Thursday, November 19, 2009

Living In The Present

From the book “The Shack” by WM. Paul YoungSetting the

Scene: Mack (main character) has been visited by Jesus at this Shack where one of Mack’s worst nightmares occurred 3 years earlier: (Mack and Jesus are preparing to go to the other side of the Lake that surrounds the shack for a picnic).

Reaching the end of the Dock, Jesus turned to Mack and grinned. “After you,” he said with a mock flourish and bow. “You’re kidding, right?” sputtered Mack. “I thought we were going for a walk, not a swim.”

“We are, I just thought going across the lake would take less time than going around it.” “I’m not that great of a swimmer, and besides, the water looks pretty darn cold,” complained Mack.
“Now,” said Jesus, folding his arms, “we both know that you are a very capable swimmer, once a lifeguard if I remember right. And the water is cold. And it’s deep. But I’m not talking about swimming. I want to walk across with you.”

What Jesus had been suggesting, Mack finally allowed into his consciousness. He was talking about walking on the water. Jesus, anticipating his hesitation asserted, “C’mon, Mack. If Peter can do it…”

Mack laughed, more out of nerves than anything. To be sure, he asked on more time, “You want me to walk on the water to the other side – that is what you are saying right?” “You’re a quick one, Mack. Nobody’s gonna slide anything past you, that’s for sure. C’mon, it’s fun!” He laughed.

Mack walked to the edge of the dock and looked down. The water lapped only about a foot below where he stood, but it might as well have been a hundred feet. The distance looked enormous. To dive in would have been easy, he had done that a thousand times – but how do you step off a dock onto water? Do you jump as if you are landing on concrete, or do you step over the edge as if you are getting out of a boat? He looked back at Jesus, who was still chuckling. “Peter had the same problem: how to get out of the boat. It’s just like stepping off a one-foot stair. Nothing to it.” “Will my feet get wet?” queried Mack. “Of course, water is still wet.”

Again Mack looked down at the water and back at Jesus. “Then why is this so hard for me?” “Tell me what you are afraid of, Mack.” “Well, I am afraid of looking like an idiot. I am afraid that you are making fun of me and that I will sink like a rock. I imagine that –“

“Exactly,” Jesus interrupted. “You imagine, Such a powerful ability, the imagination! The power alone makes you so like us. But without wisdom, imagination is a cruel task master. If I may prove my case, do you think humans were designed to live in the present or the past or the future?”

“Well,” said Mack, hesitating, “I think the most obvious answer is that we were designed to live in the present. It that wrong?” Jesus chuckled. “Relax, Mack. This is not a test, it’s a conversation. You are exactly correct, by the way. But now tell me, where do you spend most of your time in your mind, in your imagination: in the present, in the past, or in the future?”
Mack thought for a moment before answering, “I suppose I would have to say that I spend very little time in the present. I spend a big piece in the past, but most of the rest of the time, I am trying to figure out the future.”

“Not unlike most people. When I dwell with you, I do so in the present – I live in the present. Not the past, although much can be remembered and learned by looking back, but only for a visit, not an extended stay. And for sure, I do not dwell in the future you visualize or imagine. Mack, do you realize that imagination of the future, which is almost always dictated by fear of some kind, rarely, if ever, pictures me there with you?”

Again Mack stopped and thought. It was true. He spent a lot of time fretting and worrying about the future, and in his imagination it was usually pretty gloomy and depressing, if not outright horrible. And Jesus was also correct in saying that in Mack’s thoughts of the future, God was always absent.

“Why do I do that?” asked Mack. “It is your desperate attempt to get some control over something you can’t. It is impossible for you to take power over the future because it isn’t even real, nor will it ever be real. You try to play God, imagining the evil that you fear becoming reality, and then you try to make plans and contingencies to avoid what you fear.”
“So why do I have so much fear in my life?” responded Mack.

“Because you don’t believe. You don’t know that I love you. The person who lives by his fears will not find freedom in my love. I am not talking about rational fears regarding legitimate dangers, but imagined fears, and especially the projection of those into the future. To the degree that those fears have a place in your life, you neither believe I am good nor know deep in your heart that I love you. You sing about it, you talk about it, but you don’t know it.

Mack looked down once more at the water and breathed a huge sigh of the soul. “I have so far to go.”

