Monday, November 30, 2015

November 30, 2015 - Controlled Freedom

Tomorrow I will coach a game with a team of 5th and 6th grade girls… some of which have never played basketball before. One tendency of youth basketball coaches is to teach set plays that dictate where each player moves and when they move there…

Me on the other hand… I prefer players to have some freedom to make decisions (and in turn have some joy in their play.) To some that sounds crazy; how could I allow admittedly inexperienced / ignorant players the freedom to make their own decisions?

I do give a basic plan for what we will run on offense. There is a preset pattern we work off of but I constantly tell the players that I trust them and want them looking for opportunities to “dive” to the basket to score. I am more concerned with them learning that the goal is getting open to score, not following the choreography perfectly. This is how players learn to get a “feel for the game” and are not just robots. When everything is tightly choreographed it is more like robots are on the floor. I’ve seen some players that will run to a spot to set a pick and there is not even a defender there to set the pick on.

The patterns we run are designed to help the players be in a position for success. The design is in place to help players avoid being in the wrong place. So it is in essence a controlled freedom…

It is true that in Christ we are free. It is true that we are no longer under law but under grace. Yet it is also true that even though all things are lawful, not all things are profitable. (See 1 Corinthians 10:23) Are the things you are doing helping you find openings to “score” with the proclamation of the Gospel? Are they helping you “score” in living out the “game plan” of Scripture? Or are there things you are doing that are simply for your own interests and not based upon loving God and loving others?

We need to be careful to not allow freedom to get us away from the “game plan.” In the book I am currently reading (Facing Goliath by JP Jones) there is a challenging/thinking story…

In a nutshell it shares about a glass manufacturer that is looking to hire a delivery driver that would be responsible for getting the product across the mountain, via a winding one lane road, to the neighboring town for sales. He asks the two drivers he interviewed “How close to the edge of the cliff do you think you could drive without falling off?”

The first guy answered that he is an excellent driver and could drive within 6 inches of the edge, at speed, without falling off. The second guy said that he too was a good driver and he could drive close to the edge; but that if responsible for delivery he would drive close to the mountain not the edge.

The second guy was hired…

God has given you some freedom. Are you careful with the “cargo” you have been entrusted with? Are you avoid the needless chances of “falling off the edge of the cliff”?

God has called us to “controlled freedom” that cares about carrying the Gospel and the truth of the Word to others… be careful that things you choose to do are not risking delivery…

1 Thessalonians 2:4 “But as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the Gospel…”

Monday, November 23, 2015

November 23, 2015 - In Basketball Size Matters!

In the game of basketball size matters… and that is why college coaches and commentators all love to discuss the height and length of players (or adversely the lack thereof…) It was very glaring as I watched my favorite player yesterday. Tyler Lewis does not have the physical presence to impress opponents, commentators, or fans… yet is a starting division 1 point guard. All reports on him at some point mention his lack of size and an assumption that he cannot play defense.
In yesterday’s game against Miami he was facing a very long and athletic team with an opposing guard that got hot. Every time the opponent hit a shot over Tyler the commentators mentioned that Tyler is simply too small to guard him; yet every time the kid hit a shot over other players the commentators praised what a great scorer and big game player the kid is…

(Funny insert, as I type this I am watching a game and the commentators are talking about how much length the team has that just got a steal…)

So back to Tyler’s situation… According to the commentators when the Miami player scored on Tyler it was because Tyler is too small; when the same player scored on other players it was because of how good the player is???? Tyler ended up being taken out (and honestly wasn’t having a great offensive game) but I thought he was staying in good defensive position; the other kid just hit shots. And yes, at Tyler’s size there will be times that bigger players can just shoot over him even when he is in good position. Size does make a difference.

What was really funny to me was one time that the Miami kid drove in for a lay-up the commentator made the remark that “Lewis needs help; he can’t hold this kid.” You may wonder why that is funny to me? Well, Tyler was on the bench at the time and still got blamed for it… 

I’m not worried about Tyler! He has “faced giants” all of his life and he will respond like a champ!

But it is a great physical picture of a truth we all face… there are giants in the land! We all face “giants” that are trying to destroy us in our spiritual game of life. The enemy puts things before us to try to intimidate us or even take us out…

I’m reading a book called Facing Goliath by JP Jones. The tag on the title is “How A Man Overcomes His Giants To Follow Christ.” Obviously the text he is basing his book off of it the story of David vs Goliath. He points out some very important things…

1.       The Israelites were “dismayed and terrified”! (1 Samuel 17:11)

2.       When Goliath started toward David that David “ran quickly toward the battle line to meet him!” (vs 48)

Jones gets into some specific “Goliaths” that men face in life. They are things such as fear, pride, doubt, etc. So far it is a really good read. And this week’s devo is not to deal with a specific “Goliath” but to encourage you that you can face it!

