In the past week, we have enjoyed attending training camp practices for the Minnesota Vikings and Kansas City Chiefs, the two NFL teams for which we cheer.
During the first one – our trip to the Twin Cities – we were sitting in the stands of the TCO Performance Center (the Vikings’ amazing practice and training facility), when Marsha told Micah, “Okay, it’s almost time for their practice to start.”
Micah’s reply was priceless. He said with exasperation, “Practice?!” He was thinking that surely, with thousands of fans waiting in a packed house, we must have been waiting for something more than practice.
Still, it was fun, especially considering how close we were to the players. Everyone except Micah – not yet much of a football fan – really enjoyed the experience.
At Missouri Western State University, home of the Chiefs’ training camp, Zoe waited by a gate for 2.5 hours with the hopes of getting Patrick Mahomes’ autograph (it was QBs and RBs day for autographs). While she did not get Mahomes’ autograph, she did get a couple others, along with some great experiences, including Jody Fortson coming right up to Zoe, signing his gloves, and giving them to her. Needless to say, we are now huge Fortson fans, as well as bigger fans of Mercole Hardman (Zoe got his autograph on a jersey for Noah), Juan Thornhill, Justin Watson, and Austin Edwards, all who took a lot of time to come over, visit, and sign autographs.
Click HERE for some pictures of both training camps.
Also, HERE is the video of Fortson coming up to Zoe.
Our family cherishes the memories from vacation, and our trip to Minnesota was no exception. We had a great time with my side of the family. Praise the Lord for family and the time we have together! Here are just a few of the highlights (click on any picture for the full view)…
When I play all-time quarterback (meaning quarterback for both teams, for those who do not know and/or have not had the joyful privilege) with my kids and nieces and nephews, I never lose. I suppose you could say I never win either, but I do not see it that way. Instead, I get to throw touchdown passes all game long and the team for which I play wins in the end. As a competitive person who hates to lose, I kind of like being all-time quarterback. The game is fun, and I get to throw the winning touchdown pass. Never to lose; always to win.
I was thinking about this during our recent vacation when I had the privilege of playing football with some of the kids (pictured above). Seriously, I never tire of being all-time quarterback, kind of like I never tire of winning, although I do not always win in sports (or in life).
A much better victory is possible, though.
On Sunday morning, Lord willing, I will be preaching from Ezra 5-6 on “Reclaimed Victory.” When we know and follow the Lord, we have a victory that is so much greater than anything this life has to offer. We have a victory that is far superior to the greatest of sports dynasties. We have a victory that lasts infinitely longer than any potential fame and fortune.
Victory in Jesus is eternal. We must respond to Him in order to experience His victory, though, and His victory demands a continued response from us. How are you responding to the God of victory?
Sure, we learn valuable lessons in life when we lose. Those lessons are good for us because winning does not come easy, and no one always wins in this life.
When this life is over, though, you will either have eternal victory or eternal damnation, eternal life or eternal death. Jesus enables you never to lose when you come to know Him. We must respond to the God of victory, and I hope to communicate those necessary responses Sunday morning. May we experience His victory, and may we celebrate His victory! To God be the glory!
If you were to walk up to my house one day and find one of my children outside wearing a cheesehead and an Aaron Rodgers jersey and chanting “Go, Pack, Go!,” you would be extremely surprised, if not shocked. Why? Well, because you know the Drake family better than that, right?
What if, though, said child proceeded to tell you, “My dad told me to do this. I’m cheering for the Packers because my dad said I had to.”? Surely, you would not believe what you just heard. You know I am a Minnesota Vikings fan and would never cheer for the Packers (unless a Packers’ victory somehow helped the Vikings), let alone ask or require my children to cheer for the Packers (or Bears or Lions).
You see, your knowledge of me would lead you to believe something just is not right with this scenario. Because you know about my unfortunate loyalty to the Vikings, you trust that I would not allow my children to chant and cheer for the Packers (or Bears or Lions) while still under my authority. Such horrendous things are forbidden in my house.
Knowledge impacts trust. The more you know someone, the more you are able to trust him (or, the less you trust him if he proves unworthy of your trust). In fact, there are obviously many situations in which wisdom requires knowledge before trust. For example, you would never trust people to care for your children without knowing who they are. Trusting a random person with your children would not be wise.
While there are exceptions, many a fool has been made because of “blind faith.” Would you trust just any person with your money and investments? Of course not. “I don’t know you and realize that you don’t work for a bank or investment company, but here’s my life savings. Would you please do what you think is best with it?” said no one ever.
Understanding is required for proper trust. You cannot possibly trust with sincerity what you do not know in truth.
God is no exception, as He does not ask us to trust Him without understanding who He is. No, we cannot possibly understand Him fully, but we must understand Him some. He gave us His Word, so that we can gain a better understanding of who He is and who He created us to be.
He sent us His Son to reveal Himself to the world, so that we could truly know Him and have a right relationship with Him.
He gives His Spirit to all who know Him, so that we can experience His presence and continue to grow in our knowledge of Him.
And, the more we understand who He is, the more we naturally trust in Him. If you do not know who He is, though, according to the Truth of His Word, then your trust in Him will fail you. Your trust will be without a foundation. Your trust will prove to be illegitimate.
“This is how you know the Spirit of God: Every spirit who confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God. But every spirit who does not confess Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist; you have heard that he is coming, and he is already in the world now” (1 John 4:2-3).
Do you know and believe the right things about Jesus Christ? Only then can you sincerely trust and follow Him.
