WORLD CLASS TRUTH
Bible Principles in Sports and Adventure
World Class Truth is a first-class book among books particularly suited to young people -- both Christian and on-Christian.
Forming a most suitable combination of thrilling sports and adventure with exciting Bible principles and challenges, it makes the most profitable reading for Christians of all ages. ... the reading of this book [is] a breathtaking experience, with thrills upon thrills. It reads like a novel... but it is real life ! [Sword of the Lord]
TABLE OF CONTENTS
|WHITE WATER KAYAKING..................................
|MY GREATEST THRILL OF ALL...........................
In the Jura mountains of Eastern France lies the town of Vittel. Vittel is a typical little French town in many ways, but the name "Vittel" is known by millions of Europeans. Vittel is famous for the underground springs that flow beneath it. From these springs comes a product of nature that has found worldwide acceptance and almost become synonymous with the word "water" itself in Europe. This is the famous bottled water named after the town.
Vittel is also a word that means something else to many Europeans. It means fun, relaxation, sports, and a classically beautiful setting for a vacation. Here is a place where you will see European luxury as it was in the 1930's. If there was any expense spared in building this luxurious complex it is certainly not evidenced by the resortís magnificent buildings, classical gardens and abundant sports facilities.
While in Vittel several years ago, I became fascinated with the game of tennis. The facilities there included twelve of the most beautiful clay courts anywhere, adding a delightful dimension to the game that must be experienced to be appreciated. One day, a professional tournament came to Vittel. I was watching some of the players warm up before the start of play one afternoon when I took notice of one particular player. His name was Ros Chantranilh . Ros was from Viet Nam and had settled in Paris. Ros had a physique that was so distinct among tennis players that one had to wonder if he could play the game at all. He was around six feet tall and probably wieghed no more than 125 lbs. The amazing thing about it was that he was one of the most powerful tennis players that I had ever seen. He had a forehand that was so strong that I thought he was going to peel the ball each time he hit it. His shots were flawless: each one, just grazing the net, landed far in his opponentís backcourt with such topspin I wondered how anyone could return them. I couldnít help but look at those arms of his. They looked about as big around as my writs. Where did all this power come from?
I kept watching Ros for several days. As an individual, he was very polite and humble with a certain oriental modesty about him. As a tennis player, he was just unbelievable. As I watched him, I noticed some interesting things about his game. His form was fluid perfection in motion. His adherence and faithfulness to the fundamentals of good tennis were classic. Everything I had ever heard spoken from the lips of coaches and professionals I had known was embodied in this manís style.
Power is the name of the game in professional tennis, so how does a man with broomstick arms play in the big leagues? One need simply watch Ros Chantranilh to find out. As soon as the ball left his opponentís racket, Ros was scurrying with blazing speed to a precise spot well behind the place where he had anticipated the ball would land. Even before he got there, his racket was cocked so far back in the backswing you would think his shoulder was going to pop out of joint. Then, with all his weight shifting forward from his back foot to his front foot as he swung hard, the entire weight of his body launched into the ball each time he hit it. Ros had learned that though he had skinny arms, if he put all of his body into each shot he would have great poweró more than the person who relies too much on his strong arms and does not feel the need to polish his form or stay as faithful to the fundamentals.
What an inspiration it was to watch this fellow play tennis! He had a combination of grace, speed, and technique that one rarely sees in any athlete. I wondered how he felt the first time he stepped on a tennis court and saw someone with bigger muscles than his on the other side of the net and watched the ball blasting by him.
Have you ever stood before a task that you were sure was far bigger than you? Have you ever felt small and ill-equipped to do something someone wanted you to do? There is a man in the Bible who was in that very situation. God Himself had called Jeremiah to a great and noble task. He called him to be a prophet. "I sanctified thee and ordained thee a prophet unto the nations." (Jeremiah 1:5b) Jeremiah, however, felt that he was inadequate for the job. He answered Godís call with these words: "Then said I, Ah Lord God! Behold, I cannot speak: for I am a child." Actually Jeremiah was probably a teenager.
