Tag Archives: Football

Is God a Tim Tebow Fan?

By Eugene C. Scott

The Author Tebowing

It’s a miracle! On January 8, 2012 the underdog Denver Broncos upset the ostensibly better Pittsburgh Steelers in an American Football Conference wildcard playoff game. Those of you reading in South Africa, Britain, Antarctica, and Lizard Lick, North Carolina may be asking, “How is that a miracle?” And it’s a fair question.

You see with only a year before America might elect a new president, the entire nation is embroiled in a huge controversy over whether Broncos’ quarterback Tim Tebow is a very good passer and, even more, whether he should start every interview with, “First, I want to thank my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.”

Those against Tim argue he is a terrible passer and is delusional to think God cares a whit about American football. Those for Tim counter with the fact that because he is winning, even though he is a terrible passer, proves that God is somehow involved. Hmm.

This last Sunday’s win did not help the debate, especially since Tebow passed for exactly 316 yards. His best day yet. And it turns out that Tebow’s favorite Bible verse is–you’ll never guess–John 3:16. Coincidence?

Then to top it all off–literally–a cloud in the form of a halo appeared above the football stadium after the game.

There is no doubt in many Tebowites’ minds that these are God sightings, signs that God cares about Tim Tebow and things as mundane as a Denver Broncos’ game.

As many said after the game, “It’s a miracle!”

If you’ve been reading this blog the last couple of weeks, you may remember we’re running an experiment. We’re spending 2012 trying to find out what it’s like to live every day spiritually: to look for the God-created soul in daily life. We’re looking for God sightings, little miracles, ways in which God becomes apparent in nature, people, music, work, movies, sermons, meals, the Bible, worship, prayer and other apparent mundanities.

But did God don a Broncos jersey after church and show up at the Broncos game? Are the 316 yards and the halo cloud God sightings? Miracles?

Stranger things have happened. Jesus had Peter pay his taxes from money Peter found in a fishes’ mouth. Jesus turned water into wine and later transformed a Roman torture device into a universal symbol of hope and new life. And almost every Sunday people gather–not in a stadium but in a worship community–to experience the sacrament of mere bread and wine mysteriously becoming the body and blood of Christ.

Closer to home Christ fashioned this fatherless boy into a father, this high school drop out into a teacher, this addict into a free man, this carpenter into a counselor, and this self-centered person into a servant. Stranger things indeed. History may not prove God engineered a Bronco win. But is sure shows God puts his mark on things big and little.

Was Tebow’s win a miracle? Maybe, maybe not. But people are talking about God outside of church and Google has had a run on searches for John 3:16. God seems very comfortable using what ever he can to get us to see beyond our own noses. And that in itself may be a miracle.

Personally I doubt God orchestrated Tebow’s big day but God does seem to be in the habit of breaking into our regular programming for a more urgent messages. Our task is to listen up.

Eugene C. Scott learned to love the Broncos from his late mother and has followed them since he was a kid. He actually shed a tear when John Elway was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. He is not convinced Tim Tebow is the Second Coming of John Elway.  Other than that, football means nothing to him. He’d much rather you join him in watching for God sightings and telling your stories here and on “Living Spiritually” at facebook.com/livingspiritually. Eugene is co-pastor of The Neighborhood Church and may wear his Broncos jersey to worship next Sunday.

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How Does A Bronco Fan Mourn Al Davis?

By Brendan Scott

Saturday, as the news broke about the death of Al Davis, the owner of the Oakland Raiders, I was unsure of how to react.  One side of me wanted to smile, this was the side that hates the Raiders and wants to see misery in my opponent’s eyes, and the other side was sad.  Sad because Al Davis had run his team into the ground and well, I wanted the Raiders to remain terrible.  Now, the pessimist in me believes his departure from the Raiders might make the team I hate a more competitive franchise.  The Raiders have been an inept franchise for a decade, but they haven’t always been that way.

For a long time the Raiders were winners, committed to excellence.

Al Davis cared for nothing more than winning.  And I, like all Bronco fans, cared nothing for him and am pained by the above video, but I guess he did win some games.  According to Hall of Fame coach Don Shula, Davis was devious, but would have taken it as a complement to be described as such.  It is fair to say that hate him or love him (he does have a family) he was a driven man who helped shape the game of football.

He made the phrase, “Just win, Baby,” famous.  But growing up as a Denver Bronco fan, I just wanted him to lose.  For the last decade, if not a little more, that’s all the Raiders have been doing.  And as bad as the Broncos have been for the last five years, it has been comforting to know that the Raiders have been worse, except when they beat my team.

