Archive for August, 2011

Jesus Is Our Role Model

Posted: August 31, 2011 by Ricky Keeler in NFL

Over the past few days, the hot story in the NFL has been that the comeback story of Michael Vick has another chapter in it. On Monday, Vick was given a six year, $100 million deal by the Philadelphia Eagles.  He now has a home for the next couple of years and after his MVP season and his off-the field actions against dogfighting, we at Jesus N Sports wish Michael Vick the best of luck in his NFL career. Also, the book he is publishing Finally Free is not available in bookstores yet, but we will let you know when it is.

Yesterday, I was reading a column by Sports Illustrated’s Peter King on SI.com and it was talking about Vick going back to his alma mater Virginia Tech. His name was brought up by another former Hokie QB Tyrod Taylor. Taylor was drafted by the Ravens in April and it appears he will backup Joe Flacco for the 2011 season. Vick worked out in Virginia Beach with Taylor over the summer and Taylor told him that he idolizes Vick and wants to learn from him.

This is what Vick replied back: “Don’t idolize me,” Vick told Taylor.”Follow me, watch me, but brand yourself, Tyrod.”: http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2011/writers/peter_king/08/30/mailbag/index.html#ixzz1WdwOfFn4

I applaud Michael Vick for telling him that because that is something he would not have said about five years ago. I think Taylor had a bad word choice there because when we are Christians, we should not have any idols. Instead, we should look to people to help us on our walk with Christ.

Vick is doing the right thing by sharing his skills with Taylor and he is telling him to be a light for other people and make his own brand. Jesus tells us that during the Sermon on the Mount “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house.  In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 5:14-16)

Today, I exhort you to not look to someone else as your “idol”. You can have a role model, but the Lord told Moses on Mount Sinai that we should not worship any other gods but Him. If you are in that situation, do what Vick

God Only Has The Perfect Rating

Posted: August 30, 2011 by Ricky Keeler in NFL

One of the most anticipated days on the video game calendar is the release of the popular Madden video game. Today, Madden NFL 12 was released to the public. This is my favorite game because it allows you to play as your favorite team and the game has become more realistic over the past few years. The most controversial topic that is discussed in this game is the player rating system.

Now, with Twitter being a widespread social media where players can communicate with fans, the players have been more upset about their rating. The ratings are determined by numerous categories whether it be a players’ speed, athleticism, throwing accuracy, and hitting ability among many others. Just recently, Madden NFL did what was called Club 100. This allowed the fans to vote on who should get a perfect 100 in a specific category.

We know that in God’s eyes, no one has achieved that perfect 100 rating. Despite all the good works that you can possibly do, not one person on Earth can achieve the holiness that our Lord in Heaven has. Paul tells us in his epistle to the Romans about how nobody can obtain the glory of the Almighty: “This righteousness is given through faith inJesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference between Jew and Gentile, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. (Romans 3:22-23).

This verse shows us that no matter how great people think you are, you only need to have faith in God’s Son, Jesus Christ in order to be saved. Last night, I was watching an interview that was done with the creators of Madden and they were talking about how the gap between veteran and rookies, in terms of ratings, is vast this season. That is not how the Lord sees it. You can be a Christian for 30 years or a Christian for 1 year, but God loves us all the same!

Today, I exhort you to just keep looking to the Almighty God because He is Holy! Think about what the apostle Peter said and look to the grace of God as the only way that we can be right with Him. “Therefore, preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy” (1 Peter 1:13-16).

God wants us to be His children and in order to that, we cannot worry about how great people think we are because no matter what we say and do, we need to do things that bring God the glory!

Without God, We Are Dead After One Sin

Posted: August 29, 2011 by Ricky Keeler in College Football

On Thursday night, the college football season will finally get underway. We can stop talking about schools on probation, scandals, eligibility, bar fights, and just get right to the action on the field. The number one team is the Oklahoma Sooners led on offense by Heisman candidate Landry Jones at quarterback. The defending champion Auburn Tigers have to find a way to replace Cam Newton as the SEC tries to win his 6th straight national championship as a conference!

