Monday, December 28, 2015

December 28, 2015 - Do What Is Right, Right Now!

Here we are winding down another year and as always a new year brings thoughts of new beginnings and resolutions… it’s a “new game”; it brings hopes that who we are at the end of 2016 will be better than how are ending 2015.

So in light of the “new game” that is upon us I thought I would give a bit of a pre-game pep talk to get us ready. You see a coach always knows there are things to learn from and improve on. I love watching the reporters when they interview coaches after a big win; they always make a remark about how the coach is never satisfied, and they are right. We need to learn to be content but always should be striving to move forward.

There is a fine line between forgetting the last game and learning from it. We definitely don’t want to dwell in the past but instead use it to be better in the future. So a coach evaluates and shares with the team many different aspects:

·         What we did right / how we can improve on it / will it work with the next opponent we face
·         What we did wrong / how we can avoid it / will we face similar pressure from the next opponent
·         Was the last game a complete effort

But the problem with preparing for a future opponent is that we don’t know the variables:

·         Will they run the same offense / defense they normally do
·         What players may be injured for them / or for us
      ·         How will the refs call the game

As a coach I have found that, although I like seeing us ahead on a scoreboard, I try not to coach to the scoreboard. What I mean by that is that I don’t determine our success by the scoreboard. Yes we pursue the win (which is the point of playing a game that keeps score); but we realize that the quality of the opponent can make the scoreboard an unreliable gauge.
So how does this coaching mumbo-jumbo relate to a devotion for the upcoming year?

First a simple truth… don’t make all your resolutions be about the scoreboard! If all you are concerned with is health, wealth, and happiness I warn you that there are many variables that you cannot control. (i.e. Injury, illness, market crashes, boneheaded decisions by others, etc.) I am not saying we shouldn’t strive for greater things, just that we should keep it in proper perspective.

For example, at the beginning of 2015 I found myself in horrible physical shape. It didn’t help that I was in FL (as I am now) visiting family and every time I went to the beach people were trying to rescue me by push me back out to sea… I decide that I needed to diet and get my weight under control! For half of “the game” I played “slow down” offense at meal time; the results were amazing as I was losing a ton of weight. Around “half-time” the pace of the game started to change as we hit the road for our summer ministry tour. The great things was that I could “speed up” even at meal time because I found myself able to run a little more and even amp up my time on the court a little bit. But then the unexpected happened and by the end of the “3rd quarter” found myself injured and unable to run / play; and unfortunately I failed to “slow down the offense” at the table as I had done early in “the game” and the result was truly an “offensive game.” I lost over 50 lbs. during the first 3 quarters of 2015, only to re-locate 20 of them in this last quarter… Therefore gotta tweak the “game plan” for 2016.

John Wooden realized as a coach that he couldn’t always account for the opponent so he typically didn’t even scout them. He decided that being the best they could be at what they do was enough; and that if another team happened to be better on the scoreboard one night, so be it! In fact he didn’t define success by things at the end of the season like wins, losses, or even championships; he defined it by the daily pursuit of being one’s best.

Here are a couple of maxims I use in training:
·         When I look in the mirror at the end of the day what do I see - a tired but proud and victorious look that is a result of hard work and accomplishment - or the tired defeated look of a quitter?
·         When I lie down at night what do I feel - the physical pain that is a result of hard work and accomplishment or the emotional pain of a quitter? (The first one goes away very quickly; the latter leads to a lifetime of regret!)

In 2016 I hope that you win each day! Do that by being prepared for whatever the “opponent” throws at you… how do you do that? Commit to daily resolutions not yearly resolutions:

·         Daily time in the Word!
·         Daily time in prayer!
·         Daily time in serving others (physically and spiritually)

In fact, why wait until 2016? That would be wasting a few days… start today! You only have today to Go MAD (Make A Difference)!

