What is God’s Idea of a Champion?

But you are not to be like that. Instead, the greatest among you should be like the youngest, and the one who rules like the one who serves.   – Luke 22:26

To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps.   –1 Peter 2:21

A Champion literally translated is one who “stands in between the two middles”.   He stands in the gap.   He fights for those he cares about.   His cause is great.   In fact, it is greater than himself.   Most people think of a champion as one who wins in a sport.   And in many cases, it is only about that individual or team rising above the other opposing team to prove that they are greater.

God’s idea of a Champion is greater.

God’s Champion is a God seeker, fighter, lover, and servant.
  • SEEKER:  First and foremost, a Champion seeks after God.   His ultimate goal is being so in tune with God that everything he does flows out of that relationship.  He hears, feels and knows God’s heart and desires.   He is guided by God’s spirit and longs for God’s ways and love to be known and experienced by all.  He wants joy and happiness for himself and others and he knows that seeking God is the key.
  • FIGHTER:   Yes he competes.  He strives.  He works to get better.  He wants all that he does to be the best because he knows his life, others and the Cause are at stake.   His fight however is for God.   And his number one enemy is satan and his own flesh that keeps trying to feed him lies of doubt and unbelief.
  • LOVER:   The great drive to protect and fight comes from his deep love.   It wells up in him so much that he does things any ordinary person would instinctively turn and run in fear.  A champion is the greatest lover on earth!
  • SERVANT:  A true leader is a servant leader.   Jesus himself said, “the greatest one among should be…like the one who serves.”   And a leader by definition champions others by serving and using his life… skills, talents, personality and resources…to help others.
We want young men to not just be another winner of a game…we want them to be Champions in life?

Click below to see a visual presentation we are using during our gatherings with our young men and coaches:

See the Gift of Jesus

Day 3: SEE the Gift of Jesus

The Death of Jesus would be another message that I consider to be a symbolic and prolific (abundant) message that is preached today. For this devotion, I want you to put your thinking cap on and imagine the story as I tell it. I want you to imagine that you are actually there and witnessing these events. Let’s start.

Check it out here: Luke 23:1-23

Jesus is standing trial before his very own people (Jews). The trial is led by a man named Pontius Pilate. In the trial, Pontius Pilate has the authority to set Jesus free or crucify him. As the trial starts “the Jews begin to accuse Jesus saying, ‘we have found this man overthrowing our nation…and he claims to be Christ, the king.’ Pilate than began to question Jesus ‘Are you King of the Jews?’ Jesus responded ‘Yes, it is as you say.’ Then Pilate announced to the crowd that he found ‘no basis for charge against him (meaning he is innocent).’ But the Jews insisted ‘He stirs up the people all over Judea by his teaching.’ Pontius called the leaders of the Jews, and said ‘you brought me Jesus as one who was inciting the people to rebellion. I have examined him in your presence and have found no basis for charges against him…he has done nothing to deserve death.’ But the crowd with one voice cried out ‘Away with Jesus! Release Barabbas to us! (Barabbas was put in prison for murder).’ Pontius, on wanting to release Jesus, appealed to them, but the crowd kept shouting ‘Crucify him! Crucify him!’ Pontius for the third time responded ‘Why? What crime has this man committed? I have found no grounds for the death penalty.’ But with loud shouts they repetitively demanded that he be crucified. Their shouts prevailed and Pilate decided to grant their demand.” (Luke 23: 1-23)

Pontius had Jesus flogged. Flogging is being beaten by a whip or stick as punishment or torture. After bearing the torture, Jesus then had to carry his cross and was later nailed to that cross as he died of asphyxiation. Now it is too long for me to type all of Luke 23 out, but out of what was typed, what stood out the most to you in that story? For me, it was that the very people that Jesus performed miracles for, were the same people that had him crucified. The very people that Jesus helped were the same people that turned on him. ARE YOU KIDDING ME??????

Jesus was ridiculed, mocked, tortured and crucified and he went through all of that for us. Guys if you can handle very sensitive material including blood and gruesome images, I advise you to watch the Passion of the Christ or clips on YouTube. A youth pastor once told me that watching that movie will really put the gospel in perspective. In the movie, I actually couldn’t watch Jesus be flogged and I later cried when he was crucified. (Just a recommendation)

Today’s Challenge:

Read all of Luke 23 and imagine that you are there and visualize what Jesus went through. So much of our faith involves being able to visualize the Word. Guys, I know that if you do this, God will touch each of your hearts and speak to you in a way that you have never heard before.

Go to DAY 4: Receive the Gift of Jesus here.

