Monday, December 29, 2008

December 29, 2008 - Clock Management

Here we are at the dawn of a new year. Time just keeps on ticking away. The question is “What are you gonna do with that time?” In sports we call it clock management.

As we approach the New Year I would like to encourage and remind you of a few things:

We don’t have a big clock in the sky to tell us how much time is left in our “game.” Yet we do see things lining up Scripturally that Christ’s return appears very near. And we obviously don’t know our own individual timelines.

1 Do not boast about tomorrow,
For you do not know what a day may bring forth.
(Proverbs 27)

Does that mean we don’t make plans (or resolutions)? Absolutely not! It means we don’t put things off until “tomorrow” instead of taking care of business today. It means we are disciplined in carrying out our plans – realizing the uncertainty of time. John Wooden said it this way: “Discipline yourself so others won’t have to.”

16 redeeming the time… (Ephesians 5a)

I do think we should make some resolutions for this year. They should be prioritized based upon the uncertainty of time. What things are important in light of eternity? How are you going to manage your daily clock?

Coach Wooden said you should “make each day your masterpiece.” Tim McGraw sang that he wished you could “live like you were dying.”

To me as a coach it comes down to the very basics. What choices are you going to make? Resolutions are simply a “game plan.” Are you going to follow that plan?

(For other reading look at Proverbs 24:3-34. This will remind you of the alternative of being a “sluggard.”)

Monday, December 22, 2008

December 22, 2008 - Merry CHRISTmas!

Last week we talked of becoming “public address announcers” to proclaim the entrance of the “Substitute” into the “game of life.” Have you been doing that? Who should you announce it to?

I think that Luke 2 gives us a great picture throughout. In this chapter of Scripture we see the Christ-child being introduced to shepherds, a priest (Simeon), and a widow (Anna) that had served in the temple for 84 years.

What a mix of “players” in the game of life. It goes from the low end of the social scale with the shepherds, to the religious heights of a priest, to the humility and faithfulness of a widow that devoted 84 years to service. This is a picture from “bench-warmers to star player, to a great team-player.”

Basically the simple message to be found there is that no matter how “good” of a “player” someone appears to be, we all have the same need: to accept the Substitute.

Simeon said it best:
29 “ Lord, now You are letting Your servant depart in peace,
According to Your word;
30 For my eyes have seen Your salvation
31 Which You have prepared before the face of all peoples,
32 A light to bring revelation to the Gentiles,
And the glory of Your people Israel.”
(Luke 2)

Anna realized this truth. Her faithfulness was not what brought her “peace” or “redemption.” The Christ-child was the fulfillment of that for her and all people. Therefore she, like the angels and the shepherds, began to tell people of this wonderful news!

38 And coming in that instant she gave thanks to the Lord, and spoke of Him to all those who looked for redemption in Jerusalem. (Luke 2)

Merry CHRISTmas everyone!

Friday, December 19, 2008

News/Blog - Over 150,000 People Will Die Today

Merry CHRISTmas! What a great time of year as we remember the awesome gift that God gave us in the form of His son; and when we in turn get the joy of giving to others.

With that said I hear that giving will be down this year because of the economy. Maybe that is true but I find stores and parking lots to still be quite the challenge. I still see all kinds of kids with cell phones, game systems, mP3’s, etc. For being in a recession we are still living pretty large!

I then hear that ministry/charitable giving is way down. Whether it is pastors I talk to or fellow-missionaries I get the same story, finances are low to non-existent. That concerns me on where our priorities are.

Last week was a good hoops week for ESPN. It was Jimmy V week, in honor of the Jimmy V Foundation for cancer research. Most remember Jimmy as the coach of the NC State Wolfpack that had the miracle NCAA championship in 1983. Others know Jimmy based on his fight with cancer in the early 90’s that culminated with his famous speech on the ESPY Awards around a month before his death.

To date the Jimmy V foundation has raised over $80 million. And I love the fact that it all goes to research to help find a cure. It is a great cause and one that probably affects everyone reading this. Whether it be cancer, AIDS, or other diseases I think it is imperative to work toward cures.

Yet as a missionary I have some concerns for the body of Christ and our priorities. We claim to believe that the Gospel is the cure for an eternal malady of separation from God for eternity in Hell; yet we don’t consistently share the “cure’ or financially support it.

Some might argue that over the same time period of the Jimmy V Foundation’s fundraising the church and ministries have received over $80 million. True but how much has gone specifically to sharing the “cure”? We are much more concerned with bigger buildings, better sound systems, stained glass windows, etc. than we are the proclamation of the Gospel.

Why I love the Jimmy V Foundation is because the monies that come in go straight to the cause! As the church I’m not so thrilled. In general we lack a missionary focus (both home and abroad) that truly acts as though we have the “cure.” In general we spend way more on making ourselves comfortable than we do on sharing the “cure.”

Jim Valvano said these things in his 1993 ESPY speech:

“Time is very precious to me. I don’t know how much I have left and I have some things I would like to say.”

“…500,000 people will die this year of cancer. I also tell you that one in every four will be afflicted with this disease, and yet somehow we seem to have put it in a little bit of the background. I want to bring it back to the front table. We need your help. I need your help. We need money for research…It may save someone you love.”

I echo these sentiments from Jim:

Time is very precious to me. I don’t know how much I/we have left and I have some things I’d like to say.

Over 56 million people will die this year. That's over 150,000 a day. I would guess that a large majority of these do not know Christ. We need your help. I need your help. It may even save someone you love.

This newsletter/blog is a challenge to you and to me to wake up and prioritize our giving and our service. As individuals and churches we need to make the main thing the main thing! Christ left us marching orders to proclaim the Gospel not just to eat doughnuts in the foyer.

I’ll end this with a great story of a “giving” heart. My 7 yr old daughter recently went before our church to raise money to buy a goat and two chickens through World Vision. As she was on the way to church she looked at my wife and said, “Momma, if I don’t get enough today at church do you think I could leave my bucket out and Santa would give the rest instead of giving me toys?” (Side note: she raised enough for 2 goats and 4 chickens!)

Where are your priorities?

To give to the outreach of InBounds Ministries go to the following link:

Monday, December 15, 2008

December 15, 2008 - Public Address Announcers

This past week I was able to share the Gospel with around 200 students at a school in Indiana. What an awesome privilege to be God’s spokesman for the “good tidings of great joy which will be to all people.” How awesome to tell them that in spite of the fact that we are on a losing team, God loves us so much that He sent a Substitute – a Savior – so we could be on the winning team.

Basically this week I want to remind you that you have a calling just like the shepherds; to tell what you have seen and heard concerning this Savior! We are the public address announcers that are to proclaim that Christ entered the game of life, wearing a team human uniform. And we have a benefit beyond the shepherds; we know how Christ’s game of life played out. He played a perfect game and then provided the perfect sacrifice on the cross of calvary; thus being our "Savior who is Christ the Lord." He was Immanuel – God with us!

He is Immanuel – God with us! Because He didn’t just pay the sacrifice, he rose again to give us new life on a new team!

Listen, I know you all know this. Yet are you “announcing” it? Study Luke 2 this week and make it a point to tell someone about it.

Monday, December 8, 2008

December 8, 2008 - A Whole New Ballgame

As I read an article yesterday I was reminded of how intense the college basketball scene can be. The player was talking about how the coach was so nice during the recruiting process but when it came time to lace them up the coach became an entirely different person. Basically the player said that the coach is riding them all the time to get better and to give maximum effort. The player talked of how much harder it had become at the major college level, even in practices. He stated that you can never take a play off. Basically he realized it is a whole new ballgame.

I thought about my time coaching the sidelines and how vocal I was. I constantly felt the need to be encouraging, directing, correcting, or whatever was needed for my players. I seldom sat down and just shut up. I guess I was somewhat the opposite of the great coach John Wooden who said that he did his coaching in practices and then somewhat sat back in games. I guess I didn’t trust my ability to get it all across in practices.

The thing that came to my mind is how “wisdom” is personified in the Proverbs. “She” is regularly “calling out” for us to listen to what God has to say. (See Proverbs 8 and 9) I Guess I picture her running up and down life’s sidelines, coaching us along.

I think of the work of the Holy Spirit leading and guiding us, convicting us, etc. (John 16:13)

And I am reminded that we cannot afford to “take a play off” in this world we live in. We have an enemy that is always after us. (See 1 Peter 5:8-9) The intensity of the “game” of life is ever increasing.

Make sure you are listening to “wisdom” from God’s Playbook! “See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil.” (Ephesians 5 15)

Friday, December 5, 2008

InBounds Illustrated December 2008

Hello Sports Fans and Merry CHRISTmas!

Remember we are celebrating the fact that God put on a human uniform and entered the game of life as our Substitute. It is time to cheer about the fact that He has entered in to save the “game”! I am so thankful I have the opportunity to be a “commentator” and share this great news.

With that said I want to fill you all in on how the year has gone and also how excited we are for 2009.

On the home front our kids are growing rapidly and for the most part healthy, (aside from the occasional stitches and broken bones.) Clay is now a teenager and the others all think they are. Lisa and I are doing well and celebrated 15 yrs of marriage this past October. Time flies when you’re having fun!

