Author Archives: bradyhammond

About bradyhammond

I'm a basketball coach and author in the Kansas City area. I'm passionate about Jesus, my family, friends, and of course....basketball!

An Emotional Reminder

The first verse I’m going to discuss in my return to writing actually brought tears to my eyes upon reading it.  The verse was so real, so convicting, and so comforting that I had to go back and reread multiple times to let it properly sink in.  The emotion struck me hard.

As referenced in my previous piece, it had been a very long time since I had actually read the Bible and felt any sort of connection or closeness to God while doing so.  Why was this the case?  Why didn’t every time I open the Bible I feel the power of Jesus?  Why hadn’t I longed to connect with the Creator of the Universe on a more regular basis?

This verse addressed those questions and even a much larger, overarching one:  Why did Jesus even come to Earth in the first place?

Matthew 1: 21 gives us the answers when the angel of the Lord addresses Joseph as he considers how to respond to his fiance Mary’s unexpected pregnancy:

She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.

It’s so easy to look around and see that people clearly need saving.  From when we turn on the news and hear of the atrocities going on across the globe to when we go about our everyday lives and see the imperfections in others, it’s obvious that this world and the people who inhabit it are not as they should be.

Why did I have such a rush of emotion upon reading this verse however?

I knew this world was broken and full of sin and knew the only way people could be saved from their sins was through Jesus.

I shed tears this morning because it reminded me that I too needed saving.

How could a man who professes to have a relationship with the Almighty Creator spend so little time getting to know Him in His Word and in prayer?  How could someone be so preoccupied with himself that he ignores the One who brings any sort of relevance and meaning to what he does?  How could a man be so full of sin yet be more attentive to others’ shortcomings in lieu of his own?  How could such a man call himself a Christian?

God used this verse to strike me with the answer:

Brady, you too have fallen short; you too are in need of rescue; you too are why I had to die on the cross… you too need Jesus.

All of us (Christian or not) can see this world does not measure up.  People are evil and can’t be trusted.  Our systems are broken and don’t work as they should.  Suffering is rampant and sorrow reigns.  These things are no secret whether you believe in God or not.

It is much harder, however, to come to grips with the fact that we are also apart of the problem.

We too do not measure up to the standard God has set for us.  We are evil and can’t fully be trusted.  We are selfish and do not live as we should.  Suffering is rampant and sorrow reigns because we refuse to live as Christ call us to live.  These are truths much harder to deal with when we force ourselves to look inward rather than just outward.

Thankfully, God knows we can’t obtain the perfection He requires on our own; that it’s impossible for us to climb the mountain of righteousness to be in His presence; that we need someone to save us.

That’s why Jesus came.  That’s why He died on the cross.  That’s why I shed tears of joy on this day…

Because Jesus came and He saved me from my sins.

Thank you, O Lord.

-BH

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I’m Back…

Well folks, a lot has happened since I last ventured onto this website to write.  The Lord has blessed me with another new job (as an administrator and basketball coach at Belton High School), new home, and a new baby girl on the way!  With all these new changes and activities, it goes without saying my return to writing has nothing to do with boredom or having “too much time on my hands.”

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So why now?  Well, like a lot of Christians out there, I recently came to the realization that I’ve allowed the world to get in the way of my spiritual growth.  I’ve allowed my “busyness” to be an excuse to not prioritize my faith and have let the other things become more of a priority in my life than what should be the most important–my walk with the Lord.

I owe some of my revelation to an outstanding writer that I’ve been following for the past couple of years–Matt Walsh.  Matt is without doubt a controversial figure who many people have differing opinions about.  He’s certainly not perfect (like all of us) but what I do appreciate about Matt is his willingness to search for and speak truth (no matter how unpopular) in a society that seems to be getting further and further away from it.

Matt’s recent article about lukewarm Christianity really struck a nerve with me.  It was through this piece I came to the realization that I’ve become more and more of an indifferent Christian in an indifferent world than someone who is actively living out his faith and trying to make a difference within it.  This revelation led me to the one logical place where I could address the issue…God’s Word.

