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The Fellowship of Christian Athletes engages coaches and athletes to grow in their faith and sport.

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Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Love

I’m going to expose my Texas roots by the end of this devotional…

As a child, I was extremely emotional. I would immediately melt down in a puddle of tears at the slightest hint that my father was angry with or disappointed in me. Although my attitude didn’t always show it, I wanted nothing more than to please him.

He was – and still is – a larger than life figure. I looked up to him so much – and still do. Some of my favorite memories with my dad are memories of country music blasting through the speakers of his tan 1994 GMC Sierra. His beautiful voice sang along with the melody, and I watched with amazement, still too shy to sing along.

I can’t narrow it down a specific example, but I’m certain, at some point during many years of many road trips, we listened to a song entitled, “Love Without End, Amen.”

This song was released by country music legend, George Strait, on April 6, 1990. Later that year, it became a #1 hit.

I’ve probably listened to “Love Without End, Amen” 1,000 times, but as I listened to it a couple months ago, two of the last three sentences caught my attention. They go like this:

“You see daddies don’t just love their children every now and then. It’s a love without end, amen.”

As I look back on my childhood, I see the truth of those lyrics on display, “Daddies don’t just love their children every now and then. It’s a love without end, amen.”

My father didn’t just love me every now and then. He didn’t love me any more when I was good than when I was bad. Even in the midst of anger or disappointment, his love for me was unchanging. His love was unconditional and unending. I did nothing to deserve it other than be his son.

I wonder how many people know that this is how God loves them?

The last verse to “Love Without End, Amen” goes like this:

“Last night I dreamed I’d died and stood outside those pearly gates. When suddenly I realized there must be some mistake. If they know half the things I’ve done, they’ll never let me in. Then somewhere from the other side, I heard these words again. And they said, ‘Let me tell you a secret about a father’s love. A secret that my daddy said was just between us. You see daddies don’t just love their children every now and then. It’s a love without end, amen. It’s a love without end, amen.”

There is so much truth in these words.

God doesn’t just love us every now and then. He doesn’t love us any more when we are good than when we are bad. Even in the midst of anger or disappointment, his love for us is unchanging. His love is unconditional and unending. We did nothing to deserve it other than be his children.

John 3:16 – For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.

Romans 5:8 – But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.

Psalm 86:15 – But You, O Lord, are a God merciful and gracious, Slow to anger and abundant in lovingkindness and truth.

YouTube video of “Love Without End, Amen”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RwOT6hjyexQ

The story behind the song: https://www.tennessean.com/story/entertainment/music/2014/03/28/aaron-barker-love-without-end-amen/6980869/

-Tristan Griffin

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Wednesday, July 25, 2018 

Composure

“Now may the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times in every way. The Lord be with you all.”

2 Thessalonians 3:16(ESV)

Fans roaring, clock running down, muscles aching, and your teammates are depending on you! In sports we are commonly faced with these types of pressures and then some. Often times, our coaches will help combat these pressures with the simple reminder: “Don’t lose your head” or “Stay Calm.”

Why is that simple phrase so important? What happens when we lose our head on the field or the court? We become overwhelmed, forget our assignment, miss our block, and ultimately become discouraged.

Now if you’re anything like me, you know that staying calm in tense situations is easier said then done; so, what can we do to help us with this? Let’s look at a time when the disciples were under extreme pressure and tension:

 35 That day when evening came, he said to his disciples, “Let us go over to the other side.” 36 Leaving the crowd behind, they took him along, just as he was, in the boat. There were also other boats with him. 37 A furious squall came up, and the waves broke over the boat, so that it was nearly swamped. 38 Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion. The disciples woke him and said to him, “Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?”

39 He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Quiet! Be still! ”Then the wind died down and it was completely calm.

