Sep 17, 2009


I love to watch football; both college and professional. Actually, Cathy and I still enjoy watching the local High School games even after our children have graduated and no longer attend or play football.

My two teams are THE Ohio State Buckeyes and The Dallas Cowboys. My dad grew up in Ohio; so I was raised in Minnesota cheering for the Buckeyes and the Minnesota Gophers. I watched the Minnesota Vikings lose 2 years in a row in the SuperBowl and so I went to another team. What can I say; Tom Landry and Roger Staubach made me a better offer; they understood that the goal at the end of the season was to win it all. We will have to wait until January to see how far the Cowboys and the Buckeyes go.  
A young football player was working out in the gym last night. He had on a shirt that said; “Champions Are Made When No one is Watching” I like that. In fact, it is one of the qualities that I like in the Cowboys and the Buckeyes. They understand that what goes on during the off season, in the gym, and everywhere there is no presence of fans or the media, will affect what happens when the lights turn on and it is their time to shine.

Successful teams understand this. “Hall-of-Fame” athletes understand this. What we do in the secret places affects what we do in public spot light. As I searched the web for photos of athletes working out when no one was looking, I couldn’t find any. All of the photos seemed to be of when they scored a goal or caught a pass or blocked a shot. Very few photos of “Rocky Balboa” athletes who are running or lifting weights all alone; athletes going through the daily rituals that separate the champions from the rest of us. Very few photos of athletes putting in the time it takes to become a champion.
Why? Because we are a society that loves to be seen and heard by everyone, and everywhere instantaneously…so much for our “fifteen minutes of fame”, Mr. Warhol. We want the attention but don’t seem willing to put in the time and the effort. We want the gain without the pain. We want the rings and trophies without shedding any blood or sweat or tears.And because we don’t think that what we do in private makes any difference at all as to how it affects what we do in public. It does; both good and bad. “Do not be deceived, God is not mocked. For whatever a man sows, that he also will reap.” (Galatians 6:7.) 

I like to tell you that this doesn’t happen in the church; but it does. Christians; like everyone else, seem to search for the spot light. This was one of the things that seemed to bother Jesus about the Pharisees: they loved to be seen by men when they did religious acts such as praying or giving money. “Woe to you, Pharisees! For you love the chief seats in the synagogues and greetings in the markets.” (Luke 11:43).

Jesus said; “Take heed that you do not do your merciful deeds before men, to be seen by them. Otherwise you have no reward with your Father in Heaven. 2 Therefore when you do your merciful deeds, do not sound a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, so that they may have glory from men. Truly I say to you, They have their reward.” (Matthew 6:1-2)

CHAMPIONS ARE MADE WHEN NO ONE IS WATCHING. Spiritual champions; like athletes, don’t just happen. What we do in the secret places affects what we do in public spot light. Jesus goes on to say that we should spend time in fellowship with God alone, by ourselves, away from the crowds. Private time with the God who made us.

“But when you do merciful deeds, do not let your left hand know what your right hand does, 4 so that your merciful deeds may be in secret. And your Father who sees in secret Himself shall reward you openly." (Matthew 6:3-4)

“And when you pray, you shall not be like the hypocrites. For they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, so that they may be seen by men. Truly I say to you, They have their reward.” (Matthew 6:5)

“But you, when you pray, enter into your room. And shutting your door, pray to your Father in secret; and your Father who sees in secret shall reward you openly. But when you pray, do not babble vain words, as the nations. For they think that in their much speaking they shall be heard." (Matthew 6:6-7)

“And when you fast, do not be like the hypocrites, of a sad face. For they disfigure their faces so that they may appear to men to fast. Truly I say to you, They have their reward. 17 But you, when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, 18 so that you do not appear to men to fast, but to your Father in secret. And your Father who sees in secret shall reward you openly.” (Matthew 6:16-18)


Rise up.

Take the challenge to be a champion.

The world is waiting for you.

 “Therefore since we also are surrounded with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight and the sin which so easily besets us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, 2 looking to Jesus the Author and Finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and sat down at the right of the throne of God. 3 For consider Him who endured such contradiction of sinners against Himself, lest you be weary and faint in your minds. 4 You have not yet resisted unto blood, striving against sin.” (Hebrews 12:1-4)

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