Don’t underestimate the heart of a Champion

When people say that you're going, goneWhen forever roads goes on and onThere's a Rock you can rest uponHe whispers, -Don't underestimate the heart of a champion-

You’ve had enough.

Mistake after mistake. You’re in the wrong job. In a wrong relationship. In financial difficulties. A dysfunctional family. Some of it your fault, some of them the fault of others.

It’s been years. You started well but how did you end up here?

This is not the life of a King. Where’s the victory?

Friend, I’ve been in that Abyss. Did you know my story? Incurable sickness. Sores all over my body. Wiped out career. Very misunderstood. A fracture between friends. Decade long wastage. No empathy from where I thought I would get it.

Yet today, no one would have known I had gone through all those things, unless you recognized my heart that bear the scars of healed wounds through a transformative Savior. A heart that bears the marks of a Lion and a Lamb. The strength in gentleness. This can only come through transformation in adversity, where the dead become alive in Christ.

It is from this experience that I want you to know three things as you are stumbling through the middle of the journey. The middle which is the darkness part of your journey.

“We had nonbelievers all along the way, and I have one thing to say to those nonbelievers: Don’t ever underestimate the heart of a champion!”
Rudy Tomjanovich, head coach of the 1995 Houston Rockets, after the  improbable NBA Finals run in 1995

“Don’t ever underestimate the heart of a champion” was made famous be Rudy T, head coach of the 1995 Houston Rockets that made an improbable run to the NBA championship. The only team that started as a fifth seed in the playoffs and beat arguably the best 4 teams that season, even sweeping the finals. Needless to say, commentators didn’t give them much of a chance. What does that have to do with you? For the child of God, much much more. Three thoughts I would like to share with you.

First, think back when you first discovered the powerful, loving God; when you first understood and felt the heart of Jesus. Your experience of Jesus wasn’t just isolated to the emotional or metaphysical. I am positive there were answered prayers. You saw in tangible ways the miracles in your life. You saw the type of “co-incidences” that were so perfect that you knew someone wise, and perfect in his understanding of you, orchestrated it in perfect love. He saved (Sozo – Greek) you. He rearranged events around you. There were breakthroughs in life and relationships.

When David faced the giant, Goliath, he remembered that

When a lion or a bear came to steal a lamb from the flock, He would go after it with a club and rescue the lamb from its mouth. If the animal turned on him, he will catch it by the jaw and club it to death.” David then said “I have done this to both lions and bears, and I’ll do it to this pagan Philistine, too, for he has defied the armies of the living God! The LORD who rescued me from the claws of the lion and the bear will rescue me from this Philistine!”  (‭1 Samuel‬ ‭17‬:‭34-37‬ )

Thought 1: He did it before, He can do it again.

Second, this darkness feels like forever because the biggest challenges of life are ones that have no obvious solution. It seems you aren’t getting anywhere even as you take step-by-step. Seems like it’s one step forward, two steps back? Jacob A. Riis, a journalist and photographer said, “Look at a stone cutter hammering away at his rock, perhaps a hundred times without as much as a crack showing in it. Yet at the hundred-and-first blow it will split in two, and I know it was not the last blow that did it, but all that had gone before.” The Pilgrims’ Progress is similar. Or, if you please, your journey of kingship has this characteristic.

After David beat Goliath, he should have been king… he wasn’t. He was then exiled. He survived, but still far from being a king. He was being hunted by Saul, and David survived Saul. He also passed the test of not treating Saul the way Saul treated him. The journey was arduous. There were so many trials that David had overcome, and every single one until the last one did not lead him to be king. David could not know which would be the last one, he could only continue to do what would please God. Imagine if he gave up right before the last trial?

Thought 2: Don’t give up. You are closer than you think.

Lastly, most of the world would interpret the last line of the prologue, “Don’t underestimate the heart of a champion” as your heart. Today, the world is filled with unjustified ego born from a relativistic postmodernist world. “You make your own luck”, “You make your own meaning”, “nothing can stop you from your dream except you” – we’ve heard it all. I find it vapid. If everyone can find meaning by defining our own meaning, then that meaning is probably not meaningful. Is the softball team that came in last a champion because the school’s policy is to give everyone a trophy for participating? The mind can only deceive itself for so long.

For the Christian, the “heart of a Champion” has deeper multiple meanings. Yes, you are indeed a champion with a champion’s potential. But you can’t get there by sheer will without losing your soul in the process. For the Christian, as you progress into your GPS-led journey you are slowly transformed more and more into a champion,  but it is the Champions heart (Jesus) that gets you there. Pop new-age psychology and many other religions would have stopped at you. I love Christianity because I find it thoroughly unique – you are actively in the process of being saved on earth because of your choice and His merit. The Bible says, “being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” (Phil 1:6)

You are actively in the process of being saved on earth because of your choice and His merit.