Al Davis may have lived his life by his “Just win, Baby,” motto, even while his team was losing, but is life about winning?  Football is just a game.  Don’t get me wrong, I love sports.  I’m very competitive and I believe if it is your job to play a game, you should do your best, but maybe there’s more to life than winning or losing.

I wonder if Davis defined his life by the wins and loses his team acquired on the field.  I did not know him so I can’t guess if he lived for more than wins on the field.  As a Bronco fan, competitively I hope he didn’t.  That way he lived his last ten years in misery.  But that’s just the Broncos fan in me, maybe I need to let God work on that area of my life.

But as a Christian, I hope he did live for something more than just wins.  While, I admire his desire to win because I believe God wants us to give everything we do our all, I don’t believe life is just about winning.

What is life about then?

What if life was about losing?  About giving instead of taking.

Matthew 5 reads like a list of objectives for weirdos.  It is counter culture to the max.  I mean, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven,” come on, who lives like that.  Or how about, “Blessed are the peacemakers for they will be called sons of God.”  That doesn’t sound very competitive.  You’re just going to get run over if you live like that.  Or what about, “Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”  It’s like Jesus is telling people to be losers.  Or is he just saying, be different and you’ll be noticed for what really matters.

Jesus wants people to stand out, which is why he says, “You are the salt of the earth . . . You are the light of the world.  A city on a hill cannot be hidden.”  So if you are living like Jesus you are going to be noticed.  You are going to be different and like salt you are going to add a flavor to whatever you shake it into.  Did you know salt enhances the natural flavor of any food it’s added too?  Maybe that’s what life’s about, enhancing the lives of the people we come into contact with.

What about “Just win, Baby”?  That mentality seems to breed the eye for an eye mentality.  If someone punches you, punch back, ’cause you just got to win.  But Jesus says something different.  He says, “If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also.  And if someone wants to sue you and take your shirt, let him have your jacket also.  If someone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you . . . Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.”

Fans, Jesus wants us to lose.  To give more than what is asked from us.  To love the Raiders?  To pray for Al Davis and the Raider nation as they grieve their owner’s death.

Jesus commands us, and this isn’t just a command he is giving to Christians, this is for everyone out there, even Raiders and their fans, to love.  Jesus says in Matthew 12 vrs 29-31, “Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is One.  Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.  The second is this: Love your neighbor as yourself.  There is no greater commandment than these.”

Ok Bronco fans, this is what our head coach is saying, “Love God and give him your all.  Next love your opponents, even the Raiders, just as much as you love your Broncos.”

What is love though?

Love is patient, love is kind, love does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.  It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.  Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with truth.  It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always preservers.  Love never fails.

Jesus wants me, a Bronco fan, to let go of all the hate I have for the Raiders.  So what if Al Davis never payed my beloved former coach, Mike Shanahan.  Life isn’t about money and I am sure Mike Shanahan has enough money and during his time with the Broncos he sure got the wins against the Raiders, as well as two Super Bowl wins for my team.  I think if I am to mourn Al Davis, I have to be different.

So how does a Bronco fan mourn Al Davis?  First, I stop trying to win at all costs (This is going to be difficult for me, ’cause I’ve been known to wish injuries on my least favorite players).  And Secondly, I need to look at the bigger picture of life.  Football isn’t just a fun diversion, remember how it helped restore hope to our nation after September 11th?  Sports are important, but loving our neighbors is more important.

What would Tebow Do?  Tim Tebow, the much debated quarterback for the Broncos, is a Christian who has made a name for himself by standing up for what he believes in.  I believe he would go out and play the game with the talent God gave him, but also respect his opponents with a Christlike love.  But that’s just a guess.  I know Tebow’s not Jesus.

Neither was Al Davis.  He was just a man (a neighbor), but a man created in God’s image.  He may have just wanted to win and maybe that’s what created such a good rivalry between the Broncos and the Raiders, but life is bigger than the victories on the field.  I can mourn Al Davis because he was one of God’s creation.  I can mourn him because as a Christian I am called to be different, to see past the gridiron, and to love even him, my enemy.

Brendan is a Bronco fanatic.  He thinks Tebow is exciting and wants his team to do well.  He is enjoying being back in Colorado where he can watch the Broncos after attending The Neighborhood Church.

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Divided Loyalties or The Best Of Both Worlds?

The World Cup of soccer is all the rage around the world. Although it may stand behind football, baseball, basketball, and hockey as the national pastime in America, for the next few weeks, it plays on center stage. At a minimum, it has become a worthy topic of conversation at the office water cooler.

