Josh Steed's Blog
Author of "Faith & Football"

Jan
29

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 I had a college student ask me last week why God allows bad things to happen. She told me that her college professor was questioning her and her classmates and every time they tried to give a reason, he would question the students further. Even though I know that ultimately it is God who has to touch a persons’ heart, it often helps to hear things from another person. The following is my response to the college student. I wanted to share it with you also. 

“The reason we have evil in the world at all is because if God didn’t allow Adam and Eve the option to disobey him and thus bring sin into the world then humans would be nothing more than robots in a sense. We would only obey God and do everything He told us without a choice and that would be fine except for God’s divine nature of LOVE. Love always demands a choice or it isn’t love. Love can’t be forced on someone or it isn’t love at all. God didn’t want a race of robots when He created humans. He created us with the choice to love or hate, to obey or disobey. He knew we would disobey but that He would make a way for us to be forgiven by His grace alone if we would choose to accept this gift of grace that would come only by sending His one and only Son to offer Himself as a sinless sacrifice to atone for our sins. When we sin we use our flesh to do so and our flesh is made alive by BLOOD. That is why God demands blood to atone for sin but not just any blood. It has to be sinless blood in order to pay for sin. That’s why we can’t save ourselves because we are all sinners. That’s why God became a man and dwelt among us (and never sinned) and gave Himself (sinless blood) to pay for our sins. So that’s why we have evil in the world from the start…because without the choice to disobey we would have no true LOVE.” 

Then I offered 6 brief reasons why God continues to allow suffering:

1. To keep us from getting too attached to this life (to make us seek God Hebrews13:14)
2. To bring out our best (ex. Family crisis,9/11, gives us a chance to show our love is real 1st Peter 4:19)
3. Gives us a chance to prove our critics wrong (1st Peter 2:15
4. Makes us thankful for what we haven’t suffered (when we see others who have it worse than we do. 1st Peter 5:9)
5. Makes us rely more on God than ourselves (we should stay fully relying on God but we often wait until we are suffering greatly and have no where else to turn 2nd Cor. 7:10)
6. Prepares us to be more sympathetic towards others (you can help them in their pain cause you have been there before Romans 12:15)

I hope and pray these reasons and explanation have encouraged you. God loves us and has never abandoned us, even when it appears that all hope is lost you can always count on His faithfulness in the end. And if you ever doubt His love for you, just look at the cross. He loves you that much. 

Thanks for reading,

Josh Steed
Phil. 4:13

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Apr
26

Do you ever find yourself feeling unsatisfied with life? Not just certain aspects of your life that aren’t what you want them to be but rather life in general. Do you ever have a feeling deep inside that longs to be somewhere else? Have you ever been at a party or an event when you should be extremely happy because all is well and everyone is having fun and for some reason something inside you knows that something is still missing in life? I have had those feelings for years and years.

Even after I gave my heart and life to Christ as Lord I still found myself longing for another home. I am not talking about my physical place of residence either. I can remember laying in bed at night in the warmth and safety of a nice home with healthy children filling the other 3 bedrooms. The bills were always paid on time and we weren’t “wealthy” but we had all we needed and more at times. I would be so joyful inside my heart just thinking about our lives and how God had rescued me and my wife from the lives we used to live when we didn’t know Him. I was indeed a happy man! Even so…I still found myself longing to be somewhere else. Somewhere in the presence of my Creator and I know this longing doesn’t go away with time.

My life has been turned completely upside down since December 2010 with problems within my family. I have endured some of the worst possible nightmares and yet here I am…still alive and still serving God with what’s left of my life. I haven’t written a blog in several months because it was too painful to try to inspire and help someone else when my own world was collapsing around me. I have turned down several radio interviews including one right before the Super Bowl. I cancelled speaking engagements and preaching opportunities too. I cried out to God and begged Him to comfort me and tell my why this was happening to me and my family. I felt like giving up completely and when I was having the worst night of my adult life, I opened up my Bible and began reading and weeping and I read the book of Job. Job lost everything and people talked bad about him and they accused him of doing wrong and he hadn’t done anything but serve God with his life. His own wife even told him to just, “curse God and die!”. His close friends accused him of wrong. His children were all killed and he lost all his wealth. Last but not least he became deathly ill and was in severe pain constantly. Job finally just told God that he was not going to turn away from Him and that even if God were to take everything he had away from him, including his very life, he would serve and love Him to the end.

After reading Job and looking at my situation I realized that I had the strength inside to keep going on and fighting the good fight till the end. I knew that even though I was watching my family fall apart I was still loved and God was still in control of my future if I would just learn to trust Him and praise Him in the storm. I had to let go of everything I had ever grown to love and adore and trust God to care for them and for me. It hurt so bad and was so scary to let go and trust God with my entire life but I had no choice and trying to fix the situation myself was futile. I knew that I was having a Job like time in my life and that God was going to have to see me through or I was never going to make it.

Here I am almost 5 months later and things are still not great for the family. I have lived through a nightmare for months and my health was in jeopardy too. I went to the hospital yesterday and had a scope ran down my throat to see why my throat was closing off so much so that I couldn’t eat anything without choking. Dr.’s were scared that I had a mass or some sort of cancer in my esophagus but it turned out to be swollen from stress and acid reflux. I got a couple of shots for the inflammation and some medicine to take care of the acid reflux and I will live to love another day. God saw me through yet another trial and I told my family all along that even if He wanted to allow me to die, I would never turn my back on Him and I would be faithful up until death.

