Monday, October 31, 2011

Ocotober 31, 2011 - It doesn't take much space...

One of the reasons I love hoops is because it is so easy to get the opportunity to play. It doesn’t require much equipment (and the equipment can even be kind of ragged.) Just about anything round up in the air can serve as a hoop (i.e. a bicycle tire rim on a pole.) I can even remember times with my kids of simply making my arms into a circle and telling them to shoot at it. Plus you don’t need a lot of space to be able to practice ball handling, etc.

The reason this comes to mind is because I think as believers we often fall victim to believing that our evangelism outreach needs to have a huge platform with bright lights. As a church we often gear toward big events as the way to reach people. When in reality it doesn’t take much “space” to get face to face with someone and share the hope of glory, which is Christ in you! (Colossians 1:27)

This past week while in the Dominican Republic we crawled out of our van to go into a small storefront to exchange money. When I came back outside there was a group of kids mesmerized by some of our InBounds coaches. Two of the coaches (Justin and Clay) had basketballs under their arms and another, Frank (who speaks Spanish), began talking with the kids. One of the kids even had a worn out old basketball with him.

I asked Clay to do some dribbling drills in front of the kids. They were “hooked.” Next thing I know I am sitting in a very small area of a crowded parking lot with kids having an impromptu hoops clinic. And the beauty is that Frank was in turn telling them about Jesus and giving them Gospel tracts to read.

How about you? Are you taking advantage of the “space” that you are in to share the Good News?

Yesterday I preached in two services about the fact that we are not only called to be servants of Christ but also stewards of the mysteries of Christ. (1 Corinthians 4:1-2) This passage calls us to be faithful to this task. (A “steward” means that God has entrusted this to us!)

So how are we faithful to this? By serving Christ - via serving others! (You know the whole “done unto the least of these, you’ve done it unto me” sermon.) And we need to be faithful to share the Gospel in those encounters.

Side note from yesterday’s sermons: We cannot claim to be serving Christ while ignoring others!

Monday, October 24, 2011

October 24, 2011 - Cracking the Whip

What is the goal of a coach? What is his job? Should he drive his team by cracking the whip?

Today, here in the Dominican Republic, I saw a great picture that got the questions rolling in our van full of coaches. A man was going down the street with his oxen pulling a load. He was at times really cracking the whip on the oxen. Not only was it a great cultural picture (since we do not often see oxen yoked together in the states); but it was also a great sports picture and spiritual picture.

The initial analogy that came up was dealing with the use of the whip. Of course we were discussing the times as a coach that we have to crack it.

I made the following observation: As long as the oxen are yoked and going in the same direction (same goal) then the whip is simply a way to speed that up or keep it moving. Therefore the coach’s job does involve at times cracking the whip.

But then it dawned on me that the farmer was also the guy that placed the yoke on the oxen. Therefore it reminded me that the coach’s job also includes setting the direction/goals of the team – unifying them. It would be very hard to crack the whip in the process of putting on the yoke; that needs to be a time of peace for the animals/team…

As a Christian coach the goal should not be winning games/championships nearly as much as it should be everyone striving to honor God in effort and attitude – or as my good friend Terry Primm put it: “Playing to make God famous!” (Colossians 3:23)

And this is also the reminder of our responsibilities to be careful who we are yoked to… Our “teammates” (be it a spouse, boyfriend or girlfriend, business partner, best friend, etc.) should be equally yoked with us. In other words we should have the yoke of the Word of God guiding us and keeping us on the right path; along with at times the Holy Spirit cracking the whip of conviction!

2 Corinthians 6: 14 Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness? 15 And what accord has Christ with Belial? Or what part has a believer with an unbeliever?

Monday, October 17, 2011

October 17, 2011 - Diet

Last night as I looked at my son chomping on his bag of potato chips that he had purchased, it reminded me of how often we need to hear basic truths. I mentioned to him that he needed to take more seriously his diet if he truly wanted to be the best athlete he could be. His response was, “I’ve got to put on weight somehow.” I quickly reminded him that even though he does need to bulk up some that is not the way to do it. He needs to put on the right kind of weight and also give his body what it needs for complete healing from his knee injury. Literally put, he needed reminded that if you put crap in you get crap out! I reminded him that staples of his diet need to include protein and good carbs.

The interesting thing is that this discussion came after I had spoken twice yesterday about one’s diet. Only I was not talking about the physical diet but instead one’s mental diet…

I reminded the folks I was talking with of a very well-known truth; one which I have written about in these weekly devotions; yet one that I think needs repeating often.

Ephesians 1:13-14 tells us that the believer is indwelt by the Holy Spirit and sealed until the day of redemption. Galatians 5:16-18 reminds us of how this plays out in our lives. As believers we have both the Spirit and this flesh (and its mind) that has desires. It is truly a battle that takes place for supremacy of our thought lives. And which one wins that battle will be which one you feed the most.

