Saturday, March 02, 2019

How Teams Win


1 Corinthians 12:4–31 Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; [5] and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord; [6] and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who empowers them all in everyone. [7] To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. [8] For to one is given through the Spirit the utterance of wisdom, and to another the utterance of knowledge according to the same Spirit, [9] to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, [10] to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another the ability to distinguish between spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. [11] All these are empowered by one and the same Spirit, who apportions to each one individually as he wills.


[12] For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. [13] For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and all were made to drink of one Spirit.


[14] For the body does not consist of one member but of many. [15] If the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. [16] And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. [17] If the whole body were an eye, where would be the sense of hearing? If the whole body were an ear, where would be the sense of smell? [18] But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose. [19] If all were a single member, where would the body be? [20] As it is, there are many parts, yet one body.


[21] The eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you,” nor again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.” [22] On the contrary, the parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, [23] and on those parts of the body that we think less honorable we bestow the greater honor, and our unpresentable parts are treated with greater modesty, [24] which our more presentable parts do not require. But God has so composed the body, giving greater honor to the part that lacked it, [25] that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another. [26] If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together.


[27] Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it. [28] And God has appointed in the church first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healing, helping, administrating, and various kinds of tongues. [29] Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? [30] Do all possess gifts of healing? Do all speak with tongues? Do all interpret? [31] But earnestly desire the higher gifts.



And I will show you a still more excellent way. (ESV)



As I think about the ingenious analogy here and as I contemplate all of the interesting principles, I am once again in awe of God's Word.

Every championship team I have ever coached was a UNIFIED TEAM. It is pure joy to coach young men who pour themselves into a quest, with little regard to their personal stats or roles. Some have said that T.E.A.M. is an acronym for 'Together Everyone Accomplishes More'. We have a saying at BCS- "BIG TEAM- little me". There are important keys to developing these mindsets. I want to use some of this passage to highlight these keys.
  • EVERYONE HAS ABILITY TO GIVE SOMETHING
To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.

One of the enemies greatest attacks is to convince people that they are no good and have nothing to offer. He uses the attacks of bullies or a world of photoshopped magazine covers to beat down image bearers of the divine. Satan has built a system where height, strength, beauty, wealth, fame, popularity gets all the 'good stuff' and the average man or woman lives lives in hunched over body postures and little confidence. THE BIBLE SAYS "NO". God has created you with amazing gifts and abilities. You are made in His image and if you know Christ as Savior, you are an adopted son or daughter of the KING of the UNIVERSE. Which depiction of you are you going to start believing in?

  • GOD DISTRIBUTES ABILITY ACCORDING TO HIS PLAN- AND HIS PLAN IS GOOD
All these are empowered by one and the same Spirit, who apportions to each one individually has he wills.

Don't look at what you don't have...find what you do have. You have a S.H.A.P.E.- spiritual gifts, heart desires, aptitudes, personality, experiences that are unique to you. Believe that, in time, you will discover that shape and use it to build God's kingdom in love and service to others. Don't let the world tell you anything different- God loves you and has a beautiful plan for you (John 10:10).

  • A WINNING TEAM IS DEEP AND DIVERSE
For the body does not consist of one member but of many.

Another problem with the world's system is the demand for everyone to be the same. The result is a mediocre middle where those who push ahead or take different paths are scoffed at or ridiculed. At the same time, others feel the pressure to be unique and avoid areas of expertise because others have achieved success in those fields. Both pressures can be mis-guided. Teams need more than one QB ready to play and they need participants in all areas from scout team, to managers and trainers, starters and stars.

My favorite success stories involve players who patiently bore their back-up roles and prepared for the day when they had to step in and win after an injury or need. When the back-up QB comes in and leads the team to victory- it inspires everyone!
  • WINNING TEAMS RISE ABOVE LABELS, CRITICISM, AND UNTRUE STATEMENTS
And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. 

I apply this in two ways.

This is such an interesting part of the passage. Bodies have parts that are 'weaker' and 'less honorable' and humans keep those parts in discretion and modesty. They are still VERY necessary. And it doesn't matter if the eye declares that it is not a part of the body- it still is.

 The saddest times I have had as a coach is when players  'talk down' to a team mate with a lesser role. 

