Here’s just a few observations I’ve seen over the last week and why I continually stress leadership development as a focal point of the FCA Huddle:
A junior football player at Jonesboro came up to me after the huddle last week (with his FCA Bible he got at camp). He’s been struggling with issues at home, and was excited to show me that God had spoken to him through the example of young David, about how God anoints based on the heart and not the outward appearance, not based on man’s opinion of somebody. This sparked a conversation about how God throughout scripture has chosen unlikely people, from society’s perspective, with insecurities and weaknesses to use.
At Henry County, all three leaders who went to camp are being used to lead the 100 person huddle. One does the welcome, one leads in prayer and one does the devotion. Two of which lacked confidence and had self-esteem issues last year. The third leader, who I have lunch with weekly at the school, was facing the very real prospect of jail time one year ago before re-committing to Christ and is now active in sharing what God has done for Him.
At Union Grove (see attached picture), the FCA co-captain set an example and led prayer before the ACT exam on Saturday.
At Luella, a senior leader once lacking in confidence and being extremely shy gave a solid devotion in front of her FCA huddle last week.
At Lovejoy, the senior co-captain, a young lady, is setting an example as a member of the football team, which is one of the state’s top programs.
At Locust Grove, we have a young committed group of underclassmen that want to grow and develop. All of whom went to leadership camp.
Also at Jonesboro, the senior captain lead both a game and the devotion. Last year, she would read directly of a piece of paper. This year, her confidence, leadership ability and public speaking skills are increased as evidence by her ability to amplify her voice so 130 students in a gymnasium can hear her while clearly holding their attention.
Keep up the great work everybody!
September 17th Posted in: Christian Living with No Comments
From the Clayton Daily Times & Henry Herald:
The golden calf of fall - Tuesday, September 3, 2013
Reefer madness on campus – Tuesday, September 24, 2013
What I saw at fields of faith – Tuesday, October 1, 2013
Help wanted: Leaders – Tuesday, October 15, 2013
You’re either part of the problem or part of the solution – Tuesday, October 22, 2013
Running on empty - Tuesday, October 29, 2013
Destroying the Pillars of Permissiveness – Tuesday, November 12, 2013
It’s Not What You Say, But How You Say It – Tuesday, November 19, 2013
Thankful for 25 years as a quadriplegic – Tuesday, November 26, 2013
What’s going on at inner city high schools?: First installment of 4-part series, How to empower young black men– Tuesday, December 10, 2013
Empowering young athletes goes far beyond the field of competition: Second installment of 4-part series, How to empower young black men– Tuesday, December 17, 2013
Why I believe – Tuesday, December 24, 2013
Fulfill your potential in 2014 – Tuesday, December 31, 2013
Empowering young black men, the fix: Third installment of 4-part series, How to empower young black men- Tuesday, January 7, 2014
Having a marriage that keeps getting better – Tuesday, January 14, 2014
Fulfilling King’s dream: Final installment of 4-part series, How to empower young black men – Tuesday, January 21, 2014
Getting up and out of our seats – Tuesday, January 28, 2014
Addicts “R” Us – Tuesday, February 4, 2014
Sam I am: My thoughts on Michael Sam – the first openly gay football player – Tuesday, February 11, 2014
The climate is changing – Tuesday, February 18, 2014
We’re all broken – Tuesday, February 25, 2014
Ugly Christians are no excuse – Tuesday, March 4, 2014
Leaving a legacy to those that matter most – Tuesday, March 11, 2014
America’s youth problem – Tuesday, March 18, 2014
Taming the tongue by getting to the heart – Tuesday, March 25, 2014
The culture of poverty, American-style – Tuesday, April 1, 2014
$600 cell phones, the dignity of a minimum wage job: Overcoming systematic & culture failures – Tuesday, April 8, 2014
I was healed of my disability – Tuesday, April 15, 2014
God and man at Clemson - Saturday, April 26, 2014
It’s not what we say and do, it’s what we don’t say and do – Tuesday, April 29, 2014
What about the beating heart in the womb? – Tuesday, May 6, 2014
Traveling light - Tuesday, May 13, 2014
Racial prejudice has no place in the Body of Christ – Tuesday, May 27, 2014
The soil in our hearts – Tuesday, June 17, 2014
A time for war or a time for peace - Tuesday, June 24, 2014
Feeding the Spirit dog – Thursday, July 10, 2014
The prescription continues to kill the patients - Tuesday, July 15, 2014
Working from rest – Tuesday, August 5, 2014
Lifting a veil that I didn’t know was there – Tuesday, August 12, 2014
A post-racial world after Ferguson, MO – Tuesday, August 19, 2014
American idol now playing on a football field near you – Tuesday, September 2, 2014
The two groups killing Christianity in the U.S. – Tuesday, September 9, 2014
The bondage of religion – Tuesday, September 23, 2014
March 4th Posted in: Christian Living, Current Issues with No Comments
Rick Warren – “Our culture has accepted two huge lies. The first is that if you disagree with someone’s lifestyle, you must fear or hate them. The second is that to love someone means you agree with everything they believe or do. Both are nonsense. You don’t have to compromise convictions to be compassionate.”
