“If heaven were by merit, it would never be heaven to me, for if I were in it I should say, ‘I am sure I am here by mistake; I am sure this is not my place; I have no claim to it.’ But if it be of grace and not of works, then we may walk into heaven with boldness.”

Charles Spurgeon

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Once at the top of the fight game, Freddie Roach is now picking himself up from the canvas

http://www.latimes.com/sports/boxing/la-sp-freddie-roach-20180707-story.html

But all of them — Pacquiao, Mrs. Roach, the stars, even the parking attendant — are absent now as Roach, 58, glances around the empty downstairs gym he built for champions, and reflects. “This is still my job, still what I love to do. I want to be here by 7 o’clock to work with the young pro kids. Then, at night, I help the amateurs,” said Roach, who has battled Parkinson’s disease throughout his career. “I guess someday it will end [but] I think retirement might be a death penalty.””

It’s so crazy to think that this 58 year old legend, who is by all accounts an absolute genius in the finer points of face punching, and who was the coach to the Manny Pacquiao, and who battles Parkinsons, is struggling so badly with retirement and letting go.

You’d think that accomplishments on the highest stage for decades on end in the sport that he loves would satisfy, would fulfill him, would ease him into a gentle retirement. Or that’s the story we spin for ourselves at least – hustle hard while you’re young and able, and in the distance your future awaits: no worries, no cares, and Roach with time off to rest his ailing body and cash aplenty to satisfy every passing whim.

But he sounds so broken here, and even if you leave room for Pugmire’s journalist spin and some lyrical waxing, it’s heartbreaking to see one of the best trainers of our time in so much pain. Where is the fruit of his years of labor? Where is the quiet contentment and joy at the end of a well-journeyed road?

This is a man who poured himself into a beautiful craft. I hope he finds peace.

moment by moment, sinners are coming home

i was brimming with thoughts just hours ago, but they have simmered down to this:

when Simon said that one line in service earlier, it hit me right between the eyes because the idea of “coming home” is so powerful and wonderful to me. from being out and lost and in the cold and struggling, to being home. and i thought – God set His love upon me? when i was so awful?

Simon spoke of unity with Christ – Galatians 3 tells us that when we are ‘in Christ’, then there is neither Jew nor Greek (nationality / race), neither slave nor free (social standing), no male or female (gender / sex). and that just filled me with pain and shame for all the times when I had been sexist or racist or just less than I should have been towards these people who God loves and who I should rightly call family.

Joshua’s newsletter had this to say:

Why does God put so much emphasis on the way we treat the poor and needy? Because how we treat the poor reflects our true character. We know we can expect nothing in return.

So yes it’s all a bundle of unruly thoughts right now, but please let me leave you with the words of our closing song:

You have loved us like / You loved Your Son

We are heirs with Christ / bought by His blood

Oh how great the love that we’ve been shown

We’re Your children now, You’ve made us Your own

How many lost ones are still out there? Grant us grace to seek and serve the lost Lord, even as we remember the grace that sought us out when we were lost.

What have you done? The voice of your brother’s blood is crying to me from the ground.

https://www.vox.com/identities/2018/3/21/17149092/stephon-clark-police-shooting-sacramento

WhatsApp Image 2018-03-23 at 11.03.35

Stephon Clark, 22. Sacramento police fired twenty rounds at him for standing in HIS OWN BACKYARD and holding on to a white iPhone.

They never identified themselves as policemen.

They claimed that he was holding a gun. Why? Even if they genuinely believed that the white iPhone in his hands was a gun – WHY would they think that?

Twenty rounds. Twenty shots fired with no return fire – because he was holding an iPhone

He is survived by his wife and his two children. And now they will have to grow up without a father.

Why have you done this terrible thing? Listen. Your brother’s blood cries out to Me from the ground.

 

 

All That My Searching Heart Has Longed For Can Be Found

https://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/cnainsider/china-disabled-orphan-keyuan-singapore-adopted-alenah-9965340

 

“shortly after they arrived in his birth province on Day 2, the mood shifted. At lunch, Keyuan suddenly went quiet and put his head down on the table.

“I thought he was just tired, but then I saw a tear roll down his face. I realised that he was just really sad. I think all the excitement seemed overwhelming,” said Dr Lim.

“They try so hard to be lovable,” said Dr Lim. But “part of being in a family is knowing that people will love you no matter how you feel.””

 

 

Two First Reads of the Year (and Two Quotes from each read for those who dislike reading Reads)

1) A brief history of time by Stephen Curry Redeemer Presbyterian Church

https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/article/life-and-times-of-redeemer-presbyterian-church/

Starting a church in New York City was something not just beyond my talent and ability, but pretty much beyond [the] talent or ability [of anybody] that I knew,” Keller said in a Redeemer video. “Therefore, if God was going to do it, he would not be doing it through the talent of the minister, but through . . . a person who loved and depended on him… I realized, ultimately—yes, I didn’t have the prayer life I should have, I didn’t have the love of God I should have—but ultimately, to not go was just simply cowardice. And it was not being faithful to the One who had the bravery to come from heaven to earth and go to the cross for me.

AND

The preacher has to anticipate questions and objections to the evangelical message that would be raised by Jewish persons, socialists, Wall Street brokers, aspiring actors, gay rights activists, politically correct graduate students, and young second-generation Asian-American professionals,” he wrote in Center City Churches in 1993. “If we always preached as if these kinds of people were present, they would come or be brought.

^^^!!!!!!!!!!!!

2) A challenge to my habits and creature comforts

https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/article/8-signs-your-christianity-is-too-comfortable/

“If you go to church with people who are always easy to talk to, always fun to be around, and always closely aligned with your opinions, tastes, and preferences, your Christianity is too comfortable.

One of the glorious things about the gospel is that it creates a new community out of disparate types of people who, in many cases, wouldn’t otherwise choose to spend time together.

YES YES YES YES YES

Uncomfortable Christianity, however, leads to life and transformation. It leads us to rely on God and not on ourselves; to serve rather than be served; to live lives marked by sacrifice. It leads us to do hard things, to embrace hard truths, to do life with hard people for the sake and glory of the One who did the hardest thing. It may be uncomfortable, but it will be worth it. On the other side of discomfort is delight in Christ.”


Two reads that I will continue to chew on as the day plods on.. to come as I am, with nothing except my love for and utter dependence on Jesus, yet to be wholly anticipating the challenge and discomfort and call of the Cross, that as I walk with Jesus I will not remain as I am, but will be more like Him – more of a servant, more humble, more giving, more able to bring hope and love to this world and to its people.

“If you’re feeling rejected, excluded, a stranger, Remember the one who came down to the manger.”

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That’s who Jesus has come for. Are we doing all that we can for those that the Father loves?

Christmas is one of many beautiful reminders that I was miles away from where I wanted / needed to be, but that with one homeward step, I the far-off prodigal had a Father who ran to me and brought me in.

That is the message of the season: that however far away, worn out, beaten down, you are, however loudly you might scream inside at the seeming hopelessness of it all, there is a shepherd and a Father who is still looking, who is still searching high and low, who does not give up on the worst of hearts. This is the truth that makes me weep and sing. The one who would heal every aching heart has come.. how can my life bring His peace to a hurting world?