James 4:13-17 (The Message) is very to the point on simply doing what is right in the now…

“And now I have a word for you who brashly announce, ‘Today – at the latest tomorrow – we’re off to such and such a city for the year. We’re going to start a business and make a lot of money.’ You don’t know the first thing about tomorrow. You’re nothing but a wisp of fog, catching a brief bit of sun before disappearing. Instead, make it a habit to say, ‘If the Master wills it and we’re still alive, we’ll do this or that.’ As it is, you are full of your grandiose selves. All such vaunting self-importance is evil. In fact, if you know the right thing to do and don’t do it, that, for you, is evil.”

Win the day! Make today a success! (And you will find at the end of the year you will have done great things!) Do what is right, right now!

Sunday, December 20, 2015

December 21, 2015 - Substitution Patterns

As a coach of a 5/6 grade basketball team I am finding one of my greatest challenges is my substitution pattern. I am trying to make sure all the girls get good playing time while also leaving the right mix in to help the inexperienced girls truly learn the game by being put in the position to succeed…

God looked at the game of life and determined the perfect time to send in the Sub… this past week I wrote a devotion for our staff at the school and decided I would share it with you since it truly shows a perfect Substitution pattern! I hope you can learn something this week and are encouraged by God’s perfect timing…

Merry CHRISTmas to you! ...
I love teaching and sharing at this time of year because of the incredible truths found in the CHRISTmas story.

* The promises of "a Savior" and of "peace and goodwill toward men" that are found in Luke 2 with the message to the angels...

* The song of Mary found in Luke 1 that shares how Mary felt to know that the God of the universe took notice of her (vs 48)...

* The genealogies of Christ... (wait a minute, genealogies are incredible truths?)

Stick with me for just a minute... First, think about the Gospel. It is the promise that in spite of our "blood curse" from sin, God still planned and provided a way for us to be adopted into His family. Through the substitutionary death of Christ we, when we place our faith in His finished work on the cross and through His resurrection, are then seen with His righteousness and thus adopted into God's family as one of His own! (2 Corinthians 5:21)

Now the what does the genealogy of Christ have to do with that? Glad you asked...

I the book of Luke we see that through Mary's line Christ can be traced back to King David through David's eldest son Nathan; and David had received a promise in 2 Samuel 7:12-13 that his throne would not only be established but would endure forever. So Christ is a direct descendant of David but the problem is that the throne-line did not go through Nathan but had been granted through Solomon...

Matthew shows us the genealogy of Christ through Joseph and it too runs back to King David, but this time through Solomon! That would seem to seal the deal for Christ's rightful place on the throne of Israel... but there is a glitch. Matthew 1:11 mentions a king named Jecoiachin, in some places referred to as simply Coniah, and some spellings referred to as Jeconiah. In Jeremiah 22:30 we see that this king was evil and had a curse on his blood line that they would not prosper or see the throne... yet after his death we see that God makes a promise to Jehoiachin's grandson Zerubbabel (governor in Judah) that there is still hope and a plan... (See Haggai 2:21-23)

The name Jehoiachin literally means that "God will establish!" In spite of the evil of Jehoiachin and the blood curse of separation from the throne, God still was at work and provided a solution. Jesus was born in the line of the throne yet ADOPTED by Joseph and thus not carrying the blood curse of Jehoiachin!

Jesus is the only man that has ever lived that could rightfully claim the throne as His genealogy places Him in the right family tree... His virgin birth qualifies Him as the sinless Savior and the rightful King!

How cool is that? God will (has) established our needs through ADOPTION into His family!!! (And how cool it is to see the intricacies of the Scriptures!)

Monday, December 14, 2015

December 14, 2015 - The Star of the Show

Have you ever heard about an up and coming player and couldn’t wait to see him or her in action, only to get to the gym or turn on the tv and be totally unimpressed?

I remember back to a time when I was coaching a family duo that was lighting up the scoreboards and the newspaper articles. One of the brothers was a 10th grader and the other a 7th grader and both (since we were at a private school where it was possible) were tearing up the varsity high school scene and a local news crew out of charlotte came to do a human interest type piece on the boys. As they arrived the reporter set up with us in our weight room and interviewed the boys and me about the season up to that point… and then it came game time.

