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Saturday
Sep232017

Football and faith

I bet without hesitation you can name your favorite football team, start singing the fight song from memory and have at least one jersey you could pull out on game day.  Am I right?

I love the passion and conviction of college football fans. Fans scream, yell, point big foam #1 fingers in the air, paint their faces and some their bodies. Fans high five, chest bump and can't sit still.  Their team colors are displayed in endless pieces of clothing and accessories. Even babies are dressed for game day. (They recruit them young!)  If attending the game and in anticipation, they arrive early, watch their team warm up and start singing and keep on singing their team's fight song. The energy and the sound level are high.  It's intense and electrifying.

During a college football game, there is no way you can be a passive observer.  Eventually, you'll be drawn in by the passion and conviction of the fans. Before you know it, you'll be jumping up and down, screaming, giving high fives and singing the fight song.  Oh, you'll pick sides alright.  And, if you aren't careful, fans might win you over to the other side.  Let me give you an example of what I'm talking about.

I'll never forget attending the Oklahoma vs. Tennessee game in Knoxville in 2015.  I think they said that event set an all-time sound decimal record.  We went to the game with Oklahoma fans and were seated in a sea of Tennessee orange and white.  Me, I'm not so much into football, but I love the social aspect of being with my husband and friends.  In other words, I go for the fun and not so much the football!  But, this event was beyond fun.  It was intense and electrifying. I jumped and screamed for OU and wished I had a big foam #1 finger.

The coaches and teams fought hard to win!  The teams, bands, cheerleaders, and fans were all in!  They shared the common goal:  Victory!  Bands played their fight songs over and over and over again.The cheerleaders and band kept rallying the fans, and in response, the fans sang louder, chanted more, swayed and fought hard to cheer their team on to victory.  

Oh, did I mention that Tennessee played "Rocky Top" a bazillion times?  The first few times, a yeah, alright, okay - we hear you kind of experience.  A catchy tune but somewhat intimidating as it reminded us that we were in their territory.  Then, it got irritating.  Enough already.  Of course, they didn't stop, so the song continued and continued to be played. At one point, we looked over to find one of our die-hard, season ticket OU fans standing in his seat singing Tennessee's "Rocky Top."  What?  How is this possible?  I remember my husband and the others giving him a really hard time about it and yelling so he could hear them over the music. "What are you doing singing 'Rocky Top'?  Get down." While he wasn't won over or converted into a Tennessee fan, he was caught up in the moment and drawn into the passion of the people in orange and white. What possible harm could there be in singing the opposing team's fight song?  Uh...like I said, he was caught up in the moment and forgot himself.

College football is one of those places where being passionate and convicted is expected and acceptable. As obnoxious as it all can be at times, football fans show each other a lot of grace. I love it because their passion and conviction are very appealing and in many ways makes an appeal to me and to you to join in.  Football fans love to invite people to come watch the game, hang out, bring and eat food.  They recruit. Hanging out with them and it won't be long before you are wearing their team's colors, singing their fight song and filled with the same passion and conviction as those around you. Yep, they recruit young and they recruit hard!

In a way, football fans "contend earnestly" for their team! Their team is THE best. Even if their team is having a bad season, they are still the best. Team fans might talk among themselves about not being happy with the team, a player or coach performance.  Sometimes they'll fight among themselves about such things.  This is all normal and acceptable.  But, if someone on another team starts talking negatively about their team, player or coach - watch out. It might not be a fight song that breaks out. Let me say it again.  Football fans are a passionate and convicted group of folks.

Okay, so you know this preaches, right?

I started writing out the book of Jude this week.  I've only written out the first 3 verses because I can't get past verse 3.  It's grabbed my heart and mind.  I've read the verses that follow, so I know where Jude is going with this, but still, I'm stuck in verse three.  Let me share it with you and explain why.  "Beloved, while I was making every effort to write to you about our common salvation, I felt the necessity to write to you appealing that you contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all handed down to the saints."  

Contend earnestly for the faith.  Jude feels it necessary to appeal to us to contend earnestly or fight with sincere and intense conviction for the faith (conviction of truth).  And the picture I have painted above is what comes to my mind.  It's time to put on our game faces, dress the part and get out our big foam finger that points to Jesus.  With passion and conviction, we fight for our faith. When those on the front lines fight their way up the field, all stand to their feet, wave with all we have and cheer them on to victory. The preacher preaches, the choir sings, the band plays, and the faithful sway!  Every inch of ground gained is a victory in Jesus.  Sure, we get pushed back, fumble the ball, miss the kick and even get intercepted.  But, we keep cheering, trying and believing.  We keep contending for our faith.  We sing fight songs!  The chorus of one goes like this:

OH, VICTORY IN JESUS,
MY SAVIOUR FOREVER
HE SOUGHT ME
AND HE BOUGHT ME
WITH HIS REDEEMING BLOOD

And, if we see one of us standing in their seat getting drawn into the passion and conviction of the other side, what do we do?  We contend earnestly for the faith.  With passion and conviction and over the noise of the opposition, we yell "what are you doing"?

