Tuesday, February 26, 2008

The CPA Football Creed

CPA Football Creed

I believe in CPA football- a special time in my life, ordained by God

I AM A BROTHER- Alone I will fail, together we WILL succeed

I AM A WARRIOR -We suffer together so that we WILL persevere together

I AM A CHAMPION -We WILL Train and We WILL play to exhaustion








DAY 31 Winning Edge Devotions

2 TIM. 1: 8 Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord, nor of me his prisoner, but share in suffering for the gospel by the power of God, 9 who saved us and called us to a holy calling, not because of our works but because of his own purpose and grace, which he gave us in Christ Jesus before the ages began, 10 and which now has been manifested through the appearing of our Savior Christ Jesus, who abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel, 11 for which I was appointed a preacher and apostle and teacher, 12 which is why I suffer as I do. But I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed, and I am convinced that he is able to guard until that Day what has been entrusted to me. 13 Follow the pattern of the sound words that you have heard from me, in the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. 14 By the Holy Spirit who dwells within us, guard the good deposit entrusted to you.

One year my football seniors met for a leadership retreat at the beginning of the season. We worked through expectations, goals, and requirements for the team. In the six sessions, each senior was asked to consider what it meant to be a leader and a Biblical man. One of my activities that season was to begin writing a football creed. We challenged the seniors to work with the coaches to come up with a creed that expresses the special process of our football program and include our Christian distinctive.

I split the seniors into three groups and made it a competition to see which group could come up with the best “creed”. Here are some of their individual lines within the results:
“Alone you will fail, together we will succeed”
“We suffer together so that we can persevere together”
“Be bold to stand against culture”
“Train and play like a champion”
“Live with humility”
“Honor your brothers”

The coaches and seniors worked on this throughout the season and presented the results at the football banquet. They did a great job! They had Christ as their example and God’s word as the standard.

Football is a special game. The pressure of competition and the physical contact creates a need for “brothers”. The heat and humidity of tough two-a-days and the soreness of a body from intense hitting forges a relationship that is very hard to communicate. It is the hard work and sacrifice that makes “Friday Night Lights” a significant rite of passage for millions of young men in our culture every year.

I am also confident that this process will be more than words. These guys are writing a creed that they will live by. Have you thought about doing the same? At the end of this 31- day project I encourage you to sit down and write a statement about who you are and how you plan to live each day as a champion! May the Lord continue to bless your walk!

Check the next post to read the Creed.



REV. 5: 11 Then I looked, and I heard around the throne and the living creatures and the elders the voice of many angels, numbering myriads of myriads and thousands of thousands, 12 saying with a loud voice, “Worthy is the Lamb who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing!” 13 And I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea, and all that is in them, saying, “To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be blessing and honor and glory and might forever and ever!” 14 And the four living creatures said, “Amen!” and the elders fell down and worshiped.

There is a purpose in winning and losing. The purpose is part of the design of measurement and meaning. Losing peaks our hungers and hurts. The importance of losing is the feeling we have. It is a reality. We suffer loss and the suffering pulls off all the facade of false living and idolatry. It also prepares us for winning.

The joy of winning is maximized to the degree of probability of loss; the greater the conflict, the more dangerous the foe, the greater the win. The thrill of winning is a type of glory. Think about a team that has always come short, year after year. There is a nemesis that has always taken away their joy. After years of failing, that same losing team finally breaks through. The joy of that celebration! The satisfaction of that accomplishment!

The gospel account is really a story of a great victory in the aftermath of great loss. God and man experienced pain over the fall in Eden. God’s holiness demanded wrath. There was the administration of a curse: thorns, sweat, pain,…and death.

A hero came and took on the curse. He took on the thorns, sweat, pain, and death on a cross. What seemed like a tragic loss as He was placed in the tomb was actually a preparation for final victory.The celebration of the resurrection was magnified by the loss and suffering of sin. It was a type of glory, the story of accomplishment.

This is lived out day by day in our lives. The seasons of defeat seem to beat us down and wear us out. We hide in shadows of sin and shame. Our enemies continue the accusations and threats. We retreat on roads of cynicism or addictions.

But the losses are preparing us for victory. We hunger for love and hold on to hope. We cry out to our Father and His love for us never stops. We feebly reach out one more time and step into a glorious win!

The above passage is the celebration of eternal championships. That same type of celebration is available to our hearts. We must keep preaching the gospel to our selves everyday, fight the good fight of faith, persevere through times of defeat, and expect sudden victory! God is too good to not right all the wrong!

Lord, I want to have the glory of accomplishment written on my heart. Give me the strength to keep hanging on! AMEN

Monday, February 25, 2008


DAY 29 Winning Edge Devotions

1 CORIN. 2: 14 The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned.

Every army, in order to prevail on the battlefield, needs a certain number of people capable of courage, initiative or leadership beyond the norm.” Max Hastings, Warriors

We train our football players to be young warriors. Early in their football experience, we do drills where they put on the equipment and physically compete. There is a winner and a loser in almost all the drills. The intensity of the fight can be very dramatic! Over the course of training, these young men learn to fight.

It is the warrior spirit that causes some people to take notice, and often this characteristic has been admired. Many cultures have been established and maintained by prowess on the battlefield.

At the same time, their peers in society have also disliked many warriors. Some people feel uncomfortable around ‘fighters’ because warriors are the type of people not afraid to 'stir the pot' or face awkward circumstances.

I find it interesting to watch different reactions to my football players. Some people are ready to elevate them just because they play football and others are ready to tear them down for the same reason. I constantly advise our players to be careful as to how they walk, knowing that some natural detractors exist. And they sometimes add to the fire of dislike by doing foolish things.

As Christians, we also have natural detractors. The Bible describes them as ‘natural men’ who cannot comprehend the ways of God. We are encouraged in scripture to make every effort to live in peace with all men, but the above passage and many others guarantee that the majority will never accept us. Our relationship with Christ will always cause a separation with the world.

I write this for us to remember to be careful. And we must never water down what we believe in order to be accepted. We live to fight for our faith, but we also do so trying to keep a loving spirit about us as we walk.

The harder we fight for our faith and families, the more we will face misunderstanding and even persecution. If you are a good fighter, be careful, because there are a lot of people who do not like that ‘warrior spirit’. If you are a man's man and have grown up fighting for what you get- look out- this culture will not accept you with great comfort. It doesn’t keep us from fighting for the truth, but it does prepare us for misunderstanding in the midst of this fallen world.

Some of my greatest hurts in life have come from friendly fire of Christians who do not back me in a good cause. It hurts, but that is life. We must not hold grudges and move on. Most men are at their core, weak and they flee from conflict. There are few who will stand and fight well. And that is not going to change anytime soon. Sometimes you fight with a few, but if the battle is a worthy one- fight on!

Lord, you are pictured as a ‘warrior God’, fighting for what is right. Help me have great discernment about the noble causes and help me stand firm when others flee, fail, or lash out at me in misunderstanding. AMEN


DAY 28 Winning Edge Devotions

PHIL. 1: 3 I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, 4 always in every prayer of mine for you all making my prayer with joy, 5 because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now. 6 And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.

Moments before a big game, I look around the locker room at my team. I know that we have done all we can to be ready for this moment. It takes hours of training to prepare a team for this game.

We have conditioned in the heat. We have run gassers, and shuttle runs, and cone drills. We have hit the ground and gotten up time and time again. I have seen almost all of these players hang their heads in fatigue- sweat dripping off their bodies, chests heaving for breath.

We have lifted weights and done sit-ups and push ups. We have diagrammed every formation and play. We have done drills every practice. We have used cadence and stance, we have rehearsed almost every conceivable formation and motion. We have worked substitution patterns, personnel packages, and injury plans.

We have put out and put up our equipment day after day. We have watched hours of film and discussed our plans for untold hours. We have worked together, cried together, broken up soldier fights, and iced sore bruises.

I look over this incredible group of young men and they seem so conditioned and very confident. The repetition together has produced an expectation of success. We are ready to translate the preparation into a product of winning plays and we seek a win.

I also know that we are prepared for all kinds of situations that the game nay present. We have worked situations on offense, defense, and in the kicking game. I also have trained us to be tough and conditioned in the late stages of battle. We are ready!

In our spiritual development, Christ takes on the role of training. He takes us through life and gives us the rehearsal and life experiences we need for future victory. As I look over my 25 years of walking with Him, I see moments where He was preparing me. Sometimes those moments were incredibly painful. I have spent lonely nights in darkness asking the whys. He never directly answers, but He will never miss an opportunity to show me where He was leading.