One time I had a junior who was starting over a senior and some members of the team were badgering him about that to the point that he grew deeply depressed. When I found out about it, I hit the roof!

Needless to say, that team was not a very successful team.

But a second part is this: Don't let what others say marginalize you. It is the losers who do those types of things, why worry about what they say?

As A.D., I have situations where coaches and players are struggling but they know if they keep working hard, they might become a tough playoff team... but the biggest complicating factor are the naysayers and negative talk that come up as the record goes down. I find this the saddest when it is the parents who start chipping away at the coach.

For a team to come together and stay positive in that environment is tough... but winers find a way to do it!

  • WINNING TEAMS ALLOW THE LEADER TO ARRANGE THEM AS HE WILLS
But as it is, nGod arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose.

My most successful teams have been willing to trust the coaches to make tough choices about positions or playing time. My favorite stories always include the guys who embraced a decision and made the best of it. One year, we asked a guy to play JV because we did not have another option at that position... not only did he do it, he became a loud and vocal leader on that team. His energy and excitement was infectious and that JV team went undefeated! But there are some guys when a coach asks them to do it, pout because it is beneath their ability... those guys are not team guys.

In the end- godly contentment begins with trusting in God's plan and timing. There was a reason why this friend was not allowed to go in that direction and only God knows all the details why and somewhat foolish for us to speculate or despair.

  • WINNING TEAMS  HONOR OF ALL THE ROLES- NOT JUST THE STARS
But God has so composed the body, giving greater honor to the part that lacked it,25 that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another.

In 1998 we went 15-0 and won the state championship. My most vivid impression of that team was how they honored every single member of that organization. They loved the managers, filmers, team docs, JV players.... it was 'laughter in the locker room and focus on the field'. Some of that stemmed from our starting running back had a brother in the band who was born with a type of dwarfism. That young man learned early the value of all people. His brother became an accomplished musician and accountant. That was a special team- no one was going to beat them.

  • WINNING TEAMS DO HAVE A  PECKING ORDER- NOT ALL ARE EQUAL
And God has appointed in the church first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healing, helping, administrating, and various kinds of tongues. 

The Bible doesn't sugar coat it- the reality is that there is a pecking order. All are valuable- but there is a first, second, third. All are equal in terms of God's love and care- but some are given more. But that extra talent carries more expectation. Go back and look at the Parable of the Talents.

  • IT IS GOOD TO ASPIRE TO GROW IN YOUR ROLE AND EVEN TO MOVE UP
But earnestly desire the higher gifts.

It is OK to have ambition to move up. That kind of drive and aspiration is encouraged. A great friend of mine used to say, "Aim for the stars- you may only hit the moon- but you hit the moon because you were aiming high." Put sweat equity in your labor. Be faithful in the little things. Be a good steward by pushing to constantly improve.

  • THE MOST POWERFUL TEAMS RUN ON BIBLICAL LOVE NOT EARTHLY INTIMIDATION, REVENGE, ANGER, OR HATE

And I will show you a still more excellent way...LEADING TO I CORINTHIANS 13

My best teams have been teams built on Biblical love. A heartfelt attitude where you care for others and you are motivated to work, sweat, achieve, persevere out of a desire to do it for your brother.

Want to be a winner? Want to be on a winning team?

Believe in yourself as a person whom God has gifted- trust Him- and give yourself fully to a team effort- not caring if you get noticed because God sees you- trust in your leaders- and learn the joy of loving others well enough to lay it on the line for them.

Surround yourself with those types of people and WATCH OUT- you can move mountains!

Monday, February 04, 2019

The 'Point' of the Thorn

To keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited. (2 Corinthians 12:7)

A good friend of mine, who is a master Sunday School teacher,  told me in exasperation one morning that he disliked teaching on suffering. Not only is it a difficult topic, it often brings out extreme responses. And MANY of these responses are unhealthy or irresponsible. I totally understood that he was speaking in hyperbole and would keep teaching from the Scriptures. But I too understand that teaching or writing on topics can take a toll.

It can also break your heart to see the amount of suffering that some people have to endure.

I feel the same way in ever trying to blog about the topic. To explore it exhaustively would require a large and precisely crafted book, and even then it would be hard to do it justice.