The action begins Thursday on ESPN when UNLV takes on Wisconsin. This marks the debut of QB Russell Wilson as a Badger. Wilson transferred from NC State and he could the missing piece that leads this physical Big Ten team to at least a trip to the Rose Bowl in January.

The one thing for me that makes College Football compelling is the BCS system. Yes, the BCS is flawed and there should be a playoff in my opinion. However, it makes every single game matter and just one loss has the potential to absolutely ruin your chances of winning the title.

Before Jesus came into the world, one sin without Him would lead us to eternal judgment and wrath from our Father. We can’t just say that we had a good season, because one sin ruins all the righteous things we have done for God. Jesus tells that to His disciples in the Gospel: “Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who commits sin is a slave to sin” (John 8:34).

It just makes us want to say Thank You Jesus for calling me to be one of your children. With a new season leads into new expectations as well. However, when we become children of God, we become a new creation with our old life no longer in the picture. Paul told that to the people in Corinth who had to put their sinful party lifestyle behind them. “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come” (2 Corinthians 5:17).

Today, I exhort you to think about that when we feel like we have lost, Jesus picks us back up and that we are all winners once we are born again like Nicodemus was (John 3). The Lord saves us from all our iniquities and we need to realize that if we go to him and confess our sins, He is faithful and will forgive us of all our transgressions.

Bad Company Corrupts Good Character

Posted: August 26, 2011 by Ricky Keeler in College Football

(Photo Credit: Michael DeMocker/The Times-Picayune)

The college football offseason has continued to be a mess and the mess has spread down to Baton Rouge, Louisiana. The number four LSU Tigers were preparing for their primetime next Saturday against the number three Oregon Ducks. Now, they will probably have to play the game without senior quarterback Jordan Jefferson.

Today, Jefferson and his teammate, LB Joshua Johns, turned themselves into Baton Rouge Police. This morning, the police issued a warrant for their arrests on a second-degree felony battery charge. This stems from a bar incident last week where it is alleged that several LSU players beat four victims who are now hospitalized and that it was Jefferson who is alleged to have kicked a man in the face. Head Coach Les Miles has suspended the players indefinitely, so QB Jarrett Lee will get the start in Cowboys’ Stadium next week.

This incident helps us teach about what happens to our character when we are around bad people. Our parents and friends have probably warned us about being “guilty by association.” This incident could apply here in the case of these four players, being out late at night at a bar and not realizing what can become of their actions. Paul met a people in Corinth that were not concerned about their actions at the time. Our friends might not accept our following of Christ because it makes us different people from what we once were.

There were even people in Corinth who believed that the resurrection did NOT exist! We know that is false, but the people wanted to be happy just by partying. The apostle Paul tells them “Do not be misled: “Bad company corrupts good character” (1 Corinthians 15:33).

Today, I exhort you to keep your faith in God even though sometimes your friends might question your judgment. They may tell you that it is just not the same anymore. Jesus knows what you are going through. In the Gospel of John, Jesus tells His disciples “If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first” (John 15:18). When we are saved, we are changed in ways we can never imagine, and if our friends cannot accept that, we can always talk to our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ.

“BELIEVE”

Posted: August 25, 2011 by John D. Hayden in College Football

A.J. Steward (Photo: The Shriver)

“BELIEVE”

Believe is the theme and motto of the Kansas University Football team this year. Believe is a powerful tool that will motivate a team to win, that last year had a 3-9 record and this year has a real tough schedule. I believe they will win plenty of games this year and maybe even the Big 12. To believe means to believe in the team and to hold yourself accountable as a team and as an individual and to be a better player so that the team will be successful.

