Thursday, February 28, 2013

March M.A.D.ness - Brother, can you spare a "dime"?

Tomorrow we embark on InBounds Ministries March M.A.D.ness...
InBounds has been faithful in sharing the Gospel (the message of the Substitute God sent into the game of life for us) and teaching God’s Word (The Playbook) for over 15 years; we continue to see many trust in Christ and are truly building up disciples! (Lisa and I have been “full-time vocational status” as missionaries with InBounds for 6 years…; We now have another coach (Jon Morrow) that has answered God’s call to pursue “full-time vocational status”; And we have others heading to the mission field through our planned trips and Clay Burden heading overseas for 9 months [leaving this coming August] as well.)

March M.A.D.ness is our annual call to encourage each of you to help us Make A Difference

One of the most difficult things about being a non-profit ministry is the finances. Finances are necessary to fulfill the plan, yet awkward to discuss. As the founder/director of InBounds it is definitely my least favorite part of the “job.” Therefore my hope each year is to eliminate as much of the need to discuss this as possible. The Month of March is designated by our board as the time to focus on these needs so that in theory we can spend more time focused on ministry the rest of the year… Simply put we need your assistance.

There are personnel needs… My contracted salary is kept as low as possible (with Lisa and I picking up whatever part-time jobs we can.) We have another missionary now beginning his raising of support and I asked him to set a goal that meets his minimum needs. My son Clay will be serving as one of our InBounds Ambassadors in the Dominican Republic from August until May of 2014 and needs to raise a minimum of $10000… and then there are many young people we work with that would love to join us on our ROCK’em Road Trips and could use scholarship help .

There are travel needs… When April hits I will begin a 5-month stretch where I will cover over 15,000 miles. During this time my focus needs to be on sharing God’s truths, not raising funds. We also try to make sure that we cover the travel needs of coaches/volunteers that travel with us. (And honestly I like at times for Lisa and kids to travel as well.)

There are operating expense needs… This includes vehicle maintenance, insurance, products, literature, etc.

I ask the board each year to approve a budget that I can honestly say is as basic as I can make it. We do not want to spend needlessly; we do not need to stay in the finest hotels (in fact we often pitch a tent); we do not to eat in the nicest establishments (Peter Pan peanut butter tubs from SAM’s Club go a long way…); but we do need to be able to go share the Gospel!

In basketball an assist is often times referred to as a “dime.”
Brother, can you spare a “dime”?

We are in need.

·         May I ask you to pray about helping to meet those needs?

·         Would you consider being a part of our Booster Club via a one-time gift or possibly even a commitment to monthly support?

·         Would you answer our Loose Ball Challenge that asks you to place your loose change in a bucket for us?

·         Could you get your church or small group to offer our Take the Shot Challenge where we ask people simply to give $1, $2, or $3 to our work?

·         Would you consider designating support for our newest missionary Jonathan Morrow?

·         Would you consider designating support for Clay Burden and his GAP year in the Dominican?

·         If not InBounds would you at least take the challenge to give to a worthy Gospel-preaching, Bible-teaching ministry?

You see I cannot tell you where you should give of your finances but I have no problem telling you that God does want you to support ministry!

If you are interested in learning more about how you can support InBounds Ministries (or specifically about one of our challenges) please contact me at

I am praying for a miraculous March M.A.D.ness! We are Making A Difference; would you join us?

Monday, February 25, 2013

February 25, 2013 - Getting Your Opponent's Attention

I remember years ago when my son was playing in a middle school basketball tourney. Opening night he posted some big numbers for scoring and assists. He really looked good; not only to me but also to the coach of the team they would be facing the next day. I congratulated my son on his game and followed it up with the following warning: “You will have to be ready tomorrow because the team will probably play a box-and -1 on you…”

As a player there is not much more frustrating, nor more flattering than when an opposing coach decides you warrant a box-and-1 defense. For those of you that are not basketball folks, a box-and-1 defense is a non-traditional (or junk) defense that involves the opposing team making a choice to cover one guy with a man-to-man coverage while the rest of their team plays a zone. The opposition is essence stating “Your best player isn’t going to beat us tonight.” (

This is frustrating because it means that you are a marked man. You know that there will be someone getting after you all night long! Yet it is flattering because this means you have caught their attention.

Let’s face it we all love attention, be it in the sports world, entertainment, education, love, etc…
“Call me an artist because I draw attention.” (Unknown)
“Be so good they can’t ignore you.” (Steve Martin)

Yet spiritually speaking that attention can definitely be frustrating. I think there can be a great case made for the fact that the more success you face spiritually (the more noise you are making) the more the enemy is going to mark you!

