Mar 24

Christian Families and Youth Sports (pt. 3)

Part one in this series deal with the impact youth sports is having upon families and the church.  In part two I discussed highlights from Mike Matheny’s book on youth sports.  In this third and final post I desire to share some of my own suggestions for dealing with youth sports as a Christian parent.

Five principles Christian families can use to evaluate their involvement in youth sports.

  1. Prayerfully and thoughtfully consider all organized sports participation.  Just because everyone else is doing it doesn’t mean it is best for your family.  Just because your child wants to play doesn’t mean you should let them play.  Parents must be selective.  Families must set boundaries for themselves.  Before you sign up for the travel team or choose to play fall soccer, winter basketball,  spring soccer, and summer baseball all while the daughter plays soccer, volleyball, and takes piano you should consider the impact upon your family!
  2. Don’t forget the value of backyard fun.  Maybe the best thing you can do for your family is to say no to organized sports during certain seasons and focus on just letting the kids get outside and play.  More memories can be made with a family whiffle ball game than a summer full of t-ball!
  3. Always keep in mind our example for Christ, whether being a coach, referee, parent, or player.  As Christians we should not check our faith at the gym door!  We must remember we are reflecting Christ and the local church by our actions. When folks of the community see us acting a fool toward the referee or harshly berating our own child over a game, we hinder our witness for Christ.
  4. Remember the intended purpose of youth sports in seeking to raise your child. Seek to determine what you would like to accomplish with youth sports and seek to use them to mold your child.  Sports teach great lessons like humility, effort, teamwork, winning and losing with class, and anger management.  Choose to use sports to mold your child’s character, not just their skills!  Don’t get focused on pushing your child, so they will get a scholarship.  Approximately only 1% of  high school athletes will receive a Division 1 scholarship.¹  Your focus must be on character development.
  5. Use sports to teach respect and obedience to the coach and officials.  As a parent, we must resist the effort to regularly run down the coach and officials.  We must show respect for the officials and the coach through our own actions.  We cannot expect our kids to respect them, if we as parents don’t.

What more would you add for Christian families to consider?

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¹  https://www.bostonglobe.com/magazine/2014/05/03/how-parents-are-ruining-youth- sports/vbRln8qYXkrrNFJcsuvNyM/story.html

 

 

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Mar 23

Christian Families and Youth Sports (pt. 2)

In part one I discussed the impact of youth sports upon families and how we must seek to manage our involvement with sports.  All of these thoughts I am sharing found their stimulus in Mike Matheny’s book The Matheny Manifesto.  Mike is the current manager of the St. Louis Cardinals.  The book was excellent.  It is an outgrowth of a viral letter he wrote to parents of a youth baseball team they were forming in the St. Louis area before he became manager.  Matheny is passionate about youth sports and shares some valuealbe insights in the book.  While I can’t do justice to the book in a short blog posts, I want to share with you some of the concepts I found insightful from the book.

  • You can read the original letter at his website.  It is a powerful read on this topic.
  • Parents are the problem with youth sports.  They have made the sports about their pride and their child’s accomplishments.  There is too much focus on attaining scholarships, specialized instructions, and expensive travel teams and tournaments.  On their team they asked parents to agree to be a silent supporter of their kids.  To cheer for them, but not to yell and scream instruction or criticism to players, coaches, or officials.  He feels kids often don’t want to play because of the actions of their parents.
  • Youth sports should be about the kids!  It should be about their skill and character development.  It is not about winning and losing, the coach’s record, or the parents living their dream.
  • Sports should be fun and should also include non-organized forms with parents and friends in the backyard.
  • Coaches should focus on the kids, not themselves!  They should always work to preserve the dignity of each player and the game.
  • Officials and coaches should be respected.  He was taught by his father, “the coach is always right, even when he is wrong.”  Referees are getting harder to come by today, because of the abuse they take.  Often with youth sports another kid only a few years older may be calling the game.  Coaches should respect officials and teach their players to not show disapproval or make gestures toward officials.
  • Don’t be afraid to let your kid quit.  Mike believes that letting your child walk away from the sport is often the best way to foster a true love of sports within them.
  • Understand the value in playing a variety of sports.  There is too much specialization in youth sports today.  He encourages kids to play a variety of sports. This also develops more skills and helps reduce injuries.
  • Some of the most entertaining chapters in the book had to do with his keys to success he tries to live by and teach to youth players.  These involve qualities like leadership, teamwork, faith, character, and humility.