It is hard to wait for Him in this training; I get impatient and want the reward- NOW. But He gently guides in His perfect timing and plan. A friend of mine told me that ‘God is never late, but He is seldom early’. I have waited sometimes 10 or 15 years for Him to finally come through and realize that it was just the right moment.

So I am back in the locker room. The training has us conditioned and the conditioning has sprouted confidence. It is time to go and fight for the prize!

Father, You are always working on us. As we move forward in this partnership of the gospel, thank you that You care enough to prepare us. I thank You for Your timing and grace. I thank You that You always provide the training we need. Help us be patient in the process!

Friday, February 22, 2008


DAY 27 Winning Edge Devotions

1 JOHN 1: 8 If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.

In football, we teach a principle called ‘winning the sudden change’ and it takes place after we have some type of turnover. If we give up a fumble, throw an interception, or have a punt blocked we ask the defense to run on the field with a lot of enthusiasm and resolve to stop the momentum and fight to limit points.

I remember one game in particular where we fumbled early in the game and our defense hit the field with so much excitement that even the officials looked at us like we were crazy. Our defense went out with such an attitude that we stopped the opponent and ended the threat.

When we make mistakes, it puts us immediately in a negative spin. If we are not careful, one slip up can create all kinds of errors and poor attitudes. As a coach, I am always looking for ways to not follow up mistakes with more mistakes. Sometimes the errors come in bunches.

The quicker we can recover and get back in the competition, the better. It takes a focused and poised demeanor to face the problem head on and work through it.

This passage in I John is a great balance for us in handling mistakes or errors in our spiritual lives. The first principle in this passage is that we will sin. When we become Christians, we still have to live out our life in the flesh. We are new creatures in Christ, but there is a process where we begin to grow in the new nature that God has given us. The Bible speaks of putting off the old and putting on the new. It is a sometimes frustrating process of 2 steps forward and 3 back, 4 steps forward and 2 back, until, over time, we begin to show the habits of what Christ desires in us.

I think one of the key points in this process of sanctification is ‘winning the sudden change’ or, in other words, quickly rebounding from sin into repentance. I believe this passage is encouraging us to quickly confess and not spend long times weighed down by sin.

God forgives us, in His love and mercy, and restores us. His forgiveness is cleansing and redemptive. The quicker we can agree with Him our errors, the sooner we can begin the steps of progress and not decline.

If you know you have blown it and the game momentum is changing. Win the sudden change by turning to the God of grace and trust Him to make things right. The sooner we do that, the quicker we can get back to walking with Him in meaning and victory!

Father, forgive me for coming up so short. I marvel at Your love for me and Your readiness to cleanse and restore me. Do not allow me to wander from You or spend time running from Your grace. Help me to see this as a sudden change opportunity to leave it before the cross and continue my journey with You!


DAY 26 Winning Edge Devotions

1 PET. 4: 12 Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. 13 But rejoice insofar as you share Christ's sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed. 14 If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you.

When we make the playoffs, I always try to remind our team to expect incredible intensity. The stakes are much higher because the loser is done. This makes everything more intense. If a team fails to recognize the seriousness of the moment, they will fail.

A lot of times, this happens in our spiritual lives before we are even aware of the stakes. When you make a decision to live for God, you immediately enter into a high stakes competition with eternal consequences.

When we refuse to acknowledge God, our lives just seem to move along. We have an endless appetite for distractions and we confuse a life of activity for a life of meaning. This wandering through life may cost us years of living with no real direction or purpose. We move from one marker to another and we never seem to have any turmoil or struggles.

When we awaken to the things of God, we find now that we have been in an eternal struggle all along. Our enemy has done an excellent job in blinding us to the things that really matter. We are now engaged in a joyous struggle. We find that we have died and Christ lives in us. He has purchased us with His precious blood and we now have a desire to live for Him.

Our lives now consist of a strange urgency. We feel so alive and we are pressed into a glorious service of faith. Every conversation now is important. We begin to see every life in light of eternity.

Peter tells us to not be surprised when we find ourselves in a fire-fight. In fact, we should expect incredible intensity. Our enemy is more aware of us and we are now dangerous to his cause. We also begin to dislike the sin in us and we desire sweeping changes in our soul. We also find ourselves growing as strangers in this world, sometimes even having to suffer mockery or persecution.

Paul also says for us to ‘rejoice’- this is evidence of a life of meaning and glory! It is evidence of God’s spirit being a part of our lives. The trials are actually comforts!

It is a great privilege to play a playoff game. It is a game that matters. We don’t mind the added pressure and increased intensity. So it is with our life in Christ. We are serving the Lord, and our lives matter. We are finding the true purpose for which we were created! Enjoy the battle, enjoin the battle!

Father, thank you for allowing us to participate in living lives of meaning and purpose. Please keep the eternal perspective on our minds and let us rejoice that You are in control. You allow the pacer to be just right. You give us rest when we need it and You lead us through trials in just the right way and time. Thank you for letting us count!

Thursday, February 21, 2008


DAY 25 Winning Edge Devotions

1 PET. 2:19 For this is a gracious thing, when, mindful of God, one endures sorrows while suffering unjustly. 20 For what credit is it if, when you sin and are beaten for it, you endure? But if when you do good and suffer for it you endure, this is a gracious thing in the sight of God. 21 For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps.

Sometimes during the game, it just all goes wrong. There are a lot of terms for it- “the wheels come off” or “we can’t stop the bleeding”- It is the point where all the breaks seem to go the wrong way. Momentum is moving away and it doesn’t look like it is coming back. Fumbles, penalties, missed assignments, cause a panic and produces a vicious cycle of negative energy.

Championship teams find a way to hold on during those times and weather the storm. There are several things we have to do in these situations. The first is, I want to see their eyes. In those eyes I want confidence and intensity. I want to see poised leaders. The right kind of leader will speak encouragingly in this situation. And finally, I tell them to ‘trust your training’.

We train to make good solid plays. We have done it before and we will do it begin. On offense I call a few solid plays or short easy throws. We just want to settle down and string some success together. Training involves doing. It also involves modeling. When a younger player sees the veterans playing hard in spite of the momentum, it teaches them how to act in tough circumstances.

In the above passage, we see an encouragement to hang tough when the momentum swings against us. There are times when life will break against us. We don’t get a win, a relationship goes south, we lose a job, our health slips, we lose a loved one. We may have weeks or months where nothing seems to be going our way. We begin to think that God is working opposite of what we pray.

Peter tells us that it is a gracious thing to stand firm and keeping the Lord in mind. It brings God much glory if you say, ‘Lord, times are tough, but I will not give up on you. I will stay positive and loving.’ It is the same picture that Christ modeled for us.

What an honor to show character and strength for the Lord! It has been said that for every hard thing in life that happens to non-Christians, God allows those things to happen to believers, that the world might see the difference.

How do we do it? Again, we just need to string it together one small step of faith at a time. Maybe just make it to church when you don’t feel like going. Call a friend for lunch. Read the Bible a few days in a row. Pray. Get up tomorrow and try to put it together gain. Thank God for all you do have. See His provision and trust His protection.

Let me see in your eyes a winning look and not a loser’s lean. Walk tall and confident as Christ did! You can make it- trust your training!

Lord, thank you for the hard road. It is not fun, but You use it for my good. Help me hang on and quietly trust You. Father, I need You in these times. Thank you for Your example and Your love! AMEN

Wednesday, February 20, 2008


DAY 24 Winning Edge Devotions

2 Corinthians 8: 7 But as you excel in everything—in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in all earnestness, and in our love for you—see that you excel in this act of grace also .8 I say this not as a command, but to prove by the earnestness of others that your love also is genuine. 9 For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you by his poverty might become rich. 10 And in this matter I give my judgment: this benefits you, who a year ago started not only to do this work but also to desire to do it. 11 So now finish doing it as well, so that your readiness in desiring it may be matched by your completing it out of what you have.

Continuing the theme of being a finisher, I wanted to point out one other idea in adding this quality to our lives.

At practice, we talk a lot about being a ‘line toucher’. This is a reference to running gassers or other drills where a player has to touch a line before changing direction. We always station coaches at these marks to check for athletes that may miss the line and come up short. This is a severe penalty to us. Players who miss reps or don’t finish will usually fall short under pressure, when the game is on the line.

If out ream takes pride in finishing well, touching lines, and going full speed until the whistle then we will make finishing a habit. Teams that finish everything well have a better chance of success.

