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Marcos Senna: A Gracious Peace Spain’s Marcos Senna realizes

that Christ, not life’s circumstances, provides joy and peace BY Brett Honeycutt

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CONTENTS

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Carlos Valerón (p6); Closeup: José Luís Vidigal (p8); Closeup: Ricardo Salampessy (p10) ; Closeup: Isaac Díaz (p12); Closeup: Eddie Johnson (p14); Closeup: Brad Guzan (p16); Closeup: Lee YoungPyo (p18); Closeup: Fabio (p20); Closeup: Cyrille Domoraud (p22); Closeup: Jacob Mulenga (p24)

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FEATURES

Kaká: Breaking the Mold

Brazilian superstar Kaká captures the attention of the world, not only with his play but by living out his faith every day BY Jeremy V. Jones

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Radamel Falcao: Experience Matters Through highs

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CACAU: Unconditional Acceptance Despite being cut from

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JUN marques davidson: When Soccer Becomes An Avenue Japan’s Jun Marques Davidson

tried chasing fame, but he discovered his purpose in life was far greater BY STEPHEN COPELAND

and lows, Colombian soccer star Radamel Falcao has remained constant in his faith BY STEPHEN COPELAND

his club in his native Brazil, German soccer star Cacau found that his unconventional path to the top helped him see God’s love BY STEPHEN COPELAND

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tragedies, Clint Dempsey has deepened his perspective of life BY Brett Honeycutt

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Clint Dempsey: Finding Strength in the Lord Despite past

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CLOSEUP: Closeup: Lúcio (p4); Closeup: Juan

Nicola Legrottaglie: Fulfilling A Promise Through

good and bad times, Jesus gave Italy’s Nicola Legrottaglie a peace that ‘no one else has ever given me’ BY Brett Honeycutt

Alexander Samedov: Breath of Life Russia’s Alexander

Samedov struggled through questions about his life and his career, until he found something that gave him the answers he had been searching for all along BY Brett Honeycutt

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EYONG ENOH: Preacher In Cleats Cameroonian vice-captain Eyong Enoh lives out his passion each day, a passion that easily supercedes the world’s greatest sport BY STEPHEN COPELAND

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his issue is Sports Spectrum’s largest undertaking and likely our most important edition since the magazine began in 1985. Not because of the amount of stories we are giving you, our readers, about athletes playing the world’s most watched, and arguably the most popular sport, but because of the potential impact this issue can have on others around the world. That potential impact is made possible because the 2014 World Cup issue is being produced in 14 languages and will be used by ministries all over the world during the World Cup— through the Internet, via mobile devices and also on the ground as the World Cup is being played. Please pray as we launch the Sports Spectrum Go Mag, with the mission of the mag based on Matthew 28:19, “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.”

COVER • PHOTO CREDITS:

(Kaká) Julian Finney/Getty Images (Clint Dempsey) Kevin C. Cox /Getty Images INSET PHOTO: (Cacau) Patrik Stollarz/AFP/ GettyImages (Training Table) Jonathan Ross /Getty Images

Volume 28 Number 2 SPORTS SPECTRUM MAGAZINE A product of Sports Spectrum Publishing PUBLISHER Robert B. Walker publisher@sportsspectrum.com MANAGING EDITOR Brett Honeycutt editor@sportsspectrum.com ART DIRECTOR Renata Bolden rbolden@sportsspectrum.com GRAPHIC ARTIST Minnie Miller STAFF WRITER Stephen Copeland stephen.copeland@sportsspectrum.com CONTRIBUTING WRITERS Joshua Cooley Jeremy V. Jones Jenna Sampson CONTROLLER Sharon Wade WEBMASTER Jonathan Stanley webmaster@sportsspectrum CHAPLAIN Steve Jirgal

Sports Spectrum Global is a multimedia ministry with the purpose to impact people by connecting faith and sports in a relevant way, ultimately directing people, with resources for discipleship, toward a personal, loving God who demands Christ-centered lives. Printed in USA. Copyright © 2014 by Sports Spectrum Publishing. Bible quotations, unless otherwise noted, are taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers. SPORTS SPECTRUM (USPS # 023-364) is produced 12 times a year by Sports Spectrum Publishing Inc., 5712 C Stockbridge Drive, 2nd Floor, Monroe, NC 28110. Periodicals postage paid at Indian Trail, NC, and additional mailing offices. POSTMASTER: Send address changes to SPORTS SPECTRUM, P.O. BOX 2037, Indian Trail, NC 28079-2037

Please also pray that God would use this issue, and others that follow, to reveal Himself to others and to lead people to accept Christ, so that lives would be changed for eternity. Sincerely, Sports Spectrum Global Team

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Lúcio Fame and fortune didn’t detract Brazil’s Lucio from his main purpose—to glorify God

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s Brazilian captain Lucimar Ferreira da Silva (or Lucio as he’s known throughout the soccer world) was reminiscing about Brazil’s 2002 World Cup victory, his thoughts went back to the feelings he had when he helped his soccer-crazed country win the world’s most coveted title in sports. It also caused him to think about the most important part of his life. “In Brazil, everyone dreams of this,” he says of winning the World Cup. “Since 2002, I have been able to participate in this great desire. We were a great group and it was a very important moment in my life and in my family’s life. Once again, we had the opportunity to thank God for the whole world to see. Without a doubt, this was more important than the title.” They showed the world their passion for God by taking off their jerseys and revealing shirts underneath that had short statements about Jesus and their love for Him. In a brief conversation, it wasn’t uncommon to hear Lucio constantly thank God for every aspect of his life—from playing a game for a living, to having a wife, children and appreciating other simplicities of life. He has played more than 100 international matches for Brazil, including a huge match in June 2009 when he scored the game-winning goal to help Brazil to a 3-2 comeback victory against the United States in the Confederations Cup championship game in South Africa. “I think that the faith we had in ourselves during the Confederations Cup was fundamental,” he shared. “But above all, we recognized the power of God working in our lives.” The focus was and is always on God, His mercy, how God has blessed him in so many ways, and how much he needs God despite seemingly having everything. “I believe that the fact I play for a great club, play on the national team, the fact I have a wife and family who support me, just shows me that I need God all the more,” says Lucio. “Without a doubt, today I can say that God has done things in my life that I never imagined. As a professional, playing on great clubs, (winning) titles, having a wife and children who are healthy and walking in the same path towards Jesus, and understanding what God has done for us, the love He demonstrates for us every day, and His mercy in our weakness and in the fact we are sinners. I believe God shows true love when we fail, and He loves us and takes care of us just the same. I believe this is what brings us closer to Him each and every day.” -Brett Honeycutt

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Juan Carlos Valerón Juan Carlos Valerón found contentment in Christ that success on the soccer field couldn’t provide uan Valeron’s faith journey is a great example of how new believers often face trials early in their walk with Christ. As one of Spain’s most decorated professional soccer players for the past 15 years, Valeron has led his national team to big victories including two European Championships, the Spanish Cup, and the coveted FIFA World Cup (2002). But his victories on the field have been hampered by family pain off the field, starting with the death of his brother at age 30, followed by the passing of his father. “We were quite a united family, and losing him was devastating,” he shares. “It was particularly difficult to see my parents struggle. But God graciously cared for us, and I am certain that without His help, my parents couldn’t have coped with their loss. Unfortunately, the pain deepened when soon after, my father also passed away.” In his pain, Valeron struggled with questions like, Why is this happening? And when he couldn’t find the answers on his own, he looked to God. “He was the answer,” assures Valeron. “He showed me that good could come from painful experiences. During that time, one of my brothers came to know God, and from that point, my family’s faith has grown steadily.” When the Arguineguin, Spain, native was a young boy, his goal on the soccer field was to play in the top division and reach elite status in Spain. But even after accomplishing great success, including the World Cup, he realized that without God, the victories didn’t give him contentment. “I realized those successes weren’t really important,” he shares. “In fact, without God, they were worth nothing. But Jesus is everything. Just like the food we need to live, Jesus is the necessity in life. Once I had a personal relationship with Him, I wanted to be with Him. While I may still experience difficult times, I know God is with me, and therefore accept them with joy. And I know that someday, I will go to His presence and experience His glory.” - Jenna Sampson

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José Luis Vidigal Portugal’s José Luis Vidigal experienced victory through defeat in one of the biggest games of his career

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he second of 12 children, including four who played soccer, José Luis Vidigal understands what it means to fight and jostle for attention. During an 18-year professional career, Vidigal spent the majority of his career in Italy and Portugal before retiring in 2009. In between he represented Portugal in 28 games, including seven on the U-21 team, six during the 1996 Olympics where Portugal finished fourth, and 15 from 2000-02. That last stint included four games in UEFA Euro 2000, including the semifinal loss to France. But the most memorable and most exciting game was a 3-2 comeback victory against England. Down 2-0, Portugal scored three goals and went on to win their Group going 3-0 in the process. In the knockout round, Portugal won its first game, 2-0, against Turkey before losing 2-1 to France in the semifinals. “I’ll never forget this game (against England) because we were in a pretty unfortunate situation,” Vidigal says. Although we lost 2-1 (to France in the semifinals), I still believed that something good could come out of it. Without a doubt, it was Jesus Christ who made the unfortunate situation of a great result. Jesus changed my life. From the beginning I thought I could do it all myself, in relationships with my family, and in my professional and social worlds. I believed in my own abilities, but it did not help. “When I accepted Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior, then everything became brighter. I learned to forgive and help. My life changed. “ He played for nine more seasons after UEFA Euro 2000 and soccer was no more No. 1 in his life. “I believe in Jesus because I know that my life does not end here in this world,” Vidigal says. “I do have a special place next to Jesus, and He accepts me. I want more people to have faith and realize that they should accept Him, because otherwise they will have a difficult time at the end of this earthly life. “My motivation in everything comes from the Lord, because I live and work for Him. I want to be an example of God on Earth. If I did not do that, and if I was not motivated by God, it would be hard to tell people about Him. “My favorite Bible verses are: ‘We are more than conquerors through him who loved us.’ (Romans 8:37) and ‘For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life’ (John 3:16). “The first verse is closely connected with my profession. I believe that I can spend my days in victory. I do not mean winning in soccer or any other sport, but in life. John 3:16 is the foundation of my faith. “ - Brett Honeycutt SPORTS SPECTRUM

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Ricardo Salampessy Indonesian star Ricardo Salampessy looks to King David as an example of how to live

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ing David has always been an incredible example in the Bible of giving thanks to God in good times and in bad. And when you meet Indonesian soccer star Ricardo Salampessy, you quickly understand why David is his inspiration. The 30-year-old defender for Persipura has celebrated amazing victories, and also some difficult moments. And through it all, he has had a heart of gratitude to the Lord. “I thank God that I grew up in a Christian family where I was taught about Jesus,” he shares. “I learned to depend on Him completely when I thought my career was over due to a knee injury. Through prayer, I realized that football could interfere in my relationship with God and became aware of my need for daily time with Him. I recovered from surgery and returned to play sooner than expected – and with a stronger relationship with my Savior.” Salampessy joined the professional ranks at age 20, and since then, has appeared on the Indonesian national team 20 times. He has earned Best Player and Best Defender honors, and has dominated the field in the Indonesian Super League (Indonesia’s highest football league) for Persipura since 2006. “Through football, I have learned much about the world, life, myself, and, most importantly, my Savior,” he says. “I have had the privilege of visiting continents and regions I never imagined I would see. I have met interesting people and learned about their cultures. I have learned to be independent, a sportsman, a hard worker, and mentally strong. And…I have realized I must rely on Christ in each of those areas of my life.” It is that reliance that brings King David to mind again. “If he defeated a giant, he praised God for His strength and protection; if his army claimed success in war, David gave the credit to God; if he enjoyed prosperity or even suffered pain, he thanked God for His enduring love,” shares Salampessy. “David is an example for all believers of what our lives can be like when we pursue God with all our heart.” - Jenna Sampson

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Isaac Díaz When tragedy struck in the life of Chile’s Isaac Diaz, he saw how real God was in his life

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rom the time Isaac Diaz was a baby and had a soccer ball in his cradle, to playing as a professional athlete in packed stadiums, soccer has always been a part of his life. And he succeeded despite being from such a small town of about 12,500 people. “Our town, Fresia, is very small but did have a soccer academy for youth. In addition to playing locally, my father took me all over the country to gain experience in tournaments and regionals. I was fortunate to progress to the pro level, and to play in packed stadiums is a great thrill for me. “ Tragedy struck, though, and reality hit Diaz. The faith that meant so much to his parents and that they took so seriously wasn’t as important to Diaz. But after he had time to contemplate it, and after God revealed Himself to Diaz, he embraced it and committed his life to Christ. “My family was always attending church, but honestly, I went primarily because my parents expected me to,” Diaz says. “I can still remember exactly where we sat in the pews. With my brother’s death, I finally realized how real God was to me—and all that He meant in my life. I believe 100 percent that no one can live without God!” Even though Diaz’s faith carries him through each day, he understands that he isn’t immune to hardships. His faith doesn’t prevent bad things from happening, but it does help him get through tough times when they come. “Sometimes life as a pro soccer player can be very difficult,” he says. “The environment of uncertainty that surrounds a club and the playing time decisions coaches make about players can often lead to self-doubt and anxiety. And then add to that the never-ending chants by crowds that are impossible to ignore. But I know that as long as my faith is in God, I can be at peace and follow the path He has laid out for me. “I have learned that God will often do impossible things. I just need to trust in Him and His Word. “King Solomon was incredibly wise. When he became king at a young age, the Lord appeared to him and said, ‘Ask for whatever you want me to give you’ (1 Kings 3:5). Of all the things Solomon could have desired, he asked for a ‘discerning heart.’ He knew that relying on God to lead him was the answer to a successful life. In Proverbs 3:5-6, Solomon wrote from personal experience, ‘Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not rely on your own understanding; think about Him in all your ways, and He will guide you on the right paths.’ May you also come to trust in God and know Him with all your heart.” - Brett Honeycutt

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Eddie Johnson Eddie Johnson lives by the power of a forgiving spirit

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n 2001, at age 16, U.S. professional soccer player Eddie Johnson became one of the youngest players to sign with a Major League Soccer team. Now, at age 30, the accomplished striker for D.C. United has garnered a list of accolades including MLS Comeback Player of the Year (2007, 2012), 15 USA International Goals, 11 World Cup Qualifying Goals, FIFA World Cup with USA (2006, 2014), and CONCACAF Gold Cup Winner (2007). His most important victory in life, though, happened at age 18 when he accepted Christ. “As a child, my grandma made us go to church every Sunday, but I never looked forward to it,” admits the Florida native. “But over time, I began to realize I was missing something. At just the right time, God sent a friend into my life to guide me. He encouraged me to begin my day by reading the Bible and showed me how to turn negatives into positives.” “Through God’s faithfulness, my life has changed completely,” Johnson shares. “Before turning my life over to Christ, I got easily frustrated with circumstances, didn’t handle relationships well, and had a bad attitude that often got me into a lot of trouble. With Christ working on my heart, I began to think positively for the first time in years and become more patient.” It is that outlook that has helped him deal with untimely injuries and a few bumpy seasons. He was able to fight through and return to the field to earn Comeback Player of the Year honors twice. Johnson has also learned the importance of forgiveness. “Through Jesus’ example of forgiving my sins, I have learned to forgive others and not hold grudges like I used to,” he admits. “Luke 6:31 says, ‘Just as you want others to do for you, do the same for them.’ Who am I to judge others when so much has been forgiven of me?” Johnson may be fierce on the soccer field, but his heart for the Lord is helping transform the lives of those around him. And learning the value of a forgiving spirit has been the key. -Jenna Sampson

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Brad Guzan U.S. goalkeeper Brad Guzan has remained steady in his sport and in his faith

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ur biggest breakthrough moments sometimes come when we least expect them. In 2005, United States goalkeeper Brad Guzan had thought he played poorly in place of Chivas USA’s injured keeper. The squad finished with an abysmal 4-22 record in its first season, and Guzan believed much of it fell on him. “I was young,” he says. “I wasn’t sure I was ready mentally, physically. And I wasn’t sure if I was good enough. We were not winning games…So that point was definitely a low for me. There were a lot of question marks going through my head.” At the end of the season, however, Guzan received an email inviting him to the U.S. National team’s camp in January. It was an invitation to represent his country. The thing he least expected. It was a huge confidence boost after a rookie year that seemed like it couldn’t have gone worse. And two years later, his stardom continued to rise, as he was named the 2007 MLS Goalkeeper of the Year. This led to an opportunity to play for Aston Villa in one of the world’s best soccer leagues, the English Premier League in 2008, where he has remained ever since. Being in such a competitive league hasn’t been easy, but he has come a long ways since Chivas USA’s 4-22 record in 2005. “It was a trying four years for me, the first four years in England,” Guzan says. “It was difficult because you would play a game, do well and the next week you would find yourself on the bench. So it was inconsistent football that I was experiencing and I was looking for the consistency… (But) you have to be professional. You have to be persistent…You just have to keep fighting...I knew that if I kept going I would be given an opportunity at some point.” One thing that has remained consistent, in a position as mentally staking as goalkeeping, is the thing keeps him steady in all circumstances—good or bad. “When things are going well for you, you can’t get too high,” Guzan says. “When things aren’t going your way, you can’t get too low…I think as athletes, everyone gets caught in the heat of the moment, then maybe do things that they regret later on. For me, I am no different. I am not perfect…But God loves everyone. You have to be able to open yourself to Him and allow Him into your life. And if you do that, the forgiveness, the relief that comes off your shoulders, knowing that you have God’s love, you are able to follow Him through your life’s journey.” In March of 2013, Guzan started in place of an injured Tim Howard for the men’s national team in two 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil qualifiers and did not give up a goal in either match. “For me, how my personal life, my faith life and my sport life—they all come together,” Guzan says. “I think they have to. I think that is just natural. You don’t have one without the other and most importantly you have to have Jesus in your life…As I said, it hasn’t always been a rosy road to success. There are always going to be bumps along the way. And through those difficulties, Jesus is what helped me get through all of those struggles.” -Stephen Copeland 17


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Lee Young-Pyo Beloved Korean Lee Young-Pyo had his heart changed forever after searching for God and talking with friends

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hen it was all over—the Fred Astaire footwork, the subtle wizardry, the impressive globetrotting—there was only adoration. As Young-Pyo Lee walked off the pitch for the final time as a professional soccer player in the Vancouver Whitecaps’ 2013 season finale, the crowd at BC Place stood en masse and showered the Major League Soccer defender with cheers for two stellar seasons as a hometown Whitecap and 14 years of sublime professional soccer. The sellout crowd—21,000 strong— raucously chanted “Y.P. Lee!” Some fans held up a massive South Korean flag with an image of Lee in the center, covering the traditional yin-yang symbol. His teammates encircled him and tossed him up into the air over and over, like Little Leaguers at the denouement of a feel-good movie. “God is the most important thing to me, not football,” Lee says. “Football is only one of many ways I can glorify and serve my Lord.” Lee, who was 36 when he retired, became one of the most popular and decorated Asian footballers in history. The native of Hongcheongun earned 127 caps—third-most all-time among South Koreans— and competed in three World Cups (2002, 2006, 2010), helping the Taeguk Warriors reach the 2002 Cup semifinals. After starting his pro career in 2000 in the South Korean Professional Football League, the 5-foot-10, 150-pound Lee made the jump to Europe’s upper echelon in 2002 when he signed with PSV Eindhoven of the Dutch Eredivisie. He followed a three-year stretch in the Netherlands with stints in the English Premier League (Tottenham Hotspur, 2005-08), the German Bundesliga (Borussia Dortmund, 2008-09) and the Saudi Arabian Professional League (Al-Hilal, 2009-11). For his final two seasons, he opted for the MLS’s Whitecaps despite reportedly receiving far more lucrative offers overseas, partially because he thought Vancouver would provide a better chance for him to learn the business operations side of soccer. What Lee marvels at most, though, is not his illustrious soccer career, but his salvation. Growing up as a nominal Buddhist, he put his faith in Christ after some Christian friends shared their faith and challenged him to read the Bible. “When I honestly searched for the truth through reading and close friends, I was amazed,” Lee says. “God showed me that He did exist, and my heart was changed forever.” -Joshua Cooley

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Fabio THROUGH TRIALS AND HARDSHIP, BRAZILIAN GOALKEEPER FABIO GREW IN KNOWLEDGE AND WISDOM

