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.