Monday, April 30, 2012

April 30, 2012 - Spotters (Better to be wise than strong...)

Last week we drew reference to “caution flags” in our lives – to using God’s Word for daily direction. I hope you are regularly spending time in the Word. Yet in the busy-ness of our lives, we also need something else – trusted advisers! In keeping with the racing theme, these would be our “spotters.”

Think about the racing analogy. The caution flag goes up following an accident or when there is debris on the raceway that could create danger. Yet when the accident happens right in front of a driver, he doesn’t have the luxury of a caution flag to slow him down. This is where he relies on his spotter – the guy that has not only a birds-eye view of the track, but also is trusted as one that can quickly and accurately give direction. The spotter is not only useful during emergencies but also in seeing upcoming traffic during open racing.

Isn’t life similar to this? There are those times that stuff happens that you simply did not see coming. It is nice when we have a picture of what is ahead.

Do you have a person (or persons) in your life that you truly trust to give you a clear picture of life’s road ahead of you? To me that is the definition of discipleship: having someone that can give you clear direction on where you “drive” in life.

So this week is simply a reminder that you have a limited view of the “track” when left to yourself. You need a “spotter” in your life.

Proverbs has a lot to say about this:

1:5 A wise man will hear and increase learning, And a man of understanding will attain wise counsel,

11:14 Where there is no counsel, the people fall; But in the multitude of counselors there is safety.

15:22 Without counsel, plans go awry, But in the multitude of counselors they are established.

19:20 Listen to counsel and receive instruction, That you may be wise in your latter days.

20:18 Plans are established by counsel; By wise counsel wage war.

24:5-6 (The Message) It's better to be wise than strong; intelligence outranks muscle any day. Strategic planning is the key to warfare; to win, you need a lot of good counsel.

Monday, April 23, 2012

April 23, 2012 - Caution Flags

Recently I have been running into a common theme in teaching youth (and in our family devotions.) It is one that encourages us over and over to grow in our knowledge and discernment. (See Philippians 1:9) As you see this verse you will see that this is the prayer Paul had for the Philippians, and is very similar to the prayers recorded in the other church letters. We are urged to get to know God (through His Word) so that we may be able to discern things…

Discernment is a word that means to perceive, detect, recognize, etc. The question becomes, “what does God want me to recognize through His Word?”

Philippians 1:10-11 gives us a big part of the answer: 10 that you may approve the things that are excellent, that you may be sincere and without offense till the day of Christ, 11 being filled with the fruits of righteousness which are by Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.

The Scriptures give us the map to a life of excellence. They give us the guidelines to living a life pleasing to God. They give us warning when we may go astray.

As I sat in church yesterday I loved hearing some great sports analogies. The pastor was talking about indicators in our lives that we need our “spiritual batteries charged.” He talked about the need to watch out for the “yellow caution flag” in a race. It tells us to slow down and be careful because danger is ahead. It tells us that now would be a good time to take a pit stop and make sure everything is in order.

Allow the Scriptures to daily give you direction. Watch for the caution flags they throw in your life. Use them to not only learn what is right, but to also help you avoid what is wrong.

Lamentations 3: 40Let's take a good look at the way we're living and reorder our lives under God. (The Message)

Sunday, April 15, 2012

April 16, 2012 - Believe the Hype!

This past weekend I took in the Jordan Brand Classic on ESPN. This game pits many of the top high school senior boys in an East vs. West battle. The game comes with a lot of fanfare and hoopla.And I must admit I was anxious to see it.

Although I did enjoy seeing a few of the guys (especially NC State signee Rodney Purvis), for the most part I was very underwhelmed. The shooting was horrendous from the field and from the line; and the ball handling was very sloppy. I know - I know it was an all-star game; one shouldn’t expect strong defense or great teamwork. Problem is that the guys did seem to care on defense and the result was a lot of turnovers. The players seemed to be there because they are phenomenal athletes and not because they are greatly skilled players. I still haven’t found an actual box score to check percentages but they had to be very, very low (only some open floor dunks could have pulled them up a bit.)

I realize that part of feeling “underwhelmed” is because I had such high expectations for the game. And I know these guys have had incredible high school careers. Yet when there is so much hype it is hard to live up to it.

No great lesson here this week other than a simple reminder: Jesus meets the hype! He lived a life of perfection and turned the world upside down! He meets all the requirements to be our Messiah. He meets all the requirements to be our King. He meets all the requirements to be our Counselor. I challenge you to find any other figure in history with so many good things written about him.

I know men and I tell you that Jesus Christ is no mere man. Between Him and every other person in the world there is no possible term of comparison. Alexander, Caesar, Charlemagne, and myself founded empires; but what foundation did we rest the creations of our genius? Upon force. Jesus Christ founded an empire upon love; and at this hour millions of men would die for Him. -- Napoleon Bonaparte

A man who was completely innocent, offered himself as a sacrifice for the good of others, including his enemies, and became the ransom of the world. It was a perfect act.  --Mahatma Gandhi

I am an historian, I am not a believer, but I must confess as a historian that this penniless preacher from Nazareth is irrevocably the very center of history. Jesus Christ is easily the most dominant figure in all history. --H.G. Wells

There is something so pure and frank and noble about Him that to doubt His sincerity would be like doubting the brightness of the sun. -- Charles Edward Jefferson

Isaiah 9:6 For unto us a Child is born, Unto us a Son is given; And the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

John 1:36 And looking at Jesus as He walked, he said, “Behold the Lamb of God!”

