I want to congratulate our middle school and JV football team’s for winning last night. I want to thank the coaches, parents, and players for all the time effort and energy they put into becoming their best.
Tonight, the Varsity plays Pace Academy at home. Pace is the team who beat us last year and broke our 37-game win streak. It was a humbling loss but one that we needed in order to become a better football team and better coaches. We are excited for this game tonight.
“And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28
Now, before I get started, this verse is true. But true only for the one who loves God and does not place himself as a rival of God. Many churches today proclaim to love God but in reality, they love themselves and try and use God as a means to gain more of this world. This verse is true for those who have truly repented of their sins and surrendered their life to Christ. There is no room for glorification of self as a Christian. We are image bearers of the Almighty God and we are to live to bring him glory and honor. This is our purpose and this is where man will find joy and peace.
Now, if you have surrendered your life to Christ you are a child of God. God, through the Holy Spirit, dwells within you. God does not see our life as temporal here on this earth. He sees it as eternal. We can’t fathom this eternal perspective. We just understand here and now. We just understand the pain we are facing now. We just understand the trials we are facing now. God is eternal. He sees a picture we cannot see. And for those who love God and are called according to his purpose, He is working toward your greater good in this life and in the life to come. If you are going through a trial now, God is shaping you and molding you. Even if you are diagnosed with an illness that will lead to immediate death here on this earth, for those who are in Christ Jesus, you are about to be ushered into eternal glory. What seems as horrible, God means it for good:
And I heard a voice from heaven saying, “Write this: Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on.” “Blessed indeed,” says the Spirit, “that they may rest from their labors, for their deeds follow them!” Revelations 14:13
Our 2017 team was insanely good. That team only gave up 3 points in the play-offs and that is only because I was screwing around when we were up 41-0 in the state championship game and we threw a pick and they kicked a field goal. That was a very special group talent wise. We graduated 22 seniors which meant we had a lot of new starters in 2018. 10 guys off that team 2017 team signed to play college football and two of our best players didn’t sign anywhere (we lost 12 studs). In 2018, we had to replace a lot of great talent. Our returning offensive star was Justin Menard who is now at Central Florida. Our offense revolved around him in regard to formations and the lens through which I saw the offense. In the first game of the season he got hurt. At this point, Keaton Mitchell, Justin Robinson, Josh Rogers, Devon Dorsey, Shedrick Rhodes, Bryson Estes, those guys were all new starters and they had yet to emerge as the leaders on the offense. When Justin got hurt, I had to learn to utilize and maximize the talents of those guys.
When we played Pace in 2018, Coach Chris Slade, with whom I have a great relationship, came out and was playing a 3-5 cover 0 in a way I had never had to deal with before. I had played against Coach Slade many times and knew him to be a 4-3 guy and prepared accordingly. When he came out in that defense I didn’t have the answers. I did not know how to use my players and maximize their ability verse that defense. I might have known in my head what to do but I had not taught our players. It never matters what a coach knows, but what his players can do! We got beat 17-16 and I did not call a good game. In reality, any play I call should work, but there are strategic things that can be done to each defense and I was not doing those things.
After we got beat, I set down all weekend and evaluated the strengths of each player and how we could best maximize each players ability through plays and formations. We added new plays to allow Keaton to get to the perimeter because he can fly. We made our formations revolve around Justin Robinson and Devon Dorsey so at any time we could throw them the ball. We knew our offensive line could be really good, they just needed experience. The next week we rolled and didn’t look back.
Even in our losses and failures, God is working all things for our good. In life, losing is necessary to learn. In fact, if you allow it, your failures fuel your future success. Life gives us so many more challenges than a football game, but in my world football is the tool that God has given us to build young men. The message to the team after that devastating loss was simple: “Each man must take ownership of their mistakes and we must learn from them. If we all own our mistakes and resolve to grow from them and not make them again we will become a good football team.” The loss produced humility and growth. Both good things. God is always working for our good if we seek him and trust in him. God is always whispering in my ear: “Don’t blame anyone. Take ownership of your mistakes and grow from them.”
Fast forward from Pace game #2 to the state championship game #14. We found ourselves down 10-0. We had fumbled twice and were missing the mark on explosive plays offensively. But, with slight variations, the exact defense I had seen against Pace was being run against us in the state championship game. We go in at half time and I tell the boys that I have the answers because we saw this week #2. I know the right play calls to make but you guys have to execute it. This is how we can win but you guys have to execute it. I can’t do that for you. I had the answers in the last game and knew exactly what to do only because I did not have the answers and did not know what to do in game #2. The kids came out and executed and we scored a lot in the second half. I forget what the final score was but we won. The loss game #2 propelled us to find our identity offensively which led to being able to win the state championship.
On a micro level, if we will just take every situation and circumstance given to us in life and use it to learn and grow, we will be constantly moving towards better versions of ourselves. After a loss or failure, the common sinful tendency is to point the finger and blame. Many people quit and don’t push through the adversity of failure. The appropriate response to failure is to take ownership for your part in the failure or loss. Whether a win or a loss, every circumstance is an opportunity for growth. You are either growing or you are dying. If you find yourself whining, complaining, making excuses, blaming, you can be sure you are a person that is dying.
On a Macro level my story has nothing really to help that person who is battling a life-threatening illness or injury. But if we can see on a micro level how God is working this can produce a faith to know God is good on a much bigger macro level. I challenge you and encourage you to hold out hope in the One who has faced death and defeated death. As the fear of death may be overwhelming to you know that we serve a God who came and died and faced this same death we face on the cross. The same thing we have to endure (death) due to our sin, the perfect One came and paid the same price that he should not have had to pay but he did pay so that we could be saved from the second death due to us: Hell. I challenge you to rest in the blood of Jesus Christ, shed for us that our sins may be forgiven and that we may have eternal life in heaven.
Think about this: As Jesus was nailed to the cross, Satan, his legion of demons, and his followers here on this earth, they rejoiced in the death of Jesus. (*NOTE: A follower of Satan here on this earth does not know they are a slave to Satan.) They were victorious in killing the Son of God. But, they had no idea, what seemed to the world as a gigantic loss, became the biggest victory for all of those who love God and are called according to his purposes. What Satan and his followers could not understand is that in the death of the Son of God, all man’s sins would be wiped away and we would now have access to the Father in Heaven.
Can you envision this? At the point when Jesus looked up and said, “It is finished” and he breathed his last breath as a mortal human, all of Satan’s camp rejoiced. Christ’s followers in that moment were defeated. A horrible loss. They couldn’t see it even though Jesus tried to tell them what was about to happen. What seemed to be such a horrible loss was actually the greatest victory of all time. Jesus died on purpose. He died for us. When he died he took our punishment for sin. My sin, your sin, the sin that was going to put us in Hell, it was nailed to the cross. And then Satan’s biggest blow to date: Jesus rose from the grave on day 3. Jesus defeated death. And now, for those who believe in Jesus Christ and love him, there is no death. This death we will face on this earth due to the curse of sin, it will only usher us into eternal glory.
Yes, Christian have faith, God knows exactly what he is doing. He is Sovereign! No matter your trials or circumstances:
“We know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28
Fired up and ready to play tonight!!!
“The horse is made ready for the day of battle, but the victory belongs to the Lord.” Proverbs 21:31
Lord, may we play with great passion, focus, and intensity tonight. Give us a hard-working spirit. Give us great attitudes. Keep us safe and in your care. The Sovereign God of the Universe, Creator of all things, Savior of all things, we love you Lord. You are Good.
Wholly for Christ,