Saturday, November 29, 2008

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Monday, November 17, 2008

Monday, November 10, 2008

Monday, November 3, 2008

Ron Brown after OU

Doing Sports God's Way with Rachel Schwartz



For the Doing Sports God's Way lesson on Rachel Schwartz, click here.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Kearney Fields of Faith


Kearney High FCA hosted the 2008 FCA Fields of Faith outreach this week with several hundred students attending from a variety of huddles including, Holdrege, Ansley, Pleasanton, Lexington, Overton, Kearney and many others. The speakers were Jared Hodgson (Overton High), EJ Gannon (UNK) and Pastor Pat Abendroth of Omaha Bible Church. Josh Erickson organized the games while the Kearney Evangelical Free Church Overflow Band provided the music. Bob Talbitzer was the emcee and Erin Mankin did much of the work to promote the event. Great job, Erin! The video above shows some of the highlights from the evening along with the final five minutes of Pat’s talk. Pat’s entire message (30 minutes) can be watched here. The photo gallery of the evening can be found here.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Ron Brown after loss to Missouri



For the Doing Sports God's Way lesson on Ron Brown, click here.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Do Not Love the World

Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world-the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride in possessions-is not from the Father but is from the world. And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever.


A good friend of mine often tells visitors to Nebraska that the state religion is “Husker Football”. While this is meant to be a joke, I would argue that there is much truth in that statement. As I examine my own heart, I often seem to have more passion for the Big Red than I do for the Almighty God. My joy and enthusiasm for life can be wrapped up in whether the Huskers lose or win on Saturday. I can’t count how many times over the years that the major conversation during church on Sunday mornings revolves around the outcome of a Husker football game. Often times, I am the one in the middle of the conversation. I’m guessing I am not the only Christian in Nebraska with these same struggles.

As I read these verses in 1 John 2:15-17, I see a warning for those who love the “things in the world”. I do believe that God has created sports for athletes, coaches, and fans to enjoy and steward for the advance of the Gospel. However, we are so prone to loving sports more than God. Jesus tells us in Matthew 22:37, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.” What a powerful and condemning statement! I immediately feel conviction and recognize that I don’t always love God the way Jesus commands.

The key in all this is to remember verse 17, which says, “And the world is passing away along with its desires…”. In light of eternity, Husker football and sports in general are fleeting. No championship trophy, all-american award, or season ticket will last forever. We won’t get to the end of our life and wish we had spent more time satisfying our desire and love for sports. Many of us will wish we had spent more time doing the will of our Father.

Some key questions to ask yourself are:

1. Do I honestly love sports more than I love God?

2. Do I spend more time in God’s word, prayer, and worship of God OR in
watching and playing sports?

3. As I compete or watch sports, is my love and motivation directed towards the Lord?

4. Does my joy flow out of the ups and downs of my favorite sports team? Or,
does it flow from the daily reminders of God’s grace and mercy?


Josh Reynolds
Central-Northeast Nebraska FCA

Thursday, October 2, 2008

It's a Process


"We know that all things work together for the good of those who love God: those who are called according to His purpose. For those He foreknew He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brothers." - Romans 8:28-29

As far as wins and losses are concerned, this tennis season has been brutal for the Scottsbluff Bearcats Men's Tennis team. We are mainly starting all sophomores at the varsity level with one junior and we just added one freshman to the line-up. Things really blew up on us Tuesday as we got rolled by an average Alliance team where we did not come close to winning one match. We lost our composure in a couple of those matches and the grind of getting beat week in and week out was starting to wear on our guys.

As the day came to a close, I found myself understanding the scripture mentioned above at a deeper level than ever before. It is amazing the incredible parable sports is to life. As I meditated on this scripture more, I felt God lay on my heart a long term vision for these sophomores, junior and freshman. Being conformed to the image of Christ is a long term process. In our microwave society, none of us like to hear the word process but never does a new believer instantly become a splitting image of Jesus, just like a freshman picking up a tennis racquet for the first time at the beginning of the season never instantly becomes a splitting image of Andre Agassi.

It is a long term process that we all go through in being conformed to the image of Jesus. Just like the experience that the Bearcats are going through right now will be invaluable in the years to come, so it will be with the trials you are dealing with in your life as well. God is using it all to make us more like Him and we can trust in that knowing that He has a purpose with it all. Of course there is a stipulation that goes along with this promise in Romans 8. It is only good for those who love God. Have you trusted Jesus as your savior? If so, then go ahead and trust him with what you are dealing with in your life right now.

Nate Lewis
FCA-Area Representative
Western Nebraska

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Cross Training with Eric Hagg



For the Doing Sports God's Way lesson on Eric Hagg, click here.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Friday, September 26, 2008

It Doesn't Make Sense!

"But all who knew Him, including the women who had followed Him from Galilee, stood at a distance, watching these things." - Luke 23:49

If any of you are like me, when you read something like this you automatically wonder what must have been going through these people's minds. The scene was set right after Jesus had taken his last breath on the cross and His mother Mary along with several others had just witnessed the most brutal death in the history of all humanity. If I had been in their shoes, I think I would have made the statement "It doesn't make sense!" After all, Jesus was sinless. He didn't do anything deserving such a death. To add to the drama, in Luke 1 the angel Gabriel appreared to Jesus' mother Mary and told her "Rejoice, favored woman! The Lord is with you." If I were the one observing Jesus dead on the cross, I think I would have asked the question "Lord, how is this favor? How are you with this?"

One of the things I love about sports is how God uses it to teach us about life. Maybe it is a bad call by a referee that many of us have reacted to and made comments like: "Are you serious?! That is a horrible call! That doesn't make any sense!" Or maybe it is a serious injury that you don't believe that the athlete being injured deserves to go through. I talked with a Mom last night who had her son go through a knee injury at their football game last Friday night. She was frustrated by the timing of the situation especially considering her son was playing on the varsity team with his brother and they were supposed to have a successful season together. "That doesn't make sense!" she said. But apparently God has another plan.

Three days later Jesus rose from the dead. According to Romans 4:25 He was raised for our justification. Amazing love! Amazing grace! All of a sudden it all makes sense! We can trust God with His plans for our lives both on and off the field. He has never broken a promise and He has always been faithful. He can be trusted and He has proven it time and time again. "Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your graciousness be known to everyone. The Lord is near. Don't worry about anything, but in everything, through prayer and petition with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses every thought, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus" - Philippians 4:4-7

Nate Lewis
FCA - Area Representative
Western Nebraska

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Vince Young deals with Depression












Questions about the Titans’ star quarterback have surfaced after he was booed heavily by fans upset at his second interception. It appeared that he didn’t want to return to the game. Finally, after his coach visited with him on the sidelines, he returned to the offense. Four plays later, he sprained his knee when Jaguars linebacker Daryl Smith crashed into it.

Following the game, Young didn’t go to the Titan’s headquarters on Monday which led his coach to pay him a visit at home. The team eventually sent a psychologist and another team official to talk with him. He was described as being emotionally down. While many Titan fans may believe Vince Young is “Superman” on a football field, he is every bit as human as the rest of us when faced with a serious setback on or off the field.

I wonder what Young was thinking or telling himself as he was booed by fans. It’s not uncommon to see an athlete talking to themselves. While many of us might not be caught in public talking to ourselves, most of us are greatly influenced by listening or talking to ourselves — especially when we are discouraged or depressed. Find out how to move your attitude from troubled to hopeful with this week's
"Doing Sports God's Way" lesson
.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Do You Need A Spiritual X-Ray?

Idolatry in the world of sports is prevalent and can take on many different forms. I have never met an athlete, coach, or fan who has never struggled with idolatry. According to author Ken Sande, in his book The Peacemaker “An idol is anything apart from God that we depend on to be happy, fulfilled, or secure. In biblical terms, it is something other than God that we set our heart on (Luke 12:29; 1 Cor. 10:19), that motivates us (1 Cor. 4:5), that masters and rules us (Ps. 119:133; Eph. 5:5), or that we trust, fear, or serve (Isa. 42:17; Matt. 6:24). In short, it is something we love and pursue more than God.” Sound familiar?