What Jeremiah was offering to God was an argument based on two reasons. Theses reasons were just excuses such as the ones we have used for not attempting challenging tasks. The first reason was inability. Jeremiah felt he did not have any speaking ability. Lack of talent is an excuse often used by Christians for not doing what God thinks they can for Him. The truth is that God is not very concerned with our talent. God has all the talent we will need for any task, and is always more than wiling to loan it to us. What matters infinitely more to God is our obedience and faith that His strength is ours to claim.
Jeremiahís second excuse was inexperience. "...for I am a child," he says. God has made some of the most stirring examples to be found on the pages of our Bible of young people: David, Daniel, Samuel, and the young lad with the fishes and loaves, just to name a few.
God had an answer for each of Jeremiahís excuses. God said, "Before I formed thee in the belly, I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations." God knows us even before we are conceived. This is the principle of Godís design. If God has a job for you, He has a way of giving you what you need to accomplish it. That does not mean that He will eliminate your weaknesses and shortcomings, but He will compensate for them. God said to the apostle Paul, "...My grace is sufficient for thee: for My strength is made perfect in weakness." (II Corinthians 12:9a). David said, It is good for me that I have been afflicted; that I might learn they statutes." (Psalms 119:71). Do you suppose that Ros Chantranilh would have developed the flawless form he had if God had given him a muscular physique? He would not have needed to. His handicap is what made him great.
What is your shortcoming? Will you use it as an excuse for failure, or even worse, and excuse for not even trying? How unthinkable for a Christian! Paul said, "I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me." (Philippians 4:13). The key words here are "through Christ." If we focus on our own shortcomings when Godís great power is 100% available to us we are guilty of the greatest loss imaginable.
Godís answer to Jeremiahís second excuse if found in chapter 1, verse 7. God says, "...Say not I am a child: for thou shalt go to all that I shall send thee, and whatsoever I command thee thou shalt speak." God is underscoring here the priority of His Word. The lesson here for every Christian is that GODíS WORD IS SUFFICIENT FOR ALL OUR NEEDS. The Bible must take precedence over manís experience if we are to succeed in the challenges that will face us throughout our lives. Experience is anecdotal. The Bible is a book of principles.
The Game of Tennis
An interesting thing about the game of tennis is the striations found with respect to the levels of abilities. Most people who play the game are intermediate players. Most of them will always be intermediate tennis players. It seems to me from much observation that there is one particular reason for this. We could say that it is just desire that separates the adept from the mediocre performers on the courts, but I believe that we can be more specific than this. The great wall that tennis players come to is the difficulty they face in the developing an offensive backhand. (A backhand for a right-handed player would be hit on his left side.)
Most developing tennis players are content to use the backhand as a defensive tool. Their main concern with any ball hit on that side of the court is to keep it in playó just get it back over the net. The polished tennis player, on the other hand, has perfected his backhand into an offensive tool. This he has done by developing the ability to hit the ball sharply as the racket is rising while it moves forward. This forces the ball to spin as it moves toward his opponent. He has also learned to hit the ball hard and keep it low by modifying his grip on the racket. This means that the ball will come toward his opponent low and fast and will actually jump noticeably toward him as it hits the ground.
When I came to the point in my game of tennis that I was not content to remain on the intermediate plateau of vulnerability, exposed because of a week backhand, I set aside several says and went to a tennis club in San Diego to learn from the most consistent tennis player in town. I set myself against a ball machine in a practice alley and made a vow to myself that I would not quit until I had hit ten hard topspin backhands in a row. I set the machine and started practicing. After an afternoon of this, I had only reached five in a row, and the racket was falling out of my trembling hand as the shadows of later afternoon crept eastward across the alleys. I sat exhausted, my arm spent and my jug of water empty, but I made up my mind to keep at it.
I was back the next day, and the next day after that, and finallyó ten in a row! What a feeling! I couldnít wait for the next club tournament. I still remember it well. A fellow whom I had played often hit a hard forehand to my backhand. I swung back and came up with the racket to give it everything I had as he rushed to the net expecting the usual easy return. All the agony and toil in those practice alley was worth it if all it had ever produced was the look on my opponentís face as the ball came right at him so hard all he had time to do was duck.
