Did you watch Monday Night Football last night? It was a game between The Cowboys of Dallas and the Redskins of Washington.
I’m not sure if you watch football, but our family watches it quite often. It is a fun sport to watch, because it includes these really inspirational sporting actions called “touchdowns”. Touchdowns are when the team with the inflated piece of leather runs or throws it across a line at the end of the field.
For some reason, when this happens, its pretty cool. Someone runs hard and gets across the line. Someone jumps and catches a pass that was thrown. Its the reason people go to football games. To see touchdowns.
Last night, the Dallas cowboys won the competition over the Redskins with a score of 18. The Redskins posted a score of 16. Here is the interesting part though- the Cowboys did not get one touchdown. All those points we received by kicking the ball through the goal posts and getting field goals.
For most football fans, it wasn’t the most exciting game. Like I said, people like to see touchdowns, not field goals.
Here is another component of this sport though- the goal is to have more points than the other team when the time is expired. The truth is that it doesn’t really matter where the points came from, the team with the more points wins, plain and simple.
I was thinking about that this morning through the filter of Faith. Often times I think that people of faith can get discouraged if they are not “touchdown Christians”. I think its easy to look at the heroes of the Faith and think that just because you never healed the sick, raised the dead, set free a nation from slavery, wrote a book of the Bible or heard God speak from a burning bush that your life doesn’t matter.
That is not true. Yes there are exciting events that happened and do happen in the lives of people who follow Jesus Christ. But do not worry that you don’t have any spiritual touchdowns that everyone cheers and talks about. Understand that the only thing that matters in your walk with God is to finish the race. It makes no difference if it looks pretty or if people write books about you.
I like the verse from 2 Timothy 4:7 “I have fought the good fight. I have finished the race. I have kept the faith”.
Like in football, the only thing that matters is winning. If you keep the faith, you win. That is it.
Do not harp on the Cowboys today. They won. Do not be hard on yourself today. If you have Faith in Jesus Christ and you live for him that is all that matters.
Keep the faith. Finish the race.
I have children. Two of them. Lately is been pretty awesome having them around. They are finally getting to that age when you can have real conversations with them and joke around with them a bit. Like on Sunday, it was raining on the way home from church and one of them asked “Daddy, why does it rain?” and I said “Rain happens when God is crying, its probably because of something you did”. We all had a good laugh (I didn’t really say that, that’s an old SNL Jack Handy quote).
But seriously, we like to joke around and have fun a lot.
I was thinking yesterday about how much we can learn from kids and our relationship with God. In Matthew 18:3 it says- “And he said: “I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.”
Here are some childish traits that would be great to apply to your relationship with God (this is a non-exhaustive list).
1. Children trust easily. They don’t think too much about the why’s or the how’s. They will do stuff that adults won’t because they don’t over think things.
2. Children are obedient. For the most part, Children do what their parents ask (eventually). There is a part of them that knows that disobedience comes at a price.
3. Children are loving. Most kids have to learn to be mean from someone else. They are naturally loving and accepting. You don’t have to be exactly like them to play with them.
4. Children follow. If there is a leader, kids will follow them.
5. Children are forgiving. They rarely hold grudges. The person you fought with yesterday is your friend at recess the next day.
Now I am sure that there are exceptions to these statements, but for the most part I think they are pretty commonly held beliefs. If this isn’t how the children are that you know, this is how they should be.
Its also how we should be in our relationship with God.
Do you trust? Are you obedient? Loving? Do you follow the Lord? Do you forgive?
Take a small lesson from a child today and realize that God desires child-like faith from us for us to be able to see His kingdom.
When I was in elementary school, my father lived in Hawaii, so my brother and I would go there to visit him a few times a year on the island of Oahu. It was a fantastic place to visit when you are kid, because there are so many beaches, and places to do fun stuff. We would go to beaches with names like Makaha and Makapuu and a beach that we called the “Gold Mine” because it had so many shells to find on the beach.
We loved collecting the beautiful shells. I can’t even describe the colors that they were and how spectacular they were. They were amazing.
Upon my initial visit to Hawaii, I remember that I would spend a lot of time on the beach walking up and down in water that was only up to my knees. It was fun, but it didn’t take me long to figure out that when you are walking on the beach, you only get to find the type of shells that get left behind by other people (ones that are small, broken or undesirable). Eventually, I figured out that to find the best shells to collect, you had to get into the waves. Not only did I have to get into the waves, I had to get into the deeper water where I couldn’t touch.
It was out in the deepest water that I found the best shells.
I was reflecting on that this morning and thinking about faith in God.
Often times I think that our spiritual lives are somewhat like that also. We want to have the great things of God, but we want to stay on the shore where its safe. Where we can touch the ground and not be encumbered by any un-forseen circumstances that may cause us any harm. We want to be safe.
Faith is not safe. Faith puts you in circumstances where you have to trust God and believe that He is going to take care of you as you are going through something that is uncomfortable or scary. Typically, the situation is not as terrifying as we think it is, its just that we can’t touch the bottom of the ocean floor, so we assume it is going to be too difficult.
The truth is that more often that not, God has given you the ability to swim, and he will be there with you as you do.
So what to do? Walk by faith! Do not be a person who constantly stands on the shores of life refusing to go somewhere where you have to actually trust and believe. Instead, be a person who trusts God through all circumstances and endeavors. Believe that even though the situations around you may feel like waves crashing over your head, that through it you will find a “Gold Mine” of resources that will bless you beyond anything that you could imagine.
But you have to get off the shore.
I get on the social networking site Facebook every once in a while, and when you are on the site on Fridays there are many people who post about the global significance of it being Friday.
