The Pick-Me-Up Principle

christianencouragementsecularencouragementThe season ended much differently for the Denver Broncos than it did for the Minnesota Vikings—especially Blair Walsh.  Confetti and ticker tape parades were the focus of the Broncos’ fans; however, some Vikings’ fans were thinking more of a hangman’s noose.

During the season, Walsh had made an NFL-high 34 field goals. With time running out, all the Vikings needed to defeat the Seahawks was a field goal.  Everyone assumed Walsh would kick the ball through the center of the goal posts, but it sailed wide and the Vikings season came to a sudden end.

While many of the Vikings’ fans attacked Walsh on social media, a group of first graders in Minnesota decided to share some encouraging words with the much-maligned kicker.  One of the students, Allie Edwards, said, “Blair was really sad, and we wanted to make him feel better.”

To see how the class reached out to Walsh, you can watch this video:

The actions of these children reminds me of one of the great pick-me-up principles of the New Testament:

If a person is caught doing something wrong, those of you who are spiritual should restore that person gently. Watch out for yourself so that you are not tempted as well.  Practice carrying each other’s burdens. In this way you will fulfill the law of the Messiah. For if anyone thinks he is something when he is really nothing, he is only fooling himself . . . So then, whenever we have the opportunity, let’s practice doing good to everyone, especially to the family of faith.    ~Galatians 6

Blair Walsh was blessed because Allie Edwards and her classmates heard opportunity knocking, and Walsh was encouraged by their little hearts that were large with empathy. Who will you bless and encourage today?

Peyton Manning Retires or Goodbye Omaha

peyton-manning1Four years ago, Peyton Manning joined the Denver Broncos.  Before he stepped on the field for the first time, he first waked through the locker room to meet the

In this era of super-sized egos, Manning was a rare gem.  He loved and respected the game, and it showed on that April day in 2012 when he shook hands with the guys on the practice squad, the backups, and the starters.  Every one of the Broncos already knew who he was, but Peyton wanted to know each of them.

Most people who follow the NFL were pretty sure Manning’s career was over, so no one was surprised when the news began to leak out on Saturday night.  To show respect for his fellow Broncos, Manning had sent each of them a text before his final decision to retire became public.

As I think about the way this famous man has managed his life, I’m reminded of a couple of Scriptures:

  • Romans 12:3: I tell everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he should think. Instead, think sensibly, as God has distributed a measure of faith to each one.
  • James 4:10: Humble yourselves before the Lord, and He will exalt you.
  • 1 Peter 5:6: Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God, so that He may exalt you at the proper time

I hope aspiring athletes will remember Manning less for his signature “Omaha” and more for the manner in which he has respected the game and the way he continues to invest in the lives of others.

Sackomania and The Quarterback Sack

palmerAfter watching the gleefully satisfied look of the defensive players on the Broncos and Panthers, I’m adding a new classification to the list of impulse control disorders.  This list usually includes dysfunctional behaviors such as kleptomania, pyromania, trichotillomania. 

Impulse control disorders are characterized by a person’s inability to avoid behavior that might bring harm to themselves or others. Typically, the pot of anxiety is about to boil over immediately before the behavior occurs.   Committing the act is like opening a pressure relief valve, and in spite of the potentially dangerous consequences, there’s an immediate feeling of relief and even happiness:

  • Kleptomania: People who struggle with this disorder will steal when they get anxious or frustrated and find relief by doing so.
  • Pyromania:  This describes the act whereby a person feels a sense of excitement or relief after deliberately setting fires.
  • Trichotillomania:  This is the person you’ve seen who is constantly pulling and twisting her hair to gain a release of tension or a sense of satisfaction
  • Sackomania is the new classification that I am adding to this list.

Sackomania is usually observed on Sundays, and it most often occurs between the opposing goal posts on a field consisting of 100 yards.  If you watched the Broncos defeat the Patriots or endured the massacre of the Cardinals as they were devoured by the Panthers, you saw a classic case of Sackomania.

Some of the actions of the defensive players were characterized by their inability to avoid behavior that might bring harm to themselves or others.  In these instances, the harm resulted in very little pain to self, but Tom Brady and Carson Palmer, were left in crumpled piles of agonizing pain.

The NFL is the dream of many young boys, but football odds are stacked against them.  Out of the  310,465 high school seniors who play football, only 6.5% of them will make to the NCAA division of football; and, out of that number, just 1.6% of them will make it to the NFL.

Even though you probably won’t make it to the NFL, there is a 100% chance that at some time in your life, you’re going to struggle with an impulse—Mr. Temptation is going to knock on your door and invite you to come outside and play. No one is immune to the enticing power of temptation:

  • David struggled with it, and in the Psalm 46, he found hope in God as his “refuge and strength, and a very present help in trouble.”
  • James said, “Everyone is tempted by his own desires as they lure him away and trap him. Then desire becomes pregnant and gives birth to sin (James 1: 14-16).”

The impulse to yield to temptation can be managed by putting on the “whole armor of God,” and “hiding God’s word in your heart (Ephesians 6:11; Psalm 119:9-11).” The next time an urge or impulse is pulling you away from the safety of the shore and enticing you to engage in some questionable behavior, let me suggest you get into one of God’s RAFTS:

  • Resist the urge:  Resist the devil and he will flee from you (James 4: 7).
  • Align with God:  Draw near to God and He will draw near to you (James 4: 7–8).
  • Follow:  Pursue what has God’s approval. Pursue faith, love, and peace together with those who worship the Lord with a pure hear (2 Timothy 2:22).
  • Trust:  Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not rely on your own understanding; think about Him in all your ways, and He will guide you on the right paths (Proverbs 3:5-6).
  • Seek God in prayer: “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.  For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened (Matthew 7:7-8).

Manning’s Gritty Performance

manning20 to 18 was the final score, and the Broncos defeated the Patriots through the combination of a tough defense and an offense led by an aging quarterback.  Peyton Manning is the comeback kid of 2016, and he has been dreaming what has seemed to be the impossible dream.

Other than the Denver faithful, most people, including the odds makers, thought the boys from Boston were the kings of the mountain, and they would win this game.  Manning, however, has a history of trekking up the paths of rugged trails and scaling a mountain’s summit.

Manning is just half the age of another mountaineer.  When he was 80 years old, Caleb was still a man of grit.  His spunky nature and “can do” attitude is seen in his five-word request: “Give this mountain!”

Forty years earlier, the giants who lived on that mountain had spooked all of the Israelites except Joshua and Caleb, and the fearful chose the life of wilderness nomads rather than the promised land of “milk and honey.”

People like Peyton Manning, Joshua, and Caleb, are not deterred by challenging detours—they make mole hills out of mountains.

The many hardships these men overcame reminds me of the perseverance of the Apostle Paul, who said, “We are hard-pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed (2 Corinthians 4:8).”

While there is a reservoir of strength that is available through Jesus, scaling the mountains you face will also require a little grit or what Webster calls, “firmness of mind and spirit, unyielding courage in the face of hardship or danger.”

Old number 18 was pumped full of it on Sunday.