Monday, July 30, 2012

July 30, 2012 - Pros vs Joes

Ok I am admitting from the start this week that I will be on a little bit of a rant… I will write about things I have written about before (and will again I am sure.) I am writing about things that were present in my message yesterday as I shared with a church about the concept of missions.
The church was winding down a series entitled “Go” in reference to the call to missions. And as I typically do, I had to step in and rock the boat a little bit. My conclusion while preparing for my message was one that I come back to over and over: the title should be “Going” in order to be Biblical.

In a nutshell I reminded the church that all believers are “called” to share the Gospel (Mt. 28:18-20 / Mk. 16:15) and that all believers are “Ambassadors” for Christ. I simply stated that we have made excuses for far too long for not sharing the Gospel as we are “going” through our lives.

The church is partially to blame. Leadership began at some point in our history telling their congregations that their job was to invite people to church instead of leading people to Christ. Maybe it was because they thought the pressures of life were so great that the Gospel needed professionals to help face the adversary. (Or maybe it just helped fill pews with more butts…)

Basically we viewed evangelism like the powers-that-be viewed the Olympics back in 1992 when they decided that we needed to use professionals in order to be able to win at basketball.

The Olympic powers had the right idea. Basketball is based upon the players’ abilities and athleticism, and quite frankly the world was catching up in hoops in both categories to the point that it was difficult for our college players to compete. In today’s hoops world many of the international squads boast multiple NBA players. (And I personally still love to watch our pros put a whipping on the other countries’ teams.)

Yet the error of church leadership is in ever thinking that evangelism is based upon the abilities or strengths of the “players.” The power of evangelism is found solely in the message of the Gospel itself. (See Romans 1:16)

Church Team, it is time to fulfill our duty to be missionaries in this world. As a believer your mission trip began at the point you trusted Christ as Savior. It is time to stop letting the “pros” take our place. It is time for action! Even the “average Joe” is called and will be used by God. (Remember that Christ’s Dream Team of Apostles were not anything special – just average Joes.)

1 Thessalonians 2: 4 But as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, even so we speak, not as pleasing men, but God who tests our hearts.

Share John 3:16!

Share Romans 3:23, 5:8, and 6:23!

Share Ephesians 2:8-9!

There is power in those verses!!!!!!!!

Monday, July 23, 2012

July 23, 2012 - And1!

The past 10 days we spent on the road on one of our ROCK’em Road Trips. These trips are great for training/discipling young men both on and off the court. Therefore we spend a lot of time discussing the hard work and effort it takes to be successful in games; and the effort it takes to be successful in life…

Clay - And1!

Our theme verse this past week was Proverbs 14:23. In essence it says that talk is cheap and that action is what we want to see. The title of our trip was: “The Show-Me Trip” (we travelled to Missouri.)

During one of the last days I had asked the guys to clean up our living space (we had camped out all week inside the youth bldg. at our host church.) As I went through to inspect I still saw some things that were not taken care of. When I mentioned it in front of one of the players he responded by saying “I took care of my stuff; that wasn’t mine.”

Another area we had been emphasizing was the idea of being a TEAM. In fact last week I wrote about that. I quickly reminded the player that we were in this thing together and sometimes have to pick up the slack where another has faltered.

A strong team does have every member taking care of his own business; yet also seeing where he can help out the team. I quickly told my assistant coach that we needed to talk to the guys in the van about this and we called it our And1 ministry. (We take care of ourselves and look for a place to help.)

Why the And1 idea? Simply put And1 was started based off of the streetball culture where basically they determined you gotta put up or shut up! (Sounds like Proverbs 14:23) In fact their logo, The Player, is based off the idea that if you talk you better be able to back it up.

The church has spent far too much time talking a big game. We discuss how we should be servants. We discuss how Christ humbled Himself and is an example to us. We show up at “practice” (church) and then fail to take it to the streets and back it up.

It is time to get a little “Spiritual Swagger” and not just talk the talk but also walk the walk! It is time that we look out not only for our own interests but also the interests of others. (Check Philippians 2)

When I was still lacing up the sneakers to play I loved playing a power game. I loved to absorb some contact, make the shot, and declare “And1!”

Now I want to live my life and be willing to absorb some contact (hardships) and still declare “And1!” I want to make it a point to daily look for someone else to serve! I want to finish strong!

