NEW summer print magazine available for viewing

Summer Mag 2014 (dragged)

Want to view your magazine digitally before it arrives in your mailbox? Our summer print magazine and second DigiMag of the summer is now available for viewing. This issue includes exclusive feature stories on New York Jets wide receiver David Nelson, San Diego Chargers wide receiver Vincent Brown, Jamaican track star Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, and alternative rock band Switchfoot.

Our closeups include NFL Hall Of Fame tributes on Derrick Brooks and Aeneas Williams, a tribute for Olympian and POW Louis Zamperini, and stories on knuckleball phenom Chelsea Baker and NBA coach Paul Westphal. In our editorials, managing editor Brett Honeycutt talks about “God’s soft spot” and staff writer Stephen Copeland talks about “resting in smallness”.

Log in here to view. To receive 12 issues of Sports Spectrum magazine a year, three issues each season, subscribe HERE. Enjoy.

Using Your Gifts for Something Bigger than Yourself

29691_404838853504_108094648504_4277118_5636922_n“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always hopes, always perseveres.” I Corinthians 13:4-7

Several years ago I lived in a world that didn’t make God happy. I played on good teams and was paid good money, but I wasn’t happy. It was a dark world with many fake friendships; people who liked me for what I had.

When I met my future wife, she helped me know the true love of God. In the moment that I accepted Jesus and gave my life to Him, everything changed. I received a new lease on life with trusted friends, and in my job as a soccer player I had more respect from, and for,
my teammates.

In return, God touched my heart to share His blessings with the other teammates. In feeling called to do this, I started to make gospel CD’s to give to other teammates, and every chance I told them about Jesus.

I noticed that God changed my life using soccer as a weapon to talk more about His Kingdom and glory. What weapons has God given you to use?

By Diego Jose Martins

Diego Jose Martins is a professional soccer player and contributor to Sports Spectrum magazine. This devotional is taken from our most recent Training Table. Log in here to access our most recent Training Table. Subscribe here to receive 12 issues a year and a daily sports-related devotional.

Louis Zamperini dies at age 97

Last week, the world lost a true hero and true example of Christ: Louis “Louie” Zamperini. He was 97. He ran in the 1936 Berlin Olympics, he was a World War II hero and POW, and he spoke on forgiveness every chance he had — even going and witnessing, after the war, to the very Japanese prison guards who severely beat him for two years.

“I get so many letters from Christians,” says Zamperini in a story written by the Billy Graham Evangelical Association in 2011, “and some of them are having a tough time. I write back and share Scripture with them.”

He describes a letter he received recently from a man who had been fired from his job.

“This man was a Christian and forgave everyone else in his life, but he had a hard time forgiving the boss who fired him. He hated the man. But then he read in ‘Unbroken’ how I forgave the POW prison guard.” Now this man has not only forgiven his boss, he is praying for him.

Zamperini’s biography, Unbroken, became a New York Times No. 1 bestseller in 2010.

A movie by the same name will be released on Christmas Day of this year.

An American Revolution

2004_July_Aug_TimHowardCoverAs soon as he crossed the Atlantic Ocean, Tim Howard began to open people’s eyes. Here was an American goalie playing at the top level in soccer-crazy England.

The 25-year-old Howard, who spent nearly six seasons with the New York/New Jersey MetroStars, signed with Manchester United of England’s Premier League last July, and he made an immediate impact upon reaching the United Kingdom. In fact, Howard helped Man U capture the coveted FA Cup on May 22 by shutting out Millwall 3-0 in the deciding game.

Click here to read the remainder of this throwback story on Tim Howard from Sports Spectrum’s July/August 2004 issue…

Fill Me Up

cha-081009-retirements“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” John 10:10

What does a satisfying life look like? This question is something I chased after for a long time. It was something that, deep down, I longed for; to live a life that satisfied my heart but also made a difference in the lives of others. It was not until I was in my early 20’s that I came to see that God created me to be in a relationship with Him, but that He also gave me gifts that could be used to honor Him and serve others.

I always loved playing soccer and competing, but for most of my life I did it for the wrong reasons. I only started to understand the life that God really had in store for me when I learned how to use my gifts to build relationships, bridge cultural gaps, and share the message of hope around the world.

For the past 14 years, I have had the chance to play soccer professionally, but more than that I have had the chance to travel the world and tell others the story of the Lord who changed my life.

Christ desires to give us a life that satisfies our hearts and impacts the world. My hope for you is that you first enter the most important relationship with Christ, and then secondly, see how God desires to use you. When these two things happen, I truly believe you will have the full life that Christ offers.

