I Can’t Watch! — Confessions of a Fanatic Fan Conformed to Christ Through Football



This Football is Back video? That I can watch. It gets my football blood pumping!  

But Clemson football? I confess I love it so much that I can’t watch it.

How pathetic is that?

I confess that last season I often sat in a movie theater during a game instead of in the stadium or in front of my TV cheering my Tigers on.

Yes, I’m appropriately horrified and ashamed.

I just couldn’t stand the stress of a close game.

Give me a blowout any day! (I’m talking about where we blow out the other team, NOT vice versa. Those are just dumb.)

But because I’m committing to being conformed to Christ through football, starting this season, I commit to watching the Tigers play live — not just on my DVR after I know they’ve won.

Or rather, I should say, starting this weekend.

I didn’t actually get to see the Clemson – UGA game. Did they play? I haven’t heard.

Just kidding! Believe me, I heard! I saw the clips, I picked my chin up off the ground, and I mourned. Good game, UGA. Just wait ’til last year!

While I didn’t see the game, it wasn’t my usual nerves or whimpiness that kept me from watching, however. It was because, as much as I love my Tigers, I love my daughter even more.

I stood on the sidelines her soccer tournament cheering her on instead.

Are you concerned that I need to get over this football obsession and move onto issues of life that really matter?

Are you thinking: Surely God doesn’t care about football?

Au contraire! I maintain He does.

How can God not care about something that builds perseverance and character, exposes our faith as well as the object of our faith, and unearths our pride and shapes our humility?

And I’m not even talking about the players — I’m talking about the fans!

On top of all that, we get to wear outlandish outfits and eat great food!

Now I am talking about the players. (I don’t know what to think about the Steelers’ bumble bee/elf uniforms.)

It’s a win-win, unless of course we lose.

We lose, not when the scoreboard declares it, but when our heart does.

When our heart demands a victory on the scoreboard to feel victorious, then we’ve really lost.

And that’s why I think God cares about football, but perhaps not in the same way I do.

I’ve just wanted my Tigers to win and never feel the pain of loss. I’ve wanted the easy path for our players and coaches – and myself.

I’ve changed my mind, though.

Not about winning, but about the path to get there.

I still want my Tigers to win, but not more than I want them to become men of godly character who learn to fully trust God and praise Him in the victories and the losses.

I want them to have a successful season, but not more than I want them to be drawn to the Lord and conformed into the image of Christ.

Who’s to say, but God, what path will draw them and conform them more?

I’m going to celebrate each win with ecstatic joy!

I’m also going to embrace the losses — yes, I actually said embrace — because I know that God has a good purpose for the losses in their lives, as well as in mine.

It’s all about growing in faith and learning to ensure that the object of our faith remains God, not other things, like football – and that’s why I’m committed to watching Clemson football this season.

It sounds like I’m stretching it here to rationalize my spending time and money on a bunch of guys chasing after an oblong ball for bragging rights – and if you read my post, Love & Hate: Confessions of a Fanatic Fan Conformed to Christ Through Footballyou know I don’t even like “bragging rights.”

I’m not being flippant. I’m actually serious.

Football is a safe spiritual training ground.

Safe for me, that is. I’m sitting in the stands, not facing a Defensive Line.

and I need to be trained.

We all do!

Conformed to Christ through Football!

Conformed to Christ through Football!


Think about it:

If I’m not willing to trust God with any and every result of a football game, how likely will I be to trust Him about something that actually, really matters in my life? 

Whether Clemson wins or loses matters in Dabo Swiney’s life – it’s called job security vs unemployment.

Clemson’s win-loss record changes Dabo’s life, but it doesn’t change one thing in mine.

And even Dabo can rest in the losses, because God remains sovereign in his life. God will never fail him.

How can I preach embracing God’s sovereignty, but live in dread of a possible loss and wallow in it when it comes?

I’m thankful to God for my football obsession, because to me, it’s a gracious gift that God has allowed me to have something as unimportant to my livelihood and happiness as football to conform me into Christlikeness.

God could be using cancer – He has. I lost my mom to cancer.

