Monday, October 16, 2023

Signposts and the Muddy Middle

No doubt with daily headlines from the Middle East, many Bible readers will run to chapters we read with one eye on events and the other eye on the mysterious images with various analysis, positions, and propositions.

This post will be a reminder to me about some of the principles I lean on regarding Biblical prophecy in  study that has now spanned many years. This includes a deep  2 year study I did on the Book of Revelation and many OT references, including the Book of Daniel.

It is almost comical to read all the ping pong points Biblical scholars make when they come to passages that involve visions. At times it reminds me of that scene in the movie, The Princess Bride- "It could be that cup based on fact A- but you know that I know fact A so it is now cup 2 because of fact B.. and so on and the answer ended up being "all of the above".

The 2nd chapter of Daniel contains the first dream that Daniel reveals and interprets to King Nebuchadnezzar. The Book of Daniel is so remarkable in its prophecy that critics (who reject the supernatural) reject Daniel on face value because it would have to be supernatural prophecy for it to be true. I always worry about human reasoning when it throws out a possible theory before the debate even begins.

Back to  Chapter 2- Daniel relates the dream to the King by predicting four kingdoms- Golden Babylon, Silver Persians led by Darius- Bronze Greeks led by Alexander- Iron/Clay Rome divided into two and then into 10. I am skipping a lot of the reasoning and debate here to get to my points.

Take any Biblical vision and read the comments by any true scholar and you will now see the endless debate begins, but we all acknowledge it never quite fits. In this image the Rock of Ages smashes these kingdoms and becomes God's Holy Mountain (again jumping to a general overview here). So most of the time there are left views that have strong points and weak points and the scholar will tend to lean toward one and live with the weaker points in humble acceptance. We all do this- I do this.

But there are larger points here to be made that we can all agree on. Let me use this passage to pull out some of these.

1) God's truth is multi-layered and true from many angles and through many cross-sections and dissections. There is often multiple fulfillments of prophecy that show shadows in the Old Testament- applications in the New Testament and pointers to the Kingdom of God which is an alternate reality but just as true- in fact MORE true than the reality we occupy now. The hardest part in all of Biblical visions is to keep reminding yourself "symbol, symbol, symbol- figurative language"- the Bible images of heaven and hell are figurative and point to a reality beyond our comprehension. Still true, but related in a way that humans of all times and cultures can relate to.

2) We have a hard time making it all fit 'clean' because we are still missing a final overview of the end of time. When we see unrest in the Middle East we rush to the Scriptures and want to make sense of it. The problem is that we are in a time period of waiting. All that is in play now is the competition of the City of Man ( figurative Babylon) with the City of God (figurative Jerusalem) and whether we will be citizens of Christ's Kingdom or the Dragon's Kingdom. Citizenship in Christ's Kingdom is an open invitation to repentance and faith in the God of Mercy. But to do so means that you will incur the wrath of the un-holy trinity The Dragon, The Beast, and the False Prophet. One day, God will say, NO MORE DELAY- and we will watch the final scene brought to the close- and then there will be a massive "OH- I see now- THAT is what was meant by.....". We had a little taste of this when Christ came the first time. All the prophecy was there- but all the scholars missed it. IN the end- our human pre-suppositions make us miss the future narrative. Thankfully, we are not saved by being right on our own ability.

3) There are a couple of BIG picture points to this amazing dream in Daniel 2. All human kingdoms are REGRESSIVE not PROGRESSIVE.  Do you see the value drop? Gold sank to silver, silver sank to bronze, bronze sank to iron. We always take pride in how far we have been elevated. But sadly, man is less glorious today. One world order will not be glorious, it will be dark and destructive. Study the art and architecture of any civilization and you will see it fade in excellence over time. And I think the vision points to the fact that all kingdoms have 'feet of clay'- faulty foundations built on the sand of hubris and not the Rock of Ages.

Conclusion: When you come to Biblical prophecy or visions, throw yourself into them- draw pictures- they are amazing- and then get lost in the mystery of God's world. It is more mesmerizing than anything Tolkien ever imagined. And the WOW factor is that it is true. Instead of 'Where's Waldo?" look deep into these images and see Christ. He is right there... pointed to by the prophets thousands of years before His arrival. And let that give you great hope to keep fighting the joyous battle of life with Him as we eagerly await His glorious return. THE BEST IS YET TO COME. Hold on, my brothers and sisters..... Be patient and prayerful.

As of today- we see in a very dim glass.... a part of the muddy middle. We have hope of the end which is the fruit of our faith; but little beyond that.

Saturday, October 07, 2023

The Thrill and The Agony- Is There Purpose in Pain?

Update to this post Oct. 11: First of all, I never know when I write, what posts will carry far and wide and what posts do not. This one has really exploded and has been seen and shared by way more than I would have ever guessed. 

When war broke out in Israel the same day I posted this, it reminded me that football pain is nothing compared to the suffering and loss of life in this world. I hope I made it clear in my original post.

But I also was so impressed by our practice this week and how getting back to work will wear away the disappointment. Yes, kids are resilient but at the same time, this team is closer by way of walking through the pain of loss.

Here is the original post (10/7):

We lost a close, tough football game last night where just a few bounces and inches could have flipped the script. You can't hide from the the pain, and a coach must quickly turn minister and know that even though I hurt - I  have been through this many times and I must gird up and go help young men who are still young enough to be vulnerable in these fragile situations.

It is just football... and though the the pain is real enough-  it is  nothing in a world of famine, cancer, war, crime, and poverty.

It seems a little dramatic to use a football loss in this sense, however folks, the pain is palatable to the young men, coaches, parents... it is there.. it just plain sucks. And the harder you work, the closer victory seems to be that just falls short... it is a soul deep hurt. One that lingers into the night and early the next day .... before slowly subsiding.

Football is rarely undefeated- life is never undefeated.

And our young men did what you are supposed to do last night- accept it, shake the hand of the victor and start leaning on each other as we wait for the healing that comes in time. But there is still a myriad of internal obstacles that must be navigated in time, prayer, and perspective from the Word of God.

This semester, we are studying the Book of Job in Sunday School with Mark Travers and he has done a masterful job in walking us through dealing with pain in a practical way, as well as excellent tips on what to say and when to say it.

The deeper the pain, the less we need to use words... we just need to be there.

Football injuries are a reality with that as well. It hurts to see a player physically wounded in battle, but that is also a noble reality... to put on pads is similar to a warrior; and sacrifices of blood, sweat, tears, and pain are payments that come due which elevates this ABOVE mere play.

I am so thankful that God has designed young bodies to heal... not without scars mind you. But as Jacob walked with a limp from the day He wrestled the Angel, so we too bear the marks of struggle and it creates in us a rugged disposition to battle!

What Mr Travers has been teaching me is that 'lamenting' is a God ordained process with a purpose. It is an acknowledgement of hurt to our heavenly Father that we are grieving, and He wants us to grieve, to pour out our sorrows to Him, our complaints, our fears, our anxieties, our frustrations, our disappointments.

But what makes lamenting different and beneficial is that we still worship the Lord and testify to His sovereign control and goodness!

