Archive for February, 2012

Two Weeks of Linsanity: Give It All To The Lord

Posted: February 25, 2012 by Ricky Keeler in NBA

(Photo Credit: Frank Franklin II / AP)

Being a New Yorker and a writer on this blog, people have asked me as of late to give my take on the recent events of Linsanity. New York Knicks’ point guard Jeremy Lin has taken the basketball world by storm on and off the court.

On the court, Lin has been the answer the Knicks have been looking for. In 11 starts this season, the former Harvard guard has averaged 22 points and about nine assists per game. He has been able to flourish in head coach Mike D’Antoni’s high-octane system. The pick-and-roll has been thriving at Madison Square Garden. New York has turned from a team searching for answers to a team with a fan base thinking about the possible potential of this team to make a playoff run come May and maybe even June.

Off-the-court, Lin has been living for Christ with his play and giving it all up to the Lord. For example, the Linsanity hit a bump in the road Thursday night after New York lost to the top team in the East, the Miami Heat, 102-88. Lin played the worst game of his NBA career with just eight points and three assists. He also made just one shot from the floor in eleven attempts and turned the ball over seven times. Miami made him frustrated with their quick defensive schemes and the stealing ability of Mario Chalmers in the back court.

After the game, Lin met the media and one question he answered made me say Praise God! It was towards the end of the press conference when two reporters asked him, Is there anything you would say about all of this that is too much or too heavy for you?

Lin replied “No, in my mind, it’s very clear what I want to do. I’m okay without the headlines. I try to focus on my team, playing for God”

Then another reporter replied “How are you able to hold it together?”

Lin:“ I don’t hold on to it. I surrender it to God and give it up to Him! Let everything outside of my control be what it may be.”

When thinking back about the past six months and the two prominent athletes in the media, Lin and Broncos’ quarterback Tim Tebow, I stop and just want to praise the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ for putting these people here to spark conversation not just about sports, but about faith in general. We see these athletes go through adversity and people saying they can’t succeed, but they don’t let any of it go to their heart because they know with the Lord, nothing is impossible! (Matthew 19:26)

In an interview that Lin did with a Taiwanese Evangelical Christian channel, GoodTV, Lin talks about his favorite Bible verse and how it reflects the struggles he has gone through in his life, whether it was being cut by two NBA teams or getting no athletic scholarships in college. The verse he shares that is his favorite is Romans 5:3-5.

In this chapter, Paul writes “Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.”

(Romans 5:3-5 ESV)

This verse speaks out to me because I take a look at my life and realize that everyone goes through struggles. Whether it is finding a job, getting through school, an addiction, or even struggling with faith, the Lord puts us in these positions so that we may find hope in Him! If you put your faith in the Lord, He will guide your steps and in time, His will for your life will come into fruition.

It is easy for our faith to be weakened in the Lord because we may not get the results from our prayers and petitions right away or there is a temptation that we feel we cannot overcome.

Today, however, I exhort you to look into the first book to the Corinthians, which is one of my favorite books of the Bible and take a look at Chapter 10. In this chapter, the apostle Paul takes a look at the power of the Lord and how He would not put us in a position to fail.

“No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.” (1 Corinthians 10:13)

This verse has made me think that even though the weight of the world is on our shoulders and we have too many hats in different places, so to speak, the Lord will provide us a way and an opening to get out of it and return to Him! I pray today that in times of struggle, you will continue to look to the Lord and realize that whatever problem you may face, God is with you ALWAYS. Keeping the faith strong is the most important part to overcoming temptation, so keep that trust that Jesus knows what’s best for you and continue to stay patient and pray for His will to enter into your life.

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Wells Thompson: Scoring A Goal With The Gospel

Posted: February 22, 2012 by Ricky Keeler in Interviews, MLS

(Photo Credit: Harry How/Getty Images North America)

A couple of weeks ago, I asked Wells Thompson, a midfielder from the Colorado Rapids if he wanted to answer some questions for me about Major League Soccer, but most importantly, his faith in the Lord. I am not the biggest soccer fan in the world, but this interview not only helped me learn more about the game, but gave me great words of encouragement to carry with me while on my walk with Christ! We prayed on the phone afterwards and it was just great to find someone in another sport who shares the Gospel on the field and is honoring God with that performance.

