Patriots and Giants (and I’m not talking football here)

Hebrews 11The game is over. The Giants have won. Do I have thoughts on this? Well, probably. I am a woman of many thoughts!! But today my thoughts take me to another kind of patriot and another kind of giant in a place where the battle is no game. These players won’t be found on the football field, but in the pages of Scripture.

Fun Fact—although I’m not blogging about real giants, you can find giants in several places in the Bible. For example. . .

Deuteronomy 3:11 – King Og whose bed was made of iron and was more than 13 feet long and 6 feet wide.

Numbers 13:32—The Israelite spies saw men so big they made the spies look like grasshoppers in comparison.

I Samuel 17:4 – Of course, the Philistine, GOLIATH, was nine feet tall. Shoot! His armor coat weighed 125 pounds and the iron point of his was 15 pounds.

1 Chronicles 20:6 & I Samuel 21:20 –   there was a man of great stature, whose had 24 digits. . . . six fingers on each hand, and six toes on each foot: and he also was the son of the GIANT.

The New Testament is filled another kind of giant. Men like Peter, Paul, John and . . . Men who were willing to give up their lives and any worldly comforts to promote and defend the message and freedoms found in Christ. These men, though not great in stature, were giants in their faith, and their lives are a great reminder to us as to what it really means to follow Christ.

It’s the Giants and Patriots of our faith that we learn from. It’s the Giants and Patriots that remind us that our hope, like theirs, is in Christ. It’s the Giants and the Patriots who show us through their strengths and shortcomings what it means to be that “not a fan, but a follower” kind of believer Christ died for us to be. It’s the Giants and Patriots that show us what true victory really is, and it’s the Giants and the Patriots that surround us now, encouraging us to throw off everything that is holding us back, and to get rid of any sin that tangles us up and keep us running our race– getting in the game—finishing strong.

It’s Abel and his best of his best offering.

It’s Enoch and his life lived so pleasing to God that he was taken from this life without dying.

It’s Noah who by faith when warned about things no one had even seen yet built an ark to save his family.

It’s Abraham who left for a place he had never seen just because God told him to go.

It’s Isaac and Jacob and Joseph  Grampa and Dad and son who worshipped God through generations.

It’s Moses’s parents who hid him in a basket when they had no idea that in saving his life, he would be used to save the nation of Israel.

It’s Moses and his willingness to go when he wanted to stay, and his willingness to lead a nation when he would rather have led sheep.

It’s Rahab, the women with the slightly sketchy occupation who understood the power of the God she had never met.

It’s Gideon, Barak, Samson, David, Samuel. . .

It’s the men and women who through faith in God conquered kingdoms, served justice, shut lions’ mouths, lived through the fire, escaped the sword. Their weakness became their strength as they rerouted foreign armies and became victorious in battle and saw their dead raised to life.

Some of them were tortured and refused to be released. They were mocked and flogged, chained and imprisoned. They were pummeled with stones until death, sawed in two, and put to death. They were poor, destitute, persecuted and mistreated. They wandered in deserts and caves and holes in the ground and the Bible tells us that the world was not worthy of them.

Tonight most people will have seen Giants and Patriots as players on a field. But life is just so much more than a game. Spiritual Giants and Patriots are men and women who are willing to give their very life for the cause of Christ—a cause to which they have committed everything. These are giants; these are patriots. These are the Giants and Patriots of our faith.

And they were commended for their faith. A faith that stood the test, endured the battle, stayed until the end, and finished its course. These men and women are our spiritual MVPs and they remind us to fix our eyes on Jesus–that discipleship, service, sacrifice, faith and love for Christ and his people are the things that Giants and Patriots are made up of.

Ironically, they didn’t set out to become Giants or Patriots. They were just ordinary people doing their best to follow God in faith. We don’t set out to become Patriots and Giants either. We set out to become like Christ–to do and to go and to share and defend the freedom from sin He died for us to have until the day He returns or takes us home.

Like those Giants and Patriots who have gone before us, it is as we learn to surrender, as we commit our whole heart, and as we realize that in becoming less He somehow makes us more, that we find ourselves  transformed by God into the Giants and Patriots who will be used to lead future generations to the glory of God.

football

Ms Dawn’s Top Football Terms for Church

 

I’ve always heard that the difference between a good football player and a great football player is HEART. Heart . . . the love for the game, love for the team, and love for the other players. It takes passion, determination, focus and sacrifice motivated by a love of something somehow bigger than yourself.

Thanks to our younger son, I have grown to have a great appreciation for the game of football. I didn’t always understand it. Even now, I don’t always understand it . But I’m gaining a better idea of what all the terms, plays, and positions mean. Oh, a while back I was thinking about the terminology. I was thinking about heart, and I was thinking about how football could kind of be like the church and I thought. . .Hey! What if we talked about church stuff the same way we talk about football stuff? So here are just a few of the things my little brain came up with. I call them:

Ms Dawn’s Top Football Terms for the Church

1. Kickoff-
In football it is a free kick that puts the ball into play.
In church it is the word used to describe any new event, sermon
series or program–as in we are about to kick off our fall
programming.

2. Drop Kick
In football a drop kick involves a player dropping the ball and then
kicking it when it bounces off the ground
In church this is what members want to do to the pastor when he
goes into overtime on a Sunday morning.

