No Regrets

This post is a paraphrase of a chat we had at the Men’s Breakfast this morning at Highland Wausau.

I know that by now many of you have heard that a large men’s conference will be simulcast here at Highland Community Church on the 5th of February, 2011. The name of the conference is “No Regrets” and has been held in Wisconsin – down near Milwaukee – since 1994. We’ve sent men to this powerful conference, and now we have the distinct honor to bring this life-changing event to north-central Wisconsin. To prepare our hearts and minds to host this conference, and to awaken in each of us a desire to serve Christ with other men, I’ve prepared this short talk on the background of the name, “No Regrets”.

Lord, may each of us deliver as much service and dedication to your Kingdom on earth in a long lifetime as young William did in his short 25 years. I’d like to take each of the things Mr. Borden wrote and lived and break them down a step further, into something real that we can take home and do for Christ.

No Reserves

When I think about “No Reserves”, I remember all the people I have heard – Christian people – talking about their desperate need to do something for themselves, to “recharge” so that they can give again. I always worry that we are taking a selfish approach to that. William Borden captured it fully when he said, “Say no to self, and yes to Jesus; every time”. We are to be decreasing, and Christ is to be increasing; so who are we taking time for again!? If I stop the talk here, many of you will assert that even Christ moved away from the masses to a quiet place to recover, and He did; but He went there to pray to His Father, to re-fill Himself with God so that He had enough of God to give to others. God made us who we are, gave us a personality and unique gifts, and we should be who we are – genuine and transparent – but we should concentrate on the infilling of the Holy Spirit, so we can liberally splash out Living Water when life jostles us. When we find our calling, we should invest ourselves in it fully. I don’t mean work hard at it, I mean put ourselves out for it, all of  our energy and heart. Leave nothing on the field of battle.  Though it’s a weak analogy, here’s a video clip that sums up a piece of the fight we see ourselves in.

shown was Al Pacino’s speech from Any Given Sunday and it was edited to remove language. If you look this clip up on YouTube, be aware that there are a few curse words.

Did you hear the passion and force in his message? The inches we need are everywhere around us.. every minute and every second. Men, the people that Christ intends us to reach for Him are all around us and we have opportunities to affect them, every minute, and every second. On this team.. we claw with our finger nails for that inch.. because we know that’s going to make the difference between winning and losing, between living and dying. For us, that’s a sobering though; isn’t it? The difference between living – forever – with God, or dying – forever – and going to hell. I’ll tell you this, in any fight, it’s the guy that’s willing to die, who is going to get that inch. Will we each fight that hard for the Lord’s Kingdom here on earth? To save other men from the fate that awaits them if we do nothing? Look into each other’s eyes; do you see men that will go that inch with you? Let’s commit to going that inch together, leaving it all on the field, arriving in heaven with nothing held back, No Reserves.

No Retreats

Here, Borden showed that regardless his surroundings and pressure from peers, he would not sway from the work he was doing for the Lord. He would not shrink from the fight, no matter how pitched it became.

Picture of Bellau WoodIn World War I, American Marines fought for control of a small forest near Marne, in France. The frenzied battle they fought, while horribly outnumbered, earned them the name “TeufelHunde” from the Germans. It means “HellHound”, and it is the genesis of the title “Devil Dogs” that the Marines carry today. This 25-day battle saw the Marines fighting with their bayonets and fists more often than firing a weapon, as their supplies were low and reinforcement was problematic. In the midst of this hell on earth, a Lieutenant by the name Clifton Cates reported, “I have only two men out of my company, and 20 out of some other company. We need support, but it almost suicide to try to get it here as we are swept by machine gun fire and a constant barrage is on us. I have no one on my left, and only a few on my right. I will hold”. Lt. Cates gave this report on the 19th day of fighting. Think about his situation.  He is surrounded by the enemy, has 22 men from two companies that began the battle with 160 men each. He wasn’t in command when the battle began, an infantry company is commanded by at least a Captain. He knows help is available but will not call for it because he knows it cannot arrive without taking heavy losses, and he will not sacrifice them to save himself! If the last three words “I will hold” do not rouse your heart as a man, check your pulse. He is pressed from every side, death has taken most in his command and is coming for him, and he says, “I will hold”. He will not surrender, and he will not retreat. I challenge you, when life begins to make things tough on you – Christian men – don’t give in to cursing, a fit of rage, playing the blame game, or retreating from a life ministry. Take a moment to look at Christ, then stare down your circumstances and say, “I will hold”. No Retreats.

No Regrets

One of my favorite quotes says that our humblest moments come when we open the book of our lives and read the story as it was written, as compared to what we vowed to make it. “No regrets” doesn’t mean that we wouldn’t elect to do anything differently if we had another crack at this life. It means, rather, that we do not regret following God, being a soldier for Him, regardless what happens here on earth. We know that as persistent as this vision seems, that it is timed and temporary. We are destined for eternity.

Picture of an Anti-Slavery PosterWilliam Lloyd Garrison was an anti-slavery writer in the first half of the 19th century. He published a paper called the Liberator. He began publishing this paper in 1831, and published it until the Thirteenth Amendment to the Constitution in 1865. In that time, he never failed to release a paper; 1820 issues in all. Garrison was ridiculed widely, and even served jail time for speaking against slavery, but had no regrets, because he knew he was on the side of right. Garrison followed all three of the statements we’ve covered  today, and you can see his philosophy summed up in the opening line of Liberator, Issue One; “I do not wish to think, or speak, or write, with moderation.. I am in earnest – I will not equivocate – I will not excuse – I will not retreat a single inch – AND I WILL BE HEARD”. When it’s done, let’s ensure that we can say that we have No Regrets.

Summary

Men, the life we lead in the United States of America is indeed a blessed one, but I am encouraging us not to let our prosperity and “things” get between us and a holy God. Nothing we try to build here matters unless it is God-ordained, and we “labor in vain” if we do it. I challenge each of us – in our various seasons of life – to discern what He is calling us to do, and then to do it with reckless abandon. Let us each fill ourselves with the Spirit, and then bring that Light to the world in our every interaction with others. May we be faithful every minute of every day, and when at last we lie down to sleep, be able to say, “I held for myself No Reserves, when faced with hardship I took No Retreats, and with the grace of my Lord, I have No Regrets”.

This entry was posted on Saturday, October 2nd, 2010 at 9:57 and is filed under Men's Ministry. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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