Cal Jernigan – Senior Pastor
Yesterday morning several of us from Central attended the Governor’s Prayer Breakfast in downtown Phoenix. This was the first of these Governor Ducey has hosted since becoming Governor of Arizona. This is quite a gathering of politicians, business and faith leaders, as well as many others who are deeply interested in the direction our state is heading. Having gatherings that are dedicated to prayer are obviously a good thing. Governor Ducey shared his convictions with us regarding his desire to rely upon prayer to hear from God. He clearly stated we need to be a people of prayer and trust and rely upon God every day. Hard to disagree with that.
Part of what made the morning so interesting and enjoyable was the presence of two football players. One is a current player, the other a former player. The former player was none other than Ron Wolfley. You probably know Ron for both his unique voice and his quick wit as a play by play announcer for the Cardinals, but he also co-hosts a regular morning radio show. He is a former Cardinal himself. This guy is outspoken, spontaneous and ridiculously funny. He was the MC for the morning and he kept the place laughing with his off the wall witticisms. There are two things I love about this guy: 1) he is who he is, wherever he is. He doesn’t change with the crowd he is with. And 2) he is a believer who isn’t afraid to tell you so. He attends a church in Scottsdale and his pastor is a good friend of mine. He assures me that he’s the real deal.
The second athlete is one who is still in the game. He was none other than Carson Palmer. Carson is the current starting quarterback of the Cardinals. He has a reputation for being a tough guy. Injured most of last season, the Cardinals success went as he went. When he was healthy they won; when he was hurt, they lost. That’s a powerful indication of what kind of a player he is. What I didn’t know until today is that he is a believer. Really.
Carson shared with us a bit of his upbringing. Let’s just say that he was a reluctant church goer in his younger days (can you relate?). His parents made sure he attended church, yet Carson did his best to make sure that he didn’t let the message influence him. Through high school and college at USC, he was confident he didn’t need the Lord. And then one day he realized he did. Like the rest of us, he had to be given some space to allow his faith to breathe. To develop. To mature. It did.
Against this backdrop he made a confession to us. This was something he was certainly up to making but one that he clearly wished he didn’t have to. When it came to his faith, he told us he hasn’t been very tough. Well, more specifically when it comes to sharing his faith with others. Not tough at all. He told us how he developed a pattern of making excuses as to why he couldn’t get it done. He didn’t know enough, didn’t want to appear foolish, he wasn’t a pastor, etc. … sound familiar? What was most moving about what he said is that he was done with these excuses and he was sick and tired of being afraid. Not words you expect to hear from a guy who gets crushed by NFL linebackers for a living.
This was the moment it dawned on me. It really doesn’t matter who you are, what you do, or how tough you think you are (or how tough others think you are). When it comes to sharing your faith, you just have to decide to do it. You have to make up our mind you are tough enough. The sooner you get around to deciding you can be tough… the sooner you become it. You actually become tough by deciding you are.
My question to us is simply this…how long will we allow our fears to be tougher than we are? How long will we be intimidated and withdrawn? How long will we allow Satan to punch us around? How long will we be timid and weak? When will we say, “Enough!?”
It will happen only when we decide to take our eyes off ourselves and put them on God. It will happen only when we are fixated on him and his strength and power. This is what changes everything. This is what empowers us!
God said to Joshua, “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” (Joshua 1:9)
Who will you share your faith with today? Fix your thoughts on God and your fears will diminish in comparison. Today is a great day to GET TOUGH!