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The Games we Play

DSCF0018b_SnapseedOn the heels of an amazing Wimbleton final between Sweden’s Roger Federer and Serbia’s Novak Djokovic; and as World Cup competition begins to move toward a final crowning in Rio, I’m once again trying to weigh the global fascination with sport and competition.

It could be that the examples I’m looking at are of little interest to most of the world who have no access to the media, hype, or moment by moment calls on what nation, team, or person gets the recognition of being better or best on any given day.

But who can deny that, at all levels of life, the games we play say something about the universal, ongoing struggle not only for survival, but for tokens of personal betterment and glory, brief as it may be?

Is it possible that, in ways and for reasons words like this don’t begin to capture, sport touches a nerve of spirituality that is rooted in Something, and Someone who deserves the recognition of better, best, and worthy of all attention, praise, and endless comment?

If nature is a form of divine revelation,  is it possible that the endless games we play also speak not only to the truth about our human nature, but of and about the truth we were made for?

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81 Responses to “The Games we Play”

  1. SFDBWV says:

    “Idle hands are the devil’s workshop.”

    I don’t know who came up with that comment, but it sticks around because it can be true.

    Of a certainty I can and will only be speaking of my own feelings, so please give me the curtesy of allowing me my own opinion.

    There seems, in my mind, to be a difference between “sports” and “games”.

    There are plenty of activities one can use to fill idle time, idle time because where there is also time most of us devote to *work*, we all need to relax from it.

    If any of you know farming, what a farmer has is a full day of work that starts before dawn and ends at bedtime, there is little time left for anything else, it is a 7 day 365 days a year job.

    Some such people spend their *idle* time sleeping, or thinking of ways to make their work easier or better productive. They actually *make* time for church or social activities.

    Games and sports are left to children in order to prepare them for adulthood.

    When a person grows up, it is time to act like an adult and put childish things away.

    In this world today people have the luxury of working little for as much money as they can get. Making money worth less and providing too much time for *play*. Spoiled and lazy they are always trying to fill up their *idle* time with something that satisfies, never getting enough.

    Ok I am starting to sound too harsh, sorry.

    Games such as Mart has pictured are a distraction from work and the toils of life, a momentary time out if you will, but they are not life and death.

    Sports on a level Mart has mentioned as the “World Cup” and “Wimbleton” are taken far too serious and somewhere in the frenzy of spectator activity it is forgotten that it is supposed to be for relaxation, not life or death.

    Yes Mart I believe that the “endless games we play” speak “to the truth about our human nature”, but I think *not* “about the truth we were made for.”


  2. saled says:

    This topic reminds me of the song “Because we Believe” performed at the closing of the 2006 Winter Olypics by Andrea Bocelli.

    Once in every life there comes a time
    We walk out all alone and into the light
    The moment won’t last but then
    We remember it again
    When we close our eyes.

    Like stars across the sky
    We were born to shine
    All of us here
    because we believe.

    Remember the 1970’s best seller Jonathan Livingston Seagull? Jonathan believed that the most important thing in living was to reach out and touch perfection in that which you most love to do.

    Sports and games are motivational, they give us a chance to try our best, be that for love of the game, for glory, or both. Maybe Steve is right and they are for children, but the value that I see for all ages is that we are given the inspiration to try, to strive and do our best.Could this be a piece of that ‘nerve of spirituality’ that Mart mentioned?

  3. armando1961 says:

    Good day and blessings to all, interesting points raised by everybody so far, not least by Mart himself. If I can contribute anything to the discussion, I think that there’s something in human nature that invariably impels us to seek the divine as soon as the first inkling of rational thought creeps in, in every culture, no matter how primitive, in every time and place, but the first truly transcendent insights into God’s true nature –omnipotence, omniscience, immanence and so on and so forth– were only revealed relatively late in human development, through Biblical Revelation. Only then did we humans stop thinking in terms of “gods” and began thinking in terms of a “God” or more specifically “the God” of the Bible. I, for one, can only explain it as part of the divine plan, to reveal God to humanity in God’s own way, in God’s own time.

  4. remarutho says:

    Good Morning Mart & Friends —

    Am struck by the game of backgammon played beside a large steel door with locks on the inside. Are these players workers after a day of laboring — or…? The sports you mention are highly active and competitive, Mart: The World Cup and the matches at Wimbledon. Yet, games discussed in your post, “The Games We Play,” are more sublime by far. Why the board game in the illustration?

    Saw a program about kyackers who hike in 5 miles with their equipment to paddle a hidden river (the Salmon) for sport. These are people who paddle about 200 days a year. They attest to their passion for the sport — and for experiencing it at the most extreme. One fellow, now 35 years old, said, “I know my time to kyack in this way is limited, so I am looking to have all the challenge I can.”

    The Apostle Paul used sport metaphors for the struggle of sharing the gospel message. (1 Cor 9: 24, 25, 26, 27) Paul relinquished much prestige — and probably much profit — in order to take up the challenge of living full-out for Jesus. His passion for winning the “imperishable wreath” drove him to focus mightily on the race of a life devoted to God.


