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Everyone loves a winner…

Well, maybe not the Celtics… I am a Philadelphia sports fan through and throughEagles, Flyers, Phillies, Union, and 76ers. I may not have grown up in Philadelphia, but I have become a fan of the sports in my adopted city. Last night I gave a passing glance at the Celtics’ victory in the NBA finals because they are my brother’s favorite team. Don’t ask me how a guy who grew up living all over the country but never in Boston, and now lives in VA, somehow became a Boston fan. But his life-long devotion to the Celtics gave him the joy of victory last night. The Celtics’ win was a historic 18th NBA Championship. Even I celebrated, because everyone loves a winner…

I often flip to the Phillies game… perhaps a few innings into the game… to see how they are doing. If our bats look lively and our pitching solid, I am willing to give a little of my ‘precious’ time to cheer them on. But if those bats go cold, or our relievers fail to hold the opposition off the bases, I am quick to turn the channel or choose an early end to the evening. Thankfully, the Phillies lead the National League with 48 wins and only 24 losses- 6 games over the Braves. Right now, we are breathing the rarified air of baseball success, sharing company with such teams as the New York Yankees, the Los Angeles Dodgers, and the Baltimore Orioles. Yet the season is young… there are still three and a half months of play with 90 games to go. Will our bats and pitching hold up for the season? I am a fickle fan, but a hopeful fickle fan… perhaps this will be the year that I will love our Phillies all the way!

Last night, I missed the Phillies’ blow-out against the Padres in favor of a movie- Boys in the Boat- that lived up to the hype given it by many of our members. The movie tells the story of the Washington Huskies crew team that made it all the way to the 1936 Olympics in Berlin. They were the underdogs, boys who had not grown up with Ivy League privilege, but were scrappy and willing to sacrifice all for the team. Watching them win was a lesson in courage and determination. They rallied a nation behind them. Their win over the seasoned crew teams of Germany and Italy, proved that winning takes more than talent, it requires determination and team dedication. Winning the gold at that Olympics was even sweeter in the shadow of Nazi banners. Even though everyone loves a winner, I would imagine that Hitler was less than pleased that his boys in his boat lost to our junior team. But all the rest of us can love the winner!

Winning is the goal in life, or at least that is what we are taught from a young age. Get the grades, win the game, succeed… succeed … succeed. We celebrate winners while losers fade into obscurity. So… we want to be winners. We want our children to be winners. We want to be associated with the winning team. Unfortunately, our children see the strategies employed by the adults around them, and too often they learn to succeed at all costs. The competition known as US politics perhaps offers the worst examples of behavior on the field of competition. Yet, we still cheer on our favorites- bad behavior and all… because we want them to win. Everyone loves a winner.

But next week, at Lenape Valley, a different approach will be modeled. Our children will gather for a Christian sports camp called Push the Rock, whose vision is “Using the power of sports to impact the world for Jesus, one life at a time”. During the week our children will meet the One who is the ‘solid rock’ on which we stand. They will learn Christian sportsmanship that puts the person above the win. I love to watch our co-ed, multi-age teams care for each other, and value their opponents, even while they strive for excellence on the field. The Push the Rock coaches model the way of Philippians 2:3-4.
Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit.
Rather, in humility value others above yourselves,
not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.
At the end of the week, the team with the most points will win, but most of those points are earned by playing with Christian sportsmanship, and the player who models Christian sportsmanship will be the one honored. Imagine what our world would look like if we celebrated those who look more like Jesus- humble, meek, sacrificial. Do we look like him? Do we teach our children the way of grace? This week at Lenape Valley, we will welcome a Push the Rock kind of world!

With you cheering on the way of grace,
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