At the end of Matthew 3 we read the account of Jesus’ baptism; chapter 4 verse 1 begins with the following statement: “Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil.” In other words we see that following great spiritual experiences we are prone to temptation… I am not sure about you but my life is full of examples on this. It seems that the greater the spiritual mountain top, the greater the potential fall…

We also see from this account in the Scriptures that the enemy will attack when we start new ventures. Satan was not only attacking immediately following the baptism but also at the onset of Christ’s public ministry. In chapter 4 verse 17 it states that “from that time Jesus began to preach… has an article that asks the question “Does Satan attack all Christians equally?” There is a great quote in that article from 400 years ago when a preacher named Richard Baxter made this statement: ‘“…take heed to yourselves because the tempter will make his first and sharpest assault on you…He bears the greatest malice against the man who is engaged in working the greatest damage against him.' In other words to the degree that you are making a dent in Satan’s kingdom, he wants to make a dent in your head.”

So here is your encouragement: it is so cool to be a difference maker and get the enemy’s attention!
And here is your warning: he will attack!

I don’t know about you but I want Satan to feel like he has to go box-and-1 on me!

Monday, February 18, 2013

February 18, 2013 - Good Not Great

What makes a player great? I have often heard a player described as “good-not-great.” So what helps someone get over that threshold?

Obviously each of us would like to be great at what we do. In the sports world there is a constant debate of who is the G.O.A.T. (greatest of all time.) [Presently the debate is going on in the NBA to determine if it is possible for LeBron to supplant MJ with that title.]

What is funny is that this topic came to my mind while looking at one of my kid’s progress reports from school. It showed the grades so far in this period for Honors English. There were 6 grades listed to date… 5 of them were 100’s. Yet the overall grade was just an 83, good-but- not-great! The difference was that my son “took a play off” and had a 0 on the other grade…

The greats in any sport are the ones that don’t take a day, or a play, off… they want to win every play – not just the game! They play offense and defense with utmost intensity.

As Christians I fear we are sometimes content to know that in the end we win; and as a result “take too many days/plays off.” We too often forget that we are in a battle called life and that we are warned to not grow complacent.

Ephesians 6:10-20 tells us to “put on the full armor of God so we can take our stand”; it tells us to “be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.”  [Read this passage!]

Folks, we are in a battle and I need your prayers; you need my prayers… Let’s play hard and pray hard!!!

Pray hard and long…Keep your eyes open… Ephesians 6:18 (The Message)

Monday, February 11, 2013

February 11, 2013 - Coach Blows It: Part II

There are certain weeks that I must admit that sitting down to write the weekly devotion is a challenge. Sometimes it is due to my own fatigue or maybe even a just a day where ideas are not coming to me and the well seems dry. I am always looking for inspiration from the sports world to turn into teachable moments. Then there are other times the weekly devotion is difficult because I find inspiration from my own shortcomings and get flooded with ideas, often times too many to utilize in a single blog entry.

Late last week I started jotting down some notes for this week’s devotion. I even shared them with Coach Jon as we sat at lunch Friday. I had been listening to the radio on my way to that lunch and heard the DJ talking about staying focused on Christ. Obviously a very common theme in Christian circles…

I immediately started thinking about when I teach shooting on the basketball court. I go step-by-step with the student to teach proper alignment… we want everything pointed at the goal. We discuss feet being pointed at the rim; hips and shoulders in alignment; elbow on the shooting arm in line; straight follow through; and even discussion about training the eyes to stay focused on the rim. (When shots are missed to the right or left it is usually very easy to see what went out of line.)

We discuss what (good shots) vs. (bad shots)…. This goes in detail about staying within one’s range; taking shots that are within the flow of the game; but most importantly making sure you are lined up properly and in rhythm before you take the shot.

I love the passage in Hebrews 12 where we are reminded to “fix our eyes Jesus” (vs. 2)… in other words, stay properly aligned.

Well today brings me to that point where my mind is flooded. Yes I had those ideas for the devotion on Friday, but if I am going to be totally honest I was fighting the pressures of life and had been in a horrible mood throughout the week (and probably longer.) You see it is very easy for even those in ministry to “take bad shots.”

