Cinderella’s 44 Seconds of Eternity

 

BBCindThe craziness of March Madness was on full display this past week.  Several upset-minded teams played the role of Cinderella as they danced their way to victory.

On Friday, the Panthers of Northern Iowa wore the silver sneakers and defeated the University of Texas with a dramatic half-court buzzer beater. On Sunday, however, the magic was gone and UNI lost to Texas A&M.

I’m not sure how many bible scholars play for UNI, but I do know they learned something about eternity—it never ends. With a 12-point lead and just 44 seconds left to play, UNI was already tasting victory.

Those final 44 seconds turned into an eternity of mishaps.  With Matt Bohannon on the bench with a knee injury, UNI discovered the weak link in their lineup—no other player could fill his shoes.

The Panthers agonized for 44 seconds as Texas A&M intercepted one inbound pass after another, and their 12-point lead vanished.  Evidently the Panthers Fairy God Mother had left the stadium 45 seconds earlier, and she wasn’t present when this Cinderella took a nasty fall.

The Panthers loss reminds us that a team is only as strong as its weakest link—the same is true for churches.   This is why Paul encouraged Christians to help bear the burdens of fellow believer; to lift each other up in prayer; and to live a harmonious life in a coordinated effort to grow one another:

We are not meant to remain as children at the mercy of every chance wind of teaching and the jockeying of men who are expert in the craft presentation of lies. But we are meant to hold firmly to the truth in love, and to grow up in every way into Christ, the head. For it is from the head that the whole body, as a harmonious structure knit together by the joints with which it is provided, grows by the proper functioning of individual parts to its full maturity in love (Ephesians 4:14-16 ~The Message).

As an individual part of the chain, are you properly functioning?  If not, you just might be the weak link.

Broncos: More Than A One Horse Show

Manning-with-quoteEverything about Peyton Manning speaks of a seasoned professional.  His off season regime, the extra hours of preparation during preseason, his pregame warm-up drills, and even the carb-filled meal he eats before the game, are all legendary.

Ask anyone on the team, especially the rookies and newbies, if Manning’s focus is just on Peyton, and they will tell you that no one works harder than Peyton; and, no one works them harder than Peyton.

Manning knows he must prepare himself; however, he also knows his preparation is inadequate and incomplete if it doesn’t include the team as a whole.

If you listened to the post game interview, the philosophy of the old pro was heard in the pronoun he used. Manning’s vocabulary was not filled with “me, myself, and nobody else;” instead, he spoke of “our” team, “our” effort, “our” coaches, and “our” win.  That’s not to say he never used the word “I.”

With a thought to the sky box where his family was huddled, Peyton said, “I want to give my wife a kiss and hug my family.”  While the win was nice, it paled in comparison to the love he has for his wife and family.

A serious neck injury sidelined Manning during the 2011 season, and it required a series of three surgeries.  Peyton thought his career was over, but Ashley, his wife, encouraged him to give it one more try.  Her urgings were not because the family needed money or because she wanted her husband to take some more bone-crushing hits.   She knew Peyton would have always wondered if he could have come back and would have regretted that he had not tried.

When the Lombardi trophy was given to the Denver Broncos and they were crowned champions of Super Bowl 50, it was because of teamwork.  The defense played an excellent game; the offensive lineman blocked; the receivers ran their routes; and Peyton called a strategic game with his trademark “Omaha” checkoff.

While I watched the game yesterday I kept thinking of Solomon’s teamwork philosophy, and I think they’re a fitting conclusion to this post:

Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work: If one falls down, his friend can help him up. But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up! Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm. But how can one keep warm alone? Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken (Ecclesiastes 4:9-12).”

 

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).