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#SB50 And Wisdom from the Sidelines

Football in grassLast night, millions of Americans watched as the Denver Broncos marched to a very well-deserved victory over the Carolina Panthers. Both teams were the champs of their conferences, and had great seasons. However, in the end, only one team can stand at the podium and accept the Vince Lombardi trophy. Congratulations to the Denver Broncos for being the Super Bowl 50 Champions!

Being that we are at the end of another football season, I thought I would share with you a quote by the late, great Tom Landry, former coach of the Dallas Cowboys…

I don’t believe in team motivation. I believe in getting a team prepared so it knows it will have the necessary confidence when it steps on a field and be prepared to play a good game.

Mr. Landry knew what success looked like. As the coach of the Cowboys for 29 years (an NFL record), he led them to the Super Bowl 5 times, winning the Vince Lombardi trophy twice. With a reputation for being calm and in control, he knew that the secret of success was not hyping his team on the day of the game, but preparing them ahead of time through consistent practice and discipline… preparation that would carry them to success on the field.

This is a great lesson for all of us as 21st-century Christians. To survive, thrive, and make a difference in today’s world, it’s not enough to show up at church on Sunday, go through the motions of a spiritual pep-rally, get an ecclesiastical “shot in the arm”, and think that is all there is to the Christian life. Don’t get me wrong… gathering together with our brothers and sisters in Christ is VERY important, but living an overcoming life in Christ is SO much more. It takes personal time in prayer, time in the Word, and time alone with God in worship and meditation. Paul knew, not just the importance of thoughtful and disciplined preparation, but the consequences of failing to adequately prepare when he said…

Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may obtain it. And everyone who competes for the prize is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a perishable crown, but we for an imperishable crown. Therefore I run thus: not with uncertainty. Thus I fight: not as one who beats the air. But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified. ~ I Corinthians 9:24-27

As you set about a new week of school, work, and play, now is a great time to get into the practice and habit of time in the Word, prayer, and seeking God’s face. Start today, and watch the difference it makes in your attitude and outlook.

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Burning Down the House

Oklahoma

On one of my travels, I stayed in a lovely home with a beautiful stacked-stone fireplace in the living room. The craftsmanship was wonderful, and the stones themselves were exquisite, with veins of black running through each stone, adding to the beauty of the design.

A year or so later, I was back in the same town, and we passed by the home, only to find that it had burned to the ground. It was explained to me that the beautiful stones that comprised the fireplace were actually the cause. The black veins that ran through each stone were actually veins of petroleum that would ignite when the temperature of the stone reached a certain temperature. On one cold winter’s day, the fire reached the ignition temperature, and BOOM… the fireplace exploded into flame, burning the house to the ground.

Christian, what does the house of your life look like?

Are you so intent on doing good things, you may not be doing the right things?

Are the things you are doing driven out of selfish motivation, or the motivation of the love of Christ?

Are you building a seemingly beautiful house of good works out of incendiary materials?

How has what you have done with your life impacted the world for Jesus?

In 1 Corinthians 3:13-15, Paul tells us…

… Each one’s work will become clear; for the Day will declare it, because it will be revealed by fire; and the fire will test each one’s work, of what sort it is. If anyone’s work which he has built on it endures, he will receive a reward. If anyone’s work is burned, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire.

When we enter eternity, we will ALL be judged. For the believer, when our works are put through the purifying fire of His holy judgement, only what was done for Christ will last.

For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad. ~ 2 Corinthians 5:10

We will all have to give an answer for what we as individuals have done. We will all have to take responsibility for our own attitudes and actions. In light of that, we should all examine ourselves, and ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to us those areas that we need to surrender to Him, and pray as David did when he said…

Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts:
And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting. ~ Psalm 139:23-24

I close with a thought from British missionary C. T. Studd…

Only one life, yes only one,
Now let me say,”Thy will be done”;
And when at last I’ll hear the call,
I know I’ll say “twas worth it all”;
Only one life,’twill soon be past,
Only what’s done for Christ will last.

— from the poem Only One Life, ‘Twill Soon Be Past
written by C. T. Studd

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What It Was Was Football Life

Through the Looking Glass“It’s football time in Tennessee!!!”

Ok… it’s a little late, and I’m actually an Alabama Crimson Tide fan (Roll Tide!), but if you live in Tennessee like I do, you are used to hearing those words in the fall of every year. Not just a declaration – it is a warcry. It is a call to Saturday football, friends gathered around television screens, popcorn and potato chips flying everywhere when your team scores, an occasional pilgrimage (for some) to Neyland Stadium, and lots and LOTS of orange.

Regardless of your persuasion of team choice (or what color you think you look good in), there is nothing quite like a good football game. When it is neck-and-neck, back and forth battling on the gridiron, the energy is contagious – the excitement nearly impossible to contain!

It reminds me of some quotes by icons of the game:

Football is like life – it requires perseverance, self-denial, hard work, sacrifice, dedication and respect for authority. ~ Vince Lombardi

I believe in getting a team prepared so it knows it will have the necessary confidence when it steps on a field and be prepared to play a good game. ~ Tom Landry

Never be too proud to get down on your knees and pray. ~ Paul “Bear” Bryant

Three different coaches. Three different quotes. One important message, not just for football, but for life…

Be prepared.

Just like a football team has to practice, condition, and prepare in order to have any chance of winning once it walks out onto the field, we have to prepare for the challenges and trials of life through education, dedication, hard work, and…

Prayer.

In the Bible, Paul stresses, over and over again the value of preparation…

“Run with perseverance”… “Endure hardship”… Hebrews 12

“Everyone who competes goes into strict training”… I Corinthians 9

“Put on the full armor of God”… Ephesians 6

In order for us to win in the “game of life”, we must prepare. As Christians, we do that through worship, prayer, studying the Word of God, and fellowship with other believers (just to name a few).

Years ago, the late Andy Griffith had a comedy routine called What It Was Was Football, in which he described the game of football from the vantage point of a “good ole country boy” who had never seen the game before, and didn’t understand the rules.

As we go through life, are our lives shining and crystal-clear examples of the love of Jesus, or something that is foreign to those that are observing our lives at arms-length? Do we point people to the love of Christ, or confuse them with an unconvincing and unattractive “performance” devoid of passion, love, or commitment?

Take the time today to assess your “game plan”. If you see that it needs work, a good place to begin is on your knees.