Monday, March 25, 2013

March 25, 2013 - Learning To Take The Hits

Last week the devotion was very straight forward in making a guarantee to us as believers… yet usually when we hear talk of guarantees we think about the promise to win or conquer an opponent. This one was different, it was actually a guarantee that we will face difficult times, (or as I put it last week, we will take hits when we go into the paint…”)

Last week’s moral was very similar to a message one of our star players received a few years ago when playing a particularly strong, large team. Our player was extremely athletic and used to somewhat having his way with opponents due to his size, speed, and leaping ability; yet this game was different, the other team was just as athletic and even bigger. (This is a problem many high school stars face when entering the college game; they are no longer able to just overwhelm opponents athletically.) Anyway, our player drove the lane early in the game and threw down a tremendous dunk. Dunks are great motivators due to the excitement factor; yet when playing a strong opponent it can also motivate them to say, “You are not going to get away with that again.” In the huddle our player was warned that the next time he goes down the lane like that he would probably get planted on his back side… and sure enough the next time he went in the paint he was rudely greeted by the opponent and failed to get anywhere close to the rim…

Last week I touched on the idea that we need to “finish strong.” Yet that is easier said than done.

In hoops this involves preparation physically and mentally. Players have to hit the weight room in the off-season; they have to add body mass to go from the typical high school frame to that of the college game; they have to go as far as practicing taking hits… (Yes, I admit I love those drills as a coach when I get to take out the blocking pads and over and over pop the players.)

Fans often expect coaches to magically fix their teams problems during games. Yet the reality is that in a huddle a coach cannot truly prepare his players. The young man I mentioned before was warned so he wasn’t surprised by the contact he encountered; but he wasn’t prepared. I heard former coach Dino Guadio say it this way, “Telling isn’t teaching.” Teaching involves time and preparation. It involves showing the players what to expect. (That is why we get out the blocking pads… did I mention I love using those?)

Spiritually the same philosophy holds true. “Telling is not teaching.” I am all for teaching. I love to preach! I love to teach! But I have learned my best “teaching” takes place “on the court” not “in the huddle.”

I have been asked in the past what discipleship programs I think are best. The ones that ask that question want me to tell them what book study to do. (Well first of all I can start with the Bible being the only book that is the living Word and can transform us – so start with Scripture memorization.) Yet Biblical discipleship is not relegated to a classroom or small group in a home one hour a week…

Jesus’ example was to tell the disciples “go with Me; and when I am gone do what I did.” It involved time and commitment. It involved being “on the court” to learn how to take the hits. It involved the blood, sweat, and tears of a committed “player.” It was not just telling, it was showing!

All of this to challenge each of you: if you think your growth is going to come by just sitting in the “huddle” of a small group or Sunday service you are sadly mistaken. We need the direction of those times. But we also need to be in action “on the court.”

Are you actively serving anywhere? Are you stepping out of your comfort zone so you can learn to “take the hits”? Do you have a mentor/coach/discipler that you are following into action?

Jesus took the disciples on His journey; Barnabas took Paul; Barnabas then took John Mark; Paul then became the coach and took Silas and Timothy… etc.

In Acts 16 we read that Paul “wanted” Timothy to “go on with him.” Discipleship involves time and commitment in order to teach “players how to take the hits in the lane.”

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