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Thursday, June 16, 2005

The Pharisee and ESPNRadio

Like everyone else with a sin nature, I find myself prone to excess (but possibly more excessively!). Moderation is definitely a term that seems to escape my life. I seem to be able to twist every gift into something unhealthy for me.

"Hi, my name is Danny and I am an ESPNRadio-aholic." I love sports. I love to watch sports. I love to listen to sports. I even love to listen to people talk about the sports they have watched. Is there anything wrong with that? Unless in excess, no.

And herein lies the problem. I find myself controlled by the stupid radio. I begin scheduling my errands around programs or guests that will be appearing on radio. I look for thoughtless work I can accomplish so that I can keep the radio on even while at work. "So what?" you may be thinking.

Well, I don't like who I become when this happens. My every thought seems to become captive to the arena of sport. Not that it is Sodom and Gomorrah, but men without a Christian worldview do tend to discuss woman and sex in a way that doesn't glorify God. The cynicism and loveless dialogue seem to invade my heart and speech. I don't like what it then does to my heart. I worry that my passion for sports starts to rival my passion for my Lord.

So I turn it off, and stay away from it. This battle has raged for nearly 10 years now, and trust me when I say I seem to swing between the two extremes. I either listen to it way too much, or I avoid it. There doesn't seem to be a middle ground. Like the alcoholic, I convince myself I can listen to just a short program and I'll be fine. One week later, I realize I've practically had the radio on at all times. My gluttony on sports radio effects the quality of my walk with the Lord, so I choose to turn it off.

But is the battle over now? What does it say about my walk that I am not capable of listening to something without it consuming me? Doesn't this expose a weakness in my walk with the Lord? Is this weakness just "my thorn in the flesh" and I just should delight in God's sufficient grace? Do I have to overcome this weakness? If I do overcome it, how will I know? Will I be able to listen some day in moderation and not have it effect me?

I struggle to evaluate whether I've become a Pharisee (establishing my own rules to create my own self-righteousness) or whether I'm just guarding my heart (Proverbs 4:23). I know as Christians, we can be quick to solve a situation with rules...rules that God hasn't created. Yet, I fear that at times, we abandon safeguards because we fear becoming a Pharisee. God reveals to us that something effects our walk, but we refuse to give it up because we fear that the refusal may be some form of self-righteousness.

I guess I've adopted the perspective that it effects my walk negatively, so I am going to abadon it. I'm not happy that it effects my walk, I don't want it to. Maybe someday God will grow me in such a way that it no longer will. If and when He does, maybe I'll be able to listen in moderation. How will I know He has done that? I don't know.

Does anyone else ever feel this tension (not necessarily sports radio)? Am I alone here? What has the Lord shown you to draw the line between self-righteouss law making, and God glorifying discipline?


  • At 9:37 AM, Blogger Gary Underwood said…

    Self-discipline is a lifelong battle, I think.

    I think I am a recovering sports-aholic, and I still do like to listen to the radio, but I am experiencing some healthy un-attachment from it of late.

    I have been impressed with two friends of mine (Tim Cooper and Dan Bahry) who have completely cancelled their television and cable. Both guys are extremely huge sports fans, and seem to have somehow kept up with the main things. Both guys have said it's really helped their marriages (which, by the way, were already good), and helped their use of free time.

    I guess here's my latest observation, for which I am extremely grateful:

    I am sick of public athletes. Somewhat sick of sports in general.

    Worse than soap operas (not that I'd know), college and pro sports are full of whining babies who have ALWAYS gotten their way in life.

    It's Kellen Winslow Jr., recklessly riding a motorcycle he has no clue how to ride, tearing his ACL, mocking the fans, and then vowing to be the greatest ever.

    It's Kellen's dad, a pro football hall of famer, ripping into the media for merely asking about his son's injuries. It's Kellen Sr. trying to "protect his kid." Why not let Junior be an adult and either take responsibility for his life or be known as the Mike Tyson that he is.

    Speaking of Mike Tyson... nevermind.

    Speaking of Mikes? How about Mike Doss. Until a month ago, I would have ranked Doss as one of my most favorite athletes of all-time. Played in my backyard at Canton McKinley High, winning a state title. 3-time All-American at Ohio State, winning a national title. Outspoken believer in Christ, speaking and sharing his faith at many events. A month ago, dude fires off a few rounds of gunshots in Akron. He pleads guilty, faces charges, and is suspended from the NFL. Are you kidding me?

    Yep, I'm a Cleveland fan, so I have a right to be sick of sports. As recent reminders, we have Ross Verba, new Cavs owner Dan Gilbert, and of course the entire Indians roster to thank.

    But, you don't have to be from Cleveland to be sick of Phil Jackson, Shaquille O'Neal, Bill Parcells, Barry Bonds, or the countless other big-headed millionaires.

    As Terry Pluto says, "Don't let the millionaires ruin your day."

    I might add to that, "Don't let them MAKE your day, either."

    One day, I'll find out that even Lebron James, Jim Tressel, Ted Ginn Jr., and Romeo Crennel are human too. I'm not holding my breath.

    Granted, I still follow sports. I still hope the Browns improve and the Buckeyes go undefeated again. I still believe Lebron will be the best ever.

    But I also fully expect every Cleveland team to stink. I expect every athlete to be outrageously selfish, turning down millions of dollars in a contract offer, claiming, "I have to support my family."


    I view sports as an outlet, a diversion, and something to laugh at. I guess you just have to laugh at Terrell Owens and Randy Moss, don't you?

    Anyhow, back to my point - if I have one. I am saying that I am sick of sports - and it makes me GLAD to say it. Fantasy sports is literally a whole different topic, because it gets me involved and keeps me in touch with some friends.

  • At 2:37 PM, Blogger danny2 said…

    ok, for those of us whom God has graciously preserved from being fans of cleveland sports, or to those who have never been a fan of sports...

    how do we find the balance between discipline in our life and freedom in Christ. not acting in a way that defiles my relationship with Christ, without becoming more about my action than my heart?

  • At 2:40 PM, Blogger Gary Underwood said…

    Danny, you write:

    "God has graciously preserved from being fans of cleveland sports'

    I ASK...

    How do you know God hasn't "Graciously" allowed some of us to be Cleveland fans - to cause us to trust Him and love Him even more?

    Consider Proverbs 3:11-12.

    'Nuff said.

  • At 7:22 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Hey Danny,
    Does anyone else ever feel this tension (not necessarily sports radio)? ~Oh, yes.~

    Am I alone here? ~No way. ~

    What has the Lord shown you to draw the line between self-righteouss law making, and God glorifying discipline?

    ~Well, still working on the balance. Haven't found it yet. Probably not very encouraging, considering my middle-age status. But what I do know is that God isn't choosing to a.) remove it permanently from my life; b.) remove me permanently from my life; or c.) give me sudden victory. My frequent failure does serve to keep me humble...keep me human...it gives me compassion for others who struggle with similar issues.

    I do think it is wise that you try to put boundaries around the behaviors (or anything else) that affect you negatively, but to throw them out completely because you haven't yet found the balance is a bit too drastic. You, as youth pastor, connect with quite a few teens in the area of sports. It's an "opening" with a lot of guys, especially. Unless you are sure God is telling you to give it all up, I imagine He simply wants you to keep trying to find the balance, too. And maybe stay humble, human and compassionate.


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