I’m glad soon-to-be NFL player Michael Sam came out as gay on Sunday. We’ve always known just based on statistics that there’s multiple, gay professional athletes. So I think it’s a good thing that we finally have a gay, male athlete who is currently active in a team sport (Jason Collins was inactive and out of the NBA). Now we can all acknowledge the obvious, let other guys come out and move on without all the speculation, rumors and gossip.
Moving forward, my hope is that we can have a national dialogue that leads to healing in our culture of multiple fractures. To see my hope realized though, we’re all going to have to take a step back and realize what it will take to heal, namely that tolerance is a two-way street. As defined, tolerance is “the ability or willingness to tolerate something, in particular the existence of opinions or behavior that one does not necessarily agree with”, which means we don’t all need to agree on everything and when we don’t we should “tolerate” those opinions that are different from our own.
Healing also means understanding, for those that have been dug in, that homosexuality has been used as a wedge issue between Right and Left for too long, and that needs to stop. For too long, there has been too much irrational anger, hostility and crazed attitudes on both sides.
On the Left – because there are those of us who believe that sexual expressiveness (not attractions) outside of male / female relationships and marriage is outside of God’s designed plan doesn’t make us “intolerant, hateful, homophobic bigots. If you are reading this and you buy into this caricature, then you’re part of the problem.
On the Right, homosexuality isn’t the be all, end all sin leading to the destruction of Western Civilization that so many of you think it is. God doesn’t differentiate when it comes to sexual sin. If you are reading this and you buy into this caricature, then you’re part of the problem.
I would personally submit that pro athletes, who young people look up to as role models, fathering multiple children with multiple women has a far more disastrous impact on the culture than pro athletes living openly homosexual lifestyles. I repeat, God does not judge nor categorize sexual sin. The homosexual can be a saved Christian the same way the heterosexual adulterer, fornicator or the heterosexual who lusts in his / her mind or on the internet can be a saved Christian.
The litmus test for me on how we should treat others, I believe, is how we would want people to treat our children. The litmus test for how we should love others, I believe is how we love our children. I personally would not demean my children in any way. And regardless of decisions, choices, attractions or the lifestyle that my children choose, I WILL ALWAYS LOVE THEM UNCONDITIONALLY. Why? Because God loves me unconditionally, without fault nor blemish.
Ultimately, we are all sinners. As Christians, our only job is to point people to the Cross, the Truth of the Gospel message that (see Romans Road): We’ve all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.” That the “wages of sin” is spiritual death and eternal separation from God. That the Good News is that while we were STILL sinners Christ died for us. That if we confess with our mouths that Jesus is Lord and believe in our hearts that we’ll be saved. For whoever calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.
The Gospel is truth, love, grace and mercy. Too many Christians know the truth and are good as plank-eyed saints in wagging their finger in people’s faces. But if you don’t show people the love, grace and mercy of Jesus, then they’ll never accept the truth of who He is.
Bill is on staff with the Fellowship of Christian Athletes and a Deacon at Eagles Landing FBC in McDonough, GA. He lives in Locust Grove with his wife Amy and their three children. You can follow Bill on Facebook or Twitter @billrenje and learn more about him at his website www.achosenbullet.com
February 11th Posted in: Uncategorized with 2 Comments
1 – What’s going on at inner city high schools? – Tuesday, December 10, 2013
2 – Empowering young athletes goes far beyond the field of competition - Tuesday, December 17, 2013
3 – Empowering young black men, the fix – Tuesday, January 7, 2014
4 – Fulfilling MLK’s Dream – Tuesday, January 21, 2014
January 22nd Posted in: Uncategorized with No Comments
I think most people are deeply disappointed with the ineptitude in Washington D.C. Nowhere, I believe has this played out more than the recent government shutdown. I, for one, am completely sick and tired of all the finger pointing and if you’re one of the ones pointing fingers at “the other side”, than you’re part of the problem, not the solution.
