On a cold New Year's Eve, a poor young girl tries to sell matches in the street. She is already shivering from cold and early hypothermia, and she is walking barefoot having lost her shoes. Still, she is too afraid to go home, because her father will beat her for not selling any matches, and also as the cracks in the house can't keep out the cold wind. The girl takes shelters in a nook or alley and sits down.
The girl lights the matches to warm herself. In their glow she sees several lovely visions, including a Christmas tree and a holiday feast. The girl looks skyward and sees a shooting star; she then remembers her dead grandmother saying that such a falling star means someone is dying and is going to Heaven. As she lights the next match, she sees a vision of her grandmother, the only person to have treated her with love and kindness. She strikes one match after another to keep the vision of her grandmother alive for as long as she can.
After running out of matches the child dies, and her grandmother carries her soul to Heaven. The next morning, passers-by find the child dead in the nook, frozen with a smile on her face, and guess the reason for the burnt-out matches beside her. They feel pity for her, although they had not shown kindness to her before her death. They have no way of knowing about the wonderful visions she saw before her death or how gloriously she and her grandmother are now celebrating the New Year in Heaven.
Saturday, December 08, 2018
Saturday, December 01, 2018
I have also had a chance to have some amazing and productive discussions with coaches, parents, and students at my school as well.
And though I am still learning, I have felt inspired to write out some thoughts on what I call, Cannibalizing Your Team. Cannibalization is literally 'eating your own team'. And cannibals can be found among any and all parts of a team or surrounding community.
By the way, the cannibals are always there..... human nature is always breeding more. The existence of cannibals is not deadly unless there are too many OR the cannibals are KEY CONSTITUENTS of a team or organization.
Cannibals eat away so many things.... but the overall impact is a loss of opportunity, a loss of positive momentum/energy, or the erosion of core values.
I once worked with a coach ( a great coach by the way) who was very upset about the way we did a certain aspect of our football team. This practice was a by-product of a fundamental piece of our philosophy.
As the season went on, he would say in the head-sets, "This is not going to go well". And he said it EVERY SINGLE TIME the game situation dictated that decision because of our philosophy. And this went on.... game 1, game 2, game 3,4,5,6..... and then, in game 7... his prediction finally happened. Oh my goodness!....the 'I TOLD YOU SO' that came from him was as loud and obnoxious as any I have ever even IMAGINED.
The next coaches meeting, he was armed and ready. When we got to that place in the film, it was obvious that the decision was what it was.... but the execution of the decision was the major problem for failure.
I stopped the film.... "you know... I have been listening to you on the head-set for 7 games in a row. You have predicted this EVERY SINGLE time. Your prediction FINALLY happened... but that is like me predicting rain everyday during a five year drought until it finally rains for 5 minutes. Congratulations!" You could have cut the tension with a knife.
And that coach did not stay in the program after the season was over. As good a coach as he was, his unwillingness to buy into this was a constant corrosion. He wanted to be SO RIGHT... that he was DEAD RIGHT.
WORK TO MAKE IT WORK
Here is an OPPOSITE illustration of this.
In 1999, we lost our ALL-State Tailback on a freak play to a torn ACL... the last play of the first half. It was mid-season, we lost the game, and people were beginning to wonder if we could win back-to-back state titles. It looked doubtful.
We played two more games with a quality back-up and personnel packages and won those. But we were not the dynamic offense we had been. We still had an elite defense and as far as our record, we were still a favorite to win it all.
Our head coach, Fred Yancey, surprised all of us in week 8 of the regular season by announcing a DRAMATIC move. We were going to take our starting SAM linebacker and move him to Fullback and move our Fullback to Tailback. What made this even more startling is that neither player had played those positions ALL YEAR! And the linebacker had never run with the football in his entire football life!
Immediately, there was the typical assistant coaching pushback...but Coach Yancey was adamant. This was a HC decision and he walked out.
I was offensive coordinator... but both defensive assistants AND offensive assistants kept pressing me to change Coach Yancey's mind.