Thanks to a great internship with KIMT in 1999, I had the opportunity to stand on the sideline with a sports reporter for the Minnesota Vikings vs. Detroit Lions game on January 2, 2000. While I have been to NFL, NBA and MLB games before, standing on the sideline of a Vikings game has to be my favorite professional sports memory.
In fact, not only did I get to stand on the sideline and help that reporter, I got to go into the Vikings’ locker room after the game! I literally rubbed shoulders with Hall-of-Famer Cris Carter, my all-time favorite Viking, and got to hold a microphone in the face of Hall-of-Famer Randy Moss. I remember just being in awe of all of these superstars. No doubt I was starstruck.
Not surprisingly, though, none of those players ever hung out with me after that day. None of them invited me over for supper or came to my parents’ house for a visit. They continued their lives as if they had never even met me. Why? Well, because they did not and do not know me. We have no relationship.
Yes, I was quite proud of that day and have told many people over the years how I saw John Randle’s gargantuan arms up close and stood within a few feet of Randall Cunningham and Jeff George. I bragged about that day as if I had actually accomplished something, even though I had really done nothing of any significance.
Now, if some of those players had proceeded to visit me and become my friends, I would have really been able to impress people. Well, at least some people would have been impressed. It is highly improbable this will ever happen, though. Not only will I likely never see any of those players in person again, but they will likely never align themselves with me. They have no reason to do so.
Have you ever considered how amazing it is, however, that the God of the universe promises to be with those who know Him?! One of the names of Jesus the Son of God is Immanuel, which means “God is with us” (Matthew 1:23).
While you would likely be impressed if a famous football player regularly came to my house for supper, you are likely not impressed that God is with me all the time. He never leaves me, just as He promised. The reason this does not impress you is two-fold:
I have done absolutely nothing to earn God’s presence. Rather, it is by His grace and mercy in and through His Son that I (or anyone) can know Him and experience His resulting presence.
So, while this ought not impress you that God is with me, you certainly ought to be amazed and in awe of the fact that God would choose to be with any of us, me included. We are sinful people incapable of getting to God on our own, and so He came to us. This is the Christmas story, and it is the exciting message of Immanuelwe are going through as a church on Sunday mornings.
Are you impressed? You certainly are not and should not be impressed with me, but I pray you are awe-struck by God and His love for you.
Whether it’s my son Noah’s junior high game (like the picture above), “Friday Night Lights,” or the NFL, I really enjoy watching football. I enjoyed playing football when I was in high school. In fact, I still enjoy playing it today.
When I was watching my favorite NFL team, the Minnesota Vikings, lose to the Los Angeles Rams on Thursday night, though, I began to experience an overwhelming sense of conviction in my heart. No, I was not convicted about my decision of being a lifelong fan of a disappointing team. Nor was I convicted that I was watching the game. Rather, I was convicted because I was allowing the disappointment of the game to ruin my mood.
Of course, as a Vikings fan, I did not experience extreme disappointment Thursday night for the first time. Most likely, it will not be the last time either. Not only have the Vikings never won the Super Bowl (0-4 all time), they have not even made it to the Super Bowl since before I was born, having lost their last six trips to the NFC Championship Game.
If this trend continues, and if the Vikings continue to underperform, I will not see the confetti fall in their favor at the end of a season.
But, as much as I would enjoy a Super Bowl title for my all-time favorite sports franchise, it really is not a big deal. It really does not matter.
Even if they doend a season at the top of their sport, like my favorite NBA team, the San Antonio Spurs, have done five times, the jubilation will be short-lived. Fans (and I imagine players and coaches, too) end up being extremely disappointed if another championship is not achieved the following year. There is only one winner, and so most people who care usually find themselves disappointed.
Have you ever considered how ridiculous it is to allow sports to rob us of our joy? With the exception of my senior year of high school football, when we won the state championship, I cried at the end of each of my sports seasons, knowing that I had “failed” and had to wait another year to win. Or, in the case of our playoff loss in basketball my senior year, I experienced the crushing realization that I might never play competitive basketball again. My career ended with a disappointing performance in a loss.
Guess who actually cares about my senior football and basketball seasons today, though? Pretty much no one. Guess who really cares about who won the Super Bowl a few years ago? Pretty much no one.
More importantly, guess how much the results of sporting events actually matter? They do not.
Please do not get me wrong. I have no problem with people playing or watching sports. I think we can learn a lot about life, teamwork, hard work, dedication, loyalty, discipline, etc. from sports.
But, to let sports dictate our moods and/or guide our lives will be a tragic mistake. Jesus is so much better than football. He is the eternal, authoritative, powerful Son of God. He died on the cross for our sins, and He rose again to win eternal victory for everyone who calls on Him.
Following Jesus is not just another activity we tack on to our lives, like football or some other hobby. Following Jesus is life itself for those who are His genuine disciples.
The true joy that comes for those who follow Jesus is everlasting joy. Consider – it would be utter foolishness to look back after your team won a championship and let one bad play upset you. You won! Who cares about that one play? Well, it would be eternal foolishness to try to find your satisfaction in the things of this world rather than in the One who is eternal. To try to find your satisfaction in one play rather than in the end result is foolish. Jesus has won the victory, the eternal victory. Do not make the mistake of settling for anything less than peace and hope in Him.
Tomorrow, I will be preaching on “The Lord of Discipleship” (Mark 11). While you will be able, Lord willing, to listen to the message HERE tomorrow afternoon, I would like to encourage you now to make sure you seek and surrender to Jesus. He is Lord of all, and seeking to find your hope, satisfaction, joy and salvation anywhere else will leave you disappointed today and leave you sorry forever.
Jesus is better than football. He is better than everything. He is Lord.