Archive for July, 2011

An Athlete with a Sense of Privilege

Posted: July 30, 2011 by Ricky Keeler in College Football

Kirk Cousins knows that he is privileged to be in the position he is at MSU. We should be privileged that the Lord gives us a chance to succeed! (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)

The view that is seen of most athletes by society today is that they have a sense of entitlement that turns them off from the general public. Perhaps that is the case on the professional ranks with the lucrative contracts that some of these players get. Lately, it has stemmed to the college ranks as people think that amateur athletes should be paid for their performance and that, for example, a star quarterback feels that he is entitled to every benefit because he is the head guy on campus.

Thanks to a link from friends at DieHardSport.com, I watched a speech that was given by Kirk Cousins, who is a senior and the starting quarterback at Michigan State. Last year, Cousins led the Spartans to a 11-2 season and a share of the Big Ten regular season title. He gave a speech at the Big Ten Luncheon in Chicago, Illinois on Friday. Cousins is a player who does not get the hype of a Denard Robinson at Michigan , but he has a ton of talent (2,825 yards and 20 touchdowns in 2010). However, the most important quality for this article is Cousins producing on and off the field being All-Big Ten in academics over the past three seasons.

In the speech, Cousins talked about what Jesus told His disciples in the book of Luke. He told them that” Everyone to whom much was given, of him much will be required, and from him to whom they entrusted much, they will demand the more.”(Luke 12:48)

This verse stands out to me because God has given us gifts in or life and we have to use those gifts in order to bring glory to His name. Cousins hit the nail on the head when he said that being a starting quarterback in the Big Ten is a privilege and not a right. We need to remain humble that God is the source of all that we do and without the Lord in our life, we would suffer eternal punishment for the sins that we commit.

Today, I exhort you in whatever you say and do, you do it not for yourself, but do it to give God the glory that He deserves. Keep this in mind. Even with all the talents God has given us, we need to remember whose will put us in the fortunate situations we get into. “You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you.”(John 15:16) If you don’t know what talent the Lord has given you, pray to Him that He may show you what he has in store for you to serve Him.

Be an Inspiration

Posted: July 30, 2011 by John D. Hayden in MLB

I have always been a big Atlanta Braves fan and grew up watching them play. My dream was to one day go to watch them play in Atlanta and a few years ago that dream came true. My wife bought me tickets for Father’s day one year and I was three rows from the dugout. The stadium, the game, and the Braves was everything I dreamed about. Could you imagine having the opportunity to sing the National Anthem at Turner Field?

Tonight, Lily Anderson got that opportunity and inspired those in the stands, the Braves and the world. After singing the National Anthem, according to Braves reliever Peter Moylan describes “was the longest standing ovation he has witnessed”. Now Lily isn’t a famous singer but is a 10 year old girl who was diagnosed with stage 4 neuroblastoma in 2009 and has gone through difficult rounds of chemotherapy and surgery. She was singing the anthem as part of “Rally Night, an evening of fundraising and awareness to benefit Rally Foundation for Childhood Cancer Research which Brian McCann hosted. After watching the video of her singing, I notice two things about her: her smile and the gleam in her eyes. Lily has inspired a lot of people, just check out her Facebook page, not only with her song Thursday night, but with her entire fight with cancer.

If Lily can inspire so many people, look at what you can do. Be an inspiration to someone and make a difference in someone’s life. The word inspire is derived from Latin words meaning “to breathe into.” To inspire means to affect, to stimulate to action, to motivate, to touch and give hope to. Lily did all of these on one night standing on Turner Field singing with her heart our National Anthem. Jesus calls us to do the same. In Matthew 5:13-15 we are called to be the “Light of the word and the Salt of the earth.” To Shine our lights and Flavor the world is what this life is really all about. Paul wrote to the Thessalonian Church in 1 Thess. 5:11, “Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.” Are we encouraging and building one another up? Are we making a difference in people’s lives by giving them hope and inspiring them to live for Jesus?

You can learn more about Lily and her fight against cancer at PrayforLilyAnderson.com and on her Facebook page. She will inspire you like she has inspired me to write this article. Lily made a difference in my life by showing me that no matter what you are going through, keep smiling.

Be a world changer, make a difference, and inspire the world to be more like Jesus. Thanks Lily for inspiring me to be a better person and to keep smiling. Please take some time to pray for Lily and other children and their fight against cancer. Donate some money if you can to this great cause. Share Lily’s story with others in your life. These are just some ways you can Be an Inspiration.

