March Madness has officially begun this week. Two of our local favorite teams are playing in this tournament which will last about two weeks. March Madness consists of the 68 best college basketball teams in the nation. The states of Wisconsin and Minnesota have two of our favorite teams in the tournament, the University of Wisconsin Badgers and the University of Minnesota Gophers. Actually Wisconsin has another team in the playoffs, Marquette University which is located in Milwaukee. Earlier this year I told everyone from the pulpit I had officially began to support the Wisconsin Badgers football team and that same week they played the Minnesota Gophers who upset the Badgers! My track record is not good for supporting the Wisconsin teams. Thankfully I will never be a fan of the Green and Gold so you can’t blame me for any future losses. During this next two weeks of basketball playoffs I’ll be rooting for various teams, even teams I normally don’t follow. I hope the Wisconsin Badgers and/or the Minnesota Gophers go very deep into the tournament, it makes for good conversation especially when I can turn the discussion towards eternal matters. The Badgers are a much better team than the Gophers but you never know what happens when playoffs begin. What does this have to do with anything of eternal significance? Life is a journey from beginning to end and the Scriptures tell us not only to run the race to participate in the tournament of life, but to win! The following verses speak clearly to what we as Christians should be doing. “Don’t you realize that in a race everyone runs, but only one person gets the prize? So run to win! All athletes are disciplined in their training. They do it to win a prize that will fade away, but we do it for an eternal prize. So I run with purpose in every step. I am not just shadowboxing. I discipline my body like an athlete, training it to do what it should. Otherwise, I fear that after preaching to others I myself might be disqualified.” 1 Corinthians 9:24-27 NLT Just like last week’s verse, from 1 Timothy, which declares spiritual training has benefit for this life and the life to come. This week’s verse speaks volumes to me, especially since I enjoy athletic competition. Our hope as a local church is we offer multiple eternal training opportunities. Whether it is Sunday morning worship, Sunday School, Adult Bible Study, specific ministries for men, women, youth, children and much more. This coming spring/summer we will begin a new believer’s class which will go through the foundations of our faith. We are very cognizant of how much time we take with scheduled activities throughout the week. Yet anyone who thinks their spiritual life will maintain a healthy state with just exercising once a week should know it takes a deeper level of commitment. Just think how many times a day the average person takes in natural nourishment. I’m hungry right now just thinking about what I am saying. We are just a few weeks away from celebrating Easter and part of our Easter activities this year will include an Easter Egg Hunt. Grab some flyers! Whatever we can do to invite friends with children, let’s do it. Our annual breakfast on Easter Sunday morning is another perfect invite for family and friends. It has two-fold application; we are feeding them in the natural and we’re feeding them spiritually, because we want them to taste and see that Jesus will satisfy their soul. Easter Sunday morning I will present and a very strong gospel message that you must be born again. So, advertising is important. We need to let everyone know what’s happening at Hawthorne Assembly over the next two months, whether it’s by personal invite, handing out flyers, putting up a poster in your town or a notice on your Facebook page. The reason people know about March Madness because all the sponsors advertise like nothing you can imagine. Let’s do the same!