I love what Martin Luther wrote about idolatry in saying,

To whatever we look for any good thing and for refuge in every need, that is what is meant by ‘god.’ To have a god is nothing else than to trust and believe in him from the heart…To whatever you give your heart and entrust your being, that, I say, is really your god.


For the athlete, coach, and fan, it is important to understand what lies at the root of this idolatry. James 4:1-3 addresses this clearly:

What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you? You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel. You do not have, because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions.


Unmet desires in our hearts (good or bad) results in a demand that controls us and becomes an idol. This is common in sports. Sports provide us with happiness, fulfillment, and security. They motivate, master, and rule us. We trust, fear, and serve the god of sports all too often! So, how do we deal with this idolatry? I would suggest we take Ken Sande’s approach of asking ourselves some key X-ray questions that can reveal the true condition of our hearts. Once we see the sin in our hearts, we can then repent and renew our focus and worship of Jesus Christ while competing.

Ask yourself the following X-ray questions (apply to your sport):

1. What am I preoccupied with? What is the first thing on my mind in the morning and the last thing on my mind at night?
2. How would I answer the question: “If only _______, then I would be happy, fulfilled, and secure”?
3. What do I want to preserve or to avoid at all costs?
4. Where do I put my trust?
5. What do I fear?
6. When a certain desire is not met, do I feel frustration, anxiety, resentment, bitterness, anger, or depression?
7. Is there something I desire so much that I am willing to disappoint or hurt others in order to have it?

Before you take the field, it might be important to give yourself a spiritual X-ray examination and then repent and pursue the Lord!


Josh Reynolds
Central-Northeast Nebraska FCA

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Image is everything?

If you have watched the Olympic games, you certainly will have picked up on the fact that many athletes and even the country of China strive to create a wonderful self image. Athletes put on shows before and after competing in order to bring a picture of greatness upon themselves. China itself has worked very hard to bring a positive picture upon their country. Image. Image. Image.

From digital enhancement to cheating, people have been using these Olympic games to produce an image which at times isn’t even a clear picture of reality. These tactics are no different then the enemy himself. Satan disguises himself, lies, cheats, and deceives to make people believe something different than reality.

On the flip side, you have Christ who presents himself completely accurately and perfectly only by presenting the Truth. He came as he was. His focus was not to glorify Jesus as man but to simply bring glory to God.

What a beautiful sight it would be to see these wonderful, historical games played for the glory of God rather than the glory of man.

Romans 14:11, “It is written: " 'As surely as I live,' says the Lord, 'every knee will bow before me; every tongue will confess to God.' "

Brian Conklin
Omaha Metro FCA

Friday, August 15, 2008

Testimony of a Gator

Check out this powerful, Gospel-centered testimony of Susan Yenser. Susan plays basketball for the University of Florida. You will be blessed if you take the time to listen. She is sharing her testimony at a UF FCA huddle meeting.



Josh Reynolds
Central-Northeast Nebraska FCA

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Treasures in Heaven

A couple weeks ago I had the opportunity to watch the best tennis in the world. I took a few days vacation and traveled to Cincinnati, OH to watch the quarters, semis, and finals of the Western and Southern Financial Open. This event is one level below all of the grand slam tournaments so all of the top players in the world were there.

It was very interesting to observe and take in these four days worth of tennis. Everything from the ESPN Set covering the event to Rafael Nadal warming-up on the side court, to the things that were said both during and after matches.

Probably the most interesting thing that I saw happen was in the final match between Andy Murray and Novac Djokovic. Andy Murray was serving and was about to win his first major tournament and was very visibly nervous. At one point after he had won a point, he walked up to the ball boy who had picked up the ball he had just won the previous point with and asked for the same ball back for the next point.

This made me think about superstitions in sports. Most of the time superstitions are selfish in nature and are in an attempt to glorify man through his own selfish gain rather that achieve the goal that God has for us in sports which is to know Him, glorify Him, and become more like Him.

Jesus said this in Matthew 6 "Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also."

Instead of man glorifying superstitions, try to find something visual when you compete that can remind you of the goal of knowing God, glorifying Him, and becoming more like Him. For me, when the service line runs into the singles line on a tennis court, it reminds me of a cross and what Jesus did on that cross to save me from my sin. That motivates me to glorify Him in all that I do because I don't deserve that. What can you find to remind you of Jesus in the midst of competition?

Nate Lewis
FCA-Area Representative
Western Nebraska

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Art Monk on Display



CJ Mahaney at Sovereign Grace Ministries has some great thoughts on Art Monk's induction in the NFL Football Hall of Fame. It is well worth the read.

Josh Reynolds
Central-Northeast Nebraska FCA

Monday, August 4, 2008

"God taught me the game of football."


This was what NFL Hall of Fame's Raymond Berry once told my friend Nebraska receiver's coach Ron Brown at an NFL training camp years ago. What he was saying is that, greater than all his learning from being a great player, or from great coaches who mentored him, or from his own experiences as a coach was the wisdom he gained from the Word - Jesus Christ.

King David said something very similar in Psalm 119:99-100 when he said, "I have more insight than all my teachers, for your testimonies are my meditation. I understand more than the aged, because I have observed your precepts." Kings had to know all about finance, justice, administration, science, war and so on. They had mentors and advisors to teach them, but for King David his learning ultimately came from the Word as he sat at the feet of the King of kings.

Coach Berry went on to tell Coach Brown that he would pray in the midst of games in order to get his counsel from the Lord on how to lead his players through the game. Wes Neal calls this the principle of "chattering" - having a running conversation with God during the game. When we do this, we are putting our confidence in God, and not in ourselves. Besides, who knows more about you and your sport than God? Let the glory be God's by learning how to do your sport God's way and not man's way!!!

Chris Bubak - FCA-Nebraska State Director

Friday, August 1, 2008

A Coach's Influence


This week, the Nebraska FCA staff had the privilege of attending the NSAA Coaches Clinic in Lincoln, NE. With the estimated 2200 high school coaches in attendance, God provided us with some incredible opportunities to build relationships with coaches, to encourage and minister to them with the Gospel, and to begin cultivating in many of the Christian coaches an understanding of “Doing Sports God’s Way”.

Throughout the clinic, I was constantly reminded of the influence of the coach and the importance of reaching the coach with the Gospel. Sadly, coaches are often replacing fathers as the primary teacher and role model in young men and women’s lives. Fortunately, God has blessed the sports world with many God-fearing Christian coaches. It is so critical for these coaches to make the connection between their coaching and their faith in Jesus Christ.

2 Timothy 2:2 says, “and what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.” As coaches are faithful with teaching and proclaiming the Gospel and the glory of God through sports, we will see a reciprocal effect over the years in how athletes and coaches begin to view sports. As coaches obey God’s command in Ephesians 5:1, to “be imitators of God…”, imagine the eternal impact this will have on the kingdom of God!

Let’s commit to praying for and encouraging our coaches to coach “God’s Way”!

Josh Reynolds
Area Director
Central-Northeast Nebraska FCA

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Handling Disappointment

Last night at Fenway Park the Angels collided with the Red Sox in a game which many people considered to have a disappointing ending. No-hitters are rare in Major League Baseball but Angels pitcher John Lackey seemed to be having a near date with baseball history as he entered the ninth inning Tuesday night. It was there that after getting one out that John would have his no-hitter broken up by giving up a solid single through the infield.

This situation began to jump start a thought in my mind. Is there a place for the Christian athlete to be disappointed? Naturally, John Lackey had to feel some level of disappointment when giving up that hit even though the Angels went on to win. My immediate thoughts would be to question the motivation of his disappointment. If he was disappointed because he would lose out on personal glory then his actions would have to be considered a sin. On the other hand I do believe that there is room for some level of disappointment in this situation. I myself have witnessed a live no-hitter by Dave Stieb of the Toronto Blue Jays when he no-hit the Cleveland Indians when I was a little boy. Something about that game was amazing just because of the fact that I got to see baseball history. If Dave would have given up a hit I believe that there would have been some natural disappointment that really would not have been sin.