Paul's 'thorn in the flesh' is on the spectrum of suffering, but is far down the list, I believe, of his famous litany of perils and trials he endured as an apostle of Christ. Even without knowing specifically what the thorn was.... where would you put it on this list?

....far more imprisonments, with countless beatings, and often near death. [24] Five times I received at the hands of the Jews the forty lashes less one. [25] Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I was stoned. Three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I was adrift at sea; [26] on frequent journeys, in danger from rivers, danger from robbers, danger from my own people, danger from Gentiles, danger in the city, danger in the wilderness, danger at sea, danger from false brothers; [27] in toil and hardship, through many a sleepless night, in hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure. [28] And, apart from other things, there is the daily pressure on me of my anxiety for all the churches. (2 Corinthians 11:23–28 ESV)

I don't know even what to make of Paul not listing it here... except maybe "and hardship" OR the fact that he was going to list a few sections later in the letter.

I have thought about Paul's thorn for years... it is quite a section.

It says something very interesting about God's sovereignty

The thorn WAS given to Paul. And I think Paul has God in mind here. Even though the thorn is personified as "a messenger of Satan to harass me".... it has a purpose "to keep me from becoming conceited".

Paul knew WHO had the power to remove it:

[8] Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. (2 Corinthians 12:8 ESV)

Is there a difference in what God allows and what God gives? Again, these are things for a book... even though I don't think you can adequately KNOW... that kind of control is beyond us.

These are things that trip up the so called intellectuals of our species... because God resists the proud.  It is by God's sheer grace that men of supreme brain power bend their knee in humility. In fact, it is one of God's great miracles. At some point a man understands that the very existence of the very logic that he is using comes from God, the breath he is breathing comes from God, the language he formulates his arguments with comes from God, the engineering in the finger that he points at God in anger comes from God, his outrage at injustice comes from God. And in a moment of weakness, he comes to a truth. God is at the very end of where his brain power finally runs out... and God is not there saying, 'I told you so'... God is there with love and forgiveness. God is also there to show this now humble man brand new discoveries that were always outside his reach while he stubbornly held onto his pride.

Paul had been there... and he was in danger of returning to that state of conceit... so God gave him a 'thorn'.

I have for many years thought of this as a physical ailment- mainly his eyesight. And it could be something leftover from his conversion... when he was struck blind. And his prayers might seem partially fulfilled maybe?

As I have gotten older, I have become less persuaded that this thorn was a physical ailment.

The Scripture is GENUIS not to specify what it was.

My guess is that the original readers knew more of this malady that we do....  My latest theory is that this is the first 'sub-tweet' in Biblical history. My latest theory is that this was a person.... maybe a false teacher that was cleaning Paul's clock in public debates, and maybe someone whose writings vilified Paul, questioned his authority, attacked his reputation, and was persuasive in style and substance. The fact that we DON"T know who this is, is a testament to God's modus operandi... no long lasting honor for the enemies of God's children.

It actually is a passage in Numbers that gave me reason to think of this as a stubborn enemy:
But if you do not drive out the inhabitants of the land from before you, then those of them whom you let remain shall be as barbs in your eyes and thorns in your sides, and they shall trouble you in the land where you dwell. (Numbers 33:55)

Regardless of this, first century readers AND 21st century readers get the the same application:

There are things in our life that God gives us that are nagging, harassing unpleasantries, that we plead with Him to remove.... but He says NO...and we can either accept that and glory in it... or we can grumble our joy away... eroding our trust in Him as a loving Father. Furthermore, if we can shine a bright light on Christ even in the midst of these harassments... we magnify the Lord in bright colors and displays of grandeur.

My prayer is that we too can be encouraged during nagging, satanic harassment that God is using it for His good purpose.

[9] But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. [10] For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong. (2 Corinthians 12:9–10 ESV)

This may be the greatest verse in Scripture as it relates to Godly encouragement!

And that is the 'Point' of the thorn.





Saturday, January 26, 2019

The Two Jack's In My Life- Bear Bryant Memories


Every year, I write a post in memory of Coach Bryant to honor and remember his passing on Jan. 26. Which today, marks 36 years ago. These memories are found on this blog and a Wordpress site:

Bear Bryant Memories

Each year, I begin praying in early January about the topic and was really struggling with it this year. Then, on this past Thursday, Coach Jack Rutledge went to be with the Lord at the age of 80.


