Tag Archive | football

Why I Stand

Flag 2

With all of the controversy surrounding the NFL, the National Anthem, and Old Glory, I just wanted to share a few thoughts why I, personally, choose to stand.

I stand…

… because our flag, Old Glory, is the symbol of the United States of America, the land I love and the nation of which I am proud to be a citizen. To do otherwise, for me, would be to not only disrespect our nation, but to dishonor God by showing a lack of appreciation for His good and perfect gifts that He has afforded me because I am an American.

I stand… when The Star Spangled Banner, our national anthem, plays because that is a show of respect for the flag that it so eloquently describes, and a show of unity with my fellow citizens. Even when we may disagree about sports, politics, religion, etc., when the words “O say can you see…” are heard, we become silent and unified in our mutual respect for the flag, the anthem, and all that it symbolizes.

I stand… because of fifty-six men from all walks of life who, in putting their signatures on a parchment known as The Declaration of Independence, knew they were putting their lives, fortunes, and sacred honor on the line in the name of freedom. These men were as flawed and imperfect as the rest of us, but found the courage to stand for an ideal greater than themselves.

I stand… because I want to be an example to future generations that we are more than a collection of individuals, each going their own direction.

Flag FoldedI stand… because from the streets of Lexington and Concord to the mountains of Afghanistan and the deserts of Iraq, for over 240 years, brave men and women have given their last full measure of devotion to secure the freedom the rest of us enjoy on a daily basis. I stand, saluting an unfurled flag because of all of the wives, mothers, fathers, husbands, and family members who have been handed a folded one.

I stand… because standing is a universal sign of honor and respect.

I stand… because I believe that our battle is not against flesh and blood, and that we can accomplish more through the power of prayer than through hollow protests.

I stand… because we are better when we operate in unity, as “one nation under God, indivisible…” As a Christian, I believe the truth expressed by the psalmist who said,

Behold, how good and how pleasant it is
For brethren to dwell together in unity! ~ Psalm 133:1

I stand… because our flag and national anthem symbolize what is right with our country, not what is wrong with it.

I stand… because there are other countries where people are poor and oppressed beyond measure, and are looking to America to be an example — The shining city on a hill.

I stand… because I am the recipient of a grace that has been granted to me in the form of a life in a free country called America.

I stand… not because we are perfect and have it all together, but as a sign that I am willing to take my place — standing beside you — working together to make America a better place.

I stand… to show that I am up on my feet and ready to go; to be a part of the solution, not a symptom of the problem.

I stand… because I am grateful.

Flag 3O beautiful for patriot dream
That sees beyond the years
Thine alabaster cities gleam
Undimmed by human tears!
America! America!
God shed His grace on thee
And crown thy good with brotherhood
From sea to shining sea!

                                                      ~ Katharine Lee Bates

Did you see my touchdown, Daddy?

Recently, my son Dr. Ronnie Phillips, Jr. wrote this blog, and I wanted to share it here today. With the football season in full swing, I thought it was a great time to share this word…

My first love was the sport of football.

I grew up idolizing Deon Sanders, Warrick Dunn, Derrick Brooks, and Coach Bobby Bowden.  I got to meet Coach Bowden as a 12-year-old boy in Orlando at the Southern Baptist Convention in front of 40,000 people. My father was able to arrange this special time for me and I’ll never forget Coach Bowden’s words to me. Crying my eyes out in awe, I said “Coach Bowden you are my hero and I would like to play for you.” He said, “keep your grades up” and then he said in his southern twang, “Boy, why are you crying?” Coach Bowden then said something I have never forgotten: “Boy, what your daddy does is a lot more important than what I do.” I got to meet with Coach Bowden two more times, and my children got to meet him the year before he retired, when he spoke at Abba’s House.

Football teaches you many life lessons, and very few make it past the high school level. I have been running a football league and have coached youth football for the last 9 years. I have had the privilege to coach my boys, win some championships, coach some outstanding players, and share my faith with many people. There is no other sport that compares to football, in my opinion. It is a sport of sacrifice and leadership for the purpose of teamwork.

