I’m Proud to be an American

It’s hard to believe this may be viewed as controversial for me to say, but I’m going to say it anyway:  I’m proud to be an American.

I’m proud to be from a country that values freedom, human rights, and equal opportunity before the law.  It’s easy for us to forget the ideals our country was founded on (such as individuals being endowed by their creator with equal, inalienable rights) were revolutionary concepts that have changed the course of human history for the better.

I’m proud of our country’s value for diversity–not only when it comes to race and ethnicities–but also in thought and beliefs.  This too was a revolutionary concept realized by our founders in that all have the right to say, believe, and practice our beliefs in how we deem appropriate.

I’m proud of our country’s past both for our revolutionary ideals that changed the course of mankind and our ability to overcome many evils that have plagued not only our country but much of human history.  The process still continues to this day.


I’m proud to be an American.

Now that’s not to say I’m proud of everything about America.  I’m not okay with the injustice, divisiveness, and the outright evil that’s been displayed throughout our country both in the past and the present.

Though our founding principles are about as ideal as any country’s principles could ever be, America isn’t perfect–never has been and never will be.  We aren’t short on atrocities that myself and most all Americans are ashamed of.  However, I’d argue there’s not one country, nation, or people group that doesn’t have atrocities they are and should be ashamed of.  

The difference with America is due to so many brave Americans who sought to make our revolutionary founding principles a reality, we’ve been able to overcome many of our great evils and atrocities.  And though we still battle injustices today, we’ve come a long way in improving not only our country but the entire world in a powerful way.

It’s been disheartening to see all the divisiveness that’s gone on recently.  I’ve seen my fellow citizens commit heinous crimes against one another, government officials not step up and do their duty protecting the rights of their people, and hateful rhetoric being dished out from both sides of the political aisle.  This is not the America I am proud to be a part of nor want to raise my family in.

It’d be easy for me to just sit back and say nothing, but I love this country too much to continue to sit on the sidelines and feel compelled to use my freedom of expression to share my thoughts on our country’s current status…

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I truly believe a big issue we currently face in our country is the extreme polarization we’ve allowed politics to play in our lives.  Our political beliefs went from being our opinions on how we should improve our country to becoming–for many of us–our religious identities; and not only that, those with opposing beliefs have somehow also turned into our mortal enemies.  This new type of attitude has turned us into a divided people that refuses to listen and respect one another–as opposed to a united one working together with the best interests of our country at heart.

This is simply my two-cents and nothing more, but I believe we need to do the following if we’re to somehow find a common unity and love for our country again:

  1. Acknowledge that though our founding principles are about as ideal as any can be, America (like all of humanity) is made up of imperfect people who have different thoughts, opinions, and beliefs on how we go about achieving said principles.  Our right to have these differences in opinion, though at times frustrating, are a part of what makes our country so great.
  2. Recognize that though we all long for a perfect society (which I personally believe is a desire we’ve all been given from God), it’ll never be achieved this side of heaven.  Though striving to achieve this perfection is certainly a noble cause worth pursuing, our country is made up of imperfect people and evil will always exist–no matter how much we combat it.  The key is in how we go about empowering each other to do good and limit evil from happening as much as possible.
  3. Instead of always emphasizing our differences, I believe we need to be mindful of and focus more on American values that unite us.  There’s three in particular that standout to me:
  • The value of freedom
  • The value of equality
  • The value of family

The Value of Freedom

I think we too often forget and take for granted the revolutionary concept of people being free from government persecution and tyranny–that is that the government works for the people and is governed by the people.  This is a great blessing we all benefit from and has been achieved to a level never before seen in human history here in America.

All of us value freedom and we need to be sure no matter what our differences are that we continue to limit the government’s ability to impact our lives and infringe upon our rights as outlined in our Constitution.  These are rights our founding fathers recognized were endowed upon us from our creator and are rights we shouldn’t be willing to relent–no matter the argument.

