Monday, December 29, 2014

December 29, 2014 - MAD New Year!

I loved a story that our pastor shared last week in church; he talked about trading/selling baseball cards when he was a kid. In the story he shared about looking up what a card was worth in the Beckett’s card guide only to finds that it didn’t always agree with what someone was willing to pay for the card.
Moral of the story: Value is determined by what someone is willing to pay!

In a couple of days people will write out personal resolutions for the new year; most will revolve around ways to make one feel of more worth. They will be based upon how the person feels about himself… and often based upon what culture has determined will give one value.

May I remind you, as our pastor did us, that your value is determined by what someone is willing pay for you; and the God of the universe thought you worth His only begotten Son’s life! (John 3:16) That is where you will find meaning and purpose!
“Your significance is not based upon your successes but on your Savior!” (Pastor Matt Brooks, LifePoint Church)

I’m not saying that one should not make resolutions that improve health, etc. But if it is with the underlying thought that it will somehow add more worth/significance to your life then you are missing the big picture.

The Biblical picture of resolutions should bring us to focus on God and on others (you know the “love God… and your neighbor” commands from Jesus.) I did a graphic for some messages a couple years ago that stated that my resolutions were “i will focus on U!”

I want people to know that God loves them and that I love them. This is shown by what I am willing to “pay” to reach them. I want to invest in people… God did!

Will 2015 find you giving of your time and resources to let people know they matter? Invest in others! Go MAD! (Make A Difference)

MAD New Year!

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

December 22, 2014 - Breaking The Press

“City sidewalks, busy sidewalks… in the air there’s a feeling of CHRISTmas.”

I find it interesting that in the hustle and bustle of the CHRISTmas season even popular songs relate the “feeling of CHRISTmas” with “busy sidewalks.” This time of year is always full of traffic jams, heightened frustrations, and emptied bank accounts (which will lead to more frustrations.) Is that really the “feeling of CHRISTmas”?

Life seems to always be “played at a high pace”; but the holiday season seems to put it into a “full court press.” It gets us out of rhythm. We leave our driveways with every intention of just accomplishing our tasks and somehow end up caught up and flustered (and at times “committing turnovers” by blowing testimonies.)

As a coach when my team was being pressed I had to watch and see if my team was flustered. (The old Coach Wooden phrase: we wanted to be quick but not hurry.) We had gone over press-breakers to teach our guys where they should go and what they should do; but honestly when the other team was long, athletic, and active I often had to call timeout and try to calm the situation. I had to choose the right player to handle throwing the ball in; had to choose the right guys to be in position to receive the pass and then make good decisions. In the midst of all the chaos each player had to stay calm, seek out the teammate he was supposed to pass to, and make the right play…

The true “feelings of CHRISTmas” that we were promised are joy and peace! (Isn’t it funny that we sing “Silent night… all is calm” during our present day season?) These are not feelings that come from a new religion that calls for people to try to impress God; but instead from a God that “called timeout” (literally splitting the calendar) and sent His Son “into the game as the Substitute!”

My encouragement to you this season is to stay calm and seek Jesus! Let Him “break the press” for you! If you have never accepted His offer of joy and peace then Know that He came for you; He was born as the Savior to ultimately die to pay for your sin and rise again to offer you new life if you will simply place your faith in Him!

If you have trusted Him as your Savior do you realize that He brought you peace? You can rest this season in His promises.  Seek Him more than all the other stuff! Maybe take time to share His promises with others? Maybe talk more about His goodness and promises than you complain about traffic or money or unsaved people having the audacity to tell you Happy Holidays instead of Merry CHRISTmas… (Somehow their sentiment seems more joyful than demanding our rights????)

Yesterday our pastor reminded us that Jesus was born largely in obscurity. (I think of the old Truth song that said “there were no fanfares played, no jubilant display, isn’t it amazing how He came?) The shepherds, in the midst of the crazy and chaotic world, were invited to seek and meet Jesus. But the pastor reminded us of all those around that missed the event…

Don’t miss Jesus in the midst of the CHRISTmas season! Don’t let those around you miss Jesus during the CHRISTmas season!

Isaiah 55:6 Seek the Lord while He may be found. Seek Him while He is near.

Monday, December 15, 2014

December 15, 2014 - G.O.A.T.

I was just reading through some of the statistical categories for the NBA. It was triggered by seeing a headline about who the frontrunners are for the MVP (even though the season is only ¼ of the way through.) This is something every year that is debated by sports enthusiasts; each offering opinions on why one is good; usually followed by opinions as to why someone else’s choice is a bum. How silly fans are... as they tend to belittle other great players in order to build up their favorites.  (Of course it is not just the MVP race being debated; we also saw Kobe pass MJ on the all-time scoring list… sparking discussions of who the G.O.A.T. [greatest of all time is].)

Well I won’t waste weekly devotion time to debate the basketball MVP or  G.O.A.T. (even though I do know the correct answer to the MVP and the G.O.A.T.)… Instead we will look at life’s G.O.A.T…

All over the world there are religious opinions based upon religious leaders claiming to have the answers. Throughout the centuries mankind has expressed its view of God or the gods, and leaders have expressed their ideas of how to appease God or the gods.  Yet in a very dramatic change, a completely different message came forth a couple thousand years ago that literally divided time…

The Biblical message of the angel appearing to the shepherds is a drastic change in religious thought. Instead of a proclamation of what man must do, the angel proclaimed that God has come to be with us. (Immanuel = God with us) But this wasn’t a message of God visiting in order to crush man but instead it is God visiting, in the form of a baby, in order to bring peace and salvation.