One of the players has really lived this word out in his personal life and on the field. I had the opportunity to visit with A.J. Steward, Senior Tight End from St Louis, MO on Tuesday night. We spent about 45 minutes visiting not just about the upcoming season but more importantly his spiritual journey and spiritual walk. I really enjoyed our visit Tuesday night and just got a glimpse of the young man. I want to share his story with all who read this and both A.J. and I hope this will encourage you in your spiritual walk with Christ. First of all, A.J. is a young man who I want my son to grow to be like and would love for A.J to mentor him. After getting off the phone with him, I watched the Kansas Training camp part 2 video on KUsports.com and I saw A.J. in action, not just as a football player but as a leader, as a friend, as a funny guy and as someone who is very passionate about Christ.

A.J. grew up in St Louis,MO and while growing up he had to choose to cheer for the Missouri Tigers of the Fighting Illinois, and he chose Missouri until like A.J. said, he came to his senses. This is A.J.’s last year at Kansas as he is a Physical Education Major and will be student teaching next semester. A.J. told me that he doesn’t really have a favorite class; they are all just the same since this is his last semester taking classes. He told me he has always wanted the opportunity to make it to the NFL but will be fine if he never makes it. He has other aspirations in life that are more important to him than being the next NFL star. He works hard every practice but more importantly works hard being a disciple of Jesus. He would like to teach and coach football or basketball at the High School Level. I was very impressed when he said one of his aspirations in life was to mentor younger guys in urban communities to show them there are opportunities out there and the sky is the limit.

A.J. also said after coaching and teaching he would like to be like Shaq and do different things like getting into sports broadcasting or becoming a sports chaplain. His main aspiration is to be the best disciple he can be for Christ. Before every game he spends time in prayer alone asking God to look over him during the game. A.J. after every practice leads the team in prayer to thank God for the practice and for what they accomplished that day. Around 95% of the team prays before every game. That is very impressive to me that this football team knows how to start their game out right. Former players did this in the past and they passed the baton over to A.J. to assume this role on the team. He inspires the team by being voted the funniest player on the team. He wants to make everyone laugh and hates seeing people down. So he spends time making the team laugh, cracking up jokes, running into camera guys, and just being himself. One of the big reasons he wants to put a smile on his team’s face is to get the guys to be loose and not so tight.

Our spiritual journey in life is a great story to tell others about. A.J.’s story is so inspiring about being a disciple of Jesus.  He grew up in a single parent home where his mother worked hard to take care of her family and came home tired from working. Because of her being tired and work schedule they didn’t have much time to go to church. He considered himself a Christian and was raised as one. They prayed together and had the motto of believe in their heart but never had any consistency. They study the bible together as a family and tried to live daily by the word. The spiritual influences in his life growing up were his grandparents who installed him his faith along side with his mother. His grandparents attended church and his grandpa was a deacon and his grandma worked for the church. He remembers that him and his brother in the summers would go and help his grandma fold the church bulletins and he remembers going to vacation bible class. His family were believers but not consistent and not disciples.

Three years ago, a young upper class white guy from Texas, Willie O’Quinn took this black guy from the urban community of St Louis under his wings as A.J. puts it. They spent time studying the word together and going to church for about 2 years straight. In this past April, A.J. was baptized into Christ and is heavily involved in his campus ministry group at the Lawrence Church of Christ, where Willie is now the campus minister. His mother is a big motivator in his life, because she started going back to church about 3 years ago and that really has motivated him spiritually by seeing her dive into her faith. He gives props to Willie for mentoring him and helping him to be the disciple of Christ that he is today.

