Monday, May 25, 2009

May 25, 2009 - Adversity = Opportunity

Over the years I have been privileged to coach quite a few players that possess tremendous skills on the basketball court. It is quite amazing to see the abilities they have - both natural and learned. Some are incredible shooters; some incredible leapers; some incredibly fast; some simply see the floor better than everyone else; and every once in awhile you get guys that are great in many categories.

Yet having great skills/athleticism is not all it takes to be a great player. It is one thing to be a practice player and a totally different thing to be a big-game player. I have often been scouting another team during their warm-ups and witnessed a kid that hit everything he threw up. Usually an assistant or someone would comment about what a great shooter the kid is. My response is normally, “We’ll see what he does with a hand in his face – a lot of people can shoot open jumpers.”

The point is that in order to be a great player, one must be able to perform under the adversity of the bright lights, the big game, poor referees, when behind on the scoreboard, etc. The simple fact is that the game is sometimes played under difficult circumstances.

In the church we have a lot of “players” that do well when things are going good. WHOOPEE! Even the world has good attitudes and does well when things are going in their favor. The true mark of a “great player” on God’s team is how he or she performs under adversity. Is the fruit of the Spirit evident? Are they still “making the right plays”?

I recently returned from the Dominican Republic and saw “great players” that live in adverse conditions yet still serve the Lord through loving His people.

10 If you faint in the day of adversity, your strength is small. (Proverbs 24)

Adversity should equal opportunity for us to shine as believers!

For additional reading this week go to:
A good friend sent this link in an email and it is a great read that I would call “Like Christ, if I could be like Christ!”

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Dominican Republic Trip

I returned this weekend from a trip to the DR. We had a great opportunity to share in many ways. This trip was the senior trip for students from Statesville Christian School working with SCORE International.

We spent the first day passing out Gospel tracts in Santo Domingo. What an awesome thing to see as hundreds of people accepted the tracts (and every person I witnessed taking a tract began reading it immediately.)

Days 2 and 3 involved conducting medical clinics in villages.

Day 2 included the bus getting stuck going up a muddy hill - (and us having to unload the trailer, unhitch it, get the bus moving to flatter ground, and then tie a rope between the two and help push the trailer up the hill.) The village we finally arrived at was incredibly poor, yet very happy to not only get medical treatment but also play ball with the students, enjoy the puppets, clowns and balloons, get faces painted, etc. I was given the opportunity to share the Gospel (with the help of a translator.) In the midst of this poor community I heard numerous "amens" and saw many smiles. Afterwards the pastor's wife told us that the village in the garbage dump was better off than this village because they had more food and clothing that they could find in the trash.

Day 3 was a repeat from day 2 (aside from the stuck bus.) The village had some nicer homes than the first but obviously the same needs. The staff treated 104 people that day (including a little baby with AIDS that will die very soon apart from a miracle. She was 11 months old and weighed less than 5 lbs.) Shadrach (a Dominican SCORE missionary) shared the Gospel this day.

Day 4 was a break from the work at hand for a trip to Catalina Island for some snorkeling, swimming, sand volleyball, etc. It is a beautiful place and gave some much needed rest and relaxation.

Day 5 was our scheduled final day in the Dominican. Yet it was full of excitement. In the morning we visited a special needs orphanage and were able to love on 21 beautiful kids. The seniors fed them, played with them, and gave them the gift of touch. there were many hugs, laughter, and tears.

This was followed by our arrival at the airport to the news that our flight was canceled. 31 people in a ticket line not knowing what is going on can cause quite a log jam. When the dust had finally settled there were 4 of us that went on to Miami Friday night and the other 27 spent another night in the DR. (I was greeted on Saturday morning by a ticket agent that did not understand what had happened and made it very interesting to get my connecting flight back to NC.)

Now we are all home and can look back at an awesome trip. You can find photos of the trip at our MySpace address or at my Facebook page or at the InBounds Ministries group Facebook page. Take a look and enjoy. While you are at it pray for the hundreds who received the Gospel message and for the physical needs of these deeply impoverished people.

Friday, May 15, 2009

May 18, 2009 - That Was An Ugly Shot!

Often times players can be heard rating a shot. They will yell things like, “That was pretty!” Or things like, “That was ugly!” My response as a coach/instructor/player is that the box score doesn’t record pretty and ugly – just if it went in!

