Peace Under Pressure

Great Under Pressure

stormThere have been several NFL quarterbacks who have performed brilliantly throughout their careers and distinguished themselves as elite quarterbacks during their era of play. One such quarterback is Joe Montana who led the San Francisco 49ers to four Super Bowl wins. Joe had many great qualities as a quarterback and one of them was his ability to stay cool in tense situations, especially when his team was behind in the 4th quarter. There were 31 occasions in which Joe Montana led the 49ers to come from behind in the 4th quarter  to win. Continue reading Peace Under Pressure

Growth and Improvement

Not Very Good

ping pong

One of my favorite indoor activities to play when I was growing up was ping pong (or table tennis if you insist on being proper). I had several friends that I played ping pong with and I could totally lose myself in rally after rally if I was playing against a good player. However,  some of my friends weren’t that good and the rallies were slow, short, and disjointed due to lack of ping pong skills. One such friend in my earlier years was Randy. He would watch the ball as it came towards him and swat at it. Sometimes he hit it, sometimes he didn’t. If he did hit it, it was often a wild shot that ricocheted off the wall or the ceiling. Randy wasn’t very good, at least not in the beginning.

I personally thought that I would always be better than Randy; much better. However, Randy eventually got his own ping pong table and played a lot of ping pong, a whole lot. At some point when I was in high school, I went over to Randy’s house to play him and was shocked at how much better he had become. I still had the edge on him skill wise, but it was a small edge. I remember playing him again a year or two later. By that time he had improved even more and I was totally victimized by his smashes. He hit with so much velocity that I could barely even see the ball. Not only that, it was as though there was a magnet on the corner edge of the table that attracted the ball in the perfect place that made it impossible to return. I was helpless and embarrassed.

Vast Improvement

Six years earlier Randy showed no aptitude for ping pong at all. My prediction for his future success was that he would never be very good. I thought he could improve, but I couldn’t foresee that he would reach the invincible level that he reached. His example didn’t fit my paradigm of the way improvement works. I knew anyone could improve some, but I had no idea that hard work and practice could help someone improve that much.

Growth Takes Whole Hearted Devotion

I can’t help but think that if God created people with the ability to vastly improve their ability at something like ping pong, that he would create his children with the ability to grow and mature in their faith in him. I’m not talking about the kind of growth and spiritual improvement that comes from just showing up at church on Sunday. Randy wouldn’t have improved much if he had just shown up to watch ping pong once per week and occasionally hit a few volleys back and forth with another player. I’m sure he often played several hours a week and that he was very focused and intense while playing and practicing.

I know there is a part of the Bible that makes the Christian faith seem easy. You can’t get away from the fact that God made salvation a free gift and that we are saved by his grace, not by works or effort. On the other hand, there is another aspect of the Christian faith that does require our effort if we want to grow and mature. The bible says in Jeremiah 29:13, “You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.” This does not impress me as a half-hearted pursuit that is done when it feels convenient. Entering into close intimacy with God is the type of thing that requires us to be sold out to God.

Making the Effort to Grow Close to God

We can all ask ourselves if we are stuck at the beginner level in our Christian faith, or if we are daily seeking to grow in the Lord. There are many things that we can grow and improve at in life, but none are as important as our relationship with God. Don’t buy into the lie that some people are just naturally more spiritual without having to work at it. God has given us all access to him through prayer. Most of us have access to his Word so that we can learn more about him and most of us can find others who can teach us and help us grow closer to God. If it’s possible to improve at skills, games, and earthly pursuits, God will make it all the more possible to grow close to him if we earnestly seek him.

                     

Healthy Fear

fearUse good form when you exercise with weights. Make sure you warm-up before you start to lift heavy. Train within your ability and don’t overdo it with too much training. Be careful not to attempt heavy lifts when doing exercises that your body isn’t familiar with. These are principles that anyone who lifts weights should abide by in order to avoid injury. Did I follow these principles? Sometimes I did, but sometimes I didn’t. At one point in my training, I violated every one of these principles, and I paid for it with an agonizing back injury. Continue reading Healthy Fear

Divine Setup

Volleyball Strategy

spikeWhen you watch younger kids play volleyball, they generally have one basic strategy; hit the ball over the net. As they progress in age and skill level, they eventually get to the point where they can manage a bump or a set to a teammate before the ball is hit across the net to the other team. Of course the standard strategy for advanced volley players is generally, bump, set, spike. Continue reading Divine Setup

Spiritual Senses and Faith

Exceptional

pole vaultCharlotte Brown is one of the best girl’s high school pole vaulters in the country. She recently cleared eleven feet six inches, which is a rare thing among high school girls. Anyone who watches her knows that she is exceptional. This would be true of any girl who can pole vault eleven feet six inches, but what makes it even more exceptional is that Charlotte is legally blind. Continue reading Spiritual Senses and Faith

Artificial or Real?

bench pressMost people know that weight training will help them to become stronger, but they may not understand some of the physiological reactions that cause an increase of strength. What generally happens when a person works out with weights is that their body makes physiological adaptations in order to help them lift the same weights easier. Some of these adaptations are due to a release of anabolic hormones.  These hormones help the body to utilize more nutrients from the food that is ingested. Some of these hormones consist of testosterone, growth hormone, insulin growth factor 1, and increased insulin sensitivity. The increase of these hormones after a workouts will cause muscles to store more energy and to synthesize protein tissue, which increases the size and strength of the muscle fibers. Continue reading Artificial or Real?

A Perfect Record

A Perfect Record

perfect

Two of boxing’s greatest fighters recently stepped into the ring to square off against one another for a long anticipated fight. At the end of the fight between Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao, Mayweather came out victorious and was able to retain his undefeated status across a span of 48 fights. When it comes to being undefeated, the closer any athlete gets to the top, the tougher the competition becomes and the harder it is to remain undefeated. Occasionally, an athlete or a team manages to pull off a perfect record throughout a whole season, but it’s rare in any major sport at the professional level. Continue reading A Perfect Record

Accepting the Truth

truthAccepting the Truth

Paul Hoover of Pro Shot Shooting Systems is fascinated with how the best shooters shoot a basketball. He has taken the time to study videos of the shooting technique of every NBA player. He especially studies the best shooters in detail and has come to the conclusion that he hates some of the common coaching cues. One such example is “square up to the basket,” which means to face straight at the basket when preparing to shoot. In spite of this common coaching advice, Hoover says it just doesn’t hold true in regard to the way that most of the best players shoot, they usually turn their shoulder and hip at angle towards the basket. Continue reading Accepting the Truth