Monday, July 28, 2014

July 28, 2014 - Five Fingers Up!

Today as I was teaching a basketball clinic to a bunch of school kids I was reminded of the numerous life lessons that the fundamentals of the game teach. As we discussed ball handling we talked of proper stance and protecting the ball. When training some of the older players that are more skilled we start to open up their stances a bit more so they can be more in an “attack mode” as opposed to just protection. When training the younger or less experienced players we start with the ball safely “in the pocket” and encourage them to put up an arm bar…

The arm bar is what jumped out to me today in the life analogies. I always have the players not only put the arms out but also I insist that they hold out all the digits on that hand – flashing five as a reminder…

The reality is that one of the things we are teaching is being part of a team. I want the players reminded that they are not on the court alone. They have teammates that are there to pass to and to help reach the goal. Players are not in it alone…

Do you know that you are not alone? You have a responsibility to “keep your head up and see the court” of life. You need to know if your “teammates” need help; and you need to look to them when you need help.

We need to live our lives thinking of others… considering them more important than ourselves (Phil 2:3) and doing good for them, especially to those of the household of faith… (Gal 6:10)

Is your life consumed with holding up one finger and living according to the world’s philosophy that you should “look out for numero uno” or is your life characterized by being aware of those around you and looking to do good for them? (In hoops we call it an “assist.”)

I received a text message today that blessed my heart and reminded me how awesome it is when people are others-focused. The text mentioned one of the coolest kids on the planet. His name is Luke; he is the son of my dear friends in St Louis that we spent time with over the last couple of weeks.

Luke is an 8 yr old that is aware of the needs of those around him. He made a box and put it in the youth room at their church. He put a sign on it that reads, “Put money here for Coach Todd, and nails.” (He then explained the nails are to help build churches.)

Thanks Luke for reminding us to “play with our heads up” so that we are aware of our teammates and their needs. (I love you Buddy!)

How about you? Who can you do something good for today, and each day?

Five Fingers Up! It’s not all about me!


Monday, July 21, 2014

July 21, 2014 - God's Got Your Back!

Tonight as I was teaching with a group of teen missionaries that are on the road with me, I was encouraging/exhorting them to lead balanced lives that have Christ at the center. I was warning them about the “full-court press” that life will put on them to try to get them “out of rhythm” and to commit “turnovers.” It was things I have written about often in these devotions over the years. It was great time of reminding them that they can fully trust in our God!


One key truth we have discussed is the fact that life and God are not synonyms. I know it is something I have talked about before on here. But the reality is that we all need to be reminded that life has its ups and downs while God is constant. We need to be reminded that life at times will drop you to your knees. I reminded them in the sessions that everyone seems happy when they are winning but the test for us as believers is how we handle when we are losing (because there will be days we are losing.)  I reminded them of a truth we often share on here: God is on our side and has promised to work things for good in our lives (see Romans 8:28).


To be fully honest on here I told them that I don’t think God cares who wins a game or makes the team… I think He is concerned with how we handle our successes and our defeats! I think He longs for us to “exalt Him” in the good times and the bad. In Philippians 1:20 Paul states that his goal is for Christ to be “always…magnified”! I loved sharing my buddy’s (Coach Terry Primm) motto he urged his college team to play by: “Playing to make God famous!” Then I let them know that the idea here is that whether one is abundantly successful or struggling in life… the goal is still the same: magnify Christ more than self.


I went on to ask them about athletes they though had done that. The group is from St Louis and immediately mentioned Albert Pujols and then I heard Tim Tebow’s name. I discussed the impact those guys have when they proclaim Jesus…


But let’s get real… the fame and money those guys have make it easy to be happy and satisfied doesn’t it? Both have experienced tremendous success. Then I thought about Tebow; he has continued to exalt Christ even when his dreams went downhill. He has continued to exalt Christ in spite of being talked about negatively and ridiculed….


I shared an old phrase with the youth tonight: “I don’t know what the future holds, but I know who holds the future.” That truth gives confidence that supersedes circumstances!


Had not planned to repeat tonight’s message for this week’s devotion until I got home and turned on the computer. Right away I saw an article on Tim Tebow and it was a bit surprising; he has not been in the new mix lately… He is still working out and trying to pursue his NFL dream in spite of all the critics. He has turned down other football offers in order to stay the course on his dream… and has been unsuccessful so far. Yet he still exalted Christ in the interview and even used the phrase I typed just a paragraph ago... he knows who holds his future and thus he can be happy and content no matter the outcome / circumstances.