I think Mike’s ideas need to be considered by Christian families today seeking to get the most out of youth sports.  Check out the book for yourself!

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Mar 21

Christian Families and Youth Sports (pt. 1)

I want to release three posts on the topic:

This one (part 1) on the importance of considering how we handle youth sports.

A second part sharing some highlights from Mike Matheny’s book on the topic.

And a third post with some suggestions I would like to make to families.  So join me in reading and considering these posts.  Feel free to share comments and feedback with me on the topic.


“Three out of four American families with school-aged children have at least one playing an organized sport–a total of about 45 million kids.”¹  ESPN in some data they collected said 21.5 million kids between the ages of 6-17 play on a team sport.²  Youth sports has changed drastically in the last 30 years.  It has gone from the driveway and local park to the travel teams and paid tournaments.  Youth sports is big money.

For Christians families this is one of the greatest challenges we face today.  Kids’ involvement in sports requires hours of time, sometimes significant amounts of money, and often time away from home. Youth sports puts pressure on family in several key areas.  Because of sports, marriages are often strained as parents have to divide and conquer to get the kids to all the practices and games.  Youth sports often stands in direct competition with the church for the time and affection of kids.  Kids struggle to attend Bible class or be involved in youth group activities because of their sports commitments.  It often can harm the peace and serenity of the home, because there is little time at home for a family to be together.

Christian parents can greatly harm their example for Christ and the church when they allow youth sports to push them to act inappropriately in public.  Youth sports can bring out anger and harsh words toward coaches, officials, and even our own children.  We can be influenced to miss worship services regularly and send the wrong message to our children about what should be our top priority.

I don’t have all the answers, but I do know some of the problems.  I have seen sports break apart marriages, pull families away from the church, and cause kids to not develop their faith.  We have four children who have played sports recreational for six plus years.  I have coached numerous soccer and basketball teams.  We have played soccer, basketball, golf, and baseball.  I know what it is like to have practices on numerous nights of the week.  I have experience the emotions of being a coach and the frustration of being a parent.  It is a real challenge, because sports tug at our hearts!  There is much value in them, but they also can harm the family and endanger the souls of our family if we don’t keep them in check.

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¹ https://www.bostonglobe.com/magazine/2014/05/03/how-parents-are-ruining-youth- sports/vbRln8qYXkrrNFJcsuvNyM/story.html

²  http://www.espn.com/espn/story/_/id/9469252/hidden-demographics-youth-sports-espn-magazine

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Mar 14

Portable Basketball Goal Families!

Fallen Basketball Goal

The kids got a nice portable basketball goal in October.  I was determined to take good care of this goal. I put the recommended weight in the base and kept the goal low to catch less wind.  However, the goal has still fallen over numerous times.  I purchased some ground spikes from Lowe’s and anchored it down.  It pulled up the anchors during a storm and fell over again.  The rim plate broke and I had to order a replacement part and repair the goal.  In February, after repairing the goal, I put two more anchors down.  I have four anchors and 300 pounds of sand.  A strong storm went through last week, and you guessed it, the goal got blown over and the rim took another hard blow!  Our house sits up on a hill and gets a lot of wind when there is strong thunderstorms.

Then it hit me, I didn’t have this problem as a child.  My goal is still there to this day.  It is hung on a metal post buried in the ground with concrete.  It is always 10 feet.  It isn’t adjustable.  My parents had a small tornado destroy a shop building storing my dad’s farm equipment, but that goal is still there!  Amanda grew up with a permanent goal buried in the ground.  It is still there!

So what is my point?  I think the difference in permanent versus portable goals is a pretty good symbol for our current generation.  We have it better!  The goal is portable.  You can move it where you want.  The goal is adjustable.  You can play at 7.5 feet or 10 feet.  The backboard is clear plexiglass, not the white fiberglass.  But it falls over!  It doesn’t have staying power.  It is flashy and better, but it doesn’t last.  We opt for the newer and better, but we have sacrificed stability and permanence.

