09 March 2009

I don't in any way follow football, but...

by Dan Phillips

...these are pretty amazing:



Now, I think the first is clearly faked, and one or two others are iffy. But the rest? If they're fake, they're fooling me.

Even if they're all fake, we know that athletes pour incredible focus and discipline into what they do. Their whole life is molded around their sport, their endeavor: their diet, the use of their spare time. They do things the rest of us can only imagine, and they do them quickly and well.

You can see this sort of discipline in most endeavors. Think of music. To me, the mark of expertise in music in most cases is this: however excellent the music, the musician just looks like he's messing around. Think of Eric Clapton on the guitar. You look at him and think, "Psh. I can do that. He's just goofing."

Then you try it.


See? An expert makes impossible things look easy.

This all makes me think of 1 Corinthians 9:22-27 —
Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. 25 Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. 26 So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air. 27 But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.
In the context, Paul is talking about his Gospel ministry. Yet he turns on his readers generally, and tells them — ordinary, garden-variety Christians, if you will — that they should all learn from athletes.

So I'll turn this to two painful uses:

First painful use: since Paul makes this application, any and every Christian should read this and make application. Does anything about your approach to Christian living look like an athlete in training? Does the effort you give to Bible memorization, for instance, mostly consist in making excuses as to why you don't do it? Do you know the books of the Bible, easily? Can you exress the Gospel concisely, and at length? Can you show fundamental, basic Biblical doctrines and ethics from the Bible?

If not, why not? Would a casual observer conclude that you're not competing for anything nearly as valuable as these football players?

Second painful use: if that's all true of all Christians (and it is), how much truer is it of pastors? You claim to believe in the verbal, plenary inerrant inspiration of the Hebrew and Greek texts. You claim to be a preacher and teacher of those texts. How's your grasp of the art and sciences involved in handling that text? If your grasp is weak, what are you doing about it? How's your knowledge of Biblical theology, of the scope of Scripture and how it applies to life? Can you ably lay out sound doctrine, and refute error? How's your own walk? Do you still work at your preaching, or are you in a comfortable rut? How do you measure up against this text, let alone 1 Timothy 4:7-10 and 2 Timothy 2:1-7? Is your devoted, hard work in these areas evident to all?

If not, why not? Would a casual observer conclude that you're not competing for anything nearly as valuable as these football players?

Fun video. Painful implications.

Dan Phillips's signature

37 comments:

Bob said...

Could you post a separate link to the video? I can't get it to play.

Phil said...

Well, that was convicting.

DJP said...

Bob, try this.

I can't vouch for anything else on that site; can't even see it from work.

Strong Tower said...

You're right, I think the aks me is faked.

JackW said...

Good post, thanks Dan. I thought of a third painful use: even if the first and second painful use apply, "We are unworthy servants; we have only done what was our duty."

... or is that just adding insult to injury?

Jmv7000 said...

You mean if my treasure IS Jesus Christ, I will live in such a way that my total dedication will reflect that of an athlete? . . . Great POST!!!

Mr Wizzard said...

Good post. Makes me think what team would want to recruit me based on my study ethic? Fortunately, we get to be on the best team in the end.

(btw Dan, typo 'dvoted')

Shinar Squirrel said...

Good post, Dan! Phil's right, very convicting.

And I don't think the videos are faked. My dad once saw a pro golfer do a demo where he hit two balls in quick succession, slicing one and hooking the other, and making them hit in the air about 100 yards out. Dad said he did it about 10 or 12 times, and only missed once! How do you get to Carnegie Hall?

The Squirrel

jeff said...

The interesting thing to me in that 1 Corinthians passage is Paul's use of the word "disqualified." A Greek concordance shows that this word is always in every other context used to refer to a non-believer. I believe there are some implications with that!

Rachael Starke said...

I have a friend who has only been a believer since October who is growing like, well, a weed wouldn't be appropriate, more like a wonderful young grape vine.

She has quite a lot of "stuff" to deal with, and her eyes are wide open to the implications of God giving her everything she needs for life and godliness. So, multiple times a week I'm getting emails or phone calls that consist of "So, does the Bible say anything about [X]? Where? Can you show me? If you can show me, I'll do it."

The best accountability I've had in ages. And the prize is so much more worth it that some goofy piece of metal like a ring. :)

Mr Wizzard said...

