The Humbling Message of Christmas

I think most of us recognize Christmas’s message of giving to others and valuing time with family, but there’s a deeper, more profound message that I think many of us don’t fully recognize–and thats its message of humility.

Think about it, Christmas was created to celebrate the fact that God Himself came down to earth as a baby to live among us!

Do we fully grasp what this means?

When I think of a baby, I think of tiny, chubby little human that is totally dependent on others and helpless on its own.  It cannot feed itself, clothe itself, or even move itself!  It has no right to be prideful or arrogant because it has no power to do anything!

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And that’s what’s so amazing about Christmas–The Almighty God of the Universe was willing to humble Himself to the point where He made Himself in our likeness as a meek and helpless child in order to save us!

This example of humility convicts me to the core.  For if there’s one thing I’ve always struggled with, it’s pride.

The fact is that I’ve done very little to get what I have.  In fact, everything I do have is a result of God’s hand in my life and the people He has put around me.

Unfortunately, I tend to prefer to believe that I somehow “earned” what I have myself–making me somehow more “important” and/or “wiser” than others.

Then I’m reminded during Christmas time each year what God did.

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Unlike me, God has earned the right to be glorified, praised, and worshiped for what He has done.  He didn’t have to humble Himself.  He didn’t have to come down to earth in the most meekest of ways.  And He didn’t have to die a humiliating and barbaric death on a cross.

But He did.

He did because our God is a God who doesn’t leave us to fend for ourselves.  Our God is Emmanuel–God with us.  That’s to say He longs to be in relation to us.  To know us.  And to save us.

And He was willing to humble Himself to become one of us and physically show us the way.  I think the apostle Paul said it better than I ever could…

In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus.  Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant being made in human likeness.  And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death–even death on a cross!”–Philippians 2: 5-8

Jesus Christ had every right to be prideful.  To not associate with anyone because He was better than them (after all, He was God!).  Instead, however, He came to earth as a helpless baby in a lowly manger.  Where eventually He grew into a man who dwelt among the most humble among us (the poor, the downtrodden, the dirty, and the “sinners”) and proceeded to die a criminal’s death on a cross.

If God Himself could come down to earth and associate with us in such a humble and loving way, what is stopping insignificant old me from doing so?  As Paul continues in his letter to the Philippians…

“Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves.”–Philippians 2: 3

May I keep these things in mind when I’m feeling entitled, proud, or rightful:

Jesus Christ humbled Himself for me.  Can I not do the same for others?

-BH

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Defeating the Pregame Butterflies

Tomorrow, my team (the Liberty Blue Jays) finally gets to play in our first game of the season as we take on North Kansas City.  I really love this time of year.  The excitement of the crowd, the enthusiasm of the players, and the “butterflies in the stomach” feeling we coaches get before we lead our team out onto the floor makes me really cherish the job I have.

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Getting ready for a game can be pretty intense at times and definitely nerve-racking.  As a coach, you prepare all season to get your players ready to perform at the highest level possible, so it’s hard not to stress out about the possibility that they won’t perform up to your expectations.

The fact is, however, that the players are going to make mistakes.  They’re going to miss some shots, turn the ball over, blow some defensive assignments, and may even have to lose a few games as a result of those errors.

With this in mind, it’s important for me as a coach to realize that mistakes happen and there’s only so much you can do to prevent them from happening.  In fact, instead of focusing on not making mistakes, I’ve learned that we need to embrace the fact we’re going to make mistakes and go out there with the confidence that we need to be aggressive and make plays–even if we fail at times.

As a coach this is the mindset I want my team to take:  to cast aside the fear of failure and control the controllable.

Controlling the controllable means we don’t worry about the things that are out of our hands (what the refs call, what the fans are saying, what the other team does, etc.) and instead, focus on doing the things that are under our control (being focused, playing with 100% hustle, making the smart play, etc.).  This makes the game simpler for our players and allows them to play relaxed and focused on doing the things they can do to the best of their abilities.

Like with so many things in sports, I can’t help but recognize how this philosophy carries over from the basketball court to real life.  In life, sometimes things happen that we can’t control (actions of others, unexpected losses, personal disappointments, etc.), and it’s easy for us to focus so much of our time and energy on those things that it can drive us crazy!