Football in grassAll three of my boys play football. They are all pretty tough, but my youngest son Ryce (6) plays flag football because he was born with some heart issues, and we are holding him out of contact as long as we can. Last night, he scored a touchdown in his game. He has scored many because flag football offers that opportunity to many kids, but I haven’t seen him play much because I am busy coaching my middle son Reid’s (9) football team, as well as running our local football league. Before Ryce went to bed last night he said, “Did you see my touchdown, Daddy?” I paused and went back to my childhood, and remembered how I cherished the times my dad would get to see me play. My dad didn’t get to coach me or come to practices like many of these over zealous parents do today, but occasionally he would sneak in and be watching (or yelling) from a safe distance. My friends would always say that I played better when he was watching, and they were right. All my boys have asked me questions like that one.  I responded to Ryce’s question last night by saying, “Yeah buddy, I did. You did great!”

I was reminded of the fact that our Father in heaven is always watching our faithful deeds. He sees what we do for Him, both in private and in the public arena (Matthew 6:4), and rewards us for our faithfulness. Christians are the children of God (Galatians 3:25-27), and we all long for our Father’s approval and affirmation. Thank God we don’t have earn His approval. He loves us, affirms us, approves of us, and is looking on with love in His heart when we serve Him. Sometimes, like Ryce, we wonder if He is watching. I’m here to tell you that He is watching, and He is proud of those who serve Him.

Ronnie preachingI now do what Coach Bowden said was the thing more important than football. I do what my father taught me. I preach the word of God and tell people about Jesus Christ. I believe my dad is the greatest expository preacher of the gospel still left on planet earth, and I have studied many great preachers and theologians. Although I am grown and have a teenager, I still light up when I get a text from my dad after I preach. It is not his style to compliment me directly although he does sometimes. I got a text a few weeks ago from him after I finished preaching on a Wednesday night. He was watching and I didn’t know it. He simply texted, “Masterpiece, son. Excellent!” I guess you never grow out of how that makes you feel.

For those of you who have never experienced the love of a father, you can through Jesus Christ by faith.
God’s love is free (John 3:16). His grace is free (Ephesians 2:8-9).

His approval, however, comes through faith. Abraham had to hold onto the promise of God by faith. He had to be patient with God and eventually offer this promise (Isaac) to God as a sacrifice by faith. Abraham was not perfect, but he was a man of faith that was approved by God. If you need approval from God, accept Him by FAITH, love Him by FAITH, and believe His promises by FAITH.

Romans 4:23-25 (GWT)

But the words “his faith was regarded as the basis of his approval by God” were written not only for him, but also for us. Our faith will be regarded as the basis of our approval by God—each of us who believe in the one who brought Jesus, our Lord, back to life. Jesus, our Lord, was handed over to death because of our failures and was brought back to life so that we could receive God’s approval. ~ Romans 4:23-25

Ryce needed my approval. We ALL need God’s approval. Does the Father see what good you do? You bet He does!

I recently watched the movie Woodlawn about how a city was transformed by the faith of a young chaplain (Hank Erwin), Christian quarterback (Jeff Rutledge), and a dynamic running back (Tony Nathan). Two high schools were transformed by FAITH, two destiny’s were changed by FAITH, and a city was transformed by FAITH. Racism can end by FAITH. Our nation will be great again by FAITH. You can be saved by FAITH! I encourage you to go see Woodlawn and pray for unity in our nation. There truly is only One Way!

…Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” ~ John 14:6

Ronnie and Bobby Bowden

A young Ronnie Phillips and Coach Bobby Bowden.

For more information about Dr. Ronnie Phillips, Jr. and his ministry, please visit www.ronniephillips.org

Wisdom from the Sidelines

Through the Looking GlassBeing that we are in the heart of 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.

Lombardi, Oscar, and Leaving Your Legacy

This past Sunday was a day filled with irony. It was a day of exuberant joy, bitter disappointment, and deep sorrow. It was a day filled with contrasts as profound as night and day…

So where do we start?

