Because Longhorn football has been elevated to #1 in the nation, this year, I thought it would be good to review some football terminology. Here is some football theology compiled from several reference works including the ‘Religious Broadcasting’ magazine.
Backfield-in-Motion - Making a trip to the back (restroom or water fountain) during the service.
Bench warmer - Those who do not sing, pray or work. Apparently they do nothing but sit.
Blitz - The rush for the restaurants following the closing prayer.
Blocking - Standing inside the church door complaining to the pastor about the sermon.
Extra point - What you receive when you tell the preacher the sermon was too short.
Flex Defense - The ability to allow absolutely nothing said during the sermon to affect your life.
Fumble - A lousy sermon.
Halfback Option - The decision of 50% of the congregation to skip the service.
Halftime - The period between Sunday School and Worship when many choose to leave.
Illegal motion - Leaving before the benediction.
Instant Replay - The preacher loses his notes and falls back on last week’s illustrations.
Quarterback sneak (in the first quarter) - Sunday School teachers entering the church building five minutes after Sunday School begins.
Quarterback Sneak (in the last quarter) - Worshipper quietly gets up during the invitation and sneaks out of church ahead of everybody.
Not to be confused with…
End Run - Getting out of church quickly, without speaking to any guest or fellow member.
Staying in the Pocket - What happens to a lot of money that should be given to the Lord’s work.
Sudden Death - What happens to the attention span of the congregation if the preacher goes "overtime".
Trap - You’re called on to pray and are asleep.
Two-minute Warning (from the preacher’s perspective) - The chairman of the board sitting in a front-row pew, taking a look at his watch in full view of the preacher.
Two-minute Warning (from the parishioner’s perspective) - The point at which you realize the sermon is almost over and begin to gather up your children and belongings.
I gave my first New Year’s message to a small Kansas church, when I was 15. With few exceptions, I have had the privilege to speak from that same Scripture Text each New Year’s for 50+ years. The basic message has not changed. It seems to get longer each year, so I hope you are not too hungry. Please allow an old man the opportunity to repeat himself.
"I’m going to do better this year!"
Ah! The first (and last) stanza of the
"New Year’s Anthem."
One of the many problems with self-improvement for Spiritual ends comes because we must reach within ourselves for the resources for that improvement. The human mind has only one tool for self-improvement and that is reformation.
If you are going to have reformation.., THEN you must know what you are going to reform. Right?!?! Therefore, we must look into our past life to see what we can reform. Alas, alas!! With careful examination of our past, we find that it’s in bad shape.
If we are going to build a better structure, on such an out-of-line past foundation, we have a BIG problem! Therefore, the best of human logic kicks in. The better structure MUST be built on a better foundation, because the foundation is ALL IMPORTANT. Therefore, we must clean-up and fix-up the past.
Such logic makes GOOD sense, to the human mind. As a matter of fact, it is the ONLY sense that the human mind can foster, in this matter.
One of the MANY problems with such finite logic is that you CAN’T fix-up or clean-up the past. Even if your past is relatively good, from a human standpoint, there is no way you can build a Spiritual life on that relatively good foundation.
I know! Human philosophy says it’s the logical way and the only way, but then human philosophy never prepared anyone for eternity.
An account written by George Will with a few edits makes that point. Mr. Will writes…
Umpires are carved from granite and stuffed with microchips. They are professional dispensers of pure justice.
Once when an umpire called Babe Ruth out on strikes. Ruth made a humanist argument. Ruth based his reasoning on a fallacy (as humans do). Ruth concluded that numbers equate as moral weight, and said.. "There’s 40,000 people here who know that last pitch was a ball.., tomato head."
The umpire replied with measured stateliness,
"Maybe so, but mine is the only opinion that counts."
Even though human logic would indicate something other than God’s instructions, if we are to have the benefits of God’s promises, we must remember that only one opinion counts.
Jeremiah 17:9 "The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; Who can know it?
Proverbs 17:20 He who has a deceitful (that is EVERY human) heart finds no good, and he who has a perverse (that is EVERY human) tongue falls into evil.
Proverbs 21:2 Every way of a man is right in his own eyes, but the LORD weighs the hearts. 3 To do righteousness and justice is more acceptable to the LORD than sacrifice. 4 A haughty look, a proud heart, and the plowing of the wicked (that is EVERY human) are sin.