Let me give you some background on Wells before I share his answers with you:

Thompson grew up in Winston-Salem, North Carolina and played his college soccer at nearby Wake Forest University. He was drafted in the first round with the fifth pick by the New England Revolution in 2007. He won an Eastern Conference Championship during his three years there. In January of 2010, Thompson was dealt to his current team, the Colorado Rapids in a four player deal. In his time with the Rapids, Thompson has scored five total goals and has been part of a team in 2010 that won the MLS Cup, the most prestigious team title in American soccer.

Now to the questions both about soccer and the Christian Faith:

1. How did you come to know the Lord?

Wells:  I grew up in the church of North Carolina in the Bible belt.  My Parents were believers. I Gave my life to Christ as a young kid. When I was young, I got involved in church with his brother and sister. However, I ddn’t personally do it till junior in college when I went to mission trip in Dominican Republic with his friends. I didn’t fully realize what God did for us till about age 21 and 22.

2. Who are your Christian role models? How did they help you on your walk?

W:  I didn’t think living for Christ was cool. When I was a kid, I started to experiment with stuff at a young age. I got involved with drugs and alcohol. This made my parents send to a school for troubled teens in upstate New York (Family Foundation School). My role models are recent guys like Tim Tebow and how he lives his life as an athlete for Christ. There are so many examples of people who don’t live for God today. It is so awesome to have a guy like Tebow who stands up for what he believes in and he is anointed by the Lord. I wear number 15 just like Tebow.Another role model is  Billy Graham, being from North Carolina. He has done so much for the Kingdom. My family members have extremely importat – blest with 2 Christian loving parents that have stuck with him through thick and thin. My extended family as well – his cousins, aunts and uncles.

3. How has the platform God gave you helped you to honor Him more?

W: When I do interviews and appearances, it feels like a reality check. I get a chance to praise the Lord because He makes me what I am today. God gives us all a platform. I convey to kids that I’m not any more special because I gets paid to play soccer. We are all special in his eyes whether you are a janitor, hotel maid, or a soccer player. Everyone has a circle of influence that they can use God in their lives. Only true to living when we use what God has blessed us with to His glory. I listened to Tebow when he was asked how he influences teammates. He answered it was more about the actions in his life. If you don’t live what you say, people aren’t going to pay attention. I give back, ad love one another whether it is serving in Africa, Nicaragua, and local Denver community. You can be a missionary to everyone, whether its people at soccer field or people at grocery store.

4. What verse in the Bible has stuck the most out to you during your walk?

W: John 3:30 (“He must increase, but I must decrease.”)I put that on my  heart and my wife’s heart. I opened up my first soccer camp this past offseason. As a professional athlete, you can be elevated in society and people listen to you because you get paid to play a sport. God gives me that verse to help keep him humble to say that it is not about Wells Thompson. It is not for my own personal gain or self-righteous reason, but to help others and use what he has given me for good. Whether it is through soccer or relationships through soccer, Jesus Christ is in all and IS ALL! People upstate say how proud of me they are, but I tell them it is all about Jesus and He gets all the glory.

5. What advice would you give people who are trying to find the Lord?

W: We claim things with our mouth and don’t live them out with our actions. We are going to relapse because we are not perfect. People that aren’t believers, it goes back to being with Christ is a relationship, not a religion. Jesus Christ loves us and it is not because of anything that we have done. We sometimes fall into ideas that we have to do certain things to be loved by Jesus. If we just keep Jesus into the focal point of everything, we will be okay. My advice is Talk to the Lord and PRAY! If I have believers in my life, talk to them and discuss the faith with them.  Always tell people about Jesus and what he’s done for you, but only use words when necessary. Christ is different! People take notice when you live for Christ! Why do you have joy amidst trials? What I’ve learned is we can get in Jesus’ way by talking too much. He just wants us to be there to love someone. Open your eyes and the Lord is everywhere!

There are people of all faith on the Colorado Rapids – times after practice, teammates will ask me about Dinosaurs and things. Just because I believe what Bible says, doesn’t mean that I know everything. It helps me to learn more about the faith and to study. You are always living and learning in the faith because it’s a process and a journey! Sometimes, we need to shut up and listen.