The Value of Equality

Another revolutionary idea our founding fathers recognized was that all people were created equal.  Obviously we’ve been far from perfect in our ability to live up to this principle but it was an idea that was unheard of in it’s time and yet still rings true today.  

It’s our duty to make sure every person is valued as an individual uniquely created by their creator, that each individual has an equal opportunity before the law to pursue life, liberty, and happiness, and that each individual doesn’t have their rights unjustly infringed upon.  When such an infringement does occur due to an evil act of an individual(s), we need to hold the guilty party accountable and be sure we have the proper systems in place to help prevent such infringements from occurring again.

Now a big misunderstanding I feel many have in today’s America is the difference between equal opportunity and equal outcome.  In a free society, all should be afforded an equal opportunity before the law to pursue our lives to the fullest extent using our individual talents and abilities.  In a free society, however, demanding each individual have an equal outcome is impossible to achieve without infringing upon other’s freedoms.  In fact, I’d argue it’s impossible to achieve–period.

Therefore, to help individuals live a fuller life, we as a country need to start emphasizing the personal virtues of responsibility, hard work, respect, integrity, and determination.  These virtues will not guarantee us success but they’ll certainly empower us to use our freedoms to more adequately pursue our potential, be more likely to realize our goals, and make us more capable of helping those of less fortunate circumstance.  As opposed to what is required in pursuance of equal outcomes, which includes envy, entitlement, deflection of responsibility, governmental control, and the destruction of others.  

In regards to the law, equal opportunity must be our focus if we’re to truly live in a free and just society.

The Value of Family

Now when I speak of my opinions on freedom and equality, I recognize I speak from a place of privilege.  My privilege was a blessing given to me that I had no control over.  It was the privilege of being born into a quality family where both my parents loved and cared for me, taught me life skills and moral virtues I needed throughout my life, and worked hard to raise me in a more ideal circumstance than even what they had themselves.

This privilege did not shield me from hardship, injustice, misfortune, or disappointment but it did afford me the ability to pursue life in a positive way and work to overcome challenges without destroying myself or others.

This is the type of privilege I see less and less of in today’s society and is something we as Americans need to discuss and take more seriously.  As an educator, it breaks my heart to see all the kids out there who don’t have what I had.  Regardless of their race, beliefs, or economic status, a person who doesn’t have the privilege of coming from a loving and supportive family is going to be at a disadvantage–no matter what governmental rules and regulations we put in place.

Therefore, we need to take our responsibilities to our families more seriously.  If you were given the privilege (like I had) of growing up in a loving and caring family, we need to make sure we do everything in our power to pass along that privilege to our children–there is no greater gift we can give them or our country!

If you weren’t given that privilege (whether it was under your parents’ control or not), my heart feels for you and I recognize your journey is likely much harder than what mine has been.  But no matter where you are now or what you went through, you can give your kids something you never had.  It doesn’t require a certain income or even intelligence level.  All it requires is a commitment to love those closest to you in a sacrificial way that is becoming less and less prevalent in today’s society.

Emphasizing and valuing family, in my opinion, is where we need to focus more of our country’s attention if we want to see more productive lives being led by our people and less injustice throughout our land.  Our government was never meant to parent us with life skills and a moral foundation or guarantee us a successful or fulfilling life.  Our government was meant to protect us from those who wish to infringe upon our rights (including the government itself) so that we might freely pursue such things for ourselves.

4th of July

It’s up to us to take care of ourselves and our families, to raise our children in a way that empowers them to be quality people who can pursue their goals, and to pass along the privilege of a loving and caring family for our children to have as a foundation for both their lives and the life of our country.

Thanks to those Americans who came before us, each of us has the freedom to use our gifts and abilities to do this.  

Will proceeding with these ideas solve all our problems?  Of course not.  But I certainly believe it’s a great place to start.

I say we get to it…


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An Unexpected Path

When I last wrote about my decision to leave coaching, I meant it.  Through much prayer, reflection, and discussion, God’s will seemed clear that it was time to say goodbye to “Coach Hammond” and explore options outside of basketball.

