Monday, April 28, 2008

April 28, 2008 - Most Improved Player Awards

The Most Improved Player award was announced today for the NBA. The player that received the award was Hedo Turkoglu or the Orlando Magic. This guy was given an opportunity this year and jumped on it with career highs in 3 different offensive categories.

I love to see players rise to the occasion! I love to see them work hard to improve, but also to make sure that when opportunity knocks, they answer.

Many times players just need to be put in the right circumstances to find success. They simply need more opportunities to be involved.

Scripturally we find that we should always strive to improve. As Paul said in Philippians 3:12-15 –

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.
15 Therefore let us, as many as are mature, have this mind; and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal even this to you. 16 Nevertheless, to the degree that we have already attained, let us walk by the same rule, let us be of the same mind.

Yet we also find that God has prepared works for us to walk in and find success. Ephesians 2:10 –

10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.

Yet many of us are content to stay in the shadows and let others do the work. Maybe you are just a benchwarmer (pew sitter) thinking that going to church is your only requirement. Maybe you think it is just about whether or not you avoid the big sins. Maybe you are content to just be a good person. Maybe you attend a big church so you can be just a number. (I say that realizing that many in big churches work their butts off – yet many are just there for the ride.)

I think God wants more of us than that. Are you active in ministry? Is your church active in missions locally and abroad? Or is it just about programs at the church?

I read about a church this morning that has chosen to spend $100 a week to meet at a pizza parlor so they can focus on their commitment of giving 60% of their budget to missions. (Awesome! - as long as they are also participating in the work of missions beyond financial gifts.)

How would you rank on the Most Improved list? Are you growing? Are you getting more involved in the game?

Monday, April 21, 2008

April 21, 2008 - Sitting the Bench

Last week i wrote about the idea of "minutes played" in the "game of life." Yet as much as I long to see "players" in the game, there are times we find ourselves sitting on the bench.

I thought about this yesterday as I was watching an NBA game. The cameras scanned down the bench and it hit me that every one of the players they showed were used to being an all-star in his past basketball experience. Each player was a star at the high school and college levels. Each player has incredible skills in order to be on an NBA roster. In fact I don't believe there is a such thing as a bad player in the NBA. They can all play at a very high level.

Yet I wondered what was going through their minds. Were they frustrated while riding the pines? Were they maybe angry deep down that they weren't in the game? Were they thinking that they could do a better job than the guys on the court? Were they wondering if the coach had forgotten about them?

In life we sometimes get to feeling that way about God. We wonder if He has forgotten us. We feel all alone.

King David had feelings like this. Psalm 13 records his thoughts.

1 How long, O LORD? Will You forget me forever?
How long will You hide Your face from me?
2 How long shall I take counsel in my soul,
Having sorrow in my heart daily?
How long will my enemy be exalted over me?

Have you ever felt this way? Maybe you feel this way right now. The Psalm goes on to share David's frustrations but the ending is the key. David's conflict is resolved when he remembers that he can trust the Coach! David realizes that present circumstances do not override the greatness of what God has done for him. As a result he moves from frustration to rejoicing.

5 But I have trusted in Your mercy;
My heart shall rejoice in Your salvation.
6 I will sing to the LORD,
Because He has dealt bountifully with me.

No matter what you are going through right now you can trust that God knows what is best. If you are on the bench then God is either disciplining you for things you have done wrong, laziness, etc. - or - He realizes you simply need a rest. But one thing is for sure - He has not forgotten about you!

Try rejoicing in Him for the salvation He has given you. Try rejoicing over all He has done for you. Think upon His promises. Be ready when He calls your name to put you back in the game!

Monday, April 14, 2008

April 14, 2008 - Minutes Played

I enjoy taking a browse through the box scores of games – especially if it involves a player I have coached for or against – or just a favorite player. The purpose of a box score is to let the reader know everything from how many points , rebounds, steals, etc to even telling how many minutes the player played.

The past couple years I have been glued to the results of games that included some of my former players. I usually am more concerned with minutes played than even the points scored. I just like to know they were in the game.

In our Christian walks we do not have the luxury of a box score. Many things that we accomplish “on the court” of life we will not even know about until we reach Heaven. In fact much of what we do involves the idea of planting and watering, more than the visible reaping of the harvest. For some reading this you will remember an old Ray Boltz song called Thank You. That song painted the picture of arriving in Heaven and having people come up to you that you had reached in life. What an awesome time that will be. And also what a surprising time I think it will be.

So my concern in ministry is not the typical things one would look for in the box score. Most are concerned with the count of how many people come forward in a service or any of the measurable things. But much like with looking at my former players I am concerned with seeing that we are getting quality playing time.

How does your “minutes played” column look? Are you in the game for God on a regular basis or do you just periodically “step on the floor?”

As I write this devotion I am on a missions trip in Costa Rica, surrounded by some folks that have given their lives to “staying in the game” for God. I have heard challenges to be a missionary, abroad or right there at home. I am with teenagers that need to consider the challenges. Yet it also reinforces the decision we made to go full time with our ministry.

