Saturday, September 29, 2018

The Story of 'Winning Edges'

We are literally days away from the 1st high school fishing team to debut on Jimmy Houston's digital network JHL.TV

The reality of this has been a wild ride and I am still look at the circumstances of this adventure with a smile and incredulity.

The very fact that I am a fishing coach period is quite a story.... but let's stick with the origin of the show.


It started as our fishing team met Brent Chapman as I was a part of his season 2 of Pro Vs Joe ( Coach Em Up ) in 2017 . We challenged Brent and he was familiar with that special lake in Louisville, AL. Getting to see a high quality show up close for filming was a beginning of this process.  We loved getting to meet Brent, his family, and his amazing film crew.

But again, it was fun to be a part of that- but I would not have EVER thought I was interested in doing ANYTHING like that. In fact, I was super impressed with how hard it is to do!

Meeting Brent was a special time and it resulted in 3 more episodes of his show : One with Jack Flemming, one with Grayson Morris,  and one with Aaron and Jordan Martens.

But the process was ahead.....It takes A LOT of time and planning to do a show right. And that doesn't count the equipment expense!


I also have to link conversations I had with Coach David Cutcliffe, Brent Chapman producers Anthony Crivelli, and Tom Leogrande- and Montgomery, AL sports promoter, Doyle Powell all together about current culture, training young people,  and how hard it is to target teens with messaging. Each conversation put some thoughts in my mind of how I can get better as a coach and help elevate our fishing program.


Doyle Powell called me about joining Jimmy for filming in Feb. of this year. We had an amazing time and Jimmy Houston is such an inspirational person. The guy still has such great passion for fishing and he understands it as a calling on his life.

That calling drives him to be an instructor and mentor of this sport he loves. Our similarities were not fishing as much as it is for educating and mentoring young people.

As we fished and filmed, we also talked about how to connect with teens- who really watch their peers on you tube more than connecting with a high profile 'star'.

Pat Turner, Jimmy Houston Outdoors producer, and I had a lengthy conversation about their network and his desire to create content to help young anglers.

The more we talked, the more I thought 'I don't know HOW I can pull this together, but we can do it."


When I got back to BCS in Feb, I talked with Coach Matthew Forester, the head of our school media class. Coach Forester and I had already been working together to use the creativity of his students to produce original content and graphics for our athletic programs.

The difficulty in producing our own show started with equipment- the quality we would want to produce wasn't gong to be cheap- so we put together a 'wish list' of audio, video, and editing needs.
The entire package was about $20,000. So immediately, the Lord was going to have to provide before we could even think about it.


We have GREAT anglers at BCS. These guys have worked hard to become great. But I also know that our area in Birmingham has some high school HAMMERS when it comes to competitive bass fishing- so I knew that I had to involve these students as well.

That has been my favorite part of 'Winning Edges"- being around some amazing kids at other schools. High School fishing in Alabama is pretty cool- competitive? YES- but there is also a friendship between anglers at other schools. Even the college guys help the high school guys. We have a GREAT SPIRIT in fishing right now.... if I can get some of the parents to join us, it would be the healthiest competition I have ever been a part of.


The main mission of 'Winning Edges' is 'hands on' educational and inspirational video content. It provides an opportunity for our students to be creative and LEARN. It is as much video training as it is fishing training.

It helps us to showcase WHAT IS GREAT about high school fishing- God, Country, Fishing...and the relationships between schools is very healthy. Watching these guys compete, but also SUPPORT one another is impressive.

We also have great support from college anglers who are teaching and training the high school guys as well.

High school, college, and professional fishing is a very positive thing in our country today! Nothing is perfect of course, but we could not be happier with the support of some great pros like Aaron Martens, Randy Howell, and Brent Chapman along the way.

Also, the manufacturers are starting to realize it is possible to market to this generation by jumping into social media using the young guys as representatives.