Your Life is Precious

Posted: July 29, 2011 by John D. Hayden in Baseball

Former Yankees pitcher Hideki Irabu found dead at 42. His death is being investigated as a suicide according to ESPN. Many of us don’t really know who Irabu is and about his life. Hideki joined the Yankees 14 years ago and was destined to become a star for America’s marquee franchise. He was viewed as the Japanese version of Nolan Ryan when he arrived in America in 1997, with a 98 mph fastball and excelled as a strikeout king. He had an impressive start to his career that was very brief and was a disappointment to the Yankees and himself during three seasons wearing the pen stripes.

Irabu finished 34-35 with a 5.15 ERA in his tenure with the Yankees, two years in Montreal and a final season in the Texas bullpen in 2002. In recent years Hideki pitched in an American Independent league and signed with a Japanese team while living with family in California. While his professional career was spiraling out of control, his personal life was too. Neighbors say that Irabu in the past few months was despondent and down because of his recent split with his wife. Although his career and life spiraled, Irabu also left a lasting legacy. Several big stars, from Ichiro Suzuki to Hideki Matsui, followed Irabu from Japan to the United States.

Hideki wasn’t the only athlete in the news this week who apparently took their own life. Olympic silver medalist Jeret “Speedy” Peterson was found dead in a remote canyon in Utah in what police are calling a suicide. Jeret on Feb. 25, 2010 took home the silver medalist in the Winter Olympics. Jeret was known as one of the world’s most risk taking and innovative freestyle skier. He wore his heart on his sleeve and was a gambler at heart. US Ski Team CEO Bill Marolt called Tuesday “a sad day in our sport.” “Jeret `Speedy’ Peterson was a great champion who will be missed and remembered as a positive, innovative force on not only his sport of freestyle aerials, but on the entire U.S. Freestyle Ski Team family and everyone he touched,” Marolt said. Peterson’s message to almost anyone he would talk to was to take chances, and to never settle for ordinary. Tuesday, Jeret hung up his skies and called 911 before shooting himself. I’m praying for both of these men’s families.

Life is so fragile. The lives of both of these men came to a tragic ending. Suicide is so real and and takes the lives of nearly 30,000 Americans a year. Suicide is the 11th leading cause of death in the U.S. (homicide is 15th). (CDC) Suicide is the 3rd leading cause of death for 15- to 24-year-old Americans. (CDC) It is estimated that there are at least 4.5 million survivors in this country. (AAS) An average of one person dies by suicide every 16.2 minutes. (CDC, AAS) Just looking at some of these stats shows us that there needs to be an awareness about Suicide. My own cousin took his own life by riding his bike to the cemetery and pulling the trigger.
There is someone who loves you so much and cares a lot about you. As stated in the last blog, God knows you and he knows your heart. God proved his love to you when he GAVE his only son to die in the cross for you. Just read John 3:16 and put your name in the blank space: “For God so loved _______ that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”
Jesus invites us to come to him. He says in Matthew 11:28, “Come to me all who are weary and heavy laden and I will give you rest.” Jesus is there for you when you feel like life is worth living. I have been there myself when I felt like who would care if I wasn’t here anymore but I know that life is so much worth living and I worship a God who cares so much about me. He was even willing to send his son to die on the cross for you and me.
Life is so fragile and you mean a lot to the creator of the universe and you mean a lot to me. We can learn a lot from the lives of Jeret and Hideki. They teach that athletes also suffer from depression and low self-esteem. Jesus even told his disciple that not to worry about tomorrow cause today has enough troubles of it’s own. Jesus walked and lived on this earth and he knows the pain we go through and the struggles we face. If you ever feel like your life isn’t worth living, please talk to someone or let us know.
Life is so precious and life as Bob McPhee said, “Could be worse.” Accept Jesus invitation and go to the one who loves you so much.

Picking Up Your Cross

Posted: July 28, 2011 by Ricky Keeler in NFL

As Tim Tebow picks up pads for his teammates, we should pick up our cross and follow Jesus! (John Leyba, The Denver Post)

By Sunday, all 32 NFL teams will be in camp and getting ready for the start of the 2011 football season. With the new CBA’s, Two-A-Days are no longer in effect, so head coaches will have to find a way to get the most out of the one physical practice and use the walkthrough to teach new free agents and rookies the system. One of the aspects I want to focus on about training camp is the rookies.

This is their first experience working out with NFL veterans with the exception of the player ran workouts, such as what Drew Brees did with the New Orleans Saints. We have all heard of something called rookie hazing where the veterans make the rookies sing their college fight songs or carry the veterans’ pads off of the practice field. It is all part of the rookie initiation process.

We have something similar to that in the Christian faith. It is called Baptism. When we are baptized with water, we become a part of God’s community of believers similar to a rookie being a part of a NFL organization. Paul tells the church in Corinth that no matter where we come from or what nationality we are, once we are baptized, we all become part of God’s church.