First of all, this past Sunday was the Big Game… Super Bowl XLVIII. All of the hype, all of the pre-game shows, and all of the pre-gameday shows that aired in the days leading up to a 6:30p.m. kickoff built a sense of anticipation that resulted in the game being the most watched event in television history. In the days of commentary leading up to the clash between two teams that weathered the storms of the season to make it to this moment in time, much of the talk centered around one word:

Legacy.

In case you were stranded on a desert island for the past month, please allow me to re-cap…

In the Northwest corner, we have the young Russell Wilson, a second-year, third-round draft pick out of Wisconsin. Russell would be leading a young, yet powerful Seattle Seahawks team that boasted the best defense in the NFL.

In the Mile-High corner, we have Peyton Manning, a 16-year NFL and 3-time Super Bowl veteran who is the epitome of the stuff legends are made of. This man has more awards than most of us have room on our mantle for, and would be leading the storied Denver Broncos, with an offense that proved to be virtually unstoppable on it’s march to East Rutherford, NJ.

With such a matchup, everyone expected it to be a game for the ages. Yet, with so many players involved in the success of each team, the vast majority of the conversation centered around Peyton Manning. “Can he win the Big Game to cement his legacy? How will his legacy be affected should the Broncos lose? Will his legacy survive in the event of defeat?

Legacy… There’s that word again.

From the first snap of the game, things seemed to go wrong for the Broncos. A 2-point safety on the opening play of the game defined the rest of the spectacle. After 60 minutes of play, and the dust and confetti hadn’t begun to settle, the Seahawks emerged victorious… 43 – 8. Immediately, the talking heads and media-elite began discussing the effect of this major loss on Peyton Manning’s legacy. Could his legacy survive this brutal beatdown? Would Manning hang up his cleats in defeat, and end his NFL career now?

Well, with all deference to smarter sports-minds than mine, I just have to ask a few questions:

Isn’t this the same Peyton Manning who just completed (arguably, with the exception of losing the Super Bowl) the most successful season in the history of the NFL? Isn’t this the same man who just set records for most touchdowns thrown, as well as most yards thrown in a single season? Isn’t this the man who was just selected as the NFL MVP for a (record) fifth time? I could go on about other records he set (including the passing record he set in the Super Bowl itself), others he tied, not to mention all of the records set by other members of the Broncos organization, and the team itself. But I digress…

Now for a reality check.

Earlier in the day, around 20 miles from MetLife stadium, the police were called to the apartment of Academy Award-winning actor Philip Seymour Hoffman. After Mr. Hoffman failed to meet his children and their mother at a park, she called a friend who went to check on him. Mr. Hoffman was found in his apartment, dead from an apparent drug overdose.

Philips Seymour Hoffman was considered to be one of the brightest and most talented actors of this generation, having starred in films such as Twister, Patch Adams, Mission Impossible III, Capote (for which he won the Academy Award for Best Actor), the popular Hunger Games movies, and dozens of other films. Having seen several movies that he appeared in, I thought of him as a very talented person. According to stories I’d read, as well as interviews I’d seen, he seemed like a nice and humble guy.

So again I ask, what about the legacy? Have we become so shallow as to base a person’s legacy on a 60-minute sporting event? Has our collective attention span gotten so short that we decide the legacy of a life based on the manner of death? Sure, Peyton Manning had a really bad day. However, it does not wipe from the annals of sports history his incredible contribution to, not just football, but to the lives of young people that he sowed into through other benevolent endeavors. And while Mr. Hoffman may have died with (as the police have reported) a needle still in his arm, it does not erase the hours of great theatrical performances, or tarnish the Oscar statue he earned for just one of those great performances.