Receive the Gift of Jesus

Day 4: RECEIVE the Gift of Jesus

The Resurrection of Jesus Christ. When you hear that, you should just wanna shout “Hallelujah.”

Here is the story: Luke 24:1-7

“On the first day of the week, very early in the morning, several women took spices they had prepared and went to the tomb (where Jesus was buried). When they got to the tomb, they found the stone that covered the tomb, rolled away. When they entered the tomb, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. While they were wondering about this, suddenly two men in clothes that gleamed like lightning stood beside them. In their fright the women bowed down with their faces to the ground, but the men said to them, ‘Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here; he has risen! Remember how he told you, while he was still in Galilee: The Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men (the trial), be crucified and on the third day be raised again.” (Luke 24: 1-7)

“He has risen!” You should wanna slap your neighbor that is so exciting! You might be thinking, well why is that so exciting. The fact that Jesus Christ was raised from the dead proves that he is the messiah (savior) that God sent to save us. Therefore, since Jesus is the messiah we no longer have to search and wait for the savior, but now all we have to do is receive him, believe him, and submit to him.

Captive by S.I.N.

Have you guys ever wrestled with the term savior? Like what does it mean to have a savior? The best analogy I can think of is this: So you are held captive by the evil terrorist organization: S.I.N., all of a sudden a Rambo like Jesus bursts through the door and subdues everyone. There is no one left, the coast is clear, there is no reinforcements coming. Now what would the Rambo like Jesus be to you?…a savior right. Okay, to have a savior, you first have to know that you are held captive. If you don’t know you are held captive by S.I.N. then the Rambo like Jesus would seem like an enemy or just some other guy that happened to kill everyone that you were around. But what if you know that you are held captive by S.I.N. except you stay put and don’t leave the cell. What would the Rambo like Jesus be then? Would he still be your savior even though you don’t receive his savior-ship (just made that up)? The point I am trying to make is that unless you receive Jesus as your savior then he won’t be your savior. Jesus can do all the saving in the world, but until you get out of the cell and follow him then you can never be saved.

There is a difference between acknowledging that you have been saved and receiving salvation. Acknowledging that your saved means that you are still stuck in the cell, but know that Jesus saved you from sin. It is like Jesus did all the work, but you didn’t take his hand and let him lead you to safety. Receiving salvation means that you know Jesus saved you and you get out of the cell and follow him to safety (heaven). Knowing that you are saved from sin and receiving salvation are two separate things. One means that you have eternal life and the others means you don’t. Imagine that in the analogy that the Rambo like Jesus was going to blow up the island after he saved you. If you don’t leave the cell, will you still live? I mean he is going to blow up where you are held captive.

In today’s world, some Christians say that all you need to do is acknowledge that Jesus is your savior (say a couple of words and BAM your done). Just because you acknowledge that Jesus is your savior doesn’t mean you are saved. When you receive Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, there is a response you have. In the analogy’s context you take the Rambo like Jesus’s hand and follow him to safety. In today’s world, you surrender to him and follow him.

Today’s Challenge:

Ask yourself, “do I just acknowledge Jesus as my savior or have I received him as my Lord and Savior?” Be real with yourself and if you want to talk about it give us a call. We are more than happy to discuss this with you!

Todd Clifton: 918-633-7284

Danny Santos: 918-720-4572

Chase Gordon: 918-237-0564


Go to DAY 5: KNOW the Gift of Jesus here.

Know the Gift of Jesus

Day 5: KNOW the Gift of Jesus

So who was Jesus and what was his purpose? I have tried to hit the high points of Jesus’s life and I hope it gives you a glimpse into who he was. From this devotion, we can infer who he was, but I will still leave you with who Jesus said he was.

Who is Jesus?

My father whom you claim as your God, is the one who glorifies me.” John 8: 54. “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified…Father glorify your name! Then a voice came down from heaven ‘I have glorified it, and will glorify it again.’” John 12: 23-28. “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” John 14: 6. When Jesus was baptized “a voice came from heaven: ‘You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.” Mark 1: 11.

There is a whole bunch of scriptures where you can find who Jesus says he was or God the Father himself saying who he was. I hope we have a grasp on who Jesus was now, so now we can address the question of what was his purpose.