One relatively overlooked aspect of the world tournament concerns the divided loyalties of the players. Because it is an international sport, many soccer players find their livelihood playing for teams in opposing countries.

For example, of the 23 men on the U.S. roster, 13 were born in other countries or are sons of parents from other countries. Many could play for two countries. In fact, 19 of the U.S.’s players are members of professional clubs in Britain, Europe and Mexico.

“It’s definitely a quandary,” said Seattle Sounders coach Sigi Schmid, who was born in Germany but moved to the United States at age 4 and has coached UCLA, the L.A Galaxy and the U.S. under-20 team. “I root for Germany when they play anyone except the United States. I’ve always felt my first loyalty is to the United States.”

While playing with divided loyalties works in the sports community, it can cause multiple problems in matters of faith.

Please join me in our Daily Bible Conversation as we discuss this further.

TODAY’S READING

2 Kings 17:1-18:12
Acts 20:1-38
Psalm 148:1-14
Proverbs 18:6-7

INSIGHTS AND EXPLANATIONS

2 Kings 17:1-18:12. Today’s reading marks a sad chapter in Israel’s history. As a result of Israel’s sin, Assyria invaded Judah’s sister country, completely obliterating them and exiling many of them into Assyria. The writer of 2 Kings then goes to great lengths to explain what caused Israel’s destruction (2 Kings 17:7-23).

The people of Israel (at home as well as those in exile) were then forced to intermarry with the Assyrians. The New Bible Commentary explains the reasoning behind Assyria’s actions:

It was normal Assyrian practice to replace deported populations with groups from other parts of the empire. The purpose was to dilute nationalistic feeling and so make revolt less likely.

Judah was now an only child.

In an about face, Hezekiah followed a different path than his father Ahaz and became as godly of a king as Ahaz was evil. He destroyed all the remnants of idolatry, and, in a departure from other godly kings, he tore down the high places. This caused the writer to comment, “There was no one like him among all the kings of Judah, either before him or after him.” Since David was the king of a unified Israel and Judah, it probably isn’t implying Hezekiah was greater than him.

And as a result, God blessed him. While Assyria obliterated Israel, they were unable to repeat the same atrocity to Judah.

Acts 20:1-38. If you pay close attention, you’ll notice that the word “we” suddenly appears in verse six. Obviously Luke, the writer of Acts, joined Paul at that point in his travels. Off and on for the rest of the book, we read an eyewitness account of Paul’s travels.

In verse 7, we read for the first time that the Christians gathered on the first day of the week to break bread together.

Verse 8 offers an odd detail about Paul’s late-night sermon: “There were many lamps in the upstairs room where we were meeting.” Scholars believe this suggests that the fumes from the lamps were responsible for Eutychus sleeping and falling out of the window.

GOOD NEWS!

Congratulations! You have now reached halfway point in reading through the Bible in a year. Most people don’t make it this far, so you should feel pretty good right now. It’s all downhill from here!

If you’ve found A Daily Bible Conversation helpful, share it with your friends! Forward your daily email or send them a link to the website: http://www.bibleconversation.com.

THE WORD MADE FRESH

After Israel was destroyed and forced to intermarry with the Assyrians, Assyria sent a priest to teach everyone the ways of Yahweh. Sounds hopeful, doesn’t it? But here’s what we read in 2 Kings 17:33:

They worshiped the Lord, but they also served their own gods in accordance with the customs of the nations from which they had been brought.

In other words, the people added the worship of Yahweh in addition to their other idols.

As a result, twice—in verses 32 and 33—the writer says about the people of Samaria, “They worshipped the Lord, but…”

Then in verse 34 he writes, “To this day they persist in their former practices. They neither worship the Lord nor adhere to the decrees and ordinances.”

So which one is it? Did they worship the Lord or not?

Looks like a case of divided loyalties. From God’s perspective, in soccer parlance, this would be considered a foul.

As we move closer to the books in the Bible that were written by prophets, we see that God wants to be our one and only. He doesn’t want a commitment from us that reflects the people of Samaria who “worshipped the Lord, but…”

In God’s economy, divided loyalties equal disloyalty.

CONVERSATION STARTERS

  1. What spoke to you in today’s reading?
  2. What divided loyalties pull at you?
  3. What drives any divided loyalties you might be experiencing?
  4. How does today’s reading speak to them?

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Do You Play To Win Or To Not Lose?

Welcome to Super Bowl Sunday!

For those of us who love American football, it’s a sad day because it concludes the 2009-2010 season. Although I’m not partial to either the Indianapolis Colts or New Orleans Saints, I would like to see a good game.

