Monday, December 30, 2013

December 30, 2013 - Great Handles (A New Year's Resolution)

When scouting a player there are certain things that you look for; one being how his “handles” are… You gotta know that he can take care of the basketball. That involves the motor skills that are developed through repetition of drills and lead to the phrase “he’s got the ball on a string.” But it involves a lot more than that!

I have seen a lot of players that are good practice/drill players that are not dependable in the game. The motor skills are present but the vision and perspective of game flow is absent. When the pressure comes these are players that, in spite of their skill sets, end up in bad positions on the court, unable to effectively make plays.

But when there is great vision and perspective it is a beautiful thing to watch… I will always remember taking some players to watch a game a few years ago where one of the teams had an obvious advantage in size and athleticism. The players that were with me were going on and on at how badly the bigger/faster team was going to beat the smaller/slower team. The topic most in discussion was at the point guard position. I had told the guys with me to pay attention to point guard on the team they thought would lose. Each of the guys with me talked of how they could shut down that point guard with no problem and how he was going to get destroyed that night. As the game unfolded they watched a beautiful masterpiece of a guy with great handles! The point guard not only had great motor skills but had an uncanny vision and perspective of the game. The bigger/faster guards from the other team simply could not apply pressure because the point guard could see the big picture; could foresee what they were trying to do; and knew where he needed to go to avoid the traps- great handles! He orchestrated a beautiful win for his team; much to the surprise of the guys I took along for the show… (Love watching you play Tyler Lewis!)

All of that to get to this week’s point of looking back over 2013 and forward to 2014. How has the year been? What are you looking forward to? You see I believe, and heard a confirming message yesterday at church, that your “handles” are greatly determined by your perspective of the game. Let me explain (along with my own confessions…)

I often teach this principle when talking about the Apostle Paul. He is a guy that simply had developed great “handles” in life. He faced major obstacles and trials yet spoke and wrote of joy and rejoicing. Simply put he faced things that should have created incredible pressure and would have caused most men to crumble; yet he was able to not only handle the pressure but to find victory! I love the book of Philippians where Paul shows us that we can have victory even when circumstances seem to the contrary. He writes from prison and reminds us of a great truth: God and life are not synonyms! Life is full of both the good and the bad (a roller coaster) but God is constant and sufficient to meet our needs! In fact Paul is so clear about it that he states he knows what it is like to be poor or rich, hungry or full, to abound or suffer… and yet still he is content. His vision is focused on Christ! His perspective of the “game” is that God will strengthen him and he can stay calm and content. He sees beyond the circumstances to the assurances that God wins! I love teaching from Philippians! I love to teach the promise that we can do all things through Christ who strengthens us! I encourage you to read Philippians as your theme text for 2014…

Now on to the confessions… it is easy to stand behind a pulpit or sit in front of my computer and teach these things. It is like the player that is great at drills and skills but finds being in the game is a whole different thing! As I look back over 2013 I have seen times of incredible excitement and incredible discouragement. We have made a huge move for our family; our kids have faced many ups and downs; our finances have been very uncertain; etc… And to be honest I have often allowed circumstances to dictate my attitude instead of allowing my perspective (the things I know and teach) to carry me through my circumstances. My “handles” have not been very good this year.

How about your 2013? What about your 2014? For me I plan to start each day with a different attitude/perspective. I choose to pursue a life of rejoicing instead of complaining. I choose to practice what I preach. I choose to be thankful instead of frustrated. I choose to focus on the constant, consistent God over an ever-changing, inconsistent life.

John Wooden said it this way, “Make each day your masterpiece!”

The Psalmist says it this way,
“This is the day the Lord has made; we will rejoice and be glad in it.” (Ps 118:24)

Thank you to Pastor David from South Palm Community Church for the reminder to have an attitude-adjustment each morning… now how about you?

2014 New Year’s Resolution: Start each day with Psalm 118:24! It will give you (and me) great “handles” in the “game” of life!

Monday, December 23, 2013

December 23, 2013 - Change the Momentum of the Game

During any game it is usually easy to see where the momentum lies… what the flow of the game is like. As I talked with a friend last night he was telling me about a 6th grade girls game last weekend where the halftime score was 20-2. The game ended with a score of 26-25; the team that was so far behind still lost but made it into an exciting nail-biter game… My friend told me that the second half run was fueled by a full-court press that led to a few early baskets that led to a shift in momentum. The coach of the winning team found himself at the end of the game with no time-outs because he had burnt them all trying to stop the flow (and it almost cost his team - as my understanding is that the team that lost by one point had numerous shots at the goal in the last 40 seconds but just couldn’t hit the shot…)

As a “coach” on the spiritual sidelines of life I am concerned about the flow of the game right now. I need to call, “timeout”, and remind you of a few things…

 First being last week’s devotion that dealt with us giving up our rights and focusing on the real job that we have as believers – sharing the good news of great joy to all people that there is a Savior! I talked about what a great story it is that the God of the universe stepped off of His throne and into our world to touch our lives! Our job is to share that message!

At the end of the devotion last week I added in a graphic that I have used in past years when speaking of CHRISTmas. The picture reminds us to “Solve for X”; in other words to share what the X stands for instead of spending so much time demanding our rights to write the word the way we want… Our job is not to demand our political rights but to, as Christ showed us, willing give up some rights in order to focus on sharing joy, hope, and peace this CHRISTmas!

And now the coach has to step in… I am very fearful as I look at the “flow of the game” that our opponent has found another noisy distraction to the Gospel this CHRISTmas. Believers that should be busy about the Great Commission are instead focusing on the rights of Duck Dynasty… I am sure we have all heard, read, and maybe even posted about the rights of Phil Robertson to share his beliefs about sin. Most that read my blog are in agreement with Phil that the Bible is God’s Word and thus we stand by it. Yet to claim he lost his first amendment rights is first of all incorrect; and secondly should not be what we are making the most noise about a few days before we celebrate the birth of our Savior.

I know some of you are thinking now that I am wrong; some may even be calling me a liberal. Believe me, I am a Bible-believing, Bible-teaching, Biblical-values man! So I must use the Bible as my “coaching”/ministering guide. And Jesus did not call us to make noise about our rights; but instead to make much about Him!

Phil was allowed to speak his beliefs; He was not arrested – showing he had the right to say those things. And even though I disagree with A&E’s stance on the matter, I do believe they have the right to put what they want on their network; and unless they are professing believers in Christ, I don’t expect them to agree with my value system.

I am now seeing the “game” focusing on the wrong things; we have diverted from our game plan to share the Gospel and instead started on a game plan of demanding our rights. “Momentum” is on the opponent’s side right now.

When you leave the “timeout” of this devotion be focused on the game plan – focus on sharing the good news – declaring that our Savior has been born; declaring that our Savior died to pay the penalty for sin; declaring that our Savior rose again to give us new life! The angel of the Lord focused on introducing the shepherds to Jesus; the shepherds, after meeting Jesus, focused on sharing that same message… (See Luke 2:10-17)

I’d love to see more on Facebook this week about Jesus than about Phil Robertson (and I think Phil would rather see that too.) We have got to “change the momentum of the game!”

