Monday, February 23, 2009

February 23, 2009 - Let Those Guys Play

Last night Coach Torzewski and I were on the phone discussing outreach opportunities; not only for InBounds Ministries but just in the church in general. As we talked of the need for the church to be more outreach oriented the following picture came into my mind:

Imagine with me an intense game going on. As you look at the players on the floor they are giving it their all – drenched in sweat – breathing heavily. Then you look down the bench of your team and see players that are cheering wildly and as the game draws toward the end some are even sitting with interlocked arms showing unity. Then something strange happens. The coach walks over to one of the players on the bench and tells him to go in; to which the player replies “No Coach, I’m doing my part over hear cheering and showing unity. Let those guys play.”

We live in a society where the average Christian is simply a “benchwarmer” – content to sit on the “bench” (pew) and “cheer on” the “team.” This may be done though the “wave” of the offering plate going by and each one dropping in some money. It may be through the “show of unity” as they sit with interlocked hands in prayer. And although each of those things is vitally important, most “players” are refusing the “Coach’s” call to “get in the game!”

Please hear me straight on this one. As the coach at InBounds I am so thankful for the support of the “bench.” We need your “cheering” via encouragement and dollars given; we need the unity found in prayer. Yet I feel I would be remiss as a coach if I did not also encourage you to “get in the game!” You need to be serving in ministry through your local church and through local, national, and international mission opportunities. You need to view your daily schedule as a mission-field opportunity.

I wrote a few months ago about the phrase I used with a local pastor: “Life is a mission-trip!”

Mark 16:15 And He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature.

1 Corinthians 15:58 Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.

1 Corinthians 15: 58With all this going for us, my dear, dear friends, stand your ground. And don't hold back. Throw yourselves into the work of the Master, confident that nothing you do for him is a waste of time or effort.
(The Message)

Monday, February 16, 2009

February 16, 2009 - Oh yeah, it's on!

It is one thing to be in the game; it is another thing to be a difference maker! I have seen many players that you can rely on to go in the game and not commit turnovers, maybe hit an occasional shot, and not get out of position defensively. Yet these same players are boring to watch and truly do not have much impact on the game.

When a player steps on the floor he goes with basically one of three mindsets:
1. “Oh no, what am I doing here?”
2. “Ok, just don’t mess up.”
3. “Oh yeah, it’s on!”

The first player is going to be one mistake after another. He is not confident of his skills. He has probably not put in enough quality practice time.

The second player is more confident with his skills, yet he is still not ready to make a difference. This player has not come up with a game plan to help his team. He simply wants to avoid hurting his team. There may have been quality practice time, but definitely not quality preparation time.

The third player is ready to give quality playing time because he has put in quality practice time and quality preparation time. This player has envisioned how he can help his team – he has a plan. (He may even make a few more mistakes than player 2 because of his aggression; but he will more than make up for it with production.)

Recently my son had a horrible shooting game. Basically he couldn’t throw it in the ocean. Yet the quarter I was disappointed with was the 1st quarter of the game when he played passive and didn’t shoot the ball. He had practiced hard and even went through some good preparation for the game. Yet he went out passive to begin.

There is an old saying I like: You will miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.”

How about you Christian? Are you “playing the game” aggressively? Or are you just trying to make sure you don’t mess up?

I think far too often we concentrate on ourselves and ignore a directive from the Lord to “go forth.” His game plan is for us to be moving forward – aggressive.

I know it is popular in Christian circles to take the easy approach and say “I’m just going to live a good life and let that do my witnessing.” That is hogwash! We need to have an active, intentional approach to ministry. Souls cannot be saved by just seeing you “not make mistakes.” Souls are saved due to a proclamation of the Gospel. Lives are touched by actually serving (not just praying for or giving some money to.)

The Lord wants you to have quality playing time in the game of life. That involves not just the practice of learning at church but also the quality preparation of coming up with an intentional game plan and executing it.

Quality Practice Time + Quality Preparation Time + Quality Playing Time

23 In all labor there is profit,
But idle chatter leads only to poverty.
(Proverbs 14)

5 The plans of the diligent lead surely to plenty,
But those of everyone who is hasty, surely to poverty.
(Proverbs 21)

What is your “game plan” for today? For this week? Who are you going to reach out to?

Be intentional! Be deliberate! Be a difference maker! Step onto the court of life today and say, “Oh yeah, it’s on!”

