"I went to Jerusalem to become acquainted (Gk. istoria) with Cephas" - Paul's words from Galatians 1:18.

The Lord Is My Passion, Football Is My Hobby

I grew up watching Oklahoma football. My family had a role in establishing my love for the Sooners, including my maternal grandfather, who was an All-American tight end for Oklahoma in the 1930's. I played quarterback and defensive back at a 5A Fort Worth, Texas high school in the late 70's. We ran the wishbone offense, and I always dreamed about playing football for OU. That never happened, but because of my fondness for the Sooners, I have always kept up with the people involved with OU football.

Yesterday's 37-20 enjoyable win over the University of Washington will be remembered by me not because of the game itself, but the people I was with during the game. Some of you may not find this post very interesting, but for those of you who love OU football, you will understand why yesterday was really special for me.

Jakie Sandefer

I sat in the suite of Jefferson Davis (Jakie) Sandiver III, the 1957 OU graduate and former defensive back and running back for OU. Jakie is the owner of Sandefer Oil out of Houston and has a home in Norman, Oklahoma so that he can spend the weekend in Norman when OU plays at home. He and his wife Melissa were very gracious hosts. Jakie is the big booster for OU football and is credited for the hiring of Athletic Director Joe Castiglione, and ultimately Coach Bob Stoops, because of his recommendation to President David Boren that the former Big Eight football commissioner, Charles Neinas, be hired to conduct the search himself, rather than the standard procedure of "search by committee." Obviously OU football is important to Jakie, but his eyes lit up the most when he shared with me that his grandfather was the President of Hardin Simmons University (a BGCT school) in Abilene, Texas, and is buried on the campus. His tombstone wounds, "A good name is more precious than gold." He teared up as he shared about his Southern Baptist heritage, his love for his grandfather, and his desire to see the young people of our country understand the importance of character. I was reminded today, by listening to this very generous and gracious man, that who you are is infinitely more important than what you have.

Barry Switzer and Allen Kerr

Barry probably needs no introduction. The former Oklahoma University and Dallas Cowboy football coach is an icon in Oklahoma. His college roommate was a member of Emmanuel before he passed away a few years ago, so through my church member's family I have known Barry for a several years. Barry's language is always a little salty, but he is one of the funniest men I have ever met. He told me a couple of absolutely hilarious stories that I hope to relay one day on this blog. Barry can also be a very serious person when he wants to be and has told me about his decision to "accept" Christ at a Billy Graham Crusade in Oklahoma City many years ago.

Barry's friend that came with him to the game was Allen Kerr. I had never met Allen before, but I really came to appreciate him. Allen is CEO of Adele Custom Furniture out of Burleson, Texas with his showroom in the Dallas Designer District. Allen is a member of Fielder Road Baptist Church in Arlington, Texas where my friend Gary Smith, the former pastor of Emmanuel, Enid, is currently the pastor. Allen shared with me a very refreshing testimony of his love for the Lord Jesus Christ. He really has a desire to have all of his friends, including Barry, to have a meaningful relationship with Christ.

Jerry Tubbs

Jerry is one of the nicest men you will ever meet. I remember as a boy going to Dallas Cowboy games and seeing Jerry play. He was an All American center and linebacker for OU under Coach Bud Wilkinson in 1952,1953, and 1954. He was drafted by San Franciso and later traded to Dallas where he played for Tom Landry and eventually coached with Tom at Dallas until Jerry retired from the NFL in the early 80's. He is now in his 70's and lives on a ranch east of Dallas. His name is in the Ring of Honor in Texas Stadium and he remains a legend among the OU greats of the past. Several people, including the really young kids, were asking Jerry for his autograph and he patiently signed them all. My father used to tell me that as a people get older they either get better or they get bitter. God has definitely allowed Jerry Tubbs to get better.

