What No High School Football Coach Will Say This Friday

If you are a high school football fan then you know that we are in that special part of the season in which there are only a handful of teams left competing for a state championship. The stakes are high as with each game there is a chance to advance. One team goes on. One team goes home. 

For the past 4 seasons, I have served the Christian Heritage Lions football team as a chaplain. I have watched our team go from 1-9 to now 9-1. It has been an exciting journey. But perhaps my favorite part is getting to be with the team in the locker room during pre-game and at halftime to hear the coach speeches.

I’ve heard a lot of things said in the locker room. But this week, I assure you, there will be some things you won’t hear said. I would go so far as to say, these things will never (or should never) be said by a high school football coach to his players. 

“Assume we will be given another opportunity.”

There is not a single high school coach who will this week tell his team that if they lose, it won’t matter. No coach of a playoff team is telling his players, “Don’t worry about it, they’ll give us another chance.”

There is no loser’s bracket in football. The other team is not going to feel sorry for you and give you another shot. There are no redos. There are no makeups. Your math teacher may give you extra credit, but the only thing “extra” in football comes after a touchdown, not a loss. In football even “extra” is earned. Once the clock hits zero the game is over. What’s done is done. If you lose, you go home. You get 1 shot. It is especially true this week; there is not a football coach on the planet that is telling his team that this game doesn’t matter.

“It’s about me, not we.”

There will be no locker room speeches about the importance of being an individual. There is not a coach who will suddenly decide that there really ought to be an “I” in “TEAM.” There is not a coach who will embrace his QB or star RB and look at the other players and say, “Hey fellas, it’s about this guy right here!”

There are no coaches who will counsel their players to scrap the playbook and just have fun. No coach will look at a 17-year-old and say, “I don’t know son, it’s 3rd and 1 and we are down by 6; just do what you feel like doing.” There is not a coach of a playoff football team that will tell his QB to look up in the stands and check with his dad for the next play call. No coach is going to pull his RB aside and say, “You know son, you’re so good, we really don’t even need an offensive line.”

Pulse by Brian Branam

My book Pulse originated from chapel talks given during the 2016 CHS Lions football season. Also available on Amazon.

“We don’t need anyone pushing through pain.”

If you are in the stands watching a playoff football game, you should appreciate the fact that just about every kid on that field is hurt. They may not be injured, but I guarantee you something on their body hurts. And if you don’t know the difference in hurt and injured, don’t Google or check WebMD, ask a high school football coach to explain the difference. He’d love to share with you some insight :)! All I ask is that you have someone video you asking him because what’s about to happen to you will be YouTube gold!

There will be no coaches, especially this week, asking which of his players “isn’t feeling it?” He won’t be asking, who needs a break? He won’t ask, “Who’s too tired to play tonight?” He’s not passing around a signup sheet for waterboy. There is not a single football coach that will draw the line at suffering.

When it comes to football, especially playoff football, those statements are ludicrous. Why? Because entitlement, self-centeredness, and an unwillingness to suffer are the key ingredients to a wasted opportunity. There is no player on a playoff team that has to be motivated about not wasting his opportunity. Every player knows the magnitude of this game. He knows what it takes. He knows he’s not entitled and that he will not be given another chance. He knows that it has to be a team effort and he’s counting on every other player to give it his all. Every player knows that he has to play through pain. If there was any semblance of these things in players at the beginning of the season, I assure you, for the elite teams that are still in it, those toxic attitudes are long gone.

Why do you have to be convinced not to waste your life?

If football players in the playoffs don’t have to be reminded not to waste the opportunity of “this” game, how much less should we have to be reminded not to waste our lives? But sadly, there will be so much more focus and discipline as players approach a playoff game than there will be to the rest of your life. As ludicrous as it is to think that a coach has to motivate his players not to waste an opportunity for a playoff game, isn’t it even more ludicrous for us to have to be convinced not to waste our lives? So just in case you didn’t get it – here’s a locker room speech for the rest of your life!

You’re one and done!

And just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment, so Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him.

Hebrews 9:27-28

There is no team that makes the playoffs that wants it to be a “one and done” experience. If they haven’t already, playoff games are where you truly see players leave it all on the field.

But have we forgotten that our lives truly are a “one and done” experience? There are no redos. There are no retakes. We will not be given another one. Death seals our decisions. A life filled with fleeting pleasure but void of faith in Christ is a total waste. Eternal life does not come through entitlement but through repentance and faith in Jesus Christ.