Okay, so when I think of contending earnestly, you know what visually comes to my mind.  So, if you see me with a cross painted on my cheek, pom-poms in my hand or a big foam finger pointing toward Jesus and I'm singing about victory in Jesus, you'll show me some grace and remember I'm passionate about Jesus, my faith, and the truth!  You can expect that I might dance a little jig, jump up out of my seat or shout, post, and tweet over and about truth.  Oh, and I probably need to warn you, if I see you acting like you are getting caught up in the passion and conviction of the world and talking anything other than the truth, I will ask you "what are you doing?"

Thursday
Sep212017

Digging into the book of Jude

I started my “journible” in Jude this morning. Jude’s greeting is so wonderful I make it my own and pass it along to you. “To those who are the beloved of God, may mercy and peace and love be multiplied to you.”

As I was researching the author and setting of the book, I came across this summary. “Jude writes to a community that needs to take a stand for the truth. A group of false teachers has entered the church. Through false revelations, they are prompting believers to use the grace of God as license for immorality, especially of the sexual kind. Jude warns against compromising with evil. He points out that the false teachers, in their selfish actions, have rejected the authentic Jesus. Jude challenges Christians to remain firm in the faith that leads to eternal life. He encourages Christians to live as people empowered by the Holy Spirit, standing in the love of God (Jude 17–21).” Faithlife Study Bible

It is so awesome to me that God’s word is as relevant today as it was when written.

So why do I share these things with you? It keeps me accountable and is a way to proclaim His excellencies!

 

Wednesday
Sep202017

Fog and faith

As I peer out my front door this morning, I notice it's a bit foggy. 

What I see is a great visual of that spiritual fog I sometimes have. Some days it seems hard to find Him but I know He is there. You see on those clear days, He has shown Himself in His word and proven Himself true. I thank God for those times. But I also thank God for the foggy days too. 

Spiritual fog advisory days test what I know and require I slow down, look harder as I creep along and pay closer attention. 

How about you?

 

Friday
Aug182017

When is it good to hate?

Hatred of people demeans, demoralizes, slanders and is spewed via social media in the form of a vile tweet, Facebook rant, video message and so on. It spreads like gangrene (₁).

There are countries and groups of people that hate America and Americans. They hate us so much that they are ready, willing and some able to destroy us. Their hate is spreading like gangrene.

Some Americans hate each other.  Each year a few will act on their hatred by terrorizing others, killing some, and even themselves. More and more we see hatred displayed in acts of violence during what should be a lawful and peaceful rally or protest.  Their hate is spreading like gangrene.

I suppose hate has been around almost since the beginning of time. I'm not sure how long Adam and Eve had in the garden before sin entered into the world. But, I do know that once sin entered the world, in came hatred.  

Then Jesus showed up.  

He instructs us to love our enemies, to honor all people, to forgive and so many instructions like this I cannot fit them all into a blog post.  Hate has no place in the heart of one who is in a relationship with and follows Jesus. 

I believe the only way to remove hate from a heart is to give it to Jesus.  So, I don't think we'll rid the world of hate anytime soon, but we can be intentional and aggressive to teach and model what it looks like to give your heart to Jesus so you can love your enemies and honor all people. 

It is good to see so many people take to social media to condemn hatred.  Let's continue proclaiming and teaching that hatred for others is wrong. Proclaiming that it is a sin against God who created people and sent Jesus to die for all people. Hatred is divisive, destructive and evil.

Hatred for others should have no place in our hearts - ever.  So, how do I know if hatred for others is growing in my own heart?  How can any of us examine our own hearts and teach others to determine if hatred is hidden or growing there? 

Hate what God hates (₂). What does God hate?

  • Haughty eyes - thinking you are better than anyone else or a group of people.
  • A lying tongue
  • Hands that shed innocent blood
  • A heart that devises wicked plans
  • Feet that run rapidly to evil
  • A false witness who utters lies
  • One who spreads strife

I read what God hates, and my heart calls out:  "Lord, when and how do I think more highly of myself than I should?  When and how has my talk been deceitful or has it spread strife?  Oh Lord, how often is my heart devising sinful plans."