Thankfully, I’ve discovered (again from experience) that if I focus on controlling the controllable (my response to the uncontrollable, my attitude, my commitment to my faith, my work ethic, etc.), I’m far more productive, happy, and effective in achieving my God-given potential than I am when I’m doing otherwise.

So if you’re someone who’s stressed out this holiday season, or maybe someone who’s been hurt by someone close to you or overwhelmed by a circumstance, I want to encourage you to step back and think about what are the things you can control in those situations and what are the things you can’t?

My prayer would be that you’d then consider focusing on controlling the controllable to the best of your abilities and trust the rest to God, who controls all things according to His holy and perfect will.

-BH

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Behind the Scenes at Arrowhead Stadium

Yesterday, I had the unexpected opportunity to go “behind the scenes” at one of the best and most anticipated football games of the year–when the Denver Broncos came to Kansas City to play the Chiefs.  I was pleasantly surprised when I got the call to come help cover the post-game press conference, and what followed was a day I’ll never forget…

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Though my friend and I weren’t needed until the post-game press conference, we were required to be there SUPER early–which was fine with me considering the sights I’d get to see throughout the day.

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Upon arriving to Arrowhead, we got to enter through the same entrance the players, coaches, and officials enter through.  It doesn’t look overly impressive at first but it only gets better from here…

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My friend and I then headed to the press conference room to get the camera set up.  I was charged with doing the sound checks at the podium.  As a high school athletics coach, I thoroughly enjoyed fantasizing about being a coach at the highest level…

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We then headed upstairs for a complementary lunch.  This would be the same lunch many of the team executives would be munching on throughout the day.  To say I felt like a “big deal” would be an understatement…

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My friend and I then headed down to observe what was going on on the field.  It was here we got to witness several stars warm-up, and as an added bonus, we got to see one of the best quarterbacks of all time (John Elway) walk right across our face…

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After we finished making our presence felt on the field, we headed back towards the elevator, where we got to pass both teams locker rooms where several players could be found preparing for the game…

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We eventually made it to the press box, which is located high above the field.  I’m pretty sure we were sitting at the very top row at the highest possible point in the stadium.  The views were pretty spectacular…

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After the third quarter, we headed down to the conference room to prepare for the press conference.  It was there we got to witness Andy Reid and Alex Smith give their closing remarks after the game…

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Once the press conference was over, I figured my night of fantasy had ended, so I headed back towards the exit.  Shockingly, I found myself walking side by side next to the NFL legend himself–Peyton Manning!  I thought about saying something to him at first but I figured his bodyguard might punch me in the face or something, so I decided against it.  Instead, I walked confidently beside him (from about 5 ft away) pretending I was one of his touted receivers.  To say it was a surreal experience would be an understatement….

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(my phone had unfortunately ran out of battery at this point so I didn’t get to take any more pics–which I’ll forever be upset about!)

As I walked through the players’ parking lot, I walked by a few cars I’ll never be able to afford and headed towards the gate.  At the gate, there was a large gathering of fans shouting and cheering at their favorite players.  I then realized that the security team thought I was a player myself (must of thought I was like the 3rd string kicker or something) and told the fans to “make way!”  I’ve never felt so cool in my life…

What an epic way to end of the best weeks of my life!  I couldn’t be more thankful for all the precious moments I got to experience with my loved ones these past few days–this was just icing on the cake!

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I hope your Thanksgiving week was as enjoyable as mine.  Happy Holidays everyone!

-BH

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Be Thankful: God’s Not Fair

I know this may sound a little crazy, but the thing I’m most thankful for this holiday season is that God’s not fair.

That’s right.

I said it.

God’s not fair!

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At times I’ve complained, argued, and even been angry about it, but I was recently reminded that it’s because of His unfairness that I’m able to argue at all!

It’s easy for us to look at this issue from the totally wrong perspective.  We think that because we’re “good people,” attend church, and even profess Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior that God somehow owes us something.  That He should reward us in full with a life of prosperity, happiness, and wealth.

We think that because of our “sainthood” that this is the fair thing for God to do…

In actuality, this is a backwards and even dangerous line of thinking.