Your life matters, not your car. Your decisions matter, not dollars. In this life you need food and water, to have eternal life you need grace and forgiveness. In this life, people admire the words “I won a championship.” In eternity all that matters are the words “He made a difference.” When you’re one and done experience is over, where will you stand? You may be a great athlete, a good dad, a successful person, a talented individual; but if you don’t know Jesus you wasted your life.

Jesus explained it like this. “What does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses his own soul (Mark 8:36)?” Don’t waste your one and done life.

Carry out the commands. This is not your turn to call a play.

Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do what I tell you? Everyone who comes to me and hears my words and does them, I will show you what he is like: he is like a man building a house, who dug deep and laid the foundation on the rock. And when a flood arose, the stream broke against that house and could not shake it, because it had been well built. But the one who hears and does not do them is like a man who built a house on the ground without a foundation. When the stream broke against it, immediately it fell, and the ruin of that house was great.”

Luke 6:46-49

There is no coach who is going to look at his high school QB and say, “Forget the game plan, do it your way.” That would be a disaster, not a championship! But somehow we believe it to be the duty of God’s Son to be our Savior but not our Lord. Somehow we have come to believe that He gives us eternal life but then turns us loose to do the rest of it our way. If you call Jesus Savior, the rest of your life is not your opportunity to call a play.

If you don’t want to waste your life, obey Christ. His commands are not suggestions. Learning self-control is not an option. Mortifying the desires of the flesh is not for only a select few who follow Christ, it is the standard sanctifying process for His disciples. Christ is not something you “feel.” Jesus is someone you follow. The Bible is not a book merely to be read. It is God’s Word to be obeyed.

The rest of your life should be about finding out how to be a dad, in Christ. How am I to be a husband, in Christ? How do I make the next business decision, in Christ? Work the plan. Don’t waste your life.

You should expect suffering. Don’t avoid it.

More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.

Romans 5:3-5

I haven’t met a single football player who likes practice. There are always some remarkably odd exceptions out there, but I don’t hang out with aliens. So, I know plenty of players who don’t like practice, but I don’t know any football players who don’t want to make it to the playoffs. Football is a game of suffering. Athletes know that suffering is necessary if they are to achieve their goals.

I want to be very careful in how I say this, because a vast majority of those who read this post may have been “frustrated” for Christ, but I’m not sure that we have ever truly “suffered” for Him – or ever truly will.

I have sat in a church in Egypt amongst saints who have truly suffered for Jesus. I have heard a pastor preach in Samara, Russia who spent most of his life in and out of prison under communism. I have met Romanians who were ostracized as children because their family was Christian. These brothers and sisters understand the meaning of suffering for Jesus. I am in awe of Jesus in them.

But in the American church the experience is much different. Our refrigerator goes on the fritz on a Sunday morning and the entire family stays home because we think that the “devil is attacking.”

We are ridiculous in our belittling of what it really means to suffer for Jesus.

If we do not resolve to be faithful and to follow Christ no matter the cost, we will waste our lives. The reason we get upset at Chick-fil-A is because we think that by eating a “Christian” chicken sandwich that we are making a difference. We have relegated a fast food restaurant to be our bastion of truth rather than the church. It is much easier to douse nuggets in Polynesian sauce and feel good about ourselves than it is to put on the whole armor of God and stand against the wiles of the devil. It is a lot easier to order a #1 and supersize the waffle fry than it is to do what it takes to truly crash the gates of Hell. Jesus said that He would build a church, NOT a CHICK-fil-A, that will stand on the rock of Christ against the gates of Hell. Jesus said that the gates of Hell would not prevail against the church, not chicken.

So you don’t feel good enough to attend a 1 hour meeting we call a worship service this Sunday. You’re tired? Jesus told a man to let the dead bury the dead (Matthew 8:22).

So you’ve had a busy week? Jesus said that anyone having put his hand to the plow and turning back is not fit for the Kingdom of God (Luke 9:62).

Oh, you need some “family time.” Jesus said that if you’re comparative love and dedication for Him doesn’t make it look at times as if you hate your family, then you cannot be His disciple (Luke 14:26).

How is it that football players are willing to suffer so that they can make it to the playoffs, but we as the people of God can hardly make it through a Sunday? We are wasting our lives.

Only one thing matters.

The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and covered up. Then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.

Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls, who, on finding one pearl of great value, went and sold all that he had and bought it.