Claude Arnold

Claude was the quarterback for the Oklahoma Sooners when we won our first National Championship in 1950. Claude graduated from Okmulgee High School in 1940 and went just one semester to college before he went overseas to fight in WW II. After the war, with the help of the GI bill, he enrolled at OU with no intentions of playing football. He was older than most freshmen, and legend has it that an assistant coach for the Sooners walked by the intramural fields one day and saw this quarterback zing the ball all over the field. The assistant promptly told Head Coach Bud Wilkinson he needed to get that boy from Okmulgee to play ball for the team. The rest is history. Claude and his lovely wife Nancy have been married for nearly 60 years. He has done well in the oil business, but he and his wife have never forgotten their common roots and are a very delightful couple in their mid 70's.

Jimmy Harris

Jimmy was OU's starting quarterback in 1954 and 1955. He, Jerry Tubbs, and Jakie Sandifer all played together. They were all a part of the NCAA record setting 47 game winning streak. Jimmy eventually played professional football for the Philadelphia Eagles. Allen Kerr was telling me that as an eight year old boy he watched an OU game where Jimmy came off the field staring at his hand. Allen came closer to see what the star quarterback was looking at, when Jimmy looked up and said, "What're you lookin at boy?" Allen said he ran away scared but never forgot that incident. Jimmy heard Allen telling me that story and showed me the scar on his hand from a shoe spike that pierced his hand during that game fifty years ago. It was really odd to hear a story about an event, and then to see the evidence of the event in the form of the scar. It reminded me that every event in life has continuing ramifications --- either good or bad.

Clay Bennett

Clay is the son-in-law of the late Edward K. Gaylord, the owner of the Daily Oklahoman, and the man for whom the stadium is named after. Clay recently purchased the Seattle SuperSonics basketball team, and if Seattle does not build a new arena for the Sonics, and if the Hornets move back to New Orleans, then the Sonics will probably become the Oklahoma City Sonics (or possibly renamed). Clay Bennett has really put Oklahoma City on the national map in the area of professional sports, but I was very impressed with his quiet demeanor and humble personality. Clay did not stay long, but was the consummate gentleman.

Ron Young

Ron is partner in the Houston law firm Young and Brooks. He has been a long time OU fan himself and flies up for most of the home games. Ron is an avid golfer and we plan on playing together next game day when the OU game is at night. Ron asked me if I knew Judge Paul Pressler, and I told him that I did. I said I had a great deal of respect for the Judge. He wondered if recent events in the SBC would affect our friendship (though he is not a Southern Baptist, he has followed the Convention). I told him that as far as I was concerned, any Christian who named the name of Christ was a friend of mine, regardless of any differences we might have in our view of politics or disagreements over the non-essentials of the faith.

Holly Hunter

Those of you who know me know that I really like movies. If I were not a pastor, I would probably be a movie critic :). Holly Hunter has Oklahoma roots and has played many leading roles in Hollywood in films like "The Firm" with Tom Cruise and "The Piano." It was hilarious to all of us that she wanted her picture taken with Barry Switzer. In Oklahoma, football beats Hollywood hands down.

John and Denise Bode

John was the Assistant Director of the Agriculture Department in Washington, D.C. under President Ronald Reagan in the 80's. His wife Denise is on the Board of the Oklhohoma Corporation Commission and recently lost her bid for Congress. John and Denise are Catholic, but very vocal about their faith in Christ. They both are humble, godly people who represent the best of what Oklahoma has to offer. John now works with a law firm out of D.C., but maintains his office in OKC and they both try to never miss an OU game. When I asked John how he ended up in Washington, he told me how David Boren, who used to be President of Oklahoma Baptist University, asked John and Denise to go to D.C. to work in Boren's Senate office. John eventually went to work for the Algricultural Department and has been affiiated with D.C. ever since. John and Denise are the kind of politians I really admire.

John and Marsha Funk

John and Marsha were guests of the Bodes. John has a law firm in downtown Oklahoma City and attended OU and OU law school from 1971-1978. John is very knowledgeable of OU football, and since OU took the name of the back of the jersey's this year, John was a delight to have in the suite because he could tell everyone, without looking in the program, the name of every player on the field.

Norman Lamb

What can I say about one of my best friends and fellow member of Emmanuel. Norman and I go to the games together and have a wonderful time. He has taught me a great deal about Sooner football and life in general. I really appreciate his friendship and can't say enough good things about this man.