It is all through the Bible- Psalms, Job, both Old and New Testaments... here is an example in the Book with that title, Lamentations:

[19] Remember my affliction and my wanderings,

the wormwood and the gall!

[20] My soul continually remembers it

and is bowed down within me.

[21] But this I call to mind,

and therefore I have hope:

[22] The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases;

his mercies never come to an end;

[23] they are new every morning;

great is your faithfulness.

[24] “The LORD is my portion,” says my soul,

“therefore I will hope in him.
(Lamentations 3:19–24 ESV)

Indeed... this is a strange twist- we never want our children, our players, or ourselves to experience the pain of loss.

And we would NEVER orchestrate it.

But pain, loss, hurt is a necessary training tool to prepare us for life.

Learning to live through, walk through, persevere through football pain as a young man made me a better man. It also makes us better believers. 

Consider this passage:

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. 

Over the decades, 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 realized that while we enjoyed good times when we celebrated, we actually grew together when we cried or hurt. 

Football pain, whether it is a hard practice, a tough loss, or physical injury, is often used by God as a ‘strange minister’ in our lives- producing fruit of perseverance and love.

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 individual’s truly care- but pain is a useful tool in forging a team of one heroic purpose. That is one reason why we push them so hard in summer camp and in the weight room- they have to experience hardship to break down all the barriers to brotherhood.

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 an easy road. We recite the words, but it is hard to live them. 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. 

There is a creed of football that simply 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 fight!

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

I close this post with a few poems and thoughts that has helped me over the years when I am hurting.. coaches experience loss in a more common way than the average person.. not the intensity of real life suffering.. but the frequency is under appreciated by society as a whole:

When God wants to drill a man,
And thrill a man,
And skill a man
To play the noblest part;
When He yearns with all His heart
To create so great and bold a man
That all the world shall be amazed,
Watch His methods, watch His ways!
How He ruthlessly perfects
Whom He royally elects!

How He hammers him and hurts him,
And with mighty blows converts him
Into trial shapes of clay which
Only God understands;
While his tortured heart is crying
And he lifts beseeching hands!
How He bends but never breaks
When his good He undertakes;

How He uses whom He chooses,
And with every purpose fuses him:
By every act induces him
To try his splendor out--
God knows what He's about.
--Author Unknown

Seeing the whole story from beginning to end gives ample evidence that God is great and that He is good.
But what about the middle? Think about those long, dark nights. Imagine all the hauntings and accusations. Is God there? Does He care? Why don’t you answer me God? Am I being punished? HELP!
But this is JUST THE MIDDLE.. hang in there- the END IS SWEET!

“God will not give us grace for our vain imaginings. It is when we are actually
in the time of trial that the grace is given.

(Dr. Lane Adams, former pastor, Second Presbyterian Church in Memphis)

“If you want a comfortable religion, do not pick Christianity” CS Lewis, God in Dock

Aragorn in “Lord of the Rings”

"Hold your ground! Hold your ground my brothers,
I see in your eyes the same fear that would take the heart of me.
A day may come when the courage of men fails, when we forsake our friends and break all bonds of fellowship, but it is not this day.
An hour of wolves and shattered shields, when the age of men comes crashing down,
but it is not this day!
This day we fight!!"

Saturday, September 30, 2023

Briarwood Football- 400 Wins

I was privileged to be a part of a historic milestone for Briarwood Christian School last night where the football program registered it's 400th win. That is an average of 7 wins a year for the 51 year history of the football program.

I also count it an honor to have been a part of 244 of those 400 wins over a 25 year span and can attest that the hard work and effort of everyone involved has been a treasure to witness. Each win was special because few people understand how difficult it is to win even one game in the state of Alabama. I’m thankful to be a Lion!

If anyone wants to learn or understand more about how this program was started or has grown, I highly encourage you to take time and listen to the podcasts we produced last year.

I have decided on this post to list them in chronological order: These are SoundCloud links but you can also find these on Apple, Spotify, and iHeart Radio

2019-present- Matthew Forester

In my 25 years of being at Briarwood, we have seen highs and lows, state championships and 'losing' seasons. My time there, we have been 244-86- so I am a blessed man!

You can also learn a lot from visiting the Briarwood page at the Alabama High School Football Historical Society.

We also have videos on Vimeo here;

And a FB page:

Too many wonderful people and memories! Thank you Lord for blessing me to participate in this wonderful ministry and hop I get to keep going!

Coach Mathews Seasons at BCS:

1991- 5-5

1992- 4-5

1993- 7-5

1994- 5-6

1995- 7-5

1996- 13-1

1997- 11-1

1998- 15-0 3A State Champs

1999- 13-2 3A State Champs

2000- 11-2

2001- 12-2

2002- 13-2

2003 13-2 5A State Champs

I was in Nashville 2004-2010 as a head coach (39-20)

2011- 12-2

2012 6-7

2013- 9-3

2014- 4-7

2015- 5-7

2016- 12-2

2017- 14-1

2018- 9-3

2019- 12-2

2020- 8-3

2021- 10-2

2022- 3-7

2023- 3-2 (after 5 games)

Friday, September 08, 2023

September Musings 2023


To say my life has been chaotic would be an extreme understatement. But to say 'The Lord is good" is also an understatement. A good friend of mine reminded me recently that "If your worst day is better than someone else's best day, then get on your knees and thank God for every breath you take in the good days and when times are tough."

I know I have fiends worried about the pace I have been keeping. They look at me and say"Are you OK?" and when I smile and say 'yes' I can tell that some of them think I am lying.

But I am doing really well. 

I don't know how people live without Christ, though I did learn from studying existential theory a few years ago that men can find meaning in struggle and purpose in fate..but it sure doesn't last past the last breath.

Let's start with how God is using the Scriptures to help me: I spend all spring and June in Hebrews 11-13 and I really felt the Lord reminding me that He is my father and when He presses me, it is training. He allows the difficulties to produce fruit and perseverance. 

Then in July, I started a long journey through the New Testament T's- Thessalonians, Timothy, Titus and each reading has been the perfect message for the perfect day. This purpose of this post isn't to go into all of the details of my study, but there is always a powerful message from God's Word if we take time to dig and trust the Holy Spirit to lead. It truly is my daily bread!

I also read and am reading some great books- I read The Wisdom of the Bullfrog: Leadership Made Simple (But Not Easy) by Admiral William H. McRaven. I was AMAZING, fun, and useful.

I am still reading: The Heart of Everything That Is: The Untold Story of Red Cloud, An American Legend
by Bob Drury, Tom Clavin.
It has SO MANY details that I am just getting in a few pages each day. It is an awesome book as well.

Finally, I have been enjoying a book of Poetry - Songs of the Average Man by Sam Walter Foss.

Poetry really helps me to think deeply and I will wake up occasionally with a poem in my brain inspired by the great style of Foss, who wrote a poem everyday that was published in his hometown newspaper.

Exercise and Health are good- As of this week, I have 56 straight weeks of riding my Pelaton and it has been a great help to keeping my left knee pain free. I still don't eat well and my weight is a constant thorn... but overall health is good. Blood pressure and A1C numbers are good and my heart and blood work got a good report last week.