Matthew 13:44-46

Only Jesus matters. With the decisions in your life you are constantly assessing value. Football players do it every week of every season. They are constantly motivated by what is in front of them. They have an objective they are trying to reach. The pain of a workout is worth the playoffs. July is not too hot for November. The gassers on Monday are not even in your mind in the fourth quarter on Friday night. In football the joy that is set before them is the playoffs. And for that opportunity, they willingly, and joyfully suffer.

Your life is much bigger than a game. What is the joy that is set before you? If it isn’t Jesus, you are wasting your life. In the examples from Matthew 13 both the man and the merchant assessed the value of the treasure that was before them. There was not hesitation in giving all for something of such eternal worth. They realized that keeping what they had was a waste. They joyfully sold off all they had for something greater.

Don’t waste your life. You are “one and done.” Death seals your decisions. His commands are not options. You are either following Him or faking it. Expect to suffer. There are no valid excuses.

Not a single coach will stand before his players this Friday and try to convince them not to waste “this” game. Do you really need to be motivated not to waste your life? Don’t waste your life! Turn to Jesus!

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“All of” Giving, Not a Donation, but an Act of Devotion

“All of” giving is not a donation. It is an act of devotion. With the “all of” giver, the heart and the head converge in a different place (see previous post). This person calculates life with a different equation than everyone else.

In Mark 12 we read of an amazing scene as an unlikely widow who gives all.

And he sat down opposite the treasury and watched the people putting money into the offering box. many rich people put in large sums. And a poor widow came and put in two small copper coins, which make a penny. And he called his disciples to him and said to them, “Truly, I say to you, this poor widow has put in more than all those whoa re contributing to the offering box. For they all contributed out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty has put in everything she had, ALL SHE HAD to live on.

Mark 12:41-44

If we watch the woman give we learn the following principles about “all of” giving. “All of” giving 1) has God as its focus. 2) Gratitude is the attitude. 3) The “all of” giver understands where he gets all he’s got.

“All of Giving” – God as the Focus

In a previous post, I stated that giving is emotional before it is financial. There are many things that can hijack the emotions of giving. You either reduce your amount or decide against giving simply because it doesn’t feel right.

  • Look at this place! They don’t need my money.
  • That guy looks like he’s better off than me. Why give to him?
  • That guy needs to get a job.
  • Those people can help themselves.
  • Where does all of this money people give go?

It is easy to get emotionally hijacked in giving.

The Cheerful Giver

God understands the emotional component of giving. 2 Corinthians 9:7 says that the Lord loves a cheerful giver.

“Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, ‘not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.”

2 Corinthians 9:7

There are two words in that verse that speak of an emotionally hijacked giver. He is reluctant. He is motivated by guilt, so he gives under compulsion. Does the Lord appreciate an emotionally hijacked giver? Maybe. I would think so. Does he hate him? I would think not. But that’s not the point of the verse. The verse is a worshipful, emotional collision between a cheerful giver and a God who loves him. It is like two friends who can’t wait to get together. It is a happy, joyous moment.

If you allow 2 Corinthians 9:7 to cast light on the scene in Mark 12, it will stop our often cold, emotionless reading of Scripture. She is the cheerful giver and the Creator of the Universe is absolutely loving the conversation he is having with his disciples about her.

Jesus Would Not Hi-jack This Woman in Worship

There is NO WAY her Savior and Creator would dare to hi-jack the emotion of this moment. He dares not to stop her as she gives all though he had logical reason in our minds and plenty of opportunity.

  • Why didn’t Jesus tell her, “Woman, this place has plenty of money, your small coins will make no difference? Keep them.”
  • Why didn’t Jesus say, “Mam, this place is corrupt. Give me 2 hours and I’ll have this place turned upside down. There will be coins spilled everywhere and you can have as many as you want.”
  • Why did he not just walk up and say, “Lady, I created the universe. Keep your money.”

Why didn’t he do any of these things? A loving God would never tell a cheerful giver to go away and He would not dare to hijack her worship of Him. To understand this scene and this woman you must understand.

She was not giving to the Temple.

She was not giving to a cause.

Her offering may have been handled by a priest but it was not given to a priest.

She was giving to God.

This was not a donation. This was an act of worship.

“All of” Giving – Gratitude is the Attitude

She is giving all she has. Ironically enough the Savior who will give Himself for the sake of His disciples is across the way discussing what she just did. In the end, she has given all for Him. He will give His all for her and them. They, his disciples, will give all for Him.