After watching professional football for 38 years, one factor determines which team eventually wins my loyalty (if the Denver Broncos aren’t playing): the team that plays to win rather than playing to not lose.

Let me explain: some teams play conservatively. They don’t take any risks. They avoid passing the ball (which leads to interceptions) and rely on a strong defense. The Baltimore Ravens relied on this approach in 2001 and b-o-r-e-d me death.

But other teams take risks. They pass the ball and take chances running trick plays in order to fool the opponent. Games like this are enjoyable to watch.

Believe it or not, God has a preferred style of football, too. And it translates into how he wants all of us to live.

Read about it in today’s reading.

TODAY’S READING

Exodus 26:1-27:21
Matthew 25:1-30
Psalm 31:1-8
Proverbs 8:1-11

INSIGHTS AND EXPLANATIONS

Exodus 26. The details about building the tabernacle may not seem relevant to you or me. I guess the upside of chapters like this is they allow you to catch up on some of your reading because it won’t take long to skim. Two thoughts come to mind regarding this chapter:

  1. The blue fabrics and gold rings were indicative of royalty; and
  2. The woven curtains separating the Holy of Holies from the rest of the tabernacle were intended to communicate the separation between God and humanity. Our sins separate us from God (Isaiah 59:2). The moment Jesus died on the cross, the curtain separating us from God was torn in two (see Matthew 27:51—which we’ll read in six days).

Exodus 27. The altar described at the beginning of the chapter was big: 8 feet wide and 5 tall. But it needed to be big because animals were going to be sacrificed on it. The courtyard was intended to prevent people from accidentally (or intentionally) entering God’s presence in the Holy of Holies.

Matthew 25:1-13. The Bible Background Commentary explains, “Weddings were held toward evening and torches were used as part of the celebration, which focused on a procession leading the bride to the groom’s house.” The last few days, we’ve discussed the importance of being prepared. This parable reiterates the point. Don’t wait to get it together, because if you do, it’ll be too late.

Psalm 31:5. Jesus quoted this psalm on the cross in Luke 23:46.

Proverbs 8:1-11. Scripture places a premium on wisdom. Our society on the other hand? Not so much. We value power, prestige, and stuff. But Solomon says we should choose wisdom over silver, gold, or rubies, which were precious metals and gems (and still are). The book of Proverbs is organized in such a way that we must read through 9 chapters of material about wisdom before reaching the pithy quotes that contain it.

If you’ve found A Daily Bible Conversation helpful, share it with your friends! Forward your daily email or send them a link to the website: http://www.bibleconversation.com.

THE WORD MADE FRESH

The parable of the talents in Matthew 25:14-30 has always appealed to me. The passage has provided plenty of material for countless sermons and classes. Usually, I’ve driven home the same point: use whatever God has given you.

But now I’m beginning to question my understanding of the parable. While it’s important that we use what we have, I doubt that’s the central point Jesus was trying to make.

To review Jesus’ parable: Before going out of town on a long journey, a man meets with his three servants to give them parting instructions while he’s gone. Basically, he gives them different amounts of money and tells them to use it to build his wealth. When he returns, two of the servants report they doubled their master’s money. In return, they receive equal encouragement and increased responsibility. One servant, however, confesses that he hid the money in the ground. Furious, the master gave the third’s servant’s money to the first servant and kicked him out on the streets.

To bring this into context, this is one of a series of Jesus’ parables about the last days, addressing what we should do while we wait for Jesus to return.

Two of the servants risked their master’s money…and it multiplied. They played to win. The third servant, however, was afraid and hid his master’s talent in the ground. He played to not lose and ultimately, the third servant lost everything.

What speaks to me today in this passage is that God doesn’t want me to play safe. He wants me to use what I have and take risks for the kingdom of God. He wants me to risk conversations about spiritual things. He wants me to risk giving when it hurts. He wants me to risk…

Growing up, a conductor in one of my orchestras used to tell us, “Don’t play timidly. If you’re going to make a mistake, do it so big that everyone can hear it!”

When we make big mistakes like that, I think God smiles and says, “Well done, my good and faithful servant.”

This is how we live as we wait for Jesus to return.

Don’t play to not lose. Play to win.

CONVERSATION STARTERS

  1. What spoke to you in today’s reading?
  2. What risks is God calling you to take? What prevents you from taking the risk?
  3. How do you live safe?
  4. Why do you think we place such low value on wisdom in our culture? Describe a time when wisdom–from you or someone else–made a difference in your life.

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Michael co-pastors The Neighborhood Church in Littleton, Colorado.

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