This past year I was able to visit Costa Rica on a trip with seniors from Statesville Christian School, take a ROCK’em Road Trip through the Midwest with high school basketball players, and conduct numerous clinics. There have also been the speaking engagements, singing engagements, etc. (In the month of October alone I had over 15 speaking gigs.) Along with this I was able to continue with our weekly internet devotions. (The end of 2008 will mark 7 years of weekly devotions going out!) Plus we were able to give out hundreds of our devotional booklet “Fundamentals of the Game: Biblical Truths for Rookie and Veteran Believers.”

It has been a very solid year for ministry and we are looking at an even busier 2009. Already on the slate are trips to Alaska, the Dominican Republic, and the Czech Republic. We also are scheduled for 4 ROCK’em Road Trips, multiple Blacktop Bible Clubs, clinics, camps, etc. What a great opportunity we have to fulfill our mission of proclaiming the Gospel to the lost and equipping the found! Praise the Lord!

In 2008 we were able to fully cover the budget. For 2009 the needs have risen some, at the same time that giving on the whole has taken a downturn with the economy. I do not want to focus on that in this newsletter but, as a coach, do ask you to pray about helping in any way you can. When times are tough it is even more imperative that we prioritize our giving.

Please join with us in celebrating the birth of our Savior, our Substitute, this CHRISTmas season! And please pray about how you can help us proclaim this message throughout 2009.

Give ‘em the ROCK!
Team Burden

Monday, December 1, 2008

December 1, 2008 - You Don't Look Like A Player

Have you ever walked into a gym and had to choose up sides? Everyone wanted the players that looked the part – athletic, big, etc. Yet there always seems to be that guy that doesn’t look like a player but once the ball goes up starts lighting everybody up. Maybe he didn’t look the part due to size or age or simply the way he carried himself.

I love seeing those types of surprises. It even happens on the high levels. I wonder how many guys have taken a look at Stephen Curry of Davidson and thought, “he’s a skinny, weak guy – nothing to worry about there.” I think quite a few teams probably thought they could stop him last year. (Of course he has lost that “element of surprise.”)

On a smaller scale is a guy that was my assistant coach last year. He is a small guy with a deep southern accent. He doesn’t look like a basketball guy. Yet he regularly surprises the young studs at the Y or the players at the high school that don’t realize he played for Wake years ago.

These are stories that remind us it is dangerous ground to pre-qualify someone. Yet as believers we do that all the time. We tend to approach, invite, witness to those that we think fit the part. We tend to avoid those that don’t. But the Scriptures are clear in that the message of the Gospel – the Good News – shall be to all men. In fact our Savior went so far as to come as one of those “misfits” as a babe born in a manger.

And don’t forget the first ones to receive the message were the shepherds – not exactly guys way up the social scale definite social “misfits.”

I think we should make it a point this CHRISTmas season to “bring … good tidings of great joy … to all people.” (Luke 2:10)

You know the story – it goes on to say that a Savior was born for us all. We have the completed story. A Savior was born and died for us all!!!!!!

Therefore this CHRISTmas let’s resolve that “… from now on, we regard no one according to the flesh.” (2 Corinthians 5:16) And let’s be “ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us: [and let’s]… implore … [others] on Christ’s behalf, [to] be reconciled to God. For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” (2 Corinthians 5:20-21)

The CHRISTmas story is the Gospel story that is to be shared with everyone – even those that don’t look the part.

Monday, November 24, 2008

November 24, 2008 - Play A Great Game!

Over the weekend one of my former players was in a tourney in Puerto Rico. He led his team in scouring in 2 of the 3 games. He didn’t have any turnovers in the 3 games while logging a lot of minutes. He played strong “D” throughout. All in all I would have to say he had a pretty good weekend.

Yet once the coaches go through the game film I am sure they will find some missed assignments and other problems. That is what happens in the film sessions. The coaches actually set out to look for what you did wrong. Yeah I know we can put a positive spin on it and say they are also looking for what is right, yet that is not the big reason for the viewing. The coaches want to see where they can improve.

Can you imagine how great you would have to play for the coaches to look at 3 games and not find any fault in your game?

I was reading in the book of Daniel and reminded about how flawlessly he was “playing the game.” This young man was getting recognition from the king for his “excellent spirit.” (Daniel 6:30) The king was planning to put him in charge over the kingdom.

The other leaders were very jealous of this and set out to find fault in Daniel. They began looking at the “game film” of his life and could find no fault. The Scriptures declare that Daniel was faithful and had committed no “turnovers” in their presence. What an awesome testimony!

What if people were looking at the “game film” of your life? What would they find? I’m not talking about your past; I am talking about the present. Would fault be found in you? Are you faithful? Coach John Wooden loved to ask’ “If you were on trial for being a Christian would there be enough evidence to convict you?”

Let me encourage you to “play a great game”!

We know the story of Daniel in the lions’ den. The governors and satraps devised a wicked plan to try to force Daniel into worshipping the king – knowing Daniel would not forsake the law of God and do so. Daniel was caught in the trap. The thing I love is that the king even recognized the truth. He knew that God would deliver Daniel.

16 So the king gave the command, and they brought Daniel and cast him into the den of lions. But the king spoke, saying to Daniel, “Your God, whom you serve continually, He will deliver you.” (Daniel 6)

Monday, November 17, 2008

November 17, 2008 - It's Late In The Game

Last week I wrote about running a smooth offense; one in which we effectively take our “shots” at sharing the Gospel. That is the “offense” God left for us in the “game of life.”

When running an offense I often would remind my team that a game is 4 quarters. Early in the game I would try to get them to play in rhythm and relaxed. If we got down a bit I would remind them there was time. As a coach the job entailed “clock-management.”

Yet what would happen when we were down and time was running out? The tendency was to play frantic and get away from our offense. As the coach I would have to constantly remind the players that our “hurry-up” offense still relied on taking good shots.

Lately there has been much preaching and teaching on end times. The “clock” is running out on life as we know it. Yet there are 2 major difficulties with “playing” at the end of this “game.”

One is that as believers we know we are on the “winning team” and thus do not always “play” with urgency. We tend to just coast through. We have gotten away from our “offense.”

The second difficulty is that we can’t see the clock. We are not exactly sure of when time will run out. And if you have ever played sports you know it is difficult to play when you can’t see the time.

My question to you is this: do you care that people will spend an eternity separated from God? I don’t know when Christ will return, nor when an individual’s “clock” will run out. Therefore I need to be in a “hurry-up offense” and taking every “open shot” I can get!

1 But concerning the times and the seasons, brethren, you have no need that I should write to you. 2 For you yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so comes as a thief in the night. 3 For when they say, “Peace and safety!” then sudden destruction comes upon them, as labor pains upon a pregnant woman. And they shall not escape. 4 But you, brethren, are not in darkness, so that this Day should overtake you as a thief. (1 Thessalonians 5)

The Coach (God) has given us the “game plan” and the “offensive set” that He intends for us to “run” all the way through the end of our “game.” What are you going to do with it? Better yet – do something with it! I don’t want to hear cheap talk of plans. As a coach I want to see action!

28 “But what do you think? A man had two sons, and he came to the first and said, ‘Son, go, work today in my vineyard.’ 29 He answered and said, ‘I will not,’ but afterward he regretted it and went. 30 Then he came to the second and said likewise. And he answered and said, ‘I go, sir,’ but he did not go. 31 Which of the two did the will of his father?”
They said to Him, “The first.” (Matthew 21)

Following the example of our “Star Player”:

35 Then Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every sickness and every disease among the people. 36 But when He saw the multitudes, He was moved with compassion for them, because they were weary and scattered, like sheep having no shepherd. 37 Then He said to His disciples, “The harvest truly is plentiful, but the laborers are few. 38 Therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest.” (Matthew 9)

34 Jesus said to them, “My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me, and to finish His work. 35 Do you not say, ‘There are still four months and then comes the harvest’? Behold, I say to you, lift up your eyes and look at the fields, for they are already white for harvest! (John 4)

Monday, November 10, 2008

Novemebr 10, 2008 - Smooth Offense

With the start up of basketball season I must admit that I am feeling a bit empty inside with not coaching this year. I find myself very curious how my former team is doing, checking on former players that have moved on to the college ranks or other high schools, etc. I think about coaches trying to get their philosophies across to teams. I watch games and see how frustrating it is to see players get it for a few minutes and then seemingly just fall apart.

I was watching the University of Memphis’ exhibition game last week and Coach Cal looked distraught at times. He has such a talented team yet at times they just were not getting it. I have mentioned before that their offensive philosophy is one that is difficult for players to learn. They play what is called a “dribble drive” offense. Basically is not a set of plays to memorize but instead a style of how to play the game.

Within any philosophy – whether it be the dribble drive or set plays - the idea is to get good shots. I am a coach that has always allowed players to have freedom shooting the ball. What I have always tried to do is teach them to find shots within their range and capability.

In our “game” of life God instructs us to set up for “good shots” as well. As the church we should always strive to speak with wisdom and grace; by doing so we set up “open shots” for the Gospel.

