Remedial Christianity


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I am a graduate of the University of Michigan, where I had an illustrious 18 year career as a mediocre intramural basketball and football player.  I currently live in Columbus and walk among the Buckeyes.  But I am here to tell you today. I love Michigan State basketball.

As I sat here and watched the Spartans face Connecticut and all their little fans who filled MSG, I found myself emotionally involved.  This was supposed to just be the appetizer game before I watched Michigan, but I was sucked in. I love to watch them play….and I was actually bummed when they lost today.  Why?

Well, first off, full disclosure I had them winning my bracket in the Shah Family Showdown.  So that’s one thing.

But on a deeper and perhaps weird level, I think I decided that Michigan State plays basketball the way I wish I could live my life.  They have all the qualities that I wish I had more of in my spiritual life….


Even in the midst of one of their worst games of the season you could see this quality.

At one point UCONN was up 12-2.  State had gone 1-9 from the field w/ 4 turnovers.  MSG was going crazy.

And the Spartans seemed calm.  I thought to myself, these guys couldn’t care less.  They played with the same intensity, same confidence that they always display.  It was so obvious even Charles Barkley saw it.  At halftime he said, “You know UCONN was up 12-2 early…and Michigan St just walked them down”

Down 10 with 6 minutes left?  Three.  Then Three more.  30 seconds later the lead is 4.

Yeah, today they couldn’t finish, and they even made a bunch of uncharacteristic mistakes down the stretch, but that is not typical.  They usually showed up as a seasoned, battle tested club who is near impossible to rattle.

Me?  When my pick-up team gets down by three points,  I start looking to the sideline  to see if I can get the next team to pick me up.  Yeah, I’m one of those guys.  Its amazing how quickly I will come up with excuses and get rattled.  I would love to life my life with more quiet confidence.


Ok, well, we don’t necessarily play “defense” or “rebound” in life.  But what makes great defense/rebounding in college basketball? Tenacity.  (yes, I know that talent is also involved…but let’s face it, except you are Mutombo, defense is like 90% hustle and being smart)  Watching MSU is fun.  But it must be incredibly tough to play against them.  Every point, every rebound you are going to get, you are going to have to EARN.

Not be overly cheesy, but wouldn’t it be great to live our spiritual lives that way?  No excuses.  No plays off.  In the midst of our spiritual battles and adversity, that we would tenaciously pursue Christ and cling to the hope we have in the Gospel.

Which brings us to…


Full disclosure – I believe Tom Izzo is the best coach in college basketball.   His teams are always a diverse group…..

(Side Note — Here’s the blueprint as I see it…..)

  • a point guard with a good handle & limited offense (cleeves/appling/neitzel/snow) ,
  • a sharp-shooting guard who plays solid perimeter D (harris/respert – minus the D part),
  • an ultra-athletic 3 or 4 (morgan/dawson/roe),
  • a talented forward with an unusual skill set (draymond green/Z Bo/adreian payne),
  • a few big michigan country boys with maybe someone from eastern europe.

that Izzo molds into a great team.

In a world filled with one-and-dones, they rarely have the most talented team.  It is fascinating how FEW NBA stars have come from Michigan State. (if you just said, “What about Magic?” I hope you realize that was 35 years ago)  And yet….when its Sweet Sixteen weekend….when its Final Four weekend….they are there, not always, but certainly more than would be expected.

A good bunch of players that become great teams.  Because they faithfully follow their coach and he molds them into something great.  Everybody knows their role, embraces it and then gets it done.

I know, I know, this is super cheesy, but I want this quality too.  Where I would stop just doing my own thing….playing my own game…..and I would look towards Jesus, follow his direction, embrace my role in His kingdom.  I want to be on a team that is like that.

Well, there you have it, my secret vice.  I love MSU basketball.   (And I think way too deeply about sports)

I feel better getting that off my chest.

Now Go Blue.

{PS please excuse the fact that I just used an analogy where Tom Izzo = Jesus}

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