Monday, November 9, 2009



This week I have attached a unique thought of the week coming directly from a parent within the program (I hope I have removed their name from all parts of the email if not I am really sorry but I had to share this). I thought it was a pretty powerful email to share with all of you. Over the past three weeks we have had four different kids leave the program because of the team they were selected to play on (A, B, Red, Black, White ect…). This was a thought emailed to me and I thought it may be interesting to share with all of you. No matter what your perception of the different teams may be I pray each night that you will trust that I have the best interest of your child at the forefront of my mind. This was the most powerful email I have received in five years of working with young people and parents!

Jake, As a follow up of our short conversation this evening, I just wanted to offer you and your coaching staff a word of encouragement. Would you please pass this along to all your coaches? Someone in your position is faced constantly with hard decisions that affect so many people. I want you to know that I fully trust your decision in the shaping of my son into a leader both on and off the floor. I wish I could say that I am a man of complete control and integrity, and that I always make the right decisions coupled with the right attitudes. I am not! (I know I shared some of this with you this evening, I wanted, however, to put it into words so that you could share this.) I readily admit that I fail miserably sometimes in maintaining the right attitude and surmising peoples intentions. That happened to me this weekend. Please let me share….

When I saw the posted rosters for last weekend’s tournaments at SEP, I was shocked. I could not believe that my son was not on the “A” team. I immediately started the mental checklist of who my son was better than, why they were on the “A” team, why possibly he was not, and my mind (thanks I’m sure to the encouragement of the Devil) immediately started to find all the wrong things with your decision to place him on the “ B” team. I assumed all sorts of notions. Perhaps it was that he carries a partial scholarship, perhaps it was that I didn’t know you well enough, maybe because we didn’t live in the right place, perhaps, perhaps, perhaps… The list went on and on. The longer I thought, the more furious I became. It was so obvious to me that he belonged on a team that was going to rock! I mean Rock!! (I know they are young, and we never count our chickens before they hatch, but you have to be completely retarded to not see that group of boys have incredible talent potential. J) You know, I even was so frustrated on Saturday that I walked out of the gym. It was a long ride home on Saturday! They worst part was, I began to not cheer for the boys on the other team, and that suddenly scared me. I realized that even though I was not their parent, for most of them I still had some emotional investment in them. I did want them to succeed regardless if my son was out there or not and I vowed Sunday would be different.

Sunday came and it was still difficult but I would have to say a lot better. I began to look for the positives. I thought, “Hey, I don’t know the parents of most of these kids on my son’s team.” So I sat in the stands on Sunday, and introduced myself to some of the new parents to the program. It’s amazing when you turn the focus off yourself, how you can see new benefits. We could have left after his last game, and believe me, I fought the urge to go, but, we stayed to watch the “A” team play and to cheer them on. I watched my son cheer for his team from the stands, and every now and then, I thought, “He should be out there….he should be out there.” But, I made it through.

We went home Sunday afternoon and the boys varsity coach of the school my boys attend called me and asked if I could bring the boys down for open gym. He needed someone there other than himself as to not be in violation of the IAHSAA rules regarding open gym. He asked me how the tournament went and I told him the happenings. (He happens to be a good friend) He and I sat and talked a lot and he told me that he is probably getting to play a lot and is going to learn good lessons from it. We watched to boys shoot and dribble for a while and he said he could not wait to see my son in three years. At the end of our conversation, he grinned at me and said, “I know you are a lot bigger than I am, but I’ll tell you right now, if your son someday becomes a prospect, and you pull him out of here, and I never get to put that boy on the floor, you and I are going to go round. I’m going to hunt you down!” I laughed….hard, and it felt good. .

Sunday night at small groups for church, we talked about the reason Paul was writing to Timothy. You know, nothing to do with forgiveness, grace, or anything of the sort, but all of a sudden it struck me. Why was I not using the same logic in application to this situation? Why was it so simple in Bible study to use logic and reason, but not in everyday life? I decided to remove my emotional ties with my son, and look from the heart of a teacher, the heart of a coach, the heart of a brother in Christ.

First some background. I come from three years of coaching at the high school varsity level, and I spent three years as an athletic director. I now am a basketball official (first year), so I have some experience with unhappy parents. (You see, my unhappiness was justified, it’s always everyone else’s that’s not.J) I have made some decisions like that, cut kids from rosters, and benched athletes whose parents were sure their kid was the next Jordan. So I decided to start from a different premise. A premise that I tried to have when I coached and when I was an athletic director. What if you really did have my son’s best interest in mind? What if your decision to place him on the “B” team really was because you wanted him to develop a skill set other than the one he would learn on a team dominated by guards? What if…..and then I realized that I owed you an apology, and you didn’t even know it!!

