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Showing posts with label Football. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Football. Show all posts

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Testimony of Rick Tomnsend

"WHERE ARE YOU?"

MY PURPOSE: Mark 5:19 says, “Go home to your friends and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you.”

"WHERE ARE YOU?"

            I have always heard of Jesus, or about Jesus, but I was just not a follower of Jesus.  I was sprinkled as a young boy at the Methodist Church and considered myself a Christian although I probably didn't really know what that meant.  I never realized God was the one who gave me the ability to excel at sports... which was really my identity back then.  Playing sports was my life water...  I lived, breathed, and thirsted for playing sports when I should have been thirsting for the Lord.  And God said, "Where are you?" (Genesis 3:9)

            After being recruited to play football by a major university, I began using drugs and drinking, feeling a thirst to fit in.  I was still excelling at football... becoming one of only 14 two-time All-Americans at the University of Tennessee.

            In 1972 and 1973, I made Football Writers' All American and Playboy All American teams and was featured in Playboy magazine both of those years.  When I was drafted by the New York Giants in 1975, I felt that my thirst had finally been quenched.  Things didn't work out there and I went to the WFL, having a great year with the Memphis Southmen.  When that league folded, I went back to the New York Giants and was then traded to the San Francisco 49ers.  Life just rolled along and I was still thirsty.  I couldn't find my fill and I never looked to Jesus.  My well ran dry and although I wasn't able to quench that thirst...  I still didn't turn to Jesus, the only one who could quench it.  And God said, "Where are you?"

            My oldest son served time in prison twice and my youngest son spent 6 months in drug rehab, while my middle son was in college on football and academic scholarships.  In 2005, my wife of 33 years divorced me followed by the loss of my mom the next year.  And God said, "Where are you?", but I still didn't get it.

            In 2007, I met Debby and we married in 2008.  Life was looking better.

            In 2013, I was hospitalized with a carbon dioxide level of 117.  Normal range is 35-45.  Within an hour of arriving in the ER, I was on life support in the ICU - where I stayed for the next 13 days.  After coming home, I had to rehab for about 6 weeks.  My wife and I were walking at the track and she started having burning in her upper chest.  She had a heart attack a few days later and we were back in the ICU.

            I told her that as soon as she was able, we were going to church (I had not been to church in 30 years).  That next Sunday we visited Christ Community Church where we still go every Sunday. The third Sunday we were there I felt the Spirit enter my body while listening to "Give Me Jesus," now one of my favorite songs.  My wife said on the way home that I was not the same man she came to church with that morning.

            I now travel around speaking to others about the grace and mercy God has shown this sinner. 

            I now live every day to the fullest, praising God each and every day for allowing me to wake up and experience all the beauty around me.  I especially thank him for using me for times like these... speaking to others in the hopes of reaching people (even if it is just one person) who hasn't been saved and leading them to Jesus.

            Jesus says He is the only way to God the Father.  Some people may argue that this way is too narrow.  In reality, it is wide enough for the whole world, if the world chooses to accept it.  Instead of worrying about how limited it sounds to have only one way, we should be saying, "Thank you, God, for providing a sure way to get to You!"

FOR SPEAKING ENGAGEMENTS:
RICKY TOWNSEND

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

What If Churches Were More Like Football Stadiums?

The Satirical Truth As Far As I Can Tell…

Matthew 2:10-12 – 10 When they saw the star, they were filled with joy! 11 They entered the house and saw the child with his mother, Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasure chests and gave him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.

            The Wisemen traveled from far, far away to come worship the Savior who was born king of the Jews.  They counted it an honor and privilege to go to such great lengths to see baby Jesus and offer their precious gifts.  Oh that we all were as determined to worship Christ as were they.  
            I am always pondering ways to get more people in church to worship the King.  Football is king in the south.  People go to great lengths to see their favorite team play.  Millions flock into overcrowded stadiums each weekend.  Maybe what football stadiums do will work for the church.  You think?

What if we sold expensive tickets for admission?
            Attending church is free.  Sure, we take up an offering, but
it’s totally voluntary.  Maybe that’s the problem.  The cheapest ticket you could buy for the Nov. 10 Auburn/Georgia game was $189/seat (and that was in the nose bleed section).  Good seats on the home side of the 50 yard line were closer to $800-900/person.  So you couldn’t get your family of 5 seats at the game for less than $945.  With prices like that, our church could generate at least $100,000 per service in ticket sales alone.  The only problem I see here is determining which are the best seats in the House.  Most people want to sit up front and close to the action at the game, but usually on the back row in the church service. 