“All of” giving is a proclamation of the gospel. How can we not fail to give all when we consider that:

  • The Father has given the Son for us.
  • Jesus hung as a cursed man on a tree becoming sin for you and me.
  • He bore our sins, carried our sorrows and was pierced for our transgressions. By His stripes, we are healed.
  • Jesus rose victorious over death, Hell, and the grave.
  • He has given us His Spirit.
  • Jesus will give us a new heaven and a new earth in which we will dwell with Him forever.

“All” I will ever have is so little to give to a Savior who has done so much for me.

“All of” Giving – Understands Where You Get All You’ve Got

A person who gives “all of” does so because they realize all they have was never theirs to keep. All we have is His. The Bible teaches that we are entrusted stewards. We are managers, not creators. We are servants, not sovereigns.

The value of the two coins the woman gave was not determined by the mint in Rome. The way the woman calculated the value of the coins was in her understanding of how she got them, not in who minted them. Those two coins were not her coins. Those were God’s coins. She was merely returning them.

For the “all of” giver it is not about affordability as much as it is availability.

Again, “all of” giving is not a donation. It is an act of devotion. And it is only in “all of” giving that we can truly learn how to trust a good God and the meaning of His name, The Lord Will Provide (Gen. 22:14).

What Happened to the Woman?

I wonder what happened to the woman? The Bible never says. But the Bible does say:

Do not be anxious about anything saying ‘what shall we eat’ or ‘what shall we drink’ or ‘what shall we wear.” For the Gentiles seek after these things and your heavenly Father knows you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.

Matthew 6:31-33

My God will supply all of your needs according to His riches in glory.

Philippians 4:19

The young lions suffer want and hunger; but those who seek the Lord lack no good thing.

Psalm 34:10

Only in eternity will we meet the woman and know what became of her, but I do know that according to His Word, Jesus did not let her walk away empty handed. I imagine any one of the following possibilities:

  • Jesus walks over to the woman and says, “Mam, we just had a picnic on a nearby hillside and we had a bunch left over. Andrew! Could you please bring those baskets of leftover fish and bread. Mam, you can have all you want.
  • Maybe Jesus directed her to a great place to stay outside of the city. “I know a great family we stay with quite a bit. It is a man named Lazarus and his two sisters. They are extremely hospitable. Lazarus was pretty sick recently, but he’s fine now. Why don’t we go have a meal with them?”
  • Maybe Jesus gave her an invitation. “Mam, we are going to have Passover together in a couple of weeks. I would love for you to come.”

The Bible indicates that there were several women who travelled around with the company of the disciples. I wonder if on the Day of Pentecost, this woman was part of band of disciples in Jerusalem who were the first to experience God’s outpouring of His Holy Spirit.

I can only imagine!


With such a Savior, when we ask the question of how can we afford to give all? I think the answer is how can we afford not to give all?

I think there are 3 essential questions that help us recalculate all.

  1. How did I get it? The problem with the rich, young ruler that went away sorrowful was that he had great possessions and his great possessions had him. He could not release them because they defined him. Understanding our life as a steward is an extremely worship, liberating way of life. If I never had it, it is no problem if I lose it.
  2. How can God use it? Giving all doesn’t mean that you have to go to church this Sunday and empty out your bank account. But “all of” means that it is all available. As a steward of God’s stuff, you are always looking for how God can use it. How can you leverage all you have and all you are for the sake of the gospel?
  3. How can I give it? I know some will accuse me of being partial as a pastor when I say this, but I believe in and practice storehouse tithing. I believe that the first 10% of my income is to be given to my local church as an offering to God. I’m not here to argue with you, I’m just telling you what I do and what I will continue to do. The rest of it is always on the table. All giving is not financial. There is giving that is hospitable. There is giving that is helpful. Ultimately, I am the one that has to be in the offering plate!

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Overbooking Heaven

If you do not believe in purgatory you have obviously never flown out of Atlanta! The airport code ATL should be changed to HEL as a means to better describe the experience. I digress. One of my many blessed experiences in the ATL/HEL is well documented in the post, Delta Abandoned Me.

But if you have ever flown out of HEL you understand the devilish trials of delays, gate changes, and the ole sit on the runway trick. All of these blessings occur only after you have just stood nearly pantsless in the security line behind the guy who suddenly forgot the meaning of the word “liquid.” Search him – that Dasani could explode!

One of the airline industry’s favorite stupid human tricks is overbooking. Overbooking is when some brilliant higher up mathematician at X airline decides that he will book 15 more butts than there are seats – and you’re going to love it! Overbooking means someone either gets to hang on to a wing at 537 MPH. If wing surfing is not allowed he or she will then receive the rich blessing of being left behind to stand there on standby (which should more appropriately be named standBYE as the plane pulls away from the gate).

