The Bible and Sports

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Friday, December 1, 2017 0 comments

by Charlie Wolcott

The Bible overall is rather quiet about sports other than Paul using some imagery from the original Greek games, however there is something about taking the sports we love and showing spiritual applications to it which are able to help us understand what God is talking about. An example some of you may know is from the movie Facing the Giants. There is a scene where David, the new kicker on the team, is struggling to hit the goal straight. So the coach comes in and says anyone can miss wide right or wide left, but truth aims straight.

Sports can make a great visual tool for preaching the Gospel. In 2009, I met a very interesting fellow, Steve Lillis. Lillis is a professional pool player, and at the 2009 Urbana Convention I saw him performing trick shots, using each shot he made to visually show practical life lessons. He can do all kinds of things with pool balls many of us could only dream of doing.

In one shot, he takes 14 balls, places them on the table and gives a story about Noah’s Ark vs the Titanic and then sinks all 14 balls with one shot. In another, he gathers several balls in the table and covers them with a cloth. He then asks someone from the audience to choose a pocket and then shows how we act by faith when we cannot see what is happening to get to our destination. In another shot, he has someone lay down on the table, stacks 4-5 blocks of chalk held by the person’s teeth, and shoots a ball out from the stack of chalk. He calls that the “trust shot.” In another shot he makes a ball go around the table and climb up two cue sticks to roll down them. He then tells his testimony of being a former pool shark and hustler and how God got a hold of his life, paving the way for “Gospel Trick Shot Ministries.”

After meeting him, I was the student leader of a Christian organization at my university and I got to bring him to the campus twice. The second time was the most notable one because that winter in 2011, there was such a deep freeze it shut down 2/3 of the nation. He was looking forward to come from New Jersey, where his plane was the first out from the airport to come to El Paso, but we never got above 15F for those three days (which is an all-time record; El Paso NEVER gets that cold for that long). We had two shows set up, one at the university and one at a pool hall (me not knowing at all about the nature of such venues).

Well, his flight arrived and the whole city was shut down. The freeze froze up the generators at the water pumps and the power plants and burst countless water pipes throughout the city. We were on boiling water restrictions and rolling blackouts and for a whole week, and schools were closed to help preserve power and water. This also shut down the university, ruining not only our venue but also our audience. By God’s provision we were able to move to the dorms where they had a pool table. Because the city was shut down and one dorm had a pipe burst, we got a captive audience. It was a great time of ministry.

At the pool hall, we invited all kinds of people from the community, again, not knowing a thing about the venues (someone else had made the arrangements and he wasn’t even there that day). Lillis, being a former pool shark, knew the culture and it was happy hour. Not one person we invited showed up, but he got to reach that dark place. He had drunk hecklers and he kept going. When he finished, one of his hecklers came up to him and asked, “Why did you do that?” I do not know what became of him, but as far as I know, he got saved because of that night. Lillis has since written his biography “But You Must” and I am in it (though not by name) as part of this incident.

I got connected with Lillis because what he does with pool, and I often do the same thing with fencing. This connection is why bonded so fast. He actually founded Gospel Trick Shot Ministries on the exact same day I started fencing, on the date of my 15th birthday. I take the equipment I use in the sport to illustrate how the Armor of God works. Then I take the moves and rules of the sport to give some practical life lessons about spiritual warfare and the nature of tactics. I’ll show the different types of parries, feints, preparations, attacks, defenses, etc. to show how the enemy works and how we should respond to such situations. This video is 10 years old, but it is one of the only ones I actually have of me doing this. Do notice I only spent about 10 minutes working with my sparring partner prior to this. The most recent opportunity I got to do this was in August for a local homeschool conference. I heard afterwards from one parent that her daughter did not understand spiritual warfare until I gave that presentation. I’ve also used a skit I saw on the mission field 25-30 years ago and took it to a different level. Here is another 10-year-old version of this skit I did at a Men’s Rehab center in Juarez, Mexico, in which I only had about 20 minutes to put it together and at that time I was not very good at explaining things, let alone able to train sparing partners. Cheesy acting, but every time I did it in Mexico it was a huge hit. I’ve always wanted to do a more proper version of this.

I am now a certified fencing coach currently looking for an opportunity to run and lead a club. There are some opportunities brewing for me and I’ll keep you posted on that should they come through. But I have a dream club idea where I would teach and coach the sport on the physical level, but then also train and prepare a generation of spiritual warriors yielded and dedicated to fighting God’s battles.

There is one caution I suggest in attempting any such presentation. DO NOT, and I mean DO NOT, replace visual aids for the power of God. I can see how easy it would be for me to fall into such a trap. My fencing presentations have had a spectacular reach, but unless I am prayed up and the spirit of God is giving me his anointing, I’m just another speaker. I have sensed when I have had the anointing and when I didn’t. God did use me at this homeschool conference in August, but looking back, I did not feel the anointing I had to the same degree as when I gave the same presentation to my church 4 ½ years ago. If I am to truly reach this world, I need God’s anointing over me when I speak. That means I need to be prayed up, and I need to be giving God’s message. And if that means I be silent if God does not give me anything to speak, it means that. God took fencing away from me for four years and now he has given it back. He took pool away from Steve Lillis for 12 years and gave it back. Are we willing to obey him even if it means taking away the activity of our talents and our joys? Let God dictate how you use the sports you enjoy and don’t use them to build your own kingdom or your own platform.

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