Stetson Bennett IV and Jesus

I didn’t believe the Georgia Bulldogs would beat the Alabama Crimson Tide to win the 2022 CFP National Championship. My disbelief in their ability to do so was not because Alabama had beaten them badly in the SEC Championship Game just over a month ago nor was it becasue I believed Alabama head coach Nick Saban to be some sort of magical coaching wizard incapable of losing to Georgia’s Kirby Smart.

I doubted Georgia’s ability to win because I doubted their quarterback.

Stetson Bennett IV, Georgia’s quarterback and the Championship Game Offensive MVP, is a former walk-on who grew up in Georgia and dreamt of playing for the Bulldogs. I’ve watched him play several times over the past couple of years and simply didn’t believe him capable of leading his team to victory in a game this big.

Georgia’s defense played wonderfully and they took advantage of key Alabama injuries, so clearly he didn’t do it alone. I didn’t think he would be able to do it at all. But he did it anyway, leading the Georgia Bulldogs to their first National Championship since 1980 with people doubting him all the way.

Disbelieving in someone’s ability to do something doesn’t mean he will be unable to do it. The collective disbelief of an innumerable amount of people is also incapable of determining his actual success in completing the unbelievable task. If people were stopped from accomplishing great things because of the disbelief of others, no great things would ever be accomplished.

Included in this is all that Jesus has done, is doing, and will do.

There no way this carpenter’s son from Nazareth is the Messiah. There’s no way He can raise Lazarus from the dead. There’s no way His death on the cross has any eternal significance. There’s no way He rose from the grave. There’s no way He still lives to make intercession for His people. There’s no way He is really coming back again.

Go ahead and disbelieve all of this if that’s your desire. Your disbelief does not in any way make all that Jesus has accomplished and will accomplish any less true.

Stetson Bennett IV is still a National Championship winning quarterback and Jesus Christ is still the King of Kings and Lord of Lords who conquered death, hell, and the grave by his sacrificial death and miraculous resurrection from the dead.

Doubting will do you no good.

Just Because

Me kicking

This picture was taken of me this past Friday night at Harriman HIgh School’s football game.. I was kicking for cash. This means I was one of two people chosen out of the audience to go onto the field at halftime to attempt a field goal for money. We could attempt the kick from wherever we wanted and if we hit the field we would receive $2 per yard. This includes the 10 yards of end zone.

Knowing my lack of kicking ability, I chose to kick the ball from the 5-yard-line.

I didn’t make the kick.

I didn’t win any money.

But I did get a consolation prize: a $10 Taco Bell gift card and the disrespect of my peers.

Did I (a 6′ 7”, 300-ish pound man) look stupid going out onto the field and missing a 5-yard-field goal? Did I embarrass myself, my family, my church, whoever by doing it?

I don’t know.

What I do know is that I don’t care.

Sometimes you have to do things you wouldn’t normally do. Sometimes you have to take a chance. Sometimes you have to put yourself in a position to possibly fail.

Why?

Just because.

And that should be a good enough answer for me and you to occasionally take risks.

And live.

What was the last somewhat silly thing you did…just because?

(Thanks to Melissa Coley for the picture!)

A Coach Named Butch

After flirting with a few other candidates, the University of Tennessee hired a coach last week.

A coach named Butch.

Butch Jones, formerly the coach of the Cincinnati Bearcats, is now the head coach of my beloved Volunteers. I listened to the impressive press conference introducing him, read several articles about him, and even began following him on Twitter (and he actually tweets). But the most impressive thing about him to me is his name.

Butch. The team I have followed since childhood has a coach named Butch.

Or as many around here have been spelling it: bUTch.

Yes, I know that his given name is Lyle. The only other Lyle I’ve ever heard of is Lyle Lovett and he was married to Julia Roberts. So–Lyle isn’t a bad name either.

But I’m glad he goes by Butch.

So, Butch, or Coach Jones, if you are reading this–welcome to Big Orange Country. I hope your stay here is filled with many wins, championships, good times, and the growth in character of the many young men who will pass through this storied program.

To everyone else, maybe you don’t like football in general or the University of Tennessee in particular. If that is the case I hope you like one thing…

That we have a coach named Butch. What a great name!