Monday, December 16, 2013

December 16, 2013 - The Throne of Fame (Reaching out to us little people)

One of the things I love is to see the feel-good stories done about athletes; the ones where the athlete goes out of his or her way to make a fan feel special or to visit a sick kid or… you get the picture. Recently saw an ESPN spot on the quarterback from the University of Alabama and his special bond with a little girl that has cancer; saw a photo of an NBA player over in the stands greeting a kid that has down syndrome; loved to read about the way Tim Tebow made games special for fans; etc.

The reason this pulls at our heartstrings is because these are people that are placed on a pedestal; one where thousands of adoring fans chant their names and line up by the tunnels hoping to at least get the touch of a high five or something…  So if we are honest, when we see these stories it appears as though there is a great humbling of this great sports-god in taking time out of his schedule to reach out and touch us little-people…

I know that is a very drastic way of putting it. I am a sports nut but have to admit that our priorities in our culture are quite askew! (I confess it even in my life. When my son played for Michael Jordan’s brother, we felt like we were amongst the basketball royal family. When MJ’s mom spoke to the guys I found myself listening to her like she was this super mom because her son was a super basketball player.) So my point is that in it feels good when these people (that we have admittedly elevated to an improper lofty status) steps off the throne of fame and into our world.

All of that to remind you what CHRISTmas is really about…

 It is about the God of the universe stepping down into our world to touch us little people! In fact the first folks introduced to the baby Jesus were the lowly shepherds (a people on the lowest end of the social ladder.) God humbled Himself taking on the form of a man and being born, (not as the conquering, all-powerful, impressive Being that He is), but as a baby… wrapped in swaddling cloths (restrained)… in order to touch humanity!

This God whom we adore (I’m a huge fan!) showed that He adores us! The angel told the shepherds (and us) that they had good news of great Joy; that Jesus is the Savior – our Hope; that all men can have peace with God! (Luke 2:10-14) And the Scriptures go on to remind us that Jesus humbled Himself even to the point of death on the cross! (Philippians 2:8) Don’t you see? God demonstrated His love for us in that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us! (Romans 5:8) He adores us!

Our job this CHRISTmas is in the midst of the tiring hustle and bustle of the holidays to rest in that joy, hope, and peace! And like those shepherds did, to share that joy, hope, and peace with others! (See Luke 2:17-18)

The message of Jesus’s birth is the ultimate feel-good story of God stepping off His pedestal to offer joy, hope, and peace to all people!

Monday, December 9, 2013

December 9, 2013 - Letting The Assistant Coach Run The Huddle...

I often scan the sports news for ideas that will spur the devotion for the week; other times it just comes to me as I am going through my daily grind. Some Mondays role around and I just feel like there is a block there… And then the Lord sends an answer…

In my coaching days I was blessed to have some great assistant coaches. Being an assistant isn’t always easy, especially if you disagree with the head coach’s decision or philosophy. Yet great assistants know how to get their point across and also how to show faithfulness and loyalty. It is even a greater blessing when the assistant has the same goals and values for the team as the head coach. This type of assistant is a guy the head coach has no problem letting run the huddle…

All of that intro because to this day I still love to daily read the thoughts and encouragements of an assistant coach I had many years ago. Coach Rick Lewis, of Phenom Hoop Report, daily posts thoughts and encouragements for players and their families… today being no exception. Therefore I am letting him “run the huddle…”

Coach Rick writes…
“3 things you can never get back in life : 
Make sure you make all 3 count the first time”

These are great truths for us to remember this week as we “play the game of life.”

Look up these passages that support the truths Coach Lewis shared…

Words: Psalm 19:14; James 3:2-10
Time: James 3:13-17
Opportunity: Ephesians 5:15-17

Thanks Coach, for daily investing in people’s lives!

Monday, December 2, 2013

December 2, 2013 - A Little Locker Room Leadership...

Has God put something on your heart? Has He given you a passion to Make A Difference? Last week I encouraged us to all let the Word of God transform us into a people ready to Make A Difference… and it would have been easy to think I was simply talking about the giving program we are starting with InBounds; yet it is so much more than that. Giving is absolutely important, (coming from the guy that directs a ministry totally dependent upon the giving of God’s people), but doing is important as well. We need to be active in the “game”! I have said it often throughout the years of these devotions: God doesn’t want benchwarmers!

But let’s be realistic here. Finances, time, potential persecution or ridicule, etc. all lead to fear of activity. Yet don’t let fear stop you!!!!!!!

Today I am going to try to give a little “locker room leadership.” Within the safety of our little internet huddle I want to encourage you to be all that God intends for you to be; to do all that God intends for you to do; to go where God intends for you to go…

I’ll confess to fears and stress as we continue down our faith-road in ministry. I’ll admit that sometimes I consider quitting. I realize that the road we are on is not the road of the American Dream…

Yet the reality is that we are in the game and seeing lives changed! We are pressing forward and facing the enemy! To some this may sound like I am bragging about this; but believe me I am not! I am admitting to my weakness; yet also wanting to give an answer as to why we go on…

As I was reading Nehemiah this morning I was reminded that even Nehemiah was afraid (in fact chapter 2 verse 2 said he became “dreadfully afraid”), yet he followed through with the game plan. He had heard of his people’s fate and a passion was birthed in him to Go MAD (Make A Difference.) He took it to the Lord and asked for the Lord’s blessing on his endeavor… and then he got busy.

As I read further in the account I saw that Nehemiah faced many obstacles (finances, resources, the enemy, etc.) How about you? Are you facing any struggles today? Is life full of stressors for you like they are for me? Is the enemy trying to slow you down or keep you down from acting upon the passion God has given you? It is time to rise up! Nehemiah records that the people got to a point where they “had a mind to work” (4:6), in spite of the looming dangers and obstacles.  The enemy was pressing in on every side, determined to stop their progress. Nehemiah and his people prayed and then Nehemiah delivers a message to his people that would ring well in any locker room (or battlefield for that matter):

4:14And I looked, and arose and said to the nobles, to the leaders, and to the rest of the people, “Do not be afraid of them. Remember the Lord, great and awesome, and fight for your brethren, your sons, your daughters, your wives, and your houses.”

Nehemiah admitted his fears yet kept moving forward – stayed active in “the game” – facing the obstacles and adversaries.  He led by example, not based upon his strength but on that of the Lord. He rallied his “team” (people.) He had all the attributes of a great locker room leader!

I long to be like Nehemiah and stay the course! I want to move forward by the strength of the Lord! So I write to you this day to “remember the Lord, great and awesome”, and Go MAD!

Monday, November 25, 2013

November 25, 2013 - "Gettin Buckets!"

One of our new outreach plans for our MAD (Making A Difference) Hoops ministry is called “Getting’ Buckets!” That is phrase that simply refers to a guy or gal that is scoring a lot in hoops… For us we are hoping it translates to those that are “scoring” a lot in making a difference in other people’s lives!

