It’s Football Friday! Football Food and 7 Spiritual Lessons from the Field

Welcome  I am so excited to do my first Football Friday post!  My friends and family who know me well, know that I LOVE football.  It’s a little ironic, because my high school didn’t even have a football team.  But I still have always loved the sport, supporting teams from high school to NFL, but I’m especially passionate about college football.  Being a southern girl at heart (more on that next week), I’m partial to SEC football.  Come on, football is almost like religion in the south.  Next week the college football season kicks off (lol-had to say it) and NFL starts the following week.  For our devotional time today I have 7 spiritual metaphors from the football field.  And of course I have some football food to share as well.

7 Spiritual Lessons from the Football Field
What could possibly be spiritual about this game? Here are my thoughts as we enter a new football season.

Food For Thought  First of all, if you don’t like football, I’m sorry.  I mean really sorry, but nobody’s perfect.  Just kidding, I mean I don’t like NASCAR, and that seems to be pretty popular.  Besides, it’s good that we all can like different things and still get along, right?  I realize I may have already lost some of you.  Hear me out, though, because things I pick up on during a football game can carry over to our real life and real faith.  So here are the seven spiritual lessons I’m taking from the football field.

1 Whistle.  False Start.  Five yard penalty.  In football, sometimes the offense gets pretty excited about their next play.  Or they try to deceive the defense into an early move.  In doing so, they move before they’re supposed to, which results in a penalty.  This happens in our life, and yes, there can be penalties.  We can get excited about making our next move, with our families, in our careers, or relationships, and forget to pray and seek God’s counsel.  I certainly have been guilty of this myself.  If we rush in to any major decisions or changes without preparing and having God’s guidance, we likely will make mistakes on our own, thus resulting in “penalties.”  One example of this could be a young couple engaging in premarital sex, then finding themselves with an unwanted pregnancy.  Ooops, false start.  For me personally, if I had sought God’s help when I was first beginning to struggle in my career, I may not have reached my point of extreme frustration or made some of the same mistakes.  My penalty?  Leave a career of 18 years and face the unknown.  Will that penalty ruin my game?  No, but now I’ll remember to seek God’s Will before making my next play.

2 Satan tries to draw us off-sides.  In football, if a defensive player moves across the line of scrimmage during a snap, he is considered “off-sides” and a penalty will be called at the end of the play.  Sometimes an offensive player will try to make a move, without being considered a false start, to try and trick a defensive player into crossing the line, possibly resulting in extra yardage for the offense.  Satan tries to trick us like that.  He’s sneaky and sometimes his moves are very subtle, but convincing enough to get us to cross a line we normally would not.  Even Christians can get tricked by Satan into crossing “that” line-a young girl who gives in to premarital sex “just this once” or the married man who seeks companionship with a female co-worker, not intending for it to lead to an affair.   Satan has pulled me off-sides, too, telling me that skipping one or two weeks of church won’t hurt, and the next thing I know, weeks turned into years.  Whatever it is that gets us to cross that line, there will likely be penalties, or consequences for our actions.

3 A quarterback is only as good as his receivers.  The quarterback gets all the glory, but if he doesn’t have any decent receivers at the other end of his passes, the team is not going to gain many yards or score many points.  Well, the Church is only as good as its members.  There is nothing magical about a brick and mortar building.  We can’t walk into a church building and suddenly everything is perfect.  The members of the church have to work hard, serve, love, and practice their faith, leading others to Christ by their example if we, the church, want to gain more souls for God’s Kingdom.  Without strong members in a church, we cannot win the fight against Satan’s hold on our society.

4 Football is life…we’re all just trying to hold onto the ball and get into the end zone to score before time runs out.  We’re trying to make the most of our time here on earth.  We have setbacks and sometimes the ball, er, life gets a little slippery.  We’re going to get a little dirty and messy and sometimes we might even be injured, either physically or emotionally.  But along the way, we should be having some fun, supporting our teammates in life, and if we’ve lived our life according to His plan, we’ll have the biggest win of all eternity when our clock runs out.

5 Will we all win a championship trophy or ring?  No, and neither do 31 other NFL teams or the vast majority of college and high school teams.  We are not all going to be the best, and we can’t win every season.  It’s never really a coach’s goal to go out and have a mediocre season, but some years, that’s the best you get.  Some seasons and areas of our life fit that description.  I found out that I could not be the best at teaching and couldn’t win awards in that field.  Likely, I will be average, at best, doing this blogging and writing thing.  But does that mean I don’t show up every day?  Do I shirk on my duties as a player in these games?  No, I put in the time and work, and if I’m lucky, I’ll have my few minutes of feeling on top of the game.

