Friday, December 28, 2007

Pray for Tom Brady

Several people have contacted me off line about my response to Tom Brady's comments in his recent 60 Minutes interview and have promised to pray for him. Since New England is playing Saturday night for an undefeated season, and doing so in front of what could be a record setting television audience, this seems to be a great opportunity to pray concertedly for him. If you watch the game, ask the Lord to stir him up to keep seeking the answers to his questions and to give him no rest until he comes to rest in the Lord Jesus Christ, his Savior.

Encourage others to join in the effort. May the Lord put people in his life that will guide him that is found in knowing Jesus (Matthew 13:44).

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Sunday, December 23, 2007

Tom Brady, your questions have answers

Tom Brady, the 3-time Super Bowl champion quarterback of the New England Patriots was featured the week in a 60 Minutes interview with Steve Kroft on CBS. Brady is already a sports legend in one of the citadels of professional sports in America, Boston. His current team is 15-0 and is poised to finish the season undefeated, something that hasn't been done in the NFL in 35 years. He has won the Super Bowl MVP twice and been named to the Pro Bowl 4 times. He also was recently named the Associated Press' "Male Athlete of the Year."

He has dated actresses and supermodels and makes millions of dollars a year. He has been called America's most eligible bachelor. By most popular standards, he has it all. That is why I was struck by hearing him make the following statement during the interview:
"Why do I have three Super Bowl rings and still think there's something greater out there for me? I mean, maybe a lot of people would say, 'Hey man, this is what is.' I reached my goal, my dream, my life. Me, I think, 'God, it's got to be more than this.' I mean this isn't, this can't be what it's all cracked up to be."
When Kroft asked him, "What's the answer?" Brady responded, "I wish I knew. I wish I knew. I love playing football and I love being quarterback for this team. But at the same time, I think there are a lot of other parts about me that I'm trying to find."

Here is what I would say to Tom Brady, if given the chance to discuss this with him.

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Tom, I appreciate your honesty in admitting on national TV that Super Bowl championships and Pro Bowl appearances do not ultimately satisfy what you long for from somewhere deep inside. What you feel is not unique. And your questions really do have answers. Others have asked them throughout history. Many have found the answer in what God has revealed in the Bible.

Augustine, an African Christian leader from the 5th century is an example. During his years of pursuing sensual pleasure and knowledge, he experienced that longing for something more that you described. Later, as he reflected on it, he expressed it like this in a prayer, "Lord, you made us for yourself and our hearts are restless until they rest in you."

The 17th century mathematician, Blaise Pascal, also understood this longing and wrote about it in his famous, Pensees. "All men seek happiness...without exception," he wrote. "Whatever different means they employ, they all tend to this end. The cause of some going to war, and of others avoiding it, is the same desire in both, attended with different views. The will never takes the least step but to this object. This is the motive of every action of every man, even of those who hang themselves."

That is why you play football. You, like every other person, are on a quest for happiness. Like very few people, you have experienced all the happiness that the pinnacle of success in your field can offer. Yet, like everyone else, you have discovered that such happiness is fleeting. As Pascal goes on to explain, that is the inevitable result of every quest that does not recognize that God himself is the only object that can fill the emptiness that we all experience.

One of the books in the Bible specifically addresses the futility of trying to find satisfaction apart from God. Ecclesiastes says that everything is "vanity." Solomon, the author, pursued wisdom, knowledge, success and pleasure, but nothing could ultimately satisfy. Yet the quest to find satisfaction is inevitable because, as he put it, God "has put eternity into man's heart" (Ecclesiastes 3:11).

So, the reason that your 3 Super Bowl rings leave you thinking that there is still something greater out there for you is because there is. You were made for something far greater than football, wealth, fame and success. You were made for God.

Genesis 1 and 2 teaches us that God made people in his own image. Originally, men and women were in a joyful and harmonious relationship with their Creator. But, as Genesis 3 tells us, that peaceful relationship did not last. The first man, Adam, disobeyed God with the result that the whole human race became separated from God and liable to His judgment.

The Bible calls this disobedience, sin. And sin has left every person spiritually opposed to God. So, our predicament is this--we were made by God, for God. Yet, we are no longer able to know and enjoy God because our sin has separated us from him. That leaves us in a spiritually lost condition. Our only hope is to be rescued.

That is exactly what God did by sending his Son, Jesus Christ, into the world. Jesus came on a search and rescue mission. He came to reconcile people to God. And he accomplished this mission by living on earth as a representative of sinners like you and me. Though he had all kinds of opportunity and lots of pressure to disobey God, he never did. He lived the kind of life of complete obedience to God that you and I are obligated to live. Then, in an act of incredible love and sacrifice, he stood before God a substitute for any and all sinners who are willing to trust him as Lord. He exchanged his life for theirs by enduring God's wrath against sin in his death on the cross. That is what enables God to forgive us of our sins.

Jesus put it like this: "The Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost” (Luke 19:10). And this: "The Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many” (Mark 10:45). Jesus was born in order to save people who are lost. And he has accomplished that salvation by giving up his life on the cross.

When God raised Jesus from the dead after 3 days, it was a clear demonstration that everything Jesus came to accomplish had been achieved. By his life, death and resurrection, a way has been opened for God's fallen image-bearers to be brought back into a life-changing relationship with their Creator. That is the meaning of one of the best-known verses in the Bible, John 3:16, "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life."

The key, then, for us, is faith. We must place our trust in Jesus Christ. That means that we must bow to him as Lord, commit ourselves to him and become his followers. When you trust Christ you receive eternal life here and now. You come to experience life that is abundant and full of joy (John 10:10; 15:11).

You see, there is more to life than great success. There is God. Until you come to know him, your heart will never be satisfied, no matter how many Super Bowls you win. So, keep being honest with yourself. Keep thinking about the "something more" that you have been created for. And go read your Bible to discover for yourself what that something is. When you find it, humble yourself before Jesus Christ, and become his follower. Trust Him. Ask him to make you right with God.

Then, and only then, will your heart find the rest that it craves.

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