Luke 2 tells us very clearly that the “good news” is the fact that God has saved the day! The G.O.A.T. is Jesus! He split time! He played a “perfect game”! He paid for sin on the cross of Calvary and rose again to offer new life – victory through His finished work.

I don’t care what you think about Kobe, MJ, or LeBron… it is ultimately what you do with this Jesus that matters! His identity is at the core of the Christian message. From the announcement to the shepherds that he is the Savior, the Messiah (Luke 2)… to Him coming to His own and only some receiving who He is (John 1)… to asking Peter who people say He is… all the way to Pilate asking who He truly is and dying due to His claim of deity, this is the core issue to believing in His finished work for salvation!

CHRISTmas is the celebration of the entrance of the Greatest Of All Time into the game of life. He came as a babe proving He is approachable… not just for an autograph but to be embraced! How about if we talk more about Him than our sports heroes during this CHRISTmas season (and beyond)? How about if we don’t just talk about Him but instead invite people to meet Him… just like the angel did to the shepherds? Remember it is “good news that shall be to all people!”

Merry CHRISTmas!

It's a special time of year when we get to celebrate the birth of our Savior. Immediately upon His birth the angel appeared to the shepherds and proclaimed salvation through Christ, the Messiah! The angels met Him and became witnesses of Him... we are continuing that evangelistic mission! Would you consider a gift to end the year that will help up propel us into the 2015 season?

Monday, December 8, 2014

December 8, 2014 - Playing In the Presence Of Royalty

Yesterday I was reading an ESPN story about LeBron James. This is a guy at the forefront of fame… known all over the world; and yet the story was about the fact that today he would be playing basketball in front of British Royalty (Prince William and Kate.) He went as far as stating that he hopes to “get the opportunity to interact with them a little bit.” How about that? King James wants an audience with Prince William…

Fast forward to tonight and as I read the recap of the Cavs victory over the Nets I noticed that the game was tied at 61 when the royal couple entered the arena; and at that point LeBron began “putting on a show” and Cleveland “cruised” to victory. James upped his game in the presence of royalty.

Last week I wrote about the lowly shepherds that went from “last pick to first” as the ones that God chose to introduce first to His Son. This week (as we continue in the CHRISTmas theme) I want to remind you that no matter where someone is on the social ladder, no one is bigger than God!

The CHRISTmas story (the Jesus story) is the Immanuel story (Matthew 1.) Immanuel means God with us… do you get that? The God of the universe chose to come mingle with us! Yet unlike most royalty, that visit was without fanfare and bright lights but instead humble and meager. He didn’t come to just sit courtside for our “game”; He entered “the game” and served us, even to the point of death on a cross! He provided a way for us to be royalty (King’s kids)!

I am beyond humbled to know that the King didn’t just watch me play to judge my worth but instead He gave me worth! He gave me an audience with Him and interacted with me. I belong to and am in the presence of Royalty. Therefore I want to “up my game” in honor to Him!

I hope you will pause today and think about the things we take for granted: Immanuel, God with us, is the very message that sets CHRISTianity apart from religions and allows us to be in a relationship! Many years ago I fell in love with a song written by Mark Harris. The group TRUTH sang it and then we covered it in our college group. The song always hit me hard emotionally, but especially so when I saw one of my dear friends, who was going through a very difficult time in the game of life, worshipping while listening to the song with tears rolling down his cheek. The lyrics put in perspective that fact that we should be in awe of Jesus this CHRISTmas season (and always.) Here are the lyric to Isn’t It Amazing How He Came:

Just To Think Such Royalty
Would Come The Way He Came
In A Dusty Little Town
Born In Such Humility Upon A Bed Of Hay
Certainly He Laid His Glory Down
Who Would Think This Little Child
Would Be The Promised One?
Would The Messiah Really Come This Way?
And Certainly This Was No Birthplace
For The Son Of God
Isn’t It Amazing How He Came?
Isn’t It Amazing The Way He Came?
No Crown, No Throne No Big Parade
There Were No Fanfares Played, No Jubilant Display
Isn’t It Amazing How He Came?
Isn’t It Amazing?
I Can’t Believe That I Would Be The Reason Why He Came
I Can’t Believe He Left His Mighty Throne
He Became A Pauper So That I Could Be A King
He Denied Himself And Then He Made My Heart His Home

Monday, December 1, 2014

December 1, 2014 - From Last Picked to First

Do you remember your younger days when everyone lined up in gym class or on the playground to choose teams? There was so much pride (arrogance) in being one of the first chosen; knowing that you were the one being counted on to deliver victory; knowing that you “da man.”

But think about those that were perpetually picked last… Can you imagine how they felt every time the teacher said to “line up?” It was a constant reminder that in the wide world of sports they were outcasts and screw-ups. They knew that most of the time it meant they would be standing around and never entrusted with the ball; and if given the ball they knew expectations were that they would turn it over. And in this world of misplaced priorities, that can sometimes cut to the core of a people’s identities – as though their self-worth is determined by their athletic prowess (or lack thereof.) Or their success (or lack thereof) in any endeavor for that matter… academics, the arts, looks, etc.

