Feel Good Friday 10/17/2014

Melanie Bailey was in the middle of running a cross-country event in North Dakota when she came upon a competitor on the ground and sobbing in pain.  Others passed the girl and Bailey decided not to let that happen.  She helped to girl climb on her back and they finished the race together. You can find the story here.

As parents, we often get caught up in the competition of our children’s sports. We want them to win. We take them to practices and teach them the value of teamwork. Sports can have a vast upside and an ugly downside.  Bailey’s story is the true meaning of athletics.

In a similar vein, it was reported this afternoon that Chip Kelly visited New York Giants’ receiver Victor Cruz in Jefferson Hospital today before he was transferred up to a facility in New York.  With all the animosity surrounding the game, Kelly’s move is classy and almost unheard of in professional sports. He was quoted as saying “culture wins championships”. If his team follows his example, they’ll be well on their way.

6501

“Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. 25 Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever.” 1 Corinthians 9: 24-26

Soundtrack Inspiration:

Faith, Fatherhood, and Football: The Perfect Storm

This post starts a series previewing chapters from my upcoming e-book devotional Ignition for men:

I love football.  If you ask Val, I probably love it too much. It is a sixteen game season, unlike baseball’s marathon year, so every game counts. There is a physical, cerebral, and emotional element. Two teams of warriors meet on the battlefield in prime condition.  We’ve embraced the sport as a culture, pushing the NFL to stunning financial heights.  Boys still play the game in schoolyards and wear the jersey’s of their heroes on the weekends. Father’s and sons make it a tradition through generations of season ticket holders.

My team is the Philadelphia Eagles and one of my favorite players to ever wear an Eagles’ uniform is Brian Dawkins.

Dawkins played safety for the Eagles.  He was under-sized for the position and, after developing under defensive coordinator Jim Johnson, became one of the best safeties to ever play the game.  He was intense and vibrant, often laying down hits to the opposition that could be felt in homes across the Philly area. He embodied what it meant to be from the city; to work hard, fight, and never give up.

He is also a man of faith.

Follow Dawkins on twitter or listen to any of his interviews.  His faith is front and center.  He speaks with the passion of a preacher, talking about the blessings God has provided in his life.  The NFL has a website dedicated to player engagement and it featured Dawkins in an article here. There is a wealth of valuable information in this short piece.

Talking about fatherhood, Dawkins says:

It’s a tremendous responsibility and honor to be a father. Not every man that has kids is a father to his children. I understand that and know that it’s a responsibility and a blessing as well. The Lord blessed me to have these little ones and raise them to worship him.  All these other accomplishments are great blessings, but at the end of the day if I’m not raising them in the omniscience of the Lord then I’m not doing what I’m supposed to do.

He’s right.  Not every man who has kids is a father.  It is a title we need to earn and we need to earn it daily. 

fatherson

He offers the following advice:

My advice would be to make sure that the foundation is laid in your faith. To walk the walk, don’t just be a church go’er or just attend bible study. Have a relationship with the Father. Don’t have religion have a relationship.  When you have this, it allows things to fall where they need to fall because now you’re being led by the Father in all that you do. Your footsteps are being ordered when you have your eyes set on him. That way he won’t allow you to stumble, and if you do stumble it will be something you will grow from because he has his hands on you. Secondly, don’t let somebody’s opinion of you define you.  If you allow that, then whatever bad thing that happens in your life, you will allow other people to have the pen in writing your story. I want you to look in the mirror and be able to say, Yes I made that mistake, but that’s not who I am. I’m going to continue to write this story with my FAITH!!

There are way too many things waiting to take control. As guys, the static in our lives can rise to deafening levels.  It can be the job, friends, money, addiction, sex, other people’s opinions, acceptance, even other family members.  We must know where we stand and what is our foundation.  We need a relationship, a real interaction with the Creator.

I don’t know about you, but I need my steps ordered.  I’ve tried grabbing control way too long.  The Father has bigger and better things planned for you and for me so, as we walk, we keep our eyes him.  Everything else will fall into place.

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” Hebrews 12: 1-2

Soundtrack Inspiration: (I’m challenging myself to expand my musical selections this week so, for the first post, here’s a classic)

 

 

 

The Importance of Fatherhood

This post in our marriage and family series is focused on the male half of the equation and inspired by the current message series at our home church.  You can find videos of the messages here.

The other night we were watching the Philadelphia Eagles preseason football game.  I cover the Eagles for the website Philly Sports Space. It is something I love to do as I’m a huge fan of the team and analyzing the game.  Carter was laying on the couch watching it with us as Aiden was already in bed.  The broadcast cut back from a commercial to show a group of Eagles’ cheerleaders dancing.  The image then cut to the players.

“Dad can you put them back on?”

The question came from the couch. Val and I looked at each other.

“What did you say?” I asked.

“The cheerleaders.  Can you put them back on the t.v.?” Carter asked.  Then he laughed.   I’m not ready for that conversation, not at six years old!

At church we are going through a short series on Marriage, Love, Sex, and Dating.  The message today, delivered by Pastor Scott Kramer, talked about some responsibilities of men in our marriages and relationships.  He mentioned how society does not help us in the fight to make women equals and not commodities. He talked about how the early church was revolutionary in seeing women as people and not slaves or items to be sold. Turn on the news, check your smart phone, it would not be long until you find an article from the sports, music, or entertainment world written to objectify women. And wow, men, do we eat it up.

Scott mentioned starving your eyes and how these images hurt our marriages and relationships.  They create unrealistic expectations of significant others. They sell the fantasy and, in times of struggle, fantasy can be very addictive.

15589

I just started reading Manhood by Terry Crews. Crews is an actor and a former NFL player and a man of faith. He’s the star of Old Spice commercials, over forty films, and hundreds of television episodes. He is married to his wife of twenty-five years and they have five children. He also battled a strong addiction to pornography that almost cost him his marriage. (check out his commercial below and you’ll be singing the song all week)

In the beginning of the book, he talks about growing up with parents who battled nightly and a father who was an alcoholic. He and his siblings were abused. They relied on each other to survive.  He mentions going to church and just wanting to be good enough for God, to avoid sin at all costs, to be a handler (as many children of alcoholics are) and make everyone happy. He realizes how this isn’t possible.

I love his honesty and his profession of grace.

As men we have important jobs. We stand in the gaze of our children.  Our sons and daughters learn from our examples. They see what it means to be a support for a family. If we want things to change, society to be different, women to be respected, the work force to even out, and the future to brighten, then it starts with us. Want to change poverty and stall crime? Be there as fathers.  Want to start chipping away at racism? Be there as fathers. Want to stop the violence? Be there as fathers. Engage. Support. Listen. Respect. Serve.

I don’t know about you but I want my boys to be the difference and live the change.

I want them to have hope, to reach out hands in support, respect and value women, hold doors, say please, say thank you, tip well, and pray with their own families. I want them to see Val and I as inspiration.  It is a big job but, with God, anything is possible.

~Matt