Illustration from Sports Chaplain Mike Echstenkamper

It is my intention to write original material on Mondays, Tuesdays and Fridays. On Tuesday we will have an interesting sports story and Thursday to highlight a talk or study from another Sports Chaplain. So check out Thursdays and see what other chaplains are sharing with you!

This entry of from a seasoned Sports Chaplain, Mike Echstenkamper.  Mike is affiliated with Athletes in Action and serves the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.  He grew up in Ohio, attended Ohio University. Played baseball there, signed with New York Yankees as outfielder.  Married to Kim, and they have four children. If you would like his contact information go to either Chaplains Connect or the Sports Chaplains Network website.

He provided this illustration. If you are a Sports Chaplain, please send us illustrations of notes from your talks to share with others. Send them to

Don’t be like circus elephants: When elephants are just babies, the trainer puts a shackle around one of their legs, with a chain attached to a stake. These 300 to 400 lb babies will try and try to get away from that chain, but they can’t. The strange thing is that when the elephant is an adult, it can still be held by the very same shackle as the one used on the youngsters. How is that possible?

Elephants really do have great memories, but they aren’t that bright. The adult remembers how he was staked up as a baby and couldn’t get away from the stake. And at a certain point, as a baby, he became convinced that he could never get away. So now as an adult, he doesn’t even try. The elephant is not chained to the stake; he’s chained to the idea that he can never get away. That’s how a ten-pound stake can hold down a two-ton elephant.

Some of us have found ourselves tied to our past just like a circus elephant chained to a stake. This is one of the primary tools and schemes of the enemy to defeat Christians and to keep us from finishing strong. The enemy, Satan, will throw our past back at us and make us feel unworthy, undeserving, trapped, etc.

Jesus said He came to destroy the works of the devil. If you have truly turned to Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, He wipes them away. Read Psalm 103 to get a taste of what freedom feels like. Jesus does not “remind” us of our sins, He forgets them. When He was dying on the cross He said, “It is finished.” Your sins have been paid in full. And that is good news!! Jesus Christ is like “the jaws of life” that cuts through the chains that can hold us. And what He starts, He finishes. —

“Sin messes us up, but God can clean us up!!

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