Monday, May 21, 2018

A Coach and Culture

Expectations Are Trained...patiently and intentionally.

One thing I am becoming more and more aware of is a need to train athletes on expectations and it requires a little more patience and a lot more individual time to educate these concepts. There just isn't a lot in culture right now that fosters the type of player you need to be to help a team succeed.

While we spent time this year talking to coaches about the difference in success and achievement…. This year will be conversations about what we need to do to influence team culture.

If our players aren't leading..... Are we training them how to?
If they aren't the best examples of classroom dedication, teacher respect, self discipline, and champions of the school mission.... who else is going to do those things?

And these aren't taught by lectures, they have to be framed and modeled throughout the program.

I developed a list a few years ago that tried to strike a comparison/contrast as another way of picturing the type of person we are trying to be.

Now, to use the term "Make Me Proud" or "Disappointing" does not work if I am not developing the type of relationship where that even matters.

I think it would be interesting to see if a team's leaders would make up a similar chart about coaches.... what makes them proud of me or what disappoints them. Here are some guesses.

Standing up and fighting for them.... makes them proud
Spending time with them to hang out.... makes them proud
Knowing a lot about them- family, girlfriend, interests.... makes them proud
Not mocking or demeaning them in front of their peers... makes them proud

And I think each coach always needs to ask a simple question...

What am I demanding in my life that is comparable to what I am demanding in theirs?

I love our coaches, they are truly on the front lines of a culture that is sending all the wrong signals, and they have to daily counter these loud and unproductive narratives.

It can be a frustrating fight… but well worth the effort!

Saturday, March 17, 2018

The Poison of Negativity

When we feel like grumbling and voicing complaints......

What does the Bible have to say?

Numbers 12

Miriam and Aaron spoke against Moses because of the Cushite woman whom he had married, for he had married a Cushite woman. 2 And they said, “Has the Lord indeed spoken only through Moses? Has he not spoken through us also?” And the Lord heard it.

So the first part is 'easy'- it is a general look at the general nature of complaining. But -'easy' is not so easy.

When you look at the Book of Numbers and put in in the context of all that is going on in the pentateuch- it is amazing to see the emergence of 'patterns' in the narrative. There seems to be a pattern of complaints- here the people complain- Moses listens- he goes to God- and then a response. There also seems to be a Pre- Mount Sinai atmosphere in the complaint cases and a Post- Mount Sinai atmosphere in the complaint cases.

(Side note: Our God is the author of patterns- patterns of predictability- and the very definition of 'miracle' is where He acts contrary to the established pattern. But the patterns in all of creation point to a designer. Order did not come out of chaos and to look at the patterns in nature/life and deny the Creator is a piece of the unforgivable sin- rejecting Jesus Christ.)

Numbers 12 comes right off Numbers 11 the 2nd complaint where the people grumble because they have no meat and God responds by cramming it down their throats (now there is much more to it than I have flippantly stated here).

But I need to mention a few pre-cursors about complaining from the Numbers 11 account and then jump into the brother and sister complaint here in Chapter 12.

I- Wide Range Grumbling/Complaining Takes a Toll on the Spirit of a People and on the Leaders of a People.

Notice how Moses seems to change throughout the episodes of complaining by the people. Before Sinai, the people are crying out about their needs (water) and their experience with God is relatively new and without written Law. Moses cries out to God on behalf of the people and God responds.

One issue here in getting to know God's modus-operendi - His habit of providing just enough in the nick of time. He often waits and provides closer to the point of failure. We don't like that- but He does it many times that way. Most of the time it is to teach us patience and grow our faith. I think a huge surprise in heaven will be how quickly we are lavished according to our wants- but at that point our wants are not corrupted. Remember, this life is 'training' and not leisure. Some people, refuse to acknowledge this part of God and can grow bitter toward God, losing the attitude of gratitude, and despising His 'just in time' provisions.