The reality is that we live in a culture which has based self-worth on the wrong things!

Let me go back a couple thousand years… at that time there were social norms that led to a very definite social class order. At the bottom of that social ladder were a group called shepherds. These people spent their time out in the fields protecting the flocks and basically only talking with each other. They were considered so low that when they did venture into town other people would not associate with them (including the religious leaders.) These folks had basically no worth in society and thus basically zero self-worth.

When it came time to announce the birth of the Savior, God the Father took a look at His line of people and went all the way to the end of the line… and chose some lowly shepherds as His first pick to hear about and meet Jesus! Are you getting this? The very ones that others neglected and ignored are the ones that God’s angel met with and made a promise to… a promise that was “good news to all people”; a promise of “a Savior”; a promise of “peace” and “good will.” (Read the story of the birth of Christ in Luke 2)

And the cool thing that happened is this… the shepherds found self-worth not in wins and losses but instead in the fact that God cared enough about them to approach them; in the fact that they had met the Savior; in the fact that their ultimate acceptance was not based upon what they accomplished but what would be accomplished through Jesus!

These “first picks” of God were so empowered by this truth that they went right back in the midst of all those that ignored and excluded them and became God’s spokespersons…  not based upon their own merits but instead on the attractive offer of peace and good will for men with God!

All of this to remind you that God loves you and wants to use you as His spokesperson. You matter to God! It is not based upon how good you think you are or if you deserve it; it is not a message of trying to get others to be good enough to deserve it; it is good news that has been entrusted to us that Christ is sufficient! In Him you have worth… and so can everyone else that places his faith in His finished work!

Merry CHRISTmas!

Monday, November 24, 2014

November 24, 2014 - One of my heroes...

The Scriptures are clear that we are to encourage one another as teammates… yet I often find the coach in me spending more time correcting than encouraging. It makes me stop and wonder if that was true of me on the sidelines as a basketball coach… and as a father.

So in the spirit of thanksgiving I want to let each of you know that I am very thankful for you. Even though I do not see everyone that reads each week’s devotion I do appreciate each of you and hope that each week brings something of value to your walk.

I thought instead of writing the typical devotion this week I would instead let you read the journal entry of one of my friends in NC. His son is one of my heroes! The kid is a great competitor! I’ve watched him battle over the years in multiple sports and often against older players. (I loved watching him go against the older guys when we had games at youth group.) And now I get updates on his battle against cancer; one in which he is not only showing the competitor that he is, but also using as a platform to give honor and praise to our Savior!!!

This was posted on caring bridge by Don Bailey, father of one of my favorite athletes Matt Bailey… (Be encouraged and be thankful!)

In February I watched Matt score 20 points in Troutman Middle School’s final game of the season.  Less than a month later he was diagnosed with brain cancer.  Shortly after the diagnoses, with tears in my eyes, I packed up my Troutman T-shirt thinking I would never again be able to wear it and cheer my son on in a game.  Tonight, after seeing Matt endure six months of radiation and nine months of chemo and again with tears in my eyes, I put back on my Troutman t-shirt and proudly watched Matt take the court and score two points in our first game of the season.  Kobe or LeBron could never have made two points look so good.  Happy Thanksgiving,  Don

Monday, November 17, 2014

November 17, 2014 - Don't Over-Dribble!

This past weekend we held a MAD (Making A Difference) Coaches’ Retreat here in AL; had the great joy of hosting and sharing with the guys from NC that are such faithful servants – MVV’s (Most Valuable Volunteers.) We had some fun, ate some good food, and most importantly took a look at God’s Playbook together.

The plan was, as the coach, to equip for “game play.” Therefore I attempted to pour in some knowledge and game plans to help us all be better prepared. One of the things that has stood out in my mind since our discussions was the reminder to not “over-dribble.”

Guards often get accused of over-dribbling in games and not getting to the goal. In other words that extra dribble between the legs or behind the back may look good but it could also be the difference in getting to the goal. If you can get there in 1 dribble don’t use 3. Use dribbling as a weapon to find or create lanes to the goal and then bust through that lane!

This has stayed on my mind because I had the coaching joy of seeing the players immediately step back onto the court and start executing the game plan. I have watched as they have been sharing things we taught in the retreat huddles and I am seeing the defense soften and lanes opening up.

The reminder this week is to make sure that we are faithful to be prepared to give a defense for the hope that is in us; with the reminder that the “goal” is sharing the Gospel (the power of God unto salvation – Romans 1:16) and not winning debates.

Proverbs 17:27 He who has knowledge spares his words (doesn’t over-dribble)

And a man of understanding is of a calm spirit.

Monday, November 10, 2014

November 10, 2014 - Game Plan: Good Plan or God's Plan?

This week I find myself feeling rushed, overwhelmed, frustrated, etc.; much like a game that is getting out of hand. I remember clearly those times as a player or coach that we just kept pushing forward while falling farther behind. Those were times that needed one of two things: (1. Change the approach) or (2. Stick to the game plan.)


