Where does the True Gold lie?

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Were you an avid watcher of the Sochi Olympics? If so, what were your thoughts about the games? Did you find this year’s Winter Olympics the best and most exciting thus far? I personally wasn’t an avid viewer of this year’s Olympics, but I did pitch in to some of the games and rooted strongly for the teams I supported. Otherwise, the only contact I had with the Sochi Olympics was through scrolling down my social media platforms and reading the titles of articles popping up on my newsfeed.

The final closing of the Sochi Olympics ended with the thundering spectacle of Russia’s glorious history. It boasted its national pride. It celebrated the champions, and congratulated the participants in a final boom. Furthermore, with the closing of the ceremony, the game has left athletes with either gold, silver, bronze, or other less precious medals. That also means that it has closed its curtains with fans either praising their country’s athletes and teams, or patting their players on the back and thanking them for their great sportsmanship.

Whatever the case, I think there is no better way to understand the value of the gold medal as demonstrated through the Olympics. For many of us, success or at least the sound of success (the one that sounds like a boom of explosion, with firecrackers bursting in the night sky, sparkling show lights, and the sound of cheers… I would imagine) comes in rather an ironic silence. It may come like a thief, silently and without being seen or heard, perhaps when you are busy maintaining that successful status. Yet, in an arena resembling a coliseum of people cheering and hooting for players who have waited and trained diligently for four years, success is visible and it is on the spot.

It’s going to be hard to argue that gold doesn’t matter. Most athletes that participate in the Olympics are there to win gold, even if they know they won’t be the ones going home with that medal hanging on their neck. But when these athletes are training, they envision that moment of standing on the highest podium, smiling and making their country proud.

But there is something interesting when each game ends. When their country’s team does not win, but their players have demonstrated exceptional sportsmanship and hard work, the often said words are: “It’s not about the Gold.”

But, does gold matter?

It probably does, doesn’t it. If it’s not about the gold, then what is all the hard work about? If the dream you envision, the one that was about that shining gold around your neck, doesn’t come true, was that a dream not worth having dreamt in the first place?

But, is it all about the gold?

The answer is no.

No, because even though gold does matter, it isn’t everything. No, because even if one’s goal was to achieve that gold medal, they have earned something exquisitely profound and invaluable that a gold medal would not have given. No, because even if the winners say that the world only remembers the ones that win the gold, people are moved by those who have a golden heart and shine because of their genuine hard work and a battle won against their limits.

Apply that gold medal to the silent victory in our everyday lives, among the people who don’t have the arena to hear the applause that they deserve. What does it mean to be the first and the best at what you do? And more importantly, how does the Bible teach us to understand success. Does it only prize the first and the best in class?

The Bible defines success in many ways, but one way it doesn’t is: one big bang with explosions in the air and a thrilling round of applause.

Rather, much like the response of many people all over the world who congratulated the Olympic players for their participation, hard work, and genuine sportsmanship, the Bible too resonates a message similar: “It’s not about the Gold”. There is something more, something more valuable.

It is the good well-played game, the fair play, the hard work and the payoff of it all. It is the thanking of the people who believed in the players who at times wanted to give up. It is the competing against the odds, playing in advantageous and even in disadvantageous situations. It is creating, for the next generation, a story of a person who had to beat all odds to make it to where they have. It is the lesson of challenging and trusting.

Though we don’t have every four years to test how much we have come, or the chance to visibly see and feel a glimpse of the so-called success, we go through a similar journey everyday. How much are we participating in this life? How fair are our fruits of success? Have we earned them with honesty and hard work? Did we put our complete trust in God with all that we do, so that even through our success and failure, we never forget why we do what we do? And have we remained steady in our faith, not losing hope in God every time we stumble on an obstacle?

Sochi is over, but not our game of life. Our gold medal lies not in the worldly signs of success but further:
“For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” (Matthew 6:32-33)

What does it take to become an Achiever?

In statistics, normal distribution is an important phenomena applied to many real-life situations in the field of natural and social sciences. The feature of the normal distribution is that it is symmetrical in shape about its mean, which is well-known as a “bell curve.”

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The peak in the bell curve represents the mean (average) of the population, but in simple terms it is the highest number of occurrences of values, which is the mode. The important thing we have to notice is that the curve is concentrated in the center and decreases on either side. This is significant in that the data has less tendency to produce extreme values, called “outliers,” as compared to the values fall under the peak in the middle. Most individuals in a population fall under this region of the bell curve and standard deviation lets scientists estimate the extent of the deviation from the mean. In a normally distributed curve, there is a relationship between the population mean (µ) and the standard deviation as follow;

  • 34.13% of the area under the curve is contained between the mean and a score that is equal to µ + 1σ.
  • 13.59% of the area is contained between a score equal to µ + 1σ and a score of µ + 2σ.
  • 2.15% of the area is contained between scores of µ + 2σ and µ + 3σ.
  • 0.13% of the area exists beyond µ + 3σ.

If you add up all these values above, this accounts for 50% of the area and another 50% accounts for the area that is in opposite side of the bell curve (since it’s symmetrical in shape). The term “outlier” is a phenomena that is numerically distant from the mean and it is believed to occur due to either of measurement error or experiment error.

