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peace sports Uncategorized

SEARCHING FOR THAT SLIPPERY SERENITY

Neal Pollard

It was painful to watch my Georgia Bulldogs pulverized by the Auburn Tigers (my fellow Bronco fans can easily relate this year). Yet, later that Saturday evening, I found myself smiling and even cheering for a familiar face who was calmly embracing a signature win against college football’s number three team, Notre Dame. Level-headed. Even-keel. Happy. None of those words quite captured the way I wanted to describe Miami’s head coach, Mark Richt (former general of my beloved Dawgs). It was Dan Walken (USA Today, 11/13/17, 1C,6C) who found the one I was searching my mind for: “serene.” He is peaceful, placid, poised, and phlegmatic. But, as Walken points out, it’s not because the Hurricanes have ascended to number two in the Coaches and Press polls. He has been that all along, even the day he was fired at Georgia (his .740 winning percentage, 145-51, is the highest in college history for any coach ever to be fired). He was criticized for not being able to win the big game—which he still hasn’t. Second to that, the fan base was agitated that he was too concerned about his off-season mission work. There’s such an interesting story about how Richt came to faith, and how deeply his faith drives his life. Walken’s article mentions nothing of that, but few people who know about Richt fail to know how profoundly religion effects his life. It is, unquestionably, what drives his come-what-may serenity.

What characteristic best describes me? I know several I’d like for it to be, but, ultimately, I don’t get to describe myself. The people who know me or know about me get to do that. While the word “serene” is not found in most English translations, it is a biblical concept. 91 times, the New Testament uses a word (εἰρήνη—eirene) that is usually translated “peace.” Luke 11:21 has “undisturbed” (NASB). It can describe harmony between governments or in personal relationships, but it also describes a state of well-being within. In fact, that’s usually the way New Testament writers use it. Jesus says He offers a peace superior to what the world can give (John 14:27). A mind set on the Spirit is life and peace (Rom. 8:6). The God of hope can fill you with peace in believing (Rom. 15:13). This peace passes all comprehension and guards your heart and mind (Phil. 4:7). It can rule your heart (Col. 3:15). It can be yours in every circumstance (2 Thes. 3:16). Repeatedly, Scripture promises peace to the disciple of Christ.

But our world continually scrambles to find it, much less maintain it. It seeks to achieve peace through alcohol and drugs, firearms, money and things, achievement and success, and other earthly things to plug that void. If at our core we do not fill ourselves with the peace of God, we will find ourselves futilely searching and never finding tranquility and undisturbed calm. Richt was able to smile and be joyful at the press conference that centered around his dismissal. You and I can embrace joy and steadiness in the darkest, most painful, moments of life. We never want false hope or empty peace. But a life directed and submissive to the pure, unadulterated Word and will of God leads to unshakable peace. No matter what comes our way!

Would people say I am serene? What about you?

mark_richt_university_of_miami

Categories
faith faithfulness perseverance Uncategorized

We Need Strong “D”

Neal Pollard

Defenses win championships. The best offense is a good defense. You’ve heard these cliches. While it is insufficient to rely only on defense, you cannot succeed in sports without it. Defending one’s product is key in the business world, defending one’s nation is vital in the global sense, and defending one’s faith is essential for Christians in the spiritual realm. Paul said, “I’m set for the defense of the gospel” (Phil. 1:17). Several times, he had to defend his decision to preach Christ (Acts 22, 24, 25-26, etc.), his work for Christ (1 Cor. 9:2-3), and even his life because of his faith (2 Tim. 4:16). Peter says we are to be ready to defend our faith against the onslaught of unbelievers (2 Pet. 3:15).

We need strong “D” as a part of our Christian ethic. How do we cultivate it?

Study. You cannot defend what you do not know and understand yourself. Delight in the law of the Lord (Psa. 1:2). “Take pains with these things; be absorbed in them, so that your progress may be evident to all” (2 Tim. 4:15). Study is required to better know and understand God, Satan, the world, your neighbor, your brother and yourself.

Be sturdy. If you are on the battlefield, you’ve got to be able to endure the offensive onslaught of the enemy. Satan is hurling darts at you (Eph. 6:16). He’s stalking you (1 Pet. 5:8). He’s using his intelligence capabilities to infiltrate your defenses (2 Cor. 2:11). Since the Christian race is a long-distance event, there will be many occasions where you’ll want to quit and quite a few excuses you may give for quitting (cf. Heb. 12:1-2). Be durable and steadfast.

Be steady. Sports has its “streak players.” Some are professionally characterized as “on again, off again,” a euphemistic way of saying “unreliable.” You cannot be a successful defender of Christ by being inconsistent and sporadic. As a part of the local church, you are a member of the body and the other “body parts” rely on you working as you should (Rom. 12:5). It may be harder facing life as an amputee, but it surely must be aggravating to have a body part present that you can never count on to function.

Be ready. Have a ready mind (2 Cor. 8:13). Be ready to share (1 Tim. 6:18). Always be ready to be offered (2 Tim. 4:6). Be ready to every good work (Tit. 3:1). Be ready to answer for your faith (1 Pet. 3:15). Above all, be ready for Christ’s coming at any time (Mat. 25:10). That means being ready at every moment to live for Christ or die in Christ (Phi. 1:20-21). this is the ultimate defense of the soul, a readiness to suffer, sacrifice, and serve (Acts 17:11; 2 Cor. 8:5,11).

Good “D” necessitates that we study, be sturdy, be steady, and be ready. All of these attributes not only help to defend the cause of Christ, they are essential to the progress of the church and New Testament Christianity. How’s your “D”?

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