miles on December 2. Every time I add a mile, it gets progressively more difficult. It’s one thing to add a mile to a 5-mile run. It’s quite another to do an extra mile after you’ve run 9 or 10 and you already want to stop. Indeed, this is the part of half-marathon training that isn’t very fun.

I’ve never run two half-marathons in a single year. I’ve always run just one. The thing about running a half-marathon is that you don’t just show up on race day and run without preparation. For me, it’s a two-month commitment. I have to train for these things. After each half-marathon, I go back to running mainly 5K’s. So I don’t stay in half-marathon shape year-round. Committing to two half-marathons in a year means I’ll spend one-third of the year training for half-marathons. And 3 months after the December 2 race, I’ll start training for the next one. I don’t think I’ll regret this, but I don’t know that I’ll make a habit of running two races per year, either.

After every goal is met, my confidence grows just a little. My long run on Monday took 1:25:20, which averages out to a 9:07 mile. If I were to maintain that pace for a full 13.1 miles, I’d finish the course a few seconds under two hours. My personal record for 13.1 miles is 2:13:34. I’m under no illusion that I can maintain a 9:07 mile for 13.1 miles. Every time I add to a long run, my pace slows, so by the time I run the actual race, I’ll average, at best, maybe a 9:30 mile. And I’d be perfectly happy with this.