As we enter September, many football fans are excited to see their favorite teams play a new season. Whether you are a fan of professional football, college football or the ‘Friday night lights’ of a local high school team, it is surely one of America’s most beloved pastimes.

While we might not consider our Christian faith like a football game, the Bible mentions sports to teach spiritual lessons. Although there were no Superbowl Sundays back in the biblical days, there were athletic competitions.

In 1 Corinthians 9:24-25, Paul wrote, “Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever.”

Playing on a team takes practice, commitment and consistency, much like our faith as Christians where we need to practice the fundamentals of faith. Some parts of our lives feel like big plays that would make the highlight reel on ESPN, but other times we may feel like we are just inching along. Regardless, we must keep our eye on the prize and stay focused on Christ.

First Down Devotions: Inspiration From the NFL’s Best
By Del Duduit

Get a behind-the-scenes glimpse into the spiritual lives of pro football’s top athletes. Recounting their struggles and successes both on and off the field, Ben Roethlisberger, Adam Vinatieri, Kurt Warner, Vinny Rey and many others explain how faith in God can help you tackle life’s challenges. Foreword by Atlanta Falcons safety William White.

Walking Miracle: How Faith, Positive Thinking, and Passion for Football Brought Me Back From Paralysis
By Ryan Shazier

As an All-American at Ohio State and All-Pro linebacker for the Pittsburgh Steelers, Ryan Shazier was living his best life while excelling at the game he loves — a game that has given him so much. But then Ryan was forced to redefine success. Suddenly, it was no longer measured by tackles or sacks, but by purpose and faith. The journey was preparing him not for a renewed life as a middle linebacker, but a renewed life after the game.

The Biggest Win: Pro Football Players Tackle Faith
By Joshua Cooley

This book brings sports fans of all ages a unique insider’s look into the lives and faith of six Christian NFL players from the 2017 Philadelphia Eagles Super Bowl team — Carson Wentz, Nick Foles, Zach Ertz, Trey Burton, Jordan Hicks and Chris Maragos — and in particular, how these athletes remain committed to God’s Word, Christian discipleship and sharing their faith. Readers will find hope and direction for living out their faith while competing, and it is ideal for pastors, youth leaders and coaches to use as a small group resource with students interested in sports.

First and Goal: What Football Taught Me About Never Giving Up
By Jake Byrne, H. Michael

Jake Byrne dreamed of playing professional football. He had the size, the talent and the drive, but at age 14 he found out he also had type 1 diabetes. Still, Byrne was determined to reach his goal. And God was determined to guide and empower him all along the way. His journey to the NFL is the backdrop for this collection of inspiring devotions based on nearly 100 football terms. Jake takes you to the weight room, the practice field and even across the goal line. Recommended for ages 13-17.

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Kelly Wise Valdes
Kelly Wise Valdes has been writing for the Osprey Observer since 2008. She graduated in 1989 from Florida Southern College with a B.S. in Communications and enjoys writing and traveling. She currently resides in northern Hillsborough County with her husband, David. When not traveling and writing, Kelly and her husband enjoy spending time with their five grown children (as well as their grandchildren) that still keep them very busy.