Monday, February 24, 2014

February 24, 2014 - Lessons From An Old-School Point Guard

Last week we started talking about being “game changers” by running a “give and go” offense (giving to support the work of ministry / realizing we are called to be ministers)… Yet being good on the offensive end involves consistency and maturing as a “player”… it is typically characterized by the picture of an “old school” point guard… a guy that keeps the game under control and makes those around him better.

This week I am going to highlight a player I have written about many times (and admittedly I am biased as he is one of my favorite players of all time both on and off the court…) Tyler Lewis is the picture of a game changing point guard, yet it is not always on the stat line. In fact one columnist (Lou Pascucci of PackInsider) said if you were to judge Lewis by his stat line of points you should “go ahead and write him off.” He hasn’t been scoring a lot; in fact he’s been in a bit of a shooting slump. Yet, and I quote, “his game isn’t based on numbers; it’s based on flow, trust, and game management.” What the writer is seeing is a “throwback” to a point guard that is thinking others first instead of shoot-first. He writes that Lewis’ “presence does something to this Wolfpack team”; and then goes on to tell how other players have emerged as a result of Lewis’ game control. He calls him a “catalyst for this offense”, a “floor general and distributor.” (Over the past 3 games Lewis has had 21 assists and zero turnovers… and he is on pace to set the single season assist-to-turnover mark for NCSU.)

The three areas he mentioned were flow, trust, and game management. These are great attributes to have on the court as well as in life.

Flow: how you are playing the game which is a result of how you are seeing the game… I can tell you that Tyler sees the game as well as any player I have ever coached or witnessed. It is so difficult to trap him because he is so aware of what is ahead and has learned to avoid traps. He knows when to speed up and when to slow down. He knows when to simply go a different direction.  An immature player tends to run right into trouble…

Proverbs  22:3 A prudent man foresees evil and hides himself, but the simple pass on and are punished.

Trust: Tyler’s teammates know he not only protects the ball but that he is looking for them. They have been the recipients of his passes that arrive on time and in the right place… They know that Tyler wants them to score even more than he wants to score himself; he is a “distributor.” Many modern point guards are caught up in the hype of scoring and it destroys their ability to have their “presence do something for their team.”

Philippians 2:4 Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.

Game Management: A great old school point guard understands the importance of every possession and values the rock! He recognizes the game plan of the coach and carries it out (often being referred to as a coach on the floor – or as Tyler was called a “floor general.”)

Ephesians 5:15-17 So watch your step. Use your head. Make the most of every chance you get. These are desperate times! Don’t live carelessly, unthinkingly. Make sure you understand what the Master wants. (The Message)

So do these attributes characterize your life?

Monday, February 17, 2014

February 17, 2014 - Give and Go Offense (Game Changers)

Today and tomorrow my oldest son is busy in college basketball workouts; the old coach in me obviously had a bit of advice for him… when in the drills get to the hole as fast as you can and finish with authority. I reminded him that college coaches will not be impressed by a Harlem Globetrotters dribbling routine but will want efficiency of movement and time…

That intro is to prepare for this week’s devotion where I am going to get straight to the point (partially because it is efficient and partially because I am exhausted from a long travel weekend of speaking engagements.)

Yesterday as I was sharing God’s Playbook with a couple churches in St Louis I reminded them that God wants Game Changers, not just practice players. The idea stems from the times I sat on the sidelines scouting an opponent before tip-off of a game. Certain players stood out as great shooters or great athletes in warm-ups, only to fall flat during actual game play. They looked the part but then when the lights came on didn’t produce…

Unfortunately many in our churches are that way. We dress up good and play the part well within the safety of the walls of the church but when we step onto the court of life fall flat. Is you r Monday as worshipful as your Sunday? Is your attitude as good outside of the church as it is in the church?

The fact is there are numerous places where we are encouraged to have our “walk” to be “worthy of our calling.” (e.g. Eph 4:1)

What is our calling? It is to be Game Changers! To make a difference in life! To be active with the Great Commission!

You know the plan – go preach the Gospel and make disciples! (Matt 28 / Mk 16)

1 Thess 2:4 tells us that we have been approved and entrusted to share the Gospel ; in other words we have been given a stewardship of sharing.

1 Cor 4:2 tells us to be “faithful” stewards of this entrusted Gospel message.

And 2 Cor 9 reminds us that even when we can’t be the ones to go we should be one’s to give financially – and give cheerfully …

Difference makers (or Game Changers) have committed to a “Give and Go” offense!

Again let me encourage you to be a Game Changer… not just a practice player!

