Finishing Strong

“Finish strong” is not a grammatically correct expression, but it is one so often used, especially in the sports world. You and I can easily imagine a football coach at half time passionately appealing to his players to go out in finish the game in a strong way.

The players are tired, beat up and maybe even emotionally spent, but the challenge is to reach down deep in their inner being and give their very best. On many occasions, such appeals have been difference makers in the outcome of a big game. Some of us have experienced that firsthand.

I do not pretend to be a football coach, but I do believe this “sports experience” translates into our everyday lives, most notably in our Christian lives. There are times when we have seemingly given our all and we feel spent, emotionally, physically and even spiritually. At this point, a challenge to “finish strong” is most needed. It is when we are at our weakest that we remember our Lord’s strength. Perhaps the Apostle Paul’s declaration, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” is the spirit of our “finish strong” challenge.
No one can doubt that this has been a traumatically tough year for our state. The historic and horrific day of April 27 has been well documented by numerous sources. Our recent convention highlighted the “beyond the call of duty”-type sacrifices made by so many during these months since that memorable day. Much is left for us to do in long-term recovery efforts, and we will do our best to be up to the task.

To finish in a strong way means more to me now than ever before. So much so, I have been praying that our churches will finish this eventful year in the strongest way for our Lord. I pray will reach more people with the Gospel in the next few weeks than in any Christmas season in memory. We can preach Jesus during this time of year in the most forceful fashion, for as the trite but true expression reminds us “He is the reason for the season.”

Additionally, I pray our churches will finish the year with a crescendo of giving that will help meet ministry needs locally and reach beyond the local Jerusalem to impact the larger world.

Despite the economic distress and the 62 tornado events in our state leaving indescribable destruction, Alabama Baptists still lead the Southern Baptist Convention in Cooperative Program giving, and for that I am most grateful. Yet, the reality is we are missing our budget goal significantly. Again, I pray for a strong finish in CP giving. Giving through, not to, the Cooperative Program is making an incalculable eternal difference in our world of indifference.

With the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering for International Missions before us during these next busy weeks, my prayer is that we will make a significant gift to Jesus as a primary part of Christ-centered Christmas experience.

“Finish strong” is more than a motivational catch phrase for a tired football team at half time; it is a salient appeal to all us to do the same in our Christian lives. As football players often say, “I don’t want to leave anything out there on the field. I will give my very best until the last tick of the clock.” That, my fellow Alabama Baptists, has application for us as well. For us, this not just a game day experience. No, this is all about eternal life. Let us “finish strong” for His Glory!

Executive Director of Alabama Baptist State Board of Missions

State Missionary Rick Lance was elected in June of 1998 to serve as executive director of the State Board of Missions and treasurer of the Alabama Baptist Convention. Rick leads state missions efforts and facilitates Great Commission Ministries for the Convention’s 3,200+ churches and more than one million Alabama Baptists.

Rick and his wife, Pam, are members at First Baptist Church, Montgomery. They have two daughters.

Any requests for Rick Lance to speak in or visit your church should be directed to Billie Davis at 1-800-264-1225, ext. 253 or (334) 613-2253, [email protected]

For questions about Dr. Lance’s Facebook and Twitter accounts or his blog site, you may contact his social media assistant, Keith Hinson, at 1-800-264-1225, ext. 289 or (334) 613-2289, [email protected]