Thankfulness by Rick Radcliffe
Coaches Huddle Update
But thank God! He gives us victory over sin and death through our Lord Jesus Christ. 1 Corinthians 15:57
Adam Vinateri was a kicking specialist who kicked in the NFL until the age of 47. He has been able to play for some of the sport’s best coaches in Bill Belichick, Bill Parcells, Tony Dungy and Pete Carroll. When asked to comment on which coach might have influenced him the most he stated, “I believe it was Marcy Farrand his elementary teacher in Rapid City, SD. I was at the crossroads in my life at the age of 7 years old.”
He had a learning disability and had trouble reading and spelling. He found himself in Farrand’s special-ed classes in 4th, 5th, and 6th grades. “God bless her, I love her to death.” She helped him to overcome his learning disability and during those years Adam frequently brought her cards thanking her for her time and patience. Adam ended up an honors student that earned admission to West Point. “I had great grades, Why? I learned early that I had to study twice as long and hard as everybody else. “I learned in the elementary that you just out-effort everybody and you are going to be successful. He is forever thankful to Mary Farrand and the difference they made in his life.
Everyday things happen to us that make us grateful and appreciative, yet we do not often express our thankfulness. Even Jesus who in Luke 17: 11-19 healed 10 lepers had this happen to him when only one of the 10 came back to thank him.
It would be easy to thank God for something that might save your life, but God expects His people to be thankful in all circumstances, for only He knows the beginning and the end. Thessalonians 5:18 says, Give thanks in everything, for this is God’s will for you in Jesus Christ. We need to count our blessings and name them one by one. God has given you His abundance and His protection.
In the same way we need to be thankful for acts of kindness and generosity we receive from others. Respond with a thankful spirit- you can never overuse the words, “thank you “Let others know how much you appreciate them.
Would you describe yourself as a thankful person? Why or why not?
What are you most thankful about at home? At school? In your sport? On the job?
Read Ephesians 5:20, 1Thessolonians 5:16-18, Colossians 3:15-17. What do these passages tell us about our attitude? What happens when we display a thankful heart?
What are some strategies you could implement to become more thankful?
Write out 10 things for which you could thank God. Share your list with someone close to you.
I heard a saying, “Losers assemble in small groups and complain, but winners assemble as a team and encourage one another.” Thankfulness doesn’t work well if it just stays in your head-you must speak it out loud. Proverbs 18:21 says” Life and death are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruit.” So, experience the life-giving power of thankfulness by verbally sharing good fruit with someone.
Parts of this devotion was taken from “One” a study on team Character.
I found this prayer in my devotions for the day and I thought it was fitting for the times.
Holy Father, when I look around me and see the state of the world today, I can’t help but think that you are looking for someone to stand in the gap and pray. Let me be that person! Amen.
Have a good week!
Rick Radcliffe | Central Iowa | Field Ambassador
Make Pastors Uncool Again
Below is an article someone recently shared with me. I thought it'd be a good read for all of us. Enjoy!
Christian Worldview Make Pastors Uncool Again
James White, November 6, 2020,
[This is a guest post from my dear friend and brother, John Cooper, lead singer for Skillet. When John asked me to proof read his article, I immediately asked if I could post it on our blog as well, and he gave me permission.]
Pastors shouldn’t be rock stars. Yeah I said it. A rock star promotes himself, builds his brand, and entertains people. It’s his job. A pastor is supposed to lay his life down for his sheep. He serves, he protects, and he equips the saints for the work of ministry (Ephesians 4:11-12). So why does it seem like many of our celebrity pastors are obsessively self-promoting, building their own brands, and protecting themselves by never preaching or teaching anything that would put them in Twitter prison? Yes, it’s sad and devastating to watch our leaders fall into sin, but when the foundation is built so poorly it shouldn’t be all that surprising.
Many Christians have been saying this for years and its past time that I join them: I’m tired of celebrity pastors. Pastors aren’t supposed to be cool. They’re not supposed to be fashion trend setters. We are ALL called to decrease, that Christ would increase both in our hearts and in our lives (John 3:30). HIS fame should be known, not OURS. Celebrity Pastors, get out of the way! You’re hogging the spotlight by making yourself the story. Instead, you should be taking some hits on the front lines by stating clearly what God commands. Celebrity pastors seldom do this. Instead, most of what we hear is rhetorical gobbledygook, veiled mysticism, and repackaged new-age movement self-help promotional material disguised as the work of the Spirit.