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ans call Fabio “the blue wall” and consider him a hero. But for Brazilian goalkeeper Fábio Deivson Lopes Maciel, who has won numerous titles and been on Brazil’s national team at every level, the road to the titles is what’s most important. In 2007, his career was interrupted when he ruptured the ligaments in his left knee during a key game for his club, Cruzeiro, which was playing against its rival. Some thought he would never return. “It was a difficult time but important for me to revise my way of living and it was essential so God could work in my life in a way that I had never allowed him,” he says. “God is the basis of my life.” Adding to his troubles was the fact that people doubted that he was even injured because his right knee hit the goal post, but it was his left knee that was injured. “People doubted my character, suspicious, said I was lying, that I was actually taken off the team,” he says. “The pain brought me closer to God. It was the pain of an injury, the recovery of the crowd, the loss of a title, to see the world commenting the atypical goal that I took from my back by doubting my character which has become the largest and best decision of my life: to accept Jesus as my Lord and Saviour. I gave my whole life to him.” Despite doctors telling Fabio he would return in six months, he was back on the field in half that time. The following season, Cruzeiro made the finals once again, and this time his team won. “Many would say I was not going to play football and not return to Cruzeiro,” Fabio says. “But God put me down to restore me giving me the opportunity to walk with Him and to put me where I am today. God is amazing. Exactly one year after the hard times I went through, He restored me. The pain I went through turned into a great victory. I played in 200 games for Cruzeiro, I was a champion and considered the best goalkeeper of that tournament.” One more title followed in 2013 and Fabio was named best goalkeeper of the Brazilian Championship. The experiences led him to the understanding that God is real and directs all things. “Everything that happened in my life was planned by God,” he says. “He determined everything…My basis is God in my life. He waited to put me in places and give me things I never imagined. Not in my wildest dreams could I have imagined the life and blessed family I have today…He is a true God who makes it happen.” -Brett Honeycutt

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Cyrille Domoraud The Ivory Coast’s Cyrille Domoraud has focused on the good instead of the bad, and in turn he has been able to ‘thank God for the chance to be part of His kingdom’

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or Cyrille Domoraud, the 2006 World Cup represented both the greatest triumph and most difficult challenge of his career. In late 2005, Domoraud, then a 34-year-old fullback from Côte d’Ivoire (Ivory Coast), captained the Elephants’ national soccer team to its first-ever World Cup berth, a historic event that prompted a temporary ceasefire in the nation’s six-year civil war. But Domoraud rode the bench the first two games—close losses to Argentina and the Netherlands—before getting a red card in the Elephants’ final game, a win over Serbia and Montenegro. “It was a blow to feel like my efforts hadn’t been rewarded,” he says. “But that’s part of the job.” Earlier in his career, Domoraud might have called the whole episode bad juju. As a native Ivorian, Domoraud grew up in a culture steeped in witchcraft. As a young player he used to wear a good luck ring—one of many talismans he owned, some of which he received from his parents—in the hopes of currying spiritual protection and fending off evil spirits. But thanks in part to the faithful witness of his sister, Domoraud became a Christian in 1999 and eschewed his superstitious upbringing. By then, his impressive playing career was in full swing. After starting with several French clubs from 1992 to 1999, he spent a season with Italian Serie A giant Inter Milan in 1999-2000 before playing with teams in France, Spain, Turkey and, finally, his homeland. His last professional season came in 2008 with Africa Sports Abidjan. Since retiring, he has devoted more time to his Cyrille Domoraud Training Centre in Abidjan, which has produced, among others, Ivorian striker Wilfried Bony of Swansea City (English Premier League). But Domoraud will always be remembered in the Ivory Coast as part of the famed 2006 World Cup team, despite the temporary frustrations that followed. “I was just delighted to be at the World Cup and thank God for allowing me to be a part of it, for it was He who enabled me to go,” Domoraud says. “It was a miracle—a great moment He gave me in my life and in my career. I would never have thought about becoming a professional football player but for His leading. So rather than ask why the negative things happened, I thank God for the chance to be part of His kingdom and to play in the World Cup.” -Joshua Cooley


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Jacob Mulenga Despite not playing soccer until he was in high school, Jacob Mulenga’s fast rise has caused him to lean on God

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occer hasn’t always been at the top of Zambian national soccer team member Jacob Mulenga’s favorite sports list. When he was young, he was addicted to motocross. His weekdays were spent going to school, but his weekends were filled with motocross training and racing. Soccer didn’t become a part of his life until high school. Even then, though, he said he “mainly just watched.” Motocross was fulfilling his competitive desires. Soccer was for fun. “I did not play for any youth teams or academies—just playing for fun at school,” he recalls. “I learned a lot basically from watching. I learned a lot from watching on TV.” But after high school, he decided to get serious about soccer. “After High School I thought, ‘OK, now before you decide what you want to do with your life, play football for a bit and see what happens.’…(former Zambian player and coach) Kalusha (Bwalya) saw me play…and said ‘You know you could be good at it.’ For me it was still a dream. I would joke about it with my friends in high school, ‘One day I will play professional football.’” Despite not playing soccer until late in his career, his rise to elite level was fast. He made Zambia’s national team when he was 20, and he scored in his first game—a 1-0 victory against Togo in a World Cup qualifier in 2004. From there he went to the next two World Cup qualifying matches in Senegal and Mali and became a fixture on the national team. But his rapid success didn’t turn into confidence. “It was scary. I was nervous. It was a whole new world to me,” he says. “I had never been in front of the public eye that much before. I had no idea what playing for the national team was. You hear about it; you read about it. Now you put yourself in a position where you are ready to be criticized. Everything you do—good or bad—is going to be criticized and you are going to have someone say something about it.” He gradually became comfortable, though, and in 2010 he scored two goals in two games at the Africa Cup. The following two Africa Cups, in 2012 and 2013, though, were met with disappointment. He didn’t play in either one, including in 2012 when Zambia won the title. “For me it was really hard, you knew in 2010 you played a big role in the Africa Cup and now you could not be part of it,” he says. “That was a big blow for me…you are happy but every time someone talks about it, it reminds you of not being part of it.” “I used to ask God so many times, ‘Why is this happening to me when I come to you, pray to you…and everyone else is okay? What did I do to deserve this? ... For me it is always why? Why this? Why that? Stop with the why. First of all I learned…that you are not in control. No matter how much you try, you are not in control of things that happen...if I did not have Jesus...I would be so lost. “I know that I am extremely blessed. I am someone who can do anything in football. I know my strength does not come from me. It comes from above….God won’t take you to the next level if you don’t know how to handle the pressure…the higher you go the worse (the pressure) becomes. “Everything that is built without God is not worth building. I am not going to sit here and lie and say, ‘I live a perfect, God-fearing life.’ I have problems sometimes. My faith is tested…You have so many challenges. You have so many things that come to you. You want someone to talk to. I think when you bring someone to Christianity, you really have to help them understand, ‘Listen, God is going to be the center of your life.’…It is not saying you aren’t going to have challenges. You are going to have challenges as a Christian and you are going to have trouble as a Christian…But you know in all that, you are going to be victorious.” -Brett Honeycutt 25


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Presents

trai n i n g table


MLB BASEBALL SERIES:

LESSONS

READ THROUGH THE BIBLE IN ONE YEAR Psalm 119:1 says, “I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.” Like the Psalmist says, it’s important for us as Christians to know God’s Word so that we stave off sin in our lives. And the only way to know God’s Word is to read God’s Word. Below, you will see two ways to read through the Bible in one year. The first is from Beginning to End (Genesis to Revelation) and the second is Chronological (as the events happened in the Bible). We encourage you to select one so that you can begin seeing the wonders God’s Word holds for you as a believer this year.

Q U O TA B L E S

Growing up, I was so young in my faith, I didn’t understand what it meant to walk with Christ every day. As I got older, I realized it wasn’t about G. Flume going to church or managing your sin, but about daily dying to myself and surrendering my life to Christ.”

- Baltimore Orioles slugger Chris Davis, who led the majors in home runs (53) and RBIs (138) last season. Scan the QR code to read a feature on Chris Davis from Sports Spectrum’s Fall 2013 issue. 28

SPORTS SPECTRUM

FROM

THE

DIAMOND

Monday “Then he said to them all: ‘Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.’” Luke 9:23

Chris Davis ‘Daily Dying’

In the above passage, we see that Jesus tells us what’s needed to be His disciple. We must deny ourselves, take up our cross each day and then follow Him. What does all of that mean, though? Baltimore Orioles slugger Chris Davis, who led the majors in home runs (53) and RBIs (138) last season, delves into that: “Growing up, I was so young in my faith, I didn’t understand what it meant to walk with Christ every day. As I got older, I realized it wasn’t about going to church or managing your sin, but about daily dying to myself and surrendering my life to Christ.” Dying to self means sacrificing your desires for Christ’s desires. What you want, may not be what He wants—meaning that if things don’t work out the way we would like, we have to trust that God has something different and better. First, we trust in what Christ said. Then we trust Him with what happens, that He has the ability and can make it work for His good and ours—even when we are hurt and don’t understand. I Sam 25-27

Jud 10-12

— Brett Honeycutt, Sports Spectrum

Tuesday “Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it.” Proverbs 22:6

Grandfather ’s Far m

I grew up playing baseball on teams and on my grandfather’s farm in North Carolina. I’ll admit, though, the lazy Sunday afternoons hitting and catching the ball with my brother and dad on the farm were more enjoyable than playing on a team. No stress (why stress missing fly balls?), no disappointments (who could be disappointed and why?), and no strikeouts (we hit until my dad’s arm was tired). It was about learning a game, having fun, and spending time with each other. But we didn’t spend time with each other merely playing baseball, we also relaxed with my mom and grandparents in my grandparent’s house after we finished playing. The experience taught me that sports can be fun and competitive, and that fun doesn’t mean not being competitive (I competed as an NCAA Division I athlete, so I learned to have fun while also being competitive). Most importantly, though, the experience taught me that spending time with family is important because we learned life lessons (what to do and also what not to do), we learned about love (despite differences); and we learned about God (through our parents, directly and indirectly). Today, begin a heritage for your children by showing them Christ and living out his Word on a daily basis. Not merely by talking about it, but by doing it. I Sam 28-31

Jud 13-15

— Brett Honeycutt, Sports Spectrum

Wednesday “Then people brought little children to Jesus for him to place his hands on them and pray for them. But the disciples rebuked them. Jesus said, ‘Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.’” Matthew 19:13-14

Simply ‘Come’

When my brother and I were children, we often went to minor league baseball games with the intent of getting autographs from the opposing and home teams, as well as photos of certain players. The players were gracious and happily signed or posed for photos. I can’t recall anyone ever saying, “No.” That same attitude is what Jesus was talking about when he said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.’” We often hear that the implication in the verses above is that Jesus values children and that we need child-like faith to come to Christ, and that is true, but it’s also about not denying innocence. When children are genuinely interested in God, Jesus, the Gospel or anything spiritual, don’t think of them as mere children who don’t yet have a grasp on things. Do as Jesus said, and let the children come to Him—because this is the type of innocence He desires. — Brett Honeycutt, Sports Spectrum II Sam 1-3 Jud 16-18 TO SUBSCRIBE TO SPORTS SPECTRUM: CALL 1-866-821-2971


WEEK 1 Thursday “Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.” 2 Timothy 4:8

A Home Run and a Diamond Ring

The first year my dad bought season tickets to the local minor league baseball team in Charlotte, N.C., was 1982. That year we won so many things because of having the “lucky number” in a program, winning trivia question contests or winning a random drawing (based on your seat ticket). The most impressive prize that we won, though, was a diamond ring that we gave to my mom. A player had to hit a home run over the local jeweler’s sign in left field (or in a hole in the sign, I can’t specifically remember), and the player and a fan would each win a ring. As precious and as awesome as that prize was, the most incredible prize will be the crown of righteousness that believers will receive. Treasures on earth are nice and beautiful to look at, but treasures in Heaven are what we should strive to obtain. — Brett Honeycutt, Sports Spectrum II Sam 4-7 Jud 19-21

what you've missed in the ss digimag MIND OF MCCUTCHEN

Inside the mentality that made 2013 a year to remember

Friday “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom; all who follow his precepts have good understanding. To him belongs eternal praise.” Psalm 111:10

To Know and to Follow

Pittsburgh Pirates star Andrew McCutchen echoed the sentiments in the Scripture above when he talked to Sports Spectrum about his MVP year last season. “I know there are a lot of people who would love to have the MVP. It’s awesome to have it. But when you start to figure out that the Lord is the foundation of your life, the MVP is nothing compared to the love of God and what He can do for your life. There’s no comparison,” said McCutchen, who led the Pirates to the franchise’s first playoff appearance and first winning record in 21 years. The Psalm above reminds us that the foundation McCutchen is talking about is found only in knowing God and following Him. When we do that, we will experience his love in good times and in bad times. Nothing apart from God is as sustaining or fulfilling. — Brett Honeycutt, Sports Spectrum

II Sam 8-12

Ruth

What’s the key to success? How did you get the MVP? What makes you so calm and confident? McCutchen’s start to the 2013 season, however, wasn’t exactly MVP-caliber. After signing a fiveyear contract extension the season before, McCutchen was quickly dubbed the savior of the Pittsburgh Pirates, the one who would help them bury their 20-year playoff slump and break their 20-year losing season streak, the longest in professional sports…

Weekender “For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.” Colossians 1:13-14

Going Long

Read Colossians 1:1-14 and examine the text in the context of your life. Bear fruit in every good work. Grow in the knowledge of God. Be strengthened in the Lord. Exhibit endurance and patience. Give joyful thanks to God. Don’t view it as a checklist. Rather, view it as ways for us to enjoy God and grow in Him.

Scan the QR code to finish reading our feature on Andrew McCutchen in our January 2014 DigiMag. Follow these steps to access your digital magazines: 1) Go to www. sportsspectrum.com. 2) Click “View Online” underneath the “Magazine” tab. 3) Enter your username/password or customer number. 4) ENJOY READING!

II Sam 13-15 I Sam 1-3 II Sam 16-18 I Sam 4-8

Scan the QR code to see Pittsburgh Pirates’ Andrew McCutchen accept his NL MVP award. W E B S I T E : w w w. S p o r t s S p e c t r u m . c o m

ince being awarded the National League MVP in November, Pittsburgh Pirates star Andrew McCutchen gets the questions all the time.

Mike McGinnis

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THE FINAL THEY SAID FOUR IT

SERIES:

- Jimmy Rollins, Philadelphia Phillies shortstop

- Mike Pelfrey, Minnesota Twins pitcher

SPORTS SPECTRUM

PLAYERS

Monday “A man without self-control is like a city broken into and left without walls.” Proverbs 25:28

Jimmy Rollins: Life and Light

Philadelphia Phillies three-time All-Star shortstop Jimmy Rollins realizes the importance of his position as a Major League Baseball player and the potential impact—good or bad—that he could have on children. “There are times I get frustrated and angry like everyone else and sometimes feel like cursing or arguing about a call that I don’t like,” Rollins told Baseball Chapel, which helps connect chaplains with major and minor league teams. “When that happens, though, I remember that there are a lot of kids watching me and because I want to be a good example, I control myself and don’t say anything. Jesus commanded us to ‘let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.’ (Matthew 5:16)” How are you living your life? Is it with self-control? Live with the understanding that people will be influenced by your life—good or bad. — Brett Honeycutt, Sports Spectrum II Sam 19-21 I Sam 9-12

Mike Pelfrey: Living and Ser ving

When Minnesota Twins pitcher Mike Pelfrey was in the minor leagues in 2006, he began to search out the deep questions about God and life in general. Why are we here? What does a personal relationship with God mean? What does it look like? Why does all of that matter? Pelfrey came to find out that our sins separated us from God (Isaiah 59:2), but that God loved us so much that He gave His son as a sacrifice to take away our sins and bridge the gap between us and God (John 3:16). “Being able to play baseball has been great. It was what I had dedicated my entire life to,” he told Baseball Chapel. “Now, however, living for and serving Christ is the most important thing to me, and this has given real purpose to my baseball career and everything else I do.” Have you ever wondered about your purpose in life? If so, heed the words in Ecclesiastes 12:13 from Solomon, the wisest man to ever live: “Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man.” II Sam 22-24 I Sam 13-14

— Brett Honeycutt, Sports Spectrum

Wednesday “For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the

present nor the future,nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:38-39

Jake Peavy: Love Unchanging

JAKE PEAVY

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MLB

this is the whole duty of man.” Ecclesiastes 12:13

I still make mistakes but I know that God’s love for me will not change depending on how ‘good’ I am.” - Jake Peavy, Boston Red Sox pitcher

FROM

Tuesday “Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for

MIKE PELFREY

Being able to play baseball has been great. It was what I had dedicated my entire life to...Now, however, living for and serving Christ is the most important thing to me, and this has given real purpose to my baseball career and everything else I do.”

JIMMY ROLLINS

There are times I get frustrated and angry like everyone else and sometimes feel like cursing or arguing about a call that I don’t like... When that happens, though, I remember that there are a lot of kids watching me and because I want to be a good example, I control myself and don’t say anything.”

LESSONS

Boston Red Sox pitcher Jake Peavy admits he’s not perfect, but he also realizes that we can’t be because we’re broken and sinful individuals who need God, not only for salvation but each day of our lives. “I still make mistakes but I know that God’s love for me will not change depending on how ‘good’ I am,” he told Baseball Chapel. We can’t be good enough, and that’s the point—God knows that. And although we are to live life each day in pursuit of God and in pursuit of righteousness, we do so with the understanding that when we sin, God will pick us up, carry us and keep us close to Him. Live with the understanding that nothing can separate you from God’s love (Romans 8:38-39) and that your sins will be daily forgiven if you ask. As I John 1:8-10 says, “If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word is not in us.” — Brett Honeycutt, Sports Spectrum I Kings 1-2 I Sam 15-17 TO SUBSCRIBE TO SPORTS SPECTRUM: CALL 1-866-821-2971


WEEK 2 Thursday “The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness

The beauty of God’s creation in Hawaii began to be a daily reminder that there was something and someone bigger than me that was missing in my life.”

of people, who suppress the truth by their wickedness, since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.” Romans 1:18-20

Jason Grilli: The Creator ’s Creation

I Kings 3-5

I Sam 18-20; Ps 11, 59

— Brett Honeycutt, Sports Spectrum

JASON GRILLI

“The beauty of God’s creation in Hawaii began to be a daily reminder that there was something and someone bigger than me that was missing in my life,” said Pittsburgh Pirates pitcher Jason Grilli about his first year as a minor leaguer when he was in Hawaii. “During a Bible study in the stands at the University of Hawaii, I realized what was missing in my life. I opened up my heart and received Jesus Christ as my Savior and Lord. I’ve never looked back since.” Grilli saw what Romans says—that God has revealed Himself through His creation. The verse suggests that it’s so evident that no one is without excuse. As Christians, this is great news because God is constantly at work showing Himself to us (for encouragement and to appreciate the wonders and intricacies of creation) and to unbelievers, who are desperately searching for meaning to this life. The next time someone points to nature as beautiful, remind them that God created it to enjoy and to know Him.

Friday “We also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; per-

Freddie Freeman: Potter and Clay

Atlanta Braves 24-year-old star Freddie Freeman lost his mom to cancer more than 10 years ago when he was in his early teens. At first, he asked the question many ask when a loved one is lost: Why? Why did this happen? Why did she have to go so soon? Why? Why? Why? Early on Freeman pushed God away, but a few years ago he came to the realization that God took his mom so she wouldn’t have to suffer any longer. “My mom was in pain, and He took her to a nice place, and she’s not in pain anymore,” he told the Priority Magazine’s Robert Mitchell. “I finally truly believed that a couple of years later. Then I was just like, ‘I have to do this for Him because He did what’s best for my mom.’ Faith plays into it a lot.” Isaiah 45:9 also asks a great question in respect to asking God ‘Why?’: “Does the clay say to the potter, ‘What are you making?’ Does your work say, ‘The potter has no hands’?” Trusting God that He knows what is best will get us through the difficult days. It won’t take away the pain, but it will, through His help, make the pain bearable and produce perseverance, character; and hope. I Kings 6-7 I Sam 21-24 — Brett Honeycutt, Sports Spectrum

Weekender ““The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him.” Colossians 1:15-16

Going Long

Read Colossians 1:15-23, and stand in the mystery of Jesus Christ and the gospel. “He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.” Allow the magnificence and mystery of the gospel to strengthen the purpose of your daily life. I Kings 8-9

FREDDIE FREEMAN

severance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.” Romans 5:3-5

- Jason Grilli, Pittsburgh Pirates pitcher

My mom was in pain, and He [God] took her to a nice place and she’s not in pain anymore...I finally truly believed that a couple of years later. ” - Freddie Freeman, Atlanta Braves first baseman

Freddie Freeman of the Atlanta Braves realized at a young age that trusting God with difficult situations was the only way to live.

