Category Archives: Motivation

True Grit


1955 GRIT

In the fifties, GRIT was a weekly newspaper that my mother bought faithfully. As a child, I was always impressed with its importance because my mother would sit down and immediately start reading. It was sold for a dime and  contained some news, women’s fashions, a comics section, human-interest stories, and recipes.

The word “grit” has stuck with me over the years. It is not a word often used to describe someone and is not a word found in the Bible. “True Grit” was also the title of a popular movie for which John Wayne won an Oscar for Best Actor. Even his name in the movie, “Rooster Cogburn,” connotes grit.

However, I believe some scriptures fall under the umbrella of grit. The word means holding steadfast to a goal even when there are bumps in the road. Progress is often slow, but it may matter more than knowledge, skill, or luck.

Paul had grit, as the reader can tell in I Corinthians 9:27:  “No, I strike a blow to my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.”

True grit is a trait we Christians seek because the phrase combines biblical terms such as “press onward” and  “…fought the good fight.” Here are some ways to develop true grit:

Understand that God is in charge, no matter what. Great leaders in the Bible were great because they showed grit by their actions. Abraham lived in tents, Moses wandered in the wilderness with the rest of Israel, and Deborah was a judge and prophetess who led the Israelites during a difficult time. All of these showed grit.

Look for the positive in life experiences. Jesus responded to the woman caught in adultery by saying, “Go and sin no more.” He did not dwell on the sin she had committed, but rather how she could live the rest of her life.

Find role models who demonstrate the traits of grit. Look for people who inspire you to be a better person and to persevere by the way they live.

John Glenn was a true American hero. He was the first American to orbit the earth and was a distinguished pilot during World War II, as well as serving as U.S. Senator for 24 years. Certainly he demonstrated grit. It is probably no accident that he watched the movie “True Grit” ten times.

Perhaps President Reagan described grit best when he spoke of the seven who perished in the Challenger disaster: “They had that special grace, that special spirit that says, ‘Give me a challenge and I’ll meet it with joy.’”

A Larry Bird Connection

I recently read a novel set in the French Lick and West Baden area of southern Indiana. It brought back personal memories of high school basketball and playing in several of the small towns in that part of the state. Specifically, one of the gymnasiums I remember best was Springs Valley, which in the early sixties was new and ahead of its time in the quality of flooring, lighting. and overall design. We basketball boys were in awe when we went out on the floor.

But what impressed me most is what happened in that same gymnasium about a dozen years later. Larry Bird played his high school basketball at Springs Valley. Larry Bird and I played on the same basketball court!  Can you believe that!

He and I have something in common. We are connected.

Okay—so the connection is a little bit far-fetched or extreme, but the connection is there. I began thinking about how we often identify a place, a person, or an event with a connection we have.

Connection is a key word in our Christian walk. We want to be connected to Jesus Christ in every way possible. This was the way the early church grew. The early disciples were first called Christians at Antioch (Acts 11:26). Paul and Barnabas taught and preached Jesus for a year there, with much growth. Why?  Because they not only taught about Jesus, but they sought to be like Jesus in every way possible. The people could tell they were connected to Jesus.

Paul sought to do this in all of his mission work. To the church at Corinth he wrote, “Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ” (I Corinthians 11:1). In other words do all you can to connect with Jesus in every possible way. Earlier he wrote, “Be imitators of me” (I Corinthians 4:16.) He was not being arrogant at all, but rather he was so connected with Jesus that all of his actions and words sought to show Jesus living in him. This was his mission as he spread the good news of Jesus Christ.

That is a great example for us. When we consider all the connections we have in this life, whether big or small, let us keep uppermost in our thoughts and actions to connect with Jesus and the way He lived. Seek to imitate Jesus Christ.

Are You Ready?

Because the Lord has great work in store for us, we must be ready! Waiting for someone who is late is frustrating; on the other hand, “I’m ready” are pleasing and uplifting words. Jesus said we must be ready to answer questions people ask us about our faith (I Peter 3:15).

In our culture, situations demand in various ways that we be ready. In baseball, the umpire will say, “Play ball.”  In an auto race, the words are, “Start your engines.” The Lord simply wants us to be in a state of readiness to serve Him when the opportunity presents itself. How can we be in constant readiness?

First, we must use repetition. Paul writes that we are to pray without ceasing (I Thessalonians 5:17). The early Christians took the Lord’s Supper on the first day of the week. Each week has a first day, so for the Christian the repetition of weekly communion encourages us to be ready. Jesus had the habit of worship (Luke 4:16). Daniel had the habit of daily prayer (Daniel 6:10). These kinds of repetitive acts keep us ready for service.

