Friday, March 27, 2009

Scripture and Prayer

A couple of months ago I wrote about the emails and text messages I had been sending to a college baseball coach who is in a battle with cancer. The battle continues and so do the emails and text messages. Below are a couple of those sent lately.

This simple form of scripture and a written prayer seems to be making a difference with him. I am trusting in the Lord’s commitment to the power of scripture to transform my friend’s heart and to fuel his daily battle with disease, to make wise decisions as he leads his family, his coaching staff and his players. I’ve been to lots of games this spring, but our conversation is limited because it’s game day and there’s lots going on in the dugout. This correspondence is private and one on one.

If you have opportunities to correspond with people of sport, especially if they are rather irreligious, this sort of communication can hit the mark. It’s not about being clever, it’s about how the scripture can speak directly to their hearts and how prayer can help them connect with the Lord. Give it a shot. It just might work!


Your team has battled strongly this weekend, I trust they will finish this series powerfully and well. I’ll look forward to seeing you at the ballpark this afternoon. They seem to gather strength from your being in the dugout.

Isaiah 41:10 “Fear not, for I am with you;

Be not dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you,
Yes, I will help you,
I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.”

Prayer –
Father in Heaven,
Because You are with me I will not fear.
You are my God and I will not be dismayed.
I will trust You for strength and help.
I will trust You to hold me up in Your righteous right hand.
Please fill me with your love, grace and power for this day.
In the strong name of Jesus Christ,


Here is some scripture to fuel your heart, even if your team is in Omaha, but you’re not…

James 5:13-17

“Are you hurting? Pray. Do you feel great? Sing. Are you sick? Call the church leaders together to pray and anoint you with oil in the name of the Master. Believing-prayer will heal you, and Jesus will put you on your feet. And if you've sinned, you'll be forgiven—healed inside and out.

Make this your common practice: Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you can live together whole and healed. The prayer of a person living right with God is something powerful to be reckoned with.”

Prayer –
Almighty God my Father,
· Thank You for these words of encouragement and challenge.
· When I’m hurting, I’ll pray.
· When I feel great, I’ll sing.
· When I’m sick, I’ll call out to godly men who will pray for me.
· I trust that believing-prayer will heal me and Jesus will put me on my feet.
· I trust You for the forgiveness of my sins and I’ll be healed, inside and out.
· I believe that my prayers will be something to be reckoned with because You have made things right between us.
· I commit this day, this road trip and this series of games to Your care.
In Jesus’ name,

Friday, March 20, 2009

Does Your Heart Float?

Would you describe your life in sport as a steady, calm float down the river toward success or more like a terrifying series of rapids, ups and downs, splashes and moments of panic on the way to who knows where?

I’ve experienced both in my days as a player, an official, a team chaplain and as the father of a player. The calm days with assurance and tranquility are a little better. The others are more than a little upsetting to everyone in the process.

What makes the difference? Is there a way to transform our lives in sport and to find more peace in the midst of often chaotic world? The key to such transformation is to find joy. This is a simple word seldom used in our culture, but it has incredible power. My favorite way of describing joy is to liken it to emotional buoyancy.

Everyone’s life has ups and downs; joy is what keeps our hearts afloat when we experience the downs. Rather than being flooded by the onrushing waves of discouragement, panic and frustration, we are buoyed by joy as we trust in our teammates, our coaching staff, our game plan and ultimately in our God.

As you go about your life in sport. Imagine that your heart is encircled by a powerful life-vest called joy. Trust that on your worst days, that life-vest will keep your attitude, your mind, your vision and all your heart afloat, able to make wise choices and to compete at your best. With joy maintaining your emotional buoyancy, you cannot be overcome by any of your heart’s enemies.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Teambuilding Discussions

Over the last nine years I’ve been developing a way to enhance a team’s sense of unity, teamwork, commitment and more. I have called it Teambuilding, for lack of a better term. I’ve used this method with both male and female teams, university American football teams, volleyball teams, basketball teams and recently high school softball teams. It’s really pretty simple if we understand the coach’s goals and work backward to the team’s starting place. Below is an example of a discussion which I used on Monday of this week and I’ll use a very similar outline for this morning’s meeting (45-60 minutes) with another high school girl’s softball team.

Though many would not see this sort of discussion as “spiritual,” my investments in such teams have opened doors to many hearts and has built trust for me with the coaching staff and the players for other conversations on a deeper level later. Let’s not undervalue service of our coaches and teams at the expense of needing to be bluntly “spiritual.”

I hope it’s of help to you. Please feel free to contact me if you would like to discuss using this method with your teams.

Carterville Softball Teambuilding

· Name / Year / Position

During your pre-season meetings with Coach Diel –
· What was the best part of that process for you?
· What did you learn?

One of the things you talked about during those meetings was Mental Toughness -
· When you think of mental toughness, who comes to mind?
· How is that demonstrated by this person?
· Same questions regarding the toughness in your teammates…. Who and how demonstrated?

How does mental toughness relate to team leadership?
· Who are the players on your team to whom you look for leadership?
· When do they lead best and what do they do to lead well?

What are some qualities in your teammates which win your trust?
· Who embodies some of those very well?
· What breaks down your trust of teammates?

What are some of your team goals and expectations for this season?
· How do your expectations compare with others’ outside the team?
· Whose expectations are more important to your team and to you individually?
· How do you keep the team’s expectations on track through the year?

Given all this conversation about mental toughness, leadership, trust, goals and expectations – achieving as a team will come down to commitment.
· How committed will you be to your teammates?
· How consistently will you support them?
· What are you willing to sacrifice for your teammates?

Carterville Softball 2009
“I’ve Got Your Back”

· I will demonstrate toughness for my teammates by ___________________________________________________________________.

· I will lead my teammates by _____________________________________________________________________________________.

· I will earn my teammates’ trust by ________________________________________________________________________________.

· I will demonstrate commitment to my teammates by __________________________________________________________________.

Signed _____________________________________________ March 10, 2009

I gave each player the form above and had them to take it home to complete each statement. They then had to return the completed form to their head coach in exchange for their uniform. He then has it laminated and they are to post it in their locker or keep it in their equipment bag so they have an everyday reminder of their commitments.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Female Sports Chaplains

During a recent sports ministry event in the USA I was in a discussion with Jill Perry, sports chaplain at the University of Georgia. She and I were discussing who the female sports chaplains were around the country and how well they’re serving in their roles. We see this role expanding, although slowly, and having greater depth of impact as each one deepens and broadens her ministry.

Below is a short list of some who are doing particularly well, both in the USA and abroad.

Full-time chaplains (Fellowship of Christian Athletes Staff)
Marla Williams at Clemson University (South Carolina)
Courtney Wilkes at the University of West Virginia
Carly Thomas at Auburn University (Alabama)
Jill Perry at the University of Georgia

Volunteer chaplains-
Michelle Backes (Minnesota Lynx of the WNBA)
Kathy Malone (Indiana Fever of the WNBA)
Sue Crawford (Chicago Sky of the WNBA – FCA Staff)
Carlette Patterson (Sports Life Coach in Phoenix, Arizona)

Other nations –
Nett Knox – Sports Chaplaincy Australia in Sydney
Manu Traica - Romania

This is certainly not an exhaustive list, but it is representative of some who are serving well and honorably. Please pray for our sisters and encourage them as they work with the young women with whom they have immeasurable influence.