Marc Richt: Can A Christian Be A Successful Coach In Big Time College Football?

With the highly anticipated kick-off to the 2015 college football season just days away.  Fans of the University of Georgia are wondering can the Bulldogs win the national championship.

Much of the preseason speculation has centered on head coach Marc Richt.  As a professed Christian many have openly questioned if his religious beliefs have cost the team victories.

Since coming to Athens in 2001 Coach Richt has won two SEC championships, graduated a high number of his players and has earned the acclaim of his fellow coaches being named as the coach that his fellow coaches would most want their sons to play for.

However, it has been nearly a decade since Richt’s last SEC championship.  Entering this season fans are restless because the failure of the coach to capture the relatively weak SEC East which Georgia was picked to win in each of the past two seasons.

The end of the 2014 campaign brought added misery as the Dawgs lost the final two regular season games including the annual match-up with instate rival Georgia Tech.

Despite these setbacks the university showed faith in Coach Richt rewarding him with a contract extension worth nearly 4 million dollars per year.

But many nervous fans do not share the university’s faith in the coach.  This is a typical fan reaction to the contract extension on sports talk radio

“Mark Richt’s a great person, He represents the University of Georgia with class. He is a good Christian man who conducts himself more like a pastor than a football coach.”

“However, it’s about winning football games, and I can’t recall the last time a pastor won a national championship.  If I want a pastor, I will go to church.  On the football field we need a coach not a pastor. “

The caller echoes the view that many have of Coach Richt.  Does a Christian has what it takes to be a successful coach in bigtime college football?

The caller also echoes a view that many have about Christians.  That our faith has made us weak, that our faith renders us unable to make the tough call, that our faith will make us incapable of being successful in a secular world.

As Christians we live and work in a world dominated and controlled by secular influences.

While this world offers many wondrous, interesting and marvelous things including football.

We who have chosen to live by faith, attempting to live our lives in a God fearing way must understand that the secular world is not set up for our success.

Jesus clearly outlines the Christian’s prospects for success in John 15:18-21

If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own.

As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you.

Remember what I told you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.

If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also. If they obeyed my teaching, they will obey yours also.

They will treat you this way because of my name, for they do not know the one who sent me.     

If success is measured by the standards of the secular world then the Christian has no chance for success.

The measurement of success for Christians and frankly for everyone else in this secular world are the standards set by God.

Coach Ritch summed it up best when asked how he would define himself, by the standard of winning the national championship:

“…my identity is not in being a national championship football coach. My identity is in Christ.”

“Do I want to win one? Yes. Is that going to define me as a person? No.’”

For when it comes to success Coach Richt and all of us should take our measure from Psalm 1:1-3

 “Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night.

He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers.”

While faith is not a prerequisite for winning football games. But there’s not much evidence that it prevents winning, either.

Therefore, I am confident that one day Coach Richt will win the national title.  And when it happens, I am equally as confident that he will give all the honor, glory and credit to the greatest coach of all; God the father almighty.

 

Some source material for this post came from:

The paradox of UGA football coach Mark Richt by Nikhil Swaminathan

 

 

A Faith That Is Strong And Very Courageous

Recently I spent a most enjoyable day with my strong, fearless and very courageous granddaughter Nina.

The five year old powerhouse earned her stripes for bravery with a bold assault on the highest waterside in Michigan.

With each successful splashdown Nina demonstrated her supreme faith that the tandem of the heroic little girl and her proud grandfather would be more than conquerors of the waterslide.

Nina overcame any fear she had on the way to the top of the waterslide because she took “ownership” of the thing – with a faith that was strong, and very courageous.

“Lost” in the wildness for 40 years the Israelites lacked the courage to enter into and take “ownership” of the land that God had promised to them.

Moses did all he could to give the fearful Israelites the courage to take ownership of the land. After Moses dies God appoints a new leader for the Israelites his name was Joshua.

Tied of the lack of faith showed by the fearful Israelites God gives Joshua this clear mandate:  If the Israelites will simply have faith in the Lord. God will provide them with all the courage they need to take ownership of the land.

“Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go.  Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful.  Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”   Joshua 1: 7-9 (NIV)

Joshua used that mandate of faith to mobilize the Israelites.