From the point of that decision months ago until now has been quite the journey and much has transpired.  I’ve searched far and wide for what my next calling would be.  I’ve explored opportunities within the realm of education as well as into industries I’d never considered before.  I’ve looked within the Greater Kansas City area as well as into states many miles from here (stretching as far as the east coast).  And I’ve searched within what met my initial expectations as well as into opportunities exceeding what I dreamed possible.

As my search progressed, many other developments came about…

  • I learned a lot about myself and gained greater understanding of my journey and why God led me to this point
  • We’ve been blessed by my wife’s current position, which has progressed to levels we hadn’t expected while still allowing her to work primarily from home
  • My parents were able to pay us a surprise visit, which was very helpful in providing some additional clarity and insight
  • I was able to spend an unforeseen extended amount of time praying and worshipping before God, spending time with my family, and reflecting
  • And lastly, a passion I thought I was called to walk away from circled back around in an unexpected fashion

All that being said, I’m excited to announce I’ve accepted a position with Summit Christian Academy in Lee’s Summit, MO where I’ll be teaching Physical Education, serving as the Middle School Athletic Director, and coaching Varsity Boys Basketball.

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Like I said before, though I thought it was clear God wanted me to walk away from coaching, it’s now become just as clear that I didn’t see the whole picture.  Through this journey…

  • God forced me to be willing to walk away from what was obviously an idol in my life.  For so long, I’ve put “coaching basketball” at first priority devoting myself to it even at the expense of my relationships with God and my family.  I had to confront this reality over these past several months and was able to get to a place where I didn’t find my identity in coaching basketball anymore.  This is a liberating feeling.
  • God allowed me to explore other opportunities I never would’ve considered otherwise and learn about the journeys of others.  It was so interesting to meet so many passionate people working in so many different places and pursuits.  I learned about different school districts in Missouri as well as different states, I learned about different industries–some of which I never dreamed of considering, and I got to learn from different professionals and their journeys that look a lot different than mine.  None of this would’ve happened if I wasn’t willing to leave coaching.
  • I learned that though there are many great pursuits out there, God called me to coach basketball for a reason and He wasn’t completely done with “Coach Hammond” yet.  There were multiple times I felt I had narrowed in on a position outside of coaching, only to have God close the door in an unexpected way.  In perhaps the most surprising way, God brought this Summit Christian opportunity to my attention and was able to make it abundantly clear this was the path He wanted for my family.

There are many great aspects of Summit Christian I’m excited about…

  • The chance to share my Christian faith openly with my students through my passions for fitness, wellness, and basketball is truly a unique ministry opportunity that seems tailor-made for who I am.  This job will not only allow me to mentor young men but also openly disciple them to grow in their Christian faith.  Perhaps just as important, it’ll also be a blessing unto myself and force me to grow spiritually in a powerful way.
  • From everything I’ve learned both through my conversations with the quality people at SCA as well as my own research, the school district seems to be an awesome, Christ-centered place that should be a great fit for my family.
  • The opportunity is located in a great location in Lee’s Summit, MO.  Lee’s Summit is home to my in-laws, my two best friends, and is close enough to where we live now that we don’t have to move unless we feel so called.  Additionally, the location is convenient in relation to my wife’s current job, which again seems to be blossoming as of late.
  • Lastly and most importantly, God has made the decision an obvious one to make.  It’s clearly His will we take this next step, and I (along with my entire family) are taking the step confidently in faith and are excited to see what God brings in this next chapter of our lives.

I’ll never forget the spring of 2020.  I doubt there will ever be any season quite like it.  Much like the rest of the country, I never dreamed this terrible pandemic would’ve ever happened.  Uniquely to me, I also never dreamed I’d be willing to walk away and say goodbye to coaching only to have God circle it back around and say “not so fast.”