5 Walk in wisdom toward those who are outside, redeeming the time. 6 Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned with salt, that you may know how you ought to answer each one. (Colossians 4)

Some practical helps I have learned over the years in this area include:

1. Never witness to a stranger! That does not mean to avoid street witnessing and the such. What it means is to break down walls with a smile, a friendly opening, etc.
2. Don’t argue – (even when using an argument)! Say what? I have often taught on the subject of apologetics. (That is not the art of apologizing.) Apologetics are simply defense arguments, or proofs, of the reality of God, the authenticity of the Scriptures, etc. The purpose of using these is to get “open shots’ – not to win a debate.
3. Memorize Scripture! God’s Word is living and able to do more than our words ever will.
4. Take simple shots! We don’t need to add to the Gospel. In practices I have players work on high percentage shots. In sharing the Gospel I want the same. The Gospel itself is the “power of God unto salvation” (Romans 1:16); therefore I don’t need to add to it. 1 Corinthians 15: 3-4 give Paul’s take on this matter:
3 For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4 and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures,

Let’s get our offense flowing smoothly and reach some people for Christ!

Monday, November 3, 2008

November 3, 2008 - Preparation and Scouting

I recently read about the assistant coaches for a major university basketball program and what their “jobs” are. There is a huge emphasis on scouting opponents and knowing their tendencies. I can remember speaking to a friend that was playing division 1 ball and he told me that the coaches had it figured to the percentage points how often a player would go left vs right, to the hole vs pulling up for the jumper, etc. These coaches (and ultimately the players) spend a lot of time look at things from the opponent’s view point.

I often mention John Wooden in my devotions, partly because of his great testimony and partly because of his great success as a coach. As I was thinking through this idea of scouting I was reminded of something the coach said that surprised me.

“I seldom mention the other team. I believe it takes away from the concentration on ourselves in the preparation. I did less scouting than any other coach I’ve ever heard about. I wanted our team to concentrate on what we could do – namely, try to execute our style of play to the best of our abilities.” (From the book: Wooden; p. 120)

I have been very concerned with how little time our “team” called Christianity spends studying our “playbook” and what our “style of play” should be. We spend much more time with our noses in the opponents’ game plan. Some times it is to point out what they are doing wrong (because that is easier than focusing on ourselves.) Some times it is simply being entertained by them (and we wonder why we emulate them in our actions – duh! – we spend more time in their “playbook” – tv, internet, movies, music, etc.)

Yesterday my pastor mentioned three letters – NES. He said that we spend way too much time on things with No Eternal Significance.

Where is your time spent? Becoming the best you can be at “our game” or focusing on the opponent? I am with Coach Wooden on this one. Oh and also with the Apostle Paul under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.

Philippians 4:8 Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

November Newsletter

Hello Sports Fans,

As we approach the holidays, I want to let you know how thankful we are for each of you. It is an honor to be able to send out weekly devotions, to preach and sing in your churches, to worship together, etc. It has also been an honor to serve beside some of you in ministry.

As with any newsletter I will give you a recap of where we have been; an update of where we are planning to go; and a statement of where we are at. [I will also add in a family update at the end to serve as our Christmas cards.]

The last few months have been very busy on the ministry front. We have had great opportunities to share the Gospel and to see people respond. We have had great opportunities to disciple believers via our ROCK’em Road Trip and our outreach into churches and youth groups. I was recently in St. Louis to speak at an AWANA convention and even got to spend the weekend with my wife. (We dropped the kids off at Grandma and Grandpa’s on the way!) The month of October alone saw me with over 15 opportunities in outreach (all of this with Coach Torzewski actively working in Indianapolis as well!)

I recently met with staff and board members to discuss 2009. The opportunities are exploding. As it stands I will be returning to the Dominican Republic in the Spring with students from Statesville Christian School. I also have a trip planned to Alaska for some outreach to churches and it has been requested that we return to the Czech Republic. (We are turning down requests often for missions outreach simply due to lack of time, helpers and finances.) Also in 2009 we will embark on at least 3 of our ROCK’em Road Trips where we take players on the road for intense basketball and life discipleship. These trips are a great time of learning and encouragement. Then there are the 16 Blacktop Bible Clubs we have on the agenda for the NC and IN regions; Coach T will be returning to Cornerstone Festival to conduct the basketball outreach; etc. It is shaping up to be a busy year.

Now to the statement of where we are presently. As mentioned before, the ministry opportunities are abounding. What is not abounding is our bank account. As it stands we barely have enough to pay November’s basic bills. Therefore December and 2009 need a boost. I have often seen God do big things at times like this and have no reason to doubt He will again. Yet I also have to be open to the fact that we don’t always have plans turn out the way we envisioned. If this financial miracle does not take place we will be unable to follow through with all the opportunities that 2009 holds. I ask you to consider sacrificially giving to our ministry at this time. I can guarantee you that it will result in a clear Gospel message being taken all over the world! I can guarantee you that it will result in God’s Playbook being magnified in people’s lives!

As for Team Burden: We are doing well. The kids are growing up way too fast. Lisa and I just celebrated our 15th wedding anniversary and our oldest turned 13 this past summer. Yes life will be different with a teenager in the house. All of these years of ministering to teens and their parents; now I am the one in need of help! It will be a typical, busy holiday season for us. Three of our kids have birthdays between now and the end of the year. Plus there happens to be that birthday we celebrate of our incredible Savior. Our family wishes you joy this year that can only be found through the promised Savior of Luke chapter 2. He came to provide our way of peace with the Father. No matter how the world around us seems to be crumbling, we can stand on that promise of the good news!

Merry Christmas!
Team Burden

Monday, October 27, 2008

October 27, 2008 - Get Your Head In The Game

In sports it is important to learn to keep your head in the game. In fact as coaches we are often heard telling players to do just that. Usually a player has been distracted by something he feels is unfair or disappointing or maybe even something that was exciting and caused him to lose focus.

I can remember a game as the coach where I diagrammed an out of bounds play for one of my guys. It was for a last-second shot to win the game. I told the player that I would yell when it was time to pull the trigger for the shot so he wouldn’t have to watch the clock. As the boys went back onto the floor someone behind me said something to me. Without even knowing the ball had been put into play the time elapsed and I had not given my player his cue. I was distracted and didn’t keep my head in the game.

Focus is hard when there are so many distractions. There are entire books for athletes that explain using visualization techniques to get in the right mind-set. Coaches try to emulate game situations in practices so players won’t be distracted. Yet we all lose our heads at times.

How about you in your Christian life? Do you lose your head sometimes? I think Scripture gives us some stern warnings about “keeping our heads in the game.”

15 See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, (Ephesians 5)

8 Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. (1 Peter 5)

Do you see the warning? We need to stay alert. We have an opponent – an enemy – that wants us to lose our heads.

If we are going to “keep our heads in the game”, we need to determine how to accomplish that. Colossians 3 tells us what we should be focusing on.
1 If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. 2 Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth.

With every area of our lives we should be focusing on “things above.” Our perspective should be one of realizing we are always in the “game” and need to “play” accordingly. In fact the chapter goes on later to say that in everything we do and say, we should do it with all of our hearts unto the Lord. (See verses 17 and 23)

Here is your challenge this week: Realize that your time at work, at school, at home, etc. is all part of the “game.” You need to “get your head in the game” and stay focused on things above. Everything you do has eternal consequences.

Monday, October 20, 2008

October 20, 2008 - Learning the Offense

I was recently reading an article about the University of Memphis’ basketball team. Official practices began this past weekend and they are faced with multiple newcomers on their squad. The article keyed on the difficulty some of the guys were having in adjusting to a new system.

The reason it is difficult is because Memphis plays an offense that is run very contrary to traditional plays and motion. Newcomers often will find themselves doing what comes naturally from years of basketball, yet in the wrong place because of this new system.

In fact Coach Calapari goes as far as saying, "It's not only like, a different style. This is not even the same sport they ever played, the way we do this, It's truly like the beginnings of the West Coast offense in football where, everything you ever learned, throw away. We're doing it different. Your job is different now. Throw it out. It doesn't help you here on offense."
That is kind of what happens in our Christian lives. It is an entirely new system of doing things. God’s ways are contrary to our natural tendencies. It is a system where leaders are servants. It is a system where humility is encouraged. It is a system where we are told to consider others as more important than ourselves. It is a crazy system where the first shall be last and the last shall be first.

This is accomplished through being Spirit-controlled instead of flesh-controlled. It is a system where the “playbook” has supernatural powers to transform your mind.

As I was recently talking with a friend it occurred to me; I have often heard people being told to be themselves. I don’t want to be myself! I want to have the Spirit ruling. I want Christ to live through me.

30 He must increase, but I must decrease. (John 3)

16 I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. (Galatians 5)

How do you know if you are “getting it” in God’s offense? By the result that occurs:

22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law. 24 And those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25 If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. 26 Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another. (Galatians 5)

Monday, October 13, 2008

October 13, 2008 - Coaching Debut

This week's devo is submitted by Coach Torzewski. Coach T is the midwest coach for InBounds Ministries and has a great heart for ministry. Read his story and you will see he also has some boldness.

" Let me tell you about my NBA coaching debut:

I have recently been working part time for an event security company. I had the pleasure Wednesday October 8th to work the Indiana Pacers first preseason game. As I arrived to venue, I was told I would be working courtside behind the opponent’s bench, which was great, since the teams were having shoot around and fans were not to arrive for nearly 1 ½ hours. This gave me time to watch the players shoot around.