We could be facing an outbreak of Ebola in our community, or another terrorist attack on our shores.

If I can’t handle the team I love losing a football game, how can I hope to handle a terrorist attack on the country I love?

I think the apostle Paul would have loved football, but I I think he would have told me to get a grip — and a proper perspective.

Then I think he would have told me the secret of being content while facing plenty of wins or being hungry for a victory, whether in the abundance, or the need, of strength.

The secret is Christ.

When our contentment is in Christ, not the scoreboard, we can face anything — including a loss, even a big loss.

We can face sickness, terrorism, unemployment, and any fearful thing!

“Not that I am speaking of being in need,
for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content.
I know how to be brought low,
and I know how to abound.
In any and every circumstance,
I have learned the secret of
facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need.
I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.
Philippians 4:11-13

Understanding and living out the secret to being content will be what brings us through the real trials in life and bring praise and glory to God – and that’s all that really matters!

Yes, football is just a game, but it can make a real difference when I entrust even football into God’s hands to shape and conform me to Christ.

Because of my desire to look more like Christ and less like me every day, I’m excited to watch even the close games this season — not because I like close games, but because I like conformity to Christ.

I can watch Clemson play any team anywhere because the results that matter are the matters of the heart, not the scoreboard.

When our heart finds itself fulfilled in Christ, that’s when we really win!

Have your way with me, O Lord!

When our heart finds itself fulfilled in Christ, that's when we really win!

When our heart finds itself fulfilled in Christ, that’s when we really win!


If you haven’t read my Love & Hate post, I hope you will. I think it’s an important message:

Another post you football fans will enjoy is:

From a small Nigerian village to the NFL record books, and now Medical School, Samkon Gado is doing the “impossible.” (I wrote this article for “Reach Out, Columbia” magazine.) 

For all you Clemson Fans — as well as fans who want to be conformed to Christ Through Football — check out Tajh Boyd’s Blog: Tajh Boyd Talks. 

Tajh shares what God has been teaching him through his football journey, as well as other insights football fans will enjoy. 

Football isn’t the only way God’s been conforming me into the image of Christ. Check out these other posts:

Click to Tweet: Conformed to Christ Through Football, because the results that matter are the matters of the heart, not the scoreboard.

To ensure you don’t miss a single post, you can subscribe to my blog. Thank you!

Monday Music — “God of This City” by Chris Tomlin

Greater things are yet to come! 

Our sovereign God has everything under control. He’s the God of this city, this country, this world…He’s the God of ALL.

Take a deep breath if you need, then let it out, along with all the stress, and let the words of this song “God of This City” sung by Chris Tomlin fill you with joy, hope and excitement.

Greater Things Are Yet To Come!

Greater Things Are Yet To Come!

Greater things are yet to come! God is the God of this city!


Want to listen to more great songs? Check out this link:  Monday Music 

Do you have a suggestion for a song? Leave a comment below. I’d love to hear from you!

If you enjoyed this, I hope you’ll pass it along to others. 

Start your week off right with Monday Music — “God of This City” by Chris Tomlin (Click to Tweet)

If God Weren’t in Control

Click to read post: If God Weren't In Control

If God Weren’t In Control

“What shall I do with this Man called Jesus?” Pilate asked the restless crowd.

“Crucify Him!” they shouted.

 “No,” Pilate countered. “I won’t crucify Jesus. I’m going to crucify that murderer Barabbas instead and set Jesus free.”

The crowd grew angry. “If you set Jesus free, our law demands we take Him and stone Him.”

And they did.

The End.


If you’ve read any of the four Gospels, you know this is not how it happened. But it could have, if God weren’t in control. Have you ever thought about that?

The Law of Moses demanded death by stoning for anyone who committed blasphemy against God. Stoning—not crucifixion[1]

If God weren’t in control, Jesus would’ve been stoned to death before the germ of the idea of Calvary and the cross ever grew in the Jewish leaders’ minds. Eager to pick up stones and silence Christ, their desire became ravenous.

