Monday, May 27, 2013

May 27, 2013 - The Measure of a Team

What is the real meaning of “Team”? I know there is a lot of ink given to this word; with probably the most common being the acronym Together Everyone Achieves More… I do realize that to be true and have even written devotions using it…

But this week I want to point out something different about the concept of what a team is; I want to avoid the trap of only focusing on success and achievement. Coaches tend to discuss “team” with the focus on winning games and championships and I fully understand that (after all the reason we lace them up is to strive for victory.) Yet the reality of sports is that sometimes the opposing group of players is simply better. They may be more skilled; they may be bigger, stronger, and faster; and I’m here to tell you that if your concept of “team” is designed with winning on the scoreboard as the only objective, there will be times that you are greatly disappointed.

I actually think it is easier to see true “teams” when the scoreboard is not in one’s favor. Everyone can get along when things are going good; but what about when they are bad (or maybe even when they are really bad – or in some cases really, really bad)? Are players pointing fingers at each other? Fighting amongst each other? Laying blame on each other (or maybe the coach)? Arguing? Screaming? Fighting?

Hold on, that is starting to sound like some peoples’ homes… I’ll confess the thoughts for this week came from a sermon our pastor did yesterday about “creating a healthy home-life.” As he went through the basic points he got to one that really jumped out at me; (he even mentioned Coach Valvano) he said “Never give up.”

The reality is that both sports and life will have their share of “troubled waters.” There will be times that we are “getting pounded on the scoreboard.” At times it will feel like a battle and you have to be committed to one another to stick it out…

1 Corinthians 13:7 says that “love... bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things” – sticks with it; doesn’t abandon; stays focused on the goal…

Galatians 6:9 says we should never “get tired of doing what is right” – not get “discouraged” – not “give up”!

I know the phrase “there is no ‘I’ in TEAM”… yet that is a concept that is only partially true. If “I” am part of a team (family) – “I” absolutely have responsibilities, a part to play. My teammates (family members) are relying on me to do my part. “I” have to be committed to the goal through thick and thin. “I” have to be committed to the best for my teammates (family) in spite of the scoreboard (circumstances.)

One of the greatest pictures of “team” is our service men and women! They go into battle and when under heavy fire and extreme hardships will continue pointing at the enemy; staying focused on the mission; event o the point of the ultimate sacrifice of death… I am thankful for their example and their sacrifice – Happy Memorial Day!

Are you committed to the team? For better or worse, till death do you part…?

Monday, May 20, 2013

Learning from my Gurus: Rick Lewis, John Wooden, and JESUS!

“Don’t confuse your path with your destination. Just because its stormy now doesn’t mean you aren’t headed for sunshine.” (Hoops Guru Rick Lewis)

I love reading the tweets of my good friend Rick Lewis. Daily he has valuable insight into not just the

Phenom hoops world but also the journey of life. Today was no exception as he reminded his “followers” to stay the course to their destination… to keep one’s eyes on the goal! There is “sunshine” but you must stay “headed” toward it…

To find success in anything in life we have to have a goal-oriented mentality. If we take our eyes off the goal then the “stormy” weather Rick mentioned will knock us off course…John Wooden said it this way, “Set your compass in a chosen direction and then focus your attention and efforts completely on the journey of preparation.”

This journey will have hardships (“storms”) and the correct path is one of hard work and determination (not one of shortcuts to try to avoid the storms.) The old phrase is: “the dictionary is the only place that success comes before work…” And to be honest with you, any “shortcut” one takes to get there will only result in temporary fulfillment. Lasting fulfillment is the result of blood, sweat, and tears – knowing one did the work and put in the time!

The Bible has the same advice for a successful life journey…

1 Therefore we also, 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, 2 looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith… (Hebrews 12)

17 Bread gained by deceit is sweet to a man, but afterward his mouth will be filled with gravel. (Proverbs 20)

62 Jesus said, “No procrastination. No backwards looks. You can’t put God’s kingdom off till tomorrow. Seize the day.” (Luke 9 – the Message)

Do you see it? Get rid of things that will knock you off course or slow you down, and stay focused on the “Sonshine.” Be a man or woman of strong character with a strong work ethic!

Monday, May 13, 2013

May 13, 2013 - This devotion will mean nothing if you are not pursuing something!

As I spent time in the Proverbs this morning, I was reminded of a great and simple truth (one that I am sure I have written about in the past during these weekly devotions.) It is a simple yet vital truth to successful living…

Before I simply post the verse that caught my eye again, I want to ask a few questions of you …

Are you in training? This can be a sports question, a fitness question, an academic question, or even a spiritual question. Simply put, this devotion will mean nothing if you are not pursuing something! This devotion will mean nothing if you are not desiring to grow! This is for those that long to be transformed…

“If I am through learning, I am through.” John Wooden

Do you have a training partner(s)? Simply put here we need accountability and encouragement in order to stay the course!

And the main question (if you answered in the affirmative to the first 2 questions) is: What type of partner(s) are you surrounding yourself with? Is it someone that has similar goals to you? Someone that will encourage you? Someone that will rebuke you? Someone that will push you?

Now we get to the main point this week: If you hang out with knuckleheads you are not going to accomplish much! Be careful who you surround yourself with! Find those that will pursue greatness with you… (and mostly I am referring to spiritual transformation.)

Proverbs 13:20 He who walks with wise men will be wise, but the companion of fools will be destroyed.

Monday, May 6, 2013

May 6, 2013 - “I’m about to do some work!”

“I’m about to do some work!”

I hear players make remarks like this often. Most of the time this is stated when getting ready to play a game; it is a bunch of guys trying to pump each other up and sound confident. To be honest it usually is just a bunch of chatter to me. There is an old phrase that said, “Talk is cheap!”

You see I believe the “work” is done when the spotlight isn’t on; I believe the “work” is done without the roar of the crowd; I believe the “work” is done well before game time… and then the game is “fun.”

It is really not hard to get someone to play hard in front of a crowd; It is not hard to get a player pumped up for a game; during game time “everyone has the will to win.” (Bob Knight)

Yet Bob Knight completed the last quote by saying, “not everyone has the will to prepare to win.”  [Yes I have used this quote before in the weekly devotions; but it is too good not to bring up again.]

Those that rise to the top of the rankings in their sport - those that rise to the top of their profession – those that rise to the top of their class academically – all have something in common: Devotion/Commitment! They do “work” before game time…

I know there are exceptions at the youth level of sports (where a 12 yr old is already 6’5” and dominating the competition – therefore doesn’t have to work hard); or maybe the student that breezes through elementary or maybe even high school – but trust me, eventually those that are devoted rise to the top!

And you know what? The same is true spiritually! Some of you are now trying to get doctrinal on me and point out the “work” of the Spirit in this area. Please note I agree the Spirit is who empowers and enlightens; yet the Scriptures are clear that we are to be devoted/committed!

“Instead, I devoted myself to the construction of the wall, and all my subordinates were gathered there for the work...” (Nehemiah 5:16) HCSB

“If only my ways were committed to keeping your statutes!” (Psalm 119:5) HCSB

“’…I will bring him near and he will come close to me-for who is he who will devote himself to be close to me’ declares the Lord?” (Jeremiah 30:21) NIV

“This saying is trustworthy. I want you to insist on these things, so that those who have believed God might be careful to devote themselves to good works. These are good and profitable for everyone.” (Titus 3:8) HCSB

“I’m about to do some work!”