Monday, May 30, 2011

May 30, 2011 - TRUST

I often work with young men that have aspirations of playing division 1 college ball. Yet in basketball that means that they would have to be among the top 1% of varsity high school players that reach that level. Some of these young men get faced with a very difficult decision: go to a division 1 school, practice hard, and possibly never get playing time - or - go to a lower level school and get a lot of playing time.

There is not a right or wrong answer to this dilemma. These young men have all had a lot of playing time leading up to the collegiate level and there are pros and cons to whichever way they choose. Make no mistake, all players want to play!

For those that take the approach with no promise of playing time, they are convinced that they will work hard, earn the coach's favor, and get their chances. To even be on the team is a major accomplishment and for competitors presents a great challenge.

For all of these players, this dilemma is an indicator that they have worked hard to hone their craft and to prove their worth. Throughout high school and AAU ball they have hoped to catch the eye of coaches/scouts that will offer/entrust to them college scholarships.

Can you imagine receiving an offer like that? What a great feeling!
Well for us as Christians, I have great news! Yesterday as I sat under the preaching/teaching of my dear friend Freddie Coile, I was reminded of a great passage in 1 Thessalonians -

2:4 But as we have been appoved by God to be entrusted with the Gospel...

Did you catch that? The God of the universe has entrusted His Gospel message to us to share with others! How cool is that?

Freddie reminded us that to be "entrusted" with something means that we have a choice on what to do with it - but that the one that entrusts something to us will one day expect us to give an account of how we handled it.

Can you imagine how frustrated a college coach would be if he offered a scholarship to a player and the player then just sat at home watching TV, eating junk food, and being lazy?

Yet most Christians ignore the trust that has been given. I was reading the book "Radical Together" (follow-up to Radical), and a guy is mentioned that could not name one person outside of his family that he had led to Christ. He is then quoted as stating that he had been doing all the "church stuff" but igonoring this sacred trust.

The book goes on to make the following statement: "We don't want to come to the end of our days on earth only to realize that we have had little impact on more people going to heaven."

Yet I need to go back to my friend Freddie. He also reminded us that with a "trust" comes a responsibility to be careful and accurate with the Gospel. We want to make sure we honor the God that has entrusted us by sharing exactly what He intended for us to share...

I encourage each of you to do a couple things:
1. Commit to faithfully share the Gospel of Christ with a lost and dying world.
2. Commit to faithfully share the Gospel clearly! (For help in this take a look at Fredie's website: and click on "The Gospel")

I mentioned earlier that all players want to play; I conclude that all Christians should want to share the Gospel with others - it is a sacred trust!

Monday, May 23, 2011

May 23, 2011 - PED's (I Confess)

The sports news today is filled with stories of PED’s (performance enhancing drugs) – accusations and denials. There is the story of Lance Armstrong being accused by fellow cyclists; the story of ESPN asking professional players how prevalent PED’s are in their respective sports; the obvious baseball controversies; and today even a report from a soccer star about his national team doping…

So why is this so prevalent? Simply put, athlete’s desire to have an edge; to be as strong and as fast as possible; to have more endurance; etc. Although I totally disagree with them illegally gaining an edge, I do understand their motivation.

Therefore this week’s devotion is going to be a short admission of guilt on my part. As a missionary I long to preach the Word with boldness. As a missionary I long to speak the Word with power. As a missionary I long for the endurance to stay the course. Yet I also recognize the incredible battle I have before me. I realize that there is a spiritual battle I am in. I realize my enemy is strong. And ultimately I realize that I am weak.

I have written about this topic before in our weekly devotions but this confession is to remind you and to remind me – I am totally dependent upon a PED for ministry success. This PED is a Performance Enhancing Deity!
Isn’t it amazing that God not only gave us the gift of salvation but He also empowers our walk?

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.

1 John 4:4 You are of God, little children, and have overcome them, because He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.

And the list could go on and on…

Let’s face it, we are nothing without Him – I confess..

Monday, May 16, 2011

May 16, 2011 - Eliminate the Excess

I have been reading the book Radical with some of my students and one of the challenges involves finances. Some may wonder why I would even go over stewardship of finances with a bunch of middle school students; after all they don’t have an income stream…

Yet the challenge is not based around how much money one has (or doesn’t have) as much as it is about priorities and distribution. The book deals heavily with how much excess we as the American church spend that corresponds more with the “American dream” than the Biblical ideal.

Very simply put, there are 26,000 kids that will die today of malnutrition or preventable disease. Around 1 billion people are striving to live on less than $1 per day (and another 2 billion on less than $2 per day.) And we as the church spend around $10 billion a year on buildings…

With the students I reminded them of what a difference could be made through simple adjustments. What if we chose for the next year to order water instead of a soft drink or tea, and skipped the french fries. We would be saving as much as many people live on for a day and that could be put toward serving (not to mention the health benefits to us.)

