Posts Tagged ‘NFL’

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“MADDEN CURSE” – Dec 2

December 2, 2013

“Seek the Lord, all you humble of the land, who do his just commands, seek righteousness; seek humility; perhaps you may be hidden on the day of the anger of the Lord.”  Zephaniah 2:4

Madden NFL 2005

Madden NFL 2005 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

What do Eddie George, Daunte Culpepper, Marshall Faulk, Ray Lewis, Michael Vick, Donovan McNabb, and Shaun Alexander have in common? (Other than having been NFL football players)  They all appeared on the cover of the video game Madden NFL and were all victims of the Madden curse.  The Madden curse is alleged to doom the player gracing the cover of the EA Sports video game, Madden NFL, to suffer a significant injury or perform horribly the following season.

Many believe in the Madden curse.

Maybe, it is God’s punishing them for pride.
Maybe, it is karma.
Maybe, it is the wrath of the god of football.
Maybe, it is something I don’t understand but it is still real.

I read the article, “Is the “Madden Curse” Real?”.  The author concluded:

Madden is selecting players who had outstanding seasons the previous year. But just like a roulette wheel might have a run where it comes up red 75% of the time, the outstanding performance by the players who appear on the cover is not sustainable. So the year after they’re featured they don’t perform as well as they did the year before, and it looks like they’re cursed. In reality, they’re simply playing back at the same level they were before their outstanding season. They’re just regressing to the mean, and it would have happened whether they appeared on the cover of Madden or not.

Madden NFL 07

Madden NFL 07 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The “Madden Curse” is not real.  These players had a great year performing above their average.  The Madden Curse is just a reminder that sustaining elite levels of performance can be very difficult.  The laws of averages usually pull us back.  The typical improvement for individuals is incremental.  In March, I blogged about my goal to swim a mile in my local 25-yard, City pool in less than 30 minutes.  While I would like to report that I have succeeded, I have not – it is much harder than I had thought.  I swam my prescribed distance this last week in 31 minutes, 32 seconds.  It was 6 seconds faster than the week before.  However, it is an improvement of 2 minutes from March.

I have had monster swims that threatened the 30 minute mark.  I have had wimpy swims with no improvement.  My average improvement always seems to come back to small increments of improvement over extended periods of training.  I am swimming at a gradually descending average.  This is the typical experience of professional athletes and the recreational age-groupers, like me.  I think it is more the norm in the spiritual realm than I would like to admit.

There are many who revert to “Madden Curse” like explanations when they stumble in their sanctification.   Feelings of great spiritual triumph will often be followed by flare ups of indwelling sin.  The zeal of close fellowship with our Savior might be extinguished by a heart that has no passion to pray or study God’s word. (Duguid, Barbara)

We can be tempted to search for explanations of what is happening within us rather than acknowledging that we are not as good as we had thought.  We need to remember that because of the Spirit within us we are not as bad as our melancholy suggests.  We are uniquely progressing in our personal sanctification under the loving hand of our heavenly Father.

There are some who over-react to circumstances.  They function in their spiritual lives primarily in the realm of feelings rather than in the realm of knowledge. They may feel like God is punishing them when He is not.  They misunderstand the events in their lives as God’s displeasure when He is actually leading them to a deeper and richer understanding of His grace. (Duguid, Barbara)

J.D. Salinger wrote in the Nine Stories:

Poets are always taking the weather so personally. They’re always sticking their emotions in things that have no emotions.

I believe the sentiment of this quote is applicable to many Christians.

Christians are always taking circumstance so personally. They’re always sticking their emotions in things that have no emotions.

We live in a fallen world that follows the sovereign plan of God.  God has the power to keep us from sickness, distress, and pain.  There are times when He delivers us from the troubles of our fallen environment and there are times when He does not.  As Zephaniah prophesied to the faithful in Israel, “perhaps you may be hidden on the day of the anger of the Lord”.  The opposite is equally true; perhaps you will not be hidden from the pain of a fallen world.

Whether He delivers us or He does not, is not commentary on His pleasure in our obedience.  The walk through difficult times is not a Madden like curse.  Equally, the walk through victory does not mean we are ready for a video cover.

A fall back to our progression of sanctification, while disappointing, does not incur the displeasure of a disappointed Father.  God knows what is in us.  He knows the sin that still entangles our love.  We should be thankful when God reveals to us our indwelling sin – it should humble us into repentance and reliance upon His grace.

God loves us enough not to leave our sanctification incomplete.

Therefore, let us respond to all circumstances in the same manner;
by seeking the Lord, seeking His righteousness, not our own, in humility.

Let us praise Him in our victories – for they are all due to Him.

Let us praise Him in our failures – for He is not done with us.

PRAYER: O Lord, you know that I have a tendency of being preoccupied by the condition of my soul.  Thank you for the love that you continue to show me in my victories, defeats, and average plodding.  Lord, continue your work in me to transform my heart and to cleanse me of my indwelling sin.  I pray this in the precious name of your Son,  Jesus Christ.   Amen.

