Thursday, September 25, 2008

2008 Chaplain’s Roundtable Ministry

The Chaplain’s Roundtable Ministry desires to encourage, train and provide networking opportunities for sports chaplains and sports ministry leaders. This is accomplished through one day annual conferences featuring workshops, panel discussions, resource materials and of course, prayer.
Register for the Roundtable(s) of your choice at

· Tuesday October 15th in Charlotte, North Carolina

Joe Gibbs Racing Headquarters

Joe Gibbs Racing will be the site of the 2008 Charlotte Chaplain’s Roundtable. It all gets underway with a time of prayer at 8:30am for those early risers and then we officially kick off the day at 9am with a challenge from God’s Word with Bob Dyar, Joe Gibbs Racing Chaplain. Who knows what other dignitary by stop by for a visit in Charlotte! Workshops will be offered throughout the day. Topics and speakers for all cities are as follows:
* Ministry of Encouragement—Staying in the Game Tom Rust-Face 2 Face Ministries will lead this workshop in Charlotte, Indy and Lansing
* Resources in Sports Ministry Les Burleson of the Carolina Hurricanes will lead in Charlotte…Roger Lipe of FCA will lead in Lansing
* Empowering You to Deal with Crisis in Sports Ministry Bob Hills-Chaplain - Indy Racing League will lead this workshop in Charlotte, Indy and Lansing
* Empowering Your Ministry to Go Beyond the Playing Field Bob Dyar - Joe Gibbs Racing in Charlotte, Kathy Malone of WNBA’s Indiana Fever in Indy and Joe Lane of the Muskegon Thunder in Lansing
*Striking A Balance—Take Care of Yourself, Your Family & Your Ministry Ron Peagram - Executive Director of Samaritan’s Feet in Charlotte and Indy and Mike Hurn - Chaplain with the Arena Football League’s Chicago Rush in Lansing.

· Tuesday, November 11th in Indianapolis, Indiana

Indianapolis Motor Speedway

In Indianapolis, we meet at the famed Indianapolis Motor Speedway for the Roundtable event on Tuesday, November 11th. Each year this Roundtable grows in number and impact. David Martin of On-Track Ministries will be our keynote speaker. If you would like to arrive the evening before, you have the option of staying at the Brickyard Crossing Motel at the track for the unbelievable price of just 50$ per night! Just mention that you will be attending the Chaplain’s Roundtable Conference to receive this rate.
Just dial 317-241-2500 for the Brickyard Crossing Inn. They also serve breakfast on the morning of the Indianapolis Roundtable.
· Tuesday, December 2nd in Lansing, Michigan

South Church-Lansing, Michigan

Our keynote speaker in Lansing will be Robby Richardson…son of former New York Yankee great, Bobby Richardson. We’ll also hear from Larry Patton of Hurdling Handicaps Ministry, Joe Lane from the Muskegon Thunder and Mike Hurn, chaplain with the Arena Football League’s Chicago Rush. Comfortable and convenient overnight accommodations are also available for this conference. Please contact Marilyn Oldham at South Church for information. You can reach her via email at or by calling 517-322-2000.
If you have not registered…please do so today. There is no cost to attend. You’ll receive helpful resources, be challenged, encouraged and equipped. Each day provides wonderful fellowship and networking opportunities. The 2008 Chaplain’s Roundtables…it all begins when you register for the Roundtable(s) of your choice at

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to give me a ring or shoot me an email.

By His Grace,
Bill Houston
Sports Spectrum Radio
Chaplain’s Roundtable Ministry
616-974-2583-office #

Friday, September 19, 2008

Sport Chaplain’s Game Day

This is an account of a normal game day during a college football road trip in my life as a sport chaplain at Southern Illinois University in Carbondale, Illinois.

I am normally an early riser, but even more so during such trips. I will get to be very early on Friday evening and awaken well before dawn. I’ll gather my Bible, iPod, notebook and coffee cup. I’ll make my way to the hotel lobby or, weather permitting, outside for some reading, solitude and contemplation of the coming day. I’ll take some time for intercessory prayer for each player and coach related to their assignments and personal development. I will also put the final touches on my chapel talk which I would have drafted the evening before.