Immediately, I knew I had to honor the TWO Jack Rutledges in my life and a few texts and a phone conversation with Jeff Rutledge became a huge help as well!

There were TWO significant Jack Rutledges in my life- Jeff’s dad and The ‘Governor’ who was my dorm dad and coach later at Alabama. Both men are in heaven and have a legacy of fruitful ministry from lives well lived.

Jack Rutledge- Jeff’s Dad.

Jeff Rutledge was a hero to me and now it is special to call him friend. He left big shoes to fill for all Banks High School Qb’s after he finished there and went on the lead Alabama to a National Championship, and a resurgent national prominence. Jeff later had a long and successful NFL career and has been a championship coach at the high school, college, and professional levels.

I watched Jeff as a player and then had the challenge of coaching against him for two seasons in Nashville. When we played him at CPA (he was the coach at MBA), we included the story of Jeff's dad in our football program that night.

In a phone call, Jeff told me something I never knew- Jack’s official name was 'Paul Edward Rutledge', but his grandfather began calling him Jack and Paul’s father wanted that name for his son…but mom wanted Paul. Mom won the legal name, but Jack was what stuck as grandfather used it!

Jeff laughed as he remembered how many people often confused dad Jack Rutledge with Coach Jack Rutledge after Jeff got to Alabama.

I really enjoyed getting Jeff's recollection of both men.

Jeff Rutledge:

“There’s not a day goes by that I don’t think of my dad. My brothers and my mom say all the time, ‘Dad did this or dad did that’

Of course, Jeff’s dad was a giant significance in my life as well. Jack Rutledge was my very first Sunday School teacher at Ruhama Baptist church when Jeff was the Qb at Alabama. He showed us Sugar Bowl watches, took us to Alabama practices, taught us Bible stories… but MOST IMPORTANTLY, he urged us to give our lives to Jesus in light of the good news of the gospel.

I first got to meet Coach Bryant in Tuscaloosa on a trip with Jack Rutledge. Two things I will never forget: it was the day that Steadman Shealy tore his ACL and getting to meet the Bear.

We were walking up the stairs of the Coliseum after practice and Coach Bryant was walking down. Mr. Rutledge said hello and we all took turns shaking his hand.

When Coach Bryant left, Mr Rutledge whispered…but his face was filled with excitement…

“YOU GUYS JUST GOT TO MEET COACH BRYANT” and he was thrilled!

At a revival, I remember Mr. Rutledge, putting his arm around me and quietly asking me to give my heart to Jesus. I tensed up and was unwilling… little did I know that those faithful seeds were going to root in time….

I would not be a Christian today were it not for the ministry of Jeff's dad. Mr. Rutledge made it clear that a being a Christ follower did not mean 'weakness' or 'being a sissy'. Jeff himself was a great role model for that.

And even though I said NO at the revival that day, years later I found Mr. Rutledge and let him know that I gave my heart to Jesus. And he was as thrilled with that news as he had been the day we met the Bear.

I asked Jeff to give me a few Coach Bryant quotes for this blog post:

I love the one about making right choices:

"It takes more of a man or woman to walk away from a fight than it does to stand there and fight! "

I also remember him telling me to “Be Brave”.




COACK JACK RUTLEDGE


As I have written over and over again, I was a walk-on QB on Coach Bryant’s last team in the Fall of 1982. It was a magical and special experience that lives with me almost every day.

Dr. Gary White and Coach Jack Rutledge were two men in particular who kept me going… I was as lost as they come in where to go and what to do. But both of those men made sure I was taken care of!

Coach Rutledge was a GREAT coach. He was a specialist on punt protection and I wish I had a copy of the progression he used to teach it. I could elaborate further on that and how the ‘Punt Bama Punt 17-16 game’ influenced Coach Rutledge and that Alabama went ten years before another punt was ever blocked.


He was a master motivator as well.

At the beginning of that year it was Jack Rutledge who told us about Coach Bryant in his tower.

"Coach Bryant is up there, and he is not watching all that is going on. He is going to pick one player and watch him the whole day. He is going to watch you come out of the tunnel- he is going to watch you stretch- he is going to watch every drill- and if you loaf one time, you will never step on the game field for Alabama."

He was a beloved Coach. He was the JV “Head Coach” that season.

