It’s Halftime – Finish Strong!

I remember well sitting at my Pastor’s home in Hawaii after church watching the Houston Oilers take on the Buffalo Bills in a wild card game on Sunday, January 3rd, 1993.  What an exciting first half!  My wife and I were on cloud nine, and feeling pretty good about our home town Oilers chances leading 28-3 at halftime.  Halftime was a very different atmosphere for those two teams and fans.  It didn’t look like much changed at the very early stages of the 3rd quarter when the Oilers extended the lead to 35-3, but things changed in a hurry.  Ultimately, the Bills won the game 41-38 in overtime.   It was very much a tale of two halves.

We can all take a lesson here. No matter how good or bad you perceive yourself to have performed to date, it isn’t about the past – it is about what are you doing to finish strong! As much as I dislike the Buffalo Bills, I want to be more like the Bills in the above scenario in how I finish.

As the South Texas Junior Leadership Development Academy Coordinator, I’ve witnessed many Junior Leadership Camps over the years. I see this dynamic play out time and time again as the patrols start to form.  One patrol always seems to scramble out the gate and get what seems to be an insurmountable lead.  At some point, this patrol takes their foot off the gas while another patrol gains focus which leads to acceleration past the quick start patrol.

In life, it is easy to get bogged down in our mistakes and pride from our successes.  The Bills made many mistakes in the first half.  If their focus stayed on the mistakes, it is a good chance the outcome would have been very different.  In the second half, the Oilers relaxed their focus after a mostly flawless first half, and became completely ineffective. Satan wants us focused on the one thing you did wrong, rather than the 9 things you did right.  It is easy to get caught up in our weaknesses, instead of our strengths.  Satan’s attacks helps lead to burnout and ineffectiveness in the ministry.  I’m sure we can all name several past strong Royal Ranger leaders who are no longer in any ministry or church.  We cannot lose focus!

Sunday morning, I went for a short run and prayer walk.  I found myself once again being attacked inside of myself about boys that have crossed my path as a leader in Royal Rangers that are currently no longer in my sphere of influence.  I was reminded of a situation in 2006, where a boy missed Camp-O-Rama for reasons I will not describe here.  I was not a strong enough a leader to provide greater influence over one of my staff who refused to relax on something that was overkill for a Camp-O-Rama atmosphere.  This resulted in putting a barrier in my effectiveness to reach the boy, or his father.

I’m reminded of another boy I observed in LORD’s Presence at the altar on a Wednesday night service at Junior Training in North Texas in 2005.  I was convinced God had grabbed his heart, but I underestimated the attack that would come.  He quit coming to church soon after.  A few years later, while serving as Youth Pastor, I received the call nobody ever wants to receive.  He was severely injured in an accident involving a firearm, and paralyzed from the neck down.  I was given the opportunity to pray for him and with the family.  I spent time with him over the next few months, and was requested by the family to be the speaker at his funeral.  I believe God gave him a second chance to get his heart right, which I’m grateful for.  I also wish I could have done a better job keeping him out of the environment that led to that situation.

The enemy continually reminds me of the fact I have coached and mentored 9 boys to GMA, and none are currently serving in Royal Rangers.  Some are in church, and some are actively involved in the ministry.  I’m cool with that, because it isn’t my job to assign a calling.  Some are no longer even in church, which hurts the most.  I understand my success is to plant and water seeds, but it still weighs heavy on my heart.

1 Corinthians 3:6, KJV: “I have planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase.” 

As I walked across the threshold into my home, I felt the LORD impress on me in a personal way I would understand:  “Frank, you feel like you are down 9 – 0, but this is only halftime.  It is time to replenish, and refocus – I have plans for you to make a big impact in the 3rd quarter, and finish strong in the 4th quarter!”  It was one of those God moments for me, and took a burden off my heart.

I find myself in a half time transition this year, like many others as we navigate this strange 2020 season.  I have recommitted myself to my journey in Royal Rangers to grow, so I can reach more men and boys more effectively than ever.  I recently completed Training Academy, and I am looking forward to National Academy and Wilderness this year.  It isn’t about checking off boxes.  I do not want to rest on my past successes or failures, but instead seek to grow more with God so I can be a better leader to anyone God puts in my path.

Matthew 6:33, KJV “But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.”

I am trusting God to grow, and looking forward to a strong finish!  Praying and trusting God for the increase in all the boys, and leaders, where seeds were planted or watered over the years.

As Karate Man would say:  It is time to “Focus, Focus, Focus!”

Who is READY to join me?