Friday, September 28, 2012

Last night was session four in a series of discussions with student-athletes here at Southern Illinois University related to Jesus’ relationships as described in the Gospel of Mark. I have been experimenting with a couple of things in these discussions and I’m now ready to share some of my observations.

1 – I’ve been using an on-line video of the Gospel of Mark, shown on my living room’s large screen television in place of a person reading it. Here’s the link to that video - The video has been remarkably effective and I believe it is so for a few reasons. First, this generation has grown up with video and they gather much of their information via video on-line. Second, this form shows the text on the screen, it is read aloud and it has images and music behind it which enhance the reading.

2 – The intentionally relational focus of this study helps these sportspeople to connect personally with the narrative and to see the human elements in each story. They don’t see these as “Bible stories” as much as examples of how Jesus interacted with people as a model for how they can wisely and redemptively relate to those around them.

3 – I have printed out my outline (as seen below and as attached), handed them out at the beginning of the session and included questions for contemplation and application at the end for them to use throughout the week. I had no idea if this would work, but not a single page is left behind when they go home. It seems they’re willing to do the contemplation and application after our meeting is over. I’m very happy with that.

Here is last night’s simple outline. Please note the focus on relationships and the simplicity of the questions. Please feel free to use the study if you like and to experiment with videos of Scripture, printed outlines to carry home and other means to help your sportspeople to engage the truth of Scripture and each other toward the goal of life transformation.

Session 4

1. Read Mark chapter 6 aloud (or use the video: and pray together.

2. In verses 1-6, Jesus and His disciples return to His hometown.

a. How do the home folk respond to Jesus’ message?

b. Why would they act this way?

c. How does Jesus respond to their unbelief?

3. In verses 7-13 and 30-52 Jesus teaches and then tests His disciples.

a. What seems to be the big idea in His teaching in verses 7-13?

b. What did the disciples do after receiving the instructions?

c. How did Jesus test the disciples in verses 35-52 and how well did they do on the test?

d. How much did they learn from the process?

4. In verses 14-29 we hear about King Herod’s response to Jesus’ growing popularity.

a. How would you characterize Herod’s actions?

b. Why would he act this way?

5. Jesus deals wisely with a hungry crowd in a remote location in verses 35-44.

a. How did He demonstrate wisdom, authority and power?

6. In verses 45-52 Jesus again deals with the forces of nature.

a. How is this occasion different from the one in chapter 5 and how similar?

b. What preceded His stroll on the sea?

c. How are the two connected?

7. How did the crowds in Genessaret respond to Jesus’ presence in their area?

a. What happened to them?

8. Thoughts for contemplation and application: How would you benefit from a similar approach to relationships as Jesus demonstrates in chapter 6 in your relationships with;

a. Your teammates?

b. People from your hometown?

c. A jealous authority figure?

d. Mother Nature?

e. Desperately hungry people

Friday, September 21, 2012

Chaplains Roundtables 2012

Below is information about the Chaplains Roundtable events in Indianapolis, Indiana (USA) and Lansing, Michigan (USA) that will be held this fall. If you are close enough to attend either of these, please make time to do so. They are excellent environments for learning, networking and encouragement. I’ll be at one or both. I hope to see you there. At each event there is a collection of sport chaplains from auto racing, major and minor league baseball, collegiate sport, high school sport, ice hockey and more.

We are less than two months from the Indy Chaplains Roundtable...have you signed up? You will not want to miss this day of encouragement, networking opportunities, idea sharing, fellowship and some awesome resources. It all gets underway at 9am at Traders Point Church, Wednesday, November 7th Registration is free at  

Featured in Indianapolis will be Dr. James Jackson - Chaplain-Indiana Pacers. This will be Dr. Jackson's first Chaplains Roundtable conference. Don't miss his challenge from God's Word at the Indy Chaplains Roundtable, Wednesday-November 7th at Traders Point Church.

Dr. Jerry Birch - Chaplain-Cleveland Cavaliers will join us at the Lansing, MI Chaplains Roundtable on Tuesday, December 11th at South Church. You'll not want to miss what the Lord has for you as Dr. Birch opens the pages of Scripture.

Each attendee will receive a copy of Spirit Hunger by Gari Meacham. Gari is the wife of former Big League player, Bobby Meacham. In her book, Gari boldly leads us out of the doldrums of “formulaic prayer” into authentic engagement with God. Meacham believes that as Christians we often have an intense longing for control and security instead of a spirit hunger that calls us to be closer to God, with prayer as the main connection to Him.

What Happens at a Chaplains Roundtable Conference?

Each Chaplains Roundtable event will feature three dynamic speakers. Following each challenge from God's Word, attendees will have the opportunity to discuss in a "roundtable" format the message they've just heard. It's a great way to embrace what the Lord may be saying to you and to others. We'll begin at 9am and have you heading home by 2:45pm. What a great way to enjoy fellowship, networking opportunities and growth in your sports ministry. Register today at  

Also featured at the Indy Roundtable will be J.D. Collins - Commissioner of the Crossroads Athletic Conference & Former Division I Basketball Referee. J.D. has been with us at the Indy Roundtable on other occasions but will share the speakers platform this year with great insight on "Ministry Through Mentoring."

Also featured at the Lansing Roundtable will be Alan Seaborn of Winning at Home Ministries. Alan will be attending his first Lansing Chaplains Roundtable. You'll not want to miss his challenge as he looks at the topic "Ministry to Those Impacted by the Breakdown of the Family."

