Thursday, September 11, 2008

Legendary Coaches: Pat Summit and Lute Olsen

Theme: Legendary Coaches - Pat Summit and Lute Olsen

Large Group Lesson

I. Understanding Discipline

A. Pat Summit

1. Basic Facts and Accomplishments from Wikipedia

2. Show DVD Special Feature from “We Are Marshall” starting at 12:51 and ending at 18:05

3. Coach Summit: taught that hard work is the goal to success

B. 1 Corinthians 9:24-27

1. Paul see running a race as an analogy for spiritual discipline

2. Only one wins 1st place in a race.

3. As strict physical discipline prepares us to achieve athletic goals so must spiritual disciplines help us to grow in our relationship to God and others

II. Understanding the Fundamentals

A. Lute Olsen

1. Basic Facts and Accomplishments from Wikipedia

2. Show DVD Special Feature from “We Are Marshall” starting at 18:06 and ending at 24:12

3. Coach Olsen: taught that there are no quick fixes if you want to be good at something. You must learn the fundamentals.

B. 1 Timothy 4:11-16

1. Paul encouraged Timothy to master the fundamentals.

2. Paul understood the importance of education AND application, both are required to master the fundamentals.

III. Conclusion: How will this apply to your small group?

1. How will you discipline yourself to grow in your faith? How can others help you stay motivated and focused?

2. Can you clarify the fundamentals of your faith? What are some “spiritual exercises that can help you become spiritually strong? What are you willing to do this year that will sharpen you?

Theme: Legendary Coaches - Pat Summit and Lute Olsen

Small Group Discussion

Questions that can be used for discussion:

What specifically impacted you about Pat Summit?

Why does the fear of failure have a way of keeping us from even trying sometimes?

Why is hard work so hard?

Why does our culture seem to champion instant gratification over hard work?

Which is hard work and which is instant gratification?

- having sex now with anyone who is willing or saving myself for the right person I want to spend the rest of my life with?

- eating to stay healthy or eating fast food?

- cheating on a test or studying to do well on a test?

- steroids to improve athleticism or training in the gym day after day?

- serving others or serving myself?

- trying to think the best of others or gossiping?

- bullying those I know I can push over or standing up for those who can’t stand up for themselves?

- doing honest work for a fair wage or spending my money gambling or on the lottery?

- the abuse of substances in order to feel good or finding satisfaction through overcoming difficulties in your life?

Instant gratification is ultimately a LIE. Real lasting gratification comes from knowing you did the RIGHT thing and you did it to the best of your abilities.

What specifically impacted you about Lute Olsen?

What are the fundamentals that a basketball player must master?
A baseball player?
A runner?
A volleyball player?
A football player?

What are some spiritual disciplines that are fundamental to spiritual growth? What do YOU want to commit to as a small group for this year?

Spend time in prayer as a small group on these topics:

1. Prayer of Confession: If we are all honest with ourselves, we are all guilty of giving into the lie of “instant gratification” at some level. Confess it before God and your small group so that they can support you and encourage you to take the high road of discipline (hard work) to become a better person.

2. Prayer of Dedication: Determine what you want to commit to doing this year in your spiritual education and the application of it. Dedicate yourself to God and begin your “spiritual training”!

Legendary Coaches: Jack Lengyel and Bobby Bowden

Theme: Legendary Coaches - Jack Lengyel and Bobby Bowden

Large Group Lesson

I. Understanding the Big Picture

A. Jack Lengyel

1. Basic Facts and Accomplishments from Wikipedia

2. Show DVD Special Feature from “We Are Marshall” starting at 1:50 and ending at 5:13

3. Coach Lengyel: inspired his players to honor the memories of those who have gone on before us understanding that we have a small part in a much bigger picture.

B. Author of Hebrews understood this

1. Chapter 11: by faith Abel, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, Rahab, read v. 32-39.

a. These people left a legacy that has been passed on to us

b. Their faith lead the way for us to do great things NOW!

