March Madness

Stanford v TexasMarch Madness is an annual event that sports fans look forward to each year.  I would imagine that more TV sets are flashing images of slam dunks than they are of Duck Dynasty.

The Big 12 entered the tournament with high expectations and much optimism; however, by the end of the first round reality had struck.  The University of Texas, Baylor, Oklahoma State, and Iowa State University had suffered defeat and have been sidelined for the rest of the tournament.  The youthful enthusiasm and hard work of their players was outmatched by the effort of their opponents.

Three teams from the Big 12 live to fight another day.  Kansas University, Oklahoma University, and feisty West Virginia move forward into round two.

Of these three, the Rock-Chalk-Jayhawks of KU have one of the more interesting matchups.  The regular season Big 12 champs will face the Wichita State University from the Missouri Valley.  This is a game that many from the state of Kansas have been asking for since Greg Marshall placed his winning brand on the WSU program.

Basketball, like other sports, can have a long-lasting impact on the lives of those who have played the game.  Players benefit from both the positive influence of coaches and teammates, and the discipline they have learned.

There is another benefit to sports, and it’s seen in the ministry of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes.  This group uses sports as an arena to teach their four core values:

  • Integrity: A Christ-like wholeness that is to be demonstrated privately, and publicly. (Proverbs 11:3).
  • Serving: A life that reflects the servant’s heart of Jesus (John 13:1-7).
  • Teamwork: A unity in all of our relationships that is possible through Christ (Philippians 2:1-54).
  • Excellence: A life that honors and glorifies God in all we do (Colossians 3:23-24)

When you set down in front of your TV to watch your favorite team, give some thought to these four core values.  During the timeouts or commercials, examine your life to see if these values are at the core of your life.

The Voice is Your Voice

The-VoiceLast night I had my TV tuned in to ESPN, so I could watch the Kansas State Wildcats play the Kansas Jayhawks in a game of basketball.  During a commercial break, I quickly flipped through the channels and found The Voice playing on channel 3.

NBC describes The Voice as “the Emmy Award winning, number one series on NBC, featuring the country’s best unknown artists and four of the biggest names in music as coaches.” Due to the success of the program judges Adam Levine, Pharrell Williams, Christiana Aguilera, and Blake Shelton have become household names.

The title of the show, The Voice, reminds me of the words of Psalm 5:1-4: “Listen to my words, O Lord, and consider my meditation. Give heed to the voice of my cry, My King and my God, for to You I will pray. My voice You shall hear in the morning, O Lord; In the morning I will direct it to You, and I will look up.”

There is a voice that God listens for throughout each and every day of the Earth’s existence, and it is your voice.  God listens to your words, and He considers your concerns.

When you read this Psalm, you can discover several things:

  • The details of the prayer: It was not some haphazard exercise, but there was an appointed time to meet with God—“in the morning.”
  • The determination and discipline of the prayer: “I will pray” not “I might pray.”
  • The direction of the prayer: It was directed towards God (Jeremiah 33:3).

The difference between “The Voice” and “Your Voice” is this:  You have never had to compete to get the Judge to hear you voice and to get His attention.  You can approach Him boldly in your time of need (Hebrews 4:16), and you can have the confidence of knowing He always hears your voice: “The Lord has heard the sound of my weeping.  The Lord has heard my appeal for mercy; the Lord has accepted my prayer (Psalm 6).”

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