Jesus Purpose

Jesus says, “the hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds.The Man who loves his life will lose it, while the man who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant will be. My father will honor the one who serves me. (John 12: 22-26)

I divided up this passage by Jesus’s purpose and our purpose. Jesus’ purpose is in red and ours is in bold. In this parable, Jesus refers to himself as a kernel of wheat. Jesus refers that the kernel must die before multiple seeds can be produced. Jesus’s purpose was to die, but what for? What does it mean that his death will produce multiple seeds? Jesus carried a seed with him the day he was in Mary’s womb. That seed was that he was THE Son of God. So when he dies that seed will multiple. Therefore, since he died we now have the ability to be A son of God (not THE son) if we receive Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior because the seed he had is able to be given to others (it has multiplied). Jesus had many other purposes as well, but to condense it to a short devotion, I will only leave it to one.

Then Jesus, being Jesus, tells us what our purpose is right after his. Our purpose is to follow him. And Jesus says it bluntly, “where I am, my servant will be.” Lets look closely at Jesus’s statement “Where I am.” “Where I am” means not where you are at, but where he is at. You can’t tell Jesus where you want to go and expect him to follow you. Jesus is moving and it is up to us to follow him. So how can we tell when we are following Jesus? Well how do we know when we are following someone here on this Earth? We keep to their teaching, obey their commands, know their voice, and know who they are. That is how it is with Jesus. The reason people don’t follow Jesus is because they don’t know Jesus. They don’t know his teachings, his commands, his voice, or who he is.

Today’s Challenge:

I want you guys to write down what you know about Jesus. Break it down into categories like: What did He teach?… command?…or say about Himself?  And under each category write down as much as you know. Then after that, write out any questions you may have. Then next time we meet if you have any questions then you can ask them over the lunch and we will answer them for you.

Celebrate the Gift of Jesus

Day 2: CELEBRATE the Gift of Jesus

The Birth of Jesus is one of the most symbolic and prolific (abundant) messages that is preached today. Symbolic in meaning that every year we celebrate Christmas, which symbolizes Jesus’s birth. And prolific in meaning for a whole month every pastor preaches to the church congregation, “BEHOLD, THE SAVIOR IS BORN!” You have probably heard the message about Jesus’s birth so much that you know more about Jesus’s birth than your own.

So the question I pose to you is how do you celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ? Do you just acknowledge that Christmas is the day of Jesus’s birth? Or do you celebrate and praise God saying something like “Praise be to God the Father, who has sent his to be our savior.” The problem with hearing the same message so much is that if we forget to always celebrate it than we lose the joy we first had when we first heard it. Think of it like this, remember when you got that “one gift” that you begged for Christmas. Remember when you first opened it and how much joy you had. Okay, let’s now fast forward to next Christmas. Are you still jumping up and down about that gift? Did you still experience joy when you play with it? Most likely you are looking forward to another gift. You completely forgot about it.

Checkout one of the ways God announced the Gift he was bringing here: Luke 2:9-14

When Jesus was born, “an angel of the Lord appeared to [the shepherds living out in the field nearby] and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of [Bethlehem] a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord…Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host (a whole bunch of other angels) appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, ‘Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests.’” (Luke 2: 9-14)

The angel said it was “good news of great joy.” So where is your joy upon hearing the news that Jesus Christ has been born? Guys, this was such good news that other angels joined the angel and they began praising God. Our praise and worship should never end when we hear this news. The angel didn’t say this is “good news of great joy [but your joy will fade overtime].” No, the message of Jesus’s birth is and always will be “good news of great joy.” If it is no longer good news of “great joy” than you stopped celebrating it. Your celebration has been replaced with just acknowledgement of it.

Here is a tell-tell sign that your celebration has become acknowledgment: What excites you the most about Christmas? Is it the gifts? The family? The board games? The basketball games? The food? All of those can be exciting and should be, but what should get you out of bed on Christmas morning should not be what gifts you got from Santa, but the gift that God gave us, which is his son Jesus Christ.

Today’s Challenge:

My challenge for you guys is to take five minutes out of your day and thank God for Jesus. Your praise can be about his birth or his resurrection. Guys, our joy for God’s good news of his son was never supposed to fade. We let it happen when we forget to praise him and celebrate his son Jesus Christ.

Go to DAY 3: See the Gift of Jesus here.

Believing the Gift of Jesus

Day 1: Believing the Gift of Jesus

The Story of Jesus starts with a woman named Mary. Mary was a virgin and was pledged to be married to man named Joseph. It seems Mary had a typical life, but that soon would all change.

