Tag Archives: intramural basketball

Working Out In God’s Gym

Most people don’t know that I went to college on an athletic scholarship…they paid me not to play athletics. (rim shot)

Despite my highest hopes and most fervent desires, I wasn’t endowed with natural athletic ability. I like to tell people that when I played intramural basketball in college, people would ask me after the game, “Ever thought about becoming a bricklayer? Because you shoot nothing but bricks.”

Nevertheless, I’ve always enjoyed watching sports. And in my study of Scripture, I’ve discovered that Paul was a sports junkie like me. Reading through his epistles, it quickly becomes apparent that he enjoyed track and field events.

Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. 1 Corinthians 9:24–25 (NIV)

You were running a good race. Who cut in on you to keep you from obeying the truth? Galatians 5:7

I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. 2 Timothy 4:7

I do not fight like a boxer beating the air. 1 Corinthians 9:26

A couple of weeks ago, one of his sports-related comments jumped out at me:

 Train yourself to be godly. For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come. 1 Timothy 4:7–8

Paul was offering instruction to his protégé Timothy, but I think all of his can benefit from his words.

God’s Gym Can Work For You, Too! 

Interestingly enough, the Greek word for “train” is gymnazo, where we get the English word “gymnasium.” The word can also be translated “exercise.” Last year I delved into this Scripture passage in-depth in my post Exercise Naked

Mulling over the idea of exercise, I realized that getting in shape requires a plan. Despite my lack of athletic acumen, I still try to stay in shape. But if I lack a plan, it simply won’t happen.

Our walk with God works the same way.

This led me to ask to ask myself two questions:

  1. How often do I work harder at getting in physical shape than I do at getting in spiritual shape?
  2. What’s my plan for getting in spiritual shape?

Let’s be honest: growing in godliness doesn’t happen on its own. Our relationship with Christ doesn’t naturally deepen over time.

Plan The Work And Then Work The Plan

As we enter the New Year, I invite you to join me in prayerfully assembling a plan for growing in your walk with God. Obviously, your plan won’t resemble mine. Rather than over planning and setting yourself up for failure, try to establish a plan that you can reasonably follow. Perhaps you may want to spend 15 minutes a day reading the Bible, or set aside 15 minutes a day to prayer and listening to God. For other ideas in growing in your walk with God, click here.

I’m curious to know what your spiritual plans are for 2012. Please share them with the rest of us by commenting at the end of this post.

As I conclude the final Neighborhood Café blog post of 2011, I offer you my sincerest thanks for joining us. On behalf of Eugene Scott, Michael Gallup, and Brendan Scott, thank you for taking the time to read our posts.

May you encounter the presence of the living Christ in new ways in 2012.

Michael co-pastors The Neighborhood Church in Littleton, Colorado with Eugene Scott. By looking at his office desk, you can tell that 2011 was overly busy. He hopes to slow down in 2012.


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The Surprising Picture Of True Faith

Most of my family and friends don’t realize that I went to college on an athletic scholarship: my college paid me not to play athletics.

Much to my dismay, I’m not a very good basketball player. The position I play best on a basketball team is “bricklayer.” If I could rebound better, I would call myself a defensive specialist. Nevertheless, I do relish the fact that I participated in the biggest blow-out in college intramural basketball history.

In college, our intramural basketball league had five different classifications: A (where the true athletes played), A-, B+, B, and C (which was more like tackle basketball). I was a C league star.

My floor had a B+ team and a C team. Unfortunately, no one from our B+ team could make a particular game, so our C league team stepped in. Little did I know that I was about to play a part of basketball history. “This can’t be so bad,” we convinced ourselves.

When we showed up on the court for warm-ups, we noticed the guys on the other team were huge. Then we discovered that the opposing team consisted of former NCAA Division 1 basketball players. They had registered too late to get into A or A- league, so they were placed in the B+ league.

Before the tip-off, one of the players from the other team approached us and asked, “Are you sure you guys want to play this game?” Obviously he had watched us warming up and was overwhelmed with compassion.

“Of course we want to play,” we replied, offended by his offer.

Well, the opening tip resulted in a dunk for the other team…and it went downhill from there.

Let me also mention that we were short one player, so we convinced a guy to join us who had never played basketball before. In fact, every time we passed him the ball, he started he running with it. So really, it was a game for four against five.

A perfect storm was brewing.

By halftime, we were down 70-7. Again, the compassionate giant offered to stop the hemorrhaging. “Do you want to call it a game?” he asked.

“Look, if anyone quits, it’s going to be your team.” You know, college men can be extremely arrogant.

During the second half, a crowd started to form. People knew they were witnessing history. The other team felt so bad for us, one of their star players came over to our side to coach us.

My personal goal was to lose by less than 100 points—and we achieved it.

We lost 115-20. In the second half we almost doubled our point total and reduced their point total in half. So if we had continued playing another decade or so, we might have caught up with them!

Yet that game embodies the meaning of true faith.

Please join us as we explore this further in our daily Bible conversation.


Ezekiel 27:1-30:26;
Hebrews 11:17-12:13;
Psalm 111:1-112:10;
Proverbs 27:15-17

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.


Hebrews 11 extols the great men and women of faith: Abel, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, even Rahab the recovering prostitute. According to the chapter, the great heroes of faith conquer kingdoms, rout armies, and receive back their dead.

Sounds like the team that spanked my remedial basketball team. In fact, this describes how most people view the life of faith. It’s something nearly unattainable, something limited to only a few great men and women.

The end of the chapter gives us a completely different picture of the life of faith: torture, jeers, floggings, imprisonment, being sawed in two, destitution, persecution, mistreatment. These people wander in deserts and mountains, and live in caves and holes in the ground. “The world was not worthy of them,” the writer reflects on the men and women who drank from the common cup of suffering (Hebrews 11:38).

Wait a minute! This doesn’t fit into our definition of faith. In fact, it more closely resembles my C league basketball team.

Then the writer concludes with a profound comment that brings perspective to my chaotic, self-absorbed life: “And all these, though commended through their faith, did not receive what was promised” (Hebrews 11:39).

What is the truest picture of faith? It isn’t the fulfillment of the promise before we die, it’s dying with the promise unfulfilled. It’s holding on to the promise in the face of overwhelming circumstances that whisper, “Do you want to call it a game?”

Some people would see this as discouraging, but I find this tremendously encouraging. Just because God doesn’t answer all my prayers doesn’t mean I’m a failure at living by faith. Perhaps holding on to Jesus in the middle of a past church firestorm—which I partially brought upon myself—was a greater exercise of faith than when I prayed for a person who was healed.

When Paul explains the armor of God in Ephesians 6, he describes the battle this way:

Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Ephesians 6:13

What’s the picture of the valiant warrior in this passage? Standing. Just … standing. Not overcoming. Not stomping on the Enemy’s head. Just surviving.

If you’ve been beat up in a tough battle, this should come as a relief. You don’t always have to emerge from a struggle with the victory in hand. Sometimes, oftentimes, all you can do is survive. That’s good news.

That’s something anyone can do…if you have faith.


  1. What spoke to you in today’s reading?
  2. How does your definition of faith compare with the end of Hebrews 11?
  3. Do you find encouragement in the definition of faith according to Hebrews 11? Why?
  4. Think back through your life. When were you living by faith–without realizing it?

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

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