Brian Bishop

Brian did not sit with us in the suite, but I met him for the first time yesterday at Jakie Sandifer's house before the game.

Brian had his hand in several different businesses in OKC prior to the Murrah Building bombing in 1995. The bombing changed his life.

Brian sold many of his businesses after the bombing and became the Executive Assistant to Pastor Nick Harris of the First United Methodist Church in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. I was the Chaplain in charge of the temporary morgue, whch was established at First Methodist, immediately after the bombing. I understood what Brian meant when he told me that First Methodist faced a tremendous challenge after the bombing to get back on her feet because of the damage to the church --- I saw it.

Brian helped. He stayed for several years at First Methodist until he resigned to begin a new business in Norman, Oklahoma --- OU Insider.Com --- the premier website for Sooner athletics. Brian took me across the street where he showed me his house and the operations room for OU Insider.Com and then he shared with me the new ministry he and Nick Harris are beginning for OU students.

They are buying a building near the campus to transform into a training institute to teach international students apologetics, Biblical doctrine, and other Christian studies in order to send those students back to their home countries as Christian leader. It is an exciting ministry that thoroughly impressed me.

I told Brian that it was an honor for me to meet the head of OU Insider.Com, but even more of an honor to learn that the man who operates the premier college athletics website in the country was even more serious about his commitment to Christ.

Brian shook my hand and then told me something that will stick with me forever and became the description for my day.

"Wade," Brian said, "The Lord is my passion, football is my hobby."

Well said Brian.

One thing about it, of all the people I met today, whether young or old, rich or poor, famous or infamous --- everyone of them has the same need --- a relationship with Jesus Christ.

The ground at the cross is level.

In His Grace,


Wade

21 comments:

Nomad said...

Wow! What a crowd! A little bit of the green eyed monster rearing its ugly head.

A 10-40 Window Missionary said...

Wade,

Thanks for the trip down memory lane. Many names I grew up "knowing" via radio broadcasts on Saturday.

I even remember hearing about that Switzer guy when he was a razorback...too bad he was not a Sooner.

Thanks again...

Kevin Bussey said...

I'm not even an OU fan, and I would have enjoyed that crowd.

RM said...

Kind of scary thinking about that many Sooners all around you... Hook em 'Horns (even though they are slightly bent today).

Bryan Riley said...

What a delightful day it must have been. May it continue to be used by the Father to open up more and more doors to ministry and to the gospel of Christ being proclaimed among the Nations and in the Earth. I was an OU fan first, but we moved to Arkansas right before I turned 7 years old. At that time Oklahoma was definitely "Switzerland" and Billy Sims was running wild.

Wade Burleson said...

One of the things I have learned in life is that there are people who seem to struggle with a bitter spirit. Phariseebuster, I will pray for you. I would simply ask that you also prayefully consider if God would have you comment in the spirit with which you currently find yourself. If so, you are welcome to comment on my blog and I will not remove it.

I guess I will be like David when Shemei cursed him. He refrained Abishai from striking back with these words "God hath bidden Him."

Blessings to all, and may the Lord give everyone a wonderful Lord's day.

Wade

(By way of explanation I have removed two comments that are particularly vitrolic by Phariseebuster).

Bryan Riley said...

Father, protect Wade from letting any comments or any thoughts from quenching your Spirit as he prepares to speak Your words this morning.

phariseebuster said...

Why? Because they hit to close to home?

SBC Layman said...

Even as young as I am, I remember most of those names.

I find it encouraging that even as there is a scarlet thread of redemption in the Word, there is also a scarlet thread of redemption that runs through each and every believer that connects all who profess Jesus Christ as Saviour, Substitute, and Sustainer.

Gal 6:14
But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world.

Troy

davidinflorida said...

Pastor Wade, Its nice to be able to change gears and talk about sports. Its also nice to be able to find Jesus in the midst all of this........I also find it funny that we are almost totally opposite on these teams. I grew up in upstste N.Y.. Since I was 6 years old I was a N.Y. Giant fan. Giant fans just do not like the cowboys. I have two favorite NFL teams now , the Jags, and whoever is playing the cowboys (today its just the Jags). .....After my family moved to Austin, I became a Horns Fan and again, we dont like O.U.. Thankfully its only a game...