My family is a blessing. Grand-parenting is awesome and we are like any family- struggles and blessings.

And work is good- I work at am amazing place with amazing people. Our new Superintendent has been really good to work with and he is going to be good for us. I do see my role changing to more operations, but that will be God's assignment and not mine and I serve at His pleasure and His will.

I still love coaching football and hope to do that as long as possible. I hold all of it with an open hand.

I wan to fish more... I miss that therapy.

My sin is ever present and I work in a world that is at odds with God's kingdom. I long for a new heaven and earth but that is in His control..I am fine living with a need to know basis and don't worry about it.

The purpose of this blog is to record - and I hope I do it honestly. I am no hero, I want to live each day as the blessing of life and a servant of the King- the ONE who loves me and proved His love by dying for me.

I have some topics I want to explore, but football season is never easy to find time to write.

Pray for me and I will pray for you!

Jay Mathews 9/8/23

Thursday, September 07, 2023

We know the Things of Hell Too Well

 “Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. [14] For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few. (Matthew 7:13–14 ESV)

A man doesn't have to die to go to hell, but don't be mislead- hell on earth is not hell in hell.
While he still lives he might escape, but when he dies it's permanent

We know the things of Hell too well
And the ways of Heaven too little.

We know them in everyday ways
Yet amazingly aren’t afraid.
As we stand mute to the extension of grace
Resistant to peace and rebels in His face..

We know the things of hell-
The fevers, the chills, the cancers that ravage
The agonies, the wounds, and weapons so savage.

Lies, and manipulation destroy reputations
Revenge and lust gun down the nations.

We all know the things of Hell too well.
And the ways of Heaven too little.

A babies smile, a little child’s giggle
A word that picks up our day.
A ray of hope that breaks the lonely widow’s cell.
I wish we knew Heaven that well..

How strange we are to choose the door that is full of the things of hell.

We know the things of Hell too well.
And the Ways of Heaven too little.

Do we really want to stay forever in a place that reeks of Hell?
Or cry out to the One who said “It is Done”?

Only time will tell.

Saturday, August 05, 2023

Elijah's Retreat- Ready for a Comeback?

 Have you ever been kicked in the teeth, thrown in the mud, bent over in pain, with your enemy standing over you... taunting and powerful? 

Or worse, has there been a season of winter... winless.. and there doesn't seem to be a heartbeat left and no friend on the horizon?

We almost always think of the Bible in terms of wins and perfection. But the Bible is more about loss and depression. It has few level plains.... everything in the Bible seems to model human existence as short peaks and deep, dark valleys. 

If there is a passage that speaks to our life in times of isolation and darkness, there is no more powerful passage than the account of Elijah running from Jezebel in I Kings 19. There is enough content in these 22 verses for an entire book.


Elijah was a prophet with power. There is no more public and powerful victory in the Old Testament than the one on the top of Mount Carmel when Elijah called down fire on the prophets of Baal. Elijah's story is one of dramatic showdowns and extremes. He is a man who was fed by ravens and who prayed down rain.

But there is another mountain that Elijah will end up up on.... just a few chapters later in your Bible... a journey that took 40 days and nights covering a distance of only 260 miles... when you are wandering in a state of loss and darkness, everything is slow and wearying. 


Often after great highs, we sink into holes of emptiness, fear, loneliness, and isolation.

Hal Higdon has an entire section in his book, “Marathon- The Ultimate Training Guide” devoted to ‘Post-marathon Blues”.“We focus our lives on this one event for 5 months- and then its done” reflects a Melbourne Beach, Florida runner “Now what?” You have the great high of race day, especially when you finish or meet your goal...but soon after- there is this tangible reality of emptiness.

It isn't just in running....Ernie Conwell works for the NFL Players Association. He was a college standout for the University of Washington and achieved great accomplishments as a pro. He was drafted by the Rams in 1996, won a Super Bowl after a horrific knee injury, named a captain for the New Orleans Saints- An All-Pro selection in 2001.

I had the privilege to have Ernie coach with me in Nashville and I loved hearing him speak to men about his miraculous journey back from the knee injury and what it felt like to compete in the NFL.

But you could hear a pin drop when he explained the saddest reality of all......

Right after his Super Bowl win - the pinnacle of a sport achievement- a lifetime pursuit that organizations invest millions to get, and individual's pour blood, sweat, and tears to grasp...
In the locker room...right after winning THE SUPER BOWL!.... after hugs and laughter...
a lot of grown men sat there with empty stares on their faces... now what?

This isn't to minimize the lasting memories or value of the accomplishment. It is a recognition of all human existence... the thrill is momentary and often less than satisfying.

It isn't just in big things... it is in almost every aspect of life.

I always thought it was appropriate that Pip experienced all the shock of seeing his world collapse in the classic novel, “Great Expectations”.

“All the truths of my position came flashing on me; and its disappointments, dangers, disgraces, consequences of all kinds, rushed in in such a multitude that I was borne down by them and had to struggle for every breath I drew.”

But it was the subtle letdowns that he noticed first:

My (new) clothes were rather a disappointment, of course. Probably every new and eagerly expected garment ever put on since clothes came in, fell a trifle short of the wearer's expectation.

So RIGHT after Elijah's great victory... he get's word that Jezebel was making a promise... she was guaranteeing the death of Elijah!

Ahab told Jezebel all that Elijah had done, and how he had killed all the prophets with the sword. [2] Then Jezebel sent a messenger to Elijah, saying, “So may the gods do to me and more also, if I do not make your life as the life of one of them by this time tomorrow.” (1 Kings 19:1–2 ESV)

And Elijah grew VERY afraid:

Then he was afraid, and he arose and ran for his life ....

Have you ever run from something that is scary? ... I have.... one time as a boy I jumped a fence and a german shepherd ran toward me... I turned and ran so fast and so full of fear that I leaped over the chain link! The panic! Yes, usually there is danger... but we also are running from something that we can't see anymore, and in our mind the beast is growling and drooling and about to snatch us...

When a powerful enemy puts you in their site... it can create such a panic.  But with Elijah, he had just publicly stood up to the state and the prophets of darkness... why run now? I think it was the nature of her vow... it sounded drop dead serious and it made Elijah not only quiver, but run.. and the running creates thought distortions as well.

[4] But he himself went a day’s journey into the wilderness and came and sat down under a broom tree. And he asked that he might die, saying, “It is enough; now, O LORD, take away my life, for I am no better than my fathers.” 

One of the alarming statistics lingering from of the Covid-19 pandemic is the staggering amount of suicides and crises of anxiety that are as dominant as the plague itself!

The CDC reports that during the pandemic, U.S. adults reported considerably elevated adverse mental health conditions associated with COVID-19. Younger adults, racial/ethnic minorities, essential workers, and unpaid adult caregivers reported having experienced disproportionately worse mental health outcomes, increased substance use, and elevated suicidal ideation.

So where do we go and what do we do when these thoughts begin to overtake us?

Mental health is a very complex issue and usually there is not an instant cure. In Elijah's case, the Lord intervened in a very supernatural way... but there are principles here that can help all of us. Living moment by moment and taking steps is a type of miracle... and we should celebrate all victories, even the tiniest ones!


