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.

Disaster Prevention

Proverbs 1:28-33 (ESV)

28 “ Then they will call on me, but I will not answer;
      They will seek me diligently, but they will not find me.
       29 Because they hated knowledge
      And did not choose the fear of the LORD,
       30 They would have none of my counsel
      And despised my every rebuke.
       31 Therefore they shall eat the fruit of their own way,
      And be filled to the full with their own fancies.
       32 For the turning away of the simple will slay them,
      And the complacency of fools will destroy them;
       33 But whoever listens to me will dwell safely,
      And will be secure, without fear of evil.”

        Have you ever known or met a person who just denies any existence of God?  Or worse, maybe they claim to know God and believe in Jesus, yet they believe they can live life in which ever manner they please.  On top of this they seem to be taken care of, they never seem to be out of money, have nice cars, always on vacation and seem to have a peaceful family.  This facade just makes us cringe, doesn’t it?  Well it shouldn’t!

        The fact is that while these people may be thinking they are living the good life, in fact they are living a very shallow life, a life that if all these materialistic components were taken away, they would no longer have a meaning for life.  Sure the fruit of their labor looks good for the time being, but when tragedy strikes, as God promises it will, where will they go?  Many extremely wealthy families have been broken up over the past few years because of the economic depression our country is in.  People are divorcing, turning to drugs and alcohol, and taking their own lives.  This happens because the image the devils paints in our head is one that shows us that money is all we need to live at peace and we believe this.  However, the devil doesn’t tell us that one day we will be left with nothing but our heart and soul, which is to be examined and judged.

        Verse 33 says those that listen will dwell securely  and will be at EASE, without dread of disaster.  Ever notice how all these rich men put their money into stocks to attempt to capitalize on the money they already have earned and then they sit there and constantly watch what the stock market is doing because if their stock crashes they could lose everything.  This raises their stress level and blood pressure and also takes their attention away from their family.  This is why God urges us to take our safety out of our money and lay it into His hands.

        The ONLY way to fully be happy and safe is to invest in the Lord.  Invest with all our heart, soul, mind and strength, because HE is the only disaster protection we need.  He will watch over your family and lead them to the Promised Land.  God Bless!

How Much is Too Much?

Acts 5:1-11

“1 Now a man named Ananias, together with his wife Sapphira, also sold a piece of property. 2 With his wife’s full knowledge he kept back part of the money for himself, but brought the rest and put it at the apostles’ feet.
3 Then Peter said, “Ananias, how is it that Satan has so filled your heart that you have lied to the Holy Spirit and have kept for yourself some of the money you received for the land? 4 Didn’t it belong to you before it was sold? And after it was sold, wasn’t the money at your disposal? What made you think of doing such a thing? You have not lied just to human beings but to God.”

5 When Ananias heard this, he fell down and died. And great fear seized all who heard what had happened. 6 Then some young men came forward, wrapped up his body, and carried him out and buried him.

7 About three hours later his wife came in, not knowing what had happened. 8 Peter asked her, “Tell me, is this the price you and Ananias got for the land?”

“Yes,” she said, “that is the price.”

9 Peter said to her, “How could you conspire to test the Spirit of the Lord? Listen! The feet of the men who buried your husband are at the door, and they will carry you out also.”

10 At that moment she fell down at his feet and died. Then the young men came in and, finding her dead, carried her out and buried her beside her husband. 11 Great fear seized the whole church and all who heard about these events.”

A big question many people have regarding being a follower of Christ is, “Is it wrong to want nice things?” A nice car, big house, designer clothes? At the same time this is can also be a controversial topic. The Lord will bless us with what He wishes us to have. The most important thing is that we do not lose focus of who is giving us these nice things.

The danger in having nice things is that it becomes easier to be consumed by these “nice things”, we begin to seek the blessings rather than seeking God. We are put on earth with a purpose, a purpose that involves spreading the Word of God, so that all people may be redeemed and set free from Sin.

Those who begin seeking blessings and constantly striving to have more “nice things” will go to great lengths, Psalm 10 refers too many of the wicked ways of a man who has become consumed by greed. Such as extorting the weak, deceiving others so that they can obtain these materialistic desires. They believe that through the power of money they can avoid loneliness, unhappiness, and tribulation. They believe the money they obtain can buy them whatever it is their heart desires and they will stop at nothing to get what their heart desires.

What those who are consumed by greed do not understand until they fall into a pit money cannot lift them out of, is that after all the materialistic things fade away they still have a void inside that is not being filled. This void, this feeling inside that longs or something greater is what each of us was created with. This void can only be filled by the Father above. We were created to have a personal, intimate relationship with the Father above, the One and Only Almighty God. No materialistic object can fill this void.

I urge you to devote yourself to seeking God today. Maybe you haven’t noticed that you have slowly turned to seeking blessings rather than seeking God, maybe all you live for is to make money, each situation is equally as bad, make an effort to turn your heart to God today and He will not fail to meet you!