Monday, June 27, 2011

June 27, 2011 - The Love of the Game

The Love of the Game

I often hear that phrase used, yet what does it truly mean? Many people enjoy sports; participate in sports, watch sports; etc. Yet the “love of the game” goes beyond that.

I often have my son tell me that he has dreamed about playing. I see him walking into a store and pantomiming making a move with the basketball or going up for a dunk. The game truly consumes his thinking much of the time. (One of his friends has a tattoo with a ball and wedding rings that says “married to the game.”)

It is like falling in love. Keith Urban describes that type of love by saying:

“I wanna put you in a song.” He goes on to say,
“It'd be so easy I'd just write it from my heart
'Cause I gotta tell the world what you mean to me
Wrap you up in a melody so you'll be
Stuck in my head all day
'Cause you're already there anyway…”

Do you get that? True love creates a continual focus and passion for something. It creates not only thoughts that consume one’s mind but also words that spill forth from one’s mouth – to “tell the world.”

Is that how you feel about Christ? Is that how I feel about Christ?

I think that is what He was getting at in John chapter 4 when He told the Samaritan woman that “true worshippers” will “worship in spirit and in truth.” He tells her that it doesn’t take place on the mountain top or in Jerusalem (or in a church building), but in one’s spirit – a daily consuming worship.

Do you (and I) think about the Lord throughout our days? Does He consume not only our thoughts but also cause us to “tell the world”?

Psalm 40:3 He has put a new song in my mouth— Praise to our God; Many will see it and fear, And will trust in the LORD.

Oh to love the Savior more than we love the game (life)!!!!!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Summer/Fall 2011 News... (and requests)

Hello Team - we are fully engaged into the summer/fall schedule and have many things lined up - as I type this I am sitting in Dayton, OH - Clay is watching and taking notes at a Jason Otter Point Guard Elite Camp - it is killing him to sit out with this injury but I have to say he is handling it well and the Jason Otter staff is treating him incredibly! - he is getting some good time with Trevor Huffman (of Kent State fame) and a couple of current college players that helping - Lisa is home with the other 4 kids and trying to get everything ready for the tip-off of our ROCK'em Road Trips for the summer

Next week we will host a handful of middle school age players for 5 days; and then in just a few few weeks I will hit the road with 8-10 hs age players to the midwest... - much training (court and Word), much service, much fun! - please pray for thes young men as I plan to get up in their faces a bit and challenge them to honor God in all they do!

Beginning next week is a weekly afternoon free hoops clinic we will be conducting in Mooresville, NC on our church's back lot - we just worked with a group from Winston-Salem for 3 days there and saw around 20 kids per day on the court and under the Word! (We were able to see multiple kids make professions of faith in Christ under the preachign/teaching of my good friend Michael Swink!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!)

I am also serving as a transitional pastor at a church in Cleveland, NC while they look for a pastor; trying to keep up with our weekly devotions to post on the web (we are halfway through our 10th year of this); and we are looking to take on students for our Home School Hoops outreach that we are doing in our driveway!

On top of all of this I am coordinating our Fall schedule of missions - in September I am scheduled to attend the Youth Evangelism Association Annual Conference (of which I am a board member); I also was slated to make a trip to Trinidad for surveying future work (this one is up in the air); Lisa, Clay, and I are all scheduled to be in the Dominican Repuublic in October to conduct a sports festival and youth rally where I have full reign to share the Gospel! - there is expected to be 200-300 kids at this festival/rally; many that will hear the clear Gospel message for the first time!!!!!!!!!! - following this is a request to return to the Czech Republic in November - we have located a missionary there that we will be meeting with to set up proper follow-up on the kids we reach - I am also working on ideas for a high school hoops jamboree that we will sponsor..., a request to plan a time in Peru, etc. etc.

All of this hopefully lets you see how vital your prayers are for us; and how vital your help financially will be

Please pray for each of the outreaches we have mentioned and for the financial state of InBounds Ministries - it is amazing how God has supplied our needs over the 4 years of full-time service with InBounds - and as you can see there are many financial needs with all the travel ahead of us, equipment that is needed, still a need for a trailer, etc - on top of this Lisa has basically been working for free to help maintain the administrative side of things and my prayer is that eventually she will be a paid member of staff - to be specific we need to raise around $30,000 to finish out 2011 strong - (this number includes the regular monthly giving from our supporters) - I can assure you we keep our budget as small/tight as possible

Will you please pray and consider giving at this crucial time of outreach? We need your help and these kids/adults need the Gospel!!!!!!!!