6. Not a lot of people in the USA are into soccer.  Can you convince them on why they should give the MLS a chance?

W: The MLS gets better and better every year. David Beckham has been awesome for the league. Thierry Henry is here, one of the best attackers in the world. Soccer is getting better. MLS has been a top quality league, but it is second fiddle in America to all the other sports. You can’t blow it off here anymore because of the level of talent. It has peaked, especially if you live in a MLS city. Every kid has played soccer and there is a drop off when they get into high school. There are a lot of big name guys and whole lot of people are into it. One of those players is our captain, defensive midfielder Pablo Mastroeni.

7. What was your immediate reaction after you won the MLS Cup in 2010?

W: I Won the US Open Cup in his rookie year. We went to the MLS Cup championship that year and lost. It is what you work for in your whole life. A lot of people don’t get the opportunity. I was ecstatic and had one of those feelings you can’t describe.  There are several brothers on the team and we meet for a Bible Study. I met with our team chaplain after the title game and got down on one knee with friend Jamie Smith, a teammate from Scotland. I talked about how awesome it was, but it pales in comparison to being in heaven with the Lord and experiencing that glory. In worldly terms, it is what we look for. Athletes count on these titles to fulfill them, but they aren’t fulfilling. It doesn’t define who you are on a person. Life is not about winning or losing! People get caught up in how much sports play a factor in our lives.

8. What is the one thing you are looking to improve on this season?

W: Not trying to re-discover the game, but trying to get better. I am working on my weaker foot. When you get older, 6th year in the league, you have to work on the mental side of the game. I have to believe in myself and living out the faith that I claim to have on the soccer field. There are games I don’t play the whole game in or don’t start or don’t make a contribution, but I have to continue to work hard in practice and believe in myself. We have a new coach this year. Oscar {Oscar Pareja} is a great guy and we are changing our formations. I have to Figure out my role in the new system and adjust to it.

9.      What should we expect from the Colorado Rapids in 2012?

W: I am a blue-collar player. When people line up against me, I’m going to give it everything I got. This defines the attitude of the team. We have that skill and the coach instills in us to have an attacking style to the game. This is a style that Americans would enjoy more because it puts the opposing team under more high pressure. The team is balanced.  Our Goalkeeper is a veteran for nine years. On the back line (Marvel Wynn), could be running back in the NFL. Our best defender is Drew Moore – Wynn and Moore have a great partnership. Our captain Pablo Mastrani, who has played in 2 World Cups is35-36 years old but he is phenomenal. Midfielder Jeff Larentowicz  was traded to Colorado with me from the New England Revolution. Injuries hurt uslast year. Omar Cummings, one of their best goalscorers, is a humble person and ready to play. There are a lot of new players who need that chance from the coach, but there are a lot of players who won the title from 2010 still on the team.  We are very confident in this team!

The Rapids begin their season on March 10th against the Columbus Crew. We, at Jesus N Sports, wish Wells the best of luck this year and that pray that the Lord continues to strengthen him in his quest to honor Jesus Christ in everything he does.

Christian Garrett (Photo: KU Sports)

“KU, there is no better place to play basketball.”

Besides playing basketball, loving God and living every day with a godly perspective is what Christian Garrett does at Kansas University.  A freshman guard originally from Los Angeles, California, Christian went to school at IMG Academies in Bradenton, Florida, his senior year. He played his sophomore year at Campbell Hall High in North Hollywood, California, and his junior season at Stone Ridge Prep in Tarzana, California. Christian joined the KU team last year on January 21, 2010.

Christian credits God with bringing him to Kansas University. In the fall of 2010, while still at IMG, he sought a school where he could start early, begin working out, and get better prepared for the game. Christian had scholarship offers from Alabama, North Carolina State and Harvard, but when he had the opportunity to visit KU, he felt that God led him to this place. It was a big step of faith from a young man from California, but for Christian it has been an extraordinary experience. Christian knew that KU’s program was one of the top in history of sports; however, until he visited the campus he didn’t realize what being a Jayhawk all is about.

Christian said, “Playing for the Jayhawks is awesome. The coaching staff is great, the environment is great, everyone works hard, and the fans love it.”

Lawrence is home away from home for Christian, as his mother Cynthia Garrett moved there with him. He stated that the difference between LA and Lawrence is that Kansas people are friendlier.  Also, he likes the area where Lawrence and Kansas City are located.

