Christians in the NFL – Lessons learned from Aaron Kampman – Jacksonville Jaguars

This is the 27th installment in my blog series on Christians in the NFL.  This time, we head down to sunny Florida to check out the story of Aaron Kampman, Defensive Lineman for the Jacksonville Jaguars.

At the risk of again alienating the residents of Minneapolis where I reside – I have always liked Aaron Kampman – even during his tenure with the Green Bay Packers.  Drafted in the 5th round of the 2002 draft, Kampman has enjoyed a good career in the NFL as attributed by his 2 pro bowl and all pro seasons.  But there is so much more to Kampman then what we see on the football field.  As I looked into his story, I found his story encouraging and there are lots of lessons that God spoke to me as I read. 

If you want to check out the articles that I came across about Kampman, I would highly recommend a couple of my favorite resources for the stories of Christan Athletes.  Insightful Players has a great article about Kampman, as does Chad Bonham at Inspiring Athletes – a resource I have used several times in this blog.

There is a lot of great and encouraging material in these articles. Kampman has a lot of challenging things to say.  He is in his 30’s now and knows that his time in football is limited.  He has recently completed a degree in Theological Studies from the Dallas Theological Seminary.  He knows he will be involved in ministry after his playing days are over, but he also feels that his education has helped strengthen him in his faith as he shares it with fans, teammates, other players and whoever else God leads him to share with.

Here are some lessons that I will share from what spoke to me in these articles.
1-   Dealing with Adversity – We all face adversity, no one is exempt.  Jesus himself said that “In this world you WILL have troubles.”  (John 16.33)  How we deal with these adversities reflects our commitment to God.  Some turn away from God, not trusting that He “has overcome the world”.  It is hard when something happens that hurts us or that deflates us – something that we don’t understand and we don’t know how to deal with.  But do we really believe that it is something that is beyond God’s control?  NO!  God is not overwhelmed by our problems.  We may never understand what God is able to do through our pain and suffering.  But Christ endured suffering and pain on our behalf.  Why do we think that following Him would lead to a pain free life.  Kampman talks of losing his former mentor and high school football coach unexpectedly.  Our trust in God cannot begin at the point of adversity.  We need to be constantly drawing close to God and depending on Him daily.  With that foundation in place we will be able to indeed do “all things through Christ who gives us strength”, even if it means dealing with pain, adversity and suffering.

2- Selfishness must be dealt with – I love the quote that I read from Kampman “I’ve felt like my calling is to help athletes become truly others-centered in a me-centered society.” The world today (as it has always been) is very “self” centered.  It is all about “me” and what I want.  Doesn’t matter what else is happening, I am to look out for #1.  Following Jesus is counter cultural in this.  Jesus taught to serve others  (Love your neighbor as yourself, treat others the way you want to be treated, the last shall be first – even if someone forces you to go one mile, go with them 2)  In these 4 quick examples, we see that God is all about putting others needs ahead of ours, even when we may not want to.  To read this lesson that he learned after visiting poverty in India right before attending the Pro Bowl in Hawaii.  He was challenged by this to understand that since he has the platform and the resources to reach a large number of people with the truth of who God is, he also has the resposibility to take the great comission seriously and intentionally carry out what God has called him to do.  This is a great lesson for us, too.  We dont need to measure up to what others are doing.  We simply need to live out what God is calling us to do.  That means not focussing our ourselves and our desires but rather on Him and His purposes

Kampman, sponsored child Jonathan
and wife, Linde.

3-  Great organizations around doing great work  – Kampman mentioned some of the organizations that he and his wife has served with on misson trips and community work.  I think it is amazing to see how the Body of Christ is working to see the needs and meet them around the world.  There are lots of different organizations that are involved in ministering to the needs of people and groups in all corners of the world.  I would like to highlight the few that he mentioned in the interviews and articles.  I’ve mentioned in previous posts that going on mission trips is a great way to deeply connect with the heart of God through service of others.  Here are some places where you can get information about the opportunities that they offer.