The theme of winning edges is starting to become very clear. Our God has created us for excellence and winning. Our lives should be victorious marches through the uncertain circumstances of life. We should always have joy, positive intensity, and attitudes of gratitude. Yes, we fall down and grow weary. Yes, we get lonely, angry, tired, and bored. But God has provided a way to always get back up and back in the game.

As we dwell on the sacrifice of the Lord Jesus and bask in His love, we find an ability to go longer and better in His ways. And then we begin to see real change. This change begins today, as we become a line toucher- we want to do it all well and right.

That is what the above passage is encouraging us to do, Excel in all things, especially love and grace. Let your desire to finish be matched by completing it! Keep going, you are doing great!

One of my great joys as a coach is watching a young man become a consistent worker. I have one player in mind when I write this, As a freshman, he would often cry and fail to finish tough workouts. He was small, weak and insecure. Football was such a miserable experience for him that I thought about going to his parents and request that they talk him out of playing. But he never quit.

Over the next two years he began to finish drills. His body matured and he slowly began to improve. His sophomore year, I did not think he would ever be a starter, but I felt like I could put him in when we had big leads. His Junior year he started and caught a touchdown pass in a playoff game. By becoming a line toucher and a finisher, he became a winner! We all can do this!

Father, we are close to the finish. Don’t let us come up short. I pray that You will continue to build those habits of holiness every day so that we can walk in victory and grace! AMEN

Tuesday, February 19, 2008


DAY 23 Winning Edge Devotions

2 TIM. 4: 4:1 I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: 2 preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. 3 For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, 4 and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths. 5 As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry. 6 For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure has come. 7 I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. 8 Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that Day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved his appearing.

When the clock ends the 3rd quarter of football games, a lot of teams will hold up 4 fingers signifying the last quarter and the need to finish strong. The ability to finish is a difficult habit to develop. I once heard a definition of character as, ‘the resolution to finish a task long after the mood is gone’.

Sometimes the first three quarters have been very tough. Players have aching muscles and incredible fatigue. The excitement and adrenaline is long gone. It now takes a special, deep strength to find the intensity to finish strong.

In the above passage, Paul tells Timothy that his 4th quarter is about over. As Paul looks back, it has been a tough game. He has endured many wearying battles emotionally, physically, and spiritually. He still finds himself in difficult circumstances. Paul tells Timothy that men will turn from the truth and the battle will always be hard.

But Paul also models what we are to do as faithful finishers- one day at a time, faithfully doing our work as ministers of the gospel.

How can we find the ability to do this? It is not natural. Our natural disposition is to start well with high hopes and find it easy to quit before the task is done. The last few inches of the sill are tough to close. The last 5 lbs is the hardest in a diet.

First, there has to be a resolve to do it. You set a goal and you take it seriously enough to complete the task. Having a measurable goal helps in this.
Second, a friend helps. Paul is writing encouragement to Timothy. We all need that helper. At the end of the game, it helps to look around and see your teammates committed to the same thing you are.
Third, we put our head down and just do the next step, play the next play- a little at a time.
Finally, there is a reward for finishing. The greatest satisfaction is finishing a tough task with purpose and energy. As believers, we have a secure hope in heaven!

It’s Day 23- make a decision to finish this path that you have started on!

Lord, I know that I need You if I am to ever to become a good finisher. I need a fourth quarter push. The end is in sight and I want to finish with a lot of heart and hustle. Provide a ‘coach’ to encourage me and keep the reward in mind. Thank you for faithful men like the apostle Paul for their faithful fight! AMEN

Monday, February 18, 2008


DAY 22 Winning Edge Devotions

LUKE 16:8 The master commended the dishonest manager for his shrewdness. For the sons of this world are more shrewd in dealing with their own generation than the sons of light. 9 And I tell you, make friends for yourselves by means of unrighteous wealth, so that when it fails they may receive you into the eternal dwellings. 10 “One who is faithful in a very little is also faithful in much, and one who is dishonest in a very little is also dishonest in much. 11 If then you have not been faithful in the unrighteous wealth, who will entrust to you the true riches? 12 And if you have not been faithful in that which is another's, who will give you that which is your own?

Football coaches talk a lot about the ‘little things’ that matter. The difference in success and failure is sometimes just an inch. Sometimes after we lose I ask myself if I could have done just a little more. If all of us did it just a little bit better, would it make a difference?

The title of this series is ‘winning edges’. It is the idea that sometimes all we need to do to step from defeat and victory is just a razor thin edge. Coach Bryant used to instill the idea that all football games boil down to 4 or 5 plays that represent the difference in the game. Because the players never know what those plays might be, he preached that teams must play every play like it is the difference maker.

The passage above is part of an unusual parable that Jesus tells in Luke 16. The general message is that it is smart to prepare for consequences. The dishonest manager is commended for making moves to protect his future. He understands the way things work and works the system with urgency to his favor.

As believers in Christ, I believe we are to be winners in everything. I think it matters how we live, how we work, how we appear. We should be shrewd and not naïve.

Does it really glorify God if we are B grade in everything? Does our ministry matter if our lives are sub-standard?

I believe God is honored when we live lives of success top to bottom. We don’t sell our souls to pursue worldly wealth, we don’t serve mammon, but we don’t shrink from trying to be the best.

I want to be the best coach in my conference. I want my team to be the best team. I want my school to be the best school. I want all that I do to show God as first class. Anything with Christ attached to it should have an air of excellence!

How do we achieve this atmosphere of success? One little well done step at a time. Everything we do should be done with a sense of urgency and thought. We evaluate and correct. We put great effort in finding the winning edges. If we do all the little things right, we build habits of winning and success. Take a look at your room, house, closet, body, car- do those things show diligence and excellence? Begin with little things and win- at some point, championships will follow.

Father, I have not been faithful in little things. My life does not have an air of excellence. I have not competed shrewdly in this world. Please help me have the discipline and urgency to honor You by doing all things well. Let me find a winning edge… even today! Thank you for fresh starts to move in the right direction.

Sunday, February 17, 2008


DAY 21 Winning Edge Devotions

ROM. 5: 6” For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. 7 For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die— 8 but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”

I still don’t get it. I have heard it all my life. I teach it. I believe it. But I still have a hard time grasping the concept of Jesus dying for me. He chose to die for me. He did it with a motivation of love!

One reason I struggle to grasp this is because it so foreign to me. By nature, I am a very selfish person. I really do not understand sacrifice and love for anyone other than myself. To give up something for someone else is not natural.

If my children cause me to lose sleep I am grouchy, If someone takes up my lunch time, I am inconvenienced. Make me late or hold me up and I am a bear of a person to live with. I am soooo weak. I fully get Romans 5:6. I struggle understanding how Jesus could give such a sacrifice for me. I would like to think I would die for my kids, it is the noble thing to do. I pray to God that He would allow me to suffer before my wife would have to. I would lay down my life for my wife.

But if someone asked me to give my life for that dirty, bummed out man on the corner of the street? NO WAY! Would I give one of my children for a drug addict? FORGET IT!

But that is what God did for me! I am a bum, a loser, a drifter compared to the holiness and perfection of Christ. It is too much for me to comprehend!

What impact should this have on me? For a long time I felt a little guilty that it took that much of a sacrifice for me to be forgiven. But God’s love has turned my guilt into gratitude. My faith now allows me to accept this great gift and rejoice in it. But it is a very precious thing!

I should also now be motivated to sacrifice for others. I believe that our generation knows little about that king of sacrifice. What are we willing to give up to help others. Can I give of my time and talents to better someone else?

I find that I am very generous with things that really don’t cost me much. Rarely, do I give to where it really takes an effort or a sacrifice. I need to meditate more on what Christ has done and see if I can look for ways to sacrifice a little.

As a coach, I want to inspire my team to sacrifice. It begins with giving up selfishness and learning to give to the team. To the extent that we can learn to do that, will be a big part of our ability to become great.

I now challenge myself to sacrifice for God’s team. What can I give today? Do I see a need that I can meet? Is there some time I can give? Am I using my budget to serve? If Jesus gave His all, can’t I give just a little more?

Lord Jesus- thank you- thank you- thank you- I am overwhelmed by Your love and sacrifice. Keep me mindful of how I can learn to give a little more. Not to earn Your favor, but out of a heart of thankfulness!