Yes the “Goliath” is big… bigger than you or me. Our response can  be like the Israelites where we shrink in fear or like David’s where we overcome. One of my favorite stories in the book is Jones recounting a conversation with his daughter. She had watched a scary movie and was scared to go to bed for fear of nightmares. Jones had her read the story of David and Goliath and then started asking her some questions…

Ashton: They were afraid to fight.

JP: Do you know why?

Ashton: Goliath looked too big.

JP: Were the Israelites looking at God, or were they looking at Goliath?

Ashton: They were looking at Goliath.

JP: What about David? Who did he look at?

Ashton: He looked at God.
I’m not sure what you are facing as you read this. It may be big and size does matter; but I know that God is bigger!!!


Monday, November 16, 2015

November 16, 2015 - Learning the Offense

Last week I began a new journey in my coaching life as I took on both a boys and a girls 5th and 6th grade team. The first week wasn’t a big stretch as we ran it more like the clinics I typically direct all over the world; yet in those clinics I teach fundamental skills and very little time is spent developing an understanding of actually playing the game. Today I actually started trying to teach a team offense…

From an experienced basketball player’s/coach’s perspective it is not a stretch. We are running a 5-out motion where we simply screen away (if the pass goes to the wing screen across; if it goes to the top screen down.) For some you are thinking, “that’s really basic.” Others are thinking, “what in the world are you talking about?” And honestly those were the responses from my kiddos… Everything from let’s speed this up to let’s slow this down… It is having an awareness of where one is at and where one is going…

Bottom line is that as a coach I have a vision of what we can do and how we can do it; yet that takes time and commitment to learning… to the point of this becoming natural.

Just reminded me of the extreme need we have to be in the Word on a regular basis allowing it to transform us to where the supernatural becomes our natural…

God’s Word calls itself a  “lamp unto our feet and a light unto our path”… In other words it shows us clearly where we are at and gives us clarity on where we are going.  It is not just about the future but also the now. It is helping see the trail but also helps see if we are already “stepping in it” and if so get out of it and clean our shoes…

God cares about where you are at and where you are going… He is on your side… get in His “Playbook” and learn the “offense.”


Monday, November 9, 2015

November 9, 2015 - Team Chemistry

On Sunday nights we (InBounds) have been hosting a gathering called The Arena; our motto is Today We LIVE! (We Love Intentionally Value Everyone) Bottom line with this group of people is that we want to real/authentic as we grow together. We understand that this includes the exciting times as well as the down times… we choose to live life together.

Simply put we want to be a team! We want to “gel together” and find team “chemistry.” We want to pursue a common goal; we want to encourage and build each other up; if I stumble I want to know they are there to “pick me up.”

I hope you each have found a “missional group” to do life with! I stated the bottom line for The Arena… now let’s bring it back to the Playbook..

1 Peter 3:8-9 To sum it up, all of you be harmonious, sympathetic, brotherly, kindhearted, and humble in spirit, not returning evil for evil or insult for insult, but giving a blessing instead; for you were called for the very purpose that you might inherit a blessing. (NASV)

Monday, November 2, 2015

November 2, 2015 - Showing Off Your Strength

We are in the 15th year of me writing these weekly devotions and there has only been a time or two that I have utilized someone else's writing... this week will be one of those times...

In life we come across teammates that are like-minded; in this case a dear friend from my home church that loves sports, understands grace, loves living out the Great Commission via the Great Commandment, and can tie the Playbook (Bible) in using sports themes... Enjoy this daily devotion from the Proverbs as written by Quinton "Q" Williams of LifePoint Church in Albertville Alabama (you can catch more of Q's ponderings on his blog:

November 2

“He grants a treasure of good sense to the godly.  He is their shield, protecting those who walk with integrity." Proverbs 2:7
Man I love shields. Sometimes I walk around and pretend I have a shield on my arm and sword in the other hand. When you study the Spartans, their greatest weapon was their shield.  It is the quintessential defensive tool but it can also be used as an offensive weapon. I mean look at Captain America. Shield mastery.
The shield Solomon is talking about is wisdom and the way to ensure you are protected with wisdom is integrity. In old farmer talk, “No one believes what you say unless you act like you say.” We can spout all the wisdom we like, but if we aren’t walking in integrity we are just kidding ourselves.  
I remember walking into the college weight room for the first time. I couldn’t wait to work out with the other guys and try to show off my strength.  I wanted to impress all my new teammates. As I walked in the first thing I saw was a sign hanging above the mirrors that said, “your level of greatness is determined by your level of integrity.” Our coaches went on to explain that if we were going to be great players it would happen in the weight room while no one else was watching. It would happen on the field when the crowds were gone. It would happen in our beds looking over play books.  
C.S. Lewis said, “Integrity is doing the right thing, even when no one is watching.”
Don’t try to carry the shield of wisdom without integrity. It won’t work. Live each day doing the right thing, even when it’s the hard thing. When we do this, wisdom falls on us and we don’t even know it. The wisest men in my life are not the richest or most “successful.” They are the men who’ve treated people right day in and day out while the crowds were gone.
Much love,