Monday, June 28, 2010

June 28, 2010 - STAND

Last week I started this summer’s round of basketball camps here in North Carolina. I started with the younger kids, and even at the young ages I notice a common characteristic in people – pride! I am not talking about the pride that is evidenced by a cocky outward demeanor; but instead that is evidenced by a fear of failure and that someone may be watching.

As I introduce new disciplines in the game or ask the players to use their “weak-hand” to attempt a drill, I immediately see the wheels start turning in their minds and the fear that they will mess up. In response often I see the “paralysis of analysis” take place: the mind goes through all the possible outcomes and as a result the body stays paralyzed doing nothing.

I often quote John Wooden on this subject. He regularly talked about the fact that the “doer makes mistakes.” He talked of the fact that if you are unwilling to mess up you will never taste success.

This morning I read another great quote on this subject of how we view failure. It was given by Fedor Emelianenko, a mixed martial arts fighter from Russia. Fedor has been considered by many to be the greatest fighter in the history of MMA. He has gone 10 years (28 straight fights) without being defeated. This is so amazing because in this particular sport it simply takes one small mistake to be in a bad position and allow your opponent to strike.

Saturday night this happened to Fedor. He was dominating his fight but then made just enough of a mistake to allow his opponent to put a submission hold on him. It was a huge upset in MMA and one would think that it would be a huge blow to Fedor. Yet his response was worthy of note: “The one who doesn’t fall never stands up,”

I run into many Christians that do not attempt great things for God because they feel unworthy or fear failure. Through their analyzing of self-worth and abilities, they forget a simple fact that God is the one that empowers us. I love the old quote that says, “The only ability God is concerned with in us is our ‘avail”-ability.

Yesterday our worship pastor at our church gave a great reminder from Isaiah (6:1-8) about this very thing. When we see the awesome, almighty God we are humbled and recognize our weakness and imperfection. Yet then we also see his cleansing power and hear His request of “Whom shall I send?”

Our continual response should be “Here am I! Send me.”

But what if you mess up? 1 John 1:9 tells us of God’s continual forgiveness that is available to us!

Ephesians 6:14 Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness, 15 and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; 16 above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one. 17 And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God; 18 praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints—

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Summer Update and Prayer Needs

Hello Sports Fans,

As we have now officially entered into our summer swing of ministry, I wanted to give everyone an update on our schedule and things to pray about. We started the summer with a swing through multiple states. I was able to officiate a wedding for a former student down in Florida; we were able to stop and see Lisa’s sister and her family in Alabama; we made a stop in Indiana for a quick meeting with our ministry’s treasurer; and finally the family was able to camp in Virginia as my oldest son participated in a basketball camp at Liberty University. All of this was done in 1 week!

Now we are back in North Carolina for a few weeks. I started the first of 3 week-long basketball camps on Monday night. That will carry us through the first week of July. My oldest son Clay will leave on July 3 for his 2-week mission trip to London. Following his return we will head to southern Florida for a bit of family time and also for Lisa and me to have a brief ministry retreat for planning and praying; I will also have some preaching engagements down there. As August hits then Clay and I will fly to St. Louis, MO for some hoops clinics and multiple speaking engagements. Then back to NC to prep for the upcoming school year.

It is a busy schedule but also an exciting schedule as we will have many opportunities to share the Good News that God sent a Substitute into the “game of life!”

[The only change to our original plans is that our scheduled trip to the West Indies has been postponed. Simply put there was not enough fundraising accomplished to fund this trip.]

Beyond the summer we are working on numerous camp/clinic plans and scheduling our next ROCK’em Road Trips. (One is already in the works for the varsity basketball teams from Statesville Christian School over their Christmas break.) There are also many overseas opportunities that have been presented to us for prayer and consideration; including a request to return to the Czech Republic for basketball camps.

One major change involves our treasurer position in the ministry. After serving in that role since our ministry’s inception, Jeff Johnson has stepped down. He is still a part of our board of directors but simply does not have the time to keep serving in this capacity. (I hope you read his letter that I posted online.) Therefore all of the financial record keeping and banking will now go through an account here in North Carolina with Lisa Burden serving as the treasurer. (The new mailing address for contributions is found on the website – – under the support tab. Contributions can also be made there via PayPal.)

As we look at immediate prayer needs I ask you to take the time to lift up the following:

1. Our account balance is very low. I take a very modest salary from the ministry in order to try to insure that we have enough to actually do the work of ministry. Please pray that the needed funds will come in for our ministry to continue going forward. I guarantee it is money wisely invested! We are seeing souls saved and believers encouraged!

2. Pray for Lisa as she steps into this new treasurer role.

3. Pray for Clay as he heads overseas to do outreach.

4. Pray for travelling mercies throughout our summer schedule.

5. Pray for Matt and Rebekah in Indianapolis as InBounds Ministries has numerous things going on there through their efforts.