40 He said to his disciples, “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?”

41 They were terrified and asked each other, “Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey him!” (Mark 4:35-41)(NIV)

As seen, the disciples were afraid and overwhelmed. This heightened the situation and caused them to feel even more pressure, but then Jesus spoke three simple words and the storm was calm. When we are faced with serious storms, pressure, and tension, whether on the field or within any area of our life, let’s take just a moment to Stay… Calm… listen to the voice of our “coach” and trust that our God is big enough to not only bring us through our storm but also allow us to face them with equanimity!

Equanimity: Mental calmness, composure, and evenness of temper, especially in a difficult situation.

- Tyler Barney 

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Wednesday, July 11,2018

Reckless

 “For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” - 2 Corinthians 5:21 (ESV)

If you listen to Christian music at all, you have likely heard the song “Reckless Love” quite often in the past few months. I have heard it, I have sang it, and until the last few weeks, it was just another new song that I liked, but it didn’t grab me, it didn’t make me connect to Jesus in any profound way. However, over the last few weeks, this song has taken on new meaning when I hear it. Here’s why:

A few weeks ago, at the recommendation of a friend, Jake and I watched the movie, The Shack. I know this movie has received mixed reviews from the Christian community, and I’m not here to engage in those debates. I just want to zero in on one particular part that gave me a new understanding of God’s “reckless” love for me. There is a scene in the movie about judgement and in this scene, an angel asks the main character to make a choice. She puts his two kids in front of him and says: “You must choose which one will go to Heaven and which one will go to hell.” As a father, he pleads over and over that there is no way that he can make this choice. It’s just too hard. Yet, she continues to tell him that he must make the choice. Eventually, he says: “I can’t do it, just take me instead. Let them go to heaven, take me to hell.” As I watched this scene, it hit me – this is exactly what God did. He looked at each of us, His beloved children, who He loves more than we could ever comprehend, and He could not fathom the thought of sending a single one of us to hell. Yet, He knew that the price had to be paid, justice had to be done. So, He sent His Son to take our place. He paid the price, so that none of us would have to.

What also hit me was that even though their father did this, either one of his kids could still reject it. They could choose hell anyway. It broke my heart to think about God – having made such a sacrifice to save every one of us – He watches many of His children reject this gift and choose hell anyway. I had just never thought about it in this way before. His love is so reckless that He made the unthinkable sacrifice, knowing that many would still reject it. This is just incomprehensible to me.

So now, as I hear this song, I am overwhelmed with thankfulness at the sacrifice that was made for me. I am overwhelmed at how much He loves me. I am overwhelmed at the lengths He has gone to have a relationship with me. I am humbled to think of how anyone could love me that much – knowing the great depths of my sin – He doesn’t just accept me if I show up at his doorstep, He chases me, He fights for me, He goes to any extreme He has to, just to have me with Him. That’s Reckless.

Reckless Love

Cory Asbury

Before I spoke a word, You were singing over me
You have been so, so good to me
Before I took a breath, You breathed Your life in me
You have been so, so kind to me

Oh, the overwhelming, never-ending, reckless love of God
Oh, it chases me down, fights 'til I'm found, leaves the ninety-nine
I couldn't earn it, and I don't deserve it, still, You give Yourself away
Oh, the overwhelming, never-ending, reckless love of God, yeah

When I was Your foe, still Your love fought for me
You have been so, so good to me
When I felt no worth, You paid it all for me
You have been so, so kind to me

And oh, the overwhelming, never-ending, reckless love of God
Oh, it chases me down, fights 'til I'm found, leaves the ninety-nine
And I couldn't earn it, and I don't deserve it, still, You give Yourself away
Oh, the overwhelming, never-ending, reckless love of God, yeah

There's no shadow You won't light up
Mountain You won't climb up
Coming after me
There's no wall You won't kick down
Lie You won't tear down
Coming after me
There's no shadow You won't light up
Mountain You won't climb up
Coming after me
There's no wall You won't kick down
Lie You won't tear down
Coming after me
There's no shadow You won't light up
Mountain You won't climb up
Coming after me
There's no wall You won't kick down
Lie You won't tear down
Coming after me
There's no shadow You won't light up
Mountain You won't climb up
Coming after me
There's no wall You won't kick down
Lie You won't tear down
Coming after me