  5. SFDBWV says:

    Maru I too wondered if the men in Mart’s photo weren’t *locked up* as well.

    Just wanted to add that for each of us to do the best we can at whatever we do isn’t a game or a sport as the only person we compete against is ourselves.

    We can strive to be the best, but to set and watch someone else strive to be the best eludes me as any form of accomplishment.


  6. remarutho says:

    Yes, Steve, the locks are on their side (the inside I believe) of the big door. Do they have the keys to the locks? It is very curious. Perhaps Mart will shed some light on the circumstance of the photo. Backgammon is played everywhere now, though it originated in the Ancient Near East, I think.

  7. quietgrace says:

    Very interesting Mart that you would tie sports/competition to God/Godliness. The glory is very similar in many ways. You’ve got me thinking….could some things such as sport/competitions be not only brought into the world by God, but showing us God’s playing field, the earth, is so much more than we imagine it to be? Hmmmm. Still thinking. Interesting.

    I have never really enjoyed sports and felt they were too competitive for my personality, but now I have a whole different perspective. Wow! Thanks Mart!

  8. remarutho says:

    I mean kayak, not kyack. That is something else, I believe — something about packs on beasts of burden. Maru

  9. armando1961 says:

    I think that the whole thing about using sports/games terms and imagery as a template or substitute (on some level) for the challenges faced by those who try to lead godly lives is very interesting, perhaps not always appropriate in every last detail, but there are definite parallels and there is also a sound scriptural basis for the comparison (as those who have quoted the Apostle Paul have already pointed out).

  10. poohpity says:

    Mart, I can remember a couple of times in scripture that both Peter(Acts 10:26 NIV) and Paul(Acts 14:15 NIV) had to remind people that they were only people and refocused them to the One through Whom and for Whom they did the things they did. It would have been so easy to take the credit so people would have worshiped them but they knew the source which provided the reason for their acts.

    That ol’ pride issue of wanting to be better than someone else. In sports for one to win someone has to lose but in the Kingdom all win because Jesus gave His life for the ransom of the world. He gave us the keys to the Kingdom not because of anything we can do or will do but due to what He did.

    The games we play says buckets full about who has the center of our lives and sadly most feel they are at that center to one up someone else. The ground at the foot of the Cross is level and the truth we were made for is a relationship with God.

    Freud used to say sometimes a cigar is just a cigar. Maybe the picture is just a picture of people playing games in front of what looks like a locked door. Maybe the winner gets the keys or maybe Jesus will give the keys to them all win, lose or watching.

  11. poohpity says:

    If we are to have the attitude of Jesus (Phil 2:6-8 NIV) who’s life was to bring Glory to God the Father and do His will showing how to serve (Matt 20:28 NIV). Then what makes man strive for awards or prestige that is fleeting? Could it be that acting like the religious leaders(Matt 23:5-7 NIV) is more common than having the attitude of Jesus? (Matt 23:11-12 NLT)

  12. armando1961 says:

    Poohpity I think you are absolutely right in that the attitude shown by the religious leaders of Jesus’ day was and remains much more common than the attitude shown by Jesus. It’s sad but it’s true, there’s no sense in denying it.

  13. poohpity says:

    armando, the really cool thing is when we “admit” to it God can and will work with us through it. That is how we find out how truly amazing God’s grace is. :-)

  14. armando1961 says:

    Amen to that Poohpity, couldn’t agree more!

  15. poohpity says:

    So maybe the games we play are actually within us thinking we are more or less(self abasement) than what we really are. Luke 18:9-14 NIV

  16. belleu says:

    It is interesting how all cultures have contests to see who is best at something. Awards are given for best films, best restaurants, best books. In ancient Greece there were the games and races. The Mayans played some sort of ball game with spectators enjoying the sight. The Romans had their gladiators and we have our sports heroes.

    This wanting to see the best is a side to human nature I have never considered before. I would suppose we would all like to be the best we can be at whatever we do. But why do we want to see who is the best at a sport or game? For myself, I’m not interested in sports; but seeing the best art in the world would make me happy. I once went to a world fireworks competition in Vancouver. It was spectacular. I liked seeing the best fireworks in the world.

    Does God want to see the best? I would think so. He must have created the most beautiful flowers he could make. He says that what he created was ‘good.’ Since God made us in his image then it makes sense we would admire the best as God does.

  17. foreverblessed says:

    Best fireworks in the world? Wow, wish I could see that!
    This sports thing was very important to me when I was young, excelling in everything that you could do: sports, studies, drawing. Becoming better at it. The film Jonathan Livingstone Seagull stimulated me also to excel, nice that you brought that up Saled!
    The verses of Paul that Maru gave, July 7, 8.10 am were also encouraging me, to do my very best.
    But now I am not so young anymore, middle old I call it, sports wont do very good anymore, the body doesn’t function that well, so the sports part is fading, except for all the cycling that I do to get into town, (I take the bike instead of the car, as I live in a bike country). And then these verses that told me that we come to rest in Jesus, come to rest, that is like relaxing, and stop doing our very best ourselves? What is that what Paul was saying in doing our very best?
    Or was Paul talking about us: killing our old man…
    “Take up your cross”, Jesus said. Mark 8:34
    If we take up that cross, that is our own cross, to put our old man there anytime it comes up, and if we would do that as intensely as a sportsman is training for the game, then we have the intent of what Jesus and Paul was telling us.