So where am I going here? Simply this…

The legacy of a life is built on miles, not inches. It is built on years, not seconds. Sure, there are those people who are only remembered for a sad, solitary event (John Wilkes Booth, John Hinckley, James Earl Ray, etc.). However, for most of us, a positive legacy is built over a lifetime of actions, attitudes, and contributions. It is built on a foundation of what we did to change the world around us, and how those changes affected others. People may remember that Peyton Manning lost Super Bowl XLVIII, but what Peyton Manning will be remembered for will be for being one of the best athletes to ever play the game of football. People will remember the manner of Philip Seymour Hoffman’s death, but he will be remembered for being a brilliant actor who brought to life memorable characters for the rest of us to live vicariously through.

But… here’s the catch. When time has ended, and eternity is upon us; when the crowd noise has finally ceased; the Super Bowl rings, Vince Lombardi Trophy, and Oscar statues have turned to dust; and the accolades and applause have long since died away, only one legacy will matter: What did you do with Jesus? The Bible says:

“… It is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment.” ~ Hebrews 9:27

While the rest of the world may mourn your brilliance and contributions to society, when you take that final breath, the only thing that will matter is how you lived your life for Jesus. Did you live a life that honored Him? Did you point others to His blood-stained cross? Did you accept the love that He died to demonstrate?

A good legacy may stand the test of time, but only what you do with Jesus will stand the test of eternity.

If you would like to have a personal relationship with Jesus, and start a legacy that will last forever, pray this prayer…

Dear Lord Jesus, come into my heart. Forgive me of my sin.
Wash me and cleanse me. Set me free. Jesus, thank You that You died for me. I believe thatYou are risen from the dead and that You’re coming back again for me. Fill me with the Holy Spirit. Give me a passion for the lost, a hunger for the things of God and a holy boldness to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ. I’m saved, I’m born again, I’m forgiven and I’m on my way to Heaven because I have Jesus in my heart.

If you prayed that prayer in faith, please let us know. Please drop me a comment here, or you can call us at 1-800-877-6493. We would love to celebrate with you your decision to join God’s family!

Taking One for The Team

Through the Looking Glass

Well, it’s that time of year again.

With the football season once again wrapping up, and conference champions being decided, we are just a couple of weeks away from the big game – Super Bowl XLVIII.

Since the championship trophy is named after the great Vince Lombardi, I am reminded of a great quote by this legendary coach…

Teamwork is what the Green Bay Packers were all about. They didn’t do it for individual glory. They did it because they loved one another.

In this age of “superstars”, we see so many in search of the spotlight — in search of that thing that focuses attention on themselves. Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning, when asked about this year’s AFC Championship meeting between he and Patriot’s quarterback Tom Brady said this…

Tom Brady has just been an outstanding quarterback … but the game next week is the Broncos and the Patriots. It will be a battle between two good teams — teams that have been through a lot, have overcome a lot to get to this point and that’s where my focus will be: trying to help the Broncos get a win against the Patriots.

Wow! Here is a guy who has had an amazing year, and is arguably one of the greatest players to ever play the game. If anyone deserves the “right” to toot his own horn, it would be Mr. Manning. Among other records he currently holds, he holds the records for the most passing yards, as well as most touchdowns thrown, in a single season. Yet, in spite of his accomplishments, Mr. Manning has not lost sight of the fact that football is a team sport…

You win as a team. You lose as a team.

And at the end of the day, for the true champion, it all comes down to two things: You love the game, and you love the guys on your team.

So how much more the Body of Christ?

In HIS body, there can be room for only One head, only One superstar. The Bible does not state that “they will know we are Christians by the size of our church, the popularity of our pastor, or the hipness of our worship team. Jesus “gave away the playbook” when He said…

By this everyone will know that you are my disciples,
if you love one another. ~ John 13:35

Following His playbook means a team “game plan” of love… no special formulas, no secret codes, no strategies named after cities in Nebraska… just love.

A love that puts the needs of others before our own needs.

A love that obeys the Master’s call for unconditional sacrifice.

A love that lays everything down for the sake of the Body.

To paraphrase what Paul stated in I Corintians 13… “Without love, we are nothing.”

The team built on the foundation of Christ’s love wins… every time.

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.