I began to see that he played way more minutes than anyone else did on the team. (both “A” and “B”) He played a spot that he typically would not; he started to learn a guard skill set; he started to learn how to finish, how to work harder than ever before, how to be the leader that he otherwise would never get the chance to be, how to adjust, how to carry, how to encourage, how to work smarter, how to……and then I saw the list of positives far outweighed the negatives.

It was humorous to me that this evening when I talked to you. Before I even said why I thought it was a good idea that he was on the “B” team, how you said the exact same things that I finally had decided to go with. The skills, the leadership, the learning, the BIG picture. So this is my official request, that you keep my son on the “B” team. I think maybe there will be a time where (because he may be frustrated, to reward him, but please understand that I leave that decision up to you) he plays on the “A” team, (not permanently) but I would request that you continue to keep him on the “B” and force him to learn, to lead, to grow, to develop, to become what I only pray that I would someday be…….a complete man. “As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.”

You know, I talk to my son a lot about his athletic gift. I tell him all the time that God has a big plan for him, and with great blessings, come great responsibilities. I don’t know what it is, and perhaps basketball has nothing to do with it. I would like to think that God would put him in a place to be able to reach many people for Christ……Hmmmmm, perhaps like one of his teachers, Jake Sullivan.

Thank you for being approachable, for being easy to talk to, and for teaching my son about being a man.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Do What The Vikings Do!

The Vikings were fierce pirates and warriors who terrorized Europe from the late 700’s to about A.D. 1100. Brutal and fearsome they looted and burned parts of England, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Russia, and Spain. Other Europeans were so frightened of the Vikings that a special prayer for protection was offered in the churches: “God, deliver us from the fury of the Northmen.”

Most historians attribute the Vikings devastating effectiveness to their warships, which were swift and light and could be easily dragged ashore. This allowed them to strike suddenly and then quickly retreat to the safety of the sea. However, my wise father has identified another contributing factor—one that holds incredible significance for all of us: The Vikings rowed themselves to battle.

Unlike the Romans, who used galley slaves to row their great warships, the Vikings took full responsibility for this strenuous activity. This tells us two things: 1) the Vikings didn’t feel that rowing was beneath them—they pursued competence in every area pertaining to their success, and 2) they were seriously ripped. No wonder the people of Europe were afraid of these guys—their muscles were moving twenty-ton boats through the water!

Here’s The challenge: Do hard things. Learn a lesson from the Vikings. Do hard things and you will carry the battle every time. If you are willing to take on responsibilities that others delegate or neglect you will gain the benefits of that exertion.

Too often we delegate the responsibility for our education, our character, our future, etc. to others who hold far less of a stake in how things turn out. And more often than not a failure to perform in the areas of character and competence are due to a lack of past exertion.

Look around you. Many American young people are doing little more than “making it”—and this in a culture of unbelievably low standards. Few shoulder the burden of doing more than is required—yet that was the key to the Viking’s success! (From the Blog

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Amazing Grace

Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever! Amen.
-John 3:20-21

As I sat in church today I realized how amazing God is! This weekend Cornerstone Church opened up a new 13 million dollar expansion to the church. The new auditorium sits over 2,000 people and is an amazing facility. What caught my attention today was not the new facility, but rather instead as I looked around at the 2000 people all worshiping together the idea that each person in that church has a God story whether they know it or not.

My Story: God used my greatest struggle to call me to him……..
I grew up like many people in the United States with two incredible parents that provided me every opportunity I could have ever dreamed of. They were always there to love and comfort my brother and I. There was never a price too great to pay in order to allow us to chase our dreams and pursue our passions. We were incredibly close as a family but were not overly close to God. Of course we believed that God existed and we knew there was a heaven and we knew that during Christmas and Easter we were to go to church but that was essentially the extent of our faith.

During my years growing up I began to excel on the basketball court and basketball became my passion and you could even say that it became my God. New doors began to open because of basketball and I was soon traveling around the United States competing at the highest level experiencing things I could have never imagined.

As I entered the 8th grade my passion for basketball was increasing as were my skills. In December of my 8th grade year I was called up to the varsity team and soon was in the starting line-up. The summer before my senior year I was ranked as one of the top 40 players in the country and received a full-ride scholarship to Iowa State. I finished my senior year with a state championship and headed to college to follow up my state championship with a Big 12 championship and freshman of the year honors.

