As a lifelong Minnesota Vikings fan, I have seen the other end of what took place on Sunday Night far to often and I will first say as a Minnesota sports fan it is nice to be on the other end.  I along with every other Vikings fan could not believe my eyes as Diggs caught the pass and ran it in for the touchdown.  I was waiting to see a flag on the play or a step out of bounds or being ruled down by contact in bounds and have the clock run out.  This time it was an amazing play that is being called the #MinneapolisMiracle.

I just wanted to share a couple of thoughts on things that I have witnessed over the last couple of days. The first thing that I want to talk about is the willingness of so many people to talk about God [or sadly probably god] and his relationship to sports.  The call by Paul Allen himself and the fact that it is being called a “miracle” shows exactly what I am referring to.  The word of God is found in the holy scriptures and I have yet to find anything about this game or any sporting event in the present day, so I am hard pressed to believe that God’s hand intervened in a game that has very little eternal significance and if I am wrong and he has divinely intervened he has not tould us in his word and therefore we cannot claim that he has intervened. I have also found it interesting the number of people who talk about praying for an outcome in a sporting event.  Some I believe say it in jest but I am not so sure about most people.  Here is the bigger concern I have and that is if you truly believe God hears your prayers which I do, I would hope that you pray for something a bit more significant than a football win.  By all means, enjoy the fun and celebration but let’s keep things in perspective.

Another observation I have made reference to in other places such as Heresy in the American Religion. The reality is that sports have become our religion and that is why I truly believe that it is so easy for us to apply langue of the divine on to our sporting events.  As a pastor, I pray for more people to come to faith by the power of the Holy Spirit through God’s Word and Holy Baptism on a regular basis. That is what the Church should be about because according to the Holy Scriptures that’s what God is concerned about.  1 Timothy 2:3-6 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.  Yet if we have a religion of sports it would make sense that we would pray for the end goal of sports and that is to win a game.  The descriptions I heard of what it was like in the stadium were only more stories that confirm to me that sports are one of our biggest religions in our country.  Descriptions of complete strangers who were hugging each other. People who knew nothing about one another except for one thing and that was that they both wanted the same football team to win the game.  Your view of the other had to do with what jersey they had on and had nothing to do with who they themselves were.  FYI you could have been high-fiving and hugging some horrible people.  If you are at all familiar with biblical Christian theology you should see some stark parallels with what I have just described.  Isaiah 61:10 I will greatly rejoice in the LORD; my soul shall exult in my God, for he has clothed me with the garments of salvation; he has covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decks himself like a priest with a beautiful headdress, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels. That robe of righteousness comes not from my self but from my savior Jesus Christ. Philippians 3:9 and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith.  Guess what here is a dirty little secret I don’t really like everyone that I deal with on a daily basis and that includes people in the Church yet my goal as a pastor and just simply as a Christian is to see them with the same jersey that I have on, the jersey of Jesus aka the robe of righteousness which was given to me in my baptism.  Romans 6:3-4 Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.  I rejoice with believers in Christ not because I like them or in some cases even know them that well, but because we have the same victory in the same savior through an actual miracle the #EasterMiracle.

It wasn’t all bad when it came to religion on this stage.  There where many interviews in which the players attempted to give glory to God and for that Christians can rejoice.  There were some that got into the whole divine intervention thing but I will leave those alone as I was there once as well in my own perspective and I pray that those young men mature in their understanding of the word of God.  I have to keep reminding myself that most of these guys are younger than me now as I am becoming an old man as you can tell by this grouchy old man post. The positive that I wanted to point out was Case Keenum’s ranking of events in his life.  Now I strongly disagree with how he said it but I will put the best construction on it and see God’s work in it.  He ranked the play the third biggest moment in his life.  The second biggest moment in his life was marrying his wife.  The first moment in his life was “giving his life to Jesus Christ.” Again aside from how he said it, this was a proper perspective on things.  As Christians, Jesus must always be at the top to place anything above him or even equal to him is idolatry of which he invites us to repent and again receive his forgiveness.

So as you go about your week and are excited about the game this coming Sunday against the Eagles, just keep things in perspective.  Enjoy life, have fun, find joy in some small things like the Minnesota Vikings finally falling into a big win, but don’t ever let those things take your focus off of the most important thing for you and that is what your Lord and Savior Jesus Christ has done for you in his life, death, and resurrection.

God Bless You! [and go Vikes]



Heresy in the American Religion

It has been a rough couple of weeks as people have gathered into sanctuaries of America over the past couple of weeks.  The story is that so many faithful worshipers have been gathering together only to see heresy spread through their preachers like wildfire.  If you know anything about religion you know that heresy is a big deal.  Now the people are not overly concerned about the morality of their preachers, but heresy is not acceptable.  They come to watch the preachers give them exactly what they want, yet now their heresy is ruining it all.  What is that heresy that I am referring to?  Is the Adoptionism or the idea that Jesus was not born divine and only later became God’s Son? Perhaps it is Arianism or the idea that there was a time when the Son of God was not in existence which is an attack on the divinity of Christ. Was it Modalism, Nestorianism, Eutychianism, Gnosticism and all of its forms? No, the sanctuaries that I am referring to are the big giant buildings (no not Joel’s church although plenty of heresy there) with screaming worshipers who have painted their faces to see there preachers preach with their wonderful ability to run fast, throw, catch, and tackle.  The worshipers are getting angry though because the heresy is afoot in those who are paid to preach.  They have rejected the god of the people. They have not given reverence to the god that is the United States Government and its greatest symbol the stars and stripes and the worshipers are pissed.