I’ve read the Bible a lot throughout my life.  I’ve done quiet times, Bible studies, and even read the Bible chronologically in a year as part of a small group assignment.  This time, however, I went to my Bible with a different mindset.  I wasn’t going to complete a small group study or to fulfill some personal obligation to be able to tell God that I “completed my Bible time” this morning.  This time when I went to God’s word, I went for one reason:  to learn and grow closer to Jesus.

Reading the Bible as a “spiritual homework assignment” has always been a struggle for me…

Okay God, I’m going to do my best to drag myself out of bed a 6 am to read an obligatory chapter or two of scripture then rush into my closet, get dressed, brush my teeth, grab a Granola bar for the road, and then jet out to work like the McCallisters jetting out to an airport…

Doing this for a week or two and then inevitably burning out without remembering hardly anything that I read or thought during these speed reading sessions has not been a recipe for success for me.

This past Wednesday, however, instead of opening my Bible with a preconceived number of chapters or amount of time I insisted on reading, I simply came wanting to read about the most fascinating, powerful, and controversial figure in the history of the world–Jesus Christ.

I didn’t have any outside motivations, no intent on reporting to God that I completed my Bible time, no obligatory feelings of “I must do this once a day to be a good Christian.”  I did this simply to grow closer to Jesus.

As a result?  For the first time in a long time I actually enjoyed reading the Bible.  I was fascinated to open up to the Gospels and begin reading the most amazing story in the history of mankind.  It was liberating to find that once I came to a passage that really stood out to me, I could go back and reread without having to look at the clock or look at how many more pages I had to read before I could deem myself finished.  This time, I found myself actually being able to hear God, learn from his Word, and get something out of my so-called “quiet time.”  It was amazing!

After reading in this new way, ample thoughts, ideas, and reflections came into my head that I wanted to grapple with more and more.  Then it occurred to me:  what better way to apply and share my reflections than to return to writing?

Thus, I’m back…

Im back

It’s not my intention to promise you I’ll write every week, just like I’m not going to tell God that I’m going to set my quiet time for a certain time or day of the week.  This plan may work for some people but it simply doesn’t work for me.

I intend on reading God’s word only when God calls me to it, which certainly will be on a regular basis but not on a predetermined day, hour, or time period.

Similarly, I intend on sharing with you what I’ve learned also on a regular basis but there will no promises of it being “every Saturday” or “at least twice a month.”

I don’t want my time with God or my writing to become some sort of homework assignment.  I want it to be what it’s meant to be:  a time to spend learning and growing closer to Jesus.

I’m excited to be back and can’t wait to share with you what I learn and hope all of us–especially myself–are able to grow closer to God through the process.  Thanks for supporting me on this ongoing journey!

-BH

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A New Adventure

These past two weeks have been two of the most grueling of my life.  Not because they have been bad or negative, but because I have had to make one of the toughest decisions (possibly THE toughest) I have ever had to make.

I remember back when I was a student at Liberty High School thinking about how amazing it would be to teach and coach in the distinguished Liberty School District.  One of my favorite teachers was Coach Simpson.  Anyone could tell that Coach Simpson loved his job.  He got to work with students during the day teaching physical education, and by night he got to live out his passion as a basketball coach.  Inside, I was secretly jealous of what he had.  He got to coach under one my role models–head coach Roger Stirtz–and got to live out his dream working with students through the game he loved.

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I vividly recall thinking about how great a gig Coach Simpson had and realized I would probably never be able to obtain such a job–simply because I didn’t have the talent.  Coach Simpson was a great basketball player in his playing days and had the opportunity to play for Northwest Missouri State in college.  Furthermore, it was well-known among us high school players that Coach Simpson had tried out for the Charlotte Hornets of the NBA before becoming a coach.  If that wasn’t enough, Coach Simpson proved himself as an elite player in practices and open gyms as his shooting and overall basketball skills made it undeniable that he was a superb talent.

