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Ignite Your FaithIgnite Your Faith

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Does God Really Care If We Win?

Are sports too trivial for God to care about?

Guy catches a pass, zips down the sidelines and into the end zone for a touchdown. Then he drops to one knee, bows his head and prays.

Cool or uncool?

To tell the truth, I'm undecided on this one. For the most part, I think it's cool … till I see that same guy throwing a fit on the sidelines or cussing out a ref. And then I don't know what to think, other than, "hypocrite."

Still, I wonder: How should Christian athletes demonstrate their faith on the field, if at all?

Certainly, Christian athletes should show good sportsmanship, play hard, and play by the rules. Part of "demonstrating" your faith includes using your gifts and talents to the best of your ability—and to God's glory.

But what about these public displays of piety?

Quarterback Danny Wuerffel, the 1996 Heisman Trophy winner from the University of Florida, clasped his hands in prayer and looked to the heavens after every touchdown pass.

I wondered: Why only after touchdowns? Wasn't he just as thankful that God was in control after throwing an interception? Should we only thank God after scoring six points? And does God really care if we win?

Some people say religion has nothing to do with sports. I don't buy that. I think that our faith has something to do with everything we do, including sports.

Yes, Christian athletes should acknowledge God. I'm just not sure exactly how to best go about it.

I wanna know what you think. How should Christian athletes acknowledge God? Should they do it publicly? Should they do it during the game, with some sort of gesture, or save it for a private moment after the game?

Achievers

Kara Shields. Kara was an honorable mention all-state basketball player at Cook Inlet Academy in Soldotna, Alaska. During the summer of '96, Kara, who wants to be a missionary, traveled with an all-Christian all-star team to Europe, where they shared their faith during halftime at each game. Kara, who has also taken missions trips to Russia, Peru and Bolivia, says, "My relationship with Jesus Christ has been the best thing that ever happened to me. He's always been there for me, whether I was there for him or not. I consider Jesus my best friend." Kara is now a freshman at Simpson College in Redding, California.

John Dulaney. John was a football and track standout at Turpin (OK) High School. He was an all-state and all-star offensive lineman in football, and a fine middle-distance runner in track. John was also president of three activities at Turpin—student council, the drama club and the Fellowship of Christian Athletes. John says his accomplishments come from "the strength that I have achieved in my personal relationship with Jesus Christ … that little lamb seated at the right hand of my Father's throne." John is now a freshman at South Plains College in Levelland, Texas.

Alyssa Bruinsma. Alyssa was Female Athlete of the Year at Grand Rapids (MI) Baptist High School, where she was all-conference in volleyball and softball. She was the team captain in basketball and volleyball, and graduated near the top of her class with a 3.9 grade-point average. Alyssa, now playing softball at Taylor University in Upland, Indiana, says she has "learned so much about God through his Word, the Bible. It gives me great comfort in every situation in my life. I know God is in control and that he will provide for me and carry me through the rough waters of life."

Body & Soul

for your physical and spiritual health

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!
— 2 Corinthians 5:17

—The "winter blues" can be very real, especially in the north where the days are short. It's even got a name: Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). Symptoms include depression, mild anxiety and fatigue. What to do? Getting outside an hour a day, even when the weather's cold and cloudy, helps a lot.

—Are you making some New Year's resolutions concerning diet or exercise, but wonder if you'll be able to keep them? Suggestion: Cut your lofty goals in half. Wanna exercise an hour a day? Go for a half-hour instead. Wanna lose 10 pounds? Go for five. Set goals you know you'll reach.

—You already know cigarettes kill. But did you know they can be lethal even if you don't smoke? Secondhand smoke kills 53,000 Americans every year. So, avoid smoke whenever you can.

John Vanbiesbrouck
goalie
Florida Panthers

SEE YOU AT THE POLE: John hasn't always been a goalie. While playing forward as a kid in Detroit, he ran into a pole sticking out of the ground! He decided it'd be much safer tending the nets.

A REAL ALL-STAR: John, a three-time All-Star, has been one of the toughest goalies in the National Hockey League. He led the Panthers to the Stanley Cup Finals in 1996, when they lost to the Colorado Avalanche. Last year, the Panthers lost in the first round of the playoffs, but this year, they expect to contend for the championship again.

STRONG MAN: John says he's encouraged by Philippians 4:13, which says, "I can do all things through Christ Jesus who strengthens me." Says John, "That type of foundation is as strong as it gets. Nothing is stronger in this world."