Have you, perchance, been watching the FIFA Women’s World Cup? I fear that many of you would rather watch paint dry as watch a soccer match...even if it is the World Cup!
Well, as a citizen of the United States, we have a vested interest in the outcome of the World Cup. According to FIFA’s world rankings, the U.S. is ranked second in the world in women’s soccer.
On Monday night, the U.S. played Columbia in the “Round of 16” portion of the tournament for the chance to advance to the quarterfinals. Four minutes into the game, the U.S. scored a goal...except it did not count. The Assistant Referee’s flag was up signaling an off sides call.
Without getting into what “off sides” means in soccer, being a former soccer referee myself, I started to “constructively voice my displeasure” towards what I though was a bad, biased call in a stadium in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada!
Reflecting back, the U.S. player was in an off sides position (but not by much). The correct call was made, even though I was not happy about it.
Then it dawned on me that there was some bias in play...but not by the officials in the match (until the only two US players who had already received a yellow card in the tournament were each shown a yellow card, thus each is suspended for the quarterfinal game). I was biased! My team scored a goal and then someone said, “Sorry, no.”
But this is not just something I struggle with when watching soccer (or any other sport, for that matter). I struggle with it in every other aspect of life.
Unfortunately we sometimes take this same approach to the Bible. When we are engaged in an activity and the Bible points out that God disapproves of that activity, we try to explain it away. One popular way of doing this is saying: “That’s only for people in the first century!”
The Bible is intended for all people for all time. When we have a different “opinion” than the Bible, then we need to change. When we read or study the Bible we need to do so with a attitude free of preconceived ideas and biases.
Arguing with a referee will get you no where fast (I tried it as a player)...or at least no where you want to go. Arguing with God is exactly the same...it will get you no where you want to go: but for eternity!
I have seen this story several times, but thought I might share it with you and, perhaps, make a point that we may never have thought about.
A woman was at work when she received a phone call that her daughter was very sick with a fever.
She left her work and stopped by the pharmacy to get some medication for her daughter. Upon returning to her car she found that she had locked her keys in the car. She was in a hurry to get home to her sick daughter, she didn't know what to do, so she called her home and told the baby sitter what had happened and that she did not know what to do.
The baby sitter told her that her daughter was getting worse. She said, "You might find a coat hanger and use that to open the door".
The woman looked around and found an old rusty coat hanger that had been thrown down on the ground possibly by someone else who at some time or another had locked their keys in their car.
Then she looked at the hanger and said, "I don't know how to use this." So she bowed her head and asked God to send her some help.
Within five minutes an old rusty car pulled up, with a dirty, greasy, bearded man who was wearing an old biker skull rag on his head. The woman thought, "Great Scott! This is what you sent to help me?" But, she was desperate, so she was also very thankful.
The man got out of his car and asked her if he could help. She said "Yes, my daughter is very sick.
I stopped to get her some medication and I locked my keys in my car, I must get home to her. Please, can you use this hanger to unlock my car?"
He said, "SURE." He walked over to the car, and in less than 30 seconds the car was opened. She hugged the man and through her tears she said, "THANK YOU SO MUCH! You are a very nice man." The man replied, "Lady, I'm not a nice man. I just got out of prison today. I was in prison for car theft and have only been out for about an hour."
The woman hugged the man again, and with sobbing tears cried out loud, "THANK YOU, GOD, FOR SENDING ME A PROFESSIONAL!"
Never forget, God always hears and always answers our prayers. Sometimes, though, the answer comes in “strange packaging.” But lets think about that “strange packaging” for a moment.
What if, during his time in prison, this man had been asking God to bring someone into his life who would help him overcome his past? What if he’d been praying for someone to show him how to live his life for Christ?
Have you ever considered that a person that comes as your “answer to prayer” may just be praying themselves?
God has been known to put people into our lives for the purpose of us sharing the gospel with them. What if that was the case in the above story? What if the lady realized this and spent just a couple of seconds talking to the man? What if she was so focused on her own problems that she ignored the man’s needs after her own were met?