I believe that it comes down to the motivation of the heart. If the heart can remain focused on the joy in Christ and the goal of honoring Him, then I believe there is room for natural disappointment.

Psalm 33:3, “Sing to him a new song; play skillfully, and shout for joy.”

Brian Conklin
Omaha Metro FCA

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Be a Doer of the Word

"But be doers of the word and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves." - James 1:22

Towards the end of last week and the beginning of this week I have been consumed by non stop tennis during our one day FCA tennis clinics in Scottsbluff, North Platte, Hastings, and Omaha. The one consistant thing I seemed to hear from both athletes and coaches throughout the time we had together was this: "I understand what you are saying. I have heard this at church before." They were hearing what God was saying through His word but what was interesting was they had a hard time walking in obedience to His commands on a tennis court. Everything they had just heard about how God desired them to compete had just went flying out the window.

That is why this passage of scripture came to my mind when thinking back on the clinics. Even for me it was challenging after talking to the kids to then go out and compete with the glory of Jesus as my sole motivation. I hear what God desires of me in competition but actually doing that out on a tennis court is a totally different story. God is still training my mind to compete out of a desire to honor and glorify my savior and be a doer of the word, not just a hearer. I would hope this would encourage you to not settle with what you think you understand from God's Word and that you would continue to analyize and train your heart to compete and do life God's Way.

Nate Lewis
FCA Area Representative
Western Nebraska

Friday, July 25, 2008

Game Day for the Glory of God


Does the omnipotent and eternal God actually care about Little League games and Monday Night Football? The Bible calls Christians to do everything for God’s glory, and that includes playing, watching, and talking sports. Learn how to enjoy sports as a gift from God and as a means of growing in godliness.

Game Day for the Glory of God is a great book scheduled to be published in September. Stephen Altrogge is a friend of Nebraska FCA and has written this book to help us develop a God-centered perspective of sports. This will be a great book for coaches, athletes, and all whom they influence!

Be sure to get yourself a copy when it gets released in September!


Josh Reynolds
Central-Northeast Nebraska FCA

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Conservative?

As I opened the Omaha World Herald today I couldn’t help but notice the headlines which read, “Pelini says NU offense won’t be conservative.” In sports today, there are far too many athletes who compete “conservatively.” Players and coaches in every sport use this word which is very confusing to me. Why would any team play conservatively?

When a player holds back in any way, they are not giving a total release to Christ. Granted, there is strategy involved in each sport but we should never let strategy impact our effort.

Colossians 3:23 says, “Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men.” When I read this verse there seems to be a drastic difference between the word “heartily,” and “conservatively.”

Now I realize that coach Pelini was referring to the strategy more than the mentality. However, as a Christian we need to live our lives radically. A fan should never sit in the stands and say, “That Christian plays conservative.” To me conservative means hesitant, and being hesitant involves fear. I challenge you to give total release performances to Christ!

Brian Conklin
Omaha Metro FCA

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

What Really Matters?

"And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless until the day of Christ," - Philippians 1:10

It is amazing to me how faithfully consistent God is in His word with our goal for our lives. Currently I am preparing to teach at our FCA Tennis Clinics starting this Thursday in Scottsbluff and continuing on in North Platte, Hastings, and Omaha on Friday, Saturday, and Monday. As I have been studying I was struck by this passage when God inspires Paul to write about being able to discern what is best.

In a world that Paul refers to in Philippians 3 as full of enemies of the Cross of Christ, it can be very difficult to discern what is best. We have been drilled time and time again with questions that reveal the heart of the goal of sports according to the world such as "How many points did you score?" or "Did you win?" To which I ask: "What really matters!"

Philippians 1 refers to us being pure and blameless until the day of Christ as what really matters. Therefore, the questions we ought to be asking are "Did I glorify the Lord in what I did in competition today?" or "Did I learn to better walk in obedience to the Lord through my competition today? or "Did I become more like Jesus through my competition today?"

What is interesting is that God's goal for us in sports is really no different then God's Goal for us in our lives. Many of us (including me) have just failed to consider whether or not God would have a goal for us in sports and have simply deferred to what the world would define as the goal. The thing that makes this difficult to understand in our flesh is that God's goal for us is not something that is measurable like a win or a loss is. It is a matter of the heart. And God desires to be with us in the midst of competition as well.

Check out a great description of this from Western Nebraska FCA's Spring Banquet as former Denver Bronco and current National Spokesperson for FCA's Drug and Alcohol Free Ministry One Way 2 Play, Steve Fitzhugh recites FCA's Competitor's Creed.

Nate Lewis
FCA-Area Representative
Western Nebraska

Friday, July 18, 2008

Sports and the Lure of Big Money


There is no question that money (and I mean BIG money) has become a major part of the sports world. Money has become one of the primary lures for young athletes all across the world and they are biting. With multi-million dollar contracts, signing bonuses, and endorsements, professional athletes become millionaires overnight.

As Christians, how do we view the topic of money in sports? Certainly, the Scriptures do not treat money in itself as an evil or sinful thing. The key for every athlete (professional or wannabe) is to determine which “master” you will serve. In Matthew 6:24, Jesus explains it very clearly saying, “No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.” The question is not “how much money you make”, rather “who or what you are serving”.

An important memory verse that the Lord always brings to mind when I begin to see greed, envy, and the love of money in my own life comes from Proverbs 11:4. It says, “Wealth is worthless in the day of wrath, but righteousness delivers from death.” It doesn’t matter if you are Alex Rodriguez, David Beckham, or Tiger Woods, your money will not be worth anything when you stand before the judgment seat of Christ (Hebrews 9:27). 300 million dollars will not save anyone. The only “riches” that will matter will be the imputed righteousness of Christ. His perfect righteousness is the only way you or I can be delivered from certain eternal death.

So, the Lord may indeed call you to professional sports and to a multi-million dollar contract, but always keep in mind which “master” you intend to serve. Money can be a shiny, pleasurable, and appealing lure to bite, but Jesus Christ is the “radiance of God’s glory”(Hebrews 1:3). Nothing is more beautiful or worthy than Him.

Josh Reynolds
Central-Northeast Nebraska FCA

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Preach the Gospel

This past week I had the opportunity to have a great conversation with a former Pastor and current full time local tennis pro. This pro has an up and coming tennis business and already has the pleasure of giving lessons to over 800 people. During our conversation he told me something that struck me. He told me that with his new job of teaching tennis, he has had many more opportunities to preach the gospel and give pastoral counseling than he ever did with his time as a full time Pastor. This, to me, was surprising.

What a great challenge this is to us who spend so much time in the sports world. Do we have this same understanding of our role in athletics? It doesn’t matter if we coach, cheer, or compete. We will all have that same opportunity to share the gospel and speak biblical truth into the lives of those who we come in contact with. Let me encourage everyone reading this blog to see your role in sports as a direct calling from God. He commands us all to preach the Gospel. Will you view your athletic arena as a pulpit? The gospel must go forth!

Brian Conklin
Omaha Metro FCA

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Live According to the Plan

"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." - Jeremiah 29:11

This passage of scripture came to mind through a series of thoughts I have had since hearing the Josh Hamilton story. Josh Hamilton is a 27 year old outfielder for the Texas Rangers. Last night Josh set a home run derby record by hitting 28 home runs in a single round at the historic Yankee Stadium.

What many people are now finding out is that Josh is not only an amazing baseball player but he is also a recovering crack addict. Josh had been down a road of distruction, living according to Satan's game plan to steal, kill, and destroy (John 10:10). But as you read his story found at espn.com you will plainly see that Jesus Christ has changed his life.

