Archive for January, 2012

The Attitude of An Athlete (Part 1)

Posted: January 20, 2012 by Ricky Keeler in Sports Devotionals

This is a guest post from one of my great friends at Life In Christ Ministries, George Ippolito!

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. (1 Corinthians 9:24-27)

Earlier in this chapter Paul explained both the rights he has as an apostle of Christ (vs.1-14), and his desire to leave those rights unclaimed for the sake of the Gospel. For example, though he had the freedom to receive financial support from those to whom he ministered (vs.7-14), he chose to forego that right, and extend himself in whatever way he could for the sake of the Corinthians and the ministry of the Gospel. He knew such sacrifice would not be without reward (as we’ll see) and in verses 19 through 23 he shows how he vigorously pursued that prize, becoming all things to all men that he might by all means save some (vs.22-23).

To illustrate this rigorous pursuit he uses the example of an athlete, and today we’ll look at the first attitude we’re exhorted to have.

1. Run to win (vs.24). Paul writes, “Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? Run in a such a way that you may obtain it“. Paul begins by asking the question, “Do you not know?”; the presumption is that the people of Corinth knew exactly what Paul was referring to; namely the Greek foot races.  In the Greek competitions there could be only one winner, and those who competed did so to win. For the Christian, however, ”the prize” is available to every believer, as signified by Paul’s use of the second person plural form of “you” in addressing all of the Corinthian Church.

It’s worth noting that the prize Paul is referring to here is not salvation.

Salvation is a free gift received by grace, through faith, in the person and work of Jesus Christ (Eph 2:8-9; Rom 3:21-26).

Being that Paul has been writing about his ministry as an apostle, the prize in this context refers to the rewards he may or may not receive in addition to his salvation. It’s quite a humbling thought to think that the God who is so gracious as to extend to us the free gift of salvation then offers us additional eternal rewards as well. What an amazing, gracious God!

As you consider, and meditate upon on 1 Corinthians 9:24, in awe of God’s gracious love, may you be exhorted in the following ways:

  • Run! Resist the temptation to walk, sit on the sidelines, or at worst, quit. The time for resting will come and you, along with many from the north, south, east and west will sit with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of God (Mt 8:11). But for now, maintain forward progress. Be steadfast, and abound in the work of the Lord (1 Cor 15:58). Be swift to hear, swift to repent, quick to build up, and quick to forgive. Abide in Christ, and follow hard after Him to know Him in the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings (Phil 3:10). The Apostle Paul, under divine inspiration gave us this command, to “run”… and run in such a way as to win.
  • Exhort, not envy, the other runners. We’re called to run the race that is marked out for us (Heb 12:1); we are not to compete with other Christians. There will be those in the body of Christ who are faster, and those who are slower, but regardless of the capacity or giftedness you have (i.e. the parable of the talents) you and I can receive the prize by faithfully running the race set before us.
  • Keep running! There will come times when you will think to yourself, something like, “I don’t know what happened…. I was running well but I feel like I’ve dropped out of the race.” When those moments come may you repent, turn your eyes upon Jesus, and put your hope in the LORD! Those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary (Is 40:31). Hallelujah! Keep striving to serve Christ and His Church! Keep on pursuing purity! Keep persisting in prayer! Keep desiring intimacy with your Savior!  In a simple phrase… “Keep running”.

The Conventional Christian

Posted: January 19, 2012 by Ricky Keeler in NFL

(Photo Credit: AP File Photo)

Now that the Tim Tebow story is over, the question has buzzed around in two parts. The first question is whether a quarterback like Tebow can be successful long-term in the NFL. The second question is whether or not he will be the starter for the Denver Broncos when the season begins in September. Two stories have come out on Tebow lately involving both of these concerns.

The first story came on Monday when Denver’s vice president of football operations, John Elway, came out and said Tebow would be the starter, but only entering training camp. Elway did say Tim made strides and would work with him in the offseason. However, to most media members, it does not sound like Tebow is the guy and sounds more similar to what Denver did last year in saying Tebow was the guy only to make Kyle Orton the starter right at the onset of training camp.

The second story came yesterday in what was revealed about Tebow during that loss to the Patriots. In the 2nd half of a 45-10 loss, it was said he finished the game with torn cartilage in his first rib, a bruised lung, and a fluid buildup in his pleural cavity. That must really hurt, but through all this, Tebow still remains humble and honoring the Lord with his play. Here are his comments about what Elway said on Monday.

“It’s a great honor to be a quarterback for the Denver Broncos,I take that very seriously. I’m very excited about this offseason and I can’t wait to get to work and get better.” – Tebow’s comments to The Denver Post.”

