Joe Burrow has obviously moved well past an Average Joe status.

Everyone has jumped on the I-knew-Joe bandwagon, heck we were probably neighbors when he was 2 years old while often visiting our house in Hide-Away-Hills, Ohio which was not far from the Burrow family in Athens County.  He was Mr. Football in Ohio and played for my favorite team, even though we lost the big game this year, for many OSU fans it was as if we won, as an ex-player from our area won it all.  And he was so nice about everything, how could we not be proud of this man who went from being an Average Joe to Super Joe.

But I wanted more of a close-to-my-heart touch with this namesake of mine.  I was more intrigued by what he did NOT say, then what he did say.  After much sifting through google, then I found this picture, Joe was CAUGHT  PRAYING.

Now that sounds ridiculous doesn’t it, caught praying.  Most of my non-church friends, who I try really hard not to tick off with my beliefs, have stated they find it so irritating when athletes roll off their tongue the standard statement of;  ‘First, I want to thank God’ for this awesome victory or award or thing that happened on a sports field.   They often say, does God really care who won a stupid game?  To which people like me say, it is not the game or anything else that matters, we are to do everything for the glory of God.  Which usually is responded back to with a – blank stare.

Meanwhile, we in the God club are texting each other, and Facebook posting did you hear what Dabo Swinney, or Trevor Lawrence, or Tim Tebow said on national TV.  Did you see that post that Justin Fields made on Twitter,  Praise God!  Even when they lost, they still gave thanks to God.   Another win for the kingdom.

In today’s society, we have a constant battle of give-and-take from many different sides.   One side argues that prayer in meetings, the Bible’s presence, coins that say ‘In God we Trust,’ even the pledge of allegiance have stepped over the line of separation of religion and state.  The other side argues that the foundation of our country is based on all of those things, and it is directly related to the blessings of the good old U.S.A.  Take them away and we fall apart.  

It seems like there has to be a balance, but where is that point?

Then along came Joe Burrow, and he’s shaken us up a bit without saying a word about, gulp, God.   (Well maybe not anyone other than me, but when I get something in my mind…)   I listened to his awesome speech after winning the Heisman.  I waited and waited for the important punch line of thanks, and never heard it.  I had to get the transcript of his speech to see if maybe I just missed it; He seemed to thank everybody but God.  It is hard to tell exactly what his beliefs are, maybe nobody has asked him?

After his speech by the simple mentioning of the impoverished area of Athens County, $500,000 was raised for a food pantry in his parents home town.  Joe had the chance to be a Michael Jordan and slam the coaches that didn’t play him when he was young; instead, he thanked them for recruiting him and giving him a chance.

He praised his fellow teammates.  He praised and shed tears regarding his parents and coaches.  He thanked many people and showed class.  He told stories of being motivated by those who said he wasn’t good enough, but he turned the other cheek.  He said everything else but the standard words. So I had to find a picture, certainly somewhere he had to put God on his sleeve.  All the other top QB’s and other stars had pictures and said the lingo.  And then I finally found that one picture.  Apparently, someone caught Joe Burrow praying in private. Here he was pictured before the Oklahoma game in Atlanta.  All by himself, just him and God alone.          *

Perhaps we all could learn more from what Average Joe Burrow did not do after his success changed and learn where it came from when we see him – Caught Praying.

Please don’t go away yet!  If this is your first time visiting Average Joe’s Portico, every post is written in two parts. You have just read the portion challenging the mind, body, and soul.  In The Portico, I seek to tap into your spiritual side, but only IF YOU DARE.  Tap the Red Line Below to hear the Part 2 Spiritual side of the story.  (For additional info – read the ‘Do You Dare’ Tab)

* Note, I have not been able to find who took this picture, otherwise I’d give the credits.

