Lessons through winning and losing

By Scott

Last week my son had two basketball games. In the first, his team won pretty easily. It was a party as his guys went up big and cruised. The second game also featured a big win … by the other team. We couldn’t dribble, play defense, or get a shot to fall. Everything that was in our favor just a few nights earlier had tilted. The other team was better prepared and we couldn’t handle it.

I talked to him about it afterwards. He’s still kind of early in this whole sports thing, so all he knew about the loss was it didn’t feel good. He didn’t like it. He wanted to make sure he experienced it as few times as possible.

Obviously, I’m happy with that attitude. We shouldn’t like losing and need to work to avoid it. But, losing gives us opportunities winning doesn’t. It reveals our weaknesses. It gives us the chance to see how we respond and get better. Really, it can teach us more about ourselves than winning does.

Of course, losses occur in more areas of life than sports and often with much bigger consequences. It can happen through a medical diagnosis, meeting with your boss, or conversation with your spouse. Losses happen. In fact, they can often feel more common than winning.

Those are the events I’m wanting my son to be ready for. Games like he had the other night will help get him there.

I’m a lifelong Atlanta Braves fan, so I’ve had a lot of experience in losing. But, I’m also a lifelong University of Alabama football fan. I get views from both sides of the fence. The expectation of something going wrong, because God obviously has it out for your team, isn’t new to me. Neither is the icy (jealous) stares from other football fans when you wear your 2015 National Champions hat with your 2012 National Champions sweatshirt over your 2011 National Champions t-shirt.

Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it.  1 Corinthians 9:24

Running the race is important. In fact, we enter one every day and have no choice to participate. Check that, we do have a choice but often feel the correct one is to sit it out. Don’t try to get better and work at those areas where we need help whether it be time management, money, fitness, or making quality time and memories with those who mean the most to us.

In his letter to the Corinthians, Paul laid out the math.In the race there are a lot of participants but only one gets the prize. The next sentence isn’t “So run if you feel like it, because really the odds aren’t with you.” Despite the odds, we’re to run like we can win.

Paul’s point in using the athletic metaphor is to emphasis a single-mindedness for living out the gospel. In whatever we do, if we identify as a Christian it reflects back. We’re called to a higher standard and beyond that know our efforts aren’t for a perishable award, but one of much greater value.

Following that second game my son had a choice. Accept the loss, or learn from it and get better. He’s kept me busy in the driveway working on shooting, passing, and dribbling exercises. He’s the smallest kid on his team, and so we’ve focused a lot on defense. As a result he’s become known as a pest by the other team, stabbing away the ball with his arm, hand, leg, whatever it takes.

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Getting a congratulatory rub on the head from a teammate after making a basket

That kind of effort, I tell him, doesn’t get the attention of scoring points, but it can mean everything for your team needing a turnover or a spark on offense. Even if you don’t win, always play like you can.

Last night they played again. This time, the hustle and effort were there. Shots were falling. On defense he was knocking the ball away, covering his guy, and basically being a pest when the other team had the ball. On offense he knocked down a couple of shots.

It was fun way to learn.

Join us Jan. 8 for the 2016 kickoff

BBQ sandwichWanting to get a jump on establishing a stronger walk with God in 2016 while eating great barbecue and hanging out with friends? Meet us Friday, Jan. 8 at 6 p.m. in the Cartersville First Baptist Church worship center for our annual kickoff. Our guest speaker will be Crawford Loritts, senior pastor of Fellowship Bible Church in Roswell who was featured in the Stepping Up series. Scott’s BBQ is catering the event, which is being held at no charge.

Understanding the other 10 nations in the U.S. and our neighbors

11 nations

Collin Woodard and Tufts/Brian Stauffer

Have you ever read through the travels of Paul, Peter, and the other early missionaries in the New Testament and thought about the job they had in spreading the gospel? Their religion was a new one, deemed to be one of rebellion because of its followers’ apparent inability to go along with worshiping the Roman emporer or at the local synagogue. Yes, they gave unto Ceasar’s what was Ceasar’s, but their devotion was to someone/somewhere else.

Paul, observing a lack of cohesion among the Church, also put it into perspective with his analogy of body parts working together. Each part has its own advantages, but also depends on the others.

We’re one country, but anyone can see we have sections where people believe and see things differently from others. The book American Nations: A History of Eleven Rival Regional Cultures in North America explores the 11 cultures within our country and how they’re linked.

Of course, those in each region are spoken of in generalities and there are always exceptions, but for the most part the initial descriptions in this Business Insider piece are spot-on. In addition to pointing out the differences, the article also notes how the strength of two particular “nations” – Yankeedom and the Deep South – dominate the country’s politics. Also, our tendency to want to live among those who are like us is leading to a more divided country even in a time when we’re becoming more diverse.

And divisions happen in a much smaller area than a nation. In our state there’s the mountains up north, the metro Atlanta area, middle Georgia, and below the gnat line. Each brings a mental picture to anyone who’s lived here any amount of time. Division lines go further to a county, city, even a church.

We can always find the differences in others. The difference between the Church and the rest of the world is we know this, acknowledge it, and even celebrate that “every tribe and tongue” is part of it.