What do you think of the name “Butch?”
Are you a Vol fan? If not..why?

Replacing the Replacement Refs

I did not watch Monday Night Football this week…until the last 30 seconds.

In fact, I didn’t even know who was playing…until the last 30 seconds.

Climbing into bed I decided to turn the television on and check out what was on ESPN. What I ended up watching was one of the wildest/worst endings to a football game I have ever seen.

In case you haven’t heard, the Seattle Seahawks beat the Green Bay Packers on a last second touchdown pass that was really an interception. Two different officials ran in to make the deciding call; one of them signaled a touchdown for the Seahawks and the other was in the beginning stages of signaling for an  interception/touchback for the Packers.

The play was quickly put “under review” with the final result being a touchdown for the Seahawks even though everyone else (basically everyone on the planet except for Seattle Seahawks fans) knew that it was an interception.

This bad call in addition to the other bad calls I have seen/heard about recently by the replacement refs in the NFL have caused me to ponder who or what could possibly replace the replacement refs and do a better job. Here are a few ideas:

1. My kids. If there is one thing my kids like more than staying out of trouble it is getting each other in trouble. They have gotten used to looking for “fouls” and rarely miss anything. The only problem is a couple of them have the attention spans of over-caffeinated ferrets.

2. Santa Claus. He always knows who’s been bad or good. Plus, can you imagine Bill Belichick trying to intimidate Santa Claus? You can’t do it without smiling, can you?

3. No one. Anarchy on a field full of armored giants–what could go wrong?

4. The Jonas Brothers. I’m assuming they aren’t busy.

Okay, so that’s all I can come up with. Maybe you can do better in the comments.

But no matter who the refs are, they aren’t going to be perfect. They’re going to fail and fall short just like all fo the rest of us.

Just like the guy down the street who has lost his family because of his adultery. Just like your drug addicted cousin who you have written off as a lost cause. Just like you and me who have sinned against God and hurt others in the process.

No one is without sins and faults.

Except Jesus, the one we can turn to for forgiveness, help, and hope.

This is something I need to remember day after day.

Who/what are some other possible replacement refs for the replacement refs?

 

Tennessee Will Beat Alabama If……

On normal Fridays I post a poem here. This is not a normal Friday.  This is the Friday before the Tennessee-Alabama football game.

My father is a University of Tennessee Volunteers fan and he raised me to be one as well. This means that we spent every game-day Saturday of every Fall either watching or listening to Tennessee football games.  It also means that he taught me to love the color orange and to have a hearty dislike for Alabama. This dislike was not aimed at the whole state, just the university.

This was fine until….I married a woman from L.A. That’s right–Kristy is from Lower Alabama. Montgomery to be exact.

I knew a lot of jokes about Alabama; Kristy wasn’t fond of them. I talked about how silly it was for Alabama’s mascot to be an elephant; Kristy wasn’t amused. I enjoyed cheering for any team who played Alabama; Kristy wasn’t pleased.

Through the years, I have softened a little in my dislike for The Crimson Tide. Until they play the Vols.

So, what do I think about the game tomorrow?

Tennessee lost their 2 best defensive players before the season and their 2 best offensive players over the past few weeks. They are young and devoid of depth at pretty much every position. They have a head coach (Derek Dooley) who is hilarious, yet largely unproven. 

Alabama is ranked #2 in the country, should be ranked #1, and is my pick to win the National Championship. They have All-American caliber players at pretty much every position and All-American caliber players backing them up. They have a running back (Trent Richardson) who makes defenses look silly on a consistent basis, a defense that is as ferocious as any I have ever seen, and a coach (Nick Saban) who is arguably the best college football coach of the past decade.

Even with all that being said, I believe that Tennessee will beat Alabama tomorrow if…

1. Nick Saban turns into Nick Nolte. Or Nick Jonas. Or Nick Faldo. Or Nicholas Cage. Or Nick Patel (a guy I knew back in high school). Or any other guy named Nick. But if Nick Saban remains Nick Saban it doesn’t look good for the Vols.

2. The Alabama football teams eats at Golden Corral before the game. Every time I eat at Golden Corral I get sick and I assume everyone else does, too. So if The Tide eats there before the game they will be too busy running to the bathroom to run over, around, and through the Vols.

