Thursday, October 30, 2008

Chapel – Unified

1 – Introduction – If we will compete in a unified way today, we will do very well.

2 – Take encouragement from this story in Genesis chapter 11. Read the text – Genesis 11:1-8.
· There are two main points to take from this text: They were one people and everyone spoke the same language.
· God Himself observes, “Now nothing which they purpose to do will be impossible for them.”
o God believes in the unlimited potential of unified people who communicate effectively. (Repeat)
o This is what God saw in these people and I see that in this team. Nothing you purpose to do will be impossible for you.

3 – In today’s game-
· Be unified! When adversity arrives:
o Don’t criticize teammates, rather challenge them.
o Don’t avoid failing teammates, embrace them.
o Don’t withdraw from others, encourage others.
· Communicate effectively! All day.
o In meetings
o In the locker room
o During pre-game on the field
o In the huddle
o During each moment of the game
o On the sidelines
o At half-time
o As we finish strongly
· Play today as a unified team, communicate wisely and effectively and we’ll witness first-hand the unlimited potential of our team.

4 - Prayer

Thursday, October 23, 2008


Why do people ask athletes for their autographs? It happens all the time and all over the world. Players are asked to autograph footballs, baseball bats, helmets, bases, tickets, shirts, soccer balls, game jerseys, hockey sticks, gloves, and seemingly every except jock straps. Why?

I’ve thought about this a little lately and I think I have an answer. Competitors in sport, players and coaches, are achieving in a way that most people do not and many more will not. These competitors have pressed through the discomfort which comes with rigorous training, they have battled the twin demons of fear and doubt, they have taken on real opponents and have won, while most of the world shrinks back from competition altogether.

In the autograph the seeker is seeking to participate in the competitor’s achievement. Thus the premium for “game used” memorabilia. The autograph seeker experiences the thrill of the game’s passion and pain vicariously through the object with the player’s signature serving to personalize the moment.

I have seen autographed footballs on the shelves of offices of men who have never put on a helmet. I have seen autographed baseballs on the desks of people who would be afraid to even step into the batter’s box. They seek to share in the experience of those who have achieved at the highest level in sport and to draw inspiration for their own pursuit of achievement.

So, the next time you’re asked for an autograph, understand that you are tremendously inspirational to the person asking for your signature. Please give it generously and thereby lead him or her to heights as yet unvisited.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Opponent ≠ Enemy

From my earliest days in sport I can recall the attitude, held by many, that opponent = enemy. When competitors are stating the score, I have heard and said, “Good guys up 10-7.” I remember a long-time college and professional football coach saying in very explicit language and without any pang of conscience, “They are the enemy!!” Many of us would join him in such statements. Most of us would have to confess to a less than charitable attitude toward our opponents. Let’s investigate this a little further.

Practically speaking, a competition without a worthy opponent is just a practice. Without an opponent one cannot fully compete. In a very profound sense, we need our opponents just to have real competition. The opponent is a necessary component to the whole process. An opponent is needed and should therefore be respected, whereas an enemy is hated and life is better without them.

An opponent makes a competitor better and the more competent the opponent, the greater the improvement for all concerned. Enemies aim to destroy each other and that only results in harm to both.

A worthy, respectful opponent helps bring out the best in sport for those who play their hearts out. A contentious, ruthless, enemy-oriented attitude only serves to bring out the worst in everyone involved.

Play your heart out with a wise attitude that displays respect for your opponent and you will find such character reflected toward you. Compete foolishly as if opponent = enemy and you will devalue the beauty of sport for yourself, your teammates, your opponents, the officials and the spectators.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Sports Chaplaincy Australia Conference