After Sinai, the people are grumbling about 'wants' and suggesting that 'we had it better in Egypt'. This is after a longer experience with God and after the giving of His LAW. And God deals with these circumstances in a harsher way.

And the biggest impact is on Moses himself-

Numbers 11: 11 iMoses said to the Lord, “Why have you dealt ill with your servant? And why have I not found favor in your sight, that you lay the burden of all this people on me? 12 Did I conceive all this people? Did I give them birth, that you should say to me, j‘Carry them in your bosom, as a nurse carries a nursing child,’ to the land that you swore to give their fathers? 13 Where am I to get meat to give to all this people? For they weep before me and say, ‘Give us meat, that we may eat.’ 14 I am not able to carry all this people alone; the burden is too heavy for me. 15 If you will treat me like this, kill me at once, if I find favor in your sight, that I may not see my wretchedness.”

I am going to list a lot of good reasons about why we should not get into a cycle of habitual grumbling or complaining- but a key issue is the health of a people and the toll it takes on these leaders. In a word, Moses was discouraged.

And the worst part of discouragement is that Moses loses sight of God's ability to provide. He has taken the burden of the people on himself and God's power seems distant.

If you ever want to really help an organization- learn to speak powerful words of support more than complaints. It will re-invigorate the spirit of a place and the leaders of a place.

I'm thinking a lot about the health of our nation here. The high level of complaints on both sides of the aisles has us more divided than ever. When Lincoln quoted the Bible in saying 'A house divided against itself cannot stand' he wasn't just talking about war.

Our only hope is a spiritual restoration.......

II- The Bible commands us NOT to complain.

Do all things without complaining and disputing. Philippians 2:14 In everything give thanks, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.  1 Thessalonians 5:18 The sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us. Rom. 8:18; For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory.  2 Corinthians 4:19 Who when He was reviled, did not revile in return; when he suffered, He did not threaten, but committed Himself to Him who judges righteously. 1 Peter 2:23 My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness. 2 Corinthians 12:9

Ultimately, all complaining is against God. It is an indictment on God's providence and provision. When we habitually complain, it is basically calling God a liar.

PUSH-BACK: Does this mean I never have a right to voice concerns and relay information that may be negative? Do we have to be polly-anna ostriches with our heads in the sand?

Of course not- overly optimistic or idealized speech may be hollow or without authenticity. The key is the heart, the tone, the message, and the audience.

Now to the key point here in Numbers 12.

III- Family Feud: "Miriam and Aaron"-

Miriam's name is mentioned first and the verb is in the feminine- Miriam is the one leading this attack. It could be that Aaron's sin here is similar to Adam in the garden- a lack of leadership and passive silence. But even if he is just a bystander- to keep hearing the complaint without response is as good as supporting the complaint.

So here is sister and brother voicing a complaint. As much as outside complaining hurts, when it comes from your own flesh and blood it is even deeper.

Same in the church- outside attacks from the world never sting as much as internal attacks in the flock.

Why do the people we love the most get our worst? We treat total strangers better than our own kin. Maybe the family side of us is a better indicator of our real heart?

IV- The Spoken Criticism Hides the Deeper Problem:

Miriam and Aaron are speaking against the "Cushite' wife- but the real issue is that they are unhappy with God. They may gripe about Moses' decision to marry a Cushite, but the Bible is clear: it is old fashioned jealousy that is poisoning the well.

(Side Note: This passage may indicate a re-marriage here to a person from the ethiopian area after Zipporah's death or it could loosely refer to Zipporah. Quite a story in and of itself!)

Why do we do this? We couch behind trivial complaints, when the real reasons are obscured.

Notice that the criticism was based on a true fact- but the intentions were not good. If this isn't a warning to all of us, then what is?

V- The Cryptic Fact: The Lord Heard

And this one is not going to go so well. I feel a little for Miriam here because I think she, unfortunately, is a bigger part of what had been going on with Moses and God's concern for him. This is going to be the main thrust of the next blog post on this chapter.

