Monday, February 27, 2012

February 27, 2012 - Give Up "Dribbling" for Lent...

As a young boy I used to love to go watch the Harlem Globetrotters play basketball. I remember watching Meadowlark Lemon’s hook shots and all the other antics that went on. Yet probably my favorite was watching Marques Haynes or Curly Neal put on dribbling shows…
Now many years down the road and with a totally different understanding of the game I realize fully why the Globetrotters games were called exhibitions. The things that Marques and Curly did were fun to watch but not the practical, most efficient ways to play a game. In fact they would do exactly the opposite of what we teach potential college players. With those kids I emphasize not wasting dribbles – using just what is required to create space and/or to get to the hole!

I taught it so much when I was still a HS coach that at times I would have my teams scrimmage with a “no-dribbling” rule in order to emphasize passing and cutting; to emphasize moving without the ball instead of watching the dribbling show. It is almost as if too much dribbling in game play hypnotizes the player’s teammates…

The point I am making with this is very simple: even something that in and of itself is not wrong or against the rules can be a detriment to achieving one’s goals if done in excess.

In this season of Lent that so many are observing I want to encourage us as believers that it is a good idea to set a time in “practice” that we give up some things to teach us sacrifice and commitment. In this season of Lent I encourage us as believers to be willing to take a good hard look at our lives to determine if there are things that are slowing us down in our goals….

Hebrews 12:2: “lay aside every weight…”

1 Corinthians 9:25: “is temperate in all things…”

I loved watching Marques and Curly, and still do when I see old clips. Their talent is amazing and very entertaining. Yet in the grand scheme of things their routines took place in a very small area and got them no closer to the goal…

Monday, February 20, 2012

February 20, 2012 - Sit Nomine Digna

Last week I wrote about new NBA sensation Jeremy Linn and about a player named Tyler Lewis. These are guys breaking down walls of stereotypes. Jeremy is the first Asian-American NBA player and is breaking numerous records. Tyler is a short white kid from NC that was just named a McDonalds All-American.

Basically last week’s devotion reminded us that we shouldn’t judge a book by its cover… In doing so I reminded us not to pre-judge a person’s interest or lack-there-of on hearing the Gospel; or even worse to not unBiblically pre-judge if a person is worthy of hearing the Gospel.

This week the devotion is to remind us of something that is related to this. We shouldn’t judge a book by its cover; but a book should remember it has a cover and the cover should represent clearly what is inside!

I believe Jeremy Linn has a responsibility to represent Asian-Americans well. I believe Tyler Lewis has a responsibility to represent white teenagers well. I believe young black men and women have a responsibility to represent their race well… and so on.

Asian-American journalist Bryan Chu wrote the following in a recent post: “Funny enough, I remember ending our 2008 interview by telling him that we both needed to represent and that I hoped we’d cross paths in the NBA one day.” (Found on

I love the phrase that they “needed to represent.” I often remind the youth I deal with that they are either feeding stereotypes or breaking down walls. Yet when sharing to the church I want to make sure we all understand our responsibility.

As believers we need to be aware that there are many stereotypes about Christians. Most of these stereotypes are not positive in nature. We truly have a lot of walls to break down. So how do we do this?

It is time to “represent”! The Scripture calls us to be “ambassadors” or representatives for Christ. There are the old adages that “you are the only Jesus some people will ever meet” or the “only Bible some people will ever read.” The term “Christian” literally means a Christ follower – or in other words one that is doing what Christ did.

Does your life represent Christ well? Do people truly see a picture of Christ through you? When they hear you are a Christian then you need to realize you are presenting a “cover” to that “book.”

2 Corinthians 5: 20 Now then, we are ambassadors for Christ

I recently found a great Latin quote for us to live by:

Sit Nomine Digna
May it be worthy of the name…

Monday, February 13, 2012

February 13, 2012 - Can Asian Americans Play Hoops?

As of late I have been reminded over and over of stereotypes that are evident in the sports world.
I have watched this year as a young man I have written about often – Tyler Lewis – continues to fight against, and break down, the stereotype walls. His coach at Oak Hill Academy was quoted on ESPN as saying that Tyler is the only kid that has played for him at Oak Hill that would not be chosen in a pick-up game if you just saw him in the gym. I hear others still trying to claim that he is really not that good – too slow – too short – not athletic enough – or let’s be totally honest with the unsaid issue – too white. Yet this past week Tyler again had an answer for the skeptics as he was named a McDonald’s All American.

Then there is the newest rage of the NBA – Lin-sanity! Jeremy Lin of the New York Knicks is the first Asian American starter in the NBA since they started keeping records of starting line-ups. He not only is starting but set the record for the highest point total in the first 5 games started of any player since the merger of the NBA and ABA. The young man is absolutely playing amazing basketball; and in the process breaking down some barriers. This is a young man that has been buried at the end of the bench and was very close to be cut from the team just last week.

