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The Game Has Gotten Hotter!

Adversity Ministry Faithfulness

Source: Tannen, Deborah. The Argument Culture: Stopping America’s War of Words. New York: Ballantine Books, 1999. P.77-78.

Contributed By: Shawn Nichols | Date Posted: 2016-04-25

Scripture: 2 Timothy 4:5

Author: Shawn Nichols
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ILLUSTRATION

On January 18, 1994, retired admiral Bobby Ray Inman shocked the political landscape when he voluntarily withdrew his nomination to be the next Defense Secretary under the leadership of President Bill Clinton. Inman was anything but unqualified, serving under both Republican and Democrat leadership. He served as Director of Naval Intelligence, Vice Director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, Director of the National Security Agency, and Deputy Director of the CIA. He had chaired several high-profile task forces, most notably after the April 1983 bombing in Beirut, Lebanon, and had served on the board of several publicly traded companies.

Yet, in an hour-long news conference, he explained that the political landscape had become so troubled with trivial accusations and attempted smears that he no longer felt capable to contribute to the needs of the nation. Recapitulating Inman’s announcement, a senior official in the White House administration summarized, “This was a guy who knew how to play the game and thought he could play the game. Only he discovered that the game had gotten a lot harder and a lot hotter.”

APPLICATION

Such is the case among western religious professions. In earlier days, pastors, circuit-riding preachers, and religion professors were viewed in high professional esteem because of their moral integrity and the power of their rhetoric to change the course of lives within their communities. Such is not the case, for the most part, in our media savvy culture, where leaks from Ashley Madison and stories of debunked televangelists have corrupted the public's view of the moral fiber of the profession. For the enduring pastor, the game has gotten a lot harder and a lot hotter.

The ministry is under a proverbial microscope that can discourage others from joining the ranks of honest proclaimers of truth. Perhaps this was the point of the Apostle Paul to the young Timothy. Even more, now, in the light of corrupted teachers, it necessitates that you “watch … in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry” (2 Timothy 4:5, KJV). Under the scrutiny of a hotter game, make sure, preacher friend, that you completely fulfill the work of the Lord’s ministry.

The Cost of the Big Game

Discipleship Commitment Adversity

Source: 42 - The Jackie Robinson Story

Link to Source: Click here to view source

Contributed By: Kenneth Sullivan | Date Posted: 2015-06-30

Scripture: Luke 14:25

Author: Kenneth Sullivan
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ILLUSTRATION

The movie “42” is the story of legendary baseball player Jackie Robinson, who was the first African American to play major league baseball (Brooklyn Dodgers). He played in six World Series games and drove in the winning score in the deciding game of the 1955 World Series championship game. Jackie was noted for his heady plays, his tenacity, and his amazing ability to steal bases. But, most of all, Jackie Robinson was known for his character. Even in the thick of racist ridicule and criticism, hateful acts and discrimination, Jackie demonstrated temperance.

How did he do it? Did he know how hard it would be to be the first black major league baseball player?  

One of the most interesting scenes in the movie is when Jackie is in a meeting with the president of the Dodgers, Branch Rickey. Rickey is telling Jackie what he needs to do in order for the team to succeed.  He says:

“People aren’t going to like this … they’ll do anything to get you to react.  Echo a curse with a curse and they’ll hear only yours.  Follow a blow with a blow and they’ll say the Negro lost his temper.  Your enemy will be out in force and you can’t beat him on his own low ground … Like Our Savior, you gotta have the guts to turn the other cheek. Will you?” 

After a pause Jackie replies, “Give me a uniform, give me a number on my back, and I’ll give you the guts.”

There seemed to be eternity in that pause.  Jackie had to take a moment to do a heart check.  He had to count the cost!  Though he had no idea what it would really be like, he had to consider that times would be hard and difficult.  There would be times when it would be more painful to live out his passion for baseball than it would be fun.  He was being offered the opportunity of a lifetime ... but, it had a heavy cost.

APPLICATION

Jesus Christ has offered us, the entire world, the opportunity of a lifetime.  He offers us the gift of becoming sons and daughters of the Most High God, enjoying a relationship with Him, the Creator of everything, and living with Him forever. Like all relationships, following Jesus requires commitment; and all commitments require sacrifice.  Jesus sacrificed His life, endured the shame of the Cross, and bore our sins in His sinless body so that we could have life to the full (cf. Hebrews 12:2; John 10:10).  What are you willing to sacrifice, endure, and bear in order to live the life that Jesus died for? 

"Whoever does not carry their cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.  Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Won’t you first sit down and estimate the cost to see if you have enough money to complete it?"  (Luke 14:27-28).

Thriving under Difficulty

Adversity Renewal Spiritual Growth

Source: American Psychological Association, December 22, 2003

Link to Source: Click here to view source

Contributed By: Scott Roberts | Date Posted: 2014-09-19

Scripture: Exodus 1:1 ; Jeremiah 29:11

Author: American Psychological Association
1

ILLUSTRATION

In 1981 Illinois Bell Telephone (IBT) downsized from 26,000 employees to just over half that many in one year. The remaining employees faced changing job descriptions, company goals and supervisors. One manager reported having 10 different supervisors in one year. Dr. Maddi and his research team were already studying more than 400 supervisors, managers and executives at IBT before the downsizing occurred and they were able to continue following the original study group on a yearly basis until 1987.

Results shows that about two-thirds of the employees in the study suffered significant performance, leadership and health declines as the result of the extreme stress from the deregulation and divestiture, including heart attacks, strokes, obesity, depression, substance abuse and poor performance reviews. However, the other one-third actually thrived during the upheaval despite experiencing the same amount of disruption and stressful events as their co-workers.

These employees maintained their health, happiness and performance and felt renewed enthusiasm.

APPLICATION

In hard times, when all hell breaks loose and life is turned upside down will you thrive or be one of those who fall apart. The Exodus is a story about thriving under adversity.  it is a story about staying grounded in who we are and the covenant promises God has made.  Only when we remember that can we be like the 1/3 who thrive in the midst of hardship and actually find that God has a plan, a plan for our redemption, growth and formation as a unique people of God.

"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future" (Jeremiah 29:11).

God's Use of Adversity

Adversity Trust (In God) Spiritual Growth

Contributed By: Matt Miller | Date Posted: 2014-06-02

Scripture: Romans 8:28

Author: C.S. Lewis / Ken Boa
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An Unlikely Rescue

Adversity Salvation Confession

Contributed By: Chris Horton | Date Posted: 2014-06-02

Scripture: Romans 10:9

Author: Walter A Maier/Ilustration Exchange
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The Adversity Principle

Adversity Faith Spiritual Health

Contributed By: Chris Horton | Date Posted: 2014-03-23

Scripture: Ephesians 2:6

Author: James Dobson
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An Enterprising Town Rises Above Adversity

Adversity Spiritual Growth Adaptability

Contributed By: Illustration Exchange | Date Posted: 2013-04-19

Scripture: James 1:2

Author: Illustration Exchange
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Mark Speckman Chooses Joy Over Circumstances

Joy Attitude Adversity

Contributed By: Bret Johnson | Date Posted: 2013-01-28

Scripture: Philippians 4:4

Author: Bret Johnson
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Fix Your Eyes On Jesus

Perspective Trials Jesus, Good Shepherd

Contributed By: Rob Tucker | Date Posted: 2018-01-08

Scripture: Hebrews 12:2

Author: Rob Tucker
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Happy Death Day!

Spiritual Growth Trials Circumstances

Contributed By: Major Dalton | Date Posted: 2017-12-03

Scripture: James 1:2 ; Romans 7:24

Author: Major Dalton
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