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I’m extremely excited to become a Summit Christian Eagle like my wife (SCA is her alma mater); I’m extremely grateful to not have to walk away from my love of coaching; and I’m extremely blessed to have another chance to pursue my earthly passion while keeping what matters most (my faith and my family) in the right perspective.

Perhaps the two greatest developments in all this…

1. I can finally relinquish control.  In the past, I’ve always preached to my teams to “control the controllables.”  Though this clever saying remains true, it only addresses the issue halfway.  The other side is “and have faith through the uncontrollables.”  In the past, I’ve always subconsciously believed I could achieve success through my own knowledge, work ethic, and sheer will.  Though these pursuits can certainly be noble, they don’t ultimately determine success.  Success is only defined by what you do on behalf of God and His kingdom and any success you might personally desire (i.e. winning) ultimately lies in His hands.  Therefore, yes continue to pursue knowledge, work extremely hard, and do all you can to “succeed.”  But God doesn’t want you to become prideful in your knowledge, work yourself into the ground, or trust in your own power.  In the end, you have to be willing to trust in Him and not only be willing to live with the outcome, but be thankful for it–no matter how good or bad it might look from your earthly perspective.

“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.”–Proverbs 3: 5-6

2.  I no longer have to live in fear.  In the past, the fear of having to leave coaching has always been a motivating factor for me.  Coaching has been such an idol that I never wanted to even consider giving it up.  As a result of this journey, the fear of having to leave coaching no longer exists because I know I can not only survive but thrive without it.  Again, this is a liberating feeling that will allow me to coach more confidently, more genuinely, and most importantly, more faithfully.

“For God did not give us a spirit of fear and timidity but of power, love, and discipline.”–2 Timothy 1:7

I want to thank Summit Christian for the opportunity and trust they have granted me; my wife Alyssa for her love, patience, and support; my daughter Emery for her ability to make me smile no matter the circumstance; my family for their unrelenting guidance and direction; and most importantly my Lord Jesus Christ for forcing me to confront some ugly truths in my life, allowing me to grow in my faith, and making clear the next adventure for our family.

Now, it’s time to continue to pray, step out in faith, and go to work!


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Goodbye Coaching



What a privilege…  What an honor…

What a journey.

Where did it all begin?

Did it begin when I got that call the spring of my senior year in college?  I remember it vividly.  I was a student teacher at the time observing my host teacher, Mr. Keenoy.  I saw the call come in on my phone and stepped outside with great anticipation.  My dream had come true!  My first real job.  I was the new head basketball coach of the Windsor High School Greyhounds…


Or did it begin when I was contacted by my high school coach, Coach Roger Stirtz, earlier in my college career?  My alma mater was scheduled to play state-ranked Columbia Rock Bridge in an upcoming game.  Seeing that Rock Bridge was two hours from my hometown but only a short ten-minute drive from my dorm at the University of Missouri, Coach asked if I’d be willing to scout the Bruins on his behalf.  As soon as I sat down in those packed bleachers to scout that Friday night, I was hooked…

Rock Bridge

Or maybe it began the year before when Coach Stirtz called me into his office my senior year of high school?  It’d been a big dream of mine to be a starter for the Liberty Blue Jays—a program steeped in rich basketball history and tradition.  I’d worked so hard for so many years and was very nervous as I entered his office.  I knew Coach was meeting with each player to let us know the role we’d earned to begin the season.  I recall the moment he told me I’d be a starter for the Blue Jays.  I was overcome with feelings of pride and joy…


Or perhaps it began even earlier—at some point playing for my dad between when I made that first granny shot for my kindergarten team to when I hit those 4th quarter three’s as a teenager in that Kansas City AAU Tournament?  My dad spent countless time, energy, and resources coaching me throughout my childhood.  He’s the reason I developed such a love for the game…


After further reflection, I think I know the exact moment where it all began.  It’s my earliest basketball memory.  I’m not sure how old I was—maybe 3 or 4?  I was sitting on the stairs.  My mom had just finished tying my brand new, first pair of basketball shoes.  I had a ball in my hands and was staring at our front door with such excitement.  As soon as that door opened my dad would be walking in from work to take me…we were going to play basketball at the YMCA.  My dad and I.  Sharing a passion.  Together…


Like I said before…what a journey.

