During any given practice, there are those moments when a player needs to be corrected for making a mistake in carrying out his or her assignment. However, it is much more often the case when the player could not be made to feel any worse for having committed the error.
Players caught in such a moment would likely be seen slapping themselves upside the head and heard muttering something to the effect of, “Dangit…that was stupid…sorry coach.”
As a football coach (it all comes back to football), my standard response would be to place a hand on the shoulder of the player and then speak in a tone that insinuated I was letting him in on one of life’s greatest secrets. “Relax,” I would say, “that’s why we aren’t playing the game today. We are practicing so that YOU WILL get it right on gameday.”
I was reminded of that coaching point during a recent sermon.
The church I attend has recently had a great focus on how to truly love in the Christian sense. And just like that player described hitting himself upside the head, I have been beating myself up over what I have been perceiving as mistake after mistake after mistake…
Unfortunately, the conviction on my heart was far beyond my simply being able to raise my hand with the admission of “my bad” and then moving on to the next play. But after being better coached on the lessons found within our Christian Bible (Ephesians 4:20-27), I am starting to feel a hand upon my shoulder and the whispers of reassurance. Let me explain:
I would be watching a news broadcast of riots, and…
I would be witnessing the persecution of Christians by Islamic fundamentalists, and…
I would see the further persecution of Christians by the United States government or by citizens of our country, and…
Someone would mistreat my kids and…
Whoa…now you know how that one ends. Mess with me all you want, but mess with my kids and…
Hate with action, and as a former marine I felt that I would be more than able and willing to take the action.
That is what I would PRACTICE in my mind, but then…
A good coach always works to get his players ready to perform at their peaks on gameday. Peak too early, and your players waste a whole lot of good plays on the practice field. Too late, and your players are going to lose–big.
As an old ball coach, I have come to realize that it is better to prepare to win. So, excuse me as I go back to reading that Great Playbook. Today isn’t gameday, but tomorrow just might be.
Texans are a proud bunch. And I do mean proud. They are not arrogant. They are merely outwardly sympathetic to any and all persons whom come from some other less fortunate state.
However, what many “native” Texans (sometimes limited to those whom have a lineage linked to Stephen F. Austin’s “Old Three Hundred”, but may include others also permitted by the Mexican government to settle the land of Coahuila y Tejas during the early 1800’s) may not realize is that we “imports” likely have just as much in common with the early pioneers of the old republic.
Those early American imports to Texas were not only seeking out a large tract of land or new place to live…in many cases, they had troubles in their lives that had become far too out of control or too overwhelming for them to handle on their own. They were searching, hoping,…they were praying for a new beginning when they made the decision to go to Texas.
As a matter of fact, it became a common occurrence for friends, family members, business associates, and sometimes even creditors to go and knock on the door of an empty house and find nothing but three letters written on the door: GTT.
Gone To Texas. That was the way in which the overwhelmed and distraught would announce to the world that they had left their troubles behind and went out to claim their new beginning.
How many of us–at least one time in our lives–have found ourselves in a state where we felt overwhelmed, distraught, or hopeless?
How refreshing would it be…how good and proper would it be for us to show the world exactly where we went to claim our new beginning, our new hope, our renewed joy?
I am putting forth today, my friends, that it is more than good–it is essential–for us to visibly stake our claim. We are living in a day and age where we need to boldly show our detractors as well as our admirers exactly where we have chosen to dwell.
We have gone to the Rock.
We have gone to the Word.
We have gone to live out the rest of our lives within the boundaries of joy, of peace, and of love.
GTJ. We have Gone To Jesus.
A Reborn Battle Cry
Next, I would like to take the plight which those early Texans had with their Mexican government and juxtapose it against what Washington, D.C. is dispensing out to citizens today.
And so it came to pass, that in order to draw in settlers to the land of Tejas the Mexican government had put forth some provisions. Among others, were the provisions that Catholicism would be the religion of the state and that there would be a moratorium on any new taxes.
No new taxes for any period of time was certainly compelling as it would provide an opportunity for the new pioneers of the land to establish for themselves a solid fiscal foundation. Something which the majority of them were in desperate need of.
In regards to Catholicism, it was more than implied to the early settlers of protestant heritage that the enforcement of the mandate was more a formality of paperwork as opposed to any ideal that would ever be enforced.
Had the Mexican government stayed true to the ideals of their own constitution, then Texas may to this day have still been a part of our southern neighbor. Instead, new taxes and a forced change on how people were permitted to worship became the politics of the day.
The government did not adhere to its founding document.