The first option is possible since as a coach I was often wrong; but there were other times that I was sure what was best for my team was staying the course.


The problem is that most people simply judge success by the scoreboard. Yet in reality there are times when that is an unrealistic gauge of success. There were some teams we faced that on their worst day would beat us badly on our best day. Therefore I as a coach had to determine a course of action that gave us the best potential for growth and to prepare for the next game.


I recall games where we played teams full of long, athletic, skilled players that we simply could not match up with. Those were teams that wanted to take advantage of those attributes and have a dunk-fest on us. Often these teams were not known for their outside shooting so I would pack the lane with our defense and tell them to beat us from outside (“pick our poison”)…


I remember at times when they would hit a couple of those outside shots and immediately players (and sometimes my assistants) would say, “We have to get out on them.” To which I would reply, “No, they will not keep hitting those shots; but they will hit all the dunks and get us in foul trouble.” I wish I could state that those games resulted in us pulling off the amazing upsets; but in reality we simply lost by less than we would have, but always seemed better prepared for the next game. I was not determining “success” by the scoreboard.


I think the Apostle Paul had learned that lesson. His life (on the scoreboard) was better when he was Saul. In fact life was incredibly difficult for him with a lot of defeats in it (from a worldly perspective.) Yet he stayed the course with joy! (Reading assignment is Philippians this week.)


Jesus also lived according to a “stick with the plan” mentality. Yesterday our pastor (Matt Brooks) was sharing in a series called “The Devil’s been Talking.” He was in Matthew chapter 4 where Satan is trying to tempt Jesus to turn stones into bread. After all Jesus was hungry, He had the ability, and there is nothing wrong with eating…


But Jesus responds that “man does not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.” (vs 4) In other words, Jesus was stating that He would stick to the Father’s game plan and eat when the Father says to eat. The “scoreboard” said that Jesus was hungry; but He didn’t play the “score” but instead the plan…


Back to my opening. Sometimes my life seems to get very chaotic. That in and of itself is not bad; the game gets intense at times! But sometimes I feel it happens in my life as I take on too many things without stopping to ask a question the pastor raised: “What are the good things in my life that are maybe not the God things in my life?”


Just because something is good does not mean it is from God. It may be a distraction from the “game plan” and have negative results in the long run. (Yes we may stop the 3-point shots, but we are left with the other team having a dunk-fest.)


I want to learn to better make decisions based upon the game plan and not on the scoreboard. It is not just about making more money – or having popularity – or looking more successful…


I don’t want just a good plan; I want God’s plan for my life! And I will trust the outcome to Him!

Monday, November 3, 2014

November 3, 2014 - The Splash Brothers

Acts 16:23-24 And when they had laid many stripes on them, they threw them into prison, commanding the jailer to keep them securely. Having received such a charge, he put them into the inner prison and fastened their feet in stocks.

This is part of the life of Paul and Silas. This treatment was a result of them casting a demon out of a girl that was making a fortune for her masters by fortune-telling. The masters got angry and had the boys arrested…

So how would you feel if you were in their shoes? I would imagine these two guys would be ticked off in a major way; at least one would have a bad attitude… after all this couldn’t be going according to the game plan! It definitely wasn’t fair, as the Scriptures record later that they were “uncondemned Romans” that were beaten and imprisoned.

Back to Paul and Silas in just a minute…

It is important in life to surround oneself with good teammates (friends) so you can:
·         pick each other up when down
·         each carry your share of the load
·         encourage one another
·         and even correct one another
·         make sure to stick with the game plan… no matter what the “score” is

It is good to be surrounded by the right type of people; and incredible if you find that “partner” that you know is running right alongside you! Thinking of “dynamic duos” because of the start a duo has had in the first three games of this young NBA season…

Klay Thompson and Steph Curry (of the Golden State Warriors) are averaging 29.7 and 25.3 points per game… and Curry is throwing in 7 assists per game for good measure. These boys are nicknamed “The Splash Brothers!” But the biggest reason they stand out to me is because of a statement their new coach, Steve Kerr, made about them. He said about these superstar scoring machines: “It’s a tandem that’s playing both ends of the floor. That’s exciting!” Defense is hard and it is not glamorous. These guys are doing what it takes for the team. They are sharpening one another. (Spiritual Application: Proverbs 27:17)

…now back to Paul and Silas…

I’m not sure what time of day their arrest and beating took place. When we pick back up the story it is midnight in the jail. I can imagine that between the beatings and midnight the boys had to encourage one another. I can imagine that one, maybe both, had thoughts of despair and giving up. But what is not left to imagination is the fact that this “dynamic duo” was joined by more than chains. These guys had each other’s back to carry out the game plan.

Verse 25 records: “But at midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them.”

These boys were making a “splash” of their own! And we see in the rest of the story an entire household getting saved!

My prayer for each of us is to find that teammate to run alongside us and “make a splash” in life for the glory of God!

Monday, October 27, 2014

October 27, 2014 - STRAIN

Every time a game ends the big “win” question is not truly about the scoreboard. The scoreboard will be turned off and then reset to zeros for the next game. The real “win” question is whether or not you gave your all? Were you the best you could be in effort? Were you the best teammate you could be? If you didn’t give your best it was not a “win.” (Note: I said “give your best” not “were your best”; some days the shots just aren’t falling; some days you physically just aren’t quite there; yet those things are not excuses for lack of effort!)