 And he lay down and slept under a broom tree. And behold, an angel touched him and said to him, “Arise and eat.” [6] And he looked, and behold, there was at his head a cake baked on hot stones and a jar of water. And he ate and drank and lay down again. [7] And the angel of the LORD came again a second time and touched him and said, “Arise and eat, for the journey is too great for you.” [8] And he arose and ate and drank, and went in the strength of that food forty days and forty nights to Horeb, the mount of God. (1 Kings 19:5–8 ESV)

At some point our human energy meets its limit and we fall down... incapable of going forward. In the middle of the desert, the Lord had been growing a broom tree, some of which can grow to heights of 9 feet or more. Years previous, it was just a shoot, struggling to survive in the harsh heat and dehydrating winds. But God knew it would serve a purpose ( and many more we will never know) to hide the prophet in pain. And there Elijah was fed by angels. On two occasions, as he woke up... maybe years later he thought it a delirious dream ...... but we know better. God feeds us as well when we reach the end of the rope. The text that comes at an unusual time. A song we hear. A stranger we meet. We pass it off later as a coincidence, even at times we run away God's angels- but they won't stop until you have been given enough to finish the journey and get back on mission.

Just a note- it doesn't take 40 days to get from Carmel to Horeb and it doesn't take 40 years to get from Egypt to Canaan. But we never get to go in a straight line anywhere when it comes to matters of faith. We fight the path and God has to nudge us bit by bit. This is not a hike in a meadow, this is a wrestling match all the way! And when we finally get there, we always laugh at why it took us so long!


So this is one of my favorite passages in the Bible:

There he came to a cave and lodged in it. And behold, the word of the LORD came to him, and he said to him, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” [10] He said, “I have been very jealous for the LORD, the God of hosts. For the people of Israel have forsaken your covenant, thrown down your altars, and killed your prophets with the sword, and I, even I only, am left, and they seek my life, to take it away.” [11] And he said, “Go out and stand on the mount before the LORD.” And behold, the LORD passed by, and a great and strong wind tore the mountains and broke in pieces the rocks before the LORD, but the LORD was not in the wind. And after the wind an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake. [12] And after the earthquake a firebut the LORD was not in the fire. And after the fire the sound of a low whisper. [13] And when Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his cloak and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave. And behold, there came a voice to him and said, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” [14] He said, “I have been very jealous for the LORD, the God of hosts. For the people of Israel have forsaken your covenant, thrown down your altars, and killed your prophets with the sword, and I, even I only, am left, and they seek my life, to take it away.” (1 Kings 19:9–14 ESV)

What a mystery and what a moment!

God asks... "What are you doing here?". Don't you love the questions of God! "Adam, where are you?"
"Peter, who do men say that I am?"

God knows the answers.... but he LOVES the interaction!

And those questions can haunt, can convict, and uplift... sometimes ALL at the same time!

What we miss here is the passion and conviction of the two answers, even though the words are the same!

Since Covid and through even this past year, I have found people are struggling more than ever. The rapid pace of our time, the tendency to isolate more than congregate, the nagging pressure of inflation and supply chain frustrations, and a general spiritual malaise has a lot of people I talk to on a regular basis have less hope, less energy, and very little joy in their lives.

If you add the full frontal pressure of our cancel culture mood to that disposition, you find a lot of people buying Nike's and running.... a lot of retreat going on... just like Elijah. He was a champion and now he is quivering like a loser! Don't we do the same!

And it is easy to ask in those moments... "Is God there? and Does He care?"

But even through the winds, and earthquakes, and fires... His still small voice nourishes me to keep crawling. And what is our response? Get up and get on mission.

And the LORD said to him, “Go, return on your way to the wilderness of Damascus. And when you arrive, you shall anoint Hazael to be king over Syria. [16] And Jehu the son of Nimshi you shall anoint to be king over Israel, and Elisha the son of Shaphat of Abel-meholah you shall anoint to be prophet in your place. [17] And the one who escapes from the sword of Hazael shall Jehu put to death, and the one who escapes from the sword of Jehu shall Elisha put to death. [18] Yet I will leave seven thousand in Israel, all the knees that have not bowed to Baal, and every mouth that has not kissed him.” (1 Kings 19:15–18 ESV)

God is there... He does care... and we are NEVER alone. There is no such thing as the 'last Christian on earth' though the devil wants you to believe that.

So where are you?

A failure because of sin?.... yes, that happens to everyone, even those we think are bullet proof (heed the lesson there).

The target of an enemy? Yes, sometimes we run and the thought distortions grow!

A let down after a high?... yes, that is a normal existence, listen for the small voice!

Worn down and exhausted? As you lay down, look for the broom tree... nourishment is coming.

Lonely and without a friend? Hang in there... keep loving and keep serving

As Elijah went on in obedience, he picked up a friend.

So he departed from there and found Elisha the son of Shaphat, who was plowing with twelve yoke of oxen in front of him, and he was with the twelfth. Elijah passed by him and cast his cloak upon him. [20] And he left the oxen and ran after Elijah and said, “Let me kiss my father and my mother, and then I will follow you.” And he said to him, “Go back again, for what have I done to you?” [21] And he returned from following him and took the yoke of oxen and sacrificed them and boiled their flesh with the yokes of the oxen and gave it to the people, and they ate. Then he arose and went after Elijah and assisted him. (1 Kings 19:19–21 ESV)

My mom had a strange obsession with the Blood, Sweat, and Tears song, "And When I Die".. the chorus went like this.

And when I die, and when I'm gone
There'll be one child born
In this world to carry on, to carry on

I did NOT like the song... I told her it was stupid and she just laughed. But there is a lot of truth there-  our seasons will come to an end and we will be too frail to go on the journey one day. But we can cheer from the sidelines and encourage those that will then be walking a well worn path!

We must be willing to train (disciple) the next generation to live for Christ. Hard times are coming for those who cling to Christ. But don't fret- love them well and shepherd their hearts.

When we serve other people, it helps to lift us up out of fear, worry, anxiety, and depression.

Here is how God is good to me... when I get knocked down... After some rest, some fishing, prayer, a day of beauty in His creation, some time with my wife and family, ... there usually comes a still small voice as I read the Scriptures with a cup of coffee, as I ponder the goodness of God,  and I am ready to go again!

May we all be led to keep walking in Him!

I get a strange feeling that the devil will be more visible in his attack these coming decades. He often hides his cards and plays them subtly to avoid being identified.

He would rather it be blamed on secular issues or secondary causes. If people see Satan too clearly, they will have no excuse to deny the existence of God.

That is the meaning of 'occult'- it means 'hidden' and that is where the devil does his best work.

But I also have a stronger feeling that the church is about to demonstrate more power than we have seen in decades. 

We all love a comeback!

Maybe it is just me, but I can feel His power growing in me as well. Grace greater than my sin. Strength stronger than the storms blowing. Love deeper than the cynicism dominating the landscape. Faith that is small, but able to move that mountain. And a hope that has very little anxiety attached to it.

God is that good!

Wednesday, August 02, 2023

A “Seasoned” Coach’s Prayer

n Act 2 Scene 7 of As You Like It, Jaques speaks his ‘Ages of man’ monologue (better known by most as the ‘All the world’s a stage‘ speech).

