Monday, April 27, 2009

April 27, 2009 - TEAM

Last Saturday I was able to witness a true display of team camaraderie and unselfish play. I was watching my 11-yr-old son play in a U14 soccer match. The 13 and 14-yr-old players truly made my son feel part of the team.

Sometimes a player plays up with older kids because his skill level demands it. In this case my son was playing up because the number of players at his age level didn’t warrant having a team. Therefore he was moved up to a team that has some very good players; yet he is a player with very little experience and as a result a limited skill set. It would have been very easy to see the older players being resentful that the young kid was on their team. It would have been the norm to see the older players ignore the younger.

Not only did I not see that throughout the season, but Saturday was the culmination of the joy I felt in watching this team. As the game began I immediately noticed that the coach had put my son up on the front line at a striker position. I looked at my wife and said “the coach wants Caleb to get a goal.” To my surprise it wasn’t just the coach. As the game unfolded we could regularly hear the older guys shouting instructions to our son. As older players approached the goal there were shouts of “get Caleb the ball.”

As the 1st half was winding down Sam, one of our most skilled players, had made a run on goal. He dribbled around numerous defenders and was left with just the goalie to beat. This kid is so skilled that he could have literally walked the ball into the goal. As he approached the shouts rang out “hit Caleb!” Sam calmly sent a pass across the mouth of the goal to 11-yr-old Caleb and Caleb punched it in….GOOOOOOOOOAALL! (I’m not so sure how much of a “punch” it was but it went in!)

The team erupted in cheers. Now please note that the game was not hanging in the balance. We were handily winning the match. The team was truly happy for Caleb and in the process encouraging to Caleb. My wife noted that he seemed to play more aggressively after that. My oldest son said he had a discussion with Caleb’s coach over at the bench noting how much more active Caleb was – to which the coach replied “it is amazing what that one goal will do for you.”

As the church we need to be more active in our encouragement of one another. We need to see that we are on a “team.” Just sitting together on Sunday mornings doesn’t cut it. We need to be “in the game” together. And as “players” we need to experience some success.

Caleb’s team targeted him for encouragement and success on Saturday. Do you have a target this week? Who will you encourage? Who will you reach out to? Or are you just going through the motions?

Hebrews 10:24 And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, 25 not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.

Galatians 6:10 Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith.

What a joy to see a TEAM play!

Monday, April 20, 2009

April 20, 2009 - The Flow of the Game

I just returned from a ROCK’em Road Trip to southern Florida – 10 days with 10 boys. It was a tiring trip where we kept them moving. The boys woke up each morning 15 minutes before the sun, took a prayer walk, a morning jog, and quiet time – all before breakfast. Throughout the week we tried to provide opportunities to develop discipline in their lives and to make the idea of ministry/serving others become natural.

As a coach I have always noticed that the great players are ones that make the game look easy. There is an obvious flow to what they are doing. For instance a ball-handler that appears to have the ball on a string – or even an athlete that seems to defy gravity with his graceful flight. But even beyond the physical skill set is the almost innate ability to see the game – to see the opportunities.

Some years I have coached teams where I would have the guys scrimmage more than usual – just because there was a lack of feel for the game. There needs to be a flow in order to see and take advantage of opportunities.

In the church I think too many are sitting on their rumps instead of getting into the game. As a result we miss seeing opportunities for ministry – there is not a natural flow to our game – or should I say a super-natural flow. We need to intentionally get in positions of service and allow the Lord to use us. Serving others should not be awkward to us. Sharing the love of Christ should not be awkward to us.

This road trip had the theme of “No Benchwarmers!” The boys were challenged: “Don’t just stand there, do something!” The theme verse was 1 Corinthians 15:58. In The Message it is paraphrased this way:

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.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

April 13, 2009 - The Final Buzzer

We have finished March Madness with the team winning that most expected to win. From before the start of the season the “experts” were claiming that the University of North Carolina Tar Heels were a lock to be national champs. I went as far as saying that even if they didn’t go all the way that no one could convince me that they were not the most talented team in the country.

Yet with that said, I still did not have them predicted as champs when I filled out my tourney brackets. I just felt they had shown this year that they could play “flat” at times and that can bite you real quick in the tourney.

As the tournament unfolded this year I felt that the Tar Heels were fully convinced they would when. I don’t think there was a doubt in their minds. Yet as the buzzer sounded, even thought the game had been basically out of reach since the first half, the players went crazy. The fans went crazy. Victory was sweet!

This weekend I thought about that thrill of victory. As I shared with some young men about the victory we have as a result of the resurrection of our Savior – and the hopelessness we would have apart from the resurrection of our Savior.

As I was reading back through 1 Corinthians 15 the reminder of the trumpet sounding and the redeemed meeting Christ in the air made me think of that final buzzer championship feeling!

In spite of the fact that our victory is sure through Christ, it won’t diminish the incredible joy of hearing that blast. What a celebration it will be!

Are you excited about what Christ has accomplished for us? Share the championship message of Easter with someone this week. Study 1 Corinthians 15 as Paul is directed by the Holy Spirit to talk of the importance of the Gospel in verses 3-4; and then to spend time giving the assurance and hope that is found in the resurrection.

But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. (vs. 57)

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

April 6, 2009 - A Blind Squirrel

This afternoon I watched my 9 yr old son in a soccer game. Elisha is very fast, has good size, and good stamina. Yet he knows very little about the game and typically doesn’t exhibit a competitive spirit – but he has fun. In the game today he was very active and low and behold he scored a goal – proving that even a blind squirrel will sometimes find a nut.

He really had a great time and told me afterwards that soccer is his favorite sport. I was so glad he enjoyed himself. The great lesson was seeing him give it a try – putting forth the effort.

This week we celebrate the greatest story in history – the death and resurrection of our Savior Jesus Christ. What an awesome truth to see that God loved us so much that He would send His Son to die in our place. And that we could have eternal life through believing in Him!

Why don’t you share that message with someone this week? I don’t want to hear the excuse that you don’t feel qualified or you don’t know how to. “Get in the game and play!” It is not about you anyway. Romans 1:16 tells us that the Gospel is the power of God unto salvation – just share what Jesus has done for you and for the person you are talking to.

You may be surprised by the results – even a blind squirrel will sometimes find a nut!

(Share John 3:16, Romans 3:23, Romans 5:8, Romans 6:23, 2 Corinthians 5:21, Ephesians 2:8-9, and the list could go on and on…)