Tag Archives: mentor

Worship Wednesday – Finishing Strong with Amazing Grace

Blog - Finishing Strong 2 - Tim MilburnPhoto Credit: Tim Milburn

Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.Hebrews 12:1-2

Finishing strong is something we all want for our lives, right? To see it happen in the life of another spurs us on to that same possibility.

Yesterday, I attended a celebration of a man’s life – 40+ years of faithful service in the same organization. 40+ years. As we heard the many accolades of his work and character, he sat quietly, listening, too. In years we’ve known him, he never aspired to that center stage spotlight…and yet, for these moments, grateful friends and colleagues shined that light on him.

He was compared to a son of Issachar (understanding the times, discerning) with the wisdom of Solomon, the passion of Paul, and the meekness of Moses. As different ones spoke of his impact and influence on their lives, he was described as a strong leader, faithful servant, friend and mentor.

This is certainly my experience of him – even in a leader role much of his career, he sought to work in the background doing what he could to make others successful. When I read the Hebrews passage above, it usually makes me think of how each of us has our own race, our individual course…but maybe we’re meant to think of it as a relay sometimes.

With our friend, he has, many times over, handed off his baton to another. Planting that baton squarely into the next runner’s hand. Giving way to another’s time to run. Selflessly releasing his hold…for the sake of the finish…for the winner’s crown, in a relay, doesn’t go to one, but to all on the team who run. This is how our friend leads and lives his life.Blog - Finishing Strong - Tim MilburnPhoto Credit: Tim Milburn

What does it take to finish strong like this? It takes proven character infused by amazing grace.

I have seen the mighty hand of God at work in this friend’s life. An imperative key to our finishing strong is humbling ourselves before God and in relationship to those He places in our lives. This is certainly evident in this faithful, humble man.

Another example of this humility worked out in relationship is the friendship between John Newton and William Wilberforce. Newton, a British slave ship captain until his conversion to Christ, would become a spiritual mentor to Wilberforce, who strongly influenced the abolition of slavery in Great Britain. Blog - Finishing strong - historicalmoviesPhoto Credit: Historical Movies

Jonathan Aitken, author of the biography John Newton: From Disgrace to Amazing Grace, writes about their relationship:

“Humanity will forever be in Newton’s debt for mentoring Wilberforce…their relationship was of pivotal importance for both historical and spiritual reasons.”

Like with our friend celebrated yesterday, and like Newton and Wilberforce, we all have the opportunity to finish strong through the amazing grace of God. I want, with all my heart, to reflect the magnificent glory of God by not only breaking the tape at the finish of my own race, but handing off the baton entrusted to me for others to finish what God started in their lives.

Worship with me to Chris Tomlin’s Amazing Grace (My Chains Are Gone):

Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound
That saved a wretch like me
I once was lost, but now I’m found
Was blind, but now I see
‘Twas grace that taught my heart to fear
And grace my fears relieved
How precious did that grace appear
The hour I first believed
My chains are gone
I’ve been set free
My God, my Savior has ransomed me
And like a flood His mercy reigns
Unending love, amazing grace

The Lord has promised good to me
His word my hope secures
He will my shield and portion be
As long as life endures

The earth shall soon dissolve like snow
The sun forbear to shine
But God, who called me here below
Will be forever mine
Will be forever mine.

Blog - Finishing strong - Amazing Grace - johnnewtonPhoto Credit: JohnNewton.org

Worship Wednesday – Chris Tomlin’s Amazing Grace (My Chains Are Gone)

Amazing Grace film (2007)

YouTube video of Chris Tomlin’s Amazing Grace with clips from film

Brief & thrilling summary of the life of John Newton who wrote the hymn Amazing Grace

Film Clip from the Film Amazing Grace – 2006 drama of political & spiritual life of William Wilberforce and his battle against slavery

Blog - Finishing Strong - John Newton - fministryPhoto Credit: Fministry

Worship Wednesday – To Live is Christ; To Die is Gain – Youth Alive

Uncle Bob & Dave at Chance, Maryland

“…according to my earnest expectation and hope, that I will not be put to shame in anything, but that with all boldness, Christ will even now, as always, be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death. For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.”Philippians 1:20-21

Don’t we have this idea that some day we’ll retire and gently ease into those sunset years of our lives? Maybe not. We definitely don’t think about dying younger than then…and for sure, we don’t think about dying suddenly. People say, “I want to go in my sleep.” Or “I want to go fast.” Maybe so…but that means living life in such a way you can die at any time. You are ready to die whenever that moment comes.

We have a dear friend who did just that. Mike died suddenly. Breathtakingly fast, his life was finished. We are still reeling.

You see, our friend Mike lived life full to busting every single day. He was a great leader, a faithful mentor of students, and a good friend…a friend who stuck “closer than a brother” (Proverbs 18:24). He was always that reliable “iron sharpening iron” (Proverbs 27:17) person in the room.

When the sparks flew, something amazing happened. Worthy ideas were born. We were drawn out of our comfort and into a conversation that mattered. Whatever the cause at the moment, with Mike in the room, it radically moved forward.

Now he won’t be in the room. The quiet of that reality is … well… impossible to frame words around.

What I can find the words for is a life lived as large as possible for God and His purposes. Mike was still teaching, writing, leading, but more than that he was following a God who gave him the huge life he had. As unimaginable as it is for us that he’s gone, all I can think is that he finished this life…and he finished it well.

We will continue to learn from Mike, remembering his life, our conversations, his writing, and the ventures still ongoing which he helped launch. He was a force for excellence and for pushing forward to take hold of what God would do, if we believed in Him and not just our own meager efforts.

Mike lived in such a way that he could die at any time. He died a man still in the middle of life, having lived, in earnestness and purpose, a longer life than many will ever live. For what? For God…for his family…for all of us whom he touched.

This song, performed by Youth Alive, speaks to his life. We can all live such a life – with courage, boldness, faith, and confidence…like our friend Mike…when “to live is Christ”.

Worship with me.  Pray for his family.

For me to live is Christ and to die is gain.

No matter what price I pay, I choose to give this life away.

I make a vow. My life will always honor You, Christ.

Whether I live or die I belong to Him.

He bore my sin; I owe this life to my saving King.

I make a vow; My life will always honor you, Christ.

Whether I live or die I belong to Him.

He bore my sin; I owe this life to my saving King.

Hallelujah, I am not my own. You are in control; Hallelujah!

For me to live is Christ And to die is gain; No matter what price I pay, I choose to give this life away.

I make a vow; my life will always honor You, Christ.

Whether I live or die I belong to Him.

He bore my sin; I owe this life to my saving King

I make a vow; my life will always honor You, Christ.

Whether I live or die, I belong to Him

He bore my sin; I owe this life to my saving King.

Hallelujah, I am not my own. You are in control, Hallelujah!

For me to live is Christ and to die is gain.

No matter what price I pay, I choose to give this life away (X2)

Only by the cross I am saved.

Hallelujah, I am not my own. You are in control. Hallelujah!

For me to live is Christ and to die is gain.

No matter what price I pay, I choose to give this life away. (X2)

Only by the cross I am saved. (X3)

YouTube Video – To Live is Christ – Youth Alive NSW

Lyrics to Youth Alive’s To Live is Christ

Worship Wednesday – Breathing In Your Grace, Breathing Out Your Praise – Your Grace Finds Me by Matt Redman