To a lot of people, they want to see Tebow more vocal and demand that he should be the starting quarterback next year. That is just not his personality and he will work hard in the offseason to prove he is the long-term man for the Broncos. However, I want to focus on people criticizing him because he is not a conventional quarterback. He shatters the mold, and people do not seem to think that can last.

This reminded me about a Bible Study my friend gave me on Paul’s epistle to the Galatians. In this letter, Paul addressed an issue in the churches of Galatia  involving people known as “Judaizers”. The false teachers taught that salvation was not only through believing in Jesus as their Lord and Savior, but also through keeping the works of the Law and being circumcised. With that being the overarching issue in the epistle, the Apostle draws a contrast between walking in the Spirit by faith and walking in the flesh by works in the fifth chapter.

There he talks about walking with the Spirit and how people can see the evidence of God living inside of us as the Holy Spirit brings forth certain fruits; fruits that are characteristic traits of the conventional Christian.

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.” (Galatians 5:22-23)

And while these fruits are to be found in the conventional Christian, they shatter the mold of conventional behavior we find in the world. The things that the world endorses can be found in a list right before the one above (see Gal 5:19-21).

Today, I exhort you to become a conventional Christian. I know there is great temptation to do the works of the flesh, but nonetheless, if God’s Spirit dwells in us He will put us in situations where He wants us to show forth these fruits of the Spirit; after all, it’s to His glory. Not to mention, it can provide us with opportunities to show people that the way to salvation is not through good works, but only through believing that Jesus Christ is our Lord and Savior. It is great to not be like everyone else, but it’s more important that we please God in what we do. That’s conventional Christianity and an outworking of believing the Gospel of grace.

So You’re Saying There’s A Chance

Posted: January 9, 2012 by Ricky Keeler in NFL

(Photo Credit: Chris Schneider/AP)

After Tim Tebow and the Denver Broncos lost their final regular season game 7-3 to the Kansas City Chiefs last Sunday, most people said they had no chance to win against the defending AFC champion Pittsburgh Steelers. People said that #15 was not and should not be the starting quarterback when Denver goes into the 2012 season. See, the problem with that logic is that the Broncos were not done with their 2011 season.

In the first game with the new overtime rules, the Fighting Tim Tebows, as I like to call them, won on a 80 yard touchdown pass to Demaryius Thomas on the first play of overtime for a 29-23 win. Tebow was 10-21 for 316 yards and three total touchdowns in the upset victory. We learned last year from the Seattle Seahawks that as long as you make the playoffs, any team has a chance to beat anyone on any given Sunday. Now, the Broncos face another tough task as they will head up to Foxboro to take on the New England Patriots.

It got me to think about tasks that we deem impossible in our daily life. Time and time again, people are going to say you have no chance to be successful at something. Whether it is a career goal, your education, etc., there are going to be doubters that say you cannot succeed. As I am reading Through My Eyes, I have realized that Tim Tebow has been hearing he cannot be a quarterback ever since his high school coach wanted him to be a linebacker because of what he called “position by stereotype”.

Before the game, I read the verse that Tim Tebow tweeted and put on his Facebook Wall. Ironically, the verse is the exact same verse that we use as our Mission Statement here at Jesus N Sports.

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.” (Hebrews 12:1-2)

This was a great verse choice to describe the fact that if we look to Jesus and to the cross, we can have the belief in our hearts as Christians that the Lord is with us and nothing is impossible with the Lord. Now, while God causes all things to work together after the counsel of His will (Eph 1:11) we don’t imagine Him to be whimsically tinkering with scoreboards across the globe as though He were some kind of fan. God’s ultimate priority, and appropriately so, is His own glory. If it were not, He’d put something above Himself, which He we know is impossible.

However, the Father does have His children’s best interests in mind, even though it might not seem like the best interest for us at the time or something does not come as quick to us as we hope. The Lord continues to raise people up when it is ultimately His will and not necessarily ours.

“but they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength;  they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary;  they shall walk and not faint.” (Isaiah 40:31)

Today, I exhort you to run the race and do not stop just because someone tells you that it is not the normal thing to do or that you cannot do something Just continue to look to the Lord and He will bring you the strength to do things that you could not do if you did not put your trust in the Almighty Father. As we continue to watch the run the Denver Broncos are on in the playoffs, continue to realize that people may tell you that you cannot throw, or that you do not fit the conventional mold, or because you believe in the Lord you don’t fit in with the status quo, but continue to pray for strength and wisdom from the Lord because He ALWAYS answers prayer!