It was with this knowledge I came to think you had to be an elite basketball player to be a coach, and I knew I would never quite be on that level.  Consequently, jealousy ensued as I literally thought I could only dream of such an opportunity to coach with Coach Stirtz, teach PE, and be a part of the well-regarded Liberty School District.

Thanks to some amazing administrators and trusted colleagues, my dream somehow became a reality over these past four years–and it was just as amazing as I thought it would be.  Teaching and coaching for the Blue Jays has been one of the great joys of my life.  Coach Stirtz is a great role model and mentor who creates a fun, collaborative atmosphere that is conducive to success on and off the basketball court.  I knew this as a player when I played for him and I now know this as a coach who has now coached for him as well.  The administration at Liberty has also been top-notch.  From the top-down, the administrators in the Liberty School District have been nothing but supportive, encouraging, and a pleasure to work for.  And lastly, all the amazing colleagues and students I have had the pleasure to work with have made this journey all the more fulfilling and enjoyable.  I am humbled by how blessed I have been.

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It is with this background in mind that my tough decision came about.  I knew I loved my job at Liberty, so I made it clear to others when they inevitably asked, “So when are you going to start looking to be a head coach again?” that the only way I would leave would be for the perfect opportunity.

As many of you now know, that opportunity has come as I have now officially accepted the job as the head basketball coach at Smithville High School.

Smithville has everything I am looking for.  Quality administrators, a positive school climate, and a supportive community who are passionate about their kids.  It also helps that it’s only a short 25 minute commute from our house and is located near a pretty awesome lake!

bball

After doing some more research and having the opportunity to visit with a few of the educators of Smithville, my “perfect opportunity” has clearly come.  Through lots of prayer and reflection, my wife and I both decided it was time for a new adventure and we are extremely excited to get started!

I want to thank all the great educators, colleagues, students, and friends who I have had the privilege of working with these past four years in Liberty.  I will always cherish our time together and hope we can stay in touch.

I also want to thank the community of Smithville for providing this new opportunity and being so supportive of me during this process.  I am very excited and optimistic about the things to come.

And lastly, though jobs, places, and people change in our lives, I am comforted knowing that one thing never does:  my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  I am so thankful for my relationship I have with Him and know as long as I follow His direction, my future and my family’s future are taken care of.

Thanks again for everybody’s support in this process.  I have truly been blessed.

-BH

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A Year Ago Today

Exactly one year ago today (October 25) was a life-changing day for me…

I have met and dated plenty of great girls in my life but never found the one I thought God wanted me to marry.  I eventually decided to swallow my pride and succumb to my dad’s suggestion that I try out the dating website Christian Mingle.  I was surprised to find that the website actually produced more dates than I expected it would (I definitely recommend it for any single Christians out there who are looking to date).

Though I got to meet and even “date” a few great girls, the first few relationships didn’t work out for one reason or another.  Until finally, I was able to schedule a date with this pretty girl named Alyssa who I felt had the potential to be someone special.  She had a great sense of humor and had a passion for kids (she was a teacher like me).  She also had a strong spiritual background and our personalities seemed to mesh very well (the fact she was beautiful didn’t hurt either)!

It goes without saying that I was nervous before I met her at the popular Japanese restaurant Siki for our first date, and as soon as she walked in, I knew I had to do everything I could not to mess it up!  Thankfully, Alyssa had a great smile and an outgoing personality that helped put my nervous jitters at ease.

I don’t remember much as far as what we talked about specifically, but I remember afterwards I called my mom and confidently told her, “Mom, I found the one.”

One year later, I am less than two months away from marrying Alyssa and am so thankful I waited for God to deliver her to me.  I remember beginning to think that maybe there was no “dream girl” for me out there.  That maybe I’d have to settle for someone I wasn’t crazy about (which would have been wrong of me) or stay single my whole life (which I didn’t feel was my calling).  Thankfully, I was wrong, and I knew I was wrong as soon as I met her.

