Monday, January 28, 2013

January 28, 2013 - Get in the game and get busy!

We often hear talk or read opinions of the Most Valuable Player of a team or a league. Obviously that talk now is about who the NFL MVP; and discussions underway at the halfway point of the NBA season as to who the guy; and discussions about college basketball’s Player of the Year…

These debates always lead to discussion about the criteria for choosing the MVP; is it the guy with the best offensive stats? Should a defensive specialist be considered? Is it the guy that is most indispensable to his team? Is it the guy that leads his team to a title?

I have my opinions as well and it is fine for we as the fans to praise players; just not right as a player to seek that praise – instead just play hard and be valuable to your team!

Proverbs 27:2 Let another man praise you, and not your own mouth; a stranger, and not your own lips.

Not only is it a good time of the year to be reminded about MVP races, but it is also a good time of the week (Mondays) for me to get inspiration for devotions from Sunday messages… Yesterday as our pastor finished up a series encouraging us to “Get Fit” (spiritually), he encouraged us to “weigh in” as a church and as individuals. His big idea came down to what I felt was a very relevant question for all of us to ask:

When I am gone, will I be missed? In other words, am I making a difference? Am I leaving a mark on my world? Am I reaching people with love and truth? Am I truly valuable to those around me?

There is much ink in the Scriptures reminding us that we are all part of the team – “one body” – and need to play our part. (See Romans 12 and 1 Corinthians 12) Are you serving in your role – doing your part?

1 John 3:18 tells us this: My dear children, let’s not just talk about love; let’s practice real love. (The Message)

It is time to be a difference maker on the “court” of life!

Get in the game and get busy!

Monday, January 21, 2013

January 21, 2012 - Avoid Mental Flabbiness

I spent this past weekend up on a mountain getting some rest. There was no cell coverage, no internet, not even a TV… For some this would drive them crazy. We live in a noisy world.

I really think that fans do an opposing player a favor when they make a bunch of noise during a free throw. The player at the line is probably more comfortable in the noise instead of in the quiet. (Yet the great free throw shooters are those that have a “quiet” routine that takes them into their own world.)

In our spiritual growth we need to find comfort in the “quiet.” We need to learn to “be still and know that He is God.” (Psalm 46:10) That word “still” literally means to cease or relax… This verse is in the context of verses describing roaring waters, quakes, wars, etc. Yet God is called our “refuge” in verse 1.

I read through a book over the weekend (Gordon MacDonald’s Ordering Your Private World) that was my best friend’s favorite book when we were college-age. It is a great reminder of our need to make sure that the inner man is under control in order to avoid the collapse of the outer man.

MacDonald encourages us to learn to use our time wisely; to increase in wisdom and knowledge by making times for the study of God’s Word and other great books; to make sure we carve out time for prayer; etc.

He likened us unto athletes in need of endurance. He told a story of his days in track when he had to face a runner that had beaten him badly on a couple of occasions in the 100 yard dash. Yet the meet he wrote about had them facing off against each other in the first leg of the 1-mile relay (a 440 yard run.)

The young man that had been so dominant in the 100 made the following remark to MacDonald : “MacDonald, may the best man win; I’ll be waiting for you at the finish line.”

MacDonald admits that he was a bit taken off his game by the remark and was feeling like he very well may be fighting for second place in the first leg of the race… Then MacDonald made the following point: “Athletic talent is of little consequence unless it is matched with athletic endurance.”  The young man that was so dominant in the 100 ran out of gas well before reaching the 440 yard mark to hand off the baton… MacDonald went on to say, “The man from Poly Prep was a better runner, but he lost. He lost because 100 yards of talent is not good enough for 440 yards of race.”

I join with Gordon MacDonald in urging us to avoid “mental flabbiness” and encourage us to get spiritually fit this year. It is time to make time for God. Eat of His Word; drink in some good books; make time to spend time with God!

I hope to head up the mountain again soon and continue working on my “quiet” routine.

Monday, January 14, 2013

January 14, 2012 - Are You Coachable?

