Archives For July 2016

CheckmateAs another football season is about to begin, training camps are opening up.

However, there is one star Running Back who will not be in camp.

In 2014 Ray Rice was caught on video punching his wife–fiancee at the time–in an elevator. As the video went viral, the Baltimore Ravens were essentially forced to cut him from the team. Also, because of the despicable act the NFL also banned him for a period of time. Now that the ban is over, teams are not that likely to reinstate him.

All because of one foolish act.

One. Foolish. Act.

For Ray Rice it cost him millions of dollars. Let that sink in. Millions. That is costly.

And to some degree we have all paid a price for a particular act. Usually they are small things, like sleeping through our alarm one morning or eating too much during the holidays or even getting a speeding ticket.

But what about the more serious “foolish acts”?

Things that impact your entire life and derail you from the path you had planned to take.   Some things can even destroy your dreams.

I’ve witnessed the fallout of a happy marriage when a one-night stand destroyed it all.  Or what about the single Tweet that cost a young college-grad her job before it even started.  Or the person who didn’t get a promotion because of something posted on Facebook.

Many will have to watch their hopes and dreams crumble because of one foolish act. Sad.  Ray Rice is one of them.

Did you know the Bible tells about a person who could only look at his dream from a distance?  It was Moses.

In Deuteronomy 34:4 it says, “And the Lord said to him, “This is the land of which I swore to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, ‘I will give it to your offspring.’ I have let you see it with your eyes, but you shall not go over there.”

Why?  Because of one foolish act during Moses’ time leading Israel to the Promised Land. Water was scarce and the people were complaining. If you are a parent and have ever traveled a long distance with your kids, perhaps you can relate a little.

At any rate Moses was human and lost his patience. In fact, he got angry. However, despite the circumstances Moses still needed to obey the LORD.

And the LORD had told Moses to speak to the rock.

But that’s not what happened.  “Then Moses and Aaron gathered the assembly together before the rock, and he said to them, “Hear now, you rebels: shall we bring water for you out of this rock?” And Moses lifted up his hand and struck the rock with his staff twice, and water came out abundantly, and the congregation drank, and their livestock.”  (Numbers:20:10-11 ESV).

While it may seem like a small thing to hit the rock rather than speak to the rock, it was still an act of rebellion. Plus when you look more closely it appears to the people that Moses was the provider of water. After all, he is the one who hit the rock.

Had he spoken to the rock and water came out it would have been obvious that the LORD was the provider.

Because Moses that day, in a moment of anger, acted rashly and brought attention and honor to himself, he had to suffer the consequences.  God took it seriously, and that one foolish act proved to be very costly.

So stay alert in your decisions and your actions. Be aware of oncoming temptations. Don’t be sidelined by one foolish act.

Unsplash_successAre losers really losers?

It sounds contradictory. It seems like a dilemma.

In the sports world we define so many great athletes and coaches not only by wins & losses, but also by championships.

Can you imagine being a football coach who takes your team to the super Bowl 4 years in a row and you are still labeled as a loser by many only because you didn’t walk away with the trophy? It happened to Marv Levy as coach of the Buffalo Bills. In one of those games, the outcome would have been a win if a field goal kick had been just 2 feet in the other direction.

Bud Grant was the coach of the Minnesota Vikings who also lost 4 Super Bowls. Was he a loser?

Many great coaches have only gone to the Super Bowl once. Because they walked away with the trophy that one time, we label them as winners.

But think about it. Do you realize how hard it is to get the Super Bowl even once? How about taking your team four times? Very few coaches have ever done that. So are they losers? I would say not.

In Hebrews 11, there is a list we often refer to as God’s Hall of Fame. In verses 36-39 there are a group of people who aren’t even named. They were virtual unknowns who never saw their reward on earth. No recognition, no pats on the back, no rewards. In fact, the polar opposite. But God was watching, and eventually God made it right. In verse 40, it says “God provided something better…”

And today while many still consider Marv Levy and Bud Grant losers, they did get elected to the Football Hall of Fame. Because there are those who recognize their true value as winners.