All the world’s a stage, And all the men and women merely players; They have their exits and their entrances, And one man in his time plays many parts, His acts being seven ages....... Shakespeare

Here is my take on it......

Here I am once again

An eve of a new season and dreams

Hard to believe how many have past

Decade three for me!

And the seasons of a year

Mimic the minutes of man’s ways

And a season of this game

Patterns the seasons of days

Confusing at best at the beginning

Inspired by the ‘Seven Ages of Man’

And if one will bear this ‘pantaloon’ fool

It will make more sense at the end

Football summer is really a spring

Young boys without pain or fear

High expectations and innocent ambition

Weightroom sweat and carefree cheer

And early season is actually the summer

Where no one expects to lose

Life is sweet to the energetic young

Where all first experiences are new

The crowds are full

The drums pump adrenaline and life

Nothing is routine

Even setbacks cause little strife

Then comes the autumn

A time of great change

The first chill is a warning

It is no longer just a game

Wind blown leaves are dividing lines

As rigid routine continues to grind away

Those smiling pictures seem long gone now

Most teams wither, but a few still play

The stadium attendees are fickle

New things distract

And drums keep drumming

But it feels hollow and flat

Special seasons are seeded in the spring

Watered in the summer

And Fertilized in the fall

While winners still believe what might not be seen by all

The comes the winter where we

Rage against the hardest fight

The daylight savings of summer

Is long forgotten in artificial light

At some point the end will come

All but one will end in tears

The sweetest harvest finally shows

With a savor that lasts for years

And that too is the story of my life

I feel I am passed the autumn years

And I also rage against the night

Fighting hard against the fears

I am blessed with seasons on seasons

Most boys only get a few - and never the same

And many grand joys of my life

Have been experienced in this wonderful game

Teach me to persevere one more time

Push me to give my all

Press me to grow and love

As I journey through another football fall

And hopefully more seasons in the future, Lord willing!

Monday, July 24, 2023

Guest Blog: Observations and Reflections From a Millennial Single-Wing Coach -The Power of Living in Your Own World

I have to honor of posting some EXCELLENT observations once again from my friend, Clint Humphrey.

Clint Humphrey is currently the Offensive Coordinator at Excel High School in Excel, Alabama. He previously has served as OC at St. Luke's Episcopal (his alma mater) and Demopolis High School. He has had position coaching stints at Murphy High School and Stanhope Elmore High School. He is married to Morgan Williamson Humphrey and they are enjoying life as new parents!

As soon as I read this, I was pumped to share it with my readers! So here is the latest from Clint:

In my previous guest blog post, I mentioned just how blessed I have been to have met many coaches during my ten years in this profession. I am fortunate and thankful that Jay keeps an open invitation for me to write him something to post. Usually, I don’t have much to say that people would be interested in reading, and I’m not sure this post will be any different. Still, I enjoy sharing my observations as I grow in this profession and life and hope they can make a difference in someone who reads them.

As I grow older in life and football, I continuously realize just how much the two parallel each other and how important that realization is. A surface-level understanding of that concept is easy as we have all heard (or given) speeches comparing the two or talking about one’s importance regarding the other. One thing that I have recently spent much thought on is priorities and their importance. Since making this stop I have made a change in offensive systems. A system I learned years ago that I kept as a change-up became the fastball that,

I believe, has helped us turn our program around. The new system introduced new methods, ways of thinking, and practicing. It has even created a considerable shift in those priorities that I have spent much time pondering.

At its core, we employ a single-wing system on offense. Invented close to the turn of the century by Glenn Pop Warner, and it has changed how I will view life and football forever. The only offense that predates the Single Wing in modern(ish) football is the T Formation which was very successful in its own right at first, but as the forward pass became more popular (and legal), the game began to transition away from that under center, full house attack and transitioned more towards what Pop was doing.

The offense, even in its own time, was an oddball. In the early 1900s, most football strategies revolved around simply overpowering opponents. It was a brutal game that, on several occasions, almost got banned.

Games would draw thousands of people to what some authors, like Christopher Klein of History Channel, have described as “killing fields.” The lethality of the sport was something that was turning many Americans away.

Football was much different then than what we are used to now; that style saw helmetless scrums of men try to pile drive ball carriers into the ground. One newspaper wrote that the sport had “degenerated” into nothing more than “gladiatorial combat in the arena in ancient Rome.” which caused some important people to get involved, the most important of which was President Theodore “Teddy” Roosevelt.

Thankfully they were able to come to an agreement that saved the game that we now love. I could talk forever about the exciting beginnings of the different variations of the single wing, but the point is that we stand out in today’s high school football world. When we initially went to this system, we worried that we would see junk defenses and wouldn’t understand how to handle them, but, going into our third year full-time in the system, we realize that it does the opposite. It usually forces people to play a more straightforward base defense due to their time restraints within a week of preparation. 

The uniqueness we believe gives us a distinct advantage. It allows us to play in what we call “our world.” We spend little time worrying about what other teams may do and more time focusing on how sound our rules are and our physical preparation so that we can handle anything opponents can throw at us. This method can be applied similarly to life. In the same way, football constantly evolves, so does the world, and technology, social media, television, etc., are speeding up that process.

With all that being said, These are just a few observations and reflections about the offense and the impact that I believe it has had on my life and my perspective of it.

Live in your world

I mentioned our concern with junk defenses and different looks we could get which would create uncertainty each week, but if I'm honest, another concern was the perception of what we were doing if it didn’t work. Even if it did work… would people like it? Of course, there are always people who believe that you should be doing something else on offense. But our interesting little town embraced this system with open arms. It was a call back to former years under the leadership of legendary coaches like Bo Bishop and Al Bowen.

This throwback offense fits perfectly in this little throwback town about halfway between Montgomery and Mobile. I will never forget a summer afternoon when I drove home from practice (about 30 seconds across town) I stopped at a stop sign across the street from Excel Baptist Church. In the parking lot was a group of kids riding their bikes in a circle, not sure what they were doing, maybe popping wheelies. Each day when I drive home I see a whiffle ball game in a back yard, touch football going on the practice field, or a father with his son in a batting cage or daughter on the softball field working on fundamentals. In these moments I can’t help but think that these are images that you only see in an episode of the Andy Griffith Show, not stuff that you see in 2023. In a world where you can’t stop to help a child on the side of the road for fear of abduction, in our town, our kids can live lives that are depicted in movies such as The Sandlot, Griffith, and Little Giants. This is a blessing that I never even realized was a thing until we moved here.

This town has played a pivotal role in the identity of our program. Tough, blue-collar, hard-nosed people that have a heart for their football program that works tirelessly to make them proud on Friday nights. 

Whether we play at home or on the road teams will have to step back into our world and our throwback offense and play football as if they live at the turn of the century. I believe now and always that it will be a pivotal advantage to us moving forward and I believe more schools could benefit from a style of offense such as this.

Be where your feet are

One knock on offenses similar to what we run is that they are not very good in two-minute situations. I agree that our offense does not lend itself to that type of situation. Still, we have had remarkable success in those two-minute situations, or situations like them, that lead me to believe it is a mindset more than anything.