If You Dare, Click to Enter Into Joe's Portico (To See Part II of This Story)

This morning per usual, I woke up for the bathroom break and climbed back in bed and grabbed my Ipad to read.   I love looking at the clock and then looking up Bible verses that match the numbers of the time.  This morning was weird as right when I turned the device on the clock switched in front of me from 6:10 to 6:11.  So I typed in 6:11 and found lots of verses in the Old Testament.  The gist was telling how horrible people can be, like today – just turn on the news to hear the fighting and hate transpiring in our world.  Half of America wants the Potus impeached for his supposed corruption, half wants to re-elect him now and says the other side is all lies and conniving.   Well no surprise, it’s been that way since the beginning, right back to Genesis;

“The [population of the] earth was corrupt [absolutely depraved—spiritually and morally putrid] in God’s sight, and the land was filled with violence [desecration, infringement, outrage, assault, and lust for power].”   Genesis 6:11 AMP  

I found a few more 6-11’s, and I was thinking, I can read the news to find discouraging news about angry and mean people.  So I played around with a consecutive number 6:10-6:11 and saw this about Daniel.  Daniel from you know, Daniel and the Tigers den.

 “But when Daniel learned that the law had been signed, he went home and knelt down as usual in his upstairs room, with its windows open toward Jerusalem. He prayed three times a day, just as he had always done, giving thanks to his God. Then the officials went together to Daniel’s house and found him praying and asking for God’s help.”  Daniel 6:10-11 NLT

I read the context of the Whole of Daniel 6     chapter and If you read it, you might notice I do know it was a Lion’s den, but how ironic that the 2 teams playing in the championship game a week ago were both the Tigers, lol?

The gist was that a King name Darius did a re-org and made 120 governors.   But Daniel was so good, he outshined everyone and won the Heisman trophy, er he was put in charge of the whole kingdom.   The other dudes hated him, and what he stood for, so they tried to find out if he had any skeletons in his closet:

“The vice-regents and governors got together to find some old scandal or skeleton in Daniel’s life that they could use against him, but they couldn’t dig up anything. He was totally exemplary and trustworthy. They could find no evidence of negligence or misconduct. So they finally gave up and said, “We’re never going to find anything against this Daniel unless we can cook up something religious.” Daniel 6:2-5

They convinced the King to pass a law that no prayer to God and any gods were allowed except towards the King.  Not only in schools or town hall meetings but anywhere at any time for 30 days.

I was convicted right there before getting to the famous part of the Lion’s den passage;

First question I asked myself, if a law were passed that said I could not pray for 30 days, and say I did not know about the law, how many hours or days would it take before I was caught praying, if at all?   

2nd Would it happen 3 times a day, ‘as he had always done, giving thanks to his God’?  

3rd  Would my co-workers, teammates, family members, be jealous of me because of my success, all of which came from the reason being ‘we found him praying and asking for God’s help?’

Moreso, if someone were to try and find some old scandal or skeleton in my past life, would I be found ‘totally exemplary and trustworthy?  

Sorry to admit, pretty much a solid NO on all of them, how about you?  Being caught praying 3 times a day, really getting close to God from spending daily time with Him, that is a nope.  (Note for me I am referring to my not-that-great past work life, that has changed since I retired and am now in Full-time Ministry at The Help Pregnancy Center)

In the midst of a world of dishonest and conniving people it is tempting to want to manipulate our circumstances.  Or maybe at least pray that something bad happens to the other people that are ahead of us.  Joe Burrow could have had those thoughts when he was bench sitting at Ohio State.  He could have whined and moaned.  Yet we hear nothing but praise from his old coaches about his character and demeanor, even those he left behind for another team.   Daniel had done that with King Darius, what a great example of how a person who follows God should be in the work-world, but here’s what happened next:

“But then the conspirators were back: “Remember, O king, it’s the law of the Medes and Persians that the king’s decree can never be changed.” The king caved in and ordered Daniel brought and thrown into the lions’ den. But he said to Daniel, “Your God, to whom you are so loyal, is going to get you out of this.” A stone slab was placed over the opening of the den. The king sealed the cover with his signet ring and the signet rings of all his nobles, fixing Daniel’s fate.

The king then went back to his palace. He refused supper. He couldn’t sleep. He spent the night fasting. At daybreak the king got up and hurried to the lions’ den. As he approached the den, he called out anxiously, “Daniel, servant of the living God, has your God, whom you serve so loyally, saved you from the lions?”

“O king, live forever!” said Daniel. “My God sent his angel, who closed the mouths of the lions so that they would not hurt me. I’ve been found innocent before God and also before you, O king. I’ve done nothing to harm you.

