Monday, March 30, 2015

March 30, 2015 - Passion won’t quit… can’t quit… sees things through to the end!

Well I am back home after a week of some rest, some adventure, and the awesome opportunity to share the Gospel at Beach House Church in Daytona Beach… It was a full week and of course ended with a 19-hour day of driving, preaching, and potty breaks. We even made it home late last night in time for me to get almost 4 hours of sleep before heading to the gym for Men’s Morning Madness life group. Had a great time sharing in the devotion and running the floor; and actually felt really good afterwards on the physical front, until I got home and sat in my recliner. Now as I face the many things I need to complete today (including this devotion blog) I am a bit overwhelmed both physically and mentally.

So the question becomes, “Why do it?” To be honest with you there have been many Mondays that I have considered not writing anymore; there have been many trips I have considered not traveling anymore; there are days I have wondered if there is a “normal job” I would be good at that paid well…

But like the athlete that pushes out one more rep on the weights when he feels he can’t go any farther; or runs one more wind sprint even though he feels he may collapse; or is the first and the last athlete in the gym for practices as he works on his craft… I am driven by a passion that is founded in knowing my purpose! Even when I am weary I (like the Prophet Jeremiah in Jer 20:9) simply cannot quit!

I read a great quote in the forward to the book “Open My Eyes” (author Brian Webb); it is a book that was given to me about travel safety and security in missions. The forward was written by a missionary (John Burroughs of globalX Missions.) He was actually quoting one of his friends and stated, “It’s hard to be satisfied with existence once you’ve tasted purpose.” He goes on to ask, “Do you desire to have an impact on people for good?”

Here at InBounds we continue to use the acronym MAD (Making A Difference.) I cannot tell you what your purpose is in vocation, school, etc… but I can tell you that if you are a believer in Christ you have purpose as an “ambassador” for him (See 2 Corinthians 5:20, 1 Thessalonians 2:4, and many other verses reiterating  Christ’s commissioning us to a life of purpose!) I just know I love seeing people get saved! I love seeing people grow!

And in honor of Passion Week I ask you to reflect on the ultimate example of one driven by passion for a purpose… From the time of Christ’s birth it was told that he was on earth to be a “Savior” and bring “peace” between God and man (See Luke 2); He rode into Jerusalem on a donkey signifying that He was there to bring peace (See Matthew 21); and in order to complete His mission/purpose He “became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross.” (See Philippians 2:8)

We know as He faced the completion of the mission, the fulfillment of His purpose, during that earthly visit that He faced great sorrow and the temptation to quit; yet three times He prayed, “Oh my Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will.” (Matthew 26:39)

And in the meantime His disciples were found asleep (See 26:40) and Jesus questioned their drive and passion.

Aren’t you thankful that Jesus stayed the course? …that He showed what passion really looks like? (Passion won’t quit… can’t quit… sees things through to the end!)

Well we know the story that those sleepy, Christ-denying apostles witnessed Christ crucified and were then fully awakened from their “slumber” when they witnessed Christ risen again! That gave them the drive and passion to fulfill their purpose!

If Christ were speaking to you today would He ask you why you are “sleeping”? OR would He commend you for a life that is Going MAD with the Gospel?

1 Corinthians 15

55 “O Death, where is your sting? O Hades, where is your victory?” …57 But thanks be to God, who gives us victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. 58 Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing your labor is not in vain in the Lord.”

Monday, March 23, 2015

March 23, 2015 - Making Adjustments

I’m not sure how long you have been reading these weekly devotions but if you have been with us for a while you know at this time of year I get excited talking about March MADness. And in honor of the tourney I’m typing another “buzzer-beater” late night devotion… just need to make the midnight deadline.

It is exciting watching games where underdogs play the favorites tight or even pull the upset. It is exciting when your favorite teams are in the tourney and doing well. But the reality of the tourney is that the higher seeds often go down to defeat to the lower seeds.

It’s really all about match-ups. Of course there are the upsets where one team is cold and the other team hot, but mostly it is about style of play and ability to adapt to different styles. I heard the analysts talking about the fact that teams that can only “play one way” are at a disadvantage in the tourney as they are going to face teams that will change the tempo, style of defense, etc. The reality is that a good team (and obviously good players) are those that are ready to face obstacles; those that can adapt and overcome; those that can adjust on the fly; those that can receive new instruction from the coach and implement it.

I tell those that go on mission trips with us that the first rule is to be “dogmatically committed to flexibility.” It is amazing how often one has to adjust when serving in a different culture. And the reality is that every day even here at home brings unexpected changes. It doesn’t matter how many plans we make, we need to know that they simply may not unfold the way we envisioned.

I was reading through some of the Apostle Paul’s missionary journeys in the book of Acts and it is crazy how often he and his partners had to change course. At times they had to flee for their safety. At times God had them be even bolder in their speech. At times the Holy Spirit prompted where to go and what to say; at other times the Holy Spirit forbade them from speaking or going to certain places. Basically we see that they were in it for the journey more than specific destinations. They made plans but always with the understanding that they were willing to adjust course…

Proverbs 16:1 The preparations of the heart belong to man, but the answer of the tongue is from the Lord.