I simply looked at them and said, "Guys, this is his team.. this is his decision. So, we have two choices.... gripe and moan OR get to work to make this work." And we did.
Now don't get me wrong... THIS WAS NOT EASY... and the early results were flat ugly... but we worked it with positive energy and we won the State Championship. The tailback was MVP of the game and the fullback scored on 3rd and goal at a critical time early in the game.
Winners, champions, and competitors learn early in their battles that cannibals never win. Dream killers and blame game hand wringers are always examples of self-fulfilling prophecies.
We do it to coaches as well..... I wonder how many programs would be more successful if they embraced their coach instead of tearing him down in endless opining of opinions. You know what a good play call is? One that works. And a bad play call doesn't.
I'm not saying that you never make changes... but I KNOW of teams who stole away their opportunities to be good because of cannibalism.
Now, one more important point is this. A lack of virtue is a type of cannibalism. we live in a world that seeks to tear down our rivals.
COMPETING WITH CLASS AND HONOR
Coach Bryant taught the State of Alabama to do it differently. He taught me as a fan and later, as a player to show class and respect toward the opponent. It is more honorable to beat a worthy opponent than to beat an unworthy one.
But we tweet 'hate week', and we spew venom, and we ridicule and mock the opposing team... so is it really a great victory if we beat them?
An example 1965 ALABAMA:
Alabama opened against Georgia on a blistering hot day in Athens for the 1965 season. Tom Brakefield was with the Bear Bryant show film crew, wiping away sweat, and enjoying every snap of a fierce contest pitting Coach Bryant against Vince Dooley.
Even though Alabama struggled all day, even going in at halftime down 10-0, Alabama rallied in the 2nd half and took a late 17-10 lead.
What took place next in the game was recently ranked by The Bleacher Report as #3 of the 12 greatest plays in college football history.
Coach Dooley called it 'flea flicker' but today is more known as a 'hook and lateral'. Kirby Moore threw the ball to Pat Hodgson who then flicked it to Bob Taylor who ran for a 73 yard touchdown to bring the score to 17-16. Georgia converted the 2 point extra points to win 18-17!
The problem was.... it looked very clear to the Alabama faithful that Pat Hodgson's knee was down, thus making the play 'dead' on the catch and the touchdown should have been disallowed!
Tom Brakefield saw a clean angle and knew he had a camera all over it. He carefully noticed which canister was going to have the field level proof!
Sure, enough, the Bear Bryant Show crew had indisputable video evidence that 'Bama had been robbed by the Bulldogs!
When Coach Bryant came in that Sunday morning to prepare for the live telecast that afternoon, he shocked everyone! As soon as he saw the clip he stopped and said as clear and forceful as he could:
"Men, I never have won a game on Sunday because of film. Please take this clip out and give it to me."
When the show went live from Channel 13 that Sunday, Coach Bryant taught the entire state on how to lose with class.
And Tom Brakefield used it to teach an even bigger lesson!
"You want to know the biggest part of that story? We lost to Georgia, we TIED Tennessee- but still upset Nebraska in the Orange Bowl to win the National Championship. At Alabama, Coach Bryant started a lesson that, even today, we understand.... if you do it right... you always have a chance!"
WHAT ABOUT YOU?
I am going to make a plea to every athlete, coach, and parent reading this. Don't be a cannibal! Don't be that person who always focuses on the flaws. Don't create small circles of whiners and complainers who whisper in the dark and throw darts.
A winner is hopeful... even to the very last snap, he believes he can find a way to win. And in the end, that relentless optimism gave him MORE of a chance... where a doubtful pessimist robbed his team of the opportunity.
Competition with honor is rewarding... win or lose.
Winning without honor... is never really a victory.
