Summary: Second of Three Sermons on Ministry. General theme is built around "March Madness" - NACC basketball. Our Theme is "March Ministry Madness". This sermon encourages Christians to have a good "spiritual diet" and to exercise their faith in ministry.

Get in the Game

3/11/01 …You Can’t Win if You Don’t Finish

Basketball is a great game

It is a simple game with many subtleties.

The objective is simple - One team tries to score the most points by getting the ball through the hoop while the other team tries to stop you from doing it. Simple! Except that you also are supposed to touch only the ball. This is a non-contact sport. Well - sort of.

And so you have a game where there is the offence emphasizing great individual skills of shooting and ball handling. And at the same time there is the importance of team effort with each person supporting and augmenting the efforts of the others. The calculated plays and the risks taken to drive the ball down the lane or the well placed pic that sets up a nice easy jump shot all become part of the effort of putting that ball through that hoop.

Then there is the defense - man to man or zone - which attempts to stop the other teams scoring drives. And there is nothing really quite so satisfying as the sound of a ball being slapped away from the goal; or the sheer relief of your teams defensive forward coming down with a rebound - elbows out - hands wrapped around the ball - staying planted and holding on until the floor clears.

I played basketball in ninth grade

I was on the jv squad along with about 19 other fellows. 15 guys got to wear suits and 5 had to ride the bench in civilian clothes because we didn’t have enough uniforms for everyone. I usually rode the bench.

I did get into one game. I got fouled and got one free throw. I swished it. That is how I lettered in basketball. That is also the end of my basketball career. It seemed wise to retire while I was doing well.

I’m not very good at sports. I don’t really enjoy following the games on a day to day basis - but there is something about the competition in college basketball at NCAA tournament time that sucks me into the excitement.

One thing I have noticed is how important it is for the team to be in good physical condition!

Some teams run hard the whole 40 minutes of play. Some teams move slowly. It is usually the team with the best conditioning who at the end of the game have the strength to finish and win.

We are in a race to the end and we are playing to win. You can’t win if you don’t finish!

What does it take to be spiritually conditioned for the competition? Personal Training

1 Corinthians 9:24-27

24 Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize.

25 Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever.

26 Therefore I do not run like a man running aimlessly; I do not fight like a man beating the air.

No, I beat my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.

You cannot build a strong body unless you…

...Pay the price

The TV ads selling easy weight loss through dieting, vitamin supplements, or fat blocking pills always says in the fine print or hastily mentions in the announcers narration that their program will produce results if accompanied by exercise.

And have you noticed that the television ads selling a well-toned body through the use of their equipment (usually a wheel on a steel bar or tangled mass of ropes and pulleys) always says in their fine print or off hastily mentions that results are best when accompanied by a proper diet.

No matter how you cut it - you have to eat right and exercise if you want to lose weight and get into good physical condition. There are no short cuts. There are no magic pills and no quick easy solutions.

...Pay it a little at a time - repeatedly

I am told that if you work out 20 minutes a day for 5 days a week that it is far better than a 5-hour workout once a week.

I am told that if you study a little every day it is better than cramming all night before the test.

I am told that it is better to work the bolts holding the head onto the engine block down little by little - working back and forth - one by one - rather than just cranking them down all the way one at a time.

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