One of the opposing team’s players was getting his shots on the left side baseline about 10-15 feet from the hoop. As I watched him from 4-5 feet away, I noticed out of 20 consecutive shots, he missed 3. Now his form was nearly perfect, his balance was great and he elevated very well. While this is an outstanding percentage, the 3 shots he missed were a result of a simple fundamental habit. As he lined up to shoot, his elbow pointed out causing the flick of his wrist to follow through away from his target. His trainer/coach who was feeding him the ball never pointed this out so I said to the player “You missed only 3 shots but they were from the same thing”. He looked at me almost with amazement and said “Seriously”. I went on to explain what I observed and challenged him to shoot 10 shots holding his follow through when he was done. With that said he agreed and started his ten. He missed 2 of the 10 shots and each was for the reason I pointed out. After that he came over and thanked me for pointing that out and told his trainer/coach to help more. Our conversation lasted about 2-3 minutes talking about the elementary fundamentals that can easily get overlooked as we grow in our ability and it is always a good reminder. I apologized to him for not introducing myself and getting his name at which time he shook my hand and said “I’m Chris Paul”

Now, anyone who enjoys basketball knows of Chris PauI but I must admit that I had never seen him. I know of his accomplishments “ USA Olympic team, NBA all star, explosive game changing player” but here was this fellow athlete willing to listen to poor old me in an attempt to better his skills. The same can be said in our Christian lives. Are you open to what God says to you through others, prayer and his living word? Are you helping the others better their skills for the kingdom (are you kingdom minded)?

What we don’t see is that this basketball player was committed to improving, growing and getting better at his game, but most of the hard work is done behind the scene if you will. We don’t see the hundreds of shots a day, the running, lifting and studying of film. You will not grow in your faith without doing the behind the scenes work. Prayer, spending time in Gods word and truly being open to his plan in your life are just a few of the things we should not only do, but should desire.

I am reminded of how Peter ends his letter in 2 Peter (3:17-18) - 17)Therefore, dear friends, since you already know this, be on your guard so that you may not be carried away by the error of lawless men and fall from your secure position. 18) But grow in the GRACE and KNOWLEDGE of our Lord and Savior JESUS CHRIST.

He is warning us against false teachings but also about our growth.

How do you fair in improving your game?

In Christ,

Coach T"

Monday, October 6, 2008

October 6, 2008 - Perspective

Coaching is very stressful at times. You are trying to make decisions and give directions that will either positively or negatively affect the outcome of the game. And at the same time the opponent’s coach is doing the same thing. So every plan you devise is somewhat dependant upon the other team doing what you expect.

Can you imagine how less stressful it would be if as the coach you already knew your team was going to win? You could give direction and encourage the players on how to handle situations, all while knowing the outcome. It would create a totally different perspective on how you view the game.

The Apostle Paul had an amazing ability to be content in his life in spite of circumstances. In fact his life was better in the physical realm when he was still Saul. Yet Paul is consistently championing the cause of JOY and PEACE in our lives.

His secret (at least one of them) was a new attitude based upon a new perspective. He knew the things happening in the game of life were temporal and that when the buzzer sounded for the “game” to be over that he was on the winning team!

That is why he can say that the bad things that happened to him were to further the Gospel. That is why he could say that to die would simply be gain. In other words he was saying “the game may be going bad right now but I am going to keep pressing on because I know it will end up in the right place.” (Study the letter to the Philippians to see Paul’s perspective.)

I was able to get a picture of this type of mentality recently. A dear friend purchased season passes for my family to an amusement park near where we live. The first time we used them I was standing in a long line for a coaster. I typically get very frustrated in lines like that, yet that particular day I noticed that I was fine. I was pressing toward the goal of riding on the coaster but was stress free in spite of the slow progress. Then it dawned on me: I was stress free because I had a different perspective. If the line took so long that I missed going on another ride then so be it. I had a season pass; I could come back the next day if I wanted to. Having a victorious view of the end circumstances made the present circumstances much more bearable.

Can I remind you of something you already know? Life is hard and will flat out kick you in the teeth some times. Yet if you are on God’s team you can still be content knowing the outcome – one of ultimate victory when the game is over and one of temporal victory with the promise that God works all things for good to those that love Him (Romans 8:28).

We need to live with a victorious, eternal perspective, not one that is based upon temporal circumstances!

Monday, September 29, 2008

September 29, 2008 - Broken Teammates

This week’s devo will be short and to the point. There is an athletic example in it but I will also draw reference to a song that I have fallen in love with. Hopefully it will challenge and rebuke us!

The athletic side of the picture is one that reminds us that we are called to carry one another’s burdens. Galatians 6 talks of each one carrying his own load – that which is his responsibility. Yet it follows it up with what seems to be a contradiction as we are told to carry one another’s load. The Greek word used there caries the idea of that which is beyond the normal – a burden that is too heavy for the individual. (Read Galatians 6:1-10 for the Scriptural commands here.)

The visual came Saturday in a game. My 13-yr-old son drove to the basket and as he switched the ball to his left hand to go up one of the opposing players went for the block and fouled him. It was a good solid play yet my son remained on the floor. I finally left the stands to check on him and could immediately see his wrist was broken. It had turned under him as he hit the floor.

His coach and I jokingly asked him if he was going to shoot his free throws before going to the hospital. Yet it was obvious one of his teammates would have to carry that “burden” for him. (No pun intended with our last name being Burden.)

It was a very simple reminder that we need to be there for one another. Now onto the song - it is getting quite a bit of airplay. It is by an artist named Brandon Heath and is called “Give Me Your Eyes.” The song is very catchy and I liked it from the start. But the video is what convicted me.

The basis of the song is that a guy lands at an airport amidst all the hurriedness and chaos. His request is that the Lord give him the eyes to truly see the people and their needs. The fact is this: we as American Christians are just as caught up in our busy lives as the rest of the world and we fail to see our teammates who are “broken” and need our help. Plus we fail to see and miss multiple opportunities to be God’s instrument of grace to a lost and dying world!

Let’s step out of our selfishness and see people the way God sees them!

Check out Brandon's tune!

Monday, September 22, 2008

September 22, 2008 - How You See The Game

I have written numerous times in these devotions about a young man that played for me that is extremely talented and gifted. He is presently a 9th grader and already has offers on the table from major D1 programs with many getting in line to talk with him. Funny thing is that he is not the fastest kid I’ve ever coached. He is not the tallest. He is not the strongest. And the list could go on. Yet he is by far the best.

There is just something different about the way he sees the game. He is only around 5’9” right now, yet he dominates the opposition. I have described him off by saying that “I’m convinced he sees the game in slow motion.” There are many kids that are talented and play well, but is ability to the view the game differently sets him apart.

The Apostle Paul is a man that was able to “see the game” differently than those around him. He was able to rise above circumstances and exhibit a life of joy and contentment. Check out his bio in 2 Corinthians 11. This guy had been through it. In fact I often preach about the fact that his physical life was better when he was still Saul. Yet his change of name came with a change of attitude – a new way of looking at life.

The letter to the Philippians was written while Paul was in prison. Yet he writes to them about joy and peace – that he had found – and that they could find. In a nutshell Paul shares that through his pursuit of knowing God in a deeper way and also his desire for others to find joy, he then found joy.

Basically the lesson is this: Often people look to the Scriptures for ways to personally find joy and contentment. Paul instead lays out a plan that says to know God in a deeper way and serve others. This plan resulted in joy and peace.

Who are you focusing on? If yourself, you will not find peace. Focus on God and others!

21 For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain. 22 But if I live on in the flesh, this will mean fruit from my labor; yet what I shall choose I cannot tell. 23 For I am hard-pressed between the two, having a desire to depart and be with Christ, which is far better. 24 Nevertheless to remain in the flesh is more needful for you. 25 And being confident of this, I know that I shall remain and continue with you all for your progress and joy of faith, 26 that your rejoicing for me may be more abundant in Jesus Christ by my coming to you again. (Philippians 1)

Study the letter – you’ll see it is true! And you will start “seeing the game” in a different way.

Monday, September 15, 2008

September 15, 2008 - Laziness

Very simply put, the player that works the hardest is usually going to come out on top. Granted in sports there are some genetic exceptions where players just simply have “it.” Yet even those players need a strong work ethic to rise to the very top. Throughout the summer I read articles about Kobe Bryant’s work ethic. He is regarded by many to be the best player in the game and over and over people commented on his incredible commitment to getting stronger and getting better. I have never personally been a huge Kobe fan but must admit I found some new respect for the guy.

When I am instructing players I remind them of a favorite quote I heard: “Your greatest competition is anyone that is willing to work harder than you!”

This is true in athletics as well as every other aspect of life. Those that rise up will be those that work hard. I have spent this morning reminding my son about that; not referring to basketball but instead his academics. He is far too content to be average and just get through an assignment instead of striving to be his best.

The Scriptures are full of mandates to work hard. They are full of pictures like that of the hard working ant and reminders of the hard working farmer.

We are simply a lazy people for the most part. What type of work ethic do you have? What type do I have? Are we truly putting in some time to grow in our knowledge of the Scriptures or are we simply content to be average?