So if I were to write an open letter to our nation’s leadership I would plead with them:
Please stop placing blame on your political foes and work together to the very real problems that threaten to bring this once great country to its knees and break our collective back. The sooner you all look in the mirror and realize each party is equally to blame for the mess we’re in, the sooner our nation can heal and move forward with fresh ideas towards a brighter future for our children.
After continuing to watch what look to be more like a campaign policy speeches well after the 2012 election, I’ll start with my frustration with you Mr. President and my Democratic friends. Please, both directly and indirectly, stop blaming your predecessor or Congress for our current woes. Our country needs leadership, Washington D.C. needs leadership and our nation’s youth needs leadership. You’re the leader of this nation. So LEAD us! Yes, we have a divided nation and divided government. But your Democratic predecessor Bill Clinton had a divided government with a G.O.P. led House that shut down the government on him. Yet, he found a way to lead and got things done.
To my Republican friends (especially those of you who are Christians), you need to show the nation what you’re for and not just what you’re against. There’s a lot of ugliness out there. Nowhere has the ugliness been more evident than with “Obamacare”. I don’t like law overall and think it’s headed for disaster. But everybody has agreed the healthcare system in this country is broken and needed reform badly. So put up or shut up when it comes to a viable alternative that addresses issues of spending caps, costs and covering pre-existing conditions.
To all sides, governing is not a sport. The goal should not be spike the ball in the face of the other party. When the goal of both sides is to “win” at any cost, the American people end up as the biggest loser.
October 23rd Posted in: Uncategorized with No Comments
Once upon a time, when European immigrants came to the United States they would stare in awe upon approaching our shores as the Statue of Liberty came into sight. Whether real or mythical, the ideals and symbolism of the Land of Opportunity brought many to tears while providing inspiration to emulate all that came before them in building a better life for themselves and families.
In our current culture, a sign should be hung around Lady Liberty’s neck that says “Help Wanted: Leaders”. Perhaps the single biggest issue facing our youth is the lack of leaders, in particular male role models, to emulate in finding their mission and God-given purpose in life. From the highest levels of government to the streets in many communities, our youth have been failed by not having proper role models.
The vacancy of the father in the home leads too many of youth to seek a false image of manhood through celebrities, athletes and less than desirable friends. When one looks at the dysfunction of our leaderless, dysfunctional government, they see a total lack of personal accountability. Instead of taking responsibility for what goes on around them (a trait ingrained in the DNA of all great leaders), we get the whining, name calling, finger-pointing and blaming that our kindergarten teachers didn’t accept from us on the playground.
Instead of working for a solution, those that run our country make excuses for their failures. This has a tremendous and negative impact on our overall culture as our nation’s leadership sets the tone and direction for the rest of the culture. So where do we go from here?
At the grass roots level, men everywhere need to step up and lead by taking responsibility – in our marriages, our homes, our churches and our communities. We must empower our wives, equip our children while providing mentorship to those kids in our community in desperate need. We must break the chain of self-victimization (aka playing the victim) that’s become so prevalent in our society and is holding entire generations back from fulfilling their true potential and discovering their spiritual gifts so they themselves can lead someday.
As for our nation’s leadership, we need to hold our leader’s accountable to lead. We need people to stand up, take personal responsibility for the chaos around them and lead our country by the very ideals that its been built upon. By the way, here is a good way to interject that just because we often fall short of our ideals and standards, doesn’t mean we need to abandon or lower the bar of those ideals and standards. I long for a day when we have more adults in the room among our elected officials and fewer bickering kids staking out their turf around the swing set.
October 14th Posted in: Christian Living, Current Issues with No Comments
The prayer line was unlike any I had ever been apart of. Guest speaker Arthur Hawkins had just finished an emotionally-charged message and invited the young people to come forward, those who wanted to either recommit or dedicate their life to Christ. Dozens of students lined up on the front row when ‘Hawk’ asked the adults – teachers, coaches, parents – to line up behind them. I don’t know how long his prayer lasted, probably just minutes, but it seemed like we were lifted outside of time as you could feel the Spirit move and flow as the students stood arm and arm with the adults laying hands from behind. When he ended, I saw multitudes of grown people moved to tears; an FCA huddle sponsor embracing her student captain (both sobbing) as the student said “thank you for believing in me”.
