North Santa Rosa

Living With Purpose

Couple Running Near Water At Sunset, SilhouetteBefore I wore the Garnet and Gold as a Florida State athlete, I was a well-grounded Alabama Crimson Tide Fan. As a kid growing up in the 70s, I knew what Saturdays were for—Bugs Bunny cartoons in the morning and Alabama Football in the afternoon. I once saw Alabama and LSU play football in 1980. I can remember walking into the stadium as a 10 year old and seeing a “sea of red”! And of course, there he was…the legendary Paul “Bear” Bryant stalking the sidelines in his hounds tooth. I’ll never forget it and I still have the ticket stub. But even more important, I remember something my Dad said as we cheered in the stands. We were behind early in the game and I started to pout. Seeing this, my Dad reassured me, “Don’t worry son, Alabama will rise to the occasion!” Now there was a phrase I had never heard before, “rise to the occasion”. I’ve since learned what it meant and come to appreciate it. It became part of my personal positive thinking philosophies.

With God there’s always hope and in difficult times, peace is always available…if we will seek Him. When things look drab and the prospects for you are not ideal; be a person who rises to the occasion. The Bible says, “Now that we have been made right with God by putting our trust in Him, we have peace…because of Christ” (Rom. 5:1). As a believer, you possess a strength that will help you overcome. “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Phil. 4:13).

Sometimes when we see people getting ahead; we look at them and compare ourselves with what they’re doing. In today’s world we have to “qualify” in so many different areas of life—we have to make the grade to pass the test, have high enough credit scores to get a loan. If we want a particular job, our skills and experience have to measure up. Most sports have a playoff system to determine which team or player is good enough to continue to the championship. There will always the temptation to compare yourself to others. It’s like a human instinct—we want what somebody else has, or we think we would be better-looking if we could just have those “six-pack abs”. Perhaps you think somebody has a better car, or their kids are so well-behaved, and you have to peel your kids off the ceiling when you go to a restaurant.

One of the most comforting truths about the Christian faith is that you don’t have to measure up to the standards of any fellow brother or sister when it comes to your salvation. In fact, such a thing is impossible. It’s by God’s grace and His grace alone that you’re saved. You can’t ever do enough, say enough, earn enough, or be enough on your own. All that you do and/or accomplish will not make up for the inadequacy of not knowing Christ as your Savior.

When you stack your life up against someone else’s, the end result is that you’re living for yourself and your own desires. But if you accept the fact you’re good enough for God because He made you and He loves you, there comes with it and overwhelming need to live for Him. Rising to the occasion sometimes means you have to escape from the false fact you’re not worthy and adequate for anything purposeful. People sink into depression and despair because of a poor self-concept or an inferiority complex. God thinks highly of you and created you for great purpose and reason. Jeremiah 29:11 reads, “I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans for well-being and not for trouble, to give you a future and a hope”. Don’t waste the opportunities that can be yours if you would just seek them out. Don’t be afraid to follow a dream even if much time has passed since it was first born into your mind. Don’t back down because you failed the first time. Persistence and consistency are the valuable traits of people who make a difference and achieve great things in life. Perhaps it’s time for you to rise to the occasion.

During my high school basketball senior year, when the team was in a slump, Coach Smith told us, “You won’t ever make a goal if you don’t take the shot. And you won’t ever make a goal if you don’t get the ball past the front of the rim. Everybody misses some shots, but if you’re going to miss, don’t be short.” The lesson for life in this is to not be afraid to get involved; to be engaged. Don’t be afraid to pursue your dream. Don’t be afraid to try something different; to break out of your rut and rise to the occasion. If our lives are to please God, we will have to set realistic goals, depend on the Holy Spirit’s power, and put forth the necessary effort. Even if you don’t reach your goal(s), make sure they are as high as God wants them to be. We learn the most from the journey itself. Anything less than God’s will for you, just isn’t good enough. Your best effort is what God desires. Your obedience pleases Him and makes you a winner every time.

In 1980 Alabama beat LSU 28-7. My Dad was right. The Tide did rise to the occasion. I left the stadium that day with a new-found philosophy in life. And whether you like saying Go Noles or Roll Tide Roll, you’ll never measure up against everybody all the time. Just be sure to set goals, follow your dreams, learn from your mistakes, don’t give up, and rise to the occasion. And when it seems that no one cares, always remember God does.

• This weekly column is written by Matt Dobson. A graduate of Florida State University, Univ. of West Florida, and Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary, he is Pastor of New Bethel Baptist Church in Jay, Florida and a 1LT Chaplain in the U.S. Army Reserves. Matt can be reached by email: He welcomes your thoughts concerning faith, belief, and Christian living. Visit the Living With Purpose website at

Posted by on Nov 3 2013. Filed under Living With Purpose, Top News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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