Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Brothers Built for Adversity

Van played our rivals last week for the district championship.  On the morning of the game Layton woke up, throwing up.  The rest of my kids and my wife had the same bug earlier in the week and we were hoping Layton and Colt were going to avoid this virus.  Despite all of our precautions he was sick on Friday morning.  Layton tried to keep us from finding out and he went to school only to have the trainer call us an hour later saying we needed to come get him.   He lay in bed with a bucket by his side all day and when it was time to go to the fieldhouse he was still not himself, but he was determined to play.  My only advice to Layton was if you decide to play, decide to play as if you were 100% hold nothing back.  You know Layton did exactly that.  He played hard and ended up with an interception in the fourth quarter to seal the deal.

I couldn’t have been more proud of my son!  Not because he made an interception but because he played and because he played without moaning or complaining.  He denied himself and put his teammates ahead of his own needs, rose up, and met the challenge not for his own glory but for a bigger purpose.  To me, this encapsulates the essence of being a Godly man.   Godly men need to be willing to lay down their lives in small and big ways for the love of their fellow man.  They need to be ready to deny their flesh when their flesh is screaming “take care of me!”  Godly men are those who do what is needed and what is right regardless of circumstances.  They trust God to give them the strength needed to get the job done even when they feel weak and incapable.  While this game might be a small matter in the whole of a person’s life, Layton laid a few more stones in the foundation of Kingdom greatness by following our King’s example of laying down his life for his brothers.
Sign up for Champions Rodeo Camps

Wednesday, October 31, 2012


This morning I took a moment to look back.  I don’t do that very often but for some reason I just began to think of all of the amazing things God has allowed me to be a part of and I was a bit overcome.  I have been to Australia twice, I have been to Africa, I have won a lot of stuff, and I have seen great sights and made friends all over the world.  I have been truly blessed.  I am blessed.   The interesting thing is that the blessing was never the things I have done, the places I have been, or the stuff I have won.  The blessing has always been the PEOPLE  God has brought into my life while I was winning, going and doing.
  Now, I am often asked “are you still rodeoing?” or “are you gonna do anymore jousting?” and the answer is - I don’t know, but probably not.  When I tell people this they often look at me with a kind of sad look like “ah, that’s a shame” as if the awesome stuff I have been able to “do” was what made my life worthwhile when in fact the RELATIONSHIPS have been the true blessing.   In the truest sense of the word I am more blessed now than I have ever been.   Wow! I look around now at all of the incredible friends I have.  I see my amazing kids, and my awesome wife, and the rest of my family and I am floored at how blessed I am.  I have wise, trustworthy men who pour into me (Andy, Lynn, Herb, Dudley, Rob, Chris…).   I have true brothers who I can be real with (Cash, Charlie, Tim, Zach, Jared, David, Glen, Jesse, Ty, Cody, Al…).  I have people who allow me the great honor of speaking into their lives (wranglers, steer wrestling students, Champions Rodeo kids…).  I have an incredibly diverse group of friends who keep me connected to a diverse and amazing world (Josh, Joe, Shane, Chad, Jackie, Stran, Joey,  Bill, Sam, Jim, Hunter, Boyd, Matt…) My pastor says, “God counts His wealth in people,” so I am one of the richest men on earth! 


Thanks Father for bringing so many incredible people into my life and thanks to all of the people who have made my life so rich!


One final note, I wanted to list all of these awesome friends but I just keep thinking of more and more and I don’t want to leave any out so I am going to continue to add to this list even after I post this CTJ.


Wednesday, October 24, 2012

No Coasting

I recently spoke with a friend of mine who is a football coach, and he was saying how the team was at that point in the season where they were having a hard time staying focused at practice.  It is week seven of the season and while there are always a few new wrinkles in the offense and the defense, basically they are doing the same things they have been doing for two and a half months.  The team seemed to have kicked it into neutral - and while they were still moving forward, they were no longer moving forward with any purpose.  Coach said he understood how they felt because he was feeling the same thing- a certain weariness that sets in and it was becoming difficult to maintain the level of effort and concentration he once felt.  This feeling is actually elevated when things are going well.  His team is on a 4 game winning streak where they have beaten tough opponents and played better than expected.  So the team shows up but they are kind of going through the motions.  I know this feeling from my own life - things are going pretty well with my family, my friends, my relationship with the Father, and I begin to coast, I take my foot off of the accelerator, shift into neutral and begin to coast.  The thing about coasting is no matter how fast you are going to begin with, as soon as you start to coast you begin to decelerate, to slow down, to shut down, and as soon as you lose your momentum it takes a lot more force to get rolling again.   The fact that momentum lost is hard to regain is why every good coach fights so hard during the doldrums of each season to keep his team motivated, focused, and ready for the challenges that lie ahead. He knows he will eventually meet the opponent that requires all the momentum his team can muster if they are to overcome.  It needs to be the same way in our personal and spiritual lives.  When things are good we cannot afford to take our foot off of the gas.  If life has taught us anything it should be to recognize that there is trouble around the next bend and we just may need a vibrant connection with the Father to get through it. 