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Now the purpose of this post is not for me to go on and on about how lucky I am or how much I love Alyssa (which is a lot).  The purpose of this post is to encourage all of you that were like me a year ago–frustratingly dating to no avail and unsure if God would be faithful to my heart’s desire.  Now, I’m not about to sit here and tell you that if you pray for a spouse, God’s going to give her (or him) to you.  God is not some genie in a bottle who always gives us the things we want–even if they are wholesome and good.  I will say, however, that if you have a longing in your heart for a spouse then it likely is in God’s will, and I would echo the words so many said to me over the years:  be patient!

Being patient is much easier said than done, and I in no way was a master of it!  I would often get frustrated at God and try “my own way” of finding my future spouse.  It got so bad that it eventually became like an idol to me, as I found myself spending my spare time dwelling about my lack of a spouse instead of focusing God and the blessings He HAD given me.

The truth is that I didn’t find Alyssa until I finally humbled myself.  I decided that being single wasn’t such a bad thing (which it isn’t!) and had to accept the fact that God wanted me to be single at that time and I had to be okay with it.  Besides, the greatest person to ever live (Jesus Christ himself) and the greatest missionary to ever live (Paul) both lived their whole lives single.  So who was I to say that being single wasn’t an “acceptable” path for me?

Thankfully, God brought Alyssa to me, but again, it wasn’t until I became “okay” with being single and content with having no intimate relationship with anyone outside of God (which always was and is more than enough!).  Now, obviously I didn’t just throw up the white flag and totally give up on my great desire for a wife as I eventually signed up for Christian Mingle , but I stopped making my dating life an idol and began focusing on God and all the blessings He had given me.

God knows your heart, your circumstances, and your needs far more than even you can fully understand, and if a spouse is something you need and you are following God’s will, then it will be sure to happen for you.  It may not be in your timing or how you expect it to be (like for Alyssa and I, meeting online wasn’t what we expected), but I promise you that if you stay faithful to God, He will stay faithful to you–whether it’s bringing you the “girl of your dreams” or it’s leading you down another path that allows you to maximize your impact and closeness to Him–God is faithful.

Searching for Alyssa was an emotional time in my life–full of ups, downs, and many disappointments.  I wish I had taken everyone’s advice much earlier than I did in regards to being patient and faithful to God.  If you’re like I was–doubting God and making your lack of a significant other an idol–then I’d encourage you to pray for God to give you patience as well as  reassurance that He loves you and is faithful to bring about everything you need.

Also, try out Christian Mingle if you feel so inclined.  It certainly worked out for me!

-Brady

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Defeating the Bad Guys

Many people seem to think mankind is under some sort of progressive march unto perfecting ourselves. Then, you look around and realize little has changed from the time Cain killed Abel until now.  You don’t need to search far to realize that evil is still rampant in our world.  Violence, genocide, and injustice seem to be out of control, and it’s hard to know how we should respond.

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Should we go into an all out war to destroy ISIS?  How do we deal with violence against the police as well as unwarranted violence by the police?  What should we do to combat the real problem of domestic violence in the NFL and elsewhere?  How do we combat all the atrocities going on in the Middle East, North Korea, Africa, and even in our own country?

These are serious questions I certainly don’t have any answers to.  I do know it’s been hard to watch all that’s been going on, and the temptation to pretend like my sinfulness is somehow acceptable in comparison is getting harder and harder to resist.

So what can we do to productively help those in need and bring those responsible to justice?  I want to share a few points I believe the Bible gives us to help…

1)  Trust God to avenge

Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: ‘It is mine to avenge; I will repay, says the Lord.'”–Romans 12:19

Far too often, we as Christians like to think of God simply as being kind and loving, but it’s important to remember that part of God’s love also includes his desire for justice, which often involves the easily misunderstood concept of His wrath.  God cannot tolerate sin, and He promises to cast His wrath upon all those who violate His good and perfect will.  It’s our job to trust Him to do just that–without unnecessarily getting in the way.

