On November 28th, I was privileged to attend the Baylor vs. Texas Tech football game, played in the new Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas. Almost 72,000 fans were there. Whether or not you enjoy football, I would highly recommend that you visit the stadium if you have an opportunity.
Gary Watkins and I attended OBU together from 1969 to 1973. Gary has worked for Mitsubishi for over 30 years. Here are a few quick facts: 1) the stadium cost was around $1.2 Billion. The Mitsubishi TV screens were around $30 million, not counting installation costs, which is more than the entire cost of the first Cowboys' stadium! The screens weigh over 1 million pounds. I was amazed at the video clarity and detail.
As we were entering the stadium, I told my children Wil and Ruth that we would see some of the best that the "world" has to offer. It's nice to enjoy festive events and material things, but I think there are several "take-aways" from our trip:
1) Christians should do things first class also. If we want to tell others about Jesus, we shouldn't have a "garage sale" mentality. Now that doesn't mean that we compromise our message, but it does mean that we recognize that the God we serve owns everything, and if He calls us to do something, He will also show us how to pay for it. (Maybe that means we need to listen more often and more closely to be sure of what He's calling us to do!)
2) When we use material things as tools to help us share the gospel, we need to remember the 2nd Commandment and worship the Giver, not the gifts. My mentor Ray Lyne taught me to remember that people are always more important than "stuff."
3) Even in a professional sports event, people can make mistakes.
Below is an excerpt from my book, Today's WORD on Money™. I believe it will give many of you some good information,should you ever share the gospel with someone who recognizes that Christians are still human.
Christmas Day-Today's WORD on Money™: When Athletes Drop the Ball
In these times of "Political Correctness," some people are almost afraid to say the words "Merry Christmas." I believe that this type of persecution exists in part because of a double standard. Join us for a Christmas Day sports analogy.
I enjoy sports. I grew up playing baseball, basketball, and golf. Nowadays I do a variety of exercises including walking and lifting weights, in order to take good care of the physical body, or temple, that God gave me. And as a spectator, I especially enjoy watching basketball (Sic 'em, Bears and Ka-Rip, Bison . . . Zip! Bang! OBU!). But I believe that a simple sports analogy can help many Christians explain to skeptics how believers put their faith into practice. This analogy is especially helpful when someone tells you they can't follow Jesus because of all the "hypocrites"-you know, the people who call themselves Christians, but who sometimes don't act like Jesus Christ.
Anyone who enjoys sports knows that even the best athletes make mistakes. I've seen both Little League and Big League baseball players drop fly balls. I've seen NBA players call time out when there were no time outs left to call. I've seen NFL wide receivers drop a pass when no defenders were anywhere near them. So here's my question: when these players drop the ball or make mistakes, should their mistakes invalidate their sport? Should we judge a sport according to the degree of perfection that it's played, and if it's not played perfectly, should we then abolish the sport?
Obviously the answer is no. Just because a mistake was made, it does not follow that the game is flawed, or that we cannot enjoy playing or watching a game. We may enjoy it less if our team loses, especially if they lose because of making too many mistakes, but I've not yet heard of someone calling for an end to the game of basketball, even if their team played horribly. So why do we as Christians allow critics of our faith to disparage Christianity just because Christians are not perfect?
Next time you hear someone use the word "hypocrite," ask them if they like sports. If they don't, you can use analogies from many other disciplines. For example, if someone makes a mistake in math, do they stop counting? If they make a bad financial decision, do they stop using money? If you have a bad experience at a restaurant, do you stop eating?
Now please understand, I'm not saying it's OK to "let go" and yield to every selfish urge that comes your way. As Paul said in Romans 6, just because we're forgiven by the grace of God does not give us a license to sin. But I am saying that we should not allow someone to condemn us with a false standard that they would never apply to any other area of our lives or theirs. When we evaluate Christianity, Jesus' life alone should be our "measuring stick."
On this day when we celebrate the birth of our Lord and Savior Jesus the Christ, and in the coming years, may you truly experience the Peace on Earth and the Goodwill toward People that only Jesus' birth, life, death and resurrection can give you.
Please visit our updated website, www.todayswordonmoney.com. We've added a "Shows" tab so that you can listen to mp3's of our weekly radio broadcasts. And be sure to let us know if there is a topic or a guest that you would like us to feature on our shows, or in this newsletter.
Finally, as my friend Dan Stratton says, may 2010 be your best year yet-not your best year ever, but your best yet!
Steve, Anna, Wil, Ruth and Sara Sappington