I would describe myself as a guy who typically doesn’t get caught up in the emotion of church. My wife is somebody who sobs when people get baptized and is the first to leap out of her seat hands raised in the air when Spirit-filled, praise & worship hits her heart by way of her ears. Me, I’m more a back row Baptist content to sit on his hands.
But as I sit here with the clock approaching midnight, I can’t shut it down for the night without sharing all of what I saw earlier this evening.
- A church commit their time, money and their resources in cooking a 1,000 hot dogs, while providing bags of chips and bottles of water to serve kids.
- A guest speaker (who grew up in the Jim Crow South with a mother who neglected him and a father he didn’t know) move the crowd by telling us what it was like to find LOVE through Jesus. All the while, directly in front of him sat a young man, also without a father, stayed locked in with laser focus.
12 wonderful students who volunteered to read scripture and give testimony, including:
- A football player – that lost an uncle to an undiagnosed heart condition and later lost a teammate, who lined up right next to him on the offensive line, also to an undiagnosed heart condition – talk about how he learned to give God glory in ALL things.
- A cheerleader learning how to trust God in ALL things despite coming to the realization in middle school that her dad is an alcoholic and not knowing at this point whether or not he’ll be alive to see her graduate.
- A basketball player now standing on his faith who had lost his focus and was once shackled with an ankle bracelet, staring at six months in Juvenile Detention before Jesus rescued him as He did Peter when Peter lost his focus.
- A young scholar who denied Christianity because of science until his own exhaustive research led him to the conclusion that the Bible is the living Word.
- An FCA huddle captain from an area with opportunities all around to be the hands and feet of Jesus in serving the homeless and downtrodden, talk about her calling to volunteer in shelters.
After the prayer line dispersed, we huddled up in groups of eight around the football field for a time of prayer for our schools. I’ve never seen a group of young people so moved. In my group, a girl with a Pink Floyd shirt asked me if she could pray and proceeded to sob uncontrollably in a vulnerable but beautiful way as she bared her soul in front of her friends in asking God to help free her from so many snares that entangle teenagers.
As we dispersed, a young man told me he wanted “to get saved” and I had the opportunity to lead him straight to Christ. I’ll follow up with him tomorrow. For many, including this young man, Fields of Faith is just the beginning of a wonderful journey.
September 30th Posted in: Fellowship of Christian Athletes with No Comments
While there was unfortunately little to no shock value to the recent five-part series by Sports Illustrated on the corruption of Oklahoma State football — as most of us assume this goes on to varying degrees at every major university with revenue producing sports — a telling quote gave an indication of how our youth are ensnared while growing up with the rebranding of marijuana as a soft or harmless drug.
“Everybody thinks marijuana isn’t a bad drug, but it really has destroyed my life,” former running back Dexter Pratt said in part three of the series titled “The Drugs.” “When I was (at Oklahoma State) I wouldn’t have said it was an addiction, but it was.”
Seldom have we seen the pendulum swing back and forth to wild extremes of cultural perceptions as we’ve seen with how society has viewed marijuana. Due partly to the fictional, propaganda film “Reefer Madness” released in 1936, the public perception of the drug was one of horror that could lead to murder, rape, suicide or insanity.
Unfortunately scare tactics not based on substance don’t last for long. Since the 1960s, the backlash to “Reefer Madness” from the counter cultural movement has moved further and further mainstream. The result is a growing perception amongst the culture that marijuana is a harmless and safe drug.
As a result of the shift in societal attitudes, we must now, more than ever, properly educate our youth on the dangers of using marijuana — not by fictional scare tactics, but by reality. While we hear that the drug is not addictive, Dexter Pratt tells us a different story.
A mind-altering substance, marijuana may not be physically addictive like alcohol or heroin, but the grips of a psychologically, addictive, mind-altering substance is no less a detriment to those addicted.
Addiction is addiction, be it physical or psychological.
Once a person becomes addicted, getting high is often the only thing they think about, and in the case of marijuana, this leads to lower levels of personal drive, ambition, motivation as well as increased levels of paranoia.
How can I verify this last sentence? Well, outside of countless medical studies, I’ve seen it firsthand. I used it as a youth and it was truly the end of the innocence of childhood for me and hundreds, if not thousands of others that I’ve seen over the years.
‘A’ students become ‘C’ students. ‘C’ students become ‘F’ students, often dropping out. Great athletes become average athletes or quit competing all together.