Check out the story here: Luke 1:26-38

One day and angel named Gabriel appeared to Mary. “Greetings!” he said, “you are highly favored! The Lord is with you!” Mary was frightened at first, but the angel spoke “Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favor with God. You will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High (referring to God).” Not surprisingly, Mary answered “How will this be since I am a virgin?” Gabriel (the angel) responded “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High (God) will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God (that’s Jesus)…For nothing is impossible with God.” And Mary boldly responded “I am the Lord’s servant…May it be to me as you have said.” (Luke 1: 26-38)

WOW! What an introduction! Jesus was finally going to make his appearance on Earth and a young woman named Mary was going to give birth to him. Can you think of what was going through Mary’s head? An angel just appeared, told you that you will give birth to the Son of God and God was going to bring him into the world through a miracle that no one has ever heard of before, a virgin birth. Your mind should have exploded by now. What a miraculous God we have!

From this scripture, here is one of the points I want you guys to takeaway. Do you think Mary understood how God was going to impregnate her without a man? Did Mary even ask God on how he was even going to do it? Lets look at Mary’s response. “May it be to me as you have said.” May didn’t seek to understand how God was going to impregnate her. She just believed what God said he was going to do. Guys, we serve a God who is to be believed, not always understood. If we could always understand how things would happen then we wouldn’t have miracles.

This is the application for you guys, when it comes to God’s word or his promises our first response should be to believe what he says. If he says you are loved then you better believe you are loved. If he says that no harm will come to you, then there is no doubt that no harm will come to you. Every time you try to understand God before you believe him, you minimize who he really is. I have heard people say that they don’t understand the Bible, well great, the Bible wasn’t meant to be understood first, it was meant to be believed first.

Today’s Challenge:

What do you need to believe right now that God is speaking to you through his Word (the Bible)?  What are you trying to understand without believing first?

Go to DAY 2: Celebrate the Gift of Jesus here.

The Gift of Jesus (Intro)


Have you ever thought about what it means to be a Christian? Why we believe what we believe. Have you ever wondered what makes us different from everyone else in the world? Is it what we do on Sunday’s, or is it the way we treat people or is it what we believe?

As Christians are first step in the journey in discovering our purpose starts with Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ, as you may know, was no ordinary man, but he was God himself. He was 100% God, 100% Man. And he came to Earth as a gift with a purpose, and that purpose was to reconcile us back to the Father through the shedding of his blood.

So how can we “unwrap” this incredible gift and see Jesus in bigger way during this season? We talk about him every Christmas and Easter. A man who has two holidays on our calendar must have been a big deal. This is what this 5 day devotion is for. Because in discovering who Jesus was and his purpose, we will find who we are and what our purpose is.

Click here to begin to find out!


What are your plans for this school year?  Is your vision short sighted or does it contain wisdom to see further down the road beyond what a normal high school guy walks right now?  Are your plans all about you or do they have a greater goal that transcends beyond your life?

“Commit to the LORD whatever you do, and he will establish your plans.”
“In their hearts humans plan their course, but the LORD establishes their steps.”
“May he give you the desire of your heart and make all your plans succeed.”
“The LORD knows all human plans; he knows that they are futile.”
“Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the LORD’s purpose that prevails.”

Take Aways:
  1. God wants us to commit our plans to Him.
  2. He is the decisive factor if they succeed or fall short.
  3. We should seek and pray that our heart and plans line up with God’s purposes.

PRAY: Jesus I need your help.  What do you want for my life today…this week…this year? Lord would you order my steps?  I don’t want to make plans that are not preparing me or leading me to Your purposes for my life. So I ask that you would change my heart and my plans to match and reflect Your heart and plans for me.  I trust and believe you will do this.  Amen.

Good Guys and Jerks

“Whoever does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent him.” John 5:23
Have you met him?  You know, the guy that everyone seems to love.  He is winsome, intelligent, articulate and just plain fun to be around.  Most people would say, “Man, he is just a really good guy.”

Then there is the “other” guy.  The guy is a jerk.  He treats everyone like dirt and because of it, his life is out of control.  Substance abuse, trouble with the law, and fights are just a normal part of his life.

So my question is: Which of these guys needs God more in their life?

Yes, as you probably guessed already, this is a trick question.  They both need God.

From a human perspective, if we line up these two guys and judge their behavior, there is no doubt that most would say that the jerk needs God and greater change in his life. However, God does not just look at the behavior…the outward life, He looks at the heart…the inward life (1 Samuel 16:7).

The greatest sin in our life is not based off one certain behavior. The greater sin is how we fail to acknowledge or honor God. This is how even the “good guy” can miss it.  John Piper says it like this:

“The true measure of the greatness of sin is not the way it ruins human life, but the way it dishonors God.”

Think about it. Don’t we as guys hate it most when other people show us disrespect?  That is why we would prefer to fight guys face to face rather than have people turn their backs on us or ignore us.

So the questions for us are:
  • Does my life honor God?
  • Have I been ignoring God?  Have I turned my back on Him?