This reminded me of the speaker we had for our Western Nebraska FCA Banquet in Gering last April. Steve Fitzhugh is a former Denver Bronco and current national spokesperson for FCA's drug and alcohol free ministry One Way 2 Play. Steve has had his whole family destroyed by drugs and alcohol. Steve most likely would have went down the same path had he not responed to a little nugget of truth when he was confronted with it: "For I know the plans for you", declares the Lord."

Hear Steve's Entire Story at the 2008 Western Nebraska FCA Banquet.

Now this passage of scriptue does not mean that we will now get what we want. The scripture does say "the plans I have for you". God's plan of prosperity is for us to be with Him. As both Steve and Josh have found, our sinful desire for what we think is prosperous prevents this from happening. We need Jesus so desperately. That is why you see both Steve and Josh living with the freedom they now live with. Because they are no longer bound to those sinful desires. They have surrendered their life and Jesus has set them free through his death on the cross and His reserection from the dead. Now living life and Doing Sports God's Way.

May we live according to the plan that is only possible through Jesus.

Nate Lewis
FCA-Area Representative
Western Nebraska

Monday, July 14, 2008

God Let Me Down?

During one of our camps this summer we were having a training time which was fairly demanding and frustrating. At the end of a drill, I like to take some time to try to coach the heart by processing some of the athletes' thoughts. One of the campers who had not done so well in the drill said, "I just feel like God let me down."

Now we know that Christians shouldn't think like that, especially those who are supposed to be leaders. And if they're thinking it, they DEFINITELY shouldn't say it! But I'm glad she was honest enough to say it. As we talked about it, I found out that several other girls in the drill had thought the same thing!

In fact, I would guess that we all have at least thought that God has let us down at one time or another. We think so because of our idolatrous heart...we want created stuff like applause, awards and man's approval rather than the Creator. We want God to help us get those things and when He doesn't (thankfully) we think He's let us down by not giving us what we want.

How has God let us down? He did not spare His own Son! How will He not also by His sovereign plan graciously give us all that is good and necessary? He even graciously gives us trials where we don't get what we want - this is a good thing because He works to guard our hearts against idolatry - worshipping the created stuff of earth rather than the Creator who is blessed forever. Amen! Romans 1:25

Chris Bubak - FCA-Nebraska State Director

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Are you ready?

This summer I decided to lace my basketball shoes back up for a summer league that takes place here in Omaha. I am officially done with ultra competitive basketball and am now just out there for the opportunity to practice what it means to “Do Sports God’s Way” while taking in a little exercise. This experience has given me the chance to make a very interesting observation.

The league itself is made up of former college and professional players along with current college and professional players. As I watch the current players it dawns on me from time to time that this is their job for the stage of life that they are in right now. Knowing that, I see some drastic differences between the ways that guys go about there training. John Turek is a former teammate of mine from the University of Nebraska and I watch him play in the games like it is the last one he will ever play. I ask him what he does during the day and he rattles off a very exhaustive list of things that he does in order for him to continue preparing for the upcoming season for overseas professional basketball. On the other side I see guys that are also professional players who walk up and down the court and obviously have allowed themselves to become terribly out of shape during their off season. The result of this behavior will be obvious when these guys check back into their respective teams for preseason workouts. John will be ready while those other guys will not.

It reminds me of how many of us approach life in our relationship with Jesus Christ. The Bible says in II Timothy 4:2, “Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage-with great patience and careful instruction.”

When faced with temptations, struggles, successes, etc. will you be ready to check into the workout called life? If we aren’t in constant preparation to know God’s Word then the answer is no, we won’t be ready. If we want to compete God’s way and live God’s way then we have to know God’s Word and we must be ready to preach it with our words and actions at a moments notice.

Brian Conklin
Omaha Metro FCA

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Danny Woodhead

Recently Danny Woodhead learned that he would be inducted into the Nebraska Football Hall of Fame. Danny graduated last spring from Chadron State College, a small NCAA Division II school in Northwest Nebraska. Throughout his career Danny has accumulated some ridiculous stats. Nobody has rushed the football for more yards in the history of the NCAA at all levels (7,962). In 2006 Danny rushed for 2,756 yards (another NCAA record at all levels) and averaged 181 yards per game. As a result of much of that success running the football, Danny was twice awarded the Harlon Hill Trophy in 2006 and 2007. The Harlon Hill Trophy is given to the NCAA Division II Football Player of the Year. Currently Danny is going through mini-camps trying to make the team with the New York Jets.

So why all the talk about all of Danny's stats on the Doing Sports God's Way Blog? Because as impressive as these statistics are, Danny has a relationship with Jesus Christ. And as Danny humbly admits, none of this would have been possible without Jesus. That is why Danny plays for the glory of God. On December 22nd of last year Danny was interviewed on FCA's National Radio Program - "Sharing the Victory" by University of Nebraska Tight End's Coach Ron Brown. I encourage you to take a listen to the heart behind all of this success. You will find a heart that does not define success in how many yards he can accumulate or if he can make it in the NFL. You will simply find a heart that desires to live for the glory of God in all areas of his life...including football.

Go to www.sharingthevictory.com/radio to listen to Danny's interview. Once you are there click on "Listen to our Program" and then scroll down to the December 22nd, 2007 program to listen.

Nate Lewis
FCA - Area Representative
Western Nebraska

Monday, July 7, 2008

An Imperishable Crown



Yesterday Rafael Nadal won what is arguably the most prized crown in the tennis world; the Wimbledon trophy. His battle with Roger Federer is being called one of (if not THE) greatest matches of all-time. The match was 4 hours and 48 minutes long and left both competitors exhausted.

But beyond the physical and mental exertion of this particular match lies the incredible preparation on the part of both men BEFORE this match. Each competitor went into strict training - the likes of which most of us will never know. But for what? To be the best? To win the trophy? To gain the applause and accompanying fame and adulation? To win the prize money associated with the championship?

The apostle Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 9:24,25 that these things are all crowns that will not last - they are perishing wreaths. Winning for the Christian DOES NOT find its definition in the perishable. We SHOULD go into strict training. We SHOULD give everything we've got to max out our God-given talent. We SHOULD strive to win. But our definition of winning finds its heart in the gospel and our prize is something infinitely more valuable than the temporary stuff of this earth.

Paul in verse 23 tell us, "I do all this for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings." That's it! His prize is the gospel as both motivation and reward. Winning Wimbledon certainly would be an exciting and happy moment, but nevertheless short-lived. For the Christian who is doing sports God's way, to point to the gospel as the highest reason and greatest reward (my utmost for His highest) - now that's an imperishable crown! Anything less is a motive from pride and a reward that is idolatry of the highest order!

Chris Bubak - FCA-Nebraska State Director

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Christian Madman

We live in a society today where being a Christian is more like an image rather than a way of life. We so often care about what others see. Because of this we have a tendency to just blend in with everyone else. I was listening to a sermon by Paul Washer today and he brought up a great point that got me thinking about the Christian Athlete. He quoted the movie Rocky when the trainer tells Rocky that he did the worst thing a boxer could do, “He became civilized.” We too often as Christians become civilized. We tend to just blend in with culture and all of its sin. For those truly following Christ this shouldn’t be the case. My guess is that the Apostle Paul, John the Baptist, and even Jesus Himself were viewed as “madmen” at times because they were counter culture.

The same goes as a Christian athlete. We far too often compete like any other person in athletics. If we are truly “Doing Sports God’s Way,” then this shouldn’t be the case. It should be evident by any fan, teammate, or coach that a Christian is playing as one possessed; possessed by the Holy Spirit. With the type of intensity that a Christian athlete displays, people should be able to tell that the Christian athlete is competing as a “madman” for Christ. By “madman”, I simply mean that they should be so driven to honor Christ through the empowerment of the Holy Spirit that they wouldn’t stop at any amount of pain, failure, embarrassment or anything else that makes the worldly athlete give up. Are you competing as a Christian madman? Are you committed to following Christ to the point that you don’t necessarily fit into the cultural norm? If not, repent and turn to the gospel. God doesn’t only enjoy watching us live and compete for Him, but He commands us to.

