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KEEPING THE FAITH | How to get into the game

At times we may feel totally inadequate or unsuited for an assignment. Let me be very honest and transparent: I was horrible in sports as a child. I dreaded it in all forms, especially football. My lack of athletic prowess was evident.
The Rev. Lewis W. Macklin

At times we may feel totally inadequate or unsuited for an assignment. 

Let me be very honest and transparent: I was horrible in sports as a child. I dreaded it in all forms, especially football. My lack of athletic prowess was evident.  

Bearing the public humiliation of always being the last one picked to play on a team simply fed into my personal disdain for competitive sports. I was the ebony version of Funky Winkerbean's friend Les in gym class! 

Fast-forward to four decades later: I was blessed to be suited up and traveling with the Youngstown State University Football team as the team chaplain and life coach! Who would have imagined? Certainly not me! This is a case where your gift and not your talent made room for itself! I was blessed and privileged to encourage the young players on and off the field. 

Then Coach Eric Wolford reasoned my lack of knowledge for the game was balanced with my genuine concern for members of the team. I truly had no idea if the person was the captain or otherwise. I was able to focus on the needs of the individual. Even today, former players can evoke a broad smile from me when they call out to me as “Coach Macklin!”

So take heart, if you have ever felt defeated before you even got in the game — hold your head up and PRESS on! In the spirit of excellence, allow what you have been called to do to become a redemptive experience! Sometimes you just have to suit up and get in the game.

The Laws of eMotion

Sir Isaac Newton's penned the three laws of motion that govern how the motion of physical objects changes. While Newton was using these concepts of motion in science, I can see application when looking at our emotional responses to situations. How we respond or react emotionally often influences the outcome of our experiences. Our emotions — whether positive or negative — are forms of energy.

First Rule: An object will remain at rest or in a uniform state of motion unless that state is changed by an external force. 

Second Rule: Force is equal to the change in momentum over time. In essence, the rate of change is directly proportional to the amount of force applied. Whew, there are some sermon nuggets that can be mined from this thought! 

Third Rule: For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. 

While the other rules have spiritual implications, I want to expound upon this third concept with several responses to encourage you in situations you may encounter.

• When your circumstances attempt to steal your happiness, refer to James 1:2: “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds.” This is a verse you might find to be peculiar to process. Why should we be joyful when we experience trials? It’s contrary to our natural reaction. Joy during hard times is difficult, but with God all things are possible. 

Matthew 8:23-26 gives an account of The Master calming the stormy gales on the Sea of Galilee. Jesus got into the boat and started across the lake with his disciples. Suddenly, a fierce storm struck the lake, with waves breaking into the boat. However, Jesus was sleeping. The disciples went and woke him up, shouting, “Lord, save us! We’re going to drown!” Jesus responded, “Why are you afraid? You have so little faith!” Then he got up and rebuked the wind and waves, and suddenly there was a great calm.

When we are close to God, it’s possible to have peace and joy when it seems like the ship is about to go down. Trust Him to be your Lifesaver.

• When you’re uncertain about what the future holds, consider Psalm 112:7: “They will have no fear of bad news; their hearts are steadfast, trusting in the Lord.”  -

If we have joy through the storms, we’re probably not worrying too much about what’s to come. If we fear bad news, we’re worrying about things that haven’t even happened yet. We can trust in The Father to carry us through what is to come. 

• When you can’t focus on today, ponder the thoughts of Matthew 6:34: “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” 

When you focus only on what’s ahead, you can’t see or deal with the problems of today. We recently purchased a cabinet that required assembly. The instructions had a series of directions to complete the task. We could not skip steps and proceed to the end. We had to start at the beginning with the first step and proceed on to the next. Our walk with God is akin to this process — one step at a time

• When you don’t have any energy left and are very much exhausted, refer to Philippians 4:13: “I can do all this through Him who gives me strength.” -

Running on fumes? It’s important to keep this text in mind and on your heart to be rejuvenated. When you’re out of strength and energy, there is good news for you: When we’re at our weakest, He’s at His strongest Allow God to increase your strength!

• When you don’t know how to handle your anxiety, read Philippians 4:6-7: “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” 

The first sentence commands us to present our needs to God. But the second verse comes with an amazing promise: We’ll receive the peace of God, “which transcends all understanding.” 

May his memory be a blessing  

David Yonggi Cho, a South Korean Christian minister, recently entered the Church Triumphant. He once notably remarked, “Dying is easy, living is hard. It takes no faith to die, it takes a lot of faith to live.”

He was the co-founder of the Yoido Full Gospel Church of the Assemblies of God, which was acknowledged once as the world's largest congregation, with a membership in excess of 800,000. Dr. Cho also founded Church Growth International, which was dedicated to teaching the principles of evangelism and church growth to pastors. 

His empowering messages will continue to radiate God’s truth reminding us, “Faith and doubt will always exist together. Believing is choosing faith over doubt.”

Happy Birthday

Dorothy, my “Ride and Live” companion is celebrating her birthday this weekend. I often note that she is my partner in marriage and ministry. Her name “Dorothy” means “Gift from/of God!” and she truly embraces her moniker in every sense of its meaning. 

It has been said, “Behind every good man is a good woman.” However, great men like Martin Luther King Jr., Malcolm X, Franklin D. Roosevelt and Barack Obama were blessed with great women beside them. Coretta, Betty, Eleanor and Michelle displayed quiet and sometimes not-so-quiet strength enabling these men to aspire to new heights. I do not consider myself an equal to these men, however, I am readily poised with a wonderful woman beside me who makes ministry meaningful and manageable. 

Her smile, honesty and forthright directness is disarming and often misread. I was blessed to support her quest as a non-traditional student to graduate several times from Youngstown State University while working and raising a family. She has wisdom, grace and beauty which complements her nature as a fierce protector and defender of her family. In truth, one would fare better bear hunting with a switch than to attack her family. Happy Birthday to the best gift God has given me! Her love and God’s grace allow me to keep the faith!  

The Rev. Lewis W. Macklin II serves as the lead pastor of Holy Trinity Missionary Baptist Church, chaplain for the Youngstown Police Department, president of the Baptist Pastors Council and the local coordinator for the African American Male Wellness Walk of the Mahoning Valley. He resides in Youngstown with Dorothy, his partner in marriage and ministry. They share the love and joy of six children and seven grandchildren and their mischievous canine, Sir Winston.

— All biblical citations are New Living Translation unless noted otherwise.

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