We are going to ask each of our MAD Hoops locations to designate an outreach to the needy and to “drop a dime (assist)” to help support that outreach financially. This idea was birthed as I toured an area in Haiti and witnessed the extreme poverty; then I met a missionary that has been there for 30 years and found out about his love and heart for the people around him. There are numerous “beggars” that wait outside his house daily just hoping to get some help. Many families know they can seek help by going to him. And this guy does it mostly through his limited support that is supposed to be for he and his wife. He puts together buckets of food that will last families a week or two and distributes them on a regular basis. He truly knows what it means to serve Christ… since Christ said we serving Him by serving the “least of these.” I simply got to thinking that we could help “get buckets” for him…

That immediately made me think about the outreach of our MAD Hoops guys in NC that regularly help in handing out supplies to the homeless in Charlotte… they are making a difference! And all of the players that get the benefit of running the courts during our outreaches should be encouraged to help meet needs…

Read the Scriptures! We are commanded over and over to consider the poor and needy! We are commanded to make a difference!

Psalm 41:1 says that the one that considers the poor is “blessed.”

Psalm 82:3 tells us to “defend the poor and fatherless…”

Proverbs 14:31 He who oppresses the poor reproaches his Maker, but he who honors Him has mercy on the needy.

Check out some of these verses in the Proverbs: 19:17; 21:13; 22:9; 28:27

InBounds (MAD Hoops) is planning on “Getting’ Buckets!” How about you? Are you ready to make a difference? Last week I encouraged you to let eh Word of God transform your mind… These verses should bring us a whole new way of looking at life!

Monday, November 18, 2013

November 18, 2013 - Buying Into The Coach's Plan

As a coach there have been times that players filled the position I told them to fill, performed the action I instructed them to perform, and ran through skills or conditioning drills I gave them; yet things just weren’t as productive in the games as I had envisioned and those same players didn’t necessarily show any joy in playing the game… some through the years even quit… Sometimes whole teams underachieved…

So what was the problem? (To be honest it could have been at times simply poor planning on my part and therefore poor results.) More often than that, it stemmed from certain players not “buying into” the overall plan. Oh, they knew they needed to do what coach said, (some even loved me as a friend/teacher), but they simply didn’t inwardly agree with my plan/vision for them as individuals.

“Buying in” means you come into agreement…

This is where I feel many problems stem from in the Christian’s walk. We often realize we have gone against God’s plan and truly feel sorry for it and plan to stop… only to repeat it again. Or maybe we serve in positions with no joy but realize we need to be faithful and just keep plugging along – while not experiencing the results envisioned and possibly even stepping away (nice way of saying “quitting.”)

I believe the problem is in the wrong definition of “repentance.” We have listened over and over to definitions that basically state that repentance and obedience are synonyms. Well I am here to tell you that you can be obedient and not be repentant! (How many players have run laps for a coach – obeying and receiving discipline – but while running thinking the whole time that the coach is the one wrong?)

Repentance is the word “Metanoia” which literally means an after-thought… or in other words a change of mind from one way of thinking to another. Simply put, true repentance is not obedience but instead a whole new way of thinking (which in turn leads to joyful/fruitful obedience.)

My goal as a coach was to try to get the guys to trust me and believe I had their best at heart. The goal in the Christian life is similar: Each believer learning more and more how much God loves us by being in His transforming Word and in turn trusting him more and more as the Word changes our way of thinking which in turns changes our way of living and serving…

I challenge you today to get to know God in a deeper way! I challenge you to get into His Word, not as just a spiritual discipline, but as a way to get to know Him better! I challenge you to let the Word of God transform your mind (which is true repentance)! I challenge you to “buy into” God’s plan…

See Romans 12:2; Psalm 119:9, 11

Monday, November 11, 2013

November 11, 2013 - We Are Not Very Good Yet, But Wait Until You See Us In March!

As a coach/parent we are always longing to see our players/kids growing and maturing. I love reading the early season college basketball reports from coaches that often admit about their teams that they are not very good yet; but wait until you see them in March…

Part of how we are dealing with this in our ministry is through our Ambassador Scholarship program that is designed to help equip Christian athletes to use their skills on the mission field (be it the foreign field or the campus.) And it just so happens that the first recipient of some of this funding was not only a player but also my son… Since many of you have helped fund this program I thought you would like to read the following paper that Clay wrote for a Bible class he is in where he is presently serving in the Dominican Republic… (I think you will see some growth in this player…)

The Glory of God
By: Clay Burden

What is the specific Glory of God reflected in me? What does that look like in a world that is so far from God and so set on falling further away from Him? What does that look like in my life on a day to day basis dealing with friends who may laugh at me or ridicule me for my faith? Let’s take it a step further by saying, how am I supposed reflect a perfect, powerful all-knowing and unconditionally loving God when I battle with temptations to lie  about how tall I am or steal a bar of candy, I can’t even remember my homework from  last night or where I was going with this sentence… How? God seems like someone I Simply can’t reflect. In order to know how I’m supposed to reflect God I should Probable start by asking. Who is God?
Who is God? God is the creator of the universe; He always has been and always will be, He is omnipresent. Genesis 1 says “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth”  God the creator . Let’s start by thinking of a few attributes of God, God is Holy He is without sin and perfectly blameless, God is Sovereign the ruler of all creation, God is Love a Unconditional merciful Love  and God  is   Omniscient knowing everything and having a perfect never growing or fading knowledge.  So Once again How do I reflect these things, I’m a sinful person, I was separated from God  not caring who He was or how I could reflect  Him or in other words, be more like Him. So now that I Know some words to describe God , I want to figure out what they really mean and how God shows them So I  can try and find out how I’m supposed to do this reflecting Gods Glory thing.
God is Holy; this seems to be a pretty important attribute of Him. Isaiah calls God the “holy one” more than 30 times in scripture.  If God repeats something 3 times its considered important and Isaiah repeats it 30 times! Psalm 99:9 says “Exalt the Lord our God and worship at his holy mountain, for the Lord our God is holy”. 1 Samuel 2:2 “There is no one holy like the Lord; there is no one besides you; there is no Rock like our God.” My favorite verse on the Holiness of God, Exodus 3:5 “Do not come any closer,” God said. “Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy ground.” The GROUND God was at became Holy just because of His presence there. The word Holy according to Merriam’s dictionary is: “exalted or worthy of complete devotion as one perfect in goodness and righteousness”  

 God is sovereign; Gods in complete control. Everything I can see is His creation. This website I’m looking at explains it perfectly “The first verse of the Bible says that God does what He chooses to do.” God created the known universe, why? Because He is God and he can!

1.       Gen. 18:14, "Is anything too difficult for the Lord? At the appointed time I will return to you, at this time next year, and Sarah shall have a son."
2.       Psalm 115:3, "But our God is in the heavens; He does whatever He pleases."
3.       Psalm 135:6, "Whatever the Lord pleases, He does, In heaven and in earth, in the seas and in all deeps."

This is my favorite one Jer. 32:27, "Behold, I am the Lord, the God of all flesh; is anything too difficult for Me?” God seems like the ultimate point guard in this passage. Complete confidence in Himself!

