Monday, August 30, 2010

August 30, 2010 - Are you ready Keep?

I am so proud of my boy Daniel DeGraff! He is a young man that played basketball for me a few years ago, but his main sport is soccer. He is now a freshman at High Point Univ. and a keeper (goalie) on their soccer team.

I am proud of him for a couple of reasons; first and foremost because of his character. Last year as a senior at Statesville Christian School I watched Daniel not only excel in sports and academics but also in mentoring younger guys in our school (including my son who was a freshman.)

Secondly I am proud of his athletic accomplishments. Being a goalie at a division 1 institution is a huge task – especially as just a 6’ tall guy. The thing that is so impressive is that as a freshman he has dressed as the number 2 keeper – which has been a result of an incredible amount of hard work and dedication.

There are other guys vying for that position – one of which Daniel has admitted is neck and neck with him on ability and athleticism. Yet Daniel’s response when asked about this young man is, “He makes me better. He pushes me.” In other words “iron is sharpening iron.” (See Proverbs 27:17 for this truth)

I think about the beginning of soccer games when the ref yells out, “Are you ready Keep?” I know Daniel is ready because of effort, dedication, and a like-minded training partner that pushes him to excellence.

How about you? Are you surrounded by others that spur you on to excellence in life? I am talking about in pursuing your dreams and most importantly in pursuing the Lord.

We all need those like-minded training partners to sharpen us!

Monday, August 23, 2010

August 23, 2010 - A Player's Heart

What is required of players? - Being on time to practice; giving maximum effort; listening to the coaches; etc. Every coach has a list of expectations for players.

In the Christian world we have far too often keyed on the very specific rules that God has set forth (or in some cases we have set forth) as our guidelines or expectations. Yet that is far too simplistic of an approach.

As a coach I look for attitudes as much as aptitudes. I want players that give maximum effort with maximum respect and dedication. I try to measure the heart.

I think that is what Jesus was saying when He summed up the Law with “loving God and loving others.” That is basically what is stated in Micah 6:8. The verse states point blank what “the Lord requires” of us:

Act justly! (Be fair in your dealings with others. Do what is right.)
Love mercy! (Be forgiving and kind to others.)
Walk humbly with your God! (Realize who you are before the Almighty, Holy God!)

God measures the heart based upon our love for Him and others.

21 Would not God search this out?
For He knows the secrets of the heart. (Psalm 44)

Monday, August 16, 2010

August 16, 2010 - Planning

As the new school year has started my son has been discussing his plans with me. I talked to him about everything from his typical basketball shot charts to the importance of his grade point average. He has set his plan to be a better student and also to work out harder than ever to prepare for basketball season.I think it is great that he is starting to understand the importance of planning and goal setting.

Are you a goal setter? In order to be successful there must be measurable results. Yet ultimately I believe there is an even more important ingredient: why you are setting the goals. Is it all about you or are your plans to honor and glorify God? Do you realize that as believers our goals here on earth should ultimately be Kingdom focused?

The Apostle Paul said, "For me to live is Christ and to die is gain." (Philippians 1:21)

Paul also said this in Philippians 3:7 But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ. 8 Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ 9 and be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith; 10 that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death, 11 if, by any means, I may attain to the resurrection from the dead.

I think these are strong verses that go to the heart of the motive of our plans.
Proverbs 16 says the following:

3 Commit to the LORD whatever you do,
and your plans will succeed.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

August 9, 2010 - Eyes and Ears

As I was conducting basketball clinics this past week I was reminded of the importance of training the eyes. As I teach shooting skills I spend a lot of time explaining to the kids how to position their bodies. We discuss the feet, knees, behinds, shoulders, arms, and even the eyes.

As I was telling one little girl to get her feet pointed toward the goal, she began trying to watch her feet while she was shooting. Therefore here eyes were not on the rim – the target. A shooter has to train his or her eyes just like the rest of the body is trained.

I also was reminded of the importance of the eyes in listening skills (while in a clinic for 1st through 5th graders.) I thought of my good friend, Coach Rick Lewis. Rick always reminds his players to listen with not only their ears but also their eyes – to stay focused and not be distracted by other things.

In this hustle-and-bustle world we live in we are easily distracted. I encourage you to set some priorities in your life and get focused on them. I encourage you to get your “eyes” off of things that are wasting your time. Train your eyes!

The most important place is to train your eyes to God’s Word – His way of doing things. The Scriptures tell us in Ephesians to “redeem the time.” I love the simple way it is put in Psalm 119 verse 37:

Turn away my eyes from looking at worthless things, And revive me in Your way.

In other words make sure your eyes and ears are tuned into what God has for you!

Monday, August 2, 2010

August 2, 2010 - Good Coaches and Bad Coaches

This past Sunday I heard a message from Genesis 22 where Abraham is willing and prepared to sacrifice his son Isaac. The application points showed that Abraham’s obedience to God was immediate and un-questioning. Abraham fully trusted God. God had made a promise that Isaac was the heir of promise and Abraham knew God would provide.

It reminded me of a discussion I had with my son recently. We were discussing his teen-age tendency to respond to directives he does not like with the flippant response of “Whatever.”

I used as examples how he responds to his mother and me; how he responds to his coaches; how he will eventually responds to bosses, etc. I told him that I would not choose him as a team captain if I were his coach because I see his body language and “whatever” responses. I used as an example the fact that over the years I have had many circumstances where I disagreed with my bosses, yet remained silent and simply did my job.

He then said, “But what if the leader is wrong?” He said, “Why didn’t you speak up to your boss? You are a man and he is a man. You have a right to share your thoughts.”

I told him he is a much better American than Christian. I explained that submission is a Christian quality we often struggle with. Last week’s devotion talked about us acting differently than the world. Listen to what 1 Peter chapter 2 tells us about this very issue:

18 Servants, be submissive to your masters with all fear, not only to the good and gentle, but also to the harsh. 19 For this is commendable, if because of conscience toward God one endures grief, suffering wrongfully. 20 For what credit is it if, when you are beaten for your faults, you take it patiently? But when you do good and suffer, if you take it patiently, this is commendable before God. 21 For to this you were called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps: 22 “ Who committed no sin, Nor was deceit found in His mouth”; 23 who, when He was reviled, did not revile in return; when He suffered, He did not threaten, but committed Himself to Him who judges righteously; 24 who Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness—by whose stripes you were healed. 25 For you were like sheep going astray, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.

It doesn’t get any clearer than this. We are responsible to be submissive – to the good coaches and bad coaches in life! Even to our earthly leaders our responses should be immediate and un-questioning! (Obviously as long as we are not being instructed to sin.)