The Israelites were always going through this cycle.  They would experience a time of struggle, then turn their hearts to God and He would bring about a great victory. Inevitably the Israelites would begin to coast and before you knew it they would once again be in a mess.  I know this is the cycle I find in my own life if on a smaller scale.  I struggle, and somewhere in the struggle my Father encourages me, strengthens me and gets me headed, once again, in the right direction. Then when everything seems to be going just fine I become weary and I coast and then I am “surprised” when I find myself in a new mess. 

The problem is we peek at the scoreboard.  We seem to have the “game” well in hand, our opponent seems defeated, our life (substitute: marriage, job, schoolwork, raising our kids…) is running smoothly.  Why shouldn’t we just take it easy?  But we must remember that the opposition, while defeated, is constant.  Even when Jesus was tempted in the Wilderness, after He defeated the Devil three times, the Devil left Him alone until “a more opportune time” (Luke 4:13).   I am not suggesting we need to be freaked out that the Devil is after us - I am merely saying we need to (1 Peter 5:8) 8 Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour.  The guys I know who are great Champions never know the “score”.  They are just as tough when they are being blown out as when they are blowing someone else out.  They are resolute regardless of the situation.  Champions keep doing what they have been called to do and they always continue to improve.  We need to keep our hands on the wheel and our foot on the accelerator.  This is no time to let up.  Now is the time to keep pressing toward the mark for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus!

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Candice and I saw the movie Courageous last night.  The movie was powerful and very timely for me.  For several years I have wanted to start a ministry for dads at Sky -Sky Dads- and recently we have begun to step in that direction.  As with anything like this, if you prayerfully plan an offensive move like helping dads reach their full potential as Kingdom parents, you can expect to encounter some opposition from the other side.  Recognizing this is a great catalyst to take stock in how I am doing as a dad. Between the movie and some discussion with my wife afterwards I am reminded again of just how far I have to go to be the kind of dad I need to be for my kids and my wife.  You know sometimes I think my biggest problem is thinking I am a “pretty good dad”.  I show up, I talk to them, tell them I love them, I am faithful… but I fall sooo incredibly short as a dad.  My praise is qualified, my wisdom sounds condescending, my encouragement lacks patience, my prayers lack consistency, my help has a hook…  While I may be trying to do the right thing as a dad or as a husband, I find the very things I thought were helping are actually sometimes hindering my family.  Luke 6:45 says “A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart brings forth evil. For out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.”   While I may be trying to bring forth good, I keep seeing bad results (i.e. I answer a question but I do it in a way that makes someone feel dumb, I correct but I do it in front of someone else so it embarrasses, or I praise them but qualify the praise with a “but”…).   So the old excuse of good intentions is no longer valid.  I want to be a great dad - not so that I will be known as a great dad but so my kids can have a less distorted view of the Father.  I want to be a “good” man, but this verse makes it pretty plain that if I am still bringing forth hurt, discouragement, and sorrow then that must be what is in abundance in my heart. 

Father, please forgive my pride and foolishness.  Pride for thinking I was a good dad and foolishness for thinking “I” could accomplish that goal.  I pray that You would renew my heart within me and let the books I read and the times I study fill my heart with love and compassion instead of filling my mind with facts.   Make me into the kind of man my family needs -one that not only desires to raise them well, but one that actually get it done. Amen

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Taking My Legs

In sports there is the idea of taking the “legs” of your opponent.  It means to discourage them or to dishearten them to the point they no longer have any sense of hope or optimism and they become easy to defeat.  I feel like the enemy knows just how to “take my legs”.   He simply waits until I do or say something foolish around or to my wife and kids, then he amplifies it and uses this failure to bring discord between my wife and I.  Nothing takes my legs more than a quarrel between Candice and me.  I feel pretty much unable to add anything of much value to any conversation, or circumstance I find myself in.  I am not sure it should be this way but it is.  I know Jesus is our source of power and strength but nothing leaves my feeling quite as disconnected from the power source as a spat with my wife. 