Saturday, February 16, 2008


DAY 20 Winning Edge Devotions

2 CORIN. 1: 3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, 4 who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. 5 For as we share abundantly in Christ's sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too. 6 If we are afflicted, it is for your comfort and salvation; and if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which you experience when you patiently endure the same sufferings that we suffer. 7 Our hope for you is unshaken, for we know that as you share in our sufferings, you will also share in our comfort.

I think the greatest team builder in the world is suffering. My closest football teams have been teams that experienced some type of shared pain. None of us want it that way and we want to avoid it as much as possible. But at the end of the year, we got closer when we laughed, but we grew together when we cried or hurt.

I’m not exactly why this is true. It may be the first time we see one another without masks or we see how much individuals care- but pain is a useful tool in forging a team of one heroic purpose. That is one reason why I push them so hard in summer camp- they have to experience hardship to break down all the barriers to brotherhood.

The above passage contains that same sentiment. When pain comes, we should be urgent and diligent to support each other and comfort one another. The best comfort is time and understanding. It is not a three point sermon. I never really ever want to preach to my team following a loss- it is usually a one on one evaluation of who needs support the most. It is a time to seek out the injured and quietly stand with those that are taking it the hardest.

When we receive God’s comfort, it helps us to be sensitive to others in similar pain. I remember what it was like to have a football injury and I look to make sure that guy feels a part of the team. I remember the hurt of losing my senior year in the playoffs and I usually pour all my empathy to them.

In our football creed we have a line that says: “We suffer together so that we WILL persevere together”- which is related to Romans 5:3,4 which says, “More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope.”

When we suffer and comfort, we eventually heal. That healing produces unity and strength. If you ever have to compete against a team with this type of unity- look out- it may be a tough night!

If you are hurting, go comfort others. If you see someone hurting, comfort them. You will reap a great harvest of hope!

Father, please send ministers to me in my hurt and, as I heal, help me to comfort others. I have tasted of Your goodness, allow me to share it with others! AMEN

Friday, February 15, 2008


DAY 19 Winning Edge Devotions

HEB. 12: 2 looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.

A comeback victory is the sweetest win of all. There is something about a football team being down and all hope seems lost, and they find a way to claw back and win it in the end!

It’s getting harder to keep teams in that ‘never quit’ mindset. There have been times in my coaching past where I stop a film at a point where we are 14 or 21 points down and ask the team, “Right here, men, did you still believe you could win?”

Part of the inability to stay focused and fight is a modern phenomenon called “the re-set button”. It is a button found on most video games. If the game starts poorly, most kids will just press that re-set button.

My generation had no such button. We had to learn to keep playing. If I could pick a re-set button, I would use it in golf. I could keep re-starting until I got that par on the first hole! I will say that I am glad I grew up without that re-set button, I learned that there is an honor of fighting well to the end and, at times, you come back and win!

Jesus is an inspiration of endurance. I am still amazed at the courage, discipline, and toughness needed by Him to choose to die. In agony, he prayed the night before His torturous road to the cross- there was NO short cut to salvation- it was a road that no man can imagine!

When this verse says that he endured the cross for the joy set before Him, can I fathom that?! What was His joy?

The joy was you and me. He looked forward to welcoming us into His kingdom based on His sacrificial purchase of our very souls. How did He keep walking uphill while the blood dripped down? JOY How did he gather Himself to lie down willingly on that cross? JOY How did He endure the agony of nails? JOY How did He endure the shame of sin? JOY

You are in the 19th day of walking with Christ. Some days have been so sweet and good, while others have been tedious and difficult. Keep Jesus as your model. If He kept getting up, so can you! Don’t give up on your pursuit. Keep moving to the Lord and look forward to your comeback victory!

Father, You are the King of Comebacks! When things seem all but lost, You break through in swift and sudden victory. For the sake of joy, keep me steady in YOU!


DAY 18 Winning Edges Devotions

HEB. 12:1 “Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us.”

The above verse has always fascinated me. As a coach, what do you think comes to mind as I read ‘a great cloud of witnesses’? I get the privilege of conducting a game in the midst of a big group of people called fans. We have big crowds at our stadium and we also get a lot of media coverage. I never coach for these witnesses, but I am mindful of them.

When you are being watched, there is a certain level of accountability that encompasses that. You definitely don’t want to lay an egg in front of a bunch of spectators. I do know that when our fans get energized, it spills over into our play on the field. Think about a tight, big ball game and the sudden explosion of cheering as a player makes a game winning catch or tackle! That outburst of celebration is something special and creates a lifetime of memories!

If you are familiar with this Bible passage, you know who these witnesses are. Hebrews 11 lists the heroes of faith. When you look at the named and un-named saints and what they endured, you marvel at their heart for God and ability to trust the Savior!

This group of spectators puts a whole new spin on the meaning and accountability on the game. I wonder how different I would feel if our stadium was full of former hall of fame coaches. How much more would I celebrate if they cheered?

I don’t picture these heroes with folded arms and grumbling. I hear them cheering, ‘You can do it!” I feel the applause and the prayers. These former winners are pulling for us with excitement and love!
Does that inspire you to go deeper or longer? Let us get leaner and more focused to continue the race they started.
I know that it is popular in athletic circles to teach about the audience of one, meaning to worry only about God’s pleasure and not the praise of men. I think that this is valuable and helpful for our motivation.

But I also think that it is equally inspirational to accept the cheering of significant warriors in the faith. Moses followed God and that helps me. Jim Elliot asked God to consume him as fuel for the kingdom- do I have that same passion? Mother Theresa served the poor and destitute, can’t I feel some of that compassion?
These saints ran their race so well- it is not to much to ask me to follow.

Lord, thank you for the cloud of witnesses. I feel the positive pressure to honor them. This is a welcome help to keep going! The most faithful witness is the Lord Jesus Christ! I ask Him to help me lose the weights and sin. Let me feel the cheers and applause of heaven, to You glory alone! AMEN

Thursday, February 14, 2008


DAY 17 Winning Edge Devotions

REV. 21: 1 Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. 2 And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. 3 And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. 4 He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”

I feel very fortunate as a coach to have three state championship rings in a trophy case on my desk at home. I had a coaching mentor call me on the eve on our second championship game to wish us luck. His call ended with, “you need to be grateful for this opportunity. Very few coaches get to do what you are about to do”. I hung up the phone and realized what a blessed man I am.

Those rings are getting older. I have not been able to take a team to the championship game in over four years now. Sometimes, those rings seem to represent another separate life and there are no guarantees that I will ever get another one.

How different are the rewards that are guaranteed and waiting for us. The new heaven and new earth is coming. These are rewards that will never grow old or fade.

Just as it helps to look on those rings from time to time, I also believe it is important to re-visit our coming victory from time to time. The King is coming to remove all the rottenness and wrong and make all things new.

The newness of heaven is like the dawning of a spring day that never fades; a new car smell that never goes away, and a warm embrace that never grows cold.

I think that it is almost sad that we cannot even imagine the glory of heaven. Harps, clouds, and halos have corrupted our thoughts of heaven. Take the greatest thrill you have ever had on earth and multiply it to infinity- that is what God’s city will be like!

Does the thought of being an astronaut capture your interest? Imagine flying to a planet and finding discoveries for five hundred years.

You can’t even begin to think of a worship experience that you would hunger for like a world-class meal. You can’t draw a place so beautiful that you tremble. You can’t feel a love that heals all your former hurts…permanently.

Our view of heaven is low, because our understanding of God is rather small. That’s okay- he will make it unbelievable good anyway. Makes those championship rings seem quite unimportant now. The best victory is upon us!

Father, as I grow weary in the battle or worry about loss, please let the glimpse of victory keep me going. Because of Christ, I am on a winning team and I thank you for
That prize! AMEN

Wednesday, February 13, 2008


DAY 16 Winning Edge Devotions

EPH. 4: 31 Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. 32 Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.

Football is never about perfection. If you go back and analyze each play of each game, you will see all kinds of missed assignments and blown coverages. It is also impossible to go through a season without some sort in personal conflicts.

These can be as shallow as simple soldier’s spats in practice or as complex as years of neglect or bullying. Coaches are not immune from the issues. Given time and human nature, all relationships can deteriorate into fragile and fractured pieces.

A team that holds onto anger, bitterness, or slander will crumble under pressure. I have seen good football teams torn apart by selfishness and bitterness. I have also seen good coaching staffs crumble under the weight of broken friendships and hurt feelings.

Another word that stands out in the above passage is clamor. I think of clamor as that underground talk that can rob a coach or team of their unity. It is the behind the scene doubting and gossip that undermines the good spirit of a team.

