“Each of us must please our neighbor for the good purpose of building up the neighbor.”--Romans 15:2
Jim Lee Howell was born in Lonoke, Arkansas in 1914. He would go on to have a most un-Lonoke County life. A dual letterman, all-SWC Razorback athlete, he was drafted by the New York Giants in 1937. Between 1937 and 1947 Howell was a professional football player, an Arkansas farmer, for one year a State Representative; and, when the war came, a US Marine. That’s one heck of an adventure in itself.
In 1954, Howell was named the head coach of the Giants. He accepted the job, but on the condition that he be able to hire assistant coaches in what we now call offensive and defensive coordinator roles. He would go on to post the best winning percentage of any Giant head coach (.684 minimum 3 seasons) and lead his team to three championship games, winning one.
His New York Giants are perhaps best remembered for a game they didn’t win. The 1958 championship against the Baltimore Colts was a televised, sudden-death overtime thriller and is known in football lore as “The Greatest Game Ever Played”. It’s also credited with helping the NFL grow in popularity and set it on the course to be the behemoth it is today.
Howell’s talent, skill, and foresight are impressive, but perhaps his greatest contribution to the sport (and maybe to the American mythos) lies in his gift at choosing those coordinators. His defensive coordinator would leave the team to become the first coach of an expansion team in Dallas, a job he would hold for an unbelievable 29 years (posting 20 consecutive winning seasons, 12 championship appearances including five Super Bowls, and two Super Bowl titles). Howell’s offensive coordinator was named Vince Lombardi.
As the Epistle to the Romans wraps up, the Apostle Paul exhorts us to put the gifts of salvation and sanctification into service. He has led us all this way to show us what we are to do next. The power and beauty of Romans is that it begins by helping us to examine our hearts and hear God calling to us. It leads us to a recognition of the majesty of the Almighty and a humbling of our ego as we realize that salvation is a gift freely offered to all (Gentile and Jew). The gift of salvation does not come at a price, but rather with a Spirit-driven awareness that we have a responsibility to share our understanding, our fervor for the Divine and our talents to further the work of the Kingdom.
We are called to build up those around us. The Christ who died for me died for my neighbor also. The least I can do is follow the guidance of the Spirit to love and accept my neighbor and do all in my power to help them find their part in the Heavenly plan.
Jim Lee Howell died in his hometown of Lonoke in 1995. In 2007 the Professional Football Researchers Association named him to their “Hall of Very Good” (recognizing contributors who were not in the Hall of Fame). The six Hall of Famers he coached were recipients of his commitment to building them up, but then so were Tom Landry and Vince Lombardi. The Howell legacy is living on and always will. Just like it was supposed to.
Romans 12:3-8 3 For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of yourself more highly than you ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned. 4 For as in one body we have many members, and not all the members have the same function, 5 so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually we are members one of another. 6 We have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us: prophecy, in proportion to faith; 7 ministry, in ministering; the teacher, in teaching; 8 the exhorter, in exhortation; the giver, in generosity; the leader, in diligence; the compassionate, in cheerfulness.
Take a moment to really examine your hands. Did you ever think about what a precious gift your hands are? Did you ever consider all the ways you can use your hands to touch others with God’s love?
Hands can hold or gently squeeze someone else’s hands, pat a crying baby, wipe away a tear, place bandage on a scraped knee, help to give a hug, point the right direction for someone, give a high five.
Hands can write a letter or type an e-email, paint a picture, create a gift for someone, pick flowers to give, play an instrument for others to hear, help make cakes and cookies to share, knock on a friend’s door, and dial a phone number to say we “we care.”
Hands can turn on a light, open a window, put things in place, pick something up, wipe an area clean, plant a seed, and feed the birds.
Hands can open Bibles, be folded in prayer, give an offering, be placed on someone who is being baptized, give and receive the bread and cup for Communion, and reach out to welcome another. Hands are one of God’s many loving gifts to us. We show God our thanks by using our hands as loving gifts to
During the rest of the week, ask God each day to show you a special way you can use your hands to reach out to someone and share God’s love. Then commit to doing these things.
Lord, I give my hands to you.
Hold them, guide them, let them be hands that move to show I care,
Hands that move to spread your love.
Lord, take my hands.
And use them as you will.
Taken from “At Home with God Family Devotions for the School Year”
Christian Education Coordinator
I imagine a number of us have caught various events of the Winter Olympics. I love to watch the Olympics if I get the opportunity. The athletes competing are at the top for their game. They are the best of the best at the moment, and it’s thrilling to see them compete in their various fields of expertise. This past Sunday, I was watching one of the cross-country ski events. I was amazed to watch these athletes skim across the snow with effortless motion. They would pump their legs and arms up hills and crouch low and compress their bodies as they slid down inclines. What appeared like effortless motion was years’ worth of training and effort.
As I watched, I was reminded of a book entitled Resurrecting Excellence by Gregory Jones. In his exploration of what excellence looks like in Christianity, he draws attention to an essay written by Daniel F. Chambliss entitled, “The Mundanity of Excellence.” In the essay, Chambliss focuses attention upon the difference between Olympic swimmers and those who get close to the Olympic level. He concludes that what sets apart Olympic swimmers from those who don’t quite make it isn’t talent or hard work. Rather, what sets Olympians apart from the rest is their focus and attention upon the mundane. As Chambliss notes, ‘“Of course, there is no secret; there is only the doing of all those little things, each one done correctly, time and again, until excellence in every detail becomes a firmly ingrained habit, an ordinary part of one’s everyday life (Resurrecting Excellence, 57).”’