As I start a new chapter on my life I am still homesick to be with my Creator but I know that I have work here to do. I know that even though it seems like Satan has destroyed much of my life and has definitely hurt my ministry and caused some to doubt my character, I know that I will prove the critics wrong by the way I live day-to-day. I am not giving up on God, my family, or my ministry. I will keep posting scripture and posting blogs to help others. I am going to speak and teach and guide people to Jesus Christ because He is my best friend, my Savior, but most importantly, He is my Lord! If God wants to give me a new family or if He wants me to suffer some more then bring it on! The point is, I love God with all I have and am on the inside of my soul. There is nothing in this world that will ever happen to stop me from serving Him faithfully. I know Satan won a few battles but I know who wins the war in the end and I am enlisted in His army and this soldier won’t turn and walk away anymore. If anyone needs me to pray for them or to encourage them in life then just let me know and I will pour out my life for God’s glory. My life may have been turned upside down but I am still alive, God is still on His throne, and He is still worthy of my praise because of who He is and all that He has done for us.

As each year passes I find my self thinking more and more about the future and what is in store for me, my family, and the world around us. I enjoy so much about life and just getting up each day and going through the routine that brings so many people into my life. I love spending time kids and just laughing and hanging out with them. I like traveling the nation to tell the masses about the love of Jesus that can change their lives. I like reading all the emails and messages I get from people across the country who have had positive things happen in their lives as a result of God using our family and ministry to lead them to a better life. I have enjoyed meeting NFL superstars along the way and walking in the college locker-rooms and meeting some of the greatest athletes in the world. I enjoy watching my kids get suited up in camouflage to go hunting with me and watching them get excited when a big buck steps out. I like watching my youngest daughter giggle with nervous joy as she rides a knee-board across Lake Degray in the summer. I love watching my 2 teens grow into godly young men and women who aren’t ashamed to take a stand for their beliefs even when it’s not popular to do so. I like watching my oldest daughter lead her basketball team to victory. I like seeing her twin brother catch a long pass and take it into the end zone during his high-school football games. I like seeing my middle daughter smile at me and squeeze me so hard I want to yell every time I see her. The list could go on and on with all the things in life that I love and that bring me joy but despite all of this…I am  still homesick.

I long to go be with Jesus sometimes and each day I find myself smiling and thinking about the glories of heaven and my hope of eternal life. I find comfort in God’s Word for me and a purpose for my life. Even though I want to be at home with my Lord I know that I have been left behind on this earth for a reason. I have work to do before I go home. There are people all around who don’t know Christ and who don’t have peace inside that I have found in Jesus and I know that it’s my job to try to point them in the right direction and to be an example for others. At times I feel like such a failure and a bad example for others to follow but I try so hard to live in such a way that others will not be hindered from seeing Christ in my life. I am far from perfect and I have sin in my life that haunts me each day but that sin is something that is fighting a losing battle because God is still at work in me and He is chipping away the flaws in my life. He provides me with guidance and love when I don’t know where to turn and He gives me strength to keep pressing on and to finish this race in a worthy manner. So my encouragement to my readers is this: Just because life sometimes gets bad and times get so bad that you just want to cry or even die, just remember who died for you and who is waiting for you in heaven. We have a God of grace and forgiveness if we will only turn from all the known sins in our lives and surrender it all to Him as Lord. He never promises that bad things won’t happen to faithful Christians but He does promise that He will be with us through the storm. So if you are in the middle of one of life’s storms right now, be encouraged and don’t give up. Try praising God and reading the book of Job and He will see you through the pain. Thank you for taking time to read and God bless you all!

Oct
13

Stay'n CloseIt’s not just football season, it’s a season to reconnect, and the value of a mom goes far beyond dollars! My mother died when I was 9 years old and I wish I could have her here with me to help me through the tough times in life. This article is for all those moms out there who want a closer relationship with their teenage sons or who want to stay close to them.  Moms, especially single ones, often find life to be hard when raising a son who loves sports. When her son was young he looked up to her and didn’t mind listening to her advice and guidance but this usually changes radically as he gets older and starts playing sports.

Most young men who play sports, particularly football, start growing away from their mother’s guidance and leadership when they get heavily involved in the sport. This is somewhat normal and the son will generally start looking to his father more often for advice at this point in his life.
This can be a problem because he still needs his mothers’ advice and encouragement and she still has a lot to offer him on his journey through his teen years. Many dads are too busy, not around, or simply not used to being very involved with the raising of their sons because the mom has always been there for him up until now.
That is why mom needs to make a few adjustments to her approach at reaching her son and make sure that she does not lose her influence on him too soon.
Do not just throw your hands up and give up on him. He is growing up but he is not an adult yet, even though he may start trying to talk like one and smell like one after practice. He does not realize it but he needs mom now more than ever, especially if his dad is not very close to him.
You just need to be able to put the life-lessons that he needs into terms and concepts that he can relate to and understand. He often thinks something like, “Mom doesn’t even know what an audible is or a two-point conversion, how can she understand what I am going through as a teenage boy?”
He sees a huge disconnect between you that he was once unaware of. You can close this gap and gain some respect back from him by taking the following steps.
1. First of all, you should read a book on the basics of football and try to learn the fundamentals of the sport. This will not be as difficult as you might think. You don’t have to go overboard and try to learn everything about the sport but get a basic understanding of the game.
2. A second way to spend some time reconnecting with your son is to play video games of football with him. You need to practice a little each day and get familiar with the game system he plays. I know this will require some time but it could really pay off for you and help you to bond.
You will learn plenty of terms and concepts of the game doing this and be sure to ask your son to teach you about the game. This will likely be awkward at first and you may feel like it’s too difficult but hang in there. He will eventually gain more respect for you and enjoy the time together when you finally score on him or even beat him from time to time.
3. One last tip is to spend some time watching some sports networks and football games on television. Try to learn as much about the game as possible before you watch the game so you will not have to ask your son a bunch of questions during the game as this is a huge distraction. As you become more knowledgeable about the sport you will be able to start reaching out to your son in tangible ways that he can relate to.
There are several reasons why it will be beneficial to take these steps to learn more about football. You will bond with your son and find that you spend more time together as you used to when he was younger.
You will be able to gain more of his respect and he will value your input in his life more because he will realize that you have more in common with him than he previously realized. You can also use parallels between football and life to reach him in unique ways.
It is important to communicate with your children in ways they can understand and relate to.
He can learn many life-lessons from football if you will make the connection for him. This connection between his favorite sport and those principles and values you want to instill in him will make a lasting difference in his life.
My book, Faith & Football, parallels life with football from a Christian perspective. Parents and athletes alike are gaining a new perspective on life that they never thought about and it is making a difference in many homes across the nation. My hope and prayer is for mom’s and their sons to stay close through all stages of life as they help shape the lives of our next generation.
Sep
28

The rain hides my tears, the clouds shade my fears as the lightning reminds me how fragile life is and how powerful You are. The thunder baffles my pathetic attempt to scream silently that I just wanna go home!

