Monday, February 23, 2015

February 23, 2015 - Success is Found in the Journey

This morning as I opened up my phone to check messages, I saw that I was tagged in a Facebook post. The post was from one our MAD coaches in NC (this guy is truly Making A Difference!) He was talking about the awesome privilege to be able to use the things he loves (music and hoops) as a platform to share Christ. He closed out the post this way:

“The point is, if you are questioning what God's will for your life is, think back to what made ya smile when you were small. Then, figure out how to use it to tell about His redeeming love. Have A Great Week Y'all! Proverbs 3:5~6” (Justin Stewart – MAD Hoops NC)

I love the excitement in these guys! I am so proud to be their teammate… I loved what Justin shared and it reminded me of a quote from the great coach John Wooden. He stated, “Success is not a destination, it’s a journey.”

When Christ shared that His will is for us to “Go… and preach the Gospel” He was actually talking about our journey not about a destination. The word “Go” is the Greek poreuomai which means “to pursue the journey on which one has entered, to continue on one’s journey.” ( So another way to translate that command is “As you are going…” or in other words share the Gospel in the everyday world in which you live doing the things you love.

I do believe that God at times leads us to a specific destination but the will of God is that from the moment we trust Christ as our Substitute (Savior) we begin our mission trip/journey.

Our success is being faithful along the journey! It’s not necessarily just about the week or two we call a short-term mission trip; or the summer we spend abroad in service. Those are just parts of what should be a daily devotion to the will of God. “Missions is not a destination, it’s a journey!”

And in remembering that the Scriptures teach us that there are “differences of ministries, but the same Lord.” (See 1 Corinthians 12:5) The word “differences” literally means “a different distribution to different persons.” ( So for me and the other MAD coaches we get the joy of using hoops and music. What things do you love to do? Find others who love that as well and use that platform to share Christ! Go MAD!

Monday, February 16, 2015

February 16, 2015 - Glory Road: The Journey of a True Champion For Christ!

Recently I have been keying a lot in my teaching on the Apostle Paul’s victorious attitude even while he was in prison. I’ve written about it here in the weekly devotions and I have taught about it at retreats. We see in Paul a guy that decided he was not going to be chained to life’s circumstances but instead would have his “chains… in Christ.” (Phil 1:13) He realized that even when life is dealing him a rough blow, he still could live with the same purpose and mission. In Philippians 1:12 he rejoices in the fact that his bad circumstances have resulted in the “furtherance of the Gospel.” Paul went as far as stating that for him “to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” (Phil 1:9) Paul was truly a MAD Man… (a Make A Difference Man.) He lived with a good perspective, a good MADitude. (How’s that for a new word?)

I write about it again this week for a couple reasons…

1.       We all need to be reminded daily to keep our MADitudes in check!
2.       Because I was reminded yesterday that it is still possible to live the way Paul did!

As I opened up Facebook last night I read an article about one of my favorite athletes. He only played as far as middle school sports but what a MAD Man! This kid not only Made A Difference in each sport he played (as a very skilled and effective player) but even more so in life like a modern day Paul.

This past year (season) of this athlete’s life I am going to call…

Glory Road: The Journey of a True Champion for Christ

Here is the text I read from the Statesville Record & Landmark newspaper:
'Matthew Bailey is home': 1,000 attend memorial service
By Amy Fuhrman | Posted: Sunday, February 15, 2015 9:40 pm
Matthew Bailey had a chance to meet Michael Jordan. Instead, he went to his friend’s birthday party.
That is who Matthew was.
The 14-year-old from Troutman passed away Thursday following a year-long battle with brain cancer, and on Sunday, more than 1,000 people packed into Troutman Middle School’s gym for a memorial service in his honor.
Matthew Bailey had a chance to score every time he touched a ball, but when he was asked to pass, he did. Every single time.
That is who Matthew was.
Matthew had many reasons to complain — goodness knows he deserved to — as cancer stole his sight and his ability to walk. Instead, he prayed for others.
That is who Matthew was.
And Matthew Bailey had a choice to be angry at God or to grow in his faith, even as hope of surviving the cancer faded away. He not only chose the path of faith, but also served as a leader for others on the same journey.
That, above all, is who Matthew was.
“He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak.” — Isaiah 40:29
In a grainy clip from a church camp last summer, a bald Matthew Bailey stood before 1,800 teens and talked about having a real relationship with God.
“I know if I make God my everything, he will always be with me,” Matthew told the audience. “When I was doing radiation, I’d pray. It’s just me and him in there.”
Watermark Church Pastor Joel Settle showed that video to illustrate how, in his most difficult times, Matthew found comfort in his faith.
“In his hardest moments, when those steel doors slammed shut, Matt just turned to God,” Settle said. “He was Matt Strong because God have him that strength.”
“For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also,” — Matthew 6:21
Matthew was a celebrated athlete in several sports. And he loved to compete. But Settle said Matthew came to realize that what truly mattered could not be measured in trophies or cheers.
“Loving God and loving others, that’s what matters. Matthew knew that,” Settle said. “This was a selfless kid, the way his parents raised him to be, the way his Lord led him to be.
Watermark Youth Pastor Scott Stewart coached Matthew on matters of both football and faith. And he saw him do amazing things in both areas — from a game as quarterback where Matthew threw for 300 yards and five touchdowns to a message to his youth group that spoke volumes.
Toward the end of his illness, Stewart asked Matthew what he wanted to say to his church friends, who were missing him.
“Go back and tell them I’m praying for them,” Matthew asked of Stewart.
“And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain.” — Revelation 21:4
In the quiet moments, driving back from a treatment with his father Don, Matthew would sometimes share his feelings about the possibility his time on earth was near an end. Settle said his father told him, “God is going to heal you in this life or the next.”
“Matthew is in God’s Heaven today. He is healed,” Settle said. 
And even in her deepest sorrow over losing her son, Matthew’s mother Renee began to see God’s blessings, he said.
“She said, ‘This cancer could have done a lot worse things, made him suffer worse. God was merciful when I needed him to be,’ ” Settle recalled.
 “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” — John 16:33
One year ago, when Matthew stood on that stage in front of 1,800 other teens, he told them God was his everything.
“He has to be your everything every day of the week, 24/7,” Matthew said. “Just know that God has a plan for you.”