A few years ago I preached a funeral for a very dear friend. He was a young man that had lived hard. As I looked at the crowd gathered to mourn the loss I explained to them that I believed my friend is in Heaven. I then added in, “But let’s not kid ourselves, he doesn’t deserve to be. You know how he lived.” That may seem very harsh, yet true. And it was an incredible way to share the beautiful truth that salvation is found in the finished work of Christ – not how “pretty” we live. This young man understood his need for a Savior and believed on the Lord Jesus Christ to be saved.

A few months ago I preached a funeral for an old man. He was very dear to me and had lived a life of serving the Lord. As I looked at the crowd gathered to mourn the loss I explained to them that I believed my friend is in Heaven. I then added in, “He would want you to know that he doesn’t deserve to be.” This man had lived what most would consider a “pretty” life – yet not a perfect life. This old man understood his need for a Savior and believed on the Lord Jesus Christ to be saved.

Heaven’s box score didn’t record pretty and ugly for these guys’ salvation – just if they went in – based upon the righteousness of Jesus Christ!

21 For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. (2 Corinthians 5)

Monday, May 11, 2009

May 11, 2009 - Shooters Shoot

“Don’t mistake activity for achievement.” (Coach John Wooden)

Sometimes we are so busy being busy that we aren’t accomplishing very much. Last week the devotion centered on the idea of “moving without the ball.” The jest of the devo was that scorers have to get ready before they ever get the ball – feet set, hands up, etc.

Yet it is not just movement – it has to be intentional, purposeful movement! I have often told players to stop standing around only to have them run around aimlessly. I have often taught players a play only to see them make their cuts without even looking for the ball.

The whole purpose of plays and movement is to find openings. It should be very intentional – have purpose.

Often our churches are full of activity – yet not always achievement. There was a big push in the recent past for a thing called lifestyle evangelism. The idea was to let your testimony do the witnessing for you. The basic idea was that we just need to live our lives in a proper way and that will draw people.

(Now don’t get me wrong – our testimonies are important – just read last week’s devotion where I talk about our testimonies being the thing that sets our feet to take good shots. If you have a poor testimony, you at best can take unbalanced shots.)

Yet let’s not mistake activity for achievement. To not look for specific openings to share the Gospel is like running around on the court and never looking to score. You may dribble well, pass well, etc. Yet the game is won by scoring points.

As the church/individuals we need to become intentionally evangelistic! We need to take inventory of the things we are doing and see where or if the Gospel is going out. I recently visited my home in Indiana. One of the things on my agenda was to present the Gospel again to my parents. I had the week before preached a sermon at a funeral. It gave me a great platform to share from. I opened up by talking to my folks about their desires for where they will be buried, funeral arrangements, etc. I then asked, “And what about eternity? Where would you like your reservations to be?” It was a simple, intentional way to again go into the Gospel!

We’ve got to take some shots with the Gospel! I have a simple philosophy as a coach: Shooters shoot!

So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. (Romans 10:17)

And remember that you will miss 100% of the shots you don’t take!

Monday, May 4, 2009

May 4, 2009 - Moving Without The Ball

When I train in basketball I spend a lot of time emphasizing preparation before one gets the ball. By that I mean a player has a responsibility to move without the ball to get open, or to get a teammate open; he needs to get his feet ready to catch and shoot; he needs to have his hands up and ready for his teammates to see he’s ready; etc. Basically a scorer’s work is often done before he ever touches the ball.

This preparation takes a lot of work and training. It requires a commitment to more than just shooting in order to be a total player.

We are often in the Christian life exhorted to share the Gospel – and we should be – that was the game plan given by Jesus Himself. (And please understand that “the Gospel is the power of God unto salvation” [see Romans 1:16] – so the following is simply to enhance the delivery!)

My encouragement to you is to make sure you are “moving without the ball.” By that I mean you should be training and living in a way that sets you up to “take the shots” with the Gospel.

Your testimony should be one that gets your “feet” ready to share the Gospel. (After all, “beautiful are the feet of him that brings good news...”[Isaiah 52:7]) If your testimony is out of line the hearer may focus on that instead of the Gospel message.

How do people view you? It is popular to say “who cares what people think.” Well the answer to that is that God does. He tells us throughout Scripture to make sure our testimonies are right.

Take inventory of your life today! Are you a “light”? Are you “salt”?

Matthew 5:13 “You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt loses its flavor, how shall it be seasoned? It is then good for nothing but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by men.
14 “You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. 16 Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.

Are you moving without the ball?