I often quote John Wooden’s ideas of success. This week is a reminder of that: “Success is peace of mind, which is the direct result of self-satisfaction in knowing you made the EFFORT to do your best to become the best that you are capable of becoming.”

I talk often to players about not just “winning the day” but also “winning the play”; reminding them that every rep counts… maximum effort!

The reality is that being a true winner is hard work because the competition is truly oneself and maximizing potential. It involves being the best (as Wooden said) for one’s own peace and self-satisfaction. It also involves being one’s best for the bigger picture of the team.

Yesterday I had a couple great reminders about that via church and a devotion I read on the internet.

In church the pastor is in a series dealing with unfulfilled expectations. Yesterday he talked about when we don’t fulfill God’s expectations of us. He did a great job of reminding that Jesus and the cross are what paid for our “approval” from God. But “intimacy” with God requires confession (1 Jn 1:9) and striving to honor God with our lives. It is a daily… no hourly… no moment-by-moment battle to face our failures and overcome.

On the internet I was reading a weekly devotion I receive from a sports chaplain named Roger Lipe. He was talked of “straining” our muscles, our minds, and our emotions in competition. He talked of the value of that “strain” in becoming a champion. The cool thing to me was the verse he used to pull out that truth. It is a verse I have used and taught on many times. But he used it from a different version than I typically use and the concept jumped out even greater…

Philippians 3:13 "But one thing I do: forgetting what is behind and STRAINING toward what is ahead, I press toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus." (NIV)

I looked up the word in Greek (Epekteinomai) and it actually means to "stretch out to or towards" or "to stretch (one's self) forward to." The idea of STRETCH absolutely gives a picture of STRAINING toward something.

I loved the tag that Roger added at the end of his devotion: "STRAIN like a champion today."

When the day is done... when life is done... (like the Apostle Paul) I want to say that I have "fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith." (2 Timothy 4:7)

This week's devotion is in honor of Clennon Lewis who passed away this past week. I have written often about his son and his grandsons. He "fought the good fight" in service to his country, his family, and our Lord!

Monday, October 20, 2014

October 20, 2014 - Be Worried When The Coach Is Silent...

I often quote and praise the words/philosophies of Coach John Wooden; yet today I will respectfully disagree with him… He was very laid back during games, believing that most of his job was to be done in practices and then let it play out… (Obviously it worked for him.)

While I was on the sidelines I spent a lot of time during games teaching. I was constantly calling out reminders and corrections. I wanted to be a voice to my players not only in the practices but also in the heat of battle; I was “in the game” with them! (And here I will confess I didn’t have anywhere near the winning percentage that Coach Wooden had…)

Yet the obvious difference here is the ability of the players one is coaching to comprehend and carryout the coaching instructions. The more advanced the player, the less the coach should have to remind and correct… (So in my defense, the players Wooden had were a bit more advanced than what I had.)

I have been reminded recently of a truth I used to hear as a player and then reiterated as a coach… be worried when the coach isn’t getting on you! The reality is that a coach that cares is going to make some noise to remind and correct. A minister that cares is going to make some noise to remind and correct. A parent that cares is going to make some noise to remind and correct.

I remember growing up hearing the phrase “get off my back!” This cry to be independent of instruction and accountability is a fool’s cry. We all should long for someone in our lives that cares enough to tell us the truth and give us instruction. We should be accountable and submissive. We should realize the leader cares when we hear him “barking.”

Proverbs 17:10 Rebuke is more effective for a wise man than a hundred blows on a fool.
Proverbs 18:2 A fool has no delight in understanding, but in expressing his own heart.
Proverbs 19:18 Chasten your son while there is hope, and do not set your heart on his destruction.

Are you open to instruction? Chastening?
As a coach, teacher, minister, parent are you making some noise?

I want to Make A Difference in this life!

Monday, October 13, 2014

October 13, 2014 - Faithfulness and Dependability

I often write about (remind us) that we have God on our side… He is for us not against us… He has made promises to us to work things for good… we can trust Him!

Ezra 7:28 … So I was encouraged, as the hand of the Lord my God was upon me;…
Or from The Message: …My God was on my side and I was ready to go…

Simply put, that truth alone should motivate us to charge the gates of Hell!

Yet if you read the story of Ezra there in chapter 7 you find out something important. He knew God was on his side because even the king (Artaxerxes) and his counselors were on Ezra’s side. When reading we find that the king recognized wisdom in Ezra. We see that the king entrusted Ezra with leadership and with the finances. The king had no doubt that he could depend on Ezra.

When I was coaching I loved having those players that I could trust to do what was asked, when they were asked, how they were asked – without hesitation. These were guys that I could count on even if I had turned my back or stepped out of the gym.

It would be easy to look at the story of Ezra and say, “of course he did well, God’s hand was upon him…”

But let me remind you that what was required of Ezra was faithfulness and dependability to do what was asked, when it was asked, how it was asked… without hesitation! Ezra trusted God so much that even when he faced potential danger he turned his trust to God. (See 8:21-23)

God is on your side! What is He asking of you in task? What is God asking you in the handling of the finances? Do those around you in leadership see faithfulness and dependability in you?

