Monday, December 28, 2009

December 28, 2009 - Be the "ONE"!

Here we are approaching another New Year. It is time for people to start making their New Year’s resolutions. (Notice I said they will “make” them. That is the easy part. It is implementing them that is the problem.)

What are resolutions? They are simply parts of one’s “game plan” for the year.

Imagine with me that we are in the locker room before a game. I give the game plan for the night that includes assignments – (i.e. who is starting, who is guarding who, what offense we are running, etc.)

Now it is game time and 2 of my starters stay on the bench when it is time to go out for the jump ball. They say to let someone else do it. Of the guys that start the game one gets a minute into play and looks at the bench to ask for a sub – he says he is already tired. Another goes a few minutes and then motions for a sub. Only one of the scheduled starters is in it for the long haul.

You might be thinking that scenario sounds crazy. Players want playing time not bench time. And you are right. Players want to be on the floor because they have made commitments and poured their sweat (and sometimes blood) into practices to prepare. They don’t want to be spectators. One of my favorite quotes says that “the harder you work, the harder it is to surrender.” (Vince Lombardi)

Yet it is not just the hard work that has been put in. There is also a game clock that creates a sense of urgency. Players know that time on the floor is limited. They realize that time on the bench is something they can’t get back.

As we embark on the new year and are faced with the questions of setting our game plans, I ask you to consider a few things:

What are you truly committed to? (Your health, your family, your church, the Lord)?
Do you realize that “time is ticking away, tick-tick-ticking away”? (Yes I stole that line from DC Talk)
It is a common belief that around 20% of the people do 80% of the work of the church. Like the game scenario – only 1 in 5 is ready and willing to get the job done. Are you the “one”?

The Scriptures are full of “resolutions” we should make concerning our lives. Some are personal resolutions on conduct. Many are commands to be reaching others with the truth of the Gospel.

I am no expert on end times, yet it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see that the world is going down the drain. I believe it is clear enough that we should “play with a sense of urgency.”

I will often give instructions to my kids. It can be something very simple that I need them to do. They know to say, “Yes Sir.” Yet they don’t always get straight to it. They tend to meander that way, or even go back to what they were already doing. When I question them about it I typically get a response like, “Well I was going to do it Dad after I…”

I am often heard saying, “I meant today!”

I am not sure what your resolutions will be but I do believe God is seated in Heaven screaming at us, “I meant today!”

Be committed to the things of the Lord; with a sense of urgency!

13 Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, spend a year there, buy and sell, and make a profit”; 14 whereas you do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away. 15 Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we shall live and do this or that.” 16 But now you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil. 17 Therefore, to him who knows to do good and does not do it, to him it is sin. (James 4)

35 Do you not say, ‘There are still four months and then comes the harvest’? Behold, I say to you, lift up your eyes and look at the fields, for they are already white for harvest! (John 4)

This year: Be the “ONE”!

Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry CHRISTmas from Team Burden

Faith and Gracie wish you a Merry CHRISTmas! (Aren't they cute?)
Left to Right: Christa, Elisha, Caleb, Faith, Clay (Kids are in Lisa's Papa Guy's hats)

Season's Greetings from south Florida. (Yes we are braving the winter cold in West Palm Beach at Lisa's parents' house.)

Just wanted to tell each of you how much we love and appreciate you; and ask for a CHRISTmas present from you. Would you pray for InBounds Ministries' outreach in 2010?

We had a wonderful time of ministry in 2009 and look forward to all the Lord has for us next year. What an awesome privilege to share the message of the "Savior, who is Christ the Lord!" How incredible to tell people of the "joy" that is available to them. Wouldn't it be great to have more people understand that "peace" is available to them? Won't you pray that more will "go to Bethlehem and see this thing which has come to pass"? [see Luke 2 for the full story]

As for Team Burden: the kids are growing up way too fast! Yet it is an exciting time. We are faced with the new challenges of having a kid in high school and also trying to juggle schedules as they each get involved in different activities. Clay is now 14; Caleb is 12; Elisha is 10; Christa is 8; and Faith is 4. Lisa is still young and I am getting old.

