Category Archives: Blog

Partners in Ministry

520c165d58ed1_preview-620Here in the USA schools are starting after the summer vacation and fall sports are gearing up as well. Soccer (football), American football, volleyball, golf, tennis, and even some baseball is played in the months of August through November. This time of year is always exciting because it’s full of anticipation and hope for success.

For sports chaplains and character coaches, this season of the year also presents some unique opportunities for effective ministry. Below is a brief, certainly not exhaustive, list of opportunities and ideas for your ministry with teams or individuals in this new season.

Prior to the season’s beginning, visit practices. Obtain a roster and memorize names, uniform numbers, and other details that seem helpful.

At preseason practices, speak with the coaching staff, support staff, and players as you can. Build relationships, they are central to everything we do.

Look for opportunities to assist the coaching staff in any way possible. Serve, serve, serve, and serve some more.

If you are able, attend team meetings and observe the team’s culture, their interaction, the tone of the coaching staff, their expectations, their goals, etc…

Look ahead at the schedule to see where ministry opportunities may be for yourself and for others.

Speak with the head coach about the possibilities of team chapels, Bible studies, team dinners, a study for the coaches, or other opportunities for ministry. Plan and execute them well.

Be sure, if you are serving in a university, to meet with the NCAA compliance officer and make him/her your friend. This person makes a better ally than an enemy. Build a relationship of trust with him or her and it will make your service easier and you won’t have to look over your shoulder constantly worrying about violating a rule.

Consider writing a journal of all your interactions with the team. It will sometimes feel rather mundane, but when a whole season’s story is told, it can be quite insightful for yourself and whoever else you allow to read it. I often do this and give it to the head coach after the season so he can see the season from my perspective.

Pray, seek favor, pray, build relationships, pray, memorize names, pray, watch your attitude, pray, serve selflessly, pray, and love extravagantly.

Have a wonderful season. God bless, Psalm 90:12-17

Submitted By Roger Lipe, Sport Chaplain / Character Coach / Sport Mentor

Southern Illinois FCA

 

Redeemed Sports – PGA Golfer Disqualifies Himself

Golf ClubsWhat makes this story especially interesting is that Cameron Tringale asked to be DQ’d 6 days after the PGA, and, the move cost him $53,000!

Put yourself in his shoes.  It is the final round of the year’s final major – the PGA Championship.  You are not in contention to win but you want to finish well.  You are on the 11th hole and a little frustrated at not making par.  You go to tap in your bogey putt.  It is only 3 inches.  As you move toward the ball, your not thinking.  You just move to tap it and go right over the top of the ball.  You move again, reflexively, and tap it in.  On to the 12th hole, where you grind out the first of five pars before birding the 18th for a final round 69.  You tie for 33rd and earn $53,000. Not bad but you had hoped for more.  You were hitting the ball so well all week.  The thought even came to your mind that maybe this was your week to win.  Just couldn’t get the putts to fall.

Later that day, as you reflect on the round, something starts gnawing at you.  Did you actually make a stroke and whiff that putt on 11?  You try to remember but it happened so fast.  Because you were acting on reflex, you can’t really remember.  You dismiss it, “No, if I would have whiffed it outright I would remember that.

The Power Of God

Wagon WheelAll of us want to experience the power of God.

Several years ago, I met a church movement leader in Vietnam who reiterated this truth.  He lead an underground church movement there since the war ended in 1975.  He had suffered for his faith, spending much of his life after 1975 in prison.  When I met him, God had used him to raise up thousands of house churches and hundreds of thousands of Vietnam believers.

At dinner during that trip, this great leader opened up about his longing.  “I just want to experience God in my life,” he said as we talked about his journey.

That statement struck a chord in me. Haven’t ever forgotten it.

When I look around, it seems that what that leader said is something we all want. Many people understand this longing. Some prey on it for their own gain while others try to genuinely facilitate the fulfillment.

How do we actually experience God’s power in our life?

Paul gives us a great key in Romans 1:16. There he makes a bold claim by saying the gospel “is the power of God to bring salvation to everyone who believes.”

The power of God = the gospel

Before you stop reading or yawn thinking you know that verse, let’s look very closely at what it says and doesn’t say.

He says the gospel is the power of God. Not the gospel is a part of the power of God. In saying that, Paul is telling us if we want to experience the power we need to go no further than the gospel.

Now some of you may have learned this verse like I did in the context of evangelism. If you did you are thinking, “Sure, the power of God is for saving a unbeliever. That is not for me. I am already a believer.”

Notice the verse. Paul says “to everyone who believes.” This is present tense in the English and the Greek. It is ongoing. Paul isn’t saying the gospel is the power of God to everyone who believed, past tense. Paul is not just talking about unbelievers. He is talking about unbelievers and believers.

We experience the power of God in our lives as we presently believe in the gospel.

