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)

Monday, August 11, 2014

August 11, 2014 - You don’t have to score to win the game!

This week I must admit I am feeling more of a “rant” coming on than a straight devotional… although I do believe it should be the most comforting, encouraging, and empowering thing I could talk about…

The game is won! We are victorious in Christ! He has paid the debt in whole! (The fancy word for this is “propitiation”: meaning that through Christ the Father/Judge is pleased/satisfied – sin is atoned for!)

I know, I know … most of you are reading this and saying, “Duh, I know that.” But my question is why so many preachers and teachers teach as though it wasn’t enough?

When a substitute goes into the game all of his points count! The player that is subbed for does not have to go back in and re-make the shots…

Jesus scored the only goal that could win the game (the payment for sin) when He died on the cross! There is nothing else to pay! We do not get salvation by promising to “play better” or by committing to be “better players”! Salvation is based upon trusting in the Substitute’s payment! “Jesus paid it all…”

I know the song goes on to say “…all to Him I owe.” But that is not because we are trying to please or satisfy the judge! That is because we are thankful and motivated by the Judge’s mercy and grace. Yes, God wants us to live holy lives and “play better” because He wants and knows what is best for us. He is not calling for our holiness from His seat as the Judge but instead from His seat as our Father/Coach – the One that is on our side and wants what is best for us. The Judge is satisfied!

Let’s make sure we are clear in our message to the lost that a full payment has been made on their behalf: and not insinuate that they have something they owe to God.

John 3:18 is clear on the issue of the Gospel!
Ephesians 2:8-9 is clear on the Gospel!

Let’s celebrate and be motivated by what Christ has done for us! (Read Ephesians 2:1-4 and truly think about the words “But God…” that are found in verse 4… think about what He has done! I love how Eugene Peterson worded it in The Message: Instead, immense in mercy and with an incredible love, he embraced us. He took our sin-dead lives and made us alive in Christ. He did all this on his own, with no help from us! Then he picked us up and set us down in highest heaven in company with Jesus, our Messiah.

You don’t have to score to win the game! But I do encourage you to trust the Coach that loved you enough to take care of it for you. Allow His Word (our Playbook) to transform you and direct your steps.

Monday, August 4, 2014

August 4, 2014 - Beyond the “Have-to”s to the “Want-to”s

Last month I wrote about the idea of being “all in” for Christ! Yesterday I heard a message at church that put some Scripture behind this thought that I had never used in this way… but to that in just a minute.

During camps I will often have the teams compete in shooting races or dribbling races; the rules being that the losing team has to do push-ups. (These are not punishment but instead discipline to do an exercise that makes the players stronger.) Typically when I am at a new facility I will take time to walk up beside one of the players from the winning team that seems to really care about getting better and whisper, “While you are standing here gloating, they are getting stronger.” And the usual response is for that kid to drop down and start doing push-ups also.

This year I returned to a couple different places where I had done that before and at each place kids on the winning team dropped to do push-ups also. You see, the losers do “have-to” push-ups; the winners do “want-to” push-ups. Does every winner choose to do so? Absolutely not; some are content with the short-term gratification. But some catch the vision of becoming stronger…

There are some players that are very obedient and will do/give exactly what is asked of them to the coach; then there are the ones that are “all in” and will go above and beyond; those that spend even their spare time striving to get stronger/better. These are players that aren’t concerned with the minimum requirements but instead are concerned with maximum effort and sacrifice.

Now back to yesterday’s message at Lifepoint Church in Rainsville, AL: the worship pastor was actually doing the message in a series called “Confessions of a Pastor.” He came right out of the gate admitting he is not good at being a “Christ follower.”

(Some of you are already feeling a bit uncomfortable… because you equate following with your salvation. Yet, he did an awesome job of reminding that salvation is based upon faith in the finished work of Christ and that following is post-salvation out of gratitude for the incredible gift we have received!)

He shared his testimony of being an obedient church kid and young adult; even of serving in the church and following all the rules. He then confessed that was because that seemed to be the bare minimum of what was required of him; and that did not equate to his steps looking like Jesus’ steps. He reminded us that there is a problem when we are known more for “what we are against” than for “what we are for.”

Well I could go on trying to recreate his message here but I think you get the point. The Scriptures are clear that people should know us (and more importantly glorify God) by the good works and love we show. Now on to the passage he used (which I use all the time; yet he noticed a truth that eluded me.)

Luke 10: 25 And behold, a certain lawyer stood up and tested Him, saying, “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?”26 He said to him, “What is written in the law? What is your reading of it?27 So he answered and said, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind,’ and ‘your neighbor as yourself.’28 And He said to him, “You have answered rightly; do this and you will live.”29 But he, wanting to justify himself, said to Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”

Look at verse 29… “…he, wanting to justify himself…” Did you catch it? He is saying, “Lord, define ‘neighbor’ for me so I know what the minimum requirement is for me.” This is a guy with a religious outlook on life; one that is seeking to earn favor with “The Coach” by being obedient.

Yet Jesus responds with the story of the Good Samaritan and reminds him (and us) that going the extra mile of love to those that are typically unlovely according to society defines our neighbors… Showing mercy is time consuming, messy, and costly… yet that is someone that is “all in!”

I think about how many areas of our lives we seek to “justify” ourselves. The obvious and easy picture is in our giving… instead of giving cheerfully to help reach people we pat ourselves on the back for giving 10%. What if 11% was needed, or 12%, or… you get the picture. What if we applied that to things beyond our financial giving?

Let’s move beyond the “have-to”s to the “want-to”s in serving the Lord! Let’s move from “what is the minimum required of me” to what is the “maximum I can give.”