Guess what? Time really is speeding up for you

freeimages.com

freeimages.com

Really soon, if you haven’t already, you’re going to have a moment when you wonder just what happened to the time. It may be with the first day of school as you see your kindergartener/sixth grader/high school freshman head off for another year. It may be when you need an extra day to get over muscle soreness from that pickup game. It may be when you realize you’ve lived in your current city longer than your hometown.

Studies have shown that, comparitively speaking, time does indeed speed up as we get older. This is called the proportional theory and basically says our length of time alive determines our sense of time’s passage. For a child that gap between Thanksgiving and Christmas is the same as between Olympics for the rest of us. That’s not just because of the allure of presents, but because that child hasn’t been alive for that long. It appears the only exception to this may be summer vacation, which speeds along for kids but at times – particularly the final weeks – stretches out for parents needing a quiet house mid-day.

A clearer distinction can be found between, say, a 50-year-old versus a 10-year-old. A year goes by quickly for the older person with many other years to lump it in. The very small sample of a decade for the child makes each year a pretty big deal, especially when he can’t remember the ones from infancy or toddlerhood. As one gets older and you start using phrases like “10 years ago,” “20 years ago,” and “30 years ago” more regularly, the collective passage of time gets faster and faster.

Writing to the Church in Ephesus, Paul gave a list of ways to “be imitators of God” begining in chapter 5. Further down, in verse 15, he makes a note to “Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise, but as wise, making the best use of the time …” Our approach to dealing with a quickening of time may be to take more photos. There’s that, but we also need to be very attentive to where we are and what we’re doing.

Have you been guilty of looking forward to the weekend? Next Friday? The first weekend in September? We all have. There’s nothing wrong with anticipation, but don’t let it happen at the expense of the present. For today is the day the Lord has made …

Where British Open winner Zach Johnson puts his legacy

Zach Johnson British Open interview screen grab

Okay, you just won The British Open, your second major victory. You’re one of of golf’s brightest young stars. You have a platform. With that, here’s what Zach Johnson said earlier this week.

If you don’t like him already, Johnson is also smart enough to live with his family in St. Simons on the beautiful Georgia coast. Here, he puts out something we can all be reminded from time to time.

God has given each of us skills. We have the option of using those skills to bring glory to ourselves or to Him. The decision we make says a lot about us. Also, Johnson notes how he loves what he does. There’s an additional benefit to work when you enjoy it; you keep working at it and want to get better. Increase your skills, increase your platform.

How to defeat pornography in your life

Thanks to our friend Michael Tanner for the following post. 

Statistics make it clear men of today struggle with pornography. Given the availability, aggressive marketing, and the visual nature of men, it is no wonder that we struggle. However, we cannot allow these to be excuses to accept the status quo.

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Defeating the temptation, and even addiction, of pornography requires first a recognition it is a problem. A failure to acknowledge the destructive aspects of pornography may be a culprit in its prevalence. The negative impacts of pornography is a subject for another article.

This article assumes you understand the need to rid your life of pornography. This article presents the Bible as the source of power needed to defeat pornography. However, the point of this article is to provide men with practical steps, not theoretical doctrine that requires special spiritual discernment.

More …

Perhaps what we need …

STEFAN KUNZE/unsplash.com

STEFAN KUNZE/unsplash.com

Sometimes, you want to get rid of the noise around you.

Sometimes, it becomes a tad much.

But, the noise is going to be there. It will remain. You can take breaks, but not escape it entirely. In fact, you shouldn’t. Because without your voice, your position and sense of right and wrong, there’s no counterbalance to the other side. No opposition.

This noise can be fought with words, sure, and it will be. It can also be fought with being the man God called you to be. Loving your wife in a way that puts your own self-worth second and modeling strength of mind and spirit for your children. Do justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with God. It’s going to involve carving out time along with the Lord. Just you and the Creator.

Indications are that doing these things will make you seem weird – dangerous, even – in the eyes of others. So be it. We’re not citizens of this world. We belong to another.

As tough as challenging times can be, we need them. They make us take stock in our convictions and how we communicate them through action. It’s not enough to do so merely through words or in being a hollow presence in a chair on Sunday mornings, our minds somewhere else.

Today, engage the battle. Take steps to join the field, and welcome the noise.

Introducing Daniel George

D_George_blurFaith and being in the ministry are something of a family culture for Daniel George, as he is a descendant of Syrian Jacobite Christians. Those ancestors trace back to Kerala in southern India, a region that first received the gospel by way of the disciple Thomas. Daniel’s story follows his family’s move to northern India in Chandigarh, Punjab, a city of 1.3 million people inhabited mostly by Sikhs and Hindus with around 1% of the city claiming the Christian faith.

From there Daniel’s own journey would take him to Fort Worth, Texas and eventually to Cartersville, where he’s currently serving First Baptist Church as pastoral intern. Having struck up a friendship with CFBC pastor Jeremy Morton at Southwestern Seminary in Fort Worth – where Jeremy was working on the dissertation for his Doctorate degree – Daniel wanted some first-hand observation in how American churches work.

