Friday, February 27, 2009

FCA Endurance Competitor Spotlight

Lige Reed of Minden, NE recently sat down with me to answer some questions about his participation in the FCA Endurance Ministry. Lige is on the Central Nebraska FCA Leadership Team and is an active volunteer with the FCA ministry.

How and why did you get involved with endurance races and the FCA Endurance Ministry?

I really felt called by God to do a Triathlon. Not because he was going
to make me a champion but because I needed to stretch myself and do
something that I knew I would have to rely completely on him if I was going
to finish the race. I have never been a competitive swimmer, bicyclist, or
runner so doing any one of these things would have been a challenge but to
do all three in the same race was a huge challenge that only God could pull
me through. Also as Huddle coach it gave me more opportunities with the
students to talk about training, why I train, why I started competing and
then it grew into helping them to understand why they are competing and for
whose glory.

Team FCA Endurance was relatively new when I started racing and their big
outreach question is "Why do you race". I thought this was an awesome
opportunity to give myself some accountability while I competed and trained,
that my focus would have to be completely on Christ. It was also an
opportunity to learn about the endurance world from believers who were also
competing for Christ. FCA in general is a huge part of my life with working
with students on a weekly basis to working with or at some of the state
events. Sports are a huge platform in our world today and what FCA is doing
by working with and teaching athletes and coaches is something that needs to
be done and something I wanted to stand behind, support, and make more
awareness of.

Why do you compete?

There are many reasons why I have kept on competing. After my first event
I fell in love with the triathlon world. I have played other sports
throughout my life, all team sports. But I have never seen such
encouragement and building up of people as I have seen while competing in a
triathlon, from the overall winner to the person that finishes last everyone
supports each other. Being in a small town most of my training time is just
me and God. To go out for a long ride or run is a great time to lose the
world around you and just spend time with God. It has also been a way for me
to stay healthy for my family, and be a good example for my family to lead a
healthier lifestyle. My oldest daughter at 5yrs old was able to run in her
first kids fun run last year wearing and representing Christ with her FCA
Endurance gear. One of the biggest motivators is the opportunity to run
alongside people who don't know Jesus. You can be an encouragement to them
and build them up during a hard time in the race, and you also basically
have a captive audience to start a discussion about Christ.

How do you discipline yourself to focus on the Lord while competing?

During competition and training I will recite to myself parts of the
Competitors Creed, and will try and memorize verses to get me through the
hard times. During easy training times or times during races that I am
feeling pretty good I will take those opportunities to be in prayer to God
and in Praise of God. The First verse I memorized for competing was Psalm
73:26 My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart
and My portion forever.

What races have you competed in and what are your plans for this next year?

This last year I was able to compete in the Papillion Mayor's Triathlon,
and the Dallas Running Club's 1/2 Marathon. This next year I am hoping to
add a few more races into the year that I have not done before and are a
little longer in distance.

Josh Reynolds
Central-Northeast Nebraska FCA

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Is It In You?

This quote has become synonymous with the thirst quencher, Gatorade. It's unbelievable how a sports drink has infiltrated and dominated the sports world. Since the Gatorade corporation has changed their marketing approach to "G," they have put undercover operatives on campuses around the country to pass out all kinds of free "G" gear and to celebrate "G" moments, just to spread the "G" name to all that might see or hear.

This got me thinking. "G" has become extremely important to those individuals. If they are going to such great lengths to tell people about something that temporarily replenishes, why don't we do the same for God and His Gospel, which eternally replenishes. Paul informs the church at Corinth that the Gospel has become the most important thing in his entire life.

"For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures," 1 Corinthians 15:3-4

The only way we can follow Paul's example is to first make sure the Gospel is in us. We do this by acknowledging the fact that we are a sinner, which means we say, do, and think things that don't please God, who is holy and perfect. Then, we must realize that because of our sins, there is a debt that must be paid to God. We often try to repay this on our own, but the truth is that only One can fully pay off this debt. Jesus Christ, God's one and only perfect Son, died on the cross "according to the Scriptures" on our behalf. On the third day, Christ rose from the dead and overcame the grips of sin. He Himself says in Revelation 3:4, "Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me." Once we confess with our mouth that Jesus is the only source of refreshment we need and believe in our heart that God raised Him from the dead, He will be in us forever.

Is He In You?