Second, there are occasions when we need to be revived. Persecutions seemed to do that for the early church. In Acts 8:4, when the Christians scattered because of their faith, their dedication was renewed as they went everywhere preaching about Jesus. Worship services can revive us. Rest can revive us. People contact can revive us. Some people are uplifting simply by having a conversation with them. Helping with a mission effort, in person or financially, can revive us.

Third, we need to review our Christian service. Paul recounted his weaknesses and what he needed to do to keep them under control (I Corinthians 9:27). In II Timothy 4:6-8, Paul reviewed his life and knew he was ready to die. The rich young ruler had his life reviewed for him by the Lord and he was not ready. The review showed there was one thing missing, and that was his attitude toward the poor and his willingness to sacrifice material possessions. Review helps see what is keeping us from being ready.

A word for the servant of the Lord is ready!

Appreciation Goes Both Ways

Our readers in Natal are very appreciative of our time to help them practice English. I believe this goes both ways.

I have been encouraged in my daily life by the attitudes of our readers. They work hard to be here and it is not always easy for them to come. They arrange their reading hours around work, school, and transportation availability.

I will mention two of my readers who especially influence me by their spirit.

One man I’ll call Frederico has a great positive attitude. He comes to read with a smile on his face and a bounce in his step. He thanks me as I correct him on the pronunciation of a certain word. Today I asked him if he was always positive.

His answer was, “Yes, I am like this all the time.”

I followed with, “Do you ever have a down day?”

He said, “Never. In fact, my friends call my positive approach a disease. They don’t understand how I do it; it is just the way I am.” When he leaves at the end of the session, I walk out with him, feeling uplifted and my spirit renewed.

The other reader I will call Angelina. She has a renewed interest in reading the Bible. She told me at our last session that she is reading in the book of Genesis. One day recently she was eating dinner and the Bible was open a few feet away. She had such a great desire to read from it that she picked it up and read as she was eating dinner. She came in that day telling me that she loved the story of Joseph and she had some questions about Joseph.

These attitudes made me reevaluate my own attitude toward other people on a daily basis. Do I always seek to have a positive attitude? Do I look forward to reading the Bible? Am I really excited or so enthusiastic about a Bible story that I can’t wait to share it with others?

People sometimes ask why we go to other countries to teach the Bible by teaching English. Angelina is a great example of the answer. In my home area, I don’t know where to find people who are so eager to learn from the Bible; here they come to us.

Think Ahead

Our Let’s Start Talking (LST) mission project this summer is unusual in that we know the people we will be working with. We worked with the same brothers and sisters two summers ago. In our previous LST projects, we were working with a congregation for the first time. Because I know many of the key people involved in making this mission work a success, I have been praying for them by name for some time.

Knowing I will have some of the same readers I had in 2012, I have a list of names I remember and lift up in prayer. I look ahead to the month of July when we will do most of our work; I pray about the social events that help everyone get acquainted with the local church members. I pray about the worship services which we hope some of our readers will visit.

I think of the preparation missionary Cris Carpenter has done and is doing to help make our work as smooth and trouble-free as possible.

This was certainly an approach Paul used in some of his letters. After he had worked with a congregation and was anticipating visiting again, he would begin or end the letter by remembering them fondly and affirming his prayers for them. For example, he wrote to the church at Philippi: “I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now” (Philippians1:3-4.) He lets them know he is looking forward to seeing them again soon, but in the meantime he hopes to send his special follow worker, Timothy, to them (Philippians 2:19-24). He tells them he is sending Epaphroditus back to them because he longs to see his friends after his serious illness (Philippians 2:25-27).

I think about the community of Christians we are leaving in Cheviot and all the things happening in ministry there in July and August. There will be Vacation Bible School, church camps, weekly volleyball, Life Groups, the Bread of Life Cafe, and the men’s retreat, among other ministries. Often our prayers are for what is happening today or this week, but we can also think to the weeks and months ahead.

Get a head start in prayer time by considering the ministries you will be involved with the rest of the summer. The LST projects motivate me to plan ahead to ways I can serve the Lord that my day-to-day activities often push aside.

Why should these ministries be of such great concern to us? Why should our thoughts be on people we want to obey the gospel of Jesus Christ? As Paul writes in the same Philippian letter, “But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ” (Phil. 3:20.)