Our 1st JV game, we hadn’t gotten much work on the wishbone, So Coach Rutledge just smiled and we ran the Georgia Tech offense we had been doing all week as scouts. The offensive coordinator was 'Famous Amos' Jones and I remember Rich Wingo and Murray Legg coached the defense.

But almost everyone remembers him mostly as the dorm director of Bryant Hall- he was ‘The Governor’ and he ran that dorm with a master skill and ministry!

JEFF RUTLEDGE REMEMBERS JACK RUTLEDGE AND THE DORM

Jeff told some great stories.

“His son, Timmy, and I went at it in ping pong games! We had some ping pong wars in Bryant Hall.”

"Keith Pugh and I were roommates right above Coach Rutledge’s apartment and Marty Lyons was across the hall. Coach Rutledge was frequently waiting on us at night and making sure we were in on time and doing right.”

“My freshman year, I was having a terrible time getting snaps. Coach Rutledge would take me down to the study hall rooms at night and make me take snaps with Dwight Stephenson.”

“I just remember him as always being so positive and excited.”



I had the exact same impression as well.

Coach Rutledge came and ate breakfast with me one morning in Bryant Hall. He gave me the same speech that he had given may others. 

“Jay, Coach Bryant has a lot of friends in law enforcement. He has connections with Tuscaloosa police, County Sheriff’s, FBI, and Private I’s. Every now and then, he will call up one of those guys and ask them to check up on you guys. If they ever report to Coach Bryant that you are going to the wrong places or hanging with the wrong people, you will probably not be invited back next year.”

He is smiling at me the whole time he is talking… but it worked. I was deathly afraid of ever being caught loafing at practice or going to wrong places at night.

Thank you Lord, for the two Jack’s in my life. And I will be praying for Coach Rutledges family this week. Especially, for his wife, Norma- his sons, Tim and David, and other extended family.

Thanks Jeff for helping me write this and it needs to be a part of remembering Coach Bryant.

Roll Tide!

“For we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands.” 2 Corinthians 5:1





Thursday, January 10, 2019

Endless Appetite: Sample from Winning Edges Devotions

The Winning Edges Devotional Series on Amazon.com is a product of how I have been blessed by daily time in God's Word in the light of the gospel for over 30 years. Each month has a theme of its own, and the goal is to have every month covered in 2019. I hope each reader is encouraged in the journey!

Winning Edge Devotional Series- Jay Mathews

Here is an excerpt from the new book that will be out in Mid-February: The Temple in Disrepair


Brothers, join in imitating me, and keep your eyes on those who walk according to the example you have in us. [18] For many, of whom I have often told you and now tell you even with tears, walk as enemies of the cross of Christ. [19] Their end is destruction, their god is their belly, and they glory in their shame, with minds set on earthly things. [20] But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, [21] who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself. (Philippians 3:17-21 ESV)


The believer’s physical life is greatly impacted by his INNER life.

How do you see yourself?

One area that I have battled my entire adult life is over eating. In fact, I exercise at an above normal rate and would be considered generally ‘fit’. I am on no medication and feel ‘good’ most of the time.

But I also know I can easily let myself go and I can quickly put on massive weight. And though I am more successful now than in my past, I still feel like it is an area I need to improve upon.

The most crucial of all the factors in my struggle is that winning in weight control begins on the INSIDE. I have to admit there are some idolatry issues in this. Food can be a powerful idol, it combines with a longing for comfort and desire to be filled. My quest for taste and fullness, pleasure and excess, with no regard for my body as a temple is a huge deal here.

I have always laughed at how football and eating go together-
when we win- I eat and celebrate
when we lose- I eat and commiserate

And now you know why I tend to gain about 10 lbs every football season.
In fact, I would gain 10 and lose 5 each year…so after 10 years of coaching, it was no surprise to find myself needing to lose 50 lbs!

And these idols are so deeply seated in my heart that I am still very much in danger to be lured and trapped yet again.

I remember the horror of reading the above verse ( Philippians 3:18,19) and knowing that was describing me. I don’t want to be ruled by my appetites…I want to be ruled by Christ!

The beauty of the gospel was that over time, I was able to say – “Lord, this is me. My only hope is You. I trust in Your death to cover me and the truth of the gospel message to set me free.