In the end, people who hold onto slander, wrath, bitterness, anger, and clamor are themselves destroyed. This is the primary reason that the Bible asks us to put it away. Don’t keep hating because it will poison you in the end.

How do we do this? It is really simple. When we truly understand how much God has forgiven us in Christ, there is no injury that we have suffered that compares. If God has put it away in His thoughts of us- we ought to easily put it away in regard to others.

If we can’t do this, then we really do not know the magnitude of Christ’s great forgiveness. As God forgives us, we forgive others.

Mistakes are inevitable; I hope forgiveness is also inevitable. I want my team to go back to the locker room and get it right. I want a team that is kind and forgiving to one another. Is there a relationship in your life in disrepair? Do the right thing and make it right. Forgive the offender, even if they have not asked. Ultimately, the forgiveness will only restore you.

Lord, help me to see Your great forgiveness and let it compel me to forgive others. Help me to see that kindness and forgiveness actually heals my heart. Thank you for loving me and forgiving me. I ask You to forgive those that are grieving me. I will make an effort to begin forgiving them. I know this is the only path to peace.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008


DAY 15 Winning Edge Devotions

PSALM 116:5 Gracious is the Lord, and righteous; our God is merciful. 6 The Lord preserves the simple; when I was brought low, he saved me. 7 Return, O my soul, to your rest, for the Lord has dealt bountifully with you.

I cannot describe the incredible thirst that happens to a football player during hot and humid summer two-a-days. The desire can be so intense that players will sip on sweaty wristbands just to experience thirst relief.

Much has changed about football, but the best change is that we now give water during practice. My last year of high school football was still very close to the ‘no water policy’ of some crusty old coaches. I was allowed one sip from a hose! Why we did not have more heat related deaths amazes me!

We work overtime now providing ample water and cold ice towels during the hot summer days. We also realize that a player must hydrate after practice to replace what he lost during the workout. We will weigh in players before and after practices and will actually hold them out of the next practice if they have not gained enough of their water weight back.

There is a deeper thirst in us, however. As humans made in the image of God, we have a deep hunger for HIM. We often try to fill this thirst with worldly things like fortune, fame, power, or pleasure- but they never seem to completely satisfy.

In the above Psalm, David writes about the real thirst-quincher of God’s grace.
When we are dry and thirsty, worn out by life, and torn up by sin- it is God’s grace that washes over us and brings complete healing and restoration.

David has to preach it to himself. He says “O my soul” which is a way of reminding himself of all of God’s blessings and provision.

To not remind ourselves about God’s grace makes about as much sense as that one luke-warm sip. Stop sipping and start gushing in the grace of the Lord Jesus! It is a fountain without bottom and brings incredible relief and healing!

Do you really believe in God’s goodness, mercy, and grace? Do you think you have tapped it dry? Are you too weary to turn it on? Do you trust in His ability to satisfy? I challenge you to turn away from the faulty promise of this world to the cool, trustworthy, infinite spring of love and grace!

Father, teach us to fully imbibe of your sustenance and mercy. Help us to dive deep in Your fountain of mercy. Wash us whole and fill us new! Forgive me for forsaking the living water of Your sacrifice for me. Once I drink of You, I know that I will never thirst again!


DAY 14 Winning Edge Devotions

GEN. 32: 24-32 (A PARAPHRASE)
Then Jay was left alone and a man fought with him until daybreak. And when he saw that Jay would not quit fighting, he touched Jay and hurt him; so much that Jay hurt as he fought with him. Then He said, “Let me go, for the dawn is breaking.” But Jay said, “I will not let you go unless you bless me.” So He said to him, “What is your name?” And Jay said, “Schemer” And he said “Your name shall no longer be schemer, but “God Striver”; for you have devoted serious energy with God and with men and have prevailed.” Then Jay asked him and said, “Are you God, Do you care?” And Jesus blessed Jay there- even as Jay was sweating, and hurting, and bleeding. So Jay named the time of suffering “the face of God” for he said, “I have seen God face to face, yet my life has been preserved.” Now the sun rose upon him just as he crossed the river to a new adventure, and Jay was limping, but Jay was blessed….it was time to receive even more blessing.

Life is a series of battles, there is no way around it. The passage above is really the story of Jacob and all of the circumstances God used to change him from the inside out. Jacob’s name means “schemer” or “deceiver” and he spent much of his life as a manipulator. He would lie, cheat, steal or do anything to get his way.

Then, through a series of hard circumstances, Jacob was left to struggle. The struggles began producing the fruit of character. It finally culminated in this epic story of Jacob wrestling with God. In this struggle, Jacob was given a new name and a new destiny. But the road of progress always includes pain.

I substituted my name in the above passage because I have experienced hard times in the Lord. Now, the Lord laughs at what I call ‘hard’- my suffering is nothing compared to what many others have had to endure. But I have felt betrayal and disappointment, loneliness and despair. There have been dark moments where I believed my whole life was going to crumble.
In football, I have had some bitter losses and deep, painful experiences.
Put your name in the passage above, can we persevere like this?

There are two very important points in this process. The first one is to keep fighting. Jacob wrestled with the Lord all night. In the darkest moments when all seems lost, we need to keep striving. We need a rugged disposition to fight to the bitter end.

A second important point though is seen in the tactic. The Lord jumped Jacob and wrestled with him. I imagine that early on, Jacob tried to get out of the choke hold. Then, during the night, Jacob changed his plan. Instead of fighting against God, he began to cling to Him. God said to Jacob, “Let me go” and Jacob said, “Not until You bless me”. WOW!

Are you struggling in life? Have you considered pressing into God instead of running? Do you have a battle-hardened spirit that says, “God, You may kill me, but I am not quitting until this comes through.”
You will find blessing. And you will have scars and limps. But that is OK- Jesus kept His scars too! They are marks of victory!

Lord, thank you for the hard road. Give me the strength and courage to fight. Help me to press into You and cling to You… no matter the cost!

Monday, February 11, 2008


DAY 13 Winning Edge Devotions

TITUS 2:11 For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, 12 training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, 13 waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, 14 who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works.

Our football team will often lose the ‘warm-up’. I can’t tell you how many times we have been preparing to play teams and they are ‘fired up’. Some teams really put on a show with all kind of pump up antics. One year I remember a team coming out of the locker room for warm-ups and barking like a pack of wild dogs!
My experience has convinced me that all of the pre-game hype lasts about 15 seconds into the game. Once the game begins, any manufactured emotion melts into the intensity of battle. Don’t get me wrong, I love emotion, but I want real emotion based on what is happening on the field. Teams that live on emotion will have games of highs and games of flat lows. It is hard to get pumped up week after week with emotion. The players end up feeling unprepared if it is all based on pre-game hype and they ‘don’t feel it’.
We want something more reliable. We teach this as ‘intensity over emotion’. The feelings may come and go as the momentum changes, but we demand fiery focus and a commitment to lay it all on the line for your brother in the trenches.
The above passage contains the exact sentiment- notice the focused intensity. Paul writes for us to be’ trained’ to ‘say NO’ to worldly passions and have a steady, disciplined, steadfast hope which is ‘zealous’ to serve the Lord in our lives through good deeds of godliness.
I know some Christians who live their spiritual lives on feelings. “I don’t feel close to God” or “I don’t feel like my prayers are getting through”. Please keep in mind that your salvation is not based on feelings but faith in the fact of God’s promise. Feelings will come with the natural flow of life, but they are very fickle and totally unreliable.
God’s grace is the trainer. It melts our stubborn worldly desires and washes away our shortcomings. God’s grace props us up to walk one more day in hope. God’s grace marks us as His and eventually makes us desire to produce works for His glory.
My challenge to all of us is to get up each morning and get steadied by the truth of God’s existence and encouraged by His gospel message of salvation. Let it be these solid facts that carry us through the day and not have to rely on warm-up pep talks or motivational music. Those things will come in time, but we don’t need them. We have our hope in Christ and that is enough. In fact, it is much more intense than we could ever imagine.

Father, the fact of your salvation and the trust I have in You to keep your promises is what carries me through the toil of life. There are days that I don’t feel You, but that does not hide the truth of Your existence. There are days I don’t feel like living right, but that doesn’t give me an excuse for ignoring such a wonderful salvation. I walk in truth, today, even if I don’t feel like it. And I do it with intensity of purpose. AMEN!

Sunday, February 10, 2008


DAY 12 Winning Edge Devotions

COL 3:5-6”Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. On account of these the wrath of God is coming.”