And regardless of where this beautiful journey began, it’s now time for me to announce with bittersweet emotion that I’m stepping away from coaching high school basketball.

This decision is not easy, but I know it’s right.

One thing I make a point of discussing with my team at the beginning of every season is the importance of priorities.  It’s my belief to be successful, we must have a good sense of recognizing and giving everything we can to what’s most important.  Part of this process requires us to say “yes” to some things and “no” to others.

Right now, as hard as it is to admit, I simply cannot continue saying “yes” to coaching high school basketball.

It’s a blessing really—having so many things in my life that are more important than my great passion for coaching.

My faith is more important.

My wife Alyssa and daughter Emery are more important.


My friends and family are more important.

And a new desire to narrow my career focus is now also more important.

I’ll never lose my love for the game of basketball, but God has made it clear the time has come to say “no” to coaching.

Ten lessons I’ve learned and want to share especially for my fellow coaches.  Some of these will sound cliché but I’ve found them to be true and wish I fully understood them when I first got into the profession…

  1. Though coaching is a great passion, never let it define you. If coaching is the most important thing in your life, it’s my belief your priorities are out of whack.  You’re more than just a coach and are measured by more than a win-loss record.
  2. Never make coaching about you. It should ALWAYS be about the kids.  Even in those difficult moments, conversations, and decisions—it’s about the kids.
  3. Always be yourself. You’ll hear a million different ways of doing things and a million different people saying you should do this and do that, but when it comes down to it…be true to yourself, who you are, and what you believe.
  4. Never stop learning. I remember when I accepted my first head coaching job at Windsor thinking I had coaching basketball all figured out.  I couldn’t have been more naïve.  Eleven years later and I still learn a significant amount every season.
  5. Control the “controllables.” There’s lots of things that affect winning outside of your control.  Don’t get overwhelmed and stress out unnecessarily worrying over them.  Give everything you have to controlling what you can and you’ll be able to live with the results.
  6. Coaching attitude and effort should ALWAYS be what you coach first. No matter how much basketball knowledge you have, it’s irrelevant if your kids aren’t giving winning attitude and effort.
  7. Stay steady and humble. Understand you’ll get too much credit when things are going well and too much blame when things are not.  Don’t overreact to either.
  8. Expect and accept criticism. Coaching is a very public profession with lots of people who have strong opinions (right or wrong) on how you should do it.  Understand criticism comes with the job.  Don’t take it personal.
  9. Be honest and accountable. When you see an issue, confront it.  When you make a mistake, own it.  If there’s anything our kids should learn from us it’s that nobody is perfect and making mistakes is a natural part of learning and growing—no matter who you are.
  10. Be grateful. There’s a lot of people out there who’d love to be in your shoes coaching this game we all cherish.  You’ve been given a great honor and privilege to do this.  Not everyone gets the opportunity.  Be grateful.

I remember thinking back when I was a high school player how awesome it’d be to someday have a job like Coach Simpson.  Coach Simpson was Coach Stirtz’s varsity assistant at Liberty.   I really looked up to him because he was such a cool guy who clearly had a love for basketball.  His passion allowed him to play in college and even have an opportunity to tryout for the NBA.  I remember thinking how amazing it’d be just to become an assistant like him but never thought I’d get the chance because I didn’t think I’d ever measure up…

Back at Liberty

As I reflect upon those thoughts and where my journey has led me, I can’t help but be overwhelmed with gratitude and thanks.  Coaching has been a great joy I never really thought I’d get to experience at such a high level.  I have no regrets and am so very grateful.

There are so many people to thank…

I want to first thank my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  There are no words I can say to adequately describe what You’ve done in allowing me to experience this journey coaching basketball—let alone all else You’ve given and done in my life.  Thank you Lord…for everything.

