5/1/19 – Pastor Brian’s Blog –

Today is my 65th birthday. WOW, I remember a time when I thought “65 is really old!!” I must be headed on the path to old age, because as I sit here writing this blog, I find myself reminiscing about how different things are today compared to when I was a kid. Is that just another confirmation that I am getting old??

Basketball was a big part of my life growing up. In my day, you didn’t really start playing organized sports until you were in Jr. High. I remember Mr. Holmstrom, my 8th grade teacher but also my 6th grade basketball coach. Of all my teachers throughout my school years, Mr. Holmstrom impacted my life more than any, and he wasn’t even a Christian. Maybe I will write a blog about him one day, but I digress.

Brian Gower in 6th grade.

In 6th grade, our school did not have a gymnasium, so not only did we have to practice outside, we had no home games. I have yet to mention that I grew up in Maine, where we had cold winters and a lot of snow. In order to have basketball practice after school, we would shovel snow off the outdoor basketball court during recess. We would also need 6 basketballs for practice, because a basketball would only last 5 – 10 minutes before it was to cold to dribble. When the ball would no longer dribble, someone would run into the school, place the ball on the cast iron radiator and bring out a warm basketball to use for another 5 – 10 minutes.

In the 7th grade we had a huge upgrade. Instead of having to practice outside, Mr. Holmstrom helped us clean out a barn and transform it into our gym. We removed all the cow stalls, plus scraped up the “stuff” that cows left in the stall. Although we had to shoot over beams, play on a wooden floor that was very uneven, and still play all away games, we didn’t have to shovel snow anymore and the basketballs did not get cold as fast.

All these thoughts came back to my mind this past week on hearing the news that John Havlicek, a former Boston Celtic, had passed away at the age of 79. As a kid in Jr. High I loved the Celtics. Back in the day, when I “walked to school uphill both ways,” you were lucky to see the Celtics play on TV once a week. I can remember many nights sitting in the dark, rocking in a rocking chair in our upstairs living room, listening to Johnny Most on the radio doing the play by play of a Celtics game.

Of all the accomplishments that Havlicek achieved on the basketball court, and there were many (NCAA basketball champion, 8 time NBA champion, 13 time NBA All Star, leading scorer in Celtic history, a member of the Basketball Hall of Fame, and considered to be one of the greatest 50 players in NBA history), probably the thing he is best remember for is “Havlicek stole the Ball.” That was the time when he stole an inbound pass and sealed the win in the 7th game of a playoff series against Wilt Chamberlain and the Philadelphia 76er’s.

Did I mention that I am 65 years old today? This week I began to think, “What is the one thing that people will remember, when they hear that Brian Gower has passed away?” Will they remember him as a friend, a pastor, someone that loved sports, a Papa to 18 grandchildren, a guy that was fortunate enough to be married to Judy for 46 years? What will people remember?

My mind then went to King David. What was the one thing that God thought of when He thought of David? There were so many things to choose from, and some of them not so complementary. He was a man that was guilty of cowardice in 1 Samuel 21, an adulterer in 2 Samuel 11, a murderer in 2 Samuel 12, a terrible father in 2 Samuel 13, and a person that struggled with pride in 2 Samuel 24. Believe it or not, the list goes on.

The thing that God thought of when He thought of King David, the thing He wanted to tell the New Testament church about King David is this… After removing Saul, he made David their king. He testified concerning him: ‘I have found David son of Jesse a man after my own heart; he will do everything I want him to do.’ Acts 13:22

For God to remember you as a man or a woman after God’s heart, does not require you to be perfect. For a man or a woman to be after God’s own heart, requires that a person must see their sin for what it is, an offense to God, and then repent of it. Nathan the prophet, confronts King David in one of his sins and this is David’s response: Then David confessed to Nathan, “I have sinned against the LORD.” 2 Samuel 12:13

To be remembered by God as a person after His own heart doesn’t require perfection, only true repentance. No one will remember how a runner begins the Boston Marathon; the spectators only pay attention to the end of the race. It’s not how you begin your life for God that matters most, it is how you end, that will make lasting memories for God and for others.

Like John Havlicek, there will come a day when we will die. Until then, let us choose to make every effort to walk in God’s forgiveness, let us see sin for what it is – an affront to God – and let us live our life in such a way, that not only will God remember, but others will remember, that we were ‘like David, a man or woman after God’s own heart; we would do everything God wanted us to do.’

Although John Havlicek accomplished many things in his life, I still remember that Sunday afternoon, April 15, 1965, watching that game when “Havlicek stole the Ball”…