So we started... we travelled to Pickwick, Logan, Caroline, and Lay Lake with student film crews. I did start to get donations and we just went with it. We had audio issues, camera shaking issues, and we were filming in the summer during VERY TOUGH conditions.

When we downloaded the hours of b-roll and digital sound... we all went "OH BOY!"

But Coach Forester never wavered, we split the students up into editing 'teams' and just had the guys " Here is your show- get going!". The result was cool- each episode has its own look and feel.

I am very pleased with the outcome- you can tell a difference in the early shows and the last ones- we are all getting better.

We filmed a lot in the summer, so we haven't gotten in a variety of techniques...but our plan is to film a minimum of 2 shows each fishing season (fall, winter, spring, and summer).


When Grayson Morris and Tucker Smith won the natty with JT Russell as their boat captain, it was super special.... AND all of a sudden...Wining Edges was going to have a chance to have a larger impact.

This was evident this past week where we were hosted by Shimano at the Bass Hall of Fame in Springfield, MO. Our guys were introduced  to major leaders and personalities in the world of fishing.

I was able to talk a lot about Winning Edges and solicit advice about the project.


It also helps that Grayson and Tucker stopped at Drake of the way home and  signed an apparel agreement with Drake Performance Fishing. We will be filming new shows featuring Shimano and Drake soon.

TV DEBUT- Mid to Late OCT 2018

So THIS will be up and going VERY SOON-

Saturday, September 15, 2018

Strange Ministers- Why 'Snowflakes' Need to Compete

We had an excellent chapel this week at BCS from Dr. Travis Coblentz who teaches in the UAB department of philosophy. His message was one that no one ever gives to teens.... why it is good that they embrace suffering. Suffering provides opportunities and direction to a life of meaning. When we spend our lives pursuing pleasure and avoiding pain, we end up with a rather uninspired existence. We do hard things and endure hard things for the cause of Christ and the pain is so worth the reward.

I'm not sure if it resonated.... we often waste the best literature and truths on the young- I hated these types of things as a 16 year old... if someone asked me "Why is there air?" my only answer was to "pump up footballs".

And speaking on suffering is dicey... there is so much HARD suffering around us and in the world that creates issues when we voice our 'problems' ... my suffering is nothing compared to the intense suffering around me.

So in God's good timing and providence, he sent me to the emergency room last night with a bout of diverticulitis that comes my way every decade or so. I have enough experience with it to notice the symptoms and if I get the diagnosis and antibiotics quickly, it is painful, but I can endure.

 A lot of pain in that ER... and my cold sweats and surges of pain did not give me much time to empathize or minister. I did however hear the voice of Christ... from my recent revisit to the Book of Revelation in prep for teaching...

[17] When I  (John) saw him (Jesus in His exalted state), I fell at his feet as though dead. But he laid his right hand on me, saying, Fear not, I am the first and the last, [18] and the living one. I died, and behold I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of Death and Hades. (Revelation 1:17–18 ESV)

Here is what is interesting to me about Jesus...he doesn't do relativistic comparisons.... He doesn't judge me that I am hurting but doesn't try to say, "But over there is real suffering"- at the same time , He is sovereignly in control of ALL issues- He has experienced them and He has a plan for them. I also need to be more aware of how I can minister to others in pain.... knowing that a student hurting because their parents are divorcing IS REAL PAIN.

At the same time, we waste a lot of energy trying to take all discomfort away from young people. I never want to inflict ANY hurt on anyone, but I also know a pain free life is a risk free life.

Pain WILL come though... and we all need to be trained to endure it.... even embrace it with a faith that says like Job "Though he slay me, I will hope in him; yet I will argue my ways to his face". (Job 13:15 ESV)- don't leave out part B to that verse...God can handle it.

The best training ground I have ever seen to train snowflakes into warriors is sports. Any discipline (work, fine arts, academic) works as well. But sports, especially those with contact, help train the muster it takes to make it.

