Sunday, July 13, while on our way to Boston, Erin and I listened to the World Cup final between Germany and Argentina, and, honestly, I found myself captivated by the action and the results. The joy of hearing ESPN Radio's announcers, one with a great Irish brogue, was simply fantastic, for you could hear their passion about a sport and an event in which they were totally engaged. I could've listened to this guy read the Manhattan phone book, that's how excited I was about his accent.

Honestly, I couldn't have cared less about the outcome - neither Germany nor Argentina stir any emotional passion within my soul. However, I was very intrigued to find out more about how this World Cup triumph for Germany found its seed in their disastrous 2002 World Cup appearance, where they didn't win a single game in their group.

After that 2002 debacle, the Germans put together a program where all their professional teams poured millions of dollars into developing the next generation of players. They knew that in order to get better, it would take more than good intentions to return to a world-class team, and that it would not happen overnight.

For the past twelve years, this program was implemented. Not only did it pay off for the 2014 World Cup, but it also has set up things for the 2018 and beyond tournaments as well.

What can we learn from this?

As Kathy so elegantly and eloquently puts it, to have the peace of Christ manifest in your heart and mind, it takes intentionality, sacrifice, work, and time. We cannot simply say that we want to be people of faith without making it the number one priority in our lives, ahead of EVERYTHING else. She says to anyone who will listen that there is no magic bullet - it takes focus and intentionality. Prayer, study, worship, fellowship, service...these things (and all other spiritual disciplines) take time and effort.

The question we are left with is simply this:

How much do we want to have Christ's peace?
How much are we investing of our lives to realize this?
How does the life we are leading now draw us closer to 
Christ now and for the long run?

The Germans were under no illusion that they would be able to completely turn around their 2002 fortunes in four short years. However, by taking the long-term view, and by putting their money and time where their mouths were, they eventually saw it pay off.

Committing to loving God with all we have takes a lot. The payoff is worth it.

Don't believe it? Go read the text. We worship a God who take the long view. May we do the same.

Grace and Peace, Lamar