In our understanding of grace, we sometimes water down the impact of sin. We must keep a clear understanding of the stain and destructive power of attitudes and actions that the Lord despises. He hates them so much because He loves us so much.

Sin dominates and corrupts; it is a sure path to bondage and pain. If you think about it, evil is always the corruption of good. As we look at the list above, we get a stark picture of good things gone wrong. Ultimately, it is a disposition where we look at the Creator and say, ‘No thanks, I’ll do it my way” – it is a snub with a sneer.

Paul writes in this verse to “put to death” which is a commentary on the urgency of the call. We are reminded of Christ teaching about cutting off hands and plucking out eyes; this struggle is no light matter, it is a death match.

As a football coach, I have to prepare my players to fight. I will warn them from time to time about the need to come into a game expecting a war. One year we showed up with a ‘practice pace’ and the other team was stoked! It was a killing! We fell early to their intensity and the other team ripped us. I will say sometimes, “Don’t be shocked when that other team tags you on your chin- you better be ready to fight!”

We often treat our sin with play gloves and a practice pace. Do we not see the danger? If we treat sin lightly, we are showing contempt for the cross. The cross points to God’s very hatred of the things we find so prevalent in our lives.

‘Sexual immorality’ is the cheapening of God’s gift of marital intimacy. We turn tenderness into selfish sensuality. Think of the damage done to women in the rampant disregard of God’s prohibitions. ‘Impurity’ goes along with this. This is the idea of being way too casual with boundaries. It is a mental assent that says, “I’m really not that bad or I can play with sin and not get burned”. ‘Earthly passion’ is an unchecked desire for temporal rewards or pleasures with no regard to God. Passion apart from the moderation of God’s word and spirit always causes chaos.

‘Evil desires’ is the constant lust for the base and dark things of life. We are drawn to the power and allure of fortune, fame, power, and pleasure. Finally, covetous says to God, “You are not enough” or worse, “You are a liar and I cannot trust you”. It puts that thing we covet above the Lord and becomes a substitute god.

We need to gear up to fight and kill these things before they kill us. To lose this battle could cause a loss of family, reputation, trust, and effectiveness for the kingdom. If you want to be a champion, you must find a sense of urgency to keep attacking the sin in your life!

FATHER, Forgive me. I have not hated the things You hate. I am guilty of hammering the nails to the cross with no regard for the pain You endured to forgive me. Show me those things in a new light and let me wage a hearty battle with Your spirit as my helper! Do not let me attack these things in others, I want to fight them in me. Thank you for forgiveness!

Saturday, February 09, 2008


DAY 11 Wining Edge Devotions

JOHN 15: 12 “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. 13 Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. 14 You are my friends if you do what I command you. 15 No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you. 16 You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you. 17 These things I command you, so that you will love one another.

We live in very self-centered times. Fifteen years ago players would talk about region and team championships and today I hear a lot more about scholarships. Do you see the difference? Getting teenagers to look beyond themselves is very difficult, but I do believe that if they ever catch the vision of serving and loving others, it can be life changing.
Team service projects can do wonders in helping to teach this concept. I am always looking for ways that I can get my players to help others.

Are you down or discouraged? The quickest recovery is to serve someone else.

There are a number of things we can do daily to practice love and service.
#1- Make it a point to encourage at least three people daily. Look for honest and sincere opportunities to brag on others. Find someone doing something right and point it out. Honor those who are loving and serving well.
#2- Learn to thank all of the people who serve you. Tell them thanks and show gratitude. At my school, I like to walk around and pump up those who serve so well and get very little recognition. I love to give them caps or shirts with out logo on it.
#3- Plan how to love and serve. Get out your PDA or planner and program in time to serve. It could be as simple as a birthday card or complex as working in a soup kitchen, but give time and money to good causes.
#4 Use e-mail lists or phone directories to call and check up on people. I take two evenings a week as I drive home to scroll down my contacts and call. I always just speak a warm word or leave a short message.

I want to do a better job of thinking about others. The Christian life ultimately boils down to loving God and loving others. A way to think of this is, we can practically love God the most by serving others.

How do you read the tone of Jesus above? I read it as a warm tone. It does not strike me as a stern- YOU BETTER LOVE… I COMMAND YOU- instead it comes across as” I want you to love others and you want to”. Why? We love because of the sacrifice for us. Jesus laid down his life for us. Is it that hard to give some effort for others?

Lord, let me see the need today in others. Teach me to serve others. Please forgive my selfishness. Give me that attitude of gratitude that produces warmth and encouragement for others. AMEN!

Friday, February 08, 2008


DAY 10 Winning Edge Devotions

PHIL. 4: 4-7 Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. 5 Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; 6 do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Losing kills me. Some of the worst kind of losses are we had opportunities to win. It is hard to communicate how much my heart hurts when I experience losing, it is a deep, empty, and fragmented sense of failure. I always feel like I have let my players down.

It is interesting some of the ministering spirits God has sent to me in those times. One night my children ran to me on the field right after we lost a heartbreaker. Their hugs numbed the pain… a little. It was so sweet.

On another occasion as I walked off the field, an opposing parent came to me. She asked if I was the coach and I said ‘yes’. She said, "I went to your (school) website this week and wanted to commend you on your stance for Christ." That was a soothing minister who helped.

Psalm 112 says, "1 Praise the LORD! Happy are those who fear the LORD. Yes, happy are those who delight in doing what he commands. 2 Their children will be successful everywhere; an entire generation of godly people will be blessed. 3 They themselves will be wealthy, and their good deeds will never be forgotten. 4 When darkness overtakes the godly, light will come.”

When Paul wrote of rejoicing always…he was in prison! He was being unfairly persecuted for his faith. He encourages us to find Joy- “rejoice” literally means, “find again your joy!”.
Paul pushes us to quickly lose the depression and pray. As we hurt, we need to be ‘thankful’. Our pain is going to produce good fruit down the road. There was one school in particular that had caused us a lot of pain. We shed a lt of tears on their field for three straight years. We prayed, we cried, we thanked, and we kept our spirit of rejoicing alive.

The next year, we finally pushed through a win and we celebrated! Learning to rejoice, makes life all the more sweet and keeps us unbeatable in any circumstance!

Father, teach me to rejoice in all things. Help me to see You in the midst of my pain and let me praise you even in defeat. Give me again the joy of knowing you!

Thursday, February 07, 2008


Day 9 Winning Edge Devotions

ROMANS 4: 18” In hope he (Abraham) believed against hope, that he should become the father of many nations, as he had been told, “So shall your offspring be.” 19 He did not weaken in faith when he considered his own body, which was as good as dead (since he was about a hundred years old), or when he considered the barrenness of Sarah's womb. 20 No distrust made him waver concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God, 21 fully convinced that God was able to do what he had promised. 22 That is why his faith was “counted to him as righteousness.’”

One measure of our success as a football team is how far we grow in learning to trust. Any team is built on a foundational trust. We say that we want a team where players trust players, coaches trust coaches, players trust coaches, and coaches trust players.
When times get tough or the pressure rises, a trusting team will hang together and fight together. A team without trust will quickly disintegrate into useless individuals and the results are disastrous!
Trust is built in time as individuals give themselves to a cause bigger than themselves. The individual learns that he cannot rely on himself to accomplish the objective. As these individuals give themselves in energy, passion, sweat, and pain- they observe others giving the same sacrifice. Then they get a vision of what can happen if they all join together. When a team learns to give up self and give in to trusting their brothers, it is a beautiful experience.
Abraham grew in his ability to trust God. It took a long time of experience to follow the Lord this way. God was always faithful to His promise and Abraham learned to put stock in God.
When the pressures of doubt came, Abraham clung to his trust in God and refused to let go. He did not know how or when God would come through, he just knew that He would do as he always promised.
God’s Kingdom is always victorious and the gospel is never hindered. In the darkest moments of final despair is when God most wants to show up and conquer. God is a hero, and all He wants from us is to just keep swimming, keep swinging, keep praying, keep loving , and …..never, never , never lose hope.
It is important to note that Abraham had to grow in this faith, as we do. Jesus asked the question, "when the Son of Man returns, will He find faith on the earth?" I believe He is referring to this type of faith- if we have anxiety, fear, or are overcome by circumstance- aren't we implying that we really do not trust God to keep His promises?

Lord- may we walk in our faith- may it secure our hearts, not merely fall from loose lips. You are able to do what You say- You will do what You have promised...even when it seems the bleakest!