Having been taken to church at an early age by his mother who was strong in her own faith, Christian grew up a Christian.  Though he attended church from childhood, he didn’t actually comprehend what it was all about until he got older. During his junior year of High School, Christian started getting closer to God, began understanding more about Him, and realized the importance of living a Christian life.  It was then that he rededicated his life to God and began his spiritual growth. “There is so much to learn, and its unsearchable how much there is to know right in front of you.” Through continued studies of the boundless riches of Christ, he has continued to mature in his spiritual walk with the Lord.

Though it was his mother who introduced him to church, the one who inspired him and instilled faith in him was his step-father, Roger Charles. Christian talked about his step-dad’s spiritual journey, and how God put him there to answer Christian’s questions and to guide him in the right way.  “At the same time you have to credit God, the way he puts people or situations in your life, that you see his hand on you the whole time.” While his step-dad greatly influenced his earlier spiritual growth, both parents continue to encourage him in his walk with Christ.  Christian also gives credit to the Lord for having his hand on him.

“As I grow, all I can see is that it is all Him leading it.”

In Kansas City, Missouri, Christian attends IHOP, not the International House of Pancakes but the International House of Prayer. IHOP has been an enormous blessing for Christian since he came to KU.

In Calabasas, California, Christian attended True Love Worship Center where Mark Jackson, the coach of the Golden State Warriors, is the minister. Christian had attended there since his junior year of High School when he sincerely began living his life for the Lord.

As a child, Christian placed more emphasis on sports and less on faith, often choosing athletics over God. When he began to mature spiritually, God opened up his heart and transformed him.   He gave his life to God and got his priorities straight in all aspects of his life.  While growing up, sports were chosen before God, but now they go hand in hand.

Personally, being a Christian athlete is not hard for Christian. His teammates know that he is a Christian.  But, more importantly, they know that he doesn’t just say he is a Christian, they recognize that he lives his life for Jesus. “I have been showing some fruit of doing what I should be doing.” Christian seeks to be a light to his teammates and to be obedient to what the Lord wants him to do.  “We are all just one big family, which is awesome.”

In some ways, basketball was like an idol, but God used it to turn Christian’s life to Him. Through basketball, Christian’s faith has grown. On and off the court, Christian lives his life the same way. He constantly strives to walk with the Spirit and to be obedient to what God is saying. “There is so much throughout the day that God wants to get done, wants to speak to you about, and wants to be  involved in.” Christian wants to show his love for God in every possible way. “I just want to love God with all my heart, soul, mind, and all my strength.” In the past, being on the bench and playing little in a game would have been tough for Christian, but now he has a different mindset. He focuses on God, His purposes, and what He is doing in Christian’s life. “God has a plan for everything.  He led us here, and I don’t have to worry about that.  It all takes care of itself.”

While visiting with him, Christian taught me that I need to keep a godly perspective on all facets of my life. Christian is an example for all of us to love God with everything we have and to keep our focus on Him every step of our journey.  For any Christian athlete, it is hard to live a Christian life with temptations all around you.  “Temptation is always there because of the world we live in, but as you are focused on the Lord there’s no time to even take notice of it.”  The greatest weapon against falling into temptation is prayer. Prior to each game, Christian prays and reads the Bible. He spends the time getting his mind right and focusing on Jesus. Also, before every game, the entire team prays together and repeats the Lord’s Prayer, a tradition at KU.  Moreover, they get together to pray when other challenges arise.  With all of them focused on Jesus, they will grow both individually and as a team.

FOE, Family Over Everything, is the motto of the Jayhawks. They are one big family, one that works hard and one always together. “It’s kind of a big part of Kansas basketball, between the coaches, coaching staff, and everyone, and the players.” Kevin Young and Jeff Withey have a faith similar to Christian’s, and they often study the Bible together. Jordan Juenemann and Christian have been close from the beginning, crediting God with leading them in the same direction. Christian shares his faith with his all his teammates, and God has often used Christian’s parents in reaching out to the players, praying with them, helping them grow in their way of thinking, and aiding in their healing. God is most assuredly working in the lives of the KU players.

The most powerful verse that has empowered Christian in his walk is 1 John 4:9-10:

 “In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.”

“It is not a thing that we do, or set of rules, or a lifestyle, but it’s just a reality that God really does love us, each and every single one of us. How could you not show that love back?”  Knowing that love, and that it means is so much more than what the world says love is, has truly changed Christian’s life.  The power of that love has been huge for Christian.