My pastor helped change my life in college. “Really, who?” Exactly. He remains faceless, nameless, and will never get the adoration of the world because his desire was for Jesus to have all of the glory. He taught me how to read and understand the Bible. He took my midnight phone calls, he instigated the necessary but uncomfortable conversations, he taught me the importance of sexual purity, and he even taught me how to paint a house and balance a checkbook. It almost sounds more like being a father, doesn’t it? Working, serving, teaching your kids and never expecting a “thank you” or a hand clap is what pastoring is all about.
Pastors, I am thankful for you. Many are serving faithfully and you will be rewarded by God. But for the pastors who are receiving their reward on earth, I have a request for you: please stop looking for adoration from the world. We don’t need you to look “awesome”, we need you to be fearless and preach the gospel according to the unchanging, authoritative Word of God. Stop finding clever ways to evade questions. You know the ones—God’s commands about sexual morality, Gods authority structure in the Church and at home, God’s righteousness that demands punishment of sin. Answer them. And answer them clearly for heaven’s sake. Please stop trying to find new ways to explain the perceived inconvenient truths of God’s Word. You ought to love what He loves and hate what he hates. This used to be a prerequisite for church leadership. Today, it’s deemed radical and even bigoted.
Play time is over. The battle is raging, and the field is full of wimps and boys who have never picked up a sword because it just “feels mean.” We need generals and leaders who don’t care about their brand, their look, their “likes”, or making allegiances with the world. In short, it’s time to make pastors uncool again. https://www.aomin.org/aoblog/christian-worldview/make-pastors-uncool-again/
We’ve heard at one time or another of generational sins – the sins we commit being adopted by the generations to follow. This past weekend I watched Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story. Though I don’t agree with their train of thinking…I can see how some of it relates to the spiritual warfare that we as Christians face on a regular basis. Rick Radcliffe even made mention of “the demon in my life” in his testimony he shared with us this past week. The band Skillet sings the song Monster…lyrics state, “I must confess that I feel like a monster.” Link to Full Lyrics; Link to Music Video
Let me ask each of us this…what secret “demons,” “monsters” do you keep caged up / just beneath the surface in your own lives? Have you become arrogant enough to believe that your children or grandchildren won’t one day pick up on the same struggles you’ve been facing for years? Satan is powerful and very observant. You might try to fool him or defeat him and his strategies on your own, but you’ll fail every time. You must lean into the Lord and allow Him to conquer the enemy as He’s already done time and time again, and will always do.
James 4:6-8 (NLT) And he gives grace generously. As the Scriptures say, “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” So humble yourselves before God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come close to God, and God will come close to you. Wash your hands, you sinners; purify your hearts, for your loyalty is divided between God and the world.
2 Timothy 1:7 (NLT) For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.
Fear doesn’t come from God. He didn’t intend for His creation to be a people who are afraid, but rather a people who trust in Him. But nonetheless, He can and will defeat your fears if you allow Him to…just hand them over and enjoy triumph/victory in Him.
1 Peter 5:7 (NLT) Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you.
 [Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story] English Transcripts
(12) SIFU: Kung fu is more than a system of fighting.
(13) It's a system of thought.
(14) You must out-think your opponent, whatever form he takes,
(15) because some of them will be more than just men.
(16) BRUCE: What else could it be, sifu?
(17) SIFU: We all have inner demons to fight.
(18) We call these demons fear and hatred and anger.
(19) If you don't conquer them, then a life of a hundred years
(20) is a tragedy.
(21) If you do, a life of a single day
(22) can be a triumph.
(1162) BRUCE: It comes, it goes.
(1163) SIFU: In your dream?
(1164) BRUCE: No, I'm always awake. It's not a dream, sifu.
(1165) When your father first brought you here, he told me everything.
(1166) He wanted you to learn wing chun
(1167) to protect yourself against man
(1168) and other forces.
(1169) I thought that was all superstition.
(1170) Superstition is a name the ignorant give to their ignorance.
(1171) You were special then, and you're special now.
(1172) That's why the demon wants you.
(1173) (REPLACING SWORD IN SHEATH)
(1174) We have spent a lot of time together, preparing you for this.
(1175) Good. Good.
(1176) (CHUCKLING) Very good.
(1177) What if I won't fight him?
(1178) You have no choice.
(1179) You're fighting for more than yourself.
(1180) What are you saying, sifu?
(1181) As I told you, this demon is your inner fear.
(1182) It doesn't matter how many men you defeat.
(1183) If you don't conquer your own fears,
(1184) you will pass your demons on to your children,
(1185) as your father passed his on to you.
Rick Radcliffe's Personal Testimony
Feel free to view this on YouTube as well at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A78E08CI-00&feature=youtu.be
Presentation By Rick Radcliffe
I would like to thank you for the opportunity to speak to you today. When Nate contacted me, he asked if I would tell you my story and a little bit about the Fellowship of Christian Athletes position that I am currently filling.