3. Punt
In football to punt means a kick made when a player drops the ball and
kicks it while it falls toward his foot. Usually during the 4th down when
the offense must surrender the ball because it couldn’t advance 10
yards.
In church it means . . . what you do when there is a blizzard, your
computer breaks down, you’re short on nursery workers, and the
video in the back room refuses to convert all in the same week.

4. Pass
In football this is simply throwing the ball from one player to another.
In church this is what members usually do when asked to serve in the
nursery, children, or student ministry departments.

5. Interception
In football this when the ball thrown is caught by a member of the other
team allowing them to take possession of the ball working down the
field towards the goal.
In church this is when a member of the church is caught by another
member of the staff and asked again to serve in either the nursery,
children’s or student ministry departments.

6. 1st and 10
In football this term signifies that the team with the ball is making their
first attempt to move the ball 10 yards.
In church this term signifies the starting place God expects us to us when
returning what is already His stuff to Him. Give 1st and Give 10.. . %

7. Tight End
In football, this is an offensive player using the combined skills of a
lineman and a wide receiver to both block and score.
In church this is a problem seen as people in the pew/chairs refuse to
move towards the center of the row.

8. Time Out
In football this term signifies an intentional break in the game for players
and coaches, to rest, regroup, and refocus on the game. Each team gets 3 in each half of the game. It is rare for a team not to use all their time outs.
In church this term signifies something God asks us to do together as a
team, generally on Sundays, to rest, regroup and refocus on Him.
Each person is to have one day per week to meet together to
Worship Him, but unlike football, it is rare for people to regularly use
their time out.

9. Take a Knee
In football when one team holds a slim lead over its opponent in the final
seconds of a game and that team has possession of the ball, the quarterback may drop to one knee after receiving the snap . . .
preventing their opponent from gaining advantage and winning
the game.
In church this practice is not always used to its best advantage, but also
allows a team to hold on to its lead, preventing their opponent
from gaining advantage.

10. Safety
In football a safety is a score worth two points that the defense earns by
tackling an offensive player who has possession of the ball in his own
end zone.
In church safety is the assurance that comes from knowing that we are
bound for heaven because we have put our trust in Jesus to take
away our sins, cleanse us through the waters of baptism, and give us
His Spirit so that we are being transformed to look more and more
like Him every day.

11. Goal
In football, the goal is the chalked or painted line dividing the end zone
from the playing field. This line must be crossed in order to score a
touchdown.
In church the goal to know God and make Him know, surrendering all we
want for all He wants and giving Him the glory He is due. (2 Cor. 5:9)

Philippians 3:7-14.. . But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ.  What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ  and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in[a] Christ—the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith. I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death,  and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead.
Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me.  Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead,  I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.

Tackling Drills 101

It’s no secret there are several things I like alot:  Oreos, a good word picture and football.  Alone, each has its merits, but combine them and you get a fun new blog post and a satisfied chocolate craving.  Lately, it seems like everywhere I go people are tackling problems in their homes, jobs and relationships without much success.   I don’t know whether it’s just winter blues, the cycles of life or not enough Oreos on the shelves of the average home, but I know that we don’t have to let things drag us down. In fact, it can absolutely work the other way around–We can be the ones doing the tackling, instead of the ones getting sacked.  I remember learning a few facts about the fundamentals of tackling  when our son was starting out in football. I thought then, as I do now, that there was a lot I could learn from the basics of tackling.  Here are 3 beginning steps for tackling tough problems that have helped me gain some victory:

1–Start with a good base.  Start by standing firm in Christ. I learned I needed a good stance, firm footing and a strong foundation. I needed to take a stand on the truth of what God’s Word says. I began by memorizing and meditating on His Word and planting myself on what He has promised.

2—Stay Low. In football, staying low gives you the leverage to bring down your opponent. In battling life’s situations, I am continuing to learn to stay low through prayer and humility. No matter what I’m up against, whether it’s something I can control or not, it’s not as big as the God who gives me the power to overcome.

3—Keep your head up and look at what you are tackling. In a game, it’s easy to get off target, and miss the tackle, wind up injured  just like it’s easy to get off target, miss the real issue completely and wind up hurt and confused.  It doesn’t take much to get distracted and  find yourself lost in play.  Remember what it is you need to tackle, and keep after it. In my life, whether I’ve been up against a sin issue, managing my emotions,or  the consequences of poor decisions (mine or someone else’s) I have had to learn to keep my focus and to not let myself get distracted. I have had to keep the voice of my Coach in my head and follow the plan He has set out for me. (See tackling points 1 & 2).

I’m always amazed when I see a great tackle. I love to watch a player get up, flex a little, maybe chest bump a team mate or two, excited over the personal victory. I know it takes humility, strength, skill and wisdom to tackle well and tackle consistantly.  Applying these simple football techniques to my spiritual life has not only given me alot more personal victory, it has kept me from being injured both spiritually and emotionally. And strong individual players make for a stronger team.

It’s not just the season we are in or lack of Oreos that keeps us from victory, often we just need to brush up on the basics. God tells us there will always be things in our lives that need to be tackled, and by picking up the play book we gain the strength, skill, power and wisdom that comes from Him, to tackle whatever comes our way.