By Dustin Swinehart

Dustin Swinehart is a professional soccer player and contributor to Sports Spectrum magazine. This devotional is taken from our most recent Training Table. Log in here to access our most recent Training Table. Subscribe here to receive 12 issues a year and a daily sports-related devotional.

Beyond The Field

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Chargers’ wide receiver Vincent Brown is anything but your typical NFL player. Off the field, the down-to-earth Upland, California, native is at home in jeans and Converse playing the drums with the energy of a teenager! On the field, the fourth year player is one of quarterback Philip Rivers’ top targets.

During the 2013 season, Brown played a pivotal role in helping San Diego reach the playoffs, pulling down 41 receptions for 472 yards. The Bolts didn’t advance past the third game of the playoffs, but for Brown, the entire experience was thrilling. The season served as a huge comeback year after limited playing time his rookie year in 2011 because of a hamstring injury—and then suffering a broken ankle during the 2012 preseason.

“God really got my attention [with the ankle],” shares the 25-year-old. “Taking away football shifted my thinking to put me on the right track—that football is important, but there is nothing more important than God. It was a hard experience to go through, but the growth I had through that process was amazing.”

“The first three weeks, I was stuck on my couch and couldn’t move,” Brown says. “I physically couldn’t do anything in my own power. Every time I went to make a decision, I realized that all my strength and power came from God. That’s exactly where he wanted me to be; God first, and everything else falls into place, just like Scripture says.”

Studying the Word, going to Bible study, and finding teammates to stay accountable with has made all the difference in Brown’s walk with Christ while living in the limelight. He attends the Rock Church in San Diego, is involved in a few Bible studies, and regularly meets with teammate Darrell Stuckey and FCA’s Colin Sinclair.

“Meeting with others helps me keep on track, and keep accountable with each other,” he says. “I try to just focus on using the gifts God gave me to show God’s love. That’s what I’m all about. I’m just a normal guy.” Brown’s goals entering this season are to play his role on the offense, to take advantage of every opportunity that comes his way, and to praise God through it all. “I want to praise God in football and to let people know who God is, and not be afraid to take the step out to play for him,” he sums. “I want to worship God, and that’s how football is for me.”

A lot of guys point up to the sky when they score a touchdown, and whether or not it’s sincere, for Brown it is, and he makes sure to kneel in a prayer of thanks. “I was never the biggest or strongest athlete,” says the San Diego State University graduate. “I had to work really hard to get where I’m at. I would stay after practice and take extra reps to get better.”

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That hard work has given him an amazing platform to share more about his Savior, including a special moment that took place during a recent offseason vacation. Brown and a few teammates traveled to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, to relax and unwind. “God taught me that He is everywhere, even when you’re on vacation,” he shares. “I remember sitting on the balcony of the hotel, and God put it on my heart that there was something that He wanted me to do there.”

What happened next is what Brown considers not only the highlight of his trip, but also one of his most significant experiences of seeing the power of the Holy Spirit work in someone’s heart. “That evening, we went down to the restaurant area of the hotel, and a man we had met the night before approached us,” says Brown. “He came up and said, ‘I don’t know what it is, but I’m drawn to you guys. There’s something different about you. I want to know what it is.’”

Brown and a friend shared their faith stories with the man, and eventually led him to the Lord that evening. “The Holy Spirit was moving in that place,” he shares. “I could have played a football
game I was so hyped up after that.”

The meaningful story is just another reason why Vincent Brown is not your typical NFL player. He has a heart for impacting the world around him, and isn’t afraid to step out in faith and share the Good News of what Christ has done in his life. This fall, Brown will be hyped up for the gridiron, and who knows, he may just help the Chargers reach the playoffs again.

By Jenna Sampson
 

 

Heart For Haiti

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During the NFL off-season, most players spend time vacationing with their families, participating in charity golf tournaments, and renegotiating contracts. New York Jets wide receiver David Nelson does something a little different during his time away from the gridiron. In fact, a lot different!

After a life changing missions trip to Haiti in the spring of 2012, Nelson and his two brothers founded the orphan ministry I’m Me. The organization is raising up a generation of fatherless children to find their true identity in Christ, in the midst of a third world country suffering from destruction and hopelessness. He spends up to two months of the offseason in Haiti, and most of his free time stateside is spent running the organization, networking, speaking, and planning group trips.

“When we give them a hug, for some of them, it’s the only hug from a father figure they’ve gotten,” says Nelson. “I get emotional thinking about it. There are some talented, incredible children, but there’s no one helping them go to school. They’re thinking about getting food and having a place to sleep at night. They’ve never gotten to dream or think about what they want to be when they grow up.”