Well, these new citizens of Tejas having barely been a generation removed from the memory of the American Revolution were not about to allow any of their religious rights or hard earned money be taken away without a certain amount of grumbling.
The Mexican government and especially the president, Antonio Lopez De Santa Anna, caught wind of some of this discontent and decided to take action against these lowly citizens.
So, in the town of Gonzales was a cannon which the Mexican government had given the people in order to help protect them from Indian invaders. President Santa Anna, knowing that it would not be wise to leave such a weapon in the hands of a people that might decide to turn on him gave orders to go and take that cannon away from the town of Gonzales. And that brings us to this scene:
The Battle Begins
A small group of lowly insignificant citizens decided to take a stand. They decided to not allow their cannon or their rights be stripped away. They decided to not be told how it was they could worship. They decided to take a stand and say “You want it, then Come and Take It.”
And thus began the Texas Revolution.
This is the legacy to which we all have a claim.
And now, let us bring our focus to today and to what else you have a claim.
Consider the following:
“And make no mistake, hostility toward Christians in the United States is on the rise and will grow unless we stand up for our freedoms of religion and conscience.” ~Franklin Graham, Charisma News, May 13, 2016
“In short, Christians in the US are facing constant attacks in the media, where they are portrayed as bigoted, racist, sexist, and closeminded…More importantly, Christians and all religious people are being marginalized through the law.” ~International Christian Concern, 2016 Hall of Shame: New and Noteworthy Countries [United States]
“Hostility to religious expression in America continues to grow at an alarming rate…Quantitatively and qualitatively, the hostility is undeniable. And it is dangerous.” ~First Liberty Institute, 2016 Undeniable
Now some would revise our history in order to put forth the argument that the United States of America was not founded on Christianity.
Samuel Adams would disagree.
“Driven from every other corner of the earth, freedom of thought and the right of private judgment in matters of conscience direct their course to this happy country as their last asylum.” —Samuel Adams, August 1, 1776
I would put forth that this nation was founded by those that had to worship in secret and in barns and basements until the day that they might break away from their oppression in order to seek freedom–specifically religious freedom–in a new land.
Some would have us believe that the American founding fathers were non-believers themselves and that the United States Constitution is not a document founded on Christian Principles.
Thomas Paine had a bit more common sense.
“Securing freedom and property to all men, and above all things, the free exercise of religion, according to the dictates of conscience…But where, says some, is the King of America? I’ll tell you. Friend, he reigns above…” ~Thomas Paine, Common Sense, 1776
Some would site polls like those from the Pew Foundation that found those identifying as non-religious in the US rose by seven percent, to 23 percent of the total US adult population within just seven years (2007 to 2014).
And I would say how sad it is that we are allowing ourselves to be forced back into our barns and into our basements as we are told that we can no longer worship out in the public square for fear it might offend the loud and obtrusive minority.
Some would say that we cannot possibly take on the entirety of the Liberal elite, the Hollywood Left, and the colossal United States Government.
To that I say,…
“…Who is this uncircumcised Philistine that he should defy the armies of the living God?” ~David, 1 Samuel 17:26
A New Banner – A New Challenge
We are living in a time of opportunity, my friends. A time when we are either going to plant our flag high atop a hill and defend it, or we are going to allow the light from the shining city upon the hill to be extinguished forever.
So I ask you, do we have men of courage and women of courage today?
Do you have the courage to love in the face of hate?
Do you have the courage to put on the full armor of God on a daily basis and give to your family the spiritual covering they so desperately need in the anti-Christian climate of today?
Do you have the courage to say ‘yes’ to the Lord’s calling for you?
Do you have the courage to stand on that wall and defend that shining city upon the hill?
When you say yes, will you continue to display courage when the devil attacks you with all he has?
Now, for those that are unsure of themselves…unsure of whether they want to be–or deserve to be–part of the rank and file…please know this:
You deserve that personal relationship with Jesus Christ, and that gift is free and available now–yours for the taking.
Just Come And Take It…
Come and take the gift of forgiveness. Come and take the joyful life you so desperately want. Come and take up the shield – that warrior’s spirit- that is going to allow you to become that shining example to others. Come and take the Word and the everlasting life provided by the Father and His Son, Jesus Christ.
COME AND TAKE IT
Habakkuk 2:1 (GW) God’s Word
“I will stand at my guard post. I will station myself on the wall…” ~Habakkuk 2:1
To get your own “New Banner” to show the world, click on the t-shirt below:
A great many of my friends have come up to me the last few days offering a pat on the back and their (sometime) sincere condolences. The interaction almost invariably proceeds something like this:
Them: “Man, it’s too bad what happened to your Buckeyes in the playoffs.”