Basically the world is full of “junk food” that feeds the flesh and its desires. Our flesh craves things that feed our pride and our lusts. That is the “food” for the flesh.

So what does the Spirit like to eat? God’s Word! God’s Word is the nutrient that transforms our minds. God’s Word is the nutrient that strengthens the Holy Spirit in us. God’s Word has to be a major part of our daily diet if we want to be the best spiritual athletes we can be! (Browse through Psalm 119 today.)

I urge you this week to take a look at your “diet.” What are you “feeding” on each day? What are you watching, listening to, and talking about?

Is God’s Word a staple in your diet? (Or are you content to just “eat” of it once a week at church?)

Monday, October 10, 2011

October 10, 2011 - An Understanding Coach

I was talking with a good friend tonight about the struggles that great players have when they try to be coaches. Basically we see guys like Larry Bird, Magic Johnson, or even Michael Jordan that struggle in coaching roles. Why is that when they are such great players?

One common thread to the greatest players in any sport is their great dedication to hard work. They have a mentality that cannot settle for less than giving one’s best. They cannot stand to lose. They have a mentality that says, “you may beat me today but I won’t stop…therefore I will catch you!

This all sounds like a mentality of a great coach. The problem is that these guys cannot understand players that don’t have that same drive. They are sickened by players that are content to lose. They forget that they are the exceptional ones and thus are not very understanding as coaches.

I thought of a Proverb in chapter 10 that says:
26 As vinegar to the teeth and smoke to the eyes,
So is the lazy man to those who send him.

I am reminded of the importance of hard work – again in Proverbs 10:
4 He who has a slack hand becomes poor,
But the hand of the diligent makes rich.
5 He who gathers in summer is a wise son;
He who sleeps in harvest is a son who causes shame.

Did you get the spiritual implications there? The Lord of the Harvest has called us to action. He has commissioned us to preach the Gospel and make disciples. How often do we cause Him shame?

I often use this platform to try to challenge us in our reasonable service to the Lord. I hope this week to do the same. But I also hope to comfort us by reminding us that, unlike the superstars that cannot handle coaching screw-ups, our God is patient, kind, and merciful! He is the God of second, third, fourth…chances.

Lamentations 3: 22 Through the LORD’s mercies we are not consumed,
Because His compassions fail not.
23 They are new every morning;
Great is Your faithfulness.
24 “ The LORD is my portion,” says my soul,

“ Therefore I hope in Him!”

Monday, October 3, 2011

October 3, 2011 - Leave It All On The Court!

“Leave it all on the court!”
“Bust it to the buzzer!”
“The only numbers on the scoreboard that truly matter? The clock – Give your all until it zeros out!”

I love to coach players that leave the court exhausted! I love to coach players that have to look at me and ask for a substitute because they have been giving it all. (In fact I had a standing rule that if you came out of the game because of exhaustion that I would get you back in the game as soon as you were ready. The adverse, if I pulled you because of laziness you should expect a long visit on the sidelines!)

The point is I want to see that the game matters to you as my player.

I recently heard a commercial on television where an older guy stated “I want to die exhausted.” It wasn’t a very good advertisement because I cannot remember the product, but the line jumped out at me.

John Wesley was quoted as saying, ““Do all the good you can. By all the means you can. In all the ways you can. In all the places you can. At all the times you can. To all the people you can. As long as ever you can.” I also saw that it was attributed to him as saying “I want to die exhausted for Christ.”

All of this has me thinking of an admonition in the Scriptures that I quote often in these devotions: 1 Corinthians 15:58 tell us to be steadfast and immovable. We are good at that in the church. We hold fast to our doctrine and traditions. We consistently meet together (and often sit in the same seats.) My fear is that we have taken the word “immovable” too far. We ignore the next part that says we should be always abounding in the work of the Lord.

Did you get that? “Always!”-----“Abounding!”

Or in the words of John Wooden, “Move, move, move!”

So what is the “work of the Lord?” We can look at a lot of things yet based upon the great commission I think we can easily state that there is a huge emphasis on “the Lord of the Harvest.”

2 Then He said to them, “The harvest truly is great, but the laborers are few; therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest. (Luke 10)

34 Jesus said to them, “My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me, and to finish His work. 35 Do you not say, ‘There are still four months and then comes the harvest’? Behold, I say to you, lift up your eyes and look at the fields, for they are already white for harvest! 36 And he who reaps receives wages, and gathers fruit for eternal life, that both he who sows and he who reaps may rejoice together. (John 4)

Are you willing to give your all until the “buzzer sounds”? Are you going to “leave it all on the court”? God’s “game plan” is clear.

I don’t know about you, but I want to “die exhausted”!