2. Hebrews 12:1-3 - “a great cloud of witnesses” inspire us to do our best!

II. Understanding our Main Priority!

A. Bobby Bowden

1. Basic Facts and Accomplishments from Wikipedia

2. Show DVD Special Feature from “We Are Marshall” starting at 5:14 and ending at 12:50

3. Coach Bowden coached with LOVE as the main priority.

B. A Case Study of John

1. Jesus teaches him to love in John 13:34-35

2. John passes it on to others in 1 John 4:7-12

III. Conclusion: How will this apply to your small group?

1. Can you fully grasp all the people in your life who have brought you into this moment right now? Can you fully appreciate the flow of history that has brought you to right now?

2. Do you understand the main priority of our small groups? It is to love and be loved. It is to experience fully God’s love for us so that we too can be agents of his love to others.

Theme: Legendary Coaches - Jack Lengyel and Bobby Bowden

Small Group Discussion

Questions that can be used for discussion:

What specifically impacted you about Jack Lengyel?

Who are some of the people that have had a significant impact on shaping who you are today?

How can we honor those who have help to make us who we are?

What specifically impacted you about Bobby Bowden?

Does “love” seem like a good coaching strategy? Do you think the Bengals should try this approach?

Coach Bowden’s methods are extremely effective. How can we implement love within the context of our small groups?

Love takes effort and work. Love is not a warm, fuzzy feeling that comes and goes. Love is saying I will commit myself to the well-being of others. Some people are easy to love and some people are not so easy. Can you commit to being sure that love is the main priority of your small group?

Spend time in prayer as a small group on these topics:

1. Prayer of Thanksgiving: for all of those who have come before you to bring You to this moment in time. The freedoms you have as an American and as a Christian.

2. Prayer of Commitment: Pray that LOVE is the main priority of your small group this year. That you all look out for each others best interests, celebrate good time, hold each other up through tough times, defend each other at school, and hold each other accountable through times of

Legendary Coaches: Introduction

These outlines are lessons used for youth groups. There is a lesson for the large group and then a discussion sheet used for small group breakouts for the purpose of dialogue. The theme of the small groups is "Legendary Coaches". It is based off of a special feature of the same name on the DVD movie entitled "We Are Marshall". If you want original documents e-mail a request to Enjoy. This was used in the context of starting off our small groups at the beginning of a new school year. It helped to give definition and clarity to the role of the small groups.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Browns / Steelers Jokes

In honor of the best NFL rivalry of all time I will now try to compile all of the best Browns-Steelers jokes that I can find!

1. In a school just outside Pittsburgh, a first grade teacher Explained to her class that she is a Steelers Fan. She asked her students to raise their hands if they are Steelers fans too. Not really knowing what a Steelers fan is, but wanting to be liked by their teacher, their hands all fly into the air with one exception. A little boy named Timmy has not gone along with the crowd. The teacher asks him why he has decided to be different. "Because I am not a Steelers fan." says Timmy. The teacher asks "Then what are you?" Timmy says "I am a proud Cleveland Browns fan!" The teacher is a little perturbed now, her face slightly red. She asks Timmy why he is a Browns fan. "Well, my Mom and Dad are Browns fans so I'm a Browns fan, too." Timmy responds. The teacher is now angry. "That's no reason," she says loudly. "What if your Mom was a moron and your dad was an idiot? Timmy smiled and said, "Then I'd be a Steelers fan."

2. Four NFL Football fans want to find out who is the most loyal to their team, a Chicago Bears fan, a Green Bay Packers fan, a Cleveland Browns fan and a Pittsburgh Steelers fan. They climb to the top of a high mountain. The Bears fan, wanting to prove he is most loyal, yells at the top of his voice, "This is for the Chicago Bears!", and jumps off the mountain. The Packers fan, not wanting to be outdone by his rival, also yells at the top of his voice, "This is for the Green Bay Packers!", and jumps off the mountain. Now the Browns fan, knowing in his mind that he is the most loyal, yells at the top of his voice, "This is for the Cleveland Browns!", and pushes the Steelers fan off the mountain.

