Monday, January 18, 2016


Now that the official football season in America is almost over (with the college championship football game being played last week and the Super Bowl scheduled for three weeks from now), I did not want to let any further time elapse before sharing one of my favorite new acronyms from the world of sports that applies to faith.

First of all you remember what an acronym is right?  It's an abbreviation formed with the initial letters of words that make a word.  For example here are some from the world of aviation:  Delta - "Doesn't Even Leave The Airport", TWA - "The Worst Airlines".  In yogurt circles in America there is: TCBY - "The Country's Best Yogurt", and ICBY - "I Can't Believe It's Yogurt".  You put the two together and you get, ICB-TCBY - "I Can't Believe It's the Country's Best Yogurt".  You get the idea...

So, here is an acronym from the head coach the Clemson University football program, Dabo Swinney, who was leader of the highest ranked college football team last year, in the entire NCAA ("National College Athletics Association" or "National Communists Against Athletes" depending on your definition).  It's;


Which means, "Bring Your Own Guts".

The acronym is a play on the old acronym chestnut BYOB ("Bring Your Own Beer" or "Build Your Own Burrito"... again depending on your context).

To get serious for a moment, though, coach Swinney's idea behind the acronym is that, "guts are the only thing you can't teach a person."  You can teach a person how to run good plays, you can help them to develop their physique to the top levels of performance, you can help them to grow mentally and psychologically to withstand high levels of pressure.  Guts, or an "inner strength", on the other hand, are unique to the individual.  You either have guts or you don't.  They are what define a person, and make them great (or not).  You can't teach guts - you must, as the acronym suggests, "bring your own".


As a pastor of 15 years or more, I have thought that "guts" or inner strength are also important for the Christian faith.

Many people through the years have asked me about the true definition of the text Deuteronomy 6:5: "Love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul and with all your strength."   This text, known as the greatest in the Old Testament (or Shema - short for "Hear") is about guts.  In the New Testament, Jesus would later elaborate on the law when he gave a similar version of the Shema; "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind, and the second is like it, love your neighbor as yourself" (Matt. 22:37).  The best definition of this is that we should love God with all of our...guts!

The ancient Hebrew people, not knowing as much as we do in the modern world about the human body, thought that the center of the body was not the heart (just left of center in our rib cages), but below that in our stomachs or our middle section.  Heart, mind and soul and strength were quite literally, the guts.  The Hebrew word was - LEB (or LEV), which really translates as "inner man, mind, will and heart".  The word can also be translated as, "conscience, courage, middle".  Again, quite literally guts.  It is this inner dynamic that we must bring to our relationship with God

This view of our hearts is for me, much more compelling and visceral than the sense that we have of our modern hearts (which are almost always highly emotional, often in a kind of affected way).  When the book of Proverbs says, "My son, if your heart is wise, then my heart will be glad" (Prov. 23:15).  The word that is used is LEB - guts.  "If your guts are wise, then my guts will be glad."  It makes so much more sense, and carries so much more strength.

In the book of Jeremiah, the prophet writes, referring to our relationship with God, "You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart (guts)" (Jer. 29:13)


Bring Your Own Guts

Because it's MLK day (another acronym), I must get to babysitting my two daughters, who are out of school...ASAP

All For Now,



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