Unlimited Potential Inc. – This is an organization that shares Christ with others through the medium of baseball.  Kampman joined them on a military outreach in Germany.  Click the link for more information about UPI and the ministries they offer.
Gospel for Asia – An organization founded by K.P Yohannan.  It offers opportunities to sponsor a child, support a  native missionary reaching his/her own country and culture with the Truth of Christ, pray for the needs of Asia.  My youth group has even participated in the “Bikes for Asia” campaign in which moneys donated go to provide a bike for a native missionary to enlarge the sphere of influence he/she can have.
Compassion International –  One of the frontrunners in the Child Sponsorship business, Compassion International currently is helping 1.2 million children in 26 different countries.  They have been changing lives in Jesus name for almost 60 years. 
Vapor Sports Ministries – Is an organization that focuses on poverty alleviation and equipping the local people to serve and sustain others.  Discipleship, job training, feeding and nutrition are targets that Vapor has for their centers of poverty alleviation.  Aaron Kampman serves on the advisory board for Vapor.  
And as a final resource, I want to draw your attention to the book written by the family of Kampman’s former High School Coach The Sacred Acre: The Ed Thomas Story.  Thomas was shot and killed by a former player at the High School.  His family helped put this story out to talk about faith, forgiveness and his life of coaching and serving others.  I look forward to reading this book soon and will check my local library to find a copy.

Please join me in prayer for these organizations and others that are sharing God’s love all around the world and for people like Aaron (and all Christ followers) who have as our mission to live for God and point others to Him every day of our life, regardless of whether it seams easy or not. 

Christians in the NFL – Lessons Learned from Matt Hasselbeck – Tennessee Titans

This is the 26th post in my series on Christ-followers in the NFL.  Today, we look at the story of  Tennessee Titans quarterback Matt Hasselbeck.

Hasselbeck just completed his first season with the Tennessee Titans,  after spending 10 years with the Seahawks and 2 with the Packers.  He was originaly drafted by Green Bay but faced the daunting task of starting a career as a backup QB to Brett Favre, who simply didn’t miss games. Check out his whole story in this video interview with Pastor Pete Wilson at Cross Point Church. (the video is like 26 minutes long, but there is so much good stuff in it, I recommend that you take the time to check it out).

 

Check it out on the Crosspoint church website.

Quarterbacks were in focus in the 1998 NFL player draft.  The first round alone, saw one of the best ever (Peyton Manning) and one of the biggest busts in NFL history (Ryan Leaf).  Then, tucked way back in the 6th round, the Green Bay Packers drafted the son of a former NFL tight end.  Matt Hasselbeck had an uphill climb from that humble draft spot, but since then, he has crafted a career that ranks among the best in the past decade.  He is a 3 time Pro Bowl selection and has lead his team to 5 consecutive playoff appearances and even a Super Bowl appearance.  This year, he left Seattle for Nashville and had the Titans in playoff contention up until the last week or two of the regular season.

Here are some of the lessons that I take from the story of Matt Hasselbeck.
1- Humility is important to everyones lives –  Hasselbeck shares a number of stories that show how he has been reminded to remain humble. I love the highlight in the video of his first NFL TD pass.  It was on a fake field goal and he picks up the ball, passes it to an open man and the Packers score (against the Minnesota Vikings – so I am sure that lots of people here in the Twin Cities may remember this).  He runs up to celebrate with the receiver and a few others, goes to jump on the pile and his teammates move as he is in mid-air, leaving him to fall, alone, flat to the ground.  Quite funny.  But there is plenty of other reminders in the story that shows how Hasselbeck has learned to keep pride from creeping in.  Like George McPhee…