    To give one example: when you post here, and someone is writing something that is annoying you, put that annoyance on the cross, and come to rest in Jesus. When we are at rest then the Spirit can talk to us, and see what He is giving you about the thing that upset you.
    I see this blog as a good training ground for 1 Cor 9:24-27

  18. bullwinkle says:

    It is interesting to me that so many on this site are not interested in sport. I grew up playing baseball and football, now I enjoy watching them. I grew up with three brothers and everything was a competition, from tiddily winks on up. Even though we are all in our late 50’s and 60’s we still compete whenever we are together, now it might be who catches the biggest or the most fish, but it is still a competition.

    Sadly I must admit it is more related to the sin nature within me than to any thought of bringing glory to God, but everyone one of us deals with the issue. So many people I have met say that they are not a competitive person, but watch them the next time they are in a group playing bridge. I will admit that I am too competitive, but I still strive to excel in everything I do, from my work to the games I play.

    Even on this blog, I assume that most, if not all, check back to see if others have reacted to comments that they have made and react in a negative manner if someone has taken issue with something they stated. Pooh stated it quite well when she pointed to the pride in ALL of us.


  19. armando1961 says:

    I enjoy everything that is posted here because it shows all the different points of view that we as believers can have on a great many topics but every now and then I just have to react to one or another posting. I must respectfully take exception to belleu’s comment that God must have created the most beautiful flowers that God could make. First of all, “beauty” is a purely subjective characteristic, one person’s “beautiful” is another person’s “hideous” and we see examples of that every day. Secondly, God is omnipotent, which means that God can do and create anything (I also refuse to refer to God as “He” despite the customary usage because God is pure spirit and does not have, or need, a sex or gender, which is a limiting factor and God has no limits). Does God have the capacity to create more beautiful flowers than those we see? Of course. We don’t know for a fact the full extent of God’s creation, there are untold billions of galaxies in this universe as far as we can see and untold billions of planetary systems with untold billions of planets. The numbers are more than we can comprehend. We don’t even know how many universes there are. That God created the earth and the universe is self-evident but that doesn’t rule out other realms of creation, which would not necessarily be revealed to us, simply because it is not necessary for our knowledge and/or salvation. Suffice it to say that if God is all-powerful then God can create whatever God wants. In the universe we can see, the earth is an insignificant speck of dust in an insignificant planetary system in an insignificant corner of the visible universe. I think it’s the height of presumption to believe that humans are or can be the epitome of creation; are we humans the best that God created? My qualified answers are that yes, we are, but so far as we know, only on earth and only so far. We don’t know the full extent of creation and we may never know the full extent thereof, but clearly an all-powerful God has no limits and can create whatever strikes the Almighty’s fancy. To those who may consider such thoughts “un-Christian” I would point out that profound (not superficial) Christian thinkers have thought along such lines for centuries, from Sir Isaac Newton to C.S. Lewis.

  20. remarutho says:

    Good Morning All —

    Your question hooked my interest this morning, Foreverblessed:

    “…we come to rest in Jesus, come to rest, that is like relaxing, and stop doing our very best ourselves? What is that what Paul was saying in doing our very best?”

    This is at the heart of the dilemma Jesus-followers have: waiting on the Lord v being pro-active for the kingdom of God. When to move — when to wait and listen? Relaxed tension — tense relaxation…

    It seems to me, Jesus chided the temple officials in Jerusalem for their academic, skull-centered religion. Debate and fine-shaved interpretation of the law were the “game,” not giving all praise and glory to God. In our day many academics give lip service to faith — but do not indulge in it themselves.

    This is a topic that comes in and out of focus to my mind. Applying the criterion Jesus set forth for all my striving cuts away the dead wood, it seems to me. (John 5:44)


    PS High temperatures and dry conditions forecast for the Pacific NW — except right on the beach.

  21. SFDBWV says:

    Glad to see you pipe up Pete (sorry I couldn’t help myself) [smiles all around I hope].

    When I was a boy playing baseball was *everything*, our little town used to have a team that played other towns and my dad played first base; it was one of those things I grew up listening to, about how good this fellow or that fellow was.

    So like most kids I had to prove to myself I was as good and worked hard at it, never really feeling I ever could live up to those stories.

    In the mixture of places I lived as a child I also lived in the DC area and enjoyed taking a bus ride to Griffith Park to watch the Washington Senators play the Yankees or the Red Sox as both of those teams had some real big names playing. This was the late fifties and early sixties so I got to watch Mickey Mantle and Ted Williams play as well as Yogi Berra and many others.

    It was a big thrill for me as a child.

    In my early 20’s I managed and coached a little league team here in our town for a couple years. We never lost a game, not one.

