Monday, April 27, 2015

April 27, 2015 - Commit An Intentional Exhortation

This morning I browsed over an article in the sports section about a rookie in pro baseball that was just recently called up to the big leagues. He has been struggling at the plate and trying to adjust to this new level. The thing that struck me was that the article made it a point to bring out that the player’s teammates all believe in him, recognize his talents, and are encouraging him. I love it when I see teamwork; not only in the physical sense but also in the emotional sense. Teammates should pick each other up! Teammates should be encouragers!

That is also a major command for the church. We are told to assemble together for the purpose of encouraging one another. (See Hebrews 10:24-25) We are told to “consider one another” and to “exhort one another”… we are to “stir up love and good works.”

So what are your plans today? I think we should each target some folks to encourage in some way… make contact, commit an intentional exhortation! (When someone wrongs us we have no problem dreaming up ways to commit an intentional foul to get even… why is it hard to think about helping a teammate get ahead?)

Here are a couple great quotes I read this week:

“You make more friends by becoming interested in other people than by trying to interest other people in yourself.” Dale Carnegie

“Real friends are those who, when you’ve made a fool of yourself, don’t feel you’ve done a permanent job.” Anonymous

“Don’t save your eulogies for your friends’ funerals. Whatever ought to be said, say it now. Tomorrow might be too late.” Pat Williams

These are principles that describe what Coach John Wooden called the “fine art of friendship.” It is the core of being a good teammate. It is vital to team success…

Today “Go MAD”; intentionally Make A Difference in someone’s life!

Monday, April 20, 2015

April 20, 2015 - Do Your Job!

I have started another book this week; and it is yet another book about the great Coach John Wooden. I love reading about his wisdom and the effect he had on his players and all those he came in contact with. I loved reading the author’s take in this book where he reminded us that Wooden was a kind, gentle educator; yet he was also fiercely competitive! (Yes I believe Christians should be the hardest working fiercest competitors possible on the playing field/court, and can still honor God in the process!)

And the forward in the book is from another coach I love to learn from… Tony Dungy. Coach Dungy was an great choice to write the forward because he attributes much of his philosophy an coaching style to the things he learned from his father; and the book I am reading is predominantly about the life lessons that Wooden’s father taught him.

When I think about the testimonies of Wooden and Dungy (and their fathers) I am intrigued and also humbly convicted of where I fall short as a dad (and where I fell short as a coach.) All these guys are known for their quiet spirits and kind approach to dealing with issues. They are known for using reason and steadfastness instead of emotion and force. In short they are known for lives that exhibited the fruit of the spirit. (Whereas, although I hope I am growing in these areas, my life is probably more characterized by sarcasm, frustration, and the “death-stare” I give…)

I was thinking about it yesterday as I realized how much I struggle with those that miss assignments… no I am not talking about the classroom (even though that applies as well.)
·         I am talking about the player that is given a job to do in the huddle and goes onto the floor and totally misses it… the guy I end up screaming at… “I gave you one thing to do… set the pick… and you missed it!”
·         I am talking about the kid that is given a job to do at home and later responds, “I forgot”… and there I am… “I gave you one thing to do… take out the trash…  and you missed it!”
·         Or the sign-holder I saw yesterday at a charity car wash that was not even facing oncoming traffic, instead choosing to hold his sign close to his chest as he watched the others washing a car… it was everything I could do to not turn my van around and stop, roll down the window, and say… “You were given one job to do… hold the sign to attract traffic… and you missed it!”

And in each situation I would love to simply look at them and scream, “Are you kidding me?” And I am sure I would add a few sentences of disgust…

Then I think of Jesus and wonder how often he would love to scream at His children, “Are you kidding me?” I think of the disciples in the garden. Jesus has just served them by washing their feet. He has just told them of a betrayer and warned them that they would be unfaithful and deny Him. (And we know that Peter vehemently denied that.. you would think that night at least Peter would be on his best behavior…) And then the boys follow Jesus into the garden area of Gethsemane. And Jesus gives them one job… “sit here her while I go and pray over there… stay here and watch with Me... watch and pray…

Yes it repeats itself because 3 different times Jesus looks over to find the boys sleeping… one job to do and they missed it! The final time He catches them He even asks, “Are you still sleeping and resting?” (See this encounter in Matthew 26-36-46) I picture Jesus with the kind demeanor of Coach Wooden or Coach Dungy (not with my “death-stare.”) I believe He was heart-broken for them because they were missing it… we know that Peter did go on to deny Jesus 3 times that day.. we know the disciples scattered and hid… and yet we also know Jesus lovingly restored and empowered them to rock the world with the news of the crucified and risen again Savior of the world!
Right now I ask you if you are busy about the job He left for you to do? Is the Great Commission truly the focus of your life? Is the Great Commandment to love God and others truly the pattern of your life?

If not I would be asking it this way, “Are you kidding me? He gave you a mission, why aren’t you doing it?”

Jesus is much more loving than me (again I am working on it..) He asks, “Are you still sleeping and resting? …rise let us be going…” He simply wants you to know that it is time to do what is right, right where you are, right now!

Can you tell I just came out of a mission conference reminding me of our call?

Monday, April 13, 2015

April 13, 2015 - Your Swan Song (How do you want to go out?)

Well I’m gonna pick up this week where I left off last week… I still long to be great! This theme continued running through my head throughout the past week and kept popping up in reading I was doing; so I figure if the Holy Spirit continues to prompt me, I will continue to prompt you!