And yet this was a 25 year seemingly unanswered prayer- but I keept praying again and again. The big things- the important things- take decades in God’s timing. “we await a Savior” –You must search Him out and wait and wait and wait- and be willing to be content that His delivery comes at a much different timetable than we can see. But He is faithful.

There are psychological tricks here as well. One is ‘Human Apperception‘.

In psychology, apperception is “the process by which new experience is assimilated to and transformed by the residuum of past experience of an individual to form a new whole.”  In short, it is to perceive new experience in relation to past experience.

Example:
A rich child and a poor child walking together come across the same ten-dollar bill on the sidewalk. The rich child says it is not very much money and the poor child says it is a lot of money. The difference lies in how they apperceive the same event – the lens of past experience through which they see and value (or devalue) the money.   —Christopher Ott (quoted in wiki)

They way this impacts me is the man in the mirror. If I gain 5 or 10 lbs and look at myself, I feel disgust or anger or shame or hurt. Then if I lose 5 lbs and see myself in the mirror, I feel such victory. The view is always an extreme; and both are a warped stretch of the reality.

Photographs disturb me more than the mirror. Someone will show me a picture of me and I feel so bad about how heavy I look. A year or so later, I feel the same pain at a new photo and look at last year’s and wonder why I couldn’t at least look like last year.

This was a vicious cycle for a number of years:

The amazing difference was in ’10 year’ pictures. I would look at an old picture (that I previously thought was disgusting) and long for being that way again.
All of this though, was a sinful human heart being swayed by my sinful and tainted senses. For example: if my wife told I looked good, my image was accepted for a short time and I was OK. If she told me I had gained weight, it pushed me into that dark hole.

It is important to remind ourselves that we are not regarded by others in these extremes. I rarely notice the weight change on others and in the long run, I don’t care. If you are reading this right now, don’t feel bad about how you look. You are you– people know you as you are- and though we think that appearance is something that indicates acceptance or rejection, it is never as important as we think. A warm smile and bright eyes and a loving spirit shows through way more than what your body shape is. Stop beating yourself up.

Without sounding ‘hokey’- I also sensed that the enemy used quiet heart whispers to further push the pain. There is a demonic part to the inner voices that say, “You’ll never defeat this” or “You’re just a pig” or “How can you say you glorify God when your temple is a wreck”. Those thoughts were darker and deeper that just my heart.

How that works, I just don’t know. I don’t think it is Satan himself, but the dark forces of evil tend to do these types of whisper campaigns to torture believers.

About 15 years ago, I began to become more aware of these battles and began to confront them. As I began to feel some small victories and growing in confidence, the battle pressed harder. I had some vicious attacks come through false accusations, misunderstandings, gossip, and deadly rumors.

But God kept picking me up and I began to fight consistently and well. Not in words so much as in deep prayer and positive attitudes. When the battle was really raging I would get up each morning and say: “No matter what the devil or world throws my way today- I will rejoice- I am a son of the King of the universe- Jesus Christ my Lord loved me- He died for me- I am a blessed man- I am overflowing with joy, hope, and love.”

I also would begin to pray for people who were being used in attacks toward me. I wasn’t growing bitter toward them. The largest victory came when I felt mercy towards those who misunderstood or disliked me instead of frustration or anger. I felt true love for them. I prayed for their health, I spoke well of them to others, I looked to serve them, and when they wounded me, I copied my Lord’s prayer “Father forgive them, they know not what they do”. 

Now please, I did not do this perfectly… I got angry, at times, in the fight, I slipped at times, I accepted that I sometimes deserved the attacks…. But the Holy Spirit deserves ALL THE CREDIT!  And I slowly grew better in this fight.
I wrote some blog postings during March of 2010 (jayopsis.com). It captures a lot of what I learned in a compressed three year concentrated and intense spiritual battle. I encourage you to spend some time in these if you have experienced some of these same feelings of shame and disappointment in yourself. Remember that you will suffer tribulation in this world and learn how to keep your joy in spite of circumstances.

Isn’t this just some kind of ‘philosophy stuff’…. ‘meaningless psychobabble’? It could be…but I lived it… and when I began to be healed on the inside, it began to show on the outside. When I learned to forgive, and love, and pray for people opposed to me by way of the Spirit… I saw results!