But all the world sees is Your smile on my face as they marvel at the shadow of a man I’ve become as the darkness within gives way to Your glorious and terrifying light that penetrates my soul and sustains me through the storms of life.

I’m my own worst enemy desperately clinging to an anchor while begging You to save me from myself. When will You come back or free me from this world for I fear failing You and I just wanna be with You where its safe from all that is within my fallen state of existence. Every breath is one step closer to life on the other side.

I tell my story to bring You glory and muster up all the joy I can in hopes that just maybe You could use it to make a difference in what’s been left behind. This is my song to You oh God and the cry of my heart is to know You and make You proud. –Josh Steed

Sep
20

I spent the weekend in Commerce, GA with my wife and our 14-year-old twins. We drove for 13 hours on Friday and stayed at a Holiday Inn Express there in Commerce on Friday and Saturday night. The kids took at day out of school for the trip and we were planning on spending the weekend together as a family just having fun and spreading the love of Christ to any and every one we came in contact with. I had a book signing scheduled at 10am at the UGA Bookstore at the stadium on Saturday the 18th and we had 4 tickets to the game too.

I borrowed a Santa suit to wear during the game to get a good laugh and try to get the family on ESPN so we had plenty of laughs along the way. After staying up late that night at the hotel, (dancing in the Santa suit in the window and laughing till we nearly cried), we got up on Saturday morning and drove to Athens, GA for the book signing and to watch the Georgia Bulldogs take on the Arkansas Razorbacks in an epic battle of my favorite sport, football! The book signing was nice and we met lots of nice folks and sold some books and t-shirts too. After the crowd cleared from the store we headed out to our seats in the East Endzone on row 18 of the lower section. The temperature soared around 93 degrees and I had put my Santa suit on.  Santa was HOT but having a blast waving and dancing for all the kids to laugh at! I managed to keep on laughing and Ho Ho Hoing until ESPN finally put the cameras on us in the 3rd quarter. Our cell phones were getting plenty of action from all of our friends who had seen us on TV and they were laughing too.

Everything was on the up and the game was really going great! The Hogs and the Bulldogs were really going at it on the field and the Bulldogs overcame a 14 point deficit late in the 4th quarter. The game was now tied at 24 each when Georgia failed to score on their last possession and turned the ball over to Arkansas. The Razorbacks marched down the field and Ryan Mallet threw a lightning bolt pass to a receiver and the Hogs stepped into the end zone one last time making the final score 31 to 24. Even though I was sort of cheering for the Bulldogs just because I really like Coach Mark Richt, I was happy for my home state team for winning such a tough game out on the road. Now what happened next really bothered me though. Most of the fans were content with the outcome and enjoyed watching a close game, even though most of them hated the fact that Georgia had been defeated. But a few of the Georgia fans did what I hoped no one would do. They began to scream and shout out in front of all the crowd (women, children, senior citizens, etc.) making statements about how the “Hogs still suck!” and cursing. The Razorback players had to walk right through the mass of Georgia fans who were leaving and the few fans I am referring to just happened to be so close to the players that the Hogs actually heard them cussing them and insulting them. My kids looked at me like “Man, what’s wrong with that idiot?!” and I just smiled and told them to ignore him. I was very proud of the Razorback players because all they did was smile and point up in the air towards the score board and they didn’t return the insults verbally. As we walked out of the packed stadium I was listening to the people talking about the outcome of the game and I saw how some Georgia fans were actually shaking hands with some of the Hog fans and congratulating them while others were talking trash. I did not have on a Georgia or Arkansas shirt so I looked pretty neutral but I wondered how it must feel to have on a Georgia shirt and hear a fellow Bulldog fan insult the Hogs for winning the game. I also wondered how it must have felt to be wearing a Razorback shirt and have a Bulldog fan congratulate the Hogs for the victory?

 I believe there is a question we should all answer when it comes to sports and other competition we may be passionate about: “Would I rather lose like a winner, or win like a loser?” I don’t know anyone who actually wants his or her team to lose games but it will happen from time to time. That’s just life and most people won’t remember the final score years from now, or who the MVP was but they will remember how it felt when it was over. Did you get cussed by some drunk who couldn’t contain his mouth in front of small kids and little old ladies or did the losing fans treat you with respect and dignity? That will last a life time! We should keep this in mind on every level of sports but especially on the pee-wee or high-school level. When coaches and/or parents lose their cool and say hurtful things, most of those memories will last forever. We need to keep the big picture in mind and remember that what really matters is not the final score but how we live. Kids need leadership, love, and a winning attitude. Even when their team loses. My advice for those who just can’t seem to keep their harmful hate filled mouths shut is to stay home! No one needs to hear that junk and you are not making the other team look bad…you are making yourself look like a fool at the expense of someone elses being offended and potentially ruining someone elses experience with sports. If everyone had that attitude…most people would not even go to sporting events. Lets learn win like winners but also to lose like winners too. Grace and Peace

Aug
24

I interviewed a “Bad Dude” named, Joe Brown, last year for my book and he shared with me his life story. I want you to read his story and let his words soak into your heart. Joe is a man of passion and his words will strengthen a weary heart. I hope you enjoy his story and send others to this blog …..