30 I went by the field of the lazy man,
And by the vineyard of the man devoid of understanding;
31 And there it was, all overgrown with thorns;
Its surface was covered with nettles;
Its stone wall was broken down.
32 When I saw it, I considered it well;
I looked on it and received instruction:
33 A little sleep, a little slumber,
A little folding of the hands to rest;
34 So shall your poverty come like a prowler,
And your need like an armed man.
(Proverbs 24)

Monday, September 8, 2008

September 8, 2008 - No Fear

Last week we looked at the reminder that we should get off our behinds and get busy for the Lord. The Scriptures pointed out that life is “like a vapor” and that we should “redeem the time.” Another great verse I saw this week is found in the book of Psalms. Psalm 90:12 says: “So teach us to number our days that we may gain a heart of wisdom.”

The Psalmist here is recognizing the fact that we need to take advantage of each day to increase in wisdom (which is done through God’s Word). Yet this comes in the midst of an all-too-familiar feeling of life being difficult.

As I have written devotions over the last couple of weeks, they have been geared toward getting busy in our service to the Lord. Yet the reality is that is hard with the pressures of life. We get overwhelmed with things to do and maybe even scared by what lies ahead. In turn we are ineffective.

Last Saturday my son had his first game of fall basketball in Charlotte. As we arrived he witnessed the opposing team getting out of their vehicles and they were big, filled out, and impressive looking. Although he claims he was not scared to play them, the proof was in his play. He became perimeter-oriented and somewhat inactive in the game. In short, he played awful.

Afterwards I tried to balance between dad and coach mode (although coach-mode probably won out.) I asked him if was scared. Of course he answered, “no.” I then told him I disagreed and pointed out times he chickened out. He said, “Did you see how big that guy was?” (He sounded like the Israeli spies after looking over the Promised Land.)

I asked him why he was scared. I pointed out that it was a ballgame, not an alley brawl. I asked why he didn’t draw upon his knowledge of the game and how to overcome some of the obstacles. Basically I was showing him that he had been taken out of the game by his fears.

How about you? What has taken you “out of the game?” We often are unwilling to serve the Lord because we could face rejection, ridicule, being called politically incorrect, etc. Yet if you fall back on your “knowledge of the game” and how the Scriptures teach us to overcome obstacles you can be an effective “player.”

8 Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me His prisoner, but share with me in the sufferings for the gospel according to the power of God, 9 who has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was given to us in Christ Jesus before time began, 10 but has now been revealed by the appearing of our Savior Jesus Christ, who has abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel, 11 to which I was appointed a preacher, an apostle, and a teacher of the Gentiles. 12 For this reason I also suffer these things; nevertheless I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep what I have committed to Him until that Day. (2 Timothy 1)

God is on our side! No need for fear! No need for hesitation!

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

September 1, 2008 - Get Off Your Butt

As I looked over the sports news this morning I was greeted with an all too familiar reminder – life is unsure and ever-changing. The news that caught my eye involves a player from the Jacksonville Jaguars that was sitting in a car last night waiting to meet a lady when someone drove by and shot him numerous times. The player now lies in a hospital bed fighting for his life instead of prepping for the NFL season - his playing career cut short

Couple that news with news of hurricane Gustav hitting the gulf coast while 3 other storms are formed in the Atlantic and one has to ponder the brevity of life.

It makes me more eager to get the most out of every day – knowing that my “playing career” is not guaranteed to be a long one. The Scripture tells us to “redeem the time” in Ephesians chapter 5.

There is also the passage in James 4 that is often quoted to remind us of the brevity of life.

13 Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, spend a year there, buy and sell, and make a profit”; 14 whereas you do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away. 15 Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we shall live and do this or that.” 16 But now you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil.

But the part of that passage that is not often mentioned is in the same paragraph. Verse 17 is a strong statement.

17 Therefore, to him who knows to do good and does not do it, to him it is sin.

We live our lives consistently planning to good in the future. We make excuses about our spiritual laziness because we always feel there is time. Yet God has called each of us to make a difference in this world! What are you neglecting? What has He called you to do?

Time to get off our butts! Let this Labor Day remind you that we should be working for the Lord! (Remember: not to earn salvation but because we have salvation.)

Sunday, August 24, 2008

August 25, 2008 - Penetrate the Zone

As I watched the USA men’s basketball team in the gold medal game I noticed some great life lessons. I was thrilled that we ended up back on the podium getting “gold.” I also thought the team from Spain showed incredible heart throughout the game. It truly was a fun game to watch, in spite of being up until 4:30AM with church that morning.

The lesson I want to discuss this week involves some of the philosophy during the game. Late in the game Spain chose to go to a zone defense against the USA. The reason is that the American team is so athletic it is hard to guard them man-to-man; and the American teams of late haven’t exactly been known for their shooting ability.

This defensive strategy paid some great dividends and actually helped Spain close the gap on the scoreboard and put a scare in the US. As I was watching it unfold I told my son to look at the openings in the seams of the zone. I mentioned that normally LeBron James gets in those gaps and penetrates the zone. (Yet LeBron was on the bench at the time.) Shortly after I told my son this, Doug Collins said the same thing from his broadcaster’s seat. It was glaringly evident that the American team was settling for passing the ball around the perimeter and was not getting good scoring opportunities.

Well you probably know by now that LeBron came back in and the American’s righted the ship. The open three pointers they were able to get came as a result of penetrating the zone and then dishing out.

Ok, so now that I have been talking coaching strategy concerning the hardwood, let me shift gears a bit and discuss strategy in the life of the church. We spend way too much time “passing around the perimeter”! We tend to stay comfortably outside the walls of the “defense” and will hope to get off a “clean shot” every once in a while. Those can appear to be “desperate shots.” We need to “penetrate the defense of the opponent”

Let me be very clear. We spend way too much time trying to look good and be appealing in our church buildings and far too little time following Christ’s commands to “GO!” granted we are “not of this world” but we are reminded that we are “in the world”!

The religious people were angry with Christ because He mingled with the commoners, the sinners. He went where the people were that needed Him! The Apostles all lived by commands to go and be among the people. Study the life of Christ and the Apostles – and be reminded of the active Christianity of the Bible.

We need to stop “playing” passively! We need to penetrate into the heart of our opponent’s “zone!”

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

August 18, 2008 - Working Hard for the Gold

This past week I spent time with my dad who went through a total knee replacement. He has had multiple knee surgeries but this one was obviously the big daddy of them all. The morning after the surgery things were going great for Dad. He was able to take a decent walk around the hospital floor and met his discharge goals during the first session. That resulted in him getting to go home a day early. Upon arrival at home his knee began to stiffen significantly and the exercises became much more difficult (impossible in his mind.)

Yesterday I was able to take him to his physical therapy appointment and watch the therapist work him through the pain, and the reminder, of the hard work that was ahead to reach his goal.

I was also able during the week at my dad’s to take in a lot of the Olympics. There the big story was Michael Phelps winning his 7th and 8th gold medals of these Olympic Games. I love to listen to the post-race interviews.

After winning the 7th gold and tying Mark Spitz for the most ever in 1 Olympic year, Phelps was interviewed along with Spitz (via satellite) about the accomplishment. Both men were very gracious and talked complimentary of the other. Spitz talked of the competitive greatness it takes to be a great champion.

After winning his record-breaking 8th Gold, Phelps had the screen all to himself in the interview. He had just accomplished what many thought was impossible. He talked of the dream he had of being a champion that was started at an early age. He talked of the joy of receiving the gold medals. Yet he seemed to emphasize more the hard work of the journey.

As believer I think it is important for us to have a vision – a goal. As churches I think the same is true. We often make great plans. Yet I hope we remember that no matter how grand the plan, there is a journey of hard work and dedication that is needed.

What are your dreams and goals? Have you set forth on a disciplined course of hard work to achieve them? Nehemiah had a vision of rebuilding the walls, yet had to actually go there and put forth a lot of hard work. Look at the command in 2 Timothy chapter 2:

15 Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.

Note the emphasis on being “diligent” and the subject is a “worker.” It is time for us to get out of our comfortable pews of our churches and work for the Lord. It is not easy but it is the only way to reach our goals.

I love the old quote that says that the one that works the hardest will be the last to surrender!

Monday, August 11, 2008

August 11, 2008 - No Way met No quit

Did you happen to watch the Men’s 4x100 Freestyle Swimming Relay on Sunday night? It was the stuff that dreams are made of! It was what the Olympics are all about - full of drama and national pride.

The French team had made bold predictions that they would “smash” the Americans in this event. (Which also would have smashed the hopes of Michael Phelps to win 8 “golds” at this Olympics.) The French prediction was obviously well publicized so each American viewer had some national pride at stake.

The Americans started very strong only to see the French take control midway through the race. As the final leg started, the French had a comfortable lead with their strongest swimmer at anchor. And the reason they were so bold with their predictions is that they are amazing swimmers.

Halfway through the final leg the American swimmer (Jason Lezak) was still well behind. In interviews he admitted a brief moment of feeling defeat. Yet then he thought about why he was there. "I changed," he said. "I thought, 'That's ridiculous. I'm at the Olympic Games, I'm here for the United States of America. I don't care how bad it hurts, I'm going after it.’”