I want to thank my wife Alyssa.  People underestimate the sacrifice it takes to be married to a coach.  The time away, the emotional toll, and the distraction that coaching can take from a marriage can be very difficult.  Your sacrifice hasn’t gone unnoticed and I’m excited you no longer have to share me with basketball.  Thank you for your love and support through it all.  I love you!


I want to thank the original “Coach Hammond,” my dad Tommy.  As stated earlier, you’re the reason I have such a love for the game of basketball.  If you hadn’t advised I be true to myself and follow my passions when I was younger, none of this would’ve happened.  You are why I became “Coach Hammond.”  I love you!


I want to thank my mom Nancy.  It isn’t possible for someone to have a better mother than I have–so loving, so sacrificial, so truly wonderful in every way.  Wow.  What a blessing you are to me and our entire family.  I love you!


I want to thank my brothers—Daniel, Ben, Tyler, and Jackson.  Without having the privilege to “lead” you as your older brother, not to mention all the times we played ball in the driveway growing up, there’s no way I’d be who I am today.  I love and admire each of you.


I want to thank all my players (past and present).  Each of you have meant so much to me during my career.  Whether you agreed or disagreed with how I went about things, I hope each of you know I care deeply for you and am so thankful I got to work with you.  I can only hope you learned from me a percentage of what I learned from you.

I want to thank all the coaches I’ve worked with.  Whether I worked under you or had you on as my assistant, I really cherish the moments we got to experience together in what is without a doubt one of the most rewarding yet challenging professions there is.  Thank you for allowing me to be a part of your journey.

I want to thank my friend and mentor, Coach Roger Stirtz.  You’re a big reason I developed such a love for high school basketball and there’s no way I would’ve become a varsity-level coach without you.  Thank you Coach.  My admiration for you is immense.

I want to thank all the schools who trusted me with the honor and privilege of leading/helping lead their basketball programs (Rock Bridge, Windsor, Liberty, Smithville, and Belton).  I did not take the responsibility you entrusted me with lightly and gave everything I could to help our students be their best.  I’m forever grateful for the opportunities you gave me.

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I want to thank the principal of Belton High School, Mr. Phil Clark, for giving me the opportunity to become a school administrator and mentoring me these past three years.  I’ve never met someone who works harder at what he does and it comes from a sincere place of wanting to make a difference in kids’ lives.  Thank you for allowing me to be a part of your team.  I’m eternally grateful.

To all those who’ve helped me along the way who I haven’t mentioned—friends, family members, colleagues, and others—from the bottom of my heart I thank you.

And finally, I want to thank you “Coaching.”  What an incredible calling you are.  You brought me great love, joy, and excitement.  You also brought great humility, frustration, and tears.  You brought me great confidence yet also great doubt.  I’m thankful for it all and can’t imagine a greater experience in responsibility and leadership than what you’ve given.  I’m a better husband, father, and man because of you.  And though it’s become clear I’m now better off without you, you’ll always be a part of me and I’ll miss you more than words can say.

Thank you for the ride.


-Coach Hammond

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O How I Wish It Weren’t This Way

O God, How I wish it weren’t this way
She’s so small, so sweet, so precious this day;

Her smile so tender and touch so warm
She’s no doubt at fault for making cuteness the norm;

But I know that someday she’ll mature and grow
And this precious time together will melt like the snow;

And all the bouncing and rocking and lifting her up
Will soon turn to school and friends filling her cup

O God, How I wish it weren’t this way
That I’d have to say goodbye to this baby someday

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O God, How I wish it weren’t this way
That she be born in a world where pain seems to reign;

She’s too innocent and precious to me, O Lord
I can’t fathom the idea she’d endure sin’s scorn

See she’s protected and grows to be strong
And that she’d be a light despite all that’s gone wrong;

But most of all God that she’d come to know You
As You’re the only one who can carry her through;

O God, How I wish it weren’t this way
But I’m beyond thankful You’re with her always


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A Prayer Lord, for my Daughter

Dear Lord,

As I sit here gazing at this newest and most special blessing You’ve bestowed upon me, my heart is overwhelmed with joy.


