Trust in the Lord

Isaiah 26:1–4 (ESV)

26 In that day this song will be sung in the land of Judah: “We have a strong city; he sets up salvation as walls and bulwarks. Open the gates, that the righteous nation that keeps faith may enter in. 3You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you. Trust in the Lord forever, for the Lord God is an everlasting rock.

We so often look for happiness and comfort in all the wrong places or at least in all the wrong starting places. Isaiah here is speaking to the people who were facing a daunting enemy yet God’s prophet calls them not to trust in their own strength and ability or the strength and ability of others to rescue them.  He simply says trust in the Lord God who is an everlasting rock.  God is the solid foundation and never shifting being who will never let his people down.  Life is full of things that bring us anything but peace and happiness.  Though we may not be facing large armies who are bearing down on our gates, we no doubt have struggles that we are in the midst of battling or that we can see on the horizon of life.  God was speaking to a very specific issue in the book of Isaiah and we can learn a lot about God as we look at how he dealt with his people of the Old Testament.  God simply called his people to trust in him.

In the midst of trouble, one of the hardest things to do is trust.  When we are struck with sickness it can be difficult to trust.  When we are dealing with broken relationships in our lives it can be very difficult to trust.  When we are feeling exhausted and burnt out from life trusting can seem like an insurmountable hurdle.  Yet the call is to trust as God has promised never to leave you nor forsake you even when that trust seems very weak and feeble.  He calls us by his gospel and again and renews our faith in the promises that are found in our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  By God’s grace in Jesus, he will give you all you need even the trust and faith that clings to God’s promises Isaiah 40:29–31 (ESV) 29 He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might he increases strength. 30 Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall exhausted; 31 but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.

If your trust/faith in God is weak today I invite you to pray a prayer that I say on a regular basis.  The words are found in the Gospel of Mark.  Mark 9:23–25 (ESV) 23 And Jesus said to him, “ ‘If you can’! All things are possible for one who believes.” 24 Immediately the father of the child cried out and said, “I believe; help my unbelief!” 25 And when Jesus saw that a crowd came running together, he rebuked the unclean spirit, saying to it, “You mute and deaf spirit, I command you, come out of him and never enter him again.” It is because of God’s strength that we have faith and trust in him.  Let us look to Jesus the author and perfector of our faith. When we fix our eyes on Jesus we will find true peace and happiness.

 

 

“God cannot give us a happiness and peace apart from Himself, because it is not there. There is no such thing.” C.S. Lewis

Sports Won’t Save Your Child (or you)

Here comes a statement that will get many people fired up: Sports won’t save your children.  I can already hear the comebacks.  “Do you know how much kids learn from sports?” “Do you know how much less trouble kids get into when they play sports?”  “Without sports, I would not be the person I am today?”  Take a deep breath and keep reading for a second before you blow a gasket defending your golden calf.  If you know me, you know that I enjoy sports.  I still play sports. I help coach sports.  Yet none of that reality changes my original statement that sports will not save your children and to be clear sports won’t save you either.

To any parents who are reading this I would like you to answer a question for me.  What do you want for your children’s future?  What is it that you hope that they have in the future?  In answering this question you will begin to understand some of your own views on what is important in life.  Do you want your child to be successful? If so, what does success look like?  Do you want your child to have a good job?  Do you want your child to marry a nice spouse and have a nice family with 1 and a half kids?  Do you want your child to be an upstanding citizen or at least not end up in jail?  If these are the things that you want for your child it may be true that participating in sports as kids and into high school may perhaps help them develop a work ethic that could get them some of the things that were listed above.  Sports may help them make friends. Sports may keep them out of trouble although I believe this to be a bit of a myth as being a successful athlete even at the high school level may actually provide more access to trouble. What our culture has taught kids about good athletes is that they should be worshiped and the rules don’t apply to them so sports may keep them from experiencing consequences, but is that really a good thing?

The original statement still stands: Sports won’t save your children!  If your response is well it will teach them how to be a good person perhaps we have struck at the real issue.  Is your hope for your child that they are simply a good person with ok morals according to the current culture that they are a part of?  If that is the goal sports may help with that, but as a pastor, I must say that goal misses the mark for what any Christian parent should be hoping for.

As a father, I can tell you what I pray for on a regular basis for my kids and that is that they have a living and active faith in their Lord and Savior Jesus Christ all the days of their lives.  As a former minor league baseball player with a son, I honestly don’t care if he plays one inning of baseball in his life.  I don’t care if he ever picks up a baseball, basketball, football, or any other type of ball.  I have seen positives that come out of people participating in athletics, but to be honest, I have seen more bad than good.  I have seen people navigate the sports fields and courts all the while keeping their eyes fixed on what they should be on, their Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  I don’t see that as a normal thing. I see it as the exception to the rule, and even that exception to the rule often times ends up being some strange intermingling of athletics and God.

Sports have become a golden calf of American society.  Sports are where so many look to for joy in their lives.  Sports are where parents look to for their children to be provided for in many ways ranging from life lessons to a college scholarship.  People have more allegiance to a sports team than they do to a church.  Where we have come to is truly sad and as I write this I am truly concerned about this reality.

The truth of the matter is sports will not save your children only Jesus can.  As parents, we need to be as concerned with getting ourselves along with our kids to church to hear God’s word as we are with getting our kids to practice.  Would you be more embarrassed to miss a game or church? Are you more worried about how your favorite NFL team is doing or about receiving the body and blood of Christ for the forgiveness of your sins? If these words make you mad the question is why?  When our idols are attacked we tend to get very defensive.  Luke 16:13 (ESV) 13 No servant can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.” Just cross out money and put in sports. A master is a master whether it is green and flat or white and round.  Let us repent and turn again to the only place that we have hope, Jesus!

There have been times in my own life where my view of sports was not healthy, but I am truly grateful that my perspective was changed by the wonderful good news of my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  Jesus has died and rose from the dead for you and your children! My hope is simply Jesus’s hope that you and your kids would trust in him. 1 Timothy 2:3–6 (ESV) This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all, which is the testimony given at the proper time.

Sports can’t save your child (or you) only Jesus can! Where will our focus be?