Monday, August 31, 2009

August 31, 2009 - Freelance

If I tell a team that they are at liberty to run a freelance offense what do I mean?

Am I telling them they do not have to follow the rules of the game? Am I telling them they can be selfish and not consider their teammates? Am I telling them they can forget things they have been taught about the game? “No” is the answer!

In fact it is just the opposite. I want my players to remember everything they have been taught and enjoy the freedom to use that teaching. This is when I trust the team to understand the way the game is supposed to be played; I expect the game/teamwork to come naturally.

In the Christian life we have been given the freedom of a “freelance” way of living; one that is based upon grace, not law. Yet I encounter many that use this “liberty” as an excuse for “dumb play.” It is true that we are “free” in Christ. Yet I believe that it is a freedom to serve Him, not ourselves. I believe it is a liberty to live the way God intended based upon our understanding of His “Playbook.”

(Galatians 5)

1 Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage…13 For you, brethren, have been called to liberty; only do not use liberty as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.

Monday, August 24, 2009

August 24, 2009 - Miserable Pros

I daily read or hear about pro athletes that simply are miserable people. Of course I hear the same about entertainers, politicians, etc.) The simple fact is that having all the money and power still does not satisfy. Having all the toys does not bring lasting joy.

Today I saw a story about a 20-yr-old young man that I have met and coached against. He is a very engaging young man with insane physical abilities. He is handsome and built like a tank. He also happens to now be filthy rich and wildly popular. His name is Michael Beasley. He was the number 2 pick in the NBA draft last year and has finished his rookie season.

Today’s news is that he is in a rehab facility dealing with depression. There is some speculation that there are drug issues. I am not sure what the reasons are, I just see that a young man is miserable in spite of having all the earthly goods.

Our Christian lives are designed to teach us to not live for or be controlled by material things and circumstances. The Bible tells us that true joy is not found in earthly gain. The Bible tells us that there is hope, security, and joy in the midst of all this chaos.

One of my favorite passages dealing with this, (and one I’d love to share with Michael), is found in John 14. It involves a direct promise from the lips of Christ. I hope this comforts you today and brings you true joy.

27 Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.

Monday, August 17, 2009

August 17, 2009 - Intensity

Are you old enough to remember ABC’s Wide World of Sports? I love the catch-phrase: “The thrill of victory and the agony of defeat.” It takes into account the human drama and intensity of athletics.

The word intense is often used in the idea of sports and life. I went online to the Encarta Dictionary and found the following definition:

Definition of Intense (from the Encarta Online Dictionary):

1. extreme: great, strong, or extreme in a way that can be felt

2. effortful or active: involving great effort or much activity

3. concentrated: narrowly focused or concentrated

4. passionate: feeling or showing strong and deeply felt emotions in a serious way

5. thrilling: extremely exciting or pleasing ( informal )

Sports give us that rush of adrenaline. They bring up a fire in our bellies. They excite us.

Can you say that about your Christian life? Is it “intense”? Does it give you a rush?

I think it should. Yet for most even their Christianity is a spectator-based event that cheers when we hear good things. I think we are meant to all be “in the game.”

I think of guys like Jeremiah who wanted to give in and couldn’t. (See Jeremiah 20:7-9) He was being mocked and threatened. He was ready to quit. But an intense passion was inside of him and he couldn’t quit.

I think of the fact that we have an adversary that is intense like a lion and we are called to be focused and resist him. (See 1 Peter 5:8-9)

I think of the call to train hard and give great effort. (See 1 Corinthians 9:24-27) [Note: not to earn salvation which is a gift; but to earn the prize, which is a reward for service?]

And the list could go on and on. Just like the intro to Wide World of Sports; just like the definition; Christianity should be intense and passionate. It involves risks and rewards. Your life should be thrilling!

Monday, August 10, 2009

August 10, 2009 - Game Plan

In basketball there are some basic principles in which plays are designed. Plays are designed to create opportunities by avoiding defenders (obstacles.) This is accomplished by seeing openings or lanes that are already present or creating openings via movement and screens. All are intended to make scoring easier.

(Coaches know what offense to call based upon seeing what defense is being played against them. The coach must know what he/she is doing!)

How silly would it be for a player to be given instruction and ignore it. What if the player is in the game and hasn’t learned the plays. When the coach calls for something the player will be lost (and ultimately on the bench.)

Yet isn’t that what we do with our Playbook (the Bible)?

God (the Coach that does fully know what He is doing) has given His players instructions. These “plays” are written in order to help us avoid the opponent (the enemy.) They are designed to make life run more smoothly. They are truly a “game plan” for life.

Are you regularly spending time in the Word? Are you memorizing it? Are you applying it?

To ignore it is as silly as walking forward while pointing the flashlight behind you. The Bible is said to be a “lamp” for your feet so you will avoid obstacles in life. It is also said to be a “light” for your path. Therefore it shows the open lanes for you.

Read the Word!

Psalm 119:105 Your word is a lamp to my feet
And a light to my path.

Monday, August 3, 2009

August 3, 2009 - I'd like to thank...

I love to hear athletes being interviewed, especially when they understand how things truly work. By that I mean they understand that it is a team effort that leads to success. I think of the football quarterback or running back that has had a great game. They almost always need to thank their front line for the protection or holes their blocking created. I think of the basketball player that scores a bunch of points as a result of his teammates getting him the ball, setting screens, etc. Even in sports for individuals there are coaches to thank, training partners, parents, those that get the field or facility ready, those that run the events, etc.

It is nice to hear the athlete that is getting the praise and the publicity give thanks and credit to those around him.

I have just returned home from a long summer’s worth of outreach. (In fact I literally walked in the door just 1 hour ago.) As I drove down the interstate tonight I couldn’t help but think about all the folks that I have had the privilege to work with this summer: those that set up the events; those that prepared the facilities; those that fed us; those that housed us; those that encouraged us; those that gave financially so we could go; etc.

I plan to spend some time tomorrow sending thank you notes to as many as I can think of and have access to. We have seen a plentiful harvest this summer as a result of their hard work and dedication. I simply want them to know that I noticed.

The Apostle Paul made sure he gave thanks for workers in every one of his letters. I encourage you today to send some thank you notes or make some thank you calls. Follow the Biblical example and mandate to be thankful and to encourage.

Philippians 1:3 I thank my God upon every remembrance of you,