“For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and all were made to drink of one Spirit.” (1 Corinthians 12:13)

One story I remember from training camp last year was when Dallas Cowboys’ wide receiver Dez Bryant refused to carry Roy Williams’ pads off the field. Bryant told media after the incident over a year ago “”I feel like I was drafted to play football, not carry another player’s pads.”

When you are a Christian, you can’t take the same attitude that Bryant had.  Jesus tells his disciples that we can’t be afraid to face persecution. It is all a part of being a disciple in Christ.

And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. (Luke 9:23)”

Today, I exhort you to not worry about yourself and your pride. Whether you have to pick up pads for someone else or do something that is right that we just don’t want to do, just know that if it is what our Lord wants us to do, we should listen to His will. I pray that you decide to pick up your cross and follow Him if you don’t already.

God Knows You

Posted: July 28, 2011 by John D. Hayden in NFL

John Beck (Photo: realredskins.com)

It was an embarrassing moment for John Beck on Monday as he showed up to the Redskins Park to visit with offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan. He wasn’t recognized or identified as the Quarterback and wasn’t allowed to enter the building. It wasn’t just because the players couldn’t report till Tuesday, it was because the security guard had no idea who he was. Mike Jones from the Washington Post wrote: “He was turned away at the security gate by a guard who didn’t know who he was. Beck said of not being recognized, “I’m OK with that, I haven’t done anything yet.”

We know names of Quarterbacks like Donovan McNabb, Eli Manning, Peyton Manning, Joe Namath, Tom Brady, Drew Brees and if we saw them on the street we would recognize them and know them right away. So if I was in the shoes of the security guard that day, I would probably do the same. I’m for sure I wouldn’t recognize  John Beck if he was in my neighborhood or delivering me pizza. According to the head coach of the Redskins, Mike Shanahan, is adamant that John can be the Redskins starting quarterback this season. I didn’t even know who he was until I read a story about him. I thought he was a guy that I went to college with back in the 80’s. Here is some information about him: John was drafted in the second round in 2007 by the Dolphins. In two years with them, he started just four games and couldn’t beat out Pennington or Henne for playing time. In 2009, he spent time wearing a Ravens uniform but never got on the field. So now hopefully the security guard and the rest of the world will recognize and know John Beck.

I know someone who knows John Beck more than Mike Shanahan, more than the media, more than the sports world and more than you and me. That someone is God. God knows you and he recognizes you. David in Psalm 139:14-16, writes:

14 I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.[a] Wonderful are your works;
   my soul knows it very well.
15 My frame was not hidden from you,when I was being made in secret,
   intricately woven in the depths of the earth.
16Your eyes saw my unformed substance;in your book were written, every one of them,
   the days that were formed for me,
   when as yet there was none of them.

God knows our soul. God knows our intentions, motivations, anxieties, deepest hurts and most noble ambitions. God made you just right, because as the Psalmist writes you were fearfully and wonderfully made. The beginning of this Psalm, David writes this about God knowing us.

1O LORD, you have searched me and known me! 2You know when I sit down and when I rise up;
   you discern my thoughts from afar.
3You search out my path and my lying down
   and are acquainted with all my ways.
4Even before a word is on my tongue,
   behold, O LORD, you know it altogether.
5You hem me in, behind and before,
   and lay your hand upon me.
6 Such knowledge is too wonderful for me;
   it is high; I cannot attain it.

Even Bob Dylan wrote a song entitled, “God Knows.”

God knows you ain’t pretty.God knows it’s true. God knows there ain’t anybody, Ever gonna take the place of you

God knows it’s a struggle
God knows it’s a crime
God knows there’s gonna be no more water
But fire next time

God don’t call it treason
God don’t call it wrong
It was supposed to last a season
But it’s been so strong for so long

God knows it’s fragile
God knows everything
God knows it could snap apart right now
Just like putting scissors to a string

God knows it’s terrifying
God sees it all unfold
There’s a million reasons for you to be crying
You been so bold and so cold

God knows that when you see it
God knows you’ve got to weep
God knows the secrets of your heart
He’ll tell them to you when you’re asleep

God knows there’s a river
God knows how to make it flow
God knows you ain’t gonna be taking
Nothing with you when you go

God knows there’s a purpose
God knows there’s a chance
God knows you can rise above the darkest hour
Of any circumstance

God knows there’s a heaven
God knows it’s out of sight
God knows we can get all the way from here to there
Even if we’ve got to walk a million miles by candlelight

Copyright © 1990 by Special Rider Music

God Knows You. The next time you ever fell like no one knows you or recognizes you or you fell like you are a nobody, remember God knows you and made you a Somebody just like John Beck.

