Wednesday, October 29, 2008

November Newsletter

Hello Sports Fans,

As we approach the holidays, I want to let you know how thankful we are for each of you. It is an honor to be able to send out weekly devotions, to preach and sing in your churches, to worship together, etc. It has also been an honor to serve beside some of you in ministry.

As with any newsletter I will give you a recap of where we have been; an update of where we are planning to go; and a statement of where we are at. [I will also add in a family update at the end to serve as our Christmas cards.]

The last few months have been very busy on the ministry front. We have had great opportunities to share the Gospel and to see people respond. We have had great opportunities to disciple believers via our ROCK’em Road Trip and our outreach into churches and youth groups. I was recently in St. Louis to speak at an AWANA convention and even got to spend the weekend with my wife. (We dropped the kids off at Grandma and Grandpa’s on the way!) The month of October alone saw me with over 15 opportunities in outreach (all of this with Coach Torzewski actively working in Indianapolis as well!)

I recently met with staff and board members to discuss 2009. The opportunities are exploding. As it stands I will be returning to the Dominican Republic in the Spring with students from Statesville Christian School. I also have a trip planned to Alaska for some outreach to churches and it has been requested that we return to the Czech Republic. (We are turning down requests often for missions outreach simply due to lack of time, helpers and finances.) Also in 2009 we will embark on at least 3 of our ROCK’em Road Trips where we take players on the road for intense basketball and life discipleship. These trips are a great time of learning and encouragement. Then there are the 16 Blacktop Bible Clubs we have on the agenda for the NC and IN regions; Coach T will be returning to Cornerstone Festival to conduct the basketball outreach; etc. It is shaping up to be a busy year.

Now to the statement of where we are presently. As mentioned before, the ministry opportunities are abounding. What is not abounding is our bank account. As it stands we barely have enough to pay November’s basic bills. Therefore December and 2009 need a boost. I have often seen God do big things at times like this and have no reason to doubt He will again. Yet I also have to be open to the fact that we don’t always have plans turn out the way we envisioned. If this financial miracle does not take place we will be unable to follow through with all the opportunities that 2009 holds. I ask you to consider sacrificially giving to our ministry at this time. I can guarantee you that it will result in a clear Gospel message being taken all over the world! I can guarantee you that it will result in God’s Playbook being magnified in people’s lives!

As for Team Burden: We are doing well. The kids are growing up way too fast. Lisa and I just celebrated our 15th wedding anniversary and our oldest turned 13 this past summer. Yes life will be different with a teenager in the house. All of these years of ministering to teens and their parents; now I am the one in need of help! It will be a typical, busy holiday season for us. Three of our kids have birthdays between now and the end of the year. Plus there happens to be that birthday we celebrate of our incredible Savior. Our family wishes you joy this year that can only be found through the promised Savior of Luke chapter 2. He came to provide our way of peace with the Father. No matter how the world around us seems to be crumbling, we can stand on that promise of the good news!

Merry Christmas!
Team Burden

Monday, October 27, 2008

October 27, 2008 - Get Your Head In The Game

In sports it is important to learn to keep your head in the game. In fact as coaches we are often heard telling players to do just that. Usually a player has been distracted by something he feels is unfair or disappointing or maybe even something that was exciting and caused him to lose focus.

I can remember a game as the coach where I diagrammed an out of bounds play for one of my guys. It was for a last-second shot to win the game. I told the player that I would yell when it was time to pull the trigger for the shot so he wouldn’t have to watch the clock. As the boys went back onto the floor someone behind me said something to me. Without even knowing the ball had been put into play the time elapsed and I had not given my player his cue. I was distracted and didn’t keep my head in the game.

Focus is hard when there are so many distractions. There are entire books for athletes that explain using visualization techniques to get in the right mind-set. Coaches try to emulate game situations in practices so players won’t be distracted. Yet we all lose our heads at times.

How about you in your Christian life? Do you lose your head sometimes? I think Scripture gives us some stern warnings about “keeping our heads in the game.”

15 See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, (Ephesians 5)

8 Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. (1 Peter 5)

Do you see the warning? We need to stay alert. We have an opponent – an enemy – that wants us to lose our heads.

If we are going to “keep our heads in the game”, we need to determine how to accomplish that. Colossians 3 tells us what we should be focusing on.
1 If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. 2 Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth.

With every area of our lives we should be focusing on “things above.” Our perspective should be one of realizing we are always in the “game” and need to “play” accordingly. In fact the chapter goes on later to say that in everything we do and say, we should do it with all of our hearts unto the Lord. (See verses 17 and 23)

Here is your challenge this week: Realize that your time at work, at school, at home, etc. is all part of the “game.” You need to “get your head in the game” and stay focused on things above. Everything you do has eternal consequences.

Monday, October 20, 2008

October 20, 2008 - Learning the Offense

I was recently reading an article about the University of Memphis’ basketball team. Official practices began this past weekend and they are faced with multiple newcomers on their squad. The article keyed on the difficulty some of the guys were having in adjusting to a new system.

The reason it is difficult is because Memphis plays an offense that is run very contrary to traditional plays and motion. Newcomers often will find themselves doing what comes naturally from years of basketball, yet in the wrong place because of this new system.

In fact Coach Calapari goes as far as saying, "It's not only like, a different style. This is not even the same sport they ever played, the way we do this, It's truly like the beginnings of the West Coast offense in football where, everything you ever learned, throw away. We're doing it different. Your job is different now. Throw it out. It doesn't help you here on offense."
That is kind of what happens in our Christian lives. It is an entirely new system of doing things. God’s ways are contrary to our natural tendencies. It is a system where leaders are servants. It is a system where humility is encouraged. It is a system where we are told to consider others as more important than ourselves. It is a crazy system where the first shall be last and the last shall be first.