Monday, June 21, 2010

June 21, 2010 - Life is hard! Pray harder!

This past weekend my son was able to participate in a basketball camp at Liberty University. When I picked him up after the camp he was worn out (and very sore.) The coaching staff and players at LU had really put the boys through it!

As he told me about the weekend I was impressed by the “welcome” that the staff/team gave to the boys. Coach Layer explained to them that he wanted them to see what Division 1 basketball was really like. He then sent his players onto the court for a demonstration of how physical and intense things are. They followed that with a weekend of having the campers put forth the same type of effort. My son told me he understood why players wear the padded compression gear. He said he was hurting and bruised in ways he had never experienced before.

What I appreciate about that approach is that things were not sugar-coated and glamorized. That level of play is not about bright lights and press clippings – it is about hard work and dedication. It was a true picture of the blood, sweat, and tears required.

It reminded of a great quote that “he who works the hardest is the last to surrender.”

This is especially important when relating to life. The Christian bookstores are filled with empty, glamorous promises that life will all of the sudden be peachy for believers. Yet Jesus makes a promise of a “Helper” (Comforter) for us when He leaves earth. Doesn’t that indicate that we are in uncomfortable situations? God calls Himself a “shelter” and a “refuge.” Doesn’t that indicate life will have storms? Paul talked of peace and joy in spite of circumstances. And the list could go on and on…

16 And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever— (John 14)

9 The LORD also will be a refuge for the oppressed,
A refuge in times of trouble. (Psalm 9)

9 The things which you learned and received and heard and saw in me, these do, and the God of peace will be with you. (Philippians 4)

Life is hard! Pray harder!

Monday, June 14, 2010

June 14, 2010 - Short Fuse Equals Bad News

Recently as I watched an NBA finals game I saw two of the Boston Celtics get technical fouls simply because they didn’t like calls. I’m not sure what planet they have been playing on to not realize that human referees will miss some calls. You would think they would realize that the loss of points due to technicals could cost them the game and possibly the championship.

Then earlier today I was reading of a player at the World Cup going into the game as a striker. It was a 0-0 game and he was very aggressive and getting some good looks on goal. But he had to be a bonehead and get 2 yellow cards within 15 minutes and thus get kicked out of the game - leaving his team a player short. As a result his team ended up losing the game.

Very simply put the sports world gives a great picture of life. If someone cannot control his or her emotions then he or she will end up screwing things up! This is not just my thoughts; they also happen to be God’s thoughts.

Proverbs 14:29 He who is slow to wrath has great understanding, but he who is impulsive exalts folly.

What is the answer to being short-tempered? How about walking in the Spirit? The result (fruit) of that includes patience, self-control, etc. (See Galatians 5:22)

Monday, June 7, 2010

June 7, 2010 - Legacy

A few days ago I was watching a report on Kobe Bryant’s film study. He was sharing how he watches many of the past greats in order to learn from them (and admittedly “steal” their moves.) Kobe was giving great honor to the likes of Oscar Robertson, Julius Erving, Elgin Baylor, Jerry West, Magic Johnson, and Michael Jordan. It was a great tribute to these former players.

I can imagine how special those guys must have felt while watching that interview; to know they had a part in developing a player that many consider to be the best in the game today – to have left behind a legacy of great play.

Yet as impressive as that was, it paled in comparison to the legacy that is being talked about in the news the last couple of days – the legacy of John Wooden. Here is a guy that engineered the greatest college basketball dynasty ever (10 championships in 12 years) yet that is just a side note in the articles being written about Coach Wooden since his death a few days ago at the age of 99.

Over and over those that were touched by Coach Wooden have talked about how much he taught them about life. Each report mentions John Wooden the teacher. His players talk about what an honor it was to be his student. I even noticed the second generation affects of the coach. As Bill Walton (former UCLA player) paid homage to the coach in a pre-game ceremony, the cameras moved to Luke Walton (Bill’s son and a Los Angles Laker) as he wiped away tears. Throughout Luke’s life his dad would write down maxims from Coach Wooden and include them with his son’s lunches.

Coach Wooden often talked of the importance of character and responsibility. He talked of the importance of education and drinking from a good book, especially the Bible.

In all of his greatness as a basketball coach, he never made over $35,000 a year from the game of basketball. He even worked a second job as he started at UCLA just to get by. He used the game as a platform for teaching much more important things. (That is precisely why I am a Sports-Missionary.)

What about you? What type of legacy are you building? Are you leaving a wake behind you that makes a difference in other’s lives?

Proverbs 22
1 A good name is to be chosen rather than great riches,
Loving favor rather than silver and gold.