The article was a great confirmation of the truths we were discussing… God’s got our backs – trust Him!

Monday, July 14, 2014

July 14, 2014 - Get Schooled (and don't ignore it)

Today I started a basketball clinic in Missouri; next week in North Carolina; the week after in Alabama; and then I will start taking on some students for the school year…

In the meantime the MAD Hoops coaches are in Alabama conducting clinics…

And Coach Clay is moving this week to northern Indiana and will be taking on clients up there…

Our Total Player Academy is in full swing right now! (And of course using the platform to share Christ as the Substitute and God’s Word as the Playbook for life!) We encourage them to “Get schooled now… so they won’t be schooled later!”

All of these “students” have a choice to make; will they take our advice and apply it to life? Or will they ignore the instruction and do things their own way?

It would be quite silly to just throw away good advice for the basketball court (and for life.) I spend a lot of time in the Proverbs reading about wisdom verses foolishness. Simply put I want to be wise! I want to heed instruction and honor the Lord with my life; and I want the same for you!

The reality is that God has given us everything that we need for a life of godliness; check out how Pastor Peterson put 2 Peter 1:3-4 into perspective: 3-4 Everything that goes into a life of pleasing God has been miraculously given to us by getting to know, personally and intimately, the One who invited us to God. The best invitation we ever received! We were also given absolutely terrific promises to pass on to you—your tickets to participation in the life of God after you turned your back on a world corrupted by lust.

You (and I) are equipped to get the job done. I regularly encourage you to [Make A Difference]; and the reality is that all believers are without excuse when it comes to this challenge. I also love the way he Pastor Peterson puts it in Ephesians 6:10-12 when discussing the importance of putting on God’s Armour…

10-12 And that about wraps it up. God is strong, and he wants you strong. So take everything the Master has set out for you, well-made weapons of the best materials. And put them to use so you will be able to stand up to everything the Devil throws your way. This is no afternoon athletic contest that we’ll walk away from and forget about in a couple of hours. This is for keeps, a life-or-death fight to the finish against the Devil and all his angels.

I’m calling us to be champions for Christ! Don’t ignore what God has provided us to fight the battle!

MAD Hoops coaches in Alabama, Give ‘em the ROCK! Proud of you guys!

Monday, July 7, 2014

July 7, 2014 - Are You What The Team Needs?

Last week I wrote challenging us to be “All In” in our commitment to Christ due to our gratitude for what Christ has done for us… Freely forgiven; forever grateful!


The next day Facebook was lit up with the words “All In”; not due to my blog but instead due to a picture of the cover of FCA magazine featuring USA goalie Tim Howard. It’s great reading about a young man that is making a difference…


Obviously, (if you regularly read the blog), I love to write about “Making A Difference.” A few years ago, along with my dear friend and co-laborer Coach Jon Morrow, we determined that our lives/outreach would “Make A Difference.” And thus the MAD Hoops name was attached to our ministry…


And now that the US is out of the World Cup the sports news revolves around free agency in the NBA; wondering who will go where and discussing who can truly be difference makers. Players are being praised for their scoring ability, passing ability, etc. They are talked about on what they could do for any given team; will they make the team better? Are they what the team needs?


My question this week is “are you making the team better?” Are you getting to the goal when openings arise (sharing the Gospel)? Are you spacing the floor by going to open areas to extend the offense (or are you running to the ball like a first grade basketball player and not helping the team at all)? Are you giving assists when and where you can? (All ministries I know could use an “assist” – “drop a dime” to Make A Difference!)


2 Timothy 4:5 tells you (and me) to “…fulfill your ministry.”


2 Peter 1:5-7 gives a good picture of a “difference maker”… and then verse 8 tells us that if we strive to be that type of “player” we will effective and productive… a player the team needs!


The reality is that these NBA players are striving to get better contracts… yet as believers we have been given a guaranteed eternal contract based upon what Christ has done. Therefore we “play” because we remember what He has done… Verse 9 in 2 Peter 1 tells us that the one not striving to be a Difference Maker is “shortsighted” and “blind” and has “forgotten that he was cleansed from his old sin.”


Make A Difference!!!!!