RM said...

Wade,

How in the world could someone write a bad letter after that blog. Even though I'm a 'Horn, I thought it was great! I'd love to sit with a bunch of old Longhorns like that. Sometimes I don't understand the heart and intent of some Baptist brethren...

davidinflorida said...

Its too bad that some see bad when there is none... There was nothing but good in my post. Just because we are for different teams doesnt mean that there is bad or some kind of hate here. I believe that Pastor Wade knows me and my heart..Like I said, its only a game, and where there are games there are good rivalries. These rivalries are some of the best there is......But , if I have dissapointed somebody, I am sorry, really.....

Jacob Jones said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Jacob Jones said...

The game you described sounds pretty close to heaven on earth (for us Sooner fans). For some reason, God has put me in the purgatory of football areas. I am a youth pastor in Pocola, Ok. The closest college geographically is Arkansas. Since they can’t seem to get a football program going, they find solace in tormenting any OU fan when we lose (or don’t win by more than 2 touchdowns). I know that if I persevere, God will one day call me deeper into the Promiseland.

If Thompson continues to maintain, we are in good shape. The trail is our next game.

Roger Simpson said...

Wade:

I knew OU was a big thing here in OKLA but I really didn't know HOW BIG until my wife, daughter and I moved here to Oklahoma City from Silicon Valley a couple of years ago.

A lot of my neighbors are OU alums. OU is a religion around here.

I told them my undergrad school was Long Beach State. My wife and I were on the LBSC presidents circle (we gave to the school) and got free tickets to the homecoming games and attended a receptions with other donors before the game behind the end zone. That was in the mid to late 1980s. Now Long Beach has discontinued its football program.

I went to graduate school at the University of Santa Clara. While I was there (mid 1980s) Santa Clara won the NCAA Men's Soccer Championship. Many years ago (1930s) SCU won the Sugar Bowl (maybe it was Cotton Bowl). However, about ten years ago they discontinued the football program.

My neighbors would kill me if I went to OU to pursue a PhD. With the "anti-football curse" that I evidently posses OU would be announcing the end of the football program if I set foot on the Norman campus. Coincident with this there would be a lynch mob in front of my house.

Guys around here are telling me to go to UTex Austin instead!

CB Scott said...

Volumes will not hold the far greater glory of Alabama football heros over Oaklahoma girliemen:-)

cb

Wade Burleson said...

CB,

Learn to spell Oklahoma and I will take more seriously your girlie men comment.

:)

Wade

:) CB why don't you join us in Fort Worth this week?

Jeff said...

Wade, thanks for the regaling of names, all dear to the heart of any okie. I have come to regard Oklahoma as my true home after 8 years in Enid and at Emmanuel. Regardless of where God leads us; Oklahoma has our heart, and the heart of our kids. I am still a K-State Wildcat fan but now with my daughter a junior at OU I am finding it more and more difficult not cheering for the Sooners. The heart of the people do not cease to impress inspire and humble us former yankees. The account of the four memorial services this weekend in Enid testify to that and to the enormous grace God has given to all who knew and loved these young folks. Thank you for sharing that, and I know how level the ground is at the cross and even more so at the gates as Christ welcomes those who have gone on, both famous and obsure.

Jeff Rogers (Former Emmanuel member, but still an Emmanuelite).

CB Scott said...

I bow to the spelling lesson knowing I do not have to bow on the football field. I think that in my rush to point out our greatness I had a mental slip that revealed how slow we think you folks are coming out of the backfield. Oak trees moving at top speed:-)

Oklahoma does have the best quarter horses but Alabama does have the best football players and Baptist universities:-) Of course we have the greatest preachers and chicken farms also, which is the reason we have plumper preachers.

cb

cb

Luke said...

I am friends with one of the Gilbow's and was at his funeral in Blytheville, Arkansas where Switzer spoke. I hope you share some of those stories as they are all great

sierra said...

It was the Murrah Building, if you can correct it in your Blog you misspelled his Name. He was my grandfather.
I haven't seen Brian in years and I was looking for him when I ran across this Blog. Very interesting.