Monday, February 10, 2014

February 10, 2014 - Act vs. React

The big new this weekend was the blow up that Marcus Smart had at the end of the Oklahoma State and Texas Tech basketball game. After falling into the stands, he jumped up and shoved a Texas Tech fan before returning to the court. As a result the sports world was abuzz with opinions, many of them vilifying Marcus for his actions. And now Marcus has received a 3 game suspension for his behavior.

Obviously everyone will have their opinions but the problem is that most are centering on who is right and who is wrong in a situation like this. The problem with that reasoning is that at times like this, and in most conflict, no one is “right.” Each party is responsible for his actions. In Job 19 he states that even “if I have erred, my error remains with me.” (vs. 4) In other words he is taking personal responsibility.

The fact is that Marcus should not have shoved the fan; and hopefully will learn to ignore, and to act instead of react in situations like this. Isn’t that what maturing is all about? He is a young man that was in the heat of the moment during a game and got caught up in the situation. I do think for those that are vilifying Marcus that this incident makes him a thug or loose cannon. He shoved a guy that has a big mouth and now he is suspended and will hopefully learn his lesson. (And to be honest I think he could have learned the lesson with a 1-game suspension just as well as with 3 games… he didn’t punch the guy… he didn’t pull a knife or a gun… maybe those in leadership and the media need to learn a lesson about overreacting as well!)

Marcus Smart gave the following statement after the altercation (notice it sounds a lot like the statement made by Job): "Just can't let that happen again. This is a lesson I'll have to learn from. The consequences that are coming with it, I'm taking full responsibility. No finger pointing. This is all upon me.” Way to step up to the plate of responsibility Marcus!

As for the fan (Mr. Orr)… he is the one that most needs to grow up! Does he feel powerful and in control because he can afford to drive to games and insult and antagonize young men? What a legacy this dude has… when even former coaches talk of having to warn their players about him. This guy has admitted to at the very least calling Marcus a “piece of crap.” Any of us would be offended by that; and many of us might shove the guy and tell him to shut his mouth… some would even offer to shut it for him. This guy has a history of acting this way and yet Marcus Smart is more vilified for reacting…

Yet in fairness to Mr. Orr, I know in our culture spectators feel the freedom to say and do whatever they please – as though that is part of the competition – as though they paid for that right – it is the way we have been trained. Here is a quote I read after typing the last sentence… it is from Kevin Stallings, head coach at Vanderbilt:
"I think that fans more and more are of the opinion that they can say whatever they want without regard and without ramification,'' he said. "And probably because at times you can do so anonymously whether it's talk radio or Internet type things and then all of a sudden you get into a public setting and maybe there is some carry over. But I get the feeling fans feel like they can say kind of whatever they want to, that that comes with the price of admission and sometimes there might be a ramification for something that you say if it's out of line.''

The problem is that I have even witnessed it regularly from professing believers…

Well that is who I am talking to this week… the children of God. It is time that we set an example in the sports world and in the marketplace. We need to be a people known for the fruit of the Spirit in our lives. We need to be a people that even when in the heat of battle (be it athletics or life’s pressures) show GRACEfulness. Child of God you need to “let your gentleness be known to all men.” (Philippians 4:5)

Light bearers should be culture changers!

Monday, February 3, 2014

February 3, 2014 - The Balance Beam of Life

This week my mind has been taken to a sport I don’t usually write about… gymnastics. Today we will begin offering a weekly devotion time at a local gymnastics center here in Alabama and our key verse is Proverbs 3:23: “Then you will walk safely in your way, and your foot will not stumble.”

It got me thinking about things like the balance beam and how easy it is to fall if you get off-balance… I thought about how I teach other sports and emphasize a balanced stance so there is a solid core… and of course got me thinking about life itself and a need for balance!

Life is difficult and full of distractions and therefore we need to be reminded of the fundamentals of balance. One writer I came across (Marjorie F. Eddington on the Bible Wise Teen Time website) summed up her learning from the balance beam in the following points:
·         “Look forward”
·         “Be absolutely centered”
·         “Focus on where you want to land” (Proverbs 4:26, 27)
·         “Trust – even when you can’t see the landing” (Psalm 37:5; 143:8)

When we truly look at life the problem began when sin got things out of balance and left a God-shaped hole in us… But the beauty of God’s plan is that He put things back in balance:
·         Through His Son – in order to fill that hole and restore our relationship
·         Through His Word – in order to give us truth and direction to trust where we will land

Today, even if you feel like you are twisting and turning high above the balance beam of life and cannot see where you are going to land, focus on Christ and His Word – a guaranteed safe landing spot!

Now on to share this truth with some young gymnasts…