Saturday, September 22, 2018

Quitters Never Win - Martin Wiles

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. Hebrews 12:1 NLT

“The first time you quit, it’s hard. The second time, it gets easier. The third time, you don’t even have to think about it.”

Paul “the Bear” Bryant said the above. He accumulated 324 career wins at the University of Kentucky, Texas A & M, and the University of Alabama. His philosophy was, “Sacrifice. Work. Self-discipline. I teach these things, and my boys don’t forget them.”

Prior to the 1954 football season, Bryant took 111 Texas A & M players to Junction, Texas, for a ten-day football camp. After ten days, only thirty-five were left. The rest walked away because of the rigorous schedule and the desert conditions. But those who survived went on to great success both on and off the field.

The writer of Hebrews reminds believers we are in a competition to win also. But ours is between good and evil. As representatives of Christ, we are assigned the responsibility of disseminating His love across the globe. Winning at that involves intentionality.

To win we must train, which requires dedication and hard work. Those who occasionally win without training can chalk it up to good luck. Most winning requires rigorous training. For the believer, it entails stripping off weights that slow us down and putting away sins that trip us up. Weights come in variegated forms: busyness, misplaced priorities, unhealthy relationships, neglect of spiritual disciplines.

We also have to monitor our reaction to failure when things don’t turn out as planned—even though we think we’re following God’s plan. I can be a sour loser, or I can seek God’s direction, get up, and try again.

Experience is a great teacher. While it would have been nice to know as a young boy what I know now as an adult, I would have missed the experiences that furnished me that knowledge. Enjoying the journey is part of winning.

Believers are always winners in God’s eyes—whether or not we win at everything we put our hand to in life. How I handle setbacks speaks volumes about my character. In life, not everyone gets a trophy—as they might in sporting events where the children are small and just learning to play.

When you run the race of faith, you never lose—so don’t quit along the way. God’s power will carry you through every circumstance.



Prayer: Father, give us strength and courage to run the race of faith so at the end we can hear You say, “Well done, good and faithful servant.” 


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Friday, September 21, 2018

Flashback Friday - Praying God’s Will for Others - Martin Wiles

Praying God’s Will for Others

When I think about mine, it sometimes appears pretty selfish.

I have a general daily prayer list. While I don’t adhere rigidly to it, for the most part, my prayers follow this schedule. Occasionally, I pause to consider who is benefiting most from these prayers. Are they all about me, my family, my wishes, and my wants, or am I interceding more for others than I am concentrating on me? After all, I’m human and tend to be a little selfish. If I’m not careful God can become the big Santa Claus in the sky. Read more...

Tweetable: Who do you need to pray God's will for?


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Thursday, September 20, 2018

Praying Through - Martin Wiles

He prayed three times a day, just as he had always done, giving thanks to his God. Daniel 6:10 NLT

His whispers were barely audible, but I detected them through the slightly-ajar door.

“Where is Daddy,” I asked Mom?

“In his office, saying his prayers,” she responded.

I peeped through the crack. Dad sat behind his large desk, head bowed, hands folded, a small spiral bound notebook draped across his lap, lips barely moving. I had no need to wonder what was in the book. I had peeked.

One day when he was gone, I slipped into his office, saw the book lying on his desk, and opened it. What I found was simple. Seven pages were occupied with writing—one page for each day. Below the day’s name was a list of things and people Daddy prayed for. I had always thought there must be something magic in the book. Some type of spiritual incantation. But there wasn’t. Just a modest prayer list.

For thirty minutes every morning, Dad poured over the list. Sometimes, his prayer time interfered with my needs—or so I thought. When I confronted Mom with my dilemma, she told me I could try interrupting him. No guarantee though.

Regardless of where we lived, Dad’s office doors squeaked. I never knew what might happen when I pushed it open. He might open his eyes and look at me with that “What do you want” look. If so, I could ask my question. More often than not, he kept his eyes closed and continued praying. I’d have to wait. What he was doing was more important.

Prior to retiring for the night, Dad entered his office again. Not for thirty minutes, but for a ten-minute sort of wrap-up prayer for the blessings and opportunities of the day. For as long as he was alive, Dad continued his regimen.

Daniel was a man of prayer too. He didn’t let the fact that he was a captive to a foreign ruler and lived among pagan people stop him from his daily ritual. Three times daily, he opened his window toward Jerusalem and prayed to his God. An order from the king to cease praying to any other god for thirty days didn’t stop Daniel. Nor did being tossed into the lion’s den.

I’ve learned a lot from my dad—and Daniel—about prayer. Praying continuously is important. Daddy had his designated times, but he remained in an attitude of prayer throughout every day. How he operated his life made this evident.

My dad also prayed consistently. Although he had a morning and evening ritual, his prayers were never ritualized. He prayed believing the God he prayed to had the ability to answer his prayers—and would if he prayed in His will.

Dad often used the ACTS acronym when praying: adoration, confession, thanksgiving, and supplication. He didn’t care if his sons—or anyone else—made fun of him over his prayer program. He believed it pleased God, and that’s all that mattered.

Dad’s prayer example stuck. While I don’t follow it precisely, I adhere to it generally. And yes, I had a spiral bound book. Even though I’ve discarded it, my mind still sees what’s on each page, and I pray for those things and people religiously.

Dad’s been gone for eight years, but the example he gave me for praying remains. I hope to pass that down to my children and grandchildren, just as Dad did.



Prayer: Father, prompt us to be people of prayer, leaving an example for those who come after us. 


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Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Threads of Life - Martin Wiles

Dear brothers and sisters,[a] when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. James 1:2 NLT

Noise, dirt, confinement. I swore I’d never work in a mill, but found myself deposited there nevertheless.

For four years, I did my stint with Greenwood Mills. Three of those years, I labored in the weave room. Unbearable noise ear plugs couldn’t drown out. Dust clinging to every crevice of my body. And looms that wouldn’t consistently run regardless of my best efforts.

Looms took thousands of threads and wove them into a solid piece of cloth, but one broken thread halted the process. Finding the broken thread was often a challenge, but once it was retied the loom functioned as intended. Small broken threads wreaked havoc in the weave room, causing production to drop if not rethreaded quickly.

My life runs somewhat as a loom does. Thousands of life events combine to make up my life, but one broken string disrupts the entire scene. For early Christians, persecution was the broken thread. James encouraged them and instructed them to consider their trials an opportunity for great joy. After all, they are following their Savior’s footsteps.

Trials disrupt our lives, just as one broken thread stops a loom. Divorce, death, financial crunches, unemployment, abuse, crushed dreams. Whatever the thread, when it breaks life either stops or changes drastically. Sometimes, the looms didn’t stop when a thread broke, and a flawed piece of cloth was the result.

My response to trials is crucial. I can stop or keep going in a flawed or healthy condition. Initial stops aren’t necessarily bad. Stopping gives me a chance to consult God. If sin has led to my life disruption, I need to confess and repent. If it hasn’t, I need to check with God for direction. Not doing so means I’ll keep going in a defective state, making unhealthy and unwise decisions.

No one enjoys trials. I can’t think of one I’d like to repeat. But God sees the finished product. He knows what He’s initiating or allowing into our lives. I may complain, but He knows what’s beneficial.

When the threads of life break, God is always willing to show us the escape route—and not necessarily a route that takes us out of the trail but one that enables us to endure it, learn from it, and become a little more spiritually mature along the way.

Learn to trust God, even when the threads of life fracture.



Prayer: Father, we trust You to guide us through life when the threads hold and when they rupture. 


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