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JANUARY ONLINE EXPRESSIONS EDITION
Letters to the editor:
End of Letters to the editor!
Football finds the farm!
Ramesh C. Reddy
As the Pittsburgh Panthers ate the North Carolina State Wolfpack for a hearty dinner on December 20, 2001 at the Visit Florida Tangerine Bowl, I thought of no better way to celebrate the victory than by comparing farming (tangerine seeds) with football (Pittsburgh Panthers) from a religious perspective.
One day, my former staff volunteer Kevin Leibach of InterVarsity Christian fellowship illustrated an analogy on the black board comparing football and farming. I took that analogy and turned it into an article. Now imagine God being your Quarterback with a perfect passer rating. This means there are no errors on the part of God as a QB. Let us hold that constant so any error that occurs will be because of us wide receivers. As a QB throws a football and as a farmer throws the seed, God sends us His Word.
"Listen! A farmer went out to sow his seed. As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up." (Mark 4:3-4, NIV)
"The farmer sows the word. Some people are like seed along the path, where the word is sown. As soon as they hear it, Satan comes and takes away the word that was sown in them." (Mark 4:14-15, NIV)
As wide receivers, we need to be in the right position listening and following the QBís signals. When the ball is thrown, we can see it coming towards us but unfortunately there are times we are not positioned correctly. The end results is itís taken away by the defense. We just allowed an interception because we were not in the right position to receive the ball.
In the same way, God sends to us the receivers His Word. We need to be in a position to hear the Word coming and receive it. But many times we can have a tendency just to hear the Word and let it end there. The end result is whatís sown is easily forgotten. It is as if it were taken away.
For that not to happen, it is important to position our selves correctly.
In football, when a play is misread, the wide receivers have a general idea what they could have done to position themselves better. They go and try again without letting the mistake stopping them.
In our lives, we need to find ways to position ourselves so we not only hear the Word but also are careful not to let the enemy take it away. It is great to hear the Word on Sundays and other times but there is nothing like personal experience to complement corporate experience.
Let us get our life in a position where we can meet alone with God without having a hardened heart and let Him speak to us so Satan cannot make us forget the Word. In essence, let us have daily devotional or quiet times. I have realized that this alone is not enough as scenario 2 sheds more light.
"Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow. But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root." (Mark 4:5-6, NIV)
"Others, like seed sown on rocky places, hear the word and at once receive it with joy. But since they have no root, they last only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, they quickly fall away." (Mark 4:16-17, NIV)
As wide receivers, not only do we have to position our selves correctly but be committed to catching the ball and holding on to it. In excitement, we do get our hands on the ball but unfortunately we cannot hold on to it because we get frightened of being tackled as we hear footsteps behind us. In essence we are not committed 100% to the sport and it results in an incomplete pass. The QB threw it well and we should have caught it.
In the same way, when God sends His Word, we can now be in a position to hear it and receive it with joy because we have taken the time to position our lives to spend time with Him so we know where we should be. This is a sporadic thing though and not consistent so we have no root. For a short time we can be getting along fine but then persecution comes our way through trials and tribulations and we mess up. We may not be committed 100% to carrying the Word in our lives because of all sorts of persecution ranging from ridicule from others to low self-esteem on our parts. Also, we may be afraid of what other people will think of us as we take the Word and run in our lives. So we drop the Word from our lives and fall to our own ways not wanting to be committed to God.
For that not to happen, we need to be committed 100% whether it is carrying a football or carrying Godís Word in our lives.
In football, the wide receiver learns about commitment by spending time alone, watching clips of himself playing, analyzing the mistakes he has made, looking at the play important. It is one thing to just look at it and another thing to study it and practice it. He comes to realize about commitment from his coach and other players. In essence, he has 100% commitment to become a better player.