This week I want to focus on our legacy. What will you or I be remembered by? In sports it is very common to hear the talking heads discussing when someone should retire. Common thought is that the greats should retire while they are still great… “go out on a high note!” – have a great “swan song!” The ancient Greeks believed that swans, that were typically silent or not so musical, would sing a beautiful song just before their death; and thus we still talk about the ending of a career or a life as one’s “swan song.” So if you knew your time were coming to an end would your “swan song” be beautiful – be something to be remembered?

I love the country song “Live Like You Were Dyin’.” In it the lyrics state that if you knew your “game” was almost over you should make it a point to be adventurous and accomplish things you always wanted to do. The writer states, “I went sky diving; I went Rocky Mountain climbing; I went 2.7 seconds on a bull named FuManChu…” That is some kind of “swan song”! Yet there is a whole other part of the song that focuses not on the amazing things he did, but instead on the relationships in his life and realizing that the people in his life matter; therefore he also states he “loved deeper.. spoke sweeter… gave forgiveness.”

Jesus knew His “swan song” was upon Him. He was at the “last supper” with His disciples. Last week I closed out with a reminder of Him serving… He could have saved the feeding of the 5000 or raising Lazarus from the dead as part of His “swan song.” But instead in his final hours He:

·         Went floor diving (foot washing)
·         Went Golgotha climbing
·         Went 6 grueling hours on a cross named Calvary
·         And He even found time in the middle of that to pray for you and me… John 17:20 “I do not pray for these (disciples) alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word;”

So we see He also:
·         Loved deeper
·         Spoke sweeter
·         And gave forgiveness!

What a “swan song”! And of course we know that a few days later He did go out with a bang – it’s called the resurrection!

That is the pattern I long for; I want my earthly life to end not necessarily with preaching to the multitudes but in servanthood! I want my “swan song” to be remembered as one that loved and served deeper! And of course because of Jesus’ sacrifice I am assured ultimately to be resurrected – go out with a bang! (See 1 Corinthians 15:22)

Let’s Go MAD! Let’s make a difference in the world in which we live! When training at camps I often quote my friend Jason Otter and tell the players to “live low”; I do the same today to Christians, “Live low! Serve!”

Monday, April 6, 2015

April 6, 2015 - I Want To Be Great!

“Buy kids for what they’re worth and sell them for what their parents think they are worth.” Hall of Fame Basketball Coach Don Meyer

I laughed so hard when I heard those words come out of Coach’s mouth during a clinic. It amazed me that even he as a college coach was dealing with calls from parents to play their kids more. It amazed me when I was still coaching how many parents never bothered to ask why their kid wasn’t playing and instead assumed that I was playing favorites and cheating their kids…

Well the reality was that I did have favorites. I loved the kids that worked hard! I loved the kids that cared about the team! I loved the kids that bought into the game plan! I loved the kids that were willing to do what was asked of them (even if it didn’t result in glory)!

[Don’t get me wrong – I also loved the kids that didn’t do those things – I just didn’t play them!]

To be honest I was reminded of these things this morning as I was sweeping up some confetti from our church’s Easter party this weekend. Man, did we celebrate the resurrection!  There was a great message, incredible music, balloons, streamers, confetti cannons, etc. Man, did we have a mess left over! (…enough that one of the guys helping clean this morning brought the blower into the auditorium to ease the process.)

As I bent over to pick up a few pieces I flashed back to the patio of one of our buildings at Florida Bible College. I was a freshman working in the high school outreach and looking forward to the times I would speak and sing at the rallies; and there I was on the patio picking up cups after vacuuming the room we had met in. I remember thinking I should be in more of a “starring role” on the “team.” Shortly after that my pastor, Gordon Rhoden, shared his testimony of working in youth outreaches and learning to “pick up cups to the glory of God.” He had learned to play his role and buy into the game plan; and I needed to learn the same. I can clearly remember learning to clean up with a purpose… and this morning I whispered a prayer to God that I would glorify Him in my efforts.

To be honest there are still days that I find myself trying taking inventory of who I am and what role I am “playing” on the “team.” At times my pride leads me to think I should be in a more prominent role… making more money… driving the Jeep Wrangler of my dreams… etc. And then after this morning’s flashback, I sat down in my office doing some reading and was reminded of this passage: Matthew 20

Let me set the scene: in verse 20 the mother of James and John (the sons of Zebedee) approaches Jesus and in verse 21 ask Him to elevate her sons’ status above the others. (Even Jesus had to deal with overzealous parents.) Basically Jesus lets her know that she doesn’t really know what she is asking. And then the Scriptures record that the other apostles were irked by this, as they undoubtedly wanted to be in “starring roles.” (See verse 24)

Jesus then goes on to tell them that he understands the world seeks power and glory but the secret to being great in the kingdom…

26 Yet it shall not be so among you; but whoever desires to be great among you, let him be your slave - 27 Just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.

(And I can’t help but think of the story where the Apostles are debating who will be greatest in the kingdom and Jesus rises from the Last Supper and proceeds to take the role of a servant by washing their feet…  Commentator John Morris wrote that they were “ready to fight for a throne, but not for a towel!”)

Bottom line is that I want to be great! I don’t want to be a “benchwarmer”! Yet I must understand that it comes through kneeling in service not in standing on platforms! I want to faithfully and clearly share when given a platform; while being content to pick up confetti…