LISTEN: Novak Djokovic: ‘Before Being an Athlete, I am an Orthodox Christian’ (Gospel Light Minute #245)

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He is a Serbian professional tennis player who is currently ranked the No. 1 player in the world in men’s singles tennis by the Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP). To date, he has won 75 titles, including 16 Grand Slam singles titles (a record seven Australian Open titles, five Wimbledon titles, three US Open titles and one French Open title), five ATP Finals titles, 33 ATP Tour Masters 1000 titles, and 12 ATP Tour 500 titles. Following his victory at the 2016 French Open, he became only the eighth player in history to achieve the Career Grand Slam and the third man to hold all four major titles at once, the first since Rod Laver in 1969, and the first ever to do so on three different surfaces. He is the first and only male player to have won all nine of the Masters 1000 tournaments. His latest win came just last Sunday at the 2019 Wimbledon tourney in in which he successfully defended his title by defeating Roger Federer in an epic, grueling five set final that lasted four hours and fifty seven minutes, the longest in Wimbledon history. He is a six-time ITF World Champion and a five-time ATP year-end No. 1 ranked player, having held the spot for over 250 weeks. He has won numerous awards, including the Laureus World Sports Award for Sportsman of the Year (four times) and the 2011 BBC Overseas Sports Personality of the Year award. He serves as a Unicef ambassador for his native Serbia and has founded an eponymous foundation, which fosters education for disadvantaged children. 

Continue reading “LISTEN: Novak Djokovic: ‘Before Being an Athlete, I am an Orthodox Christian’ (Gospel Light Minute #245)”

Stephanie Cox: ‘Faith in Christ Makes My Role as an Athlete More Meaningful’ (Gospel Light Minute #211)

Stephanie Cox
Stephanie Cox

She is a Mexican-American retired professional soccer defender and Olympic gold medalist. She attended the University of Portland, where she started 23 matches her freshman year. In 2005, after returning to the Pilots following a redshirt season to play for the US, Stephanie helped lead her team to an undefeated record of 23-0-2 and an NCAA Championship and was named to the NCAA All-Tournament Team. She most recently played for the Seattle Reign FC of the National Women’s Soccer League in 2013 and the United States women’s national soccer team. Prior to that she played for the Los Angeles Sol and the Boston Breakers. Continue reading “Stephanie Cox: ‘Faith in Christ Makes My Role as an Athlete More Meaningful’ (Gospel Light Minute #211)”

Pro-Golfer Zachary Johnson says, ‘I Thought Being a Christian Would be Boring, but it Has Been the Complete Opposite’ (Gospel Light Minute #206)

St. Jude Classic-Round One

He is an American professional golfer who has a total of 12 victories on the PGA Tour and 28 total professional wins. He won the 2007 Masters Championship and the 2015 Open Championship. He is one of only two players to have twice shot a round of 60 on the PGA Tour. As a young child, he played multiple sports before settling on golf. He led both his high school and college team to state championships. His foundation is dedicated to helping children and their families in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

In an article about his faith for Fellowship of Christian Athletes, he said, “I grew up in Iowa in a great Christian household where church was very important. I went to a Catholic school, so I had religion classes from first through 12th grade. My mom even worked at the church and the school. …So, I certainly grew up in a Christian household—Jesus was very much the foundation.

“For me, however, it felt like I was just following the footsteps of friends and more or less doing what I was told to do. So, after high school, I went my own direction. It was my agenda; whatever I wanted to do, I did it. My faith didn’t carry much significance.

“I graduated from Drake University in 1998 and started playing golf on the mini tours and traveling around the United States. In the winters I would go to Florida to practice.

“Then, in 2000, I met a girl named Kim. I really liked her. We hit it off and soon started dating. I was still traveling during the summer seasons, but we maintained our relationship. Over time, I realized that faith in Christ was extremely important to her and that marrying a Christian man was pretty much a deal-breaker for her.

“At that point in my life, I knew there was a God. I knew there was an ultimate creator—someone watching over things—but I didn’t give it much thought. In order for Kim and me to find out if we were best for each other, we took a pre-engagement class together at a church. Through that, not only were a lot of my questions answered, but a lot more surfaced. But that’s where God took over. With the research I did in response to those questions and with help from Kim and other Christian friends, I discovered what it meant to ‘live for Christ,’ and that it honestly was something I wanted to do. The facts were there, and I could sense the Holy Spirit at work. Early in the winter of 2002, I gave my life to the Lord.

“Since then, my priorities have certainly changed. It’s not my agenda anymore. I refer to the years after high school and before making my decision as my ‘blind years.’ Now, I can see.

“Before I was one, I always thought being a Christian would be boring. In reality, it has been the complete opposite. There is joy, fulfillment and even fun! There also are challenges and trials, but knowing that my foundation lies in Jesus and what He has done for me is what is important. It’s all that matters.”

His name is Zachary Harris Johnson.

This is the “Chief of Sinners,” Daniel Whyte III, president of Gospel Light Society International, reminding you of what the Bible says, that “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners” like you and me. Just as Zachary Harris Johnson gave her life to Christ, may I encourage you to do the same. Here is how:

1. Accept the fact that you are a sinner, and that you have broken God’s law. The Bible says in Ecclesiastes 7:20: “For there is not a just man upon earth that doeth good, and sinneth not.” Romans 3:23 reads: “For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.” In fact, I am the chief of sinners, so don’t think that you’re alone.