Get busy!

Monday, October 6, 2014

October 6, 2014 - Avoiding Tomorrow-itis!

The last couple of weeks I have stayed with the same theme; I have asked you (and me) what is really important… I've asked what we are gonna do about it? This is a common theme questions in the world of sports and in our daily walk. Since I am repeating myself a little bit I will remind you that we all desire to be successful; we all desire to win; we all want to do well and do right… yet most tend to struggle.

So with the realization that I am beating the same drum this week, I again warn you (and me) of “Tomorrow-itis”! We simply do not take enough advantage of today…

The reason this is fresh on my mind still is due to a verse I came across in my quiet time last week. It is a verse that I have read many, many times (as I try to read a chapter in Proverbs every day.) It is a verse dealing with giving what you can… and doing it while you have the ability to do so!

Proverbs 3: 27 Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due,
When it is in the power of your hand to do so.
28 Do not say to your neighbor,
“Go, and come back,
And tomorrow I will give it,
When you have it with you. (NKJV)

Proverbs 3: 27-28 Never walk away from someone who deserves help;
your hand is God’s hand for that person.
Don’t tell your neighbor “Maybe some other time”
or “Try me tomorrow” when the money’s right there in your pocket. (The Message)

Did you catch it? Take care of what you can today!

If you are reading this and you are an athlete with dreams… get to work today!
If you are a believer with a desire to serve Christ… get to work today!

Give what you have while you have it!

Monday, September 29, 2014

September 29, 2014 - Win Each Day!

Last week I wrote with a very simple question, “What is important to you?” The reality is that everyone will state that winning is important to them… (I know, I know, I know... winning isn’t everything… what matters is how you play the game… yadda, yadda, yadda… the truth is we want to be successful!)

Yet I have often used a quote over the years of doing these devotions: “Everyone has the will to win, but few have the will to prepare to win.” (Bob Knight)

So this week let’s go beyond the question of “what is important to you” to “what are you gonna do about it?” I grow very weary of hearing the word tomorrow! There is no such day! You only have today!

 I ask athletes that train with us what their goals are. They always talk of championships, scholarships, pro ball, etc. I try to make it clear to them that the athletes that I have dealt with that arrived at those levels all have something in common: They took care of today!

They all have stories of commitment to their workouts and an unwavering drive “win each day.” This includes making every day in the weight room productive. It includes making each practice productive. It includes making victory the goal of every play in every scrimmage. It is truly picture of one’s dreams driving one’s day!

Spiritually speaking, I know that every believer that reads these devotions will probably state that honoring/serving God is important to them. Each will probably say that he/she has great expectations of doing great things for God. The young ones will talk of when they are adults. The adults will talk of when they are more financially secure or when they retire. All seem to have great plans for tomorrow… but the reality is most don’t have a life driven to “win each day!”

James is very clear in chapter 4 that “life is a vapor” and that we need to take care of the here and now. It doesn’t say it is wrong to have plans for the future but that we should keep them in perspective and focus on the present tense commands for today. He goes as far as stating that when we know the right thing to do it and don’t do it (present tense action required) that it is sin.

In Peter’s first epistle in chapter 5 he warns us to be “sober and vigilant”; these are terms that carry the idea of dealing with the here and now… “win each day (moment)”!

My question of “what are you gonna do about it?” is really focused on you (and me) taking a good look at ourselves in the mirror each day and asking ourselves if our dreams/desires of serving the Lord are driving our day?” I think this is what Paul was talking about when he stated that our daily “walk should be worthy.”

Monday, September 22, 2014

September 22, 2014 - What is important to you?

I often come across athletes that simply don’t have any work ethic or drive. As young players they often get by on just natural abilities and athleticism. As a coach/trainer I try to motivate them; reminding them that there are players working hard to be better than them. I pull out the motivational quotes:

“Hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work!”

                “Your toughest competition is anyone willing to work harder than you!”

I pull out the philosophy reminding them that true success is not measured in being better than someone else but in being the best they can be each day.

Bottom line though is the individual must determine what is important to him/her!

I’m writing this week’s devo 35,000 feet up in the air; returning from a visit to Navajo Nation in New Mexico and Arizona. I had a great time, made some new friends, got to preach the Word, and even got to throw in some advice/challenges to local pastors (hoping they received it well with my “in your face” coaching personality… especially since my personal devotion time reminded me that gentleness should be evident!)

What I saw and heard while interviewing pastors and touring the area was indicative of what I tend to see each place I go… the church corporately and as individuals not being all they can be for Christ.

The church corporately is lagging in missions work! It seems that cults and false religions are much more interested in reaching people than we are. That needs to change…

The church as individuals is full of laziness and apathy. It is amazing that the pastors I meet with have the same frustrations of trying to motivate the flock to get off their bottoms…

I’m trying to type in “gentleness” with the goal of encouraging us to get busy about the Lord’s work! It’s time to be the best we can be for Him.

 2 Timothy 2:15 Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.

Titus 2:14 who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself His own special people, zealous for good works.

