A Bust in the Hall of Faith

When he was in the fourth-grade, our son chose as his “Ohio project” to report on the Pro Football Hall of Fame. (Thank you, Matthew, for leaving Ohio’s canal systems, salt mines and burial mounds in the capable hands of your classmates.) Located in North Canton, the HOF was just a two-hour drive away, which, of course, meant, “road trip!” There we saw bust after bust of pro football’s greats—from Jim Brown to Dick Butkus—and the array of memorabilia, including Jim Thorpe’s Canton Bulldogs uniform, was mesmerizing for two admiring pilgrims. For these real-life relics recalled an excellence displayed on the field week after week, year after year.

Yet I couldn’t help but to think about the true excellence we did not see. Sprints run, weights lifted, and drills executed until exhaustion, only to rest for a moment and then do some more. Tireless resolve driving bone-weary bodies, hour after hour, day after day. The Hall welcomed us fans who came to visit, but it paid homage only to those content with nothing less than induction.

Hebrews 11 is a stroll through a different showcase of legends. Here we pause before the busts of believers—Noah, Abraham and Moses. We honor Gideon, Rahab, David and other everyday folks who persevered through the obstacles they could see, trusting in the God they could not see. Through faith some escaped the sword, and others, through faith, endured it. In trust some administered justice; in trust, some suffered injustice. All of these have finished life’s race and yet remain, urging us on from this Biblical Hall of Faith.

This particular Hall, however, is no place for mere visitors: we are all called to persevere as people of faith and to be content with nothing less. “Since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses,” writes the author of Hebrews, “let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.”1 And so we do. Like Paul, we “press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called [us] heavenward in Christ Jesus.”2 For our own time comes soon enough, and the Hall awaits.

Father, though doubts come and go, I do trust you, for you have shown yourself to be faithful. Show me the Kingdom work you have prepared for me to do today, and strengthen me with your power to do it in faith. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.

Christ in me is hope.

1 Hebrews 12:1
2 Philippians 3:14

Read today’s Scripture in Hebrews 12:1-3.


Our Hope of Glory

My father was a good dad. As a young boy, I loved him, admired him, and trusted him. At age seven, I also lost him—he died of a heart attack one summer Sunday morning. Though there were plenty of happy moments in the growing-up years that followed, they emerged against a backdrop of emptiness and loss. My father was gone, and a great deal of my childlike trust in God might as well have been buried with him.

Years later when I was a young man, I had a dream. In my dream, my father was with me again, and I was bringing him up to date on what had happened in my life—that I had gone to college, graduated, and launched my career. His attention was undivided as he listened with interest, pride, and affirmation. So when I went on to tell him also about my brother’s and sister’s lives, he said in warmth and kindness, “I know. You don’t have to tell me.” A bit confused, I paused and said, “I just wanted you to know what else has happened in our family since you died.” Then with an assuring grin and his peaceful blue eyes, he replied simply, “I never died.” I immediately awoke with tears as warm as my father’s love and a heart daring to hope again in our God and His promise of eternal life.

There’s a whole lot we won’t know about the next life until we get there. No eye has seen it, no ear has heard it, and no mind has conceived it.1 But we do know this—life will be as we know down deep it is supposed to be. There will be no more mourning, for there will be no more death. There will be no more crying, for there will be no more pain. There will be no more heartache, for God will wipe every tear from our eyes. 2

We will finally realize just how much God loves us and how highly He treasures us. We will discover the magnificence in which He created us and to which He has already begun to restore us. For though we fall far short of his splendor, He is already at work, transforming us “into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.” 3 Yes, we will again know the glory our loving God intended for us from the beginning, and in this hope we rejoice. For our hope is not the human notion of mere possibility or even optimism; our hope is the certainty of Christ. He who has fulfilled the promises of ages past lives today as our hope for an eternity of glorious tomorrows. He is our hope. He is “Christ in you, the hope of glory.” 4

When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory. (Colossians 3:4)

1 1 Corinthians 2:9
2 Revelation 21:4
3 2 Corinthians 3:18
4Colossians 1:27

[Read today’s Scripture in John 11:38-44.]

Today’s post is an excerpt from Christ in Me. Copyright  2016 Paul Nordman. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Click here to purchase a copy of Christ in Me.


Transition Generations

I’d have to say Bob Bailey is the greatest leader I’ve ever been around. CEO at State Auto Insurance Companies for roughly half of my 35-year career there, he was visionary, principled, optimistic, engaging and kind. He also had about him the wonderful folk wisdom of one raised as a Kansas farm boy; employees loved him and could quote many of his horse-sense adages. One that still comes to mind in pivotal situations is this: “Think about how a decision will play out two, three, and four steps down the road.”

His advice seemed simple enough—EQ before EQ was a thing. “Of course! Why not?” The fact of the matter, though, is that we make all sorts of personal decisions that gratify only briefly before reaping a harvest of regret in due season. Be it the one-time fling or the one more drink—and we might as well add unharnessed anger and unbridled tongues—our indulgent choices of the moment ripple ruin through friends, family and finances, sometimes setting a rocky course for those who will travel in the footsteps we leave behind.

Yet I also know many people who are to their family what I call the “transition generation.” These men and women set out in life on a perilous path, the lane of a lineage marked with abuse, dependency, unfaithfulness or disbelief. Yet through vision, resolve and the grace of God, these brave ones changed the course for themselves, their family and offspring yet to come. They heard a Voice and followed Him to a new path of hope, often at a cost of dear friendships, as the apostle Peter notes, “Those who do not know God are surprised you do not join them in the sinful things they do. They laugh at you and say bad things against you.”1

No matter how bumpy the road left behind by our forebears, we can chart a new course for our family; and if we’ve veered off highways paved smooth by our predecessors, we can make our way back by God’s mercy and grace. I can think of no greater leadership than to bless our family—to be a milepost of hope—two, three, four and more steps down the road.

And a highway will be there; it will be called the Way of Holiness; it will be for those who walk on that Way. (Isaiah 35:8a)

Father, this life can be so tough and so difficult to navigate. Lead me and lead my family in courage down your paths of good and right; bless us, so we may bless those who follow in our steps. Lead us in Christ, for He himself is “the way.”2 In His name and by the power of your Spirit, I pray. Amen.

Christ in me is hope.

1 1 Peter 4:4 (NLV)
2 John 14:6

[Click here to read today’s Scripture, 1 Peter 4:1-6.]