Some of you may have noticed I took the summer off of writing the blog.  It was a selfish decision but I needed a mental break.  “Think, think think, that’s all I ever do.” – Winnie the Pooh.  I tried to catch up on some reading and didn’t even succeed in that.  I guess those comic books will have to wait for next summer.  It doesn’t really matter because Archie never ages and it looks like he will never graduate from High School.  I just can’t figure out what he’s sees in Veronica.  Betty is such a better person on so many levels but he is forever setting himself up for heartbreak with that trust-fund rich girl.  Maybe he’ll get it one day.  I’ll keep you posted.

One thing I did manage to do this summer was watch the London 2012 Olympics.  It is much more satisfying because there is always a clear winner.  Well, except maybe this year.  This was the first Olympics in history where athletes were expelled from the games for… not trying to win.  The most overt of these were the 4 women’s badminton teams.  Two from Korea, one from China and one from Indonesia.  Due to a somewhat flawed schedule as to which team faced which team in the round robin, all 4 teams tried to actually lose their matches in order to face easier opponents later on.  The result was perhaps the worst badminton ever seen at a world class event.  They were deliberately missing their serves, hitting the bird into the net or missing shots entirely.  They weren’t fooling anyone.  The fans started to boo and the commentators were incredulous.   The IOC stepped up and disqualified all eight players for ‘failure to give best efforts to win’.  Incredibly the world’s top teams were gone allowing lesser teams to medal.  Canada finished just out of the medals in 4th.

There is a far greater biblical connection to the Olympics than most people know.  They were very much a part of the culture of the day in the time of Jesus and His disciples.  The Ancient Olympics were held every year in Athens from 776 BC to AD 394.  In those days only men could compete and only men could spectate.  It may have had something to do with that fact that they competed completely naked.  Today, only women’s beach volleyball compete naked (at least mostly).  It’s a little bizarre actually…

In 1 Corinthians 9 the Apostle Paul makes reference to the ancient games as a metaphor for the Christian walk.  “Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize?  Run in such a a way that you may obtain it.”  If you read this passage carefully, and in context, you realize that we are all in the race whether we like it or not.  And unlike the Asian badminton players, Paul admonishes us to give it our best effort to win.  He does not say you are going to win every race.  He merely says to run in such a way that you might.  Sports psychologists will tell you that if you cannot see yourself winning, then you never will.

My favourite story of the London 2012 games is that of fellow Winnipeger Clara Hughes (no relation).  She is one of only 5 athletes in history to medal in both the summer and winter games (cycling and speed skating).  After the 2004 Olympics she retired from cycling.  She was  a TV commentator for the 2008 Beijing Olympics.  And then, incredibly, just shy of her 40th birthday she comes out of retirement to compete again in London.  (She was still speed skaking and had won a bronze in Vancouver in 2010)  Her best finish in London was an impressive 5th place.  Did she actually believe that her 40 year old body was going to win against a whole new crop of 20 year olds?  The answer is; yes.  That in my opinion is what makes her a true Olympian.  She embodies the true spirit of the Olympics and that is the spirit that Paul claims should also be in us as believers.

The motto of the modern Olympics is Citius, Altius, Fortius; Latin for faster, higher, stronger. This to me is exactly what Paul was talking about.  On our own spiritual journey we need to strive to be faster, higher and stronger.

Faster; in that we should learn to live life to the fullest and not waste a single moment. Everyone of us will from time to time have important opportunities knock on our door.  We should be waiting and ready to seize the day.  Life is way too short to be sitting in front of the TV watching Keeping Up with the Kardasians, Jersey Shore or any other so called reality show out there.  Instead of watching people live their lives on TV, maybe we should be out living our own life… just a thought.

Higher: because we need to find a higher cause for which to live our life.  Everyone of us is called to a higher purpose or as I like to call it a purpose greater than ourselves.  Nothing is more unsatisfying than living only for our own desires.  Just months before Martin Luther King Jr was assassinated he was preaching in his church.  He said,  “I have won many awards, but none of them matter to me, not the Nobel peace prize or any of the 100’s of others.  The only thing that will matter is, did I feed the poor, did I clothe the naked, did I care for others, did I leave this world a better place.”  That is the only question any of us should ask at the end of our life.  The higher purpose IS leaving our world a better place than when we found it.

Stronger; because inner strength is a far greater virtue than physical strength.   After Bruce Jenner (who incidentally is married to Kris Kardashian) won the Decathlon at the 1976 Montreal Olympics he made a startling statement.  “I have always seen myself as an average athlete, but I honestly believe I was mentally tougher than my opponents, that is why I won the gold.”   The Christian walk (race) is not always an easy one.  We see many that when they are faced with even the slightest adversity fold like cheap lawn chairs. Paul goes on to say that these athletes “discipline themselves in all things to win a temporal prize”.   We have all of eternity at stake, let’s run the race with the same conviction and determination.  Stay tuned for my sermon The Olympic Journey coming to a TV near you in a week or two.

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  1. Karen says:

    I’m so glad I don’t have cable or satellite, I think we are a pretty sad society when we have to watch the “reality shows” and they really aren’t reality

    Lots of times lately I have felt like I wasn’t supposed to even be in the race. Sidelines maybe but never in the race. I needed this encouragement today. Thanks

  2. Evelyn Bennett says:

    I do believe that flattery is the same way. Why do we do it? Imagine with devotions. There is a way to make everything worthwhile in life. But the first thing to acknowledge who your creator is. When we breathe our first breath in the morning should be treated as worthwhile as spreading the gospel. The more I do that I feel my self worth rise which helps me with the other thing.