But I have to reiterate all of this. Do you see the long build up? Do you see the deep-seated roots of this problem? Do you understand it is not just physical? It is not so simple to say: ‘Oh well just stop eating and exercise’– and it is offensive when a thin person asks if you want to lose weight and you say, ‘yes’ and then they say, “Push that fat rear away from the table.”

I am old enough now to understand slowing metabolism, insulin resistance, and genetic pre-disposition. But this is no excuse to not fight. God can be glorified as I accept who I am and keep fighting to get better. It is not about ‘appearance’- it is a willingness to accept the mission of Christ. An example of this is in Colossians 1:


[22] he has now reconciled in his body of flesh by his death, in order to present you holy and blameless and above reproach before him, [23] if indeed you continue in the faith, stable and steadfast, not shifting from the hope
from the hope of the gospel that you heard,


Also- without the life changing, Holy Spirit given, gospel message- what hope do we have?

Jesus loves me whether I am fat or thin. His death covers all of my failings and sin.  Can you embrace that? It is hard… so many people say “I just can’t accept that- it seems too easy” but my friend I am crying to you again-

YOU CANNOT EARN GOD’S FAVOR. YOU CANNOT BE GOOD OR DISCIPLINED. YOU CANNOT DO GOOD WORKS AND GO TO HEAVEN.

It is a sheer gift- we call it grace.

This is a beginning for any issue that keeps holding us back. My desire is for all of us to fall on our knees and cry out to the God of mercy and say to Him: LORD- I give this to You! You are God! You are in control. Take this… take me.. I cannot do any good. If you marked my sin or counted it against me- I am in trouble- But YOU LOVE ME- your death proves it- your resurrection validates Your sacrifice.

 My only hope is Christ. In Christ alone- I have FAITH in HIM- I trust HIM- I don’t even understand how it all works- but I lay everything I have- my life- my eternity- my affections on Him.

And when it is all through- at the end of the day- what I just did is by HIM TOO! What a God! What a Savior! How can I not proclaim this to the world!

What a message!

Finally- the fruit of victory always comes at the exact right time. It is God’s timing. He prepares us for it.  Even after years of failure… if you just keep after it… the breakthrough victory will be even sweeter. Never give up!

This is an old saying that I always use:
“It matters not if you try and fail and try and fail again.
What matter is if you try and fail….
and fail to try again.”


So, I will list it out like this- How do you change from the inside- out?
Here is what happened to me…..

STEP 1- SPIRITUAL GROWTH.. I began to apply the Word more, pray more, and fight

STEP 2- RELEASING FEAR AND PAIN FROM DAILY LIFE. The realization of this was when in 2009 we finished 3-7 in football. I can’t remember a time that this had ever happened to me. Every coach in America fears these types of years.

But, it was a blessing to understand that I’M OK- I DID NOT DIE! Instead of running to food and poor self-esteem I actually found a huge desire to get better.

I stood in front of the new group of seniors in Jan of 2010 and said “Watch me- you are going to see me change- I am going to work and compete- follow my lead” and I began to take it day by day- but I was determined to be the hardest working person on our campus- and I went after it mentally, physically, and spiritually. It felt good to fight!
Every day as I ran, all I did was to pray for those seniors… I wanted them to have a great year and I wanted to lead everyone I could by my example. I had a huge set-back that year in December when I was let go as the head football coach…but I kept going!

It fueled me to run a marathon. When tough things happen it is natural to run to addictions as comfort…but  we should be seeking what the Lord wants and be willing to trust Him to break the cycle.

STEP 3- CELEBRATING SMALL VICTORIES– I did not gain weight during the 2009 season- which was significant. It did not dawn on me until after my meeting with the rising seniors. Don’t ever discount small victories in areas which you are battling.

STEP 4- FACING THE REALITY OF POOR HEALTH – When my weight got out of control from 2004-2008, I knew my blood pressure was growing and my wife kept up her concern- this was a silent killer- and what would my family do? I have to keep trying to fight the good fight here for the sake of my family.

STEP 5- GETTING INTO THE ROUTINE– In 2009, I had a good exercise routine going- I was finally healthy enough to run without pain and smart enough to know how to pace myself and cross train. (Take days off, do elliptical training, swim, ride a bike on sunny days).

