Tag Archives: soccer

devotion to prayer

image courtesy of heavenawaits

I was reading this morning, and the first words of Colossians 4:2 stood out to me:

“Devote yourselves to prayer…”

προσκαρτερεω  (proskartereo) =
to be devoted or constant; to be steadfastly attentive to

I looked up a few other passages where this word (devote / proskartereo) appears in the New Testament:

  • Acts 1:14 – Believers, with one mind, were continually devoting themselves to prayer.
  • Acts 2:42 – Believers devoted themselves to several things, among them prayer.
  • Acts 6:4 – Apostles appointed deacons so they could devote themselves to prayer and ministry.
  • Romans 12:12 – Devotion to prayer listed as a key element in church unity and function.

Early every morning I pray alone — usually over a list I keep.  Then Christie, Baylor, and I pray together after reading scripture at breakfast.  Every run I go on involves at least a little bit of prayer time, and sometimes a lot.  Also, Christie and I pray together every night before bed.  I can certainly say I’m “devoted” to these four prayer practices.  But I’m not sure I can say that I’m devoted to prayer. I want to be.  And perhaps I’m on my way there…


Committed to a Game

But I’m forced to think about things to which I’ve been truly devoted in my life.  When I coached high school soccer, I spent:

  • 12 hours a week practicing with the team
  • 5-10 hours a week taking care of the logistics of practices, scheduling, and travel
  • 5-10 hours a week coaching in, and traveling to, actual games and tournaments
  • 2-4 hours a week scouting other teams
  • 2 hours a week painting and caring for the field

That’s over 30 hours a week I spent on soccer (in addition to a full-time job).  A game.   I was truly devoted to a game. And it paid off.  Our team was very successful.  But I was devoted to a game.


Consider This

So if prayer truly is powerful — and if New Testament authors were right to encourage us to be devoted to it — I can only imagine what would result from a deepened level of commitment to prayer in my own life. Or in our families and churches.

Consider how devoted you are to:

  • your job
  • your children
  • your blog
  • Facebook
  • church attendance
  • other churchy opportunities* and activities
  • college football teams
  • television

I wonder if we even committed to a “least common denominator” approach to prayer — devoting to prayer only the amount of time equal to what we spend on the least frequent of the above activities — what would happen?

I want to challenge you to pray more.  I’m not suggesting that you start by attempting to pray for an hour a day.  But pray more. I’m convinced we begin to devote ourselves to particular activities by increasingly devoting small increments of time to those activities.

Tomorrow I’m going to post some practical ideas on how we can begin to devote ourselves further to prayer.  And I’m not just thinking through these as an exercise for others.  I desperately want to learn to pray without ceasing; and I could use your help in getting me there. If you’ve got some practical ideas, feel free to post them below.  [I’m not compiling my list until late tonight or early tomorrow morning.]

* Just a little shout out to Nacho.

See also: 3 principles for training our minds.



Filed under prayer, sports

cameron newton and chronic halitosis

image courtesy of trackemtigers.com

I played football for one season. It was 7th grade, and your author had played soccer every fall from the age of 7 — but was up for trying a new sport one year.  I didn’t try out for the school football team, and instead played city league ball.  There were four teams (each complete with its own cheerleading squad), and I played for the Packers.

I remember amazingly little about the season.  But there was this one coach with really bad breath — I mean chronic halitosis of the worst kind.  The guy ate sour-cream-and-sewage flavored Chex mix before every practice, and brushed his teeth with eggs. His breath was so bad that, had I been smarter, I would’ve purposely played mediocre ball so as to not be lectured for poor play OR congratulated for good play.

The other coach I remember was named Jack — or maybe his son was named Jack?  But he dressed and looked  a whole lot like Steve Spurrier — visor, clipboard, and all.  I don’t really remember any of the players or much else about the season, other than my role on the team (and that I liked speaking with Jack Spurrier much better than with dragon-whisperer).  I played defensive tackle on the left side and tight end on offense.  Pretty much I tried to tackle the quarterback and occasionally ran the reverse.  I also ran a lot of pass routes, but 7th grade football isn’t generally considered to showcase an electrifying, through-the-air style of play.  I’m not sure there was ever actually even a pass thrown.  I had four sacks on the year, no touchdowns, and happily returned to the soccer pitch the following year.