There is no secret. Rather what sets an Olympian apart from the rest of the pack is a constancy of attention toward the small things. The minute details that can easily be overlooked (like constant diet, placement of fingers on the ski pole, angle of chin, etc.), are given attention. And they work daily to get those details right. As a result, these details become habit. They become natural and allow the athlete to excel.
Certainly, this is a reminder to me the attention necessary to the Christian life on a daily, regular basis. Paraphrasing John Wesley, he once remarked the goal of the Christian life is the movement of sporadic love in one’s life to a consistent love over the course of a lifetime. In order to achieve this goal, it requires to attention to the details of daily living. How do I think about other people? How do I speak about my brothers and sisters in Christ? Are my words tempered with grace? Do I give people the benefit of the doubt? How do I interact with strangers? Am I practicing the spiritual disciplines consistently? Am I half-heartedly giving my attention to my prayer life when I need God? All to say, to be the follower of Jesus God desires of us requires our attention to the details. May we consistently focus our attention on the daily aspects of our walk, so we can be who God desires us to be!
This is the title of the present study we are doing in Ladies’ Bible study, “Messy People – Life Lessons from Imperfect Biblical Heroes”, by Jennifer Cowart. We started with our first lesson this last Tuesday, February 1st. We also had an introductory session, and I’ve been thinking a lot about this term, Messy People.
I don’t think of myself really as a “Messy Person”. I try to stay clean and neat in my physical appearance. (My husband would probably disagree about my housework habits.) But, as I learned in our first session, being a “Messy Person”, is definitely not about my physical appearance. The author points out that if God wanted something significant done, wouldn’t He choose someone who had it all together? But, as we are going to learn in this study, a lot of our Biblical heroes shatter that image. God uses Messy People, maybe even me. Jennifer points out that God chooses people with rough resumes and imperfect pasts to get His tough tasks done.
God looks beyond the flaws and sees who He created each of us to be. He sees someone He has chosen. Just as I was reading this particular passage, I was sitting in the car at Wendy’s waiting for Angela to pick up our dinner. A car pulled up, this lady was struggling to get out of the car because of her size and her disability of having to walk with a cane. That was the outward appearance I saw. I thought to myself, thank you God I don’t have to struggle like that. But, then I stopped and gave it further consideration. That’s not what God sees. He sees someone He created, a beautiful creation that has some physical limitations. She is God’s masterpiece. Paul had some sort of physical limitation, but we’re not sure what it was. But, he certainly was one of God’s masterpieces.
I challenge you (and myself). When you look at people, don’t “see” the outward, physical appearance of that person. “See” the beautiful masterpiece that God created. Is this going to be easy? Absolutely not! If you think you are just too flawed by intangible messes such as illness, conflict, depression, abuse, bankruptcy, addiction, relationship challenges, know this: As we see in the Bible, God loves to use Messy People!!
I invite ladies to join us as we examine the messy stories of Rahab, the prodigal son, Josiah, Mary, David and Daniel. We will learn how God can use broken people, repair damaged hearts and relationships, and help us deal with the hard moments of life. Don’t think that applies to you? You might be surprised. Along the way, we’ll discover that we don’t have to just endure messy lives, but can actually learn to thrive with God’s guidance and help. In the hands of God, our messes can become His masterpieces! If you are interested in this study, contact me at 501-590-4567, so that I supply you with a book and provide the Zoom link for our meetings.
Jo Ann Silvi
and Finance Manager
For those of you that are not around me very much, you may not realize that I’m a very practical and simple person. My family and friends can contest to this when it comes to my gift giving or my wish list request around Christmas, and it extends to other holidays or events where gift giving is expected.
The Lord knew what he was doing when he matched me up with the most practical man on the planet. When it comes to Valentine’s Day, he isn’t the guy to spend four times the amount on flowers or spend $20 on a box of four pieces of miscellaneous chocolate. He would never book a dinner at a restaurant that is overcrowded and has a “special menu” for the evening that might choose to double the price just because it is Valentine’s day. We both say, thanks, but no thanks to celebrating it that way.
I hope you will not begin to think of us as the Scrooges of Valentine’s Day. Please, don’t get me wrong! I don’t mean to knock it because I know so many love this day and all its attempts to make another feel loved. You embrace this day with all of its frivolous and extravagant ways to tell others you love them. Of course, you believe you should show your love to others every day, but there is something so sweet about a day set apart just to celebrate love.
Regardless of which camp we are in on Valentine’s Day, I think we can find a healthy place for this day. After all, when Jesus was asked what is the greatest commandment of all He addressed this topic of “love”. He shared in Matthew 22:37-39, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”
Our God is all about love, all about it! It’s the greatest commandment He had for us – love Him and love others. Pretty simple, or at least our approach to it can be. We don’t have to participate in all that is expected of us this Valentine’s. However, we can try our hardest to love God and love others well during this season. The world has already defined how we can best love on this day. Let’s redefine our approach and love with a greater intentionality and genuine heart.
Here are some suggestions of how you can show love to others on Valentine’s Day (or on the other 364 days of the year). 1) Study the topic of Love during the month of February. The Bible is full of verses addressing the topic. 2) Put together Valentine Bags for the Homeless. 3) Consider doing something for those who might be alone on Valentine’s Day: A widow or widower, recently divorced woman, a single girl from your neighborhood, church or work or elderly people in a nursing home. 4) Send love letters/Valentines to friends and family. 4) Leave random love notes to the special people in your loves. 5) Make positive affirmation note mailboxes for your workplace, classroom or home. The wonderful thing about showing love these ways, it can be done all the other days of the calendar besides February 14.
Now if you are one that enjoys doing all the flowers, candy and out to dinner on Valentine’s Day, you better get busy placing your orders and making reservations because you only have a little over two weeks before this holiday arrives.
With the LOVE of Christ in my heart,
Be Guinn, Youth Director and Lay Servant