Monday, December 31, 2012

December 31, 2012 - Smaller, Weaker, and Slower

OK Athletes, it is New Year’s Eve and the typical time for resolutions… What will you focus on for the coming year? Are you going to get bigger, stronger, and faster? I hope you do. Yet I hope so much more…

I also hope that you are going to get smaller, weaker, and slower!

Smaller: I pray you will follow the Biblical mandate to have Jesus increase and you decrease. (John 3:30) I pray you will humble yourself in the sight of the Lord. (James 4:10)

Weaker: I pray that you realize it is not your strength that brings about results but instead relying on the Lord. (Zechariah 4:6; 2 Corinthiams 12:10)

Slower: I pray you will be slower to speak and slower to anger; instead being patient and kind with others this year. (James 1:19) I pray that you will slower to think about yourself and quicker to consider others’ needs. (Philippians 2:3)

Although there are benefits in your personal resolutions for improvement, I am calling us out to focus on others this coming year. As members of God’s team we need to be resolved to living according to the Playbook!

Stay clear of silly stories that get dressed up as religion. Exercise daily in God—no spiritual flabbiness, please! Workouts in the gymnasium are useful, but a disciplined life in God is far more so, making you fit both today and forever. You can count on this. Take it to heart.
(1 Timothy 4:7-9 – The Message)

Monday, December 24, 2012

December 24, 2012 - Amazing!

As I sit here on the eve of CHRISTmas I can’t help but be honest about how messed up and commercialized the holiday has become. I know some are reading this and saying “Preach it, Coach!” Yet I am confessing to my own “mess” in how I approach it…

Don’t get me wrong, I love when I get to write about it, preach about it, sing about it, etc. Yet when it all boils down I find myself getting more excited about seeing the kids open presents, or in full honesty, watching the Thunder-Heat game tomorrow… (I even looked up prices for tickets since in am near Miami right now – and considered squandering money that came in to me for CHRISTmas… - then was snapped back to reality when I saw the prices for the game.)

The fact is that if there is an amazing play during that game I will be quick to tell people about it. If LeBron or D-Wade or KD go off and show their amazing skills I will be quick to discuss how amazing they are. (I couldn’t wait to post pictures of my own son dunking a silly basketball today…)

Following the birth of Christ the shepherds were introduced to Him and immediately went to tell people the message that was told to them; then we see later in Luke chapter 2 that after meeting Christ the prophetess Anna told everyone that sought redemption about Him…

Very simple and to the point today; I know we are all busy… Do you think Christ is amazing? Amazing
enough to tell people about Him? Let’s give the gift of Christ to people this year!!!!!!!

If you are reading this and have not personally met Christ, I have good news for you – God is offering
you the greatest gift ever this CHRISTmas – Jesus as your personal Savior!!!! Look 2 tells about His birth;
John 3:16 tells ultimately why He was born – to be a gift to you! Jesus died on a cross to pay for your sin;
He rose again three days later to offer you eternal life. It is a gift! You read it there in John 3:16! How do
you get a gift? You receive it! Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and be saved!

Monday, December 17, 2012

December 17, 2012 - Openings and Opportunities

You gotta love those moments in sports when the unexpected hero emerges…

Whether it is the back-up quarterback that throws a winning touchdown, a pinch hitter that hits a home run, or the kid off the bench that hits the winning shot… we all love the storyline when a player seizes his opportunity.

This past weekend I watched as a player from Butler University hit a game winner in overtime over the #1 ranked Indiana Hoosiers. It was a great game to watch with many swings in momentum and big name players rising to the occasion. Indiana’s star player Cody Zeller was not having a great game but established his presence late, getting to the line, and recording 18 points. Butler’s star guard, Rotnei Clark, was held in check in the first half but ended up with 19 points including many deep threes that helped swing momentum back to Butler. Indiana’s Victor Oladipo also chipped in 18 points with some incredibly athletic moves and I thought played tremendous defense on Butler’s Clark… In other words the players that were expected to play well all had their moments to shine.

But in overtime, with the score tied late, Butler’s guard Alex Barlow found himself with an opening and an opportunity to be the hero... and he cashed in. Barlow hit a floater in the lane to give Butler the upset victory. ESPN called him the “unlikeliest player on the floor” to make the “biggest shot of the game.”

The beauty of the storyline is that Barlow is a walk-on that turned down scholarship offers in baseball so he could learn to be a basketball coach through Coach Stevens. Now he is the BMOC (big man on campus) and his life is changed forever.

This idea of being unlikely applies as well to the first “evangelists” that came on the scene following the birth of Christ – the Savior. God chose to have His messenger announce the birth, not in the royal courts or among the religious folks, but instead to the shepherds (low-class outcasts in society.) And once they met the Savior they immediately went and told others what they had been told…

They did not stop to ask if they deserved to be spokespeople for God. They didn’t stop to find a more worthy person to spread the good news. These unlikely representatives found themselves with an opportunity and an opening to make take the big shot and they did… The result: the people that heard this message from them “marveled” at it…  and the shepherds lives were changed forever. (See Luke 2:8-20)

How about you? If you had heard the message and met the Savior, you should be looking for openings and seizing opportunities to repeat the message (this CHRISTmas and throughout the year.)