Thank you Matthew Bailey for being a voice for Christ and an example to us all! You are loved and missed. Thanks for allowing us to see you in action during your road to Glory! Thank you for living with a good MADitude!


Monday, February 9, 2015

February 9. 2015 - My Legs Simply Did Not Work

As I climbed out of bed at 4:30am I felt pretty good (especially considering that it was 4:30 and I had returned from an 8-day trip at 3:30am the day/night before.) But I was excited to lace up the shoes and hit the hardwood for some Monday Morning MADness with the guys…

At 5:30am as the ball started bouncing I still felt decent; at 6:15am things were starting to drastically change (and yes I am that old and that out of shape.) This was the first time in a very long time that I have run full court (if you call what I did running); and there were a few times I pulled up for a jumpshot and my legs simply did not work… instead of lift off the ground I felt like they crumbled under me.

The last game we played we were down to just 7 guys and played 3v4. I was part of the team of 3 and honestly 2 of us looked like we could collapse at any moment. Our third looked at us and said, “I’ll do the running…” (And that he did; he ran his butt off and kept us in the game as we dropped the last game 18-16; playing by 1’s and 2’s.)

The reality of the morning is that even at the beginning when I felt pretty good, I am still older and not able to do many of the things I used to do on the floor. But if I am going to be out there I am going to do what I can for the team… box out and pull down some boards; make a pass to the scorer; set a solid pick (one thing this oversized body is good for.) I’m going to carry my load – do the right things; and thankfully have teammates that can pick me up on the things I can no longer do.

Galatians 6:5 says that “…each one shall bear his own load.” Verse 9 goes on to tell us to “not grow weary while doing good…” We absolutely have a responsibility to honor the Lord with our lives by “doing good”; in fact Ephesians 2:10 tells us that God has designed plays (“good works”) for us to run.

Yet the reality is that at times our teammates are tired and beaten down in this life and we need to pick them up and maybe do some of the “running” for them…

Galatians 6:2 says, “Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.” Verse 10 goes on to say, “Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith.”

Take care of business today! And find a teammate you can “pick up”! (And that may be me literally; as I am unsure I will be able to get up from my office chair and down the stairs when it is time to leave here…)

Monday, February 2, 2015

February 2, 2015 - Embrace Your Role!!

A player needs to understand and accept his role. Often in the world of sports a coach or parent has to deal with the disappointment of a player not understanding why he is playing a certain position or not getting playing time. Years ago I wrote about a college coach named Dick Bennett (father of UVA coach Tony Bennett) who utilized an offense called the Blocker Mover Offense.

In essence Coach Bennett took players that had come into his Division 1 program and put them within their system as either a blocker or a mover. Movers were the guys that were considered the primary scoring threats. Blockers had the responsibility of setting screens to get the movers open and were restricted on the area of the floor they would play. (Blockers would score off of slipped screens for lay-ups and offensive rebound put-backs.)

To put this in perspective: each player that would play for Coach Bennett was a stud at his high school and probably the primary scoring option. Here is how one article described the Blocker role: Blockers are smart team players who embrace their primary responsibility of setting good, solid screens for movers. (By James Gels, from the Coach’s Clipboard)

I love the way term he used to describe successful Blockers: Embraced! These guys realized they had the opportunity to play a role on a Division 1 team and they made the most of it.

Do you get the perspective here? These players had to swallow a little bit of pride and find contentment and fulfilment in the role they were given.

Have you embraced your role where you are at in life? Are you content to be faithful in your present situation? Are you viewing your present circumstances as an obstacle or an opportunity?

The Apostle Paul was thrown in jail for preaching the Gospel. I am sure he envisioned speaking truth to the masses but instead ended up chained to prison guards. He had a choice to view it as an obstacle to his plans or as an opportunity for God’s plans. Instead of choosing to complain he wrote a letter to the Philippians telling them (and us) to not complain or grumble, to rejoice always, and to focus on doing good for others (kind of like setting screens for the Movers.)

He was obviously facing a major obstacle to his plans but said this: “…the things which happened to me have actually turned out for the furtherance of the Gospel, so that it has become evident to the whole palace guard, and to all the rest, that my chains are in Christ;” (Phil 1:12-13)

Paul took an obstacle and turned it into an opportunity! He chose to not view his circumstances as imprisonment but instead as a new prison ministry! (I think he looked forward to every new guard they would chain him to as a new opportunity to score with the Gospel!) He embraced his role!
What are your present circumstances? More importantly what are your present opportunities?

Take care of today! Go MAD (Make A Difference) where you’re at while you have the chance! Embrace your role!

Read Philippians today!