You need to determine what is important to you…

Monday, September 15, 2014

September 15, 2014 - Streetball

Lately I have been reminded a lot of my younger years; man did I love to play hoops! I know I sound like the old man here but… I remember as a 4-yr-old heaving the ball up to the goal on the drive at our house on Boeke Rd.  I remember back yard games on Rotherwood where we had to avoid the cracks in the raised concrete. I even remember games of HORSE, Line-21, and Around-the-World against my mom. I remember shoveling snow off the court by Chris’s house on Blackford so we could play. I remember showing up at Iglehart Park to play and having to wait our turn on the court and then trying to keep winning so we could stay on the court. I remember late night trips up to the Washington School lot to shoot baskets at the one goal illuminated by the light on the corner of the cafeteria. I even remember venturing into the inner city where most white boys didn’t go just to get in some good games. (Maybe that explains the missionary spirit that loves to go into different cultures…)

The point is that much of who I was as a ball player was developed on the streets, not in the gym. Don’t get me wrong, I loved the excitement of the organized games in the gyms but the playground is more of where I got a feel and love for the game.

As I was watching through some more of the ESPN stories on streetball dying out, I listened as old timers (like me) talked about the streets giving them a “hunger” for the game; about playing in the park giving them confidence; the playground was a “different atmosphere” being in the gym verses being outside; and one statement that really stood out to me made the observation that “we give them (kids) more today and they don’t take advantage of it.”

I understand the need for the organized stuff; I even host and conduct clinics and camps… I spent years as a coach… I do personal training for players. Yet being around those circles just solidifies my thoughts that kids need to be out on the streets/playgrounds/driveways more! This is where players are developed!

Now on to my adult soapbox as a believer that is commissioned by Christ to make a difference in the game of life! (And by the way you are commissioned as well if you have believed on the Lord Jesus Christ to be saved!)

The church is great at planning for “organized games inside the gym”; and I am not opposed to that. But the reality is that most believers do not have a “feel for the game” because they are just going through the motions that have been choreographed for them. I talk often with pastors that express the desire for their churches to be active in ministry only to follow up by asking how we can help draw people to their facilities.

As stated before I still host/conduct events to do just that… so what is my point this week? Those things are fine and dandy but what about you as an individual reader of this blog? Are you taking time to be out on the “playground”, in the “streets”, or maybe even on the “driveway” in your own neighborhood getting the job done? Are you “playing the game” in the non-choreographed places? This is where you will be developed!

Scriptural Picture: Acts 3 – Peter and John are on the way to the temple. It is a god thing to be “in the gym.” Yet an opportunity presents itself on the street to minister to a man. They ministered to him where he was; and the cool thing is that as a result the number in the temple grew since the man chose to go in with them after they took the time to “play the game in the streets.”

Monday, September 8, 2014

September 8, 2014 - Peak Performance

I am excited as tomorrow I will begin some of our Total Player Academy individual training in our new area where we are living. We have also had new training equipment donated to increase that outreach…

On top of this I have also booked my dear friend Jason Otter to conduct his basketball clinics in a neighboring town. Jason is the best basketball trainer I have ever seen in action… truly helping players reach “Peak Performance”! (

I have also made friends with a strength and conditioning coach (Brian Creel) that is truly world class here in our hometown… He is not only strong as a bull (competes in strong man competitions); he is educated to the nth degree in strength and conditioning…. … truly helping players reach “Peak Performance”! (

When it comes to training athletes it is important to get quality instruction. In fact the two guys I mentioned are so good that I would direct any serious athletes to them way before I would even direct them to me. I view some of our personal training outreach as an avenue to try to filter these players to Jason and Brian… I know that any athlete that trains with these guys will get the very best of instruction!

Our motto for the Total Player Academy is: “Get schooled now… so you won’t be schooled later!” The idea is preparing for the future by getting a solid “education” now. From the spiritual perspective, we call this discipleship; or as me and Coach Morrow say it’ “Just living life together.”

I think it is imperative that we sit under solid Biblical teaching. Your local church should be Bible-believing and Bible-teaching; and you should (in the words of friend George Dooms) “not just sit there but get involved!” Yet I also think it is impotant that you have a “personal trainer” to mentor you and live life alongside you… to be the “iron” that “sharpens iron” in your life. (Make sure it is someone that knows what he is talking about…)

But ultimately I think where we fall short most often is in the imperative need to be in the Word on a daily basis seeking wisdom! The Word proclaims itself to be living and to be for the purpose of instructing and correcting us. It is the key to truly helping “players” reach “Peak Performance”!

Proverbs 8: 34 Blessed is the man who listens to me,
Watching daily at my gates,
Waiting at the posts of my doors.

Monday, September 1, 2014

September 1, 2014 - Pick Me Up!

I’m an old man… and simply put cannot do all the things I used to do. I love playing hoops yet, even though the rim still looks to be attainable, getting there is a different story. If I play games now I am a defensive liability; and offensively I am only a help when I can get back down the floor…


I remember back in the day when I was a young man and still in good shape; and there were still times I couldn’t get back on “D” in time. I would yell to a teammate, “Pick me up”, and then I would have to recover to help my team. (I watched yesterday as the USA national team allowed an inferior team to stay close for 3 quarters of a game; this was largely due to the fact that the other team was setting picks to get defenders behind their men and unfortunately the help side defenders were late in “picking up” their teammates.)


The reality is that no matter where we are in the “game of life” we all need help at times; we need to have someone “pick us ups”! This is true as individuals and as the church.