Your choice initiates the journey, His merit guarantees the perfect outcome. After each outcome starts a new journey. The summation of journeys ends up with full transformation of your being, and you fulfilling your potential on Earth. To be peacemakers between people and God, and to exercise love and authority in the world. God will imbibe you with every good thing to achieve this. Within this journey will be supply, prosperity, maturity and service.

When you trusted in Him years ago, you did grow. More accurately, you became a new creation. In that moment, you have seen what the real Jesus looked like, and you had an influential image to be transformed into. The template of your heart and destiny had changed at the same time. You had imprints of a champion in you, with champion-like dreams. The outline of that heart is fixed like a template. Experience in God-world interactions is what will fill that template up into maturity and fullness of form. In Christian jargon, we call that “sanctification”.

We are saved “sozo” (Greek) not just because of our actions/effects, although God does use our actions in a feedback loop that transform us and move us to where we need to be. God can’t use a parked car. As you make active decisions because of spirit-filled inclinations, we get closer to the place we need to be but we are also transformed. The transformation increases our inclination for better future decisions. A virtuous cycle, rarely found in this fallen world. But the the certainty of getting there is not based on our own champion heart. It’s based on THE Champion’s heart. He persevered when no man could. He loved when no man could. He sacrificed where no man could, so that we could have grace, blessing and victory. There will be redemption for us on this earth, not just in heaven; His heart will get us there.

The Psalmist says,  

I would have despaired unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the Lord
In the land of the living.
Wait for the Lord;
Be strong and let your heart take courage;
Yes, wait for the Lord.
(Psalm 27:13-14)

You are still a Christian today despite years of darkness and dissonant adversity because you sprouted a heart of a Champion a long time ago. When you truly believed in Christ, your nature and destiny changed. But your dark days are temporary not because of your own champion-shaped heart (although it helps) but of the other Champion’s heart. The world can only rely on their own hearts. This is a precarious risk as we are so prone to failure. We ultimately rely on His heart to get us to the correct destination and fulfillment of our identity.

Thought 3: Don’t ever doubt the heart of a champion.

These 3 thoughts have tremendously helped my journey to redemption and they are still helping me today. It seemed like just last week that I was in isolation and intense pain, with no hope to have any sort of normal life. Today, took a moment to breath in the changes. I’m a successful business analyst, money manager, and friend to my friends. People ask me for advice, and I help the poor. I’m finally understanding a little more what it is like to be a king and a priest, but I am still internalizing these 3 thoughts to keep growing. May it help you too. To recap:

Thought 1: He did it before, He can do it again.

Thought 2: Don’t give up. You are closer than you think.

Thought 3: Don’t ever doubt the heart of a champion.

Jesus is the Champion, and in the process, we grow into our Championship heart.

With love,
Ken

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Epilogue:
Will the Champion close the distance even when we are weak.
Doors slam shut, it doesn’t add up, rinse, repeat
Will He betray me? Save me? Death or life behind the door?
Is he my Coroner? Promise Land Ambassador? Or?
Can’t be both, it’s either or.
The lions roar, He catches by the jaw
He saw the mess I made,  doors I’d take
Still died for me, to show I’m worth fighting for
So use my doubt,  build this house
I won’t be lost, He ensures the reroute
So if doors are shut, and windows boarded up
My cup still overflows, the flow shows the way out.

 

 


Notes on Sozo

God’s saving grace, “Sozo”, gets you there. In the NAS New Testament Greek Lexicon, two of Sozo’s definitions are “to deliver from the penalties of the Messianic judgment” and “to save from the evils which obstruct the reception of the Messianic deliverance”.

Sozo is an active continuous word. It happened then, but is it also happening now. Sozo is more than just a method to go to heaven after you physically die. Sozo is the saving force that is also actively working to get you to your Shalom, or your place of rest in this earth.

Remember, the woman with the issue of blood that was healed in Mark 5:24? Where it says, “your faith has made you well“? The actual Greek text for made well is sozo.

In addition, we are saved not be our own faith by the faith of Jesus – not our own heart, His heart. For example, in Mark 11:22, Jesus says, “Have faith in God.” But the footnote states that the original meaning is, “Have the faith of God.”

For it is by grace you have been saved (sozo) through faith (of Christ), and this is not from yourselves; it is the gift of God (Eph 2:8)

3 thoughts on “Don’t underestimate the heart of a Champion

  1. Thx for the post.
    It’s a timely word for me as I’m struggling with some health issues currently as well. Love your description of the stone cutter: When nothing seems to be happening on the surface then suddenly a breakthrough. I want to believe this for myself too.

    Thanks, have been encouraged by your writing.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thx for the post.
    It’s a timely word for me as I’m struggling with some health issues currently as well. Love your description of the stone cutter: When nothing seems to be happening on the surface then suddenly a breakthrough. I want to believe this for myself too.

    Thanks, have been encouraged by your writing.

    Liked by 1 person

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