One other guy who really has helped him since he has been at KU is the former NBA player and Jayhawk basketball player, Wayne Simien. A.J. really looks up to Wayne, as a black athlete that knew what his calling was to mentor to younger guys and bring them into the word of God. Wayne gave up professional basketball to go into full time ministry. A.J. gives all the glory to God for sending these two men to be part of his spiritual journey and his life. He looks up to them and respects them for sharing their faith with him and helping him grow to be a better young man. A.J. said he was being lazy in his spiritual walk and Willie and Wayne both called him out on it. He also told me that Dan Coke and Wayne Simien are the sport chaplains for KU and hold bible talks and bible studies with the team and they help him stay spiritually strong.  Before every game there is a pre-game chapel that Dan or Wayne spends time giving a 10-15 minute lesson about the bible and the field and how to be the young man of God on the playing field. Around 15-20 guys show up for the chapel and Coach Gill comes often. I asked him is he had to ever chose between faith and sports growing up or even today. A.J. said that church is good but it doesn’t define your faith. He has a devotional time weekly and spends time daily in prayer and in the word.

It seems to me that it would be hard to live for Christ and be an athlete. A.J. said there are times when things get in the way and we all make mistakes but he tries to be the leader because he wants to be the best example he can be. The rest of the KU Football team for the most part knows that he is a disciple of Christ. A.J. doesn’t drink and is heart is in the right place. The team knows he is just a goofy good guy and they see him leading prayers and at chapel and they see him at everything. He tries to be the best disciple of God by staying consistent and works on stay strong every day. When he makes a bad play, he gets on the sideline and spends time in prayer and also when he has a bad game, he goes home and spends time in the word and in prayer.

Temptation is all around for college athletes and as A.J. put it when you have teammates that are your family and are not in the right place and end up doing wrong and tempts you to go with them. A.J. takes the time to think about the example that he is setting and repents when he knows he sinned. He wants to step up and be accountable for his actions. There are those on the team that helps him do this, one in particular is Steven Johnson. Steven is also a spiritual leader on the team and has helped A.J. keep on the right track. We need this in our lives, others who can help us be accountable for our actions and help us grow spiritually.

There is one scripture that has really stood out to A.J. in his life because it really has opened his eyes about the every day things we go through in life. That passage is 1 Corinthians 9:24-27: “Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air. But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified. This passage has been very powerful in A.J.’s life and has made a difference in his life. So he puts this passage in his walk and runs for the prize and spiritually trains himself every day to be that disciple that God wants him to be.

A.J. also gave some advice to my 10 year old son who is playing tackle football for the first time in his life. A.J. told me to tell him that he was the backup to Kerry Meier and had limited playing time when he first got to KU. So he said that my son need to stay strong, be a good teammate, help the team and be prepared when your name is called and the time comes for you to step up to the line. You can’t control others but you can control yourself and pray. A.J. can mentor my son any day.

So how will the Kansas Jayhawks do this season in football? According to A.J., they will be a lot better and will have a lot of success. They have a lot of young guys on the team and they are clicking as a team and the world will be surprised what they will do this year together because they BELIEVE!

After finishing our conversation I asked if he had any comments he would like to make before I close. A.J. said that he was humbled by the opportunity to share with others about his faith.

“It means a lot to me that I can share with you and others my faith and I hope this can help others out a lot and encourage them in their walk with Christ.”~ A.J.

A.J. mentioned that Christian athletes don’t always get the opportunity to share their spiritual journey with others. With his campus ministry group this year, A.J. will be doing this be leading a Lifegroup (small bible study group) this year. His campus ministry group has a goal of reaching out to 21 students and bringing them to Christ this year. What an awesome goal to have.

“This interview has motivated me to be humble because others look up to me and it motivates me to let others know that I’m a Christian, a disciple of Jesus.” ~ A.J.

I truly appreciate the opportunity to visit with A.J. Steward, TE of the Kansas Jayhawks who by just listening to him inspired me to be a better spiritual leader. Thanks A.J. for your story, for your faith, for your passion for God, your passion for sports and passion to mentor  young men in this world. I know you are someone I would want my son to look up to. You wear Jesus on your heart and on the field. Keep believing because I believe in you. What a great lesson we can take from this young man’s life about Jesus and being his disciple is more important than anything else in life, even sports.