But- when we complain or when we gossip or when we spread dissension- we have to be aware that God sees and hears. And He protects His own!

Well I have to stop here. I'm a little concerned about this post and the unintended. My job is such that I hear some complaining, but most of it is done with very loving, patient, and sober words.

And I am a little fearful that anyone reading this may be thinking that I am blasting them for reporting concerns- and I pray that it is not the case.

But here is a little advice I have been giving for years about 'complaining'.

1. Don't press send.

I used to say this to my coaches all the time. We get our emotions up and write that e-mail and hit those keys with force. It is very hard to communicate the heart involved in conflict in an e-mail or an acrimonious blog post! Write them but don't send them.

2. Sleep on it.

I have had a few times in my coaching career where a parent is waiting on me after the game. My practice is to walk up and say, "Mr ________, I know we need to talk but please, let's wait until in the morning." I know this flies against, not letting the sun go down on your anger, but usually the conversation is more civil after a night of rest.

3. Take criticism with prayerful objectivity.

This is a much tougher one, but an unexamined life will never improve.

4. Small circles.
Please protect the reputation of those you may be complaining about. Meditate on Matthew 18 and realize that even if a person is in sin, the system is designed to limit the wide spread of this damaging and hurtful information.

5. Cultivate gratitude.
For every negative thing you say- try to look for the good as well. Don't commit the sin of Eve who despised all the good things God gave to dwell on the prohibition.

6. Truly pray for those with whom you have a complaint.

Years ago, I got a really bad attitude toward someone. During coffee, I let another friend know of my 'very legitimate' complaints. When I finished, the true brother gently corrected me in the area of 'complaining' and challenged me to pray everyday for this person. It was one of the greatest blessings I have ever experienced.

7. Our information may be flawed. I have been burned too many times by someone telling me what they thought was the exact story, only to find it much different than reported. As a parent, I have learned that my children are not the best source of information and that they sometimes vent stuff to me as an outlet. As I look into the matter, the drama factor has changed significant details. All human beings see the same subjects in differing lights.

8. Live above the fray.
I Peter 2:12 :Be careful to live properly among your unbelieving neighbors. Then even if they accuse you of doing wrong, they will see your honorable behavior, and they will give honor to God when he judges the world. (NLT)

A closing story:

Years ago someone sent an anonymous e-mail to me and others that listed offenses and accused me, by name, of some very heinous actions. The biggest problem was... none of them were true!
The language was, "It has been said that Coach Mathews ....." and this was posted as gospel fact.

And if I am to be honest... it hurt me deeply.

Some time after that, another internet poster wrote a very harmful description of me as a person and a coach.

All you can do in those times is to bow your knee and ask God to come to your rescue. To my knowledge, those reports have not harmed me ( I was asked about the internet post during a job interview- but there were 25 to 1 posts that said positive things- and it did not harm me).

My challenge for all of us is to be diligent to not participate in habitual grumbling, but learn to live in the fruitful, positive, thankful environment of followers of Christ!

Friday, January 05, 2018

Alabama/Georgia Things Worth Noting

Here we are just a few days away from the national championship game in Atlanta.

As I have blogged on now for many blessed memories in the past, I am a thankful and spoiled Alabama fan.

There is so much analysis and noise around this game.... so I decided to delve into areas that others haven't mentioned:


Part of my research this week has been my concerns that between Kirby Smart's knowledge of Saban's defense and Jim Chaney's (UGA OC) experience with Alabama might create some scheme issues.... but Jim Chaney has nor fared well as a play caller vs a Nick Saban team.

2009- Tenn. 10 points
2010- Tenn. 10 Points
2011- Tenn. 6 points
2012- Tenn. 13 points
2013- Ark. 0 points
2014- Ark. 13 points

In saying this- I see the scheme's being even- I don't see anything changing that. MAYBE a cute wrinkle or trick play- but those don't normally win a game.

This will be a game of execution, injury, field position, and turnover differences.