3. A Browns fan, a Steelers fan and a Titans fan were all in Saudi Arabia, sharing a smuggled crate of booze. All of a sudden the Saudi police rushed in and arrested them. The mere possession of alcohol is a severe offense in Saudi Arabia, so for the terrible crime of actually being caught consuming the booze, they were sentenced to death! However, with the help of very good lawyers, they were able to successfully appeal their sentence down to life imprisonment. By a stroke of luck, it was a Saudi national holiday the day their trial finished, and the extremely benevolent Sheik decided they could be released after receiving just 20 lashes each of the whip. As they were preparing for their punishment, the Sheik suddenly said, "It's my first wife's birthday today, and she has asked me to allow each of you one wish before your whipping." The Titans fan was first in line (he had drunk the least), so he thought about this for a while and then said, "Please tie a pillow to my back." This was done, but the pillow only lasted 10 lashes before the whip went through. The Titans fan had to be carried away bleeding and crying with pain when the punishment was done. The Steelers fan was next up (he almost finished an entire fifth by himself), and after watching the scene, said "All Right! Please fix two pillows on my back." But even two pillows could only take 15 lashes before the whip went through again, sending the Steelers fan out crying like a little girl. The Browns fan was the last one up (he had finished off the crate), but before he could say anything, the Sheik turned to him and said, "You support the greatest team in the world, your team has some of the best and most loyal football fans in the world. For this, you may have two wishes!" "Thanks, your most Royal highness," the Browns fan replies. "In recognition of your kindness, my first wish is that you give me not 20, but 100 lashes." "Not only are you an honorable, handsome and powerful man, you are also very brave," the Sheik says with an admiring look on his face. "If 100 lashes is what you desire, then so be it. And your second wish? What is it to be?" the Sheik asks. "Tie the Steelers fan to my back."

4. A guy from Nebraska, a guy from Cleveland, and a guy from Pittsburgh are out walking along the beach together one day. They come across a lantern and a Genie pops out of it.
"I will give you each one wish. That's three wishes total," says the Genie.
The guy from Nebraska says, "I am a farmer, my dad was a farmer, and my son will also farm. I want the land to be forever fertile in Nebraska." With a blink of the Genie's eye - 'POOF' - the land in Nebraska was forever made fertile for farming.
The guy from Pittsburgh was amazed, so he said, "I want a wall built around Pittsburgh, so that no Browns fans can come into our precious city." Again, with a blink of the Genie's eye - 'POOF' - there was a huge wall around Pittsburgh.
The Browns fan says, "I'm curious. Please tell me more about this wall." The Genie explains, "Well, it's about 150 feet high, 50 feet thick and nothing can get in or out."
The Browns fan says, "Fill it up with water."

Tuesday, September 02, 2008 - One By One

Let your voice be heard! Join the cause. This must define us as a people: as a country and as a church.


This is the deal. This is what we should be about. All of us. Ironically, this is what the church SHOULD have been about and now the very people they vilified (Hollywood, entertainment industry) are doing what the modern day church should have been doing all along. And you tell me God doesn't have a sense of humor!?!?