2- From humility comes perspective.  He shares the story of meeting George McPhee.  Hasselbeck was on a mission trip in Kingston, Jamaica. I’ve shared how important I think mission trips are for how they affect the life of the participant. This is yet another example.  Hasselbeck had been working a construction project, and then they rejoined the rest of the group at a home for lepers.  There wasn’t a lot of seats left, so Hasselbeck finds himself sitting by George McPhee.  McPhee is playing the harmonica for their worship time.  McPhee praises God and thanks Him for His blessings despite losing eyes, nose and hands to leprosy.  This hit home for Hasselbeck (and for me, too).  We get caught up in our expectations and our feelings of entitlement that we sometimes need to be reminded that life is a gift and the list of what we “deserve” is really, REALLY short.  Yet knowing God, and having a true relationship with Him is more valuable then we can imagine – He is truly all that we need, and just knowing that we are in His presence all the time is more than enough reason to Praise Him with everything that we’ve got!  Hasselbeck spoke about all the things he had to complain about and how trivial they seemed sitting next to George McPhee.  May our lives truly be all about Jesus!

3- Viewing the Tape – Pro football players (and many amateur ones, too) spend some time each week reviewing the video footage of the past game to see what worked well, and what mistakes were made.  I have 2 thoughts about this.  1- There is nowhere to hide.  Every mistake that you make in the game, every missed assignment or missed read is there to be watched, scrutinized and a game plan established to correct it.  Could you imagine if this is how it was in the game of life.  We would watch how we carried out the game plan that God has set for us.  We would see all of our mistakes exposed for all to see, and we would realize that we are far from playing a perfect game.  Well, our sins and mistakes are exposed!  God knows about them all.  No matter what we have tried to hide, it didn’t work – God is aware – but His love continues unwaveringly, and his patience offers us the chance to learn from our mistakes so we can avoid them in the future.  2- and once that part is done.  The tapes are erased.  completely!  God allows us free access to him, through Jesus and so when we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from ALL unrighteousness (emphasis mine).  And He removes our sins as far as the east is from the west, (psalm 103.12).

4- Role Model – I’ve often blogged about being a role model and what that looks like to fans, teammates, and kids.  But I like how Hasselbeck talks about being a role model for his own kids.  He takes his daughters on dates.  He also intentionally models a healthy marriage for his kids to see so they will know what it can look like when they reach that stage.  He said he and his wife make it a priority to attend a marriage conference frequently (once a year) to build and strengthen their marriage.  It isn’t always convenient or inexpensive to do it, but it is necessary.  I liked the comparison Hasselbeck made to football.  Football players don’t get to skip practice or training camp because it is inconvenient or hard – it’s part of the job.  He said he and his wife view these conferences the same way  – not always easy to work out, but vital, so find a way to make it happen.  We could take it further and apply this same line of thinking to our daily bible study and prayer time.  We get busy, it is inconvenient, we get tired – I get all of that.  But it is our job – The only way to coast is downhill.  If you want to build a strong healthy relationship with God, commit to spending time with Him.
        My wife and I recently went to a marriage retreat called “The Art of Marriage”.  It was an incredible time to reconnect with Steph after a particularily busy December and January.  And it is true – it is vital in a marriage to continue to work towards strengthening your marriage.  The devil knows that a Christian couple, working and serving together can be greatly used by God – so he tries to mess them up and break them up.  Marriage is a representation of God’s love for us, so what better way to undermine God’s love then to attack and tear apart this symbol of God and us.  So if you are married, work at your marriage every chance you get – date your spouse, equip yourself to be protect your marriage from satan’s attacks, model a loving relationship for your kids and give them the tools necessary to be successful in their own marriages: – with God as a foundation, and love, forgiveness, compassion and all the other attributes of God’s character becoming more and more evident in our lives, let his light shine through us so others would be drawn to Him.

There is so much more to pick up from this interview.  Check it out and let God speak to you through it. I know that He spoke a lot of things to me.  I pray that you would feel encouraged as I do!