Encouraging Other Brothers And Sisters

Posted: January 6, 2012 by Ricky Keeler in NFL

(Photo Credit: Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)

The storyline that is buzzing around the National Football League this week is Tim Tebow and the Denver Broncos. Denver lost each of its last three games and “backed in” to the AFC West division title and a home playoff game with the Pittsburgh Steelers. All the national pundits are saying that Tebow and company have no chance to win this game and that he should not be the starter in 2012. Now, the criticism on his faith has risen higher than ever because of the recent struggles compared to the amount of great complements he was getting when he won seven of his first eight starts in 2011.

An example in my mind comes this week when I was watching ESPN First Take. The main debater on the show is Skip Bayless, who has been a Tebow supporter and is not afraid to show it. The show had Baltimore Ravens’ linebacker Terrell Suggs talking about his take on the controversial quarterback, particularly his praying on the sidelines or as others call it “Tebowing”

With all due respect, we don’t pray on the sideline,” Suggs said. “I mean we do — we give it up to God [just for] safety and health, but we’re gonna go out there and win that game. We don’t need our kicker to make a 62-yarder [like Denver’s Matt Prater]. I’m just saying. We don’t need guys to fall out of bounds and then we get to punt it back … we don’t need stuff like that to happen for us.”

The problem I have with Suggs’ comments is that God does not determine who wins and loses football games. Tebow even talks about that in his book, which we will get into in the coming weeks. Even when Tebow was mic’d up during the Bears game, you can hear him pray to the Lord asking to bring honor to His Lord and Savior Jesus Christ in victory or defeat. A loss in a football game is not going to let him down fully because He knows that we have victory in Jesus when we accept Him as our Savior.

Instead of bringing down Tebow, we as brothers and sisters in Christ need to continue to pray for him and encourage him in any chance we get. I know a great page that does that. A friend of mine on Twitter made a page called Praying For Tebow which allows people to post their prayers and encouraging words for the quarterback. I will put the link below so all of you can check it out:

http://www.facebook.com/?ref=logo#!/pages/Praying-for-Tebow/192605640831378

A verse that came to my mind this week comes from the book of Hebrews. The writer of the book tells us But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called “today,” that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.” (Hebrews 3:13).

We have to understand that Tim Tebow is in the public light with every move that he makes and every word he says. That is why we should come together as brothers and sisters and continue to pray that the Lord guide his steps and lead him away from temptation. I had a dilemma a few weeks ago when the Patriots played the Broncos because I am a Patriots’ fan, but I am also a Tebow supporter. The night before the game, I still prayed for Tebow to play his best and to honor the Lord whether it was in victory or defeat. He played well in that game in a Broncos’ loss.

From an off-the-field standpoint, encouragement is essential to any Christian’s life, particularly in fellowship. I know when I go to Bible Study or church, I feel the love of my fellow brothers and sisters and it helps me to do the things that my Lord wants me to do. Another verse tells us in the book of Hebrews that we should never neglect one another, but continue to encourage!

“And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.”(Hebrews 10:24-25)

Today, I exhort you to do the things that the writer of Hebrews says in the verse above. Continue to meet with your fellow brothers and sisters whether it’s a Bible Study, church service, or just going out for coffee and talking about the Gospel. Any encouragement you give helps to strengthen the body of Christ!

Update For 2012

Posted: January 6, 2012 by Ricky Keeler in 2012

(Photo Credit: Harper-Collins Publishing)

First off, I want to thank all of our readers and subscribers for reading each of our posts for the months we were active in 2011. Now that the New Year  is here, we hope to bring you more interviews, devotions, and more sports/faith news to make you think about your faith and encourage you in your journey in Christ  With this post, I want to say what we have planned in the weeks to come here at Jesus N Sports:

  1. For Christmas, I received Tim Tebow’s autobiography “Through My Eyes”, I can tell you that I have not been able to put it down. That is how great a read it has been. When I finish the book, I hope to bring you guys a book review as well as lessons I learned from the book about faith to help bring encouragement to all of you because this book has encouraged me in my walk of faith.
  2. We are looking for new writers. We want to keep the site active, but there are times where John and I are busy with the schedules we have. If you would like to write with us, send me an email (Rickinator555@aol.com) along with some samples that you have done that tie in with the site’s mission statement at the top of the page.
  3. More devotions – The goal we came up with for the site was to take top sports stories and bring a spiritual element to them. We thank all of you for the kind words we have received about these pieces and hope to bring more of them to you this year.

All in all, we hope you all have a great 2012 and are blessed in your pursuit of knowing, loving, and serving the Lord Jesus Christ. Whatever gifts and abilities God has granted you, we hope 2012 will be a year of fruitfulness for you as you steward those gifts to serve God and serve people.

We do this site to serve the Lord with our writing and broadcasting abilities and this site exists, ultimately, for one primary purpose:

To Honor the Lord!!!

“Oh, give thanks to the LORD, for He is good! For His mercy endures forever.” (Psalm 107:1)