Resources:
Extravagant Grace, Barbara R. Duguid

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SORRY, BUT YOU REALLY DO STINK – Jan. 9

January 9, 2013

“How can you believe, when you receive glory from one another and do not seek the glory that comes from the only God?”  John 5:44

2012 BCS National Championship Game

2012 BCS National Championship Game (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I watched the BCS National Championship game the other day.  Alabama put an absolute beat down on Notre Dame.  I think it is pretty clear this year that Alabama is the best football team in College Football.

We were talking in the office the next day about how this Alabama football team might be able to play a very competitive game against one of the “bottom feeder” teams in the NFL.  That may sound like I am disrespecting Alabama but I am not.  I am actually paying a very high complement to a college football team.

The reality is that the level of competitiveness between high school football and college football is similar to the difference between college and the NFL.  There will probably be less than ten players from this Alabama football team that will have a career in the NFL of any duration.  There are probably less than five that will actually start next year in the NFL.  Whereas, every player in the NFL would start on Alabama’s team.

Alabama’s players should enjoy their accomplishment of winning the National Championship but that achievement should also keep it in perspective.

That perspective is a hard one.  We all like to be the big fish and we want to forget about the size of pond that we are in.  This is evident when we spend any time observing people.

Go into any High School and watch the seniors strut around in all of their glory.  They are in for a harsh awakening in the coming year when they jump into the bigger pond of the work place or college.

There are poor managers who strut around their office giving orders like they are ruling a fiefdom.  This same manager would probably get flushed out of a quality organization.

There some fathers that rule their family with an iron thumb because that is the only place that they can demand respect.

There are some Christians that strut into Church with a piousness that appears to be ordained from God Himself.  They will only sit through a sermon that confirms how great they are.

It is human nature to want affirmation.  I like affirmation.  I need affirmation.  However, a steady diet of affirmation can sour our appetite.  However, the affirmation that we receive is praise for a “little fish in little pond”.  That is the caveat on every single encouraging word that we may receive.  Therefore, the wise among us are careful to watch that they don’t start strutting around thinking that they are something special.

This mentality is so dangerous in the Christian community.  We are so very good at patting each other on the back.  We are good at encouraging one another for the great things that we have done.  Now, I am all in favor of encouraging one another.  I wrote a whole blog about the importance of encouraging one another a while back.

The caveat on that blog is that we as believers should never start selectively reading the scriptures for only those passages that are encouraging.  We should never start selecting the Church we attend based on the Pastor only teaches encouraging sermons.  We should never select our friend based on the fact that they are encouraging without being confronting.

It is when we start seeking glory from others that we should be concerned that affirmation may have soured our appetite.  This is what happened to the Pharisees.  They missed their Messiah because they had become so accustomed to receiving flattery.

“… they were open to messianic claimants who used flattery or who panted after great reputation or whose values were so closely attuned to their audience that their audience felt they were very wise and farsighted; they were not open to the Messiah that Jesus was turning out to be, one who though the only doxa (glory/praise) worth pursuing was the glory of God.” D.A. Carson, The Gospel According to John

That is still a danger for us today.  We can miss Christ by becoming so attuned to hearing messages that flatter us or only come from those with a great reputation or messages that tell us what we want to hear.

How do we defend ourselves from that sort of danger?  You have to remember that:

YOU STINK!

Please don’t be overly offended if no one has ever told you that before.  If it makes you feel any better, I stink too.  In fact, every person who has walked this earth, other than Christ, has stunk.  That is the point; Christ did not.  That is why He is our standard.

We must remember that you are not the standard; I am not the standard; the mega-church pastors are not the standard; the people in the Bible are not the standard.

Christ is our standard.

Every time you receive some glory, compare yourself to Christ.

Every time you are affirmed, compare yourself to Christ.

Every time you are praised, compare yourself to Christ.

When we consistently compare ourselves to Christ, we will realize the futility of pursuing our own glory.  We are little fish in a little pond.  All the glory that we may receive has the caveat of  “but God is greater.”

Remembering that you stink should not discourage.  It should be humbling but not discouraging.  It leads us and teaches us how great our God really is.  He is the biggest fish in the biggest pond of all.  This is the foundation of true humility.

A mind-set of humility will inoculate us from seeking our self-esteem from the glory of one another.  An appetite for the praise of man can so easily distract and corrupt our motivations. Humility allows us to pursue our primary purpose – to glorify God and to enjoy Him forever – and not to be distracted by the praise of man.

Remember that it is because God is so great that He can use someone who stinks as much as you and I do.

PRAYER: Father, forgive me for getting my priorities so far out of whack.  Forgive me for seeking my glory while I am trying to convince myself that I am seeking yours.  Lord you are so far beyond me that any glory that I might receive in this world is pittance to the glory that is due you.  Lord, make my motivations clear to me.  Help be to glorify you in all that I do and to enjoy you all my days.  Amen

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