Wednesday, October 31, 2018
THE REFORMATION IS STILL NEEDED:
“ I cannot shape truth; I know of no such thing as paring off the rough edges of a doctrine.” C.H. Spurgeon
A subjective faith is really NOT the gospel. The gospel is ground into space, time, and history of a true man, proclaiming a true message, suffering a true cross, and was exalted by a true resurrection. This is not a 'feels like' faith. This is not a 'seems like' lifestyle. This is simply, Jesus is Lord and King and the Sole Substitute for sin and rebellion.
There is no way of getting around it: The American Religion is not Christianity. I'm not saying that Reformation Christians are the only people we'll see in Heaven, but I am saying that the American Religion is sub-Christian in many of the facets we've been considering over these past several weeks. And there's a common thread running through it all: Man-centeredness instead of God-centeredness; a theology of glory rather than a theology of the Cross; moralism instead of Christ; sentimentalism and pragmatism instead of the Gospel; marketing instead of truth.
Wednesday, October 17, 2018
1:37 “Everyone is looking for you”
1:47 “Yet the people still came to Him from everywhere”
2:2 “So many gathered, there was no room”
2:13 “A large crowd”
And the growing crowds always seem to increase the growing conflict.
Speculation regarding the questioners- ‘And people came ….” - human nature never really changes. Dishonest questions are as brutal now as they were then... were these people asking an honest question or was their question merely a cover for their already hardened hearts?
Jesus answers the questions by providing 3 illustrations:
Illustration 1- Wedding…… The Bridegroom will leave, but don't live in the future...celebrate the NOW.
Illustration 2- Patching a garment- the age of the patch needs to match the age of the garment and an improper repair (application) can be worse .
Illustration 3- Wineskins……again, new versus old. The new will need to stretch under pressure or the result will be great loss.
There are MANY principles from the passage: patience, authority, ritualism... but I wanted to focus on how we respond in conflict and criticism.
Negative opinions brew in the dark, they are spread in whisper campaigns
The Lord of Time
As humans, we don't do time very well..... I have always quipped...“God is never LATE….. but He is seldom early” . It is SO HARD to wait on Him. Can we embrace God’s sovereignty as it relates to HIS TIMING?
Never Aid, Comfort, or Enable the Enemy. If you participate in whisper campaigns or believe that your right to know is an entitlement, you are helping negativity to sap life out of all that is around you.
Saturday, October 06, 2018
As always, I am a firm believer in showing my cards early- I come from a conservative, reformed tradition of Christianity.... but I firmly believe the Bible has guided me there... Scripture has shaped my theology much MORE than theology has interpreted my Bible.
I first read "Christianity and Liberalism" by J. Gresham Machen in 1993 (it had been published in 1923) and I did a detailed study of it around 2010.
Sadly, I feel more and more like a dinosaur- his words are so powerful, but resonates so little in this current culture. Is there anyone who feels this pressing on them the way it presses on me?
I have copied his final few paragraphs of this very important work. Can there be some men who will rise up and once again proclaim the old time gospel? The true one? The one that sparked the reformation and changed the world?
From the last chapter, The Church:
The rejection of Christianity is due to various causes. But a very potent cause is simple ignorance.
Such measures are needed today. The present is a time not for ease or pleasure, but for earnest and prayerful work. A terrible crisis unquestionably has arisen in the Church. In the ministry of evangelical churches are to be found hosts of those who reject the gospel of Christ. By the equivocal use of traditional phrases, by the representation of differences of opinion as though they were only differences about the interpretation of the Bible, entrance into the Church was secured for those who are hostile to the very foundations of the faith. And now there are some indications that the fiction of conformity to the past is to be thrown off, and the real meaning of what has been taking place is to be allowed to appear. The Church, it is now apparently supposed, has almost been educated up to the point where the shackles of the Bible can openly be cast away and the doctrine of the Cross of Christ can be relegated to the limbo of discarded subtleties.
Yet there is in the Christian life no room for despair. Only, our hopefulness should not be founded on the sand. It should be founded, not upon a blind ignorance of the danger, but solely upon the precious promises of God. Laymen, as well as ministers, should return, in these trying days, with new earnestness, to the study of the Word of God.