In the same way, the best offense for us would be to spend time alone thinking through the actions we have done, analyzing the mistakes we have made, and looking at our playbook (the Word of God) wanting to improve, not allowing trials and tribulations to hinder us. The playbook (Word of God) is very important. It is one thing to just look at the Word of God but another thing to study and practice it.
"Do not let this Book of the Law depart from your mouth; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful." (Joshua 1:8)
You can realize about commitment from the Master coach Jesus Christ. In essence, you can make a 100% commitment to become a better Word carrier.
So when persecution comes, you need not be intimidated by fear but can boldy say, "God has not given me the spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline." (2 Tim 1:7)
I have realized that being positioned correctly to receive the Word and committed to carrying it is not enough as scenario 3 sheds light.
"Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants, so that they did not bear grain." (Mark 4:7, NIV)
"Still others, like seed sown among thorns, hear the word; but the worries of this life, the deceitfulness of wealth and the desires for other things come in and choke the word, making it unfruitful." (Mark 4:18-19, NIV)
In football, the wide receiver is now positioned and committed so he is able to receive the football and run with it even though he hears footsteps behind him.
In excitement, he wants to make the touchdown on his own strength though without relying on the help of his teammates. The 3 Fís flash in his mind: Fun, fame, and fortune. He now gets the ball and keeps running with without realizing the danger he is in. The defense does not give in but piles upon him stripping the ball away and taking it causing a fumble and recovering it. In the same way, when God sends us His Word, we are now positioned and committed to receiving it and run our daily lives. We run our lives well for a while with the joy of the Lord but not wanting other peoples help though. Soon the worries of this life Ďsuch as academics, relationships, careers, and so oní hit us so hard that we forget our eternal perspective. The end result is living a secluded life in brokenness making our lives unfruitful.
For that not to happen, it is important to receive the help that is provided.
In football when a wide receiver fumbles the ball because he is overpowered by the defense, he should not be shunned by his teammates but he should take their support next time that they want to provide. In the same way, we should not try to be a lone-ranger Christian in our lives. We should not think we donít need anyoneís help. We should follow Godís Word and take His help leaving the worries of this life in His Helping Hands! He provides His help in many ways mainly through His Church, the body of believers.
"Let Him have all your worries and cares for He is always thinking about you and watching everything that concerns you." (1 Peter 5:7)
Going to Church, small groups, fellowships, retreats etc will give us a support structure that will help supplement our time with the Lord and be an effective wide receiver as we carry the Word continuously with us. We need to do our part but also depend on others the Lord wants to use in our lives.
"They devoted themselves to the apostlesí teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer...They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved." (Acts 2:42-47)
After we are positioned correctly to receive the Word, committed to carry the Word, and are in a community of believers in the Word, we are now in a position as wide receivers to win with the Word in our lives as scenario 4 shows.
"Still other seed fell on good soil. It came up, grew and produced a crop, multiplying thirty, sixty, or even a hundred times."(Mark 4:8, NIV)
"Others, like seed sown on good soil, hear the word, accept it, and produce a cropóthirty, sixty or even a hundred times what was sown."(Mark 4:20, NIV)
In football, the wide receiver now sees and hears the football coming. He knows he should position himself in the right place, be committed to what he is doing. He receives the football and runs with it making sure to take the help and support of all his teammates. While his teammates block the defense, the result is 60, 50, 40, 30, 20, 10 TOUCHDOWN!!!
In the same way when God sends us His Word, we now position our
lives according to His plan and commit to carrying the Word. We do not stop there but are part of a community of believers in the Word. When we run, we now know the essence of teamwork. We ask God to take control of our lives and submit ourselves 100% to Him. While we are running, when the devil attacks us we draw our strength from being part of a community of believers in the Word and our personal relationship with the Lord through prayer and study of His Word. The result is 60, 50, 40, 30, 20, 10 ETERNITY. We have gained a spiritual touchdown against our adversary, Satan.
"Carry each otherís burdens, and this way you will fulfill the law of Christ."