Guts and Glory

Confession: I’m not a fan of all things Southern, as in the Southern states in these United States.  Southern heat and humidity; cuisine preferences that include grits, okra, and collard greens; and overweight, middle-aged men with word pronunciations that sound uneducated to these Midwestern ears— these are some of my less than desirable stereotypes of the American South.   (I do appreciate elements of our Southern cousins’ culture, so don’t feel constrained to sing the South’s praises for my benefit.)

With that said, I was simply blown away and encouraged by watching a video featuring overweight, middle-aged white men with uneducated sounding pronunciations (who otherwise tend to be very well educated) as they recounted God’s dealings in leading a portion of the Church of Jesus Christ back to fruitful faithfulness from the brink of inconsequence.  I’m referring to a video highlighting the return of the Southern Baptist Seminary to biblical faithfulness and historic fruitfulness under Al Mohler’s leadership.  I hope you’ll watch it.

We live in a day when heroes appear more rare than vinyl records or faithful marriages, or, if you’re a poetry fan, than “day’s in June.”  Our age is tarnished and we’re jaded.  How much more brightly do the heroes  appear who streak through the gray skies of our existence?

Al Mohler

Al Mohler

I realize as I look at my own life how much and how often it’s affected and influenced by the light of stars like Mohler and the gravitational affect they have in pulling me toward Christ.  The affects of such passings may appear minor at the moment of such a sighting, but a minor course change over a long period of time affects a major change in eventual destination.

My forward trajectory, my hopes, the way I assess life, or even interact with others is affected by one sermon, one conversation, and one book and blog after another. These speakers, authors, mentors, and friends who have chosen to have a cause and make it known help me define my cause and have the courage to stand for it. How refreshing and how reinvigorating to hear someone say they really believe in something; they really have a standard; they really aspire to something and Someone higher and greater than themselves.  In a world filled with broken promises, broken vows, and moral mediocrity, it’s absolutely inspiring to see a few Daniels stand in the courts of culture and academia and say they really do believe in a Book and a Savior that appear so backward and uncouth in our avant garde age.

Another thing I admire about the stand of Mohler and others like him is that their courage doesn’t require rudeness and their convictions don’t mean they resort to name calling.  In in their disagreements they aren’t unnecessarily disagreeable.  Conviction and courtesy aren’t mutually exclusive.  To be winsome is often as important as being wise; my stars are both as often as situations allow.

I know Al Mohler and all my other spiritual heroes ultimately have feet of clay;  like me they have areas of personal fault and failings.  I know Mohler’s gifts and strengths are ultimately not self made, but gifts from God to use and steward (1 Corinthians 4:7).  That makes heroes’ lives all the more remarkable— what defines them is not the smallness of their faults but the largeness of their mission and the consistency of their aspirations.

Shooting stars don’t try to be such— they just are. By virtue of their decision to be courageous and faithful and consistent, they can’t help but be.  They can no more hide their light than the sun can stop burning up its fiery fuel.  Don’t aspire to be a star— aspire to be honest, and to

Shooting Star
Shooting Star

be faithful and to be good and to be consistent in the same God honoring direction over the long haul, and others will see your light.  You won’t be able to hide it.

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