One reporter worded it this way – “No way met no quit.” (Pat Forde /

The rest is history as the American team edged out the brash talking by 8 one-hundreths of a second. I must admit that I was screaming, arms raised, pounding the arms of my chair – you get the picture. (Of course my wife and son were also celebrating.)

I am writing this and most of you probably saw this happen – or at least have already read or heard about it. Yet the event came at a time where I have been focusing a lot on “excellence” in our Christian lives. I have studied and preached about it recently.

Biblically I see excellence as the ability to not have our attitudes dictated by circumstances. It is a rising above circumstances with a life that is characterized by the fruit of the Spirit. It is a life that will at times be “behind in the race” yet will realize the “race” is not over. (In fact we even no the outcome of the “race” for believers. We win!)

I want a life that is characterized by the phrase that Pat Ford wrote. I want a life where “no way” meets “no quit.”

58 Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord. (1 Corinthians 15)

Study Paul’s letter to the Philippians where he describes his approach to life.

12 Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me. 13 Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, 14 I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 3)

Monday, August 4, 2008

August 4, 2008 - How Long is the Longest Drive?

This week's devo is submitted by guest coach Dan Luedke - He is a dear friend of our ministry and has some great insight...

How Long is the Longest Drive?

I heard a (supposedly true) story about a guy that bet a Million Dollars he could hit a golf ball a Mile. Now that’s 1,760 Yards! Tiger Woods hits them right around 300 Yards...a Mile is over 5 Times the distance that Tiger hits a golf ball. Since someone took him up on the bet, the man proceeded to head North. You see, he wanted to tee off across the vast expanse of a frozen lake. He did some warm-up stretches, took some warm-up swings, and unloaded on the tiny ball. It was a solid hit and ball flew through the air. It finally landed on the hard, slick ice. It bounced and rolled and bounced and rolled and bounced and rolled and bounced and rolled and bounced and rolled and bounced and rolled...BUT, it finally stopped. It went a fixed distance.

In Psalm 103:12, God tells us, “...As far as the east is from the west, So far has He removed our transgressions from us.” At first glance, most people read this and say something like, “Well yeah God forgives us, but it’s a fixed amount.” I don’t see this verse that way at all. It’s what I call a “nugget” in scripture. This one’s a treasure.

You see, if God would have said, “As far as the NORTH is from the SOUTH, So far has He removed our transgressions from us.” It would not be as meaningful. Think about it. If you could drive from the North Pole heading due South, you would eventually get to the South Pole. At that point, you would start heading North again – although it’s a long way, the distance the North is from the South is a “fixed distance”.

Now consider how God worded His scripture... “As far as the EAST is from the WEST, So far has He removed our transgressions from us.” If you were in California (the WEST) and started driving EAST, you could just keep driving and driving and driving and driving and driving and driving and driving and you would still be heading EAST, but you would never “get there”. That’s how far He has removed our transgressions (our sins) from us -- FOREVER!

Hebrews 10:14 says, “For by one offering He has perfected forever those who are sanctified.” If God didn’t remove our transgressions, we wouldn’t be made perfect!

Our God is AMAZING!

Monday, July 28, 2008

July 28, 2008 - Team Chemistry

A great team will be one that has unity. The team will have a desired goal that reaches beyond individual goals. Players will be willing to fill their roles or do their parts for the betterment of the team. In the sports world we often hear that called team chemistry.

One of the issues I deal with often with the church is the lack of unity. One of the areas I personally struggle with is that as churches we attempt to draw a crowd and build unity based upon worship style or programs we offer. And the problem is that no matter what style we choose we eliminate our appeal to certain people groups.

Part of this comes from a belief in being “culturally relevant” in our services. Scripturally we are called to be “culturally relevant” (i.e. Paul saying that to the Jew he became like a Jew.” But we also find that Scripturally there is no mention of the church body operating that way. For the corporate body the “glue” that held the team together was (and should be) simply a focus on Christ.

Our Sunday mornings are like a practice session where all we would do is separate the players by positions. (I.e. Big guys practice at one goal with the guards working out at another.) Sunday mornings have the most segregated hours in our society. And I am not talking about by race (although that would be helped as well by these thoughts.) What I am referring to is that we separate by age and split the family apart. We also separate based upon music preferences as we strive to reach one group and in doing so push away another.

There is a time for “position practice.” But our corporate worship should be drawing everyone as a “team” to focus on Christ through His Word.

One of the greatest pictures of this I have ever seen was when I was in the Dominican Republic and sat in an incredible worship service. The service used a boom box to play bad organ music of old hymns translated into Spanish. I am pretty sure the music wasn’t the cultural preference for these folks. Yet the time was filled with joy and enthusiasm. These folks were not concerned with the entertainment value of the service. They were focused on “El Senor”/God, and giving praise for sending Christ on our behalf.

Ephesians 2:14 tells us that Christ is our peace and that He is what brings people together! Read that chapter of Ephesians today as a reminder of our common goal that brings team unity!

Monday, July 21, 2008

July 21, 2008 - Running Through Barricades

Why do we have coaches in sports? Couldn’t we just let the players go out and run the games free lance? Especially as they get older they should know enough shouldn’t they?

No, that is not the case. Players are in the midst of the fray during a game and do not have the same view as the coach does from the sideline. The coach truly has a unique perspective.

He understands what his team is trying to do. He knows his players and their abilities in a deeper way than other observers. He even gets to hear what they are feeling/thinking in the huddle.

He is aware of the direction they are intending to go; of the obstacle they have to face, etc. He has even scouted the “enemy” to create a game plan. And most importantly he is on his players’ side. He wants the very best for them.

A great verse that reminds us about having God as our coach – on our side:
Psalm 18:29 “With God’s help we can run through a barricade; with our God we can scale a wall.” (NIV)

Listen to Him! Trust Him! Go in the direction He has laid out for you!

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

July 14, 2008 - Life Jacket

This past weekend I took in a different form of athletics – one that fits more in the extreme sports. My son and I took a trip down the New River in West Virginia on a whitewater raft. The trip consisted of 3 or 4 sets of class 5 rapids, plus many more sets that were very significant.

While listening to the instructions of the trip guide I was making sure to take it all in because I knew this guy had been there and done that. He gave details on what to do if the boat flips, if you flip out of the boat. Etc. He made it sound like a very real possibility and here I was taking my son out on his 13th birthday.

We ended up being on the sweeper boat that was last in our line of boats. Therefore we could see what was happening to the boats in front of us. The front boat had the tour leader that had given instructions and sure enough on the first set of rapids we saw his boat flip over. (It was interesting to watch some of the reservation on my son’s face during this time – and to try to hide some of mine.)

We made it through those rapids fine. A little further down river we were able to swim a set of rapids. I knew we should be pretty free of rocks since they were letting us intentionally go in the water. Yet what I didn’t know was about a thing called the “elevator shaft.” Shortly into my swim I hit perfectly between some waves and was taken under. I was under long enough to think through the fact that I didn’t know which direction was up and had to simply stop and let my life jacket do its job and float me to the surface. It was when I surfaced that our boat guide screamed out that I had hit the “elevator shaft” and how awesome it was. On the tail end of it I did see it as awesome but during I was forced to learn a big lesson in faith. In this case faith in the protective gear I was wearing. The guide had reminded us beforehand that the vest would be our safety.

The trip consisted of many more adventures including me being thrown out of the boat as we tried to surf a wave and my son getting to “ride the bull” as he held onto a strap on the front of the boat and rode the last rapids with his legs hanging over the front of the boat. It was an intense day on the water.

Obviously my personal lesson was a reminder of what it means to live by faith. Many times in life we simply don’t know what is going to happen – we don’t even know which way is up. Many times we think the rapids ahead look to be too much for us. Many times we choose to simply stay in the calm waters and not exercise any faith.

The key is the object of your faith. When I was in the “elevator shaft” I remembered that my life jacket was made to raise me to the top. I did not attempt to swim at all, I let it do the work. Yet in life I often forget to let God do His work. I “swim” frantically trying to make things work instead of trusting the course the Lord has set me on.

How about you? Do you trust God and His Word? Are you a person that when led to do something out of the norm instead try to stay in the calm waters? Maybe you have felt led to take a missions trip yet chickened out. Maybe you felt led to give to something financially but instead decided to protect your bank account – all the while claiming to be exercising wise stewardship.

I believe we have become too comfortable in American Christianity and we don’t live with enough adventure and trust in the Lord. (He is more faithful than my life vest.)

I think of those in Hebrews 11 that comprise the “hall of faith.” Think of Abraham who set out for a new home, not even knowing where God was leading him. The key was he knew Who was leading him!

Physically while in the “elevator shaft” I trusted in what was going to raise me to the top. In life I want to trust in Who will keep me “afloat” more than where I am going.

What is God calling you to do? I don’t care how big or crazy it is, if God is calling trust Him!!!!!!

Monday, July 7, 2008

July 7, 2008 - Teamwork Demonstrated

Teamwork! We hear the word used often in both the sports arena and in the everyday world. Corporate teachings talk about teamwork. It is mentioned in the classroom. And event he church talks about it.

Yet basketball is a sport where the idea of teamwork is often not fully understood, especially with kids (and their parents.) For some reason in basketball people get uptight if they (or their) kids are not getting to shoot the ball as much as another. They get upset if they (or their kids) are not put in the exact position they want.