God Wants Us to Forgive Others

Posted: July 27, 2011 by Ricky Keeler in MLB

Jerry Meals made a bad call last night, but the Lord wants us to make the good call and forgive others. (Scott Cunningham/Getty Images)


The best story in Major League Baseball has to be the Pittsburgh Pirates. After seventeen straight losing seasons, their young talent is blossoming under manager Clint Hurdle. They are right in the thick of things in the NL Central and are actually buyers going into the Trade Deadline on Sunday. Last night, the Pirates were robbed of getting a chance to win the baseball game against the Atlanta Braves.

In the Bottom of the 19th inning during a 3-3 game, Atlanta had 2nd and 3rd with one out with pitcher Scott Proctor at the plate. Proctor hits a ground ball to 3B Pedro Alvarez who makes the throw home that clearly beats Julio Lugo. Catcher Michael McKenry appears to apply the tag, but home plate umpire Jerry Meals calls him safe giving the Braves the victory. Today, everyone is calling for more instant replay in baseball and naming the call the worst ever made in MLB history. There have been worse, but it ranks up in the top 10 of what I have seen.

However, followers of Christ should not hold a grudge against Jerry Meals for very long. I’m sure Clint Hurdle will not have anything nice to say to Meals tonight who will be the umpire at third base. We should take the example that Jesus gives us on the Sermon at the Mount. This message shows us that no matter what harm is done to us, we still need to show the strength to forgive others as our Father up in Heaven forgives us.

“For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses. (Matthew 6:14-15)

We have to remember that Christ died as the propitiation for our sins and that we should be angry when a brother sins, but still find it in our hearts to forgive them and show them compassion. Jesus wanted to share that with his disciples, especially the one who was going to be the rock on which he was going to build his church.

“Then Peter came up and said to him, “Lord, how often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times? Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you seven times, but seventy times seven.” (Matthew 18:21-22)

So even when a call goes against you to lose a game or somebody says harmful things to you, I exhort you to stay strong and look to Jesus on how to counter back in a way that the Lord would do. Human error is a part of baseball, but it is also a part of life and we have to understand that. That is why without the grace of our Lord and Savior and His death on the cross, we would be condemned to eternal punishment. Keep this in mind as you seek Christ and try to preach the Gospel to people that if they try to persecute you, stand firm for God and He will reward you in heaven.

Finally, we have to pray for the Meals family. They are being harrassed and two message boards have posted his address and telephone number. Nobody deserves this and we need to pray to the Lord that Meals and his family are kept under the protection of the Lord’s strong shield.

God is Our Ultimate Owner

Posted: July 26, 2011 by Ricky Keeler in NFL

Today, all of the teams in the National Football League are able to get a deal done with their free agents and also begin to talk with free agents from other teams which they can’t sign till Friday. This is going to be the craziest free agency period in the history of sports.

There will be so many signings that take place Friday morning that it will be tough for everyone to keep track. I got caught up in the excitement Monday night hearing about all the undrafted free agents agreeing to join with teams to go to training camps later this week. Plus, the rookies that were drafted will now be slotted with the rookie wage scale rather than top picks getting $50 million in guaranteed money without playing a down.

However, in all the talks about players changing teams, it is always good to think and realize that God will never allow us to change teams once we are on his team. The best part is we don’t have to worry about completing any incentives in our deal because the Lord ultimately saves us through his grace if we accept Jesus Christ as our Savior. Take a look at one of the most iconic verses in the Bible in which Paul writes to the church at Ephesus:

“For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.” (Ephesians 2:8-9)

This year, under this new collective bargaining agreement, players can become free agent after four years of service with one team. When God is our owner, we “dwellin the house of the LORD forever. (Psalm 23:10)”. Just knowing that should make you want to repent of your sins and turn to Christ Jesus! Once God puts us in His hand or on His team, He will never let us go.

Today, I exhort you to look to the true owner and that is Jesus Christ. He is preparing a place in Heaven for every single one of his believers who confess that He is Lord. In the next few days, owners will be handing out money to players left and right. However, Paul tells the Corinthians that God paid a price that is the greatest sacrifice of all. “You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.” (1 Corinthians 6:20)

As the players try to live up to the contracts they get this year, we should try to be an example in everything we do for our owner who died on the cross so that we can be redeemed from sin and death. Keep glorifying God in everything that you do and even in success; always remember that the Lord loves you in both the good times and the bad. Finally, keep in mind that whenever you feel distress about being on His team, go to the Lord for support and pray for the Holy Spirit to give you the strength to openly profess your faith and not feel ashamed about being on the Lord’s team.