Monday, March 26, 2012

March 26, 2012 - Be a Hero!

Here we are in the midst of March Madness; the Big Dance is down to the Final Four. It is an incredibly exciting time. There have been the upsets and the expected blowouts. There have been teams that have played up to expectations and those that failed to do so.

Yet I think there is another reality that shows up during March Madness. During these incredibly intense, high-adrenaline games there is usually a player that steps to the forefront and let’s his team know that he will be the one to take them to victory. (It reminds me of the scene in Hoosiers where Jimmy looks at the coach and simply says, “I’ll make the shot.”)

I believe that every championship team needs that player that when other things are going poorly will still step and say, “Give me the ball!” Every team needs that player that will want to shoot the game-winning free throws or take that last second three… Every team needs a hero!
As I was preaching yesterday I referred to the Word of God as a mirror. I asked what a mirror is for and the obvious response was to check and make adjustments. The Word of God says that it is useful as such. James 1:23 talks about the man that looks into the “mirror” and walks away unchanged. It says that man is “deceiving” himself and will not be blessed.

The unfortunate reality is that we hear and see the amazing needs that are present in our world; we hear the Biblical pleas to be the one to make a difference. And instead of looking at ourselves in the mirror, we look over our shoulders and try to analyze everyone else. We see needs and ask why the church is not doing something about it, forgetting we are the church.

When a hero steps up to hit the winning shot in a game, who wins? The team wins! The hero was just doing his part!

I recently heard Rick Warren share a story of a lady that had helped someone that was down on his luck. She then talked to Pastor Warren and said, “I think the church should do something to help folks like this.” Pastor Warren responded by reminding her that the church did do something…

I gave this deep philosophy: “If you know someone that is hungry, feed him!”

In other words take the shot – be the hero! Can the team count on you to represent Christ by serving others? Will you be the one?

1 John 3:17 But whoever has this world’s goods, and sees his brother in need, and shuts up his heart from him, how does the love of God abide in him?

Or in the paraphrase from the Message Bible: If you see some brother or sister in need and have the means to do something about it but turn a cold shoulder and do nothing, what happens to God's love? It disappears. And you made it disappear.”

Proverbs 29: 7 The righteous considers the cause of the poor,
But the wicked does not understand such knowledge.

Monday, March 19, 2012

March 19, 2012 - One Shining Moment?

Well it is time to give my opinion on March Madness; the first 2 rounds are complete and we are down to the Sweet 16. It has been an exciting weekend of hoops and for some a heartbreaking weekend of hoops. Some of the favorites have shown their dominance and some have fallen by the wayside. Some of the lower seeds have shown why they were lower seeds, while others have shocked the hoops world.
Personally I thought I was doing well on my predictions the first day of the tourney. Then it all started to unravel. Day 2 brought some of the big upsets that very few people anticipated and many tourney brackets fell victim.

So how do you go about making predictions for the tourney? Why are some teams seeded higher than others? There are many thoughts that go into all of this and we see every year that even the smartest analyst cannot predict all the games accurately.

In fact I will go a step farther and make this claim: Very seldom does the best team in college basketball win the tourney… but the seeding is usually very accurate.

If you look back over the years of the tourney: only once has all four number 1 seeds been in the Final Four; only once has an overall number 1 seed won the title (they just began giving an overall seeding in 2004); never has a 16-seed beaten a 1 seed… and so on.

What the rankings/seedings do is give us a pretty good picture of consistency of teams; yet in a one-and-done format like this tournament there will be many upsets.

All of that to get to this week’s point. I believe the teams that win their conferences (especially the major conferences) have proven to be more successful than the team that wins the tourney. Winning the conference shows a steady consistency throughout the year. In sports we rely heavily on averages – the overall season shows the average of how a team plays. In the tourney a team that is not as good can have a great night while the stronger team struggles and an upset happens.

This year we had (2) “#15”-seeds beat “#2”-seeds. If you take those teams and play them in a series against one another, the higher seed will probably win 8 or 9 out of every 10 games. But the tourney is called March Madness for a reason – there is “madness.” Although the losses for the “#2”-seeds are devastating and heartbreaking, they do not diminish very successful seasons for those squads.

Coaches will often say, “we want to be playing our best basketball in March.” That is a solid goal; we should want to be getting better as the season progresses. Yet I don’t think it means the games in November are meaningless. The goal should be daily playing our best; success is realizing that our “best” should be ever-changing, growing.

