Monday, January 30, 2012

January 30, 2012 - Perspiration

Last week I made the following statement: “Motivation must be a teammate of preparation and application through perspiration.” The devotion centered on the need to go beyond motivation and make sure that God’s Word, His Playbook, is an integral part of your day – every day!
The Christian life demands that we “prepare” by allowing God’s Word to transform the way we think. It is the equivalent of watching “game film” so one can analyze his own play, as well as understand the opponent. It is greatly rewarding as well as greatly humbling. It teaches, corrects, etc. The Scriptures make the promise of Itself to do these very things (see 2 Timothy 3:16-17) in order to help us have victory in the “game of life.”

Yet an athlete does not just watch game film. There has to be the “perspiration” mentioned in the opening statement. There has to be an application of the knowledge – which requires time and energy – which leads to perspiration.

Church I feel we spend time with the “game film” but way too little time with the perspiration of applying it. We are much like the Dead Sea. We have a live flow of water coming in but no outward flow – resulting in stagnation and death.

The typical response I get to this involves all the programs a church has for “outreach.” Yet that is not exactly what I am talking about. I am talking to us as individuals. Are we involved in other’s lives? Do we consider others as more important than ourselves? I am not asking if we have a scheduled time on our planners to “serve” and then feel good about ourselves. I am asking us to truly, daily exercise the mandates of Scripture to serve others!

My favorite basketball trainer is a guy named Jason Otter. He is phenomenal and worth every penny that people schedule with him for training. He often reminds players that they ultimately don’t need to pay trainers but instead need a personal work ethic that becomes part of their daily routines. Great players are not those that get occasional training, but those that have the game envelope their lives.

I am not opposed to church programs, I run some. But I am opposed to saying that is what being a servant looks like. You don’t schedule being a servant. Servanthood is an attitude created through the study of the Word, which transforms our minds to consider others as more important than self, which leads to a sacrifice of time and perspiration.

If we only worry about meeting needs when it is scheduled and we are delirious to other’s needs when it involves a loss of personal time, then I propose we are simply not being transformed by the Word. Transformation will result in perspiration/service.

Are you willing to be inconvenienced by others? Are you willing to not do something you planned to serve someone else?

We need to make sure that we are not just watching “Game Film” but also then stepping out onto the “court” in order to put forth the sweat of applying that knowledge to the “game.”

See - Mark 10:45, 1 Corinthians 9:19, 1 John 3:17-18

Monday, January 23, 2012

January 23, 2012 - Ignoring the Coach...

In our last devotion we spent our time looking at the element of motivation. We discussed the blowout win of Florida State over North Carolina that weekend and that Dickie V called it “humiliating.” Again he was not saying it was humiliating to lose to FSU (they are obviously a solid team as they beat Duke this week), but it was in the lack of effort/hustle on the part of the UNC players. He stated they had forgotten what it meant to wear the Carolina jersey.
From that we moved to the fact that we as Christians wear the name of Christ and that should motivate us to “play hard” in the game of life. We should strive to honor the name we bear. We ended at Ephesians 5:16 which tells us to take advantage of our time, to make every day count.

Well it is one thing to be motivated but there are other parts to the puzzle. Motivation must be a teammate of preparation and application through perspiration. A “player” must understand what is expected of him and then actually put it into action. Apart from the preparation you get “activity without achievement” (as John Wooden would say…)

When we see a team underperform it often causes fans to question the coach. Fans assume that players are actually doing what the coach has told them in the huddle or in practices. Well I can tell you as a coach, as a father, as a minster – “players” are very good at letting instruction come in one ear and out the other. “Players” often feel they have enough understanding on their own to do things their own way. After all a player that is in college basketball has been hearing coaching for maybe 15 years of his life. (Kind of makes them teen ballplayers. Are teens known for ignoring instruction and learning the hard way?)

Basically I want to remind us this week that we are in desperate need of instruction on a daily basis. We need to make God’s Playbook a priority in our lives. Not to just read it but to apply it.

I think back to that FSU/UNC game and the look on the coaches’ faces on the UNC bench. They were looks of frustration, confusion, and downright anger. I was really waiting for the coaches to start laughing at the players and pointing fingers at them. That seems harsh, but isn’t it ridiculous for those players to not listen to and trust their coaches. Were they not getting exactly what they asked for by allowing their pride to cause them to not listen? The fact is the coaches didn’t have to do the laughing and finger pointing; the evidence itself was doing that. There came a point in that game where the coaches simply wanted it to be over – it was past the point of learning and accomplishing anything.