Ps 7, 27, 31, 34, 52

I Kings 10-11 Ps 56, 120, 140-142 Kevin C. Cox / Getty Images

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MLB BASEBALL SERIES:

LESSONS

FROM

THE

DIAMOND

Monday “I will tell of the kindnesses of the LORD, the deeds for which he is to be praised, according to all the LORD has done for us—yes, the many good things he has done for Israel, according to his compassion and many kindnesses.” Isaiah 63:7

What It Tr uly Means To Know

A LOOK BACK AT ONE OF THE MOST MEMORABLE SPEECHES IN SPORTS AND THE TOPIC OF WEDNESDAY’S DEVOTIONAL... “Fans, for the past two weeks you have been reading about the bad break I got. Yet today I consider myself the luckiest man on the face of this earth…. Sure I’m lucky. Who wouldn’t consider it an honor to have known Jacob Ruppert? Also, the builder of baseball’s greatest empire, Ed Barrow? To have spent six years with that wonderful little fellow, Miller Huggins? Then to have spent the next nine years with that outstanding leader, that smart student of psychology, the best manager in baseball today, Joe McCarthy? Sure I’m lucky. When the New York Giants, a team you would give your right arm to beat, and vice versa, sends you a gift—that’s something. When everybody down to the groundskeepers and those boys in white coats remember you with trophies—that’s something. When you have a wonderful mother-in-law who takes sides with you in squabbles with her own daughter—that’s something. When you have a father and a mother who work all their lives so you can have an education and build your body—it’s a blessing. When you have a wife who has been a tower of strength and shown more courage than you dreamed existed—that’s the finest I know. So I close in saying that I may have had a tough break, but I have an awful lot to live for.” Scan the QR code to watch Lou Gehrig’s “Luckiest Man Alive” speech. 32

In 2012, Sports Illustrated asked Major League Baseball players who they thought was the nicest player in baseball. Jim Thome, who played 22 years and retired at the end of that season, was the top vote-getter. It’s one thing for fans, who know an athlete only by his statistics and sound bites on ESPN’s Sports Center, to vote for a player, but when people who play with and against you vote for you, it says so much more. Teammates and opponents know players better than fans, who, at best can only have skewed opinions because of their limited personal access to athletes. It’s a perfect picture of why Isaiah can give us a personal description of God’s kindness—because he knows God. When we know God, and that comes through spending personal time with Him, we can see His goodness—and we will tell of his kindness to everyone we know. — Brett Honeycutt, Sports Spectrum I Kings 12-14 I Sam 25-27

Tuesday “This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters.” I John 3:16

An Easy Decision Based On Love

Two days after hearing about the Japanese attack of Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941, future Major League Baseball Hall of Famer Bob Feller shrugged off a new contract and volunteered for the U.S. Navy—while in the prime of his career. He was the first American pro athlete to enlist in the military and he didn’t opt for easy assignments, instead asking for combat missions. For Feller, it was simple—he loved his country and wanted to do something that he thought would best help, even he died doing it. For Christians, Jesus set that example on the cross. One major difference, though, is that Jesus knew He would die—but He loved us enough to go through the pain and barbaric torture leading up to his death so that we could live free; not just in this life, but in the life to come. For Christ, though it was painful , it was an easy decision because He loved us. Ponder Christ’s sacrifice whenever you are tempted to sin or to not speak up for what He did for you, and instead tell others so that they can enjoy the freedom with you in this life and in the life to come. — Brett Honeycutt, Sports Spectrum I Kings 15-17 Ps 17, 35, 54, 63

Wednesday “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, And naked I shall return there. The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away. Blessed be the name of the LORD.” Job 1:21 (NASB)

How Character Is Revealed

In the midst of trials, how do you react? Lou Gehrig’s “Luckiest man alive” speech (left) in the summer of 1939 at Yankee Stadium is remembered for Gehrig’s humble attitude. After receiving awards and hugs from friends, former and current players and team officials, and applause from the sold-out stadium of more than 61,000, Gehrig, who had just been diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (known simply now as Lou Gehrig’s Disease), stood on the field and began talking, “Fans, for the past two weeks you have been reading about the bad break I got. Yet today I consider myself the luckiest man on the face of this earth.” He went on to talk about how thankful he was to know people and how thankful he was to have a great mom and dad, a great wife and mother-in-law, and how blessed he was. The full speech is in the left column. Without saying anything about himself, he said everything about himself—he was selfless, valuing people, life and little else. Gehrig, a 17-year major league veteran and future Hall of Famer, died less than two years after his speech at the age of 37. Job responded a strong way, too. Despite losing nearly everything he had (children, possessions) and being overcome by physical ailments, Job blessed the Lord. Like Gehrig, Job’s character was revealed in his trial. How do you react in trials? Do you curse the Lord or complain to Him, focusing only on your current troubles, or do you thank Him for the good He has given you your entire life? I Kings 18-20

I Sam 28-31; Ps 18

— Brett Honeycutt, Sports Spectrum TO SUBSCRIBE TO SPORTS SPECTRUM: CALL 1-866-821-2971


Thursday “If you pour yourself out for the hungry and satisfy the desire of the afflicted, then shall your

WEEK 3

light rise in the darkness and your gloom be as the noonday.” Isaiah 58:10

Faith In Action

Baseball Hall of Famer Roberto Clemente was a selfless servant in his attempt to send food and clothing to Managua, Nicaragua, on Dec. 31, 1972, after a massive earthquake devastated the city. Unfortunately, he was killed when the plane he was on crashed. Although Clemente was 38, he had been playing well for the Pittsburgh Pirates. He won the 1971 World Series MVP and had just garnered his 3,000th hit (only 28 players have ever accomplished the feat). He could have put off “doing good things” for people until after his career, but he chose to help people instead of waiting to help when it was convenient. That was Clemente, though, who had used his offseasons to help his native country of Puerto Rico and other Latin American countries by taking food and baseball equipment to people there. He was doing exactly what James 2:15-17 says: “Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to them, ‘Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,’ but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.” Let your faith be a living faith, acting on what you believe, instead of a dead faith that only talks about what you should do. — Brett Honeycutt, Sports Spectrum I Kings 21-22 Ps 121, 123-125, 128-130

Friday “You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.” Matthew 5:14-16

Impacting A Generation

Mariano Rivera, who retired last season after playing 19 years for the New York Yankees, believed that his ability to pitch was given to him so that he could glorify God. “God has put me in a special place to talk about Him,” Rivera told ESPN.com senior writer, Howard Bryant. “That’s what I meant when I said it was impossible for me to talk about myself. It really has nothing to do with baseball. I’m here to talk about Him. Him alone.” Even if teammates, opponents, team officials, reporters and fans didn’t agree with or accept Rivera’s faith, it’s interesting that they all realized Rivera’s impact was something more than baseball. Former Yankee teammate Tino Martinez, who was a core member of the team’s four World Series titles from 1996-2000, said it best when talking about Rivera’s impact to Bryant: “Look, we’re all replaceable. Baseball can replace a first baseman, a shortstop, a third baseman. But you can’t replace him. When he’s not there, it will all change. He’s the single individual in the game where everything will be completely different without him. The way you approach the Yankees will be different. Everyone is wondering what that will be like.” Does your faith cause people to see God? If not, start living in such a way “that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.” II Kings 1-3 II Sam 1-4 — Brett Honeycutt, Sports Spectrum

Weekender “He is the one we proclaim, admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone fully mature in Christ. To this end I strenuously contend with all the energy Christ so powerfully works in me.” Colossians 1:28-29

MLB SEASON PREDICTIONS FROM MANAGING EDITOR BRETT HONEYCUTT Star power: Masahiro Tanaka, who went 24-0 with a 1.27 ERA in Japan’s Nippon Professional Baseball league last season and signed a seven-year, $155 million contract with the New York Yankees, will have a solid season but won’t come close to last year’s numbers in the brutal American League East. Prediction: 15-8, 3.00. World Series: The New York Yankees will beat the Boston Red Sox in the American League Championship Series and the Pittsburgh Pirates will beat the St. Louis Cardinals in the National League Championship Series, with the Yankees beating the Pirates in seven games to win the World Series. Best Pitcher: After two National League Cy Young Awards in three years, L.A. Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw will win the award again. Best Hitter: Even though Detroit Tigers slugger Miguel Cabrera has been solid the last few seasons, Baltimore Orioles breakout star Chris Davis will build on the momentum from last season and become the league’s best hitter.

-Brett Honeycutt, Sports Spectrum

Going Long

Read Colossians 1:24 through Colossians 2:5 and think about the traits of servanthood exhibited in Paul. His obedience and suffering are a reflection of his belief. In God’s will, Paul feels most free, even if it is difficult.

II Kings 4-5

Ps 6, 8-10, 14, 16, 19, 21

II Kings 6-8 I Chron 1-2 JIJI Press / AFP / Getty Images

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DISTINXION LESSONS

FROM

THE

ZELLER

F A M I LY

PROGRAM

Monday “He who spares the rod, hates his son, but he who loves him is careful to discipline him” Proverbs

13:24

The Ar t of Discipline DistinXion is a non-profit organization founded by the Zeller family as a way to provide elite basketball and cheerleading training, while also building family relationships through character training. The organization is dedicated to not only develop better athletes, but better people and stronger families through summer camps, private training, speaking engagements, and tournaments. DistinXion launched its pilot year in 2009 with one camp and 30 kids and has grown exponentially each year. DistinXion’s goals are outlined in a trifecta model including: • Developing character and sports skills • Facilitating relationships with campers, parents, partners, coaches and sponsors • Empowering others physically, relationally, and spiritually DistinXion currently offers: • Basketball Camps • Cheerleading Camps • Tournaments • Training • 5K Run/Walk • Speaking • Scholarships Scan the QR code to go to DistinXion’s website to find out how you can get involved. There are volunteer and partnership opportunities available with DistinXion.

I am the youngest of twelve children. As the baby of the family, my older siblings would tell you that Dad never disciplined me. I will tell you that is not true. The truth is that he didn’t spank me very much. He disciplined me by giving me “that look.” That look is the one that I saw right before he spanked my older siblings! I disciplined myself by stopping whatever I was doing when I saw “that look”. Dad disciplined me when I made a mistake, but I had every opportunity to discipline myself. When I got lazy, he reminded me by giving me consequences for my lack of self-discipline. He wasn’t trying to control me. He was trying to show me how to discipline myself to become a productive citizen in our society. My dad showed that he loved me and that he cared how I turned out. He loved me enough that he took the time to spank me when I needed it. And he taught me that there are consequences for actions. The Lord, similarly, chastens those He loves. How amazing is that? He loves us enough to make us better people. — Steve Zeller, Distinxion Staff II Kings 9-11 Ps 43-45, 49, 84-85, 87

Tuesday “It is the LORD who goes before you. He will be with you; He will not leave you or forsake you.

Do not fear or be dismayed.” Deuteronomy 31:8

Stay With You

Life is confusing sometimes. Our circumstances are constantly changing, and at times it feels like the grounds on which we have built our lives are shaky. This is certainly true in basketball. There is winning. There is losing. There are injuries. There are times when the team isn’t meshing like it should. However, for the believer, there is one constant amidst the shifting sands of life: Jesus Christ. The Bible says that He is “the same yesterday and today and forever” (Hebrews 13:8). Though life can seem overwhelming and making it through a certain situation seem impossible, the Lord promises to stay with us always. In times of struggle and stress we can hold fast to the truth that the Sovereign Ruler of the universe is right by our side. Not only is He by our side, but He also “goes before” us. This life-altering truth allows us to not “fear or be dismayed” regardless of whatever is in front of us. Jesus never changes. He never fails. He never leaves you nor forsakes you. And He “goes before you.” There is truth when you proclaim that you are a “follower of Jesus Christ.” Every follower has a leader, and Jesus Christ is your leader if you believe in Him. Meditate on this rock-solid truth and let it change your outlook amidst trials and tribulations. — Jordan Jones, Distinxion Staff II Kings 12-14 I Chron 1-5

Wednesday “Wait for the LORD; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the LORD!” Psalm 27:14

Hard Times

Have you ever experienced a losing season in sports? It’s frustrating isn’t it? What about in life? Are you currently questioning God’s timing? Maybe you can’t understand how God could possibly be working together all things for your good during times of pain and hurt. We can learn a lot from King David’s writings in the Psalms. David has people consistently chasing after him in order to take his life. Talk about hard times! In many of the Psalms we hear David crying out to the Lord for help in times of distress. Yet in Psalm 27, we find an absolute gem. Despite being in incredibly hard times, David is able to find true peace by resting in the Lord’s timing. He says to himself, “Wait for the Lord!” This is not often our first response in times of sorrow. Our flesh wants us to doubt God’s goodness and question His timing. Do not listen to the flesh! Dive in to God’s word and fill yourself with the Truth! Even though it might be difficult to see the Lord is working in you, preparing you for future glory. In times of suffering, do not lose heart. All of it is 100 percent meaningful. If you are in Christ, God will never leave you or forsake you. Isaiah 40:31 says, “But they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength.” Preach this truth to yourself daily! II Kings 15-17 Ps 73, 77-78

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SPORTS SPECTRUM

— Chris Hueni, Distinxion Staff

TO SUBSCRIBE TO SPORTS SPECTRUM: CALL 1-866-821-2971


WEEK 4

Thursday “Now it came to pass, as they went, that he entered into a certain village: and a certain wom-

an named Martha received him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, which also sat at Jesus’ feet, and heard his word. But Martha was cumbered about much serving, and came to him, and said, Lord, dost thou not care that my sister hath left me to serve alone? Bid her therefore that she help me. And Jesus answered and said unto her, ‘Martha, Martha, thou art careful and troubled about many things: But one thing is needful: and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her.’” Luke 10: 38-42

Life Comes Down to Focus

“You’re distracted!” “Get your head in the game!” “What were you thinking?” Have these common phrases ever been carelessly yelled at you during the heat of competition by a coach, teammate, or parent? How frustrating these statements can be! Unfortunately, there are distractions all around us tempting us to lose focus on what is really important. Just like we can get distracted during a game, we can get sidetracked in life and forget to keep our focus on Christ. In the book of Luke, Jesus spends time with Martha and Mary. Martha was distracted when Jesus visited her home. She was busy with all the preparations for dinner. But, Mary was focused as she sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what He said. In the heat of the moment, Martha cried out her frustrations to Jesus saying, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!” Jesus replies to Martha in Luke 10:41-42, “…You are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.” So many times we act like Martha did in this situation—distracted by things that are insignificant. Make a point to keep your focus on Jesus today! Push your worst distractions aside. — Erika Hunt, Distinxion Staff II Kings 18-19 I Chron 6

Friday ”May the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O Lord, my Strength and my Redeemer.” Psalm 19:14

@CodyZeller: Checking to see if a birth certificate is required to register as a @DistinXion camper this summer. I think I could pass as a 14 year old! March 25

@CodyZeller: It’s amazing how small your worries and problems become when you trust in the Lord. February 20 @CodyZeller: Flight home is canceled?! I feel like I just woke up on Christmas morning and found a note from Santa saying he’s gonna be a couple days late February 12

‘I Got This, God’

Have you ever tried to climb up a rope? I remember “trying” in elementary school gym class. I was always that girl that couldn’t get any higher than I could stand. It took me all of 15 seconds to start and finish that exercise because I had these scrawny little arms that didn’t lift much more than the remote during Saturday morning cartoons. At times in life, I feel like I’m back to being that weak, little girl trying to climb an impossibly tall rope. I feel like I keep straining ahead only to move an inch or to fall off completely. Psalms tells us that God is “our strength and our redeemer.” I’ve had to ask myself if I’m really living within this truth or if I’m still trying to climb the impossible rope of life. I imagine myself straining to climb, while God is standing right beside me with an open door elevator, begging me to take His ride. With selfish pride, I hold my hand up to God and confidently say, “I got this,” as I go back to straining forward but moving nowhere. I’m sure God is just rolling His eyes as He watches me struggle, knowing that if I would just let him, He’d gladly give me a lift. What is your rope climb? Worry, job issues, family troubles, sports injuries, pride? Whatever it is, God’s waiting for us to rely on Him for strength and allow Him to redeem us. Let’s take Him up on the offer. II Kings 20-22 Ps 81, 88, 92-93

Words of wisdom from cody zeller, who has one of the most entertaining Twitter accounts in the NBA

@CodyZeller: The Olympics is a combination of two of my favorite things! Sports and American domination!!!! February 7

— Hope Zeller, Distinxion Staff

Weekender “So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in

him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.” Colossians 2:6-8

Going Long

Read Colossians 2:6-8 and consider what it means to be in union with Christ. It seems to simplify things. Rather than a checklist of “do’s and don’ts” exploring our continual communion with Christ allows us to be “built up in him” and “strengthened in the faith as you were taught.” II Kings 23-25 I Chron 7-10 I Chron 1-2

Ps 102-104

W E B S I T E : w w w. S p o r t s S p e c t r u m . c o m

Cody Zeller and the Charlotte Bobcats are having a breakout season after only winning 21 games last year. Thearon W. Henderson / Getty Images

35


PAIN & ACTS 4 ADVERSITY

SERIES: LESSONS FROM THE NEW TESTAMENT

what you've missed in the ss digimag Super Bowl XLVIII and February 2014 DigiMag

Monday “The priests and the captain of the temple guard and the Sadducees came up to Peter and John

while they were speaking to the people. They were greatly disturbed because the apostles were teaching the people, proclaiming in Jesus the resurrection of the dead. They seized Peter and John and, because it was evening, they put them in jail until the next day. But many who heard the message believed; so the number of men who believed grew to about five thousand.” Acts 4:1-4

Str uggle, Pain and Beauty

The phrase, “No pain, no gain” is one of the most popular clichés in athletics, but I continually return to its truth in just about every aspect of life. The most beautiful stories are sometimes the hardest ones. And the most meaningful revolutions are often the most painful. The civil rights movement certainly comes to mind. It was an incredible, beautiful movement but it came with significant pain and hurt. I am not sure a transformation can take place in our society or inner selves without the elements of resistance or pain. We are naturally fallen beings prone to sin, thus acting in resistance to change in our souls; and this world is naturally evil, thus acting in resistance to change in our society. Once change begins, however, it is the struggle that makes the story even more beautiful and often more fruitful. This is certainly true in the fourth chapter of Acts, where the world–changing message proclaimed by the apostles frequently leaves them imprisoned and persecuted. Today, consider the pain in your own life, and consider that it could lead to something bigger and more meaningful. — Stephen Copeland, Sports Spectrum I Chron 3-5 II Sam 5:1-10; I Chron 11-12

Tuesday “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.” Acts 4:12

Is Tr uth Real?

This issue features exclusive interviews from Super Bowl XLVIII Media Day along with in-depth faith stories on players and coaches on the Seattle Seahawks and Denver Broncos. Our columns also touch on a variety of issues. Managing editor Brett Honeycutt writes about Seattle Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman in his column “Airing It Out,” and staff writer Stephen Copeland writes about his experience in New York City in his column “Another Angle.” Scan the QR code to view this issue.

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SPORTS SPECTRUM

Never in my life have I had a golf coach tell me any of the following: “Practice however if you want. There is no right way to practice.” “If you don’t want to play in the tournament, that’s fine, don’t show up. Whatever you feel like doing is right.” “If you want to cheat in the tournament, that’s fine. Whatever is best for you is right.” These statements seem ridiculous, and yet, moral relativism—the belief there is no absolute truth—is one of the most common themes in our society. And I admit, it is a comfortable view, but it is a foolish view, even in the very nature of its logic. I could believe with all of my heart that the giant oak tree in my back yard created me, but I would still be wrong. Verses like Acts 4:12 are some of the most uncomfortable verses in the Bible because they proclaim, “salvation is found in no one else” but the name of Jesus. Consider your worldview and whether or not it has a certain truth at its foundation. And, if truth is real, wouldn’t it make sense to share it with others? Without truth, both our identity and purpose are void of consistency. I Chron 6 Ps 133 — Stephen Copeland, Sports Spectrum

Wednesday “When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled,

ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus.” Acts 4:13

Using the Ordinar y

Most sports require a certain amount of athleticism to participate in. No matter how hard I work, for example, I will never be able to play in the NBA or NFL. I’m not athletic enough. I could dedicate my entire life to trying to make it in the NBA, but it will never happen. It just won’t. This, however, is not the way the Holy Spirit works. The Spirit of the triune God wants to perform a work in us and through us regardless of who we are or what we’ve done. Acts 4:13 says that the religious leaders of the day were “astonished” when they realized Peter and John were mere fishermen—“unschooled, ordinary men”—that proclaimed their message with such courage and boldness. Metaphorically, here were two men with no athletic ability running over everyone in the NBA. They were rattling the cages of the religious and intellectual leaders of that day. The text says that the religious leaders “took note that these men had been with Jesus.” And may it be an encouragement that, no matter our occupation or skill, no matter our pasts or shortcomings, God welcomes us into His will to accomplish His purposes through us. — Stephen Copeland, Sports Spectrum I Chron 7-8 Ps 106-107 TO SUBSCRIBE TO SPORTS SPECTRUM: CALL 1-866-821-2971


Thursday “And when they heard it, they lifted their voices together to God and said, ‘Sovereign Lord, who made the heaven and the earth and the sea and everything in them, who through the mouth of our father David, your servant, said by the Holy Spirit.’” Acts 4:24

Fulfilling Your Reason

To adequately prepare for a golf tournament, I tell each player on the team I coach to approach each practice with the same focus they display in a tournament. I tell them to go through their preshot routines, even if they are just chipping in the short game area or putting on the practice green, and to visualize each and every shot, even if they are pounding balls on the driving range. I’m a firm believer that the most prepared golfers are those who remind themselves of the intensity of the coming tournament while they practice. Mentally, they must return to their reason time and time again. In the fourth chapter of Acts, Peter and John are released from prison, and they tell their friends about all that happened. Though the opposition from the religious leaders was fierce, they surrendered the conflict to God by proclaiming His sovereignty. Despite the intense rejection, the apostles’ continual return to the gospel and God’s sovereignty allowed them to continually fulfill their reason and mission on this earth. — Stephen Copeland, Sports Spectrum I Chron 9-11 II Sam 5:11-6:23; I Chron 13-16

WEEK 5

what you've missed on...

YOUTUBE.COM/ Friday “Now the full number of those who believed were of one heart and soul, and no one said that any of SPORTSSPECTRUMMAG the things that belonged to him was his own, but they had everything in common. And with great power the apostles were giving their testimony to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and great grace was upon them all.” Acts 5:32

A fraid of Power?

Once, I remember getting hit with a pitch in Little League baseball. The entire next week at practice, I would instinctively step back during the pitcher’s windup and swing away from each pitch. As I cowered at the possibility of another pitch belting me in the back, I consequently swung the bat in a very weak, non-threatening fashion. Stepping into the pitch, rather, would produce a much more powerful and dangerous swing. It’s encouraging to study the early church documented in the book of Acts because of the power displayed. Union creates power, as the apostles “were of one heart and soul.” The Holy Spirit creates power. The resurrection creates power. Their obedience in sharing their testimonies creates power. Are you stepping into the pitch or away from the pitch? The Bible says that we have been given every spiritual gift in Christ Jesus, so this power is at our disposal. Are you neglecting it or utilizing it? I Chron 12-14

— Stephen Copeland, Sports Spectrum

Ps 1-2, 15, 22-24, 47, 68

Denver Broncos players talk about their faith in Christ Denver Broncos Players

JACOB TAMME Denver Broncos tight end

MANNY RAMIREZ Denver Broncos center

JOEL DREESSEN Denver Broncos tight end

WESLEY WOODYARD Denver Broncos linebacker

SEATTLE SEAHAWKS PLAYERS ON BROTHERHOOD IN CHRIST Seattle Seahawks players

ROCKY SETO Seattle Seahawks defensive passing game coordinator

CHRIS MARAGOS

Weekender “For in Christ all the fullness of the De-

Seattle Seahawks cornerback

ity lives in bodily form, and in Christ you have been brought to fullness. He is the head over every power and authority.” Colossians 2:9-10

CLINT GRESHAM Seattle Seahawks long snapper

Going Long

RUSSELL OKUNG

Read Colossians 2:6-13 and think about how God has “made you alive with Christ.” In Christ, there is spiritual fullness. What are some of the things in life that you do not have, things that make you feel as if you are not whole? Stand in wonder of the reality that, in Christ, you “have been brought to fullness.”

Seattle Seahawks tackle

RUSSELL WILSON Seattle Seahawks quarterback

POWER TO WIN 2014 TRAILER Detroit Lions’ Israel Idonije

-All videos produced by Aaron May

Seattle Seahawks’ Russell Wilson, the latest to be added to the list of Super Bowl winning quarterbacks. Ronald Martinez / Getty Images

37


I SAMUEL SERIES:

LESSONS

what they're weeting Funny things these Christian athletes are tweeting...

@golfperformance: Given the choice of snacks on the first tee

@valerotxopen Healthy eating @bencranegolf eats the garnish. pic.twitter.com/IgJs9ieLil

FROM

THE

OLD

TESTAMENT

Monday “And Saul sought to pin David to the wall with the spear, but he eluded Saul, so that he struck the spear into the wall. And David fled and escaped the night.” 1 Samuel 19: 12

Spiritual Unconsciousness

I’ve dislocated my knee twice while playing basketball. What’s just as frustrating as the dislocation itself, however, is what happens to the quad muscle after the injury. It shuts down. In order to get back out on the basketball court, even after two surgeries fixed my knee cap, I had to hook an electric stimulator up to my quad multiple times a day, for several weeks straight, just to fire up the muscle again. It was as if my quad completely forgot how to function, even after the surgery. It was as if my quad muscle, which functioned perfectly ever since I learned how to walk when I was a toddler, suddenly forgot the way it worked before. Sometimes, I think our hearts work the same way. Consider David. In 1 Samuel, we read about how “the Lord was with him” and protected him as Saul did everything he could to kill him. And yet, later in David’s life, he lusts upon Bathsheba, tries to cover it up, and suffers a monstrous fall. It’s as if he forgot how much God loved and protected him in his past. He forgot how to walk. He was spiritually unconscious. As our series on 1 Samuel continues this issue and we read about Saul’s pursuit of David and God’s protection of David, think about the blessings God has bestowed upon you in your past. Are you living conscious of His love? Or have you forgotten the very thing at the core of your being—the fact you are loved? — Stephen Copeland, Sports Spectrum I Chron 22-24 Ps 25, 29, 33, 36, 39

Tuesday ”Now David fled and escaped, and he came to Samuel at Ramah and told him all that Saul had done to him.” 1 Samuel 19:18

The Thing That Wants to Rob Your Life

March 25 PGA Tour pro golfer, Ben Crane

@iidonije: Lol”@TeamIIF: They did it! #PolarPlunge @SpecialOChi

@iidonije @jimmyfallon @ChicagoParks pic.twitter.com/ fb5kHKSXjz

Pittsburgh Pirates star and National League MVP Andrew McCutchen, featured on the cover of our January 2014 DigiMag, candidly told Sports Spectrum, “I know there are a lot of people who would love to have the MVP. It’s awesome to have it. But when you start to figure out that the Lord is the foundation of your life, the MVP is nothing compared to the love of God and what He can do for your life.” McCutchen’s worldview is not rooted in worldly trophies or short-lived accomplishments. And he is well aware that even the most prestigious award in Major League Baseball falls far short of eternity. While many athletes and coaches spend much of their entire lives caught in the exhausting, monotonous cycle of pursuing trophies, unsatisfied until they taste the mountaintop, McCutchen knows that nothing this world has to offer can fully satisfy him. In 1 Samuel, we read about Saul wasting his entire life trying to kill David because he is so consumed in his jealousy over David. It’s a reminder that these types of traits—jealousy, pride, and greed, always rooted in the things of this world—have the power of robbing our entire lives of purpose and direction. — Stephen Copeland, Sports Spectrum I Chron 25-27 II Sam 8-9; I Chron 18

Wednesday “And Jonathan made David swear again by his love for him, for he loved him as he loved his own soul.” 1 Samuel 20:17

March 2 Former Detroit Lions defensive end Israel Idonije jumped in freezing water for the Chicago Special Olympics Polar Plunge with “Tonight Show” host Jimmy Fallon.

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SPORTS SPECTRUM

Pointing Toward Something Larger

Whenever someone gives a sermon about friendship, he or she is almost sure to mention the bond between Jonathan and David. But what I love about the verse above is the phrase “for he loved him as he loved his own soul.” Lately, I’ve been intrigued with the idea that everything has the potential of pointing to something transcending. Jonathan and David’s friendship certainly did this. Their love for one another was a slight reflection of the love that God has for us. In fact, maybe God’s love for them is what enabled them to love one another so purely and selflessly as friends. I’m learning to approach much of this life with this mindset—that the things of this world are an opportunity to reflect something much larger to the watching world. This, actually, happens to be my favorite thing about sports. They are an avenue for storytelling that can point people toward God. I do enjoy sports, but I’m not a fanatic. My friends often make fun of me for being a “sports writer” but not having any idea about players in our annual Fantasy Draft. Like a musician who uses music to put his beliefs into song, this is how I view sports. And the verse above, I think, challenges us to approach friendships, relationships, and marriages with this same outlook. — Stephen Copeland, Sports Spectrum I Chron 28, II Chron 1 Ps 50, 53, 60, 75


WEEK 6 Thursday “David departed from there and escaped to the cave of Adullam. And when his brothers and all his father’s house heard it, they went down there to him.” 1 Samuel 22:1

The Oppor tunities of Caves

I usually play much freer golf when I approach each shot with the mindset that it’s an opportunity. If I blast my tee-shot in the woods, it’s an opportunity to still make an incredible par. If I knock my approach shot in the sand, it’s an opportunity to get up-and-down from the bunker. I think this is true for our spiritual lives, too. As Saul chases David around, what feels like the entire planet, the Bible speaks of two caves that David fled to: Adullam (1 Samuel 22:1-4) and Engedi (1 Samuel 24). I can’t imagine the type of oppression and loneliness David felt—as Saul sent entire armies after David to kill him, forcing him to move from town to town, protect his family, and hide out in caves. It’s hard to tell why God allows certain things in our lives to happen, why He swears to protect David but also allows him to hide off in caves and wrestle with the oppression and loneliness prevalent in the Psalms. But I am trying to view the caves in my life—as uncomfortable as they may be—as an opportunity to learn about both God and myself and to depend on Him instead of myself. This is seen in the Psalms. Though David’s emotion, frustration, and depression is visible in his writings, he casts it all upon the Lord. The reason for the cave does not have to be explained. But the opportunity is still there. II Chron 2-5 II Sam 10; I Chron 19; Ps 20 — Stephen Copeland, Sports Spectrum

Friday “Then David arose and stealthily cut off a corner of Saul’s robe. And afterward David’s heart

struck him, because he had cut off a corner of Saul’s robe. He said his men, ‘The Lord forbid that I should do this thing to my lord, the Lord’s anointed, to put out my hand against him, seeing he is the Lord’s anointed.’” 1 Samuel 24:4-6

Check out these faith and sports videos floating around the Internet San Francisco Giants relief pitcher Jeremy Affeldt shares about the day he wanted to walk away from the game and what changes his heart to bring him back. Produced by CBN Sports.

Silent Actions

I get frustrated watching my favorite basketball team sometimes because the individuals panic when their team gets into a rut. Their best games have been whenever they play as a team, and yet, when they get flustered, individual players try to take matters into their own hands, which only makes the offense function worse. We are like this with God sometimes. In moments of panic, we tend to take matters into our own hands, whether it is a temporary fix or our own perceived solution, instead of resting in His plans and promises. It’s passages like 1 Samuel 24:4-6 that make me realize why David was called “a man after God’s own heart.” Though David had one of several opportunities to kill Saul, he does not take matters into his own hands. Instead, he respects Saul as the anointed king and relies fully on God’s promises and timing. How difficult would it be not to kill a man who has been chasing you with his armies all over the country? It’s truly inspiring to see how much faith David has in God’s timing. Your hope in this life is evident by your actions. What do your actions indicate? — Stephen Copeland, Sports Spectrum

II Chron 6-8 Ps 65-67, 69-70

Weekender “Since you died with Christ to the elemen-

NHL Nashville Predator Mike Fisher tells of the off-the ice relationship that changed his life. Produced by I Am Second.

Carolina Panthers’ all-time leading receiver and newly acquired Baltimore Raven Steve Smith talks about embracing his leadership role on an NFL team. Produced by CBN Sports.

tal spiritual forces of this world, why, as though you still belonged to the world, do you submit to its rules: ‘Do not handle! Do not taste! Do not touch!’?” Colossians 2:20-21

Going Long

Read Colossians 2:16-23 and think about your view of Christianity. Be honest with yourself. Do you view it as a set of rules and bondage as you systematically go through life? Or do you see it as continual communion with Something much larger than you (as Colossians 2:6-13 implies) which therefore gives you freedom by resting in the will of God? II Chron 9-12 II Sam 11-12; I Chron 20 II Chron 13-17 Ps 32, 51, 86, 122 Jeff Gross / Getty Images

Mike Fisher of the Nashville Predators.

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COLLEGE GOLF FELLOWSHIP SERIES:

LESSONS

FROM

THE

LINKS

Monday “I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.” Philippians 4:12

Adversity and Response

COLLEGE GOLF FELLOWSHIP The goal of College Golf Fellowship is to be a resource to the college golf world, coming alongside college golfers and coaches to encourage them in golf, life and faith. We want to help college golfers understand what a real relationship with God looks like and how it’s different from what most people think of when they hear the word, “religion.” Whether they have grown up in the church or don’t come from a religious background at all, we want them to see the fullness of life that God offers us in a relationship with Him. Our activities, such as our retreats at some of the houses of players on the PGA Tour, provide a fun and safe environment for people to understand how this happens.

If any of you are competitors in any kind of sport, then you know there will always be adversities involved in the competition. When it comes to golf, there are two different kinds of obstacles golfers might face: outside obstacles (weather, hazards, etc.) and inside obstacles (your mental approach to the game). This is very similar to life. There are things in life that you cannot control, but there are things you can control. The outside adversities that we cannot control are things like sickness, deaths, other people, etc. However, what we can control is how we respond to these things. We will have inner struggles and obstacles, namely our sin. How are we to respond to these hardships and obstacles (outside and inside)? Where do we find the contentment Paul speaks of in Philippians 4:12? Find it in the Gospel of Jesus Christ, who lived a perfect life (that you and I couldn’t live) and died a death and resurrected (that both me and you couldn’t do), so that you and I can be counted as righteous before our Heavenly Father. II Chron 21-24 Ps 3-4, 12-13, 28, 55

— Rosson Anderson

Tuesday “But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect…” 1 Peter 3:15

Stories Are Meant to be Told

When I played golf for the University of Pennsylvania, our team would play roughly four tournaments in the fall and five in the spring. Each season presented its own challenges, but nothing was more dynamic than the weather in the northeast. Every tournament required adequate preparation for the weather conditions. Our life is built around meetings, events, business plans, and to-do lists—tasks that cannot be completed if we lack the tools or knowledge to execute the task in a given environment. For a golfer, the outdoors introduces a unique playing environment that we must plan for in advance. As a Christian, we must be prepared to give an answer for the hope that we have in Christ, regardless of the circumstances or weather. The framework to communicate how your life has been changed by Jesus Christ is this: 1) Your story before knowing Christ; 2) Your story when you had an encounter with Christ and when you placed your faith in Him; 3) Your story with Christ. Are you prepared to share with others how Jesus Christ has given you a new heart? Consider writing out your story using these three “chapters” as your guide. — Michael Blodgett II Chron 25-27 II Sam 16-18

Wednesday “For everything in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—comes not from the Father but from the world.” 1 John 2:16

New Identity, New Acceptance

As a former professional and collegiate golfer, I loved hearing someone introduce me and my accolades as I stood on the first tee. I craved the “first-tee jitters” because, for at least one moment during the day, the world stopped and all eyes were on me. I loved the thrill of trying to pull off a golf shot and receiving the applause afterwards. In my self-absorbed, pride-filled world, my identity was encapsulated by the name on the scoreboard and the scores next to it. When I began to grasp who God was and what my position before Him was, both before and after I accepted His Son into my heart, I realized that the idol of pride ruled in my heart. When God is put in His proper place in our lives, our hearts no longer seek admiration from others because we already know that no greater affirmation can be had than the love of God through His Son Jesus Christ. As Jesus Christ transformed my heart, I no longer needed to strive for acceptance from others and seek admiration based off of my golf performance or how many “good” shots I hit that day. I was accepted by God. Done. Finished. All because of Jesus dying on the cross. It was both humbling and freeing. — Michael Blodgett II Chron 28-31 Ps 26, 40, 58, 61-62, 64 40

SPORTS SPECTRUM

Getty Images


WEEK 7 Thursday “…being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” Philippians 1:6

Finishing Strong

When everything is on the line, when everyone is watching, when you or your team are counting on you for the next shot or the next play—this is the situation that true competitors always dream of and want to participate in. As a golfer, I dream of sinking a slick, downhill, 20-foot putt on the 18th hole at Augusta National to win the Masters Tournament by a shot. No matter the sport, we all want to finish strong. We want to always be able to look back in time and say that we did our best and put it all on the line in certain situations. These same principles stand in life and faith. Remember what Paul said in Philippians: “He who began a good work in you will bring it completion at the day of Jesus Christ.” We must always keep this in mind, especially in hard times. God does not give up on us; however, He does allow us to go through hard times and He does discipline us, as a father disciplines His son. Don’t lose heart. God is sovereign and in control! Always remember Proverbs 3:5-6: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make straight your paths.” II Chron 32-34

II Sam 19-21

— Rosson Anderson

Friday “Jesus answered, ‘You say that I am a king. In fact, the reason I was born and came into the world is to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me.’” John 18:37

‘For This Purpose I Have Come Into the World’

One day I did a keyword search on Amazon for books pertaining to “golf.” The search returned over 29,000 results. In those results, 519 pertained to coaching. Without examining each one of the coaching books individually, I assumed they all said something a little different: “hold your hands here,” “move your hips like this,” “follow through like so.” No doubt, the author and reader of these books had one thing in mind: to explore the truths of the perfect golf swing. Unfortunately, my faith can look a little like the pursuit of a perfect method to swing a club. I read, listen, and debate various sources of inspiration with the hope to find a “religion” that fits the worldview that I feel most confident expressing. No doubt, this trend comes from a current worldview called post-modernism that screams there are no “real” truths. In it, we are free to make our own decisions to the topic of “truth.” I was reminded recently of Jesus’ dialogue with Pontius Pilate in John 18. Jesus says, “…For this purpose I have come into the world—to bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth listens to my voice.” Even when I am pulled to more socially favorable beliefs, I can be comforted that real truth exists, and it is found in the redemption story that Jesus came to be a witness for. — Rosson Anderson

II Chron 35-36

Ps 5, 38, 41-42

Weekender “Since, then, you have been raised with

Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.” Colossians 3:1-4

Going Long

Read Colossians 3:1-4 and think about your focus. Is your heart set on things above? Or is your identity tied up in this world. Reflect on the miracle of your salvation and allow it to focus your heart on the only thing in life that lasts. Ezra 1-3 Ezra 4-7 II Sam 22-23; Ps 57 Ps 95, 97-99

PGA Tour golfer Cameron Tringale is actively involved in College Golf Fellowship, a mentoring program for college golfers. W E B S I T E : w w w. S p o r t s S p e c t r u m . c o m

Stan Badz / PGA Tour

training table Cameron Tringale For Cameron Tringale, 2013 couldn’t have had a better start. He got a new caddie, swing coach, and saw some of the best results of his career at the start of the PGA Tour season. At the Tampa Bay Championship in March, he fired a 66 in the final round to finish third overall, the best finish of his career. In April, however, he got injured, and the season took a turn downward. After the injury, he never seemed to bounce back, and he struggled the remainder of the season. This, however, is what he learned in the valley: “There was a lot of growth in that time. Not playing well and not reaching my goals helped me realize that there is not ultimate satisfaction in those things had I achieved them. Spiritually, the Lord continues to show me his goodness the more time I spend with Him through prayer and reading His word. I feel like I get more and more and want more and more. We are told to arm ourselves with God’s word. “The process of learning the Scripture and having them in my yardage book and really spending time trying to put those words into my heart has made me appreciate God’s word more and the power that there is in it. It’s just a great feeling you get when the Lord shows himself to you over and over. You see how faithful He his, and my struggles with not playing good golf, like I said, it made me redirect my attention back to Him. “The people on my support team have come along and they’ve developed a good plan for how to improve my golf game. That’s my home for 2014, that I continue to stay on task… and hopefully the results will come through that hard work.” Scan the QR code to watch College Golf Fellowship’s video interview with Cameron Tringale.

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READER SUBMITTED SERIES:

LESSONS

available on sportsspectrum.com

FROM

OUR

READERS

Monday “Now we exhort you, brethren, warn those who are unruly, encourage the fainthearted, uphold the weak, be patient with all.” 1 Thessalonians 5:14

Constant Encouragement

In 1989 as the NCAA men’s basketball tournament began, University of Michigan Wolverines head coach Bill Freider accepted a job at Arizona. Bo Schembechler, Michigan’s irascible athletic director, immediately fired Freider, saying emphatically that “no Michigan team will be coached by somebody from Arizona!” Schembechler then named assistant coach Steve Fisher to be the interim head coach. Michigan’s team had lots of talent, but underachieved with the aggressive, in-your-face style of Freider. By contrast, Fisher constantly encouraged his players from the beginning, often clapping his hands, giving a thumbs up or a pat on the back to a player, even after a poor shot or a turnover. The Wolverines won their first game in the tournament, and another and then two more. Then Fisher, who hails from Herrin, Ill., guided his team past Illinois, which had twice beaten Michigan soundly during the Big 10 season. Two days later, Michigan won the national championship against Seton Hall. 1 Thessalonians 2:11 indicates that Paul and Silas encouraged the Thessalonians “as a father does his own children.” Perhaps Fisher’s encouragement to his players was the same. Do you give encouragement when you have the opportunity? I’ve been at both ends, and can honestly say it makes a big difference. Never underestimate the power of a kind word, a hug, or a pat on the back. Ezra 8-10 II Sam 24; I Chron 21-22; Ps 30 — Stanley A. Tucker

Tuesday “And behold, Moses and Elijah appeared to them, talking with Him.” Matthew 17:3

Just Talkin’ A sports devotional written by Charlotte D. Smith, a former AllAmerican and two-time All-ACC player who made the game-winning shot in the 1994 NCAA Championship that gave North Carolina its first and only title. Smith, who won an ESPN ESPY for Best Female College Basketball Player in 1995, also starred in the ABL and WNBA for 10 years and was an assistant coach at North Carolina for 9 seasons before taking the head women’s basketball coaching position in 2011 at Elon University, an NCAA Division I school in North Carolina. “I love to do Bible study on the road with my team,” says Smith. “I just started accumulating a lot of writings, and just in my career as a coach, I really started to see the need for coaches to be empowered and coaches to be reminded of why we coach.” Smith, who knows the struggles of players, coaches and people in general, shares stories on and off the court in a devotional format that will help coaches grow in their walk with Christ and also give coaches material to share with their team to help them grow, as well. All books on the Sports Spectrum Store have been autographed by Charlotte.

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SPORTS SPECTRUM

In Game 4 of the 1934 World Series, Dizzy Dean (who later won Game 7) was a pinch-runner on first base. A double-play ball followed, and the second baseman’s relay throw ricocheted off Dizzy’s head. Teammates hauled Diz off the field. Later, his brother Paul, a man of few words, was asked, “How’s Diz?” Paul replied, “Talkin.’” Someone asked, “What’s he sayin’?” Paul responded, “Nothin. Just talkin.’” In the 1980’s, I enjoyed watching San Francisco 49ers fullback Tom Rathman. Whenever he scored a touchdown, usually after punishing defenders en route to the end zone, he simply handed the ball to the referee and trotted off the field. No spiking. No gyrations. No verbiage. He just let his actions do his “talking.” In today’s NFL, “talking” often occurs between receivers and cornerbacks, ball carriers and tacklers. Some call it “woofing.” Some call it “ratchet-jawing,” and sometimes... it is called “unsportsmanlike conduct.” Animals are unable to talk (except in Numbers 22:28). Have you ever wondered how our Creator enabled us to talk? It starts with a thought in our head and is expressed instantly through perfect coordination of breath, lips, tongue, jaws and about a zillion nerve impulses. Like Moses and Elijah and others in the Bible, we can talk to God, silently or even out loud. So talk to God. Talk to Him about your troubles. Talk to Him about your triumphs, and thank Him for being able to talk at all. — Stanley A. Tucker Neh 1-3 Ps 108-110

Wednesday “Therefore, give to Your servant an understanding heart to judge Your people, that I may discern between good and evil.” 1 Kings 3:9

Discer ning Oppor tunity

Joseph Bertrand is a senior starter on the University of Illinois men’s basketball team, and has seen court action all four years. On many occasions, he has “smelled out” a play by the other team, left his defensive position, and deflected a pass toward center court, resulting in a basket for Illinois at the other end. He seems to have a “nose” for the basketball. In the Bible, having a “nose” for life situations is called “discernment.” As the above verse shows, Solomon wisely asked God for discernment when he became King, and God graciously gave it to him. Also, 1 Corinthians 12:10 indicates that some individuals are given discernment by a manifestation of the Holy Spirit within them. Hebrews 5:14 says that “those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.” Apparently, we can request it or receive it, and put it to use daily. How do we maintain this valuable quality? Hebrews 4:12 says, “The Word of God is... sharper than any two-edged sword... and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.” We encounter an unholy world daily, and need to “smell out” good and evil. Let us envelop ourselves in the Word. Let us exercise our senses thereby. Let us entreat God for discernment. — Stanley A. Tucker Neh 4-6 I Chron 23-25 TO SUBSCRIBE TO SPORTS SPECTRUM: CALL 1-866-821-2971


Thursday “That they may know from the rising of the sun to its setting, that there is none besides Me. I am the LORD, and there is no other; I form the light and create darkness, I make peace and create calamity; I the LORD, do all these things.” Isaiah 45:6-7

Consistently Unpredictable

In Super Bowl XLIV, the New Orleans Saints played the Indianapolis Colts. New Orleans head coach Sean Payton had a formidable team with quarterback Drew Brees, wide receiver Marquis Colston, and running back Pierre Thomas. Down 10-6 at halftime, Payton shocked everybody with an onside kick to start the second half. The Saints recovered it, and then scored a touchdown on their way to winning the game 31-17. It was entirely consistent for Payton, with all his firepower, to give the offense every opportunity to score. It was also entirely unpredictable, because coaches usually play the Super Bowl “by the book.” In Mark 8, the disciples brought a blind man to Jesus. He spit on the man’s eyes and rubbed the man’s eyes twice. The man then saw clearly. One chapter before, Jesus healed the Syro-Phoenician woman’s daughter without even going to the woman’s house! Why didn’t He do the same with the blind man? This was entirely consistent. Jesus always had compassion on people and healed them. This was also entirely unpredictable. We can’t put God in a box. C.S. Lewis said an “atheist cannot guard his faith too carefully” because God is “unscrupulous” in revealing Himself to them. Jesus loves us, heals us, and brings us to Himself, but not always “by the book.” What a consistent, yet unpredictable God we have! It’s all the more reason to worship Him. — Stanley A. Tucker Neh 7 Ps 131, 138-139, 143-145

WEEK 8 new from sports spectrum

SS RUSSIA II

Friday “Then the LORD said to Cain, ‘Where is Abel your brother?’ He said, ‘I do not know. Am I my brother’s keeper?’ And He said, ‘What have you done? The voice of your brother’s blood cries out to Me from the ground.’” Genesis 4:9-10

Confident Hope

I recently watched 42, The True Story of an American Legend, the movie about Jackie Robinson breaking the color barrier in baseball with the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1947. In one scene, Robinson is in the training room after being spiked. Jackie asks Branch Rickey, the Dodger’s general manager, why he brought him to the majors. Mr. Rickey replied that some 40 years earlier in college he had seen racism break up the life of a black teammate, and felt he didn’t do enough to help the man. Now, something was still unfair about the heart of the game he loved, and he could no longer ignore it. Then he thanked Jackie for giving him the chance to love baseball again. God raised up Jackie Robinson to play Major League Baseball. He raised up Branch Rickey to give Jackie the opportunity to play in the majors, and to correct injustice. Both men were Christians. God has been correcting injustice since the Garden of Eden, as the above verse shows. Also, in James 5:4, we read this: “Indeed the wages of the laborers who mowed your fields, which you kept back by fraud, cry out...” Isn’t it fascinating that God responds to the cries of inanimate objects like blood and wages? If God responds to non-living objects of injustice, He certainly will hear me when I am mistreated. That gives me hope. That gives me confidence. God will hear my cry. God will respond. — Stanley A. Tucker Neh 8-9 I Chron 26-29; Ps 127

Weekender “Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry.” Colossians 3:5

Going Long

Read Colossians 3:5-11 and think about the evil desires mentioned in the text. Why does Paul mention all of these and encourage those who read it to flee these desires? He mentions them to free us from the things of this world that drag us down and enjoy God more. What are some of the desires of the flesh that Christ needs to conquer through you so you can experience God more? Neh 10-11

Ps 111-118

W E B S I T E : w w w. S p o r t s S p e c t r u m . c o m

Neh 12-13

I Kings 1-2; Ps 37, 71, 94 Doug Pensinger / Getty Images

Thanks to your help, Sports Spectrum Global recently produced its second Christian sports magazine for Russia. Our friends in Russia are distributing the magazine through our digital platform, social media, street evangelism, through trading cards, and through the local church. This magazine was created specifically as a tool for sports ministers to use in Russia during the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi.

Scan the QR code to view SS Global’s second Russia issue.

Boblsedder Curt Tomasevicz and the USA Team brought home the bronze in the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics. He is featured in our second SS Global Russia digital magazine. 43


READER SUBMITTED SERIES:

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READERS

Monday “For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards,

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June

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August

not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong;” 1 Corinthians 1:26-27

Secure On God’s Team

Many of us struggle with the constant pressure to be perfect within athletics. We get caught up seeking unreliable affirmation through our performance, so when things don’t go our way we feel discouraged. Tryouts are a great example. We work day in and day out to prove we are worthy of a spot. Summers, we run sprints in the heat. Nights, we lift in the weight room. It feels like every second is spent honing our skills. But, the challenges don’t just stop after making the team. That’s just the beginning. Next, we must constantly work to improve in order to get a chance at starting. The demands are never ending. Fortunately for those of us who are Christ followers, we don’t have to constantly worry about being good enough. On God’s team the tryouts have already been conducted, and only one person was worthy of eternal life in Heaven: Jesus Christ. Jesus performed flawlessly with a life of service and love. He then chose to give up HIS roster spot, so that we could be part of the team, too. So even though the challenges within our sport aren’t ending soon, we can be encouraged in the fact that, despite our performance, God loves us continually—and our spot on His team is secure. — Britton Lynn Esther 1-5 Ps 119:1-88

Tuesday “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

Responding To Life

It was just another Saturday afternoon in mid-October, and the girls’ soccer team I was coaching came into the matchup feeling confident. However, to say the game didn’t go as planned would be an understatement. In the first half of the game, we had three goals scored against one of my girls— which was a bit traumatic—so we then switched goalies, which resulted in four more goals scored against us. That’s right, 7-0 in the first half. After a long second half, the game ended—obviously not in our favor. My players looked as if each of them had been punched in the stomach. I tried to be positive and remembered something I read earlier in the day: “Life is 10 percent of what happens to you and 90 percent of how you respond to it.” Even though I knew I needed to respond positively, I truly was having trouble thinking straight. I was discouraged and frustrated, too. I knew a big part of the loss was my coaching. I gathered my girls in our usual circle on the ground beside our bench and recited the verse that came to my mind: 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18. As a team, we then spoke about how things don’t always go the way we plan. This is where we as Christ followers are called to be different. While most losing teams might walk off the field in self-pity and disappointment, what if we were different? What if we had been given the opportunity to show others that our identity is in Christ in all circumstance? We wanted to win. But we lost. Whether win or lose, it does not change the fact that He loves us. — Britton Lynn Esther 6-10 I Kings 3-4; 2 Chron 1; Ps 72

Wednesday “And they made His grave with the wicked, but with the rich at His death.” Isaiah 53:9a

September

October

November

December

January

February

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Courageous Steps

It was third down and 10 yards to go. The wild card game between the San Francisco 49ers and Green Bay Packers on Jan. 5, 2014, was tied 20-20, with about 5 minutes to go. San Francisco quarterback Colin Kaepernick dropped back to pass, saw that every receiver was covered, and then be scrambled for a first down. Later he completed a pass to wide receiver Michael Crabtree for another first down to keep the drive alive. The 49ers eventually won 23-20 on a last-second field goal. Kaepernick had come through in the clutch. In Mark 15:43, Joseph of Arimathea “took courage” and asked for the crucified body of Jesus. A Pharisee, he went against the grain of his colleagues in a raw display of his quiet faith, even though he would face criticism and disapproval. God always seems to raise people up in clutch situations. Jesus had to be buried somewhere. Joseph not only stepped forward to do that, he also fulfilled the above scripture. Our culture wants to shut down or shut up any Christian influence, and sometimes we find ourselves in those “game” moments where someone needs to step forward and come through in the clutch, to serve or contend or witness. Do you fear criticism, disapproval, or being shunned? Do you have a quiet faith like Joseph of Arimathea? Step forward. Come through in the clutch. God will give you the courage. — Stanley Tucker Job 1-4 Ps 119: 89-176 TO SUBSCRIBE TO SPORTS SPECTRUM: CALL 1-866-821-2971


WEEK 9 Thursday “Do you not yet understand that whatever enters the mouth goes into the stomach and is eliminated?” Matthew 15:17

Mar velous Design

Once before a high school road basketball game, our coach, Coach McMahan, admonished us to eat a nutritious meal and not settle for some greasy hamburgers. I was appalled. Hamburgers were my life. Nowadays, teams at every level have pre-game meals together to promote unity, provide good nutrition, and like our coach, try to prevent the players from getting indigestion. Have you ever wondered how our digestive system works? There needs to be saliva and teeth to soften and chew the food that enters our mouth, and a throat and esophagus to transport the food to our stomach, and then acids and enzymes break the food down. Somehow the nutrients are sent to strengthen our bones and muscles and enrich our blood. Finally, tiny internal muscles move the rest of it on about a two-mile journey out of our body. How did this just happen? If the smallest of these parts failed to work with the others, early man’s life would have ended painfully. Jesus obviously knew about the digestive system from the above verse. In addition, John 1:3 says “without Him nothing was made that was made.” We take this system for granted each time we eat or drink something, yet all its component parts work in harmony so we can enjoy life. I am grateful and also mystified by the genius of my Creator in designing my body. It is ...food for thought. . Job 5-7 Song of Solomon — Stanley Tucker

who o follow What these Christian athletes are tweeting about...

@bethanyhamilton Stay true to your passions. Keep it clean. Work hard. Play hard. http://instagram.com/p/ mBs0bYwJCb/

Friday “...In them, He has set a tabernacle for the sun, which is like a bridegroom coming out of his chamber, and rejoices like a strong man to run its race.” Psalm 19:4b, 5

Living Eagerly for Christ

On Feb. 9, 2014, the Illinois men’s basketball team played at Penn State. Both teams were struggling to stay out of the Big 10 cellar. Late in the game, with the score close, Illinois point guard Tracy Abrams was fouled while shooting. He missed both free throws. The game remained close, and in the final minute Abrams was fouled again on an inbounds pass. He literally ran to the other end and waited at the freethrow line. He was eager to redeem himself. In the double bonus, he sank both fee throws, helping the Illini survive and win. The verse above paints a picture, personalizing the sun as eager, like a man on his wedding day, or a strong man anticipating his race. Also, Ecclesiastes 1:2 says that “the sun also rises, and the sun goes down, and is eager for the place where it arose.” Do you look forward eagerly to each day? To be honest, I don’t always. I allow stress or worry to temper my eagerness. Too bad I can’t have the same attitude the sun apparently has. My days would go better. It is something to shoot for. Psalm 118:24 says, “This is the day which the LORD has made; we will rejoice and be glad in it.” We get a fresh start every day, and God made today. Let’s be eager to live it for Him. Job 8-10

— Stanley Tucker

Prov 1-3

Weekender “Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly

loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.” Colossians 3:12

Going Long

Read Colossians 3:12-14 and think about how perfect fullness in Christ leads to life. Those who follow Christ have been made alive in Christ. Do you live defeated? Or do you live victorious, knowing you are chosen by God, holy and dearly loved? Job 11-13

Prov 4-6

Job 14-16

Prov 7-9 Brock Williams-Smith/NBAE via Getty Images

Mar 27 Pro Surfer, shark attack survivor Bethany Hamilton

@PujolsFive To all of my friends with Down syndrome, may God bless you! Celebrate your life. This is your day. You deserve it! #WorldDownSyndromeDay Mar 21 Los Angeles Angels baseball player Albert Pujols, who started the Pujols Family Foundation to help raise awareness for children with Down Syndrome. @DangeRussWilson Woke up this morning so driven! Blessed to call God my true friend. #NoTime2Sleep Mar 18 Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson

@ATolliver44: Father thank You 4 choosing me before I was ever born. Thank You 4 knowing me & revealing Yourself 2 me. I trust that You r working n my life. Mar 6 Charlotte Bobcats Anthony Tolliver

Anthony Tolliver of the Charlotte Bobcats owns Active Faith, which produces Christian-themed apparel. 45


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SERIES:

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what they're Instagramming Funny things these Christian athletes are Instagramming...

@GregJennings: My guy and I, enjoying a little sun in Hawaii. #Honolulu #Vacation #FamilyGuy #MyTwin… http://instagram.com/p/lvlSbACVaX/ Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Greg Jennings

ABOUT

MYSTERY

AND

AWE

Monday “Hear this, O Job; stop and consider the wondrous works of God.” Job 37:14

Doubtless Wonder

Writer and theologian Frederick Buechner once said, “Doubts are the ants in the pants of faith. They keep it awake and moving.” I’m reminded of a time in my high school golf career where I was extremely unconfident in my abilities. I stepped onto the course each round with a thousand doubts racing through my mind. I stood over each shot, paralyzed by negativity. I eventually realized that these thoughts were things I had to take captive if I ever wanted to improve as a golfer. Eventually, I did. And by college, I approached each tournament believing I could win (though I never did) and believing I was the best player on the course (though I wasn’t). Doubt led to faith, and faith led to wonder—a sense that, suddenly, there were no bounds on my abilities, though I once went through each round doubting them. I think our spiritual lives are similar. If handled maturely, like Job of the Old Testament, doubt can open up our minds to a world of realm and wonder as we stand in awe of God’s mysterious ways. Job 17-20

Prov 10-12

— Stephen Copeland, Sports Spectrum

Tuesday “On the glorious splendor of your majesty, and on your wondrous works, I will meditate.” Psalm 145:5

Wonder ful Ways

@JLin7: Out here supporting the homie lecrae!! Don’t hate on the Up t-shirt lol #toGodbetheglory http://instagram.com/p/lTklyvOP_c/ Houston Rockets point guard Jeremy Lin

Maybe it’s just my personality, but things that do not make sense seem to captivate me. I’m drawn to them and addicted to trying to figure them out. Golf is like this for me. There are so many levels to it—the mental side, the technical side, the short game, etc.—that, for years, I spent each day, for hours upon hours, trying to solve the puzzle more and more. Especially through middle school and high school summer vacations, I had one goal each day: solve golf. But I would usually go home thinking to myself, “Golf is hard.” Still, I’d be right back at the golf course early the next morning. God is like this to me, too. If He had levels to Him like golf, it’d be an infinite amount of levels. He is not bound by time or space. There is no formula that can contain Him. And, though I don’t understand Him, something like the wind pushes me toward Him and makes me want to know more and more about Him. It is this magnitude and complexity in the context of His love that draws me to Him, and, as David says in Psalm 145:5, makes my soul want to meditate on His wondrous ways. Job 21-23

Prov 13-15

— Stephen Copeland, Sports Spectrum

Wednesday “For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, ‘Abba! Father!’” Romans 8:15

Fear Calmed @dangerusswilson: Happy Opening Day #MLB fans! #Rangers http://instagram.com/p/mNayCkM7KI/ Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Willson

What does it mean that we, as Christians, have received the Spirit? What does it mean that God has adopted us as sons? What does it mean that God is our “Abba Father”? If you think about it, is it fully possible to comprehend any of these things? Over time, I think we can comprehend it more, becoming more and more like heavenly citizens, but I’m unsure if we can fully comprehend the answers to all of these questions because each answer can be traced back to the outpouring of God’s incomprehensible love. What I love about this verse, though, is that Paul contrasts fear with all these things that are true of us regarding our identity as God’s beloved daughters and sons. He replaces fear with wonder. I have found this to be true in my own life. I have a lot of fears, and it is a constant battle for me to not allow them to enslave me. Consider a professional athlete like LeBron James. A lot of stuff is said about him every minute of every day. If he paid attention to everything, he would most likely be a fearful, emotional wreck. Instead, he sticks to doing what he knows best a: playing basketball. Fear is often a product of our own perceptions of ourselves or other people’s perceptions of us. But here, in Romans 8:15, Paul says that we have a new identity: we have received the Spirit and are adopted as the sons of Abba. And I have found that in this wonder, my fears are calmed. Job 24-28

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Prov 16-18

— Stephen Copeland, Sports Spectrum TO SUBSCRIBE TO SPORTS SPECTRUM: CALL 1-866-821-2971


Thursday “Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his

judgments and how inscrutable his ways! ‘For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who has been his counselor? Or who has given a gift to him that he might be repaid?’ For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen.” Romans 11:33-36

Waves of Wonder

This winter, alternative rock band Switchfoot released a documentary to complement their new album, “Fading West.” One of the threads of the documentary is the sport that drew them together in the first place: surfing. The scenes in the film are absolutely beautiful, as they tour the globe and surf in some of the world’s most renowned surfing hotspots. Though I do not know how to surf, as a lover of the ocean, I really appreciate the film’s videography and the way it uses nature as a vessel to the spiritual. This, in fact, is what I love most about being out in the ocean. The ocean, to me, is where I sometimes experience God the most because of its reminder to me of both His beauty and magnificence. It is where I get lost in this idea of wonder. Switchfoot lead singer Jon Foreman, who I have long admired for his thoughts about the idea of wonder, says this in an article he wrote for the Huffington Post: “Against the backdrop of wonder, I am reminded of the larger symphony going on around me, reminded of how small I really am.” Job 29-31 Prov 19-21

— Stephen Copeland, Sports Spectrum

Friday “You asked, ‘Who is this that obscures my plans without knowledge?’ Surely I spoke of things I did not understand, things too wonderful for me to know.” Job 42:3

‘Frightening and Lof ty Experiences’

I find it fascinating how conclusion-driven our culture is. Everything, I think, is far too black and white for me to be comfortable with. I have written columns for Sports Spectrum before where I haven’t clearly taken a side, and the point behind doing so is this: God is too big for a formula. I do believe in right and wrong, and I do believe in sin, and I think it’s illustrated clearly in the Bible. But when it comes to a fervent Catholic in the NFL growing in His faith (which I wrote about in October), as a Protestant, I consider him a dear brother in Christ whom I can learn from. This did not settle well with some Protestants who read it because they think all Catholics are wrong. But this is what I love most about God and theology. Everything He does, we try to describe with our theology, but we cannot describe Him fully because He cannot be contained. This is why there are so many sects of Christianity. God cannot be explained, though we try to. And that’s a scary thing. And yet, it’s comforting, because that’s my God—one who cannot be explained. In the same Huffington Post article referenced in Thursday’s devotional, Switchfoot lead man Jon Foreman says, “Of course, without wonder nothing can be wonderful. These are the frightening, lofty experiences that bring me to my knees.” I love this quote and believe it sums up the beauty of wonder perfectly. Allow it to bring you to your knees. Job 32-34 Prov 22-24 — Stephen Copeland, Sports Spectrum

Weekender “Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts,

since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” Colossians 3:15-17

Going Long

Read Colossians 3:15-17 and consider the concept of peace. When the message dwells richly among us, it brings a peace that surpasses all understanding. Are you experiencing peace or havoc? Job 35-37

I Kings 5-6; 2 Chron 2-3

Job 38-39

I Kings 7; 2 Chron 4

Switchfoot lead singer Jon Foreman.

Brian Nevins

WEEK 10 Switchfoot

album review Faith and surfing have always been the threads behind Switchfoot’s music, and “Fading West” is no different. In their ninth album since 1996, these themes have never been more clear. Switchfoot spent 2012 not only writing music but also touring the globe and surfing. The result was the documentary “Fading West,” released in December, and an album titled “Fading West” released in January. And this, I think, is what we appreciate most about these five surfer dudes from San Diego. They remain who they are—unashamed authenticity communicated in songs like“Who We Are” and “Let It Out” —yet continue to break new ground, change their sound, and do different things. “Fading West” is all of these. Compared to their last two rock albums, Hello Hurricane (2009) and Vice Verses (2011), Fading West has more of a pop influence. The thread of their faith is most evident in songs like “Love Alone Is Worth The Fight,” where love is contrasted with fear (So close I can taste this/ The fear that love alone erases); “BA55” which alludes to sanctification; and “Back to the Beginning Again” (And my heart is Yours/ And what a broken place it’s in/ But You’re what I’m running for/ And I want to feel the wind at my back again).“Saltwater Heart” has a mixture of both faith and surfing (When I’m on Your shore again/I can feel the ocean/I can feel Your open arms/That pure emotion). Overall, the hopeful nature of love and its ability to conquer all things carries the album into the realm of joy and wonder as Switchfoot uses rock-and-roll to challenge listeners to ask life’s big questions. -Stephen Copeland, Sports Spectrum 47


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Monday “Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 18:4

‘Like A Young Man At 15’

Leading up to the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, I couldn’t help but reflect on the 2010 World Cup in South Africa. I was reminded of one of the great leaders of our time, Nelson Mandela, who died on Dec. 5, 2013. He couldn’t have been happier to host the World Cup in South Africa after all he had seen his nation go through, and I think his life and its relation to sport is worth reflecting on. When South Africa was awarded the right to host the 2010 FIFA World Cup, Mandela, 85 at the time, was quoted saying, “I feel like a young man at 15.” To me, this is one of the greatest things about sports. They make us feel young again. For a moment, the cares of the world dissolve, and we experience freedom and excitement through the game at hand. I’m reminded of Matthew 18 where Jesus encourages his followers to become like little children to enter the kingdom of heaven. My ESV Study Bible states: “The humility of a child consists of childlike trust, vulnerability, and the inability to advance his or her own cause apart from the help, direction, and resources of a parent.” In this frame of mind, there is freedom and excitement because the Lord is advancing His causes through us. Job 40-42 I Kings 8; 2 Chron 5 — Stephen Copeland, Sports Spectrum

1. Has Germany ever won a World Cup? 2. Which country has won the most World Cups? 3. Which player has scored the most goals in the World Cup? 4. How many times has the host country won? 5. What is the largest crowd to watch a World Cup match? Answers: 1. No (West Germany won titles in 1954, 1974, and 1990, but Germany has never won a title); 2. Brazil, 5 (1958, 1962, 1970, 1994, 2002); 3. Ronaldo, 15 (1998-2006); 4. Six times (Uruguay 1930; Italy 1934; England 1966; West Germany 1974; Argentina 1978; France 1998); 5. 199,854, Uruguay v. Brazil, July 16, 1950, Maracana Stadium, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

-Brett Honeycutt, Sports Spectrum

Tuesday “When Paul had gathered a bundle of sticks and put them on the fire, a viper came out because

of the heat and fastened on his hand…He, however, shook off the creature into the fire and suffered no harm.” Acts 28:3,5

Transcending Joy

Nelson Mandela served more than 27 years in prison for leading a sabotage campaign against the apartheid government in South Africa. During his imprisonment, Mandela says sport was the only glimpse of hope for his fellow prisoners. “While we were on Robben Island,” Mandela says, “the only access to the World Cup was on radio. Football was the only joy to prisoners.” I absolutely love this quote. Sports were able to transcend the prisoner’s pain and circumstances and bring them joy. That is pretty powerful. I’m reminded of Paul throughout the New Testament, who, despite his repeated imprisonments and continual persecution for his faith, experienced a surpassing joy that freed him from his circumstances. He seemed to continually shake off his earthly pain and was able to experience joy elsewhere. As I read Acts 28, I couldn’t help but think to myself, “Poor Paul!” Not only is he imprisoned on a ship and treated like scum, but then he is bitten by a snake after he rescues the crew from a storm. I’m fascinated by Paul’s actions, though. All he does is shake the snake off into the fire. His joy is elsewhere, and this allows him to roll with the punches. Ps 1-8

SPORTS SPECTRUM

— Stephen Copeland, Sports Spectrum

Wednesday “Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.” Romans 5:3-4

The Thread Of Character

Nelson Mandela once said, “Who could doubt that sport is a crucial window for the propagation of fair play and justice? After all, fair play is a value that is essential to sport.” Mandela believed that sports not only united the masses but also provided lessons to each individual. Though a team may win or lose, character was the unchanging thread in sport that produced long-lasting fruit. Though Mandela loved sports and couldn’t have been more excited that South Africa was hosting the World Cup, what he loved even more was the opportunity sports presented to make people into better individuals. What about you? If you are a parent, are you too focused on your child’s performance in athletics? If you are an athlete, are you too focused on your own performance? Try to approach sport like Mandela, inside the context of character. It is the one thing that does not change and the one thing that lasts longer than wins and losses. Ps 9-16

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2 Chron 6-7; Ps 136

Ps 134, 146-150

— Stephen Copeland, Sports Spectrum TO SUBSCRIBE TO SPORTS SPECTRUM: CALL 1-866-821-2971


Thursday “If we are distressed, it is for your comfort and salvation; if we are comforted, it is for your

WEEK 11

comfort, which produces in you patient endurance of the same sufferings we suffer.” 2 Corinthians 1:6

training table

Patience And Endurance

Upon the 2010 World Cup’s arrival in South Africa, South African icon Nelson Mandela was quoted saying, “The people of Africa learnt the lesson of patience and endurance in their long struggle for freedom. May the reward brought by the FIFA World Cup prove that the long wait for its arrival on African soil has been worth it.” What amazes me most about this quote is that, despite the persecution Mandela endured and the dark past of his country, Mandela calls it learning “the lesson of patience and endurance.” He would be perfectly justified to get bitter, but instead, he gets better. He calls his and his people’s past persecution a lesson. And he proclaims his message of peace on the world’s largest stage through the World Cup. It is far too easy for us to handle our past or the sins committed against us with bitterness or regret and not view them as lessons. But surely, if Mandela can spend much of his life suffering in prison for a cause and call it a “lesson of patience and endurance,” surely we can handle our past hardships, that pale in comparison to Mandela’s, with the same mindset. — Stephen Copeland, Sports Spectrum Ps 17-20 I Kings 9; 2 Chron 8

Friday “So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and the teachers, to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.” Ephesians 4:11-13

Unfathomable Fullness

The 2010 FIFA World Cup was the first World Cup I ever watched. I absolutely loved it. I was amazed by how each team had the opportunity to unite its country, how, for a season, political and divisive barriers no longer mattered. Even in America, where soccer isn’t as big as other sports, it still united the American people on levels I had never seen. Nelson Mandela put it perfectly as South Africa prepared to host the World Cup: “Sport has the power to inspire and unite people. In Africa, soccer enjoys great popularity and has a particular place in the hearts of people. That is why it is so important that the FIFA World Cup will, for the first time ever, be hosted on the African continent.” I think it’s amazing that God has given us gifts like sports, music, art, or relationships to unite us. Ultimately, I believe it all points toward something greater. I think they are all representations and reminders of a long-lasting desire all of us naturally have—to be unified with our Creator. As I read Ephesians 4:11-13, I can’t help but stand in wonder of the phrase “attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.” This is the union I desire above all, and much of life, I think, is about maturing more and more toward this fullness. This World Cup, as each country unites around its team, consider the concept of union and how your union with God plays out in your own life. Ps 21-25

Prov 25-26

— Stephen Copeland, Sports Spectrum

Weekender “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart,

as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.” Colossians 3:23-24

Going Long

Read Colossians 3:18 to Colossians 4:1 and think about what it means to be a Christian. Do your actions and attitude reflect the nature of a servant? Is your life one of obedience, which leads to freedom? Ps 26-31

Prov 27-29

Ps 32-35

Ecc 1-6

Jorge de Amorim Campos When I was a child I dreamed of being a football player. Now, I am thankful to God for 19 years of playing professionally in Brazil, Germany, and Japan. I always associated happiness, peace, and success with what happened in football. Early in my career I achieved almost everything I wanted out of football: titles, money, and a good life. But those things didn’t bring peace or the happiness that I expected. I didn’t feel complete. During my career, I was hit with personal problems. My older brother, Jaime, was struggling through life. He was an alcoholic, did not have a lot of money, did not drive a nice car, and wasn’t famous – and he also did not feel complete. But then he became a Christian and stopped drinking. He still did not have a nice car or much money, but he had peace in his life and was content. I noticed a huge difference between us. I believed in God too, but Jaime completely entrusted his life to Him. It didn’t make sense to me. I was famous with a nice car and a lot of money, but I didn’t have peace. I decided to visit a church. The pastor spoke of Jesus and His act of salvation and forgiveness of our sins. Afterwards he prayed for the physical and spiritual problems of the church. It touched me deeply and reminded me of the conversion I had seen with my brother. Right then, I surrendered myself to Jesus as my Lord and Savior. I finally understood that the greatest joy a man can have is accepting Christ into his heart. When I completely entrusted my life to Him, He filled me with the peace and love I was missing. I felt complete.

--- Jorginho, member of Brazil’s 1994 World Cup championship team, as told to the Fellowship of Christian Athletes

Jorge de Amorim Campos (Jorginho) Chris Cole

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Monday “For there are three that testify: the Spirit and the water and the blood; and these three agree.” 1 John 5:7-8

‘All In One Rhythm’

The official slogan of the 2014 FIFA World Cup is “All in One Rhythm,” or, in Portuguese, “Juntos num so ritmo.” I love these four words. Not only is it a perfect description of the World Cup—how teams from around the world come together to participate in the sport of soccer, all in one rhythm— but it also makes me think of the spiritual side of this phrase. One of the most remarkable things in the Christian faith, to me, is the concept of the trinity. Just thinking about the triune God—the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit—points my heart and mind toward something worth discovering. One of my mentors describes this three-person deity and their relationship and union with one another as a dance. Somehow, someway, they are all in one rhythm, making up one being, serving different functions. What is even more remarkable to me is that this Triune God welcomes us into the dance, inviting us to join the rhythm, as He lives in us and through us. Ps 36-39

Ecc 7-12

— Stephen Copeland, Sports Spectrum

Tuesday “Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.” Matthew 26:41

Scars For A Cause

They are calling Group G the “Group of Death” in the 2014 FIFA World Cup, consisting of Germany, Portugal, Ghana, and the United States. Merely advancing out of the group would be an incredible accomplishment, especially for the United States. The fact that it’s a more difficult road for, say, a team like the United States, almost makes the journey more exciting. The greater the pain, the greater the reward. I’ve been trying to approach sin and temptation with this same mindset. I recently heard a sermon by John Piper based on the premise: You don’t have to sin to feel its power. He gives the analogy of increasing weights on a rope hooked at people’s ankles, one by one, pulling them over a cliff into the pits of sin. As the weight increases, Piper says, you feel the temptation of sin, even without sinning. As the analogy goes, after the weight pulls two people over the side of the cliff, it steadily increases with the third person until the cord finally snaps. The third person’s ankles are bleeding, but he has not sinned. Piper then exclaims something along the lines of, “Do I have any soldiers out there? I want to see some scars for a cause! You don’t have to sin to feel its power.” Do you have any scars for a cause? Or do you fall over the cliff time and time again? Show God He is much more rewarding than your sin that so easily entangles. Show him some scars. Ps 40-45

I Kings 10-11; 2 Chron 9

— Stephen Copeland, Sports Spectrum

Wednesday “Everyone ought to examine themselves before they eat of the bread and drink from the cup.” 1 Corinthians 11:28

To Step Back In Maturity

I’m really happy that FIFA is deciding to use goal-line technology for the first time in the upcoming 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil. In the last World Cup in South Africa, England was wrongly denied a goal against Germany, and FIFA president Sepp Blatter was quoted saying, “It would be a nonsense not to reopen the file on goal-line technology.” I’m glad that FIFA had the humility to step back and re-evaluate whether or not there’d be a better way to operate in future World Cups, especially in a sport like soccer where goals are extremely scarce and can certainly alter the fate of the entire tournament. Part of me believes that each one of us tend to think that our thoughts, actions, and beliefs are more superior than everyone else’s. Strangely, the people who bother me the most, I’ve found, are the ones who are most like myself. Be yourself. Be who you are. But also consider that every person you interact with may have something to share with you that can make you a better person. There is courage, humility, and maturity in taking a step back and examining our lives. Ps 46-50

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Prov 30-31

— Stephen Copeland, Sports Spectrum


WEEK 12 Thursday “Another disciple said to him, ‘Lord, first let me go and bury my father.’ But Jesus told him, ‘Follow me, and let the dead bury their own dead.’” Matthew 8:21-22

Serious Call, Freeing Cause

The Brazilian government has pledged to spend at least $900 million on security for the upcoming 2014 FIFA World Cup. They have said that it will be “one of the most protected sports events in history.” A CNN article in 2012 said that the government plans on having one police officer per every 50 people at each soccer match and one per every 80 people at other viewing events around the country. It makes sense. The last time Brazil hosted the World Cup was 1950. The last time a South American country hosted a World Cup was 1978. Times have changed. Hosting anything is a big responsibility, especially if it’s as serious as a World Cup. This is only natural—the more responsibility, the more serious the call—but I think we look over this aspect in our spiritual lives. Somehow, we’ve grown up in a predominantly Christian culture (especially in the Bible Belt, where I live) that has made Jesus their Savior but has not made Him their Lord. In Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s book, The Cost of Discipleship, he calls it cheap grace and costly grace. Bonhoeffer says that the only man who has the right to say he is saved by grace alone is the man who has given his entire life to follow Christ. Bonhoeffer, who went on to die for the cause of Christianity in Nazi Germany, called it “the grace of martyrdom”. It was a gift of grace because it was God welcoming him into His purposes, even if it was viewed as costly in the world’s eyes. Do you live your life with the foundation of cheap grace or costly grace? The call is both serious and freeing. Ps 51-57

— Stephen Copeland, Sports Spectrum

I Kings 12-14

Friday “Righteous Father, though the world does not know you, I know you, and they know that you have sent me. I have made you known to them, and will continue to make you known in order that the love you have for me may be in them and that I myself may be in them.” John 17:25-26

‘ We Are One’

The official logo of the 2014 FIFA World Cup is titled “Inspiration,” and its design is based around the concept of Brazil welcoming the entire world to its country. To me, it’s a logo about unity. Similarly, the official song of the World Cup is by Pitbull (featuring Jennifer Lopez and Claudia Letite) and is titled “We Are One”. Again, the concept is unity as the world comes together around a sporting event. I believe that one of the most profound chapters in the Bible is John 17, as Jesus prays for all believers, including us, as He ascends into Heaven. I recommend reading the entire chapter, but the verses above are amazing in themselves. The entire theme of the chapter is unity. And I find it interesting that the last thing Jesus leaves with us is this concept of unity, not only with one another, but also the triune God. If union was the Son of God’s final prayer, how important must it be? Ps 58-65

2 Chron 10-12

— Stephen Copeland, Sports Spectrum

Weekender “Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful.” Colossians 4:2

Going Long

Read Colossians 4:2-6 and think about the instructions Paul gives the Colossians. He covers a wide variety of topics, but consider his final instructions and how they apply to your daily life. Ps 66-69

training table

Yerson opazo I started playing soccer at age six, and at age 15 I joined a professional team called the University of Chile. As often happens in pro soccer, I have played for several teams since. I was also blessed to play on our Chilean National Team, an experience most young players only dream about. I will be proud to one day tell my grandchildren that I represented our country in international competition. Unfortunately, in 2007 I was kicked off the team for disciplinary reasons. I deeply regret my foolish behavior, but it did cause me to reassess my life. I reached a breaking point. I repented of my sins and confessed to God that I couldn’t live without Him. As I gave my heart to Jesus and committed my life to Him, I prayed – “Here I am, God. Do what you must to change my life.” About that time, I moved in with a family and rejoiced to find that they had also experienced restoration and come to know Christ. Their love and support were just what I needed, encouraging me to stay on the right path. After I was dismissed from the team, I spent a lot of time in God’s Word and in prayer. I believe God told me that one day I would again play at the highest level. I didn’t know how that could happen, but I knew I needed to continue spending time with Him. That was my test of faith. Matthew 6:33 says, “Seek first the kingdom of God,” and so I did. Months later, I saw God’s promises come true when I was given another chance at a club called Colo Colo. As I was waiting in the airport to go join the club, God spoke to my heart and said, “Do you remember the promise I made a year ago? That you would be on a big team again?” I cried the entire flight. Everyone was looking at me wondering why I was crying. It was simply because I was experiencing the greatness of God. ---Yerson Opazo, Chilean national team member, as told to the Fellowship of Christian Athletes

I Kings 15:1-24; 2 Chron 13-16

Ps 70-73 I Kings 15:25-16; 34; 2 Chron 17

Chile’s Yerson Opazo saw a fulfillment of God’s promise to him and experienced “the greatness of God.” Fabrice Coffrini / AFP / Getty Images

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Monday “However, I consider my life worth nothing to me, if only I may finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me—the task of testifying to the gospel of God’s grace.” Acts 20:24

The Joy Inside

Why am I playing soccer? I believe soccer has created a platform to live out the verse from Acts 20:24. One practical way for this scripture to come alive is by the way you play the game, working for your teammates and considering them better than yourself just as Christ shows us in Philippians. Can you play in such a way that your entire performance and character will testify of God’s grace? Aside from playing soccer, God has placed two passions and visions inside me: children and international ministry. I use soccer as a platform to invest in and love kids in the community. Through spending time with them at camp, I learned that it was important to remember the race we are running and to finish strong. Remembering our goal is to testify that the Gospel of God’s grace is simply sharing what Jesus has done in our life. Because soccer is a universal language that instantly brings together different cultures, religions, and people, I can further this goal by taking this verse overseas. Because of a small ball, I am able to share the joy that is inside me! What allows you to share the joy inside you? Ps 74-77 I Kings 17-19

— Chris Klotz, Reader Submitted

1. What was the first year the U.S. qualified for the World Cup? 2. How many times has the U.S. qualified for the World Cup?

Tuesday “You can do all things through Him who gives you strength.” Philippians 4:13

3. What is the best finish the U.S. team has had in the World Cup?

Life is a series of challenges and can be a hilly journey. Just as you conquer one challenge or go over one hill, the next one awaits on the horizon. And sometimes the struggle seems endless, but you will always get through it because He who puts you to it, will see you through it. This game of soccer is much more like life than any other sport. There are no timeouts and no playbooks that can foresee the opponents’ strategy or help guide your next decision. You have to think on your feet as fast as you can, adapt to situations quickly, and when necessary, adapt new strategies as needed. The decisions we make on the field have a bearing on the results. We spend hours daily training for a game that lasts only 90 minutes. Do we spend as much time preparing for life through our walk with Christ? If not, let’s adjust our life to glorify God.

4. What U.S. player has scored the most international goals? 5. What U.S. player has made the most World Cup appearances? Answers: 1. 1930 (the first year of the World Cup); 2. Ten (1930, 1934, 1950, 1990, 1994, 1998, 2002, 2006, 2010, 2014);

Preparing Properly

Ps 78-79

I Kings 20-21

— Taurai Daka, Reader Submitted

3. Third (1930); 4. Landon Donovan (5); 5. Kasey Keller and Claudio Reyna (each with 4. Keller played in 1990, 1998, 2002, 2006 and Reyna played in 1994, 1998, 2002, 2006). -Brett Honeycutt, Sports Spectrum

Wednesday “And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him—a threefold cord is not quickly broken.” Ecclesiastes 4:12

No Man Is An Island

Life, like soccer, is not a one-man show. You have teammates to help you, some working harder than others and some more knowledgeable and skillful than others. That is why it is important, as Christians, to be involved with other believers, each part contributing different gifts for the greater good. Each part, like each team player, is important and significant; working together as a unit, respecting, loving and serving each other. I have learned in soccer that no one person can make a team; the team makes you. In life, no man is an island, and the decisions you make for yourself will have an impact on others. Are you prepared to make the correct decisions daily, knowing their resounding impact? Have you prepared enough? Are you willing to lean on others? Ps 80-85

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I Kings 22; 2 Chron 18

— Taurai Daka, Reader Submitted


WEEK 13 Thursday “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” John 10:10

training table

Fill Me Up

What does a satisfying life look like? This question is something I chased after for a long time. It was something that, deep down, I longed for; to live a life that satisfied my heart but also made a difference in the lives of others. It was not until I was in my early 20’s that I came to see that God created me to be in a relationship with Him, but that He also gave me gifts that could be used to honor Him and serve others. I always loved playing soccer and competing, but for most of my life I did it for the wrong reasons. I only started to understand the life that God really had in store for me when I learned how to use my gifts to build relationships, bridge cultural gaps, and share the message of hope around the world. For the past 14 years, I have had the chance to play soccer professionally, but more than that I have had the chance to travel the world and tell others the story of the Lord who changed my life. Christ desires to give us a life that satisfies our hearts and impacts the world. My hope for you is that you first enter the most important relationship with Christ, and then secondly, see how God desires to use you. When these two things happen, I truly believe you will have the full life that Christ offers. Ps 86-89 2 Chron 19-23

— Dustin Swineheart, Reader Submitted

Friday “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it

is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always hopes, always perseveres.” I Corinthians 13:4-7

Weapons Of Mass Devotion

Several years ago I lived in a world that didn’t make God happy. I played on good teams and was paid good money, but I wasn’t happy. It was a dark world with many fake friendships; people who liked me for what I had. When I met my future wife, she helped me know the true love of God. In the moment that I accepted Jesus and gave my life to Him, everything changed. I received a new lease on life with trusted friends, and in my job as a soccer player I had more respect from, and for, my teammates. In return, God touched my heart to share His blessings with the other teammates. In feeling called to do this, I started to make gospel CD’s to give to other teammates, and every chance I told them about Jesus. I noticed that God changed my life using soccer as a weapon to talk more about His Kingdom and glory. What weapons has God given you to use? — Diego Jose Martins, Reader Submitted

Ps 90-95

Oba; Ps 82-83

Weekender “See to it that you complete the ministry you have received in the Lord.” Colossians 4:17

Going Long

Read Colossians 4:7-18 and think about Paul’s final greetings to the Colossians. Consider, specifically, what he says to Archippus. What ministry have you received? What has the Lord put you in charge over. Ps 96-102

II Kings 1-4

Ps 103-105

II Kings 5-8

clarence goodson God has blessed me with a successful soccer career and I try to honor Him through it. Although staying committed to my faith as a professional athlete may not always be easy, depending on Christ through temptations and distractions and staying in His Word helps. I grew up in a close Christian family and accepted Christ at a young age. We went to church on a regular basis and I was always involved in youth programs. I am thankful to my parents for raising us with strong Christian morals and teaching us the importance of faith. As a young man, I strayed from Christ for a while, wanting to experience what the world had to offer. Through that time, God was faithful and brought Christians and Bible studies into my life, which eventually led me back to Him. My story is that of redemption, not of perfection. My mother taught me a great deal about commitment. She instilled in me the importance of choosing a path and then working at it with my whole heart. I may not have always been the fastest or the strongest on the field, but I was certainly willing to work hard. In my professional career, God is teaching me to rely on Him. I am ready to do whatever I am called to, and go wherever He needs me. I try to listen for His leading and follow His will as I make decisions. When contracts are offered, I pray for guidance. I pray that He will show me how and where I can best influence people for Christ. ---Clarence Goodson, U.S. World Cup player and member of the MLS’ San Jose Earthquakes.”

Clarence Goodson of the United States is preparing to play in the second World Cup of his career.

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Brazilian superstar KAKA captures the attention of the world, not only with his play but by living out his faith every day

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BY Jeremy V. Jones ying in bed for two months with a broken neck, 18-year-old Ricardo Izecson dos Santos Leite made a list of 10 goals. Nevermind the fact that he was uncertain to ever play again after fracturing his sixth vertebra at the bottom of a waterslide. And forget cautious optimism. These were audacious dreams even for a boy raised on the soccer mania of Brazil—especially one who had needed a medical program to spur his stunted growth and who was yet to crack the starting lineup of the junior squad of São Paulo Football Club. The list began with “Return to soccer” and scaled upward to finish with “Compete in the World Cup” and “Transfer to a big club in Italy or Germany.” In January 2001 about two weeks after returning to soccer he was called up to São Paulo’s professional team. On March 7, with 10 minutes remaining, he was subbed into the finals of the prestigious Rio-São Paulo Tournament. São Paulo trailed Botafogo 1-0 when the midfielder received a high, looping pass, flipped it behind the back of a defender and fired a low shot beneath the diving goalkeeper. Two minutes later he netted another low rocket to clinch the championship as TV announcers shouted “Goooooooooooooooal!” Brazil had met Kaká. (The nickname, pronounced Ka-kah’, came when his older brother couldn’t pronounce his name.) He claimed his starting spot for São Paulo and within two years could cross off the entire list of goals, including playing for Brazil’s 2002 World Cup champions. By 2007 Kaká stood at the apex of world soccer, sweeping its highest individual honors: the FIFPro World Player of the Year, the Ballon d’Or for best in the world and the FIFA World Player of the Year. “I have been very blessed with success—the World Cup in 2002, the FIFA prize of the Golden Ball in 2007, many championships and honors. It may seem that I have everything. Due to my wealth and fame, some people ask why or if I still need Jesus,” he shares. “The answer is simple: I need Jesus every day of my life. His Word, the 54

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Faith and Family

Kaká’s star shot into the stratosphere in soccer-mad Brazil following his breakout game. The press couldn’t get enough of him, and he was an instant heartthrob. He couldn’t go out in public without being mobbed. At first Kaká’s mother answered the 50 letters a day from female admirers, but the flood of attention quickly became too much. After the initial shock, Kaká developed a warm accessibility with the press and fans, but he avoided the limelight

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and temptations of the nightclubs and paparazzi scene. As had always been the case, his family and faith were his anchor. “Many people think that I became a Christian after the accident, but that is not true,” Kaká says. “My parents always taught me the Bible and its values, and also about Jesus Christ and faith.” Being baptized at 12 was an important milestone for Kaká and one that had a profound effect on his young spiritual life. “Little by little, I stopped simply hearing people talk about the Jesus my parents taught me,” he says. “There came a time when I wanted to live my own experiences with God.”

Europe Bound

There’s a common saying about soccer: “England invented it. The Brazilians perfected it.” The Brazilian game is generally an artful, rhythmic flow marked by skillful dribbling and unexpected passing. The nation brought joga bonita, the beautiful game, to the world and holds more World Cup championships, five, than any other country. But Europe is the epicenter of professional soccer. The big money of each nation’s pro leagues draws the world’s top talent, and the continent-wide UEFA Champions League ensures the highest stakes of competition and talent. So it was no surprise in 2003 when the then 21-year-old Kaká went to play for AC Milan in Italy’s Serie A. European soccer is generally considered more physical and tactical than the South American game, but the 6-foot, 1-inch, 180-pound Kaká adapted instantly. His first season he earned a starting role, scored 10 goals and helped Milan win the Scudetto, the Serie A championship. He was named the league Player of the Year. “[Kaká ] has the technique of a Brazilian and the physical qualities of a European,” Vanderlei Luxemburgo, former Brazilian national team coach, told FIFA.com. “He is the standard-bearer of the modern game.” By 2005, Kaká and Milan reached the Champions League final where they squandered a 3-0 halftime lead and lost to England’s Liverpool in penalty kicks. The Rossoneri returned in 2007, however, to win the Champions League in a rematch against Liverpool. Kaká ’s string of bestin-the-world awards followed, and he was named to the Time 100 list of the world’s most influential people. After turning down a transfer offer of

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Bible, tells me that without Him, I can’t do anything. I really believe that. The ability I have to play football and all that has resulted from it are gifts from God. He has given me a talent to use for Him, and I try to improve on it every day. “I also believe that pursuing excellence with the skills He has given me brings honor to Him. God doesn’t want lukewarm from His followers; He wants our best. First Corinthians 10:31 says, ‘Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do everything for God’s glory.’ My motivation to win matches…has grown from wanting to be excellent for my Creator. “It was a dream for me just to play for São Paulo and one game for Brazil, but the Bible says God can give you more than you even ask for and that is what has happened in my life.”

$151 million from England’s Manchester City, Kaká and Milan agreed to a $100 million deal with Spain’s Real Madrid in 2009. The record-breaking deal was eclipsed within weeks when Real Madrid paid $131 million to sign Cristiano Ronaldo. Ultimately the team spent $350 million on international stars in order to reclaim domestic and European dominance. Kaká struggled with some nagging injuries, and the entire team didn’t immediately gel. Expectations on Los Blancos were incredibly high, and fans cried for the firing of coach Manuel Pellegrini when they lost to France’s Lyon in the first knockout round of the Champions League. However, Real Madrid finished second to Barcelon for the Spanish title.

Radical

Kaká ’s accomplishments on the field obviously brought him worldwide prominence, but his personal reputation has also drawn TO SUBSCRIBE TO SPORTS SPECTRUM: CALL 1-866-821-2971


widespread attention as a novelty among international sports stars. Pick an international soccer—or professional athlete—stereotype and Kaká contradicts it. He’s Brazilian, so he grew up in poverty playing with a homemade ball? Both of Kaká ’s parents were well-educated professionals who raised the family in an affluent area of São Paulo, and Kaká attended São Paulo FC’s soccer academy. He must play with lots of flashy dribbling and Brazilian flair? While his fundamental ball skills are extraordinary, Kaká ’s style is strong, yet elegant and efficient. “He will always try to go vertically rather than horizontally,” AC Milan coach Carlo Ancelotti told The Observer, a British newspaper based in London. “He will never take the extra, unnecessary touch.” But what about off the field—another carousing playboy like so many international stars? Hardly. Kaká and his wife, Caroline, famously married as virgins in 2005 and have talked about it openly in the press. “It was one of the greatest challenges in my life because we made a choice which wasn’t easy,” Kaká says. “We spent a lot of time praying and walking closely with Jesus and the Holy Spirit. It was a great challenge, but it was really good to have waited. Sex is a great blessing from God for the pleasure of both husband and wife after marriage, and it is not the trivial or casual thing it has become nowadays.” W E B S I T E : w w w. S p o r t s S p e c t r u m . c o m

Surely he’s self-centered and materialistic? Kaká’s generous giving to his home church in Brazil is widely known. He has also served as a United Nations Ambassador Against Hunger and hopes to be a pastor after he retires from soccer. “Kaká never changed,” says Marcelo Saragosa, his best friend since childhood and a professional soccer player. “He is always the simple person as when I met him 10 or 12 years ago.” Most media have shown respect for Kaká’s faith and praised his sportsmanship. His consistency and graciousness matched with his stellar play make it difficult to do otherwise. Yet when some have suggested that his lifestyle is boring, Kaká has countered that it is radical to follow Christ. As Kaká continues to pursue new goals, he leaves little doubt that he is all about Jesus. “Today, I have my ministry through sports, but I play because I have a God-given gift,” he says. “I play because He has perfected the gift He gave me in my life. Jesus said ‘without me, you can do nothing’ and I believe this.”

Jeremy V. Jones’ biography of Kaká, Toward the Goal: The Kaká Story, was released this spring by Zonderkidz.

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Uthenmasking World

THROUGH HIGHS AND LOWS, COLOMBIAN SOCCER STAR RADAMEL FALCAO HAS REMAINED CONSTANT IN HIS FAITH BY STEPHEN COPELAND

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t’s been a wild year for Colombian soccer star Radamel Falcao. Falcao, considered one of the top strikers in the world, was acquired by Monaco in May of 2013 in a transfer deal from Atletico Madrid worth $80 million. That’s right, $80 million. Then, things got more exciting. Three months after his contract, Falcao and his wife, Argentinean singer Lorelei Taron, had their first child, Dominique Garcia Taron. New contract. New kid. Not a bad year for the 28-year-old Falcao who has become a symbol of the Columbian national team. Falcao—known as “El Tigre” or the “Tiger”—has everything in the world’s eyes. Soccer enthusiasts gush over his footskills and ability to finish offensively. Admirers and marketers love his look—his friendly face and long, black recognizable hair. Teams appreciate his stellar off-the-field reputation; he’s a family man, devout Christian, and a leader for Champions for Christ. Professionally. Financially. Personally. He seems to have it all. On January 22, however, while playing for Monaco in the French Cup, Falcao’s knee buckled under a reckless challenge, resulting in surgery on his ACL three days later. In an instant, his national dreams for Columbia came crashing down. The World Cup only comes around every four years, and his injury couldn’t have come at a worse time on the national scale. However, the thing that has kept him steady in the highs is also the thing

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breathing life into him in the lows. “I feel blessed to play upfront and score goals,” Falcao says. “It is the maximum expression of the game and a special moment for players and fans alike. But with the recognition and responsibility to score comes a lot of pressure. I lean on God through that pressure, knowing He is always there to help me. My faith in Him has helped me maintain my composure and stay firm in my convictions throughout my career—and throughout my life.” Falcao first came onto the scene when he was 13 years old playing for Lanceros Boyaca in Columbia, and he has continued to awe those who have watched his play on the pitch ever since. His name exploded when he played for Atletico Madrid from 2011-2013, a period when he scored more than 100 goals. In 2012, The Guardian ranked Falcao as sixth in its list of the 100 best footballers in the world, and well-known manager Fabio Capello considers Falcao on the same level as international superstars Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo. But what makes Falcao especially unique is his worldview in light of his immense popularity and incomprehensible wealth, his ability to stay firm in his convictions despite seemingly having the world at his fingertips. “Some say that having football, recognition, and money is all you need to be satisfied,” Falcao reflects. “But a lot of people feel empty and have a void in their heart 60

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“Some say that having football, recognition, and money is all you need to be satisfied. I believe that only God can satisfy our spiritual need...” despite their fame and possessions. I believe that only God can satisfy our spiritual need. Jesus Christ gave His life to satisfy that need. With Him, we can be assured that He will never leave us. I know this personally because I have repeatedly experienced His faithfulness and love in my own life.” It’s one thing for someone who has not experienced anything this world values to say the world is pointless, but it’s another for someone who has reached the pinnacle of this world to say it’s empty at the top. It’s also one thing for someone without money to say wealth is empty; but it’s another for someone who has experienced wealth in its fullest to debunk its myths. Falcao’s unique experience with this world, combined with his view of that experience, allows people to see the world for what it really is. As theologian Henri Philippe Merle / Getty Images

Nouwen once said in his book Life of the Beloved, “you have to keep unmasking the world about you for what it is: manipulative, controlling, power-hungry, and, in the long run, destructive.” It was St. Augustine who once said, “We were made for You, O Lord, and our hearts are restless until they rest in you.” Some have called it a “God-shaped hole” in our hearts that will forever exist no matter how impressive our résumés read or how many digits make up our savings accounts. Falcao’s faith is what he clung to at the top and it’s what keeps him depending on God in lows, allowing him to unmask the world for what it is. “King Solomon of the Old Testament made it his quest to learn the meaning of life,” Falcao says. “God blessed him with power, riches, wisdom, and success, and Solomon experienced each of these to their fullest. But even after enjoying a full earthly life, Solomon saw that it all meant nothing without a relationship with God. He said in Ecclesiastes 12:13, ‘When all has been heard, the conclusion of the matter is: fear God and keep His commands, because this is for all humanity.’ Jesus Christ is my priority, and it is my desire that others would see His love and power at work in my life.” Stephen Copeland is a staff writer and columnist at Sports Spectrum. TO SUBSCRIBE TO SPORTS SPECTRUM: CALL 1-866-821-2971


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Unconditional Acceptance Despite being cut from his club in his native Brazil, German soccer star Cacau found that his unconventional path to the top helped him see God’s love Stephen Copeland

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sually, performance leads to love. If you perform well in school, your teacher may tell you, “Nice job.” If you perform well in your career, your boss might give you a raise. If you perform well in athletics, your coach may give you more playing time. The problem is that sometimes this performance-driven mindset influences our spiritual lives as well. We think there is something we must do to earn God’s love. We think there is something we must change before we approach God’s throne. It’s a common mindset and even an understandable way of thinking, because this is how much of the world works. And yet, when it comes to our communion with God, a performance-driven mindset has the potential of thrusting us into a monotonous cycle of constantly beating ourselves up and never being good enough. If salvation is rooted in performance, then where is there any room for grace? For German football striker Claudemir Jeronimo Barreto, most commonly known as Cacau, this mental and spiritual struggle with performance couldn’t have been more relevant in his life. “I used to think I had to perform to earn God’s love,” Cacau says. “Now, I understand that

the absolute opposite is the case, and He accepts me just as I am.” Just as I am. Four rather life-changing words, if you think about it. “When I was 16, it seemed that my hopes of becoming a footballer might have been over when the Palmeiras Club in Brazil did not want me anymore,” Cacau says. “The disappointment caused me to think about bigger questions, and it was then that I realized God was everything I was looking for. I had always believed in God, but did not have a relationship with Him. I knew I needed His love and forgiveness and decided to live for Him.” It was in the wake of rejection for his performance that Cacau’s heart, mind, and soul were opened to the spiritual realm—where God loved him exactly for who he was, not for how he should be. It was God’s revelation of whose he was that ultimately helped him change who he was. “It was such a relief to understand that He loves and accepts me for who I am,” Cacau says. “I don’t have to prove myself because He has done everything for me and created me for a purpose. It is not what I do that matters, but what He does through me.” After being cut from Palmeiras, Cacau’s rise to the professional ranks was extremely unconventional. He left his homeland of Brazil and went to 63


“I used to think I had to perform to earn God’s love, now I understand that the absolute opposite is the case, and He accepts me just as I am.” 64

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conditional determination to win and also to get stuck into challenges. On the other hand faith is helpful to me in terms of coping with the pressure to perform every time. It gives me the certainty that I’m loved even when we lose or I play badly.” The grace shown to him by a God who loved him just as he was, was what ultimately changed him and freed his mind. There was nothing he could do in the realm of soccer to make God love him more or make God love him less. Just as I am. “I have had so many positive experiences and played with great players,” he says. “Of course, disappointments are hard to accept because it feels good to be successful and win. But to have God as my foundation of strength and to know that He accepts me at all times is where I find peace.” Stephen Copeland is a staff writer and columnist at Sports Spectrum.

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Germany. To make a living, Cacau worked on the support staff of a touring dance troupe. He eventually received his first playing contract from a fifth-tier German club in Munich. The league took note of his skills, and he was called up to the first-tiered Bundesliga where he played for FC Nuremberg for two seasons. His career began to pick up steam. He was picked up by VfB Stuttgart, and he immediately became one of the squad’s primary goal scorers. He scored a career-high 13 goals in 2007, helping VfB take the Bundesliga title in one of the world’s most competitive leagues. Though he was never called up to play for the Brazilian national team, he became eligible to play for the German national team in 2009. He scored six international goals between 2010 and 2012, including one goal in their 4-0 victory against Australia in the 2010 FIFA World Cup. Throughout his entire ride, awakening to the reality that He is loved by God has helped provide consistency for his life in such a performance-driven, results-focused, pressure-filled sport like soccer. “I struggled with it (combining faith with the demands of elite sport) at the start of my career, but it was always clear to me that I neither could nor wanted to separate my faith and elite sport from each other,” Cacau told FIFA.com in December. “As a professional footballer the priority is always to perform. It’s vital you succeed and help your team. An important part of that is an un-


rowing up playing in the streets of Gioia del Colle, Italy, Nicola Legrottaglie had one dream: To play soccer and play at the highest level. “I really didn’t dream of being anything else,” says Legrottaglie. “I started playing in my hometown, a small town in Apulia, in southern Italy. Kids thought about football because there were no other career choices, there were no other areas to dream about making it big. After all, we all played football in the streets, so it was the only thing I ever dreamed about as a child. There were never other dreams.” For Legrottaglie, though, playing soccer is more than winning titles or receiving praise from passionate fans. “For me, it’s another way of proclaiming Jesus’s name,” he says. “Everything I do, everything anyone does, who is a Christian, must be done to proclaim the name of Jesus, to give Him glory. Not for personal boasting, but for Him.” Legrottaglie’s passion for the sport and for God was evident at age 13 when he made a promise to God, similar to the promise that Hannah made to God in I Samuel 1:11, when she vowed if God would give her a son that she would give him back to the Lord. “When I was 13, I did make a promise to God, that if He gave me the opportunity to become a footballer, I would become a missionary for Him,” Legrottaglie says. “This is…the classic request that a small child, in his innocence, makes to God. And I did it, and God had mercy and grace on me in every step of my life, where He made this dream come true.” “So today I find myself keeping that promise that I made to God, to become a missionary in the world where He sends me. I guess this could be thought of as my other dream; it started with wanting to be a footballer, and today my other dream is to take the name of Jesus all over the world, wherever He sends me.” 66

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T hr o u gh good and b ad tim e s , J e s us g ave I taly’ s N i co la Legrottaglie a p e ac e th at ‘ n o on e e ls e h as e v e r given me’ BY B r e tt Ho n e y c utt

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Nicola Legrottaglie (left) of Catania competes in a match between Calcio Catania and US Citta di Palermo at Stadio Angelo Massimino in Catania, Italy.

Playing all over the world for top clubs has allowed him to understand and deal with the pressures of playing soccer at such a high level. “In our life we have to accept everything that happens; there is life, there is death there is winning and losing. I think that the thing faith helps with most in the lives of people who have it is that it does not eliminate the problems, but helps to overcome them,” Legrottaglie says. “This is the real meaning of faith. So how do I deal with them? I deal with them with the peace and the calm that only faith, only Jesus can give me.” “So today I am not blocked by what is happening, what goes on in my life. If I were influenced, I would be like the waves in the sea, or like it says in the Bible, the house built on sand which is washed away when the wind arrives. So who is the rock? The rock is faith in Jesus. Jesus holds you still, in the good times and in the bad. So I am able to deal with it, by the grace of God, in this way, which makes

me really peaceful. Jesus gives me this peace, the peace no one else has ever given me.” That peace comes from his relationship with Christ, which is cultivated and nourished through Legrottaglie’s love for the Scriptures. “The Bible allows me to know God. The only instrument I have in this life … other than the people who can help me, but the only instrument that I can read, where I can match up lots of truths, that God has given me, is the Bible,” he says. “In that book, I can understand what God wants, who God is, what God is like, His character, His characteristics, and so I use this book as a mirror.” “This book, written at the beginning, or nearly, of man’s existence, is still actual today. I don’t see any other books written 3,000 years ago which are still modern and true…So we simply have to deepen our knowledge of this book and surely we will see our life changing.”

“Everything I do, everything anyone does, who is a Christian, must be done to proclaim the name of Jesus, to give Him glory. Not for personal boasting, but for Him.”

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Brett Honeycutt is the managing editor of Sports Spectrum magazine Dino Panato/ Getty Images


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BREATH OF

LIFE

RUSSIA’S ALEXANDER SAMEDOV STRUGGLED WITH QUESTIONS ABOUT HIS LIFE AND HIS CAREER, UNTIL HE FOUND SOMETHING THAT GAVE HIM THE ANSWERS HE HAD BEEN SEARCHING FOR ALL ALONG BY BRETT HONEYCUTT

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rowing up in a family split in their religious beliefs, Alexander Samedov decided he would live his life in his own way and on his own terms. Until trouble came and he was left searching for answers. Samedov, who has represented Russia internationally on the U-21 and senior soccer national teams and has also played on several top Russian club teams, started having trouble in his soccer career and in his life. That’s when the questions started, first in his mind and then verbally. “My father is a Muslim. He’s Azerbaijani. My mom is (Russian) Orthodox; she’s (ethnically) Russian. Going back to the very beginning, I grew up between two camps, so to speak,” Samedov shared in a television interview. “My father always told me that I

was a Muslim. My mom didn’t agree with that. I didn’t really go in either direction. I lived my life in my own way. But a time came when I began to have problems in my career, in my life. I had already reached the age to be thinking about those things. And then I met my current wife, Yulia. She was a believer; she went to church. Seeing my problems, she simply said to me, ‘Sasha, such and such...’ I came to church once, twice, and I understood. My life began to change.” Though Samedov admitted that “reading wasn’t the most important thing” for him growing up because he went to sports school and he “paid more attention to sports” than academics, he has loved reading the Bible since becoming a Christian. BELOW: Alexander Samedov (right) of Russia competes in a Russian Premier League match between FC Lokomotiv Moscow and FC Spartak Moscow at Lokomotiv Stadium in Moscow, Russia.


he made a jump to a bigger club, Dynamo Moscow, for three seasons while also making his first senior national team appearance in October of 2011 in a victory against Slovakia during a Euro 2012 qualifier match. That success landed him back at Lokomotiv the following season when he began excelling even more and became a regular starter and a fan favorite. The questions he had about life had been answered, and the way he handled success and failure had now changed. He looked to God, who spoke to him and guided him as Samedov read the Bible. God has used Samedov’s wife to show him the right path. “It worked out that way,” he says. Through her, I made it.” Brett Honeycutt is the managing editor of Sports Spectrum magazine.

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Though Samedov admitted not reading much while growing up, he has loved reading the Bible since becoming a Christian. “I didn’t read much at all. I hardly had any free time,” Samedov says. “Because I went to a sports school, it didn’t really work out for me to combine academics and sports. I paid more attention to sports, and reading wasn’t the most important thing for me.” But reading the Bible has been different. A welcome change from the arduous reading of lifeless words from the pages of a school textbook or any book for that matter. “I don’t look at reading the Bible like reading other books, because the Bible is something spiritual; it’s about faith,” he says. “The Bible teaches us. It provides direction for our lives.” Part of that direction has guided him in his career. Samedov debuted with Spartak Moscow when he was 16 years old. Five years later he moved to Lokomotiv Moscow for four years before joining FC Moscow for two seasons. After succeeding there,

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A Gracious

Peace Spain’s Marcos Senna realizes that Christ, not life’s circumstances, provides joy and peace BY BRETT HONEYCUTT

ith four knee injuries in his career, it would be understandable if Marcos Senna was burned out, discouraged or disappointed with soccer. But it’s quite the opposite for the Spanish soccer star. “I have had four knee injuries, but with God’s help, I think I have coped with them well, and even experienced joy in the midst of them,” he shares. “I don’t know of another player with similar injuries who has been able to continue playing at the same level as I have. I give thanks, honor, and glory to God for the strength He has given me.” “I am at peace. I know God has a purpose in our lives. If I am injured, it is for a reason that I am injured and I understand that I will get better in time. I understand that God…will keep looking after me. And for that reason I am very calm.” Senna, who was born into poverty in Brazil and began playing soccer in the streets at age 6, became a Spanish citizen in 2006 after Luis Aragonés, Senna’s Villarreal CF coach, asked him to play for the Spanish national team. “I was not going to give up my nationality by birth—Brazilian,” says Senna. “At that time, I thought it was the best move and a privilege to have dual nationality and the opportunity to play for Spain, one of the best teams in the world. The truth is that it has changed my life. It has been extraordinary.” 74

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Senna, who played in two World Cups, helped Spain win the 2008 Euro Cup, beating Germany 1-0 for its first Euro title since 1964. Several publications named Senna player of the tournament after he helped Spain become the first team to go unbeaten in the Euro Cup since Germany in 1996. From November 2006 until June 2009, he also helped Spain win or tie 35 consecutive matches, tying the mark held by Brazil, and helped Spain win a record 15 straight games during that span while also helping Spain to No. 1 in the World Rankings for the first time in the nation’s history. The streak ended in the Confederations Cup semifinal with a 2-0 upset loss to the United States. “Winning the European Championship in 2008 was a highlight of my career and a wonderful celebration,” he says. “We eventually won on penalties. I knew that I would be one of the penalty-takers. We practiced penalties the day before, but on game-day we had played 90 minutes plus 30 minutes in extra time. I was exhausted and had cramps everywhere. Yet, when the time came, I was calm and felt God’s Spirit come on me, giving me peace and clarity. With His help, I was able to shoot confidently, score, and help Spain to victory. I knew God was in charge and had a plan for me to honor Him with this accomplishment. “On the day of the final, I was completely focused on the match. It was a great day, especially with all of Spain sharing in the celebration. When we won, it was a time of great joy for all the players. Our lives will never be the same because of being part of winning the Championship. More importantly, my life has never been the same because of my relationship with Jesus.” That relationship with Jesus began during a short stint with São Caetano in Brazil in 2002, and it has made all the difference in his life. “They invited me to a meeting and I went,” Senna recalls. “At that stage I did not know much about the Bible. I had been to church with my mother, but as I grew up I stopped going for some reason. I was not baptized or anything, but I knew some things from my mother and grandmother…I was 25 years old—nearly 26—and

“Now I am truly at peace because I am certain God has a purpose for my life. If I am injured, it is for a reason. God is looking after me, and because of that, I am able to be calm and confident, and experience great joy.” SPORTS SPECTRUM

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Joe Klamar / Getty Images Emmanuel Dunand/AFP/Getty Images

TOP: Marcos Senna (left) celebrates with teammates after winning the Euro 2008 championships final against Germany. BOTTOM: Soccer legend Pelé (left) and Marcos Senna.

they invited me to the meeting. I liked it and I kept on going. Then eight months after I became a Christian, Villarreal signed me and I joined a church in Villarreal where I was baptized.” Senna said that fame, money and other material things aren’t enough to satisfy anyone. “If you are worried about anything, I do not think that money is the answer,” Senna says. “But God’s Spirit is above all things. God can give you happiness, peace and joy. Just talking about it makes me smile. This has made me very happy and changed my life in every way. It is 76

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the best decision that anyone can make in their lives.” “Now I am truly at peace because I am certain God has a purpose for my life. If I am injured, it is for a reason. God is looking after me, and because of that, I am able to be calm and confident, and experience great joy.” Brett Honeycutt is the managing editor of Sports Spectrum magazine.

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Finding Strength in the Despite past tragedies, Clint Dempsey grew closer to God instead of further away BY BRETT HONEYCUTT 78

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lint Dempsey was in kindergarten when he discovered that he loved soccer. The exhilaration of scoring goals was exactly what he needed to deepen his love for a game that has taken him all over the world and allowed him to play at soccer’s highest level in Europe and in the United States. “My parents had started me in the sport to help me learn good people skills,” Dempsey says. “Little did I know that the sport I loved and the skills I learned would later play a role in my relationship with God.” Dempsey was 21 when he turned pro in 2004, the same year that he made his first U.S. national team and also earned Major League Soccer’s Rookie of the Year. One year later he was hoisting the first of two straight MLS championship trophies for the New England Revolution. Since then he has played in England for Fulham and Tottenham Hotspur, helped the U.S.

win the CONCACAF Gold Cup, represented the U.S. in World Cup play and been named U.S. Soccer Athlete of the Year multiple times. Though soccer has been a huge part of shaping Dempsey’s life, a tragedy when he was 12 years old changed his life forever. “I grew up in a Catholic family and would go to church with my grandmother every Sunday. Through her, I learned that faith was important,” Dempsey says. “When I was 12 years old, my life took a turn that would change me forever. My sister (Jennifer) died (from a brain aneurysm) and I was faced with questions about why things happen and what role God played in it all. For a number of years, I struggled and put distance between God and me. But He was faithful and patient and provided gradual healing and strength.” Though he knew about God, he wasn’t actively pursuing God. However, a team Bible study in college at Furman University in Greenville, S.C., helped him learn about God more and understand what an active faith really meant. “In college, I joined a team Bible study. God’s Word brought me peace and a desire for a relationship with Him,” Dempsey says. “I found that questioning Him and searching for answers through Scripture helped me grow and gave me direction. Now my faith in Christ is what gives me confidence for the future. I know that through both good times and bad, He is faithful and will watch over me.” He looks back on his college days and thanks God that he was a part of the Bible study, but he also looks back on that time and is thankful for something else—life. One day, two of his teammates, Greg Griffin and Chefik Simo, asked him to go to a concert with them. Because he didn’t have much money, Dempsey told them he couldn’t go. His lack of finances saved his life. On the way to the concert, the car that Griffin and Simo were driving was in a wreck and had flipped over. An 18-wheeler hit the car and killed Griffin. Simo was injured to the point where he never played again. Despite past tragedies in Dempsey’s life, it hasn’t made him pray for safety more often. It has deepened his perspective of life—that we don’t know when we’ll be gone and that we don’t have much time to make an impact in people’s lives—and also deepened his desire to please God. “Today, I pray for strength to walk the road before me,” he says. “I play to the best of my abilities and am thankful for the many opportunities and amazing success He has given me. Through it all, I want to do right, not make mistakes, and live a life that is pleasing to Him.” He does that by reading the Bible, which has given him insight and direction. “God provides strength, even when circumstances seem impossible,” he says. “In Genesis, God promised Abraham that he would be the father of many generations, but for years his wife, Sarah, was unable to bear children. Even as he approached one hundred years old, Abraham ‘did not waver in unbelief at God’s promise but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God’ (Romans 4:20). Abraham’s faith was rewarded when God honored His promise and Sarah, at age 90, gave birth to their son, Isaac.”

“For a number of years, I struggled and put distance between God and me. But He was faithful and patient and provided gradual healing and strength.”

Brett Honeycutt is the managing editor of Sports Spectrum magazine.

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WHEN SOCCER BECOMES AN AVENUE Japan’s Jun Marques Davidson began selfishly chasing fame, but he found out that his purpose in life was far greater Stephen Copeland Derek Leung/Getty Images

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Jun Marques Davidson made his professional debut with Omiya Ardija in 2002. Davidson remained with Omiya Ardija until 2006.

o Japanese footballer Jun Marques Davidson, religion always seemed like far too complicated of a thing. The rules. The regulations. The structure. Raised in Tokyo, Japan—a country where only 1 percent of its citizens are considered to be practicing Christians—Davidson was like much of the population. He had little interest in Christianity, even though his mother was a Christian. Instead, he had his sights set on one thing: soccer. There were signs that he could be something special early in life, and at 15 years old he left Japan to play soccer at an international school in England. Success, money, and fame became his primary drive in life. Attaining superstar status in the soccer sphere became his goal. But it was in England, while he was alone in a foreign country, barely able to communicate, hardly knowing anyone, that he realized there may be more to life than soccer. “It was tough to be alone in a foreign country,” Davidson said. “But it was there that I began to understand my need for God. I started attending church on my own and learned more about what it meant to be a Christian. I committed my life to Him and found a peace and confidence I had not felt before. My purpose for going to England had been for soccer, but His purpose was to shape me for my future.” After England, Davidson and his family moved to California to be together while he played soccer in high school. He was surrounded by other strong Christians on the team, as if God was bringing him to maturation after the revival he had in England. “Again God was shaping me by providing Christian fellowship and encouragement,” Davidson says. Following high school, Davidson moved back to Japan to play professional soccer. His homecoming was like a clash of two worlds. When he left Japan four years prior, his heart and mind were in a completely different state. He was selfishly driven, determined to make a splash on the soccer scene to attain both money and fame. When he returned four years later, he was becoming more of a selfless person, and he wanted to use soccer as an avenue to impact others for the Gospel in a country that had hardly heard of Jesus Christ. “I think God created me as a soccer player to do something greater, to serve God,” Davidson told Risen Magazine. “There are not many Christians in Japan, so it is very hard to follow and study and have the solid faith in Christ. “I believe God took me to England and to California to put me in a situation and environment where I saw a lot of Christians and people with great faith. And so that helped me inside as a person to grow and learn more about God.” His return to Japan made him realize how much he had changed, how much work God had done in him, and how much God wanted to do something through him to impact others. “Since giving my life to God, my perspective had changed,” Davidson says. “I began to think about how I could use my role to share the gospel. God was showing me that my career was less about me and all about Him.” Since moving back to Japan, the defensive-minded midfielder’s performance has been steady. He spent his first three seasons in the second division of Japan’s J. League Etsuo Hara/Getty Images


and helped his team earn a promotion to Japan’s first division in 2004. His next six seasons were spent in J. League Division I and followed by two seasons in lower divisions including a stint with the Carolina RailHawks in the States. He spent all of 2012 and 2013 playing for the Vancouver Whitecaps in Major League Soccer. He was awarded the Whitecaps FC’s “Jock MacDonald Unsung Hero Award” in 2012 for his consistent presence on the pitch. “Serving God through sport is important to me,” Davidson says. “I try to share the Gospel, serve others, and be an example. It’s not always easy when the competition gets tough, but even then I seek forgiveness and pray God will use me. My career is in His hands and I seek to follow Him wherever that may lead me, even if and when it doesn’t involve soccer—for my purpose is to serve Him.” W E B S I T E : w w w. S p o r t s S p e c t r u m . c o m

In the offseason, Davidson does missionary work through a sports ministry group called Ambassadors in Sport, and at 31 years old, his heart and mind are in a much different place than they were 15 years ago. His life is no longer his own; it belongs to God. Soccer is no longer his own; it also belongs to God. And his surrender to a much better Author of his story has led to both purpose and peace. Joseph of the Old Testament was a normal kid who God shaped into a great man,” Davidson says. “Even when his brothers sold him into slavery and his future looked grave, Joseph sought to live for his God. Then, when he was blessed with great power and influence, he used his role to help others and do God’s work.”

Jun Marques Davidson of the Vancouver Whitecaps plays against the Montreal Impact in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada for the Amway Canadian Championship.

Stephen Copeland is a staff writer and columnist at Sports Spectrum. SPORTS SPECTRUM

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Preacher

In Cleats here is an hour-long video online titled “The Integrity of the Christian Faith Pt. 1,” featuring pastor Ebo Taylor and Cameroonian soccer midfielder Eyong Enoh. The video is produced by an organization called “Sons of God Intercessory Ministries (ICWC) Europe,” and as of March 10, 2014, the video only had 64 views. The video is nothing fancy. The animations, in fact, by American standards, seem rather corny. A ticker reading the same sentence slowly slides across the screen the duration of the hour, and the backdrop looks like they are sitting inside an animated space shuttle. Oddly, it looks like it could be Emperor Zurg’s lair on Pixar’s Toy Story. And yet, it is one of the deepest, scriptural videos you’ll find on the Internet featuring any international superstar like Enoh, the vice-captain of the Cameroon national team who has played in some of the world’s top leagues in both England and the Netherlands. “To be alive is our calling to purpose,” says Enoh at the start of the video. “To be alive is our calling to divine destiny. Otherwise…at the time you get saved you would be immediately taken to heaven. But it’s not like that. There is a reason God allows us to be here. Because we were sent on an assignment. We were sent with a divine destiny to fulfill.” It’s quite refreshing, actually, to watch something without all of the emotional gadgets used on us to stir our hearts—the videography, editing, music, dramatic pauses, etc., that have become all too predictable and almost mundane in today’s society. Instead, it’s a raw conversation. The only emotional thing in the video is the people, pastor Ebo Taylor and Eyong Enoh. They Quinn Rooney - FIFA/Getty Images

Tullio M. Puglia/Getty Images

Ca m er o o nian v i c e - c ap tain Eyo ng Eno h live s o u t h is pas s i o n e ac h day, a pa ss io n that e as ily s u p e rc ed es t he w o r l d’ s g r e at e s t s p o r t BY Stephen Copeland

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dive into Isaiah, II Timothy, the Gospels, and yes, even Revelation. They read from the Bible on the edge of their seats (and you can tell because their chairs keep squeaking). Enoh seems much more like an evangelist than a soccer player, preaching at

“To be alive is our calling to divine destiny... There is a reason God allows us to be here. Because we were sent on an assignment. We were sent with a divine destiny to fulfill.” 88

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times with the word-frequency of an auctioneer, always quoting Scripture, continually speaking of the Holy Spirit. “I remember praying one day and hearing the Lord say, ‘When you come before me on the day of judgment, I am not going to ask you how many games you played or how many goals you scored,’” said Enoh in an earlier interview. “’I am not going to ask how many trophies you won or how many people supported you. I will simply ask: What did you do for My Kingdom? Did the world see Me living in you? And, did you share the Gospel message that I came to die for the world?’ The Lord’s words really dawned on me. It is important to discover the reason we are alive, to function in it, and to make a difference with it. “In Acts 17, Paul displayed great boldness while visiting the city of Athens. His life had already been threatened and he had been chased out of several other cities for preaching the Gospel, yet that did not stop him. In Athens, a city full of idols, he bravely called for repentance and spoke about Jesus openly. Because of Paul’s faithfulness and bold spir-

it, men’s and women’s hearts were changed and the Good News continued to spread.” Ironically, the video is all about returning to the integrity of the Christian faith, and there is an overarching feeling that—despite the lack

of editing technology and camera angles, despite the uncontrollable squeaks from their chairs and beeps from one of their wristwatches—this is exactly the way the Christian faith is supposed to be. Based on the Word and His Spirit. As simple, yet complex, as that. “Once I encountered the message of Jesus and gave my heart to Him, I knew I had found what I was looking for because I felt peace in my heart—peace that cannot be traded for anything,” Enoh said. “I clearly remember realizing two very special things: there is a reason I am alive and not just another body in the world, and I am unique with a specific purpose that God has already designed. “Jesus said to the disciples, “I am with you always, to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:20). I have learned that my relationship with God is never-ending, and I am constantly aware of His presence wherever I am—even when playing football. I worship Him everywhere and in everything I do, including my effort on the pitch. “I have also realized the main purpose of life is to talk about Je-


sus. God had given me talents and the ability to play football—a great platform to share Jesus. Through football I can reach people who look up to me in my country and people I meet through my career. It has become the pathway through which the Lord can use me.” Stephen Copeland is a staff writer and columnist at Sports Spectrum.

Thomas Coex/Getty Images

“I have also realized the main purpose of life is to talk about Jesus. God had given me talents and the ability to play football—a great platform to share Jesus.”

Cameroon’s striker Samuel Eto’o (right) celebrates with midfielder Eyong Enoh after scoring against Denmark during the 2010 World Cup.

scan here,

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Spring 2014 DigiMag