I will dress and prepare for the chapel by arriving early and distributing a devotional letter to the team at each place setting for the pre-game meal. I greet the players and coaches as they arrive in the room and then begin the chapel at the head coach’s prompting. This is typically 4 hours and 15 minutes prior to kickoff.

I will ask a player or coach to open the meeting in prayer and then will begin my talk. It’s usually 5-7 minutes long and begins with a statement related to today’s situation followed by a scripture reading which parallels that situation. A summary of the scripture’s main points forms the outline for the applications which follow. I will take my last minutes to apply the scriptural principles to this day’s situation, to challenge and to encourage, praying to finalize the talk.

A season of prayer will follow the talk, either by the whole team saying “The Lord’s Prayer,” in unison or by having different players or coaches to pray for the offense, defense, special teams, coaching staff, officials and our opponents. I will finish the season of prayer and thereby conclude the chapel.

After chapel, we will have our pre-game meal and a brief talk from the head coach. From there it’s back to the room to make final preparations for the trip to the stadium and the painfully long wait for game time. I will make my way from the room to the bus early and we’ll drive to the stadium. I’ll often use the time after arrival to review the travel list and to pray for each player on the roster by name. I’ll stretch and prepare for pre-game warm up activities. I’ll catch and return the footballs kicked by punters and kickers, speak with a number of players, challenging them to lead well and to play their hearts out. I’ll often pray with individuals who request it.

After our pre-game warm up activities are completed, the team will return to the locker room where I’ll have the stadium countdown clock on my wrist watch so the head coach will know the timing. We’ll hear a final pre-game talk by the head coach, we’ll take a knee and the hands of those near us and I’ll lead the whole team in saying “The Lord’s Prayer.” We’ll then take the field and play the game.

I am the team’s “get back coach,” meaning that it’s my responsibility to keep the sideline area clear for the officials to move freely and for our team to not incur a penalty. I’ll also help gather special team units to the sideline according to down and distance situations. At half-time I also keep the countdown clock on my wrist and advise the coaching staff as to the time remaining prior to the second half kickoff. When the game resumes, so do my on field responsibilities. If we’re behind, I’ll work to encourage and to inspire a comeback. If we’re leading, I’ll work to challenge our players to finish well and strongly.

At the end of the game, I encourage our players to treat their opponents with respect as they greet them on the field and then we gather in the locker room. We’ll either celebrate or console each other, depending upon the outcome, and then we’ll again take a knee for “The Lord’s Prayer.” After a final talk from the head coach we shower, change and exit the locker room for the buses. I meet the players and coaches near the buses and help distribute the post-game meals. I speak to them to encourage and to praise their performances, their effort, attitude, etc…

Once the buses are loaded, we travel home and I listen to music, watch the movie, write in my season journal or all three. I occasionally even sleep. This is how I spend half of my Saturdays throughout the fall and I dearly love it.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Coach Josh Franklin

It’s the best-case scenario for a coach. You resign from coaching immediately after winning the highest level championship for which your team can compete. That was the scene for Coach Josh Franklin of Cobden Appleknockers Softball.

Having known and worked with Coach Franklin for fourteen years, I was amazed when he announced that he would be leaving teaching and coaching to become an associate minister at his church. Josh had been a highly achieving athlete in high school and in college. He was an Academic All-American as a baseball and basketball player at Missouri Baptist College in St. Louis.

He coached boy’s basketball and later girl’s softball at Cobden. A year ago he was telling me that his softball team had a chance to be really good next year. He was right. I saw them play in the Illinois High School Class 1A Regional tournament and their pitcher threw a no-hitter. They progressed through the tournament and made their way to the championship game, won it and brought home the first state championship to this small, southern Illinois community, ever in any sport.

Coach Franklin had earlier told his team, the school board and others that he would resign at the end of the season. His successor had been chosen and everyone knew that this moment would come. They didn’t know the end of his coaching career would come equipped with a midnight caravan to the high school and a State Championship victory celebration.

