Chapel calls an audible, and Brown's talk scores

Travis Brown of Christ's Church of the Valley urged students to aim high and try to fulfill God's expectations, not the world's.

Story by Rick Vacek
Photos by Matt Nykamp
GCU News Bureau

Travis Brown is a football guy. And if there’s one thing football guys have in common, it’s that they like to talk about football.

Nothing wrong with that. They say it’s the greatest team sport, and they’re probably right. They’ll tell you about that, too.

Brown had only a couple of days to prepare for his talk after the scheduled speaker, Ashley Wooldridge, tested positive for COVID-19.

So it was perfectly normal for Brown, Director of Campus Teams for Christ’s Church of the Valley, to kick off his Chapel talk Monday morning in Grand Canyon University Arena with football talk.

He talked about how the members of the Worship team asked him to come up with one word of motivation as they broke their pre-Chapel huddle.

“The word I had us break with today was ‘passion,’” he said after the Worship team provided its customary 15 minutes of musical and spiritual motivation. “I pretty much characterize that band and the worship time in here today as passionate. I love to be around passionate people.”

He talked about his football career – four years as the record-setting quarterback at Northern Arizona University, then seven years in the National Football League as a backup QB.

He was the backup Monday, too. He was called into action when CCV Senior Pastor Ashley Wooldridge tested positive for COVID-19 over the weekend. But Brown’s calm, authoritative speaking style showed CCV has a deep roster.

Vocalist Madison Russell and the Worship team impressed Brown with their passion.

He talked about the sweaty summer training camp with the Indianapolis Colts in Terre Haute, Ind., about having to take the snap – which meant sticking his hands on the center’s hind quarters in 95-degree heat and 95% humidity.  

“Didn’t matter how sweaty it was, guess what the expectations for me were? I still had to get the snap,” he said.

That set in motion the main message of Brown’s talk: Have a game plan for your life that takes into account the fact that the play won’t always get run correctly.

“Conditions in your life will rarely be ideal,” he said, “but the expectations should not change. …

“Are your conditions determining your expectations for your life? Are you allowing people around you to dictate what you do? Are you allowing the media or our society or a profession or social media or something else other than God’s word to dictate the expectations of your life?”

That world around us, Brown added, wants to lower our expectations, and it has been happening since ancient times.

Brown had a different take on the story of David and Goliath, depicted in the book of Samuel.

He pointed to the story of David and Goliath in 1 Samuel 17:28-30, but with a different twist: Before David arrived, the Israelites had been putting on their battle gear – just like football pads – every day only to cower and run in the face of the giant. The daily dose of defeat had destroyed Eliab’s expectations, and he took it out on David:  

When Eliab, David’s oldest brother, heard him speaking with the men, he burned with anger at him and asked, “Why have you come down here? And with whom did you leave those few sheep in the wilderness? I know how conceited you are and how wicked your heart is; you came down only to watch the battle.”

“Now what have I done?” said David. “Can’t I even speak?” He then turned away to someone else and brought up the same matter, and the men answered him as before.

Brown asked his listeners if they had ever been the subject of similar abuse from an older sibling or mentor. Such behavior is indicative of a tendency that has nothing to do with the issues they raise.

“When you’re not doing the things that God has called you to do,” Brown said, “there are some things that surface in your life that should be warning signs for you.”

He listed four signs that you’ve been sacked by that losing mindset:

● Misguided anger

“Anger as an emotion is not bad, but when it’s aimed in the wrong direction, it’s an indication that something is off in your life,” Brown said.

Eliab knew he should be fighting Goliath, but instead he directed his anger at his little brother.

“Probably within a couple miles from here, there are hundreds and maybe thousands of kids who are being bought and sold into the sex-trafficking industry. We should be angry at that,” Brown said. “There’s thousands of babies who get killed every single year, and we should be angry at that – not what somebody posted on social media.”

● Becoming an expert in other people’s lives

For example, Eliab wanted to talk about David leaving the sheep in the wilderness.

“You ever had someone become an expert in your life? They really don’t have a voice, but they tell you exactly what you should do and how you should do it and when you should do it,” Brown said. “There’s probably an indication that they are not doing something that God has called them to do.”

● Tearing down other people

Again, it’s right there in the passage from Samuel: Eliab tried to belittle David.

Brown likened it to thinking this: “If I can’t reach this level of greatness, I’m not going to allow you to get there.”

Instead, he said, “We should be lifting people up, not bringing people down.”

● Misperception of reality

Finally, Eliab told David that he “came down only to watch the battle.”

Brown suggested that David could have sarcastically responded, “What battle? All I see is you guys lining up for battle, another guy coming out, you guys dropping back in fear. There’s no battle. What battle are you talking about?”

Look around in your world today, Brown added. Look in a mirror, too.

“Do you know people who aren’t doing what God has called them to do? Probably the more important question is, are you one of these people?” he asked.

“… The story of David and Goliath, listen, does not originate from a brave shepherd boy fighting a giant – that’s all we think about. The story originates from capable, able men who are called to fight who chose not to step into their calling.

“God will accomplish what He wants to accomplish with or without you. I would rather be a part of what He’s doing.”

Brown closed with another football analogy. (Football guys … remember?) He drew a mental picture of a football team getting in the huddle, calling the play and then going to the bench over and over without going to the line of scrimmage.

How ridiculous would that look to the people watching?

“You guys are gathering in here for a huddle,” he said. “In this space every Monday you get encouragement, you get correction, you get instruction, you get all these things. You get fellowship. You get to be with each other. And then you sharpen each other. And then you break out of here, and the world is waiting to see whether or not you’re going to run the play. …

“It’s time to go run the play.”

Even if taking the snap is less than ideal.

● Chapel replay

● Next Monday’s speaker: Ron Merrell, Heights Church

Contact Rick Vacek at (602) 639-8203 or [email protected].


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