·         Lam. 3:37-38, "Who is there who speaks and it comes to pass, unless the Lord has commanded it?

These verses so perfectly display the sovereignty of God. His will, will come through and He can control anything. One thing that stood out to me is, God is so sovereign He also has the power to give me a choice to accept Him. That’s such a beautiful display of leadership!

God is Love; an unconditional passionate love! A love so strong He sent His Son to die for me so I could be with Him. For me Gods love is the most important quality of Him. The bible often talks about Gods attributes but it seems to put an emphasis on love by saying “God is Love”.

1.       John 3:16  “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.
2.       Romans 5:8 but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
God is Omniscient, Knowing everything. He doesn’t learn more as time goes on or forget things, He simply just knows He has a infinite knowledge on what is, what has been and what will be.
Job 37:16 “Do you know the balancing of the clouds, the wondrous works of him who is perfect in knowledge.”
2.       Psalm 147:5 “Great is our Lord and mighty in power; his understanding has no limit.”  

So as a sinful, fallen man, how am I supposed to reflect the Glory of God? It’s very simple; I strive to be more like Him in everything I do. These qualities of God I’ve been studying are a part of His glory. They show me who God is. That way I know how I can reflect Him.

What does this look like in my everyday life, let me start with God is Holy, I need to strive to be holy as well. When God made Adam and eve they were blameless in His sight, perfect without sin. They had that personal relationship with Christ, but when sin entered the world it separated them (me) from God and we no longer could have that relationship. So God sent His son to die for me So that i could willingly choose to restore that relationship. With this new relationship The Bible says I am  a new creation in Christ. 2 Corinthians 5:17-21 ESV  ”Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God”. I  now have the ability to strive to be holy. WE now have the mindset of Christ to know not to do wrong and to always honor God with our choices. I will make mistakes because sin is always around us but that is part of the building process.

God is sovereign, this one is tough. As a sinful man I really don’t have absolute control over anything so how am I supposed to reflect God in this way? I do this by submitting to His Sovereign will. Proverbs 3:5-6 ESV  “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths”. By living my life making choices with prayer asking to seek Gods direction and asking Him where He wants me to be.  This reflects Him because I am showing others and myself my trust in His sovereignty and my obedience to it. In the same way Jesus trusted Gods plan and was obedient to the cross I must be obedient in wherever God takes me. Ephesians 6:5-8 ESV  “ Slaves, obey your earthly masters with fear and trembling, with a sincere heart, as you would Christ, not by the way of eye-service, as people-pleasers, but as servants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart, rendering service with a good will as to the Lord and not to man, knowing that whatever good anyone does, this he will receive back from the Lord, whether he is a slave or free.”

God is Love, wow doesn’t the world need love! Reflecting Gods love in my day to day life can take place in so many different situations, my relationships with family, girlfriend, friends and even my teachers. No I’m not going to die for my teachers or my friends but I will care about them and forgive them when they wrong me. I  can be there for them and be a listening ear. 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 “4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.” In order to reflect Gods love this must be true of my life in all relationships and situations, no matter what the circumstances. God’s love is never ending and unconditional so I must strive for that to reflect Him.

Monday, November 4, 2013

November 4, 2013 - Passion Birthed In Battle

Years ago when coaching I was very organized in my practices; I had the drills and teaching time planned out to the minute. When it came to the plays and plans I wanted to make sure that each player knew exactly where he should be and when he needed to be there. As the years progressed I found more and more players coming to me that had been in camps and clinics throughout their lives and had decent motor skills and a could follow where to be in plays… and as a coach I felt confident that players were prepared.

Yet in the latter years of my coaching I was noticing that these seasoned practice players simply did not have a natural feel for the timing of the game; I found players that were equipped but had no passion…

I really believe that the passion for the game comes more from time in the school yard or in the driveway than in the clinics; and I found this to be true of players in every sport. I believe preparation is very important but I believe passion is birthed in the battle.

This came to my mind this past week while in a meeting with a mission team. We were discussing ideas for some outreach in a community and the possibility of hosting an event there. I proceeded to explain that the events are fine and I love planning and doing them, and can even equip people to play their roles at them… but ultimately for long-term effectiveness there must be long term commitment that is steeped in actual “game play” that produces passion. Again this is not to discount preparation; but if too much time is spent just preparing then passion is non-existent. (That is why coaches hear players begging to scrimmage – they want to be in the battle; they want to compete!) I find many folks in the church that have spent a lot of time in preparation yet lacking in passion.

One of the members of the mission team looked at me and said that it seemed that for everyone to seek what he or she is passionate about sounds unorganized but effective… to which I replied “exactly!” Ministry is not always about organization; it is about getting passionate about where God is leading you and getting in the game!

Some of my fondest memories of basketball are from my back yard on the broken concrete… it wasn’t ideal but I was in the game… in the battle! Don’t get me wrong… I loved the “events” of the organized games from running out for pregame, to the announcing of the starting lineups, to the opening tip! But that is not where my passion was birthed!

All of that to simply ask, “Are you in the game?” Get busy about ministering to people. It doesn’t have to be an organized event; it might even be in your own back yard!

1 Corinthians 15:58 – Always abound in the work!!!!!!

Monday, October 28, 2013

October 28, 2013 - Down But Not Out!

Yesterday my brother and I got into his car to run to the store. He set his radio on the Denver/Washington football game and Denver was surprisingly behind. While on our drive to the store Denver tied the game at 21; when we came back out to the car they were ahead 38-21 and then scored again before we left the parking lot.


Denver was down in that game 21-7 and then ran off 38 consecutive points in the second half to win in a blowout. I’m sure many Denver fans were frustrated early in the second half; but true fans know that Payton Manning should not be underestimated; as long as he is on your side and there is time on the clock he is a threat!


I write about this as I think about how bleak life can look at times. Whether it is illness, finances, relationships, school, or whatever… things get difficult. And then to hear conversations daily about the condition of the world, politics, etc. could make one feel as though there is no hope…


On a personal level I just want to encourage you (and me) that God is on our side and there is time on the clock… He will use the things you (and I) are going through and work them for our good – we have His promise! (Romans 8:28)


On a national or even global level I also know something… God wins! I’ve read the book and know the ending… I choose not to spend all of my time moaning and groaning about things and instead looking for a way to make a difference. The fact is that the Scriptures tell us life gets more difficult and gives us an answer… to “redeem the time because the days are evil.” (Ephesians 5:16) Are you a complainer or a changer?


We may be down but we’re not out!

Monday, October 21, 2013

October 21, 2013 - Fully Vested Contract

I just read an article on about Don Mattingly. I will state up front that I am a Mattingly fan (not a Dodger fan) because Donnie Baseball is from my hometown; but also because the guy is the epitome of a hard working athlete that overcame all the odds and succeeded in spite of his perceived shortcomings. I also think he proved this year that he does a pretty good job with the skipper’s hat on; the Dodgers won their division by 11 games and had the best 50-game swing in club history (going 42-8.)