Okay, so what do we do?

Talk to God now.  Tell Him how you are sorry for ignoring Him without really meaning to. Tell Him your sorry for turning your back on Him when you knew better. Find comfort that through the ages many guys ignored or flat out disrespected Him or people, but because they humbled themselves and turned back to God, He restored them and even used them in great ways. If this is you, He is not mad at you. He is happy to forgive you and glad to have you back home.  God welcomes all…good guys and jerks.

Don’t Fail the Growth Test

So have you ever bombed a test?

Well your not alone.  I did it just the other day.

Now the test I’m talking about isn’t a school test…God knows I have struggled a lot with those in the past.  No, the test I am referring to is the kind that helps us grow in character and our calling.

The other night, a few of my friends and I were in the kitchen talking. One of my friends saw that he had not shut the door fully behind him as we came in earlier. He, with a rather direct tone said, “Todd shut that door will ya?” Now I know that seems like a simple request, and honestly as I write this I feel like even more of a dork, but guess what I did?  Instead of fully shutting the door, I closed it only half way to where it was not fully latched.  Needless to say, he noticed as he stared me down with a look that urged obedience while at the same time wondered why I did the job only half way in the first place.

So what was I thinking?  And why did I behave like a jerk you ask?  Well, in only one second, I thought three things:  1) “I don’t like his direct tone toward me”  2) “I prefer the door partly unlatched anyway so that when you come in from the garage it is easier to just push open than turn the handle too.”  3) “I will just close it half way like I like it.”

Do you see why I know I failed my test? To state the obvious, it was about ME and what “I wanted.”  It was a test to help me overcome my own pride and selfishness.  You see that same morning in my devotion time I read the verses in Philippians chapter 2 where it talks about imitating Jesus’ humility, valuing others above yourself and not looking to your own interests but the interests of others.  God trained me up with this scripture and got me ready for the test, but I bombed it.

Retakes for Growth

The good news is that God allows you to retake the test if you want too. The bad news though is that if we don’t want to retake the test, you and I will remain where we are….in the same grade.  It doesn’t mean he doesn’t love us, it just means He can’t advance us.

You see God doesn’t want us to just know something; He wants us to become something. And by allowing challenges to come our way, He desires that those circumstances help define and build our character. And when our character grows guess what happens?  Our life grows.

When our life grows it means we have moved to another level in our journey to become all that we were created to be.
Ephesians 2:10 states that we are God’s handiwork:

“For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”

We were created “to do”.  So that means it has to be more than just knowing some scripture. It is there for us to know so that we become it.

Plants just like people have stages of growth, we can’t skip any stages. We can’t fool ourselves to think that God’s spiritual growth design can be bypassed. We must be mature at each stage of growth before we can move onto the next.

What area in your life have you sensed you have failed to pass the test? Will you allow God to show you what you need to do to move forward to your next growth level?

Jesus is hanging out with “those people” again!

Have you ever felt like an outcast or maybe left out by a group of guys or girls you thought were your friends?  If so, do you remember how you felt?
Most likely you didn’t feel a bunch of hugs and kisses.  Neither did a guy named Levi. He knew most people didn’t like him.  So when he met Jesus, he was blown away by what Jesus asked him.  Take a look!
  • What do you think Levi was thinking when Jesus asked him to “follow me and be my disciple”?   (Why me?…amazed…but thankful…sensing love?)
  • Who are you most like in this interaction? (Crowd, Levi, other disciples, religious person, other sinners). Why?

A Life Changing Invitation

Did you notice the reaction Levi had?  He did not just say “thanks Jesus for choosing me”.  Instead he threw a dinner party and invited a bunch of people over to celebrate.   
GUT CHECK!…. Are you that excited about Jesus wanting to be in a relationship with you?

I think if we are honest, all of us can loose sight of the incredible reality that the God of the universe wants to be with us.  He is that crazy about you and me!  As amazing as this is, we must understand something though:

When Jesus calls you it is not just so you can break free of the disease of sin in your life and enjoy the love of God in your life.  It is ALSO an invitation into the Rescue Mission.  

Jesus wants us to join Him on mission in a purpose driven way that is empowered by His Spirit.

Are you living like that?
ACTION: Who might you reach out to today with the spirit of Jesus’ love that others may wonder about you: “why is he talking/hanging around him?”

PRAY:  Jesus forgive me for not celebrating your love for me like I should.  I’m amazed that you continually choose me and want to be with me.  I want my life to look like yours.  Help me.  Empower me by your Spirit so that I can join you in the Great Rescue Mission to help others know Your love.