Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Migration: World Cup Soccer & Theology

Nearly 8 years ago, I created a Geocities website to host my resume & a selection of my writing from the church @ hickory hollow - and I've just recently been informed by Yahoo that they're going to make it go away. I figured I'd migrate most of it over to this blog - well, at least the stuff that is worth reading again.

To start off with, some soccer-related stories in honor of the conversation I had with Sandra & RomeAnna & Chris at Cool Summer Nights...


The World Cup and Other Miracles...

June 13, 2002

I'm not expecting many of you to be soccer fans... let's face it, most of the people who receive this e-mail are Americans, and that means that soccer is something OTHER countries do. We Americans are perfectly happily to watch heavily-padded guys slam into each other at high speeds (American football) - not that, INHO, there's anything wrong with that! :-)

Worse yet, we (the Americans) aren't the best in the world at soccer. This is a problem - we have a bit of a complex about not being #1. (And when I say we're not the best in the world at soccer, I'm not kidding. We were 32nd place out of 32 teams in the last World Cup.)

So, when the U.S. team is dangerously close to advancing into the second round of World Cup play (the first time since 1994) by either winning or tying the game we play against Poland tomorrow (heck, we can still advance with a loss if the right things happen in the other game in our group!), it's major.

[BTW, that game is on ESPN tomorrow morning at 6:30 am... I'm planning on setting my alarm clock and cheering on our team!]

Naturally, my mind drifts from World Cup Soccer to one of the other great themes in my life - following God. (There's a short detour in the twisted paths of my brain to "really good board games about soccer" but I won't dwell on that.)

So much of soccer - and so much of following God - is set-up. Scoring (doing something big & obvious) happens, but not all the time. Scoring is a matter of playing the WHOLE game well, of playing defense & offense, of trying again and again, of being patient & having endurance.

So is following God - a life of patience & endurance & faithfulness... even when the Big & Obvious Stuff doesn't seem to be happening.
Though the cherry trees don't blossom

and the strawberries don't ripen,

Though the apples are worm-eaten

and the wheat fields stunted,

Though the sheep pens are sheepless

and the cattle barns empty,

I'm singing joyful praise to God.

I'm turning cartwheels of joy to my Savior God.

Counting on God's Rule to prevail,

I take heart and gain strength.

I run like a deer.

I feel like I'm king of the mountain!

Habakkuk 3:17-19 (The Message)
More World Cup...

June 14, 2002

It's 8:35 am CST... and the U.S. just lost their game against Poland 3-1. (Like I said, I got up at 6:30 am to watch...)

But... since South Korea beat Portugal 1-0, the United States ends up advancing to the round of 16 *anyway* and playing Mexico on Monday.

Christianity is like that - we're all losers. No matter how nice we are, no matter how good-looking, no matter how wealthy... we all sin. We all miss the mark. We all rebel against the goodness of God.

And it took Someone Else to get us in... Jesus Christ.

Have a great day. Don't forget you "got to advance" due to the sacrifice of Jesus Christ.

But the fact is, it was *our* pains he carried --

*our* disfigurements, all the things wrong with us.

We thought he brought it on himself,

that God was punishing him for his own failures.

But it was our sins that did that to him,

that ripped and tore and crushed him -- *our* sins!

He took the punishment, and that made us whole

Through his bruises we get healed.

We're all like sheep who've wandered off and gotten lost.

We've all done our own thing, gone our own way.

And God has piled all our sins, everything

we've done wrong, on him, on him.

Isaiah 53:9-14 (The Message)

Which Game Are You Playing?

June 21, 2002

Seems a simple enough question. If you've got a copy of Monopoly laid out on the card table, I'd take a flyer and say you're playing Monopoly. If you're carrying a stick with a wicker basket on the top, I'd hazard a guess and say lacrosse.

If you're playing with a white & black ball at 6:30 am CST in Korea, I'd say soccer. Which, unfortunately (Yes, I was up early again, cheering our boys on while wearing my bathrobe.) We lost 1-0 to Germany in a hard-fought & beautifully played game. Germany advances to face either S. Korea or Spain while the U.S. goes home.

But... what if the game you're playing isn't primarily about going through to the round of 8 (nice though that would be) but about winning the respect of the world soccer community? In that case, the U.S. was successful - amazingly so. Beating Portugal & Mexico, playing Germany so close that a couple of inches would have turned an inadvertent hand ball into a tying goal... we are no longer the laughingstock of international soccer.

In our lives, the game may well seem to be:

  • the most cash
  • the nicest house
  • the cushiest job
  • the admiration of others

But, we're actually playing in a bigger game... living life in a way that reflects Christ. Success at the "obvious" game may well not translate into success at being conformed to His image - and vice versa.

Doesn't change the fact that the second 'game' is WAY more important.

[God] decided from the outset to shape the lives of those who love him along the same lines as the life of his Son.

Romans 8:29 (The Message)

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