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Cowboys’ new coach urges ‘game plan’ of faith in Christ

GRAPEVINE, Texas (BP)–Chan Gailey may have Super Bowl aspirations, but the new Dallas Cowboys coach insisted his main goal is to pattern his life after Jesus Christ.
That hasn’t always been the case, Gailey confessed to Fellowship Church in Grapevine, Texas, during two Sunday morning worship services.
“I grew up in a Christian home and was baptized at 11 years old,” recounted Gailey, who took the helm of the scandal-ridden Cowboys early this year.
“I grew up around Christian coaches, teachers and Sunday school teachers,” Gailey told the Southern Baptist congregation. “I was blessed in many ways, but for 17 years I really didn’t have a relationship with Christ.
“Sure, I was doing a lot of things that good Christians do,” he said, noting he went to church, read his Bible, prayed, sang in the choir and spoke on behalf of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes.
But that was the wrong “game plan” for his life, admitted Gailey, a lifelong Baptist.
He compared his life to an episode in the history of the people of Israel, recorded in 1 Samuel 4 in the Old Testament.
After losing a battle to their archenemy, the Philistines, the army of Israel went back to battle carrying with them the Ark of the Covenant, their holiest artifact. But instead of winning the next battle, they lost 30,000 soldiers, and the Philistines stole the Ark.
“What’s wrong with this picture?” Gailey asked. “They had a game plan. They did everything they thought they were supposed to do. … The Ark of the Lord’s Covenant was supposed to save them, but it couldn’t save them. The bottom line of that story and my life are the very same.”
Just as the army of Israel looked to the Ark for protection, Gailey said he depended on his good deeds for salvation.
“I thought reading my Bible, praying, going to church, giving money could save me. … I finally realized it takes a relationship with Jesus Christ — it takes a relationship with our heavenly Father to make this life work.”
“Going through the motions” will not provide salvation and personal peace, he said. “It’s not trying to do as many things as you can. It’s not the do’s and the don’t’s of Christianity. It’s not following a list of commandments that makes us Christians.
“It’s a relationship with Jesus Christ that makes us Christians, that allows us to have the abundant life that we read about in the Bible.”
Although their theology says otherwise, Baptists are among “the worst” at trying to earn salvation through good deeds, Gailey observed.
“Do you remember the envelopes we used to have, with all the little boxes on there?” he asked, citing information requested on the Sunday school envelopes: “Attending worship service, read my Sunday school lesson, giving to church, called somebody up and invited them to church, brought my Bible to church.”
“If you checked enough of those boxes, you felt like a Christian,” he said. “You could strut around all day, you know.
“And that didn’t have anything to do with it.”
Instead, good deeds are the “result of our relationship with Christ,” not the ladder to Christ, he said.
Gailey compared the value of faith versus the value of good works.
“Somebody said, ‘What’s more important, walking the walk or talking the talk?’ Now, I answer that by saying, ‘Which is the more important wing on an airplane, the right wing or the left wing?’ You’ve got to have them both to fly.”
Although outspoken in his Christian beliefs, Gailey declined to set himself as the model for others.
“Never look at some kind of man,” he said. “Don’t look at me, … don’t look at people. Man will fail. We all come short, every one of us.
“Christ is the answer. That’s who we look at. That’s what the goal is.”

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