Monday, February 9, 2009

February 9, 2009 - Godly Swagger

I just finished re-reading a book I have that deals with playing with confidence. The idea of the book deals with players getting to that point where they walk onto a floor in (game mode) ready to play. It is the thing that gives players a certain swagger - something I believe every successful player must have!

I’m not talking about cockiness and being a jerk. I am talking about the confidence that comes from hard work, dedication, and preparation. The attitude of a player is often the difference in good players and great players. It is often the difference between just having a good season verses winning the championship. (Side note: wearing Old Spice will not give you this swagger!)

Think about it. All players will have some fear and doubts, especially before big games. Yet the player that has put in the time and effort to become his best will trust that it will pay off. Because of the preparation he will feel like he “belongs” in the big game.

I love a quote I saw from Henry Ford. He said: “Whether you think you can or you can’t you’re probably right.”

As believers I think we spend way too little time praying and way too little time serving our Lord. The big problem I run into in counseling is people that feel unworthy, like they don’t belong.

Let me give some counsel to you if you fall into this camp. You are not worthy! But Christ is! I can boldly approach God’s throne in prayer – not because of what I have done – but because of who my advocate is! Hebrews 4 says:

15 For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. 16 Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

I can dig into His Playbook in preparation for “the game of life” and find wisdom because of His promise to me. Yes I can boldly – with confidence – seek God’s wisdom.

James 1:5 If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him. 6 But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind. 7 For let not that man suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; 8 he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.

I can serve – “play the game” – with confidence knowing He is with me!

Matthew 28:18 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.

I can be strengthened from within by the Holy Spirit!

Ephesians 3:16 that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man, 17 that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith;

Christian, you can walk into the “game of life” with confidence – a swagger!

(Yet remember it is because of what He has done and will do in you – not because of what you have and will do for Him. When your confidence is in yourself you will be like the Pharisees and become a cocky self righteous jerk.)

Let’s live life with a Godly Swagger! The Holy Spirit is in us! Christ is with us! The Father has told us to ask Him for help!

Monday, February 2, 2009

February 2, 2009 - 10000 Hours

Last night I had the privilege of sharing with some youth at a Super Bowl party. As I spoke with them I asked them what sets professional athletes apart from the rest. I pose the same question to you. Why do some rise to the top of the athletic world – or for that matter to the top of any area of life?

First let’s start with the obvious. There are genetic issues involved in any of this. We are all born with a certain capacity for size, strength, speed, etc. As much as I would have loved to be over 6’5” as a basketball player, no amount of extra work or extra helpings of green beans were going to get me there. It just wasn’t in my genetic code. I’m sure most offensive or defensive linemen in football did not, as young kids, dream of being great linemen. They like everyone else probably pictured themselves in a glory position such as quarterback or running back – yet genetics took over an their bodies lent themselves to a different position. All of that to simply say that there are some things we do not necessarily have control over.

But within the framework of that genetic capacity is the part we do have control over. That is how close we come to our genetic potential. That is what I think sets the pro athletes apart. They have worked their tails off to get the most out of what they have. They are committed to the process of physical training. They are willing to observe endless hours of film to evaluate their play and tweak the mental side of things.

There is a general rule of thumb in the marketplace called the “10,000 hour theory.” The idea behind this is that in order to achieve an expert level in any discipline one must commit to 10,000 hours of quality practice and pursuit of mastery. In other words, not just a practice that goes through the motions but one that pushes and strives to get better. This breaks down to basically 10 years of 3-hours-per-day commitment.

To someone that is not that interested in sports this would seem very excessive. Why would anyone be willing to give that much time to a game? It boils down to priorities. You will give time to what is important to you. And I happen to believe that Scripturally we are commanded to be committed to any task we set our efforts toward. If it be sports, then play to the honor of the Lord Jesus Christ! We are commanded to not just seek man’s approval but to work as unto the Lord. Read Colossians 3:16-23!

Yet I would rather meddle beyond the sports. How committed are you to the Lord? Are you willing to study the “Playbook” regularly? Do you review the “game film” of your life to see how you are doing? Do you regularly practice serving others as Jesus commanded us to do? Is your commitment in these areas of your life such as sports or jobs a commitment to the Lord and honoring Him? Wouldn’t it be awesome to have Christians that are experts in the Word of God and experts in serving others? That takes time and commitment!

20 I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me. (Galatians 2)