How could a guy that is that talented be buried at the end of a bench? (And he is a guy that 2 summers ago proved he could really play when he went head-to-head with John Wall in a summer league and absolutely wowed the crowd.) Could it be that it was difficult for coaches to see past his appearance? Maybe teammates were struggling to accept him in that role because of underlying stereotypes? Granted no one will admit to this (and many fail to even recognize it exist inside of them.)

I am thrilled for Tyler and Jeremy. I am thrilled for short white guys and Asian American guys all over the world. Yet the stereotypes will continue to exist and walls will continue to stand and need to be knocked down… (And this doesn’t even touch on the stereotypes a young black man has to face…)

So how is this a devotional? Actually it will lead us into 2 devotionals: this week and next.

For this week I want to key on our problems in pre-qualifying who we reach out to. I am always aware of walls that are built up in our Christian world and in our evangelism efforts. We tend to pre-qualify people on whether or not they fit the mold of who would want to hear about Jesus. We tend to pre-qualify if we think someone is worth saving – all while singing “Just As I Am.” We tend to pre-qualify people on whether or not we think they would be interested in speaking to us. We tend to distort the message to what we think someone really needs to hear to fit our model.

Paul dealt with this in the letter to the Galatians. Leaders, including Peter, were distorting the Gospel to try to get the Gentiles to conform to their Jewish model of Christianity. In other words they were adding to the good news to all people (see Luke 2) that is the Gospel. Check out what happened between Paul and Peter:

Galatians 2: 14 But when I saw that they were not straightforward about the truth of the gospel, I said to Peter before them all, “If you, being a Jew, live in the manner of Gentiles and not as the Jews, why do you compel Gentiles to live as Jews? 15 We who are Jews by nature, and not sinners of the Gentiles, 16 knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law but by faith in Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, that we might be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the law; for by the works of the law no flesh shall be justified.

In other words: do not let your evangelistic outreach become one of pre-qualifying someone to fit a mold! What it all comes down to is whether or not an individual is willing to accept the offer of eternal life that is found in the finished work of Jesus Christ!

From the basketball world we see this wisdom from LeBron James when discussing Jeremy Lin. "If he can play, then he can play," James said. "That's all it's about. This game doesn't judge race. It judges your ability to play."

Paul said it this way: Galatians 3: 28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.

This led to part one of the InBounds Ministries mission: InBounds Ministries uses sports to attract a wider audience. Sports tend to be a common denominator of most cultures. Gender doesn't matter. Race doesn't matter. Age doesn't matter. Sports cross those boundaries--as did Jesus--as does the Gospel!

Monday, February 6, 2012

February 6, 2012 - RESPECT find out what it means to me!

One of the common themes that comes up in my discussions about where sports and Christianity collide concerns our testimonies in the sports arena. Many of you have been reading these devotions for years and have often read my philosophy: “Players play; coaches coach; refs ref; fans cheer!” We shouldn’t cross those lines. Of course that is easier said than done…

This past weekend reminded me again of the need to even bring out the idea of simple respect in sport and life. As Americans that have been taught to “have it our way” we tend to be a very demanding people. We tend to be very vocal about our personal rights. Simply put we tend to be very self-centered.

1 Peter 2 tells us the following command in accordance with God’s will… (I guess this is predicated by whether or not you have a desire for God’s will in your life)… 17 Show proper respect to everyone, love the family of believers, fear God, honor the emperor.

Would you agree that sports are a part of life and not exempt from God’s will? Would you agree that this verse seems to indicate that we should be showing respect to those around us?

“Yeah Todd, but it says ‘proper respect.’ I only get upset when the ref is blind as a bat or when the coach is as dumb as a rock. I will give respect when it is earned or warranted.”

We need to be careful with the philosophies we live by. If you go just another verse in 1 Peter you see that this command is not conditional.

18 Slaves, in reverent fear of God submit yourselves to your masters, not only to those who are good and considerate, but also to those who are harsh.

Did you get that? In the player’s Bible it may something like: Players, in reverent fear of God submit yourselves to your coaches, not only to those who are good, but also to those who you think are dumb. Players, in reverent fear of God submit yourselves to the referees, not only to those who are good, but also to those who you think are blind as bats.

I encourage you to read that whole passage. It really gives an incredible perspective of one that honors God by honoring others especially when they don’t deserve it!

I long to see us be different! I long to see us fulfill the following challenge from this passage: 15 For it is God’s will that by doing good you should silence the ignorant talk of foolish people. 16 Live as free people, but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil; live as God’s slaves.

Side note: Respect is such a foreign concept to this society that I was recently at a college game and witnessed a recruit that spent the entire evening with headphones in his ears, even when a coach was with him. I wanted to smack him in the back of the head and tell him to show some respect. To me that was a statement that said to the coach, “I am the center of my universe; you have not earned entrance into my realm.” It was a pathetic but unfortunately accurate picture of our society. I guess I could have done a devotion on the evils of headphones… maybe next week…

Quotes from Scripture are NIV this week...