Archive for May, 2012

Mother’s Day

Posted: May 12, 2012 by John D. Hayden in NBA, Sports Devotionals

I have been watching the NBA playoffs this year mostly because my favorite teams: The Thunder and the Celtics are still in it. Something I have noticed lately is how many times the camera focuses on a players mother and then the commentators make a comment about her. I have seen Kevin Durant’s mom on the screen several times this year smiling, clapping and at times jumping up and down and cheering for her son.
I even had the opportunity to visit with a mother who’ son plays basketball for the Jayhawks. Even during the Championship game this year, the camera focused on her face for a quick second. It is great to have the support of your mom while you pursue your dreams. It is great to watch these Mom’s on the camera cheering and even at times crying for their sons.

God tells us in Ephesians 6:1-3:

“Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. “Honor your father and mother”—which is the first commandment with a promise— “so that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth.”

Growing up I always dreamed about being the next John Elway and John Stockton. My Grandpa told me that I had a great arm and should play quarterback. I played neighborhood football and even flag football but when it was time to play tackle my dream was crushed. My mom wouldn’t let me play because she was afraid I would get injured and break my neck. So instead of playing football my parents bought me a moped and on the first day to drive it, I wrecked it and broke my collarbone. So basketball was my next dream to fufill but again my dream was crushed because Im not a great basketball player. I played in Junior High and my mom was at every game cheering me on even when I was on the bench.
When I got into High School, I decided to go out for track cause I thought I could be in the Olympics one day. (very funny) So I signed up to run distance and throw the Javelin. Well I never made it to the Olympics but I did get to run the 800 at the Ulysses Invitational track meet in front of hundreds of people. To be completely honest I cheated at track by not practicing like I should havs. Our coach would drop us off at in the countrt and we would need to run back to the track. Well I had a friend pick me up and drop me off a block from the track and I would get some water to wet myself down to look like I was sweating. So on the day of our invitational track meet I get to show everyone that Im not in shape at all. So we line up for our race, the gun goes off and Im in first place for awhile until I totally run out of gas and everyone passes me and I end up in last place. I keep running and get passed again by half of the runners. Everyone makes it to the finish line except for me and before I even get there they are starting up another race. I decide to just quit until I hear this voice saying, you can do it John David. That voice was my sweet mother who has always been there for me during this race called life.
I finished that race and my mom just a few months ago finished her race. This year has been really tough for me, losing my job and losing my mom. My mom is my hero, my spiritual mentor, my support and who I dearly miss. I regret not being able to see her as much as I would have like too. Tomorrow we celebrate Mother’s Day and this will be the first year I wont be able to call my mom or send her a card in the mail.
Just as Timothy had his mother and grandmother, Lois and Eunice, pass their faith to him, my mom did the same for my sister and me.
She would pray for me, she would read the bible to me, she took me to worship right after I was born and taught me about what Jesus did for me. My mom, Sandra Hayden, never had a camera focused on her, never had the tv commentators talk about her but my mom is the greatest mom that a son could ever have.
Today I want to shine the spotlight on her and let the world know how blessed I am to have her in my life. When football, basketball and track didnt work out, Tennis was my next choice and at every tennis match there was my mom cheering me on even when she didnt know the rules of the game. Every dream I has my mom supported me in it even when some of those dreams never were fulfilled. It is because of the values, principles, morals that she lived by and passed on to me is the reason Im the man who I am today.
She taught me how to love, laugh, dream, live for Jesus, be a servant, care for others, smile and make others wonder what you are up to and she taught me to be myself. I remember my Junior year of high school when I got into a fight with Greg Oxford. I pushed him because he made fun of my mom and when I turn back around he punched me in the nose and I bled everywhere. My mom was 4′ 8″ and I was teased about her in junior high and high school. This particular day my mom had to come and pick me up from school. When the principal told her the story of what happened and the reason I got into this fight, she started to cry because I stood up for her.
There are so many stories about her but I want to leave you with one. When she was in the hospital in Wichita, KS dealing with bleeding and her liver I wanted to go see her but I didnt have the money to go. I called her a few times and the last time I talked to her was when she was in the ICU because of a sweet nurse letting my mom use her phone. During our phone conversation everytime I wanted to ask how she was she ended up turning it around asking about how I was and how my family was. She knew we were struggling and cared so much about our pain and forgot about her own. She told me on the phone to be strong, trust God, love my family, tell my family she loved them and to never give up on my dreams. That was the last time I talked to her and two days later my wife shows up to work to tell me my mom died. I miss you mom so much but I know you are in Heaven cheering me on like you always did and from the crowd yelling at me, John David, you can do it and keep running the race and never give up.
So this Mother’s Day, wrap your mothers with love and show them how much you admire them and appreciate them because you never know how much longer you will have them in your life.
Happy Mother’s Day to the greatest mom who ever lived and who taught me so much. I love you
mom !!