That’s the plight of religious people who are trying to become Spiritual by their own good deeds. Striving to become more like God using only the internal resources of the human heart, simply makes a deceitful heart more deceitful and a perverse heart more perverse. EVEN though, to another deceitful and perverse heart, such may be seen as a Spiritual act.
All this self-inspection and examination of the past in order to bring Spirituality to the future simply brings greater and greater self-centeredness. Great self-centeredness may bring a more religious look, but it takes a person further and further away from anything truly Spiritual.
Proverbs 23:7 for as he thinks in his heart, so is he...
When mankind finally realizes that they cannot Spiritually improve the future by inspecting the past, humanity often takes one of three actions, or a combination of them:
1. Bring others down to their low human level, by any means possible
2. Elevate themselves, in the opinions of others, by false and phony actions
3. Try to destroy the others by any means available
James 4:1 Where do wars and fights come from among you? Do they not come from your desires for pleasure that war in your members? 2 You lust and do not have. You murder and covet and cannot obtain. You fight and war. Yet you do not have because you do not ask. 3 You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss, that you may spend it on your pleasures.
That is the human method, whether in the church, home, government, at play, or the United Nations, etc. However, God does have a method of making a Believer more and more like Himself, and proper participation in God’s method will make a person Spiritual.
This method of God’s does require our involvement. God’s method does require that we do certain things, but those actions do not make us Spiritual. The human actions, required by God, only make it possible for God to work in our lives to bring about Spirituality.
Philippians 3:13 Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead,
It’s strange that God would tell us here in Philippians to FORGET, when over and over again, in the Bible, He has told us NOT TO FORGET.
Deuteronomy 4:9 "Only take heed to yourself, and diligently keep yourself, lest you forget the things your eyes have seen, and lest they depart from your heart all the days of your life. And teach them to your children and your grandchildren,
Deuteronomy 4:23 "Take heed to yourselves, lest you forget the covenant of the LORD your God which He made with you, and make for yourselves a carved image in the form of anything which the LORD your God has forbidden you.
Deuteronomy 6:12 "then beware, lest you forget the LORD who brought you out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage.
Psalms 103:2 Bless the LORD, O my soul, And forget not all His benefits:
Psalms 9:17 The wicked shall be turned into hell, And all the nations that forget God.
Psalms 88:12 Shall Your wonders be known in the dark? And Your righteousness in the land of forgetfulness?
James 1:25 But he who looks into the perfect law of liberty and continues in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work, this one will be blessed in what he does.
The word for forget, as used in the O.T. passages and the James passage, has the meaning of..
Forget = (Greek) Caused by negligence or lack of attention; A hearer characterized by neglectfulness (negative)
In Philippians the word forget has the meaning of…
Forgetting = (Greek) To put out of mind by lack of use or by the lack of constant attention (Not as a dog with a bone); To escape notice willfully (positive)
Only God can forget, in the truest sense. God forgets sins, not because He is an old man, BUT because those sins are paid for and washed away by the blood of Christ.
God is not asking us to have the past taken out of our memory through some method like shock treatment. The past is to be put aside through a willful act in that we do not give constant attention to it. This is for the purpose of freeing our minds and attention, so we can focus on and reach forward to the future and the REAL purpose of life.
On New Year’s Day, 1929, Georgia Tech played UCLA in the Rose Bowl. In that game a young man named Roy Riegels recovered a fumble for the UCLA Bruins.
Picking up the loose ball, he lost his direction and ran sixty-five yards toward the wrong goal line. One of his teammates, Benny Lom, ran him down and tackled him just before he scored for the opposing team. Several plays later, the Bruins had to punt. Tech blocked the kick and scored a safety, demoralizing the UCLA team.
This strange play came in the first half. At half-time the UCLA players filed off the field and into the dressing room. As others sat down on benches and the floor, Riegels sat down in a corner, and put his face in his hands.
A football coach usually has a great deal to say to his team during halftime. That day Coach Price was quiet, no doubt trying to decide what to do with Riegels. When the timekeeper came in and announced that there were three minutes before playing time, Coach Price looked at the team and said, "Men, the same team that played the first half will start the second."
The players got up and started out, all but Riegels. He didn’t budge. The coach looked back and called to him, but Riegels didn’t move. Coach Price went over to where Riegels sat and said, "Roy, didn’t you hear me? The same team that played the first half will start the second."
Roy Riegels looked up, his cheeks wet with tears. "Coach," he said, "I can’t do it. I’ve ruined you. I’ve ruined the university’s reputation. I’ve ruined myself. I can’t face that crowd out there." Coach Price reached out, put his hand on Riegels’s shoulder, and said,
"Roy, get up and go on back.
