Monday, April 5, 2010

Is Little Butler's big moment NCAA history in the making?


The image of the late North Carolina State coach Jim Valvano frantically scrambling for someone to hug after his sixth-seeded men's basketball team upset Houston to win the NCAA championship in 1983 is one of the greatest moments in tournament history. In 1985, Villanova played in a classic. As a No. 8 seed, the Wildcats knocked off a Patrick Ewing-led Georgetown team to win the tournament. Twenty-five years later, Butler is on the brink of giving America a story for the ages.

"We're on a big stage now playing against the best teams in the country," Butler reserve Zach Hahn says. "That's something we've always wanted our whole lives. I think we're prepared for it."

Butler is the smallest school to reach the men's final in 40 years, yet it looms large here with the backing of the city's fans. Lucas Oil Stadium is 6 miles from Butler's north-side campus.

While Butler's big moment makes NCAA history, the biggest moment in history was the resurrection which Christians celebrated this past weekend. This week's Sports in Focus study wraps up with the Servant that conquered sin and and death. It can be downloaded here.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

“Outdo one another in showing honor.”


This past basketball season, I coached the Nebraska Christian Girls' basketball team. Following the season, the Golden Rod Conference awarded both our boys and girls teams with the "Sportsmanship Award." The award considers player, coach and fan conduct along with team management. Before I committed my life to Christ, this type of award would have meant very little to me. However, after repenting of my sins and receiving Christ into my life in college, this type of award has become very important. Every believer in Christ is called to be a witness for Him -- no exceptions! Both our message and our actions are important witnesses for Christ. A philosopher once said, “Show me your redeemed life and I might be inclined to believe in your redeemer.” We should also have holy competition among believers. Below is a blog written by Stephen Altrogge that makes this point. -- Gordon

"Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor."
(Romans 12:10)

There should be a holy competition among God’s people. A competition of showing honor to one another.

We’re called to outdo one another in showing honor. Half-hearted, irregular attempts don’t cut it. I’m supposed to outdo you in showing honor, and you’re supposed to outdo me. What a wonderful competition.

Kings are honored. People respect them, serve them, and consider their interests as most important.

I’m called to treat you like a king. To go over the top in honoring you. To honor you far more than I honor myself. It’s a holy competition.

What would it look like if I made a concerted effort to outdo my wife Jen in showing honor? How would that change the things I say about her, do for her, and care for her? What would happen if I outdid the members of my small group in showing honor? What if I tried to beat my friends in showing honor to them? What would change?

It would be glorious. Let the games begin.

Written by Stephen Altrogge

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Baylor coach ready for Sweet 16 & a chance to share his faith


Scott Drew, Baylor University’s arm-waving, ever-smiling, ever-positive head basketball coach, has led his Bears to heights unimaginable, but he says he isn’t able to do the miraculous or the mundane without his faith in Jesus Christ.

Drew was interviewed just before Baylor would play in its first-ever Sweet 16 game. “I wouldn’t be in this spot without the Lord. With all the attention this week and last, I know I need to stay in the Scripture and stay humble. I just want to deflect the light on myself or individual players to Whom it belongs, that is God.” His pastor had this to say about Drew’s perspective on sports. “I will always remember when we lost to Texas two years ago by a single point at home, just a devastating loss, and the next morning I’m walking past the nursery at church and there was Scott, on his knees, playing with the kids as a volunteer worker. Name me one other coach in America who would do that after a gut-wrenching loss.”

Genuine worship is the supreme service a Christian can offer to Christ. This week's Sports In Focus that can be downloaded here, focuses on the importance of true worship, without which everything else we might do in His name is empty and powerless.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Tiger Woods will return at The Masters


Tiger Woods will end his self-imposed “indefinite break” from golf April 8 by making his long-awaited return to the game on the hallowed grounds of Augusta National Golf Club, home of The Masters. One sportscaster compared Tiger’s return to Muhammad Ali’s return to boxing after being banned for several years because he evaded the draft. While many golf fans and broadcasters look forward with eagerness to Tiger’s return, how much more should believers look forward to Christ’s return? You can download this week's Sports In Focus lesson about the second coming of Christ here.

Monday, March 15, 2010

The Importance of a Good Example


During the Boys' State Basketball Tournament, I was reminded of the importance of a good example that each coach sets for their team. Whether it was Coach Paul Beranek and his team's repeat championship or the teams that didn't win a championship, each coach was likely a good example to his players during the season or it's doubtful these teams would have qualified for the tournament. This past weekend, I came across a recent blog by Dr. John MacArthur on being a good example. You can download the entire lesson here. This is part of the lesson...