This is accomplished through being Spirit-controlled instead of flesh-controlled. It is a system where the “playbook” has supernatural powers to transform your mind.

As I was recently talking with a friend it occurred to me; I have often heard people being told to be themselves. I don’t want to be myself! I want to have the Spirit ruling. I want Christ to live through me.

30 He must increase, but I must decrease. (John 3)

16 I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. (Galatians 5)

How do you know if you are “getting it” in God’s offense? By the result that occurs:

22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law. 24 And those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25 If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. 26 Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another. (Galatians 5)

Monday, October 13, 2008

October 13, 2008 - Coaching Debut

This week's devo is submitted by Coach Torzewski. Coach T is the midwest coach for InBounds Ministries and has a great heart for ministry. Read his story and you will see he also has some boldness.

" Let me tell you about my NBA coaching debut:

I have recently been working part time for an event security company. I had the pleasure Wednesday October 8th to work the Indiana Pacers first preseason game. As I arrived to venue, I was told I would be working courtside behind the opponent’s bench, which was great, since the teams were having shoot around and fans were not to arrive for nearly 1 ½ hours. This gave me time to watch the players shoot around.

One of the opposing team’s players was getting his shots on the left side baseline about 10-15 feet from the hoop. As I watched him from 4-5 feet away, I noticed out of 20 consecutive shots, he missed 3. Now his form was nearly perfect, his balance was great and he elevated very well. While this is an outstanding percentage, the 3 shots he missed were a result of a simple fundamental habit. As he lined up to shoot, his elbow pointed out causing the flick of his wrist to follow through away from his target. His trainer/coach who was feeding him the ball never pointed this out so I said to the player “You missed only 3 shots but they were from the same thing”. He looked at me almost with amazement and said “Seriously”. I went on to explain what I observed and challenged him to shoot 10 shots holding his follow through when he was done. With that said he agreed and started his ten. He missed 2 of the 10 shots and each was for the reason I pointed out. After that he came over and thanked me for pointing that out and told his trainer/coach to help more. Our conversation lasted about 2-3 minutes talking about the elementary fundamentals that can easily get overlooked as we grow in our ability and it is always a good reminder. I apologized to him for not introducing myself and getting his name at which time he shook my hand and said “I’m Chris Paul”

Now, anyone who enjoys basketball knows of Chris PauI but I must admit that I had never seen him. I know of his accomplishments “ USA Olympic team, NBA all star, explosive game changing player” but here was this fellow athlete willing to listen to poor old me in an attempt to better his skills. The same can be said in our Christian lives. Are you open to what God says to you through others, prayer and his living word? Are you helping the others better their skills for the kingdom (are you kingdom minded)?

What we don’t see is that this basketball player was committed to improving, growing and getting better at his game, but most of the hard work is done behind the scene if you will. We don’t see the hundreds of shots a day, the running, lifting and studying of film. You will not grow in your faith without doing the behind the scenes work. Prayer, spending time in Gods word and truly being open to his plan in your life are just a few of the things we should not only do, but should desire.

I am reminded of how Peter ends his letter in 2 Peter (3:17-18) - 17)Therefore, dear friends, since you already know this, be on your guard so that you may not be carried away by the error of lawless men and fall from your secure position. 18) But grow in the GRACE and KNOWLEDGE of our Lord and Savior JESUS CHRIST.

He is warning us against false teachings but also about our growth.

How do you fair in improving your game?

In Christ,

Coach T"

Monday, October 6, 2008

October 6, 2008 - Perspective

Coaching is very stressful at times. You are trying to make decisions and give directions that will either positively or negatively affect the outcome of the game. And at the same time the opponent’s coach is doing the same thing. So every plan you devise is somewhat dependant upon the other team doing what you expect.

Can you imagine how less stressful it would be if as the coach you already knew your team was going to win? You could give direction and encourage the players on how to handle situations, all while knowing the outcome. It would create a totally different perspective on how you view the game.

The Apostle Paul had an amazing ability to be content in his life in spite of circumstances. In fact his life was better in the physical realm when he was still Saul. Yet Paul is consistently championing the cause of JOY and PEACE in our lives.

His secret (at least one of them) was a new attitude based upon a new perspective. He knew the things happening in the game of life were temporal and that when the buzzer sounded for the “game” to be over that he was on the winning team!

That is why he can say that the bad things that happened to him were to further the Gospel. That is why he could say that to die would simply be gain. In other words he was saying “the game may be going bad right now but I am going to keep pressing on because I know it will end up in the right place.” (Study the letter to the Philippians to see Paul’s perspective.)

I was able to get a picture of this type of mentality recently. A dear friend purchased season passes for my family to an amusement park near where we live. The first time we used them I was standing in a long line for a coaster. I typically get very frustrated in lines like that, yet that particular day I noticed that I was fine. I was pressing toward the goal of riding on the coaster but was stress free in spite of the slow progress. Then it dawned on me: I was stress free because I had a different perspective. If the line took so long that I missed going on another ride then so be it. I had a season pass; I could come back the next day if I wanted to. Having a victorious view of the end circumstances made the present circumstances much more bearable.

Can I remind you of something you already know? Life is hard and will flat out kick you in the teeth some times. Yet if you are on God’s team you can still be content knowing the outcome – one of ultimate victory when the game is over and one of temporal victory with the promise that God works all things for good to those that love Him (Romans 8:28).

We need to live with a victorious, eternal perspective, not one that is based upon temporal circumstances!