The game is only "half" over."
Riegels finally did get up. He went onto the field, and the fans saw him play hard and play well.
All of us have run a long way in the wrong direction, many times in this game of life. Because of God’s mercy, however, the game is only half over.
-- Wayne Rouse
When our minds are constantly focused on the GLORY or the PAIN of the past, we have no motive for the future, only the fear of repeated pain, or the false hope of phantom glory.
for the purpose of the present
our motivation for the future.
As a result..,
We squander the present
by living in the past!
Philippians 3:13Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead,
Apprehend = (Greek) To take or seize
Reach = (Greek) To stretch oneself forward, as at the finish line of a race
What are we to forget and what are we to reach for? Paul gives some clues, through using his life as an example.
Philippians 3:7But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ. 8 But indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ 9 and be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith; 10 that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death, 11 if, by any means, I may attain to the resurrection from the dead.
Paul said all the earthly things that could profit him, he willingly gave up, so that he might have the knowledge of Christ, that he might gain Christ, and so he would really know Christ.
Philippians 3:12Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me. 13 Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, 14 I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. 5 Therefore let us, as many as are mature, have this mind; and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal even this to you.
Philippians 3:7But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ.
Philippians 1:20according to my earnest expectation and hope that in nothing I shall be ashamed, but that with all boldness, as always, so now also Christ will be magnified in my body, whether by life or by death. 21 For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain.
Paul had the "Good, the Bad and the Ugly" all wrapped up in his past. Paul had it all.
* A good background
* A Jew of the Jews, plus all the privileges of a Roman citizen
* The best training
* Political and religious power
* The best of all futures – as one of the "Seventy"
* A speculator conversion
* A special "Call" from God
* Special revelation from God
* Brutally treated
* Rejection in almost every town
* Falsely treated as a criminal
* Jailed several times without cause
IS THE GOD GIVEN FORMULA
It is "Forgetting"… …NOT "Forget"
This is a process, not a single act. We are not to ignore what God has done in our lives, but we must look forward to what He is yet to do.
Paul didn’t spend his time and energy trying to re-live the past so he could cope with the present. He didn’t try to get a "present high" by re-living the past glory. Memories have GREAT value, but should NOT be the source or the controller of the present or the future.
Galatians 2:20"I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.
Paul did not live in depression because of past hurts or failures.
1Timothy 1:15This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief. 16 However, for this reason I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might show all longsuffering, as a pattern to those who are going to believe on Him for everlasting life.
Paul didn’t say, "Join a support group and feed off each other’s sins & failures." He did say, "Look where I was. See what God did. See how God did it. NOW ‘get cracking’ and follow my example!" The events of tomorrow did not destroy his effectiveness for today through fear, nor did the past defeat him because of regrets.
Romans 8:36As it is written: "For Your sake we are killed all day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter." 37 Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.
Where are the Spiritual conquerors today????
Conquer = To defeat or subdue by force, especially by force of arms; To gain or secure control of as if by force of arms; To overcome or surmount by physical, mental, or moral force; To be victorious
Most are not conquering in these things. Instead, most are being conquered by these things. Some can’t use God’s grace to conquer, so they turn to a false teaching that says "we are to just relax and let God do it". There is a "measure" of truth in that false teaching, but we must also realize that God commanded that we conquer through Him. We are to conquer by defeating and subduing by force.
If we use the past for anything more than "Building Blocks and Memories", the past has become our present AND our future. BUT some would protest, "You don’t know my circumstances". No! I don’t. BUT if your circumstances supersede or are greater than those of Paul, THEN maybe, you have a case.
Philippians 3:15 Therefore let us, as many as are mature, have this mind;
It is a sign of immaturity (or childishness) when:
We waste TODAY fantasying about tomorrow,
fretting about yesterday.
There is vast difference between making plans for the future by properly evaluating the past, and constantly living in, and being controlled by the past.
Let the past make us thankful for the joys we’ve had, and let the past teach us from its mistakes. Trying to live again the joys of the past will only be fantasies, because they can never be realized again.
Joys of the present and/or the future can be a reality, plus they become a motivation to reach forward. Only the joys of the present or the future can be ours to possess. The hurts of the past should make us wise and cautious in our actions for the present and the future. LISTEN my Christian friend! God has said that our past and our suffering - WILL bring us GOOD, GLORY, REWARDS, Etc.