Also pray for the outreach in Indianapolis that Matt and Rebekah are heading up - they are incredibly faithful to the cause of Christ and take much of their little free time to make a difference!

Monday, June 20, 2011

June 20, 2011 - ELITE

I am sitting in a parking lot in Dayton Ohio; listening to the rain pour down on the roof of my van; and thinking about some things I heard this morning as my son began 4 days of Point Guard Elite Camp. (Many of you know that Clay has just had major knee surgery. Don't worry he is just observing and taking notes. Although I think he is probably shedding a few tears inwardly...)

This camp is quite impressive. There is a pre-requisite of being a previous camper/student and the word "elite" is emphasized in many ways. The first way i saw it was in reading the rules for the players that are staying at the hotel. There is a very high standard set for behavior and the result of breaking the rules - immediate dismissal. To basically quote them: "This is an elite camp and we expect elite behavior."

During the intros this morning (that the parents were allowed to sit in on) this idea continued to emerge. There were:

* Questions like: "What is it that sets you apart?" This was referring to when you are on the floor with great athletes and you need a skill set that makes you stand out.

* Statements like: "It's not where you start but where you finish." - "You don't get here talking about it."

* Challenges like: "You don't have to see a trainer every day." Followed by the reasoning that personal accountability to get better is mandatory.

All of this with kids from all over the midwest, souteast, etc. whose parents have sacrificed to have them here. Even though Clay cannot participate this week I still have expectations of him learning and being motivated to be his best. If I am going to spend time and money to bring him then I expect "elite" effort and commitment as a result. That is reasonable!

For those of us that are believers in Christ, hasn't God given us a lot? Duh! We have freely received salvation through the finished work of the Son He gave. (Remember John 3:16?) HE has blessed us with so much. And yet we constantly seem to need a kick in the pants to remember that He deserves "elite" commitment in our Christian lives.

Luke 12:48 tells us that if we have received much then musch is required.

* So what is it that sets you apart? Scripturally it should be your attitude (See the Fruit of the Spirit) which is directed by 2 things: love for God and love for others - that is shown via service to others. (See the devo from June 6, 2011)
* Where will you finish? We all start as sinners! (Romans 3:23) Heaven vs Hell is based upon God's grace, solely through our faith, or lack thereof, in the finished work of Christ, not of works! (John 3:18, 36) Yet in the end for believers there is a judgement for reward based upon faithful service....
* You don't need a trainer every day! For us it can be reworded: You need to do more that see a trainer just on Sundays and maybe Wednesdays. You have a personal responsibility to daily be in the Word yourself. No excuses, get better!

ELITE: considered to be the finest...

Monday, June 13, 2011

June 13, 2011 - It's Your Time

Well the NBA Finals have come to a close and the Dallas Mavericks shocked the world with their defeat of the Miami Heat. From a basketball coaches perspective, the Mavs were very fun to watch as they demonstrated beautiful teamwork on the offensive and defensive ends; and also had some incredible individual strength shown in many of their players.

The Heat on the other hand were different. Although their amazing athleticism provided multiple highlight reel moments, in the end it was clear they are not a team. When they would get bogged down in a half-court offense, they looked like they had no clue what to do or where to go. Dwayne Wade said is most plainly in a post-game news conference when he simply stated that the Mavs were better than the Heat.

The guy that couldn't seem to grasp or understand what had happened is LeBron. His remarks I have read or heard don't give credit to the Mavs for not only their brilliant play but also their brilliant plan to shut him down. He spent much of his press time complaing about the LeBron-haters and acting offended when people point out that he fell short. (His finals numbers are well below his normal averages.)

I have often defended LeBron in conversations with LeBron-haters. The young man has tremendous talent, is a very unselfish player, and is truly a product of living in a world that has not only called him "KIng" but also has for the most part sat him on a king's throne. Yes, he is very arrogant and thinks the world revolves around him. Yet his tweet following last night's loss shows the true picture of where his needs lie:

"The Greater Man upstairs knows when it's my time," James tweeted. "Right now isn't my time."

There are a couple things I would like to point out about this, and granted I am speculating a bit.