Tuesday, February 05, 2008


DAY 8 Winning Edge Devotions

JOHN 14: “15 If you love me, you will keep my commandments. 16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, 17 even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you.”

I loved playing football. I started as a Jr. 70 lb 2nd grader and played through two years of college, almost 14 years! During that time I had some incredible coaches. It was their awesome ability to influence me that led to my desire to coach. There is something about a coach that makes you want to please them and follow them.

I never saw these men as perfect, but I knew their words of instruction were helpful. They were invested in me and wanted me to be successful. I can still see a lot of them in my mind today. I was especially blessed to have some great coaches as role models for me. My high school coach was David Cutcliffe and I was honored to play at Alabama for Coach Bryant’s last season.

Coaches represent a standard and knowledge that we do not have yet. As much as I wanted to know the game, I realized that these men had experience and knowledge that I did not have. They also desired to impart in me their knowledge, and they took time every day to tell and train me in the ways of winning football. My respect for them and my admiration of them put me in a place of the willing apprentice. They did not restrict the flow of information; it was up to me to apply diligence and practice.

Without a coach, I can never move forward. There are some men who are disciplined enough to self-train and self-teach, but it is never as intense and fruitful as training under an expert coach.

In John 14, Jesus introduces the greatest coach of all time- God’s Holy Spirit!

It is very clear in this passage that the Spirit is a person. Think about it, as a believer in Christ, you have the awesome benefit of a ‘live-in’ coach! He is with you all the time and ready to help. Have you ever though about the tone of verse 15? For years I read it as a harsh command, like my mom telling me to clean my room. In later years, it seemed to sound more like a natural flow of feelings and actions. I love college football so I watch it. I love pizza, and I look forward to eating it with mouth-watering anticipation.

I love Christ, so I want to obey Him. It is not drudgery for me to follow Christ; it is an honor! I thank my Coach who helps me develop this mindset and attitude. We read later in the passage that the Holy Spirit is the one that convicts of sin and brings to remembrance the things of God. The Bible also makes it clear that the Holy Spirit is the distinctive between natural men of flesh who cannot know God and children of the Spirit who depend on and cry out to the Father. We can also grieve the Holy Spirit when we continue attitudes or actions of rebellion.

Ask God for a search today. Are you aware of His spirit within you? If you are struggling with that, take it up with God. The fact that you are wrestling with it is a good sign of the Coach at work! Then start acknowledging Him and ask Him to coach you on Christ and His ways. He has training aids to take you further than you ever dreamed possible.

Lord, thank you for sending the Spirit. Please allow me to be more sensitive to His training in my life. I realize that when I pray, it is His prayers that are engaged. Thank you for the gift of this coach!


DAY 7 Winning Edge Devotions

ROMANS 11:36 “For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen.”

The most common characteristic I have found on our championship teams is a noticeable absence of selfishness. I always worry about teams that have a number of discontented individuals. The worst example of this is when the team has won, but that individual is not happy after the game because he didn’t get enough touches or playing time.

I make it a habit to look at everyone in the locker room after the game. After a win, we sing a silly song and really celebrate. I don’t care if it was an ugly one-point win- a win is a win and a beat is a beat. So we sing and dance and I watch the locker room for individuals with that ‘far away look’. It is those individuals who need encouragement in the message of “Big Team- Little Me”.

I had a quarterback one game who threw 4 interceptions in the game. He came back in the 4th quarter and threw the game winning touchdown pass. On the sideline as time was running out, I walked up to him and saw the tears streaming down his face.

Usually, I try to gently encourage a young man who is broken like that, but my response was surprising; I lit him up! I was angry that he could not stop focusing on self. I wanted so badly for him to see that it is not about him, we had a team win! Thankfully, the technique worked!

Self- focus is a terrible condition and it infects us all at various times. I believe it one of Satan’s best avenues to steal the joy of living from us. It kills a team.

The individual who cares more about the team than himself is the young man who learns to love and serve. He lives in the comfort of brotherhood and has great help in times of pressure. He is free to compete and tends to be focused on his role.

The most liberating time in my Christian life is when I get my eyes of the temporal and myself, and submit to the loving care of the Sovereign King of the Universe. Everything is about Him. It is all orchestrated to His glory and I an thankful to just be a small part.

Romans 11:36 is the great culminating doxology to some of the most incredible doctrinal statements in the Bible. The apostle Paul has just finished explaining the gospel in depth and detail that takes your breath away. Right after this chapter, he begins the application of these great truths. This great verse at the end of doctrine and the beginning of application is where we get the phrase- “SOLI DEO GLORIA- To God Alone Be the Glory”. It is not about me- It is about Him.

I am a part of a big team and Christ is my captain. When I start living for His glory and not mine, I find life becomes much less crazy. The greatest part is that the Lord cares for ‘little me’!

Father, thank You for being awesome enough to contain and maintain all things! It is comforting to me that You are bigger than my thoughts and unbound by my imagination. Help me to submit to You and live for You. Teach me to reflect glory back to You in humility and gratitude. Keep my focus on You and eternity and off this present circumstance. You are God and in control! Amen!

Monday, February 04, 2008

Embrace the Battle

DAY 6 Winning Edge Devotions

2 CORIN. 10: 3 For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. 4 For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. 5 We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ.

One thing that sets football apart from any other sport is putting on armor and going to war. It is not natural. I remember being so afraid at times playing football- but I faced my fear and became more of a man.

I am always interested in watching our young players face their fears and learn to hit. At different times and in various ways, they learn to embrace the physical side of the game. The best lesson is to learn to be the ‘hitter’ and not the ‘hittee’. The players who flinch often feel the most pain. The warriors learn to attack and become quickly feared. I love the steely eyed toughness of a seasoned fighter- there is awesome strength there!

This life requires learning to fight. One day you may have to fight for a job, for your wife, fight against disease or a tough situation. You may have to fight for your faith. Jesus was a great fighter. He used tough words against the Pharisees, he fashioned a whip and drove out the moneychangers, he carried a cross up the mountain bleeding and hurting for me.

This is a difficult issue. Our society is increasingly becoming more sedentary. Leisure is a big commodity. An unintentional result of leisure and affluence is “softness” or an inability to endure difficult circumstances or discomfort. Education tends to erode necessary traits of survival such as the ability to fight.

Our football program believes that true manhood is a balance between tenderness and toughness. Tenderness without toughness leads to weakness. Toughness without tenderness leads to brutality. Our motto is “become warriors and brothers”.

Our culture is growing increasingly hostile to the core beliefs of Christianity. As the country embraces secularism and relativism we see battle lines becoming more distinct. One thing that is interesting about this passage in I Corinthians is that it is impersonal. Our enemies are not people!

However, make no mistake about our being in a war! As believers we cannot wimp out of the fight. We have the divine power of God to boldly stand in the marketplace of ideas and destroy any argument that stands against the truth of God.

Have you been ignoring a tough situation? What fears are keeping you from engaging a noble fight? Instead of weakly walking in and taking a beating, why not attack in the Holy Name of Christ? There is great strength in winning battles; it creates momentum to win the war!

Lord, I have not been a faithful warrior for truth. Why am I so afraid of that person, they are not my enemy. Help me find the ability to fight in worthwhile ways and for worthy causes. Train me in how to battle! Christ is my great example. Give me His boldness and tenacity!


DAY 5 Winning Edge Devotions

HEB. 10:24 “And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, 25 not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.”

One of the many reason I love football is because it is the ultimate team sport. Football requires incredible cooperation and team unity. In 2006 I began to rethink my definitions of ‘success’ and ‘achievement’ and developed the idea that one factor in our success, as a program, is if we grew into a ‘team’. Many of us know the slogans- “There is no I in Team” and T.E.A.M. “ together everyone accomplishes more”- but I want a team to be much more than a slogan. I think all teams are products of growth. A team cannot be made in a moment; it must be developed over a period of time. The fundamental ingredients to becoming a team are love and trust. To the degree that our players and coaches can learn to love each other and trust each other will be the depth of our power as a team. Ultimately a team is characterized by self-sacrifice and a unity of purpose. Selfishness, bitterness, cynicism, apathy, and isolation are team killers. To develop love and trust requires communication, honesty, forgiveness, tolerance, and effort. A great step to love and trust is learning to suffer together.

I can point to important moments when our football teams experienced major moves in developing the team spirit that we so eagerly wait for each season and it usually follows very difficult struggles or failures. Under pressure, we learn who we can rely on. There is very little pretending in times of pain.