Here is how Paul said it:

 Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. [26] So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air. [27] But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified. (1 Corinthians 9:25–27 ESV)

As many of you know.... I do have a lengthy philosophy on competition....
Where and how competition fits in within the Biblical guidelines for people has always intrigued me.

A competitor is enhanced or held back by those he surrounds himself with.

And this may sound simple, but a competitor competes with others….

The natural instinct of any competitor is to get the energy drainers out of their way.

Often these ‘energy depleters’ are those who don’t want anything…. they aren’t hungry, they aren’t dreaming, they aren’t striving. It isn’t that they are content, it is simply they have become too complacent.

Competitors grow by surrounding themselves with passionate, confident, and motivated people….people who are unstoppable… and,to be honest, they are often illogical and unreasonable in the passionate power of their pursuits.
True competitors are the kind who dare to battle the demons of the status-quo and get a lot of detractors from doing so.

Competitors exude a passion to either conquer or die- they are ones who will push back against all conventional wisdom….. and enjoy going against the grain.

and, competitors often  achieve what was thought to be previously impossible.

When you read that kind of description- who could argue against that?… those are the winners of the world.

But the qualifying questions are: by what means and by what cost?

Ultimately, a Christ honoring life results in scars.... that is OK, Jesus kept His scars after the resurrection... think about that

I close with this.... I have always been intrigued by this statement from Paul:

" From now on let no one cause me trouble, for I bear on my body the marks of Jesus". (Galatians 6:17ESV)

From the context, it is in part his reference, I believe, to his on going eye condition, being surrounded by detractors and imposters, and the nature of the glorious fight he was in.

He EMBRACED the aggravations and pain- and because of that, he lived in fear of no one.

If you want to delve into more thoughts on competition... visit this post

As a head football coach in Nashville in 2006, David Cutcliffe- my high school head coach and now Duke Head Coach- visited us.

He looked at our football coaches and said, "I need men like you to push my son in ways that I can't do as a dad." We weren't coaching his son, he was speaking metaphorically, but the point was well made.

Coaches are part of God's strange ministers to push and prod... it is getting harder and harder to keep the parental protections out of the mix... I never hold that against a parent by the way- I know parents love their kids!

But if you are a parent, let the sports arena be tough- don't wish pain... but allow the process to shape a warrior.

I firmly believe sports (especially football) is an important opportunity to develop a rugged disposition to fight. Putting on gear and experiencing fear, pain, exhaustion, victory, and defeat is an experience offered in few other places in society.
A coach pushes his players beyond where they think they can go and when they get there, they realize they could have even done more. These tough teachable moments can happen in the weightroom, in the film room, on the practice field, and in games. It is not easy as a parent to allow that ‘push/pull’ type of coaching to take place…. But young men NEED that grind under caring mentors that our coaches are always intending to be.

That is why I call it a 'strange minister'.