2)  Repent of our own sinfulness

“For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”–Romans 3:23

Understanding the fact that God pours out His wrath against all those who sin means it’s vitally important we don’t see ourselves as perfect “saints” who are somehow better than those around us.  Rather, we need to understand we are all broken and deserve God’s wrath.  Therefore, rather than being quick to judge others’ imperfections, we first must address our own by confessing our sins, repenting of those sins, and addressing the needs of others with an empathetic, caring attitude that’s looking to help and build up–not to judge and degrade.

3)  Pray

“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor, and hate your enemy.’  But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven.”

It may sound simple, but perhaps the most powerful thing we can do to combat the injustices on earth is to pray.  Pray for those who are being abused, pray for those who are in positions to act against said abuse (political, military, etc), and EVEN pray for our enemies involved in the abuse.

The latter has been an especially difficult concept for me to grasp.  Why should I pray for those who are violently savaging against innocent people?  And the answer goes back to my first two points:  it’s God’s job to avenge and I am a sinner–similarly worthy of said vengeance!

Who knows, it is possible (and maybe even likely) that God will call us to do more.  But first we must pray, and then trust God to act!

-Brady

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Guilty Until Proven Innocent?

It’s a staple of due process in the American Judicial System:  all people are presumed innocent until they can be proven guilty.  Not only is it an important concept in the judicial system but also in everyday life.  For if someone accuses me of something, I expect them to be able to prove that I in fact did it before I’m going to willingly take accountability for it (unless I know I did it of course).  I’m thankful this is the way we operate in America because it’s the best way we can pursue justice in a broken world.

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Although this is the best way we humans can enforce justice between each other on earth, I think it’s important we recognize this should not be our viewpoint in how we relate with the Holy God of the Universe…

Many of us have bought into the lie that we are entitled to God and the benefits that come from knowing Him just because we are “good people.”  By the world’s standards, being a “good person” would seem to be adequate enough.  I mean, how can God possibly not accept us if we’re innocent of all the MAJOR offenses? In our eyes, we’re innocent until God can prove us guilty of something truly “heinous.”

This line of thinking is backwards however.  For “heinous” in our eyes (on a human-to-human level) is wholly different than what God’s view of heinous is.  For in our view, we all could be deemed “heinous” (for we all offend and hurt each other on some level) AND AT THE SAME TIME we could all be deemed “good” (for we all were created in God’s perfect image and do some level of goodness to one another).

Where do we draw the line?

The Bible tells us ALL have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God (Romans 3: 23) and none of us deserve to be in communion with Him (Romans 6: 23) .  Thus, we are all already GUILTY before God and there’s nothing we can do in our guilty state to change that by our own power (Ephesians 2: 1-10).

God is holy and pure, and because He is holy and pure, He cannot even look upon sin and evilness (Habakkuk 1: 13).

Thus, the question of “How can a loving God send ‘innocent’ people to hell?”  is totally backwards and misleading–for God cannot even look upon the guilty and none of us are innocent!

The real question then is “How can a perfect and holy God allow guilty people into Heaven?”

For we are all guilty.  We don’t deserve God.  We all deserve hell…

But thankfully, that’s when God’s love and compassion comes in.  For He loves and cares about us so much that He doesn’t end the story there!  Rather He came down to earth Himself–through His Son Jesus Christ–to cleanse us from all guilt, from all sinfulness, and from all shame, so that we might be called INNOCENT in His eyes forevermore (John 3: 16)!

“Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath.  But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved…—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God.” (Ephesians 2: 3-8)

It’s not enough to just know about this great gift, however.  We must respond to it with a repentant heart, a faithful spirit, and a humble attitude (Romans 10: 9).  Only then are we given the privilege of coming into relation with Him.

And nothing compares to the greatness of that…

-BH

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