For many Christians today, the life they lead is nothing but a series of reactions. They are content to stay even. Their goal is not to win, but to just keep from losing. The Bible says we are "more than conquerors," yet we live like victims. Some pastors believe that 20% or more of their people have chronic spiritual problems. The sad part of it is we do not have to live that way. We seem to think that the Devil is such a formidable challenger to our happiness that we need to sacrifice it to him any time he asks for it. The Bible has a guaranteed formula for fending off the Devil. We read in James 4:7, "Resist the devil and he will flee from you." This is exactly what Jesus did when Satan confronted Him after fasting for forty days in the wilderness. Jesus did not, as so many think, defeat Satan by quoting the Bible. Satan has no fear of that and even quotes it himself on occasion. It was the evidence of the inner commitment that Jesus had to the truths that sent the Devil away!
Satan preys on the weak Christian, just as the thief who makes his living stealing from the homes of others will pass by the home with strong locks and a good security system for the one down the street with a window open and the lights out. Satan always follows the path of the least resistance. Maybe that is why he is after you.
A good tennis player does his best to overcome his weaknesses and to compensate for those skills he has not mastered. He certainly does not come to his opponent and say,"Would you mind not hitting too much to my backhand? I donít have a very good one yet." Isnít this what we do when we advertise our fears? This is exactly what Job did when he expressed the fears he had that something would happen to his family. Job was a worrier. "Thus did Job continually," the Bible says in Job 1:5b, speaking of his constant fretting. Then, we read in chapter three, "For the thing which I greatly feared is come upon me, and that which I was afraid of is come unto me." (Job 3:25) Fear is an advertisement to Satan of your weaknesses. The wise Christian has learned the value of faith and works continually in his life to use it as a replacement for fear and worry. Donít be a hand-wringer.
God has given every believer a way to make up for his deficiencies. There is a beautiful outline in Ephesians chapter six that is meant to be a guide on how to wage war against Satan. The progression from a defensive stance to an offensive position is remarkable. God says, "Wherefore take unto you the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness: and your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace: Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God: Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit..." (Ephesians 6:13-18b)
We see here that truth is what prepares us for the battle and keeps us clear of obstacles as we fight, just as girding oneís loins kept the robe-type garments from getting in the way when fighting. Righteousness itself is our defense. This is akin to salvation, and keeps us from experiencing the reality of death just as a breastplate shields the warrior from deadly blows. God says that above all is the shield of faith. Then, comes the offensive weapon: the sword, which is the Word of God. This is the first mention of an offensive weapon in this passage. It is what allows us to now put the Devil on the defensive. Everything that God has ever done He has done through His Word. The best way to keep someone from attacking you is to attack him. This holds true of Satan also, although we must realize that it takes more than quoting the Bible to defeat the Devil. We must be committed to living it in order to have power over Satan! This is why quoting the Bible gave Jesus power over Satan in their encounter in the wilderness in Matthew chapter four.
Now lets be honest here: doesnít this kind of life seen to beat the defeated, whimpering life of most Christians? No believer has to live that wayó only those who choose to. I know of no yielded, witnessing, praying Christian whose life is a constant conflict in which he steadily loses ground to his sin nature. Most Christians who have been busy sharing with unbelievers the unsearchable riches of a salvation that guarantees an eternity in Heaven through faith in Jesus Christ are far too thankful for what they have to whine about their circumstances. What a great way to live is this life of ambassdorship for Jesus Christ, knowing beyond any imaginably doubt that what lives in you is that very essence of Life for which every living soul longs! How awesome that each born again Christian is personally charged by God Himself to communicate this"Good News" to a sin-sick world.
As Christians, the choice is ours: we can find excuses for failure, or we can stand up and look it in the eye and shout "NO!" at the top of our lungs. Now get yourself a jug of water and get into that practice alley . . . and keep hitting until you canít move your arm!