By "wallowing" in our past, our FEAR FACTOR becomes directed at the wrong object. We should fear something in the past that DOES have a great deal to do with our present.
Hebrews 4:1Therefore, since a promise remains of entering His rest, let us fear lest any of you seem to have come short of it. 2 For indeed the gospel was preached to us as well as to them; but the word which they heard did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in those who heard it.
The Israelites in the wilderness had "not mixed the promises with faith" because they were looking back to Egypt.
Hebrews 4:11Let us therefore be diligent to enter that rest, lest anyone fall after the same example of disobedience. 12 For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.
If we are not diligently and eagerly reaching forward, we will also find ourselves living in a Spiritual "Wilderness"
GOD SAYS THE PAST CAN BE FORGIVEN
AND PUT ASIDE !
WE CAN ONLY BUILD THE FUTURE ON HIS PROMISES !
NOT ON OUR PAST !
What a horrid epitaph:
He had no present!
He never had a future!
He was totally consumed by those things
which had already happened.
Tomorrow is always the hope of the future,
but not the reality of present.
Tomorrow’s promises carry no guarantees but
GOD’S PROMISES DO!!
It matter not what factors keep you living in the past, God can take care of those bygone things, give you a future and change your "backwardness" to an eternal perspective.
regrets for sins past
keep you glued to the past..,
in the forgiveness and cleansing of sin.
That’s what the Cross was all about!
pride of past good deeds
the desire to receive proper recognition
has grabbed your attentions…,
in rewarding every good deed!
There was a past New Year’s day like no other!! On that New Year’s day there were NO crowds in Time Square. There were only eight people and a bunch of animals in an ark on top of a mountain, BUT they had much to celebrate and a wide open future!
Genesis 8:13And it came to pass in the six hundred and first year, in the first month, the first day of the month, that the waters were dried up from the earth; and Noah removed the covering of the ark and looked, and indeed the surface of the ground was dry. 14 And in the second month, on the twenty-seventh day of the month, the earth was dried. 15 Then God spoke to Noah, saying, 16 "Go out of the ark, you and your wife, and your sons and your sons’ wives with you.
The people of Noah’s time had forgotten God and had become totally consumed with the joys and cares of just living. These people were not preoccupied with their past, they were only living for the present.
Just living for the present is not the goal. The goal is yet in the future and is the prize and high calling of God. That crowd of long ago had no time for God, they were too busy with things.
These of Noah’s time, had no thought of reaching forward to the prize of the high calling of God. They had become preoccupied with marrying, having kids and trying to find a comfortable life. They had become overly-busy with little league, the orthodontists, work, social gatherings, etc.
These things had so possessed their lives that God was pushed to second place or maybe even to last place. Then, God was pushed clear out of their lives because of these important things that just had to be done.
Matthew 24:37"But as the days of Noah were, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be. 38 "For as in the days before the flood, they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, 39 "and did not know until the flood came and took them all away, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be.
Once God was replaced by these "important things" of kids and living, the things of God soon became profane.
Profane = (Greek) Permitted to be trodden on + accessible = A Threshold. That which lacks all relationship or affinity to God.
They allowed divine things to slip from the place of importance to the status of a threshold, only to be stepped over in accessing that which was on the opposite side of a door. Being profane is just one step from being ungodly and immoral.
Genesis 6:5Then the LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. 6 And the LORD was sorry that He had made man on the earth, and He was grieved in His heart. 7 So the LORD said, "I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth, both man and beast, creeping thing and birds of the air, for I am sorry that I have made them." 8 But Noah found grace in the eyes of the LORD.
Maybe the folks in Noah’s day didn’t start off to make the things of God profane. They may have intended to put their creator first, BUT that eating, drinking, marrying and giving in marriage took so much time.... AND was SO important!
GOD SIMPLY BECAME
FOR NOAH’S SOCIETY
TO MOVE FROM POINT "A" TO POINT "B".
HOW IMPORTANT IS GOD IN YOUR LIFE?
HOW IMPORTANT IS THE CHURCH IN YOUR LIFE ?
Matthew 6:24"No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.
Galatians 1:10For do I now persuade men, or God? Or do I seek to please men? For if I still pleased men, I would not be a servant of Christ.
Noah wanted that NEW BEGINNING, AND was willing to pay the price to get that new beginning. God asked for Noah’s undivided devotion, and his unwavering attention to the future. Noah’s reaching to the future was evidenced by the way he lived his life in the present.