So Joshua ordered the officers of the people: 11 “Go through the camp and tell the people, ‘Get your provisions ready. Three days from now you will cross the Jordan here to go in and take possession of the land the Lord your God is giving you for your own.’”     Joshua 1: 10-11 (NIV)

And it was with faith that the Israelites performed the strong and very courageous actions needed to end 40 years of wondering and fear.   For finally they had faith which gave them the  courage to take ownership of the land that God had given them.

Joshua has taught us and Nina has demonstrated to us; that a faith in God that is strong and very courageous can overcome any fear.

Therefore with a faith that is strong and very courageous we can take ownership of anything:

-From the largest waterslide in Michigan,

-To the land promised to the Israelites

-To our frail, fearful and fleeting lives.

Be strong and very courageous – have faith in the Lord

When Is God Not God?

When is God not God?  The obvious answer is never.  God in scripture assures us over and over again that He is always with us and that He will never leave.

For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:38-39 ESV

Therefore we can rest assured because of His power, His grace and His pledge to never leave us God is indeed always God.

However, we the wayward children of God often live and act as if God is not God.  Making His very existence at best an afterthought as we deny His glory, mock His righteous and flaunt His commands.

Clearly God is not blind to our wickless, and while He has given us the free will to choose this lawless path.  He also wants to give us every opportunity to return to His good graces, forgiven and restored.

God sent Jeremiah to reveal the sins of both the Jews in Babylon and the people on the earth today.  Along with the grave consequences of ignoring them.

God’s passionate plea for us to change course is echoed Jeremiah 7:5-7

But if you genuinely change your ways and stop what you are doing; if you deal with each other fairly; if you don’t oppress foreigners, orphans, and widows; if you don’t shed the blood of the innocent in this land; and if you don’t practice the self-destructive worship of other gods; then I will let you live forever in this land I promised your ancestors long ago.  Jeremiah 7:5-7 The Voice

The message is clear God wants us to clean up our act. He wants us to enjoy His love, His mercy and His grace.

For God is always God even when we act like He is not God.

 

 

What to do with Mr. Cosby

If the allegations are true and the overwhelming evidence  suggest that they are, Bill Cosby is a rapist.  And he should be punished to the fullest extent of the law.

Mr. Cosby was considered a national treasure and given honors from the Presidential Medal of Freedom, to a Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame to the title of America’s Favorite Father.

Those accolades were earned because of Mr. Cosby’s many charitable activities in support of the arts, education and the American family.

That lifetime of achievement, excellence and goodwill is gone.  Since we now know that the man we all loved and admired as Doctor Huxtable.  Used drugs to lure women into unwanted sex and as President Obama said recently, “That is rape”.

Regardless of the judicial findings those of us who have been touched by Mr. Cosby’s comic brilliance, his stand for civil rights or his classic television shows maybe wondering as I am:  What to do with Mr. Cosby?

Knowing what I know now:

-Should I continue to enjoy the Cosby Show?

-Should I show my grandchildren the African art he contributed to the Smithsonian?

-Should I be in support the movement to strip him of all honors including the Medial of Freedom?

What should I do with Mr. Cosby?

For an answer to that question I myself asked another question: “What would Jesus do? “

As recorded in Luke’s gospel, Jesus spoke with Simon Peter before leaving the Upper Room after the Last Supper, warning him of the coming test.

“Peter, let me tell you something. Between now and tomorrow morning when the rooster crows, you will deny me three times, declaring that you don’t even know me.”  Luke 22: 34 NLT

And what did Jesus do?  – He forgive Peter and rooted for His redemption.

“Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift each of you like wheat. But I have pleaded in prayer for you, Simon, that your faith should not fail. So when you have repented and turned to me again, with the ability to strengthen your brothers” Luke 22:31-32 NLT.

The very purpose of Christ’s suffering and death on the Cross is not only forgiveness but also for redemption.

So what should we to do with Mr. Cosby?

– Yes he has done bad things

– Yes he should be punished

– Yes he has betrayed our trust

But so did Peter and what did Christ do with him?

However, more importantly in our lives

  • We will do bad things – and will have people who will do bad things to us.
  • We will betray and deny those who are close to us – and will have the same done to us.
  • We will sin and – be sinned against

Therefore, like Christ:

I will forgive Mr. Cosby.

I will hope in his punishment that he will repent and find help

And I will root for his redemption.

While doing all of this I will pray that Jesus will forgive me and redeem me for the wrong I have done.

For Earth has no sorrow that Heaven cannot heal.