Hmmm- hard to believe the over/under is currently 44.6

I know this sounds crazy, but a high scoring game means Alabama is moving the ball and that would not favor UGA.

A low scoring game favors UGA based on what I believe is a Georgia field goal kicking advantage.


An interesting storyline to me is that I believe this will be the Jalen Hurt's delivers game for Alabama.

I have written on this before, but the feeling people have about Jalen Hurts is eerily similar to complaints regarding Jay Barker. Winning isn't flashy enough.....

But in 1994 Jay Barker and the Crimson Tide hosted Georgia and Eric Zeir.

Here is the recap of that shining moment.....

Jay Barker threw for a career-high 396 yards and Michael Proctor kicked a 32-yard field goal with 1:12 remaining to give No. 11 Alabama a 29-28 victory over Georgia, ruining a record-breaking night for Bulldog quarterback Eric Zeier on Saturday at Tuscaloosa, Ala.
Zeier became the yardage leader in Southeastern Conference history, throwing for 263 yards and four touchdowns to give him 9,327 yards in his career. That eclipsed the career record of 9,287 set by Florida's Shane Matthews from 1989-92.
But, as has happened so many times to Zeier, who finished 25 of 33, his individual achievements were overshadowed as Georgia, 3-2 overall and 2-2 in the SEC, lost an important game that would have kept the Bulldogs in contention for the conference title they haven't won since 1982.
Alabama (5-0, 3-0) came into the game with the worst passing offense in the SEC, but Barker, as he has done often in his career, rose to the occasion. He completed 26 of 34 for 396 yards which is the second-best passing game in school history, to Scott Hunter's 484-yard performance against Auburn in 1969.
Don't be shocked if Jalen Hurt's has rushing and passing career best yards.....


I'm not sure if this needs to be better explained in a separate blog post... but Nick Saban has stirred up the hate card for this team... it may be that he saw that as an effective button for this team.

And no doubt the disrespected, chip on the shoulder, contra-mundum approach works... revenge is a jet fuel... but it burns fast and dries up quickly.

The problem? If a team believes they win because they are 'stoked to win' then emotion becomes a necessary ingredient to belief... but emotion is a fickle state... fake emotion doesn't last.... and even real emotion doesn't always produce the same effect.... it is like a drug... you need more and more to elicit the same high.

I don't like teams that HAVE to have emotion to win. They tend to be UP AND DOWN... I have always preached INTENSITY trumps emotion... let emotion come and go...let it come from actual plays in the game... but win with intensity...even if the mood is fickle.

Both Georgia and Alabama could feel like they are not playing well because they don't FEEL as hyped as the OT felt for Georgia or the ANGER felt for the TIDE.

And believe it or not- you can be over-hyped and play poorly or burn unnecessary energy...

AND  you can get beat by a hyped team if you don't match their intensity... if you want a case study of that look at Auburn vs Alabama when the game is at Jordan Hare- Auburn has always been a very emotional team...when they are on, they play like super men... but again- when they are off, the flatness is palpable.

I am a tad surprised that Saban hasn't tempered that .... but I do trust him as a master motivator.


Beware a fast start by either team.... sometimes championship games can become a 1st round knock-out. It would be the NCAA's worst nightmare... but just like superbowls, a team can get a bam- bam- bam and it is over before it begins.

BOTH TEAMS have that kind of potential.

As I play it position by position...

Each team is built to stop the style of each team- Oklahoma will be so sorry they did not get here... I think OU beats Alabama in this game.

But this is Alabama vs Alabama..... but Kirby hasn't quite loaded up the difference maker at every position and in the end... that will be the only difference.

Think of it as a typical East/West SEC game on steroids. Low scoring early- little excitement except for maybe plays in the kicking game... close at the half

Then Alabama makes the second half  surge and it ends up being a less dynamic game than everyone hoped for.

But Alabama hoists the trophy 24- 10.

As with any of my predictions, I would not bet my house or even 10 bucks...

Be safe everybody!

