Hollywood Hard man Sylvester Stallone most iconic role as an actor was playing Rocky Balboa in eight movies.
Rocky is depicted as an 'everyman' who started out by going the distance and overcoming obstacles that had occurred in his life and career as a profession boxer.
Listen to how God reconnects with Sylvester, through Sylvester's acting and playing the character Rocky.
I think we all have those moments in life, like Sylvester said of himself, that we like to take the reigns of life for our self. And what I mean by that is that we say, 'I've got this, I can do it myself.' I am not speaking about learning and growing up and using that phrase as we would to parents when we can tie our shoe laces ourselves or can set up the TV to movie mode, "Dad, I can do it myself." I think Sylvester means the deeper sense where we actually dismiss people out of our life, believe that we know best and DO NOT WANT HELP, I DON'T NEED YOU, BECAUSE I KNOW WHAT'S BEST FOR ME...
Do you know what I mean!
Sylvester had years of this, 12, (didn't he say?). Where he was a famous actor, director, writer, living in Hollywood where he thought he had made it, all by himself. But all the way through the Rocky movies God was there tapping him, nudging him that He was still there, present. Sylvester's words (and I am paraphrasing) were, I had to stop kidding myself and realize that God was with me all these years and I had to humble myself, like Rocky did in the movies and Thank God, that He is God.
Another insightful point was brought through the character of Rocky. There is a time where we have heard a bit or a lot of the Jesus story where we need to just do it! We need to act out love, the actual heart of the Gospel message. Let me be clear, so often we think that we need to spend years reading and learning and spending more time with God (which is all good), but to the detriment of loving what he loves. Your neighbour, your enemy, the lost, widowed, orphan, downcast, sad, hurting, being happy with those who are happy, bringing people together.
I think in this time, right now both elements are so, so key. God is so present and we need to act it out to others. And the great thing is, and it's played out in all Rocky movies is that God uses US and OUR talents! Even if that is boxing, art, craft, music, sport, academics, food, kind words or a hug.
Our second testimony comes from Pro Surfer Bethany Hamilton and can be found from the ‘iamsecond.com’ website.
For me, the phrase ‘I am second’ has a merged role.
Firstly, as a follower of Jesus, I acknowledge that He comes first in my life and not me. He is my Lord, and his ways are good and lead to living life in its fullest (John 10:10). I want to live life in all its fullness and I wish this for others too. When reading the stories of Jesus it makes sense then, that He heals what is sick, mends what is broken and goes to those who are lost, right? Not only that, Jesus helps you and me understand the big and small things of life, how to Love God, Love others (live alongside) and Love the world we walk and swim on.
Secondly, the phrase ‘I am second’ leads me to this Bible verse. It is where Jesus says:
“just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” Matthew 20:28
One good image of this is where Jesus is found washing his disciples feet in John 13:1-17. Jesus the Lord of heaven and earth came to serve, lowly and humble and not expect to be waited on (like at a king in a castle or at a fine restaurant). He came to serve others.
If Jesus served others, and I follow Jesus and so desperately want others to have life to the full as well, it means that I too must take up the posture of serving. Servanthood, as it is known, is a dying artform in two ways,
‘I am second’ is a profound phrase. Listen, I do not do this to make Jesus or God or the Holy Spirit happy with me, I do it because I follow the King who gives life, and I want others to experience the life that he gives.
This rest of the week, look for opportunities to serve…
Host a dinner party while you are at home.
Quickly make everyone’s bed when they are not watching.
Wash up some dishes so it allows your parents sometime together.
Think of a board game to play with the family, instead of plodding around bored at home. ‘Safely’ go to the shops with Mum or Dad or pack away the groceries.
Read to your brother or sister, or come up with a crazy game that might be too young for you but you know will help create fun and life in your house!
I AM SECOND
Over the next week or so we are going to listen to a few different testimonies.
A testimony is:
If I merge these together, I come to understand a Testimony as:
What would your definition be?
As a follower of Jesus, I have heard lots of testimonies (and I have my own) of who Jesus is, that He is still alive healing and helping people and how his death on a cross for our sin has impacted many, radically changing their lives. We all have testimonies of how Jesus has impacted our lives.
Watch this YouTube of Bear Grylls’ sharing his testimony titled 'My Faith is My Strength.'
As I mentioned above, we all have our own testimonies of how Jesus impacts our lives. He lives and moves and is with us daily. Which then makes sense that every new day brings the opportunity to seek Him, and see how He is helping and guiding you.
Wrongly, many people think that a testimony is only given on the day you get baptized. And for many, they feel ashamed that their testimony isn't as exciting as the last person. We might love the story shared by the lost person who was a drug addict or the bully in school who has been impacted by Jesus, their life turned around and that they have found home through Jesus' love and forgiveness, but dare I say it, that isn’t really the point.
We all have the same amazing starting point when it comes to testimonies. Romans 5:6 says:
“For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly.” (NRSV)
“When we were utterly helpless, Christ came at just the right time and died for us sinners.” (NLT)
That starting point that Romans says is the fact that Jesus in His good timing, whilst we all were weak, utterly helpless and still so far from loving Him (ungodly or sinners), it was Jesus who moved first, loved first, He chose to die for us so that we can be forgiven and set free.
At the end of the day when I am putting my kids to bed the last line of our prayer time I repeat this:
God I thank you that you love us and that we can see that love through your Son and that through your Son Jesus, you are making everything good.