Christians in the NFL – Lessons learned from Jeff Saturday – Indianapolis Colts

This is the 25th installment in my blog series on Christians in the NFL.  Today we will look at the storied career of Jeff Saturday.

Saturday has been a star center for Indianapolis Colts for more than a decade.  In that time, he has been an all-pro 4 times, a pro bowler 5 times, a Super Bowl champ and has been the starting center for all but 9 of his 194 career games.  All of this is impressive in its own, but when you consider that he was not drafted, and spent almost a year out of football between college and the pros.

That year was an important one for Saturday.  He was convinced that he would be drafted and didn’t really have any other plans.  He was invited to try out with the Baltimore Ravens, but was cut a short time later.  With no backup plan and no interest from NFL teams, Saturday found himself re-evaluating his career and his life.

His mom, who he refers to in this article from The Herald Bulletin as a “prayer warrior”, confronted him with this bit of loving truth.

“She said, ‘The reality is, God gave you a gift and you didn’t give anything back to him. He’s going to take it back from you,’” Jeff recalled. “It hit me right between my eyes.”

Saturday talks about how at this point, thinking football was done, he began to make significant changes in his life.  Less than a year later, the Colts came calling and he has been a mainstay ever since. He immdiately found a church, and  joined a team bible study. He has been a team leader in many aspect on the Colts – including spiritul leadership.

Saturday is now very outspoken about his faith in God.  And he has a lot of support on the Colts, as there are many on the roster, players, coaches, trainers, etc., that share common beliefs about God with Saturday.  He is sharing his faith story in his community, participating in a National Day of Prayer breakfast last May, and to football fans everywhere through the Power to Win video.

Power to Win is a video outrech tool produced by Sports Spectrum Magazine.  For 20 years now, these videos have been produced and offered as a resource for Super Bowl and other football outreaches.  The videos (which fit nicely in the half-time time slot) feature current and former NFL players sharing their faith story and also the Gospel message.  According to the article, in its history,  “It has attracted over 2 million viewers, has been viewed at over 40,000 outreach parties and resulted in over 50,000 decisions for Christ”.

This year’s video features Saturday, as well as former Colts teammate Hunter Smith and NFL’s leading tackler this past season, London Fletcher of the Washington Redskins and Heath Evans, most recently with the New Orleans Saints.

The Super Bowl is a great platform to share faith, too,  Check out this CBN video from 2 years ago as the Colts and Saints prepared to face off in Super Bowl LXIV.

You can check out the video at this link:

http://dl2.cbn.com/cbnplayer/cbnPlayer.swf?s=/vod/SB92v1_WS

Here are some thoughts and lessons I take from Saturday’s story.
1- No backup plan – I’ve heard it said “wanna make God smile?  tell him your plans”.  We all have our ideas of how our lives should work out  – and isn’t it interesting how things rarely go the way we see it happening.  When we put our own desires out of the picture and set our lives to live for the things of God, He can and will use us for his purposes. I think this is a great story of how God will get our attention – even if how He does it causes us panic and anxiety.  Saturday had no plan B.  He was going to come out of college and play pro football.  But he went undrafted, and then cut from the tryout he did get.  He spent a year out of football re-evaluating life.  In that time (with some help from his mother, as seen earlier) he significantly changed things in his life that needed changing.  And as he gave his life to God, and changed some of those things, God granted Saturday another chance.  And Saturday, with a new awareness of God, took that new chance with a new outlook – One that tends to focus on God and furthering His Kingdom.  What will God need to do to get our attention back on Him?

2- Prayer Warrior – Saturday refers to his mother by this name in one of the articles.  This challenged me to be more fervant in praying for my 2 girls. As they get older, they will face more and more of this world and its trappings and temptations.  I can do whatever I can to try and equip them to deal with these well.  But I cannot make their decisions for them.  I cannot always keep them from mistakes, harm and hard things.  But I believe in a God that can help them deal with whatever life brings their way.  I am flawed but God is perfect.  The best thing I can do for my kids is to pray for them and live a life that represents God well. I can imagine the heartache that comes from watching a son or daughter making bad choiced or rejecting God’s path.  I pray that they will not stray far and if they do, they will hurry back to Him.

