Last night as we prepared to watch New England’s 45-10 dismantling of Denver, there was an ad that came on featuring a group of children reciting John 3:16. Some read a verse, some interjected things like, “that’s a lot of people”. I’m not here to pontificate about the ad, but about mine and KC’s reactions to it- and how we were both off base a bit.
KC, being in a cynical time in his life, immediately said, “It’s just a shame that they have to have kids come on and say what grown men are ashamed to.” Which is true, but it really didn’t apply here, and I admonished him with, “I don’t think it’s about grown men being ashamed, but about kids being cuter.” KC’s right, in a way, though; but the shame might lean more toward the fact that we need something “cute” to draw our attention to the message.
Where I jumped the track was in attitude; as I watched, I was all about wondering who sponsored the ad (Focus on the Family, as it turned out). I’m thinking, who’s going to catch the wrath of all the “civil libertarians” out there this time? The UMC? The Catholic Church? Perhaps the Mormons, as that is a) Tim Tebow’s church, b) the Bible verse the world is currently attaching to Tebow, and c) it is his team getting pummeled at the moment. And of course, the answer here is, what of it? Mormons are in the spotlight lately what with Mitt Romney’s campaign, Tebow’s successes (or lack thereof), and the recent “I am a Mormon” ad campaign. And it would seem the “proper” evangelical take on this “should be” “Pay no attention to them, they are a cult”. That is what we’ve been taught, but I’ve been thinking about that. I don’t know what goes on either inside their church or in their hearts; I don’t know if they consider Joseph Smith a prophet or a nutball that just happened to start their church (from what I’ve HEARD, I lean toward the second). But I do know that their ad campaign features the redeeming effect of the love of Christ in their lives, and then I look at Mark 9:38-40:
Mar 9:38 And John answered him, saying, Master, we saw one casting out demons in Your name, and he does not follow us. And we forbade him, because he does not follow us.
Mar 9:39 But Jesus said, Do not forbid him. For there is no one who shall do a work of power in My name who can lightly speak evil of Me.
Mar 9:40 For he who is not against us is for us.
And yet, all of that was off the point that God made to me this morning. The point was the children themselves. Now, it’s easy for us to think, “Will they still believe this when they are older?” And with the hordes of FFR chomping at the bit to “evangelize” such kids for atheism (which “isn’t a religion”, I am told), It’s easy to be discouraged on the subject.
But then, it hit me, as I prayed that God would keep each one of them in this faith they show now. It hit me that I can PRAY for them, and be confident that my Loving God will do His will in their lives.
And conversely, FFR can spread their hate far and wide, but… they have nobody to PRAY TO to prevent the saving of these children’s souls.
Which brings us back to KC’s cynicism, and my own pessimism about this world. It’s so hard to watch every day the evil that people run after, the bad choices made, and those who actively (whether they realize it or not) work to see Satan’s will done on earth. But we forget the HUGE ADVANTAGE we have in that WE CAN PRAY! And those prayers put the Creator of the universe on our side.
Now I don’t have to harass FFR to know what their response to that is- “Go ahead and talk to your imaginary friend and see what good it does.” They have a limited conception that would only accept a God who performs like a genie in a bottle. Say a prayer, and “Poof” comes the answer. Sorry, Jafar, it don’t work that way. God’s goal is not one of this earth, and often can’t be seen on this earth.
So this morning, I praise my “Imaginary Friend” because He is the Big Advantage- and all that I need to get through. And thank you for those children. It is not surprising to me that the verses immediately BEFORE the ones I quoted go like this:
Mar 9:36 And He took a child, and embraced it, and set him in their midst. And He said to them,
Mar 9:37 Whoever receives one of such children on My name receives Me. And whoever receives Me does not only receives Me, but Him who sent Me.
And now on to the “+”. Lokomotiv played Mechel Chelyabinsk yesterday morning. Mechel blew out to a 3-1 lead by 11:55 into the game on goals by Dmitry Tsybin (4:28), Nikita Panasenko (7:57), and Sergei Topol (11:55). Rafael Akhmetov got his 4th to tie things at 1-1 for about 2 minutes before the deluge hit. But we weren’t rolling over just yet; Kirill Kapustin got his 3rd at 17:08 to cut it to a 3-2 game after 1 period. Youngster Nikita Lozhkin got pulled after Panasenko’s goal- having given up 2 scores on 5 shots- and Pavel Shegala came in.
But the real star was Mechel goalie Vladislav Fokin. Despite a 14-6 barrage against him in the second, the score did not change. Dmitry Kostromitin gave Mechel back a 2-score advantage just 23 seconds into the third, on one of their 6 shots they got in the period. Again Lokomotiv terrorized Fokin, out shooting Mechel 17-6 ( and thus 31-12 over the last two periods), but could not beat him again until Emil Galimov tallied his 4th with 3:11 left. But even with Shegala on the bench the rest of the way for the sixth attacker, Fokin would not be moved, and Lokomotiv had lost its third straight game. Mechel, perhaps, won a pyrrhic victory, with 4 players going down with injuries- two with fractures- in the course of the game. For our part, coach Petr Vorobiev said that while they team played well, “The goalies played poorly, and this is the result.”
Monday, the boys will face off against Yuzhny Ural (South Urals) out of Orsk, a city located where the line between Europe and Asia reaches the Kazakh border. The ticket office opened for this game Saturday morning and sold out all 4,500 tickets in 3 hours! If nothing else, Lokomotiv really brings out the crowds across the league to see them. For example, 2,500 turned out for Saturday’s game in Chelyabinsk; the Game Mechel had Thursday against Yuzhny drew 750. ( the caveat being that Orsk draws well normally, and the night after Mechel drew 750 the big team-KHL leading Traktor- drew ten times that to watch their team get beat 2-1 in a shootout by… wait for it… Avtomobilst!)