Behind The Scenes

Behind The Scenes
Before the game can be played, the field must be made ready. Is your field ready?

Wednesday, March 26, 2014


The word “miracle” is thrown around quite a bit in the sports world. Sometimes it actually applies.

It’s prevalent this time of year, especially, thanks to March Madness. 

Whether it’s a massive upset by a lower seed  in the first round (remember 15th-seeded Richmond over No. 2 seed Syracuse in 1991?), or perhaps a giant-slaying in the NCAA Championship (N.C. State over Houston in ‘83, Villanova’s near-perfect second half to beat Georgetown in ’85), the tournament seems to bring high-caliber drama more consistently than any other event.

(AUTHOR’S NOTE: Don’t get me started on this year’s tournament to date. My bracket has more red lines than the old Soviet national hockey team. More on them in a moment).

More often than not, rather than a game itself, we think of miracles happening in a single moment within the game. Who can forget these, complete with links to the TV or Radio calls:

-          - Chritian Laetner’s buzzer beater vs. Kentucky

-          - Buck Belue to Lindsay Scott for a Sugar Bowl clinching 93-yard TD

-         -  Bobby Thomson’s “Shot Heard ‘Round The World” that beat the Brooklyn Dodgers in the final game of a 3-game playoff in 1951

-          - Or, as much as it pains me to say it (Bengals fan that I am), the Immaculate Reception. It is still, arguably, the single greatest “miracle” play in all of sports

Of course only one use of the word “miracle” has become part of the American sports lexicon – the Miracle on Ice, in which the United States Olympic Hockey Team – college kids – took down the mighty Soviet Union in the semifinals of the 1980 Winter Olympics in Lake Placid, NY.

It is, perhaps, the defining moment in all of American Sports

Biblically, miracles are almost always supernatural events. From the parting of the Red Sea, to the virgin birth of Jesus, all the way through His resurrection from the dead, the Bible provides documentation of these events for us to both study and marvel.

And because of the nature of those happenings from God’s Word, we often make the mistake of believing miracles don’t occur today.

But they do. You just have to recognize them. Usually it occurs in hindsight.

Speaking personally, in 26 months  and counting without steady employment, it’s a miracle my family and I are still in our house. God has provided our needs (He’s also taught me the difference between wants and needs. I have a habit of getting them confused).

Not once has our power been shut off. Never have we been without food.  We’ve always had a car and found a way to distribute each of us to our needed destination.

There have been times that I didn’t know where, when or if the next paycheck was coming. Still don’t. And yet without fail God made a way. Not always the way I would have chosen, or at the time I wanted.

But in His way, on His time, the Heavenly Father has provided us with exactly what it’s taken to get by month to month.

It’s taken some major adjusting on our part. On my part, especially. But more and more every day I see myself relying on the providence of God rather than the strength of Dan. Because God is our only strength. And if history has taught me anything these past 26 months, it’s that the more I try to fix things the worse they get broken.

Oh, I still have my moments. Too many of them in fact. But at least I’m aware now, and it doesn’t take me nearly as long to figure out I’m only making the situation worse.

That alone might even be considered a divine miracle. Or at least a strong work in progress with Jesus patiently guiding the course.

No, friends, there are miracles around us. Everyday. God is still God. He works in His own way on His own time. But make no mistake about it. He works.

It’s up to us to pay attention. To study His Word more frequently, more passionately. And with the guidance of the Holy Spirit more and more of His work will be revealed to us.

Given where my life was headed until that wonderful morning of June 10, 2012, the fact that my family is still together is yet another of God’s miracles. And other than my salvation, it’s the one I’m most thankful for today.

Miracles still happen. We just have to know where to find them.

This article can also been seen soon at - the Job 31 Ministries website.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Joining A New Team

Beginning this week I will be writing a once-per-week article on sports, with a Christian theme, for a wonderful website -

The ministry is aimed at men and encourages them to "live in Godly integrity, based upon the Biblical blueprint of Job, Chapter 31."

I hope you'll check out the site. I'm both humbled and excited to be asked to contribute on a regular basis. Below you'll find my first article, before it appears on the site:

I’ve spent my entire life loving the game of baseball.

I’ve played it. Coached it. Been a fan from youth to adulthood. And for the last 10 years, I’ve broadcasted it at the Division I college level.