Also featured in Lansing will be Paul Allen of Hockey Ministries International. Paul was a pastor in the Toronto area for nearly 20 years and has been involved in hockey chaplaincy for nearly a decade. Paul has been part of the Lansing Chaplains Roundtable before...but this year, we have the privilege of hearing his heart as one of our featured speakers. He will address the topic "Ministry in Crisis Situations."

Our mailing address is:

Bill Houston
9749 Parmeter Ave NE
Rockford, MI 49341
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Friday, September 14, 2012

You are free!

Since my most recent reading of Galatians, I have again been struck by the simple truths of chapter 5, especially verses 1 and 13. Some implications from those verses are below. I hope these thoughts are of value to you and to those whom you serve.


Christian men and women of sport, those who are in relationship with Christ Jesus, are free to train, to compete, to win, to lose, to succeed, to fail, to be champions and to be “also rans.” Their lives are kept by the living Lord Jesus and their relationships with Him are unaffected by performance.

“It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery.” Galatians 5:1 The love of Christ will lead the Christian competitor to freedom, not pressure and slavery to performance. If the coach or player feels pressure, fear of failure or compulsion to perform in a particular way, those emotions are not coming from the Lord Jesus. They may very well be there, but they’re probably from his own flesh, from her coach, from his parents, from the club or the media or the general culture of sport, but they are not from Christ Jesus. You are free!

“For you were called to freedom, brethren; only do not turn your freedom into an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.” Galatians 5:13 The freedom we experience in Christ Jesus as competitors must not be turned into an opportunity for selfish indulgence. It’s very easy for the Christian coach or player who has discovered his freedom in Christ to simply take his freedom and run to his own corner of the sport, isolating himself from teammates and privatizing his faith. The Lord’s admonition of verse 13 is that our freedom is given to us, in part, to enable us to serve our teammates selflessly. Our freedom in Christ is the essential quality that empowers us to put down our own prideful flesh, to prefer our teammates’ needs above our own, to love the unlovely ones among us and to embrace those who both perform well and those who don’t. You are free!

Christian Coach, Trainer or Club Manager – you are free. You are no more pleasing to the Lord when you finish the season undefeated and champions as you are when you go winless and finish last in your league. Neither are you less pleasing to Him whether you succeed or fail. You are free!

Christian Player, Athlete or Competitor – you are free. You may experience pressure, compulsion or guilt related to your performance, but you can be sure that is not coming from the Lord Jesus. You are free. You can live with a daily assurance that you were created in Christ Jesus for good works which the Lord prepared beforehand for you to walk in (Ephesians 2:10) and your life in sport is a part of those good works. You are free. You can fully offer your body as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable, it is your spiritual act of worship. (Romans 12:1-2) In each day’s training, competition, rest and recovery, in all of life, you are free!

Sport Chaplain, Sport Mentor or Character Coach – you are free. You will feel the emotions and pressures experienced by those you serve, but you are free. You will experience victories and failures with your teams and individual competitors, but you are free. The Lord is no more pleased with your ministry when your team is successful and winning as He is when your team consistently underachieves and regularly loses. He is no less pleased with you and you are no less valuable to Him when you serve in a seemingly obscure place as when you serve with a “high profile” team or a “celebrity” status player. You are free!

Men and Women of Sport – You are free!! Live in the liberty afforded you by the Lord Jesus. Let your freedom lead you to serve selflessly and to love extravagantly.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Chapel Talk - The Team

The theme for this season of Saluki Football is “The Team.” All our pre-season Team Building, my three pre-season Sunday morning chapel talks and all my game day chapel talks will fit in with this overarching theme. The first of eleven game day chapel talks was delivered last Thursday prior to our season opening loss to Eastern Illinois University. An outline of the chapel and the talk is below. Please feel free to make use of it if you like.

1) Introductory thoughts and welcome.

2) Prayer – “The Lord’s Prayer” was said in unison, standing at tables while holding the hands of those at each table.

3) This season, to be a great team, we must do five things very well. This list of five is from First Corinthians chapter 16 and verses 13 and 14.

4) Read the text. “Be on the alert, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong. Let all that you do be done in love.”

5) In life, we must do these five things:

a. Be on the alert. Not everyone likes you. Some people will seek to hurt you and to use you and those whom you love. Be on the alert so as to protect.

b. Stand firm in the faith. One must know the values that are at the core of his life and he must stand firm in holding to those. As a Christian, these values are clearly stated in the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

c. Act like men. I shared a one page document from Coach Tony Dungy re: what defines “A Real Man.” I summarized by saying that to act like a man means to reject passivity and to take initiative. Living passively will result in your being run over by life.

d. Be strong. Be strong physically, mentally and spiritually.

e. Let all you do be done in love. To seek another’s good at your cost is to love. I love my wife and will pay whatever it costs to see her be well. I love my son, daughter-in-law and granddaughter, I will pay whatever it costs to care for them.

6) In football today, we must do these same five things:

a. Be on the alert. Keep your head on a swivel. There are big, ugly men with harmful intentions toward you running across that field. They would like nothing better than to blindside you and to put you on your back. Be on the alert.

b. Stand firm in the faith. Hold tightly to your team’s values which we have discussed since August 4.

c. Act like men. Don’t play passively today. Take initiative. Make a play.

d. Be strong. Be strong physically. Be strong mentally. Be strong spiritually.

e. Let all you do be done in love. Seek your team’s best and seek each teammate’s best at your cost.

7) Summary – Today and for the rest of your life –

a. Be on the alert.

b. Stand firm.

c. Act like men.

d. Be strong.

e. Let all you do be done in love.

8) Closing prayer by the chaplain.