Brian Conklin
Omaha-Metro FCA

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Why Do Sports God's Way?

"Amazing grace! how sweet the sound
That saved a wretch like me.
I once was lost, but now am found,
Was blind, but now I see."

Lately as I have observed my own life and the lives of others it has become more apparent how wretched we as humans really are. Now probably at this point you are thinking, wow...thanks a lot Nate...Appreciate the encouragement! And I don't say this to ruin your day but actually to encourage you to think about how fortunate we are as Christians.

Romans 1:32 says this: "Although they know God's righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them." And what things might God be inspiring Paul to write about? Well, there is a big long list of them but verse 30 really stands out to me: "slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents;"

Its amazing as you watch the sports world and see many of these items listed at the end of Romans 1 lived out very well. It is unfortunate but it is true. And it has also been true of me. But then God sent His only Son to earth to bear His wrath of punishment for that very sin that you and I have committed on the cross. He died and then rose from the dead declaring victory over the forces of evil in this world. Then his promise in Luke 9:24 made more sense: "whoever tries to save his life will lose it but whoever loses his life for me will save it."

That is why we Do Sports God's Way...Jesus is all that matters.

Amazing grace! how sweet the sound
That saved a wretch like me.
I once was lost, but now am found,
Was blind, but now I see.

Nate Lewis
FCA - Area Representative
Western Nebraska

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Step in the Box

A very unique situation occurred this past week in a single “A” minor league baseball game that painted a clear picture for me on how many who claim to be Christians live their lives on a daily basis.

In a game between the Staten Island Yankees and the Brooklyn Cyclones a very rare situation took place. Ralph Henriquez of the Cyclones is a switch hitter and he stepped into the box to face Pat Vinditte of Staten Island who has the unique ability to pitch both right and left handed. This situation produced a humorous at bat as the hitter kept switching from side to side while the pitcher kept switching his glove from hand to hand. This battle took place for over 5 minutes without either player willing to give the advantage to their opponent.



This hilarious situation made me laugh, but also sadly reminded me that this is exactly how so many Christians are living their life. Too many people are hesitant to commit to stepping into the batters box in their relationship with Christ. Many are living their life without committing to Christ and enduring to the end. At the end of the Apostle Paul’s life he writes to Timothy in II Timothy 4:7, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” This wouldn’t have been possible without Paul first committing to stepping into the box to face trials, persecutions, and all else that his relationship with Christ would present. Are you willing to step into the box? Do you understand what life with Christ means? Stop standing there with one foot in and one foot out. Get in the game!

Brian Conklin
Omaha-Metro FCA

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

The End is Near

It seems like so many of the post on this blog have been concerning "fear." I am just blown away how prevelent "fear" is in the sports world and just how misunderstood it really is. Once again, there are two different realms of fear in this world. Fear of worldly things vs. fear of God. In this video, KG and Kobe talk about the fear of the end concerning the NBA finals. This is a huge statement. Fear of losing, fear of winning, or fear of the finals not living up to all it's made out to be? Their fear could be of many things. However, it is clear that they are not refering to the fear of God. And why not? They are right, the end is near. However, I am not talking about the end of a season. but the end of the world. Now is the time to follow Christ. The power that will be displayed in His return will be worthy of fear.

Malachi 3:1-2"Behold, I send my messenger, and he will prepare the way before me. And the Lord whom you seek will suddenly come to his temple; and the messenger of the covenant in whom you delight, behold, he is coming, says the LORD of hosts. But who can endure the day of his coming, and who can stand when he appears? For he is like a refiner’s fire and like fullers’ soap."

Brian Conklin Omaha Metro FCA

Monday, June 9, 2008

Be Humble to Max Out!


Recently, FCA-Nebraska hosted the Big Sky Pole Vault camp with Kearney HS(NE) vault coach Bob Talbitzer and vaulting great Pat Manson as our head camp clinicians. Pat is a great friend of mine who happens to still hold the high school American indoor record for vault at 17'6 1/2"! In fact, he vaulted 18' outdoors when he was still in high school. Pat holds the world record for number of consecutive years over 18 feet, having gone that high 22 years in a row!!

Pat attended Kansas University to vault for coaching legend Rick Attig. When he got there, the first thing Coach Attig told him was that if Pat wanted to really max out all of his God-given ability, he would need to change the mechanics to his vaulting technique. Wow, was that ever a blow to the pride in Pat! He's got the national high school record, is one of the best vaulters in the nation at any level right now and coach is telling him his form is not good enough!

But God was working in Pat's life. His best friend from high school had just become a Christian and God was using this friendship to soften and prepare Pat for things to come. Though he didn't know it yet, God was helping Pat begin to understand the importance of humility as the true measure of greatness. 1 Peter 5:6 says, "Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may lift you up at the proper time."

Pat humbled himself under God and under the instruction of his coach. He put off the pride of his flesh and put on the humility of Christ in order to learn obedience. And in due time, that obedience paid off. Pat went on to a great collegiate and professional vaulting career and ended with a personal best of 19' 2 1/2". Most importantly, his humble heart came to see his need for Jesus Christ as His Savior and Lord. Scripture tells us that God dwells with the humble in heart. Take time today to practice humility by learning to listen to people that God puts in your life like coaches and teachers. He will lift you up in due time!

Chris Bubak - FCA-Nebraska State Director

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

True Greatness

As the NBA finals are right around the corner we will undoubtedly hear the question, “Who will achieve greatness?” The word “greatness” is one of the most overused terms in our society today. We hear all about the “greatness” of Jordan, Bryant, Shaq, Garnett and countless other players. In reality, are any of them truly worthy of the term?

Doing Sports God’s Way is all about greatness. However, to be more specific, it’s about making the name of Christ great in every aspect of our competition. Should this be difficult? You would be crazy to think so. The person we are attempting to make great is the One who walked on water, made the blind man see, made the lame walk, lived a perfectly sinless life and then died for our imperfections only to overcome death three days later. Doing Sports God’s Way isn’t about us. It is only through Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit that we can do any good.

Next time that you take the court, field, pool, or track, realize that it isn’t about making your name “great.” Let the power of the Holy Spirit compete through you so that His name will be made “great.”

Psalm 47:2, “How awesome is the LORD Most High, the great King over all the earth!”


Brian Conklin
Omaha-Metro FCA

Monday, June 2, 2008

Spiritual Wind Sprints

Gassers. Suicides. The County Fair. "On the Line!" These were all terms that my flesh dreaded to hear during my years in competitive athletics. I knew that pain was imminent and unavoidable. I also knew that this physical conditioning was essential for me to achieve my goal of becoming the best athlete I could be.

In order to max out, every athlete must go into strict training. The physical and the mental aspects of any competitive endeavor require a great deal of effort to prepare for. But there's more...what about spiritual conditioning?

In 1 Timothy 4:7,8 the Apostle Paul tells his young disciple Timothy that there is a need to be trained, disciplined, conditioned spiritually. Physical training is only of little value; it's only good for this life. But a spiritual conditioning - spiritual wind sprints - are good both for this life and eternal life.

The spiritual disciplines include prayer, study of God's Word, fellowship with other believers and being a witness of Jesus Christ to those around me and they are crucial to our growth in Christ. They require strict training because they are costly, but they also have a double benefit; holding promise for both this life and the life to come!

In time I learned to accept (even like) gassers. In time I have learned to accept (and love) daily prayer, time in the Word, fellowship and witnessing in order to max out. Will you join me in this spiritual training?

Chris Bubak
FCA-Nebraska State Director

Friday, May 30, 2008

God's Weight Room


Thanks to Nick Orduna for pointing out this great devotional from Ron Hutchcraft.

God's Weight Room


Josh Reynolds
Central-Northeast Nebraska FCA

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Friend or Foe?