1. Calling God "The Greater Man" insinuates that LeBron views himself as a great man - there is that pride that comes before the fall.

2. Saying God knows "when it's my time" insinuates that LeBron feels entitled to a championship ring by God. (Personally I don't think God cares who wins the NBA title - doesn't rank high on His priority list!)

But I will give LeBron his due, God does know when it is his time. And when it is his time the discussion will not be about basketball. It will first be based upon did LeBron ever swallow his pride and realize he is not a great man? Did he ever recognize that his sin has separated him from a holy God? Did he ever realize that there has only been one great man and His name is Jesus, the Messiah, the Savior, the Substitute that God sent into the game of life for LeBron (because Lebron couldn't perform well enough to earn the title of eternal life)? Did he ever accept this Substitute by believing in the finished work of the Lord Jesus Christ?

Lebron, God does know your time; He loves you so much that in spite of the fact that you fall short (not on the basketball court but in life) He still extends an offer for you to be on His team that was made through the death and resurrection of His Son. You can choose to accept this truth now or face it when it is your time. But do not be mistaken: 9 Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, 10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, 11 and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. (Philippians 2)

Feel free to insert your name in the place of LeBron's....

Monday, June 6, 2011

June 6, 2011 - The Incredible Shrinking Superstar

I was reading an article today that called Lebron James the "incredible shrinking superstar." The writer was looking at Lebron's stats so far in the 3 games against the Dallas Mavericks and determined that his stats were not worthy of being called a superstar.

Whether it is sports writers or the average fan, people tend to determine if a player is good based upon if they like or dislike the player as a person. Obviously Lebron is a very polarizing figure. I would say that now he has as many people that disdain him as like him. (I know the sports writers try to make it out that everyone outside of Miami hates him, but his jersey was still thbe number one seller in the NBA this year.) Yet the absurdity of saying Lebron is not good blows my mind (as does the Nowitzki haters saying Dirk is no good; or the Kobe haters saying Kobe is no good; etc.) A players personality does not determine his effectiveness on the court. In Lebrons case, his statistics for the last 6 years straight has been at a level that no other player has matched even for one year.

So back to the present series...

Yes Lebron's numbers are a bit down. Some can be attributed to the fact that Shawn Marion is no slouch on defense. Some can be attributed to the fact that a smart team will go to it greatest mismatches, and although I love Jason Kidd's game - he cannot guard Dwayne Wade! And some can be attributed to playing smart basketball.

One of the things I constantly stress to players I train is to make the simplest play possible. When players are concerned with the showboat plays more than the simple plays they are not near as effective. If you are watching the games you see the Dallas defense heavily shifting toward Lebron when he gets the ball. If basketball recorded assists like hockey does then Lebron's numbers would be beyond superstar status. He is often making the simple skip pass that sets things in motion for the heat. (At least it is the simple pass for a 6'8" monster that sees the whole floor.) Lebron has silently done so much this series that most writers and fans simply do not pick up on.

This is because we highlight the numbers columns of the stat sheets more than the team oriented approach that Lebron is playing. [Even if you think he is an arrogant schmuck - which he very well may be - it doesn't change the fact that he is a dominant force.]

So how is this leading into this week's devotion? Tonight I spoke with a men's group about what it means to be free in Christ. I likened it unto a basketball freelance offense where players have freedom within the rules to make decisions with the basketball.

Lebron has that type of freedom every time the ball is in his hands. His choices can be to be a "superstar" and always rely on his amazing athleticism, score a lot more points, etc. Or he can strive to make the smart team play each time down the floor. (Watch out NBA when he matures even more in the latter approach...)

As Christians we tend to celebrate and look for the "superstar" moments. As a missionary I often hear people's acclaim for trips we take overseas or big events we run. Yet not much is made about the simple things like this past Thursday when Clay saw a 7 yr old boy at the park and decided to do an impromptu little basketball clinic with the kid - and then made sure the boys mom had a Gospel tract in hand.

The point this week is this: we are set free in order to serve one another! (See Galatians 5:13.) We serve Christ by serving others. (See Matthew 25 about when it is we have served Christ.)

I think it is time that we stop waiting for the big "superstar" moments in our service and open our eyes to make the simple play and help meet people's needs on a daily basis - even if it means we will not be listed as a "superstar." In fact I think Biblically the goal is to be a "shrinking superstar." It is not about us but about Christ! (See John 3:30.)