    Not because of any reason except that I did not allow for any *superstars* on our team. Every kid on the roster played and every kid learned that to win you had to play as a team, not as an individual.

    In little league baseball all you have to do to win is keep the ball in the infield and not let it get it out into the outfield.

    That sounds simple enough, but it means an infielder has to sacrifice his body sometimes to *stop* the ball from getting away from him.

    My cynical approach to *sports* in this discussion isn’t a condemnation of sports in general, it is that done properly sports can teach a child a lot about becoming a good adult or if done improperly can point a child in a bad direction; both for the remainder of their lives.

    Where does competition come into play concerning being Christian or a follower of Jesus of Nazareth?

    The race that Paul is speaking of is a race against *life* against *time* not against other Christians.

    I very much agree with you Pete in that there are some here, very few, who compete to outdo another in commenting, but that isn’t the Christian thing to do and most people are put off by it and as a result instead of enjoying the competition they lose interest and no longer participate.

    There should be no competition within Christianity, only servitude toward each other. If there is any room for competition we as Jesus’ team should all be working together to win the souls of all those others who “play” on the teams of all the other *religions* in the world.


  22. poohpity says:

    I think it is a good thing to do our best at WHATEVER we do, not to please people but to please God.(Col 3:23-24) Talking about the things of God can be never ending because there is so very much to learn. If we are talking about God that stops us from talking about others especially in a negative way that is not God honoring.

    Remembering we all share in our humanity none can escape that but we are free to respect others, to encourage them and do good.

    Steve, do you compete to outdo another in commenting? This is a blog we do come here to discuss topics so how can one compete in commenting? Please help me to understand how this is a competition in anyway?

  23. armando1961 says:

    Totally agree with Poohpity in that this is a special space to share our thoughts but above all to honor God, may we all render the honor and glory that are due the Creator and may we always be in God’s grace and enjoy the blessings thereof!

  24. quietgrace says:

    Goo morning all.

    I’ve been thinking about the posts of today so far, and have to agree with you, Steve, that competitiveness among Christians is not what God intended. I found this quote by Oswald Chambers posted today that explains why it isn’t a good thing.

    “It is an easy thing to argue from precedent because it makes everything simple, but it is a risky thing to do. Give God “elbow room”; let Him come into His universe as He pleases. If we confine God in His working to religious people or to certain ways, we place ourselves on an equality with God.” Baffled to Fight Better, 51 L

    May all receive God’s blessings today,

  25. armando1961 says:

    I have to agree with Steve and Quietgrace on competitiveness among Christians (in its proper context, as in day to day life matters, not in friendly games or sports per se). I think that among Christians the way of cooperation, compassion and understanding is the correct approach.

  26. poohpity says:

    Doesn’t it all come back to the truth about our humanity? You want to be special allow God to show you just how much you mean to Him with all your faults and failures then we can learn to love others that way too. It seems like we look at others and expect God to be finished working in their life so we go into quality control mode but fail to be aware of all unfinished work in our own, the games people play.

    Let’s look at those who are gay or have abortions or murders and just because we may not have those in our lives most elevate themselves morally above them, never considering the issue of pride which says I need to condemn them because God loves me more cause I don’t do those things never giving thought to what one does do that offends God.

  27. phpatato says:


    I am a bit confused by your comment to Belleu, this morning at 7:44am: “I must respectfully take exception to belleu’s comment “”that God must have created the most beautiful flowers that God could make””.

    If I may respectfully comment to you….I think, perhaps, you may have read something into Belleu’s comment that she did not intend. I took Belleu’s comment to mean that God indeed created the most beautiful flowers; the most beautiful birds; the most beautiful mammals; the most beautiful heavens; the most beautiful fish; well the most beautiful EVERYTHING – BECAUSE – God does not/did not ever! ever do anything shabby, half-hearted or second best. And if I am correct in how I read her comment, I completely agree with her. God simply does not come second on any platform perceivable by man. And as pointed out by you, man hasn’t got a clue just how BIG God is. It may be that we are silly to even try to scratch the surface. But……

    Further to that, I received in an email, a youtube link to see someone’s attempt at showing just how big and awesome God is. It is a film which was shown at a TED2014 March 2014 conference in Vancouver BC Canada and is of Louie Schwartzberg – cinematographer, producer and director – and his most recent film which is now appearing as a National Georgraphic 3D imax documentary at the American Museum of Natural History in New York. He uses “time-lapse photography, as well as high-speed and nanophotography, to capture all that is too small and too slow and too fast for our eyes to capture alone”.

    A search on youtube “Louie Schwartzberg: Hidden Miracles of the Natural World” will let you watch this 7 min film. Pretty amazing!!!! even though it’s seen through scientific man’s eyes and not through God man’s eyes.

  28. armando1961 says:

    Phpatato, going back to Belleu’s comment, I realize it is possible to read it in a variety of ways and I may have misunderstood what was meant. Furthermore, I do agree with you 100% that God is totally, completely awesome and that everything that we are able to detect or perceive in nature is so darn wonderful and ultimately incomprehensible that the entire cosmos is nothing short of a symphony that is constantly attesting to and singing God’s praises as Creator. Natural science has been able to decipher the mystery of creation in several specific areas, but so much –perhaps most of what there is– remains to be known or discovered that ultimately the only truly honest reaction to such wonders is to fall down on one’s knees, acknowledge an all-powerful Creator and praise and worship that Creator without reserve or qualification.