Due to the nature of our job/calling we are often lined up with our feet, hips, shoulders, etc. pointed at the “goal”; yet that can easily take place while fixing our eyes on a different target (usually ourselves.) And the result is “bad shots” that hurt the “team.”

While busy with the work of ministry this past week I still made a total butt-hole of myself to my family due to fixing my eyes on myself, which in turn created a lack of being loving (you know the kindness and patience thing) and instead being a complete jerk.

I was reminded of so many past devotions I have written for these blogs. I remembered writing in 2002 about holiness, only to write a short time later a blog entitled “Coach Blows It.” Well welcome to “Coach Blows It – Part II.”

Please don’t take that to mean it has taken me 11 years to mess up again. I far too often am a man that lets his flesh dictate his attitude and becomes short-tempered and irritable. (Those that have known me for a long time know what a jerk I can be.) Yet certain “bad shots” carry more consequences on the outcome of games. At times they are magnified when they obviously hurt the team.

It was really hard to sit through a reading of 1 Corinthians 13 yesterday in church. With Valentine’s Day on the way obviously love was a big topic. Over and over Pastor Joel “pointed his finger at me” and stated that if I am impatient I am not loving; if I am selfish I am not loving; etc. And at the same time I could “hear” my family saying “Yep, that’s my dad/husband!”

No I didn't outwardly hear those things; nor did Joel literally point his finger at me… but there is still a thing called conviction that takes place in our lives if we will hear from the Scriptures.

Maybe today you are like me in that you keep proper alignment on the things you are doing but have taken your eyes off the goal. If we continue to fix our eyes on Jesus I guarantee that we will see others differently; and stop looking so much at ourselves.

To my family, I am very sorry for falling so short. I do love you all dearly and would rather die than hurt you in any way. I am trying to refocus more on the goal!

To everyone else reading this, I hope and pray you will get properly aligned not just in what you do but in how you love!

(1 Corinthians 13:8) Love never fails!

Monday, February 4, 2013

February 4, 2013 - Super Sunday

Yesterday was Super Bowl Sunday and we witnessed the end to another NFL season. The crowning achievement for players is winning the Lombardi Trophy and putting a championship ring on the finger…

That led us yesterday in our Super Sunday church services to ask the question, “What is true success?” This fit in nicely with the challenges I have been giving the youth on Sunday nights to set the bar higher, to strive to achieve more, etc.

In the midst of preparing for yesterday’s services Pastor Joel invited a former Super Bowl champion (1992 Dallas Cowboys), Vinson Smith, to meet with the pastoral staff during the week to be interviewed about his experiences. Vinson agreed and gave some great on-camera answers that fed into great spiritual lessons…

Me and Vinson Smith
He talked of his love for Christ; his love for his mom; his joy in graduating college (which he ranked higher than winning the Super Bowl); his team’s work ethic and camaraderie; and yes the amazing feeling of winning the big game: all great and inspirational lessons.

Yet a statement he made off-camera greatly caught my attention and also made it into both Joel’s and my messages yesterday. When discussing his teammates he stated that winning the Super Bowl changed each player’s life. Then he hit the real attention grabber by stating that some of the changes were for the good but most for the bad. What most would consider “success” actually led to moral failure in many of his teammates. Maybe winning the Super Bowl was only a measure of football success and not necessarily a measure of success in life?

When Vinson mentioned the most amazing person he knew he talked of his mom, not of the great players he played beside (such as Troy Aikman, Emmitt Smith, Michael Irvin, etc.) He talked of a person that truly made a difference in his life and didn’t just win trophies with him. He talked of a person that was the reason he wanted “to grow up and be a man and be a good one.” He talked of a lady that he called his “greatest inspiration.” To me this lady sounds more like a life success…

Today I had the privilege of joining in the celebration of the life of my dear friend Rick Lewis’ mom, Marjie. She passed away this last Friday and I was honored to hear person after person account for a lady that loved the Lord; a lady that loved others; a lady that volunteered to help others; a lady that was a great wife and mother. To me this lady sounds like more like a life of success…

Just last night I encouraged a group of youth to contemplate how important the dash between the numbers on their tombstone will be; it represents a life… What will people say when we are gone?

The older I get the more I realize that success is not measured truly by bank accounts and trophies; but instead by loving God and loving others! (See Matthew 22:37-38)

The older I get the more I realize that the world’s idea of success or the lack of success can often be a distraction or a hindrance to honoring God. I want a life of balance. (See Proverbs 30:7-9)

And by the way - even if you could take it with you, the trophies/rings would just be melted down into pavement…