We are now into our 12th year of weekly sports devotions; I am sure I have hit many topics multiple times…. Yet there are just some core values that have to be in place for an athlete to be successful (physically and spiritually.) And after a couple of weeks of reminders about resolutions and standing strong in the Lord, I feel again that some fundamentals are in order…

One of the most basic, fundamental attributes I have found in being a great athlete and in being a God-honoring believer is that of being coachable. Do you trust that the coach has your best interests in mind? I have said it in preaching, I have said it in locker rooms, I have said it in my living room: “(As a minister, as a coach, as a parent) I am on your side and only have your best interests at heart!”

I was reminded again of this last night as I spoke to my over-tired, emotional 7 yr old who didn’t understand why she had to go to bed before her siblings. With tears in her eyes she explained to us how she had been going to bed early since kindergarten… I had to remind her what mommy’s and daddy’s roles are in her life; that we are responsible to look out for what is good for her. Yet then the ball is back in her court on if she is going to truly trust that.

I don’t know what you are going through this week. I know in our home there have been many things popping up lately that have been difficult. (So this devotion is for me as well as you.) But I do know this: I don’t know what the future holds but I know who holds the future!”

Today I choose to trust that God has my back! And my front! And the sides! In other words, He’s got me covered… He’s got you covered!

Jeremiah 29:11 “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the LORD, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.

Coming soon: I plan to share with you an amazing account of God’s guiding hand in the midst of a storm; I am just waiting the confirmation of a few details and I promise you will see God actively at work in one of His children’s life! It will paint a picture of Romans 8:28 that will blow your mind!

Monday, January 7, 2013

January 7, 2013 - Will You Stand Alone?

With the new year we obviously see new plans. We look at the opportunity for new beginnings as an opportunity for improvement, gain, victory…

A great picture of this is the college football bowl season that surrounds New Year’s Day. Teams are anxious to show their might. They are anxious to impress future recruits. They are excited about the money that is coming into their program by appearing in a bowl game.

One example of this is the University of Florida Gators. They entered their bowl game on January 2 ranked third in the polls. Many analyst and computer models actually rated them even higher and stronger than Notre Dame, who happens to be #1 in the polls. The Gators wanted to prove their prowess. They wanted to make a statement that could raise their place in the final polls. They were playing the University of Louisville Cardinals. The Cardinals were ranked #21 in the polls and hoping to gain some more respect… Yet most analyst agreed that Florida would have no problem defeating Louisville and fulfilling their resolutions to establish themselves as one of the strongest teams in the nation.

Yet games are kind of funny; they don’t always follow a script. No matter how much planning and preparation goes in, the game still takes place between the lines! Louisville didn’t care about the polls and opinions. They simply came into the game against a premier team and steamrolled them. I didn’t watch the entire game but what I did see was Louisville domination.

Isn’t that a lot like life? You may have made a lot of plans and resolutions but life doesn’t always follow the script…

I genuinely planned to start walking/jogging some while on break in Florida. I am way out of shape and need to lose pounds desperately. Yet my plans did not allow for my back going out and spending the entire trip in pain. The fact is that sometimes we lose; sometimes life steamrolls us!

How do we handle those times? It is easy to have a good attitude when “winning”; when things are going the way we planned. But adversity is the real test.

In fact the Word promises we will face adversity.
-          It tells us this is where we grow  (James 1:2-3)
-          It tells us we can trust God in the midst of them (Romans 8:28)

The simple question I have for you this week is: “When adversity hits (and it will) will you stand? Will you resolve to honor God and trust Him in the midst… even if others refuse to stand?”

After the Florida/Louisville game a very moving scene took place. (At least it moved me when I read it.) Writer Graham Watson recorded the event, which I read on Yahoo news:
“At the end of Florida victories, the team usually sticks around to sing the alma mater with the band.
But after Wednesday’s embarrassing 33-23 loss to Louisville in the Sugar Bowl, most Florida players couldn’t get off the field fast enough while others went to find their friends and family in the stands.
But one player stayed to sing his last fight song of the season.
Junior linebacker Darrin Kitchens ran over to the band section, held his helmet high and proudly sang the fight song. It didn’t matter that he was the only one standing alone while his other teammates ignored his gesture…”

  H/T to @WHoltzman for the picture.