This is where it is now a bit funny (but wasn’t that night.) Both boys stunk it up that night, so much so that the next day as I spoke with the reporter on the phone he claimed they “lost the tape.” Let’s just say the reporter was very underwhelmed… (Sorry to tell on you Colby and Tyler… but I will make sure we account for the fact that Colby was all-state that year in 2A schools and Tyler went on to be a McDonalds All-American a few years later... so I bet that reporter wishes he could “find” that tape to make something out of it.)

All of that to say that when we get our hopes up high it is easy to be let down; and when we are let down hang in there because the truth has a way of rising to the surface…

One of the reasons many religious folks scoff at Jesus, and why many of the Jewish people rejected Him as Messiah was because He didn’t meet their expectations in the present and they fail to allow for what was the truth that would rise to the surface…

A couple thousand years ago God humbly took on flesh in the form of a baby born to poor folks from a small town and laid in a feeding trough… the first audience to this “King” consisted of animals followed by some low class shepherds… It was a “silent night” with no crowd noise. (Every year I go back to one of my favorite Christmas songs we used to sing on our tours, “Isn’t It Amazing How He Came?” with the words that “there were no fanfares played or jubilant displays.”) He lived an unassuming yet sinless life only to find a place to die on the Cross of Calvary… but wait for it… wait for it… wait for it… “up from the grave He arose, with a mighty triumph o’er His foes!” (Love that old song too!)

We know the story that in spite of the humble beginnings of Christ there was a spotlight in the form of a star that lit the way for those that are wise enough to seek Him… and here is the awesome thing: I’ve read the end of the book and it reveals who is the real Star of the show… Revelation 22

16 “I, Jesus, have sent My angel to testify to you these things in the churches. I am the Root and the Offspring of David, the Bright and Morning Star.”
17 And the Spirit and the bride say, “Come!” And let him who hears say, “Come!” And let him who thirsts come. Whoever desires, let him take the water of life freely.

Merry CHRISTmas to you from InBounds Ministries and Team Burden!

Monday, December 7, 2015

December 7, 2015 - Solid Fundamentals

It is almost funny how clearly at times the Lord confirms what I should be writing about…let me go back to where this week’s thoughts began.

Tonight as I finished coaching two 5th/6th grade games I was on the bus back home and analyzing the games. Our boys’ team had a rough go of it and it seemed to be entirely due to the need to learn the fundamentals better. They worked incredibly hard but clearly need to work on the basics of ball handling, passing, catching, shooting, boxing out… I know that sounds like I am being harsh to point out all of the fundamentals, but when the pressure comes (which the other team brought) the “fundamentals are the anchor that will hold in the storm!” (Quoting myself from our Total Player Academy clinics)

Bottom line: We all want to do well! We all want to succeed! We all want to rise above!
Truth in the bottom line: We will all face a tremendous amount of pressure in our pursuit of excellence!

 So how do we handle the pressure? We need to master the fundamentals! We need to be equipped to the point that the fundamentals are natural to us… that we are anchored to them or rooted in them.

Spiritually speaking I want to remind you that the world is full of pressure! Are you rooted and grounded in the fundamentals? Are you actively studying the Word? (I’ll even throw in a plug for the importance of intentional fundamental training to the point of considering a year or more at a Bible college… that may sound extreme to some but the reality is that this life is full of serious pressures.)

Now to why I started the devotion the way I did… As I arrived home and sat down at my computer I saw a post on a social network from one of dear friends that simply had Scripture on it. The verses were Colossians 2:6-7: As you have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, rooted and built up in Him and established in the faith, as you have been taught, abounding in it with thanksgiving.

How do you handle pressure? If you struggle may I suggest you need to get back to the fundamentals a bit more? Did you see it in the verses? Rootedestablishedas you have been taught… solid in the Word!

Are you adequately trained? Let’s make sure we are ready to face the pressure…