Monday, September 10, 2018

The Foul Dust of Autonomy

JUDGES 21:25 In those days there was no king in Israel. Everyone did what was right in his own eyes.
This is the last line of Judges and it is so sad!
Indeed we see in our culture the ruin and fragility associated with doing what you want to, when you want to… without any allegiance to authority.
America was founded on rugged individualism. Even the revolutionary spirit was born out of the desire to throw off the British monarch.
But freedom without boundaries is pure chaos- our founding fathers knew that. That is why they drafted a constitution with a balance of powers and the rule of law.
Imagine what kind of productivity and civility we would have if all the red lights went out at rush hour!
Freedom from God means you become God… and if everyone becomes God.. who is right?
Friedrich Nietzsche understood what it meant to throw off God and become God…. he penned it in a parable called ‘The Madman’.
Have you not heard of that madman who lit a lantern in the bright morning hours, ran to the market place, and cried incessantly: “I seek God! I seek God!” — As many of those who did not believe in God were standing around just then, he provoked much laughter. Has he got lost? asked one. Did he lose his way like a child? asked another. Or is he hiding? Is he afraid of us? Has he gone on a voyage? emigrated? — Thus they yelled and laughed.
The madman jumped into their midst and pierced them with his eyes. “Whither is God?” he cried; “I will tell you. We have killed him — you and I. All of us are his murderers. But how did we do this? How could we drink up the sea? Who gave us the sponge to wipe away the entire horizon? What were we doing when we unchained this earth from its sun? Whither is it moving now? Whither are we moving? Away from all suns? Are we not plunging continually? Backward, sideward, forward, in all directions? Is there still any up or down? Are we not straying, as through an infinite nothing? Do we not feel the breath of empty space? Has it not become colder? Is not night continually closing in on us? Do we not need to light lanterns in the morning? Do we hear nothing as yet of the noise of the gravediggers who are burying God? Do we smell nothing as yet of the divine decomposition? Gods, too, decompose. God is dead. God remains dead. And we have killed him.
How shall we comfort ourselves, the murderers of all murderers? What was holiest and mightiest of all that the world has yet owned has bled to death under our knives: who will wipe this blood off us? What water is there for us to clean ourselves? What festivals of atonement, what sacred games shall we have to invent? Is not the greatness of this deed too great for us? Must we ourselves not become gods simply to appear worthy of it? There has never been a greater deed; and whoever is born after us — for the sake of this deed he will belong to a higher history than all history hitherto.”
Here the madman fell silent and looked again at his listeners; and they, too, were silent and stared at him in astonishment. At last he threw his lantern on the ground, and it broke into pieces and went out. “I have come too early,” he said then; “my time is not yet. This tremendous event is still on its way, still wandering; it has not yet reached the ears of men. Lightning and thunder require time; the light of the stars requires time; deeds, though done, still require time to be seen and heard. This deed is still more distant from them than most distant stars — and yet they have done it themselves.
It has been related further that on the same day the madman forced his way into several churches and there struck up his requiem aeternam deo. Led out and called to account, he is said always to have replied nothing but: “What after all are these churches now if they are not the tombs and sepulchers of God?”
[Source: Friedrich Nietzsche, The Gay Science (1882, 1887) para. 125; Walter Kaufmann ed. (New York: Vintage, 1974), pp.181-82.]
 Why do we do what we do? Do we ever not do something because we know God does not allow or approve? Do we ever feel the holy pressure to do right even if we don’t feel like it?
 Do you just do what you want to do and say, “Oh well, I am a sinner…God will forgive me.”?
 There are atheists for sure… men who have long forsaken any hope of God being there.
 But there are practical atheists as well… men who say God is there, but live life like there is no God.

Is there any real difference in the two?

Thursday, September 06, 2018

Revelation Refresher- A Shout Out to John

I have been spending a lot of time in the Book of Revelation preparing for a Sunday School Series I am teaching this quarter entitled "Meditations in Revelation". The content of this series was a result of almost 3 years of study that caused me to actually spend more time in the Old Testament than in Revelation.

The 'gist' of this study looks more at a devotional application rather than 'charting and interpretation'. It tends to put the book in its intended light, a message to encourage believers to stand firm when the going gets tough... to be ready for the Lord's return.

But in doing a fresh look at my notes and commentary, I noticed something I has missed before

One of the MANY ironies of Revelation is the the title of the Book means “To Reveal”.. or “Move the Veil”…. kind of a strange title for a Book clouded in such mystery.

In Greek.. the word Revelation is ‘apocalypse’… and God is in the business of revealing the mystery of His existence and the truth of His Word!

Let’s look at some important places where we find either a Hebrew of Greek use of this term:

“The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but the things that are revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law. (Deuteronomy 29:29 ESV)

For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.” (Romans 1:16-17 ESV)

For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. (Romans 1:18 ESV)

I became a minister according to the stewardship from God that was given to me for you, to make the word of God fully known, the mystery hidden for ages and generations but now revealed to his saints. To them God chose to make known how great among the Gentiles are the riches of the glory of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. Him we proclaim, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom, that we may present everyone mature in Christ. (Colossians 1:25-28 ESV)

Don’t you love to solve a mystery? Don’t you love to be entrusted with secret information?

