Wednesday, January 26, 2000

The Competitive Fire Within

Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other. (Galatians 5:24-26)

Most people who know me consider me to be one of the most competitive people they know (if not THE most). Most of my life I took great pride in that. If you stepped onto the basketball court, the baseball diamond, the bowling alley, the ping pong table, or whatever with me, you knew full well you were not only going to get a challenge, but everything I had to give.

Losing for me was not an option; I simply had to win. This challenge I placed upon myself drove me to improve and drove me to succeed. For years, I considered this a good thing. What was wrong with striving to improve or striving to be the best? It took a great deal of humbling to finally get the answer. For years, I missed what impact my competitiveness was having on others:

One year, I had about 10-15 people over my house to watch the Cowboys in the Super Bowl. Everybody (and I mean everybody) was pulling for the Steelers with passion and fire, even the most passive of football fans. Why on earth was everybody so adamant my beloved team lost?

Another year, I went on a cruise with four of my friends. Things were going great until a chess board was pulled out. My competitive juices started to flow to the point of getting into a severe shouting match with one of my friends. He grew so angry with me he slept out on the deck that night.

For the past five summers I've been playing softball in a league through my church. For the first couple seasons, winning was my chief concern; my batting average was a close second. But two years back, Dee came to one of the games and had a chance to speak with the wife of one of my teammates. Dee told me after the game that my teammate was so concerned about not hitting well, he spent hours at the batting cages before the game. I took it exceptionally hard, and began to wonder if I had done or said anything to fuel his fears of failure. That season, for the first time in my life, winning wasn't my #1 goal. Rooting for another teammate to succeed became my primary focus.

I still enjoy winning and I still love to compete. But I pray I never let those desires negatively impact another person's life again.

Sunday, January 16, 2000

The Power of Pride

Let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. (Hebrews 12:1-3)

When I reflect upon this verse and think about those sins that prevent me from fixing my eyes on Jesus, one of the first things that come to mind is my pride. A couple weeks ago I was reviewing some of the verse applications I had written last year. I came across the following words that I had shared in the app entitled "Nothing is Hidden From God" written on 8/8/1999:
"The main reason I created this site was twofold: 1) To share my love for Christ with others and 2) To overcome my resistance to read the bible. For most of my life, reading the bible has been as painful as pulling teeth. With this site, I'm now forced to open the bible at least once a week (outside of church) and type out all the verses for the week. Even if no hits were registered on "Frank's World", I'd still take joy, because for the first time in my life, I'm actively reading the bible."

I began to think about the first thing I did when I returned home from work each night for the previous couple months:

1) Turn on my computer
2) Dial onto the internet
3) Go to my home page
4) Check out the number of hits on my site

What a hypocrite I am! My desire to share my love for Christ with others and my desire to overcome resistance to read the bible had been replaced with my desire to generate as many hits as possible. It's amazing how things in my life that start with the greatest of intentions can so quickly be turned into something entirely different.

The hit counters are gone; hopefully, never to return. Yes, I can still track the number of hits my site generates (behind the scenes) and I will continue to look for ways to improve the presentation and content of the site. But it's high time I start practicing what I preach and fix my eyes on Jesus; not a meaningless hit counter.

Wednesday, January 5, 2000

The Second Coming

I heard, but I did not understand. So I asked, "My lord, what will the outcome of all this be?" He replied, "Go your way, Daniel, because the words are closed up and sealed until the time of the end. Many will be purified, made spotless and refined, but the wicked will continue to be wicked. None of the wicked will understand, but those who are wise will understand.
(Daniel 12:8-10)

Thankfully, Y2K has come and gone. Fears over a nasty computer glitch swept the world. Many people took extra precautions to avoid a potential disaster. Holiday travel was at a low, baked beans and bottles of water were snatched from the shelves, extra money was taken out from the bank, generators were stockpiled, etc. But nothing happened. As each country successfully rang in the new millennium without any major problems, a collective sigh of relief was exhaled.

For my part, I took a number of precautions. I withdrew most of my money from the stock market in November. On the 30th, Dee and I withdrew some extra cash and loaded up on water and canned goods. Although I was concerned, deep down inside I was confident. For one, I had the peace of Christ to carry me through, and secondly the bible makes no mention of a Y2K disaster.

Was Y2K a hoax or was it a matter of diligent planning that averted disaster? We may never know. But one thing is certain: the second coming of the Lord is no hoax. The bible makes it clear the end of times will come; no one knows the day or hour, but it will come. Christ instructed us to prepare for it as you would prepare yourself if you knew a thief were about to enter your home. Unfortunately, many will ignore His warnings as the "wicked will continue to be wicked." My prayer is that no one I know and love would fall into this group, but rather be part of the wise who will be "purified, made spotless, and refined."