Christian gave me three pieces of advice for my ten-year-old son who plays fourth grade basketball.  The most obvious one is to keep working hard, be committed, and stick to it.  Secondly, watch players in college, the NBA, and on Youtube or videos and study their style and how they shoot. The last but not least bit of advice is to talk to God and give everything over to Him. Ask God for guidance in all things and remain faithful to Him.  When I closed the interview with Christian, I realized that one day I want my son to see the love of God like Christian does. Christian is a remarkable young man who loves God with all of his heart, keeps a godly perspective on everything in his life, and still gets to play basketball for Kansas. He is an excellent example for me and for my sons. I appreciate Christian for taking time out of his busy schedule to share with me his spiritual journey. I’m also thankful for his mother who has inspired me and has prayed for me as well. She made one comment to me in a tweet the other day that really made me think. She said, “We are all just normal folk, and Jesus is the real star!” Well, Roger and Cynthia, you have a real star in Christian who is shining the real star, Jesus, in his life on the KU Campus.

PERSECUTION

Posted: February 1, 2012 by John D. Hayden in NFL, Sports Devotionals

TEBOWING (Photo: Spreadshirt.com)

            “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for they persecuted the prophets who were before me.” Matthew 5:10-12

 

Persecution has been around since the beginning of time. The word persecution comes from the word persecute which means to harass or oppress someone with ill-treatment because of their race, gender, religion or set of beliefs. Jesus in this passage talks about a specific type of persecution, to be persecuted for living for Christ and showing that faith wherever we go.

There are those around the world who every day are persecuted for being a Christian, for worshipping God, for studying the bible and for standing up for Jesus. There are those who risk their lives every day for righteousness. There even some countries that bible is not allowed and if someone gets caught with one they can be severely punished even killed. There are those who stand up for Christ even knowing that they might be killed.

It interesting to note that there are those who walk miles to go to worship and others who are so eager to learn about Christ that they will do anything it takes to do that. That’s the world around us, but how about here in America? Are we persecuted for what we believe in and for being Christians? We can study the bible anytime we want; it’s even on our phones. We can worship without being killed and we have cars to get us to worship. So why don’t we have this same passion as others who are persecuted do? Do we stand up for what we believe in knowing that there will be others laughing, mocking and asking us to stop? That might just be our friends.

This week there is a growing phenomenon that people everywhere are doing, it’s called Tebowing. Tebowing is named after Tim Tebow and it means to get down on a knee and start praying, even if everyone else around you is doing something completely different.  Some are mocking Tebow for his example of faith by doing this but Tebow was taking the description at face value. “It is serious, for me,” Tebow said. “At least it’s being talked about, and that’s a cool thing. If I can help be an example of that, then I look at that as a blessing.”

Are we willing to have that same type of attitude about Christ in our lives? Are we willing to be the ones who stand up for Christ when everyone around us is doing something completely different even if it means we will be persecuted? There is a reward for those who are persecuted, to Rejoice because great is your reward in heaven.

~John D. Hayden

WHAT IS REALLY IMPORTANT TO YOU?

Posted: February 1, 2012 by John D. Hayden in NFL, Sports Devotionals, Uncategorized

80 Yard Touchdown (Photo: Washington Post)

A few days ago, professional football fans saw one of the most exciting, improbable victories in its history climaxed by the stunning first play from scrimmage in overtime when Tebow hit Thomas for a playoff, overtime record 80 yards in a playoff, overtime record 11 seconds. Local play-by-play man Dave Logan’s call, which will likely go down in Bronco lore, captures how monumental it was for the underdog Denver team. If you watch ESPN, there will be several highlights of passes, runs, and defensive plays. However, without a doubt, the best play of the day happened up in the stands, almost on the front row in the seats at the 15 yard line. The game was tied, 23-23, and it was about 5:45 P.M. The outcome was completely unknown and very much in doubt. The last minute of regulation, alone, was a pins and needles affair. It was right about then that a Christian husband and father, a deacon in this congregation, told his son, “It’s time for us to go.” The son, a huge Tim Tebow and Broncos fan, was curious as to why. His dad explained, “We’ve got something more important to do.”

Wait a minute. What is more important than seeing on the biggest sports moments in this town in years? That father knew that the saints were assembling at 6:00 P.M., and he wanted his son to know that worshipping God was the highest priority. Here is a father who is raising his son to enjoy and appreciate those normal “guy things” that will be a source of entertainment for this young man for decades to come. But, he is also teaching him something infinitely more important! Those earthly diversions and entertainments are subordinate to “kingdom matters” (Mat. 6:33). This father was showing his son Who reigns on the throne of his heart. I pray that this man’s example will influence us all to remember what really matters most in the end.

