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Mixing faith and football

Larry Munson is a sports guy that has become a movie critic. The fact is Larry mostly enjoys going to movies on Sundays with his female college groupies. He then spends most of his sports broadcasts the following week rating the movies. I went to a movie last week, a rare occurrence for me, and like Munson I want to tell you about it.

Facing the Giants is centered on a high school football team and its coach. Why do you think I went? The real story was more about teaching the life lesson: with God, all things are possible. The movie was outstanding and based on teaching the scripture within the game of football, a microcosm of the game of life.

Sherwood Christian Academy in real life is located in Albany, Ga. Sherwood Baptist Church in Albany has a media department to include a TV station, radio station and yes, a movie-making operation. The leading role in the movie is played by one of the church's associate pastors. This role is about the down-on-his-luck head coach of six years where nothing in football, or in life, seems to be going right.

Many of the subplots within the big story are easy to identify if you've ever been around a football team. The best player transfers to a rival school just before the season, a group of fathers is trying to get the coach fired, an assistant coach is considering joining the mutiny and the team's attitude is not the best.

In real life, the coach and his wife are having difficulty starting a family, their car is a clunker, and there is a dead rat hiding somewhere in their house. These are all things that folks may encounter in their own lives.

Not until the coach puts a supreme effort into living his faith and practicing what the Bible preaches do things start to turn around. He conveys his feelings to his football team, and they too start to see the light. A new kid in school that has never played football, but becomes the team's kicker assists him. This kid's father is also wheelchair bound, but exhibits a great faith in God.

The movie truly teaches some wonderful Biblical lessons. The miraculous state championship that Sherwood wins could be considered a bit of a stretch, but it does make a good story. I believe that when God does involve himself in the outcome of football games, he tends to favor the stronger and faster team.

The coach's wife finally gets pregnant and God working that miracle is definitely the best example of what can happen when you put your trust in Him. The lessons that coaches can teach young men can be done without actually winning a state championship.

The movie is well made, and none of the actors are professional, million dollar stars. These are all people mostly associated with the Albany church who are trying to spread God's word through this medium. Several south Georgia private schools as well as public schools Crisp County and Lee County chipped in with extras, uniforms and other contributions. In fact, the championship game footage was filmed at Lee County's stadium.

Facing the Giants exemplifies one major advantage that a private, Christian school holds over public schools. The staff and students can openly profess their faith to one another and go so far as teaching and encouraging faith in God within the schoolhouse. We have to be careful where we tread in the public schools, but that's another debate best left for another forum.

If you like football and are Christian, go see Facing the Giants. If you don't like football or you're unsure of your faith, go see it anyway. You might have a change of heart on both counts.

Web posted on Thursday, October 12, 2006

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