The Life of Joseph Brown for the readers of Faith & Football:

I was born in 1977 in Columbus, Ohio, but within a year my family moved to Tucson, Arizona. I’m the younger of two children, with a 35-year-old sister. My Mom and Dad divorced when I was 7 years old for various reasons. She says because he was unfaithful, and he says because of her drinking too much. It’s important to note that neither of my parents are Christians, or what I like to call Followers of Christ. My sister played the role of Mom for much of my childhood. I spent several years living with my Mother, who I later grew to understand was devastated by the divorce. I moved from her at the age of ten, and moved in with my Father who was a self-employed restaurant owner and franchisee. He also was a fighter pilot, retiring as a Brigadier General. My sister and I did the normal rotation during weekends as most children with separated parents do. It’s probably clear to picture the huge amount of structure that was dumped on my lap as a ten year old boy. The reasons for leaving Mom’s house were that she began to be consumed with alcohol and drugs and was all over the board. My sister also came to live with us about two years after me. My Dad was gone a lot flying and running a franchise of fast food restaurants, so my sister played the role of mom a lot. God was never talked about and we never attended a single church service ever under that roof. My Father did the best he could, which was pretty good as far as feeding us and providing as a Dad. I can remember dad saying this to me one night as we were getting ready for bed, “Son I will never bring another woman in this house to stay…You have my word that you will be well married by that point!” He held to his word, but as far as how to treat women he failed really badly. Like I said earlier, we never talked about church or even attended service. As a boy growing up, I really remember that I loved playing sports of any kind as long as I could compete with someone. My Dad noticed that and used that to tighten my shot group, and keep me motivated towards the goal of perhaps playing professional sports someday. I can still remember in third grade we had an assignment, which we had to get in front of class and say what we had planned on doing when we grew up. Well, I used this assignment to express my feelings towards playing major league baseball and also an US Army Ranger. As you could imagine the class laughed at me, but I was being very serious. Junior high was a pretty rough spot for me, as I began to grow into a young man testing the waters, often resulting in me getting in trouble. During this time my Mom fell in love with a guy who lived in Columbus and moved to Ohio to live with him. She only watched one high school game during my high school career. My Dad sent me to a private school, because I was struggling with grades. This school had no team sports and as you can imagine I was not pleased there. Well it came down to graduating from junior high, and I asked if I could go to a public school so I could play sports. I will never forget the day we sat in front of the private school director to be told, “Son you will fail out of a public school, please don’t try!” Dad sent me to this public school where I played football, basketball, and baseball, but did not start a single one as a freshman. Fast forward through high school, which I started to develop as an athlete after my freshman year and later signed to play college football at The Ohio State University. When I arrived in Ohio and was on campus I was lost in several ways as one could imagine. I was quickly sucked up with the “cool” crowd on campus spending my time being a pleaser of men. At this time I had still not been introduced to the Word, so I still had no idea about pleasing God. As a freshman at Ohio State they put all the football players in the towers, which made contacting us a bit easier, especially for the man I will talk of next. Steve Koproski, who was the Athletes in Action POC while I was there at Ohio State, certainly understood the simple principle of, “The squeaky wheel gets the grease!” I thank God for putting this man in my life at that point in my life…He planted the seed of Christ in my heart. He shared with me weekly about Christ in our meeting spot, which happened to be “Wendy’s.” There were many reasons why I began to question the worldly way of life that our society today is consumed with. I started asking questions to myself such as, “Is their more to life than myself?” “Are my days here on earth already accounted for?” “Do I have a place or person that can take away all my fears?” “Is there more in life, other than football?” “Why don’t I ever have peace in my heart?” Some of these questions are a bit embarrassing, but they give you an idea what God has done in my heart. Through my college career I was very much a Christian that was getting walks, and a few singles from time to time. I had a lot to work on is what I’m saying! I feel as though that was the Lords time to set my heart up for a dramatic change for the better. I graduated college in the winter of 2001 and was invited to the Seattle Seahawks camp. I was dating a girl whom today is my wife and mother of my two beautiful children…I may be a bit biased! She was in the same spot with her walk as well, and we decided that for our entire relationship we had lived in separate cities, but now that I was in Seattle we would live in the same city. She was a PE teacher, so she got a job and we had separate apartments and spent a lot of time together. We got involved in a Seahawks bible study that was led by Matt Haselback and Trent Dilfer. These men showed a lot of strong Christian leadership and walked it every day as far as I knew. They were great examples to witness day by day. As I grew stronger with Christ I felt an unexplainable pull on my heart…I would awake at night having dreams of serving our country, and it was always on my heart, but I was not listening. When we live life too fast, God has ways of making you go over speed bumps to slow you down. Well, I had just completed my second year with the Seahawks and just got married to Stacey, and had bought a house back in our home town of Tucson, Arizona. My contract was up and I was exploring other teams to whom I could sign with. My agent had set up nine different workouts at the time and I had completed two of them, when one night that text came in from God saying that he needed me in other places. I kept on with the NFL, because that was pretty much what I wanted to do. Well, I contracted a fungal infection called Valley Fever and lost thirty pounds in three weeks. I was as sick as I have ever been. This was that highlighted speed bump, that made me do what I hate to do, which is sit on a couch and heal. One afternoon, I began to cry and ask the Lord through my prayer, “Please heal me, and what did I do, what do you want from me?” Serve your country is what I heard, and so I spoke with Stacey about it, and w, and prayed together long and hard. We concluded that this is where the Lord wants us. So, Lord send me, (Isaiah 6:8) was my new focus which I attacked with great purpose. I felt that I was truly serving the Lord here, and for the first time in my life I felt at ease. I had no anxiety at all and was filled with peace. We sold our house and off to the Army I went, serving with the 2/75th Ranger battalion and on my last deployment I served with 2/23 INF. I have never before felt the Lords hands upon me, as I did while I was in there. To see men that openly opposed God, come to their knees crying for forgiveness was and still is unspeakable for me. Serving our country during a time of war was truly the biggest blessing on my family and I, which I could ever imagine. This is not to imply that this time was not difficult for us at times, as you can probably imagine. Those deployments will affect and continue to affect my family in positive ways that I can’t describe. I was injured on my last deployment, falling thirty feet, suffering a massive brain injury, a broken left wrist, and a torn calf muscle. Understand that at that time my wife was pregnant with our second child when she received the call that I had been injured in combat. It was truly the hands of God that brought me home to be the best husband, father and most of all a leader to my family that I can be through Him. I read every day during my deployments from my favorite book of the Bible which is the book of Psalms. Prior to my last deployment we started praying and asking God what direction our family was to go. “Father God, Please make it abundantly clear as to where you need me to be!” is what I prayed. Again He answered by sending me to Jonesboro, Arkansas to begin my coaching career while in graduate school. I work for a man who is the head coach here by the name of Steve Roberts. He is a very strong Christian leader, and I’m so blessed to have fallen around him. My wife, two children, and dog live here in Jonesboro Arkansas and attend a church named First Baptist Church of Jonesboro, which is led by Bruce Tippit. We have been so blessed as a family. I hope that you will focus on Him and allow Him to strengthen your family as a unit (Ecclesiastes 4:9-12). I am still praying that someday both of my parents will receive Christ and grow to know and love him too!!