Monday, July 16, 2012

July 16, 2012 - Favortism

Being the child of a coach can be rough. I remember hearing people say that I was only starting in baseball because my dad was the coach. I have often heard people claim favoritism when coaches’ kids start in front of their kids.

There are benefits to being a coach’s kid. The player should get a better understanding of the game. The player can talk with the coach on a regular basis to see what the coach wants or what the coach sees in him or her. Yet favoritism on playing time should not be one of the benefits.

I do often see this improper benefit in the case of travel sports. Often the travel team is put together to provide an arena for a coach’s kid to get to play. And far too often there are kids that are on the same team, working just as harder or maybe even harder, and they are relegated to being bench players or to play out of position so the coach’s kid can shine…

In a similar fashion there are some that teach or think that as children of God we should get favoritism. Although I agree that we have God’s favor on our lives, I don’t see promises that we, as believers, are immune to the heartaches and discomforts of the game of life. In fact I see that we tend to face all the same struggles of illness, pain, suffering hardship, etc. And God doesn’t always choose to fix the problem. He often just asks us to trust and rest in Him. He wants us during these times,  “being the Coach’s child,” to “get a better understanding of the game” and  to take advantage of “getting to talk with the Coach on a regular basis to see what the Coach wants  or what the Coach sees.”

We have the promise that God will be a refuge or a hiding place. We see the promise of comfort in the midst of troubles. (We see the promise that there will be struggles.)

I believe one of the greatest witnesses we have is a life that is resting in this hope in spite of what the world/circumstances bring.  We, as believers, are children of God. We do have His favor.

Read Psalm 46 this week!

Monday, July 9, 2012

July 9, 2012 - True Teamwork

As I prepare for our next road trip in our ministry, I am looking at the best ways in which I can implement the idea of TEAM. I know we have all heard the phrases such as “Together Everyone Achieves More” and “There is no ‘I’ in team.” Yet as a response I have also heard people say, “Yes but there is an ‘I’ in win”…

There are valid points to each of these ideas. I know the “I” comment sounds very brash but the truth is “the best way to improve the team is to improve yourself.” (Coach John Wooden) There is personal responsibility that each player bears…

Yet the idea of TEAM carries more than just sharing the court. It involves Talking, Encouraging each other, Asking each other questions to get to know each other’s goals and desires, and then Motivating each other to fulfill those dreams!

The truth is that great players surround themselves with other great players that are going to push them and motivate them to get better. I just read about Kevin Love’s frustration that his team is not doing well. He said, “I'm a big proponent of greatness surrounding itself with greatness…”

People slammed the Heat for doing that with their “Big 3”, yet I challenge you to look at past champions and you will see teams stacked with greatness – great players surrounded by great players… Now please note that at the professional level of athletics every player is great in skill set; yet there are those that go beyond skill set and find a way to bring out the best in teammates.

Biblically speaking we are commanded over and over to surround ourselves with wise people; commanded to have iron sharpen iron; told that bad company corrupts good morals; etc.

Who are you surrounding yourself with? Do you have people dedicated to your growth? Are they dedicated to victory? Are you encouraging / motivating others?

Going to church and small groups simply means that you are sharing the same court… Are you actually TEAM-oriented? Are you taking time to Talk, Encourage, Ask, and Motivate?

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Prayer/Financial Request

Hello Team, I hope this entry finds you doing well...

This is coming a day before our regular weekly devotion (and I fully plan to write and post that tomorrow.) Yet in the title line of the blog it mentions that we will post prayer needs, etc.

I have just returned from 3 weeks away for ministry. It was an incredible time as we saw multiple people trust Christ as their Substitute (Savior.) There were many youth and also adults responding to God's gift of grace that is obtained by faith! Those weeks allowed me to see people in Florida, Honduras, and Georgia. And upon my return had the joy of preaching at a church here in NC and seeing people respond. God's grace is amazing!

Now we are prepping to hit the road again this coming Friday for 10 days in St Louis Mo and also a stop in Evansville IN. I have youth and adults hitting the road with me as we will be conducting basketball clinics and sharing in services. We would appreciate your prayers for travel mercies, for the hearts of those we will minister to, and for growth in those that travel with me.