I grew up on a farm near Bristow Iowa. I was introduced to Jesus by my parents and several Sunday School teachers in my early years. My dad instilled in me a love of sports early as we traveled around the state attending softball games that he was playing in. This love of sports continued into my high school years with football and baseball becoming my favorites. Like many of you I continued in the church being confirmed in my junior high years. My mother was a church organist, so I attended church every Sunday. I was a church goer, but I never fully realized the reason for being in church. It was a habit for me.
When I left for college that habit disappeared as I rarely attended church during those years. There were lots of new temptations and I tried to experience them all. I didn’t realize it then, but God was looking out for me as even as I was falling farther away from him. Sports continued to be a big part of my life and coaching was the career that I wanted to pursue.
I graduated and found my first teaching and coaching job and I was still busy just enjoying life, and teaching and coaching. I got married to my college girlfriend and at that time decided the right thing to do was to start attending church again. I attended faithfully, but I never fully engaged. I made several moves always searching for that school that would let me fulfill my coaching dreams. Those moves allowed me to meet lots of great people in two different states.
Things were going great during that time. I was blessed with a wonderful daughter and my professional career was in great shape. But there was a demon in my life-I liked to party. This continued and eventually I ended up at BGM as the 7-12 Principal and head football coach. Throughout all this time my family and I attended church, but I always shied away from becoming too involved with anything that involved the church.
I was sailing along, raising my daughter and tending to the business of being a school principal and coach. But then a bombshell dropped. My wife announced out of the blue she was getting a divorce. You see the drinking had driven a stake into our marriage. You see I didn’t have a problem with alcohol I was just having fun and reducing the stress in my life.
I tried for several months to change her mind and attended counseling for our marriage. I started to pray to God to save my marriage and make things ok. After a couple of months, the day finally came when my family moved out of the house. When I returned that night to an empty house it was one of the worst days of my life. Not only did I lose my wife, but I didn’t get to see my daughter every day. I will never forget the hurt and look on her face when I told her that her mom and I were getting a divorce. I’ll never forget that conversation and the fear in her eyes that her family was splitting up. How could God do this to me? I prayed and prayed, and he didn’t answer the prayers.
I was angry with God and stopped attending church. Things got worse during the next fall as I lost my football position and my daughter moved to Northeast Iowa with her mom. Next to my family coaching football was my greatest passion. I was even angrier with God and fell further away from him. What good was Jesus when all that I loved was gone. I was alone and trying to do my job. I was a mess and it was a miracle that the BGM staff carried me through that year. Oh yeah, the drinking didn’t stop as I didn’t have a problem.
As I am looking back, I realize that God was giving me a gift by the name of Angie. She was beautiful and boy could she sing. I met her at a dance where she was playing and singing in a classic rock band. After we had been together for a while, she asked me to go to church and I said I wasn’t comfortable going. I resisted her attempts to get me to attend. I didn’t realize that this was God’s way of asking me back. She persisted and finally I agreed to attend the Easter Cantata being performed by a community choir in Brooklyn. I went and sat in the back and listened to the story told through the songs. I remember that something stirred inside of me and tears were streaming down my face. I cried that night as I realized how broken I had become, I had blamed God for all that had happened. I prayed that night to ask God to forgive me. I can’t remember the words as I was an emotional mess, but I do remember a calming peace that came later that night.
Angie and I got married and we started the job of merging two families into one which is a challenge. With her help and faith in God she helped me get rid of alcohol, which was still a big problem in my life. I know now that God was working in my life and had provided me with a loving wife and family again. I know that he opened the door and invited me back and gave me the power to kick the alcoholism. I have been able with the help of God and my family’s support to stay sober for 16 years. I have spent the last 17 years studying the Bible and learning how God would like me to live my life.
All of that has led me to where I am today. I retired as the Secondary Principal from BGM last May, after 24 years. As you know schools were shut down in March last year and suddenly, I had lots of time on my hands. I spent a lot of my time during the last year wondering what I was going to do with my life. I prayed for God to show me, what do you want me to do next. Once again, no answers.
Little did I know that God had another gift for me. I remembered when the FCA field representative came to our school and prayed for me. I was so touched that someone had taken the time to stop and say a prayer for me. I had become pretty involved in our church, singing in the choir and serving on committees. I thought what if I send an email to him and ask him how I could help.
I was presented with an opportunity to serve in a ministry for coaches and athletes. I prayed about the opportunity as I didn’t feel worthy enough to become involved in a ministry. Then I decided that I had a lot of experiences that I could give to the coaches and athletes by telling my story.