I talk to myself a lot. I devise all kinds of plans in my head of what I will do and say.  If these thoughts and plans are not coming out of a pure heart that's been filtered through prayer and God's word, then I can guarantee you it's like running after sin, devising sin and so on.  These are not the actions of love for others. These are the actions of hatred toward others. I need to hate these things in my own heart so that hatred will not grow in my heart. 

When is it good to hate?  We should hate the things that God hates.

What a better place this would be if we would all agree to hate what God hates!  To commit to:

  • Hate what God hates
  • Examine our own hearts
  • Not do what God hates 
  • Teach others what God hates and help them live it out like we've learned to live it out.

It's a start!  Let's do this.  Let's take the above truths to the streets!

 

(₁) 2 Timothy 2:17

(₂) Proverbs 6:16-19

Sunday
Aug132017

Do it again Daddy, do it again!

At 3:30 this morning, I crawled out of bed, put on my flip-flops, grabbed my pillow, fixed a cup of coffee, and went outside to watch for meteor showers.  I had already arranged two chairs so I could put my feet up and tilt my head back.  The chairs were facing north and the seat cushions ready to put on.  So, I was able to get into position and comfortable fairly quickly.

As I was giving my eyes times to adjust, I think I saw a one or two faint streaks which could have been meteors.  Or, it could have been my eyes playing tricks on me and my wishful thinking.  As I sat there waiting, I wondered if I missed some when I looked down to sip some coffee.  I also wondered if they'd be so far away and faint that I would wonder the whole time if I really saw meteors.

Then it happened.  

One streaked across the sky that was so bright I declare it's tail sparkled.  If it wasn't a fireball, it's the closest thing to one I'll probably ever see.  It was so spectacular that I said "oh it's so beautiful" out loud!  And, I told myself at that moment, that sight made all this effort worth it.

In that moment I was satisfied.  But, that glorious moment also left me wanting more.  Those two emotions at the same time fascinated me.  Anyway, I felt like a child whose daddy had just delighted her because my heart was saying "do it again Abba (daddy) Father, do it again!  

So, I sat there waiting and watching for the wonder because I wanted more. All in all, I saw twelve or so streaks across the sky and even got to see a satellite crossing over.  More spectacular was what God was doing in my heart!

As I sat there for a few hours waiting for more, I prayed, I worshipped, and I wondered.  Mostly I was in wonder because the heavens truly do declare His majesty.  But still, I wondered...

When I would come inside for more coffee or look down to sip what I had, I wondered how much I was missing.  It made me wonder about all I had missed all those times when my eyes were not fixed on my Jesus.  I wondered what I would do and how I would respond if I saw the "heavens opened up and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God" (Acts 7:56).  I wondered why I kept wanting to see more.  I wondered why I was a little disappointed that the next time and the next time wasn't as glorious as that first time - that first sighting.  I wondered about so many things.  I even wondered about why I started losing my wonder.

The longer I sat there waiting, watching, praying, worshipping, wondering...I noticed that in between the sighting I started getting bored.  I had to intentionally focus.  In that moment I wondered how many life application sermons that would preach!  At some point, my next door neighbors outside light came on, and they let their dog out.  The activity distracted me.  The longer I sat there, the more distracted I was getting.  I was aware of just how uncomfortable was the position of my neck and how the dew had settled on my skin, hair, and cushions.  At one point, my stomach started growling.  Seriously?  

These distractions were annoying me.  They were messing with my ability to remain in awe and wonder! Well, I'd had my moments.  Maybe it was time to just give up and come inside.  Oh, how I wondered how many times have I gotten distracted and given up, stopped looking up, and lost my awe and wonder.  Sadly, too many times. I got up, fixed another cup of coffee and determined I would stay until I could no longer see the stars. Until there was nothing left to see.

I saw a few more meteors fly by after that. Nothing spectacular but I was ready just in case God decided to scoop up a few of those meteors in His hand and throw them down like some spectacular fireworks display.  He could do it, you know.  

The real wonder in those few hours is how God took His word which I had studied and hidden in my heart and through His Spirit brought it to remembrance. I could see with my very own eyes and experience for myself the absolute truth of His word - for me personally.  It's also a wonder how He took His word and what was going on in my mind, heart, and body to reveal to me things that go on in my life spiritually and in my relationship with Him.  God blows my mind.  Every focused and intentional moment I spend with Him leaves me saying...

Do it again Daddy, do it again.