Athletics today are driven by hate and anger. Coaches teach athletes to hate their opponent. Rivalries are made because anger reigns between two teams. What happens when you reach the Eastern Conference finals only to play against one of your best friends? This happens to be the case as the Detroit Pistons take the court against the Boston Celtics. Superstars Chauncey Billups and Kevin Garnett have one of the most unique relationships in the NBA. Garnett is actually the godfather to the second child of Billups. How can you possibly compete in this situation? The answer, LOVE. Love is the greatest motivation. If these athletes were driven by hate or anger against their opponent, then they would be put into a difficult situation.

Jesus has this to say in Matthew 5:43-44, "You have heard that it was said, 'Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.' But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.”

Does love mean to let your opponent win? No! God calls you to be the toughest competitor out there. However, let your motivation be for the love of Christ. Tackle your hardest, box out the toughest, and spike with all your might. But also pray, for this is what God has commanded us to do.

Brian Conklin
Omaha FCA

Put on the New Self

A continued confirmation from the Word of God on His desire for our lives...including sports:

"You were taught with regard to your old way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness." - Ephesians 4:22-23

As we compete are we being made new in the attitude of our minds? That is the whole point of sports as a Christian athlete. Many times when we think about Doing Sports God's Way we think about the things that are tangible and can be seen with our eyes. And a lot of times those things are motivated by a heart to honor our Lord. But notice Ephesians 4:22-23. Putting on the new self starts with being made new in the attitude of our minds. In competition this forces us to answer questions like these:

1. What Biblically should be our goal when we compete?

2. As a Christian Athlete, how should we define winning?

3. As a Chriatian Athlete, what is our motivation in competition?

By trusting God's Answers to these questions found in His Word, we begin to put on the new self and become like God in true righteousness and holiness.

(Scriptures to look at to help you answer the above questions:
Romans 8:28-29
Philippians 3:10
Colossians 3:23-24
Romans 12:1-2)

Nate Lewis
FCA Area Representative
Western Nebraska

Friday, May 23, 2008

The Ultimate Closer


Last week, the Grand Island high school baseball team captured its first Class A state baseball championship by defeating Millard West 7-6. Mike Patterson wrote about the game in the Omaha World-Herald. He starts the article as follows,
"Entering the final inning of the Class A state championship game, Grand Island coach Rick Kissack wasn't sure whether to send ace Kash Kalkowski back to the mound. But that's when he heard his star pitcher say the magic words. "He said, 'Coach, I'm going to win it for you,'" Kissack said. "That was all I needed to hear." Coach Kissack put Kash in to close the final inning and the victory was sealed.

This reminds me of the victory Jesus won for us by voluntarily laying down his life for His team as a substitutionary atonement for our sins. From the very beginning, God's plan was to send His Son, in the form of man, to die on a cross for our sins and be resurrected from the dead. Even as early as Genesis 3:15 we see the plan as God says to Satan, "I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers, he will crush your head, and you will bruise his heel." Peter preaches in Acts 2:23-24, "this Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and forekowledge of God, crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men. God raised him up, loosing the pangs of death, because it was not possible for him to be held by it."

Leading up to His crucifixion, Jesus prayed to His Father in the garden of Gethsemane saying, "My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will" (Matt. 26:39b) He submitted Himself to the Father's will and later on in the same chapter after Jesus had been seized by the chief priests and elders, he said this, "Do you think that I cannot appeal to my Father, and he will at once send me more than twelve legions of angels? But how then should the Scriptures be fulfilled, that it must be so?" (Matt. 26:53-54)

Christ was on a specific mission to achieve a specific victory, the redemption of His people. 1 Corinthians 5:14-15 tells us, "For the love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died; and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised." He came as a "propiation" for our sins, satisfying diving wrath that we deserved(Romans 3:25).

Far from a closer in a state championship baseball game, Jesus Christ was the ultimate closer. He achieved for His team a victory that will last for eternity; the redemption and salvation of our souls!

Josh Reynolds
Central-Northeast Nebraska FCA

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Winning as Defined by God

"I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death," - Philippians 3:10

In high school girls tennis the middle of May brings the State High School Tennis Tournament. It never ceases to amaze me at how this game reveals the true heart of our young people and especially at state. This year one girl on our team really stood out to me as a prime example of how man's goals can significantly limit our potential.

In order to make it to the second day at state a player must win three grueling matches which then puts them in the semi-finals. The whole year this particular girl on our team made no secret of the fact that her goal was to make it to the second day of the tournament. Her play had been up and down her whole career as her biggest opponent when she stepped onto the court was herself.

However on this day at state, she was on her game. Being unseeded, she breezed through the 1st round and in the second round she gutted her way through a tough two set match against the five seed to give her a shot to make it to the second day...a quarter final match up with the four seed.

The whole match was amazing. I had not seen her play this well her whole career. She had incredible focus, intensity, and was able to listen and apply what the head coach was asking her to do during change overs. She ended up winning this match in a third set tiebreaker to make it to the state semi-finals the next day.

What a difference a day can make. She was nervous, tight, and had little energy on the court. She lost 6-0, 6-0 and then proceeded to lost her consolation match 6-0, 6-1. The sad part of it was that the girls she played were not that much better than the girl she had beat in the quarterfinals. Her goal was to make it to the second day and she accomplished that goal but what she didn't realize is how far short she fell from her potential.

As a Christian Athlete, the second day at state or even winning a state title is way to small of a goal. Paul had it figured out when God inspired him to write about his goal for us in Philippians 3:10: "I want to know Christ...becoming like him in his death," The goals that were previously mentioned leave us empty and unsatisfied because they are not the goals God has designed for us. The only way we will be truly victorious is when each day in sports and in life we know Christ more and have become more like Him. It is then that we will experience a sense of satisfaction because that is how God created us to live...to give Him glory.

Nate Lewis
FCA Area Representative
Western Nebraska

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Parenting and sports - a followup to Brian's post

The following excellent article is a piece that we have used in FCA to sharpen our thinking on how to steward sports. I would highly recommend it to coaches and parents who are in positions to teach athletes to recognize God's sovereign hand at work in their lives through the parable of sports.

You can learn more from C.J. Mahaney by visiting his blog at: www.sovereigngraceministries.org

Chris

Fathers and Sons And Sports
by C.J. Mahaney

I will do my best to provide some answers to your excellent questions about fathers and sons and sports. It is certainly an area I have given some thought and attention to, because of my love for sports and my son Chad’s participation in sports. My son is not only familiar with my love for sports, he is also aware of my idolatrous devotion to sports prior to my conversion. For me, participation in sports growing up was a means of self-exaltation. But I want my son to glorify God and not himself when he plays. So from a young age I have sought to protect him from emulating my past sinful example while building into his soul an appreciation for playing sports as a gift from God. I attempted to address this topic in chapter twelve of Humility: True Greatness.

Playing sports holds great potential for growth in godliness for our sons, but only if we as fathers lead our sons theologically and strategically. I fear that all too often our sons devote significant time to playing sports with little growth in godliness. Here is where the example and leadership of a father can make all the difference. It is our responsibility as fathers to teach and prepare our sons with biblical priorities prior to a game (or practice) and not to assume that we have fulfilled our fatherly responsibility simply by attending the game. And after the game, we should encourage and celebrate evidences of godliness and not primarily our sons’ athletic ability or achievements. Our priorities for our sons’ participation in sports must be theologically informed priorities rather than culturally celebrated priorities. Fathers who aren’t theologically informed are more impressed with athletic ability, statistics and final scores than they are biblical masculinity and godly character.

So, prior to each practice and game (Chad plays basketball and soccer) I have a conversation with my son about how he can glorify God. Here is a sampling of the biblical priorities and practices I review with him:

*Humbly receive correction from your coach and ask your coach how you can grow in character as well as athletic skill.
*Thank your coaches for the way they have served you. And thank the referees after each game.
*Encourage your teammates for their display of godly character and athletic skill--in that order of priority.
*Encourage your opponents during and after the game. If you knock someone over, extend your hand to help them up.
*Play the game passionately and unselfishly. Serve your team by playing aggressive defense [his father never did this] and passing the ball on offense [again, his father never did this].
*Humbly respond when the referee calls a foul on you. Do not complain or disagree in word or by facial expression [his father never did this].
*No inappropriate celebrating after you score; instead, recognize that others played a role [his father never did this].
*Thank the team manager for the way he served and recognize the humility and servanthood he is displaying each game. True greatness is sitting on the end of the bench.