Throughout his career as an athlete and as a coach, Josh played his heart out and now both sport and the Lord are paying him deeply in his soul. Do the same today and watch for a similar dividend paid in your heart.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Sport As Worship

Am I the only person who gets more spiritually enthused by pre-game warm up exercises at a college football game than by any overly dramatic worship service at church on Sunday morning?
Am I the only one who gets a little bored at church because things are moving a little too slowly? I keep waiting for someone to get sweaty or bloody or for someone to get knocked down.
Am I a complete reprobate because I feel God’s presence more profoundly on the field of competition with sweat dripping from my forehead than I do in the air-conditioned comfort of my home church’s beautiful sanctuary?
Why am I this way? Am I totally out of touch with God’s idea of worship? Or is it possible that the real meaning of worship is broader than the cloistered connotation most of us encounter on Sunday mornings? Let’s consider a powerful and liberating scripture as we seek the Lord’s heart for worship.
Romans 12:1
“Therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, I urge you to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God; this is your spiritual worship.” (Holman Christian Standard Bible)
Throughout the Old Testament, a sacrifice was made by a person in worship of the Living God. The sacrifice may have been grain, liquid or an animal which would be ritually killed and burned. The sacrifice was given for God’s pleasure. The sacrifice was killed and burned to atone for sin, to restore fellowship or to express thanksgiving.
Upon Christ Jesus’ complete fulfillment of the need for burnt offerings, we find the Church and the Apostles speaking of a new kind of sacrifice, one that is living and vibrant. Men like the Apostle Paul lived each day as a living sacrifice and their scars bore witness to their commitment to please their Heavenly Father. Such men and women took incredible risks to honor the Lord Jesus and lived each day sacrificially. Many sacrificed their fortunes, their social standing, and their very lives as they declared the worth of their Lord to a hostile world.
On this side of Christ’s resurrection, holy, pleasing and spiritual worship is not a matter of killing and burning a sacrifice, rather it is the daily offering of our bodies as a living sacrifice. A living sacrifice is a person given totally (body, mind and spirit) to pleasing God, his or her whole person selflessly dedicated to honoring the Father.
The 17th century Carmelite monk, Brother Lawrence, has challenged centuries of Christians through his book, “The Practice of the Presence of God.” His descriptions of transformational worship while performing such tasks as doing the dishes cut deeply into our hearts and cause us to question our narrow notions of what is pleasing to God as worship. “It is a great delusion to think our times of prayer ought to differ from other times. We are as strictly obliged to cleave to God by action in the time of action as by prayer in the season of prayer.” Washing the dishes does not seem terribly “spiritual” to our dualistic, compartmentalized minds. Brother Lawrence shares a unique and powerful insight for us through the simple words of this book.
Twenty-first century Christians have a well defined list of ways to offer our bodies as living sacrifices which are readily accepted by the Church. Most of them happen within the confines of church services.
· Playing a guitar, a piano, organ or other musical instrument.
· Providing a service as an usher, a minister, lighting candles, serving communion, or even collecting the offering.
· In some churches this even means dance, drama and other media.
Some of us have already joined Brother Lawrence in his view of seeing daily life as a spiritual act of worship and every activity as service to Christ.
· Walking to class, sensing Jesus’ presence along the way.
· Making dinner for my family is Christ-honoring service.
· Reading a book can be God-pleasing sacrifice.
· Driving to my job is a holy activity as I fellowship with my Lord.
We, who identify ourselves as coaches and athletes, have rich opportunities for holy, pleasing and spiritual worship as we train and compete. Our daily activities in sport are perfectly pleasing to our Lord as we dedicate ourselves to Him in loving service. Consider a brief list of ways to offer your body as a living sacrifice:
· Kicking a soccer ball
· Throwing a baseball
· Conducting a practice
· Hitting a volleyball
· Vaulting over a pommel horse
· Rehabbing an injury
· Catching a football
· Training with a team
· Shooting a basketball
· Swimming in a pool
· Lifting weights
· Running a race
· Coaching competitors
To be sure, God is properly worshiped through music, preaching and ritual. I believe He is equally honored by the people of sport as we compete, train and love our teammates. All of life is our spiritual act of worship, holy and acceptable to God as we offer our bodies as living sacrifices thereby practicing the presence of our Living Lord through our lives in sport.