Let’s be dogmatically committed to flexibility to go wherever doing whatever the Lord directs! Let’s adjust to whatever the day brings us! Let’s live a MAD (Make A Difference) life!

Monday, March 16, 2015

March 16, 2015 - Let's W.I.kN. the Next 3 Weeks!

As a coach I remember those times when our team was facing seemingly insurmountable odds; the opponent was simply bigger than we felt prepared to face; some of my players were playing “scared”; some of my players were simply shutting down as if to say. “What’s the use?”

It was during those times that I learned to break the game down into smaller increments. At times I might call for us to try to win the quarter… other times I may even say let’s win the next 4 minutes… and in extreme cases I may even say let’s just see if this play will when the next possession. I wanted to get my players to stop looking always at end results and instead be faithful in the moment… and what they would find is that end results take care of themselves when you win the play with consistency.

Sometimes I feel like we, the church, spend so much time with the looking at the condition of the world and the enormous task we have in trying to reach people that we play “scared” or even shut down as if to say, “What’s the use?”

The reality is that we read so much garbage on social networks and listen to so much garbage from new outlets that we live in fear and frustration instead of in boldness and victory.

Can I simply remind us this week that our job is ultimately to reach individuals with the Gospel and nto necessarily the masses… and what we will find is that eventually we have reached enough individuals to be classified as “masses.”

Today “win the day” by being an influence at work or school! Today “win the play” by being an influence on individuals you come in contact with (each person a possibility!)

Our church entered into “21 Days of Prayer” this morning leading up to Easter Sunday. The reality is that Easter is a prime time with fertile ground to share the Gospel. People will go to church on Easter that never grace the doors on other Sundays. People are open to discussions about the death and resurrection, especially the resurrection since that was the game changer that sets Jesus apart! (Obviously there are many other things that set Him apart… i.e. God in the flesh, Virgin birth, perfect life, substitutionary death, etc. – but the resurrected Jesus is what caught even the skeptic’s eye!)

So my challenge this week is in line with our church’s challenge: Let’s W.I.kN. the next 3 weeks!

Witness: take time to share the message of the crucified and risen Savior – our Substitute!

Invite: take time to ask people to attend church with you on Easter so they will hear the Gospel proclaimed!

kNeel: in daily prayer for those that you know that need the Lord; those that will be sharing the Gospel that they will be faithful and clear; for opportunities for you to share the Gospel with and/or to invite friends, neighbors, coworkers, fellow students, people in the grocery store line, etc. to church with you on Easter!

Acts 4:31 And when they had prayed, the place where they were assembled together was shaken; and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and they spoke the Word of God with boldness.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Yes I am a MADman... join me on my journey!

Every year at this time I start trying to figure out how to propel InBounds Ministries forward by issuing March MADness challenges via our newsletter list and social networking… And each year the hope is that we won’t have to focus on fundraising throughout the year.

The definition of “madness” involves the idea of extremes in excitement or in foolishness. I think often our board and staff would think me a little of both when I present things to them. This year I am sure will be no different… (And remember our definition of being “MAD” means we are intentionally striving to Make A Difference through the proclamation of Christ as our Substitute and God’s Word as our Playbook for life!)

First let me start by stating clearly that no matter how much money we raise in our efforts, it still has to filter into the board-established budget of InBounds. If we run at a surplus it would be credited toward either what the donor earmarks it for or to the following year’s budgeting process…

As the staff of InBounds we make no apologies about being MAD! We are beyond excited at the prospect of Making A Difference in our world! The staff in NC is continuing to make a huge impact in their communities and here in Alabama things are starting to really heat up with multiple local outreaches underway. On the national level the travel has been heavy and the results have been amazing! We are seeing guys and gals added to God’s team at every event! We are seeing teammates encouraged in their faith and in their MAD pursuits. And the rest of 2015 is truly set up to be a MAD year!

Still to come this year is the continuing local outreach in NC and in AL (with added local venues popping up regularly); multiple trips stateside (IN, IL, NC, CO, FL, GA); and outreach overseas… with a very special trip for us in Pedernales Dominican Republic this July! (Will be sharing more news about this trip very soon…) We are also adding a new division of the ministry called InBoundsOut (an outdoors retreat ministry.) Along with this is a concerted effort to increase our ministry in media with updates of our web presence, more tracts being printed, and at least 1 more devotional book going to print this year…

We have multiple needs in order to accomplish our goals… and needs come with price tags. So I am going to make a MAD Plea to you to help in our efforts! Will you consider Making A Difference by:

·         Praying regularly for our efforts? (2 Thessalonians 3:1)

·         Loaning some money to God? How much do you trust Him to repay you? I am hoping for some MAD gifts! (Proverbs 19:17)

InBounds MAD List:

·         A few years ago we had some donors Go MAD by providing enough money to give full ride scholarships to 15 players on a ROCK’em Road Trip… now we need sponsors for players / coaches on our upcoming Dominican Republic trip; my desire is to be in a position to provide scholarships for airfare for each one that goes on this trip - we will be flying with MFI into Barahona - Amount: $500 per participant / $7500 total