There is nothing original or profound about this list. But helping my son apply it to his heart and life can make a profound difference. So after each game, I review the above list with my son. I go over the game with him and celebrate any and all expressions of humility and godly character. I tell him that this is more important to me than how many points he scored or whether his team won the game (although we do play to win!). Remember, fathers, what you honor and celebrate, your son will emulate. Therefore, we must celebrate godly character more than athletic ability or achievement.

This applies to watching a game as well. So as Chad and I watch the tournament, I will draw his attention to any evidence of humility or unselfishness I observe, as well as any expression of arrogance or selfishness. I will celebrate the former and ridicule the latter. I don’t just watch the game with Chad; I seize it as a teaching moment to equip him with discernment about true greatness in the eyes of God.

My passion for my son as he plays sports is that he would please and glorify God. I want him to grow in godliness, not simply athletic ability. You see, Chad will never play professional sports. His participation in sports is temporary and meant to be preparatory. Like his father, he will inevitably grow old and only be able to walk for recreation or play golf poorly. But, by the grace of God, sports can help him grow in godly character and prepare him for manhood. His participation in sports can equip him to fulfill his calling as a man to humbly and courageously serve and lead in the home, church and culture. But for that to happen, a father must teach his son to discern and adopt biblical priorities and practices while playing sports.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Parenting Your Child Through Sports

If you have followed the NBA playoffs this year, then you certainly have heard about the unordinary ordeal that took place in the Boston Celtics vs. Cleveland Cavaliers series. This past week Lebron James was fouled extra hard by Paul Pierce when driving to the basket. That wasn’t the big story though. The big story came when the mother of Lebron James walked on the court, defending her talented superstar of a son. As Mrs. James yelled at the ref in defense, Lebron approached her and cussed at her telling her to sit down. Fortunately, Lebron was held back by opposing superstar Kevin Garnett of the Celtics.

Sports have a way of bringing about interesting scenarios, with this being one of the most intriguing that I have yet to hear. Though Mrs. James was just supporting Lebron, it forces me to consider, “What is the role of the parent in sports?”

I believe the answer is fairly simple. Deuteronomy 6:6-9 says, “And these words which I commanded you today shall be in your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorpost of your house and on your gates.”
Oh, by the way, these same commands should be in your car rides to and from games. They should be demonstrated through the way you cheer at the games, the way you interact with officials and other fans. These commands deal directly to the time that your kids spend doing sports. Teach them in the midst of all this. Let sports be the greatest learning opportunity that your child has. Teach them to “Do Sports God’s Way.”

Should Lebron's mother defend her son? Absolutely, there's nothing wrong with that. However, the manner in which she did that was in volation of the rules, using crass language, and certainly not displaying herself in a Christlike way. What would you have done in her situation? Or better yet, what does the Word of God encourage us to do at such a time?

Brian Conklin
Omaha FCA Area Director

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

God's Design

"But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self control. Against such things there is no law." - Galatians 5:22-23

I love sports! I love it for many reasons but one of the reasons I really love sports is because of what it reveals to us about ourselves and about God. Having the opportunity to coach tennis has given me an even greater passion for sports as time after time opportunities arise to teach kids about how God desires us to compete and live life.

On our team this spring we have had two girls who are flat out angry when they play. I had an opportunity to sit down with one of the girls after practice and hear her hurting heart. She was so angry because she was not accomplishing what in her mind was her goal. She wanted every ball to go in and they were not...not even close. And why did she want every ball to go in? So that everyone could see that she had the ability to accomplish her goal.

Now there are a number of things that are sinful about this situation. The anger and selfish motivation to name a few. But what God lead me to teach this young athlete was about how He had created her. God had created her to be in relationship with Him. And when we are not living His way, we are not living the way we were designed to live. Anger and selfish motivation are not part of that design. I knew because I had been there before. Always having something to prove and becoming very angry when it wasn't proven. I have missed a lot of balls and lost a lot of points playing this game and the one thing I have finally learned through all of that is just how imperfect I am. That is why I need Jesus so much. Someone had to take the wrath of God for us breaking His law. For those of us who have said: "I am done living life my way and want to trust Jesus with my life and live it His way", we understand that Jesus took the wrath of God that we deserved. Not only that but He rose from the dead and declared victory over sin. Because of Him we can now live a life that is honoring to God through His spirit that indwells those who have trusted Him. That is also why I can have peace when I miss a ball and I can go after the next ball with everything I have for the glory of God because I now know that there is no condemnation for those of us who are in Christ Jesus (Rom. 8:1). We are free from sin and alive in Christ. And for that I am so thankful because I know there is no better place I can be.

Nate Lewis
FCA Area Representative
Western Nebraska

Monday, May 12, 2008

Prosperity


Bonnie Richardson ran. She threw. She jumped. And finally, she accepted the 1A team championship for Rochelle High School. She was the only athlete from her school to qualify for the state meet. It was the first time a single athlete had won the girls’ team title – by herself!

For the record, her marks in the field events were: high jump (5 feet, 5 inches), placed second in the long jump (18-7) and was third in the discus (121-0). The next day she won the 200 meters in 25.03 seconds and nearly pulled off a huge upset in the 100 before finishing second (12.19) to defending champion. She earned a total of 42 team points to edge team runner-up Chilton (36).

Bonnie Richardson couldn’t have been more prosperous in the Texas state track meet. However, real prosperity is more of a condition of our hearts, rather than attaining individual or team goals.

God does promise to bless us with food, clothing and shelter as we seek Him (Matthew 6). Rather than manipulating and seeking after selfish ambitions, stay faithful and humble. Allow God to decide when you should be exalted and praised.

GOSPEL FOCUS
You've seen repeatedly if you watch much religious television. The health-wealth-and-prosperity gospel advocated by so many televangelists is the ultimate example of fantasy faith. This false gospel appeals to the flesh, corrupting all the promises of Scripture and encouraging greed. It makes material blessing, not Jesus Christ, the object of the Christian's desires. Christ is no longer the focus of the message. Never forget that Christ died on a cross to save us from God’s wrath, not to provide us with our best life now! For the believer, the best life is yet to come.

Gordon Thiessen

Friday, May 9, 2008

A Father's Love

I came across this incredible video and story again this week. Team Hoyt is comprised of a father and his paraplegic son who compete in triathlons and ironman races together. The ironman race consists of a 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike, and a 26.2 mile marathon run. I don't know the spiritual condition of these two men, but as I watched this video, I realized there are several spiritual analogies to consider.



It is moving to watch this father's care and love for his son. In many ways it is like the love our heavenly Father has for his children. I was also struck by the definition of love in 1 John 3:16, "By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers". Team Hoyt is a great example of how we should serve and love our brothers and sisters in Christ.

Finally, it reminded me of Exodus 15:13, where Moses and the people of Israel sang to the Lord, "You have led in your steadfast love the people whom you have redeemed; you have guided them by your strength to your holy abode." As redeemed brothers and sisters in Christ, who still carry with us unredeemed fleshly bodies, we are all being led and guided by the the love and strength of the Almighty God. Jesus says in John 15:5, "I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing." As we run the race of life, the only way we can ever have hope of crossing the finish line is through the substitutionary atonement of Jesus Christ. 2 Corinthians 5:21 tell us that, "For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God." It is through repentance and faith in Jesus Christ and his finished work on the cross that we can be saved and have the hope of eternal life!

Josh Reynolds
Central-Northeast Nebraska FCA

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Unifying Power

Last week this country lost a pioneer in the coaching world. Coach Will Robinson died at the age of 96 after becoming the first ever black Coach at a Division 1 program. He broke the barriers and united the sports world with people of all races. Sports today have become a common language to so many people. There are teammates and coaches all over the world who don’t speak the same language but clearly communicate when it comes to practice time and game time.