We are also at a time of crisis in the ministry. We spend each month being amazed how God has supplied needs when it didn't seem possible. For 5 years Lisa and I have been full-time missionaries and able to stay afloat without being behind on bills (and we don't even own a credit card.)

Yet we also see that God works through His people! And in order for His people to help, they need to know of the needs.

This month brings us some out of the ordinary needs. Not only are we short on paying salary, but we also need the ministry van serviced and repaired, van insurance is due, I had to buy some more basketballs as the past two trips wiped us out, we have a couple kids that need scholarship $ toward their trip to St Louis, my computer has problems, etc...

On top of this we are hitting needs in our personal lives that have gone beyond the norm. Our 2 personal vehicles are both in need of major repair, our central air is out (of course in the hottest July here in 70 years), and many other things. (Although that has nothing to do with the financial plea - just seems par for the course.)

I realize trials make us stronger and honestly don't mind sweating a little bit. Yet the bank expects bills to be paid and I obviously must have the ministry van in great working order before taking people on the road.

We are simply trying to remain faithful to God's call on our lives. Tomorrow I will post a devotion like we have every Monday since the first Monday of 2002; we continue to take the Gospel to as many places as possible; we weekly meet with youth here in our local area; we keep on keeping on...

We have some that faithfully support this work, yet need much more. Tonight I type this update with hesitancy - I hate begging for money. Yet God commands His people to support His work, and I am sure we are doing His work.

Bottom line is that the ministry immediately needs $5,000 just to get through this abnormal month. Will you be a part of God's miraculous work He is doing in InBounds Ministries?

If you are able to help would you send me an email and let me know? Trying to get things figured out before we hit the road this Friday... Thanks and even if you cannot financially help, please pray!!!!!

Monday, July 2, 2012

July 2, 2012 - "1st and Ten..."

Recently my oldest son, Clay, was conducting a personal basketball training session for a young boy. The session went very well and the boy’s dad told Clay he would like for him to train his son 3 times a week. At first thought that meant Clay would be able to pull in more $; yet I was proud of Clay when I heard how he responded to the man. He told him that personal training should be to equip the player with ways to put in individual workouts. It should be the catalyst to personal work ethic. Basically Clay told him that he shouldn’t have to pay a trainer 3 times a week; that if the boy needed 3 sessions a week it is probably an indicator of lack of interest to get better on his own…

The man was thankful for Clay’s response and has hired him to train his son. The get-rich-quick mindset of most would think that Clay is crazy and that he should have taken as much money and as many sessions as possible. Yet long term what is best for the boy in this picture? And ultimately what is the best scenario for Clay in building long-term clients?

I thought about this as I read a Facebook post earlier this morning. It was from my friend Carl Batteiger in Indiana. It read as follows: “Driving in this morning and noticed how the corn fields looked as parched and dry as they did yesterday, the little bit of rain brought nothing more than surface relief...then was thinking that is how it is with a good portion of us as followers of Jesus, we come in for an hour or so on Sunday, dry, parched and starving for spiritual water and food. As great as some of our services are on Sunday, that little sprinkling is not much more then surface relief, inside we are still, dry, parched and starving...Just a thought....
I grew up around churches that had multiple mandatory meetings throughout the week. It seemed like they wanted you there every moment possible. Now in the modern times it is more common to have just one weekly service and maybe throw in a life group in the week.

Either approach I feel is missing the mark. Just as in Clay’s scenario, there should be some personal responsibility in believers to get time in the Word. Yet only one time a week in the Word is not enough – (thank you Carl for that reminder on Facebook…)

The Scriptures call for us to meditate on the Word. They call for us to “study to show ourselves approved” and to “rightly divide the Word.” (I am not giving you the references – go find these thoughts on your own – take some personal initiative…)

Simply put you and I need to eat more than once a week. We need to study the Word. We need to allow the Word to “transform us by the renewing of our minds.”

Have you had time with the Lord this morning? Will you have time with Him (and for Him) tomorrow? The next day?...

Camp Grace - each morning before breakfast
I challenge you this week in a way that my great friend Freddie Coile challenged campers this past week at Camp Grace. Start each day “1st and 10” with God- first thing in the morning take 10 minutes in prayer and the Word. It is a simple start of the day that will change the way you look at things. (And by the way, Jesus started His days off with the Father – if you study the Word you will find that too…)