Yet early in the year when they weren’t playing so great there was much speculation of him being fired; and even after the incredible run that carried them into the playoffs there still is not a long-term contract on the table. Basically Mattingly admitted that it was difficult to daily feel as though he were still trying out for the position. In spite of the fact that his contracted is vested for one more year due to their first round playoff victory he feels as though management does not have faith in him as a manager.

One reporter believes Mattingly was simply putting everything out front and telling them to either give him a multi-year extension or let him go…

What a tough situation to be in… yet many live in this type of atmosphere based upon how they view God. Of course those that still believe “good boys go to heaven and bad boys go to hell” are all living life having to always wonder: “Am I good enough?” “Does my good outweigh my bad?” (Don’t want to be rude but let me answer those, No! “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” Rom 2:23)

Yet isn’t that true also of those who treat Christ’s sacrifice as though it were just a chance to start over and they still have to earn something? Those that spend their lives serving out of law…

Instead of going into a long doctrinal treatise of soteriology (study of salvation), let me make a very simple point:

I am not trying to earn or maintain my salvation! I have a fully vested contract for eternity based upon the righteousness of Christ; or as I often teach it: “I will enter the pearly gates wearing a jersey that says “Jesus” on the back!” (2 Corinthians 5:21 tells me Christ took my sin and I received His righteousness!) I am vested in Christ!

What motivates me to serve the Lord is His amazing grace! 

Monday, October 14, 2013

October 14, 2013 - Relentless Full Court Pressure

Lately I have been reminded of watching my players’ faces when we faced those teams that swarm you with relentless full court pressure from the opening tip to the final buzzer. (Some of my old players will remember teams like the Patterson School that did that; old hoops fans will remember teams like the Arkansas Razorbacks and their famous “40 Minutes of Hell” defense.) So as a coach my job was to get my players to not focus on the opponent’s pressure but instead on the things we had learned to combat that pressure (i.e. press break offenses that let you trust where your teammate will be, how to protect the ball, staying under control and making solid passes, and my favorite as a coach/player was to attack the pressure!)

I have recently confessed how overwhelmed I have been with our move… Simply put, life has been moving at warp speed and I have simply been trying to hang on for the ride. Therefore I have resorted to focusing on what I have learned and taught for years:

·         We do have a God that is our refuge! (Ps 46:1)
·         We do have a sovereign God that has promised to work things for good! (Rom 8:28)
·         We can trust that pain brings gain! (Jam 1:2-3)
·         We know this too shall pass… (2 Cor 4:17-18)

So this week I’ll share with you the lyrics of a song I recently wrote. I shared it for the first time publicly this past Saturday at the One Heart Music Festival in NC; I simply wanted folks to know we can choose to focus on something other than the pressure!

I’m overwhelmed…
With what your hands have made
I’m overwhelmed…
I see your power displayed
I hear rolling thunder; I see the stars
Then sings my soul How Great Thou Art
I’m overwhelmed…

I’m overwhelmed…
Every time I seek your face
I’m overwhelmed…
By your Amazing Grace
I once was lost but now I’m found
Amazing Grace how sweet the sound
I’m overwhelmed…

Jesus, worthy is your name
Jesus, greatly to be praised
And all that I can say
I’m overwhelmed

I’m overwhelmed…
I praise your holy name
I’m overwhelmed
Let heaven and earth proclaim
Kings and kingdoms pass away
There’s just something about your name
I’m overwhelmed…

Jesus, worthy is your name
Jesus, greatly to be praised
And all that I can say
I’m overwhelmed

Monday, October 7, 2013

October 7, 2013 - Only One Way To Score

There are many different philosophies when it comes to basketball; yet in the end there is always only 1 way to score… the ball must go through your basket! That is simply the object of the game…

In all of my years of playing and coaching, no one has ever argued that point. No one has ever tried to convince me that there is another way to score points. Why? Because Dr. Naismith, the creator of the game of basketball, designed the game that way.

This simple little truth was on my mind as I strolled down a gravel/dirt road in La Vega Dominican republic this past Saturday and looked up at a basketball goal in front of a little church. Painted on the backboard it read: Solo en Cristo hay salvacion (only in Christ is there salvation.)
We live in a world of many philosophies and religious thoughts…

We live in a world where it is said that we are intolerant for preaching/teaching salvation in Christ alone; but the creator of “the game” said that is the only way to “score”!

The reality is that the most loving and caring thing we can do is tell someone the truth of what God Himself says about the situation…

The reality is that the most tolerant message there is, is that of salvation in Christ alone to all who will believe… (Do you get that? It is a universal appeal to all… one’s past, one’s nationality, one’s race, one’s gender, etc – none of these things exclude one from believing on Christ to be saved!)

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

Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved. (Acts 4:12)

We need to be busy about sharing the most loving message known to man…

God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ dies for us. (Romans 5:8)

Friday, September 27, 2013

September 30, 2013 - Success "E"ssentials: Esprit de Corps

The past three weeks were part of a short series on what I see as some of the “E”ssentials of true success – victorious living… (things like Execution of the game plan; Ethics; Effort; and Esprit de Corps…). Here is the basic intro again to this series:

“I recently had a discussion with my pastor and he asked me a basic question: “How do you define success or victory in the Christian life? –or- “What does a mature Christian look like?”

That is a loaded question because there are so many things talked about in Scripture on what a victorious / mature believer looks like. Yet many of those things are subjective instead of objective (things that don’t necessarily show up on life’s scoreboard.) I think that is why often churches get caught up in the legalism of defining success as “not participating in the works of the flesh.” That is easier to gauge than things like the fruit of the Spirit, etc.

In sports we tend to look at won-loss records for a season or the scoreboard for a game; yet I have never defined success that way for the teams I coached. (Of course some might say it is because I didn’t often see the positive side of the scoreboard or the win-loss column…)

In all honesty I can say there were times my teams won on the scoreboard yet I didn’t feel victorious; and there were times we lost on the scoreboard but I was beaming with pride! And in all honesty I can say that there have been times in life where I appeared to be “winning” and didn’t feel victorious; and times I appeared to be “losing” but felt incredible pride and contentment in knowing my Lord was pleased…

After all the goal of a minister is to present believers as complete or mature in their walks… (Colossians 1:28)”

This week: Esprit de Corps - feelings of loyalty, enthusiasm, and devotion to a group among people who are members of the group…

I know we hear it often that teamwork is the key to success; and I have written often about this topic over the years. Yet if I am going to talk about the “E”ssentials of success it has to be there…

A while back I wrote about a discussion I had with a former NFL Super Bowl champion that acknowledged that his team was not necessarily the most talented team but that they were truly a “team.” He then talked about how the fame and riches of winning changed many of the players’ attitudes and they were not as good.

The fact is that the strongest teams have a group focused on the same goal more than on individual desires and accomplishments. And for the church body the same is true…

We need believers committed to the proclamation of the Gospel of Grace to a lost and dying world; and we need believers committed to not focusing on the mode of transmission of that message. (Paul said he simply rejoiced when Christ was being preached in spite of the preacher’s motivation. See Philippians 1:15-18)

I just read the idea of Esprit de Corps written this way by Coach Ron Bishop, the founder of SCORE International: Our focus is on TEAMWORK and KINGDOM Mindedness! Everyone is coming together to set aside personal agendas, ownership of ministries, and individualism to the "greater good" of His kingdom work. Our goal is to keep EVERY ministry focused on HIS Person and NOT on the personality of individuals…”

I think this is evidenced in one’s attitude toward authority, toward his peers, and toward those below him. Some of my favorite Esprit de Corps verses are Philipiians 2:1-4 – read it, learn it, live it!