What if we made people pay for their programs?
            We hand out church bulletins for free and they usually end up in the trash or left in the pews after the service.  Last year’s Superbowl program sells online for $17.99 + tax and it’s a collector’s item.  Churches are tax exempt, so you’d still get a bargain if we sold ours at a comparable price.  We could earn thousands from program sales.  (Now we just need to figure out concessions—Holy Communion maybe?) 
Since people are dying to pay these exorbitant prices to squeeze into cramped stadium seats to watch sweaty athletes chase each other, surely they will flock to our church to sit in comfortable cushioned pews in a beautiful sanctuary to worship the Son of God who died on the cross for our sins.  Our sanctuary will be packed and our parking lot won’t be able to handle all the cars.  So…

We’ll need to charge for parking.
            People will pay $7 to park at the SEC championship game, but that’s 10 blocks away.  They’ll have to pay $40 dollars or more to get reasonably close.  Perhaps the church can be generous and just charge $20 for a spot in our lot and subcontract out the rest to nearby businesses.  Those parking lots will only cost $5-10 depending on how far away they are.

What if a church service was as long as a football game?
  No one will pay football prices for a 1 hour church service.  That’s just dumb.  The average football game last 3 hours (even though the ball is actually in play for only about 11 minutes).  People deserve to get what they pay for, so we’ll graciously extend the worship service to 3 hours.  Preachers need a lot more time to go deep anyway.  Think how fast we will be able to cure the biblical illiteracy and moral decline in our nation when we commit so much time, energy, effort, and money to worshiping and learning about Christ in church.  Of course, I’m no expert and I certainly don’t claim to know everything, but that’s the satirical Truth as far as I can tell…
Remember, God loves you and so do I!

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Super Bowl Sadness

The Truth As Far As I Can Tell…

Well, it was a heart breaking loss for the Falcons in the Super Bowl on Sunday.  There are  a lot of sad Atlanta fans as I write these words.  I admit I felt the heartbreak too as I watched the Patriots come back in the fourth quarter to win a game everyone thought the Falcons had in the bag.  But Monday morning, I felt my spirits “rise up” within me again as the Lord reminded me what’s really important.  It isn’t a game or a football team or a Super Bowl ring.  It’s the Kingdom of God.  Matthew 6:33 – “Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.”

            It happens every year on the first Sunday in February.  The NFL spends a tremendous amount of money (and makes even more) by hyping up the Super Bowl until it seems it is the most important thing in the world.  They never say, “Well, it’s just a game.”  To a lot of the players it is more than a game.  A lot of money and fame is at stake.  It can even open up a lifetime of doors for the coaches and athletes who win a Super Bowl ring (just as Fred Stokes said at our Super Bowl Sunday Service). 

However, we fans sometimes need to remember, it is just a game for us.  The Falcons’ loss was an emotionally charged event for many, many people in our area.  But think about it:  it doesn’t have any bearing whatsoever on 99.99% of your life.  An emotional loss like this can be a good time to reflect on what really is important in your life.  Doing so can help you enjoy watching sports more—whether you win or lose—and keep a proper perspective.

Though the Falcons lost, Pleasant Grove had an incredible “win” in church this Sunday.  There were at least 177 people in worship.  We had 20 people visit our church.  The seeds of God’s Word were planted as many were moved by Fred Stokes’ powerful testimony. He shared how God has been in control of his life and is in control of ours too.  He shared how his Super Bowl victory in 1992 was just a tool God used to open doors for more important work in Fred’s life—speaking in schools and churches, working with kids and young men.  God has plans for all of us—plans that are so much more important than a Super Bowl.  Are you focused on the plans God has for you?  Are you ready to do the truly important work of His Kingdom?

I was deeply moved by one of Fred’s stories in particular.  He shared how his great aunt took him to church every Sunday when Fred was a child.  Sometimes, the only people at church were Fred and his great aunt, but they had the service anyway.  She would give Fred some money before the service and ask him to put it in the offering plate.  At the time, it must have seemed an insignificant and futile affair.  What could come of such a small church service with just and old lady and a small child in attendance?  What difference do a few coins placed in an offering plate make?  How could that ever compare to the spectacle of a Super Bowl?  Yet years later, Fred revealed how significant those services were—how it shaped who he became, carried him through a depression and attempted suicide, kept him grounded through his failures and his victories, and pointed him towards something truly important and eternal:  faith in Jesus Christ.

Perhaps today, in the aftermath of the Super Bowl, we can all remember what’s really important so that we can push ahead with the truly significant work God has for us.  Of course, I’m no expert and I certainly don’t claim to know everything, but that’s the Truth as far as I can tell…

Remember, God loves you and so do I!