Grand Theft Jesus: Part 2

There was another thought that Robert S. McElvaine unpacked that got me thinking. In his chapter "All About Eve" he explains the story of Adam and Eve as a metaphor for the transition that humans went through as a hunter-gatherer community into an agricultural community. I never have heard this explaination before but it was facinating to say the least and made me take a look at the first few chapters of Genesis a little differently.
Here is where I have to disagree though. The story of the Fall is not a diatribe against the female/feminine. Whether you want to take this story literally or metephorically, I believe that the main emphasis is on the separation that occured between God and the human race. A careful reading of the text in no way vilifies Eve over Adam. And shame on those who have demonized women over a misunderstanding of this text. The entire human race is separated from a Holy God because sin infected that relationship, as well as the relationships between humans.
Now throughout the book McElvaine seemed to have a real problem with this concept of sin infecting the human race. How an when is this "sin nature" passed on? I don't think that there is some "sin" gene or something phisiologically that we can point to. But I can tell you as a parent, that in the simple act of raising children, I have been able to observe this sin nature first hand. I promise you that I have never taught my kids to cheat, lie, steal, be mean to each other, be selfish, etc. Really, my kids are great kids! But in parenting I always have to use discipline, guidance, advice and boundaries in order to bring out good behavior in them. Strangely enough, that does not come natural for them. I really wish it did at times! And to let my kids off the hook a little, I know this to be true of me too. Left to my own devices, it comes naturally to want to do things that are wrong. It takes courage, integrity, prayer, discipline and character, with Jesus Christ as my focal point, to strive to live how Jesus calls us to live. And when we come into a new life in Christ it is never meant to be with an attitude towards others as if we now have bragging rights to heaven as we look forward to everyone elses demise. On the contrary, we should be so consumed with the love that God has for us that our lives become a shining light to others in a way that they too are attracted to the light. If we understand the heart of God towards the human race we must be compelled to love deeply all people everywhere sharing our lives with them so that they experience God's extreme love through us.

Monday, September 01, 2008

Grand Theft Jesus: It is Time for Us to Reclaim Our Faith from the Jesus Thieves!

Ever since I was a Junior in High School I think I can say that I have had a really hard time over several decades with what is associated with Christianity when it comes to what you see on TV. I thought that Jim and Tammy Bakker and Jimmy Swaggert and Jerry Falwell were such a strange brand of Christianity that really made wanting to be a Christian actually difficult to do. But it appears that not much has changed as we still have over-the-top spokesmen for the Christian faith who make the rest of us look, well, bad! Many, many times over the years I personally wrestle with whether or not the American church has completely missed the mark of true Christ-like faith. With many of the experiences I have had over the years I wonder why it is that we have created a Christian ghetto by pulling out of the culture in the 20th century and creating our own little (very bizarre) sub-culture; why we think if we just get the right people in politics all will be better (Bush proved that theory wrong even though I think Gore and Kerry would not have been better. They were their own worst enemy.); and why there has become an air of arrogance as certain evangelicals manipulate fear for their own self-interests (end times theories, the homosexual agenda, the Operation Rescue side of the anti-abortion groups, etc.).
Then along comes Robert S. McElvaine with his book "Grand Theft Jesus: The Highjacking of Religion in America." Although I do not agree with everything that McElvaine says in his book, he did push me to see how far the modern day church has gotten from the real teachings of Jesus in their pursuit of a form of Christianity that is more influenced by our own materialistic, consumer culture and Constantinian influence for power. I am truly afraid that the modern day church has gone so far off of the mark that we have more in common with WalMart than that of Jesus Christ. In fact, I even wonder at times that if Jesus did return today, how the church really would respond to him or maybe how Jesus would really respond to the current church.
One of the highlights of this book is when McElvaine brings out the example of the Amish response to the senseless mass murder of their own people. They immediately forgave, like within 48 hours of the actual murders. This is one of the most amazing modern-day examples of real hard-core faith putting into practice the teachings of Jesus.
I had to disagree though on McElvaine's belief that all religions are essentially the same. I know that pluralism is becoming more and more popular and if you look at all religions on a surface level it is easy to assume that all roads lead to the same God. This is what stops me from going down the road of pluralism: the cross. This is the crux of Christianity that Jesus had to die for our sins to conquer death and provide a way for his righteousness to cover us and bring us into a right relationships with God, AND transform us to be more like Christ. Now, if there were many other ways for people to get to God then what logical sense would it make for Him to have his Son crucified for us. If there was just one other way to God then this path that Jesus took would seem to come from a barbaric, evil and sadistic God. Why would He have his Son crushed on our behalf if there was another way? But if Jesus is the only way then we see a beautiful picture of a God who loves us so much that He sent his one and only Son so that we may have life through him.
McElvaine rightly asks the question of what is this new life in Christ supposed to look like? This is a good question that I believe the church needs to spend more of it time unpacking. I have grown up in churches that have placed such a high priority on evangelism that we have forgotten what it really means to be a follower of Jesus. In fact, I have always argued that if we discipled people into being Christ-followers in their day-to-day lives, evangelism would happen naturally without us having to create programs to "share our faith". Our own lives would reflect the teachings of Jesus in such a way that our actions would speak louder than our words! Discipleship is truly a lost art in many American churches. It is time we stop defining ourselves by what we are NOT and begin to simply follow the teachings of Jesus and living them out in our day to day lives. And I don't mean living them out at church (although that may be a good start) but in our families, in the workplace, in our neighborhoods, and around the world.

