This past Tuesday it was my privilege to make the drive to Clemson to attend the first time ever FCA (Fellowship of Christian Athletes) fundraiser for Clemson…and surrounding area FCA’s! I absolutely loved seeing all the people I never get to see–from the IPTAY Director to Coach Swinney and his wife, Kathleen. I loved getting to hear from James Trapp, former football player and sprinter.

For this particular fundraiser people sponsored tables so our family company sponsored a table. At our table sat, two Gamecocks (Bill, my husband, and Carol Odom), two Tennessee Volunteers (Tony and Frances Graham) and four Tigers, (me, Al Odom, Brewer and his roommate Anderson). Even though we don’t pull for the same teams, one thing we all have in common is a desire to see young people hear about Jesus and be encouraged in their walk with Christ, which is exactly the intent of FCA!

I’d like to share the FCA Values with you: “Our relationship will demonstrate steadfast commitment to Jesus Christ and His word through Integrity, Serving, Teamwork, and Excellence.”

Integrity-We will demonstrate Christ-like wholeness, privately and publicly. (Proverbs11:3)
Serving-We will model Jesus’ example of serving. (John 13:1-17)
Teamwork-We will express our unity in Christ in all relationships. (Philippians 2:1-4)
Excellence– We will honor and glorify God in all we do. (Colossians 3:23-24).

I can assure you this message was expressed in multiple ways last Tuesday.

I loved hearing the keynote speaker, Coach Swinney…..not only do I feel close to him because of the “Tigers and Clemson,” but because of his passion for Christ for which he is unapologetic… much so….that I know he must be doing much for Christ because of his extreme persecution from the media. In fact, God’s Word speaks specifically about the persecution of Christians:

Matthew 5:10-12, “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, For theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven….”

2 Timothy 3:1-5,10-14, “”But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God…. And from such people turn away!”

“…all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution. But evil men and impostors will grow worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived. But you must continue in the things which you have learned …”

I most of all love that Coach Swinney is unashamed of the gospel and where his hope and surrender is….to a HOLY GOD! I walked away from the FCA Gala knowing this……regardless of the wins and losses of Clemson Football…..Coach Swinney, his staff and his players are Winners in the Kingdom of Christ. That is what matters in the GRAND Scheme of life!

I can assure you that Coach Swinney wants to win more than anyone. His desire is excellence, but not just on the field. Anyone who loves Christ and has an athlete for a child would love to have him as a coach. He has a heart for Christ, thus giving him a heart for the WHOLE KID, not just their performance on Saturdays! To God BE the Glory…I am so thankful that there are Christian coaches in College Athletics making a REAL Difference in the lives of young people that extends way beyond their four years in college.

It is my belief that many players at Clemson will graduate living Philippians 1:12-14 because of Coach Swinney and his staff’s commitment to the “True Priorities”.

“But I want you to know, brethren, that the things which happened to me have actually turned out for the furtherance of the gospel, so that it has become evident to the whole palace guard, and to all the rest, that my chains are in Christ; and most of the brethren in the Lord, having become confident by my chains, are much more bold to speak the word without fear.”

You don’t have to be an athlete to demonstrate the values of integrity, serving, teamwork, and excellence. May we all strive to demonstrate these values for the furtherance of the gospel.

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