Monday, May 31, 2010

May 31, 2010 - Team-Centered

Often in sports you hear of players or teams “playing tight.” Maybe they are nervous and crumbling under pressure. Maybe the player feels he is always on a short leash with his coach. Maybe they are simply afraid of failure, so they tense up and in turn fail. These players do not appear to be having any fun when they are playing – they are slaves to the game; they have no freedom – no liberty.

I am thankful for the liberty we have in our country. I was able yesterday to preach on this subject without fear. We were able to worship God openly without retribution. I am thankful for those that believe so strongly in the “unalienable right” of liberty that they have sacrificed their own “unalienable right” to life to preserve it.

I am also thankful for the liberty I have in Christ. He was willing to sacrifice His life to offer me the free gift of eternal life. In doing so He also purchased my freedom!

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.

Therefore I can “play the game of life” with joy; not afraid of failure; not afraid of the Coach; no longer a slave.

I encourage each of you to rejoice in your liberty. Yet I also remind you of the danger of abusing liberty. There is a very clear warning in Galatians 5 verse 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. Isn’t that a great reminder of teamwork?

The third “unalienable right” that our country boasts of is the right to the “pursuit of happiness.” This seems innocent enough. And based upon the oppression the founding fathers had endured is a reasonable statement. Yet this is why liberty has some dangers; our pursuit of personal happiness, if unchecked, can lead to a me-centered instead of team-centered attitude. And that goes against both our country’s constitution and the Scriptures which call for us to “serve one another.”

Let me challenge you today to use your liberty to reach out to others. Use your liberty to choose to do right. Remember that “selfish ambition” is a work of the flesh. (See Galatians 5:20)

Christian, you are free to love God and love others!

Monday, May 24, 2010

May 24, 2010 - We're In This Together

Often times I hear coaches talking about communication on the floor or in the field. The simple truth is that players need to learn to communicate with one another if they are going to function as a team.

Yet most communication I hear from players is the complaining after something has gone wrong, whether it is pointing fingers at teammates and referees. There is very little team communication going on in sports today.

It is seldom I hear a player warn his teammate that a pick is coming. It is seldom that I hear a player cry out to teammate for help when he is beaten by his man. It is seldom I hear a player tell his teammates, “That was my bad, thanks for picking me up.”

Successful teams realize they are in it together! They all need each other in order to function properly. Each man needs help at times, yet each man is expected to carry his own load of responsibility. And all of it centers around communicating those things to one another.

In the church, our team needs to learn to communicate. We need to recognize that we are in this game of life together. We will at times mess up and need help. We will at times see opportunity to pick up the slack for a teammate. We are each expected to humbly carry our load of responsibility. We need to remain focused on the goal!

Galatians 6 reminds us that we will have teammates that screw up; our response to help that teammate through the problem. It goes on to remind us to not be proud and haughty, thinking we are above such problems, but instead to take personal inventory to make sure we are following through with our responsibilities. Then later we are reminded through it all that ultimately what matters is that Christ is preached and we glory in Him alone!

Read Galatians chapter 6 for a great reminder of teamwork. Make sure to note the goal found in verse 14: “But God forbid that I should boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.”

Monday, May 17, 2010

May 17, 2010 - Problem or Purpose?

I am thinking back to a game a few years ago where the players were getting pretty heated during the 1st half. Our team was ahead on the scoreboard but neither team was doing well when it came to attitudes. One particular young man on the opposing team was really struggling; he looked as if he would explode at any moment.

At half-time we headed down the tunnel to our locker rooms and I happened to be next to the young man from the opposing team. I could hear him huffing and snorting – this kid was fuming. I simply reached over and patted him on the back side and said this, “Young man, you are not going to help your team like this. Get it together so you can be your best.”

One of our student managers overheard this and was quite confused. The question was then posed to me, “Whose side are you on?” That student was simply confused at why I would encourage the “enemy.”

My response was very simple. In the locker room and in the huddle I will devise everything I can to help our team win on the scoreboard; yet the opponent is not the enemy. That other team was made up of young men that I cared about as people. It was not just about basketball; I wanted to plant into that kid’s life. (And honestly I prefer to beat people when they are at their best.)

I was reminded of this story by a church billboard I saw this weekend and then I was able to see that former student manager as well. The billboard said this: “People are not our problem; they are our purpose.” What a great reminder. Let’s go a step further and see how Jesus worded this sentiment:

Matthew 5: 43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, 45 that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. 46 For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? 47 And if you greet your brethren only, what do you do more than others? Do not even the tax collectors do so? 48 Therefore you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect.

Monday, May 10, 2010

May 10, 2010 - When In Doubt, Fill Out

When I am coaching players I give them a basic rule of thumb for those times they are simply at a loss on the court: “when in doubt, fill out.” Basically this means if you are not sure what you ought to be doing or where you ought to be going then don’t go clogging up the middle and messing everything up.