Families today are so busy seeking out newer and better, which means we are more portable and active than ever.  But we aren’t as strong. We don’t have the deep roots of past generations, and the winds of the world blow us over.  We are so busy living in a world that seeks to cater to our every desire, that we don’t have the permanence and stability.  We have personal electronics for each family member, and we are on the go from city-to-city with little time at home to be a family.  We are constantly connected, yet disconnected!  We look good, but we aren’t strong!  We are portable, but not permanent.  

I want my family to be like a permanent basketball goal, maybe not the flashiest goal in the neighborhood, but still standing strong after the storm passes over.  Will you join me in this pursuit?

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Mar 08

Let’s Allow Other Christians to Express their Convictions!

In our social media world it seems Christians are always debating each other in the public sphere.  While there can be some good in open dialogue, when done with a critical spirit it harms the cause of Christ. It discourages Christians and shows discord within the faith of Christ.

  • The latest topic is Disney’s Beauty and the Beast.  Many Christians have voiced their conviction that they will boycott the movie because of it being used to support same-sex attraction.  Other Christians have expressed their desire to see the movie. I don’t believe it is a sin to hold either conviction.  It is a matter of liberty to which Paul spoke of in Romans 14 and 1 Corinthians 8.  So why should Christians berate the conviction of another?  Why would we call each other “hypocrites”?
  • Another recent topic has been the immigrant and refugee issue.  Many Christians vocally oppose President Trump’s policies on immigration and trumpet how we are to be treating refugees with love and compassion.  While other Christians support strengthening the border, deportation of illegal immigrants, and are not in favor of accepting refugees.  It seems this is another area of liberty, and one that we should respect the convictions of others.

I could go on listing controversial topics; like politics or school preference.  But the problem is the same no matter the topic. Christians must learn to allow each other to express and hold their convictions.  Paul said we are not to “quarrel over opinions” (Rom. 14:1).  We are not to “despise” one another (Rom. 14:3).  We need to allow one another to make up their own mind on these matters of opinion and act out of faith (Rom. 14:23).  Christians should recognize the difference in matters of liberty or opinion and matters of doctrine or faith (2 John 9-11)  It is not our place to judge others when they express their opinions, Paul says judgment is reserved for God (Rom. 14:10-13).  We should seek to foster mutual acceptance and love through our words and actions in person and on social media.  Calling others hypocrites, or ridiculing their choices, doesn’t encourage or help anyone!  If you must disagree, be respectful and kind.  Use their expression of a conviction to encourage your faith and learn from them as you try to form your own.  Christians should focus on respecting the opinions of one another, rather than rejecting their expression of them!

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Mar 03

Why You Can’t Love the Cross and Reject the Church

People love the cross; and well we should!  The cross is our only hope for boasting and pride!¹  It is through the cross of Christ that we are saved.  It is that old rugged cross that held the Savior of the world between heaven and earth to reconcile us back to God.

But sadly many in their love and desire for the cross reject the rest of the story.  They reject what goes along with the cross–the church of Christ.  The cross was only a part of God’s master plan.  When people love the cross, but reject the church they are committing a grievous spiritual error that will cost them their souls.  

Let me share four reasons why you can’t love the cross and reject the church. 