  29. belleu says:

    Hi. I have to agree with phpatato when she said, “God doesn’t do anything second best…etc.” As for man being the epitome of creation, I would doubt that since the angels were created before us, Hebrews 2:7, Job 38:7, and are far above us in strength and who knows what else, and live with God in heaven. Maybe we are next after them. I don’t know.

    I’m just wondering if God himself put the urge to want to see the best and be the best inside of us. When people study different religions I would suppose they are looking for the best and God is the best in a long history of gods and religions.

    If we compare God to other ancient gods he is the best, but I guess the majority of the people wanted gods who didn’t interfere with their passions and evil. John 3:19

  30. belleu says:

    I forgot – Steve: I love the way you coached Little League. I don’t like the emphasis on competition. I think it is wonderful to give every kid a chance to play.

  31. armando1961 says:

    I agree with Belleu’s latest posting on two counts: first, that the God that is revealed in the Bible is the best of all possible deities (and far superior qualitatively to any other gods or goddesses that ancient peoples may have believed in); secondly, that God put an urge in humans to strive for excellence, to constantly yearn to be the best. I think that’s a given. Interesting postings by all.

  32. hera says:

    Hi, interesting comments/views about sports, games & competitiveness.
    I would like to comment a bit about – people studying religions looking for the best – am not sure about other people, but for me I am trying to, not really study in a formal way like joining a class, more like I am trying to learn more about other religions so, perhaps, I can understand more about why they do/say this and that, also because I feel there is something sort of “missing” and try to find out about it, perhaps it can be more or less likened to having a “chemistry” – which religion I have most chemistry with, well I suppose in the end it could be said the best I’d feel comfortable with :-)

  33. armando1961 says:

    Nice of you to share your thoughts, Hera, I took a few comparative religions courses in college and I can tell you it was very much worth it, nothing wrong with that added perspective. I can only wish you good luck and God’s blessings to you and all the rest.

  34. street says:

    does any one remember the girls softball game were the girl hit a home run and she tripped on one of the bases dislocated her knee? she could not reach home on her own and her team could not go on to the field and help. the other team carried her around the rest of the bases complete the play. I think the other team lost the game when they did this too. it’s been awhile.

  35. poohpity says:

    hera, since you shared your search on here with us I would like to offer a little wisdom. Religions seem to be created by man for man. God can fill all those places that seem to be “missing” something when we finally come to the end of ourselves. Religions will never satisfy that hole within that was only meant for a relationship with God.

  36. SFDBWV says:

    Earlier this morning I started a comment meant to redirect our discussion towards a more serious subject essentially the heated up situation going on in Israel right now.

    However after reading it over I deleted what I had written and went on with my own duties here this morning, feeling that if Mart wanted to talk about real life issues of such a matter he should bring them up not someone like me.

    I just had a little time and wanted to say to all of you that whatever your pursuits and challenges are today I wish you success and a blessed day.

    Remembering always that the last thing you may say to someone may be the last memory they have of you or the last thing you might ever have gotten to say to them.

    Be a breath of fresh air and a bit of sunlight to someone who may need it today.


  37. saled says:

    Mart’s next to last paragraph intrigues ms: “Is it possible that . . . sport touches a nerve of spirituality that is rooted in Something, and Someone who deserves the recognition of better, best, and worthy of all attention, praise, and endless comment?”

    Is this’ nerve of spirituality’ our desire to do our best or something else? And it seems that doing our best often takes an unexpected twist, such as the situation that street mentioned with the girls softball game.

    Were we born to shine like the song Because We Believe states? Maybe we sense this, and sometimes become consumed with trying to achieve that. Or maybe we lose our souls trying to achieve it. Is God the only one who is supposed to shine? Or does he share his glory with us. I think of Paul’s words, “Christ in us, hope of glory.”

  38. poohpity says:

    It is God who is the Something or Someone that deserves recognition. With everything that is going on in this world God is our breathe of fresh air and He is in control and we can trust everything into His hands because of His unfailing love.

    When we let go of self-occupation the games cease. This is real life and putting God at the center brings love, peace, forgiveness, mercy and grace. Endlessly talking about Him brings focus of those things into my life and God is the only thing that holds my life together and deserves all the attention I have within me. I feel sad for those that God is not enough or feel He is a distraction from real life. All I can say is thank God for the distraction, He is real, alive and has all things in His hands.

  39. bubbles says:

    Our purpose is to bring glory to God.

  40. poohpity says:

    True that, bubbles. But how can we point people to God when most do not trust Him to even work in their own lives? Being so busy trying to be god themselves to everyone around them so they will get the applause and praise they have no room for God until they come to the end of themselves and realize that they need Something or Someone way bigger to help. Going from “Burger King”(I want it my way) to the “King of Kings” (Your Will be done).