John 14:6 Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.

When it comes to Jesus: Believe the hype!!!!!!!!!!

Monday, April 9, 2012

April 9, 2012 - A week of big decisions...

It is a big week of decisions in the basketball world.
There is news of some of the undeclared high school stars announcing where they will commit for college. There is also the final decisions being made by college players that are underclassmen on whether or not they will declare to go early in the NBA draft.

As for the high school guys, it will not surprise me if the main guys each choose the University of Kentucky. Although there are many major universities in the mix for these young men’s talents, UK has established a history of winning and of sending players to the NBA. And as one reporter mentioned, by winning the national championship this year UK’s Coach Calipari made his final recruiting pitch to these players…

Year in and year out UK has the top (or one of the top recruiting classes) in the country. Bottom line is that players are swayed by the idea of winning and the idea of being ready to go into the NBA.

As for the guys that are already in college and deciding if they want to declare early for the NBA, they have a different process of deciding. They are allowed to get an assessment from the NBA that projects where, or if, they will be selected in the draft. There are no guarantees from this assessment but it intends to let them know their basic status for the draft. Upon getting these assessments players have to decide if they will take the risk and leave school or play another year or two to improve their status.

In Christianity I think we have missed the need to “play the game of life” with the goal of making God famous. Others should see the greatness of God through our lives. As people make decisions on their future (and ultimately their eternity) they should see that God’s team is the winning team. They should see a joy, a peace, and a hope in us that sets God apart. They should see a love in us that sets Christians apart.  They should look at us and think, “I want some of that!” [The resurrection we celebrated yesterday is the crowning moment – the international championship – the “shining moment” – Christ wins! Christ wins! Christ wins!]

There is something to learn from those getting assessments on their futures in the NBA. They check to see if they are good enough. When it comes to assessing the “draft” for God and if we are good enough, the resounding answer for all of us is “NO!” Religions spend a lot of sincere, yet incorrect, efforts on trying to be good enough to earn God’s favor. The beauty of our message (especially being reminded of this during this Easter season) is that we have a Substitute in Jesus Christ. Those of us that have trusted in His finished work understand that we are seen with Christ’s righteousness and that He took our sin! What an amazing truth to share with those that want to determine if they are “good enough.”

All of that this week to remind us of two things:

1.       Our lives as Christians should shine the spotlight on God’s greatness.
2.       Our lives as Christians should include giving an honest assessment to those willing to hear the good news of the Substitute!
1 Chronicles 16: 8 Oh, give thanks to the Lord!
Call upon His name;
Make known His deeds among the peoples!
9 Sing to Him, sing psalms to Him;
Talk of all His wondrous works!
10 Glory in His holy name;
Let the hearts of those rejoice who seek the Lord!
11 Seek the Lord and His strength;
Seek His face evermore!
12 Remember His marvelous works which He has done,
His wonders, and the judgments of His mouth,
13 O seed of Israel His servant,
You children of Jacob, His chosen ones!

Monday, April 2, 2012

April 2, 2012 - Straight Line Cuts

This past weekend we hosted basketball clinician Jason Otter. We have hosted him many times before, yet it never gets old seeing his incredible work ethic and drive to be his best. It never gets old hearing him teach the importance of efficiency of movement.

In the past we have keyed on some of that teaching as we looked in depth at Hebrews 12:1’s call to “lay aside every weight.” In other words eliminate things that slow you down. As an athlete Jason teaches to eliminate “false steps”, (the little step players take backwards to get momentum going forward.) These steps are not illegal, they simply take more time than having the first step be in a forward direction… In your life are there things that are slowing you down? Note that I am not asking about the sin in your life that is “illegal.” I am simply saying we could all afford to take inventory and see what things are keeping us from being all God intended for us to be.

This week I want to quickly key on the next component Jason hits hard – making straight line moves. In other words, get to you destination as quickly as possible. (And the quickest distance between two points is a straight line.)

We won’t go into all of the basketball usage of this teaching but instead get “straight” to the spiritual application. Many of us spend too much time going the long way to our destination. We get easily distracted. Often it is because even though we know the Lord wants us to do something, we also know the potential dangers and disappointments. Therefore, we don’t want to be disobedient but are willing to be slow in getting there…

When Ananias was told by the Lord to go and visit Saul of Tarsus it scared him. Saul’s reputation was one of persecuting the Saints. Yet God consoles Ananias and reminds Ananias that He (God) is in control… Once Ananias had that assurance he immediately went and did what the Lord said to do.

How many of us when faced with uncomfortable circumstances would go to do what the Lord said, but not be in a rush to get there. We tend to meander around the “streets” on the way to those situations.

How do I know that Ananias immediately went to visit Saul? It is because I know what route he took to get there. He made a “straight line cut” on the “street called Straight.” (Acts 9:11) [This street ran straight through Damascus from one end to the other.]

What has God called you to do? Where is He leading you? I can promise you He is in control. And I urge you to stop meandering and get there! We need Straight-line Obedience – not Meandering-delayed Obedience!