In our Christian lives I would say it this way: Be your best today! Yes I hope we all keep growing, but our goal should be consistency, faithfulness, our “best” for the Lord today in everything we do! There will be times we stumble, but that should not cause us to forget or ignore a life of faithfulness.

Philippians 3:14 tells us to “press on” – a picture of faithfulness. Colossians 3:17 and 23 tells us to do everything in our lives as “unto the Lord.”

Proverbs 20: 6 Most men will proclaim each his own goodness,
But who can find a faithful man? 7 The righteous man walks in his integrity;
His children are blessed after him.

 In March Madness the goal according to all of the promotions is that “one shining moment.” Don’t allow that to be the way we view success in our lives.

All of that to say, I am not as concerned in our lives with individual moments of glory and greatness as I am with lives of faithfulness!

Monday, March 12, 2012

March 12, 2012 - The Wisdom of Fundamentals

Recently I was in a mtg. discussing the present campaign a church is doing. They are in the midst of Saddleback’s 40 Days in the Word, which is a program designed for combatting Biblical illiteracy in the church. The gentlemen I was speaking with were stating that some people thought the campaign was “watered down” and “too elementary.”
My response was that the intent was to be “elementary.” Often times in life we have to get back to the basics, the fundamentals. When coaching I said it this way, “Fundamentals are the anchor that will hold in the storm.”

I was so set on this that I started every year with the most basic of fundamental drills. I treated every team as though we needed to start over from the ground up. (Of course some guys like John Wooden had similar ideas…)

Was there murmuring amongst the players? - Of course, every year. They wanted to get moving; they wanted to scrimmage. Yet if I believed what I was saying that these fundamentals are foundational to everything else, then we needed get back to them… And the amazing thing was that once we got back into the fundamentals there was always a lot of correcting that needed to take place where players were too loose with the ball, improper footwork, bad habits shooting, etc.

One of the things I have loved in the 40 Days campaign is the reminder that God is in the business of revealing Himself in Scripture, not concealing Himself. We make things way too difficult in our approach. It is time to get back to the basics.

Pastor Warren started one of his messages with the reminder that we need to “build on” the Word of God in our lives – It is intended to be our foundation. Often times, especially those of us that are “veteran” players, we feel like we’ve got it all down.

Jesus said it this way in Matthew 7: 24 “Therefore whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock:

The Psalmist said it this way in Psalm 119: 20What I want most of all and at all times is to honor your laws.

I love that verse (and the way Rick Warren described it: What I want most is the be a man of the Word!)

Side note: remember my quote about the fundamentals being the anchor for the storm? When Jesus talked about the “wise man…house…built on the rock”, He followed with thefollowing reminder:

Matthew 7: 25 and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it did not fall, for it was founded on the rock.

You, and I, will face storms! The question is will we stand?

Monday, March 5, 2012

March 5, 2012 - March Madness

Hello sports fans, it is officially time for March Madness! This is the most insane and intense journey basketball fans go on. When it gets to actual tourney time every game becomes a single-elimination, win or go home game. It is a time where fans show their deep devotion and commitment to teams. It is “Madness”!

So who will you be rooting for? Will you paint your face for games? Will you make sure to wear your teams’ jersey or hoodie on game day? Will you travel and pay to see them play? Will you find yourself tensed up on game days? Will you let those around you know who you are rooting for? Will you show your fanatical madness?

Yes hoops fans love March Madness – and that includes me. I often jokingly state that “it’s the most wonderful time of the year.” (And I can get away with it since it leads into Easter and celebrating the resurrection…)

I recently shared in our ministry’s spring newsletter (if you want a copy shoot me a message) that “I am MAD!” No I do not mean angry; I mean I am madly in love with my Savior! I am madly in love with His Word! It changes the way I live life. I want people to know whose side I am on. I don’t want there to be any question as to where my allegiance lies. I long to be fanatical about Jesus!

Deuteronomy 6:5 tells us to “love the Lord our God with all of heart, with all of our soul, and with all of our strength!” That indicated a love that changes us. This is a love that drives us to the point of “MADness.”

MAD: Making A Difference!

Is your love for Christ making a difference in your life? Is it causing you to make a difference in the lives of others?

Colossians 3:17 reminds us that everything we do should be "in the name of the Lord" – for His glory – for His honor! Think about that… Christ is supposed to be influencing your day in every way!

Join with me (InBounds Ministries) this month as we set on a journey of Madness: one where we truly strive to “Make A Difference!