“My offseason used to consist of walks with my dog, golf, workouts and a lot of Xbox,” the 27-year-old Nelson admits. “Now, even during the season, this is my priority. James 1:27 was not a calling for me, it was a command. Most people say they feel called to do something, but in this situation, God was saying, ‘David this is what I have for you and for your life,’ and all he needed me to say was yes. For me this isn’t something I do for a hobby, this is my heart. This is why I was put on this earth.”

His commitment to I’m Me is clearly important, but it doesn’t overshadow what the 6-5 receiver is doing on the football field.

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Nelson grew up playing football in the Lone Star State, and went on to play college ball at Florida with legendary quarterback Tim Tebow. In fact, it was Nelson that caught Tebow’s infamous jump pass in the end zone to win the 2009 BCS championship.

And while Nelson claims he was a surface Christian until that 2012 trip to Haiti, there is no doubt in his mind that Tebow helped water that seed of faith growing inside of his heart during his time at Florida.

“I was saved and baptized in the 8th grade during the typical church camp experience,” he shares. “My friends all went up to accept Christ, so I did too. It was an external thing for me though….I didn’t feel a change on the inside. I went to church, was in Bible studies, was involved in FCA…it all looked good on paper. I went to chapel during college, I had lunch with the team chaplain once a month, and everyone thought I was a good Christian guy, but it was a mask. I never had that heart change. God was good enough for me on Sunday mornings, God was good enough for me at Bible studies, but He wasn’t good enough for me to spend time with Him or know Him or dive deeper.”

Nelson shares that teammate Tebow took a special interest in him during college, and even invited him to tag along to a prison ministry. “The first time I went, it was really profound,” he shares. “I’d seen him in the locker room, in interviews, with his buddies, but I’d never seen him speaking in an environment like that. He was boldly proclaiming the name of Jesus to these people and it was fearlessly. You could feel the darkness in the room. He was probably only 21 years old at the time, and I’ll never forget it.”

Tebow continued to encourage him in his walk with the Lord. “It was never one of those things where Tim said, ‘hey you’re not living right,’ it was like, ‘I see something in you, I believe in you,’” he shares. “I thought it was annoying. I was so consumed with myself and what I wanted. When he said he believed in me, it struck my heart, but on the outside, my brain was saying, ‘I don’t want that yet.’ But that seed that he watered, blossomed during that Haiti trip in 2012.” During the trip, Nelson had a true heart change and internal transformation, and in his words, it was something straight out of Philippians 3:7: But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ.

“It was the first time I experienced something deeper,” he explains. “It was the true majestic love of our savior and it was through the eyes of a 4-year-old kid that really impacted me. It rocked my world. I got back from Haiti, and things I valued before the trip, no longer had any value to me. Money? I don’t need it. My paradigm shifted, and the veil was torn from my eyes for the first time.”

At the same time, on the football field during the fall of 2012, Nelson was poised to be the Bills’ top receiver. Just a few short years prior, in 2010, he had been an undrafted free agent fighting his way onto the roster. In 2011, he had an incredible season, becoming one of the main ingredients of the offense posting 61 receptions for 658 yards.

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But everything came to a screeching halt during that first game of the 2012 season when he tore his ACL. It proved to be the biggest valley of his sports career.

“Having my entire season wiped away in one moment was tough,” he admits. “I was sitting in the locker room, and I was devastated. At that point, I wasn’t even sure if I would play again. I put my faith and trust in God about whether or not I’d make it back on the field. I grew so much deeper in my faith during that time. There were days just a few months after surgery that my knee just wasn’t responding like I thought it would. There’s always that aha afterwards, after the storm, though. I am so appreciative of it, because I was able to spend my free time during the season starting this ministry.”

But Nelson made it back onto the field, and while he was cut by the Browns during the 2013 preseason, teams started calling, and he eventually settled onto the Jets roster. He scrambled to make up for lost time, and ended up returning to his pre-injury form by the end of the season, posting 423 yards. “I wanted to pay [GM John Idzik and Rex Ryan] back for their belief in me, and for taking a chance on a player when not many other teams were,” he said at the time.

This time around, his two-year contract with the Jets is affording him the opportunity to have a full 2014 offseason with the Jets’ coaching staff and QB Geno Smith. And at the pace Nelson reached at the end of last season, there’s no doubt he’ll be ready to take the field this fall, make Jets fans proud, and continue to change lives in Haiti!

By Jenna Sampson
 

 

Uncommon Challenge