Stand Up Even If You Are The Only One

Posted: August 25, 2011 by Ricky Keeler in Tennis

Mardy Fish is the lone American male top 10 in the world of tennis. He is standing up for America at the US Open and we should stand up for Christ (Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)

On Monday, the final Grand Slam of the tennis season will commence in Flushing, Queens. Being a New Yorker, it is my favorite event because of the night drama that the tennis brings and the atmosphere when a local American is in the hunt. We all know that American tennis is not what it once was in the days of Sampras, Agassi, Connors, McEnroe and many others. However, there is only one American in the top ten men and it is not Andy Roddick.

This year, the American tennis fan will put their hope into veteran Mardy Fish. Fish is the eight seed for the tournament that will have its draw today. Two years ago, he was an afterthought in the tennis world struggling through a rash of injuries and a lack of fitness. Now, he is competing with the top players in the world at the age of 29, which is old in the tennis world. He had a great US Open series and I will make the bold prediction that he is going to win the whole tournament!

Sometimes, as Christians, it is tough to be the only one in our circle of friends that look to Christ as our Lord and Savior. It reminds me of the story of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. They were in captivity by the Babylonians and King Nebuchadnezzar. In Daniel 3, Nebuchadnezzar tells the people that they need to bow down and worship his idol of gold when they hear the music or be thrown in the fiery furnace.

However, the three men who were high in Nebuchadnezzar’s circle chose not to obey his order. “If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to deliver us from it, and he will deliver us from Your Majesty’s hand. But even if he does not, we want you to know, Your Majesty, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up” (Daniel 3:17-18).

Even when he threw the three men into the furnace that was seven times hotter, God still delivered them because they stood their ground for the Almighty! The Lord was even with them in the furnace, which made the king decree that everybody should obey the God of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego.

Today, I exhort you to keep standing right for God even though it might not be the most popular thing in this world. As Christians, we are just foreigners here until we go home to our Father in heaven. It is all about doing what is right for him. American tennis will be back to the top soon, but until then, Fish is the model from what hard work and dedication can bring to an athlete.

Paul wrote to the people at Colossus: “Knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ” (Colossians 3:24). The three men in the furnace knew that even if they died in there, they would go to Heaven for honoring the Lord their God. If we honor the Lord with our hard work, even if others do not agree, the Lord will give us the ultimate reward in heaven!

God’s Grace Is Sufficient

Posted: August 23, 2011 by Ricky Keeler in NFL

(Photo Credit: Doug Benc/Getty Images North America)

As NFL training camps begin to wind down, the talk of holdouts has faded away for every player in the NFL but one prominent running back. Chris Johnson of the Tennessee Titans (CJ2K) has been a guy who has lit up the backfield for the last couple of seasons. In his career, he has run for almost 5,000 yards and 34 TD’s in just four seasons.

However, Johnson has not reported to training camp for new head coach Mike Munchak. He feels that his rookie contract is less money than he deserves. Last year, he re-structured his deal to get $1 million for 2010, but he is not signed for the long-term. He saw that Larry Fitzgerald got big money from the Cardinals last weekend. Now, he feels he deserves not only top running back money, but top playmaker money!

DeAngelo Williams got $21 million guaranteed by the Carolina Panthers, so why should Chris Johnson not get more money than him? However, this could mean a lost year for Tennessee if Johnson gets hurt due to the lack of OTA’s or practice reps. This scenario sounds like the same thing that happened to Jets’ CB Darelle Revis when he held out last year.

When we have the Lord, we don’t need $30 million guaranteed in his lifetime. God’s grace should be and is enough for us! This shows us that we should not worry about how much money that we make because the Lord will give us whatever we need to succeed. Paul wrote about grace to the people in Corinth. He told them But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me” (2 Corinthians 12:9).

It makes you want to praise God knowing that you don’t need good works or $30 million guaranteed to make your way into heaven. The only thing that guarantees you into the Kingdom of Heaven is His grace through faith in our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. We need to boast that we have Jesus Christ in our lives and we should want to share with people the Gospel of Jesus Christ so that they can have the power of Christ rest upon them as well.