3. Saturday is opposite day. This happens in cartoons sometimes, so why not in real life.

4. An Alabama defensive player hits one of Tennessee’s players so hard that it causes the stadium to implode. If this happens, I bet Tennessee would win by forfeit.

None of these things are likely to happen, but I will still be pulling for Tennessee to win.

But what if they don’t? What if they get beat worse than they have ever been beaten? What if the loss is so traumatic that their confidence is crushed and they lose every game the rest of the season? What if Tennessee never wins another football game–EVER?

I will still have joy.

My joy is not dependent upon what a group of 18-22 year old guys do on Saturday afternoons, it is based upon what Jesus did one Friday by paying the price for my sin and one Sunday by rising from the dead.

I am a fan of Tennessee Football, but a follower of Jesus. May I never confuse the two.

Which team is “your” team?
Have you ever let your joy be determined by a team or a game?

Caption Contest Monday: Beauty and the Beast

She's a beauty--he really wasn't a beast

This picture is from 2007 when we lived in Oakdale, TN (a very small town northwest of Knoxville). We enjoyed living there–the area is beautiful and the people friendly.

And they love football. So much that they start them out at 4 years old in full pads.

This is a picture of Noelle and Bradley at Homecoming. Noelle won Homecoming Queen for her age group and Bradley was her escort.

She was a beauty and I tried to get Bradley to play like a beast.

They both look happy in the picture, but what are they really thinking.

As always, the person with the best will receive my gratitude and a virtual fist bump.

Have fun and stay safe!

***************************************************

The winner and recipient of my gratitude and a #fistbump is…..

MOE!

“Noelle: I look better in red.
Bradley: I look better in red.
Girl bending over behind them: I look better in red shorts
Matt taking photo: I look better in red.”

Four Reasons to Love Fall

It’s FALL! Glorious FALL! Beautiful FALL!

There are no other seasons like it. Except maybe Spring  a little because of the similarities in temperature. And some Summer nights can be Fall-like. And occasionally there will be a mild stretch of weather in the Winter that is similar to Fall as well.

Maybe the other seasons are somewhat similar to Fall. But Fall is still better.

Here are four alliterated reasons why (I’m still a pastor at heart–alliteration is what we do):

1. Flannel. After a long, flannel-less Summer, flannel makes a come back. I wore my first flannel shirt of the season on Saturday. It was like wearing happiness. I don’t know what fabric the Shroud of Turin is made out of, but since it was left behind I can guarantee it wasn’t flannel.

2. Football. When I think of Fall, I think of football. There is nothing like watching big, fat guys a few cheeseburgers away from full-blown heart disease pushing on each other while smaller, quicker guys try to move the football past other smaller, quicker guys. In my more lucid moments I can see the silliness of it all, but it still gets my heart rate up when I watch it. And for me, that counts as exercise.

3. Foliage. I’m a 6’7”, 300lb man. Who just happens to love pretty colors. I like looking at pretty colors, not wearing them. My wardrobe features various shades of brown. But I do enjoy seeing the leaves change color and the dramatic differences from one week to the next are often breathtaking.

And the most important reason I like Fall is….

4. Faith.

I was born in Fall–October 7th to be exact. While this is important, there is something even more important that took place during this season.

I was born again in Fall. For some reason, I always have a hard time remembering the exact date. So I usually have to look it up.  It happened on the night of the Presidential Election in 1988. The elder George Bush won that night, but I consider myself an even bigger winner. Because of Jesus, I gained victory over sin and death.

In addition, I submitted to God’s call on my life to preach in Fall. That was in 1997. There have been a few heartaches as I have tried to honor the Savior by proclaiming the Gospel, but the blessings here and those in the life to come are far greater.

While flannel, football, and foliage are good reasons to like this season, it is  what has happened to me in the realm of faith that really makes Fall stand out above the rest.

I was born in Fall, born again  in Fall, and answered the call to preach in Fall.

And all of those things happened because of God’s good sovereignty.

I love Fall, but I love God even more.

What is your favorite season and why?
What is your favorite fabric? And if it isn’t flannel–what’s wrong with you?