  1. The Cross Made the Church Possible.  At the time of Jesus’ coming to earth people were divided between Jews and Gentiles.  The Jews were under the Old Covenant of Moses given at Sinai.  Christ came and perfectly fulfilled the old law and nailed the old law to the cross.  He made the old law obsolete so Christ could establish His new covenant.  He reconciled Jews and Gentiles together in one body, the church, through his act of dying on the cross.  We now have a responsibility to obey the new covenant of Christ found in the New Testament.²
  2. The Cross Purchased the Church. Paul instructed the elders at Ephesus to, “shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood.”  Later in 1 Corinthians 6:19-20, Paul will tell each Christian that we were bought with a price.  The price paid for us was the blood of Christ.  We have been redeemed.  The church is the redeemed upon the earth.  The church was valued by God!  God valued the church when he purchased it with the precious blood of His son!³
  3. The Cross set the Pattern for the Church. Christ taught His disciples that we must deny ourselves, take up  His cross, and follow Him.  We are to lose our life, so that we might find true life in Christ.  This is the pattern expected out of church members.  It is the pattern that Christ demonstrated when He died on the cross.  At baptism the new believer undergoes this same pattern when they die to sin, bury their old sinful self, and rise to walk in newness of life.  Thus, Paul would instruct us to crucify our flesh with its passions and desires.  The life of every church and individual Christian should be one of reenacting this pattern of dying to self.¹¹
  4. The Cross made Entrance into the Church Possible.  The church was a part of God’s divine plan.  It was planned before time and prophesied in the Old Testament.  But it could not be established until Christ came to purchase it at Calvary.  Christ saw his purpose in coming to earth as one to establish and build His church.  Without the cross there could be no church.  But the purpose of the cross was to establish the church.  Thus, 50 short days after Christ died and 10 days after He ascended, the Father sent the Holy Spirit upon the Apostles in Jerusalem to preach the gospel.  They proclaimed the good news of Jesus Christ and established the church.  We should desire to be a part of the church that the Apostles established on Pentecost.  One can be a member of that same body today, simply by doing what they did on Pentecost.  We need to believe in Jesus, repent of our sins, confess Christ, and be baptized to have our sins forgiven.  This adds one to the church of Christ.²²

The church is essential to our salvation.  It cannot and must not be separated from the cross of Christ.  They are intrinsically linked by God for all time.  We must not love the cross and seek to reject the church.  Paul taught us that the reason Christ died on the cross was because “He loved the church and gave himself for her, that He might sanctify and cleanse her with he washing of water by the word, that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish.”³³

 


¹  Galatians 6:14

²  Col. 2:13-14; Heb. 7:18-28; 8:13; Eph. 1:22-23; 2:14-16; 5:23-27

³ Acts 20:28; 1 Cor. 6:19-20; Eph. 5:23-27

¹¹ Matthew 16:21-27; John 12:23-26; Romans 6:1-10; Gal. 5:24

²²  Matthew 16:17-19; Col. 1:13-20; Acts 2; Gal. 3:26-27

³³  Ephesians 5:23-27

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Feb 28

Am I Really a Fan?

Wikipedia Logo

I am a Los Angeles Laker’s fan.  That is what I claim, but don’t test my fan prowess!  No riddling me with questions like these:  Who are their starters this year?  What is their record?  Are they going to make the playoffs?

But I am a fan of the Lakers.  I know all of their history.  I grew up loving the Lakers.  I could do Kareem’s hook shot as a 10 year old boy.  I could pass like Magic.  I watched them any chance I got.  I was a big fan through the 2000s.  I followed Shaq and Kobe winning championships and squabbling like little kids.  I liked how Pat and Phil coached the Lakers and watched as many games as I could.  I am a big fan.

But when was the last time I watched a Laker’s game?  When was the last time I checked their box score or read the story of last night’s game?  Well, we wouldn’t want to go there!  I have gotten busy. I don’t have the time to watch the games. The players aren’t as interesting to me and the team isn’t as good.  They are a far cry from those winning years.  My own life has changed.  I have four kids, a full-time job, a small farm, and no cable TV!   But I am still a fan!

Does this sound familiar to how many, and maybe even you, talk about God?  You grew up active in church and a part of all the activities.  You were a big believer!  But times have changed.  The church has changed.  You have changed.  You are busy with your own life and many responsibilities.  You want your Sunday for rest and family time.  You don’t have time to read the Bible.  But you are still a believer!  You are still a fan!  You still perceive of yourself in the same light as before, but if you were to really test your faith, you would fail!  You haven’t been to church in years. You don’t read your Bible.  You don’t even pray, except when you are desperate.  You claim to be a part of the church, but half the folks there wouldn’t even know you.

Am I really a Laker’s fan today?  At best, i am a pathetic excuse for one and make no difference for the team.  Are you a believer, or are you just a pathetic fan of God?  Be honest!  (2 Cor. 13:5)

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Feb 23

Reviving Hospitality!