Greetings from Melbourne, Australia. The annual conference for Sports Chaplaincy Australia ( just concluded on Thursday afternoon and I was privileged to share with them for the last three days on “Transforming Lives in Sport.” Below are some thoughts on what they do particularly well in SCA.
· This is an association of Sport Chaplains from a wide variety of sports. We worked with chaplains from Australian Rules Football, Rugby Union, Rugby League, Cricket, Motor Racing of various kinds, Basketball, Tennis, Bicycling, Soccer, Net ball, Athletics (Track and Field), Life Saving and more….
· They offer training and certification to sport chaplains and then support them with resources, encouragement and further training opportunities.
· They are building some strategic partnerships with the organizations which they serve. During our conference we made a visit to the Victoria Institute of Sport, the Richmond Football Club and the Australian Football Players Association. With each of these groups we heard from their leadership about how the SCA Chaplains can further serve them and how they can be most effective.
· They network with people who have remarkable insight for their chaplains. We interviewed the wife of one of the country’s most high profile sports figures and learned a lot re: how to serve the high profile competitor, his family and more.
· The leadership of the SCA is engaged as chaplains and are therefore well in tune with everyone’s daily life and responsibilities. Cameron Butler – CEO of SCA serves as the chaplain to the Melbourne AFL team.
· They move their conference to various cities across the continent to gain a more complete view of Australian sport, its facilities and its cities.
· They had some of their own do various parts of the training. The president of their board led our daily devotions, their national training director shared with us daily and other board members served during their chaplain of the year banquet.
· They rewarded their long-term chaplains for their faithfulness in service. 5, 10 and 15 year veterans were celebrated and given a plaque for recognition and they each shared about their experiences as chaplains.
· During their chaplain of the year banquet, they had a panel discussion which featured a presently playing professional soccer player, a retired Aussie Rules Football player who is now a radio commentator and a sport chaplain from the USA.
· During one evening of the conference, they split the chaplains up into teams and played a sports trivia game. The competition was fun and built community among these folks who are normally separated by thousands of kilometers across the continent and only see each other annually.
· Next Monday, there will be two days of Certificate Training for prospective chaplains in Melbourne and I’ll be excited to share with that group as well.
· They are creating exciting new resources which share the Good News of Christ Jesus with those in and around the world of sport in Australia. These include Sport New Testaments and DVDs of sport persons’ testimonies.
· Check out their web site at
In summary, the SCA is doing a tremendous job of training, equipping, resourcing, encouraging and overseeing sport chaplains all across Australia.

Friday, October 3, 2008

2006 Journal Excerpt

October 27 – After a tough week of unanswered questions about Coach Kill’s condition and the causes of the seizures we loaded the buses this morning for the trip to Missouri State University in Springfield. I stayed in touch with Rebecca while they were in the hospital in St. Louis until they returned home last night.
We left the Arena at 8:00 am, stopped at a rest stop on I-44 for lunch from Wendy’s and arrived at our hotel just before 2:00. I proctored a test for two players shortly after arrival and then moved into my room. I prepared a copy of “The Five Love Languages” for Bryce Saia and Erin Castro and then made my way to the walk through prior to going to dinner.
We loaded the buses and went to the Bass Pro Shops for dinner at Hemingway’s Restaurant and their seafood buffet. Wow! After dinner we came back to the hotel and I watched the World Series game 5, which St. Louis won 4-2 to take the championship. During the early innings I prepared my chapel talk and I believe I’m well prepared to say something that fits the day and the events of the week. I fell asleep after quite a while of trying to get my mind to shut down. At 12:45 in the morning the fire alarm was going off so I went out to the hallway to see what was going on. There was nothing so I went back to bed and eventually fell asleep again.

October 28 – I was awake at 5:30 and made my way to the hotel lobby with my Bible, “Orthodoxy” by G. K. Chesterton and my iPod. At 6:00 the coffee was ready and I continued my reading and prepared my talks for the Baseball camp in North Carolina coming up in December.
I showered and prepared for chapel which started at 9:15. I spoke from II Corinthians 4:7-10 with reference to Coach Kill’s situation and those among us who have encountered injury or illness in our earthen vessels. I further talked about the attitudes that would help us to press through adversity. The pre-game meal followed that and we loaded the buses at 11:00 to go to the stadium. I was counted on to guide us into the right place at the stadium as I’m the one with the most experience in traveling to many of these stadiums.
Coach Kill made an appearance in the locker room prior to the game and made some brief remarks. He looked terrible and was maybe at 20% of the energy and intensity that we expect from him. The game was well played in the first half and we went to the locker room with a ten point lead. Coach Kill also spoke briefly with the team during the half-time and then returned to the press box for the remainder of the game. The second half was again a struggle, but we fought through some adversity and prevailed 27-17. Coach Kill met us in the locker room and spoke with the team. Coach Matukewicz gave him a game ball and called him the M.I.P – Most Important Person for the game. The players all stood and gave him a warm ovation. After that we took a knee and said the Lord’s Prayer. We hurried to get out of that very crowded locker room, loaded the buses and were on the road just prior to 5:30.
During the ride home we learned that Western Illinois beat Northern Iowa in the dome and that Youngstown State beat Illinois State. That gives everybody in the Gateway at least one loss and we sit here with two. To win or share the conference championship we’ll have to win out and get some help. We arrived in Carbondale at 11:00 pm.