2. Accept the fact that there is a penalty for sin. The Bible states in Romans 6:23: “For the wages of sin is death…”

3. Accept the fact that you are on the road to hell. Jesus Christ said in Matthew 10:28: “And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.” The Bible says in Revelation 21:8: “But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.”

4. Accept the fact that you cannot do anything to save yourself! The Bible states in Ephesians 2: 8, 9: “For by grace are ye saved through faith: and that not of yourselves: it is a gift of God. Not of works, lest any man should boast.”

5. Accept the fact that God loves you more than you love yourself, and that He wants to save you from hell. Jesus Christ said in John 3:16, “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”

6. With these facts in mind, please repent of your sins, believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and pray and ask Him to come into your heart and save you this very moment. The Bible states in the book of Romans 10:9, 13: “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised Him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.”

“For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”

Dear friend, if you are willing to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ for salvation, please pray with me this simple prayer: Heavenly Father, I realize that I am a sinner and that I have done some bad things in my life. For Jesus Christ sake, please forgive me of my sins. I now believe with all of my heart that Jesus Christ died for me, was buried, and rose again. Lord Jesus, please come into my heart and save my soul and change my life today. Amen.

If you believed in your heart that Jesus Christ died on the cross, was buried, and rose again, allow me to say, congratulations on doing the most important thing in life and that is accepting Jesus Christ as your Lord and Saviour! For more information to help you grow in your newfound faith in Christ, go to Gospel Light Society.com and read “What To Do After You Enter Through the Door”. Jesus Christ said in John 10:9, “I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture.”

Remember, friend, Believe by faith. Share the faith. and Keep the faith!

Sterling Lucas on Football Becoming an “Idol” and How he Learned to “Truly Follow Christ” (Gospel Light Minute #163)

Sterling Lucas
Sterling Lucas

He is a line backer for North Carolina State University. In high school, he was team captain and team MVP. In the Shrine Bowl, he also won defensive MVP honors after recording 8 tackles. And after his senior year, he was named an all-state, all-region, and all-area top player.

In an interview with Beyond the Ultimate, he spoke about growing up in church and how he came to know Jesus Christ. He said, “I grew up in the church my grandmother pastored. I always heard that Jesus died for our sins, but I didn’t fully grasp that Jesus was beaten and hung on a cross in our place, even when He did not deserve it, for our eternal life.

“After my grandmother died, I stopped going to church. A few years later, my family and I joined another church and I began to once again pursue Christ. When I got to college, I began doing what most students do: living the party lifestyle. I was still a believer but did not always show it, and I wasn’t bold about my faith. I basically put God on a shelf.

“Now, I understand how important it is to be plugged into a church or spiritual community to help you grow in your faith and keep you accountable. Athletes in Action provided that outlet for me. A teammate invited me to the meetings, and they talked about your identity not being in your sport, which appealed to me. I kept going back, and began really growing in my Christian walk.

“When you truly follow Christ, you find peace in knowing that whatever you go through, the Lord is able to get you through. Once I suffered a knee injury and had to sit out the season. I believe that God allowed this experience to draw me closer to Him. I realize that football does not define me as a person, but it had become an idol in my life.

“I am first and foremost a man of God, and football is just one of the many platforms that God has given me to bring Him glory. I am not perfect, and I fall short on many occasions, but I am standing here today by the grace of God, and I am going to do everything I can to fulfill God’s will for my life.”

His name is Sterling Lucas.

How Tim Howard Found Peace Through Jesus Christ (Gospel Light Minute #155)

Tim Howard
Tim Howard

He is an American soccer goalkeeper with English club Everton and the United States national team. His U.S. nationals team played in the 2014 World Cup in Brazil and even though the team lost to Belgium, he is considered by many to be a winner with a record 16 saves.

He also played with the North Jersey Imperials, the MetroStars, and Manchester United. On January 4, 2012, he scored a goal, his first as a professional player. This made him only the fourth goalkeeper to score a goal in a Premier League match. With Manchester United, his team won the Football League Cup in 2005-2006 and the FA Community Shield in 2003. Personally, he was named Major League Soccer Humanitarian of the Year and Major League Soccer Goalkeeper of the Year in 2001. He was also named the U.S. Soccer Athlete of the Year Award in 2008, and the Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Association Football Goalkeeper of the Year Award in 2013.

In an article for Athletes in Action, he wrote of his battle with Tourette’s Syndrome and how he came to faith in Jesus Christ. He wrote: “Having spent the first 10 years of my life with an undiagnosed case of Tourette’s syndrome — a neurological disorder characterized by physical and verbal tics — I did not experience a lot of peace. But even though my life often seemed chaotic, I knew I could always count on at least one person to provide calm and stability: my grandmother. Nana’s sense of peace was so powerful because it came from her faith in the Lord. Through her, God revealed His love for me as well. It wasn’t long before I was following in her footsteps. I wanted the same kind of faith and peace she had, and that is exactly what God gave me.”

He went on to say, “Living with Tourette’s is not easy. But God has blessed me with the gift of athleticism as well. He has done some powerful things in my life through the combination of these two gifts. He also has shown me ways to use my position as a professional athlete to encourage others with Tourette’s syndrome. Today, I am blessed to be living a dream. And yet, if it all went away tomorrow, I know I would still have peace. That probably sounds crazy to most people, but that’s the kind of peace Christ gives. It is rooted in His love, and it surpasses all understanding. You can experience this same sense of love and peace, too. All you have to do is ask for it.”

His name is Tim Howard.