Some Rights Reserved by SalFalko

Why is it that we think hospitality is just for the ladies?  One of the qualifications for an elder is “hospitable.”  It seems that hospitality is a dying virtue in our busy culture.

It was highly valued in Old Testament times.  We see it displayed by Abraham, Lot, the widow of Zarephath to Elijah and Joseph to his brothers.  The New Testament teaches us about this core virtue as well.  The Pharisee is rebuked by Jesus for his lack of hospitality.  The good Samaritan is a timeless example of true servanthood.  Mary, Martha, and Lazarus open their home to Jesus.  The early church was active in hospitality.  Elders and widows were both required to be hospitable.  Traveling Christians and itinerant preachers depended upon the hospitality of fellow Christians when they came into a new town.

Hospitality is important for the church to consider today.  Hospitality is wide in its application.  Hospitality today should involve:

  • welcoming guests at worship services
  • having people into your home
  • hosting a church gathering
  • preparing food for the sick or bereaved
  • inviting a neighbor over for a bbq
  • sitting with a homebound person
  • taking a new couple to church out to eat

The list could be endless.  But hospitality should not be equated with entertaining.  Entertaining is about pleasure and mutual enjoyment.  Entertaining focuses on the event, and typically involves time with close friends and family.  Hospitality is about the other person.  It is about offering love to others without the expectation of a reward or mutual benefit.

We should take this important Christian duty seriously.  It is a great way to model the love of Christ to others.  it is my belief that hospitality is going to be an important church growth tool over the next 50 years.  Let’s be hospitable.

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Feb 21

What Am I Known for Loving?

purchased / copyrighted photo

Jesus said we should be known for our love for one another.¹  The term love involves our affections, loyalty, and passions.  Jesus said that “whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life.”²

When you put these two statements of Jesus together you are left with the powerful question, “What am I known for loving?

We sling the term love around in all kinds of ways today to talk about our affections and passions.  We love sports, a favorite movie, or a delicious meal.  Jesus is saying we should make sure we value the right things.  We need to make sure our love is appropriately placed.

The question of our love;  is really a question of our priorities.  What would others say you love?

Would they say you love your sports, beer, fun times, or money?  Maybe you love your job or your new truck.  What would others say you love?

Or would they say you love the Lord’s church?  Do they see your love of family and others?  Would they say you love the Word of God?

Other people know our passions.  Jesus says we should be known for loving one another.  He says we should not love this life, but rather hate all of its entrapments.

What are you known for loving?

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¹ John 13:34-35

² John 12:25

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Feb 15

God and Patterns

God likes patterns and repetition. 

I have started thinking about this again since teaching the book of Joshua this quarter.  The children of Israel go through a similar intentional pattern as their forefathers did when they left Egypt.

They renew the covenant, cross the Jordan river on dry ground, circumcise the men, and God speaks to Joshua in a like manner as the burning bush experience.  Just like God had honored and established Moses as the leader, so he does the same for Joshua.  A part of the pattern is to connect the new generation to their important story and history.  It was also to encourage them to act differently than their forefathers did in being faithless and disobedient.

The New Testament is filled with patterns and allusions to past stories.  For example, the Lord’s Supper is rooted in the Passover meal of Israel, Jesus’ instituting it before his death, and early Christians celebrating it.  We continue this great legacy and pattern every Sunday.  Jesus and Paul describe the pattern of Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection as being reenacted in our baptism and spiritual lives.  Christians are called to die to themselves and rise to walk in the newness of Christ.  This is all possible because of the actual death and resurrection of Jesus.

There is a real sense where the old law is a pattern and analogy for the new covenant.  The garden of Eden and the Temple of Israel serve as a foreshadow of heaven.  The human body and the union of marriage is a patten for the church.  On and on we could go.  Look for these as you study Scripture.

God does all of these, it seems, to help us understand and to promote our faithfulness.  We are just continuing the chain by further adding links in the ancient story and patterns.  We also are better able to understand future spiritual things by understanding these physical patterns and parallels.  

“Now these things took place as examples for us, that we might not desire evil as they did.”(1 Corinthians 10:6)

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