  3. Sally says:

    A very timely message Pastor Mark! Especially for those who have been in the race a long time who can become, discouraged, weary and complacent for various reasons. We all need to be encouraged to “keep on keeping on” to win the prize. It is a call to the wounded, bruised warrior to once again rise up and take their place in the battle. It is not just a race but also a battle.
    The Christian walk/race is definitely not an easy one especially now when being a Christian is frowned upon and made fun of. We are seeing more and more open hostility against all those of us who stand up for Christian/Judeo values of truth and righteousness(which by the way anyone could definitely see who watched the Democratic Convention in the USA lately!) We do need to continue to encourage one another to stand strong!

  4. Gord says:

    Thanks Pastor Mark for the encouragement. Incidentally, Clara Hughes medalled in Vancouver 2010 in speed skating.

  5. Heather says:

    Love the photos. Fantastic blog. Thanks for the encouragement. God Bless You Pastor Mark.

  6. Steve says:

    I just want to pour out love onto God’s Church.
    I want to speak His love over all the Pastors in Winnipeg. I want to give praise to a God Who loves us so much and has so much mercy that He is willing to patiently endure all of our sins in order to lead us back onto the right path.
    His love is so deep and full of grace,how can we ever want to put our hope in anything in this world.
    Jesus died a torterous death so we could be set free from sin.So we could love each other like He loved us. So we could be filled with His Spirit and His joy.
    Jesus, please help Your Church! Please help us see YOU and put our focus back on the King!
    Jesus,You are sending some awful things upon this world and You want to protect Your children. You want to spread Your wings over us in protection, but many of us are throwing away that protection putting our eyes on the things of this world instead of Jesus.
    Open up our eyes God and help us see where we are naked,wretched,poor and blind. Help us see Your love is calling us to bow at Your feet and give You everything. Help us get back the power of Your Spirit and the light that will annoint Your people in the darkness that is coming upon this world.
    Make us shine in Your power JESUS!Not in the dullness of our own power.
    Let us repent where we have fallen and get back up to where You are. Jesus,You have not abandoned Your Church!

  7. Sally says:

    Not sure what your prayer was about Steve whether it was meant to bless or reprimand. Just to let you know that Jesus is our first love! We do repent weekly for our sins with our salvation prayers so I think that is covered. And yes, we do, and will be facing more and more things in this life that are not so good but it is nice to know as a body of believers we can support and encourage one anotheroin our journey here on earth and I do believe that Jesus said “occupy” until I return. We need to be the change that the world sees!

    • Steve says:

      God bless you Sally! I just know that Jesus is coming soon and He wants to prepare the way. Leveling the mountains(strongholds) and filling in the valleys(the places we are needing more of Him),preparing His people so they are ready! I love it! Let’s do it!

      • Steve says:

        I aslo want to say Sally that I don’t want to judge you or anyone else. I don’t want to argue or be a jerk.I just want to express God’s love.I know how much God loves all of us.
        I know God has humbled me and made me look at the way I say things.In a critical way not a loving way. Out of judgement,not love.
        The Lord spoke to me one day and said that MERCY was going to light the path of His people in the dark days ahead. I want to be merciful and kind.
        I think we r all in the same boat,needing His grace and knowing He loves us so we can let Him change the things in us He wants to change. If we surrender to His will,He will do amazing things in this city.
        God bless.

  8. nobody says:

    Martin Luther King’s pressing question, what are we doing for others? Last year a few days before the Grey cup party at Church of the Rock, the Holy Spirit gave me a prophetic dream about the event. Basically there was a large BBQ set on the platform where the preacher was speaking. He handed me a bottle of disgusting alcohol for me to destroy because I was the only one who can be trusted to to it. I covered it with a cloth and took it outside and came back in. The second part of the dream was that another larger BBQ had suddenly appeared on the platform, whereby the preacher was lifting the lid of the the first BBQ and then the second one of hot steaming BBQ full of cooking port. Emmediately I was disgusted to see it overflowing with pork meat at the altar. This was also digusting to the Holy Spirit who gave the dream which is related to what was going on in the church at the time. When I awoke it was clear what this all meant. There is a story in the bible that tells of the enemy sacrificing a pig on God’s altar as a sign to the Jews that there God meant nothing to them. The dream of the 2 BBQs full of Pork at the altar with the preacher was of the same meaning. Those that preach and engage in the football party eating pork are basically violating the temple of the lord in 2 ways. The church Temple (the entire grounds) and the body housing the Holy spirit, in essence fulfilling a double wamy of insult that the Holy Spirit has me addressing. Paster Mark it is a good thing that you speek out against it. Now let them have it with good teaching about prophetic dreams that the Holy Spirit gives to some members that have understanding. The churches need to be Holy and not follow the way of the world. In Joel 2:28 And it shall come to pass afterward That I will pour out My spirit on all flesh; Your sons and daughters shall prophesy. Your old men shall dream dreams, Your young men shall see visions. Full responsiblity of teaching the difference of Holiness and defiling rests on your sholders since we meet eye to eye on this issue.

  9. nobody says:

    If there is any question as to the meaning of the dream you can ask a second source which comes from Streams ministries and personally talk to John Paul Jackson, pastor and teacher of dream interpretation the biblical way. He may give you more insight for the dream of the 2 BBQs full of pork. Thank you and God Bless.

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