Anytime you want to cause an uproar start chopping down people’s sacred cows.  We have two sacred cows that have been brought out into the light.  We have the NFL and sports in general which is a giant idol in people’s lives.  We also have patriotism which can be a religion of its own.  Our idols are revealed when we believe that we cannot or are unwilling to go without something.  There are those who are so consumed by sports and in this case the NFL that they believe that they cannot live without them or they are at least unwilling to give them up or put them in their proper place. We have the country being elevated to an improper place in many people’s lives as well.  Can you imagine a time and place when America ceases to exist?  Nations have come and gone throughout the history of the world why would we believe that ours is any different?  Idols come in all shapes and sizes from our spouse and kids to our cars and money.  We as sinners can pervert all of God’s good gifts.  What idols are in your life?  Is it sports, a topic near and dear to my own heart?  Is it an unhealthy perspective on the country you live in? Is it something else?  Whatever it is, always know that Christ died for your idolatry as well as mine. He died for the idolatry of the people who disagree with as well. May God reveal to each of us those places in our lives where we have perverted His good gives and let us kneel before our God trusting in the grace of Jesus Christ.

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?

I Cannot Get Away From It!

I can’t get away from it! It is everywhere I look!  I click on Facebook and scroll through and there it is. I turn on the TV and there it is.  I listen to the radio and it waits for me there as well. All I seem to see, hear, and read about these days is politics.  Perhaps you love the political conversations, debates, and activity, but for me it becomes tiresome.  Recently we have seen both major parties have their conventions and nominate their representative to run for the president of the United States of America. Both conventions had moments of tension and upheaval yet things moved forward as they always seem to do.

For many, the election season though tiresome brings a hope for a new direction.  No matter your political leanings you have probably hoped that certain things were different and we often times want our political leaders to make the changes in our country that we believe are needed.  It should be noted though that no matter what party seems to be in control problems continue to persist, evil does not go away, poverty is not abolished, crime is still an issue, sin still persists in human nature, and the struggle continues on.  Political unrest has been an issue forever. Throughout time people have said, if we simply get the right person in charge our problems will go away.  Humanity is still looking and if you are seeking to elect that leader you will be disappointed.

Psalm 146:3–8 (ESV) Put not your trust in princes, in a son of man, in whom there is no salvation. When his breath departs, he returns to the earth; on that very day his plans perish. Blessed is he whose help is the God of Jacob, whose hope is in the Lord his God, 6who made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, who keeps faith forever; who executes justice for the oppressed, who gives food to the hungry. The Lord sets the prisoners free; the Lord opens the eyes of the blind. The Lord lifts up those who are bowed down; the Lord loves the righteous.

We do not place our trust in a son [or daughter] of man because they have no salvation, but rather we place our trust in the only one who has salvation for you, Jesus Christ.  The policies of a president are always temporary and the office of President of the United States is temporary as well.  My trust will be in the one and only eternal king, the crucified and risen Jesus Christ. With my trust placed in Christ I will vote.  I will be concerned about my country.  I will pray for my leaders just as I have been called to do [See 1 Timothy 2:1-2] but my hope is not for the next four years or eight years.  My hope is not for the next 50 years.  My trust is placed in Jesus Christ and that gives me hope for eternity because he overcame something that no one else has, death.  He has promised the same thing to me and to all who believe! Now that is better than any campaign promise I have heard!

What if our Bibles were burned?

If you have been paying attention to the news at all and you were able to sift through the endless political nonsense, you may have seen stories about ISIS burning Christian books and bibles.  The genocide that is taking place is horrific and we as Christians should speak out about it that our government would seek to do something, but that is not what this post is about.  [Continue to pray for our persecuted brothers and sisters in Christ] What would happen to American Christians if our bibles were burned?

My first thought is that there would be a FEW who were upset but all in all most people would not care out side the fact that a symbol of their religion was being destroyed.  That is right I would contend many people who confess that they are a Christian see the bible as simply a symbol of Christianity and not much more. Would you be upset if your bibles were gathered up and destroyed?  This question is not intended to be a litmus test of real Christians vs. fake Christians, but none the less would you be upset?  If you said yes I would ask you to answer why?  Is it that your personal autonomy was violated and someone else told you what you could or could not have, or is it that you actually value the word of God in a way that you need it? Would you be more upset if they took your Iphone instead of your bible? Would you be more upset if they took your favorite novel instead of your bible?

As I stated earlier I don’t know how many people would blink twice about not having a bible available to them. As a pastor who views the written word of God with high regard this concerns me.  It concerns me not in a way that I want to yell at people in anger and say “shame on you for not reading your bible.”  It concerns me because I am seeing less and less people with any type of biblical literacy [or literacy in general] which means they will have less and less of an understanding of the most important thing and that is who Jesus is and what He has done for them in his death and resurrection not to mention why it matters.  It concerns me because it allows for wolves to enter into the church and lead the sheep astray.  It saddens me when I see what is happening in the middle east and people are having their bibles taken from them yet we have more bibles than we know what to do with and don’t know what they actually say.

If you hear this as me yelling at you that is not my intention.  I hope you hear this as me pleading with you as a Christian to engage with God’s written word that you would have a better understanding of Christ and his teachings. I pray that we would delight in the instruction of our God which points us to our Savior Jesus Christ.

Psalm 1:1–6 (ESV)

Blessed is the man

who walks not in the counsel of the wicked,

nor stands in the way of sinners,

nor sits in the seat of scoffers;

but his delight is in the law [instruction] of the Lord,

and on his law [instruction] he meditates day and night.

He is like a tree

planted by streams of water

that yields its fruit in its season,

and its leaf does not wither.

In all that he does, he prospers.

The wicked are not so,

but are like chaff that the wind drives away.

Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment,

nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous;

for the Lord knows the way of the righteous,

but the way of the wicked will perish.