Passion for the game is something I inherited from my grandfather. He died when I was 11, which is far too soon for a boy to lose a grandparent. But it was more than enough time for him to instill in me the wondrous beauty of the sport.

More than any other game, baseball’s greatest lesson is handling failure. It’s been written a thousand times before, but that doesn’t make it any less true: Baseball is a game where the best of the best fail seven of every 10 times at-bat. Some of them make the Hall of Fame.

Or, as Jim Bouton once famously wrote, “It’s a round ball and a round bat, and you have to hit it square.”

Perseverance, adversity, stress, teamwork, trust…all lessons learned from both the diamond itself and the confines of the locker room or team bus.

Isn’t it amazing that those same lessons are part of the sanctification process God uses to make us more Christ-like after we give our lives over to Jesus? And just like baseball, no matter how good you are or how long you’ve been in the game, you’re still going to fail more than you succeed.

When I finally surrendered to Jesus almost 22 months ago (to hear my testimony, follow this link - I kept waiting for my “Paul on the road to Damascus” moment. The moment I would arrive.

But the truth is we never arrive. Not until the day we actually stand before The Lord and He utters the words “Well done…”

That fact is driven home each week at prayer breakfasts I attend with other men from our church. Men who, many of them, have been walking with Jesus for 20, 30, maybe 40 years or more. And these intimate times of Bible study and sharing reveal that even they struggle with the same issues, and constantly find themselves humbled before God seeking guidance.

Let’s go back to the baseball field, where just this week I’ve witnessed something that draws a near-perfect parallel to the issue at hand.

Our centerfielder, a senior, is a full-time starter for the first time in 2014. His twin brother has been the starting shortstop pretty much since the day they walked onto campus. But for this particular kid it’s been a struggle.

To his credit, the outfielder never wavered in his work ethic. For three years he trained, hit, fielded…whatever it took, in practice or after, to improve both his game and his chances of increased playing time.

This fall it all began to fall into place. His swing shortened up and he started hitting line drives everywhere. His play in the outfield was superb. And as January’s preseason practice commenced, he only strengthened his hold on a starting spot.

When Opening Day came, he was in the lineup. Hitting leadoff, in fact, and playing right field.

As the first portion of the season has worn on, the kid has been among the most consistent players on a Furman team having difficulty finding its footing in the pre-conference schedule. A batting average at or near .300 all year, he has been among the team leaders in RBIs and has turned in more than a handful of highlight-reel catches in the outfield.

And last weekend, when he singled sharply to right-center to drive in the winning run in the 10th inning of a victory over Hofstra, it seemed to signal he was here to stay.

But baseball is a humbling game. Earlier this week Furman appeared certain to win a pitcher’s duel with North Carolina Central. Leading 2-0 heading to the ninth inning, Central managed to get runners to second and third with two outs. The man at the plate hit a fly ball that, even with a bit of ground to cover, looked to be an easy play for the outfielder. And it was. He got to it in plenty of time.

Only he dropped the ball.

Both runs scored to tie the game. In the bottom of the inning, with a chance to drive in his brother from third base with the winning run and redeem himself, he grounded weakly to a drawn-in shortstop who started a rundown that erased his brother from the base paths. Furman lost in 10 innings, 3-2.

I watched with great interest – and empathy – as the young man stood on the outskirts of the team huddle, then never taking his eyes off his shoelaces as he walked slowly, painfully toward the locker room.
Just when it appeared he had arrived, the cruel side of the game revealed itself. A stark reminder that you can never take anything – even a routine fly ball – for granted.

Isn’t that a microcosm of the Christian life? Satan will use any and every trick at his disposal, including allowing us to get extremely comfortable and then, without warning, viciously yanking the rug out from under us.

But Jesus is there to help pick us up. Dust us off. Lead us back to the Father for both forgiveness and instruction, and then walks beside us as we head back out into our daily lives. Knowing the process will repeat itself again and again.

One final note about the kid from Furman. He is a Christian. Unabashed in his faith.

After the game I felt led to send him a message of support. God gave you this burden because He knew you could handle it, I told him. And maybe, somewhere down the line, he will be the one consoling a teammate or player he’s coaching whose mistake cost his team the big game.

I left him just as I leave you, with Paul’s words in Romans 5:3, written from a jail cell urging other believers to persevere:

“And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; And patience, experience; And experience, hope: And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.”