This is rule is predicated by teaching them how to balance the floor – or in other words what positions they should “fill out” to. This way the team can maintain balance and the player can get his bearings.

In life we often go through times that we simply don’t know what to do next. Maybe there are “open doors” you have to choose between; maybe there is an “open door” yet no peace in going through; maybe you simply don’t see an “open door.”

Last week we talked about leadership needing to seek wise counsel. Decisions you need to make in life are a result of you being the “leader” of your life and if you want to honor God you need to follow His directions – seek counsel.

The first place that counsel is found is in His Word and in prayer. Any decisions you have to make should line up with Scripture. Secondly you need to talk with godly advisors! (Note that I said godly advisors. Just because someone is your friend, doesn’t make him a source of wisdom.)

The simple principle is that before we dive into doing something we need to seek God’s guidance – get our bearings.

Proverbs gives us this simple principle for the simple-minded: Chapter 9: 4 “Whoever is simple, let him turn in here!”

This is the cry from “Wisdom” that is made to us. I think we should study the Proverbs and see exactly where she can be found!

Maybe it is time to get out of the “clogged up middle” of our lives and “fill out” to God’s Word and His people to find clarity and direction.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

2010 Summer Camp Opportunities (NC)

Basic Training I
June 21-25, 2010 [6:00-8:00 PM]
Ages: 8-12 yrs old

Basic Training II
June 28-July 2, 2010 [6:00-8:00 PM]
Ages: 12-18 yrs old

July 5-9, 2010 [6:00-9:00 PM]
Ages: 12-18 yrs old

*Camp Costs are suggested donations to help support the outreach of InBounds Ministries.
We do not want costs to stop any player from getting the opportunity to participate.

Basic Training Camps: Designed for basketball players to learn/refresh the fundamentals of the game [plus daily devotion time]
Intensity level = Moderate

Advanced Individual Training Camp: Intermediate & Advanced basketball players in order to make each player STRONGER
(Physically, Mentally, and Spiritually) [plus daily devotion time]
Intensity level = Very High

For more information -or- to register for a camp contact Coach Burden at:

“Get schooled now…so you won’t be schooled later!”

Monday, May 3, 2010

May 3, 2010 - Iron Man

What makes a good player great? What is it that starts to separate the masses that play a game into those few that excel at a game? (Nearly 600,000 boys played varsity high school basketball this year; only around 4,000 played Division 1 college ball; less than 400 in the NBA.)

The easy thought is to simply chalk it up to genetics and athleticism; the biggest and best athletes rise to the top. There is some truth to that idea; every person does have a genetic pre-disposition for size and athleticism. Yet it doesn’t take long to find great athletes on playgrounds that never made it past high school ball. Yes genetics play some part: I can’t teach a kid to be taller (but I can teach him to play bigger); I can’t teach a kid to run faster than his genetics allow (but I can teach him to think quicker.) The opposite is also true; it doesn’t take long to find the physically smaller, physically slower player that is excelling at the highest levels.

So what does set players apart? One key area in my mind is “discipline”! The great players are generally the most disciplined players. When we here the word “discipline” we often think of punishment. Yet that is not the main idea of the word. Punishment can be used to help instill discipline but they are not synonyms.

To be disciplined simply means that someone is committed to a task; unwavering in his approach; faithful to get the job done. I love the John Wooden phrase that says, “Discipline yourself, so others won’t have to.”

At the highest level of basketball I think of Kobe and Lebron, obviously great athletes (with incredible genetics); yet considered to be 2 of the hardest working guys in the NBA. I think of rookie Wes Matthews of the Utah Jazz. Wes was undrafted out of college yet is now starting for the Jazz at shooting guard and performing very well. In an interview with Jazz coach Jerry Sloan, he commented on Matthew’s work ethic as the key!

Another word that comes from this idea of discipline is the word “disciple.” You could call the aforementioned players disciples of basketball. The question for us carries over to our Christian walks. Are we truly disciples of Christ? Are we committed to not only serving Him but also the training it takes to be a great servant? Are we faithful to be in the Word having our minds transformed? Are we committed to be on the “court of life” and making a difference (or just content to go into our closed “practice sessions” called church)? Are we running the race as those that want to win? (See 1 Corinthians 9:24-27)

Let me encourage you to find a “training partner”: not just for your physical workouts, but also for your spiritual accountability. It is always easier to stay committed when we have someone to lean on; someone to push us; someone to encourage us; someone to rebuke us….

Proverbs 27: 17 As iron sharpens iron, So a man sharpens the countenance of his friend.

(I guess this fits well with the upcoming release of Iron Man 2 this week.)