I completed my basketball career as a three time All Big 12 selection and Academic All-American. According to the world I was where every kid could only dream about being. I had a life-time worth of experiences and stories; so everything should be great as I flipped to the next chapter of my life.

However, my life was far from happy. I had an inner torment occurring that I never thought would leave me alone. There were countless days in high school that I could not even pull myself out of bed to go to school. In college I feared walking on campus, I feared driving home, I feared what people were thinking, I feared the unknown, I feared life.

I suffered from something called Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. Most people have some general idea of what OCD is because it is usually associated with checking the locks on the door a few extra times, checking the knobs on the stove a few extra times, or washing of the hands a few more times than the average person. Actually it is much worse than what most people believe and it can be overwhelming and often controls every aspect of one’s life.

I could go on with all kinds of crazy stories of what I went through in high school and college, but I will stick to one quick example in order to allow all of you to enter my life for a brief moment. Usually obsessive compulsive disorder is not just over one aspect of a person’s life but rather it can be many different things. One of my issues was white objects. Yes, that is not a typo it is the truth. I could not stand anything white on the ground.

As you read this I am assuming you have never noticed all of the white objects on the ground. Oh but I have. Anytime I saw a white object (piece of paper, rock, wrapper, leaf, ect..) on the ground I had to pick it up and put it in my pocket. Now let me tell you the challenge of getting from Lagomarcino Hall on the Iowa State campus back to my dorm room or to Hilton Coliseum. It is about a ½ mile walk which should take about 15 minutes to walk, but I could easily turn that trip into a two hour ordeal and then when I arrived at my next destination I would have a pocket full of white things and enough anxiety to kill me. (It is ok to smile because I know it sounds just crazy)

I had many other crazy things affect me each day like 90 degree angles, how my shoe laces were tied, simply driving my car and the list could on and on. When I was going through the worst of this in high school and early on in college I was embarrassed to talk about it. The doctors just kept giving more and more medicine but yet nothing seemed to really help. I did not know how I was going to go on. My only comfort came while playing basketball. Then God stepped in.

First, he brought a manager to the Iowa State Basketball team named Dave Edwards who gave me my first Bible and challenged me every day to read it. I usually did not listen to him except when we nearly died on the propeller operated plane that we jumped on for road games. One day the plane would not start so they jumped it with a 15 passenger van. Even if you never wanted to read your Bible that experience would make you do it!!

As God was using Dave to intervene in my life a cute girl stopped by my dorm room asking if I wanted to come up to the 7th floor and watch the movie Love and Basketball. I did not really want to watch the movie but she was pretty cute so without thinking I jumped on the elevator and headed up to the 7th floor. The only problem was that I had just finished practice and my feet have a tendency to stink from time to time. In my hurry to meet this girl on the 7th floor I did not put on any shoes or socks. I never really realized the first impression my feet made on my wife but the smell must have put her in a trance because she has never left my side.

While my wife was still my girlfriend she dragged me to Salt Company which is the college ministry at Cornerstone Church. I will never forget that first night there when I looked around and saw the passion so many people had for Jesus. I began to wonder just what all of these people knew that I did not. Maybe that Bible Dave gave me had the answers I was waiting for. As we were leaving Salt Company God was not done intervening as the pastor came up to me and began to talk basketball. All I could think about was that I am in a church with a pastor that likes basketball. Maybe I should just come on Sunday and listen to what he has to say. I was a little unsure about coming after I saw that pastor screaming with all of those crazy fans in Hilton Coliseum. I remember thinking wow you can be pastor and still jump, cheer, and yell at a Cyclone game - that must be a pretty cool church.

While all of this was going on I was having a ton of success on the basketball court but was being tormented by my OCD like no one would ever know. As I struggled it seemed as though God showed up more and more. The Lord put one person after another in my life and I soon grew to know a wonderful church family.

I gave my life to Christ my Senior year in college. I really did not know what that fully meant at the time but I now know that God brought me out of a dark place filled with fear. Today I still struggle from time to time with the OCD and anxiety, but I no longer need the medication and the best part is when I do stumble to fears, I now have something much bigger than myself to lean on.

Have a great week!

Saturday, October 24, 2009


These will be some of the first Kingdom Hoops players in Ghana, Africa! I am blown away how God keeps opening up incredible doors for the Kingdom Hoops program. These boys' just beat Accra Academy on October 23rd 66-22! Great work Boys!