Daily Archives: January 12, 2023

Beyond The Game

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Beyond the Game

basketball on the gym floor

 

Ruel (DC) DeCastro – cbn.com

I had it all wrong.

And here’s what I mean.

My daughter Morgan was sucker-punched in the nose during her high school basketball game 30 minutes away from where we lived. I witnessed it, and as a protective father, I was infuriated because the opposing player who intentionally dealt the unprovoked hit went unpunished and was not called for a foul.

Meanwhile, Morgan remained calm as I walked with her and her assistant coach to the trainer’s area. Apart from a few scratches on her face, she was not injured. I was angrier than she was. As a protective father, it hurt to see my 18-year-old experience that. But she was resilient. She never got scared. She never got angry. She never tried to retaliate. In fact, she let the head coach know that she was fine and if he needed her, she would do whatever he needed her to do to help the team win.

And she did play.

And she played hard, giving maximum effort, never resorting to dirty play.

Her team would go on to lose by double digits. I’m usually meticulous about noting the final score, adding up her total stats, encouraging her highlights, and reviewing what could’ve been improved.

But tonight was different.

After the head coach gave his postgame talk, Morgan politely asked if she could lead the team in a closing prayer, requesting that they all hold hands. Her prayer was one of humility, thanks, unity, and redemption. Every player and every coach on the team kept their eyes closed.

Yes, their squad got beat badly. Yes, Morgan got hurt. Yes, Morgan could have played a better game.

But what happened that night went beyond the game. Many people witnessed the maturity and self-control of an 18-year-old girl who truly understood that being an example for Christ meant more than scoring a lot of points and winning a basketball game.

On the drive home, I asked Morgan what was going through her mind when the girl on the other team hit her. “Honestly, Daddy, I don’t know why my first reaction was to forgive her, even though I felt like I was seeing stars in the moment. I don’t want to give myself any credit. It’s what Jesus wanted me to do, so I just forgave her on the spot.”

Similarly in Matthew 9, Jesus first forgave the paralyzed man before healing him.

Then behold, they brought to Him a paralytic lying on a bed. When Jesus saw their faith, He said to the paralytic, “Son, be of good cheer; your sins are forgiven you … arise, take up your bed, and go to your house.” And he arose and departed to his house. (vv. 2, 6-7 NKJV)

Jesus wanted Morgan to forgive the offending player with the hope that those paralyzed by their sinful nature could one day walk with Christ after witnessing this act of grace and self-control.

Fake Heroes and False Idols
By Rev. Kyle Norman

“Why by spend your money for that which is not bread, and your labour for that which does not satisfy.” (Isaiah 55:2)

The other day I was shopping in our local discount store, the kind that specializes in trinkets not exceeding a few dollars. I found myself in the toy aisle looking at the various figurines and figures on display. As I spanned the selections, my eyes rested upon an action figure, a superhero. This muscle-bound superhero was dressed in a blue suit, with red boots and a red cape; a bright yellow “S” was displayed upon his chest. The packaging around this hero proudly heralded “Up, Up, and Away!”

You may think you have guessed the name of this superhero, but you would be wrong. The name given to this toy was “Super-Heroic Man!” Super-Heroic Man is distinctly not the beloved hero of comic-book fame – but he looks the part. He is the spitting image of the well-known superhero, but at the end of the day, Super-Heroic Man is nothing more than a cheap knockoff, a figure wrapped in fakery and façade.

There is a big difference between what is real and what is fake. That which is real has intrinsic value for us. For example, we readily accept the difference between the value of gold and that of iron-pyrite, known aptly as “fools gold”. Similarly, salt water, while looking identical to the water of freshwater springs, will never quench our thirst. In fact, mistaking salt water for fresh water could be detrimental to our health. Whether it be in the realm of action figures, precious metals, or natural thirst-quenchers, the difference between that which is authentic and true, and that which is a lie, is significant.

Why is it that we look for our spiritual comfort or healing in vain efforts or in human-bound work rather than the grace of God? Why do we find it so easy to turn to cheap knockoffs when it comes to our spiritual lives? Can false idols really satisfy? Do they ever free us from our sins or liberate us from the spiritual weights that we carry upon our shoulders?

This is the question that God asked the people of Israel as they struggled through the exile. Despite the many invitations given to them to turn to the Lord, to receive blessing and life, the people frequently chose to follow their own wishes. Instead of redemption given by the Lord, the people chose a façade of salvation brought about by false idols and fake gods. And time after time, God asks the most important of questions: “Why?” Why choose that which is insufficient? Why chase after that which offers no life and no freedom?

The bed and its covering

“For the bed is shorter than that a man can stretch himself on it: and the covering narrower than he can wrap himself in it.” Isaiah 28:20

Suggested Further Reading: Hebrews 4:3-10

What a glorious thing, it is to be a Christian, to have faith in Christ. Come my soul, take thy rest, the great High Priest has full atonement made. Thou hast much good laid up, not for many years, but for eternity; take thine ease; eat spiritual things; drink wine on the lees and be merry; for it cannot be said of thee, “tomorrow thou shalt die,” for thou shalt never die, for “thy life is hid with Christ in God.” Thou art no fool to take thy ease and rest, for this is legitimate ease and rest, the rest which the God of Sabaoth hath provided for all his people. And then, O Christian! march boldly to the river of death, march calmly up to the throne of judgment, enter placidly and joyfully into the inheritance of thy Lord, for thou hast about thee an armour that can keep thee from the arrows of death, a wedding garment that makes thee fit to sit down at the banquet of the Lord. Thou hast about thee a royal robe that makes thee a fit companion even for Jesus, the King of kings, when he shall admit thee into his secret chambers, and permit thee to hold holy and close fellowship with him. I cannot resist quoting that verse of the hymn:

“With his spotless vesture on,
Holy as the Holy One.”

That is the sum and substance of it all. And on this bed let us take our rest, and during this week let us make Christ’s work our only garment, and we shall find it long enough, and broad enough, for us to wrap ourselves up in it.