Along with all the excitement this past year, it also included times of sorrow. Both of Lisa's grandfathers went home to be with the Lord in 2009. What a great privilege I had to minister at the funerals of two great men of God. They both left a legacy I hope our kids grasped. When I asked Lisa what she wanted to say in this CHRISTmas letter she simply responded, "Make memories now because they may be the last ones you have." The death of these two men brought great sadness along with great celebration. Thank God for the hope found in Christ!
Thank all of you who played a part in what we are doing and who we are!
Merry CHRISTmas!

Monday, December 21, 2009

December 21, 2009 - The Prophet

This week’s devotion is one that I will make very personal. Being a basketball junkie, a coach, and a sports missionary; it just makes sense that I look at my own kids and wonder if they will be athletes. Not that it would change at all my love for them, yet it is great when things are shared in common.

This season two of my boys are playing hoops – one at the high school level and one at the middle school level. The travel is quite a challenge to get between games but it is well worth it. It is great to watch my kids competing. The oldest is much like me – a basketball junkie. Since he was big enough to speak anything round has been “ball.” The younger of the two has not ever shown a love for the game but has the basic motor skills to do well. (Now that he has played a few games this year and tasted a bit of success the “love for the game” seems to be changing.)

What I want for CHRISTmas is for my kids to “play well.” No I am not talking about hoops. I am talking about in a life of serving the Lord. Of course I love for them to taste success in basketball also – yet that in and of itself carries no eternal significance.

In sports it is very common to give players nicknames. My oldest son’s nickname is “the Prophet.” We came up with that for a couple reasons.

The first is that a prophet is known for seeing the future. On the court we want him to see what is coming and be one step ahead of the competition – have court awareness. In life I believe the Scriptures call for us to be aware of our surroundings. (Ephesians 5:15 tells us to “walk circumspectly.”)

The second is based in the New Testament usage of the word. There it predominantly refers to one that is proclaiming the truth and giving direction. On the court it is important to be a leader. Yet my prayer is that this be true of my son on and off the court. Ultimately I remind him that he is called to proclaim Christ (and that success on the court can increase that platform.)

My son is “the Prophet” not “The Prophet!” This CHRISTmas season is a great time to remember “The Prophet” John the Baptist.

Luke 1 tells us the story of John’s parents being up in age and God miraculously allowing for his mom to get pregnant. It tells of his special appointment by God. Verse 15 tells us that John will be “great in the sight of the Lord”; and verse 16 tells us he “will turn many of the children of Israel to the Lord their God.” What an awesome game plan for John’s life.

Later in the chapter we see that the people were wondering “what kind of child this would be.” (See vs. 66)

John’s dad does some prophesying of his own in verses 67 through 80. He talks of the coming Messiah, Jesus! He proclaims what the angel is soon to tell the shepherds that Jesus will be the Savior. And then in verse 76-79 he tells his baby boy the game plan.

“And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Highest; For you will go before the face of the Lord to prepare His ways, to give knowledge of salvation to His people by the remission of their sins, through the tender mercy of our God, with which the Dayspring from on high has visited us; To give light to those who sit in darkness and the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace.”

Luke 1:80 then goes on to tell that the “child grew and became strong in spirit…” And probably my favorite verse concerning The Prophet can be found in John chapter 3, verse 30. John himself says this: “He (Christ) must increase but I must decrease.”

John’s dad had a CHRISTmas wish for his son just before the birth of Christ. My wish this CHRISTmas is for not only my kids, but also each of you reading this devotion. I pray that we will “play well” and “prepare the way of the Lord.”

