Flag Football of Life

Have you ever been to a little kid’s flag football game?  If you have, then you’ve probably noticed the moms on the sidelines?  I’m referring to a particular mom, the one with her face painted in support of her son’s team, losing her mind as she cheers for her son.  Whether he’s playing like a pro or making fumbles and loosing flags, she is shouting encouragement at the top of her lungs for her “baby”.  Well, minus the face painting, that crazy hollering Mom is me.  One of my favorite responsibilities as a mother is being a cheerleader, if you will, for each of my children.  I can remember when my son started playing flag football.  On Saturdays during the season, we would load up the family, the cooler, and the chairs to go and cheer our hearts out for the little Rams.  Win or loose, I was there cheering! It wasn’t about winning, it was about what the boys were learning, it was about time together and the memories we made that will be cherished forever.

I’ve never, personally, been to a game and heard a mom scolding or tearing down her son when he lost a flag or fumbled the ball.  This is probably a good thing, because I would lose my mind over that!  It isn’t the norm to hear a parent yelling sarcastically at their child things like, “What are you thinking” or “Good job, you loser!”  On the contrary, moms are usually throwing encouragement onto the field the entire game with comments like, “Great try”, “You can do it” or “You’ll get the next one, buddy”.  As moms, we should want to build up our kids, reminding them of who they are and what they can be or accomplish, but why is it often different when we grow up or interact with others?

Life can sometimes be like a flag football game.  We can often be running down the field of life, in the middle of a great play, only to have Satan snatch our flag.  It could be many different flags, like that of joy, peace, or purpose.  We can feel discouraged and defeated and have the tendency to throw in the towel.  We’ve all had those times, and the most encouraging thing we can hear from the sidelines is the cheers from other believers.  Just that little verbal nudge to get up and try again can be all that’s needed to keep us from giving up.  Just being reminded that someone believes in us and sees who we were created to by and not just where we messed up or “dropped the ball”.

The same is true as we watch others on their “playing field”. There are always people around us who have lost a flag, and it isn’t our job, as a fellow follower of Christ, to say things like, “What were you thinking” or “I cannot believe you just did that”.  We are called to “encourage one another and build each other up”.  (1 Thess. 5:11)  We need to be the cheerleaders in the lives of those around us, instilling hope, courage, and inspiration.

Acts 20:1b says, “Traveling through the country, passing from one gathering to another, Paul gave constant encouragement, lifting their spirits and charging them with fresh hope”.  This is the kind of “teammate” and leader I desire to be.  As I am traveling through this journey of life, I want to give constant encouragement to others, lifting their spirits and charging them with fresh hope.  No matter what they do or how hard they fall, I want to be a person that takes the time to lift them up and invigorate them to “get back in the game”!

I am confident, if you’re pursuing greatness, that you have this same desire.  Let’s be intentional this week as we are in this, sometimes hard, game of life, to uplift those that are down and encourage those that have had a flag snatched by the enemy.  Let’s run down the field of life together, remembering we are on the same team and the score is already been determined.  OH, and just for the record, we win!

May the Lord help us to be people who build others up, instill fresh hope in those that are down, and cheer for those who are running with us, for His glory! May our voices of encouragement and inspiration be louder than the jeers that are coming from those trying to discourage and tear down. In our pursuit of greatness, may we cheer on those in pursuit alongside us!

God’s Love Language

As I was pondering the simple ways I could shower love on Tony, my one and only Valentine, and even our children, I thought about our precious Lord Jesus, the One who is Love. Many of you have probably read the book entitled, The Five Love Languages, by Dr. Gary Chapman.  If you haven’t read it, I encourage you to check it out. It is a very insightful book and helpful in building relationships.  Dr. Chapman lists several ways in which we communicate love to those closest to us.  There is physical touch, acts of service, words of affirmation, gifts, and quality time.  Each play a significant role in every relationship, but he shares how we all have one or two particular languages that speak love the loudest to us.
I often use this to evaluate how I am expressing love to those around me in order to ensure that I am communicating love to them in the most effective way possible.  We all desire for our relationships to be rich and refreshing, and we know that in order for this to happen it takes diligence and dedication.  It isn’t something that just naturally happens, but rather it requires that we be intentional in cultivating these kind of relationships.
Deuteronomy 6:5  says,“You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, 
with all your soul, and with all your strength.” As I was pondering Valentine’s Day, I considered my relationship with God.  Not just where I stand with Him, but how I love Him, and more specifically, how I communicate that love to Him.  I cannot help but think that even Jesus has a favorite love language.  Don’t get me wrong, similar to my own marriage, every love language is valuable, however, the reality is that we each have a particular love language that, when expressed, it shouts loud and clear, “I love you!”  I believe we express love for God when we serve Him, when we sing praises to Him, and when we give our gifts and offerings to Him, but I cannot help but think that His primary love language is quality time, savoring the gift of His presence.
Think about the story with me of Mary and Martha. You remember the account in Luke chapter 10, when Jesus is being hosted in their home.  Martha is serving Him, preparing a luscious meal for her Lord.  Mary, on the other hand, is simply sitting at His feet, giving Him her undivided attention.  Jesus didn’t reprimand Martha for serving.  He knew she loved Him and was attempting to express that love through her service, but what He did do was clearly express that which He felt was best.  I am sure he enjoyed lunch that day, and I can’t help but think that he expressed gratitude later for the meal Martha prepared for Him.  However, what brought Him the most joy and expressed love to His heart the most?  What did He say was most valuable?  Take the time to check it out for yourself.  You will find it was the quality time and attention that Mary offered Him, sitting at His feet.
In this culture, it’s something we all have to fight for, this most valuable gift of time with Him.  We must practice His sweet presence throughout our busy days, choosing to stay focused on Him and acknowledging Him in the details of our life. We can all get stuck in the whirlwind of acts of service, that are fueled by a deep desire to express love to our Savior, and all the while He is quietly whispering to our spirits, “I just want some time with you”?  Are we offering Him our talents and our treasures materially, but withholding the time and attention He so passionately desires from us?
He is God, and He knows our hearts, but as we express our love to the special people in our lives today, for Valentine’s Day, let’s make it a point to consider the One who is Love. Let’s take the time, make the necessary adjustments in our schedule, and guard that time with Him, not just in the morning, but all throughout our day.  Give Him that which He most enjoys, sweet, intimate fellowship.  Speak His love language, if you will.  Sit at His feet, hear His heart through His Word, acknowledge His presence even more throughout the day, and then, out of an overflow of that precious intimacy, we will find ourselves speaking the other love languages clearly, and our lives will exclaim to the world around us, “I love the Lord”!