In two seasons we have faced nine situations that were two-minute or functioned as two-minute and we scored or were in scoring position at the end of the drive in all nine situations and scored on six of those nine drives.

The mindset I am talking about is not a mindset of going fast but of being where your feet are. Nick Saban talks about this often saying that they encourage their players to “focus on the play like it has a history and a life of its own”. What he is trying to do is get his players to be where their feet are and not think about the situation, the score, the crowd yelling at them, etc. just be in the moment and make plays as they come to you.

I believe this is directly translatable to life. I am the guiltiest of all people in doing this but we view life through an iPhone which isn't how we were created. Sometimes I catch myself laying on the floor of my son's room worrying about football, a phone call I need to return, or scrolling Twitter. What I should be doing is living in the moment not thinking about anything but what is in front of me. The worry and anxieties that we face in his generation I believe (I am no expert) are a direct reflection of the seemingly unlimited access to everything all at the same time. Always looking at what others have or what they will do next, concerned about how to keep up. Fear of missing out is real and can lead to us missing out on the things right in front of us if we aren’t careful.


I have already talked about our town and the vast impact it has had on our program and ultimately style of offense. Still, I never imagined the impact it would have on me professionally or personally. A time machine in some regards our town is built around our school and because of that our school controls the pulse of town in many ways. We pack the stadium during the fall, the gym in the winter, and the ballparks in the spring. It is something to behold—a South Alabama gem tucked away in our neck of the woods. Someone told me when we moved here that stuff moves a little slower. I believe them now. Things are simpler here.

Sometimes our offense seems complicated. A bevy of traps, counters, off-tackle runs, and sweeps in the boundary trying to outnumber or confuse opponents while our QB is often spinning in a circle while all this is happening. I wouldn’t call it complex, I would call it nuanced with layers designed to seem complicated when it isn’t.

When we arrived two years ago we had no idea we would be spinning in circles and direct snapping the ball to backs to try and put ourselves in a spot to win games but one thing that did quickly become clear was that we needed to simplify. At the time it carried an almost negative connotation with it. I see now that it was never negative and that simple is both a better way to play football and to live life.

I heard this week on a podcast Sean McVay, Head Coach of the LA Rams discussed many of the struggles that he faced after losing the Super Bowl and the constant pursuit that ensued after getting back, and the dark places that it took him. 

Depressed, unsure, and lacking confidence, he seemed to have nearly lost himself in pursuing perfection. Lombardi once said, “Perfection is not attainable, but if we chase perfection we can catch excellence” I don’t believe I am more intelligent than Vince Lombardi. Still, I am not sure that is the mindset we should have while chasing whatever passion we are chasing. 

Sean McVay goes on to say that we shouldn’t be chasing perfection, instead we should be striving to improve each day, just a little bit. He eventually overcame the depression and confusion (and QB problems) and got back to the Superbowl and got the win that he was chasing for all those years. It was that more straightforward mindset shift that empowered him he believed to put his team in the best place to be successful.

Ecclesiastes 4:6 is an excellent example of what Mcvay talked about. It is crucial to have a work-life balance, I am learning that now more than ever as a father. This verse says, “Better is a handful of quietness than two hands full of toil and striving after wind.” A struggle to find the balance between striving to be the best we can be at work while we are also called to be the best we can be in life. That requires rest and some relaxation.

It’s much easier to slow down in the small town I am blessed to live in and I encourage everyone to find a way to simplify so they can more easily do the same.

These are opinions and just personal observations that I hope are helpful to someone!

Friday, June 30, 2023

If the Son has Set you Free, You Are Truly Free Indeed

So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed him,
“If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, [32] and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” [33] They answered him, “We are offspring of Abraham and have never been enslaved to anyone. How is it that you say, ‘You will become free’?”
[34] Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who practices sin is a slave to sin. [35] The slave does not remain in the house forever; the son remains forever. [36] So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.  (John 8:31–36 ESV)

Christian freedom and American Independence Day are interconnected ideas. Both celebrate liberty and independence. As Christians, we find spiritual freedom through faith in Christ, while Independence Day marks the birth of a nation founded on the principles of liberty and self-governance. 

Christian freedom is not merely the absence of physical constraints but a profound liberation from sin and its consequences. The Bible teaches that through Christ's sacrifice, believers are set free from the bondage of sin (Romans 6:18) and have the privilege of becoming children of God (Galatians 3:26). This freedom grants us access to God's grace, love, and eternal life.

The celebration of American freedom is our annual July 4th festivities that commemorate the signing of the Declaration of Independence in 1776, which marked the birth of our country, though the longings of liberty burn in every man,  Our founders envisioned a nation built on the ideals of individual liberty, equality, and self-determination. American freedom grants its citizens the right to pursue life, liberty, and happiness, fostering a society where opportunity exists for all of its citizens.

 Despite the spiritual freedom we receive in Christ, various challenges can hinder our joy and fulfillment. Temptations, doubts, and fear of failure may attempt to erode our confidence in God's grace. Societal pressures, financial hardships, and even persecution may discourage us from standing firm in our faith. To maintain the joy of Christian freedom, we must remain rooted in God's Word and rely on His strength.

The blessings of American freedom also comes with its own set of challenges. Divisive politics, social unrest, and economic disparities can strain the unity envisioned by the nation's founders. Additionally, the misuse of freedom can lead to moral decay, as individuals prioritize personal interests over the common good. To preserve the joy of American freedom, we must actively engage in constructive dialogue, promote understanding, and pursue justice for all. As an American Christian, I need to understand that true liberty can only flourish among people who acknowledge and honor  the Lord. Gospel proclamation must continue from His people!

I want this July 4th to be a time of great gratitude for the blessings of our liberty as Americans and as people who understand the freedoms we have in Christ- this is essential in our journey of faith.

 Recognizing the sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the cross and understanding the magnitude of God's love instills a deep sense of thankfulness. This gratitude should manifest in a life that seeks to honor God and serve others. When we appreciate the freedom from sin and eternal life we have received, we can share this hope with others, extending the blessings of Christian freedom to those around us.

As Americans, expressing gratitude for our freedom involves appreciating the sacrifices made by those who fought for independence and defended it throughout history. Gratitude also means embracing others, working to see the good in our country, and defending the rights secured in our constitution. If we are truly free then we also have the right to speak freely, worship freely, and that means we have to suffer dissenting views as well without shout downs or violence.

In the last few years, the joy of our freedoms feels like they have eroded under the constant negative sirens of cable news, and our constant focus on the problems. And yes, those problems exist.

What we can't do is subject ourselves to a yoke of bondage as a solution to societal ills. There is no law or political solution to the major source of our issues- my prayer for America has not changed since I wrote my 1st blog post in 2004.

Dear God Our Father,
In this time of great division and danger, we ask that you help us. Not that we deserve it, but we want to continue to be a beacon of hope and a model of success. This life is a mixed bag and a temporary host. May you allow us to continue being a preservative of the natural entropy of order.
Lord, the churches are dark in the old land and selfishness reigns. Intellectual imperialism tickles the ears but salve no wounds. Our churches are flickering. Please revive us- give us soft hearts of love and united hearts of courage. We wimper in our prosperity and hoard our greed.
Be gracious to our leaders and heal our land.
In the name and example of Christ,

Friday, June 16, 2023

The Greatest Leader I Have Ever Known

See updated info at the end of this post:

Whoa! That is a big title and full of hyperbole...or is it?