  41. quietgrace says:

    Just wanted to encourage you, Hera, to continue on in your search. It is good to know about all religions and find out why they believe what they believe. Intellectual strivings grow us toward finding what we are looking for in life. May your journey be filled with truth, light, and peace as you draw closer to God.

    Blessings, Grace

  42. refump says:

    I have been involved with sports/competition my whole life as a participant in my younger years & now as a “ref” & “ump” in my later years. I have seen sports/competition bring out the best in some & the worst in others (I could spend hours telling you about bad behavior that has been directed at me over the years as a sports official).
    I’ve often heard people in all types of competitions make the statement “I did my best” or “I gave it my all”. How do we know when we have done our best or gave it our all? Is that something we say to make us feel better when we don’t win or achieve our goal? Have we sold ourself short thinking we did do our best when, if we are truly honest with ourselves, could have done more? Why is doing our best such a consolation? Didn’t Paul say, “I run so that I might win/achieve the prize”. It is extremely comforting to know “our” best is not a requirement for that prize Paul speaks of but, instead is a “gift” God offers us when we stop striving with our own strength & pride in what we can accomplish.

  43. armando1961 says:

    Bubbles, I believe that worshipping and giving glory to God are certainly purposes of human existence, but not the only purposes; there are others, such as attaining salvation and helping one another as long as we are on this world. Incidentally, I also believe that we are duty-bound to worship God and to give thanks for so many visible signs of God’s mercy and grace (not least the mere fact that we were created, that we were brought into existence), but God does not really, actually, need our worship and our praise, because God is self-sufficient in all things, including Divine majesty and glory; failing to give God due praise and worship is a bad reflection on those who fail to give such praise and worship, but such failure or lack of praise and worship does not harm or diminish God in the least.

  44. armando1961 says:

    Amen to Quietgrace’s words of encouragement to Hera! Those who are intellectually honest will admit to the natural yearning that all human beings have to find God in some shape or form, what is really important, I think, is what we do with that yearning. Peace and blessings to all, this is such a wonderful crowd and such a wonderful site!

  45. quietgrace says:

    Armando another way of saying it could be that we reflect God’s glory, as Paul talked about 2 Cor. 3:18 NIV, which brings praise to God. Nothing that we do or say can do that.

  46. poohpity says:

    refump, amen!

  47. armando1961 says:

    Amen again to Quietgrace!

  48. bubbles says:

    When we do what God wants us to do we are bringing glory to Him.

  49. poohpity says:

    John 13:34-35 NLT So simple yet so over looked.

  50. poohpity says:

    Even that we are given the power to do from on High, the Source.

  51. quietgrace says:

    Armando I so agree that this is a wonderful site. It has grown me immensely as I have learned that mostly all of us are saying the same thing only in different ways of understanding, and that we still all interpret scripture to the best of our understanding.

    For instance, there is discussion going on about vertical glory-between God and man, and horizontal glory-between man and man. But it’s all about glorifying God, simply by being filled with the spirit yet producing good works as another way of glorifying God. God is the author of everything, who we are, and what we do. Even out strivings and searching are precipitated by God, who offers us still a choice as to whether we ultimately accept Him (I’m just used to addressing G_d as Him according to the western culture I’ve grown up in) reject Him, or come to know Him gradually and with caution. God is patient in that He wants all of His creation to return home to Him.

    In that sense we are all prodigals somewhere along our journey, as Jesus pointed out in the scriptures. Some are older brothers, and some are silent, suffering mothers.

    But ultimately I am grateful for this blog and for the growth I also see in others at the same time. We’re all in this journey together; let’s pray, love, seek and serve God while we have the time.

  52. armando1961 says:

    Food for thought all around, Quietgrace, you are so right once again. I agree we are all saying (mostly) the same things but expressing them in different ways, to the best of our ability (well, every now and then there are clearly differing points of view, but even in such cases it is fairly easy to see that we are all looking for, searching for, essentially the same things, God’s grace and forgiveness and ultimately the incomparable gift of salvation).

  53. hera says:

    Sincere thank you for the responses/encouragements. May God bless all of you.

  54. poohpity says:

    Hopefully the search is over God’s grace, forgiveness and salvation are found in the truth we were made for. However the search and seeking to know that truth is a life long process filled with surprises and revelations that fill us with joy, peace, knowing, stability, challenges, perseverance, comfort, virtue, kindness, patience and gentleness. But most of all love then the endless games are not so important any more. We can be honest about our human condition which will bring us closer to the truth we hold tightly to. The approval of man seems to be less important as time goes on it fades away as all the other things that takes our minds, hearts and souls from the Lord.

  55. poohpity says:

    Hopefully the search is over God’s grace, forgiveness and salvation are found in the truth we were made for. However the search and seeking to know that truth is a life long process filled with surprises and revelations that fill us with joy, peace, knowing, stability, challenges, perseverance, comfort, virtue, kindness, patience and gentleness. But most of all love then the endless games are not so important any more. We can be honest about our human condition which will bring us closer to the truth we hold tightly to. The approval of man seems to be less important as time goes on it fades away as all the other things that takes our minds, hearts and souls from the Lord.