The Bible tells us that our so-called “good works” are like filthy rags to God!  (Isaiah 64: 6).

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This may sound harsh, but we must consider who God is to get the right perspective:  God is holy–perfect in love and righteousness.  His eyes are too pure to even look upon wickedness and He cannot tolerate sin (Habakkuk 1: 13).

With this in mind, our thinking has to change…

God cannot be associated with sin!  In fact, He’s so holy that He cannot even look upon it!  Which is why for us to be “good enough” to merit God’s favor, we would all come up short (Romans 3: 23).

Who among us has no sin?  Has no selfish motives?  Has no faults?

I know I certainly don’t!  And what’s the cost of my imperfection in relation to a perfect and holy God?

Romans 6: 23 tells us…

“For the wages of sin is death…”

Thus, if God was truly fair, I wouldn’t be here to type this right now…I’d be dead!

Thankfully, God isn’t fair as Romans 6: 23 continues…

“…but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Many of us have an amazing amount of things to be thankful for this holiday season.  We have our health, family, friends, homes, and jobs–in addition to a plethora of other blessings.

But all of these things are temporary and will eventually fade away.

So when we give thanks this holiday season, let’s not forget to be thankful for the one thing that will never fade away…

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God isn’t fair–His work on the cross proclaims it.

-BH

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Why I Love Kansas City

Considering how many “Why I love Kansas City” posts I’ve seen, I acknowledge that by no means am I being original here.  But with all the excitement that’s been going around this week concerning the big Chiefs versus Broncos game tonight, I couldn’t help but proclaim why I’ve loved living in this town ever since I moved here from Texas approximately ten years ago.

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So without further adieu, here’s my top ten favorite things I love about Kansas City (in no particular order)…

 

1)  The Size

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One thing I love about Kansas City is the fact that it’s a “small” big city.  That’s to say that it has all the things you’d want in a big city but is not so overwhelmingly large to the point where crowds, traffic, and smog overtake your everyday life.  Sure I-70 and I-35 can get backed up every now and then, but when you compare it to the traffic situations in other big cities (such as St. Louis and Dallas), it’s much more bearable!

 

2)  The Seasons

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When I lived in Texas, we basically had two seasons:  summer and winter.  In Kansas City, there’s no question we get to experience all four of the seasons to the fullest:  summer, fall, winter, and spring!  I’ll confess that I’m not a huge fan of the intense colds or the harsh heats we occasionally endure, but I enjoy all the diverse atmospheres our town gets every few months!

 

3)  The Basketball Scene

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I’ll admit that this aspect of Kansas City isn’t quite what it used to be when my Missouri Tigers played the Kansas Jayhawks on an annual basis, but the basketball scene in Kansas City is still really good.  The Big XII Tournament is held here and the passion of the Missouri, Kansas, and Kansas State fans are felt throughout the city.  Additionally, the high school basketball scene is top notch, and the coverage we get from our local sports station MetroSports makes it all the better!  Now all we need is an NBA team to make our city’s basketball scene complete…

 

4)  The Shopping

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Okay, I realize I’m tapping into my feminine side here, but I can’t deny that I love the shopping scene Kansas City provides.  Places like the Plaza, Zona Rosa, Legends, and even the Independence Mall are fun to go to for the atmosphere more than anything.  It’s especially fun around the holiday season when these places decorate up and you can feel the Christmas spirit in the air!

 

5)  The Food

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Kansas City is known for its barbecue (with places like Oklahoma Joe’s, Gates, Jack’s Stack, and Arthur Bryant’s), and being an avid meat eater, I can’t deny that I enjoy some classic KC barbecue probably more than I should.  But besides just our barbecue, Kansas City has a variety of other quality restaurants (such as Stroud’s, The Golden Ox, and The Melting Pot)  that make the dining scene in Kansas City second to none.

 

6)  The Church Scene

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It feels weird writing “The Church Scene,” but I didn’t know how else to describe it!  There are countless great churches in the area that bring lots of exciting opportunities (from concerts to speakers to special events) to grow in your faith here in Kansas City.  I also must admit that my local church (Liberty Christian Fellowship) has been a wonderful blessing to me personally and I’m thankful that it’s located here!