3-  Power to Win – I want to take a moment to commend Sports Spectrum for their efforts to share God’s love to an audience that may not know Him.  Sports are a great wall breaker.  People are drawn to sports, passionate about their favorite players / teams. Record numbers of peope will watch the Super Bowl.  Tapping into that with relevant, interesting stories and testimonies could catch the attention of someone that would not go looking for God anywhere.  Check out their website, for more info.   I watched these videos 15 years ago at a Super Bowl party.  They are great for encouraging believers and drawing in unbelievers.  I pray for more lives to be touched this year through the Power to Win!

In Saturday’s own words:
“This is a huge platform [but] without a purpose it really means nothing. Christianity is what defines me. My life hopefully glorifies Him and I give Him all the credit and honor.” “God is never going to have a shortfall of men who are going to put His message out there,”

Christians in the NFL – Lessons learned from Davone Bess – Miami Dolphins

For my 24th installment in this blog series on Christians in the NFL, we head to South Beach and check out the story of Davone Bess – Dolphins Wide Receiver

I first became a fan of Davone Bess when I watched him as the favorite target for Colt Brennan on the high powered University of Hawaii Warriors a few years back.  He had a stellar college career and the games that they played were a treat to watch if you like highlight reel worthy long TD passes.  I didn’t know until recently that the experience of watching them play only happened because Hawaii’s coach took a chance on Bess.

Bess’ story is about a young man, dealt a load of difficult circumstances in life, and making some bad choices of his own.  He found himself at a crossroads facing a choice that would affect the rest of his life. Would he give up and succumb to the life of crime that so many around him were into, or would he work to find a way out?
He was born to a teenage mom in an impoverished part of Oakland CA.  A town with a reputation of mean streets and dreams dying young, if not the dreamer himself.  Sports was an outlet for him and a chance for him to find a safe haven from the crime and violence that surrounded him.  And he took that outlet for the most part.  He looked like he was going to escape the challenges of his neighborhood when Oregon State offered him a football scholarship.  But then, a poor choice brought all of that crashing down around him.  He was hanging out with some friends, driving them around.  They were pulled over by cops and then arrested for possession of stolen goods.  Scholarship?  Gone! Opportunity? Gone! Freedom? Gone!  15 months in a juvenile facility!  15 months to figure out what the rest of his life would be like.

Check out his full story here in this feature that can be found on his website 

http://www.youtube-nocookie.com/v/P0ND33nRQeE?version=3&hl=en_US&rel=0

Bess took the second chance afforded to him when Hawaii offered to look at his tapes from high school and from his play with the 7-man flag football team he played with at the boys’ facility.  And he has parlayed that second chance into a nice career so far as a starter and reliable receiver on the Miami Dolphins.

Davone Bess Digging Ditches
in Costa Rica

These days, Bess fills his spare time with opportunities to impact young people in the community and around the world.
He spent part of the lockout last off season working hard in Costa Rica, as you can read in this interview with Chad Bonham at Inspiring Athletes.

He has also begun a mentoring program called “Bess Friends” which pairs high school kids with elementary kids in the community to provide them with positive examples and at the same time, develop leadership skills among the High Schoolers.  And as you can read in this article from smartguymovement  Bess encourages the kids that he meets to “stick to their dreams and have faith in God”.