Yet not every player is as skilled at each requirement. On a team some are better shooters than others; some handle the ball better; etc. Think about it. In football how often does a lineman get to carry the ball? Pass the ball? Catch the ball? The lineman has a specific job. In baseball how often does the right fielder get to pitch? In racing how often does the tire changer get to drive in the race? In these other sports we much more understand teamwork.

In basketball, like life (and the church), things seem to revolve around who gets the glory. People want to be noticed. Coach Dick Bennett has an offense called the “blocker-mover” offense. In it guys are designated as either a blocker or a mover. A blocker’s job is to set screens to free up the movers. A blocker can get a shot but it is usually as a secondary cutter – definitely not the first option. In other words some guys know their jobs are not to be the scorers. And remember these are young men good enough to be division 1 basketball players. They were probably big time scorers in high school; but find themselves put in a different role – a role that demands an understanding of teamwork.

Teamwork simply put is “players plugging in to the spot they are needed and doing the job without concern for who gets the glory.”

Are you plugging in to your spot? I’m not talking about the basketball court here. Are you filling your role in the body of Christ?

Throughout the Scriptures we see the reminders of the church being a body with many different gifts. I was reading Nehemiah chapter 3 this morning as it starts the role call of who was repairing the walls of Jerusalem. We find people of all different occupations stepping in to fill their roles. There are goldsmiths, perfumers, merchants, leaders, sons, and daughters. It is a beautiful picture of teamwork with each group having an assigned role.

Yet there is one group of people that stood out to me. I hope you are not like them. In Nehemiah chapter 3, verse 5 it says that the “Tekoites made repairs, but their nobles did not put their shoulders to the work of their Lord.”

Maybe they were too good for menial labor? I hope you are not too good for the work of your Lord. Get busy! You are part of a team!

Monday, June 30, 2008

June 30, 2008 - Buying Into The Coach's Philosophy

As coaching changes have recently taken place in the NBA I have listened to commentators say the same thing about whether each coach will be successful or not. It is the same theory if talking about a brand new, untested coach like Vinnie Del Negro with the Bulls, or veteran coach Larry Brown of the Bobcats. With each one the “experts” say that he must get his players in the locker room to buy into his philosophy.

With Del Negro they cite the fact that he has “been there and done that” as an NBA player so the player might give him the respect he needs. With Brown the fact is that he has coached for numerous NBA, ABA, and college teams. He is the only man to win both an NCAA and NBA championship. Therefore the players should respect him.

I agree that the players must buy into the philosophy. (Of course that is if the coach has a good philosophy.) But I think many would think that it only matters that the players run the plays given to them.

The problem is that players can go through the motions yet still not be at their best. It is when they actually start agreeing with (believing in) the coach’s game plan that they will gel as a team and reach their maximum potential.

In our Christian lives I believe that many Believers are not victorious because they just run through the motions. They have heard God’s game plan and try to execute it; yet are frustrated and do not reach maximum potential. They get down the “thou shalts” and “thou shalt not’s” but are not completely buying into the plan.

You may be one of them that is struggling and saying to yourself, “I agree with God’s plan and yet I still struggle.” Please note that “agreeing that it is” God’s plan and fully “agreeing with” God’s plan are two different things. It comes down to “buying into” His coaching philosophy.

And let me tell you He’s “been there and done that” and He has the experience to be trusted as the Coach. Yet this will only happen if you allow His Playbook to transform you. In the Christian life it is so easy to listen to pastors on Sundays, read a Christian book, and maybe even listen to a message on the radio or a podcast. All good things but don’t let them be a substitute for God’s plan of transformation.

This comes from personal time in the Word where you: “study to show yourself approved”; “hide the Word in your heart”; “be renewed in the attitude of your mind.”

The literal definition of the word repentance is to “change one’s mind.” That simply means to not just go through the motions but to buy into (agree with) God’s philosophy.
[Side note: that is a good way to explain what it means to “walk by faith.” Faith means to believe in. The question then becomes “believe in what?” The answer is: God’s way or philosophy – found in His Playbook. A man of faith is one that has repented (changed his mind) to agree (or buy into) God’s plan.]

Read Psalm 119. Yeah it will take a few minutes but it a great reminder of the importance of God’s Word!

Monday, June 23, 2008

June 23, 2008 - Get In The Game

As I sit here typing this weeks devotion, I have just removed the ice packs from my knees. That was following the tape I removed from my ankle earlier. And I will probably be in a hot shower to try to ease the tight back after I finish this. Yes the old man has been trying to play some hoops the past few weeks and my body is reminding me it is old.

My wife looks at me like I am nuts. She just doesn’t know why I would go through the pain. All I can tell her is that the pain is not the same when I am on the court. Even if I am hurting I simply love being out there. In fact it is kind of sweet when I do something good in spite of the pain (or the fact that I can barely jump anymore.)

Yes basketball is that important to me.

Before Christ left the earth He left us with two basic parts to the “game plan.” One he told us to “preach the Gospel” (evangelize.) [See Mark 16:15]

He also linked into that the command to “make disciples” of those people (discipleship.) [See Matthew 28:19-20]

Therefore, are you “on the court following the game plan”?

I truly think it boils down to a simple observation. If we are not busy evangelizing and discipling, then we simply don’t really love “the game.”

And the excuse that you feel uncomfortable or fearful or unprepared is not a decent excuse. Sometimes we even have to “play hurt.”

Paul’s secret to the Christian life was in not allowing circumstances to dictate his attitude. He realized that following Christ and His “game plan” was far superior than anything this world has to offer!

8 Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ (Philippians 3)

“Get in the game!”

Monday, June 16, 2008

June 16, 2008 - Coach's Disciples

At this time of year on the basketball scene there is a lot of news about college players declaring for the NBA draft, transferring schools, etc. Yet there is also a lot of news of coaching changes. Often times as schools are looking for a new head coach they will get a guy that has been an assistant under a successful head coach.

I love the stories when the pupil meets the teacher in the coaching world. Usually the teams will play very similar styles because the new head coach is carrying on with the training he received as an assistant. That is called “mentoring.” (Or in the Christian world we call it “discipling.”) You can almost always see the joy in the old head coach’s face as his disciple leads his new team.

I just tonight had that similar type of joy. I received an email from a young man that is serving as a coach for us at InBounds Ministries. He is a gifted young man both athletically and in communication. He has worked numerous camps with me, including the camp we did in the Czech Republic. I love his zeal for sharing the Gospel!

As I read his email he mentioned that he had shared the message at a camp in Indianapolis tonight about Christ as our “Substitute” in the “game of life.” He went on to say that he realized he was flying solo on this one because I was usually there at these camps. It brought me great joy to know he is actively sharing this message.

One of the men observing at the camp mentioned that he had never heard the Gospel shared with this analogy and that he loved it. I had a newspaper reporter interviewing me last week and he too said he had never heard it put in that way. The reporter even point-blank asked me to explain using the term “Substitute.”

(And praise the Lord he even put in print that we are referring to Christ suffering as the “Substitute” for the sin of the world. You can see this article at:

My son Clay is in a sleeveless white T guarding a guy under the basket – the reporter wasn’t 100% accurate with his quotes but did get some good stuff in for us.)

The reason I am bringing this up is that I hope we will all get excited about telling this great news. I recall Jesus using an analogy when giving the Gospel that initially confused a guy. The guy was named Nicodemus and Christ told him he had to be “born again. Read John chapter 3.)

Two things to do:
1. Share the message of our “Substitute,” our Savior Jesus Christ!
2. Disciple someone – it is awesome when you hear of them at work!

Monday, June 9, 2008

June 9, 2008 - The Motion Offense

The offense we ran this past year was a very simple motion offense. It involved a basic pattern of passes, cuts, and screens. Yet any play motion that is set up in basketball is designed as a guideline to getting people open. Players need to be aware of what the defense is doing in order to make the right decisions.

In one particular game the guys had gone through the same exact pattern of play for numerous consecutive plays. Obviously the other team's players had figured out where our guys were going and began cutting over picks and beating our guys to their spots. My point guard came to me and said, "Coach, I can't get open. He knows exactly where I am going." I responded by reminding him that he can go to the other side of the floor, or even bypass the first part of the motion and jump straight to setting the back screens, or even cut backdoor when his guy tried to cheat over top of the screen.

The problem was not the motion offense we were running. The problem was that the pattern became more important than the reason we were doing it - to get people open.

In the church the same thing has happened. We have our programs and ways we function in our local bodies and that often overrides the reason for those programs. My buddy (Dr Roy Mason) was preaching yesterday and said "form" has taken precedence over "function." The church has lost its desire to reach the lost. You may say, "No we haven't, we still care about the lost. Look at all the stuff we are doing at our church." Yet my question is has anyone (including you) bothered to actually witness to anyone lately? In form we offer many things yet in function we are getting open to take very many shots (sharing the Gospel.) We are just going through our "motion offense." The fact is that not many new souls are being added to the kingdom daily.

We need to obey Christ's command to preach the Gospel. We need to go beyond the feel good messages of today's church culture and get back to preaching that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of the Living God! He is "the way, the truth, and the life." We have entertained a lot of folks in our churches and at our events, yet the object is to proclaim the Gospel to see souls saved, not just go through the motions!