The message: Luke 2: 10 Then the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. 11 For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.

It truly is good tidings (news) and God has chosen you (and me) to be His messengers…

Monday, December 10, 2012

December 10, 2012 - Giving 110%

This week left me with thoughts concerning effort – how much one gives…

Often we hear athletes/coaches say they want to give/see 110%. It seems to be an impossible goal since one cannot give more than he has…

Coach John Wooden said it this way, “You can only give what you have and you only have 100%. No one is an overachiever. We are all underachievers to a different extent. I prefer to judge individuals on how close they come to 100%, knowing that no one can ever achieve perfection…”

Although I fully understand what Coach Wooden was saying and have the utmost respect for him, I think this time he is being a bit too literal. The fact is as an athlete one almost always feels he is giving his best, yet there seems to be a hidden gear that is brought out when the motivation changes – something the athlete didn’t even know was there…

I saw this a couple weeks ago while watching a college practice. One of the athletes was really struggling physically. The team was running lines and had a set time limit allotted to finish the course. This young man wasn’t coming close. He was cramping, spitting up in the trash can, and judging by the grimace on his face giving all he had at the moment. Then something changed. His teammates came along beside him and encouraged him; they ran with him and lo and behold the kid found another gear…

(I think that extra 10% that was found could be summed up in one word – SACRIFICE – giving beyond the norm…)

The argument would be that he simply wasn’t giving it all initially. Again I don’t want to get into the literal argument – but figuratively there is a thing called motivation that gives us an extra gear!

The past couple weeks we have begun a series at church dealing with giving “outside the box” for CHRISTmas. Basically the pastor has been reminding us that the central component to thanksgiving or gratitude is GRACE. He has pointed out the motivational verse in 2 Corinthians 9:15 that says, “Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift!”

God’s gift of GRACE should motivate us to give of ourselves beyond what we thought possible – 110%...

The idea of giving “outside of the box” this CHRISTmas has challenged us to give gifts that go beyond the consumer mentality that normally controls us. Instead of seeking what we can get this CHRISTmas we should seek what we could/should give. This challenge is not only a financial challenge but also a challenge this week to give of ourselves in service to others.

You may be thinking, “Yeah, I know Coach, but I don’t have any more time or finances to give. I am busy. I am broke. I have already budgeted my time/finances to the max…”

I think you have an extra gear! I think God’s grace is enough motivation to get you to give 110%! I know it is possible… the pastor pointed out just such a thing that is found in the Scriptures…

2 Corinthians 8:1-5
My friends, we want you to know that the churches in Macedonia have shown others how kind God is. Although they were going through hard times and were very poor, they were glad to give generously. They gave as much as they could afford and even more, simply because they wanted to. They even asked and begged us to let them have the joy of giving their money for God’s people. And they did more than we had hoped. They gave themselves first to the Lord and then to us, just as God wanted them to do. (CEV)

This CHRISTmas is a great time to show your gratitude to God by giving to others…

My daughter Christa just raised over $450 to buy a fish pond, fishing kit, goat, and 9 chickens as gifts through World Vision. Others in our church have followed suit by giving similar type gifts. I can think of many very worthy ministries that are helping people. I’m sure you can think of people that are in need… Let’s step it up!

Monday, December 3, 2012

December 3, 2012 - I Wanted The Ball!

As we get older it is funny how much better of players our memories make us than what we really were… legends in our own minds… reminiscing about the glory days… I confess I get caught up in it. I think way back to my playing days and I become “unstoppable.” Yet I am sure we could find a few folks that tell it otherwise…

But there is one thing I do know was true about me as a player: I wanted the basketball and would risk life or limb to get it! I treasured the basketball! I prided myself on securing it and getting it to the rim… And what a rush when I would successfully finish the play!

The reason it came to mind this week is a result of watching a lot of college and high school hoops this past week. I get so frustrated when I see guys just going through the motions. As a former player/coach I can handle seeing mistakes made but don’t understand lack of effort…

This past week also had the record breaking Power Ball drawing. How do you think people were treating their tickets while awaiting those numbers to be drawn? What about the couple of folks that did win, how do you think they handled their tickets while waiting to turn them in? My guess is they treasured them! They prided themselves on securing the tickets and getting them where they needed to go!

As I was reading this morning in Proverbs 3 I was reminded of the admonition to find wisdom, gain understanding, and retain her. This same passage compares wisdom and understanding to silver, fine gold, and rubies – in other words it is treasure. (See verses 13-18)

Do you see the challenge for us this week? It is time for us to treasure God’s Wisdom! It is time for us to apply it to our lives! And by the way, what a rush when we are successful!

The promised results in Proverbs 3: Happiness, Peace, Length of days, Safety, Confidence, etc.