If we understood everything about God- would He be divine?

I find it more comfortable that I don’t understood everything about God!

There seems to be some things he holds from us in terms of timing and our maturity.

In his preface to Romans, Calvin said that “God limits our knowledge that we should be humbled and have to have dealings with our fellows”.

There is a mystery to God and He invites us to dig in to His mystery. In John 17, Jesus said that “This is eternal life…that they know You and Jesus Christ whom You sent.”

Jesus makes His truth known to some and it remains hidden for others. That is why we pray for people..that their spiritual eyes and ears be opened.

This Book is not as ‘mysterious’ as it seems to be. There is understanding in this Book for the PURPOSE of encouraging believers in Jesus to persevere and prepare for His return. It is a teaching to believe in Jesus in spite of the conditions of the world, which would appear to be hostile to the things of God.

Revelation 1:1–9

[1] The revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show to his servants the things that must soon take place. He made it known by sending his angel to his servant John, [2] who bore witness to the word of God and to the testimony of Jesus Christ, even to all that he saw. [3] Blessed is the one who reads aloud the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear, and who keep what is written in it, for the time is near.

[4] John to the seven churches that are in Asia:
Grace to you and peace from him who is and who was and who is to come, and from the seven spirits who are before his throne, [5] and from Jesus Christ the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead, and the ruler of kings on earth.

To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood [6] and made us a kingdom, priests to his God and Father, to him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen. [7] Behold, he is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him, even those who pierced him, and all tribes of the earth will wail on account of him. Even so. Amen.

[8] “I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, “who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.”

[9] I, John, your brother and partner in the tribulation and the kingdom and the patient endurance that are in Jesus, was on the island called Patmos on account of the word of God and the testimony of Jesus. (ESV)

[10] I was in the Spirit on the Lord's day, and I heard behind me a loud voice like a trumpet [11] saying, Write what you see in a book and send it to the seven churches, to Ephesus and to Smyrna and to Pergamum and to Thyatira and to Sardis and to Philadelphia and to Laodicea.” (ESV)


And throughout the book we read: then I turned/ when I saw/ after this I looked/ then I saw/ I saw/ then I looked/ now I watched/ and I looked/ after this I saw/ I saw/ then I looked/ then I saw/ this is how I saw it in my vision/ then I saw/ and I saw/ then I saw/ then I looked/ then I saw/ and I saw/ after this I looked/ then I heard/ and I saw/ after this I saw/ .... and ON AND ON- from 1:12 all the way until 22:8

I worry we make too much of the Book if we don't understand that John is being faithful to what Christ is showing Him....

I have discovered that reading the Book and listening to the Book being read is a blessing- it is a comfort and blessing to read it, hear it, and it is a joy to try to be constantly ready.. and I do believe the time is near.
But we have to be so careful…what we do with prophecy is NOT what it is intended for. I have always been cautious to avoid the pitfalls that most fall into when studying the great work:

“When Modern prophets turn Revelation into a crystal ball, they turn their back on church history and have been wrong every single time.” Rev. Art Azurdia
I am also realistic… if the greatest Biblical scholars in the history of the world got the FIRST coming of Jesus wrong… am I foolish enough to believe we have the 2nd coming right?

As you read this Book of blessing…keep these things in mind:

If I Am Reading Revelation Correctly:
I will feel excited, encouraged, and energized to stand boldly for Christ in a world that seems to grow darker and colder.
I will feel personally challenged to continually stay prepared. This will cause discomfort from time to time.
I will see clearer lines of demarcation: Lion/Dragon- Lamb/Beast- Overcomer/Defeated
I will evaluate my circumstances in light of eternity
My desire and practice to worship will grow
I will walk and live as a champion- Victory is in sight

Pray for me as I lead this class into a joyful journey this fall quarter!