Monday, January 25, 2010

January 25, 2010 - The Value of a Player

This week’s devo takes a bit of a break from my typical daily attempt at practical applications and delves into philosophy – how we view life.

A couple of questions for you to ponder:
1. Is a big player more important than a small player? In other words is value only based upon size?
2. Is a player closer to the goal more important than a player further out on the floor? In other words is value based upon location?

The answer to these questions is “no.” The size or location of a player is not what gives him value. The value is in the player filling his role for the team – whatever that role may be. There is intrinsic value in putting on the uniform.

Let me move away from the philosophy portion to the news. The past couple of weeks have carried horrible news of death due to the earthquake in Haiti - over 150,000 deaths as of the last count. It is difficult to see the pain and suffering. It is hard to think of kids losing their lives.

The news also brought the story of a young man that played basketball at the University of Southern Indiana (in my hometown) that passed away after collapsing in a game. He died due to a heart condition.

The reason these types of stories are so gut wrenching is because we know people were unable to carry out their roles as part of Team Humanity.

My prayers and thoughts are with all of those that are touched by these tragic events. Yet I also feel compelled to talk about some others that have lost their chance to fill their roles in society.

Yesterday was a day set aside to celebrate the sanctity of human life. We live in a world that tries to assess value based upon size and location. Because babies in the womb are small and temporarily reside in a womb it is taught they have no value. Once they travel 12-18 inches down the birth canal they supposedly become human. Yet Biblically there is intrinsic value in being made in the image of God. There is individual intrinsic value in having one’s own genetic code. There is intrinsic value in wearing a human “uniform.”

As horrible as the events of the news have been, let’s not lose sight of another issue. There will be around 125,000 abortions performed around the world today - “players” that never get the chance to play their roles.

Please pray and consider how you can and will be an advocate for the innocent.

Proverbs 6:
16 These six things the LORD hates,

Yes, seven are an abomination to Him:
17 A proud look, A lying tongue,
Hands that shed innocent blood,
18 A heart that devises wicked plans,
Feet that are swift in running to evil,
19 A false witness who speaks lies,
And one who sows discord among brethren.

Monday, January 18, 2010

January 18, 2010 - Your Go-To-Guy

Who is the “go-to-guy” on your team? You know, the guy that you get the ball to in crunch time. This is the guy that wants the ball when the game is on the line. This may be the guy that the coach wants to at least touch the ball in every possession. He may not be the guy that scores but he is the guy that will handle pressure; he creates for himself or teammates; he is the guy the team trusts.

Every great team has this guy. In fact I think you would be hard-pressed to think of a championship team that didn’t have one.

In life who is your “go-to-guy”? I know the easy answer is to sound spiritual and say “Jesus.” Yet does He truly get a “touch” in every “possession” of your life? Everything we do should include Christ in the mix.

I love these verses from Colossians 3:

15 And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which also you were called in one body; and be thankful. 16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. 17 And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.

And here is the beauty of it: when Christ gets a “touch” in your life’ He will never let you down! Make Christ your “go-to-guy”!

Monday, January 11, 2010

January 11, 2010 - Active Players

One of my pet peeves as a coach is when players become spectators. Often times they simply get caught watching the action instead of being an active part.

This is most often evident in rebounding. When a shot goes up most of the players watch and then try to react if it misses. Coaches go over and over rebounding principles in practices. They urge their players to find a man to box out. They remind their players that winning the battle of the boards is often an indicator of winning the game. Yet even with this prodding from the coaches it is very easy for players to get caught looking up instead of doing their jobs.

Coach Wooden didn’t teach boxing out like traditional coaches. This is because boxing out is only part of the equation. There also has to be a pursuit of the ball – having it is the object of the game. Therefore Wooden trained players that when the ball went up for a shot to find someone on the other team to make contact with, and then pursue the ball – the object of the game. (I say it is the object of the game because the only way to score is to have it.)

The church has a “rebounding” problem. It was warned against at its inception. In Acts chapter 1 Christ gives His final words before His ascension to the Father. His final command before He broke from the “huddle” was to evangelize the world – to be “witnesses.” (See 1:8)

Yet upon His ascension, His “shot” into heaven, angels appeared with the first warning to church:

9 Now when He had spoken these things, while they watched, He was taken up, and a cloud received Him out of their sight. 10 And while they looked steadfastly toward heaven as He went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel, 11 who also said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will so come in like manner as you saw Him go into heaven.” (Acts 1)

If we put the final words of Christ and the warning from the angels together we can summarize it this way:

Stop being a spectator!
Make contact with someone!
Give the Gospel (the only thing one can “score” with)!

We need to be active players in the game!

Monday, January 4, 2010

January 4, 2010 - Looking Ahead

Well we have begun a new year and most made some resolutions of how they would “play the game” this year. Maybe you didn’t write them down but you probably at least made decisions in your mind. And the brutal fact is this: most have already blown their resolutions.

It is very common for a team or player to come out sluggish in a game and then get going strong. I’d like to encourage you to stick with the “game plan”, even if you have started out sluggish (or maybe not even started at all.)

I think of my dear friend Jim Pentalow. He is older than I am but in much, much better shape. He began running years ago. Now at the age of 59 he just completed a half-marathon (13 miles) that he ran as a fundraiser for our ministry. (He trained for a full marathon but had to withdraw due to a family emergency.) Jim did not just decide one day to run marathons and head out the door for a 15 or 20 mile jog. There was a process of building up to it – of training specifically for it. There was a process that involved a daily commitment to lace up the sneakers and run, even through some pain and adversity.

I think of the commands in Scripture and how the terminology often indicates this idea of commitment, even through some pain and adversity. Proverbs 4 discusses the idea of acquiring wisdom and instruction. In other words it gives a good “game plan” for living smart. I love the strong word pictures that are given. Here are a few from the New American Standard Bible:

“Do not abandon…”
“Hold fast…”
“Take hold…”
“Do not let go…”

Aren’t those strong words? They are words of commitment. They are words of strength. They are words of being resolute! In honor of my friend Jim I want to leave you this week with the following instruction from Proverbs 4. As you begin this race of 2010:

25Let your eyes look directly ahead and let your gaze be fixed straight in front of you. 26Watch the path of your feet and all your ways will be established. 27Do not turn to the right nor to the left; Turn your foot from evil.