Spiritual Encouragement from Unlikely Places… At times it is fun to discover God working in parts of our culture on which we have given up. One of those places is professional football. We hear so much about domestic violence in players families, drug abuse that sidelines a player or DUIs, or over-the-top materialism.
However, God is at work in every part of our culture, including the NFL. Though the media crops some things out, you can still see glimpses of players trying to give God the glory after a great game-changing play or of the end-of-the-game prayer huddle between members of opposing teams out in the middle of the field.
A number of the top quarterbacks this season have stellar testimonies, including former U of A player Nick Foles. Besides being an amazing “back up” QB leading his team into the playoffs. he is attending seminary through Liberty University online with a goal of being a pastor in a high school: When I speak to (students), that’s such a time of young men and young women’s lives that there’s a lot of things that are thrown at them. So much temptation in this world, so much going on with social media and the Internet that you want to talk to them and address it, and share all the weaknesses I have because I’ve fallen many times,” Foles added. “It’s something I want to do. I can’t play football forever. I’ve been blessed with an amazing platform and it’s just a door God has opened, but I still have a lot of school left and a long journey.”
Prince Amukamara who played with the Chicago Bears this year, formerly played for the New York Giants and won a Super Bowl ring with the team in 2011. After the victory he was seen pointing to heaven in praise. He is also unashamed to share how his faith and relationship with Jesus Christ has transformed his life: “I am a virgin, I’m not ashamed to say that,” Amukamara said. “I grew up Catholic, so it just started out as one of those things. I’d think, ‘If I do this, maybe I can get to heaven,’ so I had no drinks, no sex, all the big things. As I grew up, I realized that’s not what it’s about. It’s not about ‘Don’t do this or don’t do that… It’s about having relationship with Jesus.”    
 
Many players are well known for their faith, like Tim Tebow. Others are more obscure. Aaron Rodgers said, “I grew up knowing what a stable relationship was by my parents’ example and how it centered on Christ. When our family had its up and downs, I knew my parents relied on God for everything and He always got us through those rough spots.” “I feel like my stance and my desire has always been to follow a quote from St. Francis of Assisi, who said, ‘Preach the Gospel at all times. If necessary, use words.’”
Pedestals Can Be Perilous Perches… When my children were young, we paid attention to the Christian testimonies of various prominent people, but always with a big grain of salt. I taught my children that fame does not protect anyone; it makes them more vulnerable. Famous people are often hit with extra temptations, not the least of which is pride. I said, “We shouldn’t put people up on pedestals to be viewed as better than anyone else.” Also, if an athlete or singer is well known for their Christian testimony, it is all the more reason to pray for their protection so that the testimony remains unstained. 
Nevertheless, our children can see that they are not the only ones to believe in Jesus. There are others unafraid to follow Jesus even if it means being ridiculed for their faith. Some are a clear example of how to use the talents God has given each of us as a way to do all for the glory of God.
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