March 18, 2002

COMMENTARY: March madness and priorities
___By Scott Sharman
___"Toto, there's no place like home!"
___For the last few months, the Sharman family spent Saturdays on the road. We followed the Hardin-Simmons University women's basketball team from pre-season scrimmages to the Sweet 16 bracket of the NCAA Division III tournament. Our daughter, Amanda, plays center for the HSU Cowgirls.
___What a season it has been! We've seen the Cowgirls of HSU set a school record for the most points scored in a single game, racking up 127 against Texas Wesleyan. We watched them break the school record for consecutive wins and stretch the new Online Onlyrecord to 21. We jumped from our seats in last-second come-from-behind wins against Howard Payne University and North Carolina's Guilford University.
___We criss-crossed the Lone Star State, driving to Seguin, Austin, Brownwood, Belton and Abilene. We watched the Cowgirls defeat East Texas Baptist and the University of the Ozarks in Clarksville, Ark., for the American Southwest Conference championship. We took a whirlwind trip to Wilmington, Ohio, the weekend of March 8 for the Sweet 16 bracket of the national tournament. To make the opening tip-off, we drove virtually non-stop through Arkansas, Missouri, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky and Ohio.
___That was our last basketball weekend. Our beloved Hardin-Simmons University Cowgirls fell to Indiana's DePauw University, finishing the season at 26-2. DePauw, which advanced to the Final Four, shot 64 percent from the floor, 67 percent from the three-point arc and 80 percent from the charity line.
___There is no question about it; we are devoted Hardin-Simmons University basketball fans. Our actions verify our devotion. You can look at the miles we logged and conclude that we are serious about our Cowgirls. You can look at the hat and shirt I wore to every game and know I am proud of the team. You can look at the way we spent our money and conclude that we are devoted followers.
___I wonder if other actions in my life testify as clearly to my devotion to the Lordship of Jesus Christ? When people look at the choices I make—how I spend my time and money—can they determine where my heart lies? To borrow from Larry Norman, the father of contemporary Christian music, "If I were arrested for being a Christian, would there be enough evidence to bring a conviction?"
___Spend time this week asking yourself such questions. Take a hard look at what you have determined will be priorities in your life. Do people know that you are belong to Christ simply by looking at the life you live? Are your words sprinkled with the gospel? Are you spending time daily in his word? Do you regularly worship with others? Does your budget include financial support of the work of spreading the gospel? Do you tell others about the hope you possess?
___It's great to be home. As much as I would have loved to travel to Indiana for the Final Four, it was good to be home that Saturday—with time to get some things done around the house that have gone undone for too long. I was be back in worship on Sunday with my home church family. I did, however, set aside a few hours to listen via the internet as DePauw played on Saturday. I am, after all, a serious HSU Cowgirls fan. I hoped their final loss was to the team that eventually becomes the national champs!

___Scott Sharman is pastor of Alsbury Baptist Church in Burleson, Texas.

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