This is an amazing statement. It shows us how to experience the power of God right now, right at this moment, in our lives. It shows us how to experience the power of God not only just now but throughout our lives.

Tim Keller reiterates this idea when he says, “The gospel is not the ABCs of Christianity, it is the A-Z of Christianity. The gospel is not the first “step” in a “stairway” of truths, rather, it is more like the “hub” in a “wheel” of truth. The gospel is not just the minimum required doctrine necessary to enter the kingdom, but the way we make all progress in the kingdom.”

If you meditate on this idea of a hub and a wheel, one of things that becomes clear is that the hub is where the power of the rider gets transferred to the wheel, which then moves the bicycle. For God, the hub through which his power gets transferred into our lives is THE GOSPEL!

But what does this power produce in us? Paul says, “to bring salvation.” Not just salvation in the past but salvation in the present. Salvation in all the ways you and I need it today.

We experience the power of God for that salvation by believing THE GOSPEL!

So my friend, you who long to experience the power of God, look no further than THE GOSPEL! It is the power of God to everyone who believes.

Redeemed Sports – Honesty Moves Coach To Return State Trophy

RunningImagine this scenario.  Your team wins a state title, something you have been striving for all year.  With the victory comes great celebration, joy, satisfaction, honor.  However, something is wrong.  Later, in reviewing the results, you realize there was a error in the calculations.  It wasn’t your error but the error of those responsible to tally the results.  Yet, the mistake means you actually finished third not first.

What would you do?

This is not so fictional fantasy but an actually event for North Attleboro High School and their track coach, Derek Herber.  To see how the coach responded and why, take a minute and watch the following video.

To find out more of the story, go here

The line that stood out to me from the video – “Ultimately, we need to make sure we maintain the integrity of the sport and North Attleton Athletics.

God at Work at Joe Gibbs Racing

SOGWe like to say at The Sports Outreach Group that we are one ministry with two passions.  Our passion at CSO is to work with local churches to help them utilize the tool of sports to reach and redeem people and sports.  Churches that do this have what we call Gospel-centered Sports Ministries.

At The Sports Outreach Group, our other passion is sports chaplaincy.  The piece of the Sports Outreach Group that leads us in that passion is the Sports Chaplain Network (SCN), headed by Ken Cross.

In the following video, Bob Dyar, President of The Sports Outreach Group and Lead Chaplain at Joe Gibbs Racing, outlines the  chaplain ministry at Joe Gibbs Racing.  In addition, several of the employees of Joe Gibbs Racing talk about the impact of this ministry in their lives.

This story is another example of the incredible tool of sports – when they are placed in the hand of God.  He is using the sport of racing to connect with men and women at Joe Gibbs Racing in a moving way.  To read more about this movement, click here.

Let me ask you – What might it look like for you to place your sports into God’s hands?  How might he use your in and through those sports to reach and redeem people?  How might he use those sports to reveal your own heart and deepen your walk with him?

John Piper Gets a Yellow Card!

John Piper“Sports don’t build character. They reveal it.” Coach John Wooden

We all need this revelation. We have blind spots. We deny who we really are. Even the likes of great men like John Piper need this revelation.

Don’t get me wrong. John Piper is one of my heroes. I cannot understate the impact of his book,
Desiring God
, on my life. There, I found the passions of my heart affirmed and directed toward their ultimate satisfaction – God. God used this affirmation and direction to help shape much of who I am today. Time and time again I go back to the premise of the book – God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in him. In addition to Desiring God, I have thoroughly enjoyed other books of his, including Seeing and Savoring Jesus Christ, Don’t Waste Your Life, The Pleasures of God, and The Pleasures of God.

Yet, as I said, even the likes of great men like John Piper need this revelation of our hearts. Sports provide such a The Pleasures of God to bring forth that revelation. I read recently about this process as Piper’s son, Barnabas Piper, describes it in this The Pleasures of Godby Jonathan Merritt:

RNS: What is one thing people would be shocked to learn about the Piper household?

BP: Depends on who you ask. Those who are huge fans might be surprised to know that our family has a lot of tensions and quirks. We have dysfunction and conflict. We don’t always get along very well. It’s not the idyllic repository of peace and knowledge they might have painted a picture of in their heads.

Those who see him as a heavy-handed fire breather would be surprised to know that he loves movies like “The Pleasures of God” and is fiercely competitive. He even got a yellow card for berating referee at one of my brothers’ soccer games one time.

(See more at: http://jonathanmerritt.religionnews.com/2014/07/01/john-pipers-son-discusses-dysfunction-conflict-upbringing/#sthash.Hlfiuvnm.dpuf)

In bringing this up, I am not putting John down or am I surprised by this revelation. We are all broken in our approach to sports. All I have to do to be reminded of the brokenness is to look in the mirror of my own sports experiences. Our sports are broken because we, as broken people, are involved in them. Even people like John Piper.

