Posted in Scripture, Grace, life, Family, thankful, loving others, priorities, friends

“We Over Me”

Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves.” Philippians 2:3

Ok…let’s be honest.  I am not a huge fan of sports.  It all started on the playground when I was always, and I do mean always, the last kid picked.  I discovered I had zero kickball skills.  Later, about 4th grade, my Momma (and I guess Daddy) signed me up for little league baseball.  It was there and then I discovered that the problem wasn’t just kickball, it was anything to doing with a ball…or anything else that might be called a sport.  Fortunately, for me my junior high and high schools were massive so unlike some schools where if you didn’t play sports everyone noticed…for me I just blended in with the masses. There was the yearbook thing but who reads that anyway?

When my kids came along God was merciful and gave me three daughters…and while one cheered and one played a little basketball that was the extent of our involvement with sports.   If they had been boys and more sports minded, well, I’m not sure what I could have taught them. I do enjoy watching sports…especially college football.  I am a fan of Notre Dame which is kinda odd given the fact that I am a Baptist preacher, and they are a Catholic School.  But I love the tradition and I love it when they win which this year, well, they are struggling a little.

I wrote all of that to say this—today I went to my third baseball game in like five days.  There are a couple of reasons—the first one  is a no brainer—my oldest grandson is a sports player and he loves baseball.  He was playing so I made it a point to go.  The second one is similar but different.  Our Middle School team was finishing up their season and today they played their first playoff game.  Nine of these young players are tied to our church and I went as their pastor and friend.  Today they won 16 to 1.  That probably tells you something.

These young men have been playing together for years.  Starting in their elementary years through now they grew together—as friends—as a team.  A chunk of the team are eighth graders and frankly—this is their year.  So here is the impossibly incredible part.  As of today, they are 24 and 0.  That’s right, they have won twenty-four straight games and all you have to do is watch them to see that is not an accident.  It is a product of relationship, skills, and team mentality.  Let me tell you a little more.

When I got to the game today, I noticed that on the back of their jerseys it said, WE ME.  So, imagine in large letters the word WE and beneath that is a line and then under the line is the word ME.  Well, not being the sharpest tack in the pack, I asked someone what it meant.  They said, now wait for it, it’s gonna be good, “You know we is more important than me.  We comes before me.”  Well, let me just tell you that was a wow moment for me.  I don’t know who came up with that but they should get some kind of award.  WE over ME.  Love it.

Like I said there is a reason why these guys are where they are, but a piece of the puzzle is that team comes before the individual…you come before me.  It isn’t about one person…it is about every person.  Someone said that there is no “I” in “team” and that is so true.  Now, imagine if the “we before me” thing was applied to our part of our world.  Marriage? Family? Church? Job? Club? If your mind is whirling with the possibilities—you got it.

Paul, the one in the Bible, had a version of this too.  He wrote in Philippians 2:3, “Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves.” Boom…there you go.  We over me just works every time.  Of course, we Jesus people could also, should also say, “HE over ME” with Jesus being the “He.”  Yup that works too.

Well, I am very proud of our Middle School baseball team.  Way to go guys.  They have a few more playoff games coming but hey, I’m thinking State.  Regardless…they are all winners, and I am thankful for them and the men who coach and lead them. I’m not sure if God picks sides in sports but He might and He would say, “Don’t worry…I’ve got this.”  Bro. Dewayne

Posted in Family, forgiveness, Grace, life, loving others, priorities, Scripture, Southern born, wisdom

Gator Mania

One Lord,  one faith,  one baptism, one God  and Father of all, who is above all and through all and in all.” Ephesians 4:5-6

It was Gator mania.  To say that Aunt Maryjo was a Gator fan is to say that the Pope is Catholic. Through and through, she loved everything that was University of Florida Gators.  I am pretty sure if she had a blood transfusion the blood type would have to be UF.  I also am certain that if she was bilingual she would speak Southern English and Gator.  When she went to heaven about a week ago, the Gator’s lost their number one 94 year old cheerleader.

The family asked me to do a chunk of her memorial service and I was pleased to do so.  The service was all about Maryjo, the Gators and Jesus.  We stayed at a hotel in Gainesville and something almost immediately caught my eye.  Virtually everything, and I do mean everything, was Gatorized.  The primary decorating colors were blue and orange and Gator flags, Gator plaques, Gator pictures, and Gator knick knacks filled the main lobby and sitting area.  They even had a ping pong table and the net was not a net at all but a solid wall of sorts painted orange with a Gator carved in the middle.

Everyone knows you wear black to funerals and many folks did.  But there was also a large number of blue and orange ties, shirts, dresses, and scarves scattered throughout the crowd. I noticed though several members of my family were not wearing blue and orange.  I was kinda surprised.  So I asked one of my brother-in-laws, “Why aren’t you wearing blue and orange?” About the time I said it, I regretted it.  He boldly said, “I ain’t no Gator.”  Yup, there were several there who were Florida State fans and aunt or no aunt, they were not going to wear those stinking Gator colors.  Life…go figure.

As Judy and I were sitting in the hotel lobby visiting and drinking coffee and observing everything Gator, she said, “Isn’t it amazing what can happen when we are all pulling in the same direction?”  And do you know what?  She was absolutely right.  If I were to guess, probably 99% of the population around Gainesville were avid Gator fans.  The lived it, they believed it, and they were ready to fight for it.  They might be different social and economic classes, they might be different skin colors, they might even speak a different language, but one thing, one thing, pulled them together.  One thing managed to hold them together—they were fans of the Gators.  That singular thing overcame everything else.  Amazing.

I wonder what would happen if in a different world other than football if the same thing happened.  What if all the different denominations that say they believe in Jesus got together and pulled in the same direction?  What if all the churches in a town laid aside their insignificant differences and decided that they were going to pull together for the common cause of Jesus? I wonder how our community, or state could and would change, if we all decided to agree on what mattered—the Jesus essentials—and laid the rest aside long enough to live and share the Good News.  Why must we be like the football fans who attend rival schools and absolutely refuse to associate?  I wonder.

Well, there is one thing I can tell you for certain.  There is one who absolutely loves our division over the things that in ten years won’t matter and that is the devil.  Oh how he applauds our pettiness and while he is smiling, Jesus is grieving.  I know He grieves because the Bible says we are not to grieve Him.  If we are not careful, we are going to lose…and I’m not talking about a football game.  I am talking about our communities, our cities, our counties and our country.  I am not talking about losing a battle, I am talking about the war for the heart and soul of men, women, children—and the places they—we live.

Oh, I don’t know.  Maybe I’m overreacting.  Maybe somehow our holy huddles and frail fellowships can pull it off individually.  But that’s not how the Bible describes how our relationships should be.  There is one body and that is body of Christ.  I believe it says, “One faith, one Lord, and one baptism.”  One…there is real power when all the ones come together for the One and His soul (don’t worry…intentionally spelled that way) purpose.  Jesus came to seek and saved that which was lost and it was something that He was willing to die for.  What about you?  What about us? Can we, will we, don the colors of the cross—red for His blood, white for our forgiveness and blue for our loyalty, not to a pastor, a church, or a denomination, but to the One who matters—Jesus!

Well, I was raised not too far from Gainesville and my daddy and most of my family were Gator fans, but somehow I went rogue—I pull for Notre Dame.  Go figure—a Baptist pastor pulling for a Catholic team.  What’s up with that?  It’s simply really—I love tradition and I love college football and those two override the other.  I am hoping our common denominator—Jesus will do the same.  I am banking on the fact that we may lose a battle or two, but in the end—Jesus wins and I’m gonna rest in that.  After all, He’s got this.