I was profoundly impressed by an item I saw buried inside the sports pages recently. A high school basketball team from Rockville County, Georgia, had easily won the state championship, rolling over all their opponents. A few weeks after the championship game, the coach, studying the team’s grades, noticed for the first time that one of his third-string players had failed some courses. The youngster was academically ineligible for the basketball team. For the rest of the story and the lesson you can download it here.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

White Knuckles and Gold for U.S. Bobsled Team


The sports switch did not worry Steve Holcomb. When his son, Steven, changed winter sports allegiances from Alpine skiing to bobsled, he knew both were inherently dangerous and vastly time consuming and offered little return. It was the timing that irked Steve Holcomb. Holcomb had just sent a tuition check to the University of Utah shortly before Steven made the decision. With a shrug, Steven told his father he was leaving for Europe the next day to fuel a passion and chase a dream. Then, Steve Holcomb fumed. Now? “Probably a good investment,” Holcomb said, watching his son compete from near the finish line at the Whistler Sliding Centre. “It was money well spent, poorly.” On Saturday, long after bequeathing what turned out to be a friendly donation to the college, Steven Holcomb can offer a refund in gold. Holcomb piloted USA-1 to the first gold medal for the United States in the four-man competition in 62 years. How could this sports story from the 2010 Winter Olympic games be used as a parable to teach a spiritual truth or moral lesson? For more on how sports can be used as a parable, download this week's Sports In Focus lesson here.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Vancouver 2010 Opening Ceremony


The 2010 Winter Olympics began with dazzling performances by a star-studded cast of Canadians. The Wall Street Journal estimated the cost around $40 million to produce the opening ceremonies. Canada was the last country to march and 50,000 people erupted as the ”athletes” emerged. Can you imagine the thrill? By contrast, the entrance of Jesus arriving in Jerusalem for his coronation was without pomp, splendor, and pageantry. For more, download this week's Sports In Focus study here.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

THE SERVANT PREPARES HIS FOLLOWERS


Mark 9:33-35 • Lesson Seven

Due to the time restraint some huddles have for bible study, here is an abridged study that you can print out along with a more complete bible study that you can download at the end of this lesson.

Read and discuss:

Mark 9:33-35

And they came to Capernaum. And when he was in the house he asked them, “What were you discussing on the way?” But they kept silent, for on the way they had argued with one another about who was the greatest. And he sat down and called the twelve. And he said to them, “If anyone would be first, he must be last of all and servant of all.”

Discuss this statement on servanthood by Pastor John MacArthur.

“The cost of true greatness is humble, selfless, sacrificial service. The Christian who desires to be great and first in the kingdom is the one who is willing to serve in the hard place, the uncomfortable place, the lonely place, the demanding place, the place where he is not appreciated and may even be persecuted. Knowing that time is short and eternity long, he is willing to spend and be spent. He is willing to work for excellence without becoming proud, to withstand criticism without becoming bitter, to be misjudged without becoming defensive, and to withstand suffering without succumbing to self-pity.” — John MacArthur

Why do you think Christ’s teaching of the “first shall be last; last shall be first” is so hard to swallow for most athletes and coaches?

You can download the entire lesson here which includes chapter 9 and 10 of the Book of Mark.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Tiger Woods’ Buddhist Confession


As part of his public confession last Friday, Tiger Woods discussed his religious background. He said, "I have a lot of work to do, and I intend to dedicate myself to doing it. Part of following this path for me is Buddhism, which my mother taught me at a young age. People probably don't realize it, but I was raised a Buddhist, and I actively practiced my faith from childhood until I drifted away from it in recent years. Buddhism teaches that a craving for things outside ourselves causes an unhappy and pointless search for security. It teaches me to stop following every impulse and to learn restraint. Obviously I lost track of what I was taught."

This week's lesson shows the difference between Buddhism and Christianity. You can download the lesson here.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Sacrifice before Reward


China’s Shen Xue and Zhao Hongbo became the first Chinese figure skaters to win gold in the 2010 Olympics. In their fourth Olympics, Shen and Zhao, two-time bronze medalists, finally won their first gold. Skating together for the past 18 years and married three years ago after winning the 2007 world title, Shen, 31, and Zhao, 36, were the oldest skaters. Few Olympic athletes have made such great sacrifices. How does this example relate to the topic of sacrificial discipleship?

The New testament makes it clear that there must be a cross before the crown, suffering before glory, sacrifice before reward.
The heart of Christian discipleship is giving before gaining, losing before winning. For today's Sports In Focus lesson click here.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Man of God


Tim Tebow is a messenger. His name is "Timothy" because 23 years ago Bob Tebow was out preaching in some hot and dusty part of the Philippines, and he asked God to give him a preacher son. (Timothy is the name of a biblical preacher.) "Timmy has it built into him that he is on a mission from God to affect people's lives," Bob has said. And to do that, Bob Tebow's son needs an audience.

Check out this ESPN report on Tim titled "Tim Tebow Man of God here. Man of God is a term used in 2 Timothy 3:17. It is a technical term, a man of God is someone uniquely called to proclaim the Word of God. In this case, it is Timothy. In the broader sense, it is any man of God who is equipped for this by all Scripture, and that, of course, 2 Timothy 3, as I read, "All Scripture is provided so that the man of God can be adequate to his work." How can you speak for God unless you know the message of God? You cannot know the message of God apart from the Scripture. All Scripture then is given to us as men of God that we may be perfected or made adequate to the proclamation of the Word of God which is what it means to be a man of God.