I was hired as the FCA Field Ambassador in Poweshiek County, which is in the Central Iowa FCA district. The Fellowship of Christian Athletes is a ministry that seeks to see the world transformed by Jesus Christ through the influence of coaches and athletes. Our mission is to lead every coach and athlete into a growing relationship with Jesus Christ and His church.
We pursue our vision and mission through the strategy of to and through the coach. Billy Graham said, “A coach will impact more people in one year than the average person will in an entire lifetime. FCA recognizes that the most strategic way to reach more athletes is to first reach the coach.
My job is to develop a coach’s ministry for the college and schools in Poweshiek County. Through the methods of engaging, equipping and empowering athletes I am working to help coaches and athletes to know and grow in Christ and lead others to do the same.
I have three goals that I am trying to accomplish:
Engage the coaches and develop a relationship by sharing our lives and the gospel.
Equip coaches and athletes to grow in Christ through God’s word.
Empower coaches and athletes to engage and equip others to know and grow in Christ.
As of today, I have been working to develop relationships with 70 coaches, three huddle leaders in Grinnell and Grinnell College who have had an active student huddle, four potential student huddle leaders at BGM and Montezuma.
My vision is to begin to see sports redeemed through the work of solid, sold-out Christian coaches that have something to offer their athletes. They will be able to coach with purpose and destiny. Their spiritual impact will be felt on their team, campus and community. Ministering to and through the coach has the potential to change the landscape of sports. To redeem the world of sports would be amazing, and it all starts with the Coach!
The Fellowship of Christian Athletes ministry depends on funding partners to come along- side the ministry with support. If you have interest in this ministry and can see the potential impact that is could have on the Poweshiek county area I would love to have a conversation with you on how you can help to keep this ministry in Poweshiek County.
I have learned a lot over the last 17 years about the power of God. Now instead of blaming him I look to him for help. I now know that we have to have faith and hope in our Lord as he has the best plan for us as stated in Jerimiah 29:11.
For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.
So, in times of trouble you can focus on the Good News:
Focusing on what will happen one the storm has passed will give you the strength to overcome moments of doubt and fear.
As stated in 1 Peter 1:13
Therefore, with minds that are alert and sober, set your hope on the grace to be brought to you when Jesus Christ is revealed at His coming.
God doesn’t give us anything we cannot handle. The struggles will only make you stronger.
As stated in1 Peter 5:10
And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast.
God works 24/7 to make our lives better, even, if it doesn’t feel that way at the time.
As stated in Ephesians 1: 18-19
I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people and his incomparably great power for us who believe.
Our hope should never deplete, because we know God will always be there for us.
As stated in Hebrews 10:23
Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful
I would like to finish today with the following prayer:
Jesus thank You for the journey you have me on. Help me to completely trust You and praise You during this process. Strengthen me when I get weary. I pray that I continue to follow you and bring you glory. Use me so others may know you. In Jesus’s name we pray. Amen
Hello My Name Is...
Each one of us has a story…a gospel story. That’s what I love about Ox Strong – we’ve created an environment where men can come share their stories with us. Stories that will prayerfully impact the lives of our listening and or reading audiences. Just remember…no story is pointless, meaningless, or purposeless. Just like in the Bible, each one is allowed by God, and meant to bring Himself glory.
This past week my wife drew my attention to a story I’d like to share with each of you. Concerning his song Hello My Name Is, Matthew West once said that, “I’m passionate about the power of a story that lies within every single one of us. Six years ago I’d gone through a personal trial where I had near career-ending vocal cord surgery. And it was through that experience that I felt like God put it on my heart that He was going to restore my voice, in time, but that He was going to use my voice to give a voice to other people. And so some of your viewers might not know, but the songs they hear on the radio, they were all inspired by somebodies personal testimony…God can speak through the story of your life…[may it be our desire to say that,] I’m going to tell my testimony.
One of the things I love about all of our stories is there’s two things we have in common – all of our stories are unique and one of a kind, but all of our stories start out broken, right? All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God [(Romans 3:23)]. And yet all of our stories were ultimately designed to become a redemption story…[Remember,] God can redeem our most broken chapters…And [remember as well that] we’re all children of The One True King.”
It’s refreshing to continue coming back to the old Hymn…Blessed Assurance…(The chorus lyrics include: “this is my story, this is my song, praising my Savior all the day long”). Thanks to each of you who have been willing to share your story…looking forward to hearing more in the years to come.
Who have you shared your story with recently, if ever? It needs to be heard.
Practicing His Presence,
Nate Smith is a college baseball and football coach, a husband, a father of 6 girls, grandpa to 3 granddaughters, a police chaplain, and has a passion to see men grow in Christ.
#girldad including granddaughter