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.)