@Rachael:

Answering questions of others is a great way to expand your biblical understanding. It doesn't allow you to be gray in any area. I recently began answering any question our youth group could throw at meus. Some of them can get a bit imaginative.

Joshua Cookingham said...

Good post Dan.
My dad recently stressed the point of removing distractions that get in the way between you and God.

Great minds think alike eh?

Christiant2.0 said...

Great post. It's one of my favorite applications from the NT.

Christiant2.0 said...

@MR WIZARD

Be careful in answering questions. I think it might be more fruitful for the inquirer to be pointed to Scripture on the topic than receiving an answer. Also, try not to make the mistake some Christians make: Not every question has a simple answer. Embrace uncertainty when necessary, don't be afraid of it.

Deb_B said...

Ouch!

donsands said...

Fake all the way.

Good lesson though.

The thing is when we do strive to be disciplined, and do grow in the knowledge and grace of our Lord Jesus, it's all because of His grace and Spirit. And so He gets all the honor and glory. And yet He shall commend us as well, when He judges the secret motivations of our hearts on that Day.

Mr Wizzard said...

@2.0-

I make the most use of scripture, and all the questions are taken from a biblical perspective. In the circumstances where the bible doesn't have a clear stance, I explain why. Fortunately I have the ability to thoroughly research the answers to the question in deep exegesis, then simplify to make it digestible to youngsters as much as possible before I give my answer. I don't have to shoot from the hip.

Michael said...

They're all fake. Those are commercials for NFL's fantasy football leagues. A handful of them have been made the past couple of years.

Sorry for commenting on what was not the big point.

DJP said...

If, as two of you say, they're all fake: then just transfer my point from the athletes to the wizards who made the effects / crafted the stunts that are dazzling us.

Christiant2.0 said...

@wizzard

Sounds good. I was just commenting on the statement "I recently began answering any question our youth group could throw at meus." I think boiling every question down to an answer is impossible and I know the greatest things I've learned, I learned by tackling the question head on and searching Scripture myself.

It's always helpful to have a guide, but too often we feed our egos with having the answers or we're afraid to leave a question unanswered (I'm speaking from personal experience).

This has little to do with football...

Sorry DJP

Leberwurst said...

Dan,

Thanks for a great post.

It is just one more in a series of messages, some from the Shepherds Conference, some from Church and some from these pages that are convicting me not to drift when it comes to being disciplined for the purpose of righteousness...

Thanks for turning up the heat!

Lorraine said...

Fake or not, I want to make sure that I'M not the one being fake - thanks for the great reminder of just how pitiful my discipline is. It's painful, but I wanna take my medicine and move on to higher plains. There's already too much that isn't painful, being preached each week, and if I remember correctly, Jesus knew how to deal it out, for the good of His hearers.
Thanks Phil.

DJP said...

Yeah. Phil's great, isn't he?

Mike Riccardi said...

LOL!

No matter how many times that happens and gets corrected...

Shinar Squirrel said...

"He's saved us! He's saved us! Commander Taggert has saved us!"

The Squirrel

DJP said...

ROFL

You, I, and two or three other sorry geeks will get that.

Julie said...

DAN,

Fake or not, I'm convicted. Great analogy. It's a lot easier (and often more appealing) to pay attention to disciplines with visible results - from sports, to music, to keeping an orderly home. All good things. But far better to invest my energy in what is eternal.

Julie

Strong Tower said...

Never give up. Never surrender.

Stefan said...

I was watching a documentary on the strangely parallel lives of Winston Churchill and George Orwell last night. Both were iconoclasts, both with a firm grasp of a sense of English* nationhood and history, both with a keen sense of the great dangers that weighed upon the country in the mid 20th century.

Churchill could not have risen to the occasion that history demanded of him (I'm writing from a secular point of view here) if he had not first made the study of English history a years-long passion and discipline of his, out of which came his sense of England's crucial role in bringing freedom and the rule of law to the modern world.

(And even with this together with his bluster and overbearing sense of self-confidence, he was hardly the Conservative Party's first choice to lead the country when Chamberlain resigned after WWII began.)

What we study, how we study it, and (perhaps most importantly) how we apply it—even in the face of the world's disapprobation—is absolutely crucial.**

*For "English," substitute "British" or "Anglo-Welsh" or "Anglo-Welsh-Scots-Irish" or whatever is most suitable.