Aug
16

Every once in a while I happen to get an email that really stands out. I generally can’t stand forwarded messages and usually delete them and I NEVER keep chain messages going either. I just don’t like them. But when I got this message from a good friend of mine, I had to read it. When I did, I knew I had to share it with all my readers and friends on my blog. The remainder of this post is that message and if you have read my book, Faith & Football, you will notice how the sport parallels run through this message just like in my book. I just love this and if you know any sports fans or athletes who would benefit from reading this or my book, send them to www.read4god.com and perhaps change a life. Thanks for reading and I hope you enjoy. See ya in a couple of weeks! 🙂

2 Timothy 2:20-22 But in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and silver, but also of wood and clay, some for honor and some for dishonor. Therefore if anyone cleanses himself from the latter, he will be a vessel for honor, sanctified and useful for the Master, prepared for every good work. Flee also youthful lusts; but pursue righteousness, faith, love, peace with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart. “Useful for the Master, prepared for every good work.”

Two-a-days are underway.  The boys of Friday night are running, blocking, tackling, learning plays, practicing offense, practicing defense, practicing special teams, getting in shape, getting ready for the action underneath the Friday night lights. They are getting prepared.  They are working to make themselves useful for the team and the coach so when their name is called and they step onto the field they can make a difference.   They are spending many hours each day in the heat and humidity.  They are in the weight room and they are on the practice field.  Their time and their focus is preparing for those Fall Friday nights. The excitement is building.   How much time everyday do we spend preparing ourselves for the game of life?  Are we cleansed, honorable, sanctified, ready to be useful when the Master calls our name and we step onto the field of life? 

 Are we prepared to do good work?  Are we satisfied sitting on the bench content to watch others play or are we doing everything in our power to hear our name called and throw on our helmet and get in on the action? We are in the fourth quarter of the game of life and the clock is ticking down.  The Master needs players who will make a difference.  He needs players who are prepared and ready for action.   Have you and I spent our time in the weight room and practice field?  Have we gotten up early or stayed up late and studied the Play Book?  Do we know our responsibilities when the ball is snapped and the play is underway?  Are we focused and prepared to get in on the action?  Are we excited?  Let’s go win some disciples for Christ! Useful for the Master, prepared for every good work. 

Ready to make a difference.  Let’s play ball!

Jul
21

I recently was blessed with the opportunity to go to a summer camp in Mobile, AL, with a local church. My wife and I took our two teens and loaded up for a week of fun and learning. We signed up to do mission work throughout the day and we were split up into groups of other teens and adults for 4 hours a day while doing the mission work.

My group was supposed to spend each day inside a gym at an inner city boys and girls club for sports and recreation time with the local children who came out each day. On the first day however, there was a local election taking place in the building so we had to move our ministry across the street to a small playground. While at the playground, a local woman walked up and started engaging in conversation with us. The lady seemed to be either crazy or on some sort of substance that had her all messed up. She started talking to me while outside standing around the playground and watching the kids swing and climb. She was making many off the wall statements and every once in a while she would turn around in anger and begin to cuss out loud at me and/or the rest of the group. She made a few verbal threats on our group and she was getting pretty worked up with anger so our mission group leader decided to talk to her and explain to her that we were going to have to leave the area if she did not stop acting so irate. She turned around and walked straight at me with a large plastic cup and slammed it in my chest, breaking it and turning around cursing me. I just stood there and held my hands out to her and asked if she was OK and told her that we were there to be a friend to her. She then asked me if I wanted to have a “mixed baby” with her! The mission group leader decided to load all the teens in our group back up on the buses and go somewhere else for the remainder of the day. One of the other ladies in our group asked the irate lady if we could please pray with/for her and to our surprise she agreed to let us. Me and two other ladies placed our hands on her shoulders and said a short prayer for her, asking God to help her and to comfort her and for her to realize how much He loved her. The lady opened her eyes and thanked us and told us to go out and minister somewhere else and to return to her the next day.

We left her and drove around to another location in the inner-city, several miles away. We pulled up at a large government-run housing project and got out. We unloaded all of our supplies for lunch and started making sandwiches. One of the little boys that lived in the projects saw us and came out to greet us and I asked him where his friends were and if he wanted to play with us? He asked me to accompany him through the projects from door to door inviting his friends to come play with us. Me and one of the teens in our group took a tour of the projects and found several kids who wanted to join us on the playground between the buildings. By the time we got back to our group we had several kids with us and we were all ready for fun time. We played “Simon Says”, we jumped rope, we through the football, we threw a frisbee. It was very hot and there was little shade in the open area and we quickly ran out of water for our group.

