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!