Thanks, Dean! What a great “play”! by Neal Pollard

This article inspired me and made me ask myself the question, what is really important to me in my life? This father reminded me that worshipping God is more important than anything else I can do on a Sunday or Wednesday. There are so many times that we make everything else more important than our relationship with Christ. Here this father did the right thing even if they missed the best play in the game; he showed his son that God was so much more important than watching the Broncos win.

Is God reigning on the throne of our hearts or is success, money, sports, or anything else that we make more important reign there? What is really important to you? Is your salvation? Is your relationship with Christ? Is Worship, is bible class, is praying, and is studying God’s word important to you? We need to be examples to our kids and show them what should be important in our lives-Christ. This year let’s make Bible Class, Worship and our relationship with Christ more important than anything else we do. ~ John D. Hayden

Be Careful What You Say

Posted: February 1, 2012 by Ricky Keeler in NFL

(Photo Credit: Mark Humphrey/AP)

With the New York Giants and New England Patriots getting ready to kick off Super Bowl XLVI on Sunday, the media hype surrounding this week is starting to take full circle. Today, one of the events that took place was anticipated as one of the best places to get an interview. Yes, I am talking about Media Day!

I love Media Day because it is a great opportunity to hear from EVERY single player. Not only do you hear from Tom Brady, Eli Manning, or the big name players, but even the offensive lines, the kickers, and the punters get some love in this game. We always wait for the most hilarious comments and most random questions. For example, did somebody expect the reporter from the Mexican Television network to propose to Tom Brady in a wedding dress at the last Patriots-Giants Super Bowl? Probably not!

Even though it is only Tuesday, words from players and coaches are already being dissected. I am a Patriots’ writer and I live in the New York City area, so I had to hear constantly about the comments that Brady gave during New England’s pep rally talking about hopefully we will have more people at our victory rally next week. Each word is criticized to the point where it is tough to say any comment without providing “bulletin board material” for the other team.

As Christians, we need to avoid saying “bulletin board material” so that people can see that we bring glory to God in everything that we say and do. When we talk to someone about the Gospel, our tongues can be used for good, but as James suggests in his book, it can be used for evil as well.

“But no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison.  With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God.  From the same mouth come blessing and cursing.” (James 3:8-10)

Sometimes, we may want to say things that are not godly because we become overfilled with emotion. As a sports fan, when your team goes through a tough moment you may say things that you might regret. .  Let us rather heed the exhortation of Ephesians 4:29, which says:

“ Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers.

People will know we our Christians by seeing us share the love of Christ with others and big part of that display is by the way we speak. We need to remember it is just a game regardless of the hype and to remain humble in victory or defeat!

Speaking of humbleness, one of the players in the NFL who has been tested in that aspect this year is Patriots’ wide receiver Chad Ochocinco. Ocho was a guy who was never afraid to speak his mind with the Bengals and use his mouth for trash talking. Now, he is an afterthought with the Patriots with just fifteen catches. I was watching his interview with Deion Sanders and these quotes Ocho gave him to NFL Network stood out to me:

“If it was tough on me, emotionally draining, I think I would have spoke out as I did in the past. I took this as a challenge, as a lesson. I think it was a test from you-know-who upstairs. Will he be able to handle himself the right way in different circumstances when he’s not that guy, the main focal point? I think I did extremely well regardless of what everyone might say.”

From a Christian perspective, our tongues are extremely important. People will know we our Christians by seeing us share the love of Christ with others. Today, I exhort you to pray and pray diligently that the Holy Spirit give you the strength to use your voice and your tongue to glorify God! Chad talked about using Twitter as his podium in the interview. When we talk to others about the Lord, we are at the podium as a representative of the Body of Jesus Christ. Share the love with others while at the podium and speak the true Gospel message!

