Monday, August 14, 2006

At North Village Baptist Church this past Sunday, I had the honor of presenting the 1st annual Kirt Mellberg Memorial Scholarship which was donated in Kirt’s memory for the upcoming school term for a very deserving Bible college student, Michael Holtgrewe, preparing at Kirt's alma mater, Southwestern College, for full-time Christian service. I never dreamed I would find myself on the motivational end of missions, especially not the "speaking" end. Writing is one thing, public speaking is quite another! …proof positive that God can do absolutely anything!

In Christian service, there is plenty of opportunity for personal, self-motivated, and self-exalting achievement. Kirt certainly had those options available. On various occasions, I’ve heard somebody who knew Kirt well say, “Kirt could make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear!” and that’s a pretty accurate statement of his innate abilities. Living and working with him for 35 years, there was never a feeling of the “impossible;” he could always figure out a way to get around, over, under, through or beyond an obstacle. He was dramatic, imaginative, practical, hard-working, risk-taking, creative, generous, compassionate, and self-sacrificing; but early on, he realized that all abilities are God-given, and only by God’s power are we able to excel in what we do best. He knew that a self-sufficient spirit that overlooks divine enabling and the contributions of others is no achievement at all. No Christians, Kirt included, have ever climbed the ladder of spiritual success alone. With them are friends and family members who pray, sacrifice, and contribute whatever they can to be supportive. And, that’s the purpose of this scholarship.

Kirt would not like the idea of being in the spotlight. He never wanted to be the “star” of the show. However, this scholarship, awarded in his memory, reflects a lifetime of friends and supporters and of what God can do if we choose to be faithful to God’s calling and allow God’s plan to be a priority in our earthly service.

No Reserves, No Retreats, No Regrets

During his 56 years on this earth, many people served as role models for Kirt, encouraging him, giving him confidence, and helping cultivate his distinct, God-given gifts. One of those models, who Kirt never met personally and with whom Kirt had nothing in common in areas of upbringing, social status or educational opportunities, was William Borden, millionaire heir to the Borden Dairy estate.

In the early 1900s, William’s parents gave him a high school graduation present, a trip around the world. During his travels through the finest Europe had to offer and then through the wonders of the Orient, he was convinced that “the purpose of this life is not this life.” He wanted to prepare to invest his life on the mission field. In spite of great opposition to his decision from his family, peers and professors, for him the decision was absolute. He penned in the back of his Bible, “No Reserves.” William’s purpose and determination continued during his years at Yale University, and after finishing his program of study, he was offered various high-paying jobs. Nevertheless, he had his sights firmly fixed on his target and passion. He recorded two more words in his Bible journal, “No Retreats.” After graduating from Yale, William went to graduate school at Princeton Seminary. When he had finished his studies there, he sailed off toward his goal of reaching the people of China. En route, William stopped over in Egypt to learn to communicate in Arabic. During his first month in Cairo, he came down with spinal meningitis from which he died. He gave away his wealth, his prestige and himself, but he never wavered from his passion nor lost sight of his goal. His final journal entry reads, “No Regrets.”

Like William Borden, Kirt realized that “the purpose of this life is not this life.” He was committed to doing something valuable that would make his life count so that after having lived, he would be able to say, "Yes, it was not cheap, but my life was worth the investment." “No reserves! No retreats! No regrets!”

Michael, we are not just arbitrary creatures placed somewhere in space by chance with the simple objective of living and dying. God has a specific job for you to carry out, and He crafted you expressly and individually as you are for that purpose. Your personality is made to order, and your aptitudes and gifts were pre-arranged exclusively for you by Him for a select goal. You are His creation, precisely shaped for His comprehensive plan.

It has been said that if you look at a task and determine that it is within your capability of achieving it, then you will not need to rely on God. He will know, you will know, and those around you will know that what you do is yours. They’ll say, “Good job! You did great!”

BUT if you take on a task that is outside of or beyond your capability to achieve, and God, and those around you say, “You’ll never be able to accomplish that by yourself!”; when you are faithful, and God performs the task through you, and people look and say, “Wow! That was impossible for you! It must have been God!”; then God gets the glory. He gets the glory when what is achieved is only achievable by Him working through a willing instrument.

If you and I, we, want God involved in our lives, and involved in what we do, then like Kirt, we will have to face challenges that we know we can’t possibly confront; and that’s scary! God knows we’re nervous, and we can’t do the job. That’s exactly what He wants; to do His job, through us.

Michael, none of us knows what tomorrow holds. You may not live to graduate. Like William, you may not live more than a month after graduation. Like Kirt, you may not live past 56 years. What Kirt, along with the Apostle Paul, would insist is: “Moreover it is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful.”
I Corinthians 4:2 There is no rewind or delete button in life. In order to live a life of service that produces no regrets, along with William Borden and with Kirt, determine to hold no reserves and to make no retreats.

I pray that the Kirt Mellberg Memorial Scholarship you received in Kirt’s memory will serve to be the encouragement you need to continue your relentless pursuit of humble service and to be used of God, as you outlined in your essay of application, in ways you are incapable of imagining yourself, holding no reserves, making no retreats, and having no regrets.


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