I was also smart to not start a diet in January. I decided to let my body get in shape for a month. I needed to fuel my workouts. The plan was to get an initial weight in February and begin to slowly change eating habits. I started with breakfast every morning, a lot of water, and eating 5 or 6 small meals a day. I did this February and March and I lost about 10 lbs.

An April ‘Miracle’  – I have documented previously what happened in April of 2009 (I lost 60 lbs from April to August that year) but I have still struggled up and down since then. But every April since then has been an invitation to ‘do it again’– and that is my hope again even this year!

As we take a day-by-day journey…. let’s always pray that real change happens from the inside-out.

When we repair on the inside… it helps us repair on the outside.

When we feel better physically, we have more energy to devote to God’s mission.

And we discover that God’s power is a power of endurance……..


Thursday, December 27, 2018

Why the Term 'Fade' is a Poor Description of the Route

With the growing popularity of back shoulder throws and match up zone - I notice that very few teams actually throw good looking vertical shots anymore. But taking a good opportunity to go deep can be a great way to take the top off of a defense!

I call it a ‘fade’ myself- but if you understand how to run a deep vertical, you understand that to 'fade' is a weak and worthless description. But it may be better to say a 'GO' route or a 9 route or a vertical.

Understanding the Need and Use of a Deep Throw

I personally don't think teams throw outside vertical routes enough. The worst thing that can happen on a deep throw is an interception. If the tackle is made quickly, that failure is as good as a punt.

Amazing Paradox: An off corner is easier to beat on a deep throw than an up corner. It used to bother me to see our Qb or rec's get discouraged if we called a vertical throw and the corner was way off. It wouldn't work because their lack of belief did not allow for full speed and excellent execution.

If the receiver will attack the technique of the corner, he can run up on and by a corner who flips his hips too late. Also, we should come down with the ball more often because of having more experience in those reps.

FADE CROPPED.jpg

Release at line of scrimmage (Diagram on the top): It is so important to get full speed in a hurry. If pressed, take the outside release as the preferred release, but no need to run through a wall. If the corner is hard outside, take the easiest route. The key is to get by and stacked on top of a press corner. Be strong on top of him and DO NOT GET FUNNELED.

Releasing Downfield (Diagram at the bottom): The WR needs to slip the off corner with the easiest release with as little friction as possible. But he wants to quickly STACK the corner and not weakly fade to the sideline. TELL THEM TO BE POWERFUL AGAINST THE CORNER.



The Importance of the POWER STACK- Teach your wideouts to run with a strong body that wants to leave the corner late. Corners are taught to rub, slap, and tug to slow the WR down. Keep the rec. working with hard pumping arms and driving knees


IMPORTANT COACHING POINTS:

QB’S- “DO NOT THROW IT OUT OF BOUNDS!”- I know our Qb’s must think we are crazy because we act like no big deal if a deep ball is intercepted...but we yell at them when they throw it out of bounds.

RECEIVER’S “NO FRANKENSTEIN ARMS”-  HUGE MISTAKE is to have a WR run downfield with his arms stuck out stiff. Teach them to keep pumping their arms while the ball is in the air and stretch late for the catch.

FIGHTING FOR THE BALL- I try to stress to our wide rec's that this is THEIR ball and they need to aggressively fight for it with both hands and laser eyes. Out hustle and out jump. Most interference calls go against the defense.

SAFETY FIRST- I do not let our rec's dive for long balls in practice. Use jumping pits or mats to safely practice.
But to not lay out in a game is a loaf.

Protecting the Throwing Lane: This is huge. I do NOT want to rec to 'fade' wide. I want him STACKED vertical. I also want him to leave the QB room to throw it a little wide. Some coaches say that the receiver owns the numbers and the Qb owns the sideline. But I caution all coaches to not over coach the outside throw. Of course we do not want it inside- but I like the idea over the top of his head- downtown with air. Throwing the ball out of bounds is worse than throwing it inside. Make sure rec's provide a minimum of 4 yds, even after double moves.


Throwing the DEEP BALL with air. A high throw allows more room for error and adjustment.The only time I allow a ‘5 iron’ shot over a ‘9 iron’ shot is when the cover is blown. Cover 2 hole throws need to be a ‘2 iron stinger’. I like using trash cans in the summer to work on throwing the deep ball with good air.