There are posts like “Its FRIDAY”, “Hey everyone, Friday!” and “TGIF” which is my favorite because it thanks God that it is Friday. Many people seem to be very excited that it is Friday and that their workweek has come to an end.
There was a Music Band named Loverboy that had a song “Working for the Weekend” that came out in 1981 (I was 6 years old). And whenever I hear someone get excited about Friday, for some reason I always hear this song in my head.
I am including the song so that from this point forward you can join me in thinking about this song every Friday for the rest of your life.
Here’s the issue I have with a “Friday Centered” mentality- what this Friday centered mentality produces is a contingent of the American worker that seemingly only enjoys their life two days a week. Monday through Friday are drudgery and Saturday and Sunday are King. (Sunday more so since you get to go to church).
When someone spends their work week drudging through, waiting for the end of the week, they may miss out on some joy and blessings throughout the week. There are great things that can happen throughout the week if you would look for them.
First off- thank God for the work of your hands. If you’re at a job or you are at home, thank God that you have hands that have the ability to get some work done. There is something intrinsically satisfying to getting something accomplished. “Moving the needle” as I like to say, is a gratifying task in and of itself.
Secondly, focus on the positive. Work, no matter where, is filled with people. People like you and me who are getting it done. Use this opportunity to connect with other people and share some joy and love. You are with them 8 hrs a day, use it as an opportunity to affect other peoples lives. If you are at home, surround yourself with others in your phase of life and connect with them.
Last- Praise God for the gift of a day. Here’s what I mean- every day ends. If it is good, or it is bad, it ends and that is a good thing. Often times we forget that His mercies are new every morning, and that we can find joy in every single day that we live, not just Fridays.
Don’t just work for the weekend. Live every day to the fullest.
I was on the radio last night, and shared these truths on the show, but I thought it would be good to put them down here on the blog for those of you who missed the show, and for future reference.
Relationships are important. They are the what makes this world go around. If you don’t know how to make and keep healthy relationships, you will struggle in this life. Here is a list of some things to think about when it comes to relationships. (I acquired this list- it is not wholly mine, but it is still good.)
1. Begin with the guy in the mirror. (Matthew 22:39 – love your neighbour as yourself). We can only love others to the degree that we love ourselves, and we only love ourselves to the degree that we know the love of God.
2. Be a faithful friend. (Prov. 17:17 – a friend loves at all times). We need to love our friends even when they are being unlovable, for it is then that they need our friendship the most.
3. Speak only encouraging words to everyone. (Prov. 18:21 “the power of death and life are in the tongue” & Eph. 4:29). You’ve heard the rhyme, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but names will never hurt me.” That’s not true. Words can wound greater than sticks and stones!
4. Be friendly to everyone you meet. (Prov. 18:24 – he who has friends must be friendly). If you have a real negative, grouchy attitude all the time, you will have a hard time making friends!
5. Practice love everyday. (READ 1 Cor. 13:4-8a). Don’t just say, “I love you.” Love is patient, love is kind, love believes the best, etc.
6. Help people in trouble all the time. (Gal. 6:2 – God wants us to share each others troubles & problems).
7. Pray for one another daily. (James 5:16 – pray for one another). Never pass up an opportunity to pray with someone.
8. Pursue peace with all men. (Rom. 12:18 – as much as possible). This is not easy, but this is very important.
9. Know how to deal with offenses. (Matt. 18:15 – if someone offends you, go and talk to them about it, don’t go and talk to others about it). Jesus said, “Offenses will come,” but its how we deal with it that makes the difference.
10. Forgive one another. (Eph. 4:32 – forgive each other as Christ forgave us). In any relationship, you will have to choose to forgive the other person when they hurt or offend you.
Hope this blesses you as it did me.
Have you ever had a huge goal? Something that you wanted to do or accomplish or get done? Big or small, goals are good. But there is a dangerous part of goal setting that is important to remember. I call it the “Moon or nowhere” syndrome.
Let me explain.
I have come to the realization that I am never going to walk on the moon, and I’m okay with it. By some estimates, there has been about 105 billion people that have ever lived on this planet, of which 12 people have walked on the moon.
Not very good odds of me going to the moon based on that statistic.
Now, at this point, I have a choice to make, I am either going to find an achievable goal that will be somewhat as exhilarating or monumental or I will state that since I cannot go to the moon, I am not going to go anywhere.
I fell victim to this syndrome a few years back with my workouts. When I was in college, I was very fit and quite consistent with my workouts. I was making great advances in my overall fitness.
Then I got married, and started eating, and found out that when you have a life and a wife there isn’t a lot of time hanging around for weighing your food and going to the gym for 2 hours a day. For a while, because I could not accomplish in the gym what I wanted to, I did nothing. I didn’t care what I ate and I didn’t do any physical activity.
Let me let you in on a little secret- when you don’t care what you eat and you don’t do any physical activity it will eventually catch up with you.
So what do we do? If we can’t go to the moon, do we do nothing? Obviously not. I got back into the gym and set some different goals and realized I am not a 20 year old college student anymore.
The correct mindset to have is to realize that possibly the goal that has been set is too high, therefore a new goal must be set. One that is measureable and achievable. I may not be able to go to the moon, but I can hike a mountain. I may not be able to go into a rocket ship, but I can jump out of a plane. (for the record I do not want to go to the moon, climb a mountain or jump out of a plane).
What things are you not doing in your life because they seem too far out of your reach? What can you do today that is a more realistic goal? Set a more realistic goal and you will find that you are accomplishing more because you are setting the bar at a height at which you can reach it. Once you reach it, you will end up setting a higher goal.
Set a goal today. Spiritual, physical, emotional, financial or career. Whatever it is. Set one.