I bring this up in order to provoke all of us to go further with the revelation of this brokenness that sports provide. If I had the opportunity, hopefully I would ask John Piper some questions to further dig into the receipt of that yellow card like the following (that is if I repented of my own worship of John and pursuit of his approval so I could move in love for him and desire to glorify God!!!!!) :

1) Why were you The Pleasures of God?

2) What goal of yours was the referee blocking by his behavior that stirred your anger? (Anger is usually provoked by a blocked goal, according to psychologist Larry Crabb.)

3) What emotions might you be feeling that lie underneath the anger? (Anger is always a secondary emotion. I know. The Pleasures of God.)

4) How does your berating the referee bring glory to God?

5) If not about glorifying God, whose glory was your interaction with the ref about?

6) What might this interaction reveal about your heart that needs repentance?

These are the kinds of questions I ask myself when I get angry in my sports – whether participating, coaching or watching. They usually lead me to the place that I see how self-centered my sports were at that moment. They were about me – my glory, my way of satisfying my desires – rather than about God – his glory and his ways of satisfying my desires. This revelation from such a laboratory enables me to repent of that pursuit and move toward God and his glory, which energizes my pursuit of sports and allows me to glorify God as I am satisfied in him. This beautiful gospel centered process is found in the silliness of our sports when we use it as such a laboratory.

So the next time you find yourself wrenched up – both good and bad – in the midst of an athletic endeavor, look deeper. After all, sports don’t build character. They reveal it.

Submitted by Ken Cross

A Few Thoughts About The Gospel

gospel
Here are a couple of thoughts about the Gospel that I have found very helpful:
“The gospel is not a set of instructions.  It is an announcement.” Tim Keller?

“The gospel is not just a set of propositional truths. It is first and foremost a story, THE STORY.”

“The overall drama of Scripture forms a single plot whose main twists and turns nonetheless converge remarkably on a main theme.” N.T. Wright

“We usually read the Bible as a series of disconnected stories each with a moral for how we should live our lives. It is not. Rather, it comprises a single story…” Tim Keller

“We will never begin to understand our lives and ministries or what this so-called gospel is that Christianity speaks of until we understand the story in which we have found ourselves.” John Eldredge

“[The Gospel] is a world of magic and mystery, of deep darkness and flickering starlight…This is the fairy tale of the Gospel with of course one crucial different from all other fairy tales, which is that the claim made for it is that is it true, that it not only happened once upon a time but has kept happening ever since and is happening still.” Frederick Buechner

How about you? What have been some good thoughts you have for the Gospel

Submitted By Ken Cross, Executive Director, Sports Chaplains Network

Contentment

whouwith_logo_topleft“Contentment is not getting what you want, it is wanting what you’ve got.” -David Ring

Why do we struggle so much with thinking the grass is greener on the other side? The funny thing is, someone on the other side is looking at us and thinks our lawn is pretty green. Why not just be content with where you are and with where God has placed you?

The world has a strange way of measuring our value. But to those who have sought after Christ, and found Him, they are richer than greenest yard in the world!

What does God’s Word say?:

“I know how to live when I am poor, and I know how to live when I have plenty. I have learned the secret of being happy at any time in everything that happens, when I have enough to eat and when I go hungry, when I have more than I need and when I do not have enough. I can do all things through Christ, because he gives me strength.” Philippians 4: 12-13

We are like children on Christmas who open present after present until there are none left and then say, “I want to open more presents”, “I didn’t get what he got” or “Is this it?”

God has given us more than we realize. Unfortunately, we compare ourselves to the world around us and there is always someone with more than we have or some new “toy” we think we got to have.

Instead of looking for greener grass, why not go to the One who made the grass green. And besides, no matter which side you are on, the grass still has to be mowed! Just a thought!

We are excited to announce our new blog site Shaping Claypots:shapingclaypots.com You will find some of our previous and current weekly devotionals and we will also have thoughts for coaches, athletes and men. Check this site out and click on the links at top of page to: “Like” us on Facebook, “Follow” us on Twitter and Subscribe to this new blog!

WhoUWith? Ministries

For more about WhoUWith? check out our website.

Website: http://www.whouwith.com/

Submitted By Ken Cross Executive Director, Sports Chaplains Network

 

Questions That Move Us

questionsTo Partners in Ministry, From Roger Lipe Sport Chaplain/Character Coach/ Sport Mentor

What moves your soul? What touches you deeply enough to make an impact that lasts for a while? What are the situations, stimuli, environments, people, and activities that restore your heart’s passion? Let’s consider a list of items that move people, some may be on your list. We’ll then consider what to do with your list.