Let me challenge you this week to be a “player”! There should not be “benchwarmers” on God’s team!

Read 1 Corinthians 3:5-9. Note the phrases: “as the Lord has assigned to each one his task"; (vs. 5) and “For we are God’s fellow workers” (vs. 9).

Monday, April 7, 2008

April 7, 2008 - In Christ's Huddle

As a coach I bring my team into a huddle in order to give them direction. I often will pull out my dry erase board and diagram it for them. I will tell each individual player what I expect for him to do.

Obviously the players have some responsibility there as well. They need to be attentive in the huddle and willing to execute what I diagram for them.

What would you think of a player that totally disregarded his coach’s instructions? It is not the type of player you’d want on your team, is it?

What type of “team-player” are you? Do you listen in the huddle?

Christ was very direct with his explanation of the “Gameplan” for each of us. It has not changed since He instituted it. Yet we continually need to be reminded of it. So let’s get back into Christ’s huddle.

18 And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen. (Matthew 28)

Note that this is a very specific plan. He told us to “Go.” This is very clear that we are called to take the Gospel to people! Don’t misunderstand this. Too many of you are willing to “set the pick” to free up someone that is going but not willing to “go” yourself. What in the world am I talking about there? Too many have fallen victim to the reasoning that they can just give financially or pray for those that “go.” Don’t get me wrong, those are admirable things that you should do. But that doesn’t fully allow for you to fulfill the command made to you.

The word “go” there has the idea of “as you are going.” It is a command to all of us to be witnesses wherever we are at. And by witnesses it means actual mouthpieces. It is not just about being a good testimony.

We are also commanded there to “make disciples.” This means we should not stop at just sharing the Gospel message but we should also be involved in teaching God’s Word and Ways! How long have you been on God’s team? Are you busy teaching anyone? Or are you just a sponge that is being a benchwarmer?

In Christ’s huddle we are called to do some specific things. Are you gonna be a player or a benchwarmer?

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Summer Opportunities!!!!!!

Summer Opportunities!

Greetings Sports Fans from the Total Player Academy (InBounds Ministries)

Welcome to our “blog.” This is used by our ministry to share our weekly sports devotions, newsletters, and also announcements. Recently we were able to announce the awesome news that God had provided a gymnasium in Lincolnton, NC for us to use for our “home” events. As the summer schedule is unfolding I figured the easiest (and cheapest way) I could initially fill people in is right here. This entry is for everyone who knows someone. Yes, you may know just the right person(s) to plug into this outreach! So please read all the way through.

This summer will include many of our Saturday Hoops School sessions for boys and girls in 1st through 8th grade. These sessions will key on fundamentals and always will include a devotion from God’s Playbook. The dates of the sessions are as follows:
June 14, 21; July 19; August 9, 23, 30
(Times to be announced at
Sessions = 3 hours / Cost $20 [$100 for someone that pre-registers for all 6 sessions.]

The things I am most excited about are the three residential camps we have on the agenda. Each camp will capped at 10-12 players to insure maximum reps on and off the court. These are discipleship camps designed for the serious player on the court and in the game of life. They will involve intense, advanced work on the court. They will also involve intense, advanced life lessons from God’s Playbook. In short these are Elite Camps for Basketball Disciples from all over the country!

Residential Camps that are scheduled include:
High School Boys - June 15-19
Middle School Boys - August 10-14
Cost: $250 (Includes Food, Lodging, Instruction, Shirt, and Activities)

PLUS a ROCK’em Road Trip where the players will put skills into action as we travel to Chicago to team with Child Evangelism Fellowship in their Greater Chicago Outreach. We will still have training sessions for the players but they will also conduct Blacktop Bible Clubs where we combine basketball teaching and Bible teaching in neighborhoods.
Middle/High School Boys/Girls – July 20-August 2
Cost: $500 (Includes Food, Lodging, Instruction, Shirt, and Activities)

Residential Camps and the ROCK’em Road Trip are Invitation Only camps based upon applications received. Applications require reference letters as well. For more info or applications please contact Coach Burden at or call him at 704.450.2042.

And there is plenty more that will be added as we settle into our new facility.

Now you may be thinking “Why did I read all of this? I am not in the age group that most of this blog is about.” True, but you know some that are. If you are a parent, teacher, coach, youth pastor, pastor, etc., you could help us tremendously by:
• pointing people to our site
• having me send you some summer brochures to hand out
• forwarding this email to your school, church, personal directories
• linking our websites a/o blogs to your websites

We do not have the funds to do a huge advertising campaign. But we do have the networking resources to let a lot of people know about this.

We also have a limited staff and time. Therefore it is difficult to do all the legwork required to get this out. Yet in the small amount of time it has taken me to write this and for you to forward to appropriate places, we can reach thousands.

Please help us and also pray - as the schedule is very busy with these things and our foreign missions outreach.