Tag Archive | Vince Lombardi

Faith for the Finale

Think about this…

Would you run a marathon — leading the entire way by a mile — only to sit down at the end, 5 feet short of the finish line?

Would you finish Rachmaninoff: Symphony No. 2 in E minor with a pianissimo oboe solo?

Would you compete for an entire season — going undefeated for all of it — only to refuse to come out of the locker room for the championship game?

vince_lombardi_bart_starrFor many of us who are sports fans, we just witnessed a historic event. In Super Bowl LI, we watched as the New England Patriots — who were down by 25 points at halftime — came back to win the Vince Lombardi Trophy for the 5th time in a stunning overtime defeat of the Atlanta Falcons. Never before had a team overcome more than a 10-point deficit in the Super Bowl. Never before had “The Big Game” gone into overtime. When the New England Patriots came out of the locker room for the 3rd quarter, it looked like it was all but over. I had friends who actually turned off the game because it looked like such a blowout. “On to other things.” So what happened?

Well, one of the things that the commentators kept saying was “how young the Atlanta Falcons were”… How young they were…. How quick they were… How much older the Patriots were. Yet for all of their youth and exuberance, it seems that they lacked the one thing that the Patriots did have: Focus. During the second half, the Patriots stayed focused on winning. They stayed focused on the task at hand. They kept their eyes on the prize. Whether it was blown coverages or senseless penalties, the Atlanta Falcons went from a team hungry to win to a team trying not to lose. Somehow, they lost sight of the hard-fought lessons that got them to Houston. They had the motivation and energy to make it to the championship, but lacked the grit and determination to get them across the finish line.

The entire human race is running full-throttle toward the edge of eternity. So even though prophets, preachers, seers, and scholars have been discussing the Last Days  and The Day of the Lord for over 2,000 years, how should we live now.. today? What should our mindset be in 2017? Should we be filled with fear or faith?

Among the customs of some Native American people was a ritual of a young man passing into adulthood. He would be taken out into a place away from the community; he would then be blindfolded and left in that spot all night. He was not to remove the blindfold until the morning came and the sunlight began to shine through the blindfold. So all night, he was in that place, feeling alone and isolated… unsure of his surroundings and what potential threats waited for him, unseen because of the blindfold.

Well, I am sure you can imagine his surprise when, upon removing the blindfold at morning’s light, he found himself surrounded by his kinsmen — his father and uncles. Though he may have struggled with the fear of loneliness and the unknown, there was never a moment when he was not being watched over by his elders, who remained just out of reach and by his side the entire night.

Just like the young brave was never abandoned by those who loved him, so we are never abandoned by a loving Heavenly Father who never lets us out of His sight.

It is that unwavering attention to His children that allows us to run the race, and have Faith for the Finale.

At Abba’s House, I have just begun a series of messages by the same title…

Faith for the Finale.

I want to encourage you to join us, whether in person or online, as I take you through the steps and mindset that it takes to be an overcomer in adversarial times, and what YOU need to do in order to finish well the race set before you.

See you Sunday.

Pastor Ron

The Super Bowl & The Ultimate Underdog

Wow! It was a game for the record books!

Football in grassNo team has won a Super Bowl in such dramatic fashion; coming back from such a 25-point-deficit at the half. No quarterback or coach has won as many Super Bowls. No Super Bowl had ever gone into overtime before.

Just like every other year for the past 50, another Super Bowl has passed into the history books. Kudos to both the Atlanta Falcons and the New England Patriots for playing such a great and hard-fought game. Congratulations to Robert Kraft and his Patriots for coming out on top, and being the Super Bowl LI champions. Once again, the Vince Lombardi Trophy will make its way to Foxborough, MA.

All of the excitement of the day reminds me of the words of the man himself — Vince Lombardi…

Once you agree upon the price you and your family must pay for success, it enables you to ignore the minor hurts, the opponent’s pressure, and the temporary failures.

So as Christians, what is the cost of living the Christian life in a world that — in most cases — neither welcomes, appreciates, or respects us? What is the price we are called to pay?

The answer…

We are called to come and die.

The Apostle Paul summed it up when he said…

“I am crucified with Christ…” ~ Galatians 2:20a

We are called to die to our self-interest for the sake of something greater.

We are called to die to our sin.

We are called to die to our worldly desires.

We are called to die to ourselves.

With respect to the world, we are called to be the ultimate underdogs.

However, it is though that death that Jesus can live through us, giving us a life more abundant that we could ever imagine.

So, ask yourself this…

Are you a living sacrifice that is acceptable to God, or are you a living sacrifice that keeps crawling off of the altar?

What price are you willing to pay for the One who paid it all for you?

#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.

Be Excellent!

Looking Glass

Pat Riley, former coach of the Los Angeles Lakers, knows something about excellence. Having won one NBA Championship as a player, and five as a coach (four with the Lakers, and one with the Miami Heat), he had this to say about excellence…

Excellence is the gradual result of always striving to do better.

People who rest on their laurels or believe their own press seldom achieve little more than fleeting success. Those who reach a point at which they become satisfied with their past accomplishments, and rest on past glory are usually left on the shoulder on the highway of progress, and soon become spectators of this Great Race we call Life. Those who spend their lives working for the applause of others are foreign to the loneliness of what it means to be a pioneer, or are unfamiliar with the solitude that comes from being on the cutting edge.

It’s the NBA star who was once the 12-year-old kid, shooting countless free-throws in his driveway.

It’s the inventor who went through hundreds (or thousands) of failed designs before he found the one that worked.

It’s the musician who practiced for thousands of hours in an empty room before playing the first note in a concert before thousands.

It’s the medical professional, who spent lonely years studying what it means to hold life in their hands.

As Christians, we are held to a higher standard…

      Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me. Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. ~ Philippians 3:12-14

      And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance; for you serve the Lord Christ. But he who does wrong will be repaid for what he has done, and there is no partiality.. ~ Colossians 3:23-25

Paul shows us that his goal was to keep moving forward, that there is a prize that awaits those who diligently follow after Jesus. Paul makes it clear that excellence is a constant journey that is only achieved by continually moving forward. As believers in Christ, our excellence should be evident to all, for it stands to echo into eternity.

The great Vince Lombardi once said…

Perfection is not attainable, but if we chase perfection we can catch excellence.

If perfection is our goal, than excellence is within reach.

However, if “good enough” is our standard of success, then we will survive in a nondescript existence of mediocrity and obscurity.

I just think the King of Glory is worthy of more than that… don’t you?

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.

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.