  • Music (What genre of music moves your heart?)
  • Sports camps (I’ll be leading the fifth FCA camp of June this next week.)
  • The outdoors (Hiking, camping, fishing, boating, etc…)
  • Participating in sport (Football, rugby, golf, tennis, running, swimming, etc…)
  • Being in sports environments (A ballpark, a stadium, a practice facility, a gym, a pool, a rugby pitch, a cricket ground…)
  • Literature (Books, periodicals, blogs, etc…)
  • Sleep (Afternoon naps, long nights of deep sleep, power naps in the office…)
  • Conversation with friends, colleagues, or mentors.
  • Groups of people (church groups, teams, youth groups, etc…)
  • Solitude (Your favorite place for time alone.)
  • Travel (To places that restore your soul.)
  • Crowds (The energy from big crowds excite some people.)
  • Something else…

What is on your list? Look it over closely and then make it a priority to invest time in the items on your list. Our work of serving people in sport is often stressful and overly busy. We often find our schedules squeezed tightly by many important and urgent activities. We super-committed servants are occasionally on the edge of burnout and frustration leaving our spouses and children with the leftovers of our energy and emotional investments. We must do the things that restore our souls and help us to be at our best, for everyone we love and serve. Set aside the time, engage in this soul restoring stuff, and lean into it wholeheartedly.

One whose soul is restored will find greater energy, more creativity, more empathy for others, and a more relaxed attitude toward everything he encounters. Please feel free to share the items on your list with me. I’d love to hear about all those things and people that restore your soul to its most transformational state. Thanks.
God bless,
www.sifca.org
http://sportchaplainsportmentor.blogspot.com/
I lead, encourage, and inspire sportspeople as they pursue the fulfillment of God’s purposes for their lives. I believe lives are transformed as people experience the Lord Jesus’ presence and pleasure in Sport.

Submitted By Ken Cross Executive Director, Sports Chaplains Network

 

 

 

Mike Matheny’s Letter to Parents

Matt MathenyMike Matheny is the current manager of the St. Louis Cardinals.  Like most managers, he is a former player.  In between his playing days and his coaching career though he coached Little League.  Yes, you read that right.  He was a bit overqualified but he had a son that played.  He was reluctant to coach the team but eventually relented.  Once he became the coach, he wrote this letter to parents.  As you can see, it’s very serious but he addresses what the role of a parent should be during games.  Below are some excerpts (the words in bold are my emphasis):

I always said that the only team that I would coach would be a team of orphans, and now here we are. The reason for me saying this is that I have found the biggest problem with youth sports has been the parents. I think that it is best to nip this in the bud right off the bat. I think the concept that I am asking all of you to grab is that this experience is ALL about the boys. If there is anything about it that includes you, we need to make a change of plans. My main goals are as follows:

(1) to teach these young men how to play the game of baseball the right way,

(2) to be a positive impact on them as young men, and

(3) do all of this with class.

We may not win every game, but we will be the classiest coaches, players, and parents in every game we play. The boys are going to play with a respect for their teammates, opposition, and the umpires no matter what.

With that being said, I need to let you know where I stand. I have no hidden agenda. I have no ulterior motive other than what I said about my goals. I also need all of you to know that my priorities in life will most likely be a part of how I coach, and the expectations I have for the boys. My Christian faith is the guide for my life and I have never been one for forcing my faith down someone’s throat, but I also believe it to be cowardly, and hypocritical to shy away from what I believe. You as parents need to know for yourselves and for your boys, that when the opportunity presents itself, I will be honest with what I believe. That may make some people uncomfortable, but I did that as a player, and I hope to continue it in any endeavor that I get into. I am just trying to get as many potential issues out in the open from the beginning. I believe that the biggest role of the parent is to be a silent source of encouragement. I think if you ask most boys what they would want their parents to do during the game; they would say “NOTHING”. Once again, this is ALL about the boys. I believe that a little league parent feels that they must participate with loud cheering and “Come on, let’s go, you can do it”, which just adds more pressure to the kids. I will be putting plenty of pressure on these boys to play the game the right way with class, and respect, and they will put too much pressure on themselves and each other already. You as parents need to be the silent, constant, source of support.

Let the record stand right now that we will not have good umpiring. This is a fact, and the sooner we all understand that, the better off we will be. We will have balls that bounce in the dirt that will be called strikes, and we will have balls over our heads that will be called strikes. Likewise, the opposite will happen with the strike zone while we are pitching. The boys will not be allowed at any time to show any emotion against the umpire. They will not shake their head, or pout, or say anything to the umpire. This is my job, and I will do it well.

I think this is just a great letter. Honest. Forthright. A compelling vision and a call to participate.

Mike’s efforts are a great example of a Christian who is not content to leave the brokenness he sees in sports alone. He wants to do something about it. He wants to redeem that sport. I applaud his vision and courage. May his tribe increase.

Submitted By Ken Cross Executive Director, Sports Chaplains Network