Thursday, January 04, 2018

UCF's Greatest Loss

Oh my....
UCF achieved their greatest victory on Jan. 1 to top off their greatest season, led by their greatest team and their greatest coach.... Scott Frost, my pick for CF Coach of the Year.

And they had the ENTIRE nation eating out of the palm of their hand... poised to be the darling of American football fans, just like Penn State a year ago.
And once Georgia and Alabama won their games... they were set to be heralded and included in a great American conversation... I mean who likes the SEC.... right?
Then THEY ( UCF A.D. and President) absolutely wrecked it before it even had a chance to sprout wings.

They put up banners, scheduled a press conference, and planned a parade as SELF PROCLAIMED COLLEGE FOOTBALL NATIONAL CHAMPIONS.

Scott Frost hasn't even packed his bags yet and UCF has already shown they are unwilling to follow his lead or continue his legacy.

Coach Frost gave the EXACT right response to position UCF in a long running profitable and fruitful lane:

“Great Bowl experience. This is my 10th as a player or a coach, New Year’s Day bowl. The Peach Bowl is right up there with all of them. The people were so accommodating and polite. We had so much fun here as a team, and we’re grateful to have been given this chance.”

“Going through the season, I was afraid to say much about the rankings and everything because I’m a little superstitious. And just when a coach starts running his mouth, that’s when you lose the next game. But it wasn’t right. I was watching every week, the [College Football Playoff selection] committee sitting in a room and decide this 2-loss team must be better than UCF because UCF is in the American [Athletic Conference]. Or this 3-loss team must be better than UCF.

“It looked like a conscious effort to me to make sure that they didn’t have a problem if they put us too high and a couple teams ahead of us lost. And oh, no, now we have to put them in a playoff. But we just beat a team that beat two playoff teams and lost to another one by 6 points and we beat them by 7.

“And Auburn is a great team. I’m not taking anything away from them. I give them a ton of credit. But these guys deserve everything they get, and they deserve more credit from the committee than what they got.”

and if UCF was smart they should have scheduled that parade around those comments...


By deciding to snub the NCAA and question the legitimacy of the organization they belong to ... they are simply contributing to an already worrisome problem in our ever divided country..

"I will get along with you as long as I agree with you... but as soon as you do something I don't agree with... I will now fight you- you are now my enemy"

And all we do is cannibalize each other in the process.

There is a fine line here... voiced dissent is fact, it is necessary- Scott Frost did that WITHIN the framework of the system.

To PROCLAIM YOURSELF something in direct violation to the very rules and procedures you signed up for is chaotic and ultimately results in destruction.

As UCF pays out the departing coaches 200,000 bonuses... they are leaving behind players and new coaches who, instead of being loved and adored, are now being set up for their first loss... could be as early as Sept 15.. and those banners and t-shirts will be mocked and ridiculed like no other..

And who knows if the A.D. or President will even be there... they may have already jumped to a power 5 school and wonder why all of a sudden the sky has fallen.

Sunday, December 17, 2017

Open Letter to Editor of New York Daily Regarding 'Gutless Saban' Article

Dear Editors,

University of Alabama head football coach, Nick Saban was a subject in the New York Daily News last Thursday morning when Chuck Modiano wrote “Nick Saban is a clueless, gutless, selfish coward for his silence on Roy Moore” .

My guess is the article succeeded in your primary objective to stir the pot and elicit response. The article was posted numerous times under salacious headlines and helped fill time between commercials on talk radio across the nation.

I do not know Mr. Modiano, but the nature of his charges and the assertions he makes illustrates why people refuse to learn the lesson that the State of Alabama taught all of us this past week.

We don't TALK anymore in this country. It is way easier to make bold assertions (some in as few as 280 characters) in short and simple scorched earth diatribes than it is to actually sit down and listen to one another.

You printed/posted an article that made a very serious charge regarding Coach Saban:

My biggest issue with these types of statements is that our culture seizes on these exchanges and often accept conclusions without a full analysis of all the facts.