As I have been blessed to continue in my  capacity at Briarwood Christian School for coming up on my 25th year, I wanted to pause, reflect, and honor the man who has been so instrumental to me.

And it is always a joy for me to see him. He came to MANY home games this year.

In the summer of 1983, I had been hired as an intern at Briarwood Presbyterian Church by another great leader (and now my neighbor) Tom Caradine to serve college and high school summer programs. The Church was still on Hwy 280 and the school was in its current location on Hwy 119 South, though in those days you could take a nap on the road and nor get hit by a car for at least 30 minutes!

Tom sent me to Briarwood to get PE balls and equipment for a kids camp and that is where I first heard the name, shook the hand, and experienced the kind practical jokes of Dr. Byrle Kynerd.

He called his son, Kevin to open the combination lock at the downstairs PE closet. Then he said, "Mr. Mathews, I would give you the combination to that lock but we just can't trust that you might come back and steal it all later. So Kevin will open it up and son, don't you dare tell Mr. Mathews that combination."

And then he whispered something privately to Kevin.

It took me back a little how he said all of that and then we walked downstairs to that closet (which is STILL there!)

Kevin looked at me and said, "I can't TELL you this combination but you can watch me open it and you will need to remember it when you return the equipment". That was his first small practical joke by Dr. K that over the decades grew by the hundreds.

I could write thousand of stories and it has been so interesting to me to hear how many former Briarwood coaches and players tell a Dr. Kynerd story on the podcast we have been doing since the fall of 2022. As of this writing, 16 out of 27 podcasts (A.D. Update and BCS Football Classics) have told a Dr. K story.

What prompted me to write about him today?

Since Covid hit in 2020, I have found professional ministry to just feel tougher. There are always challenges and seasons of turmoil... but the landscape of our culture seems to be colder and darker. People show up as more negative and less forgiving or understanding. There isn't a ton of encouragement anywhere in our society. The culture seems less and less concerned about the things of God.

In David Lyons book on postmodernity, "Jesus in Disneyland", he outlined over two decades ago what would be the results of the rapid, consumer based lifestyle that was quickly taking over culture. He anticipated the war between Church Authority and Cyberspace Authority. He predicted that anarchy would threaten Continuity and Instant Fluidity would hurt the foundations of Community.  

Do you see it? 
Do you feel it?

I do- Individuality over Wholeness .... Fragmentation over  Purpose . The destabilization of the post modern movement has put an incredible strain on our society and is paying horrible dividends to our youth. Can anyone but me hear the creaking of broken foundations and fear the weight of sin? If we do not move back to the FAITH side of this equation, what hope is there for long term success?

What foul dust is going to be left in the wake of the collapse without a massive movement of God's Spirit?

The visible church of God is hurting and our young people especially are suffering the consequences of
a moral darkness, sort of an eclipse of God. He IS still shining, just like the sun continues to shine during a solar eclipse, He is hidden, or maybe a better term; 'blocked'. Our society seem to just be gazing at the earth.

And it makes me pause.... what keeps me going?

And though Dr Kynerd has long ago retired as the superintendent of Briarwood Christian School, and former head of Board Directed Ministries... he is still championing me to keep moving forward in gospel hope and spiritual power.

Here are some of the emails he has sent me since 2020:

WELL DONE. Thank you for your leadership

and service  Respectfully, Byrle Kynerd 

Coach, thank you for your Christ honoring and consistent leadership and service at BCS. You are a blessing to many. One special Scripture to encourage you and those you serve with is Psalm 127:1. May you see God’s encouragement day by day.  Gratefully, Byrle Kynerd 

Coach Mathews, thank you for honoring Christ, communicating with grace and corrective clarity, providing appropriate information, and the time you and others devote to informing our parents. May God give you peace and joy as you serve and gratefulness that you are a Witness

and Ambassador for Christ by the way you serve. Trust Him, forgive quickly, do the next right thing when making decisions, and be filled with the Fruit of the Spirit as you serve And arrive at

home each day.  Thank you for your example. You and BCS are in my prayers. 

Respectfully, Byrle Kynerd 

Our society today tends to honor big names, "aura', resumes, and status. We lift the youth up too soon as faddish and dismiss the veterans too early.

And in the long run... what are we missing?

I am fortunate to have been hired, mentored, and directed by a man like Dr. K- and he still is at work in keeping me going!

I don't know if many folks will ever read this... but I just felt like telling him thanks in a more public way.

And I am not discouraged or dismayed... his example and his leadership has prepared me to keep walking in the grace and admonition of Christ.


So you never know how these posts will travel and this one happened to be read by my former coach, David Cutcliffe who wanted to meet Dr. Kynerd after this post and the wonderful things he has heard from SEC admin assistant Melinda Calderini who served as Dr. K's admin assistant for many, many years.

I picked up Dr. K and we drove over to the SEC offices in Birmingham where Coach Cutcliffe serves as the liaison to SEC football coaches and the visit was special.

To hear these two great men I admire swap stories and principles of leadership was amazing! Thanks Coach Cut for honoring Dr. K- it made my day!

This last picture is the infamous video replay room at SEC HQ where crucial decisions are made on Saturdays in the fall!

Wednesday, June 14, 2023

Timing, Spacing, and Movement in the Passing Game

I have gotten a few requests to write another football post. 

As most schools in the state are beginning 7 on 7 summer work, I think it is helpful for us to remember that timing, spacing, and movement is the fine tuning that will have to be worked on continuously all year.

And you can't drill down on all of it yet because full pads will make you have to keep adjusting these points. However, you can begin the fundamentals right now.


An often overlooked part of TIMING, SPACING, MOVEMENT (TSM) in the passing game is the actual gun snap. And it even shows up more in the run game. Have you noticed the pace of your center's snap? Is it fast or loopy?

Also, it is super important to press your QB's on the type of drop your play call demands. Since we are primarily in the gun we have to declare now throws (turn 2 or turn toe), quick game, 1 step and gather, quick three, rhythm three, fast 5, roll out, and play action drops. Under center, it is still important to teach a skilled 3 step and 5 step drop.

A short drop can make a QB go nuts as he is waiting on the receiver AND a late throw is never good. 

Also short routes by receivers are huge time mistakes.

On some of our deeper cuts I often say "get all of it".

"A receiver is never as open as when he is INITIALLY open".

Many years ago, I did a clinic in North Alabama on time clock in the passing game. I received requests for that info for weeks after that clinic. I was able to show on film that all levels of football subconsciously throw on a 3 count time clock and the only difference is the depth of the routes. For example, the standard curl in HS is 12-10 yards, college 14-12 yards, and pro 16-14 yards... all on the same clock!

"Thousand 1, thousand 2, BALL!"- any longer is usually a sack or a scramble.

One final point in TIMING- I like to use "BURTS" by receivers as the "indicator" for the release- fast hands, fast feet, and a head bob.... it also helps sell double moves as well.


