Focused on the Goal Line

By Nic Lesmeister, President & CEO
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Posted in Zealous Magazine on July 27, 2017

I have a humiliating confession. Though I am one of the most die-hard Texans many of you may ever meet, I did not grow up a fan of the Dallas Cowboys.

In October 1989, when I was about to turn 7 years old, I was proudly wearing the Purple and Gold of the Minnesota Vikings. Growing up in rural Minnesota, I loved football. In fact, my hometown team – the Tigers – had finished runner-up in the state championship in 1988 and were undefeated deep into the 1989 state playoffs in the fall of that year. Football was on everyone’s mind in my little hometown.

The biggest football news that year, however, was the infamous Herschel Walker trade between the Dallas Cowboys and the Minnesota Vikings. The Vikings received a soon-to-be irrelevant Herschel Walker and the Cowboys received a major handful of draft picks. One of those draft picks ended up being a young man from Florida, Emmitt Smith.

For most of us, the rest is history: Three-time Super Bowl champion, eight-time Pro Bowler, the NFL’s all-time leading rusher, and Hall of Famer. Yet Emmitt’s achievements did not come easily. He was frequently criticized for being too small, not strong enough, and too slow. What was it, then, that made him the greatest rusher in NFL history?

Emmitt Smith is constantly referred to as one of the best second-effort runners in the history of the game of football. Another way of putting this is that Emmitt Smith was determined.

Clip after clip of Emmitt’s career shows him smashing into a defender, then driving forward with focused vision to gain even more yards before being brought to the ground. You can see the determination in his eyes as he focused down field on the goal line ahead of him.

Though he was never the biggest, fastest or strongest, his determined will to succeed drove him to record heights on the football field. And the same vision and determined focus are now driving him as a successful businessman.

As a staff, we at MJBI feel many similarities to Emmitt Smith. We’re not out to win a Super Bowl, but we have a task before us that is even more challenging – to see all Israel saved, which will lead to a revival in the nations of the earth (Romans 11:15)! We’re not the biggest, strongest, or even the smartest. But we understand the specific mission that God has given us to raise up and train leaders for this great revival, and we’re determined to carry our mission out to completion.

In Hebrews 12:1-2, we find some of the most famous Bible verses used by believing athletes from all over the world. The Message version puts it so plainly:

“Do you see what this means—all these pioneers who blazed the way, all these veterans cheering us on? It means we’d better get on with it… start running—and never quit!… Keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished this race we’re in. Study how he did it. Because he never lost sight of where he was headed—that exhilarating finish in and with God!”

The Holy Spirit spoke these verses to us as a team as we were praying over our strategy at MJBI earlier this year. The Lord was reminding us that now is the time to go forward, with eyes focused on Jesus, who will show us how to press on to complete this great mission He has given to us.

Our history is a hall of fame story of faithful leaders who have blazed the way for MJBI to be where we are today – active in nine countries around the world, training hundreds of leaders for Jewish ministry every year. But now it is our turn to move with determined focus toward that “exhilarating finish with God” and see the ancient plan of Israel’s restoration and redemption fulfilled!

We have an aggressive vision to pioneer college-level Messianic education on the five major continents around the world. Currently, this only exists in two – North America (U.S.) and Asia (Israel). By 2020, we are aiming to be the first-ever provider of collegiate Messianic Jewish Theology in South America, Africa, and Europe. We have already co-launched the North American option for this program through The King’s University, and we’re actively moving to complete our vision in these other locations even as you read this.

As I mentioned in my opening letter in this issue of “Zealous,” in the first six months of 2017, I traveled to all five of these continents, and 13 countries throughout all of them. I am determined to move this “20/20 Vision” into reality, to see the vision and mission of the Messianic Jewish Bible Institute fulfilled.

And just like Emmitt Smith, we at MJBI need fans. We need people to cheer us on, to support us, and to help motivate us when we’re weary from the challenging mission given to us. We can be as determined as we want, but we will not go far if we do not go with you and your support.

On September 14, 2017, we will gather with Emmitt Smith at the Arlington Convention Center for our annual D/FW banquet. As you can likely tell by now, the clear theme for our event this year is “Determined,” with an emphasis on the Word the Lord spoke to us from Hebrews 12:1-2.

We would be delighted if you could join us on September 14. Emmitt will share his experience, insight, and passionate wisdom with us as we run toward this great vision God has given us to reach, train, and bless the Jewish people. This will truly be a banquet unlike any other we have had in a very long time.

Until we see you in September, may you be inspired with a new determined faith of your own to carry out the mission that God has given you. We’re praying for you, and grateful for your friendship in every way!

Nic Lesmeister
Nic Lesmeister Signature
Gratefully, Nic Lesmeister – President and CEO

Emmit James Smith III is a former college and professional American football running back who became the National Football League’s all-time leading rusher through his fifteen seasons in the league during the 1990s and 2000s.

Dallas Cowboys Emmitt Smith (22) in action, rushing vs Washington Redskins at Texas Stadium. Irving, TX (1994)

Credit: Al Tielemans (Photo by Al Tielemans /Sports Illustrated/Getty Images)