Monday, January 28, 2008

January 28, 2008 - Coaching Is Hard!

Coaching is a very difficult task at times, especially when all of your players are present and healthy. To only be able to put 5 guys on the floor when you have 8 deserving of being there is rough. As a coach you are trying to determine whose gifts best fit the need at the time.
I have a young man that played for me a couple of years ago that is now playing major college basketball. He comes off the bench and at times will take over a game. At other times the coach leaves him sitting and I am watching, wondering why he is not getting playing time. Yet he is on a team where every player is a major talent. It has to be rough to coach that group of guys.
In a game tonight I had a couple of guys sitting that typically are my “energy” guys. I had another young man that I put in to give a few minutes break to one of the starters and he played exceptionally well. Yet I had to make choices based upon how I saw the game unfolding.
One thing is for sure! I am on my guys’ side! I will not make a choice unless I feel it is best for the team. In tonight’s game it allowed us to end up with a win, insuring we will have at least a .500 record for the regular season. Even if we would have lost the game I still simply chose to do what I thought was best for the team at the time.
In life it is easy to fall into the trap of wondering why God allows certain things to happen. It is easyt o get a defeatist mentality when things aren’t going our way – when we seem to” lose a game.” Can I remind you that God is on our side? Can I remind you that “all things work together for good for those that love the Lord and are called according to His purpose”? (Romans 8:28)
Life may seem bleak at times but God knows what He is doing and will “play” you in the right places of the “game.” Peace comes from fully trusting Him in every circumstance. God is bigger than life!
Think about guys like Joseph that had a life full of frustrations yet fully trusted God and “won” in the end!

Monday, January 21, 2008

January 21, 2008 - Losing

There are so many life lessons to learn from both winning and losing. This season has been one of major contrast to this point. We have played teams of much greater physical prowess and skill levels – and got our butts kicked. We have played the other extreme as well with teams that were at the lower end of size and skills – and kicked some butt. It has truly been a tale of two extremes.

The schedule was built this way because it was believed that we should have some weaker teams to play to avoid the potential frustrations that would accompany playing the “giants.”

This mentality is based upon a perceived correlation between the scoreboard and success. This is a misconception. Some of the games in which we have won big on the scoreboard have been some of our lesser successes. Yet we took it on the chin by over 30 points last week and I couldn’t have been more proud of my boys.

I had a fan once tell me that we needed to lessen our schedule because we were getting beat so badly. Yet the same fan sat in the stands when we had a nationally ranked team that was winning big. The people flocked to cheer when it was others that were taking it on the chin. It is as though we are too special to be beaten badly.

This will sound strange but I don’t mind losing on the scoreboard. I think it is great for my guys to get to lace them up against big, college-bound players. I think it is fine for them to be “posterized” by a ferocious dunk. I can teach them about life through that. (I don’t think it is fine to go out and not compete to our highest level to win on the scoreboard though!)

I feel I am much more successful in discipling these guys if I get them to handle defeat with grace and class. Anyone can handle victory well.

We are not too special to get our butts whipped on the court or in life! Lose the perception that because we are Christians life owes us something. The Bible is full of instruction on how we grow and mature through “trials.” The Bible is full of instruction on how we should act in the midst of negative situations.

2 My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, 3 knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. 4 But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing. (James 1)

Monday, January 14, 2008

January 14, 2008 - Great Players

As I was reading an article this morning from the Memphis Commercial Appeal, a quote from Coach Calipari jumped out at me. He was discussing the play of Robert Dozier. Dozier is a big kid that has all of the sudden started dominating games. He is not the most talked about player for the Tigers. He is not projected to be the super star pro. In fact he is often not even mentioned when commentators discuss the team. (Even though there are a few guys on the team projected to be high NBA picks – including a potential lottery pick.)

Yet Calipari stated that right now Dozier is the best player on the team. The quote I loved was: “…He's performing. It's not about potential; it's performance. And his performance is probably the best on our team."

We so often look at people based upon the potential we see in them for to do great things. Yet it is the guy that simply performs at his best that makes a difference. In our Christian world we see a long standing truth – God is more concerned with availability than ability!
If we look at those that God chose to use throughout Scripture we see a group of people that would not rank high on the potential list. I immediately thought about little David rising to be King; I thought of a group of ragtag fishermen becoming Jesus’ chosen; I thought of old Abraham and old Sarah; you get the picture.

How about you this year? Are you ready to “perform” for God? Will you be used by Him?
There are so many opportunities for you to reach out and serve. That is what makes someone a “great player!”

14 “Now therefore, fear the LORD, serve Him in sincerity and in truth, and put away the gods which your fathers served on the other side of the River and in Egypt. Serve the LORD! (Joshua 24)

Monday, January 7, 2008

January 7, 2008 - Dribble Penetration

Recently I preached a sermon dealing with the “growth of the church.“ As we see churches all around us exploding in numbers, a very disturbing statistic comes to light. In the year 1980 32% of Americans professed to be born again. Today 32% of Americans profess to be born again. Can we say there has been church growth in America?
What we see is a lot of church swapping. God’s plan for growth is not about becoming more entertaining as a church body so we can attract people from other churches. God’s plan is that we grow through new births! Unfortunately we live in a society that no longer even uses the term “soul winning.”
My fear is that we have taken the world’s view that we should be “tolerant” and not share our personal beliefs for fear that we might offend. We are content to pass the “ball around the perimeter” and never “penetrate” with the Gospel!
The letter to the Colossians warns of being taken in by worldly philosophies that do not keep Christ and the Gospel at the center. The letter was also sent for the church at Laodicea. The book of Revelation tells us what happens to a church that doesn’t heed the warning. The Laodicean church became “luke warm.” Can it be that that is a good description of our “growing” American church?
Let’s be a “team that penetrates the lane with the ball!”

15 And He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. (Mark 16)