Of course, we don’t know because the story doesn’t say...but just think about the “What if…”
You really never know...you just might be the “strange packaging’s” answer to prayer!
Back when I was a child, we would sing a song that said:
Oh be careful little eyes what you see,
Oh be careful little eyes what you see,
For the Father up above is looking down in love;
So be careful little eyes what you see.
The song then talked about “feet where you go” and “mouth what you say” and “hands what you do.” It was designed to teach little kids to think about everything they do, because God is watching...not in a “big bully in the sky” way, but He is “looking down in love.”
If this song has been forgotten in favor of more contemporary songs, I think it needs to be revived. The same four verses could be sung, but we maybe should add a couple of verses as well.
One additional verse might be: “Oh be careful little fingers what you type.” (Yes, I know the fingers are part of the hands.) Most of my friends on Facebook are Christians...but you might not even suspect it from some of the things they post.
They “like” questionable websites or status updates from others. They call other people (who were made in God’s image, even if the other person denies the existence of God) names. They use language that takes the name of God in vain (FYI “vain” can be defined as “empty of substance” or “meaningless”)...this includes euphemisms (i.e. “OMG” and the like).
The same can be said about our language (see “Oh be careful little mouth what you say”). “Lordy, Lordy” and “My God” are often heard...even from the mouths of Christians...with no intention of addressing Jesus or God.
Some of you might even now be thinking, “Well, preacher, its just an expression. I really don’t mean anything by it!” Which is exactly my point. Again vain can mean “empty of substance” or “meaningless.” If you don’t mean anything by it, then you are using God’s name in a meaningless way.
I guess what I’m saying is to be careful of anything you chose to involve yourself in (in word or deed)...because “The Father up above is looking down in love.”
As most of you are aware, this past Sunday was an “Agape Sunday.” Since we did not have services on Sunday night and since the girls didn’t have school on Monday (OK, Rachel was exempt from her final that was Monday and Jamie doesn’t really like water park stuff that much), we decided it would be a good idea to go to Branson and use our Silver Dollar City season passes.
We had planned to go to SDC Sunday afternoon and Monday morning, then do a little summer shopping Monday afternoon. Well, SDC was only open until 6:00 Sunday, and we didn’t get to Branson until after 4:00...so we did our shopping Sunday night and spent most of Monday at SDC.
Monday was mostly overcast in Branson, so it never really got exactly warm...but it wasn’t cool either. It was perfect for walking around SDC. But we sort of wanted to go on the water rides, so around 1:45 we got in line for “The Lost River of the Ozarks.”
As we stood in line, we couldn’t help but notice at least four warnings that you would get “bathtub wet” riding this ride. They even have a pavilion right in the middle of the line where you can purchase plastic bags for those items that you want to keep dry (cell phones, for example). We bought two plastic bags and stuffed as much stuff as we could into each of them.
To make a long story short (I know, too late!) Monica and Jamie stayed relatively dry, Rachel got pretty wet, and I got “bath tub wet!” We went in several stores on our way to the gate: rather Monica and the girls did...I went in one and the air conditioning did not mesh well with the wet clothes I was wearing.
Riding “The Lost River of the Ozarks” actually had an effect on the rest of my stay at SDC...in fact I “paid” for riding it for the rest of the day. While Monica and the girls went in shops, I chose to stay outside and search for sunny spots, trying to dry my clothes.
Then came the drive home. Have you ever been soaked to the bone and then entered a car that has been sitting in the sun all day? It is not the most fun thing in the world! Then, when you turn on the car and the A/C hits you…
My point is that I paid for about 4 or 5 minutes of fun (riding the ride) by being uncomfortable the rest of the day.
Sin can be exactly like that...fun at the time, perhaps some might even say refreshing, but we end up paying for it for a very long time. If we are not careful, we may end up paying for it for all of eternity.
The choice is yours: Romans 6:23 says, “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”