Here are some lessons that came to mind from Bess’ story.
1- Own up to your bad choices, and make the best of your situation.  Bess could have made a different choice.  He was incarcerated for the stolen goods that his friends had taken and brought to his car.  He could have blamed them and shut down.  He could have decided that since he had lost his scholarship, he could give up on his dream and take the “easy” road that surrounded him.  He could have hardened himself during his incarceration and let it get the best of him.  Instead, he reached out to an old coach for help.  One of the first things he had to do, though, was admit that he did something wrong.  We have some responsibility to keep ourselves out of situations that can leave us in trouble.  He wasn’t careful – and it cost him.
But once it did, he sought to make something good out of it.  I am reminded a little of the story of Joseph in Genesis.  Joseph was thrown in prison (although Joseph was completely innocent of the crimes he was accused of). Like Bess, Joseph had a choice.  Shut down, do his time and let the experience get the best of him.  Or, like Bess, get to prison and get to work.  Joseph made himself an important part of the prison.  He was helpful, and God used him.  Bess decided to use his 15 months in the juvenile facility to better himself (workouts and playing on a football team), but he was also an important resource for the other boys in the facility.  He helped them, listened to them and guided them on a path that would help them out.  Joseph was then raised to a position of power and influence in Egypt and became an important person put in a place to help a lot of people in a time of great need.  Bess shares some of these characteristics, too.  Bess is now in a place of great influence and is using that influence to help people in a time when positive role models are needed.

2- Serve others and create a legacy of service – Through his foundation and even in his volunteering in Costa Rica, Bess has learned the joys that come in serving others.  Not only is Bess serving, but he is giving others an opportunity to serve people, too.  Serving others helps us know God because loving others and serving them is at the very heart of who God is.  Even if the people that are serving don’t know God, something about serving others will touch their heart.  God can use any experience to draw people to Him.

3- Look at the graphic for the Bess Friends Mentorship Program.  You can read it as a guide to a Christian life, too.  Here are the 7 points:
1-Serving others will help you gain perspective as you look at the world beyond yourself.
2- Mentoring others gives us a chance to share our lives with others.  Doing so, we may see that the hard things that we have gone through can help or encourage others and we will see that everything does happen for a reason.
3- Live in the now! (Do not worry about tomorrow – Matthew 6)
4- give 100% into what you are doing (Colossians 3.23)
5- Control your Ego (Proverbs 18.12)
6- Stop Hating, start living (John 13.34-35)
7- The Truth needs no Defense (John 8.32-33)

I pray that God speaks through these 7 statements to everyone in this program.  They certainly speak to me.

Christians in the NFL – Lessons learned from Chris Kelsay – Buffalo Bills

This is the 23rd installment in my blog series of Christians in the NFL.  Today, we will look at the story of Chris Kelsay, Linebacker for the Buffalo Bills.

I have written a couple of posts about fatherhood here at Living Up. This is a post I wrote about Devin Hester and his heart for reaching out to dads through his monthly magazine column.  In fact the first blog post that I ever wrote for this blog was some thoughts I had on being a dad – one of the best aspects of my life.  I have 2 beautiful girls and my love for them grows every day.  They are important parts of my life, and so if I get a chance to draw some attention to the importance of being a good dad, I will take it because I can always use the reminder.

What I really enjoy about digging in to these stories is that it provides an opportunity to see these people more as people.  It is easy to watch a game and think of them as almost as video game characters.  They entertain, they are easy to watch and cheer for, or to yell at and criticize. But then when the channel changes or the game ends, so do our thoughts about them,  We limit them to what we see on the field and unless they have a run in with the law or something like that, we don’t really think of them again until next kickoff.  But when you take a look into their lives and see who they are and what they consider important – it humanizes them and in the case of the people you will read about in this blog, it gives some insight into how God is using them.

Chris Kelsay was a second round draft pick in 2003 by the Buffalo Bills as a Defensive End.  A couple of years ago, he made the move to Outside Linebacker.  He has been a starter for them since midway through his second season.  He is known as a good pass rusher and solid tackler.  He has been voted as a team captain for the Nebraska Cornhuskers in college and for the Bills as a Pro, and was also the Bills recipient of the Ed Block Courage Award.  The Ed Block Courage Award is presented to the player who exemplifies a commitment to the principles of sportsmanship and courage.  The recipient symbolizes professionalism, great strength, dedication and serves as a community role model for others.