Before that, though, Daniel had his life mapped out differently and it sure didn’t include ministry. He’d seen how his father had struggled with money and the uncertainty of being a worship leader, pastor, church planter, and evangelist. Daniel decided it wasn’t for him.

Change of plans

“My father, Wilson George, has written more than 350 Hindi Christian songs,” said Daniel of his family’s faith heritage. “I was baptized at 13 years old and mentored by my parents and grandparents. When I wasn’t in school, I’d travel with my dad wherever his ministry took him.”

With plans of a career in Information Technology, Daniel earned a degree Commerce and Computer Science and then jobs with IBM and Dell International in tech support. He was on his way.

Then, Daniel accompanied his parents on an evangelism trip to provide piano music (he also plays guitar and drums) for worship services. One night his mother stood up in front of the crowd to tell a story even Daniel had never heard.
When she was pregnant with Daniel, Sheila George told the group, the doctors told her at the second-month appointment the baby inside wasn’t growing. He would be born deformed. An abortion was the best option for all, another doctor said. The advice was repeated at the six-month appointment.

From that point, Daniel’s father began to fast and pray from midnight-3 a.m. beside his wife as she lay in bed. Times were hard financially, as Sheila had lost her professor position at the nearby university.

“They didn’t have much money for food, so dad would pray over glasses of water for my mom for the nutrients to be placed in it,” Daniel said. “When I was born I weighed 7.2 pounds, more than my older brother at his birth.

“Right after that trip and hearing that story I went to my supervisor at work and resigned. I had a good job and future, but felt called to something else.”

The groundwork for Daniel and his sister, Shirin, to come to America began with a friendship between their mother and Dorothy Patterson, wife of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary President Paige Patterson. Dorothy Patterson and Sheela George worked together at women’s conferences, the latter serving as a translator who needed to be proficient in not only English but Texan. Due to their parents’ ministry in India, Daniel and Shirin were awarded full Presidential scholarships to Southwestern.

In July 2010, Daniel was off to America. In July 2014 he was preparing to finish up his Master of Divinity degree that December when he met Jeremy in Southwestern’s computer center. The two struck up a friendship and began discussing the possibility of Daniel becoming a pastoral intern at CFBC. Such agreements aren’t unusual, as international students can extend their visas post-graduation for a year to intern in their field.

Daniel’s goal is to take what he’s learned and plant churches back in India, but also to build and operate a children’s home in India with Shirin, who earned a Master of Christian Education degree at Southwestern with a focus in biblical counseling. The need for it came from an example of self-sacrifice Daniel saw through his parents.

“In my home city there was a children’s home, but it was shut down when it was discovered the host parents were abusing the kids,” he explains. “My parents took in ten children to live with us.”

Mind you, this was a three-bedroom, 500-square-foot home with six people already living in it. Daniel, 22 at the time, remembers the landlord being furious but his father pleading for the sake of the children.

“The neighbors were mad as well. These children were the lowest on the caste system and they weren’t wanted around,” he says. “My father felt they needed a place to stay.”

It’s those examples that have led Daniel’s story to go from India to Texas to Cartersville and soon back home, to familiar surroundings with a renewed focus. Continue reading

Captain America gives us a reminder on principles when everyone says you’re wrong

When Marvel started putting out movies of different Avengers several years ago, setting up their big get-together in 2012, the one I was most excited about was probably the weakest individual movie. It didn’t mind, even if they’re stinkers I can be very forgiving of a movie if I’m a big enough fan of the franchise (see: Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull).

For my first sleepover ever when I was a kid, my mom bought me a Captain America sleeping bag and he’s been my guy ever since. I liked the shield, the motorcycle, and the red, white, and blue uniform. He fought a guy whose head was a bare, red skull. So, when Captain America: The First Avenger came out I was locked in.

It may seem weird to choose Cap as your favorite when you have Thor’s lightning hammer, Iron Man’s suit, and Hulk’s … well, hulkishness, as options. But one characteristic about him that keeps coming up is the way he sticks to his principles. This was hinted at in Age of Ultron, when the group is gathered around a table seeing if they can pick up Thor’s hammer (the one that only those pure at heart or something like that are worthy to weld). Hulk had already tried in the first Avengers movie and couldn’t. In Ultron Iron Man, then Iron Man and War Machine, give it a try but nothing happens. When Cap gives it a go, there’s a moment where Thor gets a little concerned.

Like Cap, I sometimes feel like a throwback in today’s world. My beliefs and principles don’t seem to mesh with the culture, and come across as really weird. I’m a grown man and so don’t read comic books, but came across this exchange between Spiderman (another favorite of mine) and Cap on the site of blogger Marty Duren. Side note: Marty was a pastor in Buford, Ga., before joining LifeWay Christian Resources a few years ago. He writes regularly about Christianity and culture and puts out good stuff.

Although the conversation below is specifically about government, it can be taken to reflect any situation where we’re being told we’re wrong and our principles are out of whack. It’s a good reminder that you’re never truly standing alone when you’re standing for what you believe in.

Graphics from Imgur

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