Robbie Trent
Lincoln-Southeast Nebraska FCA

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Hope in Defeat

Tonight I just watched one of the most heartbreaking losses I have ever seen. Nebraska was playing in their home arena against Big 12 foe Texas A&M. Coming into this game both teams were still considered infamous bubble teams for the NCAA Tournament.

Throughout the night Nebraska controlled the tempo and seemingly had a clutch win at their fingertips. As time went on Texas A&M slowly chipped away at the Nebraska lead. By the last minute everyone in the building knew it would come down to the last possession. With 15 seconds to go, an A&M player drove the lane and missed an open layup which was tipped out by Ade Dagunduro to the other end of the court. A Nebraska player rushed down with great effort in an attempt to save the ball, but was unsuccessful as A&M was awarded the ball with about 5 seconds to play. A&M ended up with an in bounds play at mid court with about two seconds left on the clock and managed to execute a three point shot with a hand in the face to perfection.

For A&M it was a narrow escape. For Nebraska it was a complete heartbreaker. As a Christian athlete, how do you handle this feeling of defeat? To answer this question, I believe that you have to go back to God’s goal. Romans 8:29 makes it clear that God’s goal is “to be conformed to the image of Christ.” If this goal is understood by the Christian athlete, then there is a sense of wonderful hope. Though disappointment is expected and okay, the wonderful hope that we have in Christ reminds us that God wants to “Conform us to His image” no matter if we win or lose. What does that look like? Since a believer is promised fruit of the Spirit when Christ indwells them, then it should be expected that love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self control (Galatians 5) will be evident in the locker room, at home, in practice the next days and all else that the Christian athlete might be doing.

Brian Conklin
Omaha FCA Director

Friday, February 13, 2009

Always Be Prepared

"But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always Be Prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect." 1 Peter 3:15

As athletes, we are sometimes asked to give an account of a performance, team, or situation. We must realize Peter's words are in the command form. We are first called to acknowledge our need for Christ and to set Him at the core of our being to reign over our lives, because of the ultimate sacrifice He made on the cross to pay the debt we owe to God for our sins. Then, we are charged to take each and every one of those opportunities and maximize it for the "hope that we have" in the death and resurrection of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Opportunities take many different forms. It's not only when a microphone is stuck in your face. It's also an opportunity anytime when your response is asked of a family member, friend, teammate, or coach. This isn't an automatic response. That's where the, "Always be prepared," comes in. We must train ourselves in preparation for these moments before they even happen. This may be what seems like a daunting task. So, here's an example of how one athlete, Husker Basketball player Ade Dagunduro, had trained himself to point to Christ and was able to "give the reason for the hope that he had."

"Ade Dagunduro pointed his index finger into the air at the Bob Devaney Sports Center, and a swarm of Cornhusker fans surrounded him at midcourt after Nebraska's 58-55 win against NO. 16 Texas on Saturday.

'That was big.' the senior said of the moment. 'I said a little prayer. I said,'No matter what happens. I'm going to give you the glory.' talking to my heavenly father. And that's what I did, give him all the glory." -Kris Knowlton, Daily Nebraskan

(To see the interview, click here. Scroll through the sports highlights and then click on "Dagunduro Too Big For Texas")

Robbie Trent
Lincoln-Southeast Nebraska

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

What Can Satisfy the Soul?

Anyone with a computer or TV couldn’t help but see the recent photograph of superstar swimmer Michael Phelps filling his lungs from a bong of marijuana. It wasn't that long ago that superstar quarterback Tom Brady stated that he was searching for something more than success. Both men search for something that can only be found in Christ. Here is a lesson that answers the question, "What can satisfy the soul?"

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

A Slave to Righteousness

On a day that featured baseball’s great slugger Alex Rodriguez making an apology for his use of steroids, I was struck with the thought, “What brings these guys to use performance enhancers?”

Rodriguez was quoted in an interview with ESPN saying, “"Back then it was a different culture. It was very loose. I was young. I was stupid. I was naive, and I wanted to prove to everyone that, you know, I was worth, you know — and being one of the greatest players of all time."

The word that he used that stuck out to me the most was the word “Culture.” Sports have indeed created its own culture. The sports culture is completely driven by success. Be it statistical or monetary success, players are willing to go to whatever extent it takes to achieve it. It really makes one wonder how things got like this?

After reading Romans 6:15-23, it began making a whole lot of sense to me. Verse 19 says, “I am speaking in human terms because of the weakness of your flesh. For just as you presented your members as slaves to impurity and to lawlessness, resulting in further lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves to righteousness, resulting in sanctification.”

Whenever we make anything in life a god rather than God Himself, we expose ourselves to a very slippery slope of sin. In A-Rod’s case he made success a god and turning to drugs and cheating was just part of that slippery slope. Our only hope is Jesus Christ. We must allow His righteousness to blanket us so that we become slaves to Him. When we allow that, we invite the wonderful process of sanctification into our lives. The reward: salvation and eternal hope!

Brian Conklin
Omaha FCA Director

Monday, February 9, 2009

Western Nebraska Husker Tour

Recently, Husker Football players Will Henry, Prince Amukamara, Marcus Mendoza, and Roy Helu Jr. made a tour of Western Nebraska as part of FCA's Husker Tour 2009. These guys went to Sidney, Scottsbluff, and Bayard talking about their relationship with Jesus Christ and how their faith is lived out on the field. The video posted here is of Nebraska Wide Receiver Will Henry sharing his testimony in Sidney. Nebraska Football Chaplain Matt Penland wraps things up by sharing the Gospel. To see every testimony in every location of the Husker Tour click here.

Nate Lewis
Area Representative
Western Nebraska

Friday, February 6, 2009

True Satisfaction of the Soul

CJ Mahaney at Sovereign Grace Ministries has a great blog post on US Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps and the recent picture of him smoking marijuana.

Josh Reynolds
Central-Northeast Nebraska FCA

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Doing Sports God's Way: The Essential

For centuries, athletes and coaches have been trained with the understanding that hard work is what produces results. For many, results are determined by who does the extra rep, runs the extra line, or watches the extra hour of film. Most often, I do agree with this idea. Colossians 3:23 says, “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart as working for the Lord and not for men.” This verse does make it very clear that God desires great effort in our approach to athletics. However we must be very careful to understand that “Doing Sports God’s Way”, isn’t for the purpose of getting worldly results. In fact, “Doing Sports God’s Way,” isn’t dependant upon our hard work or abilities at all.

“Doing Sports God’s Way” is God’s work. On our own we are helpless. We are in direct rebellion against God because of our sinful nature and unable to possibly compete or coach in any manner that pleases God. It is only when Christ, in His mercy and grace, saves us from the darkness of sin that we can do anything that pleases Him.

So the next time that you attempt to “Do Sports God’s Way”, first please take the time to evaluate if you have put your trust in Him to empower you to honor Him through sports. The Gospel must be of first importance.

Brian Conklin
Omaha FCA Director

Monday, February 2, 2009

Faith, Trust, Belief

It has been very interesting to observe two different basketball games over the past few weeks and see the same lesson in each game.

The first game was a high school game and the parable of sports came alive when I watched the drastic difference in the level of trust between the two different teams. Keep in mind how trust and faith are synonymous to one another. Team A was extremely patient. They worked the offense and passed the ball until they found the best shot and in their wisdom, they took it. Team B did not work their offense at all. Each time someone got the ball, they immediately looked to score. They might be triple-teamed in the post and they would still look to do things their own way instead of trusting their offense and their coach who designed the offense. Compared to Team A, Team B looked looked like chaos.

The second game was a college game which was higher paced and had a higher level of stress at the end of the game with the home team down by 3. The home team did a great job of getting back into the game and had the crowd cheering loudly. Unfortunately, each of the players went back to their bad habits of taking things into their own hands instead of trusting in the offense, their teammates and even their coach! Yes, one of the players was even arguing with the coach on which inbounds play they should run. The game ended in a disaster with the road team missing a free throw and his team still getting the rebound. Yet another chaotic situation.

I was reminded as I watched these games of how this is exactly like our relationship with Jesus. As ridiculous as it sounds, we sometimes live our lives arguing with the coach of all coaches about which play we should run in life, not trusting His perfect plan for us. Our life ends up in chaos because we thought we knew more about our life than God did. Jesus had this to say about our faith when a terrible storm came up while He was asleep on a boat with his disciples: "He replied, "You of little faith, why are you so afraid?" Then he got up and rebuked the winds and the waves, and it was completely calm." Why is it that in our pride we think we have life all figured out when we did nothing to create ourselves, the world, or anything in the world? All God asks of us is to simply trust Him. And why wouldn't we? Even the fiercest of storms obey Him.

Nate Lewis
FCA Area Representative
Western Nebraska