Monday, September 23, 2013

September 22, 2013 - Effort (not excuses)

The past two weeks were part of a short series on what I see as some of the “E”ssentials of true success – victorious living… (things like Execution of the game plan; Ethics; Effort; and Esprit de Corps…). Here is the basic intro again to this series:

“I recently had a discussion with my pastor and he asked me a basic question: “How do you define success or victory in the Christian life? –or- “What does a mature Christian look like?”

That is a loaded question because there are so many things talked about in Scripture on what a victorious / mature believer looks like. Yet many of those things are subjective instead of objective (things that don’t necessarily show up on life’s scoreboard.) I think that is why often churches get caught up in the legalism of defining success as “not participating in the works of the flesh.” That is easier to gauge than things like the fruit of the Spirit, etc.

In sports we tend to look at won-loss records for a season or the scoreboard for a game; yet I have never defined success that way for the teams I coached. (Of course some might say it is because I didn’t often see the positive side of the scoreboard or the win-loss column…)

In all honesty I can say there were times my teams won on the scoreboard yet I didn’t feel victorious; and there were times we lost on the scoreboard but I was beaming with pride! And in all honesty I can say that there have been times in life where I appeared to be “winning” and didn’t feel victorious; and times I appeared to be “losing” but felt incredible pride and contentment in knowing my Lord was pleased…

After all the goal of a minister is to present believers as complete or mature in their walks… (Colossians 1:28)”

This week: Effort (not excuses)

I will have to be brief as my computer has a bad battery life and I am not sure where the cord is in the midst of the move… but no excuses; I need to follow through with the plan!

Immediately on thinking about the idea of “effort” I thought of what Coach Rick Lewis of Phenom Hoops Report calls the “motor guys”; these are the ones that don’t take any plays off and give maximum effort. Those are the guys I love to coach – they are not changed by the scoreboard (circumstances); they just do their job to the best of their ability.

How about you? God has called you to a life of excellence and given you a game plan that we talk about weekly. Are you following through or making excuses? Are you doing everything as “unto the Lord”? Read Colossians 3:17 and 23; these are familiar verses used in athletics but refer to all of life!

God is looking for some “motor guys and gals”!

Monday, September 16, 2013

September 16, 2013 - Ethics (Fakes, Flops, Doping, Dives, and a Fiddler)

Last week I began a short series on the what I see as some of the “E”ssentials of true success – victorious living… (things like Execution of the game plan; Ethics; Effort; and Esprit de Corps…). Here is the basic intro again to this series:

“I recently had a discussion with my pastor and he asked me a basic question: “How do you define success or victory in the Christian life? –or- “What does a mature Christian look like?”

That is a loaded question because there are so many things talked about in Scripture on what a victorious / mature believer looks like. Yet many of those things are subjective instead of objective (things that don’t necessarily show up on life’s scoreboard.) I think that is why often churches get caught up in the legalism of defining success as “not participating in the works of the flesh.” That is easier to gauge than things like the fruit of the Spirit, etc.

In sports we tend to look at won-loss records for a season or the scoreboard for a game; yet I have never defined success that way for the teams I coached. (Of course some might say it is because I didn’t often see the positive side of the scoreboard or the win-loss column…)

In all honesty I can say there were times my teams won on the scoreboard yet I didn’t feel victorious; and there were times we lost on the scoreboard but I was beaming with pride! And in all honesty I can say that there have been times in life where I appeared to be “winning” and didn’t feel victorious; and times I appeared to be “losing” but felt incredible pride and contentment in knowing my Lord was pleased…

After all the goal of a minister is to present believers as complete or mature in their walks… (Colossians 1:28)”

This week: Ethics (Fakes, Flops, Doping, Dives, and a Fiddler)

The news is constantly full of stories of athletes getting an edge via questionable means…

I think of the news last season of the NBA cracking down on defensive players flopping; of the recent NFL news of players faking injuries in order to slow down the pace of the game; or the regular news of baseball players and cyclists doping; and even last week hearing about NASCAR radio chatter showing that drivers had manipulated results on the race track by intentionally spinning out and others intentionally taking a dive to allow other drivers to finish higher.

I even read of controversy in the Olympic games – in 388BC a boxer bribed three other boxers to take a dive; in AD1896 the man that was declared the winner of the marathon was later discovered to have ridden a large portion of the race in a fairly new invention called an automobile; often we hear of the question in the Olympics of athletes doping or even judges giving questionable marks; yet my favorite of the cheaters has to be Nero. (You know the Roman emperor that was said to have played his fiddle while Rome burned…)

This guy was truly a work of art. He was known to have fixed the games so he could be crowned a champion. First he bribed officials to hold the games 2 years later than scheduled. Then he manipulated results, most famously the results of the chariot race. In that race Nero fell off his chariot and didn’t finish the course. Yet he was still crowned champion via a judges’ decision that if he had stayed on he would have won the race. (This is starting to sound like NASCAR.)

As an athlete I don’t understand how someone could cheat and still look at himself in the mirror. I think much of it is because of our misrepresentation of what success truly is. Because we define it by the scoreboard it has created a culture of win at all costs. I am a guy that has no problem telling an opponent that he made a good play – or – even admitting that someone was better than me on a given day.
First, let me be very succinct in my response to this: God expects and demands honesty in us. I never believe it is right to fake, flop, dope, or dive in order to win. I believe that on the court and in life you should man up and show integrity. I believe when the opponent is bearing down on you that you should step in and take the charge right in the middle of the chest (not take the sissy flop.) Be men and women of integrity!

Second, this idea has so permeated the church that we think victory is just in looking good on the outside; we think victory is in appearing victorious no matter the reality underneath; with think there is only victory and God’s blessing/approval if we are on the victor’s podium… It has led to what I heard a pastor recently refer to as the “I’m Fine Church” – one full of fakers that want to appear as something they are not. We have a society of folks that are trained to “play their fiddles” while “Rome is burning.” We are not honest with one another and therefore cannot truly be accountable to helping and encouraging one another. Ethics is not just about following the rules; it is also about admission of guilt, weakness, struggles, failures, etc.; it is about being real with one another.

Live honestly!

Leviticus 19:35 You shall do no injustice in judgment, in measurement of length, weight, or volume.

Proverbs 16:11 Honest weights and scales are the Lord’s…

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

New Mailing Address for InBounds

New office address:
InBounds Ministries
1311 Isbell Blvd NW
Ft Payne, AL 35968

Monday, September 9, 2013

September 9, 2013 - Execution of the Game Plan

I recently had a discussion with my pastor and he asked me a basic question: “How do you define success or victory in the Christian life? –or- “What does a mature Christian look like?”