I believe there is a sense in which we are overbooking Heaven. Much like the airline industry promises people seats that do not actually exist, many false prophets of cultural Christianity have promised people a place in Heaven that isn’t actually theirs. This “overbooking” of Heaven comes from our twisting of Scripture both in it being misunderstood by readers and misrepresented by preachers. A simple survey of key Biblical texts should clarify confusion and bring us to true repentance and faith in Jesus. So who is it that is overbooked for Heaven?

Passengers Shallow and Worldly (Matthew 13:1-23)

Ironically one of Jesus’ most misrepresented parables is one of the few that He actually took time to explain. In this parable a sower sows seed that falls on various types of soil. The seed represents the Word of God and the soil represents the heart with which a person receives the Word of God.

Those who would overbook Heaven believe that the central soils of the parable; the shallow, rocky soil and the unkept soil of thorns and weeds, represent those unfortunate cases of cultural Christians who at first favorably received the gospel, but for one reason or another they no longer serious about their faith. Those who overbook would call these Christians shallow or worldly. The problem is Jesus would not consider them Christians at all. When the “roll is called up yonder” they will not be there.

If you rightly read the parable you will see that the master is pleased only with one soil. It is the soil that receives the seed and the seed bears fruit (Matthew 13:23). No farmer in his right mind would make an investment of time and seed into a field that results in scorched rock or thorny weeds and claim that it is a success! Shallow and worldly may have had a great youth camp back in ’93 or may have really been moved at a Christian concert in 2012, but if they are not living for Jesus current day – they need to check the soil – Heaven is overbooked.

Passenger Struggle (1 Corinthians 6:9-10, Galatians 5:19-21, Revelation 21:8)

Jesus clearly calls those who would enter the Kingdom of Heaven to repent (Matthew 3:2). And while ceasing from sin is not easy and sanctification is an ongoing struggle, there is a sense within those indwelt by the Holy Spirit that sin is not right and staying in it is not satisfying.

What baffles me are those who dwell in an ongoing activity that the Bible clearly calls sin, but they excuse it as a “struggle.” But be sure, it is no struggle – IF THERE IS NO STRUGGLE AGAINST IT. Because you do it, and do it, and do it – constantly giving in to it – that is not a struggle. That is what we call lifestyle.

Swimming upstream is a struggle. Running UP a hill is a struggle. Struggle means that you are going against something, not that you are doing something! But yet there are many that foolishly convince themselves that what is off the sin list of the culture has somehow also been erased from the Bible. Read these texts – if you mindlessly repeat but do not repent – Heaven is overbooked! You are not on the list.

Passengers No Follow and No Suffer (Luke 14:25-35)

Jesus uses the word “believe” to quantify faith (John 3:16). But what does it mean to “believe?” Another word Jesus used to quantify faith was the word “follow.” As Jesus called his first disciples he did not invite them to believe in him. Instead, He invited them to “follow” Him. “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men (Mark 1:6).”

Both “follow” and “believe” are necessary words for a proper definition of saving faith. To believe in the sense of to know, or to agree, or even to approve without following is NOT saving faith. James 2:19 tells us that if we merely believe in Jesus that we have do little more than agree with demons.

In Luke 14 Jesus makes it very clear, without follow there is nothing but failure. No Follow and No Suffer are not even on standby when it comes to saving faith.

Passenger Any Way (John 14:6)

Perhaps the most offensive facet of Biblical Christianity is its exclusivity. Exclusivity does not bode well with a pluralistic culture. From college tuition, to wealth, to tolerance , to religion – postmodernism believes everyone deserves a seat on any and every flight on which they want to sit.

The problem is that the King of Heaven Himself has said He is the way, the truth, and the life. Just in case you missed the implications of this, he also adds, “No man comes to the Father, but by me.” There is no standby list for Heaven. It is NOT overbooked!

Salvation is not sincerity. It is not being nice. It is not even being loved. Salvation is surrender in repentance and faith to Jesus Christ as the King of kings and the Lord of lords. If you are under any delusion that the gates of Heaven stand wide open for everyone and anyone who wishes to enter by any other way – do not listen to yourself. Don’t even listen to a preacher. Read the Biblical text for yourself. Jesus offers great salvation for all, but it is only effective for those who come to Him in repentance and faith.

Heaven is not overbooked.

(Photo by Anugrah Lohiya from Pexels)