Oh, the overwhelming, never-ending, reckless love of God
Oh, it chases me down, fights 'til I'm found, leaves the ninety-nine
And I couldn't earn it, I don't deserve it, still, You give Yourself away
Oh, the overwhelming, never-ending, reckless love of God, yeah

- Hannah Calhoun 

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Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Freedom

What does it mean to be free? Some people think it means to be able to do what you want with no rules involved. As Christians, being free in Christ means that you have the privilege to be free of the chains of sin, because Jesus died in place of our sins. It means that you can live free from the weight of sin dragging you down. It also, means that you have the freedom to choose to do good. One way you can use God’s freedom through Christ is to choose good by serving others. In Galatians 5:13, it says, “You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use that freedom to indulge in the flesh; rather serve one another humbly in love.” God created us, and He knows what is best for us. He knows how we will be most satisfied, most fulfilled, and most joyful. He knows that when we serve others, we focus on others instead of ourselves. He also knows that when we are others-focused, we use our freedom to choose to live the way He intended us to. The freedom that Christ gives each of us every day is something to be treasured and used to love and serve others. In John 13:14-15, Jesus spoke to His disciples saying, “If I, therefore, the master and teacher, have washed your feet, you ought to wash one another’s feet. I have given you a model to follow, so that as I have done for you, you should also do.” Thinking about freedom in this sense of serving, on your team, each of you can use the freedom God has given you to play your sport and use your talents to serve others on your team, on and off the court. That may look different for each person, but I challenge you to think of ways you can serve those on your team, so you can fully embrace the gift of freedom Christ has given.

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Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Imagine with me for a bit. Imagine that baseball, America’s pastime, was once a sport free from cheaters. No one was using performance-enhancing drugs. Everyone was playing by the rules. It was a perfect game. Players were happy. Fans were thrilled. All was good.

Now, fast forward with me to 1998. This was an epic season for baseball fans. A mammoth of a man named Mark McGwire squared off with another human giant, Sammy Sosa, in a home-run battle over the course of the season that inspired even the most casual of baseball fans. Balls were flying out of stadiums like rockets launched into space. The entire country tuned in to watch McGwire launch his 62nd home run over the left-field fence to break Roger Maris’s single-season home run record that stood for 37 years prior to that day. McGwire ended up with 70 home runs that season. He shattered the record and the expectations of baseball fans.

Despite the amazing show put on by McGwire and Sosa, as I reflect upon the 1998 season, I can’t help but think, “McGwire’s accomplishment deserves an asterisk.” His feat was imperfect. He was using performance-enhancing drugs. He cheated. He broke the rules of baseball. He didn’t live up to the standard of perfection. McGwire’s feat will be forever imperfect, forever blemished.

The Bible tells us of a similar blemish in Romans 3:23. It reads, “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.” According to the Bible, all humans, like McGwire, have cheated. We’ve missed the mark. We’ve broken the rules. We’ve all fallen short of God’s perfect standard.

The consequences for falling short of that standard are death.* To fall short of God’s perfect standard is to spend eternity in misery (a.k.a. hell). As cheaters, we don’t get our name written in God’s book of life. If we were McGwire, we’d be excluded from the record book forever. We’d be left to wallow in our misery. We’d be forgotten.