When the king heard these words, he was happy. He ordered Daniel taken up out of the den. When he was hauled up, there wasn’t a scratch on him. He had trusted his God. Then the king commanded that the conspirators who had informed on Daniel be thrown into the lions’ den, along with their wives and children. Before they hit the floor, the lions had them in their jaws, tearing them to pieces.”

Because Daniel was so close to God, a miracle happened and Daniel was protected and saved.  How’d he get so close to God?  It wasn’t from writing John 3:16 on his wrist band, it was in those 3 times a day spend-time-alone-with-God moments.   And talk about a total change of a way of governmental thinking because of how Daniel lived, King Cyrus and Darius worked to rebuild the temple of God in Jerusalem and protect it, look at what King Darius said, an exact opposite of the self-worship mantra he had before:

“I have issued a decree that if there is any man who violates this edict, a beam of timber shall be pulled from his house [and set up]; then he shall be impaled on it, and his house shall be turned into a refuse heap for this [violation]. May the God who has caused His Name to dwell there overthrow any king or people who attempts to alter this command, so as to destroy this house of God in Jerusalem. I, Darius, have issued this decree; let it be carried out quickly and with due diligence.””  Ezra 6:11-12 AMP  

It goes to say there is certainly a balance in how we as man are to honor God and how much the government has to say about it.  But what we do with our time with God is primarily a one on one, alone in our daily prayer closet.  Being told to never pray versus you will be impaled with a beam from your house, and the house burned down is also a bit extreme.

While I admire a Dabo Swinney who wears it all on his sleeve and touts after his team wins a championship, that ‘only God could orchestrate this’, does God really operate by rewarding only those that have an open all-out representation of their faith.  Not to be a doubting Thomas, but what happened the 2 times your team lost?  Was that just a lesson time?  A time to learn humility?    Does God really care one iota about football games?  

I believe God steps in when He deems it necessary to step in, He is not controlling.  Daniel in the Tigers den was much more important than which team named the Tigers won the game.  But God certainly cares about the hearts of everybody involved.  He may have taught me a lesson on how not to be ticked off about referees while teaching someone else how to be gracious and a good winner.  Gloating and saying our team won because your coach is a sinner (or a bigger one than ours, which would be more accurate) is not quite how God operates.  There are millions of angles! 30 million people watched the game, God can’t make everyone happy with a win.

For us, believers in God, a better thing to be caught at (from another  6:11 search),  is being thankful we are alive and that God provides “Give us this day our daily bread.”   Matthew 6:11.   Another is working on being thankful that we are saved from perhaps the repercussions of the wrong things we have done in the closet.

“And such were some of you [before you believed]. But you were washed [by the atoning sacrifice of Christ], you were sanctified [set apart for God, and made holy], you were justified [declared free of guilt] in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the [Holy] Spirit of our God [the source of the believer’s new life and changed behavior].”  1 Corinthians 6:11 AMP

 Don’t take my word for it read the whole part linked here 1 Corinthians 6:1-20 AMP  for the context of what Paul said regarding the phrase ‘regarding such we’re some of you.’  No one is perfect and we’ll all standalone before God some day, alone, giving an account.  Whether we’re Joe Burrow or whomever we’ll have to answer to God what we’ve done in public or in the closet.  While honoring God with a praying knee on the field or with words of thanks given on TV will be rewarded IF in heaven, it won’t matter if a person never enters the gate if their heart never really believed.  There is only one judge, so you who like to say my team or player is holier than yours, check your robe at the door and give 18-24 year olds some slack.

We could spend a lot of time debating (which you are welcome to do in the comments) how much do we wear God on our sleeves versus waving a semi-Holy flag.  All I know is (now, not back then so well)  when I was in the working world for 30 years it was best to keep my religion as perhaps Joe Burrow did, in the locker room,  more often than spouting words while my life was spewing things from the wrong closet.  Most of us need (ed) much more time training in the carpenter shop (as Jesus did for 30 years) before putting ourselves,  or being put out, on stage to reveal our human selves.   And no that does not mean never saying or doing anything; (on the contrary we are told to Go).  We just need to be sure it is not laced with empty space, but admitting we are a work in progress as God guides us to a better place, that is reached, ONLY 100% by His Grace

Unfortunately, in the church world, few are caught praying; there’s usually a lot more going on in the closet.  What’s happening in your closet?   I hope you are Caught Praying.


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