Running The Race: A Marathon, Not A Sprint

Posted: May 11, 2012 by Ricky Keeler in Sports Devotionals

Throughout my entire life of watching sports, some of the people I have had the most respect for has been endurance runners. They put in hard work for 364 days a year in training for that one event. Then, on Marathon Day, the training all comes into fruition.

I was never a marathon runner, nor even a person who was interested in running a race. However, as I walk on the road with Jesus Christ, my Lord and Savior, I realize that it is not a sprint, but a MARATHON! Along the path of the race, the apostle Peter tells us about how there will be many trials and tribulations that come along our way. In any of the major sports, teams will face tough stretches where their teamwork will be tested, but it’s how they come out of those tests that determine whether or not they are “championship material”.

When I first came up with this very site, I looked at a verse that eventually became my mission statement. The two verses, which come from Hebrews read like this:

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,  looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.” (Hebrews 12:1-2)

This verse stood out to me because the writer is trying to tell his readers that when you follow Jesus, you have to endure the entire marathon. The first step is to run the race and accept Jesus as your Lord and Savior who was the propitiation for your sins. He finished the grueling part of the race that we could never finish!

As the runner is participating in the long race, fatigue begins to set in. In the heavenly race, we can consider fatigue to be temptation whether it is not praying every day or letting your Bible collect dust, etc. We all face these kinds of temptations and at times, we succumb to those temptations. However, Jesus wants us to drink the living water and trust in Him at all times.  Jesus told the woman at the well at Samaria to drink the living water that ultimately leads to our salvation.

“Whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again.The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” (John 4:14)

With the exception of a few gifted runners, most people run a marathon to finish the race! As Christians, we are taught to run to the finish line or in other words, until the Lord calls us home to be with Him!After you accept the walk, there is still training that we all need in order to become fully enriched into God’s Word.

Spiritual training is something we all need to do 365 days a year in order to run the race every day. It takes a lot of effort to stay on the course and sometimes we may slip up, but the goal we have to remember is receiving that heavenly reward when we come to be with the Lord. Take a look at what Paul tells the people of Corinth about the need for self-discipline:

“Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever.” (1 Corinthians 9:25, NIV)

In ancient Greece, runners used to compete for an olive wreath that would be placed around their heads. We need to keep running for that heavenly reward at the finish line rather than be distracted by the earthly rewards that are trying to be our stumbling blocks.

Just being in the competition is not enough! We can’t just say that now we are saved by the blood of Jesus that we can do whatever we want. It does not work that way. Paul told Timothy that “an athlete is not crowned unless he competes according to the rules.” (2 Timothy 2:5, ESV).

While God did save us from the curse of the Law, this does not mean we should ignore the commandments that God has placed in our hearts and minds. That is why the training becomes important during our running. While it may get discouraging that people may pass you along the way, you should keep your head up, put your trust in the Lord because He knows what is best for you!

Today, I exhort you to keep running that race. While it may seem difficult at times and the easy path might seem tempting, remember the heavenly reward that God has set before you once you finish the race. His Son ran the grueling part of the race for us when He suffered and died on the cross for us so that we can have eternal life and have a heavenly reward! I also exhort you to keep reading the Word of God! When we are equipped with the Gospel, we can withstand any test the devil throws at us just like our Savior did in the wilderness. (Matthew 4)

When I made this site, I wanted other sports fans who did not know Jesus to come run the race with me. So as I end this devotion, I wanted to take an excerpt from Paul’s letter to the Philippians that summed this up the best. I pray that you will spread this devotion to Christians and non-Christians alike and continue to press on toward the ultimate goal!

“Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 3:12-14)

The Faith In Sports Show

Posted: May 7, 2012 by Ricky Keeler in Sports Devotionals

About three weeks ago, I recorded a special episode of Kickin’ It With Keeler on the radio station I have been blessed to be a part of (What’s Brewin’ In Sports). With the platform God has given me, I wanted to do a show to answer the questions that people have been pondering ever since Tim Tebow and Jeremy Lin have become two of the most intriguing names in sports. I was joined by Bryce Johnson of Sports Spectrum and my friend, George Ippolito from to discuss some of these issues in a faith in sports roundtable!

On the link below, here are some of the topics we discuss in this one hour special:

  • Can Faith And Sports co-exist?
  • Tebow’s impact in New York! What lies ahead for him?
  • Image of Faith surrounding sports
  • The issue of divine intervention
  • How we can glorify God with any platform!

I pray that you enjoy the show as much as I enjoyed recording the show. When I finished the show,I felt great because I got to honor God with the talent that He has graciously given me. Without Him, I am nothing. Hopefully, Lord Willing, in the future, we will bring some faith-oriented podcasts to Jesus N Sports. Until then, enjoy the link and God Bless!

God Wants Us All To Step Up

Posted: May 7, 2012 by Ricky Keeler in 2012, MLB

(Photo Credit: Reuters)

The latest injury surrounding the Major League Baseball scene involved one of the most iconic players in the history of the game. Last Thursday night, before the New York Yankees began the series with the Kansas City Royals, Rivera was doing in warm-ups what he had done for eighteen years.

As he was shagging fly balls in the outfield, Rivera stumbled on the turf, which resulted in a tear of his ACL. He is now out for the rest of the 2012 season, but has vowed that he will come back to the Yankees next year.

So, the Yankees are now faced with a dilemma. Who will be the closer for 2012? The choices are between 8th inning man David Robertson or former Rays’ closer Rafael Soriano. The main mindset that has to be going on in the Yankee clubhouse right now is the next man has to step up. There is no moping in the clubhouse because when someone goes down, the next man on the sidelines has to be ready to check into the game.

When I went to Bible Study the other day, the story of Deborah in the book of Judges reminded me of this situation. Deborah was a prophetess of the land of Israel when the people would go through cycles where they would follow the Lord under a judge, but then would turn away from God once the judge left. Deborah accompanied the army of Israel, under the leader of a man named Barak, as they defeated the Canaanite army led by Sisera at the River Kishon.

After Sisera is killed by Jael via a tent peg, Deborah sings a song of praise after the victory. In the song, the Lord notes the tribes who defended Israel in the battle and those who did not (Judges 5:13-18). And since the LORD is the one who inspired the text of Scripture, we could say, the LORD noted who stepped up and who didn’t.

After naming the tribes, a few verses later Deborah references the inhabitants of place called Meroz saying,

“Curse Meroz”, said the angel of the Lord, curse its inhabitants bitterly, Because they did not come to the help of the Lord, To the help of the Lord against the mighty.”(Judges 5:23)

So why does this story apply to us today? Well, the Lord does not want us to be Meroz. In times of strife, we have to trust God to help us with our battles because the Lord works everything for good for those who love Him!

Whenever God calls us, we have to always be ready to answer that call! God will note in His mind who stepped up for Him and who did not when we stand before Him on the Day of Judgment. We just can’t sit on the sidelines and be lukewarm about our faith! The Lord wants us to go forth and preach the Gospel to all nations.

Once the Lord calls us, it is time for us to heed the precious Word of God and OBEY IT! Today, I exhort you to do just that. Even if circumstances deny us the amount of fellowship we hope to have, we must be sold out to God individually and wait for Him to re-open doors of opportunity. It is up to us to continue being diligent and to not let our guard down at any situation. Keep the Word of God in your heart and your minds because it is our weapon to use against Satan, just like our Savior did when He was tempted in the desert. (Matthew 4)