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Line Changes: Who Are You Refreshing?

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Line Changes: Who Are You Refreshing?

Written By Dean Clark

For I have derived much joy and comfort from your love, my brother, because the hearts of the saints have been refreshed through you. Philemon 7

Hockey is a unique sport in so many ways that comparing it to other sports it is often times difficult to make an actual "apples to apples" comparison.  Hockey is the only sport that allows "on-the-fly".  Basketball, soccer, football and baseball all have to wait for the whistle to sound to change out the players on the field.  Hockey is a series of player changes that happen while play is occurring and can often times have a great effect on the momentum of the game, for better or for worse.

Ryan Walter and Mike Johnston in their book, Hockey plays and Strategies, give 6 principles about line changes and the role players and coaches play in the line change.

  • Make changes while attacking the opponent rather than on the retreat or on the back check.
  • Changing on the fly (as the play continues) must happen strategically and geographically.
  • Players on the bench must stay alert at all times.
  • Players on the bench must be aware of on-ice happenings as they are prepping to change.
  • Momentum can be increased by the fluidity of the player changes.
  • Timing of changes is critical.

Coaches use the line change to get the match up they want, to exploit a deficit of the other team or take advantage of a strength of his team. The 6 principles mentioned above are essential to hockey play and will help your game, but what is the reason for the line change?  Who has ever been on the ice longer than they know they should?  You know the feeling.  You try to skate but you feel like you are skating in cement as the lactic acid builds in your muscles.  Your lungs are burning as you gasp for air that is not forthcoming.  All you want to do is get to the bench, sit down, to get an unlabored breath of air and a quick drink of water to get refreshed.

How do line changes apply to my walk as a Christian?

When we look into God's word, there are super stars that God uniquely used to spread the Gospel message about Jesus.  The Apostle Paul is my hero of the faith of biblical superstars.  Compare Paul to Wayne Gretzky or Mario Lemieux, two of the greatest hockey players!  Both of those Hockey Hall of Famers, in light of their awesome talent, were human and both needed to get off the ice to catch a breath of air, to be refreshed.

Paul writes in Philemon 7, "For I have derived much joy and comfort from your love, my brother, because the hearts of the saints have been refreshed through you."  Paul is talking about the man Philemon who supported and hosted a church for Christians in the Roman city of Colossae.  Paul can identify with the Christians of Colossae who have benefited from Philemon's generosity because Paul has been benefited and is refreshed. These biblical super-stars were humans like you and me.  They got discouraged, tired and beaten down. However, at the right time, God initiates a line change, brings the support players into the game, like Philemon, and allows the "superstar" to get refreshed.

The impact the Apostle Paul has had on the Kingdom of God is immense; however, his impact would not have been possible without his teammates initiating line changes.  These biblical teammates were engaged in the ministry because they were attentive to the situation (on the biblical ice), saw the fatigue of Paul, or other Christians, and in a timely manner entered and then exited the game at the appropriate time.

We all want to get into the game and have an outstanding shift.  Now, get into the game that will have an eternal impact and refresh those who are ministering to you!

Discussion Questions

  1. Who are you encouraging/refreshing in your circle of friends?
  2. Do you have your head in the eternal game of God? If not how do you?
  3. Do you see signs of fatigue in your pastor but more importantly do you know ways to encourage and refresh him?
  4. Do you need to come off the ministry ice to be refreshed?

Additional Reading

  1. Psalms 23:1-3
  2. Psalms 19:7
  3. Romans 15:32
  4. 2 Corinthians 7:13
  5. Philemon 20

About the Author

Dean Clark lives in Louisville, Ky. and is a member of the FCA Hockey Board of Directors.  Dean and his wife Raina have two married daughters who skated, one in figure skating and the other hockey.  Outside of the hockey world, Dean makes a living as an airline pilot for a large brown freight company. He has been an avid fan of hockey but only started playing 6 years ago and loves the competitive nature of the sport!


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