Man asks people to pray for rain during Obama's DNC speech

I find it very ironic, almost humorous that this Conservative, evangelical group has the audacity to make a commercial like this against their opposition in light of the present day results. Obama had amazing weather for his equally amazing final day at the DNC. The RNC is crippled because of a category 3 hurricane. Now if I follow Dobson's logic that God will speak through the weather, well then these evangelicals need to do some serious soul searching because God don't seem to be on their side if, and only if, I am to follow their very own misguided, and illogical logic. I hope to hear out the Republicans this week and watch the debates coming up so I can make a prayerful and well-thought out vote come this November. But once again, if I am supposed to follow the logic of the apparent leader of the American evangelicals, well they put out their fleece and God showed up and answered, but not the way they expected. Speaking of whom, thank God that this was not a hurricane with the destructive force of Katrina.

I am Done with The Bengals

Well, about just over three years ago when I moved down to Cincinnati I was excited just to be back in Ohio. Originally I was from North East Ohio which would make me a die-hard Cleveland Browns fan for life. As the saying goes, you can take a person out of Cleveland but you can't take Cleveland out of the person. As I acclimated myself to my new surroundings I thought that since the Bengals were an Ohio team I could make some room in my heart for them along with the Browns and the Buckeyes.
Now last year didn't look so good, as I had to endure watching Chad Johnson act like an idiot. I tried to tolerate it because I know people directly connected to the Bengals organization and they told me Chad is not a Dennis Rodman type but a fun, lovable type that just hams it up for fun. So, okay Chad be goofy even though it only brings attention to yourself and it disrupts team unity and focus. Then just as I was about to ease into another year of Ohio football, Chad has to go and make a complete fool of himself comparing himself to Micheal Phelps as a better swimmer?!?!? Chad, you need to concentrate on your sport because if I remember, you did not have a good year last year. I would put money on Phelps as having a much better career at FOOTBALL in comparison to you!

And then if that wasn't enough, the Bengals organization decides to hire back Chris Henry? This guy is bad news and does not deserve to play in the NFL for anybody. How do you possibly run a team with personalities and criminals like this??? Would any of the great coaches ever tolerate players like this? The Bengals organization has a major disconnect with what makes for a great player besides just physical talent. It takes cooperation, team work, character, etc. Just go to John Wooden's website and look at the pyramid of success. He understood what it took to make championship teams!

Then if that weren't enough Carson Palmer talks smack about The Ohio State Buckeyes?!?! This was almost as bad as Le Bron James showing up to an Indians play-off game wearing a Yankees hat. Love Le Bron, but when you are taking a paycheck from Ohio, keep you loyalty close to home! Don't be broadcasting your loyalties to the opposition on national television or talking trash about the most popular college team in the state!!!!! With all this said I think the Ohio State Buckeyes could even destroy the Bengals on their own turf right now. So keep it up Carson, shot your mouth off about the college team up North. Maybe if you played like them Cincinnati would get a team that they could actually cheer for!

I hear by denounce any loyalty I had for the Cincinnati Bengals. I give my loyalty completely and entirely to the Browns, and as any Browns fan knows, I will also cheer for the Bengals when, and only when, they play against Pittsburgh!