The only other thing in this world that brings unity like sports does is the Gospel message. As stated in Romans 1:16, “I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile.”

Jews and Gentiles, both dead in their sin were saved by this common message. Those who distort and change the message cannot ever understand the unifying power of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. It is such a great thrill to be able to call another follower of Christ, “Brother,” “Sister.”

Brian Conklin
Omaha FCA Area Director

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Wisdom in Competition and Life

In learning what it looks like to compete for Christ, I have found that a total release of everything you have may look different in different situations. There is strategy to consider. In my last post, I talked about the fear that many athletes experience when it is game time. Many times they will tense up and not compete with the freedom from sin that comes from a relationship with Jesus. As a tennis guy, not long ago I experienced fear because I had not hit my second serve in competition in a long time. For those of you who are not familiar with tennis, most of the time you take a lot more risk in hitting a first serve with more precision and velocity. If you miss then you try to hit a more accurate second serve so that you give yourself a better chance to win the point. Eventually I prayed and asked God to forgive me for not giving Him everything I had in hitting my second serve. Then I began to think about what giving Him everything I had in hitting a second serve looked like. When I began to process this, I realized that it would be completely ridiculous for me to hit my second serve just like I did my first one. That is not wise and not giving God everything I had. There is strategy to consider within the context of the game. It would be wise for me to put more spin on the ball to create a more accurate serve. I would still swing my arm with everything I had for the glory of God however I would simply hit the ball in a different place which would create more spin and accuracy. I would still hit the ball without any fear of missing because God said many times in the Bible to NOT FEAR!

This is just like life. The strategy in life may change based on the circumstances God puts before you but those circumstances should in no way create fear because the God we serve promised in His word to never leave us, to strengthen us, to help us, and uphold us with His righteous right hand. God does not desire us to go at life with reckless abandon having no clue where we are going or what we are doing. He desires us to attack life without hesitation with His plan in mind...a plan that He has perfectly created for us and promised to us in Jeremiah 29:11.

Nate Lewis
Area Representative
Western Nebraska

Monday, May 5, 2008

Getting Your Eyes Off of Self



Sara Tucholsky of Western Oregon University uncorked her first home run in her college career with two runners on base in a playoff game against Central Washington University. While rounding the bases, she missed first base. As she started back to tag it, she collapsed with a knee injury. She was only able to crawl back to first but could do no more. She would been called out if her own teammates had helped her around the bases.

For the rest of the story plus a lesson on "Doings Sports God's Way" go to www.doingsportsgodsway.com.

Gordon Thiessen

Friday, April 25, 2008

Together for the Gospel

Last week I had the privilege of attending a conference called "Together for the Gospel" in Louisville, KY. Over 5500 pastors and laymen assembled together under the banner of the Gospel of Jesus Christ to hear preaching, worship through song, and fellowship with fellow brothers and sisters in Christ. Preachers such as John MacArthur, John Piper, CJ Mahaney, RC Sproul, and Al Mohler delivered Gospel-centered and Christ-exalting sermons.

Check out their website here where you can stream or download each of the messages from the conference.

Jude 1:3 reminds us to "contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints". Our faith is rooted in the Gospel of Jesus Christ, whereby a holy and just God can justify the wicked through the death and resurrection of His Son. There is no greater truth in all the universe than the gospel!

Josh Reynolds
Central-Northeast Nebraska FCA

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Confidence Anyone?

If you spend time with me it won’t take long to discover that the Cleveland Indians are a hot topic in my life. You can also draw the conclusion that it pains me deeply to watch the ace of the Tribe, CC Sabathia, struggle mightily to kick off this season. He still has all the tools to be the best pitcher in the majors, but right now he seems lost out on the mound. It comes down to one word: confidence.

Confidence either makes or breaks athletes. The world says that confidence comes from seeing results. What about the player who never sees results? Can they ever be confident?

As a former athlete I found myself on a roller coaster ride of emotions. If I struck out the first batter then I would have 10 strikeouts. If I hit my first three pointer then I would hit 5 threes. Early results would dictate how I played the rest of the game.

This was a very man centered attitude. I either trusted in myself or didn’t. It was all about me. The Bible is very contrary to this thought. Proverbs 3:26 says, “the Lord will be your confidence.” When the Lord is your source of confidence, then circumstances or results won’t drive your play. If the cross is your motivating factor and the finished work of Christ is your confidence, then you can compete freely. So where is your confidence? It’s not about you. It’s not even about results. It’s all about Christ.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Game Time!

"...As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you." - Joshua 1:5

It is amazing to watch the athletes I coach in practice begin to really understand what it is they are being taught. It is really cool when you see the ball come off their racquet with increased speed and accuracy that certainly was not there before.

Now remember, that was practice. Now we transition to the game. It is more amazing to see what an opponent on the otherside of the net and a score will do to these same athletes. All of a sudden every ball is "patty caked" into the middle of the court just to be sure they do not miss.

If anyone must have been afraid to "whiff" in scripture it must have been Joshua. Moses has just died and now God was appointing Joshua to lead the Isrealites to the promised land. It is apparent that Joshua must have been experiencing fear of messing this up because God told him three times in the first nine verses of the book of Joshua to be strong and courageous.

It is really cool to see Joshua understand God's command to lead His people. What is even better is seeing the wisdom Joshua had to believe that God was in control as long as He followed Him. As a christian athlete, God is always with us as He has been with all of His people for thousands of years. So let's freely glorify Him with our gifts and talents without hesitation that comes from the fear of circumstances such as an opponent and a score. Let us be solely concerned with giving Him everything we have for His glory...because he is worthy.

Nate Lewis
Area Representative
Western Nebraska

Monday, April 21, 2008

Don't Quit!!

Romans 5:3-4 "Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope."

I often have athletes come to me who are having a tough time adjusting to collegiate athletics and are thinking about quitting. They tell me that they aren't having fun anymore because of the level of competition, the lack of playing time, the difficulty of training and so on.

Now there are times when the Lord is moving us to another place in life and it makes sense to turn the page and leave the game behind. But I usually tell athletes that quitting because it's not fun anymore and the level of adversity has increased lacks wisdom. According to Romans 5:3-4, there are valuable lessons to be learned in the midst of adversity.

God's plan is good even if the road is tough. Quitting in the midst of adversity means that you miss out on the life-lessons that can only be found by persevering through that adversity. Sports, like life, is not always fun. It's about growing in likeness to Jesus Christ, and that often comes most powerfully and clearly through adversity.

In fact, Philippians 3:10 tells us that there is a special fellowship with Christ that is found in suffering. So don't quit in the midst of adversity (like a losing season, a difficult conditioning drill, injury or lost playing time). You may be missing out on intimacy with Christ and a valuable life-lesson if you do.

Chris Bubak FCA-Nebraska State Director

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Are You Officially Entered?

Romans 4:12 “there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to people by which we must be saved.”

It’s that time of year --- after battling the winter elements in Nebraska, the Lincoln half-marathon and marathon are just around the corner (May 4). A friend of mine has her sites on a repeat run at the Chicago marathon this year.

In the 2007 marathon, as she began the race, she noticed something was on the ground. It was a runner’s chip. The device each entered runner puts on their shoe to record times and progress throughout various check points of the race, and ultimately the finish line.

There would be no record of this person’s participation --- officially, that runner did not run the race. Even if they had set a World Record, it wouldn’t have counted. Can that be said of our life?

Are we running what appears to be a ‘good race’ by doing good things for others and obeying lots of rules, but when we arrive at the final checkpoint (finish line) --- heaven --- and haven’t put our faith in Jesus as our Savior, we’re disqualified because we never officially entered the race?

John 14:6 “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” Have you entered the race by trusting in Jesus?

Sondra Herold
Omaha-Metro FCA