Are there exceptions to the rule like our current president? Yes, but by and large our youth that begin using the drug inhibit themselves from fully reaching their talent and potential. Many graduate to more potent and deadly drugs as yes, marijuana is a gateway or stepping stone drug.
The legalization push would just further legitimize use among our youth by sending the signal that it’s harmless and OK to use.
So some straight talk is necessary. Not by scaring our kids away from the drug but by showing them through our own lives that the best life lived is a peaceful, joyful existence with a strong, clear and sober mind under the influence of nothing more than the Holy Spirit, through having a relationship with Jesus Christ.
September 26th Posted in: Christian Living, Current Issues with No Comments
My early life revolved around sports. Until I hit my teenage years, everything I thought about revolved around the athletes I followed, the sports I watched and the games I played every day until the sun set. I wanted to be a professional football or baseball player. Baseball was my game and my ticket, or so I thought, until the reality of my limitations caught up with me in early adolescence when I, for the first but certainly not the last time, was forced to change direction from my chosen career path. So I can’t imagine walking away voluntarily when being right on the door step of that dream. But that’s exactly what Chris Norman choose to do.
Norman didn’t have the limitations that most of us have athletically which prevent us from going past the high school level. Although never meeting him, I have to think he wanted to be a professional ball player as well. After being heavily recruited in 2008 as one of the top linebackers in the nation, Norman became a three-year starter and team captain at Michigan State University. But, after being projected as a mid to low round pick, with a legitimate shot at a professional career, Norman promptly shocked friends and family in announcing he was forgoing the NFL draft to follow God’s call to attend seminary.
Norman’s story is chronicled in his own words, a highlight reel and video testimony at Desiringgod.org/drafted. According to Norman, his priorities were realigned after he tore an elbow ligament against Alabama in a 2011 bowl game. “A lot of people see this type of lifestyle and they think ‘this is what it means to live’…(but after the injury) I got lost and I realized there must be something more to life than a football
Soon thereafter, he gave his heart to the Lord and although he would fully recover for his final two seasons, a burning desire began to set in for full-time ministry. He is joining the staff at Highland Park Baptist in Southfield, Michigan with the church paying for his seminary education. In a world where our children our bombarded with the wrong cultural messages of what success is and where gratification comes from, Norman’s decision to forego an opportunity of temporal fame and worldly fortune should be a lesson for all of us on when it comes leaving a true legacy.
September 9th Posted in: Christian Living, Fellowship of Christian Athletes with No Comments
This is the best time of the year to a lot of us who have the pleasure of living in the South. We’ve made it through the worst of the summer heat and the beauty of the crisp Georgia Fall will soon be upon us. But even more so for us football fans, the dog days of the sports calendar are behind us.
Nothing says Fall more than Friday night lights, Saturday tailgates and Sunday afternoons glued to the television. But as Christians we need to be careful and guard our hearts in pursuing what’s truly important. While there’s nothing wrong with rooting for our team, I’m saddened that too many of us have created false idols when it comes to our favorite teams. While we no longer worship Old Testament idols, we’ve created modern gods in the shape of high school, college and professional teams as well as players. We’ve exchanged the passion and pursuit of the living God for the fanaticism of obsessively following our little gods.
I’ve been passionately following sports for 35 years and myself have struggled with over obsessing over things that really don’t matter. But I’ve come to realize with age and maturity that the agony of defeat or the glory of victory is temporary and meaningless in the big picture. As someone active in sports ministry, I’ve learned the true, lasting values of sports are linked with spiritual values of learning from defeat, winning with dignity while developing integrity, teamwork, character, perseverance and, most of all, honoring the Lord by recognizing Him in maximizing the talent he’s given you.
Sure, many of us sports fanatics still sit in the pews every Sunday morning. It’s not like we take football season off. But I’m saddened with how anemic Christianity in this culture. What kind of impact could Christians have in this nation if we were as impassioned about being Jesus to people as we are inflamed in our sporting lusts? In the Book of Exodus, the Israelites threw their gold into the fire and out came a calf. Today, we throw our money into the fire and out pops the logo of our favorite teams which we tattoo to our hearts.
We all need to step back and appraise what we truly value. Do we get more excited for Friday nights, Saturday evenings, Sunday afternoons or Sunday mornings? Are we more intimate and talk more about our team than Jesus? Do we spend more time obsessing over social media and talk radio than we do with Jesus? Does the pain from your team’s loss matter more than the lost?