That is a loaded question because there are so many things talked about in Scripture on what a victorious / mature believer looks like. Yet many of those things are subjective instead of objective (things that don’t necessarily show up on life’s scoreboard.) I think that is why often churches get caught up in the legalism of defining success as “not participating in the works of the flesh.” That is easier to gauge than things like the fruit of the Spirit, etc.

In sports we tend to look at won-loss records for a season or the scoreboard for a game; yet I have never defined success that way for the teams I coached. (Of course some might say it is because I didn't often see the positive side of the scoreboard or the win-loss column…)

In all honesty I can say there were times my teams won on the scoreboard yet I didn't feel victorious; and there were times we lost on the scoreboard but I was beaming with pride! And in all honesty I can say that there have been times in life where I appeared to be “winning” and didn't feel victorious; and times I appeared to be “losing” but felt incredible pride and contentment in knowing my Lord was pleased…

So over the next few weeks I thought I would share some of my “E”ssentials to true success - victorious living… (things like Execution of the game plan; Ethics; Effort; and Esprit de Corps…)

After all the goal of a minister is to present believers as complete or mature in their walks… (Colossians 1:28)

This week: Execution of the Game Plan

There were times we faced teams that simply put were much better than us. This will sound like a defeated attitude but some of the teams we faced would have beaten us on their worst day and our best day. Like what often happens in life, it seemed like “no win” situations… and honestly if I judged by a scoreboard that would be the case.

Yet in each of those instances I would present a game plan to the team that would try to limit the opponent’s effectiveness, maximize our effectiveness, and allow for us to at least make them earn their “W.” (In other words we would pick our poison… i.e. if it was an incredibly fast, big, and athletic team I knew they could and would enjoy dunking the ball a lot; yet I wanted to see if they could shoot the ball. Therefore we would pack the defense in and dare them to shoot.)

Sometimes this type of coaching would result in just losing by 15 or 20 instead of by 30 or 40. But again the goal wasn’t hat games scoreboard; it was execution that would help us grow as a team and get better for the next game. It helped us accomplish objectives on players becoming coachable in hard times. It helped the players develop skills to face adversity.

Life is very hard at times! As believers one mark of maturity that leads to true victory is studying/knowing God’s game plan for life as it is spelled out in the Scriptures and in turn executing it in life. A simple way I heard that put yesterday was this: “Always ask, What does the Bible say about this?’”

Read Psalm 119 today. There are 176 verses that each remind you of the importance of knowing and executing God’s game plan…

Monday, September 2, 2013

September 2, 2013 - The Right Teammates

I sat in a meeting this morning with the founder of a missions organization discussing strategy and future plans for reaching the world with the Gospel through the platform of sports… It was a great time of fellowship! Each of us left the meeting excited to see what things the Lord is unfolding for us and with decisions to make on how to proceed…

And it got me to thinking about “The Decision” when LeBron took his talents to South Beach… the decision that caused LeBron to face the wrath of fans, fellow players (especially the old timers), the media, etc. The reality is that every decision we make has consequences, both positive and negative; based upon not only the decision but also how we went about it.

First let me say I understand that “how” LeBron went about announcing his decision was not the classiest of moves; yet ESPN had a lot to do with that and also a media crazy world that will devote airtime to even high school athletes announcing their decisions. It is simply the nature of the culture.

Second, I want to dogmatically state that I understand and agree with his decision to play in Miami. I know many are bristling right now; any are stating that their old heroes of the game “didn’t have to switch teams in order to win” or they “weren’t traitors to their teams…” Again times are different and the AAU circuit has developed a travel mentality for players that teaches them to find the strongest squad for the best chances to win leading to the most exposure. And the fact is that the old timers that played on championship teams (Bird, Magic, MJ, etc.) all had great players (Hall of Fame-bound) around them already. DR.J was great (my favorite player) but yet didn’t win the championship until he had the right teammates around him (namely one Moses Malone.) Plus not long before LeBron’s decision to join the Heat, the Celtics put together their “Big 3” and no one complained (at least not to the extent of the with the Heat.)

Simply put LeBron made a decision based upon an age-old principle: If you want to be a winner, hang around winners! And we see the result: three straight trips to the finals and two championships…

And in spite of everything I wrote prior to that last statement, someone is saying, “yeah, but he couldn’t do it on his own!” And for the one saying that… you Sir, are absolutely right!

My meeting this morning was born out of a statement sent to me that said, “Todd, you need to hitch your wagon to us.” In other words we need to consider teaming together to win more. And the Scriptures are clear that I, and you, need to avoid “hitching our wagons” to the wrong type of people but should instead seek to “hitch” to those that are successfully heading in the direction we are trying to go!

Do you want to be successful in your spiritual walk? Are you following the age-old principle of surrounding yourself with spiritual winners? Do you run with those who are running in a Biblical direction? Are you “hitching your wagon” to those that have the same goals as you? Make the right decisions on teammates!

Proverbs 2:20 Thus you will walk in the ways of the good and keep to the paths of the righteous.

Proverbs 12:26 The righteous should choose his friends carefully. For the way of the wicked leads them astray.

Monday, August 26, 2013

August 26, 2013 - 5-Second Rule

What is God calling you to do today? I have spent the summer preaching and teaching on the commission to missions that Christ gave us. I have over and over discussed the fact that believers should follow the game plan of sharing the Gospel (Mark 16:15) and making disciples (Matthew 28:19-20) as laid out in Acts 1:8 (sharing locally, nationally, and internationally.) I have shared that I cannot tell people where they should give or serve; but I can dogmatically tell people that God has called them to be givers and doers. (James 1:22) I even wrote about this idea here in our weekly blog (July 22, 2013 – Manifest Destiny.) Basically I have tried to “put the ball in each believer’s court.”

So the question is: why write about it again? Simply put, I have dealt with too many talkers and too few doers. I have a unique perspective since I not only share in churches but also direct a support based ministry. I regularly hear of people’s plans to give or to serve; and I regularly find myself waiting and wondering if they are going to act upon those promises. I regularly hear believers talk of their plans to do great things for the Lord, only to come up with excuses for inactivity.

In basketball once the ball is in your hands there is a 5-second rule, instituted to keep a continuous flow to the game. Basically you only have 5-seconds once the ball is in your hands to create some action (either taking the ball out or when closely guarded) by moving the basketball.

So back to the initial question: what is God calling you to do today? The “ball is in your court.” I will tell you something I tell my own kids: “Delayed obedience is disobedience!” It is time to do something with “the ball”!

James 4:17 Therefore, to him that knows to do good and does not do it, to him it is sin.

Here is an added bonus from Clay Burden (InBounds Ambassador) who is leaving for the Dominican Republic tomorrow: “’Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.’ (Joshua 1:9 NIV) Thank you Brad Hamersley For the verse this morning! I truly believe that God called me to the Dominican so like the verse said I need to "be strong and courageous". Thank you everyone for the support and prayers! My prayer today is that someone is debating on doing something bold for The Lord and sees this verse!! Be strong everyone and know god is with you!”