Simply put the goal is to eliminate excess so we can meet needs. It reminded me of something I am sure I have probably written about over the years…

As a basketball trainer I consistently talk to players about wasted motion. Players tend to want to spend way too much time doing things that are getting them nowhere. For instance when a player catches the ball on the wing and faces up to the basket, many times I will see guys put the ball on the floor and take multiple dribbles just to get going. As a trainer/coach I simply want them to pound the ball one time and finish at the rim (with authority!) In other words the main objective is getting to the goal and that requires eliminating some things.

As believers there is no debate that we should be spreading the Gospel and meeting needs of others. It is simply time for us to eliminate some stuff and get “to the goal.”

So what about you? Are you willing to give some things up and give to some needs? Make a plan!

Read Matthew 25:31-40 for a better challenge straight from the mouth of Christ…

Monday, May 9, 2011

May 09. 2011 - Playing to the :00's

After watching some replays from yesterday’s Lakers/Mavs game I am shocked by the classless ending by a couple of the Lakers’ players – Lamar Odom and Andrew Bynum. The Lakers were trailing big in the 4th quarter of an elimination game where the Mavericks were polishing off their 4-game sweep of the 2-time defending NBA champs. In their frustration Odom and Bynum resorted to dirty, cheap shots that simply made them look pathetic. And unfortunately it looks bad on the whole organization.

I am sure we will soon hear of the fines/suspensions that will be levied against these 2 players. Their coach has stated that he “wasn’t happy” with how these guys got ejected from the game; yet went on to almost excuse them by stating, “It was unnecessary, but I know they were frustrated.” Are you kidding me? The word “but” has no place in the conversation! It was unnecessary.

Others have called these players and the overall lack of effort from the team as a whole an “embarrassment.” I have already been seeing remarks like “I ain’t going out like the Lakers!” Jan Hubbard of CBS Sports likened the Lakers unto an “aging boxer – confused, flailing, and beaten.”
We often hear about the importance of a first impression; yet the last impression speaks volumes as well. John Wooden talked often about winning and losing with class.

In 2 Timothy 4 the Apostle Paul is warning Timothy that he needs to “endure afflictions.” (vs. 5) He goes on to then give his personal testimony/valedictory – his “swan song.” He explains that his life has not been easy – he calls it a “fight”; he then likens it unto a “race”; then he says it: “I have kept the faith!” Paul is going to walk out of life’s arena with his head held high!

And then he realizes what awaits is not fines/suspensions but instead reward – the “crown of righteousness.”

In hoops I call this “playing to the :00’s” and “busting it to the buzzer.” We need to realize that our actions affect the team. People are watching (the stands are full.) Let’s focus on the “necessary” and avoid the “unnecessary”!!!!!!

Monday, May 2, 2011

May 2, 2011 - It's the playoffs Y'all - time to step up!

One of the things I have disliked about the NBA in the past is the players that would readily admit that they played harder during the playoffs than in the regular season. I just couldn’t understand why they would not give their all during every game they step on the floor. Yet as I get older I understand a bit more about what they are saying…

They are not saying that they do not try during the regular season but instead that they understand the need to pace themselves and the position themselves to be mentally and physically ready when the stakes raise in the playoffs. The simple truth of the matter is that once they hit the playoffs the end is near. Once they hit the playoffs every opponent is a strong opponent. Once they hit the playoffs it is a battle!

In this crazy world we live in we need to understand some simple truths. First is that every day we are closer to the end. Second is that our opponent is strong and ruthless (you know “lion…roaming…seeking…devour!) Therefore we are in a battle!

The book of Romans gives a very straight forward challenge:

Romans 13: 11 And do this, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep; for now our salvation is nearer than when we first believed. 12 The night is far spent, the day is at hand. Therefore let us cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armor of light. 13 Let us walk properly, as in the day, not in revelry and drunkenness, not in lewdness and lust, not in strife and envy. 14 But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill its lusts.

13: 11-14But make sure that you don't get so absorbed and exhausted in taking care of all your day-by-day obligations that you lose track of the time and doze off, oblivious to God. The night is about over, dawn is about to break. Be up and awake to what God is doing! God is putting the finishing touches on the salvation work he began when we first believed. We can't afford to waste a minute, must not squander these precious daylight hours in frivolity and indulgence, in sleeping around and dissipation, in bickering and grabbing everything in sight. Get out of bed and get dressed! Don't loiter and linger, waiting until the very last minute. Dress yourselves in Christ, and be up and about! (The Message)

In other words, spiritually speaking, it’s the playoffs y’all. It is time to step up!