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The prize that lasts forever
June 21, 2010
by Rev. Bill Hillyer, Saving Grace Lutheran Church, Delano

Twins fever. Have you caught it? Are you excited about the new stadium and the chances for the Twins to win the World Series this year? The players are doing well and the team seems to be contenders once again.

And there is good reason. The players are obviously playing with intensity and emotion to be a good team. There is a lot that goes into a team winning a championship.

Somewhere at the top of the list are discipline and training. The apostle Paul tells us this is also important for living the Christian life (living like Jesus and working for Jesus).

“Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. Therefore I do not run like a man running aimlessly; I do not fight like a man beating the air. No, I beat my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.” 1 Corinthians 9:24-27

In order to be successful in our own lives, we must be intentional in all we do, whether it is in our career path, striving for a strong marriage, or being good parents. And, even though Christ has done everything necessary for us to be forgiven and live as His children, being a “success” as a Christian, does not come naturally to us sinful human beings – we must be intentional in our walk of faith as well. That means putting Christ first in all we do.

I spoke to a father recently about his family. He is very proud of his family, especially his kids, and he takes great effort to make sure they are involved in every sport they can be in so that they develop confidence and an ethic of hard work and extra effort. When I asked him about taking his family to church, he commented that they don’t have time because there is always a sport on Saturday or Sunday.

Dads, we who are fathers must be just as intentional in teaching our children the faith as we are about getting them involved in the things of this world. They will not learn about the saving work of Jesus Christ if they are never in church. Jesus once asked this question to a crowd of people, “What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, yet forfeit his soul?” Mark 8:36.

What spiritual disciplines are you working on to help you run the race of faith? We do not receive God’s grace because we practice spiritual disciplines – His grace is a free gift we could never earn or deserve. But, His grace frees us from sin and empowers us to follow spiritual disciplines such as prayer, fasting, scripture memorization, meditation and confession in order to live our Christian life with purpose and enthusiasm, keeping our eye on the prize that lasts forever.

And isn’t that what fathers want most for their kids – to be successful and happy in life? Sports, education, chores, manners, etc. are important tasks to teach our children. Just as importantly, if we expect them to believe in God and get to heaven one day, we need to train them in the Christian life as well.

So, Dad, if you want to spend time with your children doing something that will enhance their entire life, remember the importance of sitting with your family in church this week. The impact will be eternal.