Standing Tall on Their Knees
Living Stones Series: First Published in All Around Old Bridge Publication – May 2018
By Pastor Lloyd Pulley
"You gave us the talent. You gave us the strength. This team had so many injuries, so we had no business being here. But God, when you are for us, no one can be against us. Thank you for being for us."
A Philadelphia offensive lineman spoke these words in prayer to God right after his team won the world championship football game. This player and half a dozen others knelt in prayer, clasping each other's gloved hands and giving glory to God alone for their big game victory.
Amazingly, these players took a knee not in controversial protest of the American flag, but rather in humble adoration of a God who is far greater than the game of football. In this one moment, these players acknowledged that "making it" in this life – developing talent and accumulating fame, money, and an adventurous lifestyle – is not all there is to life. These premier athletes live for a purpose far greater than winning a championship ring.
Faith these days may be focused on a seemingly arbitrary set of beliefs. For example, people can have faith in the universe, faith in others, and faith that their favorite team will win the game. But rarely do people focus on the true meaning of faith, which is centered on the object of that faith. What, or rather who, you put your faith in is far more important than how much faith you have.
For example, men and women of the Bible made remarkable life decisions because they had faith in the almighty God of the Bible. By faith Abraham, after waiting decades, saw God's promise of a son fulfilled. In fact, when asked to sacrifice his son, Abraham believed that God would raise Isaac from the dead if necessary. By faith Moses forfeited his exalted position in Egypt, with all of its associated creature comforts and passing pleasures, choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God. By faith Paul and Silas worshiped God, despite being savagely beaten and thrown into prison for their faith.
By faith others "subdued kingdoms, worked righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, became valiant in battle" (Hebrews 11:33-34).
Yes, the faith described here is only great because its object is great. Faith is not a force in and of itself, but God Himself is.
Faith in the God of the Bible led these professional football players from Philadelphia to pray publicly after winning the biggest game of their careers, and to give thanks to the One who made that day possible.
Philadelphia quarterback Carson Wentz said it well, "I think what we're always challenging each other with is not to lose sight of the bigger picture. Wins, losses, highs, lows, everything that comes with this game, it's so easy to take your mind and your eyes off the ultimate prize, and that's living for the Lord."
Faith like this stands tall, or, in this case, kneels humbly in dependent prayer whether on a football field or a mission field.
The faith of players like Wentz has caught the attention of many throughout the nation, and has brought down barriers during an otherwise charged and divisive football season. The unifying nature of these players' faith led them to launch The Faith Playbook, a three-hour event to help men stand strong in faith. During this event on Friday, May 4, Carson Wentz, Nick Foles, Zach Ertz, Trey Burton, Jordan Hicks, Chris Maragos, and Jordan Matthews sit down with best-selling author Dr. Paul David Tripp to discuss matters of life and faith. These champion athletes will open up about winning, injuries, family life, giving back, their special locker room bond, and why their relationship with Jesus drives everything they do, on and off the field.
Given the players' popularity, tickets for the in-person event in Philadelphia sold out in less than three hours. As a result, the Calvary Chapel Old Bridge Men's Ministry will host the event via livestream in the main auditorium of Calvary, located at 123 White Oak Lane in Old Bridge. The event will begin at 5:30PM with a BBQ, complete with a Pitmaster, followed by the livestream event at 7pm on Friday, May 4. Tickets are available at www.ccob.org.
I for one am incredibly interested in hearing what these players have to say, especially to men. In perhaps no other context would so many New York football fans come together to hear Philadelphia players!
I am personally inviting ALL MEN to join us. Whether you attend this church, some other church, or attend no house of worship at all, you will have an unparalleled opportunity to hear from incredible football players, players who stood tall, even on their knees!