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Airing up the Ball

John Baugh
February, 2009

One of the ministries I enjoy at church is sharing children’s moments. You probably know what a children's moment is, but I will explain. Just before our pastor begins his message each Sunday morning, the children of our congregation (those who are old enough to not be in the nursery) are invited to come down to the altar and sit with whoever has volunteered to do children’s moment for that day. There are several people (laymen and women) in our congregation who enjoy doing children’s moments and we take turns, so I probably do six or eight of these mini messages each year. As it happens, this message occurred on Super Bowl (#46) Sunday (the day of the US-National Professional Football Championship). I originally intended to do a message concerning football players, their jobs as a part of the team, the need for them to give 100% effort and how that relates to our lives of Christian service. I like to use props when I do children's moments and so that Sunday morning I went looking for our football. It had been a while since I had seen it and when I finally found it, the condition was as illustrated in the photo.


That’s a pretty sad state for any football, but if you look at the photo you might be able to see that this was a pretty good football at one time. As I looked at the ball, trying to decide if it was worthwhile to clean it and air it up, I decided to change my children's moment message. I’ll share the version I presented that day here.

By the way when I present these messages to the Children, for the most part I ignore the several hundred adults that are seated in the pews of our sanctuary, listening as they wait for me to finish. My messages seem to be about as popular with the adults as they are with the children and when an adult tells me that they enjoyed the message I always tell them that I try to make the messages simple enough for the adults to understand and if I am able to accomplish that the messages usually make perfect sense to the children!

Here is my football message:

“Do you know what this is? Yes, it is a football. Since this is Super Bowl Sunday I thought we might talk about football and I brought this old ball to use. Actually at one time this was a very good football but it looks a little sad today, doesn't it? You see, this football is only about half filled with air. It is dirty, beat up and it looks pretty bad. Actually, in this condition it is not much good for anything. Many Christians are like this football. All of the right stuff is there. We were well constructed and at one time we were properly equipped to serve God. Another way of putting that is that we were “suitable for use”. The thing is, at one time this football was in good shape and suitable for use in any game, but not any more.

The sad thing is that the ball was not properly cared for and over time it has become almost useless. Before any football is placed into play in a game, the equipment manager makes certain it is suitable for use in the game. If it is not, it is tossed back into the locker and never used. If it goes long enough like this, eventually it is no good for anything.

Maybe it's the same with Christians. When we accept Christ, God’s Holy Spirit comes to live within each of us. Just like a fully aired up, brand new football, we are fully suitable for use by our Master. However, some Christians almost immediately begin losing the things that God wants us to have. They sit around and lose their closeness to the Lord. Then they lose their spirit. They forget to pray and read their Bible. They stop spending time with God each day and pretty soon, just like this sad, dirty old football, they are no longer all that useful. They look a little like a Christian, just like this looks a little like a football, but the truth is they are not much good, because they have become empty of the things that God needs in them. You might say that they let the Holy Spirit of God leak out, just like the air has leaked out of this dirty, dried up old ball.

You see if a football is not properly cared for - cleaned and oiled and kept filled up, it is not much use for the game. I think it is the same with Christians. We need to be cleaned, oiled and filled up each day to remain suitable for use by God. We get these things we need through daily prayer, reading our Bibles and seeking out closeness with God. The fact is he is always close and anxious to keep us filled up with his Holy Spirit, but we need to make ourselves available to him if those things are going to happen.

I don't know about you, but if I am going to be a football, I want to be ready for use at all times, cleaned and oiled and properly maintained. I want God to see me at any moment and think, "John is ready to be used right now." When God looks at Christians that is what he wants, too. He wants us to be ready for use at all times.  


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