 

7)  Downtown

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When I first moved to Kansas City, the downtown was really nothing to write home about.  But with the newly established Sprint Center, Power & Light District, and other renovations, downtown Kansas City is now an exciting and thriving part of the town that brings a nice combination of history and fun for local patrons and tourists alike!

 

8)  The Amusement Parks

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Growing up, my brothers and I loved going to amusement parks, such as Six Flags, Hurricane Harbor, and every few years our traditional trip to Disney World.  So it goes without saying that having an amusement park in our own backyard would be welcomed!  Now while Kansas City’s amusements parks (Worlds of Fun, Oceans of Fun, Schlitterbahn) are not super exciting or unique, they are certainly worthy of an annual trip or two!

 

9)  The Show-Me State

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One great thing about Kansas City is that it’s part of a great state.  Missouri is an awesome place that has tons of stuff to do!  From Branson to St. Louis to the Lake of the Ozarks and everything in between, the state of Missouri offers lots of cool getaways for Kansas Citians to take advantage of whenever they please!

 

10)  The Kansas City Chiefs

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Back before we moved here, my dad had the opportunity to attend a Chiefs’ game, and I remember when he got back he told us about how how awesome attending the game was and how passionate and fun the fans were.  As it turned out, he was right (as evidenced by the fact we broke the stadium sound record earlier this year)!  My family has been avid Chiefs fans ever since we’ve moved here, and we can’t wait to cheer on our Chiefs tonight as they take on our rival the Denver Broncos.

GO CHIEFS!

-BH

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Shout Out to a Legend

This past week marked the beginning of one of my favorite times of the year:  basketball season.  It’s always exciting to see all the players come into the gym to embark on another memorable journey together, and every year it reminds me of why I love coaching so much.

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I think legendary football coach Steve Spurrier said it best when he stated, “I coach because it beats workin’ for a livin’.”

Now it would be naive to think that there’s no work involved with coaching, but I must say that the work we coaches have the privilege of undertaking is extremely fulfilling and rewarding, and I’m thankful everyday that I get to be apart of it.

As a way to kickoff the season, I wanted to recognize one of the greatest coaches of all-time and someone who has definitely had an impact on me:  Coach John Wooden.

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Coach Wooden’s resume is second to none.  He won a remarkable ten NCAA championships in a span of twelve years–an unprecedented feat to say the least.  Within that time period, his team won 88 consecutive games and he himself was named national coach of the year six times.  To say Coach Wooden was a great coach would be a severe understatement!

Surprisingly enough, it isn’t Coach Wooden’s amazing on-court accomplishments that have inspired people the most, but his commitment to faith, priorities, and a life beyond the game that has made the biggest impact.

Coach Wooden is well-known for his many books he has written as well as his “Pyramid of Success” (shown below) that he created to direct people on how to be successful at life as well as basketball.

Pyramid of Success

He is also well-known for his many inspirational messages on how to be the best you can be.  Some of my favorites include the following:

“Make each day your Masterpiece.”

“Be uncomfortable being comfortable.”

“Don’t let what you can’t do interfere with what you can do.”

“Don’t worry about being better than somebody else but never cease trying to be the best you can be.  You have control over that–not the other.”

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Obviously Coach Wooden knew a lot about how to achieve great things in this life, but what was most important to him was his devout relationship with the Jesus Christ.  And he wasn’t afraid to show it…

“Who you are as a person is far more important than who you are as a basketball player.”

“Consider the rights of others before your feelings and consider the feelings of others before your rights.”

“If I’m ever accused of being a Christian, I hope I’m tried and convicted.”

“I always tried to make clear that basketball is not the ultimate.  It is of small importance in comparison to the total life we live.  There is only one kind of life that truly wins and that is one that places faith in Jesus Christ.  Until then, we are all on an aimless course that runs in circles and goes nowhere.”

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Coach John Wooden was a great coach, but more importantly, he was a great man who was an outstanding role model for all on how to live life passionately and with the right perspective.

Thanks go out to Coach Wooden for making such a huge impact on so many people–including myself.

-BH

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