The Result of Faith is Always VICTORY!

“What too many athletes fail to mention…. ‘My hard work, conditioning and practicing is what got me here’” – An unmentioned Facebook friend.

To be quite honest, when I first read this quote I was baffled, even angered, if I may. The ignorance to me was astonishing. However, I quickly found myself in a state of remorse, not because the thought disagreed with my perspective or because it ridiculed a professional athlete who was not ashamed to give God glory after a hard fought victory in the second biggest football game of that players’ season. No, I was saddened because in a country and world TEAMWORK and HUMILITY is promoted, someone was annoyed enough by the glorification of Jesus that he would rather have heard Ray Lewis talk about himself and boast about his own work ethic rather than, in humility, give glory to God.

You see, Ray Lewis is not an average athlete by any stretch of the means. He’s one of the greatest linebackers to ever play the sport of football and he is also one of, if not the hardest working athlete in all of sports and Ray Lewis knows this about himself as well. Yet what Ray Lewis also knows is that he did not create himself and he also knows that the Patriots, who lost to the Ravens on Sunday for a chance to play in the Super Bowl, worked just hard, conditioned just as hard and practiced just as hard if not harder than his team. Ray Lewis knows this because it was just a year ago that his team was on the losing side of the same game to the same team, and after that loss Lewis didn’t hang his head, he didn’t say he should have worked harder, because he knows how hard he works on a daily basis. The message he delivered to his team after a heart breaking loss was this “God doesn’t make mistakes…we did what we were supposed to do, we played hard, we fought hard and we played as a team…God is going to bring us back here next year, so it is our responsibility to put in the work.” In a game that the Ravens lost due to a missed field goal, Ray Lewis knew the only reason they lost was because that was the way God drew it up. Not because they were outworked, out coached, out smarted or out conditioned; simply because the Creator and Life giver had a different plan. Lewis knew they had VICTORY whether the score board showed it or not, according to Lewis they did what they were supposed to do, they played like a team in unity and because of it they would be stronger the following year.

Ray Lewis knows how hard it is for a team to make it through the regular football season and knows that no matter how much or how hard a team works, there’s the little things, known as the intangibles, that teams must get to go their way. These aren’t skills, nor are they necessarily things that can be practiced throughout the week. So while 90 percent of athletic competitions are based on preparation and skill, there is 10 percent where faith must be applied. Ask Ravens wide receiver Torrey Smith if it was his work ethic and conditioning that provided him the strength to play in a Monday night game earlier this season shortly after he received word that his brother had died. He will tell you it was God and God alone.

Because while we are natural beings who can produce natural strength, endurance and knowledge; we are also spiritual beings. The first chapter of the book of Genesis in verse 26 we read that though we were created out of dirt (Genesis 2:7), life was breathed into us by the Creator, God Almighty. Therefore, life does not exist without the breath God gives us; there is no strength, endurance, knowledge or skill, without the breath of God.

Therefore, I was saddened to hear such a remark that reveals the true state of our country. In a season when the leader of the country promotes hope and equality, we beg for arrogance and self-centeredness. We long to hear others talk about their own work and how decorated they are by their own achievements, on a day when even the president urges the nation to promote others rather than themselves, our world proves to be tainted by sin which produces pride, arrogance and ignorance.
Therefore, when we have the privilege of hearing an athlete humble himself and give glory where glory is due, we should rejoice! For the TRUTH is that without the breath of Life, which comes from the Living God, we are nothing! Literally!

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Got Swag?

Psalm 27:1-3 (NIV)

“1 The LORD is my light and my salvation—
   whom shall I fear?
The LORD is the stronghold of my life—
   of whom shall I be afraid?

 2 When the wicked advance against me
   to devour me,
it is my enemies and my foes
   who will stumble and fall.
3 Though an army besiege me,
   my heart will not fear;
though war break out against me,
   even then I will be confident.”

        Confidence is defined as; full-trust, confidence and assurance.  I define confidence as being able to walk with your head held high, chest out, without fear.  The slang term used for confidence is SWAG or swagger.  In sports there are many teams that have extreme amounts of confidence.  These teams are usually the best, or one of the best, in their sport.  These teams recognize that in order to be an elite team, they must hold themselves to an elite level.  These teams always remain confident, even when faced with bad stretches where they may have lost five games in a row or are on the brink of elimination, these teams never doubt themselves.  The players understand the organization they are representing and although situations may seem daunting they know they have the ability to overcome all obstacles.  They must maintain their swag to instill fear in the opposition.

        Now you may be thinking, “What in the world does this have to do with Christ?”  I’m here to tell you it has everything to do with Christ!  You see because as children of the Most High God we were created to live with Jesus Swag.  Not to be ashamed of our creator and our savior, but to be able to walk in confidence, without fear, knowing that the Lord hold us in the palm of His hand.  As Christians we must be confident that the Lord will not forsake us, we must walk boldly in His name, giving Him credit for everything we have been blessed with.  Standing up for our obedience in His name.

