Sunday, July 25, 2010

July 26, 2010 - We Cannot Remain Silent

Tonight I went to pick up my son at a local park near where we are staying. He has been going up there in the evenings to run in some basketball games. Tonight I got out of the van to watch some 1-on-1 action taking place with the few guys that were left.

Honestly the action was not overly exciting. They all seemed to be a bit lethargic concerning strength and stamina, but quite energetic with the mouth; except for the smallest guy up there who quietly won each game I watched him play.

The thing that stood out to me was how mouthy a couple of the guys were. Even as I walked up they continued their vulgarities and their weak attempts at sounding tough. I have been around mouthy players all of my life. I have been around playgrounds and heard all the words that they can come up with. Yet most of the time when an older adult came up the teens would show a bit of restraint and respect.

I know this is not coming across as much of a devotional to this point; and more of a rant against society. Please don’t misunderstand me. I do not expect the world to talk like I expect Christians to talk. I am just making the point that the Judeo-Christian ethic of our country is almost non-existent now. (This should allow for us as Christians to stand out even more – even a more stark contrast to the world!)

As I spoke with one of the young men courtside I was asking him where he, and the others, attended school. When I asked about the loudest and most vulgar mouth of the bunch I was informed that he had just graduated from a local Christian high school.

Obviously this gives me great fuel for devotions with my own kids. I hope you will take the following things to heart.

1 Peter 2: 9 But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light;

Please note: We are not seen as different just because we don’t talk or act like the world; we are seen as different because we talk and act differently than the world!!!!!!!!!

It is not enough to simply stay silent; we are called to “proclaim the praises” of God!

We cannot remain silent! It is time to get loud and proud about our Savior!

Sunday, July 18, 2010

July 19, 2010 - Winning is a habit!

One of the things a coach is responsible for is to help his team learn how to win. To some that seems like a ridiculous statement – “doesn’t that just come with scoring more points?” Technically speaking - yes. But there are other aspects to this, especially when facing strong competition. What I mean by this is a team must be taught the difference between “playing to win” vs. “playing not to lose.”

This happens when facing a strong opponent, maybe one that others expect to beat your team. When your team gets ahead they start tightening up and “playing not to lose” (afraid of making mistakes.) They seem shocked to be ahead in the game as though they had not truly expected to be there. This is where the coaching comes in to get them over that hump to where they not only expect to be winning, but are shocked when they are behind.

How does this happen? Obviously that is why so many hours are spent practicing and honing individual skills. Hours are spent teaching teamwork. A coach’s job is preparation physically and mentally. He has to let the players know that he is right there with them – guiding them – earning their trust. Then it comes down to a simple formula: success breeds success! The players have to battle through the uncertainties of the game and find themselves on the winning side. Or as the great Vince Lombardi said: “Winning is a habit!”

How free do you think players would be if the coach told them they couldn’t lose? If they truly believed that no matter how bleak the game looked or how huge their opponent is, they have the winning formula? What great confidence!

Do you realize that life is much like a game? Sometimes the opponents (struggles) seem too large or great. Yet other times seem to go very easy. Our goal as believers is to understand that our victory is found in the same place in either circumstance – the Lord Jesus Christ.

The Apostle Paul understood it as he faced a very topsy-turvy life. He endured beatings, shipwrecks, hunger, etc. He also had times of prosperity where the churches took great care of him. Through it all he found contentment and victory in Christ! (See Philippians 4:13)

King David understood it as he wrote the famous 23rd Psalm. He found his comfort in the “green pastures and quiet waters” or in “the valley of the shadow of death.” He knew it was God’s presence that was his victory. (Heard a great message on this passage this morning by the interim pastor at my in-laws’ church. He is a professor at Palm Beach Atlantic University and did a great job pointing out the ever-present, pursuing God of David!)

Read through Psalm 23 and see how David found victory! He ends the psalm with the assurance that he will win in the end – he will “dwell in the house of the Lord forever!”

For the believer – winning should be a habit – after all it is a guarantee!

Monday, July 12, 2010

July 12, 2010 - Who is the star of the team?

When coaching basketball the goal is to keep the players focus on the game plan and good of the team. Yet it is a sport that makes it easy for players to focus on personal achievement and acknowledgement.

John Wooden would not allow the names of the players to be put on the back of their jerseys so he could remind them that the only name that mattered was on the front of the jersey. Although he had some of the most gifted players on the planet, he emphasized that UCLA was the “star.”

We have been studying the book of Acts at church and it amazes me how focused the early church was. Christ was always the “star” of the “team.” No matter what was going on they came back to proclaiming Christ!

In chapter 4 we see that the Holy Spirit’s power was so great that the house was shaken. Yet in response the believers didn’t shout about the shaking, they shouted about the Word of God.

Acts 4:31 And when they had prayed, the place where they were assembled together was shaken; and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and they spoke the word of God with boldness.

My good friend Roy Mason has been leading this journey through Acts and made a great observation. Before Saul was named Paul he always received “second billing”; every time he is mentioned it is “Barnabas and Saul.” Yet after Paul was prepared for ministry the tone changes and it is “Paul and Barnabas.” May not seem like a big deal to most but it says a lot about Barnabas as a team player. He did not care who the “star” was.

Dr Mason gives a very simple philosophy for us as a church/team. “It is amazing how much can be accomplished if we don’t care who gets the credit!

Remember that the “name on the front of your jersey”: is that of CHRISTian. You should be concerned with Christ and His Word getting the glory!

Monday, July 5, 2010

July 5, 2010 - Pursuit

Tonight I will begin another week of basketball camps here in NC. The past 2 weeks have been labeled “Basic Training”; this week we are entering “Advanced Individual Training.” This camp will go beyond the typical hoops training and devotionals we do and actually encourage each player to think through some individual goals’ both on and off the court. We will adhere to our goal of creating total players: body, mind, & Spirit.

The goal is to get them to understand a great maxim from Coach John Wooden to “make each day your masterpiece.” This involves being very intentional with one’s day. It involves an active pursuit of one’s goals.

We are going to work hard! John Wooden also said that “goals achieved with little effort are seldom worthwhile or lasting.

I will direct the players tonight to do the same thing I am directing each of you to do in this devotional; prioritize your life! Where does family, friends, sports, job/school, entertainment, etc. fit into your schedule? Where does God fit into all of this? (How is your Bible study, prayer life, etc.?) [God should both supersede and also affect all the other areas of priority.]

15 Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth…
22 Flee also youthful lusts; but pursue righteousness, faith, love, peace with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart. (2 Timothy 2)

Notice the individual responsibility; the intentionality; the pursuit! This looks like a great “game plan” for life!