Thank You for blessing us with Emery.  For allowing her to be healthy and strong.  For giving my wife the strength to carry and birth her, for empowering the medical staff to deliver her, for granting us the ability to provide for her, and for blessing our family with the utmost support in every way imaginable.  You Lord have blessed us far more than we could ever deserve.


With all You’ve given us God, it seems selfish–if not outright greedy–to ask for more.  But You Lord tell us to continually ask as long as we do so in Your Name.

Therefore God, I ask…

I ask that You give her mother and me the wisdom, strength, patience, and fortitude to raise Emery how You would have us raise her.  For her to be a woman of God who loves You and follows You no matter how challenging and difficult it may seem.  May she put her trust in You God.


I ask that You give her strength God.  Strength to overcome life’s challenges that’ll be sure to come.  Strength to put others before herself in a society that increasingly puts the self above all else.  Strength to stand up when she needs to stand up and to sit down when she is called to sit down.  And strength to overcome any sufferings she endures as she recognizes that You Lord experienced great suffering and overcame.


I ask that You bless others who come to know her God.  May You surround her with strong, godly friends who will support her and help her be her best.  May you allow her to be a blessing to those she comes in contact with–both the friendly and the unfriendly.  May you allow her to be a great light that brings many to know You in an ever-growing dark world.


I ask that you give her a fulfilling and rich life.  May she experience great joy, deep love, and powerful relationships.  May she be allowed to explore creation and experience life’s beauty to the maximum degree.  Most importantly, may she come to fulfill Your will for her Lord using the gifts and passions You’ve bestowed upon her to live to her fullest.


I ask that you allow Alyssa and I to do right by her God.  To support and advocate for her in every way.  To provide her the space and freedom she needs to pursue her dreams as well as the boundaries and discipline required for her to be successful.  To smother her with hugs and kisses unconditionally while at the same time teaching her to be accountable for her actions and never be too good to say “I’m sorry.”


Selfishly God, I ask that I have the opportunity to be with her–to hold her hand, play with her, dance with her, wipe her tears when she cries, embrace her when she rejoices, and always be her #1 fan.  To watch her learn and grow into a great young woman who loves life and is a blessing to others.  To be there on her wedding day giving her away to a God-fearing man worthy of her love.  To someday hold her own children in my arms as she prays a similar prayer on their behalf to You O God.


And please Lord, when she comes to learn the truth about me–that Daddy is in fact not Superman but a broken sinner who left to his own abilities will inevitably let her down–empower in her the assurance that her Heavenly Father always comes through as You are far greater than Superman–You’re her perfect Savior who will NEVER let her down.


Once again Lord, I thank you for our Emery.  I promise as her father to always treasure her for the special gift that she is and do my best to protect her, support her, and build her up to the highest of my abilities.

What a blessing she is O God.  May her story make Your Name Great.


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What’s in a Name?

As many of you know, my wife and I are having our first child coming up here in a few weeks (due date is May 26th!).  With this major life change comes many important decisions we’ll have to make–one of the first of those being her name.

A name is a huge part of a person’s life.  It truly is our identity in that when our name is spoken, we will respond to it for all of our lives.  A name also becomes the verbal symbol of who we are in that when people hear it, they’ll think of us.  A name can also provide meaning (our baby’s name–Emery–means brave, powerful, and industrial).

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In Matthew 1: 23, we find the meaning of the most important person’s name whoever lived–Jesus.  His name means “God with us.”  This meaning provides so much insight into who Jesus is that I could write for pages upon pages about it. However, today  I want to focus on two points:

  1. What His name means for salvation
  2. What His name means for leadership

First of all, the most beautiful part of “God with us” is what it means for our salvation.  In all other religions, the idea is for people to try to work towards achieving salvation by pleasing a deity or achieving “nirvana” through rightful works or being “good enough.”  That is to say that if God were atop a mountain and we were at the bottom, we would have to successfully climb our way up it through our own efforts to achieve our salvation.