        When we remain confident in the Lord, He keeps the enemy at bay, out of striking distance.  Like the intimidation factor that sets into other teams morale as soon as the Yankees take the field.  When we represent Jesus, the devil will only come so close, because He FEARS the Lord.  When we remain confident in the Lord, we know that even if the series is 3-1 and we feel like we are on the brink of destruction, at any moment the Lord can stretch forth His hand change the tides, in our favor.  For this reason David says, even when my enemies surround me, going for the kill, I will remain Confident!

        This confidence is not a confidence that should only be shown in times of uncertainty, because what kind of confidence only shows up when destruction is on the horizon?  Paul tells us in Romans 1:16, “I am unashamed of the Gospel.”  We must also be unashamed of the Gospel, when others ask why we can’t go to the bar to watch the game, why we don’t have sex with our significant others out of wedlock, why we refrain from perverse conversations, our answer should be “Because I’m a child of the Most High and everywhere I go, I go with Jesus Swag!”  Walk with your head held high! God Bless.

Watch Out For Snakes

Psalm 18:1-3 (KJV):

 1 I will love You, O LORD, my strength.
 2 The LORD is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer;
         My God, my strength, in whom I will trust;
         My shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.
 3 I will call upon the LORD, who is worthy to be praised;
         So shall I be saved from my enemies.

        When a child is told not to play with fire, what is the first thing that child asks himself?  “Well why can’t I play with fire?”  When my oldest younger brother was 3 years old he was told not to touch the curling iron because it was hot.  Sure enough as soon as he knew my step-mother was not looking, he went for it and grabbed it.  The result was a trip to the emergency room and a severely bandaged hand.  My brother cried, said sorry and never touched a curling iron, hot or cold, ever again.

        With the evolutions in our society, people become curious and are encouraged to test their limits.  Encouraged to “play with fire”, however, they do not realize that there are some fires that are inescapable.  There are parameters that the Lord places around us because He knows, although they may not have an immediate effect, we can become consumed and burnt to the core.  The Lord will allow us to go through some fire as it is, but as prideful humans we believe we can handle more, while the Father already knows the outcome of certain actions.

        This subject came to mind the other day as I was hiking with my girlfriend and a couple of my Christian brothers.  As we were hiking there were noises in the bushes that sounded like Rattlesnake rattles.  In the beginning when I heard these noises I just kept walking, wanted nothing to do with them.  However, as we continued on the hike I started to become curious.  I had reached the top of one of the hills before the other three and as I was attempting to catch my breath I heard the same noise in a bush nearby.  So I started to get closer to see if the noise was truly a rattlesnake or just the wind hitting the brush.  So I was cautiously getting closer I began to think, if it’s not a rattlesnake I’ll have the comfort of knowing that these hills are not infested with rattlesnakes and if it is a rattlesnake, I’m just going to end up running away anyway, unless it’s too late and I get bit.  However, there was also another option, stay put cause they are not bothering me as it is and I’m safe.  So I became curious no longer.

       The Lord will protect us and even when it feels that we are being persecuted it is never a situation that He is not involved in.  Trust in the Lord because He is our Rock and keeps us protected under the shadow of His wings.  Although it may seem hot, the Lord is there to cool us down and refresh our spirit. We must discipline ourselves to stay away from the traps the devil attempts to lay down in our path.

The Blame Game

Acts 5:27-29

“27 The apostles were brought in and made to appear before the Sanhedrin to be questioned by the high priest. 28 “We gave you strict orders not to teach in this name,” he said. “Yet you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching and are determined to make us guilty of this man’s blood.”
29 Peter and the other apostles replied: “We must obey God rather than human beings!”

The pride that we, as humans, are faced with, due to the sin in this world is what leads to separation from God. This pride tells us that we have power and wisdom. This pride tells us that we are always right no matter what anyone else says. Most significantly this pride attempts to justify the sin in our life.

Sin is not just a physical action that i deemed wrong. Sin being separated from God, so when we think about it sin is actually a matter of the heart. If there is no sin in the heart then all of our actions and all the words that come out of our mouth will be pure. Because of the sin of Adam we must ask the Lord to help us with this sin daily.

The biggest act of kindness is the act of forgiving. Jesus came and healed many people and did many marvelous works. However, the most gracious blessing He bestowed upon us, was to forgive us. However, as humans this is the very thing we have the hardest time dealing with. Accepting that we were wrong, apologizing, and forgiving. From the very beginning when Adam and Eve first sinned, the first thing they did was point the finger. Adam pointed at Eve and Eve pointed at the serpent, they were reluctant to accept that they had messed up and disobeyed God.

When we are reluctant to accept responsibility for our actions we seperate ourselves from God. We say that although we deserved forgiveness others are not. We try to out wit the Lord, but the Lord knows the condition of our Heart. When we accept responsibility for our actions, we allow the Lord to enter into our lives and make all things new. These elders who were persecuting the Apostles did not want to accept that they had Crucified the Messiah, so they would rather have nothing to do with Christ, than accepting responsibility and accepting Christ, so that they can have a new beginning.

Today examine yourself and all the relationships in your life. Is there a relationship that needs mending? Take the time to mend those relationships because when we forgive as Jesus forgave us, we open ourself up for the Lord to enter in and take us to a new level! Let the Lord be with you today.