November Newsletter - Stephen's Finish Line
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Greetings from the Mally Family and Bright Lights staff!
Stephen’s Finish Line (By Grace)
A few weeks ago, my brother Stephen ran in a marathon. Our family drove to Des Moines to watch and cheer. By using a tracking app, we could see how many miles Stephen had run so far and where he currently was on the route. This techy tool enabled us to drive to different spots along the 26-mile route and cheer for Stephen as he ran by.
Throughout the morning, when I had free minutes here and there, I was reading 1 Corinthians. Just before arriving at our last stop to cheer (the finish line!) I was reading these words … “Now if anyone builds on this foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, each one’s work will become clear; for the Day will declare it, because it will be revealed by fire; and the fire will test each one’s work, of what sort it is. If anyone’s work which he has built on it endures, he will receive a reward. If anyone’s work is burned, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire” (1 Corinthians 3:12-15 NKJV).
As I approached Stephen’s finish line, I was impressed with how fancy it was—a big colorful gate. Runners were finishing their race one by one and receiving their medals. The announcers shared details about the athletes as they crossed the line: “Runner 2553 is from Minnesota, and this is her 3rd race this year…”
It made me think about our heavenly finish line, where new people are arriving each day and being greeted. There must be such an awesome excitement in the air. New arrivals are doubtless eager to tell stories of God’s faithfulness to them on the journey. Cheering, warm-hearted saints in heaven (“the great cloud of witnesses” – Hebrews 12:1) are likely just as eager to hear their stories and praise God!
I have not even run a 5k race, so I can’t speak from experience about finish lines—but I can only imagine the agony that some of the athletes in Stephen’s race must have felt at about the 25-mile mark. Everything in them was focused on ONE thing: the finish line.
I thought, Imagine a finish line with JESUS there.
There is so much emotion contained in this thought! Talk about motivation! Not only is the pain over, not only is the goal reached, but you’re in the presence of Jesus—the One you’ve longed to see for so long.
Now, when Hebrews 12:1-2 discusses the race of life, the instruction it gives us is not to “run faster,” but rather to endure. We are supposed to run with endurance, looking unto Jesus. (He set the example for us by enduring the cross. No trial we encounter compares to His!)
So how do we endure? Glancing back through the previous chapter (Hebrews 11), we read stories of men and women throughout the ages who endured great trials, and the secret to their endurance is given: faith.
As you know, enduring trials is a normal part of the Christian life; in fact, it seems that the Lord often gives Christians extra trials because they are so good for us. I guess each trial is kind of like the Lord bringing us to the gym to build more faith muscles. Although trials are unpleasant, we need to view them as valuable; because if endured properly, they will ultimately enhance the joy of the finish line.
So to summarize, faith helps us to endure trials, and trials build our faith. The result is that our strengthened faith enables us to run better, be purified, and ultimately bring Jesus more glory and honor on that Day. There’s a reason James tells us to count it all joy when we face trials (James 1:2)! Peter also reminds us, “In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials, that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 1:6-7 NKJV).
If trials are beneficial for the race, what are the things that are damaging? We’re told in Hebrews 12: the extra weights we accumulate, and the sin which clings so closely. It was about 40° F the day Stephen ran his marathon. The organizers of the race informed the runners in advance that if they wanted to wear a sweatshirt and throw it to the side sometime during the race, they’d collect them and donate them to a homeless shelter. A serious runner doesn’t want anything unnecessary—even a sweatshirt. It’s not worth it.
At mile 25 in Stephen’s marathon, with just one mile left to go and a hurting knee, he began to walk. But soon another runner approached him and said, “Hey, only three-quarters of a mile left. Let’s run to the end.” So the two of them ran the last section together. The kindness of this stranger provided the extra boost Stephen needed. In our heavenly race, we’re not running against each other, but with each other! Far from a competition, part of “winning” is helping others win! What better way to do this than to remind them of the soon-coming finish line and to run beside them? “Above all, keep fervent in your love for one another” (1 Peter 4:8).
Here’s a practical step of action. Pick one person in your life and pray some specific requests for them in the heavenly race:
- Pray that he or she will lay off weights that are a hindrance
- Pray that he or she will lay off the sin that clings so closely
- Pray that he or she will stop building with wood, hay, and stubble but be eternally minded.
