My first love was the sport of football.
I grew up idolizing Deon Sanders, Warrick Dunn, Derrick Brooks, and Coach Bobby Bowden. I got to meet Coach Bowden as a 12-year-old boy in Orlando at the Southern Baptist Convention in front of 40,000 people. My father was able to arrange this special time for me and I’ll never forget Coach Bowden’s words to me. Crying my eyes out in awe, I said “Coach Bowden you are my hero and I would like to play for you.” He said, “keep your grades up” and then he said in his southern twang, “Boy, why are you crying?” Coach Bowden then said something I have never forgotten: “Boy, what your daddy does is a lot more important than what I do.” I got to meet with Coach Bowden two more times, and my children got to meet him the year before he retired, when he spoke at Abba’s House.
Football teaches you many life lessons, and very few make it past the high school level. I have been running a football league and have coached youth football for the last 9 years. I have had the privilege to coach my boys, win some championships, coach some outstanding players, and share my faith with many people. There is no other sport that compares to football, in my opinion. It is a sport of sacrifice and leadership for the purpose of teamwork.
All three of my boys play football. They are all pretty tough, but my youngest son Ryce (6) plays flag football because he was born with some heart issues, and we are holding him out of contact as long as we can. Last night, he scored a touchdown in his game. He has scored many because flag football offers that opportunity to many kids, but I haven’t seen him play much because I am busy coaching my middle son Reid’s (9) football team, as well as running our local football league. Before Ryce went to bed last night he said, “Did you see my touchdown, Daddy?” I paused and went back to my childhood, and remembered how I cherished the times my dad would get to see me play. My dad didn’t get to coach me or come to practices like many of these over zealous parents do today, but occasionally he would sneak in and be watching (or yelling) from a safe distance. My friends would always say that I played better when he was watching, and they were right. All my boys have asked me questions like that one. I responded to Ryce’s question last night by saying, “Yeah buddy, I did. You did great!”
I was reminded of the fact that our Father in heaven is always watching our faithful deeds. He sees what we do for Him, both in private and in the public arena (Matthew 6:4), and rewards us for our faithfulness. Christians are the children of God (Galatians 3:25-27), and we all long for our Father’s approval and affirmation. Thank God we don’t have to earn His approval. He loves us, affirms us, approves of us, and is looking on with love in His heart when we serve Him. Sometimes, like Ryce, we wonder if He is watching. I’m here to tell you that He is watching, and He is proud of those who serve Him.
I now do what Coach Bowden said was the thing more important than football. I do what my father taught me. I preach the word of God and tell people about Jesus Christ. I believe my dad is the greatest expository preacher of the gospel still left on Planet Earth, and I have studied many great preachers and theologians. Although I am grown and have a teenager, I still light up when I get a text from my dad after I preach. It is not his style to compliment me directly although he does sometimes. I got a text a few weeks ago from him after I finished preaching on a Wednesday night. He was watching and I didn’t know it. He simply texted, “Masterpiece, son. Excellent!” I guess you never grow out of how that makes you feel.
For those of you who have never experienced the love of a father, you can through Jesus Christ by faith.
God’s love is free (John 3:16). His grace is free (Ephesians 2:8-9).
His approval, however, comes through faith. Abraham had to hold onto the promise of God by faith. He had to be patient with God and eventually offered this promise (Isaac) to God as a sacrifice by faith. Abraham was not perfect, but he was a man of faith that was approved by God. If you need approval from God, accept Him by FAITH, love Him by FAITH, and believe His promises by FAITH.
Ryce needed my approval. We ALL need God's approval. Does the Father see what good you do? You bet He does!
I recently watched the movie Woodlawn about how a city was transformed by the faith of a young Chaplain (Hank Erwin), Christian quarterback (Jeff Rutledge), and a dynamic running back (Tony Nathan). Two high schools were transformed by FAITH, two destiny’s were changed by FAITH, and a city was transformed by FAITH. Racism can end by FAITH. Our nation will be great again by FAITH. You can be saved by FAITH! I encourage you to go see Woodlawn and pray for Unity in our Nation. There truly is only One Way!