After a couple of hours of watching this group play with the kids and watching the little kids run around and jump on us in playful delight, I found myself wanting to get away from it all for a little bit. I sometimes need a few minutes to just be alone and talk to God privately and process my feelings. I asked a lady outside for a trash bag and she gave me one of those huge yard-size bags. I slipped away from our group and walked around to the spot where we had eaten lunch. I just wanted to make sure we picked up our mess completely before we left so I walked over and checked out the scene. I only found one piece of trash from our group so I picked it up and started walking back to the back side of the projects where the rest of our group was still playing with the kids. As I walked I looked down at the grass all around me I noticed that there was trash everywhere! I decided to pick up one small area of grass that was surrounded by sidewalk on all sides. It only took about 10 minutes to clear the area but then I looked up and there was even more trash in the grass leading back to my group. I just started picking up the “big” pieces at first and when I would finish, I would go back and start getting the “medium” size pieces. I began to get overwhelmed and the heat was steadily climbing. I had not had any water in over an hour and I was wearing a black t-shirt too! I just kept on picking up trash and walking and really lost track of time. I went around each building and almost wanted to cry one time when I looked up and saw a large open area between two building that was covered with litter. I just stopped and prayed and said, “Lord, why am I doing this? I didn’t create this mess and no one will ever appreciate my work today. As soon as I pick up one piece it seems like 5 more pieces hit the ground. This isn’t fair! Why am I the one picking up this trash for people who don’t even care?” But I just felt compelled to keep on collecting my garbage so I did.

About that time a lady opened her door from her apartment and shouted down from her balcony, “Hey! What are you doing? Why you picking up our trash?!” I didn’t know exactly what to respond and since I was in prayer at the time, I gave her the response, “I am hoping to tell someone about Jesus.” She looked at me and turned her head sideways and asked, “How is picking up trash going to help you tell someone about Jesus?” I responded, “Well, your trash is sorta like my sin! I made a big mess of my life with sin and wrong choices but Jesus came along and cleaned it all up for me, even though I didn’t deserve it or do anything to earn it! He just does it because He loves us!” She interrupted me and said, “Boy, You CRAZY!” and started laughing as she shut the door and went back to her air-conditioned apartment. I just smiled and thought to myself, “Lord, is this trash really like the sin in my life that you continually choose to clean up? Do you ever get tired of us making a huge mess of things and not appreciating your sacrifice to clean,  it up?” I confessed, “I am sorry Lord for my wrong choices and for having such a crappy attitude about the hot sun and the trash I’m picking up. I know this trash is nothing like what you do for me each day and I am sorry for not treating your sacrifice with the appreciation and respect that I should. Please help me to be more mindful of the trash I throw down and not willingly litter up my life and expect you to by the janitor. Thank you Lord! I love You.”

I walked back to my group and they saw the trash sack I was dragging so most of them joined right in and started picking up the playground area and when we left the projects that day, it looked better than before we came. I was so proud of the teens in our group and I shared the conversation that I had with the lady on the balcony with our group. They laughed at the story but its a lesson I will not soon forget…Your Trash and My Sin are more alike than you might think. God bless and thanks for your time!

Jul
01

Hey everyone, this post is the story of Arkansas State head football coach, Steve Roberts. I interviewed Steve last year for my book and included his interview in several chapters. He is an incredible man of God and has a neat story to tell. The following is his story in his own words. I hope you enjoy it and pass it along to all the athletes, coaches, and sports fans you know and love. 

 Thanks, Josh Steed 

 Steve Roberts…. 

“I was very fortunate to have been raised in a Christian home by great parents who were very active in the church and who modeled their beliefs in raising me and my older brother. Growing up I had a ton of advantages to grow my faith through church activities, youth group, FCA, summer camps, and Christian friends. Life was good. I went to a private Christian college, played college football, fell in love, got married and felt a calling to become a coach. Life was really good. After spending just 6 seasons as an assistant coach, I achieved one of my primary professional goals and was named Head Football Coach at a struggling NCAA Division 2 program. I was the youngest Head Coach in college football. I had all the answers and was confident that success was just around the corner. The next few years I learned more about my faith and trust in God than ever before. Over the next 3 years as a Head Coach, we won a total of 9 games going 1-7-1, 4-6, and 4-6. There were whispers behind my back of being fired and talks openly in coffee shops and meetings around town about my incompetence and lack of success. How could this be? I knew God had called me to be a Coach and I knew he desired success for me and it was all about to come to an end. Life was tough. During this same time, at home, my wife and I had become desperate to start our family. We had been trying to have a baby for several years without success. We had spent tons of time in prayer and tons of money on doctors and specialists trying to achieve pregnancy and the emotional drain and stress was getting very difficult to take. Month after month of failure left me questioning. We were Christians and could provide a great environment for a child. Why were so many unwanted babies being born? Why this and Why that? How come we were not being blessed with a child? Life was really tough. My life professionally and at home was tough and on the outside I continued to be faithful to our church and spoke openly about my faith yet on the inside I struggled to release all of who I am to God. It was through this struggle I learned that a true blessing from God is any situation that forces you to rely solely on him for life itself. I needed to continue to use everything that God had blessed me with to achieve success but to quit placing my faith on those things and instead rely on God. James 1:2 says to “consider it pure joy when life’s troubles come your way” and Malachi 3:3 says that “he will sit as the refiner and purifier”. You see, I knew God and I had experienced salvation but God was using my experiences to draw me into dependence on him, purifying my motives and desires for success and family. I wanted the glory and success. “Look what I accomplished”. I had to relinquish all to him and bring glory to him. I remember going to the office one morning about 5:00 o’clock and getting on my knees and placing all of who I am in his hands. Not just my salvation, reputation, marriage, career, or any other part but all of who I am. That morning my faith and my life changed. I knew that I would be able to glorify God in any circumstance of life. On June 6, 1995, we had a beautiful baby girl. She has grown into a wonderful young lady with a great heart and a passion for growing in her faith. In football, we had several kids come to know Christ and we went 26-5 over the next 3 seasons earning a championship and national top ten rankings. I don’t believe our success occurred because of relinquishing total control to God. I do know that God equipped me to deal with whatever would happen and that I would glorify him in any circumstance. I still struggle for control of my own life but I always have an experience to go back to that provides the foundation for my life. Life is good because God is good not because of my circumstance.” PS. If you have seen “Facing the Giants” you realize the theme for that movie is a lot like my struggle. I cried like a baby. I hope you enjoyed Coach Roberts’ testimony. If it spoke to your heart as it has mine, please direct your friends and family to this blog and help me spread some good news around this dark world!