Me: “Oh, I am fine. I have been pulling for the Clemson Tigers all season long.”
Them: “Yeah, right. Sure you have. But you’ve got ‘Bama in the championship, right?”
Me: “Nope. I will be rooting for Clemson next Monday night as well.”
Them: “What? How can you be rooting for the Clemson Tigers?”
One week from tonight, the undefeated Crimson Tide of Alabama will be going for their gazillionth college football national championship against Clemson University.
The Tigers of Clemson come into the contest with a blemish on their season record. Coach Swinney’s Tigers lost this past November to a team that does not rank in the top-twenty nor was that team capable of winning one of those other bowl games.
And, oh yeah, Alabama beat Clemson last year for the 2016 title.
So, how can I be rooting for the Clemson Tigers?
‘Bama v. Clemson OR ‘How’ v. ‘Why’
According to his bio on the Clemson Tiger website, Coach Swinney has coached football at two universities.
Coach Dabo Swinney began his college coaching career in 1993 at Alabama which just so happens to be where he gained his playing experience and college degree. He then made his way to Clemson University where he has remained for the past 13 football seasons rising up to the rank of head coach for the past six of those seasons.
Two universities in twenty-six plus seasons of college coaching. My friends, that harkens back to a mostly bygone era of college coaching when integrity was the rule and not the vast exception.
I, myself, was guilty of too often looking for greener pastures as opposed to focusing on the moment and the blessing I had in being able to coach football and shape the lives of young men.
Coach Swinney has a laser sharp focus on both those things.
Consider the Following
Clemson University Football, according to a December TIME Magazine article, is #2 nationally in the annual academic rankings.
Empirically, Coach Dabo Swinney is one of the best in the country at providing the academic environment which allows for the shaping of scholars.
And if you review the clip below, then I think you would agree that there is no better example of a major college football coach leading his student-athletes into manhood.
(Background: The YouTube clip is a 4min. snippet of Coach Swinney’s response to a question regarding Colin Kaepernick’s kneeling during the national anthem.)
Here is a person of Christian values. Here is a coach who is man enough to profess and share those values. And not only that, he is willing to speak the name of Jesus while representing his public university employer. There are not many universities that would back such actions from their football coach; and for that reason (among others), there are even fewer coaches today whom are willing to openly speak what they truly believe.
That is courage. That is leading from the front. That is a man you want mentoring your son.
So, how is it that I can be rooting for the Clemson Tigers you ask.
Thank you all for the great contributions to this very first exchange of ideas in the Read the Red series.
(You can refresh your memory on Read the Red (No.1) by clicking: RTR-1)
I have to divulge that my FCA group had a bit of an issue focusing in on the true target of this exercise. Many of their responses resonated with the regurgitating sound of the book reports to which they had all become accustomed:
“Joseph and Mary took their son Jesus to Jerusalem to celebrate Passover. Jesus was about twelve years old. They left Jesus behind when they left to go home. When they discovered that Jesus was missing, they got real worried. They returned to Jerusalem and found Him sitting in the temple talking to the teachers, and then He said…”
You get the idea.
Read the Red (no.1)
Luke 2:49 (NIV)
49 “Why were you searching for me?” he asked. “Didn’t you know I had to be in my Father’s house?”
Again, the ideas that were put forth in regards to this first scripture were wonderful.
Perhaps the funniest of them all was:
“Now I don’t have to feel so guilty because that is pretty much what my nine-year-old said to me when I forgot her at my in-law’s house one Christmas.”
The great majority of the responses likened Jesus’ first words to an invitation for the reader. I could not agree more with that assessment.
Following are some of your interpretations (or translations):
“How can I help you, my child?”
“You never need to feel alone, for I am always here with you.” His first words bring full circle His final words before going to heaven (Matthew 28:20).
He is telling us where to go when we need help, to church (His father’s house).
He is inviting us to church.
Is it not abundantly appropriate that we are considering this first passage as all of us approach the new year and many are seeking the way to a new beginning?
Read the Red (no.2)
Below you will find our second red phrase to be considered:
Matthew 3:15 (NIV)15 Jesus replied, “Let it be so now; it is proper for us to do this to fulfill all righteousness.”
The idea is simple: Isolateand focus on those words and parables in the Bible that are written in red-those attributed to our Lord Jesus Christ.
Your questions, comments, and answers are alwaysappreciated. But please remember that for this particular set of blogs, your participation is essential.
Reminder: You can feel free to leave a comment below (and thus begin an open discussion), or you might be more comfortable sending me your thoughts and questions via the Contact page.