As September ends and October dawns those of us who follow college football recognize the season is now in full swing. Big games are coming in the next few weeks and then a champion will be crowned.
A few days ago a friend handed me a book. He found it in a used book store and thought of me. It is Building A Championship Football Team by Paul W. Bryant. Coach Bryant details how he built his teams. There are many lessons pastors could learn from the principles in the 230 pages.
Coach Bryant lists five intangible attributes coaches have the opportunity to teach and develop in young players:
1. Discipline, sacrifice, work, fight and teamwork
2. To learn how to take your “licks” and yet fight back
3. To be so tired you think you are going to die but rather than quit you somehow learn to fight a little harder
4. When your team is behind you learn to “suck up your guts” and do whatever it takes to catch up and win the game
5. You learn to believe in yourself because you know how to rise to the occasion, and you know you will do it
This week I saw my high school football coach Sam Kennimer while I was in Pisgah. The coaching profession is honorable and dignified when mental development and correct attitudes are taught. Sam was one of those who helped mold my life. Many say football and other sports are just games. And on one level that is correct. But when you are shaping the lives of young men to be champions for life, it is more than a game. It is the real deal!
October is coming!
I am in Pisgah at my parents for a couple of days. It is an honor to be preaching this week for the annual Manna on the Mountain conference. These are always good days and I am excited to be here. It is great seeing old friends and catching up on what is happening in their lives. It is like a high school reunion for me. Good days.
Last night I shared the preaching event with my friend Dr. Ergun Caner. He preached from John 7 on hearing a word from God. It was good stuff. Mike Speck is here leading the music. He and Faye have been wonderful encouragers to me.
What I am trying to say today is do not forget your roots and friends. People who have poured life into us are important. Remember to say thanks and give back when you can.
Various items come to a pastor’s office. Sermons, illness reports, prayer, counseling, family issues, committees and so forth are a part of the weekly items. From time to time comes a funeral. Today is one of those.
How does a family get ready for a funeral? The best prep is to be prepared for eternity. Leave a strong legacy of faith and faithfulness. Love your family. Pick out some things you want in a funeral service. Write those things down. Make it easy on the pastor. Preach your funeral before he does.
This morning I will bury Walter Masters. He was saved at 25 and radically changed. He lived to be 90. He was a faithful husband and father. He was a soul winner and wonderful Bible teacher. I have many of his books in my library. His family gave them to me when Walter could no longer use them. They are marked up and had been used. He was a winner!
Plan your funeral by living a godly life.
I am away for a few days with the Olive Baptist staff leadership team. Pray for us as we plan and spend time with one another. I am blessed to serve with this amazing group of men and women.
Some interesting facts came to my attention this week concerning veterans of the US military. Of those serving in the last ten years, unemployment is at 12.4%. In the same timeframe we have a national suicide rate among vets of eighteen a day. There are 100,000 homeless veterans in our country. These facts seem unbelievable to me. It seems we can and must do better at helping those who serve us as they transition back into civilian life.
A retired Marine Colonel shared with me this week reasons a person would put their life, relationships and all else on hold to serve and defend our nation. Here are four reasons he listed.
1. Love of country and the preservation of our society and way of life.
2. A sense of obligation and duty to a higher calling above one’s own personal desire, comforts and wants.
3. A chance to make a difference in pursuing a “meaningful life”.
4. A Marine mans a weapons system and fights for the Marine on his left and the right of him who he shares a kindred spirit of brotherhood and family, and feels a sense of honor and obligation to “not let my family down”-they are counting on me.
Thank God for those who serve . We must take care of them when they return from the battle.
This morning’s addition of USA Today has an article regarding Americans customizing religion to fit their personal needs. They call it designer religion. Yet, 37% of Americans are said to now be unchurched. I encourage you to read the article.
The church has work to do. Many former attendees say they were bored, burned out and empty. Easy believes has to go. The Gospel calls us to a life of surrender and lordship for an eternal cause. The next generation must be challenged with a biblical faith that is worth dying for. And worth living for.
Where were you on September 11, 2001?
I had just arrived at Olive that Tuesday morning. Turning on the television in my office, I watched live as the second plane flew into the South Tower of the World Trade Center. Several staff members gathered to watch in stunned silence, trying to process what was happening.
We met a few minutes later for staff meeting and prayed for President Bush and our nation. During that time David Adams, our former Minister of Education, received a cell phone call, notifying us the Pentagon was under attack. The remainder of our day was a blur, spent comforting one another, fielding phone calls from the media and making plans for a community prayer service that evening.
This Sunday marks the tenth anniversary of the 9/11 terrorists attacks on our great nation. Olive Baptist Church will have a special service of remembrance. Join us at 9:00am in the Worship Center as we honor America and pray for God’s guidance for her future. At the conclusion our plan is to make a circle around the church building along the loop road for a moment of silence.
I love America. I am grateful to be a citizen of this great nation. As we enter this weekend of remembrance and watch the various tributes marking this occasion, thank God for His hand of protection for the past ten years. Yes, we currently face difficult days of financial crisis and political uncertainty. But one thing is sure: we are blessed to live in the land of the free and home of the brave. God Bless America!
It is popular for businesses to use automated systems for answering telephones. You know the drill. Press 1 for so and so, 2 for something else and so forth. Many churches have gone to this system and it seems to work for them. It will not work for me. I like a live person answering the phone when you call Olive during business hours.
Today is Marjorie Bell’s last day to work at Olive. Our first-class receptionist is retiring. She has been training her replacement, and beginning tomorrow the phone is handed over to another. I have often told Mrs. Bell when she quits I plan to quit! Well, I have had to go back on my words. I was just hoping she would stay forever!
Marjorie has treated the front gate of Olive’s office like the front door of her own home. She knows how to welcome but be firm and helpful. For years she has been a mentor and counselor for our church staff.
My dear friend and encourager will be missed. Like family, we have walked through good and bad times together. When we buried her dear husband Fred a few years ago, Olive became even more of her home following days of grief and recovery. She has been that same support for countless others in the Olive Baptist Church family.
Thank you, Marjorie, for being a team player and setting the standard of warmth, excellence, and professionalism.
Football is here! Teams are kicking off this weekend. And do not forget teams are playing. This is not about individual players but units.
Church or any organization must remember team. Sir Edmund Hillary is the name credited with climbing Mt Everest. And indeed he was the first on the highest peak on Planet Earth. However, there were 400 people on the team that climbed the mountain. Hillary summed up the conquest saying, “When we climbed Everest, we were a team-and that made the difference.”
Come January it will be a team that wins the BCS. You were made for teamwork. And team always demands work.