The last couple of weeks our pastor has been encouraging the church to “engage.” He has been reminding us of the necessity to all play our part on the “team.” He referred yesterday to a great picture in Scripture of a “pick me up” moment.


In Exodus 17:8-13 Moses and the Israelites are in a battle with the Amalekites. Moses is the leader and is relying on strength and direction from God to carry them through. As the battle plays out it is very interesting. As long as Moses holds his hands and the “rod of God” up in the air the Israelites were winning; when he lowered his arms they started losing. Seems important for Moses, the leader, to keep focused on what God has told him to do; yet you try holding your arms up in the air for hours on end. The Scripture records that his “hands became heavy” (vs 12.) So those around him (Aaron and Hur) got him a rock to sit on and stood beside him supporting his arms until the battle was won.


The application for you? Your church needs you! Your church leaders need warriors and those to support them as they hold up their hands and the “rod of God.” We need to be making a difference in our local bodies!


Another application is that I need you! (As do many other missionaries and ministry directors.) It is hard and tiring to stay the course. For 7 years I have been “holding up my hands and the rod of God” and trying stay engaged in the battle and follow His calling in my life. Yet I am old and need someone to “pick me up.” We have some “engaged” in the battle for InBounds Ministries! (Keep fighting MAD Hoops warriors!)


I will be totally transparent in this week’s devotion. My “hands are heavy!” I recently posted a newsletter/update on our ministry. It shares the amazing “victories” we have been witnessing. It gives plans for the direction God is leading us. It also tells of our needs to stay engaged in the battle.


The part that is difficult is that I have had little response to that newsletter. A couple of people “liked” it and “shared” it on Facebook but that is it. I haven’t heard responses of those willing to “support my hands” by at least committing to praying for us; yet we also need financial “support.” We have pressing needs in our ministry! I would much rather be focused on the people God has called us to reach than on the bank balance! (And I know that is true of most missionaries and ministry directors.)


This week is a challenge to be engaged! It is a challenge to hear your teammates (in your church and in missions) yelling, “Pick me up!” (And maybe for some of you it is me / InBounds you hear yelling…)

Monday, August 25, 2014

August 25, 2014 - Find The Shooter!

This week I’m going to simply remind us of a couple key principles that players need to be aware of…

On defense it is imperative that you find the other team’s shooter! You must always be aware of where he is on the court! This is a player that will be very active… roaming around the court… and can quickly pull the trigger to hit you with the 3-ball! (Picture Steph Curry running off screens and how quickly the ball gets out of his hands to strike with shots from all over the court; He is just waiting for the defender to lapse so he has that split second to let it fly…)

The adverse is also true. On offense you need to find your shooter! You must always be aware of where he is on the court! This is the strength of your offense; and smart players play to the team’s strength! Smart teams run their offense through him! (Again if thinking about Steph Curry: if he is on my team I am always looking for him! I love the idea of getting 3 instead of 2!)

Wise players in the game of life take heed to these same principles:

Ephesians 5: 15 See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, 16 redeeming the time, because the days are evil.

Defensively we need to:

1 Peter 5: Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. Resist him, steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are experienced by your brotherhood in the world.

We have an enemy that is looking for openings to strike quickly against us!

Offensively we need to:

Colossians 2: Beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ. For in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily; 10 and you are complete in Him, who is the head of all principality and power.

We have a Savior that is the game changer! We need to be aware of Him in our lives daily! We need to run the offense through Him! Get in His Word! Figure out how He fits into the center of your daily activities (and if there is not room for Him there you are wasting your time)!

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

August 18, 2014 - Excited about the new season...

I was just reading an article on about the rally that was held in LA to introduce the new owner of the team, Steve Ballmer. The article highlighted some things about him that excited the team and the fans…

Quotes from ESPN Article
·         Ballmer paid a record $2 billion for the team in a sale that was confirmed by a judge last week.
·         "We're looking forward," Ballmer proclaimed, having removed his blue Clippers hat. "Everything is about looking forward."
·         Ballmer's fervor was in stark contrast to Sterling (previous owner), who never spoke to the media and was famously frugal when it came to spending on the team during decades of losing
·         "When he came through the crowd, I literally had goose bumps," Griffin said afterward. "I don't know if there's one good word to describe him. I know all our guys are excited about the energy he brings. It's completely different."
·         "I'll boldly say the Clippers will win many, many more Larrys in the next 26 years than they did in the last 26," he said, referring to the Larry O'Brien trophy that goes to the NBA champion.

Do you see how the excitement built with an owner that is on their side? Even an all-star player like Blake Griffin stated he had “goose bumps.”

Everyone has a view of the “Owner” (God) and that dictates how excited (or not excited) they will be about life.  Throughout history we have seen God (or even the gods in mythology) portrayed as angry and removed from mankind. Yet the reality is that:

·         God paid for us through the death of His Son (Romans 5:8)
·         God is also interested in us “looking forward” (Jeremiah 29:11)
·         God is approachable and generous (Psalm 145:8-9)
·         God is an incredible God (Psalm 146)

·         God is for you not against you! Serve Him with gladness! Let’s get excited about the upcoming “Seasons” of our lives… (Romans 8:28)