Christianity is a team sport. Our need for the team is based on our enemy being the best one on one player in the history of the world. Our Savior beat Satan in the contest in the wilderness, but no one else has survived the encounter. We need each other to make it in this world of danger and pitfalls.

I believe that God’s mystery is designed to bring us together in fellowship. As we struggle with the questions of Scripture and life, we have to spend time together. It is good to hear different experiences and discuss various ideas. It is good to come together, it is dangerous to drift apart.

One of my mentors noted that most men who fall are isolated, without support or accountability. We need to make an honest effort to take time and invest in the relationships that carry us in life. For a man, it will be his spouse and a significant two or three men who are able to challenge, encourage, love, forgive, and support.

The local church provides some of the greatest opportunities to develop these types of relationships. I challenge men to take time and invest time and energy in building quality men’s ministries in their congregations. Find what you and other men like to do and do it together. Through these similar passions, you can begin to love and trust each other enough to begin encouraging one another. When the pressures of life come or when the opponents attack, you have teammates to rely on. They will watch your back! If you have been living life as a lone ranger, please reconsider. Do not forsake coming together with a team. Begin searching today for those you can encourage and grow with.

Father, who comes to my mind as I think of my teammates? Please help me be the kind of person who can play on a team. Begin building that team today!

Sunday, February 03, 2008


DAY 4 Winning Edge Devotions

JOSHUA 1:8 “This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success.”

One football season our offense had a very hard time scoring in what we call the ‘red zone’. We would drive the football all the way down the field and stall. We could not score touchdowns and we missed a lot of field goals.

The next season we began a practice period called ‘Live at the 35’ where we would spot a ball near the scoring zone and drive for points. We became a lot better at managing that space on the field and learned to adjust, as the ball got closer to the goal line. On 4th down we would punt or kick field goals. With a lot of the same players, the offense that next season learned how to score in the red zone and we scored a lot.

One of the assistant coaches remarked to me that season, “It’s kind of amazing, you get better at what you work on.” That has led us to try to keep in mind to spend practice time working on what we need to do to improve.

I have found the same thing to be true spiritually. It isn’t enough to draw up calendars and plans. A lot of poor performance begins with good intentions. At some point, we have to work the plan. It is in the repetition that we develop long-term memory and the building of habits.

One plan that needs constant work is the study and meditation of the Bible. God’s word is deep and supernatural. It doesn’t read like any other piece of literature I have ever encountered.

There is a wonderful promise here in Joshua 1:8. It encourages us to meditate on the word. This meditation, I believe, is a mental turnover and constant rehearsal of what the text says and how it should be applied.

We need to apply it to our situation. It should not always be directed at others and their issues, it should be directed within. It should be mulled over all day and night. The psychology textbooks tell us that the key to having information stored in our long-term memory is spacing and repetition. We need to multiple encounters with content, put it away for a time, and then return to that information and repeat it again. It is the recurring experience, divided over time, that really goes deep in our being. It is one of the many reasons that we remember music so well.

Notice also that it is the practice of God’s word, in a very detailed way, that brings about success. When we live according to the Creator’s game plan, we find the best environment for success. Every time we ignore God’s plan and go our own way, we close the door to the optimum avenues for true success.

So work the plan. Read it, mull it over, and practice it. Do it again and again. Over time, you will begin to get good at what you work on. Wouldn’t it be great if those things were pleasing to the Lord!

Father, help me have the patience to work the plan. Please remove the day-to-day distractions, which hinder my practice and focus. Let me clearly see what to do, help me to rehearse it, and then give me the strength to practice it.

Saturday, February 02, 2008


DAY 3 Winning Edge Devotions

2 TIM. 3:14 But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it 15 and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.

Every year we begin a quest to build, once again, a successful football team. Training camp consist of the same basic practices each season. Our seniors will hear and practice once again the same drills that comprise our ‘fundamentals’.

In football, all championship teams have great fundamentals. These include proper stances and winning techniques. It takes a lot of practice to instill these winning fundamentals. Practice does not make perfect. One of my favorite youth ministers used to tell our team, “practice makes permanent. Only perfect practice makes perfect.”

On our practice field, we start everyday with these fundamental routines. You will hear our coaches say the same things every day- “Stance, start, form, fit, finish”. Our players go fast with the coaches calling out the buzz words of our system. You will hear “eat the football with your eyes”. The running back coach will say, “tuck it away, high and tight”, the linebacker coach yells, ‘step on toes, bite the football, club arms, grab cloth, and run your feet”.
Our quarterback’s coach repeats , “drop, drop, drop,, and hold our pose” our receivers coach preaches “burst off the cut” and “come and see me”.

This continued repetition builds habits. When our players play the game, we want them reacting and not thinking. By doing the same fundamentals again and again, we develop the proper fundamentals by instinct.

The same habits need to be cultivated in our spiritual lives. The evidence of grace is demonstrated in a desire to practice the disciplines of grace. The fundamentals of Christianity have not changed- we need to read the Word, pray, fast, worship, memorize scripture, share our faith, give. These habits of holiness re-orient our lives to be sensitive to Christ and His kingdom.

Can these habits become meaningless routines? Yes! But just as we push for energy and effort on the football field, we need to add enthusiasm for the fundamentals of our faith. The greatest fundamental, though, is the gospel itself. It is good news for bad people. The message is that Jesus Christ died on the cross for our sin and His resurrection is proof of our hope for eternal life in Him. I cannot earn or deserve this gift of salvation, I humbly accept in faith. I am not trusting in myself for eternal life; I am trusting in the sacrifice of Jesus. It is such an awesome message that it transforms our lives and is the foundation of all we do.

I challenge us to develop a practice schedule that includes a daily dose of fundamentals. Let us find workout partners who will hold us accountable and train in the ways of God. These disciplines are always a part of championship performance.

Lord, I have neglected some vital disciplines of my spiritual growth. I had great excuses for leaving them out including my worry about my life with You becoming routine and monotonous. Now, I find that I give almost no time to my study of Your word and prayer. I have not fasted in years. Father, help me to remember why these disciplines are so good for me and keep encouraging me to practice these with energy. Let my thoughts and daily routine develop habits of holiness to Your glory!

Friday, February 01, 2008


DAY 2 Winning Edges Devotions

PSALM 139: 23 Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! 24 And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting!

Our regular season Monday is a well-rehearsed routine. We lift weights, we watch tape, and we condition very hard. As a coach, it is the film that serves as the greatest teaching tool. We watch the previous Friday’s game play by play.

It is an amazing time – there is satisfaction if the play is a success and embarrassment if the play was a failure. Every player is required to study and listen as the coaches talk over essential details of alignments, stance, and fundamentals. You cannot be thin skinned and survive our film room!

When we slow the play down, frame-by-frame, we are able to see exact moments of success and failure. We run it back and forth, over and over, and there are unlimited details regarding how the player is supposed to step, block, run or tackle. Our coaches are great teachers, and the film clearly shows every detail!

We break down these tapes after every game whether we win or lose. It is a great way to evaluate. We go player-by-player and play-by-play, constantly making observations about the progress of our team. If we are making the same mistakes as the last game, we know that somehow our players are not getting the correct message or techniques.

Sometimes the mistakes are a flaw in the scheme or system, sometimes it is just a player mistake, sometimes it is a great job by the opposition. In every evaluation, we are then able to adjust and plan for future success.

Our lives are so busy in this post-modern world that I worry we don’t have time to evaluate. We don’t take time to rewind the tape and rehearse what went right or what went wrong. I believe that this is a major part of the Biblical idea of meditation. Psalm 139 speaks of God’s constant presence and the psalmist boldly asks for God’s evaluation.

This is a terrifying request. Do I really want to know what God thinks about me? It is easier to keep myself busy in my infinite desire to find distraction. I once saw a sign that quoted Baron Von Trapp saying ‘we often confuse a life of activity as a life of meaning’.

I am suggesting that we get alone and allow God’s spirit to replay our day. Frame by frame and person by person. What was I thinking when I said that? Did that decision glorify God? What values am I demonstrating in my lifestyle? Am I applying God’s word? Am I reading it?

It is only after that kind of honest assessment that we are able to plan progress. We have to know where we are coming from to navigate where we are going.

Father, help me today slow down and honestly evaluate. Search me and know me Lord. Show me what I need to know to move in Your direction. I have been hiding from some dark truths about my heart and motives. Shine Your light on me and let me experience Your merciful presence. I admit that I am afraid to see the depths of my sin, but I know that You are a good God and a loving Father. Thank You for caring enough to show me the truth.