Tebow Time & His Airness

It’s super late, actually just really early…1:15am to be exact. Yesterday, during his first professional baseball game, when he saw his first pitch, Tim Tebow promptly deposited it deep over the center field fence. Yes, he hit the very first pitch he saw out of the ballpark. Now, this fact has nothing to do with what Tim’s baseball career might or might not be. If you know anything about baseball, you know it is a difficult game, and it can take years and lots of hard work for a minor league player to make it to the big leagues. Then, it takes even more hard work to stay there.

So, again, I am not saying this proves that Tim Tebow is the next baseball phenom. However, that one swing, and all the hoopla around it did get me thinking. Truth is, I’ve been perturbed ever since Tim announced that he was going to tryout for major league scouts. What bothered me was the way so many people (experts and amateur fans) quickly and summarily dismissed Tim’s chances.

It reminded me of the Sports Illustrated cover that convinced me to never pick up another issue. bag-it-michael-si

In 1994, the magazine decided to sell a few more thousand copies by slamming  Michael Jordan for his attempt to play professional baseball. He cut off all communication with Sports Illustrated, even to this day.

Both of these men have something in common- they are winners. In their professional lives, whatever they’ve attempted, it seems something inside them wills them to win. Michael Jordan is considered the best basketball player of all time. Tim Tebow was one of the best college football players ever. He was the first sophomore to win the Heisman Trophy, and he lead the University of Florida to 2 national championships in three years. Even in his very short NFL career, Tim had a knack for getting his team the win.

tim-collage-for-blog

However, critics can’t seem to say enough bad things. Michael didn’t make it to the major leagues, and maybe Tim won’t either. But, it seems to me that every man and woman should be given the opportunity to try something without being lambasted and denounced as a failure before they even get started.

Honestly, some people are probably dissuaded from even attempting something new just because of the very real chance they’ll be trashed by others. This cynical approach to life, and seeming joy we take in bashing those who dare to stray from what we think they should do is a sad trend in our society. It makes me wonder just what would magazines, blogs, and sports talk shows be filled with, if negativity and cynicism didn’t exist.

So, let me give you this quick bit of encouragement…DO IT NOW! Whatever it is that you’ve been wanting to try, dying to see if you can accomplish, hoping you could find the courage to try…just get up off your couch and get started.

As a believer and follower of God, I’m inspired and motivated by this verse in the Bible,

And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work.     -2 Corinthians 9:8

Whether you are coming from a foundation of faith in God or not, you will need inspiration. You will face cynicism, and you need to be able to shake loose the doubters and haters. Then, pick yourself up and get started. I am reminded of another story that challenges and inspires me ever year on May 21st. That day in 1982, a 21-year-old Cal Ripken, Jr. was inserted into the starting lineup by Baltimore manager Earl Weaver, where he would remain for the next 2,631 games. He played every single baseball game for the Orioles for more than 16 years.

The only way a story like that happens is by someone getting started. So, when the voices are telling you that you’re not good enough, and they say you can’t do it, that you’ll fail if you try, that’s when you will be faced with a decision- go forward or give up. You’re likely to face that kind of decision many times in your life, but it can be an especially difficult one when you’re changing course, or trying something new.

Just tell those cynics…well…on second thought, don’t tell them anything. Instead, ignore them, turn around, and walk away. Stay away from people like that. Seriously. The world has way more than enough, you don’t need that kind of influence in your life. Surround yourself with people who believe in you, care about you, and root for your success. They also have to be ready and willing to speak truth into your life. That’s for your protection. But most importantly they must have your back.

Make the decision. Turn away from, ignore, and remove the cynicism from your life. Then, get started. DO IT NOW!

 

Iron Like A Man

As you read, I hope you think about a friend or two with whom you will share this. Not for more readers, but because you have some great friends in your life. Real, close friends whom you consider more like family.

Think about your friends for a moment…all the people outside your family that tend to be included in the different outings and events in your life. Are they all “friends”, or are some just people you hang out with? Chances are, they aren’t all friends. More likely, they serve as friends of the moment. They fill these pieces of time when you enjoy some commonality in life and simply hang out together. But, if friendships truly are an important part of our lives as followers of Christ, we should understand what it means to be a real friend and make time to evaluate our friendships.

There are examples of friends, good and bad, throughout the Bible, and God has plenty to say about friendships. In John 15:15, Jesus said, “No longer do I call you servants…but I have called you friends.” We read about Jesus weeping in John 11:35, and it was his compassion towards his friends during their time of grief that triggered his tears. He hurt because his friends hurt. Seems that friends and friendships were important to Jesus as he walked the earth.

So, what is the criteria for evaluating friendships? Here are some keys we should strive to have in our friendships. Think of someone you consider to be a “close” friend, and ask these questions.

  1. What do you generally talk about when together? Do either of you dominate the time?
  2. Is there mutual care and concern for the other’s life and happenings?
  3. When one has a need, does the other do everything possible to be there and help out?
  4. After spending time together, are you encouraged and strengthened? Joyful?
  5. Can you say that you are a better follower of Christ because of this friend? And, would they say the same about you?

Proverbs 17:17 says a friend loves at all times, and that is exactly what we typically like about our friends. But a little further into Proverbs is a verse that speaks to the real purpose of close friends.

Look at this great verse in Proverbs 27:17

Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another.

The real test of a close friend is that he or she makes you better. God’s desire for our friendships is that we continually encourage, and push one another to grow and mature in Christlikeness. It is much more than simply enjoying one another’s company.

If you have never seen a blade sharpened, you might miss the imagery of this verse. However, the principle matters more than the imagery. The principle is that interaction between good friends, as they support, encourage, correct, and help each other will hone each friend’s skills in handling the challenges of life. Particularly, the challenges of living a life committed to Christ. One thing is for certain when it comes to sharpening blades. The sharpening agent must get very close to the blade. It has to be right against it and be moved back and forth with intense pressure to do the hard work of sharpening.

Closeness is the key, and the simple truth is that closeness in friendships does not develop by chatting about sports, shopping, movies, weather, or other people. Real friends who work at making each other better, spend time in close proximity and continually grow closer as they work through the complexities of life.

Evaluate your friendships with these questions and the principles of God’s Word, then thank God for your friends. If some friendships are not the kind you know God wants you to have, pray for that friend and ask God to change the friendship into one that honors Him. Remember- you need close friendships built on biblical principles just as much as the next person, and God wants to work in and through those friendships.