I am saddened that we have a culture today where a simple label can be fixed to a name without a burden of proof and the consequences of such tags can be life destroying. The bar is too low to suffer the blows that such charged words result in. 

If I am honest, I know that I am without any protection if anyone charges me with any odious 'ism'.

The difficulty is the medium itself. I do not have the space, and most readers do not have the patience to read all that it would take to exonerate a man of your serious allegations.


I had numerous conversations with people who were torn. As millions of dollars poured in on both sides of the situation- we were told over and over that Judge Moore was a child molester and Mr. Jones wanted to kill babies.

It caused great concern, because to a man, most people in Alabama are burdened to vote.

There were questions that in most people minds were never answered. The biggest one was "If all of these allegations against Roy Moore were true, why are we just learning this NOW?"

But if they were true, it would be almost impossible to cast that vote.

 This letter doesn't allow me to adequately articulate all of the different views and how some lean right and some lean left in Alabama BECAUSE of faith...  and after prayer and wrestling with the issues....Alabama chose to vote- we had a large turnout.

There were many examples of how people chose principles over party. That is what every person in the nation needs to embrace as well. Our country wold be better off if we did that. Instead, we choose a side, believe nothing that gives evidence to the contrary, and throw gasoline on the fire of dissension regardless if it means we will all go down in flames.

And the man you called 'clueless' got over 20,000 write in votes. Pretty high for a gutless coward.

Here is what I can say about Nick Saban.... he brings in players from all different backgrounds and builds a great culture of unity and advancement. He gives millions to charity and was wise enough to not insert himself into the race. 

He is preparing his team to play every week and recruiting more players form all over the country... my guess is that he would say he doesn't actually know enough to make a bold proclamation about either candidate in the race- and he know his words do carry weight.

I wish Mr. Modiano used that same discretion.......

Wednesday, December 06, 2017

Running on Empty? Turn on Love

There are a number of reasons why we get beaten down and drained. We are busier than ever- mass communication technology has produced a sprinters pace for a marathon life... it causes even young people to hit the wall quite frequently.
But another reason we often overlook is the toll of sin.... our personal sin... but also the weariness of living in a world of sin. People who care only about themselves: they mock, disregard, and mistreat others.
The Book of Revelation gives us a reminder about God's truth and God's heart... I found some encouragement this morning from the letter to the Church in Ephesus:
EPHESUS was the greatest city in Asia minor. It boasted a population over 250,000 people. But it was a deeply pagan city where people worshipped in the world of the occult and witchcraft. The city was famous for the Temple of Diana. It was 100,000 sq. feet, which is twice the size of a football field! The typical pagan practice in those days combined ‘worship’  with immorality! A church in a city like this needs DOCTRINE and DISCERNMENT. If we look at our Bibles, we will find that  Paul, Timothy, Barnabas, and John had all been there.
Let’s look at what Jesus says to the church in Ephesus!
“To the angel of the church in Ephesus write: ‘The words of him who holds the seven stars in his right hand, who walks among the seven golden lampstands.

“‘I know your works, your toil and your patient endurance, and how you cannot bear with those who are evil, but have tested those who call themselves apostles and are not, and found them to be false. I know you are enduring patiently and bearing up for my name’s sake, and you have not grown weary. But I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first. Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent, and do the works you did at first. If not, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place, unless you repent. Yet this you have: you hate the works of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who conquers I will grant to eat of the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God.’
I have heard a lot of great talks on ‘finding your first love’… but I think it is easy to miss what Jesus is saying here.
I believe Jesus is exhorting the church to teach the truth in ‘LOVE’.
I had a great friend of mine, a pastor in Nashville who used to say: “There is a difference in being right and DEAD RIGHT. Don’t kill people with the truth.”
I get sad when I see the poisonous rhetoric in our culture today…..
And the key? You show love by deeds.
My prayer is that we will never shrink back from great doctrine…but we never lose our love for people!
Believe me, I know it is easy to get jaded and worn down when you see people who seem to sin with boldness and treat God with contempt.
We must keep out love for Jesus first…but that love should spill over and flow out of us as well to others. Loving them does not mean CONDONING sin…in fact, IF we love them, we will speak gospel truth..which is HARD.
But Jesus led the way in showing that we are to keep loving others, even if they are headed in a contrary way or show a contrary spirit.
Today- I feel weary over sin... my sin and the sin of others. God tells me to keep loving others... even if they do not love me back.
He never stops loving me, even when I ignore Him. Is it too much for me to do the same?