Thank you for your time, 

Josh Steed 

Jun
18

This is the true story of an incident that happened to me in August of 2009. I posted it a while back but I have had several people request that I re-post it so here it is. It is longer than most of my blogs but I bet you are blessed by it. Thanks for reading!…….

I know we have all heard the phrase, “Don’t judge a book by the cover”, at one time or another. Well…like so many wise sayings, this one has always been a hard one for most of us, if we were to admit it. We live in a world that thrives on stereotypes and sometimes we can even justify this but often we let it hinder us from living life to the fullest. 

I don’t think most of us go around consciously looking at other people and passing  judgment on them but we all do it to a degree. Just a week or two back, I had a young lady at a football game tell me that she couldn’t believe that I was a “preacher dude” after she and her friends sat beside me and my wife during the first half a football game. I laughed and asked her why and she said she couldn’t picture me in a suit and tie behind a podium and I laughed again and told her that I avoid suits and ties at all costs.

I had an atheist on my Facebook page who assumed that I hated him just because he didn’t believe in God and he was very mean to me without cause. He could not believe it when I told him that I loved him and respected his views. No one likes being judged and labeled before getting a fair chance to show others who they really are.

My problem has always been this: many times I have been correct, just like you have, when looking at the outside of a person or situation and found out that my pre-determined judgment was absolutely correct. There is a fine line between judging a book by its’ cover and just being observant and smart. For instance…I had a man in shabby clothes come up to me in the streets of Hot Springs, AR, and tell me a long, sad story, about his mom being in the hospital in Little Rock and his car running out of gas. He said he needed a few bucks for gas so he could get back on the journey to be at his sick mothers’ side in the hospital. (Now, all I could imagine in my mind was my own mother dying with cancer in a Little Rock hospital when I was 9 years old and wishing I could be there with her.)  I was young and grew up in a small town so at the time I encountered the man who needed the money and had never experienced this before so I eagerly gave the man $10. Now that may not sound like much but I was living on $200 a week at the time so it was  a considerable amount to me. I could drive my S-10 pick-up for an entire  week on $10 back then! I watched in disgust as the man went into the gas station across the highway and came out with beer and cigarettes. I almost went across the street and  rammed his head into the pay phone on the side of the building but I calmed down and learned the first part of a valuable lesson that evening. Things like this affect the way we look at others and we all have been burned a time or two. My response to this one instance was refusing to give a dime to anyone  for years because of this one mans’ deception, unless I already knew them. I was just a teenager when I encountered the man begging for “gas money” but the event caused me to have a hard heart towards strangers in need for years.

When I gave my heart and life to Jesus Christ, I was 23 years old. One of the first things that God started changing about me was this attitude of distrust and indifference with people who were begging or homeless. I remember going to a Wendy’s in Eldorado, AR, one day and there was a man in line in front of me who only had a few teeth in his mouth. He was smelly, nasty, and looked like he was on drugs or something. He was counting out change in pennies to try to buy a second burger off the $1 menu. He was about a dime shy of the amount needed for two burgers and the girl at the register told him he didn’t have enough. I was standing behind him doing exactly what I had become an expert at by then…I was thinking about how stupid he must be for getting into this sort of situation. Thoughts like, “Why don’t he have a job? What kind of drugs made his teeth rot out? Where does he live and am I paying taxes to buy him cigarettes? etc.”….Before I knew what I was doing, I was ordering my meal and I bought an extra burger, some fries, and a large chocolate shake. The man was over at the condiments putting a gallon of ketchup on his little burger when I did what I couldn’t believe I was doing! I gave him my big bacon burger and the fries and the shake and I kept the little $1 burger!!!! I told him that Jesus Christ loved him and died to set him free. He smiled at me and looked me in the eyes before giving me a big hug and then he stuck his tongue out at the cashier and walked out of Wendy’s. I walked back to my vehicle and wondered why in the world I had done that and I knew God had prompted me to do it. I was arguing with God in my mind all the way back to my home town. I was thinking, “Didn’t God know what kind of man that was? Did he not realize that this man was a regular bum around the store and that was why the cashier was so irritated at him? Why did I waste my money and supper on this loser?!!”….As you can see, I wasn’t a very cheerful giver. But that didn’t matter to the man with the chocolate shake…he thought he had an encounter with Jesus himself the way he looked and responded to my unplanned generosity and love.

I found myself doing this kind of thing more and more often and each time it happens to me I just laugh in amazement at what God is doing in my life. It reminds me of a story I haven’t yet shared with the world that is pretty amazing to me:

This past April I was in Greenville, SC, taking my finals for my PhD when I encountered a beggar. I was on my way into my hotel lobby to write a 5 page paper that was due the next morning and it was already 10pm. A typical “thief, bum, or beggar”, whatever you want to call them, was hitting people up for cash in the valet parking area. I was already thinking the usual thoughts about this man and I was preparing some rude comment for him when he got between me and the front doors. He told me he was hungry and that he needed a few dollars for food. I was just joking with him when I said, “OK…lets me and you go next door to that pizza place and get a bite to eat.” He looked at me with my dress clothes on and then looked at himself and said, “You wouldn’t want to eat with me, look at me.” I was persistent because I knew he was only wanting money to get drugs or alcohol so I told him, “Oh no buddy, I’ll eat with you, let’s go get some pizza!” To my surprise he said OK. We walked into this pizza restaurant/bar next to the hotel and stood in line to order. When we got up to the register, I told the lady to give me a slice of pepperoni and to get my friend whatever he wanted from the menu. He got 2 slices of pizza and the biggest glass of iced tea they had. Most of the seats were full so we walked up and sat on two empty bar stools in the front window, over-looking the busy sidewalk and street. I felt something inside me begin to change as I started talking to the man and asking him to tell me about himself. He did smell like whiskey and he talked very loud so most people in the restaurant could hear at least his half of our conversation. I listened to him tell me all about his life and his health problems etc. They brought out our pizza and I asked him if he would pray with me as I blessed our meal. He nodded his head and closed one eye as I peaked up at him to make sure he was closing both. I prayed and at this moment, everything changed…I began to cry as I asked God to bless our meal and our time together. I felt the mans’ hand on mine as I finished the blessing and he smiled at me and told me that I would have to excuse his manners because he was really hungry. I started off using my fork but ended up joining him for an all out pizza feast with bare hands.  I kept on asking him questions about his life and then I moved on to life in general. He talked and talked as people in the restaurant kept their eyes on us. I could see the tables of people in the reflection of the window behind us. I finally asked him if he believed in God and what his thoughts were of Jesus Christ. He told me that he always knew that God existed but that he never really thought too much about Jesus. It was at this time that I let all my reservations go as I told him how much God loved him and that God had a plan and purpose for his life. I told him about Adam and Eve and the fall of mankind. I explained how sin entered the world and why things are temporarily messed up as a result of that. I explained who Jesus is and why He came down from heaven for us to be able to be freed from the power of sin and find a new life. I told the man of Christs’ sinless life, death, and resurrection from the dead. I told him of the coming judgment and the age to come. I told him about heaven and the streets of gold and the forgiveness available to all those who will turn away from sin and surrender their lives to Jesus as Lord. The people in the pizza place were finished eating and listening to us talk. I quoted scripture like never before and everything I told the man was supported by the Bible. The beggar began to cry and he told me that he wanted to give his life to Jesus. He said that he knew that he may never get off the streets or get a healthy body but that he wanted to give what little he had to Christ! He told me that he had stopped using drugs about a month ago but that he had been drinking ever since then. He said that he knew it was wrong and that if God would accept him as His child, he would never use drugs or alcohol again. Then he asked me if God would hear him if he prayed with me right then and their. I told him to go ahead and we held hands and he prayed the most sincere prayer I have ever heard. He turned from sin and turned to Christ as the Lord of his life inside a pizza parlor! I saw other people in the room wiping their eyes and some of them got up and left. We finished praying and I got up and I gave him a big hug. I was so proud of him. He reached into his little bag that he carried and pulled out a pink Bible that had never been opened. He told me a woman had given it to him but he never opened it. I told him to start reading it every time he felt like getting high and he eagerly agreed. He told me that he couldn’t wait to get a job and that he would be looking for some type of employment in the morning. We got up from the bar and walked outside and told each other goodbye. I felt like I had known him my entire life and I wanted shout for joy. He didn’t ask for another dime and thanked me for my time and for telling him about Jesus. He gripped the pink Bible tightly in his left hand and smiled at me. I told him that I would be praying for him but that I had to go back to my hotel and write a paper for school that was due in the morning. He said he was ready to go to read his Bible and get to bed too. We shook hands and gave each other a quick hug and started walking in opposite directions on the sidewalk. I was almost out of shouting range when I heard him call out to me. I turned around and for a split second I went back to being my old self. I thought to myself, “he is about to ask me for more money after all of this!”. But that is not what happened. I’ll never forget his parting words as he shouted down the busy street, “I’ll never forget you JOSH STEED….you know the Bible says that people have entertained angels before without even realizing it!”. I stood there in awe as he blended into the crowds and was gone. Needless to say, I got goose bumps and almost ran to the elevator and up to my room.  I quickly called my wife to tell her all about what had happened. It was almost midnight when I got off the phone and started my paper. The reason I was so amazed by the mans’ last statement was….I never told him my first name, much less my last one! How did he know my first and last name? He had been drinking and we talked for over an hour and I know I never told him my name. I never even got his name!

I laid in my bed at the hotel that night and wrote a 5 page paper in record time and I got an “A” on it the next morning and I graduated. I was so happy to be alive. I drove for the next 13 hours on only about 4 hours of sleep all the way back to Camden, AR. I still have a hard time not judging books by their covers and I’ll never know, on this side of eternity, the difference between thieves and angels but I will never forget learning a lesson from the two different beggars. God never told us that we would be responsible for how people use the gifts we give in His name….He just told us to love others and to share with them out of our abundance. God will set the record straight on judgment day but we shouldn’t let our preconceived notions stop us from being His hands and feet each day.

 There is no way in the world that I would give anyone begging on the streets money apart from Christ living inside me. It is so funny when this happens to me cause I know that someone out there is thinking, “wow, he is so caring and generous”, but if you think this way about me…you are very wrong! ( ha ha) I still struggle with the memory of that first dude tricking me out of my $10 back in Hot Springs! I don’t have a generous spirit or a big heart for the beggars and addicts. It is all God in those moments when I give and love those whom I normally wouldn’t acknowledge. Every time I see God work in this manner it makes me fall in love with Him even more deeply! We can’t even imagine how much love God has for even the lowliest of all people. There is so much more I have to learn in life but as long as I am alive….I am going to keep seeking to please my Lord with my decisions and time each day. I can’t wait to see Him face to face! I hope that you too will make the choice to love others regardless of their looks, social status, race, and sometimes their smell. God died for everyone and each person alive was made in His image so before we are tempted to hold back from loving others….lets remember that only God knows the differences between books and covers, thieves and angels, sinners and saints, and preachers and crooks!

Thanks for reading this weeks’ blog and see ya next time! God bless you.      —-Josh Steed