In Christianity, God tells us that we will never be “good enough” based on our own efforts yet He loves us so much that He came down to earth, humbled Himself to the point of death on a cross, and earned salvation for us on our behalf.  That is to say that if God were atop a mountain and we were at the bottom, He freely decided to descend said mountain, offer us a free ride up the mountain, and do all the work for us by taking us up Himself so that we may receive the salvation at the top.  All we must do is accept the free ride.

This has numerous ramifications for us but here are three simple ones:

  1.  It simplifies our salvation.  No longer do we have to work towards some sort of arbitrary goal of being “good” or achieving some sort of perfect state of being.  All we have to do is accept God’s gift that He freely offers us and then trust and follow Him to the best of our abilities.
  2.  It liberates us from wondering if our actions are good enough to make us right by God.  Through His work on the cross, we can do good works not because it selfishly earns us points towards our salvation, but we do so cheerfully to obey God, serve others, and follow His will without having to compare ourselves to those around us or balancing our good deeds against our bad.
  3.  It allows for forgiveness of sins since being perfect or even “good” is acknowledged as being an impossible feat for humans to achieve.  As long as we’re sincerely following Christ, we can have the confidence in knowing when we do mess up, God will forgive us if we ask with a repentant heart and humble spirit.

Personally, these truths have made my life so much simpler.  When I look at my past, I know God has forgiven me for my mess ups.  When I look at my present, I know God is in control and the only thing I need to worry about is following Him to the best of my ability.  When I look to my future, I know my salvation is already paid for and I can live confidently knowing I find my identity in Christ and nothing else.  There is no need to compare myself to others’ achievements or even to my own expectations of “success.”  As long as I follow God’s will, I will be a “success” in the only way that truly matters–through His eyes.

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The second point I want to touch on is much more secondary and doesn’t quite have the eternal implications of the previous.  However, I do feel like God coming down to earth didn’t only show us how to receive salvation but also gave us a glimpse into how can go about living our lives–including how we should look at leadership.

All of us at some point will be required to lead in some capacity.  Whether it’s leading others through our roles in our jobs, becoming a parent and leading our children, teaching or being a role model for someone else, or simply organizing any sort of event or activity whatsoever, we will all at some point in our lives be called a leader.

There’s lots of great ideas and philosophies out there on how to be a quality leader and I’m sure they’ve all got great ideas and aspects involved with them.  However, God (being the ultimate leader) humbling Himself, coming down to earth, living amongst those “beneath Him,” and leading them not through His position of authority but through serving amongst us, I think shows us the ultimate lesson in leadership.

Matthew 20: 25-28 sums it up best:

You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them.  Not so with you.  Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave–just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.

What does this tell us in regards to leadership?

In our role as a leader, do we sit atop our leadership “mountain” demanding those beneath us rise up to our will?  Or do we, like Christ, descend from our “leadership throne” to be amongst those we’re leading and not only work alongside them but actually serve them as Christ served us?

I think the below illustration gives a great representation on the different views of leadership.  The leader on the left represents how many in our society view leadership as it being an opportunity to be on top and “rule over” those beneath us whereas the leader on the right is the type of leader Christ modeled for us and calls us to be as this leader works alongside those he leads in a humble and loving way.

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The biggest takeaway here is when God does bless you with an opportunity to lead, rather it’s in your job, at home, or simply for a brief moment in time, do so with a humble attitude and loving heart.  If the God of the universe–who is in fact perfect and better than all of us–could humble Himself and do so than it should not be asking too much of us–who in no way can call ourselves perfect or even “better” than those we lead–to do so in kind.

There are lots of powerful insights we can gather when reflecting upon God’s wonderful name.  How truly blessed we are that God chose to live among us both in flesh through His Son Jesus 2000 years ago and now amongst us through His Holy Spirit.

Praise His Holy Name!


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