If the Word of God be heeded, the Christian battle will be fought both with love and with faithfulness. Party passions and personal animosities will be put away, but on the other hand, even angels from heaven will be rejected if they preach a gospel different from the blessed gospel of the Cross. Every man must decide upon which side he will stand. God grant that we may decide aright!
What the immediate future may bring we cannot presume to say. The final result indeed is clear. God has not deserted His Church; He has brought her through even darker hours than those which try our courage now, yet the darkest hour has always come before the dawn. We have today the entrance of paganism into the Church in the name of Christianity. But in the second century a similar battle was fought and won. From another point of view, modern liberalism is like the legalism of the middle ages, with its dependence upon the merit of man. And another Reformation in God's good time will come.
But meanwhile our souls are tried. We can only try to do our duty in humility and in sole reliance upon the Savior who bought us with His blood. The future is in God's hand, and we do not know the means that He will use in the accomplishment of His will. It may be that the present evangelical churches will face the facts, and regain their integrity while yet there is time. If that solution is to be adopted there is no time to lose, since the forces opposed to the gospel are now almost in control. It is possible that the existing churches may be given over altogether to naturalism, that men may then see that the fundamental needs of the soul are to be satisfied not inside but outside of the existing churches, and that thus new Christian groups may be formed.
But whatever solution there may be, one thing is clear. There must be somewhere groups of redeemed men and women who can gather together humbly in the name of Christ, to give thanks to Him for His unspeakable gift and to worship the Father through Him. Such groups alone can satisfy the needs of the soul. At the present time, there is one longing of the human heart which is often forgotten--it is the deep, pathetic longing of the Christian for fellowship with his brethren. One hears much, it is true, about Christian union and harmony and co-operation. But the union that is meant is often a union with the world against the Lord, or at best a forced union of machinery and tyrannical committees. How different is the true unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace! Sometimes, it is true, the longing for Christian fellowship is satisfied. There are congregations, even in the present age of conflict, that are really gathered around the table of the crucified Lord; there are pastors that are pastors indeed. But such congregations, in many cities, are difficult to find. Weary with the conflicts of the world, one goes into the Church to seek refreshment for the soul. And what does one find? Alas, too often, one finds only the turmoil of the world. The preacher comes forward, not out of a secret place of meditation and power, not with the authority of God's Word permeating his message, not with human wisdom pushed far into the background by the glory of the Cross, but with human opinions about the social problems of the hour or easy solutions of the vast problem of sin. Such is the sermon. And then perhaps the service is closed by one of those hymns breathing out the angry passions of 1861, which are to be found in the back part of the hymnals. Thus the warfare of the world has entered even into the house of God, And sad indeed is the heart of the man who has come seeking peace.
Is there no refuge from strife? Is there no place of refreshing where a man can prepare for the battle of life? Is there no place where two or three can gather in Jesus' name, to forget for the moment all those things that divide nation from nation and race from race, to forget human pride, to forget the passions of war, to forget the puzzling problems of industrial strife, and to unite in overflowing gratitude at the foot of the Cross? If there be such a place, then that is the house of God and that the gate of heaven. And from under the threshold of that house will go forth a river that will revive the weary world.
Saturday, September 29, 2018
The reality of this has been a wild ride and I am still look at the circumstances of this adventure with a smile and incredulity.
The very fact that I am a fishing coach period is quite a story.... but let's stick with the origin of the show.
LAKE CAROLINE AND BRENT CHAPMAN
Coach Em Up ) in 2017 . We challenged Brent and he was familiar with that special lake in Louisville, AL. Getting to see a high quality show up close for filming was a beginning of this process. We loved getting to meet Brent, his family, and his amazing film crew.
But again, it was fun to be a part of that- but I would not have EVER thought I was interested in doing ANYTHING like that. In fact, I was super impressed with how hard it is to do!
Meeting Brent was a special time and it resulted in 3 more episodes of his show : One with Jack Flemming, one with Grayson Morris, and one with Aaron and Jordan Martens.