  56. poohpity says:

    To strange for me how that posted twice.

  57. armando1961 says:

    If it’s strange then it’s a happy coincidence, Poohpity. Beautiful posting. Good day and God’s blessings to all!

  58. quietgrace says:

    Good morning all! I agree with Armando, beautiful post Pooh! Have a blessed day.

  59. armando1961 says:

    P.S. Come to think of it, Poohpity’s double posting may be more than a mere “coincidence” given the subject matter. In any case, it’s still a beautiful and welcome reminder of God’s mercy and grace.

  60. quietgrace says:

    I was just thinking about Oswald Chambers who said that God creates our circumstances and it’s our job to learn how to live godly in them by finding out how God wants us to respond in those circumstances-whatever they are. That said, the fact that we are all part of this blog and posting from wherever and whatever our current circumstance is all part of God’s plan for us. As we come together to grow and learn it is out of God’s magnificent grace that we are recipients of more grace, knowledge, and hope!
    Blest Be the Tie That Binds…. this old hymn is so comforting and good to keep in mind as any games we play are also part of the circumstances God uses to bring glory to Himself.

  61. poohpity says:

    When we draw off of the praise, flattery, awards of man how easy those things can be turned around to grudges, criticism, anger which crushes the very same person that received all the seemingly nice things9games). It is all fleeting and the only thing that never changes is God’s awesome love for us. That love is not dependent on our behavior it is dependent on God and nothing can separate us from Him. What Jesus did, were the lengths God went through to show that love.

    When we have faults, failures, sins God knew before hand. Most think that God takes away His love when we mess up but we are surrounded in it. It is like a running river that washes over us continually. Religious people put guilt, shame and rejection heaping that on God’s beloved prompting them to feel they have to earn love. Grace is undeserved, unmerited or it would not be grace at all.

    Do you understand how much God loves you today?
    Do you really believe in God’s love right now?

    His love is constant never changing even understanding how short we fall when we are asked to love Him with all our mind, heart and strength but that does not stop His.

  62. quietgrace says:

    Pooh yes, only God’s love is perfect and how easy it is to forget that when the love of man (including some religious people)fails us, but God’s love NEVER fails.

  63. poohpity says:

    It doesn’t have to be just religious people, it can friends or family not mention how we treat our selves as well.

  64. cbrown says:

    I just read the blog “The Ultimate Reward” posted today in the blog section by Bill Crowder. I can remember when John Wooden was coaching.He had a great perspective on sports.

  65. remarutho says:

    Good Morning Mart & Friends —

    Mart, you wrote:

    “…I’m once again trying to weigh the global fascination with sport and competition.”

    It seems to me there is a short list of interests that cut through international barriers of language and cultural difference. Sport is on that list, along with music and concern for children and family.

    Painful to see when these matters of shared interest do not overcome ancient grudges and hostility — when terror and war break up the fragile peace. The competitive spirit can do horrific damage when not curbed, controlled or corralled, it seems to me.

    Can it be that the competitive spirit must be fenced in, like a wild beast?


  66. poohpity says:

    I feel like I am in a competition everyday. A competition with life. Am I going to allow bitterness, anger, unforgiveness, self pity, rivalry, people opinions of me to win or am I going to allow the Lord and His Word to win with grace, mercy, forgiveness, His opinion of me, gratefulness and praise. There is a competition for my mind, emotions, heart and soul to be taken in by what the world says or trust, depend and allow God to work in my life.

    Do I make the choice today who I will follow and what I will fill my mind with? Do I listen to things like do not read the Bible, pray or meditate on the things of God or grow in wisdom, knowledge and a deeper understanding of the Lord I say I love? Do I chase after Him or the things that please my flesh?

    It to me is a competition on how I will run this race. Do I want to run it in honesty and integrity or play games wanting people to think I am something I am not? The only person who gets fooled is me.

  67. armando1961 says:

    Good morning all and God’s blessings to all, love all of today’s postings especially Maru’s and Pooh’s as they are very insightful and appropriate. As to Pooh’s posting, it is true that life seems like a constant competition and we are faced with the choice of how to approach life’s problems, whether with God’s guidelines for right living or without those guidelines. As to Maru’s posting, if you believe in the Fall of Man account (Genesis, Adam, Eve, etc.), then the negative/violent side of the human competitive urge is a result of the Fall itself; if you believe in the theory of evolution (in some shape or form), then that urge is an instinctive characteristic that remains from earlier stages in the human evolution process. In any case, the competitive urge itself can certainly cause a lot of damage to peaceful human relations at all levels of human interaction (that is, among nations, between social groups within a nation, between family groups in intra-national communities and between individuals within a family).

  68. remarutho says:

    Agree with the reality of constant struggle — even suffering — related to keeping faith with Jesus! (2 Cor 7:5) I wonder whether it is part of the human make-up to fear annihilation? Confusion can set in when a person feels his/her existence is threatened.

