Monday, November 30, 2009

November 30, 2009 - Short Memory

With my son playing high school ball now we get in a lot of philosophical discussions about the game. He is a talented young player and has experienced a bit of success. The night before his first varsity game he was in a scrimmage. He couldn’t throw it in the ocean that night. He was quite frustrated and downcast.

Going into the first game is when we had one of our “discussions.” I reminded him that “shooters shoot” and need to have a very short memory. I mentioned guys like Stephen Curry that played a Davidson. Stephen is a kid that could miss 15 straight shots and still not blink an eye at taking the game winner. That is because he chose to not remember the previous shots. The only instruction I gave him concerned being in rhythm and getting his feet set before receiving the pass.

Clay went into that game ready and totally oblivious to the failure of the night before. As a result he had a great shooting night. He listened, learned, and moved on.

The great coach Dean Smith said it this way: “What to do with a mistake: recognize it, admit it, learn from it, forget it.”

Isn’t that kind of what the Scriptures call for us to do? Obviously we all make mistakes in life. (These are called sin.) We teach that Christ paid for sin. We teach that we are forgiven. Yet we tend to still live in guilt and defeat.

It is time to listen, learn, and move on. It is time be victorious in our Christian lives.

Psalm 103: 11 For as the heavens are high above the earth, So great is His mercy toward those who fear Him; 12 As far as the east is from the west, So far has He removed our transgressions from us.

Monday, November 23, 2009

November 23, 2009 - Value Every Possession

As a coach I always try to teach my players to play smart. This involves making the easy pass; not dribbling into traffic; taking good shots; playing together as a team; etc. This involves making sure the players are fundamentally sound and know the game plan. It means making sure they value every possession and protect the ball.

This is vital because the defense is trying to set traps and force you out of what you want to do. The opponent will switch defenses; run junk defenses; run full-court presses; run half-court presses; even study you to know your weaknesses. The goal of the opponent is to take you out of your comfort zone; to take you out of your game plan.

Do you realize we have an enemy in life that is trying to do the same thing? The goal of the enemy is to distract us; to get us off course; to get us to “dribble into traps” and to “take bad shots.”

A very simple reminder this week: we need to regularly be studying God’s “game plan” and applying it on the “court” of life.

Proverbs 22: 5 In the paths of the wicked lie thorns and snares, but he who guards his soul stays far from them.

Life is a gift – value each day (“every possession”) by honoring the Lord! Play smart!

Monday, November 16, 2009

November 16, 2009 - Difficult Games

Tonight my son will play in the most difficult game of his short career in high school athletics. Sure it is only his second game of varsity ball, but the transition from game 1 to game 2 is huge.

Last week they opened with a team that was not very strong. My son was able to pour in a lot of points in a short amount of time by knocking down a lot of open looks. Tonight those looks will be much harder to come by. The team they are facing will be much bigger, stronger, and faster than our team. Some of the players will be 3 or 4 years older than my son.

So what is the proper way to approach this game? I have seen some making reference to David vs. Goliath – in hopes of the mighty upset. Some just laugh and say, “It will be over with soon.”

I say, “Son, you can do all things through Christ who strengthens you!” (See Philippians 4:13)

I am not telling my son that God is going to give him victory on the scoreboard; in fact they may get the poo beat out of them. What I am telling him is that the victory will be found in maximum effort to the glory of God. My prayer this morning with him was that the people in the gym will see a noticeable difference in his testimony.

Wouldn’t it be great if we could all learn that circumstances are not what determine our joy? Wouldn’t it be great if we could all focus on Christ whatever the circumstances?

It is in Christ where we find all we need for joy and contentment!

Monday, November 9, 2009

November 9, 2009 - Whistles

This past Saturday I had the privilege of sharing with a group of coaches in Indiana. We spent a few hours together looking at coaching basketball and honoring the Lord! We went often to God’s Playbook to be encouraged and some times rebuked.

During the time I was reminded of a phone conversation I had with one of my dearest friends in the world. He was telling me of a game where the officials were not doing a good job and he had made sure he let them know it (to the point that he lost it a bit.) His call was one that had an element of confession and probably an element of hoping I would say, “Yeah those officials were horrible!” That would somewhat justify his outburst. (I know this because of the times I have had sideline outburst and hoped someone would tell me how bad they thought the officials were.)

What I shared with my friend that day, and with the coaches this past Saturday, was that we need to make sure we are remembering what our roles are. I asked him who was coaching his kids while he was coaching the referees.

A short time after that conversation with my friend he had to coach another game. He made a concentrated effort to coach his kids and not the referees. He later called me and shared how much more he got accomplished when he stayed on task – and how much better he felt about it. (I was very proud of him – and hoping I could then follow my own advice.)

Really it is all in perspective. First we must understand our roles in life and strive to live up to that. Second we must learn that when the “whistle blows” indicating an infraction in life, that is a perfect time for teaching and correction. We need to take advantage of those times, not look for excuses or someone to blame.

We live in a world where people cannot stand to be corrected. (Yet isn’t that what the officials are doing in a game when they blow their whistles?)

Proverbs 10:17 He who heeds discipline shows the way to life, but whoever ignores correction leads others astray.

When coaching there are little eyes watching you and learning how to handle correction. In life realize that we all have a testimony – what is yours saying?

Monday, November 2, 2009

November 2, 2009 - Recommendations

Being a coach and teacher affords me the opportunity to try to mold and prepare players and students. This molding and preparing is for their next steps in life – whether it be college athletics or academics.

As a result I am often asked to make recommendations to coaches or schools. This past week alone I have received numerous requests along both lines. These requests have run the scope of basketball to graduate school admissions. I have filled out requests and have also denied requests.

The issue in this lies in the fact that I have to then truly consider the person making the request and whether or not I can give a good word for this person. This involves many variables: such as how long ago I was around this person; have I observed this person in the situation to which I am being asked to give account for: and the call to be honest in life which could mean I don’t think the person is ready for the particular position. Imagine what college coaches would think if I sent them players not ready to play?

Basically I have to remember that by giving a reference I am also putting my own reputation on the line. I need to feel positive that integrity is observed.

The apostle Paul often gave reference to those he was sending forth. He would also at times give a bad report on some. We see Paul being very honest and strong in his appeals. In fact when he sent Onesimus back to Philemon he went as far as saying, “welcome him as you would welcome me.” (Vs. 17)

Paul simply called things the way he sees them. (He would have made a great coach!)

So how does this pertain to you? First of all I think it is a call to each of us to be honest and straight forward. Secondly it is a call to each of us to pursue excellence in the things we do.

If you want a recommendation then make sure you are worthy of it! Work hard in all you do. Make sure others see desire and work ethic in you – whether it be the athletic arena, the classroom, or even your job place when pursuing that promotion.