Again as I write to Christians about our walks with the Lord I find it ridiculous that we ignore His instruction. Yes this week and last has brought us descriptions of “ridiculous” and “humiliating.” And the very nature of wisdom herself is laughing and pointing her finger at us. God’s Word stands on its own to implicate us of these things!

In Proverbs 1 we see some very harsh reminders of this:

24 Because I have called and you refused,
I have stretched out my hand and no one regarded,
25 Because you disdained all my counsel,
And would have none of my rebuke,
26 I also will laugh at your calamity;
I will mock when your terror comes,

Don’t ever ignore being in God’s Word or applying it to the “game.”

Monday, January 16, 2012

January 16, 2012 - Up On Our Toes and First To The Floor

On Saturday I watched one of the surprise basketball games of the year. The Florida State Seminoles beat the North Carolina Tar Heels so badly that it led Dick Vitale to call it “humiliating.”
The shock was not so much that FSU won the game but how they did it. Yes the game was in Tallahassee at FSU so UNC had to know it would be a tough match-up. Yes FSU is a very strong defensive team, but not supposed to be able to stop the studs from UNC. If it would have been a good game and FSU had won it would be chalked up to an “upset” but such is life on the road in a major conference.

But remember the word I said the Dickie V used? Humiliating! FSU didn’t just win; they crushed UNC by the score of 90-57. FSU is a team that had themselves been beaten by 20 the game before by Clemson. UNC came in ranked 3rd in the nation and riding a 9-game winning streak. So what happened?

Well from a coach’s perspective I will give a couple things. One, it was simply FSU’s night where they were shooting light’s out and playing with great energy. Second, UNC was simply not ready. As I watched I saw FSU’s guys getting to what seemed like every loose ball – FSU was first to the floor! I watched FSU outrebound UNC in spite of UNC’s height and length. I saw the Tar Heels playing back on their heels while the Seminoles were up on their toes. This was not as much a case of what UNC was doing wrong as much as what UNC wasn’t doing right. So why does this happen.

Carolina had played their last 9 games at home in Chapel Hill. I believe they had become comfortable. I believe they were not ready to face the hostile environment of a road game.

This lack of readiness and energy is what led to the description of “humiliating.” That is the word unfortunately I would use to describe the church.

I think we have played way to many passionate “home games” meeting regularly in the church and when we get into the “road games” we play with no passion and no spiritual energy. I believe we miss opportunities to make a difference in other people’s lives on a daily basis because we would rather just wait and “play at home.” Oh we may invite someone to church but that simply is not enough. To wait to minister in others’ lives is the equivalent of not getting to the loose ball – the enemy is far too often “first to the floor.” It is the equivalent of playing life on our spiritual heels instead of up on our toes. We simply are not ready!

I challenge you to become a servant daily – yes to humble or lower yourself to be “first to the floor.” Make other people a priority in your life. Live (play) life with a passion for Jesus Christ. Be ready to run to an opportunity to serve.

Dickie V went on to say that he used the word “humiliating” because he felt the UNC players had forgotten what it means to wear a jersey that says and represents UNC. I use the word “humiliating” because I think the church in general has forgotten what it means to wear and represent the name of Christ!

Ephesians 2:19 says that we are “fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God.” Do you get that? You and I as believers in Christ are wearing a different jersey and we need to do more than show up for “home games” on Sundays!

We are told to take advantage of – or redeem – the time we have (Ephesians 5:16.) We need to make every day count!

Monday, January 9, 2012

January 9, 2012 - Tebow's Biblical Game

OK, I must be the first to admit that I have often spoken and written about the fact that I do not believe God cares who wins a game of basketball or football or baseball, etc. Back early on in writing the weekly devotions I wrote about a college basketball coach that had guaranteed a win in the national championship game because God had told him they would win. (Their team lost…)
My point in that devotion was to say that God is not in the habit of guiding basketball shots like he did the rocks in David’s sling. What happens if both teams have Christians? What happens when the praying team loses?

Recently there has been a lot of discussion, some very hateful discussion, about Tim Tebow and his success - and at times lack of success - in the NFL. The big discussion and often joke is that God is helping Tim win games – and thus asking what happened to God’s influence when the Broncos lose. One comedian openly and vulgarly mocked not only Tim Tebow but also God. An NFL player was quoted this past weekend as saying that his team did not need God to win games.

