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Summary: The games are on every day. Basketball now takes center stage. March Madness and the game it features teaches us kingdom principles that can help us win in the game of life!

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“March Madness”

Pt. 1 – Foul Truth

I. Introduction

Welcome to my favorite time of the year. If you don’t know I am a basketball fanatic. After I watch a game live. I go home and watch a game on TV. Unlike football, I will watch any game of college basketball at any time. Therefore, this is my favorite time of the year because March Madness means basketball everyday all day!

My love affair with basketball began early, but was then forgotten for many years. In about the 6th grade I went out for my school’s basketball team. I can still vividly remember the first day of try outs when the coach did me a major disservice and caused me to forget about basketball for awhile. During try outs he called me and another guy off to the side and told us we were too short to play. I didn’t pick a basketball up again until I was almost 15. Then after church, every Sunday, my friends and I would play all afternoon. This renewed love of the game carried me into college where it only deepened. I discovered you don’t always have to be tall to be decent at basketball especially if you have one key ingredient – speed.

I have never lost the love of the game although, I no longer play because my body just can’t keep up with my mind. I know what to do, but can’t do it quick enough to be competitive.

Through the years of watching, playing, and even a short stint of coaching a high school team (you didn’t know that either did you?) I have learned that basketball can actually teach us some very important life lessons and for our time together over the next 4 weeks some very crucial spiritual lessons.

This morning I want us to begin our March Madness discussion by learning “Foul Truth!”

I have recently watched several sports casters talk about a change in the game of basketball. Then I came across an article that addressed the same topic. Listen carefully:

College basketball is steaming toward a crossroads. A game once built on speed, passing and quick movement has become bogged down by ever-bigger players focused on physical play.

There have been a rash of flagrant fouls and flying elbows this season, which have caused alarm among NCAA and conference officials. Those elbows, and one notable face stomping, however, are part of the bigger issue of how physical the game has become, particularly in heated conference games.

Don Shea, a regional supervisor of NCAA basketball officials until he retired in 2008, thinks the game has simply become more bruising. Shea says that post play has been the focus of college basketball referees for years. The organization has worked to clean up the pushing and hard fouls around the basket. What has happened, he says, is that the game has gotten harder to police inside because of the size of players and a too-narrow foul lane, among other reasons.

The intensity of the post play then infects the rest of the game, Shea says. Pretty soon, tempers are flaring out on the floor, not just under the basket.

To prove that point, this season referee Curtis Shaw, who has officiated 85 games so far, has called the most fouls at 3,274. Referee Todd Williams, who has officiated 41 games so far, has called the least fouls at 1472.

If you take the high number of fouls and low number of fouls and divide by the average number of games they called that means they averaged calling 75 fouls a game.

Like it or not fouls are part of the game. Some people think that basketball isn’t a contact sport. If you believe that, it simply means you have never played. I believe that most of the time the outcome of a basketball game is determined by aggressiveness. The players don’t wear mouthpieces for nothing!

I have news for you this morning, fouls are not only a part of the game of basketball they are also a part of life and unfortunately our Christian walk and experience.

Luke must have understood that fouls would constantly be a part of our spiritual experience. That must be why he said in:

Text: Act 24:16

And herein do I exercise myself, to have always a conscience void of offence toward God, and toward men.

In other words, Luke is saying I have to do my very best every day to make sure that I don’t get offended/fouled by God and men!

II. Truth about Fouls

We have to understand some things about fouls!

1. You will be fouled and you will foul – expect contact.

I wished I could tell you that your life and spiritual walk would be contact free. However, life is violent at times. You will get bumped and bruised. In fact, I would say that if you aren’t hurt then you aren’t living.

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