Sermon Illustrations

At the University of Southern California the list of great running backs for the Trojan football team is legendary: John Arnett, Frank Gifford, Mike Garret, OJ Simpson, Anthony Davis, Ricky Bell, Charles White, Marcus Allen, Sam Cunningham, LenDale White, Reggie Bush. No other college comes close to such running-back excellence. Why? Listen to the answer given by Marcus Allen, arguably the best of them all, as he described to a reporter what he said in a motivational speech to a later generation of USC players: "As I look back I was telling them that I won the Comeback Player of the Year in the NFL, won the league (NFL) MVP, Super Bowl MVP, Rookie of the Year; and I told them, ‘guys, I won that in practice at USC’...The coaching of John Jackson and John Robinson helped me understand football and what it is all about. It is a physical game. I tell people that the running position is not about just yards. It is the only aspect of the game where you can physically dominate and impose your will on an opponent.”

Now switch scenes with me for a moment. This one is fiction in content, but maybe too close to reality for comfort. A young man earns a certain level of notoriety as a great high school running back. He gets the call from USC. The head coach even visits with he and his parents in his home. The coach asks, "How would you like to become the next great USC running back?" The boy answers, "I would just so long as I don't have to go to practice or study the play book." A moment of silence passes. As Dad watches the back of the USC coach exiting, he hangs his head and breathes out a deep sigh of sorrow.

There it is. Before victory comes know how. Before doing comes knowledge. However, in church circles, haven't you heard folks say, “Don’t give me theology, I just need something practical?"

"I get bored reading. I just want something to do."

"Don't bother me with biblical references. I am who I am."

One might wonder...does our heavenly Father sometimes respond like the boys Dad.

Ricki Lee Brooks

(Info on Marcus Allen taken from an interview found at

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