But the process was ahead.....It takes A LOT of time and planning to do a show right. And that doesn't count the equipment expense!
CONVERSATIONS ALONG THE WAY
I also have to link conversations I had with Coach David Cutcliffe, Brent Chapman producers Anthony Crivelli, and Tom Leogrande- and Montgomery, AL sports promoter, Doyle Powell all together about current culture, training young people, and how hard it is to target teens with messaging. Each conversation put some thoughts in my mind of how I can get better as a coach and help elevate our fishing program.
JIMMY HOUSTON AND PAT TURNER
That calling drives him to be an instructor and mentor of this sport he loves. Our similarities were not fishing as much as it is for educating and mentoring young people.
As we fished and filmed, we also talked about how to connect with teens- who really watch their peers on you tube more than connecting with a high profile 'star'.
Pat Turner, Jimmy Houston Outdoors producer, and I had a lengthy conversation about their network and his desire to create content to help young anglers.
The more we talked, the more I thought 'I don't know HOW I can pull this together, but we can do it."
WINNING EDGES IS BORN
When I got back to BCS in Feb, I talked with Coach Matthew Forester, the head of our school media class. Coach Forester and I had already been working together to use the creativity of his students to produce original content and graphics for our athletic programs.
The difficulty in producing our own show started with equipment- the quality we would want to produce wasn't gong to be cheap- so we put together a 'wish list' of audio, video, and editing needs.
The entire package was about $20,000. So immediately, the Lord was going to have to provide before we could even think about it.
GETTING OTHER SCHOOLS INVOLVED
That has been my favorite part of 'Winning Edges"- being around some amazing kids at other schools. High School fishing in Alabama is pretty cool- competitive? YES- but there is also a friendship between anglers at other schools. Even the college guys help the high school guys. We have a GREAT SPIRIT in fishing right now.... if I can get some of the parents to join us, it would be the healthiest competition I have ever been a part of.
PREMISE OF THE SHOW
The main mission of 'Winning Edges' is 'hands on' educational and inspirational video content. It provides an opportunity for our students to be creative and LEARN. It is as much video training as it is fishing training.
It helps us to showcase WHAT IS GREAT about high school fishing- God, Country, Fishing...and the relationships between schools is very healthy. Watching these guys compete, but also SUPPORT one another is impressive.
We also have great support from college anglers who are teaching and training the high school guys as well.
High school, college, and professional fishing is a very positive thing in our country today! Nothing is perfect of course, but we could not be happier with the support of some great pros like Aaron Martens, Randy Howell, and Brent Chapman along the way.
Also, the manufacturers are starting to realize it is possible to market to this generation by jumping into social media using the young guys as representatives.
ISSUES, PROBLEMS, AND CHALLENGES
So we started... we travelled to Pickwick, Logan, Caroline, and Lay Lake with student film crews. I did start to get donations and we just went with it. We had audio issues, camera shaking issues, and we were filming in the summer during VERY TOUGH conditions.
When we downloaded the hours of b-roll and digital sound... we all went "OH BOY!"
But Coach Forester never wavered, we split the students up into editing 'teams' and just had the guys " Here is your show- get going!". The result was cool- each episode has its own look and feel.
I am very pleased with the outcome- you can tell a difference in the early shows and the last ones- we are all getting better.
We filmed a lot in the summer, so we haven't gotten in a variety of techniques...but our plan is to film a minimum of 2 shows each fishing season (fall, winter, spring, and summer).
WINNING THE NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP
This was evident this past week where we were hosted by Shimano at the Bass Hall of Fame in Springfield, MO. Our guys were introduced to major leaders and personalities in the world of fishing.
I was able to talk a lot about Winning Edges and solicit advice about the project.
It also helps that Grayson and Tucker stopped at Drake of the way home and signed an apparel agreement with Drake Performance Fishing. We will be filming new shows featuring Shimano and Drake soon.
TV DEBUT- Mid to Late OCT 2018
So THIS will be up and going VERY SOON-