Monday, December 14, 2009

December 14, 2009 - Play Number 1

In all of the games I have coached over the years, I only felt responsible for the play of 1 team – the team I was coaching. I never tried to call the other teams’ offensive plays or defensive sets. Nor did I expect the other teams to run our plays. The simple fact is that the other teams were going to play the way their coaches expected.

That seems like a “duh” point I am making; yet it is one we need to hear. Because now is the time for me to get up on my soap box. I will make it quick, simple, and to the point.

I very much hope the world will have Happy Holidays! And I do not expect them to tell me Merry Christmas! (Now I have ticked some of you off haven’t I?)

It is my job (as a member of God’s team) to tell others about the Merry CHRISTmas. I do not expect the “other team” to understand or “run our plays.” And honestly I think we begin to sound a bit immature and foolish to demand this of them.

Can you imagine if the other team’s point guard called play number 1; their team runs a play; and then I start complaining about the fact that that is not how we run play number 1? I would look rather foolish as a coach.

Wouldn’t it be great if this holiday season the world saw the joy that was promised at the birth of our Savior evidenced in our lives?

Luke 2: 9 And behold, an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were greatly afraid. 10 Then the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. 11 For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.

Happy Holidays (and Merry CHRISTmas)!

Monday, December 7, 2009

December 7, 2009 - Insider Information

I recently watched an interview of former NBA referee Tim Donaghy. He is famous for admitting to using insider information to place bets on NBA games. Along with the betting scandal he shed light on many things that seem to manipulate the outcomes of games at that level.

Society finds it abhorrent that this guy used this insider info for his own selfish gain. (I find it strange that people even noticed considering how selfish we are as a nation. Yet this did tread on sacred sports ground.) I am not surprised by this at all – it is the nature of man to be tempted for personal gain.

Wrong? Yes!

Should he have been punished? Yes!

Surprised? No!

What I find abhorrent is that another group has “insider information” and fails to use it. That is we as Christians. We know the final outcome of the “game.” We know what it takes to be on the “winning team.” We have benefitted from someone taking time to share that “insider information” with us. And yet we far too often sit on this news.

As you hear the CHRISTmas story this year, be reminded that the angels gave “insider info” concerning the child:

It was information for all people. (Luke 2:10)

He was born to be a Savior! (Luke 2:11)

He was born to bring peace between God and man. (Luke 2:14)

And then we are told that the shepherds made it a point to share this “insider information” with others. (Luke 2:17)

Will you share with someone this CHRISTmas? Honestly I find it abhorrent that we don’t!

[Side note: please take time to read the next blog entry down concerning our Finish Strong Challenge.]

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Finish Strong Challenge

Who’s up for a challenge?

As 2009 draws to a close I can’t help but marvel at God’s goodness. He has granted us the privilege to be His ambassadors throughout the year. The year included:

· Outreach clinics/camps conducted by Coach Torzewski and Coach Burden
· Multiple speaking engagements for Coach Burden
· An awesome 10-day road trip with 10 players – training them on and off the court! This trip included a great service project as well.
· Trips to the foreign field (Dominican Republic, London)
· Continued internet outreach via our weekly devotions (closing in on 8 years)
· Over 100 people accepted Christ as Substitute at InBounds events

It has truly been an awesome year and we are eagerly anticipating 2010. There are already many things on the agenda and many more pending. Yet as with any outreach it requires funding to meet the needs.

This is where you come in. I have devised a relatively simple and painless way in which you could help us out. It will help us finish strong in the 2009 “game.”

I need you to simply find 10 people to give $10 to our cause. (If you give $10 you only have 9 more to find.)

This “Finish Strong” challenge will help us enter 2010 ready to serve. We simply need each team member to do his or her part.

If you are accepting the challenge please do me a favor and shoot me an email to let me know. It is always encouraging to know people are on our side. That way I can also send you some helpful pointers and info for sharing the need. Thank you in advance for at least praying about being a part.

[On a side note: I have challenged our board and coaching staff to find 10 people to give $100. Please pray for them as they help us meet these needs.]