I agree with that player. His team is good. It is full of men that have committed to excellence in their craft. If the whole focus is wins and losses in the NFL or any sports league then the reality is that wins and losses come to both the just and the unjust. In this thing we call life there are many non-Christians that win in sports, business, etc. In this thing we call life there are many Christians that lose in sports, business, etc.

Notice the Black/Gold uniform of the opponent
The Philistine Steelers? Israeli Broncos?
The problem is the focus of winning and losing at a temporal thing. Tim Tebow does not claim that God made the Broncos win; yet he fully gives credit and glory to God for allowing him to play the game he loves. As a result of his vocal praise for God, many are left feeling uncomfortable and miss the point all together.

In David’s fight with Goliath the issue was not who God was a fan of in fighting. The issue was a man (Goliath) that was openly mocking the reality and strength of God. Goliath was calling out the army of the living God to the fight – big mistake! No one really gave David a chance in the battle (including those around him that were on his side.) Yet this young, un-tested warrior – in his first battle – rose up and with one mighty throw brought down the giant on the other side of the line! And throughout David gave glory to God!

 Again, I do not think throughout this year that I want to give God credit for the Broncos’ wins (although I will give credit to a godly quarterback’s enthusiasm and work ethic in leading his team.) Yet I must admit that yesterday’s game where this young, untested football warrior – in his first playoff battle – rose up and with one mighty throw brought down the giant on the other side of the line of scrimmage. This is the giant that everyone believed would destroy the broncos. (Wouldn’t it have been cool if they were playing the Giants?)

 I do believe that this whole thing has gone beyond the ridicule/trials of Tim Tebow (that God uses to build strength and character in Tim’s life), to a direct problem of questioning and mocking God Almighty! And as a result, maybe, just maybe, there was some helping in guiding the throw????

 [And this young player, that was known for his John 3:16 tape under his eyes in college, threw for 316 yards on ten completions for a 31.6 yrd average… prompting Fox News to declare it “Tebow’s Biblical Game.” This is a great reminder to the world of God’s love for them!]

And oh yeah, the scripture also says that “God will not be mocked!”

Above Image Source Page: - found via Bing Search

Monday, January 2, 2012

January 2, 2012 - InBounds Breakfast Club

Happy New Year! Did you make any resolutions/commitments? Are you going to get in better shape? Are you going to eat better? Are you ready for the new you?
I am asking this of you spiritually, not physically. Obviously I am not opposed to the physical side yet there are plenty of fitness gurus you can turn to for that. And they will tell you the same stuff: eat right and exercise regularly.

As a spiritual fitness guru I am telling you the same thing: you gotta eat right and exercise regularly! Maybe you could even combine the spiritual and fitness to get a complete workout.

The challenge I am giving you for this year is to be a part of the InBounds Breakfast Club. This is something we do on our ROCK’em Road Trips that I think should carry over to a disciplined daily routine.

Each day we rise to our morning exercise routine that includes: a morning prayer walk; morning physical exercises (i.e. jog, jump rope, etc.); quiet time in God’s Playbook (a healthy spiritual breakfast); a healthy physical breakfast; and then off to a day that will include the spiritual exercise of serving others!

Simply put, we as believers can only grow by “eating” of God’s Word. It is what transforms our minds. (See Romans 12:1-2; Psalm 119) By studying God’s Word and serving others you will see a new you this year!

The Breakfast Club idea is not unique to InBounds Ministries. I first heard about it being done by Michael Jordan and some of his Chicago Bulls teammates during their championship years. I was reminded of it this past weekend by a kid that is playing for the Kentucky Wildcats. He was having a great game against Louisville and the commentators were discussing his work ethic: that he had been holding his own Breakfast Club in the mornings at UK – and that some of his teammates had started joining him.

These examples are guys that are sold out to being the best they can be at basketball. They are sold out to being champions.

Are you sold out to being the best you can be for the Lord? Am I?

 Let’s show some commitment this year. Join me; keep me encouraged; let’s hold each other accountable – to the InBounds Breakfast Club! Let’s start our days off right…

1 Corinthians 9:24 Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may obtain it. 25 And everyone who competes for the prize is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a perishable crown, but we for an imperishable crown. 26 Therefore I run thus: not with uncertainty. Thus I fight: not as one who beats the air. 27 But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified.