Monday, March 30, 2009

Griffin leaves mark on NCAA

Even in defeat, Blake Griffin had few doubters that he is the best basketball player in college. After Oklahoma’s loss to North Carolina in the South Regional NCAA tournament, many fans and reporters wondered if they had seen the last of him. His sophomore season ended with a 23-point, 16 rebound game leading to speculation that he will likely turn pro next year after making his mark on the NCAA this year. When his coach was asked if his 6-foot-10 star player’s college career was over, Sooner coach Jeff Chapel said, “It probably is, but we’ll see.”

What’s true in sports, is also true spiritually. There are certain characteristics or fruit as described in the “fruits of the Spirit” that mark a person’s spiritual life (Galatians 5:22-23). Click here for this week's Doing Sports God's Way lesson on the "Marks of a Committed Christian."

Blake Griffin's involvement with FCA...
"I first started going to FCA when I was a freshman (in high school) at Oklahoma Christian School. I was actually one of the class officers as a freshman, and that’s really when I first started going. Throughout high school and throughout college I've gone. I haven’t gone as much since I’ve been here just because my schedule hasn’t really allowed it sometimes, but I’ve been a Christian my whole life, been in the church my whole life. I was saved when I was 6, and I go to Life Church now."

Gordon Thiessen

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Christ-Centered Passion in a Sports-Centered Culture

Let the madness begin! As conference tournaments come to an end we are seeing teams enter into the magical journey of the Big Dance. Basketball fans across the country are strategizing the best ways to see as many games as possible and are going to extreme lengths to make it happen. Every office in the country is itching to start their bracket pool. People are planning their “sick days” for opening weekend. To sum it up, passion is running rampant.

What a person is passionate about is a great test of the heart. With that in mind we all need to check where our passion lies. It is a fact that we all live in a very sports centered culture. If you are reading this blog then there is a good possibility that you are one of those crazies who will be watching game after game.

Let me take a moment to clarify. Passion is not bad. In fact, God is the one who created us to be passionate people. When it becomes sinful—idolatry—is when our passion for March Madness (or any other athletic venues) outweighs our passion for Christ. So enjoy athletics and be entertained. I know I am! But remember where your true source of joy comes from.

So, as March Madness comes storming in, where will your passion lie? Is the Gospel something that gets your blood pumping? We need to immerse ourselves in the truth of the Gospel and God’s Word so that passion just pours out of us at the thought of Christ. If not, maybe this March marks the time that we all need to prioritize what drives us in life.

Brian Conklin
Omaha FCA Area Director

Friday, March 6, 2009

Coach Spotlight with Mark Leonard

I recently sat down with Mark Leonard to ask him questions about his faith, family, and coaching. Mark is the head boy's basketball coach at Leigh High School in Nebraska and he and his wife, Deana, serve as the huddle coaches for the Leigh FCA huddle.

Describe how you felt called to coach?

When I was in college, I really didn’t know what I wanted to be only that I had a love for sports and I wanted to be involved with sports in some capacity. I tried several different majors in college such as Pre-Med and Accounting, but none of these areas seemed right for me. The Lord led me to try some education classes and I fell in love with the many positives that I could have in one’s life through education and with coaching. The coaching profession is difficult, but I know that by staying consistent with my philosophies, I am making a positive difference with the athletes and students I get to work with on a daily basis.

What is your favorite part about coaching sports?

My favorite part of coaching is when I see my players living up to their God-given potential both on and off the playing fields. I love to teach my players about the details that go along with each sport and help instill positive character traits that will benefit them throughout their lifetimes.

What is the biggest struggle you have as a coach?

The biggest struggle I have as a coach is keeping my priorities always in order during the sport seasons. Due to the pressures and the time commitments it takes to be a good coach, one’s priorities can easily get out of order. To overcome this struggle, I start each morning out by reading the Bible to get into the correct frame of mind for the day. My family understands how important coaching is to me and they are very supportive. As a family, we always try to eat our night meal together whenever possible. Sports are a major part of my life, but I always have to keep it into perspective that they are not the most important part of my life. My relationship with God and my family must always take priority.

How do you connect your faith in Jesus Christ with your job as a coach?

As a coach, my faith in Jesus Christ has allowed me to get through some difficult times during my coaching career where at the same time, it has always reminded me to stay humble with my coaching achievements. Through my faith in Jesus Christ, I am better able to deal with disappointments and to better put these setbacks into perspective. What Jesus Christ went through on the cross for us cannot even compare to any failures or defeats one experiences as a coach. As a Christian, I know that not all circumstances with coaching are going to be pleasant, but by keeping my faith and trust in Jesus Christ, I am able to keep a positive outlook on each season.

How do you balance family time with your coaching?

It is all about keeping your priorities in focus. My wife and I have three young children and we have made it a priority to raise our children in a Christian home. I know it is important that I make time for my family, which means coaching must be put on hold sometimes. It is important for me to be a positive role model to my family and that means making the time to be both a good husband and good father. When the balancing act of coaching starts to outweigh my relationship with God and my family, I know it is time to refocus and better prioritize what is most important to me.

Josh Reynolds
Area Director
Central-Northeast Nebraska FCA

Thursday, March 5, 2009


Long time NC State Head Women's Basketball Coach Kay Yow knows what it means to leave a legacy. Not only did she impact the NCAA record books and pour into countless lives throughout the years, she desired to max out all the way to the end, even through making the address at her own funeral through video. As you watch this video, think of what kind of legacy you are leaving. Is it for the world, you, or the Lord?

Robbie Trent
Lincoln-Southeast Nebraska FCA

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Sportsmanlike Conduct?

One of my favorite things to watch in sports is when there is an amazing display of sportsmanship. I believe God desires each athlete and coach to display sportsmanship every time they step out into their athletic competition. We are commanded in scripture in Romans 8:29, “To be conformed to the image of Christ” which really is the absolute model for sportsmanship in athletics.

However, I do believe there is great caution that we need to take in our view of sportsmanship. It is crucial to look deeper into the heart of the sportsmanlike act to see if it truly is pleasing to God. What does that mean? It all goes back to the motivation of the person engaging in the sportsmanlike act. Why are they doing it? For whose Glory is it being done?

Countless times in my life I have sinned because I tried to do things because I knew it would look good to those onlookers. From a bystanders point of view it may look selfless and loving. Inwardly I did it because I knew they would think that. So when does sportsmanship become pleasing to God? Simple, it is pleasing to God when the sportsmanlike act is completed for the Glory of God and not for anything else. 1 Corinthians 10:31 “Whether, then, you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.”

So next time you pat someone on the back or help them up when you knock them down, evaluate your reasoning for doing it. To God be the Glory!

Brian Conklin
Omaha FCA Director