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


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 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 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