Hebrews 11:6But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him. 7 By faith Noah, being divinely warned of things not yet seen, moved with godly fear, prepared an ark for the saving of his household, by which he condemned the world and became heir of the righteousness which is according to faith.
God did not ask Noah to do and live like the world around him, so that they could see that he could "play" better than the world. THEN like magic, he would be able to share his faith with his fans. Instead God said, "Let me give you a real challenge. Live like no other has ever lived, do something that no other has ever done. In so doing, you will save yourself, your family and you will be a witness to the world around you."
Noah took a stand and committed himself to the work, whatever that work might be AND he followed through. I am sure there were times he thought,
"Why Me?" Those other people are eating and drinking,
marrying and giving in marriage. They don’t have to put
up with this headache of an Ark. I have all this stuff to do;
wood to gather, wood to cut, timbers to put in place,
all this tar to make, and at night, I have to study those
Blue Prints. Why can’t I be like the other people,
and just have a little fun? I don’t like being different,
those people think I am strange.
Why can’t I just relax and let God do it? He’s big enough."
But God said, "I’ll give you the needed grace. Just hang in there." Noah never stopped! He never listened to the pleas for social reform! I can guess that some came to him with, "Just think of how much good you could do in the community, if you weren’t spending so much time working for God."
Others might have said, "With the quality of a person you are and with your talents, you could have some real influence over a lot of people, if only you would join in this community project, instead of wasting all that time just simply doing what God said."
Have you ever thought what would have happened if Noah had stopped the work on the Ark for ONLY six months, while he tried to better his community????? He and his family would have been lost.... AND you and I would not be around!!!! God doesn’t have an ark in your future, but whatever your task may be, God does have the grace for the task.
God’s work IS IMPORTANT, in spite of the satanic suggestions that other things are more important. Yes, on "...the first month, the first day of the month, the waters were dried up from the earth".
that New Year’s day would
not have been,
a man and his family who were really
to the task at hand.
If 2006 is to be year in which this church makes an impact on a world around us.... AND on a world to come, we will need some "Noahs" and some "Noah’s wives" and some "Noah’s kids" who will say, "This work is important! Important enough that I will put God NUMBER ONE over EVERYTHING else, and will be available for service, no matter what that service might be!!"
There were only eight people doing the work of the Ark. Have you ever noticed that God usually does His greatest work through the few, NOT the masses. There weren’t too many, on this Ark project, who had that high and holy position of "THE TELLER OF WHAT TO DO".
No! If there was a job to do, they all had to do it. Even if it was..:
* Cutting the wood
* Shaping the wood * Spreading the pitch
* OR cleaning up the mess, afterwards
The "position" they held was not important!!!! What was important was that the job got done, on time, within budget. These were IMPORTANT or all else would have been lost.
All those Ark builders had to be servants. Not for man’s glory, BUT for God and God alone, because only God and the animals would be around to give compliments, later.
I don’t know what this year will hold – Physically, Financially, Nationally…
2006 is here!!
God’s directives for this earth will go on. Will you be a spectator in stands of the world, OR will you be an active participant carrying out God’s directive?
Following a rags-to-riches season of 1995 that led them to the Rose Bowl, their first in decades, the Northwestern University Wildcats met with coach Gary Barnett in 1996 for the opening of the next spring training.
As players found their seats, Barnett announced that he was going to hand out the awards for the many Wildcats who had earned them in 1995. Some players exchanged glances, because Barnett didn’t normally dwell on the past. But as the coach continued to call player after player and handed them placards proclaiming their achievements, they were cheered on by their teammates.
One of the other coaches gave Barnett a placard representing his seventeen national coach-of-the-year awards, as well as a long list of other achievements. Then, as the applause subsided, Barnett walked to a LARGE trash can marked "1995".
He took an admiring glance at his placard, then dumped it into the can. In the silence that followed, one by one, the team’s stars dumped their placards on top of Barnett’s.
Barnett had shouted a message without uttering a word:
"What you did in 1995 was terrific,
but look at the calendar.
In essence, that is what Paul said in Phil 3:13-14 , and that truth sounds down the annals of time to us today! Paul reminds us Christians.
My Christian friend.
Philippians 3:13Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, 14 I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.
Today is the first day
Of the rest of your life!
If Christ is (only) your Co-Pilot..
By all means
© Clyde White, Austin TX, 2006
(Scripture Text NKJ unless stated)
(Many illustrations from sermoncentral.com)