Saturday, August 30, 2014

Why I Love Football (repeat)

People often ask me why I like football so much.  It is a valid question for I am female and involved in Women’s Ministry…shouldn’t I love shoe shopping instead??  At first I didn’t think it strange that I had this love but I must admit my conversations concerning the last SEC or NFL playoff game with other women tend to be very short.  When I try to talk to men, they just look at me like I am sporting one eye in the middle of my forehead!  It could be a very lonely existence but God has been gracious to give me one girlfriend who loves football as much as I do, so I don’t feel completely alone.  This season, however, I began to ask myself the same question, “Why do I like football so much?”  I often say because my daddy did…and he liked it but his favorite sport was World Federation Wrestling and  (to the relief of all my family) I don’t follow that at all.  So, why do I?  It is not to support my husband because he really could care less…he will watch it with me but would rather watch Pawn Stars or Duck Dynasty! (a blog for another time!)  I would like to think it is because I am supporting “my” team…but it really doesn’t matter who is playing…I get involved. Now, I LOVE the Saints which brings another dynamic into the mix…  So, I went to my little quiet place where I contemplate the big things in life and asked myself, “Why?”  Here is what I came up with!!

·      I love that at the beginning of each game there is hope!!  The scoreboard is even…the field is freshly painted and the crowds are cheering and hoping for a victory!!  It is like the life God gives us through His Son!  We start out each day with a clean slate and the hope that today we are going to win the race!! 

·      I love that like life, there is going to be opposition to getting to the goal line.  It excites me to see the players pushing on to the goal without giving up.  I used to love to watch Deuce McAllister carry an entire defensive line on top of him as he moved closer to the line that would bring a first down or a touchdown.  I want to be that person…one who will push on…one who won’t give up when it gets hard.

·      I love that even after a mistake (interception, fumble, or missed tackle) that the players come back out on the field and play like it never happened.  This is where I really wish I could would learn the lesson because often in my life when I mess up (happens a lot!!)  I just want to go to the sidelines and have a pity party…I want to just quit the game rather than go onto the next play.  People like Drew Brees, who comes back every time, inspire me! 

·      I love it when my team wins!!  But I also realize for that to happen another team must lose and believe me, I find myself feeling sorry for particular players on the other team who played their best and still lost!  When I have victories in my life I want to shout it from the rooftops but I want to be aware that there are those who have fought hard and still their victory hasn’t come. I don’t want to be so consumed with my life that I forget those who are struggling to find some small victory…I want to urge them on to try again.

·      Finally, I have learned that sometimes my team doesn’t win!   I often say, “Next year!”  and I mean it.  It is also like life…sometimes things don’t turn out like we thought it was going to at the start but God in His graciousness, gives us more games to play.  I want to learn from my losses---not wallow in them.  I want to become better because I learned what to do and what NOT to do next time!  Most of all, I don’t want to just stop playing the game.  Many of us do that when our losses become more than our victories…I feel like doing that but then I look at my Saints…who lost more games than they won even to the point of being called “the “aints!”  The fans returned every year with hopes of a winning season time after time only to go home empty handed.  But then came that year!!!  We didn’t know what to do with win after win…then the playoffs…then the Super Bowl. Finally, we had a victory after years of defeat. 

And after that big win life hit hard again and it starts all over because victories in this life are short-lived…and for many teams it is back to “next year!” 

I guess that is why I love football…the hope that it can be better next time…if we listen to our Coach….work hard to prepare and don’t give up!!   Paul said it best in Philippians 4:13  I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.  It is not about giving up….it is about pressing on toward the goal!!!  I guess I just took that goal literally. 
So this new season, learn the lessons of football and Geaux Saints!!!!

Friday, August 1, 2014

Are You in Prison?

My oldest Texas grand boys were with me this summer and while they were here, we spent some time in Narnia.  Now for those of you who don’t know, it is a place that C.S. Lewis created in his great children’s series, The Chronicles of Narnia.  After they left, I wasn’t ready to leave Narnia and spent time in the final book, appropriately called, The Last Battle.  It is filled with theological thought and I believe that one of the things C. S. Lewis dealt with in this final installment of his Narnia collection was atheists.

Because God is so real to me, I truly cannot understand that some people cannot see Him.  I associate everything with God and His love for me.  It gives me peace that passes all understanding and gives me purpose for living.  The hardest thing in my ministry is to try and explain to someone pre-disposed to not believe that God actually IS.

Currently there is a group who call themselves the “new Atheists.”  They describe themselves in their book, The New Atheists, (authored by Sam Harris, Richard Dawkins, Daniel Dennett, and Christopher Hitchens) as a progressive thought and different in belief from prominent historical atheists such as Nietzsche and Sartre. They don’t claim, “God doesn’t exist.”  They claim they just don’t believe He does. Read this review:

A popular tendency among some atheists these days is to define atheism, not as the positive thesis that God does not exist, but as the neutral claim that an atheist is one who simply lacks belief in God. If we could scan the mind of the atheist and catalogue all the beliefs the atheist holds, we would not find a belief of the form, “God exists.” Those who insist on defining atheism in this manner want to avoid the implications of having to defend the claim that God does not exist. They demand justification for faith in God while insisting that they bear no rational burdens in the debate since they are not making any positive claims on the question of God’s existence.

It is the easy way out!  No defense, it is just what I think.  No truth, no lies, nothing other than what I have in my own mind.  It is all about “me!”  I am the final judge…all for me and only me.

It was the same in Narnia! There were a group of Dwarfs who were disillusioned with the idea that there was a “great lion” called Aslan. (A character that symbolized Christ)  They had not seen Him and therefore, he must not exist.  At one point in the book, there was a scam of a fake Aslan and they had been duped.  Never more would they believe in such a silly thing.  They claimed, “We haven’t let anyone take us in. The Dwarfs are for the Dwarfs!”

I see this same thought in the US today.  False Christianity over-shadows real faith and “the world is not going to be taken in again.”  But in the book Aslan actually came to the dwarfs yet they refused to see.  Aslan showered them with great foods and they refused to admit the food was good.  He gave them light, yet they preferred darkness. Their pride kept them from the best thing they could ever experience!

I understand that. Pride, kept me from seeing and experiencing all God wanted in my life for many years.  I knew all the answers…I just didn’t know any of the questions!  When I finally allowed myself to see God as He really was, “High and lifted up!” (IS. 6:1) my eyes were opened to the light and life He really gives.

All of Aslan’s followers saw the Dwarfs sitting in a circle looking down, refusing to see and begged Aslan to help them.  His comment was:

They will not let us help them.  They have chosen cunning instead of belief.  Their prison is only in their own minds, yet they are in that prison; and so afraid of being taken in that they cannot be taken out.   

It is sad that there are those who refuse to see.  My prayer is that I will keep my eyes looking for Him and to pray for eyes of the blind to be opened.  If you are in a prison of your own making allow God to release you. He will!