Guess what? You may be smart, loaded with talent, and loaded with skill. But the circumstances around you just are not in your favor. You may feel like you are losing your own personal “Super Bowl”. But you are not a loser. Keep on keeping on and stay in the game. God is keeping score.

WatchdogIsaiah 56:10 (ESV)

His watchmen are blind;

they are all without knowledge;

they are all silent dogs;

they cannot bark,

dreaming, lying down, loving to slumber.

One of my favorite stories working with my dad happened at Andrews Air Force Base. Dad owned a steel erection company, and I was a foreman for one of the crews.  One day the crane operator was on vacation, so Dad came out to run the crane. That day I worked as a connector, which means I was up on the building and when the crane operator swung the steel into position, I was waiting with another guy to bolt it in place.

The connector is in constant communication with the crane operator using hand signals to position the steel where it needs to go.  Hand signals are the best way to communicate because the distance and the noise of the crane and other equipment make talking or even shouting almost impossible.

But on that particular day my dad shouted at me all day long, trying to tell me how to do my job. To be clear my dad was not mad at me. Loud was simply his normal way of communication, so shouting was not hard for him. Sometimes people thought his typical speaking voice was at a shouting level.

The next day the crane operator came back to work, so Dad stayed in the office.

When I arrived that morning a construction worker from another company on the job asked me, “Who was that man that yelled at you all day yesterday?” When I replied it was my dad, he didn’t buy it until another coworker backed me up that, yes, it really had been my dad. His final words were, “Man, I have never heard a man holler like that in my life.”

My dad could, and sometimes would, incessantly holler all day. But my dad wanted me to be the best. He was my most loyal friend on the job. Without a doubt, my dad molded my life more than anyone else.

In Isaiah’s day there were watchmen who would not bark. Granted most people do not want to be barked at. But prophets were to sound the alarm when the people drifted. Let’s be honest. It’s easy to drift…in our habits, in our eating, in our materialism,  in our time on the internet, and even in the way we dress (I could wear the same t-shirt for weeks).  Sometimes we need a person who cares enough to bark.  We need parents, coaches, mentors, teachers, professors, and pastors who will bark at us when we drift.

You know, that day is one of the fondest memories of my life and of the days working with my dad. 

I’m thankful I had someone who cared enough to bark.

July 1 is a big day in sports since many NBA (National Basketball Association) players become free agents. Which means they are looking for contracts with sweet deals and lots of money. Some have landed huge contracts, including guys you have never heard of.

I even mentioned to Carol that the amount of money is unreal when compared to some of the contracts in the NFL (National Football League), and football is by far a more popular and lucrative sport in this country.

And wouldn’t you know it?

NFL players have noticed and begun to compare. Now their huge contracts are considered peanuts to some of the newer ones in the NBA.

Before July 1 the NFL players considered themselves winners. Now they are losers. That’s what comparing does.

There is always someone who is faster, smarter, richer, prettier, talenter–OK, I made up that last word, but you get the picture.

One NFL player even tweeted that he had picked the wrong sport.

And you will do the same thing. You will think, “I should have chosen……….as my career.”

The fact is when you compare, you will never measure up.

No wonder the Bible warns against comparing. “Not that we dare to classify or compare ourselves with some of those who are commending themselves. But when they measure themselves by one another and compare themselves with one another, they are without understanding” (2 Corinthians 10:12, ESV).

No wonder depression is at an all time high. We are comparing our lives with the highlight reels of our friends and neighbors on Facebook, Twitter, or in life in general. It may happen in sports July 1, but it invades our lives when someone we know gets married, gets a new car, lands a new job, or takes an exotic vacation.

And we can’t catch a break. Or so it seems.

On June 30 NFL players went to bed as winners; when they went to bed on July 1, they felt like losers.

Avoid the trap. Avoid comparison or you too will go to bed at night feeling like a loser.