“We are not stoning you for any good work,” they replied,
“but for blasphemy, because you, a mere man, claim to be God.”
~ John 10:33

Fortunately, God’s not hindered by man’s desires.

God had pre-determined Christ would be crucified.[2] Despite multiple attempts to stone Jesus, they failed. God intervened.

Pilate failed too.

So Pilate said to Him, “You do not speak to me?
Do You not know that I have authority to release You,
and I have authority to crucify You?”

Jesus answered, “You would have no authority over Me,
unless it had been given you from above . . .”
As a result of this Pilate made efforts to release Him . . .
~ John 19:10-12a

I love it.

One statement from Jesus transformed Pilate from bold and arrogant to quaking in his sandals.

Pilate thought he’d make Jesus beg for his life, until Jesus set him straight. Suddenly Pilate seems ready to give Jesus an all-expense paid trip to anywhere.

If God weren’t in control, Pilate would have set Jesus free.

But, He couldn’t go free.

Christ had an appointment with the cross that had been set by God before the foundations of the earth.  God wouldn’t allow Pilate to set him free.

(There’s more to the story about Pilate that I’m going to tell in my next post, God Still Pardons Murderers, that beautifully demonstrates that God is in control. If you think you know what it is, please leave comment in the comment section—where else, right?)

If God weren’t in control over man’s desires and determinations, Jesus wouldn’t have been crucified that day, and we’d be lost. We’d be without a Savior or a God who’s able to take care of our every need. Thankfully, God is in control. Nothing can stop Him.

What God desires and determines, He does.
(Click to Tweet)

God desired to make a way for man to be free from sin and restored back into a relationship with Him. He did. Neither the Jewish leaders, Pilate, nor Satan could stop Him[3].  

God determined to give man free will to choose if he would acknowledge Jesus as Lord. He did. But one day, every knee will bow, and no one can stop it.[4]  

God is in control of everything that touches our lives. Over the good and the bad. Over those who belong to Him, and those who deny Him.

This would be a scary thought if God weren’t also the God of perfect love—but He is—and out of the abundance His love, He pours out blessings. On the good and the bad. On those who belong to Him, and on those who deny Him.

But His greatest blessings are reserved for those who belong to Him.

"And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of His glory in Christ Jesus." ~ Philippians 4:19 Photo by Jean Wilund in Costa Rica

“And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of His glory in Christ Jesus.” ~ Philippians 4:19
Photo by Jean Wilund in Costa Rica

And no one can stop Him.

Never forget God’s promises to you.

Never doubt His love for you.

Trust in Him, and rest.

God is in control.

red thread

If you liked this post, you may also enjoy my posts:  The End from the Beginning and What God Begins, He Finishes

[1] “anyone who blasphemes the name of the LORD is to be put to death. The entire assembly must stone them…” Leviticus 24:16a

[2] Matthew 20:17-19; Zechariah 12:10

[3] Acts 4:27,28

[4] Philippians 2:9-11

What God Begins, He Finishes!


Creation was complete—perfect even. But it was about to unravel. But then again, what was finished was really only beginning, and what God begins, He finishes.

Have I confused you? I almost confused myself.

Let me start over from the beginning. In Genesis, God created the world. On the seventh day He rested because His work of Creation was complete (Genesis 2:1-3), and He called it good.

God never looked at anything He made and said, “Oops.”

And yet, it was about to go very wrong at the foot of a tree.

Fast forward across time several thousand years to Calvary, at the foot of another tree, the cross.

As Jesus Christ hung there, nails through His hands and feet, darkness covered the earth for three hours. All that had gone wrong at the tree in Genesis 3 was being restored, as all that was wrong was being poured out onto Him on the cross.

The weight of our guilt and shame crushed in on Jesus (Hebrews 12:2). 

Then, knowing all things had already been accomplished…He said, “It is finished!” He bowed His head and gave up His Spirit (John 19:30). 

Christ’s work of redemption was complete (John 17:4), and it was good—very good—perfect even.

BlankCanvasWhat God completed in the work of Creation wasn’t His finished Masterpiece. It was His perfectly prepared canvas on which the flawless work of Christ was only beginning in Genesis and would be finished on the cross.