**Pun on "crucial" intended—look up the etymology!

Stefan said...

...Speaking of Strong Tower's "Never give up, never surrender" comment.

Sing-Along Steve said...

Re: the use of the word disqualified... it's a scary thing sometimes to read through Paul's words and see him issuing warnings like "lest I who have preached to others be found disqualified", or "beware, because if God spared not the natural branches but cut them off for their unbelief, he might not spare you, either". We have GOT to realize that these passages, as well as nearly 90% or better of the NT, were written to BELIEVERS... the saved. Yes, the FACT is that God DOES keep us, but He calls us as beings with transformed and renewed minds to ABIDE in Him (i.e. in Christ) and CAUSES us to be kept through the MEANS He has established. Those means include a regular washing in the water of the Word and daily, fervent, sincere and honest prayer. Those who wander from God's means are not promised anything more than anyone else who rebels and refuses to repent. I believe that while that may be a very harsh and sobering view of our standing before God, it is in fact an honest and completely Biblical one. God saves through means, He condemns through means and He keeps His own through those same means.

The one who runs MUST run so as to win, not just in some "keep your chin up" kind of esteem-boosting way, but in a "you can fail at this if you do not buffet your flesh and make it subject to Christ" way.

Sing-Along Steve said...

Oh, and I just wanted to share a story from my kid-hood:

In my elementary school, I was one of the fastest 50- and 100-yard dash runners simply because I was semi-fast to begin with. Further, I combined that latent natural ability with a dogged determinism not to lose to kids that I knew would mock me if I failed. (FWIW, my all-time favorite basketball player has always been Larry Bird, for exactly the reasons I used to justify running so hard.)

Fast-forward to a county-wide elementary school track and field competition. I was in a field of 8 for a 100-yard dash. I started well, but suddenly got left in the dusty, sneaker-printed wake of two kids who were faster than greased lightning. Turns out they were both younger sibling of runners and were already being GROOMED for HS varsity track stardom. They had:

Desire (saving faith)
Ability (spiritual gifts)
Coaching (pastoral accountability)

and a school (church) environment where they were encouraged to work so they COULD excel. Take any one of those factors out, and those kids (read: believers) had every likely chance to fail. I failed because I let my pride in being faster than another kid puff me up (comparing ourselves to others instead of to Christ), and I never pursued real excellence because my phys-ed (spiritual) worldview was so narrow and dim.

The result is that today, I couldn't run around my block at full speed without heaving and sweating if I tried, and I have all sorts of chronic pains and weaknesses from bad joints that were never trained properly. I went on to play competitive basketball, but was a lazy-bones in the discipline department.

Sorry for the long posts, but this subject of teaching people to run so as to win is SO near to my heart, especially as it relates to young people. Revival in the church will come when the people of God are taught to RUN, not to expect a moving-sidewalk to carry them to glory.

Live As If said...

wow. just, wow.

you found me out in my laziness and undisciplined mess, making excuses for not being in the Bible and not praying much lately ... can't even throw a ball well either.

Aaron said...

not that I don't agree with your point, I do. But those athletes are professional because that is their profession. I'd be as good as whatever I did if I spent 10 hours a day at it. (and I think I am...LOL). That being said, even for a amateur athlete, err theologian, I don't spend nearly enough time practicing...

December Sun Blog said...

Those all seemed fake to me. Reminded me of young Clark Kent kicking the football into orbit in the first Superman film.

But the lesson posted here with the video was excellent.

Pop Quiz Giver said...

@ live as if...

at least you root for the right football team - Go Pats!

yeah, that's not the point... I'm seeing the generational impact of the undisciplined life too, how can I expect my son to exceed my level of spiritual growth & "accomplishments" if I don't take to disciplining him in the Word? If I'm lacking in discipline, won't that be terribly obvious to him? Will he take my instructions to heart if I'm not "living it"? Will he believe I love Jesus if I show him through my actions (and, alas, inaction) that everything else is more "worthy" of my time?

Woe is me... I want for my little boy to grow up free of the weights and struggles I've placed upon myself, but good intentions are not enough. He needs more, and frankly, so do I.

Abouttime said...

I "appreciated" the swift kick to the seat of my pants. Thanks. I want to stay in the game... as the coach wills.