·         Printing needs for tracts, banners, devotional books, and products - Amount: $2500

·         Equipment for a new outreach we are adding in the great outdoors – tents, camping gear, Sea Eagle inflatable kayaks – Amount: $2500

·         Total Player Academy equipment needed for a new training facility on our local AL front – Basketball goals, mats/runners – Amount: $7,500

·          8 years ago an InBounds donor went MAD and gave $16,000 to the ministry for a team van… now around 250,000 miles later on that van, we are seeking a second ministry vehicle that is more fuel-efficient and practical when not carrying a team… - Amount: $20,000

Yes, I am admittedly going MAD! I am excited about what the Lord has in front of us! I pray (like Jabez did) that God will “enlarge my territory”!

How about you? Are you willing to live life to the extreme and Go MAD with InBounds Ministries? Help us celebrate March MADness! Help us proclaim God’s goodness to a world in need!

Monday, March 9, 2015

March 9, 2015 - Enjoy the game while it lasts!

It’s that time of year again… March MADness! I always get excited for the basketball tourney with the “thrill of victory and the agony of defeat.” Every team is being analyzed based not only based upon wins and losses but also on how the “experts” feel they are currently playing. Even a team that is undefeated like Kentucky has its skeptics. People wonder if it would be better for them to lose before the big tournament in order to reignite a fire in them (in other words to avoid complacency and coming out flat in a game.) The reality is that in the March Madness tournament a team has to come out ready to roll every game; there is no time for a letdown; there is little room for tightening up and playing scared; the players have to be “all in!” Because the reality is in the tourney format it is one and done if you lose… season over. So players need to approach each game with a love and passion… and enjoy each game while it lasts. (The reality is that even the team that cuts down the nets has its season end at that point.)

That’s the way I want to “play the game of life”… “ALL IN!” I want to live each day as though it is my last day to “play!”

Ecclesiastes 9 talks about those that live with no purpose and no hope in this crazy thing called life; it calls the way they live “madness.” The chapter reminds us that “life” happens to all of us (“the righteous or the wicked”) but not all have to view life the same.

I love the fact that there is a hope of a life of joy in the midst of the chaos… that we can “play” for the love of the game…

Ecclesiastes 9:10 Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with your might;…

I love a couple of lines in the Message paraphrase! It reads in verses 7-10:

(“Seize life!”), (“Each day is God’s gift”), (“Make the most of each one!”), and (“Whatever turns up, grab it and do it. And heartily!”)

The lost world lives in “madness” but we challenge you to live a life of MADness - Making A Difference each day! Be in the right place, doing the right thing, at the right time!

Let’s make March an incredible month!!!



Monday, March 2, 2015

March 2, 2015 - Value

Tonight I was sharing part of my testimony with a group of kids in Indiana; and just before I began to share the host of the event had the group memorize a theme verse for the night: Philippians 4:13 I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.

I have often taught on this verse (and most of the time about the misuse of it); yet tonight it came alive to me even more…

As I arrived in the old gymnasium where the event was held I immediately started taking some mental notes about the kids that where there and praying/contemplating what I was going to share. It wasn’t a typical basketball crowd and there were a few young kids. It was a small crowd and as we did the basketball interaction time it was obvious not a super athletic or skilled crowd.

I shared about a time in my life when I was very committed to playing the game of basketball. It was following my senior year of high school; I had finished my high school career thinking I was quite a player. I had scored a lot of points and felt I could play with anyone, yet college coaches didn’t quite see it that way (they happened to know I was playing out of position and not ready for the next level as a point guard.) Therefore I began working on the skill set I needed to play at the next level; multiple hours a day; every day; a lot of sweat; jump shot after jump shot; pounding ball handling drills; jump rope; etc. And if I do say so myself I got pretty dang good… only to have my knee snap in a church league game and it all to be over.

That seems to be a bit over-dramatic. It wasn’t “all over.” Yes my dreams of college hoops had taken a hit but there happened to be more to do in life other than college hoops. (And I’ve ended up with quite a gig with teaching basketball taking me all over the world!)

I have often taught the truth from Philippians 4:13 that Paul is sharing that he was content when things were good or bad in his life; and thus I needed to be content in spite of the circumstances I was in. I have recently taught that Paul was able to do that because his “chains were in Christ” and not to his circumstances. (See Phil 1:13) Yet, tonight it hit me even a bit more as to how that is possible…

I was talking about what gives us value. The reality is that I was fortunate to have teachers of the Word that let me see that my value as a teenage boy was not found in how good of a basketball player I was. Although I would have loved to keep playing, I am so glad that I learned where true value comes from!

Know that your value is based upon the fact that God loves you (and me) enough to have paid for our wrongdoing with the life of His Son. My value is found in Jesus – not in basketball – or how much money I make – or how popular I am – or… And because of that we can be content even when life is not going as we hoped. We can do “all things through Christ.

Thank you God for loving us enough to purchase our redemption; thank you for showing us how valuable we are in your eyes!

Romans 5:8 But God demonstrates His love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.