But there is another page in this story. This page contains news of hope for all humans. This page contains news of Jesus Christ. According to the Bible, God sent Jesus Christ to earth so we would not have to spend eternity in misery, but so we could spend eternity in bliss alongside God.** Jesus Christ, the true home-run king, came to earth, and without any performance-enhancing drugs, set a record that no human will ever come close to breaking. He didn’t cheat. He didn’t break any of God’s rules. He lived up to God’s standard of perfection. And he did all of this not so he could see his own name in the record book, but so he could see our names in the record book. He lived perfectly, died innocently, and rose from death into eternal bliss (a.k.a. heaven) so you and I could spend eternity in bliss alongside God. He shattered the record, and then he told the record keeper to write our names in the record book. He gave himself up for us because he loves us.***

What does Jesus ask in return? He asks us to believe on our deepest levels that he is who he says he is and that he has done what he says he has done.**** He wants us to begin our journey toward eternal bliss by engaging in a relationship with him now. He wants us to believe in him and follow in his footsteps. He wants us to think as he thinks and act as he acts.***** He wants us to trust in him and surrender our way of living. He wants us to replace our way of living with his way of living. Why? Because he knows that our way of living leads to eternal misery and his way of living leads to eternal bliss.****** He loves us. He wants what is best for us.

He wants us to know that we don’t have to cheat anymore. He wants us to know that the record is ours. It will always be ours. We simply have to accept it. Once we do, we might consider playing clean for the rest of our playing career as a tip of the cap to Jesus for what he has done for us.

There will come a day when those who fall short of God’s perfect standard will be wiped from the face of the earth. There will come a day when baseball will be free from cheaters once more. No one will be using performance-enhancing drugs. Everyone will be playing by the rules. It will be a perfect game. God wants you on the team. Play ball!

* Romans 6:23 – For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

** John 3:16 – For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

*** John 15:13 – Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends; John 10:11 – I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep.

**** Romans 10:9-10 – That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation; Romans 10:13 – For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.

***** James 2:19-20 – Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble. But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead?

****** John 10:10 – The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy; I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.

-Tristan Griffin

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Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Goodness

Psalm 31:19 “Oh, how abundant is your goodness, which you have stored up for those who fear you, and worked for those who take refuge in you. 

Let me encourage you today that the goodness of the Lord is abundant. It is infinite. It is never-ending and never-failing. As we take refuge in Him from the storms of this life, He desires to pour out His goodness in our lives. Even when the storms we are walking through seem anything but good, God is working His goodness in us and through us. He is transforming us to be more like Him. He is giving us a story to encourage others and ultimately to bring glory to Him. Take some time to reflect on the abundant goodness of our God. Praise Him for it and ask Him to give you eyes to see His goodness in whatever circumstances you find yourself walking through today.

- Hannah Calhoun

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Selfless

During my years as a college football coach, I coached the receivers. Most people think receivers are the guys who catch the football. The receivers I coached knew differently. Some of my receivers played an upwards of 70 plays in a single game. It was rare if any of them caught more than 10 balls during one game. They spent the other 60 plays not catching the football, but blocking for others who were running with the football.

Over 80% of the time, receivers aren’t the guys who catch the ball. They are the guys who block.

A good block is one of the most selfless acts a football player can perform. As his teammate is running down the field trying to score a touchdown, the blocking receiver must put his ego aside. He must put forth an all-out effort to keep the defender in front of him from tackling his teammate. The blocking receiver must adopt a “not me, but you” mentality. He must think to himself, “This is not about my glory. It is not about me scoring a touchdown and receiving all the praise. This is about me laying my body on the line so my teammate can score a touchdown and receive all the praise.” This mentality makes for a good receiver and a good teammate.

In John 15:13, Jesus says, “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” The life of Jesus Christ exemplifies the “not me, but you” mentality. Rather than block a defender so we could score a touchdown, Jesus lived a perfect life, died an excruciating death, and rose from the grave so you and I could spend eternity in heaven. He truly laid down his life for you and me. In football terms, Jesus performed a vicious crack-back block on death. He decleated sin.

As a former receivers coach, I love a great block. Nothing excites me more on the football field. As a human, I love what Christ did for me. Nothing excites me more in life.

John 15:13 – Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.

- Tristan Griffin

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