6 Another penalty: Holding.  Likely one of the most called penalties in football and likely one of our biggest struggles in our day-to-day faith.  We are all holding onto something that is preventing us from moving forward on our walk with Christ.  Some are holding on to addictions.  Maybe you are holding on to greed and a need for money and power.  Some hold on to past hurts and hates that prevent living a life of love.  I mentioned in yesterday’s post that I am struggling with holding onto bitterness and anger for some things that happened in my recent past.  Whatever it is that we are holding onto, we’ve got to let go, before the penalties keep piling up, and ultimately cost us the game.

7 So you lost the game?  So what, move on, and try again next time.  Even teams that win national championships usually lose a game or two during the regular season.  But they didn’t give up or rest their entire career on that one loss, or “failure.”  We need to be able to move on from past mistakes in our lives, the way teams move on from lost games.  I can look back on my life and recognize some losses, for sure, whether it be getting my priorities out of order regarding my faith and family, a career that turned south fast, or the years that I struggled with my faith and mental health simultaneously.  But these “losses” don’t have to define me.  Luckily, my loving God is a great Coach.  If I’m willing to listen, he will show me where my mistakes are, the best ways to fix them, and then put me back in the game.

Today’s Scriptures  Powerful verses in Philippians 3:13-14 can illustrate the points made in lessons 4, 6, and 7 above: “Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it.  But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.”  Really, this is what we are all trying to accomplish, no matter the season.

Buffalo Chicken Totchoes
Spicy buffalo chicken and pepper jack cheese with all the fixin’s on tator tots instead of chips.

Today’s Recipes  A lot of people associate football with tailgating, and for some that’s the only part they really care about…the food!  Tailgating really is a whole experience in itself.  If tailgating at the game, it’s important to me that the food be convenient, either to transport or prepare on site.  My ham biscuits, chicken bites, slow cooker pulled pork, and slow cooker red beans and rice are all great options for this.  But what about when you host a big game party at home?  Your options can be a little more creative, and I have a recipe today that makes for great football entertaining.  My first recipe today is Buffalo Chicken Tot-choes…wow, so good!  And because this is my first Football Friday special, I have a second recipe today, a nod to my favorite SEC team, Tiger Butter Candy.  SEC Tigers, hmmm?  Well, you’ve got three to choose from, now don’t you?

Buffalo Chicken Tot-choes

  • 32 oz bag frozen tator tots
  • 36 oz bag chicken tenders, cut in chunks and seasoned with salt and pepper
  • 1 small bell pepper, diced
  • 6 green onions, sliced
  • 1/2 cup buffalo sauce (we go for a medium-heat, tangy sauce, but use what your crowd likes)
  • 2 cups pepper jack cheese, shredded
  • Ranch and blue cheese dressings, for serving
  • Extra buffalo sauce, for serving
  • Carrot and Celery sticks, for serving
  • Bake tator tots on large sheet pan according to package directions.  Place seasoned chicken chunks on separate sheet pan and bake at 400 degrees for 20-25 minutes, turning once after 12 minutes.  After chicken is cooked, place on cutting board and chop into finer pieces and place in large bowl.  Add buffalo sauce and toss chicken to coat.  When tots are cooked, remove from oven and scatter buffalo chicken on top.  Add bell pepper, green onion, and shredded cheese and place back in oven at 425 degrees.  Continue to bake, 5-10 minutes, until cheese has melted.  Served with carrot and celery sticks, dressings, extra sauce or hot sauce for those who like it spicier.  Depending on what else you are serving, this may be plenty for your football crowd, but easily doubles for a larger crowd.
Tiger Butter Candy
All the flavors of a peanut butter cup, but much more economical for a crowd.

Tiger Butter Candy (Tiger Butter is a pretty common candy recipe and can found on the internet or in a variety of cookbooks)

  • 12 oz. pkg white chocolate morsels
  • 1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate morsels
  • Line a 9×13 sheet pan with wax paper, set aside.  In large glass bowl, microwave white chocolate for a minute, stir, and finish melting in microwave 30 seconds more.  Remove bowl and stir white chocolate until smooth.  Add peanut butter and stir.  Spread this mixture onto wax paper, no need to be perfect or match the edges exactly.  In small glass bowl, microwave semi-sweet chocolate for 30 seconds and stir.  If chocolate is not smooth yet, microwave an additional 30 seconds.  When melted, add chocolate to peanut butter mixture in a drizzling fashion, then using a knife, swirl into peanut butter.  Refrigerate for 30 minutes to set.  When chocolate is set, remove and break into pieces, like other candy bark.  Store in airtight container.  If using this recipe for a tailgating snack, keep it in the cooler, or it will melt!

For your tailgating needs, check out these products (links verified on 8/25/17 at 12:35 pm CDT)