Romans 1:16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ,[a] for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek.

Monday, June 2, 2008

June 2, 2008 - What Type Of Player Are You?

What type of player are you when things aren’t going your way? Maybe you are not performing as well as you hoped. Maybe you feel you are getting a raw deal? Maybe your teammates are not pulling their weight. Maybe you don’t feel the fans are encouraging you enough.

And I am not just talking about in sports. In life we have the same type of frustrations. And like in sports we need to ask what type of players we are.

John Wooden made an observation that sports don’t just build character, they also reveal character. I have mentioned this over the years in these devotions yet I feel it needs to be repeated.

The fact is that any player (on the court or in life) can show a great attitude when thing are going well. Yet to be a person that is able to have a great attitude in the difficult times is a peculiar thing.

The thing that makes it peculiar is that it is not natural. A person needs to be led by the Spirit in order to show the self-control we are talking about. And being led by the Spirit is not just about avoiding bad sin. It is a transformation of our attitudes. (Look at the list of the Fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5:22-23)

When it is all said and done the truth will come out in the rough times about what type of player you are! Jesus said it even more bluntly than John Wooden.

Luke 645 A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart brings forth evil. For out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.

Monday, May 26, 2008

May 26, 2008 - Ignoring The Coach's Call!

All right team, this week’s devo is going to smack some folks upside the head. The week has brought forth a lot of reminders concerning this devotion and I just felt it needs to be said. (Of course my wife telling me I should write on this subject was a pretty good hint.)

Again this week I heard NBA players attributing their success to the fans in their home arenas. It has been very difficult for teams to win on the road in the playoffs.

Recently I even drew reference to this as a parallel to the body of Christ being supportive and encouraging. Yet in the “game of life” I am seeing far too often that Christians are perfectly content to just be “fans.”

Over and over Christians will make promises to pray for others, commit money to efforts, and will make sure they are at “practice” (church) on Sundays – at least somewhat regularly. The problem is that it is time to get off our butts and get in the game!

This past week I had personal reminders of this problem. Our ministry planned a rummage sale at the new gym facility we are going to use. My wife spent 35 hours in the gym sorting and pricing goods. (She put on over 2000 stickers and still didn’t get everything priced.) Then we spent all day Saturday with the help of one friend, her daughter and daughter’s friend, and our family. Many people donated items (as evidenced by the number of price stickers) and I know it was a holiday weekend, but come on!

This was just one day in our lives but it is a common occurrence. That is why the rule of thumb is that at best 20% of the people will do 80% of the work. I am often told of people’s intentions and then how things just came up to keep them from following through. Can I tell you lovingly that we are all busy? We are called to sacrifice in our lives.

The other reminder I had of this was in our passage for Sunday’s message – James 2:14-26. This passage is written to believers as a rebuke to those that are not active in good works. We know works do not save us when it comes to our eternal destiny. But as you will see if you study this passage closely, they do save us from something. A great way to make sure you are looking at this in context is to ask a simple question: “save from what?” It is clear here that the threat is God’s judgment on believers! Yes the Scriptures promise chastening to unfaithful believers. If you look at the context James is telling the unfaithful that they are doing no better in reaching the world than demons do.

Basically we have God calling our numbers for service and we often just sit there on the bench and ignore the call. NO MORE EXCUSES – GET BUSY!

James 2:18 “…I will show you my faith by my works.”

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

May 19, 2008 - They Don't Play Fair

This past Sunday I had the privilege of sitting under the teaching of one of my former pastors. He is a great communicator of God’s truths. My wife mentioned that she always gets something new from him, even if it seems like a small detail. Sunday was no exception. He took a passage from the book of Joshua and hit us between the eyes with a reminder about our responsibility as God’s children.

The basic jest of the story goes like this. The Israelites had soundly defeated Ai – or more precisely they had destroyed them. Word got around to the surrounding kingdoms and fear began to set in. As the kings looked at their options, the people of Gibeon decided to trick Israel in order to gain safety. Posing as foreigners from a far away land, when in fact they only lived around 24 miles away, they convinced Joshua and the leaders of Israel to make the treaty with them (even though God had warned Israel not to enter into a treaty with the neighbors.)

Once it was found out that the Gibeonites had deceived the people of Israel, the leaders were left with a couple of choices. One, they could break the treaty and destroy Gibeon. Two, they could uphold their promise of the treaty.

As the men of Israel approached the towns where the Gibeonites were from, they did not attack. But wait a minute, the Gibeonites lied to them. They deceived them. The treaty was not valid because the other guys didn’t play fair. Yet the Scriptures are clear as to why the Israelites did not attack.

Joshua 9:18 - But the children of Israel did not attack them, because the rulers of the congregation had sworn to them by the LORD God of Israel

You see the leaders understood a simple principle as God’s children. We are not responsible for how others “play the game.” We are only responsible for our own “play.”

They remind me of John Wooden’s philosophy concerning his teams. He said that they didn’t do a lot of scouting and worrying about the other team. They keyed on being the best UCLA team they could be.

Yet today we look for every loophole we can to get out of contracts and other agreements. Whether it be a business deal or a marriage, we tend to place our decisions on how the other person(s) is “playing.”

Can I simply be the voice of encouragement, or rebuke if need be? Stop looking at everyone else and key on your commitments and oaths you have made before the Lord!

As I performed a wedding ceremony this past Saturday I used the following words that were part of a ceremony in my minister’s manual: “Covenant Love.” I reminded the couple that their vows were not made with conditions. There was no “I promise to..if…”

How is your business life? How are you doing with your marriage vows? Are you a man or woman of your word?

I’m sure some want to write me back and say, “But Todd, you don’t know the situation I am in.” Can I lovingly say this? I care about you and your feelings and your comfort level in life. Yet in some ways I don’t care. I don’t care what others are doing, you’re responsibility is before the Lord to be a man or woman of your word!

Monday, May 12, 2008

May 12, 2008 - Winning On The Road

The 2nd round of the NBA playoffs is quite predictable so far. Up to this point only the “home” team has won a game. No one seems to be able to handle playing “on the road.”
The reasoning you keep hearing players mention is the fact that they have the “home” crowd cheering for them and it is pumping them up.

For guys making millions of dollars to play a game that seems a bit strange to me. I understand that it is nice to have the support of the people around you; but when it comes down to it that shouldn’t be an excuse for poor “road” performance. These guys are established players and should be able to face the adversities of the opponent’s arena.

Yet this is indicative of the modern church as a whole. We love to “play at home.” We get together for our church services and big conferences. We hear the roar of the crowds. We get excited and sing loud. We may even jump up and down. We say the right things and boldly proclaim the name of Christ.

But when we go “on the road” we shut down. We may still avoid doing bad things but we are not aggressive and bold with our faith like we are in front of the “home crowd.” We may even blend in so much that people are not sure which “team” we are on.

It is time for us to “win on the road”! We don’t have to bring others into our “arena” to make a difference. Listen, I am all for good music and exciting programs; but they are far too often a substitute for reaching out and winning in the “opponent’s arena.”

13 “You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt loses its flavor, how shall it be seasoned? It is then good for nothing but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by men.
14 “You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. 16 Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.
(Matthew 5)

Monday, May 5, 2008

May 5, 2008 - Getting Up In His Grill

As a coach it is sometimes necessary to “get up in a player’s grill.” (For those not familiar with that phrase it simply means getting in his face.) Although most coaches do this too often it is nevertheless needed at times to get a point across.

Getting in someone’s grill can be to motivate or pump-up a player. Or it could be because the player needs a stern rebuke. Either way it shows that the coach is passionate about something and expects the player to be as well. Yet in today’s “politically correct” environment it is almost taboo to administer any type of stern correction. Yet some things are worthy of our passion and worth fighting for!

I remember as a young coach coming off of the floor at half-time. The headmaster of the school where I was coaching was sitting across from our bench. As I passed him on the way to the locker room he stopped me and said he could hear me in the huddle from his seat. I was a bit concerned at first until he said, “I like that in a coach!”

Other times the response to my intensity has not been quite as well received.

Yet Biblically we are also commanded to be in people’s grills at times. The church has it backwards though. Our reputation is one of getting in the unsaved world’s faces and ignoring each other – the typical “don’t judge me” mentality. But Scripturally we are called to love those in the world and share the “good news” with them. And we are called to be accountable to one another.

Sometimes the “in your face” approach is to motivate from a positive perspective.

24 And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, 25 not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching. (Hebrews 10)

Other times it involves correction!

12 For what have I to do with judging those also who are outside? Do you not judge those who are inside? 13 But those who are outside God judges. Therefore “put away from yourselves the evil person.” (1 Corinthians 5)

When someone on our “team” (a believer) is in sin, we have the right to get in his grill!

One of my favorite “in someone’s grill” moments took place between Paul and Peter. Peter was being “politically correct” with his Jewish brethren and distorting the Gospel message. (This is something definitely worth fighting for.)

11 Now when Peter had come to Antioch, I withstood him to his face, because he was to be blamed; (Galatians 2) [Read the whole story there for a great lesson in the clarity of the Gospel!]

Paul decided to let Peter hear about it. The wording in English does not fully do this justice. Basically it could say, “I got up in Peter’s grill!”