    Some games hone the survival skills: speed, endurance, agility. Some, as you point out Pooh, are nothing but a show of false bravery — or pretense of being other than I really am in my heart.

    May we cling to Jesus — and depend upon his mercy and grace for our self-image!


  69. armando1961 says:

    Along the lines of Maru’s latest posting, I believe that suffering is part of God’s plan for humans in our present condition but it is compounded by our imperfect (disobedient) nature or inclination as well as the fact that some people are weaker in terms of resisting temptation than others, which makes things worse both for themselves and for others. Suffering is also a means of purification and a test of our faith. Suffering, however, is only temporary and everything works out as part of God’s plan in the end.

  70. poohpity says:

    armando, I was not insinuating anything about God’s guidelines just about competition in life with/without God. We all mess up following guidelines we even have trouble following them here as simple as they are.

    You are right human beings are human beings without much change in our basic nature repeating the same things over and over no evolution there. Thank God for grace.

  71. armando1961 says:

    Once again I agree with everything you’ve said, Pooh, and Thank God for grace too! Amen!

  72. quietgrace says:

    Good morning all!

    Maru your last statement reminds me of a book I read years ago, Self-Esteem or Christ-Esteem?. Can’t remember the author and the title may be a little different than I recall, but the premise is that we should get our sense of self-worth from Christ, and not ourselves. I think that is what you, Pooh, are also saying. If we are the Imago-Deo, the image of God, this makes sense, and that we are always striving to replace our old-man with the new. It is a never-ending competition with self that will end eventually when we finally see Perfection, but as Paul says, we see as through a glass darkly, but then face to face. I Cor. 13:12 NIV

  73. bubbles says:

    I feel like I’m in a crazy competition/rat race with the clock most days, and the clock always wins!

  74. armando1961 says:

    I hear you, Bubbles! In my case it depends, Monday is almost always a crazy race against the clock and the clock usually (but not always) wins; Friday, Saturday and Sunday restore my sanity; Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday vary, they’re usually fairly hectic but not always. Invariably, however, my faith and trust in God sustain me and carry me through. Thank God for God’s grace!

  75. bubbles says:

    A counselor said to pray about the “need to do list” and that things will get done. I do pray about it. Things have changed greatly and require more time than previously. So I’m learning, even though I don’t like it, to not get everything done like I used to. Weekends leave me more exhausted than the week did.

  76. armando1961 says:

    Oh wow. Thanks for the tip about the “to do” list, Bubbles, I’ll do the same. By the way, you’re absolutely right, I had noticed since a few years back that I never seem to finish everything on my “to do” list anymore. Sign of the “end times” maybe? Who knows but I think it’s a verifiable fact that even as technology has evolved and now enables us to do much, much more than we could do on a any given day as recently as 10 or 20 years ago, we seem to have less and less time to do stuff and never seem to finish. Maybe we simply “adjusted” mentally to expect to do much more than we were used to doing or maybe there is a limit as to how much information our brains can process at any given moment. In any case, the answer, I think, is to turn our thoughts and prayers to God and look for guidance in scripture.

  77. poohpity says:

    I think self worth or self esteem is a 20th century thing but being confident in the truth, believing how much we are loved by God, we can hold our heads high. Having a honest estimate of who we are does not think more of ourselves or less, or more or less of others. If God is for us who can be against us? We have right standing with God. Confidence is not pride. Romans 8:30-39 NLT

  78. street says:

    But how can we point people to God when most do not trust Him to even work in their own lives?

    The lamp comes to mind.

    also the command to walk in Spirit, Truth and Love.

    I also have to say I have discovered I am a cynic, the best way so far is to admit the truth and start believing the promises of God.

  79. quietgrace says:

    Street I too struggled with cynicism when I went through Bible college where we were taught and encouraged to ask the tough questions regarding the Bible and our faith. (Not so coincidentally I was also going through some life-changing experiences at the same time). But it was eye-opening to me when a prof. pointed it out to me. Hence my own journey began to figure out what I believed, not what others had told me to believe. Not saying at all that your journey is the same as mine, but that all have to deal with it at some time or another, if they are honest with themselves, in my own flawed estimation.

    Glad you are seeking truth and know that God is in it with you, all the way, as Marts next post points out beautifully. May our great and glorious God bless you always, Grace

  80. armando1961 says:

    We are imperfect vessels; I hate to use the term “broken” and prefer to use the term “imperfect” instead. God knows it and understands it and takes it into consideration. God’s mercy and grace are immeasurably abundant and the first step to tap into that mercy and grace is to acknowledge our failings and shortcomings. I also think that “cynic” and “cynicism” are too harsh as descriptive terms, I think “doubtful” or “doubting” (as in “doubting Thomas”) are perhaps more appropriate. In any case, I wish God’s blessings and a wonderful week to all!

  81. street says:

    i was at a family party last weekend and the last couple of days i have reflected on a beer drinking game that was played. it seems to me they really enjoyed the drinking and the game of flipping a cup upright. i wondered about the fun they were experiencing together as a group. they were enjoying their turn in the lime light and the encouragement they received from the other players for the game to progress. sure it was silly, but it was not pointless.

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