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!