Month: October 2010

The Church of Pig Skin

Footballs don’t bleed. They may, and probably have, had the blood of a human being on them during the course of a football game. However the life from which the blood came has infinitely more worth than the leather and laces we watch men and boys chase during the fall. In the United States, football is the most popular sport. Many have outlined the parallels between the sport and our culture: hard work, dedication, conquering territory, violence, etc. Football is our sport. It is quintessentially American. There is no other sport like it. The passion for the game is seen in every bare chested dude with body and face paint braving the frigid temperatures in Buffalo, NY. Every dirty look for mentioning your rival’s name. Every time you stand up when it looks like a running back just might break through the secondary. Every time you yell at your TV. You do it. I do it. Being a fan is fun, exciting and provides a break from life that is much needed from time to time.

This isn’t a Jesus Juke, but it’s worth asking myself:  If a game can insight this kind of passion in me, why not a Savior? If watching men bloody themselves on Friday night through Sunday gets you amped then why not a God-man who’s blood is rich, royal and can wash the very sin that condemns us? If season tickets and pay-per-view are worth our wallet’s affections then how much more should we offer not just our monetary resources, but our entire lives to the Gospel of Christ?

“Anything you love more, fear more, serve more, or value more than God is your idol.” – Adrian Rogers

Our hearts can only esteem so much; only hold so much so high. In other words, there is only so much room in our hearts and what we choose to fill it with is so very important. So naturally, if our hearts, minds and wallets are over-invested in temporal things, the eternal things only get what’s left over. And that’s not worship. That’s idolatry. (Hence this post’s title.)

The Church of Pig Skin has too many members. By that I mean those who idolize American football. This isn’t everyone, but it is some of us. This could easily be said of a more international sport too, soccer. Passion for any game can never trump our passion for the Game-Changer. This isn’t to say we should compare how we approach our faith to how we approach a game. Indeed, we need games and sports. They serve an important purpose, but they are morally neutral. We only defile them by our worship. They weren’t intended for that. They can’t sustain us. Sports can be good for us but sometimes we turn good things into “god” things. There is type of passion and love we can have for sports. However, there is passion, reverence and dedication that should be evident in how we treat the things of God that isn’t comparable to that of a mere game or anything else for that matter.

Jesus is clutch. He is victorious. He is our Redeemer and King. We should treat him as such and not a side-note to life. He is the life. The side-notes are the games. And that’s just why they’re called “games”. 

 

(*photo cred malibuyouthfootball.com)

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The Candidate

Dear blogosphere,

It’s been too long.  So here we go.

I was sitting on a very comfortable couch at Starbucks today doing some much needed preparation for a discipleship event at CBC in a few weeks.  My Zen Green Tea was ballin’. When I had finished it, the barista hooked me up with more hot water to get the most out of that little bag o’ goodness sitting in the bottom of my grande cup.

After sipping and crafting a few thought provoking sentences I gazed out towards the busy highway only to see a huge “Dr. Robert Bentley for Governor” truck parked right outside the window.  The truck was huge and so was the sign.  As I looked longer, I noticed that I had completely looked past Dr. Bentley himself sitting just on the other side of the window from me.  Joining him on the patio was his entourage.  He was surfing the web on his laptop and  completely destroying some iced lemon pound cake that one of his handlers had brought him.  There were about 10 people traveling with him.  Ranging from mid-20s to…well, older than mid-20s.  They were all lively, full of energy and super stoked about their Starbucks stop.

I knew I had viewed his commercials a few times so I definitely recognized him.  He was also easy to identify due to the fact that his handlers were making sure he had everything he needed…from his coffee and pastry to his laptop and earbuds (yes he was rocking white, Apple earbuds).

After coming to the conclusion that I had to speak to him almost entirely because he was eating my favorite pastry, I tweeted this…”Gov candidate Robert Bentley is at Starbucks a few feet from me eating my fav, lemon pound cake. I must speak to him, stand by for details..”  Nearly 10 seconds after tweeting this one of his young campaign aids came in the door and asks all the patrons inside very loudly, “Who is @justinbed on Twitter?”.  “I am”, I said.  It turns out he had a feed of all mentions of Dr. Bentley’s name on Twitter.  So when I posted my tweet, he instantly saw it and sought me out…pretty cool.  He asked if I wanted to speak with Dr. Bentley to which I replied with a resounding “yes”.  So outside we went to where the man himself was reclining.

Dr. Bentley was on his laptop checking out a new commercial that was due to premier today and was more than happy for me to interrupt him and chat.  He was adorned in what all candidates usually sport…slacks, a white dress shirt and a brightly colored (red) tie.  There was one bite left of his pound cake.  I fought the urge and opted not to snatch it up and devour it.

We introduced ourselves and began what ended up being a very pleasant conversation.  With his campaign crew standing just a few feet away, Dr. Bentley told me about his stops in Decatur and Cullman today as well as a stop on the courthouse steps in Athens.  He will also be taking part in the WHNT debate Tuesday night at Athens State.  I began to ask him about his faith but he beat me to it.  Upon learning of my being a student pastor, we proceeded to discuss ways we are reaching people with the Gospel. He was excited to hear about the impact CBC is making in our area.  We also discussed his involvement at his home church in Tuscaloosa.  Hitting topics from Mordecai and Esther to the book of James, we explored some Biblical solutions to the problems our state and country are having.

I was pleased to have the opportunity to ask him an interesting question…How does a politician reconcile faith and politics?  Does political expediency trump values or Biblical principles?  “I want to show people that there can be a honest politician.  It doesn’t have to be an oxymoron.   Who you are must be consistent.” he said.  “Too many politicians don’t believe this way.”  Pretty good answer.  This also took us back to James and the idea of “doing” and not just “hearing” along with being hypocritical.  He knew and cited what he believed.  That was encouraging.

After a few minutes I could tell that his crew was prepping for departure.  Despite this he was very kind and more than willing to talk with me…some random young, shaggy dude at a Starbucks…for a couple of more minutes.  He thanked me for my ministry in this area and I pointed to the propagation of the Gospel as the all-encompassing purpose for us as believers.  But for it, I wouldn’t care enough about our governmental leaders to pray for or even approach one.  I was so glad he confirmed his faith in Christ.  I was prepared to share with him, a potentially very powerful man, the power that is able to raise the dead.  The power that sets the captive (and even politician) free.

I thanked him for his time and went back inside after telling his crew “adios”.  We had a very transparent and honest conversation.  He seemed like a genuine guy who is looking to make a difference.  I am glad to have had a real conversation with someone in his position.  Too many times these type figures don’t seem real to us.  All we normally see is 30 second commercial during an election year unless you are able to catch them at a town hall meeting.  I’ll keep our convo in mind as I review his stance on the issues and pull levers next Tuesday.

So there are the details promised.

jb