Excelsior!

Excelsior!” is probably one of my favorite Latin phrases. It means “even higher” and is something I mutter to myself daily. Every day I have to remind myself I can do better, that my all is not 95% on a chemistry test, it’s 100% on a chemistry test. That although an A is still a good grade, I’ve done better, and I can do it again.

Thomas Edison said “Genius is 1% inspiration, 99% perspiration.”
In order to achieve excellence, I can’t just get the idea and sit back doing nothing. Rome was not built in a day, neither will I be the best oboist in a week, or even five years – and most definitely not if I don’t work at it.
Okay, I bet we all already know all that. You can’t expect your math to do itself, you have to do it yourself.

Before you think I’m about to go of into doing hard things again (though I kind of will), I just want to tell you why I’m writing this and challenging you to excellence. I read it in my Perspectives notebook a few days ago. Part of the reading started off with stating that many are searching for the meaning of history. Then George Eldon Ladd, the writer of this article, said that the philosophy of progress is no longer accepted because people know society cannot attain a perfect society. Current events have made the concept of progress intolerable and unrealistic.
Sounds like the world is saying “who cares about your homework, progress is pointless because we’ll never get to a perfect society.”

Is this the worldview we as Christians want to have? NO!
Take a look at Philippians 4:8:

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.
Philippians 4:8


Is slacking in your duties because “you don’t feel like” giving your all acceptable? Is this lovely? Commendable? Worthy of praise? Honorable? Excellent?
What about giving 100% some of the time… say… in chemistry or geometry but not in logic? Is that acceptable?
No way!
We must give 100% 100% of the time, not 95% 80% of the time! Not even 99% 99% of the time! I’m not one to tell you guys this, I struggle with it every day.

As Christians, we need to think about – and do – what’s honorable, lovely, commendable, excellent, and worthy of praise. This calls for change in our lives, change in Christian culture in general. Compare a lot of Christian fiction to fiction written by atheistic/secular authors. Which one is more exciting and more appealing to the reader?
Sadly, it tends to be fiction written by secular authors.
Compare Christian films to films that come out of Hollywood? Which one has better effects and better actors?
Again, it tends to be the films from Hollywood. (Praise God, though, although there’s a lot of bad stuff coming out of Hollywood, recently there have been more films coming out that have a Christian perspective – like Facing the Giants, The Nativity Story, The Ultimate Gift, and Amazing Grace).
Okay, people. Something’s wrong here. If the world is producing better stuff than Christians are, Christians are going to start swerving and laying aside some morals to watch or read things that aren’t completely wholesome. We do not want to compromise our faith for the sake of books or movies. Take a look at what’s coming out of Hollywood these days! Half the films I hear of coming out or see reviews for when I go to www.kidsinmind.com to look up a movie are R-rated and filled with violence, adultery, and bad language. Even the majority of ones that don’t support Christian morals. They’re about self, about what you can do to make yourself “happy” but that’s a whole nother post in itself.
So what do we do? Like the San Antonio Independent Christian Film Festival is trying to do, we need to encourage Christians to write excellent books and make better films.
This isn’t going to happen by sitting around watching the evil flow out of Hollywood. Let’s DO SOMETHING! Let’s strive for excellence in our schoolwork now, and develop habits that lead us to excellence in whatever we do. We can encourage Christian authors and filmmakers to do their jobs better, to create good rather than poorly imitate the world.

Whatever is true.
Whatever is honorable.
Whatever is just.
Whatever is pure.
Whatever is lovely.
Whatever is commendable.
If there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise:
Think about these things.

There’s a promise, too: “And the God of peace will be with you.”

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