What God begins, He finishes!

What had looked like a disaster—everything gone wrong—was part of His plan from the beginning to be accomplished at the appointed time.

But how could part of God’s plan include His perfect Creation unraveling?

God created man in His own image with the ability to reason and rule, and placed him over all His Creation. (Genesis 1:26)

With this right to rule God’s Creation, man was easily tempted by Satan to reason that he had the right to rule himself as well.

Man was made in the image of God. He was not God himself, but the desire to be God was there. Given the chance, he took it, and then discovered he’d swallowed a lie.

Years ago, when I taught my children to draw, one of the biggest challenges I faced was their despair over a blob of paint inadvertently falling into the middle of their canvas. They wanted to give up and throw it away. I taught them, you can’t undo it, but you can work with it.

BlankCanvasBlackBlobThey learned to use that blob of paint to their advantage and simply redesign their original plan into one that included a big blob of paint right there. Maybe a flower would be perfect right there!

At the foot of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, God’s masterpiece of Creation got a big blob of black paint splattered on it (Genesis 3:6), but God didn’t have to redesign. His design was perfect from the beginning.

God had already taken into account man’s reasoning, which would lead to man’s rebellion. It was simply the next stroke on God’s masterpiece.

At the foot of the cross, Christ’s mother and His disciple John stood in despair. Everything was going wrong, or so it seemed. Darkness covered everything for three hours—surely God was agreeing with them. (Matthew 27:45)

The darkest hour of mankind threatened to crush them. But then Jesus cried out, “It is Finished!” and He bowed His head, and gave up His Spirit. (John 19:30)

JesusPainterFramedNothing had gone wrong at the cross. It was all part of God’s perfect design to redeem man and restore him back to the Father from whom he’d rebelled.

The darkest hour of mankind had ushered in the greatest joy man can know—

Salvation from sin and restoration to the Father through Jesus Christ.

What God began at Creation, He finished—the canvas was prepared for Christ.

What Christ began at His birth, He finished on the cross—eternal life was prepared for man.

God always finishes what He begins. It’s His work. He will do it. He must.

What He has begun in you, He will finish. 

What God has begun in your child, He will finish.

God’s beginning of anything is His promise to finish it.

Don’t look at the black blobs of paint flying onto the canvas of your life and think for one second that everything has gone terribly wrong.

God has not abandoned you or His plan, and He’s not scrambling to redesign.

Every blob of black paint is a necessary part of the masterpiece.

Don’t despair.

Don’t throw the work away before it’s completed.

Look to the Finished Work on the cross, bow your head, and entrust yourself to the Master.

His Work is flawless, and He always finishes what He begins.

 It is Finished!

Click on the link below to view stunning videos of the Jesus Painter at work. He has many amazing paintings you’ll want to watch him create.


The Jesus Painter



Christ’s Eyes


What #God Begins He Finishes. Watch the #JesusPainter. Click To Tweet

When Life Explodes — Part Two


When Life Explodes

 When life explodes, I rest in Christ, Who must do all. (See When Life Explodes — Part One.)

If I’m resting in Christ and have confident assurance that God is in control, how is it possible that I’m still battling fear? That’s what I asked God recently. I found the answer in the Gospel of John.

While Jesus lived on earth, we see that He lay, sat, walked, stood, rose, reclined, was asleep, and even fell on His face before God in prayer, but we never see Him curled up in a fetal position.

Jesus never displayed Fetal-Position Faith, which says, “not Your will, God, but mine be done! Please, oh please, oh please, oh please!”

Jesus displayed Face-Down Faith, which says, “Not My will, God, but Yours be done.” (Matthew 14:36)

Face-down faith is a selfless faith. It not only recognizes the sovereignty of God to control every situation, but it’s also fine with His choices.

Face-down faith acknowledges that God is God and can, therefore, do as He pleases. It never loses sight of His perfect character. It understands that God’s choices are the ones we’d make for ourselves, too, if we could see what He sees.

