It was a Thursday in 2007. UGA was scheduled to play Oklahoma State on Saturday and it was the headline game of the first week of the College Football season. ESPN was already there and so was I. My Pastor and Friend Jentezen Franklin had been invited to do an (optional) devotion for the team after practice that day by some of the staff and chaplains. We went early and had all access to the practice. It was a thrill to see the talent and hear the game plan from a close up view. I was extremely impressed with Coach Richt and staff in how they prepared the young men for the game, the season and ultimately life. There was no excessive criticism, but plenty of correction and encouragement. The team appeared very ready to play and eager to get the year started. It was a HOT end of August day, the players were exhausted and hydrating as they left the field and entered the locker room area. Coach Richt stood at the door and spoke, high fived, fist bumped (some sort of touch) on each player as they entered. Coach was brief and positive in his practice summary and then he invited the team to a devotion going on later in the film room. The response to his invite was minimal. He followed up by inviting them again and informed the team that Jentezen Franklin was speaking describing him as a worldwide known preacher who could be anywhere in the world at that moment. “You are not at all required to attend this meeting, but If you care about your future, I strongly suggest you come hear what this guy has to say.” A couple dozen expressed an interest this time. Coach Richt then gave a third invitation, “Guys, anyone who comes to this devotion will get your own Large pizza!” After about 30 minutes and an opportunity for the players to get a shower and a couple sports drinks, 87 members of the team came to that devotion!!!
Jentezen did a masterful job speaking to the young men about their future and their faith. At the end of this (optional) devotion 21 players made a profession of faith. Many rededicated their lives while others accepted Christ for the first time. We prayed with the players, heard their confessions and listened as they confided in us some things they were struggling with as 18-20 year old men. These players were shown not only the love of Christ that day, but the sincere concern for their future and eternal well being by their Head Coach Mark Richt.
Today, UGA fired Mark Richt. Words cannot express the frustration and disappointment I feel. It seems that the A.D. and powers that be have forgotten Bulldog football in the years prior to Coach Richt. .500 Seasons, no bowl games and losses to then Div. IAA schools were the norm under Jim Donnan and Ray Goff. Coach Richt changed all of that and averages just under 10 wins per season. He will have a chance for yet another 10 win season with the forthcoming bowl berth in a few weeks.
Coach Richt’s success on the field speaks for itself and cannot be disputed, but there is not and in this day and time, will most likely never be a Coach who has the off the field impact that Mark Richt has had on his players. Today is a sad day for Coaching, College Football and countless young men who will not have the opportunity to play for Coach Richt. Coach Richt is a champion and he will be just fine. By the way the Dawgs won that game in 2007 over Oklahoma State 35-14 on the way to an 11 win season which included wins over Alabama and in the Sugar Bowl.
For the past 12 years I have posted my list. It began as an attempt to bring awareness to the “Power of the Pen on Paper.” In the past, I would share this list at our Wednesday mid-week service at Free Chapel, but since moving to TN, I continue to see the benefits in simply noting these things and posting on my website and social media. Of course, some are very serious and others are meant to generate a courtesy laugh, but all of the these 10 have a certain relevance in my life. I CHALLENGE YOU TO WRITE YOUR LIST AND POST IT. List making is powerful and focuses our attention on the important.
2016 Thanksgiving Top 10
- I woke up this morning. Thankful for the opportunity of another day.
- My Keurig (one cup) coffee maker. (game changer in the morning)
- Change of Seasons in the South. (Beautiful leaves, cool nip in weather and a sweater)
- MY JOB. Millions are out of work or hate their job. I enjoy all of the opportunities God has provided for me to provide for my family.
- Chimichangas, Chips and Salsa and a Coke. Enough said!
- A Healthy family- Grandparents, My Parents and all of us that have our health. (WE are Praying for those of you that are fighting health battles)
- America- Not perfect, but still the Envy of all other Nations of the world. We STAND for our National Anthem, Salute our Flag and Sing God Bless America.
- High School / College Athletics. (I love to watch kids compete for the love of the sport- not because they get paid)
- Psalm 23 and 27, Phil. 4:13 and John 3:16 (passages from the Greatest book ever written)
- A home with a fireplace, an incredible wife and 2 wonderful children. What a Country! What a Savior!
- A wonderful Church @nccog and Pastor Mark Williams who provide hope and wisdom each week for all of us attending. I hope you are actively involved in a great Church.
Yes, I posted 11 because I always needed the bonus question in school to push me over the top. Like you, I could list 100 things I am thankful for, but I hope these few cause you to Think, List and Post. It’s a humbling exercise. Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours from the Richie Hughes Family. God bless you all.
As we approach this Easter Sunday and celebrate the most important day of the year, I am completely overwhelmed by the love of our Savior. It seems the more I study Christ and the longer I live, the more the crucifixion and resurrection impact me. Mere words fail miserably in attempting to describe what Jesus did. My simple mind just cannot fathom a Savior that would die the most physically painful death possible for the very worst in us. My diploma, degree, advanced degree, etc. still renders me helpless when trying to comprehend a Christ that would allow himself to be crucified when he could have blinked and ended the beatings instantaneously.
What kind of love could possibly prompt a God to leave Heaven and take on the body of a man for one singular purpose- To die a brutal and humiliating death? Authors and Song Writers have penned their best efforts for years to express their feelings and the significance of these events.
As children we sang:
“Red and Yellow, Black and White, we are precious in HIS sight, Jesus loves the little children of the World.
“He’s got the whole world in HIS hands.”
“Jesus loves me this I know, for the Bible tells me so.”
As simple as these lyrics are, they get the point across to us as well as the more articulate songs we learn as teens and adults. Probably the most popular contemporary song writer and one of the greatest communicators teamed up on this one:
“Indescribable, uncontainable, You placed the stars in the sky and You know them by name You are amazing God” – Chris Tomlin and Louie Giglio
But as well worded as this is, I still find these lyrics painfully inadequate. In 1970, one of the greatest song writers of all time gave it his best shot.
“Jesus, Jesus, Jesus, there’s just something about that name”- Bill Gaither
In my opinion, these lyrics may have hit the target best. When I was writing, I remember days that flowed and other days that I experienced serious writer’s block. Sometimes the words just cannot describe what I want to say. I picture Bill Gaither overwhelmed by the love of his Savior and completely incapable of adequately describing Jesus. “Master, Savior Jesus, Like the fragrance after the rain.” That is a terrific line, but Gaither had to feel he was still coming up short. “Kings and Kingdoms will all pass away” – Another great line, but when Gaither finally realized the words to describe Jesus would never match the matchless, he said it like we do so many times. When we can’t quite put our finger on something, we say, “there’s just something about ________.” So when Gaither says, “there’s just something about that name,” I picture one of the most talented and anointed writers of all time admitting that there is no way a man could ever paint a picture of Christ’s undying love for us.
Maybe Bill Gaither’s simple, possibly even writer’s blocked words say it best: “Jesus, Jesus, Jesus, THERE’S JUST SOMETHING ABOUT THAT NAME.” WHAT A SAVIOR!!