                How do you get our legs back?  It is extremely hard in sports and likewise it is difficult in our personal life.  I am not sure I can even speak to this all that well as I am still trying to figure it out.   However, I have learned a few things.  In basketball, football, and baseball you have to go back to the basics and focus on the next thing, (possession, play, at bat…) then find something positive to build on, and sometimes those small sparks can reignite the individuals and the team.  In our personal lives it is much the same.  If we return to the fundamentals like prayer, getting quiet, doing something to help, or encouraging someone those small kindnesses sometimes give us something positive to build on and maybe before we know it the wind is back in our sails and we have our legs back to continue running this race set before us. 

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Being a Football Dad Without Being a "Football Dad"

My son Layton tore it up a couple of weeks ago when the Vandals beat the Lindale Eagles.  He shut down a really good receiver, had some amazing open field tackles, and basically played like an animal.  My son Holden had his first seventh grade game recently too and he did great.  He had an interception, and caught two passes for 35 yards.   In Texas, football is king and in small towns it certainly feels that way.  I have probably had 15 people I barely know tell me this week how good my boys played.  I am excited they are doing so well, but am really asking God  to keep me from being one of those dads that lives and dies with every play.  I hear them in the stands - questioning every call made by ref and coach alike.  I see them stalking practices like a scout. I don’t want to be “that” dad, but I see I could be that dad in an instant.  I have coached my kids in at least one sport a year since they were in kindergarten.  I have been to the games where they had their greatest triumphs and to the games where they have had their greatest defeats.  So, how do you pull back?  How do you become one of  those great dads who is cheering their kid and his team on and not cheering “their” team on?  How do you let go?  I always want my boys to know I am behind them, but I also want them to know that THEY take the field.  “We” are not playing this Friday.  “They” are.  “We” didn’t win last week.  “He”, his teammates and coaches did. 
You know, our Father is like this. He cheers us on.  He is always there for us in both victory and defeat, but our Father never insists on any of the credit.  He watches and He cheers, but He cheers just as loudly in the defeat as He does in the win.  Our Father remembers He is growing a man and not a football player.  God, I want to be THAT kind of football dad.  I want to cheer them on.  I want to keep it all in perspective.  I want to be as excited about the valiant effort as I am about the victory.  I want my boys to make great memories and I want any memories they have of me related to football to be of me smiling from the stands.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Wearing Pink, Feeding Bunnies and Other Manly Endeavors

Last year my wife bought me a pink (actually Hot Pink) polo shirt and I hadn't worn it until church this past weekend-- not because I didn't like the shirt, but because I knew I would receive some flak from my friends for wearing it.  Sure enough - we no sooner got to Sunday school and a friend of mine poppped off about my nice pink shirt.  You know during the day I had 5 different girls of all ages say how much they liked my shirt and 4 guys gave me a hard time.  Also this week, my son found a nest of baby rabbits that were kicked out in the open when we were hauling off some limbs.  Our dog ate two of them (much to the horror of my daughter) but the lone survivor became a rescue project.  So, I found myself twice daily trying to get this little rabbit to drink 5ml of milk replacer (with little success), then rubbing a warm washcloth across its belly trying to get it to “go”.  While doing these things or while playing "babies" with my 21 month old daughter, I thought, "boy, you are a really tough jouster".   
Guys doing “guy things” like jousting and steer wrestling and wearing brown plaid - that is what it means to be a man, right?  Men are to be tough and strong and silent -right?  Or maybe to be a man it means doing what is needed without fear or complaint - doing what those around you need you to do.  Sure men need to do the “manly” things like killing a snake or a bug, working overtime to pay for an unexpected bill, or stepping up to coach the team.  But what if the “need” is not so gloriously tough?  What if the need is what the world might even call soft.  Does your family need someone to cook dinner, or do the dishes, or to play dress up…?  Men - real men- do what is needed.  They do what is needed without complaint, without fear, and without compromise.  I am blessed to be around some real men. They are men who will not just run the grill, but will help clean up afterwards.  They are real men who play with their kids - not out of a sense of duty but because they like them.  They are men who serve their families without acting as if they are owed something for simply doing what was needed.

So, if you want to know what I have been up to since the show, I have been doing some real “manly” things, like feeding bunnies, playing babies and wearing pink!