In Daniel 3, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego displayed face-down faith and were rewarded with the ultimate story to share over dinner. Imagine being able to say, “The other day my buddies and I were walking around in a fire…”

I’m jealous of their story—on this side of it!

If I’d been there with them before the miraculous end, I’d only have known was that if God didn’t stop it from happening, my friends and I would die. Even trusting in God’s sovereignty, I’d likely have curled up into a fetal-position, begging God not to let our death be part of His great plan.

Fetal-Position Faith says, “not Your will, God, but mine be done! Please, oh please, oh please, oh please!”

If only God would let us see the end from the beginning—as He sees it—when life explodes, but then we wouldn’t need faith, we’d have sight.

If I’d had sight at the fiery furnace, I would’ve been excited, not fearful, knowing in advance that I’d be walking out victorious, without even the smell of smoke on me. God shows us what He wants us to see, though, for a reason.

While we wait for sight, how do we move from Fetal-Position Faith to Face-Down Faith?

First, we need to understand some things about fear, and then some things about ourselves.

Some Facts About Fear:

  • The more we love something, the more thoughts of something bad happening to it causes fear to grow in our hearts, sometimes even paralyzing us.

When my children were young, we took them to the state fair and placed them onto rides we’d just watched other mother’s children enjoy. However, the instant the ride took off with my children, fear gripped me. Terrified I’d witness them catapulting into the stratosphere, I couldn’t watch them. I only feared the ride when it held my children. 

  • Fear makes us feel intensely . . . for some it’s exciting, for others it uncomfortable.

Thrill junkies thrive on the sensation. Fear drives them forward with excitement and the exhilarating rush of adrenalin. For normal people like me, the sensation of fear is more than just uncomfortable—the rush of adrenalin is terrifying. Others fall somewhere in between.

Some Facts About Us:

  • What makes us feel uncomfortable varies depending on the person.

Bring out a syringe in front of my oldest daughter and she may pass out. Draw a gallon of blood from my youngest daughter, and she’ll marvel at the blood flowing through the tube.

My son hangs off cliffs for fun. I can’t even watch a cartoon of a kid hanging off a cliff.

  • We don’t like to feel uncomfortable.

A thrill junkie has a high discomfort-tolerance, but when theirs is reached, they don’t like it either.

I suppose God gave us that threshold to stop us from doing something that would kill us. Most of us don’t cross that threshold. Others of us say, ‘Hey y’all! Watch this!”

  • We’ll attempt to stop whatever causes us discomfort, unless a stronger emotion takes over.  

Nothing portrays this better than the movie 127 Hours, which is based on the true story of the lone mountain climber whose arm got helplessly stuck in a rock. His fear of cutting his arm loose was terrifying. The fear of dying there alone overcame that fear of excruciating pain. He cut off his own trapped-arm with a small multi-tool knife, and not only lived to tell about it, but also to have James Franco play him in the movie.

How does Face-Down Faith become Fetal-Position Faith?

Knowing some facts about us and about fear sheds light on why at times we’re able to walk in Face-Down Faith and other times we curl up into Fetal-Position Faith.

We may be fully confident that God can do all things, but fearful He’ll choose a path that makes us uncomfortable beyond our limit.

Thus, we get to the root of the problem for us:

God is ok with pain.

Don’t you just want to scream, “NO!!!” as I do?

What are we to do with this truth?

Read my next post, When Life Explodes — Part Three, where I’ll share with you what I believe God has taught me through the Bible about how we can walk in the freedom and light of face-down faith instead of curling up cowering and defeated, in fetal-position faith when life explodes. 

(Quick, important disclaimer: I am NOT saying God is fine with abuse. Any abuse is wrong. Wisely seek immediate help. Those who are abused are often too afraid to expose their abuser. Throw yourself face-down before God and trust Him to give you the strength to get to safety. Curling up in a fetal-position and staying in the abusive situation will only lead to a worse situation down the road.)

Have you ever experienced fetal-position faith, or am I the only one?  I’d love to hear from you. Click on “Comment.”

To read When Life Explodes — Part Three Click Here