Thursday, November 23, 2017


The Bible has a flavor of thankfulness 

  • Ephesians 1:16 Cease not to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers;
  • Ephesians 5:20 Giving thanks always for all things to God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ;
  • Colossians 3:15 And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also you are called in one body; and be thankful.
  • Colossians 3:17 And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him.
  • 1 Thessalonians 5:18 In everything give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.
  • Psalms 107:1 O give thanks to the LORD, for he is good: for his mercy endures for ever.
  • Psalms 118:24 This is the day which the LORD has made; we will rejoice and be glad in it.
 We do live in a generation of entitlement. We often lament that our young people not only expect everything to be given to them, but they don’t value the things when they are given to them. The most tragic loss in a world where everything is taken for granted, is a loss of a sense of gratitude.
And a world without gratitude is a dark and isolated existence where we soon realize that a man does not have to die to go to hell.
When I realize how I was brought up, I am most grateful that it dug a foundation of appreciation for even ‘small’ things. My dad would take us out to eat every now and then or my grandmother would use Sunday coupons to get an Arby’s sandwich. And in a family where it didn’t happen much, we learned to be thankful for those good blessings.
I went through a very sad time in my first few years in Nashville where I talked to freshman boys who had already seen the world and they were not impressed with anything. And they saw me as someone who did not measure up to their travels and experience… and these guys were 15 years old! How do you break through to a young man who just got back from Rome, unimpressed, and couldn’t care less about an ancient book because he didn’t like to read anyway?
I never stopped teaching the hope of the gospel, the penalty of sin, the inability of the world to satisfy, and a heart yearning for God….. but his mind was on the Christmas  ski trip to Vale and Spring Break in Cabo. You have to believe that these seeds would be there when that fantasy world collapsed because he had no work ethic to barely pass an easy Bible class, but why should he work?… his inheritance was his future bank.
I am more convinced than ever that an attitude of gratitude is the biggest key to walking daily with God. Gratitude comes from a humble heart of good eyes full of light and truth. It is one thing to say ‘thanks’- it is even better to feel it!
Guinness has a chapter in his book,The Call, entitled “Let All of Your Thinks be Thanks”- and he brings in ‘calling’ to this subject.

Calling is a reminder for followers of Christ that nothing in life should be taken for granted; everything in life must be received in gratitude.

He quotes Dostoevsky, “The best definition of man is the ungrateful biped.”

A lack of gratitude can be an acid that eventually erodes all of our dependency on God and  trust in God’s goodness.

“People who start out in wonder at their own calling can slowly, through conceit, slip into speculation about God’s calling them and not calling others, and in the end making calling a thing of horror, and God, a monster.”

A lack of gratitude is the first step into religious oppression, the first step into legalism, the first step into heresy or apostasy, the first step into adultery or theft, the first step into destruction. In fact, read Genesis 3 and you see that a lack of gratitude was the seed of the fall of the whole human race.

Take some time in crafting your mission statement to ‘count your blessings’… your life, health, wife, where you live, clothes, technology, medicine, travel, transportation, humor, a flower, water, a warm embrace, a smiling child, singing…. you could count forever just thinking about what Jesus did.

And let us be like St. Francis who was described by G.K. Chesterton as a man who ‘walked the world like the Pardon of God”.
Let our hearts be stirred every day the praise God for all He has given to us. Gratitude is an attitude!