On film, if you ever see two of our receivers within 5 yards of each other on the throw, then we have had a MAJOR MISHAP in our concept. At the same time, if you see the space 2 counts before the throw, then we are probably wrong as well.

Using route stems and intended rubs can hurt many match zones because in reality, almost all coverage schemes turn in to Cover 1 by the time the QB is throwing. We just want to create doubts in the 'cutter picker uppers' and I get giddy if two defenders cover 1 of my dudes.... that means a DC is screaming because we have a guy wide open nearby.


One issue in particular I have been working on are DB's that aren't afraid of our speed and sit in the medium zones and just catch the routes or teams that sit 4 defenders at a conversion line or goal line and play that high percentage area very well.

We have to use speed changes to take shots over those guys and well as what I call ricochet techniques to run into those defenders and bounce open off of them. I saw a college team do that in a bowl game this past season vs a Tampa 2 low hole player. They geared down and punched by that defender with the #2  receiver and bounced off of him with the #3. The QB pumped the bounce and threw a laser to the #2 who sped into the hole just below the 2 wide safeties for 22 yards before he was tackled!

Both receivers were next to each other at the thousand 2 count and 7 yards apart at the throw after the pump. I put that in my playbook the next day and just call it "Tampa".

It reminds me that QB's can hunch and pump zones to create space as well! It just takes 1 half count more of protection so save it for the 2nd half when sone fatigue can help.


I so wish in my early years as an offensive coordinator I understood how stack, bunches, and short motions impact the leverage of defensive backs. I coached for 10 years with a static 3x1 and 2x2 passing game that was awesome back when defenses defended grass, but can now get shut down and out by well schemed match zones and variables of trips coverages used by teams- add pressure and simulated pressures and my old 1990's passing game would be totally ineffective.

HOWEVER... now all we do is dress up the old concepts with stacks, compressed formations, post snap switches, fast motions, moved to empty, collapse from empty and all of those coverages start to bust even simple 4 vertical concepts.

It takes the entire summer for receivers to understand the nuances of these enhancements... but the payoff is gold. And it is NOT COMPLICATED.


About mid-June, I start talking to our QB's about 'problem solving pressure' and we can't wait until full pads to understand hots and pass pro checks to help us get the ball off.

Instead of teaching hard fast rules to pressure answers, we talk about a myriad of ideas including fake claps, pointing and calling out issues, moving, using, and finding backs as well as run checks that can convert even 3rd and long.

Bottom Line:

In high school, I still think a good defense beats a good offense... but the new throw away allowance, the 40 second play clock, the personnel substitution rules in high school can frustrate even a good defense.

I have no doubt every DC worth his salt has answers to these issues.... but can their players do it?

3 mistakes on offense can lead to a punt.

3 mistakes on defense could be 21 points.

It is still a very fun game to coach- even after 30 plus years!

Send thoughts to I love to hear from coaches.

Monday, June 12, 2023

Arnold Defeats The Devil- Problems and Perspective

Normally I would not review a movie based on the rating and explicit content of this film, but I did see it and was motivated to comment. Viewer advisory caution and use your FF button- that is what I do.

I recently watched the Netflix three part documentary on Arnold Schwarzenegger and like almost any documentary I watched, I found it fascinating. I love hearing people's stories! All three episodes were intriguing and as soon as I finished the last one, a link popped up to an Arnold movie I had never seen before, and is ranked as one of his very unusual flops (it only made 212 million worldwide... hmm quite the standard of failure!)

"End of Days" is an action-packed thriller starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, revolving around the battle between good and evil in the final days of the millennium. After sleeping on it, I woke up and decided to to analyze various aspects of the movie, including theological themes, visual imagery, and character development. It also has two powerful apologetic applications that most movie watchers would miss.

While the movie incorporates theological elements, there is an acknowledgment that theological interpretations may not resonate with all viewers. However, it is worth noting that the visual and artistic qualities present in the film can be appreciated independently, much like the aesthetics of Renaissance paintings that transcended religious beliefs. Make no mistake, this movie has terrible theology, but the depiction of spiritual themes through imagery is compelling.

The film employs striking visual imagery that leaves a lasting impression on the audience. Although certain graphic images may be challenging to defend, they effectively convey the inherent evil within the story. The portrayal of evil remains consistent throughout the film, allowing viewers to recognize and understand the nature of the antagonist.

One of the movie's strengths lies in its exploration and depiction of temptations. The filmmakers delve into the allure and dangers of succumbing to temptation, providing a powerful representation of the human struggle against immoral desires. This adds depth to the narrative and enhances the complexity of the characters. The scene where the Satan character interacts with Arnold's character held me spellbound, and has applications to how the real Satan tempted Christ in the wilderness.

TWO APOLOGETICS APPLICATIONS: The film does carry questions of faith in light of suffering and the existence of God. Early on a ranking priest poses a logical question about knowing God includes the existence of His adversary but another thought-provoking aspect of "End of Days" is the reflection on the notion of fixed standards. The film highlights that the greatest apologetic lies within the limitations imposed by time, procedures, and dates. This raises questions about the origin and validity of the fixed standards by which actions and events are judged, stimulating contemplation on higher authorities or moral frameworks. In the movie, Satan was powerful but bound my rules of what he could do, how he could do it, and when he must do it. WHO SETS THESE STANDARDS? We miss the self evident answer all the time. It takes more faith to deny God than admit His existence in my opinion.

Arnold Schwarzenegger's character exhibits a significant turning point in the movie when he throws down his weapon and humbly asks for help. This moment resonates with audiences, showcasing vulnerability and a willingness to rely on others for support. It humanizes the character, allowing viewers to connect with his journey on a deeper level. The film's climax is ultimately that the Arnold character must, in humble reliance upon divine grace, admit the existence of God, ask for his help, trust in Him and not earthly weapons to defeat the spiritual enemy.

Finally, the concept of sacrifice to defeat Satan is another notable theme in the film. The depiction of the main character making a selfless sacrifice in the face of evil adds depth and emotional weight to the story. This portrayal underscores the idea that defeating malevolence often requires personal sacrifice, emphasizing the resilience and strength of the human spirit. The Christ imagery is strong throughout the film though the theology continues to miss the Bible's message.

The producers wrestled with an alternate ending. In the alternate one, God resurrects Arnold's character after the defeat of the devil. Though it was a test audience favorite, I am glad they left in the original format of Arnold being dead at the end. By choosing not to deify the character, the filmmakers maintain the protagonist's humanity, preserving the integrity of the narrative. This choice avoids elevating the character to a god-like status, emphasizing the importance of mortal limitations and the preservation of relatable human experiences.

Again, I can't 'recommend' the movie because of the graphic nature of the film and it isn't a great film by any stretch of the imagination. It does make me pray for Arnold- he needs Jesus and he is such a likable person and possibly the most driven celebrity I have ever had the privilege to learn about. I know he has gospel influence in his midst with son-in-law Chris Pratt and others, but he has sin and flaws like all of us as well.

Lord, open our eyes to the beauty of gospel truth and let us respond to the message of salvation in the name of Jesus!