For more on Tim Tebow and being a missionary download this week's Sports In Focus lesson here.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Tim Tebow Goes for the Conversion


“Grind on me, test me,” Tim Tebow recently told Sports Illustrated’s Peter King. “I feel I’ve prepared my whole life for this.” He was talking about the Senior Bowl in Mobile, Ala., where Tebow’s been huffing his way through brutal workouts before an audience of NFL scouts. The University of Florida quarterback could have just as easily been talking about his upcoming Super Bowl commercial. At a press conference last week, Tebow said that he’s “always been very convicted” about the wrongness of abortion “because that’s the reason I’m here.” Jason Fagone reported this week on Tebow's ultimate goal. "What is the end? It's not just stopping abortions. Tebow wants to convert people, like his father does in Muslim areas of the Philippines. Until now, he's been subtle in his outreach, pushing his message gently, painting "PHIL 4:13" and "JOHN 3:16" and "MARK 8:36" in his eye black—an ingenious touch that prods even the most degenerate couch potato into Googling Bible verses out of curiosity."

Do you think Tebow understands there is no fear in Christ? Why or why not? For more on this topic, check out this week's Sports In Focus study here. Also, for more discussion on Tim Tebow's Super Bowl ad, click here and here for articles written about his Super Bowl ad.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Sports Parables


How can sports stories be used to teach spiritual lessons? What are some examples? Following the 40-yard field goal in overtime by a little-known kicker who could become as famous as jambalaya in New Orleans, the Saints football team was heading to their first Super Bowl. By battering Brett Favre and beating the Minnesota Vikings 31-28, they set off celebrations on Bourbon Street that locals never could have imagined in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. This is why Saints coach Sean Payton and quarterback Drew Brees came to New Orleans in the grim aftermath of Hurricane Katrina — to regenerate a lost franchise and re-energize a battered city’s spirit. What lessons can be learned from this sports story? This week's Sport In Focus lesson is about parables and how Jesus used them to teach spiritual truths. You can download the lesson here.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

A Mixed Response


Mark 3:1-35 • Lesson Two

If you were to interview shoppers at your local mall, asking the simple question, “Who is Jesus Christ?” what responses would you get?

Tim Tebow wore eye black to testify that Jesus Christ is God’s only begotten Son (John 3:16). He wore different Bible verses on his eye black throughout his career. He wore John 3:16 for the National Title game and Phi 3:13 for the entire 2008 season. During the 2009 season, he wore a variety of verses including: John 16:33, Hebrews 12:1-2, Ephesians 2:8-10, Romans 1:16, Joshua 1:8-9, Colossians 3:23, Philippians 4:6-7, Psalms 23:1. Which Bible verse would you choose? Why?

You can download this week's lesson here.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Inaugurating the Servant


Mark 1:1-2:28 • Lesson One

Welcome to this semester's Sports In Focus study based on the Book of Mark. Here is some context for our first lesson:

Mark’s gospel was intended for a Gentile audience, especially a Roman one. Mark is the gospel of action; the frequent use of “im- mediately” and “then” keeps his narrative moving rapidly along. Jesus appears in Mark as the Servant (Mark 10:45) who bursts on the scene to suffer for the sins of many. Mark’s fast-paced approach would especially appeal to the practical, action-oriented Romans. Without commenting on Christ’s birth or childhood, Mark begins his record of the life of Jesus with a description of John the Baptist—the one prophesied to be the forerunner of Messiah.

You can download this week's lesson here.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Colt McCoy down but not out

The ratings no doubt dropped for the BCS National Championship game Thursday night after it was reported that Colt McCoy would not return to the game. But while viewership dropped, attention to Colt McCoy grew. After getting hurt and then loosing to Alabama in the National Title Game Texas quarterback Colt McCoy demonstrated Christian maturity by accepted God’s sovereign and good will.

After the game, when asked how he felt, Colt said, “I always give God the glory. I never question why things happen the way they do. God is in control of my life. And I know that if nothing else, I’m standing on the Rock.” You can download the lesson here.

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Thursday, January 7, 2010

Resurrection of the Son of God


John 19:38-21:25

Here is the final lesson for the Sports In Focus series on the Book of John. Next week, we will begin studying the Book of Mark. You can download this week's lesson here. You can find the other 11 lessons here.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Brit Hume Tells Tiger Woods: Convert to Christianity to Make Recovery


Fox News Channel pundit Brit Hume took the unusual step of opining that Tiger Woods should convert his faith to Christianity to overcome the scars of his public marital scandal.

On the Fox News Sunday roundtable, Hume said that Woods, who is reportedly a Buddhist, should "turn to the Christian faith."

"The extent to which he can recover seems to me depends on his faith," Hume said. "He is said to be a Buddhist. I don't think that faith offers the kind of forgiveness and redemption that is offered by the Christian faith. My message to Tiger would, 'Tiger, turn to the Christian faith and you can make a total recovery and be a great example to the world."