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Defying Einstein...Or Whoever

There's a quote often attributed to Albert Einstein. I don't know if he actually said it or not. But someone did, and it goes like this:

The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.

I can certainly see the wisdom in that quote. Following the same pattern of failure, or self-destruction, time after time is enough to make those around wonder if you're not, in fact, crazy. At the very least.

But there's also a fallacy in ol' Al's (or whoever) statement. At least for Christians. Because no matter how often life beats us down, we are to respond by doing the same things over and over again - pray, and work hard to increase our faith.

Everyone's got a story of hardship. I'm certainly no better or worse than anyone else. But I share the following as an example of Al's (or whoever) flawed theory.

In the 20 months since I gave my life to Jesus Christ, success by the world's standard has eluded me. It actually started in the months prior to that wonderful day - June 10, 2012. But for the purpose of today's blog we'll focus on the post-salvation time frame.

Since that day in June:

- I've had two self-started media ventures fail that added to my family's financial woes (remember, I lost my 11-year daily radio sports talk show in late Jan. of the same year).

- I had to walk away from my most recent radio gig after almost six months because of contract issues I simply couldn't reconcile with station management.

- I've had to put my foundation on hold because of the government losing my paperwork.

- We've had one car repossessed. Another totaled and lost in a wreck (thankfully no one was hurt).

- We are struggling to keep up our house payments, and currently losing the battle.

- We have an 18-year old daughter preparing for college (no expense there, right?)

- Attempts to find even mediocre paying jobs that fit my skill set have been fruitless. Almost 47 without a college degree isn't attractive to most employers.

Why am I sharing this today? Most certainly not for sympathy, or to cry woe is me.

No. It's just the opposite. It's to rejoice in the peace I have because of my faith in Jesus, and to give God the glory for what he's done in my life - even if it doesn't meet the world's standard of success.

Don't get me wrong. I want a good-paying job. I want to take care of my family. Any man with even a sliver of responsibility flowing through his veins feels obligated to provide for his wife and children. And when you can't, it's hard to take.

I can promise you; It's not fun to take blow after blow.

The difference, though, is where my heart and treasure lie now. And that's Heaven. I know regardless of what happens to me here on earth, my true reward awaits me. And it's that knowledge, which is a benefit of faith in Jesus, that allows me to remain joyful even during life's storms.

Do I get angry? Sure I do. Depressed? You bet. Wonder why me? Absolutely. I'm human, and those are all characteristics of an imperfect human life.

But since that Sunday morning in June 2012, I've learned to take those feelings, emotions etc. to The Lord in prayer. And with the guiding (and sometimes reprimanding) of the Holy Spirit, I'm learning how to respond.

And it's the same process, time after time. Casting my burdens upon The Lord. And while still struggling in the midst of the storm, finding that peace I'd always heard about and now experience. The peace that surpasses all understanding.

And that, Al (or whoever), is what I do over and over again. Even if the world calls me insane.

And I always get the same result.


Friday, February 21, 2014

I Have Met The Enemy, And He Is Me

So here's a recurring issue in my life.

Pray for God's will. Submit to turning everything over to Him. Then turn around and go about trying fix things myself.

Amazing how quickly the things that don't need fixing get broken. And the things that are already broken get more broken (I resisted the urge to say "brokener," even though I REALLY wanted to. For effect, of course).

It's a fine line I've been walking in the 20 months since giving my life to Jesus Christ. Put legs on your prayers, but don't stomp all over what God is trying to do in your life.

You'd think it would get easier, that each failure would make it even more clear that I have no idea what I'm doing (AUTHOR'S NOTE: I live with two women. Used to be three until my oldest daughter got married. There's no shortage of people available to tell me I don't know what I'm doing. And usually they're correct. But I digress).

Yet Satan isn't going to attack our strengths. It's our weaknesses he preys on. And in my case this is one of the areas the devil seems to be working overtime. Finding myself in that position again now as I transition out of doing a daily radio show, he isn't going to let me slip comfortably into the next phase, whatever it is.

The good news? I serve a God who reigns supreme. And whatever His will for my life, eventually He will get me there. Satan can't stop Him. And neither can I.

It just might take a few painful lessons to learn to get out of the way and let The Lord lead.

