Friday, December 23, 2011

How's Your Reception?

My father recently purchased one of the new iPhone 4 smartphones hoping to now have a superior communication device. However, he has grown increasingly frustrated with the poor reception and number of dropped calls he has experienced since using the new iPhone 4. While he and my mother share the same service provider my mother’s phone, albeit just a regular non-smart phone, gets significantly better reception than my dad’s iPhone 4. After taking the iPhone 4 up to the storefront where my dad purchased the mobile device a sales representative informed him that the thin metal band which wraps around the iPhone 4 is responsible for the poor reception. He then added that Steve Jobs knew about this problem before releasing the device, but liked the way the metal band astatically looked on the iPhone 4 so he insisted on keeping it. After doing some simple online research of my own and even watching a demonstration on YouTube I discovered that if a user’s fingers touch the metal band wrapped around the iPhone 4 the bars representing the signal strength can drop from 5 down to 1. Apple has realized this mistake and plans to make a change in the new iPhone coming out later in the spring.

This scenario reminded me of times in my life that I have allowed sin or other things to interfere in my communication with God. Instead of removing those things from my life that I knew were not good for my walk with the Lord I insisted upon them because I either liked the way they looked or felt. I placed my will, what I wanted, above God’s will, which is what was best for me. I allowed my own desires to come between me and my relationship with Jesus Christ. To get right down to it I knowingly chose to limit my “reception” with Jesus because I wanted my own will over His. Ultimately, this has and will continue to cause me a lot of frustration in life, just like the thin metal band has caused frustration for so many iPhone 4 users. If I want my “reception” and communication with God to increase I have to make the conscious decision to do what is best by removing those things that I know are causing interference, confess my sin(s), and ask Jesus to forgive me. Doing so will not only restore my "reception" and enable me to avoid a lot of frustration, but will help me achieve God’s will and plan for my life.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Since When Did Anything Else Matter Except For The W?

Tim Tebow has faced a lot of adversity over the years as an athlete and a Christian. I can remember watching the ESPN “Faces in Sports” documentary on Tim when he was in high school titled “Tim Tebow: The Chosen One.” At the time he was being recruited by almost every major program in the country. Tim actually almost committed to The University of Alabama before deciding to play for Urban Meyer at Florida. He is an intense competitor and this season with the Broncos Tim has, on more than one occasion, brought his team back from behind to win. Come from behind victories are not new to Tim. During Tim’s senior year at the University of Florida I had an opportunity to attend a game with my dad at The Swamp in Gainesville. Florida was playing the University of Arkansas. From the start of the game it looked like Arkansas would win. They scored fast and had a good lead. The Gator fans that filled stands were almost completely silent then at the start of one particular possession Tim walked out on the field to lead his offense. As he did he turned to the crowd and waiving both arms in an upward fashion much like a choir conductor would to motion his choir to stand, the crowd jumped to their feet and cheered. The roar of the crowd was so incredible that it still gives me goose bumps today just thinking about it. On that possession Tim marched the offense down the field and scored. The momentum changed in Florida’s favor and after several more successful offensive possessions Florida came back and won the game.
The X's and O's were not as important as the team's chemistry, camaraderie, and mind-made-up determination in the Gator's win over Arkansas and behind it all was great leadership. Tim seems to have some intangible qualities and God given gifts which help him lead his teams to victory. There is something about Tim that is infectious to all those around him. When Tim is in the game his teammates believe they can win and play sold out every down knowing and believing that if they can stay in the game Tim will find a way to win.
Like many other sports football is a team effort, but there is no doubt Tim Tebow makes an impact wherever he goes. The impact Tim makes far exceeds the playing field though. Currently there is a pending bill in the Alabama State Legislature named “The Tim Tebow Bill.” This bill was presented to allow homeschooled children to play sports for local schools. For a few this bill is somewhat controversial, but controversy is also not new to Tim. After Tim’s final year as a college athlete the NCAA established a new rule dubbed the “The Tebow Rule” which banned players from writing messages on eye black intended to help shade the eyes from glare. This is a result of Tim writing scripture references on his eye black each game. Recently a new term has been coined, “Tebowing.” This term is used to reference to the action of kneeling on one knee to pray as Tebow does before and during each game. The term originated as more of a mockery than a praise, but admires have begun Tebowing as a fun way to show respect. I’m sure Tim will continue to have an impact on pop culture whether he wins or loses, but for now his team is winning.
As a starter for Denver Tim is 7-1. Pretty good, especially when you consider that prior to his draft many NFL scouts and analyst were predicting Tim would play as a tight end or in some type of slotback position because he didn’t have the technique “required” to play as a quarterback in the NFL. Tim didn’t like that idea. He told team owners and coaches that he wanted to play quarterback and that they were going to have to prove to him that he couldn’t play quarterback in the NFL before he would play any other position. So if a team wasn’t going to draft him as a quarterback they need not draft him at all. I really like that about Tim. He is one of the most determined individuals I’ve ever seen.
After a disappointing loss to Ole Miss in 2008, Tim made his famous promise and pledge speech to reporters on national TV which is now engraved on a plaque at the University of Florida. Tim kept that promise and led his team to a National Championship that season. That whole season Tim seemed to will his team to some hard fought victories. But after that season ended skeptics of Tim and even some of his fans didn’t think his iron will and fierce determination would be enough in the NFL. That attitude could be changing.
While Tim’s first start this season resulted in a win, critics argued that his throwing motion and technique were lacking and gave a pessimistic career outlook for him. Tim’s next start resulted in a very ugly loss and this time no commentator held back on their negative comments or criticism of Tim’s style. I remember watching a sports show and listening to what sounded like the demise of Tebow’s career as a quarterback.
The following week Tebow got another win and sports analyst said, “Yeah, but…” The next week another and the next week another. Soon Tebow was 4-1, with three victories in a row. Now people were starting to talk more positive. I even heard one analyst on ESPN stick up for Tim when his co-host counterpart dogged Tim’s throwing technique by saying, “Since when did anything else matter except for the W?” (“W” as in Win). Tebow’s technique may not be perfect or the “best,” but the last time I checked no points were added on the scoreboard for style.
“Since when did anything else matter except for the W?” That night as I went for a walk I thought more and more about that comment, particularly as it relates to life. We are not promised life is going to be easy. Even as a Christian I have found life extremely difficult to face at times. People can be mean and circumstances can be difficult. We will most likely get scratched and bruised along the way. Our technique may not look so good and life may get pretty ugly at times, but when we come to the end the only thing that matters is the “W.” John 16:33 quotes Jesus saying “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” Also quoting Jesus, John 15:18 says, “If the world hates you, keep in mind it hated me first.”
If you are experiencing a difficult time in life don’t give up. Don’t throw in the towel. Hang in there, work hard, and keep moving forward even as challenging as it may seem. Your life may look more like a come from behind victory than a triumphant blow out, but remember that God hasn’t asked us to be perfect just persistent. Stay focused, stay in the game, play every down sold out knowing that when you get to the end of life all that matters is the “W.”

Trust God With Your Money

I am grateful to have parents that modeled for me obedience in tithing. After my wife and I married in 2001 we discussed and agreed tha...