Kelsay is very active in the community.  His community work includes weekly visits to Kids Escaping Drugs, a long term residential treatment facility for teens with drug and/or alcohol addictions in West Seneca, NY.  He has also been involved with the Circle of Friends program, which is designed to give once in a lifetime opportunities to children faced with cancer.  He also established the Chris Kelsay TACKLE Foundation, which helps pediatric cancer patients.
He is a spokesperson for All Pro Dads, an organization that challenges Fathers to take fatherhood as a serious responsibility and offers resources to dads on how to do just that.
He also joined a  dozen other Bills at “Bills Night Out” – a  in an Athletes in Action sponsored Outreach where players share their faith journey.  Then a Gospel message is presented.  This year, over 50 people prayed to accept Christ into their lives.

On top of all of this, Kelsay is a family man.  He and his wife Natalie have 3 young children.  Harper, Avery and Rhett.  You can read a great Father’s Day article about the Kelsay family life in this here at proplayerinsiders.com.   In this article, we can read about the joys and trials that Kelsay and his family have faced and what he sees as important roles a father must play in the lives of his children.

Here are some thoughts God brought to my attention through these stories.
1-  Role Modeling –   In the Father’s Day article, Kelsay talks about how important it is for him as a dad, to show love and a healthy marriage to his kids.  Athletes are often thought of as role models, but sometimes we forget that like the rest of us fathers, the most important influence we can have is over our own children.  First and foremost, the place we need to set an example is at home.

2- Parenting –  I like the name of the article – Protector, Provider, Guide.  These are three important roles, but it is not a complete list.  The roles that we play in the lives of our children as their parents is vast and vital.  This is a humbling thing for us as parents because there is no books to read or courses to take or handbook that will prepare us for what we will face as parents.  I am still figuring it out.  I suffer from inconsistency, letting my emotional state affect how I interact with my kids from time to time.  I can be lenient when discipline is needed and strict when grace is needed.  I am constantly reminded how I need to look to my heavenly father for guidance to parent my own children.  But He is a great example to look to.  A couple months ago, with the kids at church, we discussed father’s roles in our lives and then compared the father in the Prodigal Son, to see if he fit all those roles (He did).  Our heavenly father doesn’t fumble with a handbook and stumble through parental roles with us.  He loves us unconditionally, disciplines us lovingly, and takes joy in giving us good gifts.

3- Hard Things – It breaks your heart when your child goes through hard things.  This isn’t a new thought – I would do anything to keep my girls from hurt or hard things.  But it reminds me of God’s love for us.  He sent his Son to take our place and suffer for our sins because he knew that bad things were coming.  Our sinfulness had us on the path to ultimate torment and destruction.  And in doing so, we now can have direct personal access to Him.  We can know that He is with us and will never forsake us.  It breaks His heart when we are hurt or make bad choices but like the kids in our story know their daddy loves them and will be there for them in whatever way he can, we can be sure of the same thing with God.  He is with us when life gets hard (he is with us when life is going smoothly, too – lets keep that in mind)

Bills Night Out

4- Bills Night Out.  We read about Bills champlain Fred Raines, who has been on the job for 15 years with the Bills.  It struck me as I read the end of the story that the Bills have been through 9 coaching changes in the 15 years and of course every year has some roster turnover.  What really was made clear to me is how  important the job Fred Raines and other sport team chaplains do really is.  There is a lot of personell changes, job uncertainty and career threatening injuries that players have to deal with.  Add to that the issues and temptations that come with lucrative pay checks, fame and recognition of the NFL life, and family/marriage issues that everyone faces and it seems really important that there would be some continuity in the lives of these pro athletes – A constant presence shining God’s light in the mission field of professional sports.