- Share an encouraging word and point him or her to the finish line
“But exhort one another daily, while it is called ‘Today,’ lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin” (Hebrews 3:13 NKJV).
“The Lord GOD has given Me the tongue of the learned, that I should know how to speak a word in season to him who is weary. He awakens Me morning by morning, He awakens My ear to hear as the learned” (Isaiah 50:4 NKJV).
Testify Training Camp
This witnessing training camp was one of the highlights of the year for us as we saw about 60 men, women, and teens come to Des Moines for four days to share the gospel at the Iowa State Fair. Tony Ramsek and Tim Chaffey from Answers in Genesis both came as speakers, and the fellowship among everyone was wonderful. Each day, after a morning of training, we’d head over to the fair to put the training into action. At the fair, we’d simultaneously have some praying, some working the booth, and some sharing the gospel with people outside. We praised the Lord for many great gospel conversations and learning experiences. Several attendees mentioned that their favorite part was gathering each night to share stories of witnessing opportunities that day.
As we traveled to three locations in Mexico and ran conferences, we were glad to see the thirst for discipleship in both the young women and young men. As Sarah taught the Speak Truth in Your Heart Conference for the women, my dad taught Just Men conferences for the men. We enjoyed much good fellowship, gracious hospitality, delicious food, and even some tourist opportunities and evangelism outings. We were encouraged by many specific answers to prayer, and want to say a big thank you to any who were praying.
Homeschool and Bright Lights Conferences
The homeschool conferences in Peoria, IL, and Lancaster, PA, were encouraging times to connect with many homeschool families. We also held Bright Lights conferences in Cincinnati, OH, Detroit MI, and Dallas and Houston, TX over the summer and fall. We were grateful for each of these opportunities!
- 2018 Schedule
We would appreciate prayer for our 2018 schedule as we seek the Lord’s will regarding conferences, new resources, and other events and projects we would like to organize.
- Christmas Ministry
Pray for Christian families to use this season as a time to share the good news. There are open doors at Christmas like no other time of year. Pray that Christians would be zealous for good works, ministry minded, and bold in sharing Jesus Christ.
We are giving free media mail shipping on our online store from now until Christmas. Offer is good through December 25th, 2017. Use promo code: shipping2017 (Please note: this does not apply to International orders or orders placed using the Bright Lights Leaders Discount pricing.)
Online Resource of the Month
Grand Canyon: A Different View
This is a beautiful and interesting coffee table book. We have a quantity of slightly damaged (hardly noticeable) copies available for 50% off ($8.50 – normally $17). No promo code is necessary.
Was the Grand Canyon formed through a little water and a lot of time, or a lot of water and a little time? Does it point to millions of years or to a faithful Creator? Including many beautiful pictures and fascinating articles, this book gives you a different perspective of the Grand Canyon. Contributors: Duane Gish, Ken Ham, John MacArthur, Henry Morris, John Morris, Terry Mortenson, Gary Parker, John Whitcomb and others.
Here are some new resources we have enjoyed recently and want to highlight:
Having More Children who Follow Christ
Holly Elliff shares biblical truths God used to challenge her own heart in this area. She reveals the far-reaching impact of what happens when believers choose to have fewer children, or even not to have children at all. She also shares tips for raising godly children to help cultivate an environment that encourages spiritual growth and fosters tender hearts.
Becoming Mr. Right
A young man’s guide to God-honoring relationships. Michael Daniels provides a clear and helpful roadmap for young men as they pursue God’s ways, and seek to apply Scripture to important issues in life.
Scripture Memory Coloring Cards
An encouraging way to memorize and meditate on Scripture verses. These cards include a place to write the memory verse, decorations to color, and mini Scripture Studies on the back of each verse card. By the Thomsen sisters (Daughters of Decision.)
- Bridging the Gap Between You and Your Folks
Full of real life examples, stories, and creative ideas, this book will help young people know how to build a loving relationship with their parents. (By Patience Normoyle.)
God bless you and your families!
The Mally Family and Bright Lights Staff, Nickie Biegler, Bekah Hicks, Shelby Rathke, David Rodgers, Emily Selander, and Haley Skrnich
Tomorrow's Forefathers, Inc.
945 7th Ave
Marion, Iowa 52302
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