It’s not that football wasn’t fun; it’s just that, at the end of every game, I felt like we’d not done much.  I wasn’t sure if the games were too short or if running routes for nonexistent passes just wasn’t my thing. I later realized the problem: there really wasn’t a whole lot of football in football games. The majority of our time was spent in a huddle, calling plays, or lining up for a new play.  Soccer was a sport where I could run and play for every minute of the game; there was always something happening — and I didn’t have to wear a view-obstructing helmet or anything called a butt pad.  So I returned to the gentleman’s sport.

But I have nothing against football.  College football is actually my favorite sport to watch — in person and on television.  I love it.  These days I’m staying up until 3:00 am on Sunday mornings just to read the play-by-play of Auburn games scrolling across the bottom of my computer screen.  [I love Auburn football.]  And I enjoyed playing intramural football every year I was in college (and even a few after I graduated).  So I don’t have anything against the sport, but I am calling it like I see it.  It’s kind of a slow game.

This little chart shows what I’m talking about:

a televised nfl game contains 11 minutes actual play

But now on to more important things, and the reason I’m posting today.  In the newest issue of Sports Illustrated, there’s a great article on Auburn quarterback, Cam Newton — your next Heisman Trophy winner.  The article:  Catch Cam If You Can (You Can’t).

This is the most interesting paragraph in the article, which explains that Newton’s first choice was Mississippi State — though he gave his father final say in the decision:

Last December the choice of which college to attend came down to two schools—Auburn and Mississippi State. Newton preferred Starkville because of his close relationship with Bulldogs coach Dan Mullen, who had been Newton’s offensive coordinator at Florida. But Cecil thought his son should choose Auburn, which had an experienced offensive line (four starters were returning) and was only a two-hour drive from Atlanta. Newton let his father make the final decision, and a few days before Christmas, while sitting at the dinner table in his brother’s house in Jacksonville, Cecil Sr. uttered two words that would radically alter the college football landscape: “It’s Auburn.”

Thanks, Cecil.  And tough luck, Bulldogs.  Maybe next time.

Oh, and in addition to being obedient to his father, Cameron Newton gives back to his community… despite his incredibly busy schedule and high profile.  Here’s a great article on Newton’s involvement with a local elementary school:  Newton Giving Back.

Newton for Heisman. And coaches, have you considered breath mints?


Filed under sports

healings on the sabbath and attendance on sundays

I remember several years ago discussing the idea of incarnational ministry with a group of students.  We were talking about how a church might better serve and share God’s love with a large group of Mexicans who played soccer nearby every Sunday.  Entire families were making a day out of their soccer league play; there were children running around, women sitting and talking on blankets, and picnic lunches everywhere.  An entire community was coming together each and every Sunday.  After a dozen or so conventional ideas about inviting them to our “worship services” by posting signs or cooking a meal for them, we determined that all of these ideas would force these good folks to leave their group in order to become a part of ours.  One individual suggested we play soccer with them.  But someone else interjected that we could not ourselves miss “church” in order to do so.

Allow me to take a few (or many) liberties with Luke 14:1-6:

One Sunday, when Jesus was on his way to worship in a large church building with a well-known and respected community of believers, he was being carefully watched.  On the way he happened upon a group of Mexicans playing soccer.  Jesus asked the pastor and Sunday School teachers, “Am I allowed to be late to church — or even miss it altogether — to bring healing to this group of people?”  But the religious leaders remained silent while checking their watches, cell phones, and day planners.  So Jesus put on his cleats and kicked the ball around for a bit, as he shared the good news of the kingdom with his fellow footballers.

Then Jesus asked the preachers and pastors, “If one of you has a son in jail* or a friend who is sick on a Sunday at 10:00 am, will you not go pay his bail or take her to the hospital?”  And they had nothing to say.

Just some thoughts.  Yours?

* I know, I know… a pastor’s son would never go to jail — other than to witness to the criminals who are present there.


Filed under modern-day retelling, sunday gatherings