 

Competition vs Commitment

Posted: February 1, 2012 by John D. Hayden in Baseball, Sports Devotionals

Competition vs Commitment

It is very interesting to look at our society today especially in the sports world. There was a story this past week about a 7 year old girl, Anna Kimball, from Allen, TX who was asked to not play this season on her brother’s baseball team. The reason wasn’t just because she is a girl but the head coach wanted to take his team to a more competitive league that didn’t let girls play. So the question I have is, are we more about wining and competiveness in this world than we are about commitment. Are we all about winning on the court, on the field, in the work force, and in life itself? Don’t take me wrong I like to win and want my team to win as much as the next guy. I’m a Kansas Jayhawk fan and love to watch them win and hate when they lose. We are starting to teach our children at a young age that life is all about winning, scouring the last touchdown, scoring the last point, making the last run and getting the blue ribbon on our science project at school.

It is sad that this young girl who the coach says is a better player than her brother can’t play because to this new league he is now deciding to join doesn’t allow girls. Yahoo Sports blogger Cameron Smith wrote, “Yes, that’s right: Apparently gender discrimination now starts at the age of 7 in the DFW metroplex. The coach’s reasoning for the decision to exclude Anna Kimball from his squad was driven by his desire to move the team into a “more competitive” league for the 2012 or 2013 season, with that future league refusing to allow girls to play with boys. In addition to Anna, one other girl and other boys that had played on the team are reportedly being cut to make the team more competitive.” My son is dealing with this same thing right now on a 4th grade basketball team. They were undefeated all season and last weekend they lost their first game to a team they have always beat. One player quit the team because of personal reasons. He was a good player and now since they lost he was asked to come back and play. What does that say to my son who started the last two games while this kid was gone and to the other players on this team? He was asked to come back right before the tournament this weekend, so that he can help us bring home the winning trophy,

To be more competitive and to bring home the winning trophy is that where we are heading in our world. The old saying goes, “It doesn’t matter if you win or lose, but how you play the game,” is now a saying from the past that people don’t live by anymore. Shouldn’t we be more about commitment, dedication, perseverance, doing our best, fighting the good fight and focusing on the finish line. God’s word is full of statements about the first being the last, and if you want to be great you must first be a servant.

“But many who are first will be last, and the last first.” Mark 10:31

 “It shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant,and whoever would be first among you must be your slave, even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” Matthew 20:26-28

Jesus was the greatest example for us about serving others; he took off his outer garment and washed his disciple’s feet. The Messiah, the King of Kings, Lord of Lords, the Chosen One and the Son of God washed dirty feet. That was no place for the teacher, for the master to wash stinky dirty feet; it was the place for the servant, the slave. It was the servant’s job to wash the feet of those who attended the banquet feast. This day Jesus showed us something that was more about being competitive and winning, he taught us how we should treat others and what type of lives we should live. We are supposed to turn the other cheek, go the extra mile, love our neighbor as our self, love our enemies and pray for them, forget what lies behind and strain towards what is ahead and keep our eyes on the finishing line.

We need to understand that we are called to die, to give up our self, to live like him and to work out it with all of our heart. Colossians 3:17, Paul writes, “And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” Is that what we should be teaching our kids, whatever we do in our actions and speech, we do it in the name of Jesus and glorify God. Justin Simmons, a young man from Stuart, FL, who will be playing Free Safety for the Boston College Eagles in the fall taught me something. “Winning is great but so is losing because God is glorified in either way.” This young man has a great story that I will be sharing with you soon. Is being committed and not quitting more important than winning the super bowl, hitting the last shot to win the game, to hit the homerun in the last inning, to get that blue ribbon on a science project and getting that gold medal at the Olympics?

I think it is great we train, and we work hard to win the game. The game I want to win is life itself. I want to win that prize that is in store for me in heaven. The way to do is to lose, lose my life, and give up winning and focusing on the cross. Read what Paul wrote to the Philip Church in Philippians 3.

If anyone else thinks he has reason for confidence in the flesh, I have more: 5 circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; as to the law, a Pharisee; 6 as to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to righteousness under the law,[c] blameless. 7 But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ.8 Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ 9and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith— 10 that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, 11 that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead.12 Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. 13 Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”

Can we have this same attitude about winning in this world? Can we teach our children that knowing God is more important than winning a basketball tournament? Can we teach our friends that winning is about losing? Are we ready to press on to the goal of heaven where Jesus has prepared a place for us? I hope Anna Kimball sees that she is very important even if she can’t play on her brothers little league baseball team and proves the coach wrong. Let us not be so competitive but more committed in our world today. Let us run with perseverance and keep our eyes focused on the finish line.