However, the outliers are those who succeed in the real world and one may think that only a few selected individuals can succeed in their fields while rests fall under the “peak” of the bell curve. However, the Bible says nothing is impossible when we do all to the glory of God. Let’s look at some verses from the Bible.

1 Corinthians 10:31: Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.

Mark 9:23: Jesus said unto him, If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth.

Philippians 4:13: I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.

Philippians 2:13: For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.

1 Corinthians 10:13: There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.

Believe that you can succeed your life with the power of prayer! If you do everything in your life for the glory of God, He will show you the path and also make a way to escape if you may not be able to bear it.

T.S.

References:

http://www.concordspedpac.org/Bell-curve-ss.htm

The Heart of Many Thank-you’s

If you were lucky to have amazing parents, friends, and/or teachers, you probably grew up with a lot of advices about how to live life. But one that stands most common among family and friends is this very advice: Be thankful.

Now, if you grew up in a Christian surrounding, you probably heard the same thing but with a little bit of variation. “Thank God for everything in your life.”

You hear it so much, sometimes it goes to the back of your head and God knows when you even remember to properly thank God for everything. But then, there are moments you come to this enlightenment, this realization that truly everything in your life was given by God, all the good and the bad, and you cannot believe how amazing God is and how much He has worked within your life.

People, both big and small, talk about “ways to be happy”. Oh sure, there are plenty of ways. But underneath the joy of happiness, you find that gratitude lies as the strongest foundation of them all. When your heart begins to look at the world and your life with thankful eyes, you understand through thick and thin that everything will not only be “okay” but “great”. You find that the reason you can be joyous of your life is because God is in you, and He is working both night and day, whether we are there to know it or not, to lead your life to His will.

Now, if you are a grumpy old soul reading this post, all these words of gratitude may make your eyes more frown-y, your shoulders more slump-y, and you can’t find what there is to be thankful of! A grumpy soul finds the smiles of a joyous person so distasteful, and quite understandably so. But remember that gratitude does NOT come only when you have fortunate events in your life. No, gratitude is something truly deeper than that. It begins with knowing who you are. It begins with the humble journey of discovering how small and weak you are. When you can see clearly the being that you are, then you begin to see this hovering light of Holiness and Grace above you, so far up in the heavens. You learn through the Words and through the sermons at Church that this Holy Light hovers with grace above the clouds in your life. You learn that the Almighty Christ loves you, that God sent his Beloved Son into this sinful world, to save you and me from death and evil.

You see the shackles that constantly tries to chain you. You see the darkness of the soul seeping into every hole your heart creates. Any emptiness is quickly filled with evil thoughts. You cannot deny this soul we have is evil.

And yet there is but one hope in life. It is the hope of Christ. It is the hope of salvation. Though the toils of man without God is left in the dirt, the work of man in accordance to God’s will is of the heaven’s glory!

Let me share with you a few Bible verses:

Psalms 118:24 – This is the day which the LORD hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it.

Colossians 3:17 – And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him.

Psalms 127:1 – (A Song of degrees for Solomon.) Except the LORD build the house, they labour in vain that build it: except the LORD keep the city, the watchman waketh but in vain.

Ephesians 1:16 – Cease not to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers;

1 Thessalonians 5:18 – In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.

Colossians 3:15 – And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful.

James 1:17 – Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.

Hebrews 12:28 – Wherefore we receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved, let us have grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear:

Colossians 3:15-20 – And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful.

Romans 8:28 – And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to [his] purpose.

Psalms 107:1 – O give thanks unto the LORD, for [he is] good: for his mercy endureth for ever.

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These are but the very few. His words are of rejoice! Let us find gratitude in our hearts, find light in darkness, and seek with prayer and passion that once the Light has been given to us, that we do not let anything take it away.

The Sphere of Influence

In our third video, we discussed one of the critical points of TAC’s philosophy about success. It was about how people use their sphere of influence to make a difference in the world. The core message was to awake Christians to strive to create a better Christian community and to help become role models for the future generations.

We have discussed some famous celebrities in the secular world to make that point. We discussed about subcultures becoming a widely accepted community, of celebrities working to break stereotypes, and even about great businessmen who have worked to recreate a system of a country.

To expand on a few of them, I want to begin with a rather controversial topic for us in the Christian community. It was about gay rights, discussed in and through the light of Ellen DeGenerous, a popular talk-show host and entertainer, who openly said she was gay and would work to fight for gay rights. We mentioned her because she is a good example of secularists who use their talents and sphere of influence to make a difference in the world, but more, to recreate stereotypes built negatively around the identity she has and shares with so many others. She uses her power to build acceptance and pride for gay people. Her community is widening, as she brings in top celebrities to her show to have them speak up for what they each believe in.

The discussion about gay rights was not to support it. It was placed on the table for an objective talk about the fact of the matter, and use it as an example of how passionately even secularists work to redefine stereotypes and build a better a community for their identities.

The point of the matter is this: What are Christians doing for the Christian community? How are we helping our brothers and sisters, and do we use our sphere of influence to bring together a network of successful people who will do that passionate work for God and His people?

It is in part, a call out for Christians all over the world. Even they fight for their communities, but we, do we fight enough for Christ?

Because TAC’s mission is the “reform the Christian image” our focus is calling upon Christians to rise and change the world for Christ by using the sphere of influence that Christ has each given us, according to our appropriate designations.

That is what we hoped to achieve in this video.

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