Monday, August 19, 2013

August 19, 2013 - Move Those Chains

“Excellence is the gradual result of always striving to do better.” Pat Riley
“Champions keep playing until they get it right.” Billie Jean King

One thing I often remind players is that they should always strive to leave the gym as better players than they entered the gym… Being one’s best demands growth and commitment…

Often when I am preaching in a Sunday service I remind folks that we need to leave changed – in other words experience growth and greater commitment…

I would never tell athletes, “if you’ll train once a week you will achieve greatness.” Yet that is what many rely on for spiritual growth… (and on top of that it is an hour in which most simply sit back and listen instead of being actively engaged.)

Simple questions today:

Have you had any time alone with God today? Have you been in His transforming Word?
Have you actively sought opportunities to serve others (and in doing so serve Jesus)?
Have you taken a look in the “mirror” to determine if you are growing?

I read a great analogy on the FCA Relentless devotional on YouVersion… It described this idea in football terms. (Fitting for the beginning of football season)

The writer, Jimmy Page from Wisdom Walk Sports, challenged us to “move those chains!” In other words let’s make sure we turn our shoulders up field; churn up some turf; and gain some yardage! If you are staying still or moving backwards there is a problem…

Colossians 1:For this reason we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding; 10 that you may walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing Him, being fruitful in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God;11 strengthened with all might, according to His glorious power, for all patience and longsuffering with joy;12 giving thanks to the Father who has qualified us to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in the light.13 He has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love,14 in whom we have redemption through His blood,  the forgiveness of sins.

Monday, August 12, 2013

August 12, 2013 - Relentless (I'd Run Through A Wall For You!)

I love it when the Lord pounds home a truth by having a common theme running through His servants…

This week as I vacation with the family we attended church in southern Florida; this morning I had my usual morning “Time Out w/ God” and then signed up for a 31-day devotional that FCA has put out called “Relentless” (Day 1 is really good); and all summer I have been hearing from and teaching a basic Biblical truth:

What motivates you to be your best?  What motivates you to serve God even in the midst of hard times?

As a coach I am reflecting on players that always brought a smile to my face – the guys that maybe were not the best skill players I have coached but had the heart/motivation to give their best. I think of a guy named Jon Sperling in Indiana: I picture him running out the back door of the gym in practices to puke and then returning for the next sprint we were running. I picture a guy in NC named Kevin Lamm who would regularly volunteer to guard the other team’s biggest, baddest player (even though Kevin is not a big guy in basketball terms.) These are guys that would try to run through a wall for their team and for their coach. They were not motivated by the scoreboard or by end of the year awards. They maintained the same maximum intensity when we were winning or when we were losing (sometimes losing big!) These guys were “relentless.”

These guys are examples of true team players. They cared about their team; they cared about their coach. I’d like to think it is partly because they know their coach cared about them. You see the reality is that I would try to run through a wall for them (and still would to this day.) I regularly teach about the fact that a coach is always on his team’s side – always wanting the best for them!

I then relate that to God and the fact that He is on our side! That is the message I heard yesterday in church and this morning in the FCA Relentless Devotion:

2 Corinthians 5:14 “For the love of Christ compels us…” That passage goes on to talk about our service to God. Verse 15 says “…that those who live should live no longer for themselves, but for Him who died for them and rose again.”

So back to the question of what motivates you… Are you a good team player? Are you willing to even face obstacles with the same relentless zeal to serve God?

God, today I vow to serve You in spite of what the scoreboard might say! You have loved me with an undeserved (and unfailing) love! I can’t ignore it; just tell me what You want me to do… even what You want me to run through! I will be relentless!

For the FCA Relentless Devotion Plan go to and search for it on the “Plans” tab…

Monday, August 5, 2013

August 5, 2013 - Road Games (There's no place like home)

This summer has been extraordinarily rough as far as travel is concerned. In the past 8 weeks I have traveled over 8,000 miles and slept on sleeping bags, cots, bunks, etc. And the summer is not over; there are still a couple thousand more miles to go over the next 3 weeks…

I’m not complaining! This has given me an opportunity/blessing of being able to share the Gospel with many… and to see many say “Yes” to Christ as their personal Substitute (Savior)!!!!! I have had the opportunity/blessing of teaching/sharing the Word of God (His Playbook) with those traveling with me and seeing their minds/lives transformed!!!!!

In the sports world it is said that it is good to have a “home court advantage”; I do agree that the travels cause me to appreciate my own bed… but in reality for us as believers, there is no “home court” this side of Heaven. We are now “citizens” of Heaven, “members of the household of God.” (See Ephesians 2:19) We are “strangers and pilgrims on the earth.” (See Hebrews 11:13)

These thoughts were prompted by my own schedule; the fact that my oldest son is moving away for 9 months; and from a post on Facebook from a friend that is presently in Costa Rica with her family and will then move to the Dominican Republic as missionaries… She was admitting to some homesickness and reflecting on the places she has called “home.” Her conclusion was that this fallen, sinful world is temporary and her comfort is in the eternal…

Yes it is hard to live in the hostile environment of opposing “gyms”; but remember our hope for the future… and remember that we may be “on the road” but we have a “home crowd” cheering us along…

“…since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us.” (Hebrews 12:1)

Is the road at times hard? Yes
Do I grow tired? Yes
Will I stop? No; too much to do before my time is through! I’m gonna bust it until I hear the buzzer sound!

What about you?

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Clay Burden - InBounds Ministries Ambassador to the Dominican Republic

Clay is preparing to leave for his GAP year in the Dominican Republic! (Flight is August 27)
He will be in a missions-immersion program while also extensively studying Spanish and Bible...
We at InBounds are so excited as he is our first recipient of the Ambassador Scholarship...
I am excited as my oldest child is busy about the Lord's work...

Clay with his dear friend Sarah
at a recent outreach in St Louis
Please be in regular prayer for him in his outreach and his studies... Pray for God to be molding him into the man he wants to be... Pray for his finances to not be a concern... Pray for direction for when he returns home (since he will not be here visiting colleges)... Pray for full healing of his knee that has been such a thorn in the flesh... Pray for his momma (and daddy) who will have their oldest living overseas...

How you can help beyond your prayers...

Although most of his GAP costs have been raised (praise the Lord), there is still some of that bill to get covered...
There is still one round-trip ticket that will need to be purchased for second semester....
Plus we are trying to keep his monthly support at simply $5 per day (his main meals are covered in GAP costs)...

Therefore we are still raising finances (around $2500 more)... which can be sent through InBounds Ministries via the donate tab on this blog or via hard mail to 452 Patterson St Troutman, NC 28166 - just earmark it for Clay... (If you intend to give toward these needs please let me know; that allows me to plan our fundraising efforts more effectively.)

Some have also expressed a desire to send care packages to Clay. I know he will greatly appreciate that... yet the mail in the DR is not dependable. Therefore if you plan to send a care package please contact me for instructions and I will set you up to mail it to the SCORE Int'l offices and they will have a team deliver it for you... therefore letters are better via internet.

Clay, it's time to Go MAD young fella! (Go Make A Difference!)