“I Broke Up with the NFL” by John Bevere

cowboys

Between appointments and church events, it’s been a little more difficult to find the time to write my own articles. In the mean time, I keep coming across some good articles by other authors that hopefully will bless you!  I’m not a sports fan, but this article is not meant to bash those who are!  Whether you’re a cowboys fan or a Detroit Lions fan like my husband, the principle of loyalty is still very important in our walk with God.  Read on! – Christa

In Colossians 3:1–­2, the apostle Paul instructs us to set our minds on the things of God. This is vital. Setting our minds on anything else will lead us to seek lesser pleasures at the expense of intimacy with our Creator. I know this because I’ve experienced it firsthand.

Years ago, I served on staff at a church in Dallas. At the time, the Cowboys were one of the best teams in the NFL. I wasn’t much of a fan, but I heard the other guys talking about the Cowboys every Monday. Out of curiosity, I began watching their games.

It started innocently enough. But after time, my interest became stronger. I didn’t miss a game. Even in the offseason my coworkers and I talked about how great the Cowboys would be the next year. I thought about the team quite often, even when I wasn’t discussing stats with the guys.

I became a full-blown fan. But then, a couple seasons later, something happened. I’d prayed something I thought was insignificant. “Lord,” I said, “I ask that You would purify my heart. If there’s anything in my life not pleasing to You, expose and remove it.”

As the football season came to a close, the Cowboys had a crucial game against the Philadelphia Eagles. The winner would go to the playoffs and the loser was out. With only eight minutes left in the game, we were behind by four points and moving down the field.

All of a sudden, the Spirit of God prompted me to pray. Lisa was not within earshot, so I said out loud, “Lord, there are only eight minutes left in this game. I’ll pray when it’s over.”

The urge continued. After a few minutes, I exclaimed, “Lord, I’ll pray for five hours when this game is over. There are only six minutes left!” I just knew the Cowboys would come back and win.

I continued to ignore the burden to pray for the rest of the game. The Cowboys won! I joined in the crowd’s jubilation.

I had made a promise to God, so I turned off the TV and went upstairs to my office. I closed the door and knelt down to pray. But the urge was no longer present, and my words were stale and flat.

It didn’t take long for me to realize what had happened. I had chosen the game over God’s request. I moaned, “God, if anyone asked me, ‘Who is more important in your life, God or the Dallas Cowboys?’ I would without hesitation respond, ‘God, of course!’ I just showed who was more important. Please forgive me!”

I immediately heard in my heart, “Son, I don’t want your sacrifice of five hours of prayer. I desire obedience.”

My prayer to be purified had been answered, and that day changed my life. I pulled back from watching football and refocused on God.

The words of James describe what had happened:
 

…Your loyalty is divided between God and the world.
James 4:8 NLT
 
Loyalty is identified by the decisions we make, not merely by the words we speak. There are plenty of people who claim to be loyal, but their actions prove otherwise. Our actions are a higher level of communication than our words.

You may wonder, does this mean I shouldn’t watch professional sports? Should I not partake of anything the world consumes? No. That’s like saying a married man can never interact with a woman other than his wife. But we protect our covenants by keeping our affections in the right place. We don’t flirt or date around.

I still enjoy football, although it’s hard to keep my interest up for a full game. The passion is just not there the way it used to be. My affections lie with God.

At times, other things have gotten out of place in my life. Golf, food, movies, and even the work of the ministry are a few of the things I’ve had to address and sometimes cut off for a season to get my affections back in the proper place. Breaking up with these things can be hard to do, but it’s always been worth it.

Does my experience with the Cowboys remind you of anything in your life? If so, I encourage you to pray:

Father, in the name of Jesus, I ask that You would search me and know me, that You would examine my ways and motives. If there is anything in my life that is replacing my affections and love for You, please expose it by Your Spirit. I’m leaving nothing covered. I want to be one who embraces self-denial for the purpose of following, serving, and knowing You. I ask this in Jesus’s name. Amen.

Article by John Bevere, 2015

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