That's been the case so far, and I'm thankful for every single one of them. Because as they happen, I understand a little more where He has me headed.

Even if I can't see the exact destination just yet.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Hello...Is This Thing On?

Well, what do you know? The blog still works.

Might be time to take advantage of it. Stay tuned.

Friday, June 28, 2013

Therapy On A Riding Mower

I used to hate cutting grass.

Let me qualify that. I still hate cutting grass if it involves a push mower. Or a weed eater.

The loathing began early. When I was 12 we moved from our house in the lower East End of Williamson, W.Va., to the house my grandfather built in the 1950s. When they moved 30 miles away, we inherited their house.

It was a great move for many reasons. In fact, there were almost no negatives. Almost.

But there was one. Our yard.

Looking at it now, it's tiny. But back then it was just large enough to be a royal pain in the wazoo. Oh, did I mention it sloped downhill at about a 60 degree angle?

My dad deemed me ready to cut the grass almost immediately upon our arrival on the hill. And once a week, I'd get the old blue lawnmower out and start cutting. Back and forth across the slope. Over strategically placed humps and around crevices near the driveway.

 Always thinking to myself that my parents would be sorry if I slipped and lost a foot. Or worse.

(AUTHOR'S NOTE: Year's later, when Angie and I were dating and I was working odd hours, dad tried cutting the grass. He DID slip, and whacked off part of a few toes on one foot. I felt guilty for weeks).

Funny, though, how you can learn life lessons at an early age. When I was a small child, and we visited my grandparents, occasionally my grandfather would be cutting the grass. But not in the conventional method.

To that same blue lawnmower he had attached a long rope. He would stand at the top of the hill, in the driveway, and feed the mower downhill with the rope. Then he'd pull it back up, and do it all over again; repeating the process until the job was done.

Watching him, I used to think he was silly. After cutting the grass a few times myself, I realized he was an unappreciated genius.

Anyway, after the grass was cut came the weedeating. Miles of yellow extension chord, which no matter how well I wound them (I thought) they found ways to entangle themselves while alone in the garage.

The whole process, which could have been accomplished in under 45 minutes, usually took much longer because my lack of enthusiasm had a direct effect on my working speed. Plus, as most of you know, when you spend all week dreading something, the actual task becomes much worse in your mind than in the real world.

As far as I was concerned, I was push-mowing a football field. Uphill. Both ways.

The hatred I felt for the job carried over into adulthood. Up until just a few weeks ago, in fact, I always paid someone to cut my yard.

But a couple of things conspired to change my mind. At least partially.

First, finances. Or lack of them. As the lack of steady work progressed, the proverbial belts have tightened. Among the things to go - my yard man. I resisted the temptation to hold a memorial service.

Secondly, and more importantly, was listening to older men talk at the prayer breakfasts I attend during the week. Getting out every week on the riding mower, they said,  is a chance to not only get some much-needed time alone, but it's a great time to talk over things with God.

And you know what? They're right.

Now, with a borrowed riding mower at my disposal, I look forward to cutting the grass each week. Despite the roar of the engine, it has proven to be quiet time with God. And as the stress has been piling up the last couple of months, those conversations have become more and more precious.

So men, if you're looking for some Divine therapy, hop on the mower and take the Lord for a ride. Talk to Him. Enjoy the peace that fills you as you ride, talk and - this is the important part - listen.

You might find, like I have, that your wife never has to nag you about cutting the grass. In fact, she may get on you for wanting to cut it too often.

And for you guys stuck with only a push mower? Pray for your grass not to grow as quickly and find your peace in the air-conditioned comfort of your home.

The rest of us will make it up for you.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Searching For A New Niche

Thought I would share something tonight.

I mentioned in the first post about my "wandering" in trying to find consistent, gainful employment since my time on Clemson radio ended in Jan. 2012. Yes, the Titanic is taking on water at an alarming rate, but I know God is going to provide for us. His time. His Plan. His Schedule.

As my former pastor, Ray Longenecker would say, that's easy preachin' but hard livin'.

In any event, one of the little things I've looked into is a documentary film project on Minor League Baseball. Rather than explain it here, just go to the link below and check it out for yourself:

I'm not really expecting it to get funded. But it was fun going through the submission process. And wouldn't it be wild if it did?

We find out in 15 days.