Monday, February 22, 2010

February 22, 2010 - Evaluation

As I was recently reading a book on speed training I was reminded of the types of tests that are given to evaluate athletes. From the professional to the college ranks it is very common to put athletes through timed sprints, vertical jump tests, strength tests, etc. in order to decide who to choose in the draft or extend a scholarship offer to.

The problem with this is that you still do not necessarily get an accurate picture of what type of player the athlete is going to be. For example: to time an athlete in a sprint that begins in a 3-point or 4-point stance is only effective if the athlete is a sprinter or football player. How often does a basketball or baseball player start from those stances? Never. And on top of that it still is not measuring the mental aspect of “quickness” – that intangible trait to anticipate, be the first one moving. Measuring vertical is great but it doesn’t show you a player that gets great position and knows how to use his body. The same holds true in the strength department – one who understands leverage and positioning wins the strength battle in a contest – unless that contest is weightlifting.

I am pointing these things out to show how difficult and subjective evaluations are. Many great players are not necessarily the best athletes.

The evaluation of humanity for God was not subjective at all. When the standard is perfection (God’s holiness) then all humanity falls short. (See Romans 3:23) Yet God in His sovereignty designed a way to still “put together a team.” Before time began God, in His foreknowledge, knew man would sin. Sin demands a payment – death. So God decided to send His Son into the world as the Substitute for man. (See Romans 5:6,8) Jesus did live a holy, perfect life and met Heaven’s standard for evaluation. That qualified Him to be the Substitute. And thus you know the story – He hung on a cross, taking on the sin of the world and fulfilling the death penalty; then He rose from the grave – overcoming death and offering new life. (See 1 Corinthians 15:3-4)

So the penalty was paid and now an offer for man to be evaluated based upon the performance of Christ instead of man’s own flawed performance. What an awesome offer!

So that brings us back to the idea of God “putting together His team.” God is never taken by surprise, [He is sovereign (in control).] The Substitutionary death of Jesus satisfied God’s justice. That allowed His incredible love and mercy to be extended to all those that would believe in the finished work of Jesus, and thus receive the free gift of eternal life. (See Ephesians 2:8-9)

When it comes to God’s team the evaluation is not subjective at all. It is totally objective. God put together (chose) His team based upon one singular criterion – Faith (belief.)

6 Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me. (John 14)

Monday, February 15, 2010

February 15, 2010 - Training Partners

In last week’s devotion I pointed out the importance of playing for something beyond yourself – ultimately playing to the glory of God. Yet in spite of how basic that sounds it is not always easy to stay motivated. That is where accountability comes in. do you have a training partner?

I love for my son to watch stories of great athletes so he will be motivated by their commitment. I love to read of the guys that used to meet with Michael Jordan for his Breakfast Club in the mornings throughout the season. I love to see the stories about Kobe’s and Lebron’s work ethic. I love watching in the mornings at the school where I teach as numerous middle school players arrive at 6:30 a.m. to get some shots in. (I am not even sure they understand the positive peer pressure they have on each other when they ask who is coming each day.)

It is important for us to see proper examples. Biblically the Apostle Paul understood this (obviously through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.) In Philippians 3 he talks of dangers facing believers. There are dangers of those trying to bring false teachings. There are dangers of one resting on his past accomplishments. There are dangers of one cowering to past failures. Yet Paul reminds us that it is all about Christ and then pens these words:

“12 Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me.”

“17 Brethren, join in following my example, and note those who so walk, as you have us for a pattern.”

I urge you to follow Paul’s example and also to find a “training partner” that encourages you in your walk!

Monday, February 8, 2010

February 8, 2010 - Who Are You Playing For

Who are you “playing” for? What is your motivation in the game of life?

As I watched the pregame festivities of the Super Bowl I loved listening to Peyton Manning and Drew Brees. Both expressed important things concerning their motivation.

Peyton, who is probably the hardest working player in the game, talked of a responsibility to his team to be just as hungry in this Super Bowl as he was in his first. He realized he played for something bigger than himself. He talked of not playing for individual awards and statistics.

Drew talked of the city of New Orleans and how they had been through so much; yet when asked said it was not New Orleans that needed him, but him that needed New Orleans. Brees’ career was on the brink of collapse following an injury in San Diego. He didn’t know if he would play again but the Saints and the city took a chance on him. He was motivated by his gratitude and desire to return something special to them.

I think it was a great game to watch 2 highly prepared and highly motivated quarterbacks – (in spite of my Colts losing.)

It got me to thinking about what motivated us as believers. Far too often the message that comes out is to serve God for our own good, so we will get blessings. Although God’s blessings are wonderful I think our motivation should be to bring honor to God not blessings to ourselves. He is worthy!!!

I thought of David against Goliath. He fought not because of a personal desire for revenge or a pride issue; he fought because Goliath was disgracing the name of God. I thought of his prayer when he was king that is found in 2 Samuel 7. He says in verse 26 “So let Your name be magnified forever…” Even in the midst of God promising blessings to David he turned it back to a way to glorify God.

I must admit that I at times get my eyes focused on myself. I wonder why things don’t turn out like I want or why someone appears to take me for granted or why someone doesn’t notice all that I am doing…You get the picture – “selfish play.” Oh that I, that we, would remember the proper motivation.

We are “playing” for something and Someone that is much bigger than ourselves!

As the Apostle Paul declared: Philippians 1: 21 For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain.

Monday, February 1, 2010

February 1, 2010 - Game-Time-Shooters

When I am teaching shooting to players we discuss the balance of a shooter. We talk about where the toes, hips, and shoulders are pointed. We talk about the knees being bent and butt being down. Yet one of the most important things we talking about training is the eyes. A great shooter needs to consistently zero-in on his target.

When a shooter gets this type of laser focus he will become a good “game-time-shooter.” I often have watched players in practice or warm-ups that can really fill it up; only to see them crumble when a little pressure is thrown their way. Others I have seen became better shooters when faced with a defender flying at them. They become more focused in adversity.

Lately the exciting thing for me has been seeing my son turn into a “game-time-shooter.” He has played against some tall, long, athletic opponents and is shooting a great percentage from 3-point land. Even when a 6’8” giant is flying at him he doesn’t take his eyes off the target.

I fear that in the church we have many that are not good “game-time-shooters.” These are those that “practice” well in the confines of the church but crumble under the pressures of life. They practice all the external things like what they should or shouldn’t do; yet fail to train their “eyes.”

The Apostle Paul had many pressures in life but he had a “laser focus” on his goal – the excellence of knowing Jesus Christ. In every circumstance he strove to focus on his Savior. He knew that he had to forget the past “shots,” whether good or bad, and focus on Christ in his present situation. (Read Philippians 3 to see this incredible “game plan.”)

(Side Note: We also see an example in the Old Testament of one that realized the importance of training his eyes for very practical purposes. When faced with the temptation to look away from God to earthly things – he responded with training his eyes. See Job 31:1)

How about you? When faced with the trials of this life do you stayed zeroed-in on Christ and His purposes? Are you a good “game-time-shooter”? Is Christ always your target?